Aug 3 2007


Jamie Barrows

Rope Knot
I have a tendency to get stressed out a lot. I hide it well, and put on a good front that makes me seem relaxed. It’s such a good front, that most people think I’m pretty laid back. But the truth is that I’m not all that laid back.

I get frustrated and worry about things that just aren’t that big a deal. I guess it has something to do with my need to feel that events and situations around me are under control. And I really need that feeling. I don’t need to be the one doing the controlling, but I do need to feel that someone is in control. Just letting things happen bothers me.

Sometimes a real or perceived lack of control and organization will cause me to take a leadership role where I shouldn’t. I try to control a situation where I don’t have the authority to do so. Or where organization is not really needed. That usually just causes me more stress. Other times, I’ll be unable to do anything about the disorganization for one reason or another. Then the stress will build until I grow irritable to those around me, or I remove myself from the situation.

The truth is that most of the time it makes no real difference to the final outcome. A lot of times that situation doesn’t need to be controlled and organized. Simply letting things happen is good enough. I’m stressing myself out over nothing or over things that can’t be organized. Trying to do something about it doesn’t relieve my stress, it just increases it for myself and everyone around me.

Just the other day I was complaining to a coworker. I told him that the lack of organization and control in a particular project was stressing me out. He made a statement that sounds flippant, but is actually true. He said, “Control is just an illusion.” And he was right. Even when I feel that things around me are organized and controlled, I’m just fooling myself. So why stress?

If I can just remember that I don’t need to have things around me controlled and organized, then I won’t get so stressed.

May 23 2007

Plants and Happy thoughts

Jamie Barrows


The other day I was working with a coworker on a big project. Other than some initial checking of email and voice mail in the morning, I was pretty much in his office all day and wasn’t spending any time in my office. The project we were working on just didn’t want to come together. So we were both pretty stressed out. Towards the end of the day, I finally decided that we were going to have to take a break from that project and get back to it first thing in the morning.

So I headed back to my office to again check email and voice mail, and to wrap things up so I could head home. As soon as I entered my office, I felt so much less stressed and more relaxed. It’s not that my office is really any nicer than his. It has the same basic decor of his office. Same carpet, same color walls, even the same door. And it isn’t that I was relieved to get away from the project we had been working on all day. I knew I was going right back to it in the morning. If anything I was actually dreading getting back to my desk knowing that things would have piled up in my email while I was away from it all day.

The only real difference between our offices, is the plants. I’ve filled my office with live plants, and it makes such a difference. Just having green living things around seems to ease away stress and frustration. I’ve done the same for my house, putting plants all over the living and dining area. It really makes a big difference.