Piles

Today is the day I make piles, in earnest. The piles sort of started forming yesterday, if you can call three items a pile. I’m actually feeling a little behind schedule in my making of piles. You see, before any trip, whether for work or for pleasure, I put things in piles so I won’t forget to pack them. I pile first and pack last minute. I’ll usually have a pile of electronics and related stuff, a pile of clothes, a pile of shoes, and a pile of other flotsam and jetsam.

Before checking out of a hotel, usually the night before, I gather up all of my things, which I keep hyper-organized in strategic locations within my hotel room, and move those hyper-organized piles closer to my suitcase. I centralize the smaller piles into sort of a cluster of piles. By morning, as I’m getting ready before checking out, those piles just get placed into my suitcase/s, computer bag, purse and I’m off. I have only ever left one thing behind accidentally; a razor in the shower.

This system, piles, works well for me. Even in preparation for an early morning run, I will make a pile of everything I need to remember to take with me the night before; my watch, my hydration pack, my food, my “running wallet” (smaller than my daily wallet), and a reminder to grab the chocolate milk out of the fridge.

You would think with as much as I travel as I do, packing would be no big deal. And, during my busy work travel season, that is very much the case. I really don’t even unpack. I come home, often in very late at night or even in the wee hours of morning, take my clothes out of my suitcase, launder them, hang them to dry and pack them back into the suitcase later in the morning. I sometimes have a less than twenty-four hour turnaround at home. I have duplicates of cosmetics and personal care products and will just refill any travel-sized containers I have when I shower. Even when work trips are a little further apart, like now, I keep many things in my suitcase; ugly shoes accountants would wear, trouser socks that are only ever worn with ugly shoes accountants would wear, my bag of duplicate cosmetics and personal care items, about a thousand Target bags to pack shoes and stinky gym clothes in, and my traveling kitchen which includes a stemless wine glass, a jar of spices, Via coffee packets, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, snack bags of Ezekiel cereal, a paring knife, a set of cocktail service with a little knife, fork and spoon, a couple of little plastic bowls, those sheet plastic cutting boards.

When I was backpacking regularly, I had the same approach; I’d hike, come home, launder, repack and a) be ready to go and b) have a handy place to store all my backpacking stuff. In the backpack.

I’m sure it is fairly common practice to make piles in preparation for doing laundry, right? A pile of dark clothes that can be washed on the “regular cycle”, which for me, is about two items. Then there’s the pile of dark clothes for the delicate cycle and another for lighter clothes for the delicate cycle, and, finally, white things, delicate cycle, of course. How else would you do this? Do people do laundry without making piles first

I muse at how this all started. Was it because my mom always had me lay my clothes out for school the night before? For all the good that did, I always changed my mind eight or ten times between the time I got up and the time when I was at the front door ready to go. Sure, it may have worked when I was seven years old and was only supplied with three mix and match outfits for the school year, options were very limited. But, by the time I was seventeen and began my lifelong career of making up for a childhood of having only three mix and match, color coordinated outfits for school, by stuffing my closet full of clothes I picked out and purchased myself, selecting what I planned to wear to school the night before was a futile exercise. This may explain a lot about me and my clandestine shopping tendencies, even as an adult. At last. Now you know.

But, there may be more to the origins of my preference for piling things up than an evening chore my mother tried to instill in me as a child. I am surrounded by piles. Her piles. Mom piles things up and always has. I don’t understand the logic of her piles, but, piles are very personal. That’s for her to know. I’m sure she doesn’t understand my piles, though I think mine are far more evident. Perhaps not. Whatever (link to article). Mom has piles, mostly of paper; newspapers, ad inserts from newspapers, magazines, catalogs, important mail, unimportant mail that may end up being important, and unimportant mail that isn’t clearly understood so may seem more important than it is.

A pile on one chair the nature of which I don't totally understand.
A pile on one chair the nature of which I don’t totally understand.
A pile on the other chair the nature of which I don't totally understand.
A pile on the other chair the nature of which I don’t totally understand.
A pile on the table, which I assume had more immediacy than the ones on the chairs, though I could be mistaken.
A pile on the table, which I assume had more immediacy than the ones on the chairs, though I could be mistaken.
The pile on the counter of unknown significance.
The pile on the counter of unknown significance.

I am not really frustrated with Mom’s piles, except they take up seating space and if company is coming I’m the one that has to quickly relocate her piles to the “office”, which was supposed to be the laundry nook, with folding doors, downstairs off the family room. Mom had the laundry hookups placed in the garage and my dad used the laundry closet as his office. Actually, his antique roll top desk is in there, but I don’t actually ever remember him sitting there to do any work until he retired. Like me, Dad despised television. The television is in the family room, adjacent to the “office”. So, he did his nightly bookkeeping from his bike shop upstairs at the kitchen table in relative peace. Mom dominated the family room with news, news, news, sitcom, sitcom, sitcom and the news, again, as a nightcap. When Dad retired, he learned to enjoy television, too, and set his computer up in the office. Now that he has passed, the office provides more flat surface space for Mom’s piles. I have relocated Dad’s computer to my office, the third bedroom upstairs. His computer is piled up with my other laptop, my MacBook, when not in use, my iPad and Kindle. So, for my upcoming trip, I need only grab and pack that whole pile of electronic wonderment! Easy peasy! See?

Mom, however, is frustrated with my piles. I have piles of boxes in the garage. When I relocated here, it was from a full size, single family dwelling appropriately full of my things; furniture, décor, dishes, small and necessary household items, most of which I wished for, worked for and acquired with some effort; Cuisinart food processor, Dyson vacuum, Pampered Chef baking stones, the entire collection, an entire set of crystal from my wedding, my grandmother’s china, which Mom thinks is ugly. I think you get the idea. These, among other things, are my treasures. I downsized a great deal over the past five years, with five moves occurring in that time frame, but these are my treasures. That they fill one third of the garage, okay, the third that would be the floor, is not my fault. That the shelves are full of Christmas decorations that only saw one year of use and are packed in boxes labeled with said year, is not my fault. That there are two ten foot long clothes racks hanging from the ceiling full of clothes from the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties that don’t fit my mom, is not my issue. My issue is, I have no other place for my things. The dresser drawers that were mine as a child, in my bedroom, are now full of piles of things that haven’t seen the light of day for decades, and, so, my clothes remain in piles of boxes in my room and in the garage. Yet, as it was expressed earlier this week, “your piles of boxes in the garage are stressing me out.” Okay. Let’s see Mom try to live out of those boxes for months on end and reexamine stress levels.

My pile of boxes in my room from which I deal on a daily basis because of the piles in the closet and drawers that once were mine, but, now, are not. Yet.
My pile of boxes in my room from which I deal on a daily basis because of the piles in the closet and drawers that once were mine, but, now, are not. Yet.
Some of my boxes in the garage, piled. My treasures, mostly china, crystal and long sought after kitchen equipage I'd prefer to use rather than have boxed, if there were only room in the kitchen for them. Sigh.
Some of my boxes in the garage, piled. My treasures, mostly china, crystal and long sought after kitchen equipage I’d prefer to use rather than have boxed, if there were only room in the kitchen for them. Sigh.

And this seems to be perpetuating, generationally, too. When my daughter moved to the east coast, when she married her high school sweetheart who is, now, in the Navy, I was left with her treasures and her trash. In piles. I spent several weeks sorting through it all, throwing away the true trash, donating the unwanted treasures and re-boxing the true treasures. All of which are now piled in the corner of a storage unit three counties away. At my expense. In my to-do pile is the plan to re-sort and relocate that pile, here, space permitting.

My son moved to Hawaii last week. He did a fair job downsizing, but, again, in a storage unit three counties away are his treasures, piled in another corner. There is a pile in the garage of the house he vacated which I am to, at my convenience, retrieve and find a place to pile. And, in my office, upstairs, is a pile of books that I am to box up in flat rate boxes, periodically, and send to him, except he has not yet found a place to pile them, he is still looking for housing. Until then, the books are piled on the floor of my office. And, ironically, these are a pile of very nice books, Automobile Quarterly, that my dad subscribed to and accumulated over many years. My dad was downsizing his piles and wanted to “get rid” of these books. As they were lovely publications, and my son has the “gear head gene” that seems to run in the family, my mom, who, I think we’ve established, really resists getting rid of stuff, suggested that my son may enjoy the books. So, the entire collection was loaded into my car and piled into my son’s room. Until now. Now they’re back in the house of origin, in my room.

My Dad's books that became my son's books that are now in my office, back in my parents' house, until they can be shipped to my son again. A pile, nonetheless.
My Dad’s books that became my son’s books that are now in my office, back in my parents’ house, until they can be shipped to my son again. A pile, nonetheless.

So, today is a day of piles. Two-fold. I am piling things up for my trip and Mom and I are each taking a pile of things, two cars full, to donate to Community Projects. If I have to prioritize, though, the top of my pile is going to be packing for my trip. The trip to Community Projects can be left in a pile for later, if need be.

Packing for a trip gets a little more complicated, when I’m not traveling for work quite so often, like now, and a pleasure trip comes up. I need to empty my suitcase of unnecessary items, because suitcases become excellent storage facilities when not in use, and fill it with more appropriate stuff. I have a week in Alaska fast approaching. I depart Friday morning. And like a good Boy Scout, yes, I am a registered Boy Scout, I am always prepared. We have several ideas of what we’re going to with our week, but nothing absolutely set in stone. I need to be prepared for just about anything. I know, at the very minimum, I need jeans, something to wear with my jeans, a bunch of shoes and a case of wine. That’s the easy part. Now I need to think of all those things I might need. For example, last trip I ended up layering my pretty, black work cardigan under a flannel and a hoodie to keep my warm while beheading and gutting salmon into the wee hours of the morning along the Copper River in Chitina. I’ve replaced that pretty black cardigan with five new cardigans, a pile of new cardigans, one in black, one in burgundy, red, navy and navy with hand-painted white polka dots. A trip or two ago, again, I ended up layering almost everything I packed for an overnight pilot car adventure up to Prudhoe Bay where it was forty below and blowing. I once had to buy boots for a snowmobiling excursion, not that I ever mind buying footwear, but this is not nearly as enjoyable when supervised, especially by your sweetie. There is a process to buying shoes that most men will never understand. I did manage to score cute AND inexpensive boots that garner compliments when worn, so we were both satisfied. I am the master at shoe shopping.

Piles. What else piles up on us in life besides mail, clothes and books?

Piles of laundry, some of which will be packed, some of which will be hung, some of which will be folded and put back into their boxes. Reference boxes and drawers.
Piles of laundry, some of which will be packed, some of which will be hung, some of which will be folded and put back into their boxes. Reference boxes and drawers.

Do you ever feel like you have a pile of troubles, problems, concerns, worries, and issues that you need to deal with? Fret about? Lose sleep over? This is a common complaint I hear and I don’t think anyone is truly immune. How we deal with those piles, though, is the difference. How we deal with those piles of negative things; troubles, problems, concerns, worries, and issues, is the difference between managing them and letting them manage us.

In letting problems and such pile up to the point where we worry, fret and lose sleep is really not much different that letting piles of newspapers and junk mail accumulate on the back counter in the kitchen. We are constantly reminded of these troubles, problems, concerns, worries, and issues, because they are ever present and amassing. Stephen Covey, author of, among other great books, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” suggested that we should only ever touch a piece of paper one time. If we go out to get the mail, for example, before we set it down, anywhere, it is classified and dealt with; junk mail immediately in the trash, important mail dealt with and mail for others distributed appropriately. Done. No pile. Could our troubles, problems, concerns, worries, and issues not be dealt with in a similar manner? Sort, classify and deal.

Why let a problem or worry linger and fester? I know there aren’t always immediate solutions to dilemmas in life, but, if the solution is not immediate, what purpose does fretting, worrying and losing sleep over it now, serve? Address the problem immediately, if possible, and as immediately as possible, and, until it can be resolved, focus on more positive things. Focus on the now. If a problem can’t be resolved, it lives in the future. We live now. If we focus on the future, and the problems in the future, we lose the now, the present. We can only ever impact the present, now, the immediate. Fretting over what lies ahead, in the future, steals our ability to deal with what we can effectively deal with now, the present. Worry manifests in this manner, by depriving of us effectiveness and efficiency, now, and because of the negative focus of worry, into the future, makes us dread what lies ahead.

If we are to pile anything up, at all, it should be an arsenal of useful tools and useful habits to arm us with positive thoughts and actions that will propel us through any troubles, problems, concerns, worries, and issues that may arise throughout life. By practicing a positive mental attitude and focusing on living only in the present, by expressing our gratitude for all that we have, all that we are grateful for, by recognizing our strengths, our value and our power as individuals, by setting clear and decisive goals, based on our purpose, our guiding principles and our values, we are driven through life, and all its trivial and petty little dilemmas, with a positive, confident, powerful force that comes from within. We can make molehills out of mountains, tiny piles out of insurmountable ones. I am not saying it is easy, this takes, first, making a decision, second, making a decisive change contrary to human nature, a course of education oneself, and a great deal of diligent effort. But, the reward is piles better than the alternative. Worth the effort.

So I begin my day of piles. Laundry, emails, work, boxes to go to charity, and, best of all, things to go in my suitcase for vacation. And, at the end of the day, the piles will have all been dealt with and I will sleep peacefully, because I don’t let anything I can’t deal with immediately accumulate. That’s my present for living in the present.

 

 

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

To echo the lyrics of Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. How true this is.

Let me ask you this very logical question; what benefit does worry have? Worry has never, ever in the history of the world, in the history of mankind, changed anything. The act of worrying has never secured a positive outcome. Even if we worried about something, and things turned out to be alright, it was not the act of worrying that caused things to be okay. Worry solves nothing and serves no constructive purpose. Let’s look at worry in more depth.

Worry is a very strong emotion, an emotion with a great deal of negativity surrounding it. Worry, if you think about it, is your belief that something dreadful is going to happen. Am I right? You have a fair degree of certainty that something dreadful has happened, or is going to happen. Worry is stress of one of the worst degrees. Worry can cause intense anxiety, it can cause you to feel symptoms of physical ailments that don’t exist, it can cause you to lose sleep, lose focus and concentration on tasks at hand and to feel impatient and irritable. Worry is awful! I know, I’m a natural worrier. But, I make a concerted effort to overcome worry in a number of ways. I will share.

Let’s examine a couple more aspects of the negativity of worry and it’s impact on you and on others close to you. If you subscribe to the “law of attraction”, which I do, at least to some degree, then the act of worrying could actually attract the very thing you are worried about. That’s where those “I knew it” moments come from! You worry about something, it happens, and you exclaim, “I knew it!” Ever had an “I knew it” moment?

The law of attraction is based on a belief that we attract what we think through energy. Our thoughts are energetic and become manifestations when energy responds to like energy; positive to positive and negative to negative. With knowledge, practice and application, we do have some degree of control over our thoughts and their results. The law of attraction has been believed and employed by many, many wildly successful and influential people for centuries. Rhonda Byrne’s book “The Secret” is a guided reference to a vast collection of works of many authors and experts about the law of attraction. It is a fascinating read, and whether you buy into the philosophy, wholly or partially, I think there is definitely something to it and I apply a lot of the principles and concepts to my own life. I have had some pretty drastic results, not what I expected, initially, but what I really wanted, ultimately.

So, as worry goes, with the law of attraction; when we worry, we are focusing a great deal of very negative energy on a set of circumstances we don’t want to happen. According to the law of attraction, that in itself could cause that which we are worried about to manifest. I told you so!

Let’s examine another negative aspect of worry, aside from making you feel shitty and then making bad shit happen, worry is in the future. We are concentrating on something that hasn’t yet happened. To be truly happy in life, we need to live in the present; life and happiness are right now. When we focus on the future, we miss the moment, the only moment we truly have control over. Now. Living in the future causes people to suffer from anxiety. Living in the past or focusing on events or your past life, can cause depression. Living in the now, the present, the only moment in which you really ARE living is the one true, key to happiness. Eckhart Tolle illustrates this clearly and completely in his excellent book, “The Power of Now”. Another practical application of living in the present is the book “You Can Be Happy No Matter What” by Richard Carlson and Wayne Dyer.

Being humans, we have a tendency to worry. It is not as easy as it sounds to just flick a switch and stop worrying. Some of us worry far more than others. I’ve tended towards that end of the scale. After years of letting worry control my health, my attitude, and my lifestyle, I decided to find a way to end it. Because of worry, the related anxiety and stress, I have been a terrible insomniac for most of my life. Because of worry, and probably some dietary factors as well, I have suffered from heartburn and headaches and all sorts of annoyances. After reading several self-improvement books by authors like Brian Tracy and Anthony Robbins, after reading “The Secret” and “The Power of Now”, I have reshaped the way I think and the way I react to situations that would normally cause me to worry. It has completely changed my life. Every single aspect of my life. I no longer suffer from insomnia. I used to have to rely on medications to even fall asleep. I took more Tylenol PM than I care to admit, I swallowed the maximum does of Benadryl before bedtime in hopes of getting any sleep at all. I also relied heavily on Melatonin for relief from insomnia. Let’s forget for a moment the long-term health implications with a steady diet of Tylenol and Benadryl, how about the short term affects. Do you have any idea what its like to hold a full time job, raise two very socially active kids and a completely full volunteer life on a many, many years with only few hours of sleep each night and the groggy after affects of Tylenol PM, Benadryl and melatonin? Not easy. I once had a very wise healthy practitioner strongly advise me, after I told him of my need for sleep aids, that my long term health depended on me getting to the root of the problem, the cause of the insomnia, rather than trying to just treat the symptom with pollutants to my body (Tylenol PM, Benadryl and melatonin). I finally found the key, mostly locked in Jillian Michaels’ book “Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!” If you could only read one book, that would be the one I’d recommend, believe it or not. Since reshaping my thought processes, deliberately listening to my “self-speak”, and banning worry from my mind, I sleep, unaided, without any kind of medication or supplement. I haven’t had heartburn in years and the headaches I used to have at least weekly, I have, maybe, once a year. I am far more energetic, active and far healthier than I have ever been in my life.

I am an honest soul. I do still worry, from time to time, and needlessly. It has accomplished nothing positive. The other day, I was worried about the love of my life. We live very far apart and survive between visits by texting and talking on the phone. Regularly. I’ve been clear, for my benefit and his, that I have no “expectation” that we text or talk throughout the day, at night, or even every day. We usually do, though, so that is the pattern. Over the weekend, we both had a busy day and we were both in geographical areas where texting was not real successful. That evening, I was home, waiting for some type of communication, because, again, that’s our pattern. Not an expectation, just a comfortable pattern. I went to bed, finally, without a hearing from him. I sent my usual, “good night, Love” text. At six the next morning, there was no reply. I seem to be especially susceptible to worry in the wee hours of the morning and so that evil emotion crept in. My thoughts centered around the fact that he lives alone, in a remote area, and does things like build garages, single handedly. Of course the story he’d recently shared with me of a friend finding three grizzly bears in his garage probably didn’t help matters much. Later that day, when we talked, and he was, obviously alright, I realized how pointless my worry was. Even if he had fallen off the roof while sweeping snow off of it, what good was my worrying from 3,000 miles away going to do? You see what I say? Worry solves nothing.

In fact, it kind of pisses me off when people worry needlessly about me. First, it is like a vote of no confidence. If you’re worried about me, then you must not think I’m capable of (fill in whatever I am doing that worries you). Second, from a law of attraction standpoint, please, please, please, do not attract any negative energy towards me with your senseless worry. I’m busy channeling all the positive energy I can and you and your crazy worry is deflecting part of it! Stop!

What is the progression of worry? Worry is a simple, negative emotion. You are fretting, for no fruitful purpose, over the possibility that something you don’t want to happen will happen. Worry is the seedling of fear. Worry, like a weed, will grow into fear, an even stronger negative emotion, drawing even more negative energy towards it. Fear, left unchecked, becomes paralysis, a paralyzing fear almost guarantees that something negative will indeed manifest, if not what your were initially worried about, probably something far worse.

I was married to a man who worried about many things, in fact, I would classify him as paranoid and his worry was for things way beyond his control. He was a man of many worries and no action. His worry completely controlled him. Every spare moment was spent on the Internet reading every bit of news about that which he worried, confirming, in his mind, that his worries were well founded. Yet his activity did nothing to actually negate this threat, he just fretted and made a lot of pointless noise about his fears. Through this preoccupation, he became extremely detached from his family and from his ability to earn a meaningful living. And addicted to the Internet. Soon, he became worried whether he’d be able to continue to pay the mortgages because he wasn’t earning the money he once did. His own business had languished and died, his relationship with me and his children had languished and died, and his attempt at his “dream” career in real estate finance died before it even had time to languish. His worries became fears, his fears became paralyzing. As a result, all the real estate was lost, his family was lost, his career was lost, as he looked on in complete and total paralysis, unable to tear his attention away from the screen of foreboding and doom.

If worry is a natural emotion for us, then, what are we to do? We need to listen to ourselves think, we need to identify our own worried thoughts and replace them with thoughts and words that are more positive. It takes a concerted effort, a diligent, concerted effort, to become well practiced at this. Obviously. I’ve been making a diligent, concerted effort and I still, occasionally succumb to worry. And I feel the fool for so doing.

What do we replace worry with? Hope comes to mind. Hope is a good word, a positive emotion. I often think of friends who have fought breast cancer when I think of hope, the pink ribbon, and “fighting for the cause”. Mother Teresa understood the law of attraction and has been quoted as saying, “I will never attend an anti-war rally. If you have a peace rally, invite me.” Fighting requires a great deal of negative energy, so fighting against war, Mother Teresa surmised, would actually attract more war. A pro-peace rally, though, would be applying positive energy to that which is desired, peace. It is as simple as rephrasing our intention. So, with Mother Teresa in mind, if you want to overcome the devastation and pain and loss of breast cancer, attend a pro-cure rally and don’t participate in any “cancer fighting” activities!

To me hope still contains some worry. Think of how the word “hope” is used in sentences. “I sure hope so”, “I hope for the best”, “my hopes and prayers are with you”. While these are positive, to me, they still suggest some doubt, some worry. Don’t lose hope, no, never, but consider an upgrade in emotion. Perhaps “faith”.

Faith is a stronger version of hope. I have faith that the good thing I want to happen will, and the bad thing I don’t want to happen, won’t. Faith is a positive emotion and entire religions have been built upon it, it is strong, I think sturdier than hope. But even faith has sort of a “we’ll wait and see” connotation to it. For as many that have faith in religion, there are those who don’t, and they don’t seem the least bit worried about their stance. I have met people with the strongest faith imaginable, and I have caught them in a moment of wondering. Faith is good, but faith waits to be seen.

If hope isn’t strong enough, and faith isn’t strong enough, what do we replace worry with? Certainty. Absolute, complete and total certainty. There is nothing more certain than certainty. When a worry creeps into your mind, bash it! Rephrase your worry, replace it by saying out loud, as many times as necessary, “I am certain that (state the desired result here). By banishing your worry and replacing it with certainty, you are sending such a positive bolt of energy out into the universe that good could only manifest from it. At the very least, you have waylaid your worry, you have stemmed the flow of negativity and your strength can only do good, for you and for those you care for. You are demonstrating confidence in those you care for by declaring your certainty in their endeavors, whatever they may be. By declaring what you wish for with certainty, you are increasing your own confidence, your own strength and whatever manifests, as a result, is surely something you desire. Perhaps not what you specifically intended, but I promise, something you desire.

I invite you to practice exchanging your worries for happiness; promote that which is positive, deny that which is negative, live only in the present, take good care of yourself and I guarantee, you’ll have no worries and you will have an abundance of happiness! I am certain!

Don’t worry, be happy!