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Dear Friends,

It's July, which means 2020 is half over! Hooray! (It's funny how that seems meaningful, as if somehow things will be different at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2021.) I had been feeling pretty awful — tired and unmotivated — but this past week I feel much better. I don't know if it's because I started exercising more diligently, or because I slept for hours last weekend, or because I stopped fretting about things I can't control. Anyway, it's nice to feel normal-ish again. I hope that you are also able to find ways to feel good these days.
A blue jay in flight

Now versus the Future

Some people think a lot about the past. They reminisce and fret about things that happened before. Some people think a lot about the future. They plan and fret about things yet to happen.

I'm the second kind; I think about the future almost compulsively. When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts are about the day to come. My weeks and days start with a few minutes of planning. In a lull in conversation, my first impulse is to ask about the future: "You guys planning a vacation?" "Any new workshops coming up?" "What's going on this weekend?" (Pandemic has done nothing for the quality of my conversations.)

I love to plan. I love to set a goal, break it down into parts, chip away at it day by day, and eventually make it happen. In that way, I've renovated my house, created a native plant garden, gone on trips, thrown countless parties, created a copyediting career, produced books, and now launched a coaching business. Living in the future is how I get things done.

But I also know that it's important to live in the present. I know that if I allow myself to fully experience each moment as it happens, my life will be both calmer and richer. After all, it doesn't make sense for past-Amy to have worked so hard to make a good life for present-Amy, only for present-Amy to disregard that life and obsess about the life of future-Amy.

So I decided to set my theme for the month of July to be "Now", and to try to live in the moment and respond to the current state of things, instead of constantly trying to psychically wrestle with the future.

But I was a bit worried, I'll admit. Living in the now seems great, of course, until you want to make things happen! If I lived every moment in the now there would be no dinner on the table, the basement would be damp, I'd probably have skin cancer, I would definitely run out of stuff to read, there would be no chocolate in the house... Catastrophes, left and right!

The answer, I think, is to put thinking about the future in its place; make it its own specific activity — planning — instead of allowing it to become a kind of default mental state.

For that to work, you've got to be confident that your planning will happen often enough and be thorough enough that you can anticipate problems, accommodate changes, address crises, and accomplish goals. For me, that means I take stock on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, as well as taking a longer view at regular inflection points around the calendar: January, June, September.

(I know, that's a lot of check-ins. Most people probably don't need a monthly, a weekly, and a daily. I know my own brain — do what works for you!)

Each rhythm has its own perspective: in the daily check-in I ask, what can I do today to accomplish my goals for the week (and what routine maintenance do I need to do). In the weekly and monthly check-ins I ask, what projects do I need to work on in order to advance my yearly goals? And the semi-annual checkins take a higher perspective: what do I want to change to become the kind of person I want to be in two or three or five years?

David Allen uses an altitude metaphor for the different levels: runway, 10,000 ft, 20,000 ft, and so on. I'm a mere civilian, though, and as far as I'm concerned when you're in a plane you're either taking off, flying or landing, so my preferred metaphor is avian. If I take the time a couple of times a year to soar above everything like an eagle, every month to fly from treetop to treetop like a blue jay, and every week to perch on a telephone wire like a sparrow, then every day I can poke around in the brush like a grouse, secure in the knowledge that whatever I'm paying attention to in the moment is in service of a better future.

What's NewStriding purposefully into a better future I hope

This Tuesday I attended the first meeting of a team coach training program called Living Systems. I've been looking forward to adding team coaching to my repertoire, and I'm terrifically excited to be back in the classroom (even if it's just on Zoom).

I'm back on Twitter (although I'm not sure if I like it any more than I did when I left). You can find me there, and while I'm at it I'm also on LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Instagram. I'm all over the damn place.

Fun and Interesting

  • Lack of public-bathroom access profoundly affects transgender people, caregivers, Black people, people with Crohn’s, anyone who uses a mobility device, poor people, and women—a large majority of Canadians, in fact. I am a fan of public washrooms (no medical reason, I just love coffee and beer, and my bladder does not) and I boast an extensive mental map of the public washrooms of Toronto. But as Lezlie Lowe writes in The Walrus, the pandemic has underscored how insufficient public bathrooms are in Canada. If you're in Europe, read this and be thankful. Why Are Canada’s Public Bathrooms So Inadequate? []
  • Shoppers irrationally hate to pay for certain services—even those that they value immensely, such as speedy and reliable delivery. Free delivery is a scam, and Amazon is ruining everything. Stop Believing in Free Shipping []
  • I guess we're back in the toilet again — here's a New Scientist talk by Megan Rossi on the connection between diet and mood. Gut health: The secret to happiness? []
Credit where credit is due: I use Pocket to keep track of interesting things I've come across, so I can read them later (saves me from getting dragged down rabbit holes) and flag the ones I want to share. Also, while I was writing this I found a cute list of highest flying birds (but I kept "eagle" as my highest level bird because eagles are awesome).

Thank you for reading this far!

If you like what you read, hit reply and let me know, or forward it and let someone else know. If you have questions or comments, hit reply and let me know. If you have seen something interesting out there, hit reply and let me know. Are you seeing a trend here? If so... hit reply and let me know! I look forward to hearing from you. ❤️

Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching
Copyright © 2020 Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching, All rights reserved.

I live and work on land which for thousands of years has been part of the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat. Today, this meeting place is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island, and I am glad to be able to live and work here.

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