Still Deciding What You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

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        Did you know what career you wanted when you were a kid?  I remember hearing friends say they wanted to be teachers and my thought was always: “Yuck, the last thing I want to do is teach when I’m a grown up!  I can’t wait to graduate!”  My favorite parts of school were P.E., music, art, and recess.  Sometimes I liked language arts.  

        At age 17, I had a big shift and decided I loved the positive energy of young children, so I did the unthinkable and decided to become a teacher.  I taught after school, kindergarten, preschool, dance, tutored kids in English and Spanish.  Meanwhile, I juggled managing an apartment complex, occasional choreographing and consulting with a local dance company, parent coaching and between jobs worked the occasional office job planning events, running background checks, and handling data entry.  I haven’t exactly done just one thing.

Can you relate? 

In the “personal” section of your resume, have you ever felt limited in keeping it to just a few hobbies or interests?  If so, hello fellow Multipotentialite.

        I’ve often struggled with this lack of expertise.  On good days I like to think of myself as a renaissance woman.  When I’m not so on top of my emotional A-game, I feel like the “mediocre at lots of things, expert at nothing” type.  

        Having graduated from yoga teacher training 3 days ago and currently having a personal monthly income of approximately $0, it seems like it’s probably time to start bringing in some revenue.  While yoga instruction is definitely something I’m excited to pursue, I have a feeling it’s not the only job I want to pursue.  So a big question: what else and how do I figure that out?

        Tonight I encountered a thoughtful Ted talk by career coach and fellow multipotentialite, Emilie Wapnick, that shed some new light on this consideration.  Emilie encourages people to be honest about who they are and follow their inclinations, whether as a multipotentialite or specialist.  She explains that both are valuable in the workplace.  She offers some much appreciated street cred to those of us who don’t want to pick one job for life.  She explains that this hopping from one place to another creates “Super Powers” of: adaptability, rapid learning, and idea synthesis.

So if you too are wondering: what do I do with my life?!?  Maybe grab a copy of the perennial favorite What Color is Your Parachute? , listen to Emilie Wapnick’s tedtalk, do a little journaling about your skills and interests and see if you find some intriguing parallels that offer a lead or two.

Best of luck to us on our journey.  Cheers!

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Allowing Time to Grieve

 

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Disclaimer: today’s post is unfiltered.  I try to keep things tactful, upbeat and relatable to as many people as possible.  But today I just want to be open.  Today I’m experiencing my third miscarriage- and it sucks -to say the least.

Apparently about 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, which means a lot of people can relate: women who have wanted a baby, women who were terrified to learn they were pregnant (me the first time around 10 year ago), perhaps you had an abortion and felt great pain, fear or loss through that. Then there are you men who may have been in similar boats in terms of facing fatherhood.  It is definitely different -not experiencing all these changes in your body- but losing a child pre-term is something a lot of us have experienced, so today I am speaking to loss, and for me it is in this way, unapologetically indiscreet.

For those of you who know this pain, my heart is with you: broken, open, raw and wrapped around you.  In the past month I have been touched by the connection I’ve experienced and witnessed with my classmates who have shared very real heartbreak of various kinds.  In the process I realized I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep things looking pristine and perfect- exactly what I loathed as an adolescent and preteen.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to stay positive and keep things upbeat.  Generally I am really happy, but that’s not the case in this moment.

Today I’m grateful for a blue sunny sky out my window, for my cuddly dog, Naya, who patiently waited for me to finish cleaning my yoga mat with my salty tears before comforting me with her compassionate kisses and cuddles.  I’m grateful for the surprise love note my husband left for me on our laptop, for salad, dark chocolate and fruit.  For the chance to be self aware enough that I notice the subtle changes in my body.  pinkroseAnd I’m grateful to know that although today is hard and I feel pretty shitty, there are many days behind and hopefully ahead full of joy and feeling better -physically and emotionally.

So when you have a day, a week, a month or season of life that you feel shitty, I’m sorry.  It’s okay to own it.  I hope you’ll still find some things to be grateful for and remember not every day is just like today.

Today I send you my love and hope for a happier tomorrow.

Manifesting Your Magnificence

Brightly shining rays  

Masked by “should be’s” and “to-do’s”  

What will you peel off?

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Do you realize how great you are?  How awesome your talents, passions, quirks and curiosities are that make you you?  For a long time, I didn’t.  I pined for compliments but struggled to actually let them in.  It wasn’t for a lack of love from others.  It’s just hard to feel love from outside  when you don’t accept yourself.  As I’ve worked towards appreciating and accepting who I am, it has helped to consider what traits I particularly value in myself and others, and letting those shine.

American yogi, Baron Baptiste, poses the question:

“What do you want to manifest?”

As I began to contemplate and journal about this, I pondered what manifest means.  How often is the term used as “how others perceive someone”?  Yet, consider for a moment, how manifesting something isn’t just acknowledged, but how it actually impacts people.

Looking at the sun, one might say it manifests light.  My perception is that I see light.  Yet my skin feels warmth.  Plants receive nourishment.  Your emotions can actually be lifted to a more cheerful state and alert/wakefulness is more prone to align with light than darkness.  These are just a few ways the sun’s light impacts us.  So…

 How could you make a difference in the world through what you emit?

Think of Gandhi, a human with true purpose and sense of self.  Can anyone know all the details of responsibilities he held, relationships he maintained, words he spoke?  Yet, consider how many people know what his sense of purpose was.  He was a bold human rights activist.  His life centered around bringing awareness to others that people with brown skin should be treated with the same liberties and respect as people with lighter colored pigmentation.  He manifested human dignity, progress through pacifism and equal rights.  These ideas were not just people’s perception of him.  These were the rays he spread, brightening the world so that others felt his passion and joined in the movement.  Change came to India, the British Empire and the world because one person, to start out, was willing to recognize and unabashedly share his passion.

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There was only one Gandhi.  I certainly don’t aim to replicate who he was and all he accomplished.  You and I can, however, decide what we want to manifest.  Day by day, with focus, we can hone in on how to shine with a sense of purpose.   We can peel away distractions, responsibilities we put on ourselves that aren’t really necessary, biases or prejudices, fears, habits and even addictions that prevent us from remembering, expressing and being what we truly want to be about.

So far, I’ve narrowed down that I want to manifest love.  I surmise that this yearning to share love is strong due to years of depression, self-loathing and a sense of inadequacy.  I know all too well what a lack of love feels like. I know many of us can relate by being in or having been through that lonely place.  So I want to give and facilitate for all people a sense of self-love, acceptance, and openness to feel the love of others.     That is what I wish to spread on the earth.

What do you want to share?

Taking or Giving: the earth?

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,

We borrow it from our children.

-Native American Proverb

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Asteya is the Sanskrit term for “non-stealing”.  I was recently invited to consider this concept.  Initially my reflection was concise: I don’t steal, that’s pretty basic.  But with more consideration and reading about world events, I started to ponder the the proverb about borrowing the earth from our children.  The question arose:

Am I borrowing or stealing the earth from future generations?

How we treat the planet today impacts what is left in 5 years and 5 millennia.  This planet has an amazing way of healing itself and on top of that, ecological change is inevitable.  A volcanic eruption will cause far more harm to the air than all the driving you could possibly do in one lifetime.  And yet, does that dismiss the part you and I play, however small, in caring for the earth and its inhabitants?

We all have a different role to play in the grand scheme.  Each person makes a difference; at least to a few people, plants, perhaps even animals, you make a difference in the lives of those around you, as well as those  influenced by the people and creatures you impact.

How do you feel inclined to impact the planet?

Have you appreciated the crisp smell of the cooling air?  

Do you conserve energy by turning out lights when you leave a room?  

Will you grow herbs, flowers or a tree to clean the air and brighten the day of someone who passes your home on a grueling commute each day?

We aren’t all meant to be global activists to the extent of Vandana Shiva, but by listening to your inner truth –you may think of this as “following your gut reaction”– can bring out a little better version of yourself and help shape a world that is a bit more welcoming than you first found it.  

Will you remove a bit of its beauty or offer a brighter planet to those yet to come?

 

Learning through Loss

We all experience times of loss: when life takes an unexpected turn that throws you for a loop.  Sometimes there is no way to foresee the wrench life will throw at you, but you can decide how you handle it.  

I recently encountered some of these twists: the first one rocked my life plans and initially struck me as a very pleasant shift.  Six weeks later, another large “surprise” arrived, but one I was not so eager to welcome.  I tend to think of myself as a person who loves surprises, but Tony Robbins shed some light on this topic for me in his Ted Talk:

“You like the surprises you want. The ones you don’t want, you call problems, but you need them.”

So here I am, swimming through the “problems” Mr. Robbins says I need. I could wallow and wonder why this struggle is happening to me, but what good would that do? Following the mindful tradition, I allow myself to accept the emotions that come. There are moments of despair, times of questioning, and even occasions of recognizing the positives that exist due to recent changes as well. There are multiple ways of looking at any situation. I’m inclined to cling to ideas I like. However, to work through struggles, I have to consider multiple perspectives and try to see the big picture.

In his book, Zen Shorts, Jon J. Muth illustrates this Buddhist concept with his parable: “The Farmer’s Luck.”

There was once an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.  One day, his horse ran away.  Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.  “Maybe,” the farmer replied.  The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses.  “Such good luck!” the neighbors exclaimed.  “Maybe,” replied the farmer.  The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg.  Again, the neighbors came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.  “Such bad luck,” they said.  “Maybe,” answered the farmer.  The day after that, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight in a war.  Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.  “Such good luck!” cried the neighbors.  “Maybe,” said the farmer.

I think we can all attest to similar ebbs and flows in our supposed “good luck” department.  We never can quite imagine what is around the bend, but I do find a flow of increasing positivity comes to those who focus on goodness, and downward spin for those who wallow in anger, fear, or self-care at the detriment of others.

Brazilian lyricist and novelist, Paulo  Coelho shared: “I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”

Whether stormy weather or stormy circumstances, we each get to decide how we handle the unexpected.  Will you stay weighed down in the weight of misery, or allow those painful feelings to flow through you, then allow them pass and move on?  I hope you will allow life’s clouds, at times light and in other moments dark, to cast their shadows and then blow on by.  Acknowledge the hurt, then move on and take in the moments of sunshine.  

There is always light above the clouds.

 

  1. Photo by Elijah Henderson, Clarksville, United States. https://unsplash.com/photos/DMED-sOt1Ak

 

  1.      2. The Kingdom, Sun above Clouds, 2008 © Seb Janiak

 

Who Helps You Shine

March is a month of change: winter is peeling away and starting to reveal early hints of spring.  Birds begin to sing again, the clocks change, and for teachers, conference reports are written and we reunite with families to discuss their children’s growth.  It has always been a heavy struggle.  Early mornings, late nights, long days of work with anxiety riding over my head and a lack of productivity and/or foresight to balance good self-care and the added workload.

This year, however, is proving different.  With new goals and outlook, a stronger and happier relationship than I’ve ever enjoyed, and a more holistic approach, the weight seems lighter.  Last night, after finishing a very productive, healthy, happy day, while tucking into bed at a decent hour (a new thing for me), my mind wandered around the changes in this March’s inception.  There are numerous factors, but it all seemed to boil down to the quote above.  My best friend makes a HUGE difference in my life.  He is generally very quiet, engages with relatively few people.  I am certainly the more extroverted in our pair, a bit of a social butterfly at times, and yet, he is the world to me and has helped my foundation settle.  We are moving and growing all the time, yet the partnership and joy is solid.

Is there a person in your life who stands as your rock?  Who helps you see the sun is shining when you might not otherwise?  If you haven’t today, I hope you tell that person.  If it is you, give yourself credit for the independence and self-care you provide.  We all deserve to love ourselves –as well as others.  May we express our gratitude and share our happiness and achievements with those who help us on our journey each day.

 

How Do You Embrace Today?

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Carpe diem! Embrace the moment!  YOLO!

Times and phrasing may change, but the concept of being present and taking full advantage of life has long been a concept humans have pondered.  This past week was one of traveling with a group of loved ones -new and old- who had never vacationed together. It was a time of learning, exploring, and developing new perspectives.

We all have very different internal paces, curiosities and degrees of wanting to venture and learn.  Whether it is a trip, working on a team project at work , or even going out for a  a date, considering our differences can make a significant impact on the experience. Debra Paulson writes about the Zen principle of accepting rather than struggling in moments where you may find discord.  Detaching from your wants allows you to relinquish your experience of anxiety, anger, or disappointment when something feels out of sorts.

Standing in mass crowds at Disney World certainly knocked me with initial stress.  I then took a breath and started to rearrange my focus from my crowd anxiety to appreciating the hand gently holding mine, the interesting people watching opportunities, the ducks chasing each other on the grass and the immaculately tended grounds filled with luscious greenery and placid bodies of water.

We can approach each situation a little differently.  We can ask questions to help us prepare for what is to come.  We can even be honest with ourselves about our preferences in life and seek them out.  Ultimately, life will toss us armfuls of surprises and our approach, focus, and acceptance will likely have a far greater impact on our experiences than the challenges and eases that come our way.

May we appreciate the ease of the expected,

approach something new and exciting, and

find joy in the surprises we may not have wished for,

squirmy clients, crowded lines, and unforeseen smiling faces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

River of Expectations

Do you value being…..

“Careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream.

Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.

Courteous as a guest.

Fluid as melting ice.

Shapable as a block of wood.

Receptive as a valley.

Clear as a glass of water.”?

(Tao Te Ching.15)

I am often drawn to exploring unfamiliar cultures, mindsets and expectations.  On a daily basis, I am surrounded with generosity, care, and plenty.  Yet somehow I suffer from a sense of feeling let down.  This weekend, as I pondered new ideas and experiences, I had to confront the propaganda that I discovered have largely shaped my expectations.  They have also led to a series of disappointments on those less-infrequent-than-I’d-like occasions when expectations have proved unmet.

Eventually this contemplative journey led me to the gate of my disappointment.  Self-imposed priorities were damning the joyful river of life I usually ride.  I’m still asking myself if I can release these holds, or if whether I can find ways to meet them.  The sense of urgency to resolve this discomfort is tangible.  However, some processes take time, and I own that expectations are one part of my life that require patient formation, reshaping, and at times even dissolving.

It is through considering what truly makes us happy that we can determine what our priorities and expectations would most productively be invested in.  Yoga Blogger Amanda Christian embraces the go-getter approach.  She writes:

The first thing I do when I feel any disturbance to my peace of mind is say to myself, “I am determined to see this person/situation differently.” This is how you step into your power. Everything happens for you, not to you.

An alternative viewpoint comes from the Tao Te Ching (# 15):

          “Do you have the patience to wait

           till your mud settles and the water is clear?

          Can you remain unmoving

          till the right action arises by itself?”

Is it possible that there is a middle ground?  I tend to find myself somewhere between these two stances.  I acknowledge discomfort, consider the root causes, not just surface instigators.  I’m interested in remedies more than band aids.  Life’s impressions on my pensive soul have left a high regard for allowing time to settle many momentary concerns.  Yet, time does not heal all wounds.  A look at the conflicts of racism and religion that have continued for millennia are testaments of that.  However, there is something to be said for allowing time rather than rushing situations or remediation, for acting deliberately more often than reacting, and giving others the respect to work through matters at their own pace.

We are all like flowing bodies of water, sharing this life-giving orb.  Some may be broad, others narrow, some deep while some are shallow.  May we honestly reflect on the breadth, depth, and pace at which our lives bring us the most fulfillment.  And may we honor the differences in one another’s flow.

Plethora of Perspectives

Do you ever find yourself analyzing a situation, resolving it in your mind, and growing emotional about how someone’s choice that impacts you in the situation is clearly “wrong”?  Whether it’s with politics, work, your friends or family, we all run into moments of disliking the choices another makes that impact us in some way.

Why are we so convinced that our own perspective is right?

I recently read an adaptation of Rumi’s poem “Elephant in the Dark” and found it eye opening on this matter.  A group of people, curious about what creature has be placed in a dark room, decide they cannot wait, but must reveal the room’s contents.  One by one they enter, each eager to uncover the mystery, each sure of what she has found.  One feels the ear- like a large fan.  Another feels its long, curving trunk-it must be like a snake.  Someone else encounters one of its thick, strong legs-it is solid and wide like a tree trunk.  Each person  is sure he leaves the darkness with a firm understanding of what the creature is.  Yet with their limited perspectives, none grasp the full measure of the elephant.

This past weekend, I found myself in several situations in which the involved parties grew emotionally charged and all had their own perspectives: with colleagues reflecting on a workshop, my partner as we discussed communication styles, even my dog as we walked. 

A small illustration: Last night, Naya, my dear canine companion, was absolutely convinced that she needed to lick whatever was stuck to the street.  I had no idea what the substance was, but a) I was sure I didn’t want her tongue running along the foreign substance and we had somewhere else to go –right then– as I saw it.  I called.  She tried to hold her stance.  I started to walk away, she continued anxiously licking.  What was more important in that moment: moving on or embracing what I perceived as appalling and perhaps sickness inducing, or what Naya thought was an absolutely delectable road treat?  She licked and scraped.  I walked forward.  Eventually she followed and fortunately no sign of sickness has appeared- at least yet.  We certainly saw things differently.

I often present my  challenges to one or two people to hear their opinions when I’m upset about something, just to get some alternate views.  Like looking through a fly’s eye.  Consider how many different angles and slightly different views a fly perceives when looking at a given image. If we’re being “open minded,” we may consider more than one side of any situation, but how many opinions and perspectives are we actually willing to consider?

How often do we remember to consider and look through others’ lenses?

While perusing some of photographer Jon Sanwell’s recent work from Myanmar, I encountered a series of photographs of betel leaves in baskets, including the one below.  Just from my own lens, I initially thought about the beautiful shades of jade green, the eye-catching angle of the shot, the juxtaposed glossy leaves and natural matte finish of the wicker baskets.  I wondered why someone would so carefully stack all the leaves in spirals around the containers.  But perhaps some people look at these leaves as the means to fitting in (chewing betel is a popular social practice in the region), the destroyer of their loved one’s health (betel is carcinogenic), or maybe just a really unique way to capture a part of Southeast Asia.  That’s just some of what I considered.  What are your thoughts looking at this photograph?

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So the next time you find yourself frustrated, hurt, confused, or even elated, consider how others are impacted by the situation and your actions.  Perhaps you will listen and learn a thing or two from someone with a different take.  Remember, everyone’s lens is unique.