Organize, Enjoy, Repeat

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Today seems to be the first day in a long time that it is overcast and slightly cooler. A perfect day to tend to some business at home. Things that usually pile up because the summer lures us outside. Whenever I tackle the chaos at home, I usually start in my head. I like to make lists, look ahead and determine short term, mid range and long term goals. In my last post I mentioned manifesting and I would put that under long term goals. Manifesting or visualizing for me is a way of becoming clear about what I would like a the best outcome to be in the future. Mid range goals usually include my calendar for the upcoming week, including groceries (to be able to grab healthy snacks and cook well) and taking care of our dog, Zola. I try to get an idea of my husband's calendar, too but it tends to change on a daily basis.

Today is a short term goal kinda day, clean and store my workout equipment, clean the apartment, prepare my next sessions and decide which ice cream to make next in our new ice cream maker.

When I'm organized I tend to eat better, sleep better, create better and generally feel more at ease; but in a hectic city and being plugged in electronically 24/7 it is sometimes difficult to achieve. Some people hire others to help, them but what if that is not an option? My coach was pretty good at giving sound advice on this topic (and could be strict enforcing it) during my very active years. So here they are: tools necessary to organizing yourself despite what is thrown at you on any given day:

  1. Take a step back: don't dive in head first, you will exhaust yourself trying to do everything at once. Instead, take a step back and assess and then create a list of what needs to be addressed first, second, etc. Competing in five events and training for each one, taught me that it was probably less detrimental to miss a shooting practice than losing hours in the pool or on the track.
  2. Don't get distracted: mindfulness is beautifully described in this recent article: "This Simple Mental Trick can slow down Time". Pay attention to what you are doing and maybe you will find some fun in it. I never particularly enjoyed stretching before a swim practice but I tried to focus on each stretch and what its benefits were.
  3. Remember the big picture: if you feel like you failed at any given time, don't dwell on it too much. Things are still moving along. Who says you won't meet your goal? You're likely to cause more damage beating yourself up than remembering where you are headed and marching on. My coach was a master at creating semi-annual goals and remembering them throughout smaller setbacks. If I got sick, there was really nothing we could do than be patient and get back on the horse (literally!).
  4. Reward yourself: once you meet a deadline, achieve a goal or a part of it, celebrate it! Now that can be a very individual thing, whether you enjoy a good massage, a nice meal or quality time with friends it will all help you to be even better in the future. In athletic terms there is something called supercompensation when you take a sudden dip from a plateau before you soar to much better results. Recognizing that point of having reached a new high is important. Only through rest and contentment can we tackle new things.
  5. Do everything with focus and diligence: similar to not getting distracted this is even more important. Treat each task as if it was the most important one. Only then will you finish it satisfactory. If you clean the apartment (find help on Sous Style) but only parts of it instead of focusing on getting it all done, you will keep that nagging feeling that it's not quite right and not be happy with it. In sports, if I didn't give it my best when 100% were demanded in practice, meant that during my next competition I would be missing these important seconds, the speed, the agility or the endurance and precision.
  6. Delegate: ultimately, when you can't do it all yourself. Get help! This is particularly important in an office environment or in any other team environment really. You can't do it all by yourself. As much as I was a professional athlete in an individual sport, I was only as good as the support both practical and emotional that I received from my coach and others that wanted me to succeed.

I dare you to try it. Have a great weekend! Enjoy the calm after the storm.

Big Sur

 

Keeping things in perspective - how our puppy taught us to focus on the positive

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In December, my husband and I - after not much deliberation - decided to get a Vizsla puppy who at the time was roughly 4 weeks old. We had seen her photos and despite knowing the breed's size and temperament as hunting dogs who need a lot of exercise, couldn't resist getting her at this time, although it was a rather trying period in our professional lives. For the next 6 weeks, we were giddy with anticipation and brainstormed names. We decided to name her Zola, which means "tranquil" in the Zulu language and were assured that all Vizsla's from this breeder were extremely relaxed, sweet mannered and therefore easy to handle. So in early February Zola arrived in Brooklyn and quickly became the darling of our neighbourhood. People squealed on the street and she learned soon that there was nothing to fear - not fire trucks nor noisy buses - and came to enjoy the attention quite a bit. We would take her outside every 1.5 hrs and made sure we followed every rule in the book to be calm and assertive parents but she was (and still is) a puppy. Sleep deprived and covered in little teeth marks we went through multiple evenings of testing each others' boundaries and almost every other week included a visit to the vet for vaccines or one of the several things that young dogs can have.

While being parents to Zola, we were both building businesses, so we had to go through paperwork and meet with accountants and lawyers. I was finishing certifications for pre/post natal exercise and a yoga teacher training all while we split up exercising her for almost 2 hours a day.  With the stress of training a young dog and not being able to leave the house for longer than a very hurried dinner, we soon came to be less than fond of our forced time together not to mention the stress we felt about yet another event: our impending (second) wedding with friends and family flying to New York from all corners of the world.

And then something magical happened. At the point of all of our stresses culminating, we took a trip to the Hamptons, strapped Zola into the back seat of our rental car, made a reservation with a dog friendly woman and left. New Yorkers will attest, that leaving the city behind can have a soothing quality and so it happened that we arrived on a freezing beach a few hours later and didn't mind it. Zola ran and was the happiest dog in the world, leash free in the sand, turning, chasing balls, focused on just us because there was nobody else crazy enough to be there. And she made us giggle, frozen and tired we could finally laugh about all of it.

Since our little getaway we have talked about how we need to relax and introduce a lighter mood into our current life. When we get stuck in a rut we look at Zola and watch her curiosity, her insatiable hunger for learning and her way to never hold a grudge even when she doesn't get what she wants. We recognize her eagerness to please, rather than focusing on her occasional testing of boundaries and our being together has changed drastically.

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In life, we go through stages that are difficult, we are tested and tried and when everything happens at the same time, it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep our chin up. Too often, one negative thought can lead to the next, the mind somehow convincing the body that it is too tired to move and the not moving adding to the downward spiral of a negative self image. It's in these situations that we can learn from our four legged companions. Movement keeps them happy, they don't hold on to resentment, they focus on the important things and if there is something to be happy about, they embrace it wholly! In some areas, we have already learned from animals, we place newborns and preemies on their parents' bare chests to create a bond and make them feel safe and at a later stage people with disabilities or high levels of anxiety have the opportunity to profit from being around animals in therapy that helps them feel grounded again. Often senior citizens who have a pet feel less lonely, too.

We have come to love Zola's 'velcro' personality when she insists on being part of everything we do. If she can have maximum body contact with one of us she is almost as happy as when it's a pile of all three of us on the couch. She entertains us with things she learns and melts our heart with her pure and unconditional love. When we get stressed, she will often deflect the situation by doing something that makes us laugh so hard, we have tears streaming down our cheeks and forget what we argued about. She has taught us so much and continues to do so. We couldn't imagine life without her.