#79 Go to the Library

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#79

Go to the Library

In this digital age of Kindle and e-readers and Amazon’s ability to deliver hard copy books to us in 48 hours or less, our jaunts to the library are far and few between for most of us. What was once a weekly trek to replace the books that I’d devoured in in short time has become a rare occurrence. Sadly, I must admit that it’s my loss – not taking the time to enjoy browsing the rows of hard bound books – running my fingers along the spines and choosing carefully, a new book to read.

Libraries appeal to our senses in a way the a laptop connected to the internet never can.

Aromas

There’s something whole-hearted about being in a library. That smell, the aroma of paper and glue, of dust and ink. If it was a glass of wine it may have hints of acidity and grass or vanilla and smoke. The old ones are my favorite as that old inviting scent seems to have permeated the walls.

Comfort

They seem to have more nooks and crannies that allow you to hide, or escape with a book. It’s one of my favorite places to go if I need to concentrate on a project as I hope that the collective wisdom, represented by the volumes of information will guide me.

Sounds

The hushed quiet is reassuring in some way. It’s as if we must be still in order to absorb what our eyes are experiencing. The complimentary noises of books opening and closing, of being moved around on the shelves, and of people searching connects to our brain in a way that may remind it to scour for its own collection of information. It’s as if sitting in a library reminds us to dig deeper into our own knowledge banks.

History

There’s a bit of history in libraries that has yet to be captured by the world wide web. Certainly, we’re not yet at the point where each and every book has been scanned electronically. There are historical collections of newspapers, magazines, and lessor known copy that exist in libraries – especially the larger ones – that can offer a historical perspective unavailable in our technology. There’s something magical about holding a book published in 1940 and understanding that it’s been moved around our culture and literally shared by thousands of people since. Touching it connects you to that history – joining your combined energy and adding your own historical fingerprint.

If we don’t make the effort to continue to support these institutions, they will disappear and the world will lose part of its vitality; an element of its heartbeat. So, the next time you pass by… make the effort and take some time to…

Go to the library.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#248 Sit in a park

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#248

Sit in a park

So, it’s Sunday afternoon and you’re at the park. Perhaps you’re walking through. Maybe you’re having a picnic. Could be you’re biking, running, or playing your way through the terrain… when was the last time you simply sat??

Why a park?

Generally, parks are green spaces created with our pleasure in mind. Pleasure because they offer an open space (open is relative here) where we can go for an outdoor experience. Of course that often means some kind of activity and yet all those benches that we see in parks aren’t only for rest in between activity. You might also sit on a blanket in the park or on a rock. Perhaps you prefer to plunge right down in the grass, allowing yourself to feel the ground specifically beneath you. The goal is to find a spot in the park and to sit alone and quietly there; contemplating or observing everything in your sight.

Parks are a great place to find a few quiet moments – perhaps not quiet from the perspective of sound – but from our individual lives. There in the park, we can slip away from responsibility, from demands of work and family, and utilize the energy of the outdoor environment to rejuvenate.

Be Mindful

As you sit there – in the park – take time to be mindful. Notice the grass, the sky, the people, the sounds, the temperature, and the textures. Pay attention to details… color differences, movement, and decibels.

Allow it all to move through your sight line without attachment and if you can… practice gratitude or compassion with each observation. (i.e., “I’m so grateful for the sensation of the sun on my face.”)

Sitting alone in a park can be an experience all in its own.

Paley Park

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One of my most favorite memories is finding the jewel of Paley Park in New York City. Walking east along 53rd street, just past MOMA, there’s a small break in the storefronts – almost unnoticeable – and yet with a glance you are immediately lured into an open square canopied by trees and flanked by a wall of water falling into a pond. The sounds of Manhattan cease and your senses are filled with nature. The temperature falls instantly by ten degrees as the air is cooled and pushed by the water cascading 20 feet across the entire back of the park. Without hesitation, I pulled up a chair and allowed that space to evaporate the metropolitan energy from my mind; replacing it with a lightness and freshness that can only be induced by Mother Nature.

Create your Own Moment

Understandably, most readers won’t be running to Paley Park anytime soon (highly recommended if you find yourself in NYC) and yet there are dozens of options near you at any given time as our culture is rather park-minded overall. A local town square, a community green space, a state game land, or a national treasure all offer opportunities to get grounded if we just take a moment and …

Sit in a park.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#355 Jigsaw puzzles

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#355

Jigsaw puzzles

I’m not quite sure why puzzles have such a bad rap. In my younger days we put puzzles together, mod podged them (wasn’t that the original use for mod podge?), and use them as inexpensive wall art. After all… we spent all that time putting it together and it felt sinful to instantaneously break it back into pieces and box it up.

I guess that’s one of the arguments against puzzles. Why bother if you are going to undo it? Furthermore, puzzles are like books for some – once you do it, there’s no enjoyment in a repeat experience so it may feel rather futile all together.

I may argue however, that puzzles are a great tool in the pursuit of mindfulness. They encourage our attention and concentration unlike television or reading. They allow us to simultaneously converse and engage. They provide a common ground and in some cases, allow for teamwork (“help me find this red piece”).

Having a puzzle ready for assembly is a great tool for breaking habits. When it sits out and is available as a distraction tool, it can replace energy that might otherwise be directed toward a smoke or snack break. It’s something that can be addressed five minutes at a time or in a five hour stint without recourse. Indeed, it’s a terrific – non-electronic – way to spend a rainy afternoon with a little Bon Jovi in the background and a glass of wine in the non-dominant hand.

In the UK at least, puzzles are making a comeback. So much so that puzzle manufacturers there are adding staff for the first time in decades. And, if you want to get REALLY serious… the big kids, the puzzle kings, the masters… have compiled this list of puzzles for the especially dedicated. The top one having 48,000 (!!!) pieces.

I suggest the use of jigsaw puzzles to clients who are anxious as a means of helping them to slow down, focus, and learn to quiet. As one might imagine, this suggestion is frequently met with resistance and lots of objections. “I don’t have time / space / patience…” – yada, yada. My rebuttal is a questioning  rise of the eyebrows to challenge the rote response. There is not a legitimate objection (in my mind) as we all could benefit from giving up 30 min of television or Instagram time in favor of some mindful moments with a partner or child searching for the ‘brown corner barn piece’ or ‘the inside of that pink flower’. Beginning your puzzle on a puzzle mat (a yoga mat works) so that it can be rolled up and tucked out of the way without disturbing your work typically nullifies the rest of the objections.

A simple way to increase your mindful activity, reduce anxiety, and increase family time is found in the pursuit of …

Jigsaw puzzles.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.