Do Unto Yourself as you Do Unto Others

Here's a question: Why are we so hard on ourselves? If a loved one falls, screws up, or misses the mark how do we respond? We offer encouragement don't we? A listening ear, an understanding heart. We bring to their mind all the successes they've had, the unique talents they bring to the world. We help them however we can and wait patiently while they work through their personal disaster.

Now then...what is the response when WE ourselves do something less than stellar? We calls ourselves names, remember all our past failures, put ourselves down. Basically any form of "NOT GOOD ENOUGH" comes springing forth and we just accept it like we deserve the punishment. Like somehow we are making it better by tormenting ourselves.

Where does this "NOT GOOD ENOUGH" come from?

Not on an individual basis, but as a human species. Did the caveman say, "Me only catch one bear today. Me not good enough." Seriously. It's like a mental virus (a meme) that has spread through the human psyche. We can love anyone else through their issues, but no way, not our own self.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH is just an idea, a mental construct that we "catch" from our culture like a disease.

It isn't real. Let me say that again. It. Isn't. Real. We have the ability to extend grace, love, and patience to ourselves, just as we would any other loved one. I have discovered a very powerful question. I ask this to myself whenever I notice me beating myself up. The question is this...

"How would I be in this situation if I had no ego?"

Now I know your little ego is screaming out in resistance right now. Whether you believe the ego is real or not, just play along. Next time you feel the urge to begin hurling insults at yourself step back for a moment. Imagine your best friend is in the situation. What would you say to them? How much love can you pour on? Imagine that you have no ego to defend. If you can't let go of "ego" fine. At least remember all the past successes you've had. But for goodness sake, do for yourself what you so easily extend to others.

Yowza! I feel the next Disruption Mission coming on after writing this. Can you guess where we're gonna go? Stay tuned. It's gonna be a doozy!!


To BE or not to BE?

The bulk of my life has been spent obsessing over “doing” stuff. I must DO something in order to achieve something so I can feel fulfilled for 2 seconds. Then I must strive to find the next thing to DO, so I can DO it again. Of course the next phase of DOING must be grander than the previous, otherwise I am not progressing which means I am failing and basically wasting my time on this planet. No matter what I DO it’s never enough. There is always some other elusive “over there” to arrive at. I am tired of living like this.

Just DO it!
Our culture tells us that we must DO in order to BE successful.  So we fill our days with ridiculous busyness, DOING crap that doesn’t matter: shuffling our kids to numerous activities, fixing broken possessions or acquiring new ones, working at jobs we hate and commuting to those jobs. Everyone I know is so darn busy they don’t even have time for developing real relationships. Leisure time is spent in a pre-packaged activity that must end by a certain time so we can get to another appointment on time. 

If I take away everything I DO out of obligation, and everything I DO to feel fulfilled there is nothing but a hollow shell of a person.

Thus enters the concept of “being”. We seem to have the idea that we must DO something in order to become who we want to BE. How about the notion that we must BE first? If I am totally in a place of BEING then anything I DO will arise naturally from my beingness, not from a place of “I’m empty, so DOING this will fill me.” This is what Taoism means by “non-action”. I love the notion of just BEING a mother, a wife, a friend, a filmmaker and not worrying about the DOING part.

But what does it mean to BE? 
I would say a BEING person is one who is totally in the moment, no concern over past or future. They would live from a continually spontaneous place with absolute detachment from whatever DOING arises.
“Who cares?” Some of you may be saying. But for me this is a fascinating mental shift. One that I am going to explore more. 

For example yesterday I was DOING laundry. 
I detest laundry. So rather than thinking about how I have to DO the laundry (and feeling resentful about it) I decided to BE the person who does laundry. I totally focused on BEING in the process vs DOING so I can get this crap done so I can DO something else and cross it off my list and feel happy for half a second. It was really quite amazing. What does it mean to BE a mother vs DOING all the stuff mom’s DO? It is almost like you are concentrating on the role itself, not the job a role performs. 

It is much like being an actor. 
An actor focuses on playing the role. The stuff the character DOES is secondary. Also, the actor knows she is just playing a role so she is quite detached from the results of her character’s activities (doing). I am very excited about this! I love the idea of just BEING and not striving to DO DO DO all the time. What do you think?


Happines Is: dancing with abandon

Surrounded by a hundred sweaty bodies
Lost in tribal rhythms
Leaving ego at the door
Dancing harder than I've danced in years
Letting everything go
Pure Bliss


Discovering the Ultimate Rut

Repetition is the creator of ruts. Think of drawing a line in the dirt with a stick. Each time you retrace the line a bit more dirt gives way, the line gets deeper. If you do it long enough you eventually have a ditch, a river bed, a canyon. 

I drew that first innocent line in the dirt when I was 9 years old.
At a store one day I saw a huge stuffed animal, a dog, and I wanted it so badly. It was $25. That was a ton of money. But I learned about working hard and earning money. I worked and saved for months. When I passed that store window I always worried the dog would be gone. But it waited for me. Every night I would count my dollars. After what seemed an eternity I had $25. I got the dog. My dream came true. The exhilaration of working hard and attaining my goal surpassed all other feelings of happiness I’d experienced. I was hooked.

I had a regular job by age 13. All through high school my friends had fun. I worked. Nothing was as important as earning money and a sense of achievement. I woke up at 5:00 AM to work at the local TV station for 3 hours before going to school all day. I was driven. I loved it. During college I worked three jobs simultaneously. Then I worked my butt off to pass the stock broker’s test on the first try, which I did. Yes, I was quite an over-achiever. Still striving for my first million, I decided to start listening to my heart and get a job in something I felt “passionate” about, which was making movies. For five years I worked for a production company that produces wedding videos. Then I started my own business making family documentaries. According to our culture I was successful. And for a while it was fun.

But two years ago the fun began to wear off.

All I did was work.  I didn’t know how to be a good mom to our two beautiful babies. I didn’t know how to be a true friend to another person. And I had totally lost myself as an artist because I was making the same movie over and over, only the characters changed. I experienced the most massive case of burn out possible. Work and achieving stuff had taken over my identity. Whenever I had a week without work I was a mess, not knowing what to do with myself. Meanwhile I was getting so BORED.  One of my movie projects kept blowing up but I kept pushing to get it done. It kept blowing up and finally I listened. “Why am I doing this?” I have no clue what is going on in my kids’ lives. I never see my husband. All that matters is this stupid movie that’s going nowhere fast. 

Cutting the Cord

This was 2 months ago. I made a terrifying decision. I pulled the plug on that project. I stopped working. Those first few weeks were awesome. I relaxed. I cleaned the house. I hung out with my kids. I drank tequila. But the next few weeks were pure panic. Without work I have no clue who I am. It WAS my identity.

Our lives are so full of busyness. We cling so tightly to the roles we define ourselves by. Why? I think it is because we are terrified of what we might see if we let it all go. What if we strip it all away and there is NOTHING. (ummm, yes, that IS what happens by the way). At first I was terrified of this NOTHING. But I’m getting used to it now. I’m beginning to see that if you sit with the nothingness for a while you begin to hear delicate whispers…the authentic self begins to peek out from behind the rock, beginning to believe it’s safe for her to start coming out. This is the ultimate RUT DISRUPTION.

The moral of this story is this: I firmly believe the thing that takes the most of our time, our most highly prized role, is probably the ONE that is clutching us deepest in our own rut.


Happiness Is: the just plain weird

unique "flowerpot" in my neighborhood

Ok, this doesn't necessarily make me happy, but it was bizarre enough make make me chuckle for about 5 minutes nonstop. Seeing something out of the ordinary is usually enough to disrupt our normal thought patterns even if just for a moment.


Cardboard Cut-out Mission: Results

Well? How did it go? Did you attempt last week's mission to connect with those usually unnoticed people in your life?
 For me the results weren't surprising, but the main thing I noticed was how much fun I had. I figured most people would be friendly in response to my attempt to make a tiny connection with them. Indeed. 100% of my attempts had a positive result or at least a smile attached. Even the barista who was quite annoyed when I spilled my large mocha all over the floor 2 seconds after receiving it. (Hey, it was Monday morning, go easy!) But when I kept making jokes (at my expense) by the time she gave me a free refill she blessed me with a tiny smile. Score!

I noticed a couple times where it just wasn't practical to talk to someone. Sometimes the circumstances don't permit it. I was running late to pick up my child from school, or the other person was rushing by in an obvious hurry.  

But some really cool things did happen just because I made the effort.

I actually learned the name of the daycare lady at the gym who cares for my child every week so I can exercise. I thanked her, because I really appreciate she's there so I can workout when it fits my schedule. She seemed surprised but grateful when I thanked her. And for those of you wondering, yes, I did have a small conversation with the hot guy at the gym...since I was there might as well right? I learned the checkout guy at my grocery store has cool taste in music. When I asked him about it his face lit up and we chatted the whole time about music. The subsequent times I've gone into that store he has struck up cool conversations with me and I now have a tiny window into this kid's life. Amazing!

The strangest encounter of the week involved no words at all.

Whenever I'd go into a public place I would have the intention of connecting with the people there. I was at Chipotle's and a gentleman sitting at another table got up to leave. As he was putting on his coat I noticed him. For some reason he looked right at me. There was this moment when our eyes connected and we silently acknowledged each other. I don't mean in a "Hey, baby" kind of way. It was like two random people in the busy swirl of the universe saying hello to the common human element in the other. We nodded to each other and the moment ended as if nothing ever happened.

Going Forward

I have every intention of continuing to connect with random people who pop into my life for brief moments. I know I will have to be conscious of it, otherwise I will become complacent again. If you tried the mission, what experiences did you have? Was it hard for you to get out of your own head and notice others? Did anything interesting happen because of your efforts? Did you learn anything about yourself?

Leave a comment with your blog address if you have one. That way I can stop over for a visit and make a connection with YOU! No reason why this can't work in cyberspace too :)


Happiness Is: Themed Halloweens

A few months ago I decided to actually care about Halloween this year. In previous years I was always ramping up for the busy season in my business. But since I am on a hiatus right now I was finally allowed to dive deep into this mysterious holiday and actually have a bit of fun.

The girls' fave TV show is "Teen Titans" and the husband is a comic book freak, so it seemed the obvious choice. We would each pick a character of the show to dress up as. Of course the girls changed their minds multiple times but here is how it finally worked out:

I haven't worn a costume since early highschool and that was over 20 years ago. I've never seen my husband wear one either. But let me just say that both of us had as much fun and felt as childlike as the kids. We had a blast. It felt kinda cool to hide behind a mask, yet feel the innate power of super-herodome :)

At the end of Halloween night I tucked my older child into bed. She looked at me and said, "Mom, Halloween is a time to be thankful." I questioned her to find out what she meant. Here is her response, "Today wasn't about candy or costumes. It was about doing something really fun with my family." To me right now during these days of career sabbatical, this is what happiness is.


DISTRUPTION MISSION: connecting with cardboard cutouts

I was browsing in a shop the other day when the salesclerk approached me. The following conversation ensued:

Her: Hello. How are you today?
Me: Fine.
Her: Can I help you find anything?
Me: No I'm just looking.
Her: Ok. Let me know if you have any questions.
Me: Ok. Thanks.

A few minutes later another person entered the store. The salesclerk approached her and the same exact conversation occurred between them. That got me thinking. How many times a day does this poor salesclerk have this same conversation? How many times as the shopper do I have this exact exchange with every sales person? I started thinking about the lady working the grocery store checkout line. The hot guy at the gym. "How are you?" "Fine. Thanks." End of story.

These encounters are so typical and so boring that we don't even notice them. In fact I refer to these people as cardboard cutouts. It's disgusting and terrible I know. I am always so lost in my own thoughts it doesn't occur to me that this is a real person in front of me. I am certain these working people feel the same about me. "Here comes another boring customer. Ho-hum."

Announcing the first official DISRUPTION MISSION

How many times a day do I miss an opportunity to meet someone new? Discover what they are like? Maybe surprise them a bit by actually caring enough to find out more about them? Maybe I can brighten someone's day. Maybe they spark a new idea for me. Who knows what can happen.

For the next week I am going to try to engage random strangers in an interesting conversation. I am going to attempt to connect with the cardboard cutouts and see what happens. I am going to cease being a cardboard cutout to others.

 As I feel our culture is highly lacking in personal relationships this will be an opportunity to challenge my own rut. We have no problem friending acquaintances on facebook, but taking time to meet people face-to-face seems to be a dying art. For the next week I am going to step outside the BORING ZONE and stir things up. I will report my results in next week's post.

The Challenge

And I challenge you. Next time that dude at the gas station asks how you are doing maybe shock the bored-to-death guy by responding in a unique or humorous way. These cardboard cutouts are real people. How often I forget that. Let's have fun pushing the comfort zone!