“My life suuuucks! I don’t have time to do anything!…I don’t even know what I want to do…I feel like a gerbil on a treadmill…in a rut…I can’t stop…I keep doing this!”
“Help!” I ask the powers that be.
Have you ever been here?
At 42…I definitely Was STUCK. I’d been a lawyer in downtown Chicago for about 10 years. I was ensconced as a partner in a medium-sized law firm…wearing suits every day… trying my best to meet everyone else’s expectations. When I dared looked up from my desk, I could glimpse an edge of the Picasso in front of the Daley Center out my window. I worked long. I worked hard. I handled emergency court calls. I represented husbands, wives, children, employees, and employers…all in deep conflict. I arrived home late and worked a large part of most weekends. The theory was I would “get ahead.” Then I’d have some time to do what I wanted. I’d get to take a break.
For years I’d carried a tablet paper calendar. I didn’t seem to be able to decide what to do unless I could see a month at a time. My calendar was a blur of blue (I liked blue pens then)…scribbles everywhere…some things underlined suggesting urgency…some scratched out…others filled in the margins. Who was I?
I simply couldn’t even see myself in my calendar.
I don’t know how or where the idea came from…but I glommed on to a tool that saved my life…a GREEN PEN.
“What?” you ask…”a green pen?”
Yes…a green pen. You know, those felt tip Flair Pens that come in black, purple, red, blue and…green.
I wanted to know, to remember, to find out who I was…because I just didn’t know anymore.
I began to look at my calendar in a different way. When I put something in red, it meant work…yeah…you know…not so easy to change. Blue meant flexible…I could make changes with anything blue…switch things all around…as long as they were blue.
Then there was GREEN.
I decided green for me meant “go”…just like a traffic light turning green. “From now on,” I said to myself, “green is mine! Green in my schedule was not to be messed with. Green was to feed my curiosity…my soul…to find what a writing coach once called “the juice” that was missing from my life!
Think of it this way: when you get on a plane, the first thing the stewardess says right before takeoff is, “When the oxygen masks drop down, put yours on first…then help someone else.”
Green in my schedule became my oxygen mask.
Green was my fuel. Slowly, as I honored my green schedule, I discovered I got better results…all the way around! This actually made me more able to be there for others… at work…at home…with friends.
It looked like this: Occasionally afternoon green meant I went to see a psychic…or a movie…just for fun, took a walk in the woods, went to lunch with a friend, painted t-shirts, combed through art supply stores and hardwares. All I told the receptionist and my secretary was, “I have a meeting out of the office.”
A green week meant visiting one of my children, skiing or having fun with my husband, taking a road trip, attending a workshop…don’t think Continuing Education…think “Integrated Awareness”…my first experience with the paranormal.
I stretched…I moved beyond my comfort zone…at first just a little…then more often…eventually falling in love with life…but that’s getting ahead of my story. We’re just talking about “putting my toe in the water.”
You might wonder how I managed to do all this when judges wanted to schedule hearings, or bosses, partners or clients wanted a meeting…always urgent of course! They DID all want a piece of me. Somehow whenever I said simply and with great fortitude, “I have a conflict…can’t do it then,” no-one challenged me. What mattered was the energy with which I said it wouldn’t work for me. When I said that, they simply shifted…chose another date…did something different…called on someone else. (And yes, for a short time I DID worry that when they would find someone else, I would be left behind. But when I stuck to my guns…and held my own energy…I wasn’t.)
When you do good work, they…all of them…will wait. Just say, “I’ can’t do that until next week.” Trust me. They WILL believe you…as long as YOU believe yourself. No need to explain.
You may think “Yeah, right…she was a lawyer…her own boss. I have a 9 – 5 job.”
Look…this isn’t rocket science. No excuses! Choose one thing…one POSITIVE thing. Schedule it…on the weekend…at night…or get up an hour earlier to take a walk…read a book…paint…DO something YOU want to do for you. Whatever it is…Schedule it! DO NOT INTERFERE with it. Stay positive. You might try a mantra to intervene whenever you feel doubt creeping in. (I have a few I can share)
These work! They calm anxiety. Repeat them…often…until you own them… and they own you.
The first time you hear yourself saying, “I have a commitment. I regret I can’t do that,” is the scariest…the second, not so bad…by the third, you’ll begin to feel some ease creeping in. The more you own your GREEN, the more ease you’ll feel.
Gradually, one step at a time, bosses, partners, clients, customers, friends and family…all will begin to respect you and your boundaries. They will see you with new eyes. Trust me…they really don’t want the work…paid or volunteer…of someone who is on a treadmill all the time. A person simply can’t be creative and generate new compelling ideas, products, activities when they don’t love what they’re doing. In fact…before long they’ll be wanting to know how you stay so positive and do all you do.
The key is to help people focus on a positive step. Give them a green pen! …maybe even a mantra.
When we Green, we live…we, our colleagues, our partners and the whole world is better for it. It’s amazing what a green pen can do.
Helpful Mantras (Author unknown):
The Creator in me reveals
where I am to be
who I am to be
and what I am to do.
The Creator in me reveals
the divine mission in me.
I accomplish my divine mission this day.
I’m in the right place…at the right time…
doing my Creator’s work.
Today I share the “greening” stories of others with my Video Podcast: Creating From the Heart – The Artistry of Living on YouTube. Please watch them, like them, and share them. Comments are welcome!