Breathe and Relax — Get the Most out of Life

Life is too short to step back, breathe and relax. At least that’s what my brain tells me as I take on “just one more” task or commitment. But isn’t it interesting how time actually seems to slow down so we can immerse in truly living when we step back, relax an breathe?

In dance we are encouraged to take two steps in a dance move then pause for two counts–taking the time to think about and learn from what we are actually doing.

In music, the intense beauty in a sound clip is often found in the rest between notes.

What inspires you to step back and breathe? And how did you find it? I found a recent happy place during the crazy schedule we had at our company meetup.

We hit the ground running on a Saturday afternoon. From that moment on, we had opportunities to play, learn, laugh, and work next to comrade-colleagues we only see once or twice a year. Events and sessions kept us active (if we wanted) from about 6am until 2am the next day every day (and some nights went later for some). It’s an exhausting and beautiful time.

Since I am struggling to maintain a healthy weight I was determined to exercise and ward off a repeats of last year’s +7 lbs gained over the amazing week of incredible food choices. Because of this, for the majority of my days at the meetup, no matter how late I was up, I tried to go for a 7-ish am swim. I really missed it and felt off-kilter the days I didn’t do it.

It wasn’t a huge swim (I also went for walks during lunch and in evenings), but I got some laps and treading-water time in. Then came my blissful moments — for about five minutes, I would just float on my back and…

Relax and Breathe

And this was my view as I did so:

Dawn in Florida with birds segmenting the distance between my floating body and the setting moon.

Bliss, right?

Now that I’m home, on a daily basis I find myself back in those moments as I lay in a bed of gently lapping waves, staring at the sky, and listening to my own long breaths as they echoed underwater. As I think of it, I’m filled with tranquility.

I’m going to leave those thoughts there. And in closure, join me in my quest for some peace amidst the chaos of life. I think the impulse of my brain is wrong. We DO have time to breathe and enjoy all we have and refocus. On that note…

breathe in help GIF

Routines

Tools for Establishing Routines
animation calm down GIF by Chibird
Oh May it be So

My life is kind of getting away from me – lacking routines. You know the feeling? I bet most can relate. It’s a struggle balancing life, home, family, friends, work, play, faith, exercise, etc. Fortunately, one of the perks of being an Automattic employee is that we get time with a job coach if we want.

My Job Coach

After some video training I browsed through a list of coaches to see who might be a good fit for me based on their backgrounds and their summaries of their points of focus. For a start, I could meet any coach I wanted for a 15-minute video session to see how we interacted. Finally, I picked one to meet with for 10 sessions.

There was one who stood out to me. Sara. She’s a mom who enjoys salsa and who lived in Lisbon. Maybe that’s all what drew me. Plus she is just simply inspiring and focused on establishing peace. We met, and I immediately felt really confident working with her.

Now I’m almost half-way through our sessions, and I have to tell you it’s amazing. I’m not overwhelmed with info from her (she definitely guides me, but at my own pace so I’m not lost in the currents of life). Sara suggests little tweaks that make me so much more productive and helps me see where to focus as I establish routines. She also gives me resources to study to become a better human in general.

So that’s been happening, plus some travel for the company’s meetup, during which I learned soooooooooooo much. After the Grand Meetup (GM), I attended  Rochester WordCamp and learned even more. So many thoughts. So much to write about.

Routines

But first, I had to get organized. ‘cuz I’m like that. I sorted arenas of my life into categories, made myself some new Trello lists (while looking into Asana), updated my calendars, cleaned out my Simplenote lists and updated my tags, and now I’m ready to write, by golly! There’s even a list of thoughts and topics from my last few weeks I want to write about.

Not all of it will be here — some will be on my Inspired by and Thankful For blog, and some will be for internal work documents, and some will be communications with family and friends, but I have scheduled time for daily addressing my own mind-dump needs.

I’m really looking forward to this new routine, and am feeling a bit less scattered already.

The Swing Thing

IMG_4623.jpgSeven weeks ago tonight, Chris and I embarked on a new adventure. For the first time in both our lives, we attended a professional dance class. Why? Well, rewind three years.

I was out in Utah at my very first Grand Meetup (the one time a year everyone in the distributed company I work for gathers together to learn, collaborate on projects and enjoy some bonding over fun events). I had just finished attending a class on public speaking when I joined a group of co-workers in a East Coast Swing Dance class. It was so fun, the class went on for hours. Due to its popularity, the class continued a year later then again when we all met in British Columbia. Then again this year. They even added a new class for those who had been there the year prior, so we could learn more than the basics.

When I went home, I raved about it to Chris. Seeing that I was still excited about it after all that time, he agreed to look into lessons. So I started researching. It’s not that easy to find a dancing tutor or class in northern NY, I found. Local places didn’t respond to messages sent through the Internet or call back when I left messages on machines. Word of mouth requests got me nowhere.

Totally saddened/frustrated by this, I contacted Dennis, the co-worker that introduced me to swing dancing, and he kindly agreed to give Chris and me some lessons while we were all at a WordCamp together. Then I got ill, so that didn’t work out. Last February and last June, when we visited CJ and Lauren in Utah, we had made plans to go to a lesson and dancing with other co-workers, but those plans fell through as well. 🙁

IMG_4624.jpgWe looked into Internet classes, but they weren’t really working for us. Then, just when I was about to give up on it all, I hit the jackpot and found the Steve Ryan dance class 50 minutes from our home. With Zippy (a name we have started calling our car), that trip is a smooth one, and it’s 3/4 of the way to the resort we bought season passes for so we can snowboard so we can do both when winter hits 🙂 I lucked out in the fact that the class is Thursday nights, and my “weekend” is Thursday and Friday so I don’t have to work the next day.

The thing is that this is West Coast Swing (very linear). Not East. So it was brand new for me. And certainly new for Chris. We are both terrible (yet learning). But it’s super fun, and the instructor is patient, and the other class members are very kind. Many have dance experience so they share their knowledge, too, as we rotate partners. We are really enjoying getting to know new people and exercising in this fun way. Zeb and Bri have joined us a few times as well, and they are fun to practice with at home during the week.

Twice a month, there is a dance on Friday nights at the studio. I think we are almost ready to hold our own on the floor (with very basic steps). Anyway, our 7-week course is up, but we’re signing up again for the next round, beginning next week. We are taking the beginning class again, just to get solid on it, then right after that (during the next hour each week), we will take the advanced beginner class to learn more steps.

It was a long time coming, but well worth the wait!

 

Packing and GM Prep

Pride isn’t a super attractive trait. That said, I’m pretty proud of my latest packing feat. It’s always my goal to pack light–usually packing for a week in a single backpack. I went a bit over that this time, but not much. These were the factors I had to incorporate:

Travel for a week in Whistler, Canada. (Passport and paperwork essential.) Temperatures in a high near 70F for half the week, and highs in the mid 40s the other half. Nights in the 30s (and I have to walk to restaurants). And room to bring home extra stuff I accumulate during the week.

Events to pack for:

  • Presenting a flash talk
  • Teaching a short class
  • Attending workshops/classes/meetings
  • Early morning (cold) walks with friends/co-workers.
  • Three hrs mountain biking (rain predicted)
  • An ecology/geology walk
  • A jiujitsu class
  • Two swing dance classes
  • An escape room
  • A party for which we were encouraged to bring neon and sparkly clothing

This took a lot of thought…compounded by the fact that I had to find warmer clothes, which were still in boxes from our move. And I discovered key essentials (such as travel toothpaste) were still safely ensconced at our old house, three hrs away.

But I did it! And I have a bag mostly empty, ready to bring home swag I pick up at the Grand Meetup 🙂

What’s the GM? I work for a distributed company and interact very closely with my co-workers in an online environment, but all 450-ish of us only get to meet face-to-face one time a year. (We have smaller team meetups during the year, but this is the biggie.)

For an entire week we play, bond, pool brain power to make WordPress.com/Jetpack/mobile apps (I wrote this using the WordPress mobile app while I was on the plane yesterday)/etc. better. In short, I get to geek out and collaborate with others like me with no guilt.

It’s exhausting, exhilarating and inspirational. Meeting my co-workers makes me more comfortable working with them online throughout the year, and I love how this team effort helps us help others.

And I’m super happy I got all the traveling stuff in my bag.