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Organizing … Part of Self-Care?

What do you think of organizing?  More importantly, what do you think of yourself when it comes to organizing?  This is an area that many of us either glorify or curse.  We look at the homes of our organized friends and think, “Ah, what would it be like to live like that?  My life would be wonderful if I could live in a home like that!”  Or, we just berate ourselves because our homes do not look like that, and we see our own organizing ability as some kind of shortcoming or weakness.

What about getting rid of that dream of organizing perfection and all of the negative judgments that go along with it?  I’m not saying to get rid of organizing, but to get rid of the dream of perfection we’ve had about how it works and what it “should” look like.  For many of us, because we feel so embarrassed and/or guilty about this area, we do our best to hide it from others, which only increases our isolation and makes it more difficult to ask for and receive support!

Consider this idea.

Organizing is one form of self-care.

Organizing can be one form of self-care, instead of one form of self-criticism!  However, that does require rethinking the whole area.

Instead of “perfection,” think “good enough” and “What works for me?

I am asking that you find a way to wiggle yourself out of the seductive hold that the glossy pictures of perfectly organized homes have on you.  Keep in mind that nobody actually lives in those homes, at least not in the way that they are portrayed!  Interior design experts have been in that home, not to mention professional photographers, all whose job it is to portray perfection and sell something, correct?  Just what are they selling?  And do you really want any of it?  Do you really want to live in a home that exists to look beautiful but not necessarily be very functional?

If you can suspend your view of what you thought organizing was, then you have a chance to consider something more realistic and more useful!  A way that is more fitting for you.  A way that works for you.  A way that it is good enough and is more in line with how you really live.  In that view, you have a chance to look at organizing as part of self-care, instead of as a way to criticize yourself.

“How Do I Do That?”

Here is what I have learned so far.

* Little by little.  ONE STEP AT A TIME.

Not three steps at a time.   Not do it all at once.  Give yourself a chance to be successful!

* Separate out the projects from the tasks.

Tasks are something that you can do in 10 or 20 minutes.  If it’s much longer or full of steps, it qualifies for a project.  By identifying it as a project, you give yourself a chance to make progress on it by identifying the smaller steps that are involved in it.

* Before beginning a project, break it down into tasks. 

What all is involved in getting that project done?  If it feels overwhelming, what is one small action that you can take that would move that project further along?  Most projects have more leeway than we think because there are different ways that we can move forward on the project.  Stop trying to figure out the “perfect” way.

* The bigger the area you do at one time, the more likely you are to fail.

Don’t mean to be harsh or negative here.  Actually, quite the opposite.  Straightforward compassion, learned from lots and lots and lots of experience…  Stated more simply (and related to “Little by Little”), here’s the positive spin on this:

* The smaller and more manageable the area is to organize, the more likely you are to succeed in organizing it!

My thinking used to go something like this.  “I ‘just’ want to get my desk organized today.”  However, my desk was covered with piles of paper and folders and notebooks and reminders and — you get the picture.  “Just” getting my desk organized made success risky.  What has increased my success is identifying one part of my desk or one pile on my desk and deciding to take action with that one part or that one pile.  It may seem really small, but I am so much more likely to succeed, which builds my momentum and confidence for then taking action on the next part or pile!

Coaching Can Make A Difference!

I’m making progress in learning how to approach organizing differently in my own life.  The funny thing is that I’ve been helping my clients organize parts of their lives for a long time now!  The idea that, “You can’t see the forest for the trees” certainly applies here.  All those trees can block our vision of the forest when we’re standing right in the middle of them!  That’s why I have my own coach in this area, and that’s also why I’m able to be such an awesome coach for someone else in this area! 

If you’re looking for someone to help you change your approach or be more effective with organizing, I’d love to help.  Or, perhaps you want to learn how to take a kinder, gentler approach with yourself, which might surprisingly be the key you’ve been missing.  You can contact me in several ways:

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!


Caring for Yourself by Pursuing Your Passion

As I watched a mesmerizing performance by Missouri Contemporary Ballet a couple of years ago, tears came to my eyes.  Tears?  Why tears?  I experienced the simultaneous feelings of total bliss and deep sadness.  The bliss was very easy to understand because I love dance.  I love watching dance, and I have always loved to dance (although performing, for me, has been mixed because of the anxiety that goes with it.)  On the flip side, the sadness was in response to the loss I felt from not having had any dance in my life for the previous few years.  I hadn’t been to any performances, and I hadn’t danced or taken any classes for a long time.  What grief I felt as I watched those dancers, yet I also felt uplifted and joyful.  No wonder I felt so strange as I watched them move their bodies in exquisite turns, leaps and contortions of strength and flexibility!  Such total immersion I felt in the experience of witnessing those dancers perform.

Ballet Classes For Adults!

The dear friend sitting next to me at the performance noticed how strongly I responded and showed me the back page of the program, which advertised ballet classes for adults.  BALLET CLASSES FOR ADULTS???  I nearly jumped with joy as much as I was in disbelief at the idea.  Really??  I could take a ballet class?  But, would they really let me in when they discovered that I wasn’t a young 20 or even 30-something?  I had to find out.

I called the number and got the information I needed and found myself taking ballet again — many, many years since I had last taken as a child.  After my first class, because I worked so hard to do everything as well as I could and because my body had only faint memories of my childhood classes, I was literally almost unable to walk out without my legs buckling because they were so sore.  I burst into tears when I got in my car and wondered if I would be able to continue.

Hope For The Journey

That was two years ago.  Not only am I now taking two ballet classes each week, I have also ventured into a tap class, which is delightfully fun yet also quite challenging for me, and I am considering adding a class in modern dance.  That last one might push my schedule to its limits, but time will tell.  I love each class.  Sometimes I leave feeling frustrated that I have not been able to learn steps more quickly or that I am not as strong or flexible as I want to be.  But I work with what I have — the age I am, the body I have, and whatever my physical gifts or limitations may be, not to mention the focus and memory that is required!

What Is Your Passion?

As is apparent, my passion is dance, and it is crystal clear to me that pursuing my passion has given me energy,  joy and confidence.  It has become such an essential part of my self-care, not only to go to performances, but also to participate in dance by dancing!  There is a life force and an engagement and a focus that comes from participating in what you love to do.  For me, it is dance.  What is it for you?  What is it that calls to you?  What is it that intrigues you?  What is it that makes you smile, or perhaps makes you cry because it has been missing?

Fitting In One More Thing

I wondered how I would find the time or the money to pursue dance classes.  As much as I wanted to try it out (although with a bit of nervousness about whether I could really do it), it felt rather indulgent and even frivolous to proceed.  It also seemed on the edge of overwhelming to add one more thing to my schedule.  But I also knew in my heart of hearts that it was the right thing to do.  I took the next step and made a phone call, even though I wasn’t really sure how it would all work out.

The amazing thing is that adding something that you are passionate about can create more joy.  And through that joy, the challenges and stress of life become a bit easier to handle.  Perhaps we gain a bit of perspective.  Perhaps we actually get better at coping with things.  I don’t really know.  What I do know is that life improves.

Put something joyful in your life.

Start small.  Make a phone call.  Do some research online to get more information.  Talk to someone who can tell you more.  Write down several ideas you have about it.  Let yourself dream, and also take some kind of action!  You may find that your life begins to improve in unexpected ways.  Your joy is an important part of self-care.  Taking care of ourselves is more than just eating well, exercising and sleeping enough.  It is also about including in your life the things that matter to you and that are important to you.

Let yourself matter enough to include joy!

Lullaby…and Good Night…

Sleep, glorious sleep, why are you so elusive?  For me, anyway.  How about you?  Are you getting enough sleep?  Are you getting quality sleep?  I don’t remember sleep being so problematic when I was a kid.  But, it does seem to be problematic now, so it deserves my attention to make it the best I can.

“Getting enough sleep allows you to feel more rested and be more focused.”

No doubt.  But I’m not getting enough sleep.  Are you?  What can I do to improve this important area of my life?

The obvious answer is to get more sleep!  Yeah, right.  I know I need to get more sleep.  You probably know the same thing.  But you’re not, are you?  Why not?  Oh, for probably a hundred reasons or so.  OK, I’m exaggerating.  But, clearly, if it were easy to get enough quality sleep, we’d all be doing that, right?  One of THE MOST IMPORTANT things I learned in grad school was this.

“We’re always doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”

Credit goes to Dr. John McGowan for having repeated that sentence enough times during his counseling class that it stuck with me.  And I am so grateful because it provides a compassionate view of the way we’re doing things.  He didn’t say, “And we can’t do any better.” What would have been the point of being a helping professional?  It bears repeating.  “We’re always doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”

So, if I go with what I learned from Dr. McGowan, somehow I must be in need of something I “don’t got,” right?  What is it that I might be missing?  The first thing to recognize is that it could either be internal or external.  Internally, it might be something physical, such as feeling too hot or too cold, or having some pain that I’m not able to ignore.  Or it might be something on my mind that is worrying me.  It could also be something external, such as my old, in-need-of-being-replaced bed, or loud thunder or a dog barking or needing to care for a baby or a sick child.  The list could go on and on and on and on…  But you probably already know what your reasons are.  So let’s follow up on that.

Acknowledgement and Compassion

The next question is, “Have you really acknowledged all of those things that are making if difficult for you to sleep well?  Really acknowledged them?  Like a wonderful friend would do if you actually told them all of the things you are contending with on your path to sleep?  They’d say something like, “Wow!  That’s really a lot!  That sounds really tough!”  They wouldn’t say, “Buck up and deal with it!”  But I bet you are telling yourself that.  Or perhaps you fluctuate between, “Buck up and deal with it,” and “Oh, there’s no hope; it’ll never change; I’ll never get more sleep!”  If so, just tell yourself, “Oh, that’s right.  I’m human.  I forgot for a while there.”

That’s the kind of compassion I’m talking about.  The kind that recognizes that you do indeed have your challenges and that you are indeed doing the best you can with what you’ve got, and that

You deserve compassion and TLC.

Just because.  Just because you’re human, not to mention that we all function more effectively with a bit of compassion.  So, perhaps you could offer yourself some, or ask a dear friend to listen and let you cry on their shoulder because it’s been really hard…  Having that compassion can give you a bit of relief and can often help you towards figuring out what it is that you might need to do to get more sleep.

If you just jump to making a change, it doesn’t always stick.  Why not?  Lots of reasons, but one is that it’s important to make sure that you

clearly appreciate and understand the problem

so that you have a chance of

choosing the best solution for you!

What works well for me may not work well for you and vice versa.  In 12-Step meetings there’s a reminder to practice

1) Awareness

2) Acceptance

3) Action

They’re in that order for a good reason!  You first need to be aware of a problem before you can come to some acceptance of it before you can take appropriate action, not just any action, but action that is appropriate for you and for your situation!

Next week I’ll take a look at possible slumber strategies. Perhaps this week you might practice awareness or acceptance of your sleep issues so that you are one step closer to taking the action that is appropriate for you to get more of the sleep that you may be dreaming of!

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