This definition has nothing to do with skill, accomplishment, goals, ability, or anything else other than a state of mind and the resulting natural flow from that state of mind.
An amateur faces challenges (real or imagined) in their quest to achieve X and they become derailed, unfocused, and diverted. A professional may experience the same exact challenges but, due to their state of mind, continue on diligently working away to achieve X regardless of outer or inner reasons to stop.
An amateur in any field procrastinates, finds excuses, creates alternative work... anything to keep from doing and achieving what they deep down feel drawn to do.
A pro just does the work. The ugly work, the dirty work, the unmarketable work... they keep honing and developing what they are drawn to do regardless of if anyone else in the world feels their work is valuable or important.
As someone who has 1001 interests I have to ask myself - where am I just doing busy work and where am I really drawn?
Do I have so many interests simply because I'm very successful at running away from becoming a pro at the areas I'm really passionate about? I'm making myself too busy doing B-Z that I can only dabble with A - even though A is, if I'm honest, my most passionate area?
Do I really want to speak multiple languages (or run an adventure race, or compete in Mt. Trail, or write a book, or learn pottery, or create art, or or or)? I certainly do not have the habits a pro would utilize to do any of these things.
Am I hiding from the professional effort needed to accomplish these things OR am I wasting time playing with this and that on a surface level to avoid digging down into the area(s) I should be truly focused upon?
The onion layers are many.
I'm in the city for training this weekend.
Outside the hotel cars rush by and people are busy doing city living things. A bit discombobulating.
But if I lay on the hotel floor just so... and open the curtains just a bit. ... I look out on this lovely juniper.
So thankful for trees.
Isn't this lady just beautiful? I find them now and again - such an oddity and yet so perfectly formed as is all of creation. She was hanging out under our deck railing and would turn her head just so whenever I brought the camera close.
Some folks in my town have been hit with life changing events in the last few weeks.
One man, who frequents my work, fell off his truck hitting his head on the pavement. He has a large family and a new baby. An avid outdoorsman and hard worker from what I've been told... he also now no longer has the frontal lobe of his brain. I'm not sure what that means for him... I've been told the frontal lobe controls movement of arms, legs, and such... but does not greatly affect mental function. I can only imagine that if I were his wife I would be so grateful my husband was still with me.
One lady, a single mom with a 3 year old little blond girl and a job as a waitress, was in a car accident. She is now paralyzed with no use of her arms or legs. I do not know what her future will hold but I can only imagine that if I were her daughter I would be so grateful that my mom was still with me.
Two families, including one husband/wife in their 60's/70's, in one of the poorest neighborhoods of our town found their homes up in flames after somebodies illegal burn barrel fire sent sparks into the overgrown grasses. The homes and buildings are burned to the ground leaving charred remains and smoke damaged homes standing on either side. The people are poor... they were burning insulation off of copper wire so that it could be sold for a higher price. If I were them I would just be so grateful that nobody died.
I read a blog post a few days ago... about being kind to others as everyone has some kind of heartache. The post was touching... the comment section was moving - comment after comment of people sharing their heartache.
Hearing the things that my neighbors, friends, and strangers are going through makes the daily inconveniences... the minor annoyances.... the little challenges of life all so insignificant.
These events remind me to be grateful, truly grateful, for life.
And in the depths of the biggest challenges... the life changing challenges... I hope all are given grace and kindness and love from those around them. That they might find the pieces of positive in the midst of the difficulty - rays of hope to be grateful for.
The daily decisions that add up to weekly routines, monthly activities, and yearly directions... until one day you look around and say "How did I get here?!"
This week I had one of those moments as I was standing by this stack of culvert. Interesting to think of all the "little" yes and no answers that added up to me standing in this spot.
You know that movie theater effect? The one where you become so absorbed in the storyline that, for a couple hours, you are more a part of that reality that your current circumstance?
The air conditioning is a bit too cold and the lighting is dim. You are surrounded by the smell of popcorn, the vague sweet smell of soda, and the shuffling sounds of your fellow movie goers.... yet that reality is so far from your consciousness that it is almost non-existent.
What is real to you is the story in front of you... the emotions, the weather, the scenery... it all seems so very real.
As the credits roll you start to stir and slowly recognize your surroundings. Walking, almost dream-like, through the theater you exit through a side door and are hit with the suns full force. It is jarring and hard for your mind to reconcile this reality with the reality you just experienced in the movie.
I wonder if that is what life is like. When the credits of our lives begin to role will our souls stumble out and be blinded by the real reality? Will we suddenly realize that we've spent our lives being mesmerized by the flashy, fake Hollywood of life and missed the true life experience?
I dedicated a significant portion of July to changing my life.
My pre-challenge self would now evaluate whether I succeeded or failed the challenge. Analyzing percentage of change from start to finish, comparison of finish with goal, and eventually ending with the conclusion that I failed because in some way I did not measure up to my ideal.
Phooey on that.
I'm loving my post-challenge self.
Am I a perfect, woodland sprite that bounds through each day without a care in the world? Nope.
What I am is someone who no longer obsesses over work.
Someone who takes time out to rescue a tiny lizard from the bathroom and then spends time taking photos of its release back to nature.
Someone who bought a horse... and rode that horse around the pasture and down the road... and could care less if it looked perfect.
Someone who said no to more work offers and yes to all the things life has to offer outside of work.
I went for walks. I played games. I travelled. I wrote. I sat on the deck. I had long conversations. I had acupuncture and went to yoga. I spent time not thinking or doing.
Did I define what it meant for me to be a life-a-holic? Yes and no. For me, letting go of the definition, letting go of the constraints, letting go of control is allowing me to embrace life.
Taking time to inhale the sage on the air after a summer storm.
Marveling at the sunset.
Waking before the birds simple to hear the world start to greet a new day.
Saying I love you.
Accepting a complement.
Some days I travel.
Through the mountains away from the hustle and bustle.
Most days the woods are quiet - except for the occasional racing chipmunk daring me to swerve to avoid a minor bump for me... a "life flashing before their eyes" event for them.
Some days I see deer (this time of year with spotted fawns), rabbits, coyote, eagles, hawks, and all manner of other birds.....
On rare occasions I see elk.
The roads pass through open range so it is a common occurrence to round a bend and find a herd lazily munching on the roadside grasses.
This morning a fat and sassy herd of cows greeted me... I stopped to take their picture - they stared at me with their big dark eyes for a moment, then flipped their ears back and, deciding I must be up to no good, headed off into the tree line.
What creates the want in the first place? That desire for something different, something new.
Especially when what is is perfectly perfect.
Why do we wake up one day saying now I want X?
I've been going back and forth over that horse... should I get him? should I pass? I was uncertain. Unsettled.
Did I want a horse? Yes. Was he "the" horse? I wasn't sure. I even put it on my to-do list "Make a decision about Snickers".
Saturday morning I scrolled through some posts and found the prettiest little mare just posted for sale. One town over.
In talking with the owner she sounded just about perfect - 9 years old, started as a reiner but then so gentle she was transitioned into a children's lesson horse. Miles and miles of trail experiences and just the right size.
We make the trek over the mountain and I go for a ride. Around the arena, out on the trail... she was amazing. Half way through the trail ride I was sold and started making plans to bring her home, the things we would do this summer, the places we would go and the lessons we would take. I would help her out of her "school horse" shell and she would help me overcome my deep seated fears.
And then the owner, who originally had showed interest in doing a lease to purchase agreement, decided that there were too many people interested in her... so she was no longer interested in putting her up for lease. Sale only. Full price. Up front.
Disappointment rained down upon my head. Tears stung my eyes.
I tried different scenarios, contemplated methods of payment, fussed and fought with myself.
In the end I sent a message saying I'm sorry, I cannot purchase her at this time but if she happens to not sell, I would be interested in a month or so.
I felt good about the decision. I felt disappointed in the outcome.
Would I have loved to wake up this morning and see her out in my pasture? Absolutely.
Would I have regretted the financial impact of buying her when we are not quite ready? Absolutely.
We've worked too hard and sacrificed too much to get into a more stable financial position to just fall back into those bad financial habits over a "want".
I'm still disappointed today and I'm still proud of myself for making the right financial decision.
But I've also discovered two things:
1.) That the gelding from the other day is not the right horse for me. As amazing as he is, he is still a baby that will need years of development before he will be the steady horse I want.
2.) I really do want a horse again.
And who knows, maybe that pretty little mare won't sell and in another month or so she may just show up in my pasture... And if that's not to be, I'm sure there is another who will steal my heart just as quickly.
One of the questions asked during my acupuncture interview appointment was if I was interested in taking herbal supplements.
Sure I said. I'm not opposed to natural products.
How strange a thing that our culture has an opposition to "natural" whereas man made is consumed without a second thought.
I met with my acupuncturist again today.
The amount of change in the previous 3 sessions has left me speechless. Seriously.
I didn't have an area of pain for him to work on today. He was shocked and happy that we could work on overall wellness versus pain.
What really stood out today was his enthusiasm for the lifestyle changes I'm making being tempered by the statement that he has not seen many people able to take care of themselves consistently over a long period of time. That eventually work would take over and create stressful demands upon me again so I should make use of any "breaks" in work to create bursts of self care. To fix myself up and get strong before work inevitably took over my life again.
That is a depressing possibility. And a cautioning statement to remind me to create boundaries for my work.
To set limits on the amount of work I want to do, when I will do the work, and what kind of work I will do.
And to feel good about those limits and not feel guilty for saying no to things that don't fit into my work boundaries.
Life is for living.... not working.
But if I'm connected with my beliefs then I must confess... I was blessed with a miracle yesterday. Which makes me so very thankful and brings awareness to the fact that miracles happen everyday, every moment, that I all to often take for "luck" or some other convenience not attached to the Divine.
Yesterday was a regular travel day for me - going "over the hill" to meet a client. About a 150 mile round trip by the end of the day. I enjoy it... driving is my "thinking" time and this drive is through a beautiful area.
Yesterday however there seemed to be a particularly foul smell to the air. It would waft in and then dissipate. I chalked it up to the occasional stretches of fresh road work.
On the way home the smell was more pronounced. I started to believe it was "with" me. Perhaps I'd hit a plastic bag and it was melting away on the exhaust? An unfortunate critter stuck up in the engine? Could it (Gasp!) be me smelling that bad?
By the time I picked up Shane last night I was pretty used to the smell. He, however, was not. We weren't but a mile or so down the road when he exclaims "WHAT is that smell?!" To which I replied I had no idea but I'd been smelling it all day.
The regular evening duties took priority over the search for the offensive odor, we parked the truck and went on about our night.
About 2 hours later I discover the smell was still there - and just as strong as ever. Shane comes to investigate - nothing is found stuck underneath. I think perhaps some jokester put something rotten in the bed or backseat. Nothing.
Then Shane opens the hood. We are met with sounds of sizzling liquid leaking from a bulging battery. The temp gun shows 177 degrees ... 2 hours after it has been parked.
How much hotter it must have been in the hours of driving in the mountains.
How easily it could have (should have) exploded.
How very likely a scenario it would have been for me to be stranded on the side of the mountain road while my truck burned down.
It's been almost 2 years since I said goodbye to my horses.
I thought it might be forever.
After all, I worked so much. I was not competing. I was not fulfilling the mold of who I thought an equestrian was.
My work-a-holic self yells - "You need to work! You don't have time to be a horse person again!"
When I look at this horse I tell that self to shut up...
This horse inspires me to dream. He stirs my imagination.
I've not experienced this with any of the horses I've seen or ridden since I said goodbye to mine.
I get goose bumps when I look at him.
When I walked into his barn for the first time yesterday he called to me with a soft nicker.... asking where I've been.
I was not looking for him. He does not fit the mold of the horse I'd created just in case I ever decided to get another..... And perhaps that makes him just about perfect.
|(c) John Pinder via Flickr|
I would love to be an artist.
Colorful, carefree, whimsical, a tad eccentric, unique.... a little bit of hippy, city, and country all rolled together with pine needles and a dash of sea salt. Where art is as much about how they live and who they are as it is the items that they create. Such a persona, in my imagination, would create art that is interesting and stimulating, beautiful and organic, unusual and casual.
That is the artist I would love to be.
And yet, because when I look in the mirror I do not see "that" person, I define myself as not an artist..... or, at best, a wannabe.
This wannabe concept expands through all of my life - a mental definition and picture of what it means to be a writer, an equestrian, a gardener, a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a niece, a woman, an embracer of life... and so many more areas.
What I do see when I look in the mirror is my definition of a worker. I fit my self-made mold almost perfectly and yet I can still make up areas where I should be a better worker... where I'm not quite good enough. For the most part though, I fit that mold.
It is safe. I know how to do it. I feel successful.
Unfortunately, that worker definition comes at the expense of everything else. I'm coming to believe that being a work-a-holic is a defense mechanism I've created so that I do not have to face and tear down my definitions for the other areas in my life.
I'm too busy working to be a gardener.... Or am I scared I won't fit the mold of a gardener that I've created so I make myself too busy to try?
Sadly, I believe the truth is found in the later.
Where the real problem lies is in my creation of those molds in the first place. There is no one type of anything in life, and here I found I've created for myself a pass or fail test. I either fit the perfect (in my opinion) mold or I fail.
So on day 11 of my challenge to move from a work-a-holic to a life-a-holic I'm beginning to smash my molds. It's a work in progress.... I've created many molds.... so many that there are ones shoved to the back corners of my mind covered in cobwebs and dust and long forgotten. Dreams and ideas and possibilities and experiences lost to negativity.
I'm finding them slowly... as I peel away layers of work responsibilities and create open spaces of time in which I have time to think "Oh I could do X" that is when the negativity pops up saying "But you're not an X so you can't do that" ... It is in that moment that I am finding those hidden molds and it is my opportunity to smash them.
Smash them I shall.
Day 2 of my 30-day challenge to go from a work-a-holic to a life-a-holic is wrapping up.
What have I done?
1.) I slept in - my early morning call was cancelled so I had two options: To get up at my regular time and do other work or sleep to a normal hour. I chose the later and got up at a respectable 6am-ish.
2.) I spent about a half hour on the phone with a girlfriend - who also happens to be a yoga instructor and a very kind person. She heard my tale and we set a plan to get me back stretching and limbering up these bound up muscles.
3.) I made an appointment at an acupuncturist - for tomorrow! Something I've always wanted to do, never made time to do. Now I have a great reason... and it should be an interesting experience!
4.) I went for a bit of a walk.
5.) I've thought a lot about my definition of life-a-holic.... I do not have a definition... but I like the way thinking about it makes me feel.... I'm excited about the possibilities.
6.) I took a picture of an almond on my computer simply because it was fun.
3..... 2..... 1..... GO!
My competition squealed and screamed with delight as seemingly hundreds of children darted off of the sidewalk on West Wagner Street into the side lawn of Talent Elementary school. Kids ran and stopped, stooping to pick up an egg and then darting off to another bright spot of color on the lawn. This location was just the teaser... the real action was to be found on the far side of the school at the track. Laughing parents took off to catch up with their children on the big field.
Finally - I was alone.
Surely, surely this Easter egg hunting couldn't be as simple as picking up eggs off the ground... so easily seen - anyone could do that... where was the competition? While my competitors picked the easy fruit I was going to go for the big treasure of eggs that must be hidden well to be found only by those willing to work for it.
All alone I scoured around the bushes by the buildings... ducking under branches, crawling here and there, dragging my empty basket along.
Eventually my mom came back and found me. Wondering, I'm sure, what in the world I was doing.
By the time we got out to the track all the eggs were neatly packed in baskets - kids smiling and showing off their treasures to their proud parents.
My basket remained empty.
Mom found an egg - a purple one with it's shell cracked and the egg showing through. A casualty of an excited kid running over it to grab another.
I was sad... but more than that I was confused. Shouldn't this Easter egg hunt have been harder..... as I expected it to be?
Life can be hard. Really hard.
But I've come to learn some of the hardest times are the times I make hard all on my own. Doubting my abilities, worrying over how an event will go, wondering how other people will respond... all of it unneeded stress.
Sure, there are times when we need to prepare for a difficult challenge but I'm learning that most times life is like that Easter egg hunt and perhaps it is best to excitedly run carefree into the day - stopping to pick up the beautiful treasures along the way.