Need space?

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Regardless of annual income, or lack thereof, the only real estate that we all have guaranteed to us is our own personal space.  I’m not talking the walls that house and shelter you, I’m talking about the intangible energies that embody who we are and how we conduct ourselves.  We are constantly maintaining, creating, and promoting the space around us.  Think about the last time you said, “I just need some space.”  What is it that you were craving at that time?  My guess would be you were looking for a sense of peace, calm, or perhaps clarity that seemed unattainable at that moment.

A combination of our thoughts, perceptions, and ongoing behaviors create the space that we call our own and each of those things perpetuate either positive or negative energy around us.  What I continue to learn most is that if I am in a place of fear, uncertainty, insecurity, and separation…I tend to react with tension and even anger to people around me.  However, when I’m relaxed, feeling connected to the world around me, and open; I am more likely to experience patience, tolerance, and warmth to those very same people and circumstances.  Notice, I said, “more likely”.  It’s not as if we become immune to all those things, but perhaps we become more adaptable.

All sorts of things can negatively impact the equilibrium we experience within our personal space and at the end of the day it is up to us to decide if there is going to be a small ripple of a current or an all-out smashing wave of discontent that smacks us in the face. It may be the ongoing responsibilities that seem to pile up during the work day.  But it can also be the uncomfortable feeling when you are not feeling yourself and someone close to you asks what’s wrong and you simply don’t know how to put your feelings into words.  Often though, it’s that sense that the world is crashing down, things are changing too fast, and nothing feels certain.

Whatever the case, we can arm ourselves with tools that help us create, maintain, and promote the best possible space around us that is full of love and hope.  I’m not suggesting we put our heads in the sand and pretend that bad things don’t happen or that some days are not going to be harder than others.  However, if we become intentional about our personal space and diligently assess our interactions, we will begin to realize whether our perceptions, thoughts, and actions are being impacted by fear and uncertainty.  And ultimately through increased awareness, we can determine if the space we need is a complex layers of a process which identifies our true need…which is love.

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Summer vacation

va-ca-tion: Noun.  1: a respite or a time of respite from something: intermission. 2 a:  scheduled period during which activity (as of court or school) is suspended b:  a period of exemption from work granted to an employee 3: a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation (Webster’s Dictionary).

I will never forget  a conversation with a boss about vacations.  I was experiencing a particularly stressful time at work with some of the most mentally taxing cases that I had encountered and the idea of ‘burn-out’ seemed like a step up from where I was in that moment.  Feeling full of despair, I remarked that I desperately needed a vacation.  His response was “You have to realize that vacation will not solve your problems of how you are feeling.  Escaping only provides temporary relief.  The real issue is for you to find a way to achieve peace and inner calm without having to physically leave and go somewhere.”  Granted, I know he had positive intent when he provided me that insight but all I heard was “blah, blah, blah, buck up and keep going.”  Needless to say, I didn’t receive the wisdom very well and rationalized his advice as ‘fluff’ that can only come from people who get 6 weeks of vacation a year.  Therefore, I rejected his advice and the equally insightful guidance that followed and proceeded to wallow in self-pity instead of figuring out how to navigate the enormity of my emotional and physical state of exhaustion.

Eventually, I managed to explore some options and restore my spirit, and now I can truly appreciate what he was getting at with his statements.  Here’s the deal.  We have a right to enjoy vacations, but it can’t be the answer to life’s complex and exhausting challenges.  It can provide us with relaxation, adventure, and a pause of our daily chores, but if we look at it with great expectations of erasing stress and wiping our memories of pain, heartache, and turmoil; we will only set ourselves up for deeper disappointment when we return to the reality of our everyday lives.

There is something magical that can happen on a vacation; we tend to notice nature more, not be in such a hurry, be more open to love and hope, and generally allow ourselves to take good care.  And the most amazing phenomenon that happens (sometimes), is that we realize everything we need is within us no matter where we go.

Vacations can help us reconnect with our spirits but we don’t have to travel a great distance to achieve an inner state of calm. I mean, it’s not like we become different people on vacation.  We are always there.  We convince ourselves into thinking that vacation helps us be calmer, happier, and more content. But let’s get real, we don’t turn into ideal human beings just because we don’t have to worry about laundry for a few days or sit in bumper to bumper traffic.  The core of who we are is always present, unfortunately we are just too dang busy to notice while we are working all day, managing our personal life, and keeping up with endless tasks that create our ‘daily grind’.

I wish we all were guaranteed weeks of vacation every year to the destination of our choice, but the reality is that most of us simply don’t have that type of luxury. However, nobody says we can’t take a mini-vacation of our own without ever having to pack a bag.  Here are some ideas that can give us an ‘intermission’ from the daily grind and encourage us to take in some of the awesome things that surround us each day.

  1. Lose yourself in a good book for a couple of hours
  2. Take a class in something you have always wanted to try
  3. Visit a museum
  4. Explore a park or take a walk outside
  5. Drive a totally different way to work one day or drive in silence for a while
  6. Prepare a dinner that you have never eaten before (or go to a brand new restaurant)
  7. Get up and watch the sun rise tomorrow (or watch the sun set tonight)
  8. Lay out and watch the stars for an hour ( I hear there will be awesome meteor showers in mid August!   http://stardate.org/nightsky/meteors )
  9. Give yourself permission to do absolutely no household chores for a few days
  10. Go to bed early or sleep in late

Yes, summer vacation can be a magical time, but so can today.  We just have to decide if we want to use our senses to take in the beauty and awe that exists in abundance everywhere or simply ‘save’ it for those elusive vacation days.

My suggestion is to embrace today.  Listen to your spirit.  Hear what it needs and explore your options to appease it.  Then, just maybe, the idea of vacation (in any season) will take on a whole new meaning. 🙂

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Learning how to practice patience…

Patience

Patience

Practice patience.  That’s the inspiration card that hangs above my computer at work.  I stuck it there because I need that kind of ‘in your face’ reminder every day.  I often feel like I’m running around, trying to beat a clock somewhere only to find my patience dwindle and be replaced by an excessive supply of worry or stress.  It happens in the grocery line, it happens when I am driving home, when I’m waiting for someone, and most of all it happens within myself.  It’s that internal chatter, telling me to ‘hurry up’ and ‘do this faster’ or ‘I can’t believe how long this is taking.’

The reality is that I’m not even sure what it means to practice patience. How do you practice something you don’t even feel like you have most of the time?  I meet people who make patience look effortless.  I’m sure you know some of these folks too.  They are the people who smile at the ‘slow-talker’ who is taking forever to tell a story.  They are the ones who drive without a hint of frustration behind the guy who has changed lanes 3 times without a blinker and cut them off at least once.  They respond to a hurried apology with “Don’t worry, take your time.”  And they tell you they had to wait at the doctor’s office for over an hour without even flinching.  Who are these people and what drugs do they take to make them so damn calm and patient?

My old perception would be that these people just don’t care and have no ambition.  I would see their lack of concern as aloof and unengaged.  My newer outlook realizes that these individuals are more present than I could even comprehend.  They are totally in the moment and able to appreciate exactly what is happening versus worry about what may happen 30 minutes from now.  They have figured out how to practice patience and make it work for them. I realize that when I’m around one of these more evolved persons of patience I tend to relax more and feel more calm.  I don’t always understand it, but I can’t help but soak up their sense of peace and wonder if I will ever feel that easy about deadlines, long lines, traffic, and all the other nuances.

As I figure out this whole concept, I found a quick way to measure my patience. I just have to stop and ask myself if I am being completely present in this moment.  If I’m worrying about how long this is taking or when I’m going to be done or how fast the line is moving….I’m not able to take in what is happening right now and what it is that I’m feeling and even more, what’s really triggering that feeling and creating this sense of urgency.   Instead, I’m 3 steps ahead and robbing myself of a moment of reflection and insight.  Granted, I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about being present in the grocery line as the lady in front of me piles up her 30 items in the clearly marked “express lane” but I’m starting to lean in to this idea that if I’m there, I should be present. I’m going to try this out for a while and see what happens.  Lucky me, I have plenty of opportunities to practice!