The tangled web that’s weaved…

My hubby Nelson shared an insight he had over the weekend while he was out shooting photographs on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

His class was focused on sunrises, sunsets, and macro photography of flowers. And I guess while he was shooting, something about the flowers reminded him of a spider web.

This thinking of about spider webs led his wonderful brain to think about the world wide web and how it acts as a sort of spider web.

His line of thinking was profound to me: just as the purpose of spider web is to catch food for the spider, so the world wide web captures us.

And if my clients and friends and myself are any indication, getting stuck in the world wide web is easy, isn’t it?

How many times have you gone online to check something and looked up 45 minutes and 13 tabs later wondering what was going on?

You’re trapped in the web!

This led me to do a little research and I pondered, “Are there any insects that cannot get trapped in a spider web?” Turns out, this led me to an article that describes how spiders avoid getting trapped in their own webs!

And THIS bit of information is important for us!

First, here are three things I learned:

  • Spiders make light contact with the web. They use just the tips of their feet to walk across the web
  • Grooming is important! Spiders will regularly clean any extra bits of web silk or other debris off their legs so they don’t accumulate and cause “stuckage” (yes, I just made up that word).
  • The whole entire web isn’t sticky – the spiral threads ARE but the spokes of the web and the center (where the spider rests) are not!

“So, how is this important to me?” you’re wondering…

I’m so glad you asked! Check it out…

  1. If you make light contact with the internet (the web), you can avoid accidentally getting stuck and sucked into mindless surfing!
  2. Be present to how you feel while you’re surfing the web. If you start to feel yucky because you’ve somehow landed on TMZ or some Joan Rivers crap or (gasp!) you start watching some “Real Housewives” shenanigans, close your browser(s) immediately. Proceed to the bath, use lavender to cleanse your aura and go do some volunteer work for the community. And don’t surf mindlessly again. Ick!
  3. Finally, if the spokes of the web aren’t sticky, this gives me the image that using the internet deliberately – meaning searching for something specific and then walking away – will keep you from getting trapped. Quickly in, focus, easily out.

Am I spinning this analogy too much?

Probably!

But it’s working for me.

When Nelson and I talked about this, he said, “You know the point of the web is for the spider to catch food. The insect – the food – is killed and eaten by the spider. Getting caught up in the internet feels like that sometimes.”

His advice? Instead of mindless web surfing, go outside. Look closely at the trees, the flowers, and the flowing streams. Hell, go find a REAL spider web and be in AWE of what an amazing creation it is. And understand it’s also a warning to tread lightly in this world, lest you become entangled in something you didn’t plan for!

Make Some Room,

Angie

P.S. Last week, I introduced you to some friends of mine who are doing a giveaway. I wrote a little eBook (Simplify Your Day: The Ultimate Guide to Clearing the Clutter, Cutting the Noise, and Cleaning Off Your To-Do List ) and included it as part of this fun! If you’re interested, I hope you’ll check out the whole she-bang of giveaways from my friends Jen & Kyleigh.

Claim Your Next Chapter Giveaway: http://claimyournextchapter.com/

Soothing your “Inner Lizard” (hat tip to Martha Beck)

I was driving in to the city recently and listening to Steering By Starlight a book on tape when the narrator (author Martha Beck) said something so meaningful to me that I had to pull over and write it down.

She was talking about her “Inner Lizard” – also known as our reptile or fear brain. The “Inner Lizard’s” job is to broadcast survival fears. We as primitive man had to deal with the possibility of being eaten by tigers or gored by rhinos. Life was dangerous in a very real way. Now, our Inner Lizard projects survival fears and our brains make stuff up…because there’s little chance of being eaten by tigers or gored by rhinos in everyday life, right?

Anywhoooo….when Martha Beck’s “Inner Lizard” really gets going, often she’ll try to distract herself by doing something, anything, to try and get her mind to stop the worrying loop of fear. Specifically, the author said, “…I was cleaning my office, calming myself by putting disordered things in order…”

I felt like I’d been struck by lightning. Seriously. I had an “ah-ha” moment right there in the car. And a conversation I’d had almost 10 years ago flashed into my brain. A facilitator at a weekend retreat had asked me, “Angie, what if you’re actually a wildly creative person who learned how to be organized in order to cope with life?”

And here’s the God’s honest truth…ready?

Since I was a little girl, I have used the act of organizing things to soothe myself. To bring order to my environment. It’s MY way of self-medicating.

See, I’m a Navy brat. I’ve moved dozens of times since I was six months old. Up until high school, I had very little stability in my outside life, though my family and “stuff” were loving and comfortable.

I’m realizing – and my transition in business is playing this out – that while I’m great at organizing stuff – it isn’t my total thing. It isn’t my genius work. It’s my coping mechanism!

Now, it does serve my clients, because when we can get their office, calendar, and email under control, they FEEL better.

It doesn’t solve the deeper issues, though. It doesn’t answer the soul questions – and that’s what I’m after now. The soul work. The root causes. And as my client said today, “Angie, you go after the heart of the matter right away.”

Gentle reader, are you using “getting organized” as an excuse to self-soothe, too? Do you think about getting organized, or actually start to organize part of your life, as a way to avoid thinking about something else? In order to not think about a big scary project, or how much you detest your busy schedule, or how exhausted you are from the pace you’ve set for yourself?

Sure, being able to see the top of your desk will be awesome for a little while. But when the uncomfortable feelings around work or life creep back, so will the papers…

And yet, there’s still value in getting organized. There’s value in simplifying.

Make Some Room,

Angie

P.S. Can I share my favorite thing that I used to organize when I was a kid? My grandpa made me a five story Barbie house, complete with garage, elevator (with a pull string) and a rooftop patio. I had gobs of furniture and used to make decorations for each floor. Every few weeks, I’d pull everything out of the house, create new decorations, and put the house the back together. I LOVED the finished product, where everything was in place. Disorder to order – even at eight years old!

Your secret life

Last night, I watched a pretty great film called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The lead actor and director is Ben Stiller. I’m normally not a fan of his movies, but this one blew my socks off!

The premise of the movie is about Walter: steady, average, boring Walter who manages the negatives (photography negatives) at the Life Magazine company. He’s been at the job for 16 years and he’s exceptionally good at it (in the most mundane, steady way).

And yet…

There’s a side to Walter that only he knows about. He has a secret superpower – his imagination!

His family knows he “checks out.” His coworkers ask, “Where did you just go?” when he zones out into his imagination. He is teased by coworkers and bosses because of it.

A few events in the movie lead Walter to a message: “Look inside.”

He sees this as his opportunity to bust out of his “average, steady, mundane” life and go searching for the extraordinary.

The movie is a glorious example of what happens when people embrace their secret superpowers and put them into action!

In one scene, someone who only knows Walter through a series of telephone customer service conversations meets Walter in person after his adventures. This guy shares a Cinnabon with Walter at the airport and says, “I pictured you as this little gray piece of paper, but now I see you and it’s like Indiana Jones decided to become the lead singer of The Strokes or something.”

BAM! How’s that for a dramatic change?

So that leads me to wonder, gentle reader, do YOU have a secret superpower you’re not fully using? Where are you living life as a little gray piece of paper rather than as proud, out loud, and with adventure?

The gray piece of paper life looks like this:

  • Working: 9 -5 (or 24/7/365)
  • Last vacation: YEARS ago!
  • Routine: pretty much the same every day
  • Energy level: somewhere around your socks
  • Enthusiasm: see above
  • Learning: stagnant
  • Reading: who has time for that?
  • Coping mechanisms: alcohol, chocolate, food (not necessarily in that order)
  • Laughter: quietly contained or non-existent
  • Hugging trees, singing to flowers: are you freaking kidding me?
  • TV: on, all the time

I have to stop making this list because my vision is going all grey.

I implore you: choose a new color, a new attitude, a new lease on life! Release your secret superpower! Fly your freak flag! Get excited!!!!!

Right now, this very minute, write down the thing you daydream about. The thing you doodle in the margins during meetings. The thing you google just to feel a connection.

Whatever it is, write it down. Yes, right now.

Next, write down the very first thing that comes to mind about how you can be, do, or have that thing.

No censoring. Just write it down.Yes, right now.

Finally – go and do it. I’m serious. Quit being a little grey piece of paper and go live your one glorious, amazing, colorful life! Do the thing you’re meant to do! Today, now, right this minute.

Make Some Room,

Angie

P.S. If you want to share it with me, I’d love to read it!

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