Saturday, April 25, 2015

Focus on You

Hoping you are all getting the chance to look through the FOL Flickr gallery this month to see all the amazing flower photos! It is a veritable feast for the eyes. And, as always, there were so many to choose from to focus on this week. But when this one popped up on my computer screen, I knew it was "the one"!  This beauty is brought to us by Barbara Carroll and if you haven't had a chance to take a stroll through her Flickr Photostream, it is an absolute must!  The bold colors and perfect focus with all that dreamy bokeh in the background was enough to grab my attention but the addition of all those adorable lady bugs made this a real winner.  Thank you so much, Barbara, for sharing your beautiful art with us here at FOL.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Are You Working Too Hard?

by Dotti

[Disclaimer: the photos in this post have nothing to do with the post. I just thought you needed to see more spring photos.]

This may be no surprise to you, but Americans put in far longer work days than workers in most any other country in the world and take fewer vacation days as well. Often times, we don’t even take sick days when we’re sick! It sounds like we’re working harder but not smarter.

So, what to do about it?

A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting article in the Washington Post about this very subject. Sadly, if your job requires certain hours per day, there may not be much you can do about the number of hours you work but there are some things you can do to mitigate the situation. For those who have more control over their schedules, there are strategies you can employ to help yourself work smarter rather than harder. And for those of us who are retired or not in the work force, these same strategies may prove helpful for us, particularly those of us who consider ourselves ‘creatives’.

Here’s a brief synopsis of what the article says.

For starters, I learned that some of the most brilliant and productive people in the world work {or worked} only 4 or 5 hours a day, and that time was spent in intense work on whatever project was at hand. While they may have spent more hours in other endeavors, those tasks were less demanding.

Here comes the interesting part:  they knew that effective rest and leisure activities were essential to their overall productivity. Some examples:
  • Most were physically active, hiking, walking, sailing, or whatever their activity of choice was. In other words, 'rest' didn't mean 'sedentary'.
  • However, many productive people do nap during the day.
  • Each day, Charles Darwin would take long walks on his 'thinking path'.
  • Charles Dickens walked about 10 miles a day.
  • The most accomplished musicians practiced more than other less accomplished musicians but also slept an hour more on average.

I take this to mean that we, you and I, should take our rest time seriously in order to increase our overall productivity and creativity and we should do it most days, not just on weekends or holidays. Further, when I discovered what so many famous geniuses did with their leisure time, I immediately connected it to the Nature Deficit Disorder that both Carol and Kim wrote about recently.

With all the constant digital stimulation, we’ve lost touch with nature, each other and ourselves … our creative selves.

The good news is that we don’t necessarily have to go to the local park or the nearest state park , lake or nature preserve. I have found that taking a walk around my yard {but ignoring the weeds!} or neighborhood with my eyes wide open, camera in hand {or not} can be a mini-thinking path. Fifteen, twenty minutes of this and the cobwebs in my brain begin to clear, I begin to find myself again. When I take a longer walk, it’s even better.

Here are some of the strategies listed in the article that I mentioned:
  • Take rest seriously.
  • Learn to say 'no' to things you don't want to or don't need to do.
  • If you can't change your hours at work, change your non-working hours and choose leisure activities that will pay dividends to your overall well-being.
  • Find a daily rhythm that works for you. If you're more creative in the morning, do your work then. Perhaps another time of day works better for you. Figure it out and use the time for your creative pursuits.
  • Alternate between intense work and rest periods.
  • Have an absorbing hobby. {Hallelujah!}
  • Take a break from the digital world, if only for a few hours each week.

There’s much more in the article if you care to delve into it. But my mission today is to give us all permission to goof off more … but in a more productive and beneficial way.

If you have any tips or techniques that you already practice along these lines, please share them with us in the comments. And have an energizing, stress relieving weekend with lots of beneficial leisure time!

PS – Since we all love taking photos of butterflies, I wanted to be sure you didn’t miss this great article on Digital Photography School this week.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Thank You Note

by Judy

Dear April,
Thank you for finally bringing spring to New York.

Thank you for the forsythia.

Thank you for the tulips.

Thank you for the crocuses.

Thank you for the dogwoods.

Thank you for the rain drops.

Thank you for 'spring green.'

Thank you for the pansies.

April, it seemed like you took a long time to come this year, but for all the beauty you have brought to me, I forgive you.

Love, Judy

Doesn't spring seem extra glorious this year?  Many of us struggled through a very long and difficult winter, and if you were like me, you probably even questioned whether spring was ever going to come at all!  But as always, without fail - slowly but surely, tiny buds, green grasses, colorful blossoms and rejuvenating rains came. They really came! Maybe this tedious winter was just a lesson for all of us. Could this winter have been so long and messy just so we appreciate spring even more?

Won't you show us what April has brought to your neck of the woods? Fill our flickr stream with your spring beauty!

"And Spring arose on the garden fair,
 Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
 And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
 rose from the dreams of its wintry rest."
-Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant

© Focusing On Life