When life knocks you flat…

It’s been a week. Short weeks always work out to be long in the end. I don’t know why or how, I only know it’s true. And this one has been no exception.

I knew it was a long shot. Usually I’m built to be positive. But this house offer…just didn’t feel right from the beginning. On Wednesday the buyers decided to walk away. It was disappointing. And it was a relief, oddly enough. I didn’t feel good about the offer, and the whole thing felt too rushed. Well, I may have time to regret that one if I sit with a house on Water Street for a long time to come. But when it’s right, it will be right…no forcing it. That’s never a good feeling.

So, in the spirit of cheering myself up and putting myself back on track I thought about the steps forward. What do I need to do to right myself? That’s the image I always see in my mind…my body upside down, somehow needing to find the way back up, back to hope, back to future.

It would be a lot easier if I wasn’t sitting surrounded by empty shelves and dreading unpacking a house I just rushed to pack.

When has my efficiency ever backfired so spectacularly?!

But there are silver linings. I got a free inspection and a free appraisal out of the process, thanks to the would-be buyers. And though the appraisal cost me the sale in the end, at least it helps to price more in line with the current market value. I tell myself things work out in the end. Isn’t that what you tell yourself when you’re disappointed?

I am disappointed, but there’s nowhere to go with that. The best cure for disappointment is action. And since I love the word “grace,” for all it’s meanings to my life, I created a little acronym to help me get going:

Grace

Happy weekend! I’ll be unpacking a bit, staging the house for future showings, and finding grace. And if you’re feeling in need of that gift, I hope you’ll find it too.

~ Sheila

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Word for 2014

The past couple of years I’ve been challenged to select a single word to set the tone for the year to come. So far I’ve chosen “revision” and “momentum.” This year I’m choosing “consistent.” I’m pretty good at beginning projects and making commitments, and I’m often even good at follow through. But not always. At times I get sidetracked and lose my focus. Some things (like blogs) need consistent attention and nurturing to succeed.

I also fall into the trap of taking care of commitments to others, while commitments to myself languish, unloved and un-nourished, sometimes for weeks at a stretch. That’s just the nature of life, to some degree. After all, work projects and tasks have finite timelines that impact others…I can’t set those obligations aside when I’m tired, or not in the mood, or distracted. Unfortunately, that happens all too often with my personal projects.

Mind you, success can be defined in many ways, and success can be as variable as reaching a definite goal, or just staying on task toward a goal; or keeping a regular time to pray or meditate or read; or finally marking a big to-do off your life list. Everyone can define success for themselves.

Closely connected to this year’s choice of “consistent” is recognizing: just because a project is personal, that doesn’t mean I should give myself a pass on meeting the goal, self-imposed though it be. In a very real way, when I make my personal goals take a backseat to other priorities, I’m giving myself less than what I give to others. Somehow I’ve created the false idea that work for others is more important than work I accomplish for myself. Well, sometimes that other work is more urgent. But personal goals shouldn’t be devalued because they’re personal. Particularly if goals are strategic, as in: moving your life in a new direction.

That sounds selfish, but I think it is another way of saying that I need to mind the important more than the urgent.

If you would like to join me in this approach, it’s simple! To choose your word and receive support and reminders to follow through with your goals, go to http://www.myoneword.org and sign up…free and easy! This is a different approach to the traditional new year’s resolution route. Instead of creating a list of goals, narrow your focus to one word.

What is most critical to your journey this year? Just the process of choosing a word can be revealing. I don’t always choose the first word that comes to mind, but I do consider what rises to the surface…what does my first impulse lead me to? It’s a good way to take stock, and to choose one direction rather than getting tangled up in an itemized list.

Surveys say that new year’s resolutions don’t last very long. Most people abandon their list by mid-January. Having one word to keep in mind is a minimal approach, but your word can encompass as many tasks as you choose throughout the year. It’s really just a different way to approach the same desire: to make the coming year better, to reach your potential, to find your best.

On this last week of 2013, I’m thoughtful. And I’m hopeful. And I’m challenged.

How about you?

Wise words

I am a seeker. I seek inspiration for my day, motivation for the work at hand, and wisdom to guide my steps. Sometimes I find these things in the actions and character of people. Often inspiration comes through words. These are some of the words that encourage me today:

Keep trying!

How I want to see myself as successful! I admit, the first illustration is what I expect. The second seems more realistic!           

Happy Saturday, and may you find wisdom, courage, and hope for the day!

(All images from Pinterest)

How does this help?

Several years ago I had a moment of ephipany. I was having a difference of opinion with someone and suddenly realized that what I was saying wasn’t helping us come to clarity or resolve the disagreement. I realized that my approach was not helping my cause. And suddenly the thought came to my mind, “How does this help?” If I had a goal, an outcome in mind that I wanted to reach, and my approach wasn’t bringing me to that outcome, how was it helping? It wasn’t.

That began a practice for me to filter my words and actions through that question. When I find myself in conflict with anyone and we don’t seem to be progressing toward resolution, I silently frame that question to myself. It helps me to step back, hear my words or see my actions through the other person’s ears and eyes. Obviously, if my persuavie argument isn’t working, it must not be so persuasive. How does that help?

I don’t mean that this approach should be from a manipulative perspective. If manipulation is the motivation, you may get what you want, but manipulation is always ultimately destructive and self-serving. No, this question should be framed from an unselfish and honest desire to seek the best resolution to conflict or difference of opinion. Only in that context can you truly seek the best for both sides.

Asking the question, “How does this help?” doesn’t guarantee that the problem will be resolved. Some conflicts don’t have resolutions that are positive for both sides. And no matter your approach, the other person may not be willing to put aside the conflict. But asking the question will help you honestly evaluate your words, your methods, your motivation. Asking the question is a filter that will help you seek other solutions, other persuasions, or perhaps, ultimately, change your own mind, see the other person’s point of view. And that can be an invaluable gift to both people.

It can be difficult to be honest about this, especially when your point of view seems like the only point of view possible. How can you step back, re-frame, look at a question from another perspective when you know you’re right? But that’s the point…the issue is not about being right or being more persuasive. When you’re trying to find resolution to differences, sometimes the solution is more about approach, method, and understanding. Sometimes it is about compassion, about empathy, rather than staking a claim to being right.

Sometimes I even come around to an opposite opinion from where I began if I have long enough to think before I rush to judgment. There are right and wrong absolutes in life. I believe that. There are some things that are never right, always wrong. But woven among the absolutes of life are many gray areas, and I recognize that more as I get older. When I was young, life was easy to define in absolute terms. But age, some wisdom, my own mistakes and missteps, and a lot of grace has taught me that things are not always what they seem at first glance. It was a long lesson to learn, but now it is ingrained in my thinking. It has become more natural to me to ask the question, and I am open to hearing the answer that comes from that honesty.

Try asking yourself, “how does this help?” The answer may surprise you.

Do you know “Flylady?”

I can already hear my family, and maybe even a few of my friends, begin to groan: not “Flylady” again! I first became acquainted with this site several years ago when I saw an article in a Denver paper profiling “Flylady” and her mission.

Let me explain: this is a site designed to help people who are challenged with self-organization in every way. If your home is cluttered, Flylady is for you! If you have difficulty getting your bills paid on time, Flylady is for you! If you are looking for exercise or encouragement to eat more healthy meals , Flylady is for you! This is a site that offers gentle and positive messages to people who need help overcoming self-defeating behaviors.

One of the nicest things about all of this encouragement is that it is free. There are various products that the site offers for sale, but there is no requirement to purchase to be an email subscriber. I don’t follow all the recommendations offered, but I have picked up some great ideas, and I love the positive attitudes of the people who host the site, as well as the enthusiastic subscriber comments. It’s a great virtual support group and members have the ability to be passive observers or as active as they choose.

Flylady is very family oriented and incorporates ideas for children as well as adults. The tools and suggestions work for everyone:  married, single, young, old, empty nester, or in the thick of child rearing.

One of my favorite phrases from the site is “Progress, not perfection.” There is an anti-perfection message at the heart of the Flylady system that emphasizes the crippling nature of that spirit. The goal is to recognize that doing your best is doing enough, to respect and value what is being accomplished rather than to focus on what may yet need to be done. This is the positive, hope-filled, and an empowering message of the site. Look beyond the graphics (a bit corny for my taste) and let me know what you think.