FACTS

Dear Strong Woman,

Focus on the facts.

I had frustrating pool session this week. (Quick catch-up: I’ve been taking swimming lessons the past few weeks.  I signed up to do a triathlon with my Strong Man this September and I really don’t want to drown.  I also really want to keep dating him, which is why I’m having someone other than him teach me.)

Nothing was working.  I forgot everything I’d learned.  I was clunky in the water.  My breathing was out of wack.  I wanted to quit.  I considered cancelling my upcoming lesson due to my regress rather than progress.  The thought of actually completing the (open-water Atlantic Ocean) swim part of this race became more and more of a pipe dream in my head.

And then it hit me.

OF COURSE this swim was a shit show: I hadn’t been in the pool in five days.

I do this all the time…expect performance without putting in the practice. Last night we split a tray of Grand’s biscuits for dinner, and I still got pissed when I saw the scale moved in the opposite direction this morning.  What is that?!

I think as humans it’s natural for us to let our emotions drive the bus.  That’s why we often don’t do the work that’ll get us closer toward our goals – we don’t feel like it!  And when we don’t see any signs of progress, we let emotion make it a big friggin’ deal. 

It’s too hard.
I’ve just got a lot going on right now. 
Easy for YOU to say.
I’m just not wired that way. 
Those things don’t ever work for me. 

You don’t know me!

But if we focus only on the facts, on what IS rather than what we’re letting it all mean, it deflates that drama cloud.  We go from OH MY GOD LIFE IS SO HARD to Hmmm. How about that.

Shift the way you look at things and the things you look at change, right? Pinterest has a point, friends.

Our best decisions are often what we choose not to get involved with…like our own bullshit stories. 😉

Practice, practice, practice.

PROGRESS

Dear Strong Woman,
 
Perfectionism is blinding.
 
I have a project deadline coming up that has been my driving force this week. Something I thought would take me x hours to complete has proven to be more involved, and with a looming deadline, I gave myself permission to put the rest of my projects on hold. Despite this, the weight of the other things I know I should be doing has stayed with me, leaving me feeling all kinds of not-enough.
 
For example: I have a project around healthy weight loss, and part of my plan includes a daily 30-minute workout that leaves me a sweaty mess. For me that’s either a run or one of the at-home workouts I used to do all the time.
 
I got one and only one run in this week, and that run was the first time I’d worked out in three weeks.
 
Same goes for my book project. I’ve yet to submit a chapter that was due a week ago, and I’ve skipped my two morning writing sessions this week.
 
I was sharing all of this with my coach yesterday, hoping she’d call me out on my bullshit there’s-not-enough-time story. After all, a workout is only 30 minutes! And that chapter is so close to being done!
 
She didn’t. She didn’t give me that c’mon girl, you’ve got this pep talk I wanted. Instead, she asked me questions regarding what forward progress would look like for me this week in all areas, to which perfectionism responded: “It’d look like completing the things I said I’d complete.”
 
This revealed my blind spot. Her question to me was about progress, but all I was focused on were my end goals and the way in which I was straying from plan. Anything outside of my plan meant I wasn’t progressing, resulting in all those weighted shoulds feeling hella heavy.
 
Because I was so focused on the how, I was blind to the ways in which I was progressing on those projects. Sure, I may not have been a sweaty mess this week, but I quadrupled my step count from the week before, and my FitBit registered heart rates high enough during my walks to count them as exercise. Sure, I may not have committed to my scheduled writing sessions, but I did start every day with some journaling.
 
A win is a win, even if it’s not the win you had in mind.
 
 
The breakthrough here is similar to the one I wrote about in last week’s post, and I share that to point out that change takes time. The ways in which we’re wired comes from years and years of doing things a certain way. Undoing that isn’t the result of a flipped switch, but more so an untangling.
 
So patience, my dear. Everything in time. In the meantime, if you’re going to fret over what you haven’t done, be sure to also celebrate what you have done, okay?
 
Progress is progress.
 
Period.

RAINBOW

Dear Strong Woman,

When our plans are interrupted, His are not.

I crossed something off my bucket list in the spirit of celebration. As a reward for having the courage to walk away from my job for the last time yesterday, I created my own Meetup group and hosted my first event today! 

Six RSVP’ed to join me, but only one came. I got in my head for a minute, making a list of all the things I’d done wrong that clearly deterred the others… AS ONE DOES, RIGHT? And then I reminded myself to focus on the facts (rather than the stories I was fabricating), and to focus on the person who WAS present.  Doing so resulted in rich conversation, and perhaps the beginning of a new friendship.

I shared the experience with a friend after the event, to which he quoted Matthew 18:20. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” It reminded me that nothing happens by accident, and that, once again, there is a plan at work that I am not privy to.

Sometimes we get so locked-in to the outcome we’ve envisioned that we end up missing what’s right in front of us. Had I been unwilling to detach from my black-and-white sketch of this morning, I would have missed the rainbow sitting next to me today.

Growing only happens if you’re willing to let go of all the shoulds and focus on what is, darling. Release your grip and open your eyes to the miracles happening around you.

STAY

Dear Strong Woman,

Stay in it.

I’ve come to equate the journey through an intense season of change to a deep tissue massage. You know the experience will be worth it, but as it’s happening I sometimes find that pain almost too uncomfortable to bear.

At first it always feels good, but inevitably the masseuse finds my trouble spots and sets up camp there for a bit. Tapping, kneading, applying pressure. Working out the mess and the tension, what I refer to as “the crunchies” that have built up over time. (Funny, I call the crumble cookie layer on a Dairy Queen ice cream cake this same name.  Though I have a much different relationship with that indulgence.) I have to keep reminding myself to breathe through these moments, telling myself to hold on a little longer, that it’ll all be over soon and I’ll be happy I stayed in it.

Change is like this, too.

I’ve been interviewing recently for a new job, in particular one that would afford me the time and energy to dedicate to my growing coaching practice.  Time with loved ones is important to me, as is my own self-care, and both have been the first to go as I’ve been working a side-hustle on top of a full-time job.  (Perhaps it’s a similar story for you?)  So I made a list: my conditions of satisfaction for whatever came along next.  If what was presented didn’t align with them, then it was a pass. Period.  

And yet, with bills to pay and time ticking away, I could feel the crunchies starting to form.

I interviewed with an organization I really admire.  I feel in alignment with their business model and in good vibration with their people.  But the structure of the position they were looking to fill didn’t match my conditions.  It wasn’t immediate – as courage doesn’t always roar, my friends! – but I found to gumption to risk what was on the table for what I was committed to, for the way I want to do life.  They wanted full-time. I asked for part-time.  They wanted someone for the long haul.  I let them know my goal of running a coaching practice full time in six months.

Doing so left me feeling the same way I do after one of those massages – a little sick. My fears of being able to pay my bills and falling back into debt grew into a giant, crunchy knot in my chest. But I stayed in it, and as I heard myself stating what was necessary for me for me to remain inside the commitment I made, I found myself telling myself the same things: Hold on.  Just a little bit longer.  You’ll be happy you did.

In the end, they still offered me the job! How rewarding it was to take a stand for what I am worth,  what I am creating, and be validated! Finally.

I’m not saying it will always be like this.  In the past, asking for what I needed got me scoffed at, outcasted, and dumped.  As you make a change, this happens.  People will react in this way.  Just remember that these are not your people.  Their opinions of you have no bearing on your self worth.  Sure, they may shake their heads and wonder why, but keep going, dear.  Soon they’ll be wondering how.

The last thing I want to point out is this:  there is fear present in every choice you make. There is a fear that comes with risking what you have, and there’s also a fear of risking what could be.   You just have to decide which is the greater risk.

Just please keep in mind…

No pressure. No diamond.

CLOSED

Dear Strong Woman,

This office is CLOSED.

I’ve had to get super intentional with setting boundaries lately. I’ve been dissecting some feelings around overwhelm and realize that this stems from what I allow to happen.

So I’m taking back my power.

The old story tells me I can’t achieve my goals and also be well-rested. The old story tells me there must be sacrifice.  As someone who tends to listen for what others need so as to feel valued and important by providing it, it’s automatic that the sacrifice comes in the form of self.  So when I see a blank space on my calendar I take that to mean I’m available to assist others.  Though am I really?

Case in point: writing this post in this very moment.  This writing session was something I planned to do because I saw a blank space on my calendar.  However, this blank space is coming after just completing an intense two days of training that stretched my mind, heart, and soul. Yes, I currently have the time to write, but do I have the mental capacity to create? Am I of any service to anyone right now if I’m having trouble thinking straight?

(rhetorical)

I let go of the thing I wanted to write about for you and went back into “the vault” in search of something I created in the past that might resonate.  I did this with you in mind (oh hey, old patterns), and then found this whole bit around knowing when to log off and power down. I read it and it hit me like a love note from myself to myself.  Funny how that happens!

So this whole post is actually a reminder from a former me – with a few added words from present me – encouraging you (okay, AND me) to declare a quitting time in service of creating space for yourself.   

Regardless of what isn’t finished, and regardless of what you said would get done – IT WILL BE OKAY. So far, the world hasn’t come to an end (like I always thought it would).

Givers need to set limits, because takers rarely do, and takers do this because you’ve taught them that it’s okay!

Your time and energy are sacred, friends.  Log off. Lights out. Rest up.