Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Nurture Project

So I'm sitting at the kitchen table after dinner with my sister and brother-in-law. We're talking about so-and-so who is going through a tough time, and so-and-so who is also going through a tough time. And that's when we started talking about the Nurture Project.

Drum roll please...

The Nurture Project is when you pick a person that needs a little nurturing and you nurture them. Pretty simple stuff. There is only one rule: You can't tell them. It's a big fat secret.

If they knew they were officially being nurtured, they may feel like a charity case. Nobody wants that.

Even though you can't tell the person, you can tell your Nurture Project Circle, which happens to be my sister and my brother-in-law. It's good to have compadres along the way to get ideas on how to nurture your recipient, and better yet, brag about how well it's working and how good it feels. Because it does and it does.

There at the table, I said a name, my sister said a name and my brother-in-law said a name.

It was a holy moment. 

Three people are getting doused in our loving kindness this year, but I'm not going to tell you who because that'll just ruin it for everyone.

If doing a Nurture Project sounds like a rockin' good time to you, keep these tips in mind...

9 tips on nurturing your Nurture Project recipient:
  1. Send good vibes. In church, they'd call this prayer. In Spiritual Psychology, they call this Light. At Agape, they call it Love. Call it what you will. It's sending good vibes to your recipient.
  2. Send cards and letters. I love doing this anyway. I just do it more often. And how nice is it to get a card in the mail? Read more about the impact of handwritten notes here.
  3. Text, call, or even Like their stuff on Facebook. Just stay connected in a few of the thousand easy ways there is to do so. You can even nurture them by leaving comments on their blog. *Hint*
  4. Do it for a year. If you flood them with attention all in one month, they might think you're stalking them. Nurturing for a full year also means you can see their progress. The Universe gives feedback. Someone will secretly tell you how they secretly told them how great it feels to get your missives in the mail. Stuff like that. It's awesome.
  5. Keep their mailing address on hand. So simple, but if you send out Christmas cards, you know how monumental the task of sending a card can be if you don't have the mailing address.
  6. Replace your New Year's Resolution with a Nurture Project. It's a heck of a lot more fun. It takes me out of myself and my own ego. It makes me kinder and happier than I would be if I were just pushing myself to drop 10 pounds or some other inane punishable New Year's task. 
  7. Stay somewhat organized. Just like a New Year's Resolution, it's easy to forget about it two weeks in. I try to make note of when I've sent a letter. You'd be surprised at how much time goes by if you don't keep track. I've tried to send out a letter on the 1st of the month but I forget unless it's on my calendar.
  8. The Nurture Project is meant to be fun. If it's not fun or if you ever feel like you're doing so much for this person and not feeling positive vibes PULL OUT OF THE PROJECT and find someone you want to nurture just because it feels good.
  9. Be open to miracles. Trust me on this. 
The Nurture Project is nothing new. Church ladies have been doing it for ages but calling it Prayer Groups. The Catholic Woman's League in my hometown has a Secret Pal project. They pick a name out of a hat at the annual Christmas party with a person's name, address, birthday and anniversary. The nurturer sends cards on these special days but often throws in a few other cards and gifts throughout the year. At the Christmas party the next year, your Secret Pal is revealed. Then you pick a name for the coming year and it happens all over again.

One year, when my aunt had cancer, my other aunt secretly arranged to be her Secret Pal. What a rebel... throwing the Secret Pal election like that. But my aunt who was going through a nasty bout of chemo was showered with gifts all year long. And all of us got to hear about it and marvel at this wonderful Secret Pal who was more like a Secret Santa that decided to show up all year long.

Oh it was devilish good fun.

And I think it helped heal my aunt.

That's another thing about the Nurture Project. It has the ability to heal people. Now, I probably shouldn't take ALL the credit for healing the physical, mental and emotional wounds of my past Nurture Project recipients, but there was a definite positive shift in their happiness level by the end of the year. I'd like to think part of that was from getting a nice note in the mail once in awhile.

Try it. I double dog dare you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why you can't achieve your dreams... yet

I'm in Toronto because I had to visit a certain consulate about a certain visa so I can fulfill a certain dream.

(I don't mean to be so mysterious, but I'm letting you in on my plan on December 27th, which also happens to be my birthday.)

This visa application was more than just filling out a form. It was over two weeks of running around. I had to get a police report, travel health insurance, ask friends from other countries to run around and send me papers, find a lawyer to notarized a letter, save and prove I had enough money for this trip, make two appointments at the consulate and arrange to be driven to said consulate each time, which is a two hour drive.

It was a whole thing.

And the moment the interview at the consulate was over, BAM! I wanted to blog again.

I have been going through a slow down with the blogging lately. I'm sure you noticed because I'm sure this site is the first place you check every morning. In fact, you probably can't even think of me without wanting a morning coffee. I can imagine it. It's chilly in the morning so you put on your favorite cozy pullover, make a cup of coffee and sit down to read whatever wit and wisdoms Janice is sharing today.

Or it's 4 pm, you're at the office and tired and you want to look like you're working but not actually work so you check out the blog.

Either way, I'm glad you're here.

Before I wanted to blog again, I had to take care of that visa thing, which took up a lot of my time. Prior to the visa paper harvest, I had to move out of my Santa Monica apartment. And before that, I was blogging par usual.

And that's why you just can't achieve your dreams as soon as you'd like to achieve them.

You lost me.

Okay. Imagine this. You want to achieve a dream, but first you've got to get that big project done. Your project is necessary and takes up a lot of mind space. Once the project is complete, the mind has room for dream achievement.

Your head is only so big.

Unless you're Kid Rock.

Now don't go bad mouthing Kid Rock. You were singing All Summer Long/Sweet Home Alabama along with the rest of us.

I'd love have gotten my visa papers together AND moved out of my apartment AND blogged every day AND done all the writing that I wanted to get done BUT, even though I WISH I was WONDER WOMAN, I'm not and CAN'T do all of it at the same time.

Balance is bogus. It makes us juggle rather than hunker down and finish something. It makes us stop doing something that is UP for us and start doing something that isn't.

Look, I'd love to meditate for an hour, go to yoga, climb the mountain, write the greatest blog post ever, and take care of all my paperwork so that at the end of each day I could lay in bed and feel perfect/satisfied/content/bliss/whatever.

But that's not how it goes. Today, I am going to bed knowing that for the last two weeks I haven't written creatively, I haven't gone to yoga, hiked or returned that email/voice mail/whatever.

But I took care of that paperwork. And the interview happened. And now it's over. And that's awesome.

And the two weeks before that? I didn't go to yoga, write creatively or do the paperwork.

But I moved out of my apartment. And now it's done and over. And that's a good thing.

Sometimes we just have to take care of business before we can chip away at our dreams. 

Like last year. I wanted to quit my job and travel. As I looked around my apartment and thought about the reality of ACTUALLY quitting my job and traveling, I realized I had a lot of stuff in my apartment. I'd have to deal with it before I left on my travels. Big things like my furniture. And small things like canceling or changing the addresses of my loyalty program cards. Do I really want an Express card so I can buy MORE office clothes? And I didn't have enough cash to quit my job yet anyway. Plus, I didn't know where the heck to go. So I spent the better part of a year cleaning out my apartment to get it ready for when I WOULD have the cash and idea of where to start my nomadic journey. 

The dream was to quit and travel. For a very long time, the reality of that dream was less about packing bags and more about cleaning out closets. Pondering as I went.

So if you're wanting to achieve a dream right now, look at the steps it will take to get there and plug away at those first. Take care of business. Pay off those credit cards. Give away those books you'll never read again. Take that jar of pennies to the bank. Your dream will arrive soon enough.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Craigslist Parade of No-Shows

My final teeth brushing at my old apartment had to be recorded for posterity.
Well where the hell have I been?

I was on a stealth mission to Los Angeles to clear out my apartment.  

Exsqueeze me? I baking powder? Why didn't you CALL ME?


When I left for my nomadic journey back in February 2011, I left with one suitcase, but I kept my apartment in Santa Monica just in case I freaked out and came crawling back, begging for my old life. Basically, I built a take-back into my travel plans. It helped me feel brave enough to go.

Turns out, I won't be needing that take-back. So I returned to LA for two weeks to move out. Move to where? Announcement coming on December 27th. Stay tuned. 

When I arrived in Los Angeles to clean out my apartment, I thought I'd go to yoga every day, see a bazillion friends, and sell my furniture lickity split.

No. No. And no.

Craigslist, while an amazingly wonderful site to post items for sale, attracts lame ducks that don't show up to purchase the items they agreed to buy. At first this was annoying, but after awhile I learned to roll with it. We can't get mad at what we can't control. Who knows why people didn't show up. I tried not to be judgmental about it. And by the end I was even laughing about it. I'd just repost the listing, see if anyone else came along and try not to feel disillusioned with humanity.

But there were blessings in this parade of no-shows. Because the unraveling of my apartment took me much, much longer than I had originally anticipated, I had to simplify my visits with friends. Historically, I've made too many plans, ran around like a crazy person trying to fit everything in and consequently overwhelm myself and didn't enjoy a thing.

This is just the kind of thing about self that annoys self. 

But the Craiglist Parade of No-Shows had other plans for me. Sweet, wonderful, almost miraculous moments unraveled all around me.
I met one woman who bought my fireplace (after three no-shows from others). When she saw it, she asked me if I knew about the law of attraction. I could recite the film The Secret. She pulled out a print out of the fireplace she wanted. It was exactly like my fireplace. She almost bawled she was so happy. 
Finding spirit animals at West Elm.
Another woman showed up to buy my bed frame. I thanked her for showing up and vented about the No-Show Parade. She was the sweetest, kindest, almost pixie fairy of a girl. Then she said in a deep loud voice, "People are assholes" and laughed. Yikes.
Then there was Jennifer, who made me have fun when I could have just wallowed in Craigslist email misery. She was staying at my apartment with me. She'd wake up in the morning, look at me and say, "Let's sell some shit, then go to the Apple Store. We've got a date with Dakota." Dakota, our favorite Apple Store employee, would meet up with us after work at whatever random restaurant we were in. A random new friendship formed during a time of letting go of so much.
iFriends rock.

And four friends that I really, really wanted to see but thought I couldn't because they work all the time? They either quit their jobs, were laid off, on a break from travel, or their shifts were canceled. I was able to spend time with them. 

My time with friends turned out to be perfect. The ones that mattered tended to show up more often. The ones that didn't... well, somehow they were busy or stuck in traffic or whatever.

I used to bend over backwards to make friendships happen. When Craigslist forced me out of this habit, I had a better time with those I did see. And they happened to be around.

Lounging at Nordstrom with iFriends.

There was one friend I couldn't manage see because I was hauling furniture out of my apartment on the night before my flight. And another that I couldn't see but we'll meet up in another city next week. I also managed to burn a bridge on one fakey-fakey friendship. Why do we try so hard to please or avoid hurting someone we don't even like and who we know don't like us?

There is no room in life for friends that aren't awesome. 
Stopping by my favorite guitar shop for a guitar shipping box. Guitars are good friends, too.

As for Craigslist? I managed to sell off or give away everything in my apartment. I was even loading a mattress on a truck minutes before heading to the airport. And when I sat down on the plane, I collapsed into a puddle of fatigue and weepy gratitude for the friends I kept and also for those I left behind.

It's time to go. 

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