Monday, November 29, 2004
I have a tendency to talk myself out of even the best of intentions - whether it's going to the grocery store with list in hand, checking off items on a To-Do list, or promising myself I'll do something, then following through. One way or the other I'll find some "logical" reason for not doing it.
Shopping is not my forte to begin with. If I've spent over 30 minutes in the grocery store then get to the check out line and discover that I've forgotten to get something on my list, the wheels start turning and the debate begins:
"Do you really need this?"
"Yes, but I'm tired, ready to go home."
"Can't you get by without it one more day?"
Then the scales come out and I start weighing the pro and con evidence. 90% of the time I'll go home without that item, only to scold myself for not having it the next day!
To-Do lists are... well, they've historically been an exercise in overwhelm. I'll make elaborate lists of what needs to be done and sometimes even map out how long each item will take. It really doesn't matter if the list is just for today, or for this week, or even for the next three months. I tend to create To-Do lists only Super Woman could complete. I've done this since I was in grade school... which is when I first realized I couldn't trust myself.
Maybe I'm I being too hard on myself.... Most of the lists I make are not "realistic." And the schedules I create around them have no "life" elements figured in - no meal times, no "think" time, no time for unexpected events or interruptions.
And the grocery lists... sometimes there are things on them that I'm really not out of yet - not completely! I'm sure, if I mash really hard, I CAN squeeze just one more bit out of that toothpaste tube. I can always get more tomorrow, right?
Then there's the promises to myself - the great idea I had but didn't follow through on because I let negative self-talk get in my way. It may really be a fantastic idea, but then the put-down, self-defeating mind chatter rushes in with things like: "But, what will people think? Are you SURE you want to do that? I don't know, this could be way out of your league. What if you don't do it right?"
This Thanksgiving weekend I had an opportunity to "redeem" myself on all accounts. I went to the store with my mom to pick up several items I'd been needing and actually got all of them. Plus, I even picked up a couple of things I'd forgotten to put on the list!
With several performances and appointments already lined up over the long weekend, I was extremely careful about keeping my To-Do list to only a few tasks. Although, some things still took longer than I thought and I ran late a few times, I was able to keep the Overwhelm Monster at bay. That's a good thing!
And the best one of all.... Traveling on Thanksgiving day, the airports were pretty empty. I greatly appreciated the few pubs and news stands that were open during the layovers. Toward the end of the trip, before boarding the last plane, I was sitting in the restroom thinking about all this. There was an airport maintenance person dutifully cleaning one of the stalls. She did not see me come in.
I started thinking about how you have to pay to potty in Europe. It's either a required fee with an attendant collecting it, or there are tip jars at the sink with the attendant milling around "discreetly." I'd always taken offense to this. But sitting there in a freshly cleaned stall on Thanksgiving day, I began to think differently. Here was a lady who probably had family or friends she would much rather have been visiting with. But here she was, cleaning toilets in an empty airport. A thankless job at best.
My brain began to percolate..... What if I give her a tip? I thought back on the times I'd received surprise money and what it had meant to me. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I finished my business, got the tip money out and opened the door.
There she was, standing right outside my door. I felt the fear sweep over me and the mind chatter kicked in: "What will she think" What if she's insulted? This is a stupid idea. If you're going to do this, you should give her more, not this measly two dollars."
Then I thought about how I would feel if I let this opportunity slip by.
The next thing I knew, I was putting the money in her hand, looking into a pair of beautiful brown eyes and sincerely saying "thank you" to a fellow human being.
Sure, it was only a couple of dollars. But the look in her eyes, the warmth I felt in my heart, and the feeling of renewed trust in myself from following through with something beyond my comfort zone - these things were priceless.
Here's to continuing the Journey.... building trust and stepping outside the comfort zone.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Friday, November 19, 2004
I don't know if this has to do with being in the middle of "40 something" or not. But over the last year or so, I've started becoming more and more aware that what I do and say affects other people. And that getting involved in other people's lives, even in a small way, has an affect on them mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.
One of my core negative beliefs - and we all have at least one - is that I don't matter. This has colored my thinking and my decision making throughout my whole life. Intellectually I realize this is a false statement. And I've done a lot of work through the years changing this belief into an emotional knowledge that I DO matter. But like any work to change emotions and belief systems, it's a process - much like pealing an onion. We go through layers of change.
My first glimmer that I had hit a deeper level occurred a little over two years ago. I was teaching piano in Atlanta at the time, and was telling one of my adult piano students, in a rather matter-of-fact way, that I was moving to Huntsville. I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth when she suddenly burst into tears.
I was so stunned by the experience, I don't remember what I said afterward. Though, it was probably some type of "back peddling" trying to ease the emotional blow I'd just given her, and a little stuffing down the experience in my mind because I didn't know how to handle it.
But over the last several months the scene has resurfaced in my mind. I remember it vividly, like it just happened yesterday. I realize now that her reaction to me was much like my reaction to the important people and mentors in my life whenever they've told me they were leaving. I can still remember the sense of loss I felt with each one, knowing they would not be in my life anymore.
Yes. Our lives do affect other people.
This realization has also been reinforced though the funerals I've provided the music for during the past year. In each one, I've been moved by people talking about how much the deceased person meant in their lives. I've listened in awe as they tell stories of how this person touched their life, or how they saw this person make a difference in so many lives.
And to me, that is true success. That is how I want to be remembered.... And really, that is all I've ever wanted.... to make a difference in people's lives.
Yes. I see it now.... I DO have an effect on other people. And I will be more careful in my interactions with others.... because I matter.
Here's to continuing the Journey.... stepping out of the glass cage and joining humanity.
Friday, November 12, 2004
That's been my personal mantra since October when the string of fall performance opportunities began. I did pretty well keeping a tight practice schedule preparing for the first concert October 22, but I've slacked off since then. Now I'm down to the wire again with the three November concerts coming up..... Yikes!!
Maybe it's the "should be" part of the mantra that's not helping. It feels heavy and seems to carry an unspoken "but" after it....
- ... but I don't have time...
- ... but I need to do this other thing first...
- ... but I can't right now...
- ... but I'm not...
Looks like it's time for Tunnel-Vision Focus again..... In other words, I am mega stressed out now because, once again, I've waited until the last minute to get serious.
Why do I do this to myself?
I used to just laugh and jokingly say, "I love stress!" But the result is that I spend a good part of my life in a panic, holding on for dear life and praying that I don't loose my grip!
That's not fun anymore. It feels like I'm just barely getting by. I want more.
How can I change this? By making a different choice - choosing a different thought.
I am practicing. I easily and effortlessly make time to practice every day.There. That feels much lighter and doesn't have the resistance shadow around it.... I'll let you know how it goes!
Here's to continuing the Journey... and, by the way.... hold my calls - I am practicing!
Monday, November 08, 2004
Basically, the premise is this:
If you want to get more out of your life - be happier, more fulfilled, more at peace, etc - you must learn to tell the Truth to yourself and to others.
Tell The Truth.... Keep your word. Period.
During the course of the weekend, we were given several chances to keep our word. On Friday night, we all agreed to certain "disciplines" that we would keep throughout the weekend such as, be on time, not bring any candy or gum into the room, not talk to our neighbors during the session, not say certain cuss words, and many others. Then, at various points throughout the course, we were questioned on whether we had kept these disciplines or not.
This all seemed rather silly and a little "overboard" that first night. But by the end of the training, I got it.
I also discovered, much to my embarrassment, that I often make excuses for myself, insisting on the "gray area" as a cover to the fact that I did NOT follow through on what I said I would do. In the workshop, I did not tell the truth about following these disciplines exactly. I did not keep my word 100% of the time. Instead, I chose to hide out in the "gray area."
Truth is, I did bring candy into the room..... But I didn't do it on purpose! I didn't even realize it was in my purse until half way through the workshop! (... Notice the "gray area"...)
But neither did I check my purse to make sure there was none there after giving my word to not bring candy into the room. AND once I discovered it, I did not bother to take it out of my purse!
The "gray area" begins with excuses - excuses for why we didn't follow through on what we said we'd do. They often lead with our "buts":
- I know I said I'd do so-and-so, but....
- I meant to be on time, but....
- But, I didn't realize.... I didn't know....
- I was going to, but....
- I know the candy's there, but....
.... but I'm too embarrassed now to say anything. Besides, who's going to know?
Nobody - except me. I know that I did not have enough backbone to stand up and tell the Truth. How many other times have I done this in my life? Way too many.
How about you? How's your word? Are you telling the Truth to others? To yourself? Or are you hiding behind your embarrassment? Leading with your "buts"?
The candy is out of my purse now. I keep it in the cup holder of my car so that I can see it and be reminded to tell the Truth. Always. Period.
Here's to continuing the Journey, telling the Truth... and finding More to Life....
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Four things helped make the events of the next hour a success rather than an embarrassing disaster.....
- I only live two minutes away from where I needed to be...
- Yesterday's clothes were still laying out neatly across the dresser where I'd taken them off last night...
- The group I was to play the piano for were running late...
- A wonderful, life-saving gift called "winging it" that I seem to have an abundance of - and relied on heavily to get me through this!
Important aspects of "winging it" include the abilitiy to:
- make a quick assessment ot the situation
- devise a game plan, i.e. set list, on-the-fly
- dissolve from "hurried and harried" into "calm and confident" when you hit the stage
- open to Spirit and Divine Creativity for inspiration
- focus with tunnel-vision-precision on staying in-the-moment
In the end, the event was a success. I felt good about what I gave, and they were very appreciative of what they received. What more is there?
Well, actually, there is more. It's called "learning from the experience." This wonderful, unexpected experience has given me a fresh look at what I'm grateful for:
- musical gifts to share
- opportunities to share them
- on-line computer calenders with reminders
- audiences with slow clocks
- room to lay out my dirty clothes
- a body that moves quickly
- Toastmaster's and practice at impromptu speaking
- the ability to "wing it" gracefully
- unexpected adventures in the Journey
Here's to continuing the Journey... on the Wings of Gratitude.