It’s Your Room

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“I belong in every room I am invited to,” Myliek Teele.  The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging mentally and emotionally.  A true test and a real indicator of the work I need to do to heal the emotional reactivity…but that’s a story for another day.  So, at work it’s been made very clear that one of the departments I run isn’t a priority.  I’ve been told, “Not to degrade what you do, but this is something that can be left alone.”  Additionally, I’ve been struggling with communication in another department I oversee because I haven’t gotten the full training I need.  No matter what you do there is an element of ego to it because you’re being told the work you do is irrelevant.  I took it to heart for a minute and then I let it digest.  This is a professional opportunity.

I wrote an email to my boss after a miss on our side and I let her know exactly what I needed.  I could have phrased some of it better, yes, but when it comes to my livelihood, don’t put the onus of failure on me if you haven’t given me the tools and you haven’t communicated the expectation.  So I level set with her.  I laid out exactly what I expected as an employee in order to facilitate and follow through on my work.  She didn’t take it well and this is where communication is key.  It isn’t easy leading people but in order to do it effectively, you need to express what is needed.  In this case, we didn’t speak.  We had viewed the incident differently and reacted differently—me not up to her expectation.  After speaking about it we did come to a resolution and are working on a plan to bring things up to speed.

Now, I share this story because I went into a DEEP spiral.  I mentioned a few weeks ago about all of the things I’m juggling so I’ve already been on edge.  I’ve already been hard on myself for not living up to my expectations, for underestimating the time and the energy it takes to do what I do.  But it’s a weird balance because so much of what I’m doing outside of work is what I WANT to do so I’m making the time to do it.  Regardless, when my boss and I had this conversation, I felt like a complete failure, especially as she used words like, “Disappointed” and “dropped the ball.”  This is the first incident that has happened like this in my tenure and I felt that a lot of it needed to be put in perspective.  So as I was sitting there, berating myself, logging on the next morning struggling to balance work and time with my kid, I had a melt down.  I ugly cried and heaved and snotted everywhere.  And then I pulled myself together.

I had the conversation with my boss regarding my email and I told myself there are other options out there.  I do not need to continue like this.  Yes, I have responsibilities, but I do not need to settle for something that degrades me and makes my soul feel heavy, something that puts my entire being and life on the back burner for the sake of others—needlessly.  I took a moment to recognize, again, all that I AM doing and all that I have been doing well.  And I asked for a sign for the next step—I’m still not seeing it, but I know it’s there.  I know, after going through that LONG list of what I’m working on and what is going well that I do belong in the room.  One person’s perception isn’t enough to deter me from doing what I need to do.  It’s a sign to go where I am needed.  If I’m there, it’s for a reason.  I have work to do. 

So for anyone dealing with a stressful situation or even a lack of confidence, this is your reminder that if you got there, you belong there.  If you were asked there, you are needed there.  If they want to hear you, your words have value.  And even if they don’t, then you will find the right room.  I’m really having a hard time letting go because I have a vision.  But that is exactly why I need to.  When you cling that tightly, one person can say something that derails the whole thing and you forget why you’re there.  You are worthy no matter what.  You are worthy.  It doesn’t matter if they forget—you need to always remember that you belong.  Take your space.  We all make mistakes and that isn’t a reason to bail.  It’s a reason to show them the rally and why you were invited in the room in the first place. 

No One Knows

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“The older I get, the more I realize no one has any idea what they are doing and everyone is just pretending,” unknown.  This one gets me every time.  When I was a kid, I thought my parents literally knew everything.  I thought every adult around me just got “it” and was successful.  I spent so much of my young adulthood looking for the more experienced adults because I didn’t feel qualified enough to make any decisions.  And then the truth slowly revealed itself: people are doing their best version of guess and check every day. 

We are all playing a game that was created over two centuries ago and no one really understood it in the first place.  It was designed for a much smaller group of people, and through some wildly misinterpreted game of telephone, we are following some rules that are watered down versions of themselves that no one who originally wrote it can interpret anymore.  Oh,  and we knew a hell of a lot less back then because, you know, technology limitations, so things that fit then simply DON’T fit today.

All of that is to say, no one knows anything.  They know a little bit about what they are told they should do, but we are ALL simply trying to float through the day.  We go out into the world to make it seem like we are doing something productive and then we make our way home to our safe little next, hoping to get there unscathed.  Then we numb ourselves because we’ve forgotten the point of living entirely.  And I realize…this is exactly the same pattern my parents and all of those adultier adults did when I was a kid.  So why do we put this insane pressure on ourselves to get our lives “right”?  I also find it ironic that, if you really ask people, they all feel this way.  No one knows what they’re doing so why do we keep pretending we do?

I think the easiest concept is to live kindly.  Understand we are all doing our best.  But putting that into practice is challenging because we are all living at different levels, coming from different experiences.  And even I will admit that sometimes, doing your best isn’t enough—for example, you can’t just wing it when you drive.  There are millions of other people on the road and vehicular manslaughter is a bad thing, so there are standards you need to follow there.  But living with more compassion IS something we can all do.  We can strive to educate and help each other do better.    

So what if we stop teaching our kids that we know it all—especially when we know we don’t know it all?  I mean, the balance of power would greatly shift in their favor because kids know a lot more about the meaning of life than we do.  But what if there is a happy medium?  What if we incorporated more of the joy for life with direction?  And what if we made joy our purpose?  Yes, everything we know it could potentially fall apart…but I believe that only the pieces that no longer serve would fall away.  So what if we let the systems break and what if we started our own game?  One designed for today.  I’d rather us figure it out together than keep each other held to some ridiculous standard from 200 years ago that is no longer applicable.  So…are you brave enough to admit what you don’t know? 

Unlock the Cage

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“My grandmother was in line to be shot into a pit.  She said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?’  He said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will.’ And she stepped out of line.  For that, I am here, and my children are here.  So step out of line, ladies.  Step out of line,” Alex Borstein.  For so many of us we live under the obligation of what we “have” to do, or are “supposed” to do.  Sometimes it’s in between what we feel obligated to do and what we want to do, neither side quite getting enough water and leaving us feeling split and exhausted.  I don’t want to lessen the impact of what Alex says, or disrespect anyone who endured the holocaust, but I want to apply the quote more globally—we aren’t facing life or death situations as she describes here, but it still applies.  We keep ourselves in line every day, responding to the alarm and getting up and going to a job that we don’t always love, sit through traffic, come home, get lost in distraction, sleep, and do it all over again. 

We are choking the life out of ourselves rather than someone actually threatening us.  And all we have to do is decide if we let them keep their hands around our necks or if we wake up and realize they were never touching us in the first place—it was us all along.  Alex encourages us to step out of line.  Yes, it is terrifying.  What if someone sees us?  People will tell us all the time that we need to do as we are told and play it safe.  I’ve done that my whole life.  But when we look at the perceived safety, we also have to weigh what we are giving up.  Not many people are taught about the possibilities in this world.  If they figure it out for themselves, they have to battle the tide and learn to make their way on their own support.  But there is always a way shown to us if we take the leap. 

For women in particular, stepping out of line can be challenging.  There is an entire subset of rules that we have to follow because of our gender.  Over a 100 years after being granted suffrage, nearly 70 years after women’s lib, we are STILL enduring inequality on the basis of what’s between our legs.  So when Alex talks about stepping out of line, I want to apply it to breaking the bullshit molds and constraints placed upon us as women.  No matter what women do, it’s wrong.  A working mother can’t take care of her kids, and a stay at home mom is lazy, while a mom who disciplines her kids is going to scar them, and a mom who lets’ her kids run and explore is negligent, or a woman who is open sexually is a slut, while the conservative is prude, or a boss is a bitch, and we are never more than one thing, and we still have little say in what happens with our own bodies whether it is being treated for endometriosis (I mean, suck it up, it’s just a little pain, right?) or birthing children.      

We live under the pressure of a society that feels our place is beneath them.  We live under our own pressure to perfect and prove that we are worthy.  We live in cages built of our own fears and the limitations we’ve allowed to be placed on us.  All of this while knowing we are capable of so much more.  All of this while forgetting we hold the key to the damn door that will free us immediately—our own minds have to be willing and ready to set us free.  As Alex says, step out of line.  If you feel there is something more for you, there IS.  There are infinite worlds available to us in the corners of our minds.  Don’t waste your life waiting for someone to set you free—unlock the damn door and walk out.

Somewhere Else

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How can you enjoy life if you always want something else?  My ADD brain went there on a drive this past weekend.  We were in the car, it was a gorgeous day and we were heading toward the store.  The entire time, I kept going over the things we needed at the store.  It hit me, I’m not even in my body in this moment.  The weather is perfect, it’s a gorgeous Saturday, and I’m not even enjoying the moment.  I have a shopping list, with me, why am I obsessing over it and then why am I thinking about work on top of it?!  I had a brief epiphany—I have never been fully present in my entire life.  I nearly always want to be somewhere other than where I’m at.  Even if I don’t really feel that way (like if I’m doing work I actually enjoy doing) my brain starts kicking in with all of the other things I need to be doing.  Being pulled in that many directions is unsettling and takes away from the joy of where we are.

I want to be able to enjoy my life and that means being present.  If I have a moment of inspiration and need to write, then I need to be able to do that.  If I want to hang out with my kid or go for a bike ride with him, I need to be able to do that.  I don’t want to be at the constraints of someone else, or someone else’s goals.  We have a finite about of time here and I think that is why I allow myself to get so distracted.  I’m trying to fit two lives into one.  I need one to support and sustain us but I need one to keep me thriving mentally and to fulfill my purpose.  That is where the disconnect happens.  I never get to do exactly what I want and I always feel guilty and obligated to be doing something else. 

When you dedicate a third of your day to someone else’s dreams, that limits the time you have to work on your own so there is a sense of urgency and pressure to find time to do what you want to do.  The best advice that I struggle to take is slowing down.  There isn’t anything we can do about the time we have in a day, but we can be intentional about how we use it.  Setting specific time and creating blocks to achieve work allows us to take action toward a goal.  In order to do that we have to slow down and really look at what we are trying to accomplish.  We have to get in touch with who we are and listen to what we need to do, what we are called to do.

We see the details and the truth of who we are when we listen to that voice.  We learn to enjoy through presence and attentiveness and fulfilling what we are meant to.  We enjoy by embracing fully who we are and living unapologetically.  We enjoy life when we are fulfilling our purpose and not someone else’s.  If we are always between where we are and what we want to be doing, we miss a lot of life.  We don’t see what is in front of us because we are fantasizing about something else.  But when we start feeling the mind wander and feel those pulls to be doing something else, we can take that as a sign to decide and to re-focus on what we DO want.  We can’t live two lives, we aren’t designed that way.  The brain isn’t built like that.  But we can decide to let go of what we don’t want and pick up who we are.  That is how you enjoy life: take what you need, fulfill your purpose, stay true to yourself, and let the rest go.  Live.   

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for painful truths.  There is nothing more equalizing/sobering/humbling than finding out the truth about how other people feel.  We have no say in how people think about us or what story they tell themselves about us (and there is a good reason for that).  But there are times we may have a suspicion that the surface isn’t entirely true and then we may get a glimpse in the form of an off comment, something that sticks out.  They may try to brush it off as humor, but we know there is a bit of truth in every “joke,” even the ones at our expense.  Yes, it is painful, especially when it’s someone you trust, or someone you thought was clear on how they felt and you find it was the opposite.  But it gives you exactly what you need to level-set.  The truth puts you in reality and allows you to move forward.  You can’t move forward if you’re not starting from where you are.  Honesty gives you a foundation, so let your little tower fall and build anew.  You want something authentic anyway—at least I do. 

Today I am grateful for time to myself.  My husband left the house early to go fishing.  After an emotionally tough week, I’ve felt like I ran a marathon.  My mind is tired and confused.  I’ve felt a deep calling to do nothing and recharge.  A deep sense that I need to ground and connect.  I’ve spent so many years living up to people’s expectations and doing what they want me to that I have spiraled out into confusion about what I really need.  When you are striving to create a new life, there is a period where you are straddling the old life and trying to walk into the new life.  We can only stretch so much before we have to let go of something.  So having some time to pause and really reflect on what I need to do is helpful.

Today I am grateful to take a moment to recognize what is good about me.  This past week really weighed me down and had me questioning my worth.  The echoing words of someone close to me being “disappointed in my actions” kept flowing through my head and that just led to replaying every crappy thing I’ve ever done and feeling completely worthless.  As I’m taking time to re-center and decide what I need to do next, I listened to Mel Robbins as she is promoting her High 5 Habit right now.  She talks about how hard we are on ourselves and it hit me in that moment I’ve never taken the time to really respect and appreciate all I’ve done.  Maybe THAT is why people feel it’s ok to undermine me: I undermine myself by downplaying my achievements.  I’m balancing quite a load of stuff and trying my best to keep it all level.  But I’m seeing it isn’t meant to be level.  So I will start with I’m proud of my skill to re-evaluate what is important.  I’m proud of my ability to re-frame events that have happened. I’m proud of my dedication to finding the truth, not what is convenient to get a middle ground.  I’m proud I still have the ability to see what is good around me in spite of what’s happening.     

Today I am grateful for my resilience.  My presence in this world has felt tenuous at best, like I’ve been on borrowed time.  Like I don’t belong in any room I’ve been in (I have a piece on that coming up).  I’ve tried to prove my worth to so many people, people I never even knew.  I’ve worked twice as hard as some for a quarter of the recognition, and even then, I’m not taken seriously.  So I’ve spent a lot of my time living a very serious life, making serious decisions, and taking on serious tasks all to prove I’m capable.  I know there are people who have had it far worse than I have and I will NEVER undermine true tragedy for my fragile ego—but I can no longer discount the damage that amount of work and ridicule and the energy spent trying to find validation has done to me.  I’m grateful for the strength to stand up and try new things.  I’m grateful for the capacity and capability to do what is right for me.  It may not look how I want it to, but fuck it, I will do it on my own.     

Today I’m grateful to recognize where I’m at.  Granted it’s not where I want to be, but seeing the reality of where I’m at gives me space to move forward.  That has always been one of my tools.  When it gets too overwhelming or there is too much input or confusion, I stop and gather my bearings.  Right now, that’s what I’m in the process of doing.  All of this hurt is leading me to something.  It’s pointing something out.  And that is something I need to work on and address, in me.  I’m working on finding the nerve that all of this hit, the nerve that has been so exposed for the last few weeks.  I can move forward and heal from there.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.

How To Live

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“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when.  But you can decide how you’re going to live now,” Joan Baez.  I’ve been spending more and more time evaluating what is important to me and how I want to spend my time.  I’m still filled with guilt every time I do something I’m not supposed to.  Like if I’m working at my 9-5 and some inspiration hits so I take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts.  But the truth is, no one has ever policed me and I’ve always been a high performer.  So why do I waste time that I have now to feel bad about what I’m doing now?  The only way I’m ever going to change myself and my circumstances is by taking action aligned with what I need to be doing.  From time to time that means jumping on the inspiration when I need to. 

I’ve heard it said that at the end of your life you don’t regret what you did do, you regret what you didn’t do.  I used to live in a state of feeling like I constantly needed to be perfect because we only have one shot at this life.  I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.  And then as I started doing some deeper work, I realized that I was disappointing myself more than anyone.  I wasn’t embracing things I valued like taking chances and having fun and developing things I wanted to.  In spite of preaching it constantly, I missed the point that we each have our own purpose in this world and I spent my time helping others fulfill their purpose instead of recognizing my own. 

There is a certain fulfillment and reward in helping others, but the regret from not focusing on your own goals is heavy.  We are trained that it is selfish to work on our own things but how on Earth are we to improve anything if we don’t spend time developing what we need to in order to contribute and sustain ourselves?  The needs of society as a whole are shifting and we have to shift our expectations as well.  It is not selfish to develop personal creativity or personal service in order to provide needed support in a way that is aligned with who you are.  End of story.

To circle back to regret, It’s an empty feeling at first, and maybe even a little angering or sad, when you see how much time you’ve spent on someone else’s dream or living to their expectations.  The truth is we are all on a clock that we never know when it runs out.  And being a society that lives on either end of the spectrum, that can illicit fear and make us selfish that we have to obtain as much as we can with the time we have or it makes us lost.  We have to put the meaning into what we do.  We have to feel our way through what is right for us.  And we aren’t trained to manage our emotions any longer.  We aren’t taught to feel and respond to them, we are taught to ignore them or control them.  And there is a difference between management and control.  Management means you are working with them to guide yourself through.  Control means you’re forcing something to behave according to expectations. 

So.  Live with no regrets.  You do not need permission to live your life as you see fit.  Live aligned with what matters to you and let the rest fall into place.  You are who you are meant to be and the world needs you to be that person as well.  Embrace that person and express that identity fully.  Don’t waste your time trying to be something you’re not or making others into what they are not. Choose yourself every day because you can either spend your life happy that you’ve attempted to go after your dreams or you can look back and wish you had.  The only thing for certain is our time is finite—so make the best of it.  And make the most of it. 

Different Ways of Healing

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A quick note on healing.  One of my neighbors made a comment about getting together and she said, “no littles were allowed,” referencing my son.  It’s not the first time this has happened and I got angry.  She doesn’t know what I went through to bring my kid into the world.  I did not have a child to let him raise himself.  SO.  I drew some cards and they said the greatest experience of freedom is in letting go of what others think of me.  And I’m worthy of feeling good and the universe works fast when we’re having fun.

Those cards were a perfect reminder (and perfectly timed) that our timing is just different.  We are allowed to be at different points in our lives.  She can think what she wants—it doesn’t change MY life.  She had kids early, we did not.  We explored and spent time with each other and learned what we wanted to do with our lives.  So yes, she did spend her early years with her child—we are enjoying that time with our son now because these are HIS early years. 

After reading the cards, I found myself thinking, “If she can’t accept the whole package, my family including my son, then we aren’t meant to be in each others lives that way.  I’m ok with that.  This time I am not adapting my life to someone else’s expectations.  Certainly not with my son—he isn’t going anywhere.  This is who and where I am—meet me or leave me, I’m on MY path. 

I’ve spent my whole life trying to be accepted.  Bending and contorting for whoever I meet while they took what they needed and never reciprocated.  I’m tired of the show.  I’m getting off the performance train and I’m being who I am.  I know my priorities: me and mine—especially my son. 

In the way the universe works, I had a meeting this morning after reading those cards and one of the main people we needed didn’t show up.  At first I felt angry—again.  I wasted time, energy, and gas getting out there and I didn’t even get a message that he couldn’t make it until after I was there.  I’m grateful now, though.  It shows me that if I can be dismissed, if I can contort my life to fit and accommodate EVERYONE else, have my time labeled as invaluable, then I can reclaim it.  That isn’t tit for tat, but it IS about maintaining boundaries. 

I can relax more.  I’m living my path and those who want to join welcome. Those who don’t or who don’t respect where I’m at, you need to make way.  I don’t need to meet anyone’s expectations or demands but my own.  Build my life around MY life.  I don’t need to jump at anyone’s beck and call—NO ONE DOES.  I have a say in what I allow in my life.  Period.  And THAT feels amazing.   

Broken V. Blocked

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“You aren’t broken, you’re just blocked.  Shift your focus from what you’re trying to fix to what you’re trying to create,” Mel Robbins.  The last few days I’ve been really struggling with my writing.  I’ve been struggling with my focus and motivation.  I’ve been struggling to feel like I was doing anything worthwhile.  All this time I’ve been wanting to motivate people to find what calls them and to abandon the lies we tell ourselves about why we can’t achieve our goals and now, I couldn’t find the words.  Even taking breaks felt futile because it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.  What the hell did I want to be doing?  Nothing felt….right.  And then this quote came along.

Sometimes, even when we are in the throws of creativity, we hold on so tightly to the vision of what we want something to look like that we lose sight of what is right in front of us.  We crush what we are nurturing with the weight of our expectations.  And the more we struggle to move forward, the more we bury ourselves and block the potential ways out.  That’s what I was doing.  I’ve been moving through my days like I’m running out of time.  Constantly worrying about everything.  Trying to fit it in.  Trying to find a schedule that works for me.  Trying to still prove that I’m productive at my 9-5 as well as capable of running a business.  But if we don’t allow the process and if we try to confine it to what we think it needs to look like, we can still block ourselves. 

The simple truth is we aren’t designed to operate at full capacity 24/7.  The brain needs variety, it needs input, it needs output, it needs rest.  We have to take care of ourselves.  And care involves recognizing what we need and doing it.  There is no nobility in reaching the grave first.  This isn’t a race.  I digress.  We push ourselves to the point we don’t recognize who we are or remember why we started in the first place.  We convince ourselves that we aren’t functioning well if we don’t live up to the expectations set by our incessant, insta-gratification, always-perfect, always visible culture.  My friends—that isn’t real.  Don’t let that be your gauge to success.  No one lives that way in real life.  And if they do—they have HELP.  No one does it alone.  Either that or they can’t do it for long…hello burnout.

All of that was to say, we have a misperception about what “broken” is.  Just because we aren’t living up to an imaginary expectation, that doesn’t mean we are broken.  It means that what we are trying to accomplish is a lie.  Our very need to be in motion blocks us because we cut off the opportunities that may reveal themselves if we just stopped to listen and to get a feel for what we should do.  And we have to stop believing that if it isn’t happening in the moment that it isn’t happening at all.  THAT is a huge block as well.  It is in those moments when you need to shift.  Like Mel says, shifting from fixing to creating.  That opens a new way of looking at it because you’re changing the intention.

We all have moments when we feel broken.  We feel defeated and like we can’t possibly go on.  That is your body and your mind letting you know you need some rest.  You need a chance to recoup and move forward.  Take that time to recharge and listen to what comes next.  You aren’t broken—you’re drained.  Maybe unfocused or even unsure—but you’re not broken.  You’ve just blocked yourself.  And remember, you’ve been in that position before (we all have) and you can get out of it.  We all get a little stuck sometimes.  Look for the tools and build yourself a new way.   

Second Chances

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“There are do-overs in life—you get one every morning,” Mel Robbins.  We aren’t meant to be perfect.  We are meant to be in a state of constant learning and adaptation.  That is simply how the world, how nature works.  My anxiety leads to a lot of controlling behaviors and, while I know logically that I can only control myself, my incessant need to soothe my fears make me control outward situations and people—or try to.  We all want our lives to look a certain way and I know first hand that if you want something, you have to do what it takes to get there.  For example, you can’t simply wish to be successful, you need to put in the work to create.  You have to define what success looks like to you, and you have to meet your own metrics and expectations to determine if you’ve met your goal.  I’ve personally taken it to the extreme at times and that control has bled into areas it shouldn’t have. 

But that is the beauty of this quote.  Nature doesn’t get disappointed in us—that is our ego and our training to believe that if we don’t succeed the first time around that we are failures.  If we fail to meet our own metrics, we have the ability to adapt and try again or we can change the metric.  Nothing has to be static.  We get to take the opportunities that don’t go our way to learn and go the way they are meant to be.  Even if it isn’t a “failure,” we are fortunate enough to decide we want something different and to try a new way.  WE DECIDE.

There’s a line in Bittersweet Symphony from The Verve that says, “And I’m a million different people from one day to the next,” and it hits so beautifully true.  We live our lives based on beliefs we were either taught or picked up somewhere and we don’t often look at the source.  Human nature is to go with the crowd so we don’t feel lonely and don’t make waves.  But when we look at the context and realize what is and isn’t of our own doing, we start to question our ability to adapt.  We are meant to be adaptable and flexible and to learn.  That is why each day is different.    

The point is even if we don’t succeed in what we set forth for ourselves on one day, we are given the gift to try again the next.  Creating our lives isn’t a destination but so many of us decide to stop moving one day.  We achieve the minimum of what is set for us or we believe the next step is out of reach so we get complacent.  We get fearful.  We lose faith—in ourselves and in the universe.  But those rumblings of our true nature won’t let us rest.  We can either heed them or hide from them. When we listen to our true nature, we are answering the call and we know the magic of following the path laid out for us even if we are the only one to see it. 

Don’t spend too many days wondering what things would be like “if only.”  Recognize the precious gift we have in waking up and live your life to the fullest.  Take advantage.  That is the thrill of life—trying things out.  There is too much pressure and value put on routine.  I will caveat that with there is a time and a place for routine but the secret is to make it our own.  Don’t wait for someone to tell you when to go to bed and when to wake up and drive to work and sit behind a desk for eight hours a day and then drive home and not work on your own dreams.  Before you go to bed, find a way to carve out time for yourself the next day.  Plan out and make room for the pieces of you that need to be expressed.  When you wake up, do it with intention and love and gratitude.  And take the step toward your life.   

Questions and Identity

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“Our identities are open systems and so are our lives.  We don’t have to stay tethered to old images of where we want to go or who we want to be.  the simplest way to start rethinking our options is to question what we do daily,” Adam Grant, Think Again.  Change is a beautiful thing.  I feel like I’ve changed a million times since I started this project.  I’ve changed millions more throughout my life.  I’ve tried to shape an identity based on who I thought I was and when that didn’t work, I fell apart and tried another, and another, and another.  I came to the conclusion that there are facets of our personalities that define who we are—but we are never just one thing. 

Humans are complex creatures and we like to put things in boxes because that serve our primal brain Because it simplifies the complex. Being able to determine if something is “good” or “bad” means we know if we are in danger, if it is safe, if we will survive, or if we will die—and that clearly serves a purpose.   We like simplicity and we like perceived clarity even if it’s forced—we like 140 characters or less or 30 seconds or less to get the message across.  But life isn’t like that.  There isn’t always safety in quick decisions.  Yes, things happen and we have to adapt and change on a dime, but one thing we are gifted in this day and age is the ability to take in and interpret a myriad of differences and options and DECIDE for ourselves.

As Grant says, we don’t have to stay tethered to one identity.  What we decided as children doesn’t have to be our fate.  Lord knows that is a good thing otherwise we’d have a surplus of princesses and ghostbusters running the world.  While it may be convenient to decide quickly and early on, it isn’t always realistic.  We have experiences and we learn and grown and assimilate new information.  We evolve.  There are things in life we simply can not decide on without the proper experience.  And there are certain experiences in life that we are meant to have by ourselves because they are meant to determine the trajectory of who we are, to define our unique purpose.          

I’ve preached a lot about flexibility and openness and embracing who we are.  I haven’t always been the best example of it because, like all humans, I have my own doubts and fears.  I enjoy my perceived security as much as the next person.  I love to try things out, but I am weak on the follow through and I am impatient so I often don’t give things enough time to bud into what they are meant to be.  But one thing I AM skilled at is taking in other people’s points of view and understanding how we got where we are.  I am crystal clear on the idea that there is no one right answer when it comes to the human condition.  But I am emphatic that there is a limited set of behaviors that fall into the category of “for the good of all” and I believe that we should behave that way.  But that “should” word gets us all in trouble. 

I digress.  The point is that if you ever feel stuck, know that there are options.  We are not obligated to be one thing our entire lives, no matter who it disappoints or concerns or frightens.  As I said in the beginning, I’ve changed myself a million times.  Little bits of each manifestation have stuck, but I’ve never been only one thing.  Neither are you.  Embrace the multi-faceted, creative, ever-changing person you are.  Explore for a bit and learn something new about yourself.  Learn, adapt, explore, create, repeat.  And do it over and over again until the real you breaks through, all facets shining and sparkling, brilliant and bright as we are all meant to be.  Little stars in our own lives.  When we create our own light, we shine.  We are meant to ignite the world.  Share that light.