I’d Like to Use a Lifeline

Back in the day, the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was a favorite of mine. I remember the first million dollar winner, who used his phone-a-friend to call his dad — not for help, but to tell him we was going to win a million dollars.

This morning wasn’t a good morning in the space between my ears. An intense day at work was ahead, we’re still in a pandemic facing more isolation, and of course the news. In short, I wasn’t feeling particularly safe, in fact, feeling really vulnerable. I was feeling like the stuff I have been writing about recently was a bunch of garbage. Bottom line – not a pretty sight.

As I descended to my basement, I summoned up a thought about presence. I resolved to just to be present in the event of the day ahead. Present in the training I needed to deliver. Present in the afternoon workshop full of unknowns. Just be present and listen. It was the only thing I had the will to control today.

So what happened? Just that focus on presence today made my room better. Positive outcomes on both major events. I was being a light to myself. Today that was what my best self was all about. It took some energy, but I powered through.

Even after the work day ended, there was still a lot of negative energy in my world. It’s primarily due to outside forces; just turn on the news. Here’s where I miss my father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. On days like these, I would call him and he always had a way of sharing his “eternal optimism”. He was the one person in my world who would say:

“It’s going to be alright.”

— Dad

Today, I need to lean on Principle 11 to help me. It’s a call for a lifeline to our like-hearted community to help me fill the role my Dad played. I am looking to borrow some optimism from this community.

Agile Best Self Principle #11: The best inspirations and insights emerge from like-hearted communities. 

Here’s my request: it would help me immensely if you would leave me a comment below. All I want to hear is that it’s going to be alright. I know it’s true, but I need to hear it. I am grateful for our like-hearted community today.

Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Spiraling Out of Control

eye of the storm image from outer space
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Brian and I are usually in contact every day or so. Sometimes it just an encouraging text, sometimes it is setting aside time to put together our next workshop. This week has been busy for both of us, so I’m not surprised that Brian’s post from yesterday is about being present.

Oddly enough, even when we are not working on content together, our minds end up in similar spots.

Today was a whirlwind of a day. I woke up on time, but needed a couple of extra meditation sessions to start the day off. The first session was about being ok with being grumpy, the second one was about setting a daily intention. My mind was racing so fast, I had to do that one twice. By the time I finished meditating, I was late. There is some irony or paradox in there, but I didn’t have time to figure that one out.

My work day kicked off with me partially facilitating a half day training of a 10 day series. Day 1 is always fun, but I know what is in store once the class warms up and gets to know each other. That is when the magic happens. As an instructor, I’m impatient to get to that magic point where the class brings in their experiences and I get to fade into the background. After that class, I was running from commitment to commitment the rest of the day. File all of those activities under “working mom trying to tutor teenager”. He learns at the speed he does and rushing things won’t help him build solid analysis, research or study skills. Honestly, it would be faster and easier if I just did the homework for him. But we don’t have a principle around hitting the easy button to make our lives as parents less stressful. Now It is 8:00 pm and I’m finally able to sit down and eat dinner (in front of my computer while I type).

After this madcap day of rushing around, when I read Brian’s article about striving to be present over looking for balance, the concept resonated. All day, I’ve alternated between wanting to be in the future and being stuck in the past playing catch up. Neither situation is helpful. Also, when your brain is stuck in either the future or the past, that is prime space for the Inner Critic. This critic tends to remember the worst of the past: “you should have done something else instead”, and forecast doom for the future: “you’ll never be able to get that done tonight”. Eventually I turn the tide and give the Inner Advocate space to speak up: “you are just fine now”. On of my most frequent thought loops is to stumble into 12:

Agile Best Self Principle #12: At regular intervals, reflect on how to become your best self, then tune and adjust.

Then I have exactly the same epiphany I’ve had a dozen times already. Bring in mindful and intentional principle.

Agile Best Self Principle #6: The most effective way to be your best self is to be mindful and intentional.

And the close of the loop is some action. In this case, it is taking back control and focusing on something I want to do for myself. This isn’t a difficult thought loop – by now it is quick way for me to get back on track. Habits like this help me get control back in a situation where a day seems to be spiraling out of control.

Control means giving ourselves a break and living in the present. It doesn’t mean having the audacity and hubris to think we can control anyone else or anything tomorrow. Yes, this present may be the eye of the storm, but at least it is quiet here – in this present, right here, right now.

Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

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