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Hello friends,

I hope you are well as we move deeper into this unknown territory together. This week, I want to share a few things that maybe relevant to many of us who are struggling to stay sane and productive this week.

First, you are not alone, and you don't have to try harder. Here is a beautiful poem, adapted from Mary Oliver's Wild Geese but for this time.

The second is probably only thing I ever wrote on productivity (given how much productivity p0rn I used to consume.. ) You can call it an anti-productivity tip.

Enjoy and let me know what stirs up in you,

Khuyen

Sharing is sprouting.
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Wild Geese (Pandemic Version)

Adapted from Mary Oliver, for the pandemic by Adrie Kusserow.
 

You do not have to become totally zen,
You do not have to use this isolation to make your marriage better,
your body slimmer, your children more creative.

You do not have to "maximize its benefits"
By using this time to work even more,
write the bestselling Corona Diaries,
Or preach the gospel of ZOOM.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body unlearn everything capitalism has taught you,
(That you are nothing if not productive,
That consumption equals happiness,
That the most important unit is the single self.
That you are at your best when you resemble an efficient machine).

Tell me about your fictions,
the ones you’ve been sold,
the ones you sheepishly sell others,
and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile, the world as we know it is crumbling.
Meanwhile, the virus is moving over the hills, suburbs, cities, farms and trailer parks.

Meanwhile, The News barks at you,
harsh and addicting,
Until the push of the remote leaves a dead quiet behind,
a loneliness that hums as the heart anchors.

Meanwhile, a new paradigm is composing itself in our minds,
Could birth at any moment if we clear some space
From the same tired hegemonies.

Remember, you are allowed to be still as the white birch,
Stunned by what you see,
Uselessly shedding your coils of paper skins
Because it gives you something to do.

Meanwhile, on top of everything else you are facing,
Do not let capitalism co-opt this moment,
laying its whistles and train tracks across your weary heart.

Even if your life looks nothing like the Sabbath,
Your stress boa-constricting your chest.
Know that your antsy kids, your terror, your shifting moods,
Your need for a drink have every right to be here,
And are no less sacred than a yoga class.

Whoever you are, no matter how broken,
the world still has a place for you,
calls to you over and over announcing your place
as legit, as forgiven, even if you fail and fail and fail again.
remind yourself over and over, all the swells and storms
that run through your long tired body
all have their place here, now in this world.

It is your birthright to be held deeply,
warmly in the family of things,
not one cell left in the cold.

The Life Changing Magic of Planning for Joy

An anti-productive productive trick

*(hey, that's me)

Are you finding yourself not quite productive at this time of staying home? I hear you. I'm struggling with that too.

I have always been quite neurotic. Since a few crises about time management and self-improvement, I've become more spontaneous and being able to enjoy the moments a lot more, but boy, I'm still very much a self-control freak.

My former self-improvement junkie self is drawn to solutions to this perennial problem, while my recently wiser self who knows that it never works to try to fix myself (which is the reason all the change efforts have been meager in results). The question is "How do you allow yourself to be unproductive while still feeling good about it (and ultimately still be productive?)"

Let me share with you my first and perhaps only attempt at the genre of "productivity p0rn" as Marc Andressen has called. It took me a fair bit of experimentation, research, self-observation and most importantly letting go of who I think I am to write this.

 


Caveat

This will apply for maximum effect if you are 1) working from home without much supervision 2) struggle with the guilt of being distracted 3) somewhat obsessive with wanting to be productive and 4) love the feeling of control by planning to the minutes of your day. (some people called that "neurotic", but hey, why not celebrate our crazy side anyway?)

If you don't exactly fit the bill, try still. The principles still apply.

-----------------------
 

Without further ado, here is the one liner:

Before you make your to-do list and plan for tomorrow or next week, block out time in your calendar for all the fun and nourishing stuff you actually are looking forward to.

This sequencing is key. You might put in the non- reschedulable upcoming appointments first, but after that, RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO PUT IN THE TO DO. Instead, put in the guilty pleasures that you promise you will take.

You should feel excited about what you put in, and if you are a bit neurotic like me, you should also feel a little bit scared. That's good. If you want to be productive, you must dare to risk being the opposite, i.e being a waste bag.

Remember how vaccination is made up of the bacteria that caused the disease in the first place, just in smaller dose? It's like that here. Love the poison, my brothers and sisters.

Here is some more elaboration.

Do it now: Book a block of time on your calendar.

How do you call it? On my calendar I call it "Powerful Chill". Others such as in The Artist Way calls it "Artist's Date". You may also want to try "Intentional Poisoning" or "Adam's Apple Time" if biblical references arouse your taste.

Take time to pick the pleasure. Spend some serious time choosing the poison. The most important criterion is that such a guilty pleasure should feel so conflicted that you have to both drool and nearly resent yourself for doing it. The more conflicted, the more powerful

For me, it is watching the Final Fantasy VII Remake game walkthrough on Youtube. I love the game as a young teen and it is still my big conflicted soft spot.

You can even block out time for "Poison Researching" to ensure the quality the top notch quality for your slacker time. You too are enamoured by research rabbit holes, aren't you?

How long? Double your first response. Think you'll only spend an hour on it? Book for two.

How frequent? At first, go for more frequent than you think. I look at my packed calendar and immediately put in a block today. You should feel slightly uncomfortable doing this. It's normal. Allow yourself to feel that delicious discomfort before true pleasure.

It's the usual hard-working, striving, independent self resisting being lazy. I mean, who in this modern productivity-driven economy is not damaged enough to fear wasting time by being a lazy couch potato?

The more discomfort you feel here, the more pleasure you will feel then. I know, self-improvement can get kinky real fast.

I'm experimenting putting in my calendar such that for every 60 to 90 mins of focus work, I'll block out 30 to 60 minutes of intense guilty pleasure. Forget the Pomodoro, embrace the pleasure.

The upside is that very quickly you will realize that you aren't chilling that much and end up feeling really good about how productive you actually are.

Pro tip: Set up the enjoyment scene. Also set up the physical way for your enjoyment. I got sucked in watching stuff on my phone, bending my neck into its tiny screen and its built-in speaker while I could sit up straight looking at the bigger laptop screen and better speaker. Took me a while to realize how silly it was.

Get your favorite snack also. You can choose the healthy one if it alleviates some guilt, although the more guilt it provokes, the more materials you get to burn into fuel for your growth.

That's it. Try it and let me know. I promise you are making a difference in the world by changing your relationship with pleasure.

 

What is this like for you? I'm curious to know.

--------
Read the full post here on Medium.


 

Listening

An Ultra Spiritual Conversation

Jeez I didn't know how hippie I really am until I laughed non stop watching this incredible interview. You can tell how spiritual you are by how much you laugh from this 😂 Highly recommend listening while doing chores or looking for fun audio. Role model for spiritual comedy. If you haven't heard of JP Sears, he is known to make fun of "spiritual" people, i.e himself. And Tami Simon is an incredibly skilled interviewer who has done at least 500 of this. 
The first 30 minutes is fun. The last 40 minutes is rich and beautiful.too.

Excerp: "you said you humbly asked me, but sorry, I think I am more humble than you" 😂

Quotes

"For without the inner the outer loses its meaning; and without the outer, the inner loses its substance." - The Politics of Experience -- R.D. Laing
A good reminder for each of us to go for both paths. I've always been more about the inner world, and I'm learning to walk the outer path too. 

"I love deadlines. I love the sound of them whoosing as they pass by."  Dylan Thomas.
A little bit of humor to rescue the day...
 

 


 

Lastly.. 

A question I was asked by a friend of mine this week that I thought worth sharing.
What is something about you that is being revealed at this time? How are you treating this revelation?

I'd love to hear your response. 
 
Hang in tight,
Khuyen

 

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