I fall prey to this one, and I don’t always catch it. I hear it from my clients – it slips out in moments of frustration and overwhelm. I see it at play in our overworked, oversaturated and under-resourced world.
I should be giving 100% to my work.
100% to my family.
100% to my community.
100% to my spiritual life.
Y’all – we don’t have that many 100 percents. I’m no mathematician but I know some great ones, and I’m pretty sure if I asked them, they’d agree.
Would you really want that anyway? Flip the tables and think about your favorite colleague or team member. Would you want them to give 100% – completely flame out in the moment and be reduced to a pile of ashes at your feet?
No. You’d want them to save something for themselves. You’d want to make sure they could show up as their full and capable selves – tomorrow, next week, three years from next week.
I invite you to think about what it would mean to not give 100% away. If you want to use this yardstick, then think of your whole life as 100%. First – how much are you carving out for you. It’s your life after all, and if you aren’t honoring it, then you can’t show up for the rest of it fully. The rest of your life needs to fit into what’s left over of 100%, after self-care (whether that means a day at the spa or #boringselfcare like dirty dishes in the sink while you get some extra sleep).
No one part of your life should get 100%. That’s not how balance works.
A little slow to post – but such a great conversation and group at AFP ICON. As one participant told me later,
“It’s so great to know that you are not alone but to also feel inspired by something that seems so hard.”
I’m excited to launch my first coaching & professional development ‘experience’ – focused on owning and claiming our space as Working Mamas. It’s not an easy path. Come celebrate all that you’ve learned, all the ways you’ve grown, and discover more about this very special superpower!
It was an adventure – my daughter’s first “passport trip” as she put it. There was so much for her to experience for the first time – customs/forms/questions, new currency, a language she only knew by a few phrases, foods, art, history.
And it was exhausting. Being a mama is exhausting. Traveling in a foreign place without other adults and a dependent (albeit fantastic) human is exhausting.
And yet – I kept adding on to the agenda. I kept asking what else we should do, kept scouring the map. Without acknowledging it, I was operating out of scarcity. Were we doing enough?? It was my daughter who reminded me to pause. To breathe. To absorb what we’d just done before we ran to the next thing.
“Mama, I think it’s time to go back to the hotel and just rest for a little while.”
A wise lesson in boundaries and presence from my 10 year old. When we got home, I asked about her favorite part of the trip. I expected it to be specific, a thing – the food tour, the churros, Frida Kahlo’s house, the Dia de los Muertos art installation in the Zocolo.
“My favorite part was when we were just wandering around and exploring; just being together.”
What do you want to be present for, just today? Not what are you waiting to see or do. Not what are you waiting to happen.
- What (or who) can you be present for today? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s what feeds you.
- How can you pause, before you run to the next thing?
Maybe less is not less.
It was one of those days. Those days when you suddenly realize you are giving so much – and not getting replenished. You’re so tired but also kind of angry. Why do people just take? Don’t they see me at all?
So, I went for a run. The trail was about as crowded as usual and I was lost in thought. About halfway, just before a big hill, a guy on a bike slowed down and held out his water bottle – offering me a drink.
All of a sudden, I had tears in my eyes. I was so touched by the gesture, even though I wasn’t dehydrated. I didn’t need water.
There is a sweetness in the offer of a gift, even if it isn’t something we need. Random-Generous-Guy-With-A-Water-Bottle taught me a two-part lesson:
- Freely offered gifts connect us. He offered what he had. It wasn’t what I needed, but it was still meaningful. When we offer what we have, especially to those that we care about, the gesture is sometimes more important than the thing itself.
- But these gifts don’t have to sustain you. You can honor the gift and still say ‘no thank you’, moving on to find the sustenance that you do need. Take the goodness that comes with what is offered, enjoy that effort and the spirit with which it’s given, have compassion – and then do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Trust yourself to know what you need.
If there is one thing we can say about the times we are in – they are dang stressful. Learning to balance action and self care is critical to well-being. Your actions matter, even if they seem small – the donation to a hard working nonprofit, your volunteer hours, the call to your senator, the difficult conversation with someone whose beliefs you want to understand, even just trying to keep up with the news. Keep doing those things, until it’s time to say, ‘no thank you’ and just keep running.
Whether you have a formal spiritual practice or not, most of us are seeking. We want to move forward in our lives in a way that is joyful. That means different things to different people, and at least for me, the very idea itself is constantly changing and evolving.
So often the advice out there feels rhetorical, loopy, or woo-woo, at best. So I’m always on the lookout for practical advice on what it means to seek and to grow. Gabrielle Bernstein was recently at guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcast, and she gave the following three steps.
Side note: she says these are “simple” but I’m not totally sure that’s true. If this stuff was “simple”, we’d be done and over it already, right? So, in the spirit of embracing our complicated and not-so-simple lives, these steps are worth considering.
Gabrielle Bernstein’s (Paraphrased) Steps to Enlighten Your Life Today
- Be willing and open. Admit that you need to learn and grow in a particular area or way. Then, be open to new ways of seeing or approaching that part of your life.
- Pay serious attention to the teachers, the guides and assignments. If you are open, learning opportunities will come to you. Be on the lookout. Take the work of learning from the world seriously.“We can be willing, but then go right back” to the distractions (ie our phones), bad habits, or destructive patterns.
- Show up for the assignments. This one is my favorite. Do the work – and pay attention. You don’t have to feel like you have the answers, but you do have to show up, listen, and take the assignments to heart.
Here’s a link to the full podcast (Nov 7, 2017), which also includes Marie Forleo (I dig her too) – enjoy!
**If you are ready to consider your next steps, face some of your blocks, and vision your future – let’s do it together! Contact me for in-person, phone or virtual coaching today. firstname.lastname@example.org
I love Dia de los Muertos,
even more than I love Halloween. Halloween is spooky and silly and all about a new perspective on the familiar. There’s a special place in my heart for haunted houses, babies dressed as pumpkins, ghosts and goblins, and to the disgust of some, I even love candy corn.
But Dia de los Muertos heals me. Growing up in South Texas, across the dirt road from a cemetery, I was vaguely aware of the holiday. There were sugar skulls and pan de muerto at the local bakery, marigold petals seemingly everywhere, and vigils, music and candles carried on late into the night. And truthfully, I never thought much about it.
Even though I lost five family members over a short amount of time, it wasn’t just death that brought me closer to the meaning of Dia de los Muertos. The void was painful. But my family’s misery was more painful, watching those who were left disintegrate within their grief, unable to move past the death and loss.
We had no language for anything but sadness. There was nothing to help us move beyond being stuck in pain.
Then a friend invited me to his neighbor’s Dia de los Muertos celebration. The husband died a few years before and the whole neighborhood gathered to celebrate his life. I didn’t know him, but I felt like I did – people shared stories and laughed while the candles flickered. Instead of crying, we ate tacos, drank Coke in the bottle, and danced to his favorite songs. The alter in the living room was gorgeous and colorful and lively. I didn’t know him but his spirit and his life still touched me. Suddenly, I could see death as a part of life, and my heart began to warm.
From then on, whenever we crossed the Texas-Mexico border to shop – we used to do that easily, back in the day – I’d be on the lookout for my next little figurine, a colorful little play on death and life. Only a few of those bits of art have survived the many moves of my adult years. I bought a new one a few years ago when my little dachshund died – a dog skeleton wearing a glittery hat. Gus would definitely approve.
I honor and celebrate the day in my own way because it lets me claim what I love about those I lost –honoring their lives and their impact on me. I miss them still, but I keep them alive by sharing their stories, putting up their pictures, seeing them in me. Dia de los Muertos has taught me to see community in death. It has also given me a sense of humor about it – which is certainly something that my uncle, Papa Roy, would endorse. It is not something I learned from my family, but it is something I hope to teach my daughter.
Living in a multicultural society means we can learn from each other’s traditions, perspectives, and values. It also means we must honor those traditions that are not our own. The ‘how’ can feel sticky, especially as those traditions evolve and change. I believe it’s important to know what we are in danger of appropriating, to make the effort necessary to give context and respect. We can be inspired, changed and enriched by others – we should be – but it’s also our responsibility to do so without erasing the histories leading to this moment.
Dia de los Muertos may be new to you. If it is, by all means – buy the sugar skulls and the skeleton auto mechanic figurine that somehow looks a little like your Uncle Mike. Then take a minute to learn more about the holiday and its origins. I promise you – it will only make your experience richer.
Here’s some great places to start (or refresh!): http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/elviadiaz/2017/10/31/day-of-the-dead-dia-de-los-muertos-lesson-grandmother/815742001/
Oct 19, Texas CASA Institute, Galveston, Texas “Creating a Map: Engaging your Board In Fundraising”
Oct 20, Texas CASA Conference, Galveston, Texas “Beyond Tomorrow: Sustainable Leadership”
Oct 25, DivInc: A Pre-Accelerator Focused on Championing Diversity in the Tech Startup Ecosystem, Austin, “Fundraising with Sally Blue”