You Are Becoming

willoworig

“We all wind up drawn to what we’re afraid of, drawn to try to find a way to make ourselves safe from a thing by crawling inside of it, by loving it, by becoming it.” Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Ever since beginning my journey to become a great life coach there has been one word that keeps swirling around me. I had not ever heard this word and my name spoken in the same sentence before my journey but I hear this word quite often since embarking on my journey. One word that I never in all my life would associate with describing who I am; one word that sounds so empowering and makes everything so possible and yet it has been a word I have been afraid of my whole life. I heard it yet again a day ago in relationship to me and I had to just sit very still and really think about all the times where this word has shown itself in my life and wonder why I just haven’t made the connection. Why does this word strike such fear inside of me?

Before I reveal the word let me ask you this question:

In your lifetime in what circumstance have you ever wished you could see yourself the way other people see you?

This could be in a good light or a not so good light. This could be on your “best foot forward” day or your “I wish I stayed in bed today” day. This could be in a spiritual way meaning wanting to see yourself as God sees you but not being able to do so.

Many times I have wished I could see in me what other people see in me. I absolutely believe that if I had the “knowing” of what other people believe I can be or what they think I already am then I could conquer the world. I believe this because of the one thing I know about myself most of all and that is that I hate to let people down.

It’s not really a people pleasing knowing that I have about who I am it’s more of a challenge I adopt within my heart that pushes me to do and become simply because someone I trust and admire has a knowing about me, an insight about me that I never allowed or truly saw in my own self. There is a becoming about me that other people see whether it is in the form of who I am becoming or that I am becoming in appearance or in a spiritual sense.

“Sight is one of the most easily deceived senses. I could make a coin disappear and your eyes would believe it gone, even if it were merely up my sleeve.” Megan Chance, The Spiritualist

I find this quote so universal and so important. What does someone see in each of us that we hide from our own selves? What disappears from within us that we believe is gone or never existed yet another person can see as if it were part of our face or skin or clothing? Something someone else sees but knows that we don’t so it appears to have disappeared but is not truly gone. It’s kind of a version of faith; to walk in the trust of what is unseen.

What holds each of us back from becoming who we are meant to be or who we want to be?

The dictionary defines the word becoming as:

  • Flattering a person’s appearance
  • The process of coming to be something or of passing into a state or any change from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality

We are all in such a rush to “get there” wherever there is that we forget or choose not to stop and listen and see that in order to become we must slow down and be the word that has been swirling around me….courageous. Using the word courage is how people have been describing me for the past 3-1/2 years and it comes up so often that I can’t ignore it anymore. I still don’t see it when looking through my own eyes but I absolutely must see what other people see if I am to become what they believe me to be; what their faith in me speaks to them.

Where does courage show up for me? Courage shows up when I am vulnerable, when I admit I don’t know something and can open my heart to receiving help and guidance, when I am asked to face a fear and work through it in the truth of not wanting to face the person inside of me who is saying, “Walk away from this. You don’t have to face this.” Courage shows up when life gets really, raw-ly emotional for me and I have to stand and face that painful dragon and slay it. Courage shows up when someone hears a piece of my story and their take away is the courage they heard in my voice and in my words when I never felt courageous at all while going through it.

What has happened inside of my heart is that by hearing the word courageous associated with me the person and me the spirit I have created a trail behind me that I want to always remain and lead me home. I am starting to believe in this crazy word. I may not yet fully associate courage with who I am but I like what other people are seeing in my becoming and I don’t want to let them or myself down. I want to keep exploring this empowering feeling and word and see what I can see as I go along creating my truth and building self-trust.

In her book Daring Greatly, author and scientist Dr. Brene` Brown said this when describing herself through vulnerability, courage and allowing herself to see what other people see in her:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” I had no idea that in each life moment where I stood up and plowed through a fear I was courageous and vulnerable and revealing a truth about who I am deep inside, yet other people could see it in me all along.

Dr. Brown goes on to say:

“All the love and support I received allowed me to slowly begin to take more risks, to show up at work and at home in new ways. I took more chances and tried new things.” Because of each conquest I had made that lay behind me I was unknowingly building strength and empowerment toward the next big thing. And each time I was in a situation to tell my story there came that word again, courage.

What I’ve ultimately learned is that by sharing my stories where I unknowingly showed courage I have been able to allow those listeners to imagine themselves facing the same fears and making it through on their own way toward becoming their best selves.

Here is what I’ve learned so far about the incredible walk I’ve been taking toward my own becoming….

Trust: Trust your heart, trust your gut, and trust your sincerity and integrity. Trust that although the process might take a lifetime, each step is for and toward a purpose. There is no rush toward becoming whatever you want to become or whoever you want to become because each level you reach is a level you needed to obtain in order to keep going forward. It may not be for you in the end, it may be for someone else entirely, keep going.

“Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. (from ‘Instructions’)” Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Believe in your value: For me the word courage is truly a value in action. I’ve shared with you before about how our values show up in our lives whether intentionally or magically. Knowing what your values are is a very strong and empowering step in your becoming. When I first took the test to determine my top 5 values out of the 24 values we all carry within us, courage was somewhere in the middle. Recently I was asked to take the test again and surprisingly courage appeared in my top five. I just shake my head. I had no idea how strongly courage has played a role in my life until I decided to dedicate myself to finding my life.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sight: This is a tough one. It is far easier to hide from the truth of what we see in our own soul than to admit the vulnerability and the blessing in bringing it to light. I can recall many times in my life when I hid from my own self in order to not face my own truth. What I’ve learned is that life does not exist in the places we choose not to see. Life can only exist in bringing forward all the messy, mixed up, odd, weirdness’s that make up who we are. I have taken action steps with the utmost of integrity and seen first-hand the power those steps have created. Take what you see from within your own soul, the person you see that you want to be and take that first step with integrity toward that unique and wondrous person. The people in your world will thank you for it and your heart will grow and your eyes will see what can’t be seen because your heart will grow.

“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul’s worth.” Shannon L. Alder

Courage: I can’t think of a better word than this. To have courage means to exercise your will to accomplish goals you set for yourself in the face of opposition, whether it is an external opposition or internal opposition. Another way to look at this is in the word bravery. According to professors and authors, the late Christopher Peterson and current University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman, their book Character Strengths and Virtues talks about bravery as the “ability to do what needs to be done despite fear. Beyond the domain of battle on a battlefield, bravery allows for this character strength to be applied by not only saying or doing the unpopular but correct thing but in also facing terminal illness with equanimity and to resisting peer pressure regarding a morally questionable shortcut.” To this I would add that it also takes meaning in any act large or small where we are running through our own internal fears of whatever we have chosen to face head on.

For example: When I was tasked at my temp job to create an excel chart and maintenance form I panicked. I don’t do excel well at all. The challenge before me was to get the task done and done very well. I enlisted the help of a colleague to teach me some basic things and then I took it from there. I refused to leave for the day until the bulk of the work was done. That was my internal opposition. It took all kinds of crazy courage to meet the challenge of fear that excel symbolizes for me but I did it. Did I feel courageous? No. Did I feel successful in the end? Yes. Would I choose to take on another excel project? Oh hell No. Did I prove I could do it and so I could do it again? Yes. Ultimately what stayed inside of me, what I see now, is that when courage is needed I enlist, without thought. When my kids would get hurt and cry in pain I surprised myself every time by not panicking. I stayed even tempered, quiet, calm and loving for them and later when they were back to their playful, happy, bouncy selves I let out a deep breath and cried a little.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

Take some time to really, deeply think about your own character strengths and values; listen to how often a particular value comes up in your life; allow yourself to see where you are being an example day after day of this character strength and value. Believe what can’t be seen by you alone. That is faith, and that is having a knowing that you are indeed becoming as you walk through your purposes in life.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

 ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Call to Action

What are some of your core values often hidden but revealed in patterns of your behavior?

What would it take to acknowledge, out loud, in every way of your everyday those hidden core values?

When do you find yourself becoming your most “real” self?

In what ways have you been seen by others as real, as honest, as courageous, as vulnerable but did not allow yourself to see those truths within you?

Activity Challenge

In an effort to practice seeing those things we choose not to see or just can’t see, ask yourself just one of these questions every day and really dive into your day and all its glory. Then in whatever fashion helps you to express your answer use it. It could be journaling, praying, talking to a friend, coach or partner. The questions are:

What went right today?

What left you filled with awe today?

Where did your heart lead you today?

Where or in whom did I find inspiration today?

The Difference Between a Scar and a Tattoo

 

 

floweroriginal

Out of the pain of growth comes beauty and uniqueness.

“Take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.” –Chris Cleave, Little Bee

How much of life have you survived so far?

Are any of the survival moments scars on your skin or on your heart or do you wear them proudly as a tattoo, a story your body doesn’t hesitate to tell?

One night at dinner my son brought home a friend from school. We had amazing food and amazing conversation and as it is when lots of boys get together we got to talking about injuries and scars. The boy stood up and said, “Oh have I got scars to show you.” For the next 20 minutes he proceeded to show us all of his scars, the ones that were allowable to show, and we were all riveted to hear the stories and see the proof. He smiled proudly through it all and he just as proudly knew that life wasn’t finished with him yet, that there would be a lot more scars to talk about as he got older.

Listening to the boy’s stories I couldn’t help but think what a busy, treacherous, boyish, adventurous life he had lived so far and I thought these weren’t scars he was showing us, these were proud tattoos of a life well lived; he was only 13 years old.

“Tattoos are a right of passage. They’re a marker of bravery, of maturity, of cultural acceptance. The tattoo represents not only a willingness to accept pain – to endure it – but a need to actively embrace it. Because life is painful – beautiful but painful…….” Nicola Barker, The Yips

There are lessons we learn in school and there are lessons we learn in life. I’ve come to believe that when those 2 distinct paths cross, that is when we wear our story. When I become aware and present in my life moments I am, in a way, choosing the tattoos I want to brand who I am and who I want to be.

When something doesn’t go the way I want it to it is in the choices I make as to who I then become. When someone hurts me physically or emotionally I can choose to become and remain a victim of the hurt or I can grow from it and own it and wear it like a tattoo of honor or shame and either way I can then create teachable moments to share along my life’s journey. It’s hard though to step back in an emotional moment and realize that there is always a choice to make.

A Scar that Purposefully Became a Tattoo

My daughter faced this very crossroads when the person she considered her best friend did things that proved the girl wasn’t a good friend at all much less a best friend. It sent my daughter into a tail spin and for quite a few years my daughter tried to manipulate her mind to stop fighting a battle within herself to change the friend but rather to accept what was happening. To make a very long story short, the choice she made in the end was to find a way to accept the girl for who she was and to also accept herself for who she was becoming. Not an easy thing to do at all but with lots of patience and practice and self-love she has truly managed to step over to the other side of the pain and wear her lessons learned like a tattoo on her heart. She feels more empowered, more right minded and stronger within her heart than she has ever felt. I see it in her eyes and I hear it in her voice in the way she speaks. She believes what she is working through and how she is working through it and there is a whole bunch of reasons to respect her process. But the question is, how is she doing it? How is she accepting herself and the person that turned out to be nothing like the friend she thought she had? Here are some steps she took to get to where she is right now:

Seek help. The minute my daughter felt the disillusionment of the friendship she talked with me about it. She also casually talked with her other friends. She enlisted the people she felt most comfortable with and asked their opinion, asked their advice, and asked if they had ever been through something like this. She even confronted her friend in order to get a better understanding of where this friendship had gotten so off the rails.

By being vulnerable to the pain she allowed light to penetrate the cracks that were forming in her heart. The light acted like a laser tattooing her heart with the tools she would need for wisdom and compassion.

“When we feel weak, we drop our heads on the shoulders of others. Don’t get mad when someone does that. Be honored. For that person trusted you enough to, even if subtly, ask you for help.” Lori Goodwin

Listen. No matter what stories were being told to her she had enough respect for herself to just listen to what was being said and not said. She took a mental inventory of all the information and let it sit inside her heart for however long it needed to so she could pick and choose the points of information that fit her best.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Talk it out. There were 3 distinct times where my daughter met with the “best friend” and tried to let her know how she was feeling. It took a lot more than 3 times to get the friend to understand and to this day the understanding is still not completely there but forgiveness has taken root on both sides of the friendship and THAT means a positive change has happened. The part that is most important is in the trying to keep communication open and honest.

“When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.”Shannon L. Alder

Take a step back. Step away from the situation long enough to allow the silence and the physical space to work it’s magic. Clarity has a chance to surface when distance is allowed in. Constantly working on the pain and the situation at hand can cause more pain and less clarity. Step back, breathe, take a time out and let the dust settle a bit.

“In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.” Jeanette Winterson, The World and Other Places: Stories

Know when to let go. As painful as it has been for my daughter to admit, she had to get to a place in her heart where she realized it was more painful to deny who she is right now in her own growth toward adulthood than to compromise any more of who she has already become in order to save the friendship. She had to let go of what she wanted the relationship to be in order for the relationship to become what it was meant to become all along. Sometimes we can only see what we want to see instead of what is really right in front of us. Releasing control over the pain allows us to let go and let each person be who they are right now.

“Distance sometimes lets you know who is worth keeping, and who is worth letting go.”Lana Del Rey

Find gratitude. What was my daughter most grateful for in having this person as her friend in the first place? When she was able to truly list from her heart all the reasons she liked having this person in her life she was able to settle down the pain. People change; life changes us on the inside and the outside. Her friend’s life story isn’t pretty and unless you have walked in her shoes you cannot know the scars she wears and how deep they cut. Those scars have a chance to become tattoos of pride when her friend is ready to stop being a victim to the pain and the past. When my daughter came to understand her own gratitude toward the friendship the friendship had a chance at a new life and a new breath.

“Once you start recognizing the truth of your story, finish the story. It happened but you’re still here, you’re still capable, powerful, you’re not your circumstance. It happened and you made it through. You’re still fully equipped with every single tool you need to fulfill your purpose.”Steve Maraboli

In the end, the two friends are trying to re-invent their relationship and from my humble perspective it looks to be a beautiful tattoo rather than an ugly scar.

Call to Action

What lessons are you learning, experiencing, creating, in your life moments that will become a permanent part of who you are?

Will those lessons be a tattoo or a scar?

The Relevancy of Being Irrelevant

leavesoriginal

Like leaves that thrive, explode with glory and wait patiently for its purpose again so is our relevancy throughout our lives; growing, glowing, transforming year after year.

I have a job; I feel relevant. I don’t have a job; I feel irrelevant. My children are healthy and making good choices; I feel relevant and significant in their lives as a good role model. My children are making poor choices again and again, exercising their free will; I feel irrelevant and insignificant asking myself where did I go wrong…and so it goes. Up and down like a rollercoaster, constantly. I think it’s called LIFE.

The dictionary defines the word irrelevant as unrelated to the matter being discussed or considered; not important; not applicable or pertinent; having no meaning or connection with the subject or issue.

Just reading those words makes me feel frumpy and broken and I don’t want to live in these words but sometimes I just feel impertinent and unimportant and like I’m not connected to anything or anyone.

Let’s turn it around.

What does it mean to be relevant? The dictionary defines the word relevant as the state of being closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand; meaningful or purposeful in current society or culture; a connection to the matter being discussed; having practical value or applicability.

I don’t think anyone who lives past age 2 can escape feeling irrelevant at one time or another. However, there is relevance to feeling irrelevant. In a nutshell irrelevancy has the power to allow space for pondering, changing, adaptability and transformation.

I am a mom. I was relevant to my children until they hit 2 years old and they discovered their autonomy by powerfully exercising their use of the word “no”. Oh what fun times we had as a family when the kids would say no to something. It is said in those lovely guide books about raising children that what you see from them at 2 or 3 or 9 years old will manifest itself again in more dangerous and powerful ways when they turn 12, 13 or 19 years old. I am here to attest to the fact that yup, all true.

I became irrelevant in a more powerful way when the kids became teenagers. They no longer needed or wanted to hear from me about anything. They knew everything and if they didn’t they would figure it out on their own. I went through a time of deep despair and depression when every word out of my mouth was ignored, seemed meaningless, disconnected from their perceived reality, not applicable to their situation because “things were different since I was a teenager”. You get the picture?

It’s a tough reality to wrap my head around when, whether with purposeful intent or random circumstance I find myself having to deal with transformation or change of any kind, in this case my children growing up, and asking the ultimate question, “what now”?

Transformation happens when we graduate from college or get married or become parents or change careers or retire. Sometimes transformations are wanted and happily accepted but most transformations take place by being forced on us or we are coerced into the changes that are taking place. At times transformations just happen. By natural design we are creatures of habit and we do not like when things change. Even if we are unhappy with the things we are doing we at least know how to manage our emotions within the unhappiness and tasks rather than throw it all out the window by choice and embrace the attitude of “Yippee !! Come what may”.

I started trying to turn my own mindset around when I got a job outside of the house and could no longer cater to the children’s needs, emotions and quirks full time. In my job I became relevant to the needs of the company and to the needs of strangers. I started to value my ability to learn, my ability to form relationships and to communicate and my ability to own my piece of the tasks at hand. When I started to apply my work mindset toward parenting, my children started to change too. (Shhh — Without their knowledge or permission).

In pondering the life moments when I feel my own irrelevancy, I take the down time to realize the many ways I strive to feel relevant and this list might help you too….

I stay true to who I am deep inside. I believed for so long that if someone would just teach me what they want me to know in order to do the job or task they need done then I could rise to their need and get it done. After all, I had years and years of experience doing just that as a parent. I stayed authentic to who I believed myself to be. If you are struggling with doubt about your own authenticity call me. Let’s get you coached around that because it is the key that unlocks many doors.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”  ― May Sarton

I give. I give my time, my talents, my heart to whatever it is I am doing whether it be volunteering, baking, cooking, gardening, writing, conversing, listening, praying, playing, taking pictures or learning something new. I am “all in” everything I do. I achieve a sense of mastery for each time I practice giving. I become a master at kindness, compassion, empathy, relevance and become more and more authentic in the process.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”  ― Charles Dickens

I am action oriented. I absolutely hate sitting still for too long. I feel most productive and relevant if I am physically moving around getting things done or mentally stimulated when learning something new. Being an action oriented person also means facing fears I keep deep inside. My goal is to practice facing my fears and get to the end of my day with a list in my heart of all the things I gratefully accomplished and to feel exhaustively satisfied enough to sleep well.

“The best thing you can do is just do it, just face the fear and get it over with. How do you get the courage? You create your courage by just taking action…”  ― James A. Murphy, The Waves of Life Quotes and Daily Meditations

I consider my antonyms. It is a natural human defense trait that thoughts will first drift toward negativity before we seek to purposefully rein them in and kick negativity to the curb. Coaching has taught me a tremendous amount about my own inner power of turning things around in my own head. In this case, when I start feeling irrelevant I consider the opposite of my negative thoughts. I think about all the ways in which I am significant, relevant, necessary, valuable, useful, needed and worthwhile. On the chance that I still find irrelevancy within these words I think about and put into action all the ways in which I want to be all of these antonyms and where I can start.

“We each carry with us unique gifts, recognized and unrecognized. We long to harness those gifts in a way that gives life significance and helps us to matter more in the lives of others.”  ― Tom Hayes

I try to keep a child’s mindset or in other words I try to keep a simple sense of curiosity at the forefront of everything I do. Whether I am learning something new to be able to get a task done at work or asking questions to my clients to help open doors on their life’s journey or to my children to help them think about something more deeply, I am always curious on a child’s level as to the how or why that is at the heart of what is happening.

“If we are to use the words ‘childish’ and ‘infantile’ as terms of disapproval, we must make sure that they refer only to those characteristics of childhood which we become better and happier by outgrowing. Who in his sense would not keep, if he could, that tireless curiosity, that intensity of imagination, that facility of suspending disbelief that unspoiled appetite, that readiness to wonder, to pity, and to admire?”  ― C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

As my children get older I have to face the reality that I too am getting older and I think about what will my relevance be once my children are on their own and no longer living in my home? For one thing I am taking back my own life and constantly seeking to create me. It matters to me that even though I no longer need to be physically relevant to teach my children I can be spiritually relevant as an example of how life goes on for me when they are not around.

No matter what stage of life I am in I am always, in one way or another, in transformation mode. I choose the word transformation over the word change because change can be such an ugly word and puts up red flags in my gut. I prefer transformation because that is a more accurate word to describe the big and small ways in which life re-creates, re-invents and re-generates itself constantly. The objective to winning in transformation is to go with the flow. A great example of this is my grandmother. By God’s grace she will be turning 100 years old this August. The normal thoughts when you hear about someone turning an unbelievable age like 100 is what keeps them going and feeling the pull to live?

We don’t live near each other and so we can’t physically see each other on a regular basis but I know through conversations with her or my mom that she never sits still. She still lives on her own, not in a nursing facility, she still drives a car, she still flies on airplanes to visit family at least 3 times a year, she still cooks and bakes, she still meets with friends on a weekly basis, and she still does her own grocery shopping. Three characteristics that keep her relevant is her optimistic attitude toward life, her faith and her curiosity toward life and transformation. She is about to downsize her living and will be moving to a new area, making new friends and forming new life habits. She is not afraid and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants to live in her new space. She is a shining example of relevance in my humble opinion.

If you are going through life moments where you find yourself questioning your relevance please consider that in each phase of transformation we become a clean page in the story of our own lives and have the incredible opportunity to start a new chapter and choose what goes onto our new pages. I hope these “call to action” questions will help you. Let’s open up a dialog about helping each other feel more relevant in every stage of life.

Call to Action

Where in your life right this moment do you feel irrelevant?

In what ways are you believing you are irrelevant?

What makes you feel relevant?

How can you approach your next transformation with a child’s curiosity?

What can you do with the life skills you have learned so far to help someone else and thereby inject relevance into your life and the life of someone else?

What are some new activities, skills or wisdom you would like to include on the new pages of your next chapter?

The Seeds We Sow

 

001

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Sowing seeds and blossoming has never had a more poetic meaning than when I became a mom. According to the calendar I am now entering into the harvest time of parenting. The time when all the seeds have been sown and all the lessons I can teach my young fledglings has come to bear fruit and to see just what took root inside of them. In hindsight it took no time at all for these many seasons to pass and yet it has taken a long, long time of hope, nurture, love, sunshine, feeding and faith to get to this point. Sowing seeds in our children doesn’t always mean that everything will come up roses and I don’t always like what I see in the blossoming which has led me to ask myself….

How do I know I was a good gardener?

As a parent this question has been embedded in my soul from the moment I held my child for the first time. It became more specifically a question of how do I or will I know I did the right thing or did right by my children? The answer is, I won’t know. How can that be? Free will.

The idea behind free will in my children is that although they are a combination of 2 really great and loving human beings they have the God given right to develop their own set of values and life rules, opinions, choices and decisions, just like we did before they existed. In the harvesting time, like what I am going through right now, where the seeds are blooming in a crazy wild manner in every which way, it feels like weeds have taken root. They try to defy gravity and nature and it gets really scary and feels hopeless at times. As a parent I absolutely will not always agree with their decisions and choices and values, oh my, but above all, I know I must have faith that the seeds I have sown will yield a beautiful crop to be proud of.

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oh, don’t misunderstand. There have been and there are glimpses of good manners because that is one of the seeds I planted inside of them, there are snapshots of seeing me in the things they do or say because like it or not that is also one of the seeds I planted inside of them and there are moments of joy and love because above all else that is the seed I wanted to grow most of all.

It’s those times when all seems to be coming up weeds and those weeds threaten to choke the life out of the beautiful flowers I am hoping will bloom, that it all starts to fall apart for me and I over nurture and over water and over feed my seedlings. They are searching for their own growth space and I am trying to stand them up tall and proud. But they are not ready for that because they have not decided to stand up tall and proud for themselves yet.

“Parents can only give good advice or put their children on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” Anne Frank

I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to wanting a full bloom in my children. All I can do as a gardener/parent is love them and be there if and when they need me and hope like crazy that whatever seeds I planted along the way of their growth will yield beauty of spirit and mind.

For all of those times when I realize that perhaps I didn’t always plant a good seed and for all of those times when I think that the weed that is growing right now is what will always be truth, I am learning that in order to ensure that the seed doesn’t turn into a permanent weed is to plant faith. Faith is a very needy seed. Faith needs constant nurturing, constant attention and constant awareness. Faith also needs a sense of humor and an ability to see life backwards. In the spirit of seeing life as backwards here is my short list for all those times when it all should make some kind of sense and doesn’t but in the end still has a chance…..

I might be a good gardener/parent if:

I make all kinds of mistakes from a horrible tasting dinner to turning a white shirt pink in the laundry. It means that although I may not be perfect as a parent, gardener, or human being I am always willing to learn and grow within myself for my children.

I have acted selfish or self-centered. It means that I am vulnerable and human just like my children are. It means that letting them see my true colors makes me more down to earth for them.

I feel deep inside of my soul I have failed. It only means that I have tried something and it didn’t quite work out the way I hoped it would but I am still standing and able to try again another day. “I’m sorry” is the same as Miracle Grow.

I find myself feeling scared and helpless. It means that my heart is so invested and striving for goodness. It is okay to experience every possible emotion that exists and still create beauty and love in my children. Living by example gives them comfort and room to bloom.

I know that without meaning to I have said the absolute wrong thing. It means that I was communicating and trying to find a way to break through verbal barriers with people who speak a different language from mine. Parent talk is very different from kid talk.

In any situation, being able to put myself in someone else’s shoes not only connects me to their point of view but it also grows empathy. In each instance I am becoming a more valuable seed within myself.

So……

What kind of gardener are you?

If you plant honesty, you will grow trust

If you plant goodness, you will grow heart

If you plant humility, you will grow connectedness

If you plant perseverance, you will grow courage

If you plant hard work, you will grow success

If you plant forgiveness, you will grow reconciliation

If you plant love, you will grow the world.

Call to Action

When you take a moment to see the world as your personal garden, what would you like to plant there?

How do you see your garden influencing the garden next to you?

If your garden seems to be growing weeds, what kind of nourishment does your garden need?

From your perspective, what are the signs of a great garden?

5 Steps Toward Cultivating a New Life

 

willoworig

“Yellow decided to risk for a butterfly. For courage she hung right beside the other cocoon and began to spin her own. ‘Imagine, I didn’t even know I could do this. That’s some encouragement that i’mon the right track. If I have the stuff inside me to make cocoons—maybe the stuff of butterflies is there too.” Trina Paulus, Hope for the Flowers

On a very rare and random quiet afternoon I was browsing the internet for odd stories. There are plenty of them out there but some just seem too ridiculous to pay any attention to. What did catch my attention was a list that supported my hope for the arrival of spring. I came across a list of flower names and what they mean.  Here is the gist of the list:

Gardenia – Grace

Iris – Faith

Lilac – Youth

Lily – New Life

Poppy – Imagination

Lotus – Purity

Sunflower – Happiness

Violet – Humble

Orchid – Beautiful strength

Rose – Love

I was particularly interested in Lily because Lily of the Valley is the flower for May and my birthday is in May; the day that I was granted access and honor to live out an undetermined amount of life minutes and to leave my soul print on this gracious life of mine.

“And then Jonah heard God’s voice. “Jonah, do you know what the difference is between you and the trees?” He was confident it was God because God usually asked questions but gave no answers. Jonah didn’t need a divine answer to this question, he knew it. “Yes,” he said. “The difference between me and the trees is that the trees let go of their leaves. I keep holding onto mine. The trees make room for new life. I don’t.” David W. Jones, Going Nuts!

I have been on a journey of the personal and spiritual kind and have come to realize that at the same time as I am learning and growing I have not been making room for new leaves to grow; hiding behind a past that I hold tight to like a scared rider on a rollercoaster. I have been holding on to the totality of all that has happened in my life to make me who I have become so far that I was choking the essence of my life away, until now. I have recognized a deep need to make changes and knew that this need I have been feeling was going to lead to me starting a new life. I had to find my big, deep breath and begin; something.

How shocked I felt to learn that Lily means new life. Making up my mind to change has breathed new life into me. When I started this year I was determined to live my life backwards. I was determined to understand all the nuances of living outside of my comfort zone and doing all the things I thought I was afraid of doing. I was determined to live in the unknown and to try to understand the depths of “living in faith, not by sight.” I was determined to walk through every door presented to me that would normally be a door I would never even consider touching the handle of.

“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.” Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

What I like about the unknown of a good or bad situation is that yes it may be bad on the surface but good can come out of it and it may be good on the surface but it can lead to better if we keep riding the wave of goodness. What I have learned so far is that patience and time need to make their stand in these situations and we need to allow for that.

A few posts ago I talked about my journey into volunteering and how my life unfolded to reveal the most uncomfortable opportunity for me up to that point. This opportunity stands as the example so far, of what possibilities exist in a new life; of what happened to me because I didn’t know I could do anything like this; because the encouragement that has come from this backward opportunity has opened the doors of wanting more opportunities. Everything I do now is touched with the vision and heart of knowing that because other people matter I then matter too. The opening quote so eloquently says, “If I have the stuff inside me to make cocoons”, or in my case, to make a difference, “maybe the stuff of butterflies is there too”, or for me the stuff of loving kindness. Who knew?

A couple of months into my volunteering a paying job opportunity came along. It was a very long time coming and it was the most odd, most crazy, most out of my comfort zone job I could have ever imagined for me to do. I took it, no questions asked. It has added to my feeling of a new life in the way I learn this job, in the way I interact with new people, and most of all in the way I see the value of work itself. I feel like a flower blossoming. I feel like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. I feel like all I want to do is pay forward the life lessons that my new life minutes are teaching me. And so I write to you to share some thoughts…..

So how can we each help ourselves create a new life attitude:

Take a deep breath: It takes an incredible amount of courage to make any kind of change but the change can’t happen unless you get started. One big, audacious, enormous, cleansing deep breath and then say to yourself, “It has begun.” Then, go, be, do.

Buy new shoes: For my new job I needed new clothes but I didn’t want to spend the money on new clothes. I just wanted to enjoy the feeling of having money for a little while. Truthfully, I wanted to enjoy the feeling of freedom I was experiencing by having the money. I wanted to honor the promise I made to myself that once I had a job I would put financial support for others at the top of my to do list. It has been so fun having the freedom to choose who and how I support causes and charities that are so meaningful to me. However, new shoes help to make old clothes feel and look new again. When you feel good about the inside of you, you want it to show on the outside and vice versa.

Let time be your friend not a four letter word: What do you want to change, what challenge do you want to meet, what has your life become up until this moment and what do you want it to become from this moment forward? Meeting new people, starting a new job, eating new foods, learning a new language, whatever is “new” for you in helping to create a new life, allow time to work its magic. Just keep working your life minutes to their fullest each day and before you know it a week, a month or even a year will have gone by and you will look back and see just how absorbed you have been in the flow of living in your new life.

Don’t be afraid: Actually, it is perfectly okay to be afraid but don’t let that fear stop you. Feeling the fear is how you know you are on the right track toward a new perspective, a new life. Keep going and believe in your new life and keep showing yourself how your new life or new attitude or new perspective can change the outcome of a once stressful or undesirable situation. With each breakthrough away from a predictable fear and predictable response to the fear you will gain inner strength and empower your heart and soul to keep exploring and living your new life. You just might attract people to your more hopeful, positive new life and gain supporters or a new love or just lots of great friends. You might just realize for the first time that you are a great friend to yourself.

Stay unpredictable: Let life take you for a ride. Don’t try to control every aspect of every day. Life is not something that can be controlled if you are ever going to actually live it to its fullest. Unpredictable things happen in life, good and bad, so stay open and even more unpredictable in the face of what gets handed to you. You just might be pleasantly surprised at how brave and curious you really are.

A New Life Begins Even When One Ends

Last week a dear friend of mine lost her young son to a senseless car accident. My heart broke into pieces for her loss and pain but she was courageous and brave and most of all she was not afraid of this new life that she now had no choice but to face and so I was not afraid. I was not afraid to hug her, I was not afraid to honor her son, I was not afraid to face all the personal feelings that this particular tragedy stirred up inside of me, I was not afraid to think about my own death in the someday and get specific on how I want to be remembered and suddenly my new life outlook took on even more meaning. This horrible tragedy injected my new life with even more determination and purpose and empowerment.

A new life has begun for my friend. She has to go on living and becoming and growing her heart and soul without her son. Her new life could be magical and wonderful while her heart has become a stained glass window of broken pieces capturing the fractured sunlight of her life minutes. Her story will be spectacular and dramatic and a must read, but not yet.

And isn’t that the point; the existence of the “not yet”? It takes patience and tolerance, curiosity and perseverance, hope and faith and gratitude. It takes a whole lot of courage and love to move through who you were to who you want to be or at times need to be. Every little thing you do or don’t do makes a mark on your soul and on the story of your life. Some people make bad choices when challenges are put in front of them and the story ends. Some people get to the next page of their story and face the challenge of continuing on or start a new chapter. If you continue on make it count. Learn from everything that comes on your path. If you start a new chapter then be new in it. I’m all in and it’s been beautiful.

“Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes we hide the very core of our existence because we fear the judgment of others. Sometimes the universe shifts and we are provided with a brief moment to begin anew. These moments allow us to become fearless and let our perfectly created souls shine.” Cori Garrison, New Beginnings

With all my heart I say to you, shine on…..

Call to Action

What does a new life or new beginning look like for you?

Where do you want to start your new life? In the current chapter or a new chapter of your story?

What is holding you back from entering your new life?

How can I help you today?

 

In memory of Alex Grasso. A son, a soldier, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. You were a success in every role you played. Rest in peace in your new life……

The Busyness of Boredom

friendsoriginal

“Boredom is the inner conflict we suffer when we lose desire, when we lack a lacking.” –Robert McKee

It wasn’t for a lack of desire that I found myself bored at work. I mean who can ever say that they are bored at work with truly no work to do and mean it? I can but I also understand the temptation that some people might fall prey to where they do have actual work to do but they are not motivated to get it done so they feel bored.

In my case I had actually finished the project I was hired to do and there was no other work for me to do even when I asked if I could be of help to anyone in the office. I had no choice but to wait out the next phase of work to begin. I felt quite guilty getting paid to just show up so I told one of my supervisors I wouldn’t be in one day so that they weren’t wasting their money on me not producing an end result. Who does that?

It was quite an interesting scene for me to not only feel bored but to use the resources that were in limited supply around me and fill my time. I finished reading a book, I caught up on correspondence, and I made some phone calls and doctor appointments. This article is a result of the research I did while I was bored at work. The take away for me is that boredom is a choice and when presented with a list of options on how to fill your open space of time in most cases we will usually choose to do as little as possible. I’m no different really but for the most part I think I am strange in that I hate down time unless I’m sleeping and even then I usually wake up the next day feeling very tired because I must have been working hard in my dream state. I can sit still and I can sit for hours at a time but I don’t like it very much so having a host of things to do is always a thrill for me. So as a result of my boredom I created a list of ways on how not to be bored within the down time I suddenly found. See if you can find yourself in just one of the items on the list. Please let me know if you have any options to add to the list. Okay, here we go:

Create avenues of interest: Conversation cues or prompts are one avenue of interest for me. I was on vacation with my daughter one summer and I found a conversation starter kit called a Chatbox. In the box are rectangle cards that ask questions to prompt conversation. I used the box recently when I got hired as a way to try to meet people from all around the office. Where I work is a big facility but most people have to pass my area to get to the kitchen so I set out some candy in a dish and put the cards next to the candy in the hopes that someone would be intrigued to read the questions and make conversation. Not many takers but there were some. Most people are very shy and closed to meeting new people so I’m not surprised but the candy worked out really well in terms of a quick hello or thank you but again not much in the way of conversation and introductions. Just so you know, I keep trying and in case you are curious Peanut M&M’s , Mini Snickers bars and Tootsie Rolls are the popular candy grab among adults indulging in their little kid candy cravings and chocolate fix. It’s the smiles that really do it for me.

“Even the most routine tasks become more rewarding if we approach them with the care it would take to make a work of art.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Stay in touch: Taking an interest in someone else’s day or life moments means a whole lot to that person. Though I was on company time the company had no work for me so I used the technology available to me and got in touch with clients, family members and friends. Getting out of my own head and situation helped to pass the time. I learned things about each person that I may have missed out on if I were too busy to connect with them. I found that I was listening deeper because I wanted to bury myself in their thoughts and words and feelings.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~A.A. Milne

Learn Something: In my case, write something. I learn something new every time I write for my clients and the coaching community. Keeping my mind active is very important to me so I write and read a lot. I play word games and I doodle all the time. If you find a moment in your day where you just need to fill a transition spot of time why not learn a quick fact that you can share with someone right away. You never know where that fact will lead you or if it will benefit someone else.

“It is not that I am so smart. I just stay with the questions much longer.” Albert Einstein

Make Plans: Having something to look forward to is a great boredom buster. Add to or create a bucket list. Your list could be a lifelong list or a weekly list or daily list. What would you choose to do or accomplish today when you thought, “Oh, if I only had the time.” This might be a good time to schedule doctor appointments or schedule that much needed massage you’ve been putting off.

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” Bill Watterson

Problem Solve: Do you want to learn how to make big changes in your life? Take this downtime to get to know yourself better and create solutions to those life challenges that are getting in your way of moving forward in other areas of your life.

“Like most astronauts, I’m pretty sure I can deal with what life throws at me because I’ve thought about what to do if things go wrong, as well as right. That’s the power of negative thinking.” Chris Hadfield

Go Within: Listen to music, meditate, pray. Get deep inside of you and let the person you are too busy to get to know, come out. Ask for spiritual guidance, put hard to answer questions out to the universe and be patient for the answer back. An answer always comes around. What is your truth and how are you honoring it? What makes you happy and how are you choosing it?

“There is a difference between the facts of a person and the truth of him.” Alix Ohlin

Play mental games: While trying to appreciate the slow time I was experiencing I tried to practice and possibly enhance my listening skills. I listened to voice patterns in conversations going on around me and I listened to office noises and tried to identify them. I listened to my own inner thoughts and wondered how best to use them. In some instances I was able to go deeper into the project I was assigned to work on and I was able to expand on the job requirement and learn the software more thoroughly.

“The ancestor of every action is a thought .” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Volunteer: Ask people around you if they need help with a project. Join committees or short term project groups that would benefit from your expertise and willingness to help. Perhaps volunteering outside of what you do all day will enhance what you do in your job.

“Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.” –Albert Schweitzer

Boredom has roots in the feeling of being too comfortable in life. According to authors Robert Biswas Diener and Todd Kashdan, Ph.D, and their book “The Upside of Your Dark Side”, “We feel bored when the current situation is monotonous, low intensity, and rather meaningless. As we become more comfortable in our lives, researchers observed a drop in our psychological health.” In this case the authors mention the invention of memory foam mattresses. “While people were getting better sleep, enjoying more convenience and expecting greater happiness, they were also adjusting to a life without too many trials or hardships.” I think of it in comparison to Purell. We are so anti germs that we are denying our bodies the chance to build immunities to the germs and so our bodies get weaker making us more susceptible to illnesses. Our psyche is ill prepared to handle many kind of hardship these days that our ancestors had to face that they would probably look at us and say, “Are you kidding me, you are upset about that?”

Our growing discomfort with boredom for instance, among other things like uncertainty, doubt and negative emotions lead us to escape and not face these uncomfortable states of being, by, for example, watching a lot of television. T.V. takes us away from our cares and our daily lives. We are not training ourselves to deal with the adversity of something simple like boredom. The authors agree on this point, “Both change and predictability are necessary for a good life.”

The authors ask this question: “So how can boredom be beneficial?” Their answer? “In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, boredom is described as a precursor to insight and discovery.”

I have to agree with this thought because sometimes being bored allows for my creativity to sky rocket. In some instances when I feel bored it’s because I’m procrastinating about doing something specific or I’m day dreaming about a life I wish I was living however there are a lot of times when feeling bored has led me to try something new or be more spontaneous in my life or get a project done that has been waiting for the availability of time. When there was no work to do at my job I felt torn between trying to be resourceful and find work to do while knowing all the work I could be doing if I were home and running the business of my family. Guilt is very powerful but is it also a great motivator.

Here are the authors:

“…..something special happens during periods of boredom. When the brain is left to wander, at best it’s a springboard to creativity and growth, and at worst it encounters a brief period of discomfort. Boredom can also be a state of low energy, signaling that work is complete and acceptable. That is, nothing is left to do so a person feels aimless, but this lack of direction is association with the satisfactory completion of tasks. Last, boredom can have motivational impact, pushing a person toward novelty, providing the mental gun to the head that helps people shift out of complacency into the uncertain, challenging zone where safety and success are not guaranteed.”

As with most experiences whether it is external such as having fun all the time or internal such as the foods we eat to nourish our bodies, everything in moderation. Too much boredom and too much novelty can cause anxiety.

I remember plenty of times as a child telling my mom how bored I was. Her answer was to go outside. Without doubt I always found something to do. In fact using my boredom and just letting the day unfold outside was where I discovered my love of archaeology. If the day didn’t allow for playing and exploring outside then my friends and I would clean my mom’s basement where all my toys and games were solely for the reward of a trip to the ice cream parlor for a job well done. Sneaky witches.

As a mom I fell into the trap of trying to keep my kids busy as they were growing up. Sure, there were times of boredom but not many. I wanted to feed their interests with matching activities or help them maybe discover interests they didn’t know they had. It wasn’t long at all before I noticed the health benefits of letting them NOT be so scheduled and busy. My daughter didn’t get as sick and the boys truly got pleasure in sitting around and just playing with Legos or their Matchbox cars. I have noticed however that my daughter, now a college student, finds it hard to say no to any new experience or interest feeding event. Even when she knows her body could use the rest she makes plans to go and do and be. Could it be the high activity level of her early growing up years or could it be that this is just who she is? I’m so grateful for the times I was able to not have anything scheduled.

There is something so magical about just hanging out at home with no purpose other than to do “whatever.” For example, when my kids were “bored” and they couldn’t go outside one day during the winter months we dressed in our summer clothes, decorated the house as if it were summer time and pretended we were at the beach and we had a picnic in the living room. When they were not tired yet and couldn’t fall asleep we pretended my bed was a boat and we went sailing around the world. Another time we made one whole day all about movies. It’s okay to be bored from time to time. It is the time that helps create the busyness of boredom.

“A good dose of fantasy is exercise for your sensibilities; it keeps your avatar strong.”Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year

Call to Action

Whatever down time looks like to you, and whatever novelty you can come up with to beat back the feeling of aimlessness and boredom why not grab hold of those life moments when they show up and just be in it?

What does boredom open up for you?

When does boredom show up?

How do you make the most of boredom?

5 Ideas To Help Power Your Fears Away

inner critic 001

Do you believe in signs? Do you believe that the universe tries to talk to us all the time but we can only hear the messages when we are ready? I do.

So my theme this year seems to be revolving around the multitude of times God has said “Don’t be afraid”. Ever since realizing that theme I have been so aware of my life moments when I know for sure I would have been too afraid to do something or say something but I purposefully now choose the path of bravery . This year it feels like the words “Don’t be afraid” have been like a shield of armor around me keeping fear at bay.

My attempts at living a life of “don’t be afraid” first played out in my wanting to volunteer. It was as if I had a calling from deep inside my soul to just do it; just put myself in the thick of where someone else had a need.

A year ago I was made aware that people only volunteer where they feel most comfortable; that it is rare that people will volunteer in places and activities they no nothing about or feel is too much away from people and a life they are accustomed to. So I thought about that and realized that I didn’t want to be that kind of person so I signed up to be a volunteer in the cancer center of a hospital. Too many scary, uncomfortable scenes played out in my head and that is how I knew it was the right thing to do. Choosing this particular quest met all of my criteria:

The idea was way outside of my comfort zone.

The idea was challenging both in time and location.

The idea was making me feel nervous and scared.

When you volunteer at a hospital you have to be tested for TB. That is a process in itself but for someone like me who hates pain of any kind and especially needles of any kind this was quite an undertaking; constantly forcing me to ask myself if volunteering at a hospital was really worth it, I mean after all I was also at this point volunteering to put myself through this pain and discomfort. A lot of deep breaths of courage later I made it through and couldn’t be happier to be doing what I’m doing.

I wanted most of all to be helpful and useful and purposeful to someone else; to get out of my own self. I got that.

I wanted to learn new skills and be challenged mentally and emotionally. I got that.

I wanted to see and feel how it would be to reach out to other people in a way that had no obligation back to me. I got that.

I wanted to see if I could get along with strangers purely because I wanted to be there and not be forced into a relationship because I “worked” there. I got that.

I wanted to learn what it would feel like to give of myself wholeheartedly, end of sentence. I got that.

What I got beyond what I was needing to explore and discover was priceless. If I were to get paid to do what I volunteer to do then what I do would become a job and it would lose it’s shine and power and magic. I don’t want that to happen.

Not long after I started volunteering I was called to interview with a temp agency; a job placement company that would help me build more of my skill sets and help me pull my financial weight for my family. I have been out of work part time or full time for too long of a time and getting the call for this interview seemed heaven sent. I accomplished the initial interview and 2 weeks later they found something for me. I quickly realized that I would have to stop volunteering. No way. I took the temp job and worked it out so that one day a week I could still volunteer and make up the work day I was missing on a Saturday. It meant going from no work days to working 6 days a week but I didn’t care. What I like about temping is that the temp job will end but the volunteering will last for however long I can last.

The one thing I noticed right away as a difference between a job and a volunteer position is how people respond to me. I am welcome with smiles and open arms as a volunteer and anything I do as a volunteer is appreciated with a multitude of “thank yous” but as a temp employee I am looked at as an interference in the work flow relationship and with a stand offish attitude. Not one thank you is ever uttered. The universe first warned me and then reminded me this past week to not take things personally and to not make assumptions about anything or anyone. The warning came just before the new work week started:

“Many people are really just sad people. They hurt others because they are hurting. Every person is born beautiful, and much of the ugliness in others was put inside of them by other hurting people.” Bryant McGill

I had to wonder if my personal silent thoughts really can be heard by God or was this just a freaky coincidence…..

And then came the reminder 2 days into the new work week:

“When someone is vicious toward you they are giving you a glimpse of the pain they carry in themselves. Viciousness is suffering.” Bryant McGill

Was my attention to these words more heightened because of my new circumstance? Maybe. The thing is, now that I have so much attention directed at “don’t be afraid” I see the things that naturally frighten me as a call to action through bravery and my new found shield of armor.

I sit in a cubicle (so not me) at this temp job and in the cubicle next to me is a guy who is just not friendly. He barely looks me in the eye or says hello when I say good morning, he rarely smiles and he makes every effort to be too busy to allow me to ask him any questions knowing full well that if I have a question he is the one I should go to. So, I avoid him at all costs except when I have absolutely no choice. My fear lies in the fact that I hate confrontation on every level. My palms sweat, my body shakes, and my mind goes blank. This week I had one moment where I had absolutely no choice and had to ask him a question. In my attempt at not being afraid I used as much humor as possible in communicating with him while remembering the quotes that were purposefully placed in my mind. You know, I actually made him laugh out loud for a tiny fraction of a second. It was monumental to me and it can’t be taken back. It happened and then it was gone.

“Remember this: Sometimes meeting someone has nothing to do with what you can provide for him or her and everything to do with what God needs you to recognize in that person. If you didn’t understand the message, God will keep sending the same person or situation into your life.” Shannon L. Alder

What I have learned is that possibly this is all in support of my “don’t be afraid” theme; all in support of helping me be a better me and helping me understand others better as well. I am trying everyday to understand the messages that are being sent to me and what it means to not be afraid. What I learned about myself was that I don’t really care what he thinks of me or my skill set. This job is temporary, he is temporary in my life because I saw a part of me handle his negativity with humor and a sense of whole being from my heart and I am changed. I am here to do a specific job and do it well and then move on. He’s stuck, I’m not. “Don’t be afraid” truly is my sword and shield. I truly believe that by my concentrating on what I want this year to mean for me the universe is supporting my endeavors.

Here are a few ideas that could help you get started on not being afraid:

Imagine your superhero self: Do you ever fantasize about what you would look like, sounds like and behave like if you weren’t afraid? Take out the fantasy from your mind and spirit and put it out there in reality. It will feel funny and uncomfortable at first but the more you try to see yourself as unafraid the more unafraid you will become.

Make fear your friend: Every time I give in to a fear that holds me back from experiencing a more meaningful life I hate myself for it. I find that I retreat deeper into a self protective shell and I never prove my bravery by letting fear hold me back. I decided that if I believe in teaching my children not be afraid of what life hands to them then I had better start being an example of overcoming the fears that I face in my life. The energy generated around facing a fear can be used to empower the actions necessary to jump into the fearful situation and make a success out of the experience.

Don’t procrastinate: If you find yourself in a confrontational situation and know for sure that you are afraid to deal with situations like that then that is all the more reason to deal with it right then and there. Sure you might not say or behave exactly fearless or supreme but the fact that you faced the fear and got through it is the beginning of more and more confidence to handle this and other fearful situations the next time it comes along. Don’t put off the life moments that are calling you to be in it. Face it, deal with it, move on from it. Procrastination breeds  fear. Bravery and courage breed confidence.

Choose your weapon: How do you want to arm yourself when confronted with fear? Do you want bible verses, do you want physical strength, do you want moral support, do you want an awesome wardrobe, do you want small experiences to help you build on toward the more challenging experiences? You get to decide how you arm yourself when facing fearful situations. Remember to practice with these weapons of choice and believe that all of your efforts are for a peaceful and purposeful outcome. Life is not meant to be run away from. We won’t learn anything if we run away. Meet life where it stands and arm yourself to be the best of yourself.

Stay in the light: Darkness of any kind whether it be darkness (lack) of education or darkness of faith or true darkness as the absence of light can be scary and make us feel unsure and fearful. Learn all you can about the fears you are wanting to deal with. Keep a light on in some form if true darkness zaps your moral courage. Know that you can always do something to help aid in your quest to not be afraid.

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” C. JoyBell C.

Call to Action

What are the signs you are not ready to read?

How can you pay more attention to intention?

Where do you want to change something in your life but are too afraid to do so?

When is the right time to face your fears and challenge your courage?