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The Sustain-Ability of Self

Published by . in Feed the Soul, Quiet the Mind

the-sustain-ability-of-self

Last night at a business symposium, hosted by the Port Townsend Co-Lab I had the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects – the sustain-ability of self.  The theme for the evening was collaboration and innovation. I wrote my presentation to reflect the theme, but whether you are a business owner, or busy person perhaps some of the words I spoke will strike a chord with you and even better, light a spark for change!

Sharing last night’s presentation verbatim.

———————————————

I am convinced that to have the energy & health to affect lasting change in our lives and in this world, we must first and foremost make the sustainability of ourselves our number one priority.

The website: sustainability.com describes sustainability this way:
“Among the many ways that sustainability has been defined, the simplest and most fundamental is: “the ability to sustain” or, put another way, “the capacity to endure.”

Endure means to, suffer, tolerate, to put up with something – to sustain without flinching or breaking.

So many people are nearing their breaking point. We cannot sustain collaboration and innovation without taking care of ourselves first.
We can’t sustain anything without taking care of ourselves first!

We have created a cultural norm of over-doing and over-extending that has led to the baseline daily feeling of being over-whelmed and anxious.

This way of ‘being’ is no different than how large companies operate they go fast, they go big, they push their employee’s and they deplete natural resources without replenishing. Small business owners, push themselves without replenishing.

Collaboration and innovation with yourself first – what I call “sacred selfishness”, creates sustain-ability without being in a state of ‘enduring’.

One of my favorite quotes, from A Course in Miracles is “above all else, let me see this differently”.

‘Seeing differently’ leads to innovation with how you live your life, how you show up in your world / our world and how you connect and collaborate with others.

When you are in a state of over-whelm or depletion, just like what is happening with our country, things begin to fall apart, you begin to fall apart. Caffeine is used to get through the day.  Food and over-doing is used to fill a void. Alcohol and drugs are used to unwind and numb out.

The result is, our world environment is not healthy and our internal environments are not healthy.

But, as I stand here before you today – I can tell you first hand, you can overcome, over-doing and over-whelm.
I know this is possible because I began shifting from living in a constant state over-doing, stress and anxiousness, to feeling calm and relaxed, right smack in the middle of the most stressful years of owning my [former] store – during the recession.
This ‘shifting’ of habits, beliefs and behaviors began by asking these questions:

>Why are you doing what you are doing?
>What need is your ‘doing’ or perhaps your ‘over-doing’ fulfilling?
>What are you saying “yes” to and why?
>How do you feel when you say “no”? What feelings come up?
>How good are your boundaries? Do you know what ‘boundaries’ are?
>What depletes you?
>What feeds your soul?
>What ‘thoughts’ do you have on a loop?
>On a daily basis how are you renewing your natural resources?  And…
>What can you let go of?

Several years ago, I came up with a question (my favorite of them all) that became my “theme” for an entire year. Every time I felt stress, over-whelm, anxious, scared, frustrated or confused, I would hit my internal ‘pause’ button and ask “what can I do differently?”.

This question led to over-coming my addiction to busyness (my way of numbing out),
>It led to letting go of trying to control everything,
>It led to learning how to quiet my monkey mind and eventually this question
“what can I do differently”, led to selling my business and taking a yearlong intentional sabbatical renewing my own internal resources.

Today, I am no longer addicted to busyness or living in overwhelm. My life is richer. My eyes are open.
I see ‘doing’ differently. I feel more. I love more and I laugh more. And even when faced with what at times can feel like insurmountable challenges, my baseline daily feeling is not anxiousness and over-whelm, it is peace!

So I ask youwhat can you do differently to place the sustain-ability of yourself, not at the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list, but at the top?

Namaste!
-Suzy

 

Want More Energy? Think About This…

Published by . in Nourish the Body, Quiet the Mind

ENERGYwANT MORE- (3)

A phone call from a friend excitedly sharing “so many good things happening”. Another friend who starts every day very early with exercise and then works very long hours. A comment to me saying “you are less exuberant, which there is nothing wrong with exuberance, but you seem so grounded and relaxed now” and I realized I’ve learned a few things this past year. Good things are fabulous. Exercise is a great thing. But I was using both as a way to sustain a level of stimulation that kept me going.

I have learned that adrenaline (from caffeine & winding myself up), endorphins (from exercising), that buzz (from creating a whirl wind of energy around myself) led to habits and beliefs of what living life fully “should” feel like.

This past sabbatical year I have blown into a million pieces my belief that happiness was feeling excited; that success meant life was full, that going and doing was feeling alive, that being healthy meant vigorous exercise and that happy meant feeling exuberant and motivated every single day.

With 30 days left of my “official sabbatical” year I have finally redefined what energy means to me. It no longer means sliding through the door at the end of my day exhausted from being pumped and excited from all that I had accomplished.  It no longer means amping up on caffeine to retain my adrenaline high. It no longer means I can accomplish or do anywhere near what I used to do in a single day without the “pretend” energy that winding myself up like the energizer bunny and caffeine provided.

Yes – it’s challenging. I do have moments when I feel flat, lost, even blue without that amped feeling. But with practice these moments happen less often and I now view these ‘flat’ times for what they are – a mask for an underlying agitation, that little voice that is saying “don’t just sit there, do something”. I don’t know if this voice will ever fully go away, but I do know when it arrives it’s a sign to take a deep breath, check in and allow myself to be still. To stare out the window. To let my mind wander. To close my eyes. To take a slow stroll.

Stress is killing us in so many different ways. This culture of movers and shakers that so many of us participate in has led to a very skewed view of energy. It’s led to an addiction to stress/adrenaline. It’s led to an addiction to busyness. It’s led to over-exercising, over-doing, over-drinking and…overwhelm.

If you are feeling fatigued, tired, depleted and longing for more energy, try this:

  • Take a look at the amount of energy you are expending every day.
  • Take a look at why you feel you must keep going.
  • Take a look at how you feel when you stop.
  • Take a look at how high your plate is piled.

You’re not alone. This was me. This is so many people. There is nothing wrong with being a ‘doer’. However, stopping from time to time and examining why we are doing, what we are doing and how we are feeling, from what we are doing and then making adjustments is like replacing the bowl of chips, with an apple. It’s good for you!

Don’t get me wrong. I am calmly excited about re-launching my business. I am looking forward to those moments when I get that ‘happy high’ feeling about something I’ve done. But it’s different now. These are moments to be savored like fine chocolate and in between those moments I now savor the feeling of ‘being’ calm, content and peaceful. This is energy redefined!

Did any of this strike a chord with you?  I’d love to interview you!
I am in the beginning research stage of building a web based education/coaching business just for women like you – the movers/shakers, the ‘doers’ the people who get things done but are feeling increasingly fatigued, stretched and depleted at the end of the day.

Please email me at: suzy@suzycarroll.com. Interviews take 1 hour (depending on side conversation).

What do you think? Is the level of energy you expect of yourself realistic? Share your comments below!

Cheers! Suzy

Do Everything Differently. Re-wiring Your Emotional Response System.

Published by . in Feed the Soul, Quiet the Mind

Do Everything Differently
I remember the very first time I visited a therapist. I went to find out what was wrong with me
. I didn’t understand why my former husband was annoyed with me all the time, why I felt so on edge and why I felt unsafe. I also didn’t understand that he was an alcoholic. My mother treated me the same way as well. So I went with hope that I would discover what was wrong with me and why the two people in my life that I should have felt the safest with, I didn’t.

What I learned was how to peel an onion.

I’m sure I learned more than this, but what has stuck with me all these years is the analogy of emotions, feelings, habits and beliefs being buried under layers of onion skin. To heal emotionally, to change habits and beliefs, to break behavior patterns that do not support our well-being requires peeling the layers away.

Have you ever peeled an onion that made you cry so much that you had to step away? Or if you’re a bit weird (also known as brilliant) like me you strap on swim goggles completely masking the effects of the onion fumes that cause tears.

I strapped on my swim goggles and got busy. As long as I was busy I could keep the tears that were so close to the surface away. My busyness became the mask I wore to avoid the pain I didn’t want to feel. My busyness meant I was too busy to think about how miserable I felt and instead I focused my energy towards my multi-tasking skills, my coping skills and accomplishing as much as I could in a short amount of time while always appearing happy and positive.

And then my world shattered. My dad, who so wanted to live, who I was very close lost his life to cancer. My way of honoring him was to embrace being healthy, alive and somewhere deep inside me a layer of onion peeled away. I knew in order to be “alive” I had to do something different. I didn’t know what, I didn’t know how, but I had removed my goggles and admitted to myself that I was miserably unhappy.
The first step to change is awareness.

Back then I didn’t believe in God as I had him wrapped up in “traditional religion” which isn’t my way. But when I look back on those years it was nothing short of divine intervention that started me on the path to this much better place I am today. Tough times for sure and as I was thick headed and living in the whirl wind of busyness, I received many smacks upside the head with a two by four to keep me on the path that eventually lead to here and now – awake, aware, alive and very grateful!

Peeling your onion is difficult when running around on the hamster wheel.  These days when I begin to feel stuck, or overwhelmed or feel the draw to drink again from the busyness bottle I now have the tools, in the form of questions to ask, in order to exit the hamster wheel before it completes its first rotation.
Here are three of my favorites:

What is this? Sometimes I’ll ask this for days. This is called living in the question. I don’t obsess over it. I quietly ask “what is this?” The answer comes in the most interesting ways. A conversation sparks a thought. A memory comes back. You read something that prompts an ‘ah ha’ moment. It may take minutes, hours, days or even weeks, but if you ask, and let it go, the answer will come.

Do everything differently!  When I felt myself about to respond to a situation as I always had, I would say to myself “do everything differently”. This became my theme for an entire year. It’s a fabulous question to ask in the moment because it triggers your emotional response system to pause, reflect and proceed differently.

What is the hardest thing/step/action I can take? I get butterfly’s even writing this.This is the big kahuna! This is the question that led me to speaking the words “I want a divorce”. This is the question that led me to tendering my resignation and buying a business. This is the question that led me to ten years later selling the business. And this is the question that led me to embarking on my “year of no” – my sabbatical.

This is the question you ask, then answer, then freak out and grab the closest bottle of busyness unless…you have already peeled away a few layers and have at least one person to support you through the process. With support, whether its friends or a therapist or a coach, peeling those layers away eventually reveals what is really for your highest and greatest good. With support, change happens with grace and fewer ‘two by fours’ upside the head.

One caveat around asking the ‘big kahuna’ question and support for follow through. I feel this one person is not your spouse, or partner. Share your thoughts and feelings and of course keep them in the loop. However, as your next step could very well affect them (or even be about them), even though their intentions are good, their support may be masked with their own emotions. For me sometimes it’s conversations with my spotter sisters that peel away the layers (and at times reveal that what I thought was the ‘big kahuna’ wasn’t) and I bring what I’ve learned to my husband. Or I share my thoughts with my husband and then process it deeper with my spotter sisters. Because truth be told us gals and guys process things differently.

These days I peel my onion without goggles, however not necessarily without tears. But now I know that tears mean I’ve touched what is real and precious to me and this is where self-acceptance, healing and transformation begins.

Warmly, suzy-carroll-signature 

 

P.S. The photo I used here was taken on Roatan. We found this roadside chicken skewer stand ($7 for a complete dinner), but I wanted to dine on the water. The young man overheard my comment,  picked up the plastic table and chairs, ran them across the street and served us! Different – you bet. Fabulous – absolutely!

What would you like to do differently? Comment below.

 

Spotter Groups are Support Group on Steroids!

Published by . in Feed the Soul, Nourish the Body, Quiet the Mind

Alright gals, when was the last time you said “hey, will you spot me?” You know how the guys do it at the gym – they want to lift more, push further so they ask someone to spot them. This was the premise behind a suggestion to form spotters groups by Barbara Stanny during her a Sacred Success retreat I attended a few years back.

I’m one of those people that rarely asks for help. With a smile and outwardly optimistic demeanor, even those closest to me rarely know what internal struggles are going on.  I’m also very independent and certainly don’t need any support (hah). But  “spotter” is terminology that spoke to me. I liked the idea of gathering a group of women friends with an emphasis of taking our businesses and ourselves further than ever before.

I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.  My Spotter Sistah's!
Barbara is my friend and lives close by so she was my first Spotters group recruit.  Another friend from town was at the retreat and enthusiastically said yes.  There were two other women in business I knew, who I admired. I invited both them to my home to share my vision for a spotters group.  They both agreed and now I had my group of five.

At our first meeting we discussed how we wanted our gatherings to go and decided on a time limit for each person to share. That idea quickly went out the window.  In the beginning, there was the occasional cancellation or scheduling of other commitments that caused someone to leave early.  But as we progressed, and the benefits of doing this type of work began to reveal itself, no one left early anymore! Occasionally it’s impossible to get our schedules to mesh, so we proceed forward with four of us, instead of five. However, this rarely happens.

I have experienced many life enhancing powerful experiences, but forming a spotters group, the opportunity to clean out those internal dust bunnies that collect every single month, has hands down been the most powerful and supportive experience I am blessed to have in my life every single month.

Inspired? Here are a few pointers to forming your own spotters group.

 Five appears to be the magic number.  This allows all of us to share as deep as we need to go within a reasonable time frame.

  • Interview each potential spotter sister before hand.  Are they on a similar path? Are they willing to commit to a meeting monthly? Are they comfortable with the other women you have asked? Will they honor the sacred privacy of what is shared?
  • No alcohol! This isn’t a party ladies! You are at the gym of self growth! Alcohol causes the heavier weight to wobble. This is about clarity and truth – unimpaired.
  • We meet at 4:30pm and usually wrap up by 7:00, but have been known to meet past 8:00. Heads up to your family at home! We finish when we are done, not by the clock.
  • Begin the meeting by calling in sacred space. We are fortunate to have Mary Deveneau in our group and as we are all spiritual gals, Mary begins our gatherings in a way that speaks to us (discover what speaks to you). A candle is lit and we begin.
  • Someone always says “who wants to go first”. We go with the flow.
  • We share until we are done. Then simply say “I’m complete”. Spotter sisters will offer ideas, thoughts and different perspectives. But mostly, we allow the person sharing to go as deep as they desire without interruption. Let your intuition be the lead.
  • While sharing, if the person pauses, let them be with their silence. We women are so quick to jump to “fix it” mode. As Barbara says, there is value in the void. What a joy to be in a space that is so safe, we can pause and let our thoughts form and our tears flow, instead of feeling pushed to keep speaking.
  • Don’t worry if you arrive thinking you have nothing to say. While listening something always comes up. And if not, that is fine too.
  • If possible, have a set day and time each month. And always schedule your next meeting before heading home for the evening.
  • Be prepared to go deeper and become closer to yourself and your spotter sisters than ever imagined.
  • Have a box of Kleenex close by.

Like a sister who you love, but you may not hang out with all the time, I know if the shit hits the fan at 2am in the morning, one of my spotter sisters will have my back! I’m an only child, so for me, this type of support means the world!

We have met monthly for four and a half years – wow! Our spotter sister gatherings have become the vehicle for deep personal growth that continues to take us to places we would not have imagined in business, in relationships and with ourselves!

 With deep gratitude and love to Barbara, Mary, Kristin and Teresa!
Cheers,
Suzy

 

11 Questions to Ask When Standing in the Closet Naked ~ My ‘Year of No’

Published by . in Feed the Soul, Quiet the Mind

Naked in the Closet
I used to be one of those people that could multi-task, work long hours and accomplish a lot like no other!
 When I was tired, I pushed right through. I kept my home clean; I was organized, on top of it, an awesome mom and a wife! I did it all and proudly stated “I am so busy”. After all doesn’t being busy equal success? And when a problem or concern came up, I went into hyper control mode – I’ve got this!

I was driving down the freeway of life at 100mph, so fast I had been missing the signs that said: Paradise this Way, Turn Right for Peace, Yield for Happiness, Less is More.

Around 2010 I began to wake up to the fact that my old way of doing things was no longer working. I was lucky enough to be neighbors and friends with Barbara Stanny who is a master coach, brilliant and oh so wise. Barbara was the one who brought to my attention my addiction to busyness. She was also the one who called me out on multi-tasking. I’ll never forget that moment. I was taking one of Barbara’s tele-seminar classes and answering a question when Barbara asked what I was doing. I told her I was watering the garden. I mean really – who sits on the couch with earbuds in and does nothing else but listen?! Barbara was kind, but firm. I can’t remember her exact words right now, but it was something along the lines of turn the flippin’ water off, sit and listen. That day I learned that listening with your ears, is much different than listening with your heart and soul.

2010 – 2016… Six years of being deeply mindful. Six years of learning what makes me tick and what makes me tock. Six years of diving deep into my emotional and spiritual well-being. Six years of not running away from what’s uncomfortable. Six years of learning to completely trust that I am exactly where I should be, even during challenging times. Six years of learning that everything happens for a reason. Six years of understanding that the people in my life, the circumstances in my life, my life as a daughter, a child, teenager, adult, wife, mom  – everything had prepared me for this time right now in my life.

Because…had I decided to take a year off before 2010 I would have been crazy freaked out not working/not doing. I would have pacified my anxious feelings by multi-tasking, over-doing, and generally being my normal busy, high accomplishing self.

Instead…I am using this time to clean out my internal closet. My closet had filled up. There was old stuff that I was hanging on to. There were pieces that no longer fit. There were things that didn’t even feel like me anymore. There was a lot of clutter that was clouding my ability to see which outfits actually made me feel happy. Had I not kicked my busyness addiction, I would not have been able to see or feel any of this.

I have not read the popular book by Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I have heard that she suggests to start with what you don’t like, and get rid of that.

Enter my ‘Year of No’
Anytime I hear myself say “I should” or “I have too” or “I need too”. I don’t. Blogging being one of them. I’m writing, but not posting. Posting felt like a “should”. In the world of online business, it’s a bit crazy to stop interacting (I suppose it’s a bit like removing everything from your closet and standing there naked). My nerves were on edge and I felt so vulnerable (still do at times).
But doing a ‘should’ is like wearing an outfit that doesn’t make you feel good. I chose naked.

My modus operandi has always been to push through. Another layer in my internal closet purging has been to wire a new habit. I know my physical signs of pushing. I get very “nose to the grindstone”, seriously focused and will “do” even though whatever it is, is making me grumpy – like a frumpy outfit!
Now, when I notice my old habit kicking in. I stop. Take a break. And come back to whatever the task was when I’m in the mood.
You might be thinking, that’s easy to do you’re not working, however I began this years ago when I was over-the-top busy with my store. Taking 5 minutes to breath. Go for a walk around the block. Crank up the stereo and dance. Little things, that don’t take long that will shift your energy in a heartbeat. The end result is the task that was bumming you out, will be completed with ease, instead of dis-ease.

Life gets busy and full. And just like our closets, from time to time, we need to purge and clean. We do live in a culture that supports busyness, long work hours, over-giving and over-doing. Clutter builds up in our closet. Clutter builds up in our lives. It’s up to you to grab that garbage back and start dumping.

Here are the questions I ask to help sort out  my internal clutter:

  • Do I really love this?
  • Is this necessary?
  • How does this serve me?
  • What’s the lesson I need to learn here?
  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • Why am I reacting this way?
  • Do I really need to do this now (or at all)?
  • What can I let go of to simplify my life?
  • What can I say “no” to?
  • Where can I say “yes” to me?
  • What can I do less of?


Saying no, and doing less allows for space to do more of what makes you happy.
The happier you are, the happier those around you are. By eliminating or doing less of what clutters up your life and prioritizing what is most important to you, you become the designer of your life – creating beautiful outfits that allow you to glow from the inside out!

Truth. This is a daily practice. My “Year of No” began seven months ago. The more I purge from my closet, the more stuff I see and feel. It isn’t always comfortable. At times I want to be busy, so I don’t feel the parts of me that I have stuffed away. All those questions above I ask – sometimes all of them in the same day! And the answer, providing I listen with my heart and soul, always comes!

What can you do less of?

Warmly,

suzy-carroll-signature