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Flowers...On Purpose

Flowers...On Purpose

It’s 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning. I’m settling back under the covers with my cappuccino, having let the dog out and served him his kibble. I flip on my Ipad and immediately my eyes are drawn to a barrage of negative headlines and images. Your inbox, like mine, is probably chock full of all that has happened while we were sleeping, and most of it isn’t encouraging.

Now, this isn’t anything new. We’ve always known that bad news sells, and the Pollyanna stuff, while it makes a nice fluffy filler, doesn’t command attention.

But lately, I’ve been wondering what the impact of a constant, chronic, consistent fusillade of adverse information has on me as a professional whose job description is to shine a light on and celebrate the good deeds of the voluntary sector.

I mean, I could get caught up in being outraged that the American president showed disrespect to the Queen, showing up late for tea, neglecting to bow to her, and then stepping ahead of her to review the troops. What an jerk, I think, and although I’ve been awake for maybe a total of ten minutes my annoyance meter is already racheting upwards.

There was more, a substantial amount of it has to do with certain personalities responding to tweets from other people calling them racist, or a “pedo guy”, or a “low life”.

I know: I can hear you saying, just change your setting/server/news sites. And yes, I can and I do those things. But it’s become so pervasive, not just on news sites, but in social media: sarcasm, ridicule, memes, extremely vicious name-calling, and shaming. Even some of the so-called “inspirational” posts of friends on Facebook feel like an undeserved lecture. I didn’t realize how exhausted I’ve become at having to filter the negative sound bites and visuals out of my life. 

I don’t want to go all-out Pollyanna. I think it’s important to my life and my job to have a realistic sense of the challenges we are facing in our communities and around the globe. No-one will benefit from me burying my head in the sand. In a non-profit business, it’s my responsibility to keep on top of trends in fundraising, in programs, even in the nuts and bolts stuff like changes in the current terminology when writing funding proposals. Of course, it’s imperative that non-profit managers and staff know what’s happening on the ground so we can respond appropriately and help people.

I don’t know about you, but I find that responding to the day to day stuff in a cynical, skeptical, suspicious, and pessimistic mindset is the fastest way to burnout. Naturally, like you, I have my bad days. There are times when I feel like everyone is smarter, richer, savvier, prettier, more likable, more loveable, faster and just plain better than me – at everything! I might not feel all those things all at once, but I’m a normal human being. My life and my personality and character are not Instagram perfect.

Maybe I’m late to this party, as well, but this morning it dawned on me that I need to start filtering out a lot of the onslaught of negativity from my consciousness. Otherwise, it insinuates itself into my unconsciousness, and once in there...hello sleepless “dark nights of the soul”.

I have been reading about people who undertake a morning routine of meditating, journaling, reading inspirational works, and exercising.

I’m thinking of dipping my toes into the morning routine and the de-tox of negative information slowly and conservatively. There’s no way I’m starting the day without that cappuccino. And if you have ever met my dog, you know there’s no way any routine is going to get underway until he’s been outside and been served his kibble.

But it occurred to me that I can skip over the news pieces on my server’s home page. And I can choose not to open up Facebook or any other social media until later on in the day. While I was sipping on my coffee, my eyes happened to land on a vase of fresh flowers on my dresser. Without the distraction of the news sites and social media, I had time to appreciate the quiet solitude and the beauty of an ordinary morning. I think I could integrate morning meditation into my routine (right after the aforementioned dog business and cappuccino), as a start.

Gretchen Rubin, an author writing about happiness, suggests incorporating a “closer” after each stage of the day to provide a transition in our day that provides a sense of order. I see my morning routine as the “opener” that can propel me toward a productive, but also grounded and peaceful, day.

I’m going to give it a try for the rest of the summer to see what impact this might have on my nine to five routine. Out with the negative barrage of information, opinions, and personalities and welcome in to things of beauty, inspiration, and kindness. Will the addition of some self-care in the form of mindfulness and a detox of the news, social media, and other negative influences and sources make me more productive? Will it influence my mindset, and in what ways? I’m curious to see if a) I can make this a habit, and b) what impact it will have on me throughout the rest of the day.

I’ve been thinking of that beautiful bouquet of flowers on my dresser all day. And then I found this quote by May Sarton: “If someone asked me what my idea of luxury is, I think my answer would be: flowers in the house all year round.”

If nothing else, I can feel luxurious, and that’s a very positive mindset to start a Monday with.


New blog entries coming soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the Dog Days of Summer Book Club!