I love singers and songwriters because their lyrics drift through my life on a daily basis. Music has a profound impact on our brain. It’s Prom, graduation AND birthday season in my house. My youngest will be 12 in less than two weeks and my oldest graduates from high school in less than a month. There has been one Prom and about to be another as my high schoolers go to different schools. I’m headed for a weekend at Stagecoach with one of my oldest and dearest friends and three 18 year olds, so I’m bouncing back and forth between Fast by Luke Bryan and Keep Yourself Alive by Queen.
There is a scene in my head that I flash back to frequently these days, the sky was on fire with one of those almost summer sunsets and I was riding around in the back of a truck around Woodward Park probably 10 days before I graduated from high school with a bunch of friends. It was as if God told me to time stamp this memory for later, a simple moment I would want to come back to, my old soul knowing for some reason that life wouldn’t be this easy again.
I was a late bloomer. I didn’t drink or smoke in high school, didn’t have sex, didn’t sneak out, or try to do any things that are so normal for the teenage brain to flirt with on a daily basis. It’s a time of exploration, of feeling grown up, but I wasn’t a risk taker, I was a pleaser and the idea of getting in trouble scared me to death. All of our brains are wired so differently, I don’t judge a single kid (or try really hard for not anyone), as humans we all have impulsive moments and are capable of the greatest triumphs and the worst choices. And then there’s the stuff that is just outside of our control...which is a lot.
Now I’m raising teenagers of my own and there is so much compassion in my heart for what goes on in their days and the choices they are faced with at every turn. I’m trying hard to be faithful, graceful, and not let it be such a scary place, knowing that this is their time to figure out so much about the freedoms that they feel, but wanting to hold tight to the boundaries that I have always put up for them as I still try to communicate those messages on a daily basis when they fly past me. I can see the time on the horizon where we will be friends, because they are capable of such amazing conversation, and I can remember being their age and feeling so grown up, but we aren’t there yet and my job isn’t done. I’ve got more than a few thoughts as I watch my kids take in these rites of passage that are still so fresh in my own mind that I can see my own graduation cap flying up into the air.
Like yourself, lead yourself.
Sometimes it’s a tall order at this age, especially today in the land of 24/7 likes, knowing what everyone else is doing (or at least thinking you do) and a lack of time to be by yourself unless you exert the extreme discipline it takes to make that a reality. It’s tough to know yourself, which is a must for liking yourself, and to start to get your feet set on your own path.
Know that you are enough, just as you are today, without trying to conform or impress.
Pushing limits is a hallmark of the teenage mind and heart. Even today, I’m a bit envious of that sense of freedom, unattached to our own numbered days...that feeling that life will go on forever that comes with being a teenager. Remembering that feeling makes it scary as hell on the parenting side. But it’s also a tough age to feel comfortable in your own skin, to be who you want to be for yourself, not to impress anyone on either end of your world, be it friends or parents…fitting in on one end, expectation on the other. It’s not about either, being true to yourself, is the key.
Don’t let the story you put out there separate too much from the from story behind the scenes. It’s a raged and exhausting race you don’t want to keep up with.
You can never go back and life gets complicated fast. Things like addiction, the dangers that lurk in this world, especially when your consciousness is altered, are a parent’s worst nightmare. Let sleeping dogs lie for as long as you can. Yes, experimentation is normal, but you will either find out that altered states get old pretty fast, or end up having to reverse course down a road you really never intended to go down. Scary things that can’t be taken back happen fast to the best of us...and yet teenage brains aren’t developed to feel these feels yet. It’s why we as parents sound like broken records. It’s never about judging “good kids” and “bad kids”, because we have the years to know that we are all one decision away from our next greatest or worst moment.
Trust that there is no judgment, the greatest thing about being a parent is knowing that you couldn’t love a being any more, no action required. There is no expectation of greatness, my most sincere wish is just to keep you breathing and safe and watch you take it from there. With all the love in my heart, finish this season strong, there is so much good ahead. And Matthew...I may want to stop you at 12 for awhile.
Overwhelm: (v.) To bury or drown beneath a huge mass.
I looked up this definition because it’s a feeling I have been experiencing a lot this week and wanted to see what Webster had to say about it, and it ended up hitting pretty close to home. To drown, a sight and experience that I wish I didn’t have such an intimate and vivid picture of in my brain. Breath keeps us from drowning. I know what the absence of breath looks like, it’s very scary. I have learned on so many levels, whether it was seeing my youngest child deprived of it after pulling him out of our backyard pool almost 10 years ago, to the life I feel when I take it in on my yoga mat and know that I am not drowning under the pressures I put on myself, and simply need to slow it down and stay present. I have seen and experienced life at both it’s fullest and most fragile edges, and it has given me a perspective that benefits me every day.
Sometimes we have to walk through the worst to come to the
realization of what is great in life.
Nonetheless, overwhelm is a real feeling and one of the first signs of anxiety. When it hits you, even when we set goals with the greatest intentions, and action needs to be taken to get there (as is always the case), the feeling of where do I start or go next can be crippling. I used to mistake overwhelm for laziness because of that feeling of shutdown, but I understand now, that it’s time to break down things in small bite size pieces and attack them one at a time. I have found that multitasking is actually the killer of efficiency and quality work, and only adds to my feelings of chaos. Presence, rather than letting my mind think too far ahead, beats back the overwhelm.
The antidote for overwhelm…faith, presence and solitude.
I’m grateful that I learned from a young age that solitude was a great calmer of my spirit. I remember even when I was young, wanting to retreat to my room to be alone, not in a depressed way, but to slow things down and give me time to figure them out. I was also always the first one up at a slumber party as a kid, and had to be super quiet with slumbering roommates in college. But thankfully those situations sent me outside where it was quiet and I discovered the pink light, the peace of the morning, and the almost immediate relief of any feelings of anxiety or overwhelm. Being outside also brings my mind back to a more awefilled, child like state, which is one of the quickest ways to shake off some of the heaviness we put on our adult lives. To me, there is no better feeling than when the world is still quiet. In the morning, anything is possible.
After I had my second child 17 years ago, I would wake with a racing heart, sure something bad had happened or was about to, and found myself walking the hallways, checking on my two little ones incessantly, until that pink light would come over the horizon and the feeling would almost instantly fade away. Morning brings on a newness and a peace that is different than the fullness of the rest of the day. It’s the time to get set, breath, and focus on what lies ahead. Morning routine for me is tea or coffee, fresh air, deep breathing/meditation/prayer and exercise. Then the day goes on from there, and I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way. Maybe this is why I’m flying through this new book The 5am Club by Robin Sharma I’m halfway through after buying the book after listening to the author on this podcast, and already consider it a must read for anyone interested in personal growth and improving the world around them.
Last but not least, last because it ties it all together, faith…my other great reliever of anxiety and overwhelm. My faith gives me the knowledge that there is something greater than my own experience, that wants me to seek and be fulfilled, and yet loves me just as I am today, gives me the freedom to swing for the fence and miss, or hit a home run and know that I am enough either way. As long as my intentions are good, and the work I put in is honest and diligent, I just need to be myself and go for it with my best judgment and the rest isn’t mine to hold. The world is full of variables that I can’t control, but I don’t have to because it’s being handled by a power far greater than me.
It’s Easter weekend, and I am so grateful for this faith that has brought me through painful moments and transformed me from my most afraid to a stronger and brighter person that can bring optimism and hope on every day, not just the shiny ones. I talk often about faith being different than religion. Faith is personal, between you and a higher power, based on your exposure and upbringing. I long ago stopped trying to answer the questions of who is going where and who is right, knowing it isn’t up to me to judge. I know that the judgment and imperfections of people can get in the way of how we experience our own faith, I’ve felt it firsthand so many times and it makes me momentarily uncomfortable. But the beauty, grace, and strength that my faith has given me comes from a source so much deeper than the imperfections that come with being human. My faith is the pink light on the horizon telling me, this world may not be perfect, but it’s yours…slow down, enjoy what I have created for you and help make it better one moment at a time. No need to feel overwhelmed, I’ve got it handled. Happy Easter!
I sit here with a cat lying on my computer, which is often the case, so I have taken to writing blogs on my IPhone, both because of the cat’s affinity for the keyboard and, because I can write and collect thoughts on the go.
The deeper I sink into this writing life, and my experiences become writing material, I’m trying hard to walk the line of being present and taking it all in, and remembering the feels from brief notes so I can take them deeper when I finally arrive to a quiet creative corner. I wake up in the night, jot down an edge of consciousness thought that snuck in before I fully awoke, and fall back asleep.
Writing has helped me in so many ways. It has built my confidence, helped me sort through deep feelings and, in short, given me deep gratitude for my life. Journals are my favorite way to go back and see how far I’ve come with my mindset and abilities, which keeps me striving forward when my energy is waning. I truly believe we never “arrive” and are meant to enjoy the ride, learn from it, and keep moving ourselves forward.
As I get ready to launch a Life Design Coaching business, I have been thinking a lot about how I went from:
“Life coaching? What the heck is that?”
“Using my story to help myself and other people sounds pretty cool.”
Even when I was younger, all the way back to hating nearly every day of junior high that didn’t have a game that would get me out of class early to play, I knew how to make my days better. It was always, music, alone time, sports, one or two good friends, and my cat that would bring me back to that place where I could say,
“tomorrow is going to be better.”
So basically, nothing has changed. I’ve just learned a few more lessons along the way that have made my life a much more sustainably happy place and it’s good to take inventory on some of my favorite realizations.
I am happier today because:
I stopped trying to fit in.
In this world, it’s common for any of us to judge a book by it’s cover, even though we never really know the full story. Maybe we go as far as to read others like a picture book, but rarely like a novel, which leaves us with huge gaps in knowledge, making assumptions and affecting the way we relate to each other. That’s why I’m thankful today to not be afraid of the work that it takes to truly know myself…flaws, triggers, and all the good stuff. Everyday, I use this knowledge to drive myself forward and then, the rest of the world, and what they think, do, or say fades away. Sometimes things still hurt, but I know they can’t change who I am unless I let them, so I just keep the focus on my own improvement and let the rest fall away as best I can, knowing that no one feeling or situation lasts forever. We all have different stories and, in the end, we earn connection with being real, not changing ourselves to fit in.
I learned to trust myself.
As humans, we all make mistakes, and for a long time, I would beat myself up pretty bad over even the little ones. This habit made me feel less than, and held me back by crushing my energy before I could set and accomplish big goals. This mindset kept me treading water instead of swimming forward, even though I knew there were greater places I wanted to go. When you don’t trust yourself, the other voices are louder and make those goals and places feel so far away. They can also make you question situations that make you happy. Today, I can take one step at a time, and avoid the overwhelm that comes with the opinions of others, because of the trust I have built in myself. I have a deeper understanding of what is best for me, and there is a much smaller circle that I allow to weigh in on that.
I breathed deeper, reacted slower and accomplished more.
Basically, this is my thank God for yoga point. Deep breathes literally stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and bring a state of calm to the body. I don’t think I had ever felt the depths of that calm before I started my yoga practice. In that place, urgency and overwhelm fade away, and I can slow down and know that not everything that crosses my path should get a reaction from me. What I learned on my mat, I have taken off, and the most amazing thing about it is that in this stillness, I accomplish more. No more running around, giant to do list, feeling frantic. Just fulfillment in what is accomplished, and a calm plan of how to work through what lays before me. With this understanding, I can roll with what comes at me and build confidence as I realize that I am far stronger than I once thought. This calmness leads to productivity and cuts away the anxiety that comes with second guessing and taking in too many other opinions. We are the writers of our own stories and need to experience both the joy and the responsibility of that fact.
My entire life, I have enjoyed being coached. I’ve used the wise words of others and their drive to inspire me and teach me toughness that I didn’t think I had in me. I’ve also learned a lot spending years listening and pushing other people forward to achieve their goals when I was afraid of the spotlight. We all have things everyday that we can work on to be better and inspire ourselves and those that we love. We all have times we need to ask for help or can be the one who lends the hand to someone else. More acceptance, less judgment…something I am focusing on every day. I am energized by the thought of a world that works like this.
If we do the work, and ask for help when we need it, this journey has no limits for any of us. What would add to your happiness? What stands in the way of that? I would love to help you answer these questions and more if you are feeling stuck. With solid listening, complete trust in your abilities to handle what comes at you and no drama, I have the ability to help you see life circumstances in new ways. In the end, learning and teaching are not so far apart and together, if we use our experiences to find our truth, we make our own story great.