Gratitude Day 4

Day 4 of 30 Days of Tessism has me appreciating the beauty of letting go.

Gratitude:  Today, I am grateful for the ability to let go of places, people and things that don’t work for me.  It’s definitely a work in progress.  There are many instances when I’ve let go and still looked back, wondering if I’d made the right choice.  In those situations, I just have to trust that everything will work out.  What’s funny is that it always does.

Then there are those blessed circumstances where letting go is the most natural thing I could ever do.  Once done, I never look back or regret my choice.  When that happens, I know for sure that I am taking care of myself.  There is no strife or concern.  It isn’t a matter of “cutting anyone off”.  I had been long addicted to punitively excising people from my life.  After overcoming that tendency, I don’t take the severing of ties lightly.  The removal of relationships that don’t work is gift I give myself AND the other person.  It is as healthy as going to the gym or eating wholesome food.

The jobs I have recently left–leaving felt right.  The toxic friendships I released have left me less burdened.  I let go of comfort and the familiar to travel to Nigeria only to create comfort and familiarity there.  I can let go because I have all that I need right with me wherever I go.  For that, I am grateful.

Gratitude Day 2

Day 2 of 30 days of Tessism is upon us and I am counting my blessings.

Gratitude:  I am grateful for the circumstances that changed my career trajectory earlier this year.  Leaving the startup I was involved with was the most prudent and loving thing I could do for myself.

It freed me up to explore things that I’m passionate about that I would never have had the time for in the past.  I also have been able to travel to Nigeria clear of any obligation to any organization besides Me, Inc!  That’s a great feeling.  I can focus on projects that move me and I continue to let go of things that aren’t working for me wherever I can.

So much can happen when you lighten the burden.  Gratitude has no weight.

30 Days of Tessism

It’s that time of the year.  November is here and that means another 30-day challenge.  This time, I’m going all in with NaNoWriMo aka National Novel Writing Month:

a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.  Participants begin writing on November 1.  The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

I’ll be writing that novel…finally.

I’ll also continue to blog here, counting down all the things for which I’m grateful in this next to last month of the year.  On top of that, I’ve created a microblog where I will be sharing Random Tessism.  Expect tidbits from last year’s challenge and wherever I find them.  I hope you enjoy the ride.

I’ve got my lessons from last year, chunks of my novel, my #naijalife and a gratitude attitude to keep me going for the next 30 days.  Read along to keep up with me or join the fun and come up with your own challenge for the next month.

Here we go!

Gratitude:  I’m grateful for the privilege of sharing my life and these challenges with you, my community.

Challenge Day 30: Score!

I swear I have the 30-day challenge blues.  After pushing day after day, I’m pretty sad that there is no more challenge left and that sucks the wind out of my sails.  Funny since I expected Day 30 to be the day to end all days where I would stand atop the mountain of my achievement and look out with puffed chest congratulating myself for daring the impossible.

I’m sure that I have the blues.  Now that there is no challenge each day, what will I do with myself?  Haha!  Anything and everything. The interesting thing about challenges is that they beget challenges–a sort of challenge-addiction.  Tomorrow or later this week, I’ll ruminate about lessons learned.  In the meantime, let’s get on with our last challenge!

Today’s challenge: Take stock of the last 30 days.  How did you do?  What did you do well?  What did you not do well?  What would you like to continue to work on?  How did it go?  What did you learn?
I’ll be sorting through the lessons learned on this journey for days to come but in the meantime, here are the stats of what I attempted this month:

My closest friends can attest to the wonderful peace I gained in these 30 days as well as the struggle it was to complete these last few days.  I know I couldn’t have done it without them or you.  I also know that I’m not quite done yet.

While I was able to challenge myself to different things each day, I haven’t gained mastery over anything new.  I have an experience of what it is like to live a revolutionary life but I still have work to do.  Each day of these 30 days of challenges revealed so much about myself to me.

The greatest revelation is that this month was a buffet of challenges for me to choose from and work on extensively in the near future.  All the challenges have been interrelated.  They are all pulling for the same transformed, galvanized life.  The next step for me is mastery.

Gratitude: I am grateful for that I could complete this month of challenges when I’ve done nothing like this ever before

On the horizon: More results, lessons and mastery…the journey – to be continued.

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Challenge Day 29: Dare to Want

One more day to go and suddenly I am incredibly exhausted.  I’d rather nap than blog.  The only thing that keeps me going is my promise.  Good thing I made one, otherwise I wouldn’t have continued.  Thank you for the strength you give me by reading and witnessing my journey.

The last few moments before the end of a grueling marathon can be the worst.  It is in those moments that your mind, body, being resolve whether to finish or to curl up in a ball right there.  The next challenge is important for me to keep going.  Come run with me.

Today’s challenge: Dare to want…wantonly.  Allow yourself to want for no reason.  Want things you’ve never wanted before.  Want until you want no more.  Write it all down.  Change your mind if you need to.  Keep going until you see what you say you want and match that to what you really want.  Write that list about ideal mate that you’ve resisted writing for years.  Go ahead, write it.  Want him and everything.  Go!

Wanting is such a odd thing.  Most of us don’t allow ourselves to want things fearing that wanting things that don’t manifest may kill us or be close to dying.  We treat our wants as if we will never have them and work to push them away.  In turn, we end up yearning those things that we deny.

We suffer when we live as if wanting is a reminder of our inadequacy.  We are stuck believing that we’re not enough to deserve or earn our wants.  What if wanting was a normal part of your day as simple and constant as brushing your teeth?  What if wanting was a tool that you use to design your life?  Today’s challenge is my opportunity to dream to the point of incredulousness, dance into the impossible and shed suffering.  So I will be writing that list and collaging my vision of heart-thumping future.  What have you not dared to want?

Today’s victory: I spent a wonderful weekend failing and winning at most of my challenges.  When I missed the challenge mark, I made sure I went back and hit it dead on.  That looked like heated discussions, impasses and, finally, peaceful resolution.  I’m glad I have these tools working actively in my life.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the incredible community that surrounds, supports and fuels my dreams.

On the horizon: The scoreboard

Challenge Day 27: Lose Wait & Late

This next challenge is one I put off as long as I absolutely could.  In fact, I cheated to make sure it was one of the last challenges I did this month!  Rather than avoiding it any more to the point of further egregiousness, I’m biting the bullet and going for it for these next few days.

Today’s challenge: Give up procrastination and lateness.  For the rest of the month, do not live as if there’s tomorrow or that you have a right or an out that makes it ok to be late.  Lose wait.  Lose late. Go!

Oh, that time thing is one of my biggest issues and it’s closely bound to my procrastination.  Since this challenge is incredibly difficult for me, I had mercy on myself and am practicing it for a few days as a start.  I will challenge myself to 21 days straight of no procrastination or lateness in the next few months.  In the meantime, baby steps.

To come to terms with how detrimental procrastination and lateness have been in my life, I turn to a trusty passage:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

~Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5

There’s but so much time in this life.  There is no tomorrow.  It’s gone in a blink.  Why wait?

As for being late, it’s my m.o. all over the place…except for movies.  I am fanatically early for movies–at least an hour or 45 minutes early to shows.  I am committed to getting great seats, no stress finding seating and an overall enjoyable experience at the movies for which I am never, ever late.  Ever.  Odd for a person who is pretty much late for everything else.  I will attempt to apply such dedication to the rest of my life.

Being late, while it may seem innocuous to me since I really intend no harm, chips away at friendships and networks, constantly disappointing and creating mediocre expectations and strained acceptance of “that’s how she is”.

For the next few days, I will honor my friends, networks, commitments and myself by practicing a new-found awareness of and respect for time.  So no more 11th hour blogging and other transgressions…I need all the support I can get so my friends, countrymen/women lend me your encouragement.  It’ll take all that and then some for me to be successful.  My stomach flips at the thought but I’m ready to dive!

Today’s victory: Today’s victory was very simple.  I kept a promise that involved time, my usual nemesis.  Every time I meet the demands of time and promises without avoidance, it’s a huge win.

Gratitude: I am grateful for how much more free I become with each day.  Every day I grow.  I know that every new day presents a new opportunity for breakthrough.  For that I am utterly grateful.

On the horizon: Doing what comes naturally

Challenge Day 26: Have Compassion

I’m in the last stretch of this challenging month of challenges.  Right here I could kick back and say I’ve done quite a bit so I’ll slow down.  Since I’m playing to see something different this month, I won’t do that.  I’ve done that in the past.  Not now.  While I’m pushing, though, I have to remember to do what the next challenge requests I do for myself and others.

Today’s challenge: Practice utter compassion for others every chance you get.  Particularly in difficult, intractable situations and especially for yourself.  Pour compassion into everything you do.

A few weeks ago, Martha Beck tweeted about compassion:

Compassion is such a slick, selective thing.  I can be compassionate with people I like or feel a need to protect.  No problem.  People who I feel threatened by do not get compassion bestowed.  Thus far, I’ve been giving up being right and working on other methods to improve my communication with others.  This challenge asks me to go further and really care for others in the most difficult situations–to care about what I think they might care about.  Faced with compassion, enemy boundaries melt.  I explore this with trepidation but I am very sure that the composition of my heart will change with this application of compassion even in the toughest situations.

Then I’m to go even deeper the compassion game and give it to the last person I ever give it to: myself.  I’m a hard driver of self.  I work hard.  I go hard.  Relentless.  What would being compassionate look like for me?  I’m not sure but I know that it will make a huge difference and I’m willing to explore it.

Today’s victory: I was very kind to myself and gave gifts to myself that I would reserve for giving to others.  Exquisite self-care in action!

Gratitude: I am grateful for adventures awaiting my spark.

On the horizon: Something regularly avoided

24 S Bank St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Challenge Day 25: For-Give

It would be very obvious to post today about giving thanks since it is Thanksgiving after all–Happy Thanksgiving, by the way.   But I’ve been giving thanks all month and that would not be a challenge for me.   Instead, today is about another type of giving.

Today’s challenge: Practice forgiving. Wherever you can let someone or something off the hook.  Even better, let yourself off the hook and see where that leaves you.

Forgiveness is an interesting concept.  Many people feel that forgiveness is something that you give to others and often withhold it to punish others for transgressions.  Consider that forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself.

Punishing others is like taking poison & hoping someone else will die.  When you forgive, you release yourself from prison.  You don’t have to keep living in the transgression or the reaction to it.

This a practice that I have to concentrate on since, unchecked, I can hold a grudge.  Forever.  I have to remind myself of what life was like without the burden of upset.  To keep up this practice, I’ll have to literally keep my eye on the prize, constantly reminding myself of the life I want to live and what I have to shed to live it.  I’ll do what it takes.

Today’s victory: I spent time with a friend who I’ve had a tough time forgiving and I began to let go and was gracious with her.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the open hearts, home, family, food and welcome I experience this Thanksgiving Day.

On the horizon: Flowing

Challenge Day 24: Let It Go

A new day brings a new challenge.  Now that the Four Agreements are out of the way, I’m left with a week’s worth of challenges to dream up.  I dedicate the next seven challenges to things that I find the most difficult.  Today’s is something I have to keep practicing because it just never sticks.

Today’s challenge: Let things go.  Practice letting go as often as you can.  Let go of people, things, grudges, disappointments.  You name it.  Let it go.  Become a master of unburdening yourself.

Letting go is beyond difficult for me.  I tend to hoard memories and things.  I hold onto data, ideas and what we did last week.  I never forget how you hurt me or how you misunderstood me.  Even my home holds things I refuse to let go.  My favorite poem highlights how letting go feels like losing:

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Letting go can feel like dying–if we really know how that feels.  It’s a trick that the familiar plays so that you can continue on the same path.  Notice that when you let go, the bottom does NOT fall out of the world.  If fact the world opens up even more for you.

I can hold onto things that hurt me and keep me from moving forward or I can take a risk to see what will show up once I clear out the space.  For the next few days, I’m going to practice shedding thoughts and things, especially the unnecessary.  I’ll take it even further by letting go of the things I hold onto that seem crucial yet haven’t been useful.  I’ll get rid of those items so that I will room for something new.

So it is with heavy heart that I let go of that one that I want to love me so much that my memories overshadow the present.  I’m letting go of the past to make room for an unrecognizable future.  I will do this every chance I get for the rest of this month.  I wonder what I’ll do with all the space I create.

Today’s victory: I literally let go of something today and I feel great!

Before

 

After

I let go of a whole lot of hair today (If only you could see the front!) Chopped!  I feel like a new woman.  Letting go can sometimes be fun.  Who knew? Let the games begin!

Gratitude: I am grateful for the delicious that always finds me.

On the horizon: Lightening my heart

Challenge Day 22: Don’t Assume

Wow, one more week and November and my month of challenges will be over.  That went by faster than I imagined.  I wonder if I’ve done all my challenges justice.  We’ll see on the 30th!

Today’s challenge addresses a source of absolute torture for me.  I’m someone who often feels compelled to “know” everything, anything.  In instances where I just can’t “know”, I make it up–based on some great logic–but made up nonetheless.  The third of the Four Agreements is right on time.

Today’s challenge: Take on the third of the Four Agreements.  Don’t make assumptions.  Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Ever notice how some people always assume you think the worst of them?  If given two possible explanations as to why you did something, they would surely choose the least favorable one?

Consider that you can be just like that person.  In fact, you might be that person doing that to everyone and everything in your life.  It’s pretty eerie to me how many times I assume the worst of things, people and life.

This challenge pulls for me to do more than rest on my assumptions.  Instead I am charged to get explicit information about what’s really what by asking questions.

Asking questions is the very last thing I want to do, especially with people or situations where I feel prone to harm.  Yet it’s those answers that will most likely make me feel safe.    It’s funny how often I/we choose to not ask questions in order to be polite but all we do is replace those missed explanations with the most impolite, unkind theories.

So, I will work on the mastery of asking questions that make my stomach flip–questions tied to truths I’d rather avoid than address.  I’m showing assumptions the door and I’m welcoming transparency and peace.

Today’s victory: There have been so many that I haven’t shared this month.  Like the times I make sure that I take care of myself thoroughly and primarily each day.  Or the experiment that I have become in communication and relationships and all the rewards I reap from sticking to my commitments.

The highlight of today’s victories was overcoming taking things personal–the second agreement in action.  I have a very good friend who’s taking her sweet time to check out this blog even as I update her about it.   I suggested she get to it sooner than later since I add a new one each day and there’ll be thirty hearty entries before she knows it.

I tried to explain why it was important for her to read it as it was happening rather than months from now because I wanted her support and wanted to share it with her.   For her, it was fine that she’d get to it when she got to it.

I had to step back from the place of “Ugh, what kind of friend are you” again and again in that conversation.   I let her be and finally had to accept that, after explaining and requesting that she read it before the end of the month, that her answer was noncommittal if not bordering on a “no” and that it had nothing to do with me!  Ugh! Haha! Everything is not about me–at least not to peeople who aren’t me and it’s ok!  My friendship goes on and maybe one day she’ll read this.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the boundless energy I dip into every day to do what I do.  It never fails me.

On the horizon: Being ok with where and how I am