While watching the summer games last week, I expected to be inspired by the feats of the amazing athletes. They did not disappoint; from the cycling, to the swimming, the volleyball and the water polo. As usual, I wept, hollered and marveled in what these fellow human beings were doing with their body, mind and spirit.
Since we do not have cable t.v. and Tevo, we often watch the commercials–sometime on mute, but they are on the screen. I must give kudos to the many advertisers that chose to ride the wave of inspiration and shared messages that left me in the question of how can I be my best.
One that stood out for me was an advertisement from Special K cereal. There were all these women, getting ready to stand on a scale and learn their weight on the streets of NYC -really? When they stood on the scale, instead of a number showing up, they flashed words like confidence, courage, joy, laughter and excitement.
They posed the question, What will you gain when you lose? OMG–such a powerful question. This type of inquiry makes a personal growth passionista like myself have “goosies”, to quote Jennifer Lopez.
As I ponder my transition from providing services that I have offered for eleven years, to offering something new, I’m experiencing a blend of excitement and fear. I think it’s similar to what that Olympic diver feels as she steps to the edge of the platform…..breathes…….adjusts…..visualizes….and jumps.
Back to the question, What will you gain when you lose? What will happen when you let go of the fear, doubt, worry, paralyzing thoughts and frustration that your new endeavor or habit is not perfect now? This is such a delightful perspective to explore as you stretch into achieving things you have never accomplished before.
Let’s try it on and see what happens. If I were to lose the nagging belief that I must know everything about being a professional speaker in the same way that I know about professional coaching, I would be willing to try new things without the attachment of getting it right the first time. In turn, I would acquire experience, which would build my confidence. Over time I would obtain the knowledge and confidence I desire to create this new career.
Gain vs. lose–i like it. Thanks for the delicious nugget Special K.
There are many ways to create a life you love, click here for my free e-book, 9 Tips for Living a Joyful Life.
I crave to quench my thirst for more; more of the things that make my heart soar.
Those are simple things, like someone who pays attention when the light turns green and makes the arrow-
yes, I am talking to you, canary yellow 1978 Firebird!
Or the joy of using a public restroom without having sprinkles of someone else’s p-p on the seat-
yes, I am talking to you, the lady who used the bathroom before me at the Starbucks in Decatur!
And, meeting delightful people at the tables around me as we all get cool and caffinated.
That is what makes my heart sing, bringing my internal temperature down to cool and joyful.
December 3, 1978, I was in rehearsal for The Messiah on Hilton Head Island. A writer for The Island Packet attended that night, to do a story about the annual concert. She asked for the oldest and youngest members of the choir, and two of us raised our hand when the age of 23 was called. But I was still 22—for one more day. Spontaneously… the beginning notes of Happy Birthday, and ninety-six voices, in harmony, brought a rush of energy stronger than any tide I’ve ever felt. I’ve savored the memory on the eve of every birthday since.
“Do you have any regrets?” Deneice asked when I turned fifty.
I don’t hold onto regrets for long, so I had to search hard.
I don’t know when or why, but somewhere, sometime, I stopped singing.
Last week, some Sacred Harp—or shape note—saangers were at the Decatur library. They don’t perform, they demonstrate. And then you sing too. Or “saang.” Antique saangin’. A capella. Loud and forceful, in four parts. There is no need to be good: when in doubt, saang louder. It is not timid, but full out.
In the back of my Sacred Harp tune book is a scribbled note from fifteen years ago. Someone said it sounds like “a Bulgarian peasant woman calling hogs.”
The lyrics may not jive with my spiritual beliefs. Nor is my voice as clear and true. But I don’t care too much. It is FUN, and I am singing again! It juices the psyche and fills the soul.
Poet David Whyte recounts a discussion about fatigue with a Benedictine monk who said, …”the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. …The antidote…is wholeheartedness. You’re so exhausted because you can’t be wholehearted at what you’re doing…[for] your real conversation with life is through poetry.”
It gave me pause. What am I not doing with my whole heart? At what price?
Perhaps this is the draw for the twenty and thirty-something urbanites discovering what the geezers have known for decades. Shape note saangin’ brings great joy because it is wholehearted.
Canadian poet Merle Shain understood love. She declared: “If I were to marry again tomorrow, I wouldn’t give up one friend. I’d take them all with me as a sort of dowry and tell my new husband that he was getting a rich wife.”
I’ve always wondered about girls and women who leave their friends behind when a man steals their heart. I don’t get it. What I loved most about The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood was the life-long friendships. Their husbands got a handful!
Last weekend I sat with three women whom I haven’t known long, but already feel that I know well. The breadth of self-disclosure was stunning, the honesty was liberating, the awareness motivating.
I’ve been thinking since about friends—the ones who bring me real joy, what makes them so valuable, and how they touch my soul with such depth, again and again.
There is always genuine interest, good conversation, and enjoyable companionship. We share similar values, but experience and beliefs different enough to be interesting, provocative, and moving. There is empathy and authenticity.
Those who love me most will tell me when I have peas in my teeth, and when I am wrong in my thinking. More, true friends inspire me to be and do my best. They mirror my strengths, and equally, my weaknesses. They’ll let me wallow for a while when things go awry—and they listen completely—then goad me to seek solutions. They nudge me to venture into new territory, and cheer me on whether I stumble or thrive. They laugh at my jokes. As a Native American friend would say, “They give me thunder.”
They are my champions. They give meaning to my life.
And I have the honor of doing the same for them.
Friends and family are oxygen for my soul.
Wikepedia suggests that active listening includes, “suspending judgment and avoiding other internal mental activities to fully attend to the speaker.” Suspending judgment and avoiding internal mental activities? That’s a lot of work!
Indeed it is. However, I find that the more people I meet that have successfully manifested joy and fulfillment in their lives are adept at the practice of active listening. Think about the people you know who demonstrate the highest levels of happiness and fulfillment. They are often the ones who cease multitasking, who maintain steady eye contact and who even go so far as to verbally recap what you just said.
There is another aspect to active listening though that takes it to the next level insofar as truly connecting with others.…and that aspect is empathy.
As the queen of physical and mental multitasking since childhood, hearing my mother tell me, “I lost my mother when I was eight-years old there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her,” was an uncomfortable nudge in the gut. I listened enough all those years to hear what she said, but I resisted the connection. I never really truly heard her. My listening didn’t include the empathic aspect, which would allow me to consider her as a woman with all her experiences rather than just my mom.
Until I was able to find my own strength, joy and fulfillment in life and work, I was not able to stand in someone else’s shoes. And until I was able to truly stand in someone’s shoes while I listened, most of what I would hear from others registered mentally as either background noise if I was deep in the throws of multitasking, or as bits and pieces of factual circumstances.
Today, I find that active listening has become a wonderful tool in my relationships. In both work and play I am watching the effects trickle in – from a warm response from a friend to a successful business interaction. To improve relationships and enhance the connections that I have with those around me, I am committed to tweaking my listening skills. I still love to multitask, but if you need me to hear you, I’m listening!
“I don’t like Fear,” I once told a friend, “It scares me!” That had been my relationship with Fear until seven years ago when I attended a workshop called “Beyond Fear”. I secretly hoped it would give me a workaround for Fear — how to avoid it altogether. But no, the idea was to create a rapport with Fear, feel it, then move beyond it. Not get stuck in it. Not run from it. (Have you noticed that when you run from Fear, it chases you?) The workshop was life changing. I discovered that when I’m afraid and refuse to feel it, I attempt to control.
Control Doesn’t Work.
“News flash” right? Sometimes I forget and reach for control anyway. Which is exactly what I did with my mother last week. She had gone to the ER and released with a nonspecific diagnoses. Under the guise of concern, I told her she shouldn’t drive until she sees her doctor. While that might be good advice, my mother is a capable, adult woman who has managed to make her own decisions for longer than I have been alive. The conversation didn’t go well. She was offended (rightly so) and I was righteous (wrongly so).
Righteous Yields to What’s Right.
Days passed. I was uneasy about the conversation but convinced I was right. Then, while shuffling papers on my desk, my eyes landed on a random note: “Attempts to control always fail. Control, no matter the origin, comes down to fear.” Hmmmm. In my refusal to feel fear, I had reached for control which hadn’t worked, of course.
I called my mother and started a new conversation: ”I’m sorry for trying to control you by telling you not to drive. The truth is, I was/am scared…” We then had a beautiful, easy conversation about what really matters and about how challenging it can be to stay in the present moment when we are afraid. I noticed how close I felt to her and how surprisingly grateful I was for my Fear. When I simply let myself feel it, it led me to my heart and brought me closer to a precious relationship with my mother.
One of my blogging idols, Patti Digh, shared the concept of Reverb 10 on her site. I love the idea and am enrolled in the concept of blogging every day in December. The posts will be about the topic that Reverb 10 shares with us. It is all about reflecting on 2010 and preparing for 2011. For me, it is going to be flow of conscious, minimal editing and maximum sharing from the heart–fun, exciting and scary all in one blogpost! You can learn more about it here. In the meantime, I am commited to 10 minutes a day on the given topic-let’s see what shows up…..
A smile, holding the door, letting you in in traffic, my accessories, my perspective on life, my joy in crying at the drop of a hat and watching others do the same–deeply feeling all that is in the world. These are some of the things that I see as making me beautifully different and that create more joy and beauty in the world. Even the items on this list that may be seen as small acts of kindness, can make someone’s day.
I love the concept of making someones day. What is even better is when I get to do it on a regular basis. This idea of daymaking was introduced to me many years ago by David Wagner. Over years of repitition, it is now a habit. At first, I craved the acknowldegment and appreciation from these gifts of kindness. Today, it fills my heart just from the selfless act. I say selfless, because I expect nothing in return, yet it does make me feel so good. It is a true win-win.
Next year I am stepping into some new leadership roles. I am thrilled about the opportunity to share myself from a place of authentic expression. My desire is that it gives more people an opportunity to express themselves as beautifully different and share their gifts with the world–that is delicious!
No offense to our Bryson City citizens, but after a few weeks of living here, we started to think that there were some pretty weird birds living here. There are so many “characters” and if you live or work in town, pretty much everyone knows them by description at least.
I grew up in Orlando, lived 13 years in Birmingham and the last 11 in Atlanta, so its safe to say I’ve really never experienced small town living. In fact, over the past 5 years in Atlanta, I focused my life in a small area of the east side of town which was comprised largely of my type of people – earth lovin’, beer drinking, outdoorsy hippies who own small businesses. I bet you are wondering actually how many people in Atlanta meet that particular criteria. Well, out of the 4 million people in Atlanta, believe it or not, there are a lot! And once I surrounded myself with these EL, BD, O, H, BO people, I was quite happy, enjoying life and encountering very few beings along my way who were not like me.
Well now in Bryson, yes, I immediate found earth lovin’, beer drinking, outdoorsy hippies who own or work in small businesses – all 20 of them, but I run across a whole heck of a lot of people who are NOT at all like that every day. I walk by them on my way to work, encounter them in the neighborhood, at the Ingles or at the “green cans.” Some smoke, some litter right in front of you, some sell puppies from the back of their trucks, some are high, some don’t work, and a few don’t have teeth. Some ain’t from around here, and some lived here for generations. Some run for every office imaginable, some skateboard, some shop at the Dollar General every day, some ride the train, some grunt instead of say hello, and some pass out Jesus tracts on the street. Some will engage you in conversation about their entire life in just a few moments from a town bench.
So I find that I am exposed to a more diverse community here in a town of 2,000 then I ever was in Atlanta. Yes, I would love to hang with just my top 20 peeps, but you can’t. Even in my yoga class the other day where I am surrounded by people who are all intent on the same objective, some dude busted in asking if his friend still worked there (clearly, he did not notice all the people in pigeon pose scattered on the floor of the studio).
Ultimately, here in Bryson City, you have to co-exist with those who are vastly different than you. I am noticing that my work is not only to have a positive impact, but to change from within, accepting the things that make us all unique on this huge planet. And I’m experiencing more love and acceptance for others, and I’m also more comfortable with who I am as a unique human being in this community.
Noticing the Great Big World in My Little Town,
Joy. What makes us experience joy? When I live in harmony with my nature and allow myself to be me, I experience the most joy. When I don a mask to protect or defend myself out in the world, I am not happy. When I don that mask I feel stress that gradually accumulates out of the pit of my stomach and affects my behavior a little more each day, until I find myself lashing out at those who are closest to me (of course they’re the ones who will forgive me… right?)
When I take the masks off and allow myself to be me, no matter how vulnerable I feel, no matter how I have to force myself to be brave, no matter that initially it may feel incredibly uncomfortable, there is an honesty that comes into play, that feels so good, when I no longer try to pretend to be something that I’m not. In Taoism it is said that humans are naturally kind. When I allow that kindness in my life, life responds in equal or greater measure with kindness.
It’s a little like when you go into the grocery store and smile at everyone no matter how grumpy they appear to be. Most people respond with a smile. Not only do they smile, but often their inner light will come shining through like a beacon, reinforcing the smile in you. When we take off our mask and allow our natural self to enjoy the moment and live in that moment, life can be so much easier and so much more joyful.
Sometime, more often than I like to admit, I forget and find myself in an unhappy state, rushing around, trying to force the universe to conform to my will, instead of allowing it to be itself and me to be me. When I catch myself in that mode, I try to reset – to bring out that inner smile, to find the good in the moment, to let go of the past and the future, and just to revel in the beauty around me and within each perfect moment, to be in Joy.