From Type A to Type Ahh

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


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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.

 


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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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The Good-Bye I Never Saw Coming

Perfection and I have been besties since as far back as I can remember.  I always had a strong inclination toward being perfect.  I wanted to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect employee, the perfect wife.  Truth be told I only saw value in myself if everyone else thought I was perfect.  For a long time I thought that was what drove me to succeed.  I thought I am successful in my life, career, and marriage because I don’t settle for less.  Also I wasn’t happy, not really happy.  I mean that kind of peaceful contentment and acceptance.  Not a manic annoying bouncing off the ceiling happy!   That is crazy town.  I was willing to give up being happy, comfortable with who I am in pursuit of perfection.  Which if I am being honest, I never achieved, even when all outside signals may have indicated otherwise to people.

Over a year ago I started to meditate and do this blog.  I started to really let myself get uncomfortable, by questioning where I was and what I always believed.  I don’t really know why.  I can’t tell you this was the particular moment I decided to meditate and look at my life.  I guess like so many other things, I was just ready then.  I don’t think the me of even 2 years ago was ready.  When I started to meditate, I could really hear myself for the first time in the  silence. I could hear what I say to myself.  Learning to take a breath in the heat of conflict I learned to hear what I said to others. Truth was, I was not perfect.  I was not open to criticism, because it is hard to be criticized and perfect at the same time.  You should try it.  I could be so judgmental and sometimes mean.  I still struggle with the impulse to defend myself, to interrupt out of my discomfort.  It is an ongoing and imperfect struggle.  Out of which I might become a slightly better version of myself. perfectionquote

Perfection kept me from a lot of things.  It is hard to be vulnerable and fully present when part of your mind is always questioning if that is the perfect answer, or did I ask the perfect question?   What are those things any way?  Is what I declare to be perfect or what someone else points out as my “perfection” actually perfect or just someone’s iteration of perfection?  This has been a difficult realization and even more difficult letting go of it.  Frankly, without perfection I felt unsteady and unmoored for a while.

What happened in the uncertainty and fear was finding a more true version of me.  I am impatient, sometimes, unfriendly, distracted, judgmental, self-involved, loyal, passionate, hard-working, compassionate, generous, and imperfect.  I am now a little kinder, a little more forgiving, starting with myself.  Once you realize you are not perfect it becomes easier to accept the imperfection in others.  We all have things that influence who we are and what we think.  I am definitely not the arbiter of what is right and perfect.  I am just another imperfect person trying to be a little more me and live a little more in tune with what I believe and value, regardless of whether or not that appears perfect.


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Why is it So Hard to Pay Attention

PayingAttention-kittie-style

I am on day 475 of consecutive meditation.  It no longer takes any outside planning or preparation to make sure I meditate.  I know I need it.  I have seen a lot of benefit from it.  I set intentions everyday to pay attention: to the present moment, to how I feel, to how I am reacting, and to the people in my life that really matter.  In my mind I see myself in my office when my best friend stops by asking if I have a minute.  I say “of  course” at which time I fully turn from my computer and phone and give her my full undivided attention.  I listen intently and fully hear everything she has to say.  That is the me that lives in my intention.  I would like to meet her some day.

The me in reality, turns my chair 3/4 towards her with one eye on my screen and the work product I was engaged in and the other eye on her.  I am listening to her, but she is only slightly louder than the internal dialogue counting off how many things remain undone on my to do list.  Why is this so hard?  I have been working with single tasking and it is getting easier.  If a person interrupts my single task, I can’t seem to give them singular focus.  Why is it so hard to make that switch?

I have similar fantasy at home.  My husband will come in, I am absorbed in a book or watching TV and he starts talking about his day or some plans.  The fantasy intention girl closes her kindle and gives her husband her undivided attention.  She does no interrupt him when he is explaining himself and she is fully aware of everything going on with him.  The reality girl may still stay reading thinking ” I talk to people all day I just need a little quiet time with my book or Food Network to recharge.”  When we are in the heat of a disagreement I know and I want to stay fully engaged and hear everything he has to say without jumping in and assuming I know best, or that I have to defend myself or my position.  I often fall short of that letting adrenaline and a desire to be right win out.

Being there, fully there, and fully engaged is hard.  I see myself improving.  Sometimes improvement just means I recognized that an opportunity to fully pay attention was missed and I feel badly about it.  Two years ago I would have just said. “that’s me! Deal with it.”  I want to improve.  One of the things I am going to try to do is at least own it.  I am going to make an effort to acknowledge when I fall short of intention girl’s goal.  I want to admit to someone and apologize when I fail to pay attention.  I realize this isn’t the end goal, as with so many things, it is a start.  I will let you know how this goes.  Do you ever struggle with paying attention?


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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.”


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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!


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Pulling Away from the Phone in 2018

phone-addiction-in-marriage

It is that time to set my Year Goal.  I won’t be starting resolutions, because I believe they are too restrictive and we shoot for things that may not be attainable.  At least that is how it works for me.  It may not be the case for you.  Last year I had a lot of success and ended up achieving some additional benefits from the goal to meditate everyday, whether for 1 minute or 30 minutes.

This year I gave a lot of thought to my big goal for 2018.  It has to do with my phone.  I think, like the simple concept to meditate, this goal may also come with some ancillary benefits.  In short my goal is to be less dependent on my phone.  How am I going to work toward this goal?  I have already begun but I will share my pretty simple plan.

  1. The month of January I am on a Social Media break (no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn).  If people want to connect with me they will have to do it the of-fashioned way…Text. LOL
  2. On Tuesday and Thursday night after I get in from work I put my phone on airplane mode.  I believe I have finally realized that I don’t have to be available to everyone 24 hours a day.  Instead I am choosing to be fully available to the people and cats who mean the most to me, by not being tethered to my phone.
  3. On Saturday I am not taking my phone with me when hubby and I go out or if I do it will be in Airplane mode as a just for emergencies thing.

These  may not seem like life altering changes.  Like meditation last year, I started small and gained big insights that I built on.  I suspect this will be similar.  I hope your 2018 is off to a mindful and present start.