Arriving early was never on your priorities list. You always seemed to enjoy that sense of rush, leaving last minute after making sure your trip would be comfortable with your water and your coffee and your phone charger and your sandwich and of course your perfect makeup.
I have my own perfect routines and habits, the great friendships, the right books, the needed amount of food and sleep everyday and life feels good. Then the weekend is here and I feel like a fraud. All I’ve been preaching is exactly that, preaching, while reality begs to differ.
The biggest painful gap I feel is in parenting.
Sometimes I wish my kids would slow down growing up until I close this gap between where I am and where I want to be, but they are not paying attention to my wishes. They are right on track with their own business of growing up and becoming who they need to be regardless of my progress. How dare they? I’m still not ready.
I can’t control my temper all the time, I still lose my patience whenever they say that horrible two-letter word to me. I take their answer personally while I grieve the not so old days when parenting was a one-way street of care-giving and beautiful, almost predictable, routines.
I fear that now they will know me for who I really am. A mess. A work in progress. I fear they would believe the lie that my happiness rests on them well-behaving and restraining from following their spontaneous exploring nature.
It is a lie indeed. My happiness is up to me. They are perfect and it’s time I allow them to really be who they came here to be; my teachers. Yes, my teachers are here to point out to me where I am still an impatient control freak better than anyone could. No one gets to see me up close like them anyway. Their job is to teach me how I am still triggered by the most trivial things like their clothes getting dirty from the whiteboard marker they enjoy using. Then I notice my ill reaction and make amends with them. They get to see how humans make up for their mistakes by apologizing, asking for forgiveness and starting over. And what do you know? I am actually parenting them in the midst of my non-readiness.
Maybe I will never be ready, maybe this mess is what they exactly need too as life is messy. Maybe seeing me start over and improving with time will help them believe they can conquer any character defect they might have if they are present enough and reflect on their own actions to do better next time. It’s in fact possible that feeling how my love for them extends any mistake, big or small, will have them believe in their own worth and lovability just because they are here on earth, beyond any right or wrong actions. It’s the most basic need we have had since we took our first breath. It is my lifetime mission as their parent, so help me God.
هي طريقة ننظر بها للعالم ولذواتنا ونحسب أنها واقع وحقيقية ونأخذها بعين الاعتبار عند اتخاذ قراراتنا. هي أحياناً تحررنا ولكن على الأغلب تحبسنا و تحدّ من جرأتنا وحركتنا. تبقى كذلك إلى أن نضعها تحت مجهر التساؤل والشك .
I extended my reading fasting resolution for another month upon my coach’s recommendation since she believes I did not commit 100% in January by reading articles and listening to few podcasts here and there. That’s why I chose in February to push myself by applying it much more strictly and this is how:
Not reading Seth Godin‘s daily posts that have been a source of delight and motivation during my working day since 2009. This month, instead, I just enjoy reading the email titles of his posts and imagining what they could be about. I’m playing with idea of acting as if the titles are writing prompts for me where I create my own post with the same title of his.
Not opening any facebook or twitter article links (very challenging believe me).
Minimun checking of my personal email because the inbox is full of content and awesome articles as I subscribed to many over the years. Turning off notifications of course helped so much.
Not shopping for books on amazon nor checking the deal of the day on Kindle and Audible.
I miss reading some of my favorite newsletters like The daily stoic by Ryan Holiday, 5-bullet friday by Tim Ferris and Brainpickings newsletter by Maria Popova. Funny thing I noticed, however, is that I thought I would be deprived of content and new inspiration during this period; the truth is I was not, because I did not quit social media. I was proud to discover I really refined my timeline over the years and the algorithms of Facebook are working to show me posts from my top influencers who in return are doing what I love and follow them for by sharing the most beautiful quotes and pieces of wisdom to which I have very easy access during my usual social media daily meals.
I also noticed that sticking to my morning routine of journaling and spiritual practice is what truly keeps me sharp and self motivated. It turned out my discipline is my secret.
I still have 2 weeks of no books consumption to go and I will optimize my reading fasting even futher as below:
Limit my social media consumption using some useful tools like appblock which limits my time on each app I select and blocks it when I reach the maximim time allowed.
Control my semi-daily netflix guilty pleasure by enjoying the 20 minutes I give my brains to shut down and be done with it by not clicking the next episode.
Be more intentional about the books I will read this year. I would love to read books about stoicism, habits and happiness, customer experience (job related), personal finance, parenting, side business and entrepreneurship. Of course I’ll leave room to immedialty add to my library any new book by my favorite authors like Seth Godin, Gretchen Rubin or Brené Brown.
Focus on studing PMP which is another goal I am trying to achieve in the first quarter of this year.
Interested to have more observations on the impact of this temporary project on my life. It has been very exciting time and I now believe it was exactly what I needed; the self-permission to just hit pause.
I wrote about January’s goal of not consuming any books for a whole month and attempting to write more and share what I already know.
How has this been going 23 days in?
I did not 100% commit to it in terms of articles because I kept reading those albeit not more than one a day. I also tried to avoid “saving for later” habit which I think is another way I clutter the information sources in my life and never really return to those resources. I click and read or I close. If I don’t manage to read it once I opened it, I may google it later if it was interesting enough or it will find me somehow later (trust algorthims and reposting habits of authors).
I did not commit to it 100% in terms of podcasts beacuse I listened to a few. One of them was about parenting a 4-year-old by the awesome Janet Lansbury and the other was an interview between 2 of my top authors and habits influencers Tim Ferriss and Gretchen Rubin. I enjoyed them and learned a lot.
I did not buy any kindle or audiobook, a habit I really enjoy; especially the searching part before purchase, looking up new titles, then related titles, then amazon reviews and goodreads reviews, and of course the daily book deals. One thing that really helped curb this habit was unsubscribing to the emails about daily book deals, as much as I loved those emails!
On the other hand, I listed some of the books I am interested to read or get this year. I am thinking about dividing them into categories like spiritual, financial, start-up business, coaching, career related books. I will let you know how this goes. There will be a room for just for fun reading trust me. However, I love the idea of being more purposeful about the topics I select and not jut follow the hot books of the year.
I am creating a list of songs that pump me up. It’s been a while since I listened to this many songs and discovered some “new” ones. My favorite these days is Thunder by Imagine Dragons
I disocvered the uneasiness of just listening to random playlists or radio shows. Audiobooks while driving were a relief from this uneasiness and from looking for THE right song. They were like an addiction in their own right and I had withdrawal symptoms. An addiction I miss. This tendency to change the radio station or skip the song on my app is indeed some indication of habitual resistance of reality as it happens, that I am dicovering and noticing. I refuse to accept what is served so I attempt to escape it. Without this January goal I would not have caught it. Do you do that too? We all change songs I know but how often do you do that to ensure you have the prefect ride instead of just being present and open to what’s next?
These are my updates about the challenge. I’m most grateful that I revived this blog by writing more.
Would I go back to reading in February? Still have not decided as I also started studying for a certification in March and putting reading on hold came along as a temporary advantage.
November was one of the best months I had during the amazing year 2017. A year that I consider a turning point in my life.
I started the month with this post on Facebook. Inspired by Seinfeld and Austin Kleon’s post about this topic in his book “steal like an artist”.
Then, everyday for the next 30 days I posted on my social media the “X”; crossing the day off to indicate that I committed to my #dontbreakthechain challenge of waking up early and doing my morning routine.
It was the first time for me to be public about my 5am habit although I shared it here before, but few people only knew about my blog. And although it was a fairly regular habit for me that I got back to in October after summer craziness and September’s adjustments; being committed publicly like that felt so different and gave me such happiness and a purpose boost that I didn’t expect.
The outcome I really did not see coming though was how many of my dear friends encouraged me and approached me via their messages, wanting to know how I did it and why. Their genuine cusriosty was refreshing and I realized then that I started meeting my tribe. Little did I know that some were actually starting their own chain challenges because they got so motivated by my posts.
Weeks later, I received an overwhelming thank you note from an old friend whom I admire sharing with me the impact of my daily progress on her and how she applied it herself in her own way and succeeded.
I had goosebumps reading her message! As my sister said in alignment with great spiritual teachings that what you give, you give yourself. My friend motivated me when I needed to hear it.
My sweet November was indeed an experience worth sharing and repeating. It led to deep conversations and exchanges with wonderful people that I’m truly thankful for. That’s why I started the challenge again in January. I’m a better person when I wake up early to have my alone time to write, meditate and plan.
I also don’t know who else would I be helping by posting my daily X. I’m showing up consistently and I know for sure that new people will reach out to me with the same curiosity and I will welcome them to my tribe.
After the industrial revolution has subsided, humans moved to the knowledge work era; where we are no longer using our muscles for heavy lifting to get things done but rather use our communication and thinking skills to do business.
And as we’re mostly done with phycial labor as a way to make a living, we are now engaged in some other kind of labor. It is called “emotional labor”. Building on the previous post, it’s the effort you put in to overcome your natural attraction to the status quo, to where you know you are ok. It’s initiating a phone call to request feedback. It is walking up to someone’s desk to ask them for approval on your request. It’s calling your dad when you don’t know what to talk about exactly. It’s calling versus texting to wish someone close a happy birthday. It takes courage and presence and being ok with awkwardness and needing help. It’s answering that annoying caller with the best attitude you can muster. It’s being courteous when it’s easier to be snarky. It’s rejecting an output because it does not meet your requirments. It’s starting a difficult conversation. It’s beginning and ending a relationship. It’s speaking in a meeting and asking about the last point because you didn’t get it.
The easy way is to avoid any kind of confrontation because it’s dangerous. Remember how your brain translates your discomfort? But easy does not mean best. It takes emotional labor to succeed in today’s world. Recognize your discomfort and ask: what’s the worst that can happen? Why does this scare me?
But after all that, you do what you have to do. You act. You don’t let the questioning be another form of running away because your brain can outsmart you, it’s what got humans here, but survival mode is not a way to live.
To this day, our brains respond to threat as if we were still living in the caveman age. A threat used to be a wild animal and our brains would respond by making our bodies fight, flight or freeze. Modern age is here and our brains evolved but not as fast, their main goal is for us to survive so they look out for any danger. Threats, however, have changed form. Wild animals are replaced by the fear of being seen. Modern day threat is an email you want to send or an article you want to express your opinion in like this one I’m writing where people can see into you.
Your precious brain is still protecting you. It plays the resistance card by coming up with all excuses to avoid the pain of potential future criticism or failure. When you want to hit “submit” on that application, it either plays stories in your head that “this might not work” (fight) or you casually check some other fun social media platform (flight) or you stare at the form reading it over and over (freeze). The resistance symptoms you experience fueled by the old small almond-shaped part of your brain called amygdala will kick in whenever you want to do something out of your comfort zone. Because, with no immediate physical threats like the ones faced by our ancestors, the brain mistakes sharing your work with the world as the new threat and tries to convince you to stay where you will survive, as going out there is not safe.
Does resistance go away, you may ask? Well, it doesn’t. But the masters of resistance like Steven Pressfield and Seth Godin recommend acknowledging it and dancing with it. They say if you notice it waking up from its slumber when you consider a new idea it means you are on to something, follow the lead.
You’re nervous. Something happened and you don’t like it and you started making up stories about what it means. You’re analyzing that look you saw in their eyes, or the way they talked to you. You notice the onset of the usual accompanying bodily symptoms.You feel your heart racing and mind speeding to negative conclusions. Your hands are clenching and your breath is shortening, your face is flushing. You’re hooked. Hooked on your emotional reaction to the story you made up about what happened. You missed the window between thought and emotion. You believed the story.
What do you do now?
You grab a pen and paper. You write. You ask: “What’s the story I’m making up in my mind about this situation?” You write like the 5-year old version of you would write. You whine and complain as much as you want. This is what the author Brené Brown calls SFD, or shitty first draft (use “stormy”for kids and workplace). She uses this term that author Anne Lamott coined when writing a novel to get over the perfectionist in her and get herself started.
You pour out your heart in this draft. You know you got this exercise right if it fulfills these 4 criteria: it is honest, unfiltered, unedited and possibly unshareable.
After that, it’s time to read your SFD and think about what you need to learn or understand about others or yourself or the world, about your triggers that the situation awakened, and where you still need to grow.
You might decide to talk to the other party involved in the situation after proccessing your emotions and removing their sharp edge. You might say something like: “when you gave me that look, the story I made up is that my presentation/my outfit/my cooking …etc was awful and you hated it. Is everything ok?”
Next time you get that look again, but maybe just maybe, hopefully you’ll slow down your reactive mode, you would remember that such looks invoke inadequacy feelings in you that are not true. You become aware and don’t bite the hook this time. You become present. You let it go. Lesson is learned.