Posts tagged ‘action’

December 28, 2011

The Gift of Rest

I’m going to admit straight away that rest is a challenging topic for me.  I simply don’t allow myself to rest without having a reason or excuse.  Not that this means I spend every moment in action.  In fact, I often spend my time in limbo- in neither action nor rest.  Puttering.  Half-consciously playing games or browsing websites, moving things from one room to another, hopping from one little non-activity to the next.  My talent at avoiding going to bed when I’m tired rivals any toddler’s (and my own children’s, though they do seem to have inherited this skill).  I’ll literally sit doing something until I’m too tired to stop and go to bed.

But rest is an incredibly important gift to give ourselves.  It is at any time- however particularly any time we’re challenging ourselves to develop new habits, practices and thoughts.  Creating new neural pathways is exhausting.  Literally.  Physically.  Mentally.  Over the past year and a half I have experienced this deeply.  It comes down to the fact that when we’re well rested we feel better.  When we’re well rested our minds and bodies are stronger and more flexible and adaptable.  When we’re well rested challenges aren’t as challenging.  Rest takes the edges off.  Rest revives us.  Rest restores.

Our bodies tell us exactly how much rest we need.  And we ignore them.  Often when given the choice between resting and accomplishing something (or taking those non-action actions) we don’t choose rest.  We tell ourselves that the dishes need to be done, or the laundry can’t wait, or that our child will have lifelong emotional scars if we say no to the 274th request of the day (even a temporary no), or that while the baby is napping is the only time we can get anything done- but ultimately the choice is ours to make.  Listen to your body and rest?  Or ignore it and plug on.

As we finish this year, I am offering you the opportunity to give yourself this gift.  Rest.  Hear your body.  Maybe ignore your mind for once.  Find a really comfy spot- your sofa, a cushiony chair, your bed- and take some time when your body tells you to take it.  Rest.  Do nothing.  If this is too out there for you, plan to allow yourself extra sleep.  Go to bed a few hours earlier than normal, or refuse to set an alarm.  Both if possible.  Discover what it feels like to be well rested.  And let yourself get used to it.

Until next year,

Lesley

ps.  I actually had to make myself take a 30 minute rest to even write this- I was feeling so out of tune with rest after a good week of doing, doing, doing.  I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.  And please share with anyone you know who needs the gift of rest!

 

December 19, 2011

The Gift of Play

Bird whistles rockWhen was the last time you truly played? Did something fun simply for the enjoyment of it. No goals. No plans. No expectations. But also, active. Taking action without intention, simply for the amusement of that action, maybe to see what would happen. Did you play at all today?

Sometimes as we grow up, we forget how to play. Many times our children serve as reminders- however, what is play to children isn’t always satisfyingly playful to adults. Play dances at the edges of our developmental abilities. It can be enthralling to watch this and participate in this with children, at their level, but as ever growing and changing beings our edges like the dance as well.

Playing, in whatever form it takes for you, has many benefits- it reduces stress (which is well documented as a cause of many physical ailments), it increases our creativity, mental flexibility and focus. Play gives us energy. These are our edges as grown up people- the places where we are often challenged. Especially as parents. But do you know any adult who couldn’t use more energy, focus and creativity, and less stress? (You know, I do think I actually know a quite a few…and guess what? They play. Often.)

There is one caveat here. If we go into play time looking for benefits, we’ve turned it into something other than play. An assignment. A project. Something we do because it’s “good for us”. Yikes. I’ve noticed that I have a strong tendency to do this with my creative pursuits. Recently I began painting. My intention was to just have fun with it, and I painted an image that had been in my head for a while. It was fun. I did some more painting. Then I got ideas. I decided that I wanted to paint some more specific images. I wanted to use them for another project I’m working on. Can you guess what happened? I stopped painting. Somehow I didn’t feel the urge to pull the paints out again. I had turned my play into a chore. A project. Something that needed to be done. So much for the fun, energy, creativity and stress relief. But it’s also a fun juxtaposition. Play is only play when it’s done for it’s own sake. For fun. For the love of what you’re doing. Yep. Work can even be play.

So, how will you give yourself the gift of play? I will be pulling out my paints and a fresh canvas. No fixing that bizarre looking lizard. No grand attempts to paint that flame on the canvas I painted black, unless it feels like fun. Just me and some colors and some brushes and a blank canvas. Slap some paint down and see where it goes. But play can be anything- taking a walk down a different street, getting lost (literally or figuratively), making designs in the dirt (or your mashed potatoes), seeing what happens when….., making up a story about the people in the car ahead of you, jumping on the trampoline. Yes, it CAN be with your kids of course, they’re some of the best people to play with…. but give yourself permission to play without them as well!

Tell me how YOU are playing in the comments, or tell me what you’re doing about that ever so grown-up tendency to turn play into work. How are you turning work to play instead? And give others the gift of play (and good health, energy, focus, and creativity!) by sharing with the buttons below.

PS. If it’s the only way it will happen, schedule some time devoted to play. Pencil it in. Leave some time open for whatever strikes your fancy. Or, drop what you’re doing right now. Go play. I mean it. Go play!

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

January 14, 2011

Being Peace (part one)

I’m doing something out of the ordinary here and writing just off the top of my head, though I’ll admit to throwing some ideas into my journal earlier this week.  My greatest accomplishment since my last post is surviving the virus that passed through my household with a minimum of complaint- though it wore me down to the point where I could no longer keep optimistically stating that I’d probably feel better tomorrow (as I did for 3 days) and settled on “I know I’ll feel better eventually” and decided to simply hang in there the best I could with my boxes of tissues and the ability to order and read books on my phone.  And read I did, since I couldn’t even sleep.  A few weeks ago, way back in 2010,  my friend Ruth mentioned The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins to me- stating that they were the best books she’d read all year.  I agree.  But being a whole 2 weeks into the year, my statement doesn’t mean as much.  I’m guessing that they may still be the best books I will read this year.  They are also profoundly sad.  And inspiring. 

 What has been inspired within me, from reading this trilogy, is a desire for peace and freedom for all but also knowing that peace and freedom are an inside job.  We can’t live violently and expect peace.  We can’t hold ourselves or others back and have freedom.  Yet in so many ways we live violent and captive lives.  I’m not talking about outward physical, active violence and captivity.  Most of us are not gunning down 9 year old children outside supermarkets or keeping someone locked in the basement (okay, I honestly hope no one who reads my blog is doing these things…if you are, please go turn yourself in to the authorities and get some psychiatric help).  And though there are much more subtle forms of active violence against one another, particularly against children, I’m not going to discuss those today.  What I’m going to talk about are subtle, non-active forms of violence. 

 Violence takes place when we don’t step in to protect someone who is being hurt, when we ignore suffering that is within our power to relieve, and when we hold on to anger or hatred.  This is the kind of violence that takes place within ourselves and often, against ourselves.  A friend has a bumper sticker that reads “World Peace Begins at Home: Be Nicer to Your Kids”, and I completely agree with the sentiment, however I think that ultimately we could say “World Peace Begins Within: Be Nicer to Yourself”.  And while fine things, good food and enjoyable experiences are all perfectly good ways to express appreciation to yourself, they are superficial.  If you don’t actually feel love and appreciation for yourself and are treating yourself with violence through self-criticism and cutting inner dialogue, those superficial things are like an abusive parent giving a child a toy to make up for the bruises.  They are a distraction from self-inflicted pain.

 Every time we tell ourselves we are stupid, ugly, worthless, inferior….pick your poison…we are inflicting violence against ourselves.  When we hold on to anger and hatred, no matter who those thoughts are aimed towards, we are inflicting violence upon ourselves.  It’s pretty easy to illustrate the impact they have on our lives by making us feel stressed, contracted, unable to relax, and how those things create some negative results in our behavior and our lives.  Helping people work through all of that is what I do.  What I have been considering for the past few hours is how we can turn around this self-inflicted violence through our inner dialogue.  How we can be peace.  But that, my friends, is for another day.  I have some ideas swirling, concepts connecting, reticulating splines (oh, wait, no… that’s my daughter’s Sims game…) and I’ll reconnect them here at a later time.

 Until then…Peace.

 Lesley

p.s. – if you enjoyed this post, please share via the links below.  Thanks!

January 5, 2011

Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote (oneself) fully

One of my intentions this year is to post weekly to this blog.  To support this intention I’m joining in the WordPress Post a Week 2001 challenge.  I’m taking this as an opportunity to more fully practice imperfection as well as to, of course, immerse myself in this process.

From the depths,

Lesley

I want to more fully define this term and what it means here.  The title above is not a strict definition.  It’s cobbled together from several I found online, as well as from my own thoughts- as is everything that follows.  Immerse is my word of the year for 2011, (link) and it has become a key element in the focus of my work (yep, there it is in the tagline).  Right now I’m completely in love with this word and it’s implications in living a life without limits, a life where I am here and completely devoted to being present, digging in, and bringing my whole self to my actions.  It makes my heart beat faster and I start smiling uncontrollably when I think about it.

 On one level, immersion is about throwing myself completely into whatever I’m doing in the moment- whether that’s writing, playing with my children, eating dinner or taking a nap.  It’s like presence and mindfulness, but in a very physical way.  Being immersed is very difficult when you’re up in your mind thinking about being mindful.  Being immersed engages all the senses and opens up a 360° awareness of what is around you. 

 But to immerse does not simply mean this.  I’m a bit of a word geek- so as I was looking up the definition I was curious about it’s history.  It comes from middle english meaning “embedded deeply” coming from latin roots that mean something like “to merge into”.  To immerse, for me, means to merge into the life you are creating for yourself.   It also means merging your *self* back into your life.  A few years ago I was living my life simply going through the motions.  I was physically there and in action- but my *self* was elsewhere.  I’ve rejoined my life, but I’ve learned how it becomes easy to simply being functioning on auto-pilot and allowing the delicious parts of life to drift away.  Immersion is the act of reuniting the self into a whole and remaining whole.  Being deeply and fully involved in your life in every way.

 Immerse means to surround yourself completely in your hopes, dreams, ideas and the actions you are taking to bring them to life.  You can do this within your work, your art, your family, your relationships.  You can also do this within your self; making sure that you have everything you need to be fully present.  This means delicious, nourishing food, joyful movement, deep rest, creative expression, uplifting connection with others and quiet insightful time for connecting with yourself. 

 Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote yourself fully.  Today I am choosing to immerse myself in my family, my work, my creativity, and in my well-being.  There is joy in simply devoting yourself fully and engaging deeply.  Where will you immerse yourself?

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