On Mission

Productivity
You will not find your mission by standing still. The only way to find it is by challenging yourself in something - I would almost say it does not matter what. Then by making consistent effort, the direction you should take will open up before you quite naturally, just as wide, new horizons open up before someone walking up a hill. Little by little you will come to understand your mission. That is why it is so important to have the courage to ask yourself what it is that you should really be doing right now, at this very moment. It is likewise important to set your sights high. The greater the tasks you chose to take on - one step at a time - the more rewarding and joyful…
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On puzzling

Personal Narrative, Productivity
So we puzzle. The kids are gifted puzzles for birthdays and what have you, and the four of us sit around at various intervals and piece them together. Our latest enterprise? Tour de la Tour, a 1000-piece Crowd Pleasers that features countless bikers who are dressed alike and are engaged in sometimes similar, oftentimes strange activities. This puzzle is sort of challenging, yet also sort of easy because many of the pieces have tell-tale images: A small red bell on a bike that's otherwise the same as all the other bikes. A black shark fin in a stretch of sandy pathways. A dark sheep in the middle of all the ivory ones, and so on. I'll have to admit, this puzzle has drawn me in more than the others we've done so far. Perhaps more…
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Discipline, composure and victory.

Personal Narrative
It's not often you'll find me in front of a television, but this weekend I caught a few minutes of the Penn Relays. I was in for a treat. As a high school runner, I enjoy a good track meet and I immediately bond with a team or athlete, wringing my hands and/or cheering until a given event is over. I tuned in just in time for the Women's Sprint Medley Relay. For the uninitiated, each member of a relay team runs a specified distance, then passes the baton to the next member, who does the same. Sometimes all members of a relay run the same distance as in this brilliant world record win by the USA Women's Olympic Team: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNN-ybME8SI] But for a medley, the legs vary, and…
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Dreams, obligations and learning to say no.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Text Talk
How many minutes per day are enough to set aside for your dreams when you have a full 25 hours of obligations? Blue posed this question to me last week. I was between two appointments and missing Tananarive Due's Octavia E. Butler Celebration of Arts & Activism at Spelman College. (#OctaviaButlerSpelman). I was disappointed, but thanks to social media, I caught some of the proceedings later via live stream. Blue's question was a good one. He offered a response: Maybe the secret is minimizing your obligation footprint. But how? In the past my approach has been to start with dreams instead of waiting to fit them in later. "Later" isn't tangible. In fact, by definition, later is always some time other than the present. Starting with dreams means waking before sunrise to tackle priorities. Or it…
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Great beginnings

Productivity
It's a marvelous Monday. Did you start off strong? If not, maybe it's time to revamp your opening rituals. Successful people spend the first hour of their day in preparation and edification. Postpone email and other non urgent tasks. There are more productive ways to begin your day than to see what other people need or want from you. Give yourself some time to gear up before launching into administrivia. The truly urgent messages will make their way to you, but the others can wait. Practice mindfulness and gratitude. No matter where you are in time and space, there's something you can be grateful for. What is it? Bear it in mind as you begin your day. Eat that frog. Determine the most important task for the day and devise…
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On clarity and sabotage

30 Day Blog Challenge
The clearer you are about what you're supposed to be doing, the harder it is to do something else. #random — nicole means victory (@ndcollier) September 24, 2013 This has been a year of transition.  Every season thus far has boasted some sort of change, and that remains true with the advent of fall. Recent professional shifts have left me considering next steps, which, in many ways, will be a return to previous steps. As I checked in with self about my current professional path, the thought above came to me. When I say "supposed to be doing" I don't mean according to some external metric.  These days it's easy to be swayed by the expectations of Big Brother. We're a surveillance-happy society, wherein we've virtually relinquished self-control and self-expression…
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Good credit. #NaBloPoMo #amwriting.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Productivity
When good things happen, people tend to underestimate how much credit is due to their own efforts, and overestimate the influence of outside forces. That was just luck. It's only because someone else did thus and such. I was in the right place at the right time. Meanwhile, when something negative happens, the opposite is suddenly true. They get plenty of credit for the poor outcome, while the external forces are let off the proverbial hook. It's all my fault. I always do thus and such wrong. If only I had done this, that or the other thing. In either case, the scales are always tipped to favor luck for good things, and self for bad. Why is that? We are co-creators in this world. That means just as there…
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Beets and baby steps. #NaBloPoMo

30 Day Blog Challenge, Productivity
Baby steps count. I've said it before and it bears repeating from time to time. As I've mentioned, I'm traveling a lot these days. When I'm home, I try to detox to some degree. This weekend I had the great intention to make hot pink smoothies. What makes a smoothie hot pink? One half of one raw beet! My time is limited on the weekends, and I was excited to make it to my local grocer to get beets and the other ingredients. Once home, I unloaded the groceries and immediately departed. No time to clean beets and fire up the blender. I rushed around handling other business, lamenting my unprepared beets. Hours passed in this way. Then one day. Then two. Not until I was just about ready to…
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The Joy Jar

Personal Narrative, Productivity, Temple Building
In 2013, I shall fill my joy jar to overflowing. What, you may be wondering, is a joy jar? It is a piggy bank of sorts. Instead of money, in go notes, mementos, and expressions of joy about the wonderful things that have happened throughout the year. Melanie Duncan explains it this way: A beautiful idea, and a creative twist on the gratitude journal. I am currently in search of an appropriate vessel, and I'm excited in advance, about all the things it will contain. A few reminders are in order: No victory is too small, and every joy is worth documenting. Attention brings awareness to the joy already present in daily life. Look around in wonder and with a grateful heart. It's not a race to fill up the bowl.…
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A Request

Feminist Thought, Personal Narrative
You are not an impostor and you are not alone. This, despite any feelings or supposed evidence you may have to the contrary. I wish someone had shared this with me before I started graduate school. I wish it had been the hook of a song I was required to sing each morning upon waking. I wish I had repeated it, hand over heart, at the beginning of each class period; a pledge and a reminder. As it was, I didn't figure these things out until quite near the end of it all, after many days (years) of wondering what the hell I was doing there. Really. A former student of mine solicited advice on finishing up away from peers and profs. It's a good question. There's enough isolation during…
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