Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what’s next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.
The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. – Agnes de Mille.
I have always felt very uncomfortable the moment I began to feel even slightly comfortable. Some of my dearest friends have called me out on this. They say I have “commitment issues”. Maybe. Who knows. I just like the momentum of daring, trying, risking – smartly. Exposing myself and my mind to something new.
Today’s post is a passage taken from week seven “Recovering a Sense of Connection” from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The passage below resonated with me. Why? Because I fool myself daily because while I think I am taking risks, I am not taking big enough risks. The type that will catapult me to the next level of living adventurously. Here we go. Let me know if this rings true with you as well.
We’ve all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining. The success of a creative recovery hinges on our ability to move out of the head and into action. This brings us squarely to risk. Most of us are practiced at talking ourselves out of risk. We are skilled speculators on the probable pain of self-exposure.
“I’ll look like an idiot,” we say, conjuring images of our first acting class, our first hobbled short story, our terrible drawings. Part of the game here is lining up the masters and measuring our baby steps against their perfected craft. We don’t compare our student films to George Luca’s student films. Instead, we compare them to Star Wars.
We deny that in order to do something well we must first be willing to do it badly. Instead, we opt for setting our limits at the point where we feel stifled, smothered, despairing, bored. But yes, we do feel safe. And safety is a very expensive illusion.
In order to risk, we must jettison our accepted limits. We must break through “I can’t because. . .” Because I am too old; too broke; too shy; too proud? Self-defended? Timorous?
Usually when we say we can’t do something, what we mean is that we won’t do something unless we can guarantee that we’ll do it perfectly.
Here’s a Damn Good Recipe for Failure & Unhappiness, for a life of misery.
Be self-righteous, wallow in self-pity, drown the day in fear and complacency. Look at your life and others with anxiety, jealousy, and hatred.
Now here’s a More Delicious Recipe for Harmony, Peace & Happiness, for an extraordinary life.
Take it on the chin. Be flexible, resilient, forgive more. Work smart and hard and always look at life with confidence and gratitude.
The Waking by Theodore Roethke
When life feels like . . . .
Repeat this little prayer. . .
Right now I am frustrated because I am not taking better care of myself. Which got me wondering about the payoffs I experience for staying stuck in my progress. For not waking up more and doing what needs to be done to change what I don’t like about my life.
Dig deep for the payoffs for not moving towards your goals today. Ask yourself some BIG questions.
- What am I avoiding? Hard work maybe? Self-discipline? A little pain now for bigger gains later?
- Who am I punishing by staying this way?
- Am I avoiding the true expression of my emotions? Are they too frightening to feel?
- What if I am waiting for a guaranteed miracle? Who will bring it to me?
- Perhaps being stuck is really manipulating myself and others?
- Maybe I am looking for special attention? Wallowing in self-pity?
- What will I miss most if I do succeed?
Understand the difference between I will try and I will find a way “Results are a function of your commitment. Most people are unaware that where they are is exactly where they want to be.”
Trying to figure out why certain things happen in life is like attempting to piece together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle while having only a few pieces of the puzzle in your possession.
You cannot fully understand the present situation using the logic of your finite mind. Just know that a bigger picture exists, even though it is not possible for you to see it at this time.
Trust, for all that is happening is an act of love; ultimately you will discover the blessing. Have patience! You will look back on this period of your life and be thankful for all this is occurring now. The Matrix card from The Magadalene Oracle
Respecting the “timeliness” of an action.
Welcome to “Indian Time.”’
It’s not easy to explain what Indian Time is. It’s more complicated than assuming everything will be late (though, that’s often a safe bet). I’ve heard Indian Time described as “the time it takes for moss to grow on a stone,” or as one elder put it “the time it takes to do things in a good way.”
It’s an enigmatic idea based on a uniquely cultural relationship with time. Simply put, things happen when they happen. There are not 24 hours in a day. Time is unlimited, impossible to cut up into chunks.
If something is to happen at 11 am, it might happen at 11:01 am or 12:26 or 1:11 pm. It will happen when it will happen. The universe has its own heartbeat, and who are we to speed it up or slow it down? To some, it’s an excuse to be late. To others, it’s a way to avoid ulcers.
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”
Every single moment gives us an opportunity, a choice. Close the gap of what you are capable of doing and what your actually doing. Be the best you, right now. How do we live consistently as the best version of ourselves? Read: The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly
Observing what happens around us without filters or prejudice. Now that’s something to soak up. A life skill worth practicing. Try rewiring that into your brain. How often we get frustrated because life is not suppose to be this way or that way? As if it was always our call.
It’s so easy to get mad when things don’t go our way. It’s even easier to sleep walk through our days. On autopilot, we just cruise through the hours without even taking notice of the small things that need real care. The tiny pain points that pop up, that if we just focused on now, would never get out of hand. The things that really matter. Perhaps this is how bigger events and problems suddenly catch us by “surprise”. When we avoid the smaller, seemingly “meaningless” things in life. We shrug them off. “It is what it is.” “She’s just like that.” “I’ve been meaning to take care of that.”
An important skill to learn is to know how to sniff out the unexpected before it scares the hell out of you. It starts with paying attention to your life.
I am sure you realize that more often than not, there are usually many warning signals before something goes surprisingly wrong. It’s just that we were so distracted at the time.
To detect early warning signals, you need to build up your curiosity. Paying attention involves asking many questions and developing a wide network of friends and family willing to tell you the truth, even when it is spiked with anxiety and panic.
Collect all the rumors and paranoia that blow around you and your life and then separate the signal from the noise. Now, that’s paying attention.
Paying attention also asks that we ask the important question –
“What can you do today that will make a difference, not only in your life but in others?”
Becoming a More Attentive & Thoughtful Human
Encourage yourself to grow with quick and easy learning (YouTube), and create a personal mindset that allows you to make well-intentioned mistakes while paying attention. Taking notice, trying new ways of problem solving and staying awake at the wheel of life – it’s all a skill.
Don’t let your mind turn into a black hole where bright ideas go in but nothing useful ever comes out. Be an idea-driven human that values fresh thinking and doing.
Understand your strengths and weakness which will show you where your vigilance is strong and where you are vulnerable. That’s paying attention to yourself.
Minding What Matters
‘What actions can I take that will benefit not just myself, not just my family, not just my community, not just my work, but all it’ – that’s when you start to see possibilities for greater freedom.” That’s when you start paying attention to what matters. Inspired by “Leading the Life You Want“.
Happy and successful people focus on what really matters and who really matters to them. And then they take actions that are consciously and deliberately designed to make things better for them and the people around them.
Find meaning in mundane tasks while playing on your strengths. Apply skills you have in one area of your life to another.
Act with creativity and courage—and continually experiment with new ways of getting things done. An exercise for enhancing your skill in being innovative is called Scenarios. Identify a goal in any part of your life, and describe the results you want to achieve. Be as specific as you can. Then identify three alternative courses of action that would achieve the same results. For each potential path, list the resources you will need, the people whose help you’ll draw on, and how much of a stretch beyond your comfort zone this would be for you. By taking time to think through different options, you increase the flexibility of your thinking. Brainstorming about creative possibilities puts your focus on the goal, or results, rather than on one way to get there.
“Life requires of man spiritual elasticity, so that he may temper his efforts to the chances that are offered.”
“Change is essential for survival. All life forms must adapt to their fluctuating circumstances. All form of life result from the process of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. The universe is in a constant state of chaos. We each have chaos implanted into our bones. Nature wires all of us for change.”
“One of the most remarkable of man’s characteristics is his capacity for becoming used to conditions of almost any kind, whether good or bad, both in the self and in the environment, and once he has become used to such conditions they seem to him both right and natural. This capacity is a boon when it enables him to adapt himself to conditions which are desirable, but it may prove a great danger when the conditions are undesirable. When his sensory appreciation is untrustworthy, it is possible for him to become so familiar with seriously harmful conditions of misuse of himself that these malconditions will feel right and comfortable.”
“Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside of all patterns.”
“There’s no such thing as a mistake, really. It’s just an opportunity to do something else.”
A snake doesn’t mourn when it is time to shed it’s skin.
Featured Illustration – Walt Whitman
Yes we all need a good night’s sleep and maybe a cat nap during the day to refuel. Eating healthy and regularly throughout the day is important for staying energized too. However I have noticed that much of my exhaustion comes from rushing, worry, feeling unorganized and overwhelmed. This isn’t physical, this is complete mental exhaustion.
Crash and Burn
If I don’t take a moment to refuel throughout the day, I am usually spent by the end of the day. No time left for me, him, the children. No one. Truth be told I am so tired of the daily crash and burn.
Stop and Pause.
Take notice of what is good right now. Be mindful of how great this moment is. It’s a beautiful fall day. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, my coffee is strong and I am writing this post. Life is good. All is okay.
Take a Energizing Breathe.
Not working? Can’t get there? Mind is too wound up with ruminating thoughts? Stop, pause, breathe. Breathe in for the count of 6, hold your breathe for 2 and release slowing through your mouth for 7.
Inspired by Others.
Be inspired by others. The women in front of me in Spinning class this morning had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery less than three months ago. The woman to the right of me teaches autistic children all week. They were sprinting way faster than I was. They completely inspired me.
Easy Access to Joy.
Deliberately create easy access to joy. Organize your home, office and car with refueling stations.
- Listen to a great podcast or audio book on your drive.
- Fill a full gallon of water with fresh lemon slices to drink throughout the day.
- Make a tray of energizing ice cubes. Mix 1 tablespoon of spirlulina with 12 oz of lime juice and freeze. Add two cubes to your water. Spirulina ice cubes idea from Dr. Oz. Add a bit of honey to the water to sweeten it up.
- Create a quiet haven in your home with books, a candle and a comfortable chair so you can sit and read for a while. This is like your own little refueling station.
Transition throughout Your Day. Create 4 Refuel Rituals to help you –
- Start your morning in a more powerful and energized way. Start with a little gratitude.
- Create a mid-day recharge ritual
- A work to home ritual without the alcohol.
- Finally, create a relaxation ritual to calm you down.
Enjoy an Energizing Snack.
One word: Chocolate
Do the One Thing and Do the Fun Thing.
When running through your tasks and to do’s for the day, be sure to include the one thing that you should have done months ago that is weighing you down with worry and the one fun thing that you keep putting off.
Fold your laundry. Clean out the junk drawer. Take everything off your desk. Organizing something makes you feel so in control, doesn’t it?
You can’t go wrong with Ellen. Here she is with Johnny Depp playing Never Have I Ever. Play a funny prank on someone. Seriously. Find something to laugh at or someone to laugh with. Read a funny book. Esquire Magazine’s list of funniest books ever here.
Buzz feed’s 25 Easy pranks to play here.
How do you refuel during the day? I am always looking for something fun, new and creative to try. Please share in the comments below.
Have you ever noticed how extremely grateful dogs seem to be when you throw them a bone or dish up their chow?
Like they are eating for the very first time.
Taking a moment of gratitude before each meal is a mindful and thoughtful approach to eating and enjoying time together. I’ve noticed a few times that this can make guests at the table a little uncomfortable. Perhaps they don’t want to say grace to a God they don’t know. Or perhaps they don’t know what to say, or maybe how to lead the prayer.
Saying grace or taking a moment to pause before dining together, can be as simple as bowing heads or holding hands and saying thank you to each other and the host. Each culture has a unique way to pray. One of my favorite mealtime prayers. . .
Let us be together; let us eat together.
Let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life.
Never shall we denounce anyone, never entertain negativity.
– The Upanishads
Okay, so here is my new If/Then algorithm for snacking. If I want a bag of salty Kettle chips, then I snack on cucumber slices with sea salt. I don’t think I will ever give up my search for nutrient dense snacks pack as much gratification as a bag of potato chips. I found this Zero Calorie Food chart today on Rodale’s site, (publishers of Prevention Magazine). Click here for the full article. With the exception of the celery, these foods are lower in calories than most. For example, a cup of apricot is about 79 calories.
If you are visiting New York this upcoming holiday season and you are looking for unique gifts or something special for yourself, I have three timeless and classic Manhattan favorites that are all so very close to each other and located in the Flatiron district right below Madison Park, home of the original Shake Shack, which by the way is open until Christmas. I’m curious, what are some of your favorite places to shop in your town/city village for kitchen tools and table settings?
Whisk at 933 Broadway
Fish Eddy’s 889 Broadway
ABC Carpet 888 Broadway
As I read many of your blogs I can see that we are on a similar path of questioning our lives, bettering ourselves and pursing our dreams. As I seek to accomplish the same, mine is a three part story and also an endless loop of lightening up, sparking joy and creating love. Creating a life that I love and that inspires the world.
Success So Far
Some of the less exciting details. In the past year I have lost 25 pounds, toned and strengthened my body, spent five to eight hours a day examining my values, thoughts and inner-conflicts while embracing a new lifestyle mindset of mindfulness and minimalism. All with the help of some of the best mentors, teachers, authors and leaders I can find.
Without going through the harrowing details of my personal backstory, the most important thing to know about me (that I think can help you) is that on July 18, 2014 I had had enough. Enough of everything, including –
- The exhausting “weight of the world” that I thought I held.
- Managing clients with entitled attitudes and bad business models.
- Rushing through my days without a moment to breath.
- Feeling like a worn, torn and tired door mat.
- Arguing and getting enraged at my family because I didn’t know how to ask for help.
- Tackling daily task lists that ran the length of a full page of Staple’s copy paper.
- Trying to play the role of super woman while managing everyone’s mess but my own.
Change don’t come easy.
I honestly believe it takes that amount of anger, pain and/or strong emotion to push someone out of a rut and/or from the false sense of security that society is trying to sell us to creating and designing a life that you love.
This type of energized and emotional fuel is what takes you from reading your hundredth self-help book filled with life hacks to actually taking action.
We are not what we think, or what we feel or what we say, we are what we do. Actions do indeed speak louder than words. If you are unhappy with a particular part of your life, take a strong look at what you are doing to be happier.
Part 1 Lightening Up
Symbolically, I think the added 25 pounds that I gained were due to the heaviness of life, daily strife and stress and uncertainty. I was caught in the spin cycle of success. That compounded with sitting at my desk for 10 hours, eating a mindless lunch and banging away at the keyboard with only face-to-screen interaction for most of the day that did me in.
My transformation began with –
- Getting up earlier each morning to make the time for me.
- Changing my habits and designing result rituals – daily, repeated steps towards my success.
- Remembering to rest, breathe and take a moment to come back to the present.
- Counting calories while eating low-fat nutrient dense foods.
- A powerful dose of daily cardio and strength training workouts.
- Scheduling a 10-20 minute vipassana meditation practice daily.
- Starting each day with a gratitude journal.
- A never-ending commitment to reading, learning and expanding my mind.
Part 2 Sparking Joy (where I am now)
It’s all about letting go. Realizing that perfect is the enemy of good. While it is important to have control over our lives, it can be counterproductive to attempt to control our lives. The energy spent trying to be perfect can keep us from enjoying and appreciating all the good things that exist right before us.
Which also means letting go of thoughts, things, people and habits that no longer spark joy in my life.
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
I am in the process of –
- Removing anything in my home and work environment that doesn’t give me a sense of true enjoyment.
- Guarding my time and my mind with my life. (Note: The 7-Day Mental Diet helps with the mind part)
- Detoxing my doubts and limiting beliefs about what I can actually achieve.
- Saying no instead of yes to people who want my time, even if the immediate rewards seem really great. My new motto, “If I don’t feel it, I don’t do it.”
“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Part 3 Creating Love
For me, creating love in my life begins with forgiving myself and others, no matter what my ego says.
Forgiving ourselves is a process that continues our whole life. We are so used to replaying the story of what is wrong with ourselves and others that living with a resentful, tight heart can become our most familiar way of being.
Thousands of times we might find ourselves caught in stories of what we are doing wrong. Thousands of times we might drop under our blame to where the deeper pain lives. With each round of freeing ourselves through forgiveness, we strengthen our recognition of our basic goodness.
If you have decided to make a change in your life, I would love to hear about your transformational process – what is working for you, books you are reading, workouts you love, films that have inspired with you.