Wednesday, October 23, 2013


As I look back on the selection of my one-little-word, my focus for 2013, I realize how it continues to guide me.  For 2013, my word is “being”.  It is active, powerful, and one that represents the right now.  The meaning behind my definition of “being” includes:

Being open and aware.  Letting go.  Discovering.  Teaching.  Learning.  Sharing.  Being spontaneous.  Reading.  Writing.  Photographing the memories.  “Being” in the moment, right now.

This week, I started a six-week e-course with a new favorite author of mine, Brene Brown Gifts of Imperfection.  And, while I hesitate taking on another commitment during this busy time of year, I also believe this course comes at a perfect time.  An opportunity for me to be open and aware as I continue to discover what there still is to learn on this journey.  I plan to document this experience over the next few weeks; I want to remember each revelation along the way. 

After hiding out on safe ground for a while, I know I need to push just enough each week to get beyond it.  Along with my intentions of “being” this year, I’ve challenged myself to get “uncomfortable”, at least once a week. Getting uncomfortable has sometimes been a difficult appointment, phone call or conversation.  And other times it’s finding the courage to share an idea or thought with someone new, without worrying about what they will think.   

So, what better way for me to continue on this journey of getting uncomfortable than to take a course requiring me to be transparent and creative through writing and drawing in an art journal.  (Just a visit to the art supply store made my palms sweat; my only comfort with art involves a child and Crayola markers.)

In our first e-course lesson, we are asked to create permission slips for ourselves as we begin this experience.  Mine includes permission:

-To take time for this project
-To not have the answer
-To change my mind
-To be creative
-To first go with my gut response
-To not over think
-To keep it simple
-To have fun

At work, I‘ve recently started leading an accountability skills group with some of my colleagues.  While teaching continues to be one of my greatest passions, I still get nervous and intimidated every time.  The pressure of providing value for each participant, something that changes his or her experience, weighs heavy on me. 

So, I tried it out this morning. I took a slip of paper and created a “permission slip” for myself for the next hour. It read:

-To be nervous (I’m not perfect but I am enough)
-To start, stop and start over if I need to (to self correct in front of people)
-To make it fun (to have fun)
-To learn something (not worry about having all the answers)

As I stuffed it in my shoe and headed to class, I felt my shoulders soften and breaths deepen, lifting the pressure as I allowed myself to be more present in the moment. 

After quieting my own voice I was able to listen; I took the focus from what could go wrong with me to the possibility of what I could learn from the rest of the group. 

Everyday life, this is the real classroom, the one that counts. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Connect. Engage. Grow.

I remember how walking into a room full of people use to feel.  When the anticipation of engaging in conversation excited me, motivated me, lit me up.  I still couldn’t get myself there; it was like the light switch went off inside me. 

At the time, I didn’t notice when or why it had happened.  I remember feeling repulsed by the idea of small talk and irrelevant exchange between people who didn’t really matter to me.  I know it sounds harsh; it’s still hard to write.  Should have been the first sign, since I’m typically a very outgoing and social person. 

I’ve blamed it on being a working mom (sounds fair and incontestable); motherhood is the most exhausting job on the planet, right?  Pulled in a million directions, putting everyone’s needs before my own, a tiresome output of energy lacking enough time for rest and solitude.  Sounds very victim-y of me, I know, but it’s exactly where I was.  Something wasn’t right and deep down I knew it. My perception of the outside world had changed and on the inside I felt guarded, anxious and fearful.

For as comfortable as I had become with abandoning meaningful connection in my life, I am thankful to have noticed something was missing. This past year has brought much revelation around the explanation of who I was or more importantly who I was not.  I believe this is a testament to being in the right place at the right time, with the right people.

Two things have helped change the course for me.  At work, I began showing up more—physically and emotionally.  And, in this time I was exposed to an incredible philosophy of looking at life and work differently through a leadership program based on the principles of   This program is where my awareness began to grow. I started questioning my intentions in life, what I wanted and where I was headed. I was treading water; I had gotten too comfortable with what was safe. And as the weight of fear, anxiety and discontentment began to resurface, I saw for the first time how they were holding me back.    

I remember first hearing about living with a scarcity vs. abundant mindset and believing I had it all figured out. Scarcity didn’t show up until I started looking closer at the little places in life—my reaction to a change in weekend plans, the rage from Ava dropping a bowl of cereal on the carpet when I’d asked her to eat at the table, my impatience with Carson that sent me walking away as he threw himself down in a crying fit, frustrated in his inability to communicate his needs.  A fear of the unknown or “what if” would derail me for days; I was defensive and on-edge in the day-to-day interaction with my family.  The more I looked for it, the more scarcity showed up.  It was in the small choices I was making, much more dangerous and insidious than I was aware. 

It was the book DaringGreatly where I began really learning and understanding the why’s of how I had become so closed.  It brings comfort to put words on feelings; this book was the invitation for me to get the courage to forgive myself and move beyond it.  I learned about the danger of disengagement and the compound effect it can have in a slow erosion of relationships over time.  I’m thankful to recognize that this is exactly where I was in my work, my marriage and parenting.  Engaging with people half-heartedly was dangerous for me and easy to do; I had gotten good at hiding it and could see how dim the light in me had become because of it.

When I think about how it will be different moving forward as I navigate through difficult and uncertain times in life, I will spend less time with my eyes closed, holding my breath, waiting for it all to pass.  Less time blaming myself, less time blaming others.  I will spend more time talking about the fear and discomfort while reaching out to the support around me. I will spend more time in the middle of it all, present, aware, and engaged in the solution.    

There is a deep conviction in me that believes the energy and authenticity of how I engage and connect with people around me depends greatly on my ability to show up in the day-to-day, smaller places of life.   This is my advantage, my greatest resource.  And while it is a daily commitment, an ongoing challenge, it will allow me to push and grow in new directions; further than I’d go alone.