Ease. It’s a major 2017 focus for me. How can I make my life run more smoothly? Freedom from stress and anxiety. A lessening of effort, concern, and annoyance. Increasing tranquility, comfort, and bliss.
I feel like “ease” may have some negative connotations, that it may be lumped in with laziness or luck. But to me it means knowing what I really want, so I can ensure all my decisions point towards that. It also means really knowing myself, and what I need to get to those places.
Learning what you need – what your body needs, what your mind needs, what your soul needs – can be a lifelong pursuit, but it’s so important to be in tune with all three of those aspects. Knowing what it is that energizes, refreshes, and inspires you will make your life infinitely easier.
So how do you differentiate between what you need to do, what you should do, and what you want to do? Often, when I’m really in the zone and on the right path, those all align. Sometimes, however, the choice isn’t particularly clear.
Need is pretty easy, since when we need to do something, it’s generally a requirement or an obligation, and things simply won’t progress if we don’t do them. We must do it, so do it we shall.
What about the things we should do versus the things we want to do? That is when I ask myself, “How do I want to feel? Where do I want to get to?”
Years ago I read a story about a young girl who was a competitive swimmer. She had to get up every morning before school to practice, which she did without fail. One day her grandmother was talking to her about swimming and commented that it must be so fun. “Oh, no,” the girl replied, “I love swimming, but it’s not fun.” She was referring to the early mornings, the long, tedious hours of practice, the frustrations that inevitably accompany progress. Yet even at her young age she understood the pay off, how her commitment did in the end bring her joy and satisfaction.
That story stuck with me. Often, the most worthwhile things in life are the ones we pour the most effort into.
Back to my year of ease, and how am I going to decide between should and want? Does ease always equate to doing and getting what I want? Ah ha! Doing what I want and getting what I want are two entirely different questions!
This year I also want to be productive. And I want to have fun. I want to be really supportive and connected. I want to be successful, energetic, and really really healthy.
Those words, those ideas, they paint a pretty clear picture of how I want to feel. So when I have to decide what to do with my day, I can ask myself, “How do I want to feel?”
January 1. The perfect day to start with a clean slate and get the year off to a roaring start. I could be productive, oh yes I could! And I potentially should have used the free day to start checking things off my life list, however I had been so busy over the holidays and working so hard, what I was desperately craving was relaxation (ease) and connection with my hot man. The entire day was spent wrapped in my robe, the majority while propped opposite Marcus on the couch, books open and beverages at hand. I tackled no chores, no duties, no organization, and I didn’t have one iota of regret about it.
Fast forward through another long, busy week, and I have committed to attending a seminar all weekend. I do not want to go. I absolutely do not want to spend my precious free time waking up early, sitting in a conference room, being surrounded by strangers, listening to a lecture. I agreed to this for a reason though, and I should go. It will be good for me to focus on myself for a few days. It will be an enforced opportunity to set this year off on the right foot. I know that I will either learn something new and valuable, or be reminded of something important.
When the seminar begins our educator for the weekend asks everyone who is excited to be there to stand. I do not stand. Then she asks who has shown up but is wondering why they signed up when they have so many other places to be and things to do. I stand up. Honesty is always key.
I attend. I learn. And I’m glad for the experience, as I knew I would be.
Despite this being a “should” decision and not so much of a “want,” I know myself well enough to know that I need to put myself in a position to succeed, if I’m to receive any benefit. Before the seminar begins for the weekend, I make a grocery list, go to the store, and organize meals for my next three days. I know that I am more alert and focused if I eat properly. It is important. I cancel all my social engagements for the weekend, knowing I will need time to decompress from all the enforced interaction with strangers, and will also need time to quietly process what I’m learning. I show up to the space with hot tea, an extra sweater, and a giant scarf to wrap around my shoulders – knowing that the rooms are often cold. And when our lunch break arrives, I’ve been struggling with a nasty headache, and the thought of dealing with bright lights and crowds of people for any excess time fills me with anxiety, so I choose to drive all the way home, where I can nap and decompress for a few short minutes, even though it logically doesn’t make much sense to do so.
These things are what I needed to do in order to show up and succeed at this seminar. And so I did them. I could easily have canceled, but I would not have felt as productive, fulfilled, or as if I was setting myself up to progress.
Know yourself. Weigh out your “shoulds” versus your “wants.” Only you know which is the best choice for you. And most importantly, pinpoint how you want to feel, this more than anything will be able to guide the decisions you are faced with making.by McKinnley
As a child I was impossibly stubborn. There was a day in Kindergarten where our class went to the airport and they were taking all the kids up for a ride in a tiny four-seater plane. And I decided that there was absolutely no way I was getting in that thing. While I remember the day so clearly, I have zero recollection of my rationale behind not wanting to fly. However I do recall my unflinching tenacity in sticking with my decision: I refused to get in the plane, no matter how much cajoling my teachers did, not even when they told me I could have the coveted front seat. I even remember feeling my hold beginning to soften with that one, maybe it would be worth it, since everyone was going to so much trouble to tell me how great it would be, and I could even have the best seat! But NO. I had decided I wasn’t doing it, and nobody was going to change my mind. I never got in the plane.
Fast forward 30 years and I retain very few of the qualities that stubborn and unsmiling child embodied. For better or for worse, I’ve grown up, and I’m no longer as impossibly stubborn as I used to be. In fact, I often find myself being far too flexible, and my decision-making skills are rather insubstantial – I can be coerced into almost anything by anyone charming and persistent enough to try.
While I don’t believe pig-headed stubbornness is a valuable life skill, I do think that decision-making should be simple, definitive, and not lead to sleepless, anxiety filled nights.
A friend recently lent me some books, including “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero. I really didn’t think there would be anything new or exciting for me in this book, since I’ve read everything I can get my hands on by amazingly insightful authors such as Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Pam Grout, and dozens of others. To my delight I found this book to be a fantastic amalgamation of many ideas and tenets I’ve been embracing. There’s a wicked little chapter called “The Almighty Decision,” which I think really hits the nail on the head.
So often, we pretend we’ve made a decision, when what we’ve really done is signed up to try until it gets too uncomfortable.
I TOTALLY DO THAT. I sit on the fence for ages. I ask people on both sides how the grass is. I reach over and wriggle my toes around to see how it feels. Eventually I’ll climb down onto one side, but rarely do I let go of the fence, I keep my hand on that wooden post just in case I see something exciting happening on that other side and need to scramble back over. Sure, sometimes I get enjoyment from both worlds, but most of the time I miss out on the best that either side has to offer because I’m holding too damn tightly to the fence to go out and enjoy frolicking in the meadow.
“I’m a terrible decision maker.” “Making decisions gives me anxiety.” I’ve said both of these things, frequently and repeatedly. It’s time to stop. It’s time to start saying, “I’m a great decision maker!” It’s time for me to actually BE a great decision maker.
I wrote about making the decision to quit my favourite job. How that moment was crystal clear and it was the only time I felt 100% confident that it was what I both needed and wanted to do. It would be amazing if every decision came with that amount of clarity, but it doesn’t, and I need to be able to make quick, decisive choices even when the answer doesn’t come ringing.
This is where we turn back to Jen Sincero, who talks about signing up fully, wanting it badly enough, and, as Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Yep, ok, cool. Then she gets to the good stuff, the How To’s:
In order to do this you need to have the audacity to be honest about what you really want to do, not what you should do, believe it’s available to you regardless of any evidence otherwise, and go for it.
To decide means literally “to cut off.” No wonder so many people are totally freaked out by it! Indecision is one of the most popular tricks for staying stuck within the boundaries of what’s safe and familiar. Which is why a common trait of successful people is that they make decisions quickly and change them slowly. And by quickly I don’t mean that you must know exactly what to do the moment a decision presents itself (although there are those people who do), but rather that you immediately face the damn thing and start working through your decision-making process, whatever that may look like.
If you’re a waffler, or prefer to avoid the process altogether, a great thing to do is practice on the little things to build up your decision-making muscle. When eating at restaurants, make yourself pick something off the menu in under thirty seconds. Once you choose, you are unauthorized to change your mind or your order. Give yourself twenty minutes to go online and research the best garlic press and then make the purchase.
Decisions are not up for negotiation
The whole point of deciding is to stop wasting time and to move forward, NOT to spend time figuring out how you can wiggle out of your decision! It helped me to think of it this way: I’m not going to go home and negotiate about whether or not I’m going to smoke a cigarette just as I’m not going to go home and negotiate about whether or not to snort some horse tranquilizers. I don’t negotiate about snorting horse tranquilizers because I’m not a horse-tranquilizer snorter. Now that I don’t smoke, I’m not going to negotiate about smoking because I don’t smoke.
Whenever I asked all these hugely successful business owners what the secret to their success was, the overwhelming majority answered: Tenacity. Be the last person standing. Wear down your obstacles and excuses and fears and doubts..
GENIUS!!!!!! I never would have thought that you can practice things like being a better decision maker, but it absolutely makes sense.
She also gives an analogy of how birthing your dreams is like giving birth, and it’s pretty spot on. The entire book is worth a read. You can check her out at www.jensincero.com
As for me, I’ve learned that making definitive decisions brings peace and confidence. I’ve also learned that I can get better at making decisions. I no longer tell myself – or others – that I’m a rotten decision-maker. I don’t even tell myself what kind of person I want to be, I just try to be that person.
So when I’m feeling bored and snacky at work, and I’m tempted to sneak a few French fries from the greasy bowl under the heat lamp, I tell myself, “I’m not the kind of person who eats French fries at midnight.”
I think it’s important to remember that being a great decision-maker doesn’t mean you’re ever wrong, or that you never change your mind, it simply means that mistakes are merely learning opportunities, and that if a decision doesn’t feel right any more you give yourself permission to make a different decision.
Get out there and make some life-changing decisions, my friends!!by McKinnley
The energy that flows in and out of and around all of us.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, it is there, and whether you know it or not, you are influencing it. Once you’re aware of it, then you start seeing how it unfolds, and then you learn how responsive The Universe is, and how much she enjoys a good conversation.
A year ago I was working a job that wasn’t just a job, it was my home, my family, my heart, and a huge part of my identity. I’d been with the company for 5 ½ years and I loved it, I had no desire or plans to leave, and felt there was plenty of opportunity for me to remain with them for as long as I wanted. I’d been working in a new role, putting in long hours and a ton of energy, but despite my joy I was craving a break.
I started realizing this when chatting with customers and frequently many would mention being unemployed or taking leaves of absence, and every time I would sigh and respond, “Oh, you’re so lucky, that sounds delightful!” Unemployment generally isn’t something to be jealous of, but the thought of so much free time set off visions of relaxation, travel, and bliss somewhere inside of me. Even as I vocalized my envy, in my head I was aware, “Be careful, McKinnley, or else The Universe will listen, and you do NOT want to lose this amazing job.”
Fast forward a couple of months and a change in management began to drastically affect my workplace. Inexperience, unethical practices, and outright lies plummeted morale, and personally made me both angry and uncomfortable.
At lunch with a friend I talked about the turmoil at work and the emotional toll it was taking. I used her as a sounding board as I considered meeting with the CEO, or confronting the offending management, or taking a stand, or simply putting my head down and hoping it would pass.
Then she asked me, “What do you WANT to do?”
The answer came to my lips immediately, and I swear I could hear a ringing like a crystal bell inside my head. “I want a break,” I replied, surprised with the answer, and with the fierce desire behind it, and with the accompanying tears that flooded my eyes. I didn’t want to hash out nasty “He said She said” confrontations, I didn’t want to suffer in an unhealthy environment, I didn’t want to pour even more time and energy into something that had turned poisonous, no matter how much I had loved it. I had some money saved, summer was just around the corner, I knew I could get another job, and I knew that the absolute best thing for me to do was to take a breather, and then step forward onto an unknown path in the future.
I’m not one for rash decisions, but the ringing clarity of that answer felt so absolutely clear that I went home and drafted my resignation letter that afternoon, then submitted it less than 24 hours later. I never thought I would walk away from that job, and I never thought I could do it so quickly, but somewhere deep inside me I knew with 100% certainty that it was the right thing to do. I can’t remember ever feeling that clear about a decision. It was crystalline. It was magical.
Did it end up being an easy transition? Not in the least. Walking away from that workplace home and family was extremely difficult. Discovering how much of my identity was wrapped up in that company, and the subsequent grasping for a foothold as I created a new path was shocking and disheartening. Watching the place and people I loved so much spiral downwards for a time was heartbreaking.
Was it the right decision? Abso-frickin-lutely. I held onto that moment of clarity with faith and conviction. I thoroughly enjoyed my summer of funemployment more than I ever imagined possible. I trusted that I would weather the shock with strength and come out the other side changed for the better and poised for success.
Now I know that kind of ringing can occur, and that I’m capable of making decisions based on trusting my instinct of what is right for me. That clarity doesn’t occur if you’re not in tune with yourself and The Universe, and so I constantly have to remind myself to stay clear and connected, but the places it can take you are amazing!by McKinnley
February 14, a day we all hate to love… or something. I’ve been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life, so things like “long weekends” generally mean the opposite of what the status quo are getting excited about – they get a weekend that is extended, extra days to relax and binge watch The Walking Dead. Nice. Us poor chumps in the service industry cringe when those civic holidays or special days pop up, because for us they mean loooooooong weekends, extra shifts, and extra long days.
Valentine’s Day. Lucky us, it fell on a Sunday this year, my favourite day of rest – in my dreams! An already busy day in the brunch world, made busier by all you lovebirds wanting to do something “special.” (I think having someone cook me dinner at home is waaaaay more special, but I do spend most of my waking hours in restaurants..)
SO, it’s Sunday, it’s Cupid’s day, we don’t have heart-shaped pancakes or anything but we’ve still got a lineup out the door. Managing a restaurant is a bit like herding cats sometimes – no matter how hard you focus or how great of a cat herder you are, getting all those little furballs moving in the same direction at the same time is damn near impossible. While families and couples gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes over their eggs benny, I spend nine and a half hours madly directing staff, directing customers, washing dishes, running food, clearing tables, blending smoothies, washing more dishes, and organizing paperwork. Good times.
Finally I’m home. I sprawl on the couch with my feet draped over the back, staring into space. My lovely man friend makes me a cup of tea and attempts to get me to play Scrabble with him, or have a conversation, or even just make out…. Eventually he decides that cleaning the storage closet is a more entertaining prospect, so that’s what he does while I continue to stare at the ceiling.
About an hour before bed my arm starts to hurt. It’s kind of numb and slightly uncomfortable, but I figure it won’t kill me and decide to ignore it. Around 1:00 am I wake up. I need to pee, and my arm still hurts – I’m not sure which sensation woke me. I use the bathroom, rub my arm, and fall back to sleep. 3:30 am I wake again, this time I’m certain it’s my arm that woke me, because the numbness has turned into full-fledged pain, radiating from my shoulder all the way to my fingertips.
I’m no longer certain it’s not going to kill me.
I lay awake for the next hour, getting increasingly panicky: “It’s my left arm, my LEFT arm, doesn’t your left arm hurt when you have a heart attack? Isn’t there some statistic about women dying from heart attacks because they don’t acknowledge the symptoms for what they are?? I’ve been pretty stressed lately I guess, am I having a heart attack???”
*pause while I put my hand on my heart and pay attention to it beating for awhile*
“Hmmm, my heartbeat seems to be pretty regular, and this pain has been happening for hours now, I guess that would be an awfully long heart attack. So, I’m pretty sort of sure I’m not having a heart attack. ….. BUT WHAT THE CRAP IS GOING ON??? Stress? Am I that stressed out? Is it some sort of physiological reaction to all the work cray cray I’ve been dealing with? Or maybe I’m out of alignment. That’s it. I haven’t been to the chiropractor in ages, I must’ve done some weird movement and I just wacked out my alignment. Dr. Mike will fix me right up, I’ll call first thing in the morning… Actually it’s extra special Valentine’s AND Family Day long weekend so tomorrow is going to be bonkers at work as well, weeeeeeeeeeee!!”
*not panicking, totally not panicking, I just can’t get comfortable, why can’t I fall back to sleep, WHY DOES MY FREAKING ARM HURT SO FREAKING MUCH?!?!*
Lovely man friend wakes up. I think I’m playing it cool, but he can’t get back to sleep either and asks me if I need to go to the 24 hour clinic. *do I need to go to emergency at 4:30am?! What does this mean???* I dig my fingers into the nerve at the top of my shoulder. The sensation sizzles down my arm, but somehow also relieves the pain just enough for me to stay clear-headed: I obstinately refuse to go to the clinic. I’m still on the fence about whether or not this is going to kill me, and until I’m firmly on the side of “Medical Attention Absolutely And Obviously Required” I’m holding out here at home.
More long, dark, uncomfortable, wide awake minutes pass. I ask Lovely Man to get me an Advil. In my head this is only a fingers breadth away from medical intervention – the scale is teetering towards death. I start to wonder how Lovely Man will react when he wakes in the morning and finds me cold and lifeless beside him. I start to feel bad for him, he didn’t ask for this, nobody should have to wake up beside their lover’s dead body. At least I get to die in my bed, that’s pretty alright.
About half an hour later the Advil kicks in (which is a bloody miracle, those stupid drugs never work for me) and I stop caring about dying as I finally drift back to sleep.
February 15. I’m even less impressed with my alarm than usual. My cat is also cranky – I must’ve kept her awake as well. But hey! I’m alive!!!!
My arm still hurts. I think it’s bearable? It’s only been a few hours since the Advil, guess I’ll wait and see what happens when it wears off. Back to work for the final installment of the February long weekend.
More managing, more directing, a few less cats to herd, but still more plates full of food, and more empty plates to clean… I duck into the dish pit to tackle a stack of dirty plates. I pick up the top one in my left hand, chisel off the eggy smears with the scrub brush, then slot it into the rack on my left. Next plate, same drill, into the rack… hey, my arm still hurts. Another plate. The plates are pretty big, and pretty heavy. Another plate gets hauled out of the sludgy sink by my left hand and I realize that this is actively hurting my arm, all the way up to my shoulder……. OHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
It’s a good thing I didn’t go to the stupid clinic in the middle of the night: “We’re sorry to inform you that you’ve done way too many dishes, and not nearly enough push ups. Go home, put some ice on it, stop being a baby, and do some more push ups.” See, I TOLD you it wasn’t a heart attack.
And for those who are wondering, or pitying, I got not one but TWO bouquets of flowers on Valentine’s Day, so it wouldn’t have been such a bad day to make my exit after all.by McKinnley
A friend called me this morning, “Oh McKinnley, this guy just asked me out in the nicest, funniest, cutest, sweetest way, and I don’t know what to say. All I can think is, ‘I’m just going to ruin this too.’ “
And I understand. It’s difficult being in your mid 30’s, single, with a trail of broken relationships behind you, and a whole whack of messy dating piled on top. You begin to wonder what’s wrong with you. Actually, you began wondering that so long ago you now assume it’s an unsolvable mystery, just like you assume all romantic encounters are (eventually) going to end in heartache and ruin. So you make a vow to stop. Quit dating. At least for awhile. At least until you can pinpoint all your many character flaws and morph them into some new, shiny, perfectly dateable version of yourself.
We often forget, when hindsight is only showing us all the stupid, selfish, scandalous ways we acted in our last relationship, that it takes two to tango. Oh, and NOBODY IS PERFECT.
Do the work. Take time to be introspective, and get really really honest with yourself about your wants, needs, and actions (both past and present). Talk it out, hash it to death, write and write and write. Go to counseling. Read. And then, finally, start doing better. Recognize your triggers. Actively engage. Speak. For the love of all that’s good and holy, SPEAK!!! Speak your truth. Learn how to communicate.
If there is ONE thing you can do for yourself, it’s this: learn how to communicate. This entails learning how to actively listen, as well as learning how to effectively express yourself.
Then go. Do. Be out there in the big, scary, exciting world. Meet people, have conversations, make connections, explore those connections, appreciate the moments and the people for what they are, keep making connections, keep learning, keep exploring, keep growing, keep communicating.
And one day, suddenly, being with someone will just work. It will be easy and fun and great and exciting… But most of all, it will just work.
This doesn’t mean it will be perfect.
So you will have a conversation with yourself that will go a little something like this:
“Is this good enough? Am I good enough? Is the work going to be worth it? I’m pretty sure it’s much easier to be single.”
After some thought you’ll realize, “This IS good enough, in fact it’s not good enough it’s just plain good. And enough. As for me? I’m definitely good enough. The work, well it’s been easy so far, we just keep communicating, and I’m pretty sure we can figure anything and everything out. Sure, being single means I can do what I want when I want – and that’s pretty awesome… BUT, sometimes having a partner is actually much easier, they’re supporting and laughing and helping and picking up the pieces when I’m too tired – and that’s pretty awesome.”
Getting to know yourself, that takes time. Developing relationships, that takes time too. But having fulfilling friendships, productive encounters with coworkers, endearing moments with family, engaging conversations with strangers, and romantic relationships that truly lift you up and enhance your being and your life…? It’s soooooooooo worth it.by McKinnley
Today is different. As much as January 1st is the same as any other day, there’s an inherent new-ness to it, as you can’t help but take at least a moment to reflect on the past 12 months, and ponder the months stretching out ahead.
This morning I ate my breakfast out of a bowl that has the words “If it’s not a ‘HELL YES’ then it’s a No” inscribed around the rim. To me feeling that Hell Yes means listening to my heart, and being both brave enough and honest enough to honour what my heart is telling me.
It’s not always easy. My life is not defined by black and white, everything is a shade of grey, where all answers are debateable, and all choices are valid. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It makes me open-minded, and a great learner, but it also means making decisions is extremely difficult. Plus, my head speaks just as loudly as my heart; logic and emotion are constantly battling it out inside this little 115 lb. frame. It’s complicated.
2014 was massively self-reflective for me. My biggest goals were to be more open to whatever Life decided to throw my way, and to become a better communicator. I learned a lot, I branched out, I spoke my truth, I did some absolutely rotten things (not generally intentional, but still…..), I took a few steps back, then tried to take even more steps forward down paths better suited to my journey. I cried absolutely heart-wrenching tears, and I reveled in the bliss of pure joy.
It was one of the most beautiful years of my life.
And so I step into 2015 with so much gratitude and love, for every experience I’ve fumbled my way through, and every gorgeous soul who’s been part of my journey. I have high expectations for the adventures to come!!by McKinnley
Somebody complained about me at work this week. I get it, they expected impeccable customer service, and they didn’t receive it, that sucks. Being in the customer service industry is tough though, particularly for someone like me, for who being a people person doesn’t come naturally. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE connecting with people, I just find it really difficult to do in a work situation.
Anyway, I got a complaint, it happens, but it’s been eating me up. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, but I’m really really hard on myself. Is everyone? I’m not too sure. I’m pretty comfortable in my skin, and I’m pretty confident, particularly at work where I feel like I’ve hit the sweet spot of both really enjoying what I do, and being really good at it. So why is it so devastating to my self-esteem and my peace of mind when I make a mistake or something goes wrong? Sure, I’m great at my job, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how we learn, it’s how we do better. I take it in stride when my staff make errors, I let them know that it’s ok and I still think they’re awesome, so how come I don’t give myself that same support and understanding?
I’ve been obsessing about what my upper management must think of me. I’ve been feeling absolutely wretched about not doing better, not BEING better. I’ve been replaying the situation over and over in my mind, which frankly hasn’t changed the outcome, or how lousy I feel. I accept responsibility for not acting in an appropriate manner, but I still have to deal with the consequences.
However those consequences don’t have to include me feeling stressed out, or like I’m not a valuable person or employee. It happened, I’ll try to respond better next time, and now I need to let it go. I already know where my weaknesses lie; I get defensive and aggressive when I feel like my back is up against a wall, when people are demanding things of me without discussion. I’m working at trying to ask questions, have a conversation that opens up both sides. In this most recent case, I should have asked them to explain what happened, and then to describe how they thought I could help, and why I should do so. Hindsight, right?
I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m dedicated and I’m a hard worker. I’m a valuable employee.
I have lots and lots of customers who enjoy me and the service I give (they just don’t send emails to my management about it..)
I’m human and make mistakes, but I’m taking those mistakes and growing past them.
I have no reason to feel stressed or depressed or anxious. Upwards and onwards!
I’m living and learning and loving the process. I rock!!!by McKinnley
A few weeks ago I was on a roll: I was going to yoga 3-4 times a week, studying Spanish, drawing, working on a creative project, reading E3, cooking, listening to Tim Ferriss interviews, and generally being hyper-productive. I felt great, and the more I did, the better I felt.
Fast forward to this week… I have NO IDEA what the hell happened, but suddenly you couldn’t drag me to yoga if your life (or mine) depended on it, I wasn’t reading, listening to or learning anything, and I had so many tasks to accomplish for work that I was completely overwhelmed and instead of tackling anything I simply did nothing.
Seriously. For an entire week I did only what I absolutely had to, and then proceeded to avoid anything else even remotely productive. I hate to admit it, but there was more than one night where I sat in my bed watching Gossip Girl on Netflix and consuming entire bags of chips. Not pretty, I know.
Why? You might be wondering, why the sudden – and somewhat dramatic – lifestyle shift? I have no frickin’ clue. Changing weather? Shifting hormones? Minor emotional ordeal thrown in my path? Or maybe my completely irritating subconscious was all, “Woah, what’s with all this ‘Full steam ahead’? Who knows what we’re going to accomplish if we keep this up?! I think it’s best if we just play it safe and tone things down a bit.” My subconscious is kind of an annoying pussy sometimes.
But I didn’t beat myself up this past week. I tried to coax myself into being a somewhat credible human being, and when that just wasn’t happening I gladly, and only slightly guiltily, shrugged it off and just enjoyed the indulgences. Oh yeah, there was also a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked in there somewhere…….
After 36 years of hanging out in this brain and body, I know myself pretty well, and I was fairly confident that the slump wouldn’t last long nor be overly detrimental. I was right, as per usual. Yesterday I took a minor detour from my errands to get my heart rate pumping, today I went for a massage, spent 5 hours tackling a work project that’s been looming over me, hit a great yoga class, and now I feel like a million bucks, totally refreshed, ready to rumble, and wondering what all the mental fuss was about.
Sometimes you really have to go with the flow, be gentle, be cool, and patiently chill out during the flats while you wait for the next set to roll in. Mmmmmm, surf.by McKinnley
If you want to get better at something, you have to do it, often. Some days and some practices are going to be easier than others, but every effort is worthwhile.
For the month of November I’ve decided to post a blog entry every day. I have no idea what I’m going to publicly post about on a daily basis! But I imagine I’ll figure something out, and trust that with practice this will get easier (and I’ll also get better at it!)
Since yesterday I started talking about sending intentional energy out into The Universe, I think I’ll continue on that topic.
I’ve recently learned that The Universe is actually a really good listener. She’s also very literal. And has a hysterical sense of humour. Awhile back I kept saying I just wanted to find a guy that I could communicate with, that was all I wanted. And I met a couple of guys who were excellent communicators, really open and willing to talk about anything and everything. As a bonus I had a fair bit in common with each of them, and enjoyed their company. However, I’m kind of in the market for a romantic relationship, and there just wasn’t much chemistry happening for me, no matter how much I wanted it to be there.
So, I was all, “Hey Universe! I’d like to meet a guy who’s really good looking.” Wham bam! Shortly thereafter I met a guy at a concert, a really REALLY good looking guy. Who was really into me. However, he’s ten years my junior, and we have absolutely nothing in common. Good one, Universe, good one.
Last weekend I was in Vancouver for my birthday (and it was glorious!!). On Friday afternoon I was enjoying a long walk while I waited for my friend to finish work, and as I walked I was pondering these scenarios, and decided to have a very specific chat with The Universe. “Hey Universe, I appreciate that you’ve been listening to my desires, you’ve given me exactly what I’ve asked for, so I’m going to ask again: I’d really like to meet a guy who’s a stellar communicator, who I’m wildly attracted to, who I have a lot in common with, and who feels the same about me. Cool?”
I kid you not, less than 5 minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see a tall, dark, handsome and well-dressed stranger smiling at me. I almost laughed out loud. “I like your pants,” he compliments me. We chat. He says he knows the best gelato place in the city and asks if I’d like to go get some. Some company and a delicious treat while I walk is exactly what I’d like. I order the Texas Pecan with Vanilla and Sour Cherry, it’s as good as he said it would be. We walk by the ocean. He’s funny and we converse easily. When we near my destination he tells me to get in touch when/if I return to Van, and we part ways.
Guess I should’ve mentioned that I’d like a guy who lives in the same city as me.
As much as I have no desire to chronicle my dating debacles here, I loved the responsiveness of The Universe in this area of my life. It’s helped me to focus in on what I REALLY want, both in a partner, and many other things. It’s also shown me with blinding clarity just how potent my thoughts can be, and how easily I can direct my energy. Now to keep practicing!! I’m fascinated to see what The Universe will help me to create in my life next.by McKinnley
So there I was, 28 years old, leaving my boyfriend, my job, my hopes of being an actor, to drive across the country in my ’88 Nissan Stanza packed with all my worldly belongings, to a city I swore I’d never live in again, to share a 2 bedroom apartment with my (very generous) sister, go back to school, find a new job and, for all intents and purposes, start a new life.
Totally overwhelming, but for some weird reason I felt light. Hopeful. And I remember giving myself a very clear mental talking to: “McKinnley, if you’re going to be 28 and single and living in a new city and starting over again, you need to say yes. To jobs, to opportunities, to dates, to friends… Just say Yes.”
And so I did. I said yes to my first office job. I said yes to activities. I said yes to baby showers. I said yes to parties and hang outs and concerts and movies. I said yes to dates. I told myself I would go on a date with anyone who was nice, brave enough to ask, and who wasn’t totally creepy. I even said yes when it was -30C and it meant leaving my warm house, scraping ice off my windshield, bundling up in a zillion layers, and driving 25 minutes while scraping ice off the inside of my windshield! (The Stanz wasn’t the most comfortable of vehicles by that point in her life)… and then repeating the process later to return home.
Ok, so saying Yes may seem like the opposite of being proactive, but it’s really just another side of it. I realized that being near my sisters, going to school, being a new face in certain places and getting a new job would all inherently bring new people and situations into my life, I just needed to be both brave enough and open enough to say yes. To everything. Sure, someone else was doing the asking, but saying yes definitely required me to DO, because I had to follow up on whatever I’d agreed to! It would have been a heck of a lot easier and more comfortable to say No sometimes, but that wasn’t in the game plan.
Because I was saying yes so often, it wasn’t long before I started becoming a lot more confident in being the one to initiate.
Much to my surprise, I began hosting Sunday night dinner parties. It was surprising because it required me to make plans, invite people, make sure everyone got along and enjoyed themselves, and also cook! None of those were skills that I was inherently blessed with, in fact every single one of those tasks were things that at one point would have given me serious anxiety.
But my secret weapon was a really good friend I’d made. It turned out that she and I made a great team, which helped both of us meet a lot more people and do more cool things than either of us likely would have done on our own. She had a beautiful loft apartment that I never wanted to leave, so it only made sense to try and find excuses to spend more time in it – it was perfect for dinner parties. Plus I was meeting so many people from different areas, but I wanted to start hanging out with more than one person at a time – hello, dinner parties! And because I was inviting people that I truly enjoyed, it only made sense that they would also enjoy each other, so it became less about worlds colliding and more of a merger. Add to that the fact that my friend was a brilliant host, which left me free to scrape together the food and just enjoy myself, while she focused on the guests and their comfort. Her being there to smooth things over definitely made me feel a lot more comfortable and confident in having those Sunday dinners.
If you’ve never hosted a dinner party, it’s an adventure I suggest you try. There’s something about being in someone’s house, eating food they’ve prepared for you with their own hands, and sitting around their table with no distractions that really brings a quicker and stronger sense of connection.
So if you’re one for taking notes, Friend-Making Lessons Number 3 and 4 are as follows:
SAY YES!!! (Duh)
And Find Someone To Tag Team With. Maybe it’s someone you’ve known forever or perhaps it’s someone you’ve just been introduced to, but they’ve got a skill you’re a little bit jealous of. Utilize them and their skills, and pretty soon you’ll both have double the fun and double the friends!