Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finding Intention When Life Interrupts

My intention is to get back to writing.  So, here I am again three years later.  What took me away?


Life interrupted...

I remarried, moved, went through a custody battle, battled to have my daughters learning disabilities identified and their learning needs met.  I struggled to adjust to a whole new life, adapt to country living and a new neighborhood.  I fought to successfully blend our Brady bunch family - my two girls and my husband's two boys.   I cleaned out my Mom's home of about 20 years, helped her move and settle into a retirement center.  I devoted Sunday afternoon's to taking her to visit my step-father in the nursing home and adapted to being her wheels.  I spent more time than I cared to commuting in my car, taking my girls to all of their various appointments and activities (tutoring, the orthodontist, doctors, softball, Brownies, youth group, etc.), their separate schools - 45 minutes apart, and back and forth between their Dad's home and mine.  All of this and work too! Yet, I fit in another triathalon - coming in 2nd in my age category....all of the running around obviously kept me in shape.  I also did a mud run - WonderWoman style...I lept over fire, hurtled obstacles...not all that different from my daily life, really.  I did manage to get away.....Aruba for our honeymoon, Disney World for Spring Break, Hatteras for the Lyon family reunion, Thousand Island Park with my side of the family, and a remote cabin near Boone with my husband that had no internet connection nor wifi. Ahhhh....finally I turned it all off.

Yet, no sooner did I get back to reality...than I was back in the rat race.....running on the treadmill of life.  I realized something had to change when I'd get in bed and feel like I was still on the treadmill. I had difficulty getting a deep breath, I pulled a calf muscle, tore a hamstring, started getting headaches from dehydration, was snapping more at my family, and finding myself in tears more often.

Ironically, at a counselor's meeting we had a wise woman counselor remind us about the importance of self-care.  She had us partition a circle according to the energy and time we give to work, home/family and self care.  In looking at the tiny sliver of self on my pie, I realized I need more pie! I sought out an old friend, Mike Whitehead, who runs a business called The Center for Intentional Leadership.  He reminded me to slow down, be still and listen to myself.  So, I disconnected from all social media and began to discover small slivers of time in my day to sit and "be."  I focused on being more present with myself - paying attention to my own thoughts and feelings and on being more present with those around me.  After five days of this, I woke up one morning and said to myself, "I'm back."

Mike's business intrigued me.  The Center for Intentional Leadership.  I thought about that word "intention."  Intention..."a determination to act in a certain way; what one intends to do or bring about." My first intention was to go on a women's retreat with Mike for three days  Getting three days off from work right before Spring Break was something I expected would be frowned upon.  Yet, my boss said, "I think you should go."  I held my breath when I told my husband how much it cost, waiting for him to gasp and close the door on my intent.  He gasped alright, but after sleeping on it, he said to me the next morning, "I think you should go." I was already learning that when we put our intent out there, the universe responds to make it happen.

Taking time away for myself for three whole days was nothing I had ever done before, not since being married and having kids anyway.  And, it was the best thing I've ever done for myself!  It was a wake-up call.  I woke-up and came to learn about the beliefs, the lies I tell myself that hold me back from living the life I intend.  I sailed to places where I was anchored and learned to "let it go."  I reclaimed parts of myself that were there all along, but were hidden from view.  I connected with amazing women who helped me see that I'm not all that different from them, that there is a common bond we share as women in our struggles and challenges no matter what we do for work - whether we manage people or a company or our homes and families - we are all leaders as we go about leading our own lives. There was hesitation as I embarked on this journey with other women, who I assumed were in positions of leadership.  I remember telling a few of them at dinner one night - "I'm not a leader."  I admitted to being intimidated to go on the retreat, because I thought I'd be a fish out of water in a sea of corporate-world, high-powered women.  Yet, an empowering dream one night had me awaken with the realization that it was all a lie.   I am a leader.  I'm a leader of my life.   I am THE leader of my life.  Once I was able to claim this, I developed a plan to live my life with intention.  I've already started implementing my plan and it is empowering and invigorating to live the life I intend.  Life interrupts sometimes.  It is what it is, but we can get off the treadmill and catch our breath, slow down and learn to take each step in the direction we so choose.

Mike told a story of someone asking Michelangelo how he got his vision to make David out of the stone he had to work with.  Michelangelo answered that all he had to do was chip away, that David was there all along.  The process Mike took us through was quite the same.  I discovered things about myself that were there all along.  The busyness of life had just gotten in the way...interrupted what I already knew, who I already was.  I had to slow down, be still, listen, let go....and it was all mine again.  I take it all and move forward with intention to live the life I want to live and not succumb to being a human doing machine, but rather to "be" all that God intends me to be instead.

And so, here I am again....writing.  It is as I intend. 

Thanks Jane, Dave and Mike!