Stats!

I performed at an open mic last night, with Jerry. I met him at his house beforehand, and we both laughed about how nervous we were. The open mic was at a tiny coffee shop in Greenlawn, a Long Island town. We’re talking Manhattan tiny. When we got there, it was packed with performers, and because we had gotten there a little late, we were among the last to take the stage. The performers before us were, for the most part, solid. There was a pair of high school girls who went not long before us, who sang a couple of pop songs and a church hymn in stunning harmony.

Jimmy said: “Count yourself lucky you’re not going on after them.”

I wondered if I should be insulted by that, but, it’s part of it, honestly. When you do something creative, it feels like you’re surrounded by people who are much, much better than you – and often younger than you (lol). Jerry was feeling it too; several of the guitar players who had gotten up there were very proficient. I told him we had to just break the habit – or compulsion, really – of comparing ourselves to the others. All we can do is focus on our craft, our progress, and leave the comparison (and the feelings of insufficiency that follow) out of it.

When it was our turn, I felt the electric buzz of nerves coursing through me. Before it had only been in waves; now that I was up there, with people staring at me — and at this coffee shop, it’s not like how it is at a bar, i.e., you’re not in the background, people are totally attuned to you and your performance – the electric buzz had become a constant.   But then we started, and I felt the weeks of practice, and the new-found strength in my voice, over-power my nerves. The more I heard myself and realized I sounded good, the more the nerves, while still there, gave way.

It had gotten late, so they didn’t let us do our third song (which disappointed us quite a bit, as it was our powerful closer), but we still got a lot of acknowledgements from the crowd and encouragements to keep coming back. Jerry and I agreed that we wanted to come back as soon as possible; having tasted what it’s like to perform again after months of not doing so, we felt hungry to work on it, to get better, to realize our vision of what we thought we could do. We decided to come back next Friday and give it another go.

Later I watched the video Jimmy had taken of our performance, and I felt a little discouraged. I sounded good; better than any public performance I had done in the past. But I didn’t look good. I looked like a self-conscious goober. It was irritating to see, actually. I sounded so solid, yet my presence was not reflecting that at all. I thought of those high school girls, so young yet so confident, and such perfect harmonies. I’ll never get there, was what the voice inside my head said – followed by: what’s the point? I’m not in high school. I’m 34. Even if I got to a place of pure confidence with music, toward what end? I’m not trying to make a name for myself in the music business. I have a family, and a full time job. Is this “hobby” worth the effort, or is like reaching level 20 in Super Mario? For a second you feel SO proud of yourself, then you look around for someone to tell and realize (1) no one is there; and (2) no one cares, at all; and (3) you spent the last month tirelessly trying to reach a goal no one gives two shits about.

These are the voices I fight when I pursue music. How do I fight them?  I know life is about progress. Tony Robbins makes a big deal of this. If you want to feel alive, you’ve got to be progressing in the areas of your life that matter to you. Music does matter to me.  It brings me joy, and more than joy, freedom – and more than freedom, connection to my heart, and others. When I sing it feels like my heart is breaking wide open and letting everyone, and everything, in. It’s a marvelous feeling. If I could hone accessing that feeling while performing in public with others actually present, I would be on Cloud 9. That’s a pretty wonderful result, and something that sounds worth pursuing. So, that’s the point, I guess.

Also, obviously, my focus is off. Instead of focusing on the fact that I sounded better than any public performance I have done to date, I focused on how I looked like a self-conscious goober, and that momentarily made me want to throw in the towel. Silly. Especially since that’s easy to fix. It would be hard to fix being tone-deaf, for example, or having a very limited range. But fixing this takes (1) being aware of it (check!); and (2) coming up with a strategy to address it next time I get on stage.

The other question I might have for myself is this one: can you allow progress to be slower than what you want?

Let’s be real here; success doesn’t happen over night. It happens incrementally, every day, as a result of the moment-to-moment choices we make. That’s why allowing yourself to slip for a day, or to vacation from your goals for a weekend, has a much larger impact than what you realize. Success happens in those day-by-day choices; so does failure.

I’m not where I want to be, and that’s a good thing; it means there’s room to grow, and that’s what life is about. And, I’m progressing – what more can you ask for? We’ll try again next Friday, and it will better than this past Friday, but still not what I want it to be because it just isn’t going to happen that fast. But if we keep doing it, we’ll get there.

I bring all of this up because my goals are going much the same way.

On goal 1, my spirituality ritual, I struggle to prioritize it. I find myself wanting to rush through it, and then I get frustrated that I want to rush through it because I know that defeats the point (which is to connect to how important it is, among other things). I’m also impatient with my ritual not being quite right, not what I want it to be, forgetting that the whole point of the goal is to be patient with it, let it evolve, understand that I’m not going to immediately arrive there – it will take time.

On the “wins” side though, I was pretty consistent with it this week, even though it was hard. The babies were crying, I still had things to do before I could get on the road for my two-hour commute, etc. So I give myself credit for making it happen, however reluctantly at times. On the days I did it (all except one this week), I’m not sure I saw any marked difference, but it’s hard to measure. I think it’s something that will show up when I look back at a longer period of time, rather than day by day.

On goal 2, I dropped another half-pound, down to 134. My goal is a pound per week. This goal too is not progressing how I want it to, and that means I have to turn up the heat. That’s the other part that’s frustrating; you think you’re doing a lot, then you measure your results, which don’t lie, and realize you have to turn it up a notch (that said, I can see my body is starting to change, and those results are satisfying). I mean, I cooked my meals for the week, I watched my calories, I did my exercise routines every morning, I hit the gym. Again, though, it’s a process. I know despite all I’ve done, there’s another level — there must be, look at my results. And I can turn it up a notch now, from this point; I couldn’t have turned it up this high from zero, from where I began, or even from last week. So it’s more gradual than what I would like, but I’m getting there.

Final thoughts – Jimmy starting a center is causing me to realize that I maybe hold him small sometimes. Back when he was starting to build a coaching business, I was very involved (I almost insisted on it), and some of it was supportive, but some of it was maybe almost condescending, thinking he didn’t understand what would need to be done or he wouldn’t be as active on it as he needed to be, etc. Now, I don’t have time to be involved except at the periphery; I have a lot on my plate.  As a result, some things are being revealed.

Specifically, last night I realized that maybe my busy-body like involvement before hurt him, or held him back. Like, maybe I was the problem. Because now that I am not involved, he is ON it, and feeling a lot more confident than what I can remember in the prior effort. For example, he’s having a meeting with his two partners this afternoon. Before I condescendingly began to say: “Well do you have an agenda?” etc., he told me he had developed an agenda, a list of things they’d need to decide, plans for future meetings, and that he’d scheduled a date for a meeting of potential investors (and had a list of who he was going to invite). He wanted me to attend (only that meeting, not any of the others he had in the works), and he also asked if I had availability to prepare legal documents for them. I said sure, you’re going to nee—he cut me off, and said they were going to discuss at the partner meeting what they needed, and he’d let me know what they want me to prepare and when they needed it by. He then presented a sales plan, which was based in part on a sales presentation he and I had recently attended (for an entirely different business) which, while not perfect, had some effective attributes (that he had apparently taken copious notes on). That’s just the tip of the iceberg; he showed me a number of other plans he has in the works, for the investment presentation, the business plan, how to avoid pitfalls of other centers, etc. He had my head spinning.

This all took me aback, wondering about myself, my character flaws, how my “support” may sometimes not be support at all (uncomfortable realizations). Part of me was happy about it, though. Happy that I don’t need to be involved in, or in control of, everything in order for it to work. Happy that my husband is stepping into his leadership in a way he hasn’t in a long time, and he’s feeling alive as a result. Happy to trust him in this way, and happy to ditch my unproductive attitude toward his aspirations.

Okay, that’s a wrap! I have a small group meeting coming up and then my personal counseling session and then work and babies, babies, babies in between!

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Transitioning

I’ve said, more than once, that 2018 had better be a flat year. It had better go down in history as the most boring year of my life. The year in which nothing happens.

Why would I wish that?

Because in 2014, I did the trainings. I met Jimmy during that process. We began a relationship. A few months later, we got engaged (he moved fast). We planned a wedding in less than nine months, while involved in Red Elephant’s year-long “Flight Club” program that required us to travel several times during the year to different cities (Jimmy was trying to build a coaching business, but after a number of fits and starts, he only ever had a few clients at a time). I changed jobs around the same time, from a large corporate firm to a small six-lawyer firm with a demanding boss (I guess I like that kind?).

In 2015, Jimmy and I got married, and moved to Astoria, our compromise neighborhood. Neither one of us loved it, or hated it; it was a placeholder. The same day we moved to Astoria, I quit drinking for good (I had my last drink, half a glass of white wine), though I didn’t know it at the time.  We struggled in our first few months as a married couple. I still carried ghosts of the past — of my ex-husband, and of our turbulent, and unhealthy, marriage that ended seven years too late. We also struggled about when to have a baby. Jimmy was 51, or 52, I can’t recall, but the point is he wasn’t getting any younger, and I suppose neither was I, rounding the bend soon to 33, then 34 (and then presumably 35, but that can be debated). After some spirited arguments, I agreed to move up the baby timeline by a few months.  Jimmy feared it would take us a long time to get pregnant.

We started trying that April (I think we got married in 2015, so this would be April 2016). We got pregnant immediately, the same month we began trying, basically. With one baby, I thought — but, no. At my eight week appointment, the doctor got very quiet, making us both nervous, and then told us she saw two heartbeats instead of one. I remember seeing little Jayden and little Brodie on the sonogram at the hospital, where the doctor had sent us to confirm it was twins. They were teeny tiny little human-like shapes with furiously beating hearts. In that moment, I became solidly against abortion (for what it’s worth — it’s an issue I have been on the fence about for years). Knowing twins were on the way, we decided we had to move to Long Island where Jimmy’s family was, and so we did, last October. Moving to Astoria after almost ten years in Manhattan was tough; moving to Long Island was like going to a different planet, but I didn’t notice, I didn’t have time. I was getting very pregnant very fast, and commuting two hours each way into Manhattan and back on the LIRR. I had numerous doctor appointments to monitor the twins, I had a lot of nausea and discomfort, I had increasingly doubtful feelings about my current job and whether it could sustain us as a family.  I needed to finish my job strong, though, to set myself up for good opportunities going forward.  I took a case that required me to travel across the country, 7 months pregnant with twins (a case I ultimately won), returning for the final stretch of my pregnancy.  The end of the pregnancy was hard; I got cholestasis of the liver, prompting an early (and basically emergency) delivery two days before Christmas.

2017. We went home with two newborns we had no clue how to care for, and that experience — those weeks — is, to date, the hardest thing I have ever done, even as there were so many unbelievable moments of joy. When the twins were six weeks old, Brodie got sick, and then really sick, leading to him having to be airlifted by helicopter to the intensive care unit at Cohen Children’s hospital, where he would stay for five days. This marked a stark dividing line for us, between being parents and not (that’s how I see it, anyway; a jarring initiation into a lifelong role). In the last two weeks of my maternity leave, I aggressively applied for, and interviewed for, new jobs. I needed more money, and a more prosperous future. I got a new job before returning to work, because I was determined as f*ck. I therefore returned to work only to give notice; my boss was not at all happy, and stonewalled me until the day I left. The job I had taken was in White Plains (two hours away), which is my current job, severing my ties with Manhattan completely. It also required me to get in the car after ten years of not driving. My first 25 commutes or so were white-knuckled, I shit you not. I had developed quite the anxiety as even a passenger in the car (but nowadays I drive like a f*cking pro), and the Long Island highways in particular scared the bejesus out of me.

At the same time, Jimmy transitioned to being a full time father, and the great, great challenges that brings, more so because we have TWO babies, and I don’t even know how to describe what that’s like. Impossible is the only word that comes to mind (but then there are triplets, and quadruplets, you might say, so in the end I guess everything is relative).

Those were the last three years. All that in THREE years, and I left a significant amount out. I’m not trying to compete with anyone here, I know we all have crazy lives, I’m only saying that with respect to my own life, this was a LOT of transition.

So you can see why I might declare 2018 as the flattest, most uneventful year to date. I want to write in my diary for 2018: “nothing of significance to report.”

That’s not REALLY true though. It just feels that way, at times. I know transitioning is part of life; in fact, transitioning IS life. We transition from day one, and we keep transitioning, until we transition right on out into death — and then? I don’t know, but if I had to bet, I would say: another transition.

Our transitioning continues.  On November 1, we’ll move again, this time to another town on Long Island (Massapequa). It’s closer to my job (LOL… because by “closer” I mean it will take me an hour and 20 minutes each way to get to work instead of 2 hours). Our move has an impact on someone else: Jimmy’s mother. We’ve been staying in her house to have her help with the boys. When we leave, she will have to figure out how to pay her expenses, probably by getting another tenant to replace us (a stranger). It will be the first time her house will be that quiet; up until now, it has been filled with her grandchildren (Jimmy’s sister and her family lived there before us).

But this post is really about Jimmy, and his new transition, which has a definite FEEL to it. Like it’s tangible. Like something has shifted, at a deep level.

Jimmy wants to start a training center, and so we’ve talked about it many times over the years. He’s been involved with the work for over a decade, and with at least five different training centers. He feels he has a good handle on different case studies of what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. He’s staffed consistently during that time, and has always been very passionate about walking the walk — the work is not a workshop, it’s a way of life.

Most recently, we talked about starting a center during a drive upstate, to attend the wedding of two close friends (who did the work with the predecessor of Advanced Education many years ago). Jimmy said he was feeling like he wanted to start the center soon, but we had planned to move south before the twins turn five. He asked me if, in light of this, he should wait. I said no. I said my current job — which I actually like — is my last job as a lawyer (or so I’ve decided). That means we may stay in New York, if I can’t figure any other arrangement out, but the point is, I don’t know. It could be five years from now, and I could be telling you: we need to stay in New York. So there’s no reason to wait; things will unfold as they’re supposed to, when they’re supposed to, and if you feel motivated, you should start now. When motivation comes, it’s best to seize it. If anything, you can leave the center here in New York with a business partner and start a new one down south.

In the ensuing months, it came up again a few more times, mainly as a hypothetical; I mean, we’re in the first year of raising twins. We don’t have time for anything. Jimmy didn’t expect to ACTUALLY start on creating a center until at least a year from now, if not two or three years.

Until… last weekend.

We went to a charity event Sunday night, for Larry’s daughter who died of dwarfism a while back. Jimmy had coached Larry at the Long Island training center (which is unaffiliated with Advanced Education — however, Larry would later staff a few trainings for Advanced Education, after attending our wedding and meeting Gloria). Jimmy used to staff at the Long Island center all the time, before he started working with Gloria in the year he met me. Larry told Jimmy that the Long Island center no longer exists; it had gone under, which was news to us. Jimmy’s ears perked up at this — he had wanted to start a center on Long Island for a long time, and wondered if this was an opening to do so. Larry then told Jimmy all of the issues he saw with how the Long Island center had been running, and then said this (or something like it):

“Here’s the thing, it has to be the right sort of person, to run a center like this and be successful. Someone who is heart-centered, who will keep the integrity of the trainings no matter what. For example, you,” he said, poking Jimmy. “If you started a center, I would support you, one hundred percent. But you would need balance. You would run the trainings, you would do what you do best, and I or someone else would handle the business end, and the two would balance each other out.”

Jimmy and I exchanged a look. You had to be there, but it was a little surreal. We had been talking about this, again, only as a hypothetical; there was little opportunity to begin this venture now. But Jimmy had kept bringing it up any time he and I were alone without the boys, because he couldn’t shake it — and then, out of Larry’s mouth it came.

We had a counseling session a few nights later. Jimmy had been struggling with his role as a stay-at-home father. Recently, we started sending the boys to daycare two days a week for about four to six hours, and that was hard for Jimmy — but, he felt he needed a break during the week, to take care of himself, and I agreed. I know what it’s like from my maternity leave; I’m telling you, with two it is really hard, and that’s not to say the boys are not adorable, magical, and wonderful — they are, but we agree we don’t serve them by not taking care of ourselves.

Those breaks gave him time to think, though — about his dreams, and what he wants to accomplish in his life, and what he wants to model for the boys. The more he thought about starting a center, the more it seemed the time was ripe, as he was feeling stirred to take action on it any time he had time to himself.

When this came up during counseling, Jimmy first presented it as an exciting new thing — something he wanted to do for himself, and as a positive example for the boys. But doubt soon followed. He knew it meant he would not be the one hundred percent hands-on father he had envisioned, where the boys were his sole focus until they turned 5 or so. He got emotional, fearing the boys would one day hear about his decision to start a center while they were still very young — and that they would get the message that they were not enough for him.

To me, it was a touching moment — I guess because it showed how deeply he cares about them. It also showed, though, how hard it is for him to pursue his dreams; he has a deep-rooted fear that they will negatively impact his relationships, and his role as a husband and father. Both me and our counselor assured him that we had no doubt he would always be there for the boys, very involved, whether he pursued his dream or not. His relationships are extremely important to him, and that will never leave him. We also assured him that there is nothing more powerful than leading by example.

This past week, Jimmy met with Larry about partnering up. Larry was on board. Jimmy also began jotting down notes to develop a business plan for the center. He set up meetings with people he thought might be powerful enrollers, or partners. He told me he had decided: this was going to happen.

And that’s when I got the distinct FEELING, like something shifting underneath us. Seismic, for lack of a better word.

Last night we watched “This is Us.” The show first came out when I was pregnant with the twins, and so it was a natural fit for us, since we were starting a new family, and one that was a little bigger than what we had anticipated. And there are other parallels. Rebecca sings; I sing. Jack has a drinking problem; Jimmy has a drinking problem (hahaha…ha…ha?). To me, the show is a love letter to the messiness of life; “this is us,” this is how it’s supposed to be, as hard as we fight it. This is why it’s a marvelous thing, to be here, on this planet. We get to learn, to be challenged, to form relationships, to impact each other, and to grow.

So Jimmy and I keep transitioning, because it turns out that’s how you know you’re actually living the years that are passing you by, and that means I will not get my wish. 2018 will not be a flat year. It will be, as the years before it have been ever since I set foot in the Basic, another year of transitioning–of new and bright beginnings, and yes, of challenges, too.

Oh, and I’m writing a children’s book that will be completed in 2018 (OMG it can’t ALL be about Jimmy).

 

Sent from my iPhone

 

Sent from my iPhone

Can you find spirituality in an old Levi’s ad?

Trick question!  It doesn’t matter if you can, because can!

Here are revisions to my spirituality ritual, which I need to write somewhere, so why not here?

1 – Three deep breaths; hold for three after breathing in, hold for three after breathing out;

2 – Say my contract with my assigned hand motions for each word (which came to me intuitively, I didn’t force it);

3 – Open my arms to the Universe/God and say (something like):  “I receive your love, your gifts, your guidance, and all of the blessings and abundance that are headed my way.  I trust you completely, and surrender myself to serving your will.”  That last part is really hard for me–to say it and believe it/mean in.

4 – Drop my hands to my heart, and do another three deep breaths.

5 – Begin the meditation.  First it’s about gettting very present, to my breath, to the sound of the wind outside.  Then I express gratitude, not just saying the words, but feeling it–I list specific things that come to mind, and see them in my mind’s eye.

6 – Then it’s about “dropping into” myself, beneath the surface.  Usually a question pops to the surface, and this time, it was “how do I best support Jimmy in pursuing his new dream?”  The answer was obvious, and simple:  “Believe in him,” and a whisper afterwards:  “and in yourself.”

7 – End the meditation by thanking the Universe, then saying my contract again.

8 – Read J-Dog’s daily meditation books, and as it turns out, I do receive them differently when I access my heart through meditation first.  I found myself in a more open place, just listening and receiving, not judging or assessing.

9 – The Levi’s ad.  I’ve written about it on here before.  I love it, and I don’t care what you think.  I love it for the ad it’s trying to be, and for that ad that it almost is.  I love it!  [That’s me parodying a popular movie line.  This is why I have no friends.].  The ad opens with the sound of the ocean.  Then building music begins, with images of various young people taking risks or leaps of different kinds (wearing Levi’s — but my eyes are closed so it’s not about the images).  Over the music, a man’s voice reads a spectacular poem, “The Laughing Heart.”  He has a warm, wise voice.  So I listen to the ad with my eyes close and let my mind go wild, conjuring whatever images it wants to — and it’s fun and inspiring and uplifting and alivening.  Not a word?  UR not a word (again, why I have no friends).

I imagine there are more revisions ahead, but we’ll see how this goes!

Stats!

Goal 1 – develop a ritual to connect to (my understanding of) God.

My original idea was to read Jimmy’s daily AA meditation books every morning  to support me in getting started, which I did. But I quickly realized that they stimulated an intellectual reaction in me; I thought about the meaning of the messages they conveyed, whether I agreed or not, and whether the insight offered could support me during my day and in my life.

It’s not that all of that is not useful. It is. But it’s not what I’m looking for (and this was very helpful to discover).

What I’m looking for is a feeling, not thought, insight or analysis. I’m all stocked up there. Plus, when I’m accessing my oneness with the world and others, I’m not thinking. It just is.

So, I’ve since ditched reading the books.

Currently, the ritual is short, and looks like this:

I sit in a meditative pose and reach my arms upward and outward, like I’m opening myself up to the Universe (this is something I did intuitively the first time I sat down for the ritual). I say (internally): I receive your gifts, abundance and guidance.

I then express gratitude for everything in my life, listing specifics (and feel it as I express it).

After that, I do three deep breaths, holding for three seconds when I breathe in, and holding for another three after I breathe out.

Then I settle into my deeper self, with a surprising amount of success considering my hectic mornings with the boys.

In this state, over the prior week, I’ve ended up accessing a visualization I created when Jimmy and I would do monthly gong meditations on the lower east side. I created this visualization to support me in getting out of my head and accessing my heart. Saying “I created it”. is not quite accurate, though; I didn’t intentionally create it. It came to me during one of the gong meditations, and has stuck with me ever since.

I know all of this sounds incredibly corny, and it’s about to get worse. This is how the visualization goes: I’m traveling along a dirt path in a thick forest, which is meant to represent my mind. At the edge of the forest is a modest one-story cabin. It’s situated exactly on the border where the thick forest ends, giving way to a wide grassy field that stops short about a hundred yards out, where there’s a rocky cliff overlooking a large expanse below.

My “heart” lives in the cabin at the edge of the forest. She’s a woman, but she doesn’t look like me at all, or anyone I know. She’s middle-aged and plain, with straw-colored hair and light eyes. She’s dressed in a modest ankle-length skirt, reddish-brownish in color, with a red long-sleeved shirt and matching scarf over her hair. She’s slightly overweight.

Bizarre, right? But this is the image that came to me. She’s very warm and patient in demeanor. Being in her presence always feels comforting, and invigorating; like a much needed rest.

So during my spirituality meditations this past week, I would instinctively access this visualization. It would go like this: I’m on the path in the woods that leads to the cabin where my “heart” lives.  I go inside the cabin, and I ask my “heart” a question. The question is whatever comes to me in the moment; I don’t think about it beforehand. The answer she gives me usually seems accurate, and not something I would have thought of on my own. Like, one question I asked this past week was: how do I improve my ability to choose trust with others? Her answer was: wait for the moment when you feel doubtful of the other person and want to pull back.  That’s your signal to consciously choose trust instead.

Simple, right, and sort of obvious, but I promise you I never would’ve gotten there; I overanalyze too much.

This process takes all of 5 minutes. After I get an answer to the question, I consider the meditation over. To come out of the meditation, I thank the universe for the guidance it offered me, and I say my contract. This is sort of embarrassing, but I position my arms differently for every word of my contract; something about adding physical movements to the words feels more powerful to me.

I don’t think I’m “done” with the ritual yet. I’d like to add music to the mix, I just don’t know how. I also currently can only access the feeling I’m looking for by conjuring the visualization I described above and asking a question. I want to experiment with how else I can get there.

In terms of consistency, it was a rough start this week. JayBro (BroJay?) are teething, and not sleeping. Meaning we aren’t either. So, again, for the non-parents: you don’t get the level of sleep deprivation that results from being the parent of babies or young children. I know this because I had no fucking clue pre-babies. And you also have no idea how severely this level of sleep deprivation disrupts every aspect of your life.

That said, I admitted to my buddy that I knew in the end my rough start showed a lack of commitment. I know that because other things — the things I’m prioritizing — are still getting done. Talking to my buddy helped get me back on track though. I am a perfectionist and I react very poorly to a lackluster start. He made the issue seem much smaller than how I had it. Going forward I need to choose the same time every day to engage in this practice, which I think will be the ten minutes in between when I drop off the boys to grandma and get on the road to work.

Goal 2: fitness.

Starting weight – 135.
Current weight – 134.5
Goal weight – 127

This one also had a rough start, after a really strong one. On day 1 I cooked all of my lunches for the week and hit the gym. On day 2, my boss took us out to lunch. As a result, my pre-cooked meal for that day went uneaten (I gave it to Jimmy). Worse, while I ordered a salad, we got a pizza as an appetizer — and I had some. The same thing happened Wednesday. My boss took us to see our new office in downtown White Plains (it’s really nice) and then he took us out to lunch again. I again ordered a salad… but then had some of the fried calamari appetizer. And the brownie sundae dessert (in my defense, it was a brownie sundae, i.e., the best desert ever invented). Obviously these lapses showed up in my results; I should be losing a pound a week, and I only lost half that.

I told my buddy about how I gave in because I didn’t want to be the “wet blanket” with my boss and coworkers. My buddy again made the issue seem much smaller than how I had it. The hardest part was cooking my meals for the week, he said–I did that part, now it’s just a matter of following through, i.e., eating them (lol). I did eat them for the rest of the week — and I joined my work gym like I said I would. I also did my ab-rehab program for the rest of the week, which I had not been doing, lack of sleep be damned.

I’ve otherwise been listening to Jim Rohn on a loop — when I take the boys on walks and on my commute after I do vocal practice. It’s helping; he has this very simple, very matter-of-fact, way of describing the formula for success. What stood out to me this week was when he said “success is unusual.” That means, to attain it, you’ve got to do things most other people are not doing.

With these thoughts in mind, I’ve been finding a fair amount of satisfaction this week at being the only one in the gym, or the only one up on a weekend morning out walking with the boys, or the only one doing full out vocal practice in my car, or the only one commuting to freaking White Plains and back from eastern Long Island because that’s how far I’m willing to go for the job that will take me to the next level.

One of my friends posted this quote on Facebook: “There’s no traffic along the extra mile.”

For better or worse, that’s true. So when I’m out there working on my future and I look around and I don’t see anyone else doing what I’m doing, I feel pretty darn good.

Addendum (based on today’s happenings):

-I had my first session with my personal counselor this morning (I say “personal counselor” because we also regularly see a marriage counselor). I told Jimmy I liked her a lot. He asked why. I said: “I kept trying to intellectualize everything, and every time I did, she’d patiently bring me back to a heart-level.” I also told him that while her advice and guidance was simple and maybe even obvious, it was not what I would have come up with for myself. For example, she stressed to me today that I had to create space for self-compassion, and that despite my fears about taking some of the pressure off (I don’t want to lower my standards), doing so may be what makes the difference. It was only later that I realized my counselor looks, and acts, eerily similar to my “heart” in my visualizations.

-Jimmy objected to me ditching his books as part of my morning ritual. I told him why, and he got it, but he felt I was pulling the trigger too soon. I decided to give it another go, but start with the meditation instead of the books. If I do that, maybe I’ll receive them differently.

-I had vocal practice in my car as one of my goals last cycle, to strengthen my voice and increase my range (and make the most of a long commute). Honestly, it didn’t go well, I was never very regular about it (I’d rather listen to podcasts). AFTER the cycle, though, I got really consistent with it, and now I’m doing two-a-days, on the way to work and on the way back. Last week I started to question these practices, though–I haven’t really experienced any noticeable growth in my range or strength, not even after weeks of being consistent. Until today! We have a performance at an open mic this coming Friday, so we were running through our set list of the same songs we’ve been working on. I can sing them all comfortably, but THIS time I had access to this other level that didn’t exist before — like a new gear. It was noticeable; Jerry and his wife both were like, wow, you’re sounding really strong today. I guess there are rewards to staying the course despite an apparent lack of results.

Pulling the Nose Back Up

I wrote a post called “tailspin” a few days ago — a post I deleted. I deleted it for self-censorship reasons: I felt I ridiculed the Bible too harshly (which didn’t seem right on a blog that is not my own) and gave too many details about the Lifeboat exercise. I don’t think I’ve ever censored myself in this manner — as long-time lifers know, there’s very little I haven’t shared on here, and many of the things I’ve said in prior posts have arguably crossed these or similar lines — so it’s interesting that I would have a self-censorship reaction now.

I don’t think I suddenly censored myself because I was uncomfortable with what I had revealed about myself in the post–I’ve revealed so many of my shortcomings, failures, and private struggles on here that that would be hard to believe. But when H reached out to me and proposed that I repost in a modified and less objectionable form (he had read the original post), I more or less said:  nah.

I think in the end my reluctance to do so was because that post felt like old skin that doesn’t fit anymore. I’m going to end up rehashing it a little here, but I’ll see if I can be brief. The main points I raised in the deleted post were: (1) I didn’t keep a stick for myself during the lifeboat exercise in Advanced, and I said I felt that even today I don’t “keep my stick”/choose worthiness; and (2) I don’t trust anyone ever. I said if you were to put me back in exercise 1 of the Basic, even if the room were filled with people I know, I still would say to every single one: “I don’t trust you” (that’s what I did when I did the Basic).

When I wrote that post (Sunday night I think), those two things felt very real (true) to me. I was feeling very doubtful of myself and my progress.

But then, when you drive four hours a day (as I do), you get a fair amount of time to think. The more I thought about (1), the more it seemed false. It’s not true that I don’t choose “I’m worthy” today. In fact, my life shows otherwise. I quit drinking two years ago because the thought of damaging myself with alcohol any further became intolerable. I got remarried after a painful divorce because I realized I was worthy of being loved — by someone who would treat me like gold. I became a mother because I know how much I have to offer, and now with twins it’s times two. I changed jobs to one that aligns much more closely to my values because I recognize that my talents as an attorney can be used to serve the world. I’ve become a key source of guidance to my immediate family (who previously thought I had zero–and I mean zero–credibility).  The list goes on.

Rewind to the Lifeboat exercise. My 30-second speech on why I should be on the lifeboat was utter crap. I didn’t give a single reason why I should live, and truthfully, I’m not sure I had one. I forfeited the entire exercise instead, the same way I was forfeiting my life at the time, taking myself out of the running for success in my career and relationships every chance I got.

Would I really give the same speech again today, if given a second chance to do the lifeboat exercise?

HELL no! Not even close.

So why would I write that post saying I felt that, today, I still wouldn’t choose “to live”? And why would I feel that way, even if only for that brief period?

I think it was just a result of fear. Fear that too many things are turning out the way I want them to.  Fear that I’m actually different now,  and that can be scary, especially when you’ve got thirty years of being the person who doesn’t deserve anything good in her life. Old habits, and thoughts, die hard, and I guess I still occasionally reach back and cling to them for comfort every now and again, as odd and destructive as that is.

What about (2), not trusting anyone ever? I think the work shows us that there really isn’t a static “I trust you” or “I don’t trust you.” It’s instead a moment to moment choice. I do think I choose trust in far more moments than I used to, I just still have a long way to go. My buddy call this week reminded me that just because you’ve got a lot more to do doesn’t mean you should take a giant shit on what you’ve done.

So, I challenge myself to focus on progress. And sometimes progress happens when you’re not looking.

My firm (based in Boca Raton) has about twenty people total but the new New York office has only three people in it. My boss (let’s call him Stan), my coworker (we’ll call him Jed), and me.

Stan is a boss that expects a lot. If you can’t deliver, or if you’ve got thin skin, you will not last with him. He is probably the most intimidating person at our firm, and the fact that he’s in New York while most of the firm is in Boca doesn’t at all change that. He makes his presence felt across state lines. Jed is a hardworking family man and a solid attorney. He’s generally calm, not aggressive, and helpful.

Recently we’ve been having a pretty good time at work. We’re able to talk through case strategies in a lively, collaborative and animated way–and in between, we engage in a lot of back-and-forth banter. We talk about deeper stuff on occasion, too. Our families. Our pasts.

Now, I didn’t think too much of this at first; it’s only three of us. Naturally we’d end up interacting in a more intimate way than in your average law office. Not really true, though. My prior firm had only 4 people (eventually 6). We never came close to interacting in this way. It was always strained, and distant.

The point came home to me when a new lawyer in the Boca office (we’ll call him Keith) visited this week. He spent two days with us. At the end of day two, he said: “Wow. I’m really going to miss it here. Boca doesn’t have this much fun.” I said, isn’t Boca a pretty friendly office (and honestly they are, they do things together often outside of work). And he said: yes, but, not like this.

After he left, a thought came to mind that surprised me. I have said, over and over again — including in the deleted post — that I struggle with connection. I’m a hermit. I’m bad at connecting to others. I don’t have the energy to create connection.

But when I thought about what Keith had said, I realized: Jed and Stan get on okay, but it’s sort of your standard boss/employee relationship. They don’t joke around much with each other, they often keep it pretty serious. The “magic” in the equation — the part Keith was appreciative of — was me, and what I had brought to the office and to the relationship between the three of us. Levity (I know, it’s hard to believe, I tend to be rather heavy on here), humor and, in a way, trust.

For those that know about my deep struggles in this area, this was no small discovery.

In the end, I think the question I have for myself is this: are you willing to be trusting and worthy? Because, that’s who you’ve become.

Personal Theme For Cycle 11: Becoming

I’m kicking off Cycle 11 with a THEME WORD.  The word:  “becoming” (it speaks to me more than “being” because it’s about identity).

I’ve listened to Jim Rohn’s talks for over a year now, off and on.  Recently I looked up his audio book and started listening to it on my commute.  It was the same stuff I’d heard (many times) before in his talks — but, as often happens, it hit me in an entirely different way than it did a year ago.
One of his points that suddenly stood out to me (that never did before) was what I shared on the WhatsApp chat:  he says the point of setting goals is not to achieve the goals — that’s secondary — it’s to BECOME the person who achieves the goals.
I have no doubt I’d heard him say that before when I listened to his talks previously.  I probably dismissed it as just a generic self-development type idea.  Now, though, it hit me as an epiphany, and I felt it physically in my body.
Jim Rohn’s nugget of wisdom blew my mind for this reason:  because the point of pursuing goals is to BECOME the person who achieves the goals — i.e., to alter WHO YOU ARE as a person — if you are instead focused on achieving the goal itself, you are not doing it right.  And, here’s the thing:  you CAN achieve many goals — even major goals — WITHOUT becoming a better version of yourself.
Tony Robbins makes the same point, in a different way.  He says if you want lasting change, it’s not enough to change what you do — you have to got to change who you are, which he calls “raising your standards.”  He gives the example of quitting smoking.  You can change your actions — smoke less packs a day, wear a patch, etc. — but unless you change WHO YOU ARE (“I am a non-smoker”), you will never successfully make the change (not long-term).  He gives the example, too, of getting fit.  He says anyone can diet, exercise, and even lose weight — but to keep the weight off, you’ve got to change who you are on a molecular level.  “I am a fit person, and so I do what fit people do.”  On the other side of that is an intolerance for doing anything that does not square with who you have become.  In other words:  “I am a non-smoker and therefore I cannot smoke,” or “I am a fit person and therefore I cannot eat fatty foods.”
So why did this resonate so deeply with me?  It’s not exactly earth-shattering, on a general level.  But it sort of was to me personally.
See, my “epiphany” — the one I felt physically in my body — was that I have a pattern of AVOIDING becoming a better version of myself in order to attain a goal (including major goals).  In fact, that’s like, my strategy in life.  I have a lifetime of figuring out how to attain major goals WITHOUT disturbing the status quo of who I am; and, historically, I’ve kind of been PROUD of being able to do this.   How do I do it?  It depends on what it is, but the shorthand is, I cram before the major exam.  This is not a new strategy, right?  But not everyone does it successfully.  For most of my life, and in many scenarios, I have done this successfully.
For example, let’s say I have a major brief due for a huge case — a case that is really important for my firm to win.  Let’s say I have 60 days to write it (that’s usually the case).  I start on day 50 (10 days before it’s due).  On day 55, I buckle down and work 12-14 hour days to meet the deadline.  The brief comes out great.  I get lots of praise.  We file it.  We win the case.
That is a SUCCESS, right?  One problem:  I didn’t change a damn thing about who I am or how I operate to attain that goal.  In fact, I operated safely within my own status quo, which is to blow it off until I’m up against the deadline.  That is an out-of-integrity strategy.  It means I’m wasting time at work, it means I’m creating unnecessary stress for my coworkers and boss, it means I am foreclosing the opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues or to mentor young attorneys because when the deadline is bearing down on you there is no time.
So, it LOOKS like a success.  It QUACKS like a success.  But it is not, actually, a success.  The only way it could be is if I were to BECOME a better version of myself to achieve the goal — rather than OWTFDWIT once the deadline is staring me in the face.
Now, if I get the same result either way — winning the case — does it matter how I did it?  Jim Rohn would say YES.  You may have won another case, but what you did NOT do that you COULD have done was increase your value as a person (and as an attorney).  If I HAD done that, I would be doing much better in my life than I am now — and I’m doing just fine.  But I’m not interested in doing “fine.”
So, the relevant question really is, who am I becoming to achieve this goal (any goal)?
Goal 1, which is basically discovering the power of God (or a higher power) within myself, requires me to become someone who is trusting, authentic, courageous, and free (of convention, of others’ judgments, of my own judgments).
Goal 2, which is about getting fit, requires me to become someone who has strong discipline, someone who is looking ahead to the future with trust and optimism, someone who takes pride in themselves and what they are capable of.
“Becoming” may strike some people the wrong way; I am already these things, I can feel them within me.  But, I don’t access them often, so to me, it IS a process of “becoming” someone who operates differently than I do today, before my pursuit of these goals has begun.
In any event, when I shift to understanding that “becoming” the person who achieves the goals — trusting, courageous, worthy, and free (HEY, it’s my contract!) — is the REAL goal, my whole approach to my goals changes.  Instead of focusing on achieving the goals so I can check the box at the end of the cycle, I’m focused on who I’m being moment-to-moment as I pursue them.  Am I becoming the person who achieves the goals, or am I stagnant?  Am I choosing to be my contract, or am I falling into my automatic?  In this context, the goals themselves DO become irrelevant; especially since I understand that if I BECOME the person who achieves the goals, the goals are, by definition, inevitable — because that’ll be who I AM.  Not easy, but, simple.

Schrodinger’s DD Coffee Cup

Remember my crazy post about Schrodinger’s Cat (you don’t, because you wisely didn’t read it).  The takeaway was this:  if you shift to possibility prior to knowing the outcome of a certain event — like REALLY shift to possibility, to where you allow yourself to truly believe that anything is possible and anything can happen — the reality of the outcome may actually change.

Here are TWO more examples of this occurring:

EXAMPLE 1:  For our anniversary, I gave Jimmy $160 to buy into a poker tournament (Texas Hold’em).  Now, Jimmy is a good poker player, but he’s never been very lucky.  He is skilled, though; I’ve learned a great deal from watching how he plays, and I even won $500 in Puerto Rico using his tactics.  Still, he usually comes home from poker games breaking even or losing $10-20.  The $160 poker tournament is a little bigger than your average card game among friends; there were approximately 60 participants, they have proctors, professional dealers, a woman who negotiates with players about how or if to split various pots,  etc.  People with a range of abilities attend.  On the night Jimmy attended, there were several pros there, including someone who had participated in the “World Series of Poker.”  When Jimmy saw the “World Series of Poker” guy, he thought, oh great.  I’m not going to make it very far.

While Jimmy set off for his poker game, I prepared myself for him coming home disappointed, because he probably was going to lose, and maybe even fairly early on.  I didn’t care about the $160 — it was a gift — I just was worried my “gift” would end up making him feel bad.

But THEN:  I shifted to possibility.  What if he won?  And why not?  He’s good at poker.  In fact, the only reason I thought he would not win is because Jimmy strongly experiences himself as a guy who can never catch a break.  But, I caught myself and decided not to buy into his “racket” (to use Landmark jargon).  So, while he was gone, I opened myself up to the possibility that he would come home as the winner of the entire thing.  The tournament started at 6 pm.  He texted me at 8:30 pm saying he was still in.  Then he texted me at 10 pm saying he was hanging on by a thread — followed by another text at 11 pm saying he’d suddenly won a boatload of chips.  At 11:11 exactly (hokey, I know) I opened myself up again to the possibility of him being the final winner. I texted him and told him to keep going, and that I thought he was going to win, but I had to go to bed (it was a Sunday night).  He got home a quarter before 1 a.m.  He woke me up.  He had WON.  The.  Whole.  Thing.

Could be a fluke, right?  And why would the outcome of Jimmy’s poker tournament be at all connected to what I was thinking or feeling?  It doesn’t really make sense.  Well, consider THIS:

EXAMPLE 2:  I bought a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.  A large.  It had one of those “peel and win” things on the cup.  I rolled my eyes.  I’d gotten a large coffee a couple of times earlier this month, and both times I got stupidly hopeful that I’d win something in the “peel and win,” and both times I came up empty, like I always do.  Well, THIS time, I shifted to possibility.  Why wouldn’t I win something?  I’m just like anyone else, and SOME people DO win, right?  Why on earth wouldn’t I be one of those people?  In fact, I COULD be one of those people!  So, I peeled back the sticker, and:  I WON A MUFFIN!

Now, I know what you’re thinking:  OMG winning a muffin is better than winning the lottery.

Yes.  Yes it is.