Unmet Expectations

I have heard before, and have been a strong proponent, of how important it is to make a goal.  By having something you’re striving for you can find the underlying motivation to keep going.  However, in addition to having a goal it is important to remember two things: is your goal your REAL goal and to consider the stress that comes with unmet expectations.

Most of the time we make goals that are arbitrary like I’m going to weigh this weight or I’m going to make more money.  We do this without actually identifying the core goal: to feel more confident or to have more freedom to do things.  By not having the insight for our REAL goals, we either eventually lose stem because we get distracted or if we meet our goal it doesn’t fulfill our expectations because it wasn’t the thing we were REALLY looking for.

The idea of unmet expectations was something I’ve never thought about before.  This is what can lead us to feeling unsuccessful, worthless, helpless, and generally crappy about ourselves.  We develop the feeling of learned helplessness because nothing we do ever fills the void, our expectations continually don’t get met.  I believe this is because we focus too much on the “what” or “how” and not the real “why” we make a decision to move.  The “what” may evolve into a million different possibilities, but the “why” can be fulfilled by any of them; the key is we have to be flexible.

I don’t DO flexible, at least not anymore.  I have settled into a state of rigidity and patterns that make me feel safe.  The funny things is that I don’t feel safe, I just feel scared of never reaching where I want to be.  What this has actually  done is limit my potential and fill me with that continual feeling of unmet expectations.  My expectations are unmet because my routine does not allow for the “what” or even the “how” to change to reach my “why.” Through a variety of self-healing activities I am constantly pushing myself to let go of the reins and trust I will get to wherever I’m suppose to if I, you guessed it, listen to myself and breathe.  My expectations may not be what is actually going to fulfill me.  I have to let that go and remember my “why” and just keep putting one step in front of the other.

What’s my “why”?  My “why” is to be an example of the healing found with self-expression and encourage others to do the same in whatever way they want to honor their voice.  It does not have to be through art, be flexible on the medium and it will be the right fit for you.  What is your “why” and how can you give yourself permission to loosen up on the “what” or “how”?

 

-> I’ve been allowing this to translate into my art recently.  Adding to projects I’ve started based on feeling.  I’m liking where it’s going but have no concrete expectation on what it will become.  It is so much less pressure and enjoyable.  I also am finding the more I let go, the better the product is.  Maybe I’m not always right after all.

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Introverting is OK… Listening is key

All my life I’ve thought being an introvert was a bad thing.  I thought it was selfish; something must be wrong with me to want some space.  Through the practice of meditation and turning off distractions (TV, bad radio) I’ve really started to listen to my true voice. I need space to refuel.  I need to create.  I need to read.  I need to breath without feeling like someone else has already claimed that breath for themselves.  It is completely ok to need “me” time.  My voice is loud and clear. I realize more and more when I don’t listen, I scream and throw tantrums like a child (usually with food).

By allowing myself to turn inward I’ve gotten a TON of art ideas and have a growing list of songs to learn on the guitar and piano.  It’s nice to have a non-pressured to-do list just for me.  It is important to take the time that you have and turn that wisdom into fruition.  Time blocking is important sure, but I’m realizing more and more that there are pockets of time throughout the day to get a tune up.  I’ve even started sketching and/or meditating at work between clients.  Sure I get less paperwork done, but guess what, it’ll get done and I actually will have the positive attitude to do it.  When you listen to yourself and breathe into your needs, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, things happen effortlessly.  Who would have thought? It is really THAT simple.

In addition to trying to listen, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries.  Often I hold my breath, tell myself to be quiet, and uphold other people’s boundaries to be a good little girl.  I’m quickly learning not only is this a horrible way to live life, it is suffocating.  In the pursuit of strengthening my voice I’ve become attuned to boundaries for myself.  Alone time is needed.  I need to be heard and respected.  I need to take care of myself through a variety of things.  The biggest gem I’ve gotten in the past week is visualizing boundaries like a house.  Some things are solid and unchanging like a wall and the statements made above, however, some are flexible like a door opening and closing into your home.  For me, that may be HOW I take care of myself: today it may be yoga, tomorrow it may be a piece of cake. The solid wall boundary for this is to listen to my body and honor it’s requests (sometimes cake is not ok because I need more nourishment; my body will tell me what kind of moment it is).  Other flexible doors are how much time I want to spend with people.  Things aren’t black and white.  There is grey and I am learning where to draw lines and where to shade.  It is calming and it is effortless at times.

Our minds are so powerful to identify our true needs, desires, and boundaries.  We should honor that ancient voice inside us.  A good tip to stay aligned with out inner voice is to journal.  It keeps you aware of your inner most thoughts and gives you a place to put your great ideas until you are ready to act on them.  A vital part of a relationship is listening, do you have a healthy relationship with yourself?

Doodles May 2014

Doodles May 2014

 

Spring time and fear

You would think that springtime would be my favorite time of year: gardening, hiking, flowers blooming, more daytime….. But I actually dread it. Despite having many of favorite things, spring also is the introduction of pollination meaning bees and wasps. I know, I know… without this perfect circle of life the organic food I eat wouldn’t be possible and my peppers wouldn’t produce it’s awesomeness. However, I’m petrified of all flying insects. No petrified is not an overstatement. I run away, have a panic attack, hide inside, and actually avoid a beautiful time of year all day until THEY are fast asleep. Pathetic I know but it’s how I’ve operated for over 20 years. It worked out good as a kid to get out of yard work because my dad said, “I can’t with you.” As an adult it hasn’t worked out so well. My friends are over it, my fiancé doesn’t understand how we will have our holistic co-op if I can’t go outside, and I’m restricted from enjoying things that fuel me. I realized during an “episode” yesterday this irrational fear is much like my avoidance of other things in my life I want to do. The fear is rational ( I could get stung, people may hate my art or writing) but I grossly overestimate the possibility of it happening… Leaving me frozen and running away from perceived fear not an actual threat. I have to stop anticipating threats and trust I have been built to 1. Be able to deal with the threat should it occur 2. Realize it won’t be as bad as I hype it up to be and 3. Be wise enough to make good choices. I’m not hitting wasp nests, I’m planting flowers under the glorious sun or going for a peaceful walk. I am not scribbling crayons on paper and going to the MOMA, I’m producing work for myself right now. I’m growing like my flowers. Wasps aren’t worried about me and if I get stung I’ll be ok, I’ll adjust my tactic, and still enjoy the blessing of spring. Spring is a synonym of creativity in my book; the wasps won’t stop me from blooming.

A little art from my Sunday fun day post a refocusing yoga/meditation. Listen to your needs, you won’t be directed toward wasps nests, just towards nourishment.

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Yield to Yourself, It’s Awesome.

It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve posted.  WAY TO LONG.  I took some time to get things straight for the upcoming wedding and also pushing myself to make some art/create great music.  Several things have happened during this hiatus.  I was able to start meditating again and have really worked to reframe my state of mind.  I spend so much time judging myself and expecting myself to do things a certain way that I don’t actually do them.  I need to have distractions taken care of (cleaning, to do lists, wedding checklists, friends I’ve neglected…. you get the point) before I let myself yield to myself.  I’m beginning to recognize how backwards this is.  If I breath into myself and listen to the voice that I try so hard to shut off, all the pieces will fall.  Sure it won’t be smooth all the time, but it will all happen without my trying.  I’ll be living it.  There comes a time where you just have to get out of your own way.  So when my mind races, obviously I have a great idea and I need to at least put it down somewhere.  When I’m stressed about nothing, I need to focus on right now to put my fears in check.  I’ve watched my fiancé and I grow over the past month and truly be fulfilled because we are making music, singing, writing, and yielding to our true nature.  All the things I’ve kept discovering about myself over the past few weeks and through writing all lead me to the same conclusion. I am fine. I am creative.  I am talented.  I will be ok as long as I’m myself.  God created me beautifully and the more I push against that, the less productive and at peace I am.  Thanks for your patience while I continue to increase the volume on what I already know.  Remember, to take the time to listen to yourself and do things the way you do them.  It’s ok.  If you’re really listening to yourself you’ll hear all the infinite answers you’ve ever wondered.

April 20, 2014. Colored Pencils

April 20, 2014. Colored Pencils

 

Quotables and Intentional Focus

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Today I am on vacation. Yes a real one. Great people are around, I am in the middle of nowhere, and I am feeling peaceful.  The best part about right now… is that everyone is still sleeping and I get a getaway within a getaway.  I get my morning.  I get my coffee. I get to reflect on what is.

This past week I have used two of my favorite quotes in therapy.  “It is not things that upset man, but the view which they take of them,” by Epictetus and “When I let go of what I am, I become who I might be.”  I’m unsure who wrote the last one, but I do know I loved the quote so much I got it tattooed on my side in college.  I wanted to always remember that my authentic self was a constant part of me; I wanted to push myself to let go of all the labels I’ve put upon myself and just be.  I have revisited these quotes many times over the past few years to remind myself I have control over my thoughts and choices.

We have the ability to redirect our thoughts to a place that is beneficial for us.  Yes there will be times where our thoughts are scary or brutally honest, but those are safeguards built inside humans to keep us safe. Those thoughts are beneficial. However, a lot of the time (at least for me) my thoughts put up an alarm when there is no threat or overestimate the possibility of threat.  Those thoughts are not founded on any proof but fueled by doubt and crippling fear. Thoughts like these can completely change your experience with anything and keep you in a “what” state of being, burdened by labels and an inability to live like a free human. Your life then becomes under the control of something else; you in fact become an object.

In the spirit of lessons I learn from my clients and the message I received in church this week, I tried very hard to put my fear aside and to really redirect my thoughts yesterday. The trip up the mountain was scary and thank GOD it was dark and I couldn’t see how high we were. Despite all that, in the passenger seat I wanted to have a panic attack.  I said to myself, “Not today. You don’t have fear.  There is no evidence I can fall off this mountain. Bri (my neighbor) has driven up here before.  The great state of North Carolina would have shut off the road if it wasn’t safe to drive on. God is protecting you.” It was not easy at first but I just kept singing Mumford and Sons, took deep breaths, and let myself have a life experience.  Is it necessary something I want to do every day, hell no, but it did prove Epictetus’ point.  I changed my view and I got up the mountain.

I kept thinking about other areas I can be intentional in reducing areas fear keeps me trapped instead of accepting each breath as my own, fueling who I am.  I remembered how I hold my shoulders up tight alllllllll the time, which is a sign that an animal is in defense mood (if I were a dog my hair would always be standing up), and how I constantly hold my stomach in to not feel fat.  “What is the point Elise? You are with good friends and in pretty good health. Let those shoulders down, there is nothing to worry about in this very moment, and if there were then be uptight then. No one cares if your stomach sticks out some.  If it bothers you that much go do some sit ups and put down your vacation beer.”  I had this conversation, well monologue, with myself this morning in the shower.  So today, I will breathe. I will let it all hang out. I will work on my view of things so the thing itself does not become bigger than it is.  Most of all, I refuse to be an object, a what, and embrace each breath as my own because this is my life… I am connecting to who I have always been. 

This week, take time to really connect with the moment.  Be intentional about your thoughts as that is the blessing and the curse of being human. Remember what you might be is really who you are right now under all that junk, breathe and let him/her exhale. Holding your breath sucks.

 

Avoidance Dance…

2013.

2013.

I have not written in two weeks; I’ve been doing my “avoidance dance.”  I use to always fuss at my fiancé for this particular move when I asked him to clean up or do anything that required a time limit.  You do all these other things, all the other things, and then suddenly don’t have time for what you were suppose to do.  Ironically, I continue to learn about myself that the things that irritate me about others are in fact my biggest flaws.  

I have not written for many of the reasons you all haven’t worked out, applied to school or that job, or did the obnoxious pile of dishes in the sink.  Life happens and suddenly there is not time.  However, over the past few weeks of writing I’m learning that MAY not actually be the case.  Despite the fact that I’ve created systems, despite the fact that I’ve notified my support system, despite the fact that I want to channel my inner child….. I still have a wall.

One, I get ashamed when I don’t follow through.  Making commitments puts a giant mirror on your actions which can be both motivating and frightening.  I have not created any art or picked up my guitar; my shame increases my desire to introvert myself.  In therapy there is a theory about depression and anxiety.  When you feel anxious, you over-predict how much people observe you, thus increasing your anxiety.  When you feel depressed and you emphasize on the negative your depression increases.  Thus, the “avoidance dance” comes in to increase your feelings of discomfort.  Guess what.  This solves shit.  Yup.

Two, after speaking with my fiancé last night about my fantasies for my daily life.  My doubt in the fact my dreams and reality can co-exist is a giant brick wall.  I do my constant “avoidance dance” to protect myself from reality crushing my dreams.  Again, I keep trying to plan for things God has already made provisions for.  I can’t do all the work and if faith increases, my current reality become my authentic reality.  As Peter Pan says, “All you have to do is have one happy thought (or belief in your dreams), and you’ll fly like me”.  As the Bible says “I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there.’ and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible” (Matthew 17:20) or “In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan” (Ephesians 6:16).  Take your pick of you want to listen to, the message is the same.  Do you really believe in yourself?

No promises, just continuing on the road to faith and reconnection with that which creates my heaven, now and in the future. The rest will come…. authentically.

Point of Clarification: Communication Required

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I admit I was not accountable to my system this past week.  In fact I was SO unaccountable that I didn’t do it all.  However, I did notice that I was more intentional with where I directed my energy in the mornings.  I took time to eat breakfast, do my hair (which is a big accomplishment with all these curls), and get dressed.  I set things in motion to feel more productive.  I accomplished much of the goals I’ve been aiming for… but still I did not follow my plan.

Before getting upset (well before I got too upset) with myself, I realized that I forgot a CRUCIAL piece to the puzzle.  I made the system. Check.  I realized I needed to be held accountable.  Check.  I wrote about my revelations. Check.  I told my fiancé of his new responsibility to push me out of bed each morning to do yoga/meditate/workout/anything…..Whoops. Telling the person holding you accountable WOULD be helpful if you want your plan to actually work.  So a week later, after reading my last post and having lengthy discussions about my system and his system, a plan is in place that can work for both of us. 

Something important to mention is whoever is your “person,” the one whom you have entrusted the gift to kick you in the behind once in a while, must be someone you trust.  They must listen fully to your dreams, validate them, and equally make a commitment to be in your corner.  No one wants a part time coach, you’d be better off alone.  When you have a part time coach, you can often feel even more alone than actually being alone because you now you have a false sense of support. 

I was thinking this week about when I was younger and all the dreams I had.  I just KNEW I was going to be a musician.  I was going to write music for myself and others, sing all the time, play multiple instruments, and live my life on the high of melodies.  I trusted this dream with the wrong people, who did a realistic river dance on my plans.  Despite what my career assessments said (my number one job for the Strong Interest Inventory is a musician btw), I need a much more stable path.  The arts are for you’re “time off,” which without great effort is a magical notion.

It is vital to find those who you feel safe communicating with to help nurture your vision.  With the right people in your corner, all parts of you can be fed and realistic plans can be put in place to make your purpose in life a reality.  Now, it may not always look like you want it or your person may tell you some news you don’t want to hear.  Even with all of that, you’ll know the suggestions are from a place of honest support, a source of alternative pathways, and aimed to build confidence in your ability to pick whichever fork in the road you wish.   

Communicate your dreams.  Kids aren’t afraid to say it, don’t you be either.  

*** Again, hoover over image for a link to my artwork page.  Thanks for your support. 

The Road Not Taken…. Consistently

Image“The Road Not Taken” Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. ”

I do not feel like “somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a  wood.”  I find myself at this fork in the road … consistently, over and over again, currently.  In the wake of unplanned tragedies and loss opportunities, I wanted to pick a path and move forward by focusing on things that are in my control.  However, I could not figure out why I have been trying to “gain control” over things in my life for so long.  Then it hit me.  I may venture down the road less traveled but I get lost due to veering off course and end up defeated; therefore, I always turn back to the same fork in the road I started from.  I lack a plan and consistency.

I venture to guess most of us feel as if we work harder at some aspect of our daily lives then we should.  I venture to guess most of us get started on goals only to be detoured by a doughnut.  I venture to guess most of us repeat this cycle over and over again leaving us so burnt out that we just stop trying.  My fire was reignited this week when I was truly blessed by attending a 3 day training on real estate investing by Fortune Builders.  Cole Hatter was the speaker; he recharged my battery which had been running on fumes.  Although real estate is my fiancé’s passion (maybe mine too now), I took several things away from the course that I can apply to my life as a whole.  The three biggies for me were having a system to follow, consistently following your system, and being reminded of your “why.”

Of course this seems simple enough, right? Make a plan, follow it, and use your purpose as your driving force, piece of cake.  Not! About the only things I do consistently is not follow my plan.  I began to think about speed bumps that stop my progress.  The initial problem is I have not sat down to really think about a system.  Sure I have over analyzed my life to death, calculating for this and that, but I have not taken the time to freely create a system that I will naturally follow.  I need a basic routine using the information I’ve gained from personal insight and barriers to success, based on the success of others, and simple enough to be followed CONSISTENTLY.  To find this system, I opted to review previous posts to find direction.

In my prior post on “Body Language and Life’s Unknowns” I discussed the idea of listening to your internal voice; each day while conducting therapy I encourage people to trust their instincts.  Often our bodies and our minds can act as a compass and help us get back on our path/plan.  Even if your body is silent, someone else has undoubtedly created a system before you; find out and use it as a starting point.  The biggest thing to creating a plan you will naturally follow is to build in safeguards that encourage you to listen to yourself or others for support.  Without this, a plan is useless.  For example, I pay for a personal trainer not because I don’t know what to do but to be held accountable to a proven system.  I have to listen to someone and sometimes get a kick in the behind to stay on course.  External accountability can help you develop healthy boundaries to increase your success.

Lastly, remembering our “why” can help us overcome whatever excuses we can come up with in the moment.  I also referenced this idea in my first post “Get IT Together Fleming.”  Not only was Cole’s “why” inspiring, it pushed me think beyond simply wanting to better myself but how I wanted to make an impact on a wider audience.  This why must be so important to you that it is bigger than your distractions; mine is becoming just that.  It has become apparent to me that I have most of the skills I’ve needed (a plan, some accountability, and a “why”) to move forward and it took a complete stranger to put it all into place.  Thank you Cole Hatter for helping me consider using these ideas as a part of system to move forward with ease.

The key is to follow your system consistently, dodging self-excuses, to see the results of cumulative efforts.  This is how you avoid being stuck.   Accountability and consistency are what I have been missing for many personal and lifestyle goals.  This was the piece of the map that was torn off at the very spot I continue to get distracted by immediate fun, loosing track of the destination.  The lack of accountability was my easy way to “just this once” not follow my plan, have loose boundaries, and ultimately get lost.  After brief moments of bliss, I always end up walking back to the starting line with my tail between my legs.

I have learned that by integrating knowledge of clear, natural systems for me WITH BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE I can take the road less traveled by daily, and that will make all the difference.

To combat this cycle, I am giving myself one task this week to build an efficient self-system: go to bed at a decent time so I can use my mornings like I want. I know from self-examination and other people’s suggestions that getting things done in the morning that are important to me, like exercise or meditation, can lead to a more peaceful day.  My fiancé will help hold me accountable to this plan even when my TV show comes on at 10 PM.   My “why” for wanting to develop a daily system is to show others that through simple changes, you can be your authentic self, thus, avoiding unnecessary stress.  I’ve seen way to many people be taken captive by this and I’d like to take the road less traveled.  At the end of the week, I will evaluate my system for necessary changes.

This journey is gaining momentum. I am thankful for the messages sent to me throughout this process and am looking forward to consistently leisurely mornings, just the way I like them.

Stay Focused on your goals and take risks; with a clear path, maps, and support you can only be detoured if you choose to!  What’s your system, how do you plan to hold yourself accountable, and why is it important to you?

* Note about the image above: This was done as an exploratory exercise last year.  I am beginning to understand the way to grow up from the little girl trapped in the house, is to take a step forward one day at a time.  The consistent effort will lead me beyond my wildest dreams. Hoover over the image for a link to a better view.  Thanks for your support.

Body Language and Life’s Unknowns

www.JillianWebbArt.com Jillian Martin Herrmann is an amazing artist, blogger, and friend.  Please go to her website and  support her work. Her blog can be found at SunnyInSaintOlaf.blogspot.com

http://www.JillianWebbArt.com
Jillian Martin Herrmann is an amazing artist, blogger, and friend. Please go to her website and support her work. Her blog can be found at SunnyInSaintOlaf.blogspot.com

This week was full of unknowns.  News of poor family health and acknowledgement of financial strains made stillness almost impossible to find.  Almost.

I made several intentional decisions in this time of uncertainty.  I intentionally focused on listening to my body and translating its language.  Although life can often speak a foreign tongue, leaving you searching for clues, your body language is native to you.  It’s a soft, comforting tone gently nudging you along like your mother’s encouragement.  It takes your intuitions and helps you make them a reality.  It’s honest.

While intentionally focusing on my basic needs (rest and food) I’m also understanding how my body positively responds to more subtle cues.  My body melts into the floor while listening to guitar music, I am reminded of the peace I found playing the piano as a child.  I’m learning to lean into my fiancé’s touch, embracing the tingling feeling that radiates my spine. My body craves these things and by listening to the wrong, louder, and more wordily voice, I have been denying myself.  My body also provides warnings: tense shoulders that continuously slide up my back when my life feels off balance or a bloated stomach when I’ve eaten a nutritionally vacant meal.

If you take a moment to be still and listen, your body will tell you want you need.  I need music, I need love, I need to balance.  Balance is an awareness of both your body language and the environment it lives in.  Balance is acknowledging these things and listening.  No judgment, just listening.  Although my unknowns did not all pan out how I had planned, where I focused my energy this week did grow as expect.  I needed and I’m responding.

Silence Answers Back

26415_798758115198_5016752_nThese past few weeks, the universe has instituted a  mandatory reprieve from the daily noise.  A winter storm hit the southeast, forcing each of us to stay indoors and hibernate.  It’s been nice to have the time I’ve been searching for to experience the sunrise, stillness, and listen to the silence.  What I did not expect during this time of quiet, to be bombarded with Silence answering back.  Apparently, it is impossible to be quiet when you have a million thoughts in your head, things all the noise of the day to day has blocked out.  There is no longer a door allowing you to quietly pretend your dreams are in a separate room under lock and key.  Silence, unlocks that door.

I realized this fact this morning.  Precisely between 3 am and 6 am, my mind was infiltrated with plans.  I wanted to sleep; I wanted numbing silence; I wanted stillness.  These things are not living and I can not rest when my soul is yelling at me.  It is important to be an active listener in life.  To listen to both your soul and your body will allow you to truly be in unison with yourself.  I’m recognizing the answer may not be silence but a symbiotic relationship and continuous conversation between your outside and inside; its a journey not a destination.

In silence, I was able to really identify my fears and innate drives.  I am scared to sleep for fear of the future (or lack of one) and I can’t stay asleep due to being awoken by worries of maintaining the present.  However, if I am able to listen to myself, empathize with myself, and acknowledge my inner voice, then maybe these fears will subside.  In the future I want to be at peace with my creator and acceptance of things I will never know.  Right now, I want to explore.  I want to spread my wings and fly out of my present cage.  This cage is self-imposed and full of invisible bars.  Finally allowing myself to speak, I can make a plan.

My lesson this week is that although silence and time spent alone is necessary for my sanity, it is truly in this space that I am allowed to no longer be silent.  Where I am allowed to speak of the unspeakable, I can no longer hide from myself.  Maybe that’s why silence is this mythical place of peace because everyone is scared to actually get there.  I’m speaking; I’m listening; I am currently in flight.

Stay vocal. Stay honest.  Don’t be scared of silence, it’s where you are one with your authentic self.