Blank Calendars

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“My whole soul is in it,” President Joe Biden, Inauguration Day, Wednesday January 20, 2021.  A day of promise and hope.  A day when we know the deepest challenges begin.  I watched today, as history was made, and felt driven to do the work.  I’ve spoken so much about what I want to do, but it has been an uphill battle to balance out my life to accomplish it.  This is a direct result of choices and old habits.

 I look at my calendar and I see how empty it is.  I remember wanting to keep it full of free time, lots of empty blocks symbolizing untethered freedom. I used to get so mad when someone would put time on my calendar because I always felt like they were taking time from me, time away from what I really wanted to do. I usually ended up serving other people’s purposes regardless because I never set meaningful work or purpose into that calendar.  My day would be dictated to me because I didn’t set what I needed to do.  Now I see all of those blank squares as a blank slate to build the life I want to create.

When President Biden spoke today I was reminded that when you put your whole soul in something, the universe shifts.  Your world changes and suddenly the obstacles you saw no longer exist.  You can’t expect to build something if you haven’t built your time to support what you’re trying to accomplish.  So take the time to put what YOU want on your schedule—you are not a victim of your day or an observer.  You are a participant, a co-creator!  Be intentional.  Anyone who demands you give your time is not helping serve your purpose—they are for themselves.  It is for no one to decide what you do with your life.  We are so conditioned to sacrifice what we want for other’s in hopes they will like us and because we are told that’s what makes a good person. It is not, and it DOES NOT make you a good person. 

There is more than enough for all of us.  We were merely told that wasn’t so; a sleight of hand so others could use you for their end.  We are so blessedly rich and abundant—do ever forget that.  We’ve been given every tool we can imagine—and if we don’t have the tool we’ve been given the means to create the tool.  We’ve just gotten twisted on what the purpose of life is.

Be grateful, be conscious, be aligned, be alive.  All seemingly simple tasks, I know, but the distraction in our lives is at epidemic levels.  We can close the door on the last four years and take a breath of fresh air.  Every beginning is the ending of something else, and I know many are ready for this ending.  So what do you want to look for now that we have settled into the new year?  What do you want to do?  What can you put your entire soul into to breathe life into this weary world once more?  Hell, even if you need to breathe life into yourself first, so be it—but what can you do?  There is always something no matter how small. So start with being conscious and recognizing that there is so much more.    

They Won’t Remember You

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We had a meeting with our new company today—the first welcome into their system for all of leadership.  I couldn’t help but feel like it was the first indoctrination into their way of life—the gentle setting of expectations, the over excited welcome, the highly emphasized success stories, and the affirmation of previous success in joining.  Naturally when you run a company you’re allowed to level set and make it what you will…but it feels like less of a celebration of mutual collaboration and more of a precursor to telling people to get in line or get out. 

We all have unique qualities about us and I feel like as leaders, we need to help people develop and enhance those qualities.  But I feel the system we are in now (healthcare or otherwise) trains us to be the same.  The system values homogeny so it can produce more.  And it hit me, hearing that there are now over 1200 of us, that they will never remember my name.  They don’t want to hear what I have to say: they want me to do the best at what they tell me.  Any idea I have will only be seen as valuable as the dollar amount it may bring in.  It will have nothing to do with my efforts or my work.  I could bleed myself to the bone, work endless 15 hour days, give up any sense of a life with my family and as soon as I put a limit on it, they would find someone else to do it for them.  Another piece in the machine.

Six years ago, my cousin tragically passed away.  We grew up together and we were closer than anything. We hadn’t been on the best terms when it happened because of a series of unfortunate misunderstandings and really poor decisions and different fundamental lifestyles.  One night his girlfriend was involved in an incident between the two of us and it all went to hell; it was clear he was choosing a different life than mine.  After the incident, my sister got really close to that girl.  When he died, she was at the memorial—and she didn’t remember me at all.  This person who had such an impact on me, on a moment that was so defining in my life had NO CLUE who I was.

The link in both of these instances is that there are moments that will stick with you that will have no impact whatsoever on other people involved.  It hurts like hell—It feels like the twilight zone, as if there were two different experiences.  You question if your memory is accurate and you feel angry because of how you remember it. 

The truth is there were different experiences. The lesson is to identify what you really want and to go for it with total abandon.  You can live your life according to other people’s demands whether it is a job or people-pleasing, you can live holding grudges so deep where you’re the one left holding the burning coal, or you can find a way to make peace and accept what has happened. 

It is so important to be firm in who we are, to have a foundation locked in where we can make our own decisions with the utmost clarity.  We have choices in life: be who we are or who other people tell us to be.  Be forgotten for falling in line, be forgotten for going against the grain or be remembered for being steadfast and going where you are meant to be.  Choose you, my friends, always choose you.  They may make you feel like a cog in the wheel but you are the driver.  You are indispensable.  You have every say in where you go.  NEVER forget that.  Because they will, and they will spend their lives finding people to meet their expectations.  You will live to your expectations and it will be amazing. So, continue to let them write the book–or set that shit on fire and write your own story. Forget what they say and who they want you to be–Remember your own name.          

Grey Area

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Part of finding your peace is learning to coexist with what you can’t control—and taking ownership of what you can—Rock and Moonrise.  The hardest thing to do is take the leap when you can’t see the other side.  It requires a massive amount of faith and perseverance because you can never be certain of what’s going to happen.  It also requires an endless amount of tenacity because there are times you won’t come close to making the other side.  There are times you will over-shoot it.  Any life changes we undertake are subject to this rule: nothing new will stay as it was and if you want something different you have to do something different.

I’ve been in healthcare in different areas for 19 years this year.  Going through 2020 and all of the fun that brought exposed so much of what we are.  It brought every question we’ve ever had about where we stand in the eyes of our fellow people under a bright spotlight.  Healthcare for monetary gain, deeming only those with money as worthy, making healthcare decisions based on how you feel that day—it’s so disgusting.  To see people at their wits end, trying to make ends meet, trying to do their best being told that they have to do more was absolutely devastating to me.  The lack of compassion and the outright erasing of humanity in this equation has never been more blatant than at this time. 

I worried for a long time about how I would be perceived by my co-workers and my boss but the very essence of the entire situation came down to a feeling.  The feeling in my gut that told me over and over again that what is happening is wrong.  That this isn’t how we help people.  By focusing on our bottom line, we have forgotten everything about who we are.  We claim it’s about community focus and caring for the people, but all we are doing is selectively choosing who we help.  Now, that isn’t true in all cases, I will admit that.  But I have not once felt like we have the patient’s best interest at heart.  It’s about preserving the organization and the structure of who comes next.   

So how do you continue in a role you know you need to pay the bills while knowing it goes against what you stand for?  I’ve never been very adept at playing the corporate game.  I’ve always been good at getting the job done because I’m task oriented, but I’m not good at the inherent manipulation that lies in businesses, trying to make people do what you want them to.  Granted, it’s not my company so realistically, however they want to run it is up to them.  It’s just incredibly disheartening to know we aren’t serving in the right ways and that the work we do isn’t appreciated nearly enough.

In my role I am fortunate enough to decide some of what happens with my staff.  I’m doing my part to make sure they feel appreciated every day.  I’m taking the time to get their input on how things should be done and to formulate plans with them about the direction we want to go in.  I’m still facing a lot of hurdles because, the truth is, there are already plans in place that were made long before we even knew what was happening.  But I am going to make sure to give my teams every opportunity to highlight what they can do and to create the best opportunities for themselves.  I’m playing ball enough to keep us safe but I’m pushing the lines enough to get noticed.  It’s a funny little dance.

We are real people living human lives and we are all doing our best.  We all slip up and that doesn’t mean we are failures—yet that is exactly what we want to instill in people: one mistake is enough to destroy any credibility.  Being late one time in 20 years for any reason is enough to mark you as flaky.  And those “one time” incidents are always thrown in your face.  We are not machines.  We do not treat machines.  We are human. I’m scared about what comes next, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.  But this is that great unknown—and it is an opportunity.  I’m learning I don’t have to jump the void in one leap—I can make a bridge working with people and we can all cross together.  We make change with one small step at a time.  In little increments with consistent action, over and over again.  Slowly the dark will become light—more quickly when we decide where we want to stand. 

Mid-Month Check In

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This past Friday a bunch of things just seemed to be misaligned—I got stuck behind someone doing 10 miles an hour in a dusting of snow, my son isn’t listening to ANYTHING I tell him, he’s breaking all of his stuff, tech at work wasn’t functioning, and when it did work it was going extremely slow.  It felt like everything was just having a rough start, you know like a car idling high and not moving.  Maybe that was the so-called engine of life trying to shift gears and not being able to catch the next one.  I feel like it was the universe telling me to stop trying to drive to two directions at once and focus on where I want to go. 

I had a moment while driving in thinking about how people race to the end of their lives; wanting our days to be over so we can get home so we can start again tomorrow to get the week over.  How we so often beg for do-overs—I’ve wanted to press restart on my life a million times—but all we can do is keep going.  I started thinking about the next life, how our energy is repurposed instead of focusing about how we use our energy in this life.

I started asking myself why do we get so caught up—in everything?!  Routine, guilt, perceived obligation, drama, needless work, power struggles…what is the purpose?  To appease our own ego? Or someone else’s ego?  We are so consumed with consuming, acquiring, accumulating that we have forgotten the beauty in creating (we feel there isn’t enough room/our story isn’t important enough), collaboration (lack trust or it’s a power struggle), community (there’s no accounting for individualism), and self-expression (making room for our light/needs/wants because it’s perceived as selfish).  I don’t want the light at the end of the tunnel to be filled with regret, letting those I love go.  Wishing I had more time. 

I’ve been acutely aware of time my whole life.  Feeling like a victim to it.  Now I want it to be an ally. Time is a gift meant to be used, enjoyed, filled with purpose.  I want to dance with it.  Experience it.  Live my life and love those important to me while I can.  I’m tired of being caught up, waiting for the right time or feeling like I have to ask permission to live.    

This is my permission slip.  Live my life, be whole, love big, share a lot, smile often, laugh loud, let it go, believe it all, have faith, move as necessary, jump when you want to, take the chance, take the opportunity, release expectation, do more of what you love, feel lightly, be present.  Breathe. Do. Be. Me. Be. You.

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for repeating messages.  I saw a post today about paying attention to messages because when you hear the same message three or more times, it is a message FOR you.  It is something you need to take action on—it is meant to direct you.

Today I am grateful for getting one step closer to building the life I want to.  When I wrote about routine the other day, that came from a place of deeply personal experience and it has been weighing heavily on my mind lately.  I’ve made a list of all the things I want to incorporate in my life, things that define who I want to be, things I want to make my life about.  Honestly, I’ve been one of those people with ambitious ideas but little follow-through because I get overwhelmed.  I’m taking it a little differently this year.  One day at a time.

Today I am grateful for deciding on a healthier lifestyle—eating, physical activity, quality family time.  I can tell you it hasn’t been easy but I know I need to commit.  I woke up and started cleaning and organizing almost immediately.  I’ve been trying different recipes weekly for quite some time now, and I’ve been shifting my diet to a more plant-based focus.  I took my son out for an early morning walk in the snow.  We played all day—and we napped for an hour.  I get to work on this now.  It honestly feels like a much more balanced lifestyle and I love it.

Today I am grateful for a clean house.  I’ve been on an organization kick because we have a lot of stuff in a small space.  I’m making small strides every week and it is making such a difference.  I was living out of boxes since early last spring because we had been trying to move.  Honestly, I was a little traumatized packing all of that stuff up because our realtor insisted that we have like no existence in our house.  I’m not ever going to let someone diminish me from my own space EVER again for any reason.  I will organize and make it work, but I am not disappearing from my own space to appease anyone.

Today I am grateful for maturing.  We’ve had a situation with a few of our neighbors parking where they shouldn’t (blocking our driveway).  There used to be a no parking sign there that someone took down and the association hasn’t replaced it yet.  When we’ve confronted them before they told us they were going to continue parking there and, in short, to stuff it.  Today we reached out to the association because we couldn’t get out of our house.  The association told us to call the cops—but we didn’t.  Believe me, I was pissed enough to do it but I knew we had an opportunity there.  We saw them come outside and my husband spoke with them.  Honestly, they didn’t bother moving their car but I know we did the right thing by talking with them first—and it was sexy as hell seeing him do that.

Today I am grateful for comfy pajamas.  I am so happy to wind down in super comfy sweats right now.  I’m totally relishing in it.  It’s the little things like finding that space for your body to rest and relax, and for me it’s my sweats while I sit on my bed.  And honestly, even that nap earlier… the comfort zone was real—that could have been its own section on gratitude 😊.  The peace I felt as I cuddled with my son surrounded by pillows and blankets and stuffed animals—I felt like a kid again and totally safe.  That was a really deep sleep and felt totally refreshed.  

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

When Your Boundaries Are Tested

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It seems that when we make a decision there often comes something that appears to offer us exactly what we wanted before we decided what we wanted.  This seems to be the way of it; sometimes the universe wants to see if you’re serious about your goals before it opens the way.  The opposite is also true.  If there is a situation that you’re undecided about while you’re uncomfortable with how things are, the universe will often increase that discomfort to push a decision from you.  The universe needs to know what to do just as much as you do.

My company has been bought out and we are in the VERY early stages of mutual discovery and getting clear on the direction we will be heading in.  I know I’m at the point where I’m going to have to make some decisions for myself.  One lesson I’ve learned is that the universe responds to unapologetic clarity.  I know I need my job and I am ever grateful for what I’ve learned as a professional and for what it affords me to do.  But it isn’t where my life is—it isn’t my livelihood.  I want to live a life more in order with the natural course of what I’m meant to do.  I can’t be both the person who does everything that I’m told in the secure life that has no meaning other than to serve other people’s needs and the wild and creative woman providing help and inspiration to others to live authentically.

The conflict comes because there are always things I need to learn and now is the time to decide which lessons come next: being strong and making a go of it on my own, or attempting to weather the changes out of my control—waiting to see how it goes with the decisions made above my head.  Jim Carrey made a speech where he talked about his father taking the safe option in life and losing that job.  He said, “I’ve learned that you can fail at what you don’t like, so why not try at something you do.”  And there it is, my friends.  You can suffer what other people decide for you or you can learn to give your life everything you’ve got.

I feel like the safe decision, while necessary in some cases, can be so detrimental.  We’ve created a world of systems and rules and expectations and we’ve lost touch with our innate gifts, the things we are meant to use to create.  We are meant to build things that support each other—not things that keep us locked into a system.  If we built it we can build something new as well.      

Don’t misinterpret the lesson: we co-create our reality.  There may be certain doors that are not meant for us, yes, but sometime they are just closed for the time being.  Sometimes they are closed to see if you are creative enough to find another alternative.  And sometimes the universe is just waiting for you to decide which one to walk through.  There are a lot of opportunities out there and we are meant to experience as much as we can.  Don’t waste those opportunities settling.

A Children’s Story…

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My son loves the story of the Rainbow Fish.  It’s a little story about how you need to share in order to have friends, enforcing that you give what you have to be happy rather than taking.  That part is all well and good, but in all truth—I HATE THAT STORY.  The premise of the story is about a fish that has these beautiful scales and everyone wants them but he doesn’t want to give them up.  He gets advice from another sea creature and ends up giving away his own scales in order to have friends and the story ends with him being happier even though he only had one scale left but he had all of these friends.

I look at the greater implication.  The story depicts this fish giving away parts of his BODY in order to make other fish feel better and to gain their friendship.  It is so disturbing to me.  This is how we are trained in society: having a big group of friends is so important that you do anything for them even if it means sacrificing yourself.  We need to stop indoctrinating people with this lesson.

Friendship, socialization, collaboration, and sharing are absolutely key tenants to healthy functioning.  And yes, being social and having friends requires a certain give and take.  But any “friend” that requires you give up so much of yourself that you’re depleted or lost for the sake of making them feel or look better is not a friend.  FORGET THAT NONSENSE. 

Friendship isn’t about demanding parts of people to make you whole—no relationship is about that.  It’s a give and take.  So when you’re starting out on a new chapter of your life, it is ok to cut out those people who demand too much or demand what you can’t give.  It is NOT selfish to preserve pieces of yourself for yourself and for the things that matter to you.  It is necessary.        As we talk about goal setting, make it a priority to make sure you’re surrounded by people who actually care and want to see you succeed.  And make it a priority to take back your time from those who expect you to serve.  This world isn’t black and white—it’s a whole rainbow, a spectrum of priorities and feelings and needs and wants and there is room for it all.  We don’t have to live as if one person gets to shine and you have to live in the shadow.  We may shine at different times and in different ways, but NEVER give that light away.  Share it, help people light their own way, but don’t ever diminish who you are for the sake of someone else.  Keep that with you as you decide who you are.

Thoughtless Routine, The Killer

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I wanted to piggy back off of yesterday’s post about habits.  And since our habits become our routines, I felt it was appropriate.  Let me clarify—routine is a killer if you have the wrong one.  One day you wake up wanting to do something different but you’re afraid and the next thing you know, 10 years have passed and you’re doing the same thing you’ve always done—true story.  It’s like a perpetual Groundhog’s Day you’ve chosen to live.  Over and over again.

I’ve lived my life on autopilot for decades, guilty as charged.  And I was absolutely miserable.  Everything was about time down to the second as well as a never-ending list of obligations and to-do’s from everyone around me.  And I felt like I owed it to them for a million reasons.  I didn’t think I was worthy or allowed to stray from the path of what people needed from me because of things they had done for me.  I never used my voice to speak what I truly wanted.  I never felt like saying, ‘thank you’ was enough because I grew up understanding that when someone did something for you, it was a debt that you owed.  So I learned to do things for myself and it made me an absolute control freak.

Everything had to be done a certain way by a certain time.  I would wake up and start getting ready for work when all I wanted was to lay in bed.  I mean, we’ve all been there, but I would literally sit on the edge of the bed contemplating how or why I was doing anything I was doing.  It felt empty and unfulfilled.  Of course I was grateful because I had a roof over my head and could afford some nice things, but I found myself spending needlessly to numb the pain of the fact that I wasn’t doing anything I wanted to.  I’d get myself into so much debt, I had no choice but to work and work and work.

As I said above, I woke up one day and realized that 10 years had passed and I felt an intense grief.  Thinking of all the possibilities I had missed out on—and I could count all of them, and I mourned them.  I got angry at myself and sad again.  And I knew I had to make a different decision.  I admitted that I didn’t want to live like that anymore.  My actions meant nothing to the company beyond their bottom dollar and it hit me with absolute clarity that they could have anyone fill my position in a heartbeat.  So I started changing my routine. Truth be told, this is an ongoing evolution.  I’m still working on developing the routine that works for me.  I still have days where I am on auto pilot and I can’t stand it.  But there are days when I’m in the groove and I’m aligned and it is magic.  I’m finding balance between what needs to be done to support my family and what needs to be done to keep my sanity.  I’m working on finding a way to support my family doing what I love because that kind of work feels different.  When it’s heart-centered and focused on your talents you can’t go wrong.

Habit of the Mind

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I’ve been working through Jen Sincero’s book, “Badass Habits.”  She talks about aligning your actions with who you want to be—we’ve talked about it before—but I really love how she breaks it down.  She talks about identifying a single trait rather than trying to overhaul your whole identity at once.  She walks through the words you use to describe yourself in your current state.  Then she takes you through breaking down your thoughts surrounding that identity.  Then she goes deeper into the beliefs you have about that identity and then the feelings.  Finally she wants you to look at the repeated actions you take that keep you where you are.

The cool thing about this process is you can look not only at your current state, but where you want to go.  Using the exact same steps above, pick an identity that you are striving to become, a new part of your personality you want to make your own.  Then work through what it would take to become that person by breaking down the steps above.  Slowly strip away the things that don’t align with that. 

In short, it’s about focus.  Eliminating distractions and bullshit stories (we’ve all got ‘em…too short, too fat, not enough time, not enough money, ‘I don’t know’ etc.).  To align with Sincero’s premise, it’s about being intentional with habits and knowing what you need to let go of as well as what habits you need to adopt to get where you want to go.  STEP INTO YOUR POWER!!

A good check point is to look at your gifts and see where you can use them.  Get serious about what you can offer and do that.  I challenge everyone to consider what you are willing to change to live the life you want.  Our routines also become habits so it is SO important to choose well, to choose how you want to feel—see above 😊 When you feel your life is stagnant or there is some part you can’t tolerate any longer, enforce that power to choose and recreate your habits.  It won’t all happen in one day but that one step will make you feel better than a million years running blindly on the same track.

So listen to that call.  Listen to those nudges inside that say, “It’s time to do something more” and shove fear aside to break free.  We have a limited time on this Earth so there is no reason to not go for it.  In 100 years we will all be gone anyway so take the chance and do what you are called to do.  Even if it starts with 15 minutes of dedicated action a day you will see a shift. 

Beginning When You Have No Choice

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Roughly five weeks ago I found out I had some health issues going on.  I went to the doctor yesterday to continue the process of following up and determining next steps/finding conclusive answers.  I am so grateful that I got positive news that guided me in the right direction.  I also got some unexpected news that essentially put the issues squarely in my court.  Meaning I am going to have to take decisive action to make sure that I stay healthy—it’s a choice and it is something I’m going to have to commit to.  It is completely manageable—as long as I do what I need to.

I’m actually thrilled about it because it isn’t anything that I can’t take care of.  But it is a huge lesson in accountability.  From now on anything that happens is a direct result of what I do, and that is the perfect place to start any endeavor. Understand your role in the choices you make and where it’s taking you.  The other side of this is the personal toll and doing some real soul searching.  You see, the issues I’ve been having are not a result of what I thought they were—hormonal issues to put it simply.  This means that all those years of dealing with the feelings I’ve had, the emotions, the fluctuations were all engrained in me—they were not organic.

Again, it is a good thing because I have the option to make things different.  But I feel sadness that I didn’t recognize it earlier.  I think of all the pain I caused, the anger I felt, the sadness I felt as a result of my actions.  I feel guilt that that I behaved in a way I thought was justified and regret that I may not be able to explain it to anyone.  I also feel a tremendous sense of loss because I clearly made wrong decisions from ego that could have been different, could have changed the course of my life. 

I know this isn’t uncommon and we all have to come to terms with our demons.  I just didn’t expect a physical condition to bring them so clearly to light for me.  I’m not perfect and I accept that.  But I know I’m supported in working through this.  They say we face the same lessons until we learn them.  I feel terrible that I thought I would be able to excuse some of my behavior with a medical condition.  But I am so grateful to have the chance to make it right—or at least try to.  I’m also grateful to reaffirm that this all starts with us.  That we need to dig deep and find that truth inside of ourselves.  I am human and I have made the wrong choices previously but I am learning from them every day.  Those days that I’m feeling regret over now are honestly lessons in humility and witnessing the grace of others. 

When things aren’t what you think they are, or when they don’t go how you think they are supposed to, that is often a mirror being held up for you to witness what it is inside that needs to be addressed.  For me, it’s many of the ideas I’ve been sharing already—witness the self, accept the imperfections, learn from the failures.  I’ve felt at home speaking about it for years and I’ve so often seen the need for so many people to examine themselves.  That is my mirror.  That is what I need to witness and work on—putting into practice what I preach.