Basic?

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“When people call you extra look them in the face and say, Am I extra or are you basic?”  I have no idea who originated this quote but I fell in love the moment I heard it.  I’ve been told since I was a child that I was too loud and too much and my ideas were too big (to the point of liability).  Hearing this quote completely shifted my perspective.  Everything is someone’s opinion.  What we do may be too much for some and it may not be enough for others, but in either case, we are too often looking at how others are impacted rather than on what it does for ourselves.  I spent many years learning to play small instead of learning to play the game of development.  Worse, I now see when and how I do that to my own child. 

I know what it feels like to try to break through those self-inflicted barriers we create to be liked as a child, as an adult. It sucks.  Everything feels unfamiliar, you still feel like you have the walls around you, you still seek the approval of others because you can’t gauge for yourself if you’re doing something correctly.  The definition of right and wrong go out the window because it’s all working from an unfamiliar framework.  It’s disorienting and I don’t want to put my kid through that.  It’s a pain to clean up after his messes, absolutely true.  But I don’t want to hinder his creativity and his joy simply because I have to wipe a few things down or pick everything up off the floor.  If I’m honest, I want to create a life for myself that allows me the time to do those things, to do the things I want to do on top of it.  I want to create a life that flows with the natural rhythm of who I really am rather than trying to fit the life I want in the in-between moments from work to waking again.  None of that is extra or asking too much.

The same thing doesn’t work for all people.  What excites and drives me isn’t the same thing for my neighbors or friends or even my family.  It certainly may not be the same thing for stranger on the street.  So the question becomes, “Why would I let any opinion from someone else stop me?”  They aren’t ME so it doesn’t matter if they label me extra or too much.  My life isn’t theirs.  They may not be able to handle the things I am able to do because they do not have my experience.  So why would I let their little label stop me from doing anything or why would I let it shift what I want to do?  My life isn’t about them.  It’s about creating an environment that I love and that supports me and my family.  No one else needs to understand—and no one needs to like it. 

Perhaps it isn’t a matter of being extra or basic, but rather finding that acceptance in ourselves to simply be who we are.  That is enough.  Just being who we are regardless of other’s opinions.  Going to the Mel Robbin’s quote from the other day: we will never regret doing the things we love.  Our purpose in life isn’t to be loved or accepted by all, but to be loved and accepted by ourselves and those who are meant for us.  So put your flavor on everything—not everyone will like the taste, but there will always be more than enough for those who do.  And more importantly, you will always be happy with what you make because it will genuinely be who you are.  Definitions and labels are arbitrary because the definition of the label will more than likely change in time anyway.  So it doesn’t matter if your extra is too basic for some or if you’re too much or not enough for any one person.  Just be who you are and that is enough.  Period.

25 Years

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Another short Mel Robbins story.  So after I read her post discussing the truths above, she shared another story (or rather continued the story) sharing that she and her husband are leaving the house that she and her family have lived in for 25 years.  Again, maybe I’m just extra sensitive and sentimental, but something about it struck me.  She spoke of the memories created over that time there, the love, the laughter, yes even some of the bad things and how those are the things that make life.  The accumulation of things doesn’t make it a life, but the experiences do.  Her point was that it doesn’t matter where they are or how attached they are to certain experiences, the house doesn’t make a home, it is the people in it.

In moving into the home we have now (just last year) we planned on having my parents live with us at some point.  That means giving up their home, my childhood home.  We struggled for a while deciding if we would buy that house from my parents to make it easier for them but we came to the conclusion it wouldn’t fit all of us and the life we have now.  I started thinking of all the memories I have in that house, the good and the bad, thinking about how safe I felt there, the firsts I had there.  It was quite literally the beginning of my life.  There was always a lot of life in that house, and as time moves on, my siblings and I left.  It’s much quieter now.

The point is, the lesson is the same.  It wasn’t the walls that created that life, it was us that brought that life to the house.  We are the family, it wasn’t the house that did it.  It was a wonderful privilege to have those experiences in a central location but life isn’t the structure.  And the natural ebb and flow of life is that: it gets loud and then quiet, chaotic then still, full then empty, moments together and moments apart.  It is all part of the experience and no one is unique in that.  We are doing the same thing in our new home with our son.  We are the core and that life comes from us.

This Moment

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Mel Robbins shared two truths about life. 1. You will never be as young as you are right now in this moment.  2. You will never regret spending your life doing what makes you happy.  Don’t waste another day of it spending time or doing things that don’t make you happy.  They say that we have to hear the same message seven ways from seven people before we get it…in my case it might be seven million ways from seven million people (including preaching it myself) when it comes to these truths.   I don’t know, perhaps being sick is making a few things more clear, but hearing this message this way on this day hit me a bit differently. 

The truth is I still spend a lot of my days in panic mode about time and how much of it I’ve wasted, especially when I have those moments of not seeing the progress I want in my life.  It has taken years to even get to the point where I felt safe admitting what I wanted in life and another chunk of years gathering the courage to do it.  I always thought it was a lightbulb type moment when you figured something out, suddenly the light shined on everything and all the answers and ways suddenly became clear.  No more bumps in the road.  Maybe it was too much time with Disney as a kid, thinking the path clears entirely once you have that happy ending.  They just never tell you what happens after the happy ending.  The reality is there is no ending—sometimes the ending is the beginning.  There are still trials and bumps, they are just different and we feel different about them.  There is no “resolution” when it comes to living because the only real end is death.  If we are alive, there is conflict of some sort whether it is enjoyable or not.

The point is, it is a time suck and I still miss the moment, often forgetting that I am capable and able here and now and that this is the opportunity to live and do the things I want to now.  40 doesn’t mean it’s over if we haven’t achieved what we want by then.  That’s also a symptom of thinking about the happy ending: achieving happiness by a certain age doesn’t mean that there won’t be a different goal in the future.  Accomplishing one thing doesn’t mean that will fulfill for the rest of the days we have and we never know what curiosity leads to down the path.  We become hunters of purpose and that is what fulfills our days.  It doesn’t matter if we are 25 or 55 or 85, if we find something we enjoy, then it is time to pursue it.  I was raised that there were limits on when things could be done in life and that you missed the boat if you didn’t do it by a certain time.  In reality, you can go for it at any time.

There are certain things we need to be reminded of, especially if the lessons are long engrained in our brains.  We have to be gentle with ourselves (I have to be gentle with myself) when it comes to how long it takes to understand certain lessons.  Even if we understand them intellectually, it is often challenging to bring them into practice.  No matter how long it takes, the fact that we continue to work on it is something.  The point is to learn it.  All is well in so many ways and, as short as this life is, we can learn to expand those moments out to infinity by simply being present in the long moment we have while we are here.  So take this moment and relish the youth you have, the experience you have, the chances you have.  Integrate and embrace it all and take those lessons and live.  That is the greatest thing you can do.  Simply live.

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for healing.  On so many levels, I’ve been doing the healing work.  I’ve been sick and I’ve been trying to break out of my patterns.  I’ve been addressing the generational things that are not mine to carry and I’ve been working on the inner child work to make sure I don’t continue to pass on negative things to my son.  I’ve been working on accepting myself so I can create the life I want.  This has been a week of unexpected things and some scary moments, but they are all on course to bring me where I need to be.  I am grateful for the experience to allow letting go of what I no longer need to carry in my life.  To step into who I am.

Today I am grateful for confidence.  This isn’t something I’ve carried often, felt often, or experienced often but it is something I appreciate.  There is a difference between the fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality and the actual knowledge of something.  There is always a time to learn, but there is most certainly a different feeling approaching a subject you’re versed in.  Confidence is about more than that, however.  It’s also about knowing who we are.  It’s knowing purpose and drive and having faith to believe all is exactly as it’s meant to be.  For the first time in a while, I feel ok with not knowing.  No, I’m not totally good with it, but I am good with the feeling that this is the right path.  I’m good knowing the next steps are coming and will reveal themselves.  I’m good leaning on faith for a bit.

Today I am grateful for patience.  In this world we are given endless opportunities to be the people we want to be.  If we want to be loving, we are given the opportunity to practice love.  If we want to learn something, we are given the opportunity to find the answer.  If we want to know if we are capable of doing something, we are given the opportunity to try.  If we want to be patient, we are given opportunities to practice and express patience.  We’ve been in a bit of a pickle this past week and my son is starting to struggle with it.  I’ve promised myself repeatedly that I will be calm and listen and recognize what is underneath the outburst, the whining, the pushing, whatever it may be.  Today I took the time to listen to him.  It’s quite simple: he isn’t feeling well and doesn’t know how to handle it.  Had I screamed at him or ignored him, I never would have heard him.  He just needs some comfort.

Today I am grateful for nutrition.  This entire experience of being ill has shown me (again) how important it is to take care of ourselves.  One of the key things we have to do in this world is make sure we are taking in proper fuel and nutrients for our body.  I am so grateful to be able to make healthy choices.  As difficult as it is, the change is completely worth it in order to keep my body and mind healthy and strong.  I think about what this illness may have felt like if I weren’t striving as hard as I was to fuel my body properly and I am so grateful that I have been able to take care of myself in small ways.

Today I am grateful for love.  It can be a challenging thing dealing with family no matter the size but I sometimes wonder if it is harder with a smaller family because all you have is the immediate group.  We rely on each other for the same things over and over again and it can be a lot of pressure keeping each other sane…more like keeping ourselves sane in the process.  But at the core of it all, I know we love each other immensely.  There is no other group of people I’d rather be with.  I am so grateful to have my little family and to be able to spend time with them in love and healing.

Today I am grateful for pending adventure. We have a trip coming up this week for our business and, as long as we are cleared, we will be going.  I’ve been really hesitant to go because we haven’t travelled in years and we’ve never travelled with our son.  It has been a long time since I’ve had to leave my animals and my home and this is also a really scary trip.  This is something so out of character for me and it’s putting the business at the forefront.  This is an opportunity on many levels and I know if I miss it, I will regret it, yet I still feel myself holding back.  But it’s a fine line between nervous and excited—nearly physiologically identical for that matter.  So I can reframe and enjoy the upcoming experience and appreciate it for the learning experience it will be.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.    

Nervous System

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I recently read about the nervous system and anxiety and how anxiety is simply a symptom of a dysregulated nervous system.  For those of us who deal with anxiety on the regular, this can feel like an oversimplification of what happens in the mind and, in result, in the whole body.  It is an interesting perspective because it takes all of the intrusive, constant thoughts and assigns a reason to it: the nervous system is on overdrive trying to protect us from something.  In this case, it’s trying to protect us from everything.  Things happen to us either in some form of trauma or in some sort of support and our body goes in different directions—technically, it is doing exactly what it’s supposed to.  So maybe in this light we can express some gratitude for our anxiety.  Given what we know and understand, given how we develop our emotions, we are literally doing the best we can given our circumstances.

In looking up the definition of “Nervous,” I found this: easily agitated or alarmed, tending to be anxious, highly strung, a sensitive, nervous person.  Also relating to or affecting the nerves, a nervous disorder.  Looking further into what it means to BE nervous I found this: having or showing feelings or worry, fear, or anxiety.  Easily becoming worried, frightened, or anxious.  Of, relating to, or made up of nerves or nerve cells nervous tissue (Merriam-Webster).  So really, being nervous is being on edge, being alert.  Again, the body is just doing what it has to do based on what it knows.  It wants to survive and the mind is telling it that we are in a state of threat…all the time.  I know, this doesn’t help much when we are in the middle of anxiety.  However, if we can break this down to the basic level of constant vigilance and being alert for something, then we can shift our thoughts.

Instead of getting angry at ourselves or frustrated with being scared, learn to say thank you.  Thank you, mind for always looking out for me.  Right now, your services aren’t needed.  Do the work from there whether it is grounding in the moment or removing yourself from the situation.  Whatever it takes to plant your feet firmly in realty and not in the constant flow of the mind.  That flow is powerful enough to drag you along for the ride if you’re not careful.  This is one of those moments to gather your perspective rather than go with the flow because in THAT flow, you don’t know where you’re going to end up.  This is the time to stop and ground.  Remember you are in control.  We can be grateful for the hard things when we understand what they are trying to do.  We just can’t let it drive.

I’m not going to sit here and say that anxiety is good, not by a long shot.  It’s like living with a ten ton weight on your shoulders that floats on some days and doesn’t even move the next.  Constantly being in that state is too much for the body and the mind.  On the physical level the body is over producing stress hormones and doing everything from needing to run to grinding down teeth to overeating to not being able to eat at all, to having intrusive thoughts to not being able to speak.  Sometimes all of this happens at once and you feel like falling down right there.  You feel like something is simply broken. Like you are broken.  In spite of all that, I will advocate for the reframing.  Putting things in a new perspective will always shift the reality of the situation. We always need reminders that we are in control of our thoughts.

Part of The Conversation

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Sitting on a meeting at work the other day, I listened to our VP, AVP, and Director all talk shop about things coming in our field.  I had a moment where I realized that I didn’t really connect with the conversation but I was in awe of the depth of passion and understanding these women had and the quality of the conversation as well.  The drive and desire to have conversations like that swept over me.  I mean, I had a minute where I felt out of my league because I didn’t even know where to go to get ahead of the curve like these women have done—but I found myself wanting to.  I know at the end of the day that drive will probably not follow me in this field, but I feel that passion in other fields.  To be innovative, to be creative, to change things, to share the opportunity and vision of new ways of doing things: I am on board.

The truth is things change fast in our world—often faster than the human mind or spirit can keep up.  We do need to have an element of being a few leaps ahead of the game to steer things or, quite frankly, to make sure we understand what’s happening around us.  Right now, virtually everything we know is changing either because of some systemic breakdown or because of some advancement.  It’s nearly impossible to keep up with where everything is going.  We have to have our hands on the pulse of a myriad of things at all times.  At least for most of us, that is the compulsion.  Human nature is about survival at its base and part of that is keeping an awareness of what’s happening around us.

I found myself thinking about how nice that would be to feel that in my own field.  To feel that way in the things I want to do.  In general, the key is to be part of the conversation.  Not to be part of every conversation, but to be part of the conversation that matters most to us.  If we are passionate about healthcare, then we need to focus there.  If we love space or we love writing, or we love singing, farming, sewing, cooking—anything we love, that is where we need to be.  Yet we convince ourselves we need to be doing something else all the time.  It is the rare person who is able to fully commit to who they are.  While many of them get attention for it, it skews the reality that most people are bound up in who they think they are supposed to be and repeating the same patterns. 

The simplest way to do this is to take charge of the way we spend our time and start making small shifts toward what we want to do.  Yes, that means starting the conversation at times, but mostly, it means getting on board with where you want to go and joining in.  We can’t move mountains on our own, but together, we can sure as hell climb it a lot easier.  Or go around it.  Or plow through it.  The point is, we can learn a lot more by leaning on each other and utilizing our knowledge base than we can roughing it alone.  And sitting in silence thinking we are alone is only going to benefit the current paradigm because that will keep us repeating the same patterns.  But it doesn’t do any good to sit there thinking about it, wishing for it, getting angry or anything else: we need to take action and dive in.  Ok, maybe stick a toe in first, but get to it.  You won’t regret it.

Build a Life

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The evolution of life can be messy.  Actually, it is messy.  The course is rarely certain, we change our minds, new information comes in, we have endless stimulation from different sources, people always have input, we are never not connected.  And this has become the norm.  We live amid expectation of 24/7 availability and connectedness, the ability to always be on and ready.  The body and mind are simply not designed to sustain that type of pressure for prolonged periods of time.  Yet we wear it like a badge of honor.  We barely mask our symptoms or hide the irritation with the lives we live and we miss the opportunity to fully thrive in who we are because we don’t think we can.  I recently heard the quote, “Build a life, don’t live one.”  This changes the story.

The point in all of this is to create our own story, not live the one told for us.  We have evidence all around us that things are not working as they once used to and even more evidence that they never worked as intended for everyone.  We know the exhaustion and constant movement and stimuli aren’t healthy.  We know there is more beyond the game of proving ourselves.  Yet we still have this need to prove we can handle this.  Life isn’t meant to be handled.  It is meant to be lived.  So if we take the opportunity to really break down what it is we want and what we know of who we are, we can find ourselves and our purpose somewhere in between.

Suddenly the things that people tell us we needed no longer matter.  We’ve written our own course.  We’ve created our own definition of success and life and joy.  What is deemed perfect doesn’t matter because we have found what is perfect for us and we understand that is all we need.  Building a life doesn’t mean things are easy.  It just means there are seasons for sowing and seasons for reaping.  It means we have a learning curve and we have to accept that we may need to decide to try and try again to get where we want to go.  Embrace the mess of the life we build.  Enjoy the process.  There is no need to add the pressure of being something we are not.  We simply need to be who we are and commit to that.  Keep building.

How The Others Live

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My husband is in the TikTok world far more often than I am and he shared a reel the other day where this kid was describing ADHD.  The kid said, “Wait, so you don’t have thoughts in your mind talking 24/7?  You don’t have intrusive thoughts?”  And the response was, “You have moments where there is NOTHING going through your mind?!”  It floored me.  First of all, my husband and I had a similar conversation a while ago and I essentially called him a liar because I didn’t understand the quiet of the mind.  It was almost the same conversation this TikTok kid was saying.  My husband and I have this thing about hawks so we had seen one and I asked him what he was thinking—he told me nothing.  I immediately spun into, “That’s impossible, you can’t be thinking NOTHING.  The mind doesn’t work like that, it’s always going.” Bless my husband for not getting into a larger argument with me because he left it at, “I don’t know, my mind doesn’t work like that.”     

I hadn’t thought of that conversation in a long time but I have been thinking about my mind and how it’s been fragmented, thoughts all over the place, not clear, easily distracted, constantly moving, etc. etc.  Then this little gem of a video shows up and it struck me immediately: Oh my gosh, there are people who literally don’t have thoughts constantly bombarding them.  My next thought was about how nice that would be.  Moments of quiet and the ability to process things going on around me differently, to not feel constantly attacked.  I mean, I’m learning to appreciate my anxiety on some level because I read an article about the dysfunction of anxiety and that it’s often the result of a dysregulated nervous system from exposure/trauma so the body is constantly heightened.  It’s just doing what it thinks it needs to do.  However, this TikTok video floored me because I was so ignorant to the possibility of another way.

I started thinking about my family and asking the question, “So you mean there are families that don’t live with crippling anxiety and guilt?”.  This is one of those steps in healing yourself that feels like an epiphany.  I can appreciate that my family did the best they could with what they had.  That’s how we all live.  We do the best we can until we know better.  Now I know better.  For a long time I wanted to be medicated but I was afraid it would dull the “creativity” in my mind.  I never understood that creativity was destructive and I’m more curious about the peace that comes with silence.  I’m more curious about what it feels like to not live heightened all the time.

So I’d like to thank TikTok for teaching me that there is another way and that I will always be learning and there is no end to the journey of things evolving and changing.  Ironic considering one of my main works was about conscious evolution and understanding how to make choices that move us forward.  Also ironic considering we talk about openness here and understanding other people’s minds work differently.  Regardless, the point IS to learn and evolve no matter the source.  We do function differently and we need to hear messages a few times in different ways sometimes.  That was my lightbulb moment.

Quality of Impact

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A timely (short) reminder:  I listened to a meditation the other day talking about the impact we make on this world.  Immediately after, I saw a brief clip on Steve Prefontaine and it got me curious so I started looking up information about his life.  I remember the movie about him with Jared Leto but I never watched it so I honestly didn’t realize he had passed away so young.  The timing on the messages about impact of life followed by someone who changed the story of running in such a short time struck me: it isn’t the length of someone’s life, it’s the impact that matters. 

I’ve often talked about my obsession with time and fearing I’m constantly behind or that I’m running out of time.  The more time we spend in fear, the less time we spend doing something impactful.  We never know when our time is up.  We never know what our impact will be.  So the point isn’t to live with the thought of legacy, the point is to live life like you mean it.  Live life like it matters that you are here today, that you are here now and do the best you can do in that moment.  The rest all comes into play.  You never know the story you leave behind so focus on living the best version of it while you’re here.

For someone like Steve Prefontaine, it became running.  For others it was a message of kindness and equality and equity in the world.  For others still it was about faith and sharing.  And for more still to come it’s about elevating the paradigm and shifting into a different type of consciousness where we choose a new way over what no longer works.  We are so fortunate to be alive in this time in spite of the chaos and destruction.  We are witnessing the rebirth and the evolution of what is to come.  Creation is just as messy as destruction at times.  So don’t worry about the length of time you have to experience these things, worry about what you can do to make it better.       

What Someone Thinks We Need

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I want to talk about getting what we need—I wrote a piece a while back about the feeling that happens when we get what we need and I want to dive more into context around that.  I’ve had the privilege of experiencing some truly loving and giving people in my life.  I’ve witnessed things I wish were within my power to do and I’ve learned to be more generous in specific areas of my life, so I am truly grateful to see the power of being a more loving, open person.  I’ve also witnessed people giving what they think someone needs and expecting something in return.  I’ve seen first hand how this doesn’t work and builds resentment. 

I wrote a piece a long time ago about the people who guilt us with the things they do—they give but with expectation.  Lately there has been a lot of confusion in my relationships about the exchange of energy, things, and what the future looks like.  I’ve learned that people can be generous but that generosity may not serve for much if they aren’t giving what is needed.  If they aren’t giving what is needed, it really isn’t of benefit to the receiver because it is designed to benefit the giver.  It’s like walking in a desert only to find soda at the end.  It will never sustain you.  It’s a temporary hit to dull the need, but that need is always there. 

The act of giving is a beautiful thing but only if it doesn’t have strings attached.  We are communal animals and we appreciate help, and many times we need help whether we admit it or not.  But to hold something over another person’s head when it was within your capacity to give it is not generosity—that is manipulation. This turns the conversation to energy which is ultimately the point.  We need energy and we often seen it in the path of least resistance even if it means taking that energy from someone.  Think about a child acting up:  they don’t care if they are being yelled at, they are getting attention.  This is a similar concept.  It doesn’t matter if we can learn to fill our own cups, if we can make other people do things for us, that gives a false sense of power.  This means we have to be discerning in how we spend our energy and how we refill it as well, which means we need to be aware of the people we surround ourselves with.

Being kind is key.  At the end of the day, we are all looking for the same thing: fulfillment and peace.  Some of us aren’t taught that those are the things we really want so we spend more time doing things to find energy and doing what we THINK someone else wants instead of learning how to communicate and see things from their perspective.  Just because we think someone needs something, they may not need what we have to offer.  And there are times when what we think we need we have to learn to do for ourselves rather than expect it from someone else.  The point is to understand where all of this comes from: it’s to fill a gap/need in energy.  Find the things we need to satiate rather than looking for the temporary fixes.  That is how we fulfill our purpose at the end of the day: learning to recognize our own needs and how to satisfy them.