Posts tagged: strengths

Outside Looks Inside

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When I go out for a walk, there is so much that makes me happy to be alive. Breathing. Not thinking. Observing. I am grateful beyond measure to be part of it all. There are trees. Glorious and consoling. Changing with the seasons. Reminders that all things change. And change again.Maria Kalman

The Case For Outside

This post is making a case for walking. Outside. A few years back my doctor told me I had to get regular exercise. I hate going to the gym and frankly the cost of the gym that is near my house is ridiculous. So, I decided the only way I would be able to make sure I got exercise everyday was to get a dog that had to go out everyday. This strategy worked for me. The dog is almost 4 and I go outside, 3x a time, in all weather.

There were multiple side benefits to this but the most profound was that I relearned how to appreciate the outdoors. The older I got, the more excuses I found to avoid taking a walk. Wrong shoes, too cold, too hot, too windy, whatever. What I found is that by walking, I had a quiet 30 minutes to myself. I didn’t have to do anything but walk. In fact, I couldn’t do anything but walk.

The Case for Outside, Inside

What have I learned from this adventure? It’s teaching or reteaching me how to be quiet. For me, this is a big deal. I work at a computer, I listen to music, watch TV, watch YouTube videos – you get it. My discipline for quiet is shot. I’m so used to noise, I’ve forgotten the power of quiet. I’m not sure I 100% understand the benefits to my insides, but I assure you, there’s a lot more there than meets the eye. How do you get quiet?

Image Credit: Maria Kalman  A Walk in the Cherry Blossoms

But I Had No Choice, Did I?

I liked both of these images! Why not put them together..??

It’s unlikely you have no choice. More likely: There’s no easy choice. No safe choice, that also embraces your potential. No choice you can make that doesn’t cause short-term misery in exchange for a long-term benefit. Seth Godin

Do I or Don’t I?

When I hear myself say, “I had no choice,” I know that I’ve stumbled. In my time on this planet, I’ve come to realize, I always have a choice. (ok, you can probably think of some time when I might not… but I’m talking about “most of the time.”) When I say, I had no choice, that means that I..

  1. Didn’t see any choices
  2. Didn’t like my choices
  3. Didn’t want to admit I was wrong, change my attitude or stop blaming someone else

But What If I Don’t Like What Happens

I’ve spent the past several years learning to understand that I have choices and then taking responsibility for the choices I make. I’ll admit, it’s been painful and hard. It was much easier to blame someone else for my divorce, my unemployment, my blah, blah, blah. Once I learned that when I default to the choice that is obvious, it’s often NOT great. When I take the time to consider my options and act responsibly towards my own well being, things get better. I could blame my parents. I could tell you a story about their addiction. But the truth is, once I got to be an adult, the responsibility was mine to get help and make my life better. If I’m not happy with my life, I need to make it better.

One fear is that if I make a choice, I might not like the outcome. In some ways, whatever the bad things are, they are “known” bad things. And the “unknown” bad things could be worse. Fear kept me stuck.

Choice is Freedom

When I see I have choices, even if I don’t like the ones I have, I am free. Freedom isn’t just a positive attitude, it’s also accepting responsibility for understanding my choices and then acting on them. It’s often not popular to make certain choices. When you rock other people’s boats, they get hurt and angry and if I change, then people close to me must also change. I’ve learned, when the choice affects others, that I need to act slowly and thoughtfully. But I still need to act. I’m grateful to be free to make choices. Good or bad.

Image credit: Fork in the road   Jrdn7730

Outlook: Grime or Prime?

This quote blows me away. It would seem like being miserable would take less work. Just head to the sofa or refrigerator or both and sulk. But when I stopped to think about it, I find that I agree.

I think the key word here is ‘work’. It doesn’t seem like I work at being miserable, it seems like it’s easy. Some other person just does something and I think I’ve been ‘wronged’. But I think the ‘work’ part comes from letting go. From not taking it personally. From thinking how important is this?

Sometimes it is very important. Most of the time it isn’t.

For today, I’m going to focus my energy on becoming strong. Set my intention to be calm and clear. Let go of miserable. Just for today.

The Case For Adaptation

Look at the picture, really look. Think about what might have happened. Did a child ride this bike into the woods, lean it against this tree and then forget it?  The poor tree was left to adapt to this ‘leaning thing’. What choice did it have?

What’s leaning against you? Loss? A person? An opportunity? Sadness? Take a minute and think about what is leaning against you.

Now imagine yourself adapting. Have the intention to adapt. Don’t try to ‘figure out’ all the steps to adapting, just imagine that you not only survive, but you are transformed.  To be even better than before. That this ‘thing’ that is leaning on you… will change you, for the better. It will make you unique, stronger, and interesting.

It’s easy to blame, rant, whine and moan about how this “problem” is weighing on us. If we can be like the tree and adapt, we’ll not only save ourselves some suffering, we’ll find new energy seeking out the inevitable changes ahead.

Photo credit: Even Trees Want to Cycle

Be Coachable — At Any Age

But I Haven’t Got the Talent

Sometimes I hear people giving up on their goal. That can be ok. Sometimes surrender is the right thing to do. But sometimes, giving up is a very bad thing. We act as if changing ourselves or working harder wouldn’t make a difference. In our hearts, we know changing could make the difference, but we’re lazy.

Be Coachable

Because I can be stubborn, I think I missed a lot of opportunities. One of the most important was, that I didn’t take advantage of finding mentors who could guide me. I didn’t know how important they can be. I did have one. He met me, helped me get out of a dead end job and move into a job that opened a lot of doors for me. He was a very smart but difficult person. Many people didn’t like him. That was because he, unwittingly, tested people and if they couldn’t stand up to him, he would lose respect for them. People didn’t like that.

I had my chance to stand up to him. One day he snapped at me. I looked him in the eye and said, “Bob, do you have a problem with me?” He stammered, “No, why?” I replied, “Well, you just spoke harshly to me and it made me uncomfortable. I’d like to avoid exchanges like that in the future.” He apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again. And it didn’t.

I think what would happen with others, although I never saw it, was that he would snap or challenge them and because he was abrasive (not tactful), they would shrink from him. If someone is trying to toughen you up, so you can face the world… then they need to challenge you. Instead of taking it personally, see it as an opportunity. If you are an entrepreneur, this is even more important because you’ll need multiple mentors and coaches to succeed.

The Coachable Mentee

I wish I had been more open, less dogmatic. Now that I’m in my sixties, I still work to be a more approachable and “influenceable” person. What does it look like? Here are few keys:

  • Good listener
  • Able to summarize and feedback the other person’s point of view
  • Strong but pliable

Being coachable doesn’t require talent… it requires awareness… and work. Got a story about being coachable?

Image credit: Banksy on Twitter

Self Respect and the Joy of Self Reliance

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“The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — this is the source from which self-respect springs.” Joan Didion Slouching Towards Bethlehem

But I Don’t Want To…

I hate discipline. I mean, I like it and appreciate it and then again, I loathe it. Why do I have to do so many things I don’t want to do? Dishes, listening, talking to strangers, doing my job? Why can’t I just do what I want, right?

The Journey to Self Respect

Maybe I can get self respect from having stuff, maybe I can get it from other people’s admiration of me (fame, money, position), maybe I can get it from ______ (fill in the blank). I can only speak for myself:  there is a direct line from discipline and self reliance to my self respect. There’s a Billie Holiday song, “God Bless the Child (listen here)” with these lyrics;

Money, you’ve got lots of friends
They’re crowding around your door
But when you’re gone and spending ends
They don’t come no more
Rich relations give crusts of bread and such
You can help yourself, but don’t take too much
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own, that’s got his own

The Struggle Is Real…Really

Sometimes I think we’ve forgotten what it’s really like to struggle. We have less money to spend on clothes or going out to eat so we’re upset. But we are not Syrians or Southern Sudanese where bombs drop on our homes every day. Most of us don’t want for food or shelter. In the most privileged country in the world, we still feel entitled to complain. This is not to take away from real problems and struggles of abuse, poverty, equality. We must fight to improve how we help and change the world.

People ask me how I raised my children to care about the world and not be materialistic. I hope I taught them to value experiences over things, to value a person and their dignity over, well, maybe anything. I have a long way to go in improving myself. I’m happy to report it’s a life long journey. I’ll let this serve as a reminder to myself to pay attention to my own ability to depend on myself and the joy and serenity that brings.

Image credit: Picture Quotes

Billie Holiday lyrics: God Bless The Child

Embracing the Mess

blogged at <a href="http://www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/">www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/</a> blogged at <a href="http://www.harrowdrive.com/">www.harrowdrive.com/</a...

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Elizabeth Gilbert

“Doggone It, People Like Me” Jack Handey

I spent a lot of my younger years thinking that I was crazy, a mess, not that bright… very negative self talk. It took me many years to realize that everyone is a ‘hot mess’. That being a gloppy, bumpy, goofy, awkward human means that I am alive. That I am taking risks, putting myself out there, getting my hands dirty.

And that’s how it should be.

Change Your Self-Talk

So if you think of yourself as a mess, you’re probably doing it right. Work on changing your negative self talk to something positive:

  • Lighten up
  • It’s all good
  • I am enough (I used this affirmation for years)
  • Other people feel as awkward as I do (believe me, 95% of people do)
  • Easy does it
  • How important is it?

These days, I say, “it’s all good” nearly every day. The things I used to spend hours worrying about either never happened or whatever DID happen, I never could have predicted or prepared for.  Sure there are lots of things that happen in the world that are not “all good”- e.g. war, abuse and hunger. Today, I work to figure out what can I do something about and then do it. The rest of my awkward, weird, silly, ridiculous, lazy, lame and ludicrous self… I give her a pass.

Image credit: Enjoying the cake  Hoyasmeg

Live Gently, Let Go Gracefully

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Ugh, it’s hard to be gentle and graceful when the world makes me mad. And it’s especially hard to let go of things that I think I want or keep me comfortable.

Live Gently

  1.  For me, it means, walking and talking softly. I have a very loud voice. I talk fast and with enthusiasm. I overwhelm some people. So I work on slowing down, quieting down, think of my edges as being rounded not square.
  2. I try not to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’; I prefer experiences.
  3. Reacting to other people’s perceptions of me is a waste of time. The core of who I am is (I hope) unassailable.

Let Go Gracefully

Really? This is not my strong suit. If you’ve come into the orbit of my life then I think it’s my job to help you. But many people come and go and don’t need anything from me. They need a smile, maybe a kind word.

  1. If I am struggling with something or someone, that’s because I have not accepted “it” as it is. I want to change it, shape it or fix it.
  2. I have had particular struggles letting go at work. When money is concerned, I tend to be rigid, fearful. This comes from growing up poor.
  3. Change is hard. If I can create the change, then it’s easier for me to accept (I’m more graceful?) But when it is imposed on me, my back goes up. Letting go of what I know or believe is like bleeding. I’m right; when in truth, I may be wrong.

In the search for serenity (note: as distinct from happiness), walking softly and letting go gracefully are key.

Image Credit: Buddha Quotes

The Beauty of the Winter Garden

It’s Not Beautiful, It’s Dead

In the middle of winter, we think about the green of summer, the abundance of the garden, the color of the flowers and wish that things were different. We forget to look at the garden as beautiful. If we take a few minutes and look carefully, we’ll see many unexpected things. First, we’ll see more shades of white, black and gray than we thought possible. We’ll see the outline of things that are blocked by the leaves and greenery. We might notice the hardiness of the evergreen or the way grasses turn brown and yet still blow in the wind. But we must pay attention to see these things.

It’s Dead and It’s Beautiful

Just like in life, we might dismiss a person who doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ the way we think they should or we might miss the importance of kindness in everyday life. If kindness is the stem and roots, then it will be present no matter the season.  The joy of appreciating the winter garden is that it teaches us to appreciate our days in all their phases – happy, sad, structured, confusing, etc. . Think about how the winter garden shows us how to accept wherever we are and even find joy and beauty there.

Photo credit: Winter Garden  Ms. Lea

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) Makes Everything Worse

When I find myself stressed, I try to remember to check for these 4 things before I do or say anything else.

Hungry

I’m not good when I’m hungry. I can get snippy and rude. It’s not my intention, but it happens. I’ve learned over the years to keep a granola bar or some nuts with me so I don’t snap. I love chocolate but I find if I eat candy, that only helps for a little while, then I crash and feel worse. If I check my hunger first, it’s easier for me to check on the other triggers.

Angry

For people living with dysfunction, this is a constant. Growing up with alcoholics, I found comfort in chaos. I know this sounds strange but it’s what I knew best so when things were calm, I was uncomfortable.  I was angry at circumstances outside of my control. I didn’t know how to channel my energy into positive actions. Fortunately, I got help and learned to recognize this behavior. A lot of my anger was ‘stuffed’ down because ‘girls’ aren’t supposed to get angry. It’s not ladylike  (I hate that expression). So what’s a person to do with all those negative feelings? Some of us turn them on ourselves by eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, starving, whatever… to help us forget, to help us cope. But none of those help us process our anger and figure out how to move forward. I learned to beat the bed with a tennis racket, scream as loud as I can, put on loud music and dance around, throw plastic containers at the wall (gratifyingly noisy without any serious cleanup.)

Lonely

This one is easy to recognize and harder (in my opinion) to solve. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting out and being with people, even strangers. But most of the time, loneliness is cured by being with someone who really cares about me and who knows how to show it. This can be hard to find. I had to write down, on paper, the names of people that I could turn to when I was lonely. Why? Because in my mind, I was alone. The list helped to remind me that there were people and I could call them just to say hi, listen to their voices and feel better.

Tired

This is alternatively the easiest and the hardest to resolve. Chronic tiredness is normal in modern living.  So the easy thing to do is to just stop and rest. The hard thing to do is to figure out how to get everything done and still have time to rest. I have no suggestions. We each have to find our own way.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, think of HALT, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Check each one and see what you can do to address these BEFORE you respond to the boss, your peer, your spouse, your child, etc. Teach your kids about H.A.L.T. It’s a life skill that provides life long benefits.

Image credit: windowlight