Category Archives: Author

Mind like water: Stress-free productivity

Don’t get set into one form: adapt it and build your own, and let it grow. Be like water. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless—like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

—Bruce Lee as found in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Over the past year, during my work at the library or as a writer, I’ve heard comments like this:

  • I’m trying to read now that I have more time, but I can’t concentrate!
  • My mind doesn’t want to focus on anything “heavy.” My productivity has plummeted.
  • I’m supposed to be working/writing, but it’s so difficult to stick with it.

The stresses of COVID are messing with our minds, and our productivity.

Today I wanted to lie on my couch and do nothing. That sounded like the BEST plan.

I opened my phone. I clicked on an old link. I found Bruce Lee’s phrase, and I got up off the couch.

“Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input, then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact.”

David Allen in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

If I throw a rock into a pond, the water has to react. It can’t NOT react.

COVID threw a rock into us. It was a BIG rock. We responded. We couldn’t NOT react. And we reacted appropriately to the force and mass.

Now, like water, we can return to calm. Out of that, productivity flows.

Ripples on water

Friendship: Organized compassion

Many people choose a word for the year. For the past few years my word has been chosen for me on the first Sunday of the year at our church. For the past nine months our “church” has not been a building; it has been an online community. The friendships with people from that community have kept me strong, led me to think, and made me laugh through the pandemic.

I guess it’s only fitting then that the word that community gifted to me for 2021 is FRIENDSHIP.

Friendship is a foundation. With a solid base of friendships, a person can hold steady through stormy times.

Friendship involves a mix of generations, of old and young sharing time.

Friendships reveal truths and provide opportunities for growth. Real friends tell us when we’re messing up. They let us know if we have grown stagnant and need to take on a new challenge.

Friendships make the world a better place. Friends volunteer together, raise funds, and help others.

Friendships promote lifelong learning. In book clubs, writing circles, courses, and one travels together, friends learn something new every day.

Friendships are fun. With friends we sing, dance, tell stories and laugh.

Friendships are comfort. They are organized compassion.

With FRIENDSHIP as my word, 2021 should be a spirit-filled year.

Cut out letters on a sign: We love, We Laugh, We Cry, We Live.

Doing this post whipstitch

In my previous post I wrote about different ways to look at a commonly used expression. Another part of our book club conversation that day involved different expression.

A family member of one of our members lives in eastern Canada. In a conversation the family member said, “I can take care of that whipstitch,” meaning, “I can do that quickly.”

That was a new one for all of us.

A whipstitch is a simple sewing stitch used to join two pieces of fabric, knitting or crocheting together. It is the fastest way to complete that task, so the expression makes sense.

I found a different definition on Urban Dictionary. [CAUTION: Some definitions on Urban Dictionary may cause you to lose sleep, or at the very least say “Ew.”]

Their definition:every chance you get,” as in, “my wife calling me at every whipstitch is getting very annoying.

I hadn’t heard that one before either. I like it, even though I would have preferred a different sentence as a demonstration.

Something like, “Telemarketers calling at every whipstitch is getting very annoying.” There’s something we can all get on board with.

Do you have any local expressions to add to my list?

A good time of year to dance: Hafiz

Here is a phrase I’ve heard some lately: “If I don’t laugh, I might cry.”

Laughing is good. Or dancing!

The God Who Only Knows Four Words

by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master

Every
Child
Has known God.
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don'ts,
Not the God who ever does
Anything weird,
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
"Come dance with Me."
Come
Dance.

What Should We Do About That Moon?

by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master

A wine bottle fell from a wagon
And broke open in a field.

That night one hundred beetles and all their cousins
Gathered

And did some serious binge drinking.

They even found some seed husks nearby
And began to play them like drums and whirl.
This made God very happy.

Then the "night candle" rose into the sky
And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument,
Said to his friend—for no apparent
Reason,

"What should we do about that moon?"

Seems to Hafiz
Most everyone has laid aside the music

Tackling such profoundly useless
Questions.
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Rain on a cottage roof

“How was the weather?” people ask when we return from our cottage. They assume we would wish for nothing but sunshine and warmth.

But wet weather is a wonderful part of vacation life too. Rainy days are perfect for cocooning with a good book, or for settling in for a nap.

There are few sounds more soothing than rain on a cottage roof . . .

Photos are way more dramatic is wet weather too.

Bless that which you want

According to the ancient Polynesian wisdom of Ka Huna, we should bless that which we want.

The shamans of Hawaii use the power of words and mind to heal the self, others and situations. They believe:

  • If we resent people who have what we want, our resentment keeps what we desire away. (Don’t you want to avoid resentful people?)
  • If we believe ourselves unworthy of receiving, that drives away the object of our desire. (Wouldn’t you rather hang around with confident friends?)

Resentment and feelings of unworthiness are both negative emotions. When we bless, there’s no room for negativity. Blessing nuzzles it out of the way.

Blessing has no space for thoughts like:

  • “Oh sure, why does he get to live in a big house when I’m stuck in a tiny apartment.”
  • “Those shoes would look so much better on me.”
  • “I don’t want to be a multi-millionaire. I don’t want to have to worry about handling all that money.”

When we bless others, their day gets a little brighter, and we feel better too. The positives grow in an ever-expanding ripple.

What do you want to bless today?