Here’s a confession: I can gobble up a chunk of time with meaningless shit faster than a Carolina crocodile can snarf down a toy poodle on a golf course. I’m not proud of it, but there it is.
I suspect it’s because of my on-going love affair with busy. Okay, so it’s OUR affair – I realize I’m not the only one with this crush.
And yet I know better. I crave slow. I’ve written about slow. I’ve read books about slow. I create space for others to discover the gift of slow’s sweetness, like a fine chocolate on the tongue. But at the age of 42, I’ve come to appreciate – as my friend Karen Wyman most recently said of herself in SheSpeaks, “I’m just not that woman” that comes naturally to slow.
I’m a rabbit. I like my bushy tail and zig-zagging around open fields, diving in and out of burrows with a catch-me-if-you-can grin on my face.
And yet you and I both know what can happen to rabbits that aren’t paying attention….yeah, they can get smushed crossing the road or picked up for a light supper by a hawk. Clearly, rabbits need ways to escape the open fields of life so they can stay safe, smart and bushy. So what to do?
One look through my past blog posts and you’ll quickly learn that finding the answer to this question is a theme in my life. But here’s the cool part: with every visit to that well of learning, I’ve grabbed another nugget – proof that I have, in fact, been learning and, yes, paying attention. Here are the highlights.
I make friends with how I’m hard-wired
Let me be clear: I like the side of me that crackles with life and moves like a comet. Sure, it can be a bit much at a dinner party, and I’m well aware I’m not for everybody, but I kind of like that woman. She’s someone I’d be friends with. So I am. Good friends. I stop expecting she’ll be someone she’s not – give her lots of allowance, permission, time and space to zip around, and know that she is doing her own particular brand of dance through life. Be loving with her, not judging. Help her to weed out all the shoulds that encourage her to play small, to fit in, and to be moderate. Give her high-fives and way-to-gos when I see her. That’s what being a friend to myself looks like. And notice I said “make friends”, not “made”…this is a daily endeavor I’m talking about here. I suspect it always will be.
I yank the friggin’ plug outta the wall
Unplugging is the most obvious (and the most difficult) way for me to recharge and rest my bushy tail. I go through regular bouts of just turning it all off – computers, phone, TV, Facebook, Twitter. Even the front porch light. I let everyone know I’m not home – literally and figuratively. One of my consulting colleagues used to call this act “making yourself unavailable” and I come back to it frequently to remind myself – and others – that I am not accessible 24/7. It’s a radical act, and it always makes me queasy for the first day or two. I’m sure you can relate…that sensation of possibly missing something (whether it’s a call, an e-mail, an inside joke, a worldly event) But the other side of it is such sweet territory.
I say “no” with wild abandon
On my sassier days, I’ve often joked about getting a t-shirt that just reads “no.” I realize it’s not popular – heretical,even. But I believe in “no” because it creates the space for something else to move in. Some people call it setting clear boundaries, some say it’s simply being honest. Yes to all that. But I also see “no” as a place and a space, not necessarily an act. “No’s” are the entrances to my burrows as a rabbit. They allow me to go underground from time to time, so I can make the most of my “Yes’s” when I’m above ground. Having dodged raised eyebrows, hints at being selfish, and boatloads of guilt, I’ve actually become quite adept at “No.” I no longer surround it by explanation or chase it with an apology. I also don’t ask for permission or expect that others will understand. I simply head into my burrow, leaving others to make of it what they will.
I consult my Five Words and my Three Questions
In my burrow(s), I’ve got Five Words and Three Questions that anchor me. The Five Words represent the way I want to feel (ie. “like a powerhouse”, “inspired”, “proud”, “free”, “plugged in”) about everything – my actions, my life, my decisions, my direction, my choices. They are a result of an exercise I went through as part of Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Series for entrepreneurs. Her belief – and I agree – is that EVERYTHING we do is ultimately in service (or not) of those feelings. So I make sure I’m clear on what they are. The Three Questions all have simple yes/no answers and help me to gauge how I am in relation to what I want for myself. They plug me back into what’s important to me (ie. “Are you being gentle and loving with yourself?”, “Are you connected to the Divine?”) Asking these questions helps me to practice noticing myself without judgement and invites me to course-correct. So that’s why I’ve got them in my burrow(s) – so I can see them and reflect on who I am and what I’m choosing as it relates to what I want. If I get stuck, if I falter, if I get lost…they guide me home.
I get outta dodge
For those times when simply unplugging is not enough, I go to a burrow that’s off the beaten path – one where someone else does the laundry and brings me fresh carrots for dinner. I find this is a seasonal jaunt for me – taking me out of my familiar surroundings for one night or even a week so I can not be distracted by the familiar. And luxurious as it may seem, it is terrifying for this rabbit to be completely alone with the sole intention of listening deeply to what I have to say. I don’t fill my hours with yoga classes or massages or guided meditation. It’s just me and my pen and my journal – and typically a glass or two of wine, a handful of chocolate and a cord of wood to burn. I hunker down and literally hold my furry little rabbit ass to the ground until I start to recognize the sound of my inner voice speaking my truth. Then I write it down so I won’t forget it.
I will always be a rabbit – I’m very clear (and proud) of that now. But I have tricks to keep my tail bushy and I’m not afraid to use them. Tricks are for rabbits, not just for kids.