Friday, September 3, 2010

Do as I say, not as I do

The phrase "Do as I say, not as I do" is usually associated with parents and children. But, for those of us who advise other people in some capacity, it takes on a broader meaning. Recently, this has been a theme for me, not only in my role as a mother to two girls but also as a friend and lightworker.

I'm pretty good at telling other people what to do and how to do it when it comes to dealing with issues that pop up in their lives. (Yeah, I'm bossy that way - it probably comes from being the older sister to two brothers.) I think, at least some of the time, I give decent advice. With respect to my kids, it's sort of my job to tell them what to do. And what not to do.

But, truth be told, I take very little of my own advice when it comes to running my life. Which means I haven't been eating well, sleeping enough, keeping myself organized or doing the creative stuff (like writing) that keeps me sane. And because of this, I'm struggling with the fact that - like it or not- I'm a role model for my kids and, to an extent, my clients.

A quick side note about the role model thing . . . I'm currently in school to become a massage therapist. At school, we have those horrible vending machines that sell unhealthy sodas and snacks. Lacking will power and loving Mountain Dew makes it difficult for me to stay away from that particular sugar/caffeine infusion on the days when I'm at school. One day I let it slip in front of my daughter that I was drinking Mountain Dew at school. She knows how bad it is healthwise. We don't keep soda at home. I rarely let the kids drink it - I'm constantly extolling the virtues of water as the preferred beverage. She, rightfully, got ticked off at me. Then I got ticked off because, frankly, sometimes it sucks being a role model. (And because I was stupid for saying something in front of her. I mean, it's ok for parents to have a few secrets from their kids, right?)

It boils down to this: How can I counsel people on how to be healthier, take better care of themselves, be more mindful about how they spend their time and live more passionate lives when I'm not always walking the walk?

Several weeks ago I was whining on Twitter about the fact that I don't follow my own good advice and my very smart friend, Lisa Miles Brady, stopped me in my tracks with this question: What advice would you give me if I was having the same problem?

It took me awhile to figure out a good answer to that question. And here it is: stop trying to do it all on your own. It's not only children who benefit from being part of a village. As adults, we benefit from being part of a tribe. What good is having friends if you can't turn to them in a time of need? And yet, this is so hard for me. I love to help people. With my friends I try to reach out to help even when I'm not asked. But when I need help, I don't always reach out. And I'm really good at pretending everything is hunky dorey (even if I can sometimes admit - at least on this blog - that they're not). My friends don't always know when I need help even though I know some of them would reach out to me if they knew.

There's a reason that we go to healers and life coaches or ask friends for advice. It's not always because we don't know what to do or how to heal ourselves or how to kick our business up a notch. It's because we often need a different perspective to help us choose the right path out of the many before us. When we're stuck, it's usually because we're too emotionally involved in our own lives to see clearly. If you're wandering in the forest, it's great to have someone else with you to rise above the trees and point you in the right direction. Or at least give you an idea of the obstacles you might face if you choose a particular path.

One of the catalysts for this realization came from recent discussions I've had with the lovely and smart Gina Loree' Marks at Embody Grace. (By the way, Gina has been the catalyst for several good things in my life over the past year or so. She's part of the reason I'm in massage school and has helped me along my path in ways big and small. She's one of my heroes. You should all go check her out.) Gina is working on a new business helping healers develop a web presence. She asked for volunteers to help her figure out what healer-types might want and need in this area. Because I love to help and because this is an area where I'm struggling, I volunteered. We chatted on Skype for awhile about what I want to do with my web presence and the issues I'm facing.

Gina noticed during our talk that I need help with something other than my web presence. She sensed that I'm struggling with some of the most basic issues having to do with starting a business as an independent service provider. As a former corporate lawyer, I was comfortable with stuff like forming the corporate entity, getting the paperwork done and hiring an accountant. But I'm floundering with marketing myself, planning a budget on a freelance-type income and coordinating the several different income-generating projects I'm currently working on. Since Gina is a Shiatsu practitioner with her own practice and has been down this road before, she's in a great position to help me through this particular forest.

It isn't that I don't know or can't figure out the nuts and bolts of those things on my own. I could, intellectually at least. But I was stuck in a rut - paralyzed by fear and inertia and a general sense of overwhelm. So Gina offered to help me by being a sort of "accountability partner." She's breaking down the tasks for me into bite sized pieces that I can handle. And she tells me that it's ok if I don't have all the answers now. She reminds me that just putting one foot in front of the other is all I need to do right now. But she also holds me accountable. She reminds me (gently, of course) when I'm not addressing an issue I should be thinking about. We're in the early stages of this partnership and so far it's going great. And once I get a better sense of the services I'm offering, who my "right people" are and, just generally, what I'm all about these days, then we'll work on my web presence. One thing at a time. Or maybe two things.

And because I just love synchronicity, I have to mention that while I was working on this post, I read this great post over at The Complete Flake. LaVonne was talking about hitting a wall and not knowing what to say or do next. Instead of shutting down, she reached out to a friend who helped her move forward. It made her realize the importance of this: "Ask, and allow others to help you, encourage you, love you." That's what it's all about.

We don't have to do everything all by ourselves. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
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