Peaceful Acceptance

Peaceful-Acceptance“When we can completely surrender and accept whatever is happening in the moment
(and maybe whatever thought is happening in the mind),
then there is no conflict.
The mind is naturally at ease no matter what the emotional thought is.
And that’s real freedom.”
-Andy Puddicombe, Headspace app

Over the years, I have struggled with surrendering and accepting whatever is happening in the moment. While struggling, I am, by definition, not peaceful. For acceptance of life on life’s terms to make sense to me at times, I’ve had to separate acceptance from approval or right-ness.

Some people believe that everything that happens in this world is God’s will. I tried too, but that approach just doesn’t work for me. I can’t have a positive relationship with the Spirit of the Universe if I believe that Spirit arranges child abuse, loss, violence, and so on to teach lessons or serve some agenda that will be revealed when we die.

So I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. I do believe that we can assign meaning to what happens and that the meaning we choose can help or hurt us and the world. So when I’m confronted by injustice, cruelty, misery, loss or indifference, I don’t have accept it because God is behind it and it’s supposed to be that way. I can choose to accept it because it is what is happening. I accept the reality of it, not the rightness of it.

From the vantage point of that acceptance, I can choose how to respond. I may go about my business, happy because I like what’s happening. I may choose to resist the situation, as civil rights activists do. Or anything in between. But I can’t choose what course to take unless I accept reality as it is in this moment, whether it’s my husband’s mood, the war in Syria or my own self-critical thoughts.

When I resist reality, when I refuse to accept a situation because it doesn’t align with my beliefs or preferences, I’m immobilized. When I breathe into what is, I’m free.

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Peaceful Presence

Peaceful-PresenceOne mid-March day in 2001, I experienced perfect peace.

My then-boyfriend Mark and I were at his mother’s home in Florida. It was mid-afternoon and we had been tired and decided to take a nap together. He and I had been dating since the previous September and, though I didn’t know it then, seven months later he would propose to me and I would joyfully accept.

On that sunny central Florida day, though, none of that mattered because I was completely in the present moment. We clung together, fully clothed, on the bed in his mom’s guest room. And I knew peace. I return to that memory sometimes and always re-experience a flash of that peace, that sense of all being right in the world, of safety and love and feeling fully alive. That may have been the moment I knew what I had with Mark was special.

What strikes me now is that connection between presence and peace. When I’m multi-tasking, I don’t feel peaceful. How can I when I’m doing two things at once, which by definition means that I’m not fully present for either of them? Listening to an audiobook while I straighten the house doesn’t detract from my performance of those extremely habitual housekeeping activities. They are so routine that I could almost do them in my sleep. But multi-tasking does diminish my sense of being fully present. And it leaves me feeling more jangly then serene. That’s not good or bad…just something I’ve noticed.

Presence affects every area of life. For the last few months, I’ve been focusing on being more present and mindful when I eat. It started December 1st, when I decided to eat less. I figured that if I really paid attention to what I actually did eat, I would feel less deprived about what I didn’t. Turns out it works! When I pay full (or, honestly, just more) attention to how food looks, smells, feels and tastes, I enjoy it more and require less. So far I’ve shed fourteen pounds without effort or deprivation. Who knew this was possible? Actually, many people. I’d read and heard of mindful eating for years. It just had not appealed to me. I didn’t want to be present with what I ate. And, perhaps not coincidentally, I did not experience great peace with food. Eating wasn’t a battle; it was just a habit, which is to say an almost mindless activity.

Peace did not come immediately. For the first few weeks, I felt anything but. I was frustrated that my metabolism no longer worked with the way I’d been eating for the past thirty years. And I felt lonely. So lonely. Since I work out of my home and my husband travels frequently, I eat most meals alone. I’m an introvert, so being alone usually fills my energy tank. But even introverts have limits. I’d apparently reached mine and hadn’t known it. No wonder I watched TV or read books while I ate! It distracted me from the isolation I experienced breaking bread by myself. When I set those diversions aside, I felt the pain at meal time and even cried a couple times. If this was being present, a future full of it looked grim.

But something shifted along the way. I realized I could take the loneliness. I leaned into it and discovered its textures and limits. Not surprisingly, it eased as I stayed present to it and accepted it. It also eased because I began to act on my need for greater connection with other people now that I was painfully aware of it. I started talking about it with some friends. I let my husband know how important our shared meals were so we could have more of them. And I somehow opened myself up to healing. Without any conscious decision, I began meeting face-to-face with people more often for work and personal connections. It has just unfolded naturally and effortlessly. I’m experiencing the beauty of being a creature that instinctively recalibrates once it gains awareness of being out of alignment.

And I’m OK with that. At peace, you might say. I’ll sometimes get out of balance with my needs. I’m human. If I give my mind the quiet it needs to be present, though, it will naturally lead me to peace. Nowadays, I recall that perfect cuddle on my future mother-in-law’s guest bed and enjoy the memory without wistfulness. I’m making new memories of peaceful present moments almost every day. It makes my life–and my belly–feel full. Maybe I’ll let go of the audiobooks while cleaning next…

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The Peace Process Begins

Peace-BeginsPeace means “an undisturbed state of mind; absence of mental conflict; serenity…calm; quiet; tranquility.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition)

For years I have helped clients create peace of mind through trustworthy productivity tools and habits. But in these times of deepened divisions and heightened tensions nationally, I’m called to take the conversation about inner peace beyond the productive into the personal. Because they are linked:

* What do you do when your client or coworkers express values and opinions antithetical to your own?
* How do you manage your emotions when your own internal beliefs collide?
* How do you remain present and engaged when awareness means your temperature rises and your mood plummets frequently?
* How do you function effectively at work and home when you want to run off on outraged tangents or just run off?

So I’m creating a series of posts called The Peace Process. This my first. I’m not sure where it will lead. I’m not sure what it will be about.

I just know this:
1. Peace matters. Resonating peace is my life’s mission.
2. I will have no internal peace if I simply avoid the socio-political fray that disturbs my peace and stick my head in the sand.
3. If I speak and act according to my convictions, I risk conflict with others and that brings no peace, internally or externally, at least short-term.
It’s a paradox. I must risk peacelessness in order to eventually enjoy the peace of integrity.

Am I the only one facing these choices? Are there other options? I feel my shoulders creeping towards my ears as I type.

Reinhold Neibuhr was an American theologian, professor and political commentator and he apparently wrote the Serenity Prayer in the 1930’s, a time of political upheaval around the world. Although he started as a pacifist, he came to believe that there were some wars, e.g., against facism, that were worth fighting. A key element of his prayer, at least in its most popular version, lays out his thoughts like this:
“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”

God, please grant me all three. With extra helpings of patience, tolerance and love, please.

Peace out,

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Be a Productive Entrepreneur

Karen Kalis, the Entrepreneur Coach, interviewed me for her Millionaire Mamas event. I talked about strategies for being a productive entrepreneur–or whether entrepreneurship is for you. Not all business owners are actually entrepreneurs. Check out the interview here.

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Another Reason to Get More Sleep

Sleep is the hidden hero of sustainable productivity. Long hours and even all-nighters can get you through temporarily (usually when you’re young) but you can’t rely on them long term. And their costs increase with every year of your life. Sufficient sleep, on the other hand, boosts your effectiveness tremendously. As part of your Health link, it amps the strength of every other link, improving your mood, your relations with others, your decision-making and planning, and so on.

Now there’s more evidence that it helps your body as well. Researchers have learned that people who get at least 7 hours of sleep get fewer colds than those who sleep less. Don’t have time for that much sleep? Do you really have time for the productivity deficits (and physical discomfort) caused by colds? Especially when the average non-senior adult gets 3 colds a year?

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Casey’s eTip: Get Started When You’re Stuck

Alan Brown, the ADD Crusher, suggests you ask yourself the following when you find yourself stuck at the beginning of a project…
* Are insights more likely to come from “outside” the process or once I’m “in it”?
* Do other people REALLY know how a complex task gets done from start to finish?
* Is there ANY way I’ll be able to foresee the steps needed to complete this in a systematic fashion?
* Do I really have to know how it’ll all come together in order to begin?

(This eTip brought to you by the Drive link in your Productivity Chain.)

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Casey’s eTip: Create More Interruption-Free Zones

If your CONSTANT availability to others’ questions, comments and requests impairs your productivity, here are a few ways you might protect your time: Change your work hours…come in early before others arrive or stay late after others go home. Or change your location on occasion…work in a meeting room, coffee shop or at home.

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Article on Overcoming Chaos

“If you’re doing all you can but can’t seem to keep up with the unending demands of your job—perhaps you need to reconsider how you’re approaching your work.” That’s how the article by Michelle Weidner begins.
Read the entire article here…
Download pdf of article here…

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Casey’s eTip: Reframe Certain Interruptions

How you look at an event determines your response. If you’re relaxed and welcoming, you feel more in control… As Dr. George Pickett said, “What you call ‘interruptions’ is my work.” Instead of seeing emails, calls and drop-by’s as interruptions, view them as welcome opportunities to problem-solve and be of service. When you do, you feel calmer and work more productively.

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Casey’s eTip: Channel Negative Energy into Positive Action

“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues,” Duke Ellington once famously said. Take a lesson from his playbook today.

Casey’s eTip: Channel Negative Energy into Positive Action
You can “fight” negativity inside yourself or leaking out of other people, but that battle takes time and effort. Why not embrace and re-channel that energy instead? Turn disappointments, frustrations, aggravations, etc., into humorous stories, inspirational lessons or even art. It’s a powerful way to control your outlook, reactions and, ultimately, your life.

(This eTip brought to you by the Drive link in your Productivity Chain.)

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