Success and Sticky Notes

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I’ve been doing some deep work related to healing over the last several months.  What I’ve realized is that I have been the one responsible for creating all the drama and anxiety in my life.  For anyone dealing with anxiety, this is a huge admission—and it has been extremely cathartic.

Most of my life I have lived in a constant state of, “I have to do X” and I would let it repeat over and over in my mind, running wild.  The effect was nearly devastating to me.  My brain was stretched to the maximum, I felt angry, I felt exhausted, and I would inevitably forget things—and if I forgot something, my word did I lose it.  I’d never forgive myself.  So then I would also carry the weight of simply forgetting something minor as a failure for absolutely no reason.  And the cycle would repeat and repeat.

I started looking at my other habits and realized that a lot of this was part of my personality.  In an effort to be accepted and to prove I was doing “enough” I realized I was taking on too much.  Project after project, commitment after commitment.  And then in my down time, I would crash so the important things were not getting done—the things that were important to me.  THIS is what created the exhaustion and overwhelm.  I was there for everyone but myself and I realized that I was expecting them to pick up for me like I did for them. Naturally I’d feel taken advantage of and cycle into anger.  And the truth is simple: not everyone will be there for you as you are there for them so choose how you spend your energy wisely.

And that is what I started doing and THAT was a game changer for me.  The things I need to accomplish are a priority and where there is time left, that is when I look at anything else.  For anyone else who is a people pleaser, you know how monumental this move is.  This is the moment that you take control back of your life.

So I started simply by writing things down that I didn’t want to forget.  It helped because I had a clear indicator of what I had to do rather than rely on my brain to remember everything.  Can you guess what happened next?  That’s right: Inevitably the list would spiral out of control.  I had to simplify.  I had to admit my humanity and understand that I couldn’t do it all—or at least I couldn’t do it all right now.   In order to see progress, I would have to focus.

I had been working from a state of scattered attention so I took the time to write down EVERY little task that I wanted to accomplish—everything from caulking the tub to looking at business school.  Then I categorized each task (health, business, home projects etc.).  For anything that didn’t fit into a category, I asked if this is something that needs to be added to the list at all.  If I was able to fit it in I did, if not it went to a side pile—and then I got to work.  I want to add that this process took a lot out of me as well.  Having spent years working on things for others, my to-do list always came from other people.  Coming up with what really mattered to ME and deciding what I want to do from there was a journey of its own for this people-pleaser.  But the unfolding process of finding what really matters to me is beautiful because I am reacquainting with myself and finding the pieces of myself that I’d left for “someday”—and I realized that “someday” is today.  No one else was going to do it for me.

This process has been incredibly successful for me. It took a lot of trial and error for me to settle on this route and it took accepting my role in my current state.  I was overcomplicating my life with everything I tried to fit in and spinning in circles rather than taking the right action steps.  I also realized that simply getting done what needed to get done rather than putting it off “because I have time” changes things too—and yes that habit also contributed to my anxiety.   Side note: I will admit that the anxiety is still there but it abates much more easily and far more completely than it used to—and it isn’t as cyclical, it has more to do with my lack of patience.  So in those moments, I try to pause and reflect and simply refocus my attention.  I’m not interested in wasting energy any longer so in those anxious moments the redirect is key.

My goal is to improve my life, not to waste it with anxious thoughts and regret of what I didn’t do.  That means moving forward and DOING the work—and there is nothing like taking down a completed sticky note.  The tasks on those notes are not things that can be done in one day so when it happens, it is a big deal and it is an indicator of progress.  I feel a genuine sense of calm and even a little bit of pride when I am able to take one down.  It helps me get clearer and clearer on where I am going and what I want my life to look like.  And I feel peace knowing that those actions are getting me closer to where I want to be.

Carrying the Weight

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Sometimes in this society it feels like we have to go it alone.  Being strong and working beyond our means is a status symbol for so many people.  We wear tiredness as a badge of honor.  We have lost the inherent value of actual human contact and interaction.  We have become numb to behavior that hurts us, others close to us, others around the world, and the world itself in the name of “this is how it is” and “what can I do?”  The single biggest crusher of creativity is the idea of, “we have always done it this way” and the second is, “It’s not my problem,” followed by, “it’s been done before/someone can do it better.”  That way of thinking is incredibly stifling and limiting to creativity as well as to needed progress.  When we look at the course of human history, the ones who came up with revolutionary ideas like hand sanitation, or refrigeration, or even the internet, the ones who suggested those ideas were mocked and ostracized until people learned to see the value in them.

Having said that, we have fostered an environment of disconnected, disjointed, and dysfunctional communication.  We are living in a cloudy grey area of wanting to move forward dusted over with fear and uncertainty.  All of the innovators mentioned above also lived in that state—and they pushed through.  In order for us to create something different, we have to take the leap.  We have to forgo the fear and learn to adjust as things come our way.  We are the remnants of the perfectionist era where there was an answer for everything.  As we move forward, we are seeing the flaws in that time period and seeing the ramifications of the perfection illusion we created.  We are left with deficits that need to be fixed and people who can’t make it on the standards we still adhere to in spite of remarkable changes in our circumstances.  There is a middle ground.  As we are in this time of moving forward while still trapped in archaic ideas, we have to find a way that actually works.  There is not one answer to this problem—and it will require work in a different dynamic.

The point is that all of this starts with relationships, including our relationships to ourselves.  We are under the impression that we need to be a certain way to be considered worthy.  We believe that we have to be perceived a certain way in order to get the things we want.  We fear that letting our real selves be seen will lead us to isolation.  What we don’t realize is that we are already isolated.  We are already cut off from what will give us real fulfillment—purpose and connection.

More people are becoming comfortable with letting their masks drop because the weight of shielding ourselves is too much.  So they drop the armor.  The bottom line is that even if you’re really good at playing the game and fitting in, it’s not real.  There is a peace that comes from being vulnerable and sharing who we are amongst people who understand and support us that we will never get from faking it to rub elbows at the top.  The first step aside from knowing it is too much to carry is to know that you don’t need to carry anything alone.  Find the right people and find the right direction and it all changes.  We can’t change the world over night but as we continue to shine light on those who are willing to be seen in their authentic vulnerability, I think more and more people will see the value in that.

Don’t ever feel like you need to carry the weight alone, even if it seems to those on the outside that you’re carrying it well and are capable.  Just because you are capable doesn’t mean you don’t need help.  I spent a lot of years going it alone, even in my closest relationships.  The people I truly needed help from never once looked up or thought to ask because they thought I was just fine.   They’d offer help with the most banal of things and I’d get frustrated because that was not what I asked for help with.  If these are people who are supposed to be helping then why weren’t they helping where I actually needed it?  I started feeling resentful because it became about misconstruing my behavior as someone who needed to control everything.  That wasn’t the case.  You offered your help, I told you where it was needed and you made the decision that I needed it elsewhere.  Not your call.

I guess the last point in all of this is to find the right support system.  From the example above, this is a circumstance that you don’t need to participate in.  It’s gaslighting and you need to be around people who support you-not manipulate you.  You’re not crazy for feeling the way you do and if people can’t be bothered to truly hear you and respond to your needs, they aren’t for you.

Follow Up On Fears

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In follow up to my discussion about time, I wanted to follow up with some transitional thoughts.  It’s amazing how the universe can shift with a simple decision.  As soon as I made the decision to enter B-School and commit to myself to see this business through, I began feeling differently.

The first thing I felt was relief at being able to call my own shots.  There are few things we have control over in this world and to take the steps toward a goal we’ve had for a long time is indescribable on some levels.  The realness that enters your life once you’ve made a decision is awesome–it becomes something finite and tangible rather than speculation.  That in itself is a relief.

I felt excitement to begin building.  I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate projects before, but this is the first one that is entirely my own.  That sense of potential and the feeling that precedes the beginning of something big is electrifying.

Suddenly things began to get clear.  I was able to see the next steps that previously seemed unattainable or overwhelming.  Additionally the goal itself became clear because that feeling of having to accomplish it all or wanting to go in a million directions faded.  The purpose of the path I chose became the driving force rather than the end result.

Finally, acceptance that in order to fully move forward, I need to let my old way of being die.  I need to let go of all the resistance and the need to shape my life as I see it—it’s time to let it all flow organically.  I’ve asked to grow and this is what it takes to be positioned better to get to the next level.  “Endings are necessary to experience beginnings and beginnings are required for growth.” Vibe of the day—Law of Attraction.  A few weeks ago I wrote about beginnings and endings and to get this validation today after taking massive action was all the confirmation I needed that I am on the right path.

With that acceptance of the need to let go, I’ve also felt some separation and loneliness at work because things are moving around me and without me.  But, as I mentioned above, I’ve got to let go of the connection to this life in order to fully embrace the life I’m building.  I can’t keep a foot where I’m at because that is going to keep me from fulfilling what I need to.

As scared as I’ve been of time and of what comes next (specifically that things won’t ever be how they were) I see now that it’s just the natural progression of life.  There is beauty in movement.  There is grace in progress.  There is comfort in acceptance.  And all it took was taking that first step.  I say to the universe, “Lead on.”

My Biggest Fear

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“I release time and let the universe show me what to do,” Gabby Bernstein Super Attractor Deck.  Time is something I have feared my entire life.  Lovely gift from generations on my maternal side and it’s difficult to tell if it’s learned or if it’s just in our bones by now.  Time is the greatest cause of anxiety for me.  My whole life I’ve thought about how life just ticks away day after day toward an inevitable death.  I felt like every second was wasted so I’d get overwhelmed feeling like I had to do everything so I could accomplish it all and then I wouldn’t be able to get anything done so I’d end up doing nothing and wasting the time anyway.  I lost a lot of people at a young age and it made me terrified of losing people I loved early on.  I created terrible, horrifying scenarios from the time I was 5 years old and used to have complete anxiety attacks just watching my parents go to work. I never wanted to play with friends far from home because I didn’t want to lose them.

The fear only got worse as I got older and I developed a compulsive need to be on time all the time and to track time and be in bed on time and up on time.  I couldn’t even go out on a weeknight because I was afraid of forgetting to do things on time or not waking up on time.

While working on the things I want to change in my life, one of the top things was to release the fears that didn’t serve.  That included the fear of time.  honestly I had visions of what people who aren’t afraid of time looked like and how they functioned but it made me physically uncomfortable to think about not caring about time.  I just couldn’t let go.  I mean, even to the point where I didn’t want to stay at work an extra 10 minutes because I knew that the traffic got that much worse in that amount of time.  It really impacted my day.  If I wanted to start something by 6pm and that didn’t happen, even if it was 6:15, I wouldn’t start it because I felt like it was too late.

So to get this card, it felt like an affirmation that this is an area of my life that definitely needed to be addressed.  Learning to make friends with something you’ve feared is terrifying.  Like a child who has been attacked by dogs, it takes time to look the animal in the face and make peace with it.  And it takes even longer to welcome that fear.  I’ve quoted Liz Gilbert before because she said it beautifully: “I decided that fear can come along for the ride but it can never drive.” I spent years with my fear in the driver seat because I didn’t know there was another way.  I let it dictate my day and everything I did or didn’t do.  If something didn’t meet my requirements for when it had to be done, I wouldn’t participate.  I knew it was a problem.   Working with my fear of time has been a fight with my brain.  I still haven’t welcomed my fear of time that openly because at the end of the day I’m afraid of what happens in the end.  It’s time to embrace it because at the end of the day it’s just a facet of my anxiety—and that is workable.  Everything is.

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for fun.  I was able to walk the dog today and she loved it.  I took my son with me because it was a particularly warm February day and he loved being outside as well.  The fresh air was a much needed relief after being stuck inside for so long.  Feeling the warmth of the sun literally felt invigorating—definitely been missing that Vitamin D.

Today I am grateful for my son to experience new things.  He’s only three years old so he hasn’t been to too many birthdays in his life, and we got to go to celebrate at one today.  It was a kids place where he could climb and jump as well as slide and build and he could swing and ride on all of the things around.  Really just be a kid.  While he’s been to parks before and to jump parks, this was new for him and he had a blast.

Today I am grateful to begin my work with B-School.  This feels like the natural progression of things for me and I’m thrilled to be learning already.  I genuinely feel like this is something that will help me change my life and there is an energy about it that I haven’t felt in a long time.  I’ve been disillusioned with my other work for a while because I haven’t been allowed to do the work I was told to do.  This is an opportunity for me to actually control the path I want to take and no one can tell me that it won’t work for them—this is about fulfilling goals and getting a message out and I am beyond those limitations.

Today I am grateful for some time to relax.  I’ve had an extra day off this weekend and it was a wonderful day with my son.  I had originally wanted to devote one of the days off strictly to my side work and that didn’t happen but I was able to relish in some bonding time with my boy.  That is what mattered and as far as a mental reset for myself, that is what was needed.

Today I am grateful to take things a little less seriously.  I am naturally a serious person.  Not that I don’t have a sense of humor, but I am the kind of person who is always responsible and people come to me with their problems.  It was nice to take a break and just relax for a while and to have some fun.  Fun and joy are necessary parts of our lives and when you ignore them for too long, you start to break down in ways you don’t anticipate.  It’s necessary to take care of our mental health, even if it means ignoring other obligations and just taking a walk.

Today I am grateful to be learning from my past choices and to be making progress based on who I want to be. There were a few times today where I could have fallen into old patterns and gotten angry over silly things or lost my patience and screamed and yelled—but I didn’t.  I consciously made the choice to react differently and I did.  I am really proud of that.  It’s important to celebrate those wins because it took me a long time to get there.

Taking Action- Project Updates

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Hi all!  So, I wanted to give a short update on a few things tonight.  I’m really excited about a few things that have happened over the last week and, in the spirit of momentum and pushing forward, I wanted to share where I’m at.

I’ve constructed a few new projects related to my business that I’ve begun working on.  I know this is something that I’m going to have to narrow down and continue to iron out details, but they are things that I’ve wanted to work on for a while.  After heeding some of my own advice, I’m working on aligning and narrowing down the key things that I want to work on over the next few months.  How I did this is actually something else that I will be talking about in an upcoming post because this is some advice I feel can apply to anyone in nearly every situation—at least as a start.

The next thing is that I’ve narrowed down the scope of several of these large projects to help focus on a few key areas in my life: work, personal/health/spiritual, new business, home projects.  Having 4 areas of focus rather than a million projects has lessened the overwhelm and has given me room to prioritize.

The last thing that I wanted to make note of is that I have joined B-School with Marie Forleo!  I make mention of this project because it is a huge action step toward many of my goals.  It’s a large investment, but it’s one of those things where, when you think about it, you really can’t afford to not invest.  The best way to back yourself is to do it—take the leap.

This is work that can help lay the foundation for a variety of goals, personal and professional, and it’s something that I can work on now.  And really, when it comes to action, why not start now?  There was always the thought of, “I can do it next year when things are a little better.”  For the first time, I really thought about it and realized that I can either have the ground work ready and laid out in the next year (and possibly be even further) or I can plug along and continue to wait.  Why put off until tomorrow what can be done today?

So these are some projects that I will continue to update you on over the course of the next few months.  Change doesn’t happen without effort and I am going to put my money where my mouth is.  And, again, heeding my own advice, there isn’t a better time to start.  So here we go!

Step 4–Getting in Line With Yourself

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Now that your direction is clarified, it’s time to start taking action toward the specific goal you have.  We do this by looking at the end result and then asking what it would take to get there.  What do you actually need to do in order to see that result?  This part isn’t about where you’re at—so it doesn’t matter where you start from.  It doesn’t matter what’s in your bank account or where you live, what your current job is, what you wear—none of that matters here.  This is simply taking account of what you need to do to get where you’re going.  What does it look like?  What does it feel like?

If you’re not sure of what to do to achieve your goal, the first part of that is researching what the steps are.  Look into what it takes to own your shop.  What permits and licenses are needed?  Can you do your work on a laptop or do you need a brick and mortar shop?  What is your mission?  What team do you need to build to help you put the pieces together?

Once you have the answer to a question, then break it down to the first step to achieve it.  Before you know it, you will have created the foundation.  Take each step one at a time and repeat: break it down piece by piece until you can check it off.  Before you know it, you are building the infrastructure of your dream.  Then the walls, then the roof, and before you know it, it’s all together.

I know many people will think this is an oversimplification of something that can be incredibly complex and to them I say THAT’S HOW YOU CREATE MOMENTUM!!  One step at a time.  I’m not going to pretend that any of this is easy because it takes effort and concentration and breaking years and years of habits in some cases.  It takes facing fear directly and saying I’m doing it anyway.  That in itself is a huge hurdle, so if you get to the point where you’ve even begun, congratulations!  The truth is that if we don’t break the complex into manageable parts, we won’t start and if we do, most of us won’t finish.  We think we have to eat the whole pie in one bite and it’s easy to get discouraged when we can’t do it.

So the other step entwined in all of this is probably the hardest: take the leap and go after that dream with unwavering confidence that you can do it.  That belief will put you miles ahead of the game.  Don’t listen to the nay-sayers or to the people critical that you didn’t do it the way they would have.  This is your dream, not theirs.  You will probably have to remind yourself an endless amount of times that achieving your dream is doable.  But those moments of doubt have no bearing over the end result so keep going and keep telling yourself how close you are.  Psych yourself up and get excited because the work will change your life.  It’s worth it, and remember, you’re only one decision away from a totally different life (Mark Batterson).

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Step 3- Getting in Line With Yourself

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Tonight’s step is a short one but it’s important.  This is where you start applying what you’ve learned from the first two steps and start seeing something coalesce into reality.

It’s simple: Get clear on where you’re going.  You’ve started working with your patterns and getting comfortable with trust.  You’ve stopped focusing as much at what other people think and you’re looking at what you need based on the things that feel right.  Once you’ve gotten to the point where you know what feels good, you can start asking more questions to really develop clarity about where you’re going.  Once you’ve established some trust in yourself and your abilities, then you can get more comfortable with defining where you’re going.  So, it’s about seeing where you want to go and then working out how to get there.

Start with questions like do any of these things go together?  Are there similar themes with what you enjoy.  Are there similar themes with what works?  Is there an overarching theme that can drive you in a direction?  If there isn’t one theme, are there a couple of key areas that may work well together?  This is about getting creative and finding the things you want to develop in greater detail.

There is another way to look at it: make friends with your curiosity and try to piece it together.  Yes, that may be an oversimplification for many people depending on their situation, however, the basic point remains the same: find what you like and find the thread.  This is about developing that plan even if you didn’t know what it was when you started out.  This is the chance to turn it into something you recognize and are passionate about.  Rumblings turn to revolutions when you listen to what your heart is saying.

Step 2– Getting in Line With Yourself

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Briefly, step one is being with what is and taking stock of your surroundings and then owning your part in that via a connection with the universe.  If you missed the first step, go back and read my “Get in Line With Yourself.”  The essence of this step is to take responsibility for your actions and choices and recognize that your choices are what determined your current position in life.  If you look around you and see things that aren’t where you want to be, chances are your thoughts are along the same path.  Even with a bad hand, the choice about how to deal with it is now yours.

Step two is where we start to dig in and begin the work.  It isn’t enough to admit your role in something if you aren’t going to do something about it.  In fact, the whole reason you’re looking at where you’re at with such detail is because you want something else.  So step two is about the low hanging fruit—clear away what doesn’t serve where you’re going.  I will absolutely recommend taking the easy shots at the hard work—it’s easier to keep yourself moving forward at this stage of the game.  With big transition we need to remind ourselves that we can do it so take each win no matter how small and celebrate it.

To clarify, step two requires you to start small in order to acclimate yourself to growth and change.  If you’re feeling cluttered in your mind space, start cleaning your physical space.  If you don’t feel comfortable hanging out with a certain person anymore or doing a certain activity, then start saying no.  If you feel really happy, then start telling people or keep a gratitude journal.  If you want to start seeing more positivity around you, discuss the positive things that have happened.  Each of these things in their own right are small but they are often mountains to many of us.  Start the climb.

Believe me, you will feel better accomplishing one small task, trying one small feat once than you will sitting there wishing you could do something different.  This is about surprising yourself with that first step.  See yourself succeed and then take the next step.  At this point you may not have a clear goal—that’s ok.  Just keep going with what feels right. This is about building trust in your abilities.  It’s about building trust in receiving messages and signs.  It’s about reconnecting with your intuition and learning to understand it.  It’s also learning to accept ourselves and accepting that we are enough.  So in this whole process, if your fist step is knowing you’re doing too much, then let your second step be saying no when it feels overwhelming—and being ok with it.

That’s all it is—just start small.  Starting with any step is better than not doing anything.  Trust that when something feels off in your life, that is your sign to go in a new direction.  I start small a million times a day and I constantly remind myself that I am still accomplishing something even if I don’t accomplish it all.  When it doesn’t work out or if it doesn’t feel aligned, I ask again and I start again.  You got this. What are you going to start today?

Get in Line With Yourself

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Following up on our discussion about what the universe gives us being a response to our vibration, I wanted to discuss ways to recognize you’re on the right vibration.

I think what’s most important here is understanding that you are already speaking to the universe and the results are all around you.  It’s important to understand how important thoughts really are.  Every thought emits a frequency that connects to you.  For example “I am” or “I believe” are perceived on the level of reality—there is no way to determine what is or isn’t real based on frequency-it just is.  For those who struggle with this concept, it isn’t necessary to believe that you are having a literal conversation with the universe or anything else so out there. It is necessary to understand that your internal world is its own universe.  You live in your head and those thoughts and feelings reflect in the outer world.  They color how you see things and how you react to them which creates your reality.  So make sure you’re conscious of what you’re thinking–you get to decide how you feel and how you react.

If you’re curious about the quality and content of your thoughts, look at your immediate environment as this is the most accurate representation of your inner thoughts.  Taking stock of where you’re at helps you understand the connection between your thoughts and the results you get.  If you see stacks of paper everywhere or other clutter chances are there is a part of you that feels disorganized and unclear with your thoughts as well.  If your house is filled with tons of things that get in your way or you don’t really have room for, chances are you feel restricted and frustrated in your thoughts.

If the goal is to align with our purpose we have to start small and get really honest about where we are and where we are going.  Then we work one step at a time to close the gap.  But take that first step. It will help you visualize and verbalize what you are feeling—and have often internalized.  Clearing your physical space opens up mental space as well.  Removing the clutter can detoxify our homes as well as our minds because we are cleaning up where we live.  Clean up your space, you clean up your mind.  As you clear your mind, the big picture will become more clear and will help guide you where you need to go.  If you don’t know where to start pick up your room.