I should be shouting this from the rooftops except I don't like heights. :) But seriously, for someone who has always been late like me this information has been a miracle. It might be your miracle too.
At first it was running to get the bus.
I can still feel the pavement smashing beneath my flats as I'm huffing and puffing to the bus stop in a mild panic. I did not want to slink home and tell my mom I needed a ride to school–again.
Later it was running to get to the Michigan State University Library to open it on time.
After four years of tardiness trauma they reluctantly let me go. I was a fantastic worker once I was there but having patrons stamping their feet in the cold waiting for me to unlock the door at 8:00am was not OK. I agreed with their decision even though it broke my heart. I loved that job.
I was trying to be on time. I wanted to be on time. But no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't do it.
It also didn't matter what I was doing.
Whether it was a fun activity or a dreaded activity–I was late and nothing I tried changed it. Not timers. Not starting earlier. Not putting out my clothes the night before. Not any of the 986 self-help solutions I gave a go. As the years ticked by being late took a toll on my self-esteem. I secretly wondered if something was wrong with me. I thought I was a good person but if I was, why did I keep people waiting? Maybe I wasn't such a good person after all.
But then I learned this ONE THING and everything changed.
I was reading up on Myers-Briggs again. It's my new sparkly interest, after all. One article said (I can't recall which): If you are late all of the time you might be a "P" in the Myers-Briggs Personalty Typing System. (I know I am. I'm ENFP.) "Perceivers" are people who like things to be open-ended. They like possibility. They may go on a vacation without an itinerary or pack at the last minute because they don't want to limit their options.
But that's not why they are late.
(They are also not late because they don't care. They may care very much.)
Perceivers are late because they think they can fit in "one more thing" before they go, and that thing takes more time than they have to spare.
It's an issue of calculating project-time.
It's also an issue of being deadline-inspired, which Perceivers are.
So it's 15 minutes until I have to go somewhere and, deadline looming, I'm suddenly inspired into taking an action: I know! I'll do the dishes. Or clean out that bookshelf. Or sort the recycling that's piled up. Or write back that friend. But that task ends up taking 25 minutes and now I'm 10 minutes late.
Come to find out this happens every time.
So the solution is: DON'T DO ANYTHING.
It's 20 minutes until I have to get in the car? Stop. No more projects. No last-minute things. Either get in the car and be early or sit and wait by the clock. Just don't entertain any of those ideas clamoring for attention now.
It was a strange thing getting to a meeting at someone's house on time today. We ended up chatting for a good while before the others showed up. I didn't mind, it was great hanging out and I felt good about myself. I had actually shown up on time with that easy grace I had so envied in others my whole life.
I had finally arrived.
I have a puppy now who is old enough now for walks. It's so adorable. He's all fluffy, tail wagging. But since he is still trying to eat everything he finds like his harness, the leash and.... oh, hello bicycle! I keep my eyes on him.
Way down there.
Near the sidewalk where his little legs carry him.
I was half-way around the block one day when I felt this sad feeling wash over me. I knew this feeling. I had felt it so many times before.
This is the looking-down sadness of having little kids.
They say: go out in nature to be uplifted but you don't have to go outside to feel uplifted. Right now, wherever your are, lift your eyes. Not your head, just your eyes. Keep your head still and look up.
Now try to think a sad thought while your eyes are looking up.
HA! It's magic! Strange, crazy eye magic!
I'm sure there is some scientific reason for this about eye positioning and how it relates to the brain but I did a quick search and I can't find it and if I don't post this right away the kids will find me and this information will sit forever in "drafts".
Quickly now. I CAN HEAR THEM COMING.
So I'll let you Google that later in your free time but even without the footnotes to prove it I have unabashedly tackled many of my friends and tested the theory on them.
When they look up they, too, feel better.
Years ago, somewhere around my second child, I remember my husband asking me if I wanted to go to Europe. I remember saying, "Not with my kids–I want to look up." I imagined the trip as it would probably be, me holding little hands getting to know all of the gutters and sidewalks of Paris intimately while the breathtaking church steeples faded into the distance behind me, unseen. There was a sad little violin playing in the distance.
I was probably exaggerating.
(I have been known to do that.)
It might have been great.
(I do adore my kids.)
But once in a while when I go on a vacation all by myself and I walk through the airport all by myself I spend the entire trip looking up. Into faces. At people. At things. At the window. Out the window. At the life all around me. I'm usually that one person in the airport grinning like a goofball for no apparent reason.
"Oh, sure, anyone is happy when they are on vacation!" you might counter.
But right now I'm here, in the house, in my puppy jeans (already full of tiny puppy-teeth-sized-holes), needing a shower and having to go to the store and I look up and...
So if you feel down and you are busy parenting little ones who are much shorter than you, it might be that you are just looking down. A lot.
Also, check out where you hold your smartphone all day long.
I sometimes wonder what would happen if we all held them a little higher. Kids. Teens. Adults. The world.
What if everything we did with our eyes lifted them–and us–up?
I just spent a week this June camping in ceremonial community.
You can imagine the work involved living outdoors with no running water or bathrooms. Add to that ceremony and kids and people moving through their personal growth process and you could have a hard week.
But somehow it all flowed together wonderfully.
"This is what we are heading towards" we were told at the end of the week. "This is the Coming Together that is our future".
I looked around the circle and I felt incredible peace. So many different people with different abilities coming together in harmony.... this feels like Home.
And then something struck me to my core.
"You did a good job shifting from the "I to the We" this week", we were told.
"I to We."
That simple phrase rang through me like bells, resonating deeply into every part of me.
Isn't that why we do this?
I have been in many circles before.
Circles for ceremony and healing. Circles for celebration and for fun. In the end we all feel better because we feel more connected. We feel more a part of everything from each other to the Universe.
We re-join the "We".
I got back in the car feeling happy and complete, totally unaware of the epiphany that was yet to come when someone casually mentioned:
"You can't have a strong 'We' without strong 'I''s."
And you can't, can you?
Imagine a week of camping with a bunch of people who were whining, feeling like victims or angry at the mosquitoes.
No fun, huh?
Hard to get things done.
But this past week of camping worked so well because all of us were strong in ourselves. We held good boundaries and we asked for what we needed. If one person couldn't help with the dishes because they had children to put to bed it was OK - someone else stepped up.
Whoever was available to help pack did.
Whoever felt inspired to take all of the children to play in the creek did.
Whoever felt called to assist someone in their personal growth with a conversation or a hug did.
There were no tallies kept or grudges held. Everyone focused on what they could offer and did their best.
No one played the victim, sacrificed themselves by lifting something heavy when they felt overheated or by trying to do what they could not.
Everyone was an "I" that was standing tall. That's what created such a strong "We".
It goes both ways.
Sometimes we are focusing on learning how to be an "I"and our current path is an inner one instead of an outer one.
Sometimes we are learning how be a We. We work to release our fear of connection and learn how to receive the love, community and respect we are a part of.
But in the end, balance is the key.
You can't enjoy a wonderful "We" without being a strong "I". Otherwise you give too much and the group or relationship overrides your inner knowing, leaving resentment and exhaustion behind.
You can't be a happy "I" without a "We". Otherwise a big ego and constant disconnection leave you feeling angry and unfulfilled.
But together, with both a strong "I" connected to a sense of "We" the force created is unstoppable.
Everything can be accomplished. Anything can happen.
This is why war rallies a country. The need for self-protection makes a person stand strong in their "I" and the unification of the country gives a sense of "We". It's a powerful combination.
But we have had enough of war. Now we are learning how to do this in peace.
You are not selfish to work on yourself.
We need you to be strong. We need you to know what you want and don't want in your life. We need you say "no thank you" to things that don't work for you.
And we need you to have the courage to say "yes" to the things that do.
"We" need you, beautiful "I".
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