Start the Conversation

Some days (especially gray, cold and rainy days) I begin to feel very overwhelmed.

There are too many “tabs” open and my brain can’t seem to manage all of them. I want to get my thoughts out, but they seem incomplete or just too big. Waves of helplessness hit me when I see something that needs fixed, but I don’t have direct control over the fixing. I feel so small compared to the massive population of Earth – how can I make a dent?

Start the Conversation -

I have been involved in some great dialogue lately that has helped to shrink the feelings of helplessness. That dialogue has occurred because someone decided to Start the Conversation. Seems easy enough, but then things come knocking at your door – fear, guilt, procrastination, perfection, vulnerability, etc.

The only way to push past this is to open the door – and your mouth.

1 – Talk (or draw) it out with yourself. Look in the mirror and start talking. Or grab a sheet of paper and create a mind map of all those “tabs” that are open. I do this on a regular basis and it helps me tremendously.

2 – Find a listening ear – someone else to hear you if you don’t like talking to your reflection. It can be informal conversations with a friend or coworker or more structured discussions. Some of the best dialogues recently have been with my clients. This is what I LOVE most about my work – I can literally help people see all those “tabs”. Once you empty your brain it is amazing how simple everything seems and a path forms right before you.

3 – Find an organization that has similar thoughts and share it with them. Maybe they have a workshop, meeting or networking event you could attend. Do they have a website or social media page where you could share your comments. I started this post (conversation) because of a thread started in the Rock It network I belong to.

4 – Can’t find an organization you jive with? Well then start your own platform to share the thoughts near and dear to you. I can guarantee there will be at least one other person who was thinking the same thing. All they needed was someone to Start the Conversation.

Sometimes we just need to feel heard and then the Idea Seeds we planted begin to grow WILD!

Lately I have worked with some great individuals and organizations that are open to hearing thoughts and collaborating with their communities to make the world a little better. These are just two examples of visuals I created to help others Start the Conversation.

NIFI Map NCDD 2014 -

The NCDD, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, is all about dialogue – its even in their name. This map is part of the 2014 Field Mapping Project which literally started a conversation at their annual conference.

5 Things Paeyc -

Paeyc, The Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, is the voice of education for Pittsburgh youth. This infographic summarizes what they heard from a local neighborhood and promotes some available resources.

Throw Out the Bucket

Over the summer I had a strategic session with the very talented artist, Jill Lena Ford. Jill also happens to be a part of my Awesome Family – she is my little sister. When I say “little” it isn’t by much since we are only 13 months apart – Irish Twins!

Something always seems to happen when we put our heads together – it must be the (Irish) twin synergy. This session for Jill was just as clarifying for me. It did take ALL summer to reach the clarity, but I got there. The Idea Seeds needed some time.

Just last week Jill showed me one of her new paintings that formed after our session and its amazing how her vision mimics mine – or is it visa versa.

What was so clarifying? My Bucket.
You know the one you are supposed to fill with the right mix so you can have a balanced, meaningful and stress free life. This is what MY bucket looked like.

My Bucket Before -

So how did this happen?!

I was drowning in the daily maintenance of life – we all do it…right? (please say you do this too!)
Whether it is the physical maintenance of keeping the garage clean and free from the piles – For Donation, No Use For This But Refuse to Part With It, Will Get to This Next Weekend, etc. Or the maintenance of taking time to reset your mind and body through exercise, meditation or even a 5-minute Me Time break. And don’t forget about all those relationships to maintain – husband, children, family, friends, community, etc.

My bucket was being filled with important things, but I had so many that I couldn’t see them and was drowning – not to mention taking everything (and everyone?) down with me.

So I threw out my bucket.

After -

Now I stand in the middle of my life with the contents all around me – organized rather neatly, but with room to move.

It may not sound very glamorous or fun, but I realized that everything which is part of our lives requires maintenance – it is essential to surviving, but more importantly to thriving. Hmmm…there definitely wasn’t any room in my bucket for thriving. Or it was hidden at the bottom somewhere. Now I know what needs maintained in my daily life, but I also am able to see out further in the distance.

For me thriving wasn’t choosing more things to go in my bucket, it was about taking a look at the things in my bucket and finding ways to expand what was there. As I maintain, ideas form for easier, better ways to do things and are put into practice. I feel life expanding. It starts small but grows quickly – an app to track expenses easier, an inquiry to partner on a project instead of doing work I don’t like, an overdue chat with a friend, etc.

I have started to let go of old ways or tasks that do not serve a purpose and improve what is already there. This allows for space – to reflect, to fill with a meaningful new thing or to leave it alone. Beyond the ability to refine what already exists are strands of ideas – not even tangible enough to create a verbal description. I have given myself enough space to allow those idea seeds some growth – maybe a new business idea or starting a new family tradition.

Idea Seed -

I can give it some time to grow and before I know it those seeds will drift into an area I can expand on and then it may find itself in the normal maintenance of my life. And it will begin again, but everything is out in the open where I can see it, nurture it and know when its ready to move to the next level.

This new perspective and clarity is refreshing!

Is there something you can expand in your daily maintenance to make it easier, more efficient or maybe obsolete it?
How do you leave room to let those idea seeds grow?