What gets in the way of telling people that you love them?
Not just partners, spouses and friends, but people all around you.
Last year, I kept having an urge to send Valentine cards to my coworkers and employees. But I knew that most people would find that corny.
Why would an operational manager at a large corporation send cards to her employees? Don’t people grow out of that in the 4th grade?
That’s what held me back. I was afraid to be perceived as corny, even though I truly grew to love those that worked with me (in an “agape” sense, not a romantic one).
It’s probably very uncool to love your employees.
That is me, totally uncool.
The more I think about it, the more I am proud of that fact. I believe in a model of “servant leadership” in which the person who leads is actually in service to the people they lead.
And yet, I think it is the most effective way to lead people. To love them, to witness them grow, to help them attain their career goals… that was what made me effective in my previous role.
The clients I serve now? I love them too. Not in a creepy way. But in a way that shows how much I value them as capable individuals, striving toward growth and excellence. We often have similar insecurities. We are all in this together.
Never again will I let the fear of being “corny” get in the way of my ability to show love for people I value.A resolution for today and for the future. Life is too short to hold back.
On Tuesday I was set to do my semi-monthly financial accounting. I did not want to do it, and I could feel myself procrastinating and avoiding it as much as possible. So I practiced something I have learned to help me figure out my thoughts when I am having trouble moving forward – a thought download in my journal.
Our thoughts create our emotions, our emotions drive our actions (or behavior), and our actions are what determine our results. I needed to figure out which thoughts were causing my resistance/discomfort which was driving my avoidance. What I determined that I was creating drama about what the numbers would mean, ahead of the clarity of even knowing them. In the end, my bank balances, investments and credit balances are just math.
I was afraid I would beat myself up for not saving enough, or feel a sense of scarcity as we get to the end of my “runway” as far as getting more income rolling by this point. But then I realized that I am committed to this journey, and while things may be tight for a while, I have a lot of options to consider.
Even before I got the numbers down on paper, I decided to think different thoughts, like: what a blessing it was to have saved up the money to have time off between my job and my new venture. I can also think: I am resilient and always figure out what I need to do next. These thoughts are true, and felt better than the scarcity thoughts I had manufactured.
Once I got the numbers down on paper, and figured out where things stood, I felt so much better. Nothing is worse that feeling of confusion or fogginess about reality, and not being able to make good decisions as a result. I realized, through a bit of self-coaching and compassion toward myself, I could choose not to get caught up in story or the drama my mind was creating.
Now that I am clear on where things stand, I can make better decisions going forward. Looking at the math, and evaluating the situation based on a more generative and abundant mindset was key to getting that task done. I am grateful that I have learned tools for emotional management that will serve me well going forward.
*This is an edited post from January 2018. I spent my day being in the flow of what felt right. So this post on gratitude is appropriate.*
I often sit in the morning drinking my coffee while I watch the sunrise, along with my cat (Willy) who watches and seems to love it too. Or maybe he is just watching for the neighborhood dogs, I am not sure.
We have a really well-positioned large window in the living room. This photo does not do it justice, but the flaming orange, red, purple and pink colors make me breathless with wonder.
It is these intense moments of gratitude when I feel myself losing the need to worry, and coming back to the present, where I have all I need in this moment. Such a simple concept, and yet we are drawn away from the present so often. It can be hard to live right here and now. So many distractions and enticements can take us away from the simplest joys.
Our habits of mind, well-practiced and reinforced, have not placed value on being, just breathing and sensing. But that is okay, it is still possible to learn and practice this new skill. The practice of mindful gratitude, focusing awareness on our breath or just watching the thoughts come and go, is a foundation for joy.
Last night during yin yoga class I noticed my tendency to escape into my mind when I was in a more challenging pose. But I kept bringing myself back, breathing into some slight discomfort but allowing myself to stay with the sensations. This is good practice for sitting with difficult emotions as well.
Life will never be 100% positive, and that is okay. To be fully human is to feel good sometimes and bad other times. The range of emotion is a gift to us as humans, and the less we fight and resist the harder emotions, the more joy we can access. It is okay to feel sad and to grieve losses. It is necessary and good, and allows empathy for others.
Joy comes at moments when we are able to notice all the good within us and around us. It can also be practiced, and cultivated with thoughts of compassion and love. Saying thank you to the universe, to the spirit, to a family member, or to whatever moves us, helps us to access that joy more readily. Thank you, friends. I hope you enjoy your weekend.
I borrowed the above title from a line in a guided meditation and I wish I could remember which one so I can properly attribute it. Nonetheless, it reminds me that building more space into my weekly time for reflection and writing my own work is more challenging than I thought. I am seldom the wordless person. I have lots of words. And I share them freely.
When you write your “morning pages” in your journal, you are the only one who can give yourself praise for getting your work done. Social media and the clicks and likes can be an addictive little “hit” for affirmation. As a writer, I write every day no matter what. It is like oxygen for me. But I am susceptible to that buzz that comes from others receiving the work well.
I am comforted to know that there is brain chemistry and neurobiology behind this, of course. Those clicks and likes produce a little hit of dopamine in your brain, and because we are social creatures, approval is important to us at a primal level. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is very natural. Please have some compassion for yourself if you worry sometimes about what other people think. Being part of a tribe or pack was how the mammals of today survived.
As a person who loves words, and who loves the ease of publishing that blogs can offer, it is even harder for me to be the “wordless” person. I joke to my husband that this blog is my little soapbox, so that I can express my ideas freely without subjecting him to all of my opinions. 😉 So he is grateful that it exists.
Some days, I am better off going into observer mode rather than writing publicly. It reminds me of meditation, noticing what is going on in my body, and in my mind, while not attaching to it. Emotions come and go, as thoughts do. Ideas float through and sometimes I want to grab a pen. But I sit, and allow things to flow through. My ego-ic mind can be quite impressed with my thoughts sometimes. But my higher self, the watcher, just observes and allows. No thought is better than another, they just are.
Is it challenging to be the wordless person? Heck yeah, more than I ever realized.
I have made a big decision about what I will do for self-development this year, and I am excited to commit to it. Y’all know I am a big fan of yoga. I practice typically 4-6 times a week for an hour or more each session.
Yoga and meditation have changed my brain. These practices have transformed the way I experience my life. They have helped me live with more intention, get grounded in my own body, and helped me manage my mind and my emotions. Though I still have an active (and what I call “playful”) mind, it is far less scattered and anxious than it used to be. For that I am intensely grateful.
The 200-hour yoga teacher training involves seven monthly 3-day weekend all-day sessions over a period of 6 months starting in March. Taking this study to a deeper level with Yoga North after many years of consistent practice is exactly right for me now.
I am designing a leadership training program for women that will involve meditation and/or yoga as core practices. I really cannot overstate the benefit in terms of self-awareness, self-compassion, intuition and wisdom about our bodies and minds.
The application is going in today. I am committed!
Is there anything you have been considering that you are getting serious about in 2019?
Happy last day of 2018! Hope the next year brings you love and great new adventures!
This is an edited post from 2017. When I read it again before Christmas this year, it was a great reminder to me that so much of what we do is optional, not required. The expectations we have of ourselves and others is often a produce of societal pressure, particularly for women.
I am a little embarrassed to admit that on Christmas Eve (2017) I indulged in an “adult tantrum” about all that I had committed to do to prep for the holidays.
It wasn’t pretty. My hubby and I had been sick with colds during the week, so we were behind our usual holiday preparations, and I was struggling to get some things done at the last minute.
Upon reflection, I realized that the reason I was upset was not that I *HAD* to do anything for the holidays. Nobody was forcing me. I choose to celebrate the holidays in this way with my family, exchanging gifts and creating traditions especially for the children in the family.
When I reminded myself that I was doing the best I could under the circumstances, and that it is not my obligation to create a “perfect” holiday for anyone, I could finally relax and enjoy the time. When I was able to take a breath and realize that the purpose of the holiday is to pause, to reflect, and to enjoy time with loved ones, I came back to reality.
I realized that my inner dialogue was responsible for creating this idealized version of a holiday, in which I was falling far short. Also I know that I suffer from decision fatigue at times. It is part of coping with an a.d.d. brain, and it is part of my reality. During the holidays, with all of the gift giving choices to make, this fatigue tends to be magnified.
Our expectations during the holidays are what typically get in the way of our joy. In recent years, I have tried “toning down” my expectations, so that I can focus on what is really important. I still wish my family would refrain from gift-giving and do something charitable instead. But I also realize that giving gifts brings people a lot of joy. Some people really do enjoy selecting gifts for loved ones, and do not find it as stressful as I do.
I have explored the concept of emotional adulthood, and I realize it applies in these situations as well. We are responsible for our own feelings, and not the feelings of others. I cannot control whether others have a happy holiday. Since it is our thoughts that drive our feelings, having thoughts about “I have to…” or “I must…” tend to leave us feeling trapped, resentful, and Scroogey.
If we have thoughts instead of gratitude, for the opportunity to see family on the holiday, or for all the abundance we have enjoyed in the past year, we feel joyful. If others in my family rely on me to provide their happiness, either by my getting them a perfect gift, or following family traditions to the letter, that is their business. I am not responsible for their thoughts and expectations of the holiday. I certainly hope and wish they enjoy it, but that is their own responsibility.
Holidays can be stressful for many reasons. But when we understand emotional adulthood and take responsibility for our own feelings, we can minimize our stress. That is certainly something to celebrate!