Travel

Wabi-Sabi-The Japanese concept of finding perfection in imperfection

The widely referenced website, Wikipedia, has a rather accurate description of Wabi-Sabi:

Wabi-sabi (?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".[1] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?), the other two being suffering ( ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature ( ?).
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

I recently decided to purchase an "as-is" Gilliodoro planner from Gillio
Photographed from the point of view as a "flawed" item, this Red + Gold (dual tone) Amica A5 planner, was positioned on display with the intent of disclosing, with full transparency, the obvious issues, the most prevalent being a discolored spine from having been placed in a sunny window display. This decidedly red planner had a blotchy, orange spine.
I kept looking.
The description stated it was missing its original box and as an added "flaw," it was equipped with a non-elasticated leather pen loop.
I kept looking.
And heard a little whisper say, "Look at the perfectness of this imperfect item." Thousands of miles away and I took a chance to order this unwanted item for a more than reasonable price. It finally arrived last week.
Here are my thoughts as we go through some photos I took early on a cloudy, Southern California morning. The cloud coverage added a hint of blue to the red. In fact, the red is brick/crimson red with soft, soothing undertones bringing an overall harmony to the entire planner.
Here is the open planner. As you will notice, the spinal discoloration is hardly visible in this light.





Let's take a closer look at the leather on the cover. You will notice a rather sumptuously textured and grained epoca leather.

There is a simple, refined, old world elegance to this planner. It's almost pensive.

As I opened the planner, I noticed the workmanship on the clasp, including the even and consistent stitching, the unbridled graininess of the gold leather on the inside and the little pocket of collapsible leather alongside the popper to add aesthetic design, show mastery of leather-work and clearly define this important mechanism of the planner-the gateway.
We are now presented with a rich visual marriage of red and gold autumnal colors to underplay the subtle and nuanced aesthetics of proper craftsmanship and design.

Notice the careful stitching alongside the pockets and card slots.
The interior is a visceral and tactile experience, drawing the senses to experience all the tamed portions of leather. This is the embodiment of refinement.

As we move across the planner from left to right, let us observe the matte Krause rings. My fingers took a loving stroll alongside these rings when I came across them. In a world where often gaudy color palates combat sophisticated and simple tastes, I am BESIDE MYSELF to find understated, high-quality, REPLACEABLE rings in a luxury planner. This small gesture speaks volumes to the overall value added when looking for an every day planner to inspire, quiet and record daily thoughts, plans and calls to action.

The back inside cover has two, full length pockets and 3 card slots with the Italians reminding us once again, they are, indeed, the gods of quality design and execution.

 As I wrap up the planner tour, I will attempt to highlight the blotchy orange spine again. To try and convince you there is actually something wrong with this planner. The lighting in my office and the cloud coverage blend the orange but it is readily visible to the naked eye.
It doesn't bother me. I thought I was going to rush out and get the color matched evenly, to try and bring it to a uniform standard of quality Gillio is notorious for upholding.







I am happy with this perfectly imperfect planner. It is a planner that I have been waiting for without even knowing it. I accept this planner with its perfect imperfections and would like to impart upon you the value of luxury ownership through something one of my heroes is quoted as saying:

"Luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity."-Coco Chanel

If we begin to look at our lives (our planners are a part of our lives) as an experiment of building consistent quality, then we ought to certainly not be afraid of finding imperfection. The Gilliodoro planner I shared with you is imperfect and can also be brilliant example of luxury. The imperfections do not take away from its essence of old world elegance. Similarly, your imperfections do not alter your essence. 

I consistently refine and simplify my life. I encourage all my clients to do the same-to remove what is unnecessary and become mindful of all our abilities and blessings. This A5 Amica, with no back pocket, no-elasticated leather pen loop and blotchy orange spine has now become the most valuable and luxurious planner I own and although I own more expensive planners, there are none more perfect than this imperfect model. 

I help my clients create strategic life plans, focusing on creating and designing a streamlined life. Yearly goals are broken down into monthly, weekly and daily routines that are built around small but permanent habit changes. I am thrilled, beyond measure, to place my routines, goals and permanent habits into this planner and carry with me the imperfectly perfect legacy I am working on in 2014 and will happily carry over in 2015. Automation Nirvana resides here. 

Stay tuned for my upcoming book "The Streamlined Life: Quick + Easy Tips Bringing Order to Your Whole Life, by Planning, Tracking and Designing Small + Permanent Habit Changes



Color-Coding, Categories and Other Words That Begin With "C" But Are Pronounced With a Hard "C" Phoneme.


Modularlization during a planning session happens in various categories and whilst planning we may find ourselves, as I often have, in color-coding turmoil. Come out, come out wherever you are, all you colour-coders. This post is for you.

As avid colour-coders we know how to segregate the portions of our lives through color and by using the varieties available, we  literally, showcase the areas of our lives we've taken the time to plan. There is your life, in all the weekly or monthly glory, defined in high-definition colour by the use of analogue products. Gaze at the wonder of what you have created.
A coding system error occurs when we want to define the various portions of our lives and begin to dissect EVERYTHING we do as a category. Categories are VITALLY important in parsing out specific detail and clumping like bits together. Categories allow us to focus on what needs to get done within the home, or while away from home. Categories give us the limitations of mental space and free spirits though we are, we still need clear delineations on where to stop.
But how many categories do we create? Do we have one for our spouse? children? Errands? Separate by stores? Here's what I've come up with and I hope it helps you see through the mental clutter of basic human categories (assuming you are living in a developed country). I am also sharing the colors I've assigned each category.

1. Body (Lime Green)
2. Mind (Marigold Orange)
3. Soul (Eggplant Purple)
4. Food (Forest Green)
5. Work (Fuchsia)
6. Style (Hot Pink)
7. Home (Aqua Green)

8. Plan (Atlas Grey)
9.Travel (Sky Blue)

10. Write (Vermillion)

I struggled with adding the concepts of "Think" and "Beauty" but don't those technically fit under "Mind" and "Body" respectively? Similarly, if we choose to create a category for "spouse" are we not then creating and following an agenda within an agenda? in other words, if your husband has a doctor's appointment that YOU need to keep track of, why not simply identify it as "Body", use the designated color for "Body" and simply define the appointment as one for the husband. These overarching categories are vague enough to capture major life occurrences for me.

I've included "Style" to encourage my journey in finding and maintaining my own style for clothing and life-style as well. Also, you will find "Travel" may not suit your needs. I do travel often for work and identify work travel under the "Work" category, which is why I created the "Travel" slot for everything involving holiday travel and vacations or getaways.

I also realise that the "Write" might seemingly need to fit under "Work" as I am a writer and spend time writing to do work. However, I like to create time to write about subjects that are outside the scope of work, like children's stories. These moments are planned and designated to encourage the honing of writing skill. Any decent writer will (or should) write consistently to maintain a level of fluency and strive to ritualize the artful practice.

I'm very keen on this set of words to help me define the parameters of my life because when all is said and done, I can flip open my planner and visually see which colors are not appearing during the course of the week. I know, instantly, THESE are the categories which require more attention. And we all know, in life, energy flows where attention goes. I have weeks where I notice only a smattering of Aqua Green. Those are usually weeks where I am completely absorbed in work, either facilitating a workshop or engrossed in coaching clients. This system helps keep me honest about where I am spending my time, very similar to Benjamin Franklin's diary.

Deliberate living happens when we are deliberate about our planning. We must be able to face our own lacking in certain areas just as we are willing to celebrate areas that we champion with ease. The categories we use simply lay down waypoints in our journey of harmonizing our lives to purposefully live with grace and ease in as many categories as we care to curate.

What other major categories do you modularize your life besides these? I want to hear from you. For more information about the strategic life planning and career coaching, please sign up for my newsletter here: Career + Life Planning Success
If you sign up, you will have access to a free downloadable publication I wrote called "Top 7 Steps To Career Success." 

Deliberate Living- Designing Your Own Life (and why it matters)




Deliberately Showing Up.

Life is for the living and in life, if you are not living, you are dying. I am absolutely dedicated to creating a life worth living for myself. A life which allows me the luxury of time and space to do with as I please and to work when I want to, on projects I care about, spending my time with people whose company I enjoy. A life where money flows with ease and relationships are treasures. I am creating a life where I design my purpose with God's blessing, to honor everyone that came before me and didn't make it as far and to remind those that come after me, to take the slow road, to check the map, laminate it, hole punch it and place it in their planner, because maps are useful creatures and SatNavs often lose connection with satellites.


I am writing these notes as a guide to those who seek the same things in life. This blog is dedicated to all those who understand this writer's simple desire to travel the world at a moment's notice and have a life so streamlined and effectual, that she could, with a phone call from the first class airplane seat, notify the current house-sitters that "the packet in the third drawer on the left side in the office desk will be picked up by the accountant on Thursday" and could then easily pull her eye mask down, plug in some ambient music and relax, knowing that every thing has been taken care of to the fullest degree of self actualization. This blog is about deliberately being the best you and tracking those experiences by:
  1. Identifying the various important portions of your life, 
  2. Turning them into palatable projects (modules)
  3. And understanding how to manage those modules through small but permanent lifestyle changes, resulting in a self-actualized and deliberately designed life. 


So Why Does Designing A Deliberate Life Matter?

Without an objective view into our own lives, we are bound to live it based on the needs and pulls of others, rarely to our own benefit. Even at our best, during a given day, the internal monologue machine leans on being highly critical instead of highly inspirational. Inspiration is sought out on occasion, filling a well that often satiates others but leaves us very little for our own inspirational thirst. All the retreats and holidays in the world can't make up for an unfulfilled life and when it comes to living, fulfillment is the first need that is set aside for more practical gains, like salary or vacation time. 


Which reminds me of a story: A business executive find himself working 50-70 hours a week. He gives up time with his family, time for himself and his well-being to ensure the company moves forward with its mission. In fact, the company offers him 3 weeks paid vacation at the end of his 10th year instead of the regular 2 weeks. Overjoyed, he takes his family to an all expenses paid, island getaway. On his last morning there, the business executive decides to talk a walk out onto the rocky cliffs, overlooking the pristine water. He notices a local selling fruit juice, made from the fruits collected under the very tree that was providing him shade, the local had a makeshift sign that read: Fifty cents a cup.

The business executive chuckled to himself, walked over to the native and said "Why don't you charge more money for your juice? You could make more money per cup."
The native responded "Why do I need more money?"
The business executive retorted "So you can pay someone to stand here and sell fruit juice while you take your family on vacation. It has taken me 10 years to get to a point where I have sold enough product so I can have the money I need to bring my family here. Don't you want that for yourself?"
The native blinked once and said "I have that already. We just wake up here in the morning."


To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness. 

-Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now


The Way We Live


We are perpetually thrust into conforming around the world's schedule, those of us caught living in the Occident. We imbue our lives with to-do lists, pilates schedules, work routines, hydrating events (yes, I heard it referred to as an "event") and various time mismanagement set-ups that focus on simplifying overcomplicated lives by overspending money we overwork to produce in order to pay the bills that allow us to complicate our lives ad nauseum.


While the process of simplification, a noble process at that, is seemingly an aggregate of our conscious minds' ongoing to-do list of things to...do before we die, we discover that no one ever writes: "Pilates 3:00-4:00, hopefully I'm still alive then." We assume, in linear fashion, time will speed up or slow down proportionally based on the scale of exciting to boring events we've either planned to go through willingly or exposed ourselves to, in order to get one step closer to death. Really.

So if this is a zero sum game, this life, why bother planning at all? Is it, hurry up and get x-much done before we buy the farm? Or is it, hurry up and get the boring bits done so we can sit and relax before we buy the farm? Or is it, hurry up and get it done because we are buying the farm and want the kids to have the keys before we go? Either way, the farm is getting bought! Assuming we are channeling our inner Aristotle and we want to examine our lives to make them worth living, are we then in fact, examining or lives through planning or merely beating the battle rhythm of what life presents us by writing down the unfortunate events that will eventually lead to our demise?

What if we decided to extrapolate the concept of planning into modular blocks of life, which, upon desired arrangement, offer a blueprint of how to live vis a vis how we are living? What if we made our life's purpose creating a systematic approach to arranging the chunks of limited life into a rearrangeable order such that we left behind legacies of how to best live life a-la ( insert your last name here)?

So, how is this blueprint to be captured? Do we use paper systems that can get lost, stolen or damaged to capture our information or rely on digital systems that can be lost, stolen or damaged? Part two of this series will discuss Analogue vs Digital formats. For now, let's err on the side of using analogue systems. That is, systems that do not have an on/off switch-Paper Planners. Any brand will do! Some brands to consider are Filofax Personal Organizers, Day Timer, Franklin Covey, Gillio, Midori Traveler's Notebooks and Moleskine Notebooks. The whole point is to find a system that can be streamlines, duplicated and integrated.

My suggestion is to set up a planner and deliberately begin designing your life.

Where Do I Start? Start Where You Are.

There certainly must be areas of your life that are working, areas where things are flowing as you would want them to be. These are the modules of your life that may need tweaking every so often but you've figured them out. Perhaps you just want to track these areas. Creating an entire planner for finances, when everything is flowing right, might be a bit much. However, tracking finances as a tab within a planner would be a logical conclusion.

Why not begin with an area of your life where you have a complaint? An area that has a pattern of showing up in ways that are not pleasing to you. Pick that one. That's a good one. Yes, the one you just thought of and said to yourself "Why would I ever want to bring THAT skeleton out of its closet?" That's the very one we are talking about. Let's shine some light on the bugger. It's not like anyone else is going to see him.

In case you haven't picked up on life's many secrets yet, here's Life Lesson No. 1: Life will continue to teach you the same lesson until you get it. So, if you are experiencing a repetition of problems or patterns in your life you would like to stop, consider this to be a "module" for you to work on. Create a tab, label it with whatever you want to call it, e.g., "Healthy Eating" and start focusing your attention on everything that rings true to your senses. If it "feels" good to think about a subject, continue to focus upon it. If it doesn't, don't.




Where are all your important phone numbers listed in case your phone is ever stolen?