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Southern Grown Creole Gratitude

jackson_statue_3_bg_20090719I recently visited New Orleans and felt compelled to share my experience there. Now before you read on I want to warn you, there are NO stories of debauchery or beads, sorry. I went to have fun, who doesn’t expect fun in NOLA, and left feeling marvelous about NOLA’s future.

My husband and I visited NOLA in 1990, pre-Katrina, and had a great time. On we were looking forward to returning to one of our favorite places. We had a little trepidation not knowing what to expect, how much had hurricane Katrina changed the city. I had been to the city for a brief visit right after Katrina for a conference and the schedule did not give us time to explore the city. So this was really the first time I was able to experience the city since our visit in 1990. Wow, has New Orleans not only survived, it is thriving.

This is truly one of the most unusual places in the United States and is the birthplace of Jazz, Cajun and Creole cuisine. The history of this city is fascinating, the food is spicy and delicious, the music is plentiful and good, and as one local put it, most of our street performers would be headline acts in other parts of the country, I couldn’t agree more. The architecture is mesmerizing, each time we walked down a different street we saw these distinct old structures with intriguing features. In many of our towns we have become numb to the structures that surround us in our cookie-cutter world, not in New Orleans, the exciting variety of food, music, and even the architecture keeps your senses heightened.

The real gift of New Orleans, however, are the people. I was deeply moved by the response of the people of NOLA during our recent visit. At least once, but generally more, each and every day while there, we were thanked by the residents for coming to the city. These messages of gratitude were not just coming from the business owners, but also; the neighbors to our B&B, the locals we shared a table with at a crowded Jazz bar, the couple at the Karaoke bar on Bourbon Street, the barista at the coffee shop, the woman greeting us at the WWII museum, almost every server at every restaurant, the list goes on and on. I was very touched by the sincere thankfulness of the people of NOLA. Many told us their friends and neighbors have jobs because more people are visiting again. Each and every time we were thanked for being here, without exception they said please come back and visit our city. I almost wanted to ask if they had all been given a training video it almost seemed rehearsed, but I knew better. They were sincere, not coached, and they were exhibiting their magnificent Cajun/Creole fun-loving hospitality.

I have been blessed to experience many wonderful cultural differences in our beautiful country. In Hawaii they talk about the Aloha spirit, and the best way I can describe it is a feeling of love and respect toward all. In the Native American culture respect and family are both very important. My word for describing New Orleans would be gratitude. And in all the places I have visited I have not experience the main theme of their culture with the dependability, consistency or regularity we experienced in NOLA. I just cannot say enough about our overwhelming feeling of being welcomed, appreciated and encouraged to come back.

What a resilient and grateful culture. It is exactly what I needed to see and experience at this point in my life. I want to practice the wonderful example the people of NOLA set for me, unabashed, honest expression of gratitude. We can choose to see all the things wrong around us and focus on that or alternatively, we can see all that is right around us and be grateful. I believe the only power we possess in this world is our choices, we can empower ourselves through our choices or we can disempower ourselves and others. New Orleans has chosen to empower themselves in a big way. Laissez les bond temps rouler aka let the good times roll.

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. – Kahlil Gibran

Pity

Poor poor pitiful me!

I recently found the Oprah channel on my Sirius radio and have been listening to reruns of her life lessons series it is really fascinating the amazing people and their stories I have heard since tuning in.  One guest really resonated with me, Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  Randy was 47 years old at the time of the original airing of the show, it just so happens I am 47 years old too.  He was talking about a tradition at Carnegie Mellon where a professor is asked to prepare a lecture guided by the question: “If it were your last chance to give a lecture to students, what would you say?”  The interesting thing is that his lecture actually was going to be his last lecture, he was dying of pancreatic cancer.  His upbeat and brutally honest approach to his impending death is absolutely inspiring. If you haven’t heard his lecture I strongly encourage you to do so, there are so many amazing things that he conveys, I could not begin to do them all justice here.   I do want to discuss one thing he said during his interview on the radio though, he said, “I don’t choose to be an object of pity.”  The absolute power of that statement practically knocked me off my feet, thankfully I had just pulled in to my parking spot so I grabbed my journal and scrambled to get those words written down quickly as if they would fade to black from my memory if I did not write them down fast enough.  Wow, I was so inspired by this brilliant man with three young children and a wife whose life was going to end shortly, he was strong, so strong in fact while I listened to him I absolutely forgot he is dying.   How powerful!  How marvelous!

One thing I found very disempowering during the last year, while all hell was breaking loose in my personal life, was pity.  I know the definition of pity is kindly sorrow for someone, however, what I am describing is that thing that people do when they feel sorry for you and convey a sense of, wow your life is really crappy I am not sure how you carry on.  When I experience someone conveying that kind of pity for me, it feels as if they are sucking all the energy from me and I find myself trying to separate from them.  Instead I want to experience people who empowered me through their love and confidence that I can and will handle my circumstances.

I feel the same discomfort when talking to people who seem to want me to believe their life is crappy or a constant struggle.  It’s almost like they are asking me to be their accomplice in some sort of unseemly undertaking.  I am not talking about feeling sad or empathy for another person, I am talking about walking a path that carries that person down further into the abyss instead of lifting them up.

I saw a very clear example of this common dance in both my family and my husband’s family.  My husband actually referred to one of his relatives by the nickname “poor little,” I was taken aback the first time he called her that, but I soon found out why.  That is how so many people in the family would refer to her, it was very interesting, they would say “did you hear what happened to poor little (insert name here)?”  Or they would just say “poor little (insert name here)…..(insert crisis here).”  It was fascinating and even now looking back, poor little always had some calamity, crisis or chaos going on in her life which played out like a modern-day tragedy.  It was always one thing after another and she was often needing to be rescued, at least according to the family.  I did not recognize it then, but now I see how this kept her down, how the expectation was that she could not help herself. She and the family were unwitting partners in her doom loop.

I used to be quite the martyr myself, I threw my own lavish pity parties all the time.  I guess what finally changed for me is understanding the power of accepting responsibility for my choices and realizing every situation I find myself in I attracted through my thoughts and choices.  I now see the power that is manifested when I take responsibility for my feelings and my actions. Where I am now and what I am doing is a direct result of my choices.  Sometimes our thoughts manifest things we may not have intended, that is why we have to be clear about our intentions and thoughts.  While listening to Oprah radio I heard Oprah talk about how she no longer prays for courage or strength because she kept finding herself in situations where she needed to be courageous or strong, when what she really wanted her true intention was peace and happiness.

Pity to me means you are not capable of dealing with your circumstances, you are weak, and so we are going to engage in a collaboration that is going to keep you anchored to this problem.  I want to empower others to rise above their circumstances, they do not define us, they are actually an illusion for the ego to focus on.

Even as I navigate some of the rougher waters in the flow of my life, I know God is in charge and I need to find my still point, so the murky waters clear and I gain clarity.  When I simply trust, and I mean trust enough to release my circumstances to God’s will, I experience far less fear and far more love.

“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams, it’s about how to lead your life, … If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.”- Randy Pausch

Taking Action

Woo hoo look at me I am skiing!!!

There is a fabulous quote by German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.”  I believe that is why so many people do not fulfill their goals. 

Recently I was talking to a friend I had not talked to in a while and mentioned I was writing a book and she commented, “wow you decide you are going to do something and you just do it.”  I felt such immense gratitude when she said that, because I have to confess this is new for me.  I started working with an ontological coach, Lynn Erlinger, and she has helped me to see possibility and then take action from there.  Our sessions are all about taking action, creating plans, achieving goals and best of all rewarding those accomplishments. 

Some people reading this will know me from my engineering world and may think this is not new for me.  It’s interesting, goals and actions related to securing my family’s well-being or “bringing home the bacon” were never the difficult actions or goals for me to take.  However, actions related to my well-being are the actions that, not only did I not take, I would not have had the courage to admit I even wanted to do those things.  I mean really, that’s pretty selfish to want to do something just for yourself.  Now I see things very differently.

Since I began working with Lynn I completed my first full marathon, started this blog, began writing a book, and improved my connection with my husband and kids.  The most important goal I have reached since working with Lynn is I now embrace Marsia, I have compassion for my quirks, I show up me, not a reflection of others, or trying to be what I think others want me to be.  It is so easy to worry about what other people will think that we lose who we are and what is important to us.  Dr. Suess best described this, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

We all create our own reality, we can blame others for causing us to feel a certain way, but in reality we chose how we feel.  There is so much power in that understanding, that we truly create our own reality.  I have learned as part of my work with Lynn which actions empower my choices and which do not and most important that sometimes life is just messy.  Through empowering myself I have in turn empowered my family and the results are amazing.  I realize by “taking care” of things for everyone I was actually taking their power away.  It’s difficult to understand how choices where you are sacrificing for others actually hurts them and you as a result, but it’s true.  When the people who love you see you living your life to the fullest you empower and inspire them to do the same and it encourages us all to use the gifts our creator has given us. 

While many aspects of my life are in alignment, there is always more work to do and more action to take.  I think the biggest difference in my state of being now is that I really do trust my journey and taking action from there is so exciting.  I have come to understand that fear will always be there but intention is the focus of my action now.  I am more excited about the possibilities of life now than I have ever been in my life. 

A great quote from Mark Twain states: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

I could not agree with Mark Twain or Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ more, throw off those bowlines, cast your doubts and fears, trust the waters, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the wind in your sails, and do it for the thrill of it.  Explore you goals, dream big and discover yourself. 

If you suffer from analysis paralysis or lack of trust and action is never taken or is particularly painful, remember what you are up to, what is your intent?  Get exhilarated about your life, about your choices.  You are given this one life to live what do you intend to do with it?  What do you need?  Do you really want indecision or distrust to keep you from living the life you deserve.  So what’s next?  Get clear on what you need and take action from there, go for it, create what you desire.  The difficult part of taking action for me was overcoming my own inertia.  My inertia was mainly fueled by fear, its ok to admit your afraid or you don’t trust.  So again I ask what’s next?  If you know what’s next go for it, if you’re still filled with anxiety, I would suggest working with an ontological coach.  I feel my purpose it to share my story and my experience so others can shine.  So take action and be the light our creator intended.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me” – Erma Bombeck

Old Tapes

I am sorry you have the wrong number.

I have learned that we develop defense mechanisms early in life as part of our survival instinct.  These defense mechanisms evolve from very early experiences it could be from a traumatic incident like abuse or a significant loss, or just repetitive well-intentioned but ill-delivered messages from important people early in our lives.  Why they exist is not quite as important as how we experience them now.

I have named my primary defense mechanisms (DMs); they are Martyr Bitch, here’s what she sounds like, “that figures yes I will just have to do it myself because no one else gives a damn, it’s always me I always have to do everything.”  My other DM is Lazy Procrastinator here’s what she sounds like, “oh my gosh I have to do that and that and that and that well its just too much I can’t handle all of that, oh look at this over here you need to pay attention to this and that other stuff can wait.”  My last DM is Chicken Shit Escape Artist, she comes out when times get tough and here’s what she sounds like, “just get the hell out of here this is a mess and it’s not your fault just cut bait and run, no need for confrontation just leave the situation while you can, it’s all too difficult to deal with.” 

Martyr Bitch comes out most often and I hear her tapes in my head often.  I have been working with an amazing ontological coach, Lynn Erlinger (http://successtrekcoaching.com), for a while, she has helped me to understand that while these DMs were very useful when I was growing up they don’t necessarily support what I am up to now.  I have a lot of compassion for these DMs they obviously supported me at one point in my life and so it is with love and compassion that I recognize these old tapes when they start playing in my head and then bless them and send them on their way.  Because they in many cases, no longer support my present life.  This was not as easy as I am making it sound here it has been a long road to DM recovery.  Last year while my dad and stepmom were dying and my aunt and uncle were having health problems it was so easy to listen the Martyr Bitch I mean really if there were ever a time I could have embraced her logic and snuggled up to martyrdom that would have been it.  Thankfully, I had done a significant amount of work with Lynn and realized that DM would not serve me now.

I was able to really be fully present to my stepmom, my dad, my brother, my uncles and my aunts and the rest of my family and friends during this very emotional and difficult time.  Because I was able to recognize the tapes when they started to play and from there remember to choose what my intent was, which was support, compassion and love.  I discovered it is difficult to be fully present and support myself and others if I am only concerned about me, how it impacts me, how it feels to me, martyr, me, martyr, me, martyr, me.  

Lazy procrastinator while it must have saved me at some point in my life from doing something rash and harmful, now if I listen to that old tape it can hinder me from doing things I really want to accomplish like running a marathon, starting a blog and writing a book.  Again it’s all about being present when those tapes start to play and I recognize oh yes there you are, it’s ok I don’t need you right now I am up to something else right now.

Chicken shit escape artist (CSEA) really did serve me well in my youth during some very tumultuous times and I am very grateful.  In fact, there are some very difficult episodes of my life that due to CSEA I have relatively few bad lingering memories.  My brother and I will talk about our childhood and he will have vivid memories of bad things that happened to me that I really only have vague memories of, I believe, thanks to CSEA.  I want to add here with all integrity and honesty, I would not change a single thing about my childhood, we had marvelous adventures, and it help mold me into the person I am today.  CSEA tapes visit me when things heat up and confrontation is eminent, or life is difficult.  So when CSEA tapes flood my thoughts I again am present enough now to recognize what is happening and choose from there. 

I will confess there are times will all my DMs I still choose to listen to those old tapes, but now I am doing it with awareness, so I am living my life conscientiously and I also ask myself “what is your intent, is this consistent with your intent?”  I see so many people struggling and I used to instantly wade in and try to “fix” things for them.  I still have the urge, but now I realize how disempowering that is both for me and for the person suffering.  If I wade in and “fix” things for them it is no different from giving a drug addict more of their drug, this is their opportunity for growth.  There are many well-intentioned people keeping their close friends and family from living their full, beautiful, engaged lives under the guise of helping them.  I know, because I did that very thing.  Now I recognize the beauty and perfection of each person owning their own experience and being the master of their own journey.  No two journey’s are created equal, your journey is your journey, embrace it, be present and empower your life and take action from there.

So what old tapes are you listening to?  May I suggest to you simply be aware, notice the tapes, remind yourself what you are up to, is that tape supporting your journey or is it creating more chaos in your life?  May I also suggest working with an ontological coach, you will focus on now, the present, how powerful is that, you can’t change the past even yesterday is gone, today is what we have, make the most of it.  Working with Lynn has changed my awareness, I can now say if you meet me on the street you will meet the authentic Marsia, the real me, not a reflection of who I think I should be or doing what I think others feel I should be doing, I am me, perfect, just as you are.  My own experience is the more comfortable I became with who I am, the more comfortable I have become with everyone else as they are.  So please come out, come out wherever you are!!!!

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship. Everyday life has become my prayer.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

Responsibility

Mom, who is responsible for this mess anyway?

Being responsible is so powerful.  So why is it so damn scary sometimes.  I have no problem taking responsibility for some things but when relationships go awry – well lets just say that little girl inside me comes out.  Hey, I didn’t do it, they did.  Uh-uh it wasn’t me, it’s their fault.  Exit stage right, save my seat on the Avoidance Express.

I am great about taking one for the team when a project goes bad, although as a manager the buck does stop with me so there are no heroics at work here.  But ask me to take one for the team in a relationship that has gone south soooorrry ain’t gonna happen.  (Ok for those folks that know me; Shane and I are still happily married, and Geri and I are still happily partnered.  This tail has nothing to do with them.  Ok for those folks that don’t know me; Geri is my business partner.  There, that should clean up any housekeeping related issues.)

So going against my typical grain, I recently took responsibility for my part in a very uncomfortable relationship.  And lets just say while I may have gone kicking and screaming to this end, hey I eventually got there.  The amazing thing is that even though I had to admit some uncomfortable truths about myself, I can’t believe how great I feel, that hair shirt I was wearing is gone, that loaded pack has been shed and I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. 

Does that mean that there has been some miraculous change no, not really.  I mean the change for me was in my perception of the situation.  Why do I go right to other people’s intent being malicious?  I am not big on the hair shirt thing so I am asking, not to flog myself, or make myself wrong, but to really understand what drives that interpretation.  What switch deep inside me gets tripped when I go down this road?

Well if you are waiting for some profound cathartic insight that I have discovered, I am going to disappoint you.  I haven’t quite figured out why I do this, but I can share that my awareness helps me recognize when I do this.  You may be asking, ok, so what the heck does that do for you.  Think of it this way, we don’t know why tornadoes strike but when we are aware that one is on the ground we can take action to try to minimize injury.  Similarly the moment I recognize or become aware that switch inside has been tripped, it’s almost like a short-circuit occurs, and the energy going to my destructive response center is cut off. 

Having awareness and being responsible still takes will power and personal integrity and in the spirit of transparency I admit I still have moments where I am aware and yet still choose to be a butt head.  Hey I am a work in progress, hmmmm just like everyone else.  So I have to develop my muscle around personal responsibility, by exercising it regularly. 

The moment I recognized the power of taking responsibility it was amazing it really woke up all my senses, it reminded me of when I step outside on a clear, cool, brisk morning and I take those first few breaths of that cold air filling my lungs and I look up at that blue sky and feel so alive and grateful.  That alive, light, refreshing feeling is the motivator that drives me to do better. 

That and a good laugh at myself keeps me moving in the right direction.  I think the best thing anyone can do for themselves is really laugh at their follies.  I think we all take ourselves too seriously which in turn drives us to take everyone else so seriously.  For heaven’s sake we are all flawed.  I am saying this as is if it an absolute truth I accept, however, my essence has to remind my ego of this everyday.  So as I traveled this recent path of recognizing my responsibility I also had a good laugh at my myself.  Not to minimize myself but to minimize my objections, that in the end really were not what was or is important.

I think all of us have at least one example of a relationship gone bad in our lives.  This creates toxic energy that is harmful to us and possibly the other person involved.  If this is bringing to mind a relationship you want to shift, I invite you to explore your responsibility in the situation.  You do not have to take any responsibility for someone else’s behavior, I am only speaking of your own.  You are only responsible for your actions.  Take ownership of your part. 

I got hung up on focusing on the other persons bad behavior, but once I took a good look at my response, I discovered I was also engaged in my own bad behavior.  I enjoyed when others would “prove” or “confirm” my judgements.  So I would engage in evidencing my justification of my disapproval or dislike.  Some people call that splitting and pairing, some call it gossiping, some call it passive aggressive, any way you look at it or describe it, I think we all can agree it’s not very empowering.

I am certainly not advocating anyone should engage in a relationship where they are being treated poorly.  Just take responsibility for your actions.  You will be amazed how you feel not only when you are with that person but about yourself as a result.  And what if the other persons behavior does not change?  That’s ok, this is your awareness, your journey not theirs.  I can promise you that at least half of the negative energy fuelling the discord will be gone, and that is better than the alternative.

Responsibility is powerful, awareness is powerful.  Remember people and events that challenge us are lessons that we are here to learn.  It is a challenge to see difficulty as a blessing or gift but they are the gifts that remain with us throughout our life.     

“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.” – Khalil Gibran.

Karmic Law

Hope This Thing Floats!

It’s interesting how something can seem so solid one minute and melt through your fingers like ice cream in July the next.  I have been grappling, with myself really, over something I felt right about.  As a matter of fact I felt so solidly right about it, I was feeling self-righteous.  And as I was swimming in my sea of self-righteousness, I was feeling really bad.  The longer this went on the heavier the burden and the more weary I felt.  And finally a good friend asked me a simple but profound question, “ok, so you feel you are right, so what is the cost of being right?”

I thought about people in our country today on either side of the political spectrum and they each think they are right.  So they espouse their rightness and are frustrated and angry that the other side does not see how right they are .  While the other side is aghast at the wrongness of their wayward opposition while basking on the glory of their rightness.  What is the cost?  The cost is: loss of dialogue,  loss of connection, loss of compassion, we no longer see ourselves as part of the same human family and sadly eventually we lose the ability to love one another.

My daughter and her friend and I went to the movie the Big Miracle this weekend, it was wonderful.  One of the best parts of the movie for me was the way the environmentalist, the oil baron, the Inupiats (Eskimos), the military officer and the Russian soldiers all put down their being right about their own agenda, and instead developed compassion and connection for each other.  They saw they were all connected.  As with all things this too was not permanent, but at that particular moment and at that particular place, some pretty divisive parties united for a common goal.  And the real secret is that they all had and understood a common intent.  Their intent was to free the whales. 

So back to my wise friend and the cost of being right.   Well as I said the solid ground I thought I was standing on turned into water and I fell in.  As I dragged my sorry butt out of the water dripping wet, and I was all wet, I saw what I was doing.  I lost my intent and after I lost my intent, I lost my way and clung to being right.  So I had to get clear about what my intent was and after I got clear about what my intent was, lead a life of compassion and joy and fulfill my purpose, the self-righteousness faded and things became very clear, the load felt lighter and I no longer felt weary. 

I am a faithful and fascinated student of my own human condition, so when I go through a cathartic episode such as this, I love to understand it.  As I was exploring this it was very interesting how I noticed that being right is so disempowering.  I felt like I was coming from a position of power but I was not, literally my physical energy was being drained, as well as my spiritual and emotional energy.  But the other observation I made regarding this experience, was that I have found myself in this same situation at two previous points in my life, that I am aware of, there are likely more.  That’s when the light bulb went off.  Oh my gosh this a karmic relationship, this is a lesson I need to learn.  

There is a philosophy or body of thought called karmic law, that I believe is so, it basically says we all have a life purpose and we are to discover that purpose and fulfill it.  And in order to discover and fulfill our purpose we progress through a series of lessons, we are free to choose to learn the lesson or not, if we choose not to, we will repeat the lesson again and again until we finally learn the lesson so we can fulfill our purpose.  These lessons are not fun, they challenge us, are difficult, painful, and uncomfortable.  So karma says we will continue to attract the same experience again and again until we learn the lesson.  So the real dilemma here is admitting to myself, YOU ATTRACTED THIS EXPERIENCE, AGAIN!  It’s like a cosmic, “I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen,” message.  So I created this, wow, what a concept, and I know it is true, I did.  My intent with my life is to ultimately become the person my higher power intends me to be and share the gifts I am intended to share and if I am going to fulfill this I need to check this lesson off my list and move onward.  So it is with immense gratitude and appreciation that I feel I can check this box.

So if you are feeling sorry for yourself because your always getting the shaft, this is a tough one but look inward, not outward for the source.  If a  particular uncomfortable experience or a particular difficult relationship seems to be a reoccuring theme in your life, try this one on, you may have attracted it to you.  Humbling huh, it sure was for me.  I love this quote by Wayne Dyer – “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”  Powerful stuff.  Live, love, breathe.

The Pause

Over the last year I have done a lot of soul-searching, self discovery, accepting of those aspects of myself I was not very fond of, basically peeling  back the layers.  Like an onion some layers fell off easy, others I had to pry off while tears were streaming down my cheeks.  All this work and learning how “to be”  along this journey really comes down one very important practice, pausing.  That’s right hitting the pause button.  When you hit the pause button several things happen and more importantly many things don’t happen.  What does happen, you stay present, what doesn’t happen, you don’t say or do something that is not in alignment with your intention.  I am so amazed at how quickly a well-intentioned encounter goes awry if I don’t hit pause.  I leave feeling like, what the heck just happened?  I am amazed at how well things go when I do hit pause.

You all know what I am talking about, let’s talk about the time you went to talk to someone about something you thought was no big deal.  You start the conversation and all of a sudden things get tense, maybe even confrontational.  Rather than pausing and considering what is happening we react in a similar fashion.  – Well screw you I came over to tell you we got some ice cream how the hell did I know you were lactose intolerant.  No we didn’t get any sherbet.  You know what I will make sure I never invite you to any parties we are having, you jerk. – Now let’s go through the same scenario and pause.  Hmmm I told this guy we were having ice cream and he is really getting worked up, I feel my face getting flush and my heart is racing, isn’t that interesting.  – You know I feel my face getting flush and my heart is racing because I am sensing this is an upsetting subject for you, listen my intention was to make sure you felt welcome to our celebration.  Will the testy lactose intolerant dude defuse?  Maybe, maybe not, the point is your fuse wasn’t lit.  We can’t control how others “are being” along their journey, we can only chose for ourselves. 

The pause is so powerful, many great philosophers and teachers think that when we meditate or pray, the pause between thoughts when one thought ends and before the next thought begins, is when we are closest to God.  If you think about it, it really makes sense our thoughts are tied very tightly to our ego so the pause in our thoughts is when we have a direct line to our essence, and our ego is bypassed.  When I make the choice to pause, to be mindful and become an observer of my own actions, it creates a calmness in my being.  It sounds crazy but if I find myself starting to get spun up if I take a step back and witness what is happening I can stay present and mindful.  I had a recent encounter where I wanted to get a point across and the person I was speaking to told me some negative traits about myself, it struck a nerve at first (ah hello Mr. Ego there you are) and then I paused yes they were correct I have these negative traits and I have positive traits that is what makes me whole (remember Mr. Ego we discussed this in detail a blog ago!) and that makes me like everyone else perfect.  The exercise of hitting the pause button has helped me understand that my self-worth, as with everyone else’s, is intrinsic and not determined by others. 

Hitting pause has helped me to be a better listener I find myself talking less and listening more.  If you are like me or at least like I have been in my recent past, you may feel the need to talk when you walk in the room, the silence feels awkward, notice that impulse to fill the silence, pause be present, relax and enjoy the silence and think about only breaking the silence if value is added.  It is a very powerful exercise.  If you are a shy person and would never consider breaking the silence but sit in quiet suffering hoping another will break the silence, be present relax and enjoy the silence, you may feel less inhibited to break the silence if value is added.  I love this quote by Abraham Lincoln – “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”  And what amazes me is he was such a great orator, of course as I said if you can add value then speak and if you have read the transcripts of his speeches and debates it was certainly true in his case.  Of course in my own case I have on many occasions removed all doubt.  The pause has helped me not only to avoid removing doubt but it has done more, I am, in very stressful situations, witnessing them, almost observing myself and the events.  

Life is so much more interesting when you become the observer and not the actor.  If you have ever been on a stage you know what I mean, the actors cannot see the audience, only what is happening on the stage, the audience on the other hand can observe the actors as well as the rest of the audience, they have a more complete picture of the moment.   So the next time you lose your train of thought or forget your excellent comeback, just pause, don’t judge yourself and witness your thoughts, trust me you are seeing more, experiencing more than if you did get that awesome comeback,  it’s powerful. 

Mahatma Gandhi said “In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”  Remember we are all on a quest for truth, how powerful. (pause).

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