It’s so easy to only think of oneself when you are on the job hunt. You’re in your own head all the time, cultivating new ways to explain yourself and your experience to yet another new perspective employer. One goes through the constant practice of selling oneself, boasting about your own brand and what you can bring to the table so you can find a way to survive.
You live in the land of ME. Sometimes, in order to find balance in this stress ‘in-between’ time, the best way of shaking off a case of the “me’s” is to give back.
With Thanksgiving coming up, and the rest of the year end holidays just around the corner, this is a time of gratitude and assessment of the world around you. The best way to give is to volunteer your time to an organization where you ideas and hands are in need. It could be a local soup kitchen, a hospital or community organization that cleans your local park, beach or zoo.
I’ve begun volunteering at Project Angel Food, a wonderful organization in Los Angeles. “Project Angel Food’ mission is to prepare and nourish the sick as they battle critical illness”. Kitchen staff prepare delicious food based on the client’s nutritional needs, and is delivered by staff and volunteers. Right now, I’ve started by beading bracelets sold online for donations. It’s a great place to be.
Perhaps it’s selfish of me to think that I’m doing something good and mention it on here, but really – it’s just a need to give back during a time in my life when it’s all about me.
And this post is to encourage you, whether you are gamefully employed or not – to reach out and help others as an offering of gratitude for all the wonderful things in your life. There are those out there worse off, believe me. It will ground you during this very scary time in our world.
“The waiting is the hardest part Every day you see one more card You take it on faith, you take it to the heart The waiting is the hardest part Oh, don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you Don’t let ’em kill you baby, don’t let ’em get to you I’ll be your breathin’ heart, I’ll be your cryin’ fool Don’t let this go to far, don’t let it get to you.”
Words and Lyrics by Tom Petty
Since Tom Petty passed away early last month, I’ve been listening to him and his words like never before. He had a spirit connected to a level of source that was wrapped up in leather, coddled in guitars and flowed through a weary, snarling voice that personified 20th century music.
Petty was my high school days. He was my early Los Angeles world (“Free Fallin'”). His music was always rollicking and rolling. Although his music with the Heartbreakers and the Traveling Wilburys was the soundtrack of my 80’s and 90’s, I never really HEARD his lyrics until the day he died.
Petty died on day one of a transitional period in my life. It was, and continues to be, an expansive, scary and amazing time of discovery, meetings with new people and some hard to ignore frustrations. With Petty’s untimely death making his music part of the zeitgeist, the words floated and landed with me at the most important time to hear them.
Especially the song, “The Waiting”. These past few weeks have been a test of patience. Waiting is hard, but part of applying one’s will toward the greater goal – the brass ring you know is coming if you just put in the work and let the powers that be take the wheel.
He was a sage. Just like Dylan or the Beatles – those touched by something that was beyond their comprehension. They opened the conduit to something other worldly. He translated the flow of a deep seed of knowledge we all find in the base of our soul. There were messages of survival and strength in the face of a cruel world. He opened the path and rendered words that would be understood by the human ear.
Songs like “Learning to Fly” and “I Won’t Back Down” have become anthems in my life at this particular time.
I take solace in “Learning to Fly” – how I’m starting out all alone on some dusty road, as the sun comes up day after day with new ways to find my wings.
And “I Won’t Back Down” is my mantra. This world will make you quake in your shoes, but I’m not gonna let it. I won’t give into fear. I will not give up my focus on success, and failure or rejection will not shake me for long.
I don’t mean to overstate this or make him out to be a god. He was only human, a man with a painful past that molded him into understanding the human condition so intensively, he could passively bring down some goodly wisdom from somewhere. Where that place is – we’ll never know until we’re no longer here.
I take a lot of spin classes, and one of the things many a spin instructor says while we’re in the throes of sweaty hell is this, “The more uncomfortable you are, the more you work through it, the more change you will see.”
As life toodles on and another year ends in my many decades on earth, I learn this little ditty on human perseverance more and more. There’s been a lot of pain that culminated in loss, health issues, job challenges and personal self improvement. But the one thing I can say is this – it’s temporary. As my beloved George the Beatle once said, “All Things Must Pass”. And they do. We plow through the pain. We lean into the fire and endure the flames until we come out on the other side singed and burned, but stronger. (Really? Stronger? Aren’t we bandaged and terribly sore? Bad metaphor. But you get the drift).
Today was a wee bit of a rough day. Uncertainty surrounded me, with so much hope for terrific opportunities dangled and just in reach. It’s the waiting that adds more fire to the flame. But one thing I know is this. I’m damn good at what I do, and anyone would be lucky to have me. It’s beyond a cliche statement, written with some self delusion or self help mumbo jumbo. It’s real. I know it. I have what it takes to be amazing in contributing my mind, experience and dedication to anything anyone throws my way. I’m passionate about this. Just watch me.
Meanwhile, I wait. Another day. Another day on deck, full of possibilities.
When I was eleven years old, I fell in love. I first laid eyes on him inside an album cover. He was photographed within a crowd of people who looked off into the distance, as if there was an accident, or some guy who “made the grade” and “blew his mind out in a car”. He had cheek bones for days, a perfect shag, symmetric feathered hair cut and held an inner beauty with an essence of humor. The man was gorgeous to me. His name was George Harrison.
It was my pre-adolescent crush on the spiritual Beatle George that introduced me to meditation. The stories about the Beatles’ visiting a giggly, wise, (and apparently very handsy) guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, fascinated me. Further obsession with Harrison introduced me to the story of Krishna. I’d read Rolling Stone, listen to Harrison interviews on the radio and on TV, marinate in the lyrics of his songs about finding inner peace and gaining a concept of how life “flows within you and without you”. All these bits of wild and wonderful wisdom have followed me, escaped me, and the returned during the most difficult and wonderful times of my life.
Too young to really understand how to meditate, I put it aside as a future tool I’d never realize I’d need. With maturity came understanding the technique of meditation and its value. When things get rough in this loud and crazy world – especially during a time of transition whether in your career, life, status or whatever is on your plate that’s stirring up the particles in your mind’s snow globe – the practice of meditation can help keep your mind balanced and on track to finding the peaceful room that lives inside you. It can also hone your intuition, allow you to make decisions with power, and provide a state of well being that will provide clarity while going out and accomplishing your goals.
The answers come when our mind is still. Live mindfully. That means, don’t give into fear. Don’t give into worry. Don’t believe in scarcity. Shutting off a few minutes a day to focus on the peace that lives inside you will autocorrect these feelings because we are not meant to feel this.
We are not running from wolves anymore. Our frontal lobe bullshit can only help us understand what we need to change and work on. But letting fear cloud our clarity toward success will only hold us back and manifest the very things we fear. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m like you. I’m constantly face to face with the fearful stuff life brings. The pitfalls come and the self doubt creeps in. Yet, I work hard, and encourage you, to transform fear into power. We are racing through life, family and career without thought or connection to our inner vibration. Time to slow down to help you tap into your gut feelings and live mindfully. It will help you and those around you be the best you are meant to be.
Here are some resources on meditation I’ve found helpful.
If you’re like me and prefer atmospheric, brain soothing spacey audio to help you flow, like high frequency tones and vibrational sounds that reboot the electrodes in your brain – search for “Binary Beats” on YouTube. Play with some videos and stick with the ones that make you feel good. Plug in for 10 minutes – at your desk or in a quite corner at home – and clear those mind clouds. (Don’t do this and drive.)
The one great challenge is to make yourself do this everyday, and to not fall into the well of despair by forgetting that quiet peace inside you.
Thoughts don’t matter. What lays beneath does. George opened that concept to me.
We’re two days past “Trick or Treats” and all the fun of Halloween, so talking about treating oneself might not be for those still trying to work off all those Snicker Fun Size bars they wolfed down over the past 48 hours.
(What are you looking at? So what if I’m buzzing on a foggy brained sugar high right now?)
But when life gets rough, the one thing we do is treat ourselves rough. When a bad diagnosis freezes you in your tracks, or you’re unemployed, or you’re now the caregiver to a loved one who is fading fast – the last thing we want to do is treat ourselves. We fall into a pit of poor eating, no exercise because all your energy is going toward those freaked out nerves coursing through your veins. That’s not cool, people. Not cool at all.
I’m not a guru on these things, but I will say – that I’ve known people who were caregivers to spouses with grave conditions. It consumed their lives to the point where when that loved one passed away – they weren’t far behind on shuffling off the mortal coil. Why? Because when they accompanied their partner to the doctor, they didn’t stop to ask about their own pesky cough or that weird spot on their arm. Things go undiagnosed or waited on because they aren’t focused on their own well being. Their priority is the ill loved one.
If you’re reading this and going through the ringer of life, please make sure you do the following. This is not rocket science, and I’m not saying anything different that what other people are saying a bajillion times on the internet, but since you’ve landed here – try this:
1) Breathe. Go to a quiet place and breathe.
2) Meditate. There are vast resources on the internet to get you started. It will ground you.
3) Eat well. Be careful with the food you chose. Treat yourself to a fancy juice. Drop the pizza and the pasta for a day. Know that you need your strength and well being.
4) Exercise. Start off walking. Breathe in the air. Take a yoga class. Try spin class – it will knock your ass on the floor and cleanse you. Or just do something that makes you move and sweat. Endorphins are your friends!
5) Reach out to friends and family. Ask for their help. If they don’t help, reach out to your community. Volunteer for a cause that means something to you. Meet new people. Get information on how to handle the difficulties you’re facing. If you have an EAP (Employee Assistant Program) group at your place of work – give them a call. Most companies have this service as a perk. There are counselors on call that can help you for free on anything – mental health, legal matters, financial planning, child & elder care. It’s pretty awesome.
And just know – that we are living a life full of nonsense and chaos with lessons galore. You are amazing and strong. Understand what’s bad in this world.
Be good to yourself and kind to the world, because sometimes the best treat of all is how you feel when you treat others the way you want to be treated.