NYC: Land of Construction
Monthly Archives: January 2013
Best known as a pioneer of the Civil Rights movement, spearheading such protests as the Montgomery Bus Boycott with Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a pivotal role in organizing community based efforts to address social issues like poverty. It is the zeal that Martin Luther King, Jr. had for organizing community based projects that led to the celebration of his birthday being associated with national service. Since 1994, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday has been recognized by Congress as a national day of service. Occurring every year on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King, Jr. day is the only federal holiday that is observed as a national day of service. Websites such as http:/mlk.gov help steer individuals towards service projects in their area, along with assisting them on creating projects of their own.
This celebration of service takes me back 4 years when the nation seemed to be brimming with a spirit of community service, poised to embrace a change from Washington’s “business as usual” slogan trumpeted by the winning candidates. Today, plagued with a broken economy, bitter bipartisan disagreements, epic natural disasters, and shootings at malls, at a movie theatre, and a school, much of the drive towards community service that was present at President Obama’s first inauguration was in short order at today’s inauguration. Understandably, many people are anxious about the state of today’s political, environmental, and social sphere. It’s hard to think about the community at large when your own piece of the world may be falling apart around you. The beauty of volunteering is its gift of perspective, the way it takes the focus off of oneself towards another person and/or circumstance. Volunteering gives one the opportunity not only to help individuals who may be needier than themselves, but also provides the chance to connect with a part of the community one may not have connected with otherwise. Joining or starting an organization to channel ones efforts is great, but something as simple as helping your neighbor with their groceries, meeting up to talk with a friend that is going through tough times, are steps in the direction of changing ones community for the better.
Looking beyond ourselves to connect with others and serve our community is part of the dream that Dr. King had for the nation. It is the part of his dream that was reignited 4 years ago, the part of the dream I hope is reignited today.
In what ways do you believe you can, or are, effecting change in your community?
One of my favorite episodes of the TV show Seinfeld is the one where, after a terrible run of bad luck, George Costanza decides that he will begin doing the exact opposite of what he would normally do. Things move swimmingly for George Costanza at first, but as any fan of the TV show Seinfeld knows, all that glitters for George soon loses its shine.
As I prepared to watch this episode again, I thought about a quote most commonly attributed to Albert Einstein regarding insanity, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” By doing everything in the exact opposite way he’d normally do, George Costanza carved out a unique way to buck his insane patterns of behavior that were continuously leading him to fail and get into all sorts of trouble. I, like George Costanza, have repeated insane patterns of behaviors that have limited my productivity and caused me all sorts of headaches. My behavioral pattern du jour features me repeatedly slamming the snooze button on my alarm clock, eventually stumbling out of bed like a zombie.
Back when I was free to sleep my mornings away, I’d stay up all night reading, writing, cleaning, and yes sometimes, partying. According to my grandmother and aunt, as a little girl, I’d stay up late talking to a cadre of imaginary friends and I’d act out sketches I created earlier in the evening. Although I have long since bid adieu to my imaginary friends and late night sketch reenactments, my nocturnal spirit remains. Consequently, my weekday mornings are a groggy whirlwind of coffee, snippets of the Today show, and an eventual Usain Bolt- like sprint to the train station. This daily weekday morning shtick has sabotaged me in more ways than I’d care to recount, which is why I’ve decided to start doing the opposite.
21 days is widely regarded as the amount of time it takes to form a habit. It’s within this 21 day time frame that I will begin waking up by at least 6 am every weekday morning. I will not lie, I am not looking forward to this challenge. But like George Costanza (hopefully sans the inevitable negative, albeit, hilarious turn of events), it’s time for me to break out of this self-sabotaging pattern of behavior and move towards a more productive, and saner, use of my time in the morning. Instead of waking up in a semi-conscious, angst-ridden stupor, I hope to wake up in the opposite way, alert and ready to take on the day. Waking earlier than usual is a prominent trait among highly successful and productive individuals who use this time to read, write, strategize, stretch, etc. Besides getting a jump-start on their day, early risers typically aren’t riddled with the consequences that come from incessantly hitting the snooze button.
Being perpetually late for life is no longer an option for me. It’s time for me to gain control of this time of the day and begin my day with activities that will move me closer to where I want to be personally and professionally… Okay, here we go, gulp!
Do you struggle with waking up early?