Me in Matera, Italy

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Good Bye from Cleo Patra ~

Hi everyone.  I'm very excited to tell you that I am starting a new blog today and I hope you'll follow me over.

My new blog is  Hopefully this link will take you there:  The Girl Who Notices. 

I appreciate all of you who have read my posts, especially those who have taken time to share your comments with me and I'd love to hear from you again.

Ciao! xoxo

Monday, 16 April 2012

Weight Problem

I love idioms and think about them a lot.  Today I was thinking of the phrase "carry your weight" in the context of the workplace and people doing their share.  But what does that really mean?  Is there an implication of proportionate contribution depending on your position or level of experience or is there an expectation that everyone contributes "equally" ... if that is even possible.  Wait a minute ... DO I HAVE A WEIGHT PROBLEM?

With my team at work, there are many situations where I feel like I carry the weight of the world upon my shoulders and I become critical of the people around me when I feel like they do not carry their weight and especially if their lack of planning or attention puts additional stress and pressure on me.  These situations make me feel weighed down and I find it difficult to work cooperatively and to support others as I should.

It's impossible for me to doubt others without also doubting myself.  Often I worry about my own weight.  Am I working hard enough?  Am I supporting my team enough?  How do I know if it's enough? Most importantly of all, how do I take weight off my mind?

Without question, there is dead weight in the workplace but what good does it do to obsess about that.  I feel like I need to relax and take some weight off my feet ~ stop focusing on who is or is not carrying their weight and instead just stay focused on the weight I can carry just by doing my best every day, supporting my team to the best of my ability and forget about the rest. It really just takes too much energy to deal with nonsensical yardsticks.

There is no point to throwing my weight around ~ I cannot change and can hardly influence what's happening around me; it's just noise.  What I have come to realize is that the biggest weight problem is waiting for people to change because PEOPLE DON'T CHANGE so it's time to block out the noise.  Also it is important to acknowledge that along with the dead weights, there are also heavy weights making contributions and working hard.  It's so easy to focus on what's wrong and fail to notice what's right and there certainly are people doing the right thing.  As for me, I AM doing the very best I can.  I AM constantly striving to improve and be the best me that I can be ... AND THAT my friends, is definitely worth it's weight in gold.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

White Picket Fence

I wonder how many people are actually living the life they dreamed of.

When I was a young girl, I dreamed of living in a white trimmed red house with a white picket fence.  I dreamed of a beautiful wedding with a big white dress and many bridesmaids.  I dreamed of a loving husband and lots of children.  Based on the dreams of a young girl, I am absolutely not living the life I expected.  In fact, not even one of these dreams have become my reality.  So I'm left to wonder ... what ever happened to the white picket fence?

Life is full of challenges and I have been surprised many times, not knowing what was around the corner waiting for me.  But it's through these challenges that I developed strength in character and determination.  If everything came easily, I wouldn't have to learn how to adapt, be creative and how critical it is to just keep going.

The biggest surprise for me has been the tremendous amount of loss experienced in a person's lifetime ... and I haven't even lived that long yet.  What I've learned about grief is that it can be overwhelming and consuming; it's like waves.  There are quiet calm periods; there are times when the waves are steady and persistent; and other times you can be surprised with a large wave that will simply knock you off your feet.  I have found that it is very difficult to manage grief and not let it take over my life; to recognize that it is a part of my life but not my entire life.  Easier said than done.  I'm still learning.

The white picket fence that had painted in my minds-eye as a young girl is not important to me today.  I don't know when that happened, when my priorities changed but I do somehow feel a sense of loss that absolutely NONE of my childhood dreams have been realized.  But there are also some really fabulous aspects of life that I never contemplated as a child. 

The greatest joys in my life have been found in the places I least expected: my daughter's smile, the reflection of the moon, a friend's understanding, the quiet of the morning, the warmth of a sunny day, or the beauty of a sunset.

Tis true, life has turned out nothing like what I expected.  Life is much more difficult, much more complex and yet so much more rewarding than the superficial life I imagined.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

To Thine Own Self Be True

In this era of self discovery and self improvement, we are not only encouraged but mandated to identify and examine our flaws.  It does not take us long to find out we have problems, we make mistakes and then we make a daunting list of every thing we want to change about ourselves.  We feel inferior.  We feel broken and we attempt to FIX ourselves ... CHANGE ourselves.  AND sometimes through this process we forget who we really are, we forget the amazing things that make us unique and special.
I believe in learning and growing as an individual.  I believe in investing time in figuring out who we are and what path we want to be on.  The danger, I find, is in letting ourselves fall into an identity of being broken, problematic, troublesome.  We try to turn ourselves into someone we were not meant to be and we chastise ourselves for not being willing or able to change.  Do we really need to change ourselves into an entirely different person or do we just need to tweak a few things about ourselves?
 I have felt really lost and broken, damaged beyond repair and I have been doing a lot of searching.  What I have found is that I have created this identity for myself of being a dilemma, a problem to be solved, a person who makes so many mistakes, a burden.  Along the way, I somehow forgot that I also have some really unique and "awesome" characteristics until just recently I was reminded by my daughter who wrote me a list of "Specifically Awesome Appreciations That is Mum".  In this list she reminds me that it's not only just okay to be me; I am appreciated and loved for exactly the person I am right now.

Yes, I will keep studying those roadmaps, learning and growing but I will also remember to maintain the qualities that make me authentically me.  Shakespeare said it best "This above all: to thine own self be true."

Saturday, 17 March 2012

It's a question of character

Hello friends.  I've been neglecting my blog as I have been busy working away on the restoration of my soul.  I am pleased to tell you that the restoration process is going well and I'm ready to blog again.

I have had some heaviness in my heart and my soul lately as I feel I am being judged by those around me both personally and professionally.  Maybe I'm always under the microscope of others but the soul restoration work has led me to be more sensitive to it.  I don't know.

Today, I had a bit of an AHA moment though as I came to ask myself "Perhaps it is me who should be questioning the character of those who have come forward to question my character?" and even more importantly "Who should I allow to be in the position of power to judge my character?"

The soul restoration process has involved
 #1 establishing a mission statement with values I will live my life by and 
#2 setting rules and priorities that will enable me to live my life in accordance my mission and values.  
In this new world order, am I not holding the gavel myself rather than allowing others to sit as judge or jury over my character?

It does not feel good to be judged or criticized by others especially if you happen to care about them and maybe even value their opinion.  But life is a tough gig and frankly I'm tired of being so hard on myself.  Instead, I'm working on accepting myself ~ strengths and weaknesses all in ~ and showing myself compassion.  So after a long thought provoking day, I've decided to remind myself that I am okay with who I am, I am proud of my character and strength.  I, in fact, am enough.  

Thursday, 18 August 2011

forgive [fəˈgɪv]

I've been thinking about forgiveness a lot lately, it's part of this Soul Restoration process ~ they tell you to forgive everyone, YES EVERYONE.  There have been numerous studies that have shown that people who forgive become less angry, feel less hurt, are more optimistic and become more compassionate. This all results in a reduction in stress and physical manifestations of stress.  Based on this, it sounds like forgiveness is something you actually do for yourself and not for others.

I recognize that I do not have a forgiving heart and that is something I want to change about myself.  I can intellectualize that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments.  The trouble is, I don't really understand forgiveness.  What does it even mean? How do you actually forgive?  Is forgiveness necessary?  I did some research on the internet machine to get some more insight and perspective;  what I learned has actually really helped me understand what forgiveness is and even more importantly what forgiveness is not.

Forgiveness IS the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger.

Forgiveness IS NOT excusing the behavior or actions of others. I think my biggest struggle with forgiveness has been the feeling that I am condoning hurt others have inflicted on me.  What I am coming to see though is that it's not about saying you are okay with what happened or that you agree with it, it's about letting go and moving on.
Forgiveness IS NOT forgetting or wiping the slate.  As Arthur Schopenhauer has said  "To forgive and forget means to throw away dearly bought experience."  Forgiveness does not mean you erase the past, or forget what has happened; all it means is that you are letting go of anger and pain and moving on to a better place.

Forgiveness IS NOT about reconciliation.  We have to make a separate decision about whether to reconcile with the person we are forgiving or whether maintaining distance is a healthier choice for us.

Forgiveness DOES NOT have to involve any interaction at all with the person you are forgiving.  It can be simply something that changes in your heart or for those who require something more tangible, there are several symbolic letting-go rituals that can help with the process. For me, I feel like it will be cathartic to write letters to express all of my feelings and explain why I need to let go and then I plan to have another burn party.  Last week I had an anger burn party where I burned some cards and letters that that were causing me anger.  This week I am going to have a forgiveness burn party where I burn the letters of forgiveness and release that into the universe.

Now that I have dissected and analyzed this concept of forgiveness and have been able to differentiate what it is versus what it is not, I believe that FORGIVENESS IS POSSIBLE and even further that forgiveness will change my life. There are people I will find hard to forgive, it will be even harder for me to forgive myself but I know it's time to really let go of the past and focus on the present.  I'm moving on.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Maximum Inefficiency

I am generally hesitant to actually give advice to others, especially on my blog; however, I am so confident in my ability to be in efficient that I am making an exception.  Over the past two days, I have been frantically cleaning, organizing and preparing for my Aunt to visit and even though I've know about this for a very long time, I left everything to the last minute and tried to cram way too much in leading to a lot of aggravation and frustration along the way.  So here I'm going to share with all of you my top 10 inefficiency tips, Letterman style.

Before you get started though, be sure you pick the right project because in order to ensure maximum inefficiency, it should be a project that you really do not want to do (like cleaning your house), if you enjoy doing something it can be more difficult to truly be inefficient. 

Tip #10. Set your expectations high, so high that given the time and resources you have the task is virtually unachievable.

Tip #9. Be tired before you start.  Be exhausted if possible.  In fact, don't take care of yourself at all.  Don't shower.  Don't eat.  It's important that you start off in the correct state of mind.

Tip #8. Feel sorry for yourself.  Convince yourself that everyone else on the planet is having so much fun and that they all have so much more help than you do.

Tip #7. Incorporate distractions ~ tv, music, telephone, texting ~ whatever distracts you most will do.

Tip #6. Create extra work as you go ~ spilling, dropping, breaking.  It doesn't matter what just as long as it creates chaos and/or frustration and is quite difficult to clean it up.

Tip #5. Keep supplies like cleaners and paper towels and especially the garbage can in a separate area from where you working, on an entirely different floor if you can.  This way you will spend lots of time and energy running around the house.  If you are inconsistent with where you keep it, you can also waste a lot of time looking for things which is excellent in this process.

Tip #4. Don't finish anything the first time around.  For example if you take dishes out of your bedroom, don't take them to the kitchen and put them directly in the dishwasher.  Maybe make a pile outside your door and then add an item to your list to take them to the kitchen later.

Tip #3. Plan a LOT.  Make lists and plan out how long you think every task will take, make schedules for yourself and repeat this process often throughout the period of time you are working on this project.  Some people underestimate the importance of planning to the inefficiency process but trust me, it works.

Tip #2.  Add in extra projects, especially ones you've been avoiding long term and aren't very important at this moment.  This can include things like washing blinds, cleaning the dust in the tiny little fan ducts with a cotton swab, clean out and organize your pantry, sort shoes.  As long as the task has minimal impact on the final outcome then it qualifies under this category and will assist you in prolonging your project.

Tip #1. And my number one tip for maximum inefficiency is to spend a lot of time thinking about how you will blog about the experience.   Try to do this in the final hour or two of your project deadline.  Distracting yourself from the task at hand when you have the least amount amount of energy and highest level of stress is sort of like icing on the proverbial inefficiency cake.

Please remember my friends that creating maximum inefficiencies in your day-to-day life is a process, it will not happen overnight.  You must practice and hone these skills but if you stick to it, I have confidence that you too one day may be as inefficient as me.