When It Feels Like Nothing is Happening

I recently shared with you some of the lessons I learned from my experience having Lyme, particularly around being forced to recognize and respect my limits.

I wanted to share something else I learned that really surprised me and that I believe will be life-changing, if I can just remember.

I’m thrilled, but I am also a bit overwhelmed. As my capacity has increased, there is so much that I want to read, learn and write about. I just want to work more, to feel more useful again. 

I was incredibly lucky that I was able to continue to do my coaching work while I had the Lyme, though just not as much of it. Although I have had fewer clients, this felt like such a miracle. It felt so good to have confidence in that area of my life when so many other ones were so challenging. 

As I started to get better over the past year, I experienced grief over the life I didn’t get to live in the second half of my forties. I’d had an expectation that those would be really powerful years. Instead they felt like a dormant time, when I was treading water, not producing, creating, or moving forward. 

So it was a huge surprise to realize that I actually had been growing and moving forward.

But it was on the inside, and without me realizing it. I had thought I might be picking up where I left off before I got sick, but I find myself at a very different place. 

I am older, wiser, more confident. I like who I see in the mirror. I know what I know and hear myself speak with greater articulation and conviction. It seems that my coaching has gone up a level too.  I am absolutely loving the work and craving doing more. 

I have seen this process so many times with my clients, that when things aren’t happening on the outside, when things don’t seem to be moving forward, it almost always means that things are happening on the inside.

I know this to be true, but I hadn’t believed it was true for me here. It's a reminder that we don’t need to be conscious of this process for it to be happening. 

The frustration can come when we are not anticipating this part of the process, when we falsely believe that progress is measurable, linear and tangible. We check things off our to-do lists and feel accomplished. We hadn’t put this quieter time into our calendars, or life plans. Sometimes it’s a day, or a week, or as I have now discovered, it could even be years.

If only we could have faith and surrender to these crucible times. Trust that what needs to happen is happening. I know now more than ever that we are never standing still or falling backwards. 

We are growing, blossoming and becoming ever more ourselves – always. 

These seemingly dormant times are actually a critical time in our process of becoming. 

We are processing, integrating, synthesizing, and healing. But we are also preparing for the next stage, and yes, growing.

I encourage you to trust and go for the ride, and know that it will never follow a straight line. 

When things aren’t happening on the outside it means they’re happening on the inside. 

We are always on our path. 

Purple crocus snow

The Freedom of Saying No

So the year is underway. How’s it going? Are you focusing your time and energy on that which is most important to you now? 

There are so many things and people that pull on us or distract us, but if we have taken the time to decide what we want to be our focus, we’ll be better able to navigate the many decisions we’ll be faced with every day. 

“No” is a complete sentence. 

I learned this from a dear friend and am so grateful.  Historically, I have had a pretty hard time saying no to things – mostly requests from other people.  The angst I would go through to just say no to something that I knew I didn’t want to do, or couldn’t do, was nuts.  

I would wrap myself up in knots and come up with all the reasons I couldn’t do something – excuses or reality; it didn’t matter.  What I finally realized was that people really just wanted an answer and didn’t need all my explanations or guilt about it.  They weren’t feeling the charge around it that I was.  

So I started saying no more and without the drama and explanations. 

Few things have given me more of a sense of liberation. 

I became aware that by claiming no as an option, I was not only valuing myself and my time more, but I was also able to say yes more consciously and cleanly. 

As women, many of us have been brought up to be nice, accommodating, helpful, and polite. We learned these lessons well. We are dutiful and responsible. But sometimes we end up wrapping our identity, ego and sense of competence into being very helpful, maybe even indispensable, which can make saying no even harder. 

We have conditioned people that they can ask and depend on us to say yes. And this can make saying no even harder. 

Deborah Treisman expressed this so well in her New Yorker article, "Kristen Roupenian on the Self-Deceptions of Dating"
“…many women, especially young women, move through the world: not making people angry, taking responsibility for other people’s emotions, working extremely hard to keep everyone around them happy. It’s reflexive and self-protective, and it’s also exhausting, and if you do it long enough you stop consciously noticing all the individual moments when you’re making that choice.” 

Saying yes means we are feeling clear and should make us feel good, not burdened. I think we’d end up learning that we garner respect, not for always saying yes, but for honoring our limits and boundaries. 

When people trust that we will take care of ourselves, they are freer to make requests and know that we will only say yes when we can. 

Of course sometimes we blow it and say yes when we shouldn’t have. But that’s okay. The good news is that we still have options, as I write about here. 

I have come to realize that where we say yes and where we say no ends up defining who we are.  

Where do you need to say no more? 
What or who do you have the hardest time saying no to?

Now go have some fun practicing saying no. 

Intuition and Decision Making

For years my husband and I grappled with the idea of moving from western Massachusetts out to Taos. After coming to Taos on our honeymoon and absolutely falling in love with it, we made a trip every year. It wasn’t so much a vacation as a pilgrimage. 

We felt this visceral pull to the place, and couldn’t help but look at real estate ads every time we came, and we definitely thought about moving. But after making lists of pros and cons, talking and analyzing we always came to the same conclusion: sadly, it just didn’t make sense to leave the wonderful life we had established, and the many family, friends, and community connections. 

Finally in 2013, on our annual trip I just got frustrated with the confusion and ongoing analysis. 

I threw up my hands and remembered, Oh, ask for Guidance!

And so we did. We asked the question and opened. 

The next 24 hours we were bombarded by signs and messages that we were in fact being called to move to Taos. 

Wait, what? You mean we could move here? In a strange way, it had never really occurred to me that we really could. 

I was ecstatic. I have rarely felt so free or excited about anything. 

It didn’t make sense on paper. And yet, we felt called in some way that we couldn’t explain. We had to let go of the analyzing and surrender to what was true. 

I find that when I am most impatient to figure something out, I tend to lean heavily on my mind and analysis, but this can lead to mental spinning and more confusion.  
I have learned that our rational minds can’t always lead us where we need to go.  

Clarity can be elusive at times. One of the best strategies I know for dealing with the frustration of not getting clear on something we need to make a decision about is to lean into our intuition. 

In this time of information overload, it is also increasingly important that we practice good discernment. We need to trust ourselves to discern what is true, what resonates, and where we should be putting our attention. 

So here are some more intuitive options for making decisions:

•    Define the question you want to answer.

•    Write it down and decide to be with the question for a period of time. 

•    Listen deeply.

•    Be still and quiet.

•    Be curious. 

•    Meditate.

•    Stop trying to figure it out. 

•    Journal, allowing unedited ideas.

•    Revisit or explore your values as possible criteria for making the decision. 

•    Pay attention with all of your senses – not just your mind – and notice signs and messages all around you.  

•    Notice doors that open and those that don’t. 

•    Ask for Guidance.  

•    Connect with your Spirit Guides.

•    Do a tarot card, angel card, or other reading.

•    Muscle test. 

•    Go for a walk.

How do you connect to your deeper knowing and wisdom?