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Scattered Mindfulness Rant about Laundry

I was just thinking this evening about how much I love laundry.  I just love it!  It’s funny, because I hear people complain at great, great, great length about how much they hate laundry.  I used to try to talk to people, to communicate how I feel about laundry, but as it turns out, people who complain generally don’t want a solution to their problem, they just want sympathy.

As usual, Jacob at earlyretirementextreme.com has posted about laundry and said it better than I ever could.  He says:

When my mom was a kid, they had something called school clothes and play clothes. School clothes had to be kept clean and play clothes was something one changed into after school. The washing machine is sometimes said to be the factor of the 20th century that liberated women. I do think though, that the maxim that a task expands to fill the available time holds here too. Thus once laundry got faster we simply started doing more of it.

All that washing wears the clothes out. It is obvious from the accumulating lint that drying wears the clothes down. This is why we line dry. However, clothes fibers also leave with the water. To prevent this, wash less often by changing clothes appropriately. I change clothes 2-3 times a day.

Here’s my schedule (subject to the “sniff test”)

  • Underwear and socks – 1 day.
  • T-shirts – 1-2 days depending on whether I got sweaty.
  • Pants and sweaters – 5-7 days, unless dirty.
  • Wool things – 7-14 days but gets aired daily.

We only do full loads, one cold and one warm. I have about as much clothes as to have run out of clothes once I can do a full load. This means that my wardrobe is intentionally matched to the laundry cycle. There’s really no reason to have more clothes than that.

I think his post is beautiful in many ways.  I love how he has matched his wardrobe to his laundry cycle.  I’ve made great strides in reducing my wardrobe, but I obviously have a long way to go.

I also love the idea that “once laundry got easier to do we simply started doing more of it.”  Laundry is just like life- every time technology makes things a little easier, we take steps to make it not as easy.  The answer isn’t more technology, the answer is stoicism,  equanimity, mindfulness, blah blah blah 🙂

That wasn’t actually the point.  The point I was trying to make is that modern laundry machines just fascinates me.  I have adopted a schedule kind of like Jacob’s above for washing various clothes, PLUS have been much more active in the last year or two with hot yoga and other sweaty activities.

Therefore, when I put laundry in (particularly with hot yoga stuff mixed in) it NEEDS washing.  I feel it, I look at it, and consider how much I wouldn’t want to wear it.  Then, I wash it, dry it, and it’s magically soft and pliable and pleasant and delightful.  I bet if we showed people from 100 years ago what modern laundry machines would do, they would be amazed- more than cars, more than computers, more than anything.

I stopped folding almost all my clothes a couple years ago, so I don’t have any unpleasant hangover of folding worry/guilt.  I enjoy putting it away, because it only takes about a minute and then my drawers are filled with wonderful, clean laundry!

Even if we were to downsize to a much smaller place, I’d be happy to hang dry (want to do that anyway) but I would be loathe to give up the clothes washing machine.

I love it!

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This is part of a meditation I was doing on mindfulness.  It’s all true- but I probably wouldn’t write this much about it normally…  I do love clean laundry though.

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40 Days to Personal Revolution

I’m just over halfway through a session of Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution.  It’s a series of mindfulness exercises, yoga asanas, thought experiments, a fruit fast, and group sessions with the goal of making changes within the practitioner’s life.

One of the requirements is to journal on certain questions, and it took me half of the program to realize “why not just journal here?”  So perhaps I will do that, either as responses to the actual question prompts or something else unrelated.

 

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Satya and Truth-Telling

When one’s thoughts, words and actions are truthful one will have a harmonious feeling and be free from uneasiness and the feeling that something is going to go wrong. Untruths affect the subconscious mind, and besides creating disharmony in this life, this habit will be carried to the next life where one will undergo suffering as a result. One lie can lead to another lie until a habit is formed which can affect many lifetimes.

 

I’ve been reading about satya in my yoga books, which is roughly the concept of truthfulness.  Truthfulness in actions, speech, words, and even more generally making sure that the life you live is that which expresses your personality authentically.

Even though I didn’t have a specific name for it, I’ve felt pulled to the idea of truth my whole life.  When I hear people lie, it offends me on a basic level, regardless of the circumstances.

Let’s say someone calls your office and asks you to speak to a colleague.  You put them on hold and the colleague says “I don’t feel like talking to them, get rid of them for me.”  What do you do?

A.  Send them direct to her voice mail

B. Pick up and say “Sorry, she’s at lunch can I take a message”

C.  Pick up and say “She’s in a meeting, can I take a message?”

D.  Pick up and say “She’s unavailable, can I take a message?”

 

The people I used to work with always would pick B or C, and it drove me crazy.  Why?  Because they are LIES!  They are little, inconsequential, minor, white lies, but they’re still lies.

The right answer to the question above is UNQUESTIONABLY A or D.  A is easiest, since you just ring them through to the VM box, so it’s as though she didn’t choose to pick up.  D is fine as well, since if you look up unavailable in the dictionary it describes your co-worker’s status just fine.

Besides violating a nebulous spiritual principal, lying is Just Plain Bad. When I catch people telling these little white lies, all the time, it makes me question every single fact that comes out of their mouths.  Telling bigger lies complicates things much more.

Why lie and have to wonder what you’ve told people?  Just tell the truth.

But what about when you have to lie?  I’m sure there are exceptions, like if you’re a POW or something, but the average person’s life is free of these kinds of complications.  Do you think you have to lie in a certain situation?  Remember this simple rule:  no you don’t.  Is this a special situation?  You still don’t have to lie.  If you’re 100% sure this is the most special situation ever, then sure, go ahead and lie, but I bet it’s not really one of those situations.

So Satya is one of those simple concepts that has broad, broad implications.  I had another colleague who would say “that guy would rather climb up a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth.”

Don’t be that guy.

Satya.

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Susan Sontag on TV

NEEDING TO HAVE REALITY CONFIRMED AND EXPERIENCE ENHANCED BY PHOTOGRAPHS IS AN AESTHETIC CONSUMERISM TO WHICH EVERYONE IS NOW ADDICTED. INDUSTRIAL SOCIETIES TURN THEIR CITIZENS INTO IMAGE-JUNKIES; IT IS THE MOST IRRESISTIBLE FORM OF MENTAL POLLUTION

-SUSAN SONTAG, ON PHOTOGRAPHY, 1977

 

This is instagram, this is selfies, and this is television.  Especially television.

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Yoga intentions this morning

In class this morning, I had a powerful experience based on a throwaway comment from our teacher.

Like most classes I take, she was peppering us with various points and intentions throughout the session. Parliament/P-Funk would call them “throwaway lines,” like “cheaper than discount family therapy,” or “We can’t afford free speech” or “anybody have change for funk?”

SO her throwaway line was “Your focus right now is not focusing on being done with this asana.”

As Jerry Garcia once said, that comment completely erased my mind! That’s exactly what I do with yoga and life, all the time, every day. That’s exactly the opposite of intentional living. That’s what I’ve got to start doing with everything. That’s autotelism!

I used to hate not having clocks in the yoga studio, but I realized today that I love it. It’s a chance to enter the studio, immerse in the experience, and not be concerned with when it will end. I can trust my teacher to know the time.

The question is, can I do this in the rest of my life? The answer is not I’ll see, or I’ll try, the answer is yes.

Here we go.

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Table Stakes

There’s a wrong metaphor I’m hearing all the time now, where people say “Two million dollars is table stakes for entering that market” or “A PhD is table stakes for applying for that job” and it doesn’t make any sense.

Fun poker fact: “table stakes” is a rule meaning that in the course of a hand, you can only wager as much as was on the table before you when cards were dealt for that hand. The rule is important because otherwise, you could cautiously go all in on a weaker hand with a little money that’s on the table but pull extra money out of your pocket for when you have a great hand and want to make a giant pot. So that metaphor doesn’t make any sense!

An ante is a bet everyone has to make to start a hand for stud and draw type games, and many games have a “minimum buyin” to sit down at the table. Either one of those are fine metaphors . “Two million dollars is the ante for entering that market” sounds better than “A PhD is minimum buy-in for applying for that job” though, so the ante metaphor gets my vote going forward.

/rant

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Managing the Small Business Tilt

The great thing about a startup environment is nobody cares how much money you make. You’ll never have your income compared against industry standards and adjusted to make sure you make enough money but not too much. No compensation consultants around here!

The horrible thing about a startup environment is that nobody cares how much money you make. If revenues<expenses, no international court of fairness will give you more money. Any additional money comes with lots of strings , but due to the positive feedback loop nature of startups, people only line up to give you money when you don’t really need it. Most startups don’t hover at breakeven very long. They either tilt toward making way too much money or way not enough money.

Managing that tilt is everything!

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The beginnings of my yogic transformation

I’ve thought about doing yoga for a long time, but never quite got around to it.  It’s always been on the list because of my mom and some good friends’ glowing endorsements, but I guess I was a little intimidated and didn’t know how to start.  I always thought I needed to get in better shape first, or become more flexible, or otherwise prepare.  That’s definitely true that all those things need development for me, particularly the flexibility part, but it’s no impediment to starting yoga.

In fact, the only way to prepare for yoga is by doing it!  With other sports, like football for example, things like weightlifting, track workouts, and drills can help prepare you for actual games.  Yoga is different, though, because there is no concept of an offseason.  If I were going to prepare for a six week yoga retreat six months hence, I wouldn’t do gym workouts or sprints or swim or anything else; I would just do yoga.  There is no better way to get better at yoga than doing it.  At first I didn’t like the term “practicing” for doing yoga, but I like the term better and better now as I understand the nature of it better.

I took a few classes here and there over the last few years, but about a month ago, I took a class with the right spirit and intentions, and it’s become the most delightful and addicting thing!  After attending class every possible day (4-5 days a week) for about a month, I’d say it’s just like the old adage about planting trees:  The best time to start yoga was 10 years ago.  The second best time to start yoga is now.

It’s definitely for everyone.  In my classes, there are children, senior citizens, and extremely overweight people (300 lbs.+) mixed in with the lithe 25 year olds who can nail every single pose.

It’s definitely for guys, too.  Granted, my classes are usually 80-100% women, but there are almost always other gentlemen in the classes with me.  Some of my best friends still scoff when I tell them about it, but I think I’ll change them eventually before their opinions change me.

The best way I can put it is that EVERYONE practices yoga, without realizing it, but there are only two poses most people do:  the supported sit (including the office chair sit, the couchsit and the carsit) and the hunched stand.  It’s impossible to understand how limiting this is until you actually conform your body to some of the zillion other poses and arrangements your body is capable of achieving.  It’s like the best massage in the world, that your mind gives to your muscles directly.

When I take other kinds of exercise classes, I tend to sort of dread them until they start.  Then about 40% of the way through the class, I start wishing it’s over.  I’m always glad I went when I’m done, but the hesitation I feel makes it less likely I’ll actually go.

With these yoga classes, I look forward to them before I go.  I’m present when I’m in them.  When they’re over, I feel incredible, but am sad that they’re done.  If my boss gave me three hours off work right now, I’d go find a yoga class in town and go to it.  I know it’s possible I’m still in a honeymoon phase, but I can’t imagine ever feeling differently than I do right now.  I’m having such extreme progress in flexibility and strength and even muscle development, and while that will all show diminishing returns eventually, it will be a good problem to have.

I have a friend who is a very sucessful investor and real estate developer in NYC, but he works for himself and has no staff and his income is very lumpy.  He once told me that when he looks at his bank account to determine how many months or years of living expenses at his current level of consumption are available, he considers his current consumption, but remembers that the only needs he really has are shelter, food, and his Ashtanga yoga studio membership – all else is frivolous.  I didn’t understand that before, but I understand it now.

 

 

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Comings and Goings

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Wow, I’ve been busy!  A few things have been going on, which have kept me from being in touch:

  • I went to China for a week.  All I can say is wow!  There is so much going on in the world, it’s impossible to understand everything.  All you can do is try to process glimpses of it, which I am still trying to do.
  • I got devastatingly sick after China!  I got some crazy vaccines off the recommended list, including Typhoid, Hep A and the adult Polio booster, but I didn’t get a flu shot.  I had the worst case of Influenza A (based on my friend who had the same symptoms and actually got tested and Tamiflued).  I was laid up for a week, and all tinfoil hats and woo aside, I will be getting a flu shot from here on out.  It was terrible.  Everyone tells me the flu shots were no good this year, but all I know is the people I spent my time with who DID get flu shots were fine, and I almost died.
  • Because of the China trip and one other class, I had two MASSIVE papers to write.  I can handle studying for tests and writing, but when in every waking moment I have to be writing for school or feel guilty about not writing for school, it’s hard to write creatively for myself (and you).

But I’m still here, and better than ever (I think).  I have some big news coming soon I’m looking forward to sharing, but it’s not quite ripe yet.

Thanks for reading!

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Mansplaining and Consumsplaining

I learned about the term “mansplaining” a few years ago, which best as I can tell means “men explaining things to women in an unsolicited or aggressive or insensitive or condescending or demeaning or ignominious way causing  annoyance or discomfort to the target.

I think the phrase is a little overused.  I spent some time reflecting, and I can think of several experiences in my life that could easily have been perceived as cases of mansplaining on my part.

I was oblivious for two reasons.  First, I think I didn’t understand the difference between men and women (especially when it comes to business opportunities and things like gambling, there are fundamental differences in motivation and desire).  Second, I think even if I did sense the fundamental differences, I was naive enough to think that I was at a “post-gender” stage.  I also used to think that I am “post-racial,” but I learned that whether I am or not, the world is not ready for that.  No matter what Howard Schultz says, I simply refuse to talk about race publicly in any detail, and direct all my unsolicited advice at men and my kids.

So now I’m frequently on the receiving end of “mansplainingesque” feedback, but it specifically relates to financial independence.  Here’s an example:

Hey you know that’s great you’re into financial independence must be nice since you make a lot of money and all, but that doesn’t work for everyone.  It is expensive living in big cities and you don’t understand how expensive stuff is.  My Aunt and Uncle got wiped out in 2008 so they’re going to have to work forever, you don’t understand what it’s like for people like that.  What you’re doing is great I’mabigfan but just remember that kind of stuff isn’t for everyone.

What’s annoying about this, and also annoying about the idea of mansplaining in general probably, is the feeling that someone just plain thinks you’re stupid!  It’s like these people are saying to me, “hey, I know you think you’re an expert on this topic but let me just rattle off a few banal generalities that totally invalidate everything you’ve been working on for all these years.  Glad I could spend 30 seconds doing this, you’re welcome.

Bottom line is this:  ability to achieve financial independence, at an age younger than normal retirement age, is solely dependent upon will.  If you want it, you can do it, and it is not asceticism, it is hedonism.  IF you have the right attitude.

I’ll be happy to mansplain this to you, in more detail, any old time!

 

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