The Nature of Busy

The nature of busy is activity, output, foraging, hunting, tasking. Busy is not a problem in and of itself…it’s only a symptom.  If we’re constantly driving ourselves to participate, and there’s no time for self reflection or to check in with the big boss, then it’s something else entirely.  This is called auto-pilot or avoidance.
 
The nature of busy is highly regarded in this country and the message is  “the harder you work, the more you get.”  Working harder is supposed to (somehow) bring us more of what we want.  That’s where the little lie gets told because putting out effort is only part of the equation.

There are businesses out there that would have their employees chained to their desks for 12 hours a day because they believe in that myth.  Why?  “That’s how it’s done here.” “It’s all in the name of progress.” “The more we work, the more money we make.” These are a few of the bits of conversation that get thrown around, and the message is clear.  So when does it stop?  This isn’t just what we hear in Corporate America, it’s everywhere…we are raised on it and we become examples of it.  Count how many times you say, “I’m busy" to yourself or someone else in a day.  Try to go for one day without saying it.

If we are busy making time for nothing and no one, here, there and everywhere, who benefits? Not us. 

I don't believe in the word balance anymore. I used to say it all the time, "I've got to have more balance in my life..." Balance is a word we use to beat ourselves up. It's a state that is unattainable because balance is a moving target. 

A “sustainable middle” is more my speed. A sustainable middle allows for flow, self-reflection, time for puttering, doing nothing, dalliance, downtime and working your ass off when necessary.

A sustainable middle meets "busy" and raises it.

A beautiful thing happens when we practice a mixture of both; when we realize that doing nothing is every bit as important as the time we spend doing everything. Living is when doing and being meet for a dance. (click to tweet)
 
So what’s possible? The real beauty lies in living for our own purpose, not someone else’s agenda. When we take the time to check in and look at the direction we are headed, we give ourselves the opportunity to decide if it feels good. When we give ourselves the luxury of time, we can change our minds, turn left instead of right, meander down a new path. This new path might lead you to another answer or, better yet, the juicy passion of yours that lies just below that layer of veneer called “busy.”
 
You’ve heard the phrase, “Stop. Look. Listen.” Your life might be asking you to do the same.

Overwhelm is a Choice

So, I’ve been in overwhelm these past few days and when I sat down to write about it, I heard Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics to Feelin’ Groovy (yes, in my head).  “Slow down, you move too fast…”  When I’m in this mode, everywhere I turn, there is more to do. It’s all I see and it is like the walls are closing in around me.

I’m no stranger to the “Overwhelm Train,” the only difference is that now I recognize it when it’s coming. Many years ago, this was not the case…I’d take a seat on the train and get comfy for months at a time.  These days, I realize when I’m on it and I choose to get off, quickly.

There’s a school of thought out there that says that overwhelm is a choice and I agree, except for one thing. When I’m in overwhelm, it doesn’t feel like a choice. 

So here are a few of the signs (they look an awful lot like PMS, so don’t be confused):
• Anger
• Frustration
• Resentment
• Feeling like you’re a victim to your life
• Feeling like you are carrying the world on your shoulders

When it gets really bad:
• Someone makes a request of you and you start to grow green fur and monster-like fangs
• You throw out one-word responses to questions, while talking through gritted teeth

I’ll list some of the steps I’ve used to get out of overwhelm before someone I love gets harmed. I’m being a tad bit over-the-top here, but you get the picture. We can do damage when we’re in this place and the person we do the most damage to is ourselves.

1) Stop!
Stop everything you’re doing that is non-essential – meaning, slow your roll waaaaay down. When I slow down, I get perspective.  When I’m moving at the speed of light, I have very little perspective.

2) Do the Brain Dump.  
Throw all of your To Do’s on one big, fat piece of paper or white space…keep writing until it’s all out…every last item. Come back to this list when you’ve let some of the air out of your tires (when you’re less frustrated), and decide on the priorities. Translation: what really has to get done now and what can be saved for a later date. Another helpful tip? Give any To Do’s that aren’t yours back to the person they belong to. 

3) Breathe.
Take (3) really deep breaths and let them out with all the sighing you can muster. I’m serious, just this exercise can work wonders when you’re running around like a nut ball. Why? Because we forget to breathe when we’re stressed.

4) Bring Joy Back.
Decide you are going to do one small thing for yourself each day for the next week that brings you joy or lights your fire.  It could be taking a walk at lunch or stepping outside to listen to the birds chirp for 10 minutes. Maybe it’s an uninterrupted cup of coffee with your favorite journal or it’s listening to some soul stirring music on your headphones. Hint: this is a great daily practice. The point here is to give to yourself because overwhelm is about giving yourself away. 

Reel it back in. Your life will thank you along with your family, your friends and your co-workers. If overwhelm was really a choice, what would your life be like without it?

Confidence is Overrated

Confidence. What a common word.  We hear it all the time. "All I need is the confidence to take that next step...if I could just find the confidence to make my dreams a reality...what plagues me is having the confidence to believe I can do what I daydream about and make money...."  I’m going to assert that confidence isn’t what is necessary and that it is highly overrated.

Let’s talk about being scared with some real life 'LIZ' examples.  Confidence wasn’t what snapped me out of 15 years of ignoring a life calling to finally create a website, start blogging and begin facilitating workshops.  What the hell? I went from being in complete and total scaredy-cat resistance-mode to 100% in action.

Confidence wasn’t what had me leave home at the age of 17 with no place to go, nor did confidence play a role in the decision to get in my car and drive to Calgary, Canada from Charleston, South Carolina by myself (just because).

It was nowhere to be found the day I forced myself out on stage in front of a crowd of 100 hairdressers at a beauty show to do a makeover on someone and then talk about it (I had never spoken in public before -I took one for the team that day).   I guarantee confidence didn’t play a part in any of these situations.

Tara Mohr, in her book “Playing Big”, says that we can’t wait for confidence to find us and that we get to learn how to walk with self doubt.  I say that she’s right on and I’ve spent most of my life proving it.

So what if, instead of reaching for something we don’t have in the moment, we access what we do have?  Desire, excitement, heart, all the good juju that comes from thinking about doing “it”…why don’t we bring those things on our Party-for-One journey?  The self-doubt will come along for the ride whether we want it in the car or not.  Self doubt sneaks in the backseat when you’re packing the trunk.  It’s ok, ask it to get comfy and then pull out your GPS and get ready to motor down the road.

1. Acknowledge Your Fear from the Start. Call it out, give it a name, dress it up, make light of it even.  Your fear has its own personality.  Acknowledging the thing you're afraid of has a way of shrinking it.  Speaking your fear out loud will dissipate the energy.  Important: do not camp out on this step.  Get in and get out.  The flip side of this brilliant exercise is mucking around in it and you don't want to do that.

2. Remember Your Why. There is a big, badass reason WHY you are stepping into this thing you want.  Find it and keep it plastered to your bathroom mirror (or any other surface that will hold a post it note).  If you forget what it is in any moment, put your hand over your heart and ask yourself why this is important to you.  You will get an answer if you are listening.

3. Take It to the Bank. Let your heart-centered answer be what drives you to take the next step.  Your own uniqueness is what is calling your name and it’s what wants to be let out into the world.  Heed your call.

4. Resistance is Part of the Process. Remember this and you’ll be golden.  When you meet resistance along the way you can acknowledge it and ask it to kindly (it's always a good practice to be nice to yourself) to step out of the way.  I deal with resistance on a daily basis, but the more action I take, the less resistance I have.  Marie Forleo says, “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”  Ooooh, that is a good one.

5. Take Baby Steps. You don’t have to eat the whole enchilada.  Break it into smaller chunks…it’s easier to swallow that way.  When you’re up to something that scares the daylights out of you, it’s better to slice it up.  Start with baby steps, and then another step, and another. A month later you have taken a whole lot of steps.  That’s how leaps are made.  Danielle La Porte’s TruthBomb deck says, “Absolutely Everything is Progress”…and it is.

6. Keep Going. Don't Stop. Keeping doing the “it”.  There is a lot of clarity that comes from doing something over and over.  It’s the whole “practice makes perfect” idea and it is part of exercising that muscle.  This is not a one time thing.  Keep doing it, get better at it, clarify, refine, expand, shine, radiate, and amaze.

I’ve decided to OUT Myself…

Its been a long time coming.  Countless years of resistance, denial, struggle and pain.  All to admit this one simple truth. I am a writer.  Im a communicator to the very depths of my soul. 

Why has this been so hard to say out loud to more than a handful of close connections?  As long as I dont admit it publicly, I dont have to do anything about it.  Thats the nature of fear.  You see, being a closet communicator has allowed me the luxury of sitting on the sidelines because I dont have to get myself out there.  I can journal from here to kingdom come, never publishing a bit of my work to the world.  I have a tremendous amount of fear around being seen or identified with my own creations.  To me, it feels like walking outside in the freezing cold with no clothes on.  Eeeek!  Scares me to death!

Sharing this secret forces me out into the open.  I know logically that there is nothing to be afraid of, but I cant shake the feeling that there is. That is why Im telling you.  Im doing exactly the opposite of what my fear would have me do.

There, it’s out.  My secret is no longer a secret.  It’s out there in the light.

Here is some more inside information about meI have written 2 books, not to completion, but close.  I have also been journaling for the past 30 years.  Often times I figure out how Im feeling when I writeI also get answers.  Answers to some really big life questions.

I have known for for most of my life that I have a lot to say, but Ive let fear stop me from saying it. How will I get my message out?  Who will read it?  Will it have any value to anyone, will I be criticized if I go public with it, or worse will it/I be rejected?  Ive answered my own questionsthe answers are YES, NO, MAYBE and ALL OF THE ABOVE and now I dont care.  

In other words, I care so much about honoring my calling that I don’t care what the outcome is.

So heres my promise to youIm going to continue to blog and Im going to continue to speak from my heart.  You are going to get honesty and transparency from me.  Im going to keep challenging my own fears and busting through my resistance because I love to be of service to others. I share what I learn. I could go on and on about the subject of fear and how to take it by the hand and learn to walk with itand maybe I will, right here on these pages.

 Im curious about what resonates with you as well.  I can write about what speaks to me all day long, but Im more interested in what speaks to you.

Drop me a line using this contact link and let me know what you want to hear more about.  I would LOVE to hear from you!  If I use your idea in one of my blog posts, you will get $100 off my next Desire Map Workshop.  Big stuff, for big hearts.

Speaking of workshops, I plan on doing many more of these this year. For those of you that are already signed up for my Desire Map Level I workshop, a Level II workshop will be available this summer.  Im also doing Desire Map Virtual Workshops, so if youre interested in these, let me know and I'll make sure you get more info.

Thank you, thank you for being part of this journey with me.  It means everything.