Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Blog Do-Over

Some of you might not have realized it, but I actually did take the blog offline yesterday. It was not the only thing I quit. By saying quit, I gave myself permission to let go and walk away from some things getting in my way.

What does it mean to quit? I let go. I let go of the anxiety. I let go of the negative thinking roller-coaster ride. I stopped trying so hard. I realized yesterday (I'm slow sometimes) that trying so hard at so many things is not sustainable. I make so much of an effort and put so much of myself into all that I do. Nobody notices but I have to live with the consequences. And, it is not sustainable. So, I gave myself permission to quit. Quit trying so hard. Quit searching for answers so earnestly. Quit trying to get things right. Quit caring so much.

After I quit, I felt lighter, and liberated.

Among many other things, I let go of the blog. When I began this blog, it was a place to explore the inevitable uncertainties of our lives and future. What I quickly realized, although I might not have said as much explicity, is that making our way has so little to with external factors (like the economy). More on this another time.

What I am learning (stating the obvious) is that regardless of the mess going on around us, making our way is all about what is going on within. I began to ask questions about self-care and authenticity, and living in harmony with values. How would I manifest my gifts in a way that makes a difference in the world. Why? Perhaps, in my non-linear thinking way, I was realizing that making our way through uncertainty is just plain life. There will always be uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and plenty of stuff that life hands us that is beyond our control. Life is uncertain. So, the blog has been about living and learning.

Where are we today? The uncertainty persists. I am still asking questions. Still writing-blogging-journaling-coaching-conversing to work my way through life's maze to carve out a path - an authentic life path.

When I quit yesterday, I realized that I had to let go of certain aspects of the blog without cutting it off completely. Today, I gave it a new name and evolved purpose. You are not going to find fashionable bullet pointed tips. 8 steps to a new me. 14 things to do before you die. 10 ways to making your way in uncertain times. 16 lessons to live by. I just can not bring myself to write the quintessential jazzy image illustrated witty blog. None of that feels authentic to me. During my negative self-questioning period, I told myself that this blog was pointless if it is just a public journal of sorts. Why not just keep a private journal? Nobody is interested in reading my rambling non-linear pontification of various life questions. Nobody comments. No one answers the questions I ask. I do not have the ability to provoke some thought or realization. It feels lonely. So, I quit and took it offline. Briefly.

If the blog is going to cause to ride the self-doubt roller-coaster, it has to go.

Today, I gave myself permission to recuperate it, and continue writing. Four of you follow the blog. That is four people who cared enough about me and what I might have to say to do that. That is not nobody. And, many others read it. You may not tell me that you do. You may not comment. It's not about me. You may simply shrug at my ramblings, but there are people out there who read it. Today, my delightful father who happens to be one of those people who reads it silently sent me note to say that he reads and rereads what I write. I should continue writing because I have things to say that need to be said. How did he know I quit? Did he know? It does not matter. This was a simple message that I needed to hear.

I have made peace with the fact that part of quitting meant that I was feeling lonely in the kitchen. I prepared dishes and placed them on a table. Some were eaten. Some were left untouched. Some disappeared without my knowledge. As the chef experimenting with new dishes and ingredients, I wanted to know: Was something too sour? Was it balanced? Was it just plain awful? Did you savor a morsel? Was something sweet enough for you to share it with someone you care about? Something. Anything. Maybe I even wanted us all to sit down at the table and chow down together. Was I looking for community? I made peace with the idea that on some level, I wanted the blog to feel less lonely and one-sided. I realized that it is not. This was merely my perception resulting from some comparative viewpoint that is not authentic to why I blog. And then, I let it go.

I resurrected the blog today - a new name, new colors and clearer goals. I quit on needing anything back. I quit on feeling lonely in the kitchen. I quit on the anxiety and self-doubt roller-coaster ride. I quit trying so hard. I quit worrying if I got it right.

I will keep writing. I invite you to become a follower, or tune in whenever you are able. I welcome you to comment, write back, share your thoughts, and ask questions. The journey is so much more meaningful when shared. The path clearer when others are working with me. And, I will simply try to keep blogging because it is personally meaningful to me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Quit: The Uncertainty Rollercoaster

Yesterday, I showed up to blog my way out of my mental-emotional fog. I failed. I thought I would write my way to clarity, compassion, understanding, patience, and action. I did not.

After posting my blog entry, I seem to have jumped on a rollercoaster ride of negative thinking, self-doubt, hopelessness, and anxiety. Among other things. Of course, it does not help that I am sleep deprived thanks to a child who has not slept in ten consecutive days. Oh wait, that is two years and ten days... and counting. No answers came from the much anticipated sleep study. It says, "normal and consistent with night terrors for this age." That's not a relief. That is deeply frustrating.

So, after a worse than usual night, and the dead-end medical report, this morning I was going to call it quits. Quit my business. Quit trying to find answers to what ails little one. Quit trying to find or give support. Quit this authentic living personal growth journey of life nonsense. Quit making big plans for a big move. QUIT.

The rollercoaster that is uncertainty (and by the way, it is Jen Louden who articulated for me what I was riding, and she is wonderfully articulate and truthful) has me tripping. It has me entertaining thoughts like I suck at everything. I am a poor parent. I lack patience. I can't even seem to keep the kids healthy. What am I good for? I have grand ideas but nothing to show for them. I stink at pretty much everything. I can't write. I can't think straight. I can't coach anyone. Yup, I feel the negativity gripping my insides.

A part of me knows I am just having one of those days, so why not just simply get off? Let it go? Pretend it did not happen? Nobody would be the wiser. But, I can't seem to get off this awful ride. So, I am still on the uncertainty-anxiety-fear-negativity rollercoaster. All my usual strategies -- affirmations, deep breathing, prayer, positive thinking blah blah blah -- out the window. At this moment, I just do not have it in me to dig deep and find my center. Maybe I don't even want to. Maybe quitting is the best option right now.

So, today, I showed up on the blog to do what exactly, I am not sure. As you have figured out, I just write on this blog, with no hope or expectation that anything I say means anything to anyone but me. I suppose it is not a blog at all. Just my personal journal wide open for those who want to read. So then, I should take it offline, I am thinking. It serves no other purpose, so offline it must go.

Sometimes, quitting is the only thing that makes sense. I quit.

And, look, I am off the roller-coaster. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

quest for authenticity

I have been waiting for moments of inspired clarity to compose a fabulous blog entry for the new year. Day after day, I wait. I reflect. I ponder. Nada.

Today, I am writing anyway. I write through the fogginess, doubt, fatigue, hesitation, anticipation, excitement... Write anyway. What the heck. I am just showing up, click create new entry... and see what happens.

As I step into the new year, I am taking stock of what was learned during the holiday season and in the last year. What were lessons learned, places of personal growth that I intend to carry with me into this year?

We mindfully chose to do the holidays differently this year. In years past, we have done what was expected, shown up mostly out of a sense of obligation and habit, but our minds and spirits were not nourished. Mind you, this season, there was plenty of socializing, eating, gift receiving and giving, photo opps, and celebration. Also moments of silence, train playing, conversing, and reflection. I am tired but not depleted. All of it done "our way." It was an experiment to do the holiday season more authentically, and frankly, despite the fallouts, there were some steps taken in the right direction.

What has been on my mind often is this question of authenticity. What does it mean to celebrate holidays and birthdays in a manner true to oneself? How do we honor tradition and convention in ways that allow room for creativity and change? More importantly, how to live life authentically in this way?

I am trying to figure this out. I have been struck lately by how easily we can read someone else's choices as somehow a reflection on ours. Almost a chastisement or commentary on one's inadequacies.

Case in point. Something simple. I absolutely love food, the preparation and sharing of it. It is one of my passions in life. I share it freely. It just happens to be mostly vegan and organic. Now, does this mean that I have implicitly judge others harshly for not sharing that choice? Doubtful. I love entertaining. It is one of my joys in life. I relish planning menus, invitation lists, the details. The working of a meal, an event, an outing are fun for me. I plan ahead. That is my way. I don't expect others to do it that way. Does my open enjoyment of these activities count as boasting on my part? Offense not intended. So why modify myself in any way?

Someone commented to me recently that when she notices a virtue in someone that she lacks, it makes her question and doubt herself. She might distance herself from that person so as to not confront her own inadequacies. I am not sure what she meant exactly. I found myself wondering how this impacts our interactions in countless way that I was not aware of to date.

This interaction made me learn to be empathetic and compassionate in a way that was new for me. My knee-jerk tendency to be self-righteous in defense of my authenticity has been tempered somewhat with a new-found understanding.

When I notice a remarkable quality, I not only commend the person in whom I admire it but also take notes so that I may better myself, learn and grow. Then again, that is my way. Not everyone shares this perspective.

On the flip-side, when what I do implies for others that they are somehow remiss, it feeds back to me in a way that compromises my authenticity. I notice that I feel apologetic when others perceive my choices as a (negative) reflection of theirs. I temper down my efforts. I might even become apologetic or defensive about my tendencies to over-plan or over-schedule. I over-compensate for my need for organization and planning by downplaying my enjoyment.

Is that authentic? Not so much.

So, how do I just live my life, and make simple choices for my everyday living anyway? This is my quest. I am going to make some not-so-simple decisions and choices this year, and I will relish the process, and share it simply with no intention to harm. I will simply make my choices in my quest to get things right in my life ... faltering, learning, and living as fully as I can. And, temper the sharing with compassion and understanding for how they might be perceived in way not intended. I will need help to do this effectively.

All I know is that I just have to live my life my way, and I mean no harm to others as I do this. That is, simply put, my quest for authenticity. What is yours?