Start Where You’re At

By Lisa Selow

CC Image courtesy of kpishdadi on Flickr
CC Image courtesy of kpishdadi on Flickr

Many of you have big goals, dreams, and visions. You have desires. It all can get so overwhelming at times. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve stood there stopped in my tracks, thinking, “How will I get from here to there?”

Your desires might seem far away. Maybe you put them on the back burner for a while? Maybe you just can’t think about them ‘cause you’re not taking action and it hurts too much not to make them happen? Maybe you’re not sure where to even start? Yes, I know what those feelings are like too. I myself have been prone to procrastination and perfectionism, which ends up meaning that I wouldn’t start or finish anything.

I recommend starting where you’re at. Take one action step today in the direction of your desires. Tomorrow, same thing. Take another, small action step. Just keep going. (I like Dory’s quote in the animated film, “Finding Nemo”: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”) Eventually, you’ll get “there.”

I’m really not into the idea of “getting there,” though. I see the process as the place where there is joy. The destination, to be honest, is not as fun or sexy as the journey. So, why not enjoy the journey?

It’s totally okay to just start where you’re at, even if you are sort of imperfect. What if your so-called imperfection was PERFECT?

What if your human side is that part of you that is beautiful and talented? What if you are denying others joy in experiencing that part of you?

What if you didn’t wait to be an expert or have the perfect abs? I mean, everyone is a beginner in some way, I promise you. Be okay with looking like an ass or silly. Why not? What others think of you is none of your business, as a wise spiritual teacher once said.

This past year, I had to tap into my inner life coach due to some self-doubts. I let my ego get in the way of continuing towards my dreams. In an online group I’m in, I was discussing my dream of studying to become a yoga teacher in the future. Someone there projected their reality onto me about what it means to be a yoga teacher. She said you have to be “religious” about it all and dedicating most of your time to it, to be a great teacher. The person shared a video of some teachers doing the very “advanced” asanas (postures) in yoga. Also, she said that I’d probably get bored teaching yoga due to it not being creative enough for me.

All of these limiting beliefs were not mine, I realized. I did have to dig deep ‘cause it really hurt. I’m a sensitive type of person. I ended up seeing this hurtful exchange as a gift. It showed me what I really believe about being a yoga teacher:

  • I can start where I’m at. I’ve done yoga for years, but I don’t have to be perfect.
  • All that is required to teach is an open-heart and an intention to serve, along with the knowledge of teaching others how to do the asanas safely
  • It’s okay to be a work in progress.
  • I define teacher and student as the same thing. I really feel as though we are both.
  • I don’t have to be an expert. I can acquire the knowledge, wisdom, and guidance from books, classes, and teachers and share it with love in my heart.
  • I’ve probably been a yoga teacher in many past lives and that DOES count!
  • Yoga is more to me. It’s the connection within and to the divine and others. It’s the harmonics of music and peaceful feelings from meditation. It’s the feeling of flow and allowing and accepting. It’s union.
  • Yoga is not a religion. It’s a spiritual practice.
  • I don’t have to be able to do the “advanced asanas” so that I can teach yoga. Again, it’s okay to be a work in progress.
  • I am into beginner’s mind. I love approaching yoga and other things in life like I’m a little kid learning it for the first time.

So, I felt better.

What about you? Do you ever struggle with getting from here to there? How do you feel about starting where you’re at right now? How do you handle the naysayers when it comes to your goals, dreams, and vision? Please share in the comments below.

What If Making Your Dreams Come True Doesn’t Make You Happier?

By Lisa Selow

hemingwayquoteThe sales woman was kind to me, asking me if I needed help. I was taking my time, which has become a normal thing for me as I heal myself of chronic fatigue syndrome. Rushing around just isn’t an option any more.

She looked down at the dark bluish bruise on my right arm, blurting out, “Oh my gosh! How’d you get that bruise?”

I smiled as she apologized for asking a personal question.

I said, “It’s okay. I don’t mind sharing. I’ve been getting some intravenous nutrients the past two months. We couldn’t get the needle in my right arm last week, so I’m a bit bruised. I asked if we could try another vein and it didn’t work. Luckily, we found a vein in my left arm.”

I explained about my turning to integrative medicine again to heal chronic fatigue since it had worked for me in the late 1990s during my first bout of the illness. It turned out that the sales woman had a family member with similar challenges.

Really, there’s no coincidences. So, it made sense why I had shared so personally with a complete stranger. Maybe some of my journey could help her loved one, I reasoned.

The sales woman was curious about how I ended up getting sick. I didn’t want to keep her from doing her job, so I told her I’d give her the short version. I said I made a dream come true of getting my book published and I worked myself to the max for two years. I explained how I neglected my own self-care at times and how I became emotionally upset to the point of making myself ill.

We ended up having a deep conversation about the price we think we need to pay to make our dreams a reality. We both decided that maybe it could be fun or even easy next time around.

I smiled as I walked out of the store. Even though most days the past year I’ve been faced with two or three symptoms each day of varying degrees such as insomnia, digestive challenges, fatigue, soreness, migraines, and mild depression, I have hope. I know that I’ve healed myself before.

I’ve been doing my best to see this recent health challenge as a gift. I figure there’s some things I’m learning. I’ve been able to return to my passions and hobbies, self-care, and learning how to relax again. My inner teacher knows there’s lessons that I can pass along to (hopefully) help others. Some of these lessons have revealed themselves to me. I share the main ones learned so far here with you:

  1. Sometimes, making your dreams come true doesn’t make you happier. As someone who’s creative, sensitive, and a perfectionist, I push myself really hard. I’m hard on myself to do well and please others, along with my intention to be of service to others on the planet. Talk about pressure! I’ve learned that it’s so important to enjoy the process, not just the result. In hindsight, I see that I would have been much less stressed had I just enjoyed the simple pleasures of writing and marketing my book, instead of worrying about making it all perfect. The cost was not only my health, but my inner peace. I’m working on reclaiming both.
  2. If you help even one person, you’ve done your part. Yes, our human side really wants to touch as many lives as possible. If you’re an artist, healer, writer, musician, or scientist, you might be hoping to reach thousands, if not millions of people. You want to make the world a better place. This shows up for some as working to get as many media placements as possible to spread the message. This can be tiring and even distracting from your purpose of actually helping people. I’ve revised my vision to be helping a small corner of the world, the people or tribe I’m meant to help that I can help the most. It might be only hundreds of people and this is okay. If I kill myself overworking and striving in the process, I won’t be around to fulfill my mission
  3. I’ve learned that it’s not about me. Giving birth to a project or book can feel like such a personal thing. The thing is that we’re all an aspect of the universe. The universe needs us to do its work. We’re just willing channels for healing, writing, music, art, ideas, and inspiration. It doesn’t really belong to us personally. It belongs to everyone. Once we release the work into the world, it will take on its own shape and do what it’s meant to do. We might not have control over the process at all. If you’re working for the higher good of all, things will feel natural. If you’re working for your own ego’s gratification, it might not ever feel like enough. You’ll push yourself to achieve, do more, and be more. It becomes about the numbers, not helping people. I myself took on others’ definitions of success for a short time, which is not like me as one who is prone to questioning societal definitions and norms. I’m learning to be okay with how my definition of success is much different from corporate America’s and some in society. My definition includes life balance, happiness, and inner peace. These are more important to me than media placements, my book sales, my social media numbers, or becoming famous.
  4. I’ve learned that it’s so important to remember who you are when you’re working so hard on a goal or project. If you don’t know and honor your values (what’s important to you in life), you’ll get sidetracked. It is all too easy to be pulled in a million directions, but a bit more challenging to stay true to yourself. I myself noticed the areas I wasn’t being authentic and I’m taking small steps to correct this in my personal life and in my business. I’m already feeling happier.

What about you? Have you ever worked hard to make a dream come true and then, felt disappointed? Have you ever sacrificed your true self to work on a goal? How did it make you feel? I’d love to hear about your experiences. By sharing, I think it helps others to not feel so alone. We’re in this journey together.

Give Yourself Permission

By Lisa Selow

Permission slip for blog postWhen going through conscious type of life changes, sometimes our inner child feels like it needs approval from others. Even though I’m a rebel, preferring my inner authority instead of outside sources, I’m human.

It’s human to feel like you need approval, permission, or to get others’ opinions from time to time.

The challenge in waiting to get others’ approval is to not allow it to hold you back. I can get stuck in analysis, causing procrastination. If you’re sensitive (like me), sometimes, others’ words or even lack thereof, can make you start to question yourself. (By the way, I’m not saying to ignore others’ opinions, especially if you have a partner, children, loved ones, or others who will be affected by your choices. Of course, please consult them for at least the big stuff.)

I find that if I get a great idea or that I feel guided to make a change in my life often it feels right and I don’t need any opinions. Let’s say I want to change the color in my living room. I’m really drawn to coral and oranges lately with teal accents. I’m going to go for it soon. (Are you reading this, hubby? I need your painting skills!).

Some changes feel a bit more scary though. For example, I’ve had Bettie Page bangs since 2005. I’ve changed up my hair color often, but not my cut. For the past year, I’ve been agonizing about whether to let my bangs grow out. I mean, it’s just hair, right? I can cut it again, if I don’t like how the bangs turn out. I also have a stellar hairdresser whom I trust.

Other changes really scare me! Things like moving cross-country or doing my yoga teacher training. (I’m going to do the latter next year, if all goes well.) I know that some fears serve us. I don’t like the idea of jumping out of an airplane, but that is a good thing. It makes me go take a class, not that I ever would. I also have a healthy fear of going trekking in the Himalayas, but I know that I will one day. Of course, I will train for it and research the best guided trip for me, maybe doing some high altitude living for a spell to get acclimated.

I imagine that most of our first world changes that we desire to make or challenges we face pale in comparison to decisions having to be made in places that have war, natural disasters, government upheavals, revolution, poverty, and other distress. I do my best to imagine this, putting my little, old problems into perspective when I am trying to make decisions.

I’m not trying to guilt you with the prior paragraph about first world pain, and well, if you’re human, you’ve probably already mastered how to guilt trip yourself in the past. When I feel like I need approval or the green light, I see it as a chance to gently re-parent my inner child who feels lost. Then, I go into my inner adult or parent and mentally write myself a permission slip. I say you can even go one step further and make a physical permission slip, signing your name, something like the below:

“I, Lisa Selow, give myself full out permission to change the style of my hair, the colors of my website and the rooms in my house.” [date and sign]

Yes, it’s a mundane example, but hey, once you get used to giving yourself permission, it will get easier. I’ve found that this practice helps me to feel peaceful about my decision. I don’t worry as much about making the “right” decision. I only can make the best decision I can in the moment for where I’m currently at in life.

What about you? What do you need to write a permission slip for in your own life? Share in the comments below and let’s support each other.

Clean Your Closet…And Get More Creative?

CC Image courtesy of Librarian by becaberry on Flickr
CC Image courtesy of Librarian by becaberry on Flickr

Living in my small, quaint, 1959-built house is cozy and I wouldn’t trade my house for anything (except maybe a similar version right on the beach when I retire). The only downside is that the closets are 1959-sized (read: very, very small).

I’ve overtook two of our three closets. The upside to having such small closets is that it forces you to do a purge every couple of years. As I just typed the word couple, I cracked up, since really, I hadn’t cleaned out my closet in five years until recently, tackling my closet purge when hubby JT was out of town. My closets were so stuffed that I couldn’t push multiple items on hangers around in them without shoulder strain. Ouch!

I turned on some good classic rock and began the process on a Saturday afternoon. I did the usual sorting into piles such as Donate, Toss, and Unsure. (I just make my Keep pile the clothes still hanging up in my closet, as I go through item by item.) At the end, I try on the Unsure pile’s items and usually, I end up putting them into the Donate pile. I even cleaned out my drawers.

I felt so good, which is the whole point. I now can easily find things like my Rolling Stones t-shirt or my favorite pair of yoga pants. I’ve experienced the expected feelings of relief from my closet purge, but with an unexpected benefit too. I’m more creative! 

I reason that it’s because I made more space for new things. A friend gifted me a cute jacket shortly after my closet purge. Yet, I didn’t realize that besides new, physical items that aspects or qualities I was desiring would come into my life as well. Whoa! This is interesting.

Inspiration has hit and I’ve been writing poems, song lyrics, and playing my guitar more. It’s hard to keep up with all the ideas that are downloading each day for my life, art, music, and business. I always carry a notebook with me to record them, so I don’t forget them. Creativity has expanded in every area of my life, including my writing, cooking, yoga practice, and even my beauty routine (ah, the joy of eye shadow palettes!). I am doing artwork again, using all my fun supplies. I even felt motivated to move my supplies from the basement into my upstairs office, finding innovative solutions for my small space.

It wasn’t until a month or so after that I made the connection between reducing my closet and increasing my creative flow. When I thought about it though, the connection makes sense. Feng Shui experts talk about how clutter prevents new things and conditions from coming into our lives. Law of attraction experts discuss how the universe abhors a vacuum and new things, people, or conditions have to come into our lives once we make space for them.

I asked my friend who is a decluttering professional what she thought about my recent creativity surge and she said something along these lines:  “Well, it’s all connected. If you feel good after you reduce your possessions and open up a space, you will do even more things that feel good.” This made me smile because my friend is down-to-earth and tells it like it is.

Gosh, it’s that simple? Okay, sign me up! I’m going declutter some more.

How about you? What benefits do you receive from cleaning out your closets or from decluttering? Share in the comments below.