Is Your Life Monochromatic? (No offence intended!)

September 20, 2009

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The word monochrome, or monochromatic, means, in black and white, or in shades of only one colour. For the purpose of this article let’s use the second definition: in shades of only one colour.

Now, what do I mean by a monochromatic life? One that focuses on just one thing. Or shades of it. For some it could be work, or work-related stuff. For others, family responsibilities, and things to do with family. Your colour or shade could be the pursuit of fame and fortune, keeping up with the Joneses, looking beautiful or even just sex! I don’t mean to be rude but take a look at how you spend your 24-hour day, or 7-day week. What fills most of it? What occupies the most of your thoughts? Do you give much of your time to anything else? Do you belong to Tribe Monochrome?

If you are satisfied with a monochromatic life, all well and good for you. Different strokes for different folks. But going by the number of people who take vacations, change their wardrobes, cars and hairstyles, move house or complain about things they consider boring, I think it safe to conclude that most of us want variety. The fact that we complain about lack of work-life balance further proves my point.

I am reminded of an exercise I once encountered in Dr Susan Jeffers’ book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. She described a full life as one with its shelves full of varied preoccupations, such as family, work, community, health etc. An empty life on the other hand had one or two items on one or two shelves. Quite a few of the shelves were left empty. With a full life, the absence, or loss of one of the items on the shelves had a lesser impact, from which recovery was more likely. In the case of the empty life, any loss or absence, such as a redundancy, divorce, bereavement or relocation would be greatly noticed and quite devastating.

What is my point in all of this? If we live our lives with more balance, catering to a variety of interests, paying attention to the different things that matter to us, enriching the lives of others and not just building up treasures for ourselves, we end up living fuller, happier lives. We create satisfying memories for life’s rainy days. And we aren’t so hung up on any one person or thing that our world would come crashing down if we were to lose them.

What could you do to add more colour to your life? What other things could you stock on your shelves? A healthier lifestyle? Better relationships? Travel? A hobby? Community service? Is your work so much the focus of your life that you derive your identity from it? Would a redundancy, failed relationship or a child leaving home knock the wind out of your sails? I dare suggest that a fuller-shelved, multi-coloured life could stretch us further, open the doors for us to give and receive more, reduce the chances of burn out and ultimately be more satisfying. So , what could you do to give your life more colour and balance? How could you, and others in your life benefit from this?

 If you would like, drop a line to say whether you are monochromatic and loving it, or seeking more colour in your life. Tell us what items you could add to (or remove from!) your shelves and the difference this could make. And of course, share the experience with those you love!

P.S. It’s not only about adding stock to the shelves of our lives. Sometimes we need to get rid of things that aren’t serving us well. Things such as a toxic relationship, unnecessary expenses or an unprofitable business venture. Will you be adding or removing? Or perhaps doing both!

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Taking Care of Me!

September 20, 2009

 

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Sometimes we actually need to give ourselves permission to take time out for self-care. It needs to be on the To-Do list! I’ve been learning this lately. I usually eat my food while walking around doing things, like typing on my keyboard with the non-eating hand, or finger! Now I remind myself to sit down and enjoy the meal. And perhaps look out the window and enjoy the view!

What extra steps can you take in the direction of self-care? How could you go the extra mile to give yourself the care you deserve? Some things that appeal to me are as follows:

  • Taking a quiet walk in the park where I get to sort out my head! Silence and walking do wonders for me as I’m quite kinesthetic! I think more clearly, get some mind and body exercise and feel refreshed after such a stroll. The increased oxygen-intake is also a health benefit. Sometimes I can’t avoid having my kids with me but I let them know that this is “mummy’s quiet time”, and they are learning to respect this. Perhaps learning the habit as well! At other times we enjoy animated banter or a sing-along as we walk! I find this equally refreshing and good for building the child-parent relationship. Important for my life balance as well.

 

  • For me, a bath or shower isn’t just for cleansing. It’s for chilling out too! Think aromatherapy, soft towels, soft lights, room at right temperature and you are getting my drift. I often hurry through a shower due to a tight schedule (imagine that!) but I insist on the occasional chill-out in the water. And it works just as well as a stroll in the park to get me relaxed and thinking clearly. Thankfully, the kids aren’t in on this one, though they are often whining at the door!

 

  • A leisurely read! Much of my reading is work-related. I love what I do, so work and play sort of keep on mixing! For instance, I love reading Psychologies magazine, but as a coach that’s kind of work as well! It has therefore become necessary for me to give myself permission to enjoy a leisurely read that isn’t in any way work. Like a fiction novel, something spiritual (I love my Bible or daily devotional) or a magazine (Good Housekeeping, Ebony, Readers Digest are some of my chill-out favourites).

 

  • This brings me to my next self-care step: Turning things off! Things such as my laptop and TV. While I enjoy a leisurely read, it certainly must not be online! You know how one thing leads to another when you’re surfing the net! So I occasionally give myself computer-free mornings, afternoons, evenings or whole days. If I need to check email I allow myself a sneak-peek on my  i-phone. But the laptop stays on the desktop, firmly shut!

 

  • If the laptop and TV are staying off I could either spend the time in refreshing silence or listen to some music. My favourites are classical, smooth jazz and gospel. So it could be just music and me, or music while I work.

 

These are five of my self-care activities that foster improved work/life balance for me (I have more!). They help me fit living and working into my day, as well as the other things that matter to me. Such as my family relationships, my spiritual, mental and physical well-being and personal interests.  Care to share some of yours (you are self-caring, aren’t you)? Why not post a comment and share them below? Or if you aren’t yet self-caring and actively working out your work/life balance, tell us what you’d like to start doing, and how this could help you.

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These are some of the beautiful sights I enjoy on my walks in the park. Enough to keep me motivated to do my 30 minutes of brisk walking every day! I hope you like them too.

Squirrel in the grass

Squirrel in the grass

          

Beauty on Water

Beauty on Water

 

Breathtaking!

Breathtaking!

   

I really liked this!

I really liked this!