Pedestal’s Perfection and the Kintsukuroi pieces

The 6 P’s to make change happen (via Brene Brown)

In her brilliant book, “I thought it was just me (but it isn’t)” which looks at perfectionism and shame, Brene details the way WE can make change happen.

Personal
“Even the most personal changes often have a powerful ripple effect through the lives of our families, friends and colleagues.”

Pens
“Write a letter. Most organisational leaders and legislators will respond to letters, emails and faxes.”

Polls
“Vote. Find out how candidates feel about the issues that affect your life and vote.”

Participation
“Learn about the organisations that support your issues. Join them in the fight.”

Purchases
“The dollar is mightier than the sword: stop buying from people who don’t share your values.

Protests
A protest is not always a million people marching on the capital. Sometimes the protest is four or five people showing up at a school board meeting in someone’s office.”

2012, A Course in Miracles and Healing My Life

11 years ago, I made some choices that led to significant personal changes for me and many others. Although I couldn’t see it at the time, while the choices I made would not be the ones I made now (and I won’t beat myself up because I have the benefit of hindsight), I know that those choices were actually about me starting to own my own power, to stand up for my life, to speak up and speak out. I did this at a time when I’d say I was entirely emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. As someone who then became very independent, I understood what “self help” really was – and knew I needed it, and since that time, I’ve grown immensely as a human being. I’ve lost or significantly reduced the hardness, the judgemental black or white side of me, and the narrow mindedness that once defined me. I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way, and I’ve equally known love and kindness and grace.

At this time of the year, I normally spend time looking through my journals to find clues for my theme for next year. I don’t “do” New Year’s Resolutions for a number of reasons, mainly because I find they don’t work for me, and since 2005, I’ve had a general theme for the year. That’s really important for me as I am highly curious and get bored very easily, which is a less than totally helpful combination when it comes to focus. I find the theme helps me filter out things. Does what is presented fit with the theme? Then go for it! Otherwise, I can decide whether or not it takes my energy up or not.

So 2011 was to the year of balance and outrageous joy. I’ve already written about why I’m so thankful I chose that theme, as the year unfolded in most unexpected ways and proved to be the busiest and most challenging of my life. Without it, I’d have collapsed, exhausted. Although I know I didn’t reach this year of balance and outrageous joy, I know I kept heading in the right direction at least. I don’t need to review my journals as I did that in September on our two week retreat at our various havens, and I know that there are themes that are already appearing. Did you note that? Themes, plural…and that’s got me frustrated, because if I don’t focus on one thing, I’m not likely to hit it… but there are so many things to focus on, how do I choose. So out came my journal.

I know that above all, this theme must be MY theme. I know already that:

– it is a year I will learn to love, inspire, nurture and encourage myself
– that self care and health will be a vital priority (and on this one, I’ve bought a cheap calendar and I’m going to cross off with a big red cross every day I do 30-45 minutes exercise and eat in a way that nurtures me (with the idea that I don’t break the chain of crosses; this is the “one significant change” that will make the most difference in my life as Steven Covey suggests). I’ve also found a local yoga class (the only other time I did yoga I ended up hurting myself as I pushed myself too far) and I’m intending to limit my time on Facebook and Twitter significantly – and even more importantly, I’m going to limit the amount of new books I buy and read, and the amount of internet reading I do too….
– that it could be a year of adventures in grace and gratitude, but then I’ve already had those years (2007/2006)
– that Louise Hay’s and Heal Your Life will feature large in it
– that A Course in Miracles will feature large in it, and that as I heal others, I heal myself, and it’s time for me to accept Perfect Love..
– if I am to be authentic, then I need to update my status and my journey so if I say I’m going to the gym and then don’t go (because the car park was full, yes Geoff), I put that in too, to give the fully honest account…

I know all this because of various events and “synchronicities” that have happened since September; what’s been bugging me is the overarching theme. And today I realised why – it’s because I’m wanting it to be perfect. (Yes, Brene Brown, I’m still working on the Gifts of Imperfection and may just read your book again!) It’s that duality of wanting to grow emotionally, spiritually as a human being at the same time as knowing that I need to slow my life down and just be. Which at this point I would say is an impossible task, even though I’m very tired and continually fighting bugs of some sort. And I can be pretty confident it IS, given that every year I’ve told everyone “next year, I’m going to slow down,” or “next year, I’m going to live a quieter life.” Now, my friends just shake their heads and say, “no, Caroline, you’re not going to do that, don’t be silly!”

Then – in the way of synchroniticies- I “chance” upon a video by the Spirit Junkie who talks about the Course in Miracles and speaking your truth, and learning to be a miracle worker. And laughingly, I think, ” I could make this the year of Lessons in Miracle Working,” as this concept of how we are all here to know miracles and work miracles is something I’ve just started learning about. Then my ego steps in; this is too grand a theme, too “out there.” But I’m learning to move my ego out of the way and ask the question, “what if.” What IF this was to be my theme? And having moved ego out of the way, the inner critic steps up to the mark, and reminds me that actually, my health, and learning to love and nurture myself is actually more important than this, and really, it’s more important that I just slow myself down and BE. And then my head kicks in and I see how it may be important to slow myself down, but given the various projects I’m involved in, my long commute and busy days in my job, the meetings I attend, the time I spend on social media and emails, connecting with people and catching up with people. All of which is important to me, and none of which I can see any good reason for eliminating, so I can see no way in which I CAN slow down, even with my “48 hour days” and “time tardis” that I know enables me to do so much more than many people (which is not in any way a compliment to me but is instead evidence of me wanting to do it all, push myself to the limit, keep busy, keep moving towards perfection). I laugh and think “flip sake, it would take a miracle to get you to slow down, woman, AND it will take a miracle to keep you focussed on any health and fitness goals.”

And then I really laugh. If it would take a miracle, when why on earth would I NOT call this a year of Lessons in Miracle Working? There will be no greater miracle than this. In the process, I expect that I will learn to love and nurture myself and I will make my health and fitness a priority: these too will be miracles.

I’ve already enlisted one friend who will keep me accountable, and remind me when I’m getting off track. We’ve arranged to meet once a month to review honestly how we are doing. I have three other friends who will do the same once I ask them, my guardian angel-friends. I’m going to need their input; and I’m going to need a lot of miracles. And then I pick up my new “I can do it 2012 calendar” to get it ready for Sunday… and read the introduction, which says…

Last year had many restrictions, and it took hard work and diligence to build the foundations you desired. This year you will find much more freedom. Welcoming change will allow your boundaries to expand. Let the old ideas go, and do something different or unusual. Always remember that Life loves you and will support you in all your endeavours.” Louise Hay

Time to let the old ideas go.

Always keep developing yourself

CPD

As an HR professional now specialising in employment law, I need to have a record of my CPD/my continuous personal development.  I also have a personal philosophy of CPD and for that reason I happily read self-help books.  If I can’t help myself, I’m in a poor state, after all. And since I know I’m not perfect, and need all the help I can get at times, such books offer me many great ideas I can implement myself or I can pass on to others. 

CPD & Change

Continuous personal development means change, and since change is a constant in our lives, we may as well learn how to get comfortable with it.  Sometimes that will be about reacting to external changes we have no control over.  Other times, we will (or can) choose to change with an aim to improve and grow.  As a recovering perfectionist, of course that isn’t enough, as “improving” implies something isn’t perfect already – but it’s this that make my journey interesting, because to risk change and growth is to risk failure.  Gulp!

Getting Comfortable With Change

Yet over time, I’m getting more comfortable with change and taking risks because I now know there is no failure, only feedback,(thanks Jane Talbot), I now know that there are gifts of imperfection (thanks Brene Brown) – and I’m gathering evidence that I survive – and thrive. 

Thriving or Surviving

I read this story today and thought how glad I am that I keep taking the risks because that way, I know I’m living while I’m alive.   I know people like the guy in the story; people who hate their current jobs but won’t move because in 10, 20, or in one case 25 years time, they will get a good pension/pay off.  People who stay in neighbourhoods, houses, relationships and friendships they have long since outgrown but won’t leave because their very familiarity brings comfort where change would at least initially feel quite different. 

A Marking of Time

For some, life then becomes an existence, a marking of time – and a terrible waste of a life.  We only get one life, and our life is what we make it.  It’s too short to stay unhappy.  So take risks.  Accept you may fail.  Know that there is no failure, only feedback. Learn to fly without a safety net. Live while you’re alive.

The only way that individuals change is to do something new, which by definition means you’ll do it poorly, and for the high-need-for-achievement personality the challenge is they don’t want to look bad.  They don’t want to look foolish.  They often don’t trust the organization to support them if they take a risk and try something different.

I remember as if it were yesterday a 43 year-old headmaster of a school.  Now a headmaster or principal of the school, this was a gentleman who had 1,600 customers, or students, between the ages of 14 ½ and 17 years of age, and after I had given a speech this gentleman came back, and I appreciate his candor, but what he said to me, he says, “Professor Delong,” he says, “I need to confess something to you.” 

He said, “You told me that I need to try and do something different and that I needed to go through this path of agenda-setting and getting help from someone else.  But,” he said, “I just need to confess to you, but I hate what I do.  Thank goodness I only have 12 years to retirement.” 

Twelve years.  And so in some ways this great man has given up, and you can thank yourself, if you’re listening to this, that none of you have children that are going to that school because those 1,600 kids need a file leader, need an inspiration, and this young man at 43 has given up. 

He is basically halfway through life and he has stopped growing and he has stopped developing, and I’m naïve enough to believe that individuals can change at 40 and at 50 and at 60, and it is the most exhilarating feeling in the world, and it’s frightening, and you can’t do it alone, but you can fly without a net.  I promise you, you can.  It will, I promise you, put you back on the road to what I would call, in a very basic form, put you back on the road to life Twelve years.  And so in some ways this great man has given up, and you can thank yourself, if you’re listening to this, that none of you have children that are going to that school because those 1,600 kids need a file leader, need an inspiration, and this young man at 43 has given up. 

He is basically halfway through life and he has stopped growing and he has stopped developing, and I’m naïve enough to believe that individuals can change at 40 and at 50 and at 60, and it is the most exhilarating feeling in the world, and it’s frightening, and you can’t do it alone, but you can fly without a net.  I promise you, you can.  It will, I promise you, put you back on the road to what I would call, in a very basic form, put you back on the road to life.  Thomas Delong, Harvard Businss School Professor