What to do next?

Most people alive on earth today have never been through this kind of thing before.  

To have such a world-wide, disruptive, dangerous virus among us - it's an eye-opening and uncertain time.  Some days I think though that we have always had viruses around us, this one is just more visible than the ones we have been living with for longer- pervasive in society.  

Nevertheless, here we are.

Confronted with many difficult things, but also feeling (at least for me) that the happy and joyful realities are that much sweeter and more important.  It's really about survival in a way that it hasn't been so far in my life, at least.  It's a challenge and an opportunity.  

Things are coming into focus in new ways for me now.  Things that mattered before, matter more now.  Things that were on the edges have fallen off.  Some things, places and people are dearly missed.  But this time has also become a great reminder for me.  

For the last...

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What Comes With Us

Once I acclimated to the idea that this was the new normal, it got easier.  I was able to free up more space in my thoughts for the other things I was actively working towards before this happened.  To reorient and evaluate my goals and look towards what I can do, instead of what I can't.
 
It's quiet here.  It's so quiet I can hear my knees creak when I walk down the stairs.  The water is softened, so for the first week I felt like there was always soap on my hands.  Clocks tick and chime as reminders to get on conference calls and virtual meetings.   The dog snores in front of the fireplace.  They have counter space and a normal sized refrigerator.  Birds chirp in the yard and one even built a nest.    My screen time has gone up exponentially.  I brought a few bags with me and have learned that I can live with a lot less.  I'm playing the piano again.  I made bread.  I made everything. 
 
I got to...
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Control

The pic I chose for this was a little dramatic...but not much! Sometimes when I'm feeling out of control, that reaction fits perfectly.  It's very uncomfortable and is a place and state of being that I'm working on getting more, well, comfortable with.

 

For me, sometimes an actual or perceived lack of control can illicit an outward reaction.  More often than not, though, my reaction to a lack of control comes up for me in ways that I am just linking back to, and that are less obvious.  There are behaviors I engage in that I am just now realizing are a reaction of mine to a feeling of being out of control.  Last week I had one such realization around the way I was behaving in relationship with other people.

 

There is a pattern that ends up emerging, if you are brave enough to really look at your self and your behavior.  I discovered this behavior a while ago (years) and so now, I'm pretty good at curbing it before it starts.  But, because I'm...

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Expectation

Lately I've been thinking a lot about expectation.  

I'm not thinking about it as it pertains to baking, or the weather or the stock market.  I'm thinking about it in the ways in which it impacts my life in relationship, and those I've witnessed. 

As I recall, most of the times I have been hurt or disappointed, a person or circumstance has not met with an expectation I had of it.  Sometimes this expectation was known to the person.  Many times it was not.  

I think that perhaps placing expectation is an act of attempting control.  Such a strong desire or need or want to make something happen, or to influence something, that expectations are put upon the person or circumstance.  

I wonder, if you need to rely on control, or expectation, does that mean that you don't fully trust in something?  Perhaps that something is in yourself?  Perhaps that something is the knowing that all things are conspiring in your favor, ultimately.  

...

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With gratitude

I'll be honest and just say that sometimes the choice to be hopeful is not an easy one.  

It is a daily choice - sometimes a choice made moment by moment.  

This past week was incredible for me personally, and for my family.  Ultimately, I am overflowing with gratitude and hope and joy and love as I sit and write - but I know that I can only get to this place and appreciate it because I am aware and have felt the other side.  

So therefore, I think it's important that the perspective the downside gives us be celebrated too - when we are ready to celebrate it.  

*****

I've gotten to a place where I can quickly recognize that I'm in a difficult funk.  It usually comes about when I have forgotten how to listen to myself and get caught into listening to others.  It's a tough place to be in though, especially because I'm always outnumbered :)

I have found it crucial, then, to cultivate a strong relationship with myself - one that I can recognize and...

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The importance of taking time

I looked up and it was mid-December.  How?!

Well of course I know how.

Each month I thought that I would take the time to write my thoughts down, post on social, etc.  

Didn't happen.  

Instead, each day of each week I had something else take that time, and I realized quickly how easy it really is to lose track and not live your life in the mindful ways we all want to.  I, too, fell into a place where I was getting down on myself for not prioritizing as I knew I wanted to.  

Soon, though, as I looked December head-on, I was reminded of my end of year evaluation process and in that remembering, I snapped back into a place where I had the motivation to set aside this time.  This was a trigger that worked for me, and the result is that I have dedicated time in a few weeks to do this review, and I also protected the time in my calendar enough to just write this very post.  I had something else entirely planned, but knew that this was too important and...

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Is it really helpful?

For a few months now I've been taking the time to really learn about some of my habits, where they stem from and how I can be more aware of them in order to shift them, where needed. 

Each of us have habits in our lives, whether we are actively aware of them or not.  And having them isn't necessarily a negative thing - something I've had to remind myself of a lot lately.

As I took the time to figure things out, one of the most important things I learned about myself is that I can be helpful...to a fault.  That may not seem like something to work on, but trust me, it is.

Raise your hand if you've ever committed to more than you could handle, engaged with someone you knew you didn't need to, or inserted yourself and your skills in a time when maybe they weren't explicitly needed?  All hands raised, I'd imagine.

Because so many of us do this, I wanted to make it the focus of thought here, bring some additional awareness to it, and share some of the steps I'm...

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So Far

It's been one week and I am finally finding a truly quiet 30 minutes or so to ask myself how I'm feeling and waiting a beat for the answer.  This is something, by the way, that I am working on doing more and more of in my life, but that's a topic for another post.  (ps: it's hard) 

Last week I produced and sang in a benefit concert here in NYC.  It was titled "So Far" and was a collection of songs that have gotten me through the last few years, and included a collection of people who have done the same thing.  It's always a TON of work to get something this complex together and keep it moving forward over almost a year of time.  Not to mention that I was going to be singing on most of the pieces...there were a few moments where I wondered if I had undertaken more than I could deliver.  But I love music and I knew that I had the idea for a reason - so onward.

The night arrived and I asked everyone for 10 quiet minutes in my dressing room with...

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But what do you really want?

We are so surrounded by noise.  So much presumption.  So much expectation.  Both that is put upon us, but more, what we put on ourselves.  

 

Lately, in my practice of slowing down and taking a beat before moving along, I've been discovering that many of the choices I made, I made without thinking.  I did the thing I should do.  I did the thing that was expected of me.  And many times those things were also what I wanted to be doing in that moment.  But sometimes, they weren't.  

 

There was always a moment (blink and you might miss it) where I would have a gut reaction and either listen to it, or not.  This month, I decided to listen.  Oooooo was that hard! 

 

My default was to go right back to compromising; doing what I knew (or thought I knew) would be best for the other person or the situation.  It took a little practice to stop and think, and then FEEL what I actually wanted to do in any situation....

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Life lessons learned on a bike

I remember sunny days and wide open spaces, cycling with my Mom in Pennsylvania when I was younger.  The sun, the breeze, the movement, were all feelings I'll never forget.  For the last five years or so I've really gotten into cycling as part of my weekly workout routine.  It's a fantastic workout (if you dial in) but also is a time that I can clear my mind, listening to the music and instructor and just be in the flow. 

There are two classes in particular each week that I just will not miss.  One of them is my Monday night class, which always leaves me feeling better than when I came in.  Last week, the instructor was taking us through a hard ride and cautioned us not to think of the "recovery" time as a time to tune out and back off, but rather as a crucial time of activity that allows you to move into the work to come.  I nearly fell off the bike.

 

You see, the last month or so I've been deliberately spending time working on myself in...

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