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Would You Say This To Your Child?

Why are we so rough on ourselves? A brilliant friend of mine has been working on a fund raising event for months and holding down a full time job, volunteering, schlepping people around and being a rock for friends like me who some would call “high maintenance”.  The event is tonight and at the witching hour she feels everything she has NOT done or done well enough staring her in the face. The truth is she has done it all beautifully, and in about 9 hours everyone who has the privilege of seeing her masterpiece event will be star struck. I wonder if she will be able to relax into the beauty and pride of what she accomplished without overriding the joy with self-doubt and judgment.

 

I felt the sadness of how she  we judge ourselves relentlessly all day long. The constant striving to make things better or make them right keeps us from bathing ourselves in the joy of what we give, accomplish and produce. It is that proverbial struggle to be enough, and for whom?

 

The self- criticism, lamenting and regret can only happen when we are not living in the present moment. Not to get too Zen on you, but that is a fact that even science confirms.  How do we live in the moment while holding our cell phones, waiting for emails, and anxiously looking at our Google calendars wondering how we are going to get it all done? Here are some things that work for me…

 

1.      Gratitude

2.     Remembering and saying out loud, “I am safe and I have everything I need at this moment.”

3.     Noticing our minds being ahead of us and focusing on something beautiful right where we are.

4.     Meditation, if only for a 5 minute island of peace

5.     Noticing our breath and making sure we are taking in plenty of oxygen with each breath

6.     Being in the “flow” of something we love to do…reading a book, painting a picture, going to an art gallery, listening to our favorite music

 

Find something that works for you. When you begin to hear those voices telling you that you or something you are doing isn’t enough, just smile and tell them you are sending them to the Bahamas on a nice vacation. Then, put your feet up, breathe deeply and repeat after me: “All is right with the world at this moment.”July 2012 012

 

Crossing the Line

 

Lately it seems like the issue of setting boundaries is on the minds of lots of folks in my life...sounds like the old “I have a friend”, right??…OK, I will cop to having it in MY life too. What exactly is a boundary anyway and why are they so important to our relationships? I think it is mostly but not solely about our integrity being challenged or violated.

We may not be able to identify our boundaries, but we sure know when someone crosses that line! For me, it happens quickly and can feel like someone kicked me in the shins or the gut and then ran away, leaving me feeling like a limp dish rag.

I see myself as a person that is compassionate, accepting and very tolerant of people’s human foibles and then someone steps into my snare, is jerked off the ground and I smile while they dangle. They should have known better, right? When I get that jolt, I go instantly into why I am not “more tolerant, and most of the time get stuck in self-flagellation. I begin to do my “counselor thing” and remember the other person’s family history (that I have no idea about!). Poor thing…he/she couldn’t help it. They are doing the “best they can” and why I am I so judgmental? If I were a real friend/wife/husband/co-worker/parishioner I wouldn’t feel this way.  Familiar???

Boundaries are there for a reason. They help us take care of ourselves and what we believe and hold true as a good and right way to live in the world.  At times we will cross someone’s set point and it will be an innocent mistake. We didn’t know. There are people who lack an internal compass, are self-absorbed to the extent that they simply do not honor boundaries. Yes, they may have had a miserable and even traumatic childhood and empathy is useful in understanding them., but when their behavior begins to erode our sense of well-being and our tolerance dishonors our own healthy boundaries, it is time to return to our precious selves, ignoring all messages from those bony-fingered voices that say otherwise.

Enough is Enough Already!

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 I woke up at 4:45 this morning feeling like a four year-old waiting for Santa. This morning, I am heading out to the Delta where shorebirds abound, the sun is hot, and I can put my feet up and just relax. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I wasn’t alone when my eyes opened this morning.  Already having had her proverbial “cup of coffee”,  one of the voices that cohabits  with me  was ready to spar. That grin suddenly disappeared and the frown line that resembles Ruth Buzzi on “Laugh In” took its place. “How could you be taking two days off when you have work to do??”, she said. OMG, we were off and running!

When is enough, enough? What is it in all of us that will not let us rest and just enjoy ourselves fully when it is time to relax and let go? I have a few ideas about that…

Thank God  I can blame my “dysfunctional family”.  I spent much of my childhood getting up at 4am, sleeping in a cold farmhouse and never being allowed to just “be”. My grandmother’s core belief was  “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”. We shelled peas if we were going to sit down. We ironed clothes if we wanted to watch TV and we ALWAYS did our chores, our homework, everyone else’s chores and everyone else’s homework before we could go out to play. Everything had to be done before there could be any sort of joy or fun. Sound familiar??

Add to that living in a country that thrives on “more and better” and spawns such management ideas as “Work smarter, not harder”.  The United States boasts the highest rate of productivity, and this on the backs of American workers who come to work sick, smear rouge on their cheeks to look good in a meeting when they have the flu, and are proud to say they haven’t taken a single sick day in their careers. We coined the phrase “24/7” and wear it like a badge of honor.

Well, I have to go now. I gotta get packed and out of here. I am leaving “Miss Productivity” behind, giving her a Personal Day!

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