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Monthly Archives: March 2009

What Do You Mean, You’re Taking a Walk? You Have Job-Hunting to Do!

Last night, I participated as a speaker in a powerful panel workshop in Connecticut on Creative Strategies for Your Job Search and Career Transition, a “Rewrite Your Tomorrow” event sponsored by Jaffe Life Design (www.jaffelifedesign.com).  It was a very moving experience, an empathic and genuine sharing of men and women in all phases of career change – some laid off, some wanting to reinvent, some starting their own businesses – and all were in deep transition. 

 

To me, the most compelling theme that emerged was around the idea of self-care, and how challenging it is today to do what’s healthy, positive, and enlivening for ourselves.  We all know cognitively what we need to do to take care of our bodies, minds, and souls, but precious few of us really do it each day, especially now, in times of chaos. 

 

Why is that?  Why do we resist doing the very things that always make us feel better, more energized, hopeful, and powerful?

 

There are several reasons why we don’t do what makes us feel good:

 

1) We feel guilty about giving to ourselves, especially when we’re in fear, or when we believe we should be doing even more work to help ourselves (like sending out another 10 resumes to find a job)

2) We buckle under the pressure of others (spouses, friends, colleagues) who judge and criticize us if we take time out to care for ourselves

 

3) Deep down, we don’t believe that we deserve to be well-treated or cared for, even by ourselves

 

4) And finally, when we’re locked into fear and scarcity mode, it takes a good deal of energy and commitment to disengage from that familiar anxiety and malaise that we’ve been perpetuating

 

So what is self-care anyway and how can you do it?

 

To me, self-care means attending to your body, spirit, and emotions.  It’s giving back to yourself each day — fueling, restoring and replenishing yourself, after having given so much away each day.  How should you do it?  There are millions of ways – from taking a walk or taking a bath, turning off your computer when you’re exhausted, having fun or having sex, or seeing a movie that makes you laugh or cry.  It’s eating delicious, fresh food, drinking lots of cool water, and exercising in enjoyable ways too.

 

Most importantly, it’s not work – it’s whatever you find exciting, fun and restorative – it’s what brings balance, peace and joy to your life and body. 

 

As a career transition coach, I’d like to offer this official proclamation now – stop looking for a job, and starting living again.  Find the fun, be like a child again – laugh, dance, sing, make a painting, start over, see it anew.

 

Our world has been “reset.”  Now’s the time to do the same – “reset” your life to nurturing, forgiving and loving yourself each day.

 

(I’m going for a walk now!)

 

Are You Having an Allergic Reaction – of the Spiritual Kind?

Yesterday I was speaking with a good friend about an experience I have that I call a spiritual “allergic” reaction.  This intense reaction makes me feel off-center, exhausted, and downright lousy, when I get it.  It’s physical, but also occurs in another dimension of my experience. At first, years ago, I wasn’t sure what it was.  “Am I getting a cold, or did I eat something bad?” I used to wonder.

 

Now I know exactly what it is…it’s my body and my spirit telling me that what I’m doing-– how I’m seeing things, or the way I’m reacting and behaving – is damaging or limiting me in some way, and I need to stop and reverse course, now.

 

I’ve had this reaction on more than a number of occasions recently, when I’ve been feeling out of control and eliciting too much outside advice (and not listening to myself), or when I’ve needed to embrace a “beginner’s mind” and stop being a know-it-all (a habit of mine that’s quite annoying, to me and others).   I’ve had an allergic reaction also to my lack of forgiveness or acceptance of someone or something—or of myself—and when I’ve needed to shout my mouth and stop giving advice to those who simply didn’t ask for it.  These “allergic” reactions help me point myself in a new direction, and allow me to realize again that I can’t fix things or control what’s outside of my purview.

 

I’m deeply grateful for my specific brand of allergic reaction, because it tells me I need to revise my thinking and actions to feel better, and live better.  Once I make the necessary shift, I do feel better, and life and work goes much more smoothly and joyfully, for that week, at least.

 

What’s your spiritual allergic reaction look and feel like?  And what is it telling you about what needs to be shifted or addressed?  

 

Hot Mommas Project – Helping Women Thrive

 

Greetings!  Just got word that my case study written for The Hot Mommas Project (see www.hotmommasproject.org) is one of the most popular in the young adult judging panel selections!   I’m thrilled to know that my personal and professional story—fraught as it is with bumps, tribulations and crises, and finally with fulfillment and joy–can be of help and interest to young adults.  Happiness is…. 

 

Check out the Hot Mommas Project blog and my case study, and write your own!  Women of all generations are waiting to hear and learn from you.

 

What is Work-Life Balance Anyway?

Last evening, when my 11-year-old son begged me to play soccer with him (his favorite indoor past-time), and I said “no” for the tenth time (because I was feverishly writing my 100th work email for the day), I stopped in my tracks. 

 

I lifted my fingers off the keyboard, swiveled around in my deskchair, looked into his eyes, and gave him a big, long hug.  I decided to walk away from working, and play indoor soccer instead.  (My daughter joined too, and we had a complete blast, laughing hysterically the entire time).

 

This morning, I began thinking (again) about work-life balance.  What is it, truly?  How do we (should we) define it?

 

I believe each of us needs to define it exactly the way we want to, but for me, work-life balance means these things:

 

  • I have control over what I say “yes” and “no” to (in work and at home)
  • I feel good about my choices (I’m not over-ridden with guilt, confusion, and resentment over what I’m doing)
  • I’ve stopped over-functioning – doing more than necessary, more than is healthy and more than appropriate (in both my family life and at work)
  • I’m conscious of what motivates me to act as I do, and I’m ok with those motivations
  • I’ve overcome my addiction to work
  • I’m clear about how my behavior as a professional woman might impact (and provide a role model for) my husband, children, and others
  • I’m open to feedback from others about my behavior, and I modify appropriately

If I can say the above statements regularly, I feel I’m striking an important balance between my personal life, my work life, and the identities of both.

 

And when I can say the above statements with surety, it also means that my life is unfolding in a way that makes space for the following positive outcomes:

 

  • I’m dealing head-on with my responsibilities, in an empowered way
  • I’m doing what’s necessary to keep me and my family secure and growing
  • I’m observing that what I do matters
  • I’m coping well with my stress
  • I’m open about when I need help (and clear when I don’t want any more help)
  • I feel in control
  • My family is doing well, and my personal life is satisfying
  • My work is going well, and my career is satisfying

 No small thing, work-life balance, is it? 

 

I’d love to hear from you…what does work-life balance mean to you?  How do you know when you have it, and when you don’t?   Do you believe work-life balance is achievable, in this day and age, and during chaotic times like ours? 

 

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