Video Vednesday: Contorting yourself

I’ve been reading a lot about goat paths and entrenched ways of thinking in Randy Frost’s latest book (which is awesome when it’s not scaring the bejeezus outta me), and also doing a ton of walking and the regular quantity of Nei Kung.

So basically, I’ve been thinking a lot about habituation and ruts and why, while some habits are terrific and make life simpler as well as moving it forward, others keep you skipping in the grooves, to cop an old metaphor from the phonographic days.

Ideas have been flying by fast and furiously, a result, I think, of the walking, primarily, but also greatly due to some terrific and significant conversations I’ve been having. Still, I manage to grab a couple here and there, and caught some there to post here.

One small note about the batteries: when I say “recyclable,” I mean “rechargeable.” AND “recyclable.” Of course.

This is a long and rambling one, and I’m really not sure about its utility, so constructive feedback is especially welcome.



  1. Colleen,
    I enjoy your videos very much—some people do them better than others and you’re definetly among those who do them well. Your enthusiasm is contagious.
    Can I ask you what the epiphany was that changed the way you see life that you mention in the 8/30 post?

    1. Can I ask you what the epiphany was that changed the way you see life that you mention in the 8/30 post?

      I was hospitalized in September 2002 with a severe onset of Crohn’s disease, and had the mother of all epiphanies while I was there. The Ignite talk I did last year covers it best; it’s five minutes, but you say you enjoy video. (And to be fair, this particular five minutes I worked on for 20-30 hours, so it’s a decent five!)

  2. I found this very useful and not annoying at all! It was a great reminder to, in the words of the great and immortal philospher BUrt Bacharach, “make it easy on yourself.”

    My sympathies on the leaf blower situation. Ugh!

  3. Soooo true! There’s enough complexity in my life without adding to it! Simplify is my new mantra. Less is more. You can take a chance, then press control-z. The sky doesn’t fall. I don’t have to be perfect and right the first time, every time. There, I feel better. Thanks for the therapy.

  4. Geek moment: I’m a total rechargeable battery nerd, but I’ve noticed that for devices I use very lightly (even if frequently), “disposables” can last a very long time, and rechargeables can age themselves to death and/or be discharged just when you need the damn device. So potential contortion here. For borderline cases, slightly more expensive “slow self-discharge” types (e.g. Eneloop) can be an option.

    1. I am dimly remembering reading something about this, which might be why I never went the batteries route. (Although I may just have balked when I saw it needed SIX AAs!)

      I have some Eneloops mixed in. I should probably do an all-Eneloop batch to see if that helps. Thanks, Mark!

      1. Yes, don’t mix battery types. Or at least charge them frequently or at the first sign of depletion. The first ones to discharge will be damaged by reverse charging from the others.

        You’re velcome.

  5. i find all kinds of ways to get in my own way by laboriously overthinking how i could or should be doing things, often failing to see that i’ve made them more complicated in the process. thanks for this video, because i was just getting to this point last night where i knew i had to rethink a few things and simplify, and now i’m gonna do it!

  6. Great video post! Point well taken, and I was engaged from beginning to end. (Where the heck did you get that labeler? I have ‘Getting Things Done’ but haven’t read it yet – which I guess says I need to read it more than ever)

    My only comment — don’t contort yourself over video length/ worry about ‘rambling’. I know there’s probably a rule of thumb about manageable video bites/ attention spans and all that, but for me this video flew by in no time at all, so it’s all relative.

    1. Where the heck did you get that labeler?

      It’s a Brother P-Touch 1950, and I’m pretty sure I got mine via Amazon. They were all the rage among the GTD hordes in the mid-aughts, popularized (I’m pretty sure, but don’t quote me) by Merlin Mann.

      The 2100 looks like the replacement—maybe a little smaller, but still with the storage function (handier than you’d think): has the corded option, but also takes 6 “AA” batteries. I also give a big thumbs-up to the Eneloops, which do seem to hold a charge better than the others.

      I have ‘Getting Things Done’ but haven’t read it yet – which I guess says I need to read it more than ever

      I’ll preface this by saying that I got a TON out of GTD. There are principles in the book which, if you apply them with some diligence (it takes training at first), will really help. Ubiquitous capture was HUGE for me, although it might just be (I now realize from reading up on hoarding and anxiety) because of my OCPD. What I think most of us finally come to is that GTD is David Allen’s personal system, and works really well for David Allen (and maybe people who are very similar to him), but that most of us have to learn general principles of order, plus some tricks, then play around with which ones work for us, personally.

      […]for me this video flew by in no time at all, so it’s all relative.]

      Aw, thanks. I guess I’ll just aim for short, try to worry less about long, and trust that people who don’t like my videos will find others that they do.

  7. I very much enjoyed this video. Great topic. I’ve been marathon-watching The Wire, recently and this post reminded me of something I was very impressed with about the show.

    In case you’re not familiar with the show, it follows police trying to catch drug dealing gangsters, while the gangsters try to stay underground. What I was impressed with is how the successful gangsters are always the most flexible.

    Whatever isn’t working for them or puts them in danger of getting busted, they toss and try something new. It feels strange to say I was inspired by this, because they’re drug dealers and general bad-guys, but I think the principle is solid.

    It’s so important to stay flexible and pay attention to all the options if something isn’t working.

  8. Especially for those of us who sit on our fannies – A LOT – remembering not to contort, to do things that make our lives easier and perhaps with the added benefit of being easy on the bod is very important. I, too, heart my Brotha P. I thought it was a great tid bit to put into the mental rolodex and didn’t feel the length was an issue at all. Fun, informative, and entertaining. And the up-do does you quite well.

  9. Oh man — they have those mice on sale at Target for $16.00 (microsoft brand) and $18.88 (logitec brand) and I keep putting it off with all kinds of stupid excuses (oh, it needs a battery so it’ll quit when I need it most, those little blue tooth receiver parts – I’m sure I’ll lose it and then it will be worthless, yadda, yadda, yadda) — so that’s it, I’m off to buy one for the laptop – no more excuses! AND I also read that the battery in one of those mice last up to 8 months — can’t beat that! Love the P-Touch — in fact, have two, one at home, one at work – got tired of lugging the one back & forth – there’s another contortion avoidance! Enjoy watching your videos – please keep doing them!

  10. I LOVE the video, of course. I particularly like the “examine it” sentiment, when thinking about things that I keep putting off. I need the reminder. Thanks.

    And I’ve noticed for awhile now that you say how old you are…a lot. I do that, too. (A Virgo trait?) Take it from someone who’s a little further down the road–49’s not so bad, nor is 50, or 51. I’m hoping 52 is good, too–I mean, c’mon–a deck of cards without jokers!

    Anyway, if I come upon an age that’s particularly awful, I promise to look back down the road and let you know it’s on its way! J.

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