Just a Few Life Lessons

Slide1This last couple of years has been a whirlwind of personal development for me. So much has changed that I thought maybe I should write some of the big learning down. I had to stop myself at 10 because I could go on for a long time… These are not necessarily in order of importance, just in order of when they came to mind.

1) Self care is not selfish. I am solely responsible for making sure that I feel my best and looking out for my physical mental health is not only not selfish, but is required and helps me give more and give more freely to those around me.

2) It’s not what happened in the past that bothers me, it’s how I react to it today. Everything that already happened is not happening now. What makes the pain continue is the way that I think about what occurred. I have the power to change how the past impacts me today.

3) You don’t have to play small to be polite. Being polite is not the same as never taking a turn, never speaking up or never letting anyone know what you think about things. I can be myself and still be polite and kind to others. Continue reading

Do You Have to Get an A?

A few months ago, my mentor told me that I should be aiming for B+ work.

Slide1Insert noise of record scratching.

Nobody has ever told me to aim for B+ work. The mere suggestion causes the mental machinery to seize up and steam. Why on earth would anyone shoot for a B+?

I’ll tell you why.

Because when you are adulting, oftentimes YOU are the grader. I can’t speak for you. I won’t speak for you, but I WILL tell you that I am a tough grader. My former students can tell you it was true in my classroom, and they don’t even know the half of it. As tough as I might have been in grading their work, I am SO much tougher grading my own. Continue reading

When Is It Time To Let Go?

In response to my last post, on the magic of the word “yet,” a wise friend advised that for many the challenge is not “yet,” but “still.” She explained this in the context of aging, that there are times to let go of things that we can’t still do, that letting go of those things in favor of appreciating what we can do or finding new things to do is more fulfilling than desperately clinging on to what we STILL think we should be able to do. I thanked her for her addition to my list of single words that can totally change a sentence and I have been thinking about “still” ever since.

Slide1For many people, persistence (as described in the post about the magic of yet) is not the problem. For many people (and I daresay I know some of those people really, really well), persistence is a way of life and it becomes more necessary to examine what we are STILL doing, STILL thinking, STILL believing, STILL feeling so we can let go of patterns, behaviors and thoughts that are holding us back. Continue reading

You Need Some Fun

I have a dear friend, who has the gift of seeing the things that are below the surface, the things we don’t willingly share with everybody. She has sensed in me whatever it is exactly that she senses in people and her prescription: “You need to have some fun.” I’ve been thinking about that sentence a lot (because I’m like that). A few days after that conversation, I was at an event at church and the woman next to me, who doesn’t see below the surface but puts tiny incomplete puzzle pieces together quicker than a stroke of lightening, looked at me and said: “What are you doing for fun?” I’m a little thick sometimes, but when the signs come in human form and are all saying the same thing, even the thick among us stop and take notice.

I rattled off some things I’m enjoying lately, and of course mentioned how much I like my work, and she said: “You know that’s not what I’m talking about.” She was right, I did. In this life where my hobby has taken on some elements of obligation and scheduling (has become what I refer to as a jobby), things that I do for the sheer fun of it are scarcer than they have been at times in the past. There’s usually some ulterior motive to my fun. A walk with the dog gets us both exercise, time to read shrinks my reading list for my practice, a night out with my husband gives us a chance to really talk and address some things that need addressing at home, playing the guitar will make the next gig better… You need to have some fun. Continue reading

Why Are You Doing It All?

Slide1It’s been an interesting couple of days. I’ve been posting some questions and essays on Facebook to promote my Build Better Boundaries class and what I’ve found out is that there are an awful lot of you who are doing an awful lot. Let me rephrase that: there are an awful lot of you doing an awful lot for a household of individuals who are capable of doing more than they are. There are many of you who are doing a whole lot for people, grown and growing, who would do well to learn that they, too, can help care for themselves and for the sacred space that you all call home. There are some of you who are doing everything for everybody.

Is this you? Is this your tribe? Are these your people, the people who are doing it all? I have to ask you why you are doing it. And really, to be fair, I shouldn’t ask because I used to be in that tribe, and sometimes I become a temporary resident. I dip in and out of tribal membership (in when I’m not paying attention and out when I am). So, if you prefer, rather than asking you why you do it, I can provide you with a list of possible answers that you can choose from (see how I did that, taking your job and making it mine – it’s like an onion people, layers). Continue reading

10 Ways to Take a Quick Break

It doesn’t matter who you are, how much you love what you do, how much help you have, sometimes we ALL need a break. If you’re anything like I used to be, though, you’ve got a really long list of stuff to do and the thought of taking a break actually makes you feel more anxious than just plowing through (is there even a remote chance you’re going to complete that list, BTW?). So you hunker down, you hunch over, you dig in, you get another cup of coffee and push through you tedium superhero, you! I’m teasing a little, but only because I’ve been there. Continue reading

Making Space

I’ve decided to handle the beginning of this year in a different way than those past. This is largely a result of my father’s death at the end of last year, but this side effect is not necessarily unwelcome. The fact of the matter is that I have slowed WAY down. I am finally heeding the call I’ve been hearing for some time. For the last year when I’ve heard the call to slow down, or when one of my kind coach friends suggests that maybe that’s the song in the distance, I’ve said: “But I’ve already slowed down. How much slower can I get?” I had no idea. I could get a lot slower. And I have.

And so I’m taking my New Year’s self-review and plan at a different pace than I have in years past. In the past that process has usually involved some sort of self-evaluation that revolves around places I’m doing it wrong and then a series of promises of how I’m going to do it right. I usually scurry to sum up those promises on New Year’s Eve so that I have something meaningful to say when my wonderful friends and I have our ritual resolution discussion.  Yeah… none of that has happened, and it’s probably just as well because that process did me NO good. The self-abuse followed by a promise to be a good girl just isn’t going to cut it, and honestly it never has. Continue reading

What Holiday Means to Me…

A good friend of mine has a great story. Early in their marriage, she and her husband took a trip – I don’t remember where and it doesn’t really matter. Point is they had chosen the location because there were things to do there that interested them. The two of them are decidedly different in terms of body clocks and morning. He wakes up like my daughter, pretty much ready to go and get down to business. She, like my son, needs a little extra time to be happy about doing anything.

So the story goes that after a couple of mornings of honoring his preferred mode by getting up and going to do the cool stuff they were excited about, my dear friend began a speech when her beloved awakened her. The speech started: “What vacation means to me…” I imagine that the speech included many elements, but of foremost importance was that she be allowed to get up when she darn well pleased and linger over coffee before beginning the day’s adventure.

slide2Why oh why am I telling you this story? Because I think this time of year can leave a lot of folks feeling very much like my dear friend, getting up before she wanted to so she could be with her sweetie doing the cool things they wanted to do. There is so much going on, and everyone wants to be together (what’s wrong with August for a get together by the way) that it’s easy to forget to honor our own ideas about what the holiday season should be like. The cool stuff is decidedly less fun when we feel that we MUST do it, or when we lose sleep for it, or when the way we do it doesn’t honor our own hearts’ desires. 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

When the Old Patterns Win

slide1Oh how much easier my day would have been…

If I had just said: “I need to go back to bed,” OR

“I’d really like to read for awhile. Would you like to read on the other end of the couch?” OR

“I’m going to put my earbuds in while I cook and listen to some music. Do you need anything before I do that?” OR

“I’m going to take a long walk. Will you please be sure your chores are done by the time I get back?”

For some reason, today I just didn’t have it in me. The new learning felt harder than the old habits, and here I am, with the headache, resentment, and fatigue I had on the first day of this particular school. I spent today hearing that old tape of “I have to do everything.” I was saying it in my head even when there was a live human standing in front of me asking what he can do. If I weren’t so tired, I’d find that pretty funny. Continue reading