We have a bit of an obsession in our culture. It’s called overachieving. And we have grown to believe deep, deep down that if we are not OVERachieving, we are not achieving anything at all.
Why do I know this? Because I do it. All. The. Time.
Those closest to me (and probably anyone within a 53 mile radius) can attest to the sad-but-true fact that I cannot seem to slow down EVER. Despite my best efforts and telling myself little-white-lies about how I didn’t really do THAT much today, I am an obsessive over-achiever with the best of ’em.
So, I decided to try something new…UNDERachieving. Yep, for the past six weeks it has been my sole purpose to figure out what it means to be bored. Scheduling as little as possible and even SITTING ON THE COUCH!!!! (Hence the lack of posts here of late…)
Did I do it? Well, yes and no. As I look back, I see days when I have no idea what I did because it was certainly nothing measurable! But I also look back and see that I still did a fair amount of over-scheduling, I went on a whirlwind trip to New Orleans for 5 days, and last week I had something on the schedule – every. single. day.
So, um…why do I say I accomplished the goal? Because I was aware. Because I DID change some of my frenetic habits. Because I spent some of those days releasing clutter from my life (thank you Beth Shaw and YogaLean for the prompt on this one!). Because I returned to my practice of sitting in meditation twice a day. Because I made a concentrated effort to actually experience my experiences (thanks Ron Martoia). And because I came out of denial and owned my overachieving craziness and decided to LOVE MYSELF ANYWAY! And, I think that last little bit on self-love actually released some of my need to overdo it all the time.
Here’s a challenge – try it for yourself. Maybe you don’t have the luxury of taking a six-week trial or don’t want to, but set a time that works for you and explore what it looks and feels like to do less, and sit more, and watch the clouds roll by (it’s called practicing awareness). It’s pretty amazing what we see when we take the time to release the need for achieving. I’d love to hear what happens! Leave a comment below or email me!
It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The sky is a gorgeous blue with the prettiest puffy clouds. I slept in this morning, had some breakfast, and am home with the fam for the afternoon. Everyone is doing their own thing. We are all healthy. We have everything we need.
I was thinking about writing something and all I could think was, “Do dragonflies ever have bad days?”
If I sit and ponder why I DO feel lifeless and blue, it’s because nothing exciting is going on. I don’t have anything on the schedule today and if I’m completely honest, I am fairly addicted to having something to DO. All. The. Time. I want to have an appointment to go to, or a yoga class to teach, or a coffee date with a friend. Or something. Anyone else ever do this? Can I get a witness?
So, I can’t really ask a dragonfly if they have bad days, but here’s why I don’t think they do:
Like this moment. Even if there’s nothing to do. Even if there’s lots to do. Even if they are with all the other dragonflies. Even if they are all by themselves. Every single moment is full of life for them.
One of my favorite yoga songs has this line – “Even loneliness is full of life.” And it is. So, I think I will take a lesson from the dragonflies and the yoga song and experience the fullness of the moment – even if it’s a little blue, or lonely, or downright boring. Because, really, the amazing moments are only amazing because of the ho-hum moments on a random, beautiful, Sunday afternoon.
One of the best ways I know to get in touch with the now is to do a presence meditation. The best ones for me, especially when I am so obviously dealing with a busy-ness addiction is to sit outside for 15-30 minutes and simply notice all the beauty around me. Whenever I get distracted with a thought (often), I just remind myself that I am practicing presence and come back to the observation. Sometimes this just doesn’t work and when that’s the case, I like to use a mindfulness app that gives me a little guidance.
And with that said – I am headed outside! I actually do feel better all ready. Amazing!
Like all of us, I came into this world knowing how to simply “be.” Then somewhere along the way, I forgot what that was like and it took some number of years for me to re-learn what “being” felt like. Here’s how that happened:
I am the only child in my family. And an adopted only child at that. I used to have a lot of issues around that, but I am on the other side now and couldn’t be more grateful for how I came to be my parents’ daughter. But that is a story for another day. . .
ANYWAY (it might be good to note here that I am easily distracted) –
We lived on 5 acres on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. We were pretty removed from city conveniences (which had its inconveniences), but what was GREAT about it was that it was so peaceful. Wide open spaces. Little ponds. A few wild animals here and there. It was a grand place to grow up!
One evening when I was around 10 years old, my dad and I walked to the back of the property to pick blackberries and tend to the garden where we grew potatoes, strawberries, okra (it was Oklahoma, people, we had to have fried okra), pumpkins and more yellow squash than the entire county could consume in a summer. By the time we were done, the sun was setting and the evening cooling off a little. Dad and I walked on the path that went in between two tiny little creeks where I would fish for crawdads in the afternoons. We were talking about the constellations and I wanted to know how to find them. So, we laid down in the cool green grass on our backs and he showed me how to find the Little Dipper, Orion, and a bunch of other ones I have since forgotten.
We could have been there for 5 minutes or an hour. I don’t know. Or care. It has lived in my memory all these years and reminds me that the simplest things can also be the most profound. My heart rate and breathing automatically slow down and stress melts away when I remember that time and it was 30+ years ago!
I know we all come into this world knowing ONLY how to “be.” Then we forget. With any grace at all, we remember somewhere along the journey. I am so grateful for my experience. It has been a cornerstone for me.
I would be honored to hear your story of the first time you remembered how to “be” still and free. If you’d like to share it, please leave a comment below.