Sunday, October 30, 2011

feel the stress

How busy are you?  Do you race around with a to do list a mile long, one eye on the clock, one hand on the phone, the other on the steering wheel?  Do you ever feel like you are not doing a good enough job?

And how come other people who seem to be as equally busy as you...maybe more so, never seem to get stressed at all?  They sail through, confidently checking emails, and calendars and answering calls all the while cooking nutritious meals for their families and keeping the house clean, not a grey hair or wrinkle in sight? (eerm no...not me, not quite;))

I have come to the conclusion that stress is not necessarily related to busy-ness. It is however, all about our values.  So when we are busy, as long as we are happy with being busy, feel like we are achieving at the pace and standards we want to, we won't be stressed.

So it follows then, that in periods of high stress, the answer might be to simply stop what we're doing and examine which part of our live is causing the pain.  The answer to being busy might not actually be slowing down - it might be staying busy but lessening the things we are committed to.  It might mean making a deliberate effort to lower a particular standard, or change a deadline.

I work best under pressure.  If there's a deadline I work to it, in just-in-time fashion.  I guess I work well with all the adrenaline!  But that's different to stress.  Stress is when I feel out of control - like I am either going to let myself, or someone else down.  When that happens, I go into methodical mode.  Tasks are mentally prioritised and ticked off.  As each thing is complete it is posted, or packed or put out of my mind.  Leaving space for the next.  And this is also allowing me to be true to my values of timeliness and results.

What stresses you?  Do you see a link between values and stress?

Thanks PM for the inspiration for this one:)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween vs All Hallows

I have spent many a post discussing my tussles with my faith.  This year has certainly been one of questioning, challenging and evaluating (and that's just from within!).

And this weekend is Hallowee'n.      Rather than dismiss the whole occasion out of hand I felt it important to get a little more knowledge in order to make an informed decision.  There's so much conflicting information to be found about this (though Google and Wiki are two of my closest friends, in this case they have not been so loyal).

After a fair amount of reading (well, skimming really), I feel no clearer.  Whilst it seems fairly obvious that the celebration has it's roots in Christianity (All Saints Day), there is just too much that is close to darkness for comfort for me.  I like that some churches have chosen to make a clear separation and reclaim Halloween as a Christian celebration.

But as much as I loathe Trick or Treating (glorifed begging as far as I'm concerned), I am not entirely convinced that a Light Party is that much better...a church scrapes together all the money it can, and then as an alternative to guising (ie trick or treating) children can come along and be given the same ''high quality'' lollies and have a couple of hours of free entertainment.  Where's the Christian celebration in that I ask?

I am going to a party tomorrow night with Halloween theme.  I'm taking it lightly - dressing up but not as a ghost or ghoul.  The organisers have, partly as a result of a conversation with me, changed some of their decorations, as they are conscious of not wanting to offend or scare anyone (which demonstrates huge integrity I think, considering their religious leanings...or not).

I am most interested in an event being held in Australia this weekend:

What are your feelings about Halloween?  Religious occasion, too close to darkness, American sensationalism or something else?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

does my bum look big in this?

Human beings are programmed to seek approval.  We want people to LIKE us.  We want to feel needed, wanted, desired.

And we will go to all kinds of lengths to get that approval.  The way we dress, the car we drive, the food and drinks we consume.  A career path, a parenting style, the place we choose to live.

You'd think, that with so many different places to go to get 'fulfilled'' we'd be all walking around loved up and  giving it all back right?  so how come most of us feel like we are on a mouse-wheel to happiness?

There's plenty of material out there telling us how to find inner peace...or to be satisfied with our lives...or to live happily with less.  We buy the books and download the podcasts but it's still not quite enough...

Does having approval make us feel safe? Or loved?  Who's approval matters most?

Who's approval do you seek and why?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

circles of influence

I am fascinated at how circular our world is.  We move in the same circles throughout our lives, bumping up against the same people time after time, and only just missing others by days or metres.  Sure there's the obvious things - like shared interests or mutual friends, but I am amazed by how often one or two people turn up in more than one of these eddies of connection.

I have recently come into contact with someone whom I have never met in person but have about a dozen connections in common with (over several different groups of people).  We have a number of shared interests and life experiences and yet have never physically crossed paths.  There have been a few occasions over the past several years when we may have had opportunity to meet but for some reason it has never come to pass.

Is this co-incidence?  Fate?  Fluke?  Bad timing...good timing?  Just as well...?

Much as a good novel draws together seemingly unconnected people, I love to see how each of us has the potential to share a section of each others lives and experiences.  It reminds me that the world is a big place, but also a village, where each of us has the potential to draw from and share from each other.

Even if we never actually meet in person.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's your name again?

There's one thing in life that absolutely drives me crazy (well actually there's several but today it's the turn of...)

People who get my name wrong.

I have never, ever had my name shortened.  I have never really even had a nickname.  I have never changed the way my name is pronounced.  My name is Susan.  Not Sue.  Not Suzy.  Not Suzanne.  (oh and not Sharon either, as I often get).

I am astounded at how often I introduce myself as Susan and get a response - oh nice to meet you Sue! Excuse me?  Did I say my name was Sue?  I really don't think Susan is difficult to pronounce or remember - or spell for that matter!    Usually I correct people - because although it might be slightly awkward for them to have it pointed out that they got it wrong  I have decided that this is probably the only thing ever in my life that I am going to own and not have to change, amend or alter for anyone else.  So you can empathise I am sure, when, upon saying, actually it's Susan, not Sue, I am gobsmacked by how often later in the conversation the person will continue to call me Sue.  To me it's rude.  It's a different name to me - I don't see it as a derivative. 

I see nicknames as endearments.  In other words, until I know someone well enough to use one I wouldn't. And I consider a shortened name a nickname.  Now if I am introduced to someone by a shortened version that's a whole different story, but I'm talking here about voluntarily changing a name myself without getting permission of it's owner!

Am I being inflexible and judgemental?  Are you a name shorten er? Or have a habit of mispronouncing - whatever the reason?  

Frankly, I think the very least anyone can do is get someones name right.  Preferably the first time.   It's good business sense, it's good social etiquette and above all it's good manners.  You've been warned:)

Monday, October 10, 2011

the album launch

This weekend I had a brand new experience - I went to an album launch party.

Held in a fairly well known pub in town, the evening comprised of the band playing through the songs on the new album, and then some socialising while the CD played in the background.

Knowing the kind of music one of the band members plays (he's a friend of mine), I really wasn't sure what to expect but went with an open mind.  And it was fantastic!

Paul Symons is an incredibly talented songwriter and musician, and every song was a hit with the audience.  He had a few anecdotes to share about the lyrics of some, and many had a lot of truly 'kiwi lifestyle'' references in them - which made the music have a comfortable, familiar feel, even though the songs had never been heard in public before.   There were some clear influences in the music - shades of Greg Johnson set, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Jack Johnson - but the music was still unique and easy to listen to.

The band comprised of a drummer, steel guitar, double bass and Paul on acoustic (and sometimes electric) guitar.  All amazing musicians in their own right, and an absolute winner as a band.   How wonderful if this album was to be released widely in NZ and get airplay on some of the commercial radio stations.

You can find out more about Paul here:

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Monastery

By chance (or was it...) I picked up a book in a church library when visiting there for a work meeting.
Called 'Finding Sanctuary'', it was written by the Abbot of Worth Abbey, after an incredibly successful BBC series was filmed there.

You can find more information at :

At the beginning of the documentary the Abbot describes silence (a key aspect to Benedictine life) as a spiritual bath, that you can get into to relax your spiritual muscles .That has to be the best way I have ever heard a way of embarking on a spiritual journey described, and it motivated me to look at an episode in entirety...And so I have spent this afternoon watching the complete series on YouTube and found it absolutely compelling.  the warmth and human-ness of the monks, the fact that the BBC didn't make this some sensationalised or titillating bit of reality-TV, and that the programme is about the real struggles of real people and trying to make sense of the world.

The book is much the same - sure it deals with spiritual matters, but it's written in such accessible language and is so hands-on one could almost forget it's intention!  I've been dipping in and out - just like a warm bath, and finding each chapter leaves me just a little more relaxed, a little more at ease with my spiritual life and body.

Friday, October 07, 2011

strategic planning for people

I reckon that the same planning process that was used at my meeting yesterday would probably translate pretty well for the ordinary person.

Consider this: what if you could define and write down what your purpose in life was? In other words, what is your vision for your life, your reason for living, the thing you most want to leave as your legacy?
And then what if you could list your core values - the things you really believe and stand for, and try to live your life by?

How much easier would it be to make plans and set goals if you already had a life vision, and a set of guidelines!  Imagine the dream...apply the boundaries (ie does it fit my vision for my life, does it fit my values).  If it does, make the dream a plan...if it doesn't, start again, or find a redirection.

I think if we did this - and went back to it each year for evaluation, just like a business does (or should!), not only would our lives be simpler, more focussed, more DELIBERATE, but it would be so much easier to stay true to ourselves and reach the goals we really want to reach.

What is your purpose in life?  What are your values?  Do they match your hopes and dreams?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

the overflowing brain

Today I started a new job.  In many ways it's a bit of a dream job too - great hours, good pay, convenience location, uses my skill set, but still gives me room to grow.

And I am feeling a bit overwhelmed - as today was strategic planning day for the upcoming year.

The first challenging thing was that I was part of the process not facilitating it (a bit of a shift for me who is usually the one wielding the whiteboard marker!).  Which meant not only was I learning about this new organisation (being day one and all) but also that I was contributing to the goals and outcomes.  What a great way to start a job!

Secondly I was sitting with twelve almost strangers - the only people I knew were the facilitator, the two people who had interviewed me for the job, and the person I am replacing - and I have only met them once before!  So I felt like I had to be on my best behaviour and at the  sharp end of what was happening all day (so much for under promise and over deliver...)

Finally, by the end of the day it had transpired that a very big proportion of the goals set will be either driven by me, or I will be doing the actual work to make them happen.  That's a heck of a lot of pressure for a first day!

My mind is bursting.  I have a huge pile of mind maps, illustrations and flowcharts that need to be turned into a strategic plan document (my first job!) but I don't think my head is up to it tonight.

There's new technology to master, new computer programmes, new routines and procedures, a lot of people to establish relationships with, a website to overhaul, and big shoes to fill.

I am really excited about the challenges of the job...just as soon as I get enough room in my brain to process them!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

the ultimate blog challenge

I recently announced on Facebook that I was close, oh so close, to reaching 3000 views of my blog.  To me, this was a previously outrageous goal - in fact I was thinking that if I reached 1000 in the whole life of my blog I'd be a happy girl.

It must be said that my goals and in fact much of the content of this blog has evolved  - especially from it's beginnings 5 years ago (apparently blog years are like dog really it's a 35 year old blog...) and particularly as I've "caught my stride" over the past 6 months.

I like blogging.  I like the idea that maybe someone, somewhere might read my words and be challenged or inspired, or think ''gee she's just like me''.  I've become a vociferous reader of other blogs too, and have about 70 in google reader as well as a number of direct to email subscriptions.  I understand that for the most part, bloggers are not getting rich from their blogs - in fact most do it purely for the enjoyment of writing - but there is always that thought at the back of my mind that perhaps one day the book that is said to be in all of us might come to fruition in part as a result of diligent blogging!

Three months ago I started a second blog.  It's kind of anonymous due to the subject matter, and so now I furiously write for two.  Both in different styles on completely different topics, and yet I think perhaps my "voice" is clear in both.

For me, the challenge is about refining my style, my voice and my subject matter - especially for this blog.  I like knowing I'm part of something worldwide, even though we are all mostly lone voices sitting in front of our own laptops.

Come along for the ride - 30 days of blogging...and beyond:)  

Sunday, October 02, 2011

role modelling part 2

A slightly surreal feel to my day today.

The Dancing Queen decided she wanted to make her bedroom 'beautiful'.  Which means a pile of white towels with chocolates perched atop, at the end of the bed.  The pictures and mirrors moved around, and dresser top cleared.  It looks like a hotel mum!

Then the little engineer and I were invited into the room to play.  The desk was set up with her pretend laptop, a pad of paper.  A hat and glasses on the side.   We were invited to sit on the couch in her room.  She swung round on the office chair to face us and said 'right so I hear that you have a few problems and you need to talk to someone about them, so where shall we start?"...''

And finally, after dinner the engineer asked if he could have candles on the side of the bath 'because otherwise it's not a real spa'...

Oh dear...what have I been modelling!!!