Monthly Archives: March 2011

Busyness-food for the ego

I love to fill my planner with meetings, coffee with friends, classes, things happening around town.  You name it, I like to jot it down. And even if I’m not going to those fun events around my ever-busy college town, I like to make sure I know what’s going on.

It’s a way of feeding my ego, of feeling like I’m keeping up, of feeling like I’m enough. Because the voice in the back of my head and probably your head is constantly telling us we’re not enough. We’re not smart enough, not thin enough, not rich enough, not sexy enough. There are a very few, very rare, very lucky people who don’t hear that voice, but most of us know it all too well.

Most of us have resigned ourselves. We tell ourselves it’s okay to not be enough. It’s okay to be 30 pounds overweight. We tell ourselves we have big bones, we’re intellectuals, we could lose it if we really wanted to, we’re Earth mothers. We disconnect from what we really want because we think we’re not worthy.

And here’s the thing, when we disconnect from wanting to be 40 (okay 42) and wear a bikini like the other hot moms at the public pool we start filling that wanting with something else. (we’re not going to judge that desire, we’re just going to acknowledge that we all have a similar one) That something else? It’s something that numbs that wanting. And every single one of us does it. Researcher Brene Brown says we are the most overweight, addicted, over-medicated society in our country’s history. For some of us it’s shopping/alcohol/drugs/sex/men/women/food. But for almost every one of us it’s also busyness.

Oh, we LOVE to be busy. We love to be over-extended, over-booked, over-worked ESPECIALLY if it’s not our job or career.

We all know those moms that have four kids, volunteer to teach Sunday School, bake every week for one of the kid’s classes, go to aerobics five days a week, have a beautiful garden without having a gardner and wear bikinis to the public pool. And when you talk to them? The first thing out of their mouths is how busy they are. How much they do and how tired they are.

We LOVE to complain about our busynes. Would we give it up? Never, ever, ever. Not for the hottest body at the pool, not for a bigger house, more money, a bigger wardrobe or a trip to Paris. Because we love our busyness. It defines us. If we can’t have lunch with girlfriends in between planning the church fundraiser, volunteering at the thrift shop that benefits the homeless and running errands, then we’re not happy. And what are we going to talk to our girlfriends about? Our busyness.

And why do we do this? Because our ego requires it. Because our ego needs to know that it’s enough. It NEEDS it like our lungs need air. There’s no rising above, there’s no pretending. If we can’t fill our ego’s needs, we must numb ourselves. Okay, I know not everyone would agree.

But let me suggest this. What if I had a day with nothing to do? What if I had a day where I got my kids off to school and then stood in my kitchen with my cup of Kenya AA and had absolutely nothing on my calendar. And what if I wasn’t allowed to pick up the phone to call someone or schedule something and my car didn’t work so I couldn’t run errands or shop for dinner. What if I just had to focus on me, just me for a day. Not the things I DO, but who I am.

Holy Crap, it might be the scariest day of my life.

But here’s what I know. Busyness keeps me from what I really want in life. That busyness keeps me, well busy. It keeps me from thinking about the work that feeds my soul. How can I be the best yoga teacher and business owner when I’m up to my pits in fundraiser invites? How can I reach my fitness goals when I’m so exhausted every day from my 50 phone calls for the school phone tree and baking 150 cupcakes for the volleyball team?

Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t be of service or meet the girls for lunch. I’m suggesting that you pick and choose very carefully and only agree to do the things that really make you happy and feed your soul. 

Years ago I was Chair of the Worship Committee, Chair of the First Sunday Potluck and Chair of the Fundraising Committee at my church. I was in that 18 months right after my son was born. The work was great experience and I can organize a committee like you wouldn’t believe, but did I love it?

No, I didn’t. I liked two of the committees for about a year and when it was time for me to pass the torch, I was stuck. There was no one to take over. Or so my ego told me. So I did it because I felt obligated. The Pastor had quit suddenly and it felt like the congregation couldn’t take more upheaval, but with the departure of our leader came a lot more responsibility for me. I really really was excited about the work of the third committee, but I couldn’t spend time or energy on it because I was too busy with the other committees. I burned myself out. I was ineffectual and felt ashamed at not being able to do such important work. I finally was able to quit the two committees with lots of guilt and just let the third dissolve. Eventually I stopped attending that church. I felt like a failure.

So what happened? I was addicted to the busyness. My ego kept prodding me to take on more and more. Cause really, who was more important at that church? There was NO pastor and I scheduled and organized all the services. And then I organized the food for after the service. And I raised the money that made the church happen. My ego was in pink fluffy slippers eating bon-bons.

But eventually it got away from me. It got to be too much for me. And it gets to be too much for most of us and then we pick up other bad habits. We pretend it’s okay, but we drink too much or exercise too much or gossip too much to compensate. Things in our lives start to suffer-things we really care about like our marriage, our kids, our relationships with our siblings.

And one day we look up and wonder what happened. Where is our life?

So I suggest that we all learn to let go of the busyness. We learn a little stillness. Cause when I’m still I can hear the universe, I can hear my inner voice and I can hear my heart. And when I can hear that I can find my way. I know instinctually what to do. I know how to have the life I want and if I don’t know I know where to look for the answers.

When I learn to be still. When I learn that it’s okay to just be me I can pursue the life I really want. Cause really, I’m not the church Chair of Anything kinda girl. It felt really good to be needed, though, and I learned a lot of great skills that I now use daily. I met and worked with a lot of wonderful people, but it really wasn’t me. And just between you and me I’ve never been on a phone tree or baked for any sports team at my kids’ school. My daughter would probably die of embarrassment.

But here’s the best part of it all. When I’m quiet, when we’re all quiet and just comfortable with stillness, emptiness and a blank calendar we have the opportunity to focus on the best part of ourselves and our ego is sublimely happy. Because all our ego wants is to be happy. It doesn’t care how we get there.

So, let’s let go of our busyness and get a life! I know it’s hard. Focus only on the things that bring you joy, learn to say no to the rest and Live Passionately!

Exposing the Freak-being myself

Man, the last seven years have been years of big lessons. I used to think that when I got to my thirties I would have it all figured out. I wouldn’t agonize over decisions or  be afraid to state my own opinion with confidence and grace.

Ha! My twenties were colored by delusion. I really/honestly/truly believed that the struggle would stop when I got older, that I would just instinctively know how to solve problems and make my way gracefully and elegantly.

Well, I haven’t learned all that, but so much more. I can at times be graceful and elegant, but I’m so much happier just being me.  And while no one is graceful and elegant all the time, it’s really a pretty rare occasion for me. Despite my best intentions. So perhaps this is living without struggle. This is what will bring me ease-stop trying to be someone else and just be happy with being myself.

This is one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned, but I think I finally got it. And it took Lissa Rankin to remind me. I follow Lissa Rankin on Twitter. I get her newsletters in my inbox. And yet, I was ignoring Lissa Rankin. I finally opened one of her emails, which I had signed up for,  and it was exactly the thing I needed to hear.

Isn’t it funny how the Universe does that?

So I was slapped with this powerful message on a day when I knew I needed change. And I heard the little voice in the back of my head say-you need to walk the walk. Cause see I’ve been full of a lot of hot air and it really wasn’t working for me. I got uncomfortable. I was in pain and in panic and making myself pretty unhappy.

Have you heard this story from me before?

I admit I’m stubborn. I have to be whapped on the head with the lesson over and over again before I start to make changes. I have to get really really really uncomfortable.

But here’s what Lissa said that really resonated.  Let your freak flag fly. Isn’t that wonderful? Okay, maybe you don’t think it’s really wonderful. Here’s the hidden message. To be truly happy, to have the career, the love, the money, the friends, the LIFE that truly resonates with the core of who I am I have to be unapologetically me. It seems simple doesn’t it?

Me, not Melissa the teacher, Melissa the mother, Melissa the girlfriend. I just have to be Melissa all the time in every interaction I have. I have to let go of the roles and take off the masks and only then can I be really happy. Because being Melissa is who the universe wants me to be. It’s why I was made the way I am. It’s why the things that have made me who I am happened to me. I, like you and everyone on the planet, am unique and gifted and talented and the universe gave me these talents and gifts so I can shine. Not so I can hide.

Most of us try so hard just to fit in. We wear masks to hide behind and fit in. We make ourselves miserable. In our heads we’re so afraid we’re not enough. And man, have I been guilty of this one. I’m always worried that I don’t teach well enough, write well enough, that I mess up too much.

By letting the freak flag fly I can love myself more often. I get there sometimes, but not fully everyday and that’s what I need to live a passionate life. A life where I’m just happy being me. Then that happiness can blossom and create wonderful amazing things.  

So the freak is coming out.

Dr. Brene Brown asserts that when we’re not happy with who we are we do crasy things to numb ourselves. She says we are the fattest, most in debt and most drug dependent society in our country’s history. We shop when we don’t have money, take drugs to make us happy, wake us up, get a good’s night sleep, lose weight or have fun. We have a bad day, we have a drink. We accomplish something great, we have a drink. We’re bored, lonely, tired or wired and we have a drink.

We probably all knew that, but here’s what she says that opened my eyes. When we’re numb, we’re numb. We can’t selectively numb. If we numb the sadness, the uncomfortable and the pain, we also numb the happiness and the joy.

And when do you think we numb the most? When we’re not being authentically who we are. When my life is resonating with the core of who I am meant to be I don’t want to numb. I want to dance in the sunshine. When I am masking and trying to fit in and worried that I screw up to much or don’t teach well enough then I’m uncomfortable and my mind is always searching for how to be more comfortable. And the simple, easy answer is to numb.

So I don’t feel joy. I don’t feel inspired or happy or productive. I just feel numb. And how can I have the life I really want if I’m not productive and inspired? I can’t.

So let the freak flag fly! This week I beg you to let just a little bit of your freak out. We all have that part of ourselves we think has to stay hidden away. This week let it out and see how great it feels.

Let your freak flag fly and see if it doesn’t change your life! Be passionate. Be present. Be love.