How YOU Doin’?

Posted by on Jan 27, 2013 in Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

I can still hear Joey’s voice from the sitcom Friends. “So how YOU doin’?” he would ask, and give a little smile as he checked out the gal. If you read my recent post, “Olympic Geek,” then you know I have started this year with an increased commitment to my own writing as I continue to support others with their own writing goals. What I am grateful for today is that before I began showing up, I put a tracking system into place with structures to monitor my progress. I did this mostly so that when someone asks, or when I begin to wonder how I AM doing, I have some quantifiable evidence that goes beyond my own internal yammering. This week was a doozy. I attended two late night meetings, and finessed a major family-related interruption to my usual work schedule. In my tired state, I dumped junk food into my tired engine for more than one meal, as if that would help me feel better. It did not. By Friday morning, I barely made it out of bed for my morning run. I did not show up for my early morning writing session. On Saturday, I made up excuses and did other ‘important’ things in the wee hours of the morn. You know, things that would make a difference in my life, like procrastinating on a proposal, watching Rachel Maddow interview Jon Stewart, and checking my email. When I stumbled to my desk this morning, I imagined Joey showing up, winking at me, and asking, “So how YOU doin’?” No flipping idea, Joey. I haven’t shown up for two days. I don’t know what I was writing about when I left, nor what I’m supposed to be writing about today. I’m not even sure that this whole goal was really that good of an idea, you know? So go flirt with someone else.  Joey, always a sweet guy, stuck around and stayed interested. How WAS I doin’? I was pretty sure I had broken the chain (structure #1) in the application I have on my phone called WriteChain. It is a free little thing that allows me to set my goal, and track my progress. My goal is 500 words a day, skipping no more than one day in between consecutive writing sessions. If I show up, put in the number of words I write, I get a chain in my link. Don’t laugh. We are simple creatures by design, and yes, I will show up to get a virtual link in a chain. In fact, I had earned ten beautiful links in my chain during the past couple weeks of writing. Today I was starting again...

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Being an Olympic Geek

Posted by on Jan 20, 2013 in Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

I have a friend who is training to do an Ironman. When I met her two years ago, she had run the Boston Marathon a few times, but was terrified of open swimming. During the past two years, she has conquered her fear of swimming in lakes and oceans, has completed three sprint triathlons and a half ironman race. She’s also a union painter, which means she’s on the job by 6:30 a.m. five or six days a week. She’s one of the few people with whom I feel comfortable saying that, in order to fulfill my commitment to write every day this year, I’ve started getting up at 3:45 a.m. I am a mother of two young children, an entrepreneur, an athlete, and a morning person. If I want to commit to doing something that requires physical or mental focus, I put it in my schedule for early in the day. I’m committed to starting the day with my kids at 6 a.m. I’m committed to running at 5 a.m. I’m committed to working with my clients and business team by 9 a.m. That left 4 a.m. as the optimal time to commit to my writing. I read a quote by Simon Pegg that says, “Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy, and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”  That seems to fit my situation. If I were to tell the truth, I LOVE turning on my “grow light” and lighting my candle in the wee hours of the morn. I gather up the soft blue cotton meditation shawl my friend Peg gave me, wrap it around my shoulders, and turn up the heat. In my wooly slippers, when everyone in my house and most of the world is still sleeping, I put pen to paper. Some days it moves smoothly across, generating word after word. Sometimes my pen looks like it’s stuck in a traffic jam—writing a word or two, then pausing, another word or two, and then drawing a long line across what I’ve written, looking for a detour, before getting stopped again. My pen and I do this dance until close to 5 a.m. Then I tie on my running shoes and pour my favorite music into my brain through ear buds while the little ones continue to sleep. I listen to Les Miserable, Godspell, Julie Silver albums, and my “Immersed” CD produced by Mayyim Chayyim-–all music that raises my...

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Unexpected Gifts

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in Education, Relationships | 0 comments

A few years ago, my daughter opened one of her holiday gifts from us and burst into tears. “It’s not the right one!” she wailed. The crying continued for a while. I experienced my own disappointment. I want my kids to be gracious in both giving and receiving gifts. Watching her behavior that night reminded me of spoiled Nellie on Little House on the Prairie and made me question how well I was doing at this parenting job. When the intensity of the moment finally passed, we talked as a family about what had happened. I learned more about my daughter and myself. She explained in her own way that her disappointment stemmed not from the fact that she hadn’t received the gift that she had wanted. She understood that sometimes you get things you wish for and sometimes you don’t. She was upset because she believed she was definitely getting what she wanted, and then found out that what she received was different than what she had expected. I learned that opening presents was not the fun activity I thought it would be for my daughter. Given the option, she preferred to know clearly what she was and was not receiving so she would know what to expect and there would be no surprises. Hmmm. Sound familiar? As adults, how graciously do we deal with outcomes in life that look different than the way we believed something was going to go? When we don’t get the promotion we believed we were slated to receive, when we do get the divorce we never planned to need, when a young loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness despite living a healthy lifestyle, how gracious are we in our response to the situation? It’s not that we don’t believe that these things occur. We get upset from believing things were going to be one way, and then experiencing a radical change in plans that we could not control. Flexible thinking is one of the traits that has a strong correlation with a person’s level of success in today’s world. The quicker a person can absorb the shock of a game-changing event and can begin thinking of new ways to move forward, the more valuable she is to an organization or team. While my daughter will naturally develop more flexibility in her thinking as she ages, part of my job as her parent is to give her tools and strategies now to actively cultivate flexible thinking. One of the ways I do this is through teaching my children to practice gratitude. I start with the basics, and model how to do this when things were going well. I ask my kids...

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Getting Unstuck

Posted by on Jan 6, 2013 in Business, Relationships | 0 comments

What do you do when you are between a rock and a hard place? Homer dedicated a whole section of the Odyssey to the dilemma. In order to return to their home, Ulysses had to pass through the narrow Strait of Messina with his crew. On one side, they faced a rock with a man-eating monster. On the other side of the strait, a deadly whirlpool promised a fatal end to the entire crew. With not enough room to sail safely between, Ulysses had to choose between a rock and a hard place. In epic tales, a narrow strait makes for a good adventure and we read with enthusiasm to see how it all works out. When the rock and the hard place show up in our own lives, however, we may have a different response. When we are in our own narrow strait, we cannot see a good option. Others around us may be full of clarity, believing that the answer is easy and sometimes even offering to tell us exactly what we should do. Sometimes, in our desperation, we take the bait—or even go looking for it. “Just tell me what I’m supposed to do here!” we plead. aWe want the friend, therapist, coach, or consultant to make the decision for us. Wise, seasoned professionals and friends will not comply. Those who know how this works will gently hand the decision, much to our dismay, right back over to us to figure out. They know that if they give us an answer, we are likely to respond with all the reasons their suggestion will not work. They recognize that the responsibility involved in making life decisions belongs only with the person who will ultimately be living that life. Yet, from our place in the boat, staring at a rock and a hard place, we literally cannot see how to get through. The discomfort of this can be maddening. We want to paddle our hearts out, taking some kind of action, just to get to a better place. Please, we think, do not make me stare at these non-option options any longer. That is when the real work begins. When we feel so stuck that we have no choice but to stare intently at ‘what is,’ and when we feel like the pain of inaction will ultimately break us, we begin to shift. We begin to reach out in a different way, not to ask others to fix the situation for us, but to discover what exactly we need to cultivate in ourselves to navigate the strait. Ultimately, Ulysses chooses to sail closer to the rock with the monster. While the monster claims six lives, Ulysses avoids what...

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