So how’m I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?
First, can I just say, vacations are awesome!
After pulling more 18-hour days than I can count getting the Thriving Artists Project (pre- or whatever) launched, it was great to get a (partial) weekend away. And totally unplugged, no less.
When you love what you’re doing, 18-hour days are really not so onerous. But still, a body needs a break after awhile.
I confess, my San Francisco weekend was, in fact, a working vacation, but given that the work I was paid to do was singing, it was about as non-onerous a working vacation as you could ask for.
Add to this a delightful Friends of Calligraphy slide lecture by the amazingly talented and always entertaining Carl Rohrs on Saturday afternoon, and lunch at the Moss Room and a trek through the Rainforest Dome in the Academy of Sciences today, followed by a holiday party for my yoga studio, and really, I couldn’t ask for a better partial weekend getaway.
I did find it rather amusing, though, that, being unable to get online, I dreamed about being online.
Tells you something about my headspace.
So that’s a big thing to be pleased about: I got a really fun little break. Plus I got to dress up all diva-like and perform (I even glammed up my knee brace with a sparkly gift-wrap bow), and I got paid well for it, to boot.
Meanwhile, I’m charging ahead with the Thriving Artists Project, gathering up lesson ideas from my Ground Floor Inner Circle members’ comments and discussions in the Forums, and having fun listening to all the interviews already in the can as I go back and edit them for posting.
And I’m charging ahead with 365 Days of Genius, starting to load up guest posts, my posts and resources, ramping up for the January 1 launch.
But what I really want to talk about is something much smaller… but in the long run much bigger.
How do you build an empire? One brick at a time.
Every big project I’ve ever tackled in my life has been accomplished not overnight, but over time, with a series of tiny little baby steps.
This is true of becoming a gigging jazz singer.
This is true of learning to play an instrument.
This is true of this (continually in-process) website.
This is true of the (also in-process) Thriving Artists Project.
This is true of 365 Days of Genius.
This is true, as I said, of every big project I’ve ever taken on.
And yet, somehow, there’s one project that has until now utterly eluded me.
I’m not talking about my plans for World Domination.
No, I’m talking about something much more daunting indeed:
The Ginormous Studio-Overhaul & Makeover
Confession: I am a slob.
Okay, not a Rotting-Food-On-Countertops kind of slob, or a Collections-Of-Junk-Piled-To-The-Ceiling packrat kind of slob.
Just your garden variety Can’t-Quite-Seem-To-Maintain-Order-In-My-Studio kind of slob.
My mountains of papers-to-file are invariably spiraling out of control; my drawers and cupboards are years overdue for a good purge and sort; my shelves and my desk top are, well, just kind of a mess.
I know that when I’m surrounded by order I feel more productive, more competent, more “together,” and just plain better. But honestly, just thinking about trying to tackle the mountain of disorganization that is my studio makes me so exhausted that I inevitably just give up.
Perhaps the Big One (earthquake, that is, me being in California and all) will strike before I have to deal with it, and solve the problem for me.
Or maybe elves will come in the middle of the night and blowtorch everything, leaving me a hefty check to pay for building a brand new studio (of course).
The reality is, if I want an airy, spacious, uncluttered studio space, I’m going to have to create it myself. A task which is as daunting as the idea of building Rome, brick by brick.
Except in this case it’s more like disassembling Rome, brick by brick.
The Chin-Up Bar Method
With Susan‘s help, I came up with a plan that may, I believe, actually result someday in the air, spacious, uncluttered studio space I dream of.
Some background: back when I was taking aerial arts, I installed a chin-up bar in my apartment. Even though I haven’t done aerials in years (alas, money/time issue), the chin-up bar remains, a testament to my ongoing dream of getting back my short-lived ability to do a real-live pull-up.
The problem, of course, is that just having a chin-up bar does not lead to the ability to do a pull-up. You’ve got to use the damn thing.
And when my exercise options were severely limited after my recent knee injury and surgery, out of desperation to keep myself from morphing entirely into a computer chair potato, I instituted the practice of using the chin-up bar, even just for one “shrug” or partial pull-up, every time I passed through the studio door.
To help me remember to maintain this practice, I tied a piece of string to the bar, which dangles in front of my face, right in the middle of the doorway.
This little trick works. The rule is, as long as I’m not carrying something easy to put down, I use the bar every time I pass through the doorway.
No, I’m not doing a real-life pull-up yet, but I’m definitely stronger, and I have hope that a real-life pull-up is in my future again, as long as I keep up this little practice.
The beauty of it is, my pull-up practice is incorporated seamlessly into my day, in tiny little bits and snatches. It doesn’t feel like “exercise” that way, or like some onerous task I’ve assigned myself, but rather “hey, let’s do a partial pull-up!”
It’s actually kind of fun!
The Baby-Step-By-Baby-Step Plan
So what does this have to do with my Ginormous Studio Overhaul and Makeover?
At Monday’s session with Susan, we came up with a strategy, based on my chin-up bar practice, that might just work.
There are two rules only:
- 4 days a week, I spend 15 minutes purging and sorting my studio. That’s one hour a week, but broken up into smaller, 15-minute chunks, which feel a lot less daunting.
- Every time I enter the studio, I deal with one piece of paper. Just one piece. Filing, recycling, whatever. To remind myself, I’ve tied a ribbon onto the string dangling from the middle of my chin-up bar: enter the studio, do a partial pull-up and deal with one piece of paper.
In both cases, I’m allowed to do more than the rule asks for, but I don’t have to.
Will this work? I’m not entirely sure, but I can say I’ve gotten a lot more purging and sorting done this week than in the previous few months, and for the first time in ages I have hope.
I’ll keep you posted.
And now, because I’m at the end of my prescribed 90 minutes of exercycling (yes, I’ve been cycling as I type, inveterate multi-tasker that I am), and I’m endeavoring to learn to take breaks, I’m going to unplug this little laptop and take it upstairs where I will watch Battlestar Galactica (my latest addiction) in bed.
Tomorrow: one more brick.
Dorothy Heller says
Have the same challenge! Thank you for the suggestions–I’m committing to one piece of paper at a time, and 15 minutes a day. I have a HUGE mental block about doing this stuff–it’s a good suggestion to chip away at it as invisibly as possible.
Melissa Dinwiddie says
My mental block is pretty enormous as well. The task is too enormous to contemplate. But yes, chipping away a little at a time makes it feel tolerable, and as long as I’m moving forward, even in the tiniest baby steps, it gives me hope that I can get to the end of this very long, dark tunnel. 🙂
Caroline Roberts says
Melissa, that is too funny! I have had ‘tidy studio’ on my to do list for a very long time. And ‘tidy desk’ for even longer! I guess I’ll try the 15 minutes a day trick. Now I just need to find a reminder that will work…
Melissa Dinwiddie says
“Tidy studio” in my world is pretty much the equivalent of “Build Rome.” So “deal with one piece of paper” or “spend 15 minutes tidying studio” is a lot more manageable! 🙂