Feeling Flat? A Call to Reframe

By Lisa M. Donohue, MA, LMT, 
Co-Owner, Director / Catalyst, Thrive Center of the Green Mountains
Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach via the www.circleoflife.net model


Are you feeling creatively stuck or restless? Perhaps sensing some frenetic undercurrent in your life that you can’t completely put your finger on?  If not, flip the page.  After all, time waits for no one.  At the request of RRMC, I was asked to write an article about the importance of ‘goal setting’.  Maybe it’s time we answer our inner callings; by getting hip too and aboard our own resident wisdom logic trains.  So let’s reflect, reframe and reboot some thoughts around goals, shall we?

As of late I have been referring to the word goals, with this acronym: “Get Out Alive Lifestyle Strategy”.  I can identify with it, because this summer I had two vital opportunities to further align with my own mortality. One week I had the rich, intense, revealing, and often very humorous experience of clearing and cleaning out my deceased grandmother’s home; as I had been willed the remains of her dairy farm in W.N.Y., along with another cousin.  I say humorous, because where else would I find an evening gown, chicken wire, rabbit food, and milking machine brush all in one drawer?! Hey, I guess my grandmother knew the occasion just might come up, where she would need all four of them at once!  I have many more outcroppings just like this one, however, that’s for another piece of writing. Anyone, whom has had a similar experience can truly relate.  If you have the option to do the same on behalf of a loved one, or offering this gift of assistance to someone in your life, don’t miss it.  Most assuredly, you’ll learn a lot about yourself.  The other was to attend a funeral for a very dear friend, named Alison, whom I have covered a lot of territory with over a twenty year span.  She was diagnosed in May of 2005, with breast cancer, one month after the dearest member of my immediate family had been.  It has been a potent  3.5 year gift, to say the least.  I have found myself having very fulfilling and productive days and still others where I am accidentally putting my mail in the freezer.  She left behind on this earth plane, a loving and devoted family of 3 young daughters and her husband.  In the end, each occasion revealed much with regard to goals.

In my grandmother’s case I saw so many “to-do” lists, “wish” lists, “who had borrowed what” lists, and “who tried to pull the wool over my eyes on the farm” lists; wedged into endless recipe boxes, how to manuals, lottery ticket stubs, handfuls of silver coins wrapped up in notes from New Year Eves’ past (a polish custom – where you throw them out the highest window facing east at midnight), and 30 years worth of health oriented books and magazines, Etc, Etc.  (Interesting to note the same headlines 30 years ago, which captured our interest with regard to health issues, are the same ones we are focusing on today!) She always had a saying that the “Erie Flatcar” was going to come in.  Meaning that one day when she had a windfall of money, through the once famed, Buffalo, N.Y.,  “Dialing for Dollars” TV show it would “change” a lot, making everything better by solving problems.  I can still see the amounts, in my minds eye, written in pencil on the door frame of her home and that of the milk house.  Well I can tell you that she did not leave bank rolled in the wealth management quadrant of her life, however she did lead a very rich life, and had up 50 purses packed and ready with a purpose to prove it!  While her life was indeed extremely interesting, it was often tumultuous and challenging, as life on a farm often is.  In the last days of our talking with one another, in 2005, she spoke of the hard work that kept her physically young, and a variety of unfulfilled hopes and dreams…And left me with a message along the lines of, “Live your life, Lisa; not a role.”  My grandmother transitioned into the next life “alive”, as alive I suppose as someone in her generation and / or circumstances could have.

Alison in tandem had a very important message to share. She devoured life and consumed every precious moment, moving through it with the force of a freight train; lapping up every possibility.  She was so real and exuded passion in every way imaginable: whether asking the deeper questions as to how someone was doing, remembering and celebrating every special occasion, through her teaching, fitness activities, building bridging alliances for greater harmony in this world, helping someone out, or in the daily do’s of cleaning and routing her children around.  She was fully present in them all, all the time.  She and I share a similar living vigor; I suppose that’s why we “ran” together, each a part of each other’s “inner circles”, of full throttle types.  Alison lived well.  She lived very, very well.  In some of her last days, when the hospice nurses would ask what else she would like for lunch, she called out…Tequila!   Alison, too, left this world “alive”, very much alive.  It’s been said that when God is pleased with our work, we are called home.

My coined “Getting Out Alive Lifestyle Strategy” is going to mean different things to different people, as well it should.  So what will it mean or not mean for you?   How will you manifest it?   In reading the August 25 – September 1 issue of “Business Week”, magazine, a few quotables really resonated with me:  “If you really want to manage your time and get stuff done, have a burning life and work purpose that is a beacon for what you do.  While they are useful, the lists, the shortcuts – all that stuff – pales in comparison to ‘purpose’ for time management”, (Pg. 68, Dean Fuhrman, consultant, Westwood Hills, Kansas).  Randy Pausch’s (author of The Last Lecture) heartfelt views on using time to the fullest; included reminders of the big picture.  “Do the “ugliest” thing first – everything else will come more easily after that.  Make time for the important things, not just the critical things; it is all too easy to spend time fighting fires rather than doing the necessary and deep thinking.  And recognize that the best reason to save time in your work is to increase time with your family” (Pg. 71).  And from Jim Collins, author of one of my favorite books, Good to Great, offered:  “A lot of people who do extraordinary things are not balanced.  I’m not even convinced the idea makes sense (since) there’s a certain neurotic obsession with doing exceptional things.  As I look at the most effective people we’ve studied, a “stop-doing” list  or “not-to-do” list is more important than a to-do list, because the to-do list is infinite.  For every big, annual priority you put on the to do list, you need a corresponding item on the stop doing list.  It’s like an accounting balance.  And lastly, what we know about people who are really effective is that they think.  The key is to build pockets of quietude into your schedule – times when you have an appointment with yourself and it’s protected” (Pgs. 32-33).

In closure, I would like to offer these ideas, thoughts and quotes around goals:

Two more on the linear side: Check out David Allen’s book: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, and / or create and give to your staff a “User’s Manual – To you”!  This is a fabulous idea from Ben Dattner, of Dattner Consulting.  I would further extend that as an idea for each staff member to do, as well as, to use with your family.

Be wary of the “Herd Mentality” & Nay Sayers.  A wellness colleague of mine from Texas, Charles MacInerney, had this to say, “Choose to value individuality over mindless conformity, and liberty over the illusion of safety that membership in a herd affords you.  Then you will find the freedom to look within yourself to discover who you are.  In doing so you share with the world the gift of an authentic life lived.”

How often do you hear people saying…Ahhh….”I have the rest of my life to do this or that”…Hmmm…How do you know that?   We often do what we value.  Sometimes we need to keep having fits and starts and moments of squirming until the excuses stop, and we get out of our own fearful way and let things flow.

I often refer to moments in my own life when there is a halt with a project or intention or when some aspect of my work feels a bit mundane as being in “my boot camp”.   Trusting that the next piece of work to come, I will need to grow into ~ and that there is a bigger dynamic needing to take shape.  More unseen forces than seen.

As new mom, I take as many teachable cues from my son as possible, being the little master that he is.  Like last week when he ripped up our new vision and mission statements for the Thrive Center.  I guess the chairman cast his vote!  Gratefully, he has brought me to my knees in losing, gaining, shelving, and finding parts of myself, on a daily basis.  Most of all he has taught me, alongside the book, Momma Zen ~ The Crooked Path to Motherhood, the most important, and sometimes difficult practice of all – “To Be Happy”!

Practice compassion with yourself first, then others.  Employ the old saying, where you can, “sleep on it.”

Contemplate the concept ~ “work fast – slow” with as much presence and mindfulness as possible.

Think about coming on October 16th. to my program and try some hands on activities such as:  what is 24 x 7 & intuiting from your “to-do” or “not-to-do” list.

Find someone you resonate with whether it be a mentor or a coach or another, and do your best day by day to say goodbye to self saboteurs of all kinds.  We have the choice to be fully alive right now.   Ask yourself the “four how’s”: How have I come to help?  How have I come to love?  How have I come to create?  How have I come to share?  Until next time, defy physics ye magical creatures by creating and expressing goals from the deepest part of your heart and soul.

“Don’t ask what the world needs.Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

~ Howard Thurman