Tag Archives: priorities

Crossroads and Detours

April 12, 2014

Ok, show of hands, who feels like life is pulling you in too many directions? Everyone? Thought so.

Sure, some of you may wish that life was linear with a well-lit, clearly defined road to follow without debris, bumps or fog. Something perhaps like this:

Driving on empty towards the sun

While certain moments may go by smoothly, like cruise control on new pavement, most of life is about twists, turns and detours. And, that’s alright. It may not be your preference or even comfortable, but it affords you the chance to learn lessons, explore new directions and challenge perceptions.

However, how do you feel when the bumps keep coming, the road stops being labeled and the turns get tighter? Perhaps you can relate to these common reactions:

  1. I feel like I’m stuck in a life that is always “under construction”
  2. I feel like I’m racing through life without any rest stops
  3. I feel like I’m driving at night with dim headlights in a fog
  4. I feel like I’m always on E and stopping constantly to fuel up
  5. I feel like I’m continually at a crossroads with no clue where to turn

If you answered all of the above, don’t worry. I have honestly experienced each one of these feelings at one time or another . . . sometimes several at once. It doesn’t mean life is hopeless or that you need to pull off the road and give up.

Detours and crossroads are manageable, if you know how to navigate them. Let’s rephrase the five feelings above into more tangible (tackleable) concepts:

  1. Construction is change. Embrace that every plan, appointment and expectation may change. It can be liberating. Surrender controlling the outcome in favor of celebrating that life is not boring and you are evolving into your best self.
  2. Renewal is crucial. If you feel anxious or frenzied, set priorities for your time, whether it means trimming commitments or dedicating a day a week to true relaxation. After all, there is no way to win a race if you are too drained to reach the finish line.
  3. Fog is lack of light. This may come from an impact event like grief or it may be some degree of depression. In these moments, it helps to talk to a counselor, facilitator or friend. Often, the light is present (like sun behind blinds) but we need a helping hand to acknowledge it.
  4. Empty is depleted. The body is an electrical, chemical and physical masterpiece. Food must be rich in nutrients, full of color and fresh from nature to sustain a healthy system. When you feel empty, remember food is fuel and that fuel needs to be from quality sources.
  5. Crossroads are clarifying. They give you a chance to redefine your journey, align with your principles, embrace a new dream or shift your destiny. Yes, you may feel overwhelmed and there will likely be contemplation. Pray, journal, turn to wise friends and trust yourself.

It’s not easy, friends. It takes practice and self-awareness. Even today, I coach myself into turning detours into crossroads. I have scoured resources, like maps to others’ life experiences, to show me the quick route or the best way. Ultimately, though, my landmarks and my journey are my own.

It’s good to research and ask for input . . . but you are the driver and need to make the final decision how to proceed. Have faith, hold on to hope and buckle up for the exciting things life has in store for you.

Conquering the Obligation Monster

June 10, 2013

Have to, need to, must . . . for the rebellious hearts of the world (like me), those words ring with a sense of doom that may rival the journey to return the ring to Mordor. What? Sigh, my fellow LOTR fans got it.

My point is that the obligation monster exists. He’s a gnarly, whiny, dusty, troublesome fellow who likes to steal our sunshine and, surprisingly, we allow it. There is hope. The trick is to turn the tables on your perspective and determine clear boundaries for the expectations you set with others. Hope appreciates breathing room to flourish and, trust me, so does your sanity.

Certainly, being dependable, responsible, loyal and someone others can count on is outstanding. Nurture those qualities as you take care not to swing the pendulum too far in the apathetic direction. Simply be mindful if a pattern of, “I will enjoy life once this is done” or “I need to do x, y or z before I can relax” or “I will be able to breathe as soon as . . .” starts to surface. Now is all we have for certain, friends.

If, when and right after are phrases we use as crutches to keep from really prioritizing. They are hurdles to transforming what we feel we have to do into a privilege.

A privilege? Yes, I can feel you reeling from the thought of cleaning the house, finishing that report or catching up on tax paperwork as privileges. Not everything is rosy or laced with sugar bows; however, if you view your task or time as a monstrous obligation, you are far more likely to procrastinate, resent it, be moody, take it out on others or carry it as a burden throughout your day(s). Monster wins.

No, shake off the beast. Honestly, most of our woes and problems are first-world issues. What do I mean? Needing to clean out the garage, getting anxious over not having 4G wifi everywhere (guilty) or picking up after a pet in the yard . . . all “civilized” problems. Reframe it: you have a garage, which is likely attached to a house with a roof over your head and the necessities of life; you will survive without a text or email for an hour and might even, shocker, experience the world in 3D real life; and you have a pet who probably loves you and helps you de-stress, most days.

The obligation monster is no match for perspective. His kryptonite is also found in setting healthy boundaries with family, friends, work and your partner. Your computer needs to reboot once in a while and so do you. Always being a fix it, counsel it, and handle it gal or guy is likely based on noble intentions. Still, remember not to steal the lessons of others or take on so much that you are defined by everything but your inner voice.

Best advice: hopeful moderation + take a walk to clear your head. Whatever list, email or challenge that is waiting for you can take a momentary backseat to nature, a nice stroll and that deep breathe you actually do “need.”

Realigning Priorities

May 10, 2013

I have a challenge for you: Limit your total personal Internet use (cell, computer and tablet) to one hour tomorrow. Think it’s easy? I’ve got one more caveat for you: You only get that hour in one location (home, cafe, whatever). That’s every text, every call and every poke on Facebook. Let me know the result by commenting here. And . . . go.

Why? Well, I am seeing an amazing thing in New Zealand . . . people talking, people playing with their kids, people looking up at the sky, people eating without a device sitting on the table, people not plugged in at every moment. I’ll prove it. Here is a photo of the mirrored cafe ceiling:

Like Where's Waldo? Bonus points if you can find me.

Like Where’s Waldo? Bonus points if you can find me.

In addition, I counted a few minutes worth of drivers and not one was texting while barely looking up. Yes, I have observed people walking around talking on their phones but it’s the minority. I even made eye contact (remember that) with over a dozen people in the last five minutes. I’m baffled. It’s like life exists for these Kiwis. Huh.

I’ll call myself out first. I’m a text, talk, walk and “multitask” offender. My dear brother can testify. In fact, momentary panic set in last night when I saw, “59 minutes and 50 seconds of your daily wifi allowance remains” as I logged in at my accommodation. “What?! Daily?” I thought. No ding, brrrring, vvvvrrrrr, notification-a-palooza? I felt alone, I felt jolted and I even felt a hint of judgment.

Why? I have become oddly accustomed to seeing my world through a four-inch screen. I was constantly looking down not ahead. I was looking to a device to gauge things not my inner processor (a.k.a. intuition). And here’s the thing, I’m still adjusting. I posted, pinged and messaged like a mad woman for the hour I was allotted.

Now, I’m typing and watching the rain fall. Instead of headphones, I hear birds and laughter. Gotta say, as a writer, umbrellas are fun little microcosms to watch and, attention Phoenix friends, people don’t actually melt in the rain. Funnier still, the cafe is filled with books, conversation and sipping. I’m the only soul on a laptop. Again, huh.

I suspect our “civilized” priorities are askew. Remember the principle of want vs. need? It’s a childhood tool we learn to help us retain awareness. In order to help the world hope, it seems I need to refresh us all, myself included, on how and where to focus. You have to have a shred of attention in order to exercise empathy, be present with those who are hurting and seek your bliss. I can tell you that technology is amazing, useful and a blessing. I can also tell you that digitized reality can distract us from the heart of humanity.

Here are a few photos of life unplugged:

Park on Devonport coastline

Park on Devonport coastline

My furry companion at the cafe

My furry companion at the cafe

Reflecting on the beauty of life

Reflecting on the beauty of life

I know dialing down instead of up is tough. I’m here for you. Perhaps wifi can begin to stand for “we invest fully in” living with presence. Here’s hoping.