Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

I’m Tired…

Actually, I’m tired and a little cranky! Just ask my family. I’ve missed writing my blog the last 2 weeks. I was at a work event last Monday… and I don’t even remember the week before that. My life seems to be a big blur of doing. And with so much to do, I’ve forgotten what I did almost as soon as I’ve done it! Forget about remembering to do the little things that make me happy… there’s no time!

I think my melancholy mood lately has to do with a question that was posed… I can’t even remember where I heard it or from whom. The question was, “Can you list 7 accomplishments from the last week?” That’s one accomplishment per day. I thought about it. Then I thought about it some more. 7 seemed like an inordinately large number. I started wondering if making your bed counted as an accomplishment. Then they said that, for those of us that were struggling with coming up with 7 accomplishments, they would shift the question to 7 things you’re proud of from the last week. I thought about it… then I thought about it some more… seriously? Lately I’m proud of myself if I make it through the day without forgetting about an appointment, a meeting or picking someone up/dropping someone off close to said time. Does that really count as a proud moment… or is that kinda like the bed-making accomplishment above?

The thing is… I’m tired. Did I already mention that? I haven’t been sleeping well. Unfortunately, despite my lack of respite, the daily grind continues. I do my best to show up and be present at work. The house gets a mediocre cleaning on my day off. Bills… laundry… dishes… garbage… feeding the dog… making lunches… dinner… grocery shopping… cleaning toilets… HUH?  I’ve been listening to an audio program lately that talks about how we are already our best selves… we just need to allow our best selves to come forth. Where is my best self in the midst of this? Who has time to “allow” anything to happen when you’re so busy trying to get through the day? The crazy part is… I love my job… and my kids… my husband, my house, my dog… my life! But… there’s also that part of me that wants more. The part that wants to be a published author… an energy healer… a meditation master and spiritual guru… and someone who has time to do yoga every day.

The funny thing is that some days are great. Work goes well. The kids get along and we laugh together on the drive to school. Dinner is easy… or my husband makes it (even better!)… homework is done before I get home and the kids and I read together in the big bed – exploring our way through story… and making up some of our own along the way. In reality, most days are much crazier than that. I’m yelling at the kids by the time we make it to the car… or I’m biting my lip off in efforts not to yell – and we’re running terribly late! The kids argue on the drive in, or whine terribly that we’re not early enough to get a treat on the way to school. I get home from work and dinner is a distant thought in the future. Although we seem to have a plethora of actual food stuffs… my husband points out that there is NO food to eat in the house. The homework is not done, there are chapters to read and no one has showered in… well… lets just say they need a shower!

I don’t want my proud moments to be that I didnt’ yell at my kids and I remembered to make my bed (especially since most days I don’t!). I want more than that. I want to allow my most beautiful (best) self to shine through… but I’m not sure how deep she is buried and I’m not sure how to let her out. And I guess the biggest question on my mind tonight is this… if I am my most beautiful self in this moment… if this is the best I’ve got… at least for now… then why am I so adamant about searching for more? Why can’t I just stop and appreciate this most beautiful self and call it a day? Seriously… does anyone know of a book I can buy on that one? Keep me posted!

Remember to love and laugh today… those are accomplishments to be proud of in and of themselves!    ~Rashel

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All or Nothing

Why is it that we are so compelled to all-or-nothing mentality? I get that maybe there are times when we need to draw a hard-line and take a stance on something… but in general… through most of the decisions in life… I just don’t think the all or nothing approach is very helpful. In fact, I think that most of the time, it gets in the way.

This morning is a small, but no less valid, example. My family and I had a busy weekend. Of course, Monday morning rolls around with a bang. I wake up a little late… it’s 7:10am. I think to myself – this is not going to be a fun morning. I’m going to have to rouse my children out of bed and nag, yell, pester them continuously in order to get out the door in time for school. In hindsight, I’m thinking I could have easily woken the children and told them we were running a bit late. Instead of stressing out, I could have allowed them a little extra time, and we could have arrived at school shortly after the bell rang. Here’s where the all-or-nothing part comes in. Instead, I rolled over and went back to sleep. I guess on some level of consciousness, my mind said, “If we can’t be on time, why bother getting up?”

After arriving an hour late to drop the kids at school, and having to admit to the secretary that the reason we were late was that we “slept in”… I started thinking about this all-or-nothing attitude. It’s not the first time this type of thinking has not been helpful. Of course, the more common areas where all-or-nothing thinking gets us in trouble is food and exercise. “Well, if I’m going to have a bite of ice cream, I might as well have that whole carton!” “I don’t really feel like going to the gym… so I might as well sleep all day long!” Why is it that doing some portion… eating a few bites (which is probably all we really need to feel satisfied) or walking for 10 minutes, if that’s really what we’re feeling up to at the time… feels like failure and becomes not even worth it? When did that happen? And why does it persist?

Perhaps it gets at a very core belief that many of us have that we are not enough. That what we contribute, if it’s not the ultimate extreme, is not good enough. If we started accepting where we are… being content with what we are able to accomplish, contribute, “be” in any given moment… instead of beating ourselves up and judging ourselves for not being enough… what would happen? I think there’s a fear that we would backslide. That if we started easing up on the reigns, we would never move forward. After many, many years of pushing and shooting for the extreme… I’m starting to question whether this is true.

Take the scenario this morning with getting the kids to school. If I’d gotten up, allowed the kids to get ready in a normal, relaxed manner, and gotten them to school 10 minutes late… I probably would have beaten myself up and judged myself for being late. As it happened, I slept in, got them to school an hour late, and proceeded to beat myself up and judge myself for being late. Are you noticing a theme? What if, instead of beating myself up for being 10 minutes late, I congratulated myself for not being an hour late? Same situation, but viewed with a different lens. In one scenario, I’m feeling judged and unhappy… in the other, I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Again… same situation!

Now, I suppose you could argue that I could take the same tactic with the hour late scenario… at least I got them to school today instead of just skipping the whole day. Well… you’re right. In fact, if I allow myself that scenario… and accept that I’m doing the best I can… then I start feeling better about myself… which I can’t help but think influences the future decisions I make and how I function in the world. I guess the bottom line to me is that the all or nothing thinking tends to crop up from a place of judgment. If we can be nicer to ourselves, perhaps we can make decisions that lead us closer to how we want to be… who we want to be. And… if we can be nice to ourselves all along the way… how much happier we will be! And isn’t that what we’re all going for, after all? Don’t we all want to be happier?

Something to think about for the week!  Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

The Power of Stories…

I had two very different experiences this week that had a common theme… stories. I’ve been reading Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind. It’s really interesting, in that it details the shift of focus from the left brain to the right brain… logical, systematic thinking to big-picture, design. Pink insists that as we move forward, the people who are valued and appreciated will not be those who systematically figure out the details, but those who are able to interpret those details into a compelling story.

So, I guess that’s where this story begins. Stories, and the ability to tell them well, have been on my mind. I’ve always been impressed, and a little bit fascinated, with my Dad’s ability to tell a really good story. At first, I took for granted that a good story would be heard and appreciated. Then I tried re-telling one of my Dad’s stories. Not only did I kill the punchline, but halfway through I looked around and saw people’s eyes glazing over. Oops… definitely had an impact and drove home the reality that story telling is not automatic… it takes skill and practice.

Anyway, back to the story at hand (I guess, truth be told, I still tend to get a bit off track now and then!). I went to a conference for work earlier this week. The conference was on shared decision-making, but for all intents and purposes, it could have been any topic. There were multiple speakers, enough credentials to fill multiple pages, data up the wazoo and plenty of research both completed and in progress to be shared. At the end of the day, when I thought about the take aways, what I realized stood out to me more than anything were the stories. A couple of the presenters told stories as a way to share their message. Also, there were patients in attendance, who had a chance to tell their stories. The studies, the data, the facts and the figures had their place… but the compelling portion of the day… the messages that stuck with me, were told through stories. I walked away from that conference vowing to use a lot less powerpoint and a lot more story in any presentation I give!

Fast-forward to the weekend. I was attending a celebration of a dear family friend lost at too early an age to cancer. Instead of the usual ceremony, the “service” was really a group of family and friends getting together to remember and give thanks for the life of this man. There came a time in the evening when one close friend stood up and invited stories. Through the telling of stories… a tradition that has been passed down from ancient generations… the life and love of this great man was celebrated and brought forth for all to experience. There is something about the telling of stories that engenders emotion… more so than words or data can do alone. Often we can experience a similar feeling from pictures… but mostly because they invoke in us a story, or a remembering of events or feelings of a particular time.

So, on a very superficial level, I closed the week with two intentions… to tell more stories when I’m presenting and to make well-known to all that I want people to tell stories when I’ve passed. On a more profound level… I walked away with somewhat of a commitment to myself… I want to create stories… I want to share experiences with friends and family that create lasting memories of joy and laughter… because at the end of the day… or life… that is what matters most. Connection. Joy. Love. Family. Friends. Passion. Leaving a legacy of stories.

In humble and heartfelt appreciation of the many stories that have been shared with me… and the many stories and memories I get to help create… may the journey be filled with laughter, joy and gratitude. Love and laughter to you all.  ~Rashel

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