Two years ago I began this blog on Labor Day weekend and I realize I have just passed that milestone with nearly 600 posts on this blog since I started in 2017.
To those of you who have read, supported, liked and commented: my sincere thanks! I continue to enjoy this journey with you. What a great privilege to have platforms like this where we can share our ideas and connect with others!
This practice of regular posting has been a joyful part of my weekly routine especially in a time of a lot of personal and career transition for me. I am considering how to evolve the blog as I embrace my new job and also near the end of my yoga teacher training.
I have a deep interest in workplace wellness, as a manager and a coach for employees. I will likely share on this topic regularly. Also, as I begin teaching yoga, which I intend to do in order to practice my new skills, I will likely share what I learn in that context. There is a lot of overlap here.
Thank you again for your support and engagement here! I wish you well and look forward to what the next year holds.
One of the discoveries most we make when we are learning new skills is that there is a BIG difference in learning new concepts versus practicing actual skills.
This became so clear to me when I began learning to meditate. There are an abundance of books resources and guided meditations out there. Really quite wonderful, actually. Check out Insight Timer if you want to start a meditation practice. I have used it for over 2 years and I love it.
But then there is the act and the art of practice. You do not learn new skills (like yoga or meditation) by reading about them. You must invest the time to practice, preferably daily, although 5 days a week would probably make a significant impact.
I like the cycle of learning as expressed in the four stages of competence model. Someone who knows nothing starts with unconscious incompetence. You do not know and you do not know WHAT you do not know.
Then you progress up through conscious incompetence. This is where I am now with teaching yoga. I KNOW what I do not know, but I must acquire the skills to act on my knowledge.
Eventually a learner passes through conscious competence, where they can practice the skill with their full and complete attention. I imagine this is where I will be by the end of my 6-month certification program. There are plenty of practice opportunities built into the curriculum, and I am happy for that!
The final stage is unconscious competence, when the learner has practiced so many times they can now execute their skill or practice with much less effort. Meditation is becoming like that for me, finally. I can drop in within a few minutes and feel fairly comfortable with it (which does not mean my mind is quiet) because I have practiced and primed my brain.
Are there new skills you are trying to learn this year? I find that this model gives me comfort, because the journey through these steps are naturally a progression that takes time. As our brain grows the neuronal connections it needs to make a practice seem “effortless” or at least smooth and well-practiced, we must stay committed along the way.
Three cheers for neuro-plasticity and our brain’s natural ability to grow, change and thrive when we give it the required nourishment along the way!
Lately I have had a stronger inclination to blog less often and work on a bigger project. I hesitate to write this here, because it feels a little raw and personal, but I have book aspirations. Some other part of me says, “don’t we all?” This community will understand, surely.
Ever since talking with a potential client about ghost-writing a book he wanted to work on, I started questioning what direction my writing will take me. I feel so fortunate to have worked for three different clients on a few writing and research projects in the past month.
I can now claim an identity as a “professional writer” in getting paid to actually do this thing I love. It felt good to know that this daily blog practice has led to a portfolio of writing samples, several of which may have been instrumental to landing the contracts.
And now I find myself with stirrings toward working on a book idea. Titles come to me sometimes while I allow for quiet reflection. I turn stories around in my head to figure out how they might resonate, if I can find something of value in them. I think I may owe it to myself to figure out whether I can write something bigger and more substantial.
When I considered the idea of working for a client for a fairly low dollar figure to write his book, my response was: my time would be more valuable working on my own book! Then I thought: why not? I do have to earn some income, and I hope to keep a pipeline of projects going. But why not set aside the time, blog a little less often, and really invest in that bigger project?
Big projects feel daunting to me. I remember how hard it was to complete my master’s thesis, and that was only 40 pages long. Something deep within me beckons me to work on it though, to set aside regular time to turn my attention there.
I feel I have been distracting myself with little things, afraid of getting lost in one big project. At the same time, some “gear” clicked into place when I heard myself ponder the question, and I felt excited by the idea. So I have not totally committed yet, but I am imagining ways I could make it happen. I am considering how to block off daily and weekly time chunks for tapping that inner well and seeing what comes of it.
Do I have the endurance for that longer game? We will see. It seems a pity not to make the attempt.
I am really proud to say I delivered on a commitment to myself that I had made back on June 8th, just before my vacation. My deadline to communicate was July 3rd, and I made it happen a day earlier.
I took a deep breath, scheduled the conversation yesterday with my boss in the morning and completed the conversation in the afternoon. I explained my plan to leave the company as of August 3rd and my intention to do independent consulting work after a break to pursue some family time and personal projects. He told me that he will always support any decision that I know is right for me, even if he does not like it (which of course, he did not, and he admitted that).
I had written the points of the conversation ahead of time, and was able to convey 3/4 of what I had drafted. For me it was not critical to say all of it, but I wanted to have my explanations “in the bag” so I would not be dissuaded. He could tell by my tone of voice and the fact that I titled the meeting “decision” that I had already made up my mind. He did not try to change it.
He did want to talk with me later this week so we could map out a communications plan, to be sure that team members understand this was my decision, not related to company decisions or the budget we were allocated. I understand his concern: last year, there were a couple of non-voluntary transitions (which resulted in other positions within the company for the two people affected). People get nervous if they perceive that their jobs are at risk.
For now I am breathing a sigh of relief. I am grateful for his response, and for all the opportunities I have been given here. But I also realize that this is a strong signal of my commitment to the next venture, and now I have declared (to the universe effectively) that I will make this work. No matter what.
Do you honor commitments you make to yourself? What do you do when you are scared by the commitment required to move yourself forward toward a goal?
My husband is an amazing man with a kind heart and a wicked sense of humor. Last year we were apart on Valentine’s Day because I was traveling to Peru for work. Actually about half the past few years we are apart, because I tend to travel in February. This year I managed to postpone my trip until Feb 19-24 so I could be home on Valentine’s Day.
While I was headed to dinner with my work associates, I happened to check the email on my phone and he had sent me a series of 7 messages called “7 reasons why I love you.” We had been together nearly 7 years, and it brought tears to my eyes to read these beautiful messages.
Hubby typically expresses his love through acts of service. If any of you know Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages” you know that people tend to express their love in particular ways. I tend to be in the “words of affirmation” camp, and we both express love through physical touch as well. But this surprised and pleased me so much, when he expressed his love for me in my love language.
This is the first year we are celebrating Valentine’s Day as a married couple. He surprised me by having some luscious chocolate dipped strawberries and a dozen red roses delivered to me yesterday. He has always been so thoughtful and kind. He is terrific at picking out gifts I will enjoy, and he is generous with his time and talent to our families in so many ways.
Last February when we set our wedding date and began planning for the big event, it was a big breakthrough for me. I had been processing some of my old baggage about marriage in therapy, which is something I highly recommend when necessary.
But one day it was like a switch flipped in my brain. I realized what a great privilege and gift I had been given: this man loves me, despite my flaws and imperfections. He wants to commit to working through our struggles and being with me for the rest of my life. Sometimes I’m not even sure *I* have the patience to be with myself to work on my own neuroses. If I miss the boat on accepting his love, and giving it freely in return, I will miss the universe’ invitation to really grow in our relationship and develop spiritually.
So today I want to express gratitude for my favorite guy in the world. He is a great partner and is patient with me and with my struggles. I am so honored to call him my husband and I am so happy we get to be together.
I hope you have someone in your life that you love, and that someone that loves you. Tell them how much you love them. Being loved and accepted begins with yourself of course, but it is such a sweet bonus when you find someone who loves you for you. What an amazing and delightful miracle.
I am about to embark on a 6-month coaching engagement with the Handel Group. There is quite a bit of homework due before the first session which is next Wednesday, and I am both excited and a little scared.
My coach assures me this is a good place to be. We are going to get truthful about some areas in my life where I want to make change, and it will require a commitment to doing the work, and taking action. I will be writing up a biography and evaluating 12 areas of my life, and also dreaming big about where I want things to be.
When I talked with my husband about this endeavor, I explained what it was, and why I wanted to commit some resources to it. I told him that I believe this can get me “unstuck” about where I am now, and that it is great timing because of the changes I plan to make in the next 6 months career-wise. He was understanding, and he said he thought it would be a good use of time and money, but only if I am “all in.”
As someone who likes to do a lot of personal development reading, experiments, habit change and self-help types of efforts, this is my jam. The challenge can come when I am pursuing a few too many different types of efforts, and dabbling a little in each. Then my efforts get diluted over a number of challenges, and no one effort gets real traction.
I recognize that my a.d.d. can contribute to this tendency to bounce around, doing a little of this, a little of that, but never fully committing to one or two BIG projects, or BIG change efforts. Why is this? I am trying to be honest with myself about why I find that hard, but also want to give myself the challenge of being ALL IN with this one.
One of my fears that I have had since being young is that of being bored. I was the kid who *always* had a book on hand, just in case I was stuck somewhere, having to wait and having nothing to do. Whether it was long road trips with the family, or having to spend time in a waiting room, I never wanted to feel like I had nothing to do.
In fact I almost never leave the house without a journal to write in or a book to read, in case I am caught in a place where I will have time with nothing to do. Now that I meditate every day, I do not worry as much about having nothing to do. In fact, I look for opportunities to practice mindfulness, in airports, in grocery stores (though that one is still harder for me).
But I still like to “toggle” in my life, between several different projects, in case I get stuck in one of them and then can switch to another one. That in itself is not bad. In fact, I think it is one reason I have thrived in my current department: we are always juggling a lot of different projects, and while it would overwhelm most people, I enjoyed it for many years, knowing I was sure never to get bored.
But there is a kind of Deep Work (Cal Newport writes about this) that I am missing right now in my work and life. When I have so many different “windows” open, like a computer running a lot of different applications at once, it exhausts me after a while. Sure, I never get bored. There is always something new coming my way. But it seems I sometimes use that to distract me from bigger, more important goals that deserve deeper and more consistent focus.
Do you ever struggle with that problem?
I think this tendency may be endemic to the distraction-filled lives we live today. With technology providing these many gateways to rich content: books, classes, podcasts, blogs, social media sites, YouTube videos and the like, we have a plethora of choices.
Some of it can be nourishing for the brain and the psyche, and I love learning. But that can be a distraction from practicing skills, and really truly embracing change efforts in our lives. I recognize that I am sometimes so intent to fill my brain with concepts, that I do not always put things into practice. At least as a clinical researcher, I have a skeptical eye about claims in books. I tend not to believe things unless I have tried them, or I have some good data to back up what the author claims.
So this time around, I am going all in on this coaching process. The investment is not insignificant, but it fits into my budget. I commit to doing the homework, and maybe even to share some of what I learn on this blog. At the very least, it will help me figure out my next move career-wise. But I think it has the potential to change and improve many other areas of my life also. I am ALL IN.