Yet More Gratitude
I’m learning so much as a new business owner. And it constantly astonishes me just how generous people are – with their time, their wisdom, their genuine desire to see me and other small business owners succeed.
Lately, as I look around for sources of information and inspiration, I’m reminded of the generous and gracious people who have helped me get this far. Who showed me what it means to be a leader. Who taught me how to show up as the person I really want to be. Who kindly acknowledged my failures, stood by as I climbed back up and dusted myself off, and gently pointed out spots I was likely to trip over again.
I have been truly blessed with many mentors – formal and informal – throughout my career. Somehow, these amazing women ( they are all women in my case) decided I was worthy of their investment of time, energy, and, dare I say it, love. I know for a fact that I would not be the person I am today were it not for their guidance and support over many years.
When my confidence flags, I can remember that these astonishing women see me as worthy of their time. When I’m unsure of the next right action to take, they are the first people I pick up the phone to call. And on occasion, I get the beautiful gift of giving back to them. Nothing is as wonderful as being of service to someone who has given so much to me.
Who are your mentors? How do you know that’s what they are to you? And when was the last time you told them how grateful you are for their role in your life?
Just Show Up
We had an impromptu play date with a friend and his two year old this afternoon. Hot chocolate was made and consumed, corn bread was mixed and baked, drums were played, and pictures were drawn.
I didn’t take a single picture or even think to until our friend was long gone and Lily tucked into bed. After a brief moment of regret, I realized it was a good sign. I wasn’t thinking at all about the future during that hour and a half. Just watching two girls figure out how to crack eggs and share markers. And now I get the gift of remembering how wonderful moments can be when I just show up fully for them.
The universe has been reminding me lately just how good I’ve got it. Close calls crossing the street, news stories about parents who have outlived their children, friends who are struggling financially. It puts my life in perspective and reminds me to be grateful for what and who I’ve got in my life.
There’s a myriad of research and writing out there about the benefits of what some call a gratitude practice. Acknowledging on a regular basis what we’re grateful for seems to, at the very base of it, make us happier. Makes sense. So I tried gratitude journals. I’ve even tried a gratitude blog. Truth be told, I was no good at either. I’d build up some steam and then lose it again just as quickly. But in the process, I discovered that acknowledging what I’m grateful for each day does in fact open up a new space in my heart.
So I continue to practice. I’ve found just thinking it isn’t quite enough. And since I can’t seem to write it down regularly, I just speak it. If I’m grateful to someone for something, I tell them so. And everything else? I say it out loud before I go to sleep. To no one in particular, or to the universe, depending on who I think is listening that day.
What are you grateful for? What does knowing that you’re grateful do to your awareness? Your mood?
What You see Depends on Where You Look
Sun streamed through the front window. For the first time in days, I turned off the lights. They weren’t necessary.
I walked through the house and out the back door. The garbage needed to go out. Stepped outside. Cloudy. Snowing.
Back inside, sun still poured through the front window.
I’m sure this is a living metaphor for something. I just don’t know what.
Meanwhile, I’ll take it as a reminder that what you see depends entirely on where you look.
Never Ending. Until It Ends.
Lily was pissed. I had declined to give her something she really wanted. Really. Wanted. (What was it that was so important? I don’t remember.)
She yelled. She kicked. She yelled some more. When she started experimenting with hitting things, I wondered aloud if banging her cup against the tub helped her feel better.
“Noooo!” she wailed. “I’m never going to feel better!”
Sometimes it’s all we can do to get through this gloomy minute. And then the next. And then the next.
And sometimes we just need to bash a cup against the side of the tub until it turns into a song.
A client was struggling with feelings that he’d been overlooked by his supervisors. Plagued by feelings that he was doing something wrong, he wondered why colleagues were being chosen to lead efforts that he was equally, if not more, qualified to take charge of. What was going on? He admitted to feeling a bit jealous of his colleagues. They had something bright and shiny, and he wanted it too.
We began to dig into those feelings. What did it mean that he was being overlooked? What information did he need to gather in order to understand the situation? Who did he need to get that information from?
In the course of our conversation, it became clear that he was being groomed for another leadership role. One that he had expressed particular interest in. Suddenly, he didn’t seem invisible. And he gained tremendous clarity about how he needed to focus his time and energy to make the most of the opportunities that were being made available.
We’re all part magpie: attracted to shiny things that are just out of reach. Sometimes the glittery thing that catches our eye is exactly what we need to see to grow. Other times, it’s simply a distraction.
What’s catching your eye today? Is it valuable, or just a bauble that will pull you off course? How do you tell the difference? And how will you act accordingly?
Breaking the Rules
It’s Spirit Week at my daughter’s school. Each day, they get to dress up according to a theme devised by a panel of 8th graders. And while there may be those among the older kids who are feeling jaded and bored with the idea of having crazy hair today, Lily is over the moon that she has TWO PONY TAILS! ON TOP OF HER HEAD! And she’s almost mad with excitement that on Friday they get to wear pajamas. Outside! At school!
Kids love it when they get to break the rules. Things like spirit week create energy through the controlled chaos they generate. Lily generally loves school, but getting her out the door in the morning is generally a huge chore. Not today. The prospect of showing off her crazy hair was enough to send her rocketing down the sidewalk.
What rule – big or small – could you bend today to create a bit of enjoyable chaos? What’s just crazy enough to get you and your colleagues excited without upending the apple cart completely? And how can you make it happen?
I'm interested in what keeps us engaged in our work, the world, and each other.