Permission to fail

With the weekend down-time, I’m probably gonna start my next puzzle tomorrow. It was a Christmas gift from my niece, and it ended up having a bit of a joke attached to it. You see, she’d also brought a puzzle to her parent’s house as a traditional Christmas project—yet another one of those shared traditions I’m looking forward to ALL of us enjoying together for Christmas 2021!*

Only the wintry scene on the puzzle itself was not a match for the wintry scene she’d chosen, as represented by the picture on the box.

A completed puzzle sitting in front of the puzzle box it was packaged in. The puzzle box shows a wintry scene with a gazebo among tress, with a single red cardinal ion the foreground. The completed puzzle shows a wintry scene of a snowman standing in front of a wooden fence, surrounded by more than a dozen birds.
It was the multiplicity of birds that gave it away

(I will pause for a quick sidebar to give mad props to anyone able to do a 1,000 piece puzzle without a guide photo…)

So, I was warned that the photo on the outside of my new Springbok puzzle box might or might not end up matching the puzzle inside.

A box for a 1,000-piece Springbok puzzle, showing a picture of a red-and-white striped lighthouse on a grassy bluff, in front of a pink and peach colored sunset sky.

It’s like a bonus mystery with my gift. Fun!

Continue reading “Permission to fail”

Dreaming of Readers

Today’s assignment from Blogging 101 is two fold:

publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.

So without further ado, let me get part two of the assignment out of the way post-haste by admitting that, ever since I saw the phrase “Dream Reader,” this has been stuck in my head.

The dreaded earworm strikes again!

Continue reading “Dreaming of Readers”

At War with Stephen Covey

Have you ever seen Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants of time management? I wouldn’t be surprised if you had: Gaia knows they’re everywhere across the Internet, and they’re also featured as a core component of many many management and success seminars.


I’ve cherry-picked a reproduction of the quadrants that makes the point I want. The trick, according to this structure, is to maximize your investment in the “Important but Not Urgent” quadrant, so that important things don’t elevate to “Urgent and Important” (i.e., crisis level). In the meantime, be very wary of the “Urgent but Not Important” category, because this is where the majority of the time sucks and distractors are likely to be housed. (The expectation here is that “Not Urgent/Not Important” things are fairly easy to jettison, while the urgent unimportant things can sometimes be harder to let go of. Fair enough.)

But what if it’s pretty much all urgent and important?

I feel as if I live much of my life by what I have come to call the “bonfire method of project management.”  Which conflagration is burning hottest and brightest, most likely to take down the homestead? Well, throw a little water (effort, time attention) in that direction so it dies down a touch. Now re-assess: which fire is hottest now?

Lather, rinse, repeat. (Yes, I know: I’m mixing my elements along with my metaphors. Bad witch!)

This pattern may be nothing more than an ongoing demonstration at the way I suck at self-motivation and planning ahead. Regardless, I am living a week where pretty much everything feels legitimately Important. And the tension I’m feeling is that the most urgent (time-sensitive) of these important things are all the items driven by external responsibilities — hitting the next work deadline, doing my homework for the retreat weekend, packing for the trip — while the items on the list that are arguably less urgent (i.e., most readily postpone-able) are the tasks and practices I have chosen for myself — journal-writing, ed-reading, JALC.

priorities_despairYes, this is, admittedly, an oversimplification. After all, no one forced me into my wacky non-profit career, and even though the retreat homework and travel is a function of me following someone else’s  direction, the retreat is also an investment in my soul’s growth.

Still, this is another pattern that often runs in my life: putting a higher priority on my responsibilities to others as compared to my responsibility to myself. After all, one of the trickiest parts of Covey’s whole structure is figuring out an answer to this key question: Important to whom?

I was listening to The Jayhawks recently, and there’s a snatch of song lyric that captures this for me:

I don’t expect you to see
But she’s important to me, babe
I guess it’s just one man’s problem


After all, I bet those “Urgent but Not Important” things you’re supposed to be so wary of in your ruthless Covey-an self-management structure are things that are actually legitimately important to someone, if not to you. So that ruthlessly efficient choice setting you up for success could also be the kind of choice that’s screwing some other poor sap over.

Maybe blogging or journal-writing or reading about education all seem like stupid priorities compared to Huge Essential Work projects and Elevated Cutting-Edge Soul Development work. Or, at least, maybe they would seem that way to someone outside my skin, outside my system, outside my soul and aura.

But they feel vitally important to me, babe. One woman’s priorities.

Which is why I continue cheating my sleep these past few days, trying to sprinkle some water on every last one of these important bonfires.

I don’t exactly know how I’m gonna make it to the plane intact at this pace, or, after that, how I’ll have enough gas in the tank to survive the weekend. But I’m just gonna have to figure that out step by step and minute by minute.

Because every bit of this matters.


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Covey’s quadrants:




Going with the Flow and Against the Grain

wood-slice-walkwaySome time last week, I posted about having tickets to see Pentatonix this weekend. Considering how much I love the group, I’ve been struck, as the week has worn on, by my emotions about this upcoming event. Because instead of feeling excited or looking forward to the concert, I was feeling much more a sense of exhaustion and obligation.

There’s a lot else going on right now. Three big proposals all due next week: I’m responsible for writing two of them, and also for wrangling a lot of the extra docs in all three proposal packages. And, of course, it’s tax season, so Mr. Mezzo and I need to give attention there. Plus the usual routine of unpacking and laundry and groceries & cooking — all of which I’m well behind on due to my detox weekend out of town and last weekend’s energy crash.

With all of that on my plate, the idea of a trip into Boston’s House of Blues was definitely carrying a whole lot of pressure around it. The time that it would take. The anxiety of navigating an unfamiliar neighborhood and location. The difficulty of being someplace with food and drink I’m not currently allowed to eat, and knowing I’ll have to go hungry because I can’t figure out how to bring my own dinner along into that setting and past the door guard.

I want the feeling of going to a concert to be a happy step out of the routine, rather than another hoop to jump through. But if I was going to be fearlessly honest with myself, “another hoop to jump through” is exactly how it was feeling.

So Mr. and I have decided to take the concert off of our weekend agenda.

I feel some guilt about having wasted the money — we bought the tickets a couple months ago. And we’ve decided to back out so last-minute that there’s no way to resell anything on Stubhub or the like. So those dollars are just gone.

And I’m also aware that this decision goes against much of the conventional wisdom about how to bring self-care into one’s life and how to prioritize fun and joy in the midst of life’s many responsibilities.

But a big part of the self-care I’m learning during this detox journey is about listening to my body and discerning what is (and isn’t) in true alignment with my system. And, for whatever reason, this planned excursion wasn’t feeling in alignment for me. So I want to practice moving with the flow of my own instincts, even if that leads me to choices that seem illogical or counter-intuitive to someone else.

And this way I know I’ve got a good chance of getting to bed at a reasonable hour for all of the next three nights. Which, considering all my early mornings this past week, is a source of joy all unto itself.


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