What's New?

Concept of training. Wooden bookshelf full of books in form of m

It’s Day 11 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to learn something new.

No matter how old or young you may be, how much you think you know or don’t know, or whether you think there are any original ideas left to explore, as an educator I’m here to tell you there is always something to learn.

I know learning can be intimidating. Often the hardest thing for a student to do is to walk through through the doors of whatever learning institution he or she chooses. But doing so can change a life.

That’s why in order for me to teach, I must continue to learn. As a writer, it helps for me to be a voracious reader. To be an effective coach, I need to be willing to be coached.

TED talks are one of my favorite free sources of learning. I am a huge fan of these 18 minute entrées into the world of experts in every imaginable field. This is a luxury I would have never thought possible in my workshop junkie days when going where the gurus were was the only way to get the goods.

This month you can not only do the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge, but you can also take the TED ED Challenge.  These lessons can also be completed in 5-15 minutes, depending on how engrossed you get in the topic.  A new topic is presented each day in an animated short that brings the information to life in a very entertaining and educational way. (It has also prompted me to add “find funding for an animator, director, sound editor, script director, and producer” to my Get Stuff Done 1×31 list.)

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people complain they are bored. There is so much to learn, discover, and do. Why would you not use the day’s downtime to take advantage of the ample learning opportunities to plant seeds in your imagination?

Our biggest threat is not weapons of mass destruction but weapons of mass distraction.

Today I encourage you to cultivate the kind of creativity that comes with having a quiet moment, a curious mind, and the patience to contemplate the questions that have confounded great minds for centuries.

Work a cross-word puzzle. Solve a Sudoku puzzle. Doodle or sketch a logo for your 1×31 Challenge list. Animate one of these lessons. Write a reply to a perplexing question with your non-dominant hand.

Use that Wiggle Room from Day 6 to explore the unfamiliar and make unlikely connections between things that appear to have nothing to do with each other. Maybe you will stumble upon a solution to a problem that just needed to be approached from a different perspective?

Share what you learn in the comments below.

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Here are a few classics for your playlist:

What’s New, Pussycat? – Tom Jones

What a Wonderful World – James Taylor, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel

Inside Out – Trisha Yearwood, Don Henley

And here are just a few of my favorite TED presenters:

 

The One That Got Away

Opportunity wooden sign with a beach on background

Whether it was the missed connection, the dream job, the international man of mystery, the lady in red, the big fish, or the 200+ inch, double drop tine buck**, nothing haunts us quite like the one that got away.

Having lived long enough to have made my share of questionable decisions, the best decision is to have no regrets.

If in the agony and urgency of attempting to make a life-changing decision I can remind myself there is not just one perfect soul mate, one perfect job, or one chance of a lifetime, this is easier.

Granted, these opportunities are rare. But I’ve come to trust that what is meant for me has a curious way of circling back around.

Through a series of outrageous occurrences, I was invited to Miami Beach for a creative writing residency by the founder and creative director of one of the world’s finest greeting card companies. The chance to spend a little time writing cards at the beach escalated into an opportunity to become an integral part of the company.

Anyone who knows me knows being part of a creative team of writers and artists and brilliant minds is a dream come true.  Everything about this opportunity beckoned me.  Exceptional people.  Exceptional place.  Exceptional potential.

Except for the equal and opposite dream I have been quietly crafting in my own back yard.

Before I had a home, a husband to be, and a steady job that supports my writing habit and frequent flights of fancy, I would often imagine in detail what a free-spirited, super successful, single person’s writing life should look like.

Suffice it to say, it looked like what I was now being offered. Living the dream for a few days was intoxicating.

Returning to the reality of my regularly scheduled life was excruciating.  Not because it isn’t alluring in its own right, but because I had been unequivocally altered.  Only those closest to me knew to what extent.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t reconcile the gap between achieving what I’ve always wanted professionally and the price it would exact personally.

In getting a glimpse of this parallel life in all its glory, I got that my dreams must evolve as I do.  Like an app on an iPad, I must update them regularly in order to address the glitches I fail to factor in when I originally envision them.

Life-changing decisions are not meant to be easy.  By their very nature they urge us to evaluate everything, question our assumptions, check our egos, inventory what’s important, and listen deeply to our own wisdom.

They are designed to wreak havoc.  They are going to cause some grief since something has got to give and some things have got to go.

Adding to the pressure, they are usually time-sensitive and affect other unsuspecting people.

We remember the one that got away with such angst because he/she/it catapulted us out of our comfort zone and demanded we address our soul’s deeper yearnings.

Whether we act on the invitation, take a leap of faith, and change our current trajectory or not, the real gift is conjuring up the courage to consider doing so.

To feel deeply, love flat out, and shamelessly want what we want reminds we are alive with infinite input into how we live our lives.

Living this way is both exhilarating and exhausting.  And will undoubtedly define us as the one that got away in someone else’s story.

Now go.  Discover creative ways to live your updated, awe-inspiring dream.  Live large in small areas of your life.  Or go big and still go home. Whatever works.  It’s up to you.

And when you get a minute, tell me about it in the comments below.

**I only know about such things because the buck is Bob’s dream.  No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

Surprise Garage Sale Finds

There are two types of people in the world. Those who love garage sales and those who don’t. After an unfortunate experience from my childhood (similar to the coffee incident) that involved me hosting a “rummage sale” , as they were called back then, and netting approximately $5 for a week’s worth of work, I fell into the second category.

This past weekend my parents decided to take part in a city-wide garage sale and asked Bob and I to come help. Bob falls into the first category since he’s made out quite well at garage sales over the years. So naturally, I volunteered Bob to help. But since my parents have made more than their share of sacrifices for me, I decided to join Bob and at least be there to help move the inevitable stuff that doesn’t sell.

Among the leftovers were an odd assortment of gardening books, interior and home design books, sewing and fashion guides, and the ever in demand encyclopedias from the 1960s, all considered vintage now.

But the surprise find of the day was not the trip down memory lane but the trip inside the psyche of my ancestors, my paternal grandmother in particular. My father’s mother died when I was in high school, so the memories I have of her are spotty by now.

I remember she loved her family and insisted all the relatives gather around every Sunday after church for a meal or coffee and rolls. She loved to garden and had a small green house added on to her house. She was a great seamstress, which explained all the sewing books and fashion guides. She had dark thick hair, which I didn’t inherit, and equally thick fingers, which I did. She had a heart and home that would open to anyone who walked through her front door.

What I didn’t know about her, that I suppose no grandchild really wants to know, is her deep disappointments, her regrets, and the things that broke her heart. When I got a glimpse of a few of my grandmother’s books as I was loading them in the car to take to Goodwill, I quickly surmised what those things were. The titles of the books said it all from the Miracle Diet to Doctor Please Help Me to Ancient Chinese Secrets for Rapid Weight Loss.

You see my grandmother was a large woman. Obese, in fact. She seldom left her house because it was hard for her to get around. She loved to entertain and have visitors because that’s how she participated in the world.

Her immobility, size, and accompanying health concerns affected me in a very specific way. She took lots of pills and supplements and I was determined not to live like that. So I did what any teenager would do. I stopped eating.

This allowed me to gain control over all the things I had no control over. From raging hormones to attention from boys to defying my dad and asserting myself, the only thing I could control was what I put into my mouth. I was incredibly selective about what went in. Not so much about what came out. I was a teenager, after all.

At that time, anorexia was a relatively new and unknown thing. All I knew was despite feeling hungry 24/7 and feeling the need to exercise every spare moment, if I could control my body, I might be able to get a grip on my emotions.

During this time I got very sick. I remember being in our family doctor’s office and hearing him say to my mother, “You know, she has the potential to become grossly overweight.” Clearly, this was not what a doctor should say to someone suffering from anorexia, but it was the seventies. This was a male doctor who had no clue what it was like to be in a female body or the awareness that those words would stick with me for life.

If I wasn’t eating before, I was certainly not going to eat then, given my genetic potential. Fortunately, I figured it out and managed to start eating again. Maybe I fell in love, maybe I believed if I exercised enough I could eat whatever I wanted, or maybe a decade of therapy did it. In any case, this declaration shaped my early career as a fitness professional and fueled my insatiable hunger for self-growth and knowledge.

Flash forward to this past weekend. Discovering her books allowed me to see my grandmother more clearly than I had ever seen her when she was alive. Despite her jovial appearance, she suffered in ways I never knew.

No one wants to be overweight, out of shape, unhealthy, or otherwise unacceptable or unattractive by society’s standards. We make such harsh judgments and assumptions about those who are.

As I leafed through the books I realized a lot of those doctors were saying what many cutting edge doctors are saying today. People probably thought my grandmother was crazy and willing to follow any “quack” or “miracle cure” she could afford. Or maybe they thought she was lazy, lacked discipline or willpower, or couldn’t be bothered to stick to a diet. But if the books were any indication, she was desperately trying to find a way to be at home in her body and accepted by society.

And then it really hit me. Despite the assumption that I’ve lived my life in reaction to my grandmother’s, I now see it as a continuation of her journey. As I begin an 8-month coaching program with the Institute of Psychology of Eating and dive deeply into the dynamics of eating, mind/body nutrition, body image, metabolism and digestion, as well as eating disorders, I have an opportunity to not only heal myself, but also my loved ones – past, present, and future.

It’s my belief we all have issues around food, nourishment, hunger, approval, acceptance, you name it. While some of us don’t have a need to explore it, if you feel like you do and would like to know about some of the coaching groups I’ll be starting based on this information, please shoot me a quick email with the words “nourishing wisdom” in the subject line and I will send you the latest info on upcoming groups.

What about you? Have you ever discovered a profound truth about yourself when you least expected it?

Share if you dare below.