Delete Sheet Rows

If your life were an Excel spreadsheet, what would be in its columns and its rows? 

computer glass plant

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

This question occurred to me while volunteering in an administrative position at a local non-profit agency for the aging.  The organization had recently sent out an appeal letter asking for donations to help support aging well in our island community.  As is the case with any sort of bulk mailing, letters were returned for incomplete or incorrect addresses, changes of residence, and, in some cases, deaths during the previous year.

Upon arriving at the center this day, I was handed a hefty stack of envelopes that had been returned for the various reasons mentioned above.  It was my assignment to edit the organization’s mailing list on an Excel spreadsheet so that future mailings would have a lower return rate from the post office.  It wasn’t until I got to the bundle labeled “Delete” that I realized that a sizable number of the previous year’s elder members and donors had passed away.

A variety of notes were scrawled across the face of the returned envelopes to denote a person’s passing: Deceased . . . No longer alive . . . Departed the planet . . . My father transitioned in July . . . Bertie died this year.  This sort of thing.  One envelope was as succinct as it could be: This person is dead.

My task was to find each person on the spreadsheet, delete the contact information from the mailing list, draw a line through the address label on the face of envelope to indicate the edit had been taken care of, and then build a new stack of envelopes to my left to be deemed “Done & Entered.”

As I deleted, crossed out, and placed envelopes on the “Done & Entered” stack, something overpowering came over me, amplifying my awareness of what I was actually doing.  As I highlighted a row with someone’s name and clicked on the Delete Sheet Rows in the top ribbon of commands, I felt like I was dishonoring an important and essential life with the irreverent blitheness of a keystroke.  It was reducing someone’s lifetime contributions to a thoughtless Delete command.

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Photo by Shaun Bell on Unsplash

I stopped.  I looked at the stack of envelopes already piled in the “Done & Entered” stack and started over with my handling of each envelope with a different sense of care.  As I read each person’s name and address, I wondered what kind of life he or she had experienced. Were they musicians, artists, welders, teachers, truck drivers, writers, baristas, chocolatiers? Public figures, homemakers, philanthropists, grocery clerks? Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives?  Did they have families and pets who missed them?

As I looked at each envelope in the stack, I sent their families, friends, and loved ones my sympathies and hoped that they were coping with their grief from losing a loved one.  After each of these mini-celebrations of life, I would draw a big heart around each address label with a pink highlighter and put the envelope back on the stack that I was now labeling “Honored.”

Delete Sheet Rows . . . During my walk later that afternoon, the Excel entry work from the morning stayed with me.  I started to wonder: If my life were an Excel spreadsheet, what would be in its columns and its rows?  Later that evening when the house was quiet, I pulled up Excel on my laptop.

How to Journal with an Excel Spreadsheet

Across the top row of the spreadsheet, I randomly labeled boxes with my priority categories: people, dreams, goals, favorite activities, work, projects, etc.  There was nothing organized or prioritized with this labeling.  I just tabbed and listed what was near and dear to me across the top row.  I eventually had to rein myself in as I realized how impossibly far my columns were stretching to the east. Having to tab ad infinitum to the right was not going to make future journaling fun, so I started to organize columns into broad categories.

As I categorized my columns, it became clear that the spreadsheet was turning into a focus wheel – only in the form of a graph.  Eventually, by condensing the number of columns to eight, I was able to really focus on what I want to prioritize this next year.

After skipping the first column to allow for listing my activities and such in the rows below, my focus categories were labeled across the top line in columns 2-9:

  1. relationships
  2. health & exercise & outdoors
  3. dreams & goals
  4. music & art
  5. awareness & mindfulness
  6. writing
  7. play & fun
  8. learning

I then started to list activities, creative efforts, wanting, dreaming, and conceptualizing down the first column on the left that I had left for “actions & experiences.” (Examples: go to spin class, play mandolin, call my big brother, meditate, take Bronte to the beach, finish writing chapter 3, do an acrylic pour, etc.)

I then typed a number “1” into each box across the row below each priority column corresponding with what this “action” row item incorporated.  This was to allow for auto-summing columns later so I could assess my “tangibility” of focus.

For example, an afternoon of painting ceramic pots at a local pottery shop with my two best friends translated into entering a “1” across the row under six columns: relationships, dreams & goals (we talked a lot about this topic as we painted), music & art,  awareness & mindfulness (another great part of the afternoon), play & fun, and learning.  That is a lot of boxes!

Results and Discoveries

Research shows that engaging in reflection will boost and grow your memory and enrich the quality of the experience.  I discovered that the recording and the categorizing of my experiences on the spreadsheet served as this enhancing reflection.  And to carry it forward, by having these columns of focus spread out on an Excel spreadsheet, I could really embrace and grow my awareness of what was undeniably my life’s priorities and remind myself to stay focused and balanced.

By looking at – and really studying – the spreadsheet, I began to feel a renewed motivation to make my life feel engaged and rewarding and balanced . . . and not just let it slip into what has been a tendency to become “default mode.”  For example, I pushed myself to organize a fun activity to do with friends that involved seven of the columns.  While the goal is not about simply checking off all the boxes, it is about paying attention to what makes life feel balanced by incorporating preferences into memorable moments.

What really came out of my “Study in Excel” is I realized how long it had been since I had taken the time “to plan” inspiring moments into my life and “to follow through” by becoming more proactive and conscious about how globally some of these feel-good times blessed my life.

It showed that I had been slipping into the role of a passive talker – and sometimes complainer – and not an active do-er.  I had somewhere along life’s timeline given myself permission to succumb to the numbing acceptance of “whatever” and was ignoring any prompts of self-dissatisfaction to take more control of my choices in life – inspiring me to steer my time into my Priority Columns of 8 and beyond.

This process of Excelling my life has surpassed my initial curiosity that first night of musing and journaling.  This exercise has grown to guide, to inspire, and to humble me.  My name and address on an envelope may someday become a Delete Sheet Rows keystroke in an organization’s mailing list . . . but to the people who are important to me?  I want them to see their names and our shared experiences listed over and over on my life’s spreadsheet and to understand and to feel the beautiful meaning that their essence, time, and love have infused into my life.

Truth, we are far, far more than the sum of any rows and columns on a spreadsheet.  It is the little things in living that make for a life fulfilled.  By living a life infused with more intention and connecting the dots between relationships and actions, we can better appreciate the time that we have during our time on planet Earth and with the people we love.

 

 

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No GPS Required

image. expectations vs realityExpectations.  Yikers.  The mere mention of the word has the needle on my perfection-meter bouncing all over the place.

What is an expectation anyway?  An expectation is the idea that we hold ourselves or others to an experience or achievement that we believe will, without a doubt, happen in the future.  And assumptions are as attached to expectations as ice cream is to the hips.  We make the assumption that because of ABC, well . . . DEF surely must follow  . . . and so it will merrily go until XYZ gives us a cute curtsy at the final curtain call and we can all go home.

There is a certain, oftentimes hidden, agenda of chronological events — an order Continue reading

Your default: Do you welcome or fear a Change of State?

flip-your-optimism-onLife has a way of grabbing my attention and reminding me daily of what’s important.  Loved ones.  Health.  Friendship.  Family.  Compassion.  Laughter.  My lovely dog companion.  Creativity.  Nutrition and exercise.  Meditation. Generosity of spirit.  Appreciation in the moment.  When I become distracted by the trivialities that numb this awareness,  I oftentimes find myself feeling confronted . . . or greeted . . . . by a Change of State.  Confronted or greeted?  How I determine Change’s perceived benevolence factor is how I shun or welcome it.

The other day I found myself frozen in a moment of experiencing a Change of State.  Frozen.  It was inevitable that a new paradigm was opening its doors to me.  And I was immobilized with fear.

The stealth speed Continue reading

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like yourself?

piano-1396971_960_720. be yourself

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,    Thou canst not then be false to any man.”  – Shakespeare

The other day, a friend asked me, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you like yourself?”  I hesitated and wondered for a moment, letting self-awareness and self-confidence do a do-si-do with any real (or false) sense of humility and low self-esteem that was hiding inside me.

I was struggling that day.  Unbeknownst to me, it was apparent to this person.  I thought that I had been holding it all together so well with just enough breezy positivity to keep me afloat.  In reality, my world felt to be Continue reading

Too Many Ideas?

nautilus_species_shellsDo you ever feel as if you simply have too many ideas?  It isn’t that life is too short to “do” or “finish” everything . . . it’s just that each moment is too tiny to absorb all of the expansion that wants to burst forth from each little second.  This gives me pause, and I wonder What am I doing with each moment?  Am I valuing it?  Living it?  Being it?

We are prompted Continue reading

Are you an InstaGoogler?

passionately curious. einsteinAgain . . . Albert Einstein leads us by the hand and takes us to what it is about our own selves that makes us who we are.  What a remarkable person he was.

Question: What are you passionately curious about?  What is One Thing you enjoy learning about?  What is One Thing that you would like to spend some time exploring?  

What is the first answer that pops into your head?  Got it?  Next, download a [FREE] journal worksheet that will take you just a little bit further into and  farther down your Road of Curiosity.

I sometimes think that we have simply been so inundated with so much information.  

I love having Google at my very fingertips . . . but still.  Anything you want to know is just a Siri-command away.  Who wrote Stand by Me?  What is the Mariners – Angels score?  What are the health benefits of turmeric?

Are you an InstaGoogler?

Are you one of those Instant Googlers that reaches for your phone when you or someone else wonders something aloud?  Does having Instant Information at our fingertips or voice command rob us of deepening our curiosity?  Do we learn an answer and then dismiss it and maybe even forget it until the next Wonder enters the room?

I wonder.  Does having this wonderful advantage of instant information simply stuff us full of trivia and rob us of our passionate curiosity at the same time?  There is a difference — a chasm — between Knowing and Wanting to Know . . . a gap between Knowing An Answer and Wanting to Know more about stuff.  At least this is what occurs to me.  It seems that I know more and more about less and less than I used to . . . which is all good.  But still.  Don’t we truly want to know more, possess more knowledge, feel that depth-scraping satisfaction that only deep learning  provides?

Make curiosity a rewarding habit.  Explore your Curiosity with this free journaling download.

To download a free (and empowering) journaling worksheet that will help you explore and enjoy your Passionately Curious Thing, fill out the contact information below.  [This will not add you to any mailing list for future journal worksheets — unless you specify that you would like to receive them.]  This journal exercise is a journey into your curiosity, your passions, and your area of interest that defines who you are.  It’s good stuff!

Life is simply so interesting and there is soooooo much to be passionately curious about.  Live life large and expand your curiosity’s range of motion.  Think like Albert and less like a Googler.  Be you.  Be interesting.  Expand who you are.

Make an Heirloom Moment

heirloom hearts. take time

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What is one thing that you take for granted that someone does for you?

There are so many little things that we take for granted, don’t you agree?  Little things and big things.

What are a few of the little things and the big things that friends, family, colleagues, your pets, even some strangers have done and continue to do for you?  I encourage you to reciprocate and to let them know that you do appreciate their time, thoughtfulness, and effort.  It will be so very much appreciated!

If you would like a step-by-step workshop on writing the perfect note of appreciation, provide your contact information below, and I will send you a PDF from this workshop.

You know that your note is a smashing success when your special person feels like an even better person after reading it!  Great job!

 

 

Start with a Simple Idea

IMG_1611. a simple ideaStart with a Simple Idea.  

It’s as simple as that.  Or is it?  We hear stories about people who are fulfilled and successful, motivated and inspired.  What many of these people have in common is that they started their Journey of Success with a simple idea that ultimately sparked growth in their personal lives while contributing to the world around them.

I had some crazy dream about Skylab, America’s first space station, last night — how I was trying to walk on one of its pinwheel arms while maintaining my balance in a gravity-free environment — not an easy task even within the fuzzy confines of a dream.  All of which got me thinking, mid-dream, about what a wonder the whole contraption of Skylab is.  Having experienced its interstellar wonder in my dream, I woke up thinking about how much research and groundwork and hope and intention and vision and forward thinking went into creating it.

Skylab didn’t just happen.  It started with a simple idea and it grew.  Maybe someone scribbled his or her original idea of it on the back of a bar napkin.  Maybe it was the result of some astrophysicists having breakfast together at a conference.  Maybe some scientist woke up with a detailed dream of it.  I don’t know Skylab’s true genesis, but someone had to take it and move it beyond a doodle or an entry in a lab notebook.

In a TED talk (click on the link below), Tony Robbins tells the story of his family receiving an unexpected and generous Thanksgiving Day kindness when he was younger.  As a teenager, Robbins wanted to pay this stranger’s kindness forward, so he anonymously provided a different family with a Thanksgiving dinner.  This generous and simple idea grew into the creation of an organization that now feeds millions of people.

I love stories like this.  Still, as inspiring as they are, they can also feel to be a bit overwhelming.  The obvious questions enter into my thoughts: How did Tony Robbins grow the organization from this one simple gesture?  How did he organize enough people to join him in his vision?  Where did he get the capital to grow the organization into such a large one?  Sure, the amazing and energetic and dynamic Tony Robbins could pull this off  . . . but could I?

Believe-in-yourself-and-believe-in-love.-Love-something.Details, details, details.  I so often get lost in the details.  If I were to look back on my life and pushpin myself onto any given past moment, would I have imagined all of the dynamics of Today?  Parts of Today?  Maybe parts, yes. But all of the amazing-ness that I now experience?  No.  I don’t think I could have foreseen a tiny glimpse of the bigger picture.  I had to take one simple step.  And believe.  And know.  And feed the vision.toaster oven

Skylab was originally launched unmanned but there were eventually several different crews delivered to the station.  On the latter missions, there was even an additional spacecraft orbiting to rescue the crew should they encounter any emergencies.  Imagine these baby steps.  First, unmanned.  Next, manned missions.  Ultimately, backup and support.

Albert-Einstein-Quote-Happy-Life

For a free download (in workbook format) of today’s journal prompt “Start with a Simple Idea,” provide your email address, and I will send you your inspiring journal exercise for you to print out and to start journaling.  Time to make a differrence! 

And to conclude on an uplifting note . . . This is such an inspiring TED talk: Why We Do What We Do.  If you have 21:45 today to take the time to just relax and to open your mind to possibilities, this is a great TED talk.  In fact . . . watch it before you begin journaling.  The ideas that Tony Robbins shares will expand your thinking and your creativity and your perceptions of what is possible.

Be you.

door. lock. unlock your dreams

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  • Do you have any dreams that are being held captive behind locked doors?
  • Who put the lock on the doors?
  • Who has the key?
  • What will it take for you to grab the key, unlock the lock, and swing those doors wide open?

We all have been in that place where we feel stuck.  That there seems to be no forward movement in the present moment.  That we feel like we are being held hostage by a series of decisions that have brought us to wherever Here is.

I have definitely found myself in this place.  If I could have only seen that I was the one who was building the walls that were holding me back.  I look back and think What was I thinking?!  How could I have thought that that scenario was okay?  And att the time, I knew that I was the only one holding me back from making a change.

But here I am today, a living testimony to my own little self to how blessings magically can appear when I am willing to muster the courage to do something different.  To try something that is the complete opposite of my M.O.

  • When I was silent, to speak up.
  • When I was afraid, to do something brave.
  • When my intuition was telling me that something wasn’t true, to believe myself.
  • When I was fearful of losing the status quo, to let it all go with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.
  • When I was jealous, to laugh at what I perceived to be threatening.
  • When I was feeling bullied by another’s negativity, to feel the freedom and release by my own positivity.
  • When I doubted myself, to believe in me.
  • When I felt small, to walk tall.
  • When I didn’t feel good enough, to love myself.
  • When I wasn’t sure, to be me.

To be me.  To choose beautiful.  To believe.  To err on the side of happiness.  To not confuse loyalty with stupidity.

Am I beating myself up?  No.  Not in the least.  It is good to have perspective on times that were less than fun.   But today?  Today is a day for speaking up.  For advocating for what it is that makes me happy.  For trusting others with the truth.  With my truth.  For believing in others kindness.

We hear it all the time: “It’s all good.”  But is it?  Maybe it’s not all good all the time. There are times when it is best to walk away from It’s all good and take a deep breath and try something entirely new.  It’s scary, and the unknown doesn’t always feel like a benevolent companion.  But it’s okay to give life a chance.  To give yourself a chance.

Am I going to make more mistakes?  Make more bad decisions?  Probably.  But I am going to keep hold of the key in my pocket and be brave enough to use it when it is time to make a change.  I am going to try to remember to try doing something that is the opposite of what I am feeling or doing or thinking . . . and set off in new directions.

piano-1396971_960_720. be yourself

theunseenwordsproject.com

 

Love is all you need.

436. let love in. cardo

theunseenwordsproject.com

Love is all you need.

“The Starbucks Love Project: In one amazing moment, the world came together to sing about the one thing we all have in common: love. People from around the world sang the legendary hit All You Need is Love in a single voice on December 7, 2009 at 8:30 am EST.”

Happy Monday to all of you good people.  This musical project is such a beautiful testimony to how music brings us all together.  All you need is love!

And here is a journal prompt for you today to write about in your own favorite tidbit journal:

  1. What is one thing that you think would happen if you let love all the way in?
  2. If love were a color, what color would it be?  And why would it be this color?
  3. Is there someone who might need to feel some extra love today?  Who is it and what would you like to say to him or her?  Why not take a few moments and share some love with this person.

I found this journal online (image and link below) with this same message of love on the cover.  It seems that I can never have enough journals!

Eccolo World Traveler Journal Essential Collection, All You Need Is Love


http://amzn.to/2brx13j

And then I found this cute purse!

‘Ale By Alessandra Women’s All you need is love Clutch


http://amzn.to/2aUX5W0