Tag Archives: slowbloom

52 Photos: A Present Someone Gave You

Queen Mary tea - rainbow sugar

When I saw this week’s prompt, I initially thought I was going to take a picture of a Shona sculpture my sweetie got me for my 30th birthday. It is about 2 feet high and made out of serpentine (I think)? It’s two figures holding each other, and there is a story about how the sculpture was one of the few to survive the Nisqually Quake in 2001. And how it was so heavy my sweetie had to take it home on the bus, because it was too heavy to carry home.

But then EPIC TEA happened.

Let me back up. Last week I sunk down into a pit of sadness. This happens from time-to-time. I understand generally why it happens and have some strategies for responding. In the midst of this, Lis, tweeted about having tea at the Queen Mary Tea House. I responded to her tweet, and the next thing I knew, she was arranging to meet up with me and three other women on Sunday for tea.

Queen Mary tea plate

It turns out that yours truly was the catalyst and force for bringing together this particular group. There was Lauren, who I had inspired to start TeaVoyeur. I met Lauren a couple of years ago at an InfoCamp and we connected right away. She is a kindred spirit and we particularly connect on issues related to work/life balance.

Then there was Jess, who I’d met through the food tweeters a couple of years ago. And she brought along her friend, Kiri.

Queen Mary: ladies who tea

So Jess and Kiri were friends, and Lauren and I were friends, and Lis was the bold soul who organized the event, but the five of us had an incredible time. I mean, I felt completely comfortable in my skin, with these ladies who are smart and bold and strong and sweet and beautiful. We talked about life, creativity, dreams, religion, feminism and photography, just to capture a few of the topics that swirled around. I didn’t cackle my head off, but I was soul-satisfied, in a way I didn’t even realize I’d been parched. There was no awkwardness, just joy and celebration about each person and what she brought to the table.

After tea, we visited the cherry trees that are blooming on the quad at the University of Washington. It was a zoo.

the crowds

But I did capture a few tranquil images:

blooms and moss

sunlight cherry blooms

As I start another revolution around the sun, I want to carry this particular gift and share it as much as I can this year. Thank you, ladies, for what you gave to me.


The Pomodoro Technique

tomato rose

My friend Lauren told me about the Pomodoro Technique a while back. The basic idea is to break your work into smaller chunks, work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and then go back. Wash, rinse, repeat for 4 cycles, then take a longer break.

I thought I would give it a try today to see how it would work for me. I was interested for a couple of reasons:

  • I’m easily distracted
  • I thought it would help me focus
  • I could take those 5-minute breaks and stretch, check the internet, etc. without feeling guilty

So, how did it go? I will first say that I modified the technique as it is explained. I did not attempt to complete a single task in 25 minutes. Rather, I approached a larger project and gave myself 25 minute increments to work on it.

This approach worked very well! The first three pomodori I was able to maintain focus. My breaks were pretty close to 5 minutes. The last two pomodori I found my attention started to wander after 15 minutes and I really had to push aside temptation to say focused.

I had a discussion with a few pals on Twitter the other day about multi-tasking, busy-ness and the pick two of time-quality-price. I think many of us feel frantic as we try to fit more and more into our lives. I can relate to the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland: “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!”

I often feel as though I’m running behind, and the urge to do more! faster! is something I tussle with. Some days I’m better at it than others. Creating this blog and identifying the slow bloom philosophy has been critical in silencing that voice that tells me I should be doing more.

I liked the overall effectiveness of the technique, which helped me maintain my focus. One of the reasons I often stop what I’m working on is because I get stuck. But with this approach, I found I forced myself to work through whatever barrier came up, instead of goofing off and then returning to see if I had come up with a solution (which NEVER works – LOL).

I’m curious if any of you have used the Pomodoro Technique, or something similar, to manage your time and productivity. How does it work for you? What do you like? What works? What doesn’t?


On Failure

fail harder

My friend Claudette posted this piece today: Since when did the word ______ become dirty in yoga?. I wondered what the word was that filled in the blank, so I meandered over to see. Perfection. Oh. That word.

I read with curiosity, interested to see how he was going to unpack what perfection meant in the context of yoga. He does define it, but that wasn’t what struck me so much as this:

I need to deny this small, measly self within me that can’t tolerate perfection, I refuse to be too fragile to admit that I am not strong enough or devoted enough to reach for such an unattainable place. Instead I humbly get on my knees and cry out for the strength to fail, and to fail, and to fail, and to fail, as happily and as endlessly as is necessary to take one step towards the lofty mastery of perfection. Let me champion perfection, protect it, covet it, yearn for it, breathe it, know it, risk for it, love it, respect it, fear it, cherish it, tolerate my need for it, lay it all on the line for it.

And I realized something. I have defined my own failure as my inability to achieve. BUT. This idea of failing and failing and failing again and again and again in pursuit of a higher purpose – that is not failure. That is the story of Sisysphus as told by Camus, the man who found his meaning in repeatedly rolling the rock up the hill, not in attaining the summit. I doubt David Garrigues is an Existentialist, but it’s where I went.

I’ve judged myself by my inability to achieve, when I should have realized that what I lacked wasn’t results, but focus. I had no defining principle, no purpose that pulled me forward. I was merely bobbing along, adrift and responding to whatever I bumped into.

I’ve decided this year to let my writing be the defining center. And because I did that, I leapt at the opportunity to go on a writing retreat for 5 days when it appeared. In the past, I would have let it go, because I hadn’t had enough time to prepare myself. But what needed preparing? Only my mind, which was already ready.

Tell me about your failures. Fail harder. Fail softer. Fail funnier. Just keep failing.


May Sarton

pink flowers

May Sarton has put into a few graceful sentences what I’ve been attempting to express with this project. This is what Slow Bloom is all about.

“It does not astonish or make us angry that it takes a whole year to bring into the house three great white peonies and two pale blue iris. It seems altogether right and appropriate that these glories are earned with long patience and faith … and also that it is altogether right and appropriate that they cannot last. Yet, in our human relations we are outraged when the supreme moments, the moments of flowering, must be waited for … and then cannot last. We reach a summit, and then have to go down again.
Maybe patience is the last thing we learn.”
~May Sarton; Journal of a Solitude

And thank you to Karyn Schwartz, proprietess of Sugarpill on Capitol Hill in Seattle, for bringing this to my attention.