Posts Tagged ‘try’

Heat Mapping Your Energy

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Charlie Gilkey has a post about using heat maps to organize your day. And I never did it because I could never understand *how* it was supposed to work. Until I worked with Kirsten Simmons from Personalized Productivity and she made it make sense.

It’s a Pie Chart, Mmmm Pie

This is how it worked for me:

  1. Download Charlie’s template (it’s in the beginning of the post linked above)
  2. Print out a week’s worth or import the image into a new file in your drawing program.
  3. Every few hours color code the previous hours into categories. Mine are Creative, Meh, Useless, Sleep
  4. Make notes about anything odd about that day or relationships you notice between what you’re doing and how you’re feeling
  5. Repeat for a week

Once you’ve got the sheets in front of you see what your patterns are. Adjust your schedule accordingly and in a few months, do it again to see if it’s making a difference.

Doing What, When

For me, my least creative time is from 3-6 pm. So, I do my least creative activities then. Because if I try to create during that time frame, I get frustrated, tired and then go play sudoku.

My most creative times are right after breakfast and just before bed. So that’s when I work on creating and learning. I’m starting a reading practice at night and writing in the morning, but I haven’t gotten to the point where it’s part of my armature yet.

Do you know your energy flow? How do you use that knowledge to your advantage?

Looking to stretch your comfort zone in tiny ways and pick up some resource recommendations? Sign up for Inching Along, and every other week I’ll send you one small (possibly even fun) challenge that you can easily accomplish plus other nuggets that I find.
You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


One Tiny Thing Thursday #21, The Cutting of the Hairs

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Welcome to One Tiny Thing Thursday, where we choose to do one lil bit of a part of the scary, instead of trying to tackle the whole overwhelm all at once. Because, starting small is usually better than not starting at all. Join us?

I need a hair cut. I wouldn’t quite use the word desperately, yet. The ends are damaged and tangle badly and break when I run a come through my hair. Did I say ‘yet’? I haven’t had one since March, when I got back from Brazil. Of course, this isn’t even close to the longest I’ve gone without a hair cut.

Plus, I want new pictures and Ori is in town, but my hair is at two… distinct levels. It’s like I grew out my bangs, but I didn’t really have bangs. Or fringe, for you non-US types. I’m looking for as long as possible while removing the damaged bits and creating an intentional looking style. I’m guessing that won’t be very long… Thankfully my hair grows like mad.

Making it a Date

So I need to pick three day and time choices and call the salon. Then I can go downstairs and get a treat at the raw foods place. Or a cookie and some milk at Subway. It could go either way.

So for today I’ll pick the day/time choices and keep my fingers crossed that I have the momentum to make the call too. But it’s okay if I don’t.

Update from last time: I ended up ordering recycling bags online because after dealing with the guys at the bike shop I was too wound up to take the bus. The bike shop guys are nice enough, but we don’t really *get* each other, makes talking with them tiring. So, bags are here and the piles of recycling are dwindling day by day. Yay!

If you want to play along, then just tell us in the comments what you’re One Tiny Thing is. And if you like, you can always come back and let us know how it went too.

Looking to stretch your comfort zone in tiny ways and pick up some resource recommendations? Sign up for Inching Along, and every other week I’ll send you one small (possibly even fun) challenge that you can easily accomplish plus other nuggets that I find.
You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


5 Unusual Energy Drains

Monday, October 17th, 2011

You may already know this, but in case you don’t, I’m a Spoonie. And when I run out of spoons (my energy is low) I just can’t do much more than take care of my basic needs. Earlier this week, I skipped out on a gallery opening I wanted to attend, because I was just too tired to go.

My energy had been low for a bit, now and I’ve been looking at ways I can boost it without going for sugar or caffeine, since I’ve gotten sensitive to both. One of the things I’ve been looking at is figuring out what has been lowering my energy. I found five energy drains that we may not recognize.


Having stuff all over the place, or having it feel like you’ve got stuff all over the place, pings your brain. You’re spending energy keeping track of all the things that are scattered around. Last week, I saw this on Unplggd, and thought, ‘Now really, why would I treat a prospective buyer better than I would treat myself?’

If you think clutter doesn’t bother you, try this: Choose one surface that is cluttered, mine was the island in my kitchen. Stand in front of it and notice how you feel. Find homes for all the stuff covering the surface. Once again, stand in front of it and notice how you feel. Better, right?



It’s pretty easy to see how big worries would affect your energy, they’re big. Little worries get to you too, it’s like they build up and join forces. Truth: I’ve got what I consider to be a large amount of credit card debt and I’m no longer okay with that.

My first step has been watching and noticing. Charting what I’m spending, my interest rates, the pay off amounts. In the long run, lowering my debt will also boost my energy, but for now, it’s a drain.

Apparently, I need to find a point where I’ll feel like I’m making progress, and remember to look how far I’ve come, not just how far I have to go.


Lack of Movement

I spent a few days where I was all but immobile during my energy valley, from 3-6 pm I’m usually low on creative energy, but I’m not physically exhausted. Last week I was inexplicably exhausted.

Saturday morning, I decided to try a 10 minute pilates video I found through Angry Chicken. My day and mood were both, um, perkier. I felt like I could take on the day and that exhaustion, it didn’t hit at all.

Even a little bit helps, can you give yourself 10 minutes of walking, stretching, or dancing?



First, by the time you feel thirsty, you are dehydrated, according to the medical definition. We’re busy, I get it, but keeping hydrated is necessary for energy, and as a bonus, it makes your skin look healthier too.

Another truth: I can’t stand plain water, unless I’ve gotten over heated. I drink herbal tea all day long. In August, in Texas, I drink hot herbal tea. Unless I’m walking somewhere, then it’s iced.

If you love drinking ice cold water all on its own, rock on, but if you think ‘Water, really? No, thanks.’ then herbal teas are a calorie-free, caffeine-free, way to make your water flavorful and enjoyable.


Non-restful Sleep

If you’re not getting enough sleep your energy will be low; this surprises no one. But, it’s not just quantity of sleep it’s quality too.

There was a study several years ago where they took olympic quality athletes and disturbed their sleep cycles in the way that Fibromyalgia sufferers often naturally have sleep disturbances. Within a week, the athletes started exhibiting symptoms of Fibromyalgia. I’m not saying that sleep issues cause Fibro, but obviously quality of sleep is important.

Are you sleeping through the night? Does your body relax while you sleep? Do you have sleep apnea or night terrors? All of these things make a difference. Also, on the subject of quantity, if you need an alarm to wake up, you’re not getting enough sleep.


What drains your energy? What have you done or do you want to do to change that?


Make the Right Thing also the Easy Thing

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

A few years back, I was working on building a food site, inspired in spirit by Ravelry. And, being me, I read every book I could find on social media, community sites, and a whole selection on various vague internetty topics.

One thought stuck with me, although the author’s name did not: Make it easy to do the right thing and as close as you can to impossible to do the wrong thing. Since I’ve been thinking a lot about my patterns and taking care of my self and my space, this thought has been popping up often.

Obviously, this works better in some cases than others. For instance: I’m still working on how to make it easier to go to dance class than stay in bed. But it may be simpler than it seems for other tasks.

The TV Vortex

Two and a half weeks ago I decided that I needed a streaming TV break. I was spending 10+ hours a week watching TV shows. While, at the same time, I felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day. I have things I want to accomplish and reruns of shows from when I was in high school were getting in the way of that.

So, I paid attention to when, why and how I watched my shows. I watched when I was feeling out of sorts, when I felt like I needed a reward, when I wanted to rest. I also watched when I ate lunch. And I always clicked on the link in my Most Recent Places menu when I opened a new tab.

Making the Easy

So, first, I made getting there harder. I removed all references to my site of choice from Most Recent Places, it is in fact editable. I started watching TED talks during lunch, they’re shorter and mostly really interesting. When I wanted a break, I started looking at my favorite food blogs (which, come to think of it, may be what started that cascade of food themed posts a couple of weeks back). Feeling out of sorts… tea and coloring should help that.

This is not to say that I haven’t wanted to watch a show. I have, but I want the space and time to come at it in a different way. And, the thing is, I do have to think about it. I can’t just click a button or two and be there. Having to make the conscious choice to type in the URL makes a difference, makes it a conscious choice.

Pattern Watching

As I write this I’ve got about two weeks left on my self imposed TV ban and I *am* getting more done. Watching those patterns showed me other patterns that needed revising. I figured out how to get my calendar to function in a way that I would actually use. My internet habits, in general, are shifting too.

And that thing about going to dance class instead of staying in bed, I may have found a use for that programable vacuum cleaner, besides cleaning the floors. I would have to get out of bed to turn it off (it’s too loud to run while I’m in the house), so it’s just as easy to leave as it is to chase the vacuum down and hit the off switch. If I ever get the vacuum, I’ll let you know.

Are there any ways you have employed Making the Right Thing the Easy Thing in your life? Are there any ways you could?


I Can’t Do It All

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

I Can’t Do it All

Truthfully, I don’t think anyone can, but I know for a fact that I can’t. And you know ‘can’t’ isn’t a word I use lightly. Earning a living, cooking nourishing meals, cleaning my rather small home, creating products to make our quiet part of the world a bit easier to navigate, writing new posts, visiting with friends and family, exercising for health and fun, and all the other things that aren’t even coming to mind right now, it’s just overwhelming.

I look at that list and I want to go to bed. With a book, but still, hot tea and hiding from all that ‘needs’ doing. And, truthfully, it does need doing, but not all of it needs doing by me. Let’s look at cooking as an example. I know I feel better, calmer even, and have more energy when I eat a high fiber diet with healthy fats and my craving for sweets gets satisfied with fruit. It’s a simple truth, but simple doesn’t mean easy.

Patterns and Options 

There’s meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking to be done. Even though I enjoy cooking, sometimes I’m just too tired to want to cook right then. But if I eat a pizza and some cake, then I’ll be even more tired later and less likely to want to cook then either. Oof.

So, options, yes? We (I) need some.

  • You can use a slow cooker. I found a cook book for small slow cookers (not an affiliate link, but only because I haven’t bothered to get an account). One where none of the recipes start out with a can of cream of mushroom soup.
  • You can use some pre-washed veggies, like spinach.
  • You can make soups and grain based salads that will last a week.
  • You can freeze the soups in individual servings so that you can have variety.
  • You can make whole grain bread dough using the no knead method and freeze loaf portions so that you can just bake one when you want, while you’re doing other things.
  • You can cook ingredients and freeze them in measured portions for quick combining. Most ingredients, (not, for example potatoes or dairy) can be cooked like this, grains, meats, vegetables…
  • You can trade meals with a friend or four. Cooking four servings of something usually requires not much more effort that one or two servings. If there’s a group of you, then it’s a bit more work than that, but still not as much as 3-4 days of cooking supper.
  • You can make simple, long cooking things while you’re doing other things around the house, like applesauce and broth.

A few of you may be wondering about the omission of OAMC (Once a Month Cooking). I tried it about ten years ago and I would lose three days every month to cooking. A day to shop and recover from the shopping, a day to prep and start cooking, and a day to finish cooking and package everything up. Several techniques above come from that time in my life, but really I don’t recommend it as a whole.

Options, Round Two

So, we’ve got several options for cooking now, but what about the rest of the list?

Cleaning, possibly my least favorite thing in the world, at least that I am actually faced with doing. I’d probably hate gutting fish worse, but I have yet to be faced with that task. Dear Universe, that was not a challenge, thank you.

And again, options:

  • You can get a robot vacuum. My dad has one and loves it. They are loud, so you may want schedule it when you’re out.
  • You can do just a bit at a time. Clean the counters while making tea. Scrub the toilet while the water heats for your shower. Make the bed while your computer boots up.
  • You can deal with things as they happen. When the mail comes in, it gets opened and put in it’s proper home, junk gets recycled, bills get paid, invitations get responses.
  • You can trade. Love to cook and hate to clean? Have a friend who would rather clean than cook come over and while you make a dish for her to take home, she does a basic cleaning. Then, tea and time together. If you do this once a week, you’re both socializing and getting things done that wouldn’t otherwise get done.

These are the two big ones for me, and maybe you too. I’ll revisit the rest of the list in a week or so and, of course, anything you all bring up in the comments.

In the comments, please share with us how you get done what you get done and what you choose to let slide. And of course, ask any questions you’d like me to answer in the next post.



On the Downbeat

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

What do you do when the fear hits?

I haven’t said anything on here because it feels like, the more I talk about something, the less likely I am to follow through on it. Like, there’s a point where having talked about it so much is like having experienced it.

But, as wound up as I am and with less than a week to go, either I’m going to go or not. One post won’t make or break my resolve. I’ve signed up to be on a float in the Carnaval Parade in Rio.

That’s why I’m memorizing a song in Portuguese, a language I barely know.

That’s why I’m futzing about tan lines, something I can assure you has never happened before. Ever.

That’s why I keep wanting to hide further and further inside, away from all the people who come out for the neighborhood parades.

Will I or Won’t I?

Truthfully, I have no idea if I’ll really be able to get up there and be on the float. But I have to try, for me. You see, this year, my birthday falls during Carnaval. The day after I plan to ride around the Sambadrome in an outfit that looks remarkably like a pair of skivvies with a headdress, I will turn 34.

I took it as a sign… the timing, not the costume. And let’s be honest, I wanted to take it as a sign. If I can muster the intestinal fortitude to be *in* Carnaval, then I can pull off just about anything. Anywhere. Ever. A true test of knowing that something is more important than the fear.

Tuesday Will Get Here, No Matter What

When I had to make presentations in high school, I would get physically ill. Like, running to the bathroom ill. And every time I would think of the presentation, my stomach would drop. I was too scared to prepare, thereby creating my own worst nightmare. Then I had a realization.

Tuesday will get here, no matter what I do. I started saying that because the presentation I had coming up was on a Tuesday, and I still say it that way. And if Tuesday is going to keep coming, then I might as well do my best to prepare so that I can do my best once it’s Tuesday.

No Place to Hide

When we think about the things that make us nervous, we want to hide. And while hiding can be easy, it mostly doesn’t help. So, now, when I get nervous, I listen to the song while reading my transliteration of it. Transcribing it into pronouncable chunks was my first baby step, then just listening, now practicing.

And, you wanna know what? I’m getting it! Which is good since my parade day is Sunday. Truthfully, I think I can do this. And most days, I feel I can do it too. When I start to feel scared or even, just nervous, I start playing the song and it reminds me that I know more than I think I do. And that preparation is the best way to ground myself in the now and be able to move forward, one samba step at a time.

Since I really want to know, I’ll ask you again,

What do you do when the fear hits?

Looking to stretch your comfort zone in tiny ways and pick up some resource recommendations? Sign up for Inching Along, and every other week I’ll send you one small (possibly even fun) challenge that you can easily accomplish plus other nuggets that I find.
You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)



Love Letter

Monday, December 27th, 2010

My lovelies,

I’m so proud of you. You’re here because you’ve decided to come out of your shells and want to try new things, maybe meet some new people. You’ve decided to look for the first step, you may be a bit unsure but you’re forging ahead anyway.

Whether it’s shyness, introversion, being an HSP, being reserved, or something else, you’ve had a difficult time in social situations. Now you want to embiggen your social life. Adding new people, having parties, going to events, having a selection of starting points for beginning conversations.

You’re looking around to see what works and what doesn’t. Sharing and cheering, building on each other’s ideas and experiences. Trying and failing and succeeding and trying again.

Taking the little steps and the big ones too. Pushing at your limits and stretching your boundaries. Seeing where you can go next. Making discoveries that what you dreaded wasn’t as awful as you’d thought. That you enjoy things that you didn’t expect to like at all.

Thrilling in each new choice, attempt, trial, success, failure. Each time you push and stretch. Balancing going out and practicing self care. When you over balance and fall and try again. Spinning, twirling, and balancing…

And then…

Once you find your comfortable place that allows you to take your next steps, then you can look for the joy. Joy! And the disquietude that comes with it. Because, as wonderful as joy is, there’s no comfort in it. You can have an amazing life or a comfortable life, but not both, not at the same time.

The amazingness of finding and going after your joy and ecstasy, it’s not cozy, not safe, not comfortable. Which is why you first want to find a place where you feel cozy, safe and comfortable. So you’ve got that starting point.

To take the risk. To search for the joy. To go after what you want for your life.

Because you get to create your life, in whichever way you choose.

Yours in searching,



Please, sink my ship…

Sunday, October 17th, 2010
Mice and Men and Me

I had planned to go up the Rio Dulce today to Livingston and on to Honduras today. Only the captain kept delaying the departure since I was going to be the only passenger. Once I realized we would arrive about half an hour before dark and would still need to find a hotel, go to an ATM, book a boat to Honduras for the next day, and get my passport stamped since the office is closed in the morning when the boat leaves at 7:30 I rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

“Some ships are designed to sink… others require our assistance.” ~Nathan Zelk

So, with several hours open before me, I started flipping through my Lonely Planet Honduras (woo hoo, personal digital libraries!), and found this (emphasis mine)

The Roatán Institute for Deepsea Exploration (RIDE; 3359-2887;; Half Moon Bay) is the fancy name for an American kid with a homemade submarine, which he uses to take tourists into the deep-sea trenches just off Roatán’s north shore. This is one of only two operations in the world that take Joe Public deeper than 91m. And the Idabel, as the sub is called, goes much deeper than that – more than 610m down, for as long as seven hours. There is no vegetation after 91m (and no light after 520m) and only the strangest of life forms: bioluminescent sponges, swimming sea cucumbers, six-gilled sharks, all amid huge limestone boulders and fossilized coral formations. The sub’s creator, Karl Stanley, got into submarine building with no formal engineering training, or even advanced welding, for that matter. He admits he has no special insurance (nor the interna- tional certification he’d need to secure it); if anything happens, says Karl, he’s not coming up either. The sub does have redundant safety systems and three days’ worth of air and supplies, and has had no major incidents in hundreds of outings. Up to three passengers can take trips of varying lengths: 11⁄2 hours to a maximum depth of 300m (L$7560), 21⁄2 hours to 460m (L$11,340), or 31⁄2 hours to 610m (L$15,120).

I wanna go!

Since the submarine holds three passengers and I don’t want to pay the whole fee myself, I’m looking for two people who will be on Roatan, Honduras during the next two weeks. I would love it if you would help me find them. If you’d like to help, please pass this post along. Thanks.

Of course, I’ll be posting photos and maybe a video from the trip if you want to travel vicariously .

You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud.What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


Turning Can’t into Can

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

In Xela, Guatemala, where I’ve been living for the past six weeks, a local trekking organization leads a full moon hike where you sit atop a volcano and watch the sun rise over the surrounding volcanoes. I missed the first one and knew I’d really regret it if I missed the second one.

So, last night I got to the Quetzaltrekkers office around 11:00 pm. One of the guides took me into the supply room and pulled a sleeping bag, stuff sack, roll mat, fleece, rainproof jacket, and pants for me.

I got the sleeping bag in the stuff sack and started to put everything in the bag. Physics was against me on this one. No way on earth all of that was going to fit into my pack. And so, off I went to find some one who might have a solution. One guide got another and they joined forces to wrestle the sleeping bag and pack into submission, while I went off to change from my jeans (“If we get rained on, those are going to be really uncomfortable”) into hot pink pants that made wooshing sounds when I walked.

After we had all gotten ourselves arranged and sorted, our ride arrived. The fifteen of us climbed into a pick up truck with a frame around the bed so we could stand without falling out, loading most of our packs into another frame on top of the cab. The beauty of the ride is difficult to describe, volcanoes and cornfields shrouded in mist, under the light of a full moon.

We jumped out of the pickup bed and reclaimed our packs. Our guides formally introduced themselves and gave us the rundown on how the night would go. This is what to do when you need to relieve yourself, this is what you do if you start to feel sick, this is how long each part should take. And then we were off.

For about five minutes, and then I started getting winded. Again. I discussed my respiratory issues with a guide when I signed up and convinced us both that it would be fine. Sigh. When I started getting winded, I fell to the back and the last guide would stop and rest with me when I needed. We got far enough behind that the other guides kept signaling to check on us.

In the hike description, I had read that the first part of the hike was the easiest, and brought this up at one of the stops where I would catch my breath.  Yep, it would only get harder.

Now, here’s the thing: I could have made it to the top, it just would have taken me about twice as long as everyone else. For me, the whole point was to summit the volcano and watch the sun rise over the tops of the other volcanoes. Getting to the top at nine in the morning felt kind of pointless, on top of exhausting. So, I made a choice. I chose to go back to town, back to bed, to find a respiratory specialist, start walking more and try again later. It may be a different volcano or I may come back, but I’m not done.

Earlier this week I read a post by Johnny B. Truant, Choose to be outstanding (or choose to continue to suck), and in it he tackles the word “can’t”. I kind of hate the word “can’t”, and I only use it in reference to the physically impossible.

I can’t levitate.

I don’t speak French.

As far as I know, it is physically impossible for me to levitate. I could learn French if I wanted to, I just haven’t.

I can get a group together, start exceptionally early and climb that volcano. I doubt I will do it soon, I’d rather start with the specialist and daily conditioning. But, it’s my choice.

When I’m in a group of people and I don’t say anything to anyone, I’m choosing one level of discomfort over another. I could start talking to some one, it is physically possible. I know the discomfort of standing there alone not saying anything. The discomfort of introducing myself and starting a conversation, I’m less familiar with that and so the choice is more difficult. But ultimately it is my choice.

When I know I’m going to be in a situation where I’ll need to reach out and meet people, I can choose to prepare. I can also choose to leave early if I need to. I can also choose to attend with a friend who may act as a buffer, we’ll get into the details on this in another post.

In the comments:

What choices have you made recently that pushed your comfort zone a little bit, what can you do to prepare for next time? Thanks for sharing with us.

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud.What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)