When was the last time you watched the clouds move across the sky?
Last night I finished listening to the book Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday, where he expounds on how the great minds of our time, and before our time, used stillness as a way to reset, recenter, and re-connect with themselves.
From the Greek philosopher Seneca, to heads of State like Churchill and Kennedy, to home run legend Shawn Green, all of them incorporated stillness into their lives. They didn't do so on a mat or meditation pillow, and they didn't do so just once a day in the morning before heading to work, but THROUGHOUT their days, weeks, and years.
In our world of fun, fast, on-demand, constantly distracted, and all about the "hack", we have forgotten how to be bored. We don't know how to be still.
I think it is costing us.
This morning I practiced stillness in meditation, and while lying in savasana, eyes open watching the clouds move across the sky to reveal a bright starry sky hidden underneath.
It was a beautiful moment of stillness.
A beautiful moment to connect with the greater world around me.
A beautiful moment to remember that I am a tiny speck of energy, sitting on an immense ball of rock and earth, that is spinning around itself, while spinning around other balls of rock, and earth, and gas.
And here I am, in front of my computer NOT practicing stillness. Have a checked a box and now think that stillness isn't necessary?
I wonder how my life feel, and look if I practice more stillness--in the pauses between words. In the transitions between tasks. Even in my own head.
How do you practice stillness in the "in between" moments of your day?
Did you know that you hold all of your beliefs and goals on certain timelines? And those timelines are stored in certain parts of your body?
I didn't either, until now.
Check out the video to find out about the 3 timelines, AND why this matters A LOT when it comes to your future goals.
Live. Love. Learn. Lead.
Today, I started a Money EQ course with Ken Honda, author of Happy Money. He is known as the Zen Millionaire in Japan. He "retired" at the age of 29, and has since been teaching people how to attract money into their lives.
He divides money wisdom into 2 categories: Money IQ and Money EQ. The first is all about the specifics of investing, saving, etc. The second is all about the emotional ties we have to money. The course I am taking is all about the later.
In this video I talk you through one of the exercises we did on the first day of the course where we sit down with money. It was truly eye opening for me. Perhaps it can be the same for you.
Live. Love. Learn. Lead.
It's just before 6:00am and I have been unexpectedly up since 4:00am.
When I realized that I wasn't going to fall back to sleep, I slowly rose up, grabbed my awaiting yoga clothes, and quietly made me way out of the room. I decided not to take the time to put in my contacts, so as not to wake my slumbering husband.
This lack of vision turned out to be a game changer.
As I moved through my poses on the mat this morning, I wobbled and fell again and again, as I did when I was a brand new yogi. Although, I kept my gaze focused and soft, the blur around the edges kept me from really seeing. It was my lack of real vision that causing me to lose my balance.
It's common for many of us, not just in yoga, but in life.
It happened to me during my latter years in Seattle Public Schools, when my need to prove my worth blurred my vision of what it meant to be a leader. It has happened to me since then as well--in small everyday interactions, as well as in the larger context of running a business.
With vision and intention, I veer off course.
Right now I am listening to the book Onward by Howard Schultz, which outlines his return as to Starbucks as CEO in 2008. Over and over again he talks about how Starbucks had lost sight of its soul--it's vision. Instead of people being its business, profit became its business, and as a result, Starbucks started to stumble and fall. Howard Schultz main goal when taking over was to find a way to get back to the roots, while also embracing innovation in a way that honored their customers, their partners, and their shareholders.
They needed a new vision. They needed something that people were wiling to fight for. Something more than money.
In Doug Sundheim's book Taking Smart Risks, he outlines 5 actions that we can take that will help us shift our relationship to risk. The first one is having a SWFF--Something Worth Fighting For. Something that is worth the risk. Something that goes beyond ourselves and beyond money that can keep us anchored AND expanding at the same time.
I didn't have that this morning, and thus I fell.
What is your Something Worth Fighting For?
Living. Loving. Learning. Leading.
Today is the first day of the new school year.
In another year, and in another time, this might not be a big deal. But this year, in our house, and in our time, it is a very big deal.
Not only did both of my kids miss several months of school last Spring due to the virus, but we also made the decision to change my daughter's school for the new school year. A decision that she resisted for a long time, until we told her that she would have twice as much homework and twice as many school supplies. Then she was thrilled.
This morning, though, she held tight to my hand. She refused to say hello to the few friends that we made over the summer. She held back. A friend whose son is a year older and went through the same scenario the year before came over to say hello. She must have seen the face that I couldn't see while standing right next to her. "Everyone is nervous on the first day, but I know that when you get home today it will have been a great day. You'll see."
As we approached the door her grip got tighter.
As we merged even closer to the front of the line to meet and greet her two new teachers, I whispered, "It's almost your turn to tell them your name." Her head turned into my waist and I knew that the tears were coming.
After telling them her name myself, I gave her a big kiss and hug and left her in the arms of a stranger, tears streaming down her face.
She chose courage. And she will do so again and again throughout the day.
As she stands back and observes, as she is likely to do, she will choose the courage to stand outside the group. As she asks her teacher for guidance on what to do, or where to put her school supplies, she will choose the courage of not knowing. As she flips from English to French, and back again, as the day will require of her, she will choose the courage of potentially saying it wrong. And when I pick her up at the end of the day, exhausted from analyzing the newness of it all, she will choose courage yet again--the courage to put down her mask and be her true self.
I think I could learn a lot from her.
Live. Love. Learn. Lead.
In yesterday's post, I brought up the delicate topic of judgment, and how I have often felt judged and been judged when it comes to my eating habits. And that is what makes judgment so delicate because BEING judged and FEELING judged are not one and the same. One is a reality, and one is a story. One is fact and one is fiction.
Perhaps you are being judged. Perhaps you are not. Perhaps you are being judged positively. Perhaps you are not. Sometimes you may never know.
But if you are anything like me, the not knowing sometimes makes it worse, and you ruminate on the POSSIBILITY of it, try to make meaning and understand it, fight and defend yourself inside your own mind, and generally drive yourself crazy, all the while the other person is off doing their own thing, most likely not even thinking about you.
Ever had that happen? Sucks, right?
So, what do we DO in those moments, when our mind is going bat-shit crazy about the possibility that someone judged us wrongly, or poorly?
We dive in and investigate, like an archeologist digging up ancient artifacts.
Here are two ways I investigate those "feeling judged" but knowing if I was really being judged thoughts.
1) SEPARATE THE FACT FROM THE FICTION
First, I get out a big piece of paper. Yes this is IMPORTANT because you want to objectively see what is happening in your mind, and the only way to do that is to get it out of your head and onto paper. Next, I draw two big circles on it. The circle on the right I label FACTS and the circle on the left I label MEANINGS.
Next, I list out what the facts of the situation are as if I am looking through a video camera that does not capture sound. His lips moved and his mouth opened and closed. She raised this eyebrow. He moved closer in. I moved further away. Etc.
Then I turn the sound on, but turn the emotions and tonality off. He said these words. I said these words. She said these words. I said these words.
Once I have all the facts listed out, I turn to the circle on the right and connect all the facts to the meaning that I made from it. When she raised her eyebrow, I made it mean that she was questioning me. When he said, "Oh" I made it mean that I doesn't like my choices. Etc.
Finally, I slow down and get curious about all the other possible meanings that I could make about the facts, if I didn't have my own insecurities and baggage hanging around. When she raised her eyebrow, it's possible that she was intrigued and wanted to know more. She he said, "Oh" it's possible that he wants to learn all about how I stopped eating sugar so easily. Etc.
This process allows me to see the meaning and story that I am making up. In the words of the Landmark Forum, I am a "meaning-making machine." You are too, my friend :)
2) DO THE WORK OF BYRON KATIE
Before I share this process, I want to be clear that some people love Byron Katie's framework called The Work, and other people think it causes more trauma and pain, for people who have already endured their share of trauma and pain.
I first learned about The Work and read the bookLoving What Is by Byron Katie in 2012 after I had left a not-so-great-work-situation, and was knee deep in anger, resentment, and judgment about my former employer and myself. The Work helped me to release a lot of that and find a sense of peace and power that I hadn't known how to tap into before.
Most recently, the Emerge Book Circle read Byron Katie's book as a group, and I was re-united with the process. I also hosted a certified facilitator of The Work which gave me even more opportunity to practice out loud with others.
The Work at its core it, is a series of 4 questions and a few turn arounds, that one can play with and use to examine thoughts that bring about stress.
The 4 questions are:
1) Is it true?
2) Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4) Who would you be without the thought?
1) To self
2) To the other
3) To the opposite
I'll walk you through an example.
Thought: _______________ looked at me like I am crazy when I shared my eating habits.
1) Is it true?
I have no idea. She could have looked at me with surprise. She could have looked at me in admiration. She could have looked at me and thought, "I want to be like her."
2) Can you absolutely know that it's true?
Already said no above, so no need to keep going.
3) How do you react, what happens when you believe this thought?
I become frustrated, angry, and sad. I don't feel welcome and want to flee. I attack back in my own head and start criticizing her back. I become petty looking for evidence for why she is crazy.
4) Who or what would you be without the thought?
I would be free. I would be able to connect and let go of the incident and move on, realizing that it is a story in my own head, due to my own insecurities and my desire to belong.
1) I look at myself like I am crazy for my eating habits.
YES...this is true! Sometimes the way that I share my eating habits is done in a way to make it sound crazy. I even refer to myself as crazy.
2) I looked her like she is crazy because of her eating habits.
Even though I am not outwardly criticizing her eating habits, I suppose that in a small way I am criticizing her for choosing not to eat like me. Perhaps I think she is crazy for NOT knowing what I know and not eating like I eat.
3) My thinking is crazy when it comes to my eating habits.
Yep, this is true too. I can get crazy and fanatical about my own eating habits and within my own head. Doing research upon research, and then trying to "convert" other people to eating less sugar.
Please note that the "My thinking" is a bit of a divergent practice from the regular turn arounds, but it works in this manner better than the turn around to the opposite.
And that's it. Two how-to's to help you separate fact from fiction and move from feeling judged to feeling something less icky.
If you want me to walk you through either format, please give me a shout.
Live. Love. Learn. Lead.
I first become a vegetarian at the age of 16, after spending part of my day watching documentaries about the US meat-packing industry. My parents thought it was just a "phase" that I would grow out of.
I haven't yet.
I didn't become a vegetarian for health reasons. It was more value driven, which I thought would make it a non-negotiable--something that one couldn't and wouldn't try to convince me out of. It proved to be very negotiable in most people's minds. It was as if my opinion and my choices didn't matter.
A little over a year ago, I wasn't feeling very well. I was lacking energy and was often taking naps during the day. My runs had turned into "runks" (a run-walk combo). I knew something was up, so I headed to my doctor and to a homeopath to get a well-rounded opinion.
After some tests were run, two major problems were revealed. 1) I was anemic, and 2) I was pre-diabetic. The first didn't surprise me, but the second did. How could I, the healthy-eating-vegetarian be pre-diabetic?
Having had gestational diabetes with my 2nd child and a family history of diabetes, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. I am relatively thin and sporty. Type-2 diabetes only happens with people who are over-weight, right?
I have since learned the term TOFI from the book The Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung. It stands for "Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside." Yep, according to Dr. Fung, I most likely have a fatty pancreas, a fatty liver, and fatty muscles. That marbled look is great on a slab of beef, but not so great inside my own body.
The good thing is that new research shows that Type 2 Diabetes is 100% reversible with diet. No medicine or insulin needed.
And that is what I did. I went from pre-diabetic to non-diabetic in a very short time. The graph of my A1C looks like the white cliffs that I saw on the Normandy coast this summer--straight down.
I also went from being a vegetarian, to a vegetarian who doesn't eat breads, potatoes, pasta, grains, lentils, beans, starchy vegetables, most fruit, and as you probably guessed, sugar.
Who wants to invite me for dinner? I mean come on. I am the perfect dinner guest. If you throw in a few nut or egg allergies, it would be hostess's dream.
Needless to say, my husband and friends have been 100% supportive of the change. At least, I thought that everyone was 100% supportive of the change until I heard these words, "The way you eat is ANTISOCIAL."
I wasn't as welcome as a thought.
Sometimes when change occurs the people around us react as if we have slapped them in the face, rather than made a personal choice. We are then criticized, made to feel unwelcome, or even sabotaged. Instead of being lifted up and cheered on, we are tripped up and made to fall.
Even though I resist it, I get it. When someone changes their habits, and makes shifts in their priorities, it causes us to look at our own habits and priorities. We think, "If she is doing this, then what does that mean about what I am doing? Is it not 'good enough.'?"
Most recently, we left our home with a friend while we traveled. We came home to newly organized kitchen cupboards, new dish towels and deodorizing cleaners in each of our toilets. My husband said, "I can't help but feel judged."
Plus you can't FEEL judged. That's not a feeling. Feeling judged is a thought. Or, more precisely a story, a story that we have made up in our mind.
My husband "felt judged" but he has no idea if our friend was actually judging him. It's a story he made up in his mind because she was kind and left us clean smelling toilets and new kitchen towels.
As for me being antisocial, well, that isn't a story as those were the words that came directly out of their mouth. It was definitely, 100% a judgement, even when in the next breath they said that they weren't trying to criticize.
Here's the thing though. People will judge you no matter what. They will judge you in a positive light and they will judge you in a negative light. Judging is part of our survival, just like breathing is. If you don't want to be judged, you must stay at home, stay quiet and never interact with anyone, even online.
Sounds miserable to me.
Instead, I must meet my own judgments and the judgements of others with understanding and compassion. I must also remember that usually when I "feel judged", it's most likely a story, and it's definitely NOT about me.
"There is a part of you that you have outgrown." ~Lisa Nichols
I came across this quote yesterday while I was cyber-stalking Lisa Nichols in anticipation of our reading one of her books next month for the Emerge Book Circle. It caused me to pause and reflect on all the ways that I have outgrown myself in the past few months.
Although, the confinement this Spring was very challenging for many reasons, it forced me to reassess my commitments while also reconnecting with my passions. As a result, I let go of certain activities and leadership positions that were no longer serving me, while embracing other activities that more distinctly light me up.
The results in the coming months were almost magical. It was as if the Universe was waiting for me to let go of my fear so that I could fully dive in. There is a saying that "When one door closes, another one opens," yet too often we wait for someone else to close the door on us, rather than closing it ourselves.
If I look back on my life, I can see a pattern in myself of staying when I wanted to go, but refusing to close the door because it would mean I was a quitter, and I was taught that "quitters never win." Instead, I have straddled the divide, unwilling and unable to commit fully to either side. It has happened in relationships. It has happened at work. It has happened for my health as well.
Most recently, this occurred within the context of my work. As you probably know, I have been coaching for the last 8 years, but about a year ago I decided to step away from coaching, and instead following my passion for personal development and books. Yet, I didn't shut the door. I grasped onto the few remaining clients that I had, while not fully committing to the book circle with all the energy that I had. In addition, I took on some English teaching to cover the gap that my limited coaching had created in my income. As a result, I wasn't spread in 2 ways, but actually in 4. Between my coaching, the growth of the book circle, my English teaching and my role as the President of a women's association, I wasn't focused, and I was doing anything well.
About a year ago, I read the book The One Thing by Gary Keller where he encourages the readers to pick one thing today, that by doing it, it will make everything else easier and unnecessary.
I talk extensively in my various book circles about the importance of bring your learning to life, yet I didn't bring this learning to my own life. I let it pass me by.
The result--exhaustion, overwhelm, frustration, dissatisfied clients and circle members, and anxious children.
Keller also says, "Resting is just as important as working." My 3 week summer vacation gave me that rest, and helped me see all the ways that I have been working from a place of fear and scarcity, rather than from a place of faith and abundance.
A caterpillar can never emerge into a butterfly, if she is constantly trying to return to her cocoon. I, too, cannot emerge into a more powerful business women, if I am constantly trying to return to my cocoon of teaching and coaching.
Instead, I will focus on my one thing, and see how well this butterfly fares in the wind.
Are you willing to leave your cocoon behind along with me?
It's Theresa, founder of the Emerge Book Circle(s). These musings are focused on the living, loving, learning and leading that occurs everyday, in all its messiness.
Please comment and share as you feel inspired.
Special Note: If you click on any book links, please know that I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you purchase through this link, I receive a tiny percentage in return at no extra cost to you.