Monday, August 26, 2013

My Neighbourhood

The Bad fringe to beat all bad fringes...

I came home one day recently after being out and about on my bike with this rather warm feeling in my belly, something rather feel-good zooming around in there that i could not really articulate or attribute...
Then it hit me - so obvious. I feel part of a COMMUNITY, and part of the fabric of "this place". I loved that I felt this way but it was also quite strange how much of a surprise it came.... how new and unusual it felt.

I never really had it in Dubai. Sure - Seattle's coffee gave me a pretty good run for my money by remembering my name and even using it in a sing-song sometimes. Oh and playing along with me when I asked if there was love in the coffee... even checking it was "low fat love"....? (props to the guys and girls at Seattle's Media City building 8 for rolling with my silliness with such grace). But beyond that... not really...

But here it is different. Or maybe I am?
With a shift to simplicity the most satisfying thing I have found is that you have life right in front of your nose - feel it around you. You gain parts of life that are otherwise inaccessible.... there is less STUFF in the way (including ego, and material possessions) so you can get closer to people and places.

Also a  few months ago I decided that I had a choice. I could either doubt, and "watch out" for being taken advantage of  (a favourite of some not surprisingly not-as-happy-as-they-could be expats here) or I could believe  "I only meet good people".  AND apart from the hairdresser (insert expletives here) that sacrificed my fringe has been absolutely true.
A pretty sweet article that backs up the solidness of this "people are good" approach here

So let me give you a taste of what goes down in my Hood ;-)

.......Stopping by on my bicycle to talk to Keerthie - the IT man to see and all round nice guy. He has helped me with free compost, installing 20 meters of wire to get my internet working, computer advice and even a suggested new bike route we bonded and pondered over the regenerating powers of a bike ride through the paddy fields

...A stop off at the Podi Kade (small shop) to get some fruit. The grandmother has made it her daily mission to teach me Singhala and so I get at least a new word a day (bless her she is VERY patient), love how if I don't have enough money it is "pase pase" (later, later) and that we can exchange our spare coconuts for store credit ;-) Compliments on my varies polka dot dresses (Sri Lankan Ladies often love Polka Dots?!) and inquires about where "suda mama" (white uncle) is from a 2 year old cutie called Benuti round off a charming typical visit

....I borrow some bikes from Chameera - who is starting his own cycling tour business, I have a friend in town... no worries - he lends me bikes  AND gives me some guppies (fish) as he remembered i wanted some... and while leaving his wife hands me a bag of passion-fruit as they remember me saying that they were my favourite. Fruit and thoughtfulness go together rather beautifully I have found.

....I bike past a gorgeous old crumbling house that i admired from the road... but then as often happens in Sri Lanka I got invited in to have an explore (excelent! as I am a nosy minx), with tea and fruit to enjoy with a beautiful family of 3. Yup I do believe unexpected and uncomplicated generosity is always available if you are open to it....

And for me this community, these interactions all link back to something which I believe is so powerful: Simplicity. A desire for simplicity is one of the reasons for me moving to Sri Lanka. Although this word simplicity is hard to define and easily misunderstood.

I for one am glad that simplicity is increasingly being defined for what it is for (connecting and caring for life) instead of what it is against (destructive consumerism). In the 1980's it was seen primarily as "downshifting" or pulling back from the rate race of consumer society. Several decades late there is a growing recognition of simplicity as "up shifting" or moving beyond the rat race to the human race. (Voluntary Simplicity, Duane Elgin)

I guess that is what I am working towards - and as long as my community interactions and daily experiences include free fruit, impromptu singhala lessons, bicycle rides and welcoming smiles I know I am on the right track...;-)

The beautiful old house i got to nose around...

My Daily Bike Route

Fruit tastes best when eaten with friendly strangers

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Reluctant Entrepreneur

Let me explain
You know I was never one of those inspired, independent or brave individuals that had a dream to own their own business. I can clearly remember 2 or 3 occasions in Dubai sitting in front of a young man of some 20 something years incredulously asking/telling - "but you are so young?"  "isn't it scary?" "how did you decide to go our on your own?" It seemed so BIG, to leave a full time job or to start a business when so new in the business world.

My core reason for doing my own thing was maybe a bit different than perhaps some... I wanted to have an adventure and I wanted to learn HEAPS about myself and grow as a result.My intention was to never become an entrepreneur but somehow I have fallen into it...and damn I have fallen hard.
The thing is... you get addicted (no one warned me about that part!) and once you open the door to it (entrepreneurship) the bloody door won't shut! and you start to see other interesting things back there down that hallway and that path.... and you have this new found bravery (because you are still on a high from "oh my goodness i actually did it!") that you go off exploring......

And then... children...(am getting to the moral of the story)... you might just find yourself really FULL a fat kid that has got over excited by too many cake types and topings....who eventually makes herself sick. That is where I am now - realizing I need to tame this monster of "opportunity" - because believe me (and it may sound cheesy), when you tell the universe you are open for business ...some crazy sh*t starts to happen and so many new opportunities and partnerships come your way.

As a result I have taken a big breath and gone back to the drawing board (hence the all important team meeting with myself on Monday) and remind myself there is no need to say Yes to everything and everyone and no need to take everything that comes my way. Warning: when you do not have a "proper job" your inner critic (Saboteur) will tell you all sorts of reasons why you need to take every opportunity that comes your way, and that you really SHOULD be doing more because you know you are not doing 9-5 and earning big bucks yet by any means.

So in the end I decided to do what any self respecting ex media planner would do when overwhelmed and trying to reign in and organize their life  - I created an excel spreadsheet ;-)

Now this I used for me and my new Entrepreneur addiction/mindset but it could work for any of you that feel you have too much on and are no idea where to start or where to cut.
I call the sheet... drum roll please ....... "Making Good Sh*t Happen"
It Includes the Columns:
  • What - what is the project/thing that you have taken on/agreed to/embarking on
  • Priority - give it a ranking (but do this part last after you do all of the below)
  • Why - why the hell are you doing this in the first place? what does it give you? (an obvious and important question)
  • Values fulfilled - how does this feed who you are and what is important to you... eg) creative, social, giving back, family
  • $$$ - does it generate ding dongs...or dollars or whatever . Is it profitable? (just important to recognize if it does or not...)
  • Time Dedication - what are you dedicating per week... is it stealing your time? are you not dedicating enough given its importance....
It was erm quite fun to do (again ex media planner... not my fault) , and you know it was really valuable for me! I believe sometimes we get stuck in the details of being busy and trying to gain approval from everyone and everything that we do not stop and actually assess what we are doing and taking on and why.
So take stock, have a meeting with yourself and see what you really want to dedicate your time and energy to - life is too short to be busy for the sake of busy!

PS: if you are interested to find out more about the coach-ish sounding terms (value fulfillment and Saboteur)  in the above flick me a mail and can give you some resources to play with ;-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Enough-ism & Concrete

Nothing puts the gravity of permanent decisions to the forefront of your mind like choosing concrete samples.... they are by nature "concrete", can't just paint over them (they are polished and waxed...) And just to make things more complicated there is a real "chemistry" involved too... which means ... today you get light concrete colour and 4 months down the road you might have a sandy yellow... depending on variables such as light, amount of rain... sun.. and for all i know the number of monkeys that stand on it?!
What this has done (get to the point right!?) has really highlighted again this idea of enough, enough information, enough thinking, enough options... How do we know if we made the right decision/s.
And like the Virgo and ENTP I am this opens up a whole can of worms!

How do you reach the holy grail of  "Enough-ism" in your life? or "what is the magic point of enoughness?"

Some of you may know that i am a coach, a certified CPCC and ACC coach... but is that (wait for it) "enough". When i was doing the core curriculum i thought... "when i am certified i will be a real coach" or 'when i am accredited with the ICF professional body i will be a real coach" ... of course then it was "when i have done CTI leadership"  - and the list of things to strive for never ends....

The same thing with actually making the move to Sri Lanka, when we had ENOUGH money, when we had ENOUGH information, when we had ENOUGH of a plan.... luckily I realized this elusive enough did not exist and made the move anyway. Otherwise I would still be sitting in Dubai not following a dream!

So here is the only thing I have figured out that works.
STOP, breathe and just be where you are for a moment, be with yourself (scary as it is) for just a moment and BE
Go oooooonnnnnnnn try it . You can always get started again and start chasing ...(that's a promise)
But you know what, once you stop  you might just feel a different awareness has settled and you might find you are not so in a hurry, or maybe the tension behind the chase will just change. So many of us spend time looking at the past (I WISH we made that wall .3 inches thicker) or in the future... (WILL it be good ENOUGH that my fancy pants friends in Dubai will want to stay) that we forget who we are, what we know and what is important to us.

Finding Enough-ness is a tricky bloody business and there is no magic point that i have found (yet) but looking out for it with curiosity and stopping every now and again has certainly had a profound impact on my happiness.

I love these excerpts from the Book "Enough"by John Naish....
(my first use of hyperlinking on this blog too - woop woop)
  • "The challenge is our old wiring tells us "I want more" the challenge of living in abundance when our brains are programed to fear scarcity is to consume everything we can"
  • Don't let your desire for perfectionism ruin your appreciation for all that which is just "good"
  • There is a spiritual aspect to practicing restraint in the face of more, more, more