You Might Be Right…

There comes a time (sometimes more than once) when the stars align in a completely different way due to unforeseen circumstances and you notice a significant shift. Your feet seem to step lighter, the ground feels more absorbent, and the air around seems to be clear. It is in that very moment that you can barely hear your own ego, and suddenly you hear your own voice whisper, “You may be right.”

And for once in your life, you are not talking to yourself. Well, yes, you are, but you are not referring to yourself in being right…again.

After many years of the most challenging life events I have ever had, though clearly not the worst there are to have…I have a sense of clarity I cannot ever recall having. I suppose it is not that surprising. Maybe after you have been stripped of the things you have always ‘known’, what’s left…is true vulnerability.

I am not quite sure what exactly got me to this point since I have been deeply working on myself for the past year and a half, but I know for sure there has been a shift. Not only in the way I see myself, but in the way I see others.

I can see today that what I hear coming at me is actually my perception of what is being given to me, that has first gone through years of being alive. Years of being engaged in meaningful relationships. Some great, some not so much. But all have left me with emotions in regards to how I perceive the present, how I perceive the future and how I perceive my life. That’s a lot of filtering.

It reminds me of the time I put a contact into my eye that already had a contact in it. That’s right. Two contacts in one eye. Now, if you are not a contact wearer, you might think, ‘now that would give you amazing vision!’ Right? Like if you held your eye to a magnifying glass.

But no, that is not what happens at all. It does not give you better vision. It does not provide even more clarity. What it gives you is a murky version of life. And since I did not realize what I had done, my brain tried desperately to make sense of what it could and could not see. Trying desperately to convince me that I had not in fact just gone blind…

If you wear contacts you might be thinking, ‘Well of course you can’t see better if you force your eyes to see through filters not meant for your eyes.’ However, I wrestled with vision for several minutes before panicking that I had just double dosed my eyes and wondered if my eyes had suddenly seen enough and had called it quits.

This is actually quite similar to what happens in our listening. Based on our emotions surrounding this person, this event, this thing, filters cloud our thinking and hearing. While we can hear the words coming at us, we may not necessarily be hearing what is said, but may be picking up on what we think someone is thinking. We may in fact be interpreting what is not being said. Or we may have already decided how we are going to respond before it is even heard, so therefore don’t listen at all. Either way, how we respond gets filtered through millions of past events and feelings and this simple conversation ends up being anything but simple.

It becomes what my eyes experienced, trying to see through a double dose of contacts and not providing an ounce of clarity or truth.

In addition to speaking from a place other than now, whoever you are speaking to will also respond from that far away place. It is then that the whole conversation becomes one hot mess.

So how do we have conversations not masked by previous emotions?
Here are some simple tips:

1- Create an intention. Are you trying to set the record straight? Are you hoping for clarity? Or do you genuinely just want to hear what someone has to say? Design it, commit to it and then set it in motion.

2 – Clean your slate. Come to the table and pretend that your slate has been cleared. Remind yourself that the past has no bearing on this present moment.

3 – Leave your ego at the door. Yes, I know that you know and you want them to know too. However, if you come to the table with that perspective, you might as well call it a day before you even get there. The truth is that you might or might not be right, but more importantly, in order to fully hear what someone is saying to you, you will need to stand in the place, that maybe…just maybe…you don’t know.

4 – Listen. Listen like it’s the first time you are hearing this person speak and then no matter how you are feeling, repeat after me: “You might be right.” Even if you are certain they are not right. Even if you are positive that you are the one that is right. Let it go. Create space for what is possible in the land of the unknown. You will be amazed at the possibility of what comes next. Trust me…

Why Clutter is not Simply a Messy Space.

Clutter. We set up tasks, goals, time lines and yet, it feels so hard to tackle. Often we can get to the starting line, but cannot follow through to completion. Sometimes it feels so overwhelming that we continue to put other tasks ahead of it just to avoid it a little bit longer. Even with the best intentions, with reminders written and alarms set, we find a way to avoid it. But why can’t we just settle in and get it done?

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The answer may surprise you.

Today I worked with a client who had finally cleared space on the desk but had been so overwhelmed with the mess everywhere else in the room, she couldn’t create a real commitment or intention to get it done. At first glance, it made sense that it was just a daunting task. We even had a few laughs about it. Yet I knew that there was a back story that had to be addressed before any mess could be cleaned up.

“Why do you need to clean this room?” I asked, picturing the photo she sent of the piles  on the floor and the challenges she has been faced with in the past few months.

“Because it will then be clean and organized,” she said simply.

“Look around the room,” I said. “What does this mess represent to you. It is not just a messy room. What is it to you?”

There was silence until her crackled voice broke through her tears. “Oh god,” she said as if just seeing the room for the first time. “This room is a reminder of all the things I can’t do. The things that I don’t get done. The chaos in my life.”

This was the heart of what mattered. This was why it was so challenging. It had little to do with the actual job of cleaning up the room. That wasn’t the job she was avoiding. It was a clearing of her life. The room signified failure to her, which was why standing in it for too long became overwhelming. Yet beginning to understand what it symbolized,  then visualizing what was on the other side, made it a much more important task. It was no longer a to-do that could wait. She had waited long enough. It was now something she recognized as too important to ignore.

In that moment she realized that a clutter free space would also create one without preconceived notions and a self sabotaging story about who she was. Instead, a clutter-free space could represent who she was about to become. In that moment she realized the clean up wasn’t nearly as hard as the clutter she was holding onto.

On the Other Side of Chaos.

I couldn’t have known there was another side to the chaos that had transpired in my life, because I wasn’t fully aware of the chaos that had begun to surround me. I did know that my life had straddled itself in an endless spin that left me feeling dizzy on most days, and that it seemed an explosion of some sort was inevitable, but knowing just wasn’t enough. Because when you are in it, you don’t really know. You don’t know much of anything at all. You don’t know if it is temporary or permanent. You don’t know if you can control it in one way or the other. You don’t even know if you are contributing to it by simply being in it. And you don’t know how to make it stop. All you do know is a persistent feeling of overwhelm and despair.

Yet in the depths of real chaos, sometimes someone becomes just strong enough, or weak enough, that the whole thing blows up. It becomes not just chaos but a sort of madness that stirs the whole pot so intensely that it explodes. Pieces fly everywhere without real certainty of how it ever stood as one. A million pieces, representing your life, scatter all around unrecognizably…no sense of order, no sense of love, no sense of self. Just pieces, fragments of life with no place to go.

It is only then that darkness becomes so blinding you instinctually head for the light. You cannot see it, you cannot hear it, or feel it, but you know that you cannot stay where you are. That remaining in this one spot is no longer an option and that you must move with certainty forward and pray for light and solid ground. With your heart pounding, you just keep moving. There is no guarantee about what awaits around the corner, but it doesn’t matter. You just keep moving, knowing that whatever is next, will be better…safer…than this.

Sometimes the walk in the dark lasts only a few hours, yet can last for days or months, but you just keep going because there are suddenly no other choices.

Until one day, while feeling the sun brightly on your face, the quiet somehow catches you by surprise. It is only then that you acknowledge the peace that radiates from a place within that you did not know was available. It is then that you know you have found the light. That you have walked far enough away, that there are no more scattered broken pieces you once called life. No more darkness. That the quiet is not necessarily what is or is not around you, but what lies within you.

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It is only then that you are able to see and feel the other side of chaos that you often denied. It is only then that you can experience quiet and peace in a way that soothes your heart and soul. It is only then that you can hear your own voice, not what you have been lead to believe about yourself. Because on the other side of chaos, you will find yourself. As each layer slowly peels away, shedding off all the protective layers you once needed…you will find yourself raw and vulnerable. You will find the actual root of who you are. Not the names that someone once gave you…but who you actually are.

You will find beauty and strength, from the inside out. Courage and love, with an intense desire to do good in this world and a willingness, to do whatever it takes to have the life you want and deserve.  Only then will you notice the circle that has filled in around you, with people who support, accept, love and feel grateful for who you are…not who they want you to be.     On the other side of chaos…you will find you. A very happy you.

Velcro Doesn’t Foster Independence.

It amazes me that something as simple as Velcro sneakers can actually makes things harder, but they can!

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Wait, what? If my child is struggling with tying his shoes, making every departure one giant meltdown, Velcro has to be a better option. I mean, that is what they were designed for, right? Well, technically they probably were created to ease stress, but with a high price tag.

You are familiar with the scenario: It is time for school, the outfit has been out on the floor since the kiss goodnight, breakfast is done, and now it’s time to get out the door.

With cute little sneakers in hand, your 5-year-old proudly slides his feet into his shoes and then begins to grasp the shoe laces ever so carefully as you whisper, “one bunny ear, two bunny ear…”

You can feel your heart race a bit as you witness his third attempt and you can see his confidence begin to wane. Your confidence in his ability, along with your concerns of being late begin to collide. You picture the tantrum from the morning before and do your best to give one last pep talk.

“Be patient, honey. Over, under, around and through…” you say calmly feeling the pounding in your chest.

“I can’t do it!?” He screams. “I cant! I hate these shoes! I’m not going to school…”

And so it begins. Another morning of upset. You then do what you do. You help out. You explain how hard this task is and how it will get easier over time. Then you tie his shoes, acknowledging that you can tie them tighter anyway. He feels happy, and so do you. Yet as it keeps happening over and over each morning, you offer less and less time for him to try, until you eventually begin to tie them the second he has his feet in the shoes.

What could possibly be the harm in that? Eventually everyone learns to tie their shoes…dont they?

The harm actually has little to do with the shoe-tying meltdown. The larger problem we are contributing to is keeping our children from experiencing discomfort. While we believe in our hearts we are helping, we are continuously robbing them of their ability to manage discomfort. We are single-handedly stealing their opportunity to man handle things that don’t feel right. And in the large scheme of life as we know it, we are contributing to a society of emerging adults that do not know how to get themselves out of uncomfortable situations because we have been doing it for them. While that help comes from a yearning to make their life easier, we are actually trying to avoid our own discomfort by helping them to avoid theirs.

The large problem lies right there.

We must know what discomfort feels like in order to be successful adults. We must experience it simply so we can experience the triumph that comes along with lifting ourselves up. While we want to convince ourselves that this is how we show our love, this is not a loving gesture at all. In fact, doing things for others that they can do for themselves simply robs them of their opportunity for success.

It starts with a simple act of ‘over, under, around and through….’ and leads to dangerous times of isolation and peer pressure and days of now what am I supposed to do? The discomfort our children/emerging adults experience when we are not around, can lead to feelings of desperation and hopelessness. These feelings can contribute to the yearning to tune-out, possibly leading to addictive behaviors that allow them to not feel disappointment or fears. It can lead to feelings of failure and disconnect and can perpetuate a hidden downward spiral.

One emerging adult client I worked with shared his experience of overwhelm and stress he felt in college and turned to alcohol and drugs to mask all that he could not cope with. When I asked him if he ever thought about trying to quit his addictive behaviors, he said simply, “there was no reason to think about quitting…it was the darkest hole I had ever been in and knew I was never getting out.”

Fortunately, he was given a second chance with many months of recovery. But all are not as fortunate. The crisis is real. And while as parents we do not cause our children’s depression, isolation or addictive behaviors, we can contribute by continuing to push them further in that dark hole by doing for them. Or we can begin to actually help, by allowing them the success they are capable of and deserve.

So, the next time you are unsure of whether your help is helpful or hurtful, ask yourself this question: Is this something that they are capable of doing themselves? Because if it is, let them. Take a few extra breathes. Be mindful that their discomfort is just like yours and that life is never about how we fall, but how we learn to dust off and get back up.

Want to really foster independence? Skip the velcro.

What You Leave Behind Tells a Story

If you knew that the things you leave behind, send a message to our universe about who you are, would you be more careful to clean up?

Well…what do you leave behind?

Maybe it isnt something physical, like your car keys, or phone, but more about things that are left unfinished. Like at the end of each day, what does your inner critic say? What does your inner spirit whisper?

Does it confirm that once again you did a great job, putting out fires, completing all of the tasks you set out to do, and that in fact your intensity was so great you achieved things you didn’t even plan on achieving thus far? Or does it squelch all of the inspiring words of wisdom that you had for yourself just a few short hours ago?

What is your leave-behind? A checklist complete…or a mass collection of things yet to be finished?

Knowledge is power, even in the area of leave-behinds.

In the area of productivity and growth, it is helpful to consistently assess the patterns we see at the beginning and end of each day. Most importantly, to be mindful of the actions we constantly repeat that do not serve us well. Without doing so, we will have great difficulty tapping into our true potential and will spend unimaginable time spinning our wheels. Surely we are all a work in progress, but for an Entrepreneur’s financial livelihood, daily movement is critical and behaviors that don’t help in that area should be modified.

What you leave behind, sets the stage for where you are now, as well as where you want to be.

Simple leave-behinds, like a calendar of incomplete tasks, does not speak as loudly as what you do with those tasks. You can shut the book and head for bed, feeling frustrated by your inability to complete things, spend the night tossing and turning, or you can take action as part of your closing process.

Remember that taking action is the critical part of your financial gains, no matter what that action is. So in this specific area, what you might simply do is move each task to a place and time when you know you can complete it, keeping in mind all tasks needing to be complete, as well as length of time for each task to be completed.

Incomplete tasks each day does not necessarily mean nothing is getting done, but instead may tell a story about your ability to manage time, or assess length of tasks to be completed. Either way, by using the close of each day to assess this, you can grow in this area and turn it into an area of productivity.

What else do you leave behind?

I spent an afternoon at my favorite coffee shop last weekend writing, while a gentleman dressed in casual business attire spent his hour tapping away on his keyboard as well. He was clearly working, seemed quite focused and did not look up nearly as often as I did. I silently complimented him for being so productive in a busy environment, but that wasn’t all that I had noticed. I also noticed that the entire time he sat there, three shiny pennies sat on the windowsill right beside his table, basking in the sun.

I assumed that they were his. That perhaps he only had a money holder and no place for change. Or that he hastily sat down, gently dropping the coins on the sill. But at the end of the hour, as he began to pack up everything sprawled on the table, I began to wonder if they were there before he arrived.

As I watched him carefully pack up, meticulously putting everything in its’ expected place, I guessed he wasn’t likely to leave much behind. He then put his jacket on, and picked up the briefcase he had ever so carefully packed. It was then for the first time that our eyes met and then mine quickly darted back to the shiny pennies….

At this point I knew that whether or not these were his, was less important than what he was going to do next, and of course, I was not going to stay quiet.

”You’re not going to leave those pennies there, are you?”

As he looked over at the coins that had been calling out to me, I could see it was the first time he noticed they were there and he smiled. I could feel what he was going to say next and interrupted his thought.

“You know, if you leave those behind, you are telling the universe that you have enough money and do not need any more.”

“Oh!” He said with a little laugh and then picked them up! “I dont want my universe to think that.”

He then leaned over and dropped one of them on my table and we both laughed. Perhaps a finders fee, I thought. One that I was not going to leave behind. Penny or not.

All That Wander, Are not Lost

My fingers hit the keyboard gently this morning in hopes of finding just the right words to send to my people. “My” people…the ones that have so inspired me this year to honor my life and the way I want it. The ones who have struggled with pain, cancer, stress, chaos and even just the feeling of ‘is this really all there is?’ For those that have reached out for a hug, dared to scream ‘I can’t do this anymore!’ For those that wanted to simply give up, but instead decided to lie down and rest and for those that feel torment in their heart, but allow me to love them anyway. For all of you and more, I thank you for giving me the permission to touch your life, help alter your perspectives and trust me to tag along in your life. I have so enjoyed being a part of your life story.

It is only now that I am beginning to see the pattern each year brings. A clear balancing act between holding on and letting go and understanding that everything that comes at us is a precious gift we call life. A one time offer.

Yet as I continue tapping on the keypad, wondering what inspiring words will come from me next, something that I can offer my favorite readers as words to live by, words to carry into the New Year…I see this large blank slate reminding me of what matters most.

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Sometimes we do not have the answers. Not right now anyway.

If we can lean into that, lower our shoulders, soften the lines in our face, and quiet the ego, we can then be confident that the answers will come. Because they will.

It is in that faith that we continue to live our life with a full commitment to being the best we can be, not a constant image of ‘I will do better tomorrow’, but rather a commitment to honor our word and live life as if this is the only day we have…ever.

All that wander, are not lost.

Caving into feelings of exhaustion, asking for help, being silent, letting emotions overcome us or choosing to get off the path completely, doesn’t mean we have failed, are weak or have limitations. But rather, all show signs of strength in knowing oneself, our needs and our ability to lean in to our life in this moment. In fact, it is the true ability to be present.

So if you feel confused, frustrated about where you have been, worried about where you are heading or are fear that this is all there is, simply breathe.  Inhale all that is good, and then exhale, letting go of all that does not feed your soul. Only then, can you be present with the blank slate in front of you. The unknown does not have to be a place of darkness and fear, but an opportunity to redesign what you already have and appreciate all that is within you.

As the New Year begins I wish you all at least a few moments to wander, and see just how great you really are.

In the depths of Darkness there is Light.

We must be willing to let go of what was, in order to have what will be…

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We cannot welcome the New Year into our life, until we bid farewell to 2017. Adios. You are no longer needed here. Your memories, some good and some pretty hurtful have all served their purpose but now need to be put away. It is a blessing that we get to start again each year and I refuse to wallow in what could or should have been. Everything in 2017, as surprising and disappointing as much of it was, was purposeful (even if I couldn’t see it at the time) and has led me to this moment. In fact, I would go further to say that even the worst of 2017 has lead me to some amazing miracles.

So while I can confess that there may have been more tears of sadness than joy in the past year, the joyful moments really stand out. A joy so tremendous that it overrode many painful moments. As a matter of fact, I believe that without all of the hurt I survived, the joy may not have felt so grand.

To grieve my marriage to a man I truly believed was the love of my lifetime, only to find that in some darkness, love is simply not enough. While simultaneously learning through my relationship with my son that some times love in fact was all you needed. No other tools necessary.

2017 has taught me all I need to know about surviving and thriving. It has taught me that the ability to care for one self is not a small task, but yet in fact that most challenging task to succeed at. It has taught me that what works to resolve one issue, may not work for others and that no matter what, you can’t give up. You can’t just profess that you are not meant to find happiness or are simply not deserving. While at the same time you also cannot blame yourself for all of the challenges that have come your way, because life will surely happen as it is supposed to.

Yet as I rounded the corner on this year, I also finally understood that while I may not have caused the things that have occurred in my life, I can keep looking at what I️ have done to contribute to events that have gone sideways. I can finally comprehend that my need to care for everyone else, before my desire to care for myself, is not helpful, but in fact, hurtful.

And so…as I bid farewell to 2017 I bow down and surrender, taking ownership of those that I have hurt by taking on all responsibilities, while at the same time robbing them of their opportunity for success. Amazing how love at times can hurt so much.

While I️ would like to say that all of these epiphanies came to me one night, in fact I️ have had some amazing people helping me on this journey. But it was my openness to what others could contribute that gave me the greatest reward: In the depths of darkness, there is light. We all have access to it if we truly want it, believe we can have it and trust that we are worth it.

I know for sure what 2017 has given me….bright sunshine, light and laughter. And so I happily bid farewell to the year gone by and welcome with open arms all that 2018 has to offer, even before knowing what exactly it has in store.

Happy New Year…stay in the light.