Connecting with the Old

Ray and I celebrated our sixteen year wedding anniversary on Friday of last week. To mark the occasion, we decided to go out to dinner to a new restaurant for us. We were both pretty sure that we knew basically where the restaurant was; we know our city well, so off we went (I should note that I even forgot my cell phone at home). We got to the neighborhood where the restaurant is located and nothing was there, just apartments, it was completely residential. We decided to drive around the block. And again. And again. Finally, after driving around for about 15 minutes in a four block radius, we determined that we did not have the correct address for the restaurant. We had a small discussion about where to go next and ended up at a restaurant that we go to frequently. We walked in to a packed restaurant with no reservations. One of the owners found us a cozy spot; brought us some sparkling wine and we settled in for the evening. We had great conversation and were able to reflect and connect in a way that was truly special for the occasion. Maybe we would have been able to do the same thing at the other restaurant, maybe not.

While I believe in the power of change, sometimes there is value in tradition and comfort. The time in our familiar place gave us the space to really connect and talk about our next years together.

What places give you an opportunity to connect deeper with yourself, or with someone you care about?

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New Things

Why is it that we are so willing to learn new technology but we are hesitant to learn other new things? For example I am writing this on a netbook. I have never used one but am considering a purchase and wanted to try it out. I made a phone call, borrowed one and here it is. The netbook has been in my house for less than an hour and I have turned it on and started typing. Yet I have been saying for two years that I want to try yoga, and have not done so. There is even a great studio less than a block from my home. My first thought is to believe that I am using this technology in the comfort of my own home and yoga would be in front of other people, but I tend to think it is more than that. As a culture, we don’t just willy-nilly try new things. We have to have it sold, justified and proven before we make ourselves vulnerable. Technology is so imbedded into the culture that we don’t think twice.

How will you ever make the change you want to see in your life if you are not willing to try something new?

This week a netbook, next week yoga.

Whew, April Went Fast

Where did April go? The older I get, the faster time seems to pass and I find myself not wanting to miss even a minute. I would like to say that there is a reason I did not post the entire month of April. Sadly, there is not. There have been some professional challenges and some personal challenges but they are all opportunities that if I had chosen to, I could have drawn from. Sadly, I did not. I have a tendency to want my issues solved, wrapped up in a tidy package and tied with a bow. This is not how life works. We are in constant motion and while I do believe in the power of change, it is subtle and quiet. Change is about the choices we make every day, over and over until we carve out new habits.

The reason I have not written this month is because I have been stuck. I continue to receive feedback that my writing feels like I am circling the peripheral, not getting into the meat of it, like the real stuff is just around the corner. I would normally take this as I take all feedback; process it, determine if I believe it and if so, create some strategies for moving forward (after a bit of drama on my part).  This has felt more challenging however. Writing “about” is not a conscious act. I feel that I do expose myself in my writing, but maybe only one layer, maybe there is more there, deeper, closer to the heart of things.

So here I am, ready to step in, admit that this is a challenge for me, and take you on my journey. I will not be afraid to write, it will not be perfect, but I am hoping that it will be real and that as we talk about change, it will not feel like we are all on the outside looking in.

Are You Addicted to Your Busy Life?

I have written about being busy and my addiction to my business but a friend made the comment to me the other day that she wonders if she is addicted to her busy life. She thrives on the drama and the chaos; it keeps her from being quiet with her thoughts. She talked about how each time she creates space to think that she feels more overwhelmed and has no idea where to start. Being so busy actually keeps her from having to accomplish some of the things that she says are important. I told her my story about my dream of being a writer.

When I was twelve years old, my seventh grade English teacher handed me back a paper I had written and told me that she thought my writing had real promise. I remember being so thrilled, no one (other than my parents) had ever told me that I had promise; no one had seen something in me that was unique before. It was in that moment that I decided I wanted to be a writer.

Fast-forward to adulthood and life took over, I worked a job, got married, and started a business; but in the back of my mind, I continued to think that I wanted to write. When I am honest with myself, I have avoided it for years. My fear; this is the dream I have had for longer than any other dream, if I am not good at this or cannot become “successful” what will I dream of, what will I do next? It is then easier to stay busy with other things rather than commit to my dreams, to have the courage to stare at a blank screen and create something from nothing.

Because she is a friend, I felt comfortable in challenging her to find a few minutes here and there to be quiet. I told her:

  • Don’t put any pressure about what this time is supposed to be
  • Get comfortable with nothing, even if only for five minutes

I talk frequently about “baby steps” and whether working to fulfill my dream of writing or guiding her to slow down, it is about small, incremental moments of clarity that build confidence. It is this confidence that pushes you to take more time and value the work.

Capable

Ray asked me recently if I thought he was capable and I of course said yes. He had just told me that one of the things he loves about me is that he thinks I am a capable woman. This question inevitably leads to conversation about how each of us defines “capable”. Ray thinks of me as capable because I am able to get us from point A to point B, I am not directionally challenged. He believes I am capable because I can lift things, I have some physical strength. Overall he believes he can rely on me; I can take charge and make decisions. I told him that while I define capable in a lot of the same ways, I had some additional thoughts. We are always toting things around in a trailer and he can tie down a load; I feel safe during schlepping. He has some skills with electricity and he turns a mean compost pile, I think of him as useful around the house. I also define his capability as being able to communicate and talk through things; if either of us is having an issue, we can sit down and talk about it. To me his ability to communicate makes him a capable partner.

This gets me thinking, is the opposite sex viewed as capable when we have strengths that are not automatic for our sex? These are of course, generalizations, but worth the question I think.

What are your capabilities?

When I started thinking about the word capable my first thoughts were around physical capabilities or relational capabilities. After further reflection, I am also starting to think about the word capable in terms of one’s capability for change, for growth. As we age, it seems like there is a tendency to become more rigid, more locked in our ways and less capable of change.

So I thought I should ask; what defines your capability for change?

Just

How many times have you started a sentence with, “I am just…?” I do it all of the time with statements like:

  • I am just a part-time employee… I am not contributing as much as someone who works full-time.
  • I am just someone who writes on a blog occasionally… I am not a writer.
  • I just workout 2-3 times a week… I am not an athlete.

I think I might be holding myself back because I am just afraid of failing.

How are you limiting yourself by starting your sentences with “just”? What if we started our sentences with I am just amazing, I am just accomplishing great things?

I am going to try to change my perspective on ‘just’ to include living in the present. I am just here, right here, right now, in this moment. I am just so grateful.

Questioning

Standardization is a form of isolation.

This is a statement I read somewhere, who really remembers where, but it made me wonder how isolation is related to change.

Think of the last time you were at the grocery store. Let’s pretend that you need a pound of hamburger. You wander over and notice the variety of meats available and how attractively it is all packaged. The color of the meat shines through the cellophane and all of the packages are lined up next to one another. This is not a new; we understand that the food industry is standardized because there are billions of people to feed. Everything is packaged in an attractive manner so that you buy more expensive things like the rib-eye when you had intended on purchasing the hamburger.

When working to make changes in my life, I have a tendency to try to standardize things. I put personal policies in place and create systems that I believe set me up for success. In doing this am I actually isolating myself from how I really feel about the change? Am I missing out on some of the struggle behind the change? Am I separated from the environment so that I don’t have to feel?

Creating standardization can eliminate emotion and forgetting about emotions is isolating, I guess that is how isolation is related to change for me. How about you?