Getting Unstuck and Making A Difference
Mid-Week Workbench 10-4-17
Sense of Place:
Early morning, Wednesday, my son’s birthday. 15 years ago, at 3:18 AM, this amazing human made his entrance into this world. I am at our kitchen table, coffee in hand, waiting on the sun and my family to wake up. Morning time to myself, a sweet luxury.
The number of choices we have in life has increased exponentially, and yet there are still only 24 hours in a day, and a limited amount of energy and output that can be derived from a human on any given day. Been talking with my people about how easy it is to get confused, to second guess our decisions, to waste time in our FOMO (fear of missing out). All these choices leave many unclear on what their path should be in life, which leaves this vague, unsettled agitation.
We all struggle with the volume of things we have taken on and agreed to do. Layered over this is are all the “shoulds” we carry with us – expectations we place on ourselves, achievements we are striving for, things we want in our lives, experiences we want to have. Layered over that are the expectations that others have of us – our parents, our spouses, our colleagues, our bosses. And in the midst of all this, the voice inside is struggling to get through these nets we find ourselves enmeshed in. All of this gives rise to a sense of urgency – which impacts or bodies and nervous systems in stress, dissatisfaction, anger, and offendability (not yet a word, I know, but still a thing.)
A quote from my latest read: The Late George Apley by John P. Marquand.
“I don’t suppose I ever realized till then that Father was a frustrated man, but then I could see that he had been trying all his life to get through the meshes of a net, a net which he could never break, and in a sense it was a net of his own contriving.”
I have two significant recurring dreams: one that speaks to this feeling we have of being enmeshed in a net that we can’t quite escape, and one that speaks of freedom. They have become part of my own personal road map.
Recurring Dream #1: Phone Call
I have to call someone to tell them something important, but the phone I have is missing the cord. Once I find the cord, I try to make the call, but I keep mis-dialing, and I have to concentrate and work even harder in this dream to punch the right keys in the right sequence. Then one of the keys won’t be working. I can’t get through.
For years I’ve wondered what this significance of this is, but it is about the sense of responsibility I’ve had to and for others. This has been the net I’ve found myself tangled in, because early on I accepted and contributed to an expectation of taking care of things for others. Emotions, tasks, workloads – often done at the expense of my own well-being. Working out of this pattern has been difficult, because it requires that all expectations (mine and those of others) are recalibrated. This takes relentless and diligent attention, to not slip back into old, comfortable and often codependent habits. But there is power in awareness, in stabilizing the glimpse of what we are building (or removing) in our lives. Becoming aware can result in positive change.
Recurring Dream #2: Green River Dream
Less often, I have this beautiful dream in which, while walking in the woods, I stumble upon a beautiful, clear, green river. Cool, with sandy banks, rocks on the bottom, with a gradation of color, emerald in the deep, light green brown at the edges. There is a swift current. I step in and start swimming downstream – quickly, smoothly. My eyes are open, and I can see the fish and the rocks, the underwater grasses. I am safe, inspired, stimulated and at peace all at the same time. I know when I have this dream that I am doing the things needed to move in the right direction – in life or in my career. I pay attention.
Working On: Good Habits. I have taken to:
Walking outside at night before bed – by now we all know that nature is soothing to our bodies and minds. I can feel my overstimulated nervous system unwind with each step taken, with the scent of the night air, the wet grass, the eucalyptus.
Reducing my phone dependency. So hard. Haven’t yet mastered this, but am working on it. Only checked Facebook 10 times today. 😊 But didn’t even feel tempted to get on the internet while writing this, because to create something, we need uninterrupted time to focus, and time is already limited.
Writing/Journaling – People either love or hate this one, and I understand both emotions when it comes to writing. Reflection is difficult. Writing is slow. And what if someone reads it? You are exposed.
Treating sleep as a priority. Performance improves, anxiety diminishes, mood stabilizes, illness is less likely to take hold. Being well rested helps moderate appetite, leading to better eating. It is a non-negotiable.
How does any of this matter, and how do we make a difference?
Vegas happened two days ago, and I can’t even seem to process this latest tragedy. Numb. We as a nation are all so angry and quick to take offense. It takes nothing to flip someone off in a parking lot who probably just made a mistake. How often have you seen someone try to address an issue with someone else, only to get a quick, defensive, angry response? 0 – 60 in 4 seconds or less. I am not immune – I regularly swear at the “idiots” on the freeway. Working on it. Each action like this slips us down the anger slope a little further. Our collective stress and distraction are contributors, and we have some control over these.
Nothing seems safe to talk about, which is very scary to me – we can’t possibly get to the heart of our big problems if we can’t talk. And if we have to carry our armor into every interaction, we reduce the possibility of building trust and solutions. For our national health, we must slow down, take care of ourselves and others, and find ways to soothe our distracted, pushed, stressed systems (body, civic, employment, business…all of them) and start over somehow with each interaction. It is my intent to plant these small seeds of kindness, awareness and care that can lead to larger recalibration.
My ask: To anyone reading this, please know: there is never an obligation to my ask, because we should all feel comfortable choosing who, how, and what we want to bring into our lives. That being said, I am interested in working with others either virtually or in person (if in the So Cal region) on building things that empower and develop people and produce positive impact on our thoughts and actions.
If you have a story to share, or want to contribute a post, or have a conversation about what you are dong to effect positive change in your life in large ways or small, please email me at email@example.com. And if you liked this post, please subscribe, comment or share. Thank you!