Archives for imagination

I Gave Myself The Gift of Space

Cleaning by Duane Storey on Flickr

I just celebrated a milestone birthday, and while some people dread these milestones, I’m actually very optimistic about the decade ahead. There is a ritual I do every year on my birthday that makes me look forward to it every year, even as my age climbs.

Traditionally, I put up the Christmas tree, decorations, and lights on my brother’s birthday, December 3rd. There has always been a mild day approaching this date to be outside putting lights up, and a cold day or snowy/rainy where we (my kids and I – this is my husband’s busy season, so the holiday preparations are on me) move the toys, sort some into a donation pile to make room, and assemble our fake, but beautiful, Christmas tree. Every year, without fail, there are either extra branches or missing branches. I’ll never understand how that happens but accept it, just like socks disappearing in the wash.

Then from December 3rd on, I may add some accouterments, but we’re well decorated for a good three weeks before Christmas and by my daughter’s birthday, December 10th. With her birthday and then Christmas, space is difficult to find. We live in a small rancher (with a full basement – full in that it is the size of the first floor, but also full in that there isn’t much space down there.) By the time my birthday hits, I’m anxious to have more space. I at least need to do yoga without stuff invading my peace of mind.

While I appreciate white wall space and clear counters and tables, my husband is an accumulator. He’s one of 10 kids, and it never fails when I clear a space, he tends to fill it. We have accumulated a lot over the past 17 years in our house, and even though I started to get much better at cycling more out than in, we still have a LOT of stuff.

For my birthday every year, I make sure the outside decorations come down and get put away, the tree comes down, and the inside decorations go back down in the basement. We manage to find places to put some of the toys the girls received, and get a good idea of what still needs to be donated, which is my Martin Luther King, Jr. project.

I have heard, even recently when reading a blog about the secrets of tidy people, that some people attribute a clean home and empty space to a high-functioning mind, a moral person, or even a “good” family. I don’t make that connection. That seems very superficial and arbitrary to me.

My reality is, I don’t always have space. It feels like an everyday struggle to create space. I value empty space, organization, and order. At the same time, I love my husband, my kids, and my pets and I have had to compromise. My threshold for what I can tolerate in chaos an disorder is much higher than it used to be and probably higher than most. While the life I love to live doesn’t always afford me the time to create or maintain order among my things, I give myself the gift of space every year for my birthday, and it’s a ritual that makes my birthday something to look forward to even as I get older.

When I can’t create order and space in my physical space throughout the year, I meditate to create order and space in my mind. Sometimes this is a ridiculous endeavor – I mean, I do work at home with my kids. This means I have to take time out of my workday while they are in school to meditate, get up before they do (which does not always work out,) do it after they go to bed when I’m sure to fall asleep early and then wake up at 3 AM, or attempt meditating with them at home, or with them. I know meditation is great for them, but I don’t get the benefit of meditation when I do it with them; they can’t sit still, not just because one daughter has ADHD, but because they’re kids. I find if I can manage to take a shower without interruption, it has a meditating effect. I tend to come up with the best ideas in the shower. I’ve even written songs in the shower.

My daughter’s doctor, upon her diagnosis of ADHD, actually suggested that, when they weren’t looking, we get rid of ALL toys in our house, leaving them with wooden spoons and pots and pans. It’s some school of thought she subscribes that associates toys with the death of creativity or the birth of consumerism. I have tried to have my kids participate in the project. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. One daughter can function at a very high level in the middle of chaos, and while I’m sure this will serve her well someday, she tends to not notice the mess, even when she is expected to help clean it. The ADHD daughter doesn’t love to clean, sort and organize, but does get a sense of joy when we are able to achieve it, however how long it lasts. I have learned that they are much more engaged in tidying when there’s something in it for them, like a play date.

I won’t deny them toys – I have uncovered beliefs around worthiness in myself stemming from not having the same toys as my peers and being treated poorly by said peers. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that they aren’t worthy of good things, as in objects. I have faith that they have very strong imaginations and make sure they spend time creating, not just consuming. One of my common questions to them, however, is, “What’s more important, people or things?” I say this a lot when they fight over things. I always want them to value people over things. My ADHD daughter will sometimes play with a new friends’ toys rather than the friend. I watch and manage this thoughtfully.

 

I’m not sure how I’ll manage it with all of my other priorities, but I have created an intention and vision of more space in my home, and believe that by making more space, I am making room for new good things to come into our lives. While I can tolerate a mess and function just fine, I recognize how much better I feel when I can close my drawers without grunting, locate my brush on the bureau, just push play on the yoga video without taking an extra 20 minutes to tidy up, and have room to chop vegetables on my counter and a place to craft and create. Of course, there’s having a home where other people feel comfortable, too.

the space between by dave matthews band lyrics

i do not own. all rights go to dave matthews band. with lyrics

Create a Vision that Pulls You Out of Bed

SteveJobsVision

 

It is not always an inevitable job search stage to find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, or even the afternoon, but it is very common– too common. I know exactly how this feels. When I was out of work going on 10 months, with four offers pending financial go-ahead for two months, I wondered what the point was. It was no longer about finding my next great opportunity to grow my career; it was about survival and saving face.

World-renowned New Thought minister Michael Beckwith propagates the idea that, “Pain pushes until the vision pulls.”

Unfortunately, many job seekers’ reality is that the pain of job search disappointment and frustration does not push them out of bed. In fact, it pushes them back down.

So if the pain is not effectively pushing you toward a solution to your job search situation, what do you do?

Create a new, inspiring, and energizing vision about what your ultimate career adventure could look like.

We have written many blogs about how spring symbolizes reinvention, and I share a throwback from our newsletter further below. We have offered a variety of tips, tricks, tactics, and techniques. While creating a vision may not seem like practical job search advice, and you may be wondering what kind of pay off the investment of time in this exercise offers you in relation to being in action. I PROMISE you that this exercise does not take a lot of time, and it will make all of your efforts more successful and effective.

 

Envision your future:

Simply create a vision of your career future that makes you want to dance. Use all of your senses to imagine moments where you are offered your dream job, working for your dream boss, being paid your dream salary, while at your dream location. Allow yourself to fully indulge in feeling that you just want to squeal with excitement; you just can’t contain your joy any longer. That opportunity you have been picturing, perhaps dismissing as something you’ll never have– imagine it is YOURS. What will you do first? Once you are done dancing, that is. Who will you tell? What will you buy or pay? What will feel the best to take care of first? Imagine yourself checking off the things on your list that you have removed from your “to-dos” because they were too costly or extravagant. Use all of your senses and imagination to picture doing those to-dos, making you want to squeal and dance all over again.

 

The power of imagination:

In Emotional Memory Management: Positive Control Over Your Memory, Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., chronicles an experiment with basketball players to demonstrate that your mind cannot discern a real memory from an imagined one. This is what makes mental rehearsal a very popular and highly effective exercise for professional athletes to hone their performance when they are not physically training. It is also the reason this exercise has scientific merit in you job search to-do list.

 

A practical application of your vision:

Where does this activity fall on your list? First and frequently, do this exercise as often as needed, but certainly wake up and visualize your ultimate future first thing in the morning. When you hear those doubtful voices that will instruct you to be more realistic, say: “Thanks for sharing– now shut up. I’m visualizing, here.”

There is no, “What if this doesn’t happen?” There is only, “This is real and it’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole life!”

Some of us have bought into very dangerous beliefs that celebrating prematurely for something that could never happen is somehow harmful to us. As I mentioned in my throwback blog and in “Are You Martyring Your Dreams?” we have adopted a self-defeating paradigm. We believe that it is more painful to hope for something that never comes than to just live your life excepting that what you want will never be yours. This is what Vishen Lakhiani, founder of MindValley, calls a BRULE– a bullsh*t rule. How many of these rules are you living by? How many are stopping you from actually living the life you want?

I suppose this isn’t very different from the motivational and renewal blogs we have written during previous spring seasons. If you have not actually tried to envision the emotions that would come with realizing the utmost success in your profession, then allow yourself five minutes, even 17 seconds to experience that joy. If you notice a difference in how you feel, increase your investment of time. Then notice how many more of your efforts produce results that fall into alignment with that vision.

Rejoice! That is what we Christians do this time of year. Why does that seem so hard? It seems hard because it does not feel like what are supposed to be doing when our life does not resemble what we want. However, rejoicing in what can be and reveling in gratitude for your blessings is exactly what every sacred text, happiness expert, and success coach agree is the most effective way to turn around a slump.

We might consider it much more serious than a slump if we are experiencing physical and emotional pain, which continues to get worse as we consider our own powerlessness. This visualization exercise is something that is within your power to do, and while you may need practice at silencing the skeptical, perhaps even cynical, thoughts that our brain thinks are protecting us, you will experience a powerful, positive shift. The most beautiful thing about this shift is not just what occurs in your life as a result, but it is the formulation of a new belief that in our own minds is a tremendous power. We can learn to harness and apply this power to create a life by design, simply by creating a vision that excites us each waking day.

A sidebar: If your vision of your most ideal future has little semblance to what you are actually pursuing as work, it might be time to check out “5 signs that a Change is Necessary.”

To celebrate this theme of rebirth, here is a retrospective post in honor of my daughter’s sixth birthday, originally posted in April 2010:

I hope you will all excuse my delay in sending out the spring edition of the newsletter, but for me the subtitle of this issue is quite literal.  My daughter, Daisy Eledora Huller, was born on Thursday, March 25th after four days of labor.  I had hoped to get this newsletter out prior to her arrival, but now that I am on the flip side of such a surreal and miraculous experience, I am so glad I waited.  My intention for this issue’s foreword was to relate my experience of preparing for childbirth to the preparation and anticipation of career transitioning.  I had been taking classes, getting a ton of advice (mostly unsolicited), consulting with experts, setting goals, tracking my progress, monitoring results, assessing risk factors, reading up on everything from traditional wives’ tales to new trends, and following as many best practices as made sense for my life and my belief system.

However, those were just the things I could “control.” What was beyond my control frequently surfaced concern and even anxiety.  There was so much to be excited about and yet so many known and unknown variables that were bound to impact the outcome of this experience, which is certainly THE most important experience of my life.  As part of my preparation, I created a birth plan for natural childbirth (drug-free).  I faced many skeptics, even those who love me dearly, but chose to surround myself with support and made a conscious effort to keep any thought opposing my plan at the surface, quickly replacing it with visualizations of the birth experience that I wanted.  It was not always easy!

There was no way for me to know if what I feared would transpire or if everything would go in my favor. The best I could hope for, in spite of the experience itself, was that I would deliver a healthy baby.  I believe some wanted me to be prepared for disappointment.  I really don’t see much value in this, though. I was confident that should the uncontrollable variables occur, and there were definitely a few, I would keep faith that the outcome would be a healthy baby and the experience would be natural.

I had many reasons for wanting my experience to be this way, and none of them included that I could congratulate myself for enduring the pain, though I am very proud of myself for staying true to my plan in spite of a few factors that could have easily dissuaded me.  I have a new appreciation of every mother regardless of how they brought their babies into the world.  I also have a greater appreciation and respect for OUTCOMES– those unpredictable, often unexpectedly wonderful in ways we could not know, results that change our lives.  Everything that has transpired over the last 10 months has taught me that staying present and empowered in life requires intention, but it also requires surrender.

 

Happy spring! Here’s to your new beginnings!