I like you

Tonight I was reminded of how connected we all are and that in that connection how natural it is for us to like each other. Liking someone is not something that I am accustomed feeling. I may appreciate the physical or intellectual aspects of someone, be fascinated by his/ her accomplishments but rarely do I sit opposite someone and just plain like them.
It was therefore rare feeling to sit and notice that I like this person. It was amazing to sit opposite someone, watch his words form , listen to his tale as he spoke about to what he did, what he wants, who he loves and just to feel in that moment connected.
Maybe the meditation class that I took this evening helped. I learned to focus on my out breath and count to ten. As I counted I stayed in the moment and whenever a thought formed I would start over counting and refocus on my breath. I learned to keep my mind clear and listen to only the birds chirp.
And so it was over a table, I followed his breath and his words staying in the moment of his thoughts, not judging just listening and the reward was a feeling of pure likeness, joy to be in the company of another as I sat in the perfect cadence of the moment.
It was a powerful moment for me, connecting with someone whom I knew when we were both much younger. It was amazing that after many years, I could still conclude that he remained a sweetheart while he experienced me as jovial.
Maybe our younger connection was always real, maybe we always presented our true selves so it was easy to connect, or maybe we both want the same thing in others – to be truly connected.
Whatever the reason I enjoyed it, a moment of friendship, a moment of connection, a moment of liking someone intensely.

Who do you like? What’s it like when you spend time with them?

FIVE QUESTIONS

I stopped making resolutions years ago, so I made none this year. Instead of making promises that I don’t keep I have been focussing on themes each year. This year, thus far I have had no thoughts on what to work on. As a result, I have not been writing since I wanted no surprises when I started writing.
Tonight, my friend who shares the same birthday as me ( Jan 4) sent me five questions
1) What worked in 2014 that’s worth bringing into 2015?
2) What would you like to experiment with to get you to the next level in 2015?
3) What changes need to be made for you to see what you want to see happen in 2015?
4) What does a successful 2015 look like?
5) In other words… what would you like to say you are most proud of at the end of 2015?

My answers
1) I want to bring connecting with people into 2015
2) I would like to experiment with meditation, getting still and listening to the Universe. I want to be led and not take control.
3)I need to take more risk, be more honest with myself and stay in awareness
4) A successful 2015 sees me connected with men and women. I am not in control and I trust and surrender to the Universe
5) I will be most proud of my meditation practice and my ability to surrender and the awe that I feel about the abundance of the Universe.

What are your answers to the five questions? Please share them with me.

Unlearn to learn

I was sharply reminded today that we have to unlearn before we can learn.
My client has a generous spirit and is a wonderful person, who has been struggling with making a negative situation work. He has been bending over backwards, being kind to the people involved, keeping his peace and holding out for the good in others. While I applaud his search for the good in people and his eagerness to celebrate whatever they do as good, today I asked him to take a reality check on his relationships. I asked him to be honest, face the truth and make a choice.
I have been there before and I know that whenever I get to that point of doubting what I see as real or making excuses for others I need to make a choice. Whether this happens in a job, a friendship or another human interaction I know the truth – the choice has already been made and I am delaying acting in my power. When I delay action, more negative stuff happens and I suffer even more. The longer that I dither, the more I suffer.
I have accepted that leaving, giving up, saying no and starting over are good choices. To get to that point I had to unlearn a few things.
Be nice – This took a long time for me to conquer. Girls are taught to be and play nice and subtly we are taught not to set boundaries, and to not say No. I no longer need to be nice, I need to honor myself, say no and set boundaries so people know how to treat me and what I will accept.
Give until it hurts – Why should generosity be painful? When I give away 100% I have nothing let for me, I am left wanting and that hurts. I will share but I like my nose so I would not be spoiling my face. I share and give generously as well, but I am not doing without.
There is good in everyone. While I agree with this as a fundamental truth when people show me there ugly I accept that as part of them as well. If they don’t show me their good, I don’t go looking for it. I accept that they are good, and that they choose not to show me their goodness. I don’t stick around waiting for the good to be shown; I accept what they show me and run.
Don’t give up – I have walked away from jobs, relationships and situations because they were toxic and I accepted that I had no power to change the outcomes or interactions. When I feel powerless, or keep getting angry or depressed, or make excuses or try hard and nothing is changing, or feel that I have no choice or feel trapped and powerless or that the interaction no longer serves its initial purpose, then I know that I have no choice but to walk away. It does not feel good and in the moment I am not proud of giving up. When I get over the feelings of defeat and stop listening to the voices that say “Try something else,try harder, don’t give up,” it feels right. I always give of my best and if my best is not good enough then I need to find something that my best is good enough for. What is the sense of putting energy behind something that is not working?
lt is in the spirit of unlearning that I have been honing my relationships and experiences over the years, trimming off the excess, culling the negatives and keeping only those that bring value to me. It did not happen overnight, some of them I have had to plan and take baby steps to reshape. Today just before the new year I am celebrating those choices, for me they are excellent ones.
PS I have more unlearned stuff to share with you and I am still unlearning.

What do you need to unlearn for 2015?

I got the joy

Today I woke up in a startlingly happy mood. I did not even have coffee and I was buzzing The first note that I sent out this morning was greeted with the reply “Wow, you are in a great mood.”
Throughout the day, it continued. I was just happy, I could feel it. It was tangible, palpable and alive.
This was a strange feeling for me. To experience pure joy on waking up, and to sustain it through the day, especially when there was no stimuli was involved. No party, no one next to me, no gifts, no alcohol, no drugs or other stimuli, no change of routine; yet there I was experiencing a moment of bliss and pure joy.
Throughout the day the feeling kept me company, just below the surface. Nothing grand happened today but I engaged in conversations when I normally would not. I hugged someone who resigned, and I was generally more present and aware of the people around me. I got involved in chats and engaged in light, playful banter and at times I was playful and even mischievous. All my exchanges were done in good taste, all in a spirit of lightness, all with a freedom from repercussion.
Even now as the day is winding down, I am still in this tangible, palpable good mood. The feeling stayed with me for the day and I can still feel it.
I started the year 2014, with questions about joy. How to find it? What it feels like? Now 16 days before the end of the year I experienced it. It is an amazing experience and I want more.
Now I am curious. I want to see how long the mood lasts and how long it will feel like this. For a moment today I thought about examining this fully so that I could understand the triggers for the feeling, thinking that maybe I could flip the switch whenever I needed to. My joy determined that was not a good strategy. Instead, I am riding this wave of joy, enjoying the feeling of it and when it lands I will be right there to see what happens next.

Have you ever experienced Joy? What triggered it for you?

Catastrophic Fantasy – Blog 100

Last night I missed my 100 Blog.  I got home early enough but by 7.30 p.m. the power was out.  It returned about half an hour later and then was off again.  By then I resigned myself to the thought and fell asleep.  It returned sometime later and I decided to stay in bed.

This was a deliberate decision to go with the flow, not to force my will on a situation and to leave it as it is.

These notions of surrender, go with the flow and accepting a situation as it is served me well today.  It was Day 2 of the Strategic Planning session and my CEO facilitated the session.  Usually I am very rigid about time and activities when facilitating so I was surprised that I surrendered the meeting control and supported him during the process.

This process of surrendering has not been easy for me and I know that I have not mastered the art of acceptance.  I expect to see these themes  repeated in my work and when I deal with people until I get the hang of it.

Actually I am looking forward to always surrendering since it is pretty easy and rewarding.  I don’t have to strategize how to get my own way, or fuss that things are not happening the way that I planned or throw a tantrum because this is not what I wanted.  It is not that I lose interest, it is that I can put the situation in perspective.  So what if I did not do Blog 100 last night, what is the catastrophic fantasy about not doing it?  The world did not end, I still have internet access and I am doing the Blog now.  So what if the CEO led the workshop? We got the results and whatever was not discussed in the room I will discuss with the relevant players to get the reports completed.

It seems simple enough, but it took a while for me to get here.  I think that the renovations, having to trust contractors, accepting schedule and price changes and accepting that I had no control provided the catalyst to push me to where I am.

What do you do when things don’t go as planned?  What has pushed you to acceptance?

My Small World – Blog 94

Yesterday I went to speak to some teenagers about writing as part of National Library Week.  It was a mixed bunch with ages from 12 to 16, with varying levels of education.

As we interacted some of the kids shared their stories. Some were abused in their family homes and expressed gratitude to have another family, some shared that they had a spiritual awakening that led to them being removed from harmful situations.

I was in awe at how easily they spoke their truth, how unashamedly they put their hurt out there and how grateful they were for a new life.  I admired that at such young ages they were aware that they had an opportunity to change their lives and chart their own course.

As I drove back to my office in the comfort of my car, I could not stop thinking of these kids and how their worlds were miles apart from mine.  I also could not help but think what a small, safe space I live in.

My space was not always small.  My mom was a single parent with four daughters  and we felt how tightly she pulled her belt especially in the last days of the month before she got paid.  As a kid, I was sharply aware, that even though things at my home were not spectacular that I was in a better position than many of the girls I went to school with and many of the kids who lived around us.  As a result, we were always encouraged to assist.  My sister and I spent many evenings in the library reading for the younger kids and helping the librarians make posters.  My cousin and I visited the elderly and carried food for people who had limited mobility while my Girl Guide troop often visited children’s homes to clean or help out the administrative staff.

As I grew older that kind of giving and contributing stopped.  While I would make the odd monetary contributions, I make no contact with the recipients of the donation.  I am too busy to give of my time. As a result, my world has become whitewashed of people with pain, people who are in need, people who may really need some help. My world is sanitized, the problems that are around me are a coaching client’s angst, an organizational strategy, wall paint, money for extras, who is publishing my new book.  It all seems so petty, so small, so irrelevant when I listen to the kids as they navigate their world.

Now I am thinking, how do I go back, how do I make contact, how do I really assist?  These kids are not part of my daily life but they are part of my wider community and need to be engaged; how do I do that?

I am not rushing out to save the world, I am just thinking of what I need to do to expand my boundaries so that I can contribute to the larger world.

Who is on the outskirts of your community? How do you engage them?

Gifts From Strangers – Blog 91

“Hey,” he greeted me, “I saw you yesterday and I am seeing you again today and you are doing the same thing.  You are standing quietly. Are you still meditating?”

I recognised him immediately and said, “Yes, I remember you.  How are you?”

The day before, as I bade the sun farewell on the beach, he stopped to ask “Are you meditating?  You have been standing still for a while?”

Today, after our exchange, I was in absolute glee.

I normally describe myself as Hyper; not the can’t-sit-still, physical type of hyperactive, but the can’t-stop-thinking type.  It is my mind that is hyper, always racing from one thought to another, building stories, creating fiction out of facts and generating theories about everything and everyone. Sometimes my mind chatters on and on throughout the night as it seeks out new thoughts and scenarios. The overactive mind, keeps my body up at nights, it manifests itself in nervous energy that I display and I experience it as anxiety.

It is difficult for me to keep still and even my facial expressions are in constant flux as I response to the mind’s thoughts. I often exchange words with it which others misinterpret as me talking to myself.

I often give up, I cannot keep up with it. My mind literally has a mind of its own.

Since my mini meltdown earlier this week I have set some boundaries for my wandering mind.  I have been paying attention to where it goes and when I feel it racing ahead of the moment I deliberately yank it back to the present time. I am intentionally reducing the anxiety that is created when the mind catapults to where I want to be without reconciling where I am.

I have kept it harnessed in the now giving it very little wiggle room to travel to where it wants to be.

Hence, the reason I was pleased with the man’s observations.  He observed that I was still; which means that there was an absence of my normal twitchiness, or facial expressions, and I was not talking to myself.

He provided a mirror, so that I now know that my efforts are paying off.

I have no interest in his conclusion, if he is comfortable rationalizing my stillness as mediation so be it.

I  am only interested in the facts.  Someone who knows nothing about me saw me on two separate occasions and made the same observation – you are still.  Small thing for mankind, giant step for Maxine.

Today I received a gift from a stranger – incentive to keep going, positive feedback on my attempts.

I am invigorated to maintain the commitment and stay in the present time.

Where does your mind take you?  How does it manifest itself?

As I Am Created – Blog 90

I spent the last hour of yesterday watching the sun set. It was just me standing on Grand Anse beach, hearing the waves, the occasional bird call, spending the last of the day with the sky as it displayed its color.
As I watched, I wondered, “Where was all that fuss coming from yesterday? What did I really want to control?” As I stood on the beach marveling at the sunset, I relented, I am human and I crave control. I want to matter, I want to make a splash like the last wave that rolled in, I want to flash brilliant colour across the sky so that everyone can be amazed by my splendor. I want to show up everyday as magnificent. I want to be like the amazing Universe, and sadly at times when i struggle to control I am really competing with it.

As soon as I said it I knew the truth. I was not created to control, hence the reason that notion increases my anxiety. I was created to be as I am. I am graced with a purpose. There is no need to wonder if I matter, because I already do. I don’t have to flash color, I enhance whatever I touch. I don’t need to astonish anyone I was created amazing. There is nothing that I can do that will make me more than I am.
As I stood before the wonder of the sunset on the vastness of the beach I knew it all.
No need to be in control, I am all that I need, I have all that I need and the universe has provided everything just for me.
The trick is to remember.

What were you created to be?

Four Words – Blog 89

I have been planning this renovation for a while and in a week’s time it will begin.  The walls will be painted, the chairs redone, new cupboards installed, the windows treated and I even sprung for a new sofa.  I budgeted the monies for the renovations and did some private jobs so that I don’t have to take a loan, or dip into my savings or to suffer my monthly routine.

Now just days away from the start of the project I have not collected any monies from my clients.

This morning it was difficult to get going. I got off my bed, did my morning pages, had coffee but instead of changing and going to the gym I meandered back to bed.  It was after 8.00 a.m and I was still there.  I forced my self up off the bed, made it to the gym and returned home energized.

I got to the office and stayed by myself for most of the day.  Then I made faux pas turning a molehill into a mountain and I realized that the mood that I worked off this morning had wormed its way back.  I took the signal, and called it quits.  I needed a safe space, since something was up and I was completely out of sorts.

I turned to a dear friend and worked it out.  I was trying to control the money and when it came in.  Since my efforts around controlling it did not work ( I can’t write the cheque to myself) I was becoming more anxious about the fact that the money was not coming in.  The more anxious I became the more irritated I became, the more irritated I became the more annoyed I felt,  the more annoyed I felt the more irrational my behaviour.  I was continuing nicely along the part until I messed up and woke up.  It was easy for me to see that this was so not me.

As I sat with my friend I realised that without the cheques life was going on, I was fully functioning and nothing had changed.  Without the cheques I was still all that I am and everything in my life was more or less the same.

As I talked about it, I realized that I was adding unnecessary pressure to the situation because I was doing “what if” calculations to cater for a January 2015 event.  When I took that off the table things did not look so glum.  Together with my friend I devised a contingency plan just in case the cheques did not come through.

As the day draws to an end I am left with the words acceptance, trust, surrender and present (time).

I accept that I am not in control. I trust that the Universe will take care of me and I surrender to the will of the Universe.  I live my life one day at a time staying in the present time, accepting that now is all that I have, trusting that I am right where I am supposed to be and surrendering to the magic of the Universe.

What are you anxious about?  How is the anxiety manifested?