Try-This Tuesday: Listen ‘Exquisitely’

This task is inspired by a most wonderful public speaking coaching session my co-authors of Heartmind Wisdom and I had yesterday with the amazing Ray Helm.

This wasn’t just any kind of public speaking coaching session; we went way beyond the typical speaking slowly into the microphone.  We went straight for connecting in relational presence and allowing the words to flow from the heartmind.  (What’s the heartmind?  It’s that love centre from which Life’s wisdom flows in and out and through us.)

Before we actually said a word in front of each other, we were taught to ‘listen exquisitely’.  This means remaining open, loving and receiving; it means not judging the content coming from the speaker (not even with a nod). 

What does listening have to do with speaking?  Everything.  Listening in this way, with undivided attention, and maintaining eye contact, creates a fertile environment for a relationship to grow.

By the way, this was the most difficult part for me!  Give me the microphone and I’ll tell you a story – but ask me to sit quietly while someone is talking and NOT respond?  I’m one of those crazy nodders when I’m totally with a speaker.  I “mmmhmmmm” out loud, too!  And if you’re saying anything that triggers the slightest excitement in me, depending on our relationship, I will cut you off to blurt it out.  (My husband is always asking me, “Can you let me finish?”)

At best, I will remain quiet on the outside but be formulating my response while you’re still talking.  Yes, I admit it!  What I learned yesterday was an excellent reminder of how important the listener’s role is in communicating, no matter what the relationship: parent-child, spouse-spouse, friend-friend etc.

And then when we practiced that – when we each stood at the front and had our turns at the microphone and as listeners – we were able to create this sticky, sweet space of mutual Love.  We were simultaneously a captivating audience and a scintillating speaker.  It’s the strangest phenomenon to try to describe – you need to practice it to really understand it.

So, how do you do that?  I’m going to tell you and I’m going to ask you to try it.  And if you have any inkling to share your story publicly or improve your communication skills, I would strongly recommend contacting Ray Helm at Speaking with Ease.

Grab a partner and sit on chairs facing each other, knee-to-knee.  Take turns as Person A and Person B.  Person A will speak first while Person B listens exquisitely, for three minutes.  Person A can speak or not speak (you can choose to just be in each other’s presence – but no making faces at each other…it’s not that kind of game!) while Person B simply receives.  Switch after three minutes.

Keep practicing it over a period of some time.  Once you get over the weirdness of being fully present with an honest-to-goodness human being (versus your smartphone, computer or what have you), you will discover how breath-taking it is to be One, with no end and no beginning.

 

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P.S. If you are interested in reading about relational presence, Ray recommended Be Heard Now by Lee Glickstein.  You can find it on Page 4 of the Inspirational/Healing/Educational section of my Amazon-powered bookstore by clicking here.

Try-This Tuesday: Find That Pause

How’s your day?  Busy?  Crazy?  (Those are usually the two answers I get from my husband…sometimes, it’s just one answer as in “Craaaazzzzyyy busy!”)  The busier it is, the crazier it is, the more you need to find time to do this:

 

It’s easy to get caught up in the to-do list, the ticking clock, the looming deadline…but what if I told you it’s just as easy to take a break, take a breath, among it all?

Here are a couple things you may want to try:

1.  Close the door.  Close your eyes.  Breathe in deeply.  Exhale fully.  Repeat.  Repeat again.  Repeat one more time just because it feels so darn good you won’t be able to help yourself.

2.  Take one of those activities you absolutely must do and turn it into a spiritual practice.  That’s right.  Who says you can’t om your way through the dishes?  Who says that drinking your tea can’t be an opportunity to express gratitude?  Rumi said, “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”  I say, drinking tea can be one of them.  So can making dinner.  I once felt gratitude while taking out the garbage!  I was bent over, pulling the stinky bag out of the can, noticed my feet and felt a wave of love for them and all they do for me.  And there was my pause.

What do you do to find pause?  Can you share it with us?  We’d love to hear about it!

 

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Try-This Tuesday: What If The What If Game Wasn’t So Bad?

You’ve heard it before:  “Don’t play the ‘What If’ game because there’s no point/it’s dangerous/it’s scary/etc.”

But what if the ‘What If’ game wasn’t so bad? 

In fact, what if it was pretty darn fun and exciting and liberating and full of hope?  Why can’t we just change the rules a little so that instead of imagining the worst case scenario, we can imagine the most incredible, out-of-this-world BEST case scenario and then start walking toward that reality?

Try it this week.  Take a situation that you are just boggled by and create a most delicious menu of possibilities; spread them all out before you and relish in what may be waiting for you.

What are some of your ‘what ifs’ and on what side of the fence are they? Do they take you to a place of fear or a place of hope?

Here’s an example from my life:  Sometimes before I hit publish on a particularly personal post, I think “What if I come across as weak?”  Changing that mind-set, it is so much easier to send my words out in the world if I think “What if someone is really moved by my experience and discovers they are not alone in their vulnerability?”

Another one is, “What if that physical symptom of mine leads to a scary diagnosis that will impact my family’s lives?”  I’m learning that “What if this ache is my body’s way of saying ‘Live and love every day'” is a more empowering message.

What if everything you experience is for your own highest good? 

 

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Try-This Tuesday: Back To The Drawing Board

Does this ever happen to you?  You’re excited about an idea you have and then you decide to do a little research on the internet.  You know – just to see if the idea already exists in some form.  You type some words in to Google, get directed to someone’s website, read their blog, click on a link, and then another one, and then you get caught up in someone else’s idea and wonder why you didn’t think of it first and so on.  That’s happened to me…um… a few times.  And every time I’ve ended up further away from my own unique creation and have lost precious time in the process.

The only way for me to not get distracted from my own dreams and vision is to turn off the computer and literally, go back to the drawing board.  I have had some great brainstorming sessions with a doodle pad and pencil crayons.  I do prefer words to pictures when I’m trying to pin down my thoughts but occasionally I’ll doodle a little something while I’m letting my mind wander.

When it’s just me and paper I am so much more open to incoming ideas; I can literally hear myself think and I have the opportunity to sit blankly and relax into my breathing.  I can’t be knocked off my log.

This week, I invite you to try that.  If you are prone to surfing the net to get ideas or if you find that you are spending too much time connected to “what’s out there” in cyberspace, take a break and go back to the drawing board.  That could be your journal, an easel with a doodle pad or canvas, or it could be an armchair that offers you quiet and stillness.

 

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Re-Run! Try-This Tuesday: What Do You Need?

Good morning, everyone, and happy Tuesday!  Here’s a re-run from not too long ago – if you missed it the first time around, here’s your chance to explore it today.  If you already tried this out in April when it was originally posted, have a go at it again this week and see if anything’s changed.

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All my life I kept shut about a million things that were important to me.  I hid behind fear, anxiety, shame.  This completely goes against my nature because if there’s one thing we INFJs are, it’s passionate about what we believe in.

All my life I struggled to use my voice.  Recently, I figured out why.  I never had a microphone!  🙂  No, seriously!  I can’t believe how much I love the microphone and the stage and being able to share my convictions with an audience.  Or even just to be able to share myself.

 

You would think an introvert would resist the spotlight and to an extent that’s true.  It’s not the spotlight that I crave, it’s the attention to my message that motivates me to say ‘yes’ to opportunities of sharing in front of an audience.

After I say ‘yes’, I get the full-meal anxiety deal going on.  I may not sleep the night before, or the night after.  Every pore in my body sweats.  Prior to my presentation, I have to gulp down water so that my throat remains moist (and then pray for a bathroom at an opportune time).  I get hot and cold at the same time.  I’m just not comfortable.  But I’m happy. 

I’m so happy I could weep.

What about you?  What is it that you need to do what you so desperately want to do?  Is there one thing?  Or ten?  Have you made a list yet?  That’s what today’s task is.

Get out a piece of paper or your journal.  You can start with something like In order to __________, I need __________.  Or use a variation of that.

If you’re having trouble with either of the blanks, sit in quiet for a few minutes after you’ve asked your question:  What do I need to do?  What do I need to do it?  Ask them one at a time.  When you get the answer to the first, ask the second question.

If you would like to run anything by me – troubles or blissful moments with this task, or any of the others – please contact me.  I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Try-This Tuesday: Cease Fire!

I heard a term on the radio last week: the silent war.  It refers to the phenomenon that many mothers experience; as we become more entrenched in motherhood, we lose our identity as individuals.  The deejay went on to explain that eventually mothers have a difficult time answering questions like “What was the last book you finished?” or “When was the last time you did something that was fun for just you?”  I understand this.  In fact, Let ME Out!! was born from this.  In another post I will illustrate this point and offer my own examples and suggestions.  But there is something else I feel compelled to talk about today.  And yes, there is a task for you that follows!

It’s the term “the silent war” that bugs me.  Our society is so hell-bent on fighting everything – from cancer to acne, from body types to the weeds in our gardens.  We compete with ourselves and our classmates, then we put on bigger armour and grab larger weapons and climb those proverbial ladders till we get to the top.  We battle deadlines and stronghold our relationships.  We beat ourselves up for wanting what we want and needing what we need.  We “fight the urge” and “kill our appetites” and wage war on everything.

You get the picture.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.

This week I want you to look at all of the things you are choosing to go up against.  (Yes, choosing.  It’s always your choice.)

Write them down.  And then lay it all down.  Lay down the weapons, the iron will, the need to control everything.  Whatever ammunition you use against yourself, your body, your significant others, lay it down and step away.

After doing that, after ceasing fire and calling truce, how do these situations look to you now?  Is there a gentler approach?  A kinder method?  A way to accept the situation for what it is and then pour some love right into it?

Start with one thing, then work your way over to another.  Do it at your own pace.  There’s no race, no one panting down your shoulder, no one you need to catch up with or beat.  Just love yourself enough to try this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  What are you fighting that you no longer need to?

 

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Try-This Tuesday: How Do I Love ME?? Let Me Count The Ways…

Ahhh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, you sure could rock a poem.  (I hope you don’t mind how I made that slight but significant change from thee to ME.  It just had to be done!)

Love has been on my mind lately.  In particular, self-love.  We’ve talked before about writing love letters to ourselves and we’ve differentiated between the words self-love and selfish.  It is a concept that is fundamental to my beliefs and to my blog; indeed, it seems to be the theme for my life’s work and I’m finally coming to terms with it.  Even embracing it.  The idea that we must know ourselves and love ourselves in order for everything to fall into place is not new.  I would go so far as to say that this is innate knowledge, common sense to, what I call on this blog, our creative Self and what others call their Soul, authentic Self, true Self, unconditioned Self etc.

Hay House founder and author, Louise Hay, summarizes it well in her book, You Can Heal Your Life:

“When we love, accept, approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works.  Our health improves, we attract more money, our relationships become much more fulfilling and we begin to express ourselves in creatively fulfilling ways”

It makes sense, doesn’t it?  It’s not about recreating or changing yourself, but about remembering and honouring your Self as we talked about here.

[Tweet “You don’t need to change, you just need to love the heck out of yourself.  “]

So, how does one do that?  Well, I think it looks different for everyone.  It depends on what you, in your uniqueness, need.

Today, I’d like you to count the ways you love yourself.  Literally.  Get out a piece of paper and a pen and make a numbered list of ways that you show yourself you are totally worth being loved and cared for.  They can be piddly little things that would appear totally insignificant to someone else.  Or they can be gigantic shows of affection that most people could appreciate.  I’ll start my list here and then keep going in my own journal – this is just to give you an idea of the kinds of things that are important to ME that make ME feel loved.

  • I respect myself as a writer by making it part of my outer identity and nurturing that part of me daily.
  • I bought myself blue nail polish just because I really like blue nail polish.
  • I am hiring part time childcare to help me stay balanced and sane.
  • I dance in my kitchen almost every day.  I don’t just mean I bop my head to the beat…I mean, I’m on a stage, dancing for a very appreciative audience!  And I’m not shy about accepting the applause!

You get the picture, right?  Some of these acts didn’t require a lot of psychological prep work, and some things required many sleepless nights and pep talks.

What’s on your list?  Can you share one or two with us here?  We’d love to hear it!

Speaking of showing love – voting for Top Mom Blogger Vancouver 2012 began yesterday and runs through until June 4.  If you’d like to take a look at all 30 nominees, and vote for up to 5 of your favourites, please click here.  I appreciate your support of mom bloggers!

Try-This Tuesday: Do It For The First Time

Happy Tuesday, dear Readers!  We have a lot of new readers stopping by lately and I want to give you all a big welcome!

VancouverMom.ca is holding its annual Top Mom Blogger contest and I’m thrilled and still a bit shocked to find myself among the top 30!  I’ve been meeting some of the other top mom bloggers and wow, I am in fabulous company!  There is a voting process that begins May 28 – for those of you interested in placing a vote, I will post the details when I have them.  This is also the perfect time for me to thank you, my loyal Readers, for making this blog what it is.  You put the “top” in top mom blogger 🙂

Today, being Tuesday, I have a suggested task for you.  (For newcomers, please see the Tuesday Tasks page where you will find plenty more of these creativity tasks – and if you subscribe to my blog you get an entire year’s worth, in an eBook, for free!).

Have a look at your I’d-love-to-for-the-first-time list and get to one of the items this week.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, just something that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t got around to.

Here’s what I did.  I have always wanted to try making my own household disinfectant.  I like the idea of using environmentally (and human lung friendly) cleaners but kept putting off making my own because I didn’t have: a proper recipe, an empty spray bottle, white vinegar (didn’t think balsamic would quite suit the purpose) etc.

The Universe gave me a nudge in the right direction by having me write an article called Easy Eco-friendly Effective Spring Cleaning for South Asian Woman magazine.  In my research I came across dozens of easy recipes for homemade disinfectants and chose this one:

9 parts water

1 part white vinegar

a few drops of lavender essential oil

I finally did it.  I bought an empty spray bottle and the white vinegar.  I already had the essential oil at home.  It works like a charm, smells great and most of all gives me total satisfaction in having completed something from my I’d-love-to-for-the-first-time list.  The crazy thing is, it took no time at all – I just had to remember to add a couple things to my weekly shopping list.  And yet, it felt like a huge accomplishment.  I have to admit, trying new things is becoming a thrill for me.

I want you to feel that this week too. 

What’s on your list?  What can you tackle this week?  What do you need to help you take those first steps?

 

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Try-This Tuesday: Realize The Power Of A Single Thought

Do you ever get in a bad mood?  Ever feel low?  Down?  Frustrated?  Annoyed?  Upset?  Angry?  Yeah, me too, sometimes.  I have come across some neat tricks to help me turn those moods around.  Note: This does not mean ignore the issue at hand.  It simply means I pick myself up to a place where I can better deal with said issue.  Do you remember when I asked you to get your happy self down on paper?  That’s still a tool I recommend.  Here’s another I picked up from Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson at the I Can Do It! Vancouver conference earlier this month:

The moment you realize you are feeling less than great, ask yourself: “What can I think right now that will make me feel better?”  Begin with gratitude.  Always, begin with gratitude.  It is really easy to find at least one thing you can be thankful for.

The other day I was taking out the garbage which is not really my favourite thing to do.  This was a particularly nasty bag, it was the end of a really long day and all I wanted to do was get in my pyjamas and crawl into bed.  As I leaned over to wrestle the overstuffed plastic out of the unforgiving container, I noticed my feet – the feet I loathed as a teenager for being too big to look pretty in sandals, the feet I crammed into shoes too narrow just because they were fashionable.  Suddenly, I saw them for what they truly are: companions that have carried me throughout my whole life, everywhere I have been.  In that really bizarre moment hovering over a stinky bag of chicken scraps and diapers, I loved my feet.  I felt a certain endearment toward them for never failing me despite how I have treated them.  I even felt comfort at knowing that these feet will be with me in some form or other for the rest of my time here on earth.  Thank you, feet, I love you.  (Honest to God, I said that in my head!)  I was so wrapped up in this grateful feeling, I couldn’t even remember feeling tired and annoyed just moments before.

You try it.  The first step is to notice when you’re in a foul mood.  Really notice it.  Sometimes we are overcome with a negative emotion and we embrace it and hug it and dig ourselves deeper into it without even realizing we’re doing that.  Once you become aware of your mood, ask yourself what you can think right now that will make you feel better.  Keep it simple.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, right?  I mean…FEET!

Try this for an entire day this week.  It doesn’t just work for getting you through household chores – it helps when you’ve been hurt by someone else, when you’re anxious about a future event, when you’re regretful over the past…so though it is simple, don’t underestimate its weight.

Was it tricky?  Or easier than you thought it would be?  Share your experiences here with us!  And of course, don’t just stop at one day.  Make it a daily habit – it gets easier with practice.

 

 

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Try-This Tuesday: Work Out Your Vocab Muscles

To get in to graduate school for speech-language pathology, I had to take the Graduate Record Examination.  As soon as I found out I passed, I made plans to rid myself of the bulky workbooks and the memories they held of torturous evening classes and daily practice.  But I knew I would not throw out the vocabulary flashcards.  Those were a gift.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out that an entire section of the exam was based on vocabulary words: their definitions, usage and related words.  We get to play word games?!  Almost made up for the math.  Almost.

Anyway, this morning I pulled out the stack of about 200 cards from between my literary journals and my copy of the 2009 Writer’s Market and shuffled them up.  For fun, I pulled out 3 cards.  Today I’m challenging you to use at least one of these words in writing or conversation…particularly if you don’t use it normally.  If these words happen to be a part of your lexicon already, choose one that you don’t use or don’t know the meaning of.  Get to know the meaning and then be bold!  Throw the word into a conversation with a colleague, your neighbour, your spouse.  Toss it into your work-in- progress if you’re a writer.  How did it work for you?

Here are the words:

1.  taciturn:  silent, not talkative

2.  prevaricate:  to lie or deviate from the truth

3.  propitiate:  to conciliate, to appease

If you like this sort of thing, I encourage you to make it a daily practice.  You can click here to learn a new word every day!

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