Archive for honesty

Risk. Regret. Realism.

By Guest Blogger, Andrea Lea-Kraus.

risk

1: Possibility of loss or injury : peril
2: The chance that an investment (as a stock or commodity) will lose value

regret:
1 a : To mourn the loss or death of
1 b : To miss very much
2 : To be very sorry for

realism:
1 : Concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary

Sometimes… when the concept-mosquitoes are swarming around the muggy, boggy swamp of my mind… 

I have to dip into the clear, cool, as-yet-untainted (by that sticky, humid, south Georgia-in-July, bulldog-with-a-bone mind), Merriam-Webster-well take on what words mean. Take it back to the basics. Detach a little. Relax the jaw.

Somehow, grabbing onto a definition helps things feel less personal when every thought in the swarm seems to itch for days, sometimes at an intensity level that sends me clawing awkwardly for that unreachable spot one inch to the right of the angel-bone – you know, the one on the tight-shoulder-side of life.

Words like shame, regret, disappointment, regret, never, too late, settle, dissatisfaction, regret, are fast-breeding parasites in the muddled mind; squatters in the high-rent district whose rights are illogically and ironically protected by universal law, who have only to show up to get a free meal and a place to stay.

How unfortunate and unfair that words like forgiveness, self-love, beauty, perfection, joy, good, have to be lassoed into one’s consciousness over and over, with never-ending dedication and a fool’s faith – like doing crunches every day to keep in touch with those abs we’ve heard are underneath – just to make a blip on one’s screen of awareness (I mean, how many crunches have you done without seeing any result? What does it take???).

So, several parasitic concepts are giving me the itch right now.

The double-edged blade of “risk” is neither friend nor foe, though we tend to sing the praises of the shiny side of the sword here (and rightly so – enough of that toothy, serrated side being worshipped out there), but I cannot help but see how the risks I have taken in my life have mostly led me down the painful path to regret. My mind is pretty clever sometimes, in the Cheshire Cat way that minds can be clever enough to lead one just out of earshot of one’s higher voice – one’s True Voice? – so intellectually I know that I can take this idea and spin it into a positive… but where does the spin begin and where does it end?

Once I start the new-age “think positive” spin, how do I decide what was first spun and what is just REAL?

I can say that all my risks worked out because we all got out alive and it could always be worse, but that’s not real – that’s not what I really feel. That’s a manufactured thought, designed by the Cheshire cat mind and the new wave of feel-good thinking which, by the way, I buy into 99%.

I keep being drawn back to the scene in Adam Sandler’s Spanglish where Tia Leone’s character is having a nervous breakdown in her big, black SUV with her mother standing by the window saying, “lately your low self-esteem is just good common sense.”

I usually only write or appear in any way when I have something figured out; when I have trekked past the mirage’s promise of quenching my thirst on the surface, and burrowed deeply enough into the earth’s bosom to slurp one sip of crystal clear truth, swirling it around on my parched palate, grateful and cleansed…

But that is not where they send my mail. I am thrilled to have a glimpse now and then and bring home my big fish tales to anyone who’ll listen, but I dwell too in this buggy swamp with the squatters and skeeters.

I am not sure what I am risking today. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually known what was at risk in the moment that I “took” it. There has always been an unfolding of joys or consequences I could not have seen around those corners. I’m not sure if it is “good” to share the negative feelings while they still feel negative. I’ve always gone with the if-you-don’t-have-something-nice-to-say dogmatic principle, so this is a new approach for me.

I’m going to say that I’m risking looking at my shit realistically and owning the fact that I feel, at times, like I could drown in a sea of regret. Like I am on damage control. Like I’ll do the best with where I got myself but I followed that damn disappearing, hallucinated Cheshire cat so far off course that I have given up on finding my way back… like I can never risk again because I am frozen by the cold reality of how long and empty the hall of life can feel and how far an echo can travel. Like I need to mourn some losses (is mourning a task one can ever complete?).

Maybe I’m risking a different kind of honesty.

My life is so good and I have so much to be joyful about in the NOW – but I am apparently never quite finished punishing myself for my past mistakes, so I have to rip myself out of the moment (don’t worry, I know it’s wrong and I am already punishing myself for this, too). That’s not the sort of thing you admit on a blog! This is a place for higher thinking and self-development, answers and solutions, steps forward and progress!

The best I can say is that Mercury is retrograde and I am, too.

This post originally appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay Blog Project which has now concluded.

 Andi Lea-Kraus is a yoga teacher, personal trainer, writer , and all-around artist who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not teaching, training, writing, painting, taking photos, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks. Andi’s plans for the future include finding her way to the musical theatre stage. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website here.

How Now, Brown Cow?

Howdy!

Yesterday, I published a post entitled “Are You Playing the Tapes All the Way Through?” In it, I shared about an inner conflict I’d had and how I became clear about the way I could best to handle it. I also promised to give you seven additional strategies for getting clear about your best course of action when faced with multiple, conflicting choices. But I’m not going to do that…

I’m going to give you eight – nine in all! 🙂

Before I get to the list, though, I’m going to go ahead and give you your homework. Just as I suggested yesterday, please begin using these strategies right away. They’ll be useful for you all along your journey, but only if you remember them and how to put them into in play. Plus, using them will enable you to figure out which ones best fit your style. All of them won’t.

Now, here we go:

  1. Ask yourself which choice is more aligned with your long-term goals, and which is choice is more about getting what you want right now, or in the short-term,
  2. Check in with your Higher Power, whether you call that your Higher Self, the Divine within you, God, Goddess, the Universe, the Great Spirit, or some other entity or term more preferable to you. Listen closely, and then be willing to act on what you hear,
  3. Honestly contemplate how you’d expect to feel after having acted on each of the different choices, then be willing to give yourself the gift of acting on the one that genuinely feels the best (In case you missed it, this is the condensed version of yesterday’s “playing the tapes all the way through,”
  4. Imagine you are watching a movie in which you are the beloved heroine or hero, facing the same situation as you’re facing in real life. Ask yourself what decision you’d want your character to take, which course of action you think would do her or him the most good,
  5. Listen to the suggestions of your friends, certainly. Remember, though, that they are only suggestions, based on their own experiences and perspectives of how the world works. You get the final say,
  6. Ponder which choice will further you along the path of becoming who you want to be and creating the life you desire, and which choice(s) would take you in another direction entirely,
  7. Present the conflict to your inner board of advisors or your your inner wise counsel. This entity is made up of people you admire, dead or alive, real or fictional, such as Eleanor Roosevelt or your late grandfather, or like your mentor coach or Atticus Finch. They don’t even have to be people. Sometimes I think about what my dog Little Bit would do, or I check in with the deer or a favorite tree. Think about what you know or at least what you imagine to be true about these beings. Then, make up what you think they’d do in this situation, and thus would advise you to do, too,
  8. Reflect on why you want to do each of the choices, letting the different voices in your head have their say. (No, this doesn’t make you crazy – we all have voices in our heads!) Then, having heard from each member of your *Inside Team, take charge and make an executive decision, laying down the law about the the next step you’ve decided to take,
    Then last, and perhaps my favorite,
  9. Take the time to ponder which choice is the more loving one, and which is more of an indulgence. (Ouch. This one gets me every time.)

Gosh, who knew there were so many different ways to consider the most suitable choice when faced with a difficult (or even seemingly simple) decision? But that’s good. We want to be equipped with a variety of ways to handle inner conflict, because they do and will continue to happen.

Even though I was able to list nine strategies here, I’m certain there are more.

How do you choose what’s next for you when faced with two or more ways you could go? What do you use as the scale with which to weigh your options? I do hope you’ll comment below with your favorite techniques. I’d love to keep adding to my list, both for myself, my clients, and any others who might stop by True Voices’ Be You Out Loud blog for a little love and inspirationg.

One last thing: It may be scary to slow down, in order to make the right decision for you in the moment, but you’re worth it. Don’t think so? Trust me. I know.

OK, my lovely. Get ready, get set, get clear!

*Important note: The Inside Team is a fun and powerful coaching methodology, and the brain child of Master Certified Coach, Cynthia Loy Darst of the Coaches Training Institute, the Center for Right Relationship (CRR Global), and her own company she shares with her husband, Inspiration Point.

If you are an advanced coach, and you’re reading this post on the 17th of September, please know that there is an Inside Team Coach Training Course that starts today! It’s not too late to sign up. Just go to the Inside Team Coach Training Course page on Center for Right Relationship’s website by clicking here and check it out. I’d be willing to bet that if you see this within the week after the start date, and want to join the tele-training then, they would let you in then, too! And, even though I don’t get any money for signing you up for the course, I am one of the Inside Team Mentor Coaches. I would love to have you join me there!

And last but certainly not least…

Cynthia Loy Darst is wise beyond her years, and someone I’m grateful to be able to call my teacher, mentor, and friend. Check out her delightfully insightful and deeply moving TEDx talk here.

Heartache

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

A few days ago I took the risk of being honest with myself. I sat down and wrote about everything that hurts right now: all the pain that follows me around, all the unfinished business and emotional uncertainty that causes my heart to shrink into a tiny, hard ball. My heart is a peach pit these days.

I wrote it all down, and I vowed to tell it to at least one person. I decided not to publish it here. As much as I trust my fellow bloggers, I don’t want the whole world to have access to my soft spots. But I know that I’ll only release the pain when I share it, so I promised myself that I wouldn’t keep that piece of writing to myself.

Then I decided to make a Risk List. In spite of all the stress and pain in my life right now, I realized that I have taken a number of risks just in the last month. I deserve credit. A badge of courage would be nice, if the Wizard of Oz is still handing them out.

Here goes:

I worked closely with my sister to move my mother from independent to assisted living, and I gave my mom physical and emotional support on a daily basis. I faced up to the changes in her cognition. I committed myself to a new way of life, with her well-being as a top priority.

I planned and carried out a long-weekend trip with my daughter to see a musician she admires perform in Philadelphia. I decided it was essential for her to know that her mother is here for her, even when Grandma’s needs are great.  I trusted my sister and my husband to care for my mom while I was gone (and they did, beautifully). I trusted the airlines, and the rail lines, and the kindness of strangers to see us safely there and back again. I trusted that my daughter’s life would be enhanced by the trip, and that it was worth it to go out on a limb, even at a stressful time.

I maintained a commitment to travel to Haiti in early December with others from my church. I attended meetings, got my shots, and asked my doctor for prescriptions for malaria and cholera. I still don’t know if we’re going; we are meeting next week to discuss safety issues. As of now, I’m still in the group. I don’t let myself think about it all that often, and when I do think about it I get scared. I am stepping into completely new territory. (For the record, if I come to believe I’m risking my life, I’ll stay home. I have too much to live for here.)

Those are the risks I’ve taken. I’ve also begun a list of risks I want to take. I’ll mention just one of them: I want to risk stepping out of my religious tradition and visiting a Buddhist meditation center. I need help staying grounded and peaceful. It feels like a risk to seek help in this way — not through the church, or yoga, or therapy, or coaching, but through a spiritual tradition I know almost nothing about. I wonder if I’ll dare.

Maybe my current heartache is leading me naturally to a tradition that acknowledges suffering as one of life’s basic truths. Time will tell.

Carolyn Cook is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship.

This post originally appeared on RiskADay.com.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Goddess of Authenticity and Courage

I have been re-reading one of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt biographies, Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, and seriously, this woman rocked!  Hence, I see her as a great choice with whom to kick off Women’s History Month (after my mom, of course)!

I am not going to even begin to think that I can do her justice here, in a little ol’ blog post.  What I am going to do is point you over to her page on Wikipedia.  First, however, I am going to list only some of the many great things she is quoted as having said.  Enjoy!

  • Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run, it is easier.  We do not have to become heroes overnight.  Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.
  • Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
  • Friendship with one’s self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.
  • I you have something to say, you can say it.
  • I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.
  • In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
  • It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
  • One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.
  • People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.
  • Readjustment is a kind of private revolution.
  • Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.
  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.
  • What matters now, as always, is not what we can’t do:  it is what we can and must do.
  • When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
  • When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
  • Work is easier to carry when your heart is involved.
  • Women are like tea bags – you can’t tell how strong they are until you put them in hot water.
  • Women, whether subtly or vociferously, have always been a tremendous power in the destiny of the world.