Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just Curious...

When are we ever not in relationship? Think about it. People, spouses, friends, children, siblings, neighbors, team mates, colleagues, in-laws, staff members, our pets, clients. And then there's money, nature, homes, illness, cars, sport teams, musicians, classmates, servers in restaurants, the President. Everywhere we turn, whether for moments or a lifetime, we are in relationship with something, someone.

For me, today: I am in relationship with my spouse, my son, my pets. There will be relationship with my contractor, my client (a fundraising department of a non-profit organization), my financial adviser, my car, my son's doctor. I will greet neighbors when walking the dog. I will meet up with my son and his friends when they volunteer at a senior center later this afternoon. We are planning to eat dinner out tonight so there will be some restaurant personnel and money to be with. Over the course of the day there will be many e-mails to respond to and phone calls to answer. And there will be dozens of other relationships to navigate. Relationships are everywhere.

What do you notice about who and what you are in relationship with today? What do you notice about yourself when being in relationship? Which relationship really satisfies you, creates ease and happiness? Which relationship causes stress or anxiety or bores you? What do you find most challenging about being in relationship? Since we can never not be in relationship, what does it take to be more present to them, intentional about them, and skillful in them?

Enjoy the day!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

School Days

Last night was back-to-school night at my son's high school. Hundreds of parents shuffling from classroom to classroom, listening to teachers describe grading procedures, attendance policies, methods for contacting them, on-line grade reports, and course outlines. Good times!

And while I really hope my boy is taking in the high quality academic teaching he is offered (I am sure he is), I have to admit, there is some really solid teaching adorning posters hanging on the walls in his tenth grade classrooms:
  • Make somebody's day.
  • Ignorance is not an excuse.
  • Choose your attitude.
  • Be wise, protect your eyes.
  • The expert in anything was once a beginner.
  • Just because something is difficult doesn't mean you shouldn't try, it means you should just try harder.
  • Reading can take you to the top.
And my personal favorite was a set of posters asking:
  • Who am I in the world?
  • What is right and wrong?
  • How do I communicate effectively?
  • How do I recognize/understand/interpret differences?
Look around yourself...right this moment. What do you see? What will you learn from what is around you? What are you being reminded of right now? What meaning will you make of the images/sounds/feelings in your space at this moment?

Now back to class!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Being Big!

This is Maria. Extraordinary Maria. Maria is the instructor of the aqua-fitness class I take three times per week at the local Jewish Community Center. I have never been a gym-person, a pool-person, an exercise-person but Maria makes it all possible. She is motivating. She is creative. She is highly trained, professional, and a learner herself. And what I notice about Maria--more than anything--is her absolute commitment to each student living a great life by feeling good and exercising with personal rigor.

Today, in class, something happened. Our exercise program was far more psychological than physical (although the physical workout was excellent). Maria wanted each student to be big today... really BIG. She wanted our movements to be intentionally big, wider, longer, deeper. She wanted attention paid to each movement, making them mean something...awareness. Through the entire class, in between shouting instructions and demonstrating techniques, she repeated: "be big...come on, you can do this...get big, get long...think about your benefit more from big..."

I found myself fixated on my big-ness, my ability to get more from my workout than usual. I heard Maria really pushing me to a bigger place, to a bigger result. It was as though she was diligently pulling each student towards his/her greatest goal. My goal felt possible. My goal was clear. I was going to be BIG.

At times, all we need is someone reminding us we can be big. At times, having someone hold our bigger goal for a bit while we do the hard work is really useful. At times, the geography of being pulled forward is much more powerful than being pushed. Being reminded I can be more, I can be bigger resonates deeply for me. Knowing someone is looking after my whole life, keying into my values and sense of purpose, and holding me bigger than a workout or my day, is incredibly motivating.

Who holds you really big? What does it look like? What does being small look like in your life? Take that smallness and make it big; what do you notice? What would you like someone else to hold for you for a moment so you can do the work of being big? What holds you back from asking? The opposite of big doesn't have to be small; it can be complacent, bored, unhappy, inefficient, lazy, and a myriad of other things. If you're not big right now, what are you?

Off to my really BIG day!

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