Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time Outs

With the holidays in full swing and Christmas carols chiming on all the favorite radio stations (not to mention all the cafes, restaurants and stores) the calendar is filling quickly with holiday events, leaving little time to c-h-i-l-l out. Just this morning my boyfriend and I were coordinating our December calendar to find that some dates are filled with more than a couple of events to attend. In addition to attending social events, for many there are also holiday family obligations. The holidays can be a joyous occasion to catch up with and celebrate old traditions with loved ones. However, I'm learning that to much of a 'good thing' can also bring a celebratory occasion to a screeching halt. Do you know what I mean? It seems one minute you couldn't be more thrilled to see your loved ones and the next (after too many consecutive hours together) all of your old 'stuff' is coming up and you've reverted into the 14-year-old child who is spouting off a mouthful of venom (only later to be filled with regret) to your cherished family members.

Ok..... well maybe you've healed all of your old childhood wounds .... but 'some' of us are still working on it. ; ) For me, what works best is if I balance the amount of time I spend with loved ones with some downtime for myself. It seems if I make time to recharge my batteries (which, for me is often done through exercise, napping, or talking to some close friends) I am much better equipped to handle old 'stuff'' that may emerge. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and celebrated..... not lamenting over unnesseccery remarks or spats.

A friend of mine once said, "I like to leave on a 'high' note when I'm in social settings." To me, this means know thyself and know when enough is enough. Know when it's time to go or take a 'time out'. Just like children, adults need 'time outs' too. A time-out is time to reflect, regroup and recharge. Which, in my opinion, leads to a much more enjoyable holiday season for all.

Here's a plug for more time-outs .... they're not just for kids anymore. ; )

Much love,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Keeping Your Word....

I've become increasingly aware of how easy it is to break a commitment .... it's as easy as sending a text, leaving an impromptu voice mail or shooting an email (that goes directly to the person's phone) to say you can't make it or that you need to postpone. What did we do when we didn't have such easy access to people? Did we just not show up? Some of us may have gone this route .... but the majority of us showed up. For many of us (myself included) the thought of abandoning a commitment without informing the other person wasn't even a thought. Even if I didn't 'feel' like it or had regrets of making the plan in the first place .... I showed up. It's amazing to think that centuries ago there wasn't even an option to call... people had to rely on one another's word. It was a given that you'd be accountable to your word. Today it seems that many of us keep this 'little pill' in our back pocket.... just in case.

Now, I'm just as guilty as the next person to cancel last minute ..... not necessarily because I like it or approve of it (although on some level I suppose I do, or I wouldn't be doing it) - but because I can. It's a sneaky rationale and practice that has quickly become a habit for myself and many others. There are a ton of rationalizations that my mind will come up with to justify changing an appointment time or postponing a meeting. It's never meant to be disrespectful to the other person. It's a mindset .... and one that I am working on changing. The new mindset I aim to adopt it to stand by my word. When I set an appointment or make a plan, I am committing to stick with what I say. What this means for me is that before committing I need to give some thought to what I'm choosing. I believe it's the impulsive decision making that leads me (and possibly you) to breaking my word.

I do realize there are some days, week and even seasons where it just feels 'hard' to show up. There's a myriad of reasons why - feeling tired, hormonal, physically exhausted, uninspired.... you name it - we all have these periods. Occasionally, these periods call for a 'time-out' to recharge and rest. The difference between deliberately taking time off and not showing up is that one is intentional and clear, the other is murky and can create distrust between you and whoever is counting on you to show up. More important, last minute cancelling and not showing up creates distrust with yourself. Your integrity gets striped and not only do others not know if they can truly count on you, but somewhere deep inside of yourself, you aren't sure if you can count on you.

What I've realized is that even if I think my actions are inconsequential .... they're NOT. People count on me. People count on you. And, even if others 'seem' ok with the cancellation, on some level there is an expectation not being met. And an expectation not being met leads to disappointment. And when this is repeated, trust can be challenging to establish. When there is no trust it is hard to build confidence, self-esteem and integrity. One cannot possibly feel good about themselves when they are continually breaking promises. One way to build credibility and trust with yourself and others is to show up no matter what. What an incredible way to be remembered ..... that others could count on you and trust your word. This is NOT about being perfect, it's about being a man or woman of your word.

Here's to less impulsive yeses and more thoughtful commitments.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Choosing .....

Where are you NOT choosing in your life today? This was the question that my coach proposed to me today. In fact, he gave me a homework assignment to write out all the places in my life that I'm NOT choosing and then told me to make a choice. I was able to recognize through our conversation that by not choosing (holding off, flip flopping, waffling) I am/was keeping myself stuck, in victim mode and very frustrated. My mind will tell me that by not choosing I am keeping my options 'open', but the truth is it minimizes my level commitment and keeps me from obtaining any mastery over one thing (concept or experience).

The example that comes to mind is with exercise. I have been saying I want to run a 1/2 marathon or even a 5K for some time now (possibly even years) yet, I've done nothing to strengthen my running skills. Instead, I do what's comfortable - fast walk, take an aerobics class, take yoga ..... ANYTHING but run. And, if I do run, it's on the treadmill with intermittent walking. There's not a solid dedication and focus on running. I let fear hold me back - telling myself I'm just not 'built' to run or it will hurt too much ... the list goes on as they usually do. It fascinates me how easy it is to talk myself out of following through on something I want for myself AND how great my mind is at convincing me that what it's telling me is the capital "T" truth!

I made my list of the other areas in my life where I'm NOT choosing ..... and was surprised what I found. There were more areas in my life than I'd thought where I saw that I was waffling. And, consequently feeling frustrated by my results. DUH! This is not rocket science yet it is POWERFUL - choosing - then sticking with the choice. So, for today, I am choosing to run at least 3 times per week AND sign up for a 5K by the end of the year.

Do you know where you're NOT making choices in your life? What's stopping you from choosing? And, how is NOT choosing stopping you from being as powerful as you can be?

I dare you to choose!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Work'n it OUT

Do you ever find yourself in such a frenzy about something or someone you think to yourself I need to end this NOW...?! Maybe it's an argument with a loved one, some critical feedback from a boss or a roommate who has once again moved your stuff around.... regardless, it's annoying and it 'feels' like it's just about put you over the edge.

I was recently talking with someone who's in a new marriage, in fact, in her first year of marriage. She was describing how intolerant she has been feeling about her husbands ways - his needing to have the T.V. on first thing in the morning to catch the football game, eating sugar throughout the day (versus three healthy square meals) and having to sleep with X amount of pillows so he is 'perfectly' comfortable at night. As I listened to her I was empathizing, yet also chuckling to myself because of course, I could relate. Somehow as much as I love something or someone, there always seems to come a time when I find something wrong with it or them - things that IRK me. And, it's usually because something isn't being done "MY WAY". I'm especially 'irked' when I believe my way is the RIGHT WAY or the ONLY WAY. It boils down to control - wanting to be in charge.... be the boss.... be the one who is RIGHT. And, of course, I'm not any of those. Furthermore, I have my own ways that, no doubt, could be seen as annoying (and probably are at times). Like being OCD in my cleanliness, having to make the bed a certain way and having to eat at certain times of the day which can be very un-sexy and un-spontaneous.

What I loved about our conversation was that by the end my friend had worked out enough of her initial lioness frustration, that she came back to a place of love and compassion for this man she dearly loves. She was able to recognize that they are both in a time of transition, especially him given that he'd moved to another city to be with her, leaving his long-time community behind. She began to see her side of the equation and recognize her frustrations were largely due to expectations not being met (those damn expectations!).

Through this conversation I was able to see my relationship in hers. I was able to see how the feelings I experience (albeit different circumstances) are similar to hers. I recognize that often I want what I want when I want it ..... as in NOW! And, if I don't get it, I get annoyed. And, that annoyance gets easily escalated if I fail to see my part of the equation and/or the bigger picture. When there is too much focus OVER THERE (i.e. on HIM) - what he's doing, not doing, how he's contributing or the way he's taking care of himself and not enough focus on ME (i.e. the way I'm taking care of MYSELF or the things I'm doing to fulfill myself) there is far too much pressure on 'something' else to make me happy. Which of course, always leads to disappointment and unmet expectations.

Bottom line - people are people are people. We all come from different walks of life with different influences ..... and then, we get into relationship with one another. Is it any wonder that we're going to have differences, frustrations and disappointments? Of course not. Yet, how easy it is to forget this. This is why it's so important to share our stories, our fears, our disappointments, our relationship woes .... because we get to see that it's ALL normal which is an enormous relief.

Relationships of all kinds are up and down and circular and stale and super duper fabulous and ridiculously amazing ..... they're an delicious blend of everything. And, through all the ebbing and flowing we need consistent communication, patience and ultimately a willingness to let go of our expectations. This is what 'work'n it out' is all about .... underneath the anger, the frustration, the annoyances, intolerances...etc..... for most of us there is a tender place that simply wants to give and receive love.

So, here's to sharing more of our stories with one another and lightening UP! We're all human with foibles and imperfections ..... let us laugh at ourselves and fall back in love with the people we truly adore in our lives.