Just Do It

GUEST POST ALERT: Please welcome Marquita Hamilton again to the Thriving Thursday blog.

Just do it.

It’s a cliché now that it’s been adopted by a popular sneaker brand.  But the truth is, it’s also a directive that can be adopted whether we have the expensive shoes or not.  

I have a talent for outthinking myself.  

I will get an idea or set a goal, make a list of what to do to bring it to fruition, then almost immediately begin a second list of reasons why it’s better to wait or foolish to try at all.  Eventually, I’ve thought myself out of taking the first step.  

I’ve done that with lots of things… going to the market, enrolling in a class or workshop, taking a trip, and even writing.  Since I’ve been going to therapy, I’ve learned that I generally do this when there’s some fear or anxiety attached to the task… well, not the supermarket; that one I just hate doing.  But the other stuff, definitely.  

I’ve learned a few tricks to help interrupt that process.  They’re not always successful, but I’ve found myself being able to follow through with first and subsequent steps more often.  Just in case you have moments when you have the same “don’t just do it” tendency, I thought I’d share them with you. 

1. Identify the reason for fear or anxiety.

Are you afraid of not being successful in your endeavor?  Are you anxious about the reception of your efforts or work?  Are you worried that you may have to give something up to begin or gain something new?  Those are all very real concerns, and worthy of consideration when beginning something new or making a life change.  But give equal time considering the alternatives: What if you are successful? What if your work / efforts are well received?  What if what you gain is greater more rewarding than what you’re leaving behind. Don’t allow yourself to quit before beginning without giving equal time to imagining a positive outcome.  

2. Take a defined break.  

Don’t just put off thinking or planning for a “generalized later” time period.  Make an appointment with yourself within a few days or week, that you refuse to break.  Agree with yourself that you will keep that appointment to keep planning and come to it armed with a first step that can be completed that day.  

3. Invite someone else into the process.  

This can accomplish two things: one is to have someone else get jazzed about your idea!  A friend or mentor that will congratulate you on your idea or goal and encourage you to complete it is invaluable.  Their confidence in you will help built your confidence. The other thing that this accomplishes is having someone to whom you can be accountable.  I know, I know… you’re a grown up and don’t have to answer to anyone. But maybe you’re like me… maybe you don’t like disappointing folks or having someone think you’re not going to keep your word or follow through.  Having someone else challenge you to stay the course beyond your comfort zone is a good thing. A word of caution: this same person who challenges you should also be someone who won’t damn you for needing a break, or being nervous or anxious.   

4. Just Do It!  

I mean… you’re scared or nervous, so what.  You’ve reached the end of the break period. Your cheerleader’s on vacation or you couldn’t find one… just do it.  You at least owe yourself a try! If you’re not successful, rather than viewing your attempt as a failure consider it to be information.  You learned what NOT to do next time! Then, try again. You know the adage that idea comes from, so I’m not going to say it.  

Just do it!  

There are always a million reasons to not change, to not do something different, to not try that new great idea.  But there’s one reason to do it that beats them all: That idea… that thing you wanna do? … you were made to do it.  There is no one more uniquely qualified to give your spark to that new venture that will set the world afire!

Do You Ever Have Trouble Figuring Out What You Want? Let's Revisit

Do You Ever Have Trouble Figuring Out What You Want? Let's Revisit

Generous Listening

A conversation can be a contest,
or a game of catch with invisible balloons.
They bounce between us, growing and shrinking,
sometimes floating like cloud medicine balls,
and sometimes bowling at us like round anvils.
You toss a phrase and understanding blooms
like an anemone of colored lights.
My mind fireworks with unasked questions.
Who is this miracle speaking to me?
And who is this miracle listening?
What amazingness are we creating?
Out of gray matter a star spark of thought
leaps between synapses into the air,
and pours through gray matter, into my heart:
how can I not listen generously?

Marilyn Nelson

On Being Gathering, 2018

Greetings everyone! We thought the following blog from 2 years ago was worth a repeat.


It’s funny, isn’t it? How hard it can be for some of us to figure out what we want?

I find this to be an especially common problem for dedicated moms and educators. Why?  Because we’ve been taught that being UN-selfish is what makes us so amazing.

 

WANTING SOMETHING JUST FOR OURSELVES (OR GOD FORBID ACTUALLY SEEKING TO GET IT!) CAN SEEM SELFISH.  SO WE GET OUT OF PRACTICE EVEN KNOWING WHAT WE WANT.


Another contributing factor in our culture is that we’re taught to spend most of our time in our head. Emotions are viewed as suspect. Intuition is not to be trusted and the body is viewed primarily as a necessary container for living. None of above are seen as dependable sources of wisdom. (And I might add that this perspective leans a bit towards favoring masculine ways of knowing as opposed to feminine, but I digress.)

There's science to back up the importance of these alternative ways of knowing. I'm learning more about it all, but what I can say for sure already is that my life is WAY better now that I listen to all the parts of me, not just my (very overactive) rational mind.

RATIONAL MINDS ARE GOOD, BUT THEY CAN’T MAKE GOOD DECISIONS WITHOUT ACCURATE INFORMATION.  AND THEY MISS A LOT.


Because our bodies and the right side of the brain take in way more information per second than the logical, linguistic left side of our brain, the “logical thought only” perspective leaves us missing out on a whole lot of information that can help us figure out what we want, which is one of the first steps in moving towards a life we’ll really love—a life with meaningful purpose and a whole lot of delight on the side. Learning how to listen to my body’s wisdom is one of the best skills I’ve learned in the past few years.

IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU WANT — OR JUST MAKING DECISIONS IN GENERAL — I HIGHLY RECOMMEND PRACTICING THIS NEW FORM OF LISTENING.


Step one to hearing your body’s wisdom is to notice what your body does when it likes something and what it does when it doesn’t. In the Martha Beck coach training they call this using the “body compass.”

The exercise below is a first step in being able to effectively use your body compass, so you can follow it’s directions toward a life you love (and when you love your life it always leads towards more love for others too. Really. We’re wired towards compassion.)

HERE’S HOW TO GET STARTED….

What Matters On Your To Do List?

What Matters On Your To Do List?

“When the tangle of the daily has us forget how precious life is,
we tend to keep what matters from what needs to be done.  Somewhere
in the press of our day, in the press of a conflict that we won’t let go of,
in the press of a fear that makes us forget the deeper order of things—suddenly there’s this shift and we make what matters a reward for getting to the end of trouble.  But trouble never ends.  It comes and goes like clouds.  That’s why what matters needs to come first.  It needs to be our constant companion.  For what matters is necessary in order to endure the weather of life.”

 Mark Nepo (p. 276. The One Life We’re Given”)


 
 
We tend to keep what matters from what needs to be done…
 
This line really grabbed me when I read it.
 
And, for me, what came to mind was moving my body.  Not as in “You SHOULD move your body, you lazy slug!”  or even “exercise is good for you!”  But more as an invitation, a kindness.  Nurturing my body’s ability to move, caring for it as a thank you for all it does for me, finding ways of moving that are, for me, enjoyable in and of themselves.
 
Then, as I pondered the question awhile longer—the question being “What is it that matters that I’m putting at the end of my to do list instead of at the beginning?”  I started thinking of many other joys that, if I really thought about it, are what really matters about life.

What is it that really matters in life, in your life, that you are relegating ONLY to the status of the reward you will get at the end of ALL of it?


  • Maybe it’s the joy of taking 45 mins to walk what could take 10 so your three-year-old can pick up every stick they see along the way to preschool.

  • Maybe it’s finding a way to connect with a horse or playing with your dogs.

  • Maybe it’s writing a letter – or an email – to someone you love.

  • Maybe it’s sipping your favorite tea.

  • Maybe it’s donating to the ACLU as a means of addressing concerns you have about justice – not as a “should” but because you really want to but keep thinking you’ll do it tomorrow.

  • Or maybe it’s pausing

  • Maybe it’s checking out that poetry group or the white anti-racists affinity group you’ve heard about but inviting a friend to go with you cuz you’re a little scared.

  • Maybe, like for me, there’s an invitation to you to show love to your body in some new way.

 
Really the options are endless.
 
Some of the items might be things that matter because they are just delightful – and for no other reason. Because that is part of what makes life precious, isn’t it? 

Have You Seen These (Too)?

Hello Thrivers, 
 
Just before I headed to France back in March, I made a decision.  I may have told you about it before – I can’t remember.  Anyway, I decided that I was done learning from other white life and business coaches who weren’t aware of and actively wrestling with the realities of structural racism.  In life-coachy and business-coachy world it’s pretty white-dominant (as is also the case in the mindfulness and self-compassion spaces, in yoga spaces, etc.)  And while I am grateful for the teachers I’ve learned from, the whole thriving and equity combo is born out of my wrestling with the both/and of needing to be able to offer myself compassion and to learn how to enjoy life more AND wanting to be part of liberation, healing and justice on a much broader scale.
 
And life coaches who weren’t noticing who they left out.  Who weren’t asking the question raised in a meme that was going around which essentially asks something along the lines of “Did you manifest that or was it your white privilege?”  Coaches who weren’t actively seeking to figure out how to integrate some of the really good stuff that’s in positive thinking, thought work, body work etc. — all the stuff I love about coaching/self-growth/spiritual practices/mind-body practices — with the for real suffering and actual evil that racist structures and stories and images continue to perpetuate (of course, there are other oppressive structures too, but for me it was especially racial awareness that I wanted to see at the center for any teacher I was learning from.)  If a coach wasn’t aware and preferably several steps ahead of me on that journey, I decided I needed to look elsewhere. 
 
I also, for years now, have avoided being in spaces, whether religious or activist, that are all about sacrificing yourself, your health, your desires etc. for ______ (fill in the blank.)  So I didn’t want to work with aware people who were all about sacrifice and suffering, ignoring feelings, desires and my body. 
 
The great news is that more and more there are these people who are working in the space of integrating self-awareness, self-care and more joy in life alongside taking real action for justice, liberation and equity.  I’m finding most of them are younger than me – a lot of 20-30-year-olds. I’m curious about why that is.  But in any case, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you this week so you can start surrounding yourself with perspectives that are both challenging and encouraging. 
 
This list is far from exhaustive—and I’d love for you to add your ideas—but if you’re longing, as I was to surround yourself with encouraging and challenging voices that will feed your spirit, and challenge and empower you as you seek joy, beauty and justice I imagine one or more of these will call out to you just a little bit.  Enjoy!
 
RomComs that are fun but not 100% white (oh my gosh these are hard to find.)  I love a good RomCom – and good Sitcoms— as a balance to my generally serious approach to life but talk about lack of diversity!  Oh my.  So, I’ve been thrilled to find a few new options…
 
New Netflix series “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and the movie Late Night (Thank you Mindy Kaling for both!)  Of course, also Crazy Rich Asians and Blackish.  Jane the Virgin is also worth checking out.
 
Some folx to follow on Instagram:
 
Katherine North – Katherine and I were good friends decades ago when we were both very different people with very different lives.  As a wife of a trans man, she talks more about LGBTQ issues, than about race, but she’s working with all of it and she’s one of my very favorite life coaches of all time.  I continue to learn lots from her – and she’s committed to beauty and bliss in the midst of the hard stuff.
 
Andrae Ranae – one of the women who held space for me (and others) in France at Your Leadership Recipe.  I’ve mentioned her before, and I’ll do it again.  She’s also got a new podcast going Called to Serve.
 
Rachel Cargle – Rachel is an activist, a feminist, a writer and an undergraduate(!) student at Columbia.  Her Unpacking White Feminism lecture took her all over the nation last year. 
 
Britt Hawthore (especially for educators) – She’s an anti-bias trainer who came highly recommended to me. 
 
Makenna Held – the leadership coach I’m working with right now, an email from her is the reason I ended up in France with only 2 weeks’ notice.
 
A couple favorite Podcasts – I’m always finding more of these (and hope to create my own someday.)  If you’ve been around you’ve probably seen me mention one or more of these before, but they bear repeating – cuz maybe you haven’t actually tried them out yet? 
 
On Being a NPR podcast lead by Krista Tippett who explores the concept of what it means to be, live, and interact in this world.
 
Healing Justice a ‘community of practice in collective healing and social change.’
 
Called to Serve I mentioned above this is Andrae Ranae’s new podcast.
 
SuperSoul Conversations Oprah’s picks of amazing guest interviews.
 
Books: 
Year of Yes is great combo of funny, memoir, easy-reading, self-help combined with not shying away from issues like racism and sexism and what it’s like to be an incredibly successful Black woman in TV-land who has struggled with anxiety and a general inclination to avoid actually engaging in life.
 
Braiding Sweetgrass I listened to this book on audible – read by the author.  It is beautifully written and gave me such an appreciation of the earth and of an Indigenous (Potawatomi) view of the world.  Now that I’m writing this, I may have to listen to it again!
 
The Invention of Wings Historical fiction, written beautifully by a white Southern woman.  It’s all that fiction should be and it brings to life the intersections of race, class and gender in the lives of its characters – to open doors and close them.  Oprah liked it too!
 

Kinky Gazpacho Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain author Lori Tharps was raised in a predominantly White suburbs of Wisconsin often times being the only person of color, she writes about finding herself though her travels in Spain.

 
Especially for parents:  A Mighty Girls website/list and Miriam Pescowitz’s new book Code Like a Girl
 
Embracerace.org. their mission is to support ‘caregivers to raise children who are brave, informed and thoughtful about race.’
 
Okay, so kinda random choices – I could add so many more and music and art, but I need to sleep and go to work and mostly like you do too.
 
Do you have more ideas to add to these lists?  I’d love to hear them hit reply if you got this in your inbox or email me at ___ or comment below (if you’re catching this on Facebook or Insta.)

 
P.S.  Oh my gosh if you’re in or near L.A. DO NOT MISS the Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983 exhibit at The Broad – phenomenal. 
 
Bonus! Need a business coach here are two who are incredibly successful and have built racially diverse teams and client bases. I’m dying to work with both, but for now I just follow them Rachel Rodgers and Pam Slim.

Guest Post! Trusting the (blech) Process

Guest Post!  Trusting the (blech) Process

Yay!  Marquita Hamilton is back with another beautifully written and encouraging post.  Missed her first one?  You can check it out here.

I don’t know about you, but personally, I hate processes.

At least as they relate to “getting my life together.”

I want whatever needs fixing to be immediately fixed as soon as I recognize it’s broken.  I honestly (though unrealistically) believe it should be fixed just because I decided it’s time for it to be fixed.

Isn’t that enough?

The truthful answer is, “no.”  It isn’t enough.  We are not allowed to be spectators in our healing and growth.  We must be active participants.  This is particularly true when we begin the process of healing from trauma.

Wouldn’t it be great if our minds and emotions worked just the same as our bodies?

When we are hurt physically our wonderful brain automatically and immediately begins the process of organizing the various cells, hormones, and chemical processes that are needed for our physical comfort and healing to begin.  When we have a scratch or cut, we don’t have to think about the blood stopping or a scab forming.  The torn flesh beneath is reformed, and the damage is repaired. Development, healing, or positive change are not autonomic processes; meaning, they don’t just happen.
 
I am really good at what I call “shrinking myself.”

I can sit in my head and figure out where the knots and “nots” are, I can figure out how and where I got off track.  I’m really good at identifying (after the fact, of course) what triggered a cycle or pattern of behavior.  I feel happy and proud of myself for being able to do that.  It makes me feel “smart” to be able to figure those things out.  But what I’ve learned recently is that I’m not so good at is the most important part:  the follow through.

I see the knot, but don’t take the action to untangle it.

I see the “not” and don’t do what’s necessary to make it an “is.”

I identify the trigger, but don’t set proper boundaries to avoid it in the future.

The term for that is “analysis paralysis”.  It is a helpful term introduced to me by a super smart sister friend.  It basically means I get stuck in thought mode and can’t move forward.

It’s easy there in thought land.

I don’t have to take any real actions because “I’m figuring it out.  I’m working it out.”  Isn’t that mature and responsible?

Maybe.  Maybe not.