Together…

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Yesterday I woke up feeling absolutely…different, and I wrote about it.  Here it is:  I’m tired. Soul tired and ragged.  I’m done carrying the weight.  My work speaks for itself and I am no longer comfortable being the target of other people’s assumptions.  I’m very open and I am very sensitive to people’s needs and perceptions.  And I am done carrying that weight—my arms won’t lift it anymore.  My heart and my soul and my mind are tired.  Years of building anticipation, hoping my time for wild success would come only to never focus on it.  Trying to find more time in the day to do what I want to do, scared of losing it all, doing all I could to keep the illusion afloat.  All the while the effort spent was futile, running around the mountain yelling directions again.  I’m not sure what I want to do next yet, so I sit.  And try not to fall to the crushing depths of this…whatever this is. 

I have no control.  Control was always the illusion.  So I start with doing less.  Less of what others expect of me.  less of what I simply don’t want to do.  less anger over…everything. I wrote about finding my joy and I’ve gotten two reminders in 13 hours to do just that, find the joy.  I’m so aware of the clock running out in my life that I haven’t been living.  People have been kind and unkind to me and I’ve let those behaviors dictate my days whether they were strangers on the street, employees, or family.  But my soul has something to say and it’s time to listen: say YES when I want to and no when I want to.  Eliminate the chaos, just live. I can still be happy—I am called to be happy as we all are. 

In the midst of all of this, a mentor told me that I “really have it all together.”  I almost laughed because that is sheer will and stubbornness.  It can fall apart at any second.  Plus I’m an emotional mess (I am really working on that) so any appearance of having it together feels tenuous at best anyway.  But if I am projecting an image of having it together, I need to be grateful and remember my advantages and that I may be further along than it feels.  So maybe I just need to have a little more fun and appreciate even more.  I can get in sync by truly, finally, and completely LETTING GO.  Then I went to work.

So at work, I made some different decisions.  I didn’t wait for permission for a damn thing.  I addressed the issues I needed to on my clock and in my way and it wasn’t about control: it was about the timing and needing to level set with myself and my teams.  I focused on what I COULD do rather than what I was being told I couldn’t do.  It felt good to feel like I had some say in the day and to see things getting done.  It legitimately felt productive—and I knew that is what I had been missing.  I’ve been waiting for permission on certain things and I’ve been frustrated because some of the things I’ve been moving forward with have been discounted and ignored or I’ve been allowed to move forward with it and then told to stop so it ALL felt like wasted effort.  But yesterday felt good. 

At the same time I was dealing with a situation with my siblings over Christmas and it was normally something I wouldn’t want to deal with.  In fact, I had even told them to speak with each other.  Nonetheless, I ended up talking to both of them and any frustration I had went away.  I could hear instantly what they were really feeling…and I could FEEL it too.  I could feel the anger and the fear.  We talked through it—we didn’t get everything resolved but we had conversations we haven’t had before. 

Between that and the work situation, it felt really good to approach things head on.  I realized I’ve been wanting to avoid responsibility for things I didn’t want to do for a long time.  I don’t want to carry the burden of other people’s decisions any longer.  That’s how I martyred myself for years—and then resented everyone because I took on things I didn’t want to.  But tackling things head on felt amazing.  It was so productive and more honest.  Even when things were said that I didn’t like, I didn’t yell, I took it in and we talked.  It reminded me that sometimes the things we don’t want to do teach us a lesson we didn’t expect.  So focus on what you can do and take it as it comes.  All will work out as it’s meant to—even if it feels like it’s falling apart, we might have it more together than we think.

Be THAT Person

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“Never do the envy, jealousy, and insecure stuff.  Be the hustler, well-wisher, the go-getter,” via ecommerce mentor.  When we celebrate the achievements of those around us or of those doing what we want to do, we are inviting that energy into our lives as well.  If we are attracting it, we ARE it which means we are able to make it happen.  It can be challenging to switch to this mentality, especially in a society that values competition and winning as a measure of worth and success.  But when we put aside the comparison and measuring people by what they do and where they are, we see those opportunities as well.  It’s important to recognize that.

Mel Robbins talks about jealousy in a way I’ve never heard before.  She says that if you’re jealous of something, it’s because it means something to you and you want it as well.  On the surface, that is obvious.  But digging into that a bit more, it’s telling us that being jealous means it’s awakening something inside of us that we are capable of as well.  In the context of our opening quote, we look at jealousy as something low that can drag us down, but in reality, it is something that guides us as well.  That can be a trigger to start celebrating people.  Don’t be angry with your jealousy as far as asking, “Why don’t I have that?”.  Make it about, “Wow that’s awesome, I think I can do that.”.

Converting our jealousy from victimhood to actionable ways to succeed keeps us in our lane and turns on the inspiration.  Finding joy and finding inspiration is so key in life.  It isn’t about being better than the last person, it’s about being better than you used to be.  Learn to make competition internal rather than external.  Knowing that you’ve done well and that you are capable of doing more is incredibly stimulating.  Winning the challenges we set for ourselves is a good way to keep us moving forward.

So love what you do and love what you see other people doing.  Become a cheerleader, for others and for yourself.  A win for someone else, even in an unrelated field, means that you’re on the right track as well.  We thrive when we support each other and we draw into our lives what we put out so cheering others on means we find our support system as well.  If that proves to be too challenging, start looking at your own small wins.  You woke up today without hitting snooze?  Great!  You managed to make your lunch today instead of buying?  Awesome!! You took the time to walk away from work for a minute instead of engaging that negative co-worker?  Rock On!  All of these things are progress—so be that person who goes after what they want and is happy to see others succeed as well.  The ball will come back in your court soon.  

Support and Effort

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“Don’t have a high tolerance for minimal effort,” via mindbody green.  I’ve felt an odd unsettled feeling lately.  There are different qualifiers to this one but it still struck me.  In terms of relationships, minimal effort is something I can no longer tolerate.  Whether it is my husband, or my extended family, or friends, I’ve spent years bearing the brunt of emotional baggage of those around me.  For the most part, I didn’t mind it because that’s who I am—I want to help people sort through it.  But I noticed a pattern where when I needed something in return (even support) they disappeared.  A common refrain was, “I don’t know what you want me to do.”

As I’ve branched out into other ventures in my life, some requiring more time and effort/support from others, it has been clear who is there and who isn’t.  I will account for the fact that when change happens, some people are prone to trying to pull you back into your old habits.  It isn’t always comfortable to see people move on or even move outside of the parameters/definitions they have for us.  Break them every time.  If it comes to keeping true to yourself or making other people happy, choose yourself every time.

So, an example of that is this: I recently saw my neighbor talking about his wife and her working.  He made a comment to the effect of, “She’s stubborn, she is going to keep working.”  The context is that she was still working after a full day.  It bothered me and I had to unpack what it was.  I mean, I regularly work 12 hour days between multiple businesses and my 9-5 and a million other people do too—her work ethic isn’t that different than anyone else’s.  As fate would have it, my husband made a comment that he wanted to game tonight knowing that I had work to do.  Then it hit me: every time I need to get something done or I’m trying to advance us, he finds an excuse to do something that gets in the way.  So I got mad for three reasons: 1. He stops me from focusing on my work because he isn’t helping with our kid.  2. He isn’t supportive of me trying new things to better myself and us.  3. He’s been talking about starting his own business but he isn’t taking any action toward it.  I need to make sure that I keep time on my calendar to do the things I need to do regardless of what he’s doing.  THAT is my support.

For those who refuse to be with you or offer their support, let them go.  Don’t waste your time trying to prove that you’re worthy of their support.  Wish them well and move forward with your plans.  There isn’t enough time to waste on showing other people you can do it.  You need to spend your time acting on what you say you want to do.  Distraction and fighting and spending time on emotions that don’t support you moving forward will never get you where you want to go.  Drop the weight of expectation that people will support you, drop the weight of pulling people along with you.  Let your wings unfurl and take flight, knowing that you support yourself.  Keep your boundaries no matter what it means.

The Dash

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“They’re all dead, they just haven’t put the number on the gravestone,” JR Ridinger.  As timing would have it, right as I’m talking about how we use our time and how to have a meaningful life, I hear this quote and it simply reaffirms what we have been discussing the last few days.  To add more context, Ridinger was discussing the value of time and how we spend our lives and that most of us live on repeat (another topic we’ve talked about quite a bit, here) with the work, eat, sleep pattern.  He mentioned a story where he went to a graveyard and as he looked at the headstones, he saw the date the person was born and the date they died and in between was simply a dash.  He correlated that death with the way so many people live.  Is it really living if we are doing the same thing day after day?  Especially if we are spending that time fulfilling someone else’s dream?  So he simply meant that living the same day on repeat isn’t living.

I’ve heard people talk about this before but they look at it from the side of the dash.  The numbers on the stone are irrelevant, it’s what you do with the dash.  We all get a certain number of years and we don’t know what that number will be, so make the most of the years you have.  I don’t want to live half-dead.  There is no point to that.  We are all given so much talent and we all have a purpose to share, I don’t see the point of wasting that.  I was raised to believe that we needed to wait for permission to share our gifts or that we needed to be told we were wanted.  I know now that isn’t true. We are given those gifts to share and even if they aren’t for everyone, there are certainly people who need them.  THOSE are the ones we need to focus on.

I often think about how we are all so brainwashed and manipulated into believing that this is how we have to live.  I’m absolutely including myself in that as well because there are things I am responsible for and in order to meet those obligations, I have to do certain things.  Yes, I have the opportunity to make different choices in how I meet those obligations, but I have put myself in a position where I need to meet my end of the bargain.  That’s how we all live.  While I’m in this in between of knowing that I have responsibilities and simultaneously wanting to live freely, I’m trying to let the creativity flow more.  There are so many things we can do to break these patterns and bring ourselves to life.  The point is to do it now while we still have the ability.

So, what are you going to do with the dash?  Are you going to live the same day over and over again for 90 years?  Or are you going to find ways to infuse as much magic into your days as possible?  Finding the way to spread love and light and hope is what we do.  I posted on IG the other day about how we are naturally alchemical beings—I wrote about it here too some time ago.  And it’s true.  We were mislead to believe alchemy was the magic of turning lead into gold when in reality, it’s about making this life what we want.  It’s about recognizing what we have while we are here and turning the mundane into the magical.  It’s about realizing that LIVING is the gold, not the literal resource.  So take the time to make some magic.  Create the life of your dreams.  Inspire others to do the same.  Find new ways to do things.  Love this life.  And live while you are still in the dash.           

Work and Meaning

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Recently our Chief Medical Officer celebrated his retirement and he spoke of his purpose in healthcare and what it meant to him.  I’ve been on the corporate side of healthcare for 20 years and I’ve been disillusioned and pained to see what healthcare has become.  But as I watched the video celebrating his accomplishments and his work over his lifetime, I realized that there are still people doing good things out there.  There are still people who care.  I mean, we all get involved in our work for one reason or another, but there is a distinct difference when we do work we love instead of working for profit.

His pictures showing a lifetime of work and family and people he’s impacted showed me another key point: the meaning in work comes from us.  We can’t assume that something will be meaningful just because we partake in it.  We need to assign the meaning and decide what is important to us.  It is something to see years of work flashing by on a screen, captured in pictures and video, thinking of what it meant in each of those moments.  THAT was something aspirational because the more we can participate in life, the more meaning we have.

In healthcare in particular, we are trained to disregard our needs in favor of taking care of others.  While I understand this in practice and even a bit in purpose, I do not understand the point of sacrificing your own life and time with your family for others.  A majority of those hundreds of beautiful moments were spent at work.  Yes, there was family along and there were probably many moments in private, but the time spent away from family came at a cost.  That time won’t come back.  So when it comes to a life well spent and creating meaningful work, it is about balance. 

When it comes to how I want to be remembered, I want to be known for inspiring people to find their purpose, for showing people there is a different way, for loving my family and friends fiercely, and for driving people to find their identity.  I want to help people awaken everything that they are, everything that makes them who they are.  I want to be remembered as someone who inspired change and saw the big picture and helped people put it together.  I want to be remembered for love.

A Little Reminder on Communication

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I think there is something that has been lost in our communication.  We take for granted the speed with which we can communicate and we’ve watered down the meaning behind what we do.  We expect people to understand us with minimum communication and veiled inuendo.  I recently came across a meme trying to encourage people toward growth.  It said, “Instead of a long paragraph, just say ‘OK’ and move on.”  I don’t agree with that because that isn’t communication.  That’s cutting people off.  You have more depth to what you’re feeling than two letters.  Speak what you’re actually feeling.  THAT is communication.  In a society that moves faster than our thoughts sometimes, we aren’t patient enough to wait for people to really get to the point.  Sometimes it takes a while to even understand what we are trying to say and if we are struggling with that, it will certainly take time for people to understand. 

Now to be fair, communication is contingent on the other person understanding so if what you’re saying is falling on deaf ears, then by all means, cut your losses and move on especially if it isn’t a relationship you’re interested in maintaining.  But if this is someone important to you, then you need to help them understand.  We are a throw away culture, including with each other, and we need to remember the value in our relationships. 

So, getting back to the point of communication and cheapening your thoughts with “OK”, I want to talk about what it does to you when you don’t speak what is really on your mind.  Again, if this is someone who is determined to misunderstand or who simply isn’t capable, then yes, make the choice to save yourself.  But when you have something to say and you choose to stifle it and choke it down, you’re repressing the emotion behind it.  There are always appropriate times to share those emotions so if you’re not able to articulate it in the moment then let that person know you need some time to digest what they’ve brought to you.  Then you can piece together what you really mean instead of ending the conversation.  We need to remember how to have the conversation.

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for time.  There is so much potential with time.  We can make what we want of it and decide what we want it to look like.  It’s the most valuable currency we will ever have.  I struggled most of my life with a fear of time (and I still have anxiety around it) because I was always acutely aware of the finality of it—it is a truly non-renewable resource.  So I have been trying to focus better on HOW I spend my time rather than how MUCH time I have.  It puts more meaning into the moments we have and forces us to make better choices on how we spend our time.  Once you have that appreciation for it, you look at time differently. 

Today I am grateful for memories.  I will admit that I had an unhealthy relationship with my past for a long time.  I clung to physical clutter to always remind me of a time that I held up on a pedestal.  I tried to find ways to re-create what I felt then because I felt safe in a lot of ways.  I mean, as I really look at it, I felt safe throughout all of that trauma because of my parents, but they did a really good job keeping me as happy as they knew how throughout a lot of crap.  There is a lot of emotional attachment to them because of that but also to the things we shared that I’ve held onto.  And I am appreciative of that time, what they did for me, and of putting it in a new context that I know what I want to do for my son.  I am grateful to give back to them and to hold onto some tradition while creating my own.

Today I am grateful for acceptance.  I spent some time at my parents house today with my sister and we were separating and dividing some of the Christmas stuff we’ve accumulated over the years.  Working our way through decades of family history and working to split up our shared history showed me how differently we view our past.  The same items from the same time have an entirely different meaning to us.  We talked about moving on and allowing our family to be who they are and the challenges that come with that.  We each have this idea of what we want the family to look like and how we want to feel, but we have to allow each other to be who they are.

Today I am grateful for slowing down.  We kept today simple.  My son and I went to the store, we went to my parents house, we talked with some friends for a bit, and then my husband and I made dinner together.  There is so much more value in presence than in pushing and we need to be mindful of when we need to slow down and when we need to push through.  Daylight Savings Time ended this weekend and the light goes away much sooner so we are all slowing down with the weather, as the season is changing again.  It is the season of going within and reflecting on all we’ve done and letting the seeds we’ve planted for next year begin to sprout. 

Today I’m grateful for love.  My son just ran up to me and said he wanted a hug and when I only was able to put one arm around him he looked at me and said, “No, mommy, I want a two armed hug.”  So I did and he goes, “Yes, that’s how I like my hugs.”  It melted my heart.  I love this age, this time with him because he is constantly reminding me to be present with him.  He reminds me to settle down and pay attention and he is curious about everything.  I love the reminder to explore curiosity.

Today I am grateful to understand what it means to do things for the sake of doing them.   I went out with the neighbors last night and we went shopping for the holidays.  We talked and laughed and just had conversation.  Yes, I was able to accomplish something but it wasn’t about that.  It was about being together and laughing and not fixating on the same things over and over again.  It was about connecting and taking a break to create some space for myself that wasn’t totally about DOING.  It was just about BEING with each other and spending time together.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead!

OK

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I recently pestered my husband with the classic, “Are you ok?” when I habitually asked it twice in a really short period of time.  He said, “It makes me angry when you do that.  How many times are you going to ask me within 5 minutes?”  And I truly understood, what he said wasn’t wrong.  So I told him I needed a minute and I really did some reflection by going upstairs and taking some time alone.  I am too wound up in him and I need some separation in general.  It struck me that I’m always looking for ways to take care of him, to move through something that is “wrong”, and to fix something.  I’m always prepared for my life to fall apart and I don’t know how to enjoy it.  So I do appreciate him snapping when it comes to that revelation.

During that evening alone, I realized a few other things too.  Like I’m always asking him if something is wrong because I’ve set the tone it’s my job to fix things.  Like I’m so conditioned to be dealing with crisis that I automatically expect everything to be bad.  Like I’m conditioned that way from previous events in our relationship that he will never acknowledge.  Like he will never recognize his role in the trauma he caused in my life. Like I need to worry more about if I’M ok and start addressing that over his concerns.  He takes care of himself. 

That latter part bothered me as well.  We’ve been together 20 years and he still feels the need to keep that facet of his life separate.  He will take care of himself over the family every time.  It made me angry for a long time.  I can accept that I need to take better care of myself instead of focusing on him.  I’m not his mother.  I used to say that in the context of me “having” to fix things but now I say it in the context of I need to take care of myself and he is a grown man.  He will figure it out whether it looks how I think it should or not.  He doesn’t need me and I need to make myself stronger so I don’t need him in the same way.  I’ve still been in the damsel in distress mode when I needed to remember what I was capable of. 

I also need to remember that as I grow, he is growing too.  It doesn’t necessarily mean we are growing together and only time will tell on that.  But I KNOW I will not be gaslit into believing that these energetic shifts aren’t happening.  I can see them and I can feel them.  Those moments of needing to be apart more and looking for other outlets and other people.  The silent phone conversations where we really don’t have much to say.  Or the distracted conversations where he pretends to be interested.  We are changing and our needs are different.  I HAVE to allow that.  It isn’t his job to jump up and fill in where I am lacking, even if I did that for him.  It’s my job to take care of myself and develop who I am.  Wherever the cards fall, that is where they are meant to be. 

So in the context of “OK,”  I’m sort of alright.  I feel good and I really have no animosity toward him.  It hurts, yes, but I can keep it in perspective.  This is one of those things that I will need to work on correcting for myself.  I’m highly sensitive so I know when something is wrong even if it isn’t major.  But I have to accept that even if something IS wrong, I may not be the one needed to fix it—even if I can.  It’s about backing out and finding where I am needed and when.  I can be the savior to everyone, but they may not need me—and that is ok.  I know I’m not alone in this behavior.  So…what can we do for ourselves to find our center again?  What will make us ok?

Life IN Death

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“What has to die in your life for what you are creating to be born?” Deepak Chopra.  I love this.  I’ve been speaking to the intense changes happening in my life right now and this is so appropriate to my experience.  I’ve learned that the first thing that has to die is the idea that you can be everything to everyone and make everyone happy.  I’ve spoken many times about living in multiple worlds at once and trying to keep both balanced and how it feels like straddling a track that is diverging.  We can’t keep a leg in both worlds forever—we get stretched too thin and then nothing gets done.  Or we build resentment because the things that get done aren’t in support of our goals. 

The second thing that has to die is the idea that doing as you’re told will get you anywhere if it isn’t something aligned with your goals.  I spent so much of my life doing exactly what I was told because I was raised with the belief that good things would come if you followed the path laid out in front of you.  I was raised to believe that your dreams would come true if you did the “right” thing at all times.  What I learned is that, yes, life does sometimes throw you a bone if you’re “good” to people.  But the reality is, if you’re doing what you’re told, you’re following a system designed to benefit itself.  There is only so much room at the top in a place like that.  In order to progress in your life AND feel fulfilled, you need to do what is aligned with you. 

The third thing that has to die is the guilt of doing what is right for you.  Right in line with doing what we’re told, is the belief that we are bad or selfish if we do what is right for us.  It is SO uncomfortable the first few times you set boundaries and do what you need to do.  When I first tried it, I took it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to have those types of boundaries.  In reality, I just needed more practice.  The guilt was so engrained that I couldn’t tell the difference between a sign and training.  So I flexed my wings.  I KNEW what I needed to do and that is what kept me moving forward.     

The fourth thing that has to die is any misconception that you can’t do it.  We all have a calling and if there is something that you know is for you, then you CAN do it.  You wouldn’t have the idea if it wasn’t meant to be brought forward by YOU.  We aren’t always trained to hear the whispers telling us what our gift is, but we are meant to re-train ourselves and answer that call.  Self-doubt will kill any dream long before someone else does.  So step up and get that nasty voice in check. 

The last thing that has to die is your plan.  I know that seems counterintuitive, especially when I’m talking about following “that” voice.  I’ve learned first hand that the voice is an excellent guide and the purpose behind it is true.  However, the plan we have in place to do achieve that may not always be the plan we are meant to follow.  Believing that things have to look a certain way only hinders you from allowing them to BE what they are meant to be.  Along with this is allowing the version of you that you thought you’d be die as well.  It’s painful because we tie our hopes an expectations to that person.  I honestly think that was the most painful part because that girl did her best every step of the way and carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and just wanted to be recognized.  I let her know I respected her and appreciated everything she did and that I would always carry her with me.  And then I let her rest.

Death is absolutely an ending and it can be terrifying.  But it can also be one of the most liberating things in the world.  Every year, we watch the seasons come in and out and we don’t fear that the next one won’t be there.  We allow it and accept all of the things that come with those transitions.  So death is also the beginning.  In nature, that is often the case.  So greet death as a friend.  Appreciate what you have while it is here and know that what is coming will be greater.  Know that you have it in you to move forward and take on the next steps.  Allow your death and greet your new self with open arms.    

Secret Formula: Effort

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“Effort is important but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference,” via warrenbuffetquote. This is akin to our car’s engine breaking down and we worry about fixing the tires.  All of the effort in the world will mean nothing if it isn’t focused where it needs to be.  The world is filled with distraction and will always test you when it feels like you are well on your way.  There are things designed to tempt you and all of those things serve someone else’s bottom line.  We settle for what is deemed “safe” and we turn over our purpose as long as we can afford the few trinkets we are told we need.  The only safety that exists is what you create for yourself.  You need to be your own safe harbor.

We can spend all the time in the world creating a safety net for others and not realize that we are getting pulled down trying to hold it up.  It is far easier to teach people to save themselves instead of being the one to lift them up.  We are a Marvel family and in The Avengers, Captain America and Tony Stark go into battle and Steve Rogers says, “You’ll never be the one to lay on the wire.” Tony Stark replies, “I think I would just cut the wire.”   I know this is supposed to demonstrate Cap’s self-sacrificing nobility, but I think this is a perfect highlight of Tony’s genius.  If you lay on the wire, yes you have the chance to help those with you, but if you die, then there is nothing else you can do.  If you cut the wire, you may save infinitely more people and you get to fight another day.  It’s a perfect example of go to the source of the problem and fix that—don’t band-aid the solution.  If you constantly fix things at your own expense, you become the band-aid and the problem still exists.

I will add that there is a middle ground between martyrdom and selfishness.  Invest your energy in yourself first and in taking care of yourself and learning yourself.  Once you know who you are and what your purpose is, you will have laser focus on where to put your effort.  We are designed to help each other but we can’t do that on an empty tank and we certainly can’t do that if we are fixated on getting the latest and greatest next thing.  We need to focus on doing the latest and greatest next thing. 

Simply put, we can work smarter not harder—and there is nothing selfish about that.  There is nothing sneaky or smarmy about it either.  Putting in concentrated effort to yield the most results is simply smart.  If you want to make strides in this world, start with yourself, then find the best way to move forward based on that information.  Being who you are is how you can help others and how you can make a difference not only in your life but in the world as well.