Monthly Archives: May 2014

Life Begins at…

When did your life begin?

  • when you got your driver’s license?
  • when you graduated high school or college?
  • when you left home?
  • when you got married or divorced?
  • when the children left home?
  • when you moved to a new town?
  • when you got a new job?
  • when you retired?

Each of us has marked several of these milestones — and each one felt like a new beginning or at least a new phase of our life.  Our culture teaches us to focus on the next event, then we can live, then we will have more time, then we will be in charge of our own life.

Always focusing on the future means we miss the moments we are living now. We don’t do the things that call us now because we are saving them for some distant time.

Your life began in this moment — now.  And it will begin in the next moment.  And the moment after that.

I heard Maya Angelou speak several years ago.  She’s a woman of integrity, accomplishment, and wisdom.  On that night, she asked a poignant question.  “What are you waiting for?”  She went on.  “Yes, you!  What are you waiting for?”  She was relentless in her asking.  “Give it up, girl, and get going!  The only thing holding you back is you.  YOU!!  You are the problem…and you are the answer.”  Silence while her words penetrate my soul. “Do you hear me, girl?”

No more excuses.  No apologies.

Live now.

Now.

 

Until next Tuesday…

Your Perspective Matters

For much of my life I have been a misfit, on a limb by myself, the one dissenting thought in a committee meeting, the last one chosen for a team.  I spent way too many years trying to figure out what was wrong with me and trying to fit in.

The adults in my growing-up world encouraged me to be myself.  “Don’t worry about being one of the crowd,” they said.  Their words did not convince me of my worthiness.

Ideas and dreams often get stifled along the way — because we are the only one, or we want to keep the peace, or differing ideas are not welcome. Perhaps we’re afraid of being different, being talked about by others, or standing out in the crowd.

Blending in with others, believing what they say, or thinking others know more than we do, is the easy way to live.  But we sacrifice ourselves in the process by not valuing our own perspective.

Going it alone is challenging, sometimes tiring, and and may be frightening.  Great courage is often needed to be the lone voice in the wilderness.

Your perspective is unique — no one can give it voice but you.

Take courage — be yourself — and share with us.

Until next Tuesday…

 

 

Have I Got a Myth to Sell You!

Bought any good myths lately?

Maybe you haven’t bought any recently, but I’m willing to bet you’ve bought a few in your life, like…

  • life is supposed to be fair
  • live happily ever after — married with two children, two cars, pets, successful career and a house with a white picket fence
  • my husband/wife should know what I am feeling, what I need
  • if I work hard I will be successful
  • things (cars, houses, electronic gadgets, clothes) will make me happy
  • more is better
  • thin is beautiful
  • right clothes, right hair, right body will make me lovable
  • other people will make me happy
  • the busier I am the more value or importance I have
  • life should no be so difficult
  • if I am a good person, bad things will not happen to me

None of these is true.

The myths we believe influence our choices and create expectations — unrealistic expectations — for ourselves and others.

When I was young, parents and teachers tried to ensure life was fair:  all cake pieces were exactly the same size, toys were shared equally.  The problem comes when I continue to believe, for decades, that life should be fair.  I fuss about the inequities of life: my best friend doesn’t deserve cancer, I get bad news on top of more bad news when others live a charmed life, my coworker can afford a bigger house, more cars, European vacations when I just barely make it to the end of the month before my money runs out, on the best day of my new life I broke my leg.  You get the picture.  No matter how adults tried to make life fair when we were young, life is seldom fair in our grown-up world. When we bury our myth that “life ought to be fair” we can cope with what life sends our way instead of thinking life ought to be different.

In my married life, I expected my family to make me happy on special occasions: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays.  When I became single my children were young teenagers and weren’t reliable at remembering special dates.  Besides, their only money and transportation to purchase gifts came from me. I had two choices:  I could remind them of my birthday, which felt like asking them for a gift.  Or I could say nothing and take a chance they would forget and I’d have to be okay with that.  As I worked through the dilemma I came up with a new plan:  I would create my own special day. Anything the children did on their own would be “icing on the cake.” The lesson for me was that I can be responsible for my own happiness.  I no longer delegate my happiness to others.  Some years my birthday is a big deal — I travel or party or dine with friends or buy something I’ve always wanted.  Other years it doesn’t matter so much.  Either way I am content. Another myth gone.

I work on accepting realities, rather than dwelling on wishful thinking, on how life ought to be. For me, life is like a card game;  the only cards I can play are the ones I’ve been dealt.  No matter that I’ve had five bad hands in a row.  My only opportunity is to play my cards the best way I can.

Debunking our personal myths is not fun or easy — but it is critical to creating an authentic life.

Do your work.  Claim your life.

Until next Tuesday…

Silencing Your Critics

One of the greatest deterrents to creativity is the voice in your head that says, “you can’t do that” or “you have no skills” or “everyone else is better than you” or “you have no training” or “don’t be silly.”

Who are those voices? Who speaks those words so convincingly?

Is the voice your words to yourself? Is it a parent’s belittling voice? Perhaps it belongs to a former teacher who was critical of your work. Whatever it’s source, the voice chokes our words and stifles our creativity, paralyzing our uniqueness.

The voice can be silenced — and should be if we are ever to begin.

On my desk I have a clip-art print of an amorphous one-eyed green creature with two curly horns. Beneath the picture I have written “INNER CRITIC” in large black letters. Before I begin my daily writing, I turn the picture face down and say, “You are banned from speaking.” The voice is not welcome and I will give it no ear while I write my words and sentences and paragraphs.

Only when the day’s writing is done, do I allow the critic to enter my space, with specific instructions: can I choose better words, are the grammar and spelling correct, are the paragraphs in proper sequence, can it be more lyrical. In a different genre or craft, you can give the critic appropriate directions. You get the idea.

Critics are necessary at certain stages of our creativity. Initially, they are stifling. Later they can be helpful. But they are never allowed to criticize me personally — only the work I have put on the table.

Silence your critic, then begin your work.

Until next Tuesday…