The Quicksand of Introspection

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”                             ~ C.G. Jung

Many creative types tend to be introspective. According to Merriam Webster introspection can be understood this way:

In-tro-spec-tion (n.) a reflective looking inward : an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.

Introspection is interesting, it can become rather obsessive and addictive. I’m introspective by nature…and when not being quicksand1introspective, I’m extrospective – examining the world outside me. So, while watching y’all I’ve noticed, introspection can be like quicksand. People get in, but have a great challenge trying to get out. Sometimes they can no longer interact with the world…going under…that’s bad. Still, it’s important, nay, essential, to understand oneself and our place in the world. It’s especially important to creative types because part of the art we create springs from that very introspection. But, as art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin said,

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.” 

And he should know…he looked at oodles of art and thought… A LOT.

So how do we wade through the quicksand and get out safely? I’ve made a “life-saver” observation while in a time of extrospection…EXPERIENCE COUNTS.

It’s a bit like when you start a new job or take on a new responsibility. You have any given number of balls and are expected to keep them in the air…at least the important ones. But, since you aren’t sure which are important, you juggle, like a caffeinated clown. As you gain more knowledge and confidence, you realize some of the balls can take a rest, and that you can take a breather. Introspection is like that. While some realizations may seem looming and huge, that doesn’t include every single notion we conjure. As you get older – ah, here’s yet another benefit – it becomes more apparent where to put our energy, what notions to tend to, what can wait.

As we gain experience we learn how to extricate ourselves from being mired in the quicksand of introspection.

Bridge b&wWe realize the value of extrospection and can lace the two together knowing how to bring the best of ourselves, our talents, our voice and the needs of others together, to be a formidable asset to the world.  It’s the gift, the payoff, for having gone through the fire in our youth.

So please, cherish your introspective time, enlist it to create, express and own who you are. Taking that time allows your authenticity to shine through in your work. AND also, take some time to observe the world, to extrospect. Find how you can help. Introspection and extrospection work so well together. The perfect marriage.

I’ll be waiting for my wedding invitation,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥Coaching pic  - Version 3

 

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The Path

Remember those flip storybooks? The kind you had when you were a kid? There were several divided pages you could choose red rocks croppedfrom and you’d flip one part of the story and it would change the entire storyline.  Life is kind of like that.

Are you happy with the way your life is unfolding? It occurred to me, “The steps you take today, create the path you walk tomorrow.” (Click to Tweet).  This can be applied with a broad brushstroke in many areas of life, but it holds true not only for life’s big decisions, but also the daily choices we make, like when to get out of our bath robe or when to say “no.”

No pressure here, but everyday we all make choices. Occasionally we make big choices like which career path to take, the type of leader we want to be, the way we want to parent, who we’ll marry and other high impact stuff. On a smaller scale, every single day we make choices about how we “run our day.” This includes how we fulfill our commitments, what will be on the “to do” list, how we’ll respond to a request and who we’ll turn to for advice or approval.

Just because we consciously make these choices and choose a direction to follow, doesn’t mean we get all our wishes. Our thoughtfulness doesn’t guarantee our future will unfold on our schedule or present the exact picture we desire, but it creates a pathway that sets the trajectory of our lives. That sounds terrifying, fateful and as if our entire lives are determined by one simple decision. The thought can lead to analysis paralysis.  It reminds me of the time my son was on his IKEA shopping spree and took 3 ½ hours to spend $200. (Sorry, son).

It’s. Not. That. Critical…………………………………..Usually……..Not. 

There’s always an opportunity to hang a right…or left…and take another trail. OR you can beat down a new trail that’s never been tried before. It’s never too late to pursue another path, or just change the smaller steps that take us down the current one. But, the further we get down a path, the more energy it takes to change direction. It’s true!

The simple truth of the matter is – if you don’t start taking steps on some sort of path – you will probably wake up someday standing in pretty much the same bloody place. So, hop on a path and make the turns if you need to!

What are you doing along your travels?

  • Are you thoughtful about your choices?
  • Do you structure your time to accomplish things that will take you a little further down the path each day?
  • When making a decision do you consider not only how it will impact the present, but the potential future outcomes it may create?
  • Do you have a trusted confidant or personal “Board of Advisors” to share ideas and concerns with?

These are just a few considerations. And certainly, in times of great transition it’s normal to be unsure which path you want. If that’s your situation, it’s okay to take some time, and it’s always okay (even wise) to ask for help.

CIMG0043Remember, you may not know where you’re going to be in 5 years, but you’re going to be SOMEWHERE…so, pick a path. (Click to Tweet).

Once more thing – while you’re on the journey remember to enjoy the scenery. That is all!

Safe Travels and Be Brave!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; Coaching pic  - Version 3the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥

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Willpower and Work – An Inside Job

temptationadameveYes, I’m a bad person. I know this because the book group I founded, brimming with incredible women, told me so. I got myself in a bit of a mess over a book about Willpower. I don’t really lack willpower, not really. I have it when I want it, BUT I didn’t want it for the current assignment. In the spirit of true rebellion I didn’t do the reading for last night’s gathering. I just blew it off.

I. Didn’t. Have. The. Willpower. To. Read. The. Willpower. Book.

Doesn’t that just suck? I mean, how embarrassing.

Not only that, but I whined and pleaded with these beautiful souls and we ended up changing the book. It didn’t take a lot of tears…seems others were more than willing to abandon the ship without much prodding.

Willpower pic dogsIn the past I’ve given tips for time management and overcoming procrastination. But, how do you gut up the willingness when the devil is tugging you in the other direction? (click to Tweet). This concept is vitally important to those of us who are the bosses of our own bad selves, walk to the beat of our own drummer, have the freedom to practice extreme avoidance and don’t have to report what we’ve accomplished to anyone at the close of the day.

What is it about willpower then? I’ll give you some tips (from someone who DIDN’T read the book) and I’ll go straight to the cliffs’ notes.

  • Self-control is a muscle and must be exercised…so practice.
  • Don’t try to practice willpower when you’re too stressed, angry, hungry or tired.
  • There are biological interactions that take place when you’re trying to exercise willpower that undermine even the most super-human of us…so you have to be willing to forgive yourself….sometimes frequently.
  • Too much self-control can be unhealthy…just like too much stress. Deductive reasoning would support that sinning is good for you (okay, I took a little creative license with that one).
  • Visualize – and CONNECT with the feeling you will experience when you’ve achieved the goal. Keep the connection in the forefront (this suggestion stems from my coaching career, I didn’t see it in the book. I guess the author forgot – or I didn’t read that far).
  • Get enough R&R to build up stores of willpower.

And that’s as far as I got. What have you got? Feel free to share your tips for maintaining willpower. How do you avoid the cheesecake or turn off the TV when you should be working? How do you drive yourself to maintain focus when you’d rather do something else?

Willpower and work…it’s an inside job!

BE INSPIRED!!!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥Coaching pic  - Version 3

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Give Yourself a Break

retreat2Life can get going pretty fast. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, partake in the same old activities, see the same people each day and do the same old thing. Some people call it the “Grind.” Well, you may be stuck in the grind, or you may be enjoying the way things are…no matter, you could probably use a break.

Retreats are a nice way of taking a break. I recently took one and found it was not only good for my head, but my soul benefited as well. Here’s what I took away from a break in routine:

S-t-r-e-t-c-h – I learned some new stuff. I didn’t enjoy every, single minute because I was seriously pushed out of my comfort zone, but I did learn a lot of useful, innovative information, gained mastery of some new techniques and had a chance to adjust my line of thinking about this “stretch,” so it was well worth a couple awkward moments.

Pull back the curtain – I had some time to be introspective. In those “awkward moments” I quickly realized the only one paying attention to me was, well, ME. Hmmmm…. Why was it a big deal to me, and no one else seemed to care? Something to learn there…code phrase…”room to grow”. So, I learned some new behaviours and had an opportunity to choose a positive attitude.

Find kindred spirits – I made new friends. I met nice, accomplished, curious souls. Because it was a topic I was interested in, I met people with like interests, similar stories and several who were quite inspirational. I’ll keep in touch with some of these folks, so I’m building relationships with some really awesome people!

Bounce with the big yellow ball – I woke up more easily. For the time I was attending the retreat I sprung out of bed with Perfect daymore gusto than usual. Let’s face it, I’m not a morning person (Click to Tweet). When I woke up at 5:30 am and didn’t want to crawl back under the blankets I knew some serious voodoo was up. I was crazy, super excited about what the day would bring,

Beef up your bag of tricks – I now have a few more tools for my bag of tricks. Whether I use them directly, or indirectly, it doesn’t really matter, I have them and will make use of them somehow. My head is bursting with new ideas. I tested my boundaries and survived. Not only that…I thrived!

Cultivate confidence – with new experiences and new skills, I got out of my comfort zone and now it IS my comfort zone (Click to Tweet).  One of my original goals going into my workshop was to build confidence in the topic – yay – done! I AM INSPIRED!!!

Restore, rejuvenate and rest. Comparing notes, it’s safe to say every night the 20 of us fell into bed exhausted. Yep, we  “left it all on the field” every, single day AND IT WAS EXHILARATING! The learning, working, laughing and fun curve was astronomic…so we all went home exhausted with smiles on our faces. Not many things will offer you that result! (Well, there are a few, but this is a PG rated blog)

Given the benefits above, I think it’s safe to say we could all use the occasional break. Vacations are great, but something that really challenges our comfort levels, inspires new behaviours and provides a safe environment to explore is beneficial to our well being. It makes us EXCITED about moving forward. Do yourself a favour, and give yourself a break!

Cheers to a Well Lived Life!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

Bloom Before You Go to Seed

Disclaimer: The following content is not a judgment. It’s a musing…a simple observation of how life reveals itself in recurring themes, curtains of consciousness that run parallel and present occasional opportunities to transfer learning from one “universe” to another. I hope you enjoy the read.

There’s a restaurant I go to on occasion. I’ve noticed there’s some dynamic action, mostly around the bar, especially on group-of-people-with-drinks-at-nightclub-barThursday nights. I call it the “30 Something Death Gasp” phenomenon. Thursday is the night, kind of like a vampire calling, when all the 30 something singles go out in hopes of making their lives what they had expected, but haven’t yet created.  Well, at least they appear to know what they want.

You can hear the TICK TOC of the biological clocks. It smells like the place in in rut, but it’s the best fire roasted chicken in the world, so I continue to go and witness the “30 Something Death Gasp.”  The roasted artichokes are to die for, and well, let me be honest, I’m fascinated by watching this dynamic. The patrons at the bar seem to have identified their niche and are executing their PLAN.

Recently, at a business networking meeting, I was asked about my niche. Geez, I’m sort of a renaissance woman, you know? (Hahaha!) I do a little coaching, some corporate facilitations, write a bit and work in my studio, doing my art. Occasionally, I teach a mosaic workshop spiced up with some soul searching for the participants. It seems like everyone has a great time, but niche? I really can’t put my finger on it. I do know I have a PLAN. Several, actually. I know what I want — I want to create and to help.

I’ve watched people who’ve denied themselves the privilege of experimenting with new ideas, new mediums, new skill sets. They second guess their choices, wonder if it would have been different had they followed their calling. AND, what is their calling anyway? It has come to my attention I may have defined my niche in the chicken restaurant. I am the coach, the writer, the artist, the teacher for the 30-50 something “gaspers” that are looking for their calling, segueing into something of more substance, trying to embrace their purpose. I’m the coach for the “starting overs,” the “doing it differentlies,” the “it was always my dream to’s” that are looking at the acts of their lives and not wanting to be crying during the curtain call.

I love to help people identify and live their passion so they can BLOOM before they go to seed. I want to do it with humour, with fun and to be there to help celebrate the victory when the skies open and the angels sing (or whatever)!

How about you? Something you’ve always wanted to do?  Do you have a longing desire or calling? A strong, yet flexible plan? Go for it! It feels so good. Awaken and feed that passion and excitement. Even if you’re busy with other commitments right now, just a taste now and then can be oh, so satisfying (Click to Tweet). Someday soon, I hope you are able to sit down at the table and devour the feast – chicken, roasted artichokes, et, al!

Bloom….before you go to seed!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter