Monday, October 31, 2011

Freedom

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose..." and so Janice Joplin's song Me and Bobby McGee goes. I love it! Walking in nature yesterday I pondered this word freedom--actually I felt it! It was an aha moment born of a sunny crisp day of fall colors. At that point in time, I felt this sense of freedom. I could walk and be in my head, feeling unhampered by anything or anyone. I felt free. It was this feeling of owning my time and energy, this feeling of lightness, this feeling of intense oneness with myself, not dependent on what anyone thinks of me, how anyone views me or what anyone says about me. And of course, it is born of so much work on myself to get there. When you can detach and know that you are enough as you are, you feel free...free to be yourself.

What does freedom mean to you?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sttrrettchhhh

You wake up and your body elongates in a stretch, pulling each of the muscles out from your core, reaching beyond the space your body occupies. It feels good and limbering. Now imagine applying this concept to your life, stretching beyond your limits and your comfort zone to achieve something more, something greater. What does that feel like?

How can you apply these tips to stretching your life?
Stretching might mean doing a task you normally would not do, like walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself, or beginning a conversation. It might also mean pushing yourself to take action you’d never consider, standing your ground or asserting yourself. It might even mean taking an alternate route to a favorite place. Stretching means getting out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes I’m not even aware that I’m in a comfort zone until I contemplate stretching beyond it. It is that reaching outside of the realm of the known and the comfortable that leaves me questioning, second-guessing and sometimes stalling for time. What really helps in these instances is getting informed. Then I break the task down into small manageable steps, reaching out, and slowly stretching toward something greater, something I envision and then design. That stretch becomes self-growth where the possibilities are endless.

What does stretching beyond your comfort zone mean to you?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Eliminating the Shoulds

"I should do this” or “I should have done x."...Have you ever found yourself saying this? These are the dreaded SHOULDS. The SHOULDS are often based upon unrealistic expectations, as well as the perceived or explicitly communicated expectations of others. Although they may have a rightful place in our lives, usually this place is locked away in a closet somewhere along with its guilty-by-association partner, GUILT.

I’ve done it—shoulded myself into guilt: I should have spent more time...(helping, giving, doing for others). SHOULD and GUILT hang out together, lying in wait in our consciousness and pouncing on us quickly with an invisible whacking stick (yes, whacking, not walking). We beat ourselves up with it.

So next time you find yourself thinking about what you think you should have done, stop, listen and be gentle with yourself (You really should stop feeling guilty). Instead, tell yourself that next time you’ll do things differently. And you will. Now put that stick away and go out and do what you should be doing! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ouch!--Essential Self-Care

It happens yet again...I do for someone else what they can do for themselves, and it comes back and bites me. All I was trying to do was help! Sound familiar? Perhaps all too familiar! The last time this happened to me for what I told myself was indeed the LAST time, I found a brick and tied a pink ribbon around it. This brick now sits prominently on a table in my dining room as a reminder that a brick to the forehead really hurts.

While we may mean well by trying to do well, we may be taking on yet another help mission that stops us from taking care of ourselves and our own needs. I call it essential self-care. It's essential because if we put ourselves last, we are no good to anyone, least of all to ourselves. There will always be someone needing something from us. Certainly no one is an island; we must to work together and help each other. But there are indeed times when we must butt out, step back and allow the other person to take care of their business while we take care of our own.

Speaking of taking care, now I must go swallow a pill for that headache caused by one too many bricks to the forehead...

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Color of Success

What is success? How do you know you have attained it--personally or professionally? If you had to assign success a color, what color might you choose? You see, there are as many definitions of success as there are individuals. And it all depends on your priorities. A passing grade in a course is one person's success while achieving an A+ is another's. It's all relative. While you might be prone to thinking of success in terms of it's likely polar opposite--failure--stretch a little. See success as varying shades of a color. See it in terms of the learnings from some of the mistakes we must make along the way.

I gave this some thought and came up with my definition: "Completing a task to the best of my abilities, based on my commitment to a goal, and then reflecting upon what I have learned and how I will apply that learning in the future." Then I thought about it some more and distilled it to: "Success is achieving my goals" even if it takes longer because I have encountered some bumps along the road.

The color of my success would be yellow, a bright sunny yellow representing that feeling of sheer happiness resulting from my achievement. In fact, I think of a yellow brick road, paved with good intentions, and leading to what I love. For me, so long as the intentions are good, then so are the mistakes made along the way. This is how we learn.

When creating your definition of success, keep it all about you. You cannot borrow from someone else when fashioning your success statement. While imitation is the highest form of flattery, you must define success in terms of your own life and goals. Give it a color that reflects your passion. Go ahead...define and color your success. I'd love to hear about it.