From Type A to Type Ahh

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


1 Comment

Oh Yeah…That’s Progress

A_road_at_Hietaniemi_cemetery

I can often become obsessed with outcomes.  That is part of who I am, and also a trait of most perfectionists, even recovering ones.  How is this working? Have I arrived yet? Did I finish? Is this correct?  All of these thoughts can and have dominated my life for a long time.  The weirdest thing happened recently.  I realized that for the most part they don’t anymore.  Even weirder for a results oriented perfectionist, I also realized I was not consciously trying to get rid of them.  I was not really even focused on them.  Instead I was focused on adopting some positive actions.  The journey I started over a year and a half ago.

All of sudden this week I noticed that some things had actually shifted as a result of the actions I had tried to adopt.  It feels a little like compound interest of the soul.  All of these little investments and changes actually led to some real change.  I have been working on being more mindful and present and being kinder.  I had to spend a lot of time reminding myself stay present.  Or realizing three hours later that I am not even sure what I did for the last three hours; I was that much on autopilot.  Also because my nature is defensive sarcastic, I had to really consciously work to be kind.  Reminding myself be nice, be compassionate, listen.  Last week I was in several conversations, even difficult ones, and I noticed that instead of saying “be kind”, I was actually being kind.  I found myself fully engaged in moments with friends, family, my husband, and my cats.  Also I could notice when I wasn’t.

I am not sure when all of this started coming together.  Probably not a great tribute to mindfulness.   I am clueless as to when the whole thing started coming more naturally and bringing more awareness about when I am not achieving these goals.  I do think certain soul investments have been most valuable to me.

  1. Meditation everyday.  I don’t know when the promise to do it just once a day for  2 minutes  became twice a day and able to sit for 30 minutes or more.  I know the results have been revolutionary for this hyper-active, performance driven workaholic.
  2. Gratitude practice.  The sharing three things we are grateful for practice my husband I adopted before dinner is now a highlight of my day.  Not just because it makes me focus on something positive but I am learning more about what my husband finds joy in.  Also this lens, without even knowing it now changes many things in life for me.  I can view them and say “wow I am really lucky.”
  3. My Buddhist Communication Course and Insight timer Courses.  Having daily lessons and activities as well as tools to achieve better communication and deeper meditation have really helped me with clarity, honesty, and empathy.
  4. Volunteering.  This has really brought a lot of value to my life and helped me align my values and step out of myself.
  5. Going back to vegetarianism. It has helped my health I feel better than I have in years. Also it was true to my soul and values.  I believe all animals are sentient beings and eating them is just not consistent with that belief.

It was not a lightning bolt and I did not do all of these things at once.  I added them gradually as I was ready.  All of it has begun to add up. I feel, calmer, kinder, more aligned, less reactive, and more focused. Turns out incremental progress is okay after all.


Leave a comment

Change is Hard and Slow

peaceful-person

I wish I could say this was me everyday.  The reality is as I pursue this journey to a more genuine, calm, and centered version of myself it seems I take one step forward and one step back.  Like my experiment with my phone in January, which was a miserable failure.  I should be stronger than that.  I was recently listening to a podcast where they were talking about cell phones and addiction.  I could relate to some of it, but not all of it.   In small ways that made me a little more conscious about how I use my phone.  So I adjusted my more ambitious goals and I am just trying to ask myself a few questions before I pick it up.  This helps bring me more fully present.  What am I checking? Am I just bored? What do I physically feel if I just leave it?  Then I have been regularly plugging it in to charge  when I am home.  Now if I want to check it I have to walk into another room and pick up the phone.  That has a way of making you feel ridiculous.  I realized real change comes from all of these very small decisions that we consistently make and then build on, sometimes without noticing.  It also helped I was listening to the Minimalist podcast and they were talking about how if you look around and see everyone on their devices also notice that none of them seem happy.  I have been doing that, and they are right.

Meditation has been the anchor for me to making many of the small decisions and changes in my life.  I feel like it has made me more aware of what I really want.  When you get quiet, turns out you can listen alot better.  I will say for now, most of my improvement with meditation has been geared toward me.  I am definitely calmer and less reactive.  I am definitely quieter and actually much more content.  Where I still struggle is being fully present in my life especially with other people.  I have every intention of doing that and I find I fall into old habits and I will be in a conversation and suddenly I have drifted off.  I also really want to be more compassionate.  I have been working on it.  It is easier with people close to me.  I still struggle with judgement and sarcasm, which have been a part of my life for so long.  They are such a comfort zone for me.  I am trying to leave conversations that turn negative or gossipy.  Right now rising above often looks like taking off, but again baby steps.

There are other things that I have been working on that are going really well.  I would say health which is super important to me.  After 7 months as a vegetarian, I really feel like this is the right and easy choice for me.  I feel healthier and more aligned with my values of animal welfare and environmental protection.  Also as part of my work wellness rewards program I was able to get a Nutribullet Pro for free and now everyday I have one meal that is just juiced fruit, veggies and nuts or seeds and it has been great.  We rejoined a gym and I have committed to a minimum of 2 day a week strength training with the ideal of 3 days.  I can really tell a difference and it helps my running.  I am also very consistent about sleep, which has never really been a problem for me.  There are other things I could talk about but this is long enough.  I will deal with other stuff in another post.  If you are working toward a better version of you it may seem like you are not making progress.  It is a slow incremental process and I am sure you are further along than you think.

 


2 Comments

No One is Guaranteed A Tomorrow

heavenly

Pretty perky, huh?  You might have thought I would write about our recent vacation. Instead I am thinking of a dear friend we laid to rest today at 41.  He had some medical challenges and he went in for surgery on Wednesday, supposed to be routine and a start to his healing.  Something happened while he was in his room recovering and he died Wednesday night.  I had just talked with him.

Everyone who knew him takes comfort in his strong faith.  He truly had strong faith.  I am of the secular Buddhist persuasion and he was a southern Baptist.  We did not share a similar faith, but I could admire his faith and he never judged me for mine or lack thereof.  He was possibly one of the kindest and most compassionate people I knew and that was echoed in the outpouring of memorials on Facebook and throughout the Water Industry in Georgia.  Duane did not know that Wednesday would be his last day here, but the way he led his life, the impact he left behind; it feels right and complete.  I don’t mean at 41 anyone has or should be considered to have lived a long enough life. Duane lived a life full of the important things.  There is sorrow, and a sort of disbelief that none of us will benefit from his counsel or his laughter, but there is not a sense of regret. No one could say “Duane was going to give back, spend time with friends and family, after he retired.”  Duane was living in the here and now, fully present for those who knew and loved him.   It made me think what if that happened to me?  Am I living like Duane?

Do I spend too much time projecting into the future or analyzing the past.  When I could spend a few more minutes cuddling my husband and cats in bed; do I always have to bolt out to start the to do list?  Could I be more engaged when my mom tells me the same story for the 10th time?  Do I have to interrupt and say yes you told me that.  The truth is, sooner rather than later she won’t be here to tell it at all.  I could take that extra moment to be  kinder and more patient.  I could see that maybe someone is hurting and put aside the project at hand just to listen.  My pursuit to slow down, be more present, be more compassionate continues.  Life provides guides and opportunities.  Duane was at first a guide, a truly compassionate, non-judgmental  person.  Now he has given me an opportunity to recognize where I can grow and improve. No one is promised tomorrow so we better start today.  Rest in Peace, my friend.  You are gone but the lessons you left live on.


Leave a comment

Sometimes it is a Struggle

So I am really working on myself and for the most part I would say it is going pretty well.  I have definitely made some positive changes and reaped some surprising rewards as discussed in my previous post.  With progress and mindfulness comes the recognition of how far we still have to go and how we are always a work in progress.  I guess we should be happy to still be employed in this work, the alternative is not great.

So what am I struggling with right now?  Gossip.  It is like the national past time of my office and even when I set my intention to be compassionate and act out of kindness and gratitude I still find that I can spiral into this easily.

Thank-God-for-all-the-gossip There is some good news.  I do find that I am far more aware that I am participating in gossip than before, where it was sort  of an unconscious act.  It may be a few minutes into the session but I find I will become hyper aware that I am participating in something that brings no value and might be damaging to someone else.  I do try a few things, I am not just going along aimlessly.  If I hear friends I am visiting with descend into gossip, I try to excuse myself.  If it is starting up outside my office I will close my door like I am about to take a conference call.  For the most part the challenging times are when the gossip is about someone I am personally struggling with myself.  That does not make me proud; I think it makes me human.

So I am interested in what you struggle to improve.  If like me it is gossip, are you doing something I am not?  Do you have any tips?  Once I am done with session and I am back in my office and the contact high you get from gossiping with your friends is gone it leaves me feeling empty and a little ashamed.


Leave a comment

Family and Feeding Your Soul

Feed-your-soul-meme

I wish I had this quote yesterday.  So yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I don’t know about all of you but one of the most challenging forks in my road to being a better, more peaceful, calmer, and more compassionate person drives right through my family.  It is a bumpy and unpaved road.  Yesterday was yet another day to prove the rule.

I won’t go into all of it.  Suffice to say my mother, who I love very much, is addicted to a certain kind of chaos and martyrdom.  She says yes to the wants of everyone and the care of every person, except herself.  My sister, who has battled depression and eating disorders, throughout her life continues down the same path she has always travelled.  When that path is on a downward trajectory her greatest pleasure is piling as many folks into the car as possible on the way down.  Sounds like fun?  Would you like to join us for a Fourth of July Barbecue?

Normally, I would have suffered through dinner, drank more than enough wine and actually, if I am being honest, have helped raise the discord because I have been unable to not take the bait I have been conditioned to take.  This time was different.  Their moods and idiosyncracies  became their own.  I no longer needed to respond.  Instead I focused on Mom’s big heart and how tough she is. I was able to fully celebrate all of who she is as a woman without the judgement.  For my sister I found a new profound, compassion.  I can’t imagine being that unhappy having that much pain.  Stripping the joy from even the things you love.  She was remarking how her dogs, her passion, are nothing but a burden now.  I had a flash of my cats and how they, along with so many things, feed my soul.

Today I was off of work, because I have to work through Saturday and instead of just saying “sure I will do that.”  I found a day in my calendar with nothing scheduled and told my boss I was switching days off.  No long explanation.  I don’t have to work an extra day.  That has always been a choice.  There will be times when I feel I have to, but today was not that day.  I found my sister on my mind as I got up this morning.  I saw my husband off.  I went to my mediation space did a little yoga and sat.  After that I had a healthy breakfast and went for a run and a bike ride.  While on the trail looking at people and nature, listening to birds and feeling my strong healthy body, I felt my soul recharge.  I felt that compassion for my sister and my mother.  I have not always been as diligent about these issues of self care in the past, but I have also never been like my mom and sister.

Today as I fill my soul and get ready for the week, I hope that my family can strip away the pain and find the purpose and the joy in even the difficult or mundane things.  Tomorrow I head off, for purpose driven work I enjoy.  I have a new softer place of compassion for my family.  The freedom of realizing their choices don’t have to be mine so I don’t have to be judge and jury.