Getting lost on purpose

Life is super busy for most of us. I hope that you are slowing down a bit this summer.

Taking a real vacation is rejuvenating and important. Sadly, many of us feel so much pressure to work and accomplish that we don’t make vacations a priority, and entrepreneurs and consultants are most likely to work without a break. Without taking time for ourselves — for rest, relaxation, to do nothing, to simply play and have fun — we hurt ourselves.

What about you? Have you already taken some time off to enjoy the summer? Are you looking forward to an upcoming vacation before the fall season arrives?

And, here’s another question: Are you making the most of the summer season even when you are not getting away? Are you slowing the hectic pace a bit and finding ways to live with less stress even before or after a vacation? 

I am often asked about how to cope with the grind of work and the pressure of fitting in personal time and self-care amidst a demanding work schedule. This is a universal challenge in our culture.

There is a lot of advice we hear for coping with the physically — and emotionally — challenging problem of overwork and stress. And, I don’t disagree that things like meditating in the morning, or getting to the gym for a workout, or sinking into a warm bath at the end of a long day are great suggestions.

But I have another idea to share that you may never have heard about. It does not require a lot of time and it’s free. What could be better than that combination to easily take some stress out of your life?

I urge you to try getting lost on purpose
Why? Because when you let yourself wander without an agenda, without knowing what you will find, you are open to surprise. And open to delight. And open to unexpected wonder. Letting yourself be spontaneous and open to whatever you may discover, and delighting in the surprises (even if you come across something like a decaying old factory rather than a scenic babbling brook), fires up your brain. It inspires you and prompts you to think differently. It ignites creativity and opens you to new possibilities.

Ready to give it a try?

Find a natural time to get lost
If you are driving home after a meeting or after running errands, why not allow yourself a few minutes to explore? Purposely turn off the road into an area you have never been. It can be an exit from the highway you have never used, or you might go down a street near your home or office you that you’ve never driven on. 

Turn off your GPS! 
This is a time to follow your nose and see what’s around you. You may find yourself on a country road that is peaceful and beautiful. You may see architecture you did not expect in the area — like a modern house or a historic home painted in unusual colors. You may be shocked at the way an area has become overdeveloped or run down. You may come across an impressive mural. You may see gardens full of exotic plants.

You may find a tucked-away little park, like I did within a mile of my home, that I never knew existed. When you find yourself in an interesting place, get out of your car and explore on foot. Sit down on a bench and look around. It may be a place you’ve never been or someplace you have driven past a hundred times without stopping. 

It’s really fun to walk in a place you think you know and let yourself wander aimlessly. Look at what's around you with open eyes. You may read the plaque on statue of a man on a horse and learn something fascinating. You may wander through a church graveyard and marvel at beautiful headstones that go back to the 17th century. You may feel inspired to pull out your phone and take some photos of the wonder around you

Share your experiences
When you are excited about new experiences and discoveries, it’s great to share them. Social media sharing has become a ritual for many people, so why not share your micro-vacation that way, just like you would a week at the beach? And I urge you to share your experiences with family and friends — in real-life conversations. When you speak about what happened, you may find that new levels of insight emerge.

These short excursions are like taking mini-vacations — they will lift your spirits and refresh your thinking. You are likely to find that great new ideas come to you as you explore, much the way ideas often come like “magic” when you are in the shower. That’s because you are allowing your overactive brain a little time to be relaxed and just play. And you will have given yourself a little gift — the gift of time just for you with no agenda.

Many of my clients have tried this little idea and have reported back that getting lost on purpose was wonderful. They report that the peace and pleasure of their short excursions have a big positive impact on the rest of their day, and opened up their thinking in surprising ways.

So, why not give yourself this little gift? This is a simple way to de-stress and inspire yourself, any time you are out and about.

If you want to share your experiences, add a comment below. I would love to hear what getting lost on purpose was like for you.

Wonder at the Renwick Gallery

One of the great joys of being in Washington DC for my sabbatical has been the opportunity to visit the fantastic museums of the Smithsonian. These treasures are free for all of us to enjoy, and it is a thrill to be able to visit these museums whenever time allows.

The Renwick Gallery is one of the Smithsonian museums, and is located across from the White House. It is a beautiful building that’s been closed for renovations for the last 3 years. I’d not known of it, but I have walked past the gallery each day on my way to the Corcoran and have been intrigued by the imposing facade. It was exciting to find out that the museum was to reopen on November 13. There was a lot of buzz about it, so I checked out its fascinating history and the opening exhibition, Wonder. While I was eager to see the exhibition, I waited until after the opening weekend to avoid the crowds.

My patience was rewarded! The magnificent sculptural installations that were commissioned for nine grand galleries were thrilling to move around and marvel at with just a few other visitors on a Tuesday afternoon. The name of the exhibition, Wonder, could not be more apt. The works are superb, and they make each of the gallery spaces a star attraction.

While photos cannot convey the impact of seeing these monumental works in person, I hope you will get a sense of the nine works — and perhaps be able to make a trip to Washington see them yourself. I hope you can make it before July 10, 2016, when the exhibition will close.

Tara Donovan’s intriguing landscape, ”Untitled”, is made of index cards!

”Plexus, A1“ by Gabriel Dawe is made of thread and is completely spellbinding.

Patrick Dougherty’s ”Shindig” is PHENOMENAL, and especially delightful because you can move into the forms he created with willow saplings.

Janet Echelman’s Suspended Woven sculpture, ”1.8” is in a gallery 100 feet long. It was inspired by the Tsunami in Japan in 2011. changing lights, and the shadows cast on the gallery walls, make it completely mesmerizing.

”Middle Fork”, by John Grade, was made by first creating a plaster cast of a tree, found IN THE CASCADE MOUNTAINS, that is the same age as the Renwick building. Then, a half-million segments of reclaimed cedar were carved and connected to make the new ”tree” from the cast. Amazing!

”Folding the Chesapeake” was created by Maya Lin, using marbles to shape rivers, fields, canyons and mountains in this gallery. IT is exquisite.

Leo Villareal’s ”Volume” sculpture is suspended above the great staircase and is ever-changing. It is coded so that the lighting sequences never repeat exactly as before.

"Anonymous donor" by Chakaia Booker is made with reworked RUBBER TIRES. She created fantastic textures and forms.

”In the midnight garden”, by Jennifer Angus, transports us into a magical and completely surprising space. Not only are the patterns on the walls made with actual insects (that are abundant in nature), the stunning pink wall color was derived from crushed insects.