Rewiring of my brain is a tempting option. Neurostimulation in the form of an innocent supplement, for only one day mind you, has already proven more of a change than I'm willing to embrace. It had the enticing benefit of reforming me into a clean freak with a sudden urge for order and closure. I confidently stepped into a client consult that day and bombed. All my usual intuition and empathy was out the door, replaced by a keen ability to hear all of the words spoken - rather than my usual awareness of what needed attention between the lines. I had sacrificed my greatest talent - intuition, to be more like others I admired.
Nobody will ever be all things to all people, so human nature has most of us wanting the talents we are missing, rather than leveraging those we were born with.
My authentic self is spontaneous, adaptable, quick to the bottom line summary, whimsical, soul-full, brilliant under pressure and deadlines, tender hearted, easily depleted by routine and structure. Sounds great, right? Wrong. By current societal standards and measures all of that may add up to Attention Deficit. Throw in Auditory Learning Disability, disorganized, impulsive, and generally low on the filters needed for refined business behaviors.
Neuroscience has advanced to allow measurement of our brain function and provide us with the resources to make changes. There are options from exercises to rewire through electronic stimulation of key points. Pain management is a great use of the latter. Or for the correction of chemo brain decline. Or disease and dementia reversals. But not the revision of our innate God given wiring, in my opinion. It is a personal choice to change our brain, but so often it is a decision made by others we respect, perhaps even before we are of an age to decide for ourselves.
Wouldn't life be easier if we were all alike? Oh, dear God no. Volumes of evidence support the fact that productivity requires a diversity of players on any team striving for a goal. Yet traditional (U.S.) education systems are structured to reward the most organized and detailed auditory learners. History has shown that is not the nature of our most prized Entrepreneurs, Presidents, Scientists and World Leaders. It is certainly not the innate side of our artists, craftsmen and skilled laborers. Those who are fortunate rise above the social norms and thrive with their talents. The less fortunate turn to medications to adapt, never learning how to apply their natural talents in our world and often feeling displaced, perhaps just getting by on support and subsidies.
Just for today, whether society validated your talents or you are a member of the larger pool of outliers, take a moment to recognize and express your genuine appreciation of the deliverables and differences in a friend or co-worker. And while you are at it, offer a word of thanks to yourself. You are perfect.
- Pam 8/13/2014
There is that memory. In the canoe with safety drifting past consideration. 20 years ago, when balance and ease of movement were a given, a gift taken for granted. It was a crisp day in Florida filled with more light than you would think possible. Not the usual steamy soft air of this region.
When did that mobility and spontaneity slip away into this blissfully comfortable existence within un-comfortable bodies? The irony of retirement is that it delivers the most free and flexible phase of life - just as our bodies and minds have denied both.
And where is the canoe? Gathering moss beside the house, unused since that luscious afternoon on the lake. The thought: "oh, that's why he won't sell it". It only came to mind this morning, as we plan a rare date to go fishing. I've labeled the mini excursion "romantic" to assure it is the two of us without our fab friends. These days it seems only under duress that we leave the comfort of our kindles and anti-gravity chairs to venture out socially. I don't recall the last date night out alone. Those seem to be reserved for our friends with children and grand plans in their life.
Before this comes across as too pitiful, I must mention that we just returned from an adventurous vacation in the Baja - scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, hiking. We are not fully into our sunset days - and don't intend to go there. Neither of us is actually retired, but our idealistic lifestyle on the river gives that impression. We are incredibly grateful for all that has come our way after 40 - leaving the angst of our earlier lives behind.
Why, after 24 years together, are there still interactions that don't meet our mutual expectations? That's easy - and true of nearly every one of you. Our inner actions ie. responses, are dominated by expectations, often conditioned by our lives. Whether your expectations are high or low, they are nearly always accompanied by "niggles". Niggles of uncertainty - not the best fertilizer to the thoughts that attract goodness into our lives. The most daunting of niggles, is fed by the desire to have our partner's mind, and thus behavior, respond just as ours would. That would truly make for a life of ease - anticipating each other's every thought and move. And possibly not be very interesting as an end result. When you no longer have the energy to live fully, then that predictability may be a logical path.
We, however, continue to choose the wild ride that our Love holds together in our safe zone, knowing the extremity of our differing minds. It is often challenging - but never personal. It is fun, passionate and productive - except when it is not. We have been greatly rewarded for our efforts and faith, once we allowed the reality of who we are, and understood that we are, genuinely, fully responsible for everything in our lives. And now, it's time to take action for those areas where our attention has dwindled.
Alone is so much safer than together, right? Together we ventured out in that canoe, covered the bases for an amazing day dancing with mutual expectations. Alone would also be amazing, with more ease - with egrets and herons, fish jumping, water sparkling. But when the alligator arrived, sounding like the pull of a motorboat engine starting, my vote is entirely on togetherness. I'll never know if we were truly safe, but the natural talents of my husband included quietly maneuvering away, while assuring me all is well. My trust knew no limits. Until, a few years later, there was a shark encounter. But then, that is another story.
(post article update - no bites, but a sweet day on the water, greeted by Manatee.)
We all have lessons to share, thru the stories from our past. The lessons have value, the stories do not. So it is with hesitation that I will share my stories, with the intent that you will glean the meaning from the lessons.
For those who saw the Movie "The Big Fat Greek Wedding", it serves as a fairly accurate backdrop of the "noise" I recall from childhood. While I am 3/4 Italian and only 1/4 Greek, it captures the family dynamics of love and angst - with the demands to live up to cultural expectations of how and when to marry and move through life, respecting elders. I followed none of the expectations, though I did get roped into a larger than intended wedding at barely the age of 19. Later I delivered the family shame of divorce as I turned legal at only 21. I was 42 before committing again to marriage, having missed the window of opportunity for the large Catholic Italian family that would have met with familial praise.
What have you done under the pressure to please? Seriously, we had an oversize guest list to make Mom happy. Every Mother dreams of her daughter's starlit wedding and the pats of approval for her birthing and raising a princess. I look back now at how beautiful a bride I made, but felt none of it then, riddled with insecurities. Hormones took center stage and I was zeroed in on sex without judgment. In that time and place, this meant Daddy's blessings, counseling by a new young priest clueless on relationships, and a shindig harrowing to the shy young bride. Living together without marriage never crossed our Catholic conditioned minds as a possibility.
Second only to sex, was my desire for babies. Not grown up costly, disrespectful kids, just cute cuddly babies. Disregard the fact that my groom expressed no interest in rug-rats. Did I expect to change his mind? I really don't recall what I was thinking - and suspect there was no thinking at all. No worries, the pre-marital counseling prescribed by the Catholic Church would surely resolve the dilemma. And there it was, explicitly directed in our session with the newly ordained priest at The Shrine: "Do you both commit to raise your children in the Catholic Faith?" Yes! Of course said I." Then without any sign of obligatory Catholic guilt, my fiancee says "I don't want children". Holy crap! In this vestibule of sanctity I expected he will be struck by lightening. Or at least a serious reprimand from Father Ed. But nothing. Worse than nothing. With only two weeks until our vows, the Priest says "you will work this out with time. Well, I gave it approximately two years - with no forward progress. We loved each other, but with zero concept of how to talk without defensiveness, we quickly compromised our way out of the marriage. Have you ever wanted to please someone so much that you second guess what they want, disregarding your own desires? We both did so daily. And now I see how far explicit communication, adapted to our differing MO's, would have gone.
Chalk this wedding up as my greatest episode of denial of every spark of intuition firing in my brain. I could have cancelled the wedding and returned gifts, but oh how I loved the treasures. Especially Aunt Mamie's hand painted casserole - used only on Thanksgiving and taking an entire shelf to store. Finally I have even let that go - to someone who will love it. I'm thankful for the wonderful time we did have together, and baffled that he then quickly remarried a woman who had a child. Wow, those little things in life are ouchies. And confusing. But, the fact is, we don't always get to know the answers to every "why?". We do get to embrace the perfect sequence of our lives.
"Everything happens for a reason", he says. And it did. Jim Antonopulos, my Father, was the quietest Man I've ever known, then he says something this simple and profound to me. He told me he is quiet to allow Mom to talk so much - and because he had only one vocal cord. His right side was left paralyzed following removal of a brain tumor, when I was only three years old. I only knew the quiet man. My Sisters and Brother knew the Businessman, Athlete, Hunter that he was before the 1957 surgery that left him long in a coma. Mom was barely 40, with 5 children and now a husband in rehab. Every one of her children has a completely different memory of those years.
As life marches forward, at an alarming pace, I continue to look backward to the patterns that don't serve. It is amazing how many decades they have crossed. While life is more fulfilling now than ever, there remains a mountain of molehills to be cleared. Forgiveness of myself, God and others is ongoing. Gratefulness for the amazing journey this has been is immense. And all the credit goes to Jim & Clara. I do so Love my parents, and recognize what a gift we all had in them. - Pam
What are your top tips? This is my list: (January, 2014)
1. Be authentically you. What did you love doing at age 5? Do you thrive at what you do now?
2. Breathe deeply, move and stretch frequently. Walk to balance. Pray and meditate daily.
3. Focus your eyes upward often, to assure your brain accesses pleasant thoughts
4. Speak to yourself as you would to a friend - with love and encouragement.
5. Give everyone benefit of the doubt. You don't know what's going on in their life.
6. Your words have power to materialize. I’m not slim, creates slim. I’m not fat, creates fat. Avoid words that are tentative ie. try, should, could. Replace with more impactful “I WILL”.
7. See, Touch, Feel the outcome you intend, dreams you dream, in your mind NOW, so that your plans will get you there. Remove hurdles in the path.
8. Nourish your soul with love and good music. Turn off toxic TV, news, advertisements
9. Nourish your body by eating mindfully and unplugged, with family or alone to soothing music.
10. Know what is true for you in this moment - not believing everything you hear and read, or even your own stories for that matter.
11. I choose to avoid, where possible, high fructose corn syrup, artificial additives & food coloring, partially hydrogenated oils, chemicals on my skin, chemicals in cleaning products, hormones antibiotics and pesticides in my food. Yes: Coconut Oil (Extra Virgin, cold processed organic), baking soda, citrus and white vinegar will replace most cleansers and lotions. Chemical sensitivities and joint dis-comfort in my early life gave motivation. Prevention of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease are added incentives.
12. Eat more organic raw food, and less genetically modified, processed and packaged food. Dark leafy greens, ancient grains, seeds, berries, healthy oils (avocados, nuts) are powerhouse foods. Test to know your alkalinity is optimal (6.5 to 7.5). Search for Acid/Alkaline food reference chart. Dis-ease will not thrive in an alkaline environment.
13. In choosing a relationship, consider my Mom’s advice: A man will treat you like he treats his Mother. A woman like she treats her Father. Pay close attention before committing.
14. Giving IS Receiving. Your problems diminish when you are busy doing for others. This is great therapy for mood elevation and wellness.
Life is a tapestry we weave over time, with love and trials of life. We look back at our stories with both pride and regret. This is such a beautiful analogy. But it is SO wrong for your forward momentum. Stop dragging that heavy tapestry along, re-write the past to a lighter and less drama filled story, then trade up for your magic carpet ride. You did watch Aladdin, right? All of your power and expansiveness is packed into this itsy bitsy living space of your body.
In reality, Life is a Kaleidoscope. The view may be ever changing with each thought, every breath. Are you standing tall or slouching? Smiling or grimacing? Judging or allowing? Caught in self-pity? We each have the capacity, with practice, to brighten and enhance our view of life. Our God given nature sets the foundation. Our lessons of life, beliefs, and experiences - whether empowering or traumatic, add elements of distortion. Be keenly aware of your responses in each moment. Your response is truly the only thing you DO have control over.
Do you know what you want? Are your goals clear? Are they clearly YOUR goals? Or strongly influenced by those you strive to please, to make yourself good enough? Know this. YOU are perfect. Perhaps not by the current standards another has set - limiting them, not you. But when you live authentically, others will be drawn to you. If you are among the many who do not know what they want in Life, then celebrate the opportunity ahead for your exploration. Listen to your body signals, and follow the paths that give you a sense of ease, a sparkle in your eyes. Then hire or barter out those tasks that better fit the talents of others. (oh - do I hear excuses bubbling to the surface? No money. No time. No respect. You don't trust them?) What else is possible?
When you move past material desires, find a path to pay off debt and grow kind to yourself, you will discover that giving/receiving are inseparably connected. If you have a great depth to climb out of, emotionally-financially-spiritually, allow others to give while you receive gratefully - and give whatever you do have in return. You will find the most satisfying life of play and contribution to follow. Be patient. I'll meet you there.
Tolerance. It is always about our DIFFERENCES. A great blessing. What a vanilla world this would be - with all of us the same. Where would we find the fulfillment of contribution as we teach, influence, inspire those around us. What would we do with Professors, Pastors, Rabbis, Gurus and Preachers if everyone shared the same experiences, opinions, IQ, preferences and purpose in life? I DO love vanilla and the comfort of occasional "matching" of one who shares my beliefs in a given moment. But far more enticing is that indescribable moment of INTERSECTION, where two very different beings connect with passion and inspiration in a moment of synergy of action or ideas. Today that occurred not once, but three times with very special clients/friends. I am proud of their advances, their awakening, their aliveness. This is where success may be measured in my current stage of life. Abundance will follow them now as they hold faith and taste the possibilities aligned with who they are meant to be.
Writing to you, knowing how unique our viewpoints may be. When resisting, ask yourself "What Else is Possible?". My experience and personal truth in any moment is just that - mine for you to consider. All Things are Possible - ATAP