#3 Be Introspective

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#3

Be Introspective

Perhaps the single most important aspect of personal growth and development – the cornerstone of authentic happiness – is the ability to be introspective. The willingness to observe one’s own emotional and mental processes demonstrates courage in many cases… sometimes, there’s a lot going on in that brain.

The 5 W’s

When making the effort to look within, it’s important to be curious – not judgmental – about the five W’s… Who? What? When? Where? And Why? It goes like this:

Who is triggering me?

What was the behavior?
When did it happen?

Where were we?

Why is it a trigger?

Or

Who are the people of my tribe?

What do I like the most about them?

When do I feel the most supported?

Where do I feel it [in my body]?

Why is it important to me?

You may not ask the same questions about each and every situation. Sometimes, you also want to ask How? How much control do I truly have?

Self Awareness

Introspection develops self-awareness and self-awareness is necessary for growth and development in both your behavior and in your spirit. As we ask questions and seek awareness, it’s important to be an observer, not a judge. If you discover something that you don’t like, ask more questions about how you might change it and take action.

If you get stuck, ask for professional assistance. Sometimes an objective fresh perspective is all that is standing in the way of discovery.

If you’re looking for more joy, for better relationships, and for increased self-awareness, start with the effort to …

Be introspective.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#340 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#340

Turning should into could.

From the moment we become aware, rules guide us. We learn about standards, values, and expectations before we learn to talk. These elements become the list of ‘should’s in our life.

I should make my bed every morning

I should eat breakfast

I should finish my dinner

I should do my homework

I should be nice

Etc.

These should’s establish the base from which our life is guided and some of them are quite central to ‘who’ we are.

The problem with should’s is that many of them fail to make sense outside of the environment in which they were originally established but we continue to hold on to them.

One of my favorite stories is of a woman who began preparing dinner one morning while her mother – who was visiting – sat in the kitchen to keep her company. The woman was readying a large roast for the crock pot. She cut a healthy slice from each end, threw them away and placed the roast in the pot. Her mother, looking wide-eyed questioned the action “why would you throw away perfectly good meat?” The woman, looking perplexed at the inquiry explained “that’s what you always did…”. With a stout laugh, the mother quickly responded, “but honey – that’s because my pot was too small.”

This story exemplifies the all-too-familiar behavior that many of us are affected by from day to day.

By the time we are adults in our own homes, raising children, working jobs, and trying to maintain our relationships – the list of ‘should’s’ is longer than the day is long. We are striving to meet demands and expectations which have piled up through the years, without questioning their validity for this period of our lives, this day, or this hour.

Of course, we all have responsibilities and obligations that are important to us and we want to accomplish them. However, instead of commanding yourself to do something because you SHOULD…. First examine where it is coming from.

Are you taking down the curtains and washing them because it is important to YOU? Or is it something your mother did because she lived on a dirt road and the windows were open all spring?

Are you making a casserole for your sick neighbor after work today because that’s what the other gals who are at-home moms did? Or because you want to help your friend?

Are you saying no to lunch with a friend because you ‘should’ stay home and get the laundry done?

Rephrase your ‘should’ to ‘COULD’.

I should do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

I COULD do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

When you rephrase the thought with COULD… does it have the same pull?

When you use the word COULD – your brain understands it as if you are CHOOSING something rather than engaging in a behavior which is expected.

The psychological difference is dynamic. You’ve created CHOICE in your life instead of an expectation that is not authentic to you just by …

Turning should to could.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#344 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

I”m sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#344

Educate yourself

The expectation of education is motivated from a very early age. In several cultures the idea of education includes post secondary instruction without question and many of us are groomed to attend trade school, Community colleges, or Universities before we are fully able to comprehend the extent of that commitment.

Our pursuit of knowledge is primarily vocation driven; we learn what we need to know in order to produce the income that sustains our lifestyle. Some of us expand our competencies in the pursuit of secondary incomes or hobbies. We amplify that expertise over time so that our proficiency is deeply rooted but perhaps not especially broad.

And yet in reality, the entire world is a classroom. Indeed, our very lives are a continuous curriculum of material offering educational content. Each failure, each joy, undeniably – each day – brings us information that we can attribute as educational and learn from if we choose.

Perhaps it is this education – this kind of learning – that proves to be the ultimate training. While acquiring ‘data’ or ‘information’ allows us to answer trivia questions and fix things around the house, I contest that it is far less meaningful than what we achieve if we ‘learn’ about ourselves and the world around us.

Yes, academic education has value and its continuous pursuit is desirable; do as much as you can regardless of your age or position. The public can utilize most college libraries for little to no cost; offering motivated learners unlimited opportunities and the internet can perhaps match that offering.

Self knowledge is just as accessible with introspection, mindfulness, and reflection.  Read books on emotional development, emotional intelligence, communication, relationships, and spirituality. Be curious – about everything and stay open to new ideas. Take advantage of wisdom where you can find it; older relatives, friends, counselors, & clergy. Don’t let teachable moments slip away unnoticed or unappreciated. Use them to…

Educate yourself

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

A Letter to Myself Series – Age 20

Second in the series A Letter to Myself

Sit back for just a moment and think of the growth that happens in the time that spans the second decade of life. The change between a ten and a twenty-year-old is amazing. It is in this decade that we learn independence and crave autonomy. As we leave our childhood behind, we experience puberty and explore sexuality. We physically turn into adults and obtain the privileges to drive, vote, and fight for our country. We may learn about love and loss for the first time. It’s a time for exploration and challenge.

In my life, everything changed during that decade. My parents split, I moved across the country and went to five different high schools. I took on a ton of responsibility as my parents lost and then found themselves again in different partners. I became the one everyone could depend on and didn’t buck the system until very late in the decade and then I made up for lost time. I experimented with everything that was on the naughty list. I started school but didn’t take it seriously.

By the age of twenty I was living on my own and self-supportive. My family had moved out of the area and so I surrounded myself with friends who became what I called my family of choice. Not all of my decisions were good and there were some f***ed up days coming, so if there is ever a time I can do it over again – this is what I want that girl to know.

Hey you,

Wow. Look at you. You did it. You made it through all those changes and faced the challenges of being a teenager all at once! I know you didn’t want to, I know it was hard, I know you struggled but you did it. You could have let a few more people help… you didn’t have to do so much of it by yourself. In the future – being stubborn isn’t going to offer you the easiest option. Life is better when you let people in, when you let them help.

So, your family looks a little different huh? Yeah, it gets bigger and a little more convoluted but you end up depending on each other a lot. You’ve got a great foundation to build on and the family values that you have gathered will be reinforced over and over again by most everyone. You are going to need those people! Good job on noticing how much they mean to you.

I want to encourage you to get better about finishing things. It would be great if you could finish college now even though everything turns out ok, it’s harder – much harder when you do it later. Most importantly… without that degree, you end up thinking that you don’t have as many choices and ‘that’ moves you in directions that end in pain. You work it out but… if you finish school now it will make things easier for you. And that stone sculpture that you never completed… you will shake your head over that for years! It will make a great door stop – just do it!

I know you’ve struggled in the boy arena. It’s not them… it’s YOU. You are OK, just like you are and when you finally figure that out – it will be everything you think it should be. I know adults tell you this all the time… they say it because it’s true – when you are happy with yourself, the ‘beautiful’ in you is visible to everyone. You are not fat! Your body is fine and the best thing you can do is to learn acceptance of it.

Adults are not saying these things to make you feel better (well, maybe a little) … they say them because they are TRUE!

You fall in love. Yup! There is a man out there who will love you as much as any Prince Charming. I’ll keep the suspense up and not go into many details but just know that he is on your horizon.

You will have a baby and he will grow your heart so much that you think it is going to burst. Yes, sorry to spoil the surprise – your first child will be a boy, just like you’ve always wanted. Just watching him sleep will bring you more joy than you knew was possible and when his little hand reaches for yours… well, your heart is just never the same.

The next few years are going to be some of the best and some of the worst that you can imagine. I’m not trying to scare you – it’s all going to be OK but you need to know that everything that has happened before now… it is preparing you. It has taught you to persevere, to keep going. You’ll need that but know that I am here too… your older self. You make it through – really… I am here on the other side as evidence. Just keep remembering that everything fits together at some point. Life is worth it, so don’t give up!

Believe it or not… the best is yet to come.

With love and support,

Me

 

If you liked what you read just now, please SHARE it with friends and family by using one of the buttons below (Facebook, Twitter, Email & LinkedIn) and know that I am grateful for your effort.

Also, I love to connect with my readers. Feel free to comment, follow my blog, or connect with me on social media.

LA Bound – Tale #1

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve been home from that amazing road trip now for about forty-eight hours and it feels almost surreal.  If you follow me on Facebook where we shared a variety of our experiences, then you know how large of an adventure it truly was – if not… check it out – all of our check-ins are public posts. So, in my last post – seven days ago – I danced around the idea that Erin and I wouldn’t get along for a whole week. I said that I may write and in fact, I had a list of topics that I intended to write about as well as a shorter list of task items that I thought I would make time for as I sat in the passenger seat with my laptop but… none of it happened!

I hope you’ll bear with me as I take the time to honor the highlights of our trip. I am certainly not a travel blogger but I will attempt to entice you to schedule your own adventure!

If you ever get a chance to do a road trip with an adult child or even a parent – I say “Do it!”. With the small exception of stress about weather or traffic – it was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve had in a couple of years. There were no expectations, responsibilities, judgments, or arguments. Well – that’s not entirely correct… twice, we clashed on perspectives to the point that we were slightly annoyed with one another but hey… for mom and daughter, that’s bound to happen! Except for those two very short lived snappy moments, Erin and I enjoyed each other’s company immensely.

I suppose we did have expectations of how far to get on a certain day and for half the trip we had scheduled stops to see family who conveniently lived near places we were planning to spend the night but that was fun too. It was great planning on our part to make time for people we don’t get to see but every few years – if that. Not only was it great to catch up with loved ones, but it gave Erin and me an opportunity to diverge our conversations after having only one another to talk to for an extended period. It broke it up a bit. And of course, we made some of it about the food…

We had ribs in Memphis, barbecued brisket in Dallas, TexMex in Santa Fe, Energy shakes in Sedona, and avocado jalapeno burgers in Los Angeles. I’m going to give myself a week of light eating before I get on the scale to see what kind of pound damage I did but even then – I won’t chide myself… it was worth it! Each time, we opted for recommendations from friends (thanks, Margaret! The Memphis Ribs were phenomenal) or ratings and reviews from Yelp (an app that personal ratings on restaurants and activities). We tried to stay away from national chains and searched instead for local treats. It worked great except for our first try in Nashville… Erin picked out a place to get breakfast downtown and it looked adorable. I think it may even have been recommended to her. It was a fun and hip coffee shop with a full breakfast menu but it was counter order and table delivery. The problem was only that it was so crowded, that when our order was delivered – we were still standing, holding our place card and looking at the guy with the mindset of ‘ok… now what?’ We were a bit put off by the people working on a laptop – taking up a whole table and never offering to share the extra space so we could sit down and eat. We ended up taking our plates out to the patio which, on any ordinary day in Nashville would be fine but that day… it was only 31 degrees. We ate quickly before the yolk in our eggs could freeze – and left.

It was a gray day in Tennessee. I’m sure it is beautiful in the other three seasons but without the sun to highlight anything, the gray of the landscape was muted even more by the cloud cover and frankly… it was difficult to find enjoyment in the scenery. I did find the topography in Nashville amazing tough… the hill cutouts (where they made room for overpasses and highway) looked like stone walls versus the typical layers of sediment that we expect to see when the earth is exposed. I’m a bit of a geology nerd in the sense that I am captivated by different geology formations – not that I really know anything about the science and so it was amazing to look at. We saw the Grand Ole Opry and did a backstage tour. Nashville isn’t really ‘my thing’ and I know next to nothing about Country music but Erin loved it. We got to stand in ‘the circle’ on stage which I recognized from American Idol or some other talent reality show and it was fun to know that people like Elvis had stood on that same strip of wood. I could definitely feel the vibe of extreme creativity and talent. In Memphis, we walked Beale street for a few minutes but the wind was whipping off of the Mississippi and biting our exposed skin – we had NOT planned for such intense winter weather on our Southern drive.

We spent that second night with family just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. They are the parents of my sister-in-law and we hadn’t seen them in a long while but after spending a week with them during a beach vacation a few years ago, we knew we would have fun and be comfortable.  I had a moment that evening as I watched my daughter engage in conversation with other adults and noticed how absorbed she was in the discussion, contributing in a meaningful way. It’s not that it was a surprise. She is quite intelligent and one of the things that made her a good server and bartender is that she pulls people in… she’s interested and converses well. And as I observed, I recalled something my mother once said to me. She looked at me one day and spoke of how amazed she was at the woman I had become, at how much information I had acquired and how I shared it – or something to that effect but I got it now.  Here, I was the mother observing a daughter who had transformed from a girl to a teen and now to this young woman who demonstrated influence far beyond the perimeter of what I had created. I instantly connected to those words my own mother spoke so many years prior and understood. It was a moment and there is a sense of amazement in it… again – it’s not a surprise but an awe… a revelation or an acknowledgment of life’s flow. It was quasi-emotional and I felt proud.

We woke up to a dusting of snow, which meant that the school system and many employers had called off the day. Blessings for us since there was practically nobody on the road as we headed for Texas. It didn’t warm up much. We found an authentic BBQ restaurant in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas where the Brisket melted in your mouth. I pretty much ate with my hands… pulling apart little pieces and dipping them in yummy barbecue sauce. In fact – I was simply piggy about it but I enjoyed ever delicious bit and… I had blue cheese cole slaw – a new favorite combination that I will definitely make at home! The Arts District look amazingly cute and enticing to walk through but alas… it was COLD. In fact – it was snowing as we exited the restaurant. People were standing in doorways taking pictures of the snowflakes as they settled on the ground and Erin and I giggled at them for being so easily taken in by a frozen rain drop. I made a mental note to go back to Dallas in the spring and wander around those streets.

To be continued….

 

If you liked what you read just now, please SHARE it with friends and family by using one of the buttons below (Facebook, Twitter, Email & LinkedIn) and know that I am grateful for your effort.

Also, I love to connect with my readers. Feel free to comment, follow my blog, or connect with me on social media.

The Value of Introspection

“Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.”  — Margaret Fuller

Yesterday, I finished the story of my life – the memoir I wrote by posting a segment every day for 90 days. I truly didn’t start out to write the entire story all at once. I created this blog with the intent of daring to share how I became me… perhaps it was naïve to think that I could do that without telling the whole story but it just didn’t occur to me that in the course of doing this that I would end up with a book. Yup… if I delete the superfluous stuff that isn’t really a part of my personal story – there are just over 80,000 words that I can convert into a book.

Life is too funny really. This time last year my brother and his family were visiting for the holiday’s and I was just chatting with my sister-in-law. We were gabbing about goals for the upcoming year and I had a book on my mind. It definitely wasn’t THIS one… I have another idea for a motivational book but I never started it although I am inspired now! So… I didn’t do that book but I did write. To be honest, I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking with it long enough to get it written but it’s not over. Even though there are a number of people who read every day – getting a book into print is a whole other story. I’m going to set it up to publish electronically first and prepare a manuscript. I’ll need some copy editors (hint, hint – hit me up if you are interested in doing that for me). And then – the Universe has to help. I can see it – I imagine it in my hand and if I am truly honest… I can imagine myself sitting at a book signing.

So there is a true conflict in my mind between being humble and modest about this accomplishment and being bold and inspired enough to imagine it being BIG…  Since I am such a big believer in the Law of Attraction – I am led to imagine it – to talk about it as if it is already so… to be so sure that it is – has already – become everything it can be. I am encouraged by my friends and family … the ones who read daily and compliment me. This week, someone said, “I didn’t know you could write.”

Well, me either. I knew I wanted to. I developed a strong skill while in grad school but those were academic papers. One of my professors was kind and when we eventually met – he told me how much he had wanted to meet the woman behind my papers. I thought he was just being nice. And then I started receiving compliments from people who love me. Thanks, guys. I love the way you motivate me. What I really need is someone from the publishing industry who thinks the way you all do. I am going to imagine that too. : )

 

So… I am going to keep writing – I love doing it and I’ve found that it is a wonderful way for me to relax at the end of each day. My thoughts when I first started were to focus on growth – on the way that we move through the world and why. I teach people to be introspective and I believe that everything is easier when we can understand. I believe I demonstrated that a lot in my story so here – I will continue to do it. I will use experiences from my life and from others to demonstrate how introspection leads to growth. I hope to have more ‘discussions’ in the comment section; if you can relate or if you have a question – let me know!

 

One of the things that I wanted to make sure and talk about was the final result of all the ‘health’ problems I had while still married to ex-Hubby. If you read my story, you might remember that I had Labyrinthitis and then went to the emergency room a couple of times with bizarre symptoms that included a distinct feeling that I was going to die. I wore a heart monitor and had a series of tests that produced nothing.

During grad school as I was learning about stress disorders, I was rather dumbfounded to realize that those incidents were panic attacks. I had never suffered from anxiety so I didn’t have a clue and not one of those doctors had asked me what was happening in my life. I think that if they had, they may have diagnosed anxiety; but then again I would have had to come clean about everything that was happening.  It didn’t occur to me to tell them – I had no idea it was related. The piece that makes it obvious is that after I made a decision to get a divorce – all of the symptoms DISAPPEARED. Nothing. I realized all of this in retrospect but its importance was tremendous.

That anxiety was my body sending me messages. I was spending far too much time trying to be the person that Hubby wanted me to be instead of who I really am. I was being inauthentic – disingenuous. I didn’t understand how trying to please him was moving in such juxtaposition to my spirit. Certainly, I was not aware of this discrepancy. My body knew, though.

When people with anxiety are sitting in my office, one of the first things I do is attempt to identify the life situations that might not be in accord with the clients’ heart. It’s rarely obvious and takes a willingness to investigate things that may not be acceptable in your mind. If they were, we wouldn’t be anxious about it!

Anxiety is a fear related reaction. It is born of dread, worry, and threat. We have to figure out the primal fear. I was afraid that if I wasn’t ‘who’ Hubby wanted me to be then he would cheat on me or leave me. Rational thought was overridden by the fear. The fear itself wasn’t what created the anxiety, though – it was the way that I coped with the fear. I engaged in behavior that ‘he’ wanted… I did what made ‘him’ happy – not what made me comfortable or felt right to me. The fact that I was coping with fear in a way inconsistent with my spirit is what activated the anxiety.

When we look for answers, we have to look in the right place and we have to be honest. Sometimes, I think that is the hardest part. Occasionally, if we are honest it is like opening Pandora’s box. This honesty means this… leads to that… which is impossible. Clients sometimes tell me that if they were to do what they wanted then they wouldn’t be in their marriage – or family – or job and leaving would be disastrous. Hmmm. Maybe they are doing what they want then… sometimes we only get to choose between two lessor items.

I know a lot of people who live by ‘should’s’ in their life – people who suffer from anxiety. Many of them are expectations that are not genuine to personal spirit – personal desire. Where do they come from? If they are not YOUR should’s… why do you attempt to fulfill them? It’s not an easy question to answer but it’s definitely worth asking and identifying.

I baked Christmas cookies today, not because I ‘should’ – not because it is part of the traditional expectation of people who have their shit together – not because anyone will be waiting for them -but because I ‘could’. I did it because everything else is ready and I wanted the house to smell good and I hadn’t done it in years really. No expectations… just a desire to do something that fit well into my life – and it was good.