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Monthly Archives: September 2012

I am experiencing brain war. My right brain (the creative, expressive side) is having a wonderful time writing and thinking and coming up with big ideas. My left brain (the practical, logical side) doesn’t know what my right brain is doing. My left brain just wants to get up on Monday and go to work and do something difficult (OK Tuesday since Monday is a public holiday this week).

I doubt that brain function is a simple as the right/left theory suggests, but I do find a tendency in myself to switch between the analytical and the expressive; the active and the thoughtful. When I worked full-time in an analytical role, I felt that there wasn’t sufficient scope for my creativity, or for interpersonal interaction. Now that I have had the freedom to be creative for a long period of time, I am starting to long for a bit of structure and external challenge.

It is two weeks since I began the trial of a business as a professional organiser by putting out a few ads to attract local customers. Since I have not had a response, I am going to need to ramp up the advertising and promotions. In the meantime, I have a strong feeling like I should be doing something, but I don’t know what. I am not used to my work being dependent on attracting individual clients. I feel ready to start, but I need to find people who feel they will benefit from the service I am offering, or help them find me! Its a very different experience to being employed in a regular job.

Its six months since I left the office, and if I am honest, I am starting to miss organisational life. I am missing being part of a team, running into old acquaintances, and meeting new people. I am also starting to miss being able to make use of my knowledge and experience in the work environment.  Thats a good sign because it means I am recovering from the overload that I was feeling earlier in the year.

I think its likely that I will end up with a mixed employment model.  The professional organising business will take time to build up. In the meantime, I might benefit from getting out into the world of work a couple of days a week. I am hoping I can come up with a balanced model that brings in sufficient income, and keeps both halves of my brain happy.

Sign in Toronto Canada

Today I put up my first ever item for sale on eBay. I decided it was time to learn how to do it. I figured it must be possible to work out how without paying for a course at community college (yes they do have one for selling on eBay!)

Registering and putting up a photo and description on the item for sale were fairly straightforward. The things that I find difficult are understanding the options for payment and postage, and their implications. Since the item that I am selling is not worth much, I want to charge extra for postage. I have put a flat rate for within Australia, but I can’t really understand how to cater for the situation where the buyer is overseas, so I excluded overseas buyers for the time being.

I chose to sell an old film camera as my test case. Its small and light and could be posted fairly easily. I doubt its worth much as its fully automatic. I imagine camera collectors are more interested in manual cameras with lots of gizmos.

I have a starting price of 99 cents on it, but its probably not worth the effort to sell for less than $10. The sad part is that if the price tag on the box is to be believed, I paid $499 for it. Now I see it is as a bit of cheap junk.

I have three other obsolete cameras that I am thinking of selling. Two are bulkier with more attachments and were more valuable when new. Ironically, the oldest is probably worth the most, as it has become a collectors item. A 10 year old film camera seems to be worth next to nothing. And a dodgy compact digital camera with neurotic tendencies, likewise. It makes me very reluctant to spend good money on technological objects that are going to be obsolete in a few years!

Pentax ESPIO 115M Film Camera Seeks a Good Home

I’d like to tell you about a book that made a huge impression on me, and triggered a lot of “ah ha” moments. It really helped me to understand myself, and why I sometimes felt a bit out of step with the prevailing culture. Its called The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World, by sociologists Paul J Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson.The book is the result of a study of American culture which identified three large subcultures listed below.

Moderns, who are just under half the American population, value making or having a lot of money, climbing the ladder of success, looking good and being stylish, shopping, having lots of choices, being on top of the latest trends, styles and innovations, and supporting economic and technological progress. They also tend to think that its a waste of time to be concerned with your inner or spiritual life, and favour mechanistic explanations of how people and organisations work.

Traditionals who are about a quarter of the population, tend to be conservatives who value patriarchy, traditional roles for men and women, conservative religious traditions, maintaining customs and traditions, and the regulation of sex through strict moral codes.

Cultural Creatives were about a quarter of the American population at the time of the study. They are characterised by a love of nature and concern about its destruction, and strongly aware of the problems of the whole planet. They give a lot of importance to developing and maintaining relationships, helping other people, psychological and spiritual development, and equality. They tend to be open to people and places that are exotic and foreign. They are less concerned with “making it” and prefer not to overspend. Cultural Creatives are further subdivided into two groups, those who place a high value on personal growth and spirituality, and those who are less focussed on personal growth and whose main focus is on the environment, relationships and social issues.

When I read these descriptions, a whole lot of things fell into place. I recognised myself as a cultural creative who values personal growth and spirituality as high priorities. It was immediately obvious that I was part of a subgroup that probably constituted about 10% population (assuming a similar cultural profile in Australia). It explained why I felt uneasy with the dominant cultural values which define success in terms material acquisition.

Although I am wary of labelling people, and putting them boxes, these three simple categories were an enormous help to me, because they enabled me to see that it was OK to be different, and that there were a whole lot of other people who thought like me. It helped me understand why I seemed to be talking at cross purposes with people who had different value systems. I am always on the look out for fellow cultural creatives, and blogging seems like a good way to connect. I find it reassuring to read posts by people on a similar wavelength to myself, and hope that what I write might resonate with others who think outside the mainstream.

Ananda, Royal Ontario Museum Toronto

Yesterday I left home to go to the city to meet a friend with my last guitar in tow. I was intending to sell it at a pawn shop I had found that carries a lot of musical instruments. I have not played the guitar for a very long time. I had already sold my nylon string guitar some years ago, and now it was time to let go of the steel string guitar as well. It had been sitting in the garage untouched.

I find musical instruments the most difficult items to let go of because of the sentimental attachment, because they are beautiful, and because they have the potential to make music. But they also take up a lot of space to store, and deteriorate if not cared for. In the case of the two guitars, they reminded me of the musician I wish I was, but am not. This steel string guitar has a beautiful look, but I just never enjoyed playing it.

I decided on the pawn shop because  I wanted a clean break. I didn’t want to be running into it at someone else’s house, or hearing it through the walls from a neighbours unit, as happened with the first guitar.

So I was on the train, looking for all the world like a real musician, and a lady asked me if I was on my way to the opera house (to play!!) I said no, I was taking the guitar into town to sell it. This got the man next to her interested and he asked to see it. At the stop before mine, I showed him the guitar. At my stop we were discussing price so I stayed on the train. I got of at the next stop without the guitar. It was with a delighted new owner, and I didn’t need to haggle at the pawn shop.

Maybe I could have squeezed another $20 out of that guitar, by pushing the man harder, or hanging out for the pawn shop, or going on ebay. But maybe not. I am glad to be free of it, and glad to know it has gone to a musician who was excited to have it.

I feel some pangs. Slight pangs for the imaginary $20. Pangs that I finally let go of my last guitar. But pangs don’t mean I am sorry I did it. The guitar will have new strings and a new life, the life that it was meant to have. All the effort that went into creating it will be put to good use. And I won’t have to move it, store it, and feel guilty for neglecting it.

The things we let go of are not always junk. Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t like them, or appreciate them. In fact I sold the guitar because I did value it – I respected it as an instrument and wanted it to be used. So here I am, writing a farewell to my last guitar.

While I was doing a big sort out of my belongings recently I did a lot of reading about minimalism, and simplicity, and peoples relationship with the things they bring into their lives. I enjoyed the process of deciding what to keep and what to let go, and I found it very satisfying to see things that had been unused for years go off, like kids starting school, to a new life full of potential.

The method I used to guide this process was the principles that I have been writing about in my posts; letting go of the shoulds, following my energy, and using my intuition. At no point did I say to myself, “I must clean out the garage”. I just had an idea and followed it, and it gained momentum. Nor did I force myself to get rid of anything. I just let my hands decide which pile to put things in, keep or let go, and didn’t think about it too much.

This led me to wonder if this approach would work for other people who feel they have too much stuff in their lives. I have been looking into setting up as a Professional Organiser. So far I have registered for a business number and put a few ads in an online site as a trial.

My approach would be to focus on the beauty of simplicity, and valuing and making use of the ordinary objects with are a part of our lives. Its about identifying and keeping things that are enhancing our lives, and letting go things from the past that have become obstacles to living as we want to live today.

I would really like to explore how to help other people follow up on their energy for change, and to support them in using their intuition to guide them, rather than getting tied up with shoulds. I am hoping a few people will emerge who are interested in trying out this approach. I am located in the southern suburbs of Sydney Australia.

 

 

There are two main strategies for getting things done. Pushing, and Flowing. I like Flowing.

Pushing is when you set clear and defined goals, with subgoals, timeframes and accountabilities. Its when you force yourself to do things you don’t want to, because you think you “should”. Its when you decide to “never give up” even though what you are trying to do is starting to seem impossible, and not worth the effort and sacrifice.

Flowing is when you have an idea of whats important then move towards it using your natural momentum. Its about being aware of where your energy is headed, and jumping on for the ride. Its about taking a break when your energy is depleted. and getting going again when you feel fresh. Its about letting go of something when your interest has moved on.

Pushing is the dominant strategy in our society. Its what the goal setting gurus tell us to do. And it works for some people – elite athletes for example. But it has never worked well for me. When I find myself pushing for something, it feels at though I am out of touch with my true goals or my true needs. I get sick. I get stressed. I hurt myself.

Flowing works for me because it allows me to stay in touch with my intuition, and gives me the flexibility to adapt to conditions as they arise.  This enables me to make good use of my natural energy and interest to move forward, rather than using my energy against myself.

One of the biggest barriers to active decision making is Fear of Regret. This is the fear that one day in the future, we will regret a decision that we are tempted to make today. I find this fear particularly strong in relation to work related decisions, which do have big consequences. I was afraid to leave my secure job in case, at some time in the future, I decided it was a BAD IDEA, and wished I hadn’t done it. I had visions of being unable to get a new job, poverty in old age, and a new global recession.

Recently when I was doing the big clear out of excess belongings I found myself involved in a lot of conversations about peoples attitudes to their belongings and how they felt about them. “I might need it someday” came up a lot as a reason for holding on to things that otherwise seemed necessary. This is another form of Fear of Regret. It is fear of making a wrong decision and being caught out later.

There are two aspects to the Fear of Regret. The first is the actual impact of the decision. I might leave my job and find it much harder than expected to get another one, and I might be sorry I left. I might throw out the spare sponge for a squeeze mop that I no longer owned, only to find the mop a few days later (that really happened!) The other aspect is how we imagine we are going to feel about the situation that has arisen. Am I going to blame myself for being irresponsible for leaving work? Am I going to call myself an idiot for throwing out the spare sponge? Am I going to feel like a fool for trusting my gut.

It helps me to separate out these two aspects, because they have very different qualities, and call for different remedies. When trying to make a decision, we sometimes overlook or undervalue, the consequences of not making it. For example, if I ignore the urge for change in my work life, I know for sure that I am going to regret not making a move. Whereas the Fear of Regret associated with making a change is a worst case scenario that may never happen. On a smaller scale, when having a clean up in the laundry, there is a risk that I will throw away something I could have used later, but I know for certain that too much mess in the laundry is bothering me now. The benefit of having a tidy environment is worth the risk of making a small mistake and the annoyance of having to replace something.

I wonder if it is the fear of self blame, of being wrong, that is the real barrier to making decisions. If we can deal with this aspect compassionately, then Fear of Regret loses much of its sting. If I am working on a clean up project that involves throwing things away, I accept that there might be things that I miss later, but that it isn’t a big deal. Its worth the risk in order to move beyond the stuckness and create the environment that I want.

In relation to a more major change I remind myself that I am making the best decision that I feel I can make at the time. Even if it has unexpected consequences that I don’t like, it was done for the right reasons, and I am going to respect my desire to attempt to live an authentic life. If I decide in advance to stay kind to myself when the unexpected happens, I feel happier that I will be able to focus on the actual situation that needs to be addressed, free of recriminations.