Fight or flow: Update #1

teeth!Five-ish weeks ago I rapped about the whole fight or flow thing.

About how I’m saying eff fighting and experimenting with flow for awhile.

Basically my plan is to put my time and energy into things that naturally have flow.

And to give up the idea that if something is worth having, it’s worth fighting for.

Because fighting?

Exhausting. Hard. Messy.

And the idea of tossing out this worth-fighting-for thing struck a chord with a bunch of you taters. And I said we’d talk more about this.

So here I am.

With an update. And an invitation.

Originally I thought I’d do these updates once a week. For like six months.

You know, be all regular and structured-like.

But that didn’t feel very flow-ey.

So I’m going to do these updates when I feel like I actually have an update-worthy update. And I’ll keep doing them as long it feels helpful or interesting to both of us.


So let’s do this thing.


Tooth! Ouch!
Right after I decided to undertake this experiment I broke my tooth. And had to have oral surgery.


Because, you know, trips to the dentists are all about flow.

(And, really, even the oral surgery part was pretty flow-ey. Except when we got to the blindfold. Which is another story for another time.)


It went a little something like this.

tooth + hard food thing = tooth-go-boom

And a boom-ey tooth meant tons of ouch.

Like walking-around-squeezing-my-head-so-the-ouch-would-be-less-ouch-ey kind of thing.

Now I could pretend that I was all Zen about it.

Welcoming the opportunity to be present with my body. Grateful for a chance to practice not resisting the pain. Meeting myself where I was.

Except that would be total bullshit.

I was grumpy. I dropped a lot of f-bombs. And the Vicodin the oral surgeon prescribed left me laying flat on the couch in a puddle of drool.

So, yeah.

Lots of fight-ey stuff happened with this tooth thing.

But when the pain got dear-gawd-I’m-about-to-have-a-meltdown intense, I drummed. A lot. Or I hung out with these two tuning forks.

And the sound-ey stuff really helped the pain.

So even in the middle of mucho fighting I did find a leeeetle flow.

Must. Have. More. Space.

So Bridget and I have been putting this gorgeous thing together.

Lots of exciting. Lots of fun. Lots of busy.

And in that final stretch of OMG-we’re-almost-ready-to-share-this I did what I do a lot.

I got really, really focused on the thing.

It’s like tunnel vision x 100.

So there were a few days where I spent like 10+ hours glued to my chair, working like a wild man, barely aware of anything else around me.

Which is kind of oof.

Even when you’re working on something you dig like an old soul record.

And then, after we sent our thing out into the world with fist pumps and much love, I realized two things as the adrenaline was wearing off.

I was seriously tired.
And I had an acktastic backlog of stuff to do.

Brainstorming with Bridget and pairing up our superpowers is awesome. Fabulous, even. And not even a little fight-ey.

I just realize that I need to change the way I work on things.

I need to give myself more space. And build more space into a project’s making-it-happen phase.

Then there will be less glued-to-the-chair marathons and post-adrenaline rush backlogs.

So I’m filing this nugget of awareness under flow enhancers. Or something like that.

And it was really tempting to jump straight into fight mode to get caught up on everything.

To slog through a few more 10+ hour days.

But I didn’t.

We finished getting our thing ready to roll on Friday.

And then I took the weekend off.

I rested. And played with Sid the Punk Rock Kitteh. And hung out in the studio.

And I’m already caught up on all the backlog-ey bits. (Woot!)

Which, by the way, just proves my theory that saying eff cramming is pretty much the best productivity strategy ever.

It’s also a really sexy way to maintain your flow-ey mojo too.

Schedule shifts

Following the aha! moment about the sexiness of space, I started looking at my schedule some more.

I zoomed in on the time slots I use for scheduling sound sessions.

And I realized that I wanted to build a little more space into those too.

The sessions are technically an hour long.

But they really run about two hours.

Because there’s the setting-everything-up time. And the getting-into-the-zone time. And the getting-out-of-the-zone time. And the formatting-and-uploading-the-recordings time.

There’s a lot to do before and after each session.

And I always leave enough time before a session so that I can really get ready to rock it.

But I decided to give myself some extra space after a session too.

Which meant making a few tweaks to when I schedule the sound-ey stuff.

And I’m actually really excited about the changes.

Because I’ll have more room after a session to make a smoother transition from drumming drums and shifting stuff to whatever’s next.

Which means more flow.


Daily schtuff

Since starting this experiment, I’ve been paying extra attention to the stuff I can do every day to amp up the flow.

Like making sure I start the day by drumming. Or whacking a few singing bowls. Or doing some kind of sound-ey thing.

And not skipping this morning thing even when the day looks kooky busy.

And making sure there are at least two days a week where I don’t schedule phone calls or sessions.

Which gives me big blocks of time to record, work on faboo projects and sink really deeeeep into the juicy creative flow.

I’m also taking time at night to unpack the day. To put everything where it figuratively belongs. So that I can wake up the next day with a deliciously clear slate.

Because I don’t dig feeling like I have to untangle myself from yesterday before I can start today.

Totally unflow-ey.

Invitations! You have one!

So that’s my first update.

All in all, I think things are going gorgeously.

I’m going to keep paying attention. And keep tweaking.

But there’s definitely more flow goin’ on now than there was five weeks ago.

So yay!

And I’d totally love to hear from you.

How are you doing?
Where have you felt fight-ey?
Where have you felt flow-ey?
What kind of stuff is helping you to feed the flow?
Where do you feel stuck with all of this?

This is me inviting you to check in.

Rap about where you are. Share the yays and the arghs. Ask questions.

Whatever works.

And you can share as much or as little as you want.

It’s all good.

Talk to me. Fill me in.

(Yes, I’m talking to you.)

Dig this?

Sign up + don’t miss a drop. Email or RSS. Take your pick, tater.

11 Responses to Fight or flow: Update #1
  1. Julia
    June 17, 2010 | 12:56 pm

    I’m so glad you came back to this idea – it’s a good reminder. I did myself a huge favor several weeks ago by setting up my syllabus and being ready to teach this week, giving myself almost 4 weeks to not think about teaching and to work on art. So that was good.

    But not so good was putting a lot of pressure on myself to produce capital-A Art for a gallery show I have coming up in November. I couldn’t do it, and that felt fight-y. I settled on experimenting with various techniques and working on producing stuff for my fall hat collection, just to get rolling and put myself in the proper mindset. And feel like I at least have cleared the deck somewhat, and started the flow on the capital-A Art that needs to happen.

    Now that I’m teaching twice a week, I’ve put mental
    “do not disturb” signs around the 4 day block of time I have each week when I’m not teaching to play in the studio, and I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to produce. It will happen if I just goof around with it. The signs are all lining up to indicate that a big shift in my work is on the way, and I’m trying to be ready when it does.

    Last night I listened to a couple of your sessions, and a couple of hours later came up with a really interesting original technique I can try this weekend that may actually go somewhere. And even if this isn’t THE answer, it may lead to the answer. Practice, practice, practice.
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Complexity Gets Lost =-.

  2. Joely Black
    June 17, 2010 | 1:09 pm

    The perfect post for me today, as I’ve been thinking about being in the flow for a while.

    But before I start, incredible sympathy for the oral surgery – I’ve had it twice and it was hell both times. My surgeon was called Mr. Butcher. Never a more appropriate name.

    I spent all of last year fighting, fighting, fighting. I was trying to do so much, while forgetting that I had an awful lot wrong in my head that needed to be healed first. I stopped listening to myself and basically spent an entire year butting my head against the wall.

    And that hurt. I really don’t recommend it.

    So January this year, I completely changed my focus. I realised I had to heal my head before I could do anything else. And by anything, I mean anything. I tucked myself away for five months, reading books and listening to whatever my broken head said and what it wanted to do. I had a lot of revelations, and released a lot of pent-up material.

    It took a lot of patience, and a lot of ignoring of “instant solutions”. I’m just coming out of it all now, in the last month I suppose. I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

    In the last month, I’ve been coming back to the world. I’ve been out with friends, gone to meetings, to Twitter. I’ve set up a major health and fitness program that has already produced great results.

    And none of this has come about with much effort, so far. I just listened to myself when something said “Go there, and do that.” Nothing is forced and I get much more done that way.

    I still have a bit of a way to go to release the last of the pain and fear that brought everything to a halt in the first place. But now I’ve learnt to have patience with myself it’s much easier. Of course, I still fight. I want it to end instantly, but I’m also terrified of the results of it ending instantly. But that’s also OK, it’s all part of the process.

    Thank you for posting this. There is so much out there about controlling your life as though we can dictate every single bit of our lives, and it’s always wonderful to read when somebody says, “Go with the flow.”

  3. Wendy Cholbi
    June 17, 2010 | 1:09 pm

    What a rawktastic update (so sorry about the tooth thing!). I love how even though you said that it would be bullshit to say you were meeting yourself where you were all zen-like…you kinda actually did. Because you noticed what was going on. You noticed that you were grumpy and f-bomb-y. And that goes for the noticing of the 10-hour marathon-day-tendency, and the subsequent conscious decision to not jump into 10-hour backlog-catching-up days. To which I say a hearty Yay!

    I am currently surrounded by towering messy stacks of papers, because I’m shifting some physical stuff around in my office (which really needs a better name, but that’s a topic for another time). The good news is that I’m giving myself permission to be OK with, and relax-and-work in, the portion of the office that still is a haven (I even have a snazzy new mini-bookshelf that gives me joy whenever I glance over at it), even though those piles of papers sometimes manage to yell “You should be putting us away! And you aren’t! And that means you’re lazy!”

    Whenever the papers get too loud, I know there are two things that I can do instantly: Either pick up and deal with ONE piece of paper, or leave the room (preferably to go directly outside into the sunshine). And once in awhile I can deal with more than a single sheet. But only as long as the feeling-good-about-dealing-with-it is flowing, and never when the critical voices start up. Because I really don’t need to train them to think they’re getting a response from me, y’know?

    And all this talk of flow makes me think of water, and I’ve been spending more time swimming lately, which I think really helps cultivate flow in daily life. Just being able to literally submerge, see things in a different light, and shut out the surface-babble is really helpful. It’s also superfantastic exercise but the moment I start thinking of it as “exercise” I don’t want to do it, so I just think of it as gliding underwater, doing a little splashing, and consciously re-learning how and when to breathe.

    Thanks for the invitation. I’m thinking I’ve written too much in response but am going to press “submit comment” anyway (really don’t need to get into a fight with myself about everything, y’know?)! Super ninja hugs to you!
    .-= Wendy Cholbi´s last blog ..Teleclass Nuts & Bolts, Part 3: Recordings (and backup recordings!) =-.

  4. Wulfie
    June 17, 2010 | 1:22 pm

    I’ve been struggling with something that has a bunch of ‘shoulds’ attached to it for years. Thing is I don’t want to do that thing. It doesn’t turn me on or loose. It holds me in a place of inaction and fear. It also drives me crazy because the fear of not doing it means living a life that I’d always feel like I’m faking.

    There are other things that do turn me on but I find myself so caught up in trying to get free of that other ‘should’ or ‘must’ that it feels like a death sentence hanging over my head. The funny thing about the ‘should’ thing is that it’s all other people’s shoulds, not mine. How dumb is that?

    Rings up It’s My Life by BonJovi and cranks it.

    I can’t seem to get to a flow-ey part yet. I’m too busy arguing and wrestling. So I’m playing the I-won’t-do-anything-then game, which is ticking me off.

    Sometimes the non-flow-ey stuff so takes over life that it’s hard to remember how to flow, or what used to make you flow. If I can find that opening, then I’ll be swooshing into the flow lanes! Woot!

    Thanks for revisiting this.

  5. Wulfie
    June 17, 2010 | 1:26 pm

    @Wendy Oooh swimming! How I’d love to be able to spend time in the water. That is a fantastic idea and thing to do to get things flowing. Being supported by the water…yeah. I’m drooling. I’m going to have to hike some of the trails behind my place and find the swimming hole everyone talks about. That just might be the thing that’s new enough to break me out of my habitual discomfort zone! Thanks, kiddo!

  6. Katie Schroth
    June 17, 2010 | 6:20 pm

    Sorry to hear about the toothy stuff and the drooly mess on the coach.

    Good to hear that, in an odd way, you ended up with many, many positives as the result of challenging times.

    Life kind of takes turns like that at times.

    I have been thinking of more flow in my life for bit now. Actually probably for several months.

    First let me share that I have a nice, safe 40 hour per week job that I truly enjoy and that usually doesn’t make demands on me outside of that time frame. Yet I had a kind of fight attitude. I started each day with a plan for the day (in my mind anyway), expectations of what should be done and why, and found deviations annoying or had the feeling that I got nothing done all day, leaving me not so happy.

    Then several months ago I read something Mark Silver (@MarkHeeartofBiz) shared when he talked about how one responds to the question what do you do (for a living, at work etc). Not a job title, but what do you do?

    I thought a lot about that question. I realized that when I am in flow, roll with what comes each day, allow myself the freedom of time totally for myself, nourishing myself (yes, it is possible), I am better in ways that are hard to explain. I do, what I do – which in many ways boils to helping people do their jobs better, better by remembering flow and taking time for myself.

    The emergencies at work still occur. People still don’t plan the way they should. I still have very busy days, but there is joy in each day.

    In order to flow more, I plan some me time into each day. Sometimes there isn’t much, but there is some. Many times I actually find a lot more me time than I expected. Taking time to nourish myself a bit helps me deal with a lot of stressful situations with more calm, which actually resolves the situation more quickly – leaving more free time.

    Strange but true.

    Thanks for invitation to reflect and share and tbe encouragement to keep inviting flow into my life.

  7. Catherine Caine
    June 17, 2010 | 6:42 pm

    I wrote about this today. (I love the idea that I was unconsciously channeling you. 🙂 )

    I gave myself permission to NOT for as long as it takes. Hard but AWESOME.
    .-= Catherine Caine´s last blog ..When faith gets real =-.

  8. Doc Hair
    June 17, 2010 | 7:51 pm

    I’m a new follower, and I get all resonate-y when you say things like “schtuff,” and put y’s at the end of words all willy-nilly, and… hyphens. I have a soft spot for hyphens.

    While my life sports all different kinds of stuck, hard, ugh, ew, blech, and gah, I thought I’d mention some sound stuff. My friend has a sound studio that he calls the “Room of Requirement,” with the vision to provide an opportunity for people of all levels of skill or talent to express themselves. He has given me an open invitation, and I have yet to accept it – for the past three months.

    I constantly bitch about how I hate shows and rock band and campfire sing-a-longs and sometimes just listening to music because I don’t feel engaged by . I feel like just a bystander, the eyes and ears of someone else’s experience. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s too detached for my needs right now.

    So when my friend has this effing badass opportunity that perfectly meets my needs, why don’t I take it???

    I’m terrified. I don’t know what I would play or sing or do, and I’m worried that I won’t feel like a super rockstar while doing it. I’m afraid not only that I’ll suck, but that I won’t have the decision-making power to ever get started. Because I don’t know exactly what I’m getting into.

    Time to turn off that fear of the unknown and crank up the curiosity! I think it has something to do with changing my expectations, and with being less overwhelmed by the awesomeness of what everybody else is doing. oof. That was a tough one to admit.

  9. Elana
    June 17, 2010 | 10:46 pm

    Fabeku, coming over here was the best thing I could’ve done all day. I mean besides the hot steaming bath of bergamot and rose oil I’m about to take with the sounds of Attack of the Clones in the background…Seriously, I’ve struggled with butt-cracky vibes all day and coming here was sweeeeet relief and comfort.

    You are Keeeeng.

  10. Tammy Vitale
    June 18, 2010 | 6:30 am

    I remember the fight/flow thing and then forgot it until you mentioned here and of course it’s perfect! I’m uncluttering my physical space while I rearrange my mental space (several large things having happened in the past 3 weeks that need to be integrated). Going from packed to open. Giving stuff away. Sitting with not knowing.

    By the way – don’t you know the tooth was the Universe doing it’s thing: You: Oh – no fight just flow. Universe: Great – here’s practice for you!

    thanks, as always, for the energy!

  11. Fabeku
    June 21, 2010 | 10:44 am

    Hey taters!

    I uber dig the fight/flow updates.

    Reading your schtuff. Hearing how things are going. Seeing how you’re working with this.

    Good good schtuff!

    @Julia – Yay for space + art! Sorry about the pressure-ey part. Not. Fun. At all.

    And your mental do not disturb sign is brilliant! Can I borrow it?

    And I have to yay again about ideas for original techniques. Woot! Let me know how it works out?

    @Joely – Mr. Butcher? Seriously?! Eek.

    Five months of space and following your go here nudges… awesome. And amazing. And something I admire like crazy.

    That’s so huge.

    I’m reeeeally happy to hear things are turning around for you. I’m sorry about all the hard. And I really appreciate this gorgeous example of flow. Thank you.

    @Wendy – Look at you pointing out the Zen-i-ness. Awesome.

    Yay for permission + Mini-Bookshelf of Joy!

    I love the way you’re rocking the straightening thing. For me, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by this.

    The only way I can ever straighten is by amping up the flow.

    Straighten a little. Take a break. Do something fun. Straighten some more. Rinse and repeat until I’m over it or things are totally straightened.

    And water! Yes!

    I love that you’re swimming for fun. And finding the way it hooks up with flow. That makes total sense to me.

    There are times I just crave being in the water. And I think it’s because I feel fabulously free in the water. Which, of course, is how being in the flow feels.

    You so didn’t write too much. Every single word is perfect. Hugs back!

    @Wulfie – Shoulds are so hard. Hardhardhard.

    And I’m sorry for all the should-ey hardness you’re dealing with. It makes total sense to me that you’d feel how you’re feeling given the wrestling-with-shoulds thing that’s happening.

    And it’s not dumb at all that the shoulds belong to other people. Sometimes those can be the biggest and scariest shoulds of all!

    The idea of breaking the shoulds and maybe being rejected? Terrifying.

    If you feel like playing around with it, the AHHH thing is something I play around with whenever ack is kicking my ass and I feel totally overwhelmed. It can give you just enough space to get your bearings and breathe for a second.

    No pressure to play with it. But I figured I’d toss it out there in case it might be helpful. It’s also kind of fun in a kooky kind of way. And sometimes kooky can be a secret antidote for ack. (Shhh.)

    @Katie – There were definitely nuggets of goodness that came from the ack-ey bits. For sure.

    Oooh, you’ve introduced another element of delicious smartness into this discussion.

    How plugging into what we really do (and who we really are) can help us to find flow in pretty much any situation.

    And I think Mark is totally right.

    What we do (and who we are) isn’t about the tasks or the to-do list. It’s a quality or characteristic that is underneath all that. It’s this deeper juicy bit that is usually this amazing mix of simple + profound.

    I know that when I plugged into what it is for me – freedom + flow – it brought everything into focus. And it gave me a way of navigating life, evaluating pretty much every decision I make and getting myself back on track (read: in the flow) when I’m off.

    So, yeah, this is HUGE. It’s one of those vital parts of flow. (I feel another post brewing!)

    And what you said about me time is also smart.

    I know that, for me, when I’m up to my ass in busy, the idea of trying to schedule me time can feel ack-ey.

    But the faboo part is that when I do, everything goes so much better. And, like you said, I usually find way more me time that way.

    It’s like it automagically replicates itself. Or something.

    Great points! Thanks for serving those up.

    @Catherine – Fabulous post!

    And that thing about giving yourself permission to ease up?

    So so smart. I know that for me a constant pushpushpush will shut down the flow faster than almost anything.

    Flow needs space. Not constant pushing.

    Yay for space!

    @Doc – Before I go on, can I just say that you have the one of the best names and Twitter IDs that I’ve ever seen? Fab-U-lous!

    I love that there’s a part of you that wants a piping hot plate of engagement. I so get that.

    And I also get how that can be scary as hell!

    So I can totally understand why you’d be hesitant to accept the invite. Really.

    And all that fear that comes up? That seems totally normal to me. At least in my world.

    I think the part where you get how the expectations + other people’s awesome is coming into play is big. It feels like you found a secret trap door there.

    If it helps, it’s totally ok not to accept the invite now. If the idea of doing it now creates pressure, then maybe giving yourself some space will make it easier.

    Fear and ack feed on pressure. The harder we push, the harder they push back. It just sucks.

    So no pressure.

    But if you ever want someone to cheer you on when you crank up the curiosity? Hit me up. Because I’ll be there with pompoms in full on cheer mode!

    @Elana – Big yays for disappearing butt-crack-ey vibes! And baths of much fabulousness! Yay you! (Yeah, I just used three – count ’em! – exclamation marks in my reply to you. Because it totally deserved it.)

    @Tammy – Packed to open! That just felt like a big AHHH! to me. Sweet!

    Like I said to Wendy, I get how it can be ack-ey to clean up outer (and inner) spaces. Not easy schtuff.

    And yeah. The tooth thing was an opportunity to practice this flow thing. 🙂

    Thank you all for the fabulous updates. Every single one of you have added much smartness to this whole discussion.

    We will definitely be doing more of this.

    Viva Flow!

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