Monthly Archives: March 2005

All Packed Up or Frustration Reduction

Over the last two weeks I spent packing up my place. I went through and separated all my stuff and all the stuff going to my ex’s.
What an incredibly frustrating experience in dealing with these movers. Lack of information, erroneous information, missing information…unbelievable.
Thankfully the move itself went really well. The moving guys themselves were top notch and an entire 18 wheeler was filled to the brim with…. STUFF.
That’s what it all is…STUFF.
Too much stuff in my book.
Ever since I left Yahoo!, I’ve been on a frustration and clutter reduction kick. Remove all barriers to me moving forward in my life. Take away all time consuming meaningless tasks like writing checks to pay bills and stuffing envelopes. What a waste of my time.
Moving was a huge clutter reduction effort. Why did I need all this stuff? Was it to make happier? Did I need all this stuff? I didn’t even recognize half of it. Having so much stuff is just not in the cards anymore. It just makes my life more complex. I don’t need that. I want the simple life.
I don’t need to have so much stuff. Because in the end, it’s all just stuff. Physicalities. Meaningless. So I practiced LETTING GO. I don’t want or need to be attached to this STUFF. Yes there is an attachment factor to anything we buy or own but most of it really just isn’t necessary. When was I going to reread my old Wired magazines? Was I ever going to research for that Yahoo! book I was going to write? NEVER. It’s just paper taking up valuable space in my garage and in my psyche. Very bad on both accounts.
What a relief to LET GO. I had a great time watching the movers just take away all this furniture. I didn’t need to fight to keep it; it was not important. It is even UNHEALTHY.
How did we all ever think that having bigger and more things would be the way to go?
I think back to how our parents taught us. When you buy your next home, it should be BIGGER. And the next house after that. EVEN BIGGER. And for what? More opportunities to clutter up our lives until our limited time and resources cannot support so much space. It just encourages junk to take up that square footage.
Next stop – reduction of SPACE. I will live in my place for a while, but I am also enjoying living in a two bedroom apartment in LA, and also very soon a studio condo in NYC. It will force me to be brutal in throwing out things. I love it.
Clutter reduction = frustration reduction = happy dshen.
I love it when I write about or tell people that I’m spending time here or there. But, inevitably things get mixed up and people think I’ve blown out of the Bay Area permanently.
Just to set the record straight – I am living part time in Cupertino, part time in LA, and part time in NYC. I have not disappeared from the Bay Area and will not for a long time, I suspect….

Doing the Impossible

Back sometime around 1492, Columbus went to the Spanish court and said to them, “I’m going to sail across the ocean and discover the New World!” I am sure people thought he was crazy and was not shy in telling him so. After all, the world was flat, it certainly wasn’t round, and he would probably sail off the end of the earth and be eaten by the demons and sea monsters awaiting him. Or he would just be sunk by some huge storm or starve to death in becalmed seas. Despite such negativity and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Columbus managed to set sail with the support of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain and made it across the Atlantic Ocean, even though he and his crew experienced many hardships.
Fast forward many centuries to your childhood.
“Mom, can I go run a marathon?”
“Well sure, but you better watch out. You might hurt yourself. You might hurt your knees. It seems so long. Are you sure you can do this? Maybe when you’re older. Why don’t you go do something else?”
Fast forward to about 3 weeks ago in Time Magazine, an article entitled, “Bad Idea, You’ll Flunk Out” about women in the sciences:
“Then reality hit when I went back to my guidance counselor the next day and I told him that instead of being a lawyer or an interior decorator, I now wanted to be an engineer. He looked at me and said, “Bad idea. You have not scored on your aptitude test to be an engineer. You’re not inclined to be an engineer. You’re not made up to be an engineer.” Then I went to my math teacher, and she said the same thing, “Bad idea. You’ll flunk out.” ”
Thankfully this woman pushed past this comment and many more difficulties to become an engineer and flourish in a male dominated discipline full of antiquated notions and gender discimination.
Doing the Impossible
How many comments and situations have we encountered like those above?
The “impossible”: It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot these days. The big questions for me are:
“What is truly impossible?”
“What makes something impossible?”
“What makes something actually possible?”
As I think deeply on this topic, I think on my own experiences in the “impossible”.
So far, I’ve now completed 2 marathons, several triathlons, and now a full Ironman.
At one point, if you asked me if these were possible, I may have said, “No.” And then, I would proceed to give you a list of reasons ranging from my age, to how much time it would take, to having bad knees, to god knows what else.
But something changed over the last year in my attitude towards things like this. I really started getting into “Doing the Impossible.”
Now what does “impossible” really mean?
I don’t mean things that are really impossible. Like deadlifting 500 lbs over my head.
I mean things that are most likely possible, but barriers exist in one’s own mind. A lot of these barriers were created from self-doubt and fear of the unknown. Or some external forces filled your head with doubt of your own abilities and capabilities. You trusted the external source who told you something was impossible so therefore, it became impossible.
But was it really impossible?
I am on a quest to see where the “impossible” line really lies for me on a variety of fronts, ranging from the physical to emotional to the intellectual.
After all, how can we truly grow if we do not test our limits? We all need to find out where our mental barriers are and remove all the doubts and fears about many things in our lives. It is these negative emotions which create walls and prevent us from reaching our potential.
Humans are pioneers by nature. It is only through our pioneering spirit in discovering our own unknown limits that we can become mature, well-adjusted, healthy, and happy individuals. Like Columbus, bust through the naysayers in your life, discover your New World and feel proud knowing you just did something that you thought was “impossible”.

Don’t Miss the Simple Things

Today, I walked out of Baja Fresh in Cupertino after picking up some take out fish tacos and I noticed an incredible sunset over the skies of Cupertino.
I thought to myself that it was really unusual that the sunset would be so striking, the reds fading to blues amongst the high cirrus clouds in a beautiful splash of color, instead of the usual invading fog that usually dominates the sky at dusk. I paused for a moment on the way to my car and reveled in the sight, and my heart felt lightened because of it. I was glad for it, because it had been a difficult day and now I feel a bit better.
Thoughts of another sunset also came to mind, over the skies of Taupo two weeks ago at Ironman New Zealand as I was running over the last painful hill into the Taupo proper and the finish line. It was also a grueling day, in a different way than today but also taxing to both body and spirit. I remember how the sunset also lightened my spirit despite my resolve draining away at that time.
Sunsets and other similar things – very small in nature but having potentially big effects. These things go unnoticed by us in our busy lives as our information-overloaded senses attempt to process every input in the wink of an eye.
I am reminded to slow down and enjoy the small things in life, to pause, and take in a sunset, the company of a good friend, the relaxing sip of a great red wine, or when my daughter comes running up to give me a hug with the biggest smile on her face.
Don’t miss the simple things in life.