Wishing for “a life lived in the land of enough”? Yeah, me too. That’s why I encourage you to watch this very unique and gently inspiring video by Theresa Rose, who gave a talk in December at the TEDxSarasota event. Talking about her theory of joyful movement, struggles with body image, how to get unstuck and “the marriage of joy and peace” that produces grace, she hoola-hoops almost throughout.
I give her talk, this video and her messages (which are many and one at the same time) a hearty — and joyful-esque — “wHoop! wHoop!”
Watch the TEDx clip here:
I’m usually a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of gal — I rarely take lunches out of the (home) office, tend to avoid schmooze fests (no matter how good for business they might be) and am usually too busy earning a living the hard way to take the time to learn how to earn a living the smart way.
Not so smart, I know!
But yesterday, I was fortunate enough to hear international “Get Things Done” guy David Allen speak at New College. It was a four-hour affair, and that’s a pretty big commitment for someone with four press releases going out and a to-do list of 42 items to be crossed off before 7 p.m. But still… the whole “work smarter, not harder/longer/forever” dynamic appealed to me way back in November when I registered, and miraculously, today, no client emergencies (or cat or Mom emergencies) arose before I left the house at 7:45 a.m., and so I was scooted into my free seat by 8:15 a.m., courtesy of the lovely Zonta Club of Sarasota, and the club’s just-as-lovely partners and sponsors who made the whole thing happen.
In the crowd, I saw Susan Burns, editor of Biz(941); Janice Zarro of the Women’s Resource Center; Veronica Brandon Miller of Goodwill Manasota; the Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson, rector at the Church of the Redeemer (one of my longest-term clients in Sarasota); Ann Fowler of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe; and a whole host of other folks in town who work for nonprofits and related organizations. Could it be they all too felt in need of a little (or a lot) fine-tuning in the seemingly never-ending game of Can I Get This Done Not Just By Deadline But By the End of This Century?
So, what did I learn?
I learned that I’m actually doing pretty good on the time/information/project management continuum. What I’m horrible at, it seems, is a) responding promptly to emails that aren’t strictly about work or business; b) allowing myself to be too easily interrupted during the workday by people who think the word “freelancer” means I basically sit around watching Katie, Oz and The Chew all day in between waiting for the opportunity to work for someone for free (oh, and a couple of cats who think I only work at home in order to serve their whim for cat treats and litter box scooping); and c) not following the two-minute rule.
The two-minute rule is basic: If you receive an email, phone call, snail mail, etc., or have an item on your to-do list, any of which could be accomplished in two minutes or less, do it right then and be done with it and move on. I’ve always tended to read an email when it comes in, no matter what I’m doing, and then respond later (I’m sure my friends would say sometimes never). Nu-uh, says Allen. E-peeping is a big no-no when you’re supposed to be working!
First of all, don’t interrupt your own work by checking what that ding-dong email that just arrived has to tell you (unless you’re on fire waiting for that final jpeg to send out with the press release). Then, set aside dedicated time periodically (however often needed for your own business/personal comfort level) for actually reading and dealing with your emails — which requires always, always, doing one of the following: 1. delete whenever you can; 2. respond immediately if the response takes two minutes or less; 3. file it into an email folder with perhaps a note on your to-do list to take specific action at some future point (which may be an hour or a year from now); or in some rare cases, 4. print out the email and put it in your physical inbox!
Um, I don’t even have a physical inbox! Or at least I didn’t until I returned home and carved out a shelf next to my desk that will henceforth be known as “Place de la Naïveté.” Wish me luck with that. But Allen says it’s an essential component of the Get it Done ethos.
Anyway, after clearing a space for an actual inbox, I cleared my calendar of all non-urgent to-dos, and spent the next two hours (yes, unbelievably, it took that long) — clearing out both of my email inboxes. Allen calls it “zeroing out.” And, it’s a shockingly good feeling to see NO EMAILS IN MY INBOX — personal and professional. And, seriously, I’m going to try to keep it that way. I’ve made a list of all the projects and to-dos that resulted from the e-box sweep, and I had a lot of fun deleting stuff I truly didn’t need for any reason. I also now have a massively long list of personal contacts to whom I owe apologies for my delinquent ways!
I SWEAR I’m going to respond to those two folders marked “Personal Emails I Must Respond to Before My Friends Write Me Off Entirely” in a timely fashion. Well, timely is subjective, I know. So I’ve got those folders on my to-do list — something that never occurred to me to do before, and one thing I know about me — when it comes to my to-do list, I “Get it Done” Allen-style, every day, pretty much no matter what.
Let the “art of stress-free productivity” begin!
It sounds like a fictional scenario: Take a handful of prisoners locked away for life in a violent, maximum-security Alabama prison and guide them through a 10-day, 100-hour meditation odyssey. But as the trailer for the film based on the story shows, the tale is very real.
It’s also incredibly gripping, a tough look at our country’s correctional system, which all too often fails to “correct” anything.
Producer/Director/Writer Jenny Phillips writes that she first found out about a group of meditating Alabama prisoners when the prison psychologist invited her to observe their practices. “I packed my tape recorder and flew down,” she writes:
That visit and the stories that I heard while there set my course over the next ten years. Soon after that first trip to Alabama, I became aware of a meditation practice, Vipassana, which is taught in centers around the world and contains the elements that I had always thought were most needed in an effective prison program: the opportunity and techniques for significant introspection in a safe and supported environment. …
After witnessing the powerful convergence of an overcrowded, understaffed, maximum-security prison and an ancient, intensive meditation practice, I realized that this story needed to be documented, and could only be fully told through film. Since its theatrical release in 2008, The Dhamma Brothers has galvanized audiences, won awards, and received positive reviews.
Suffering is universal. The men at Donaldson are learning to become free within even while their bodies are imprisoned. In a larger sense, The Dhamma Brothers suggests the possibility of freedom from that which imprisons us all. The Dhamma Brothers are leading the way.
Phillips tells the prisoners’ story with grace, letting us see how meditation has transformed these men. Her goal was “to create a national conversation and a call to action about the need for effective prison treatment programs.” She has succeeded in spades.
It’s rare to report about a new publication opening up shop, but I’m happy to pass along the news: Former Pelican Press Editor Rachel Brown Hackney has launched a new electronic publication dedicated to all things local. The name? The Sarasota News Leader.
Right now, it looks like your typical blog, but the long-term goal of the outlet is to become an electronic weekly, similar in flavor to the Pelican, but delivered via electronic tablets like iPads and Kindles. The staff will be covering city and county government, the school board and community news, and publishing investigative pieces to boot.
The site dubs itself “the progressive voice of SW Florida,” a voice those involved feel isn’t represented in local media, with the Observer Group’s cuts at the Pelican and the Herald-Tribune‘s buyout of Creative Loafing.
Hackney, who spent years at the Pelican, isn’t alone in her endeavor. Longtime Pelican reporter and former Patch contributor Stan Zimmerman is breaking news regularly at City Hall; his latest scoop is the news that some city officials are not currently bonded, a violation of our charter. The publication’s editorial board called the revelation “yet another scandal” rocking City Hall and “erod[ing] the confidence of citizens.”
The site also features county reporting from former Creative Loafing and Florida Independent Editor Cooper Levey-Baker. He broke the news about potential Department of Justice intervention in Kathy Dent’s plan to consolidate voting precincts around the county. Others contributing to the publication include Staff Writer Robert Ross, Contributing Photographer Norman Schimmel, Contributing Writers David Staats and Fran Palmeri, A&E Writer Elinor Rogosin and General Manager Robert S. Hackney, Rachel’s husband.
The plan for now is for the staff to keep blogging to build credibility and buzz, and then launch the full-fledged e-weekly come August. Can a new publication make a dent in the Observer- and Herald-Tribune-dominated local media universe? I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Earlier this year, I told you about a rare stock market hunch I was acting on, investing in the healthy fast food chain UFood Grill, based in Boston.
Well, not to toot my own horn, but Forbes just included the restaurant in a roundup of ”10 Great Little Restaurant Chains You Haven’t Heard Of — Yet.” Click here for their expert take on why UFood might have a bright future.
In 2011, BIZ 941 Magazine, the business sister magazine to Sarasota Magazine, asked me to edit news items for their daily e-newsletter that is read every day by thousands of Sarasota and Manatee County businesspeople.
The newsletter is chock full of timely — sometimes breaking — news about local businesses, new businesses, unemployment and real estate, government news, businesspeople news — who’s hired, promoted, etc., and information about local companies with publicly-traded stocks, etc.
If you’re interested in submitting a business news story for consideration in the BIZ (941) Daily e-newsletter, send it to: email@example.com.
If you’d like to sign up to receive the BIZ (941) Daily e-newsletter, just click here:
Welcome to my new website — the official website for M.C. Coolidge! This new site is one-stop shopping for all things MC — by that I mean, it’s a place where I can let folks know about my public relations business, my editing services, my writing, availability as a public speaker, website design and content services, and of course … share my “Reality Online” blog.
Wow! It’s hard to believe that just slightly over three years ago — August 2008 — I launched MC’s Reality Online blog. I had no idea whether anyone would visit my blog, much less come back for a second visit, much less care about what I had to say if it wasn’t in black and white on a printed page.
I’m grateful — so very grateful — to report that not only did many of you visit, but you came back again and again to see what I was yakking about it and share your own thoughts in the comments section. Many of you forwarded blog postings or shared my blog url with others … helping me grow the site from roughly 2,000 “unique visitors” in 2008 to over 43,000 (and counting) unique visitors in 2011.Along the way, my readers helped me pick up “Best of the Suncoast” awards from 2007 through 2010, and twice landed me on Sarasota Magazine’s “Best of Sarasota” listing.
I started MC Reality Online because I’d moved on from the Pelican Press, which had sought to limit the scope of what I could write about in terms of national issues like the election, race, etc.
The support and loyalty of so many of my online readers gave me the encouragement to continue to push for a paid, print column and finally, in late 2010 — the Sarasota Herald-Tribune gave me a regular gig: my Sense and the City column, each Thursday in the TICKET section.
I’m still committed to keeping my “reality online” presence — though, obviously, I haven’t been posting as frequently as in days of old. If I had my way, I would write on my blog every day, but unfortunately cat chow must be purchased … so I’ve got to focus on the work that brings in the kibbles. Still, I try to find time in between everything else to sneak back to my computer as regularly as possible and post a “reality” blog worthy of your blogospheric attention. I hope to do that even more going forward.
I can’t thank you enough — everyone who’s clicked through the old MC Reality Online site and who now has taken the time to visit this new site. I invite you to — and hope very much that you will — come back and visit, or keep in touch through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, and RSS.
SENDING A GIANT VIRTUAL HUG and THANKS TO YOU ALL!
Signed, M.C., Einstein, Boomerang, and Coco
Portraits by Mary O
Give the Gift of Art
A sensitive portrait in pastel or oil of someone special is a unique gift for yourself or for another. Its heirloom quality will give lasting value and pleasure for years to come. Great interest and care are taken in portraying the unique characteristics and beauty of each individual to your satisfaction.
Hey, I have to send a major THANKS out to the new editor at Creative Loafing — Cooper Levy-Baker — for providing a link on his paper’s website to my MC Reality blog. The exposure is massively appreciated and my column is the only non-print-associated blog listed in the section of Suncoast Links.
Makes a girl feel kinda special.
For those of you who don’t know Cooper, but who voted for Obama — didja know that he was the mastermind (or at least one of them) behind the wildly successful Obama headquarters/campaign mission here in Sarasota? Well, he was!
You can check out Creative Loafing’s website and see lots more about what to do in and around Sarasota and also read some hot shot writers in the area — I particularly enjoy the food critic column by Brian Ries — read his latest here.