Small Talk: It’s Bigger than you Think

Nobody ever says they like small-talk.  I sure don’t.  In fact, I avoid corporate fun/cocktail parties/team-building events and their ilk like the plague and said avoidance is accompanied by the rationale:  “There’s nothing worse than standing around making small talk.”  Stupid small-talk.  Ugh.  Hate it, not gonna do it, done and dusted.

So the other night, I walked into a kick-off meeting for a running training program and immediately was confronted with the typical small-talk accouterments in full display:  wine, soft drinks, crackers, cheese, and fresh fruit.  All accompanied by the injunction to mingle and get to know one another.  Well, damn.  I thought I’d learn about the training program, meet the coach, and be on my merry way.  Instead I looked around at all those unfamiliar faces and realized I was going to have to engage in the dreaded small-talk.  Ugh.

I knew just walking out or clamming up wasn’t a great way to start a five month training program with these folks.  Then I realized I had an opportunity to re-frame this potentially unpleasant situation by using one of E. Paul Torrance’s Creativity Skills:  “Look at it another way.” “Look at it another way” means shifting your thinking so that you can look at something (a person, a situation, whatever) from a different visual or psychological perspective or mindset.  What might be all the ways I could look at small- talk differently?  Could I look at it as something not inane, but as an opportunity to learn something useful or even meaningful from others?

Despite not feeling it (and also not 100% sure this would work), I introduced myself to the coach, took a deep breath, and started small-talking, but thinking about making this small-talk something useful and meaningful.  Only a few awkward sentences in, as I struggled not to talk about the weather and instead to talk about the reason we were all there – running, we discovered we’re both fans of relatively unknown new kind of running shoe (On Shoes, they ROCK) and I shared with him how awesome their trail-running model is.  He shared some super helpful information including some great ideas on how to stay hydrated as I increased my running distance.  I walked away feeling successful that my small-talk job had not only yielded utility and meaning, but that I’d completed it and could now make my escape.  As I made my way to the door, though, a woman smiled and said “Hi, I’m Lee.”   As with my coach conversation, we talked about running — clearly something important to both of us since we’d made a significant commitment.  It turns out we share the same challenges in attempting to train for long distance running on our own and also share similar performance fears around not being fast enough or good enough to be in an actual group running program.  [Side note:While I know it’s highly unlikely I’m the only one to ever have those fears, the reality is that sharing those fears out loud with someone else and then being able to laugh about it made me feel so much better.] Now when I’m running and I start to feel that inferior performance vibe creeping in, as I often do, I can reflect back on that conversation and know that others are probably feeling the same way. And whether Lee is ahead of me or behind me, I know that at least one other person feels that way regardless of where she is in the pack.  Nice.  Another useful and meaningful connection that started with small talk.

My urge to escape diminished, I engaged in several more small-talk conversations.  When I finally left, I realized small-talk isn’t small at all, it’s merely the opening gambit toward something bigger — toward making meaningful connections.  I mean, when you think about, how else do you make new connections/friends/relationships?  Small-talk is the way to go because when you think about it, what other alternatives do you have?  Full-on interrogation?  Awkward!  Deep, philosophical debate?  Unlikely.  Or just flat-out ignoring people?   No connection happening, no how.  By looking at small-talk as an opportunity instead of just a boring task to be gotten through, I didn’t default to the typical small-talk about the weather.  I made an effort to NOT talk small, but to talk about something meaningful to me.

One shift in perception changed a dreaded chore into an opportunity.  Creativity is some powerful juju, my friends.  How might you look at something in another way today?

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Walking into a Connection with Creativity

It’s a reality that for me regular exercise is crucial to clearing the mental cobwebs, calling a halt to ruminative thoughts, and giving me an overall uplift in mood.  It also burns calories and means I don’t have to spend money buying bigger pants, but that’s a whole other post.  In fact, exercise (whether it’s running or just getting my @ss up and moving) has been a key factor in helping me re-connect to creativity.  A lot of research has been conducted to determine whether there is a connection between exercise and creativity, but there’s not necessarily a very clear-cut or definitive answer as to whether and how exercise impacts creativity.  Part of the reason for that is just down to how research is conducted and all the variables that go into that process.  Things like:

  • What type of exercise are the participants doing?   Vigorous?  Easy?  Something that requires skill?  Or something anyone can do?
  • Who are the participants and what are they like?  Are they all the same age, same physical fitness level?  What are their backgrounds?  Are they made up of different ages, different fitness levels or are they all somewhat similar?
  • How are they measuring creativity?  Are they only measuring divergent thinking?  Are they only looking at convergent thinking?  Or are both types of thinking being measured?  And what instruments or methods are they using to assess?

There are many more variables that could be considered for each study and while this level of detail is important for research, it makes it hard for those of us who like to see things in black and white (i.e., me) to get a definitive answer.  Imagine a multitude of studies, each one looking at perhaps different aspects of creativity and perhaps assessing how different types of exercise might impact it.  The possibilities and permutations are endless, so it’s not surprising there isn’t a one size fits all every time answer.  I wish I could be happy with that, but since I know it works for me I’m always hoping for some incontrovertible proof, dammit.

So, even though I wasn’t looking for it, I found a pretty dang compelling study, conducted by Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz of Stanford University, that offers something more definitive.  As studies go, this one was very straightforward and focused on comparing divergent/convergent thinking performance between participants who were seated and those who were walking (with a few other variations thrown in and described further on).  The researchers used tests that are used frequently in this type of research; the Guilford Alternative Uses Test (GAU) and the Compound Remote-Association test (CRA).  GAU is considered a test of divergent thinking where participants are required to come up with as many alternate uses for an object as possible, while the CRA is considered a test of convergent thinking requiring participants to identify the common word associated with three seemingly disparate words.

A number of different experiments were conducted using different combinations/types of walking and sitting:

  • Sitters vs walkers
  • Sitting, then walking vs Sitting
  • Walking, then sitting vs Sitting
  • Walking outside
  • Walking inside on a treadmill

And spoiler alert, but hey I can’t NOT tell you how it all came out:  Oppezzo and Schwartz found that walking increases creativity, specifically divergent thinking (coming up with numerous new and novel ideas).  Even better, these benefits hold true regardless of whether you’re walking outside on a glorious sun-filled day or just walking on your treadmill in the basement.  And if you’re sitting around binge-watching your latest fave and then go walkabout or vice versa, it still works.  That’s really good news for those of us who spend the majority of our work week inside and often at a desk.  Now we know we have an easy option to jump start our creative juices by getting up and taking a walk around the building.

Next time you’re running low on ideas or seeking a creative jump start, remember this:  You don’t have to run a marathon, you don’t have to reach a state of utter exhaustion, in fact you don’t have to do anything special at all … you just have to get up and take a walk.

Channeling Judy

I was 53 and sitting under a heat lamp with a head full of foils when I discovered my role model.  And it turns out my role model isn’t someone famous or someone in my family.  My role model is Judy — whose last name I can’t even remember — a woman who regularly attended my aerobics classes in the early 80s.  [Side note:  Yep, I taught aerobics for a living back in the day while wearing the requisite white Reeboks, super shiny tights, leg warmers, and neon leotards.]

Why I figured this out while getting my hair done is because I’d been trying to convince my stylist that frosted hair could make a comeback.  I’ve always liked frosted hair, vintage style like women had in the 1970s and 1980s.   During the conversation I realized I liked frosted hair so much because Judy had had frosted hair.  And when I was 19 I really wanted to be like Judy when I grew up.

I don’t think I ever considered what her age was back then, but I’d guess she was in her early 40s.  Judy came to my classes wearing mascara and bright lipstick with her short frosted hair wildly unstyled — which in itself was kind of edgy in the early 80s.  And her personality was just as bold and engaging and engaging as her style. In my eyes, she was confident, kind, friendly, sophisticated, smart, fun, and gorgeous.  Even though I had no idea what she did for a living or what her education level was or how much money she had (I can’t even remember her last name) I knew I wanted to be like her.  She never wimped out in class, she was hilarious, gregarious, and brought joy everywhere she went.  I wanted to show up every day as she did; boldly, confidently, and joyfully herself.

It might have taken me 40+ years worth to remember that inspiration, but I’m using it now and making up for lost time!

 

 

At the beginning of the year I did something completely out of character.  Basically, I up and quit my job.  Without another one waiting in the wings.  And I felt really good about closing the door on a situation that just wasn’t working … until 2 a.m. … when I woke up and freaked out.  I had just jumped off a cliff into a vast and really scary unknown.  To say it was a rough night is an understatement.  Exhausted the next morning, I had an epiphany while brushing my teeth:  What if I wasn’t falling into a big, black hole of nothingness; what if I’d jumped off that cliff and I was FLYING?!  Wow.  Mind. Blown.  I carried that question around with me for days, then weeks and it was a little bit magical in that it seemed to keep the second-guessing and “sky is falling” feelings at bay.

Since then, life has moved on; I have a great new gig and I kind of lost sight of my whole “falling or flying” concept.  That is until I found myself in a full-blown existential funk — I’m stopping short of crisis.  I’m back to waking up in the middle of the night and getting wrapped around the axle about whether I’m doing what I should really be doing with my life, is it enough, what’s going to happen when I get old … that never ending spiral of fear and negativity that jolts many of us into wakefulness at the most inconvenient hours. I haven’t been a whole lot of fun for myself or anyone else.

Then, when I entered into a writing accountability partnership with a friend and was casting about to come up with what the actual eff I would even write about, I remembered my epiphany and thought about how it might apply to my current situation.  Is it perhaps that that I’m not actually in an existential funk, but really that I’m perceiving things in a way that make me feel I am?  I mean, it’s said that perception is reality.  Is it possible that by changing my perception I can change my reality from an existential funk to a big, sparkly life?  I don’t know, but 1) I got a blog post out of the idea, and 2) it’s for damn sure worth a try.

So … I’m going to start with the model I developed in graduate school, using practices of mindfulness, motion, and curiosity to serve as my foundation.  Practices, I should admit, I’ve let lapse somewhat of late … perhaps I’ve identified a contributory cause to these doldrums?  I’m also going to re-visit my readings related to perception’s impact on reality and also seek some new sources.  Since finishing graduate school, I’ve spent a lot of time catching up on my murder mystery reading and much less time focused on the reading that intrigued me so much that I actually finished my degree.  I’ll not only read, but I’ll share what I’ve read, I’ll share what I’ve done, and I’ll share whether/how it’s impacted the funk.  If nothing else, I’ll be writing AND finding ways to get my emotions back on track.  Nice.

I am curious about … spiralizing

I know, I’m late to the whole spiralizing movement.  It was only a month ago that I had a my first plate of zoodles (pre-spiralized courtesy of Whole Foods).  Fortunately, sometimes I’m a quick study and it only took that first plate to convince me that spiralizing needs to be part of my culinary repertoire.  And — who knew? — there’s a whole spiralizing (and peeling, coring) attachment for Kitchen Aid mixers!  Placed an order immediately and as soon as it arrived my husband and I started experimenting with what we could spiralize: apples, cucumbers, squash — the usual suspects.  And then I found it.  A recipe for baked curly (aka spiralized) chili cheese fries.  Seriously.  Even better:  the chili is vegetarian so between the baked curly fries and veggie chili I could seriously up the cheese factor with way less calorie guilt.  I  love finding non-meat/veggie heavy options for meals and this choice gave me a way to add in my new spiralizing adventure — sweet!

After searching the web for a variety of recipes, I mixed a couple together to come up with something I thought would be healthy and killer good.  Since we think chili tastes better if it has a chance to hang out for a while before you eat it, I made the chili first. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • chopped garlic (i just squeezed in a bunch)
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can of beans in chili sauce
  • 1/2 package of Beyond Meat feisty crumbles
  • 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes with peppers (we like spice, but you could use just plain chopped tomatoes for a milder flavor)
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • corn starch mixed with water for thickening

Start by sauteeing the chopped onions in oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, then add the garlic when onions are translucent.  When you can smell the garlic, add in the spices and just let them toast a bit in the oil.  Then add in the Beyond Meat feisty crumbles.  I add them in frozen, but just be careful that they don’t splatter!  Next, add in your beans, chopped tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down, put a lid on it, and let it all simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Give it all a stir when you lift the lid up. If you like your chili thick, like we do, mix about a tablespoon of cornstarch with warm water until it forms a paste.  Then, spoon this paste into the chili and bring it back up to a boil to thicken.  Taste for seasoning; we like to use cayenne pepper (again, more spicy is more better in my house), but you can use black pepper or no pepper — whatever works.

I put the chili in the fridge and then about an hour before dinner I heat it up and start on the curly fries

For the curly fries:

  • 2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, skin on
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • shredded cheese of your choice
  • salt
  • pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wash the potatoes and spiralize them.  I use a thicker spiralizer blade, but if super skinny curly fries are your thing — go for it!  Cut the spirals into manageable sizes.  Toss the spiralized potatoes in a big bowl with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  I just eyeball the amounts, you don’t want them drowning in oil — just coated.  Same thing with seasoning.  Then arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper separating them as much as possible.  Bake them for 25-45 minutes; checking them every 15 minutes or so. While the fries are cooking, pull that chili out of the fridge and heat it up. The fries won’t get super crunchy, but you want them brown and, honestly, if I’m not sure how done they are I just pull one off the sheet and try it!  Once I think they’re done, I sprinkle some shredded cheese on top (we use a mixture of regular cheddar and cheddar with jalapenos) and then pop them back in until the cheese melts.

To serve, just heap up a pile of cheesy curly fries and top them off with a scoop or two of chili.  Utterly delicious and reasonably healthy.  Could a girl ask for more than that??

 

Making Practice a Habit

Why is it when I most desperately need to make my practices a priority (for my sanity if for no other reason), that’s when they almost always fall off the list and I backslide into old habits?  So, I took a new job; still with the same company, but I’m now working on a project with a WAY different pace and tasks than what I’ve been accustomed to over the last 2+ years.  I walked in with my eyes wide open and I was (and still am) super excited about the possibilities and the urgency.  But holy crap have I got some work ahead of me to build up my stamina for working a gazillion things at high speed.  You know what would be really helpful?  Those practices, you know the whole “mindfulness, motion, curiosity” thing.  Even though seeking fulfillment is low on the to-do list at the moment, those practices also ensure I have balance and can function without getting into a stressed-out tizzy.

In addition to all of the above, I will be starting my last graduate course this fall.  I think it’s kind of fitting to start this new professional chapter and end my graduate studies studies with a re-dedication to “live big and sparkle,” and to make it happen by consciously and HABITUALLY engaging with the practices I’ve learned over the last two years of this journey.  I’ve done the busy/busy/stress/stress thing the hard way before, but I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and experience since then.

Here’s the not gonna do it list:  I’m not going to mindlessly stress snack on chips, or cookies, or Pop Tarts (okay, I did kinda do that last week, but only because my husband brought home the brand spanking new Orange Crush and A&W Root Beer flavors for me — damn him!).  I’m not going to come home every night to rush upstairs for my sweats and flop onto the couch.  My running shoes will not sit unused in my closet every night while I shuffle around in my sparkly skull Uggs slippers. I’m not going to be too tired to be mindful.  I’m not going to be too tired to explore and try new things.

Instead, I AM going to take the time for walks, for running, for keeping things organized at home, for working on my blog and my book.  I AM going to take the time to be mindful, to meditate (whether it’s for a few minutes or an hour), to be aware of others and the world around me.  I AM going to take the time to explore vegetarian and vegan cooking, to learn some new arts and crafts skills (many will involved ModPodge!), to check out new activities and new places.  Because regardless of how much is on my to-do list, the reality is my time is precious and I deserve to be top priority on that to-do list.

Tonight’s a great test of my resolve and re-dedication.  My day at work completely blew up.  Everything I thought I was going to do, I didn’t do.  I was running all over the place and when I wasn’t running I was trying to figure out how to tackle a task that felt like one of those crappy, impossible word problems from high school algebra (uuuugggghhhhh!!!).  Today was … challenging.  To top it all off, I didn’t get lunch (a Clif bar had to suffice), I got home late, husband is getting home late, and the dogs are being way needy (rightly so, but still … ).  I have every reason in the world to kick it in, put on my PJs, and vedge out on the couch tonight.  Did I mention I’ve been wearing Spanx for 10+ hours????  Love ’em, but puh-leeze!

I put together a reasonably healthy dinner that’s cooking as I type.  I had a healthy snack.  After dinner, I’m putting on my running shoes and hitting the pavement. Stretches and arms when I get back.   I’ve got my deep sleep meditation queued up so I get some good zzzz’s in tonight.  And I’m making time, while I wait for those tostadas to bake off, to write this blog entry.

I got this (probably).

 

Love Bubble. Yep.

Last Wednesday I got on a plane for Boise, ID for the first Brave Girl Symposium.  Last Friday, I got on a plane to journey home, but this time was traveling with a new mindset, a vastly more open heart, filled with love, and filled with inspiration to DO.

Being new to the Brave Girls Club concept, before I left I wasn’t sure what to expect from this experience; but I felt so strongly drawn to their mission:  Life Changing Fun for Women.  I knew this was going to be important.  From their website:

Brave Girls Club is a worldwide community of women (of every age!) who want to live the best, happiest, most productive and fabulously brave life they can possibly live…and that means something different to every single one of us.

I was blown away from the moment I arrived at the airport in Boise — my first sight coming out of baggage claim was a gigantic, turquoise bus decorated with painted flowers and Brave Girl messages. Other Brave Girls were also arriving and we took turns taking pictures of each other outside and inside the bus.  It didn’t matter that we’d never met before, we already had the bond of wanting to be Brave Girls!  And this experience was a far cry from a traditional hotel shuttle transport, once we were underway it was more like a party vibe with friends chatting and identifying commonalities (or as we learned that evening, we were finding places “where our petals touch” — thank you Kallie Maughan for sharing your book’s beautiful concept with us).  And that was just the beginning.

The theme of the Brave Girl Symposium was “What can love do?” and the entire event and its participants were suffused by experiences of love, by stories of hope, and by opening our hearts to the possibilities of what we might do and how our love might change the world.  We sang.  We danced.  We made prayer flags.  We decorated paint stirring sticks with our own versions of “… and she did it anyway!”  We were a group of women connecting at a soul level; our conversations were often incredibly deep given that we’d just met one another.  Honestly, I can’t recall even one that was centered around the usual cocktail party superficialities.  Glennon Melton of Momastery, who was one of our speakers, gave me the perfect description when she said that we were all in a “love bubble.”

The speakers at Brave Girl Symposium were obviously chosen with exquisite care.  What an amazing line-up of amazing women who are giving their love to the world by DOING.  Many of these “gorgeous geniuses” (thanks for that one, Lisa Sonora, I’ll be using it often!!) had experienced soul-crushing challenges at some point in their lives.  And each and every woman who spoke to us shared not only their stories, but also how they found healing and love, and how they are helping others find their own paths to healing and love. From them, we learned what it means to really “sister” one another as women and how vitally important it is for us to do this; important for ourselves and for others.   As we listened to these brilliant women we cried, we laughed hysterically, we took it all in, and then we reflected back to share our thoughts with our new soul sisters.

I’m super shy and introverted, especially when I’m surrounded by strangers, yet I attended Brave Girl Symposium by myself (something I am rarely brave enough to do).  From the minute I boarded that big, blue Brave Girl bus I knew I would not regret my decision to go this symposium solo (it was truly a case of I did it anyway).  I never once felt like an outsider, never once felt like I was alone.  Whether it was the beautiful friendship and love extended from those sisters I got to know well or the equally beautiful friendship and love extended from those with whom I simply had an interaction — I felt accepted and I felt loved.  More than this, I felt empowered.  If there were this many like-minded women who felt the call to come to Brave Girl Symposium, then I know there are many, many more out in the world.  And there are even more women who need the message of love, hope, healing, and learning that they, too, can be brave.  It is my fondest hope that I grow and learn how I can be someone who shares that message.  Knowing that I have so many Brave Girls rooting for me and this goal, how can I fail?

Do you think you might wanna be a Brave Girl?  Do you wanna know more?  If so, click the links below and check out the Love Bubble!

Brave Girls Club

Brave Girls University

Brave Girl Symposium 2016

 

 

SUP?

Yesterday I was the bravest girl ever.  Seriously.  And that’s what I kept telling myself for the first 45 minutes of my very first stand-up paddle boarding lesson.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a first attempt: the weather was sunny, but not too warm; the water was practically as smooth as glass; there were no daredevil-piloted speedboats zipping around making big, disruptive wakes.  But I was still really scared about the whole thing.  First off, those paddle boards are BIG and HEAVY and I have spaghetti arms.  Second off, when you see those pictures or videos of people leisurely paddling around without a care in the world what you’re not seeing is that they’re using every single muscle in their bodies.  Okay, I might be exaggerating — a little — but it’s a WHOLE BODY workout.  I work out, but I know full well I’m only using maybe 1/8th of my muscles and feel pretty uncertain about the competency of the rest of them.  Finally, I know how to swim so I’m not sure why the idea of falling off the board into calm, not very deep water freaked me out since drowning wasn’t a risk, but it did.  Thank goodness the first things the instructor talked about were: 1) how to fall; 2) it’s a sure thing at some point you’re gonna fall; and 3) when you fall and attempt to get back on the board, there is no graceful way to do it and everyone looks like a beached whale.

While we walked on the beach with our instructor, I wondered again why I was venturing so far out of my comfort zone and whether it would really bum my husband out if I just sat on the beach and worked on my tan while he did the lesson.  Then I remembered my big realization — that I like to forget — that living big and sparkling usually starts with being uncomfortable.  I really LIKE comfortable.  I’ve also recognized, though, that I can only hibernate on the couch watching Bravo for about 36 hours and then I gotta get up and be brave again.  Paddle boarding is something I’d always thought I’d enjoy.  I wanted to be one of those calm, peaceful women competently paddling.  Achieving that vision, however, would require some discomfort and work.  So, I didn’t sit on the beach.  I wo-manned up, grabbed my board and hauled it into the water.

I’ll spare you the details of my learning how to paddle, then kneeling on the board and paddling, then being super scared about it, but finally standing up and paddling.  I had to go through it, it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.  Every time I was scared, I repeated my mantra to myself about being the bravest girl EVER.  Believe it or not, it helped!  I even learned how to turn myself around by paddling backwards. Booyah!

Once I was standing up and paddling around looking kind of /sort of like that calm, peaceful woman I visualized, I realized how mindful this experience was.  When you’re learning something new, you are fully present in the moment.  Especially if you’re terrified of getting hurt/looking like a moron (equally terrifying in my world).  I paid a lot of attention to our instructor and was continuously checking what I was doing against how he was telling me to do it.  When I was standing up and paddling it wasn’t the end of the mindfulness, either. Being aware of my surroundings, being aware of the wind direction, paying attention to whether I needed to paddle more on the left side or right side, keeping my vision on the horizon so that I could maintain my balance … all of these required me to be focused and in the moment.  All those niggling thoughts that had been cluttering my mind or annoyances I couldn’t let go of disappeared for the three hours I was on the water.  I couldn’t spare any of my attention for inconsequentials.  Not surprisingly, on the way home I realized that not thinking about those things had no negative impact.  My worries and annoyances didn’t get any better or any worse for my not letting them junk up my mind.  Lesson noted and learned.

 

Moving Beyond “All or Nothing”

Yep, it happened.  I immersed myself in my mindfulness, motion, and curiosity practices; I tracked my progress; I wrote about the experience; and after months of work, I turned in my final Master’s Project.  After all that work I deserved a break.  And I took a break; from my practices.  But I’d forgotten that the practices were not being done only for the purpose of my Master’s Project; I lost sight of continuing these practices as a way of life.  Some of them I maintained; like motion, but I’ll be honest — mindfulness and curiosity totally fell by the wayside.  Slowly the ruminating thoughts came creeping back, the auto-pilot kicked back in, and I began to feel like I was sinking back into the rut.  Yikes!

Have you noticed how people make a point of not talking about diets as much any more?  Instead, they talk about life changes that bring about weight loss.  Same thing with mindfulness/motion/curiosity.  Going all in for a semester and then thinking I didn’t need to continue to nurture and engage with those practices was like cutting out sugar and fat to lose weight and then being surprised when you gain weight after going back to eating them again.  Live Big and Sparkle is a lifestyle, it’s not an event or a one and done; it requires commitment and tenacity and ongoing practice — even on the days when you just don’t feel like it.  And I lost sight of that.  And my immediate reaction?  I should close up shop and just drop this since I am obviously flawed and unable to follow through with my own concepts.  Yeah, that makes sense.  Not.

Perhaps even more important than sticking with the program is being able to re-set and re-start after you fall off the wagon.  When I turned forty I decided it was time for me to learn to ice skate, even though I have no coordination, was absolutely terrified, and certainly had no need to learn to ice skate; but there you have it.  “First thing we’re going to work on, is getting up after you fall,” my instructor said.  At the time, I assumed this tactic was primarily driven by her observation of my terror and lack of any innate skill.  But no, that’s how she starts all of her lessons.  Turns out she starts all of her lessons that way because it’s going to happen.  Because every single one of her students is going to fall at some point.  If you’re learning to ice skate and can’t get up when you fall down, your progress will be pretty limited.  Although Live Big and Sparkle doesn’t give me the same sense of physical fear (not likely I’ll break any bones — although maybe the motion practices?), it certainly requires some bravery to step up and live it every day.  And I’m pretty sure I’ll “fall” again — probably for different reasons.  Maybe next time I’ll remember this sooner and get re-engaged sooner, but even if I don’t it’s important to know that it’s okay to “fall,” recognize it, and know the steps I need to take to get back up.  It was important for me to experience this, because it’s important for me to tell you and encourage you to move past the feeling you’ve messed up and should just quit.

Take this as your advance permission slip and use it as many times as you need to.  You will have times when you just don’t feel like being mindful, or in motion, or curious.  You will have times when you completely forget about being mindful or in motion, or curious.  Those times might last for a while.  Remember that none of this goes on your permanent record because there are no grades.  This is a process and it’s the process that is important.  You can re-start it as many times as you need to.  You can re-start in as small or as big a way as you want.  Just always remember that this is for you and for your happiness and well-being.  And it’s important.  Because you are important.

 

 

 

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