Unresolved Midyear?

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Who’s to say what is right for you? I am learning that all of these lessons we learn along the way are simply ingredients to a classic recipe that we bake to represent our lives. The brands that work for us. The regimens that give us wellness. The jobs that bring satisfaction and reward. The friends that give as much as they take. Respect for our wants, likes, and dislikes is a way to define our lives.

With so many “rules for life” on the shelves and in our ears it is important to remember that what works for us is simply that “about us”. All of those “rules”, recommendations and regimes are not a “one size fits all” and it is our attention to pay to bring with us what works and leave the rest.

As relative as the choice is the time in making those decisions. Time is inevitably what we cannot get back. Time is ticking and wasted in every “second” thought. When you know what works, work it. Don’t contemplate it. Don’t do “it” again and again and again to simply return to the place where you knew it all along. Don’t let others’ contemplation of the “thing” you have already resolved to pressure you into re-contemplation. It steals away the time you should be practicing what you know or learning something entirely new.

Equally important is before starting something new make sure you have gotten everything out of the current effort with full resolve. We start new when the current path is taking too long or seems too hard, knowing that we will have to return to it. That path now looms over us as unfinished business taking the joy away from the new venture, path, or effort. Resolve it, don’t return to it.

What are your mid-year resolutions? Are you resolving to finish your New Years Resolutions? What is the unfinished business and what has already been deemed as “resolved”? Define it and allow those decisions that need to be made to be given the focus deserved by saving time on all that has already been decided. Resolve to leave resolved the decisions already made; that is true respect of your time.

Life as I resolve it — L.

Who am I…now

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What a question. Who am I? No better yet, who am I…now? 50. Married 25 years. Three grown children. “Always Starting” and trying to stop. “The Art of Never Giving Up” but I should. Who am I? That is is going to take a long time to define. Who am I now…in this minute, in this decade, at this time.

This question was posed to me to ponder. If truly understanding the question at hand it is not about who you think you are or who you are defined but more who are you now at this time in your life. It is then followed by “What do you want in your life?”.

It is an interesting intersection to be turning 50 a week before the youngest of your three kids graduates from high school. So much change in such a short period of time leads to hours of contemplation. I was contemplating long before the day came and still contemplating now.

So rather than run down the track of contemplation, let me answer the question, “Who am I?”

  • I am 50 years of age. That number as defined by me is wisdom to know what you know and more importantly, trust what you know.
  • I am in a solid career. Solid meaning both the career is a stable one and my place in it is as well.
  • I am in a strong marriage. This has truly been tested in the last four years. The death of my mother, the threat of my own health, and the transition of our son have taught me that we can handle anything.
  • I am well. I contemplate (there is that word again) if I “am” well or “have” wellness. I know how to be well. I don’t always do those things that promote wellness.

This is who I am “today” and now know that this will change every single day and sometimes within the day. I always wake up as a Captain of the day setting my course with great discipline and by the afternoon I am a drunken soldier stumbling through the remaining hours with reckless abandon for all I thought I wanted on the course of that day.

I AM…

Is this really a question to answer or a reminder that there is no final answer. The question itself is the journey.

Life as I live it. L.

Where have you been? Drowning in overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed without a plan to decide everything! Here is how I am overcoming “overwhelmed”.

Wow, I pulled up this my treasured blog and realizing that it has been two months since I wrote anything and then realized that the final blog post was on my mom’s anniversary of her passing, more than two months ago. Isn’t that profound. Yet again another ending. But it is not. Here I am back writing. Back to making the time to explore the creative outlet that I embrace as a passion, secretly and yet through my medium publicly here for the world to read or disregard.

As I start writing today I asked myself “Where have you been?” Busy? Distracted? Overwhelmed? Yes, that last word…overwhelmed! I have used this word more times in the last week than I have ever. I have literally buried myself in To Do’s, deadlines, pressures, and commitments that have all but taken over my life. And before the assumption can be made I am reminded that it is not all from my work/career. There are as many personal To Do’s, deadlines, and pressures in my “personal life” than in my “work-life”. What I am realizing in hindsight is that those routines, those things that I was doing to keep it all in check got abandoned in the last two months because I was “too busy” not realizing that the sheer abandonment of those things would be my undoing. Overwhelmed is a state of being when my life has taken me, prisoner, because I have relinquished control. I allow all of the outside pressures to creep in so far that they determine my sleep schedule, take away my time to write or read, and ultimately take over. I fool myself into believing that I don’t have time…when in reality I have the same time I had two months ago, I am just spending it differently.

Realization is key here because it was the moment that I was realizing that I gave up this control that everything became overwhelming. And it was in that realization that I got up and decided to take control back. How? Through deciding. Deciding what I will do when I will do it and with who and how. Boom. I have preached so many times in my life to others the power to decide and that ultimately YOU DECIDE always what is yours. Regardless of how it manifests or plays out in front of you; that you are “there” is your decision. These are lessons I have always known and yet forget to deploy when the going gets tough.

Time Blocking — Schedule in the non-negotiables to see what time is left in your day

The first place to take it back was in first divvying up my time. Time is the factor, time is where I am losing the fight. I took the time to sit down and look at a blank calendar, of one 7-day week. I then started dividing it up into those non-negotiables and crossed out the time allotted for work and the time allotted for sleep. Okay, now what is left. WHOA!!! The big realization here is why I feel overwhelmed! On any given weekday I only have four hours that are unidentified; two before work and two after work. Those four hours are the same four I need to get ready to start and end my day. That became the first real perspective in the exercise I was taking on. It is no wonder I am overwhelmed because what I am trying to accomplish in four hours cannot be done in eight! It is unrealistic. So I continued to fill-in my calendar with time to read, write, get ready, make dinner, workout, etc. Perspective was key here as I could feel a weight lifting in realizing that I was not overwhelmed I was overcommitted. I then moved into the weekend where time is more forgiving and made sure to play out those things that are key to my quality of life (aka sanity) so that the lack of routine on a weekend did not derail me. Voila, here I am back reading, writing, and enjoying a peaceful morning…two months later.

Routines — Create Auto-Pilot Decisions to allow room for the “real” decisions to be made

The second place I had to go to shake the “overwhelm” off was in my decisions. Ironically after working to “right-side” this world of mine, I read an article on Medium that summed it all up, “These Micro-Habits Gave me 1 Hour per Day Back” by Tim Denning. It was a reiteration of everything I had done that day and this next piece which was “auto-deciding”. Tim calls it “Create Auto-Pilot Decisions” in the article. There have to be things that you can put on auto-pilot in your life so everything does not require a decision because decisions take effort and energy. For me, I have put my schedule on auto-pilot after writing it out and it now directs me on where I need to be and when without me having to give the energy of thought or decision. I also put my meal plan on auto-pilot, because like most humans, I eat the same thing daily. Not having to come up with a new meal plan every day or at the moment leaves one less decision. I recall hearing that Steve Jobs, Simon Cowell, and Mark Zuckerberg also put on auto-pilot their wardrobes. They found a look that works for them and that is what they wore every single day. Not having to make that decision every morning left energy to be used in a place that could be more productive and likely in their cases more defining.

Be flexible and realistic — Nothing ever goes as planned

Now that the structure has been laid out it is time to simply follow it, or is it really that simple. I love the quote “We plan and God laughs” because nothing is more true. A plan is a great way to architect your life however as our days unfold and priorities shift so must our “plan”. Don’t allow your plan to be yet another stressor and don’t abandon the plan because of unforeseen stressors. Simply following the plan when things are “on track” will give you the “room” or energy needed when things go off-plan. Being flexible and realistic is what makes it work not to be able to stay on the plan stringently. This week I stayed close to the plan but not tied to it. The fact that I had a plan gave me the structure and forgiveness in those things that took me off course to remember that they are one-offs and not the norm. Sometimes just realizing that one-offs are just that…one-off…is all the resolve we need as we are more forgiving of the distraction.

Last and most important now is just doing it. You can set the greatest plan in motion however if you never execute it is simply a plan. Plans don’t define us, they don’t amount to anything more than an intention or a great idea. When you put a plan in motion, well now you are moving in a direction. Right, wrong, or indifferent is irrelevant! The fact that you are “in motion” is enough.

Life as I live it — L.

Epiphany

And just like that it occurs to me. That I have indeed manifested this, the life I always dreamed of without realizing I was heading right for it. It just occurred to me this morning as I was finishing a 12-week program via the “The Artist’s Way”, that everything that I have done for the last 49 years has prepared me for the next chapter. I always said that when I turned 50-years old that I wanted to teach, I wanted to transition into a new chapter; and while I struggled to see the forest for the trees along the route today I have walked out of that forest, at the end of that path and turned around and there it is…every single tree, every sapling, every seed that was ever planted is now the forest. It is a wealth of experiences, paths and journeys; thorns, bites and equal amounts of sun shining through that will catapult me into my dream. Wow, I am in awe as I write this and the realization shows itself clear as the day that is beginning.

The irony is that I realize now, in this moment, that all of the work in raising my children, cultivating a partnership and friendship that has served as my marriage to the very best partner for me and building a career that can sustain it all has brought me to this place that I can realize the next chapter that lies in front of me. All along I thought my dream would not come to pass because of my lack of realization that the additional education I thought i needed was being attained all along. I dreamed of being a Professor and yet I am. I thought it would be teaching hospitality however I have just realized that it is that and so much more. I thought it would require another degree and yet I realize that there is no more that I can be taught in a structured environment that I have not learned through experience. It is taking what I have learned on these paths that will now be my next chapter. I have learned how to share, I have learned from the masters and I am not afraid. For the reality is that I have earned a doctorate in life studies, learned in a classroom that has been my last 49 years of life.

The epiphany is so profound, the realization that it, all of it, that I have worked for has lifted me to the place that I dreamed of, the place I wished to be, and now it is my only task to take the next steps. So now I walk back through the paths that I have beaten and worn and now reminiscing those walks with eyes wide open, I am able to see in hindsight those things that were beneath the surface. I will feel those things all over again with renewed senses and the benefit of maturity. The only task left “to do” is to simply to release the constraints that I have allowed to weigh me down through my own imprisonment and realize that I am free to go, to soar, to realize this new life, reality and existence without obstacle.

This is real, this is how it occurred to me on this morning as I was doing my “Morning Pages” and had this immense realization and thought enough to capture the moment in my writing. There are so many themes in this realization that are worth pointing out to avoid anything going missed.

  • The epiphany is simply as defined, “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.” I have been doing the work and through the work it suddenly appeared, my future, my dream in realization, in full color, right in front of me.
  • The power of manifestation as defined, “being able to harness your true destinies and desires in life, subconsciously put into vision, and then into reality. Everything you want of the universe is already yours the clearer your thoughts and thinking on the matter, the more timely and precise the delivery will come.” Put whatever it is out there, a goal, a FINISH LINE, a dream; whatever you want to call it simply put it out there and return to it often, doing the work along the way that you believe will bring you to that place…and it will be yours.
  • The faith as defined, “complete trust or confidence in something or someone.” If you believe in yourself and trust that what you want will be yours as long as you are willing to do the work, walk the path and have “faith” despite a guarantee that it will be, it will come, if you only believe.

I give this to you as my gift. A glimpse into my soul, my beliefs, my heart. I give back to myself the gift of documenting this moment to allow myself the privilege of revisiting this moment in all of its power. I look forward to the hindsight it will provide in ten years when I will be grateful that I took a chance on myself and willingness to share with YOU.

Life as I manifest it – L.

A Place for Silence

Silence. The word elicits a response regardless of the emotion. When said out loud in exclamation it will quiet a room. When said in a whisper it will quiet the brain. It is something we long for and in other times something we run from. It is a word, a state of being, an emotion, it is powerful.

I have been longing for silence in its many forms for years. I long for it in my brain that is overactive and relentless at times. I long for it in my day to simply get away from the chatter of life. I long for it in my demeanor to provide restraint in my personality and sometimes I long for it after too much has been said.

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

Paulo Coelho

The quote from Paulo Coelho sums it up. Be what you want the world to see. Don’t state it, don’t talk about it, just be. If you want to be a runner, run. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be successful, succeed. Stop talking about it, do it. In my case, I aim to stop talking. Not in the literal sense but I find that my conversations tend to be on repeat. I say the same things I said before, I state the same goals, themes, opinions…yes opinions…but why? Am I convincing myself or others? I feel confined in these conversations that are on repeat and offer little in the drive to move forward, or even sit still, they hold me back and keep me in a place that is meant to be left behind.

By practicing silence we can resolve those things that nag at us, define us, and create angst. By practicing silence we get the gift of taking in more around us; hearing, listening, and simply being. It is when we stop announcing what we will do that we actually become.

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.

Agnes De Mille

When I think back to the most impactful times of my life they were decisions that were made internally. They needed no external support. When I think about it, it rings so true, it is only those things that you are not resolved in that you put out for the world to weigh-in on. Those things that you KNOW and do not question you DO without applause, accolades, or validation. When I made the decision to change my life or better said every time I have made the decision to change my life, I did not ask, I did not state it, I just did it. I did it because I did not want anyone to thwart my efforts or convince me otherwise. There is not one of those life-changing decisions that I regret. This is to say there is great resolve in silence.

A close friend of mine once told me that she learned the most about silence from a mentor who when in the Boardroom would say very little, however when he spoke, the room would hush and all ears would be on him. Everyone knew that when he chose to speak, he would bring value, he would bring wisdom, and that power in his silence spoke volumes in his contemplation that was as loud as his voice. I long to be this man.

As I fall silent on this blog, I think about how to put this into practice as it is not as simple as just not speaking, that is not silence, that is something else entirely. The silence I hope to explore is what I believe it is to be wise. To allow others to share their experiences without you adding on. To allow others to try it their way if you know it will create the same result or better yet if it will cause no harm and instead stands to serve as a lesson.

The silence I hope to create for myself is to find my own resolve that will lead to contentment. The silence I hope to create will make me MORE not less; allowing me to shut down one “sense” to peak the others. The silence I hope to create will allow me to accept more, resist less, and resolve.

Silence…nothing left to say – L.

Previous post on “Silence” almost a year ago https://alwaysstarting.com/2019/07/25/silence/

Seeking Normal – Day 21

Day 21 prompt:

Michelle Obama said, “I was checking the boxes defining who I was supposed to be.”

Are you checking boxes or living or striving or standing still?

My answer:

I am definitely checking the boxes because I have created a purpose-driven life that is defined by planning and then doing. In the last month, I have come to realize that I plan more than I do and that imbalance leaves me feeling unaccomplished. I am focusing more now on doing and less planning always knowing what the plan is naturally.

I think many of us have also felt that in our “normal” lives that we have been checking the boxes, living on cruise control. Weekdays full of the same routines can make life feel mundane however life is lived in the moments in between our routines. I am learning the value of spending a half hour in nature, taking a walk when I don’t have the energy for something more and stopping to share my time with others when the moments present themselves regardless of what there is “to do”. The “to do” lists will always be there, but those moments will pass unrecognized if you don’t take a moment to truly STOP to smell the roses.

Life as I live it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 12

Day 12 prompt:

If we agree that there are variations of normal, than the normal we seek is one variation of many; is it content normal, happy normal, young normal…how many “normal’s” do you have”?

My answer:

I think there are two ways to answer this and one is about the current situation we are all in where you have been forced into a “new” normal for the time being and yet long for your “old” normal that we are simply not sure will ever exist as it did before. This is a great example of how there are many normal’s among us and therefore how to embrace many variations.

I think this also has value in understanding intention. There is a normal I attempt based on my intentions and yet there is another that exists without effort. My intention for normal on weekends is to spend one day working on everything that needs my attention; laundry, errands, cleaning, etc. and then one day enjoying family and relaxing. Many weekends I am so exhausted from the week that I do absolutely nothing and that is not something I will ever embrace as “normal”. In those days I choose to believe it is a mild interruption in my normal in an effort to meet myself where I am in that moment.

Last but not least I would be remiss if I did not share the first thing that came to mind when reading this prompt. This concept of variations of normal that we exercise has something to do with our many personalities. Ha…yes the more personalities the more normal. If it makes you feel more comfortable you can call them “roles”. My normal at work, is different than my normal at home. I am noticing that even when I am working at home that normal is different. It changes with the environment but so does my character, personality or persona.

Lots to think about. My father says I “think too much”, ha!, maybe he is right but it is my NORMAL! List your normal’s in the comments section. How many do you have; and if that task is hard to conceive list our your many personalities…that actually might be more fun! 🙂

Life as I overthink it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 9

Day 9 prompt:

People talk about the “new” normal. What was the “old” normal?

Did that label ever fit you?

My answer:

Well once again I could not have known when I wrote this prompt that I would one day be answering it in a world where the “new” normal is a daily condition. My “new” normal is working from home, seeing my grand-babies every single day or better yet as my husband reminded me today, spending more time with my spouse now than in the 24 years we have been married! Ha!

So what was the “old” normal; well the obvious answer would be the world as we knew it. Working weekdays, lounging weekends, socializing with friends and family and sometimes so routine that it felt like a dreadmill that we called “life”. Now I get the benefit of looking back and wishing for that “dreadmill” of “life”. There is something about deprivation that makes you want back what you took for granted so easily before.

If I am being honest with myself the “new” normal has become the “old” normal that I did not like. I always preferred weekdays as I found my life more routine and my habits more disciplined. Weekends lacked structure and a sense of urgency and now my “new” normal is like a never-ending weekend. I mean, it is different, it is more chaotic, it is more, simply put it is “more”. There is no break, because the environment stays the same 24/7. I am less health-conscious which is so ironic because I certainly have the time to do more; exercising is doable, eating right is accessible and yet I am doing neither. Why?

“New” normal, “old” normal; what does it really matter? Well it does because normal is truly defined as, “the usual, average, or typical state or condition” and in this world nothing is usual, nothing is average, nothing is typical and the only state we are in at this point is a state of stillness to the point of stupor. Those that are truly among the disciplined maintain their “normal” despite the environment and that is what I now long for; that is my new goal. Better said, I choose to create a normal that is neither “new” or “old” but expected despite the environment.

Wishful thinking for a “new” normal – L. (HA!)

Seeking Normal – Day 5

Day 5 prompt:

Why is normal even a “thing”? Does “normal” really exist? In what context have you used it in your life?

My answer:

Normal is how we describe life as it is agreed upon. Normal life is sleeping at night, working during the day, having a job, weekday, weekends, grocery shopping, cleaning, going to school… These are the things that we all take for granted as what “normal” looks like in our daily lives. Normal creates acceptance of a norm which creates common-ground.

Normal is a learned response that starts in childhood. If as a child you started everyday with breakfast at the table with the family that is YOUR normal while mine was a bowl of cereal alone before I walked to the bus stop. Both are “normal”, different as they are there is common ground in breakfast being that norm regardless of the routine that surrounds it. My normal did not include church on Sunday’s however it was normal for many of my friends and so I was exposed to their normal when I would spend a weekend with a friend and attend church. It felt “out of the norm” while I enjoyed it and longed for it as my own norm. It is in those experiences that I was given option to make new a new “normal” for myself.

To answer the prompt directly –

  • Normal is a “thing” because we are creatures of habit and normal is typically a series of habits we practice daily.
  • Normal does exist for each and every one of us and then collectively there are routines and ideas of normal that we agree on as a species, world, family or individually.
  • The context in which I have used “normal” in my life is to create the “normal” that serves to create a life that I want to live and not necessarily that I have lived. It is an acceptance of routines and habits that take time to adapt but when they come naturally normal has been realized.

What is your take on “normal” do you use it to define your life or to call out those that don’t follow the norms?

My normal life as I live it according to my own norms – L.

Give it Time…literally

It will come in time, if you give it time… This is a reminder that all things worth having are worth waiting for but more importantly they are also worth time. While we are setting our intentions it is not enough to “set it and forget it”. To state the intention is the first step however we have to give the intention our time, passion and energy to work it into our lives and in time it will come naturally.

You would no sooner believe that saying you want to lose weight would be all that it would take to lose the weight. You would no sooner believe that saying you want a college degree would grant you one. Why then would you expect that setting an intention less tangible, like contentment, wisdom or respect would breed the intended result without the effort. It is always going to require time and effort and in time the effort will be less noticeable and the result will be received.

In all intentions we have to find the time to define, create and activate our intentions. Time is the price we pay to have what we intend and time is truly finite. There is no way to make more than we are given in our 24 hours a day but the decision on what you spend your time on is always yours. Are you giving time to your intention? Set it and forget it and it will be right where you left it…stalled.

In the theme of giving “it” time we have to find a place for all things and put all things in their place. Balance is the verb, juggling is a symptom of losing balance. Unless you have large amounts of time not filled with other things you will have to balance the new intention by removing those things that no longer serve you. If you are juggling, it is a losing proposition. Every juggler will eventually experience a break in the cadence where something falls. Balance don’t juggle.

There is no secret to success, this is it. Those that succeed simply make the time to accomplish their intentions through giving it time. They don’t worry how long it will take because they are moving towards that intention every day. Do or don’t, that is truly where intention lies. Do what you intend and live the life you intend; don’t and you won’t. Simple.

Life as I see it – L.