Perhaps The Greatest Gift You’ll Ever Give Yourself

Perhaps The Greatest Gift You’ll Ever Give Yourself

“Dad, there’s something wrong with the lights.”

My daughter came to me in a panic. The bathroom lights suddenly shut off. Couldn’t turn them back on either. After some investigating, apparently the wind driven rain was getting into one of the plugs on the Christmas lights outside causing the GFCI to engage. 

GFCI is a Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor used primarily in wet areas in and around the home. You probably have these in your home, too. Should any moisture be detected within the electrical outlet the GFCI responds in 1/40th of a second and disables the outlet immediately preventing any damage from being done.

Once we fixed the problem outside I hit the reset on the GFCI and the bathroom lights went back on.

The whole key to the GFCI is awareness. Once it knows of the potential danger involved it’s able to prevent a potential catastrophe.

I wish I had one of those in my mind. An emotional circuit breaker which could sense any negative and disempowering thoughts I may have and disable them before doing any damage.

How life changing would that be?

Our thoughts and words are powerful. Often when we are triggered by outside forces we can habitually react in ways which harm us, either by what we may say to others, or equally as important, by what we may say to ourselves. Specifically, it’s the negative self talk and those habitual responses reinforcing limiting beliefs which damage us more than we realize. 

But how do we train ourselves to respond differently?

It all starts with self-awareness.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve never been very good at self-awareness.

With no emotional safety valve in place, challenging situations were always allowed to run their course. For better or worse. And it was usually for the worse. I didn’t know I had the choice to respond any differently than I always had. I just automatically harshly reacted to the difficult and uncomfortable events in my life which simply perpetuated more of what I’ve always done.

My lack of self-awareness meant nothing would change. I wasn’t even aware there was anything to change.

At some point on my life’s path I had heard about the concept of being an observer of your life. Sort of like stepping outside of your physical self and just noticing what life really looked and sounded like. Without judging what was noticed. Just observing.

Eventually, and with very low expectations, I gave it a try. Mostly out of curiosity. As I stepped outside of me I began to notice how I would habitually respond to what showed up in my life. Especially the difficulties. I remember what I saw. The anger and the frustration. The intense bitterness of disappointment. Even, at times, a tendency to blame. Maybe I actually was what people had told me I was. As I was able to develop some sense of self-awareness, the real challenge for me was doing so while not judging or punishing myself for the things I discovered I didn’t like about myself.

We all have the ability to be cruel and unforgiving towards our self, don’t we? I was quite good at that.

Noticing how I was judging and treating myself, though, was in itself an extension of my own self-awareness. I was now aware of my habitual responses and also aware of how I felt about myself for having such responses.

We can only hope to fix the things we know are broken. In my lack of self-awareness world, I was never the one who was broken. But at some point I realized that, in fact, I was, and a more self-aware version of me has done a great deal of work to address it. There is still more work to be done. But subtle changes have lead to anything but subtle positive results.

Simply put, self-awareness has made me better at being me…kinder, gentler, more compassionate, especially when dealing with myself.

Self-awareness has become a vitally important part of who I am these days. It’s become my emotional GFCI allowing me to observe what is going on within me, enabling me to disable and negate the reactions and responses which no longer serve me and replace them with ones which do. I may not respond in 1/40th of a second, but being able to monitor my own emotional state has allowed me to better deal with challenging situations I often find myself in.

What about you? When life squeezes you just a little too tight, how do you habitually respond? Have you ever taken the time to just step back and observe? To simply notice? 

It could be the greatest gift you’ll ever give to yourself.

It’s a great day to be you.

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”

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?

Losing My Yoga Virginity

Losing My Yoga Virginity

Sensing I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, she invited me to move my yoga mat closer to hers…

I don’t recall the names of the positions or poses. I do remember diving into something I knew nothing about and doing it anyway. Trusting and allowing, even after the yoga instructor repositioned me right in front of the class so I would be better able to follow along with her instructions.

Yoga!

How did I find myself in this situation? I actually took a day for me to do something for me. A self care kind of day. Taking time off for me isn’t something I can often do. Maybe if I was a better organized person or if I wasn’t so good at making excuses, maybe then I would have found the time to do something like this sooner.

My day was spent at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health which on the surface doesn’t Continue reading “Losing My Yoga Virginity”