The Seeds We Sow

 

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“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

 

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“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

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“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

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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?

5 Ways to Find your Piece of Peace

 

CAsunset

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” Dalai Lama XIV

The dictionary defines the word peace first by 3 definitions relating to war:

  • A state in which there is no war or fighting
  • An agreement to end a war
  • A period of time when there is no war or fighting

The rest of the definitions are:

  • A state of tranquility or quiet
  • Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
  • Harmony in personal relations

No matter how we each define peace at any particular time of our lives it seems that harmony and tranquility are the overarching states of mind, body and soul that we all look to achieve.

When you hear the word peace what images come to mind for you? If I were to create a vision board of peace these are the images I would include:

Blue sky, meditation, smiles everywhere, calm, soft music with a saxophone, walking on the beach, hot chocolate and a great book, candlelight dinners, hugs, hearts and flowers, and helpfulness. I’m absolutely sure I can come up with more to add to this list of peaceful visions but then this would get ridiculous.

For me, a piece of peace comes from cherished family moments and time spent with my children. I’m made more and more aware of this sense of peace now that the kids are living their own lives between working and going to college and being with their friends. They just are not home as much as they used to be.

Everything I knew about peace while the kids were home all the time included sports games, practice schedules, carpooling, community participation, time marked by seasons and school breaks; in essence the very much anticipated “routine” of raising a family. My personal piece of peace was in the doing and the busyness of a blessed life.

It was organized chaos and I thrived on the craziness of it. Now life has become unreliable and un-routine and un-peaceful for me because I find it hard to define my role as a parent. My routine and boundaries have been narrowed considerably now that the children are taking over their own lives. I can’t get lost in the management of the family anymore. However, there is a new piece of peace I have found and I found it in a very unlikely place; within me.

While being the very active, very attentive parent I was and while burying myself in my children and the running of the business of our family, I always put my needs and wants dead last and did not spend any time getting to know me as I was getting older alongside my children getting older. I paid way more attention to their changes and who they were becoming but not to my own changes. Time has been a friend and an enemy all along but I’m finding that it is for the children’s benefit now for me to become active and attentive and in search of my own needs and wants. I have a piece of peace within my own soul that I never expected to find simply by changing my mindset along with the changing of their lives. These personal peaceful steps that I take for my own well-being will help them become more empowered adults by watching me be empowered outside of my role as their mom 24/7. I want that for them. I want to be a good role model, still.

So now I get a piece of peace when the house is quiet and I can coach a client as if the entire house is my office. I get a piece of peace when my day transitions from work to home responsibilities like cooking dinner while I play my favorite music and dance around the kitchen. I get a piece of peace when everyone is home but doing their own thing to catch up on their life’s responsibilities and we come together at odd intervals  in passing in the hallway or at dinner time. I get a piece of peace having an adult conversation with these people who, just a few short years ago, were nowhere near adulthood. I can peacefully enjoy their growing up process from a new perspective.

I often hear how my clients wish they could know a peaceful existence 24/7 but truly, what fun would that be? We need the bad to remind us of the sweetness of good, we need the downs to make the ups so much brighter and we need the chaos to help us really understand peace.

Where do you find your piece of peace during your day or week or month?

Turns out there are so many things a person can do to create their own piece(s) of peace:

As best you can stop worrying. Worry zaps necessary energy from peaceful thinking and peaceful actions. Worry makes drama and negatives more important than smiling and solutions. When you find yourself worrying about anything, stop right in that moment and ask yourself, “How will my worry change the way this situation is going?” “When has my worrying ever created a positive outcome?” Then take a deep breath and let it go. Let go of the worry, trust that the universe is always spinning and changing and that what you think you know for sure at this most worrisome moment will not be like it is in another 15 minutes or 2 hours or one day.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Corrie ten Boom

Grab onto a piece of peace. What does your vision of peace look like, sound like, feel like, and taste like? Is it fear of the unknown that creates a feeling of having no peace? You can affect a more realistic outcome of peace if you first allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that come with living a life away from peace but then, when the storm of emotions calms down, come from a peaceful place within your heart and mind. Grab onto those resources within you that help you start to create a peaceful atmosphere. Get peaceful in just one area of your life right in the thick of things and you will be amazed at how regenerative and empowering it can be to let the fear come and then go.

“There is peace even in the storm” Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Give up control. As human beings we want to always have the answers, we want to always be the go-to person, and we want to call the shots. Well, I hate to break it to you but in most cases the only control we ever truly have is the control we summon over our perspective and attitude. By giving up control around worrisome situations we are acknowledging that we don’t know everything and this allows for curiosity to be born. How can this drama be looked at differently? What do you know for sure right now? What suggestions might be helpful, especially ones that you haven’t thought of on your own?

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” Viktor E. Frankl

Get going. Action is the most empowering of ways to combat the feeling of being out of control and being so far detached from peace. Take a walk to clear your head and to get those happy endorphins flowing. Meditate by doing deep breathing exercises or talking to God. Write in a journal to get the helpless feelings out or write a letter to the person or situation that is causing so much grief but don’t mail it. Clean the house or the garage or the car or the attic or the bathroom. This is my favorite “get going” exercise because tackling a room in the house that needs cleaning is an instant gratification boost; what was messy is not orderly and clean all in the same day plus it physically gets my body moving. Call a friend or clergy, a coach or your mom. Vent and release your worry to someone who can and wants to take the burden from you if only for a little while. My second favorite way to distance myself from worry and drama is to give to someone in need. I volunteer because I am always in the right place at the right time giving what I have to someone who will be most thankful for my existence. What is better than that to help create a sense of inner peace?

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ”William James

Be kind to yourself. For every awful, demeaning, self-loathing thought you have about your part in a worrisome situation, instantly think of its opposite. For example I thought I was a horrible mom for not equipping my boys to handle their life’s drama with more courage and a better sense of self. For every ugly thought I had about myself I would think of all the ways in which my boys still loved me, still relied on me, still listened to what I had to offer, and still get up each day to face the next thing. It took me a long time to realize that I am not responsible for the habits they each create. God created us to have free will and in that we make decisions that will have consequences, good and bad. I can only say and do the best I can. It is up to each person to act according to the information they receive and are exposed to.

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” Lao Tzu

Call to Action

What is one thing you can do right this minute to create a piece of peace for yourself?

Make a pact with yourself and decide:

If I feel myself start to worry then I will _____________________. Think of something that is calming and pleasant for you to experience. Having a game plan to immediately implement in times of high stress and worry helps your body be able to handle the chaotic moments with more resolve.

When do you notice yourself feeling stress, worry or not being at peace?

 

 

Always do your best (part 4)

friendsoriginal

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I think this quote is a great place to start the last of my blog series based on author Don Miguel Ruiz’ book The Four Agreements. Here are the agreements:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do your best

The idea is that if you are always trying to do your best then you are creating habits that keep you practicing being impeccable with your words, not taking anything personally and not making assumptions.

In order for your day to take shape, to live and to breathe you have to first wake up and then get out of bed. Everything you do once out of bed is up to you alone. You can decide with your very first step that today is going to be a better day than yesterday or an even better day than yesterday. You can decide that whatever challenges you faced yesterday will be met with more courage today.

Whatever you decide to do with your life minutes today give each one of them purpose and meaning and significance by being the change you want to see. EVERYTHING starts with you.

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

To look at my daughter you would never know that she struggles with having real, true, honest friendships in her life. Oh, she knows a lot of people and is always busy but true, trustworthy friendships, the kind that last a lifetime, are hard to come by. In my biased opinion she is life. She is always busy working at a job she likes that affords her the opportunity to meet new people and forge new acquaintances, she is attending classes at college that feed her imagination and desire to learn, she is going out with people during her personal time that she chooses to spend time with, and she volunteers her time to causes she feels connected to. Yet, through all of her activities and busyness she feels a sense of not belonging and at times a sense of loneliness.

I can’t imagine anyone having a hard time relating to this. There are times in our lives when we just feel like we are so disconnected from everyone and that we just can’t seem to find a place where we belong. When she starts to get down on herself for some unnamed flaw she thinks she has the only question I can ask her is, “are you doing your best today?”

What does your best look like?

Does your best look like smiling even when you don’t feel it? Does your best look like dropping all your to-do’s and helping a friend in need? Does your best look like getting take out for dinner so that you have more time to spend with the kids at night?

No matter what you are involved in during your day or week or month or life, always bring and do the best you can. No one, not even you, can ask more of you than your best and you will always walk away feeling good about yourself. Your legacy in every life moment is left behind in your wake when you give the best you can.

What if my best is not up to my standards because I’m not feeling like myself? That can happen at any time. Don Miguel Ruiz says,

“In your everyday moods your best can change from one moment to another, from one hour to the next, from one day to another. Your best will also change over time. Just do your best in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself harshly.”

How do you treat yourself, your work or your relationships?

This is an important question toward always doing your best because when you like yourself and treat yourself well you know the end result of what you want others to feel from you. Bringing your best self to your life moments means that you have the potential to bring out the best in someone else.

Here is Don Miguel,

“When you do your best you learn to accept yourself by learning from your mistakes and practicing toward increased awareness. Doing your best really doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy whatever you are doing. You do your best because you want to do it, not because you have to do it and not because you are trying to please anyone. You are taking action because you enjoy the action. It becomes about living fully.”

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

What are your core values, your character strengths?

When you are in the flow of a project or experience and lose track of time what actions are you taking that align with your values?

For me it is writing. I lose track of time and space when I am writing and reading and researching. I enjoy the discovery process and I enjoy what I am able to share with anyone who chooses to read what I’ve written. My values are enlisted when I am writing in such ways as authenticity; I never write what I myself am not interested in knowing more about, compassion; I always write about topics that I have experienced and want to share with others, and gratitude; I always write with gratitude for the life lessons I have learned or lessons I am still learning.

In the end Don Miguel says,

“The first three agreements will only work if you do your best. Your habits are too strong and firmly rooted in your mind.

  • Don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word.
  • Don’t expect that you will never take anything personally
  • Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption

But you can certainly, always, in all of these agreements, DO YOUR BEST.”

So the question is, how do we even get started on creating our best selves?

In the words of one of my favorite songs by the band Journey, “be good to yourself”. Only you can determine the many ways in which you can show love to yourself. For me, being good to myself shows up in cooking or baking or taking a time out to read in bed at night or writing.

In all things find a reason to say thank you. In the course of just one day whether the day overall was good or bad there is always at least one thing to be grateful for. I know my day was not a total waste when I can say a soulful thank you for something and connect with my own humility.

Ask for guidance. This guidance may come from a trusted friend or clergy, it may come from a beloved sibling or parent or it may simply come from the universe. The point is to ask. We don’t know all the answers so putting the questions out there may help us get clear on what to do next. Staying curious and open to new perspectives is one way to help create our best self.

Let go of expectations. Let go of your version of how something should turn out; let go of trying to control any outcome. See what happens when you do your best and the result is not what you expected. See what comes of a new experience or new perspective. What did you learn? How did you grow?

Mind your words. It matters very much the talking you do inside of your head and heart. Who do you love the most? Talk to yourself the way you talk to the one you love; hold yourself in the same love that you hold that special someone; believe in you the same way you wholeheartedly believe in the one you love.

Call to Action

Here is a different kind of call to action this week. I leave you with a prayer from Don Miguel Ruiz. Practice this prayer every day as often as you can until you believe in every single word:

“Thank you Creator of the universe, for the gift of life you have given me.

Thank you for giving me everything that I have ever truly needed.

Thank you for the opportunity to experience this beautiful body and this wonderful mind.

Thank you for living inside me with all your love, with your pure and boundless spirit, with your warm and radiant light.

Thank you for using my words, for using my eyes, for using my heart to share your love wherever I go.

I love you just the way you are, and because I am your creation, I love myself just the way I am.

Help me to keep the love and the peace in my heart and to make that love a new way of life, that I may live in love the rest of my life. Amen.”

 

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal-Freedom/dp/1878424319/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425307355&sr=1-1&keywords=the+4+agreements+by+don+miguel+ruiz

Jumping to Conclusions: 7 Steps toward Jumping in the Right Direction (part 3)

 

 

whichwayoriginal

“Inner guidance is heard like soft music in the night by those who have learned to listen.”
Vernon Howard

What is one habit we all have but rarely think of it as a habit?

It is the subject of the third personal agreement spoken about in the book, The 4 Agreements by author Don Miguel Ruiz.

Answer: Making assumptions.

Assumptions, what a funny word. What does it mean to assume other than the fact that it truly does make an ass of you and me when we do it?

Think of a time when you needed to hear back from someone and it took a long time to receive that call or note or email. Don’t lie, you jumped to an assumption or conclusion that the person you needed to hear from was blowing you off or not making your request important or just too busy for you. Were you right? In most cases there really is a good reason for not hearing back from someone you typically trust to be diligent with correspondence but as a species we tend to self-protect and so we assume the worst without evidence. Once we start down the road of thinking the worst of people it becomes a habit we can’t easily break.

Now think about a time when you needed to solve a problem or get through a difficult situation. If you are like me then you ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen here?” and try to prepare for that awful conclusion or work backwards toward a more pleasant outcome.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you are a negative person although to jump to that question first can make you feel negative. There is actually evidence now that shows that using this question when trying to solve a difficult problem is actually healthy and helpful. In their book, The Upside of Your Dark Side, authors Robert Biswas-Diener and Todd Kashdan, Ph.D. write:

“We believe—and new research supports—the idea that every emotion is useful. Even the ones we think of as negative, including the painful ones. We don’t suggest an extra helping of happiness or a dash of negativity; we suggest both. It is by appropriately flipping back and forth between these two states that you can achieve a balanced, stabilizing sense of wholeness. Simply put, people who are able to use the whole range of their natural psychological gifts—those folks who are comfortable with being both positive and negative, and can therefore draw from the full range of human emotions—are the healthiest and, often, the most successful.”

Even on the subject of happiness itself these authors have a lot to say when it comes to predicting or assuming what will make us happy or leave us feeling happy after an event or purchase:

“To put it succinctly, we humans are horrible at guessing how happy we will feel in the future, and yet we base important life decisions on these flawed predictions (assumptions). We purchase TVs, plan retirement, and say yes to dinner dates all because of an imperfect guess about how happy they will make us.”

In other words even if it can be proven that making assumptions could work in our favor it is fundamentally not to our advantage, yet we are practically raised to make it a part of who we are and how we function in the world.

The dictionary defines the word assume to mean:

  • To think something is true or probably true without knowing that it is true
  • To begin as a job or responsibility
  • To take or begin to have power or control in a job or situation. Someone assuming the role of a leader or care taker, etc.

It is this first definition that we all have as a habit. The question then becomes why do we assume anything without first knowing or understanding the facts? When do we stop fact finding and decide that what we know is enough to believe  we now know is truth?

The simple answer comes from the author himself of this third personal agreement that we all need to make within ourselves.

“Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.” Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Courage. That really sticks in my gut. I never really paid too much attention to how much courage it takes to ask questions, to be vulnerable with courage in order to get clarity on something. When I think about it specifically now I can relate it to my children and their performance in school throughout the years. There seems to be an aspect of pride involved with asking questions and assuming to know something without facts or truth.

I asked my son, “What stops you from having the courage to ask questions when you don’t understand something?” His answer, “Sometimes it is not that I don’t want to ask a question, I just either might not want to know the answer or don’t want to hear what someone has to say or I might just want to figure it out for myself.” In any of these answers courage and pride seem to be at its heart.

Why is there such a stigma to asking questions?

In his book, A More Beautiful Question, author, journalist and innovation expert Warren Berger finds that “even though children start out asking hundreds of questions a day, questioning falls off a cliff as kids enter formal school. In an education and business culture devised to reward rote answers over challenging inquiry, questioning isn’t encouraged and is in fact sometimes barely tolerated.”

Mr. Berger talks at length about how teachers are discouraged from promoting questions because the curriculum each teacher has to teach does not allow for free questioning and time to explore the minds of the curious child. Teaching to the test is all there is time for. In an environment like that, Mr. Berger says that children learn very quickly that if a “right” question is not asked and a “right” answer not given then it is best to just sit and listen and not get too involved in the education.

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Isaac Asimov

Author Warren Berger says,

“The Nobel laureate scientist Isidor Isaac Rabi came from a home where at least one parent encouraged the children to ask questions.” ”’ While other mothers asked their kids ‘did you learn anything today?’ my mother would say, ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’”

Scientist Hal Gregersen thinks parents can help their kids be more inquisitive by posing what if questions that help invite children to think deeply about the world around them.” Encourage kids to solve problems in a hands-on way through household tasks and chores. Most students have to do some work to resuscitate their childlike curiosity. The best way to do that is to start asking questions again, lots of them.”

In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz writes:

“We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe. This is why we make assumptions. These assumptions are made so fast and unconsciously most of the time because we have agreements within ourselves to communicate this way.”

So if questioning falls of a cliff at a time of life when it should be greatly and primarily encouraged as a natural human virtue and right, and if our society has accepted that we are raised to be rote, mechanical bodies that are supposed to just do as we are told, no questions asked then how can we ever break the cycle of a bad habit like assumption?

“Ask a question” says Don Miguel Ruiz. “Make sure your communication is clear. When you don’t understand something, ask a question, don’t assume an answer or a rejection of your question.”

In other words take action and create the habit of asking questions in every situation about everything.

“As far as you can, get into the habit of asking yourself in relation to any action taken by another: “What is his point of reference here?” But begin with yourself: examine yourself first.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

To break this down even further author, speaker Byron Katie asks us:

“Can you absolutely know that what you are believing is true?” For me the answer is no most of the time. Once I get to a no then pride steps aside and I have no choice but to keep questioning and seeking more truth.

Here are some other ideas to help break the habit of assuming:

Increase curiosity: Every situation that comes along in our lives has 2 sides to it. To increase inquisitiveness and curiosity ask the opposite question of the situation you are facing. We automatically go to what our habits have become. If you always think the worst of a situation then train your mind to start thinking the best of a situation and as crazy as it sounds, vice versa. Training your mind to see all sides increases curiosity and expands the brain waves of problem solving.

Stop the gossip: Most people gossip in the negative. They talk trash about other people in order to be the one “in the know” and get the spotlight. It is not a good spotlight to have shine on you if you are building a reputation of being someone that gossips. Talking about other people when the person is not around is just bad form. When a group is gathering for a meeting and there is that free time before everything gets underway don’t fall prey to the gossiping. Try to steer the conversation away from gossip by talking about something neutral like a new song or TV show or asking the opinion of the people gathered around you about a book you read or a trip you are hoping to take.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes: This is empathy. What would you want someone to do for you if they saw you were in trouble or sad or lost? Our moods can change as quick as a wink. Knowing that, we also know that we are not in the presence of one particular person 24/7 and that alone means that we don’t have all the facts. Don’t assume you know what the issue is. Be available to just listen if that person chooses to share with you or just offer your support whenever that person is able to talk more about the issue.

Get Pro-Active: Don’t continue to dwell on all the reasons why you think someone is in a bad mood or having a hard day. Offer to help by listening, brainstorming ways to solve the problem toward a more positive outcome, or being a trusted friend. If you are the one assuming something about your own situation then journaling about it might help. Getting all the feelings out on paper instead of out at a particular person will lessen the intensity of the initial feelings. Lesser hostility leads to greater resolution. Another idea is to distract yourself away from the assumption by listening to your favorite music, exercising, cooking or reading a favorite book.

Be clear: We very often assume that certain key people in our lives should just know what we mean or what we are saying without us having to go into too much detail. STOP. Most people have the attention span and listening capability of a 4th grader. Be clear, speak at a normal tone of voice and not too fast, be specific about your needs or wants or directions, remember that your thoughts and ideas are not the only thoughts and ideas that are swirling around at that moment, allow room for participation in problem solving and approach the situation the way you would want someone to approach it with you.

Be the tourist: When my son was living in Florida I used to encourage him to be the tourist. Look at your everyday as if you are new to the area or to the situation you are in. What would a tourist do? How would a tourist solve this problem? Tourists have a ton of positive juices flowing through them because they see things through new eyes. Their open-minded point of view allows for so many possibilities to open up.

Don’t jump to conclusions: Conclusions without support of truth is another way of assuming. If someone you work with or a friend has a sour look on his/her face, don’t jump to the conclusion that it is because of something you did or work related. Step back, be kind, use compassion and ask that person what is wrong. Even if you know for sure what the problem could be you don’t know for sure all the aspects of why something is wrong.

“You have to start with the truth. The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere. Because any decision-making that is based upon lies or ignorance can’t lead to a good conclusion.” Julian Assange

Call to Action

Where can you start breaking the habit of assuming?

In what ways can you make an internal agreement with yourself to always seek curiosity?

How can you encourage others around you to embrace and welcome curiosity?