Are You Just Killing Time?

I was recently talking to a super smart coach friend and we were chewing on the idea of bringing more joy and pleasure into our lives. Worthwhile, right? Who doesn’t want more joy and pleasure? Hang on kids, because any minute there’s going to be all kinds of decorations telling you to get your joy on.

As we talked it became pretty clear to me that while I do have a lot of joy in my life, I’m a bit stingy with myself when it comes to joy and pleasure. Productivity? Now THAT’s a measure I can get behind, but joy and pleasure… that’s not a yardstick this girl’s history really supports. As we talked about the time of day when I have the biggest (read kid-free) opportunity to choose to do something for joy or pleasure, I quickly began giving reasons why I can’t do the things I’d like to do. Continue reading

Holiday Conversation Survival Guide

slide1TV, movies, holiday stress – it all tells us that these revered holidays aren’t always all they are cracked up to be. Sometimes it’s because of the workload associated with the whole thing. Sometimes it’s because we surrender all of our own preferences in favor of traditions that got started by people we never even knew. Sometimes it’s because when we are with our family of origin, we all revert to being about 12 years old. Truth is, holidays can be complicated, and if we’re already having a tough time in any way, holiday conversations can be tricky.

For your use, I want to throw some phrases at you that might prove helpful.

About food:

  • No, thank you. (you don’t have to explain your dietary restrictions and feel judged, just say no)
  • I’m sure it’s delicious, but I’m fine.
  • I really appreciate all of your hard work.
  • That is an amazing table.

In the case of disagreement that is brewing but not openly hostile:

  • That’s interesting. Why do you feel that way?
  • What outcome were you hoping for?
  • Wow. I see that totally differently. I’d never considered your approach.
  • Thanks for sharing that with me; can I tell you how I see it?
  • We agree on so many other things, I’m surprised we differ here.

In the case of inappropriate intrusive questions:

  • Thanks for being interested, but I’m not really ready to talk about that here/now/at all.
  • That feels like a super personal question to me. Can we talk about something else?
  • WOW. Going right for the big stuff are we? I think I’m going to need a warm-up period.
  • Committee’s still out on that one, but thanks for asking.

In the case of full-blown hostility:

  • You seem very scared/angry/frustrated. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I don’t agree with you.
  • That really hasn’t been my experience and if we can turn it down a notch, I’d be happy to share my perspective.
  • I’m not sure you understand why that troubles me. I can explain it or we can drop this particular subject.
  • “I respectfully do not care.” This a quote from Martha Beck.

slide2Now, go forth. Do your thing, whatever that might be and if your holiday plans are NOT to your liking for whatever reason, I implore you to carve (like that turkey reference?) out some chunk of time in which you will do something you absolutely do want to do and that you will relish that time. You can be late. You can leave early. You can make your shower as long as you need to. The world will keep turning. The dinner will wait. Spend a little of that time on you – it will make the gratitude part of this whole shebang oh so much easier.

peace,

julia

Calling Out or Calling In

outin2My super smart reverend said something that really stuck with me today. He was talking about the difference between calling people out and calling people in. He discussed this in reference to supporting minority groups and working against oppression. When we see something happening that contributes to oppression or systemic injustice, we may feel tempted to call that person out. We may feel tempted to use all of our righteous indignation to label their behavior as racist, sexist, classist or whatever else it might be. In fighting against these cultural problems, we may feel tempted to whip out our high intensity label maker and sort everyone according to their misdeeds. There’s something really satisfying in identifying the wrong in others; there’s also something divisive, hurtful, and counterproductive in shaming someone this way.

My ministerial pal encouraged us, rather than calling people out, to call people in. There is more than one way to skin a cat (why do we say this, it really is gross), and shaming someone is not the only way to address something they have said or done that is hurtful or unjust. Continue reading

The Way Out Of Overwhelm

slide3I’m standing in the kitchen, tidying, reviewing in my mind the things that I need to accomplish that day, and then I think of something else I should do this minute that’s more important. I get mad at myself for forgetting, leave what I was tidying in the kitchen unfinished, and move on to that forgotten task, which I likely also fail to complete because the chatter in my head about what needs doing overwhelms completion. This is one version of my overwhelm. It might be triggered by a genuinely busy day BUT the day doesn’t even have to “look” particularly busy.

Another version of overwhelm for me has not so much to do with the amount of busy, but the kind of busy. This overwhelm is me looking at my calendar (as an introvert) and seeing no time for me to be alone, no time to make reasonable transitions, or just too many big events with lots of people stacked up on one another (hello holidays!). The result is the same, a lot of spinning and discontent. Continue reading

Dear Upset American

detail-of-american-flag-11279635008nzanIt has been an unprecedentedly weird week in American politics.

There’s a lot to say about it, but honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s all being said. It’s out there. If you want more, there’s plenty to be had.

What I want to tell you isn’t about polls or data, it isn’t about graphs. It isn’t even about political platforms, strategies, or protests.

What I want to tell you is that we are all still here.

Anything you think you’ve learned about each other since Tuesday was true on Monday.

Anything you think you’ve learned about our country since Tuesday was true on Monday.

Anything you think has changed was true on Monday. There is change to come; I’m not denying it. But as of this moment, there is nothing new. There are no new opinions, no new preferences, nothing new. Continue reading

Surrender

This is the change I’ve been working on.

surrender1And yes, I’m telling you I’m working on surrendering, which is hilarious, and is so exactly me. I am so bad at surrender, that I think I have to work at it.

In my last post, I talked about surrender and acceptance as a possible response to a catalytic event. My discussion of surrender was brief though, and given events in the U.S. this week (to which I struggle to surrender at all much less comfortably), I think it’s worth taking a few moments to consider surrender further here.

What does it mean to surrender to an event? For many of us, surrender is synonymous with giving up, and giving up is really not encouraged in Western culture. What does it mean to give up and what does it mean to surrender? Are they the same thing? What do we give up when we surrender? Why does our culture look down on surrendering? Continue reading

When Someone Drops a Bomb

slide1No matter how we arrange our lives, there will be occasions when somebody drops a bomb. We get horrible news. We are betrayed or hurt by a loved one. We discover something we wish we had never known. We lose someone we care about. There are so many ways for this to happen and they’re all out there, those universe bombs. They are out there because no matter how we arrange our lives, and no matter how internally healthy we are, there is an awful lot out there that is simply out of our control. The question is not whether or not a single life will include these universe bombs, but what we do when they fall.

There are so many ways to respond, but they are not all equally effective. Continue reading

Time/Space Alchemy Made Easy

I got an e-mail message on Tuesday morning that stopped me in my tracks.  The title for the message and the first couple of paragraphs called out to women who don’t believe they can do it, whatever their “it” is; women who think they don’t have the special magic in them to make their lives what they want them to be. The author, the fabulous Susan Hyatt, went on to point out that it could well be that women who feel this way are currently mis-spending their special magic in endeavors and pastimes that waste it.

She then challenged the reader: “Start today, by removing one thing from your life that feels draining to you. One thing, no matter how small. It might be a TV show that exhausts you or a social commitment that bores you. Subtract it from your life. Boom. You just took back some of your power. Keep going. You won’t believe how much better you feel.”

slide2I LOVE this. So much of our culture seems to push us to ADD something, to “find” time (or better still “make” time – a mystery that has eluded me for decades), to be busier, to do more in order to do better. What if the first step in real time/space alchemy is not one of addition but a series of pointed subtractions? What if removing that which is draining creates both the time AND the energy for that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Continue reading