Autumn, day 25. Standing sort.

One of the techniques that I’ve used to help others organize their spaces I call a ‘standing sort’.  It’s very much big picture and can help create clarity for the tasks that need to be done by creating some order even if it’s rough.

It goes like this. Go into your office, pull the chair back from the desk, and begin to make sense of the space. Sort things into piles that make sense. Use sticky notes to indicate what needs to be done later. DO NOT DO IT NOW. Resist the temptation to start dealing with individual tasks. Use lots of notes, and labels. Pay attention to ideas that emerge that could help you organise the space, and list these for later. Perhaps some wall files, file folders, binders, clips etc.

Throw out things that should be discarded. Remove things from the office that don’t belong there. This is not a store room. Catch yourself saying…’I’ll just put this here for now’.  Note what should be done with the item.

Put on music if you like. Dust, sweep, tidy, annotate, etc. Spend 30 to 60 minutes doing this standing sort. Think about three major categories as you work 1) discard 2) give away and, 3) deal with. The ‘discard’ and ‘give away’ piles need to be removed from the office during a standing sort. ‘Deal with’ items just need to be sorted into piles that make sense, tucked into action folders, and/or annotated with instructions for doing later.

Once you’re done, you may pull in your chair and sit down.  Until then, standing helps keep the mind away from details, and only noticing things within reach of the chair.  When you’re done you’ll notice how much more inviting and less intimidated the work feels.  You might even feel new energy to tackle the work.  

I took my own coaching and I did this on Monday. It makes a difference. Other days, I can’t think big picture and it’s all I can do, to deal with one paper at a time. We’ll see how much progress I can make this week with some new order.

Today has been tough. Thankfully I got to my doctor, thanks to the appointment a friend made for me. After eight months I got there. He sent me for blood tests etc… I bucked up, went and did those right away. I’ll be all set for my official check up on Monday next. Let’s hope I’m in good shape. I fought the blues most of the day but am hanging in there.

Autumn, day 22. Trusting help.

‘Maybe just share the news,’ I think to myself as I sit down to write on a blank page with a scattered mind.  I’d like to write something useful and perhaps even wise, and the act of writing itself often brings clarity that I need in the moment.  Today is suppose to be a ‘day off’, as if I can actually ever do that.  Instead, I’m just thinking of it as free form activity with hope that I’ll write some, perhaps paint, enjoy companionship, and find some laughter along the way.

Terry and I did some work down at one of the apartments in the Metropolitan Block – the suite that we both think of as our home away from home.  It was nice to be downtown but not really doing much.  We went for coffee at Chronicles Comics and Cafe and had a great chat about the direction our lives are taking.  It’s so nice to be able to just sit and visit with one another.  We only seem to do that when we are in Maui.  Drug dealers tried to sell us drugs on the way for coffee … blatantly – so we lost some time dealing with that when we called it in to the RCMP as usual.

Getting the new smart television installed, under the watchful eye of Martha “I bet you think you know everything”

This week, we meet with various realtors about selling the building that houses Sunworks, and also do some serious marketing for the vacant commercial spaces we have available.  We’re considering moving Sunworks into the Metropolitan Block and leasing out the current Sunworks space to various tenants.  If this twigs any thoughts or ideas, call or write me.  I’m inviting a strong week of communication and concerted effort.

Last week I suggested that I needed someone to hold my hand or mentor me through the catch-up work, decision making, and associated anxiety being created.  My colleague Kathryn offered and we started on Friday.  It was a lumpy start for me, my anxiety was on triple overload and ready to blow.  (Yes Todd, I will go this week and see about getting some CBD oil from Gord’s.  It’s on my list. Thanks for the recommendation).  

I made it to my office as I’d planned and nearly the moment that I sat down I began to shake, thinking about the tasks ahead.  I made it only about five minutes before I had to leave.  My second attempt was better and I worked on and off for about four hours.  Rather than doing sorting or organising (which often helps), I realised that I could only deal with the paper on the top of the pile, then the second, etc.  I could only cope with one thing at a time, not anything that tackled the big picture.

This week I will also seek some professional help for my anxiety, and am open to suggestions of a good therapist.

Kathryn joined me later that morning, had a look at my list and ticked off a few things over that day that she could do without much input from me.  Some of the items had been on my list for several months.  One thing was just to make a doctor’s appointment.  How ridiculous to have put off for this long — especially with my high blood pressure issues.

Only so much desk work before I was saved by needing to go to the restaurant for the evening.  Tribe was moderately busy this weekend, and it felt that we were getting ahead rather than going behind.  I really loved the customers that came in both nights.  It was inspiring to have some philosophical conversations.  I’ve really missed that part of my brain being active.  It’s so much easier to make sense of the world when I’m not just talking to myself…. we all know what a trap that can be – a house of mirrors for sure.

I enjoyed working both of those nights and am looking forward to next weekend.  The change in hours has made some people sad and disappointed, but has certainly removed a big chunk of stress.  I’ve been spending so much time running operations that I’ve had little time to deal with administration – hence the festering piles.  As Terry, Chris and I work through the winter months I really believe that we’ll make great improvements in Tribe that will make it much more viable to be open longer hours.  We’ll get there. Where to find the capital funding?  I’m sure we’ll have lots of work-bees along the way.  Tribe is at a place in its development where we can host larger functions and have room to dance even.

Tomorrow, the plan is to do another solid four hours of administration in my office and to see if some order starts to emerge. I hope to be down to the muck soon. I have a sense that, with some companionship and dedicated quiet time, I will feel good at the end of the day.  I hope my first attempt tomorrow goes a bit more smoothly.

I’m leaving last week in a better place that I started, with some glimpse of hope and optimism for the future of the businesses and the change in direction our lives are taking.  This next week will need to be about slow and steady effort, letting others help me find my way, not doing too much alone, and of course communication … the theme of the season.

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Autumn, day 19. Just news and ramblings.

Weirdest dreams last week.  In them I try to hold my ground in a decision that I’ve made that seems to have disappointed everyone, and yet the decision I had to take was a result of the others meddling in my affairs which caused weeks worth of work to be undone and lost.   The actions that others took caused me great anxiety.  I reached out to those in my dreams the next morning to ground myself in the physical world, so that the feelings I had in the dream world can be faded.  I checked in on those relationships, I certainly do not need any leakage from dreaming to reality except to analyse what it might have been all about.

My Dad made an appearance in my dream and that was nice.  He was healthy, bigger and taller than me, and was doing his best to bring harmony. I woke before I changed my mind or he convinced me to change my mind.

It’s October 11th now, and I’m awake in the middle of the night.  Not unusual for me.  Since last week, Terry and I have taken two major decisions.  Firstly, we will sell the building which houses Sunworks.  I’ve spent this week working with a realtor and hope that we can make short order of the process.  Of course, we still need a buyer.  Secondly, we’ve had to reduce the hours at Tribe to the same that we did last year, only Friday and Saturday evenings from 3:30 to 11:00.  Snow fall came early, and the City once again took out the patio on Ross, our business vanished.  Some days only a half a dozen people through the restaurant.

We both are realizing that the constant pressure of dealing with the economy, financing, staffing, tenant troubles, vacancy rates, and downtown crime is more than we have the capacity for, or want to deal with.  It’s taking a toll on our creativity and relationships.  However, we believe that the downtown is on the cusp of change for the better but it’s going to take younger blood and new ideas.  We’re spent and it’s time to pass the torch to others to carry on the vision of a vibrant cultural hub.  

At day 19 into the fall, I don’t have a lot of days left to make the changes that I want.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be doing a lot of desk work in an attempt to catch up so many things that have fallen aside during my time on council.  I still hope to have my energy back for the new season.  

I could really use a mentor and coach to help me through all of the steps that I need to take.  

Autumn, day 11. Snap or is it shift.

I woke this morning and there was sunshine, that’s always welcomed. Terry had the coffee machine set and ready for me.  I went to the gym and worked at a reasonable pace.  Roman gently held open a space for me to talk in between exercises, that let me get in touch with my anger, disappointment, and confusion — a caged feeling.  After that, I spent most of the day working quietly at my desk.  My anxiety if I can really name it that, was not far away and so I had to just do one thing at a time and keep going.  Lots of deep breathing and some small breaks to escape.

One of my business partners came by in the afternoon and we worked through a bunch of things that needed attention quite quickly and did some errands together.  It’s so lovely to have a friend and a colleague nearby to confide in and do things with.  The best thing about Tribe so far is becoming friends with Chris, and the group of fabulous people we get to work with. Life is so much richer with all of them.

Yesterday and throughout my sleep my perspective shifted, I settled into resolve for a future path, which will mean a dramatic change in my lifestyle, and workload.  I’ve often said that ‘the only wrong decision, is making no decision at all‘.  Strange it is that I’ve come to this point, having a strong sense of the source of my anxiety and blues and yet fearful to make a decision to resolve it.  Terry and I are both on the same page regarding the changes.  And so today I got the ball rolling.

I hope that it will be the right decision for us… but since it’s not no decision, it can’t be the wrong decision.  Right?

Autumn, day 9. Musings about power and uncertainty.

In 1969 Canada’s then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, told reporters in Washington, D.C., “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

There are a lot of twitches and grunts recently.

This past week I watched the hearings for the US Supreme Court: the whole process just adds to the confusion I have about the way that society is handling change. Power is grasping to maintain control.  In every country, but particularly in the US, there are a lot more than twitches and grunts. It seems more like a frenetic, chaotic and desperate palaver, where those who will eventually lose power are biting, scratching, and clawing at everything and everyone around them, channelling for their misguided outrage and fear of becoming irrelevant.  Older men in positions of power are attempting to pass their privilege and ideology to younger men even while they continue to try to hang on to it for themselves. However, there seem to be fewer and fewer younger men willing to sacrifice themselves for outdated social norms that promote sexual violence, racism, and the othering of difference.

One problem with recognising white male privilege is that if you’re a privileged white male you can’t see it, even when others point it out. It’s an ugly blind spot. For me, it’s so very uncomfortable when I see it in action, as I have this week, and know that it’s trying to self-propagate. Frankly, the sooner that privileged white males are out of power the better the world may be. What we are seeing is phallogocentric panic and desperation.

Perhaps happiness and collective growth will prevail over anger and destruction, surely it’s a more compelling draw for the human spirit. As I watch the world burn physically and intellectually I need to hope that what emerges from the fires will be a new more enlightened structure of governance and stewardship that supports everything living on earth and our shared habitat.

I wonder when humanity, if ever, will completely move away from unquestioned trust in individuals who claim to be wise toward collective thought. Everything from managing a destructive and shifting world climate and the resulting loss of habitat and human migration, to improving our local communities’ well-being, may depend on our ability to trust one another’s ideas and insights enough to explore and decide together the best actions to take. The consolidation of power in individuals throughout history has never been successful and may always result in negative consequences for most. We must consciously evolve rather than take the steps that seem easy. Complex choices that serve the distant future over the immediate present are not easy or clear. Human lifespan is too short for us to notice what we have done or are doing to the future. If our species is to survive and enjoy a habitat that supports us all we must think about centuries far in the future and find ways to support better possibilities and healthier options of living together that allow for personal freedom, happiness, and collective governance.

In my struggle to make sense of the world dynamics right now, I ponder why it is that when humans feel uncertain that they are drawn to those who act and speak with certainty (regardless of whether true or false). Currently, the population tends to shy away from leaders that say “I don’t know” or “we’ll have to work together to understand”.  For me, the truth is that there is no magic pill that will solve everything.

Because of this phenomenon to gravitate toward absolute certainty, I suspect worldwide there is also growth in religious attendance as well. People seem to like to believe that the world is a certain place or that absolute truth exists out there for discovery. It seems clear to me that all that really exists is an uncertain world with many competing beliefs, truths, and ideas. I wonder what might happen if we all embraced uncertainty and became a little more curious about everything including research into statements that seem absolute.

Power feeds on certainty, and belief in the absolute.  If we are ever going to get past this world divide we are all going to have to drop our knowing and be curious about what else might exist right now.  We could consider what we might become if we listen to one another and ask good questions.   Even forgiveness and healing could emerge if we can begin to see that we are in a process of transitioning away from power embodied in individuals, particularly older white males.

Meanwhile for me, it was a long first week of fall.  Many good moments, but mostly it was just focused labour. It was helpful to not be drinking, and I had some great sleeps. For the most part my cold is gone too — a day or two early.  I’m trying to leave perfection for heaven… and just do my best right here, right now.

Tribe was busy this weekend and that’s helpful.  I spent as much time as I could working on the addition: afternoons and evenings were spent scrubbing glue off of the floor when the place wasn’t busy.  It’s come a long way.  Sunday we built the demising wall, which means we’re getting down to the final stages before we call for inspection and start to use the space.

Perhaps progress is perfection.

Autumn, day 5. Prioritizing joy.

Slept well last night apart from the cold.  It’s the third night without a drink during the day before, and that always makes for a great night’s sleep.  Coconut water, you are a friend of mine.

Strange thing that I noticed when I was planning this morning.  All the tasks that I had on my lists for the past few days, that contained joy were the ones that skipped over in favour of the other tasks.  Interesting observation.  So today I purposely prioritised joy in the tasks.  This made a difference and I found myself doing a little more self-care.  I didn’t get some of the urgent items done but I’m feeling a bit more satisfied with the day.  Could also be the cold pills.

The cold is progressing and I hope to have energy tomorrow to tackle the day and accomplish some urgent things and also some things that bring joy.

Autumn, day 4. Cold beating.

As my friend Morris said to me yesterday, ‘7 to 10 days!’  Today is day three of my man-cold and my energy levels have dropped.  I made it all the way to 11:30 a.m. before I had to buck up and drag myself through the rest of the day.

Oh hello, insomnia! I woke this morning around 5 a.m. and fought off the urge to pick up the phone and start flipping through social media and other websites.  Instead I got up, wrote my top five list for the day, broke out the neti pot, had a steam, and a coffee.  This was my first win of the day but it was a hard-fought win.  It was good that I was able to notice this happening, and it was good to have shut the phone completely off before bed.  That action added one extra layer of will power.

I did well with the list in the morning, and later this afternoon I willed myself to go down to Tribe and continue to scrub the floors for another two hours. Chris’s cold had him in the same boat, but as always, he’s a joy to work with and we took pride in our work together – doing that male thing afterward, by puffing up and saying repeatedly, in different ways, how well we did and commending one another.

‘Looks good eh?’

‘Oh yeah amazing.  That part is so good?’

‘Oh yeah, so good.  Amazed how much we got done in a few hours’

‘I know right?  So much in such a little time.  Especially when we’re nearly dead eh?’

‘Oh man, I know. But look at how good it looks and how well we did?’

‘Exhausted but we did so well, eh?’

etc… for another 10 minutes.

Oh, men! Quirky to be us but fun.

So, there’s a picture to prove it.  Feel free to clap and cheer at will.

Autumn – day 3. Progress, slow but progress still the same.

My strategy did, in fact, work to get me off to a good start today, Some of the things that were causing me anxiety made my top five list and were tackled head-on.   It definitely helped to get to bed early, and to do my morning routines and planning before I turned on my phone or the news.  It felt so much more focused and I think that was partially because I was able to think clearly about the day before listening to the news or engaging with social media.  After all, the purpose of sleep is to clear your mind and heal your body.  What better time to plan than after a shower washes away the sleep and the mind is focused.

Sadly however, I woke with a head cold. My friend Alan calls colds boring.  I’ve never been sure why – perhaps it’s an accurate description.  I felt it coming yesterday and thought just maybe it would go away with a good night’s sleep. Ha!  Wishful thinking. That slowed me down quite a bit and made it hard for me to carry on a smart conversation,  but since we had planned a work bee at Tribe tonight I just carried on.  We achieved some things which will set up us for the next steps but we sure didn’t get as much done as usual.  Chris was also sick, Syfronia was out of action too. We were all moving a little slowly in general. We stuck to the plan and worked until 8 p.m. and then ate together.  I truly love my friends.  We mainly worked on the floors today. That was hard work but it was good work.  The old glue is a pain to remove but the floors underneath are beautiful.

It’s late here now, and I’ll go to bed soon with the hope that my body can go to work and defend against this cold getting any worse.  The strategy for tomorrow will be the same as today. Booze free evening, rest, prepare for the day, plan, and then engage with the world. As I think about this now, this does sound like self care, doesn’t it?

Tomorrow it will be clear what I need to do next to make progress.  I’m sure there will be five things just nipping at my heels to be attended to.  Meanwhile, it’s a beautiful full moon tonight to be enjoyed perhaps with a lovely cup of tea.

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