Zoom flash the hummingbird appears outside my window. Darting in and around the tree. Resting on a twig. Dipping in and out of a flower. Wings vibrating beyond my ability to know. It’s just… wow.
When I see hummingbirds outside my window, I pause and put everything aside. I delight: the tiny little feet, the soft belly, the unpredictable flight pattern, the needly nose.
In me, it feels like there’s nothing more important to do than try to take it all in. I can never take it all in.
And then, they go away. Where? I don’t know. With who? I don’t know. Will they come back? I don’t know. Should I get in touch with them about their schedule? I don’t know how to do that. And I don’t care if I ever get the answers to any of those questions.
When they come, I delight. When they go, there is a world outside my window. When they return, my whole body hums in approval of everything they do.
I love the way I love hummingbirds.
It feels important.
Loving you out there. What’s outside your window for you to love? XO
I burst out in tears after a 15 minute weight lifting session recently. My body was trembling all over. I immediately felt ashamed of myself, even though I was alone in my house.
Oh my god, get a grip on yourself. It was only 15 minutes.
Other people lift way more than you.
This crying all the time is kind of pathetic.
These were my shameful thoughts. And, when I am physically tired, I am less resilient. I let them slip through and seduce me.
Having a mindfulness practice saves my life in these moments. Although I don’t always catch myself when I am beating myself up, I am getting better and better.
That was hard for you. Good job.
I’ve got your back, G. I am right here with you.
Crying is your old story leaving your body. Those shameful thoughts are on the way out.
After a lot of practice, I still beat myself up. Why? Shouldn’t I know better? Well yeah, AND I’ve had decades of practice being mean to me. Now, I like my new practice more. Compassion practice. Empowerment practice. Mindful awareness of my brain resisting change.
Mindfulness is a practice.
Building physical strength is a practice.
Building emotional strength is a practice.
Strength increases your capacity for more.
Slowly, if I keep lifting weights and stretching my comfort zone and trembling a little, I will be able to lift more weight. My muscles will endure a greater capacity for stress. My nervous system will rewire for more. My body will grow leaner and more efficient and increase in multiple health measures.
We understand and desire physical strength. We see the work it takes to get strong. Most of us opt out of that work. Too uncomfortable.
Mental strength is similar. It also requires trembling. It also requires leaving comfort zones. It requires a greater capacity for stress. Our nervous systems have to rewire for more. It might bring up tears to flush out the old stories about our capacity to become a different person.
Most of us opt out of that work. Too uncomfortable.
The brave act. The speech in public. The sweaty ten minute conversation. The boundary you set. Speaking truth to power. Saying that you will not tolerate your own abuse, or any abuse from others. Using your voice to say what is important even though your voice shakes.
Where is your limit for strength? What is your limit for joy? What body is too good for you? What emotion is too good for you?
What is your capacity to have more, be more, create more?
I don’t like trembling.
I try to avoid every workout I plan.
I try to avoid every difficult conversation.
I would prefer to blame other people for my limitations.
I would prefer not to cry all the time.
And yet, in the quiet peaceful moments, there is a greater desire.
I want to be strong. I want to love big. I want to be able to have more and share more. I want to embrace this turn at life in the most fulfilling way I can. I want to see what I can do. How good it can get.
And so, I practice.
And I tremble.
And I cry.
And I flush out the scared crap in my brain that doesn’t work.
I fumble and create new neural networks and stories about myself.
I try to have my own back. Then the shame pops up again. It doesn’t want to let me go. But I have new places to be.
Where do you want to go? What new place do you want to be? What have you decided is too good for you, your body, your life? Are you willing to go to the mat to prove yourself wrong? Are you willing to tremble? Are you willing to be uncomfortable until the new version of you becomes your new comfort zone?
What do you have to lose? Only your entire old identity. Are you willing to let it go?
Loving you out there. What if the old you was gone? Who would emerge? XO
We all judge other people. Our thoughts are judgements. Observe them with scientific interest.
Do you sometimes catch yourself judging someone and then getting mad at yourself for judging? If so, you turned the judgment of other into judgement of self.
That will be very painful.
And, you will miss the lesson.
Your judgment is a personal, important, compassionate preference. It’s telling you what’s important to you. What feels good to you. It’s giving you sacred soul information: I don’t like that- this is what I prefer.
“Oh, I can’t stand how uptight she is. I wish she would loosen up.”
Choice 1: ugh. I’m such a bitch. I can’t believe I am such a horrible judgy person. I am ashamed of myself.
Choice 2: interesting. You have strong feelings about that woman, babe. It’s ok. I love you fiercely. Now, tell me what you prefer. More fun? More relaxation? What can we do? Could our life be more fun? Yay! Let’s do that. I love you.
Turning judgement of others (which is inevitable and human) into judgement of self is poison.
Turning judgment of others into self compassion and curiosity is fire. It fuels what’s important to you and leads you courageously to the choices you prefer.
You are 100% loveable. And, I don’t prefer a lot of what you prefer. That’s diversity, difference, and choice.
Judge me! It tells me what you prefer.
Meanwhile, I have compassion and love for my messy human self no matter what. I honor my preferences. I get to work being the best I can be. (Less uptight LOL).
Living this way is so much more fun.
Gorgeous, beautiful reader: It’s ok to judge. Use that info to love yourself and become who you’d prefer to be.
Hello, gorgeous reader. How are you doing? Anyone feeling overwhelmed?
This is something we can deal with. Here are three ways:
Sometimes, when we are overwhelmed, we get ourselves far off into the future in our minds: all the things coming up, all the things to think of, all the things that we have to do. You can feel this in your body as tension and your brain is going to spin or freeze because you are stressing yourself out.
Come out of fight/flight mode so you can access your rational brain. In order to do this, try grounding in this way:
Set a timer for 5 minutes and start it – that’s your time
Sit in a chair and put both feet squarely on the ground and sit up tall.
Relax your shoulders and make space around your chest/heart space – try to sit openly with hands open
Take 5 slow deep breaths and tell yourself it’s ok, you are safe, we are ok now, some type of safety/soothing phrase
Notice the room around you and begin listing the contents in a neutral way: chair, rug, window, water bottle
2. Reduce Inputs to Your Expensive Brain
Your brain is the CEO of the physical system, so we need to take care of it. If you’re overwhelmed, there are too many thoughts and/or inputs to your brain. Much like a phone that gets hot when a lot of apps are open, your brain has too many things open. So, gently start to close the windows.
Laurie DiSantos of Yale, who has a podcast called “The Happiness Lab,” shares a lot of evidence-based research that your phone is actually making you unhappy. Time to take control of it, instead of letting it control you.
Close windows on the computer and your phone
Disable notifications unless absolutely necessary
Pick 1 or 2 news outlets to check daily and no more
Put limits around your social media: 30 minutes a day at a certain time and stick to your limit
Turn off your phone entirely or take a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood without it.
Utilize the “Do not disturb” function on your phone
Schedule time to write emails and return texts and times to be offline
3. Make a DOABLE Schedule and Stick To It!
Nerdalert! My favorite thing to do on Sunday is plan my week. Plan your week! It will feel so good to your brain to know that you have a plan. If you are overwhelmed, you need a better plan.
Here’s how to do it:
Put relaxation and fun on the calendar first (YES YOU CAN)
Put downtime and healthy meals on the calendar (YES YOU CAN)
OK, now put the other things on there, in doable time increments. Make these time frames comfy and achievable. Set yourself up for success.
Follow through with your plan and do not beat yourself up if you stray from the plan, just get curious about why
Adjust your plan to be sure you have fun, healthy meals, and doable time blocks
Draw boundaries around things that can be outsourced, delegated, or just plain eliminated
Get good at saying “Thank you, and no.”
OK lovelies! Loving you so much out there! You can easily reduce overwhelm. Why? Because it’s in your control.
Take control. If you are resisting me, great! That’s a good opportunity to start a mindfulness practice and figure out why. Loving you out there. XO
Letting out tears in yoga seems to be my thing. Especially now that I practice alone. Especially the hip openers. Especially with the death of so many of my old patterns and ways of being.
I used to think there was something wrong with me for all the tears. Get it together. What is wrong with you??? Etc. Etc. Self-blame. Self-criticism. A massive lack of patience and grace for myself.
If you consider that we eat lots of food every day and drink liquids, and then our bodies excrete what isn’t needed, wouldn’t it be really logical to apply that equation to emotion?
I am “eating” a lot of emotion during the day. Mine, mass consciousness, media outlets, other people.
I am “drinking” in the experiences of the people I love.
I cannot hold all of that emotion. The brain is a better processor than storage unit. And so, what is meant for me will stay. And what is not meant for me will be excreted. Because it isn’t needed.
Tears. Grunts. Fists punching pillows. Sighs. A sobbing pigeon pose face down on the ground. I just let them out. I don’t hold on. And i don’t judge or blame or hurry myself through it.
Holding space for me has been one of the best lessons of my life.
There is a lesson in everything. We are teachers and learners to the very core. And some learning is cumulative. It grows. It unfolds. There are steps back and leaps forward. We consume consume consume and then… excretion. Wow! I have never said excretion so many times in my life. But it feels appropriate. It’s time to let shit go. It’s the most natural thing to do.
Loving you out there. Have so much compassion and grace this season for yourself. Process. Allow. Break down. Break through. Make space. And let go. XO
Nope. No. It won’t. Your life will repeat. It will follow a pattern. It will habitually reproduce your outcomes.
There is one way out of reliving the same things over and over.
HE, SHE, IT will not change. YOU are the one who needs to change.
Your partner will not change. Your family will not change. Your job will not change. Your financial situation will not change.
YOU change. Then see what happens.
Recently, my friend told me he was having problems with his kid. He decided to try something new. He changed. He went to a therapist.
The therapist told him this awesome news: He can’t control his kid. But if HE CHANGES, things will change. If HE LEARNS SOMETHING NEW, things will change. If HE STARTS BEHAVING DIFFERENTLY, his situation will change. The kid doesn’t have to do therapy with him (although that would be ideal!).
YOU change. Then see what happens.
Free yourself from complaining about your current situation. Free yourself from worry about others. Free yourself from trying to change other people. Leave other people alone.
Here is the most powerful thing any human being can do: YOU CHANGE.
Is change easy? No. That’s why most people don’t do it.
Is doing what you’re currently doing and getting the same outcome awesome? Great. Keep doing it.
Is doing what you’re currently doing and getting the same outcome upsetting you? Great. You have an opportunity on your hands.
Beautiful, smart, you know what I’m talking about reader: No one in your life wants to change for you. So do yourself a favor. Let them all off the hook, because hooks are sharp. Let yourself off the hook. Now that you’re off that hook, take back your incredible power.
You change. Then see what happens. Loving you out there! XO
Gorgeous! Gotta tell you: Your brain, unsupervised, wants to worry. Your brain, without a planned activity, wants to default negative. Some teachers and researchers call this the “negativity bias,” and argue that most of our 70,000 thoughts a day will skew negative as the “default mode network.”
So… This means that if you worry and stress, you are normal.
If you want your brain to think positive, it needs supervision and training.
You are 100% capable of supervising and training your brain. There are so many wonderful tools available. Mindfulness will change your life.
Lately, I’ve been geeking out on Kyle Cease.
You can hear Kyle speak on Lewis Howes’ podcast and you should read his book “I Hope I Screw This Up.” He is a comedian that investigates spirituality and personal development. So fun and INTERESTING. I’m so into him. I do what he says instead of just listening to him. He persuades me to take action.
Kyle convinced me to meditate for an hour a day. I’ve been doing it since December 1st, 2019, and the results are off the charts. Try it!!!
His latest challenge has been to make possibility lists. This practice needs to go in all leader toolkits. Please start doing it every day. I have been doing 10 minutes a day and I’m thinking I need to up the time commitment.
Here’s the deal. Sit without distraction and set your phone timer for 10 minutes. Then, start listing your possibilities out loud. Your positive possibilities. Your dreams come true.
Do not censor. Do not stop. I often start crying during the process but I do not stop. Keep going with what could be possible for you. I have spoken some wild things aloud to myself.
I have surprised myself.
I have delighted myself.
I have started believing that my possibilities are endless and will come true.
I can feel, when I say things out loud, if I doubt the possibility (fear) and if I believe the possibility (knowing).
Maybe you are like me. Despite the degrees and the training, I still worry a lot when my mind is unsupervised. Now, I have a new activity for my busy brain. I think in possibilities. I redirect to what is possible.
It’s possible that it will work out.
It’s possible they will love my class.
It’s possible that everyone wants to sleep with me.
Ha ha! I said that to my friend the other day and we had a good time believing that could be true.
Maybe that’s too creepy for you… but is it possible that everyone wants to work with you? To tell you good jokes? To come to your event?
Yes! It’s possible! It’s possible people want to pay you a lot of money too.
What is possible for you? Start cooking it up. Saying it aloud. Staying with your emotion as it comes and goes. Looking at it all. Being curious.
Gorgeous, worrying, normal brained reader: This is our one, precious life. What is possible for you? This week, be mindful. Train your busy brain to start thinking POSSIBILITY.
Loving you out there. It’s possible you love me too. It’s possible that, together, our love will heal the world. XO
Hello, gorgeous reader! What are you doing out there today?
I was reading. And enjoying it. And then I thought:
Reading would be a great resolution. Resolve to read!
And so I am here telling you about that.
Successful people read. Rich people read. Highly effective people “sharpen the saw,” which means they continue to learn.
How do you learn? I read. And listen to audiobooks. And devour podcasts.
What are you reading lately?
My mom and I had a really interesting conversation about “The Girl on the Train,” a novel by Paula Hawkins. It was one of the books I read this year.
My mom hated the book, couldn’t get through it. She gave it up.
I wanted to give it up. It scared me and haunted me. And yet, I couldn’t put it down. It challenged my thoughts about novels and protagonists. It surprised me. I learned the technique of the “unreliable narrator.”
UNRELIABLE NARRATORS! So fascinating. The concept delights my brain. It expands my imagination. It makes me so intrigued by Paula Hawkins and her ability to play with the reader and toy with our ideas of truth and trust and reliability.
Ooh! So good. What a good book.
No advertisements. No pop up ads. No notifications buzzing while I read. Nothing but the deep delight of focusing my brain and expanding my imagination and building my empathy.
Rich people read. Successful people read. Emotionally intelligent people read. Highly successful people read. Reading is super fun.
What are you waiting for? It’s the best new year’s resolution ever. Forget your body and your weight and your insecurities.
Beautiful, adorable, interested reader: Keep engaging and expanding your mind. In 2020, resolve to read.
Know what? That irritation and frustration is showing up to be loved.
Your anger is showing up to be loved.
Your sadness is showing up to be loved.
Your feelings don’t need to be ignored or numbed away.
Imagine a kid running up to you crying, “I feel so embarrassed.” Would you ignore him? Punish her? Tell that kid to go away? There’s another choice.
Instead, you could open your arms and say, “Come here, love.”
Hold the child.
Tell them to breathe.
Tell them it’s ok.
Tell them that you love them no matter what.
Ask them what happened and what you can learn.
You may need your own attention this week. That’s what feelings are for.
No matter what comes up for you, it is always coming up to be loved.
Gorgeous, brave, human, emotional reader: All of your emotions are 100% lovable. They are there to get your attention. To be understood. To guide you and teach you.
Feeling negative emotion? That’s 100% lovable.
Turn towards yourself. Soothe yourself. Listen to what you need. Our emotions are not problems to be solved. They are beautiful information arising for you to get curious about. They are showing up for you to learn, for you to understand, for you to love, for you to grow.
If so, you’re not alone, and one of the most popular requests I get from workshop participants and students is for me to teach them how to say no.
As a communication PhD, of course I have many tools for you to say no, and I’ll give you a bunch of messaging strategies later in this post. There are many ways to say no in a professional and polite manner.
It’s just that… I really want you to come clean.
You already know how to say no.
You’re an intelligent human being who knows what you want and knows how to get it.
It is not hard to say no.
You just say, “No.”
Or “Thank you, and no.”
So the really fun question is: WHY DO YOU KEEP SAYING YES?
If you really want to make positive changes in your life and feel a whole lot better about the way you fill your calendar, you will dig deep and answer this question.
Why are you saying YES? Get out your journal. Write the answers down.
OK: Do you have a few reasons laid out? Good. Now tell me: Do you like your reasons for saying yes? If so, then you do not have a problem. You have lots of fun things to do.
If you don’t like your reasons for saying yes, then it’s personal growth time. Bravery time. Courage time. Time to face up to the song and dance you’re performing.
Why are you saying yes when you want to say no? Do you think it will make people like you? People liking you is totally out of your control. Do you think other people’s needs are more important than your own? Your needs are just as important as others’ needs. Are you making sacrifices you don’t want to make? Why would you do that? Are you disrespecting yourself and your time? Why?
These are challenging questions that will lead you to listen to your heart. It’s time to honor yourself and the gift of your one precious life.
Your calendar is a reflection of how you value yourself and your time.
Most weeks, I look at my calendar and think, “Yay!” because I like everything on it. I put all the appointments there by choice.
Do you like what you’re choosing to do?
Yay! Good for you. And if not…
Good news! Every day, change is always possible. It’s one word away.
So, for those of you who still want those “NO” tools, here they are:
8 WAYS YOU CAN SAY “YES” TO YOU:
Articulate your focus and values (both are your choice):
“Right now, I’m focusing on women’s leadership issues, so this project is outside my expertise and I respectfully need to decline your offer.”
State a company (legit) or personal policy (make these up, as many as you want):
“Since this project doesn’t fall under my current job description, I need to adhere to company rules and decline.”
“Our family has designated Thursday night as family night, so I don’t schedule work events that evening.”
Clarify the purpose of the request and see if YOU are really needed:
“I understand you want someone to network with our vendors. Several other staff members can fulfill that purpose since I am not available.”
“My schedule is full, so if I say yes to you, what would you like me to put aside?”
Offer another resource/ what you can do:
“Although I can’t make it to your event, I can send a donation or I can send over my intern to help you set up.”
Be honest about your emotions without apologizing or saying “unfortunately”:
“I am afraid of letting you down, yet I can’t do it.”
“I appreciate and respect you, and no.”
Put the request on a 24-hour hold:
“I will need to check my calendar and touch base with my team/family, so I will get back to you in 24 hours.”
Simply say “No.” It is a complete sentence that deserves respect.
Gorgeous, intelligent, amazing reader: You are bright and beautiful and smart. You know how to say no. So, this week, figure out why you are saying yes.
Before you will ever be able to effectively use my tools, you have to acknowledge that the way you are living your life is your choice and your responsibility and your opportunity for joy. Make your calendar an awesome strategic plan leading you to your dreams. Enjoy it.