Monday, September 21, 2009

Developing an 'of course' attitude....

Do you believe that the world you live in is created by you? One of my favorite coaches often says to me that I am the creator of my reality. While this mostly feels like an empowering statement, at times I find it frustrating, particularly when I'm not satisfied with the circumstances of my life. What this statement says to me is that my reality sits with me. If things are not going 'my way', I am responsible (at least to some degree) for my experience.

I was watching the Emmy's last night and the host from the show Survivor (who won an award) said something to the effect of ..... "don't give up on your dreams.... this was a dream of mine, and it's come true." In essence, he created his reality by continuing to believe in his dream. Although, I've probably read and/or heard a variation of this statement a hundred times over, I was profoundly struck by his words. I began to think about my dreams ... some of which have and are coming true and others that to some degree, I've dismissed. I realize that the dreams that have been put on the back burner are those that seem too big, to far away or logistically impossible (at least immediately). I've made a decision (conscious or unconscious) that that dream isn't possible... at least not right now. What a shame!

As I reflect on this I recall having this discussion with a good friend..... why some things are so easy to believe in and others a challenge. For example, I always assume (believe) that I will get a parking space (however big or small this 'dream' is, it never waivers for me) and, of course, I always do! I have also always believed that I would have great friends and again, I do and always have. These are two areas within my life that I've never questioned - ever. I call this an 'of course' attitude - an assumption that something is going to go a certain way .... and it does. As in 'of course' I have a fabulous boyfriend ... why wouldn't I? : )

So, I wonder..... why is it that I have this 'of course' attitude in some areas of my life and an attitude of questioning or doubt in others? Why is it I question whether I'll be able to build a multi-million dollar business but not whether I'll get married someday? I have a good friend and she's the complete opposite..... fretting over not being hitched and doubting it will ever happen, yet, wildly successful professionally. Intriguing ... don't you think?

I propose that developing a stronger belief (or faith) in certain areas of your life is like developing new muscles. There are some muscles that I..... you.... we.... use regularly, without a thought. And, there are other muscles that when used it feels awkward, uncomfortable and even a bit frustrating. I recall when I worked with a personal trainer and some of the exercises were almost impossible in the beginning ....they felt unnatural and challenging.... and so many times I wanted to give up! Often I was sore afterward because I was using a new muscle (or muscles) and was being stretched beyond my comfort zone. In the end, I ALWAYS felt better for a couple reasons - 1) I was stronger. 2) I did something I thought was impossible. And, within a seemingly short time, the exercise was no longer THAT hard ... I did it without too much struggle. So, can this same philosophy not be used for developing faith? I think so.....

There are many ways to develop your muscles of faith..... talk to people who are strong believers and highly positive, go to an inspiring talk, listen to a podcast from someone who pushes you to dream bigger.... these are all great ways to reinforce your muscles getting stronger. And, at the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is make a decision NOT to waiver on achieving and having what you want in your life. Why not adopt an 'of course' attitude? What do you have to lose? Remember, like attracts like - so if you believe something will happen .... most likely IT WILL! So.... what will you decide for today? I'm deciding that today is going to be AMAZING with plenty of new opportunities coming my way!

Here's to becoming more 'muscular'! ; )


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What I've learned this year....

As of yesterday I'm officially 38-years old. It's a strange concept - getting older. While I've been here for 38-years (which is hard to believe) I feel more like 28. Although, that's a fairly subjective statement given that I've no idea what it is 'supposed' to feel like to be 38. Each year on my birthday I take the time to reflect what's happened in the previous year and what I most want in the year ahead. I'm always amazed to see that each year I'm a little wiser, a little more confident in who I am and a little more convicted in what I want moving forward. It signifies that I've not fallen asleep at the wheel. Kudos for staying 'awake'.

This past year I've had some pretty major life changes. Most, if not all have been dreams coming to fruition (it's really true, what you focus on comes to be) and all have been incredible learning opportunities for me. One of the biggest changes, as many of you know, is that I've gone from an "I" to a "we" in a new-ish relationship... which, I'm very excited about! It has been a combination of one or all of these at various times: confusing, challenging, scary, amazing, delightful, blissful and empowering. I am, for the first time beginning to understand why people get scared to commit in a relationship. While I love, love, love the idea of having someone on my team who's committed to sharing his life with me, I also have moments of clenching tightly to staying in control. And, what I've learned is that if I want to remain in control at all times, I wont keep anyone in my life for long. In relationship, I'm learning, there must be a relinquishing of control. There must be a mutual trust and honoring of the other person (i.e. I must trust my boyfriend to manage himself - it's not my job, nor does he want me managing him). There are so many things I could say about my learning/s of being in relationship including the value of consistent communication, biting my tongue more often, giving unconditionally, receiving, being vulnerable, talking about hard things (yes, I'm referring to sex and money!) and so on..... All in all, I wouldn't change or trade this incredible opportunity for anything. I prayed for it and so it came to be. As they say, "Be careful what you ask for...."

I've also made some changes on the career front, again moving from an "I" to a "we". I now have a team of coaches that I work with, support, collaborate and learn from. It's a wonderful gift and at times incredibly challenging as relationships can be. Apparently, my 37th year had a theme - relationships! I have learned the value of working within a team however, I've also learned that decisions can take longer (and often do!), that we don't always agree and that it takes consistent effort to stay connected. Bottom line - relationships take work. They are not for sissies.

The last big and MOST important learning for me this past year has been to relax, slow down and act more strategically. This is still a fairly new concept and practice for me however, I am keenly aware of my pace and the rate at which I make decisions (i.e. quickly = impulsive at times). Not that my decisions haven't been fruitful, many have born great success/s. However, I 'know' that I could be (and am) that much more effective if I am MORE relaxed, thorough and detailed in my process of execution. This isn't always the comfortable route for me, but then is there really ever any comfort in growth .... is that not why it's called growth? It's a stretch and in the moment can feel excruciating ... but in the end like a good stretch, it feels good.

Moving into my 38th year I hope for continued learning (and hopeful that it doesn't come with too much pain ; ), an increased capacity for love and a slower pace of life. I know that life / people will continue to show me exactly what I need to learn in order to grow - it always does. It's really a matter whether I'm willing to stay awake and open to receiving and embracing the lesson. The best news is that even if/when I'm not open to the lesson, life will keep on delivering. So, whatever I didn't get in my 37th year, I'll have another opportunity at 38 and so it goes..... sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly....

Here's to another year of 'graceful' (or not so graceful) learning. ; )


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Managing Expectations

Tonight I had an expectation to spend some quality time with my boyfriend. I'd played out the scene in my mind - we'd have dinner, watch some good 'quality' t.v., chat a bit..... and enjoy each others company. I had deliberately mapped my day so I could be available for this time (fantasy in my mind). And, I had an expectation that he was doing the same. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how I look at it, he didn't map his day in quite the same way and was unavailable for the evening. My initial reaction was of frustration and anger.... mixed in with a lot of disappointment. And, the manifestation of that was being short and curt with him, eager to get off the phone so I could go vent elsewhere.

Thank GOD for girlfriends and gyms - both great places to vent and release energy! It's amazing what talking about a situation will do for me, particularly when I have strong feelings about it. As I'm describing the situation to someone else, such as this one, I begin to see what my truth is under the feelings I'm experiencing .... which, at the time feel like a ball of fire imploding. The truth in this case was that I was sad. With my unmet expectation/s I see that the first place I go emotionally (and this is true in many other cases as well, not just with my boyfriend) is to take it personally. And often, I don't even recognize that's what I've done. I make up that whatever it was that I expected to happen didn't because of something having to do with me. Mostly that's WRONG. Nine out of ten times the reason my expectation wasn't met is because of a choice the other person has made having little or nothing to do with me.

So, I ask how does one (ME!) manage expectations? How do I roll with the punches no matter what life (or my boyfriend) tosses my way? And most important, how do I continue loving with all my heart and soul in the midst of disappointment when every bone in my body wants to lash out?

In this moment the only answer I have for myself is 1. to trust that EVERYTHING happens for a reason (i.e. tonight would be a wonderful night to go to bed early to feel refreshed for my week which would most likely NOT happen if I were to visit with my boyfriend) and 2. communication (i.e. rather than harbor a resentment I believe it would be best to communicate my feelings after they've been processed a bit to share my feelings and thoughts in a 'civilized' manner) Perhaps there are other ways to 'deal' with unmet expectations but I think trust and communication are a great start.

What I know and am realizing more now is that sometimes unmet expectations are really a blessing in disguise. When things don't go a certain way, the aspect that causes me the most grief is that I've held onto how it was 'supposed' to look.... and, unfortunately, when I look long enough at how a thing or person is not what it is or was 'supposed' to be, I've missed the gift of seeing how that thing or person did show up. So, for tonight, my gifts are that my boyfriend was honest with me, that I have more time to write (which I love!) and that I will be in bed early (which I love even more!).

Here's to a great week ahead .... not that I have any expectations!