From Type A to Type Ahh

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


2 Comments

Another Birthday

images-of-birthday-cakes-HD2

So truth be told I am not really a birthday kind of girl.  First of all  I am not that fond of being the center of attention, especially for no other reason than I apparently survived another year.  I don’t like parties, not a huge fan of balloons, and have really no sweet tooth so I don’t enjoy desserts. Also there may be some things from back in my childhood that made birthdays a less than stellar experience.  For that reason  birthday festivities are something I usually let pass by.

This year when my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday I did something different.  Usually, I just say nothing and we do nothing or have a quiet dinner, which is fine too.  Or I tell him something very specific he drives to get it instead of me.  This year as we celebrate 26 years together, my last year in my 40s and our 20th wedding anniversary, I told him what I wanted for my birthday was for him to think of me and do what he thought I would like or enjoy.  This should not be a mystery.  I mean we have been together a long time and spoiler alert, I am not an enigma.  In fact with the exception of Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rainman and a Military drill Sargeant I might be the most regimented person in the world.  See my previous blog on discipline.

I think at first he was a little lost, I mean I am pretty regimented; he was prepared to hear from me what he always heard.  Flash forward to yesterday, my birthday.  He knocked it out of the park.  Yesterday morning as he handed me the gifts he had put together he had perfectly woven together a set of gifts that enable and improve my daily morning routine of 4:30 AM run followed by meditation.  The gifts don’t really matter and don’t need to be listed.  What matters is how perfectly me they were.  How they addressed these small things that I have just tossed off in our daily discussions.  I don’t harp on them I don’t go on and on.  Ladies, here is the swelling music part, he was listening.  All of this time he was listening and remembering and thinking about how these small things would change the most pivotal part of my day.

After I opened the gifts, which I loved, and which do all the things I mentioned above. I realized that I got what I was really asking for.  I got someone to see me.  To really see who I am and what is important to me.  I don’t think there can be a better gift than knowing the person you share the most intimate moments of life with really gets you.  That made it the most perfect birthday!


Leave a comment

Giving Single Tasking A Try

focus-22

Work has been crazy and I have felt literally underwater.  My husband and I leave on Monday for an early 20th anniversary trip to the Bahamas.  We will be at an all-inclusive resort.  I had an audacious goal.  I want to fully be on vacation, no checking into work or answering a few emails.  There seemed to be insurmountable obstacles between me and that goal: emails I had not had time to answer since December, scheduled all day outreach programs, project deadlines, and a back log of office work.  This week I employed two things that I have been actively trying to work on: saying I am sorry I can’t do that and single-tasking.  Truth be told they were hard and had the reward, an actual work and guilt free vacay with my life partner of 26 years, not been there I would have descended into old habits.  Eye on the prize…she persisted!

How did it go?  I did something I have never done.  I had nearly 1,000 email to go through so I set aside an entire morning and went through them one by one.  I have done that before, of course I have usually had on podcasts or been answering the phone or talking to someone in my office at the same time.  This time I just did my email.  More about the unexpected power of single tasking later.  Here is what I never did before.  I  deleted emails without doing what the person asked, if they just emailed out of the blue and it was not relevant.  I also responded to some and said something I never say, “I am sorry I don’t have time.”  I have to admit at first I felt guilty than I felt liberated.  It is freeing to realize you don’t have to do everything, just because someone asks.

That list of the insurmountable number of things I had to do, I decided to try single tasking.  Meaning giving each task my full attention while doing it.  Admittedly my husband has been going on and on about this for years.  How I should just focus on one thing!  Of course great for him, he is a guy. Right, ladies?  It kills me to say this, because he was right, I actually got so much done in much less time and feel like I did a better job.  Of course I hate it because he was right.  I love him of course; I just don’t necessarily love him being right instead of me.  Long story short I walked out of work on time yesterday, put my out of office to back February 26 can’t be reached and I am ready to be fully present with just my husband in the Caribbean.  See you when we return!


1 Comment

Control Confession

embarrassed

Fair warning this is embarrassing and sorry if you may see yourself in this too.  Believe me I did not want to see myself.  So first things first.  I am writing this blog on a Wednesday morning exactly 48 minutes into what would be by normal work day.  This is causing me only mild heart palpitations.  How did I get here and what did I find out.

This is one of those weeks and I have to admit even the more Zen version of myself has been staring it down on my calendar.  I have to work late nearly everyday this week.  In the past this is how this would have played out.  I would show up at work at my normal time, meaning at least 10 minutes before my scheduled start time 7 AM. I would work through lunch and then continue on with my evening obligations of speaking, teaching, etc.  I would bolt some innocuous meal between driving from event to event and then get home exhausted and take it out on my husband while running around the house like a lunatic, maniacaly setting up to do it all over tomorrow.  Instead I am writing my blog at 7:53.

What changed?  This is where the big, embarrassing realization happened.  In preparation for this week I asked myself why was I doing this.  If I knew I had to work long hours, why was I still coming in at 7 AM and pushing through meals, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great if my answer was because I am driven by a purpose greater than myself and the work I do is a calling I follow without regard to additional hours.  Caveat, I am passionate about what I do.  I mean really who does not need clean drinking water?  However, I am not singularly passionate.  It does not eclipse my family, my husband, my friends, and my cats.  Why was I always making this choice?  I am after all a big fan of control.  Imagine my surprise when I got quiet during meditation and the answer seemed clear.  If I did not do this what would everyone think of me?  What?  I am an independent, strong woman.  I am a control freak.  Was the truth that I had always been turning over my control to popular opinion? That I had made this decision over and over to project and protect this image of a hyper-focused professional?  An opinion might I add, I had no evidence even existed.

Turns out the answer was yes.  Face Palm!  So here I am.  I got to write my blog, I enjoyed my run, meditation, yoga, and I calmly prepped for tomorrow this morning.  So tonight after my event, instead of the inevitable “I am tired and I am stressed let’s fight to the death” evening with my husband.  We are planning a relaxing dinner out.  I will leave you with this popular, though often disregarded thought.  “We would not spend time worrying about what others thought of us; if we realized how rarely they do.”


Leave a comment

What I Learned from Winter Storm Benji

I live in Georgia and I have off and on since I was 12 years old.  Mostly on, if you must know.  Two weeks ago I experienced something I have never experienced in 36 years here.  We got 10-inches of snow.  As you can see it was quite beautiful.  I should be writing about the majesty of this once in a southern girl’s lifetime experience.  I wish I could say that I was able to let go of being out of power for nearly 3 days and surrender to the moment.  That would not really be the truth.  If I am being perfectly honest there was good and bad out of the experience and it served to further teach me both, how far I have come and how far I have left to go.  I believe our whole life is a work in a progress.  Sometimes we feel like we are nailing it and sometimes we feel like we are being nailed by it.

To say the region was somewhat unprepared for an actual snow storm is an understatement.  We are usually a rumor of snow, strip the shelves of bread and milk kind of people in Atlanta.  This time was different.  We were coming off a few years of anticipated winter events that never were.  Even our usually jacked up local meteorologists had a “chill it is just flurries” vibe as the models rolled in hinting at a more serious event.  Well the snow started falling Friday morning and by 10 AM businesses and schools were issuing early closings.  I was excited about a weekend snowed in with hubby and my cats though a little frustrated that it might put me further behind my chill holiday schedule.  That changed pretty much as I slid into our garage after a challenging ride home.  I think I was in the door 5 minutes when our power went out for the first time.  This time it as out a little less than 4 hours.

When it came back I was grateful.  I was so nervous about my husband making it home because they dismissed elementary school last.  I was truly grateful when he pulled up even though I had to yell out that the garage door would not work because we had no power.  Still we were able to enjoy a run in big fluffy snow.  This is not the kind we ever see.  I could fully immerse myself in that.  The power remained on that evening and I felt a sense of gratitude and peace that you get when you realize the riches of having a home and all of your loved ones safe.

Long story short we awoke at 4 AM Saturday to a cold house and no power.  It had gone out sometime during the night as snow continued to accumulate all night, into the morning.   There were catastrophic power outages, icy and snowy roads.  We were without power until Sunday evening at 7 PM.  This turned out to be earlier than many folks were restored.  I would like to say that I handled it all in stride.  I was frustrated and aggravated.  I had cold kitties, a dark house, dwindling battery on my cellphone, no knowledge of how to disengage my garage doors, and little to no food in the house.  The frustration was definitely a companion.  I will say, though I had moments of frustration, I was calmer than I would have been in the past.  I was able to meditate, I was able to recognize we still had much, even without power.  In all of this there was gratitude to be found.

My Winter Storm Benji Gratitude List

  1. We had a house, even a cold one.
  2. The cats, though cold, were eating and using each other and us to keep warm
  3. We had costs, gloves, blankets, flashlights, batteries, a boom box, and candles
  4. The Chinese place that delivered every tofu dish on their menu on Saturday through the snow.
  5. My husband.  He chipped away ice on the driveway, set up a kitty snow camp, and reminded me of what truly good partners we are.
  6. My mom who kept calling and checking in and told us how to disengage our garage doors
  7. We could turn on the cars to warm the kitties and charge our phones
  8. A gas stove that allowed us to make tea and coffee
  9. Wine, enough said.
  10. Social media.  That may sound weird but during the storm social media made us feel connected to friends and family some offering help and a place to warm up, some comparing our new Little House on the Prairie lifestyles.  Also it helped us keep up to date with the power issues and road conditions.

All in all we made out okay.  When the power came back on and ever since I have been more cognizant of how truly easy our lives really are.  I am also grateful to all the lineman, who were probably also out of power but slept in their trucks, drove in dangerous conditions, and did dangerous work to get power restored.

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Aligning with My Priorities

vegetarian_diet_pyramidThe year is coming to a close and I can hardly believe it!  It was 354 days ago I made a small decision, to start meditating.  I really started because an injury had sidelined me from running.  I needed to find a way to cope with stress.  Running had been my outlet.  I thought at the time, “I will do this for a few weeks until I get cleared to run.”

Funny things happen when you make plans.  I actually saw real benefits from meditation.  I decided to see if I could commit to meditating every day for a year.  I am now 11 days away from that goal.  I look back and can’t believe where this one simple decision led me over the last year.

All of these unintended consequences happened.  Let me be clear they did not happen over night.  In fact just this week we made another change I feel I would not have made if I had not started with that decision to meditate.  We decided to go back to a vegetarian diet.  We had been vegetarian several years ago.  Honestly, I have been struggling the last year, as I tried to decide what was a priority it seemed to conflict with eating meat.  Of course this only my personal conflict.  As an environmentalist, animal rights advocate, and someone who placed health as one of her 5 core values; eating meat no longer seemed to align with who I was and what I believed in anymore.

I made a decision to go back to a vegetarian diet.  I announced this to my husband and he surprised me by deciding he wanted to do that with me. We started this week and I have to say it has been great.  I told my husband today I feel better cooking our meals because I know they are healthier.  Preparing vegetarian dishes has renewed my cooking creativity and vegetarian cooking is faster and easier to clean up.  A side benefit is my cats are a lot less interested in helping me cook chickpeas than chicken.  Another benefit was being reminded how nice it is to have a husband who supports me and my growth.  Kind of a nice thing to remember this week, since Tuesday we celebrated 19 years of marriage and 25 years together.

 


Leave a comment

Giving Back and Getting More

volunteers Do you volunteer?  I mean with time, and your heart and energy behind a cause?  If not why not?  That is a question I had to answer.  I always saw myself as the kind of person who would volunteer.  I have causes, and activities I am passionate about. I care about my community and the greater good.

Truth was I had no problem volunteering for my profession.  I gave a lot to water related organizations in time and leadership.  Though I care passionately about my career field and water, it is not all I care about.  It was the only place I volunteered.  I had to take a hard look at that.

What I found was not that flattering.  It was easy to volunteer in my profession because work allowed it and the time investment I made, with small exceptions, was time I would have dedicated to my job.  The time I had trouble dedicating was my own.  I believed in these things and causes and certainly believed that people should give back in their community.  It just seemed whenever I really had an opportunity I thought more about what I would have to give up, my time, and my resources.

This idea did not align with what I have been working on, so head long into volunteering I had to jump.  I decided to pursue two things.  First was a joint venture with my husband.  This way volunteering was something we could do together.  Two years ago we started coaching a running club at his school.  The school is a low-income school, primarily hispanic population.  We coach a running club through Atlanta Track Club every Friday for twenty weeks a year.  It turned out to be fun.  We get to do something we enjoy, run.  We get to inspire that love of running in kids and we can be a support and role model for at risk kids.  Since this happens Friday after work and with my husband the dreaded time loss was minimized.  After that success I decided to do something I have wanted to do for years, volunteer in animal rescue.  Specifically, volunteer with cats.

This was not something I would do with my husband and not something I could do within work hours.  I was going have to give of my time, my heart, and my personal resources.  I started small by attending a training and volunteering for a couple of spaced out outreach events for Good Mews, a local cage-free, No Kill shelter.  As I began to volunteer I found that I did not really lose anything like I feared.  I gained so much more.  I now volunteer regularly as a team lead for programs like Reading to Cats and Yoga with Cats.  I recently became a Kitty Buddy committing 30 minutes a week to help a shy and under socialized cat get used to people so they are more adoptable.

I have really gotten more out of these volunteer experiences, than I give.  For the professional volunteering I have gained contacts, leadership experience, and knowledge.  From the running club I have a shared experience with my husband, exercise, and I get to participate with his school which helps me appreciate what he does more.  At Good Mews I am truly helping a cause close to my heart.  I have made new friends and talk about a stress reducer: lunch hour spent with 100 cats.  Maybe not for everybody but for me.  If you think you can’t volunteer, start slowly.  I have found that I feel more aligned with what I always said I believe is important.


1 Comment

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