I am not the solution…

I am guilty as charged. I cannot look at ANY situation where I am not immediately figuring out a solution. Before asked, as the situation is unfolding or being described, I am solving. Is it a control “thing” is it “servant leadership” or is it a need to be needed? I tend to think it’s a combination of the three. Regardless of which it is, it is not working FOR me, and many times it is not work FOR them either.

There I said it! Admitting you have a problem is the first step…ha! Oh and the irony is that because I have identified it as a “problem” I now have to find a solution! Ha-ha! Let the cycle of solving begin…GO!

I don’t know where this started but I know it has to end. It has to stop because it is exhausting me. I am always giving, giving, giving to the point that I have nothing left. Stretched so thin I end up coming up short on my offerings and leave nothing left for myself. Interesting is that since identifying this issue I have been more observant of my reactions when a problem arises. I am shocked at how fast my brain is solving for others; even more so now that I am forcing myself to hold back the offers.

it is not a “bad” thing but is unnecessary. I find that where I have resources I want to offer them. That is not bad, right? Except that everyone else has resources as well and hence they can find solutions without mine. My examples of solving go from the most mundane to the ridiculous.

  • Yesterday while spending the day with my cousins one of them noted that they had lost the measuring spoon for their coffee machine. Immediately I think “Oh I have a second one that she can have.” She does not need my measuring spoon…and she definitely was not looking for a solution.
  • When going to lunch recently (and many times before) as we approach the counter to order our lunch I invite my friends behind me to order with me; and hence I pay for lunch. My reasoning? To not hold up the line with multiple orders! Really…I am solving for the restaurant?

The examples I offer are minimal compared to the norm of my offerings that do leave me depleted. What I am learning in these greater examples is that “they” will solve for themselves if you let them. This is a fact as I have seen it play out twice in the last month. Where I thought I was the only solution, when I removed myself, the solutions were found and quite frankly they were better than I could have offered. In both cases neither asked me to solve, I volunteered myself and when I was not able to fulfill that offer I was left feeling badly while they found other options; in both cases better options. Those alternative solutions ended up being a much better result for me as well to which I was grateful. This brings about another subject altogether as the reason I was grateful is that if I had been “the solution” for those situations it would have caused measurable sacrifice for me. I am not opposed to sacrificing for those I love or things I value however I don’t reserve sacrificing for those but instead sacrifice for all.

Now that the problem has been identified the solve is mine to take on, for me. I am now holding back from offering solutions immediately to every single things that rises. I am now saying “Thank You” when someone offers me a solution versus fighting back; and I am finding that it is nice to have others do for me. Most importantly I am taking the energy expended on solving for everyone else and redirecting it to solve for myself. What I want matters most to me and I realized through this process that while I was giving to everyone “else” I was coming up short for myself, leaving me dissatisfied.

Ultimately what I know is that if someone needs something from me they will ask and to insert myself is simply not necessary. What is necessary, solving for myself. Living the life I want to live without unnecessary sacrifices.

Life as I see it – L.

Fiercely Independent…

Happy Independence Day America! Happy Fourth of July! I am so grateful to the men and women who fight for my freedom. I am proud to be an American and know that living in THIS country is indeed a privilege. While I honor the day I have to take advantage of the theory of INDEPENDENCE as it relates to the human condition.

I have always defined myself as “fiercely independent” as both a reminder of what I want to be and ultimately who I am. I was raised by a mother that personified this throughout her life. As her daughter and biggest fan I watched my mother navigate this life with grace first and independence always! it was through watching her that I became very comfortable with my own company (yes, I go to movies and restaurants by myself…oh the horror!! HA), silence and dependence on NO ONE! My mother was very introspective and private (Unfortunately, the thrill of finally getting to read her journals proved fruitless as of course she wasn’t revealing a thing…ugh!) but her independence is one of many of her characteristics that I cherished most and attempted to replicate.

I was meeting with my therapist recently (yes, I believe in mental HEALTH to avoid mental sickness!) and he was telling me the lengths at which he had gone in his life to be comfortable with simply being alone, silent and in his own company. It started with a friend inviting him to go up on the mountain to “watch the monks” (literally! Monk-watching!!). He said that it moved him so much that he went back every month for the next ten years of his life. He would sit in silence (enter the “Sound of Silence”-Simon and Garfunkel) and observe the monks but most importantly in that silence he could observe his thoughts and ultimately learn to quiet them. As he told the story I am sure he thought I would be appalled at the extreme nature of this effort but instead I was in awe and jealous of the opportunity. To simply BE, just sit, quietly and allow it all to happen around you is the fiercest level of independence I can think of and respect.

When thinking on this topic I am reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert author of “Eat Pray Love” as it is one of my favorite books and movie. This is a memoir about the undoing of her marriage and her journey to find a new life. There are so many things that resonate with me through her story but two stand out:

  • She goes to an ashram where she is given the opportunity to be “silent” for a period of time. She was not to speak a word to anyone and wore a button that noted that she was practicing silence. I think about the challenge as I enjoy interaction, communication and yes, sometimes the sound of my own voice as I indeed talk to myself. Ultimately the way I see it is that when you are silent you are forced to take in because you cannot put out. (Not that kind of putting out…dirty minds!!) It’s in this state that you will observe more as it’s when we shut down one of our senses that we enhance the others. Try it and comment below to let me know the longest you have been silent and what you learned about yourself.
  • I am moved by Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Physics of the Quest” and have it in the notes app of my phone as a place to go for inspiration on how I want to live this life. I share it here with you:
    • “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything) and set out on a truth-seeking journey, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.”

I would be remiss if I did not note that my greatest accomplishment to date is putting two extremely independent human beings out into the world. My oldest children are exactly the kind of independent I wanted for their lives. Molly is fierce in every sense of the word. She cares not what the world thinks and simply lives HER life according to her standard. She has taught me so much in this life about independence and owning who you are inside out. Cameron is the softer side of fierce as his independence is a bit less “F you” (Did I mention Molly has a smiley face tattooed on her middle finger!!) and more “I got this”. Cameron puts his mind to what he wants in life and he goes for it with a relentless focus that is exhausting from the outside but fueling his fire on the inside. He comes across as amicable but don’t confuse that for agreeable. He has very strong thoughts about life and how it is to be lived and will offer a healthy debate on all the wrong things to talk about in public if engaged…by this I mean religion, politics and his sister; even when she doesn’t want to be the topic! HA! These children are 100% their own people. They have views that do not reflect mine or Gary’s and stand for something. As I said at the top, they are by far my greatest accomplishments to date…now about Brendan…well that is an entirely different blog post! Ha!!

I will conclude with an excerpt from my journal after visiting my therapist and having the greatest aha moment about my independence and what was actually an unhealthy dependence on my mom that I never realized the power of until she was gone.  

Written 11.17.18 – I realize that I put so much into her; faith, trust, love, EVERYTHING, that when she died all of that died with her and that which is ME.  I get it. At some level I also realize that my dependency on her life was not healthy, although it NEVER felt that way but it is/was what it is/was.  Now it’s time to heal, it’s time to learn how to live a life without reliance on another human to hold all of what you find valuable in life. Funny that what occurs to me right now is that while I have always believed myself to be fiercely independent I was fiercely dependent on her.  Interesting.

I learned that my independence was not truly as fierce as I had portrayed as it was very dependent on her, my everything. In order to be truly independent in this life no one thing can be your “everything” as the very idea of being independent is being surrounded by nothing and being perfectly okay in that place.

I wish you a Happy Fourth of July and may this Independence Day inspire in you freedom from all that holds you back. #HonoringHer