Are the Routines of Your Life Working For You?

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life is that challenging times are actually opportunities that can lead me to thrive in ways I would have never undertaken on my own.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in a marriage in which my husband left me for another woman. I felt like the framework of my life had been ripped out from underneath me. My need to overcome my pain led me to study teachings that I would never have explored on my own. I’ve come to recognize that this experience laid the foundation for philosophies which now govern my life.

The Organic Necessity of Change

There is no doubt that we are living in tough times. We have all been sacrificing things which typically provide us with a sense of physical safety, financial security, and overall pleasure. Yet there is a great opportunity here to approach things differently. So often we keep on trying to force something to happen in the same old ways, without considering that perhaps it’s not working because it is no longer meant to be. It no longer fits who we are right now.

Eggs, milk and yogurt are not the only things in life that have expiration dates. Who we are ages and changes as well. What we value changes as a result of every new day of experience. To expect that we will feel the same level of fulfillment by keeping our routines steady for long periods of time is unrealistic and a recipe for unhappiness. We must listen more closely to our soul.

Questions to Ask Yourself

I am welcoming this as a time to ask myself the question of what’s working for me and what’s not. It’s made me realize how my experience of life is not made in one wide swoop, but rather a tapestry of decisions involving minutia ranging from where I feel safe shopping to who enriches my emotional joy to what work fulfills me to when, where and how I work out.

You know how we are frequently being asked by businesses to complete a survey about our satisfaction of their service? How about asking ourselves how fulfilled we are with the routines we have established for our life?

Please stay well.

Susan

You Always Have Choices

You always have choices

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a situation that you didn’t really like, but you couldn’t see that you had any options except to remain on that path?

I have.

And I learned that feeling stuck was a message to me that my life was begging for change.

One thing I’ve learned recently is that all of my habits that formed my day-to-day life pre-COVID-19 were not iron-clad. I was forced to make a different choice…because the choice I was used to was no longer available.

And you know what? I’m happier for it.

I learned that I didn’t have to feel like I was a slave to the gym.

I learned that I could shop for groceries once a week instead of stopping several times a week just for a few choice items.

I learned that I could be more productive setting distinct goals for my work day at home than clocking in 8 hours in at the office without.

I learned that I am actually capable of coloring my own hair.

I learned that I don’t need to travel and have days and nights out on the town to feel gratitude for my husband and life in general.

I learned that phone calls with my family and friends could be far richer when I rely on non-physical means for our main connection.

I would have never considered I had these opportunities because my blinders were so fully set on the picture I’d created of my life.

As we all maneuver through the various challenges of the time, let’s consider these days as an opportunity to rebuild our lives in ways we never seriously pursued.

It’s a time ripe for reinvention. Let’s cherish the opportunity.

Take care.

Turning the Chapter With Elderly Parents

This past Sunday my husband Dean and I went down to my parents’ house to do some much-needed work in their backyard.

My dad is 85 and my mom 83. My dad has been suffering with bad arthritis in his back for the last 8 years and can no longer stand upright. He spent his career as a longshoreman and until the last decade or so, had always been a physically strong man. Now he can no longer reach the shelf above the refrigerator to pull out the bottle of bourbon for their nightly Manhattan.

My mom has essentially become his caretaker since my dad is legally blind in one eye and can’t drive. She does all the shopping, cooking, and most of the household chores. She’s recently developed an issue with her sciatic nerve and is walking with great pain herself.

I’ve been lucky to have had an enjoyable relationship with both my parents and this new reality is heart-wrenching to watch. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about their physical conditions since the visit on Sunday.

Treasuring the Memories

I have wonderful memories of my parents visiting me when I moved from California to New England in my 30s. From Cape Cod to the southern coast of Maine to Montreal, we were explorers of a new world together. It was a time of sharing different pleasures that you rarely experience in the Bay Area. Like picking up steamers or lobsters for dinner, or just sitting on the front porch relaxing into life at the end of a long summer day.

When I moved back to California I was blessed to have the opportunity to buy a modest waterfront condo which became the foundation for many good times on my deck. We would enjoy each other’s company for hours as we watched the wildlife and the boats cruise by.

I’ll never forget the delightfully surprised look on their faces when I opened my front door to welcome them to their 50th anniversary party where 50 friends and family were waiting inside.

Accepting What We Can’t Change

This latest visit has been a reminder to me that we should never take anything for granted. Things change, and we need to come up with a way to respond to and deal with each new reality. Just like we’re living now in pandemic times. We want things to be like they used to, but we don’t have total control over it.

For me with my parents, the new reality is that my mother really needs some support. The quality of both of their lives is not good. I can pretend it’s not happening, or I can take action.

My parents live 30 miles away. While that doesn’t sound like much, it’s an hour’s drive each way in brutal San Francisco traffic. I can’t quickly pop over to put the air conditioner hose in their family room window when the weather forecast points north.

I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I need to start to develop a plan to see that they get the care they need. I need to be there for them more. It’s a new chapter and I need to step to the plate.

Demonstrating Love in a COVID-19 World

After we finished our yard chores my dad was urging me to sit across the couch from him in the family room. Yet in a COVID-19 mindset I kept my distance, instead standing in the kitchen some 6+ feet from both my mom and dad.

Looking back I feel bad about my response. Who knows how many more opportunities I’ll have to share with the people who have been there for me my entire life?

We are living in a time where we need to adjust how we express love to the people who mean the most to us. I’ve begun to call them more frequently to demonstrate that I care. I’ve told them that I miss hugging them.

Next time I visit my parents I want to focus more on eye contact. If I can’t touch them with my body, I can connect with them from the windows to my soul.

Stay well,
Susan

7 Steps to Successfully Create Change

This post is an excerpt from my book Inner Architect: How to Build the Life You Were Designed to Live.

I was overweight throughout grammar school and up until my second year of college. I grew up seeing myself as an overweight person. After numerous failed diets throughout the years, it became a stretch for me to consider that I would ever be anything but overweight. One morning when I was 19, I got out of bed anticipating a party that I was going to that night. I realized that I was sick of being overweight. I decided that I was willing to do what it took to change my weight. I took one day at a time, making healthy choices and changing the way I ate. Within a few months I dropped 40 pounds and changed my lifestyle forever. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was following the key to success in creating any change:

  1. Declare that you are no longer willing to tolerate a particular habit or way of being.
  2. Identify the specific things you need to do differently to change.
  3. Acknowledge that you are in complete control of your actions.
  4. Recognize the process of change as being day by day.
  5. Commit to making the desired actions for that particular day.
  6. If you fall down, forgive yourself and start fresh.
  7. At the end of each day, honor your ability to make the choice you want and create the change you desire.

What’s Your Story?

I happened across a news piece online the other day that featured a man who was my boss some twenty years ago. Come to find out he had recently been appointed the CEO of a major LA media organization. I was very happy to learn how my former boss had risen to such heights in his career and reached out to him via LinkedIn to tell him so.

I know this man as being the salt of the earth. And there was something about the period of time that we worked together in a New Hampshire division of a worldwide publishing company that feels like there is a bond there. Most of us were in our early 30’s. We took our jobs seriously yet there was a lot of camaraderie and fun. My boss was beginning to make a name for himself as a magazine publisher and I was his second in command who ran the finances and operations.

I wasn’t surprised that within a few hours my former boss responded with a kind note. I was very happy to hear from him and the way he sought an update made an impact that has lasted.

“What’s your story?” he asked.

While collecting my thoughts to answer his question it struck me that my story is not simply what I am doing today. Rather it is an evolution best described by a few key highlights that has led me to where I am today. Sometimes those highlights have been highs and sometimes they’ve been lows. Being able to now see my story as a journey helps put things in perspective.

I may want to feel more successful in my business today yet I have to acknowledge where I’ve come from to appreciate how much I have accomplished. And if I am able to look at my life as a story I can imagine how I’d like the story to play out and make the appropriate choices. I feel more in control.

What’s your story and how might you like to change it?

Meditation: Priceless Gifts for Free

I hate to admit this, but I’ve been neglecting my meditation practice lately, big time. I’ve allowed myself to become “too busy.”  The result?  Well, let’s just say that I haven’t been my usual joyful self. I gave myself an inner boost this morning, though, and it made such a difference that I felt inspired to share.

Here are just some of the benefits you might receive in a 20-minute meditation:

  • Be reminded that your life is not about the outside world and all its complications.
  • Experience a sense of privilege to have been given the opportunity to live.
  • Feel closely connected with the energy behind all of life.
  • Remember how you are really supposed to show up.
  • Become refreshed with a deep sense of peace and joy

Would you agree that this list of benefits reads like a seminar you might pay hundreds of dollars for?

Meditation is free. Here’s a great wikiHow article to help you get started.

I’d love to hear your comments on what meditation has done for you.

The Secret Benefit of Blogging

In my career development business, Inner Architect, we train job seekers how to create proactive employment campaigns with a blog as a hub for delivering one’s value and expertise. I love to encourage participants that your blog is a vehicle to become what you want to be known for:

  • In the process of researching, you step into your expertise.
  • By publishing articles, you show up for who you want to become.

Whether you are already a blogger, or thinking about becoming one, consider what your blog can do for you:

  • Provide you with the opportunity to grow into what you want to become. If you are just beginning to blog, you have a clean writing slate to work with. See this as an opportunity to build your expertise, and consequently, what you are known for, in the direction you want to go. Don’t feel limited to write articles about where you’ve been and what you now know. Give yourself the freedom to move in whatever direction you want by writing articles that showcase your knowledge or expertise in that subject. There is great wisdom behind the statement “fake it until you make it.”
  • Give your writing voice credibility. Allow yourself to write with the same level of confidence and authority that you have demonstrated throughout your professional career. Focus on the value of your expertise and don’t worry about who might poke holes in what you have to say.
  • Think of yourself as a problem solver. Offer solutions, how-to’s and tips for addressing a specific need, issue or problem.

Remember, we’ve all been given unique gifts, talents and skills. You serve yourself and those around you best when you share what is uniquely yours to give.

Emotional Support for the Unemployed

This past Friday a recently laid-off Silicon Valley engineer fatally shot three former co-workers, including the CEO. This brutal incident of workplace violence was just one that makes up 20% of all violent crimes as reported by the San Jose Mercury News.

What does this workplace violence statistic say?

Violence is a product of anger and fear. While the motive of this particular killer remains unknown, the story suggests a couple of theories:

  1. Anger over the job loss
  2. Fear of financial insecurity
  3. Anger or fear over loss of identity without a job

Our nation is now grappling with the toughest unemployment rate in 14 years. The U.S. Labor Department reported that 1.2 million people have lost their jobs this year. With October producing 240,000, the total number is likely to surpass 1.5 million by the end of the year.

How can we support the emotions of the unemployed? Having lost a paycheck myself, I empathize with the fears about money and carving out the next gig. Yet a job transition can be viewed as an invitation to revisit what really matters at the end of each of our lives:

How well did you use your talents and expertise and develop your inner potential?

Give yourself permission to trust in the good of the universe. Look at losing your job as a message that:

  • Your talents and expertise are no longer needed at that company.
  • You are being freed so that you can contribute to a company that needs you more.

As a nation we can look at the vast number of jobs being lost as a message that:

  • We need to shift the focus of our work force to jobs that better contribute to what our country needs now.

Our new President is not responsible for initiating change. The unemployment situation demonstrates that change is happening now and we are all involved in the process. Unfortunately, change is often uncomfortable at first. Yet trust in the good of the universe and believe that you will arrive in a better place once you land.

Did You Get the Obama Invite??

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. President-Elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008

One man can not move the energy of a whole country. Change is a product of each and every one of us.

  • What can you change in your life to better contribute to your fellow Americans?
  • What would you like to achieve tomorrow with this new hope we’ve been given?

The Gloom and Doom Bandwagon: Are You On or Off?

The Marin Independent Journal, my local newspaper, featured a front page article on Sunday by Associated Press journalist, Pauline Arrillaga with the headline, Gloom, Doom Around the Nation. The article’s focus was on how high gas prices, the never-ending war, the housing market, and job uncertainty has brought our country to a point of hopelessness and fear.

I opened my newspaper to page 7 to follow the article, feeling more troubled as I read statements shared by a number of people interviewed. Then what was shared by a 24-year old brought tears to my eyes, “You can’t get ahead. You can’t save money. You can’t buy a house. It just stinks.”

It wasn’t the state of the Union that bothered me here; it was the sense of hopelessness that seems to prevail. Have we forfeited our power as we wait for the next President to get things moving in a new direction? What can we do in the meantime?

How to take control of your life:

  1. Acknowledge what you want to achieve or become
  2. Define the steps necessary to get there.
  3. Acknowledge your responsibility for completing the steps.
  4. Commit to and follow through on the work.
  5. Stay committed to what is necessary.

This process enables you to take control, regardless of what is happening around you. Remember that your power lies within you. It’s your gift waiting to be claimed. That’s when life gets good. Go for it.

www.innerarchitect.com