I think we get so caught up and focused on needing to know the why's and how's and stay caught in the rhythmic momentum of our lives that we forget what it feels like to explore and play in places that are old, but now new....familiar yet, unknown.
Some people have asked, "What kind of maniac meditates outside in the middle of winter, at the crack of dawn?"
Everything feels and sounds different when everyone else is asleep, and the world is just about to wake up.
The arctic chill hits you the minute you open the door. As you quietly step out onto the wooden deck, the planks make sharp cracking noises under the weight of your feet, the same way ice would sound if you stepped in just the right spot. I sometimes feel like i am stealing away, even though i am in my own yard. I sometimes imagine a run, Forest, run moment for myself...hahaha
One of my favorite parts is settling in to allow all of my other senses to take over....from feeling the cold sting on my face after just getting out of a piping hot shower, to breathing in the light, crisp air that is intermingled with the scent of wood that is from someones fireplace nearby. I think that smell will always remind me of home.
The sound is silent and dense, so very different from the other seasons that have crickets singing their song all night and birds ready to greet the day, long before the sun makes her appearance.
It is in this time that i am alone. I can hear my thoughts and i can choose which ones to sit with and which ones to let go.
On this morning, a couple of days ago, when i got outside, the sky was crystal clear, with the moon right above showing only half of her face, the stars sparkled brightly and danced all around, i was drawn in to watch the show...i patiently watched for a while, captured some great shots and started my meditation.
By the time i finished, (ten minutes later) the moon was buried deep in clouds and clouds were engulfing half the sky.
In the blink of an eye, it was like the moon hadn't even been there.
It was then that i thought to myself...in this moment.
Its in these moments, the moments where i choose to practice becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable, with grounding myself in the present moment, even if it is for just ten minutes, that i am rewarded in more ways than one. That brief moment that i spent looking into the moon and gazing at the stars, that was the only opportunity that i would have to see them on that day. Had i not been awake and present, i would've missed the show.
How often in life are we not awake and present and what are we missing because of it?
Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?
*It is important to note...this experiment didn't start out with these deep thoughts in mind. It truly is my desperate attempt to break the habit of hitting the snooze...hahahaha, I'm just finding that these are just some of the gifts that you find when you step outside of your comfort zone and push the edge of whats comfortable.
Several years ago, my mom gave me a plaque that says,
Do what makes you happy.
For years, it’s been hanging facing my bed. Every morning when I wake up, it’s one of the first things that I see, and every night before I go to bed, it is one of the last things that I see.
Who knew that the answer that I needed would be right in front of me, right when I needed it… guess it’s true, Mom’s do know best, lol
This summer, I was struggling in several different areas of my life…things were not working out the way that I imagined they should (should being the operative word that was effing things up, btw…should usually places an expectation on things, which is typically what is creating the problem in the first place) For the life of me, I felt like I couldn’t solve each problem, and the more I tried, it seemed the issues kept persisting.
I happened to be laying in bed one morning, trapped in a circle of thought, and noticed the plaque hanging the wall.
Do what makes you happy.
Do. What. Makes. You. Happy.
There’s a concept. That was something that I hadn’t even considered up until this point. I was so busy trying to “fix” things, that I totally forgot about what would make me happy in any of these scenarios. I was lost and focused on the problems.
Do what makes you happy.
What would make me happy?
This statement and question were the exact keys that I needed to free myself from the trap that I had created inside my head.
After taking the time to work through and get clear on what would make me happy, I was able to take it one step further and ask who else was is in this mind trap of misery with me and how can they be happy in this situation too?
Here’s what I discovered….
When I’d say do what makes you happy, or asked what would make me happy in this situation, I instantly shifted my focus to creating solutions, as opposed to hyper focusing on the problem.
When I began to pay attention to solutions, more solutions appeared. It didn’t feel like such a struggle, and I could then begin to take care of me, in the way that I needed most; which is exactly what I needed in the first place.
And then, when I began to ask and consider, do what makes you happy for others, and I mean that in a wholehearted way…not a bitchy, do whatever makes you happy, dude, kind of way (I may or may not have said or thought this before, okay, I totally have…lol…but seriously, try it…say the same sentence both ways…two very different kinds of energy going on there)
I began to take the focus off my own suffering and begin to see what another person’s experience is within the same parameters. I could really begin to see their perspective, release my expectations and gain a better understanding of them and what their experience is; with my whole heart.
So, if you find yourself struggling with something or someone, shift your focus to what makes you happy. While it may not change the entire scenario, it will certainly change your perspective, instantly change how you are feeling in the moment, and allow you the space needed to take care of what is most important in any given situation…taking care of you!
I’ll never forget when the physical therapist handed me the 1 pound weights and said,
“Here, see if you can do this weight for the next two exercises.”
Are you effing kidding me? I have been working out consistently for 2 years and was just starting to play with dead lifting a few months prior....and now you want me to work out with 1 pound weights? What the hell do you want me to do with those?
Okay, I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty damn pissy about a lot of this.
Gimme those weights….and I could barely get through the first set of the first exercise…let alone two more sets. And, then the headaches that came after the workouts, because the muscles were tense, were brutal. More ice, more rest, back to the chiropractor, more rest and then repeat the process again two days later.
This cycle went on for months
I guess I’m a slow learner, because it took that long for me to figure out that the lessons that I was here to learn had nothing to do with the baby weights and rubber bands I was throwing around, but had everything to do with the weight of the should’s that I was constantly carrying around.
“I should be better by now.” “I should be stronger by now.”
I should be able to lift more than one pound.” “I should be back to my normal workouts.”
“I shouldn’t be having these headaches.”
“I should be able to hold my granddaughter and not have a migraine for 4 days because of it.”
The whole time I was focused on the pain and the complexity of the injuries, the anxiety of not having an end date to the constant pain I was in, the fear that all this pain and these feelings were now my new norm. I never really considered that a huge part of the story was that I had been in two car accidents within months of each other. I never slowed down enough to sit with the feelings that came from that, either. (big mistake, here)
I was hung up on the 1 pound weights, until I finally moved up to the 2 pound weights and then it all came to me.
The lessons I needed to be paying attention to had nothing to do with the number on the weight. It had everything to do with how I was showing up to move through the process. I knew from experience that I needed to be committed to healing my body and that was not a problem, my commitment was there. The consistency was there, this was my new job, healing…so I showed up and did the work, no problems there.
The problem was what I was focused on and what my attitude was about what I was focusing on. I was focused more on fear than faith, I was focused more on anxiety of things not moving fast enough or in my time. I was completely ignoring the feelings that I had behind what had happened to me. I didn’t realize that aside from the loss of function that I had physically, there was a massive loss for what I had and who I was before the accidents. While I wasn’t maimed or disfigured on the outside, the damage on the inside had changed my daily life. I couldn’t do a lot of the things I enjoyed before without being in tremendous pain. And, the only option was to lay on sheets of ice in the middle of an icy, cold New England winter to try and take the inflammation down. Meanwhile, my brain was on fire trying to figure my way through all of this.
They say time heals all wounds, and I do believe that some of that is true.
But along with time, it takes acceptance of what your new norm is going to be and who you are becoming because of it. It takes courage to dedicate the time to take care of you the best way that you can, even in the chaos of your life before things changed and it takes the will to set down the weight of what should be and embrace what can be.
And with that, I have learned, you’ll be stronger than you were before and even stronger than you can ever imagine.
Where do the "should's" feel heavy in my life? Am I focused more on fear than faith?
Where can I accept where I am right now, let go of what should be and embrace what can be?
I find it funny (not like ha-ha funny, well…sometimes it can be) when my thoughts spin back, bite me in the ass, and I notice it. You never know when or where it’s going to happen, but when it does, look out.
I refer to some of these thoughts as my Uppity Pants. You know those uppity, judgy thoughts we have about how someone else should be acting, thinking or handling a situation. Sometimes those pants can feel real tight and restrictive. Not my favorite kind of pants, know what I mean?
When we say things to ourselves, like, “I wish so-and-so would just ___________ “(insert whatever idea or opinion you think is the right answer)
or something like….
“Omergerd, he/she just doesn’t get it, why doesn’t he just ___________?” (insert your groundbreaking, earthshattering idea or opinion in here that will change the world).
That is when we may or may not be sitting in our Uppity Pants.
On this particular day, where I was minding my own business (no I wasn’t, but I initially thought I was) I was in the shower, where I do my best thinking. About everything and everyone. And then it started.
My thoughts were flitting from one thing to the next, when I had gone back to a conversation from the day before where I had made a comment to my husband about an observation that I had made. I had bypassed thinking about the conversation and moved right on to analyzing his response. And my perceptions of his response. And the stories I had created about his response.
Sounds like a good time already, right? Can you see where this is going?
(It is important to note, that at this point I was still not aware that I may or may not have been wearing Uppity Pants in the damn shower…who wears Uppity Pants in the shower? Bad idea)
Now back to the story…
As I was working myself up into a lather (ha, that’s funny) about how he’s being so such and such, he should notice blah, blah and if he could just see…more hair scrubbing…rinsing…. my brain said…
If You Spot it, You Got it
Wait! What?? There I was, all soapy when it occurred to me that if I can see this or that in him, then I know that this and that is in me. As they say, we are all mirrors for each other. So then I asked myself; Could I be acting this way, too? Am I being so such and such? Should I be noticing certain things, but I am distracted too? (pants getting tighter) Mmmhhmmm……
More scrubbing happened, and I think that’s when I may have washed my blinders away because I began to see that I may be thinking and acting the same way, maybe not on that exact issue, but in other key matters. I could then see where I have had some shortcomings, own them and begin thinking of how I can begin to see things and do things differently. When I had initially started thinking about the situation, I was pretty annoyed with him and the situation, but now I could begin to see how I could have some understanding for his position and how I would want to be treated in the same situation.
Perhaps you have found yourself in the same situation, well, maybe not in the shower but, perhaps you can relate. My question for you would be; what is it that you can learn about yourself that you can easily spot in others and what do you choose to do about it? Perhaps in being brave enough to see ourselves in others, we will not only make better choices in our relationships, but also make better choices with and for ourselves.
It was just a few short years ago that the subject of passion had come up for me. I was having a hard time finding mine. Along with my missing passion, I was also looking for my purpose. And if those two weren’t enough, my mission was missing too. Damn. Damn, Damn. Talk about a wild goose chase that will leave you with just one crooked ass hair on your head.
I had a great business and my family life was okay, but I felt like I was missing out on something. I didn’t know what it was and every self-help book that I read kept telling me to go find my passion. The answer would be found when I found my purpose. They said I needed to have a mission. Listen, my mission at that point was to get up and juggle everything that needs to be done in a day without forgetting where I was supposed to be and to not forget any of my kids at some sports activity or something.
It seemed the more I pursued those things, the further away they were from me. I had no clue how to even begin to find these things. I spent the majority of my time doing everything for everyone else, how the hell was I supposed to have the time or the inclination to even imagine what I was passionate about. I continued meandering around seeking passion, purpose and mission for a while. Questioning, questioning, questioning. One answer would come and seem right, but then it would cancel out one of the others or it all just seemed muddy to me.
Is this really what I want to do with my life? There’s got to be more, but I don’t know what that looks like.
Everything is fine, but I would like more happiness; I just don’t know where to look.
It was so frustrating all the while carrying this feeling of disconnect that I couldn’t explain. Then I started asking, what the hell is wrong with me? Why don’t I know this? Shouldn’t I know this by now?
And then it occurred to me…you’re going to want to write this down, this is a writer-downer…
Passion isn’t something you find…it’s something you do.
All of it…Passion, Purpose, Mission…that’s all something that you do…let me explain.
The moment I let go of chasing the ghost of expectation, is the moment that I could start doing and living those things; rather than expecting them to be something I could find in some dime store bin…like, holy sh*t guys…. look…its passion, I found it!!! Now if I found this here, surely there’s some purpose and mission up in here, let’s keep digging!!!
When I began to live passionately, that’s when I began to feel passion. In my existing biz, I began to become even more passionate about serving my customers. In the relationships within my family, I began to look for what I could appreciate about them more often, even when they were driving me nuts. In my relationship with myself, I renewed my commitment to taking care of me…passionately…thereby discovering things about me that I didn’t even know. I like to nap, who knew? Never napped before, but I’m doing it like a champion now. Just little cat naps but, none the less, listening to my body instead of pushing it to the edge like I usually do.
As soon as I decided to look through the lens of life with passion, things felt lighter. I was living passionately. Not waiting to find passion somewhere. (I hate waiting, don’t you?) Asking myself how I can be more passionate in my daily interactions, changed how I was looking at things.
Being more passionate changed daily, mundane tasks into living in a more passionate way. The second I found myself dreading or resisting a task I would ask; how could I do this more passionately? With all this passion on my side, I began to connect to and explore my options for what my purpose and mission could be. I was open to potential, and potential feels a whole lot better than feeling lost, unclear, and frustrated.
Passion among the missing for you?
Focus on what you can like or love in all that you do, build some gratitude into your day and I promise, passion is not very far from there.
As someone with a love for learning and a need for understanding how things work, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of appearing to be a know it all and always needing to be right. At times, that can be a fine line to walk. For myself, my younger years were spent compiling enough evidence to prove that I didn’t know shiz through my countless mistakes. My young adult years were spent gathering enough evidence to prove that I was not as dumb as I appeared to be by the actions and choices of my youth. And as I hit my stride into my middle years, into adulthood, okay, once or twice I tried adulting, I can’t say as I enjoy it that much, but none the less, here I am… I am working hard at not being right, as much as I am working on being helpful and more important than that, I’m working on being happy.
Recently, I have found myself the subject of other peoples’ need to be right or even worse, their self-righteousness and gossip. Everything from, “Who does she think she is?” to “Why does everyone think she has the answer for everything?” All the way to the, Jesus quotin’, look, guys, I’m doing the right thing, even though other people don’t know what’s going on and I’m going to talk about it to everyone except the person that can do something about it, person.
Don’t be that last person, I know I’m right when I say that’s just not a nice way to be.
I’ll admit, it’s hard not to get pulled into what other people are saying and doing, especially when its triggering your own need to be right, to defend yourself or even worse, prove someone else wrong. Who hasn’t been in any of those positions? We’ve all experienced one variation of all of these stories. When I’ve been caught up in these situations I have found that while I was busy judging the person or the situation, I wasn’t using the opportunity to really understand on a deeper level, I was filling in the blanks with my own thoughts and judgments, and some of the time, they were not “right”, they were so very wrong. I was missing the opportunity to learn and keeping myself trapped in some narrow ass thinking.
The key is understanding that people are going to do what they are going to do, and truth be told, what they say and do says more about them than it does about you.
As I fumble around in my middle years, with more of a desire for peace and inner balance than being right, I am learning to ask myself better questions when faced with the decision of how I will react when my need to be right is triggered or when I’m triggered by what others are saying and doing.
Asking yourself questions like: Is it better to be right than to be happy? Is it better to be right than to protect my inner peace? If the answer is no, then you will know that you’re on the path to creating the peace that you deserve.
I hate feeling behind...that nagging feeling of trying to catch up or keep up. I think it’s easy to feel that feeling if you are alive, if you’re human, and especially if you are a woman, a mother or an entrepreneur… I guess it didn’t dawn on me to think about this until I was at the gym the other day.
I work out with an amazing group of women, some are younger, some are the same age and some are a little bit older. All fierce by their own right. As we were deep into a session, I noticed that I had fallen behind in the set and in the reps. Everyone else was ahead of me. For a moment I got my knickers in a bunch thinking, “damn it, I’m behind. I’m never going catch up. I should be able to keep up with everyone.”
Thankfully that was just the voice of my younger self. Yeah, she’s still in there “shoulding” on me…I should be able to do this or I should be able to do that. She’s the one that hates falling behind. I think it began somewhere in the 7th grade, math class maybe, hated it, but that’s a story for another day.
At times, she can still be pretty critical, but thankfully, my older self knows how to take care of her. As, immediately after I felt that familiar wave of panic and then me pushing myself to hurry up without thinking things through, I heard my older self say, “But you showed up, you’re still in the game.”
By listening to that voice of reason, I was able to get through the rest of the workout the way that was best for my body, I kept my head in the game and was actually able to bring my personal standard to the next level by adding an extra set rather than throwing in the towel and feeling defeated because I couldn’t keep up with everyone else.
So what do you do when you feel like you can’t keep up…be it in your everyday life, your biz, your job, or your relationships? Here are a few simple tips that you can help you stay on track…
Acknowledge that you showed up in the first place
How many times have you talked yourself out of something with some tired ass excuse when you know you could’ve just shown up and done the work? Who hasn’t done that? With that said, that absolutely isn’t the quickest way to getting to what you want. Actually that is moving in the opposite direction of where you want to be. Every single time we show up for ourselves, in the best way that we can, we start to build different kinds of muscles, some of the most essential muscles, ones that only we, ourselves, can build… self-discipline, self-confidence and self-esteem.
Starey-Comparey leads to lack of focus
Quit looking around at everyone else!! A mentor had once said to me, “Swim in your own lane.” That was one of the best pieces of advice I had ever been given. While I was busy looking at everyone else, I was losing focus on where I was supposed to be. My form was a mess, my breathing off and I was not connected to what I was trying to achieve…I was just hurrying through the motions. Think of a time when you were looking at what others were doing and feeling behind or like you were losing out…maybe in your work or relationships; how focused and connected were you to what YOU were doing? Probably not much, right? Keep your eyes in your own lane, focus on your objective and see yourself through.
Being present is key to not feeling behind. If you are focused behind you, you’ll never catch up and if you are focused too far ahead, you’ll worry that you’ll never achieve what you set out to do. Staying right in the moment and actually enjoying where you are right now is such a great gift to give yourself. It takes practice but after time, you will begin to see that you can tune in automatically. Once I shifted my focus back onto the fact that I showed up, I slowed myself down, had more compassion for myself and was able dig down deep and kick my own ass appropriately :) After all, that’s what I showed up to do.
Remember, we can decide how we show up to the things that we are doing. Choose wisely.
Big, big hugs to you!
There are so many similarities between me and my 13-year-old daughter. And at times, we couldn’t be more opposite...okay well, most of the time we are opposite, but when things do line up, I am able to understand a bit more about her and a little more about me. With our hormones raging in the exact same way, our stubborn thickheadedness and our tendency of both needing to have the last word, things can be a little interesting to say the very least. (interesting is the nice word for loud and screechy, like in a herd of screaming monkeys, kind of way…just in case you didn’t know)
While we were out eating breakfast this morning, it was one of those rare moments where there was an easy exchange of conversation, laughing, joking and understanding. It was also one of those very rare moments where I just shut up and listened. As she was describing the latest drama, her thoughts of the upcoming school year, where she was going and what she was hoping for, I couldn’t help but see that some of the things she was sharing were some of the exact things that I am dealing with too.
There is this part of me that doesn’t know the exact right thing to do with drama either. I too, like to work things out in my head about what I think will happen down the road and I’m still hoping for what seems almost impossible to come to fruition for me, as well.
As she was talking, I was thinking about how I have handled some of the same situations and could see how strong and caring she really is, even though on the outside it seems that she is unaffected and it reminded me of how I have dealt with some of these types of situations.
There are times that I will not share how things or people are affecting me, afraid to share my feelings on the outside, worried about what ripple effect I may cause by saying something. And here she was sharing the same feelings, but instead she had been weighing out the cause and effect that she would be having and whether or not it even mattered to her to say or do something about it. In two sentences she had summed up the art of letting go. She thought it through and it really didn’t mean that much to her to carry on with it…done, finite-oh!! Just like that.
So there is a lot to be learned by keeping quiet and listening. Firstly, while we may be years apart, some days, we really do have some of the same things going on (a little more than our crazy hormones) Hell, it seems we all have some of these things going on. I think that truly is a human thing, as opposed to an age thing. And sometimes we worry/stress out about saying or doing the right thing, for ourselves and others. Be it dealing with drama, anticipating upcoming changes in our lives or dreaming about the future. But the importance of weighing out what meaning you are giving things, what that means to you personally and what affect your behavior and words have on you and/or someone else is key. Once you’ve done all of those things, the path to letting go and moving forward becomes a lot clearer.
Recently I caught myself in an old pattern that really used to keep me stuck. I hate being stuck. I really do. I know that we all worry at one time or another, we’re human, but a very common pattern for me would be to struggle into my worry pants right at bed time.
That’s right. Right at bedtime, that’s exactly what I need.
It’s not something that I consciously think about; in fact, it drives me out of my mind, as typically I have a limited number of hours to get some sleep and here my brain is creating a bunch of shit to worry about. Seriously, couldn’t we have addressed all of these imagined scenarios of how everything is not going to work out and how everyone is suffering immensely and I can’t do a damn thing about it during the day, when I’m a bit more rational? Which takes me to the “F” word or the other “F” word I should say.
On this night, I happened to let this power session of imagined calamity go on for twenty minutes before it dawned on me that I was focusing on the wrong “F” word (and not the “F” word you would think, well, that was there too, but it was not the one that had my primary focus.) I knew I was getting caught up in stacking my thoughts, one on top of the other, with each thought heavier than the last. That’s when it occurred to me that I was focusing on fear and not on faith. Faith is a funny thing when you’re busy worrying. It’s almost like its nowhere to be found. But eventually it all gets too heavy and you just can’t hold on anymore. It was right then that I decided to just put it all down for a minute to gather my thoughts. I’m not sure what your beliefs are, God, Higher Power, Universe, whatever it may be, for me the thought of physically handing this big ole bag o’ worry over to someone else to hold, sure does help. Like “here, can you hold this for a minute, I’m kinda losing my shit right now?”
In that moment I could see that that act takes a certain amount of faith. Faith that I’m not alone. Faith that the answer will come. Faith in myself. Faith in those around me. Faith that I will be taken care of and so will whomever I was worrying about. That things are as they should be right now. As I began stacking these thoughts, I could see that faith was the better word to focus on.
Truth of the matter is; we have the same amount of faith in us as we do fear. It’s just a matter of which “F” word you choose to focus on.
As soon as I shifted my focus I could feel the pressure lighten up a bit, I could take that snowball thinking and quickly switch it over to gratitude, which was what I really needed at the time. Sometimes when we are stressed and so busy doing all the time or when we are tired and our guard is down, we forget to remember that those things are there for us too.
What do you do when your worry pants become too tight? (You know you wear them too) What do you focus on first and how do you lighten it up? Let’s discuss in the comments below. I would love to hear about what’s working or not working for you.
Here we are.
The time has come. I'm blogging, mah people (cue up the band and maniacal dancing)
This was such a long time in the making. Looking back over the last few years, I sometimes wonder, what took me so long to get here? What was the big deal? And other times, I can see the work that I needed to do within myself and my business to be able to step into this space confidently.
If I’m being honest, the real answer is most days it was easier to hide. Perfection has a way of grinding everything to a halt sometimes. Getting caught up in my stories of self-doubt, lack of knowing how to do things and distraction, just reinforced my inaction. But there comes a time where you can start to see that your own stories just don’t jive anymore. Enough growth has taken place that you can see right through it all and your own excuses just don’t work anymore. The time comes where you have to kick all that stuff aside, figure it all out and just get down to doing the work.
So here I am, imperfectly me. Sharing pieces of my life, my thoughts, inspirations, strategies and tools in hopes of walking beside you in this beautiful, and sometimes messy thing called life. We're all in this together.
Let’s see where this adventure will take us…shall we?