One year ago today, my first grandchild was born. She is at that age where everything is fascinating, from fish in an aquarium to an empty water bottle. She fights sleep because she has so much yet to explore. She jabbers intently about whatever it is going on in her little head. She loves to entertain doting adults with antics from making faces to shaking her head “no.” How quickly time changed her from the sweet, sleeping infant to a mobile, full-of-personality, baby girl! Happy Birthday, Aurelia! Grandma loves you!
Today I am celebrating 2 years of blogging on WordPress. When I received my anniversary “award” today, it made me think of my blogging path. I started my original blog 2 years ago, wrote one post, and didn’t post again for nearly a year (6 days shy to be exact).
When I began writing again, I posted nearly every day for 2 months. I had a buddy who kept me accountable, which I have found is an excellent way to support myself in meeting a goal. Even though I was blogging, I was keeping it private. My husband said that’s a diary. (For those of you who read my blog, I apologize for repeating that line so many times… but it makes me laugh.)
Eight months later, I made another writing agreement and enlisted a third force (this time it is a Yearlong Agreement Group) to hold me accountable. I began this year with a more ambitious goal… to write every day this year. I am adding the discipline of posting my writing onto my blog. So far I have kept my agreement. In fact, I started two days early.
In these first 7 weeks of 2014 I have accomplished more than I had in the previous 22 months. I joined the Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog challenge. It helped me make lots of improvements to my blog (including linking to my Facebook page) in just one month. It also helped me connect with the blogging community, which has been invaluable.
I added Wisdom Wednesday to my format. Every Wednesday, I share a quote that inspires me. I also joined the Phoneography Challenge: Your Phone as Your Lens to break up the monotony a bit. For this challenge, there are different subjects for each Monday of the month. I am enjoying it even more than I thought I would.
In the future, this blog will be connected with my coaching practice and will be an access point for my first e-book (hopefully before my third anniversary). In the meantime I want to wish a Happy Anniversary to me!
I only respond to these prompts occasionally, but this one really struck a chord with me. In fact, my sole purpose for beginning this blog was to begin working toward my ultimate job. My blogs’s title, Help Along the Path, is what I see as my life’s purpose. My current job fulfills this purpose to a degree. But the prompt asks to describe our ultimate job.
In my ultimate job, I help others realize their dreams by walking alongside them as they overcome obstacles, such as fear or a feeling of being stuck. By helping my clients discover what they really want, assisting them in designing a plan of action, and holding them accountable, I help them reach goals they didn’t initially think they could.
As I begin working toward my ultimate job, a full-time career as an Elite Life Coach, I am utilizing the same process I will use with my clients. I’ve already clarified what I want. I have devised a plan of action, and I am putting it into place. Friends are holding me accountable to agreements I’ve made with myself (one of which is posting on this blog daily).
As I embark on this journey, I look forward to the day when I have the freedom that being self-employed affords. (And I have been self-employed, so I understand what this really means.) I also look forward to watching others achieve their wildest dreams… and helping them along the path.
The word “problem” has its roots in Latin and means “something thrown forward.”
I spent much of yesterday working on a particular problem I have been trying to solve. I came up with a plan of action and have focused on how I will feel when I have completed the plan. Had it not been for this supposed problem, I would not be looking forward to the abundance and freedom that will come as a result of the actions I will now take.
From this perspective, problems help us move forward, or grow. So as we improve ourselves, we don’t cease to have problems. We just get bigger, juicier problems. So what’s your problem?
Someone once explained the subtle difference between motivation and discipline in the following way. Motivation is doing what you need to do, when you need to do it, because you want to do it. Discipline is doing what you need to do, when you need to do it, even when you don’t want to do it.
This came to mind tonight as I prepared for this post. Most of the time I am very motivated to write. Today, however, I was not able to write earlier in the day, and now I am tired and do not feel like writing. So tonight I am writing because, although I may not be motivated to do so, I am disciplined. And ironically enough, this anecdote was enough to fulfill my agreement with myself to post daily.
During a particularly tough time in my life, I was having a conversation with my dad. I told him that I felt like I was just making it from crisis to crisis. I had already grown accustomed to hearing my father telling me, “It’s going to be all right, Baby.” So his answer was a bit of a surprise.
He said, “Welcome to life!” He said it without an ounce of negativity. It was as if he was congratulating me for discovering the key to something wonderful. And in a way, I was.
What I learned from his response, was to look at what I had once perceived as problems in a different light. I had always thought of myself as resilient and resourceful, so I began to think of crises as opportunities to exercise my problem solving skills.
While I still experience events in my life that I would not have chosen from the infinite possibilities out there, I have learned to maintain a positive outlook and enjoy each day regardless of what it holds. So rather than living from crisis to crisis, I live each day as it comes and find the good in every one of them, deal with what needs to be dealt with, and then let it all go until the gift another day arrives.
When I was a single mother, I set up a corner of my bedroom as a place to write and meditate. It consisted of a chair and table nestled in the corner of my bedroom where two windows met. The windows overlooked bird-filled trees and a creek in the backyard. On the table, I kept a journal and pencils (my preferred writing instrument), an incense burner, a candle, whatever books I was currently reading, and some flowers. I also kept a guitar nearby. Even with four kids at home, this was my refuge.
When I remarried, I wanted to replicate my little haven in my new home. There is a window in the corner of the bedroom, so I placed a chair and table there. This table consists of books, a candle, a couple of horse figurines that had belonged to my dad, and a pile of dimes (another post). Nearby is monitor and microphone. I used this area mostly for meditation and a place to focus when I am on a conference call or doing some other task requiring concentration or quiet.
When I was single, I could go to my corner any time and often meditated first thing in the morning. I was a very early riser, usually up before anyone else and often by 4:00 A.M. As it turns out, my husband is an early riser as well, a very light sleeper, and NOT one to meditates. I began to feel self-conscious during my sitting practice, thinking about him waking up and seeing me meditating… which of course defeats the purpose. So, I began retreating to the living room for my morning sitting while my husband showered.
One morning, as I sat cross-legged on the couch, with the lights off and a blanket wrapped around my shoulders to keep out the early morning draught, I heard our bedroom door open. I tried to turn my attention back to my breath, but I could hear him coming closer. I did not move, hoping he might be heading to the kitchen. A moment later I felt him plop down on the couch right beside me. He placed his head on my shoulder and looked up at me. In the perky sing-song tone of a little child, he asked, “Whatcha doin’?”
Stifling a laugh, I responded, “I WAS meditating.”
Clearly embarrassed, he immediately got up, apologized, and left the room. I remained in my sitting position and finished my meditation. Afterward I had a laugh with my husband. As awkward as this was, it wasn’t the last incident.
A few weeks later, thinking my husband wouldn’t look for me in my son’s bedroom, I slipped off for some sitting practice. I left the light off and the door cracked slightly open. A few minutes into my meditation, I heard him opening doors in the house one at a time, even opening the front door and stepping outside for a moment. He was looking for me. I giggled to myself and continued sitting. Eventually, I could sense him peeking into my sons room and then gingerly walking away.
My husband and I have had many laughs over this story, and we have both learned some lessons. I, for one, have learned to be more direct… simply tell my husband that I am going to be meditating. I think my husband has learned that if I am sitting in the dark with my eyes closed, I am probably meditating.
Growing up in an alcoholic home, peace was something I didn’t get to experience much. Even if things were quiet, I perpetually anticipated a coming storm. I didn’t understand this about myself until I was in my early forties.
I recreated this constant sense of dread by marrying an alcoholic… and this was the least of our problems. My second marriage was not to an alcoholic, but to someone whose inability to manage himself closely resembled the behaviors of an addict. My purpose here is not to place blame, but to note that my own addiction to chaos was preventing me from enjoying the very peace that I claimed to want in my life.
In my quest for peace, that I realized I really didn’t know what it felt like. In fact, someone once said to me that no matter what was going on, I never looked ruffled. I had to confess that it was often in these times, there was a tempest swirling around inside of me.
In order to experience peace, I began meditating… and sometimes simply sitting on my back deck doing nothing. I began to realize that for the first time since I could remember, there was no drama in my life. I also realized that this was an odd feeling. I started to make the connection that, in the past, when this odd feeling arose, my remedy was to create some chaos so I could feel normal again. Of course I did not do this on a conscious level.
After several years of practicing being at peace, I can say that I am quite good at it. I have also learned that part of staying at peace is forgiving others because they were only doing what they knew with the information they had at the time. An even bigger portion of my peace comes from forgiving myself, for the very same reason.
Peace be with you as you leave your broken childhood behind…
Peace be with you as you spread your wings and fly from a happy childhood home…
Peace be with you as you find your way in life…
Peace be with you as you flit from job to job, class to class, relationship to relationship, looking for that “just right” one…
Peace be with you as you settle into routine…
Peace be with you as you welcome your own children into the world…
Peace be with you as you raise your children better than your parents raised you…
Peace be with you as you raise your children exactly as you were raised…
Peace be with you as you push your children out of the nest to soar on their own strong wings…
Peace be with you as your children climb back into the nest because the world isn’t ready for them, or they aren’t ready for the world…
Peace be with you as you struggle with your parents’ health issues, or your own health, or God forbid, your child’s health…
Peace be with you as you bask in the unconditional love of grandchildren and the pure joy of knowing you can send them back to their own parents when you’re tired… except you’re never tired around them…
Peace be with you if you have no children, or fur children, or nieces and nephews that you influence and nurture…
Peace be with you as you travel the world and learn the perspective of someone whose life hasn’t been as blessed as your own…
Peace be with you as you struggle to pay your bills and keep a roof over your head…
Peace be with you as you suffer the loss of loved ones dear to you, friends and acquaintances, too… for all touched your heart while they shared their time and space with you…
Peace be with you as you enjoy the sunset of your life… celebrating your accomplishments and forgiving yourself your failures, because in every failure there was a lesson learned…
Peace be with you always as you wander your life’s path… wherever that path may lead you..
Today’s Daily Prompt, “Happy Endings”, from The Daily Post asked that we reflect on a time when we tried to quit something. It brought to mind the struggle I faced a couple of years ago with trying to quit a job. I was extremely unhappy, as were many of the people with which I worked. In retrospect, I was responsible for the position in which I found myself. Back then, I was convinced that I was a victim.
In my twelve years of teaching, there had been ups and downs. But during that last year, I dreaded going to work in the morning. By the end of the school year, entering the building brought on panic attacks. During the last week of school I sent my husband a text message telling him that I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. He immediately called me and asked what was wrong. I told him that I could not stop crying and I could not go back into that building.
His response helped me find the courage to start the “quitting” process. He told me that although he would not tell me what to do, he did not want me going back to that school in the fall… even if it meant not returning to work at all. I had talked about leaving, but only after my husband’s comment did I actually see it as a real possibility.
It wasn’t until then that I realized what was holding me in this miserable position wasn’t lack of jobs in the marketplace, or my lack of marketability, but the six inches between my ears. I had been in the same position for so long, I didn’t believe I could find another job. Looking back, I realize how ludicrous this was. What I also noticed was that lots of people I knew felt stuck too. I don’t know if this is a phenomenon found in other fields or if it is disproportionately represented in education. I do know that many unhappy teachers stay where they are out of fear.
So my happy ending began with quitting a job that held more cons than pros for me. I loved the kids, I liked what I taught, and hated almost everything else about my job. I had some colleagues I would miss, but I realized I could maintain these friendships regardless of where I worked. (In fact, I now prefer getting together for lunch with friends rather than commiserating with them at school.)
I made up my mind that I would not return to the school where I had spent the vast majority of my career, even if I couldn’t find a teaching job. Then I began my job search. I applied in three different counties, and ended up taking a position very different from the one I had held for so long. I also took a ten-thousand dollar pay cut.
In return, I cut my actual work day by forty-five minutes. I also gained (at least) another forty minutes in personal time since I cut my commute by half. This resulted in less wear-and-tear on my car and less fuel expense. I was also pleasantly surprised to gain a pleasurable, predictable ride to and from work.
By taking a leap of faith, I not only gained a job I enjoy. I also found friends in my new colleagues. I remembered what it felt like to be excited about Monday mornings again. Most importantly, I learned that there are always new opportunities just within my reach. All I have to do is choose.
I’ve become quite adventurous since I hit my forties. I’ve done many new things I never thought I’d do. If you peruse my blog you’ll find out what many of those are. Currently, I am taking an online computer science course, since there is a limit to what I can do physically.
As I was mapping out my February, I began thinking about my next adventures. I asked myself some questions I have learned through personal growth seminars and self-help books… questions like, “What have I always wanted to do that I haven’t done yet?” Or, “What would I do if money and time were no object?” And more recently, “What will I do when I am back to my old self (physically 100%)?” Throughout my life, this self-questioning has been instrumental in helping me push through my perceived limitations. So as the first month of the new year comes to a close, I have a question for you…
If you knew you only had months to live, or if money and time were no object, or if you knew you could not fail (whichever is more compelling to you)… what would YOU do?