Sunday, April 18, 2010

FLY

Yesterday it was raining out, and I decided it would be a good day to curl up on the couch with a good book. I had recently purchased "The Walk" by Richard Paul Evans. I picked it up because I saw it featured on the Today show, and many things about the story plot appealed to me.

It's about a guy who loses it all. His career, his wife, his home. While clutching onto a bottle of pills and a bottle of Jack... he decides that instead of dying... he would walk away from it all. Literally. He packed a bag and just started walking - his destination from Seattle was to Key West, Florida. He also brings along a leather covered journal to document his adventures.

I can't tell you how many times in the past I thought about just leaving. When driving the 30 miles to my job as an Office Manager - I would fantasize about passing the exit to work, and just driving as far as my car would take me. I daydreamed about what it would be like on the open road... footloose and fancy-free. I imagined the people I would meet, the adventures I would have, and the stories I would tell. Then I was reminded of my empty bank account, and my near empty tank of gas. I also thought about what I was leaving behind... I had responsibilities after all - my husband, my home, my job, my family. It wouldn't be long before I snapped back into reality ... and subsequently would snap on my turn signal and exit to my destination of doldrums and drudgery. Sometimes I would actually have to wipe tears from my eyes before I walked into my office because I was mourning a life I had created in my mind.

I visited that life often, sometimes as I revved the engine on my motorcycle -- I would take the long way home, caught up in an imaginary world where I had no demands, no responsibilities, no dreadful month-end reports to process, no dinners to cook, no checkbooks to balance. No time cards to punch, no employees to hire or fire. I was free - I could FLY. Then I would pull my bike into the garage, and answer the battle cry of "Whats for Dinner!?! I'm Hungry!!" *sigh*

My yearning for an adventure of solitude had begun as a child. On our family vacations to camp, I would dream about biking across country, or running away and living a life of an outdoor pioneer in the thick of the woods, nothing but me and my fishing pole. Once I thought about it, I decided to add a dog to my escapism. It might get lonely out there, and scary too.

As a young adult, I lived out my fantasy by scheduling annual retreats. Just me, my dog Destiny, a leather bound journal, and a freighted truck full of camping equipment. My friends thought I was crazy for not bringing my husband along... but I needed time of reflection. I needed to get out in the woods and figure out what was making me want to flee. Why was I so discontent with my life, that I fantasized about running away from it? After all - I had a great life! I should be happy! Shouldn't I?

When I shared my secret dreams of flight with a therapist, she deemed me as depressed and wanted to put me on medications. She felt that trying to escape from a life that seemed "Ideal" must have meant there was something wrong with me. After all - I was "happily" married. I had a successful career. I had family, friends, and a beautiful home. I had lots of material possessions. A "normal" person would be quite content with all of this, therefore, you must need drugs Priscilla.

And so I suppressed the urge to fly. I resolved to make the best of my situation, and be grateful for all I had. I worked on myself, I worked on my marriage, and I resolved I would be a better person for it. Grounded and stable. Yet the mountains beckoned to me... and about May, I would start getting irritable and edgy with my surroundings and everyone around me. And by June I was swishing a fly line into the shimmering waters of the Kennebago again... with my only invited guest, Destiny, by my side.



Eventually, the Universe granted me my wish. In ways I least expected. With a divorce decree and a pink slip in my hand, I set out on my own, and truth be known - I was terrified.

When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. ~ Alexander Graham Bell



What struck me most, is as many times as I fantasized about living a life of adventure, I had no idea how unprepared I was. I was taken WAY out of my comfort zone. Suddenly, being independent, foot-loose and fancy free was a scary and lonely place. There were moments of panic mixed in with need for survival. There were times I experienced great despair and mourned the life I had grown so bored and complacent with. I found myself shedding tears for a life I once had, instead of rejoicing for the life I had daydreamed about all those times driving to work. I had finally been released.... but I was afraid to fly.... not that I had a choice you see, I had been kicked out of the nest.

Mother Universe saw fit that this little bird was ready to fly on her own, and with a swift kick and an "ally-oop" I was flittering about. I crashed softly into a new nest, and I soon had opportunities and experiences awaiting for me. First, I had to accept my new wings, and that took time. I had read once that when reintroducing caged or captive birds back into the wild, it was important to bring the bird to its new surroundings and let him get acclimated for a few weeks. It was important for the bird to give the bird the native food so it would recognize its new offerings, and to let him exercise his wings and develop his muscles before release.

So true was it for me, I spent some time getting acclimated by making my new nest cozy and comfy. I spent some time stretching my wings by meeting new people, and recognizing the offerings my new surroundings offered me. I built my muscles by developing a network of people who are there to support me and guide me. It took some time, but once I convinced myself I was strong enough - I took a leap of faith, I am ready to SOAR!



~Live Well, Be Well~
Coach Priscilla

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Perfectionism - Vice or Virtue?

How many times have you heard someone boast "I'm a perfectionist!"

I used to be one of them. I prided myself on my perfectionism. I kept my house neat, organized and dust free. I ate right and exercised. I had a clean office, a clean car, and a perfectly balanced checkbook. I was the perfect wife, the perfect daughter, the perfect manager, and the perfect friend. I did everything perfectly.

And when I couldn't do everything perfectly - I did nothing at all.

As a result, I had a messy house, I bounced checks, my car was a rolling dumpster, and I was overweight and unhealthy.

Huh? How can you claim you are a perfectionist when you are a complete and total mess?

Because as a Pefectionist, I had an all or nothing attitude. Everything was black or white, all or nothing, good or bad. If I couldn't do something "perfectly", I wouldn't do it at all. There was no gray in my life... and as a result I was stressed out!

Perfectionism is not the virtue we have been raised to believe. If I didn't have time in my day to get my house spic-n-span top to bottom, I did nothing at all. It didn't dawn on me that I could break down tasks into 10 minute time chunks.... like say, dust for 10 minutes before leaving for work. Its ok I didn't clean the whole house, but at least I did something.

So many of my clients are plagued with Perfectionism. They come to me frustrated because there simply is not enough time in the day to get anything done, when the truth is there isn't enough time to get everything done.

"You can have it all, you just can't have it all at once...." Oprah Winfrey


I access if they are true Perfectionists by asking.... "If I dumped out a 1000 piece puzzle on this table, and told you that you had to complete it, what would be your strategy?"



If they are a perfectionist, more often times than not they answer "I would sit here until it's done."

It doesn't dawn on them that I didn't give them a time frame to get the puzzle done - THEY enforced the rule they had to get it done in one sitting.... not me. They are the ones who are implementing ridiculous time schedules and deadlines into their lives. It doesn't dawn on them they could break down the puzzle into steps and work on it in their leisure.

Part of overcoming Perfectionism is to allow yourself to set realistic deadlines. Rome wasn't built in a day.... and your small business, household, relationships, and self care aren't either.

Need help working on the puzzle of your life? Give me a call, I'd love to chat!

Live Well, Be Well~
Coach Priscilla