Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ramble

I've started and stopped so many posts.  My brain is full of thoughts I'd like to articulate here but cannot find the words.  Or rather the perfect words ...and that stops me cold in my tracks.

So today we're getting a ramble - a free flowing mixup of what I'm trying to say with hopes that it can undo some of the blockages in my head.  In advance, bear with me or just skip this one!

I've got an insatiable desire to understand human motivation.  What drives people - if you can understand that, I think problems can be avoided or solved.  As a kid, I often processed the math problem from back to front.  I guess it's the same thing here - start with the answer "the end goal" and work your way forward to the solution.

It's like a knot in my head that i desperately want to detangle.  I guess it started with my career shift.  Having worked in finance my entire life, motivation was somewhat easy - money.  It motivated everyone.  It motivated the deals that were made (how probable was getting 3x with the least amount of work and the least amount of time) and it motivated employee relations.  It was always money - job well done - better bonus.  Think you're doing more than your share - negotiate for a raise.  It was the language we all spoke.  It was how people said thank you, good job, keep it up, stick with us.

When I walked away from the higher salary for a better life balance, I thought I knew what I was doing.  I never anticipated it would brew such a complex feelings for me.  On one hand, compensation is an easy, and universally accepted, way to measure professional value.  At least in finance.  There's an underlying understanding - money = worth.   But in other industries, the line is blurred.  Is a fantastic social worker, slaving her days away  in a rundown office of less worth than the accountant?   Of course not - but if we're not deriving value from more than a paycheck, the answer really is yes.  Is it on her/him to just be so self-aware that she can look beyond what our society thinks and say "I know what I do matters and that's all that counts."   Or, I'm happy regardless of my neighbor's big house and nice car.  I'm following my heart.

I guess part of my examination should include my own relationship to money - what do I really think it means and why?  For a long time, I sat in the comfort of my luxurious office with every perk imaginable and thought - I don't need this.   But is that true?   I'm not saying it is or it isn't....I'm just asking myself the harder questions.   More later.....


Friday, June 5, 2015

What if this is true?

If you believed these words from Martin Luther King Jr. would you live differently?

“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Evangelical

I once heard Anthony Bourdain say that when he finds something he loves, he becomes evangelic and needs to tell everyone he knows.  I can relate!   I've been listening to some amazing TED talks and Podcasts these days and thought I'd share.  Happy Listening!

Pamela Ronald: The Case for Engineering our Food.  TED talk
Esther Perel: The Secret to Desire in Long Term Relationships.  TED talk
Longform interview with Cheryl Strayed.  Podcast


Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday thoughts....

I'm not able to get to this space as much as I used to be - but it's never far from my mind.  I have so many concepts I want to explore and things I want to share.  Right now, I don't have the bandwidth I need to fully dive in, but I'm still here in both body and spirit and will just do the best I can, when I can.

As you've probably gathered about me, I'm a seeker.  I constantly am looking for ways to improve - improve my skillsets, my happiness, my relationships, etc.  That seeking has served me at times, and I'm grateful for my inner drive for improvement and has also frustrated me as I often have a hard time being fully present and still - not anticipating the next possible obstacle or area in need of improvement.

Perhaps that's why this post from Elizabeth Gilbert rang so true.   I will leave you all with it as we wrap up to enjoy the long weekend.   Enjoy!

"Richard knew that I had a lot of trouble processing failure — my own failures, other people's failures, the failure of life to turn out sometimes the way you want it to. He always tried to work with me on that issue. Richard knew why failure was so hard for me, too — it's because I'm a ceaseless striver. It's because I have unreasonable expectations for myself, for others, and for life itself. It's because I think life is some kind of code that we should be able to crack — and I mistakenly believe that if I do crack the code of life, then there will be no more suffering or confusion or strife (for me, or for anyone around me). It's because I'm somebody who STILL labors under the delusion that there is always a right way to do things, and that I should always be able find that right way to do things...and also: I should always be able fix everything and control the outcome of everything — if only I work a little harder, and learn from my mistakes, and try a little more!
It's madness. But God knows, I try.
But controlling the outcome of everything is impossible. It's just as impossible as fixing everything...which is just as impossible as always being able to handle your own weirdness...which is just as impossible as always knowing how to cope with the holy sacred madness of other people...which is just as crazy as the idea that there is one right way to do things — or that we are MEANT to know how to do everything right, or that the word "right" even means anything...which is just as crazy as thinking that you were ever appointed manager of the whole freaking carnivals in the first place.
But I still try. I never fail to try to never fail.
So when I do fail — or perceive that I have failed — it cuts me deeply.
RIchard used to say that I walked through life with a giant letter "F'" stitched to my chest, in memory of all my failures. He called it my "Red Badge of Shame". He used to say that, unless I learned how to stop carrying that shame-badge around everywhere, I would make myself sick, and I would ruin the beautiful gift of my life...and wouldn't that be a pity and a waste?
He used to tell me all the time: "Let it go."
Now, there are some people who say, "Hey, just let it go!" and you want to slap them, because they say it so lightly. They say "Let it go" as if this act is simple — perhaps even fun. But whenever Richard said to me, "Let it go, Groceries," I only ever wanted to weep in beautiful surrender.
Because this was a man who really understood what "Let it go" means.
This was a man who'd had to learn how to "let go" of decades of the mistakes and disasters that come from having been a drug addict and alcoholic. This was a man who had to let bankruptcies go. This was a man who'd had to let his history of arrests go. This was a man who had to let go of all the times he'd betrayed people, or lied to them in order to feed his addictions. This was a man who had to let go a long string of wrecked relationships. This was a man who had to let go of the sad fact that he hadn't been a responsible father to his boys when they were young — and that, no matter how close they all were now, he could never get those lost years back.
This was a man who'd failed so big-time that after a while there was no place left to put all his failures, nowhere to hide from them, no possible way to fix them, no vessel big enough to contain them...and finally he had no recourse left but to hand it all over to God. As he explained to me, "It was either that, or die of shame."
And when Richard finally did let it all go — whoosh! — the universe indeed came rushing in, and yes, filled him with more love and light than he could contain. Luckily, some of that extra love and light spilled out onto me. Which made him one of the most life-changing and holy people I've ever met.
Richard understood that the only place you can safely release an infinite amount of sorrow and shame is out into the infinite source of creation itself. Only the infinite can absorb the infinite, after all."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Words : Perfection

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”  - Brene Brown

"The key to balance is being unafraid of the fall.  Falling (in yoga or life) is simply learning without attachment to perfection." - Kathryn Budig

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Article Club - May

Tonight we'll be discussing David Brook's Moral Bucket List. A great read if you have not already come across it.

My takeaways: "Character is built on a confrontation with your own weaknesses." 
In one of my very favorite yoga classes,  the teacher asked us to say thank you to our flaws - thank you my sadness, thank you my anger, thank you my hiding, thank you my secrets.... By doing this, by acknowledging, not repelling, our weakness - we can hold it and release it. How many times do we see a person overcompensate... they hide their lack of true confidence by boasting. They wish away their anger with passive aggressive criticism. Never really accepting and owning their weakness and therefore never learning the real tools to manage it.

"Their lives often follow a pattern of defeat, recognition, redemption. They have moments of pain and suffering. But they turn those moments into occasions of radical self-understanding — by keeping a journal or making art. As Paul Tillich put it, suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were.   .....The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be"

 I stopped subscribing to the "how to be happy" club a few years ago. I've learned that happiness is fleeting. That's not to say I don't experience moments of true happiness. Times when my body feels light and my thoughts are free of worry and angst. But those moments are temporary. As are the moments of sadness, frustration, doubt. It's all temporary - they come and they go as the wind, a wave, a season. It's all passing; constant fluidity. Instead of the fruitless search for "happiness" - I search for ways to balance my sad days and revel in my good ones. Year after year, I try to be more calm than I was, approach difficult situations with more maturity, embrace good moments with presence. I don't always succeed but I am proud that my trajectory seems to be toward improvement.

We'll have pizza and wine, too.  And the night will hopefully be another success.  A moment of connection, shared wisdom and joy. 




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gratitude

I sit here, coffee in hand, from my sunny suburban town.  I dropped J off at school - Note: for a boy who cried on his first days in January he now RUNS up the stairs, says hi to his friends and digs right into whatever activity is going on.  I love dropping him off and chatting with the teacher - but also love that there is no separation anxiety whatsoever and that baby boy is happy as a clam to be solo for a few hours.

After that, I was able to do a few errands and pop myself into the library for some focused work hours.  Perhaps it doesn't sound like much to many, but to me - this is it!  I have longed for this day for so long --- To do good high-level work, but have flexibility and independence so that I can balance it with the rest of my life.   Sitting in dreadful rush hour traffic for 15 - 20 hours a week (!) was maddeningly inefficient and was slowly sucking the life out of me.

The insistence to continually improve, grow, adapt, change is pivotal to a life well lived.