Sunday, August 25, 2019

How to Hit Pause on the Busy Mindset

woman sitting in bed wearing pajamas and holding a coffee cup and saucer

Let's talk about how busy we are. I mean we all just love to talk about it, right? It's the answer now when people ask you how you are.

Once when my son was three he was playing with Legos in his room, I knew this because I could hear the clattery churning of thousands of those little bricks in a giant tub as his little arm disappeared in there looking for the perfect piece, I yelled up the stairs, "Dinner!"

The one-word reply came back, "Busy!"

From a three-year-old wearing nothing but a pair of 101 Dalmations briefs.

Maybe this is you. You get an invite to a party, or a girls weekend getaway, or to a movie in the middle of an afternoon, and you reply, "Busy!"

Which kind of busy are you? 

There are a couple of ways that people manifest this in life. One is the person who feels super important, smug, and slightly superior because they are so busy doing important things that make them successful and they don't know what kind of loser you are that you can actually go around creating free time in your schedule for doing the stuff you actually want to do.

And then there are the people who say it with less smugness and more exhaustion. They'd love to join you. Heck, they'd love to sit in the corner of the bathroom and read the back of the shower cleaner label rather than do the stuff they are doing. These are the people who cannot or will not say no.

To clarify, there's nothing wrong with having a full schedule and lots of stuff on your plate. I know the Type-A Overachievering among you feed on that and gain energy from it. I'm talking about when you reach the tipping point and that is different for every single person.

Where are my introverts? 

Let's just be honest. It's harder for us. As a grade-A first-class introvert I have always known that as a means of survival I had to create breathing space in my schedule. I simply do not function well without time to process things. Invite me to your party and I'll be there! I'll just have to go home and spend the next three days avoiding people to recover from it.

If you are an introvert you get it. We recharge by being alone. And social situations, while we can enjoy them, require recovery time. I can hear the extroverts laughing as they go from party to party avoiding solitude and silence at all cost. And guess what. That's okay. It's all okay. Take care of yourself however you need to.

Do you. 

The key is to get the most done, in the way that is most effective for you, without fostering the belief that being busy makes you a better person, or not lazy, or successful. The goal is to get all the important things done while recognizing the urgent may need to wait, or that other people are giving you their homework. You can politely learn to say no.

Break the cycle

Maybe you are saying, "Oh sure. That sounds great. How do I do that between teaching my teenager how to drive, working full time, and trying to save the world? Because that's what women do, right?

1. Sit quietly. That's it. Just sit there. Girl. If you have little kids at home go in the bathroom and lock the door. Shut the door to your office. Hide in your car. Whatever it takes to get some quiet time. Notice how the earth doesn't spin off its axis because you are sitting down and are doing nothing. Huh. I wonder what else wouldn't fall apart if you stopped doing it?

2.  After you sit there for a few minutes begin to think of things you would like to do. Not things you should do or need to do, but things you would like to do. For yourself. Just because. Not big things that require multiple steps like taking an art class, or starting a book club. But something you can do right now like go outside in your bare feet and walk in the grass or pet the dog, or read a book. You are going to have to start small if you have been enslaved to being busy.

Reimagine it all. 

Think about Japanese design or an art museum. There's a calmness there because every space is not filled. There is negative space where nothing exists. This makes the things you are there to see more noticeable and enjoyable. Imagine going to an art museum that was decorated like the inside of a Victorian English Cottage with patterned wallpaper and heavy carpets and knick-knacks covering every flat surface. Instead of being relaxing and inspiring it would create stress and make it hard to focus.

Imagine your schedule like you are curating the museum. Now everyone is going to have a different level of the number of masterpieces they can tolerate in their museum. You might like one thing per wall while your overachieving friend may want to hang that art from the floor to the ceiling. That's all personal preference. But we aren't going to let other people come in and start stacking their boxes on the floor.

Create the exact level of busyness that energizes and motivates you but still gives you time to feed your soul, get plenty of rest, and stare at the sunset. Or as the saying goes, if it's not a "Heck, yeah!" then say no to whatever it is.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tigerama in the Bahamas

A couple of months ago my husband walked into the kitchen and said: "Do you want to go to the Bahamas?"

Lemme get my bag. 

Turns out our hometown basketball team, the Memphis Tigers would be playing a four-day tournament in Nassau and The Bank of Bartlett and Bartlett Travel were getting together a travel package that included a non-stop charter flight. Everything about this trip was well organized and efficient. I highly recommend that you take one of the upcoming trips if you get the chance!

You had me at non-stop. A direct flight anywhere out of our airport is almost impossible. There was trivia on the plane and my husband knew an answer (I mean of course he did.) and won a prize for knowing the street Penny grew up on.

Now, I'm a casual sports fan. When I'm not distracted by all the other things to look at in an arena I'm trying to find the ball. How does anyone ever see a foul in the backcourt? Aren't you looking at the ball? Also, the backcourt is a thing, right? So when my husband asked if I wanted him to buy me my own two-hundred-dollar ticket I spent about 3 seconds weighing lying in a deck chair on the beach against going to a game. Okay, way less than 3 seconds. 

I did want to go to a game, just not all of them. Because I have enough sense to know you want to see this team play. This year, even if you aren't a sports fan in Memphis there's excitement in the air. That's what happens when you have hometown hero and NBA star, Penny Hardaway as the coach and you've got the number one recruiting class in the nation. AND you got a player that the Kentucky coach/He Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken thought he had. Yes. Even all these years later. If he's unhappy we're already winning. Not that I hold a grudge or anything. 

Like I said, casual. 

My husband was pretty much in basketball heaven on this trip. These were the best seats we are going to have all season.  He got to bend the ear of the local sportswriter, Geoff Calkins. (You can read his posts in the Daily Memphian if you want to know what happened in the actual games.) He got to chat up the coaches and players. He got to hang around with about 300 other Tiger fans and talk basketball and recruiting and strategy at a couple of private events including cocktails with Coach Hardaway and a Tiger White Out Party at the SLS Skybar.  Here we are hanging out with Coach Toppert and his wife, Brittany.

All that and paradise too. 

He was definitely living his best basketball fan life, but you'll notice he still had to represent football in that picture. I have to say I wasn't exactly suffering.

         Go TIGERS!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Found Treasure: J & J Kohn Bentwood Chair

Who's up for a little furniture history lesson? I recently found a treasure. Well, technically I thought it was special all along but had never taken the time to do any research. Remember when we found the crate of milk glass in the attic of our tool shed? How We Stumbled Upon an Attic Time Capsule

Twenty-eight years ago I saw this chair hanging on a nail in my father in law's shed and asked if I could have it. He couldn't get it down fast enough.

It was missing the seat but I found a rush seat bottom at Pottery Barn Outlet and it worked well enough, even though it has never been actually attached in any way. I recently moved the chair into the studio (update on this room coming up soon) and began to wonder more about it. The lines are very interesting.

The other day I turned it over to see if there were any markings. I found this label.

Now I'll confess to not being a furniture or antique aficionado, but hey, that's why God made the internet, right? A quick search led me to Thornton just based on the style of the chair. My chair didn't have a burn marking though. At first, I didn't pay much attention to the paper label but upon further inspection and a bit more research it did yield some clues.

I found this snippet in a forum where someone had asked about a similar chair:

 In 1849 Jacob Kohn and his son, Josef, of Vienna (Wien), Austria, founded a company that made wooden parts for buildings. The company began making furniture in about 1867 and eventually established factories in several cities. The Kohns manufactured bentwood chairs similar to those made by Thonet. The Kohns’ company merged with Mundus in 1914 and the name became Kohn-Mundus, so your chairs were probably made before 1914. Kohn-Mundus merged with Thonet in 1922.

And this from the Smithsonian Libraries about the J & J Catalog:

Chairs available in the Jacob & Josef Kohn of Vienna : catalogue, 1911-1912.

Manufacturers and Importers of “J & J Kohn Bentwood Furniture” of Vienna, Austria was founded in 1849. They had branches all over Europe and America and in Toronto, Canada, with the main office and showroom floors in New York City. They were the major competitor of Gebrüder Thonet (Thonet Brothers) in bentwood furniture production. All of their bentwood furniture was made from Austrian Beechwood that was available in many finishes and colors. They made every kind of furniture imaginable, for both indoors and outdoors: Seating furniture, tables, coat, and hat racks, plant stands, even doll’s furniture! The firm’s earlier designs were in the Art Nouveau style and at the time period of this 1911-1912 catalog, worked in collaboration with Josef Hoffman and the Wiener Werkstatte. This catalog includes 109 pages of furniture designs and 7 pages of photographs of restaurant and hotel dining rooms around the world furnished with J & J Kohn furniture. It has the original price list with specifications for all size and design options.

 Characteristics of Art Nouveau include sinuously curving lines, sometimes in the form of whiplash curves that bend back on themselves.

And just like that, this chair that I always thought was really cool has some historical definition and respect. While it does appear that the original chair would have had a fabric-covered seat, everything about the shape of it says it wants a cane bottom. 

And this is why the project list is never finished.