Setting A Clear Intention

An armadillo prepares for his northbound road trip

An armadillo prepares for his northbound road trip

Last weekend my husband, J, and I went off to Florida without the kids to help organize and pack up my grandmother’s home. Grandma passed away in July, but my family members are the proactive types so the place was already looking pretty clutter-free. Marie Kondo or her disciples had been there, and I started our visit grateful that we weren’t walking into a hoarding situation.

That said, there was still much to be done. We had to photograph everything, figure out what each family member wanted, pour over file and photo boxes, clear out the epic pantry (that was always stocked with Oreos, peanut butter, Dove chocolates and anything else that could make a grey day sugary sweet)—and most importantly make the tough decisions about the armadillo, the elephants, the hippos and the porcelain seal pup (who is still up for grabs if there are any seal pup fanatics out there).

J and I formulated a plan of attack (and as my sister pointed out—that’s one of our favorite activities!), but before we got started in tactical mode, I took some time to reflect over my morning coffee. I set a clear intention for the trip. Being home now a few days, I’m certain this is why I feel so good about our work and what we accomplished.

My intention: be a partner, a helper, a facilitator, bring the wit and be the person to truly be there for my aunt and uncle who took the lead in my grandma’s care for so long. I wanted to relieve the pressure. Clear the path. Create healing space for our entire family.

As we moved through the weekend and I questioned a decision or our next move, I used my intention as my filter. What would my next step be if I were a partner, a helper, a facilitator or brought the wit to this situation? My intention enabled me to move through whatever was holding me back in that moment. Sometimes the solution was to spend that extra time taking photos out of frames so that dozens of extra boxes did not turn up at a family member’s door. And sometimes it was perfectly placing the armadillo in a spot that would be met with surprise (maybe even shock and horror) upon receipt. Whatever it was—I felt I had a compass guiding me through a difficult task, that my north was a destination of pride at all we could do in a few days and our reward was hearing my aunt and uncle's laughter over dinner at my grandma’s favorite Jewish deli.

When I think about the weekend now, I smile remembering my sister and my aunts and uncles who will soon receive deliveries of 70 year old photos of my grandfather in uniform, the smart and love-sick letters he wrote to grandma dated one day apart, the Barbara Streisand anthology and of course the armadillo, stepping into the role of exclamation point for a plan well executed.

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The Healing Power of Quiet

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As a coach, a mom, a wife and a human being, I'm always striving for balance. That said, I have a not-so-secret love for getting things done. I love being productive, checking things off my list, doing things for my kids, my house, my family and my business. Doing three things at once. Using Google calendar to schedule the things I need to do. And if I’m not doing, I’m thinking, “What should I do next?”

For the first half of the summer, I felt like I was in the flow, getting a ton accomplished—and even making time to have fun with friends and family—and then I got the news that my  Grandmother passed away.

She was not the kind of Grandmother who shared treats and wisdom in the background of my world. She was the kind of Grandmother who moved in with her grieving 11 and 15-year-old grandchildren after their parents died. She moved into our house and in her late sixties attended Back to School Night and negotiated with the angry teenage version of me. She was the grandmother who let me into her bed at night no matter what happened between us that day.

So when she passed, time stopped. Feelings and memories filled the space of To Do lists and project plans.  I sifted through pictures, wrote a eulogy and talked to our Rabbi and friends for support. At the funeral, we all said what we needed to say and then spent the rest of the weekend being together. My 4 and 7-year-old girls unleashed their hugs and love for our entire family like a pair of therapy dogs at work. And man, were they good at their job!

Then everyone went home. Life went on as it should. The kids went back to camp, everyone else returned to work and I went back to doing. I launched my blog,  created new partnerships and planned my social media blitz. I did everything I wanted to do the week before, plus a month’s worth of work as a bonus. I was tired and stressed, but I felt a magnetic tug to my ever-growing list of tasks.

Finally, I had a moment of clarity and decided to drop into a yoga class. I hadn’t done yoga in over a year, but I loved the idea of moving my body while quieting my mind. Multi-tasking, sold!

Once I could get out of my head in class to stop focusing on doing everything right or my proximity to my neighbor, emotions came rushing to the surface. Tears fell from my eyes on and off through warrior and pigeon and tree poses. When we laid down for meditation, the music sent a lightning bolt through me. Our instructor asked us to “stay in the moment at the end of our breath.” I found that space and that quiet moment and it all came pouring out of me. Everything I covered up with doing. All the pain I numbed with meaningless tasks so I didn’t have to feel the loss.

While everyone in class meditated in their own moment, our teacher gently put her hands on my head and sat with me for mine.  She was with me. I was with it. I let it burn through my every cell, capture my breath and paralyze me.

After several minutes, we opened our eyes. I felt release, relief, calm. 

I was filled with a longing for more quiet space and a curiosity for what it brings into my life. More time to remember the people I've lost and to savor the people I love. Whether I practice walking away from the blog post for a day before I hit publish, pack lunches in the morning instead of at 10:30 pm or simply choose to do less, it's my job to create more quiet moments to renew and to be me.