Closet Clutter

I cannot even with this closet clutter. 

There are 54,879 tennis balls in this closet and no one that currently lives in our home is playing tennis these days. For nine months of the year I don’t even care about this clutter cave. But the other 3 months of the year I need to get a coat and gloves. It sucks my will a little bit every time I go in there. It is not nice to look at nor functional. This is the opposite of Sustainable Productivity.

Until recently. 

Remember the time lapse habit tip from a few weeks ago about writing? Check out the time lapse video of my declutter session – it kept me accountable to not being distracted by all those dumb tennis balls! You can watch the time lapse declutter session at this link. If you like what you see, I would greatly appreciate it if you would subscribe to the YouTube channel while you are there and share with a friend.

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What decluttering project is taunting you?
  2. What day in the next week can you set a timer for 15 minutes to do a small step forward on this project?

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find podcasts. 

By |2022-10-18T09:04:38-04:00October 25th, 2022|Environmental Surroundings|0 Comments

Nature Break

When pro cyclists have to pee they call, “Nature Break!” and the whole peloton pulls over to wiz in a field.

This is not that type of Nature Break.

Source: (where else?!)

This Nature Break is a pause in your day sponsored by Mother Nature. And Cheryl Strayed’s mom.

Here is the wisdom that Cheryl Strayed’s mom shared with her:

Every day put yourself in the way of beauty.

Bobbi Lambrecht

Here is a collection of beauty for your Nature Break today:

Lake Brandt, Greensboro NC
Imagine how pretty we appear to others when we are transitioning too.
Is it just me or does it seem like there are a zillion more acorns this year? One bounced off my helmet while I was riding my bike and it sounded like I was being shot at.

I will close this Nature Break with these wise words from Aristotle, not quite as wise at Cheryl’s mom, but close:

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

By |2022-10-16T07:53:50-04:00October 20th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Fall Fun Check In

I thought it might be helpful to run this Fall Fun Check In like a SusPro Continuous Improvement session. Yep – that is why I don’t get invited to parties – this is my idea of a good time. 

Just to catch up any newcomers, the Fall Fun List is where I am trying to add more fun and whimsy to my life. See previous sentence for my idea of a good time, and you can understand why adding fun and whimsy to my life might be needed. You can read more about what is on the list at this post.

The SusPro Continuous Improvement session is where we use Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) steps to make incremental adjustments to reach the target. You can read the background on this at this post, but we will be following the 3-step approach today. 

Step 1: Record the Result

The habit change I am making is to have more fun so I made a list. At the end of the week I looked at my result – I had completed one item on this list: Leaf walk with no device. 

I was not recording time or distance. Just whether or not I did it. Boom checkmark in the box.

Full Disclosure: I cheated a bit. I did have my phone in my pocket for the hike, but I did not take it out to take pictures, check messages, add groceries to the list, or submit reminders. None of these activities was peepin’ leaves, which was the intention.  

That is all there is to this step – one item complete. Onto Step 2 – the analysis.

Step 2: Why This Result

This analysis step can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. For the purposes of the Fall Fun Check In, it was low hanging fruit with zero barriers to entry. This is corporate speak for the easiest thing on the list. We had not been hiking in a long time. The morning was cold, but the sky was so so blue. Perfect for getting in the woods and looking at the changing of the leaves. 

I kept thinking that I needed to snap a pic to demonstrate the beauty I saw. The I thought about the intent of the list. It made me leave the phone in my pocket. But here is a photo I took a few years ago – this is such a beautiful season in North Carolina.

In summary: The answer to the question about why this is the result is that I picked something easy to get started, then knew I would be accountable to you to keep me honest about no devices. 

Not every analysis will be about success, sometimes things go awry and you will need to make adjustments, which is next. 

Step 3: Adjustment(s)

Considering I completed one item on the Fall Fun List, I consider this a success and don’t have a specific adjustment at this time. I do want to wave a caution flag at myself (and any other over-doers out there). Getting everything done quickly is not better – I want to make sure I am keeping the spirit and intent of this list – to be FUN. 

Doing everything quickly, or even more dangerous to Sustainable Productivity – adding more to the list, is not the exercise here. Not an adjustment, just a watch out.

And now to close the session we set the time for the next check in.

Closing Ceremonies

My original plan was to do one Fall Fun Check In at the end of the list or December 1st, but knowing I was reporting back was motivating. As I knock these items out I will report back along the way – it might be here or on social media. In the spirit of the closing of the Continuous Improvement check in, I will review each week on my own and share as I am able.

Boom – that’s it, easy peasy. While the intent of this weekly message was to brag about walking around in the woods, I did also want to review the Continuous Improvement steps as well. Maybe this is something that you could fold into your habit change?

If you try it out, I would love to hear how it goes. Reply to this post or contact me at

By |2022-10-15T08:54:01-04:00October 18th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Guilty Pleasures

On podcast episode #33, my cohost and I talked about about guilty pleasures. While you can find out mine here, today I want to talk about the joy and fun that can come from these guilty pleasures.

I was So Damn Serious for a LONG TIME. And when I was unserious, I was worried about how I looked, who saw me, and what they thought. Or I felt left out because no one was planning fun for me.

Now as I am breathing down the neck of 50 years old, I am finding joy in things and not giving any damns about what the world thinks of them. Further, I am planning my own joy and fun because I know what that means to me. I have no guilt in my pleasure.

You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.

Mary Oliver

Of course we want to keep it in the bounds of what is legal, but in general, don’t yuck on someone else’s yum. If you don’t like that food, book, TV show, concert, or whatever – let that activity go and find your own guilty pleasure.

Try new things. You won’t know it brings you joy until you try. Canadian-American singer-songwriter Buffy Saint- Marie says it best:

You have to sniff out joy. Keep your nose to the joy trail.”

Sustainable You Questions

1 – Do you have any guilty pleasures?

2 – If no, why not? If yes, how can you get more of that in your life?

By |2022-10-05T17:02:54-04:00October 13th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Ugly Truth About the Drama Triangle

The Drama Triangle is like my Bermuda Triangle. I always say I want peace, but the second I get it I am back to stirring the pot. I get sucked in never to return.

This is an ugly truth that bubbled up as I was prepping to record for the Drama episode of the Conscious Contact podcast, and I have been thinking about it a lot in the weeks since then.

Instead of just enjoying a nice dinner, I had to find that one thing that one person said and be crabby about it. 

I can’t just sit still – I have to start a project. 

The Drama Triangle

I think (and this has been validated after thousands of dollars of therapy) that this stems from some dysfunction as I was growing up. Research calls this the Drama Triangle. There is a victim, a persecutor and a rescuer in each corner making up this triangle. 

I am a rescuer through and through. I grew up feeling like I needed to be the glue keeping shit together. Even today I make my living in my day job as a project manager. I am a fixer. 

Wanna ask me how that’s working? 

Another gem from giphy

When you are a hammer everything is a nail. Someone has a problem, I can swoop in and rescue them. I insert myself into the drama and the Drama Triangle forms. Then wonder why I am damn tired. 

The Lesson

As a card carrying member of the sandwich generation I find myself wanting to fix my kids’ problems and my dad’s problems. My husband’s problems and my dog’s problems. Which is only half of the problem. Because while I am worrying over everyone else’s stuff, I am not taking care of my own problems. Here are some ways this may present itself, maybe you can relate:

  • I don’t have to address my unhealthy eating habits if I focus on what you are buying at the grocery store.
  • While I nag you about quitting smoking, I can ignore my addiction to my phone and being busy. 
  • I feel less than when I only ride my bike an hour a day (vs. what Young Susan did) so I focus on how little you are exercising. 
  • When I am not doing the things I know I should do (whether it is writing every day, getting the report done at work, or returning my library books on time), I am going to avoid feeling badly by pointing out what you are not doing.

Yeah, it feels really gross. It makes me feel anxious. Whoever I am directing my worry at probably feels picked on or worse. 

I am working on it, though. And when I am on the right track with the mental and emotional work the Universe drops bread crumbs in my path. These bread crumbs tell me I am on the path that I am supposed to be on. The episode on drama leading to my reading up on the Drama Triangle was one of those bread crumbs.

Then my Higher Power dropped another.

The Teacher

As I was working on some things to launch the Conscious Contact Book Club, I came across this quote by Thich Naht Hahn (the author of the book club pick):

Wow, what a bread crumb. Sort of like the whole ciabatta knocking me upside the head. This was particularly helpful for me because I have a hard time with the advice to just stop something. Stopping something creates a vacuum  that needs to be filled. How do I stop my negative thinking that manifests into the Drama Triangle?

Mind calming exercise is something that I can fill the void with. 

The Learning

Here is how this has played out in recent weeks since coming across this message. I notice myself wanting to get all up in someone else’s business, offering advice and shoulds. Instead of saying the first thing that pops in my head, I pause before talking. I take a deep breath in that pause giving a second of silence.

Which makes for awkward moments at times – people are not used to a beat of silence. But an interesting thing happens in that silence. Sometimes my kid will come up a solution to the problem. At work others will volunteer to take something on. 

Of course this is not a perfect solution. I also have been extending my mindfulness meditation in the morning as part of my routine. There have been days when I need to step away from the conversation and do it again in the afternoon when I want to step into the Drama Triangle again.

There are times when I am so agitated at not inserting myself into the drama I cannot sit still. This is where walking meditation comes in. A slow walk around the garden or taking Lucille to the marina with no headphones for distraction. Just nature and a super happy dog. The pause, the mindful meditation, and the time in nature create the openness to move away from the drama. 

Sustainable You Questions

1 – When do you find yourself part of the Drama Triangle? Are you the victim, the persecutor or the rescuer?

2 – How does this play out in your daily life? Is this working for you and can you continue it lifelong (i.e., is this Sustainably Productive)?

3 – If this is not Sustainably Productive, what 3 activities could you try to put in the pause between the drama and your response?

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-10-05T16:35:39-04:00October 11th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Fall Fun List

Hey Accountability Buddies! I am back with a follow up to the Fall Fun request. Thank you to those of you who sent me suggestions to include. You did NOT disappoint. Thank you for offering suggestions and holding me accountable to making this list. Let’s discuss.

What It Isn’t

First, this is not a fall chore list!!! When I started making this list it was exactly that – my list of things to do in the fall. TO DOs – not FUN. You know I consider gardening to be fun, but that is not what the Fall Fun List is. Sure I will still be relocating monkey grass, freeing blueberry bushes from the slow death that is our shady yard, and leaf mulching everything not moving. But this list is about more than that.

Secondly, this is my Fall Fun List, not My People’s list. Bixby considers approximately none of this fun. He may still participate, but honestly – that would just be icing on the Fall Fun Cake. Let’s move on before I mix any more metaphors.

Permission Slip

One Fall Fun permission slip I want to offer to you that I wrestled with is that it is ok to Google what to do. I did not originally want to do this because “this is not how fun people do it.” The story I was telling myself is that fun people know where the fun is. 

Growing up my mom just knew when the corn roast and 4th of July parade were. I have no idea how my mom always knew (besides the giant banner across Main St), but she did. I do not have this gift. So Google there I went! And you can too – use the tools at your disposal to create the life you want.

The Big Reveal

All the more reason to do a Fall Fun list – and publicly at that. Here is the big reveal of Fall Fun activities that I will accomplish between Oct 1 and Dec 1 (when holiday shenanigans begin). Short and sweet and sustainable.

Remember – start where you are, make small adjustments to set yourself up for Sustainably Productive success. I will share details as I work my way through the list – here, on Facebook, and / or Instagram. I would love to hear what Fall Fun you are getting up to as well!

By |2022-10-02T19:21:55-04:00October 6th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Values and Routines

This time of year everyone jumps on the routines bandwagon. Newspapers, magazines, social media, TV, school pick up lines – everyone is talking about creating fall routines to fix our lives. 

Fixing our lives is an inside job and applying someone else’s routine is not the Sustainably Productive way forward. You don’t fix internal bleeding with a bandaid. You fix it by getting inside to the root of the issue and stopping the bleeding. This is how Desmond Tutu describes it:

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

Around here we go back to the core of who we are – our values. 

Values are defined as, “judgement of what is important in life.” I would like to build on what Webster has to say here: important in each of our lives today.

Let’s talk more about each part.

…Each of our lives…

What is important to me may not be important to you. On the podcast (Episode 19: Routines and Values, which you can listen to here), Genay made a statement that had me sitting straight up in my chair: I do not want to live out of fear.

This is a stake in the ground that she can bounce all ideas off of. A few of my core values are integrity, curiosity, sustainability. These are the benchmarks that I make decisions from. We covered several examples of this on the podcast.

I want to elaborate here the importance of letting your values lead your systems. Let’s say for example that you and I were both invited to a party on Friday. For the sake of the discussion, consider that sustainability is a value for me, and a value of yours is friendship. 

Knowing that I will be completely drained on Friday evening after a full week of work and life, it does not feel sustainable to me to get myself out the door to interact with a room full of strangers. Now consider that you might be an introvert as well and have had a long, intense week just like me. But your value is friendship so you go to the party to support your friend knowing that supporting her will be fulfilling.

Both scenarios are ok. Neither is good or bad or better than another. This is why values should be considered for each person. 

Let’s look at the other addition to the definition. 


What is important to you today may change. 

It may change once your kids are out of the house. Or when you retire. Or when you go from being single to being married (or vice versa). Or just because you having life experiences and change your mind about your values. 

All of that is ok. Again – neither is good or bad or better than another. 

Now that we have a better definition of values, let’s look at a couple other constructs around routines and values.

Schedules vs Routines

There is a difference between schedules and routines. A schedule indicates that you have committed to do a certain thing at a certain time. But a routine is a group of activities that can serve as a transition to or from a certain part of your day. Here is an example.

My morning routine serves as an on ramp from being in bed to being at my day job. I have several activities like dog walk, breakfast, play Jeopardy via Alexa with Bixby, specific readings, meditation, and my stretches. 

This is a routine because none of it is time bound. It just happens between when I put my feet on the floor and when I log into my day job. Of course it needs to be reasonable so I don’t get fired, but if I walk the dog at 5:45 am or 6:30 am, it doesn’t matter. It is not a schedule. 

This provides me with freedom on days I want to do yoga. Class is at 6:00 am. If I had a morning schedule that the dog had to be walked at 6:00 am, I would never be able to do yoga. That is not productive nor sustainable. Instead I just rearrange the activities in my routine into a different order on mornings I want to get to yoga. 

Think of time as bumpers, not electrified rails. You have a window of time to get activities done vs. electrocution if you divert any small amount.

The third rail is not a fun and inviting place to be. Source: Photo by Rémi Bertogliati on Unsplash

Returning to my morning routine example, I know I have between 5:30 am – 9:00 am to complete my routine. Some days I can knock it all out by 7:00 am. Some days I may or may not be stretching while my work computer fires up because it took longer to get my feet on the floor or spent longer on the dog walk. But if I viewed this as a schedule, and 5:40 am – 6:15 am was dog walk window and I did not get started until 5:45 am…

ZAP. Into the electric third rail. These are the things that lead us to ditch habits, feel like a failure, and want to escape our lives. 

One more thought on setting yourself up to pair your values and routines. 

Ideal Me or Real Me

Honor the Real You that you are today, not the Ideal You of shoulds and dreams. When building routines start where you are, not where the ideal version of you is. 

And please, I beg of you – if you only get this one thing as a takeaway from this weekly essay – do not do this with shame. There is no shame in what is the Real You today. Shame and judgement will derail every attempt to link your routines and values. 

Maybe the Ideal You has her digital files sorted and organized, photos up to date and backed up, only a few things on her laptop main screen. That is all well and good, but Real You is in the weeds with school aged kids and a full time job where there is management transition. Look at how you can combine values and routines to suit Real You.

  • That might be deleting 5 old files per week. 
  • Maybe it is spending 15 minutes of each kids’ practice time (while you are waiting anyway) deleting old photos you know you don’t want to back up. 
  • Real You might be able to just hire someone to handle it for you. 

Nowhere in this bulleted list does it say to shame yourself for not being able to keep up with digital clutter. That is not productive, nor sustainable. 

Sustainable You Questions

1) What couple activities could you reframe as routine instead of schedule?

2) Are there certain times of day that you feel a transition would help – morning, bed time for kids, bed time for you – these are popular places people address first.

3) Is what you consider “Ideal You” matching up to your values or is that what someone else told you the standard was?

By |2022-09-23T12:45:11-04:00October 4th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments
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