Thank You, Unselfish Veggies

Thank You, Unselfish Veggies

And that was it. The last cherry tomato had been picked and all of the weathered vines were now finally stripped bare. It was unusually late in the season to have a fresh tomato, but this year has been anything but usual.

As I walked back from the garden and into the kitchen I started thinking about that little just-picked tomato now nestled in my hand.

It’s entire journey was never about itself. From seed to harvest, it was never about ego or accomplishment. It simply grew fully into what it was created to become and gave itself away for the benefit of others, to feed and nourish and yet asking nothing in return.

Maybe the little tomato was trying to tell me something about life. That maybe I, too, should focus on my own growth, to become all I was created to become, not for ego or accomplishment, but for the benefit of others, to help feed and nourish their lives and asking for nothing in return.

The natural world has so many lessons to teach us.

What Are You Allowing Your Life To Become?

What Are You Allowing Your Life To Become?

I was THIS close.

Many years ago I found myself in position to do something rather unlikely. I was about to beat Russ Lavoie in a tennis match. Unlikely, because, well, I sucked at playing tennis. Russ didn’t suck at tennis. Russ was very good at tennis. He took lessons. He had a coach. He had great equipment. He even had the proper tennis clothing. But there I was, with a borrowed racket, an Aerosmith T-shirt, and a pair of Converse All-Stars, on the cusp of beating the best tennis player I knew.

But then I didn’t.

It started as us just lobbing the ball back and forth. Russ’ dad was there, a rather intense man, and he wanted to make it more meaningful. “Let’s make this a real match.” Right from the start I was outperforming Russ. I don’t even think I knew how to keep score in tennis. But Russ’ dad did, and boy did he enjoy reminding his son that the kid in the Converse All-Stars was getting the best of him. Sort of his way of motivating Russ. And demotivating me at the same time.

To say I was playing way over my head would be an understatement. With no training or coaching somehow I was holding my own and winning far more games than I though possible for me. I was actually up two sets to none, needing just one more set to win the match. As Russ’ dad would remind him he was getting beat by me, as in the me who should never be able to beat a trained and well-coached tennis player, it got me to thinking that maybe I really shouldn’t be able to do what I was doing after all. Maybe dad was right. And eventually I proved him to be so, dropping the last three sets of the match and saving Russ from certain parental humiliation. 

Yes, Russ beat me, but on some level I had actually beaten myself.

I thought of this experience when I was reviewing the past year of my life. It’s become a tradition of sorts in the weeks just before my birthday. I conduct a review of the past 12 months. The highlights as well as the lowlights. How did I spend my time? Intentionally or reactionary? Of the things I told myself I wanted to do during the year, what did I actually accomplish and what didn’t I get done?

Overall, it was a very good year of personal growth. But I always have a question for the items on the What Didn’t Get Done list. “Why not?” Why didn’t I get this done? Sometimes there are external factors involved. Sometimes in hindsight I realize I actually didn’t want to accomplish what I told myself I did. Sometimes, though, the painfully honest reason things didn’t get accomplished is I simply didn’t allow myself to.

We can set very specific goals with the absolute most perfect of intentions and develop and implement a consistent action plan to achieve them. But unless we allow ourselves to achieve them we never will.

In my mind, even though I was just a few points away from beating Russ, on some level I knew I wasn’t supposed to. The image and expectations I held for me was inconsistent with what I was accomplishing. At some point the inner voice always wins and we adjust our actions and behaviors accordingly. I told myself I wasn’t supposed to win. And I didn’t.

I found in this year’s annual review some of the things I didn’t accomplish were, in fact, because I didn’t allow myself to accomplish them. The person I would have been had I actually accomplished my goals was different from the person I accepted myself to be. Even with clarity of purpose and actionable intentions, I was unable to sustain the momentum needed to meet my objective. It wasn’t a lack of opportunity or tools or information which did me in. It never is. I wasn’t going to allow certain things to happen. 

I’ve become quite comfortable having uncomfortable conversations with myself. Those deep, honest, introspective conversations, free of judgment or blame. Because until I am willing to get to know the deepest me I will never be able to get to the places I know I tell myself I want to go. These conversations uncover the psychological and emotional roadblocks to me moving ever forward. They show me the self-imposed limitations, the walls and fences I’ve subconsciously built to keep myself tethered to what is and keeping me from what could be.

We will never become more than we are willing to allow ourselves to become.

In an unlimited world we all have our own degree of limitations. It doesn’t matter how they got there, what is important is acknowledging that they are actually there. Knowing you have accepted some level of limitation is often very uncomfortable. It requires a level of responsibility and accountability. Who readily accepts the blame that they aren’t where they could have possibly been in their lives?

Knowing you have accepted some level of limitation, though, is also very empowering. Because that’s the starting point to moving past them. If you don’t know you’re stuck, how will you ever unstuck yourself? How will you ever grow forward?

Most of the limits we have are silent, stealthily working behind the scenes keeping us aligned with who it is we tell ourselves we really are. They show up in our habits and behaviors, regulated by the expectations we have set for ourselves. It’s the reason why I’ve never kept off those last 10 pounds, or taken full advantage of certain opportunities I’ve had in my life. 

I never allowed myself to do so.

When you look at the highest vision of your life, what’s preventing you from being all that you envision your life could be? Is it the stuff outside of you or is there a little voice telling you that no matter how clear your vision is you’re simply never going to allow yourself to become it?

It’s not an easy conversation to have with yourself. But it’s the only way to move closer to becoming all you were created to become.

And I’m moving closer.

It’s a great day to be you.

photo credit: Aaron Clinard via Unsplash

Mona Lisa and the Defective Twinkies

Mona Lisa and the Defective Twinkies

All my life they’ve been perfect. Every single one of them. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the package and I saw something I had never seen before.

A defective Twinkie.

Yup.

It was still a Twinkie, but it was a bit misshaped, as if something happened during the baking process and wasn’t noticed by the quality control people. 

How did I know it was defective? Because I know what Twinkies are supposed to look like. I’ve been eating them all my life. This basis of comparison told me this one just wasn’t what it was supposed to be.

Flawed.

Comparison is a necessary component providing a standard by which all others will be judged. It works perfectly well for Twinkies. 

But not so much for humans.

Us humans tend to be surrounded by countless opportunities to compare ourselves to everyone around us, aren’t we? And what we see or think we see has the ability to impact us greatly if we decide to let it.

We are not Twinkies.

Each year over 400 million perfect Twinkies are produced, but there is and will only ever be just one of each of us. Since there is only one of us, each divinely unique, there can’t be another “perfect” version of us out there to compare ourselves to. With that, there is no legitimate basis of comparison between humans simply because another one of us could never exist. Each of us are a singular once-in-forever expression of our Creation. Defects and flaws, logically, can’t ever exist in a human since each of us are the original masterpiece, the one and the only you. There are no defects or flaws in da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” simply because there is only one Mona Lisa. Only one. 

Just like you.

Perfect exactly as you were created to be.

Sure, we all have things we’d like to improve about ourselves. I have quite the list of things I am working on. That doesn’t make us defective or flawed; it simply means we’re evolving and growing.

Growing more into who only we were created to become.

Perfectly.

My Mom Has A Message For You

My Mom Has A Message For You

With all the discomfort and uncertainty we’ve suddenly been thrust into, I wanted to share some words from the person who’s words have always been of great comfort to me.

My Mom.

Mom just turned 90 a few weeks ago. In 90 years she’s seen more than her share of challenges and painful obstacles that she’s been able to overcome. She was the second youngest of eight children born smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression. She’s been widowed now longer than she was married. She has experienced the unbearable loss of a son, has witnessed the loss of almost all of her siblings, as well as many close friends. She has survived countless numbers of economic downturns wondering how the bills will get paid and the family will be fed. But no matter the pain life has ever thrown at her, her refrain has always remained the same…

“This, too, shall pass.”

The older I get the more I understand and appreciate her wisdom, faith, and resolve. Underneath it all is a rock solid spiritual belief system with gives her both the resolve to endure and the wisdom to trust that this, too, shall pass, that we will, in fact, get through whatever we may find ourselves stuck in. Her prayers aren’t prayers asking for strength; rather, they are prayers reminding God that while she may not understand why she is being tested, she understands that testing is all part of the process of being human.

If you were able to call my Mom today and share your fears, worries, troubles, and concerns with her, she would at some point embrace you and remind you of perhaps the greatest lesson she has ever learned in her 90 years…

“This, too, shall pass.”

photo credit: Chelsea Shapouri via Unsplash

Gaining Control In Time Of Crisis

Gaining Control In Time Of Crisis

So here we are.

When I mapped out my vision for 2020 it never included the words “global pandemic”. Life has an interesting way of throwing the unexpected at you, doesn’t it? And while we often can’t control what happens in life, we always get to control how we respond to what happens.

Including global pandemics.

While none of us knows the exact impact COVID-19 will ultimately have, there is one thing I do know for certain…

I need the very best version of me to show up. And at a time of vast uncertainty, the one certainty is I get to decide how I will respond.

And so do you.

In times of crisis and uncertainty some of the first things to change are structure and routine. With an unexpected upheaval we initially are trying to simply understand what just happened. Often we shift into a defensive posture, retreating and playing small until things get back to what we would consider to be normal.

For me, structure and routine are essential right now. Having structure and routine and the discipline to maintain them provides me with a sense of control at a time where so much is outside of my control. It creates a sense of stability, creates positive momentum, it changes my energy, and it empowers me emotionally.

There are several key areas of my life I habitually focus on, and they are especially important at this time. These areas are the ones I know need to remain structured if I Continue reading “Gaining Control In Time Of Crisis”

Thriving In A World Of Magnets & Boomerangs

Thriving In A World Of Magnets & Boomerangs

It actually came back!  

For no particular reason I recently purchased a boomerang. Not a bucket list item, just something that I thought would be fun to have. I went to a large open field behind the school and wanted to see if this thing would actually come back. And it did.

I don’t know the exact engineering behind the design, but their shape and the laws of physics worked together to return to the thrower what was sent out into the world.

Kind of how life works, isn’t it?

The energy we offer to the world will find its way back to the source. That source is us. It doesn’t matter what vibration or emotion we release, eventually it will find it’s way back home.

With the boomerang I knew exactly what I was throwing. I could see it in my hand. I was able to witness the entire cycle of the process, of me releasing and of me receiving. But Continue reading “Thriving In A World Of Magnets & Boomerangs”

Playing Big By Playing Small

Playing Big By Playing Small

New Year’s Day.

I’m invincible.

I’ve been fine tuning my resolutions. My intentions are confidently set and I’m ready.

“This year will be different” I confidently tell myself. “This is the year I stick to my resolutions.”

Because I usually don’t.

Maybe the best resolution is no resolutions at all.

I’m not quite sure why I have such a challenging time with resolutions. I know there are things I want to change and things I want to accomplish, and there are things I tell myself I no longer want to do. Yet within a few weeks the resolutions I enthusiastically and boldly ran into the new year with feel like work.

They never make it to February.

Change, even change we tell ourselves we really want, can often be quite difficult. We’re often undoing things that we’ve spent a lifetime doing. Change is always much easier Continue reading “Playing Big By Playing Small”

Sometimes You Just Have To Put Yourself First

Sometimes You Just Have To Put Yourself First

It’s one of the reasons I sometimes wish I never grew up.

Snow days.

I miss having snow days, those unexpected days off from school because Mother Nature dumped enough white stuff to close the schools. Even the anticipation the night before, watching the weather forecast intently hoping that come morning we’ll be getting that call telling us to stay home.

It’s too bad us adults don’t get snow days. We could all use an unexpected day off from being adults sometimes, can’t we?

Recently I treated myself to a snow day. An all-day meeting I had scheduled on a personal day off from work was cancelled. Because of snow. The responsible adult in me contemplated going into the office, but the kid in me saw this as an all-too-rare opportunity to honor the kid in me.

The kid won.

My unexpected free time lead to a very welcomed day of being unscheduled and somewhat invisible. How often does that happen to adults? Unscheduled and somewhat invisible is as awesome as it sounds. My adventure took me to some of my favorite places, long drives through yet-to-be-plowed roads with everything around me covered in a thick blanket of still-falling snow. My meandering took me to snow covered beaches, dramatically different than when I visit them in the summer yet equally as beautiful. Snow meets sand. Silence and solitude. It felt as if I were in a meditative state, observing and appreciating the world around me and the peace I felt within me. All I needed was some hot cocoa.

The little kid in me was quite happy.

Occasionally I would glance at my phone, but for the most part it was just me and the snow. Working with my team, any work responsibilities had already been delegated the day before in anticipation of me being out of the office. Home responsibilities had also already been covered and I was actually home an hour earlier than usual.

Juggling career and home and parental responsibilities leaves very little time for ourselves. There is always more to do. Always. And when we sometimes do find a few moments to ourselves we’re not quite sure what to do with them. Our default setting is that we should be doing something, and that something is almost never about doing something for ourselves.

I’ve become much more aware of my need to recharge me, to take better emotional care of me. There always is more to do, but I’ve learned to include and prioritize my own well-being on that list. The better I am at being me the better I am in all areas of my life.

Becoming invisible for a full day isn’t always an option. So I’ve actually been scheduling time for me to take care of me, blocking out even a few moments of time to just tend to me. Even if that means getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual. Meditate, stretch, exercise, read. Or simply doing nothing. It doesn’t matter what you do, what matters is that you do something for yourself.

Self care needs to be prioritized and scheduled, otherwise it simply won’t just happen. The world isn’t going to do this for you as the world often feels as if it’s conspiring to prevent you from such self-indulgence.

When was the last time you gave yourself some time just for you to recharge and reconnect with you?

Self care isn’t a luxury. It’s not self-indulgent. It’s not selfish. It’s a necessary component of your physical and emotional health and of you becoming the best version of you.

I think you deserve to be the best version of you.

Don’t you?

When You Change The Way You Look At Things…

When You Change The Way You Look At Things…

You’d probably like Jeff. He’s really cool. Multi-talented and creative, he is in the middle of a project he created for himself in which he takes a daily photograph of a light house not too far from his home.

As of today, he has posted his photos for 81 consecutive days on social media. He has a great eye for photo composition, which is critical if you’re committed to photographing the exact same subject for 365 days and hope to not become redundant.

I don’t know why he’s doing this, but I’m glad he is. It’s become something I look forward to daily.

His commitment to this project forces him to look at this one light house from many different vantage points. He is quite open to seeing this one subject from up high, down low, at sunrise, at sunset, through clouds or fog. There is not one “right” photograph of this light house. At year’s end, when his project is completed, Jeff will know this light house rather intimately.

When we can see something from several different angles, we gain a tremendous understanding of exactly what it is we are looking at.

This works well with light houses.

And with people, too.

Sometimes we only see in people what we’ve habitually always seen. Sometimes what we see is based in part on assumptions we’ve created or inherited. But when we are willing to explore and see people from unfamiliar perspectives we gain a much more complete understand of who is really in front of us. When we are able to understand more about people whose views of and experiences in the world may be different from our own we are in a much better position to create a more inclusive environment in which all can coexist and thrive.

Maybe there’s more to be seen in the people we habitually see?

There always is.

If you decide to look.

It’s a great day to be you!

The Art Of Working Against Yourself

The Art Of Working Against Yourself

Maggie and Watson never like to stay in the yard. Our two strong and high energy dogs love to run free chasing whatever they are chasing. Sometimes they are just running for the sake of running. In our fenceless neighborhood, the dogs have no idea where our yard ends and the neighbor’s yard begins. They see no limits or boundaries. They just run.

Recently, we looked into installing an invisible fence, for their protection and our neighbor’s peace of mind. The technology is quite impressive. We define the parameters of where the dogs are free to run, and to condition them where their boundaries are a small device on their collars emits an uncomfortable charge as they get closer to the limits of their space. In time, the conditioning helps Maggie & Watson know their limitations almost instinctively. They’ll know how far they can go.

Kind of like us humans.

And we don’t even need a collar.

The greatest thing standing between where we are and where we want to be in life are the limitations we set for ourselves. The limitations we’ve conditioned ourselves to accept as true. Through the course of our lives we’ve set our own boundaries for how much we are willing to allow to be possible for us. Much like that invisible fence prevents the dogs from running free, our thoughts, both consciously and unconsciously, tend to keep us in our own yard, a fixed space that keeps us exactly where we are.

Understanding your limitations often requires you to look at your life from a different perspective. I never knew I had limitations, simply because I never thought I had anything to do with why my life wasn’t where I had wanted it to be. Blame is far easier than acceptance. How could I be undermining my own growth and evolution? Why would I do that to myself? Yet when I was able to step back and observe and listen to the stories I was telling myself, I could actually see how I had unintentionally constructed my own invisible fence of limitation.

Those stories of lack and shortage and unworthiness become hard wired into our emotional DNA every time we speak them to ourselves. And like the invisible fence, our thoughts train us as to where we will allow ourselves to go in life. We may see exactly where we want to be yet we’ll never let ourselves get there. All because of the limiting stories we repeatedly and often unconsciously tell ourself.

I’ve felt the inner conflict between what I told myself I wanted and what I was willing to allow myself to receive. The same mind which could envision the future of my dreams was the same mind working to convince me I would never attain it. I knew what I wanted for me but I would always find ways to make sure it never materialized. Until I started listening I had no idea this limiting and conflicting dialog was actually taking place.

Recognizing this conflict was my starting point in changing the stories I was telling myself. Our subconscious doesn’t care what we think about who we are. It just reinforces what we tell it and always finds ways for us to remain exactly where we’ve told ourselves we belong, even if we don’t want to be there. Abundance or lack. Worthy or unworthy. Your story is your story and you’ll never out run it or out work it.

The good news is we can always change the stories we tell ourselves.

So, what about you? What are some of the stories you tell you about you? Do you see yourself worthy to receive the unlimited abundance which is all around you? Or does life feel stuck and you’ve accepted that what is will always be?

Listen to those voices in your head. Step outside of you and just listen to what you say to yourself, especially when life gets challenging. Self awareness is the critical first step in understanding where you actually are in your life, and once you understand where you are it’s much easier to get to where you really want to go.

If you want a different life you need to tell yourself the stories that will make such a life possible.

And it’s possible.

It’s a great day to be you!