Do you ever feel like you’ve got a little bit of greatness bottled up inside of you? Maybe it’s a lot of greatness. And every once in a while you see or hear something or interact with someone that opens the blinds and shines a light on who you know you could be if you would just be brave and take a step out into the light. That maybe, just maybe–if you were willing to give voice to that deep-seeded calling you feel stirring within you when you dare let a little light shine on it–you would be unstoppable.
But instead you hold your dreams and wishes close. So close that there are days when you don’t dare let even yourself in on the secret because giving your hopes and dreams a voice and then not accomplishing them feels as though it would be more devastating then letting them drown slowly in a lake of fear, doubt and procrastination.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve let the fear and doubt rule the roost–for a really long time. I don’t know about you, but lately it seems like someone’s been opening the blinds and shining that light into my soul a whole lot more. So much that I can’t ignore it anymore.
Change is on the horizon. I can feel it. I am excited about it. I am willing to admit what I want and what I feel called to do. I am ready to embrace the fear I have of failure, ridicule, and just plain being wrong and to fall flat on my face if that is what it takes. Writing here more frequently is one of the first steps. Stay tuned.
I’ve been thinking a lot the past few months about focus. I’m a firm believer that the things we focus on are the things we bring more of into ur lives.
It can be hard to keep our focus positive. I don’t know about you, but I have enough negative circling about me that I don’t want to give it any more power by focusing on it.
As someone who likes to look at life through the lens of her camera, focus is a word that I can really identify with. When making a picture, focus is key to getting the final image I desire. When I was first learning on my old film camera, I would often be excited so see the developed print of an image only to find that while I had been focused on a particular element in the picture, the autofocus setting on my camera was actually focused on a completely different element causing the final product to be disappointing.
Have the experiences from your past caused you to have an internal autofocus that leads to outcomes in your life that are less than desirable and disappointing? Do you find yourself focusing more on what is missing from your life than the bounty with which you have been blessed? Are you focused more on fear or avoiding uncertainty than you are on creating awesome in your life? Are you focused more on protecting your feelings and playing it “safe” than you are on love and kindness and reaching out to others?
These are all questions that I’m trying to ask myself whenever appropriate circumstances arise. I’ve been having some fun creating mini vision boards for myself using the analogy of focusing a camera to focus my thought ms and desires. I’ve done this in a way that looks a bit to me like the focus of a camera and I’ve made several of gear for different areas of my life. I find it very useful.
Here is one I created to hep me refocus on the good things to come out of my new eating/health lifestyle, especially when things seem difficult and I find myself thinking about how hard it is rather than how much good I get from it.
I have a tendency to get caught up in things that are stressful–like work issues–and I lose my focus on the person I really want to be. Here is one I made as a reminder for me this week to try to do all things with love and to stay focused on what I want and not my circumstance.
What strategies do you employ to keep your focus?
It’s February. Finally, January, with all of its hype and promise of a new year and a new you, has exited stage left taking with it both the wide-eyed promise of grandiose change and the head-hanging shame of early defeat. February is where the rubber really meets the road and we find out if we are in it (it being all of those grand resolutions) for the long-haul or if it’s really just back to the old boring business as usual of SS/DD (same stuff, different day).
I’m here to say that SS/DD may be the way to go in order to actually reach the desired outcome of those goals you set in January. There is one caveat, though. Your February SS/DD can’t be the same as your December SS/DD.
All too often, we get caught up in the grand gestures and wide-swept habit changes that come along with New Year’s resolutions. We think we have to change everything, or at the very least we have to make radical changes to our daily habits in order to achieve our goals.
My experience is that the grand, sweeping changes fade quickly and I return to those things that are easy and comfortable. The trick is in making reasonable, manageable changes to something that I do every day that will bring me closer to my goal.
For instance, January’s focus has been on movement. I set a goal early in the month to make daily movement early in the day a part of my new norm. Initially, I got all fired up and thought, “I should do this 3x per day.” And, “I should add weight to this routine to make it harder.” Or ” I should also go to boot camp everyday in addition to this workout.” But that is something old T would do–the T who would set herself up for burn-out, failure and self-flagellation. Sure, some days I would also go to Zumba or another class at the gym. But can I tell you how much better it was for me in every way to set a simple, manageable goal and actually succeed? It was so much better.! And now my SS/DD includes this new improved habit.
I’ve heard it said that you won’t change your life until you change something you do everyday. I would add that the change doesn’t need to be grand or New Year’s resolution worthy. It just has to be meaningful and consistent.
Have you made any changes to your SS/DD?
This is a question I have been asking myself all afternoon. In reality, it is something that has been on my mind for several weeks, but was brought to conscious, deliberate consideration this afternoon while I was listening to some old episodes of the Dave Ramsey Show.
In the segment that caught my attention, Dave was talking about the question that he gets most from reporters, “What is the dumbest thing people do with their money?”. He said, it isn’t budgeting, credit cards, etc. The biggest problem is that people just don’t pay attention to their money, their finances, and their debt. They don’t track it.
Then he made the statement that struck something in me….the thing that I needed to hear….the thing that I can apply not only to my finances, but to any area of my life. He said, “You are successful with the things you pay attention to.”
It really got me thinking. I have a lot of areas in my life that I really want to make some changes to. I have other areas of my life where I totally kick butt. I’m good at my job. I’ve consider myself successful at work. I have a good work ethic. I work my butt off. I’m really invested in building my team up and making sure that they have the things that they need in order to succeed at their jobs and to progress and be promoted—being a good mentor—a skill that I really want to develop. When things have gotten crazy at work or I’ve had struggles, I’ve been able to prioritize it above other things. I work extra hours. I miss events with my friends and family. It comes first.
As I think about the other areas of my life where I’ve been able to overcome a struggle or develop expertise at something, I’ve been able to prioritize those things. I once worked really hard to get myself out of debt. It was my priority. I quit using credit. I was aware of and tracked every penny that I spent. I didn’t just think about it at the first of the month when the paycheck came in, or at the end of the month when I was worried about not having enough to cover my expenses. I tracked my activity with money daily. When things came up with friends or family that had an expense associated with it, I prioritized my desire and plan to be debt free over most of those activities.
In the past when I have done well with weight loss, fitness and health, I was able to prioritize exercise above many other things. I weighed and tracked everything I ate. I sought out leisure time activities that furthered my goals and desires to achieve a certain goal. I paid attention to those things that I was doing that would positively or negatively impact my ability to achieve that goal and I prioritized my time, money, and efforts towards my intended outcomes.
Now I’m thinking about other related things, like, why did I decide to prioritize one thing over another? What paradigms or stories have I created about my life, my abilities, and my mission that have led me to prioritize one thing over another? Can I really find a way to prioritize everything that I want in life? How do I learn to set the appropriate boundaries so that I can have a happy life and do good with what and who I am? In most cases in my past, I’ve been able to prioritize long enough to meet an initial goal, but then have not held steady or continued to progress. I meet the goal and then I drop the priorities. What steps do I need to make in order to maintain my results or continue moving forward? I know that everything can’t be a priority. How do I choose? What things am I paying attention to that I shouldn’t? Am I being successful at things I don’t want to be because I pay attention to the wrong things?
There is a lot to consider, but I’m feeling hopeful about getting some traction on the things I want in life.
With a title like that you may assume that this post will address weight loss and weight gain. That is only one tiny part of what I anticipate sharing here.
Every time I move I learn a little bit about myself. The overarching lesson of the current move is that I seem to shrink or expand to fit my circumstances. I’ve lived in all sorts of situations, from sharing a bedroom in an apartment with four other women to the situation that I just left—2500 square feet, 5-bedroom, 3 full bath, 2 car garage kind of thing—all to myself.
When I moved into that large house I came from a modest 3-bedroom 1 bathroom home that was less than 1100 square feet. In that home I had to be judicious about how large my furniture was, how many dishes I had and how much storage was available. When I first moved into the large home, I did it with the intent of having a roommate. It didn’t work out. Gratefully, my friend that lived there for a few months with me is still my friend. It was a difficult time for both of us and I’m so grateful that we made it through with our friendship intact.
Here I sat with way more home than I needed and a bunch of empty rooms. What do I do? I hit the classifieds and fill up all of those rooms. I also decide, even though I’ve never done it before, that I’m going to refinish furniture, so I have way more side tables than a home twice this size should have. My closet slowly but surely gets more occupants and before you know it, I am a single gal in a 5-bedroom home that appears to be inhabited by at least 5 people.
As I’ve been culling my things in preparation to make this move it occurred to me that I tend to expand into whatever size home I have available. Likewise I will shrink to fit my new living conditions. Prior to moving I sold my piano, gave away two couches and a day bed and took about 4 loads of items that I don’t use on a regular basis to the local thrift store. Even with all of those things leaving my possession, I still find myself looking around my new apartment and wondering how I ever thought I would fit all of these things in here and why on earth I need them. Many of these things are just that—things—that I don’t use often, that don’t add to my life like they should for the amount of space and anxiety that they occupy. I will be making a few more trips to the thrift store as I unpack and reassess what it is that I really need, want and love.
Similarly, I find that I often shrink or expand to fit the clothes that I have in my closet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought an article of clothing and thought it was too big or didn’t fit quite right, only to try it on in 6 months to find that it fits perfectly. My weight and waistline shrink or expand along with the mindset and the level of discipline (room) I give them.
I think this applies to so many things in my life. The love in my life shrinks or expands in conjunctions with how open minded and how open hearted I am. This shrinks or expands the number of friends and relationships that I have in my life. My bank account shrinks or expands similarly—based on how much attention I pay to what I do with what I have and the level of gratitude I have, and along with my levels of generosity.
What is the lesson in all of this? I believe it is that I need to be very intentional in setting up the different areas of my life so that I can shrink or expand in a way that will allow me to be my best self. Too much of my past life has been left to chance–with me either shrinking or expanding in ways that leave me tired, frustrated, confused and living a life that is far removed from what I know could be my best life.
Deep thoughts these days people! Deep thoughts!
Here’s to shrinking or expanding in the ways that bring out the best in us, allow us to be grateful and generous and fill us with all of the love and confidence we need to be well, happy and living our best lives!
I’m sitting on the floor in the master suite of my almost empty home. A few possessions have lingered here in this space….an errant sock, a box of towels, a menagerie of hangers. The contents of both the silverware drawer and the junk drawer are neatly packed and awaiting their shuttle to my new apartment from the kitchen counter top. Most of my dirty laundry is still hanging out in the hamper of the master closet and all of my cleaning supplies are sitting on the shelf above where the washer and dryer used to reside–some will move to my new home with me, some will be used to make this lovely home even more lovely for it’s new occupants. And, my wifi router for service that has yet to be transferred to my new home is powering my computer and phone for one last time.
In a spirit of full disclosure, I have to say that I’m on the brink of tears. I have both loved and hated this home. As with the last home, I’m leaving behind features lovingly installed by people I love. In the last home it was the laminate floor that my brothers and dad spent a 3-day weekend installing.
In this home it is the rounded quartz edges of my counter tops and the granite hearth and surround for my fireplace.
I will miss my sweet neighbors, my church congregation, and the amenities of this place. Most of all, I can’t help but think that this is the last place I will ever live that Mom visited…and that makes me sad.
I’m taking action that I hope will take my life in the direction that I want it to go–that will make me a more likely candidate for the role that I want to play in life and the person I want to be. It hasn’t been easy and there is a part of me that feels like a huge failure. I know that a lot of the people in my life don’t really understand why I’m selling my house and moving to a rental for the near future. They think I’m taking a huge step backward. On some levels, I would have to agree with them. But its not permanent. It is a temporary solution that will allow me to get some momentum on goals that have been evading me for far too long.
Stay tuned and see how thing unfold.
By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Do any of you use a mantra? Is there a word or phrase that you can repeat to yourself to give you the courage to overcome an obstacle or get you pumped up to face a challenge? I made some notes to write about this after my friend, April’s, funeral. Now, nearly 2 years later, I’m still reminded of that sweet woman and how she lived her life. When I think about April, I think about her amazing ability to pull a group of people together. Whether it was to do a project, play some games, or deal with a business issue, April had a unique talent of being able to reach out to people and bring them together in a beautiful way. She was outgoing, funny, and talented in so many ways. Whenever I had a perplexing issue at work and just needed to talk it through with someone, it was April’s advice that I sought. As I was listening to those who knew and loved her best honor her at her funeral, each mentioned that despite her many challenges, April’s mantra was to “Live life to the fullest.” And that is just what she did. You will notice in the description I have given that I never once mentioned that April was in a wheelchair or that she was challenged with several health issues. She never let that be what her life was about. She went about her days loving people, doing good, putting herself out there, trying new things, doing awesome things, loving people with her whole heart and living life to the fullest. Her “handicaps” were absolute non-issues. They impacted her, but they were not her.
I want to be like April.
I want a life well-lived with people remembering all of the things about me that are awesome, with whatever challenges I may face being a supporting character and not the leading lady in my life’s work.
I’ve been thinking about what my mantra would be. What words could I repeat daily that would give me motivation and courage. That would be a reminder to me of the legacy I want to leave. That would help me focus more on what I’m grateful for and what a wonderful life I have than on the challenge of the moment.
My immediate thought was of the last two lines of the poem I have quoted above. I’m not sure that is the one I will pick. I love the poem and those last two lines, but my life is, for the most part joyous and not nearly as dark or onerous as compared to the tone of the overall poem
Do you have a mantra? What words or images light you up? Please share.