Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Three Things You're Doing Wrong

I've done a lot of things wrong in my lifetime. I don't mean wrong in the conventional sense, but rather, I've wasted a lot of time spinning my wheels. I'm talking like, a shit ton of rubber burnin', time suckin', wheel spinnin'. So what have I earned for all this self-induced pain and stress? For starters, a Ph D in the art of self-analysis and the eternal pursuit of identifying one's life purpose. And for seconds, dessert and fifth meal, I've learned these three lessons that pretty much apply to you, me, yo' Momma, your brother, your best friend's brother and your dog. Scratch that dog part, he's probably got this shit figured out.

1. You're comparing yourself to other people way too freakin' much. 

Ever have this happen? You're going about your day, doing your thang, you're feeling alright... hell, you might even be having a great day, when BING-BANG-KA-POW! you see somebody post a Facebook status about how they're saving orphans in a third world country, while working on their start-up non-profit and oh yea, this weekend they spent a few hours scaling the mountains of Picachu that up until now have never been explored by modern man. Phhhffffft. That's the sound of your sails, your ego and your mojo deflating.

Life is not a competition. And if you insist on looking at it as such, you're going to be a hamster on a wheel chasing someone else's dream day-in and day-out without any real idea what you're working towards. Believe me and my incredibly sore legs. If you're an aggressive, masochist (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything), then might I suggest a little flip of the switch, if it's gotta be a competition, treat it as one with yourself and no one else. What are you going to do today that scares you? Gets you closer to your goal? Moves you? Stretches you? Pushes you towards that precipice you've only been brave enough to tip toe around until now. Forget everyone else, clear them out of your head and determine what you need to roll in to your grave feeling supremely, bad-assedly content without anyone else's standards imposed upon you.

That is what you need to focus on. Not that perfect bitch who is saving dolphins, or were they babies? Quit putting your energy where it doesn't belong and take it from someone much wiser than myself, Teddy says it best:

2. You're letting a past choice mess with - or worse - dictate your present (which also screws with your future, btw). 

I said I've screwed up a bunch, right? I'm a pro on this one. So you made some bad choices, you did some stupid shit, you may have even really hurt some other people, or worst of all, you may have really disappointed yourself in epic ways. It happens. Life is messy and it sure as shit isn't easy. And you know what, I'm not even a believer that life is beautiful, but there are parts of life that are really unbelievably rad - and yes - beautiful.

Here's my favorite one: every single second you get to reinvent your life. Every... single... second... zzzziiiip there goes another one, zzzzzinng here comes another one! You get to make choice after choice after choice and reinvent your story more times than the one and only, Madge (that's Madonna for those of you not in the know). A simple and powerful truth you've got to force yourself to actively practice is this: your past does not dictate your present and it does not hold power over your future but that is ONLY and I stress ONLY IF you make the conscious choice to kick your past in to the rear view mirror and leave it there.

Learn what you were meant to learn, don't be a glutton for pain, and move the fuck* on. You keep dragging it forward it's going to repeat itself in your here, now and future. And you deserve a life that's a hell of a lot better than some nagging backseat driver who can't handle you taking the turns with the windows down and the radio up.

3. You're not happy enough. Worse yet, you think unhappiness is normal.

John knew it and so does the Dalai Lama, what the hell is the point of being here at all and exerting all of this energy if we're miserable as fuck?**

 How many conversations do you have that go something like this: 

"How was your day?"
"Eh... you know... it was... okay. Another day, another dollar."  

What if this was your LAST day? What if this was your LAST day and you didn't know it and THAT was how you spent it? Seriously, that would supremely suck balls. 

So many of us are moving through our days doing what we think we need to do, or what we should do, and most of us are doing it for seemingly good reasons: our family, stability, security, healthcare, a nice house, a better car.... but what does it all amount to? 

I'll tell you what it amounted to for me: a life of sleepwalking, half-living, working for the weekend and those short doses where I got to "escape" real life in exchange for the vacation I worked so hard for to enjoy "the good life" for a week. Then I went home and did it all over again... and again... and again... for years. This is absolute madness. And it's depressing as fuck.***

There's gotta be a better way.

Guess what? There is.  You've got to find whatever the hell it is you can't go a day without thinking about, doing, reading about, learning about, fixating on and find a way to make that thing your job. I know that's a major simplification. But that truly is the moral of the story. 

You might have to walk away from your bangin' wardrobe, your overflowing house and "downgrade" for the sake of your new pursuit, but none of that stuff is making you happy anyway. Not beyond a temporary fix, anyway. George is going to take it home for me now because I've got some living to do. 

Go out there and get yours!

Signing off for now... 


Ps - if you liked this post, I'd love if you would pass it along and share with some friends. 

And, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic... for real, I'd love to hear your comments and you can bet I'll answer every one of them. 

*sorry, that one required aggressive language.
**my bad, that one needed some, too. 
***consider it a trifecta. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cutting Off the Tags

Last week while working a shift at the incomparable lululemon, my kick ass store manager moseyed over and asked me to look at one of our studly male mannequins. I obliged. She was curious if anything caught my eye from a visual merchandising standpoint. I commented on a few kerfuffles - nothing major - a bunched up leg, a turned torso and then I saw it: the hang tag was flipped up over my man's waistband and half tucked in. It was causing a little bit of an unsightly tug on his drawers.

I pointed it out, we high-fived, we brought him down to fix the tag. None of this is earth shattering, I get that. Wait for it. Per usual, I'm trying to get somewhere by the most circuitous and least direct route. As I attempted to de-robe then re-dress this specimen, I realized there was no way for me to, a) tuck the tag in to his pocket so it wasn't showing, or b) tuck it in to the waistband without it causing some other sort of vis merch faux pas. I was rendered helpless. It truly was pathetic, cocked head, puzzled look on my face... the works.

Rather than stand there and waste more time, I asked my manager how she would solve the situation. She simply said, "no problem, cut the hang tag off and re-tag it how you need to."

TA-DA! Well, that was easy. And genius.

She said it so nonchalantly, and to her sublime credit, did not make me feel like a dumb ass for not coming to this conclusion all by my grown-ass-woman-self.

Fast forward an hour later when I was on my break just letting my mind wander. For some reason I found myself still thinking about that hunky, shirtless plastic torso and his tight buns and how silly it seemed that I hadn't thought to just cut the damn tag off and be my own knight in shining armor. I can't say with absolute certainty why my brain didn't register that solution, but this is my blog, so hell, I'm going to give it a shot anyway. So there.

  • I was "talking problems, not solutions." As a good friend of mine likes to say, "let's talk solutions, not problems." He's a smart guy. And I think he's really on to something. How often do you find yourself looking at a situation and just fixating on the problem? That nasty hang tag... too short to tuck in and too far away from the pocket to hide. Rather than look at that situation and think beyond the obvious solutions - which were doing nothing for me - I just sat there in one-dimensional, black and white land. You know what it sounds like in that land? Something like this, "well if the hang tag is here... and the waist band is there... and the pocket is way the hell over there.... sonofa... this isn't ever going to reach... somebody cocktail me. STAT!" 
This is classic linear thinking. It lacks creativity. It lacks energy. And to some extent, it is so reliant on "common sense" that it fails at the very thing it's in dire need of: common sense. For instance, true common sense would've led me to walk over to the desk, grab the scissors and tagging gun, cut that tag off, and re-tag the pants from the inside out.

Boom.The Earth may have shattered. Minds definitely would've been blown. And I'm pretty sure babies and angels would've clapped and sung in unison.

But it's not just a lack of creativity or an abundance of linear thinking that I believe led to my inability to solve my own problem. There was also something else at play...
  • I was too busy "following the rules." Although I knew that hang tag was making my man's pants look fuuunky, I assumed that someone had tagged the pants that way with good reason. And truly, someone probably had. The tag was in the "right place" (in a seam, opposite a sensor, etc.) I don't know if I didn't want to offend someone else's work, or if it simply didn't enter my brain to negate the usual placement parameters. But, I do know this: I was too busy following a guideline that in this instance should be broken, to come up with the optimal solution.
This is straight up lack of problem solving skills and perhaps, a slight lack in confidence. What can I say... I've been out of the academic realm for nearly ten years and my critical thinking and problem solving isn't what it once was. But even more than that, I was so worried about doing things "by the book" that it didn't enter my consciousness that in this instance, I would actually be doing a hindrance to the situation by following the standard operating procedures.

So let me leave you with this question: where in your life are you staring at an unsightly hang tag and scratching your head at the apparent "solutions?" Hint: they probably aren't really solutions if you're still standing there jaw agape. Go find the scissors. Abandon the rule. And above all else: be your own hero. Remember, nobody can save a damsel that creates her own distress.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Snack Pack of Life Lessons, Get 'Em While They're Hot!

Lately I am uncovering nuggets of inspiration and wisdom just about everywhere. They all could probably warrant their own blog post. But until I find a surplus of Shelleys hanging around, I'm going to share these nuggets as such, quick bites best enjoyed warm. So, rather than lose track of all these goodies, I'm serving you up a three-piece, snack pack style. Holla.

1. Your comfort zone is comfy. Which means it could have holes in it just like your other favorite comfy things (blankies, sweats, pj's, you get the drift).

I've trained four new clients recently. All four of them had never done a CrossFit-style workout in their life. They put their trust in me to try something new. This, is gettin' out of your comfort zone defined and personified. The lesson? If we focus on what we've always done, where we're always been, the places we know, the experiences that are familiar, hell the food we've always eaten or the friggin' colors we've always worn, we will be who we've always been. And most of us aren't satisfied with that. Most of us want to evolve. I'm talkin' next level shit.

Staying in our comfort zone means creating a one-dimensional version of our life. It means choosing to make our world smaller and confining rather than limitless and abundant. As Socrates said about life, the secret is to focus all of our energy not on fighting the past, but on building the new. If you want to change something about your life, quit beating yourself up about the past, quit staying committed to what feels comfortable and go do something the old you wouldn't normally do. And you know what, you'll inspire someone in the process. I guarantee it. All four of those "new clients" of mine, they absolutely showed me the best of the human spirit.

2. Sometimes you need to force yourself in to the present. Hey that sounds pretty counterintuitive, doesn't it? Yep. It sure does.

Here's the deal, sometimes our minds are a runaway train. Just like the one Soul Asylum sang about, this runaway train ain't a good thing and it ain't pretty. I hear it wears flannel and hasn't washed its hair in weeks. That said, sometimes you just need to slap yourself in to the HERE and NOW and quit thinking about the bills you need to pay, the laundry you didn't fold, the deadline breathing down your neck... you need to just shut that damn to do list up and bring yourself back to this fact: you are breathing, you are alive, and nothing is anywhere near as important as it seems.

Last week I had a really stressful couple of days that kept piling up on each other. Finances, emotions, business, you name it, I was stressing. Then I watched the movie Life of Pi. Boom. Reset button. Engaging with something so beautiful and captivating as that film forced me in to the present and reminded me to chill the eff out. After all, I'm not stranded at sea on a life boat with a tiger. Enough said. When you find yourself tail spinning I know it can take everything in your power to switch gears and quit focusing on whatever it is that seems like it needs all of your attention at that moment, but I guarantee you if you can find the wherewithal to do so, you will thank yourself. And you will reapproach that to do list like a new woman. Or man. Or tiger. 

3. The choice to be in the service of another human being and really be there for them, can change their entire life.

During the recent stress fest I mentioned above, a relative stranger (my "tax guy" at H&R block) took the time to ease my mind not just about my taxes, but about my choices in life (to go out on my own as an entreprenuer) and my financial future ("you're in start-up mode, don't worry"). He kept me calm. He's continuing to fight for money I'm owed. He did it with a sense of humor, he stayed up late to work on it, he emailed me to reassure me and he did it with such grace.Then he told me he felt like he could talk to me forever and I seemed like the daughter he never had. Not gonna lie, I pretty much started crying in his cube.

This man changed my world that day and taught me a lesson in customer service humanity. Being in service of others - whether it's your job, a volunteer opportunity, your family or friends - is different than being there to do what you're "supposed to." One is an obligation the other is a choice and an act of grace. I've got my work cut out for me, but thanks to Mr. McLemore from H&R Block for setting such a fine example.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Letting It All Hang Out

A weekend of decadence is upon us. This is a time when nearly everyone – Irish or not – OU Bobcat or not (hey, St. Pats in the Flats, what up!!) March Madness fan or not, tends to mutha eff’ing TIE IT ON. Tying it on once in awhile rules. In fact, I recommend it. Life can’t be a constant state of minding your p’s and q’s. Get crazy. Let your hair down. Hell, make out with a stranger or five. BUT… if you’re going to do this, then do it without bullshit regrets and beating yourself up come Monday. Do it. Mean it. Enjoy it. Get it out of your system. NEXT.

I had a friend years ago that would continuously beat herself up for decisions she willingly, consciously (okay, maybe sometimes they weren’t totally conscious) made, to “live it up and cut loose.” It got to the point where I’d ask her before she made these decisions, “okay, have at it, but are you going to be able to look at this with no regrets come Monday? If so, rock it. If not, perhaps it’s not the right decision for you.”
To that very point: this weekend, and any and every other weekend or weekday for that matter, I want to give you permission to say yes or no to whatever presents itself to you with free reign, using two gut check rules first:
  1. Will I feel good about this tomorrow?
  2. Will this opportunity present itself to me again or is this a “once in a lifetime?”
Now, once you’ve asked yourself question 1, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do something just because you realize that you won’t feel good about it tomorrow. Case in point, I drank a bottle of champagne on my birthday chased with Fireball whisky knowing full well I would NOT feel good about it the next day. However, asking ourselves this first question allows us to begin changing our habits by becoming cognizant of our behavior. And, over time, realizing what is and is not working for us.
Far too often we just “do” or “act” out of habit. It’s St. Paddy’s Day so I’m going to go get wasted and chase it down with a Panini and a cupcake (or wait, is that just my old patterns?) because it’s what we’ve always done. But here’s the thing, most of us don’t want to just be who we’ve always been. We’ve got goals, dreams, things we want to change and kick ass at. And, let me tell you what I know, if you do what you’ve always done you will BE who you’ve always been, seeing the results (or lack thereof) you have always had (or not had).
As for question 2, ask yourself this question when evaluating the decision, options, choices, etc. in front of you after asking yourself question 1, and here’s why: very often we look at an indulgence or an opportunity to overdo it with our “everyone is doing it” blinders on. When we think or feel that “everyone else is doing this, I should be allowed to, too,” we’re not really acting in accordance with our own wants and needs. Again, we are acting habitually and without being totally present.
A great gal pal and I sat down for coffee a few months ago and she was explaining to me how she felt she had finally gotten her relationship with food under control and had found some thinking patterns that helped her. One of them resonated with me so loudly and has become a piece of advice I pass on to others, she said: “I tell myself that the food isn’t ‘calling to me,’ I’m consciously making the choice to go to it. When I realize that, I realize I have the power and it takes the power away from whatever thing it was I wanted to unnecessarily consume.”

Now you can switch out “food” with just about any other vice, but the point is, when you realize you have the power to choose, it’s just that: powerful. And that's what you become: more empowered. No longer do you just have to act the way you have in the past or “cave” to some impulse. However, there’s a part two, to this point: when you ask yourself whether or not the opportunity or indulgence in front of you is a “once in a lifetime” or, if it’s something that will be around again, it makes you realize you don’t always need to give in to whatever urge you are feeling.
Let me give you another real life example. I came home last night after working a jam packed 18 hour day. I was ravenous. But it was also midnight and I know how counterproductive to my overall goals, chowing down at that hour would be. I walked in the house resolved that I wasn’t going to eat at that hour. And then… there they were: two golden, chocolate chip cookies plump with great, big chocolate chunks gazing longingly at me from the kitchen counter. Almost immediately I went to tear open that Ziploc baggy like a rabid animal. But, somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I remembered a little mantra I use sometimes when I’m lacking discipline: “will (insert indulgence here: chocolate chip cookies in this case) be around tomorrow? Will I have the opportunity in this lifetime to enjoy them again?”

When I deploy this little trick it reminds me that all the tasty treats and vices I crave so dearly, are not just going to up and vanish and never be available to me again. Once again, this allows me to take power of the situation. Basically the thought goes like this: “hey Shelley! Donuts are still in fact, going to be around for the next 50 years, don’t sweat it, you’ll get to have one at some point!”

Realizing whatever it is that you want at that moment isn’t going to vanish from the face of the earth forever, it makes you much more aware and you can actually decide whether it’s really a time you want to indulge that craving or if you’re in full throttle impulse/reactive mode.

All this said, I have been a hedonist almost all of my life. I do what I want to (for the most part), when I want to, with whom I want to. And I can honestly say, I haven’t really ever felt bad about that. It’s my life, I’m living it the way I want to and that works for me. Sometimes I haven’t loved all the decisions I’ve made, but hey they’re mine and I willingly made them. So, I am mighty fine with chalking it up and moving on.
However, as I work with more and more people, what I’m coming to realize is that the “going off the rails and doing whatever I want” types of weekends/moments, are not something very many of us can live with guilt free. And actually, most people feel like shit the very next day (whether physically, emotionally or worst of all, on both fronts) and wish they hadn’t gone as far as they had in their revelry.
So, if you happen to be one of these folks, I will leave you with this: ask yourself those two questions this weekend when setting your parameters for your debauchery. Once you’ve made conscious choices (versus operating on autopilot), then I say go for it – whether that’s falling face first in to Irish Car Bombs and corned beef all day or treating yourself to a hike outdoors and an early bed time.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shelley on Commitment...

Throughout my life, I have always thought of myself as something of a commitment-phobe. You know, a "like to leave my options open," kind of gal. And I'm not just talking about my relationships with the fellas, this goes for jobs, cities I've lived in, hair colors, and most definitely paint choices. I'm notorious for repainting the same room four times in a row because something just wasn't quite right. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a serial monogamist. I know how to be in it. I know how to stay faithful. I got that part down.(Of note: Cleveland I have NEVER cheated on you. Not even when Chicago showered me with extravagant gifts or Austin flashed it's pearly whites and hot bod at me). What I hadn't quite figured out up until recently, was how to first, choose wisely and then take that leap of faith and quit wondering what or who is around the next corner.

Lately, as I talk to more and more people, I feel like this topic of commitment is rearing its head more than a desperate bridesmaid elbowing for the bouquet. It seems there's some kind of a tipping point buzzing right now. A precipice of change that many are teetering right on the brink of. To truly commit and do something all the way or, to pump the brakes and keep it casual.

As I type this, today is my one year anniversary with my dude. Far and away, our duo has been the best thing I've done in the past 365. The guy is the real deal and he somehow manages to put up with me with not only a smile on his face, but the patience of a saint. Whoever I did some favors for in a past life, sexual or otherwise, it was totally worth it. I digress. Celebrating this milestone personally, and all this buzz about commitment around me, I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned about commitment and the perks of saying yes to one at the expense of many.

Freedom at last! I'm not going to waste your time, let's just cut right to the good stuff - the biggest shocker I've found as I learn to embrace commitment is this: it is mother eff'ing liberating. Whoomp there it is. Once you truly decide to go all in on something, someone, some decision, you clear up all of that head space, pain, waffling, indecision, etc. to now let yourself go forward and make progress. Committing - and truly meaning it - is the equivalent of giving all of the "what if's? coulda's, woulda's and shoulda's" that full 2 tablespoon dosage of NyQuil. Those bad boys are put to bed.

I remember reading that human beings can really only process so many choices before we become overwhelmed. At a certain point, being presented with more options only serves to stress us out. There was some pretty rad research done - using the cereal aisle and the never-ending array of choices - that illuminated this finding. If you are constantly perusing the options and never choosing or you're constantly buying one box, tossing it after a bowl and buying another, you're either going to end up starving or go broke with a pantry full of halfsy boxes.

When you decide to quit dipping your toe in the water and to jump on in, it is scary as hell but it is also freeing. If you're anything like me, and you're prone to over-analyzing, there is magic in committing because it renders your "mull this over a million different ways" button, paralyzed. No doubt, there's a bit of an "oh shit, did I just do that?" moment. But the beauty of it is that now you can make progress and quit spinning your wheels. I often remind myself to stay focused on progress and not motion. Motion is running around like a chicken with its head cut off but not ever getting anywhere. Progress on the other hand is motion with purpose. You get somewhere. And in order to get somewhere, you've got to commit to going there.

For some people, it's the making of the decision that is the toughest part. Once they've made up their mind, they are like a dog with a bone and they are full throttle at getting after it. For others, they can commit, but it's the follow through that trips them up. Think celebrity marriages: these people aren't afraid to go all in, they just can't go the distance. Here's the thing...

Commitment requires loyalty. As I was surfing for some inspirational quotes this week I came across this gem: "commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you."

Bam. Boom. Pow. So that happened.

I couldn't possibly have said it better. If making a conscious and concerted choice is step one of commitment, then follow-through is step two. Let me illustrate this with an example that I have played out in my life a million times. I think to myself how badly I want to take control of my health and really rock some physical goals. So, I commit. I get more focused in my exercise habits. I clean up my diet. Things are going pretty good! Then all of  sudden I'm presented with the weekend... well shoot, my friends are all going to watch some football, followed by an impromptu pub crawl chased down with a DQ run on the way home?! How in the hell am I going to say no to that?!

Here's when one of two things happens: you stay loyal or you cheat. At this point, the mood with which you decided you want to "get healthy" has long passed and now you're faced with sticking to your guns or explaining why you're coming home with soft serve stains on your collar and a plastic, red spoon sticking out of your pocket. It's tough. It's embarrassing and most of all, it hurts. And it hurts because it's a disappointment. But this isn't the end of the story.

Like any relationship - whether with another human being or with ourselves - slip ups happen. It's weathering those slip ups that truly tests our character and dedication. Which brings us to my third and final lesson.

The difference between being interested in something and being committed to something is "habit investment." I won't front that I invented that awesome term "habit investment" - I'll give those props to the blog where I read about this concept (which is well worth the read). What I'm getting at is this: if you're interested in something you do it for awhile until you become disinterested and give it up for something else. If you're committed to something it becomes a lifestyle.

A lifestyle requires that you habitually build and foster it. You need to be vigilante in not just creating it, but also in care-taking it. No one is going to babysit it for you and no one can build it but you. This my friends, is true, unadulterated, real, raw investment and commitment.

I challenge you to look at your life and where you're playing at only 50%, 75%, hell, 90% of your max and figure out what's holding you back. This is YOUR life and you only get one go-around at it. Make the decision to commit to the things you've only let yourself dream you could be or accomplish and then begin investing in the habits that can turn that dream from a figment to a reality. Just think, every day you invest in that dream you are already living its reality. Now that is awesome. No waiting to tick some arbitrary goal with a finite deadline off your list, this is a LIFEstyle, and therefore, goes on for LIFE. The second you start, you are in it, baby! So go, GO, go and get busy living it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Born to Do It

There's an R&B singer out of the UK - Craig David - who debuted the most kick ass R&B album in 2000 titled "Born to Do It." Get those little minds out of the gutter, friends... I know what you're thinking... "R&B?" "Born to do it?" "Sexxxxy time!" But I"m fairly certain he didn't mean knocking the boots. I think it was about being in the flow, you know, "in the zone" and being born to do something. Or so that's what I've decided he meant. I have no clue what the hell Craig David went on to do, but let me tell you what, "Born to Do It" was a smash success and that dude was definitely meant to DO that album. Trust, this is going somewhere, stick with me.

I held on to that album title in the recesses of my brain somewhere for the past 13 years. It surfaces once in awhile when I least expect it. The whole sassy, bravado of just owning something, being "born to do it," is a concept I really dig. But it's also a concept that requires two things that aren't quite so sexy: responsibility and courage. And for that, actually going out there and "doing it," often gets sidelined in exchange for just "doing something." If you'd be so kind as to lay down sit down beside me, let's share a little pillow talk before we go do it, shall we?

Sorry, had to dim the lights.

Okay, so here's what I know about "doing it:"

It is a responsibility that you must figure out. Welcome to the human race! You - yes YOU - are perfect in all your creation and were born to do something. Well that's pretty kick ass, right? But here's the rub, you owe it to the universe and whoever you pray to or give a shout out to, to fulfill that purpose. Now, don't get me wrong, figuring out what that purpose is, can be a real challenge. For me, that's been my Everest. I've always known I was meant to do something but I just couldn't pinpoint what. I could identify aspects of what I thought I was meant to do (help others, spread goodness, etc.) but it was like a magic eye. I saw a lot of fuzz. Nothing was popping out and revealing itself to me. So, I consistently told myself I didn't know what my purpose was yet, so I couldn't get started.

Now, let's all go ahead and do what needs to be done with that kind of thinking, let's call bullshit. Because that's exactly what that is. Here's the reality, this is life, and the whole picture doesn't present itself to you until you're sliding in to home in a pine box or urn. So if you're going to wait for your nicely wrapped purpose to show up, then just go lay down in that box now, because you're resolving yourself to not really living at all. I can hear you now, "okay, fine Shelley, so what do I do then?" Lucky for you, I came prepared for that question: you start by doing something that resembles an aspect of what you think your purpose is.

Let me give you a real life example, I want to be the next Oprah. Kind of a tall order, but I'm game for the challenge. So, how do I get started on that? For me, it means writing, being a passionate and curious listener and engaging with life as much and as attentively as possible. Have I built my do-gooder, Harpo empire yet? Not quite. But I am ten times happier than I was when I was "waiting to start," and I'd like to think I'm actually providing some benefit to the universe by being tuned in, open to, and helping others. And for that, I'm pretty certain I'm a few slides of the game piece closer to the purpose jackpot in this game of life.

It takes courage to leave your legacy. My mom and I were chatting this morning as I came home fired up from an awesome brunch where I was sharing some of my dreams and goals, with an amazing new friend. I was really selling my dream and my buzz to my mom... curls were bouncing, hands were flailing, eyes were wide, this was real deal, Shelley at a 10.0 on the scale. Somehow, my mom found a way to pipe up in the midst of all that Shelley and said: "when you were two months old I was at a party where they had a psychic. He looked at me and told me that I had a new baby that was going to be a helper of many people."

In that very moment I was a flood of thoughts and feelings. The magic eye got clear for a minute, Craig David's cd fell out of the backpack of my brain revealing its title, and I may or may not have gotten a little misty-eyed. Here's the deal guys, you can't possibly get to where you're meant to be going and leave that big, bad legacy that we all have within us if you're so afraid of letting your feet leave sure footing. It's just a fact of life: good stuff requires work. Great stuff requires risk. And ultra-life-changing-bad-ass-living-it-up stuff requires a lot of both: work and risk.

If you get nothing out of this post - other than the fact that I have amazing taste in early 2000's R&B and I have drank far too much caffeine today - take this: do one thing today that feels like it resembles an aspect of your purpose in some way, shape or form. At the end of the day, ask yourself if you're sorry you did that thing? You won't. Then, go do it again tomorrow, and the next day, add another thing the third day (you can see where this is going...) As one of my good friends recently shared with me, "little by little a little becomes a lot."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Art of Savoring the Moment

Today, I'm the birthday girl, and yes, I am one of those people who celebrates her birthday for like three weeks. I think this is from my past life in corporate marketing... you need an ample promotional period leading up to the big day to hype the crowd and then you need appropriate wind down time afterward to collect the delayed responders. I'm kidding. Sort of. Not really.

It's not that I need big fanfare. I don't. It's that I love to throw a theme party, get others jazzed and find a reason to savor the moment. Birthdays - mine or anyone else's for that matter provide the perfect platform to do all of those things. So today I had all kinds of buzzing energy and couldn't sleep - so why bother! I got up at 2:45 a.m. since it seemed like the perfect opportunity to accomplish the baking experiment that didn't get ticked off my to do list yesterday. In the wee hours of the dark, rainy (but fairly balmy!) morning, I drove to two 24-hour grocery stores to pick up my ingredients. Now normally, if a grocery store doesn't have everything I'm looking for, my head begins to rotate and I turn in to my evil twin "Michelle." Today? No ma'am. Today I took the opportunity to savor the drive to the other grocery store and listened to some new tunes in the car.

It was glorious. I cracked the windows and let some fresh chilly air in and I sang as I drove. Not my usual loud, crazy, maniacal singing, this was different. It was pure contentment. I perused the aisles at grocery store numero two and still didn't find what I was looking for. Oh well. This gave me the perfect opportunity to stray from the recipe I had earmarked and develop my own creation. See what I did there? Managed to take adversity and turn it in to an opportunity to roll with it and get creative. And the magic muffins I came up with, while they aren't going to win any awards, I wouldn't kick them out of bed, either. Not to mention, those little muffins provided the perfect chance to drop some goodies off to friends throughout the day.

After coming home and making the world's strongest french press - which I inhaled deeply upon plunging and let roll on my palate as I sipped - (see that? I savored again.) - I began my baking experiment. I threw a load of laundry in. And before I knew it, it was time for my 6 a.m. Pure Barre class. Now normally I do a pretty damn good job of enjoying my exercise regimen. As with anything, some days are easier than others, but today I dialed the 'eff in and had the world's best work out. I felt long, lean, flexible, happy, strong. I felt strong even when I was shaking. I savored the shake. I savored the stretch. I savored the sweat on my brow. I ate it all up with a giant-sized-pink-birthday-Shelley spoon (think one of those cute Baskin Robbins spoons, but not nearly as likely to cut your tongue on a rogue, unfinished edge). Marvelous.

As I drove home from class one of my favorite jams at the moment popped up on my playlist. It was "The" perfect soundtrack to my day, to the moment, to the art of the savor. With lyrics like "hold on when you get love and let go when you give it," it embodied exactly what it means to savor. To live gracefully. To live in the moment. To be at one with the world around you. And to just generally kick ass as a human being making happiness where you find it. If you think about that idea: holding on to the love you are given (in other words the good stuff) and to be sure you let go completely when you give love (in other words, giving with no strings attached or a sense of expectation) you could probably rule your own little world pretty awesomely.

Alright, I'm off to savor some more. Breakfast with my bro, his wife, my nephew and my mom. This birthday already is blowing this crazy mop top back. And on this my 32nd birthday, I am holding on to all the love everyone is sending my way and you bet your tight, toned buns I'm letting go cheerfully as I beam it back out in to the universe to you all! Cheers babes and dudes!