Happiness is Accepting Your Season

Seasons

We are cyclical creatures. Women especially. Me in particular.

Since reading a book about hormone balance, I’ve been using a hormone tracker app and have realized I am SUPER affected by the rise and fall of my estrogen and progesterone levels. (I’ve also learned that women have about 8 days out of every month when we can expect to not be being jerked around my our hormones in some way.) It’s a relief to discover this sensitivity because I’m fairly certain now that I’m not bipolar.

That’s not a joke at the expense of people who are bipolar: I’ve sincerely wondered several times in my life if that could be the reasoning behind what has often felt like drastic changes in personality, mood, and willpower.

Turns out it’s probably just hormones.

Knowing this about myself is helping me to practice compassion – with myself and others – and make better use of my talents, strengths, and hormonal upswings. My owner’s manual has been updated, and I’m loving it. Knowledge absolutely is power.

While I’m only recently uncovering the details of my hormonal cycles, I long ago noticed the power of larger cycles on my life. Seasons. Times when I’m growing and adding, times when I’m pruning and removing, and times when I’m just hunkering down and waiting for what comes next.

Unfortunately, the seasons of my life don’t always match up with what I see outside my window or on my Facebook news feed.

Like when everyone in the world is getting excited about New Year resolutions and I’m in hibernate mode.

Or when everyone I know is in do! grow! plan! mode and I’m in a cut back and refocus season.

It’s tempting to be frustrated by this dissonance, to ask “what the heck is wrong with me?”

But one of the most fundamental tenets of happiness is acceptance, including acceptance of oneself.

So I do not should on my season.

I embrace where I am and say no to what isn’t right for me right now.

I recognize that something or someone being out of season for me isn’t about anyone being smarter, dumber, too much, or not enough. Without judgment, I acknowledge that paths cross and uncross and recross as needed.

Or at least, I try.

(I am also human, so…)

I was in a yoga class earlier this week and the teacher instructed us to “let go of what is no longer serving you”. It occurred to me in that moment that so often the letting go comes with a side of smugness or self righteousness, but that isn’t really letting go or accepting.

Letting go of what no longer serves you does not have to be about slamming, or being sad, or being better than what no longer serves you. It just means something no longer fits. Maybe it will again someday. Maybe not.

It’s out of season.

I’m going to hold onto that line, I think, as a reminder that letting go can be both temporary and completely without judgment.

Also: there is never an everyone. Everyone is not doing anything.

The best thing about the Internet is that you can always find someone who is in a similar season (even if they don’t know it’s temporary) and you can remember that you aren’t a freak. You might have to go looking for that reminder – depending on how deeply ensconced you were in your last season or the story of you being a freak – but the reassurance is always just a few clicks away.

Proof:

I asked on the Facebook page what season people were in, and I got four different answers from the first three people who responded.

What season are you in right now? Do you feel in sync with what’s happening around you, or like you’re in a season of your own? Feel free to share in the comments or jump into our Facebook conversation.

The Time I Accidentally Got a Job

I wasn’t planning on getting a job. In fact, I was just trying to relax with a hot stone massage.

And yet here I am, all of a sudden and mostly on accident, employed for the first time in more than four years.

Let me back up. A few weeks ago I stopped into my local massage clinic to schedule a massage. I had a gift certificate to use and time to kill. I noticed a Help Wanted sign in the window on my in, and I briefly wondered what kind of benefits you get for working at a massage clinic. There was no opening for that day but a slot available the following one. I booked and went back to my mostly free day.

The next afternoon, I showed up about twenty minutes early to fill out my intake paperwork. Again I noticed the sign in the window. As I turned in my clipboard with my medical history, I jokingly asked the woman behind the front desk if employees got free massages.

“We didn’t used to, but we’re under new ownership and as of last month we get free treatments every month.”

“Where do I sign up?” I laughed.

She handed me an application.

My mind began to run through all of the reasons why this would be a good idea:

Free massages.

Part-time, low stress work to fill some of my non-writing, non-coaching daytime hours.

Free massages.

Walkable – in fact, an excuse to get out and walk regulary.

Free massages.

Extra money because my teenager’s favorite activities are rowing crew and skiing.

Free massages.

I filled out the application. One week, an interview, and a “so, I got a job today” text to my husband later I started training to be a wellness consultant (ie, I help people figure out what they need and rave about the benefits of regular massage and self care. EVEN MORE PERFECT FOR ME.)

Now, in addition to my full-time business, I have a part-time job. I am waffling back and forth between, “this is so great how this fell into my lap” and “what the hell were you thinking!?!?”

But that’s mostly because I am feeling like a kid in her first week of kindergarten. My brain is getting a P90X style workout with a steady stream of new things, and it wants to do nothing but fall asleep in its spaghetti-os when school is out.

Not answer emails. Not write. Not follow up with sponsors and vendors. Not keep up with my own self care routine of journaling and yoga and being creative.

Learn. Asleep in my soup.

That’s it.

But I know this part is temporary. Soon the learning curve will level out and I’ll have this really great addition to my life that will add to my writing, my life experiences, and my bank account. Soon I’ll be back to doing what I’ve always been doing and doing this new stuff and enjoying my free monthly massages.

Soon.

Right?

Uncertainty Sucks, And This Is What It Looks Like to Choose It Anyway

A heartbeat.

A need for food and water.

A total disdain for the unknown.

These are just a few of the things that make me human.

(Incidentally yes, I did love the $25,000 Pyramid.)

joey on 25000 pyramid

It is completely normal that I hate living under a cloud of uncertainty. I’m having to remind myself of that about every five minutes right now in order to avoid making any stupid or rash decisions.

My family has decided to move this August. We’re staying in Pittsburgh – and hopefully right in our neighborhood – but it’s time we upgraded to a place with a dishwasher and on-site laundry. (How we’ve survived living with two children and no laundry for this long is both mystery and miracle.) It’s also time we moved to a place where the owner isn’t constantly on the fence about whether or not this will be the year he moves back in for a little bit and lets us know at the last minute.

So, we’re moving. And now that we’ve lived here for a few years we have a better idea of exactly what we want. We know how may bedrooms, bathrooms, and major appliances we need to be comfortable.

Good job, us! Knowing what you want is half the battle!

But…

  • Our lease isn’t up until August.
  • We live in a very competitive rental market.

That means I’m actively shopping now but I have no idea if something better will come along between now and our target move date.

I saw a great townhouse this morning. It has the modern kitchen and basement, and it does not look like a place four graduate students who hate each other would live. The only thing missing is the second bathroom that we’ve grown accustomed to.

Do I jump on it? Do I wait?

My struggle, I realize, is less about understanding the local real estate market and more about how much I let my fear of the unknown control me.

Uncertainty Sucks sticker

I want to spend all of my free time pouring over real estate ads. I want to throw myself into finding a solution until said solution is found. I want to make a decision, sign on the dotted line, and put a nice tidy bow on the future as soon as possible – all so I can banish uncertainty from our lives.

But I do not make decisions based on fear.

This is one of the most important parts of my mission statement.

I intentionally choose to be brave.

Right now what that looks like is intentionally choosing to live under the dark cloud of the unknown for as long as necessary. It means resisting the urge to jump on something I feel meh or almost excited about just because I want to be done being uncertain.

I know this isn’t the kind of bravery that equates to heroics. I am not saving anyone’s life or risking anything important.

I am just making a conscious choice to acknowledge my fear and not let it drive.

That’s requiring a lot of deep breaths and inner pep talks.

(I think it’s clear I am not cut out for any job requiring actual heroism or fearlessness.)

I’m curious: what does living with intention look like in your life right now? I’d love to hear about it in the comments (or Facebook, Twitter, wherever.)

How to Get a Good Haircut (and Better Loving)

My hair is absolutely my favorite thing about the way I look. It is, in many ways, the physical embodiment of my personality. The blonde ringlets are a bit unruly and unpredictable, they’re unique, and they have the potential to be absolutely beautiful when cared for properly.

That’s why I take my haircuts very, very seriously.

A good haircut makes it possible for my hair to look its best, which makes me feel my best. A bad haircut? Ugh. It’s like stealing my superpower.

With so much at stake, I have made it my mission over the last couple decades to master the art of getting a good haircut. Today, I’m going to share my wisdom with you.

Because it’s not just about getting a good haircut.

These secrets to getting a good haircut are also the secrets to getting good customer service, more wow in the bedroom, and exactly what you need in your relationships.

Really.

Ready? Let’s get started.

BEST HAIRCUT AND BETTER LOVING

1. Show up  looking good.

Sure, your hair is in bad need of a cut and you’re probably going to get a shampoo – but it’s still a good idea to make an effort to look good when you walk in the door. Why? Because you set the bar high from the word Go.

This is human nature. Real estate agents will tell you that tenants take better care of a property that is updated and well maintained. We take better care of what is clearly valued.

Value yourself first, and let that self care be visible to others.

2. Know what you want.

If you sit in a stylist’s chair and ask to be surprised, prepare to be surprised – and possibly very disappointed.

You simply cannot get what you want if you don’t know what you want.

Logic.

3. Communicate your needs clearly.

Here’s the tricky part: getting what you want out of your head and into someone else’s.

Stylists aren’t mind readers. (Neither are lovers.)

Use pictures. Draw shapes. Point and lift with your hands. Take the time to learn the lingo so you can give detailed instructions about layers or textures.

Don’t skimp on this part. Take as much time as needed and whatever means necessary to get your vision across clearly.

4. Speak up if things aren’t going well.

Two people coming together for a single purpose is almost always going to lead to some confusion. That’s OK. What’s not OK is staying silent because you don’t want to offend your partner – er, stylist. They want to do a good job!

Speak up. Say, “no.” Say, “a little more off the top.” Say, “still not enough.”

This is all about owning your responsibility in the process.

5. Pick a partner you can trust.

You have to be accountable for your role in the process; you also need to know where yours stops and theirs begins. You cannot cut your own hair or maintain two halves of a healthy relationship.

Ideally, you’ll find a stylist who is committed to listening to your needs and doing their best work every time. When that happens, you’ll learn to trust their expertise and listen to their advice when they say things like “please let me blow dry before I cut one more inch.”

If you don’t have that trust and you don’t feel like you both are invested in a good outcome, don’t settle.

There are plenty of good stylists in town who are dying to get their hands on a strong, beautiful customer who knows what she wants.

Really.

What I Learned About Creativity When I Wasn’t Writing

Writing has always been my preferred art, even before I knew it was art.

When I was in high school, the walls of my bedroom were papered with poems and mini memoirs. On those walls I hid messages to my parents that I was too afraid to speak aloud but desperately needed to get out of me – and then I tore them all down in a fit of rage and tears the first time my words were used against me.

I started putting my words in journals. Then, on a whim, I put them on the Internet for invisible strangers to read. That’s when I discovered that I made things – stories, and  pictures, and feelings – out of letters and punctuation. The whim turned into a hobby, then an obsession, and eventually a career.

Still, it wasn’t until two years ago when my daughter suggested she got her artistic talent from me that I considered the possibility that I was creative.

Since that realization, I’ve been experimenting with lots of different methods of creativity. It’s all been for fun – words are still the medium that I am best at – but it felt very, very necessary and essential to my happiness. It was as if I’d discovered a secret treasure map to Something Super Important and I had to just keep making stuff if I wanted to get to the big X.

And then the words left me.

I haven’t written anything I’m extremely proud of in months. Every post here has been a struggle, a pulling out of me instead of the release of an unstoppable flow. I haven’t written word one of my next book even though I finally know exactly what it will be about. I haven’t submitted a single article or guest post for anyone else, despite requests and lists of possible topics.

It’s terrifying for a writer to lose her words. But it has also been a blessing in a way, because it’s been during this scary wordless drought that I’ve come to fully appreciate my creativity.

The words and I have been at odds, but the need to create was always strong.

So, I learned to paint with watercolors. I rehabbed old furniture. I went on long photo walks, discovered blackout poetry, bought coloring books, made collages, and started an art journal.

different types of art

Along the way, I’ve rediscovered something primal and, I believe, universal: inherent creativity.

This kind of creativity doesn’t exist to generate an income or to garner validation from an audience. It exists because in being creators we are connected to what creates us.

When I’m making something with my hands, I can feel this strand of soul inside me hum. My stupid thinking brain shuts up and my intuition takes over. It’s like going to the source and refueling with the very best of my original ingredients.

Creativity isn’t the only way to access this super refueling station. I get the same recharge from being surrounded by nature or having a deep connection with someone I love. My creativity isn’t the only part of me that matters or the single key to my happiness.

But it’s an important one, I’ve learned. And it’s fun.

Painting and drawing and gluing things together is fun for me because, I think, I have no standards for myself. I don’t expect to make masterpieces or even something pretty. It helps me practice doing just for the sake of doing.

And really, I can’t say this enough: it’s fun.

My words are slowly starting to come back to me. I hope that I’ll actually be able to write that book this year and regain my confidence in storytelling. But in the meantime, I’m so grateful that I’ve discovered new ways to sustain my creative spirit.

***

Do you have a creative spirit and live in the Pittsburgh area? I’d love it if you’d join me for a special weeknight retreat in March. Go here for details & ticket info.

(And if you’re not in Pittsburgh, stay tuned… I’m planning something big for you later this year!)

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Stay inspired by weekly emails with personal stories, practical tips & links to recent blog posts. You’ll also have access to exclusive discounts on products & events and a handful of freebies I’ve made just for you.

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