From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi


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Checking in and Getting Back on Track

busy

So I have not written in a while.  In part because I have not had time. By that I mean I have been prioritizing other things and not doing a great job of prioritizing what really matters.  You may know the feeling.  I hate that feeling of busyness without real direction or results.  I think I can easily find myself lost in that when I fail to live in the present moment.

Yes, I am still meditating every day.  In those moments I feel fully present.  The last couple of weeks maintaining that feeling outside of meditation has been a challenge.  I am not sure why.  I do know I have been feeling a little burnt out and when that happens I usually fall back on the drug of busyness to drown out that feeling.  I know I should be asking myself why I feel burnt out.  Part of me is scared to ask that.  What if I get an answer?  If I get one it may be hard or difficult to do something to fix it.

I don’t know if this ever happens to you?  It is sometimes easier to standstill in a painful position than to make an uncomfortable journey to a place where you will be more at peace and happier.  I don’t mean to make it sound like I am not doing anything about it or I am just going to stand by until passes.  It is taking more effort to move forward.

Enough whining.  What am I actually doing?  Of course I still have meditation.  It is really an anchor for me as I move forward.  I have also been refocusing on gratitude.  Even taking more time to really reflect on my day while I prepare dinner so when hubby and I share our gratitude for the day they are real and not just the same old same old.  I am trying to revive my just say no project.  Probably one of the hardest things for me.  That is a post all in itself.  I am getting back to the gym in addition to my regular running.  I had gotten lazy about reading and found myself watching more TV; and sitting around.  That is about making a better choice, which is hard if you feel burnt out.  Will power and discipline are the first to go.  I have ramped up volunteering.  I know that seems counterintuitive to the whole busyness thing, but I think connecting to purpose and giving back helps to take us out of our self-absorbed focus.

What do I need to do?  I need to listen more and talk less.  What is that whole 2 ears one mouth thing, right?  I need to be less defensive and reactive when I feel threatened.  I need to disconnect from my phone more.  I embarrassed to say this remains my biggest challenge! Ugh.  I need to try to stay in the present moment and silence my internal planner.  I wish all of that was easier.  But I keep going.  Hope things are going well for you!


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I am Back…Learning to Let Go

Balance Rocks

We all have ideals.  As you may remember my goal was to write one post once a week.  Well, I failed to achieve that goal.  September and the beginning of October was unbelievably busy at work and with personal obligations.  At first I thought, “I have to find a way to also get my posts done.”  At that moment my blog was no longer an opportunity to write, an activity I love.  It became a burden and a source of guilt.  “I am not getting this done, I am failing.”  This lasted until mid-September.

Then all of a sudden I thought, “why am I guilty? ” The blog was supposed to be for me. It was supposed a vehicle to explore one of my priorities writing.  Now it was full of pressure to perform, come up with original content, and meet arbitrary expectations (held by no one but me).  So I stopped feeling guilty.  I let go of that expectation.  Now I am still a struggling perfectionist, who loves nothing more than a fully checked off list of goals and objectives.  So do not think for a minute I just threw off all expectation and jumped into the ‘hippy dippy, go with the flow’ culture.  By let go, think of it more like fingers gripping and slowly slipping from a ledge.  At first it felt frightening.  “I see the rocks of mediocrity and defeat below.”  Then a strange thing happened I gave in to the free fall.  You know what?  Today I am writing a blog about it.  I am excited to do so.  I could not wait.

How did the metaphorical slipping into the canyon of failure below become a free fall before a soft well guided landing?  For me I asked myself some questions.  How much can I realistically accomplish during this crunch time?  What can I do well? I realized the answer was not everything.  After I stopped crying about that reality; I set about a rigorous evaluation of my big goals for the year and my life.  Right now and for a short period of time work demanded more of me.  It was going to cut into chunks of my free time.  So what other priorities do I have and which did I want to go forward.

  1. Meditation
  2. Healthy Exercise
  3. Healthy Eating
  4. Volunteering
  5. Reading
  6. Helping my family
  7. Writing

I was not going to fit all of those in and not all of them at the idealized level.  Meditation is the practice that allowed me to get through this time and made me more focused and productive so it stayed.  Also it helps that it and exercise are linked in my pre-dawn 4 AM rituals.  Those were easy to keep and as of today I have 327 consecutive days of mediation.  I also have my regular running and my morning Savasana  yoga practice. I was not successful yet at adding regular strength training and biking took a back seat.  Healthy eating was up and down.  On the days I was in the office or teaching I brought my lunch but I had to travel and work late; so I did not always get to cook at home.  Overall I did not abandon that completely.

Volunteering is very important to me.  I will be doing a post about that later.  Suffice to say I found a way to continue that: my work with the no-kill cat shelter, coaching a youth run club with my husband, and volunteering for my profession through the Georgia Association of Water Professionals.  I get far more out of volunteering than I give.  Helping my family.  That has remained a challenge but I did find time to work on a project to get my mother and aunt access to some discounted transportation and I checked in at least twice a week.

So reading and writing really suffered.  I realized that I was not going to have the time or provide very valuable content on the blog since I was so wrapped up in the other things going on in my life.  I just said, “you know what, you will write when things settle down.” As hard as it is for me.  I let myself off the hook. A hook of my own making that is.  Being much more tired at night I spent less time reading.  I still did read in the morning, on flights, and a little at night. I definitely did not get as much read as usual.  I did find a way to incorporate more “reading” through audio books.  It was a good way to learn and use my time in the car between work and other obligations.

So there it is the long involved process of letting go for a recovering perfectionist and Type A personality.  How do you let go?


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Reigniting Passion

Last weekend my husband and I went to the Decatur Book Festival.  There we met a Vietnamese author who wrote a graphic novel memoir of her life.  Hubby had always wanted to do that and meeting her reignited his passion and he has been excitedly working on ideas.  It is cool to see him energized about a personal passion project.

It made me think what did I used to love. Why do I think I don’t have time to do that, or I am not good enough.  It came back to writing.  I write this blog, true.  I used to love creative writing.  Poetry, short stories that sort of thing.  So I thought why can’t I do some of that.  I don’t have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald or Emily Dickinson.  I could just write for me and where better than on the blog I started so I could write just what I wanted, just for me.  So I decided to do exactly that.  Periodically I will use my blog to explore some creative writing.  Below is a poem inspired by my meditation practice, marriage, and mindfulness.

This Moment

This moment is everything and nothing.

The ties to the past have been sliced off.

The tangled ties to the future lay untouched and smooth at my feet.

I laugh at the beauty of you.

I Weep at the pain I see there.

Both there, all of you fully before me.

I am the most perfect I will ever be

I know less than I ever will

The innocence of not knowing this moment has passed

I will never see you exactly as you are right now

I will never be exactly the same

We will never be in this moment again

Let’s just both be who and where we are

 

 


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“No” Thy Self

robert frost

Do you ever have those moments where you realize how wrong you were to agree to something only when you try to do it?  If so, you too may be someone who has difficulty saying no.  This Labor Day weekend provided a very real example.

In Atlanta Labor Day weekend is marked by Dragoncon.  If you have never been to Dragoncon just let me say it attracts 80,000 people and most of them are in various states of costume or total undress.  It is a sensory overload that is almost impossible to explain.  It was the height of Dragoncon where I found myself on Friday.  Me, a daily meditator and introvert, was going to be speaking on a panel about water.  I started realizing early on, almost right after I said yes that I don’t belong at Dragoncon.  Friday night as my husband and I squeezed through crowds and chaos toward the booth our water industry group had put up, I was as close as I have ever been to a panic attack.  I really just felt like I wanted out.

I did not run out of Dragoncon.  In fact that would be impossible given the crowds and constant pop up activities.  I spoke on the panel.  I know it was not my best effort.  I speak at a lot of events so I am aware when I am on and when I am not.  To be fair when all you can think is get me out of here, it is hard to be a stirring speaker.  As it turns out all of that stress was for nothing.  I did not even really add anything to the work of my colleagues or the listeners.

Once safely back in the car with my husband, I immediately vowed to never participate in this again.  I found myself asking out loud “why did I ever agree to this?”  I am still not sure.  I am not  people pleaser, I am fairly comfortable with who I am.  So I don’t think it was any of that.  I do take a lot of pride in my career and particularly my ability to give voice to a profession that is often overlooked and often silent.  If I am being perfectly and embarrassingly honest, it was probably to feed my ego.  Ironic that it turned out making me feel anything but accomplished.  I have to start asking myself more questions before saying yes.

The rest of my weekend was much more true to who I am.  We went to the Decatur Book Festival, exercised, spent quiet time with our cats, and time reading.  I am getting better at recognizing what is really important and valuable.  I just wish I could do it before I say yes.  Oh well I hope you had a good weekend.


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Living with Purpose

meaning

Last week I finished reading Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything.  This book went along nicely with what I have been working on for the last year.  Really trying to focus on what matters, clear out extraneous stuff, be comfortable with who I am, live mindfully with gratitude.  Though the book is written by a PhD it is written in a very accessible way and it made me think,  What is my purpose?  I definitely think I have 2 distinct areas of my life where I felt I  had a purpose but I don’t think I spent any real-time honing it down so that it was portable.

What do I mean by a portable purpose?  I think I felt connected and had this ambiguous idea of what my purpose was but I could not readily articulate it.  More important than that, I could not carry that purpose with me and pull it out mentally and ask myself does this align with my purpose?  After reading the book I sat down to think about purpose.  I focused on a professional purpose and a personal/relationship based purpose.

Work Purpose: I will make everyone value the essential role of water in their lives.  I know it seems ambitious, right?  That is the point.  A purpose is not a goal.  You aren’t even necessarily supposed to achieve it.  You are supposed to reach for it and act out of this passion, intention, and desire.  I did practice with actively making decisions from this purpose this week.  Though I think in my work life I have sort of already been doing that.

Personal Purpose: I will be present and open to the people, moments, challenges, and opportunities in my life. I am somewhat embarrassed to say it was harder to come up with my personal purpose.  If I was really aligning what was most important it should have been easier to come up with my personal purpose.  One of the reasons I am working on all of these things is to be a better version of myself and be open to learn and open to make mistakes.

Exploring my purpose was well worth the time and the work.  Now I have to do my best to live with these in the front of my mind.  Also the beauty part is you can review and change your purpose as your life changes.  I would say that is essential, since the only constant in the world is change.