Hamster Wheels and Pseudo Thread…among other things

So…I read another great post from one of my favorite email subscriptions yesterday – Liz Goodchild’s, “Life Coaching for People Who Give a Shit”.
I read her advice Every. Single. Time. she posts – it’s that good – guess that makes me one of those people… 
But I already knew that. 
I’m an INFJ. That’s not code for anything – it’s a personality type.  
I’ve posted about that before (how learning your personality type is like finding your very own personal owner’s manual…the lost edition) – it’s all very fascinating and entertaining and simple to do too, if you are so inclined. And to keep you from having to go back and dig through old posts in case I’ve now piqued your interest …go to: http://www.16personalities.com to get the scoop. But I digress…
THIS post isn’t about that – not directly anyway.
THIS post is about the ‘Aha!’ moment that sometimes (if we’re lucky) occurs when we read something that tells us to pay attention. Really pay attention. The light bulb moment…The nudge.  
I get this nudge often. I’m tuned in. So, believe me – I know a nudge when I see/feel one.
Yet…I DON’T EVER SEEM TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
Crazy, right? Especially for someone as ‘tuned in’ as I claim to be. 
It’s the bane of my existence. Well, it’s a major bane, the one topping the list at the moment. Some of the others are: people who litter, tags in shirts that use horribly stiff pseudo thread, and flimsy drinking straws and stir-sticks – but I’ll save those for another time.
This post is about that feeling I get often: ‘the thing I’m supposed to be doing with my life’. You know the thing – it’s just over there – somewhere else – just out of reach and always a bit fuzzy. 
And so I read posts and articles and books about it. I acknowledge the Aha! Moment whenever I encounter one and enthusiastically embrace it, “Yes, that is SO true! Yes, I must DO that!”
I understand and agree with everything about the Aha! Moment completely. It resonates with me like meeting a kindred spirit for the first time. I know it. I understand it. It makes complete sense to me. And I have absolutely no concerns about the validity of any of it.
Yet….crickets.
It’s like that old saying of waiting for your ship to come in. You see the ship. It’s loaded with passengers who’ve already gotten the nudge and are happily on board waving and blowing kisses at you, telling you to come aboard too. But for some reason you just can’t step off the dock. 
It’s all very frustrating.
I tell myself that ‘if it were the right time it would happen – whatever it happens to be’. And that ‘things happen when they are supposed to happen’. Blah, blah, blah, blaaaaahhhh.  
But…doesn’t it also take doing something to make something happen?
If I want the TV remote and it’s across the room, is fate telling me I’m not supposed to watch TV because the remote isn’t already in my hand? Maybe I’ll learn something from the television show I’m about to watch or maybe, if I choose not to watch, I’ll read something interesting instead. No big deal.
We’re given opportunities and choices for everything. Everything. Not just the little things but the big things as well. Why do we get so tripped up in one instance but not in another?
Because the stakes seem higher when it comes to life choices and because we’re so afraid of making a wrong choice or a mistake. We’re so afraid of doing it wrong – even when we have no idea what ‘wrong’ is. We may not even know what ‘right’ is.
And this is the truth – –
We’d rather continue to do the same thing over and over (and over) like a hamster in a wheel – than risk doing something new and different – even if new and different has the potential to be better!
That’s insane.
So….here is something to really think about:

Where is the line drawn in the sand and, more importantly, who’s in charge of the drawing?

And if you’d like to be inspired – read Liz’s blog…www.lizgoodchild.co.uk

 

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Bears, sharks & lightning

Bears, sharks & lightning…and not necessarily in that order.
What are you afraid of? 
For me, the very idea of setting off on an adventure continues to top by bucket list.
At least once each day I’m either day-dreaming about the possibilities of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, or setting off on a solo voyage across the ocean. Now, I don’t actually ‘actively’ hike nor do I own a boat, but the very idea of it all sends my heart into flutter mode. Of course that could also have something to do with the bears, sharks and lightning I mentioned above. 

I mean, I can deal with bugs, and I can deal with blisters and too much sun, and being dirty for days. I can even deal with eating the same meal day after day or any other similar deprivation which would result from removing myself from civilization for months on end, but I cannot for the life of me even begin to imagine suddenly finding myself face to face (eeek!!, I can’t even print it!) with a bear, shark or lightning encounter! This is where i get tripped up!
I read somewhere that our ‘real life’ is out there waiting for us. And I guess I think mine must be either in the woods or on the ocean. 

Stepping outside our comfort zone allows us to grow. It pushes us to tap into all our potential.  And I hear we all have loads of it if we’re open to it. All risks are growth opportunities; good and bad and the transitional skills we gain help us deal with changes in our lives.  

As we accumulate transitional skills we are able to move to the next ‘level’ kind of like Mario…storing up an arsenal for future challenges.

And as our arsenal of skills increases in size we may find we need a bigger comfort zone to house them in and that’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Cabinet of Curiosities


Are you a collector? 

Do you find yourself drawn to certain things and ever wonder why that is?

Over the years I collected the typical things like dated Christmas ornaments, figurines, and dolls. But I’ve also collected things that wouldn’t exactly be considered ‘collectibles’. My first collection (I remember very well and was very fond of it too) was clothing tags that I placed on my bedroom wall. It wasn’t only the tags I was interested in but the arrangement as well – maybe more so; I would spend a considerable amount of time moving them into pleasing compositions. 

More recently, and for the past several years now, I’ve amassed quite a collection of fragments of various things, mostly vintage and usually favoring a certain color family (usually from the mid-century) as you can see from this photograph of my cabinet of curiosities. And the more broken, the better. 

I wonder what Freud was have to say about that. 

According to Wikipedia…

When people think of collecting, they may imagine expensive works of art or historical artifacts that are later sold to a museum or listed on eBay. The truth is, for many people who amass collections, the value of their collections are not monetary but emotional —and often, not for sale. Collections allow people to relive their childhoods, to connect themselves to a period in history or to a time they feel strongly about. Their collections may help them to ease insecurity and anxiety about losing a part of themselves, and to keep the past present [1] Some collect for the thrill of the hunt. Collecting is much like a quest, a lifelong pursuit which can never be complete.[2] Collecting may provide psychological security by filling a part of the self one feels is missing or is void of meaning.[3] When one collects, one experiments with arranging, organizing, and presenting a part of the world which may serve to provide a safety zone, a place of refuge where fears are calmed and insecurity is managed.[4] Motives are not mutually exclusive; rather, different motives combine in each collector for a multitude of reasons.
(Psychology of Collecting – Wikipedia)

Interesting!!

Frequency Illusions

Have you ever heard of frequency illusion? It’s the term for that phenomenon where, as an example, you buy a new car and suddenly see the same kind of car everywhere or read about something new and then hear someone mention that same subject soon afterwards? It’s also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (but frequency illusion might be a bit easier to remember!). Regardless of what it’s called it all has to do with selective memory and our brain’s affinity for pattern recognition. If you get a chance, do a Google search – it’s pretty interesting stuff.
But it got me to thinking…

Maybe this is why all the bad news we see/hear/read starts to feel so overwhelming.  

Maybe we’re using selective memory with all the negative information the same way we use it with the interesting stuff we actually seek out.  

I quit reading the news a long time ago for this very reason but occasionally something will slip through the cracks. And just a crack’s-worth of information is all it takes to settle me into a funk for quite a long time.

And unfortunately, a little bit of funk can soon become the foundation for a lot more funk to build on.

Allowing negativity to settle in isn’t difficult at all; it requires almost no effort whatsoever to view our world and see all that is bad. One story will build on another story and soon it seems that ALL stories are the same – the cast of characters may be different but the storyline is identical; it becomes ‘fill in the blank – insert bad news here’ story after miserable story. And with anything that gets repeated and repeated and repeated…its gets old and tiring and HEAVY – sometimes too heavy to bear.  

But we tend to think that when we ‘worry about something’ we’re somehow actively doing something beneficial to the cause. We actually think that our ‘worry’ serves some sort of purpose; that it somehow helps the situation.  

If I ‘worry’ about your problem – can you ‘feel’ me worrying? Can you feel me being concerned about you? Does it help you?

No. You can’t. And it doesn’t.

The only person who can feel the heaviness of worry and concern is the person doing it.  

It serves absolutely no beneficial purpose whatsoever. It is not beneficial or helpful in any way – to any one! Worry and concern are weight-bearing emotions that break us down by adding stress to our lives. Do you need more stress? Don’t we have enough to manage without adding the extra weight of the world to the load?

So how can we avoid this sort of thing? How do we not allow worry and stress to consume our lives?  What can we do to keep from feeling as though we are being inundated with negativity all the time?  

Besides turning off the constant stream of negativity from all outside sources (or, at the very least, limiting those feeds considerably) the key is to become keenly observant to what is good.  When we see or hear something positive we want more of the same. 

We should train ourselves to seek out the positive and allow it to become the foundation for more of the same to build on. And not just in a new-agey-feel-good kind of way either – but in a more habit-building, Pavlovian-conditioning kind of way. We need to actively seek it out; go out of our way to find it and make it a consistent part of our day to day life.    

Some might say this is a ‘head-in-the-sand’ way to live. But I say it’s the only way to live.

Try actively searching for and noticing all (or only) that which is good about your day even if that means having to give the benefit of the doubt when you may ‘know better’. There is a popular saying now to ‘fake it til you make it’ and there may be no better time in our history than now to put it to use!

Prime example…The above image was taken at our local garbage dump (stinky smell and flies included) or was it??   It’s all in your perspective!

😊 

What’s Your Superpower?


Wouldn’t it make more sense if humans started out mature and knowledgeable and THEN grew younger??

I mean, I’m just beginning to figure things out! Unfortunately, by 9pm though, I can barely stay awake long enough to read much less strategize on saving the world! 

It’s also unfortunate that we tend to spend (i.e. waste) so much of our time trying to figure out what it is we’re meant to do in the first place. We don’t have to necessarily save the world to make an impact though; we can simply tidy up our own little corner of it making it a pleasant place to hang out while at the same time offering value to our surrounding neighborhood.

One of the best ways to do this, I think, is by gaining self-awareness. 

Understanding our strengths and (maybe even more important) our weaknesses can be very insightful and a great reminder of what we are capable of and also what it is we most love to do (or where we should be putting most of our efforts for the best outcome).

I’m a big fan of personality tests and the one at www.16personalities.com is a fun, quick and painless way to gain this insight. Not only is learning about ourselves helpful but we can also begin to understand why others do the things they do; making our relationships stronger. 

I think it’s nothing short of life-changing.

We all have some form of superpower; the sooner we can figure it out and put it to use…the better

call it wonder

  

Feeling Trapped? Step into the Unknown and Set Yourself Free

An article by Lucie Wilk (posted on tinybuddha.com)

“Don’t call it uncertainty—call it wonder. Don’t call it insecurity—call it freedom.” ~Osho

My daughter loves birds. So, as a treat, we all went to a Bird of Prey center near to where we live. Here in the UK, there is a long tradition of keeping these birds. As stated on one hawking site, falconry is “the noble sporting art of flying trained birds of prey.”

Noble or not, I have an issue with keeping birds captive. I had hoped that, in the center we would be visiting, these would be rescue birds.

They weren’t.

They were raised in captivity, slightly better than being caught in the wild, but only slightly. There was one area I referred to as Prisoner’s Row. Big, powerful and noble birds like falcons and kestrel chained to a post. A long row of them stuck there for visitors to gawk at.

Yes, they are beautiful, and amazing to see up close, but they are much more beautiful to see flying up there in the wild expanse of sky.

In any case, we were there for the Owl Experience. One by one, they brought out owls, starting with the smallest burrowing owls and getting bigger until the huge and majestic European eagle owl was brought out.

The birds were coaxed over to the leather gauntlet our kids were given to wear. They were stunning and tolerant of us, but it was clear they were doing something against their nature. Owls are not meant to perch on human arms. These owls have been trained to do so, but trained against all natural inclinations.

Then we went out to the flying arena where our children fed them. Chopped up bits of baby chick feet were dangled temptingly in the air then placed on a gauntlet, and eventually and very reluctantly the owl swooped down and picked up the morsel.

They weren’t good flyers, these birds. They knew how to fly but their muscles were weak. They flew short distances and preferred to hop.

It all left me feeling uncomfortable. It was a privilege to see these beautiful creatures up close, but at what cost?

Perhaps it makes me uncomfortable because it is uncomfortably close to our own limited experience of life.

As I watched the owls soar within the flying arena, I wondered why they didn’t simply soar off to freedom. They weren’t chained. Their wings were not clipped. They could do it, if they chose to.

But they stayed. They hopped and half-flew to each wiggly bit of chick foot and hop-flew back to their post, with thinly veiled resentment. But they stayed. And then, after the show, they allowed themselves to be carried back to their cage.

Why?

Perhaps the birds are as susceptible to the lure of certainty as we are.

There is the certain provision of chick feet if they fly to their keeper’s arms and back to a post within a small outdoor arena. After all, having been raised in captivity, that’s all they’ve known.

And then there is the great, wild uncertainty that exists beyond the arena. Will there be food there? Will they be able to catch it? Are there unknown dangers lurking in that great blue expanse of sky?

And here’s the clunky metaphor. My husband and I are in our own sort of flying arena at the moment. We’re both in regular jobs, jobs that more often frustrate than inspire, getting regular paychecks.

We’re eating with these paychecks. It may be our own version of chick feet, but, hey, we’re eating. We are testing our wings, though. Flying a bit further. But, for the moment, we are returning to our keeper’s arms.

We gaze out at that broad blue expanse. We know we’re capable of more. We know we haven’t really tested ourselves; we haven’t really indulged our deeper passions. It seems to me that we’ve all been trained to do things against our true nature, and have grown up in this limited, but safe, way.

The few times I’ve flown into uncertain territory have been terrifying but thrilling.

As it has been said, uncertainty is the only certainly. To resist it is to resist our true nature. To resist it is to stay trapped, to accept the cage, the gauntlet, the chick foot for supper. To embrace the uncertain is to fly beyond the arena into that beautiful blue expanse of freedom.

We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the owls can do it. Not just can, we all intuitively know that they should do it. To live in the freedom of uncertainty is infinitely better than to live in the security of captivity.

We know this and wish this better life for the owls. Why, then, can’t we know it and create it for ourselves?

So this is my challenge, to myself, and to you, should you choose to accept it: try something you’ve never done before. Taste something you’ve never tasted before. Read someone you’ve never read before. Say something you’ve never said before. Write something you’ve never written before and then share it.

Step into the unknown and feel it—that ground dropping away, breath-catching feeling. That’s the feeling of the limitless expanse of creative potential. That’s life as it’s meant to be lived.

Food for Thought

 

 A few months ago I made the decision to get a personal trainer to help with my healthy lifestyle goals.  As is typical, we had a discussion about nutrition and exercise at our first meeting.  One thing we discussed that I wasn’t familiar with was learning my ‘Calorie Maintenance Level’.


It didn’t sound that important at first (just more diet and nutrition stuff) but for some reason I was paying attention, made note and decided to investigate further when I got home.   Thanks, Google!  You can read more about it at:  www.acaloriecounter.com.  


But if you’re not into the research thing like I am – here is a (very) brief summary:

In order to reach your goal; whether the goal is weight loss, fat loss or muscle building it’s important to know where you are starting from.   Your calorie maintenance level will tell you that.  Once you know this number it will be much easier to calculate and successfully reach your goal –and in the most efficient manner possible.


Think about it this way.  If you were about to embark on a road trip, you wouldn’t just jump in the car, start driving and hope to get there.  Yes, you might end up at your destination but it might also take you a really long time to get there.  Enough said!    


The key take-away point to all of this is: whenever we’re trying to eat healthy, or get into better shape there is a tendency to WAY over estimate the value of our efforts assuming that EVERY effort is a MAJOR one on our part; when in fact, this is (usually) never the case.   And, as expected, this will only lead to disappointment and disillusionment when our goals are not immediately met.   


So, if you’re really serious about achieving a new healthy lifestyle goal – do yourself a favor and find out what your ‘calorie maintenance level’ is – trust me, it will be an eye-opener  – and will save you a lot of angst in the long run!

Now, believe it or not this blog post really isn’t about how to lose weight or gain muscle…it’s really about how this information can be applied elsewhere – with any goal.


It’s really easy to set goals.  We get a great idea in our head about how wonderful it would be to accomplish A, B or C. We get excited and we plan.  We’re confident we can achieve anything at this point. 


And then reality hits.  


But I don’t think it’s so much a problem of not following through as it is improper planning.  


I think we set ourselves up for defeat from the beginning because we’re not honest about our starting point. 


We tend to do the opposite of sandbagging – we exaggerate our credentials.  Just like when we’re ‘calculating’ how many calories that Turkey-Melt sandwich has.


I think being honest with who we are and what we want to achieve in a reasonable time frame would help us more in the long run.  No matter what the goal is. 


Just something to think about.