Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Make Space For Rest

Whether we like it or not, summertime brings a natural productivity slow down. And while many of us, hard driving, Type-A personalities wrestle with it, it is important for every human  to make space for rest.

Here a three things you can do to facilitate a restful moment soon:

Take Stock

It is the the mid-point of 2014 and a good time to stop and reflect on what's occurred so far this year. Take time to write down some of the best accomplishments you've had to date this year. Rest is always easier when you have a good handle on "where you are" in relation to where you want to be.  Reflect with a friend or colleague on how you're feeling about the year so far and take note of the areas you want to see improvement.

Plan Next Move

Just like reflecting, taking a moment to lay out what you want to do next is very helpful for ensuring full rest. It is hard to unplug, unwind when you have pending thoughts, ideas or actions floating around in your head. Similar to taking stock, laying out options or intentions help solidify the ability to relax completely. Make a few calls, send a few emails - not looking for replies but really emptying your head and heart of outstanding actions.

Be Real

If you cannot take a real vacation, please don't call your time away from work a vacation. We cannot fool our bodies nor our spirits by calling time away something that it is clearly not. I learned this a few years back. We have family visits out of the country every year. They are in Mexico and they are fun. But they are not a vacation; at least not in my mind's eye. Be sure and be real with yourself. If your annual camping trip is not truly a rest and respite for you, don't call it a vacation. Call it what it is. Being real is the most important rule for getting true rest and alignment.

Whatever you do this summer, make sure you actually make space for rest. It can be as simple as taking a few days off and just doing nothing. Or take time to do something that actually soothes your soul. All living things need rest and we must be intentional to give ourselves the rest we need, when we need.

May you get some rest this summer.

I know I will.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Don't Look Back, It's Bad Luck

Photo (and blog title) credit to Sarah Morgan, her view on a recent cross-country move.
It's not often I get inspiration both visually and with words from the same source. But that is exactly what happened last week in my Facebook feed when I saw the above photo. Posted by my friend who just had a sudden move from Southern California to the Southeast, the cool pic was captioned, "Don't look back, it's bad luck."

What a perfect metaphor for life. With change being the only thing we can ever truly count on in life, it's very easy to stay put and hold on to whatever is familiar.

The stressful work situation.

The strained relationship.

The dream deferred.

The unpleasant living arrangement.

The failing business plan.

That's why I was drawn to my friend's post so intently. I actually know what it's like to "not look back," both personally and professionally. And while I don't believe wholeheartedly in luck, I do know that in order to really make progress in life or in business - you do have to leave what's in your rear view mirror, in your rear view mirror.

Regardless your relationship with change, it is imperative to look ahead and not look back. It's why the most important message when moving from "here to there," is all about why "here" no longer works or serves you.  The picture must be painted clearly of why "here" is not where you (or those you want to change with you) need to be.

You must be descriptive. You must be explicit. And you have to be real with what the true consequences are for holding on to your current circumstance.  When people around you encourage you to stay "here," you have to articulate why it's time to move "there." As events or happenings frighten your move from the comfortable "here," be ready to remind yourself and those affected that "here" is not going to solve what only moving "there" can attempt to tackle. Finally, you just have to take a few steps away from "here," - make the mental and physical shift away from "here." Then and only then, can you truly move forward to "there."

And once you have a glimpse of "there" and you start making decisions and moves toward "there," "here" will take its proper place.

In your rear view mirror.

Monday, June 9, 2014

My Circle of Life Moment

There goes another rubber tree plant
Over the years, whenever I heard the theme song from the 1994 classic Disney movie, The Lion King, it never meant much to me. I'd just sing along with Sir Elton John and reminisce about the great animated tale of King Mufasa and Simba's journey to his destiny.

This past April 1, for the first time ever, I had a personal connection to that simple song. The ficus "rubber tree" plant in the photo above was gifted to my very best friend when her beloved mom passed away suddenly. After the memorial, as we were clearing the funeral home of all their belongings and all the wonderful floral tributes to her, I was stopped in my tracks seeing this plant.

It was my circle of life.

You see, when my mom passed away in 1976, someone gave us a similar plant. I grew up with that plant and it was taller than me when I left for college in the fall of 1989. I loved that plant, for it represented so much. It was the vitality and  living breathing proof of my mom's existence for a very long time. I am not a green thumb at all but I did care for that particular plant. (I hear they are pretty hard to kill). When I left for college, I took for granted that that plant would be there or would one day be mine. I did not think to verbalize my love for that plant at that time. A series of unfortunate events happened over the years and along with all my baby photos with my mom,  that plant disappeared from my life. I cannot tell you I ever even felt the loss of the plant.

I've mourned the loss of my pictures many times but the plant was an obscure hurt that I did not feel again until that day in April standing in a central Illinois funeral home. I immediately felt drawn to the plant.  I mentioned to my BFF my story, briefly and succinctly. We were very absorbed in her grief and it felt selfish to even say it but I am glad I did.

Later that afternoon as we were leaving, she called me into the living room with her brother and her father and asked me to take and care for the plant in honor of her mom and my mom. I could not keep my composure. It's even taken me months to write this because the overwhelming emotion of thinking how amazing it is - this thing we call life.


This friend who was pushed off my lap in 1990 and almost wasn't my friend.

24 years of friendship.

A clear schedule on my calendar for the precise days she needed me.

A ficus plant someone thought to send.

If that is not the "circle of life", then I don't know what is.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mom, Grandmom To All: Maya Angelou's Legacy With Me

My fav image of Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Like the rest of the world, I took the passing of author and poet Maya Angelou really hard when I saw it in my stream of news.  I was overwhelmed by so many emotions and I wept reading key pieces of her work the other night. Then, it occurred to me that the most important thing I'll miss about Dr. Angelou is her mothering and grandmothering of me. Yep. Me, personally from a far.

I picked the photo of Dr. Angelou on purpose because it represents something to me.


Things my sweet mom and maternal grandmom were not blessed with.

Maya Angelou only birthed one child physically, her son Guy in 1945 when she was just 17 years old.  Yet, she said on many occasions that she was fortunate to be the "mother to many people".  I was one of those people.

From a distance, from a far - as soon as I connected with Maya Angelou's writing, she was a mother figure to me.  Followers of this blog know well that my own mom, Betty Jean Jackson (Wilmer)  lost her life at the tender age of 24 years old in 1976 when I was just 4 years old.  For much of my life, I've resisted real-life, up close mother figures.  So it was easy to have this distant yet close in spirit mom figure in Maya Angelou.  However, as I read more and devoured information about her in her death, I realized that she'd moved a space from mother to grandmother in the later years of our "relationship."

I realized upon "losing"  Maya that, in addition to being a motherless daughter, I never had a close relationship with a grandmother either. On my paternal side, I had a grandmother who enjoyed a long life until 1997. Unfortunately, I never had the privilege to know and/or enjoy her.  My mom's mom, who was nearby and very involved in our lives, passed away suddenly in her 50s in the mid 80s. I've always said she passed away from a broken heart.

An only child of sharecroppers in Arkansas, my grandmother Lois Anderson had four children of her own. My mom, Betty was her first child and when she lost her, it was said that she never truly recovered from the blow.  Then in late 1983, she lost her own mom and barely lived another 90 days passing away in her early 50s in 1984. The legacy of early death haunts me. So, at some point over the years, I transferred my maternal feelings toward Maya Angelou to those of a grandmother. Without one on earth for most of my life, I just made Maya Angelou my grandmother.

I looked forward to any news from her and the releases of her books. When we got Twitter and she joined, I eagerly followed to feel connected to her and her wisdom.

Now, I'm officially without "mother and grandmother" Maya Angelou. And even though  I've been in this place before, this time, I'm left with tangible evidence of her presence in my life through her writings.

Thank you, Dr. Maya.