Try-This Tuesday: A Look At Your Ultimate Ending

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you a question:  How Do YOU Say Goodbye?  This is an important question for you to consider because in every change or transition we undergo (and there are countless in our lifetime), the first step is an ending.  Something has to end in order for something to begin.  Grieving an ending, taking the time to really understand the loss of something, can make a huge difference in the way we embrace a beginning.

It has been said that every ending is akin to the death of something:  a relationship, an era, a paradigm, to name a few.

So today, let’s look at the ultimate ending in any life time.  The death of a physical body.

Yours.

Oooohhhh, I know some of you are tempted to click the heck right out of this post.  Not comfortable with endings?  Or just this one in particular?  You’re not alone.  Consider yourself lucky that you can examine this ending right now and remember that analyzing the ending of something always allows you to benefit from a more conscious beginning of something else.

It might help to take a teeny tiny step outside of yourself for this one.  Let’s imagine that you are actually NOT you, that you are a close friend of yours – someone who knows you quite well.  This friend has the duty of writing your obituary.

Look at your life and write an obituary as if your life ended today.  You can include all the typical details of your family, birth place etc.  But the meat of it, the revealing part of this, is going to be how you fill in the following blank:

At the time of death, he/she was________.

How are you going to complete that thought?  She was…stuck in a dead-end job?  He was…living his dream life?

If you are totally uncomfortable writing this down, no worries.  You will benefit from this exercise just by thinking about it.  By the way, this exercise comes from William Bridges’ book Transitions but I’m sure we have all heard some variation of this.  You know, like if today was the last day of your life, would you feel satisfied with your accomplishments/where you are to date – that kind of thing.

As you turn this around in your head, answer the following questions (in your journal, if you can – I’ll log them in Writing Prompts for you to refer to):

  • Was it easy to fill in the blank?
  • How did your response to the incomplete statement make you feel?
  • If your response was not positive, what would you have LIKED to be able to say about your life at this point?
  • What are some steps you can take to achieving this fulfilling state?
  • Has this exercised changed something for you?  Your outlook on your current life?  Your relationships?  The way you spend your time?  Your thoughts?

Try-This Tuesday: When Did You Last…??

The following task is one of my favourites from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  I’m suggesting it for today’s Tuesday Task because it is a sure-fire way to:

a) remember the little things you enjoy and

b)get a good gauge for how long it’s been since you’ve enjoyed them.

Grab a sheet of paper and number it down the left hand side from 1-20.  Beside each number write something that you enjoy doing, even if it’s something you haven’t done in awhile.  After you have listed your 20 items, go back to the first one and ask yourself, “When was the last time I did this?” and then write down a specific year or date that you remember last doing this.

I did this task in January 2009.  A couple of the activities I’d listed that day I hadn’t engaged in in 9 or 10 years (going to the beach by myself which I talk about here, and attending poetry readings).  It was nice to see that there were some things I had done in my recent past that were meaningful to me (reading, baking for friends, dreaming about the future, researching on the ‘net).  That was actually very important for me – to see that I was still connected to some of my hobbies.  It wasn’t all dim!

Have fun with this one and don’t be discouraged if your list is full of activities you haven’t done in years!

This is a great starting point for goals you can set for yourself.  For example, that poetry reading…it did take me another year to get to a reading but by the following year (January 2011) I actually read my work at one!  Sometimes when you write things down, you don’t realize what kinds of events you are setting in motion!

And don’t forget to smile about the things you are currently doing for yourself when you get to them.  I know it’s not easy to juggle it all and to manage the few minutes of reading or sewing that you get.  Enjoy every minute of it!

If you’d like to share some of the items on your list, feel free to post a comment!

Inner Artist? Creative Self? A Bunch Of Mumbo-Jumbo??

I used to hear phrases like “inner artist” and “your creative Self” and think they were just gimmicks to promote some sort of airy-fairy workshop in which people sat around and envisioned themselves floating like butterflies in a grassy meadow dotted with buttercups.  I pictured an otherwise bored and under-stimulated group of people sitting around a strangely garbed “guru” who spouted nonsense about limitless potential and cosmic bliss.  At some point in the workshop everyone would be encouraged to dance to the rhythm of their bodies, or grab some sort of clay or paint or crayon and make a mess.  And then, THEN, the guru would clap her jewelled hands to gather some sort of collective attention and suggest a group hug.  Of course, this would be followed by placing mats on the floor for a short re-connection with the earth…or a nap…

WAIT!!  I think I just described my typical day in Kindergarten!  I think I’m on to something here!  I DID go to “inner artist, your creative self” type workshops…only it was called Kindergarten and I loved it!

I loved my classmates, I especially loved my huggy-lovey-dovey teacher who made me feel like I could do ANYTHING in the world!  My friends and I flitted about the carpet area, arms (wings) flapping wildly and then we dropped to the floor when we heard the song call out a colour we were wearing.

I had so much fun playing with play-doh and dress-up clothes and I did enjoy quiet times on my mat, too.  I used to grab a book from the wooden bookshelf and settle down on my tummy and stare at the pictures.  My favourite was when the music teacher would come with her guitar and the whole room would vibrate with song.

Really cool stuff. 

(By the way, I’ve been in a Kindergarten classroom recently and they don’t do these things much anymore; Kindergarten is really academic now.  What I’ve described is probably seen in daycare/preschool  settings – y’know, for really little kids).

So then what happened?  Well, YOU know what happened. 

It happened to you, too! 

That little kid, that *gasp* inner artist, got stuffed deep inside this grown up exterior!  And I don’t know about YOUR *gasp* creative Self but mine gets MAD, RESENTFUL and FRUSTRATED when I ignore it.  I actually forgot it existed at some point along the way and couldn’t understand why I started feeling so trapped, bored and totally uninspired.

Everything went from colour to black and white, from fun to routine and I didn’t know how to get out of the box I was trapped in…until I started feeling that crazy urge to write.  So I started writing again in my journal, and jotting down bits of story ideas and character sketches that kept popping into my head.

HERE’S THE KEY:  I didn’t start feeling those urges or hearing those ideas until I spent a little time in QUIET!

For me, that meant the times I was breast-feeding my daughter.  I was forced to sit still.

And then I found myself buying oil pastels and I found an old (and mostly empty) doodle book I used to sketch in.  I used to like doing that, going to the beach by myself and stare out at the water and just doodle.  I always thought I must have looked like I totally knew what I was doing, which I didn’t and still don’t.  Oddly enough, though, I just think it’s fun to make marks on paper.  But I stopped doing that.

Not a good idea. 

The inner artist is a force to be reckoned with.  Ignore it at your own peril!  I KNOW when I have not let my creative self play for awhile; in fact, my whole family knows.  They don’t like it when I am annoyed, impatient and resentful any more than I enjoy feeling that way.

Appeasing my creative Self takes minutes a day.

For everyone, the release is different:  What do you think is fun?  If time or space were not issues, what would you do that was purely magical fun?  Can you think of 5 things?  Write them down in your journal or task binder if you can.  Is it totally unreasonable to fit a few minutes of one such activity into your day?  If finding the time is an issue, and you would like to figure out how to solve the elusive time puzzle, send me an email.  You can still enter to win the free coaching package (11 days left!).  See rules at the bottom of this post!

Try-This Tuesday: How Do YOU Say Goodbye?

“I need to make a change.”  “Something needs to change.”  “I don’t know what to change.”

In order for a change to happen, there are 3 phases to go through, according to William Bridges’ book Transitions.  The first is an ending, then comes a muddled-up period of things like confusion, growth, and uncertainty which gives way to the third phase, a beginning.

Today, let’s start with endings.  We often are so focused on the fact that we are transitioning TO something that we forget to start by looking at what is ending.  When we ignore what is ending, we don’t give ourselves the opportunity for closure.

Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to grieve an ending because we think it is shameful or unproductive or otherwise frowned upon.  We may already be in the beginning phase of something wonderful and, therefore, think it is pointless to look back.  For example, when a woman enters motherhood she may be unprepared for some of the feelings that arise once the reality of the responsibility of a child sets in.  She may not be willing to admit that she cries for the freedom she once had, or envies her childless friends who stop by for a visit and then head out for an evening of exciting plans.  This is very confusing for someone who always wanted to be a mother, and who is in love with this sweet little being.  BUT AN ENDING LEFT UNEXAMINED NEVER GOES AWAY!!  Until the sadness over her loss of freedom is confronted, it will only start popping up in other areas of her life for years to come.

Another example is the transition of a long-anticipated career move.  A fabulous promotion or an entirely novel and exciting career is a great beginning.  But let’s look at what could have possibly ended.  Maybe this promotion means travelling on alternate weekends which could end a tradition of Friday family movie nights.  Or a new career could mean working solo from a home office instead of in a building filled with colleagues and friends.  Though the shift is full of enormous potential, there is something to say good-bye to.

Even if we are leaving behind a totally undesirable situation (an abusive relationship, a rough neighbourhood or an uninspiring job) our bodies and minds need to come to terms with this change in daily routine.  Human beings have this way of becoming so conformed to a state that movements in this state (be they tremors or ground-breaking quakes) can do a number on us.  Acknowledging the goodbye is beneficial; an unresolved ending will show up over and over again.

In general, we tend to deal with endings in characteristic ways.  Some of us (me included) are clingers – holding on to the goodbye and then looking back constantly over our shoulders.  Others are avoiders – they take off before the word “goodbye” can even be uttered.  One way isn’t better than the other; they both have pros and cons.

When I say I’m a clinger, this is what I mean.  When I was a toddler and a young child, I cried every time someone left our house after a gathering.  I had to say goodbye to every room of every house I lived in when we moved (and we moved a lot).  I have had a tough time letting go of friendships that have morphed into distant acquaintances.  I am hyper-sensitive to changes in seasons, noting with hawk-like intensity the change in daylight, the changes in the earth and temperature differences.  I used to get anxious about ringing in the new year; in fact, I never was keen about going out and celebrating it because it was such an odd feeling to be standing on the brink of a brand new calendar year and to leave behind 365 days of another year.  These are just a few examples off the top of my head.

The good news is this has settled down!  I don’t cry now when people leave my house.  I may wish the event didn’t have to end but I have learned to quickly turn that around by planning another one!  The last house I moved out of I said a “thank you and goodbye” at the front door, appreciative of all it had given me.  But no tears.  The changes in seasons still make me feel unsettled for a period but looking forward to plans I make usually squelches the yuckies.  And committing to my goals and watching my children grow make new years more welcome.

Understanding how I deal with endings is a tool I use to navigate my transitions.  I can look at the great parts of how I say goodbye and help myself deal with the rest of it.  That’s why I’m encouraging you to do the same.

For today’s task, think about (and write about if you can) the way YOU say goodbye.  How do YOU say goodbye – to relationships, to seasons, to celebratory occasions, to homes…to anything, really?  Go as far back into your childhood as you can – think about major events (parents’ divorce, moving homes, graduating high school etc) and minor events (haircuts, switching grocery stores etc).  Ask yourself:

  • How have I dealt with endings in the past?
  • How do I deal with goodbyes now?
  • What are some of the benefits that I see in how I end things?
  • What might not be serving me in my goodbye process?

I hope this task is as revealing for you as it was for me!  If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.  You can comment below or click here to send me an email.

Can’t Find The Time? Read THIS While Watching Your Child’s Swim Lesson! PLUS: A Contest Giveaway!!

HERE’S A GREAT REASON WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS POST:  The first Let ME Out contest giveaway is announced at the bottom!!  (The actual post may be useful, too, so keep reading!)

I know it’s not Tuesday, but let’s look back to a post called Try-This Tuesday: Gaining Control Of Your Time.  I’ll give you a few minutes to read it and then come back!  I want to explore this a little further in light of the wonderful response I am getting from you, dear Readers.

Our relationship with Time is much like our relationship with a living, breathing thing.  We have to check in on it, examine it, make changes, respect it and respect ourselves in the process.  For example, you may recall that while I was telling you about how I fill my work week I heard a voice tell me “Yeah, but you don’t exercise.”  That voice was allowed to be heard because I was checking in and examining my relationship with Time.  I am now in the process of making changes by delegating some of my fundraising work and devoting scheduled hours to exercise.  I respect that I have a certain amount of Time to work with and I respect myself by filling my Time appropriately.

This is a constant process.  For example, I have suddenly found myself with some extra Time in the mornings thanks to the God of Carpools.  So I have to sit down again and examine what I want to do with that time.  Otherwise, if I don’t have a concrete plan, I end up starting 10 things and accomplishing nothing.  Likewise, an unexpected event may take away Time from me in any given day which will force me to re-examine my weekly To-Do list.

But let’s get back to YOUR relationship with Time.  If you haven’t examined your relationship with Time yet, that’s the first step.  If you are wondering where you will get the Time to do that, here are some suggestions:

  • Whatever it is that you do before bed, stop doing it 20-30 minutes before and do this task
  • Wake up 20 minutes earlier
  • Take 20 minutes out of your lunch break if you get a full hour
  • Can you get someone else to pick up/drop off your children to their activities?
  • How about while they’re at their activities?

And here’s one that will get me Mother of the Year:  when you are supposed to be watching your child at his/her swim lesson and all they are doing is swimming back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…pull out a little notebook (carry one with you if you already don’t ) or open up a new memo in your BlackBerry and DO IT!  You paid for this half hour – make it work for you!  I’m not even joking.  I mean, look up once in awhile, right?

As the task prescribes, once you know what you currently do with Time, decide what needs to change.  DE-CLUTTER your schedule first.  Get rid of commitments that you really don’t need to commit to.  Not as easy as it sounds, much like throwing away that horrific vase your great-aunt gave you 15 years ago is not as easy as it should be.

Once you de-clutter your schedule – even by one item –  you will find pockets of Time to allot to the things you can never seem to find time for.

By the way, what is it that you wish you had more time for?  Share it with us in a comment below.

AND NOW…ANNOUNCING…The Let ME Out Contest Giveaway!!

I am offering a FREE series of four coaching sessions to 3 readers!  The Let ME Out introductory coaching package will help YOU identify YOUR goals, YOUR strengths, YOUR path…and of course, we’ll look at de-cluttering the heck out of your life to get that creativity flowing!

ENTER TO WIN by submitting a contact form – tell me WHY you would like to win this coaching package in a short paragraph.  Here’s the creative part:  You have to use the word “sunshine” in your entry.  The 3 entries with the most creative use of this word will be selected!

Contest closes September 30, 2011.  Winners will be contacted by email on October 3, 2011.

I look forward to reading your entries and even more so to working with YOU!

Try-This Tuesday: Out With The Old, In With The New

Lately, I have been stuck on change.  (If that isn’t a paradox, I don’t know what is.)  I have been receiving messages from people who want to talk about a change in their lives: transitions they are in the midst of, events that they hope to have happen; the conversation inevitably leads to their feeling of being stuck.

This I can totally relate to.

In fact, I almost fell off my chair while reading Transitions by William Bridges in which he describes a phase of murky confusion that exists between the ending of one event and the beginning of another.  I had just finished describing to someone close to me this very phenomenon that I have been experiencing increasingly over the past year.  I couldn’t believe how true to this theory I fit.  I have become so accustomed to this “whirling eddy” that I call it, that now I almost get excited about it.  I know it leads to something wonderful even if at the moment all it is doing is giving me a headache and possibly insomnia.  So when I am approached by people who are in that state I feel equally excited and tell them this – I’m sure they’re glad that somebody thinks this turmoil is beneficial.  (FYI, here’s a definition of eddy that absolutely describes how I feel in that state:  A current, as of water or air, moving contrary to the direction of the main current, especially in a circular motion.)

I am going to spend a few posts talking about this and giving you tools to discover your relationship with change.  But first things first.

It can be difficult to think about change when we feel stuck.  So, today I want to focus on blocked creative energy or that feeling of being stuck.  As summer ends and fall begins (an ending and a beginning are the 2 other phases of a transition), this is a Tuesday Task to get the energy flowing even if it just begins as a trickle escaping from behind a dam.  We have been hearing about the benefits of de-cluttering for awhile now.  De-cluttering your space = de-cluttering your mind.  It makes room for grand ideas and positive energy.  It’s been made popular by those home improvement shows in which a Type-A personality comes in and has homeowners reduced to tears and only one box of memories that they are allowed to keep.  While I think this is a great long-term idea, for today’s task I am suggesting you give away one item that you have been holding on to for some time that you really don’t need.  A-ha…there’s that tricky word “need”.  When I say you don’t need it, I mean you never use it, it doesn’t go with your decor, if you didn’t have it you wouldn’t be the least bit crippled.  That kind of thing.

Select your item, say adios and thanks for the good times and toss it into your donation bag.  We keep a large, black garbage bag in my husband’s closet in which we drop clothes and household items when the itch to get rid of something creeps up on us.  Then we head to the closest thrift store when it’s full.  By the way, my de-cluttering is more like rampage style.  One item so does not do it for me and with practice I have gotten very good at chucking without lingering.  

Don’t look back.  If you think you may be prone to going back into the bag, get rid of the item right away.  But I think that you are going to enjoy the feeling so much that you may even toss out something else…and something else.  Practice this regularly.  You’d be surprised where energy gets stuck.  I’m a firm believer that the act of physically moving energy around in your environment stimulates changes within.  Try it and let me know what you think!

Pull out your journal or your task binder and answer the following prompts (also logged here):

  • Which item did you select and why?
  • Did any particular emotion get stirred up as you tossed it into your donation bag?
  • Do you see yourself doing this more often?  A major overhaul over a couple weekends?  One or two items every week?
  • Over the next week, note any changes in your state (physical, mental, emotional) since tossing this item.  If you haven’t noticed anything…keep tossing!

Try-This Tuesday: Spend Time With Someone Who Adds To Your Self

Dead or alive, there are people in our life who have given us valuable gifts – who have shaped us, inspired us and empowered us.  These people may be our relatives, our friends, famous people we have never met or random strangers.  It is important to take some time every so often and reflect on who these people are to us, what they bring to us and what we can do with the gifts they have given.

This week, I encourage you to do just that.  Because I love lists, that’s what I am going to do.  I am going to make a list of everyone who has inspired me or taught me something wonderful and then beside their name I am going to write about their gift to me. 

For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. taught me that I can have a beautiful dream and that I can use my voice, my inner strength and my integrity to achieve it.  Though he was a famous civil rights leader who I have never met, he has added positively to my view of my capabilities and my world.

I also learned about dedication from my grandmother who sat in meditation virtually every morning of her adult life up until the morning of her fatal heart attack in her 80’s.  When I picture her setting her alarm clock for 4 am, or sitting up in bed with her blankets hugging her shoulders, the word “commitment” dances around that image.  Other words she has inspired are devotion, spiritual love, strength, “suck it up” (I’m sure there’s one fabulous word for that phrase but those are the words I relate to her) and transcend.  She was devoted to her practice of meditation, she engaged in spiritual conversations with anyone who would listen, she lived on her own during her golden years and pushed past cancer, and other physical ailments without major complaints.  She sucked it up.  And I believe she transcended this world, not just on the day she died, but many times throughout this lifetime.

I know that nobody is without fault and I have learned not to put anyone on a pedestal.  In fact, that kind of makes the people on my list even more admirable because they are just regular people like me with some shining qualities.

After you have made your list, look it over and see if there is at least one person on that list who you could spend some time with in the near future.  Schedule it in!!  Is it a friend, family member, colleague?  Maybe go for coffee, or a meal, or a walk and just be with that person.  You may even want to tell them about your list and why they are on it.  How awesome would that feel for both of you?!  If the person you choose is no longer alive, you can still spend some time in their presence by writing a letter to them, dedicating some time to thinking about them, or by telling someone else about them and their gifts.  If the person you choose is famous and alive you could write them a letter telling them why you admire them, or read about their life story.  Is the person famous and dead?  I like reading Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi quotes.  Connecting with someone’s words is powerful.

When I spend time with someone, whether physically or mentally, who inspires me I feel a little more empowered.  When I see people do great things, I believe that I can do great things too.  When I see people BE great things, then I know I can BE great too.  And by the way, “great” does not necessarily mean freeing a people from oppression; “great” can be eating well, tending a beautiful garden or having the energy to take their kids on field trips.  I admire those things just as much!

When releasing your creative Self it is so helpful to reflect on the qualities you admire.  Chances are, you have them too and that is why you are drawn to these qualities.  Time to let them shine!

After completing your list and your follow-up activity, answer the following prompts in your journal or task binder:

  • How did writing about the inspirational people in your life make you feel?  What thoughts came out of this part of the exercise?
  • What have you done in your life using the gifts that these wonderful people have given you?
  • What would you like to do with these gifts?
  • Which gifts would you like to pass on to others?  To your kids?
  • Did you do the follow-up activity?  Write about it – who you chose and why, how you honoured them, what was their reaction?

I love hearing your comments and personal stories!  Thank you for sharing!

Give ME Some Space!

Something really fun is happening this week – and it’s been about 15 years in the making!

When I first started college, I used to write what I called “imaginations” in my journal.  Essentially, those were the beginnings of my wishful journalling:  when I write about the things I want to have happen in my life.  One such “imagination” was about owning my own condo overlooking the ocean; sailboats and seagulls filled the view in my mind’s eye as I sank my toes in my soft, white rug.  I was surrounded by cd’s and a fabulous stereo system, countless books and bright pillows to flop onto at leisure.  Yes, in my industrious “imagination” life where I wore cashmere sweaters and drove to my executive job in my blue BMW by day, I had plenty of time to enjoy my favourite hobbies by night.  I loved that room that I imagined so much that even now, I feel like it must exist somewhere.  It’s so real. 

In my imagination, that space has evolved as I have “grown up”.  After I got married, I started imagining my special room as a crafts room.  By then I had discovered that I was actually quite interested in artsy-craftsy hobbies like scrapbooking, card-making and painting.  So, my “imagination” crafts room took on bright orange walls, organized shelving and a large crafts table.  The room changed a lot but the feeling did not; that feeling of having all of my favourite things within reach, in my own personal space that nobody else could claim.

Less than two and a half years ago when we decided to start looking for our second home, my husband and I made a list of all the features we were looking for in our ideal home.  “Crafts room” was right up there for me.  I hadn’t had one yet and it wasn’t optional in this next dwelling.  I started imagining again what this room would look like in the particular neighbourhood we were interested in.  I decided I wanted French doors going into the room and another set of French doors leading to a wraparound porch on the other side of the room.  I wanted it on the main floor.  There had to be room to see my clients as well as space for my arts and crafts supplies.  Enough room to be ME.

I am writing to you from this room tonight:  two sets of French doors, a wraparound porch, a therapy table (that easily becomes a crafts table), a writing desk, storage for my supplies and therapy material, an easel, and a reading chair.  I immediately called this room my “studio” rather than crafts room or office.  It just seemed to fit.  The room sounds huge, but it’s not.  It’s just enough room to be ME, though, and THIS WEEK marks the beginning of its transformation to really look like ME.

Right now, the walls are a chocolate brown.  There’s nothing wrong with chocolate or the colour brown, but on my walls it doesn’t work.  It makes me sleepy.  So does the lighting.  I am having a hard time seeing my keys as I type this.  My storage space is not so organized, there is a filing cabinet that is taking up way too much space and is too large for what I need.  There isn’t anything really pretty in this room and I like pretty things.  Basically, this room does not truly reflect who I am, aesthetically speaking.

With significant help from my friend who is starting her own interior design business, these walls are going to gleam in a sophisticated Revere Pewter.  There is going to be bling hanging from the ceiling and on the desk that is going to allow me to type without straining my eyes…and of course, it’ll represent the clarity I am looking for and the sparkly feminine side of me.  Dimensions will be added to the windows and seat covers via beautiful fabric, the filing cabinet will be replaced by a more suitable decorative box and decorative pieces of importance to me will be showcased throughout the room.  And it’s all going to be done on a fabulous budget because my friend knows all the best places to shop for everything!

This project is even more special to me because it is being handled by a really great person I am so happy to have become friends with over the past year – someone with oodles of creativity who is really fun to be around.  This whole project is just dripping with creativity and I know that the finished product will leave me even more inspired than the planning of it.  It should have just the right balance of quiet reflection and productive energy.

Having my own space has always been important to me.  No – it has always been necessary for me.  I have to admit, though, that asking for it has often made me feel guilty.  Having this studio, in fact, left me riddled with guilt until the last few months when I decided to embrace it.  After all, I asked for it, didn’t I?  I have written about it in some form or another my entire adult life.  I think everyone deserves to have the things that they need to keep them happy, sane and fulfilled.  Why shouldn’t I believe that I deserve those things too?

My whole life most of my possessions have been quite utilitarian.  At best, they get the job done.  I am grateful for that.  Now I’d just like to have a little fun, even if it’s as simple as a chandelier instead of a really plain-looking dome shaped fixture.  And that’s OK!  I got that message loud and clear the other day!

How about YOU?  Do you have a special space in your home that reflects who YOU are?  A space can be the corner of your bedroom that houses your easel, or it could be the formal dining area that gets used twice a year for eating and the rest of the year for your sewing projects.  I know someone who uses a spare closet in her home for a meditation room and that is where she can be with her Self.  It’s not about the square footage, but about how the space makes you feel.

If you don’t have a space yet but think it might be something you need, jot down some ideas in your journal or task binder.  Answer the following prompts to guide you:

  • What do you want to feel when you are in your space?
  • What do you want to practice in your space?  (meditation, yoga, writing, card-making, reading etc)
  • How much room do you need to do this comfortably?
  • Where in your home can you find that space?

Write about it and it will find you, even if you think it doesn’t exist.  If you would like to share about your space (whether it exists or it’s in the making), I’d love to hear your comments below.  Or you can contact me privately here.

There Is No “I” In Team But…

…there is a ME!  Whether your team is your family (your first family that you were born into or your new family that you have created with a spouse), or your office colleagues, or your group of friends, this holds true!

You want your team to be taken care of, happy and comfortable – I totally understand that.  You want to be sure that the plays you make (i.e. decisions you make) support and benefit the team.  It’s nice when everyone around you has few complaints and you are part of the reason why they are thriving.

BUT here’s something that also holds true:  A team is only as strong as its “weakest” player.  So, if you’re giving and giving and giving to your team and not replenishing your goods, you are bound to be the player who drops the ball at a pivotal point in the game.  Depleting yourself or depriving yourself so that your team can be stronger is simply illogical.  It’s a very emotional-based thought process; it comes from that beautiful heart of yours.

My heart is the same way.  It wants to hug and provide for everyone I love but it needs reminding to show me that same kind of loveThink about how much care you give yourself – physically, emotionally, spiritually.  Would you hope that someone you love is treating themselves the same way?  Or would you, out of concern and compassion, ask them to take better care of themselves?  If it’s the latter, well, I think you know where this is going.

On my weekend away, I was talking to a couple of the girls who are in the health care profession.  One of them made an observation about a patient who spent a lot of time and energy on the health of her children but who herself was neglecting her own health.  “Isn’t that often the case?” I asked.  “I almost think there’s an inverse relationship between a mother’s health and the health of her kids.”  Of course, I was being a little facetious.  This is NOT how I think it should be and I KNOW that is it not truly how the world works.  A mother, or father, is a great role model for their children’s health; active, health-conscious parents are likely to produce similar children.  But I do think that it’s easy for a mother to spend a significant amount of her resources on her children and deplete the energy to keep up in these areas for herself.

So, if you are worried that taking time out to take care of yourself (by going to the gym, taking a dance class, doing the Tuesday Tasks, taking a bubble bath) is selfish or will take away from your team, I hope this post has given you something to think about.  Any comments?  I’d love to hear them!

Try-This Tuesday: Who Are Your Peeps?

This week’s task is an examination of the people who play important roles in your life.  It doesn’t matter whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, we are social beings and need relationships in our lives.  If you have a pet you know that these relationships need not all be human.  Likewise, if you are Tom Hanks in Cast Away you know that, should you happen to be stranded on a deserted island for 5 years, a volleyball makes a great pal.  Didn’t you get a little choked up at least when Wilson ended up floating away at sea?  You forgot at that point that you were praying that a volleyball would make its way back to Tom.  It didn’t matter by then that this was a piece of sports equipment, Tom had developed a relationship with the volleyball:  an emotional connection.

I’m turning to this topic today because of the importance of support networks in our lives.  I alluded to this yesterday – how I have been able to ride my bumps fairly gracefully over the past several months because of the people I can count on.

How about you?  Let’s examine the humans in your life (you are free to look at other animate relationships, too, but let’s just keep it at that for this task).  Let’s get a really great visual of who exists in your world and then identify key people as your support network.

I told you before that I like simple charts with rows and columns.  You can experiment with your visual representation so that it best suits you.  Don’t forget to add colour where you want (you can use a coloured pencil, highlighters etc) or stick to black and white if that makes your chart more read-able to you.

This task might be overwhelming to those of you who exchange BlackBerry pins with people you meet at the grocery store.  So, let’s set a maximum number of 10 people you will focus on.

My chart would have the following columns:  Name of Person, Type of Relationship (i.e. parent, friend, spouse, colleague), Length of Relationship, What I Receive, What I Contribute, Key Support Network.

Let’s look at these column titles for a minute.  The first three are fairly obvious.  Under What I Receive and What I Contribute, I would make bullets of short phrases that belong in these categories.  These relationship gifts (what you receive and what you contribute) don’t have to be deep and profound – maybe what you receive is a great night out once in awhile and maybe what you contribute is a referral source for potential business.  Don’t judge (yours or anyone else’s)!  Like I said, they’re all gifts, and appear in our life for a reason.

Sometimes what we receive from someone might be a headache or annoyance factor because we are that person’s sounding board for all of their petty complaints.  Is that a gift?  I’d say “yes” – this person may be in your life so that you are reminded of using your time wisely and setting limits!

So, what do I mean by Key Support Network?  A key support person to me is someone I can trust with my vulnerabilities and someone who I know will celebrate my accomplishments (big or small).  I don’t expect a whole heck of a lot from these people because I know that they have their own lives and demands.  I don’t expect that I am their top priority or that they drop everything to fulfill my needs.  I think I am fairly reasonable in what I expect from a supportive person in my life and strive to provide the same. 

Here’s something important:  My connection with my INNER SUPPORT SYSTEM allows me to be less dependent on and more forgiving of the human relationships in my life.  The phrase “You are your own best friend” is not just a cliché to me.

Someone who gets a “no” in this column is not by any means insignificant to me.  In my life, it doesn’t make sense to have 10 people under key support network.  I would hope that the people who are on my chart are supportive of me in some ways but the word “key” is…well, key.  So, don’t feel bad if you write a no beside your sister.  If she doesn’t fit your definition of key support person, that’s OK.

The purpose of this exercise is to make you aware of the gifts you receive and contribute in your relationships and to identify people who you should be able to count on for whatever you consider to be support.

After taking the time to do this (and it’s fantastic if you were able to prioritize this!), pull out your journal or task binder and write to these prompts:

  • What were your impressions of this exercise?  Was it useful?  Too complicated?
  • How easy was it to fill in your chart?  Which columns were trickier to fill than others?
  • What is your definition of a key support person?
  • Think of the people who you think you provide a lot of support to – write about the type of friend you are.  Is this honoured by the recipient?
  • Do you recognize and acknowledge your key support network?  How do you show you value their friendship?