Archive for June, 2011

June 10, 2011

Peace, Reactivity and Auto Repair

A few months ago I wrote about Being Peace, fully intending to write a follow up.  That follow up didn’t come to me right away.  But in the events of my life this week I’ve found even more to consider with the concept of being peace.

We’ve been road tripping this week- me and my girls.  Drove from SC to PA in one day and we’ve been hanging out at my parents since then.  Yesterday morning I noticed that I was feeling on edge.  Potentially reactive.  Score one for awareness.  I noticed.  I breathed.  I recognized that with the changes in our routine the girls and I were all a bit off kilter.  I got creative- even if “creative” simply meant creating a plan to run with for the day.  Noticing, breathing, moving on with the day.  It was good.  My older daughter and I went to run some errands.  It was a hot, hot day.  The air conditioning in the van wasn’t quite cutting it.  Hmmm.  Service Engine Soon light on.  Hmmm.  Observe.  Turn off the air.  Turn it back on.  Hmmm.

I’ll be completely honest.  At this point I could feel the panic beginning to well up.  It would be so easy to go into full blown hyper-freakout, where I can’t think clearly and have no patience or tolerance of any other requests, challenges, or needs.  I’m over 600 miles from home.  My van is my freedom.  I have plans to be in NY in 3 days.  How much is this going to cost and how much will I have to change my plans to pay for it?  Do I have the money?  Can I get it fixed soon, or will I need to rent a car?  Do I have the money for that?  Will I have to arrive late at conference?  How can I write when I’m feeling this tied up? I have writing to do!  AAAAARRRRRRRHHHHHHHGGGGGGHHHHH!  This was once my default setting.  Playing the “what if’s” into a nasty hairy thing- a big jumbled, twisted, knotted ball of awful that tends to sit right in the center of my body.   I need to shake it off just thinking about it.  And I did still have some of these thoughts.  Okay, all of these thoughts.  Even though some of them aren’t even real problems.

But I didn’t go into freakout mode.  I kept breathing.  I kept asking myself “what’s the next logical step to take?”.  I breathed.  I didn’t avoid my feelings.  I looked them straight in the… well….whatever part of feelings you look them in.  Yep.  There they are.  What next?  I didn’t waste any energy trying to make them go away.  I didn’t stuff my face (not sayin’ a piece of chocolate wouldn’t be nice!).  I didn’t yell at anyone.  I played a minimum of mindless computer games (okay, I do have a Solitaire habit that’s rather unfortunate).  I didn’t break out a bottle of wine.  I didn’t blame anyone or anything- didn’t get angry at myself, or my van, or anyone else.   I didn’t complain.  Or at least I don’t think I did.  But I probably drove my mom nuts with my thinking out lout.  I made some phone calls. I did some research.  I bought some fluids and parts and tinkered.  I was thankful for my van, for internet car repair message boards, for cheap auto parts and good mechanics.  Did some more research.  Made some more phone calls.  Went to a mechanic.

My van is safely operable, for now.  The permanent repair is set up for when I get back from NY.  I am feeling a great deal of relief.  And I’m also feeling thankful for this experience.  The repair itself is irrelevant.  I found out a lot about holding my own place of peace- the place of peace where I can see and observe my thoughts and feelings, accept them and even embrace them.  I avoided reactivity- which prevented much distress for myself and those around me.  As a mamma, as the one my children calibrate their emotional scales to as the underlying mood setter, that’s very important.  When I keep my peace, I help create peace.  Not once did I fall into the easy trap of “why does this stuff always happen to me?”.   Which is big.  Ultimately because it’s not true.  But also because the further I fall down that rabbit hole, the worse I feel, the more negative of a mood I set, and the less likely I am to see the good that is happening in my life.  And the less likely it is that my children will be able to see the good that is in their lives.

And so I’m left thankful and peaceful and looking forward to my time in NY among one of my favorite tribes, connecting with my amazing girls.  And looking forward to getting my car repaired… for probably only the second time in my life.  Pretty effing cool.

Until next time,

Lesley

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June 3, 2011

The Last-Minute Rock Star

At the moment I’m preparing for a road trip that will take me from SC to PA to NY and back again in the space of two weeks.  In my mind, someone who is truly great at this sort of thing would have a comprehensive checklist prepared, have a detailed to-do written (at least mentally) and would have had all the items that aren’t necessary to everyday life packed and ready to go by now- the minivan clean and maintained and ready to roll, home tasks that need completion before leaving nearly up to date and be ready to simply, calmly and joyfully put the stuff in the van and leave when the time comes.  Oh, and they’d definitely have the conference talk they’re giving in less than 2 weeks at least in a completed rough draft state.

My experience of this process is rarely anything like this.  Usually I experience a combination of procrastination and panic, with an underlying and continuous monologue of reprimands and reminders of how insufficient I am and how I’m doing it all wrong and how much of a loser I must be for not just doing the freaking stuff that needs doing, that culminates in me yelling at everyone to “just get the *&%$#! out of my way so I can get this stuff done and get at least a few hours sleep!” at about 11pm the night before we are planning a 5am departure.  Not an ideal situation, in my personal opinion- especially when I do not function well on less than 8 or 9 hours of sleep.  Any wonder last year’s incarnation of this trip had us all craning our necks along the highway to find a Starbucks? (when, of course, a green smoothie would be MUCH more of a help!)

So in the midst of my procrastination and panic this week I decided to do a little self-coaching on this subject.  In the process I remembered that I am a last minute person.  I function well doing things last minute and I rarely fall short of my own expectations no matter how much I’ve delayed and put off.  I recognized that what I dislike most about my usual pattern is not my last-minute nature, but the lack of trust I hold that I CAN do what’s needed in the time I have (I’m amazingly efficient when I’m motivated- a great illustration that tasks take as much time as we allow them!) and my lack of calm and peace in the process.  I don’t like being unkind to my family.  And I’m downright afraid of how unkind I can be to myself.  My “deer in the headlights” feelings of panic and inability to act are mostly about how much I’ll berate myself as I’m losing much needed sleep and yelling and then trying to fuel myself on sugar and caffeine.

I’ve decided that this year, I’ll prepare for our road trip in the usual way- acting as I feel the motivation.  Except this time, I’m choosing to trust in the fact that I always get it done.  I’m going to trust that I can do this calmly and without yelling at anyone, or mentally abusing myself.  I am going to invest in my well-being by saying no to others’ requests of my time and attention when they don’t align with my goal of a peaceful and calm packing process and departure.  Many of my children’s requests WILL align with this goal- they’re as excited about this trip as I am, maybe even more!  Some of them might not.  But I can feel good saying “yes, but not right now” knowing that we all benefit from peace and calm and trust that everything works out.  Ultimately, I’m going to step up and be a last-minute road trip rock star- flipping the bird at the reptilian voice in my head that is not really me, but an amalgamation of cultural expectations and past criticism that I’ve allowed to remain.  I’ll be kind and loving and roll on the wave of adrenaline I get when the time comes.  I’ll enjoy it.  I’m actually pretty great at this last minute stuff.  Time to own it.  Time to rock my last-minute capabilities and evolve them to a more peaceful and loving place.

So anyway, take what you can from this story and apply it to your own life.  Where do you berate yourself for being who you are, and what is the real problem with the situation?  How might a different thought change what you do and how you do it?  How can you be the rock star of who you are and bring it?

I’m off to do what I’m inspired to do today- just like I was inspired to write this post.  Rock on and let your stars shine!

Lesley

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