Last week, I had a phone session with a life coach.
I billed it as book research - one of my protagonists is working with a life coach to get through something - but it quickly became more than research. It became about me. My life. What I love about my life and what I'd like to work on. Anyway, her name is Libby Nelson and she was smart and thoughtful and honestly I wished we could have talked for hours. It just felt like a really good conversation, you know? I came away from our session with many thoughts and ideas, but I just have time to share a few. And please note that what follows is my utterly non-expert interpretation of what Libby said and what we talked about. She was far more eloquent than I will be here:
1. We can change ourselves and our lives. It is up to us to write our stories & edit them.
Oh how I love a good writing metaphor. Just this morning, I was getting ready in my bathroom and that catchy Natasha Bedingfield song came on and, yes, I danced around in my bathrobe. Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten. It is both liberating and alarming, I think, to realize that we are the authors of our lives, that the onus is upon us to edit them to be the stories we want them to be. There will be plot points and characters that are beyond our control, but much of the tale is up to us.
2. We must remember that we are human and allow ourselves to be flawed.
We are human beings. We have flaws and limits and quirks. We cannot fashion perfect selves and perfect lives. Perfection is neither achievable nor interesting. Instead, we are messy beings and we will face challenges and screw up and keep going. When we acknowledge our humanity, embrace vulnerability, and open up to ourselves and others, true living and connection is possible. I told Libby about what my character was going through and how my character acted in response to this slew of triggers and Libby said (I'm paraphrasing): I'd say to your character, Thank you for being human. This sentence is now a chapter title in my book.
3. We must ask ourselves what we need most? And go for it.
What do you need most? A hard question to answer, right? And when Libby asked me it, I didn't really know what to say. I blabbered on about how things are going well, how I'm juggling a billion great things, but that I worry if it is too much, if I will be able to keep up this pace and be able to take it all in. Presence, I realized as I was talking to her, is what I'm seeking. A sense of being here, grounded in this life. Lightbulb moment. This is why I'm doing my Here Year. The irony is that another project is another thing to juggle. I also said that I need some down-time and Libby asked that I try to schedule in some "intentional rest." I can't say that I rested much this week, but I did get a massage and work out a bunch for the first time in forever. Also, I stole more moments with my girls.
4. We must get rid of the non-essential.
What are we doing in our lives that we don't need to be doing? What could we get rid of that would make us more happy and centered in our lives? I still haven't figured this one out, but I'm thinking about it. I'm trying to get better about saying no to commitments that aren't necessary even if they sound kind of interesting. We must take care of ourselves and protect our time.
5. We must exercise self-compassion.
Self-compassion. When Libby mentioned this concept, I literally asked her for a definition. Perhaps a clue that I am not so stellar at being compassionate with myself. Anyway, this was a biggie, perhaps the biggie. The gist, in my interpretation, is that we must look at our lives, step away and see what we are dealing with and how we are dealing with it, and be compassionate and forgiving with ourselves, remember that we are human and that we cannot do it all and do it all perfectly all the time. We will invariably stumble and fumble and that's okay, that's how it works. Oh how I need to get better at this. Talking with Libby and writing this now? A good start.
Oh, I'm realizing something: I like lists!
I really like them! Probably for many of the reasons many people like them. They are ordered, digestible. They are less daunting to read, and to write, than prose. I just cobbled this together in 25 minutes and now I am off to see my Big Girl sing in her spring chorus concert. Is there anything sweeter than little voices? :)
Do any of the above five things speak to you? What do you need most in your life right now? Do you like lists?