Birds of Summer:
Making a Wish Come True
by Sunny Schlenger
It's ridiculous how much pleasure I can get from small
things. Like hummingbirds, for example. I've always been
fascinated by their odd little proportions, with their
long beaks, tiny whirring wings, and seal-like bodies. I
rarely saw them, however, until we decided to make an
effort to attract more birds to our backyard this
The funny thing about our "decision" is
that we never realized there was one available to us.
For years I'd sit out on the patio, delighting in the
arrival of each different species of bird, and always
hoping to see more. (The summer that my favorites, the
cardinals, nested in our Rose of Sharon was the best
ever.) But it was a passive enjoyment. For some reason
we never thought about being proactive and creating
attractions that would bring in more birds to enjoy.
I'm not sure why, but one day I started obsessing
about birdbaths and hummingbird feeders. We did some
research on-line and interviewed our local flower
nursery and bird store managers for ideas on creating a
(very) small bird sanctuary.
The results, from my point of view, were spectacular.
We built it, and they came, and we've had a lovely
couple of months watching adults and babies of all kinds
take advantage of our backyard amenities. So here's the
question: What took us so long?
It certainly wasn't the time involved or the cost;
those were minimal. I can't even say it was laziness -
once we got the idea, we immediately took off. All I can
figure is that we were stuck inside of a box of our own
making. Somehow we managed to sit out back all summer,
every summer, saying, "Wouldn't it be nice to
observe more birds? Wouldn't it be great to see
hummingbirds up close?" and that would be it.
What does it take to move us in the direction of our
daydreams and fantasies? Often, all we need is the
realization that we can step out of our box. And it's
quite an eye-opening experience when it occurs:
"You mean I could have been having all this fun
starting years ago?"
So how do we begin box-hunting? How do we realize
that we are capable of bringing more of the things we
love into our lives? The first thing to do is to try to
catch yourself when you hear words coming out of your
mouth such as, "I wish", or "Wouldn't it
be nice," Ask yourself, "What steps do I need
to take to make that happen?" And if you hear
yourself giving reason why you "couldn't" do
that, make a list of your obstacles and tackle them one
at a time.
I once had a client who created a beautiful home
office for himself in the finished basement of his
house. He told me that he had problems with
procrastination, especially when it came to
administrative paperwork, such as filing and forms
processing. The truth was that he had procrastination
problems when it came time to do any work that had to be
done in his office. His preference was to work upstairs
where skylights provided much more natural light.
So, if he enjoyed working upstairs, what was he doing
with a downstairs office? I asked him that question, and
his response was one that I've heard many times before:
"Well," he replied, "I figured that I
should have privacy, and the basement was the most
logical place to go." Logical, maybe, but hardly
the right choice for a man who loved windows and light
and natural views! Fortunately we were able to switch
his office locale with an upstairs guest bedroom and the
procrastination problem was solved.
An outside perspective can be helpful when
identifying boxes. It was easy for me to see that my
client's predicament came from his assumption that
offices are supposed to be in "logical"
places. But that assumption kept him trapped in a
basement space that was all wrong for someone whose
creativity flourished much more in the light of day.
The birds of summer are coming to my yard in greater
numbers now because I wanted to see them, and I took
action. Ask yourself what you're waiting or wanting to
experience and go after it. The smallest things can make
the biggest difference in your life.
© Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted from the upcoming Organizing for the
Spirit: Making the Details of Your Life Meaningful and
Sunny Schlenger (Jossey-Bass, April 2004).
Sunny Schlenger has been a
professional organizer for over 25 years, working with
large and small corporations, non-profit agencies, and
individuals to help them manage their time and space
more creatively and effectively. She does personal
coaching as well as group training and special project
facilitation. Sunny is the author of the best-selling How
To Be Organized in Spite of Yourself, a
Book-of-the-Month-Club featured selection. Her next
release will be Organizing for the Spirit, to be
published by Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons in April,
2004. Sunny has degrees from Johns Hopkins University
and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her
clients have ranged from the producers of Live with
Regis and Kelly, to her husband, an air traffic
controller who tells us that the skies are now safer,
thanks to her assistance.
Her website is www.suncoach.com.
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