Walking Bravely and In Great Happiness

IMG_1197

As you may know, I declared this My Year of Creative Living. So far, I’ve taught myself to play the ukulele; took a tap dance class; spent a weekend dabbling in abstract painting; and, participated in a three-week blogging course.

What I’ve learned so far from these activities: creativity is the core of feeling really alive. I’m never so giddy, conflicted, anxious, thrilled or joyful than when I’m in creative mode. It’s a definite high, folks… I highly recommend it.

My current endeavour is… writing a book (ahh!). I’ve hired an amazing writing coach to guide me through this process and keep me accountable to the task (which is worth its weight in gold), and I feel like I’m diving into my most personal, meaningful creative pursuit yet. Its exhilarating and terrifying at once, which is the very definition of entering “the arena” of vulnerability, as Brené Brown calls it.

I was listening to Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey speak about creativity in their latest meditation challenge podcast, and their explanation of creativity hit me on a whole new level:

“Creativity is the root of our biological existence.”

Our bodies – each and every cell – are constantly evolving and responding to brand new conditions. Chopra defines creative living as bringing freshness and renewal to each day, each circumstance. In this light, it’s easy to see that we are all – by our very biology – creative beings and the tired notion of creativity belonging only to artists and writers swiftly abates.

Creativity lives in our divine freedom to choose our response to any given moment.  The ability, however, to bring the freshness and renewal of creativity to each moment is, you guessed it, a practice.

The practices of letting go of comparison, staying present and cultivating your awareness for what’s true for you in this moment (and not what your long-standing, self-limiting stories tell you) nurture your creative life. And it nurtures what you are likely seeking for yourself: to feel alive, to feel worthwhile and to feel so very you as much as possible in your life.

I invite you to rebrand yourself as a creative being, starting today. I mean, you already are a creative being… and now you have the choice to start seeing yourself this way and living your life from this perspective.

What would it be like to approach your job, your marriage, your parenting and your personal growth as a “creative type”. As an artist, even? As someone who walks “bravely and in great happiness”, as so beautifully said by artist Robert Henri?

It is, after all, in your nature – in your very cells – to do it.

 

Kick-ass Author #5 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

IMG_1230

As I’ve put together this short list of kick-ass writers over the last several weeks, I know I’m leaving out countless other amazing authors whose books also pick up on the powerful themes of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living. In fact, I could probably make writing about other people’s books a full-time blogging job. I’m an unabashed devotee of books that inspire and nudge people to look inward and move forward. And I love connecting people to books.

But alas, this time around I’m committed to five recommendations only. So here’s the last in my series on Authors Who Write About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Are Not Brené Brown):

 

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

This book is for you if: You feel you have something inside you that needs to get “out there” but don’t know where or are too scared to start; you have silenced or hidden your inner artist ever since that elementary school art teacher told you, “you’re not doing it right”; you are trying to solve a problem or express an emotion or amplify your life and think creativity might be the way forward. 

If you are thinking, “I’m not creative, this book is not for me” then you need to read this book. If you’re thinking, “I’m too busy with serious ‘real-life’ stuff to concern myself with creativity” then get yourself to a book store pronto and buy this book.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert takes a stand for all of us to live a creative life: To live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. She explains that creative living is what separates a mundane existence from “an amplified existence” (don’t you love that?) Creative living – in all its manifestations – is for all of us. Do you see how you need to read this book?

Big Magic is a great read, presented in nice, easily-digestable chapter “nuggets” that speak to overcoming the fear of stepping into the creative arena. Her book invites you to find all your “not enough” gremlins, look ’em square in the eye and then promptly kick them to the backseat.

 

She is like the friend who tells you, “My wish for you is that you don’t take too long to get over your fear and do what you really love to do.”

 

Gilbert challenges you to question all the stories you tell yourself about the way things are, nudging you to find a different, better and more daring story to tell. She speaks to self-care and compassion, giving yourself permission, and the occasional, much-needed smack upside the head (e.g. “Fear is boring.”)

What I love the most is Gilbert’s voice in this book: it feels like you’re sitting down with your best friend over a coffee/glass of wine, and she’s telling you the things you need to hear about expressing your creative self. She is like the friend who tells you,  “My wish for you is that you don’t take too long to get over your fear and do what you really love to do.”

As an added bonus, Gilbert launched her podcast, Magic Lessons, to continue exploring her ideas from Big Magic. It’s really worth a listen, especially Episode 12 which features an interview with Brené Brown herself!

Now, if you really want to get serious about exploring your creativity, check out my awesome friend and coaching colleague, Allyson Woodrooffe. Allyson helps people find their voice and live their truth through creative expression, and she is definitely someone you want alongside your journey to find your creative self.

To wrap up, let me say that I would love to hear about your favourite reads that touch on the themes of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living. Send me your list on my Facebook Page.

And if you end up reading any of the five writers/books I’ve suggested over the past few weeks, please post a comment below or to my Facebook Page to let me know what you thought of it!

 

Kick-ass Author #4 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

IMG_1230

My next pick for Kick-ass Author is a bit of an outlier and not necessarily an obvious recommendation for someone interested in reading more on shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living, but it’s a plum!

I’ll start with a confession: I am a woman who, until this year, put her head in the sand when it came to all things financial. I had never once filed my own taxes. I could hardly tell you my bank balance on any given day. Amounts owing on credit cards were always fuzzy. I would be lost to tell you the general comings and goings of money in my life.

Turns out, of course, that my issues with money have little to do with money itself. Yup, you guessed it: it’s deeply rooted in shame, identity, scarcity and vulnerability. And, as I have been learning, this is an area that is deeply linked to personal feminine power. Surprisingly, it’s a shame trigger for so many women, whether they are high-earners or just making ends meet.

So, this is the brilliant book that has helped me face my fears and finally embrace my financial responsibility and personal power:

Barbara Stanny, Sacred Success: A Course In Financial Miracles

This book is for you if: You are looking to step into your personal version of greatness while taking charge of your financial well-being

This beautiful book hits on some pretty strong and universal shame and vulnerability themes that keep women playing small, pleasing others and giving their power (and financial freedom) away.

Barbara Stanny has written several books for women on finances, but Sacred Success is special among them. In Sacred Success, Stanny borrowed from the classic, A Course In Miracles, and wove its powerful lessons throughout, hitting on this critical message: for women, financial success is a Rite of Passage into our personal power. The book cover summarizes it perfectly:

“Instead of pushing women to pursue financial success in the traditional fashion, Sacred Success seeks to redefine power from a feminine perspective…You can be financially successful without sacrificing your soul or compromising your values.”

The links to Brené Brown‘s  work may not be as obvious in this book, but they are there. Stanny speaks about the ideal identities we strive for (by pleasing, perfecting and pretending), our shame triggers around scarcity and money that were planted in childhood, the importance of creating our own rules about money, and the courage it takes to look your financial situation square in the eye and say, “I’m in charge.”

Sacred Success is all about living authentically, claiming our personal power as women, and stepping into our own personal version of greatness. And, of course, getting our financial house in order once and for all!

I’m a big fan of this book, and wanted to include it in this list to show just how far reaching and insidious shame is in controlling our lives, and how the concepts of vulnerability and living authentically fit into the realm of financial success.

I’m making this book required reading for my daughter once she’s launched out into the world and finds herself searching for her own personal version of greatness.

Are you going to add this book to your summer reading list? Tell me! Leave a message below or post to my FB page!

 

Kick-ass Author #3 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

IMG_1230

Participants often come to my Daring Way™ and Rising Strong workshops because they have read Brené Brown’s books and get the concepts of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living on an intellectual level, but struggle to deepen that learning and “get it down” into their hearts and souls.

Enter my next recommended author: His poetry and prose take the same messages around shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living and deliver them straight to your heart.

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having The Life you Want By Being Present To The Life You Have

This book is for you if: You are a poet or poetry-lover; love to read inspiring text; like to read just a little snippet of something wonderful each day;  are enduring or have survived illness, trauma and life’s other hard-knocks.

Mark Nepo is a poet and his writing is simply gorgeous. The Book of Awakening provides short passages to be read daily, over the course of a year. They are his thoughts and stories on compassion, vulnerability, scarcity, fear, pain, risk, courage, and living fully and authentically.

Here’s how I think about the two authors: Reading Brené Brown’s books are like going to a university class on vulnerability and wholehearted living with one of those professors you love because she’s so good at explaining her work in a real way, with wit and brilliance.

Reading Mark Nepo is like returning home from that university class, pouring yourself a cup of hot tea and sitting with your wise, old neighbour as he tells you lyrical, soulful stories that weave in vulnerability and wholeheartedness in a way that you didn’t even know you were getting schooled. You feel changed just by having listened to him.

Here’s a passage from Nepo on vulnerability that I love:

“No bird can fly without opening its wings,

and no one can love without exposing their heart.

It is perhaps the oldest of inner laws, as inescapable as gravity. There is no chance of lifting into any space larger than yourself without revealing the parts you hold closest to your chest.”

Another of my favourite passages in The Book of Awakening speaks to self-compassion, which I consider to be one of the cornerstones of Brené Brown’s work. In my workshops, the concept of self-compassion is a difficult one for a lot of people to embrace, as they see it as self-indulgent, selfish and being in direct contradiction to how they were brought up (i.e. to put others first).

At these moments in the workshops, I will often read aloud these words from Mark Nepo:

“In deep and lasting ways, when we heal ourselves, we heal the world. For as the body is only as healthy as its individuals cells, the world is only as healthy as its individual souls.”

Sigh. Picture a room full of people nodding their heads, getting the concept of self-compassion in a whole new way, straight to their hearts and souls.

If you’re a Mark Nepo fan, let me know your favourite passage from The Book of Awakening, or let me know which of his books you’d recommend. Post it below or on my Facebook Page.

Happy reading!

 

Kick-ass Author #2 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

IMG_1230

While the concepts of shame, vulnerability and living wholeheartedly are central to Dr. Brené Browns research and writing, these themes are actually quite common in books. That’s because we are all drawn to ideas of rising up against the oppression of real or perceived limitations, and finding the courage (vulnerability) to radically live life according to our own rules.

My next pick for Kick-ass Author Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living is a perfect example:

Seth Godin,  What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn)

This book is for you if:  You’re a budding entrepreneur; you’re thinking of quitting your job to pursue a passion; you want to create art and put it out into the world; or, you long to get unstuck in any aspect of your life.

If I were translating this Seth Godin book into “Brené-ese”, I’d say this book is about showing up, being seen and living bravely. It’s about stepping into the arena, without armour or shame shields, ignoring the critics, the cheap seats and the box seats, while holding the value of courage to light the way.

You need to get this book into your library. Then you need to get a copy for your spouse. Another for your best friend. And then anyone you know who is about to graduate from college or university.

Why? Because this book is a trip.

First of all, Seth Godin is a master of witty, concise and inspiring writing. He is also, in his own words, someone who “mostly creates projects, many of which end up failing.” So he speaks from experience AND knows what is possible. Trust me, his writing will get you fired up, and “taking your turn” over and over, in new and different ways.

 

“When was the last time you did 

something for the first time?” Seth Godin

Secondly, this book is basically a piece of artwork in itself. Bright colours, provoking images and photographs, big fonts/little fonts, historical references and pop culture musings, stirring quotes and big questions like, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” and “Are you taking it seriously or are you taking it personally?” and “When did you lose your voice?”  It’s part-coffee table/part-self help book, rolled into one.

But it’s the way Seth Godin made this book happen that I love, as its creation is the very illustration of what he preaches in the book. Godin didn’t go the traditional publishing route with this book, which would have been easy for him as the author of 17 bestsellers. Instead, he asked his online community if they would be interested in pre-purchasing the book, sight-unseen (I was one of thousands who said ‘yes’). He got the capital to publish the book from the pre-orders, then published it and shipped it directly to readers. Now there are over 100,000 copies in print.

Godin wanted to challenge the status quo of the “vertical publishing world” where publishers decide what gets published and how it gets distributed, and instead went for a horizontal approach, getting readers themselves involved in the creation of the book.

You may not find the word shame or wholehearted in this book, but the message and the book itself is ALL the stuff Brené Brown talks about:  feeling the fear of vulnerability and doing it anyway.

Get a taste of Seth Godin’s work by checking out his awesome blog. And you can order What To Do When It’s Your Turn here.

Pick up his book and tell me what you think in the comments below or on my Facebook Page!

 

Five Kick-ass Authors Who Write About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Are Not Brené Brown)

IMG_1230

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love me my Brené Brown.

From that first TED talk, I was smitten. My admiration grew deeper as I read each of her groundbreaking books. And of course my commitment was sealed when I flew to San Antonio two years ago to become a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator.

Can you blame me? The woman has become a leading voice in the growing global conversation about the power of shame and the practice of vulnerability to create a “wholehearted” life.

However, there are definitely other voices out there contributing to the shame-resilience conversation: Remarkable writers who bring their own unique lens, language and practices to the themes of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living.

Looking for a fresh perspective on the topic? Look no further! Over the next five weeks, I’m going to introduce you to five kick-ass authors whose books need to be on your bookshelf. Get ready to build your summer reading list!

I begin with…

Tara Brach, Ph.D.,  Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

This book is for you if: You’re into meditation, mindfulness, and the teachings and practices of Buddhism 

To me, Tara Brach is the Buddhist-Buddy of Brené Brown. I absolutely adore the writing of Tara Brach, and feel that her books bring a sacredness and spirituality to shame-resilience work that Brené’s books don’t quite capture.

In Radical Acceptance, Brach calls shame the “trance of unworthiness” and explains that, “trapped in this trance, we are unable to perceive the truth of who we really are.” The book touches on perfectionism, numbing, self-criticism, scarcity and fear… and then beautifully describes the path to freedom from these sufferings.

 

“Brach writes with such warmth and clarity that

you’ll feel like she’s your own personal Buddhist teacher

guiding you to self-love and acceptance.”

 

What I especially love about Radical Acceptance are the meditation exercises Brach has sprinkled throughout the book, offering these as practices to build shame-resilience. They are beautifully written and easy to follow, even if you don’t practice meditation.

Tara Brach writes with such warmth and clarity that you’ll feel like she’s your own personal Buddhist teacher guiding you to self-love and acceptance. And, if you fall in love with her writing, you can also follow Tara Brach’s work through weekly podcasts that feature her speaking to large groups and leading meditations.

Interesting tid-bit: Radical Acceptance was published in 2003, a full four years before Dr. Brown published her first book on shame (I Thought It Was Just Me)!

 

Have you read Radical Acceptance? Love it or not-so-much? Tell me what you think of it in the comments section below or on my Facebook Page. Or, if you plan to read it, remember to come back to my Facebook Page when you’re done to tell me what you thought of it. Happy reading!

 

 

What I’ve Learned About Surrendering

file641244237038

I wrote about my Surrender Experiment back at the beginning of November, and here’s what I’m learning as I practice letting go of control, embracing what shows up and honouring each moment as sacred:

Surrendering is hard.

At least at the beginning it is. I cannot tell you the number of times (each day) I catch myself with eyebrows furrowed, planning and playing out scenarios, all in an attempt to control the direction of any given thing in my life. Big and small things alike, my mind is kept very busy in future-focused mode.

And, like everything worth doing, surrendering is a practice. So now it’s coming more easily to me to release the worrying, the planning, the playing-out of every possible scenario to find the “best” way forward, and choosing instead to let go and see what happens. I have moments, mind you, where the conversation in my head is something like, “Are you crazy? You can’t just let things go. What if this-and-this happens? Or that-and that?” Anxiety creeps in, and that brings me to my next lesson…

Trust is surrender’s best friend.

Turns out that an experiment in surrendering is also a big experiment in trust. And I don’t mean trust in the sense of “trusting everything will work out just fine”. No, I mean trust in myself. Surrendering control means I must be willing and able to trust in myself, that I will be “enough” – smart enough, strong enough, grounded enough, resourceful enough – to manage, deal and otherwise live with whatever happens, good or bad.

This is a big one for me. A big gremlin message for me is, “are you sure you can handle it?” The thinking behind this is: If I’m not prepared, if I haven’t thought through every possible scenario, if I haven’t set up all my ducks in a row, then when the shit hits the fan, I’m going down. There is so much fear pooled around this thinking that my chest feels heavy just writing about it.

So, letting go of control and surrendering to whatever shows up in my life is really about self-trust. And choosing to trust in myself rather than giving in to the anxiety of not being in control is also huge act of self-compassion. The moment I treat my anxiety with a message like, “trust that you are enough” or “you’re going to be ok” or “you can handle whatever comes”, a huge sense of peace and ease comes over me, and I am brought right into the present moment. Which brings me to my next lesson…

Possibility lives in every moment.

In any moment of surrender, another cool thing happens: it levels the playing field of all my life experiences. There are no moments more important than others. Whatever is here is what life is offering up, and who am I to say that this moment is any more or less valuable than the next?

It’s like this: when you surrender control and choose to embrace whatever shows up, then “whatever” is full of possibility. Surrendering makes me pay attention to everything I’m doing, because there could be magic in this moment (and, turns out, there is magic in every moment if I choose to pay attention to it). So walking the dog isn’t a chore that I have to get through just to get on to more important things. It’s the only thing that needs to be done at that moment, and so why shouldn’t I be fully present and attentive to the magic of it? There is no wasted time, no chasing time, no losing time. Each moment matters.

Nobody knows like the body knows.

One thing I couldn’t make sense of when I started out this experiment was, when does surrender turn into boundary-less, aimless drifting? If I surrender to everything, won’t people walk all over me? Won’t I be overwhelmed or run down by saying yes to everything? Won’t I just be going from one thing to another, saying yes to everything without any sense of direction?

Then, of course, I was reminded by my body that it knows better than my brain when it comes to these matters. It’s pretty simple, actually: When I’m in struggle, when I feel the tension in my gut and my eyebrow furrows and my head tilts forward in serious thought, it’s time to surrender. Feeling tense? Time to let go. Replaying thoughts in my head? Time to let go. Feeling my shoulders hunch up? Time to let go.

On the other hand, when I find a sense of positive energy and aliveness bubble up over something I see, hear or think about, then it’s time to embrace. Feeling peace and ease? Embrace. Feeling tickled pink? Embrace. Feeling hopeful and giddy? Embrace.

And luckily, because my body is always living in the present moment, attuned to what’s here now, I can trust what it tells me (if I just take the time to quiet down and listen, of course).

 

In a nutshell, I will say this: surrendering is an exercise in mindfulness that has the incredible power to bring instant peace and ease to my life. My word for 2015 was ease, and this has been an amazing experiment with which to end my year of choosing ease.

I’m excited for the holidays ahead of us, and will take a break from blogging until the new year. I’ve decided on a new two-fold focus for my blog in 2016: exploring and unpacking the Physics of Vulnerability, which is a foundational piece of Brené Brown’s latest book, Rising Strong AND exploring my own vulnerability through creative expression (inspired by my other BFF, Elizabeth Gilbert and her Big Magic). That’s right: I’m challenging myself to a Year of Creative Expression where I will take on a new artistic medium every month and write about my experiences in pushing boundaries and being vulnerable in the arena of creativity. My first stab at this will be… wait for it… TAP DANCING! Nothing like starting off a year of vulnerability with a bang (and a tap)!

Happy holidays, dear readers. I wish each and every one of you love, light, peace, ease and big magic!

 

 

 

Surrendering Justification

Options-Decisions-Choices

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about taking on my own version of a surrender experiment, inspired by the memoir, The Surrender Experiment, by Michael A Singer. This is what I recall saying:

Practice letting go of my ideas of how things should be. 

Surrender to what shows up and then give it 100% of my attention.

Hold each moment as sacred.

I am practicing all of this, and trust me when I say practice. I notice the crazy number of times my brain goes into planning mode, trying to come up with schemes for this and that, especially when it comes to my work and especially when I look at what others in the coaching world are doing. But I noticed something in particular one day when I caught myself comparing my coaching business to others. My thinking went something like this:

Wow, look at what that other coach is offering to clients. That’s so cool. Why didn’t I think of that? Well, too late now, I guess. Or should I do that too? Wait, no, I don’t have time to do that. Ok, fine. Well, that coach can do it because that’s their full-time gig. Not like me, working a full-time job while also trying build a business on the side. Remember Sabrina, you chose to have this full time job at the same time as building a business. It’s important to you: the security and consistency , especially in terms of the kids. Wait, is it? Hmmm. Yes, it is. Or is it? Maybe I just gave up too soon. Maybe I gave up on myself. Well, no, that’s not true. I’m still doing what I love, just not full time for now. Right. That’s right… I remember deciding that this is a better balance for me, for now. But man I wish I had more time for my business. There are so many things I’d like to do. But I also remember how frightening that could be sometimes. Yes, that’s right. I’m fine to be doing what I’m doing right now…

And I could have gone on and on. Isn’t this how the thought process works for all of us? It’s an incessant back and forth, especially when we’re trying to make sense of something. And that’s when it hit me: I am very invested in justifying my decision to work a full-time “regular” job while also building a business around my life’s work. It’s like my brain NEEDS to know that I made the right decision to work a regular job in addition to having my own business.

There is a reason my brain wants to know I’m making the right decision. Brené Brown talks about this in her new book, Rising Strong. Brown explains that when we go into struggle, our brains automatically make up stories in order to make sense of what’s happening. In fact, our brains reward us with a nice little dose of cortisol and oxytocin when we succeed in connecting the dots and making meaning from a struggle (think of how good it feels when you have an “a-ah” moment).

The problem is, our brains reward us whether the story we make up is true or not. When our brains piece together data to make meaning, there are often gaps in our knowledge. That’s when we start to make up stuff to fill in the blanks. In my example above, I’m making up a bunch of stuff such as a) other coaches can do what they do because it’s their full-time gig, b) I don’t have time to do that, c) I gave up too soon,  d) I need balance, e) there is such a thing as balance, f) there is some kind of strict dichotomy between my day job and my coaching business, just to name a few.

This, I realize, is going to be a huge part of my surrender experiment: Letting go of justification.

I want to let go of all the thinking my brain is doing to justify a decision, since the justification is there only to make me feel like I’m smart enough, hard-working enough, brave enough, thoughtful enough and righteous enough. Reality is, I am enough, with or without the “right” choice. Whether the decision is right or wrong, I’ll never know. When I surrender the need to be right (or smart or hard-working or brave or thoughtful or righteous), I’m free.  And as long as I’m showing up fully and completely as me, with all my values intact, then no decision can be wrong or a waste of time. As I practice surrendering the need to justify my decisions (which, boiled down, looks a lot like justifying my very existence), I embrace my right to be here, just as I am and simply because I am.

 

Sidelined By Scarcity

file0001943523523

I have not been my best-self at work these past few weeks. I’ve been reactive, blaming and cynical, and have even had (I’m embarrassed to say this) my inner-belligerent-child emerge during a few interactions with my manager. Yes, there’s a lot of drama and stress and uncertainty in my work environment these days, but this is exactly the time when I want all of the personal growth work I’ve done around authenticity, courage and values-based living to help me to rise above the drama, so that I can still be my best-self and not succumb to the things that trigger my grumpy “it’s not fair” gremlin.

Then, a few days ago, I was doing my morning meditation with Deepak Chopra (via his Infinite Abundance app), listening to his wise and soothing voice say to me:

“There are those who live day to day concerned about not having enough of whatever they feel is necessary for their happiness and security. Their bodies most likely echo those feeling by sending messages of discomfort in the forms of anxiety, discomfort, worry or stress.”

The second statement hit me first. I zeroed in on his words: anxiety, discomfort, worry and stress. Yup, that sums up how I’ve been feeling lately. Then I considered his first statement: what I am concerned about not having enough of? Then all the Brené Brown wisdom kicked in. Whenever I hear “not enough” I know scarcity is at play. So, I sat with this for a while: What feels like “not enough” right now? The answers came at me fast and furious:

I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time to do my job, to organize and offer workshops, to be with my kids, to exercise, to relax, to get the house clean, to pull weeds, to read all the books I keep buying, to call my friends, to reconnect with my husband, to get a good night of sleep, to register my kids for swimming, to buy birthday presents, to pack a healthy lunch for myself, to listen to the backlog of podcasts on my iPhone, to create a vision for my business, to meditate…  

Obviously, I could go on and on and on.

This is nothing new, of course. Most of us feel the pressure-cooker of not-enough-time. But what has taken me off guard was how this was impacting my mood, outlook and behaviour. A sense of scarcity is so settled into our subconscious that it can so easily throw us off our game, and in ways that are unexpected. Take my behaviour at work, for example. Here I was, feeling grumpy and acting out like a toddler in the workplace. I’m not sure I would have connected that back to a sense of time scarcity had I not sat with my anxiety around “not enough”. But there it was.

It makes me think of all those times I’m short and agitated around my children only to realize what I’m feeling is anxiety and fear that has nothing to do with them or their behaviour. This happened recently, after the photo of the drown Syrian boy on the beach was everywhere. You would think that the sorrowful image would make me go home and hug my children. Instead I went home and was uber-stern with them. Again, when I checked in with myself, I realized how much fear and anxiety I had around what happened to that child. And I was acting out that fear and anxiety by being agitated with my children (it doesn’t make sense, but our sense of vulnerability can be overwhelming and trigger some strange behaviour, folks).

So making the connection between my sense of scarcity and my fear/anxiety and my less-than-ideal behaviour at work was the necessary first step to making better choices. I have to say that time-scarcity is a big trigger for me and I try to be very aware of how this manifests in my thoughts and behaviour. I don’t always catch it, but this is all a practice after all. I remind myself that it is all enough; that everything I do and don’t do is enough. There is no race, there is no finish line, and the only thing I need to do is stay 100% in the moment in order to be my best-self.

 

 

Practicing Guidepost #7

Relax MGD©

I’ve been struggling for a few weeks to find the time and headspace to write a new blog entry. And this morning it dawned on me: it’s time to take a break from blogging and it’s time for me to start practicing Brené Brown’s Guidepost #7 (of the 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living).

Guidepost #7 is Cultivating Play and Rest. I know it’s time to seriously cultivate some play and rest right now, because:

 

  • Summer is here, a natural time to slow down and enjoy the long, sunny days.
  • Things at work are starting to slow down after a crazy busy season of planning, budgeting and forecasting.
  • I’ve been suffering from insomnia for the past two months (yes, in large part from the crazy busy season at work).
  • My brain feels wrung dry of ideas and inspiration – hence the dry spell in writing for my blog.
  • My body came crashing down a week ago with a nasty cold that I can’t seem to shake.

Cultivating play and rest might sound nice and easy to put into action, but it can be a tough guidepost to practice. Why? Because of what’s required to let go in order to truly make this practice have impact: to Let Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth. Yup, it may be easy to pour a glass of wine and put my feet up in the name of cultivating play and rest, but that’s not actually enough. That won’t actually give me the true reset my body, mind and soul need.

Practicing this guidepost means making a deliberate effort to embrace being over doing, which can be especially difficult when my default is to measure my “good enough-ness” against how many things I can check off my to-do list in a day. And don’t even get me started on the trap of comparison! What is there to talk about with my friends if not how tired or exhausted we are from all the demands in our lives, from kids to jobs to husbands to health?

It seems that if we are not busy and not tired from being so busy, something is wrong with us. We are all deeply suffering from a sense of time-scarcity. We wake up complaining we didn’t get enough sleep and then go to bed worried that we didn’t get everything done. And when we do manage to check a lot of things off our to-do list, we feel particularly proud of ourselves. Then we wake up the next morning to a fresh set of to-dos, and the exhaustion builds all over again.

Well, for me, it’s time to take a chance on rest and play instead. So, for one, I’m taking a break from blogging and won’t be posting again until September. My brain is saying “I’m full”. My body is saying “I need a break”. My soul is saying “Slow down and rediscover the joy of not doing.” And my choice is to heed these messages with a deep sense of self-compassion.

My wish for you, dear Reader, is that you will do the same. Take these hot, sunny summer days as your invitation to slow down and cultivate some rest and play into your life. Not everything on your to-do list will get done, and that’s ok: you’re not defined by your productivity, and your exhaustion doesn’t determine your worth. You and I, we are – simply and always – enough.