From Type A to Type Ahh

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


Leave a comment

Prioritizing

keep-calm-and-focus-on-priorities.png

I know I have been MIA on the blog, but that is actually proof that I am making progress toward being less of a perfectionist.  The fact is there have been a lot of things going in my life and I tried to focus on what was really important.

Since I last wrote my husband and I have taken a trip to see our family in California, I have been gone to a conference for work for a week and I came back from 2 weeks across country to start a brand new job as the Division Manager of Customer Service for my utility.  Add to that my best friend is undergoing chemo for colon cancer, my cat Pablo had Radioactive Iodine to treat his hyperthyroidism, the regular family obligations with my mom and aunt, and my volunteer work at Good Mews cat shelter.  What I believe I have finally grasped is maybe you can do everything, but even if you think you are you are not doing them well and you are paying a price.

I did things differently and even though all of that may sound overwhelming, I have not felt overwhelmed.  That has been the most significant example of how much I have changed in the almost two years ago I started this process.  I think there have been two big changes  I have been able to let go of what is no longer important.  For work that meant actually quitting obligations tied to my old job.  I did it compassionately but I also did it completely. In the past transition has been so stressful because guilt or fear of losing out or losing status have kept me with one foot in the new changes and one foot in the past.  This is a tough and stressful line to straddle.  It was so freeing to contact all of my committees and organizations and just simply say I took a promotion and I can no longer do this.  You know what?  Everyone was fine, they were even happy for me and grateful for all I had done.

The other change was me. In this stressful period I now find that I have a calm and clarity I never had before.  I am able to focus on one thing at a time.  More important I am able to admit to myself and others that we may want to get this done and we will in the future but everything has a time and a season and this is not the priority right now so it will have to wait.  I credit meditation with helping to calm my frenetic mind.  I know it has helped me to become a more compassionate and centered person.  As I write this I am at day 699 of meditation.  I owe a debt of gratitude.  Things are settling down so I hope to be back at blogging more regularly.  Hope you have a wonderful day. Namaste.


1 Comment

Morning Routines

Good-Morning-View-Picture

One of the hot self-help trends is morning routines.  As a regimented and very disciplined person I am of course a fan of routine.  So naturally this is something near and dear to my heart. Recently, I have really tried to be present during my morning routine and throughout the day to check in on the impact it has.  I will say right now is a fairly stressful time for me personally.  I care for my elderly mother and aunt, I am supporting my best friend through her battle with cancer, and I am in transition to a new leadership position at work.  Taking time to evaluate my morning routine seemed like a smart move.

What is my morning routine?  First, I will say I am a woman so it starts early.  No offense guys, but the women reading this know what I am talking about.  I want to carve out a part of the day just for me without negatively impacting those in my life who depend upon me.  For me that is the folks I mentioned above, plus my husband, my cats and my fellow volunteers at the cat shelter.  Our only kids have fur and 4 feet.  So during the week my day begins at 4 AM.  I get up and first thing I feed my cats their breakfast.  Since all of our cats eat a raw diet and they are all geriatric I sit with them so I can evaluate how each is eating and keep on top of any potential health problems before they get out of hand.  It takes about 15 minutes to dish out food feed each cat and for the last cat, Lena, to finish her breakfast.  Lena also has a morning routine and it includes a leisurely meal. She will not be rushed by her impatient and piggy siblings.

After the cats eat I administer morning meds to those who take them and I prep the ingredients for my smoothie that I eat for breakfast.  It is always some combo of fruit, greens, and nut butter or seeds and water I put the prepped smoothie in the fridge.  I add ice before I mix it in my nutribullet.  After that I put on the running clothes I have laid out the night before, take my vitamins and some water and head out for a couple of miles listening to my podcasts.  There is nothing quite like the quiet of a 4:30 AM run.  After my run I come in and head down to the finished basement.  I clean the cat litter that lives down there.  The others were cleaned while they ate.  After that I do 3 Vinyasa Flow Series into Downward Dog (Cat in my case).  Nothing alters your perspective for the day like starting it upside down.  After that I light the candle in my meditation area and I sit for my meditation using my Insight Timer. By that time it is 5:30 AM.  My 90 minutes of me time has come to an end. I wake my husband and jump in the shower.

After the shower I have really shortened my getting ready regimen.  Part was  I came to realize I don’t need much make-up or fancy hair care.  Part was streamlining my wardrobe.  Keeping only clothes I love.  I also select and hang up in my bathroom, my clothes the night before.  Mascara and blush, a little mousse through my curly hair and I am good to go.  I make the bed,  add ice to my prepped smoothie glass, turn on my Nutribullet, get my cup of black coffee, and 20 oz. of water.  I ask Alexa to play my flash briefing that starts with a positivity piece and then unbiased NPR news, and a word of the day and today’s weatehr and my schedule for the day.  I then read from my Kindle, whatever book I am currently reading, finish my breakfast, do the dishes, brush my teeth and hubby and I leave the house together as long as school is in session.

What have I noticed?  In the past if I had this much going on I would feel constantly stressed.  I would also feel like doing everything was a burden and an unfair expectation.  Creating a little space everyday to start in a calm healthy way has helped me to change my perspective. I find that though a lot is going on, I feel privileged to be in a position to help.  I treasure the alone time in my morning routine but that allows me to also appreciate the quiet time with my husband and cats too.  It is like a mini-vacation or reset everyday.  Maybe getting up at 4:00 AM sounds like torture. I am sure if I did not also go to bed by 9:00 PM it would feel like that to me too.  Since I have set some priorities and morning rituals it makes everyday easier especially the tough ones.


2 Comments

Origins

new-beginningsI was listening to a podcast this week about origin stories.  I thought about how much had changed in my life over the last 20 months.  It is a lot.  Since I am nearly 50, I was trying to think what made me want to change some things about my life.  From appearances I would have seemed pretty successful and to have everything under control.  I was respected in my career, had a good marriage, home, fiends, etc.  I think most of the time I was on autopilot and in those moments I wasn’t, I was usually pretty reactive and frankly pretty raw.  I had a lot of the things we think about as being ideal.  The reality was I was often restless, snarky, judgmental, angry, and mean.  What I lacked was what I really wanted, more peace.  I wanted to feel internally what it looked like I had externally to most people.

Why all of a sudden?  Then listening to this podcast I thought what was my origin story? At first I thought,  nothing. Then my mind drifted back to 2013-15.  That was not a super time for me.  What is that saying, if everything can go wrong it will go wrong.  My husband and I were robbed twice the first time was a shock and then the second time about 3 months later.  After they had watched the house and made sure we replaced everything.  We were renting and our landlord decided the house was safe enough he was not going to make any changes. So we broke our lease, with his consent, and had to find a new place to live rapidly.  The situation was not ideal. It was our most stressful move.  The house we moved into needed work none of it was done.  I had to keep leaving work to get things finished.  I had a brand new boss. Also our previous landlord, the one who did nothing to prevent the repeated break-ins, decided he would not refund our deposit since we left after being robbed twice in 3-months.

I was taking care of my mother who was having eye surgery at the time.  Then in the spring I got a phone call.  We were not celebrating Easter. My brother was in the hospital.  By that evening we were all in the hospital when his surgeon told us they removed his colon but the cancer was everywhere and he very little time left.  He was gone in less than 2 weeks.  We had not been close, but he did live with my mother and handle some day to day duties, so now I needed to find someway to take care of her.  In the meantime my aunt fell and went in to rehab.  My sister ended up with some severe chronic health problems.

I was stressed, tired, overwhelmed, everyone was looking to me and I was trying to keep it together.  My husband was there every step of the way but I am afraid I took out most of my frustration on him.  I had running as an outlet and it helped.  I needed something else.  The what else was not immediately obvious. In fact I tried several things.  Then at the end of 2016 I injured my foot and they said no running.  I am not going to lie.  I was hanging on by a thread.  That is when I decided to try one thing.  Meditate everyday even if just for a minute.  If you read this blog you will know that it has helped me in so many ways to become a better, truer version of myself. By doing that I have been able to give more openly to those I care about and causes I value.  What kicked you into change?


1 Comment

Rising Above

helping the sickConfession time.  I could never be Mother Theresa.  The fact is I am not very good with illness and I spend an irrational amount of time and energy making and following through on healthy habits.  Here comes the irony part, every single member of my family has died from or currently faces debilitating illnesses.  Now my best friend is facing a battle with cancer.  Though I have been working hard to be non-judgmental, easier with my friend.  Not as easy with my family.   It is hard to spend so much of your time immersed in the ramifications of a lifetime of bad decisions and not sometimes feel a little bitter and angry.

People often remark when I pack my healthy vegetarian, usually Vegan lunch everyday, forgo dessert at work celebrations, get out of bed every morning at 4 AM to run, cook dinner at home most nights, and regularly include chiropractic and gym visits into my life; “I could never do that.”  I would be giving up so much.”  I try to explain with all honesty nothing tastes as good as being healthy.  I will never look back and think I wish I had watched more TV, and wasted less time exercising or meditating.  In fact over the last 2 years the biggest difference in how I react to my family and what feels like unwelcome obligations brought on by someone else’s irresponsible choices  has been to prioritize my own health both physical mental.  My mother in particular has had a different life philosophy.  She has always subscribed to the idea that to truly help someone you have to give all of yourself, until it hurts, literally.  For a time I also tried that.  What I found was bitterness and resentment, exhaustion and poor health.

I wanted to serve with a happy heart.  I wanted to be as judgment free as I could be, given the circumstances  I know this may sound cliché and like “Sure, Right.  Maybe you can do that, but I live in the real world.”  I get it.  I was there.  In the nearly two years I have been adapting my lifestyle, I have found that well I have to draw from for service is far deeper when I take care of myself first.  If I continue to keep the commitments of mental and physical health I made to myself, I am a better caretaker.  They are not life altering. I want to eat healthy so I have that food on hand with me.  I want to run so I get up at 4 AM so I have time just for me when everyone who might need me is fast asleep.  As soon as I finish my run I meditate.  Most nights as I lay in bed, where I would previously silently stew in bitterness, judgment and resentment about why I am stuck doing all of this.  I now meditate.  I sleep better.  These simple promises and gifts I give myself make all the difference in how I approach caregiving.  It also frees up a lot of the chaos and anxiety in my life, so I have room to embrace the unexpected.  It is not a perfect system.  I certainly wish health on my friends and family.  Finding this gap for myself fills my well so I can give to others.


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.


2 Comments

The Not So Pretty Truth

Truth

So I guess the whole reason that we, people, try new things, adopt resolutions, set goals is to be a better version of ourselves.  At least that is true for me.  A better version for me means a more present, calmer, and compassionate person.  I have been working on that.  It means letting go of  a lot.  For a self-proclaimed, and let’s be honest, other proclaimed uptight perfectionist it isn’t easy.

Again more honesty.  I was feeling pretty good about my progress.  I am less reactive, I do notice when I am acting out of judgement, etc.  For god sake I meditate!  Then I decided to set limits on my phone.  What no one tells you about the road to a better you is that you walk a lot of it in the harsh light of day with the current version of you.  I have to say limiting my phone has been harder than meditating everyday.  A fact I am not proud of!  Could I really be so dependent on some small metal and glass device.  Sadly, the answer is yes.

I had a couple of hurdles to overcome.  The first is well-known and often written about FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.  Without accessing social media for a month and not accessing my phone for several days a week once I leave work, I felt two things I was unprepared for: anxiety and guilt.  Anxiety came from the fear of not being responsive to a work issue that might rise.  It had been a long time since I physically and mentally left the office.  It felt strange.  I somehow felt unmoored.  What was going on at the office and if I was not fixing it who was?  Yeah I know right? Ego much?  I had kind of taken a lot of pride in being the always available hero of my own narrative.

The other issue of guilt took me more by surprise.  I felt really guilty being home and setting that boundary between work and home.  They had inadvertently over the years melted into one thing. I am home but mentally tethered to my work umbilical cord courtesy of Apple.  Why was I feeling guilty about leaving work at work and trying to be present with my husband, family, friends and cats?  As if that question was not bad enough.  I found an even worse one.  Why wasn’t I guilty about all the time I was not being physically and mentally present at home and in my relationships?

Well the struggle is real, and the truth can be ugly.  Until we look it dead in the eyes and set the phone to airplane mode.  Still on the uncertain road to better version of myself.  One missed tweet at a time!


2 Comments

Slow Holidays

christmas-tree-and-lights-1140x641 Is this time of year like all the songs say?  Happiness and joy fill the air, you spend cool winter nights laughing with loved ones and sharing time.  If you are like most people this time of the year makes you question where this imagery even came from.  It can seem like an endless blur of obligations, errands, over spending and over indulging.  Probably one of the reasons New Year’s resolutions are so popular; we feel the need to cleanse and relax after the hustle and bustle.  That is what I used to think about the holidays too.  Last year, moved by recent events, my husband and decided Christmas would be different.  I wanted to bring happiness, peace and comfort and so did he.  We decided no gifts for or from anyone but we did make charitable donations to causes and organizations that meant something to the recipients. We also adopted a child for the holidays from boy and girls club and we gave items on the wish list of Good Mews, the shelter where I volunteer.  I have to say for the first time in many years I really felt the holiday spirit.

This year we are doing another slow, giving holiday.  We don’t spend every free minute attending holiday parties, because we are not really party people.  Instead we are going to see some local theatre, walk and run through Christmas lights and spending time together.  Hubby gets his Christmas break from school.  Because work is so slowat this time of the year, I usually take off nearly 2 weeks also.  It is a great time to reconnect.  No gifts again this year, but more charitable giving.  This year I will be giving a person clean drinking water on behalf of each of my friends and family.  You can find out more at Charity Water.  For each $30 donation you provide clean water to one person in the world.  What could be a better gift?  With our recent switch to vegetarianism I think we have a handle on the usual over indulgences.  I will bake some cookies, but not 12 dozen like past years.  I want to enjoy the experience.  Being more mindful and slowly baking a few cookies to share while listening to my favorite holiday music will make them more special for me and those I share them with.  On a side note I don’t have to fear the after Christmas bills and my husband and I can use the money we would have used to buy more stuff we don’t need to finish paying for the trip we are taking to the Bahamas in February.

I hope you all find time for what is truly important this holiday season!