From Type A to Type Ahh

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


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Getting into the Groove

 

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I have a confession to make.  I was really scared when I took my new job.  I had actually been working up to it for a while  I had been focusing in my meditation about letting go.  You might wonder why I needed to practice letting go in order to embrace this new activity.  Let me give you a quick background.  I was working in water efficiency and water resource management in both my previous positions meaning I have been doing it for the last 14 years.  Not just working in it.  I created the entire program for my utility and worked on regional, state and national stage in this field.  I was recognized, award-winning and an expert.  There is a comfort in that.  If you know that you can go and exceed every day then you decide to do something different.  It is big deal.  It is especially a big deal if you associate so much of yourself with this success.  I used to do, still did a little not as much as before I started working on myself.

I had to find a way to let go of who I was and that mastery to open myself to this new period of learning and growth.  It has been surprising how energizing it is to be in growth mode again.  That is maybe not as surprising for me as how easy it has been to let go of that other me.  The master and expert.  I have found it empowering to inform all of my committees that I have moved to a new position and I won’t be available to continue these activities.  I thought it would be painful.  I have not had a job where I just really concentrated on one thing in a long time.  I also have not been actively in growth mode for a long time.  For a while I was really off kilter being in growth mode.  It had been so long.  Now I am still in growth mode and will be for a long time.  I have found my groove in growth mode.  The first step is acknowledging that I am no longer moving and deciding from an expert position, but from a growth position.  Accepting that has helped me to find a balance.

What I also have learned is how bored and stagnant I felt.  Yes it is true I received a lot of accolades and a lot of opportunities in my old role.  I am so grateful.  After I took this leap I realized that these accolades and opportunities had not been fulfilling that contribution and value part of me in a few years.  Onward toward the new and unfamiliar in search of a renewed purpose.


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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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No One is Guaranteed A Tomorrow

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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.


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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!

 


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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.


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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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Realignment

Alignment-picGetting your metaphysical ducks in a row is really challenging.  I am working hard to align my actions and decisions with my priorities and values.  In theory that should be pretty easy, right?  In practice there are a whole lot of things that distract us from that.  In some instances I am doing well and in others I struggle.

Where am I making progress?  I would say I am doing better at making my family a priority over work.  I am trying to put my phone up after I get home and cooking and enjoying meals with my husband.  I am trying my best to leave work on my new schedule at 3:30 PM so I am not so rushed and feel so much pressure once I get home.  I am also trying to be open and accepting of my mother, who needs my help.  I have often struggled with Mom.  We are very different; we have very different ways of being in the world and different priorities.  I am working to put those aside and be there for her without judgement.  Thanks meditation!  I have used it to help me with this; sometimes even when I am in the car with her to just bring myself and my intention back to a positive, open, place without judgement .  Not easy but worth it, I think.

Also since our cats are so much a part of our family I have also tried to prioritize them.  I went back to making them a home-made diet and have made an effort to play with them more so they get the physical engagement they need.  I have failed up until today to transition them to a more species appropriate feeding schedule that my husband has been asking about.  Shifting them from 2 meals a day to  3 smaller meals.  Today I agreed and we have begun.  It will be an adjustment for them and us.  I think in the long run it will be best for them just like making their food is.  I have to admit I still struggle with playing with them as much as I should at the end of a long work day.

I have also kept up my promise to volunteer in things I am passionate about.  Most Sundays I am at Good Mews, a no-kill cat shelter.  I also still volunteer with the Georgia Association of Water Professionals and my husband and I start our fifth season as youth running coaches at his school.  That is consistent with my priorities and passions.

Where have I struggled?  This blog is one.  Writing is a passion and a priority for me, but I am not posting as much as I hoped.  I am reevaluating what is realistic, and I hope to consistently post at least weekly.  Also minimalism has been a struggle.  I did downsize my clothes and I definitely look with a more critical eye but my husband and I run a lot of races and I am still accumulating race t-shirts and shirts from work events.  I am definitely not as regimented as I should be about looking at my stuff.  I still see area where I should go through old CDs, books, my office desk, our cats’ toys, our file cabinet (maybe he scariest place in our home).  I am excited about seeing the Minimalists Less is Now Tour when they are in Atlanta in November.  I am brining my husband.  Who knows we might both get inspired.

Reading more and watching less TV.  I still watch an hour or so a night most nights.  Sometimes after working all day, coming home to care for the cats, take care of the house, and cook dinner I am so tired I just want to veg out for a short while before bed.  I know I would sleep better and get more out of just reading or sitting quietly.  It is a tough some times.  Also this is time with my husband most nights.

Saying no to work related tasks that don’t align with my goals, skills, and interests.  This is probably the hardest thing for me.  I just hate saying no to people and I always think “wait this might be important.  If I don’t do it who will?”  I need to remember someone always will.  Lastly, I am trying to incorporate a little additional exercise beyond my morning run.  I have added a day or maybe two of bike riding per week but I am not consistent.  I definitely have not pursued strength training or added that into my routine.

For a perfectionist, even one trying to recover, these short comings are hard to accept.  I know out of this struggle I get a chance to reevaluate the importance of them and also have an opportunity to grow.  I hope you are making progress toward aligning with your priorities and values.