Pausing for Poise
When I am stressed, I have to organize something. It used to be my kid’s schedule or a friend’s life—anyone or anything that felt out of control and could use an intervention. I really liked fixing people!!!!! Now I’m wiser so I organize a drawer, a closet or my giant purse. No more people—just things. I’m immediately satisfied when I complete a project. I apply my energy to something that actually needs my attention!!!!!! ……and I swear I hear a tiny “thank you” whispered back in return.
Organizing projects are meditative strategies that calm me down. While my hands and eyes are busy, I am able to block out the thoughts that plague me. Is it living in denial? Maybe, but it’s temporary. I’m pausing my reality and giving respite to my brain.
I should elaborate that not all pauses are sitting with crossed legs and closed eyes. Pausing is a taking a break from a thought pattern.
Why is it so important to pause?
1. I may regret what I say or do if I don’t step back from a situation. The more emotional we are, the less we function cognitively. I know we can all relate to sending an email too quickly or running our mouth before the brain engages!
2. A pause will quiet my senses and re-calibrate my emotional state.
3. The pause will allow me space to discover what is really going on in my head and my heart. The truth will bubble up if given the opportunity. This is where my Girlfriend Voice resides.
4. A pause allows me time to recognize and sit with my feelings. I don’t really like this one however it beats living in denial or bottling it up.
5. A pause allows me to change my thinking. Aha! I can actually change the recorded voice in my head.
Learning to pause has positively impacted other areas of my life.
I have more patience (stop laughing, I started with zero). More is still more than zero!
I feel like it is OK to say NO. Saying YES all the time is exhausting.
I am a better listener because I don’t have to fix you or your problem.
The biggest impact is that once I create space, I can identify what I need to let go of and what needs immediate attention.
If you are one of my A-type friends, you may poo-poo any suggestion of mediation. A good place to practice a pause may simply begin with sitting silently for three minutes; paying attention to your breathing. Are there other easy ways to slip a pause into your day? When I am waiting for a document to open on my laptop, I breathe deeply. It is only a few seconds but I feel refreshed. When I feel my face tighten with angst, I know to keep my mouth shut! When I lay down at night, I make a quick mental list of things to be thankful for.
Go out and find the pause…..find the...
Dancing with my Demon
What a &#$^%#$&* week this has been — lesson after lesson reinforcing that I have to accept what is out of my control. I hate it. I hate the way I feel.
Sadly, I am watching someone close to me self-destruct. Despite multiple opportunities, much love and attention, this person is on a wild trajectory. While I know his journey has nothing to do with me, there are days when I would gladly trade places just to give him a sense of peace and direction; some stillness in his crazy world.
Turning the focus inward, my biggest personal demon is the need for control.
Believing I am in control reduces the chances of being stupid or disappointed, right?
DUH, sadly it is just a big fat set up!!! Control has many downsides. Overly preparing for every scenario precludes spontaneity and natural learning not to mention FUN and deep feeling. My control and probably yours too, is driven by fear. I fear looking stupid. I fear feeling disappointed. I fear getting hurt. I fear being lied to. I FEAR.
Dancing with my Demon
One of my strategies for fighting the need for be in control is mitigated by taking dancing lessons which require partnering. With dance, the body retains form but the soul must relax enough to feel the music. The more I tune into my partner, the better I dance. Listening, feeling and then trusting my partner to lead the dance is intoxicatingly seductive. A good carrot at the end of the stick!
Another thing I fear is Alzheimer’s disease. Losing my memory and the ability to care for myself frightens me more than any other disease. A really amazing opportunity fell into my lap which I couldn’t help but appreciate it’s larger cosmic significance. A local volunteer group called to see if I was willing to work with early stage Alzheimer’s patients. For an hour a week, I will read aloud and facilitate a discussion group. People struggling to stay present, to remember their name and simple details of their life will be MY teachers, demonstrating not only the importance of living in the moment but the ability to receive help.
Control fools you into believing that you can shape the reactions and actions of others.
NOT! Control is an “ultimate distraction” because it keeps me from looking at my own behavior. Fear makes you think you know better; you know more! Jach Pursel of Lazarus.com writes, “In the consensus reality, there are those who live control. They have no idea (and don’t care to know) of its devastation. They don’t care to know the damage that it can do, the successes it can sabotage, the hopes it can dash, the dreams it can destroy. They don’t want to have anything to do with looking at how it fuels and fosters so much of the denial and the resistance they have. They don’t want to...
My Wellness Plan
Today it seems like every single commercial on the TV and radio was about weight loss, anti-aging or plastic surgery. I swear, it is not my imagination! I,ve not hearing a single commercial suggesting we learn to thrive in life and love who we are! Nope, NOT one!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the two systems are not independent of one another. Instead of weight loss, let’s talk about losing a few bad habits that don’t serve you well. For instance, do you try to please everyone and lose yourself in the process? Do you feel lazy if you do nothing but relax?
Do you harbor resentment, bad feelings or even anger for days on end? Are you worrying about yesterday while fearing tomorrow? If you can’t think of anything, you have another problem and we should talk!
Instead of measuring weight loss, could we measure gratitude gains? How many lovely things/sites/people crossed your radar today?
Anti-aging, vitamins and supplements; yada, yada, yada. There is no magic pill! Believe me, I have a chemistry degree—I’ve tried! The supplements we require are derived naturally from dedicating time for personal rejuvenation, finding activities that energize us and the ability to connect emotionally with other people!
Every time you catch your image in the mirror, you could thank yourself for showing up? Tell yourself you are loved unconditionally?
Could I please buy a monthly membership for my mental health the same way I pay my local gym for my physical health? For $30/month I want full access to a variety of “wellness classes” as well as the ability to work quietly at my own pace in a safe environment. I promise to visit at least
four three times a week!
Personally I have felt tremendous pressure “to have it all”. Today I don’t believe it is possible and it is perfectly fine that way. I am not selling out but rather maximizing my choices and how I spend my time. My priorities have shifted.
I put myself first, not in a selfish way but in a self-caring way. I give myself permission to relax and do nothing (even if it requires scheduling it!)
Remember when the flight attendant reminds you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting another passenger? When I feel whole or “oxygenated”, I am up for just about anything. I can engage fully as a human being!
Years of bottling up my emotions have taken a toll on my physical health. Luckily I am making progress by first recognizing there is a better way to manage my emotional health. It really stinks to sit with uncomfortable feelings but this is ultimately what feeds my personal growth. I...
It’s 4pm and I just discovered I have been wearing my shirt backwards all day! I’m actually pleased. I’ve turned it around and now the little dribble from lunch rests comfortably out of sight. By the way, one time I purposely wore my pants backwards for a better fit—you’ve got to work with what you’ve got, Girlfriend!
There is something about school starting in September that makes me reflect on friendship. As a kid I was never part of the popular group but I felt blessed to have a core posse of pretty cool gals. I tried to tell myself that smart was much cooler than popular but as a teenager, I think it is much easier to say than do! Certainly we know that the QUALITY of a friend is far more important than the QUANTITY but let’s dive a bit deeper. Here is my attempt to stratify gal pals types into five categories. (Just a note about me: I hate long lists. No one wants to read more than five things. Who can remember past number five anyway!)
The “A” lister girlfriends. The theme of my recent brunch was “Smart women love good company”. Doesn’t this phrase say it all? From the Smart Women Company website: “Smart Women (items) express the wit, intelligence, and smarts applied to the everyday experiences of extraordinary women. Smart is about making choices andmaking do; making amends and mending your socks. We know smart when we see it and when we feel it.” Amen! It isn’t about being BOOK smart—it is about being LIFE smart. Surrounding yourself with like-minded, confident gals fuels your creativity and emotional well being. There is equal give and take and never any competition. These are your go-to –girls for advice and amusement. The friends you can call at 2am. You can laugh and cry together.
The “B” friends. While I won’t call this friend at 2am, I will call her when I am ready for fun! Will she be there if I really need her during a rough emotional patch? I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she cares about me because otherwise I don’t think we would be spending time together, but it may be that she doesn’t have the emotional sensitivity to know when I needing help. Or very likely, she requires a healthy level of telepathy because I don’t tell her that I need help! Some people are uncomfortable when it comes to giving support and there are a number of reasons why–worthy of another blog!
One important lesson is learning to recognize who is NOT your friend.
The “C” friends. These are the ladies you see around but it is hard to talk about anything more substantial than the weather. Little substance. This is not to say...
Hello world! Welcome to My Girlfriend Voice
One day I was sitting in traffic when I noted that my critical voice must have gone on sabbatical. I was keeping company with a new voice, more comparable to a trusted girlfriend. She is realistic, always supportive and wise. At times, a tad sassy! While I don’t believe I can completely squelch my critical voice, I can minimize her with the banter of my new BFF, My Girlfriend Voice.
Call me crazy, I agree but it is the good kind of happy crazy! Seriously though, what types of info does my Girlfriend Voice affectionately whisper in my ear?
- On receiving feedback on a project: You could take those comments personally or take them seriously. It’s not about you here. Don’t take it personally.
- When the teenager becomes the “mean-ager”: Breathe. This child is trapped in a hormonally laden body and someday you will like each other again. (Been there, believe me!)
- After a particularly frustrating day please remember, you are good enough ….just as you are….in this very moment. Pause and celebrate your splendid self.
So how did my Girlfriend Voice evolve? I won’t bore you with the details of what I affectionately term “my decade of drama or DD” but let me say that I was continually given more than I thought I could handle. While I manifested a Martha Stewart exterior, my interior was one hot mess. Talk about tumultuous! At the same time, I was approaching the magical period in life where you learn who you are and where your passions reside. Much easier said than done and if you don’t agree, you should stop reading here. We can’t be friends.
Eight years into my “DD”, I hit bottom. Nothing made sense or satisfied me. My sadness loomed larger than any other emotion. I needed help but this power woman would rather walk naked through rush hour traffic than ask for help. Somewhere though, I heard a voice that said “THIS” is bigger than you and you deserve to be happy. Viola’! My Girlfriend Voice makes her debut. (BTW, I wanted to spell Viola’ as Wallah but I am a classy woman!)
In time, I learned how to climb out of my darkness. I make better decisions TODAY because of what I learned yesterday and continue to learn. No regrets. No resentment. And yes, I know HOW and more importantly, WHEN to ask for help. Don’t be a “hater”! I still have moments of despair and sadness. I have days when I need fat pants and cookies……however I have learned that it is equally important to become comfortable with discomfort.
Let me say that again, it is important to be comfortable with discomfort.
My Girlfriend Voice is not the only thing...