Don’t “Just Do It!”

Since 1988 Nike’s Just Do It slogan has been adding zeros to Nike’s bottom line. No one can argue that old shoesit’s a great tagline for them. Well known, easy to remember, and inspiring to athletes and coach potatoes alike.

Even though it’s served Nike well, I don’t think it’s a great tagline for how to “do life.” Honestly, I only take issue with three parts of it: just, do, and it.

Wait a Minute

Who am I to argue with the genius of a large ad agency that represents clients like Facebook and Coke Cola? Who am I to argue with a slogan that has been inspiring the masses to buy shoes (and socks and sunglasses and water bottles…) for 27 years?

The phrase sells shoes. I’m not interested in selling shoes. I’m interested in connecting people to their most inspired (and inspiring) life. I don’t recommend “Just Do It” as the best way to get there.

Being “Just”

Just, among its definitions, means “actually or really.” In other words “really” do it.

As opposed to dreaming, thinking about doing it, talking about why you can’t do it, having a snack, calling a friend, filing your nails, browsing Facebook, having another snack…

Sometimes we need that kick in the butt to get off our butts and make our “it” happen. Sometimes action IS what’s required. But when we jump to the assumption that “just” doing is the answer when we haven’t even figured out the question, we’re premature in our process. I see people pushing, busy, busy, busy, doing stuff day after day, yet not feel successful.

“Just” marginalizes what needs to happen, as if doing or not doing was the only problem. As in, if you just did “it” life would be wonderful. If you just got out and ran (wearing Nike’s, of course) you would be healthier, heck maybe even an Olympian.

But if this is something worth doing, if this is the thing you feel called to do, then your “it” deserves more focus and intention than a dismissive “just.”

Do, Be, Do, Be, Do?

So what about the “do” part? Taking action is at some point essential. But it must be preceded with some “being,” that place where divine inspiration comes in, where ideas gestate. Maybe some taking stock, some listening and sometimes even some waiting.

It’s okay, even necessary to take some time before doing. There’s your timing. And there’s divine timing. Sometimes we need to make ready. Sometimes the universe needs to line things up. If you’ve ever pushed, worked, and plodded to make something happen only to feel frustrated as the project ground to a halt, then you may not have laid your groundwork. It also might not be the “right” time. No amount of “just doing” will unblock the logjam.

The “just do it” attitude implies that it’s all up to you. That there isn’t a greater power at work here. But there is.

That “Just Do It” stuff can keep you busy all day. What about right action? To have right action you must first have inner awareness. You must listen. You must wait for a puff of divine inspiration to blow your way.

Sometimes the most fearless thing you can do is wait. Don’t confuse making excuses, distraction or your delay tactics with waiting for right timing.

When is the time for doing? Good question. It goes back to the awareness piece. You’ll feel clear. You’ll feel excited about your next step.

Here’s the really cool thing. When you’re not pushing yourself to “just do it,” when you’ve waited for that inspiration, for knowing, then you don’t have to push. You want to move. And move you do.

Your “It”

Before you do “it,” you have to figure out what your “it” is. Tricky territory. Sometimes we go after an “it” that belongs to our parents, a boss, or our culture. To live an inspired life you must have a taste of what your “it” is. Doesn’t work if you’re driving to someone else’s it.

Sometimes the bravest thing to do is to go on an inner expedition to find your “it.” It takes space. It takes quiet. It takes commitment.

Your brain is a valuable resource. It usually remembers your address, your route home, your favorite brand of tennis shoes, be they Nike or other. But your brain isn’t always the best place to source your “it.”

Better Places to Check for Your “It.”

Try your heart, a repository of wisdom of what moves and motivates you. Gosh, maybe you’ll be so moved that you won’t need a catchy slogan to inspire you to action.

Trust your gut. Those twitchy, slippery ever-present feelings sandwiched between yesterday’s pizza and your morning corn flakes can inform you about what matters to YOU.

You may have to build your awareness muscles. If you haven’t been listening you have to relearn/learn those skills. But do 15 awareness crunches a day and pretty soon you’ll find yourself with flat awareness muscles. And looking proud, balancing right on top, you might just find your “it.”

Be patient. You’ll know it’s yours because you’ll feel a sense of excitement coupled with a feeling of “this is it.”

Your “it” calls you for a reason. It helps you to heal, to grow. It helps you to offer your gifts to the world, to have more joy. And in order to be up to speed with your “it” you probably need to do some inner work. You might need to shift some beliefs.

I know “Just Do It” is much simpler than my process. My tagline would suck. Something like “Know what you want. Get aligned with it. Wait for inspiration and then act.” I won’t be selling many shoes with that baby. It probably won’t turn you into a world-class athlete either. But you might just have more success and be happier in the process too.

Do you know what your “it” is? I’d love for you to share it here.

All Play and No “Work?”

Art Feeds My SoulBack in the 90’s thinking about doing art would trigger a stress response for me. I’d feel my muscles tighten, my breath would become shallower, and I would sweat.

Sounds like fun, huh?

So I Took An Art Class

You might be surprised to hear that I’m currently taking a yearlong art class and loving it. I used to say, “I can’t even draw a good stick figure.” But I surrounded myself with supportive artists friends, not on purpose, but because I love to be around creative people.

Over time these lovely women took me under their wings and helped me find my path with art. One of my artist friends who used to teach drawing classes told me that anyone (yes, even me) could learn to draw. And with their guidance I was able to draw something that was recognizable.

For my current art class I get a weekly online lesson. The mixed media lessons come from various teachers using a variety of mediums-paint, stamps, collage, inks, lettering, etc.

Lesson Learned

What I learned from last week’s lesson was priceless. While I had a bit of a learning curve using some new markers, a birthday gift from two of my artist muse friends, the important thing I learned was about having fun.

I didn’t expect my project to look perfect. I didn’t expect me to be perfect. And because of that it was play, not work. Because of that I stayed in the present moment. That’s how I’ve learned to approach the art classes I take.

My ah-ha moment came when I realized how often I expect perfection from myself when it comes to my work. I expect my coaching to be perfect. I expect everyone in my classes to have a stellar experience. I expect every idea I have to be executed perfectly.

But it’s not possible (sorry if you saw me as perfect and I spoiled the illusion) for perfection to be my norm. And holding onto that dream certainly sucks the joy out of the process.

More Fun Please

So I’m vowing to have more fun with my work, make that my “play.” Don’t get me wrong. I often do have fun with my work. It’s just that sometimes I don’t.

In February I lead my second Purposeful Yoga retreat in Mexico. I had fun. Lots of fun actually. I got to use my skills, be creative, hang out with incredible women, swim, hike to a cave, connect with locals, walk a deserted beach… All while I was “working.”

Fun has a high vibration. It can help you be healthier and happier. It can help you attract more of what you want in your life. So how can you have more fun in your life? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Who Will You Be if You Let Go?

If you’re not living the life of your dreams you probably think adding something to your life is the key.

Hands Releasing a DoveMaybe

More money.

A different job.

More clients.

More travel.

The love of your life.

A new home…

Connecting with your desire, the “what” you want, is an important piece of living your purpose. Actually it’s one of the most important pieces.

But one of the secrets to living your life of purpose is that you must let go. You may have to let go of beliefs, people, other dreams, stuff, and more stuff

The letting go process can be scary. Big scary. It can be hard work.

But it’s necessary work for moving into what’s next.

 The Care and Feeding of Stuff

You see, whatever you’re carrying around, be it physical stuff, extra weight, beliefs, ideas, or expectations, there’s tending involved. That tending takes precious time. Plus the stuff takes up, if not physical space, psychic, energetic, emotional and/or mental space.

And that time and space is space and time that can’t be taken up by new ideas, by new beliefs, a new lifestyle, a new love, or a new business.

Let Go and Then Let Go Again

First, let me say that my ex-husband is a nice man. We’ve been divorced for almost 15 years, yet I know if I needed something he’d help if he could.

But back when I was married I “knew” at some point that it was time to move on from the relationship.

The person I was at 26 was not the same person hovering on the brink of 40. Part of the leaving was about questioning my sexuality. Straight, lesbian, bi-sexual?

But there was more to it than that.

Even though I “knew” my decision, I hesitated.

Would I be alone the rest of my life? I didn’t like that idea.

Would I be able to survive on my self-employment income? I’d been self sufficient, even owning my own home, before marriage. But I had had the illusion of security in the form of a “job” back then.

Even with my fears I made my decision to leave.

Then I changed my mind.

Then I returned to my decision.

Then I got afraid again.

And so it went.

Waiting for an Epiphany

I was going to Peru and hoped for an epiphany while there. Maybe some big voice would boom from the sky. Perhaps an Incan shaman, come back for my benefit, would tell me what to do while I gazed at the Machu Picchu ruins.

The trip was wonderful. Transformational even.

But alas, No booming voice.

I returned and my decision (waffly as it was) was still to leave.

Post Reading Pissed Off

Then someone told me about a psychic that would be visiting Salem.

A really good psychic.

That was it. I would go to see her and she would tell me to leave my marriage. She would tell me about the wonderful life I would have post divorce.

The psychic, instead of telling me to leave, asked why I wouldn’t let my husband love me. Really? I wasn’t happy. I just paid for that?

She asked what would be different if I left. So I thought about the visions I’d been having of my future.

Announcement, Announcement

Could I get what felt was missing right where I was?

So I stayed. Planted some flowers. Went shopping for a new coach. We worked on the intimacy thing.

But then my body started talking to me. I had a health scare. Maybe too much info, but I had pain in my ovary and because I have a family history of ovarian cancer I listened. I can’t tell you why that scare made me decide I definitely needed to move on with my life. As I write this it seems like leap, but at the time it was a clear message for me.

 Letting Go for Good, Real Good

So I leaped.

I moved out into a little rental house by a creek. And I survived. Fast forward to today… I have a wonderful relationship with my domestic partner. We own a house on acreage with woods (for me) and a pasture (for her. Not for her to live in, but to keep her goats in.) No offense to the ex, but I’ve grown in ways I wouldn’t have if I’d stayed in my marriage.

Without letting go of my marriage, I wouldn’t have become who I am today. I’m more direct. More willing to speak my truth. Letting go wasn’t so much about leaving something, but rather about who I could become.

I’m curious if you feel the nudge to let go of something be it big (like a job or relationship) or smaller like a pile of magazines or a habit of checking your phone while talking to someone?

 Four Steps for Letting Go

  1. First name it. You can always decide to hold on if you want.
  2. Check your knowing. Do you get a clear yes? A clear no? A maybe or unknown?
  3. Get some support. This can be a great time to get coaching. With coaching you come up with the answers. The right questions from a coach can be oh so helpful.
  4. Sign up for the 40-day challenge. It’s especially for women entrepreneurs. But if you feel called and you’re not in that category, sign up anyway.

Traffic Jam and a Roadblock

I invited the participants in my recent Mexico yoga retreat to bring along some

yoga retreat ladies on the beach

Angeles and yoga ladies on the beach

school supplies for Majahua, the local village. I’d seen the school and the poverty and knew they could use them.

Well, my ladies were generous. Very generous. Christy who speaks fluent Spanish and works with children brought Spanish language books. Beverly, an artist, brought along art supplies. There were notebooks, pens, crayons, scissors, glue… suitcases full!

The Traffic Jam

Now we had plenty of school supplies. I needed to figure out how to get them delivered to the school.

One day on my way to do some errands for the retreat I got stopped in the best traffic jam ever.

If you were to see this village, just the idea of a traffic jam would make you laugh. Picture about 20 small homes and two little tiendas that sell chips, candy, pop, a few canned items, and a small quantity of produce.

Even slow traffic stirs up dust on this narrow winding dirt road. Speed bumps are made from either a large rope or the bark from a palm tree. Hot, tired dogs lay beside, and sometimes in, the road. People

walk around the dogs as they head to work, to a neighbor’s, or on their way to buy some fish.

As I entered Majahua, school had just been released. The road was lined with pairs and groups headed home, a brother and sister, a mother and her two little ones, a trio of boys laughing…

Next I saw two piglets dart into the road. When I saw the trash truck headed toward me filling the narrow row I pulled over knowing I wasn’t going any where for awhile.

Jose, about eight years old and neatly dressed in black slacks and a white button down shirt, approached my car with a big grin and an “hola.” He asked how I was.

So I inquired if the teachers were still at the school. “Si.”

After Jose left I chatted with other kids, completed my errands, and then stopped at the school.  I arranged with the principal and only teacher to come back on Friday with the school supplies and some of the women from my group. The ladies were eager to meet the kids and be involved in handing off the supplies.

The Roadblock

Thursday evening our entire group headed to La Mexicana restaurant in Troncones for a traditional meal (my first time for pozole) and to watch regional dancing. We were surprised as we drove back through Majahua to be stopped by a roadblock.

It was dark and at first hard to see who held the rope across the road preventing us from moving on. But as we stopped we saw a petite girl of about five held one end. The other rope holder was a girl of ten. The coffee can they held out explained that they were collecting funds so that the bathrooms in the school could be repaired. El banos weren’t currently working. I deposited some coins and told them we were going to be visiting the school the next day. The elder rope holder and keeper of the can explained that there was no school tomorrow.

My first thought was, “how do I say “ah oh” in espanol.” My ladies were leaving on Sunday. I could drop things off the next week, but that meant they wouldn’t get to be involved.

Something Better

The following day we walked down the beach to Majahua to have lunch at Marta’s, one of the beach side restaurants. On the way we ran into Angeles, a cook at the resort where we were staying, plus her children, and a nephew. She explained she had the kids today because, you guessed it, no school.

As we chatted one of the boys began to write letters in the sand.  Angeles explained he liked to write.

Bingo.

Later that day we delivered to Angeles a custom designed bundle of paper, markers, crayons, even a book for her to read to her six-month-old baby.  

At Marta’s we met Victoria, a ten year old who was helping dad because there was no school. This time we were on it. “Do you like to read?” “Not really.” “How about drawing?” “Yes.” You could see the excitement in her eyes.

Guess what Victoria got later that day? A bundle with art pad and pens selected by Beverly along with some things for Victoria’s younger sister.

We had enough that every staff person with children where we were staying was able to choose something for their child or children. And we still had plenty left for the school.

Way Better

The lesson for me (not the first time I’ve learned this lesson) was to not be attached to the outcome. How I saw things unfolding was not how it happened. What happened was way better. We got to really connect with some individuals. We got to give back to people who had been serving us all week. We got to offer something to this community with which we’d fallen in love.

My work is to remember this lesson, or at least be open to re-learning it again. Act where I feel inspired and then let go. Let something or someone greater offer a traffic jam, a roadblock, a better way. And then go along for the ride.

And you? Is this a lesson you’ve learned (or relearned) like me? I’d love to hear your insights and examples here.

And if a yoga retreat to Mexico is calling your name head here. 

Sharon Roemmel

Practically Enlightened You

Start Claiming “Amazing You” Now

 

The Problem with Retreats

transitionI love retreats of all shapes and sizes. But I noticed for both others and myself a common problem that takes away some of the impact of a retreat.

See if this sounds familiar.

You work hard to be ready to leave. You spend the first part of your time off recovering, resetting your pace.

By the time the retreat is over you do feel better—more relaxed, more rested… You’ve practiced some new habits—regular exercise, healthier eating, not checking your phone every 10 minutes… You feel the benefits from just a few changes and you vow to continue these changes, this slower rhythm.

You return home. Now you have to work hard to catch up from being gone. A couple of weeks pass and someone asks you about your vacation. You have to pause and think about it to remember that you’ve even had time away.

Dang. You’ve lost that retreat/vacation vibe again.

The makings of a great retreat

The word retreat is defined this way: “move back or withdraw to a quiet secluded place.” When you do that you get a chance to slow down, to view your life and how you’re living it with fresh eyes.  You feel renewed, rested, maybe even invigorated.

Before and after

The problem with most retreats is that they occur in a vacuum. You go, you enjoy, and then you return to the same environment from whence you came.

I’ve found that people often have issues with transition. They return to their loved ones, their co-workers, the “regular world.” While the retreat participant may have shifted their ideas and habits the rest of the world is the same. While you were off relaxing by the pool, taking naps, or reading a good book someone was still at home scooping the cat boxes. Yeah, all that cat shit did not mysteriously disappear by itself.

Addressing the fact that you have a life pre- and post retreat can make a world of difference in how that transition goes. (We’ll be doing that as part of the  Purposeful Yoga Retreat.) It can help you reap the benefits of your time off at a deeper fuller level.

A couple of pointers:

  1. Have a plan. Think about how you will transition both before and after your retreat.
  2. Talk with those around you about this transition time. Listen to how it affects them when you’re gone (or how they think it might affect them.) What are their fears? How can you support each other?

Has the transition back to work and life ever been challenging for you? Share your challenges and solutions here.

Pebbles on the Path

Years ago I had a massage client named “Linda.” Nice lady. Good sense of humor. Not a lot of joy in her life.  

She’d worked at the same job for about 20 years I’m sure she was competent with her job duties, but it pebbles on pathwas clearly “just a 9-5 job” to her. Pushing buttons to total numbers was not bringing her joy. Her job helped pay the bills for she & her husband. It offered little in the way of stimulation, accomplishment, or enjoyment.

I could feel her boredom with life, not just the job. Weekends were spent with family activities, mostly centered on her husband’s hobby of collecting sports memorabilia. Her bi-monthly massage was the sum total of her self-care.

Driving Towards Purpose

One day she mentioned wanting to drive a race car. She’d heard about a place that offered lessons. I inquired if she was going to sign up. She gave me a list of excuses, none of which rang true.

I offered to make a contribution to her race car driving fund should she choose to pursue it. Although the topic came up numerous times, she never took me up on the offer.

I’m not implying that driving fast would have given her life more meaning. But it appeared that she wasn’t living a life of joy, a life where she listened to her soul, a life where she tended to her most precious needs.

Pebbles on the Path

I call the “race cars” in your life the “pebbles on the path.” These pebbles may not be the path. But paying attention to things that feel compelling, interesting, even joyful can help lead you to or help keep on path.

This kind of paying attention and action taking is BIG self-care. Not the usual bubble bath or eating healthy you might think of when you consider self-care. This is the kind of care that’s required if you’re going to live a life of purpose that’s fulfilling, fun, and sustainable.

My suggestion to you is to 1) set an intention and then 2) watch for your first pebble.

An idea, an action, something to research, a class that compels you, a dinner you “must” schedule with a friend… I can’t tell you what your pebble will look like, but I can tell you it will come. And when you follow it you’ll move down your path.

Share your pebbles here.

Finding retreat

view to oceanIf you’re like most of the people I talk with your life is full. To the top. You might even call it overwhelming.

A retreat sounds wonderful. Time to relax, pamper yourself, sit with your feet up…

But even the idea of creating a retreat may sound stressful. Even if money’s not an issue, you still have to make time to find a place. Then you need to block out time in your schedule to be away from work.

Every day retreat

What if you just can’t see getting away for a week or even a weekend? Are you doomed to a life of drudgery? Don’t despair. You can retreat everyday.

Several years ago I worked with a busy doctor. In addition to her practice she was a single mom to two bright and busy teenage girls. That’s a full plate.  She knew she needed to reduce her stress. She needed more breathing room.

It wasn’t that she never found time for retreat. She found weekend time to head to the coast and went to Italy for a couple of weeks. But her day-to-day life was intense enough that she knew she needed something more integrated with the rest of her life. What she was doing felt like getting a big glass of water and then expecting that to quench her thirst for a month.

So we looked at her life to discover ways she could add a bit of retreat into each day. She turned her request for rest into a win-win. When she invited female clients to take a deep breath and bring their arms overhead in preparation for their breast exam, she mirrored the request. She paused from doing and inhaled deeply. This way she got a mini-retreat multiple times a day.

Another woman I worked with incorporated a breathing practice into her daily commute. She had ten minutes between the time she dropped her daughter off at school and the time she started her workday. Those ten minutes helped renew her every morning.

How can you add in a pause?

Feel like you’d benefit from an integrated refresh pause?

  1. First look for something you do everyday. Maybe it’s answering the phone, driving your car, or checking your schedule.
  2. Next pair a pause with that activity. It could be focused attention on your breath, a moment of mindfulness, a prayer, a chant, a gratitude.
  3. Repeat. The renewal comes from the regular pairing of these activities. Commit to this new habit for the rest of the year and notice if you feel less like a desperate animal waiting to be let out of a cage.
  4. Share your wisdom here. Your idea might just inspire someone else.

 

 

A Business Success Trick I Learned From My Yoga Teacher or How My Yoga Teacher Tricked Me

 

forward bend

woman in forward bend

Dan started by inviting me to teach yoga at his studio. The first time he asked me my answer was an easy “no. “ But a year later he asked again.

I’d been practicing yoga very irregularly since the late 70’s.  But it was 1993. For a couple of years I’d been attending yoga class two to three times a week and had a regular home practice. Plus I‘d started working in my massage business full time. The timing was perfect for me to start teaching.

Step one…

I said “yes.” Then time passed. One day Dan asked how “we” were going to get me to teach. My response? “I don’t know how to do headstands.” His response? “Don’t teach headstands.”

Little chunks

The next week during a class I was attending he asked if I could move my mat to the front of the class. That way he could adjust students as I demonstrated the poses.

At first I was aware of being in front of the class, but then I focused on the yoga and it was okay. Then he asked if I could teach the beginning of a class the following week. I’d been offering guided mediations for years in other settings so that was easy.

The next week he had me teach the end of a class. Then when I’d taught the middle of a class on week three he announced that I had now taught a full class so was ready to sub for him. My thought was “What just happened?”

I went on to complete both yoga teacher and yoga therapy trainings, but Dan’s trick got me started.

What stops you?

Since then I’ve let fear or limiting beliefs stop me in other ways. “I don’t know enough, the timings not right, someone else is already doing this work, blah, blah, blah… “ At those times I’ve found Dan’s trick a handy part of my toolkit.

I wonder if you ever let yourself get stuck by outdated ideas about who you are? Or how about beliefs about “competition?” Or feelings of not knowing or being enough? Or other beliefs about lack and limitations?

I wonder if Dan’s trick might work for you? Can you trick yourself into action by taking on one very, very small piece of what scares you? Whether you’re starting a brand new business or working on a project within your business you probably have experienced getting stuck. Give this trick a try and join the conversation here.

 

 

Keeping Track of Change

honesty bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Keeping Track of Change

What does your perfect vacation look like? My ideal trip combines nature, people, good food, and bookstores. I’m especially happy if my destination includes a used bookstore or two. In September I visited Hay-on-Wye, Wales, pretty much nirvana from my perspective. With my sister and my partner we attempted to shop in every one of Hay’s approximately 30 used bookstores. We didn’t make it to all 30. Guess I’ll have to return.

What does this have to do with business? Well, of course, I shopped the business book sections of the stores. And yes, I bought a few.

I’m reading Diary of a Change Agent by Tony Page, one of the books I picked up in Hay-on-Wye. Page records the ups and downs of his business and personal life (stress at work impacts your personal life, in case you didn’t know.) He takes his diary a step further by focusing on value. After an entry he’ll note what value both he and his client gained from the experience. Page also notes other insights and learning he gained.

Keeping a diary can be a great tool for tracking your growth as an individual and as a business owner. Over time you’ll see trends. You’ll bump up against the same problems. You’ll whine about the same issues. (I don’t mean you would ever whine. I’m talking about all those other people.)

But wait. It gets better. You’ll see growth. You’ll record ah-ha moments.   

You’ve probably heard that there’s a new year arriving in less than a month. I’m suggesting Page’s diary exercise for the upcoming year. I’m going to incorporate it into my year. Here are some suggested guidelines.

  1. Write when you feel inspired to write. Page didn’t write every single day. If something’s a “have to” it becomes a chore, not a pleasure.
  2.  Keep entries short. Your life is probably already busy. Adding in a time consuming task means you’ll be busier, not a good thing. 
  3. Set an intention for your diary. While his goal was to see how he could add value, yours might be to track some other variable. That way your project has focus. Maybe you want to note how you stay (or stray) from alignment with your values. Or how about tracking your commitment to self-care? I’m going to track when I act in a courageous manner and when I let fear rule my actions. 
  4. Have fun with the process. Page included drawings, comments about his kids, the fact that it snowed. He learned not only from business interactions, but also the rest of his life.

Interested in joining me on a journaling journey? What do you want to keep track of in the coming year?