Photo via flickr @superba_
I am not a morning person. At all. I thrive & create best in the 7pm-2am time slot. However, the society we live in is not built to accommodate me. So I struggle through every morning and get up, drag myself into some clothes and make my way into the world of my day job. It doesn’t help that I stay up pretty late, since that’s my wide open time. Luckily, I generally realize after about 10-15 minutes of wakefulness that I’m glad to be awake and alive and move through my day in a better mood. (Just don’t wake me before I have to be up.)
This morning after my alarm went off, I was grumbling to myself, as usual. “I should have gone to bed earlier- Why do I have to get up- I hate mornings- blahblahblah”. The phrase “Rule the world” just popped into my head. My snarky inner not-a-morning-person snapped “I don’t have to get up- I don't rule the world”. And then, this wise inner voice said, “Well, you certainly can’t rule the world from bed, so getting up is a good start.”
I was surprised at this sudden nugget of wisdom from myself, especially so early in the morning. And then I realized how useful that message is. So many of us, myself included, have grand dreams of all the things we want to do and the worlds we want to 'rule'. But our fears and self-imposed limitations keep us in our metaphorical beds. We don’t rule the world because we don’t get up and start trying. We stay in our comfort zone, with our heads under the covers, and avoid all the magic and delights that await us once we’re up.
We all have a grand purpose here, that’s the very reason we’re alive. We are ALL somebody important, each and every one of us. But we’ve been told that’s selfish and arrogant and inflated thinking. So we stay in bed instead, to avoid the pressure and the guilt of not living up to those big dreams. Or because we get a glimmer of how big our dreams really are and that scares the shit out of us.
Don’t fear your bigness- Embrace it.
Wake up! Get out of your comfy bed and Carpe Diem already!
The world needs whatever special brand of magic you're full of, so start sharing it.
Is your internal alarm clock trying to wake you up so you can rule your life? What if you get up today and see what’s in store? As for me, I’m off to see my wizard for more wisdom (that’d be Inner Me, in case you’re wondering)!
If you are ready to rule your world, please check out my Work page for more info on how we could work together. Or go here to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.
I have a confession to make. I am completely addicted to crime solving/mystery/spy-type TV shows, like Psych, Lie To Me, The Mentalist, Burn Notice
, and my latest infatuation- White Collar
. And as I was delightfully absorbing episodes of White Collar yesterday, I started thinking about the life lessons we could learn from these human chameleons. (OK, maybe I was rationalizing my habit, but it’s still a valid lesson for me and maybe you need to hear it, too.)
On White Collar
, Neil is a master forger, world renowned thief, and general con man who escaped from a maximum security prison and now works as a consultant for the FBI (It’s like Catch Me If You Can, if you’ve seen that.) Like any good con artist, he’s able to walk into any situation and adapt flawlessly to reach his goal. There are three main skills that he employs constantly that I know I could learn from.
1. Complete confidence in his own abilities. He noticed forged signatures based on a single hesitation mark that no one else would see. He doesn’t make those hesitations. He forges masterpieces with no fear that anyone know that they are fake. He flashes a smile while pretending to be a delivery man, cop, millionaire, etc, and no one ever doubts him. Meanwhile, so many of us doubt our abilities in our own jobs, where we’ve been trained, where we have experience, where we excel. But we let fear and insecurity steal our confidence. We let doubt sneak in and make us look less knowledgeable than we are. Take a clue from the con man and have confidence in yourself, even if you have to fake it at first. A firm handshake, a strong voice, and a confident smile can take you further than you’ve imagined. You deserve to have faith in yourself. You work hard to be your best- accept that you are worthy and magnificent. Your audience (coworkers/clients/boss) will believe it because you do.
2. He truly listens to people. His interactions, even with complete strangers, are not the “Hi, How are you?”- now run along because I don’t really have time to hear your answer- way that many of us move through life. It’s a deeper, “What are your dreams and aspirations?”, “What lights you up?”, “Who are you really?” way of listening; one that we all long to experience. And by hearing those deeper messages- both spoken and unspoken- he’s able to tap into those desires and give people their wish in order to get what he wants from them. What if we really listened to our partners? What if you didn’t have to wonder what to get them for an anniversary because you remember that 3 months ago they mentioned a dream of going on a hot-air balloon ride? Or a concert that was coming up? Would you have fewer arguments because you were in tune with their need for extra comfort or a bit of space because you heard it in their voice? Would you hug more? Would your sex life be better?
3. Attention to detail. He remembers names of security guards and secretaries, notices what wine people order, sees what they love based on the memorabilia on their desk, and can tell you exactly what type of paper is used for specific currencies. He caught another forger with two tiny little initials iAnd those details that so many of us ignore- they’re the real fabric of life. Imagine how much more joyful life might be with that sort of attention to detail. If you greeted the receptionist by name when you go to the doctor, if you asked your coworker about the story of a great accessory she wears every day, if you brought in lunch for your boss from her favorite place. If you pay attention to these little details, you’re bound to excite and surprise the people around you, and make your life more joyful because of all the smiles you’re collecting.
I’ll keep doing more ‘research’ to see if there are any more lessons from this show and I’d love to have you share any you have in the comments. Just don’t forge any great works of art, okay? If you are interested in rediscovering your confidence, please check out my Work page for more info on how we could work together. Or go here to set up a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magic we can find.
My nephew jamming out in his cowboy hat
(Due to the popularity of my Bush Notes- Lessons Learned in Zambia
post, I’ve decided to make the Bush Notes a monthly feature.)
Music is a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me. Obviously dancing is important to me and that is one of the reasons that I enjoyed my time Zambia so much. Music is communication on a soul-deep, cellular level. As long as you can hear, you can hear a beat and feel it moving your body. Most of us have at least one song that we absolutely cannot sit still while it’s playing. You don’t need to speak the language or understand the words to feel the rhythm.
All of the languages of sub-Saharan Africa stem from the Bantu language. The Bantu language has evolved over time, as people migrated and moved away, forming 250 separate languages. But the remarkable thing that I learned is that the root for the word drum –n’goma- is still the same in all the Bantu languages. Other words have changed greatly, but the heart and soul- the word for the core of music- has remained unchanged. This astonished me, but it repeated for me something I’d already learned: music and dancing are essential to life.
"Humans walk, breathe, have a heartbeat -- we are basically rhythmic beings, and drumming taps into
that. When you create that magical space around the fire where everyone has the same information,
the same understanding of how the circle of energy works, then people become more at one with each
other, more whole. The junk falls away, people become more honest on a soul level, and can unfold
and fly. The drum circle has elements of entertaining and being entertained, but it's also the original
church. In that space people can experience real transformation." ~Jimi Two Feathers
Truly, I saw that in my own experiences. Any flat surface or empty container can be turned into an instrument at a moment’s notice. Full moon evening- there will be dancing. Bridal shower- expect dancing. HIV workshop- involves dancing. Church services- dancing. Cooking dinner- dancing. The only occasions that didn’t involve dancing were funerals, because dancing is a joyful activity. Most afternoons in the village, I’d have a spontaneous dance party with the kids who lived nearby. One of them would grab a water container and start a beat. The dancing just flowed. Someone would start singing and we’d jump in and dance. No formal organization, no ‘real’ instruments, no dance floor, just rhythm taking over in the dusty yard. Laughter and smiles were always soon to follow.
I learned so much from those kids about letting go of my inhibitions and honoring the wonders of my body (plus some fancy moves). When you dance at an event in Zambia, people will cheer and dance with you. No matter how weird or different your moves, I’ve never seen them laugh at someone who was dancing. Just celebration and joy at the connection to the beat and their bodies. There is a dance move that eight-year-old Mwelwa did that sums up what I learned. It’s a hip bump, but she’d twist her torso around to look at her bum and always look shocked that she could do such a cool thing (it looks more complicated than it sounds, but I don’t have video). It always reminded me to be impressed with cool things my body can do.
I encourage you to honor the beat inside you and the wonders of your body. Put on your favorite songs and just shake your booty. No need to do a specific step or worry about how silly you think you look. Just enjoy the motion and rhythm! Don’t forget to smile!
If you are interested in rediscovering your rhythm and are ready to work with me, please check out my Work page for more info on how we could work together. Or go here for info about a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magics we can find.
Today makes 8 years since I moved into my village in Zambia, where I spent 3 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Community Health Program. It was Easter morning, so it was quiet there while everyone else was at church. I was fresh out of my three-months of training and ready to start the new life I'd signed up for. I was terrified to be there all alone, thousands of miles from home, to figure out the language and culture and start working at a job I wasn't sure I was ready for. I was excited to try it out anyway and to make new friends. Two years later, I signed on for an extra year, so I obviously fell in love with my job and with Zambia. Clearly, that experience is one of the key events of my life and the impact on my growth and development is beyond words. Today I am full of memories and gratitude for the friends I made and the gifts I gained. I am especially grateful to the children who lived near me- they were extremely patient teachers of language and culture. Even though I was a fully capable, able-bodied adult, I never would have survived village life without the help of children under the age of 12.
Forster, Me, Mwelwa, Chabby, Ellen, Eliza- My best friends and greatest teachers.
Here are just 10 of the lessons I learned there:
1. A storytelling circle is a priceless gift. Gather ‘round the fire with your friends and share your stories. Even if you’ve told them 100 times, it’s still so much better than the reruns you could watch instead. Some of my best memories from the village are of those story times, even when I couldn't understand them, because the feeling in the circle was of love and community.
2. We are each individuals and deserve attention. In Zambia, when you walk into a meeting, you go around and shake hands with each person and go through a greeting sequence with them, asking how they are and how their family is. You don’t just wave hello at the whole bunch- that will be offensive and get you nowhere. Back in American settings, I've found that instead of just plowing into asking someone something- like at the grocery store- if I first ask them how they are and really listen, it changes the experience. It's more personal and connected and feels so much better.
3. A smile can still light up a room, even when you don’t speak the same language. And a tremendous amount of your message can be conveyed with facial expressions.
1. art time in the village! 2. Me, Patrick, Chief Chimesi's son & wife, Chief Chimesi, Parvathy (my best friend & fellow Peace Corps Volunteer)
4. Share whatever you have. I can't count the number of times I'd see two kids sharing one pair of shoes- each wearing one shoe. There is no greater example of sharing than that. And my neighbors always offered to share their food with me, no matter how little of it they had. No matter how little I think I have, I ALWAYS have enough to share with someone else.
5. Make an honest effort. In my meetings, my caveman Bemba normally got my message across (Boil water. Wash Hands. No diarrhea.) and there was always a translator to assist me when it wouldn't. But, the fact that I showed that I was trying to learn the language and making a genuine effort was always well appreciated by my audience. I always got shocked comments from people who were so moved that I'd tried, even though I murdered their language. It's always worth it to try to use your skills, even when you're not yet an expert.
6. Imagination opens the whole world up for your exploration. Zambian kids create the coolest toys. They make their own soccer balls out of plastic grocery bags and string, make real moving toy cars out of juice boxes and flip flops, and use charcoal for chalk. I was constantly in awe of their ability to create something out of nothing.
7. One woman's trash is another's treasure. I know this is a clichéd statement, but I saw it for truth in the village. I learned to look at my trash and at recycling in a whole new light. I didn't throw away plastic bottles- I saved them to reuse or to share with my neighbors. I even sent my charcoal brazier home with the kids every day after I finished cooking; because they used them to keep warm while they slept (I had enough blankets and preferred them). The ashes then came back to me and went into my pit latrine to reduce odors. Nothing wasted.
8. There is always room for joy. Laugh, sing, dance. My friends and neighbors in Zambia were not always well fed. There were periods when the harvest was poor and they were starving or sick. However, they were always laughing and singing and dancing. If they can choose joy when they're dealing with so much, how can I not choose it just because I'm having some minor trial? Also, any empty container or flat surface can be a drum. There is never a good excuse not to dance.
9. You can find love in the most unexpected of places. I met my husband in the market, in front of the used tires and miscellaneous metals. It was over a year later that we started dating, but the market will always be special for us, since that's where we first met.
Me & Joshua- 2007, Zambezi
10. NOTHING tastes as good as fresh, warm peanut butter pounded with your own two hands.
Thank you, Zambia! You are always my second home and I'm so grateful for the multitude of blessings you gave me. Thank you to all the beautiful people who are now part of my life and my heart because of that adventure! If you need support in seeking out your dreams, please check out my Work page for more info on how we could work together. Or got here for info about a free Fairy Godmother Session to dig into your dreams and see what magics we can find.