Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I thought this quote was pretty descriptive:
“To encapsulate the notion of Mardi Gras as nothing more than a big drunk is to take the simple and stupid way out, and I, for one, am getting tired of staying stuck on simple and stupid.
Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies. Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge.
Mardi Gras is bars and restaurants changing out all the CD's in their jukeboxes to Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers, and it is annual front-porch crawfish boils hours before the parades so your stomach and attitude reach a state of grace, and it is returning to the same street corner, year after year, and standing next to the same people, year after year--people whose names you may or may not even know but you've watched their kids grow up in this public tableau and when they're not there, you wonder: Where are those guys this year?
It is dressing your dog in a stupid costume and cheering when the marching bands go crazy and clapping and saluting the military bands when they crisply snap to.
Now that part, more than ever.
It's mad piano professors converging on our city from all over the world and banging the 88's until dawn and laughing at the hairy-shouldered men in dresses too tight and stalking the Indians under Claiborne overpass and thrilling the years you find them and lamenting the years you don't and promising yourself you will next year.
It's wearing frightful color combination in public and rolling your eyes at the guy in your office who--like clockwork, year after year--denies that he got the baby in the king cake and now someone else has to pony up the ten bucks for the next one.
Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once.”
― Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Here is a list of my favorite things to do while I'm trapped in the house during a snow day:
1. Clean. Yup there's just something about being at home during a cold day that makes me want to mop floors.
2. Cook. And while I'm mopping floors, there's sure to be a stew or chili in the crockpot and a batch of cornbread or muffins in the oven.
3. Create. My journal calls to me to write in it and making homemade Valentine's Day cards sounds like a good idea.
4. Call someone. I want to hear from all my friends, know they're safe, and compare snow day stories.
5. Watch movies or play video games with my sweetie. Something I don't do enough of in his opinion.
6. Dust off an old yoga or workout DVD. Maybe you can talk your kids into joining you.
What are YOU doing during all this cold weather?
Thursday, January 23, 2014
by Erin Doland on Mar 29, 2011
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted in the January issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that relates directly to uncluttered and organized living. From their report “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex”:
Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.
Or, to paraphrase in non-neuroscience jargon: When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.
The clutter competes for your attention in the same way a toddler might stand next to you annoyingly repeating, “candy, candy, candy, candy, I want candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy …” Even though you might be able to focus a little, you’re still aware that a screaming toddler is also vying for your attention. The annoyance also wears down your mental resources and you’re more likely to become frustrated.
The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other physiological measurement tools to map the brain’s responses to organized and disorganized stimuli and to monitor task performance. The conclusions were strong — if you want to focus to the best of your ability and process information as effectively as possible, you need to clear the clutter from your home and work environment. This research shows that you will be less irritable, more productive, distracted less often, and able to process information better with an uncluttered and organized home and office.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies
Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.
Why does mess lead to so much stress?
Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important.
Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
Clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
Clutter creates feelings of guilt ("I should be more organized") and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the "pile" or keys swallowed up by the clutter).
Fortunately, unlike other more commonly recognized sources of stress (e.g., our jobs, our relationships), clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix. Here are a few ideas:
Healing the 3 Hidden Sources of Holiday Stress
Coping with Holiday Stress
Is Your Workplace a Stress Factory?
How to Make To-Do Lists Work for You, Not Against You
Find a Therapist
Search for a mental health professional near you.
Tackle de-cluttering as a family. If clutter has invaded your entire house, don't tackle the job alone. Get the whole family involved by starting with a room everyone uses and making each person responsible for a section. If you're on your own, start with one area at a time and finish de-cluttering that area before moving on to another. This will give you a sense of accomplishment as you see your successes little by little.
Create designated spaces for frequently used items and supplies so that you can quickly and easily find what you're looking for when you need it. However, try to make these designated spaces "closed" spaces, such as drawers and cabinets. "Storing" things on open shelves or on top of your desk does not remove those visual stimuli that create stress and lessen the amount of open space that your mind "sees."
If you don't use it, don't want it, or don't need it, get rid of it. You can toss it, recycle it, or donate it (one person's trash is another person's treasure), but don't keep it. If you use it, but only rarely, store it in a box in the garage (or if it's your office, in a high or low place) to leave easy-access space for things you use more often. Also, put a date on the box. With rare exceptions, if you haven't opened the box in a year, whatever is inside is probably not something you need.
When you take something out of its designated space to use it, put it back immediately after you're finished with it. Sounds simple, but it actually takes practice and commitment.
Create a pending folder. A pending folder helps you clear off your work space while at the same time provides you with a readily accessible folder to centralize and easily locate pending projects.
Don't let papers pile up. Randon papers strewn everywhere can be Public Enemy #1 when it comes to stressful clutter. We're inundated with mail, flyers, menus, memos, newspapers, and the like. The key is to be conscious of what you bring and what others bring into your spaces. Go through these papers as soon as you can, tossing what you don't need and storing what is necessary in its proper place.
De-clutter your primary work space before you leave it. It's normal to pull things out while you're working in a space, but make a habit of cleaning off your work space before you go. Not only will this give you a sense of closure when you leave, it will also make you feel good when you return to a nice, clean space.
Make it fun! As you're going about and cleaning things out, put on some of your favorite tunes. The more up-beat, the better! Not only will you enjoy the tunes, the time will pass faster and you'll probably work faster than you would without the music.
Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that clutter doesn't only apply to our physical environment. Mental clutter can be just as stressful, if not more stressful than physical clutter. Although there is an entire article (at least) of suggestions I could offer for mental de-cluttering, one of the most basic and useful tips I can offer on mental de-cluttering is to focus on one project at a time without distractions such as cell phones, emails, and other electronic gadgets. You'll be amazed at how much more you'll accomplish when you focus on a project without allowing anything else to get in the way. And while I recognize that's hard to accomplish in today's day and age, it is do-able—and I think you'll agree, well worth the effort once you see how much you get done and how great you feel about it once the task is done.
© 2012 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved
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