Practice: Showing Up

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 11.48.35 AM

Lately, I’ve been noticing times when something’s really bugging me but I don’t speak up. Why don’t I say something? A few reasons:

  • Don’t want to start a conflict
  • Can’t figure out a “nice” way to say it
  • Maybe it isn’t my place
  • Don’t believe my speaking up will change anything, and therefore it’s not worth the effort

My DH offered that speaking up can simply be good practice. My reactions to that were “true” and “meh.” Poor guy, why am I dismissive of good practice? I’ll come back to that.

Good practice or not, I became aware of my attachment to a certain outcome. Maybe saying something is good practice. But when I say something and nothing the thing that I wanted doesn’t happen, I get frustrated. My “why bother?” feelings kick in. And they stop me from trying again. This felt like an important realization! What if I could say something and let go of my attachment to a particular outcome? 

That was as far as the exercise went until I saw Justine Musk‘s tweet today.

Argument doesn’t change people (good stories change people) but it helps you deepen + refine your own understanding of what you stand for.

DING went the light bulb! Her words address two areas of my struggle:

  • Changing others
  • Clarity of self expression

My story about speaking up is that “we can’t change other people. So it’s not my place / not worth it / why bother.” But people do change, sometimes nudged by outside influences. I can see how stories are way more effective than complaining.

Justine’s tweet also helps me in the “let go of my attachment” department. Speaking up is not about changing someone’s mind or winning an argument. It’s about getting clear about my own thinking and being able to express it. I do have feelings about some topics of our day (Uber-style businesses, the digital divide, income inequality) but rarely say anything. The times that I’ve tried to recently, I quickly get tongue tied and stall out. Maybe there’s something to this practice thing after all.

 

Link

Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/negative-emotions-key-well-being/

I’ve been struggling with my negativity and being down on myself for it. Seeing this article was timely for me! HT @whitneyhess on Twitter.

Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment.

One of the primary reasons we have emotions in the first place is to help us evaluate our experiences.

Even if you successfully avoid contemplating a topic, your subconscious may still dwell on it.

Researchers found that those who restrained their thinking more often had stronger stress responses to the cues than did those who suppressed their thoughts less frequently.

Closing out 2015

sunset

The remains of the day, seen through the sunroom window

I’d planned to let this day pass quietly and without ceremony, a day like any other. It fits the pattern for most of my days this year – quiet, low demands, not doing too much, maybe just enough. But then my friend popped up in chat yesterday and asked, “What word would you choose to sum up 2015?” She said she was picking the same word as last year, which reminded me…. I’d totally forgotten that I picked a word on this day last year! My word for 2015 was “open”.

In some ways, I’m not sure if I met my intention of being open very well. I said no to many things. Often, saying no to things opens space for something else. Except I filled my space up with Facebook and various other online streams, a constant consuming of the sharing, pictures, interests, and thoughts of all of you. Thanks for keeping me such good company this year!

I did open myself to a few fun adventures this year:

I’m struggling a bit to pick a word for 2016. My low-demand lifestyle has quite a hold on me. This year also had big helpings over thinking, rebellion, and resistance, which are making themselves known in this exercise right now! In light of these experiences, my word for 2016 is “softness”. Another big player in 2015 was a certain, frustrated sound, “UUURRRGHHH!!!!!” My wish for 2016 is to have more relaxed “Ahhhhhh……”. Whatever comes my way, may I meet it with Ahhhh… May I relax my grip on perfectionism, judgment, and fear. May the grip of shoulds relax their hold on me. May we all relax and be soft with each other.

Happy new year, dear friends! Thank you for your friendship, your sharing, and for showing up. Wishing us all peace, ease, and our heart’s desire in the new year.

Somewhere After The Rainbow (Moving Beyond Profile Pics)

After the events of the past week in the US – the marriage equality ruling and the Charleston hate crime – I have been wondering what can *I* personally do to help effect positive change. This is new territory for me. I’m grateful for Pastor John Pavlovitz’s suggestion:

“Laws and amendments and judicial rulings can change policy, but only relationships can alter people. I’m inviting those with rainbow profile photos (and those who echo their sentiments) to engage those of differing opinions, who are willing to have a conversation; not a public, passive-aggressive volleying of Scripture quotes and personal jabs and article shares, but an honest, open, fully vulnerable exchange.

That’s the only way we move forward from here, the only way we can fashion something deeper and more lasting and more worthy of co-owning.”

john pavlovitz

Rainbow Heart

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Marriage finally came down last week—and both Hell and Heaven broke loose, depending on your perspective.

Exhilaration soon followed for those seeing this as a long overdue victory for civil marital equality, while outrage reigned for religious folks believing it to be the final nail in the coffin of Biblical Matrimony.

And there was of course, a flurry of sentiments from both sides on social media; effusive celebration and grief-laden hand wringing flying in as fast as your browser could refresh.

Yet nothing in all of those eloquent words from either side, spoke as clearly and loudly as the brilliant prismatic display of love and affirmation found in the rainbow profile photos now dominating timelines worldwide. That’s been the most visible, most revelatory element of the past week, with over 26 million people already choosing to “Amen” the Supreme Court’s decision using their own images.

Perhaps the most telling aspect, is that these multicolored flags haven’t just been flown by the LGBT…

View original post 564 more words

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge

I Don’t Like Running. So Why the Heck Do I Do It?

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge

Mermaid Sirena 10 mile run, November 2014

Some people love running. LOOOVE it. The endorphin kick, the runner’s high, feeling fleet and strong and free. These people look forward to running, have running shoes in the car just in case, and get disappointed when they can’t go for a run.

I am not one of these people. For me, running is <grunt>. Aack. Bleah. Oof. Running is a hard slog.

My Facebook timeline seems to tell a different story. Training runs. Event sign-ups. Running selfies. Victorious finish-line photos. Between what I post about running vs. how I feel about running, there’s a big disconnect. How can I train for and participate in all these running events if I really don’t like running?

“Are you sure you don’t like running?” my friends ask. “How can that be? There must be something you like about it.”

“Um…… <thinking> Not really.” I was stumped myself. How can this be? Why do I keep doing it? I’ve asked myself this question off and on for several years.

This week, as I was proudly showing my newly-earned Hot Chocolate 15k hoodie, I was again asked, “Are you sure you don’t like running?” And I gave a new answer.

“Maybe I like running more than I thought.”

Huh. That was different! All this time, I’ve been very conscious of what I don’t like about running. Running is hard. I get out of breath. Things hurt. I get blisters. If I don’t drink enough water the day before, man – I feel parched during a run. My digestion can get jostled around. No wonder I don’t like running! No wonder I don’t look forward to it.

But with this new thought, I asked myself again, “Why do I do it? What do I like about running?”

Here’s what I realized. I run because:

  • It’s good for me. OK, that’s not a new realization. I’ve always had this as a reason, but it felt like a “should”. But should or not, it’s a healthy activity. I don’t do much exercise otherwise. If I run properly with good form, I can do it and not get injured.
  • It causes me to be intensely present with myself and my body. I’m constantly monitoring how I’m doing. Out of breath? Slow down. Something hurts? Shift. It’s absolutely hateful? Run for at least one mile (and then I can stop if I want). Being highly aware of my body and adjusting to take care of it seems like a really great practice.
  • I actually do enjoy noticing improvement. We all have different measurements and definitions for improvement. I just needed to let go of fear of judgment and defensiveness around definitions that are different from mine.

Among my running friends, I’m known for being strongly opposed to running a marathon or achieving a certain speed. I almost never say “I want to beat my time from last year.” But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get better. Of course I care about my pace. I feel pride and embarrassment just like anyone. But my running goals are not a marathon or a PR. My running goals are: enjoy myself and don’t get injured. In terms of how my body’s doing, these goals are measured by: the run felt easy, I felt good and strong, and I didn’t get hurt. There are runs where I meet these goals! And that achievement feels so good!

  • It’s fun to run in an organized event! I love that traffic is blocked off, or you get to run in a beautiful nature setting, and someone else has laid out the course. The energy of so many other runners around feels like a supportive embrace. It’s especially fun to sign up with friends, to give encouragement at the start and cheers at the end. And sometimes there’s really good event swag.

Earlier this week, my dear husband said to me, “You do the running. But when you talk about running, it feels like you don’t have yourself. What reasons do you have for running that are just for you?” I loved that question. And I love that I’m finally seeing some answers about myself.

Don’t worry. I still don’t love running. I’m still grouchy, fussy me. But maybe I really do like running more than I thought. This post is for the others of you out there who don’t love running, and who do it anyway. Fast or slow, enthusiastic or not – if you run, you are a runner. Rock on, fellow athletes!

Closing out 2014

shadows

The last shadows of 2014. Long live the new year!

Thank you, 2014 – a year in which I:

  • Made new friends
  • Said a few goodbyes – some expected, some not
  • Did a lot of running. My relationship with running is on the rocks right now, so it’s astonishing to me that I trained for and ran about twelve events, including three half-marathons
  • Went on some wonderful trips – Tahoe, Truckee, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Vancouver, Yosemite
  • Navigated a surgery and came out practically unscathed. The bark was way bigger than the bite
  • Took a big, long vacation

I’m seeing some friends pick a “word of the year” as we get ready to turn the giant hourglass. I didn’t have a word in mind for 2014. Looking back, the word that sums up my year is “indulgence”. I indulged myself in so many ways this year:

  • Dates with friends and family
  • Perfecting my life as a kitty
  • Exploring new activities – drawing, journaling, volunteering, beer appreciation (I learned I like IPAs)

I also indulged myself in some not-so-positive ways: whining, wallowing, lethargy, sloth. I indulged myself in not doing anything that I didn’t want to do. That sounds great, but the list of what I DO want to do didn’t auto-populate. How strange. Something wrong in the configuration, or I don’t understand how the feature works.

I have so much to look forward to in 2015! I don’t know what those things are yet. So my word for 2015 is “open”. Open to insights, adventures, clarity, and joy. Open to trying new items on a “go do / go discover” list that I create. Open to hearing the sound of my own inner wisdom, and open to trusting myself.

Thank you for your friendship, for your cheers and love, for being lights on my path! Raising my glass to toast the best to you in 2015!

Sabbatical Out Loud: Working on Vision and Anger

Our vision is actionable only if we share itIn the spirit of #WOLWeek – Working Out Loud Week – and feeling kicked in the butt inspired by the above quote from Simon Sinek, here are two things I’m working on.

1. My next job

The biggest project for my sabbatical is: figure out what work I want to do. I want a really clear vision that I can work towards and use as a touchstone. What will I truly enjoy doing? What can I feel connected to? What is important? What’s a good use of my time? Where and how can I use my gifts? How can I provide value? After bumping around with these questions for a while – reading online, reading books, talking to people, journaling, day dreaming – I’m finally seeing some themes that feel right to me. They include:

  • Relationship, connection, caring about people. My gift is to help people feel seen, valued, liked, and supported. This gift is also my drive. I can’t NOT do it.
  • “Delighting the customer” as a core business value.
  • Putting employees first as a core value – valuing, celebrating, supporting.
  • Humanizing work / the workplace / business. “Humanize” isn’t my favorite word. I was sad to read that “being human” is becoming a buzzphrase (i.e., stripped of impact), just like I was sad when authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency became buzzwords. But I suppose the good news is that more people are becoming interested in relationships, connection, and treating each other as people, not as robots or productivity resources.
  • Who says you can’t express love at work? OK, a lot of people have said that. But a shift has started. Here’s a whole list of companies that are making the shift.

I feel like I’m gathering ingredients for a stew, simmering them, stirring. I don’t know yet where these themes are leading or what the result will look like. Do I go work for a company, become a consultant, create something new? We’ll see!

2. Anger management

I’ve known for a long time that I have an anger pattern. (My poor mom and husband are nodding.) When the going gets tough, uncomfortable, scary, or frustrating, I get mad. This comes up in so many areas of my life, personal and professional. I get mad, and then fight-or-flight kicks in. I either come out swinging, or I have an urge to run away to avoid fighting. Geez, no wonder I’m so tired and grouchy so much of the time!

My trusty therapist told me that anger is a cover-up for other feelings. When I get mad, I can use it as a signal to stop and check: What am I really feeling underneath? With that awareness, how do I want to proceed? I’m going to experiment with using TAGteach to shift the anger pattern and create a different behavior.

  • Current behavior: Get triggered, get mad, stay mad, and react from there.
  • Desired behavior: I want to be calm, curious, relaxed, and open.

I haven’t created tag points for myself before. I wonder if this will work. A tag point is the desired behavior. “Don’t get triggered” or “don’t get mad” are not good behavior change goals, and they aren’t tag points. Triggered and mad are gonna happen. I think my tag point is “relax”. Notice myself feeling angry, choose relaxation. (And then click / reward / treat. Mustn’t forget to celebrate!)

Why am I working on this? I think it will be useful for me in so many situations:

  • When I’m faced with differing opinions and (feel like I) have to convince someone. Those interactions can quickly feel like a fight to me, rather than a conversation.
  • When I feel frustrated. Triggers: Unmet expectations, mis-understandings, disappointment, lack of clarity.
  • When I feel impatient. Which is often! (aaack!)
  • When I feel hopeless. “This will never work / change / go anywhere / matter anyway.”

My hope is to shift the anger and channel the energy for good, not for grouchiness. I see how my fight-or-flight problem has sent me running away from so many things. Or worse, not trying at all. That’s not who I want to be.

Wrap-up

I’m working on:

  1. Creating my vision for the work I want to do. It will be related to helping people feel seen, valued, liked, supported, and well-served.
  2. Shifting my hair-trigger anger pattern.

Why I’m sharing:

“Our vision is actionable only if we share it.” This is a step for me to take action. I’m reminded of AC4P – Actively Caring for People – and what their mission stands for: Caring about people, and showing it via action. Caring is not enough; you actually have to do something. Working out loud helps me along the path to doing something.

How you can help, if you’re so moved:

  • Ask me questions
  • Offer suggestions or ideas
  • Tell me about stories that may have come up for you as you read this post

… or leave me a comment with other help that I should have asked for, but didn’t think of. 🙂

——
Mentor credits (mentoring via me stalking them):