Monthly Archives: March 2011

Killer Moves

– Contributed by Wee C

Dancing Queen

Photo source: The Body Odd on msnbc.com (http://tinyurl.com/4qtzlvj)

It was an epic moment in television history…when Elaine Benes showed off her killer dance moves and wowed the world with her unforgettable style and grace. I’m always so flattered when people tell me I dance just like her. I mean, she’s a total star and no one ever forgets how she danced. Sigh, I’m the luckiest girl on earth.

I don’t know how I do it. I’ve been able to move like that for as long as I can remember. High school dances, proms, gala events, house parties. I’ve always managed to get people talking when I get up to dance. Pointing and whispering. In amazement, of course. In fact, there’s a reason we didn’t have a dance at our wedding…I would have put the other guests to shame. Brought them to tears, even. Sobbing, turn-your-head-away-because-you-blind-me-with-your-brilliance, tears. I think you’d call it a gift, my ability to move people with my dancing, but I’m much too modest for that.

So, when Paula Abdul got up on stage to teach us new choreography at Bust a Move I knew that I would be able to rock out with her, the Laker Girl, and the So You Think You Can Dance finalist she had brought with her. Straight up, I’d forever be their girl.

Tragically, though, I had been placed at the back of the event room. Hidden from view. Only to be seen by the poor wallflowers at the back who just couldn’t get it together enough to keep up and follow along. How awful it must have been for them to watch me in horror…the horror of knowing that they could never move like me. Longing for my coordination, my fluidity, my swagger. My moves are so unique, they could never duplicate them.

Oh, jealousy is a cruel emotion. I could feel them whispering amongst themselves behind me. It’s so hard being that girl, but there’s one in every crowd and you can’t apologize for being remarkable. That’s denying your gift and that’s all kinds of wrong.

So I continued on, making my arm movements all the bigger, throwing my hips more dramatically, and doing everything I could to prevent myself from adding in my signature move…the snapping of the fingers. That would have sent them over the edge, I’m quite sure of it.

Admittedly, there came a point, where I just had to stop. It broke my heart to give up my chance for Paula to see me, call me out of the crowd and up onto the stage, but I was filled with sorrow for the girls on the wall. I knew that if I didn’t stop, they would melt into a puddle of self-doubt and despair. And I’m far too kind to allow that to happen. So, selflessly, I abandoned my one shot to make it big and I joined them on the wall. I could immediately see a deep, deep sense of relief come over their faces. It bordered on jubilation. I knew I had done the right thing.

It’s so hard keeping a talent like this bottled up. But my friends and loved ones have always encouraged me to remain modest and to use extreme moderation in showing off my mad skills. It’s sweet how protective they are over me, really. So I heed their advice and choose my venues wisely. Wedding receptions, though? That’s my beat. Thank goodness I have one coming up soon. That crowd? They won’t know what hit them. At least not until they see my flailing arms propelling me across the room. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

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Step 1 for Being Gracefully Unique: Feel Creative

– Contributed by Big L

My ideas for blog content have been lacking lately. Between business changes, wedding planning, weekly blogging for Stratejoy, and the dreaded end-of-winter BLAHs, I don’t have any brain juice left.

In typical me fashion, I spent a bit of time yesterday problem solving my way out of this jam. The result is that I have an idea for a seven-part blogging series. Here it goes:

Remember in January, when I wrote about my themes for 2011? I was so excited to tell you that this year, I want to be GRACEFULLY UNIQUE.

Well guess what? We’re almost three months into the year and I’m not feeling especially graceful OR unique. Crap. I even have a seven-page plan, outlining how I can nurture each of my seven values, which in turn, will keep the graceful uniqueness flowing. Except, I haven’t looked at it once since I wrote it. My cup of graceful uniqueness does not runneth over.

For each of the next seven weeks, I’m going to write about one of my values and my ideas for a bunch of little ways I can nurture it more. My hope is that by verbalizing each one, I’ll internalize it more. I also hope that you’ll have some additional ideas I can throw into the mix.

Let’s get started!

#1: Creativity

To feel creative and nurture my inner artist, I should express or participate in creativity every day! Ways to do that include:

  • Draw, colour or paint something
  • Creative writing
  • Read an inspiring book
  • Edit a photo or video clip
  • Make a collage or vision board
  • Work on wedding invitations and decor
  • Visit an art gallery
  • Watch live theatre
  • Write and doodle with markers
  • Dance
  • Visit a craft store
  • Sing
  • Make a scrapbook page
  • Brainstorm about something
  • Attend a concert of some sort
  • Watch a good movie
  • Paint pottery
  • Take a workshop of some sort
  • Go take some photos
  • Make a craft
  • Read fiction
  • Flip through my motivational books or coffee table books

There it is, team. Value #1 is creativity; being creative allows me to feel gracefully unique.

Ideas for how to action the value, keep it top of mind, and embrace it more fully are so, so welcome. Bring it on.

{Photo credit}

Coming Back and Moving On

– Contributed by Wee C

Coming back is what I hate and love the most about any trip. I loathe the day before/travel day. That sense of despair that comes with returning to reality and accepting that the bliss of vacation simply can’t last forever. You pack with far less enthusiasm than you did pre-vacation. Your mood turns a bit somber, already remembering memories that you haven’t yet finished creating. You hold onto that pina colada with a death grip, sucking every last morsel out of the bottom of the cup. Mucho rum! Mucho rum! Insert long, heavy, sad sigh here.

But not long after that comes the post-vacation recall. I find myself smiling at random things, remembering how lovely it all was. Others may have lost their memory on the trip, and are quite likely smiling about that, too. For me, though, vacations almost always yield insights. You become quiet enough to reflect, to see life for what it is (and isn’t), to find the you that may have been lost in the driving pace of work, a troubled relationship, or just simply the mundane rhythm of life. You’re stimulated in ways you would never be at home, you experience and try things that the shackles of life may otherwise prevent, and damn it all, I guarantee you just have way more fun.

Coming back inevitably helps me to move on. I mean that both literally and figuratively. Yesterday, I came back from a beyond delightful trip to Mexico, filled with friends (old and new), laughter, and a little bit of misbehaving. Yesterday, I literally came back from one of the more memorable experiences in my life, one that has helped me move on in more ways than I can count. For that, I am grateful.

Figuratively, I’m also coming back. I’m coming back from a journey that was dark and lonely, and pretty darned miserable. It was a journey (because it sure as hell wasn’t a vacation) that led me to places I never wanted to visit and to experience things I had worked so hard to not have to experience. But, the truth of the matter was I took the journey. I went through it. I owned it. Oh, I make it sound so noble. Let’s be clear, I didn’t go willingly. But with encouragement from Big L (well, it may have been more firm directive), she sent me on a Dante-esque journey through purgatory and hell, telling me to open myself up to experiencing every ounce of pain that can I could possibly handle (she’s such a good friend). Because, as she says, you can’t action your way out of tragedy, you simply have to experience it. Seriously, where does this wisdom come from?

Truth be told, I had the same feelings about coming back from my nasty, miserable, no-fun-at-all journey as I do about the wonderful, delightful ones. Leaving it behind felt kind of sad. In the middle of my journey, I thought I would be stuck there forever…like the plane WOULD NEVER LEAVE. And boy, did I want it to leave. But crossing over to return home felt like I was leaving a piece of me behind. Indeed I was. Now that I’m here, though, I realize that it’s coming back that allows you to move on.

I don’t know that I won’t have to take another crummy trip in the not-so-distant future, in fact I fully expect I will have to, but what I can guarantee is that I’ll get on the bus and go, however bumpy, vomit-inducing and painful it may be. Because, boys and girls, the lesson of the day is that you have to go to come back. It’s not rocket science, but the outcome is equally profound.

Different lives; same struggle

– Contributed by Big L

How do we learn to be as laid back as these two?

I realized recently that a few important woman in my life are in strangely parallel places right now, myself included.

Wee C has been reflecting on the importance of unconditional love and is starting to discover that the most important person you can give it to is yourself.

My dear friend and mentor Maggie has been blogging about being on the road to contentment. Again, seeking peace and calm within herself in a way she never has before.

My wonderful friend Krista is trying to learn how to focus on being instead of doing, another version of the same uphill battle.

And next? Enter my Mom, Valerie. A woman who is even more focused on outputs than I am. A woman who, just like the ones mentioned above, has been working hard since she was a kid, pleasing others, serving others, and being better than average all of the time because, well, there is no other option. A woman who has multiple reasons to give herself permission to be, nurture, breathe, and self love, but has no idea where to start.

Wee C, Maggie, Krista, my Mom and I are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. From the outside, the stories of our lives are very different. On the inside, our struggles are very much the same.

In today’s post, my Mom shares what this struggle looks like for her:

I woke up today with the intention of being very productive. But then again, I wake up every day with the same intention. That’s what I do. I DO.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when I am totally unproductive. But the thing is, I feel guilty about being unproductive. Being unproductive = wasting time.  And just to be clear, journaling (or blogging), reading for enjoyment and/or self-improvement, exercising, chatting with family and friends does NOT qualify as productive. Not for me. I can’t even enjoy a long bath for God’s sake! I need to read, or plan, or solve. My entire life is based on productivity!

AND to add to the weirdness: I have coached business owners, students, and busy Moms; I have delivered workshops and seminars; I have facilitated support groups…all with the same goal: to encourage others to find the time to look after themselves, to be with family and friends. I often say, “Time Management is not about doing more, it’s about doing what is important”. Big sigh. It’s not that I don’t know this shit; I just don’t practice what I preach.

The only time I ever give myself permission to be unproductive is when I am not well. Which, coincidently, is often: I have experienced debilitating migraines, cancer, mono, long bouts of radiation-related colitis, fibromyalgia, etc. etc.

But, why can’t I give myself permission to be unproductive and healthy at the same time? I am 54 and I have worked since I was 14. To be honest, I didn’t always have a lot of choice. I had responsibilities. But my life is different now. I don’t have to put in a 60-hour workweek. My Girl is all grown up; she doesn’t need Mom like she used to…she is in a loving, stable relationship with a wonderful young man who is always there for her. And I am in a great relationship too, with a man who actually encourages me to only work part time! He wants me to look after myself!

But how do I change a lifetime of productivity and hard work? How do I do all the things I enjoy, like reading, and writing without the guilt? I want to blog! I want to write a book! I want to spend more time looking after me; to rest, meditate, eat better, cook instead of buying frozen meals, exercise, practice Qigong everyday! I want to work part time and be OK with it. I don’t know how to do those things!  I don’t know how to change “My Program”!

My Girl tells me I need to just start. So that is what I am going to do. This blog post is my jumping-off point. I woke up this morning with the intention of being productive. But instead I am sitting here at 3:00 (in my jammies I might add) writing my first blog; something I have wanted to do for months!

I am surrounded by boxes (I just moved and should be unpacking), I have no clean clothes (I should be doing laundry), I have emails to send, and client work that’s due, my bed isn’t even made (gasp!) but for the rest of the day (and evening) I am going to be unproductive and be OK with it. Not because I am sick, just because I choose it. I will read. I will call my aunt to chat. I will snuggle with my cats. I will drink tea. I will watch Oprah. I will be unproductive despite having work to do, and I will be OK! Damn it!

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.