Whether we are talking about a project, a routine, or a whole life, there is something very satisfying about a reset. To stop and capture the status of our situation and regroup before reengaging, in my opinion, is a worthwhile pause. Sometimes this looks like brainstorming, journaling, or rewriting a task list. Other times, it may look like cancelling plans, clearing out a garage or office or pantry. A fresh list, outline, or shelf can go hand in hand with a fresh outlook. Spring is just around the corner. What will your reset be?
I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately getting various things in order so that I can fully focus on my memoir revisions. There is something about having my home, calendar and to-do list in good order that frees up my mind to write.
Doing deep work requires we stay in the moment. I don’t know about you, but loose ends tend to pull me right out of the moment. I feel fully prepared for this week of diving right in and doing the work to the best of my ability.
Last week I shared a blurb written for my book https://danalaquidara.com/2023/02/13/minimal-monday-46/
And as promised, here is another one:
“Dana’s book is a moving story of alienation from the child’s point of view. It is heartbreaking to see her try to make sense of the trauma she was subjected to as a girl. Everyone who works with children of divorce should read this book so they understand why a child may not “admit” to wanting to see a beloved parent and how loyalty conflicts can last well into adulthood.”
–Ginger Gentile, Director of the Erasing Family Documentary and Creator of Reversing Parental Alienation Consulting
In another month or so, I will be getting my manuscript back from the publisher and will have a week to make the requested changes. During that week, I imagine myself hiding away in order to fully concentrate on the revisions. That act of complete focus on one project is a luxury and a gift in modern times. I somehow feel both intimidated by the task and elated at the thought of it. Do you know what I mean?
In the meantime, each week I will share one the blurbs I’ve received for my memoir, YOU-KNOW-WHO. Here’s the first one:
Family custody stories invariably focus on the dramas surrounding real-time battles over children, the tug-of-war syndrome. But what of the long-term effects? And how those effects shape those same children long into adulthood? In YOU-KNOW-WHO, Dana Laquidara chronicles a different kind of trauma, the time-released microbursts that continue to resonate not for years but for decades. The author’s mother was exiled from her life when she was just four years old (and the child’s life was “cleaved into before and after,” as Laquidara so searingly writes), long before academic and legal studies into Parental Alienation had gained traction. It has taken the author a lifetime to process, to understand, to heal. Her journey is one that she recounts with skill and compassion and boundless love.
–William J. McGee, author of HALF THE CHILD, a novel about child custody and abduction
Sometimes doing our best means having a day in which we make great strides on a personal or work project, or help someone else out, or simply stick to our new improved routine and habits.
Other times, doing our best may mean simply prioritizing one thing, and doing that.
Today was a “one thing” day for me. After a lengthy, unpleasant morning appointment, all I wanted to do was go home and rest for the remainder of the day. And I did rest. But at some point, I started to feel like I would regret doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Doing just one thing felt doable and sensible.
So I brought my laptop to the couch where I’d been having my do nothing day. I organized some book edits. That felt good, productive, painless. It was just one thing. But it led to another. And another. Now here I am writing this blog post, because it’s Monday after all.
When we feel like doing nothing, sometimes that is what we need. And having too many things to do can be overwhelming. But I find if I pick just one thing, and do that, it starts a momentum, and other things follow.
Everyone can do just one thing, even on a bad day.
We are just six days away from the new year and many of us are thinking about new goals, old habits, and what we want 2023 to look like. The fact that next year will bring plenty that I have no control over, is reason enough to do my best at what I can control.
For these things, I have made a short list:
- My Thoughts Years of consistent meditation has helped me to be in charge of my own mind and I am going to need this skill more than ever.
- My Beliefs Aren’t beliefs the thoughts that we think over and over? Beliefs were mostly planted by others when we were children, but now we get to consciously choose them. I want to choose wisely and strategically.
- My Habits My daily habits seriously make or break me. The seemingly small things I do or don’t do each day determine if I am in the flow of life or not and this makes all the difference. One thing I know I need less of in 2023 is making exceptions for overriding good habits; It’s a special occasion, just for today, I’ll get back to it tomorrow, this won’t matter much are all phrases I want to leave behind. They are a slippery slope because life hands us too many excuses for exceptions. What I want more of is planning for success, making good habits easier, automatic, and immediately rewarding.
- My Environment Last but never least, the environment we create for ourselves either nurtures or hinders everything else. It affects our thoughts, beliefs, habits and energy – how we feel.
Perhaps the golden question for the new year should be How Do You Want to Feel? Then let your answer guide you.
If you believe that everything is connected, then it makes perfect sense that doing even one small thing can improve everything else.
Let’s just take the example of our home or work environment. If it is messy, chaotic or disorganized, it tends to make us feel lazy, lethargic or overwhelmed. Cleaning it up leads to clarity, and calm. If we feel peaceful and clear-headed, we do better work, make better choices, perhaps even eat better. We feel better.
While working to meet my writing deadline, I’ve let some other things go for a while; seemingly less important things like chores and organizing my workspace. I noticed this was fine for a few days in a row, but then I’d hit a wall. I needed to simply give time to the tasks I’d fallen behind on in order to have clarity of thought and continue being productive. Doing so felt like a shot of good energy to my creative brain. It was so worth the time it took to rewrite my writing task list, clean off my desk, put the laundry away, update my calendar and return the pertinent emails or calls.
Taking fifteen minutes, an hour or even a day to regroup can really recharge our mindsets, our energy, our motivation; it’s all connected.
I have been thinking about the ways in which we do or do not honor our commitments to ourselves. I think this is an area that I sometimes struggle with. I am great at honoring my commitments to others. If I say I am going to do something, you can bet I will follow through. But although I keep some commitments to myself, I have broken others on many occasions.
Why is that? Why is my word to others more important than my word to myself? This is something I am working on changing right now. I believe that this one skill- prioritizing our own commitments to things we say we want to do for our own lives- is a meta skill that can uplevel our whole lives.
Exercising this skill builds a sense of self-trust which is so important, but what if the habit of putting others’ wants, needs, or expectations above our own is so ingrained, so seemingly natural, that it is hard to change?
Here is an empowering thought that I feel is helping me:
Every time I make a choice to honor my own purpose, health or wellbeing, and then follow through, I am ultimately adding light to the world. And every choice that stifles or limits my potential denies those benefits to others as well.
Honor yourself first and see how your light expands.
*Note: About three weeks ago, I mistakenly included a post about a new site with book information. That note was meant for readers of my old site. This blog which is part of danalaquidara.com is indeed my current site and it will include all updated book news. You are in the right place! Read on.
Most of the time, before we can take on the world, we need to deal with what is right in front of us. It is my experience that in order to meet our goals and aspirations, or to simply live by our values, it serves us well to narrow our focus.
I don’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t have big audacious goals or that we need to play small. I mean that taking the obvious, sometimes monotonous, small steps is the surest way to clear our own path.
These small steps could mean meal planning, or spending just fifteen minutes on a project, or even cleaning out a closet. It could mean resting or making a to-do list or doing the laundry. We’ve got to manage our selves and our immediate environment if we are to be any good to others.
I can think of at least three well-known creatives who called out to God in times of desperation, from their bathroom floors. Why do women tend to cry on bathroom floors? It’s kind of gross. Anyhow, the answers to their cries came as directions or powerful urges to GO TO BED, and CLEAN YOUR ROOM.
We make life more complicated than it has to be when we try to skip the next right thing; the thing that is so simple, so small, that we are tempted to dismiss it. When we do this, we miss out on the clarity, momentum, and peace that is meant for us.
“At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
I love that quote and I believe in it with my whole heart. Any worthwhile commitment made with sincerity and certainty, even if we haven’t spoken it aloud, will reveal all manner of support. But it seems that something much less fortunate can also be true:
The moment you commit to something big or new or scary, your reptile brain tries to keep you safe by sabotaging you.
How can both of these things be true? Aren’t they contradictory?
When I finally knew with absolute certainty that I would launch my memoir into the world, I found a publisher. And when I agreed to a deadline, all sorts of other “needs” cropped up; I suddenly needed to help others, to travel, to throw a party, enter a race, and cook nightly gourmet meals.
The best explanation that I can come up with is this: Every day, and perhaps even every moment, we are choosing between our higher and lower selves. Just because our higher selves set a valuable goal and we have the means to achieve it, doesn’t mean our lower brains won’t try to lure us back to safety, familiarity, or laziness. And it really gets tricky when the so-called distractions are good, noble pursuits.
How do we know when we are engaging in “shiny new object” syndrome (SOS), and when we are simply adding more fun, meaning, or creativity to our lives? When is it self-sabotage and when is it just living?
I think that is something we all have to answer for ourselves. I’d love to ponder this more, but you’ll have to excuse me; I’ve got a party to throw.
My twin granddaughters are turning five, and they requested a cheetah-rainbow cake. At first, I wasn’t sure if it would be a cake with cheetahs and rainbows on it, or a rainbow in cheetah pattern, or a cheetah in rainbow pattern. I told them I wanted to be surprised. Turns out the frosting was made in a rainbow-colored cheetah pattern. Why didn’t I think of that?
I love how these little girls know what they like and what they want. With their lives still a blank canvas, they are expressing themselves authentically; the world hasn’t had a chance to direct their paintbrush, doling out preferences or critiques that cast doubt on their own desires.
Some of us were lucky enough to reach adulthood with our own intrinsic motivation in tact, which is amazing. Many others developed self-doubt under the influences of society, rigid parenting, or other outside forces that teach a still-developing person to seek the approval of others; this path comes with a lot of cognitive dissonance, as we want or feel one thing but say or do another, for the sake of acceptance. Worse than that is when we no longer feel the dissonance because we’ve adopted others’ demands or preferences as our own.
I am not at all shunning societal norms or construction criticism or mature guidance; all of that has its proper place. It becomes a problem only when we become so outer-focused that we lose touch with our own compass. I love the wise strategy of asking children what they think of their own various projects, choices, outfits, artwork, instead of just doling out a compliment or opinion. Children growing up trusting themselves is a beautiful thing.
When it was time to cut the birthday cake, my granddaughters didn’t seem to notice or care what anyone else thought of it. They loved it. They had confidently made their choice and enjoyed every rainbow-cheetah bite.
Oh the simplicity of that. I hope they hold on to it forever.