Monday
Jul282014

Taming the lion

I recently had a dream that a lion was on the loose. I was on a golf course, sunbathing, and then, suddenly, a lion was running toward me. It was terrifying and I woke up with my heart racing.  

I realized almost immediately how ridiculous the dream had been. First of all, I haven't been on a golf course in years. And, secondly, I am a skin cancer-aware, forty-something mom of two children. My days of sunbathing have come and gone.

When I stop to think about it, my waking thoughts are, at times, just about as ridiculous as this dream.   

I fret about things that have no long term implications. (Waste of time!) I worry that I can't shield my children from life's trials and tribulations. (I can't and there's not much to be done about it.)  I also worry about things like traffic accidents, plane crashes, earthquakes, and cancer.   

None of these thoughts are productive and none of them will tame the lion, so to speak.    

When it comes to worries, here are some thoughts:

--take action on the things you can change and/or prepare for (earthquake kit, sunscreen, seat belts, etc.)

--give yourself a limit on worrying thoughts (5 minutes a day seems like a good amount)

--write about any nagging worries (putting them on paper can help you get them out of your mind) 

and most importantly,    

--take the time you could spend worrying doing things you enjoy.

A good way to calm a worrying mind? Live your life to the absolute fullest.

Sunday
Jul202014

How big is your brave?

"Show me how big your brave is." --Sara Bareilles

This lyric in the Sara Bareilles song "Brave" really gets me. Every time I hear it, I get a bit teary, actually. I think it's because I've always been willing to take some small level of risk in life but believe me when I tell you my risks have been both manageable and calculated. Many of the risks I've taken have had pretty low stakes and not much chance of public scrutiny.

But, with my book being published in October, well, this suddenly feels perilous. What if nobody buys it? What if it gets bad reviews? What if I shout from the rooftops about it and hear only crickets in return? What if I film a book trailer for it, put it out in the world--actually ask people to watch it, which will go against my natural instincts--and make a total fool of myself in the process? You can see where this is going. The whole thing makes me feel really vulnerable.

The truth is, my brave in the past has not been all that big. And, yet, it's going to be bravery--a newly tapped well of courage--that allows me to put my introverted self out in the world in a much bigger way than I ever have. And, that's exhilarating. And exciting. And mind-numbingly terrifying, too.

I'm committed to the ride, though. I'm going to do my best. I'm going to rely on the support of my friends and family. I'm going to learn from my co-author who is much more comfortable with all of this stuff. And, I'm going to keep in mind that even if I flop, I'll be better off for having been through it all. And, I just know that, in the end, my brave will be bigger.

How about you? How big is your brave?

Monday
Jul142014

Time

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. --William Penn

This is embarrassing to admit but I'll tell you anyway. I get paid to help people figure out how best to spend their time. I just wrote a book that is filled with time management and productivity tips. And, I really do know the key to managing my own time. For instance, when my days include a variety of activities that represent my priorities (time for work, family, exercise, self-care, and fun), I feel like I have time enough for the things that matter to me.

Recently, though, I've felt like I've had a severe shortage of hours in the day. Partly, that's because my kids are home from school and my schedule is different in the summer. In fact, I was ready to throw them under the bus and blame them completely for the fact that I'm not getting much done. But, shortly after a slight rant at them for something (I can't remember if it was for not putting away their shoes, wiping dirt on the hand towel, forgetting to make their beds...), I escaped upstairs to calm down by playing Candy Crush. And then it hit me.

My kids aren't to blame for my lack of time. I am. And, this is the embarrassing part. My Candy Crush time, which had started innocently when a friend told me she couldn't believe I didn't play since it was right up my alley (you know who you are), had turned into an hour or more a day. An hour or more a day that was robbing me of precious time that I'd much rather be spending differently.

Of course, I am a huge fan of down time. I'm even (clearly) a fan of Candy Crush. What I'm also a fan of, though, is using time intentionally. And, that's where I had gotten off track. Candy Crush is not an activity that replenishes me. It's fine. I like it. But, once I stopped to consider my priorities, I realized that I'd rather use that hour for something else. And, guess what happened once I did? My time felt plentiful again.

I'm guessing I'm not alone on this one. Facebook, long telephone chats, TV, online shopping. All of these have their place. And, if they are your reprieve or they replenish you, by all means, go for it. If, on the other hand, you'd like to find a bit of time to read or walk or sew or play piano or meditate or even just catch up on those never-ending emails, use my realization to consider that you most likely have some time that you can reclaim should you choose.

Monday
Jun302014

Limits

Maybe other people will try to limit me but I don't limit myself. --Jim Carrey

My daughter and one of her best friends went to a day camp last week. It was a Lego camp at their old preschool. You should know that my daughter is 7 and her friend is 8. When she first told me she wanted to attend the camp, my impulse was to tell her she was too old. She just finished 1st grade, after all. And, there are plenty of camp options for 7 year olds.

Instead, I checked with the school’s director—someone I’ve known for years since my 12 year old son also attended her preschool back in the day—who said she would love for the girls to come. With that, I decided to get out of my daughter’s way. Who was I to say that she couldn’t go to a camp with kids half her age? Especially when she was so excited for it.

So, I sent in the form and the payment, and last Monday morning, off she went. The first thing I noticed when I saw her next to the other campers was the obvious: she and her friend were literally twice the size of the other kids. I actually felt a little self-conscious and hoped that none of the parents would notice the huge size difference between my daughter and their children.

As I waited outside to pick her up the first day, I wondered what I would find when she emerged. That she and her friend had finally noticed that they were too old to be there? That they had spent a horrible day watching their Lego creations be destroyed by 4 year olds? That they had been bored? What I found instead was that they had had a fabulous time. And, that was true on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well.

My daughter and her friend spent the week in a familiar and nostalgic-to-them place that brought back great memories. They got to see the music specialist at the school who marveled at how much they had grown. They hung out with a couple of beloved teachers—and helped teach the preschoolers some new versions of tag. They were able to model great behavior for the younger kids which made them feel confident. They built a fabulous Lego creation which was, in the end, destroyed by 4 year olds but they handled it fine. The week was a total success.

These two fabulous girls decided to do something that sounded like fun with no thought about what others would think or what the age guidelines were. They didn't limit themselves and because of that, they ended up modeling not just for the youngsters with them in camp but also for me. I think we all could benefit by following their lead.

Monday
Jun232014

Listen

All you need to do to receive guidance is to ask for it and then listen. --Sanaya Roman

Ask, then listen. Simple, right? Yet, so many of us forget one or both parts of this. We complain. We lament. We bemoan. Or, we ignore a reality until it can no longer be ignored. 

After that, we might remember to ask for the answer to appear. We might remember to ask for guidance on how to move forward or which choice to make. When we reach the point of knowing that something needs to change, we'll usually ask the question.

But, listen? Well, life so readily gets in the way of that. Life tumbles at us and we react. Days go by without us finding the time to slow down and listen. Even when the answer tries to get our attention, we often aren't able to hear it because of our noisy lives.

So, today, slow down. Breathe. Ask. And, then listen. Even if it's only for a few minutes. Listen.