Thursday, February 23, 2012

February Check-In

This month has been hectic.

I didn't have time to update at my usual time this morning, so I'm making the time this evening. While I missed writing this morning, this is exactly the sort of dilemma I like. I mentioned a few posts back that my work area of life was picking up, and this is the main reason why I am late writing today. I'm going to be gentle though, and forgive myself.

Last week was my love week. I managed a few very successful days, and then I hit a love wall. Suddenly, I was grumpy, achy, and "Darn it get the effe out of my blind spot you blanking son of a blank" (I promise it was significantly less clean). I did try in the midst of this though. I would say something horrible, and when I realized it, I would tack on to the end "I love you". I am not sure I ever really meant it, but this is why it was useful: saying "I love you" to the thing/person/element that was annoying me in the moment stopped me from continuing on with the cursing spree. If the power of repetition is as great as modern Psychology suggests it is, eventually I will believe the words.

Whether I believed myself when I told the annoyance "I love you" or not, the simple act of stopping the frustration can have profound effects. Instead of allowing my body to produce more stress hormones, which research links to higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and other awful methods of sudden death, my body relaxed. I stayed open to possibility, instead of closing my self off emotionally. I let the bad stuff go. The cool thing: it was a totally automatic response. I didn't have to think it through.

Earlier this week, some unfortunate soul in my city was killed as a result of road rage. I don't know all the details, but just think what the result could have been if someone had simply said "I love you, you are human, and we all make mistakes", instead of getting insanely pissed off. I believe the outcome would have been very different.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm going to continue to work on this love thing. I think it is leading somewhere, and that somewhere is going to be a very fine place to explore. The exploration I'm doing now is already pretty fine, so why would I expect anything different?


PS- I mentioned protecting my time for the people/activities/things that are most important to me. I'm  struggling, but I'm taking small steps: controlling my hours at one work place, piggy-backing errands, etc. This is still a challenge, but I really do believe part of my own challenge with loving people right now is linked to my sense of limited time for myself. I'm looking forward to my vacation at the end of March, just so I can have a week to breath.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Resolution 6-2012: Bring the Love

No, this isn't a Valentine's Day Special of a post.

Now that issue has been cleared up, this is a great time to talk about love. We have spent the last few weeks seeing every possible visual representation of  love marketing gurus can cook up. I even saw an add for a cat food involving a marriage proposal (the cat food had nothing to do with the rest of the add). My realization after watching something like this, well, maybe a few hours after watching this: love has been co-opted by consumerism to breed discontent.

I mentioned a few posts ago I was charged with a purpose of loving people, which I'm shortening to simply loving. Once you get past the corny sound of such a purpose, the value of existing in a state of love becomes apparent pretty quickly, but the actions for actually living it are a little more challenging. I'm not inclined to skip around the city, handing out flowers to people and saying "I love you". I've been looking for something a little more meaningful.

As it turns out, there is this great mechanism called the internet that allows us to learn things that aren't always readily apparent. Through the internet, I found out about a teleconference about wellness that was free, and I decided to start listening to some of the calls. I stumbled on a call interviewing the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" author Marci Shimoff. My initial reaction: groan, but something about the title of the call, and her newest book, made me listen. Ms. Shimoff wrote a book called "Love for No Reason", and this was the base of her talk about wellness.

I took two really interesting ideas away from the call. The first was forgiveness, which can be really hard to do. The second was a physical action for increasing the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters for you science geeks) linked to feelings of love. Let's talk about forgiveness first.

Forgiveness is one of those things we have to mean. People know when we say "I forgive you" and we don't really mean it. The funny thing about saying something out loud: it sparks a small change in our thinking, and if we repeat something enough times, we eventually believe it. Even repeating the phrase to ourselves can spark that change. If you want to look at the opposite of forgiveness to understand this, take a look at self-loathing. How many times today have I told myself how unacceptable my appearance is, and it isn't even 7:00am (first thing I did this morning was check the circumference of my thighs. No joke).

What would happen if I forgave myself for eating too much chocolate this week, and let myself return naturally to a state of balance, instead of beating the snot out of myself emotionally for being imperfect? I guess I would start living my purpose.

The second idea is more of an activity. Have you noticed we are supposed to put our hands to our hearts when taking an oath of some sort? That simple act of placing a hand over heart increases levels oxcytocin, a neurotransmitter connected with feeling good and love. If you haven't already, put your hand over your heart and see how you feel. The exercise gets a little goofy after this, but try it. With your hand over your heart, breath in, and imagine the center of your heart is the entrance and exit for the breath. Got it? Okay. Now imagine you are breathing love in to your heart center. I bet you feel a little more love (Want more like this?

This week I am going to work a little harder on forgiving myself. I tell people all the time to be gentle with themselves, but rarely do I follow my own advice. When I start to get all self-loathy, I'm going to use the love exercise and see if it tempers my tirade.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Resolution 5-2012: Time Management

My flight to Hawaii is booked, and I'm flying on March 21.

While I'm excited about that, I want to write a little more about taking on an attitude of abundance. I only have a few minutes before I have to get ready for work, so I will keep it short and sweet.

This week I have been working on "enjoying the ride". While I'm enjoying the idea that I do and will continue to have what I need, I found myself directing worry to other areas. My big concern right now: my time. Because I have an abundance of work, my time has become extremely precious. I had a minor fit at the thought of writing this morning because "I don't have the time".

This has been a busy week (and it's only Thursday). I won't get home from work tonight until almost 8:30pm. I won't get a work out in until mid-day, and I've promised myself a trip to the consignment store on one of my breaks.

Here is my revelation: I have to make time for those things that give me joy, such as the consignment store. Writing this morning is important. This is creative time, and time I get a chance to check in with myself to ensure I'm doing the things that make my life wonderful.

My time is limited right now. I'm working 6 days a week, but with in that time frame, I promise to make the time for the people I love, the hobbies I love, and the rest I need.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Resolution 4-2012: Enjoy The Ride

Last night, as I was falling asleep, I was thinking about how right things are going in all areas of my life. And that ugly little thought popped up: "I wonder when this is all going to fall apart". Instead of letting my brain wander down this trail that inevitably leads to everything falling apart, I made the decision to believe things are going to keep going right.

I'm normally a positive person. I have friends who call me when they need someone to find some sort of silver lining. In my own life, sometimes the silver lining is hard to find until after the fact, and the "when is it all going to come crashing down around me" mentality is not as rare as I would like it to be. 

The last few months have been a hard transition period for me. I can roll with change, but my preference is to get back on my feet as quickly as possible. Going from having more than I needed (maybe not as much as I wanted), to worrying constantly about money was a shock. I was really lost in a thinking pattern of scarcity. I worried about draining my savings, draining my energy, draining the love and support of the people who were my safety net. I felt like a burden. I started resenting the people who were keeping me from totally sinking. And then there was the guilt. These are heavy things to carry around chronically.

A few weeks ago, I started seeing subtle shifts in my "luck". There are some who say luck doesn't exist, or it is entirely based on our own efforts. I say luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity (thank you, Randy Pausch, may you rest in peace). The work we put in to our lives is the driving force behind the opportunities we are dealt. I was offered a second space for massage in a high volume gym, my work load at my other practice started to pick up.

This week, the lid blew off. One practice had a record breaking number of clients, the other practice, which hasn't even opened yet, had more pre-sales than any one expected. I was asked to do a presentation for a grief group. I have people interested in coaching. My engagement ring arrived. Oh, and it was 40 degrees and sunny on February one. The kicker: it is only Thursday. It is an understatement to say things are going well.

I think I have found the silver lining to the harshness of the transition: I was forced into making some amazing opportunities come about. I couldn't sit around and do nothing. I had to go find people, make connections in my new community, and really commit to the path I took. I volunteered, I handed out cards, I talked to strangers. I emailed and I emailed and I called and I emailed until someone responded. It is one thing to know you are the best at what you do, but convincing other people to believe it is a whole different beast. In the midst of all my negativity, there was a kernel of belief that I was on the right track. If I hadn't believed it, I would have given up and found a job slinging coffee for minimum wage.

I can't claim victory yet. The thing with a business is you have to keep people coming in and coming back. I need to keep making opportunities, but instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, I've decided I'm going to enjoy the efforts I'm making.

My goal is to abandon the attitude of scarcity and the fear it generates. I'm going to practice a mind-set of abundance and gratefulness. I see now it was that little kernel of belief that everything was going to work out that drew this initial success into existence. Imagine what a whole attitude will bring about!