Category Archives: should

Christmas Cards in October?

Christmas Cards in October?

Yes, I’m one of those people. I start working on Christmas cards in October. Typically, I’m ordering something around now, though there have been times in the past when I would have already received my order and begun hand-addressing the envelopes. (My list is about 125 people so it takes some time.)

This year, though, I am not sure what I’m doing. Yesterday I browsed through some online card templates; and today, while at Costco, I saw some very pretty boxed card sets. But somehow, it all fell a bit flat.

It’s entirely possible that the dullness is the result of this lull I’m experiencing. A lot of things are falling flat lately, so it’s not just the cards. But the cards truly gave me pause, because it is one of my favorite things about the holidays: giving and receiving cards. It’s a symbolic gesture that says: I’m thinking of you. I love it.

I think that’s why it feels flat. Nothing I’ve seen has sparked that moment of “I’m thinking of you” within me. It actually feels more like an obligation than a joy. And that’s exactly what gave me pause.

When something that has previously carried the spark of creativity, love, and imagination loses its sparkle, it becomes obligation or duty… and there’s no joy in that.

I know that there are times in our lives when both obligation and duty are required, but they truly are limited to the smallest minority – like, maybe 5% or less. The rest of the time, most of our daily lives are ruled by either routine or joy, with routine often in a significant majority. It’s the joy component that most interests me.

How do we make joy out of routine? How do we protect our joy in light of the requirements of routine? Is it truly all about attitude? Choice? Perspective?

You’re probably expecting an answer here – but the truth is: I don’t know. I watch people all around me, every day, going through the motions of life, their heads buried in their phones or computers, or projects, barely looking up to recognize what’s going on around them. It saddens me. I’ve been party to it – still am, sometimes – so I know it’s a difficult pattern to break, especially when we don’t have a motivation to do so. There’s no reward, it seems, to breaking the habit of daily living.

I think that’s the biggest issue facing our society today: this idea of an immediate tangible reward. We’ve gotten to where we can’t tolerate failure, so instead we accept habitual mediocrity. It’s not just coloring within the lines, but allowing someone else to choose all the colors and their placement for us. It’s life without risk… and also without reward.

Which means it’s also a loss of joy. Pure true unabated joy.

When was the last time you laughed so hard your abs hurt? 
Or your heart filled with pure unconditional love and gratitude? 
Or you smiled so deeply that you began to cry? 

These are all expressions of joy. Pure joy.

For me, I will probably send out Christmas cards this year, though I am giving myself wiggle room and might send New Year’s cards instead. Because, if I don’t feel joy in creating and addressing them, I don’t want to send out a message of “obligation” instead of a message of “thinking of you.” As we know, everything carries energy. Even our correspondence. I’d rather wait or skip a year, instead of sending out something just to have done it.

And I think that’s a healthy question we can ask of most everything in our daily lives, don’t you?


Resolving Resolutions

By now, we’ve had about 5 days for our New Year’s Resolutions to settle into our minds. How is that going? Have you been to the gym? Cleaned out your refrigerator? Started that novel? Written in your journal? Meditated daily?

Years ago I wrote a piece on the difference between New Year’s Resolutions and New YOU Resolutions. We often use milestones, such as birthdays, the start of the month or week, or the beginning of a new year to serve as the catalyst for change. Typically, however, a date on a calendar is not inciting enough to create lasting change. That has to come from within. It has to come from YOU.

Which brings me to the point of this week’s writing:

If your resolutions list isn’t in alignment with who you are and doesn’t come from within you, you are setting yourself up for failure before you begin.

Another way to say this is that expectations, as we know them, are based on who we are, and not who the other person (or situation) is. It’s an internal desire, imposed on an external person or thing. A recipe for disappointment, frustration, and suffering.

New Year’s Resolutions are the same in the reverse. Resolutions typically involve some external input or measurement that we then choose to impose on ourselves internally in much the same way we use expectations – only now it’s a mirror image.

In both instances we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure. So, how do we set ourselves up for success?

The key to creating achievable results is to start with goals that come from within and are aligned with

who you are, not who you think you should be;
what you want, not what you think you should want; and
when you can do something, not when you think you should do something.

Externally-derived resolutions are exercises in will-power not pathways to change. Sometimes will-power can result in lasting change, but often times the reverse is true. And even if it does result in change, it typically involves feelings of frustration, deprivation, and lack. Not the most positively reinforcing experiences.

Change has to come from within. The strongest most long-lasting ember or catalyst is the one that burns deeply inside your soul, the one that emanates 100% from within you. Change derived from an internally-vetted desire has the greatest possibility for success.

So, now that you’ve had 5 days to try on your resolutions – and now that you have a new perspective on how to approach them – what are you going to change?

Is it really time for you to create a to-do list that makes you feel further away from your center, in pursuit of some externalized goal? Or is it, perhaps, time for you to create a road map that is in alignment with who you are inside, to honor your inner knowing and voice, and find strength, peace, wellness, and happiness from an internal place of Self.

One last thought: The beautiful thing about all of this is that you get to decide… every moment of every day. Change, growth, and alignment are not tied to a milestone on a calendar.

Should v2.0

It’s time to have a conversation about “should.”

Let’s first look at the aversion to the word should:

I get why we have had a pushback against “should” in recent times. We needed it. We needed the catalyst and the language to pause and redirect our energies toward something more compassionate and less judgmental.

I remember when I first embraced the ‘anti-should’ movement. It felt empowering and liberating, kind of like how saying “no” feels. At one point I turned to someone who was suggesting ways for me to behave, and I said, “Don’t ‘should’ on me.”

It was that simple, that clear. Someone else was should-dumping all over me from their perspective without taking time, empathy, or compassion to understand mine. Standing up for myself and putting a stop to it felt great.

Eventually, it trickled down into telling myself to stop using the word should as well, which was even more empowering. Then, eventually, I started asking my clients to pause and redirect when they used the word themselves. I had all but obliterated “should” from my vocabulary.

For me, “should” was a bad word, with bad consequences and shameful connotations.

But wow, is that a whole lot of judgment to be placing on 6 little letters. So, it’s time to take a step back. Thankfully, a recent conversation with a friend helped me clarify the dreaded “should” and come to a new understanding.

Let’s call this “Should version 2.0.”

First of all, there are two kinds of “should” in our lives. One is spirit-enhancing and the other is spirit-draining. So, what’s the difference?

The spirit-enhancing should is value-aligned. That means that the “shoulds” we tell ourselves are in alignment with our core values and serve to help us live more fully from a values-driven direction. Examples of this might be:

  • You SHOULD kiss your partner goodnight every night (IF a core value is expressing love in relationships).
  • You SHOULD return a phone call in a timely manner (IF a core value is being prompt and/or respecting others’ time).

Shoulds that reinforce value-aligned actions would be spirit-enhancing. They serve as loving reminders. Yes, “should” can be loving.

Alternatively, the spirit-draining shoulds are judgment based. That means that they are infused with shame and carry a subsequent judgment of good or bad with them. Using the same example:

  • You SHOULD kiss your partner goodnight (because you’re a bad person if you don’t).
  • You SHOULD return a phone call in a timely manner (because if you don’t, you’re lazy and disrespectful).

The defining phrase it what changes the should, and it’s always there. You have to look for it and cross-check it against your core values. Furthermore, it’s nobody’s decision but your own what your core values are. So, “should” when delivered by an external party is almost always judgment-based.

This is the key point: if your “should” is based on external directives that you haven’t filtered through your own core values, then it’s most likely not in alignment and therefore spirit-draining.

So, if you find yourself saying “I SHOULD do this,” or ” I SHOULD do that,” the first question to ask is whether this suggestion comes from within you or outside of yourself. If it’s from outside, chances are it’s draining you.

If it’s from within:

  1. look for the qualifying phrase after the should and identify it, and
  2. run it through the filter of your core values to determine if it’s in alignment.

If it’s not, let it go and find something that is aligned. If it is aligned, embrace it for all its worth!

P.S. If you want to learn more about identifying your core values, let me know. I have a system in place that will help you and empower you through all your decisions in life.