"Be so busy loving life that you have no time for hate, fear or regret" drifted past my screen as I browsing around for my morning inspiration. Isn't that beautiful? When we think of our day and how busy we were, how much of that time was spent in stress instead of joy?
I asked the other day on Facebook how people react when they are stressed and the majority of women answered "Cry". We cry when we're stressed out - I totally get that. The stress keeps building up until it's only outlet is through our eyes.
What if instead we laughed? Or stopped and watched a sunset? What if we ignore all of the little annoyances and just sat down for a few minutes to enjoy our day? What if we filled our days with perfect little moments?
What if we didn't allow ourselves to get so filled with stress that we explode into tears? That's a good notion. I mean, what if we could just be happy?
I'm not perfect... I get stressed and lose my way. I get wrapped up in negative gossip and get pissed when the driver in front of me clearly doesn't know how to drive. I cry and shut down and call my friends to vent. But I also catch myself in the stress cycle quicker than I used to. I practice letting things go with a deep breath. I stop doing the dishes to watch the sunset with my husband. I put down the computer to give my puppies cuddles during the day.
Life is all about redirection. If I am so busy being happy, loving my life, then truly at the end of the day I have less and less time for stress. I can redirect those negative habits of complaining into moments of joy.
What do you think? Can you redirect some of that stress energy into something happy? Can you laugh instead of cry?
When I went off to college they had a couple of days of orientation for the incoming Freshmen where the parents stayed for a day and got the rundown along side of us. I had 2 roommates. One roommate and I couldn't wait for our parents to leave. We pushed them to their car and waved "See ya!". But our other roommate was distraught. I mean she literally cried for 3 weeks because she was so homesick. I had no idea how to comfort her because it was seriously such a strange concept that she wanted to go home. We were free and on our own, I mean what wasn't there to like? She ended up returning home after the first semester.
As a Mom I decided that my kids would never be like that... not that they would never miss me, but that they would never be held back on their dreams because being in a new environment was too scary. So I did what my parents did to me... I shipped them off to summer camp. My daughter was first in the summer before 6th grade. She chose a tennis camp out near Santa Barbara, about a 3 hour drive for us. So we got there and found her room and I took out the sheets to make up her bed and she told me to stop, that she could do it herself and then she physically PUSHED me out of the room and said "See ya!".
And much to my husband's total confusion, I cried the whole way home. When he looked at me and said that she was going to be fine I replied "Of course she's going to be fine. I'm crying because she didn't need me." Now here's the thing - that was totality what I was going for in the first place! I wanted to have kids who could go someplace new, know no one and be confident enough to handle it on their own. And I got exactly that.
My son goes off to his first camp this week - he's going into 6th grade just like his sister was on her first time. He chose a Rugby camp in San Diego where he, of course, knows no one. So I'm going to drop him off in the morning at the Olympic Training Center and leave my baby there for a week and you know what? I fully anticipate a "See ya!" about 5 minutes into the day. After the unceremonious dismissal from one child, I'm taking my daughter to Ikea to shop for furniture for her first college apartment. She moves in in a couple of weeks. Yep. Another "See ya" moment on the near horizon.
What I have learned from these moments isn't that I raised kids who can't wait to leave me (although it feels a little like that sometimes). I'm going to give myself one heck of a pat on the back and say that I raised kids who have a solid enough foundation that change doesn't cripple them. They can stand on their own because they are loved and they are confident because they know they have back up when they need it.
I will have to hear "See ya!" many more times as a mother and I'm not going to promise that I won't cry afterwards. All I can hope for is that the "See ya!" is followed by a hug and a whisper in my ear saying "I'll miss you".
In marketing there is a saying. Okay I don't really know if it's a saying but it's a thing - give your customers what they want, not what you want to give them. As a spoiled only child I used to have to work pretty hard to remember that, at least until I made it all about me.
See it started with all of the social media sites... I've been on Twitter and Facebook since 2007. When I first joined I followed anyone who followed me. As my followers grew I noticed something - most of these people had nothing interesting to say. They weren't inspiring me, educating me, conversing with me. They were just posting crap. I don't need more crap in my life... so I changed my follow policy. I take a hard look at someone's profile and look at what they are posting and if at that point I'm interested in them and what they are saying I will add them. As a result, my streams got really interesting and fun to read.
And then the light bulb went on... I needed to look at my postings AS IF I were assessing my own friend worth. Would I want to follow me? Are my posts interesting, funny, inspiring, engaging? It's not about what other people will think of me. It's about editing myself as if I were a rough draft of a book - the words are all there on my paper I just rearrange them until I love to read them.
What face would I show the world if I would want to meet me? It's a new kind of authenticity. It's not about putting on a mask and pretending to be someone I'm not, it's about editing my stream and deciding to be the person I'd want to hang out with. And it's not just about social networking, it's about who I am in all things. When I write in this blog I write from my heart and I write things I want to read and learn. I'm not pretending to be something. I simply choose to act from my heart and put my best foot forward.
So I know you read all the time not to worry about what others think of you and to be more gentle on yourself and to let your authentic self shine forth into the world. I will tell you the same thing. But you can choose what that looks like and what you bring to the table. See now as an only child this totally makes sense to me since I am very often my own best friend... You can choose to be the kind of person you'd like to have a cup of coffee with or you can choose to be the person you would edit out of your stream.
So, who will you choose to be today?
Today is a work day... there is a lot that HAS to get done today. However, all of those things that are so important are going to have to take a backseat because today I'm playing hookie. And I'm going to be honest - I am a little stressed about it - it's only natural. I woke up going through all of the things that needed to get done before I get into that car to drive to the beach, some of which involved getting packed and ready for said trip. I love feeling behind before I begin (sarcasm much?)... the guilt of skipping out on my obligations for something as frivolous as digging my toes in the sand is eating at me.
Well, sort of. I mean I'm excited too, it's just that I'm torn between my obligations to others and to my business and the need to play. The nagging feeling that I'm going to be totally behind is there in my head but my head's not in charge today. It gets the next 2 hours to plot and scheme about why I cannot take the day off (I have so many reasons) and to get some crud done and then that's it... my brain is FIRED.
See I know that once I hit the freeway and hear the kids' excitement and their raucous laughter from the backseat those feelings of "I shouldn't be doing this" will change into "I totally deserve this". And the weight of the week will slide off and the joy of hearing the ocean will lift me up.
Sometimes it's actually going that is the hard part, but once you're there you can't imagine why you were resisting so much. Your list can be done later. I promise.
So below I want to hear about your summer 'Hookie' moments... are you planning to chuck it all for a day? If you weren't before, do you think you can now?
One of my clients said to me that one of her biggest struggles was because "Life is really unpredictable and I'm not a spontaneous person". Deep breath there because you know what? She's right. Very few of us can go with the flow all of the time... most of us try to control the path we're on, change the course of our day, resist change and shy away from the unexpected. So today's blog was my response to her... I figured it could help a couple of you control freaks (like myself) out there too :)
Life IS totally unpredictable - there is absolutely NO way that it will ever meet your expectations. Sometimes I will go over a conversation in my head, one that hasn't even happened, and I expect a specific outcome and when the conversation happens it is always different. That's part of life. But it is unsettling. So here's something you can do that can start helping.
Set aside a portion of your day that is completely controlled and non-negotiable. It can be as little as 15 minutes where you know exactly what to expect and the results are the same all of the time. It's like a little routine, perhaps it's even one that you already do but don't notice. When I shower I do things in the exact same way every time - I wash my hair, then my face, then I put on my conditioner, wash my body, shave arms then legs, exfoliate my feet, rinse off the conditioner. It is something I can control. It's predictible and stable and steady. You probably have tons of routines that you do each and every day that you don't pay any attention to.
It's about the intention behind the little habits you have - instead of just going through the routines, do them intentionally and with purpose. Because here's the thing - life will always throw you curve balls so you have to have periods of time for your brain to feel in control, to know what to expect. And once you start intentionally giving yourself things that you control then the un-planned things are less jarring because you have basically created a nice solid stable core, a foundation where you know the outcome. You can say to yourself "I know that the rest of my day may turn out topsy turvy but right now I'm comfortable knowing what to expect."
In this way, our habits become the very things that set us free. So.... down below in the comments section, tell me about one route or habit that you do daily - you probably don't even think about doing it - and then do it today with purpose, like it's something special and see if that doesn't make a small difference in your day...
You know how you have this great idea about something and all you can do is tell people about it because you're so excited and you ask everyone's opinion? I totally get it - I love getting people's opinion on all of my multi-passionate ideas. Hey, what do you think about this? And so I ask for their opinions... and somewhere in their masked enthusiasm I hear it - that one little tone or word or sentence that makes me no longer be in love with my idea. It's such a let down.
It's like when I put on an outfit and I love it. I mean the shoes, the accessories, the colors all fit my mood for the day and I walk into my Great Room and my kids look at me and kind of crinkle their noses like there's something they just don't like. I no longer feel like I'm rocking my look, I feel like I look stupid. Okay, my son is 11 and a BOY. Do I really think he has a better fashion sense than I do? No. Does it still make me question myself? Yep. Every time. How about asking me if you should date someone? Why would I know that for you and why would my opinion on who you should like and not like matter? What - should I arrange a marriage for you too since I obviously know what's best for you even better than yourself?
In a perfect world we just wouldn't listen. But let's get real, we listen. Especially when the dream is really big and personal. Why? Because the really big ideas are scary and quite honestly we love having a way out for ourselves... it confirms that little nagging voice on our shoulder that says 'See, I knew it would never work and someone else agrees. Forget even trying when other people agree that it's a stupid idea."
What is more realistic than not listening is to just stop asking. Stop questioning and start telling. YOU know when an idea or dream is right FOR YOU because it feels really good inside and it scares you in a really great way, like a tingly anticipation. Other people will never feel that way about your dreams so why are you asking for their opinion on what you should do?
Instead of asking "Should I", say "I'm Going To". You are the only one who really knows if it's right or not for you. Trust yourself enough to not have to go running to others for guidance.