There is a series of children’s books written by Laura Joffe Numeroff and beautifully illustrated by Felicia Bond detailing the outrageous shenanigans that follow when a child takes a seemingly innocent first step like giving a moose a muffin, a dog a donut, a cat a cupcake, a pig a pancake, or giving the mouse who started the whole thing a cookie.
When I stepped into this experiment called getting my groove back a year ago, I had no idea I would be stepping into a similar situation as the unsuspecting character who gave the moose, the dog, the cat, the pig, and, of course, the mouse what they wanted.
As we’ve all learned even if we haven’t read these fabulous fables, one thing leads to another and another ad infinitum. Some of these things are hilarious, some are mischievous, some are expensive, some are silly, some are unfortunate, and some are surprising.
And surprise, it turns out, is one of the things that most of us try to avoid. But according to the authors of the fascinating book called Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, it’s one of the things we should embrace in order to spark the best kind of change in our lives.
The thing about my journey or any journey is that we don’t ever really know what we’re in for, even if we think we do. The brilliance of our ignorance or beginner’s mind is absolutely essential if we are to be open to what lies ahead.
Preconceived notions or assumptions of how long it is going to take, how much it is going to cost, how easy or difficult it might be are usually based on our past experience or that of someone else.
Even though that experience may serve as a helpful guide, it will continually pull us out of the here and now if we are not open to the element of surprise and the many gifts of an unpredictable present.
For example, at the end of my How to Get Your Groove Back class I wanted to give participants the opportunity to physically experience what we had been discussing and understand what it felt like to change eating habits, improve energy levels, curb cravings, reduce hormonal fluctuations, etc.
So five of us embarked on a 21-Day Purification with the assistance of a functional medicine doctor and me, their newly certified Eating Psychology Coach.
Having done something similar six months ago, I thought I knew what we were getting into. Suffice it to say, I did not. Surprise! The first day my predominant thought was, “What was I thinking?” I’m sure the others were wondering the same.
But as the days progressed and we figured out what we could eat, found our comfort foods and figured out how to prepare them, and started losing weight and noticing a difference in our energy levels, skin, moods, and stress levels, we were amazed at how quickly we were adapting to the new world order.
In a very short time, we were able to make significant shifts in our outlook and health that previously none of us thought would be sustainable. Ironically, as much as we looked forward to Day 22, that’s when the real work started.
Like the unlikely actions that follow feeding a moose a muffin, I’ve become this version of myself I’d only imagined I could be. I’m actually excited about kitchen knives and cutting boards, joining a co-op, and spending the weekend tackling the clutter around every corner (while listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo).
As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy before. I just knew if I wanted to get to my own personal Promised Land, I was going to have to take a different route if I intended to get there this lifetime.
So I did what we all need to do from time to time. I did what graduates and retirees and entrepreneurs the world over are urged to do. Give a moose a muffin. And let the adventures begin!
Share if you dare in the comments below. What grand adventures await you?
I’m once again up way too early to do anything but write.
Sadly this time it was not instigated by a dog who needed to be let outside, but a dog I must let go.
Sometimes death comes excruciatingly slow and other times painfully swift. In the case of our gentle lab Abbey, it was some surreal mixture of both.
Abbey was my sister’s dog originally, a Christmas gift for her girls a dozen years ago, who were just babes themselves. Abbey spent her early years in New Hampshire, Missouri, and North Carolina before coming home to live with me and my dog Malcolm in Illinois and finally Iowa.
I think everyone in my family would claim her as theirs since she spent some time with all of us when one of us had to travel without her. She found comfort in laying at my dad’s feet, riding in my mom’s car, being reunited with her girls when they came to visit, playing dress up with my youngest niece and helping my brother convince my cat- loving sister-in-law that dogs can indeed make incredible companions.
She also had a way with the boys and spent her last couple of hours surrounded by her favorite fellas – Jake, Scooter, Rosco, Gavin, and her all time favorite, Bob. She was an equal opportunity lover and rallied at the opportunity to take one last walk by the river with her pack, herding us all and making sure no one was left behind.
The decision to end a pet’s life is wracked with doubt. I’ve had to make that decision twice in the last two years. When they are suffering through their worst moments, I am convinced it is the most humane thing to do. It becomes the most agonizing thing to do when the appointed time draws near.
I can barely breathe through it, stay in the moment, and not distract myself from the onslaught of memories mixed with fear of a future without my canine companion. A part of me dies with my dog.
Fortunately my vet makes house calls and has allowed both Malcolm and Abbey to pass in the peace of familiar surroundings with their favorite toys, treats, and companions right next to them. And incredibly lucky for me, I have Bob, who bears this burden with me and lets me cling to him even as his heart breaks.
To deal with the aching absence of Abbey, I alternate between listening to gut wrenching songs about grief to reading poetry about passing to drinking rain forest tea to collapsing on the couch. Eventually I reach for my pen and journal, open up a vein and let the following bleed out.
Things No One Tells You When You Get A Dog
No one ever tells you when you get a dog
that they will heal your heart every time it breaks
only to shatter it beyond recognition when they leave.
They forget to mention
you will continue to offer table scraps to the ghost of a good dog
and listen intensely for the pattering of paws across the kitchen floor
or wait for the delirious wagging of a tail to welcome you home.
You never suspect you will miss the insistence on a Busy Bone from the kitchen
once you’ve settled snugly into the couch.
You can’t fathom wishing you would wake
once more to the movement of dreaming feet, muffled barks,
and snores that rival your husband’s.
No one tells you that coming across a favorite toy, food dish, eye drops, ear wipes,
multiple dog beds and blankets will bring you to your knees
as you remember how many ways your life was blessed by a dog.
No one wants to spoil the ending at the beginning.
No one wants to tell you the grief will go as deep as the love
and come in waves at odd moments long after your dog is gone.
They will only ask you when you’re going to get another
and you will say never…
Until one day you remember that Dog is just God spelled backward
and the closest thing to heaven on earth.
It’s 4am on a Saturday. I think about the TED talk by poet Rives detailing his theory about four in the morning and all the references to it in films, songs, and other works of art. Clearly this is the bewitching hour, the time when downloads from the divine are most likely to occur, the time we walk between the worlds of waking and dreaming.
If I’m lucky, I’m sleeping at 4am. Not because I’m opposed to the particular gifts that 4am bestows, but because I desperately need the sleep.
So much depends on a good night’s sleep. From my attitude to the way my body metabolizes nutrients and burns calories to the way my brain processes thoughts to the amount of energy at my disposal, sleep is a biggie in my book.
The unbearable lightness of being a light sleeper is that anything and everything can jolt me out of dreamland and into full on monkey mind chatter that requires more than a few brain bananas to pacify.
If my noise cancelling headphones are near my bed and miraculously attached to my iPod which is geared up to my sleep paraliminal meditation and happens to be next to my Rescue Sleep Bach Flower Remedy, I have a chance of falling back to sleep.
Otherwise, the best thing to do is get up and blog.
I think about my friend Gillian from the UK who I met in Los Angeles in January. She is back in Los Angeles this weekend and most likely awake at 4am due to serious jet lag mixed with excitement and information overload from three days of brainstorming with her Mastermind group.
I am filled with excitement as well. I’m teaching the material I’m learning in my coaching program and meeting incredible people along the way. From the participants to the guest speakers, people are opening their hearts and minds to me. Consequently, I’m brimming with purpose and consumed with creating meaningful change and immense value.
I’m also apprehensive. My dog Abbey, the instigator of this 4am wake up call, has grown old and uncomfortable almost overnight. Suddenly she has something going on with her eyes that is serious enough to warrant an 8am vet visit. My heart is heavy with sadness for this sweet dog who waits on the step for me every night and wags her tail profusely as soon as I return from work. Her unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship have healed my heart more times than I can count. Now I need to do whatever I can to help her heal and bring her ease and comfort.
This morning that meant letting her out to sit under a tree and sniff the air. When I went out to retrieve my retriever, the grass and trees glistened like an enchanted forest. No wonder she wanted out. She wanted to play her part in the 4am conspiracy.
She’s now sleeping blissfully, having accomplished her mission of getting me up and at the keyboard. She knows a writer needs solitude and silence, the precise conditions present at 4am.
At some point today, after my words have found their way into the blogosphere and Abbey’s eyes have been examined and soothed, perhaps I’ll curl up next to her and nap. Until then, I have to assume sleeping in on Saturday or Sunday is a covert attempt to conceal the 4am conspiracy theory.
What about you? Is there a time when you are perpetually perplexed, vexed, or called to create? Are there certain times during the day or night that compel you to act? Share in the comments below.
I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
I signed up for three different coaching programs that each demand their own Herculean effort to complete and for one month, October, they all overlap.
I certainly wouldn’t have planned it this way had I been in charge of the master plan. But often times one thing leads to another and several doors fly open at once.
The seemingly innocent challenge I took up in January to write 500 words a day for 30 days set me up for a year of upping the ante. I figured if I could do that, I could do just about anything. So I started doing stuff.
By showing up, being accountable, and being visible, brave new worlds have opened up to me. When the information is so valuable, so life-changing, so timely, it doesn’t make sense to wait until it all fits nicely into my schedule. Such is the case with my coaching programs.
And here’s what I’ve discovered about overwhelm. The antidote to overwhelm is not giving up, but engaging in something whole-heartedly, completely, passionately. Right now I have to fire on all cylinders in order to keep up. From what goes into my mouth to what comes out of it, I’m acutely aware of the impact on my energy level.
Although it’s easy to complain, the only thing I really have to do is prioritize. Daily. Hourly. This means giving up bad tv and carbs and regularly working outside my comfort zone. It means going the extra quarter mile. It’s really not a bad trade considering what I’m getting in return.
It’s a bit paradoxical. When I have no energy, the last thing I think about is adding more to the mix. However, if I add an experience that is so compelling, so enticing that I am leaning towards it, it has the ability to energize all areas of my life.
My guess is you’ve had a similar experience. If not, the next time you feel like throwing in the towel, try picking up a project instead.
Whether it be something as simple as challenging yourself to get more steps each day than the previous day for 7 days in a row or organizing your parent’s love letters or creating a guest blog post, see how your new interest infuses your day with enthusiasm, curiosity, and a sense of adventure.
Be sure to give yourself a time frame that pushes you out of your comfort zone but not over the edge. Knowing that the project will last “x” number of days or weeks adds the urgency that tends to dissipate when there is no due date.
It is also incredibly helpful to have someone to hold you accountable who might also be doing the same thing or has been there, done that, and is willing to coach you through it. In my coaching programs I have either a team or peer coach to check in with and that has been invaluable.
Certainly there are things we must do for ourselves. But there are many things we shouldn’t do without support. We have the collective wisdom of the ages at our fingertips. Accessing it has never been easier. As Barbara Sher said, “Isolation is a dream killer.”
In a few months I will be launching the online course (Read It & Leap! ) I am creating in one of my coaching programs. In it I share several secrets about taking small leaps to move you into a life that is the antidote to overwhelm – an engaged, inspired, involved existence.
If you’d like to know more about it, email me with the word Leap! in the subject line and I will be sure to let you know when I roll it out.
In the meantime, I’d love for you to share your antidote to overwhelm in the comments below.