The holiday season that you just celebrated—in whatever ways—can be intense, right? Family, friends, gifts, rituals, messy people, neat freaks, old issues, new plot twists… it’s often, well, a lot. Whew.
And you no doubt did your part to try to make the season a beautiful one. Time to re-energize now.
Now, back at work, at home, at school, you may be feeling just how much life force you expended in the process. It’s time now, as you settle back into your relatively comforting routines, to re-energize. Time for some smart strategies to put the zest back in your step while you prep to make the most of all the natural motivation that the New Year brings.
Ah, leadership. The word may seem overused these days, tossed around as the missing piece in any and all situations.
Or maybe in your mind it only applies to those suit-and-tie types in corner offices. But the fact is, these days we’re really all leaders of our own individual little bandwagons, trekking across the frontiers of 21st century life.
Because we know—or we’ve heard tell—that life is truly what we make of it now. There are so many possibilities. And so few certainties. Right? The old company man for 40 years game that our fathers or grandfathers played over the very long haul come hell or high water is, in fact, over.
These days our lives can and will change profoundly decade by decade, if not more often. Yep, my dears, we’d all be wise to consider ourselves leaders in the game of life that we’re each playing.
Leadership is us
So, in your personal or professional life, are you a water-cooler prophet? The kind of gal or guy that others want to hang out with and hear from during breaks in the action?
If so, are you busy inspiring them to be their best, toward what they want most, while doing that in your own approach? That’s leadership, my dears. Help people rise up. Build them up. No matter who or where you are.
In contrast, it can be easy to drag folks down with gossip. With tales of personal annoyances. With fears for the future or regrets about the past that anybody can relate to. But that stuff doesn’t help you—or all the people who enjoy you—have what you really want in life.
Then there’s that other scenario:
Are you the boss in the corner office, feeling isolated, stressed, or unfulfilled? Yearning for work/life balance that eludes you so far?
Thinking about my progress toward my own goals, I’m surprised yet again by my changing priorities. New drives and goals that I couldn’t have predicted a year ago are front and center now. Can you relate?
It’s exciting, and maybe maddening, especially for those who love us. It can cause us—and others—anxiety, too.
But it’s not really surprising if we take time to reflect on it all. Because life is long, and we’re living in an amazing age. So why not go for the gusto?
My Father’s Story
I flash on my father starting his forestry career in the early ’50s. He was 18 years old and fresh out of trade school. He did more training through correspondence courses later.
In those early days, he marked timber in the swamps of south Florida. He tells stories of being up to his waist in who knew what. Sandwich strapped to his back to keep it (relatively) dry. Ugh!
Four decades later, when he left that multi-national company in his late 50s to become a personal trainer, his role in the company had morphed again and again. Meanwhile he raised three kids with my mom, pursued passions for physical fitness, music, and more, and certified as a trainer.
He retired from that mega-corporation as keeper of digital land records for all holdings. By then it was a tech gig through and through.
This daddy’s girl knows the keys to his success included adaptability, a habit of saying, “sure, I can do that” and then figuring it out, and just plain steady growth. No standing still. Year after year.
The wildest part of this story is that that was then—the last few years of the 20th century, when things were ramping up big-time—and this is now. The world is changing lightning fast these days. Under our feet. Under our fingertips. All around us. All the time. So what’s a human to do?
The truth is, continuous growth and development seem like necessary self-defense in the midst of it all. And guess what? Growth often means change. Permission to change. To shake things up.
So today I’m thinking about one particular insight from some training I did back in the day. It has aided me in countless ways since.
It’s the principle that, well, basically, life is empty, my dears. Oh, and it’s meaningless, too.
Emptiness and Us
I know this news may not make your day, but stay with me. It’s meant to grab your attention. Ultimately it’s about freedom. Freedom to create your own meaning.
For a minute, consider this empty worldview the cleanest of slates. Imagine life without anyone expecting anything in particular of you. Or maybe they do, but in a meaningless universe, what does it matter? Only as much as you want it to.
And of course I’m playing with you a bit, to get you thinking, and then to ask you this: When you imagine the absence of whatever seems to limit your choices, what’s most important to you?
What, in your heart of hearts, is deeply meaningful? What could you daydream and scheme about night after so-inspired-that-you’re-sleepless night?
And maybe as you’re reading this, you know in your heart and gut that you’re already living all that. If so, bravo!
Imagine Your Life
If not, then start reflecting on what really is vital to you, and what might just be habit. Ways of thinking, feeling, and living on auto-pilot. Settling. Giving up.
Try envisioning everything that’s most real and important to you. Then hold onto that vision. Play with it. Give it space. Develop and expand it! Not as wishful thinking, but as one way of working on your personal and professional goals. There’s power in getting crystal clear on what matters most to you. Next step from there is to, well, create some next steps.
And as you start that good work, reach out for expert support toward the clarity and forward movement that you deserve. I’ll be happy to help from my beautiful, empty reality. :)
All work and no play makes… well, you know. But still, notice all the big and small anxieties and obstacles that may pop right up in front of you when you think about taking some real time for play time.
Really get your head in the playing game
This means time out that doesn’t just physically pause work mode. Instead, really turn your focus to playing and re-charging. Time psychologically and emotionally free from deadlines and devices, on hiatus from any and all projects.
Free from really still being in it and at it no matter what you’re doing or not doing. You creatively obsessed types know I’ve got your number, right? After all, it takes one to know one.
Though I’ll also note that some of you wise ones are really, really good at this! If so, be sure to celebrate that in yourself. Celebrate the inner and outer life you’ve crafted that’s super-conducive to balance in all things.
Get wise to your wiring
On the other hand, if real relaxation and play time, including real internal permission and cooperation, are a stretch for you, get curious about the “why” of that. What’s keeping the pedal to the metal, with you all work and no play?
The truth is, there can be so much in the mix. I laugh at my tendency to zip around like the energizer bunny in ways I found amusing about my mother for decades. She modeled it. I got the message on several levels.
Now I see it in my grown sons, too. We enjoy work. So we work! Given that truth, I’ll add that the image of a pendulum swinging helps me to craft balance.
Let the pendulum swing
Yep, let that pendulum swing, enjoyably. Time to work, time to play. Time to work… like your favorite playground swing set from childhood, back and forth and back again.
After all, a flow from work to play and back again is a dynamic you can count on, like sun and moon. Day and night. Even laughter and tears. It’s all in the mix. Beautifully.
Note the payoffs
And in the yin and yang of all things, you—and your loved ones—deserve play time! So set it aside. Schedule fun time. Chill time. Even just as a grand experiment. Afterward, as part of it, check in with the most goal-oriented part of you and note the value of that down time.
Zinged-up energy? Fresh ideas popping up out of nowhere?
I have no doubt your grand experiment will go beautifully. Now I’m signing off. Gotta go plan a little road trip.
You may be thinking, what’s one got to do with the other? The truth is, a lot.
Because we’re all born creative. We just express our creativity in different ways. Through the Arts, yes, but also in our own unique approach to whatever we enjoy doing.
That means anything and everything. Livelihood. Cooking. Parenting. Fashion!
Are you a video game designer? An EMT? A teacher? Creativity shows itself in every profession.
When we’re creatively engaged in life, we’re happily engaged. We’re satisfied. 100% in it, whatever it is. In the zone. Busy being ourselves.
And guess what? This is what work in the 21st century will be about, according to thinkers like Daniel Pink in his bestseller, Drive.
Pink makes the case that, as outsourcing and technology continue to replace us in many work arenas, our creative capabilities will become the surest routes to our livelihoods. Rings true to me. How about you?
OK, so where’s the wellness?
Aw we all know, there are all kinds of adages these days about loving what you do and doing what you love. And for good reason. It makes sense to us that living and working in ways that matter to us will affect the course of our lives.
When that’s the case, our energy, our life force, flows, rather than clogging from chronic frustration, bleeding out from too many forced yesses, or just flat-lining from freaking boredom. Yikes.
Creative life, meet the chakras
So to shed more light on creativity and health, we’ll spend some time here on the chakra system. We’ll go deep into the happy dance between creativity and wellness.
And if the chakras are new to you, there’s a nice piece on the main ones here at mindbodygreen.com. But stay with me ’til I’ve made my creative case. :)
It starts here. In my words:
As we express ourselves in the world, our chakras—the fields of energy spinning in several areas around and through our bodies—are helped in their healthy flow.
So let’s start at the top and move down to the ground of our body/minds.
7th Chakra Health
Through contact with our personal creative fire, we tap into collective creative consciousness. Into universal intelligence. Whoa! Right?
And no worries at all if this is foreign to you. We don’t have to be 100% into this level of awareness to reap its benefits, as long as we aren’t actively, adamantly closed in our thinking.
So just stay open, deliciously, to the mysteries and benefits of living your creative life fully. Just trust that it’s good for you. And stay with me.
6th Chakra Health
Because when your particular creative urges have an honored place in your imagination, you’re fully “at play” in visioning your life. As you dream in sync with your deepest creative needs and visions, your third eye, the deep wisdom source in all of us, is active, open, and vibrating.
In short, as you dare to dream creatively, your body/mind responds in kind. Inspiration is clean fuel, my dears. Now let’s pull it downward toward grounding our lives.
5th Chakra Health
Toward creativity and health, the next step is for our creative inspirations to take their place in our outer lives, rather than just in the privacy of our imaginations. This takes our acts of will. Our clear intentions and committed follow-through.
This satisfying way of living takes speakingourtruth in life. About who we are. About what we want to contribute.
We don’t have to be the best at it, or famous for it. We just have to riskbeing ourselves. To act on that. To passionately, actively be, in the world, who we really are.
And not just once a year on summer vacation, but as part of the daily round of our days and nights. Beautiful. And good for us!
4th Chakra Health
Further, we can say that healthy creative expression is love in action. Because the heart chakra opens when we act in the world as who we really are.
Living as our real selves is a way of giving to life. Then we’re fed in return by humbly creating livelihoods around our passions. By contributing ourselves to life.
And that’s inspiring. Right?
If it seems daunting, consider that it may mean living simply. And of course our materialistic culture doesn’t exactly encourage that. But so what? Be counter-cultural. Imagine your open-hearted, creative life. Then scale down as needed.
This is healthy for the 4th chakra. Healthy for our hearts, that powerful engine of our bodies with its own deep intelligence. How can we keep our 4th chakra spinning happily by living in ways that contribute lovingly to life?
3rd Chakra Health
Next, as we go deeper, closer to the ground of our lives, the truth is that living our unique contribution to life takes personal power. It takes consistent output. And it takes regular self-renewal, my dears. We can’t fake this combo, or we end up outa gas.
On the other hand, if we’re living and working in satisfying, healthy, balanced ways, we’re coming from core, as they say in yoga class. This makes everything we want possible.
In short, we have to own both our personal power and our responsibility to take extraordinary care of ourselves. That’s a 3rd chakra gig, my dears. Creativity and health, indeed.
2nd Chakra Health
Now, as we live our inner creative fire, allowing it to design our outer lives, we access healthy 2nd chakra energy. It’s a sense of well-being, abundance, and gratitude. Pleasure. Sensuality.
This is gut energy. Cojones and ovarios energy. Intuition, attraction, satisfaction, and self-expression fully at play in our lives.
And yes, living this way definitely affects our love lives. A nagging sense that something is missing in our relationships could be right on the money, with that something being… well… us! Because our creative satisfaction brings fire to any relationship dance we’re doing.
Speaking of money, it’s a 2nd chakra issue, too. “If you build it they will come” and “do what you love and the money will follow” are both 2nd chakra mantras. Time, faith, and committed, balanced, relaxed action are a healthy 2nd chakra combo.
1st Chakra Health
1st chakra health grounds our body/minds in life.
When we design our lives to support our creative self-expression, including how we live, pay our bills, and nourish ourselves, literally and figuratively, we can truly walk our talk in the world. We’re in healthy relationship to life.
The grounded path we deserve to walk wants to be satisfying, rather than a 4-alarm fire. Rather than constant, adrenaline-fueled crisis mode. Try not hurrying. Try trusting your process. Just calmly note and calmly follow the flow of your energy.
Where is your life force headed this season if you trust it? Think and feel your way. And get yourself some expert support if confusion or fear are zapping your energy.
So keep on keepin’ on in your creative life
In the midst of it all, keep those creative juices flowing, my dears, including right on out into the real world. Don’t save it for someday.
Express yo’self in healthy, satisfying ways today, tomorrow, next week. As central to your beautiful life. Because I say you being the real you is your contribution. And since that’s good for you and for all of us, it’s definitely win-win.
I happened onto the hashtag #selflove on Twitter one night, and I was curious about how it was being used So I checked out the definition someone had given it on tagdef.com.
Could have several empowering meanings, but is often used as a politically correct term for solo masturbation.
Basically, I’m not buyin’ it
Interesting, and maybe useful to some. But way off base in my view. Honestly, it confused me a bit. Just not at all what I expected. So I looked up self-love on dictionary.com. Check out this depressing definition:
Yikes. That’s harsh! Especially since we tend to be in constant overdrive these days. But then I realized, I’m just not buyin’ this. In fact, I think it needs a 21st century reboot.
So what’s a self-loving woman to do?
In short, I just took matters into my own hands. :)
I went back to tagdef.com, entered #selflove, and added my own definition:
Self-love: a healthy, positive sense of self that creates resulting habits of self-nurturance and self-care, rather than waiting for someone or something outside us to deem us lovable and to care for us.
“Self-love creates a healthy foundation for empowered choices.”
To be sure, I could have worked on that a bit more before I hit “done.” But so be it. It’s there now. I hope it’ll be helpful to someone, somewhere, sometime.
Because I say self-love is essential in our action-packed lives. In our lives of service to family and community. Our lives jammed with productivity.
Self-love makes a difference
We’re wise to take extraordinary care of ourselves in the midst of whatever we’re up to in the world. Extraordinary self-care creates the ‘fertile soil’ from which everything we want to be can blossom and grow.
So I say go get ’em from a foundation of self-love, my dears. And more, keep coming back to the place of balance that self-love demands.
The fact is, we can’t go entirely off the deep end while we’ve also got to get on to a nutritious meal, a good night’s sleep, and all the other healthy parts of our self-care lists. All things in their own time and place, right?
Are you with me on this? Good. Because I’ve gotta get some rest!