Reading Between the Likes

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When I started maternity leave, I removed the Facebook app from my phone. I thought that more free time, combined with the allures of Facebook, would mean I spent endless hours of meandering the interwebs without a purpose. Instead of supporting my aspiration of being intentional, I would fritter away my time with nothing to show for it.

A month later, after being a relative shut-in for many long breastfeeding days and nights, I realized that I missed my connection with people. However faint, impersonal, or manufactured, there’s nonetheless a closeness that Facebook fosters. Even if I’m one of three-hundred people liking your birth announcement, I am still celebrating the birth of your first child. Even if we haven’t spoken for twenty years, I still like the Atlantic article you posted and appreciate knowing how you’re thinking about things. I found that by cutting out Facebook, I cut out a useful connection to the people in my life. And so, for my benefit during both the 2AM breastfeeding sessions and the afternoon naps breaks, I reinstalled Facebook.

This was back in September, when we also found ourselves in the run-up to the presidential election. In addition to providing a form of connection, Facebook became a core news source. Versus other presidential elections, I was more engaged. Like many other Americans, I may have existed in a bit of an echo chamber, hearing only the news posted by like-minded friends. That said, I did make myself keep clicking on the hyper-conservative articles from a handful of friends. Things got tough, but I tried to keep my eyes open.

And what now? In our post-election world, not just politics, but everything seems be falling apart. It’s not just the most recent articles on Trump tweets, Cabinet appointments, and international threats. Now, I can barely open Facebook without observing even more heartbreaking new: searing images of children under siege in Aleppo, exposes on puppy mills, or graphic videos of crocodiles slaughtered for fashion. It’s not the fake news out there that I’m referring to; it’s the painfully real reports of life in our world.

My instinct is to recoil. There are many reasons why I have wanted to quit Facebook, including my pre-maternity inklings: there are better uses of time! I should prioritize in-person connections! I want to live intentionally! But this seems like a better reason than them all to shut down Facebook: it is just too painful.

In the midst of this Facebook crisis, I am reminded of some very wise advice: it is the things that we cannot be that drive us. When you are not able to be with some aspect of life, you spend your time avoiding it. And, what’s more, when others need your help, you are unable to ‘be with’ that thing on their behalf. Get sick at the sight of blood? You are unlikely to become a doctor and heal others. Hate to read about Trump? You probably won’t intervene on behalf of democracy. Recoil at the sight of evil? You are unlikely to help to bring more light. I find myself increasingly recoiling from the hate and the pain in the world. But if I do not bear witness, who will? If I cannot look on Facebook, how much less likely am I to look — and help — in real life?

Simply bearing witness on Facebook — via reads, likes, or comments — is not sufficient action. But, on another level, my empathy expands with each disruption. It makes me more human to face the evil, to grapple with its reality, and to figure out my place in relation to it. So I am trying to look straight into the pain. I am trying to feel every bit of it. As a result, I am overwhelmingly saddened and often completely frightened. But with some perseverance, I will grow bigger, braver, and better able to fight.

Meredith

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Mall Madness

one-dollarOver the holidays, I joined the extended family in a trip to the Jordan Creek Mall outside of Des Moines.  The excursion was primarily designed to let the kids let off some steam, to eat some famous local burgers, and to stretch our legs.  What I didn’t expect were many bigger reflections on consumerism.

A bit of background:  My mall-going days were concentrated in my youth and, to this day, retain a haze of teenage uncertainty and discomfort.  Pop culture told me that as teenage girl, I was supposed to count ‘shopping’ as a past time.  Shop ‘Til You Drop was a beloved after-school game show for my brother and me.  The Mall Madness board game was a particular favorite amongst my peers.  And for the entire decade of the 1990s, the mall was simply the cool place to hang out.  For me, however, anytime I went to the mall (or shopping more broadly), I felt like I was self-consciously playing a role.  Wasn’t I having fun buying earrings at Claire’s?  Didn’t I love trying on clothes all day and finding the perfect thing?  Wasn’t it great to arrive without any particular plan, but to treat yourself to something you didn’t know you wanted?  I know that many people enjoy shopping, but it was never fun for me – and it took me until my twenties to figure that out.

last-chanceAs I’ve grown up, I’ve designed a very different relationship with shopping.  Versus the in-person shopping of my youth, Liz and I live an Amazon-enabled life.  We assess and agree upon our need before buying each item.  We research the best item in each category, whether through a quick spot-check of Amazon reviews or more extensive online diligence.  And, we are quick to return items that don’t satisfy our needs, packing them up and shipping them back.  In short, there’s no such thing as an impulse purchase; it’s all overarchingly intentional.

The result of our narrow online shopping habits is that we exposed to the breadth of American consumerism.  My visit to the mall this holiday season took me out of my Amazon bubble and brought the broader landscape back into focus.  A few observations from my mall wanderings:

First, I was struck by the sheer volume of items for sale: iPhone cases, laser-cut cat images, Christmas ornaments, clothes, clothes, clothes!  So many things!  Who would buy all these things?  Where did they come from?  Who made them?  And where would they all go after they were used and loved?  The volume of merchandise for sale made me think about their lives before these shelves – the raw materials, the producers, their working conditions – and their existence after these shelves – the joy or utility these items might bring, the landfills and recycling centers where they might end up.  Receiving my single, intentionally-purchased item in a box on my doorstep focuses me on this sole item and my use alone; walking through the mall reminded me of the broader life cycle of this vast array of goods.

almost-everythingFurther, in the intra-holiday period, I was struck by the dominance of the deal.  Nearly every store had a sale:  65% off!  Buy one, get one!  Everything $1!  I could viscerally feel their allure; I too wanted to stock up on $3 Bath and Body Works soaps and $1 turtlenecks.  Thus, while I typically buy things with intention, my mall trip reminded me of how frequently we buy things by impulse.  It’s crazy how even when we’re trying hard to be thoughtful, it’s difficult to say no to an experience designed to maximize spending, regardless of need.

To be clear, living in the online shopping bubble does not make me immune from the negative sides of consumerism.  For every pair of jeans I buy online, there’s still an immense amount of textile waste generated.  And I’m certainly guilty of generating a pile of cardboard boxes nearly every week.  But my mall trip prompt me to reflect on the aspects of consumerism often hidden to us online shoppers – and to recommit to how I want to buy items:  In the face of all these things to buy, I want to purchase only quality items with responsible sourcing and a long usable life.  In the face of impulse buys, I want to be even more thoughtful about purchasing only the vital few items we need.

It’s good to look around once in a while.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year,
Meredith

Related media
Here’s a bonus clip re: the mall for all the “How I Met Your Mother Fans” out there.  It’s a fairly accurate representation of mall-going in the 90s.  Who doesn’t love Robin Sparkles?

And the trailer for a documentary entitled ‘Minimalism’ that channels how I’m thinking about consumerism.  Thanks to Alyson Madrigan for the tip.

entire-store

What’s Behind Your Beliefs?

I recently re-read Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset.  She argues that one orientation – an individual’s relationship to growth – underlies nearly all aspects of life.  If someone adopts a growth mindset, he believes his abilities (and those of others) can develop through dedication and hard work.  If someone adopts a fixed mindset, he believes his abilities are unchangeable; one is born with abilities, and those determine his success.  Dweck’s argument states that nearly all metrics for success – everything from productivity to quality of relationships – are positively correlated with a growth mindset.

Happily, this work brought mindsets into the public consciousness in a bigger way.  However, Dweck’s focus on the growth/fixed mindset alone limits what mindsets can help us see.  Ultimately, there are a handful of foundational mindsets that drive our orientation to the world.  It may be surprising, but all our many differences in religion, politics, and philosophy are built upon only a handful of foundational beliefs.

What are mindsets?
You can think of mindsets as the mega-beliefs underlying human existence.  People have many small beliefs that like “putting the forks handle-side-up in the dishwasher is good” or “Boy Scouts have a strong moral compass.”  But the mindsets I’m talking about are bigger than those.  They are fundamental orientations to the world upon which many of our functional, everyday beliefs are built.  These mindsets are the topics of heated philosophical debates, the common understandings of political parties, and the cornerstones of many of the world’s religions.

What are the foundational mindsets?
I see thirteen foundational mindsets, split into two categories:  mindsets about ‘how the world works’ and mindsets about ‘how you engage’ with that world.  This list is not exhaustive, but they tend to be the most salient mindsets in our experience.  For each of the thirteen dimensions there are two opposing beliefs that sit on either end of a spectrum.

foundational mindsets

As these dimensions are fundamental, all sorts of beliefs build off them.  For example, your mindset around availability (e.g., your sense of whether the world is lacking or abundant) can inform your sense of self-worth (e.g., feeling like you are enough or not), your financial decisions (e.g., saving more or spending more), and your opinions on tax policy (e.g., redistributing income versus not).  Each mindset impacts your relationship with self, your relationship with others, and your relationship with the world.

How do I understand (and maybe even shift) my own mindsets?
Read through the foundational mindsets above a second time and assess yourself. Ask:

  • For each pair, under which mindset do I most commonly operate?
  • Was this a conscious choice, or did I adopt it without consideration?
  • Where did this mindset come from?  Are there patterns of mindsets that come from my family, my religion, my culture, or my country?  What in my experience leads me to operate under this mindset?
  • What actions do I take based on these foundational mindsets?

[Note:  Our mindsets are often so ingrained that we see them as universals.  For the purposes of this exercise, it may be useful to adopt a relative orientation around the dimensions, allowing yourself to at least consider the possibility of the opposite mindset.]

After assessing the way that foundational beliefs show up in your life, it’s most interesting to ask the question: What is the most productive mindset for me to hold?  Dweck argues throughout her book that we can choose our mindset, suggesting that people can develop the capacity to choose a growth mindset, even if their habits and conditioning.incline them to hear the “fixed mindset voice.”  You are similarly able to choose your mindset along any of these dimensions.  In short, you can intentionally build the set of foundational mindsets that best enable you to live the life to which you aspire.  

Please post your thoughts and comments – as well as other mindsets you see.  I’d love to hear what you learned in going through this exercise yourself.

Best,
Meredith
(Primarily operating in a world where truth is relative, people are good, life is magical, things happen for a reason and usually work out, some people are better than others, and there is plenty to go around.  In this world, I know that I can grow and change, choose my path, generally be in control, and let things come easily.  I seek the best, even if I suspect that some things won’t work.)


Wheels Turned When We Announced

As we announced our pregnancy, we knew that a certain question would be on the minds of many. In fact, when we had the opportunity to announce to one person face-to-face, we could see a both the huge smile and the wheels furiously turning. The thought bubble above his head read: “Yay! But how did you do it? And am I even allowed to ask?”

I’ll start by saying that we had a wonderful conception process. So many of the medical professionals and administrators we worked with were incredibly understanding and supportive. (We are ready to make our fertility doctor an official member of our family.)

For those who hadn’t thought about how two women go about making a baby, we faced more of a lack of awareness versus any willful ignorance or opposition. Many people simply never thought about how same-sex-partnered women make families. We understand the curiosity and are happy to share parts of the story. Needless to say, a lot of intention went into the conception process (shocking, says Liz).

So, for those of you who have thought about it a lot and for those of you for whom this is completely new: Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of LGBTQ conception!

Putting yourself in our shoes, you can probably intuit our starting point:  lots of eggs, multiple wombs, and no sperm. What might come less intuitively, however, are the many options we found for going about this and the important choices along the way.

For heterosexual couples, the approach to conception can be fairly linear. Most couples first attempt to conceive naturally. If those attempts are unsuccessful, the immediate next step is typically intrauterine insemination (IUI), more typically known as artificial insemination. If this is unsuccessful, then in vitro fertilization (IVF) is in order. As with all things fertility-related, none of this is easy. It can be complex, emotional, iterative, and deeply frustrating; everyone has their own experience and their own story.  In most cases, however, the genetic material involved in each scenario is the same, and there’s an assumption that patients step through the process directionally, attempting one intervention before escalating to the next, more invasive option.

The approach for same-sex partnered women can be completely different. There is a not a linear escalation through increasingly invasive options. Instead, there are discrete choices which represent different processes and, in some cases, different combinations of genetic material. Think of it as four potential options:

  • At-home insemination: Insemination without the advice or support of a doctor.  Includes birth mother’s egg and donor sperm.  This is probably the closest you can get to unaided heterosexual conception.
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI): A medical provider injects sperm directly into the uterus with a syringe. Includes birth mother’s egg and donor sperm.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Combining of sperm with birth mother’s egg in a Petri dish. The resulting embryos are either transferred into the uterus or cryopreserved for future use. Includes birth mother’s egg and donor sperm.
  • Reciprocal IVF (sometimes called “Shared Maternity” or “Co-Maternity”): Retrieve the eggs from one partner, inseminate those eggs with donor sperm, and then place the resulting embryo into the birther mother. Includes one partner’s egg, donor sperm, and the birth mother’s womb.

[Note that there other fertility interventions beyond these – surrogacy, known donor, etc.; I describe this all as a patient and not as a medical professional, speaking from our personal experience rather than any professional knowledge.]

Unlike heterosexual conception, the order of these options is not in ascending level of intervention. Instead, each represents a different level of Liz’s and my involvement, and that’s the factor we cared about most in determining the right approach for us.

Liz and I chose to do reciprocal IVF, meaning that I am carrying Liz’s egg. We love that everyone is involved in a biological way and that the child will have a unique connection to both of us. While it’s certainly not right for everyone, it’s right for us.

That’s your brief introduction. Now you know ‘how we did that.’ To those who wondered what they could ask in person; as with any pregnancy, the answer is ‘not much.’ The decision and process is different for every couple and while Liz gave me the thumbs-up to write this blog, you aren’t going to see detailed information about the retrieval or transfer. So, when faced with the next LGBTQ pregnancy, I’d suggest doing what so many of our lovely friends and family did and waiting for the soon-to-be parents to share any details on their terms.

Moving forward from here, the next frontier of LGBTQ conception is expanding this dialogue with the broader set of stakeholders – particularly with those who determine what health benefits are supported and for whom (Liz and I aren’t infertile, but that is how the conversations had to start) and how parental leave is described (Daddy-to-Be isn’t exactly a good fit for Liz). But that’s a broader social justice issue for another day. In the interim, we’re just delighted to have this healthy little monkey (parts of both Liz and I) on the way!

With love,
Meredith, over halfway through pregnancy (!)

Bringing the Outside-In

While we’re all individual humans, we organize ourselves into collectives. Whether we’re talking about private business, public government, community organization, or family, we do our best work and form our society only when we are together. Observing this dialogue between the individual and the collective, I have noticed two fundamental ways of orienting to the interaction: from the outside-in and from the inside-out.

Organizationally, we are inclined to look outside-in. We start with the organization, thinking about strategy and culture, structure and operations. We focus on collective goals and what the team or individual needs to do to support them. In this view, the individual is an agent of the collective. From the outside-in, we see the individual (sometimes interchangeably) as one piece of the puzzle.

As individuals, however, we live our lives inside-out. We ask ourselves: What do I want? Where am I going? How do I fit into this world?  We may be supportive of collective goals and empathetic to others, but our primary lens remains the self.

The challenge is this: As leaders of organizations, we may pride ourselves for thinking about the ‘people dimension’ of our endeavor. We ask: What will they think of this new direction? How should they act to support this change? But even while focusing on the individual, we nearly always retain an outside-in perspective. We look for individuals to enact a set of behaviors, to embody a culture, or to invest their discretionary energy in a collective effort, regardless of who they are or what they care about. We consider the individual, but we still see them as means to the collective end.

Unfortunately, this viewpoint ignores half of who we are. We all play a dual role: we are fully members of the collective and also fully unique individuals. When striving together, we each inhabit a combined role as our ‘organizational self.’

Power comes when leaders enlist the fullness of this ‘organizational self’ – when they put the outside-in and inside-out perspectives on equal terms. For example, intentional leaders might talk about collective vision for an organization, but also create space for individuals to articulate their vision of self. The goal here is not that the collective informs the individual’s goals, but that they serve as equal inputs to individual action within a collective effort.  Only by bringing these two together do we become powerful, committed individual actors, working collectively to something that is meaningful on multiple levels.

Meredith

indonesia

The Two Whys

I’ve been thinking a lot about why. Why, why, why?

In primary school, we were taught to ask the five W’s (and the accompanying H) to dissect situations in literature and beyond: “Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?” It trips off the tongue so elegantly that it almost runs together into one word – the all-encompassing “Whowhatwherewhenwhyhow?” The list seemed so comprehensive and complete, as if there were no other questions to ask.

Of that list of fundamental questions, the why wandered into the forefront over the past few decades. Modern management theory teaches us to ask why at least five times to get to the root cause of a problem. And much-acclaimed Simon Sinek claims that the soul of an organization is not the how or the what, but instead the why behind its actions (watch his fantastic TED talk here).

I love the why. I resonate with the why. I am a big supporter of the why.

But there’s a problem with why. Our current usage of why is so broad as to be confusing. “Why?” can be answered on many levels. A legitimate answer to “Why did you spend Saturday with your family?” can be anything from “Because my kids had a soccer game” to “Because I prioritize my family and put them first.” To use the examples above, the why behind root cause analysis and the why that Simon Sinek preaches are actually quite distinct.

There are (at least) two whys in the world:two whysThe first why is the proximal why. It is the immediate impetus for an event or action, and is often more of a superficial answer.

“Why did you have a sandwich for lunch?” “Because that’s what I brought from home.”
“Why are we changing our branding and messaging?” “Because the boss said so.”
“Why do I work at this company?” “Because they pay me.”

The second why is the underlying why. You can think of this as the big why.  Instead of lingering on immediate causality, the underlying why invokes our purpose, values, and aspirations.

“Why did you have a sandwich for lunch?” “Because I pack my lunch every day to save money and eat better.”
“Why are we changing our branding and messaging?” “Because we want to make clear our mission of delivering exceptional customer service in each interaction people have with our company.”
“Why do I work at this company?” “Because I’m able help source ingredients responsibly for packaged foods and impact the health of people around the world.”

If we keep on asking ourselves the “Whowhatwherewhenwhyhow?” litany, we tend to gravitate towards the proximal why and forego the underlying why. Since the English language currently conflates the two whys, it is hard for us to answer both in a clear and satisfactory way. I propose separating the whys and adopting new taxonomy.

Let’s allow the proximal why to keep the word why. It’s common, it’s easy, and it’s established. But let’s introduce a new word for the underlying why. Let’s give it a separate word so it becomes its own distinct and important question. We could call it anything really: “Whereto?” “What to?” “Towards?” “Pineapple upside-down cake?” For simplicity, though, let’s try wherefore.

The etymology of wherefore makes it a good fit for the underlying why. It is an archaic form of why also defined to mean “for what” or “for what reason.” Perhaps the most famous use of wherefore is from Juliet’s soliloquy about Romeo in which she asks “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” (i.e., “Why are you Romeo?”) This question invites deep reflection; it is not sufficiently answered by “He is Romeo because that’s what his parents named him” but instead calls forth questions of the meaning of names, the importance of family affiliation, and the function of fate.
whysI invite you to start using “wherefore?” in your everyday life. Reflecting on my own decisions, when I’m able to clearly answer the wherefore, I’ve often been more intentional about my path. When I don’t know the wherefore, I have been hasty, unreflective, or, frankly, just a bit lazy.

It is a lovely (if aspirational) idea: that people would be asking themselves not only the easier why but the harder wherefore. But with any luck, our children will be soon asking themselves exactly that:

“Whowhatwherewhenwhyhowwherefore?”

Meredith

Our Intentional Christmas

Given that we’re recently engaged, this is the first holiday season that Liz and I have fully merged our travel plans. We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Michigan and Christmas with hers in Iowa and Minnesota (where we are currently). While navigating each other’s traditions, we’re also intentionally creating our own. While we celebrated Christmas today with Liz’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law, we celebrated our own Christmas last Friday and Saturday before leaving San Francisco. Friday was our faux Christmas Eve, while Saturday was our stand-in Christmas Day. We knew we would participate in our respective family traditions when we travelled, so this would be the place where we started our own traditions – some adopted from her family, some adopted from mine, some merged, some imagined anew.

Our Friday night “Christmas Eve” consisted of a celebratory dinner, cozy fire, and loitering on the couch listening to Christmas music. We experimented with prime rib, twice-baked potatoes, corn, and a kale salad for dinner, trying to figure out whether that felt like our holiday meal. Following Liz’s family tradition, we each opened one present (a puzzle for her, hot chocolate for me). And following my family tradition, we sprinkled ‘fairy dust’ in the fireplace to help Santa ease down the chimney.

Christmas morning we awoke lazily and settled onto the couch with our respective caffeine of choice (Diet Coke for Liz and coffee for me). We opened presents methodically, one-for-her and one-for-me until the pile had disappeared. I was surprised to find that even small acts like this are loaded with invisible decisions (e.g., Do we wrap presents for each other? Does Santa wrap his presents? Do we open all at once or do we go back and forth?). It’s been curious to not only experience different ways of doing things as I step into Liz’s family, but to also figure out which of the traditions I care about. I mind less whether we have a real or artificial tree, but I care immensely that we use the stockings that my grandmother knit (including new ones for Liz and Reese).
reese and stocking
Christmas morning breakfast was perhaps our easiest tradition to establish. On special days in the past (i.e., holidays, the morning of our engagement), we have long been eating a crescent-roll-scrambled-egg creation that we have dubbed “Miracle Loaf.” As with many rituals, we can’t quite remember why we eat it or why it has that name, but at this point, it’s stuck. This year, we adapted and evolved the Miracle Loaf recipe further, adding garlic, replacing green onions with white onions, and slap-dashing some egg wash on top to brown it up. It is perhaps the first true Whipple/Callahan recipe in our recipe card collection.
miracle loaf

Like me, you may be asking “What does it all mean?” “What values do our traditions manifest?” and “What do our traditions aspire to?” For the most part, I don’t think we’ve created these traditions because they are specifically meaningful or symbolic. Instead, we select some to honor her heritage, we select some to honor my heritage, and then we co-create together. The meaning is less in the action of eating the Miracle Loaf or wrapping the gifts, but instead in the fact that we’re consciously choosing our own path together.

Wishing you a very happy (and intentional) holiday season,
Meredith

95% of Your Behaviors are Unconscious and Automatic

Sometimes I run into a description of intentionality that illustrates the topic far better than I ever could.  This happened recently when I was reading an interesting book called Sink, Float or Swim.  Here’s the quote, illustrated:

95

paraconscious

fraction of

 

I love the vivid examples of living unintentionally (or paraconsciously) as they ring true.  I hate when people use their phones while having a conversation, and yet I find myself slipping and doing it as well.

I’m not fully successful yet, but I’m just trying to keep myself a bit more in the conscious sphere and heading towards that ‘much better way.’  And I’ll recommit by putting my phone down right now.

Onward and upward,
Meredith

Try to Stop Trying

I’ve realized that I’m always trying.  Trying to do, trying to be.  Trying, trying, trying.

The whole idea of ‘trying’ has value to me because I believe that I have agency – a lot of agency.  When I work towards my goals with enthusiasm, intelligence, and emotional-awareness, my efforts are typically correlated with results.  All my experience supports this:  I send emails, stuff happens.  I make slides, stuff happens.  I talk to someone on the phone, stuff happens.  It’s a pretty straightforward view of the world.  Further, it’s a view of the world that has allowed me to be happy and successful to date (since I’m so good at trying).  Keep trying, and there will be success.

But what happens when I don’t try?

When a friend asked me that question last weekend, it leashed an avalanche of defensiveness and self-justification.  “Not trying?!  That’s inconceivable!” huffed The Defensive One in my head.  (I imagine him wearing an old-school British barrister outfit as he argues each point.)  “That’s an incredible betrayal!  It controverts the very idea of intentionality, one of your core values!”  He gets only more flustered and riled as he continues.  “For heaven’s sake, why invite the Queen to tea if you’re not going to show up?!”

barrister
It’s true; after observing the effort/result correlation enough times, I’ve been duped into believing that voice.  I’ve come to see that the world moves forward when I try – and therefore, I have convinced myself that I must keep trying.

So what happens when I don’t try?  With this worldview, presumably nothing.  And yet, I increasingly observe that’s in fact the case.

This Wednesday was a good case in point.  I worked all day developing a new piece of training content, figuring out the flow of the module and tailoring each exercise so it would serve the learning goal.  I sat in front of my computer, revising text, swapping slides, changing pictures.  As I finished the day, I had the sense that something was mildly off.  I decided to step back, take a break, and go for a pedicure.

Thus I found myself an hour later, sitting in the pedicure chair, feet in a shallow pool of water and journal on my lap.  I was writing about whatever craziness I typically journal on.  And I was giving myself a self-congratulatory pat-on-the-back for creating time for self-care.  But then, with three of ten toes bright orange, I realized:  “Ahh!  I know exactly what needs to change in that module!  I see how to reformulate the question to really make it sing.”

I’ve worked for so long under the belief that my efforts, directly exerted upon the task at hand, will create the most movement.  But I’m learning that sometimes there’s more movement when you stop trying and let things be effortless.  This isn’t just true because the subconscious parts of my brain get a chance to process the information (as in this example), but also because things external to me seem to work in a different way when I stop trying as well.  People line up to support a new idea.  Someone sends an email with the information I need.  A new offer comes to the table.  It sounds crazy and semi-magical, but something happens when I stop trying.  And much of the time, that force moves the world forward more powerfully than my trying ever could.

So here’s my challenge:  I am going to try to stop trying.  Or, phrased more positively, I am going to see if I can relax and let go.  That way, I may just find my way to that productive and elusive place where trying and not trying meet.

Meredith
try

 

 

Are You Reacting To Life or Creating Your Life?

This week someone posed the question “Are you reacting to life or creating your life?”  I liked the formulation and decided it was my key reflection point for the week.  But instead of writing about it, I’m mixing it up and putting my dubious drawing skills to the test.  Thus, please enjoy:

title

reaction

creation
With love,
Meredith