This past weekend, I spent time on another round of de-cluttering, since it was cold and snowy. Though Marie Kondo claims that one can tidy in a one-time special event for a period of a few weeks or months, I believe it is more of an annual or seasonal ritual for me at minimum.
January is a great time to do this. After the holidays, we have accumulated more things. Some of those things we might use; other things we might want to gratefully pass them along to someone else via donation. The purpose of those things was to be received, and to convey care from the giver. Possessing them for longer than needed creates an unnecessary burden.
For me, what accumulates is usually clothing and books. Oh, and since I did not entirely finish the “komono” clearing before (random odds and ends) I am still working through that. So many decisions!
Last month my yoga book club group focused on Saucha,or purity, the first of the 5 Niyamas, observances that make up part of the ethical guidelines. Part of this practice is to purify our bodies through healthy food and exercise. Another part of it involves taking care of the space around us, so we are not weighed down by excess possessions.
After dropping off some bags of clothing and shoes I no longer wear, a few household items and a bag of books, I felt immediately lighter. I felt less weighed down, buoyed by fresh energy after letting go of these items that were encroaching upon my space. I still have work to complete. But this flying start was such a nice reminder of the boost that comes from Outer Order (with credit to Gretchen Rubin, who has also inspired me this month via Audible).
Where might you purify your body, your space, or your thoughts? You might be amazed at the energy that’s released by letting go.
Speech is silver; silence is golden, goes the saying. Though the second half is the more remembered according to the Literary Devices site.
Tonight my husband was thirsting for some silence, and I was sitting in the dining room on my laptop, oblivious to this fact. He had his phone in hand, and was sort of half-listening to me (or at least that was what I perceived).
When he does this while I am trying to actually connect with him, it drives me crazy. But because I was kind of wound up from a busy day, and thoughts of needing to “fit everything in” before I return to a full time work schedule, I was multi-tasking. I was talking off and on, not very aware of how much I was blathering on, while trying to get 3 other things done on my computer.
Even for those of us with variable attention, who juggle many tasks fairly well (more than the average person), there is a limit. Going beyond the limit does not typically end well.
In our case, it touched off a sensitive subject for me. He pointed out that I was talking a lot (it had been a hard day for him) and it was too much for him. I didn’t respond well at first. It triggered a “shame storm” of my own memories of being silenced in other settings: in my family, in various workplaces and at other times.
So I did my best to respond mindfully and I asked him to tell me more. I had gotten a little teary and “raw” at the story that I was making up: that he doesn’t care what I have to say. In reality, he only wanted what I’ve been giving myself every morning: quiet time upon arriving home, to wind down and transition into the evening. (In my case, it is quiet time in the morning to transition to into my activities).
I realized I had been glued to my computer for the afternoon, in full-on “work mode” even after he arrived home. I had not done my usual “shut down ritual” for the day, creating space between work brain and home brain, and taking my work stuff out of the dining room (adjacent to the living room).
His request was reasonable. I asked him: “when I do talk mindlessly or forget that you need some quiet wind-down time, what are ways you can remind me of this in a non-shaming way?”
We decided on something humorous. A former co-worker of mine used to stand at my cube on Friday afternoons and chat with me while I was trying to wrap up the week and leave. This used to drive me crazy, because I did not know how to politely ask her to leave me alone so I could finish and go home.
Hubby is going to call me by that name when I’m not sensing that he needs quiet. I shall refrain from naming the person. I am pretty sure they did not do this on purpose, and may just have been lonely.
The irony of all of this is that one of the values my coach, Elizabeth Dickinson, had helped me uncover was that of “personal space.” What that means to me: plenty of time for solitude, quiet and “deep work” time, along with time and space to listen to my podcasts and shift my energy as necessary to a just right stimulus. It is harder to achieve that in cubicle-land when we do not have an office with a door.
Soon I will return to a setting where I will have a cube again, and have been trying to consider how to access personal space. I am hoping that in an academic environment at a University, some closed-door time and deep work will be honored, even for staff who are not professors. Maybe in a conference room? But I am not sure. If any of my readers have advice and/or thoughts on this topic, I welcome your feedback. Clearly there will be a part 2 to this reflection, as I have just scratched the surface on this topic.
Is silence or solitude golden to you? How do you carve out those spaces in your workplace if you do not have an office?
This week I have the privilege of enjoying some time near Lake Superior. My friend is attending a conference and I will be caring for her two kitties (one of which is pictured below) while she is away.
It was lovely to have some time to catch up with her for a day and a half or so before she leaves. It struck me how similar our career pivots have been in recent years. She is about 5 years ahead me. And while she left a tenured professor position at a University and I left a corporate position, I can tell we have some “threads” in common.
For one, we are finding that recruiters and hiring managers do not always “get” what to do with our experience. As knowledge workers, we often specialize in a particular area for a period of time, say 10-15 years. But then some of us get an “itch” to extend our skills, to stretch outside our comfort zones, or maybe to find work that speaks to our souls. Perhaps we found ourselves living someone else’s idea of success. At the time, it made sense to take that road, to fully immerse ourselves in an area of expertise. And then suddenly (or gradually) we grow out of it.
Many people think we are crazy. “Why the hell would you leave a secure job as a professor (or a clinical research operations manager, in my case)?”
Futurists often tell us that the work place is changing. We should expect to make major career moves every 5-10 years. It keeps us nimble, fresh and innovative. But the reality is that structurally, recruitment and sourcing professionals are not hiring this way. It is still about “ticking the boxes” and following a formulaic approach to look for talent, sadly.
My own timeline is such that I will likely head back to full time work soon, probably within the next month or two. I was feeling sad about this a few weeks ago, wondering if I had failed at this attempt at self-employment because I had not planned well enough. I had not narrowed down my niche properly perhaps, or I may thrive under conditions where I have a bit more structure than this wide open landscape.
However it is not failure if we learn from our experiences. And this time I will go back to the drawing board understanding myself better. I know more about the support I need to be productive. I have piloted and tested some ideas and workshop offerings. I have enrolled in yoga teacher training. I am moving forward.
Even if I do need to regroup and re-capitalize a bit, the dream endures. This retreat is an opportunity to go inward to get clear about my deepest longings. I am so grateful for the time and space for this process.