Friday’s Focus—Admitting

The other day, Jill, a friend of my family, had called me in tears saying that she couldn’t do it anymore. She couldn’t handle the pressures of her current work situation and didn’t know what to do about it.

She had never said anything like this to me before and though we were friendly enough with each other and spoke often about what was happening in our lives there was still always that separation between us, so I was especially caught off guard by the brutal honesty of her call. She was given a three week work assignment that exposed her to levels of business dealings and decision makings she didn’t have a lot of previous experience with. I knew that on one hand she was excited at the prospect of being trusted but on the other, nervous about how it would all work out. The time came and there were the normal blips that happened and she was handling things well enough to keep things moving. But then the call came.

It was just one of those days when nothing was going right and whatever could go wrong did. Imagine weeks of Mercury Retrograde packed into a few hours! Situations and problems just exploded exponentially. The morning of the call, there were already problems brewing on the job but then, the personality of one particular employee, who was high-maintenance and had a combative nature was the factor that tipped Jill’s balance. Jill had taken this woman under her wing because she reminded Jill of her own mom, but this woman’s constant neediness and antagonistic behavior was becoming a real issue from increased confusion of early onset Alzheimer’s. Coupled with a series of problems that had come up that Thursday morning brought the frustrations of Jill’s new responsibilities to a peak. Her initial fear of not being able to do the job seemed to come to fruition and that morning brought her to the point of the phone call to me and the tears.

In truth, it was the first time that she was left with such enormous responsibility and for such a long time, and I think it would have been a challenge to many people with her experience. Listening to her talk, I didn’t judge her for how she was feeling because when I heard her say that she couldn’t do it all and didn’t know what to do or who to talk to, I heard myself in her voice and in her words and most deeply, I heard myself in her tears. How could I possibly judge her for something I knew only too well from experience, from words and tears I’ve cried myself?

I just listened and let her talk. I assured her that she was going to be alright and that all she could do, and all anyone could expect from her, was to do the best that she could. There’s no way that she would know all the answers to the situations that cropped up—how could she since she never dealt with them in that capacity before? I told her she did the right thing by walking away from an argument that was brewing. She was afraid of what she was going to say and so walked away to sit in her office to cool down and gather her thoughts. It was then that she called me. I was really surprised that it was me she reached out to, but I’m glad she did, because I completely understood every emotion she was going through.

The conversation with Jill was a good reminder about how important it is for each one of us to feel free to admit our fears and frustrations and honestly say, “I don’t know how to do this.” or “I can’t handle this.” It’s here in that mustard-seed moment that our true power comes in.

Each one of us has our own threshold of what we can handle or think we can handle and we do so in different ways. Some people dodge responsibilities when they feel they can’t handle them, others plow through them like a bull, and then there are those, who I think are the bravest of all, are honest with themselves and admit that it’s not working.

My mother used to say, “Don’t play hero,” meaning don’t be so full of bravado to think you can handle everything yourself. The real hero, as far as I’m concerned is the person who admits that they can’t do everything themselves and that they don’t know it all. And there’s no shame in that. Even just admitting it to yourself is an act of release that opens up space and energy in yourself, creating room to allow for growth.

Admitting that something is too much for you to handle is not a sign of weakness, insecurity, or immaturity as some would have you believe. I look at it as a sign of maturity, honesty, and integrity with yourself and it’s from that place, from that deep place of surrendering and acknowledging that you don’t know, don’t have all the answers, and don’t know what to do is when we grow our strongest self.

I am lucky in that I have someone in my life I have said the very same things to about situations I found myself in and I have had my days of being alone where the only thing I felt I could do was literally throw my hands in the air and cry out to an empty room, “I can’t do this!” Each time I did this, I grew. And I know Jill will too. And you, as you’re reading this thinking about your own situation that you’re wondering how you’re going to get through.

I hope this Friday’s Focus will take you to a place in yourself where you can find solace in knowing it’s okay to admit, even to yourself—when you’ve had enough and you don’t know what to do. It’s okay to admit that we don’t have all the answers. It doesn’t matter if it comes as a shout or a whisper, you’ll find that you can do whatever it is but you will do it to the best that you can and not to the expectations others had for you or the ones you may have placed on yourself.

Go and be your own hero today!

Friday’s Focus—Follow Your Instincts

These last few days have been a series of postponements, withdrawals, and redirects for commitments I made and tentative plans penciled in, but late last week situations arose that almost immediately tested my best laid intentions. For a few days, I was flexible and rolled with the changes but there came a point I knew it wasn’t going to last and I needed to make some decisions.

I was torn between “I can do it all!” and the more real thought, “I can do it all, but either I’m going to wear myself out or the projects committed to will suffer.” I know all too well about burning the candle at both ends and burning myself out in the process and I wasn’t keen on going down that road again. Giving my word and commitment to someone and something is important to me, but the way things took a zig from its normal zag recently in a plan still known only to God and the angels, I decided to put aside my can-do zealousness and listen instead to my instincts for guidance.

I sat and thought and prayed and listened deeply to what I wanted to do and what I needed to do, and without any hesitation and the loudest cheerleader of all, my instinct gave me the answer right away. I knew what I had to do and that my decisions were fair not only to myself but to those people and projects I committed to.

Sometimes our instincts go completely against the things we want to do and yet we hush and ignore them only to have regrets later. Maybe the next time you get a gut feeling or your instinct is kicking up about something, listen and trust it.

Whether you want to believe that whisper is your guide, God, an angel, a favorite relative that passed over, or your higher Self, listening to your intuition—that voice—is a decision that will never steer you wrong and you won’t regret. I know I haven’t.

Have a good weekend!
Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way…

Rocks are Shooting Stars, Too

Last week I inquired about applying for something that meant a lot to me but I was told that I was lacking in one of the core requirements. I had other experiences that equalled the resultant knowledge and training but because I had not completed that particular requirement (a two-week calendar commitment across the country) I was told I could not be considered a candidate.

I understand about the necessity of prerequisites and not making exceptions, but the knowledge I gained and the experiences I gathered through the smaller workshops mimicked what was being taught at the larger one, yet I was informed that it wasn’t enough. Despite the duplicity of subject matter that was in the two-week from what I had already taken, I was told I needed to commit to the two-weeks away. This was not an option for me, so I couldn’t apply.

I was deeply disappointed and took a walk/run at a local park to clear my head and try to shake off my feelings of  discouragement. Halfway through my walk, I rounded a bend in the path and came upon a rocky embankment overlooking the lake. I was still feeling down so I stopped, found a place to sit on the rocks and looked out over the water. I took off my sunglasses and looked around.

The lack of prescription lenses made everything around me automatically shift into soft vision. I could clearly make out the difference between a rock and tree but it’s the details of things that get lost to me without my glasses. I closed my eyes and turned my face toward the sun as I listened to the soft lapping of the water made from the ripples of the paddles from some late Autumn kayakers. A dog barked in the distance and a child’s laugh floated up from the nearby playground.

I worked to sort out my genuine feelings from my bruised ego’s huffiness. As I opened my eyes and looked out across the lake, I smiled at the vision before me of a thousand diamonds shimmering on the water’s surface, twinkling in the sun’s reflection. I felt the bite of the rock I was sitting on after not having moved in a while and I shifted my body to nestle into a better spot.

It occurred to me then that maybe not all of us are meant to be shooting stars and that maybe some of us are meant to stay close, and be like rocks—solid and holding the space, the energy, for others around them. No less important, a little less glamorous and attention grabbing perhaps, but just as much needed as the stars.

I’m okay with holding space. The world needs both—the shine and brightness of the stars right along with the solid, foundational, anchoring, rocks. It doesn’t matter which one we are, as they both have a purpose. We may even change places at some point in our lives.

Those of us who hold the grounded space now, may one day catapult through the skies, and those that are sailing at the height of the gods now, may one day come down to rest on the banks of these shorelines and mountains and take up residence in the dust of Mother Earth as one of its children—a rock.

Who decides if we hold space above or below? Is it karma? Fate? Luck? Chance? Maybe it’s just where our energy is needed, and it’s just the way things are at least for now. I say “for now,” because nothing stays the same. Even rocks get worn down. Either way, whether you’re a rock or a shooting star—whether you hold the space here on earth, or among the chariots and other shining, shooting stars, it is a good place to be. It is an honorable place to be.

And so I came to terms with my disappointment. I don’t agree with their decision behind it, but I respect it. There’s a reason I get to be a rock a while longer and whatever it is, I’m fine with that. I’ll hold the space here for whomever needs it. Shooting stars and rocks are really parts of each other anyway.  They both contain dust, metals, and minerals among other things.

I also made peace with what happened, or rather what didn’t happen, and with my ego back in check, it became clear that there were many levels to this lesson for me. Some need to stay private within my heart, but others like this lesson about the rocks and the shooting stars are calling out to be shared.

The limbs from the trees surrounding the embankment where I sat began to shudder and sway almost as if they were applauding what I now saw clearly and the day’s crisp air found its way through the spaces in my coat telling me it was time to go. I got myself back on my feet again, put on my sunglasses, and thanked the rocks and the waters for being there, and holding me in balance. The soft vision of the diamonds now sharpened into more of a glittery waterscape but if I squinted, I saw them again.

I then took my husband’s hand as we walked down the rocks together and headed home.

As above, so below.