The ebb and flow: navigating the tides of change

Just as the seasons come and go, the tides rise and fall, days make way for nights… each day, week, month, year has its own rhythm.

I’m definitely in a summer rhythm. A flurry of spring projects completed, fall not yet on the horizon, it’s time for catching up, clearing up, but especially a time for family events.

As I sit on a park bench watching my granddaughter swing on the monkey bars, I chat with another grandmother. I flash back to all those years ago when I was watching my own children at the park, now here I am 30-40+ years later, and history repeats itself, albeit so much has changed and it’s a new little person on those monkey bars.

And me? Enjoying the difference of perspectives that a generation brings, the blessing of being a full time grandmother for a summer week, witnessing the interaction between my 89-year-old mother and my seven-year-old granddaughter.

The demands of the workplace seem to have taken a back seat for now, and just as surely as I know the moon will rise and the tide will come in, I trust that the season of full time work engagement will return. 

For now, it’s time to surrender to Legos and puzzles and parks, to go with this flow, knowing I will be fully present when the next tide of work events surges in.

It seems like a simple thing, to just be in the now with what is happening, but so often our attention is divided and we are never fully neither here or there, but caught between our thoughts of where we should be, or could be, or would rather be. I know, I’ve been there.

So wherever you are dear reader, just be there, and know that it will change.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Most of the time it seems as if we are squeezing in the personal in between our work obligations, but sometimes it is the other way around – personal takes precedence. It’s been one of those weeks.

Between my granddaughter’s first day of summer and my elderly mum having some medical and legal issues to take care, there hasn’t been a lot of work going on this week.

And you know what? I have decided that rather than stressing about it, it’s OK.  I’m blessed to be self employed and having the flexibility to manage my time and my work; we are a 2 income family and I’m not the only one paying the bills, in fact my hubby’s biz is booming. I realize that not everyone has the luxury of taking the time to take care of family when the need is there, or if they do, may face serious financial and employment consequences. So I am feeling very grateful.

Grateful to have been able to spend the day with my seven-year-old granddaughter reliving that magical feeling of  the expansive freedom of the first day of summer vacation, enjoying her day of skateboarding, monkey bars, puzzles and an ice cream treat.

Grateful to spend this time with my mum, helping her though the hurdles of aging, knowing that at 88, it’s really an unknown much time we have left with her. 

Work will always be there, but there are only so many first days of summer vacation, and only so many days to walk the path with an aging parent.

Just like a seesaw, sometimes one side is up, and sometimes it’s down and rarely is it perfectly poised in the middle. And that seems to be the way of things.

So here is my advice on a summer afternoon – trust your heart to lead the way, and at the end of the day, you will find that right balance.

The secret question that will carry you through the hard times

After a weeklong blog break, I’m back with #2 of Rory Vaden’s 7 strategies for self-discipline from his book, Taking the Stairs.  In case you missed my take on his first strategy, embracing the Pain Paradox, you can catch up here.

What happens when the going gets tough? 

We all come to those points in our lives, whether they are moments or extended periods, when things don’t go according to plan, our efforts don’t seem to be paying off, we just can't figure out how to go forward, it’s all uphill. We’ve all been there. And will most likely be there again, and again. It’s just part of life.

So the question is, what do we do when we hit the hard times?

When faced with challenge and difficulty, most of, explains Rory, start being unsure of what we are doing, start doubting our original commitment and asking ourselves the Should questions. “Should I carry on?” “Should I quit trying?” “Should I try something else?”

Herein lies the danger in this seemingly innocuous line of questioning: we convince ourselves we’re better off abandoning the challenge at hand, trying something new, and then end up right back where we started because let’s face it folks – the problem usually lies within us, not the situation.

So what is the secret key for success when navigating those decision points in our lives? It’s a simple shift from asking the “should” questions to asking the “how” questions, advises Rory.

So, instead of “Should I be doing this?” – which of course immediately give us a way out, we ask ourselves “How do I do this?”

The simple switch from “should” to “how” opens up a whole world of resources, creativity, hidden strengths and talents, that will all come to our aid and help us achieve so much more than we ever dreamed was possible.

So next time you are feeling challenged and hear yourself asking those “should” questions…. Take a breath, and then make a choice to ask a new question – and make sure it starts with the word “How”. You’ll be amazed at the power you unleash!

Guess what? I just turned 100!

Just kidding.

But I have written 100 blog posts since beginning my blogging journey. It all started back in January with a restless yearning, something in me seeking expression, which became my blogging commitment and hence my contract with Spirit, my commitment to the Divine partnership of co-creation.

And so I set off on my blogging journey, and soon into the trail I realized I was weighted down, my pack back was just way too heavy.  I got to chuck out a bunch of stuff I hadn’t even realized I was carrying around: Perfectionism, Procrastination, Judgment, Worry….. ever run into those?

Whew, that felt better! But you know what? They were back again the very next morning! Hence the humbling realization that these mindsets require daily vigilance lest they creep back in. This sparked my re-commitment to my daily meditation practice. I find that it really is the pause that refreshes, the space that allows something Beyond to find its way into my consciousness, the opening for Spirit to make Itself known in my life.

Along the trail, I got to learn a lot about the fear of failure, and how tempting it can be to use it as an excuse not to go forward. I also learned that those gremlin voices in my head (perfectionism, procrastination, judgment and worry) are probably never going to go away for good. The trick is to just know that, accept it, acknowledge their presence, and carry on anyway.

Looking back over these 100 posts I realize I’ve covered a lot of ground. Ups and downs, twists and turns, epiphanies and insights, explorations into productivity, parenting your elderly parent, what it means to be a spiritual being on a human journey, the daily ins and outs of our lives…

The best parts?  The strength and self confidence that comes from staying true to my commitment. Choosing to get back on the trail when I slip. Realizing I am surrounded by a loving community of readers who are journeying with me. Feeling my connection with all of you, dear readers. So thank you, thank you for being a part of my journey, thank you for hanging in there with me, thank you for your comments and likes and shares.

Can’t wait to see where we go from here!  Ready for the next 100?

How to juggle multiple roles without going nuts

I’m of that generation that so many of us baby boomers find ourselves in – sandwiched between our roles as spouses, parents, grandparents and increasingly, caretakers for our own elderly parents, all while still actively pursuing our careers.

On some days, it can be crazy making. Not that my adult kids, thank goodness, need any parenting at this stage, as I am blessed that they are all self sufficient and independent, though unfortunately that is not the case for many of us, and wasn’t always that way for me.

It seems to me that the crazy making is not so much born of others’ demands on my time and attention, but rather on my own relationship to it all.  It’s about my own rather unrealistic and demanding desire to be there 100% for everyone in my life 100% of the time, and the reality is that there is more to attend to than there are available hours to do it in.

What to do then? I’m thinking back to Rory Vaden’s decision-making options – ignore, prioritize, delegate, postpone…. When you are a first-born and suffer from the Responsibility syndrome, (you know the one I mean?) it’s easy to get caught up in the compelling feeling that you have to do everything for everyone, perfectly, all the time. So it’s been really helpful to put these strategies that I usually apply to business decisions, to my personal life.

Ahh, just stepping back enough to realize I have choices brings relief. Asking myself these questions helps me to feel a sense of control over my life.
      What can I scratch off my list?
      What are my priorities?
      What can I delegate to someone else? 
      What can I postpone to a better time?

And let’s certainly not forget self-care. It’s all so easy to neglect when you are feeling pressured to take care of so many things, but it is so vital to make your own well-being a priority. Taking that hike. Having dinner with a girlfriend. Going to bed early. Meditating.

Are you in the sandwich generation dear reader? I’d love to hear your tricks for staying sane!

What if we just did the thing we didn’t feel like doing?

Ok world – ready or not, here I come. I’m embarking on a 7-week journey to implement Rory Vaden’s seven strategies for self-discipline from his book Taking the Stairs– would you like to join me?

When I found his book in my mailbox on the heels of my epiphany about my recent lack of self-discipline, I took it as an invitation to explore this topic and implement some needed changes.

His first step, Sacrifice: The Paradox Principle sounds about as appealing as the notion of self-discipline. Because let’s be real – we all prefer the easy way out, and the notion of sacrifice is well, daunting, right? And we all are naturally good at ignoring our problems until they come crashing down on our heads.

But let’s look a little deeper. When it comes to making choices, there’s usually two parts of us that are in direct conflict, explains Rory.  There’s the emotional part of our brain that drives us to make choices based on wanting to feel good now, and there’s the logical part of our brain that is evaluating what makes sense analytically.

It’s a tug of war, and all too often, the emotional side of us wins out. So what do successful people do that sets them apart?  As Rory goes on to explain, they embrace the Pain Paradox, and understand that “the short term easy leads to the long term difficult, while the short-term difficult leads to the long-term easy.

The paradox lies in the fact that what seems easy in the short term (choosing the couch over the hike or the gym, choosing the chips over the carrots, zoning out in front of the TV instead of taking that webinar, you know the ones), ends up creating a life that is all but easy as our health deteriorates, and our dreams fade into the distance.

The good news? Often the seemingly harder choices are only necessary for a short period of time. I’m not talking about a lifetime of abnegation and sacrifice here. Just some short term choices to put in the time, make the not so easy choices, so we can live the life we want tomorrow. 

So here is Rory’s call to action for this week:  “Create a clear picture of what you want in the long run and you will find that your endurance for pain and strife, discipline and hard work will naturally increase to levels you never thought you had. A new world will open up for you – a world where you can have anything you want… as long as you commit.”

Ready?  Here’s a little inspiration from Rory.

Can we really change our life experience?

How you look at it is pretty much how you'll see it”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

You are probably familiar with the expression that hindsight is 20/20, meaning it’s a lot easier to make sense of things after they have happened.

I had the pleasure of listening to businessman, author and speaker Joel Fotinos on Sunday, and he had an interesting take on hindsight, and its corollary, foresight.

Turns out hindsight is actually a useful spiritual tool to look back at significant life events with fresh eyes, and hopefully see the benefit of something that seemed not so good, or even terrible, at the time. It’s not exactly reinventing history, but rather taking the time to reflect on your life’s circumstances and events, and find new meaning, or opportunities for growth, in those events, once time has passed and the emotions associated with them have cooled down.