The Magic of Yet

One of the things I like to do is to see how much I can change the meaning of a sentence while changing the words as little as possible. “My yard is covered with ice” becomes: “my yard is covered with ice cream,” obviously preferable but only so slightly different. I know. It’s weird. It’s a thing language lovers do, or at least the language lovers in my family. My father loved to play with words, changing words, changing sentences. I do it too, and now my son has begun to play with me. It occurred to me today that this kind of word play can be so so so useful when we’re trying to make changes in our lives. Continue reading

Change in Just 5 Minutes

She said: “Well, if I’m only going to do it for 10 minutes, why bother?”

She was referring to exercise, and explaining to me why the hadn’t gotten any exercise in that week, having identified it as a priority the week prior.

Slide1This notion that only 10 minutes of exercise makes it not worth the attempt smells like perfectionism as a delay tactic. Perfectionism comes in many shapes and sizes, and sometimes it sounds like this:

“I’ll buy new clothes when I lose some weight.”

“I’ll plan a vacation when I have more time.”

“I’ll take a day off when things aren’t so busy.”

“I’ll change careers when my children are older.”

“I’ll exercise when I have enough time to do it properly.”

“If I don’t have time to make a great meal at home, I might as well carry out.”

“If I can’t look like the women in magazines, I might as well wear sweats.”

“If I can’t do IT the right way, I’d just as soon skip it.” Continue reading

Is Satisfactory Enough?

This morning my singing partner and I did a scary thing. We took a tough song, with cutting and horrifying lyrics, added a dissonant and haunting harmony and performed it a cappella for our congregation, twice. We had a total of 5 songs to perform, 2 others that were new for us and new to to them, but only the one had me nervous. I knew we had really pushed some boundaries on what was comfortable for people to hear, certainly on what was easy for us to learn and perform, and on what we would do with the information of executing it poorly or being poorly received.

The song fell in the middle of the service. She was shaking before that song. I started shaking after and shook so hard that my hold torso was trembling a bit. All that fear and all that adrenaline sorting itself out after nailing that song, which was still impossibly difficult to perform and to hear. We sang Strange Fruit, made famous by Billie Holliday. While a musical masterpiece, it is not pleasing to listen to in the way that most music is. The song lyrics are a metaphorical description of a lynching, written by a white Jewish man from the Bronx, after seeing a photograph in the newspaper. My partner and I decided to sing the song facing one another to maintain our concentration and keep our emotions at bay. It was haunting. It was powerful. It was profound in exactly the way that we hoped. And we shook with the effort of getting past the fear and doubt and concern that we brought to the microphone with us.

Let me be clear, we didn’t have to sing that song. We chose it, really against our better judgment in many ways. We knew it was risky. We could easily have found something else, either that we already knew or that would have served and been easy to learn. We could have satisficed. Do you know this word? I LOVE it. Satisficing is “accepting an available option as satisfactory.” Satsificing is doing what you know so it will be okay – and believe me there is a time for satisficing. My husband is preparing to leave town for two weeks, and while I single-handedly wrangle our domestic zoo, I imagine there will be plenty of satificing. Continue reading

FEAR

I’ve been noticing lately just how much fear seems to be in the air.

It’s in my clients.

It’s in my friends.

It’s in my family.

And lord is it all over social media.

It takes so many forms. It comes out swinging. It pulls in tight, withdrawing from all. It spurs on endless chains of logic in hopes of thinking our way out. It fuels our outrage. It paralyzes us. It keeps us awake as it analyzes all of the potential risks.

I’ve noticed too that people seem to think of fear as being of two different kinds. There’s the internal kind, the nattering voice that says: “You can’t do that. You’ll fail. Nobody will like you.” Continue reading

Revolution Not Resolution

Here it comes… I know, it’s weird to even think about New Year’s when there’s so much holidaying to do before then, but it’s less than a month away. It’s resolution time people. Are you ready?

So many folks face January 1 with a very clear notion of some way that they have failed in the past year. The solution is a resolution. (If you’re a language nerd like me that sentence can be entertaining for quite some time.) THIS year I am not going to suck in that same way. I am not going to smoke. I am not going to overeat. I am going to go to the gym. I am going to be more productive. I’m not going to yell at my kids. I am going to stop barking back at my neighbor’s dog (anyone? just me?).

slide2Personally, not one of the changes I have made in my life has came from a resolution. None of them. Not one bit. The whole theory behind most resolutions as the answer to a problem is based solely on action. I just need to act differently and everything will be different. Well, yes, and no. The idea behind action-based change misses out on a critical feature of the human brain. The thing behind your action is your thoughts and feelings. Example: my action is that I overeat at dinner. The thought behind my action: 1) our family dinners are too short and 2) I’m gonna miss out if I don’t get everything I can right now. The feelings that follow are empty and focused on getting it all in. So with an action-based solution I make a resolution that I’m not going to overeat at dinner any more. That’s it. Heck, I’ll even put a sticker on my calendar for every day that I don’t overeat at dinner. Woot. That will work great. Really, it might, for a while. Any of you who have attempted life change by resolution can probably put a prediction on how long that is going to last. Most employees at the gym will tell you 90 days is about the outside limit on that score. Continue reading

Life Skills: Planning to Achieve

Hey Everybody!

I don’t know about you, but as we move further away from summer and a sort of lax attitude about what happens when, the more planning/scheduling/driving around and remembering my obligations there seems to be. It is so easy to have the things that are important to me personally and professionally get short shrift as the pace picks up and the requests start rolling in. There are many good ways to protect our own personal projects and goals; many of these methods involve working on our thoughts about what we hope to do. Even if we’re clear about our goal and have eliminated our obstacles, however, there is one more BIG step to making that goal a reality: getting down to the nitty gritty and planning to achieve that goal.

I have to admit that planning the nitty gritty of my goals has never been a strong suit of mine. I have, in the past, bought and failed to use planners. I have written on and subsequently ignored calendars. I have let projects and goals go to the wayside because I was too busy with “everything else” that I was using my increasingly full memory to schedule. I have relied on intelligence and charm to carry me through. I have given up on major life goals and projects by passively letting them slip away. No More.  My current goals are too big and too important, and having done the internal work I needed to do to give them adequate priority, I realized I needed to learn how to make these things happen. What do I do to reach a goal? To finish a project?

slide2Well, I’ll tell you. And let me just start by saying I don’t have a planner to sell you. No calendars. No special journal. You will need some paper (or a computer if that’s how you’re most comfortable writing) and eventually you will want something to schedule your time in. I don’t care what you use to make note of your obligations to yourself, but I do STRONGLY suggest that you actually mark them down somewhere. My recent education in planning to achieve a goal comes from the fabulous Brooke Castillo thanks to her Life Coach School Podcast. I’ve added a little to her steps to include my own experience and thought process. These steps are not necessarily EASY, but they aren’t that hard either, and they’re far easier than just kind of winging it and hoping it works out. Continue reading

Life Skills: Making the To Do List To Do-Able

slide1I was doing a little coaching the other day for somebody who has A LOT going on right now. It’s all good stuff, but a lot is a lot no matter how you slice it. Her first reaction to a lot is very similar to my reaction to a lot and it goes something like this: eyes closed, fingers in ears, maybe a little rocking, and shouting: “Too Much! Too Much!” Oddly enough neither one of us has had much luck in having that particular strategy actually make LESS of the mountain of tasks, stressors, needs staring us in the face. But let’s face it, 30 seconds of yelling and rocking with your eyes squeezed closed never hurt anyone, has it? Continue reading

A Time for Change

school-bus-1431472I’m pretty sure I complained a few weeks ago when I had to take my kids shopping for school supplies. I imagine those of you who know me well would happily confirm that with enthusiasm. The lists of specific items kill me, but that’s a whole bugaboo that I don’t want to get into. The truth about school supplies is that I LOVE THEM. I love all of them. I love a freshly sharpened pencil. I love an empty composition book; a stack of lined paper is even better. A clean binder full of clean paper with a pen tucked in the pocket – bestill my low blood pressure driven but still definitely beating heart. Everything seems so fresh and new, so full of possibility, so ready for magical learning and change.

These moments happen often in life, when we really are ready for magical learning and change, but I don’t think they’re quite as clear as a fresh binder with clean paper and a pen. Sometimes we don’t recognize them when they arrive. Continue reading

5 Steps to Beat the Blahs

FullSizeRender-11Some days I just don’t feel like it. Like today, when it’s been raining here in Mid-Maryland for what surely must be 40 days and 40 nights.

I don’t feel like doing what I need to do. I certainly don’t feel like doing what I should do, some of which is there on the table getting drenched, yet again.

I have a deeply entrenched case of the yucks.

Over time I’ve learned some really helpful steps for addressing yucks, even when the weather is relentlessly bad. Continue reading