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On Being Busy and Bored

March 11, 2014

I had lunch with some friends today and, after some car-bound pondering while driving the interstate on my way home, I got to thinking. I find it interesting how I “complained” about being both bored and busy – simultaneously, no less.

This started me wondering: Am I really that bored? Am I really that busy? Or am I simply labeling something else in these familiar terms? As a writer, I know that we often limit ourselves with familiar language.

I have to ask myself, what is really going on? Despite this extended stint of unemployment, I’ve kept myself involved in all my usual projects. I’m still contributing to a variety of publications. I continue to support a number of organizations through volunteering. I am increasing the number of events I coordinate. Some of these things are paid; others are free – but life is like that.

Before I was unemployed, however, I did all of these things AND worked a 40-hour office job.

Right now, though, life feels a bit like it is in limbo. I’ve taken a temporary part-time position filling in for a friend on maternity leave, but there are a few things to work through before I can start. I recently finished volunteering as an organizer for a huge event. The details for my next event are still changing, so I’m waiting to kick off that project. And I’ve submitted tons of resumes and hope to hear something on the job front soon.

Not having a full-time job is nerve-wracking, of course. A job also takes up a considerable amount of time. I can see how we are wired to consider ourselves to be bored when we are not dedicating some 2,000 hours per year to a specific thing.

While I’m still writing, I’ve been doing that at home to save money on gas and coffee (often sitting on the couch/lazy-boy). A lot of this sitting, albeit productive work, can be a bit of a mind trick as well.  Yes, I am planning, researching, writing, reading, etc., but staying in one place with few changes in scenery can be boring. Our unseasonably cold winter in the South hasn’t helped, either.

So, yes, I suppose I am simultaneously busy and bored. It’s a strange feeling, and sounds a little unreal when you say it out loud. As “they” say, truth can be stranger than fiction.

Until that change in scenery comes along, looks like I’ll do my best to stay busy while trying not to get too bored…. or should I say stay active while trying not to get too uninterested… or what about stay engaged while trying not to get too jaded… better yet, maybe just stay with the simple, familiar language.

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Downsizing My DVDs (Adventures in Minimalism)

February 15, 2014

The weather in Birmingham has been miserable over the past month or so. This week, much of the city remains in “shut down” mode due to all of the “French Toast Alerts.”* Wednesday was no exception – it was rainy with the potential of getting cold enough to freeze overnight.

Feeling inspired by The Minimalists, I spent part of my afternoon sorting through my DVD collection (and the layer of dust covering it).

My dusty DVD collection.

My dusty DVD collection.

I had a total of 165 DVDs. I used the standard three-pile sorting system: ditch, keep, maybe. To be honest, the initial sorting was easier than I expected. I ended up with the following:

  • 119 – Ditch
  • 27 – Keep
  • 13 – Maybe
Sorting my DVDs: Ditch - Keep - Maybe

Sorting my DVDs: Ditch – Keep – Maybe

Not to bad for a first sort. The Maybe pile ended up split in half with 7 going to the Ditch pile and 6 to the Keep. Then I remembered I had a stack of DVDs near the television upstairs. Since I had watched these recently, all 6 went to the Keep pile. The final tally was:

  • 126 – Ditch
  • 39 – Keep

I’m happy with these results. For the most part, I got rid of any movie that had “meh” as my initial reaction to the title and kept any movie that made me giggle when I saw the cover. By that, I don’t mean I giggled at the cover – I had to giggle at a memory of the movie or because I really enjoy watching the movie. The next criteria included music; I kept all of my music DVDs (because music makes me happy). I also kept any DVDs I would use while teaching a history course.

My Curated DVDs

My Curated DVDs

My carefully curated DVD collection now consists of:

Final movie selections

Final movie selections

Movies

  • 13 Conversations About One Thing
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Bubba Ho-Tep
  • Clue
  • Coffee and Cigarettes
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Dead Man
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Death to Smoochy
  • Dogma
  • Fight Club
  • Ghost Dog
  • History of the World Part I
  • Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Lost in Translation
  • Love Actually
  • Meet Joe Black
  • Miracle
  • The Princess Bride
  • Say Anything
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Slap Shot
  • Snatch
  • Super Troopers
  • Tank Girl
Concerts & Performances

Concerts & Performances

Music / Performance

  • Denis Leary No Cure for Cancer
  • Lightning in a Bottle
  • Live Aid
  • Pearl Jam Live at the Garden
  • Social Distortion Live in Orange County
  • U2 Go Home
  • U2 Live from Chicago
  • U2 Rattle and Hum
History DVDs

History DVDs

History

  • Ghosts Along the Freeway
  • Goin’ to Chicago
  • Wonderland
  • The World that Moses Built
  • The People Speak

I also kept the 6 VHS tapes I found on the DVD shelf. Five of them were music related and the sixth was my first skydive. I haven’t decided what to do with these yet, but I offered the tape of a local band to its former band members and it will find a new home with them.

Now I have two large shopping bags of DVDs to cart down to 2nd & Charles (can’t wait for that store credit – books are definitely my Achilles heel…) As I look at my new DVD lists, I think it is a really good selection.

If you downsized your DVD collection, what would you keep?

* For those unfamiliar with life in the south, when there is a freeze or snow warning many residents rush to the store for milk, eggs, and bread – the three main ingredients in French Toast.

Minimalism Seeping In

February 12, 2014

Recently I’ve been doing my best to pare down my life. Like most people, I have way too much stuff (and way too much attachment to it). I always ask myself why I’m holding on to certain things and if I really need them, yet I still haven’t let a lot of it go. Since last June, reducing and letting go has been a conscious effort. I was reminded of this when I went to see The Minimalists last night.

(If you aren’t familiar with The Minimalists, check out their web site here.)

As I look back over the past three years, I notice minimalism slowly seeping into my life. Yes, I’ve been aware of minimalism as a movement and as a lifestyle choice. However, without trying too hard, a number of minimalistic tendencies have taken root.

It started simply enough – my closet is a finite space and so is my armoire. I make relatively efficient use of those spaces, but I also like clothes. Three or four years ago I began a ritual that has become a habit. Every spring and fall, as I change out the strictly summer variety for the strictly winter variety, I donate clothes to charity. One of the unintentional results of this has been that I now give away more clothes than I buy every year.

About a year ago I got tired of picking through piles of makeup for the two or three products I use on a regular basis. I sorted out the makeup, gave away some nail polishes, and dumped the products in the trash (and recycled the containers when I could). I now have a face cream, one eye shadow, two or three eyeliners, lip balm, blush, and three or four lipsticks. Want to know what of this I use on a regular basis? The face cream and the lip balm; I throw on some blush, eye shadow, and mascara for special occasions. I still have more nail polish than I need, but baby steps.

The same goes for hair products, lotions, face scrubs, etc. I ditched hundreds of dollars of products I rarely used. I kept items I could still use, like half empty bottles of shampoo. As I run out of items, I simply switch to the ones I saved – another cost savings as well as getting rid of extra stuff.

Since last night’s talk (and my subsequent reading of their book Simplicity), I’ve been inspired to do more. After I downsized my storage unit, I put a couple boxes of old movie posters in my trunk. Yes they’re still there, but I’m planning to get those photographed and on ebay very soon.

Earlier today I decided that now is as good a time as any to really dive into minimalism and tackled my DVD collection. My jewelry box is next on the chopping block. Stay tuned.

New Year and New Thought Processes

December 8, 2013

Yeah, I know it isn’t New Year’s Eve yet, but I don’t really subscribe to the whole New Year’s Resolution thing. I used to.

As I learned in my early adulthood, the enthusiasm for most resolutions usually fizzles out by January 30. I’ve wavered over the past 20 years, occasionally making resolutions that I’d hoped to keep and never did. How many times did I resolve to quit smoking? Lose 10 pounds? Exercise more? Eat healthier? And how many of us make these same resolutions?

I did finally manage to quit smoking, but that was a deliberate decision I made almost 10 years ago in May. I have exercised regularly for a couple years now, but the decision to start kickboxing class was made last September and I’ve stuck with it ever since. Sometimes, the best decisions are not made in January.

Over the past couple years I started using my birthday to evaluate how things are going and if I need to work on anything. Ancora Imparo and all. I find that, overall, I simply want to be more mindful.

A few days ago I turned 43 – or as I decided to call it, “I completed my 43rd circumnavigation of the sun.” (a bit pretentious, I know) Now it’s time to take a look at where things are and where they’re going.

1.            As most everyone knows, I lost my job back in June. Overall, it was a positive thing. I’m a much happier person for it despite the loss of a regular income. I am also fortunate to have the luxury to look for a position that will suit me rather than taking the first decent offer after graduation.

2.            One of my passions is writing. However, I have become a bit lax where my writing is concerned. I have taken on a few projects, but I really need to increase my freelancing and keep up with these other outlets – including this blog.

3.            Being mindful – this is something I continue to work on. Yes, it is a catch-all for a wide variety of things, but I plan to continue working toward being present and aware.

So, these are the things I’m going to keep an eye on over the next year and I plan to use this blog to keep myself accountable. Hopefully, when I check in next year, I’ll get to peruse these posts and see the progress.

It’s Been a Busy Couple of Months

August 3, 2013
Image from the Uptown Skate School web site.

Image from the Uptown Skate School web site.

I’ve been checking out some interesting happenings in and around Birmingham lately.

~*~*~

In April, I began covering the status of skateboarding and a potential new skate park in Birmingham. for The Terminal. So far, it has passed the neighborhood association and has moved up the chain to the City’s Parks & Recreation Department. Hopefully, I’ll have more news to report soon.

April: Tackling where next to skate in Birmingham

May: Glen Iris Neighborhood Considers Skatepark

July: Glen Iris Neighborhood endorses plans for skatepark in George Ward Park

~*~*~

A new canoe launch on the Cahaba River was announced in July, Moon River Canoe Launch announced.

~*~*~

Design Review Updates:

The Magic City Post closed up shop and my Design Review column was picked up by The Terminal.

July

Design Review: A Return of the sign and Milo’s isn’t moving (yet)

Design Review: Signs…really cool signs (and a house)

June

Design Review: Uptown, Five Points South & signs

Design Review: Temporary bookstores, antennas and elephants in the room

May

Design Review: A church, some patios, and Penny

Plus – Harbert Realty & the Two North Twentieth Sign: A Brief History

~*~*~

Read…Listen…Experience

I have always been a reader and often review the books I read for Zen Dixie. You can check out my reviews at the Zen Dixie Reads page.

July: Want to go to a concert this weekend? Why, Yes, I do!

June: “I am John Fields and I just ate a hamburger”

June: Finally! I Get to See the Dropkick Murphys!

June: Gathering at the cemetery

May: Picnic like the Victorians

May: Living Life with a Soundtrack

~*~*~

I even ended up on the other end of the interview for a change in Jacks of All Trades.

All Things Come to an End Eventually…

July 1, 2013

Which leaves room for new things to begin.

It has been months since I updated this blog. I planned to do it week after week, but it just became one of those tasks that I put off. I even downloaded a blogging planner in hopes to get better organized and start updating this regularly again.

Last week, things changed. I suppose the solstice always marks change in one form or another. The month of June and my time at the position I held for almost two years simultaneously came to an end – as did spring, the fiscal year, and the first half of 2013. When you look at it this way, it is a lot of ends happening all at once.

Yet, as July begins today, it seems more invigorating than anything else.

To be honest, although I worked diligently at the position, my heart was not in it. The position was simply a job. I was not bad at it per se – downright successful on occasion. I truly enjoyed a portion of my job, but not all of it. Could I have done it better? Likely so. Would I have ever wholeheartedly thrown myself into the parts I didn’t enjoy? Likely not. Do I have any regrets? Not really. In fact, I learned a lot.

I had often thought of quitting. Actually, I had started job hunting about six months ago. I was keeping afloat, biding my time. And then my time was up.

So now, onto new adventures!

New Book Reviews at Zen Dixie

January 11, 2013

Introverts Way CoverPsychology Today’s resident introvert Sophia Dembling has assembled her acquired knowledge – both personal and from others – into an interesting and enlightening book, The Introvert’s Way. The book was released in December, hopefully in time for family and friends of introverts to at least skim a few pages to better manage the holidays for both the introverts and extroverts in the family…

How to Be a Woman Cover

How to Be a Woman brings us an honest and humorous look at the ins and outs of being a woman. At its best, the memoir portions of the narrative are immediately relatable. Moran talks about taking the leap from childhood and wanders from trials to tribulations to the usual major events modern women have dealt with for years…

Read More at Zen Dixie…

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