Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Mother of all Choices

Take a moment and think back on some of the decisions you've made this week.  Then go back farther, this month, last year, the last ten years.  Ponder the big life changing choices as well as the routine day to day ones that frame your routines.  Influencing  all of those moments is one big overarching decision; do you believe in abundance or scarcity.  To put it another way, do make your choices from a mindset of joy and love or fear.  If our lifetimes are as a tapestry, with all the moments, decisions and experiences the stitches, imagine what a tapestry of joy and abundance would look like.  And then image how lack and fear would influence the pattern.  If you don't like what you are creating, know that it is never too late to change your mind.

Happy Mothers Day!!  : )

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Failing to Succeed

The most effective way to learn new stuff is to do it to the point that you are lousy at it, and then keep practicing.  This is call working at the edge of your ability, and its a really uncomfortable place to hang out because it requires focus, challenging our negative self talk and the willingness to fail.

A good part of the population is extremely allergic to the idea of failure.  Over the years, centuries maybe, failing has gotten a bad rep.  Its gotten all tangled up and equated with mistakes, which are completely different.  Working to the point of failure is intentional and gives information about what requires strengthening.  Mistakes, by definition, are not intentional and presuppose that the person making the error is adept at the exercise and could have done better.  Although mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing either.  By examining the mistake, without negative self talk, a lot of useful information can be had.  Failing while working at threshold is a little like lifting weights, when you get to the point that you can't do one more rep you don't say, "I've made a mistake". Most people recognize that this is the point where the muscle is being tasked and that will allow for growth and better performance.  There is very little gains made while working in the comfort zone.

Ah, the comfort zone.  This is easy, feels good and can be performed with very little thought.  Beautifully defined by the saying, "I could do it in my sleep."  What's missing?  Focus!!  Engaging the mind, turning on the learning regions of the brain.  If you haven't intentionally focused in a while, its going to feel like a muscle that hasn't been worked for some time, wimpy, hard to do and not very, uh, comfortable.  But this also gets easier with practice.  One of the best ways to work out your focusing ability is through meditation.  Start small if its been a while, maybe just a few minutes a day, and eventually those focusing skills get stronger.  When you've been working at "the edge" your comfort zone is a great place to visit to get some R &R, but its not a good place to live.  Seriously, it gets boring and nothing new is happening.

And that leads us to what do you remember about the last time you started something new?  Was it, wow this is really hard, I'll never be able to finish this, other people can and are doing this better than me, I'm too old?  (Add your very own limiting thought here.)  Negative self talk is the most effective way to shut down any forward movement.  Here's a plan to tackle your next encounter with negativity. 

1)  What is the feeling that comes up when you think about or start something new?
2)  What is the thought that is causing that feeling?  (There is always a thought!)
3)  Imagine what it would be like if that thought wasn't true?
4)  What would be a little better feeling thought?
5)  What small step would you now take toward your new project?  (Like just looking up stuff on the Internet, making a list, picking out some fun colored files, etc.)
6)  Congratulate yourself on taking that action!
7)  Repeat as needed.

As a society, we've learned to play it safe and have gotten too cozy with comfort.  The baby boomers are aging, and the best way to keep your mind and body healthy is to learn new challenging things.  Daniel Seigel states in his book, MindSight, that the real reason our brain starts to decline at mid life is not the result of our aging bodies, its simply because we have reached the pinnacle of our careers and stopped challenging ourselves.  If you don't use it, you lose it.  What are you going to fail at today? Keep in mind, if you always succeed you are making a big mistake.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Just in Time Life

Last night I was preparing home made cat food when a friend called and I mentioned that when I adopted my current kitties, P.J. came with very specific feeding instructions.  Which I laughed at and proceeded to "train" the kitty to eat his dry food, well, dry.  The instructions included wetting the food with water and microwaving for several seconds.  Flash forward to last night as I'm finding myself sauteeing garlic and chicken and cooking brown rice.  What changed?  Need.  My female cat, Beatrix, has digestion issues and I have racked up $1000's of dollars in vet bills and cleaned up untold amounts of, well, you don't want to hear the gory details, I'm sure.  The point is, it became necessary to make the aforementioned meal because I ran out of money and cleaning supplies. 

So I started thinking about other parts of my life and the processes I've developed.  And what I've noticed is that with some tasks, laundry, paying bills, cleaning the litter box, I do just what is necessary to keep things in order, I do them just in time.   And then there are other things, like reading, taking classes and shopping that I do with abandon and much more elaborately and without a nod to need.  That got me thinking about all the habits in my life.  Are there some things I don't love to do, but spend more time than necessary performing.  What activities do I love but am denying for lack of time or because they aren't necessary?  I'm taking an inventory this week to ensure my life is lining up with my priorities because really I don't care if I have a meticulous garden or a perfectly detailed car.  As long as the plants are still alive and I can indentify the color of my car, I'm good.  I'll spend "just enough time" on these activities so I can have more time for the really fun things. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What You Deserve

Recently, three friends got new cars which has rekindled my desire for a transportation upgrade.  Mind you, I don't need a new car, the one I have is running just fine.  But its eleven years old and a SUV,  and I prefer driving something a little more sleek than an apartment on wheels.  I inherited this car from my dad when he couldn't bear to "give away" the truck to a dealer for a mere $6000.  I did point out that if he "gave" it to the dealer instead of me, he'd be $6000 richer, but he said it was the principle of the thing.  My family has a weird, probably unhealthy attachment to their autos, but thats a subject for another day.  I happily accepted it because my 93 miata had seen better days and I didn't really want to take on a car payment. 

But that was over 2 years ago, and I'm ready for a new car.  And if you'd believe the auto company advertisements, I deserve a new car!  Now this is where it gets sticky because while I would love to agree with this mega industrys assessment of my rights, I'm wondering who is going to pay for it.  Not me, I deserve it therefore it should just show up in my driveway.  Deserve is one of those tricky words; it sounds like empowerment, but it really is just another representative of victim language.  "Deserve" feels like you are owed, that it is a right and someone or something is not allowing you to have it.  It is a very powerful word, and advertisers know it.  How often have you heard this in a commercial , "I "you" deserve a new dress, pair of designer shoes, a couple of designer houses.  I "you" work hard and haven't had anything new in about 60 seconds!" 

So, how do you get around the "deserve drama" that is so prevalent today.   Try changing the word, "deserve" for "want", and see if it is true.  Do you really want a vacation home is Spain, or is this just in response to a rivals acquisition or a question of keeping up with the Jones's.  Did you notice when you said "I want" it became less graspy and more empowering?  Wanting is a good thing and helps define where you are going.  And then setting an intention to get it allows your brain to start coming up with really cool ways to acquire your hearts desire.  And don't be surprised if the universe kicks in with a little help.  But not because you deserve it.

We deserve what we are able to provide for ourselves.  Do you feel you deserve respect, love, and heres a hot topic just for fun, health care?  I would ask you to start with yourself; do you respect and love you?  If so, are you aligning yourself with people, companies and institutions that also believe in these values?  And even then, do you stick up for yourself when the line is crossed or leave when it is not respected?  You do!, Congratulations, you are getting what you deserve!

For Mary,  deserve de-serves you!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Your Relationship with You, How's that going?

There are two types of relationships, the one we have with ourselves and the one with everyone else.  We spend so much time working on the connections with family, coworkers, community, religions, etc.  But the most important relationship, the one we have ultimate control over and gives us unlimited resources for navigating this life, is the one that is constantly neglected and trivialized.  And that most precious connection is the one we have with ourselves.

Yes, I know it's not been the highest of priorities for societies, past and present, to support self reliance amongst the people.  As a matter of fact, thinking for yourself and yes valuing the individual has been deemed downright subversive. Well, you can see their point, if you have a community of people thinking and doing for themselves, its a lot harder to control that particular group.  And then how would you get those people to give you money and power if they don't need you to make decisions for them?

Don't misunderstand me, we are social beings and require communities for connection and growth.  But thats only part of the picture and somehow its become the only thing most people focus on.   Life is balance and your personal growth is a key to that equation.   How much time have you spent taking care of your physical and mental body this week?  Are you exercising your decision making muscle and keeping your thoughts positive and productive?  What can you do this week to start incorporating self care into your routine?  Hmm......

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Going to the Hardware Store for Eggs"

I heard that quote recently, can't remember where, but it stuck.  I started thinking, wow, who would do that?  Which lead to, I do, all the time and I bet you do, too.  Don't think so? Do you argue with reality, like Byron Katie suggests in her book, "Loving What Is"?  Are you still shaking your head, "No way!"

How many times have you thought about the way so and so does not appreciate, notice or care about what you are doing, and that this happens all the time.  Hmm, so your boss doesn't give you the recognition you want, and never has, but you still expect it and are disappointed when she doesn't come through for you.  Dare I say it?, You are going to the hardware store for eggs!  You are arguing with the reality that the boss does not give recognition.  But, you say, she should do what you want her to do, and I bet you have lots of reasons why and many compelling arguments.  Doesn't matter, she still isn't doing it.  And you are the only one who is feeling the stress over something that is not likely to change because I would bet that if asked, the boss will have a lot of reasons why and many compelling arguments to support her position. 

So now what?  Do you change jobs, break up with your spouse, start a whole new career?  You can, but wouldn't it be just that much simpler to stop expecting people to give you what they can't or won't?  What if you shopped around for a better source for your wants.  Starting with yourself, what can you give yourself that you currently are outsourcing? Then, make a list of people who share your same world view and call those folks when you want some outside feedback.

You can continue to argue with the hardware store manager about the lack of eggs. And you can write letters to your congressman and regularly visit the store to harrass the clerks about the absence of poultry output.  

Or, you can go the the grocery store.