Time Bandits

July 30, 2009

Yesterday I managed thirteen extras during a film shoot on a moving train going 100 miles an hour. It wasn’t exactly a slow experience, except that making a movie, even if it’s only five minutes long, takes more time than you think.

They shot the scene in the first class section of Germany’s fastest moving train, the ICE. I was responsible for keeping all the extras together as we icemoved from one train station to the next. They called me their ‘room mother’, a term I viewed with a splash of humor and astonishment (I’ve been told on several occasions that I exude a certain matronly authority when carrying a clipboard…). Nonetheless, we completed the shoot by 2 pm, only we had to get back to Munich from Stuttgart, which took another three hours. By the time I got home, it was 6 pm.

Instead of being irritated that the travel time home took longer than the actual shoot, I decided to get friendly with a few of the extras who had been in the scene. I also made friends with someone in the next train on the way home to my car. It turns out we have some mutual acquaintances, making the ride a bit more small-worldish.

Time is what you make of it ~ at any speed!

Alice Naughton says taking ninety minutes a day for herself is no sweat. Well, actually it involves a lot of sweating. She hires a babysitter for her nine month-old and heads to her Bikram Yoga aka Hot Yoga class. I’ve taken a class with Bikram himself. When you’re in a room that’s set at 100 degrees, you choose your movements carefully…

Here’s Alice’s take on doing what she loves. [Listening

Awaken the senses

July 27, 2009

The other day I was at my friend’s office when the book Vom natürlichen Umgang mit der Zeit by Friederun Pleterski and Renate Habinger caught my eye. The title translates as “How to Have a Natural Relationship with Time”. umgang mit zeitAstonished that someone else thought the way I do about time, I devoured the book on our car ride to the Alps in one sitting.

The most notable chapter is about awakening the senses through Nature. As we sped toward the mountains, I took the opportunity between chapters to soak up the landscape. Then, as we rode the cable car to the mountain’s apex, I breathed in the fresh air, noted the ever-changing vegetation, and the coolness surrounding us.

Our four-hour family hike took us eight hours to complete. Somewhere along the way, in all our wonder (and in our children’s eagerness to hike quickly), we took the wrong path. It was a great lesson in the power of slow ~ the faster we went, the more lost we became. Seven hours into it, we finally found the right path. Too much of a good thing can also be detrimental to one’s well-being. Our senses were beyond awakened  ~ they were on steroids with eyes bulging!

In all truth I get my best ideas in Nature, but another important point in the power of slow is realizing what your best pace is. After traveling about the country for a week on tour with a book author friend of mine (post forthcoming), I was looking forward to a steady, yet painless meandering through the forest. Instead we embarked on an odyssey of epic proportions. The sagest lesson learned? Even as we get lost and things take a wrong turn, the best you can do is put one foot in front of the other. Eventually, you will find our reward. In our case, it was a banana split!

Sitting across from your future boss, you may find the situation to be less than comfortable as you interview for the job of your dreams. You may even dread the ultimate question: “What is your greatest strength?”

If you answer too quickly, you risk being viewed as an overconfident or too well-rehearsed individual. If you respond with a weak answer after a pause, well, you reveal your greatest weakness~ not delivering a message with conviction and truth.

Although I have rarely been in a job interview setting (I have managed to develop a career on a referral basis for the most part), I have often pondered how I would answer the question, should I ever find myself having to address it.

What is your greatest strength?

The answer came to me the other day while resolving a conflict I had inadvertantly started. My greatest strength, my friend said, is my unbridled enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm comes from the Greek term enthousiasmos.  The adjective  entheos refers to  “having the god within”. Since we all have God within, I imagine many people have enthusiasm, or at least did at some point in their lives before conditioning taught them otherwise.

At the age of forty, I think there is no turning back. I am indeed a lost case in  the lane of unbridled umph.

Tameless god-within-ness has gotten me into a pickle more than once in my life. My rather impulsive demeanor can be off-putting for the more staid at heart. The fact that I’m in Germany is quite the cosmic joke ~ enthusiasm is not a common charateristic in these parts. 

My so-called strength has not always gotten me into trouble, though. It has also gotten me to where I am today ~without fear of looking stupid, I risk doing so to reach for the heights, climb through the thickets and bound to the other side with joy and abundance. It’s a lot more fun to live as if the sky is the limit than to build walls that say ‘Here, and no farther’.

As my friend added, my greatest strength is indeed my greatest weakness. My guess is it is yours, as well. But you know what? It’s what makes us who we are.

And that’s okay, too.

Slow messages come fast

July 23, 2009

Embracing time as friend is a heart-centered process. We have to develop a distinct listening to our inner selves, the voice of which resides deep within. Taking on the power of slow is not necessarily about slowing down to a turtle’s pace, but about finding out what is truly important to you. When you take a moment to do that, you automatically slow down to look at the Big Picture. The image of the turtle reminds us of who won the Aesopean race after all…

turtleThe landscape of  your Big Picture may have changed over the years, but the overall frame has not. We may not always have words to describe why we do what we do. Our life’s purpose sometimes brings us to a preverbal state in which articulation takes shape on the emotional level. When asked why I do the various, seemingly non-related things I do, I cannot answer other than to say “I just know I must do it.”

When we are in true alignment with that purpose, things make sense, even if they do not make sense to others. In this state of heightened awareness,  slow messages come at a rapid rate.

Life flows.

Hearts swell.

Goodness happens.

So go on and give your time a hug today. We all sure could use a little more love.

Lori Chance, single mom, author and entrepreneur, describes how she makes time by saying the single most powerful word in any language. NO!

Listen here for Lori’s notions of making, not finding, time. [Listening instructions: Click on the link, then click on it again for it to open your media player. Be sure your pop-up blocker has been deactivated].

Good-bye, Walter

July 20, 2009

Change is all there is. And change is certainly in the air now. It seems in the last four weeks we have lost so many icons of our childhood. I don’t know about you, but the passing of these people has put my life into perspective.

walterWe are on this earth to make a difference. Farah Fawcett, with her enviably thick locks and good looks, shaped my early understanding of womanhood. Okay, so Charlie always got to be mysterious while the Angels did his dirty work. But he was never stingy with a kind word, and we all knew who the real hero(in)es were in the story anyway.

Michael Jackson, about whom I have already written, leaves a gaping hole of sadness in many of our hearts. He spoke to that part of us which feels misunderstood, alone, freakish. Michael, we miss you.

And then Walter Cronkite, who taught us that’s the way it is this Day of the Month in this Year.

The passing of so many great people has indeed changed the outer landscape. But it has changed our inner ones as well. As we move through yet another transition in time, our internal change is expressed outwardly and vice versa.

It is indeed sad to say good-bye. Those footsteps are great that we must fill. But with change comes chance. We’ve got a pretty good one in my view…

The American Time Use Survey, released every year in June by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reveals not much as changed since last year in how we spend our time. According to their 2008 report, one-half of our daily leisure time (2.77 hours) is spent watching the tube. Socializing came in a distant second (about 45 minutes daily). Men (3.01 hours ) watched a bit more TV than women (2.55 hours). I don’t suppose those financial shows count, do they?

Nonetheless, the interesting difference this year is that people worked .1 more hours at home than last year (that’s six more minutes for the fractionally challenged). That either means more people are telecommuting or are staying connected to the workplace even longer. A full twenty-one percent (as opposed to twenty percent last year) worked 2.90 hours a day at home on average. When looking at full-time employed men only, that numbers jumps to 3.13 hours a day.

How are we spending our time? A lot of it is spent in front of a monitor. Screen time is becoming more and more prevalent every day…

Gratitude Galore

July 16, 2009

I hit a bump in the road yesterday. It seemed life was sliding down a staircase, and all I could feel was rug-burn. Misunderstandings and miscommunication piled up; an explosion ensued. I reeled from it, realizing my part in feeding the fire only in hindsight.

My mama always says The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

alanisThis morning as I licked my wounds, I sang my heart out to Alanis Morissette’s song, THANK YOU, which embraces all adversity with gratitude. I cried and felt joy and sorrow simultaneously.

Then I found this interview with Alvaro Fernandez about how gratitude can make you happier by 25%. I knew that already, but it was a great reminder. I communicated my apology and gratitude to my friend who was in deep pain, too. We both grew stronger for the experience, then laughed and gave each other a long-distance hug.

Gratitude rules!

Taming Kitchen Beast

July 15, 2009

We’ve all been there in that space of unutterable chaos. Well, at least if you’ve ever lived with kids for even an hour…