Category Archives: dealing with stuff

The Fragility of Ideas

Sometimes you get an idea.

It could be for a new product or service. Or it could be for a new focus for your biz.

And at first, you’re head over heels in love (or at least in lust) with the idea. It’s all you can think about.

Then you realize, it’s probably time to get some outside feedback before you commit to moving forward.

As tends to happen with feedback, some people love it, some like it, and a few of them really aren’t into it. (Even though you were hoping that every single person would tell you it was the best idea since the DVR.)

Then, suddenly, you’re not sure what you were thinking. And you’re not sure how you feel about your idea anymore.

Maybe it’s just me, but even a little bit of negative feedback feels like having someone piss on my Wheaties.

Start by stopping

When you feel that sense of disappointment about the feedback you received, you need to stop and clear everyone else’s voices and opinions out of your head (and heart).

Because this is the moment where it would be really easy to convince yourself the idea isn’t worth pursuing, just because a couple of people who were honest with you didn’t love the idea.

Now is when you ask some questions. Questions like…

Who loved (and liked) your idea? Are they your Right People?

Have they bought from you in the past? Do they read your blog faithfully? Have they signed up for your newsletter or advance discount list?

If they’ve done one or more of those things, that’s a good sign they’re your Right People.

Who thought the idea needed work? Are they your Right People?

If they’ve never bought from you, aren’t on your list, and don’t read your blog much, take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Often, family members and co-workers (and sometimes even our friends) fall into this category. Be especially careful of listening to feedback from these groups.

What – exactly – did people say about the idea?

If you can get some emotional distance and listen objectively, often you’ll find that the negative feedback came from a misunderstanding of what you were proposing.

And that’s good information to have because it means there’s something about your idea (or how you’re communicating it) that isn’t clear enough.

“Not clear enough” does not equal “not a good idea.” You may want to ask for clarification from them. Or to offer clarification of your own.

That’s assuming, of course, you’re talking to your ideal people.

How does the idea in question fit with the over all vision you have for your business? Is the idea in line with your values and your biz’s values (and purpose)?

If your idea doesn’t fit the big-picture direction you’re trying to go, check in with yourself about why you’re so infatuated with it.

Don’t dismiss it out of hand, though, because there’s probably something in there that you want or need. So how can you give that to yourself without pursuing an idea that’s not aligned with you or your biz?

The point:

Your idea only needs to appeal to the people you want to serve in your business.

If your idea resonates with your ideal clients, and is in line with your overall vision, you’re probably going in the right direction. Even if it scares the shit out of you.

Negative feedback from your not-Right People is a good thing, even if it hurts. It means the stuff you’re doing to attract only your ideal clients is working. (Thanks to Jenny Bones for reminding me about this today.)

And always remember: Regardless of how uncomfortable it is to put our ideas to the test,you are the one who knows what’s best for you and your biz. You get to decide which bits of feedback you’ll incorporate into your idea, and which ones you’ll ignore.

Guess who we’re really talking about here?

Yes. Me. (Surprise, surprise.)

That’s part of why it’s been quiet here on the blog. I’ve been moving through the infatuation and early-feedback stages for an idea I have. It’s a pretty big change, but I think if you’re among my perfect people, it will feel more like settling into a couch that’s got just the right amount of stuffing in the cushions.

Want to stay in the know?

I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be sharing these changes publicly (probably pretty soon), but if you join the Shmorian Society (using the form below), you’ll be sure to hear about it first.

As a thank you, you’ll also receive the 6-part Shmorian Project Prescription eCourse. If you and your project have lost that loving feeling, this will help you remember what you saw in each other to begin with. Hint: I’ve also been known to send out occasional treats.

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Note: If you don’t see a sign up form, or it looks garbled, you can click here to sign up.

I hope you’ll join me on this new phase of my business adventure!

Making Progress (Part 3)

In case you’re new here (hi!), I’ve been writing about making progress on the big stuff we want to do. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

In line with the recipe for progress (Microsteps + Commitment = Progress), I committed to working through the Right-Brain Business Plan.

It did not go as expected.

I set three appointments with myself. Put them on the calendar and everything.

The first appointment was frustrating because the RBBP is image-based, and I was seriously lacking in available images.

But it showed me all sorts of things about why it can seem like committing to something doesn’t actually help us get it done. Which, in turn, helped me create a workbook to share with you guys.

(You can still get the workbook by signing up in the box in the right sidebar, or by signing up in the Part 2 post.)

The biggest thing it showed me is the importance of really wanting the thing you’re committing to.

Without that, you’re almost sure to peter out when you try to do the work.

In a nutshell, that’s what happened to me with the RBBP.

Although it’s something I would like to do, and it’s something that would be good for me to do, it’s not something I want to do right now. (I’ve written before about the pitfalls of doing something you don’t truly want just because it would be good for you.)

There’s other stuff that’s higher on the priority list. And I’m dealing with meat-suit issues again.

Add it all up and I just didn’t have the steam to follow through.

Quitting’s not so easy

I’ve got some Stuff around quitting. It’s hard for me not to see it as a form of failure.

Maybe some of you read the posts, got the workbook, committed to something, and now you’re considering whether to continue.

Maybe you’ve got Quitting Baggage like I do and you feel like you’ve failed if you quit, but you’re struggling to find the juice to continue.

If you get nothing else from reading this post, here’s what I want you to know:

If you got as far as even considering committing to and microstepping the thing you want to do, you have not failed.

It’s a process.

Yes, in an ideal world, we only commit to the things we truly want. Our lives cooperate enough to fulfill the commitment. We might have a hard time along the way, but we keep reminding ourselves why we committed in the first place. And we find the discipline to carry on even when things are hard.

In an ideal world…hahahahaha!

Sometimes things don’t work out ideally.

We sign up for something we don’t truly want.
We over-estimate our capacity to take on another commitment.
The cost of the commitment far outweighs the current and future benefit.

What to do if that’s what’s happened to you?

Approach the situation mindfully.

Look at your own patterns around commitments, and the following through (or the bailing out) of them.

(My own pattern is that I tend to commit without thinking through what the commitment will require from me.)

Pay attention to how it feels while fulfilling the commitment.

Notice how you feel after you’ve backed out.

Take notes on what you learned.

Beating yourself up won’t help, so don’t bother. Especially if you chose as well as you could based on reasonable information.

Nothing is wasted. There are no mistakes.

Try to remember that nothing is wasted. Sometimes, it’s not possible to know whether you’re ready to commit until you’ve committed.

Trust that if you un-commit to something you actually really do want, you’ll get the chance to re-commit.

Likewise, if you fulfill the commitment and it wasn’t what was right for you, there’s still so much learning in that.

We all want to make progress on stuff. We’re taught to find our worth in it.

But this is important: Don’t forget to define “progress” for yourself.

In my definition, noticing and gathering information counts for a lot.

How about you?

How did you do with committing and microstepping (or not)?
What insights did you gather?

Don’t forget, the Microstep Support Sessions are still available through Friday, May 6. Whether you know your next project or still need to choose, let me support you in making progress as painlessly as possible.

Making Progress (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my last post, I committed to working on my Right-Brain Business Plan.

Last week I had my first Microstep appointment (for the RBBP, at least).

In the sense that I fulfilled the commitment, it’s a big win. I spent my hour working on the RBBP.

But it didn’t feel the way I expected.

Since there’s a lot of emphasis about gathering images from magazines, I was at a bit of a disadvantage because we don’t do the magazine thing.

I thought I could get images online, and I did get a few, but it’s not the same as thumbing through a magazine and cutting out the stuff that grabs you.

The trick, it seems, is finding the right search terms so you’re not sifting through thousands of images that are useless. (Hint: Searching for “Freedom” will get you a lot of American flags and silhouettes of people jumping in the air.)

So yeah, it was a little overwhelming. And as is true of so many things I do in my life, my expectations led to some disappointment. Frankly, I thought I’d accomplish a lot more in my hour.

It got me thinking…

It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. The question, then, becomes, What do I do about it?

For one thing, I see that I should add a step to my How to Make Progress Steps (say hello to Step 3a):

1. Figure out a reasonable amount of time per week you can commit to working on your Thing.

2. Schedule the time on your calendar. Treat it like an appointment with a hard-to-see specialist (i.e., don’t reschedule unless it’s an emergency).

3. When it’s time for your appointment, work on your Thing. Do a microstep (or several).

3a. After your appointments, review what worked and what didn’t, and how you can make it easier on yourself next time.

4. Keep making (and keeping) those appointments.

But sometimes it still doesn’t work.

Committing to stuff can be hard.

And so can finding the steps that you need to take.

And even if you do both of those things, sometimes the follow-through is elusive.

That’s what I noticed after my first appointment…I really wasn’t looking forward to the next one.

There are lots and lots of reasons committing to something isn’t enough to get you to make progress on it.

A little extra help

To help with this process of committing and making progress, I created a mini-workbook.

It’s got lots of questions and tips for finding your capacity, choosing the right microsteps, setting yourself up for success, and reviewing how it all went so you can tweak the process to work for you.

I also included lots of info about what might be causing you to bail on your commitments, with some ideas for how to address the obstacles.

(In case you’re wondering, my obstacles around committing to working on the RBBP are that I’ve got something more pressing that’s weighing on me, and I’ve got some physical stuff going on. So, I used the hour I committed to to address the other, more urgent matter. And I’m committing to focusing on taking care of my body. Then we’ll see.)

I sent the workbook out to the Shmorian Society members a couple of days ago, but you can still get it.

Let me know you’d like to get it by entering your information below. You’ll get a link to the workbook right away, and in the next couple of days you’ll also start receiving my Shmorian Project Prescription ecourse.

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Note: You’ll get a lot more out of the workbook if you read my Making Progress post first.

Want even more support?

If you decide you’d benefit from even more help, I’m doing a little something special in the one-on-one arena.

For a limited time, I’m offering 30-minute sessions geared specifically toward finding the best Microsteps for you to take – ones you can commit to comfortably – so that you can make progress sustainably.

Progress doesn’t have to be painful.

You can get the details about that over here.

Of course, I really hope the workbook and the sessions help you make progress on something that’s important to you.

But more importantly, I hope it lets you know that there are legitimate reasons you’re not making as much progress as you’d like, and none of those reasons is that there’s something wrong with you.

If you’ve already been joining in on the Making Progress fun, how has it been going?
What kinds of things would help you continue to make progress?

Making Progress

There’s a pattern I see in myself and in a lot of my clients.

We want something. That something is big, and involves change and usually a hell of a lot of work to make it happen.

We have limited time and energy. And pre-existing commitments that are either unchangeable (like caring for young children) or not immediately changeable (like needing to pay bills with a day job).

Add it all up and it starts to feel like the Thing you want is so big that it can never happen.

I get it. Believe me, I get it.

But here is the key to getting from where you are now to where you want to be:

Microsteps + Commitment = Progress

Lemme ‘splain.

First, the Microsteps

Every big thing that you want is made of steps. The big steps can always be broken down into smaller steps.

And the smaller steps can be broken down into microsteps.

Remember in my video, how I said that the thing we want sometimes feels like a wall? Well, when we’re staring at a wall it’s easy to miss the fact that the wall was built from bricks or stones or sticks.

We have to choose to stop and find the microsteps. Even when a part of us is freaking out, or feeling resentful that it’s so damned hard.

Most important of all is Commitment

How many times have you known what you wanted to do, and maybe you even knew exactly what the next steps were, but life got in the way?

Next thing you know, two or three months have gone by and you haven’t done any work on [insert that thing you want here].

I doubt I’m alone in trying to take an all-or-nothing approach. I’m constantly catching myself looking for unrealistically large blocks of time so I can work on something from start to finish.

Maybe it comes down to the desire for instant gratification, but somehow, spending only a small amount of time feels pointless. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s painful. Like we’re just teasing ourselves by drawing out the process to an excruciating time-frame.

And yet.

What if the only way to get what you want is to work at it a little bit at a time?

If that were the only way, would you scrap it completely?

What if working at it a little bit at a time would create a snowball effect, but you can’t see that from where you are right now?

What if the simple act of truly committing would allow the Universe to conspire on your behalf?

Would that be enough for you to commit to experimenting with commitment?

How to make progress, in 4 (easy?) steps

1. Figure out a reasonable amount of time per week you can commit to working on your Thing. (Hint: if you don’t know what your Thing is, then you can commit to Thing-Finding.)

2. Schedule the time on your calendar. Treat it like an appointment with a hard-to-see specialist (i.e., don’t reschedule unless it’s an emergency).

3. When it’s time for your appointment, work on your Thing. Do a microstep (or several).

4. Keep making (and keeping) those appointments.

How to make this technique work

Start with a small time commitment, because in the beginning, fulfilling the commitment is more important than making progress.

A good place to start is one hour per week, putting it on your calendar for at least three weeks in a row. But if that’s too much, commit to an amount of time that works for you.

If, when the time comes, you’re not “in the mood” to work on your Thing, do not give yourself a pass. You must use the time for something related to your Thing. Writing about why you don’t feel like working on it is a completely legitimate (and productive) use of that time.

Treat this as an experiment. Pay attention to how it feels to make the commitment, fulfill the commitment, and take microsteps. Notice how it feels to have a regular date with the thing you want to do.

I’m betting that as you make even little bits of progress, it’ll be easier to keep the appointments. Soon you’ll probably be willing to increase your weekly commitment.

Care to join me?

Just to prove that I can walk my talk, I’m doing this, too.

I’m committing to one hour per week, for the next three weeks, to work through the Right-Brain Business Plan. Thursdays at 5pm Pacific, to be precise.

(I can’t begin to express how much Stuff this is bringing up for me, but that’s a post for another day.)

I know it’s not enough to finish, but I need to start somewhere. I need to feel what it feels like to make progress on this thing.

Are you up for the challenge? In the comments let me know:

– How much time will you commit to?
– What will you work on?
– What would help make the Microsteps and/or the Commitment easier?

Let’s do this thing!

Trust

I’ve been thinking a lot about Trust lately.

It’s been quiet around here, because truth be told, I’ve been going through another bout of hard. Hard physical stuff leading to even harder emotional stuff leading to a lot of not-working.

The hardest part, of course, is when Urgency shows up and makes damn sure I’m aware of all the work I haven’t been doing.

Cue freak-out and exponentially increased stuckness.

But there’s one thing that would stop the freak-outs and frustration in their tracks:

Trust.

Trust that things will work out.
Trust that this too shall pass.
Trust that we have what we need even when it feels like we don’t.
Trust that the Universe is not just a passive observer, but actually wants us to succeed.

A common scene over the last few weeks was me, sitting down to write, staring at the empty page. And then a slowly building sense of despair at the lack of words. And, after that, anger at my inability to push through and make something happen already.

How would that scene be different if I could really trust? If I really, truly believed that things would work out?

Maybe I’d still sit down to write, but when the words pulled a no-show, I’d probably just shrug and say, “Well, I guess it’s not time to start writing, yet.”

Instead of trying to force it and increasing my frustration levels, I’d do nourishing things. Maybe even fun things. Because I would know that I’d get the necessary work done before any imagined doomsday.

In an interesting synchronicity, the lovely @zenatplay wrote the Twitter version of this the other night:

Creative incubation vs painful procrastination. Turns out the difference is trust.

I’ve had enough painful procrastination. I want more creative incubation.

Trusting is not the same as hiding

Let me state up front that I’m not talking about just waiting around for things to be perfect before attempting to do any work. That’s actually not trusting, either. That’s more like avoiding responsibility.

No. I’m talking about working in the ways I can (both inner- and outer-work), when I can. And when I can’t work, giving myself what I need as best I can.

Trust that the universe is on our side sounds like one of those things you either have or you don’t. Kind of like a belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So how do you get it when you don’t have it?

These thoughts are still warm and fresh – possibly even underbaked – but here they are just the same.

It starts with a choice*

I’d never tell you what to believe.

However, I am choosing to build trust. Choosing to believe that the Universe is helpful and kind.

Because when I don’t trust, my life becomes far too painful.

Not trusting means every failed launch or bout of stuckness becomes yet another example of how hard life is.

Not trusting means I focus on the hard stuff without appreciating the good.

Not trusting isn’t working for me anymore.

* Starting with a choice is true for other things, too.

Taking the long view

Where can I find evidence that the Universe is on my side?

When I look back at the really unpleasant situations in my life, after enough time passes, there’s always been some kind of positive outcome.

But I want you to hear me when I say that I am not telling you to “look at the bright side” or “find the silver lining.”

When the crappy stuff happens, there’s no getting around the fact that it sucks. And sometimes it hurts like a motherfucker. (By the way, that’s not the time to go searching for evidence.)

But by allowing yourself to acknowledge and experience the pain, eventually it shifts. Eventually you can begin to see the tiny glimmers of good.

The messy break-ups helped clarify what was important to me in a relationship.

Becoming chronically ill while living in the Caribbean forced me to become a lot more aware of my body and how I was treating it.

Getting laid off from that one job right before getting married forced me to get off my ass and find a much better job.

The betrayal I experienced at the church my husband and I attended for years led me to re-evaluate my beliefs, and helped me to stop giving away my power.

The five excruciating years I spent trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and the 3 years of learning to be okay with doing it? They led me to lots of Thing-Finding wisdom.

And now, even though I don’t know where it will lead me, I’m starting to see the glimmers of good that are coming from all the heartache I’ve felt in 2010. So far, it’s led me to explore the idea of Trust, and to write this blog post.

I don’t care whether it’s true or not

I spent the last thirty-mumble years believing, at best, that the universe doesn’t care. And at worst, I believed that I could only ever have the things God wanted me to have, and God almost never lets people have what they want.

So I’m very familiar with how those beliefs affect my life.

What do I lose if I choose to trust that the Universe is my ally, but it actually isn’t?

Nothing.

Whether this theory is true or not, I will still be loads happier if I trust that it’s true and live my life as though it is.

This doesn’t erase the pain of hard stuff, nor does it make me immune to it.

Chances are, some situation will send me into a tailspin, and in those moments I won’t be able to trust. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to trust.

Like so many other things, it’s a practice. A practice of consciously noticing the ways that the hard stuff led to good stuff. And finding ways to remind myself that even when I don’t know how, things will turn out okay.

Similar to how other types of patterns shift, eventually I’ll start remembering to trust sooner.

Today’s Comment Zen

I’m feeling a little nervous about pressing Publish on this one.

Here’s what I’m really trying to say with this post:

It’s been a hard year for me. And I realize that Trust would lessen the sense of hard. Or at least it would help me maintain a few molecules of hope, and allow me to stop trying to force myself to work when I can’t.

I’m sharing this here because maybe a little more Trust would be helpful for you, too. And maybe you’ll even want to join me in gathering evidence that we have reason to trust. If not, that’s totally okay.

What I’d like: I want to hear about your experiences with Trust. What has helped you to trust? What would you do differently if you trusted that everything would work out in the long run?

What I’d rather not have: Evidence that the world is falling apart and the Universe doesn’t care. Reasons not to build trust. Advices on what I should do instead.

(Ironic update: I finished this post a couple days ago and last night decided that I’d publish it today. This morning? The laptop my husband uses won’t boot. So, yeah, I guess this is an opportunity to practice trusting. You know, after I’m done with fist-shaking.)

The Ninth Try’s a Charm?

Okay, people. I’m just going to lay it out here.

This is the ninth post I’ve started since the last one I published. Ninth. I kid you not.

I’ve had a really horrible month of insomnia, depression and anxiety. Basically a repeat of the hormonal wonkiness I wrote about previously, except a hell of a lot worse. (I guess I should just learn to expect that reasonable changes to my meds lead to an unreasonable and unexpected amount of turmoil.)

Not a lot of work got done this last month – my energy went first to client sessions, and if there wasn’t anything left, well, tough turds, nothing else got done.

I spent a lot of time wallowing in despair, and questioning whether I can pull off this business of starting a business at all.

I even went on my first ever self-imposed internet sabbatical last week. I was hoping it would kick the writer’s block, but four of the nine posts were started during or after the sabbatical. Although, I suppose, technically, if I publish #9, I might have to give the sabbatical some of the credit for that.

Either way, it appears that I can’t write posts as though everything is fine if everything isn’t fine.

I peeked in at the Twitter Bar on Saturday and the lovely Catherine Caine was handing out random compliments. I was feeling pretty blue so I asked for one. Here’s what she said about me:

Hey everyone, @victoriashmoria is super-duper smart and compassionate and a provider of delightful clarity.

Isn’t that awesome?

Besides making me shed a tear or seven, it made me realize that I have been doing a really lame job of giving myself credit and cutting myself slack. Not that that’s new for me, but there’s nothing like a big fat reminder to renew my resolve at shifting the patterns.

So, this is me, reminding myself of some things I need to remember. Maybe they’re things you need to remember, too.

Cut me some slack, Jack!

We can only base our decisions on the information we have at the time.

We had a certain amount of money in the bank when I decided to quit my job. And I had a certain number of clients. The time felt right to quit and focus on my business. I couldn’t predict that I’d wind up having a few very bad months with low productivity, so why do I beat myself up for quitting when I did?

Shit happens, and you just do the best you can with it.

I’ve got some fucked up (subconscious) stories about what causes what (with some warped Law of Attraction bullshit thrown in for good measure). It’s really easy for me, on top of the actual issue I’m dealing with, to blame myself for whatever is happening. Especially physical and emotional stuff.

Not even slightly helpful.

Capacity changes, needs change, health changes, energy levels change. And in response, you shift deadlines and priorities. And meet your needs the best you can.

We don’t control the outcome, so we’d damn well better learn how to enjoy the journey.

Enjoying the journey doesn’t come easily for perfectionists. I am all about the outcome, and if the outcome doesn’t suit me, get ready for a tantrum.

But, I’m trying to shift that pattern. Maybe our financial situation will allow me to continue focusing on my biz full-time until it supports us, maybe it won’t.

Easier said than done, but I really want to enjoy what I’m doing now, without worrying about what may or may not happen later.

Toot toot!

And now, I’m going to remind myself of some of the things I’m good at. And some of the things I’m proud of myself for.

I was there for my clients despite all that’s going on.

I did my best to listen better to my body and give it what it needed.

I managed to get a birthday card and a Father’s Day card to my dad on time.

I’m probably going to publish this post even though I don’t love it and I’m afraid I sound like a grouchy, whiney baby. Or like I’m full of myself.

I was aware of my energy levels enough to shift priorities based on the quality of energy I had available.

Which meant I still managed to finish turning my Shmorian Thing-Finding class into the Shmorian Thing-Finding Kit.

I did a good job of staying present through this shitty month and only numbed out occasionally.

I am awesome at asking questions that help my Right People untangle their tangly stucknesses.

I notice patterns and pick up on clues that lead to plenty of A-ha moments, for me and my clients.

I made two of my past dreams come true: I taught scuba diving in the Caribbean and had a 10-year career in IT (yes, I quit both of those things, but originally they were dreams of mine). Surely I can make this one happen, too.

I’m a superstar at helping people feel safe and supported as they work through an issue.

I’m really good at breaking down complex ideas and processes into simple, digestible pieces.

I haven’t given up, and I still know I made the right decision to quit my job.

Join me?

I know I need to get better at giving myself credit for my accomplishments and appreciating my successes. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So let’s do some horn-tooting together, okay?

What can you toot about in the comments? Or what’s something you can cut yourself slack on?

List as few or as many as you’d like. And even if you don’t want to do it here (in public), for the love of the gods, do it privately! We all could use a little more self-appreciation.

Reinvention

I’ve had a little over a week now of not reporting to the job.

How did I spend it?

I spent a lot of the time not feeling well, actually. It’s probably similar to what used to happen to me in school. Vacation would start, and I’d come down with a cold.

That did manage to force me to give my body what it wanted by sleeping more.

After about four days of that, I was ready to get moving, but my body wasn’t. Rather frustrating.

It’s still too soon to draw any conclusions, but I spent a lot of time thinking about what this change will mean for me. You know, once I’ve had a bit more recovery time.

The biggest thing I’m aware of is that it will mean a lot of redefining.

Redefining my relationship to Time

For the last 15+ years of working full-time, the way I spent the majority of my days was dictated by my employers. From 8am-ish to 5pm-ish, Monday thru Friday, I was expected to be “at work.” Often, in that kind of environment, it was more important that my butt was in my seat than it was for me to be productive.

Now, I have nobody telling me when to be working. There will be nothing stopping me from turning on the TV, or meeting a friend for coffee. I can choose not to work with clients on Tuesdays, if that’s how I want to schedule my appointments.

There will also be nothing stopping me from working 12 hours a day.

When is the best time to wake up and go to bed? When is my best writing time? When should I have offline time?

There will be lots of experimentation to learn what works the best for me.

Awakening my creative muscles

Between having a mostly left-brained job, and having some lots of perfectionist tendencies, I haven’t done a whole lot to keep my creativity tuned up.

Thanks to Charlie Gilkey, I’m doing some things to try to reawaken my creative flow. Things like mind-mapping and finding metaphors that describe this transition. And I’m trying to incorporate something artistic into my days. Mostly that’s meant drawing. Well, perhaps doodling (scribbling?) would be more accurate.

The other big thing will be to learn about my patterns around creativity and productivity. Before, so much of my time was spoken for, I didn’t have the luxury of figuring out when my most creative times were.

Figuring out what sovereignty means for my life

Another thing I’m noticing is that working for the Man has not helped me develop my sense of sovereignty.

To me, sovereignty means giving myself what I need. And it also means not ignoring my needs because I’m afraid they will affect someone else negatively.

I doubt I’m alone, but have you ever felt so busy and so pressured to get your work done that you won’t even allow yourself a trip to the bathroom or to refill your water glass? Or said yes to meetings or projects, without even considering that you could say no?

Just me? I didn’t think so.

It becomes a pattern.

Just as you can become disconnected from your heart, you can become disconnected from your sense of Self. You know, that essential part of you that gives you your you-ness.

I imagine changing that pattern will take a while. It’s closely related to the time issue, but it’s more than that.

It’s about reinventing my life in ways that serve me best, and not diminishing my creative power to meet the needs of others.

Oh, I want to take a class in the middle of the day? No problem.

I need a new sweater? I can go shopping during the week instead of waiting for the weekend, if that’s what works better for me.

This is really about developing a whole new mindset.

The hardest part

Giving myself permission to flail around for a while. Permission to feel clueless about what I should be doing with my time. Permission to be overwhelmed.

It’s not reasonable to expect to go seamlessly from having your working hours dictated to you to having 100% autonomy. Yet I do feel a certain amount of pressure to do just that.

Years and years of go-go-go don’t disappear overnight.

For now I’m going to keep focusing on giving my body what it needs, doing Dance of Shiva and spending time with the soul of my business. As much as possible, I’m going to trust that I have the answers within me, and I’ll know what I need to know when I need to know it.

One newsy bit

Right now I only have three slots available for one-on-one coaching. If you’re one of my Right People and have been thinking about it for a while, now’s the time to get in touch!

When Selves Collide

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I like to talk to my blocks and various selves (à la Havi and Hiro). Here’s a little story about some insight I gained by doing this seemingly wacky stuff.

Lately I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed and tired and generally down, leading to a heavy case of the Blahhhhs. (Yes, that’s the medical term.)

I was so completely devoid of motivation that I wasn’t even able to meditate or journal about it.

Finally, yesterday I got myself to do a little Dance of Shiva and then meditate.

The question I asked before starting to dance was, “What needs to shift in order to stop feeling so stuck?”

A few minutes of Level 4 was about all I could handle, followed by some savasana.

Once I started meditating, I dropped into my heart, and tried to meet with some of my selves, to see if I could get a handle on why I was having such a hard time.

I can’t share much detail right now, but part of why I’m having a hard time is because there are certain things I have to do that I no longer want to do. And when things get difficult during the things-I-don’t-want-to-do, I’ve been having extreme emotional reactions. Despair, anxiety, hopelessness, powerlessness.

Not much was happening amongst my selves, so I focused my attention on whichever self it was who was creating these strong reactions.

Enter Self #1

I don’t know what this self looks like (no defining characteristics like my friend Hedgehog Girl). But pretty quickly I sensed that this self was creating these strong reactions so that I’ll hurry up and make the changes necessary so that I won’t have to do that icky stuff anymore.

She’s afraid that if she stops giving me these unpleasant reactions, I’ll just coast along. The change I want to make will never happen, because I’ll be too comfortable.

Hmmm…interesting.

So I thanked her for caring about me. And for believing that I can make the necessary changes. And especially for her wanting to support me in making this change.

(And I wasn’t just blowing smoke, either. There’s something surprisingly touching about having a part of yourself doing what it can to make sure you accomplish the things you want.)

Then I explained that these extreme emotional reactions are draining me of my energy. And when my energy is drained, I can’t do what I need to do to make the changes I want to make.

I asked her, “What kind of agreement can we make, so that you know I’m making these changes as fast as possible, and you’re not helping me in a way that actually slows me down?”

Silence.

And then I got, “It’s not just me.”

For a second I didn’t know what that meant, but then I realized there were two selves at play.

Hello, Self #2

Self #1 was creating the strong reactions in hopes that I would hurry up and make this change.

But Self #2 was drafting off of those reactions, and keeping me from channeling that desire for change into action toward change.

Because Self #2 is afraid of what the change will mean for me and this (mostly) comfortable life I have. She prefers the devil she knows.

Both of these selves are actually trying to protect me, even though they’re going about it in opposite ways.

One is trying to protect me from withering away in stagnation, the other from taking crazy risks that will put me in danger.

That’s about as far as I got with that meditation before my mind started to wander. But it’s a good start toward unravelling this stuck.

The next step will be to try to help them both see that their attempts to help are actually hurting. And then it will be time to find out what they will need to feel safe enough to back off and cut me some slack.

The beauty of it is, even before they’ve started giving me breathing room, I feel better.

Now when if I have an over-reaction to the things I no longer want to do, I’ll know what it’s about. And I’ll know why it’s so hard to recover and get cracking.

Reaching that point of not beating myself up or asking myself why why why for not doing the things I want to do is a huge step toward changing the pattern.

The Fading Significance of Fortune Cookies

I used to love love love fortune cookies.

When presented with a plateful of cookies at the end of a meal, I would pause ever so thoughtfully to let my intuition tell me which cookie out of the bunch was the one that was meant for me – so that I would get the fortune that I was supposed to get.

I would crack them open with anticipation, so excited to see what would be printed on the little slip of paper tucked in the folds of the cookie.

When I got somethings stupid (like the ones that begin “Confucius say:”), I felt annoyed and cheated.

But if I got a fortune that talked about wishes coming true or unexpected wealth or having a bright future, I would keep it. Meditate on it, even.

As though the fortune were a message from the Universe about my Purpose-with-a-capital-P. And by keeping the slip of paper, its message would come to pass more quickly.

I needed the fortune to validate what I wanted. I needed it to tell me that the things I wanted could and would happen.

Last night, after our Chinese takeout dinner, we picked our fortune cookies. Mine said, “An unexpected event will bring you riches.” I realized, with a mix of gratitude and heartache, that the little cookies no longer held my fascination the way they once did. The message on the slip of paper was merely interesting.

Okay, okay…do I wish some unexpected even would bring me riches? Yes, that would be great. But I’m also not holding my breath that it will happen because a fortune cookie said so.

The heartache I felt was for knowing that things have changed. Goodbyes are always sad for me, and I’m in the process of slowly saying goodbye to the person I’ve been for most of my life. It’s good, mostly, but sometimes it feels painful and disorienting.

And I felt gratitude for the fact that I no longer need a fortune from a cookie to confirm my purpose in life or to bring me hope for birthing my dreams into reality. Apparently I no longer need that particular form of external validation.

Or maybe it’s that I am becoming more aware of the power I already have within me to ask for what I need. To give myself what I need.

After reading this post from Havi, and especially this comment from Hiro Boga, I’m realizing that for the last 10+ years, I’ve been on a journey toward the quality of Sovereignty.

Here’s an excerpt from Hiro’s comment:

The thing about Sovereignty is: It’s ours by virtue of our being. We don’t have to earn it–it’s a gift of grace. But because so many of us have grown up not knowing that our lives belong to us–that our bodies and thoughts and feelings and creativity belong to us–we look to others for permission to be who we are; or for validation; or for power, or something else that can only come from within.

When we don’t receive it, we doubt or blame ourselves, or we give our own pain away and blame or throw shoes at others.

We become disconnected from the inner dignity, self-responsibility and sense of belonging that sovereignty brings.

My quest started out as a search for the Perfect Job. Pretty quickly I realized that I didn’t want just a job – I was seeking fulfillment, so my goal became to discover my Mission in Life. At that time, I believed there was only one right way to fulfill that mission and I needed to know what that way was. (You can imagine how quickly I became stuck with that kind of pressure.)

Within the last couple of years, I stopped believing that there is only one way for me to fulfill my mission, and no longer felt certain that I have a mission (or at least, if I do have a mission, it goes way beyond my income generating activities).

Within the last few months, I’ve changed course again. Now, at its core, this adventure is about learning a whole new way to interact with myself.

It’s about connecting with all of my different Selves, who make up the whole of Me. And it’s about figuring out who I really am, and giving myself permission to be whoever that person turns out to be.

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Shedding Beliefs

You know that feeling when you’ve made a large internal shift?

The kind of shift where you’ve faced up to a reality you’ve been avoiding. One that you’ve contributed to by avoiding it.

Where you’ve realized your needs aren’t being met because you’ve been convinced you don’t deserve to ask for what you need.

Essential, spirit-level needs.

Yeah, that kind of shift.

That’s where I am today.

I thought it would feel different. Better. Freeing.

But I’m weepy and full of sadness.

I guess maybe I’m sad for the Me I’ve been ignoring all this time, the Me who’s so tired.

Disappointed in the Me who allowed it to go on so long.

Worried that the consequences of course-correcting might mean things will get worse before they get better.

It takes deep heart-work to look at what we believe, and really question whether those beliefs are our own. Or if they’re just beliefs that “attached” to us from other people.

There’s a part of me, too, who’s baffled at what a vast disconnection I’ve had from my own heart. Not that that’s news to me, but it’s like uncovering a whole new layer of it.

Surely keeping connected might have avoided some of this? (And that, in turn, leaves me wondering why Staying Connected to Your Heart isn’t taught in school. But that’s a soapbox for another day.)

Maybe what I’m feeling is a disorientation caused by the crumbling of some core beliefs I didn’t even realize I had. But now I’ve seen that they’re there, and I don’t want or need them anymore.

Without question, this is a good thing. Yet, it’s all so new. I’m in that tender, raw place of weeding out the old before the new is firmly planted.

Even by writing this, I can feel the shifting continue.

The heavy despair is starting to dissolve, and I can offer love and compassion to both the tired Me and the Me who believed my role in life didn’t include being supported.