Stuff Happens. Don’t Spaz. Make It Right.

Water supply is a major concern for the desert town of Cabo San Lucas. Because of this, we just had a larger cistern installed to help us have more supply on hand, just in case. During construction a delivery truck damaged part of my neighbor’s driveway. I panicked. I thought our neighbor would be angry. I didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot in our new community.

construction projectI expected the neighbor to rush over, irately pound on my door, and say they would sue me so I kept watch hoping to talk to them before they saw the damage and became upset.  Due to our schedules, I kept missing them. I asked the construction workers if the neighbor had come over to complain. The workers told me that the neighbor had come over and the crew explained that we had plans in place to repair the damage. The neighbor went home happy without even talking to me. Really? Phew.

I learned three things from this incident.

Stuff happens.

Life is messy. Life is far from perfect. Even with the best intentions, bad or annoying stuff can happen. Accept it. So much of our stress comes from expecting perfection when, in reality, life is unpredictable and everchanging. Stuff breaks. Stuff disappears. Stuff is not where and when we need it. Don’t focus on who to blame. Don’t think it means anything about your worth. It doesn’t mean anything about us or anyone else. It just is. As you release unrealistic expectations for unchanging perfection and the desire to find someone to blame, you can decrease the stress you experience.

Don’t spaz.

Not spazzing is first about not reacting poorly to stuff happening which does not meet our expectations, and secondly about not being upset before we know what stuff has happened.  I wasn’t quite up to spaz level, but my assumptions about my neighbor having a negative response were not pleasant. When we spaz, we are letting our fears create negative emotions. When we react from fear, we are not clear and in control. We are letting our negative emotions lead which often makes things unpleasant for ourselves and others. Take a breath. Don’t assume. Don’t fear. Uncover the truth.

Make it right.

If you are responsible for causing another pain or discomfort, own it. Apologize. Do what you can to make it right. We all make mistakes, and that’s ok. Take responsibility for your actions and do your best to make it right for all involved.

After the non-incident with my neighbor, the next challenge was overcoming my expectations for the completion of the project. Construction was not progressing as quickly as it originally had. The Type A in me started to show up. I mentally set deadlines I could not control, and I became stressed and upset when they were not met. Then I looked back at this blog post idea. Stuff happens. Materials were not available. Personal issues came up with the crew. I stopped spazzing and started joking with the crew about which mañana (tomorrow) the project would actually be finished by. It always amazes me the freedom and joy I experience when I move from the negative emotions of anger and disappointment, to embracing acceptance and playfulness. Finally, we all tried to make it right. The crew couldn’t meet the deadlines they set, but it was because they were doing quality work. By releasing my expectations, I made the project easier on them because I did not add tension to the situation.

As you move through this week, notice what you are triggered by. Can you accept that stuff happens, keep your fear-based negative reactions in check, and rationally look for ways to make it right?

Jackie Kennedy

Shaping Our Lives

What if you were told growing up, “You never have to worry about keeping up with the Joneses, because we are the Joneses”? or, “Style is not a function of how rich you are, or even who you are. Style is a habit of mind that puts quality over quantity, noble struggle before mere achievement, honor before opulence. It’s what you are. It’s your essential self”? How would you grow up perceiving the world? What would be your expectations for yourself and others?

Jackie Kennedy
Image: https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/jackie-kennedy-175.php

According to the book, Jackie, Janet & Lee by J. Randy Taraborrelli, these were the words spoken to Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by her father. It is easy to see how these words shaped who Jackie was and what she expected from life.

What were you told growing up? What did the adults around you believe? What experiences did you have which shaped your expectations?

Sometimes we are told things which are meant to protect and support us, but which actually hold us back. Sometimes those around us are unstable and cruel. Whatever the circumstance, we often find ourselves decades later continuing to create our life based on some random comment. What was spoken by another has now become a fact of life that we believe completely.

I have set a goal for my yoga class to be able to do a headstand by my 50th birthday. I started with small poses to build up my neck muscles. I have built up to picking my feet off the floor and resting my knees on my elbows. I was in that pose feeling good about myself and my growing strength when my instructor told me to lift my legs. My heartrate increased. My breathing became shallow and fast. I was terrified. My legs froze and felt five times heavier than they are. However, it was not my body that could not do the pose, but my mind.

Instead of having confidence, my mind went to the belief that I have never been athletic, I am old and overweight.  These thoughts are what weighed me down. These beliefs are what kept me from a headstand, not any physical ability. Along with continuing my practice, I am now also working diligently to remove the beliefs which are holding me back.

What beliefs are currently holding you back? What have people told you that you made your own? What incident from years ago are you holding on to and making it a current reality? What stories are you telling yourself to keep yourself small?

We all have beliefs which are not serving us. But we can choose what we continue to believe. Instead of defeating yourself by buying into a negative belief when it appears, tell yourself that even though you believe it now, it is safe to let it go. No matter what we are told – or what we tell ourselves, we can choose to believe it or not. If our current beliefs are not serving us, we can choose ones that move us forward and bring us joy.

Stay tuned for headstand pictures. I will get there. 😉

time pieces

Sorry, I’m Not Available Right Now

Part of my day job is to make engagement calls to my career transition candidates. Sometimes I reach them. Sometimes I leave a voice-mail. The one situation that always intrigues me is when someone answers my call and then says in a huff tone, “I’m in a meeting.” Although I’m pretty brilliant, I am not yet psychic. I don’t have the foresight to know what people are doing when I call. The onus is not on me to not call, but on them to not answer.

The issue is not when to call or not, but one of control – or lack of control. Is it a badge of pride in our busy-ness that we have to take a call during a meeting? Is it the feeling of overwhelm that compels us to answer messages immediately to prove how much we have on our plate? Is it the lack of self-respect that we put the caller’s needs above our own? Is it feeling the victim of technology instead of using it for our benefit?

time piecesWhen we reduce ourselves to mindlessly answering calls, texts and emails when we are in the middle of something else, we are not only rude and unprofessional to those we are meeting with, but to me, more importantly, it means we are not being present. If we were 100% present in the meeting, we would not answer our phones.

A friend had the honor of meeting Sir Richard Branson on his private island. Here is a man who heads more than 400 companies. If anyone had to take a call during a meeting, we could understand why he would. But he didn’t. My friend mentioned how Sir Richard was solely focused on the individual speaking. No distractions. No impatience. Just a solid concentrated focus.

It is the same state I can get into during yoga and am trying to bring fully to the rest of my life. When I am “in the zone” during yoga, I am hyper aware of my breath, conscious of my movement, actively relaxing and deepening the pose. I am at one with the pose and there are no other thoughts or actions. Imagine what life would be like if we could approach everything that way.

Imagine being 100% present when your child tells you about their day. Imagine being fully with the one you love, without thinking of how the laundry needs to be done. Imagine focusing solely at the task at hand instead of being tormented by the other things on your to-do list.

One cool thing I have learned about being present during yoga, is that time expands. A 90-minute class feels like two hours. In fact, the first few times this happened, I got worried. I thought the instructor went over time and that I would be late for my client. But nope, same recorded amount of time, just a different experience of it. As I slowly bring this singular focus into my daily life, I find that my work day is less hectic. Time expands with my clients and between clients. What used to feel like constantly being behind the eight-ball, is now a work day of expansion and extra time. Nothing has changed except my focus, my ability to slow down and be in the moment.

Start taking control of your day by first controlling your phone. Turn it to silent and ignore it when you are working with someone else. Then, as best as you can, focus solely on the task or person at hand. Give them 100% of your attention. Then see how your efficiency, joy, and time all increase.

three leg stool

Three-Legged Stool

Yoga is part of my current daily practice. I have been learning many new lessons through the practice which I am bringing into my daily life. Today I would like to share with you three elements of yoga which can be the foundation of how you approach your challenges – on and off the mat.

A decade or so ago, I went briefly to a weekend workshop focused on finding your “one thing.” After the opening two-hour introduction, it felt like a cult and I high-tailed it out of there. The basics of the book and workshop were that if you found your “one thing” then you built your life around it. What I found funny was that some of the participants had been attending these workshops for years and either could not find their one thing or had changed it many times.

I think one of ththree leg stoole issues of the program was the focus on results and the physical world. The idea was to find a singular purpose, something tangible and achievable, and then create your life around that making it happen. Instead, what I have found in yoga and in my own life, is that a focus on ways of being allows a purpose to be revealed, evolve, and lead us on an amazing journey.

The three ways of being I am learning through yoga are: strength, balance, and flexibility.

Strength

For me, this one is easy. My Type-A personality is all about strength, perseverance, and making things happen. What I have had to come to accept about strength, is that I am not strong in all areas and that leading with strength is not always the best choice. I am learning my limits; where can and should I be strong, and what is not in my ability. As I flow more into Type Me, I also am releasing strength as my go-to tool and am learning to find other ways to approach life.

Balance

I write a lot about work-life balance, but balance is more than juggling the things in our lives. It is also about being centered. I am learning to be physically centered in my body on the yoga mat and out moving in the world. I am also returning to being centered in my mind and thinking. Balance is an inner strength and confidence no matter what is happening outside. It is calming the mind.  It is remaining still in the center of a storm.

Flexibility

When I think about flexibility, it is not giving in and bending over backwards for others. Flexibility is about remaining open; it is being a young branch swaying in the wind not an old brittle hardened stubborn branch susceptible to damage because of its rigidity. To be flexible is to be open to what we know and what we don’t know; being open to new opinions, personalities, and ways of living.

Strength, balance, and flexibility work together to create a powerful way of being. If we are only strong, we may become exhausted or rigid. If we only focus on balance, we may never move forward. If we only choose flexibility, we may be swayed too much by the wants and needs of others. When we use all three legs of the stool, strength, balance and flexibility, we create a strong foundation for living.

yoga as a daily practice

The Necessity of Routine

After transitioning from Type A to Type Me, I found that practicing a regular routine helped me from sliding back into my Type-A ways. Originally, the practice was reading inspirational works daily, meditating, focusing on active gratitude, and walking. I diligently engaged in these things daily to lay a strong foundation and center myself.

Two and a half years ago, I arrived in paradise. Breaking out of the rat race, I landed in a beautiful location surrounded by calming water and a culture of loving caring individuals. Things were perfect. I let my daily practices slide. Why would I need to have a daily practice now that I had the sun and the surf every day?

Wrong.

yoga as a daily practiceI did not notice the impact right away. Things were good. I didn’t have to maintain my practice to feel centered. Life was amazing. But then it started. Little issues. Little conflicts. Small and big challenges. Without the foundation of my practice, I found myself unconsciously and negatively reacting to these trials. I did not approach them with calm centeredness, but with blinding emotion. The result was the same horrible feeling I had when I was in the deep despair of my Type-A days.

Thankfully things are on the mend. I have committed to creating a new Type-Me practice. And by practicing daily, I am slowing down and being more conscious of my thoughts, actions, and beliefs. I am not allowing my emotions to take a hold of my reactions. And I am finding more peace in my daily life.

Having a regular practice is very important. Times will be good. Times will be bad. The consistency of our practice is what bridges these hills and valleys. It gives us support during tough times and creates even more ease when things are good.

Doing a daily practice is more important than what the practice is. What is important is finding what you need to help keep you centered. Look into practices like meditation or yoga that clear your mind. Find the texts that feed your soul whether they are from religious books or your favorite blog. Engage your body in the movement it desires. Add in practices of gratitude, intentions, and affirmations. Maybe you want to have a bit of a creative outlet daily. Many different tools are available to you to create your own practice. Find the ones that best serve you.

You may also find that your daily practice changes over time. As your life changes, you may find that you need different types or means of support. Just like any diet, your personal practice may change overtime, and if you don’t change your diet you may find yourself stuck in a rut or not getting all the nutrition you need. Every so often look at your practice and evaluate what is working and what is not. As we grow, it makes sense that our practice grows with us.

Do you have a daily practice? Are you faithfully executing it? How do you feel when you practice a few days in a row? How do you feel when you skip your practice a few too many times? What would it take to gift yourself with a practice?

yoga practice

Strength in Letting Go

Since the day after Christmas, I have been a yoga fiend. Recently I finished a 21-day challenge with 17 days of yoga. Yea me!  Not only has my practice helped with my body, but as in true yoga, it is improving my mind, actions and outlook. The concept is that the things we learn on the yoga mat are what we bring into our daily lives to make it better.

One big aha I had the other day is about strength and release. When I first returned to my yoga practice, I was out. of. shape. It had been years since I did yoga and months since I did any exercise. My body forgot what it was like to be used. At the first few classes, we would be put into one of the poses and told to hold the pose for a few breaths. As I tried to hold the pose, my legs would shake. Three breaths seemed like an eternity. I believed that I was not strong enough to do the pose. But I was wrong.

yoga practiceI wasn’t relaxed enough.

Last week I was working with my favorite instructor who likes to push me further and further into my practice. I got into a deep pose and was told to hold it. My leg began to shake like it did during the first few classes I took. I told the instructor that I was not strong enough yet to do the pose. He corrected me. It was not strength I was missing, but flexibility. My leg was shaking because my leg was too tight. What I needed to do was to release in order to find the strength to hold the pose smoothly.

This blew my mind.

Up until then my practice on the mat – and in life – was to push through the pain. I am a penguin ever marching to and from sea to survive. I have persistence and drive. I power through. In yoga, and in much of my life, trying to be too strong is actually a weakness. In my toughness, I was hardened and inflexible. I would exhaust myself, and sometimes those around me. As I released my Type A, much of this toughness dissipated.  But drive, strength, and hardened toughness are still my unconscious go-to behaviors when I am faced with a challenge.

Taking my lesson from the mat to my life, I learned that it helps to learn to let go. When things are tough, I need to release my fear, my doggedness, my rigidity. Instead of putting up a shield and preparing to fight, I am better served by relaxing into the conflict. When I notice myself toughening up, I intend to release the tension in my body and the walls in my mind. Instead of falling into my go-to drive, I will now ease into the strength that comes in stillness.

Spend this week noticing when you are tense. What triggered you? What are you trying to push yourself through? Then gently release the tension – in your body and mind. Maintain the core of your strength but let your muscles and attitude relax. See if in this state of ease that things are not resolved easily and efficiently – and more enjoyable way.