October 16, 2011

Lovely Reminder

Each fall, I get caught in the busyness of the new academic year. This initially comes from a positive place: students bring excited, happy energy into the classroom. I'm energized by them and by my own creative plans for my courses. The first week is magic--it's exhausting, but deeply fulfilling (reminds me why I love my job). Gradually, though, the busyness takes a turn. In fact, it's not the external busyness, but my own internal busyness--the busyness of ego, unrealistic expectations of myself, and the need for control.

Whenever I feel vulnerable, control is my go-to habit. Yet it's a cage; it clips my wings. So I've developed some new, more freeing--yet not as familiar--habits to replace the cage. But what happens when my vulnerability is ramped up? I not surprisingly revert back to familiar--if unhealthful--habits. This has been the back and forth of my days and weeks. Sometimes I quickly realize my need for a genuine pause to recenter; other times I plow through the day without a single deep breath. Such is the work of creating a new habit.

Quality time with my nieces and nephews always brings me back to my authentic self. Being with them allows me to easily access mindfulness, joy, perspective, and play. These are things I always carry with me, but sometimes (like in the middle of the term) I need a reminder. I got that pleasant reminder last weekend.

Yay for that! And yay for cookie monster cupcakes:

October 2, 2011

Real Self

Last week was up and down. Some days I felt completely connected, real, and free. Other days I felt obsessed by externals and allowed ego to drive my actions. And some days were a mix of both (ah, as is much of life :)). I pushed hard at work on Friday, but then relaxed into a wonderful evening of delicious food, great beer, and tap-your-toes music. Saturday began leisurely. Then was filled with emotion, support, friendship, and sharing at the Down Syndrome Awareness walk in Neenah. (Bless you, Madeline Mae, for bringing us all together.) But then ego hooked me again, and I raced right from the lovely walk to hours of errands.

I know, what was I thinking? Well, I can tell you what my ego/non-truth-telling voice was saying: "If you complete all these errands now, then you'll be okay, and you can relax tomorrow." But wait! My fear-based ego voice never lets me relax. There's never a time I'll have everything wrapped up. So, again, why did I listen yesterday? Who knows. Perhaps because I was filled with difficult emotions. Or maybe it was just old habit.

The good news is I more quickly realize when I'm in the throes of non-stop doing (with little being and feeling). Yay! I realize it. Yesterday that aha moment came at the grocery store. I took out my grocery list and on the list I saw "real self." I paused for a moment--did Mark find my list and add "real self" as a reminder for me? No, this was my writing. But I didn't purposely write it. YET, it seemed so poignant: of course I should find my real self at the grocery store--why wait another second?

Then I recognized what I actually wrote: "Real Salt" (it's my salt brand of choice). I laughed out loud in the produce aisle. In fact, I couldn't stop chuckling during the whole grocery run. And, in that process, I did actually find my real self.

[Here's a picture of my real self playing an arcade game when my nephew visited in July.]