"Reading your own bio is more painful than looking at current photos." I've been helping a friend update his bio. Several days after sending him the first draft, his response email came and literally made me laugh out loud. "I am learning that reading ...

Catching Up to Your Own Success

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"Reading your own bio is more painful than looking at current photos." 

I've been helping a friend update his bio. Several days after sending him the first draft, his response email came and literally made me laugh out loud. "I am learning that reading your own bio is more painful than looking at current photos."

I laughed because I related so much to the raw truth of his statement. 

My friend's career has taken a huge uplevel that puts him in the very top echelon in his field. And, while his ascent has been organic and based on decades of study, practice and proven success, the latest leap is the stuff of dreams personified. Thus, the need for a new bio.

It got me thinking about how sometimes there are those comfortable parts of ourselves - as in the parts that fit-like-an-old-shoe - that aren't quite ready for the big accomplishments and successes that happen to and for us. And, once you see yourself in that elevated position, in black and white, in meaningful descriptive words, the way others already see you, and the way the rest of the world is about to know you, it can take a minute to catch up. For the rest of yourself to catch up.

In fact, for me, there have been times in my life when I felt I went backward after a big leap. Where the fear of being able to actually survive and thrive at the new higher base camp, sent me back a few thousand feet.

When you think about it, mountain climbers who set their sites on a major pinnacle must do so in increments. They spend time at the elevated base camp to become acclimated to the higher elevation. They have to allow their bodies to catch up. To become comfortable with the new normal. Once they have, they can keep moving upward. And, every few thousand feet they must get acclimated again. 

The same can be said for your life and career. When something major happens - a promotion, a huge book launch, a major product line unveiling, a big sale from your life's work, a high profile invitation to sit at the big table - it makes complete sense that you might need to take a moment. Or several. To acclimate to your new base camp.  To enjoy the view, as well as the fruits of your labor; to get comfortable in your new suit of clothing. Adjusting. Loosening the bindings so that it fits. Making room for all of you. 

I used to think it was self-sabotage, those moments when I took a step back, and when the committee in my head would come up with all the reasons why I didn't deserve it.

Now, with the help of my brilliant up-leveled friend, I see that it really was simply space, a pause, a comma that was needed in order for the rest of me to catch up. It provides the chance to say to the self that's lagging behind, "It's okay, I've got this. How about you get in the backseat and I'll drive for a bit. Until you can catch up."

So take a minute. Get acclimated to your awesomeness. 

Photo by Samuel Clara on Unsplash

       
 

Your Most Important Conversation

It might not be what you think.

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DIANE LOCKHART: I’m happy.

KURT MCVEIGH: You like narrating your life.

~ CBS’s THE GOOD FIGHT.

I thought, ah, there's so much truth to that. We're always narrating our own lives, sometimes dictating, sometimes cheering, sometimes judging. It got me thinking about that most important conversation.

The most vital chat being, to my way of thinking, our inner dialogue, the constant conversation we're having with ourselves. 

On the full moon this weekend some friends were texting about what we each wanted to release and let go of. It can be kind of powerful to do that as one moon cycle ends and another begins. No matter the woo, it's always something good to ponder and can lead to change.

I said I want to let go of the attachment to the negative voices in my head. The naysayers in my internal conversation, the one who says all of those things that spark insecurities or fear. The voice that likes to keep us in check, that says we're not good enough - whatever not good enough looks like. 

So that the "I'm happy" conversation starter is met with, you should be. And, me too. And, I'd like more of that please.

Or the first internal voice that says, "This is what I desire and I'm going for it," is met with, "Great what's the next step?" Rather than, "Yeah, that's not gonna happen. Again." Or "You're a dreamer." 

Here's the deal. Since you are the one on both sides of that conversation you get to write, or rewrite, the dialogue. How cool is that?

Safire Rose in her moving poem "She Let Go" wrote "she let go of the committee of indecision within her." I love that. 

It's so true, sometimes those voices can feel like a committee whose vote is louder and counts for more than your first true voice, the one being told to hush and to stop. That's when, along with letting go of the glue-like attachment you may have to this committee that's likely been in place for years, you can rewrite the committee's agenda. Or, better yet, do away with the agenda altogether and assign a higher purpose and vocabulary to your this-is-my-life-so-I-get-to-write-the-script committee. 

And, since they are voices that have most likely been around a long time, you can be gentle but firm. Listen, but not judge. Learn and reframe. Re-engage and choose the inner conversation you wish to have.

Kind of gives pillow talk and coffee chat a whole new meaning, don't you think?

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

       
 

Removing the Barriers to Entry

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This is what TV showrunner and writer for ABC's "The Fix", Sarah Fain, said in a recent interview. "Remove the barriers to entry."

She and partner Liz Craft were asked what makes them want to read, or more importantly, continue to read a script that's been submitted to them by writers looking to get hired. Besides good writing, surprises within the first five pages (if the first five don't grab them they stop reading) and interesting and compelling characters, they talked more about what interferes with the read or stops them from reading it all together - things that are firmly within the writer's control and where so often they fall short. Things like bad formatting, poor sentence structure or grammar, misspelled words, not enough white space (too many words on the page), are all turnoffs before word one. 

They said, do yourself a favor and remove the barriers to entry. "Barriers to entry" is an economic term referring to things like high startup costs that prevent a new player from entering an industry or market. Sarah's use of the metaphor brought it down to the personal in such a descriptive way. I love that. It got me thinking about how applicable the notion is to so many areas of life.

To put it more directly: Remove the barriers over which you have control before an entry is upon you. And, entry is whatever is involved just prior to setting you up to succeed. An interview, a big presentation or workshop, a networking event, a date, a workout schedule, an eating plan or that huge opportunity to be read or seen by someone who can change your career.

Dot the i's.

Cross the t's.

Over prepare.

Rehearse.

Get notes.

Proofread, then proofread again.

Layout your workout clothes before you go to bed.

Have healthy snacks prepared.

Check your teeth.

Spellcheck. If someone doesn't take the time to fix misspelled or missing words in an intro letter or pitch then how will they be as part of a team on deadline, etc. That may seem harsh, but it's reality. You never know what someone's hot buttons are. So, push them yourself before they become the reason you're out before you were ever in. 

We've all been there, I know I have. And, what a great reminder to not jump the gun until you're ready. This doesn't mean to become paralyzed by perfection, but rather to pay attention to and take seriously the importance of the details. The details that even the playing field, that lay the groundwork for a smooth entry or an easy read or an inviting cover letter or compelling first interview or smooth-sailing presentation or consistent workout schedule. 

Bottom line, it's doing everything within your power, to powerfully put your best self forward always and in all ways.

 

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

       
 

What is Significance?

What is significance?

I got to thinking about this, this week when someone mentioned the significance of the date 4/20, at the same time that so many significant dates are also on the calendar. Dates that signify and recognize events with special meanings, like Passover and Easter, wedding anniversaries, birthdays of loved ones who have passed on as well as those commemorating a new year. New beginnings and endings. Full moons and planet retrogrades.

It got me thinking as well about the power we have over what and where we place significance in our lives.

To be significant is to be important, to be singled out, to be considered of high value, as in one's significant other.

It's the magnitude and weight of the attention you place on it that makes it significant. And, the meaning you impose or create around it.

How do you determine what is significant in your life?

I find, more and more, with all of the many things that push and pull us every day, that discernment and careful consideration are what guide me in determining what's significant. It's a start to the essential and organic syphoning off of what is not important.

And, the bar continues to rise as we become more clear about our values and purpose. If the thing doesn't rise to meet that bar, then it makes it so much easier to focus your valued attention on what does.

Some thoughts to ponder heading into the weekend...

What meets your high bar of significance?

       
 

Overwhelmed? Shut Off The Spigots

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Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

 

I didn't even notice it until I was in tears. It finally took hold of me. I was overwhelmed.

Normally, I'm blessed to walk around with a pretty large container. In other words, I have the capacity to take on a lot. Whether it's a full house of projects with multiple deadlines, or being there for family or friends in need, or receiving and assimilating input from several sources as I walk my path. And, so often I feel fed, nourished, loved. 

So, it's not often my container overflows. This week it did.

I started noticing that every time I watched or read the news or got into a discussion about some outrageousness that was happening, I got a huge knot in my gut, a heaviness that moved up to my chest. A load that I could previously shake off. A feeling that didn't stay with me. 

This week it did. 

And, as someone who's always been independent, as an introverted extrovert, I've been a-okay with being a solo container much of the time. I don't get lonely. In fact, I have a tendency to isolate by choice, spending a lot of time alone. Some of that is built in as a writer. And, I usually don't have issues with not being a part of an event, of not being included in something.

This week I did.

It came rushing, unexpected, like a slow-motion tidal wave of wet fog. 

It tugged at me when I heard of and saw pictures of my family all enjoying each other, loving each other, while I'm half a country away. Now, I've been a long distance sibling, daughter, aunt, sister-in-law for over 20 years. And, it's not tugged at me before, not as a usual thing. I love seeing them love each other. 

This week it did.

It pulled at me when I saw pictures on social media of a bunch of friends at an event that wasn't on my radar so I wasn't there. And, then What's App inadvertently tossed me off the app so that when I re-registered I couldn't get back into a group text with some of my favorite women. I could peek into the group but I couldn't get back in. Previously, I would chalk these up to timing and other plans and technology glitches that can be fixed. They wouldn't pull at me like the anchor of an avalanche.

This week they did. 

It haunted me when I got stuck on some writing projects and rather than honing in and focusing on the project at hand I procrastinated with a game app. Normally I could relax in the game and then get back to it, refreshed.

This week I couldn't. 

What was going on? It was easy to recognize that I was feeling overwhelmed. But, there was something deeper. Different. Unfamiliar yet so familiar. Surprising, yet not. Then, it hit me, which is what caused the tears to flow. The gnawing feeling that spread like waves on a very personal shore? This was separation.

I felt separate. Separate from people I love. Separate from my writing, from the deep work I love. Separate from belonging. Disconnected from the sparks of life all around me. It was exhausting.

So, I went to the place where I usually go first for solace. I sat with pen to paper. "What's going on?" I wrote. And, nothing came.

Nothing. For several moments. Then, this whisper floated from my fingertips:

"Where am I separate from myself?"

Ah. There it was. In what ways have I split away from being? And, what has caused it? 

The response was gentle but direct. "The reason you're separate from yourself is that there's no room in your container for you. You have too many spigots coming in that are turned on full blast."

Whew, what a visual. I saw myself gasping for air, being pummeled by numerous faucets that became aggressive water hoses. It made total sense. But, it didn't make the anxiety lessen. 

As a common trait, I don't often reach out for help. I usually dig deep into my own container for solace and inner knowing. This time I did reach out. Probably because I couldn't find myself amongst the chaos. After a text to my sister, "I feel separate," she immediately called and talked me through my teary moment. And, the first thing she said, "you gotta get off the grid," reiterated the earlier message from my inner wisdom.

I knew it went deeper than just going off the grid, but it felt like a good start.

Turning off the spigots so there's space in my container for me, space for my own well to spring. 

So, I committed to get off the grid for the weekend. Then, I started listening to "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World" by Cal Newport, on Audible, which I'd forgotten I'd purchased until after my chat with my sister. He talks about the science behind the idea that those very things you do that you think are connecting you to the world: social media, apps, news notifications, texting, are the very things that can make you feel separate, disconnected from your own humanness. He suggests a 30-day digital declutter.

This really resonated with me. I've been doing the KonMari Method (Marie Kondo) and have loved the openness it's created in my home. In fact, I bought Newport's book because it made sense to continue with the decluttering in the digital space once I was done with the home. But, with the container crisis upon me, now was the time.

I made a list of all of the digital areas that were to be removed for 30-days:

  • Social media (unless for work. I'll hear about something if it's important)
  • All news (I'll hear about something if it's important)
  • Phone & game apps (these are my go-to for numbing out when overwhelmed. In fact, I'm addicted)
  • Email (unless work or friend/family related)
  • Google (unless work related)
  • Other websites (unless work related) 
  • No binge watching
  • No NPR

Then I wrote, "Can I do this? I must do this." After 30 days, according to Newport, we are to reassess and add things back in that are beneficial. Choose what spigots are turned on and when. 

But, turning off the spigots is only the first step to reconnecting with self. It's been just a few days and I already feel lifted by the bits of space that are showing up. It's not been easy. In fact, I'm having withdrawals and find myself sometimes fiddling with what to do with myself if I'm not on my phone. 

And, in the space, here's what's coming:

Connecting - making more of an effort to reach and connect with friends, in person. I'm already benefitting from this and look forward to doing more. Community makes you feel a part of something, less separate. So you feel more connected to yourself.

Human Touch - whatever that means to you. This weekend, it meant getting a massage. Human touch is vital for connecting with your own body. 

Gratitude - spending time in deep gratitude. For being so loved and also for loving family and friends. For an abundance universe filled with opportunity and generosity. And, for every experience and situation that brings lessons that drive and lift life. Gratitude is like a glue that puts you back together again. A life adhesive.

Prayer & Meditation - asking for guidance about will serve my highest good, and for the people and world I care about. Meditation is THE best way I've found to reconnect with myself.

Breath - I realized throughout this episode how much I was holding my breath. Just breathing deep and allowing the healing of our own breath to surge through our bodies can be so effective and helpful. Just pausing for ten deep inhales/exhales resets everything.

Focus on Purpose - when in overwhelm, there isn't time, space or energy to see through the trees. Turning off the spigots has allowed the mist and fog to clear so that I can center in on purposeful activities, like writing and storytelling.

What's Expansive - Newport talks about looking for active, new things to try. Healthy things that expand your life. For me, I'm going to take up piano lessons again and get back to French class and hiking. I'd forgotten how much music inspires, calms and fills me up. I've rediscovered music on the radio after bidding adieu to NPR for the next month. Joy and pleasure connects the fibers of our being. 

The pit in my tummy still comes in waves, but I'm finding my own inner wellspring, which is calmer and the air already feels lighter and sweeter. More space. With the spigots off, the wonder finds room again.

That's something, to be sure.