Abby Wambach’s new book, Wolfpack, is short but full of actionable advice. She illustrates with stories from her own experience, and she unapologetically makes the case for a sisterhood of women supporting each other.
I have two favorite chapters. From Chapter Three: Lead from the Bench:
Old Rule: Wait for permission to lead.
New Rule: Lead now – from wherever you are
In Chapter Seven: Bring it All, she tells us:
Old Rule: Lead with dominance. Create Followers.
New Rule: Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders.
Yes. Leaders all around us. People who are awake, aware, conscious and engaged in what is meaningful to them.
I look forward to new models of leadership in the world, more inclusive and supportive than the models of the past. We are ready for a fresh approach. The old way we have followed results in stress, burnout, environmental distress and war.
We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created those problems. Instead, we must rally the Pack toward our shared destiny. Amen, Abby!
Much of the literature on happiness and habits refers to building routines that work for us and support us every day toward achieving our goals. I like to have a daily routine, especially in the morning.
The grounding and centering I achieve through regular routines of meditation and journal writing in the morning seems to have a lasting effect on my mood and overall happiness. My weekly “writing days” when I will post to WordPress have built up trust in my ability to create pieces on a consistent basis.
Every Sunday since October 2017 I have posted a haiku. This past weekend, I was at a 3-day yoga teacher training weekend Friday through Sunday. For 9-10 hours a day, we did yoga practices, learned new things, and explored many facets of yoga. It was amazing, and it was also physically and emotionally taxing.
On Saturday evening, I was pretty wiped out. The longest of the 3 days, it began at 8 and ended at 6. With 20 other students, a lot of dyad work, and a couple of teachers working with us, it was a LOT of people interaction. It pushed my capacity to the limit, and rather than writing haiku when I came home, I was wrung out to the point of exhaustion.
After I got home for the day, a tiny part of me said: “You still have not written your Sunday haiku yet; you can’t go to bed yet.” But the wiser higher mind said: “Turning on the computer and risking your quality of sleep is not a good idea. Get some rest.”
And thus, a streak which had continued for ~75 weeks was broken. While I felt a little sad about it, I also felt freed by it at the same time. It was a habit I had built up that gave me joy and practice at the art of haiku. It served me well for that time period. And now I am moving to a new phase of my life that requires a focus on different things, at least through my certification in September.
While I actually did think of a haiku on Sunday morning, during my savasana meditation at the end of yoga practice, I had no access to a computer. So it lived only in my mind. I was grateful to generate it for myself, even if it was not shared that time around.
Long live your streaks! And when they no longer serve you, let them go gracefully and with compassion for any inner compulsion you may have. This is freedom.
This Sunday I got an itch to go for a run. It was at a time when I noticed myself going to the cupboard, believing I wanted to eat something.
In reality, I was not hungry. I was avoiding the task of writing up my ice breaker speech for my Toastmasters meeting scheduled for this Tuesday. Since I have developed a mindfulness practice when it comes to eating (and practicing for 3+ years) I realize this usually means one of a few things:
On that day, I felt a bit unfocused – I was trying to figure out how to begin the speech, and I wanted to start with a story about my Grandmother. Then I started wondering how much I want to reveal about myself.
In reality, I want to communicate a bit about myself that helps the group connect with me. And because I’m human, I want them to like me. Sheesh, that’s a bit hard to admit. I like to say that I’m losing my ability to care about what other people think. On an ideal day, that’s probably true.
But because human beings are wired for belonging (similar to the way we are wired for story), I had to take some deep breaths and admit to myself that it is where those uncomfortable feelings originated. The beautiful and true fact is that we are not control over whether others like us. Even if we want to control that, the emotions they have are largely based on the thoughts and beliefs in their own heads.
So, remembering that, and realizing I’d been stationary all morning, and that fresh air and sunshine always seem to clarify my thinking, I started looking for my running shoes. Despite my efforts, and a fairly clean and de-cluttered home, they were nowhere to be found. I texted my husband to ask if he had seen them. Nope. He recommended I borrow his shoes, and maybe we could shop for new shoes next week.
I had put a lot of miles on those shoes, and my knees had been feeling that I might need a new pair. But I’ve been trying to be frugal these days, until my income is a bit more predictable (freelancers of the world, rejoice!). Then I realized that the clarity, focus and stress-relief I get from running (or yoga or dancing) are not optional. They are part of the mental health regimen that has kept me sane for decades.
Of course, they are not the only thing that has helped. Therapy, good dietary choices (more healthy fat – lovely!) and good sleep hygiene also receive high marks for getting me through challenging times. But getting out for some fresh air, a walk or run and sunshine? Priceless.
I used to say that a good pair of running shoes kept me from taking negative feelings out on others. They still help, for sure. As long as I am not running a “punishing” number of miles as I did that time I trained for a marathon (one and done), it is a lovely stress reliever.
Now, let’s see if I can get that speech written or at least outlined. To hold myself accountable, I will need to report back in my next blog on Thursday…
I will be starting my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT 200-hour) certification program this Friday. I am brimming with excitement and the slight trepidation that always seems to come from beginning a new endeavor. I am curious about the following:
What will this experience be like?
What kinds of students will participate? Will I like them? Maybe I’ll find some kindred spirits among them?
How intense will the personal practices be?
Since we are asked to bring food for our potluck dinner on Friday night, and I am not much of a cook, I wonder: will people like the salmon salad I intend to bring as my contribution? (How embarrassing that this detail was one factor that almost made me decide not to sign up for the program!)
I have always loved school and learning experiences, so most of my doubts are not about the nature or challenges of learning the material. I am a little concerned that there are three 9-hour days in a row of time I will be spending with 15 other students and three teachers. From the schedule it appears there are not many breaks or opportunities for “solitude” or escape during that time – all meals appear to be group-wide.
So this introvert is going to need to find respite in other ways, perhaps bringing my journal along so that if we do have breaks, I can withdraw slightly. Not having the need to socialize and interact constantly with people can be part of building a “restorative niche” as Susan Cain recommends.
The other thing I have already done for myself is make sure to have solitude scheduled for a substantial portion of the day before training and the day after it, in order to reset my equilibrium. There, my planning is done. Now I feel prepared for this new journey! Wish me luck!
As I prepare to teach a 4-week learning circle entitled “Nurturing Your Feminine Leadership Journey” I realize that I have done what I can. Now it is time to surrender the results, and become (and remain) present with the participants.
I may have just a couple of students, but I am committed to making the course valuable and holding the space for growth. So I will “preach what I practice” and stay present, learn and discover what the students need most, and respond accordingly.
As some point in the process, we have done what we can. We only control how we prepare, how we show up, and our attitude. We do not control the result, so at this point, it is best to surrender it and enjoy the experience.
Have a great week, friends!