Every story has a story. How the story is shaped defines how you grow. The way forward is never down a straight and narrow path. Growth is like what happens in the “Alice In Wonderland” story, where you do “Six impossible things before breakfast”.
We think that growth is a linear measurement. But all growth doesn’t happen with forward momentum.
Charting your course means that you need to be open to adjustments, revisions, false starts, rewriting your goals, refocusing your passions. You need to be able to both dig in your heels and let go at the same time. You must, must, must have a willingness to change.
In starting any journey of self discovery, it is important to engage your curiosity muscle. When you are around a little child you see that muscle in action moment by moment. From the minute they are born, they are wide eyed looking at everything. Everything is new and wildly uncertain. They are on a mission to discover and understand this new world they were born into. They grab onto everything. They put everything into their mouths. When they start talking, everything becomes a “why”? For every answer you give, you get three more “why’s”?
For some reason you lose this voracious appetite as you grow older. You start thinking that you know the answers, or you are afraid that everyone else does but you. So you stop asking why.
A great exercise to start bringing more attention to your curiosity muscle, is to start putting a question mark behind your first thought when trying to solve a problem that has come up in your life. Start asking why is this, the way it has to be done?
Most things in life can be successfully completed in a variety of ways. There are usually multiple solutions, and multiple paths.
Focus on using curiosity as a focal point for engaging with creativity. Sometimes you have a better journey when taking the long way home.
Uncertaintly is hard to live with. You want to know everything there is to know about something, so that you can feel that you’re making the perfect decision. That your work will be perfect. That your life will be perfect. But that isn’t how anyone’s life is. If you were to talk to anyone who you think has the perfect life, they will tell you that fame, fortune, status – whatever criteria you want to measure by – doesn’t make their life perfect. They still have problems. They still make mistakes . They still make bad decisions.
When you throw away the word perfect, you are left with imperfect. Which is how we all are. We are all perfectly imperfect. We are all left feeling like we are blind as to how to make the best decisions in our lives.
So what are we left with then? Uncertainty. We are left with blindly following rules that have a multitude of exceptions, based on faulty or fuzzy logic, and sometimes just plain guesswork.
Watch any good mystery or crime drama and at some point someone is going to say, “I have a bad feeling about this”, or “My gut is telling me not to walk away”, or something similar. In the real world you use your gut instincts or intuition a lot. Subconsciously you may be making decisions without your mind even knowing why you just turned right instead of left. It just felt like the right way to go.
One thing that I have learned in the corporate world, you can make facts and figures, statistics say pretty much whatever story you want to tell. I love logic, but I also know from experience that if I walk out my front door feeling like there is something I am forgetting – I am 99% of the time forgetting something. I have sat in my car ready to leave going down a mental checklist as I tell myself that I can find nothing that I have forgotten. But the minute I get to my office and sit down in my chair, a random thought surfaces with the thing I forgot. My intuition was right.
Knowlege is always provisional and incomplete. There are always new facts that surface as time goes by. New evidence comes to light. If this wasn’t true then there would never be a drug company being sued for side effects discovered as time went by. No airplanes would fly in the sky. The world would still be flat.
So when you think you know everything there is to know, just be aware that you don’t. So what do you do?
Dragonflies have large, compound eyes, with thousands of lenses and photoreceptors sensitive to different wavelengths of light. Although we don’t know exactly how their insect brains process all this visual information, by analogy they see multiple perspectives not available to you. Dragonfly-eye perception is common to great problem solvers, as they take in 360 degrees of perception to encompass multiple viewpoints and ideas at once.
Kalidescope eyes that view life through multiple lenses. This way of thinking is a way to see beyond the familiar patterns that your brain pushes into place. By widening out the periphery of your vision, you can look out beyond all of the filters your mind sees the world through. You look at a problem from multiple perspectives. This is where compassion comes in.
When a two year old has a meltdown at a store, many times you will see a mother about to have one herself. A compassionate viewpoint sees two over-tired individuals, not a bad child or a bad mother.
Your brain like to think in patterns. Good or bad. Black or white. This or that. Putting things in containers that belong together free’s up your brain to think faster.
By using dragonfly eye’s, you can view the world around you in an entirely new way. Whatever problems you are facing; whatever decisions need to be made; you can start to see the many possibilities and probabilities in front of you. Instead of just:
You see “and” not “or”. You can go up, down, backwards, forwards, straight, crooked, ladders, slides, caves, etc…, you see all of the possibilities at once. The secret to developing a dragonfly-eye view is to “anchor inside yourself” rather than outside as a starting point. To work on that curiosity muscle. To develop more trust in your intuition muscles. To exercise your compassionate view of yourself when you try to be perfect. To embrace uncertaintly. To have dragonfly eyes.
In this blog we covered steps 1-3 of the below diagram. Read the next blog for part 2 as we review steps 4-6
If there is one thing that is making a big turnaround today, it is the thought of how you influence and inspire others. For years in social media many have had this misconception that you can create a perfect life online. That somehow this “perfect” version of yourself would inspire others. All of the posts were about these “perfect” moments that were happening in a persons life. Nothing was posted that didn’t fit into this perception of perfection.
Like the years of photoshopping models into this idea of what a perfect body should look like, instead of inspiring others to reach towards perfection, it created the opposite. It fed into the lie, that some how you are not good enough. Not rich enough, not skinny enough, not smart enough – that your breasts were too small, your stomach not flat enough, your thighs were too large, you had the wrong kind of hair, the wrong color skin, etc…, this idea of perfection (which shifts with the seasons and years) is not how we inspire others.
The problem is that perfection isn’t how life is. It’s messy. It’s imperfect. Most of the time it feels like a disaster. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, not the advertising agency or the social media influencer.
“Seek the approval of no one. Never change who you are. Don’t fit the mold that others have created for you.” – Adverstu.com
I worked fulltime when my kids were growing up. I tried bribery, threatened grounding and created punishments. Nothing convinced my kids that they should walk into the house and put their things in their bedrooms when they got home from school. Nothing I tried convinced them that when they finished raiding the refrigerator because they were starving, that they were capable of putting those dirty dishes in the sink – let alone the dishwasher.
Instead, this was our pattern. On Mondays the house looked presentable, because I had spent the whole weekend cleaning. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday our house slid downhill in a mountain of toys, discarded clothing, schoolwork that fell out of bookbags, whatever the dogs and cats had played with or destroyed, and of course dirty dishes. By Friday I would collapse under the mountain and pray that no one would come knocking at my door expecting entry. My house never looked like the perfectly organized home I always dreamed of.
You don’t inspire others by being perfect. You inspire them by how you deal with your imperfections.
“When you are living the best version of yourself, you inspire others to live the best version of themselves” – Steve Maraboli
For me the inspiration came not from working myself into exhaustion. It didn’t come from yelling and screaming at my kids in frustration. It came from doing the things that I knew were the most important. Those things changed as my kids grew older, but it all started from the same place – spending time with my kids. Sometimes that was just relaxing and watching T.V. Sometimes it was watching them play in the back yard. Sometimes it was taking them to the movies and watching something that I never would have chosen to watch, but that they did. We went roller skating, to bonfires on the beach, to backyard bar-b-ques with friends and families. As they grew older, it was transporting them to outings with their cousins and friends. Then it was the terrifying years of being in the car with a student driver.
It was different activities, but the inspiration was the same. Supporting my kids in whatever way I could to grow up happy and healthy. Now that they are all grown up and having families of their own. Now I get to laugh at them going through the same states of imperfection in raising their children. And I get a lot closer to that imagined state of a perfectly organized home 🙂
What is being inspirational to others about?
Simone Biles demonstrated what being inspirational is all about in the 2020 Olympics, when she pulled out of some events to focus on her mental health. There is greatness in listening to yourself and advocating for your needs. She identified within herself where she was. She drew her own boundaries in order to keep herself safe and healthy. Like Naomi Osaka, she recognized the interconnectedness of mental and phsyical well-being. When Simone decided she couldn’t compete in several of her events, she stayed and supported her team.
She took a different path than expected and it took tremendous courage to stand up before literally the whole world and do this. She demonstrated the courage to protect her heart, soul, mind, body and spirit.
I love the thought, that each decision we make to walk our own path, is a comma, not a period. The path didn’t end. It is continuing onward. There are times when we need to stop and refuel. It isn’t a period, it is a comma – a pause to take a breath. You refuel so that you can have the energy to finish – it’s the finish which is a period.
And at the end of each finish, you get to choose what new adventure awaits. You get to start down a new path of self discovery.
If you were to concentrate in this moment, what is the one thing that you most desire in your life right now?
Someone out there would give anything to:
This list could go on and on. Some things on this list are within your control to obtain. The dream of the new home or car; the promotion or the new job – all things that you can work for and earn or obtain.
It might be that you’ve tried to get pregnant, had medical procedures to assist, and still can’t get pregnant. It might be that obtaining this dream means that you have to adjust to a new reality of foster care or adoption to have children. To match your dream of a child, to the child’s dream of parents to love them.
Some things might take a different path altogether. Being with a loved one who has died, you might take the path of talking to them in a praying meditative state. Or maybe the path of writing that letter telling them everything you never had a chance to say.
When you were a kid, did you ever take a magnifying glass or even just a glass and focus the suns energy on a piece of paper until the heat got hot enough that it started a flame? It takes focus to keep the glass still and just wait until the paper gets hot enough. If you keep moving the paper around, it will never get hot enough to create the flame.
Creativity generates ideas. Inspiration takes those ideas to the next level by thinking about them.
It takes focus to follow the trail that the idea came from. It takes getting outside of the normal day for just a few minutes to say, “I wonder what happens next, and next, and where does it go from there”. It takes focus to not get lost down the rabbit hole of other thoughts and ideas and just stay on this one trail with no distractions. You have to harness your creativity and focus your thinking down a particular path to reach the destination.
Let’s just take the first dream on the list above and “find the perfect mate”. Maybe the first thing you do on this path, is to take a piece of paper and write down all of the details of what your idea of a perfect mate is. Write down as many things as you can think of, even what seem like silly details, such as they put the cap back on the toothpaste. What their character is like; how they look; what their dreams are; what music they like; do they need to sing karoke with you ever Friday night? Do they love to line dance at a country western bar? Do they love chocolate? Go all out and write down everything your heart and imagination can think of.
Once finished put that list in a drawer and forget about it.
Now start a new list. This list is the most critical list of all that you’ve ever made. This list is about who is that person, with all of those qualities that you just wrote the pages about, who is he/she looking for? This is going to be about the list of changes that you are going to make in your own life, to attract that dream partner into your life. This list is the secret of how the only person you can change is yourself. This list is about the secret that when you start making changes in your own life, your life dramatically changes. Your life improves by the amount of focus, power, brilliance and energy that you use to implement changes.
Focus means that you have to say no to anything that is not moving you forward in the direction of attracting your life partner. You are surrounded by people who will take you off the path you are walking down. There are constant distractions trying to sidetrack you. So you say no to going out Friday night with your girlfriends because want they want to do isn’t in line with anything that you wrote down your perfect mate would want to do.
Remember that you wrote down that your perfect partner loves to line dance in country western bars. You’ve always wanted to try it out because it looks like fun. You never have because you don’t know anyone who would go with you. So you’ve never gone. So focusing on making changes to youself means, you check out some country western bars and find one that has free line dancing lessons. You go to the next lesson and start learning how to line dance.
Just keep making these small changes to how you live your life in line with the values that you say you want in your life. Step by step you become the perfect person for the perfect mate you are wanting to attract into your life. You focus on what matters and let go of the rest.
Keeping in line with attracting that perfect mate, you’ve now went through all of your closets and dresser drawers and have space allocated to that perfect mate to use. You are ready – now those dormant forces are going to align to collaborate and transform your dream into reality. There are so many wonderful stories out there about men and woman who have done this and attracted their perfect mate.
You can use this process to achieve every single dream you have. You make the changes in your life that are necessary to create the space for your dream to come true. Feel right now, how you imagine you will feel then. Bring those emotions into your reality today. Life the life today, that you have been projecting into your future.
“Stay focused on your goals, your peace, and your happiness. Don’t waste your time on anything that doesn’t contribute to your growth.” – ihearts143Qutoes
Sometimes simple things are the hardest concepts to put into action. Anne Frank is quoted as saying, “Whoever is happy will make others happy too”. Such a simple yet profound statement coming from a young girl who was in hiding from the Nazi’s makes it even more impactful.
I really love the days when I wake up happy and feeling like this is going to be a good day. For me, it’s kind of a bouncy energy, light and airy. Have you ever felt that way? I’ve even used the analogy of the energy being like a balloon. I feel like I am filled with a bouyancy that will allow me to fly through my day with no obstacles. Then someone comes along, who is filled with negative energy. Their balloon doesn’t lift up, but instead drags on the ground. The negative energy is contagious and loves to come along and pop others balloons. Just a simple statement coming from someone shooting out negative energy can steal your happiness in a moment.
About 10 years ago I received a promotion that I had been working for all of my life. When my then boss called me into his office and delivered the good news it came with a caveat. He said, “It doesn’t come with a raise and it doesn’t really mean anything. Title’s are pretty worthless.” Talk about taking out all of the positive energy in the room – he gave me this beautiful balloon and then immediately popped it. He made me feel like what I had worked so hard for all of those years was meaningless. The goals I had set from highschool for myself were meaningless.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading around how managers are becoming more like coaches than bosses. This past year, I received my “Inner MBA” which is a MBA course from NYU in being a Compassionate, Resilient, Mindfulness Leader. I am also getting certified in Positive Psychology. I think that both of these courses have really expanded my view of how one negative person in your personal life, or work life – can negatively impact not only your relationship with them, it also muddies the water of every other relationship you have.
“Neurologist claim that every time you resist acting on anger, you’re actually rewiring your brain to be calmer and more loving.” – Positive Energy Quotes
Everything that I read about the energy field that we have as humans, reflects that it is like a magnet and positive attracts to positive. One of my favorite philosopher’s is Jim Rohn. He had this way of making everything so simple. When I lived outside of Los Angeles, I would listen to his recordings on my commute back and forth to work. California drivers can be pretty aggressive. Jim talked about how you can shift your mind to not allow others to pop your balloon of positive energy.
So when someone cut me off or was driving aggressively, I started to practice what he talked about. My immediate first reaction was anger. I wasn’t an aggressive driver, so I wouldn’t try to cut off the bad driver in revenge. But it would pop my balloon of positive energy and drain it completely dry. So part of my practice was to catch myself letting someone else drain my positive energy. It took a few weeks, but I got to the space where I was able to be grateful they were in front of my car – their cutting me off was saving me being rear-ended by them when they couldn’t stop fast enough. I would actually say out loud, “thank you for getting in front of me”.
You can apply this to anyone in your work or home life that constantly has negative energy. In your mind you can practice the Jedi mind trick – “I’m not the person you are looking for. You can go about your business. Move along, nothing to see here”. Send them on their way, being happy that you were able to keep your balloon flying high.
Just as negative energy is catching, so is positive energy. Have you ever been in a creative space with others and seen this happen? It’s like the idea that one person generates takes on a life of its own and touches each person in the group. They take the idea and reshape it. Expand it. Evolve it into the perfect thing that is needed to move the project forward. It is a Eureka!! moment. It’s like everyone in the group is holding on to a large number of balloons of positive kenetic energy.
“Vibrate so high that toxic people if your life fall back, because they no longer know how to approach you.” – Unknown
When you get into this space of positive energy generating a field around you, those people in your work and home life just stop coming around. They don’t understand you. They even have a term for you, being a “Pollyana”. Pollyana had a game she called the glad game. So take it as a complement and keep shining out your brilliant light of positivity.
“The game was just to find something about which to be glad about, no matter what it was…, you see, when you’re hunting for the good things, you sorta forget about the other kind.” Pollyana
They can’t relate to someone who refuses to enter into the drama that they create. You never have to get rid of those relationships. When you keep that positive field generating around you, they will stay away themselves. It is sort of like a repellant, and they consciously don’t even realize that they are avoiding you. You just have to stay close to those with a positive energy, people and places that make you feel glad to be alive.
Like most things that I talk about, this is all about doing the work on the inside. You have choices every moment in your life to let someone into your energetic space or keep them out. It takes work and time to learn, but it is so worth it. Instead of having your mood reflect everyone else’s day, it can begin to reflect what you have personally chosen to accept. When someone comes into your space with a low frequency, negative vibration, choose to energetically push them on their way. “This is not the droid you are looking for. Move along.”
Right from the moment you are born, you are taught to pay more attention to what others expect of you, and to ignore your own wants and needs. You are taught to be “unselfish” and put the needs and wants of others before your own. As a child were you constantly being compared to others?
Or maybe it was the opposite and you were really talented, got good grades, outshined others. Did you feel peer pressure to be less than you were capable of being? Did your friends or siblings make you feel bad because they couldn’t or just didn’t want to put in the effort to excel – and they wanted you to be the same way?
Most schools have the cliques – and the “nerds” were never treated the same as the “jocks”. Comparisons start at an early age and seem to follow us throughout our lives. If you spend all of your time trying to live up to, or down to others expectations, it can feel like you’re in an ocean surrounded by sharks. They surround you just waiting until you can no longer keep your head above water.
“In therapy I have learned the importance of keeping spiritual life and professional life balanced. I need to regain my balance” – Tiger Woods
I thought that these quotes by Tiger Woods really revealed how from a young age he had spent most of his life, first living up to his fathers expectations, later coaches expectations, and then the expectations of his fan base. It can cause you to become extremely imbalanced between your career and the rest of your life (relationships with spouse, children, your health, your spiritual life…, etc).
Part of what you have to do is to back off from living up to others expectations, and take the time to consider who you really are or what you really need. Especially when you are in sports or some other field of entertainment, you can get so caught up in thinking that you are only the “golfer” or the “basketball player”. Christopher Reeves became known as superman, a sterotype that became his public and private persona. The truth is, that you are more than just whatever talent you might posses. If the ability to play golf, or basketball, or play the part of a superhero goes away, you are still the same person.
You need to stop ignoring the calls of your soul/spirit or heart. You do not have to stop being who you really are inside, in order to fit into the expectations of the world. Choose to listen to your soul. Listen to the deepest needs of your heart. Choose to be free of the shackles of others expectations.
“To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model? There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are You Committed, or are you not?” – Lebron James
As a mom, you can feel incredible pressure to be “super woman”. To hold down a fulltime job, and be a fulltime mom, and the sexy wife. To have the perfect children who are the best at whatever they do. To drive the kids to sports, to music lessons, to every extraculricular activity. To have a spotless house with nothing out of place. You create the weight of mountains on your shoulders and push yourself to always be doing, doing, doing. Until that day you drop dead of exhaustion.
“20 things that women should stop wearing after the age of 30: #1-20: The weight of other people’s expectations and judgments.” – Maura Quint
As a dad, you can feel incredible pressure to work 80 hours a week to meet the ever upward constantly changing goals. To convince your boss, that you are ready to take on more responsibility, you feel that you have to work longer and longer hours. To be the last person to leave at night and the first person into the office in the morning. They may even joke that you must sleep at work. I always remember this line in the movie “Baby Boom” where the boss says something like “he doesn’t remember how many grandkids he has, but he knows to the cent how much money the company makes on a daily basis”. So many men fall into the trap of working so many hours to get ahead in their career, that their family suffers from them never being around.
“Expectation feeds frustration. It is an unhealthy attachment to people, things, and outcomes we wish we could control; but don’t” – Dr. Steve Maraboli
You are not supposed to live your life meeting the expectations of others. You are supposed to define your own individuality. To be your own unique person. To follow your own path. To choose your own adventure and strike out on the road less traveled. Be extraordinary instead of the rat in the maze trying to find the same piece of cheese. You are the person who gets to choose what matters and what doesn’t. The meaning of your life is whatever you want it to mean. It’s the meaning that you give to it that makes it your life.
“The secret to happiness and peace is letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and making the best of it.” – Marcandangel
As you leave behind the expectations of others to discover who you are and what’s important to you – remember to allow the same for others that you love. When you live your life according to who you are, and don’t put the weight of expectations on others on how they should live their lives, you create the space to be happy. You no longer feel disappointed because you “failed” to live up to the expectations of others – and, you are not disappointed by the actions of others not meeting your own expectations. You learn to live in the world of “what is” instead of “what it should be”.
“No more expectations. Just gonna go with the flow and whatever happens, happens”.
Going back to what Tiger Woods said, achieving some kind of “balance” in your life is what is important. Living according to who you are, and not putting pressure on others to meet your expectations doesn’t mean “whatever happens, happens”. It doesn’t mean that you don’t try to do better, and be better. It doesn’t mean that you stop trying to rise to your full potential in your life. It means that you have a good working balance between taking care of your family, and yourself – which includes your emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual good health.
I thought that this quote from Stephen Hawking was so spot on. He said, “When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one, really appreciates everything one does have.” Sometimes you have something happen in your life that changes everything. Maybe you get a medical diagnosis of ALS like Stephen. What you thought was important suddenly isn’t. You are just happy that you are still alive. You experience a freedom, that sort of says – ok, I am in the basement, the bottom of what’s possible. Anything I achieve from now on is good, great, and better than anyone thought it could be. Just think of everything that Stephen Hawkins accomplished from that space of “zero”.
So free yourself from the expectations of what others expect from you. Get still and start from zero –
“She was a true fighter, you could see it in her eyes. She was not born strong, she was made strong. She was sculpted to be her own hero when the world let her down, she kept picking herself back up.” – Unknown
Your power comes from:
Letting go of what you can’t control – you can’t calm the storm
Letting go of what doesn’t serve you – stop trying to calm the storm
Appreciating all the good in your life
Bringing good to other people’s lives
Treating your soul like a soulmate and honoring what it tells you
This is temporary, Breathe through it, the storm always passes
Breathe in the strength, power and courage you need to move on
Breathe out all the pains, frustrations and sorrows that are weighing down your heart
Trust the storm to bring in something better than what it has taken away.
You are where you need to be. Just Breathe.
The power of the breath cannot be overstated. When you are stressed out, overwhelmed – when you are in emotional turmoil – your breathing becomes quick and shallow which causes a number of reactions in your body. Your adrenals are impacted as they release cortisol and start the “fight, flight or freeze” reaction in your body. Breathing deeply and slowly instantly calms you down mentally so that your body can stop being triggered and relax physically.
Strength is not found in perfection,
That is real strength.
“The world needs strong women . Women who will lift and build others. Who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will.” – Amy Tenney
“She remembered who she was and the game changed.” – Lalah Deliah
So much of what you worry about in your life, the things causing you to have anxiety are in reality “the small stuff” of your life. Many of the deadlines that you push yourself to meet, are self created. Will the world end if dinner is at 6:30 instead of 6:00? Does it really matter if your child goes to school wearing a stripped shirt and polka dot pants? Did the PTA call you to say that you have been condemned as the worst parent in the school because you brought store bought cookies instead of baking home made cookies? All of these things are “the small stuff”.
“When she finally learned how to let go of the things that didn’t matter, she discovered all the things that really did. Just breathe.” – Unknown
When the “small things” in life get you down. When life trips you up. When life sends you on an emotional roller coaster, don’t forget “you are only human“. You’re still learning. It’s okay to have a meltdown. What is important is that you don’t pack your bags and move into the zone of constant emotional turmoil. Take some deep breaths, re-center and ground your emotions. Refocus on what is important. Let go of what isn’t. Remember what Cristen Rodgers said, “It’s the risk of falling that makes life a grand adventure rather than a guided tour.”
“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than the stars.” – Mark Anthony
“What I know for sure is that we are a resilient people, in spite of the difficulties and challenges of life. We can look deep within ourselves to resolve our own issues so that our light will be our guide. And we should reach out and extend to others the lessons we have learned so that they too can be empowered. I’m reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”” – Ramona A. Gray
I sure that everyone has seen the classic photo of a lone wolf howling at the Full Moon. But the truth is that a lone wolf is a dead wolf. The wolf needs a pack to survive. When something goes wrong in your life, the first instinct is to hunker down by yourself – to isolate yourself. But like the wolf you were created to be part of a community, you must have connection to thrive.
Isolation simply creates more issues for you in the long run. There is nothing that stops your mind from catastrophizing, in an endless loops as it pokes and pricks at the pain, thereby increasing the suffering. I read an interesting quote today that was talking about suicide. It said that there is an Arabic saying that goes this way:
“You want to die? Then throw yourself into the sea and you’ll see yourself fighting to survive. You do not want to kill yourself, rather you want to kill something inside of you”.
I found this so interesting. It’s not that you truly want to die, even though your mind is trying to convince you that you do. You just want to end something that you can’t see ending any other way. It’s the isolation of those feelings that creates the harm. When you are in this place you need to be reminded and believe that you are a beautiful soul, that is going through temporary suffering. Let me repeat that “Suffering is Temporary”. That you are worthy of having a better life. If you want to change your life, you must open up yourself like the Lodgepole Pine cone and let the fires of what you are suffering release the seeds to create growth and change.
You need to open up to friends about what is happening. You need to seek counseling. You need to reach out and reach up and keep reaching until you have transitioned from being in pain and suffering into a positive outlook for your future. To see the open doors waiting for you to walk through them. To grow in the new rich ash filled soil, to flourish once again in the sun.
“Let go of what you expect to embrace what’s there” – Chloe Jones
The Lodgepole pine cone is a squat egg shaped pine cone that embeds its seeds inside with a sticky resin. The seeds are basically locked into a botanical safe. You would think that it would not be a wide ranging tree – yet it grows from Alaska all the way down to Baja, California in all different kinds of weather zones. The secret to their seeds being released is extreme heat, such as in a wildfire. The seeds don’t just survive a catastrophe, they thrive in its aftermath. This is the definition of resilience.
Resilience is being endlessly inventive, unrelenting, and forever evolving through the chaos of life’s changes. It is having the flexibility to adapt to what is happening in the current moment without regard to what happened in the past. You can’t prevent upheavals from happening in your life, but you can be more adaptable to changing conditions. By putting yourself in the present moment, taking deep breaths and releasing the emotional charge, you can reset yourself. You can discard the anxiety that is ripping through you, and put your troubles into perspective.
It is in a fire racing through an area that the opportunity to drop the seeds and grow a new tree emerges. Change opens as many doors and it closes. Change is going to happen. You can’t stop things from ending, but you can reach out to the new beginnings that the change brings. Be courageous and creative enough to embrace whatever happens.
“What I have learned over the past 15 months – and the only thing I know for sure – is that everything is temporary. Happiness, sadness, control, chaos, highs, lows: They all come and go. It’s both unsettling and reassuring to rest in the notion that nothing is permanent.” – Kristen Bell
In the aftermath of a wildfire, the Lodgepole pine seeds can become like a thick lime-green carpet across the ground. The ash-infused soil is prime with rich nutrients to help the seeds grow. Unlike prior to the fire when the ground was shaded, now the sunlight shines on the seeds as they shoot forth their new life in the aftermath of the destruction of the wildfires. When a tragedy strikes like a wildfire, such as a death, divorce, loss of a job or illness – resilience is what will help you to see the future as a period of renewal and growth.
Life’s transitions could mean a relocating to a new area to live or working in a completely different field. It could mean a new opportunity for growth where you are. How many stories have you heard from friends or relatives who look back on a divorce or a job loss as the best thing that ever happened to them? It took a catastrophic loss to wake them up. To acknowledge to themselves that they were merely surviving their old life.
We all need at least one friend that understands what is not being said. That calls “bullshit” when you say you are fine. That won’t leave until you open up and say what’s really happening. That goes down deep into the conversation, until you release the damn you created to hide all of the pain behind. When you finally start really feeling it, and let out the pain – that’s when you can begin to heal.
I am blessed with both friends and sisters who are the image of this quote: “Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of. You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.” When I was going through the pain of losing my dad they were there. When I am going through the pain of my husband illnesses and worrying that he’s about to go through deaths door, they are there. When I have a tough night of grief striking my heart with the realization that I’ll never see my grandson again, they are there.
They are there because I reach out and say I need it. As the sayings goes: “Friends are like bras, close to the heart and there for support.” The bra gives no support if you don’t put it on. So when life sends you into the emotional roller coaster of chaos and change, reach out and let the heat of their love release the seeds hidden deep inside of you for growth.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Stephen Hawking
Have you ever felt lost? That feeling that says you don’t know how you got to this place in your life. That fear that eats at your soul, causing the “fight, flight, or freeze” to send you literally fleeing into the darkness, with no idea where you are, or where you are going. You have no idea how to extract yourself from the situation that you have somehow blindly created. My visual mind sees the proverb of “painting yourself into a corner”.
‘All progress starts by telling the truth.’ – Dan Sullivan.
If you don’t take the time to listen your inner voice that is what happens. You get lost in the maze of unconscious decisions. You come to a dead end, but can’t remember the left and right turns you made. Unconscious decisions are almost always made from the inner child, who is trying to protect you. Unfortunately the inner child is under the “illusion of knowledge”. What you understood about life at 4 or 5 years old; or 10 or 11 years old; or even 18 or 19 years old; that knowledge doesn’t compare to what you understand at 30, 40, 50, or even 60 years old.
These unconscious decisions are made from the “illusion of knowledge” in which you use the same old childish ways of thinking to make decisions that are incomplete, incorrect, or even self-sabotaging and paint you into a corner. All progress begins with you being honest with yourself. Becoming self aware.
When you wake up to who you are, you become more self aware. Every experience in your life is contained within you. Some parts of those experiences, instead of being healed were judged and rejected as being wrong. They were pushed into the shadows to be hidden. When you begin the process of integrating the pieces of you that you have named as shadows, you begin the process of healing those judgments. Those experiences are not broken pieces of you. They are just mislabeled. Healing them means that you are alive.
What you do with your life from this moment of truth is so important. It is part of the self discovery of who you are. For me, I identify with being a life long learner. Of seeing the connections to everything and everyone in my life. Of being strategic in following my decisions on life’s chess board as far as I can and then making the best decision I can see. I know that many times these decisions will not be the best, but I have left off judging them as shadows. I do the best I can in that moment – and that whatever happens will just create a new learning opportunity. I try my best to remain open to the fact that the “truths” I know today can be changed by the experiences of tomorrow.
I love the analogy of a rainbow. You might think of the primary colors as being the colors of the rainbow. But it is actually the combinations of those colors in millions of shades that make up who you are in this moment. No one else has your colors in the shades and combinations that make up who you are. Don’t reject your colors. Build your own life from those colors, taking in others perspectives and keeping what resonates with you and leaving what doesn’t behind.
Listening to internal guidance can be very hard to do when life is stressing you out. The noise of the chaos around you drowns out that inner voice. Everyone will have an opinion on what needs to be done. People will freely tell you how to live your life, what choices you should be making. They will show up, try to convince you, dazzle you, and intimidate you.
The first thing to do is to drop resistance to what is happening. “It is what it is”. When you stop fighting against it, you find the ability to cope with what is. You lose a loved one, it can’t be changed. Your employer lets you go, it is what it is. Coping can only begin after acceptance of what is. Since you can’t change it, stop pushing back.
Glennon Doyle in her book Love Warrior said: “I have met myself, and I am going to care for her fiercely.” She outlines phases that we go through in life. The typical hero journey where life is good, then tragedy happens, and then we find our way out. In the process we make discoveries about who we are, and we make changes in how we show up in life.
At this moment in time the whole world is in a unique place. The whole world has been going through a massive hero’s journey. It began at the beginning of 2020.
STAGE ONE: LATE STATUS QUO (pre Covid)
You are living in your comfort zone and life is rolling along. You might be hitting a few speed bumps once in awhile, but on the whole, life is good.
STAGE TWO: FOREIGN ELEMENT (Covid)
…Bam! An unexpected event occurs. The foreign element of Covid instantly and urgently, changes everything. Your entire life is turned upside down. And it’s not just you. It is happening to everyone around you too. From normal minor things such as getting groceries, to something more major such as the kids being home-schooled. If you’re lucky you’re working from home, if not you may have been furloughed or laid off from work. You’re required to wear a mask everywhere. You’re told to shelter at home.
STAGE THREE: CHAOS
You may have thought at first that this would be a very temporary situation. Maybe a couple of months. But instead those couple of months go past a year, and you find yourself entering into a weird “new normal”. Then just when you have adjusted to this new normal, it happens again. Your kids are going back to school – but what does that look like? Is it safe? Your job is calling you back to fulltime in the office, but you like working from home fulltime. You feel like you get a lot more done each day, and who needs that commute? Plus now you can be home when the kids get home from school. Just the thought of going back to that old daily commute puts your stomach in a meat grinder. Or maybe you want to have the ability to do both, having one or two days in the office and 3 or 4 days at home.
The world has changed and what you thought you knew cries out for reexamination. What you’d hoped for, planned for, or predicted before Covid has changed. It may no longer be possible or even desired. You need to figure out what really matters to you. This is not a pleasant process because it is filled with so much uncertainty, both for you, your family, and your employer. But if you just take the time to do the work, it will get you somewhere important. The feeling of being in this chaos phase can be likened to taking a car engine apart – there can be confusion as to what is wrong, what needs to be replaced. But if you work through the process of clearing up the confusion, you can make some really important and life changing discoveries.
STAGE FOUR: TRANSFORMING IDEA
STAGE FIVE: INTEGRATION AND PRACTICE
This is the stage where you try out those new ideas from your epiphany. Your employer insists on everyone coming back to the office fulltime. You suggest a hybrid workplace. You have done the research and have the data to support your idea. Maybe it just starts out with coming back to work in the office every other day; two days a week or three days a week. Suggest that in 30 or 60 days you both reexamine how it is working out. You follow other companies and what they are doing. You discover some best practices to implement. You generate and discard several ways of transforming the workplace until you find the one that fits your workplace culture.
This same concept works for any new ideas you want to implement in your life.
STAGE SIX: NEW STATUS QUO
This happens when your breaking outside of the comfort zone shifts into the new comfort zone, the “new normal”.
STAGE SEVEN: START DESIGNING YOUR LIFE
Pick a regular time several times a year, in which you can take out those kaleidoscope “eyes” and start to DESIGN and prepare for A NEW ADVENTURE.
You can be pro-active. You can choose how the stage resets. Your washing machine has more than just one cycle. Instead of waiting for the foreign elements to bring in chaos, you can choose to start the process of enlarging your comfort zone now. Be pro-active. Instead of just imagining what you want to do someday, “I’ll finally write that book” or “I’ll finally travel to a foreign land” or whatever you always say your going to do someday. You still won’t have the time, the money, or whatever you think that you are lacking in this moment when someday comes. You just have to go within and shift to stage four and start transforming your idea to make it happen today.
While it is always good to know your limits – it is never good to accept them at face value.
Your current limit is just that – a current limit. There are so many ways to exceed those limits. It may mean leaning a new skill. It may mean using leverage to get around it. When the Apollo mission had to figure out a way back home, the scientists took an inventory of everything they had and figured out a way to make something they didn’t have.
Water is another great analogy. In order to get around obstacles, it can use the power of a rushing flood to break apart an obstacle. It can freeze up and expand thereby crushing an obstacle. It can flow deep within the surrounding area to get under an obstacle. It can be fog, rain, hail, sleet and snow. It can work with the wind in a hurricane. Knowing your limits means thinking outside of the box to discover a way around or through the limitation and still be able to achieve the desired results.
Be like water. Be magical. Design something new and wonderful.
“You can’t tame the spirit of someone who has magic in their veins.” – SageGoddess.com
When was the last time you did something that was both scary and exciting? When was the last time you felt that mix in your stomach that said simultaneously, “No don’t do it?” and “Come on lets make this happen“?
“Do one thing every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt
What if doing one thing that scares you, was on your “to do” list every day?
What else would you put on this list? What pops into your head?
How many days would you push that scary thing, to the next day on your “to do” list? 1 day, 2 days or everyday?
How many things have you thought about trying, but put off or backed away from? How many things have you been scared to even try?
If you did try and failed, did you quit?
If you tried to surf once and fell off the board, did you say – “Forget it, I will never be able to do this?” The odds of being able to surf on the very first try are so high I couldn’t even type out the number. To learn to surf, you try and learn something. Then you repeat it over and over, wave after wave, until you have learned enough to stand up on the board and ride it into the shore. And even when you are an expert, one thing you know for sure – you are still going to fall off the board.
Using your imagination, would you be able to put a new or scary thing to try on the list every day for a month?
If you never try, you won’t know what you can do. I don’t believe that anyone really lives up to their full potential. You are capable of so many things that you won’t ever think of to try. When my mom was in a early 50’s her best friend talked her into a art class. My mom didn’t believe she could draw or paint and I don’t think beyond school drawings she ever tried. But her best friend had started painting porcelain tea cups and wanted to get better at it, so she convinced my mom to sign up for the class just because she didn’t want to do it alone.
A funny thing happened. My mom painted this amazing forest scene that I have hanging up in my living room. Her first painting revealed an unknown talent. She would have never known if her best friend hadn’t twisted her arm to sign up for the class. If you never try, you won’t get to feel that satisfying feeling of breaking out of your patterns and doing something amazing.
The funny thing about comfort zones is that they are very static. You have a routine that you follow, day in and day out. You punch the clock in the morning when you get up, and then you punch the clock at night when you go to bed. I remember years ago I worked with a firm that bought failing healthcare businesses and turned them around. On the bottom floor of our building was a TGIFridays. Every day the President of the company placed the same exact order for a sandwich. He never tried anything else on the menu. I always thought how boring.
I love to try something different when I order food in a restaurant. Something I don’t know how to cook. There are so many amazing cultural foods out there. Even in the U.S. they don’t make things the same way in the South as they do in Texas, as they do in California, or the Pacific Northwest, or Duluth, or NYC.
The thing is – unless we break out of the comfort zone, we can’t grow to a new level in life.
“A ship is always safe at the shore but that is not what is was built for” – Albert Einstein
This week, make a list of things outside of your comfort zone. Pick something that could become a hobby that you’ve never tried to do, something with your hands that engages your creative powers. Pick something that could build your confidence and courage to grow that comfort zone just a little wider, a little longer. For my mom it was an art class. It doesn’t have to be something terrifying. It could be something that you always wanted to do but are scared to try. It could be something you don’t think you can do, like painting, sculpting, woodworking, or even knitting.
If you want to go skydiving, maybe the first step is a hot air balloon ride. It gets you up in the air and grows your courage just a little bit. Maybe the next step is just going up in the plane and seeing everyone else take that leap out into nothing.
Sir Edmund Hillary is famous for climbing Mt. Everest. But that wasn’t his first climb. His first climb was in 1939 ascending Mt. Ollivier. Unless you are a mountain climbing fan or expert you would have never heard of his first climb. It was 1953 when he ascended Mt. Everest. The years between were spent expanding his comfort zone to the point that he could attempt and finally achieve the goal of climbing Mt. Everest.
So start small – pick something that expands your comfort zone and begin growing into your full potential. Each victory or achievement builds upon the courage and confidence to get to the next level. Find your own Mt. Everest and go for it!
“There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise up to meet” – William F Halsey Jr
The world around you is a very busy place. Always someplace you need to be, always something you need to do. It seems almost like someone is turning up the speed to go faster and faster. It can become so loud you can’t hear yourself think.
Do you ever feel like you are on a roundabout and can’t get off?
It can seem impossible to find even a moment to just be silent. To gather your thoughts; to just quietly think about your life. But those moments are necessary. They are to be valued more than anything else that may seem to be grabbing your attention. The world shouts – so who do you listen to? Can you hear the whispers over the chaos? Can you hear the whispers in the noise and confusion?
It is in those moments that you need to hear your soul’s whispers. That you need to hear your inner guidance.
Sometimes when you are so busy, you aren’t paying attention to the whispers. Then life grabs you and shakes you to slow down. That happened to everyone this past year. For the space of 12 months, Covid hit and everything stopped.
Concerned about my job, I kept my head down and worked. Worries over having enough toilet paper seemed to be a high priority. I wasn’t listening, so again life grabbed me. My dad who had been living with us for 15 years passed away.
This time I stopped. I listened for guidance. The guidance was to move. So we sold our home in California and moved back to Washington state. You can tell when you are listening and following the whispers, because everything moves so smoothly. Within three days we sold for full listing price. No hiccups from the buyers. Both real estate agents couldn’t believe how easy the whole transaction was.
The decision to move was based upon my husbands health. He had just been diagnosed and started treatment for cancer right before Covid hit. The guidance was to go build that dream home we were going to retire to someday. Someday was now. It was the time to make that happen.
Then a few months later life grabbed us again. My 3 year old grandson was hit and killed by a delivery truck. That stopped us in our tracks for some time. Pain beyond tears. Loss comes unbelievably fast. Like a thief it strikes you and it steals away a piece of your heart. Grief is the calling card it leaves in its place.
Like the waves hitting the shoreline, the grief flows in flooding you with pain and then for moments it recedes. As the waves continue coming back into the shore they become a catharsis. It brings something new into your life that fills in the cracks of your heart. Peace expands your hearts ability to keep beating.
Everyone reading this knows this to be true. No matter what has happened in your life in the past 1-2 years, when you are brave enough to share it with someone, you will find someone who has felt that pain, known that grief, walked that mile. The important thing is to not get so caught up in the loss, grief, recovery that we forget to listen.
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion” – Max de Pree
Life can strip you down to the core. It clears away the stupid concerns about finding toilet paper, rice, or yeast. It brings you up close and personal to the basic truth of who you are – someone special. It reminds you that your life can be filled with meaning, a purpose driven life. It isn’t about the job, the house, the car, or any other material thing you possess or think you should have. It is about the bare, basic fact that you can change. You can change not only who you are, but by living a meaningful life, you can change the world. It reminds you of what is important.
For the past year, I haven’t written much for LemonadeMakers. It was this past month, when despite being fully vaccinated that my husband caught one of the Covid variants. He almost died. I had to climb out of the “I have so much going on, I don’t have the time” soundtrack buzzing in my head. I listened and realized that writing this blog is what keeps me centered. That it is what keeps me sane. That this is what helps me change, and this is what helps to change the world.
“Deep breaths untie the fog. Listen to the song of your soul. to the lyrics of love. To the whispers of self, and hold on to what is valuable.” – Linda J. Wolff
So I say listen. Stop and just listen for the silence.
When the noise has all faded away, then listen even deeper.
Listen for the whispers. Listen to your souls guidance.
“The water is always deeper than what it reflects” – Marty Rubin
“Strong women aren’t simply born. We are forged through the challenges of life. With each challenge we grow mentally and emotionally. We move forward with our head held high and a strength that cannot be denied. A woman who’s been through the storm and survived. We are Warriors!” – Unknown
There are moments in everyone’s life where their knees hit the floor. Moments when you are in the middle of a devastating experience. When you feel like you’re sinking beneath the waves for the last time, and you aren’t going to be able to reach the surface again. That moment when you feel that death is a welcome experience, just to get away from the pain. That is the moment when you discover that place deep inside your soul that is indestructible.
“Within every woman there is a healer, a lioness, a wild warrioress, a priestess, a goddess. Never forget that. Give yourself wings” – Unknown
When you are in that place of –
At those moments it is necessary to reinvent who you are – at the basic core of your soul. Nietzsche said that when you are in the place where your entire life is lying all around in the wreckage, it is critical that you look at that as a time of opportunity. It made me think of Steve Austin in the Six Million Dollar Man. They rebuilt his right arm, both legs and one eye and made him bionic and better than he was before.
“We fall. We break. We fail. But then, We Rise, We Heal, We Overcome” – Unknown
What Nietzsche came to call this was the moment of loving your fate. Where you would say that whatever is happening here is what I need to happen. You look at it as an opportunity, a challenge. A place to find your inner strength or resilience to bounce back not just back to where you were. But better than before. The belief here is that nothing can happen to you that is not positive.
I have read several article’s and just bought both the book and the movie for “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. In his book he talks about how everyone shares the condition of brokenness. There are different levels of brokenness, but it is the brokenness that serves as a connection. It’s part of the human condition.
There is a difference between brokenness and breakable. Brokenness can be healed. You gain comfort and meaning from the fact of being healed. Storm Warriors can be broken but they are not breakable.
Being breakable means that there are too many pieces that are missing, and it can’t be fixed. Take a teacup for example. If it is broken, the pieces can be glued back together and it is still a tea cup. But if the tea cup is shattered into a million pieces, the magic of healing can’t happen.
When my nephew was murdered our family faced a choice of being broken or being breakable. Being broken meant that we worked through our grief, anger and pain. Working through those emotions would lead us back to love and forgiveness for the person who took his life.
Being breakable still leads to grief, anger and pain. It doesn’t stop there. It continues down the track of becoming a victim, of being vengeful to point of cheering when the death penalty takes their life. Of taking that victimization even further down the track into denying any compassion and as a result denying our own humanity.
“I expect to pass through this world but once; if, therefore, there can be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again” – A Quaker
LemonadeMakers was our choice. We chose to take resilience to a whole new level. We chose to heal our brokenness. We chose to become Storm Warriors.
When my 3 year old grandson was killed last year, it was another choice of being broken or being breakable. There was a person behind the wheel of the truck that ran him over. We could choose to go down the road of vengeance once again.
We could choose to drown in the grief that struck us.
Or we could choose to embrace our fate. To ask, what is here for me, what is the opportunity and the challenge? For my husband and I, it was embracing our son and daughter in-law. It was supporting them in their time of need and being there not just the day or week of the accident, but every single day since in whatever way they allowed us to be. And sometimes it was being there when they really didn’t want us there, but did in fact need us to be there.
Until the late 1700’s there were no life boats. So when sailors had a shipwreck almost all would be lost at sea. When the life boat was invented, at first they remained on land and would be used to go out to sinking ships to rescue those on board. Storm Warriors was what they used to call the men that would go out in the storm to rescue those in shipwrecks. Many of these Storm Warriors lost their lives trying to save others.
When you become a Storm Warrior, there is no possibility of being breakable. Breakable isn’t a word in your dictionary. A Storm warrior leaves resilience behind in the basement, as you race up to the penthouse. It is that place where there is no comfort zone. There are no boundaries. No limitations.
It is the place you arrive when you have blown past “the zone”, the runners high, the world records. You have not only exceeded all expectations, you put yourself in a whole new zip code, a new dictionary definition of what can be accomplished.
Resilience is a skillset you use daily in your life. Being a Storm Warrior is a part of you that emerges when it is needed. It is sort of like driving a normal car with gas for everyday, and having a dragster with nitro for when you are a Storm Warrior. Most days when you don’t need a nitro super power to live your life. But when those really bad days happen and tragedy strikes, you need to be able to pull out all the stops with your dragster and put some power into your life.
“People who have it tend to also have three underlying advantages: a belief that they can influence life events; a tendency to find meaningful purpose in life’s turmoil; and a conviction that they can learn from both positive and negative experiences” – Amanda Ripley
Resilience is the strength of spirit to recover from everyday adversities. When you experience disappointment, you find the hope and courage to carry on. Humor lightens the load when it seems to heavy. You overcome life’s obstacles by tapping into a deep well of faith and endurance.
At times of loss, you seek out others for comfort. You grieve and then move on. You create new memories. You discern the learning that can come from hardship. You don’t cower in the face of challenge. You engage fully in the dance of life.
If you feel like your resilience balloon has taken one too many hits and is losing air, contact us. We have lots of ideas on how you can refuel your balloon and make it like the Six Million Dollar Man – even better than before.