Pressure Makes Diamonds

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The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds, a popular album by American rapper San Quinn.

Extreme pressure is required for a diamond to emerge.

A diamond, we equate this rock emerging from nature

        with perfection   with beauty   with spark

        with distinction,  with value, worth.

It is a shiny thing — and we WANT it.

We WANT a lot of things in life.  Some change. Some remain constant.

As a babe we wailed with want to be held or to be fed, for someone to take care of us.

Our wants evolve:  I wanted to be an actress.

                                   He wanted to make money.

                                   She wanted a boyfriend.

                                   They wanted to win the game.

Apply extreme pressure.

The actress must endure rejection, a make over, judgment of her size, her voice.

The real estate mogul must persist in the quest for buyer and building, the funding, the personalities.

The girlfriend must throw herself “out there,” listen, share enough of herself to attract a fellow listener and companion.

The team must train, strategize, study the opposition, vulnerabilities, work together.

All under extreme pressure.

Our minds are capable of monitoring what is extreme.

Is it extreme or merely necessary pressure? Pressure applied to crack the back of the WANT.

What might we expect from that stress?

~A worthy goal met.

~A distinct person realized.

~The sparkle of creativity manifested.

~The beauty of a deal closed.

~The perfection of your diamond.

Go for it.

Apply pressure – now.

You Always Have A Choice

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The choices begin the minute you open your eyes in the morning. When to throw back the covers? What to wear? What’s breakfast? What will you choose to do with this day?

There are phases of our lives when it seems that we do not have a choice but indeed we always have a choice.

Stuck in a job with a nasty boss? in a job that no longer challenges and feels or is rewarding? a job that doesn’t pay enough?

Stuck in a relationship with someone who does not show respect for your time or your feelings? in a relationship you no longer trust is healthy for you?

Stuck in a rut of “overwhelm?” Your mind telling you, irregardless of reality, it is impossible to meet the deadline, impossible to break an addiction to the Internet, to alcohol, to your excuse of CHOICE.

Stuck in a situation that appears “beyond your control?” Even a literal prisoner has a choice.  Even a person born to a beginning of poverty has a choice.

In fact in many situations we may have as many as

FIVE CHOICES

for your consideration:  Choose!

  1. Remain a victim to the situation.  That is your choice.  You choose to stay in the job, stay in the relationship, stay in the mindset that you can do nothing.  You choose to be a victim.  Feel it.  What emotions come up?  Know many happy, carefree “victims?”  I know this sounds harsh, but even victims of mental and physical torture have a choice. They choose to not seek help. They choose to “give up,” or to “never give up.”
  2. Change your perspective.  Consciously view the situation differently.  What – is – the reality here? You have too much work to do in the time you now have left, okay,  you can choose,  keep plugging away, deliver the assignment late, live with the consequences and the lesson that you will feel much less stressed next time around, if you take the lesson from the situation and get some advice on time management.
  3. Change the situation.  Set a boundary with the person who is showing disrespect. Show up differently. From a place of balance and emotional control break the ineffective pattern and see what happens.
  4. Accept the situation.  That is a choice.  It is your choice to accept that you are stuck, stuck, stuck and that you are choosing to accept the toxic boss exactly as she or he is, accept that you are not going to succeed in completing work you said you wanted to do, accept that you are living in the paralysis of an addict. Tough choice.  Own that you are choosing it!
  5. Leave it.  Yes, escape.  Brainstorm, wrestle with every angle of the situation and make a choice to consciously take even the smallest action to leave the negative mindset, to find a more uplifting job, to distance yourself from the person who thinks you exist to bully or demean or blame.

History has taught us that even prisoners of war have, as they were able – made choices: to distract their minds from the brutality of their existence, to not give up on the possibility of a change, of freedom, of a better life.

What is the reality of your situation?  At some point in our lives all of us have been “victims” of something or someone we could not control.

And then we had a choice.

 

 

 

 

Work with What You Got

talent-development-is-exploring-different-skills-and-perspectives-qrfbd3-clipartYou – got – it.  Perhaps only you.

A clever sense of humor?

A gift for storytelling and capturing an audience?

An unusual ability to listen and hear a deeper meaning beneath the words?

An eye for design?

An ease and talent for playing the guitar or singing?

An ability to problem-solve and see projects through to completion?

What you “got?”

Are you honoring it?

Or, taking it for granted?

When did we all start wanting something just a little different, just a bit “better” than what we “got?”

Was it playing with that first Barbie or Ken doll?

Wow – look at Barbie’s waist! Not to mention that chest!!

And Ken, he doesn’t have – red – hair…  He’s – blonde – and he’s handsome…. Why can’t I be like – Ken?  

Was it hanging with the mission-driven pre-med crowd?

Gosh, they know what they are doing…. they’ll make a lot of money….science is so assuringly concrete and exact and free of subjective judgment…. At least, it seems so….

Sure, in a lifetime, many of us will have opportunities to explore what it is like have a different hair color, to expand our skill set and learn how to succeed in fields of expertise that do not come naturally to us, to take a stand-up comedy class or write or paint or sing or dance – to surprise even ourselves.

All good.  As long as the exploration brings us joy and a sense of fulfillment, is self-empowering, not self-negating.

Sometimes the quest or yearning for something else, something more, something different comes from human curiosity.

Satisfy your curiosity – carve out time to read about fresh topics, henna your hair, train as if you were a potential Olympian, eat as if you were model-thin Barbie, but along the way, appreciate what is natural, easy for you.

Ignoring – or – taking what you got for granted – makes the “work” of life more work and just may rob the world of the talent, the genius, the person that is you – and you alone.

Today! The Past – is – Past

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My son works at a chic coffee bar where all employees must wear a head-covering of some sort.  Since this is a hip coffee bar, his choice of head gear is of interest.  Of interest for how he will be perceived by fellow hip employees. Of interest for how he will be perceived by the hip patrons…..  Of interest for the message he bears.  He frequently sports a baseball cap brim backwards. It is a red cap with a rainbow,  the logo from the TODAY show.

It simply says: TODAY.

What an appropriate reminder for morning java patrons!  TODAY.

Not yesterday.

Not last academic year.

Not that season when you were down with mono.

Not that phase of life when you were anxious and knew not what you wanted or who you were.

Not those years when you were in a relationship that depleted you and just felt wrong.

Not any day from the past when you felt sad, or lonely, angry or resentful, apathetic or unsure.

TODAY.

What a distracting trap to daydream or obsess on what went before:

what she did!    what he said!    how unfair was that!   wow! that did not go – as planned!

What of it?

TODAY is here – now.  Focus on the rainbow of possibility of this very 24 hours.

The past – is – the past.

TODAY is here but once. Wrestle with it.  Own it.  Be hip to even its tiniest of messages.

And move on to a fresh TODAY.

Dare to Folly!

 

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Innovators, inventors, explorers and farmers dare to folly.  They cannot predict the outcome of their experiments and explorations but know that in the process of moving forward and trying fresh ideas something bright and exciting may be learned.  Innovation, creation, growth does not come from “playing it safe.”

Astro Teller, the director of a moonshot factory, a place where dreams and the unfathomable are tested, recently delivered a TED Talk explaining The Unexpected Benefit of Failure.  Since the age of cave-dwellers man has witnessed the benefits of simply – trying – an idea.  Where would we be today, if some optimist way back when had not “dared” to act the “fool” and rub two sticks together!

When we barge ahead, ignore the negative naysayers and catastrophe theorists – and light the fire of our imagining we both shoot for the moon and pioneer from a place of intuition and passion.  That shooting and pioneering is leading life!  Our work is to not give up until the invention has been realized – or the lessons have been learned.

Okay, in every endeavor we may not invent the next great thing, establish the business that brings in a hefty profit or create the work of art that garners mass appeal. But, if we can maintain an intensity of focus and a burning curiosity to problem-solve and acknowledge the lessons along the way, our actions are simply steps toward a next best thing – one that we are incapable of knowing today, but will become evident as we brush off our baffled ego and – move on.

This summer I had a dream.

I passionately wanted to memorialize a dear connection with a man I loved.

I wanted to grow a field of sunflowers – a field as big as a football field – a field of floral smiles turning toward the light.

I researched seed types, I discussed with local farmers how to prepare the field, how to fight weeds.  I ordered seeds – and then I ordered some more seeds.  The earth was churned. The seeds were planted.  At first, the rain never seemed to come.  Second observation: wicked weeds settled in where the sunflowers should have been.

And then the lesson of my summer experiment:

For the local deer population my dream was their dream.  My first study in sunflower planting was their field of yummy fodder.

Fortunately, I also planted a single row of sunflowers closer to our house.  Those four thriving sunflowers are an exquisite reminder to – not – give up on a dream.

This summer’s sunflower field is neither a folly nor a failure.

My “sunflower” field is a cause for celebration. It has sparked a fire within me to learn more lessons in sustainable farming.

What is your dream?  Your vision?  Your truth?

Churn. Seed. Water. Celebrate.

Your concept?  Your endeavor? Give it some time, observe, re-evaluate, make change as needed.

Patience and persistence may be required.

From the roots of possibility unexpected blossoms will appear!

Yes, and…..

Yes,and.8.16Improvisation groups use those two words as a segway, a verbal cue to move the story forward. Yes, and…. the action pauses for a second until a clear and fresh direction is established.

Where in your life is your yes, and…..?

Yes, you’ll finish the assignment…. when?

Yes, you’ll clean the cupboard……when?

Yes, you’ll make the challenging phone call……when?

Yes, you’ll begin saving money for the downpayment – or retirement….when?

So often during the yes, and phase of life we build a mental barrier that leaves us lingering in the positivity of the Yes! yet mired in a weighted unease that makes the pause before taking action longer and more torturous than it need be.

Simply stating the when and then taking even the smallest action in the fresh direction is what empowering ourselves is all about.  Small actions lead to accomplishments and pushing past the “and” to completed tasks and realized dreams.

It is easy to make the excuse, to distract ourselves and procrastinate, but lingering in that pause is dispiriting, debilitating, depressing.  

In the pause – breathe.  (You were neglecting to take that breath, you too, eh?) and

I will finish and post this blog.  

I will open a savings account and create even the most minimal of automatic transfers into that savings account.

I will take the contents of the cupboard, place it all on the floor, curate and edit and organize until an agreeable order reveals itself. 

I will outline the whats of the assignment, make a calendar for completion and prioritize completion of the assignment so that I can confidently report to my inner boss: 

Yes, and…. Mission accomplished!

 

 

 

How Much Pain Will It Take?

How Much Pain Will It Take?

“In spite of warnings, nothing much happens until the status quo becomes more painful than change.”

                                                                                 ~ L.J. Peter

 Why are we so resistant to change?  Change challenges us to think in fresh ways.  Change challenges us to revisit past patterns – to break those patterns.

To stop the treadmill and walk out of sync for a while.

We must evolve from where we were to where we are going to be.  And it is not always clear where the there  – is.

Facing the unknown churns up emotions: fear of the unfamiliar, anger at discomfort.  What is going on?  What should I do?  Why is this happening?

How is your status quo?

Are you at ease, feeling fulfilled and creatively challenged at work?

Is your financial house in order?  Bills paid on time? Debt-free?

Making enough to be self-sustainable?

How do you feel? Are you tired? Energized? Clear-headed? Focused?  What do you make of the human shape you see in the mirror?  Does it show a thriving human specimen?

How is that human being interacting with family? with work colleagues?

Are your relationships loving and supportive?

Are you lonely? Isolated?

Pain.  Do you recognize it?  Are you curing and conquering it?  Or, numbing it with paralyzing distractions and excesses:

fantasy games and novels and television

vicariously “living” through Facebook

wandering the mall or the Internet

eating and drinking with no awareness of hunger or thirst

sleeping and sleeping some more, rationalizing your life away…

blaming others for your paralysis, your lack of motivation

Put pain to work in your life.  It is there to draw your attention to a dis-ease in your life that requires you to CHANGE, to show up differently, to go boldly down a different path.

Move past the pain and feel the joy of returning to the leading hero that is YOU.

Who??? Are You??? Living Your Truth

Whoareyou.7.7.16Go ahead – answer the question!  Who??? are you?

Male. Female.

Son. Daughter.

The layers of being pile on:

Student.

Athlete.

Artist.

Funny.

Serious.

Adventurous.

Pragmatic.

Ordered.

Messy.

Outgoing.

Shy.

Open.

Opinionated.

Active.

Reactive.

Bold.

Serene.

Best friend.

Partner.

Husband. Wife.

Parent.

Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.”

But the who IS important!  As the layers of identity pile on, our sense of self can become buried beneath the layers.  The more external influences on our lives and the more we live – the more multifaceted our who becomes.

Our experiences shape our who, but when we are out of balance or overwhelmed, we may find it harder and harder to be clear on who we are and if we are still living OUR truth.

Checking in on YOUR Value base from time to time will confirm for you who you are and WHAT is YOUR truth.

What is important to you?

Family?   A certain life style?   Beauty?  Health and wellness?

Security?  Generosity?  Self-expression?

Popularity? Laughter? Inner peace?

Professional or artistic achievement? Recognition?

Completing projects? Existing self-sustainably?

Honesty? Trust? Walking your own talk?

There are times in our lives when we are clear on what our inner voice believes and holds as truth.  We readily “feel” what is our truth – in the depths of our being.  Our gut speaks to who we are.

At other times, times of stress and transition: the death of a loved one, a move to a strange city, the quest for a new or a first real job, the beginning of a new relationship

 we find it harder to clearly live OUR truth.

It is rough stuff to go on when a human connection has been severed due to death.

No longer a child?

No longer an active parent?

No longer a wife? No longer a husband?

Too “busy” to walk the talk?

What is stopping you from getting to the pool, swimming the  laps, trying the new recipe, setting aside time to practice the guitar, having some fun with the piano?

A new companion is challenging your values? Asking the whys of what is important to you?

Are you standing your ground, living your truth?

Or, are you rethinking the whats of what makes you you?

Re-evaluating, learning more, evolving: yes, that is part of our growth and key to our development as thriving human beings.

But, if the demands of a negative relationship, the challenges of accepting and living through the stages of grief or moving on to a new professional phase – or a new town – is making you question who you are….

Isn’t it time to tap into your own intuition?

Take a walk in the woods.  Set aside time for a meditation practice. Write down, sing, strum, close your eyes and – be – YOU.

Return to the peace of living YOUR truth.

If you would like to schedule a session with Elizabeth, click here.