Are You a Dreamer or a Doer?

Surround Yourself...

Photo credit: @danalcraig

I’ve long been a fan of this Edmund Lee quote that talks about surrounding yourself with people who believe in you, people who still dream, people who get things done. If you’re lucky, these qualities are collectively embodied in the same people. In other words, if you have five friends who are dreamers who never make anything happen, and then another five friends who are all about getting things done, but haven’t acted on a dream since they were toddlers, then you aren’t quite as far ahead of the curve as you might like to think. But you have ten friends – so that’s cool.

There’s something about human nature that gravitates toward a dichotomous existence. People are this or that. They can’t be both. We yearn to categorize. We frown at fence sitters. Perhaps this is particularly American. I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy for work, and nothing challenges one’s cultural norms more than traveling and working across cultural boundaries. In Italian meetings, I would often ask questions like, “So…do you guys do this or that?” I was often met with blank stares, questioning glances as if to say, “Why is she trying to pigeonhole me?” Apparently, in Italy, no one puts Baby in a corner.

It was in my nature to try to move the conversation along an invisible decision tree that ended with a definitive choice. They were about to show me another way.

So, there I was with my this-or-that question, and invariably the answer was “Dipende” – it depends. I followed up my first question with, “Well, sure there can be exceptions, but there’s probably a rule too, right?” More blank stares. Italians live in a world of rules and regulations, but they don’t necessarily want to talk about them. And they certainly don’t want to commit to them. They’re eager to leave room for “dipende”.

When it comes to identifying the dreamers and the doers in your life, people who answer “dipende” are precisely what you’re looking for! They have the ability to see both sides of a coin. They aren’t ruled by a single school of thought. They understand the value of expansive thinking, but balance it with the need to get things done. Find them. Embrace them. Incorporate a bit of that Italian mindset in to your daily routine.

Drinking a bit more wine probably won’t hurt either.

Can Happiness Be Found Between the Sheets?

A little over three years ago, I started this blog as a way to familiarize myself with WordPress on behalf of a client. After three posts in the course of a quarter, it was clear that my commitment was low. I learned what I needed to for the client, completed the project on time, and moved on to the next thing. I kept writing. I just didn’t do it in a public forum.

So, we’ll consider this my blog reboot, a reinvention, a 2.0 of sorts.

I’m not the kind of person who can do the same thing day in and day out, so I’ll set the expectation now that, while I certainly intend to post more than three blogs a quarter, a daily reflection just isn’t going to happen. I quite envy people who are consistent, can commit to a routine. I have about a three-day maximum and then I start looking for a variation on the theme.  This can make it difficult to cultivate new habits or eliminate bad ones. I tried a little experiment recently to test my resolve in such matters.

I was listening to Happier, a relatively new podcast with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. They were talking about habits that can improve happiness and mentioned that making the bed daily is one of the simplest and best ways. I can’t say I was immediately convinced, but it sure did seem simple enough. Silly not to try.

And why wasn’t I already making my bed everyday? Well, you have to understand that I was raised in a home where beds were made or heads rolled. Meals were withheld, hugs were rationed, privileges were lost. That might be an exaggeration, but between my mother and my two grandmothers, there was no doubt that good kids made beds, bad kids didn’t. I complied as a child since there was little choice. Even through college and my early twenties, I stayed true to the requirement. And then one day, I seemed to fully-embrace the idea of adulthood. Adulthood doesn’t offer as many gifts and choices as children think, but one thing was abundantly clear: I didn’t have to make my damn bed if I didn’t want to.

In one of my few rebellious acts, I stopped making my bed everyday. Occasionally I would pull up the covers to create the impression of straightness. Other times I would make it, but not arrange the pillows. I often made it right before I got in to bed. Don’t ask. That’s crazy, right? I was fighting against my natural preference for a made bed and my equally natural desire to want to do things my way. Mine, mine, mine. What a completely inconsequential way to assert my independence, not to mention the fact that the rebellion, far too late and far too private, did little to make its mark. It represented a freedom that I didn’t even want.

So, I had absolutely nothing to lose by going back to being a bed maker. I’ve been faithful to the task now for five weeks or so. I wanted to do it for two reasons. The first was that I wanted to show myself I was still capable of change, even in its most mundane form. Making the bed each day served a larger purpose of convincing myself that I could put my mind to doing something consistently and not abandon it the minute it became inconvenient or uninteresting. The second reason actually had to do with the bed. Seeing the bed made each morning was like setting an intention in yoga class. It was my sign that I was ready for the day, that I was diving in to the day with purpose and focus. It acted as a form of renewable energy. No matter what else happens during the day, I know I have that one moment, and I can have that moment the next day too. Is it happiness? I’m not so sure about that, but whatever label it goes by, I like it.

Now that I’ve mastered the bed, who knows what could happen next!