Six months in and what have I learned? 

Six months feels like an important marker in time. 
 
As I went on a beautiful run and subsequent walk yesterday, I realized that there are two lessons that I've come to understand the importance of on a deeper level these past six months.  The first is the lesson of gratitude that I always talk so much about.  These past months, our lives have been drastically changing every single day.  Sometimes, from moment to moment, we don't know what will come next.  With all the change and uncertainty, I've felt more acutely than ever before how important it is to really be in each and every moment and to be grateful for it - when things are good and when things are not.   I've had to rely more on what I know about the opportunities that lie in challenges and remind myself of that many times a day.
 
The second lesson that I talk about quite a bit and teach in every offering in The Overture Institute, is the importance of being able to listen to...
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Maybe instead, be curious

These are challenging times.  

 

Everyone in my life, everyone that I speak to, has something going on in their lives right now that is challenging them.  It could be related to health, to relationship, to uncertainty, to employment...all of it.  This realization got me thinking about a conversation I had with a good friend and someone who is connected to self not too long ago.  This person has been in my life a few years, and has been a friend and guide to me through some of the most uncertain times of my life so far.  The last time we touched base, the conversation became about the opportunity that challenges give us.  

 

For most people, challenges are something negative, something to be overcome and fixed.  But in our conversation, he offered to me that challenges that come into our lives were not negative.  They aren't something to be resisted.  What if, instead, challenges were an opportunity to stop, listen, go within and...

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Clearing Space

I very recently experienced another moment of one of life's Reminders.  It's amazing, really, that now when they come, I can feel them as they approach, when they are happening, and also recognize when I'm on the other side.  Today, I'm on the other side of my most recent Reminder and am feeling at peace and deeply grateful.  

While I was in it, I felt like a buoy being pulled down.  As soon as I cleared it though, everything around me and within me just sprung up!  Right back to the surface, taking a big breath of fresh air at the top.   

This particular Reminder was about Clearing Space - specifically, a forced clearing space in life to allow for what should really be there - people and activity.  

As I think back on it, I understand that if we really listen to ourselves, I think we know what should be there.  How many of us are distracted by other things, though?  Especially now, when there is so much going on around us that can...

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Wake Up

Maya Angelou has famously said: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

There are many lessons I've learned so far.  One of the most important is that life will always provide opportunity to learn and grow, if you're listening.  When you don't listen, life will keep offering up more opportunities to learn, at times, with growing intensity.  

There are many things we have both collectively and individually known for quite some time.  Some of us chose to forget early on.  Some of us still remember, but may not choose to do something about it, out of fear.  Perhaps for these people, the stakes have not yet been high enough.  

Years upon years of these choices lead us to this moment, where the circumstances we have built and permitted all around us have become so destructive that they will no longer be ignored.  

In contrast, I know that many have been listening and learning and...

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What to do next?

Most people alive on earth today have never been through this kind of thing before.  

To have such a world-wide, disruptive, dangerous virus among us - it's an eye-opening and uncertain time.  Some days I think though that we have always had viruses around us, this one is just more visible than the ones we have been living with for longer- pervasive in society.  

Nevertheless, here we are.

Confronted with many difficult things, but also feeling (at least for me) that the happy and joyful realities are that much sweeter and more important.  It's really about survival in a way that it hasn't been so far in my life, at least.  It's a challenge and an opportunity.  

Things are coming into focus in new ways for me now.  Things that mattered before, matter more now.  Things that were on the edges have fallen off.  Some things, places and people are dearly missed.  But this time has also become a great reminder for me.  

For the last...

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What Comes With Us

Once I acclimated to the idea that this was the new normal, it got easier.  I was able to free up more space in my thoughts for the other things I was actively working towards before this happened.  To reorient and evaluate my goals and look towards what I can do, instead of what I can't.
 
It's quiet here.  It's so quiet I can hear my knees creak when I walk down the stairs.  The water is softened, so for the first week I felt like there was always soap on my hands.  Clocks tick and chime as reminders to get on conference calls and virtual meetings.   The dog snores in front of the fireplace.  They have counter space and a normal sized refrigerator.  Birds chirp in the yard and one even built a nest.    My screen time has gone up exponentially.  I brought a few bags with me and have learned that I can live with a lot less.  I'm playing the piano again.  I made bread.  I made everything. 
 
I got to...
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Control

The pic I chose for this was a little dramatic...but not much! Sometimes when I'm feeling out of control, that reaction fits perfectly.  It's very uncomfortable and is a place and state of being that I'm working on getting more, well, comfortable with.

 

For me, sometimes an actual or perceived lack of control can illicit an outward reaction.  More often than not, though, my reaction to a lack of control comes up for me in ways that I am just linking back to, and that are less obvious.  There are behaviors I engage in that I am just now realizing are a reaction of mine to a feeling of being out of control.  Last week I had one such realization around the way I was behaving in relationship with other people.

 

There is a pattern that ends up emerging, if you are brave enough to really look at your self and your behavior.  I discovered this behavior a while ago (years) and so now, I'm pretty good at curbing it before it starts.  But, because I'm...

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Expectation

Lately I've been thinking a lot about expectation.  

I'm not thinking about it as it pertains to baking, or the weather or the stock market.  I'm thinking about it in the ways in which it impacts my life in relationship, and those I've witnessed. 

As I recall, most of the times I have been hurt or disappointed, a person or circumstance has not met with an expectation I had of it.  Sometimes this expectation was known to the person.  Many times it was not.  

I think that perhaps placing expectation is an act of attempting control.  Such a strong desire or need or want to make something happen, or to influence something, that expectations are put upon the person or circumstance.  

I wonder, if you need to rely on control, or expectation, does that mean that you don't fully trust in something?  Perhaps that something is in yourself?  Perhaps that something is the knowing that all things are conspiring in your favor, ultimately.  

...

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With gratitude

I'll be honest and just say that sometimes the choice to be hopeful is not an easy one.  

It is a daily choice - sometimes a choice made moment by moment.  

This past week was incredible for me personally, and for my family.  Ultimately, I am overflowing with gratitude and hope and joy and love as I sit and write - but I know that I can only get to this place and appreciate it because I am aware and have felt the other side.  

So therefore, I think it's important that the perspective the downside gives us be celebrated too - when we are ready to celebrate it.  

*****

I've gotten to a place where I can quickly recognize that I'm in a difficult funk.  It usually comes about when I have forgotten how to listen to myself and get caught into listening to others.  It's a tough place to be in though, especially because I'm always outnumbered :)

I have found it crucial, then, to cultivate a strong relationship with myself - one that I can recognize and...

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The importance of taking time

I looked up and it was mid-December.  How?!

Well of course I know how.

Each month I thought that I would take the time to write my thoughts down, post on social, etc.  

Didn't happen.  

Instead, each day of each week I had something else take that time, and I realized quickly how easy it really is to lose track and not live your life in the mindful ways we all want to.  I, too, fell into a place where I was getting down on myself for not prioritizing as I knew I wanted to.  

Soon, though, as I looked December head-on, I was reminded of my end of year evaluation process and in that remembering, I snapped back into a place where I had the motivation to set aside this time.  This was a trigger that worked for me, and the result is that I have dedicated time in a few weeks to do this review, and I also protected the time in my calendar enough to just write this very post.  I had something else entirely planned, but knew that this was too important and...

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