Created: Tuesday, 11 November 2014 17:41
I loved all the comments I received on yesterday's post. I want to mention one in particular. Carolyn wrote about how she feels free from having to take care of so many clothes.
My comment to her was:
"Carolyn, I love the reference to being free from having to take care of so many clothes. I totally get that - even though on one level it doesn't make sense in that it's not like kids who need to be fed everyday whether you engage with them or not. For me, the clothes stopped serving me and I found myself serving them. That's changing."
Somewhere in between Jeremy and his girlfriend Sara in the above cartoon is the perfect balance where clothes serve us instead of us serving them. That balance is different for each of us.
And just like everything in life, a functional closet does require care and maintenance. It becomes dysfunctional when we find ourselves serving it at the expense of balance.
Clothes are a tool. So are planning systems, appliances, food, jobs... you name it. When you stop dressing for life and start living to dress, when you stop working to live, and start living to work, when you stop eating to live and start living to eat, you've got an addiction going on.
It's possible to abstain completely from alcohol and recreational drugs. There are other forms of "substance abuse" that we need in life - in balance. That takes attentiveness.
- Does this still serve me, or am I serving it?
Can help restore balance.
It's a freeing phrase.
Created: Sunday, 09 November 2014 23:19
I took about 60 clothing items to Kristin at my local consignment store yesterday. I was stunned and pleased when she took everything I offered her. In an instant, I was much closer to my goal of having a manageable wardrobe, which is part of my Lean2Life goal of having a manageable life. It felt like an act of grace.
I got what I wanted. My closet has "Space for Grace." It flows, and it is a delight to use now. So why would I get sad?
Even when we get what we want, it's natural to grieve what we don't have anymore. I had each clothing item for a reason, and I had a relationship with each one. It's legitimate to feel some pinch at giving up anything, even if you decided it doesn't work for you anymore. Conscious grieving is not a problem.
What is a problem is when you think you shouldn't be sad, and you block your need to grieve a bit. Repressed, or unconscious emotions are the ones that get you.
I felt the grace of Kristin's taking everything, along side my healthy "Good Grief" about parting with my clothing "friends."
I got what I wanted, yet I needed to grieve a little. Grieving is also natural when we don't get what we want - even if we see the perfection of the situation through the Eyes of Grace. Say you didn't get the job you wanted (or you did get it, but it didn't pan out as you had hoped.) Or you got outbid on your dream house right before your offer was to be accepted. Most of my community members handle those disappointments well. They see life through the Eyes of Grace and embrace the opportunity for something better to show up.
But it's still okay to grieve. In fact, Good Grief can clear the way to moving on. Sometimes positive people struggle and think there is something wrong with them if they feel sad for a bit. There's not.
In related news, my shopping cart is up for renewal this week. I'm not getting the orders I used to and I decided to close my bookstore down. It's the end of an era. I'm okay with letting go of that part of my life. I'm embracing this new reality; but I still run into pockets of sadness. I see this transition through the Eyes if Grace, and that grace leaves room for some very Good Grief.
Created: Thursday, 30 October 2014 15:53
It's tricky to mix business and pleasure - but it can be done. Joe developed a friendship with his clients Carl and Deb and was delighted when they called to sing "Happy Birthday."
It did take a little away when they followed the song by asking for some free advice.
Joe felt the genuineness in the birthday greeting and didn't mind too much, but he decided to set a boundary. He's going to their home Sunday to watch football, and intends to notify them:
- If you have any clinical questions for me, please ask them now, because once the game starts, Joe the Clinician is leaving the building so Joe the Guy can enjoy the game.
Good call, don't you think?
Created: Monday, 27 October 2014 15:07
"Maybe next time I stop by, you won't be painting the deck," Donna joked.
"Don't count on it," I replied. Deck staining has been quite the drama. I might post the whole tale sometime. It had gone on so long that it seemed endless to me. That said, with cold weather coming in, I anticipated that I would only have through the weekend to call it complete, whether it actually was complete or not.
I was out of paint. I ran to the store to get some more so I could continue to work in the glorious weather. I was behind a woman who agonized over the color of her paint. Her husband teased and joked about her inability to decide. His words had some levity to them, yet to my ear, they were on the edge of belittling. He used words like "anal retentive" and "crazy." I looked for an opening to shift the dynamic, and found one.
I forget what he said that I responded to, but whatever it was, I put my hands on my hips in mock affront and said, "I resemble that remark, even though it wasn't directed at me. Be nice, will you?"
Everyone laughed, including the woman in distress. I continued.
"Every night I find myself in despair over my painting ordeal. Then I wake up the next morning ready to try again."
"So she's not the only one?" the husband asked.
I turned to the woman at the counter and said, "Alice, what do you think. Is she the only one who stresses over paint?"
"I could tell you some stories!" Alice exclaimed. The tone changed completely.
When we parted ways, I said, "I wish you luck! Wish me luck, too!" Alice and all the customers sent me off with a plethora of well-wishes.
Not that the well wishes helped. When I got home, I discovered that Alice had given me oil stain, and I'm using latex. By the time I exchanged it, the glorious sunshine would be gone and the deck would be too cold to work on.
So I made myself a cup of chicory tea and curled up with my book. I would get paint after dinner. Then, I would wake up the next morning ready to hit the deck again.
And I did. It's complete now, and it's gorgeous. Good thing - a cold front came in this morning, as predicted.
Created: Tuesday, 07 October 2014 01:44
There's a saying in the twelve steps programs: "Codependents don't have relationships, they take hostages."
When someone I care about acts like a victim or a hostage when they can simply say no to a controlling dynamic or walk out the door, it makes me a little crazy. When they talk as if they need permission to be themselves, take care of themselves and so on, I want to shake them awake into positive action. I want to scream - "It's YOUR life, not theirs!"
That's when I remember the other saying from the 12 steps program: "Codependents don't have relationships, they have caseloads." I check my rescuer impulse.
There are times to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. I do that. Then I let people use my observations as they choose. After all, when I want to scream, "It's your life, not theirs," I need to remember... It's their life, not mine.
Of course there are times to intervene, and there are times when helping isn't codependent. That said, don't let yourself be taken hostage by trying to change someone who just isn't ready to set themselves free, and find a controlling other to be a convenient excuse. Also, don't turn your friendships into caseloads. There are professionals for that.
Created: Monday, 29 September 2014 15:48
You prepare for the bad times in the good times. That means when you're making good money, you save some for when you aren't. Among a lot of other things.
In SpeakStrong terms, it means you talk about how you're going to handle land mines before you hit them. Not IF you hit land mines, but WHEN. Any relationship that is dynamic and alive will hit land mines. Will you overlook them? Will you ignore them? Will you put on a happy face? Or do you agree that at times, the best way out is through? What might that look like?
If someone refuses to have that discussion upfront, you might reconsider letting them deeply into your life. When things are smooth, it's hard to imagine they won't always be. When they aren't, it helps to know that you have agreements that you are all in - that you won't play games, retaliate, go silent, etc. and that you will... what?... you tell me.
How do YOU handle it when you hit the land mines in the relationships that matter?
Created: Friday, 26 September 2014 14:49
I recently attended a meeting where everyone was required to use pencils because someone in the group is allergic to a chemical that pens emit. That woman is able to come to these meetings because the group is sensitive to her sensitivities.
Yesterday was a different experience. At the end of my Pilates session, the instructor handed me a wipe. She explained that no one wanted to exercise in other people's germs, and she wanted me to wipe down the equipment I had used. I took the wipe reflexively, commenting that I am more concerned about chemicals than germs. The trainer laughed and told me about a student who held the wipe up with disdain, displaying her acrylic nails. The trainer wasn't having it.
We need to be sensitive to others' sensitivities. My reactions are more food-based than chemical, and I don't think the congestion I woke up with this morning was from handling Lysol. But some people suffer greatly from just a little chemical contact.
No, handling a chemical wipe doesn't send me to bed for a week, but I still don't like it. So how do I handle the trainer's policy and insensitivty with... sensitivity?
I shared the tale with Bob. He replied, "That's why I use witch hazel. Most of my clients are fine with commercial antiseptics, but for the few that aren't, the witch hazel works well."
I was delighted. I use witch hazel on my face as an astringent. I will show up to my next session with a tub of witch hazel wipes. No need to get teachy-preachy. Instead of going confrontational into the problem, I will show up with my own solution.
I will leave the tub with her for my future use, and as a gift for others who share my concerns about chemicals.
Created: Wednesday, 24 September 2014 14:29
I've had a lot of conversations in the past months with people about their tendency to dominate conversations. Most have gone well - but the latest one didn't quite work out as I had hoped.
I get frustrated when people finish my sentences for me, interrupt and/or talk over me, often assuming they know what I am trying to say. (Trying is the operative word here since they don't let me finish.) Addressing it hasn't always been easy or fun, but, to the credit of the would-be-dominators, I am now able to enjoy the company of several people instead of being frustrated in their company or distancing myself. Occasionally I hear of someone else who experiences the dynamic that I have worked through with them.
Saturday was a different story.
"Abby" was interested and excited about doing work for me. She had everything I needed - the skills, the enthusiasm, the interest. Except there was one problem. When we spoke on the phone, she interrupted me several times, took the conversation in directions and details that didn't serve the point, and basically dominated the conversation.
There was no space for grace.
There were several things I intended to say that I didn't because Abby was doing a lot more talking than listening. I considered saying something about it on the phone, but decided to wait until we met.
When I got off the phone, I told my husband, "I will not have one more tangential person in my life." If it was going to work, Abby and I needed to find a better communication balance.
I mentioned the issue to the gal who referred Abby. Yes, she noted, sometimes when Abby called she would put the phone down and do other things and Abby didn't notice. In fact, she had just done that for an hour.
That wasn't going to work for me.
So I told Abby that we needed to work that out if we were going to be able to work together. Abby launched into a long and detailed explanation of what had happened the day we spoke that made her nervous and chatty. I felt that sinking feeling I get when I sense I'm being led down a rabbit hole. I told Abby those were the kind of details that I found distracting and off point. Abby seemed to understand, and after that, she only interrupted me once. Abby left all smiles and reportedly eager to start.
Two hours later I discovered a message on my answering machine. Abby wasn't going to be able to work for me after all. She was very reluctant to speak with me when I returned her call. She said I put out "uncomfortable energy" and she needed to be herself at work.
On reflection, I can think of ways I could have said it better. That's always true.
Am I disappointed? Yes - and I'm also relieved. If someone being herself means talking and not listening, this isn't the place for her. I'm sure she has people who love her. I also know pretending to listen like the woman who referred Abby just doesn't work for me. Abby had everything I was looking for on a skill level. Just not on a communication level.
Man, that girl can talk. But I discovered she isn't willing to listen.
Created: Tuesday, 23 September 2014 16:22
Nadine is a professional in my husband's industry. She was interested in seeing what my husband does, so we invited her and her husband over for dinner. We were surprised when Nadine extended the invitation to our mutual friend Mike and his wife.
We love Mike and enjoy his wife, but having them there as a couple would change the whole intent of the evening. Mike understood that. He offered to call Nadine and tell her he had a conflict, and we would all get together for dinner at his house another day. Bob told Mike,
- No need to lie. I don't want to involve you in any duplicity.
Bob said he would call Nadine and let her know that we'd like to get together with Mike and his wife another time, and keep the focus more professional for this event.
I love it.
I said almost the exact same thing to a friend only two days before. I interviewed someone my neighbor referred to me, and the interviewee reacted to some feedback I gave her. While she left all smiles, telling me how excited she was and how eager she was to start work, she called later and left me a voice mail saying she couldn't do it after all because of other commitments. (More on that later.) I visited my friend to talk about it - and to get a hug. The interviewee texted my friend while I was there. "I'll just tell her I haven't talked to you yet," my friend told me. I replied,
- Please don't lie. I have nothing to hide here. You are free to share anything I've said.
More and more, I find that saying what I mean and meaning what I say without being mean when I say it is the best approach. I remember when I asked a woman I respect what I could say about something, because I didn't want to blow her cover. She replied,
What a great way to live. Not always easy, but great.
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