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Archive for February, 2009

I’m playing hooky from work right now.  Shhhhhhh….don’t tell anyone!!  😉

Although…if I stop to think about it…..it’s not really a secret.  After all, work will notice I’m not at work because…..well…because I’m not there.  And I told my team I was leaving after lunch.  So I guess it’s not really a secret or anything…..hmmmmm….. 

Still.  It feels more free-ing to say I’m playing hooky. So let’s just keep this between us, okay?  J

Why am I home from work?  Why did I abandon my co-workers today?  I’m soooo glad you asked.

I had another coaching call with Coach Jim last night.  And (once again) it’s thrown me for a loop.  (You’d think I’d be used to that by now wouldn’t ya?!?  LOL!)  And I wasn’t really focusing on work today while I was at the office.  I wasn’t really being productive at all.  My mind kept wandering.  So I made a deal with myself—focus and be productive until lunch time and then leave and come home and write.

Ta-da!  So here I am.  Grin!

So what’s thrown me for a loop this time?  (Or perhaps I’m simply in a perpetual loop???  Or am I just loopy??  LOL!)

Without saying too much (and Heaven forbid I say “too” much on a fairly anonymous blog!) I’m trying to have conversations with Jim that help me explore what direction I want to take my life.  Or what direction I want my life to take me.  Or “what I want to do when I grow up.” 

That seems simple enough, right?  Nothing too complex.  Yeah…right!! 

I’ve wanted to start this conversation for a year and have intentionally set it aside.  Partially because there was other stuff I wanted to start working on first, and partially because it sends me into a total and complete “flight” mode the minute I start thinking about it.

Sigh.

(Some of you may have heard this story before.  Please bear with me.  I’ll try to keep it short.)

What initially sent me looking for help from Jim was (in part) my reaction to the paperweight on my desk.  (Hey!  I’ve never claimed to be anything close to “normal” so this really shouldn’t surprise anyone too much!  ;-))   The weight bears the question, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

I purchased the weight thinking it would help motivate and encourage me to take a fresh look at what I wanted to do with my life.  Where I wanted to go.  The possibilities that might be right in front of me.  Instead I slumped into a puddle of teary-eyed goop (starchy goop at that!) whenever I stopped to read it and think about it.

I simply had no clue how to answer the question.  Didn’t even know how to start thinking about how to answer the question.  “What would I do?  I have no flippin’ clue!”  I couldn’t come up with a single thing.

While I’m no longer in that emotionally locked place, I still struggle with the concept.  With the question.

(By the way, my non-serious answer to the question now is, “Go to Vegas and play Craps for a living baby!”  LOL!  Hey…at least I can give a non-serious answer.  That’s some type of progress right?  J)

I thought I’d moved along enough to be ready to at least start the conversation.  And now I’m not so sure.  

We’re starting off with the most basic of questions.  Approaching it with no expectations.  No known outcomes.  No “I need to see X,Y and Z or it won’t be right” type of thinking.  Nothing’s off the table.  (Although I’m evidently too old to be Miss America.  Pfffffffffffff!  ;-))   And I’m still tied in knots.

Jim helped me come up with a list of questions to think about.  Or more accurately I came up with 4 questions and Jim supplied the rest.  Sigh.  I struggle to wrap my brain around how to even start any of this!  I have a hard time coming up with questions without feeling a panic-filled need to immediately answer them.  Ugh.

The questions I’m supposed to be pondering are along the lines of:  What do you want to do?  What energizes you?  What skills do you want to use?  What brings you joy?  (Hey!  I have a list of 125 plus things that bring me joy!!)  What kind of people do you want to work with?  Do you want to serve?

Basic questions right?  Nothing too complex.  No wrong answers.  No expectations.  Simply questions.

And still I find myself hyperventilating and feeling sick to my stomach.

Really Spudsie.  This isn’t that difficult.  They are just questions.  It’s not like I’m expected to give answers on par with the Oracle at Delphi.  Come on Spuds.  Relax.

Deep breath.

Another deep breath.

I’m supposed to be brainstorming answers.  And/or additional questions.  Anything and everything that comes to mind.  Toss it all out on the table.

And instead of doing that I find myself curled in a ball underneath my desk, thinking maybe what I’m doing with my life now isn’t so bad after all.  Really.  It’s not bad.  I’ve made it this far right?  I can keep grinding out day after day…hour after hour….literally minute after minute, right? 

Grrrrrrrr.

But that’s not what I want to do.  I want to do something different.  Something more.  Something that brings at least moments of joy and satisfaction and fulfillment into my life—instead of only and always draining them away.

So I need to do this.  I want to do this.  I choose to do this.  I choose to try and think about these questions.

I’m just not sure how.

“What do I want to do?”  Well…gee….if I knew that I wouldn’t be in this complete “flight” mode would I?!  I don’t have a clue!

Okay Spuds.  That’s not overly helpful.  What else do ya have?

“What do I want to do?”  Something that brings at least moments of joy, satisfaction and fulfillment into my life.  There.  Is that better?

Okay.  Better.  What else?

“What do I want to do?”  ANYTHING other than have this conversation!  Sorry.  (Sheepish grin)  I know…that’s not helpful.  Okay. 

(Minutes ticking by…)

“What do I want to do?”  I want to re-phrase the question.  I want to change it up a little.  How about…..

“How do you want to feel?”  Bear with me.  This isn’t a cop-out.  I think I can start here and move forward a little easier.  Maybe.

“How do you want to feel?”  I want to feel excited to start each day.  (Or at least the majority of them!  LOL!)  I want to feel like Jack London, er…Martin Eden in “Martin Eden” by Jack London.  Martin begrudged his body every hour of sleep he had to “give in” to.  Martin wanted to live every moment, every instant, every second to its fullest.  Sleep deprived him of activity, of action of movement, of progress, of experiences.  He wanted all of it to the fullest and resented the time he had to give up for his body to recharge.

Yeah….that’s what I want!  I want to run at the start of each day on the balls of my feet…not wanting to lose a second!  (Which is far different from the counting of seconds left until I can leave that I find myself doing now.)

When Mr. Spuds asks me, “So Spudsie how was your day?” I want to have excitement in my voice when I say, “Oh!  You wouldn’t believe what happened today!”  Even if it’s just telling him stories of the hours I spent on cleaning the shower floor and how sparkling white it now is, I want to have that energy because what I’m doing is fulfilling, is uplifting, is overall worth it!

So, “how do I want to feel?”  I want to feel energized and excited, looking at every day as a series of amazing opportunities and adventures.  (Again, even if those “adventures” are as simple as cleaning!) 

Okay.  That’s pretty cool.  At least I have some idea of how I want to feel. 

Now I suppose I need to turn my attention to what energizes me. 

Hmmmm…….I’m beginning to think this is gonna take awhile…..stay tuned.

To be continued.

J

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Last week I cried.

That in itself isn’t all that unusual.  But what I did while crying was unusual for me.

Last Monday evening I had a coaching call with Coach Jim.  I’ve written about it once already here.  And in the middle of the “should” conversation I was crying.  Not a delicate, sniffle, sniffle, blink away the tears kind of crying.  Oh no.  It was the “wipe my nose on my sleeve because there isn’t enough time to get to a Kleenex box-and even if there were time I don’t have the energy to spare from my weeping to reach the box” type of crying.  (How’s that for a description of something you’d rather not have a mental image of?!?  ;-))

Crying while on the phone with Jim is nothing new.  He frequently gets me to stretch emotionally pretty far beyond where I’m comfortable—and that’s a great thing!  A great thing that makes me cry typically.  So while crying on the phone with Jim is nothing new, this one has stuck with me.   It was a pretty major fear I was facing that made me cry.

For “brevity’s” sake I’m not going to re-hash the entire conversation.  (Please…hold your applause.  J) Basically Jim was trying to help me see something about myself.  And the words he used screamed in my brain, “This is a bad thing!  This is not how a good potato carries herself.  Acting like this is wrong!”

Now Jim wasn’t saying anything judgmentally, I simply was hearing it judgmentally.  He was asking the question, “How would these conversations go if you didn’t think people should respond in a certain way?”  (Whoops!  There I go again….re-hashing the conversation….)   He wanted me to consider how much more relaxed and at ease I could be in the conversation if I let go of my expectations.

My brain translated his words into, “Think of how much better things could be if you didn’t demand that every single person you came in contact with was required to react in the exact manner you tell them to.  You are clearly trying to control people and situations where you have no control.  You are going into these conversations with the mindset of a self-centered brat.  You are making the conversation all about you.  And isn’t that what you always do?  Don’t you always put yourself in the center?  You never think of anyone other than yourself!”

Again, allow me to repeat myself.  Jim wasn’t saying ANYTHING judgmentally.  And he certainly wasn’t saying anything that I wrote in that last paragraph.  He was simply trying to open my mind to what possibilities might open up if I approached some conversations with a different mindset.  And my brain twisted that into the “….you selfish brat…” words.  Ugh.  No wonder I cried!

Actually, my brain’s translation wasn’t what caused the tears.  It was my reaction to them and how I acted on that reaction.  (Bear with me….I’m not sure this makes sense even to me right now…)

I spent twenty or so years being told by a parent how I wasn’t good enough.  How everything I did, said or thought was a failure.  And how I didn’t ever think of anyone besides myself.   And in those twenty years I learned to file those statements away as truth.  It was just who I was.  It was how I was.  And it was bad.  I was bad.  I didn’t argue—it would have been pointless.  I didn’t yell back.  I didn’t defend myself.  I simply accepted it.

As I’ve grown older I’ve been able to see those statements are not entirely true.  I’ve been able to pull slightly away from them. 

At the same time when a person in any type of authority role in my life (boss, preacher, teacher, etc.) has said anything similar I continued to accept it without argument.  Even if my brain argued, my lips were silent.  It just wasn’t worth arguing about.  It wasn’t worth defending myself.  (Maybe I wasn’t worth defending??)

And two surprising things happened when I “heard” Jim saying those same things.  (Again, keep in mind Jim didn’t actually say them….my brain mis-translated them.)

First of all, my mind blew a whistle, threw down the yellow flag, yelled “foul!”  My mind said….  “Nope.  That’s not true.  I was there for the conversations and I was not demanding that people responded in a certain way.  I had hoped they would, but I wasn’t going in arms-crossed, eyebrow cocked, arrogantly demanding special treatment.  You’re off base Jim.  I’m not the type of person you are saying I am.” 

There are often times Jim will say something about a reaction I have, something I say or something I do that I initially disagree with.  So I’ve learned to bite down my initial reaction of “Buzz!  Wrong answer Jim!” and try to really listen to what he’s saying.  Try to really see what he’s seeing.  After all, I’m working with him because I haven’t had much success fixing things on my own.  Fighting with him really isn’t going to be very helpful in learning to make different choices!

So while trying to continue the verbal conversation with Jim I was having a different conversation in my mind.  “Jim’s wrong.”  “Maybe not.  Just listen to him and think about it.”  “Nope.  He’s wrong.”  “Spudsie give it some time.  He’s telling you what he sees.”  “Okay. ……nope.  Still wrong.”  And that was surprising.  That I could say with some conviction (if only in my own mind) “I’m not bad.”

At this point neither the verbal conversation nor the mental conversation was making much progress.  For once the “I don’t agree with what I think Jim’s saying about me or my character” was getting louder instead of settling down.  I tried setting it aside and moving on with the verbal conversation with Jim, but I found I couldn’t. 

And that’s when the more surprising thing happened.  (Please note, there were no tears yet at this point.)  I actually spoke up.  I said, “Jim, I don’t think I agree with that.”

Now I’ve said those words before.  And typically come around to seeing things from Jim’s point of view.  But this was different.  This was scary.

This was a conversation with someone I hold in high regard.  And I thought he had just said to me, “You are totally self-centered and don’t care about anyone else!  You think the world revolves around you and need to just get over yourself!  You are just horrible.” 

And I disagreed with him.

And I spoke up.  I “defended” myself.  If you can call squeaking out between sobs, “I don’t think that’s what I did Jim” defending myself.  LOL! 

I gathered all of the potato courage I’d hidden in my little toes for years (betcha ya didn’t know potatoes had toes!) and said, “No.  That’s not me.  I’m not bad.  Don’t say those things about me.  Please don’t think them because they aren’t true.”   Well….I didn’t use those words….but that’s metaphorically what I was saying.

All sorts of fears had sprung to the surface.  “No.  Please no.  I can’t believe he just said that.  Of all people, not Jim.  Dear God in Heaven please don’t let him think that.  If Jim thinks that about me it must be true.  No.  Please no.  How can Jim possibly think I’m waltzing through life not giving a rat’s behind about anyone other than myself?  If that’s true, that makes every other bad thing ever said to me true.  I’m not worth anything.”

(Yeah……I go from neutral to out-of-control-self-doubt-and-fear in about.00000001 seconds.  Sigh.  It’s one of the things I’m working on.)

And in the middle of this HUGE mass of fear there was a little voice that said, “Hey Spuds.  You know that’s not true.  You know you’re worth something.  This is Jim.  You know Jim.  Jim is Jim—he’s not anyone else.  Jim is safe.  Talk to him.  Say something.  Disagree with him.  It’s okay.  This is a safe place.  Be open.”

And I spoke up.  Through almost blinding tears of fear, I squeaked out a few words.  And then a few more.  And then a few more.  All the while scared (nearly out of my wits) that Jim would say, “Sorry Spudsie.  You’re just not good enough.”  Fighting against the part of my mind that was yelling, “Quit talking!  Just accept he thinks you’re a selfish brat and move on.  Don’t disagree, it will just make things worse!  You’ll just get more heaped on you!  Quit!  QUIT!!!  You’re going to make it worse!”

And, of course, in the end talking did NOT make it worse.  It made it better!  (Who knew?!  LOL! J) 

So kudos to me for speaking (or was that squeaking? LOL) up.  Kudos to Spudsie for fighting through the fear.  That’s yet another step towards authentically being me.  Yay!

Man.  I hope it gets easier to do this in the future.  ‘Cause I barely got through it this time. 

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