Deliberately Taking the Hard Way

I spent this morning playing at the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. If you haven’t been, go. I don’t care how old you are, you need to experience it at least once in your lifetime. It’s basically a large welded windy weird and wonderful playground for kids of all ages (and that includes grown-ass kids aka adults).

My body is sore and I have bruises everywhere. I loved it.

All around the City Museum are choices. The whole experience is really just a series of choices. From the moment you walk in, you choose which area you’re going to explore. They’re mostly interconnected, but unless you’re an expert at it, you don’t always know where one place will lead you.

There are all kinds of choices in every area. You can stay on the outside and enjoy some of the sights and sounds available from outside of the jungle gym-style area. Or you can take some of the easier stairs and other routes that don’t require too much physical work. Or, you can take some of the more mysterious and exciting tunnels that are often dark and confusing and it’s purposely unclear where they lead.

That’s my favorite mode. Go the hardest and weirdest route I can find. If it looks like I *might* even be able to get through, I’m trying.

It’s by far the most fun.

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I feel like we often choose the easier route in whatever decision we’re making. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel some ease and some flow into your life. I’m not saying we have to choose hard things because we need to feel like something is difficult to get enjoyment out of it. But I do think sometimes we miss out by choosing the path we can see and/or the one of least resistance. 

Resistance can be good for us. It can be good to us. It’s a wonderful teacher that forces us to push ourselves to the limits. And, in those limits, we can see the truth… which is that they aren’t really limits after all. They’re just arbitrary limits we set on ourselves.

I mean, sure, sometimes you actually can’t fit in a tunnel. Your body is physically too big to get through a space. I get that. But for the most part, you are able to do a lot more than you thin you can. You’re able to push yourself past where you think your own boundaries are. Then those new further boundaries become the new goal to push past as you continue to grow and change.

I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot. I don’t always love to do things that I do. I do love the growth that comes from choosing to do them. And so I get over the petty hurdle of actually doing whatever it is I’m doing in order to reap the hefty benefits.

For example, when I’m in my routine (and not traveling like a maniac), I’m a very early riser. I get up, journal, meditate, read, go to the first yoga class of the day, then come back and start my day with my family. By the time 9 or 10 am hits, I’ve accomplished so much, had a ton of quality time, and my brain is ready to be incredibly productive for a while.

But let me be clear: I don’t like getting up early. I don’t like anything about it. I need my sleep, so in order to sustainably get up early, I go to bed early. This means I miss out on a lot of things. And if I have to be out, I’m often tired too late into the night. I love to sleep in and I don’t always get to cuddle with my dogs or my hubs first thing in the morning. Instead, my ass is out of bed quickly so my alarm doesn’t wake them.

And I don’t like it. But I do love what it gives me so I do it anyway.

At the City Museum, I don’t actively think “I can’t wait to bruise my knees and body as I attempt to go through this tiny tunnel.” Instead I think, “Oh, that’ looks fun I wonder what wonders that will lead me to.” And I take it.

Even if that tunnel turns out to pop up right next to a really easy path, I enjoyed my harder road because I knew it challenged me. And I got to see something others won’t. And I got to push myself past my own boundaries. And, hell, sometimes taking the longer route is fun just for the whimsy of it – and whimsy doesn’t have to explain itself to you or anyone else.

I’m not saying make your life hard. But I guess I am saying if opportunities that might be more challenging arise, think about what lies on the other side of them. If it’s worth it, do it.

There’s only so much satisfaction that can come from coasting.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that seems to fit this perfectly:

A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

 

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Enjoying the Garden

I got a piece of advice recently that I’ve been absolutely obsessed with.

I don’t really feel like giving you the full context of how I got this advice. Not out of laziness. I think just out of boundaries. As my ongoing readers already know, I’m working on learning boundaries.

Anyway, I had sought out a person with more knowledge in a certain field than me and was asking them for help with various elements of something I’m working on. Yes. I can say that. That feels fine. And, it’s true!

This person was talking about a few creative projects I had been focusing on lately and they very casually reminded me of a wonderful lesson. They used a happy woman in the garden as the metaphor and told me that the woman in the garden isn’t out there yelling at her plants to grow faster. She’s simply taking care of their needs little by little. She’s not overdoing it. She’s not constantly replanting. She’s simply enjoying her time in the garden.

By nature, I am a very fast-moving person. I like to see results quickly. Even though I’m aware that the most dramatic changes in my life happened gradually, my natural personality likes to see something happen fast. And I’m sure living in a society that’s grown accustomed to immediate gratification at every turn certainly doesn’t help.

So the idea of a woman just enjoying time in her garden was so powerful to me. And the ridiculousness of her yelling at her plants to grow faster feels like it puts a mirror on my own actions and helps remind me to just be more pleasant and more present.

Yelling at plants is a waste of energy and goes against the natural order of nature. Why, then, do I insist on thinking that I, a human existing in nature, somehow can control my own circumstances and force them to go against the natural flow of nature? Like the woman yelling at her plants in the garden, all I’m doing is getting myself all worked up in a tizzy and frustrating myself while not allowing the plants to do their thing because I can’t just leave them be.

I’m not saying I do it all the time. But I certainly feel the impulse to do it often.

I’ve decided, then, to start simply enjoying my time in the garden. I can recognize the garden needs tending while not overdoing it while I also simply enjoy the seeds as they grow and stay present in the delights that the garden has to offer and the relaxation gardening can bring.

The feels good. That feels right. So that’s what I think I’m going to do.

On Not Being Liked

I think a friend of mine is upset with me.

It’s unclear to me if perhaps this is the case or if perhaps I’m misinterpreting a number of signals. When his actions first shifted shortly after we were creating something together in a larger group, I asked him about it. In fact, because of his energy shift, I asked him several times in different, varying ways. I wasn’t confrontational. I attempted to be constructive. I kept it lighthearted. Then I let it go.

Recently, I saw him again. And either he’s always been someone who avoids eye contact and only answers in one word answers and I was only make-believing I’d both gotten eye contact and full sentences before or he’s recently shifted into someone who doesn’t prefer eye contact and only likes one word answers. Or, maybe, he’s mad at me. It’s excruciatingly hard to tell. His wife makes eye contact with me. She smiles. She answers things. But he has stopped and I don’t know what triggered it.

But I’m not going to spend any time trying to figure it out. Aside from the fact that I am only a passing acquaintance with this person and they’re nowhere near my inner circle, this is not something that I need to investigate. But more importantly, I’m not going to invest any energy figuring it out because, at my core, I don’t care.

Why not?

Two reasons that are my happy learning lessons from this current experience:

1. He’s a grown ass man.

He is allowed to have feelings. If I have wronged him somehow, which would have been done accidentally and (quite literally) while playing around, he could talk to me about it if he wanted to. He could have also reached out in any number of options I gave him when later discussing it lightly. If he doesn’t have the emotional capacity to do this, that’s not my problem. And if he wants to hold a grudge for something I’m absolutely not clear on, that’s also not my problem. How people choose to feel is up to them and them alone. It is not my problem.

2. I can’t please everybody.

This is actually the harder lesson for me.

I’m generally what people would describe as “likable.” I wear this like a superpower. I lean into it when I’m feeling insecure. I trust it when I’m in precarious situations. I enjoy having lots of friends in different groups. It’s a comfort blanket for me. And “likable” is only one shade away from “people pleaser.” And for a long time in my life, those two things went hand in hand.

So it has been a harder lesson to learn that I can’t please everybody. Even (and especially) if I’m just being myself and being true to myself. That doesn’t mean I go out of my way to upset people. And it doesn’t mean I’m not open to having conversations if lines are crossed. In fact, I’ve gotten really open to it. It’s part of how I continue to be my most authentic self. It doesn’t mean I’ll always listen or care what you say (that honor is reserved for very few people out of self preservation). But we can talk about any miscommunications. I can take notes and learn. I can be more aware.

We can all always grow.

Even with all that, you simply cannot please everybody.

When I was in high school, I was generally liked. I remember senior year, there was this one girl who did not like me. It was a smaller school. We all knew each other. I tried my best to go out of my way to be liked. Even so, she probably had her valid reasons. And I didn’t have the emotional or self-awareness tools I now do to confront her. Not that it may have done any good anyway. Despite that, it bothered me. It deeply bothered me.

When someone used to not like me, I would obsess over it. I would wonder what I did wrong and how I could right it. My ego would get so heavily involved that either I would bend over backwards to make them love me and maybe go out of my way to befriend all their close friends so they can’t help but be swayed to get back on “Team Briana.” Or, if all was lost and it was hopeless, I would convince myself of all the reasons they’re a terrible and horrible person and nobody likes them so it’s okay that they don’t like me because they’re wrong.

But as I’ve grown and as I’ve worked on myself, I see all that as exhausting ego exercise. So with this current situation, I’ve decided to simply let it be.

He can feel however he’d like to feel. He can even bad mouth me for all I care. I’ve considered bringing it up yet again when I see him based on our last cold interaction. But the truth is, I don’t care. And, honestly, I could be wrong. Maybe I’ve caught him at off times and am reading the situation wrong.

Whatever the case, it’s not worth the energy. I will continue to like him. I will continue to enjoy his company. Hell, I’ll even pretend I don’t notice how cold he’s being. I won’t go out of my way to make him love me. And I won’t go out of my way to convince myself he’s a cranky immature brat. I’ll just leave him to be a complicated human with his own thoughts and emotions and trust that I’m enough just as I am.

Because the truth is, I like myself. And, at the end of the day, that’s the only person whose opinion I actually give a shit about.

The Myth of the Life-Changing Moment

We have the pervasive story in our culture that is not only inaccurate, it’s destructive. We have this idea that in one given moment, everything can change. I get why we say it. And I get that there’s some truth behind it. But I’d like to at least challenge it because I think it’s unhealthy.

There’s a story about how the cast of Friends went out for drinks just before they began filming the show. The producers of the show told the whole crew that their lives would soon change. They were right. For many people, that’d be considered the life-changing moment.

In A Star is Born, Lady Gaga’s character (who cares WTF her name is in the movie itself, it’s Lady Gaga’s character) has a life-changing moment when she goes out on stage with Bradley Cooper’s character (again, I’m not going to take the time to look it up…okay I just remembered it was Jackson Maine but whatever, I’m sticking with Bradley Cooper’s character). He encourages her to sing her heart out. She does. She becomes a viral sensation and soon a superstar. All thanks to that life-changing moment.

But I believe that’s thinking of time as far too linear. There are a million small moments, opportunities, and choices that are made before that “life-changing moment” that made it possible in the first place. 

To take apart my own examples (which is why I used them in the first place), the cast of Friends didn’t have one night that everything changed. You could back up to the moment they auditioned for the show was a life-changing moment. Before that, the moment they got whatever representation that got them in the door of the audition was a life-changing moment. The day the decided to do the showcase or class or performance that got them noticed by that representation was a life-changing moment. The day they committed to becoming an actor was a life-changing moment. That time they had an intense rejection and considered quitting but didn’t is a life-changing moment. It could go on and on…

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Same with the character in A Star is Born. The day she sang was as much of a life-changing moment as the day she wrote the lyrics that Bradley Cooper’s character became enraptured by. The day she first started singing at the bar he met her at. The day she first started waitressing at the bar she’d eventually sing at. The day she met the friend who ushered Bradley Cooper into the bar and got him a drink so he’d watch her. The day she learned she liked to sing. These are all life-changing moments.

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The reason I find the myth of the life-changing moment so destructive is because I think it makes us spend our whole lives anxiously anticipating some big magic moment that really never comes because life is full of little magic moments happening constantly.

Sure, there are bigger opportunities that can exacerbate changes more dramatically – no denying that. But for the most part, those opportunities only come along because of a series of tiny decisions you make beforehand. And you’re only able to see and capture them because of the same series of tiny decisions you made up to that point.

We can never know where the magic will lead. So don’t miss out on the joy and excitement of the small miracles in hopes seeing a major one. The major one might feel even more joyous if you’ve recognized the small ones along the way.

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 102: Sh*t Happens

Back again, friends.

In this episode, we talk about Mercury Retrograding. (Yeah, it happens, sorry).

I mention finding perspective.

I give a quick shout out to my hubs.

I talk traveling.

I hint about an upcoming blog post you should check out (hey, get caught up here!).

And I generally discuss chilling out.

Mostly, I’m trying to make everyone a teacher and trying to make my acting teacher proud.

Or, maybe, just make my best self proud. Who knows.

Subscribing and rating helps out, friends. But you know what helps more than anything? You being you. So keep doing that.

xo

Emerging from the Cocoon

butterflyFor my consistent readers, you may recall that I recently posted about “Going in.” I was entering a phase of intense work on both my productivity and myself.

I thought I would come out in early December. Turns out, I’ve got more work to do.

While I already feel like I’ve made some progress, and I’m certainly working on some issues I knew I needed to work on while going in, I’m not in any big hurry to reenter society yet. Of course I’m still going out and working as usual in many ways, but it’s a mental attitude shift that I’m going through right now. I’m being extra aware of my emotions and mind and spending huge chunks of free time filling my brain with information. I’m taking extra time to work on me and reshaping my own foundation. And it turns out, it feels pretty good to take the time to do this. And there’s more work here than I anticipated. So I’m gonna stay in for a little while longer.

It’s like when you take your car in and get an estimate on some obvious damage, then when they actually open the car up they realize there’s a lot more damage than they anticipated and it’s gonna take longer than you thought. That’s what’s happening with me right now. At least that’s how I feel.

And that’s ok. We’re all damaged. I’m going through some serious physical and mental makeovers at the moment. We’re upgrading and prepping for the craziness ahead and I wanna make sure the car is in perfect working order before we go test the limits.

I’ll probably be here throughout the rest of the year. Don’t worry about me. In fact, maybe take some time for you. It’s not terrible here in the cave. Sure, emotions run rampant and there’s intense fear you’ve got to face head-on daily… but it’s kind of exhilarating, too.

Fake it to Make it

fake tanI’ve learned something this past year. It’s been a difficult lesson, but I’ve learned it daggumit.

It’s simply this: Sometimes you need to pretend that you already are what you want to become in order to convince yourself and others that you are what you believe you can become.

In other words- fake it til you make it.

Yes, it’s simple. Yes, tons of people have already written about it and talked about it. No, I’m not a revolutionary for coming up with it. But if you have any shred of midwestern humility in you, you know how difficult this can actually be.

Because you don’t want to become full of yourself. You don’t want to be ego-centric. You don’t want to lose sight of your foundation and your friends and your groundings and the reality of the situation around you.

But you do want to allow yourself to own and be proud of what you are and what you believe you can accomplish. And that, sometimes, require becoming a person you are not comfortable admitting you are.

It’s scary to push yourself beyond what you believed to be your limits. It’s scary to admit that you’re putting yourself out on the line. It’s scary to throw yourself in front of people and say “This is me! I believe in me!” People will try and tear you down. All the people on the sidelines who are too scared to become themselves will shift their attention from their own fears and put them onto you and try and tell you you’re not good enough or you can’t do what you believe you can.

But they’re wrong. You can do anything you believe you can do. And if you pretend you are something or someone and do everything in your power to convince yourself that you truly are that person, you will become it. It may take a while and will require some intense change and growing pains, but you’ll do it.

So visualize what you want to become and believe that you are that person. Live it. Breathe it. And then strap in because you’re in for a bumpy and wonderful ride.

Warning: Expect Delays Ahead

delaysFair warning: I have been a little inundated with tons of stuff on the plate. I do this to myself, but usually I can handle it all and keep up the productivity.

I have guests in town right now. My parents. Not just normal guests. My parents. I call it #ParentalDownpour. I’m noting it all on Facebook. It’s pretty amusing. For everyone else. It’s VERY REAL for me.

Anyway, as a result I’ve been spending more time focusing on hanging with my family and not being super productive. Still productive, but not super-productive.

All this to say… the regularly scheduled Femoir: The Podcasts are gonna be behind for a while. It’ll be about a bit before I get back to them. The expected return date is August 19th. I hope to do a marathon night so I can queue up a whole bunch so this doesn’t happen again.

Until then, there are 67 total episodes you can catch up on. Have you listened to them all? I didn’t think so. So how about you hold up your end of the bargain and use this time to catch up on all the wacky ramblings and the sillies I put out for you every week, and I’ll hold up my end by promising to return to your ear very soon.

That sounded weird. But I’m gonna go ahead and leave it.

I’m in your ear. Deal.

Productivity Princess

princessI wrote this article for Ms. In the Biz about being more productive.

6 Tips to Better Productivity

Read it. Learn from it. Talk to me about it.

Or don’t. It’s up to you.

Podcast Episode 67: Balance – Show Notes

elephant-balanceThe biggest takeaway from this Femoir: The Podcast episode, friends, is that finding balance is a journey not a destination.

I mention my day job. I work at the most fun Law Office in existence. I’m a lucky lady.

I talk about working out. If you read this blog, you know that I do that a lot anyway.

I also mention counting calories. I’ve written about how much I hate it before. I still hate it.

I mention the “All In” previous Femoir podcast, too.