from type a to type me: how to stop "doing" life and start living it

A Call for Type Me

We have been through a lot this year. Political issues, #MeToo, depression awareness, border issues, and aggression. Everything from the NFL to classic Christmas songs have been called into question. Many times it is a little too much. I want to, but know what I can not change all of these issues. Instead I take solace in the fact that I can fix me, or at least improvement myself and my experience of life bit by bit. And so can you.

For decades I searched for ways to improve myself. How could I reduce my stress, my passive aggressiveness, my anger and frustration? I knew I could, should live a better life but I didn’t know how. I wanted to release the physical and mental pain I was in. I searched high and low for solutions until I found what worked for me – then spent a decade sharing these tools to help others release their pain and ease into a more joyful life.

from type a to type me: how to stop "doing" life and start living itFrom Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It turned four years old this September. It is a chronicle of how I turned my life around. How I moved out of stress, overwhelm and depression to take back a joyful and positive life. And I hope that it will do the same for you and all its readers. The book provides insights, stories, and tools to help release you from overwhelm and into a better life through awareness, acceptance, alternatives, and action.

Awareness

We can not change anything until we are aware of it. The first step toward a more joyful life is to be aware of how we are currently perceiving our current life, those around us, ourselves, and the world as a whole. We need to become aware of our thoughts, beliefs, actions and reactions and how those are affecting our experience of life.

Acceptance

In acceptance there is peace, and the power to change things based on reality.  We need to accept the reality of life and others, even if we do not agree with them or like what they are doing. We need to accept the truth of the current reality. We need to accept others, circumstances, and ourselves. In seeing things as they are, we become empowered to make changes to the true issues.

Alternatives

Often, we are stifled because we only see black and white, this or that, good and bad. We feel we can not act because we only see the horrible situation we are currently in or a situation that is worse or impossible. Open your mind to all the possibilities available to you at all times so you too can start seeing how you can create your ideal life.

Action

Growing our awareness, accepting truth, and seeing alternatives only leads to a changed life if we take action. Learn how to get off the couch, out of your fears, and begin taking the baby steps toward a better life.

This book was seven years in the making and is a testament to the changes I was able to make in my life and in the lives of my clients. If you are looking for a last minute gift for your overwhelmed friend or a tool for changing your life for the better in 2019, why not download a free chapter of From Type A to Type Me and see if it is right for you.

queer eye

Lies and Truth

Have you caught the reboot of Queer Eye? Netflix has picked up the series with a new Fabulous Five and a mission this time to teach and learn acceptance. Both of the new Fab Five seasons are must see, but the Big Little Lies episode in the second season caught my eye. If you don’t have Netflix, you can learn a bit about the episode here.

It is easy to get upset with Ari, the young man the Fab Five are helping. He is a liar. It is easy to see from the first words that leave his mouth that he shirks responsibility and tells tales. It is also clear that he thinks he is charming people into believing him, but he isn’t. Like most liars, the only one who believes the lie is the liar.

queer eyeWhen we run into liars we want to call them on it. We want to yell at them to cut the bull and tell the truth. Unfortunately, if we do this, the only result is the person becomes defensive or combative and digs deeper into the untruths. In the episode with Ari, I thought they were going to call him to the carpet when they hooked him up to a lie detector, but then the show takes an amazing twist **spoiler alert** they don’t give him the results. In fact, no one looks to see if or what he lied about. Instead of the Fab Five being the condescending parent or authority figure calling Ari on his BS, they turn responsibility for Ari’s lies over to him. Ari is the only one who knows if he lied in the test and now he has to live with it.

When I first saw the episode, the lesson I took away was regarding my own lies and half truths about my time in the UCLA theatrical directing graduate school. I had been embarrassed that the school kicked me out, so instead of boldly telling the truth, I said “I left.” It was true. I did leave. What I did not express was the fact I was asked to leave. When Queer Eye did not force Ari to fess up to his lie, what I heard was that the only person who knows, needs to know, and needs to live with the truth is me. I did not tell the whole truth because I was afraid of being judged. It became easier to share my truth when I realized that I was already being judged – each and every day by myself. Being completely honest also helped me let go of the incident. I could let go of my fear of being imperfect and move on with my life.

Lying is a defense mechanism used to protect ourselves from how we think others see us. Lying on the deepest level is a way for us to hide from ourselves. It is hard to be 100% open, honest, and truthful with others and even more so with ourselves. It is scary to see ourselves naked and vulnerable; to be an open book. It takes courage to be completely open with everyone, including ourselves, in every moment. But when we do, we are empowered like never before.

Without the lies hiding our fears, we are free. We can tackle anything because we are free of the bondage of our lives. To move forward in life, we need to release our fears, let go of the lies, and share our truth. Fear and lying only hold us back.

Fears

What are you afraid of sharing? What is keeping you from being 100% honest? Many times it is our fear of being less than. We are afraid of others being upset or leaving us due to our actions, thought, or beliefs. Yet these fears may be unfounded. We can never know 100% how people will react until we share our truth.

Acceptance

We may think we are getting away with a lie, but usually we are not. A lawyer friend of mine used to joke, “Nothing is illegal, unless you get caught.” Many of us live our lives lying under the radar. And many times we can get away with our lies. Either no one knows or no one calls us on it. We think we have gotten away with something and in one way we have. But in a much bigger way we have not. We have to live with our lie. We are the ones up sleepless nights worrying about being caught. Our lies and fears eat away at us day and night.

Courage

Being 100% honest in everything, takes a lot of courage. Many of us have told little white lies to protect someone’s feelings or not ruffle feathers, but is it truly the best choice? Every time we run from our whole-hearted truth, we are making a small tear in our relationships. We should never share a truth that would intentionally hurt another, but everything else is fair game.

Watch yourself this week. What lies are you telling? What are you trying to cover up with the lie? What are you afraid of? What do you need to accept about yourself? Do you have the courage to tell the truth?

dirk gently's holistic detective agency

Decisions in Desperation

I was saddened to hear my latest Netflix binge show is not getting a third season. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is based on the 1987 novels by Douglas Adams.  The show was well written and acted and was loaded with the geeky humor I love. What I also loved was the deeper messages the show conveyed.

In the first episode, Dirk tells his reluctant new assistant Todd, “You’ve been making choices out of desperation for too long, that much is obvious. You’re backing yourself into a corner. Break the pattern. Take control of your life, Todd. The instant you take control, interesting things will happen. I guarantee it.”

dirk gently's holistic detective agency
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4047038/mediaviewer/rm4061739520

Many times in my life I made choices out of desperation. I was living in a reactionary state. I didn’t think I had a choice or didn’t think I had the power to act on my own choice. So instead I moved through life based on what came to me or what others wanted. I wouldn’t act until the pain was great enough to force me into action. Like the old saying, it had to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I would accept more and more and more of what I didn’t want because I felt afraid to act. I felt powerless. I didn’t know or accept that I had power to create my life. The result is that by the time I acted, I was just protecting myself against all the crap I took on instead of consciously moving into what I wanted.

When I completed college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no direction. I was accepted into graduate school for theatrical directing, so I went. It was not a choice. It was an act of desperation. I didn’t know what else to do so I went where I was accepted. It was an honor to be in the program, but it was not my passion. It was not my life purpose. After one year, the school realized this as well and kicked me out. I could have moved home afterward. I could have resigned myself and acted out of desperation yet again, but for some reason I didn’t this time.

I chose to stay in Los Angeles. I had no safety net. I had no real job. I had only a temporary residence. In college I had wanted to try skydiving and my experience in California was that same terrifying exhilaration of free-falling I assume skydiving is. Because I had nothing else, I had to begin to create for myself. I found my way. I made some bad choices and wrong turns, but for once, I was the one walking the path. I didn’t follow anyone else. I didn’t react. I chose. I acted. I created. I started accepting my power. I began to take control of my life. I began to define and move toward what I wanted. And as Dirk predicted, interesting things did begin to happen.

Do you act out of choice or desperation? Are you choosing your life or letting it be chosen for you? Are you ready to begin taking control of your experience?

my close community

Keys for Success

We currently live in a community of duplexes which are built very close together. Our balcony is attached to our neighbor’s balcony; we can literally hop the divider and be on their side. We can see our backyard neighbor’s kitchen from our bedroom. The neighbor across the street has a clear view into our house from his patio. At first, I thought this might be a bit intrusive, but everyone is respectful, and the close quarters have actually created a wonderful feeling of community.

my close communityIt can also feel a bit like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. As I work from home, I have picked up the pattern of the local community from the first 7:00am car horn picking up kids for school, to our shirtless neighbor having his third cigarette on the patio, to the evening barbeques watching the sunset.

In the movie Rear Window, there is Miss Lonely Heart having dinners on her own, a beautiful showgirl practicing her dance moves, and a composer who creates his work all day and night. We too have a musician. Back in January I started to notice someone practicing the piano weekdays late in the afternoon and randomly on the weekends. The player is working on Mozart’s very difficult Rondo Alla Turca.

As the song is played every day, I am glad it is one of my favorites. The player here is very good but stumbles about one minute into the piece where it shifts. For about a month, I heard the player work and rework and work some more on this transition. By April, the player’s practice paid off with a smooth brilliant transition. Note too, that my local pianist plays the song much faster than the video link. Amazing!

In listening to the player’s ability grow over the months, I was struck by the dedication to this piece. It made me think of what is needed for success: Practice, Consistency, and Patience.

Practice

Especially in our current instant-gratification society, having dedication to our practice is challenging. I see this with my own desire to speak and understand the Spanish language. I speak it every time I can, but I also know if I would pick up the CD tutorial or hire a teacher that the daily practice would excel my ability. But committing to the practice is difficult. I was amazed at the player’s daily practice even when the piece was not working well (I heard more than one time all fingers – or whole head – angerly hitting the keys). But then two seconds later, practice would continue. Having the courage to practice even when things are not smooth is the path to success.

Consistency

The pianist plays daily, sometimes multiple times a day, without fail. When we are trying something new, it is easy to say we aren’t going to do it today because of [insert reason here]. Strength comes from being consistent no matter the circumstances. Have a cold? Play. Friends coming over later? Play. Spent more time than usual practicing the day before? Play. During this spring’s yoga challenge, I learned the strength that comes from consistency. Success comes from dedicating yourself to a practice and holding yourself accountable to make it happen each and every day.

Patience

I honor the pianist’s patience. I can tell the days where the piece is not as good as the player thinks it can be. Through the un-Mozart sounds that come after a passage, I can hear frustration. But then I also experience the deep cleansing breath before the player gets back at it again. I don’t know what is going on in the pianist’s head, but just the fact that the player can “get back on the horse” after a musical fall shows great love and self-acceptance. We are often very hard on ourselves. Without patience and acceptance, we often block ourselves and stifle our growth. Be patience, loving and accepting of yourself. Practice patience as you learn and grow.

Whether you are learning something new or just trying to get through your day, look to practice, consistency and patience to help support you toward your definition of success.

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.