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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Prioritizing

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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.


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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?


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Change

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I have been working on changes, that is kind of what this blog is all about.   I have recently been focused on a specific change, a big change at work.  It has also interestingly intersected with all the internal work I have been doing.  I guess all that stuff about the universe and presenting opportunities when you are ready may be a real thing after all.

I am currently a water resource manager.  I have been working in this space since 2004 and the exact job I have right now since 2009.  Because of it and some great mentors and some very fortuitous opportunities, I have gotten to do a lot and make a big impact, on the regional, state, and national level.  I have gotten to travel and keynote professional conferences and I have gotten to make a big impact on the environment and preserving water resources.  Truth be told, a couple of things have been nagging at me lately.  One I don’t find that much challenge in the work anymore.  I still find value, but I no longer have many of those new learning opportunities. I have shifted to a mentoring phase, which I also enjoy.

The other change is that as I get quiet and clear through my attempts at minimalism, meditation, and growth; I am realizing that my priorities have shifted a little.  I have gotten to do so much and I am grateful.  I am looking to make a little more impact locally, as in my own utility.  Also I no longer really enjoy the travel.  I want to work and come home to my husband and cats.  I want time to cook, meditate, read, and help my mother.  Where has all of this led?  As fate would have it about 6 weeks ago our Customer Service Manager just up and walked out. He had been struggling and he just could not take it anymore.  Our leadership immediately came to me to see if I was interested.  It would be a big change, but I have been the interim Manager 3 times between other managers.  Every time my bosses asked won’t you apply?  Each time I said no.  This time I really felt different.  I had always looked at the position that is full of managerial, policy, and relational challenges as both too daunting and too limiting.  After working on the things I have been working on about myself I feel more ready for this challenge. I have decided to apply for the job.  It is not a guarantee for me.

I feel ready if the opportunity arises.  I have also noticed how things line up to support you.  I have been taking some courses on Insight Timer and I am currently taking one by David Gandelman on Letting Go.  Leaving my current position and clinging to that has been one of the obstacles I had to overcome.  As I needed some support, here came this class, by one of my favorite teachers.  I have also been taking the How to Communicate like a Buddhist Class through Daily OM and this is also enhancing a skill set I will need.  It will be a time of transition, but I feel excited about the possibility of being on the learning side again.  Are you considering any changes?


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Separation of Work and Home

 

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My husband is now off for the summer, one of the perks of being a teacher.   Over the summer he has to read a book about choosing one word to be his guiding principle over the next school year.  It is familiar to me since this has been my approach the last two years.  Choosing one thing and focusing on it and seeing what happens.  The first year my one thing was meditation.  Quite simply just do it, imperfectly, but consistently.  Sit everyday, even if just for a minute or two.  As discussed previously this has had so many reverberations in my life.

That small focus helped me clear clutter physical, mental, and emotional.  It helped me be clearer about my purpose and led me to renewing my commitments to volunteering and vegetarianism.  It helped me try to learn to say no.

This year my word has been presence and it has been more of a struggle than I thought it would be. I do believe I am making progress though it is painfully slow.  It is also revealing some things about myself that I am not thrilled with, but I am trying to accept.  I wonder how many of us really like control and really like feeling that your worth is a little tied up in your status and in being the “go to” person.  That was not a terribly attractive realization for me.  Also simultaneously I noticed that does not make me happy.

In an effort to be more present and battle my arch nemesis, the cellphone, I started doing something to help me separate work and home.  A friend and I were talking and she mentioned a mentor she had that told her something she did to be able to effectively separate from work, and to set a reasonable expectation for those she worked with.  At the end of her day she put her out of office response on her phone and email  It was simple.  It was clear.  I decided I would try that.  I wanted it to be kind of end of day ritual for me as well as providing those trying to reach me with the necessary info they needed.  The message is not long.  It has had an instant impact.  The message is simply says, “I am gone for the day I will return day at 7AM.”  All it does is set a reasonable expectation.  I have left work and all work behind until I return.  I do sometimes find myself checking email.  I also find I am doing this less because I have set the expectation. It is sort of an actual physical act of disconnecting from work.  In our always on society I think this can be very powerful.  I anticipate as I continue this habit I will check my phone less and less once I am home.  This will give me more time to be fully here with my husband, kitties, family, and friends.

 

 

 


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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

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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?