Posts tagged ‘should’

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

December 27, 2010

If I had one wish

Be the star cookie man!Just a quick note to mention that I’m finishing up this year with daily blog posts, making some updates and changes, AND a big announcement and opportunity on Friday.  Subscribers will get this announcement first- so if you’re curious go ahead and subscribe. 

And Happy Birthday, Mom!

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“If I had one wish this holiday season…” – Steve Martin

 Okay, so I’ve now proven that I’m truly scarred by a lifetime of SNL viewing.  And my one wish has nothing to do with singing children, swiss bank accounts, all encompassing power, revenge or orgasms.  If I’ve lost you here, I can only hope to catch you up with a youtube clip

I have a holiday tradition of wrapping gifts while watching movies.  I love this time alone.  I love making my gifts look beautiful.  And I love holiday movies.  My favorite gift wrapping movies for the past few years have been Love Actually and The Holiday- because they are ones the rest of my family scoffs at as “chick flicks”, which results in them somehow being magically repelled from my presence for a couple of hours.  Brilliant.   

As I watched and wrapped this year, I noticed something I hadn’t consciously noticed in the past.  At some point in the story line, the characters are overtaken with the urge to do something unusual.  Something that’s out of character.  Something bold and daring.  Even something that everyone else thinks is completely nuts.  Or that actually is kind of insane.  And they don’t have the urge to do these things simply for the expected result.  They have the urge to do these things because they can’t *not* do them. 

 This is the magic in these holiday movies- watching the characters being overtaken with a completely illogical urge to follow their hearts.  They become unflinchingly honest.  They admit to their mistakes. They panic and nearly back out.  They say “What the hell am I doing?” then do it anyway.  You get the sense that the result is irrelevant.  They seem to be saying “Hey, this may work out, and it might not.  But the only thing worse than it not working out is not taking the chance”

 There really is something like magic in that feeling.  Just following your heart, or your inner being, or your essential self.  Just doing what feels perfectly right.  It might be a little crazy.  It might be a little scary.  Or it might be a lot of both.  But it feels absolutely and perfectly right. 

 That is my one wish this holiday season.  That everyone, myself included, live a life of heart inspired action.  To experience that wild-excited-scary feeling and to follow through, knowing that the thing much worse than an unexpected or unwanted result is to not have taken the leap of faith at all.  I wish this for individual moments, this season, and for the new year to come. 

 A somewhat belated happy holidays and a very, very happy new year to all.

Lesley

October 21, 2010

You are enough

I’ve been having a hard time getting motivated to write lately.  It’s not that I don’t have things to say.  I have nearly 2 pages written that I intended as last week’s post- about bullying and about loving & supporting teens where they are, for who they are, and making things better here and now for those who are hurting.    I haven’t finished it.  And I haven’t even sat down to allow the muse to carry me off into “Writingland”, or whatever I was trying to do when I made myself sit down to write every day. 

 I think I know why.  I was feeling inadequate.  It actually makes me want to laugh to realize this.  Here I am, wanting to encourage people to be entirely themselves because it’s the best thing they have to give to the world and the best thing to promote their own joy.  But I’m not accepting myself as enough. 

 I was getting caught up in the shoulds of writing, blogging, preparing to start a business, living healthfully- and even the shoulds of keeping clear intentions for myself and creating my life.  It’s funny how I can use anything as a weapon against myself (and I don’t think I’m alone here). Somehow, even in focusing on what I want in my life, I lost sight of those very things.  I was doing what I thought would bring me joy, would feel like freedom and result in happiness instead of doing things that are joyful, acting in ways that feel free and embracing happiness.  And being just me- whoever that is in the moment- is enough.  That *is* my path to what I want and need in my life.  It *is* my life. 

 Now, it’s not like I’m going to leave my kids hungry because I don’t feel like making dinner (see my last post…), but I can choose to leave behind the shoulds and the driven-ness, focus on the joy and move in that direction.  It feels so much better than berating myself for not following the plan that worked for me last month.  That was then, this is now. 

 My point, however, is that I didn’t lose my motivation because I’m inadequate.  I lost motivation because my true self moved beyond that particular set of externals- the particular form of daily schedule and the set of priorities that had been working for me previously.  I think this is something many of us are in the habit of doing.  When something external in our lives is no longer working, we come to the conclusion that we are the factor that is defective.  So if we can just be better, more disciplined, more driven, more focused then the problem would be solved.  Yuck.  I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. 

 What happens when we realize that we aren’t defective?  How does that idea feel?  Here is where we can find the freedom to examine our thoughts about the things we think we have to do.  If my goal is to feel joy, freedom and happiness, why do I feel compelled to do things that feel constricting?  Because they’ll bring me joy, freedom and happiness at some point in the future, even if they aren’t joyful or freeing now?  Maybe those things don’t feel constricting, and do feel joyful and free, once I realize that they fit with my deepest values and truth.  Or maybe they’re simply things that others have said are the path to joy, freedom and happiness.  Maybe they don’t apply to my life.  And then I can open up to alternatives and allow my joy and feelings of freedom to guide me to a more satisfying place. 

 The simple fact is that I far from inadequate.  I have everything I need within me to create a life of joy and embrace my happiness.  I am enough.  And I’m sharing my own path very openly to remind you as well.  Your answers are within yourself.  You are not defective or inadequate.  You are enough.

October 8, 2010

A bit about living the family life you want…

I’ve been experiencing some interesting shifts in my life over the past few weeks.  I’ve taken on a couple of new roles- my first job in 11 years (seriously) and beginning the Martha Beck Life Coach Training program.  The job is simply the result of leaving nursing school and realizing that I’m going to have to pay my student loans soon.  I work in a bookstore and it’s kind of fun and I get a good discount.  It’s a total “kid in a candy store” experience.  Coach training? I’m not sure I can entirely explain that bit of brilliant insanity.  Or at least the story is too long, but regardless of explanation, I *LOVE* it.  I can officially call myself a Martha Beck Coach in Training.  And it officially feels really funny to do that.  I will be looking for guinea pigs  clients soon and will be offering some free coaching, so keep your eyes out for an announcement.  I’ve found life coaching to be a very powerful transformative tool- transformative in the sense that one’s deepest self is honored and given voice.  Moving on…

 Maybe it’s the effect of reading all of Martha Beck’s coaching books in quick succession, or immersing myself in the training materials and classes, or that my life and entire extended family has been shaken soundly by the loss of a much loved family member, or that I’ve taken a job with varying hours so that I need to be more fluid with my regular schedule of activities (or, or, or…AND?)- but I’ve been experiencing the sort of soul deep tiredness I can only recall feeling during early pregnancy.  No, I’m definitely not growing a baby.  But I think I’m growing something new.  New awareness, new connectedness, new possibilities.  It is this soul deep tiredness that resulted in the lack of a post last week- and why this post is not going to be my usual planned,  thought out, and edited until I can live with it sort of thing. 

 What I want to write about in this moment is the power of simply showing up and doing what needs to be done.  Doing the things that ultimately create the life you want, even when in the moment you are feeling utter exhaustion, mild aversion, or even stark indifference, is one way to honor your self and your intentions.  Right now it’s tempting to go back to bed, even though it’s 1pm and I have to go to work in a few hours.  But it is also my strong intention to write and I haven’t done much writing in the past 2 weeks.  It is time to get back to it (says my essential self), so here I am.  Not doing it well, but I’m doing it.  I’m respecting my intention and giving myself the opportunity to be who I want to be. 

 So, how else can I apply this to my life?  And how can you apply this to your own?  And where does this fit in with living among others, and particularly living with our children?  For me this starts with my intention- who I want to be, the life I want to live, and how I want to feel.  Personally I have some strong intentions when it comes to how I live with my family.  I intend to have deep connections, to be supportive and loving, and to embrace every member of my family for exactly who they are.  The thing is, I can intend these ideals as much as I like, however if I do not follow through with the actions that embody these intentions, I’m not likely to have the experience that I intend.  The exact specific actions to live these intentions may sometimes be unclear- as five distinct individuals, each member of my family connects in a different way and feels supported and loved in different ways- but there are some general, across the boards ways of learning about one another.  The ones that are coming to mind at the moment are receptive listening, open ended questions, and simply doing things together. 

 I’ll be bluntly honest and admit that I don’t always feel up to doing things together and that when I’m tired I’m exceptionally challenged in the area of listening or even tolerating sound of any kind.  It’s a sensory issue- when I’m tired any auditory stimulation bores into my brain like a drill.  I’m breathing deeply right now as my daughter is in the next room humming loudly.  I value her free expression and I’m perfectly free to grab a pair of earplugs or shut the door.  I’m choosing to enjoy her enthusiasm.  My head is buzzing, but I feel wonderful in that I’m living my intention- I am embracing her bigness and her noisiness as she feels happy.  Wait a minute- I want to go give her a hug.  Okay, done. Are there other ways I could respect both her expression and my own limitations?  Sure there are.  But at this moment I’m choosing my intention over my momentary desire to close the door, climb in bed and put a pillow over my head.  At other times I might simply let the kids know I need a nap and take one.  But at this moment I’m also following my intention by continuing to write. 

 Earlier this week, I was feeling the same way and the kids wanted to play some games.  We played.  We talked about strategy and problem solving as these ideas came up.  We moved on to other games and watched a movie together- which got us talking about history and communication and how people interact.  I was tired, but I was also living my intention.  We connected deeply and I got to know who my children are at this point in  time.  It changes, flows and shifts so frequently.  I supported their desire to connect and do some fun activities.  Am I sorry I didn’t get more sleep?  No, not at all.  I was relaxed and fairly at rest the whole time.  It was good for me- by connecting with my children and connecting with my intention for our lives together I also connected to my own essential self. 

 I’m not going to clean this up and end it neatly, or even really edit it at all (if you hadn’t already guessed by the very unpolished title)…. I’ll just ask a couple questions.  Where are you, today, in this moment, choosing a momentary desire over a deeper intention?  And how might your life be different if you chose to live your intention instead?

September 22, 2010

Family Life from the Right Side of the Brain

Personal note- Today someone I love left the world, and unfortunately I am left wondering if any one of us *really* knew him or connected with him as his essential self.  Being *known* by someone is one of the greatest things we can experience in life, and I’d like to encourage everyone-  connect to your own truth, connect to your children for exactly who they are, and take the time to really see those you love, let them be known to you, and celebrate their unique being.  –  In sadness and love, Lesley

I don’t think I’m wrong in stating that most parents have, at one time or another, had questions about family life or parenting.  Of course, when we have these questions we look for answers by asking them of ourselves, or we ask our families and friends, or we ask the “experts”- or buy their books, anyway.  And many times, we don’t find the answers we seek.  This is because we are unique individuals.  Our children are unique individuals.   Our combination of unique adult individuals and unique smaller, less experienced individuals is in itself unique.  It’s also because, even if we were largely the same (and even with all that uniqueness, in some ways we are the same) there is no one right way for every family.  We can get advice from a variety of sources, but no individual family that is not yours has the answers that fit your family. 

 So, is there another way to approach this?  Yes.  There are thousands, millions, infinite ways to find answers to your questions.  Many of them come down to knowing your own family.  Knowing each individual family member and how he interacts with each other individual.  This all sounds very clinical, like you might sit down with an observation form and take notes, then take all these notes and sit and plan out what might work best.  I suppose you could, but then where is the joy?  This is where the right side of the brain comes in. 

 I think most of you probably have a general idea of what the whole right brain/ left brain thing is about.  It has been established that the left sides of our brains are largely responsible for logical thought, analysis, and orderly processing- the left brain tends to apply known concepts to the unknown in order to make sense of them.  The right sides of our brains are largely responsible for creative thought and making connections between seemingly unrelated information. The right brain takes things as they are and doesn’t so much worry about making sense of them.  While both sides of the brain work together in an integrated whole, we tend to think in an either dominantly left brained or right brained way.  Most people tend to be left brain dominant.  Whether this is human nature or it is related to our culture placing higher value on left brained thinking and action, I don’t know.  What I do know is that we can find new perspective on things by making a conscious choice to look at them from the right brained perspective. 

 So, how is this done?  There is a very commonly known art book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, that outlines an approach to using the right brain to create more accurate drawings.  The premise is that when we draw something from our usual left brained perspective, we draw it from our preconceived notion and concept of what that thing looks like.  The example my 7th grade art teacher used (and perhaps this is directly from the book- I haven’t read it, or at least not recently or thoroughly) was a face.  When people go to draw a face they generally start with a circle, representing a head.  Then they fill in the facial features based on what their brains recall about faces- the eyes are near the top, the nose below them and in between, the mouth under the nose.  This usually results in what my art teacher called “a pumpkin head”.  It’s not a drawing of an actual face, but of our left brained concept of one.  The book goes on with various methods of circumventing this left brained dominance to clearly see what is in front of us and actually draw what we see instead of our left brain’s mental concept of the object we’re drawing.  We can use the same idea in looking at our children and our families.

 We often have mental constructs of what children should be like and what our family life should look like.  These left brained constructs are very visual and rules oriented, as well as being results oriented.  This is where most parenting advice comes from.  You want your children to grow up to be this way, so parent them this way.  This has never been satisfying to me because it tends to suck the soul out of our lives, our interactions, and to some degree, our selves and our children’s selves.  Remember that whole thing about unique human beings?  Our uniqueness is where our joy, our happiness, our brilliance and radiance come from.  To find what’s right for us, we can’t take ourselves out of the equation (and here I mean collectively as a family, however, much of my work at this time is related to keeping our own individual selves in our equations).  We can truly see the uniqueness, the radiance, the brilliance and the joy of those around us by taking a right brained observer perspective.

 To do this, find a time when your family is home and all doing what they do, whether together or separate.  I suggest you start by taking a few minutes to clear your mind.  I use a brief sort of meditation to do this, closing my eyes and seeing the emptiness behind them, focusing on my breath and feeling my full presence throughout my body.  This gets you out of left brain analysis mode and into a more feeling, non-analytical, place.  Then take a look at your children, your partner, yourself, and your lives together.  Pretend you’ve never met these people, they are total strangers, and look at them without analysis or judgment, as if you are entirely new to the world and have no concept of what people do and how they interact.  Simply see what is in front of you.  See facial expressions, body movement, watch and listen to interactions, see what they are doing and how they are responding physically and emotionally to what they are doing, or to what others are doing.  Who are these people?  Why are they doing what they are doing? Just let this view of your family as strangers sink in and try to hold off on analysis for a little while. 

 Once this view integrates into your mind a little bit, check in with yourself.  Were you surprised by what you saw?  Did you notice anything new that you hadn’t noticed before? Are there, just maybe, things you were seeing through a filter of your own thinking that aren’t at all what you thought they were?

 This is a practice that, once you become accustomed to it, allows you to step away from your usual preconceived notions.  It is a way of seeing, from your right brain, things you may have missed from your usual left brained approach. It can become incredibly useful in the moment. When a family member is struggling with something, and maybe this family member is yourself, you can often see that either the problem isn’t the whole problem, or that it is.  There are times when spilled milk is the culmination of a series of tiny or gargantuan personal disasters that has pushed one to their limit.  And there are other times when someone just really wanted a freakin’ glass of milk, and that glass was the last of the carton.  The right brained perspective can show you the difference, which allows you to see more clearly and find a helpful response.  Response creates connection, which can uplift everyone.

 Give it a try!

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