Showing up as me

Do you ever feel like you are playing a role when you show up for an interview?

You know, there is a “song and dance” routine and you are expected to go through certain motions. You know the answers you are expected to give. You have been on the other side of the interview table, perhaps, on a selection committee a few times. And yet, you are unable to play the game in the way that you did before.

Salt and pepper hair
This photo was taken a few weeks ago before I covered some gray. Okay, full disclosure: I showed up as me with a little root touch up. And I’m unapologetic about that too! 

I think being 2 months shy of 45 has given me certain perspective on what I value. It has change the way I choose to show up these days. I no longer have a need to put on a “front” when I talk with people, at least beyond some social graces.

There’s a comfort level in my body, within being in my own skin, showing up as me,  unapologetic and real. It is freeing. I have gained experience in many challenging situations in the past couple decades. I’ve made lots of mistakes. And I’ve learned valuable lessons along the way. I’ve had success in a lot of areas, and I can own that success, and not be sheepish about claiming those victories.

I give tremendous credit to years of yoga and the past year of dance classes. Trying new things, and risking appearing foolish as a beginner has given me more confidence in trying other new things. I know that new moves (whether they are dance routines or yoga poses) can be learned and practiced, and that skills are built over time and with regular commitment.

I found out on Wednesday (after my Tuesday interview) that I will be asked for the third (and presumably final) interview for a position that excites me. I am getting better at showing up as me, rather than some image of who I think I am supposed to be. Perhaps that is ultimately the work of our lives, knowing ourselves and honoring those calls to grow.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

What gets in the way?

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?

Yup.

What gets in the way of showing loveThat’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.

Very uncool.

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.

Happy Valentine’s Day, beloved readers.

cristy@meximinnesota.com

Thought cascades

I found myself with a little extra time yesterday between commitments. I took advantage of the time to meditate for a bit. It got me wondering about “thought cascades” and the way in which our minds work.

Thoughts appear during meditation, like bubbles. Jon Kabat-Zinn called them in one of his meditations “secretions of the mind.” They just float or bubble up. We don’t need to get rid of them or feel frustrated that they keep coming. We just need to notice them.

One thought leads to another…and another…and another. Really the mind can be quite tedious when we observe it.  “Why can’t it take a damn rest?” I wonder, but this is typically when I am trying to get to sleep. I am a lot more compassionate with myself during my daytime meditations, apparently.

thought cascades.JPG
Photo credit link

Thought cascades tend to produce certain emotional states as well. If we find ourselves ruminating on a problem, or a stressful situation, we bring ourselves back to the breath and the sensations in our bodies. I often notice my shoulders have tightened up or my jaw is clenched. I did not used to notice that. It took pairing yoga with meditation for me to understand it. 

On Monday I had an interview for a new contract that excites me. I tried to notice my thought cascades during the interview and afterward. I realized my mind creates a trail of expectations, assumptions and details, making up stories freely as it tumbles along. At least I know from Dr. Brené Brown’s work that this is perfectly normal. In fact, our brains reward us with dopamine as soon as we “tell” an internal story, whether or not it is actually true.

This is why meditation has become such an important daily practice for me. For over two years, I have spent at least 5 minutes a day on this practice. Actually for the past year, it was much more than that, but I started small to make it do-able.

Thought cascades for someone with particular neuro-diverse conditions can be especially problematic. Most people seem to have “brakes” for ruminative thought loops. Not everyone’s neuro-chemistry supports this easy compartmentalization. What is amazing is that focus can be built and nurtured, even for people like me! Meditation is a tool for doing that.

Now the cascades are quiet and flowing. Sometimes they are turbulent and rushing. Every time I bring myself back INTO my body, feel the aliveness in my hands, my feet or my heart, thoughts slow down and the volume descends. There is no greater gift than being able to dial it all down when needed.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Embody the leader within you

So this is really happening! In less than 3 weeks! I am so excited about this opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite yoga teachers on this first-time event! This feels like soul work to me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Women in the Twin Cities: I would love it if you can join us.

embody the leader

Start off your 2019 right by putting yourself on your priority list with this opportunity, and what will be an awesome group of women.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Letter to my younger self

After my period of organizing journals yesterday, I opted to read through some few early ones. I was only 18 then, just graduated from high school and readying myself for college. I noticed a few things that made me sad for the young woman I was then.

You-are-beautiful.jpg
Poster found in Appleby Hall at the University of Minnesota while I was exploring campus and doing research.

I had such intense body hatred and frequently chided myself about my weight. I was convinced that no guy would ever want me because I was too fat (even though I was just a few pounds overweight). I was hard on myself about academics and I was very achievement-oriented. I did not cut myself a lot of slack. I seemed to feel lonely and disconnected a lot, while I also craved and valued alone-time.

I longed to comfort that earlier version of myself, the one who worried so much, and felt I somehow never measured up or fit in. I wanted to send her some love. So I wrote a little note that I stuck into the last page of the journal:

Dear Cristy (of times past),

You are lovely the way you are. No need to beat yourself up so much. You will find love someday and more compassion and appreciation for yourself. You will be just fine, and your life will turn out to be more exciting than you can imagine. Try to worry less and enjoy yourself more. Cut yourself some slack. You deserve it. 

Love Cristy (the older and wiser one)

***

It occurred to me that the older version of myself, perhaps 5 or 10 years or more into the future might give the me that same advice. As I continue to practice compassion and extend forgiveness toward myself and others, the burdens of life lighten. As I have begun to know myself better and appreciate the light and the dark, I continue to be curious about what I will discover.

We are always moving forward in life. I do not cling to the past. But now and then, reflecting on those lessons I have learned gives me appreciation for the person I am today. If you were to write a letter to your younger self, what advice would you give? What would your future self tell you?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

Energy depletion or renewal

On Wednesday I had an interview for a technology company that I like, but in a retail environment that would be a different experiences for me. On paper, it seemed very exciting. I liked considering the advantages of this part-time opportunity. I believed it would allow me to ramp up my other efforts a little more mindfully and without rushing.

The interview went well, and I even advanced to the next round with a higher leader in the organization. But as I was considering the nature of the work environment, and my preference for adequate personal space and solitude in every day, my body felt a noticeable depletion of energy rather than excitement.

low energy warning
Photo credit link

I’d been excited the day before about getting called so quickly for the in-person interview after the phone interview. I am eager to learn the technology, and to help people use it better, the original reason I pursued the position. Also, they were seeking bilingual Spanish speakers and it would be an opportunity to keep my skills sharp. But the thought of an 8-hour shift “out in the open” on a retail floor made me feel drained and tired.

That is okay. I would not necessarily have been able to visualize and imagine myself in the setting to consider whether it is a fit without actually being there and observing. My body is giving me signals to help me figure out the next steps for myself. Typically when I pay attention to my energy levels, and move in the direction where the energy lifts rather than falls, I am happier.

I thought that learning and practicing sales and marketing techniques would be good for my own business. But there are other ways to do this, and I will not give up on that idea.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com