Hitting the Mat

“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.” – Albert Einstein

So here is how this is going to work.

There will not be another blog post with a list of action items that I will reflect upon 6 months from now and then whine about when I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. Been there, done that, over it. I have action items in my head of course (it is a universal truth that nothing gets done with out them) but this obsessive list maker is not going to make a list.

The plan is to actually DO stuff, and if I feel like it, write about it.  I do like writing.  It’s therapeutic, it helps me feel connected to the world. If all goes well, you will see more posts about stuff that I actually DO.

Starting now.

Today, I left the house for my Sunday morning Yoga class.  My favorite yoga teacher in NYC  is back from maternity leave and I am SO happy to be reunited with her. Her classes are 1 1/2 hours of crazy (sometimes confusing) poses, being there for yourself, and thinking about what’s important.

If I had not gone to class today, I would not have heard this reading, which I loved.  Apparently it was inspired by a cocktail party where the author answered inane questions all night (read more about that and the author here).  I am sure I am breaking all kinds of copyright laws but including here.  If you continue on to read this, you have to agree to bail me out of copyright jail if necessary:

 “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

If I were a yoga teacher, could I just sit around and think about this stuff all day? Are yoga teachers happier than other people? Every yoga teacher I have ever met seems pretty darn happy.  Until I can figure out how to stand on my head without envisioning my neck breaking and balance in tree pose for more than 15 seconds, this is probably not in the cards for me, but I am going to do my best to hit the mat more often…as a gift to myself.


Keep on Rolling

Last week, someone asked me what my “two words” were.  One word to describe how I want the world to see me and another word to describe what I want to give to the world.  I have no idea if he invented this “two words” concept or got it from some book he saw on Oprah.  I didn’t ask.

I couldn’t decide what my words were.  My mind went blank.

His words were “compelling” and “inspire”.  I was so jealous of his words.  How cool would it be to actually live “compelling” and “inspire”?

I have been deep in thought this week pondering my words and my life. I always want to be more, do more, and feel more. My few devoted blog fans have seen the trend. I am occasionally inspired and then I get distracted or lose steam and live life vicariously thought my fictional TV friends. This year has brought the distraction of another extremely demanding job that sucks up all of my energy. The job is challenging and financially rewarding, but am I passionate about it? Not so much.

Doing a good job makes me feel good. Being productive and accomplishing tasks, makes me feel good. It’s kind of crazy that it almost does not matter what the task is.  If I check it off, it makes me feel good.  Herein may lie part of the problem.  Perhaps each task needs a “feel good” grade next to it.  How good will I feel if I accomplish this particular task?  I try to limit my tasks so I can do them all perfectly.  I was reminded of this when I read this post earlier today on being addicted to perfection. It is my biggest addiction.  LOVE this post and it is so in line with my thoughts this week.

Can I transform from an organized, responsible, perfectionist who keeps the world at a distance to someone who throws caution to the wind, is always trying new things, knows what her passions are, lives them every day and is constantly out in the world interacting with people.  I say yes!  I see glimmers of that person in myself when I get my  a&% off the couch.  It might take a few more years to get there, but I will continue to push that rock up the hill and not give up.

Nothing can be accomplished without action items.  This is a universal truth. It is once again, time to regroup, draft some serious, life transforming action items and follow through.  This Sisyphus thing is exhausting.

Before I embark on new action items, I do have to close out this “two words” thing.  I settled on “compassionate” (how I want the world to see me) and “give back” (what I want to give the world).  Any one who knows me should be nodding their head saying, yup, those are her words. I am happy to check that off the list. I do know who I am.  Compelling, not so much, but I would like to think I am a little bit inspiring too…

Deep Thoughts on In-Between Clothes

As I was gathering my laundry today I realized I need a better plan for my in-between clothes.  These are clothes that I might wear again before I do my laundry.  I have a fabulous  laundry hamper (pictured right.) It is well designed, sturdy,  attractive, and one of Oprah’s favorite things.  What you can’t see in this photo, is that is has a handle and wheels so I can roll it right down to the laundry room. My neighbors frequently ask about where they can acquire one. (If you are interested, you can buy one here)

As fabulous as this laundry hamper is, I don’t want to put anything in it unless I am 100% certain that I will not wear it again before I do my laundry.  I could wear a pair of jeans many times before I wash them.  T-Shirts could get warn twice.  You get the drift.

But I also refuse to put clothing I have warn back in with my clean clothes.  Besides the fact that the clean clothes would be contaminated, I could forget to take them back out when I do my laundry!  When the laundry is done, I want every article of clothing in my house to be clean (except the laundry outfit unfortunately.)  A clean slate.  My heart sinks when I realize I forgot to put something in the wash.  Sometimes, I will actually hand wash it so I can have my clean slate :).

Because of these neuroses I have about the laundry, I have piles of in-between clothes on the floor in my room and on the floor of my closet.  Everything is out where I can see it, so I don’t forget to wash it and I know what I should wear again before I take out something new. It’s ridiculous.

So I started thinking today that maybe I have an idea for my first invention!  I have a problem that needs to be solved, I just have to come up with the perfect product to solve it and I can start my own business!  Finally, an idea!  Then I realized I might be the only human being on the planet who actually has this problem.

I would love to know if anyone out there has ever given this any thought so I can gauge exactly how neurotic I really am about my in-between laundry.  Please share…

I Couldn’t Help It

I was feeling naked without an official list of action items/goals for the year.  Last Spring I spent hours coming up with a mission statement, objectives, and SMART goals for 2010 (reviewed in this blog post.)

When 2011 started, I decided I did not want to spend lots of time coming up with specific measurable goals.  Since I was basically continuing my quest from 2010, I wanted to just get to it and not spend lots of time developing a new list.  My strategy was validated by this post on the Conventional Freedom Blog:  Take Your Smart Goals and Shove Em.

But now, I have much less pleasure when I actually accomplish something, because I have no list on which to check it off.  Let’s face it, I am a Penelope.  (Click here to learn what a Penelope is.  Love this blog.)

So I am going to keep it simple (the original plan was 5 but I am a Penelope so I have 10).  Here is my list:

  1. Seek out and take advantage of opportunities to interact with people that I might find interesting and enjoy spending time with
  2. Cultivate more relationships (platonic & romantic)
  3. Be open and take risks (personal & professional)
  4. Keep my TV watching to a minimum (10 hours or less) to make room in my brain/life for learning new things
  5. Read at least one book/month (alternating between fiction & non-fiction)
  6. Work out at least 3x/week including at least one Yoga workout (preferably at a Yoga studio)
  7. Meditate at least 3x/week
  8. Buy less stuff (not going full on minimalist, but dabbling)
  9. Join the board of a non-profit organization – DONE!!!
  10. Give away a higher % of my salary – DONE!!! (this comes along with #9)

I now feel much better because I can officially say that I have accomplished 2 of my 10 goals!  The remaining items are not all things I can “check off” but I can review the list weekly and ask myself if I am living these “principles.”  These are the actions that I think will help me live my best life and it just makes me feel better to have them on a list.  As January comes to a close, I can safely say that I doing well with most of them.  Go me!

Crazy Pants

Do you have any words or phrases that you only use when you talk to yourself (silently, most of the time) and never say out loud to other people?

Crazy Pants is a new one I have been using in my head recently.  When someone I interact with does something a little weird or annoying, I call them a Crazy Pants in my head.  Let me illustrate.

The other night I was at a very nice women’s networking event for my business school with current students and alumnae.  One of my favorite things about the event was that is was structured (I LOVE structure, especially at a networking event.)

We all sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and each student was asked to pose 1-2 questions for the alums.  Then we broke for dinner and unstructured mingling (I spent that entire time chatting with a close friend I see all the time, which was kind of rude and I feel bad about it.) Then we got back together in a circle, the facilitator read off questions the students had posed,  and the alums could volunteer to answer.

This is where Crazy Pants ruined my evening.

During Q&A, she completely dominated the conversation and insisted on answering every question with LONG, annoying stories and not so wise advice.

For example, “Keep a sense of humor in business school.  A guy in my class was an alcoholic and got a job a Booze Allen.” (Maybe slightly amusing, but being an alcoholic is not really funny.  If knew someone who really was an an alcoholic, I would not be making jokes about them.)  Then she came up with 4 other examples of.”A person in my class was a X and got a job at X”.  It was bizarre.  It seemed like they were all made up and that she had been working on them for years.

There were a few other women who also dominated a bit too much but this one was the worst.  She was a Crazy Pants and my description does not even do her justice. I am still annoyed after three days.  I have actually been in a bad mood since I left that event and I blame Crazy Pants.  Perhaps, venting on the internet will help.

If another good Crazy Pants story comes up I will share it with you.  It won’t be with this person because I will run if I ever see her coming my way, but I live in NYC and we have a lot of Crazy Pants here!

The Thin Line Between Fear and Disinterest

Since I wrote about tackling that last duck, I have been doing a lot of thinking about exactly how I will “get out there” and I find myself asking the same questions I have asked myself in the past.

What things am I avoiding, that I might actually enjoy if I get over my nervousness about it, and what things do I really just not have interest in?  Should I force myself to do things I am not really interested in if there is a chance to meet interesting people?  Am I trying hard enough?  Then I get all tangled up and I am sometimes not even sure what I am interested in.

Today, I realized I am in a much better place to answer those questions than I have been in the past.

I was thinking this morning that my calendar for the foreseeable future is blank.  I am in job limbo and not really sure what my next job will be and when it will start.  I have no vacations planned and almost no social events on my calendar.   In the past, this circumstance would leave me feeling down, stressed, and thinking “I have nothing to look forward to.”  Today, I am feeling completely OK with this.  It feels like a blank slate and I am kind of going day to day.  I am confident that I will make the right choices when they are presented to me and that the future will unfold the way it is supposed to.  As I write these words I am verklempt thinking about how far I have come to be this new person.  I think a little Yoga, even less meditation, and a lot of therapy has gotten me here. (Unlikely the itty bits of meditation have contributed but I will keep plugging away at that.)

To reinforce this feeling (of being a new person and overall more content), I also got a couple of comments on my last post reminding me that my 2010 goals really did get me out there more and I am totally on the right track.  I leave my house to do Yoga.  For 8 years I did yoga in my living room.  Sure there are only artsy tattooed women and gay men there, but I am out!  I threw a happy hour.  Huge!  I cooked dinner for my neighbors this week.  This is an example of something I was avoiding because I was nervous and it turned out wonderfully and was kind of fun!

I am going to stop beating myself up for not going on more walking tours, not joining a running club, and not attending singles events disguised as ways to make new friends.  These are not things I want to do.  If I purchase a non fiction book on a topic and actually read it, I am interested, and I might find something in the world to do related to that topic.  If an activity has actually crossed my mind 5-10 times, I am interested (i.e. hip hop dance class and indoor rock climbing, seriously.)  I am not going to let other people tell me what I should and should not do to meet men (and I assure you that everyone has an opinion on this.)

I am going to trust myself to distinguish between fear and disinterest (I might meditate on it if I am not completely sure), and will keep moving down the path I have put myself on.   If you build it, he will come.  And if he doesn’t, I have my TiVo, my Kindle, lots of wonderful friends and family members, and the greatest city in the world to keep me company (unless of course I move to Cambridge where I hear there are lots of fabulous bald men wandering around.)  Bring it on.

The Last Duck

I have been pondering my 2011 Goal Setting exercise and here is the deal.  In 2010, I got a lot of ducks in a row.   Health is good.  Finances are in order.   Job situation looks good (although that could change lets assume that duck is aligned at the moment.)  Started lots of good stuff in 2010: more Yoga, meditation, less TV, more reading, volunteer work, non-profit connections, and some slow cooking!

There is really only one duck that need serious attention in 2011.  The dating/relationship duck.  Instead of making a list of nice-to-have goals, I am going to put all of my focus on finding a human being (specifically, a man) that I want to share my life with.  I am very grateful that all of the other ducks are accounted for at this time, which means I have no more excuses.

People say “just live your life and love will come.”  Not the way I live my life.  I am a horrible dater.  And when I say horrible, I mean I avoid it at all costs. I am just not good at putting myself out there.  Human connection can be disappointing.  (My TiVo, on the other hand, rarely lets me down.)

My conscious mind knows that human connection can also be fabulous and fun but the subconscious is much more powerful and mine is typically focused on the potential negative outcomes. As a result, when I am out and about with strangers, I send off a vibe of “don’t talk to me because I don’t feel like dealing with the fact that human connection is often disappointing” (although I would like to think it appears to the masses that I am just too cool.)

For those who don’t know me, I assure you, I am socially ept.  I have lots of friends and I am not a hermit.  I am attractive, smart, funny (and usually more modest.)  I just get in my own way when it comes to finding love.

This is the big enchilada.  The final fear that needs to be conquered (well not probably not the final fear, but it’s a big one.)  How the heck am I going to do it?

a) I have to keep making a concerted effort to get out there.  And “out there” has to be places where people that I might connect with will actually be.  I have not quite figured out where single, intelligent late 30s/early 40s men who don’t drink excessively and share my compassion for the world are hanging out, but I will keep looking.

b) When I am out there, I have to change my vibe to “I really want to meet you and I am so fabulous that you definitely want to meet me.”

c) Just the vibe probably won’t cut it.  I guess I have to take the initiative to actually speak to people.

I have been saying these things for years.  I edge myself out every once in a while and then find a million excuses to my head back in the turtle shell.  I am going to put all of my energy in to it this time and I just believe that the universe will send me something good in return.  I will do things I have done before but try to bring this new vibe in to the mix.  I will try new stuff and most importantly, try really hard not to avoid the stuff that scares the be-jesus out of me.

Hopefully, this time next year (or sooner would be nice), I will be talking about how I conquered this last duck.  And you will probably get updates along the way.