Feedback puts you (back) on track

My partner and I have been building a new client site, and after the first 10 hours of work, we had some of our members look at it. They were totally confused about what it was.

Yikes!

THANK. GOD. for feedback! I would’ve kept going with my design trajectory, and the deeper I would’ve gone, the more attached I would have gotten, and the more catastrophic the results would have been. Rather than beating myself up or saying “maybe I can’t do this,” I stepped back for several days, self-soothed my bruised ego, let the feedback sink in, asked more questions, got solid in identifying where I had to get out of my own head, shifted, and redesigned the site. After a few more key notes from clients – also life saving – the “final” output that we are currently rolling out is getting sweet, delicious feedback.

One evening, a week ago, I got lost in a dialogue inside of a private Facebook group.
In this long thread, two woman shared some things. You could tell they meant them from the heart… yet they were so blinded by privilege, it really hurt to read. The cringe factor was awkwardly high.
What ensued was some serious schooling by other women that evening. It was difficult to witness because the two women got very defensive. I knew quite a few of these women, so I was drawn in. Their voices projected a mixture of disbelief, anger, clarity, firmness, accountability, and tough love. No one attacked their be-ing. I take it back. One woman did towards the end, probably out of sheer frustration. I don’t know if the two women were able to take the feedback as a wake up call to do some reading and inquiry after that night. I understand that it would be difficult to be open at the moment (clearly they were blind-sided), but the next day, or the day after that, hopefully the defensive posturing melted and they became open to looking at what everyone else was trying to say.

I’ve gotten plenty of feedback on my gender pronoun confusion by my daughter. I make mistakes all the time, and sometimes I want to defend myself, but I don’t. No reason to explain why I can’t get it right…that’s really not the point, and I know that. Though as I write this, what hit me is that I can commit harder. I only hadn’t because… wait for it… “it doesn’t affect me.” Shit. (That sentence was hard to type out, and I have a strong urge to delete it.)
My daughter, when she corrects me, isn’t sweet about it, nor is she hateful or judging. She doesn’t excuse me or tell me it’s okay. She comes at me with an assumption that I’m not fragile, and that I’m open and can be held accountable. She uses the right amount of firm (which is “very”), she’s succinct, and she’s totally unapologetic about it. She wakes me up, makes me pay attention, and want to do better the next time.

Random -not so random- thoughts for today.

I’m having difficulty knowing what to write these days. Day in and day out, I focus on two things: (1) moving our Urban Yoga community over to a new platform to deliver what we offered through our studio directly to your screen, and (2) educating myself in Black Lives Matter. The latter is heavily influencing the foundation and relevance of the former. What we’re in for right now is a total spiritual reckoning. I’m feeling as awkward as the next privileged person right now, but I feel a responsibility, so this is me working things out, trying to understand the dissonance.

  1. We all start out in life believing what we’re first taught. Why wouldn’t we? We were born loving, and we believe those around us… even when they say abusive things. We lay our foundation on our initial exposure. Shifting our beliefs away from it threatens our identities, even when we’re dying for a new one. We lack the strength to disagree with those we spend the most time with because we need to belong, and we want the approval. Our beliefs only start shifting when conventional wisdom shifts (when it’s safe), or when our personal experiences challenge them, and we are lucky enough to find courage.
  2. We learned edited versions of history that benefit the “winners” at the expense of everyone else. This happens not just in American history, but in all other areas of capitalism, like pharmaceuticals and what ends up on the USDA food pyramid.
  3. No matter what side we’re on, we believe that WE are coming from love and the other side is coming from hate or ignorance. I refer only to the general public. I’m not speaking about those that created certain policies (that make up the New Jim Crow laws, for instance).
  4. We’ve had enough privilege to appreciate the things that seem to be serving us… up until recently, like the police. We’ve easily accepted that the POC experience stems from bad behavior and choices instead of oppression deep and systemic that continues to this day. Why? Because that’s what’s been explained to us is happening. And, it averts responsibility. Makes it easy to go about your day.
  5. In order to see something different, we need to turn to new sources.
  6. When our beliefs are challenged, we get defensive. We feel threatened, as if this new information will make us complicit or take something real away from us. That’s an incredible belief.
  7. Brene Brown’s personal mantra is “I’m here to get it right, not be right.” We could all benefit from adopting this mantra. I’ve taken this on as my #mantraforlife. We serve each other by engaging in open discourse. Not to get it perfect, but to ask questions and learn; to call out and to call in. When we stay on the defensive, when we make it about being right (and the other person wrong), we end dialogue and, in actuality, we end relationship.
  8. We say we value education. This is how we embrace it. Education is our lifeline out of the ignorance that causes us to make harmful choices. Education is what allows for sustainable action. And, it’s a lifelong process that we need to begin today. This is true whether we’re talking about Black Lives Matter or what’s happening in our own personal relationships.

Regenerate and rock your work

Get fresh air. Play. Find laughter. Serve the people around you. Get in touch with your sadness and let your tears flow. Let things go, you’ll be okay. Know why you’re letting things in. Stay hydrated. Find your humanity.

At the end of her podcast called Unlocking Us, Brene Brown asks every guest a number of personal rapid fire questions. One of them is, what do people get wrong about you?
Often, the answer is something like, that I’m serious and angry...I’m really not; I have a great sense of humor, in fact.

There’s work to do to make this world good for everyone and everything. You can do it like Trevor Noah, or you can do it like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Just because we see people advancing humanity through their serious work, calling in, shedding light on injustice, and shaking reality, doesn’t mean that they’re serious and angry. It’s just that it’s an appropriate moment to be serious (unless you’re a comedian). Calling them angry is a distraction.

All that said, play, laughter, tears, fresh air, personal space, and service to others is your regenerator. It’s what allows you to get serious, to harness anger for good, and to find your true vitality, your potency, your humanity. I imagine that there’s a good dose of that in the personal lives of her guests.

What if…

…we focus on learning rather than teaching?
…we could act as stewards rather than bosses and masters of our children, fellow humans, the animals, and the Earth?
…we could watch others blossom without wondering how they will impact us?
…we could mind our beeswax and take our own risks to express who we are rather than expect others to express how we want them to?
…we could be there at the ready just in case they fall and cry, love them for taking the shot, and encourage them to try again instead of being so afraid for them and ourselves that we encourage them to shrink just enough to keep them contained for our convenience?
…we could understand that we don’t understand the entire context from which someone else responds and behaves, especially those closest to us?

Like a seed, you just will.

When you crack open a seed, there’s nothing. Yet in that nothing lies all the intelligence coded into it to grow the most magnificent tree or fruit. Each seed knows what it is.

We, too, are encoded with all the intelligence needed to grow into our magnificence. We can tap into it by going into that silence, that nothing-ness similar to what we find when we crack open a seed.

Therein lies the coding of the entire universe conspiring to make things good through you. There are no accidents. You were meant to be here, and to be the brilliance that you are.

So when you are feeling in a dark, dark place, buried by all the heavy dirt that is the noise of life, know that life is waiting for you to emerge from that seed and provide the oxygen that is you that the world needs to survive. All you need to do is to embrace the soil into which you’ve been buried and seeded, take moments to tap into that silent space, into your seed, and listen. You won’t even need to figure out how to emerge. You just will.

We create networks when we have kids. But what about one for our inner children?

When we start having kids, we start making efforts to reach out and get together with other new parents. Going from no kids to having kids, depending on our personality, this can feel like a lot of work, but we all do it because we need the support. It gets easier, and we start scheduling playdates and share babysitting duties without a second thought. It becomes a part of our operating system. We know it’s worth the effort.

But what about for your inner child? Where is your network of support? You know this isn’t luxury because your inner child runs the show more than you’d like to give credit, and it’s making your days crazy. It keeps you small and afraid. It shuts you down. You feel alone.

Globally, we are under a lot of stress and heart-break. Our anger is tearing us apart. Both social and conventional media tap into our fears. They make us good consumers and addicts. They divide and distract us from feeling connected and keep us from coming together at a deeper level. They keep us needy for validation, but we won’t validate each other.

This is where a spiritual community comes in. By that, I mean a group of people that work to connect at the soul level, introspect, be vulnerable, heal (everyone has healing work to do; not everyone knows it), find an elevated sense of connection with the world, and work on themselves to change the world around them.

We need support, and it’s worth the effort. It’s worth the effort to plug in to where we can remember that we’re not alone; where we uplift rather than compete with each other. Where we remember that we’re more than okay. Where we develop tools to both self-soothe and be of service to one another. Where we find purpose, strength, courage, and support to move through and conquer life. Together.

My feelings guide me.

My tears show me what I long for, what I’ve lost, and what I’ve gained.
My anger reveals my values that, harnessed, will change the world.
My fears tell me what’s holding me back, where I play safe, what I need to unleash.
My shame implores me to let go of external judgments, to not agree to them, I don’t need to suffer. They reflect the judger, not me.
My blame tells me to take back my power, not give it away.
My love shows me I’m unlimited, and I’m ripe with infinite potential.
My joy affirms my pure presence.

How to get free.

You’ve heard the saying, with freedom comes responsibility. So true. But how do you get free?

Vulnerability.

We hear this word a lot these days, and it’s because we need to hear it again and again right now. It’s imperative.

In order to work for the freedom of every human, we need to own our freedom. We need to get vulnerable first. To get uncomfortable. To crack open. To understand it’s a necessary thing to be here to make real change. We need to get free.
In order to unleash ourselves from our own bondage, we need to take these risks. But we’re afraid to fail and look stupid. We’re afraid to be judged. We feel safer to be slaves of facade.

The more I try to tuck away my “shortcomings” (my stupidity) and only show my shiny side, the more suppressed I feel… and the duller I become. I may not show my stupid, but I certainly feel stupid.
The moment I own myself and show my stupid card, I feel free. Free to be me, to make mistakes, and to try anything. I move forward and move others with me.

It’s worth figuring out what it means to find balance.

Balance is a funny word. I’ve often heard it used in context with people trying to hold me back from doing the things I care so much about. Yet, at the same time, as someone who has done so much healing work, I know how important balance is.

It’s not so much that balance is a funny word as language is a funny tool. We filter words differently in our conversations with others, and for different intentions. I’m sure I’ve used balance as a reason to not take the risks that I need to take, for instance, because it’s uncomfortable. I’ve let others (and myself!) use that word to talk me out of a momentum I’m riding.

At the end, we know when to pull away and tend to something else for balance, or when to stay and get lost in what we’re doing (those are some of the most transformative moments). But in order to find lasting joy, we want fulfillment in both our work and in our relationships (both the lover and friendships– don’t drop your friends). We want space for our hobbies. If you don’t know what they are, you probably haven’t given yourself that kind of space in a very long time. And we need daily practices for maintaining good mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. In one of those categories lies social service/ social justice work. Because our personal health, abundance, connection, purpose, and well-being doesn’t happen in isolation. We impact each other more than we know.

When we camp out in one area for too long without watering the others, we’ll feel out of balance, even in the area(s) that we’ve been camping. How your balance portions out from day to day will be as unique as your fingerprint, and only you will know when those portions need to change. Portion control isn’t exclusive to eating. Just like it, though, it assists in good digestion.

It’s worth figuring out. It’s mostly not worth explaining to others.

Why are you doing that? What else could give that to you?

What makes breaking bad habits so difficult is the void that it creates. For instance, I want to stop looking at my phone, but then what?
It’s not like I don’t have a gazillion other things to do. What makes it a bad habit for me is that I think I’m going to jump on for a second, but then I’m on it longer than I should be. I know that because afterwards, I feel like I just ate a lot of junk food for the soul, and I wish I could get that time back. Sometimes that time is 45 minutes, and sometimes it’s 10. But I know when it’s time wasted.
When I get on this cycle of being out of control with my phone, I catch myself flipping my screen open, then wondering why. There was absolutely no purpose.

It’s a stimulant. It gives me instant gratification a small percentage of the time. Mostly, it drains me of energy, I feel less fulfilled, more needy, and more externally oriented.
Still, it comes from a need to find joy through connection. And also a desire not to get involved in anything on my to-do list for a moment.

I identified a bad habit, how it affects me, and what I’m actually seeking.
I looked for other things that would fulfill my desire to find joy through connection while staying off my to-do list. It wouldn’t work for me to just say, go back to my to-do list. The point is, I’m wanting something off my to-do list.

What’s working for me: to call someone that isn’t prone to gossip or putting everything down, to read a book (I have a pile of them that I’ve been wanting to read, and books make me feel connected), or to do something for someone.

We tend to replace a bad habit with another bad habit. That’s because we don’t have a plan for that moment when we feel void.
Without identifying the better replacements, I’d probably just go from phone abuse to a new 9 season Netflix series with 50 minute long episodes. Or chocolate.