FYI: Why This Blog is on Hiatus
I’m pleased to report that I’ve gotten settled in Paris after my move here Nov. 9. Things are going well and the adventure, of course, continues!
I wanted to check in and let you know that Art Reminds the Soul is on an indefinite hiatus because I am focusing on my primary blog/business, Executive Dysfunctions. In it, I cover many of the same subjects I’ve explored here, such as streamlining and simplification, with a specific focus toward applying those tools to the dilemmas of organization for people with AD/HD and other quirky brain functions. I strongly encourage you to check it out and follow it if you’re already subscribed here (or if you stumble upon this and like what you see).
I may update this space from time to time as it pertains to my personal journeys, but for now, check the new home for my work! You can also find me on Google+.
Next Steps: The Foundation of Making Things Happen
***Please note: This post is cross-posted to my new WordPress site, Executive Dysfunctions, which will be the home of my ADD-management work. This site will continue to be updated with posts related to my minimalist-inspired journey, but will likely be phased out over the next few months. Please follow me at the new place!***
In the realm of time management and productivity, I draw inspiration from several outside sources. In terms of developing a consistent system, I have adapted some of my recommendations from David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, an organization book geared toward business professionals that can be (mostly) translated to any and all areas of life. Although it is definitely written from the perspective of a highly privileged, upper-class, able-bodied, educated, heterosexual, white American male, this book is an anomaly among mainstream organizing approaches in that many of its tools can be used by people with ADD and other executive function disorders.
Big Picture: Find a Better Job
What has to happen first?
/ \ \
Interview for Jobs Update my resume Search for Available Jobs
What has to happen before any of these can be done?
-> Determine what kind of new job I want
From here, my next action will vary, depending on whether I choose A or B:
For example, when you call Bob for a reference, he may tell you that he heard of an opening at this great new web organization, or say something that brings to mind a key point for your resume. Even if nothing more than the intended reference comes out of the phone call, you have already broken down your goal enough to easily extract a Next Action from your brainstorming; this becomes more intuitive as time goes on (and, as we translate this concept into a system, you’ll have a master list to refer to when you feel “stuck”).
This means that almost as soon as you reframe your approach to the traditional “to-do” list, all the hours you used to spend painstakingly outlining your step-by-step plan of action will be completely unnecessary - a thought both scary and liberating. Scary because you have to give up the (erroneous) idea that you can know and control exactly what will happen on the way to your goal; liberating because you will quickly find that you have a lot more time to devote to doing your goals rather than planning them.
What is the Next Step you can take toward your current goal?
(Next post: An overview of the system.)
Watch This for Inspiration in Freeing Yourself from Stuff.
I got this brain food from a stimulating blogger I’ve been following for over a year, Ev Bogue, in this recent post. This video, along with other recent posts from him and a new e-friend, Tessa Zeng, was just what I needed to reinvigorate my quest for a minimalist, meaning-saturated existence (which has been on the back burner as I’ve barreled through the end of my degree program). What does this mean? That more posts, with greater focus, are coming soon! Namaste, Steven
The Longer I Run, The Less That I Find
Tonight as I was biking home from my meeting - the topic of which was “Courage to Change” - I asked my Higher Power for guidance in the dilemma with which I’ve been grappling for the past week (and on some level, for the past several months): whether to move to Paris in October, regardless of the “if” of my job (the future of which currently rides on one grant that we may or may not get this month - I’ve been saying that if we don’t get it, I’m moving in October rather than waiting til the spring).
The next four songs on Pandora (which was playing on my phone) were relevant:
1. Sleeping to Dream - Jason Mraz (this one expressed my yearning that underlies the whole debate)
2. Longer I Run - Patrick Bradley Adams (this one raised every hair on my body, so much that I had to look up the lyrics when I got home to make sure I heard them right. It made more sense in black & white. Check it out. Will explain further.)
3. Boston - Augustana (expresses the standpoint from which I DON’T want to make this decision, which is the basis for my fear about doing it without the excuse of my workplace going under - running from problems, etc.)
4. Here w/o You - 3 Doors Down (brought it back around to the yearning and the loneliness I feel, even among friends, without you here.)
To me, these songs helped to confirm that my heart and gut are in line and right on this one: It’s time to jump, to find the courage to change. A note I made from my meeting kept ringing throughout this contemplation: “Does the problem itself cause the anxiety, or does the fear of the solution cause the anxiety?” The thought process spurred by these songs reinforced, repeatedly, that in this case, it is the fear of the solution.
This change is huge; it involves every aspect of my life; it terrifies me, overwhelms me…
…and for all of these reasons, and so many others, I need to make it.
The logistics are to be announced. The date is not set in stone. But I have made the decision. I’m moving as soon as I can.
When my blood runs warm with an old red wine,
And when I hear the sound of the blackbird’s cry
Well this road I’m on is gonna turn to sand.
If I wander until I die
If my home I’ll never find
The longer I run the less that I find, selling my soul for a nickel & dime.
Breaking my heart to keep singing these rhymes
Tell my brother please not to look for me
But if my savior comes could you let him know
Quick Update and Teaser!
Hi! I’m still alive!
I didn’t realize just how long it had been since I updated here. After the first few weeks of not posting, I admitted to myself that I have indeed taken on too much this spring, and the blogging simply has to take a back seat temporarily. This will change in the very near future - roughly the time when my classes end in May.
The hiatus has not been unproductive; I have used it to gain a sharper focus for the content of this blog, and if I may say so myself, it’s going to be awesome! There will be purging, yes, but so much more! Thus, the teaser:
As a work in progress, my greatest challenges have not been those usually addressed by minimalist blogs - reservations about parting from stuff, limiting beliefs about my potential, fears of dreaming big. While those have been minor obstacles, I’ve surmounted them with ease thanks to the existing literature (see links below). My major issues revolve around certain special needs, and I’ve come to realize that the same ways in which those affect my life academically and financially also impact my progress in this minimalist journey toward a better life.
As you may already know from the erratic format of this blog (and certainly do if you know me personally), I have ADD - not the “ha ha, I’m so scattered it’s funny” kind, but the genuine medical kind that derives from structural and chemical anomalies in the brain. Thanks to modern science, which released a plethora of information about the exact nature of this disorder in the first few years of this century, I have an asset now that I didn’t as a kid: understanding.
I’ve spent the past two years actively creating the structures and supports in my life that my brain does not naturally possess or produce. As a result, I have progressively increasing sustainable life-management practices and decreasing stress levels. I’ve made order of my disorder.
Over the next several months, I will apply these tools to these big plans I’ve been on about for so long, document that process, and turn it into instructional material - news you can use.
Among these features will be:
- Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work, and What to Do if Your Brain Doesn’t Have Them
…as well as reviews of helpful literature, links to outside resources, interviews with experts in the field, and other fantastic things I haven’t even thought of yet!
- Man vs. Debt: Meet Baker, his wife Courtney, and their adorable kid, Milligan. They’re currently RV-ing it around the US helping average people look their financial demons in the eye and stare them down. Baker is also introducing a new venture, You vs. Debt, which will offer free and purchasable tools for winning the staring contest.
- Zen Habits: Leo Baubuta is a father of several who has found peaceful, independent living through minimalist pursuits. His e-book, The Simple Guide to A Minimalist Life, is an amazing resource for anyone looking to apply minimalist principles to their life - be that paring down your knick-knacks or preparing to live out of a backpack. Also, if you use this link to buy it, I get a cut! Yay!
- Ev Bogue used to teach people how to be minimalist, but he’s recently upgraded to teaching people how to be superhuman. His Minimalist Business is an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who want to keep their overhead low to zero. I haven’t read Augmented Humanity yet, but if it looks like an interesting read, go for it. Again, ordering either of them through my link gets me a commission - wins all around!
New Year, New Focus: Taking This Blog to the Next Level
My last two posts have alluded to the impending arrival of something big, or at least something constant, in this blog. Today, all shall be revealed.
In his book The Art of Being Minimalist, Everett Bogue says, “Think of something impossible, an objective that you always wanted to achieve but that everyone told you was impractical. Make that your goal for next year.”
I first read that about six months ago, and it’s been marinating in my brain ever since. This blog was born out of that mulling, as was my purchase of the domain http://www.earthphoenixart.com (still under construction). I’ve been paring down my belongings and obligations, trying to reveal the core of myself in order to set the ultimate goal. During my trip to Paris, the facets have finally come together into a coherent, complete diamond, much like the rough-cut one that sits in a ring Lorena gave to me over a year ago, which the artist titled, “The Incredible Journey.”
Lorena gave this to me, set with a diamond in the rough and inscribed on the inner band with the mantra “Namaste,” both to remind me to follow my dreams and to honor the ways in which I have inspired her to follow hers.
Just after I received this beautiful gift, I applied to art school in New York - a dream I’d abandoned in high school because the expense made it impossible. I didn’t get in. But the trying was what I needed out of the experience; it breathed new life into me, and reminded my soul that it thrives on making art. I vowed to make this part of my daily life as soon as I was able.
Now I am preparing to do just that. Three weeks in Paris with my muse and only the belongings I can carry have given me a taste of what that ideal life would look like. I have my goal:
Do I need to do part one of that statement in order to achieve part two? Absolutely not. Do I want to? Absolutely so. It’s Paris, come on!
Many small steps and intermediate goals must transpire to lead me to this ultimate goal. From here on, this blog will document that journey. In my next post, I will unveil the overall structure of those steps, and how they intrinsically relate to the stated purpose of this goal - art, minimalism, and interconnectedness. Stay tuned.
Hair: A Sub-Plot of My Mindfulness Journey
Bonjour, mis amis! I am writing from Paris, where I am enjoying the fruits of my labors and penny-pinching for the past several months in the form of a three-week visit with my beautiful and talented fiancee, Lorena!
This first week has flown by, and the second promises to be eventful and fruitful.
Part of my evil plan whilst on this side of the great Atlantic pond was to regroup and refocus my blog - and the anticipated motivation hit me on our way home from Lolo’s cousin’s house on Xmas Eve. I am currently concocting a post to outline this grand plan, to be launched on or around New Year’s Day. Call it an over-arching New Year’s Resolution, a life path, a crazy hare-brained scheme… but all will be revealed in good time.
For now, I would like to share with you a mindfulness journey on which I embarked around the time Lorena left New Orleans on her journey toward Paris, grad school, and achieving her dreams. She flew to Miami, where her family lives, on August 2. I had last cut my hair on or about July 30. As I was mourning her departure and adjusting to our new relationship structure (long-distance, that is), I had a sudden inspiration: “I will not cut my hair for the duration of our time apart.”
Now, I have tried to grow my hair out several times over the last 12 years since I first cut it above my ears, and, in every case, have become impatient and abandoned the endeavor. It is currently the longest it has been in that time, having previously reached this point once as a senior in high school (10 years ago) and once during my time at Tulane (about 7 years ago). Since I began my medical transition, I’ve kept it fairly short - at first to aid in “passing,” then because I liked the clean-cut look and/or the low maintenance. My most recent attempt was last year. I don’t think I made it two months before the shagginess around the ears drove me crazy.
For some reason, though, when the thought came into my head in August, I knew I was serious this time. I also knew it was important on a deeper level, though I couldn’t quite articulate why. True to my nerdy tendencies, I went off into cyberspace and read as much as I could find about the process of growing out one’s hair, tips, dos and don’ts, etc. I even found a scholarly article about men’s hair, which gave me some righteous gender-debunking and spiritual fuel for my fire. (Watch my other blog, TransActions, for a post on this in the near future.) Still, I was honest with myself and my friends that I wasn’t quite sure why I needed to do this - I just knew that I did.
Eventually, in a moment of frustration at the communication hindrances of a transatlantic engagement, it hit me: growing my hair out is a mindful exercise in patience.
I am fairly patient by my Taurean nature, especially when it comes to other people. But when it comes to long-term planning and cultivating results, my ADD impulsivity takes over, and I get distracted, change course, or just fume in the frustration of not having instant gratification. This is a trait of mine that I do not like. I am generally good at turning my shortcomings into strengths, but this one has been my undoing so many times that I must concede it to be a weakness.
While I have at no point doubted my ability to make the most of the difficulty and loneliness that can come with a long-distance relationship, I realize that I am only human and will inevitably become frustrated at times. In those moments, I need a reminder that I am in a process of becoming, not waiting for some end; that growth is continuing on a daily basis, even if it is imperceptible at times. Growing out my hair - with no defined physical goal, but just to see what happens - is that reminder. And it has been working very well as such. Through each stage of growth, I appreciate the time and patience it has taken to get here, and look forward to seeing what happens next.
Are there days when I get frustrated with my hair? Of course. Sometimes I look like a shaggy dog, a cockatiel, or a mushroom when I wake up in the mornings (or well into the rest of the day)! Other times I just look messy. But intriguingly, and unlike any prior attempt, I have yet to think, “Screw it, I’m cutting it off.” Moreover, I’m finding that I like each stage of growth. Right now I’m in what is generally agreed upon as the “Awkward Stage” - the hair’s grown over my ears, but won’t quite stay tucked behind them, and is still a couple of inches shy of a ponytail. But I like it. It takes a while to comb it flatteringly sometimes, but once I get it right, it looks pretty darn sexy. If I’m having an all-out bad hair day, I can just put on a hat and hope it looks better tomorrow! (It almost always does.)
Just as I find a new life lesson every time I walk a labyrinth (see chest tattoo in my blog photo), I find a new relationship lesson every time I get frustrated or flattered by my hair. Chief among them: patience is a virtue; rewards earned are so much sweeter than those given; and tossing aside expectations allows you to see beauty beyond your wildest dreams.
With that, I share with you my journey in hair.