Monday, August 18, 2014

Sabbatical - Day 1: Being Accountable to Self

I am a hard worker.  I always liked school. I enjoy investigating projects. I like finding solutions. I enjoy my work and I enjoy the people with whom I work. 

I am reliable. 

. . . to other people.

On day one of my sabbatical I actually set my alarm! Because I am using this year to learn how to be accountable to myself.  I have dreams and visions of how I want to lead my life, interact with others and change the world (one dance at a time).  I have always used my obligations to others as motivation for my work. And, this is not a bad thing. I have made great choices and accomplished a lot by living my life this way (See Blog post Healthy Obligations). 

What is new and wonderful (and scary) about this upcoming year is that I will have a chance to return to the childlike wonder I remember in my formative years.  I am a product of Montessori schooling (for my k-5 years).  I distinctly remember my classroom for grades 1-3 taught by Miss Susan Lindert.  I loved learning. I was allowed to love learning. I was given the space to discover, imagine, and play.  The Montessori classroom was based on the work cycle.  I had my own list of tasks each day-- reading, cursive/writing, math, geography.  I got to choose which to start with, and I was allowed to spent as much time on each of them as I needed, keeping in mind the goal of finishing all of the tasks.  I always finished my work cycle with tons of time left over.  And, it was at this point that I was set free to be anything, to learn anything, to play and discover. 

The Montessori classroom was covered in materials for discovery.  Displays on Egypt, waterways, farm animals, musical bells, books, and books, and books, plants, languages, etc.  And, I could do anything I wanted.  I often got sucked into my Laura Ingalls Wilder books or would dream stories in my notebook.

I remember wandering around the room and just looking at the possibilities

Looking back I see that the most important lesson was not the content I learned, but the sensation of free-form learning that I remember. I had hours each week in which I was only accountable to myself, my interests, my passions, my drives.   

I was never burdened with a feeling of "I have to. . . "

Waking up this morning, I felt transported to Miss Lindert's classroom again.  Excited to learn, to do the work, to discover.  These drives are part of my nature.  They are real, and they are wonderful. I don't need to worry about being accountable to myself.  I can trust my internal passion for discovery to move me forward.

Interested in reading additional posts related to this topic? Click below.

The Burden of Expectation (First day of Summer before my year long Sabbatical)
The Power to Choose
Time: Your Most Valuable Currency
Agency: Remembering You Have It 
Finding Success
Giving Yourself Permission
On Being a Better Over-Achiever

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Patience for Change

How often it is that we desire change? And equally often we desire things to stay the same?  I find that when I am sick, I can not wait to feel better.  I so badly want my condition to change that I am doubly miserable beyond the fact that my nose is running or my stomach hurts.  Likewise, when I am  lounging in bed in the morning, I so desperately want time to stand still so I can linger endlessly among my pillows. 

Buddhism is based on the principle that everything is always changing and yet (in its very Zen way) that everything is ultimately the same. Ugh. This doesn't help clarify life at all!

But, the idea does encompass the quandary of our subjective experience of time and how we suffer when things change and suffer when things stay the same.  Today I was feeling somewhat unwell and I wanted desperately to feel better FAST! But, I had taken the medicine and all I could do was wait.  I needed time to pass in order for my condition to change.  I couldn't speed it up (nor of course could I slow it down). Life moves along at its own pace.  Our bodies take time to heal, medicine takes time to work, and beautiful sunsets will come to an end. 

When I ask myself for patience, I am asking myself for two things really: 

First, I am reminding myself that change takes time. I remind myself that I can trust in the inevitability of change and rest assured that circumstances and the current experience will change. 

Secondly, I want to feel at ease during my wait.  Having patience for me doesn't mean suffering every second that I feel terrible until I feel better.  Having patience means having compassion for my current state while I am experiencing said challenge or discomfort. 

By observing my sensations and my inner experience, I notice that while I may not feel great, I don't have to suffer dually in my desire for change. I can watch myself and allow the process to take its course with understanding, acceptance and forgiveness.  It is a practice. As all aspects of Buddhism and life are.  We detach from the desire for change (or non change) in order to find ease in the way things are.  By seeing things as they are, we have a better chance of responding with sensitivity, compassion and resilience.  

Have you practiced patience today?