Clean slate, blank canvas

This morning I was contemplating joyfully and with some curiosity the blank canvas that is the next chapter of my work life. It feels like a fresh start, that opportunity to re-invent my daily rituals, hone my purpose, and choose the colors for the palette.

blank canvas.JPG
Photo credit link

Though I am not a visual artist, and only dabble with colors and fun materials now and then, I can appreciate that excitement of a blank canvas. As a writer, it is a little like the blank page, that space of infinite possibility before the words start spilling out. I face it with excitement, and a little unknowing. Where will this go? What am I trying to say?

Since I generally write to understand any new concept, or even myself, there is always an air of mystery about it. As a blogger, I have learned to embrace the empty page as a sacred space where I am invited to create.  It is our greatest privilege as humans, our creative energy, and I think it is where we meet our divinity.

I find that I want to experiment a bit, not to rush into splashing color onto the page, but to spend some time preparing the colors, feeling what wants to emerge. I greatly appreciated my solitude yesterday and the ability to respect the rhythm of my body, working and resting in a ratio that felt right. My coach and I decided on some “homework” for the next week, and I was able to accomplish the items on my list.

If I were an artist, I would run my hands along the blank canvas, noting its texture and honoring this gift. I shall have to resist a trip to the art store to do this, but maybe it is time to get out my colors and sketch pad.

Do you have a ritual for honoring the “blank canvas” times in your life?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Sunday blues as habit

I had a weird feeling as I was doing my chores on Sunday, getting ready for the upcoming week. My husband has been on vacation with me for the past 3 weeks of my sabbatical and he has to head back to work tomorrow. It was that “Sunday blues” feeling…

Sunday near Prescott
No excuse for the blues: we had a lovely motorcycle ride out to Prescott, Wisconsin and beyond. Gorgeous day to be outside.

But then when I remembered I am not going back to the corporate job I had before, I had a sudden burst of happiness and relief. This was quickly followed by the realization that I do not have an income right now, so will begin work in earnest to conjure up freelance consulting projects.

I will work from home and finish revising a piece for I was asked to write for my alumni magazine. I will narrow down my focus and the “offer” for my consulting practice, attend a session with my coach, and schedule networking appointments. I will go to a Zumba/dance class for fun in the evening. I will de-clutter and map out my plan for the next couple months. I look forward to these activities, so the Sunday blues is not necessary. That feeling is simply a habit, not actual dread for the week (as I used to experience so regularly, especially facing the hundreds of emails post-vacation).

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I know my former team will be meeting in Miami this week. I won’t be there, but I was initially involved in choosing the meeting date. I will miss them, but I am relieved not to attend the meeting. Is this feeling vicarious dread for the cross-functional meetings they will have to endure (that I found so painful and pointless)?

Perhaps. That is some weird pathological empathy, methinks. Maybe I will explore this with my coach.

My husband suggested my blues may be related to the uncertainty of not knowing what is next. I agree. I will need to make my own decisions about where to focus and what to prioritize. While I also did this before, it was often more a function of which department was most “on fire” rather than what was truly most important.

This week is mine. I get to define how I will spend it, as we all do. I will choose how to make the most of it. This new beginning is a time of joy, gratitude and opportunity. I will overcome those habitual responses, and embrace my freedom.

Do you ever sing the Sunday blues? Are there ways you can change your tune? 

 

 

Wellness Wednesday – Remember your resilience

This Wednesday as I travel home from LHT to MSP, I want to share an idea for a way to think when times get tough or you face difficulties. Of course, whenever I write about these themes, they are reminders for when my future self encounters a problem as well.

One thing I have observed in life and I recently remembered during my travels is that most mistakes are “recoverable”. One must remain flexible in many circumstances when conditions are beyond our control. International travel requires a certain level of planning and preparation, especially to do it safely and without too many hassles.

But hassles, delays, and bumps along the way are to be expected. This is really what life is too, traveling along our paths, hoping and planning for the best. But it is these bumps, these unexpected curves and bends in our paths, the tight spaces and the cramped tube rides that are reality. By avoiding these things, we avoid the fullness of life. By embracing reality, both the joys of amazing vistas and the bumps along the path, we are better served. We get less upset when things do not always work perfectly.

Humans are equipped with the ability to adapt to circumstances, to solve problems and figure out solutions. This is the key to our resilience. We do this automatically, and often choose similar solutions to “old” problems. Every now and then we may try something new, and get a new result. Some routines we develop over time (like meditation, reflection, journaling, etc) may help us learn lessons more easily or more mindfully.

Scottish Highlands photo from Clem
Photo by husband of mexi minnesotana, taken September 14, 2018

By thinking through a path we took at one point, and questioning how we might do it differently now, or maybe acknowledging an important lesson learned, we can make peace with that choice. Of course, I realize this is a very deliberate practice, to make peace with our decisions rather than beat ourselves up over a mistake. But there is no point in regret.

Every move forward (or back, truly) in our lives teaches us something. Sometimes we learn we do not want to repeat that move. Other times we meet a new person who becomes a friend. Or we find out someone we thought was our friend really did not share our values. This is all good information. We learn along the way.

It is important to remember our resilience. Sometimes we get caught in feeling sorry for ourselves about an event, or a bad experience. It is okay to experience whatever emotion comes up, maybe even write about it or talk with a friend if needed. But then we can move on, knowing that our resilient spirit will keep moving us forward, no matter the circumstances.

Cheers & happy journeys,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

 

Time zone and life zone changes

Hello Friends!

Wishing you the very best as folks head back to school and we ease into the fall season. I read Libre Paley‘s post this weekend on The Kinder September and it got me to think about my approach to this change in season and that “September feeling” that some of us have.

I have always loved September. The crispness in the air, the waning of the summer humidity and the new school supplies were always a fun part of a new adventure. In my youth there was a new school outfit, eagerly worn on the first day (even though the weather may have been too warm). We reunited with friends and classmates. And there were new things to be learned and studied! (Yes, I was a geek or nerd, pick your label.)

As I have become an adult, I recognize this pull to start a new thing in the Fall. Last year it was my marriage and this blog. There are cycles to life, and there are cycles in seasons. Respecting this and honoring the transitions that accompany the cycles is vital to our health and well-being.

In the Fall, I try to get a little extra rest as the seasons change. As the darkness arrives, I try to make time for a cup of hot tea when it feels cozy and fulfilling. I eat soups and hot foods in addition to my daily salad. I plan for time to connect with loved ones.

time zones
Photo credit link

This year I am taking a 2-week trip with my husband to the U.K. (England and Scotland) to celebrate our first year anniversary. Right after our wedding we spent a few days in Mexico, but it was not a long enough break. So we saved to get ready for this trip. Since September is “shoulder season” for vacation travel, it is not as expensive for flights and hotel reservations as peak season.

The 6-hour time shift will be a little mind shift outside our routine “life zone” and will allow for some time to connect mindfully. I love travel adventures, especially when my husband is with me. We always enjoy new experiences, and come away with stories, shared jokes and a slew of yummy photos.

He is the better photographer, so while I may not post daily during our trip, when I do post, it is likely to show off his photography. 🙂

Hope you enjoy your month of September, and if you are in a “life zone” change of your own, I want to read more about it!

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Walking the labyrinth

This Wednesday I had a morning appointment in Saint Paul, and I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.

labyrinth walk
Photo credit link – Meditate in a Labyrinth

Have you ever walked a labyrinth? I realize I should have taken a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.

I did not use the methodology described in the Wikihow page, since I found that later. I did use it as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and walking toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry too much about the acorns in my way, though I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path for the next person.

My intention was to reflect, and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears that come up. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional walk back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how I knew just a bit about meditation last time I was there, more than a decade ago, but walking through it had a sacred feeling.

labyrinth visual.JPG
Photo credit link – Fractal Enlightenment

As we traverse through life, our paths are not linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in circles, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.

Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.

Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are able to see the situation in a different way, and are ready to learn. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready for that lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.

This is why I appreciate the labyrinth and the symbolism of using it as a journey both inward and outward. We can incorporate our soul’s voice and also our “outer” experiences along the path. This integration ultimately leads toward wisdom.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Muscle memory

I have recently taken on some new challenges, started learning some new things.

  1. Dance! – I made a pledge to myself back in January, took a foundations class, and then I also followed on with another Zumba class. I will do more of this, especially now that my schedule will be more flexible for the next couple of months.
  2. Massage – My massage therapist gave me a 90-minute lesson on how to give a massage to my hubby. I’ve been wanting to learn, and to have a non-sexual way to connect through physical touch. I wanted to learn how to properly do this without giving myself carpal tunnel or hurting my back over the massage table.
  3. Motorcycling – I took an intro class to ‘Cycling and Scootering. I did a lot better than I thought for only a 4-hour class. I am now more motivated to study for my permit and take the longer “Basic Rider Course” sometime in August or September.

What do these three activities have in common? All of the teachers spoke of the practices as building up “muscle memory” over time in order to make certain parts automatic. While learning new skills, we often have to think and focus intensely. This is all new and our minds and bodies need to make the connections necessary to master the skills. Then they take practice, repetition and time in order to build up the muscle memory that allows for less conscious effort, a more fluid and easy feel.

muscle memory
Photo credit link – Snowmie (Stop Your Tricks)

I started considering the muscle memory that drives many of our daily habits. Have you ever gone out to do an errand and ended up driving somewhere automatically even though you did not consciously want to go there? Your mind was somewhere else, but your body knew where you usually go (work, the grocery store, etc).

I thought about the muscle memory of playing the flute (started in middle school) or the saxophone (started in high school). My teacher told me that it was a good thing I started on the flute and then moved to saxophone because the movements are more precise and delicate. Apparently it is more difficult to go the other way. Hours and hours of practice on the flute helped me “convert” the muscle memory of the similar fingerings on the saxophone.

When we embark on a new chapter in our lives, there is no muscle memory yet for how to do our daily work. We need to suspend judgement and be kind to ourselves while we are learning. All of our efforts are part of the feedback loop of mastery, even if they fail, even if we shift too quickly and cut the engine while not allowing enough throttle to create momentum.

There are ways to visualize and help to create muscle memory even more quickly. One motorcycle instructor told us that even practicing our hand and foot motions in the evening for 10 minutes while sitting in a chair watching t.v. could help us master the skill more quickly. The memory is formed not just in our muscles, but with the help of our brain, and this is what world-class athletes do before their routines.

As I visualize my next chapter, I associate feelings of ease and excitement. I see myself learning new things, and having my back, giving myself encouragement if I make mistakes. I build up these muscle memories and know that in time, the practice pays off, and the learning accumulates. Confidence increases, and satisfaction as well.

What kinds of muscle memory do you access regularly?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

The final countdown!

I woke up this morning with the song in my head by Europe: the Final Countdown!

For a video from YouTube:

the final countdown.JPG
Link to the YouTube video

I love the 80’s hair and the head-banging musicians. I had to re-read the lyrics of the song because I guess I really never knew them.

With only 5 days to go, I feel excited with a little nervous trepidation. There are a lot of things I want to complete this week, and yet I know I have time for what really matters. Anything that is forgotten or does not occur is probably not important.

I will make sure to have my contacts secured on my new phone/computer. I will have lunches with people and one dinner with a project team that is still developing a product that came from our Innovation Jam efforts. I will make sure to transfer any final information to my team that they might need in order to get things done.

I will clean out my desk and take home any personal items. I guess I will turn in my work laptop and phone, so probably good to have any personal things cleared off there as well.

Since this change has not happened overnight, and I have been intentional since March about readying my team for this eventuality (even while they did not know my specifc plan) I feel ready.

I slept well last night. I am ready for this. I will savor these last days with gratitude.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com