Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do Nothing



There are turnaround moments in our lives, some monumental and some mundane.  Sometimes we know without a doubt when we experience one, some take days or months or weeks to catch up to us as such.

Last week I had a quiet night at home with my sweetie.  Neither of us had any plans on the evening, and ended up just doing our own thing, with him in his office and me downstairs.  I’ve been trying hard lately to separate my “work” hours from my “off work” hours (mostly to make sure that I actually have some off work hours!) and that evening I was trying to figure out what to do with the ones I had.

Innocently enough I started looking around the house for little chores I could get done or fun projects I could do, and it began to strike me that everywhere I looked were items or areas taunting me with obligational guilt, i.e. I was completely surrounded by “I should’s.”  It escalated, rather quickly, to the point where I was frantically pacing around the house feeling like I was in one of those horror movie scenes where everywhere the character turns there’s another scary thing in a quick zoom lens knocking them in the face ‘til either they go insane or the camera blacks out.

Seemingly small things had added up to make an overwhelming weight for me, and I was paralyzed to do anything at all about any of them.  I called my mom to try and calm down, and she asked me for an example of the “small things” I was referring to.  I went to a random surface in the bedroom and began naming off everything I saw there and why it was something else that “I should be doing.”  Then she asked me another good question.

What advice would you suggest to your readers if they were to find themselves in a situation like this?  What would you advise them to do?

After a second of contemplating this shiny new thought I practically yelled, “Chill out!  I would tell them to do nothing!”  

That was precisely what I needed to do.  That state of complete overwhelm and panic is a terrible place to do anything from, sometimes even impossible.  Once I surrendered to that notion, I tried relaxing on the couch playing my favorite game on Will’s phone.  Couldn’t do it.  Then I tried reading, but the second I opened the book I couldn’t do that either.  Nothing, Shawnee.  Just sit there, and be still.  Do...nothing.  Not as easy as it sounds, though I had NO idea it would be that difficult!  ...And I will confess that I never actually succeeded.  Thank God for midnight and a comfy bed ;)  

I know many of us can get so driven that it’s hard to get off the productivity train, even when it’s stalled out and stopped dead on the tracks.  It’s hard not to feel like every minute that goes by without something else getting done is five minutes wasted.  

My only flash of solace during this experience was, at my mom’s suggestion, to go around and make a list of every thing, big or small, that was the source of a “should” in my surroundings.  Hence began my daily fun of the Super Duper Ultimate To-Do List!  :)  It’s on a spread sheet on my computer, and I mark off the day something gets done, so I can organize it by day, with all the things I’ve already done at the top.  Sure, my list is well over 100 items long, including tasks, household or otherwise, of varying size (“make a new record” is right there next to vacuum the stairs), BUT in just a few days over 30 of those things got done!  I decided not to care how small something was.  As long as I determined it was taking up brain space, it qualified.  

Even if a list is long, at least then it’s quantifiable.  I much prefer to have it all written down where I can see it, rather than just feel the ominous presence of an unidentified shadow.

Ok then, I’m off to cross out “Write Thursday’s blog” now ;)

I wish you a beautiful day.  (And a little bit of nothing.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feel Good



“When I do good, I feel good.
  When I do bad, I feel bad.
  That’s my religion.”

  ~Abraham Lincoln

I love this quote, and I think it works the other way too.  When I feel good, I do goodWhen I feel bad, I do bad.

I’m not far enough along yet to claim that I truly understand the law of attraction....but I definitely believe in it....to whatever degree I am capable of in the midst of whatever it is that's going on.  I only know what I have experienced and I know that when I feel super down I can’t very well do much of anything.  It's harder to be productive.  It’s harder to be kind, harder to reach out.  It’s harder to take good care of myself.  It’s harder to leave the house (I’ve heard this is important to do ;)

I’ve been realizing lately that there are so many little ways I can take better care of myself and I just don’t.  I know what makes me feel good and I know what makes me feel bad, so why do I do so much of (the wrong) one and so little of the other?  I can feel bad about my skin, but do I actually take the time to properly wash (and love!) my face before bed?  I can feel bad about all the sugar I eat, but do I actually not eat it?  (What in God’s name do I think will happen if don’t eat the entire bag of chocolate covered strawberries I got in my stocking in one sitting?)  

Feeling good is magical, straight up.  Feeling good means everything.  It means having an open heart so that you may receive.  It means being in alignment with this incredible and indescribably beautiful universe.  It means that you’re less focused on you and more focused on the amazing life force that runs through you.  It means knowing that you are a beautiful human being and you deserve good things.  It means having the confidence to acknowledge your dreams, the confidence to see opportunities to get closer to them, and then the confidence to try.  

Of course you’re not ever going to feel good all the time, but getting back there should always be priority.  Buy that $6 sweater from Goodwill, take the time to make that delicious salad for lunch (instead of just snacking on those chocolate covered strawberries), spend that extra $1 for the fancy coffee you really want, wash your sheets, hug your chickens.  Do whatever you need to do to feel good.  The world will be a better place for it.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Showing Up



Well, we hopped on a plane and jet setted off to NYC for the weekend to see a performance of my sweetie’s favorite record, Paris 1919 by John Cale.  Sure, why not?  I’m getting a bit better about traveling, about not stressing so much about leaving home.  Home is safe; home is secure.  I may just be a healthy shut in (there is such a thing, right??) or I may be afraid of the sheer vulnerability of venturing out into the world.  I’m pretty sure it’s a little of both.

I wonder how many adventures, big and small, that I miss out on ‘cause I’m scared, whether it be something as big as Folk Alliance or something as small as a potluck.  What if?  What if I feel uncomfortable?  What if I don’t know what to say?  What if I make a bad impression on someone?  What if I’m just so stuck in my brain that I’m not present and then beat myself up over it later?  Silly, isn’t it?  But I know that so many of us do that to ourselves.  We’re afraid of the unknown, and therefore we opt to stay away.  Just in case.  

Adventures mean change.  Adventures mean growth.  Adventures mean taking chances and accepting that no matter what happens, at least you know you showed up.  Sure, home is safe and secure (for most of us), but most of us also long to be out in the world as well, to imprint and be imprinted upon.  

Showing up is the hardest part, and yet it’s the part we can plan and rely upon most.  Chances are real good you’ll be glad that you did.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Stop and Go

Sometimes I feel like my life is one big game of stop and go.  Maybe that's healthy to point, but what happens when there's too much stopping and not enough going?  At the risk of repeating an analogy that makes a lot of sense to me, too much stopping is like pausing a song after every line to reflect on it, without allowing yourself the experience of hearing the song in its entirety.

It's important to have a balance, between adventure and reflection.  If you're going, going, going all the time it's easy to miss the meaning of your experiences and what you've learned from them, because the next thing is already there.  But, if you never allow for adventure you'll inevitably be stuck reflecting on a past that well over by now.

I find myself spending so much time hesitating....just hesitating: second-guessing, rethinking, worrying about the potential worst outcomes of things I put out into the world (and often jumping ship when I find a strong dislike of the worst worst one!).  Some things should be well thought out, absolutely, and others (like that funny post you're making on facebook)....well, just don't need to take up that much time and energy.

We all want to have an effect on the world, but in general we want it to be positive.  With exceptions, of course, no one wants to say or do anything that leaves a negative impression, and we definitely want to leave a good first one.  Some of us are far more cautious than others when it comes to that, and the fear can leave some people paralyzed, never actually gaining the confidence to make any impression at all.

Life is ever flowing, and it's a much more pleasant experience if we let ourselves flow with it.  It's good to take time to rest and reflect, but usually we can get away with coasting for a bit when we need to, rather than slamming on the brakes and shutting the whole thing down 'til we know exactly what we're doing again.

I don't know about you, but I rarely know exactly what I'm doing.....though usually there's some kind of light on the horizon, towards which my heart knows to aim my feet.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Beautiful Start to a Beautiful Year



Well well well, what have we here?
A beautiful start to a beautiful year.
I do believe with all my heart that there is only one direction life can go, and that the nature of the universe is to be better and better all the time.  There is no limit to how happy we can be.  No need to hold back for fear that we're going to use all of it up, or hit the peak of the hill just to roll down the other side to our bored and unhappy demise.  
Sometimes I worry that I'm running out.  Sometimes I worry that the world is running out.  Of what?  Of resources, of creativity, of new ideas, of general Good Things.  For every good song that is written that's one less good song in the pot.  For every creative endeavor that's one less thing that can be discovered.  Isn't it?  
I spent much of last year working my way out of that mindset.  And thank God, 'cause it sure was a heavy thing to carry.  I began to feel a bit ashamed that I would ever accuse the Universe of being anything less than infinite.  I began to feel tremendously excited and humbled to think of how many things people think of to create and then never do.  What if?  What if everybody created everything they ever dreamed of creating?  That is what joyfully calls me into this year. 
I vow this year to be kinder to myself.  
I vow to judge less and give more.
I vow to do more of what I love and less of what I don't. 
I vow to let go of everything, and know I cannot keep something that was never meant to stay.
I vow to breathe. 
I vow to look in the mirror often and say, "Shawnee, you can do it.  And Shawnee, I love you."
I vow to live more and hesitate less.
I vow to be happier than I've ever been.