What's The Point?

Do you ever find yourself at work or in life wondering: What is the point of all of this?

I certainly do.  And I've spent countless hours, read hundreds of books, and poured my heart out in the pages of my journal trying to answer that question.  What's the Point?

I had a conversation with a guy at a bar years ago about our career aspirations and life in general, and he said something that I'll never forget.  "I always knew that I was meant to work on something special."

Although I had never put it into those words, I realized that I had always felt the same way - like a yearning and a knowing deep in my soul.

I want to work on something special.

I think we all long to do something special.  We all long to do meaningful work that makes us happy and makes the world a better place.  We all long to do something special in our private lives, to BE someone else's someone special.  We all want to feel love and acceptance and value.

The bar guy told me all about his job at a national security complex, and how he was finally doing his something special; he was living his dream.  Despite the trials and the difficulties of his work, he made a point to keep the idea that he was doing something special at the front of his mind.  I'm sure that was great motivation for him when the job got hard, or boring, or mundane... he just checked in with himself and remembered that THIS IS MY SOMETHING SPECIAL.

Sometimes I struggle with finding this kind of meaning in my day-to-day life.  I wonder WHAT'S THE POINT?  I want to help others, and have a purposeful existence.  I enjoy my work enough, but I don't always see an immediate connection between what I'm doing and how it is making the world a better place.  I have trouble sometimes stepping back and looking at the big picture of not just what I'm doing, but why I'm doing it. 

Last week, I was able to make that connection in a real and immediate way at work, and it felt amazing.

I met with one of my company's school clients to select interior finishes for their project.  The project manager and I sat with the school principal for hours, pouring over tiny squares of fabric and color, making sure we found just the right shade of gray.  As we got to each different classroom, the principal called in additional opinions.  The band director had input on what she wanted in her room - nothing to busy but something that hides dirt well; a splash of color on the walls.  Then the art teacher got to select colors for her new art room - she wanted black counter tops and tack boards to set the background for the student artwork.  She hadn't seen the design for her new space yet, so we walked her through it on the drawings.  She practically cried with happiness when she saw the new space that she was receiving.  This new school, this classroom, it was HER space.  She would spend eight hours every day for years to come existing in this space that WE created.  

At some point during this encounter, it dawned on me that something I had helped to create affects her happiness so directly,  and THAT is something special indeed!

I was talking with a very wise man this week, and he said to me:  "Haley, the Point is LOVE."  Our purpose in life and in work is to grow in love and acceptance of ourselves and one another.  It's that simple.  And the good news is that we can do that WHEREVER we are.  It doesn't matter if I'm designing skyscrapers in New York City, or picking out colors for someone's bathroom, or raising small children at home.  In any of these situations, I have the opportunity to love the people around me; to love myself; to accept myself as I am; to accept others as they are; to be compassionate.  No matter what situation I find myself in, the point remains the same:  LOVE.

What's your something special?  How do you find meaning in your day to day life?  Let me know in the comments below how you express LOVE in your work or in your life?  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Brownie Uniforms and Limiting Beliefs

I started a new job a couple of years ago, which turned out to be the perfect opportunity to update my wardrobe.  Since some of the clothes I was wearing at that time had survived since college and maybe even high school, Dan agreed wholeheartedly with this idea, so we went shopping.  We shopped for hours.  I selected a huge pile of slacks and suits and blouses and sweaters to try on.  After seeing a few outfits, Dan asked "Honey, why didn't you pick any dresses or skirts?"  

I stared at him as if he had two heads.  "Um, because I have never worn dresses or skirts to school or work."  I said matter-of-factly.  "Well maybe you should start" he shot back.  I glared at him.  Apparently he did not remember the story.

Yes.  There is a reason that I did not wear dresses or skirts to school or work for nearly 20 years.  And a darn good one.

When I was in elementary school, I was in a Brownie troop.  Brownies are like junior Girl Scouts or something.  They get together in troops and do fun stuff.

I don't remember much about being a Brownie, except for the God-awful brown uniform that I had to wear on meeting days. The uniform consisted of a brown jumpsuit/dress, a button up shirt and necktie, and a sash to display all of your badges or "flair".  I despised this brown uniform - not because I didn't like being a Brownie, but because it was uncomfortable.  And I had to wear tights with the uniform, and most of my tights were about two sizes too small, which intensified the situation.  It was just not a pleasant experience.

I will never forget one particular day when I wore my Brownie uniform to school.  It was a beautiful, sunny day in 1986.  I was in first grade.  I distinctly remember being stressed out all morning during class, worried about how I was going to play on the playground at recess in a SKIRT. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and I didn't know what to do about it.  

When recess finally rolled around, I decided to suck it up and go about my business as usual.  I loved the slide, so I went for it.  I climbed up to the top, swung my legs over onto the big metal chute, grabbed the rails, and pushed myself off.  Immediately, I heard a loud squeaking noise, and then I felt the burn.  My heart sank and my face flushed as I realized what had happened:  my brown polyester Brownie skirt had slid up, while my too-small white tights had rolled down in the opposite direction, leaving my bare butt in contact with the slide.  As I hobbled off the bottom of the slide, wincing from the pain, pulling down my skirt, and trying to re-gain my composure, I vowed through gritted teeth to never wear that stupid Brownie uniform again.

That dreadful day scarred me so much that it also marked the last time that I would wear a skirt or a dress to school or work for nearly two decades.  It just wasn't worth the risk.  

As I tell this story, I realize that it sounds dramatic and a bit ridiculous to let one tiny little incident on the slide in first grade keep me from enjoying the simple pleasure of wearing skirts and dresses for most of my life.  Yes, it IS ridiculous to allow silly little incidents from our past to influence how we behave years later.  But WE ALL DO IT.  

We all allow experiences from our past to shape our ideas and our opinions and beliefs about this world and our experience of it.  We all allow past experiences  to shadow how we see ourselves and others.  We all had difficult or embarrassing or overwhelming experiences in childhood that we weren't equipped to handle properly or understand clearly.  And we all did the best we could to deal with them and move on with our lives.  But things are different now.  We don't have to face the dangers of the playground anymore, so why are we still protecting ourselves from them? 

But sometimes these limiting beliefs and the experience that inspired them are difficult for us to see.  Sometimes, we are so identified with them, and so accustomed to behaving a certain way because of them that we don't even know they are there.  Sometimes it takes someone else to help us see them.  Sometimes they create so much pain and suffering that we go in search of them, we learn to dig deep and uncover them as we are ready and able.

And when we are ready, we begin to ask ourselves what is really going on here?  Why do I react in that same way every time X happens?  Why do I avoid Y at all costs?  Why do I get angry every time someone brings up Z?  We start to notice patterns and automatic behaviors that we had never been aware of before.  We start to see how we've been reacting to a pre-conceived idea of a certain situation all these years, instead of being present in the reality of the situation and reacting accordingly.  And this awareness helps us grow.  It helps us to stop the next time we are in the situation, and change our behavior.  It helps us to see what is really happening, what the reality of a situation is, rather than what we've been conditioned to experience.  

And as we stay with this long enough, and look at it closely enough, we usually discover that a single event from our past has been influencing our decisions and behaviors today.  And we realize that we have the power to challenge these long-held beliefs.  We have the power to look at each of them, shine the light of awareness into them and see what they are all about, what they are trying to tell us.  

Sadly, because of that one unfortunate experience on the playground, I didn't allow myself the pleasure of wearing skirts, which I have recently discovered has numerous benefits.  First and foremost, they are COMFORTABLE.  (given you have the proper undergarments, of course).  Secondly, they make  me feel feminine and ladylike, and of course, thirdly,  they are super convenient, just slip one on and go.  Also, they instantly diversified my stale wardrobe.   I tripled my outfit selections just by adding a few skirts and dresses in the mix.

It's sad to think about all the years that we missed out on because of our blind beliefs.  But that should motivate us to look closely to see what else we may be missing out on due to other misinformed and limiting beliefs.  It's our job as humans to evolve and learn and grow in awareness, and it we commit to living life to the fullest, our limiting beliefs will reveal themselves to us when we are ready to see them.  We just have to keep the faith and stay the course.

What limiting beliefs are you holding onto that are no longer serving you?  What painful experiences from your past may be influencing how you behave today? Please share your thoughts in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  ID 384018 © Merilee Voth | Dreamstime.com

Embrace Your Crazy

Everybody's got a little crazy in them.  Most of the time we can hide it, or control it.  And sometimes, we may even believe that it's gone, that we've overcome it, that we are crazy-free grown-ups now.  But then, suddenly it's back, rearing its ugly head.

Everybody's crazy is different.  Some people get loud and emotional or angry or depressed.  Some are overcome by jealousy or shame or guilt.  It could be anything, but its all just crazy.  My own personal crazy is more like extreme anti-crazy.  Instead of acting out, I retreat inward.  I can feel it happening when I'm starting to retreat, and I hate it.  But there's not a damn thing in the world that I can do about it.  And the more that I try to avoid it, or control it, or fix it, the worse I feel about the situation and about myself in general.  

The other day, I was feeling very unsociable.  I was starting to get a little crazy, I could feel myself starting to go into hiding.  Then I was invited to a lunch with a group of colleagues.  I love these people and normally would have welcomed the lunch invitation.  But on that particular day, I knew that I would be lousy lunch company.  But instead of honoring my crazy, I decided to ignore it, and I went to lunch anyway.  Unfortunately my crazy came along with me.  I was unable to speak during the entire lunch.  I was completely checked out, even though I struggled to remain present and in tune with the conversation.  I felt like one of those kids who believes that if she closes her eyes, she will be invisible.  I hoped that if I just sat there and didn't say a word, that I would be invisible, that I wouldn't have to partake in the lighthearted chit-chat.  I should have politely skipped the group lunch and gone somewhere that I could be alone and just zone out.  But I didn't. I soldiered on, hoping that I could stop the crazy and have a normal civilized lunch. But that's just it, you cannot stop the crazy. It has a mind of its own. And that's what makes us human. 

So maybe, instead of ignoring or fixing or overcoming the crazy, messed-up, unattractive, and socially unacceptable parts of ourselves, we just learn to live with them.  What if we could learn to manage them, just like we manage other problems in our lives.  I think that this comes with knowing ourselves, and learning to love ourselves flaws and all.  It is ok to have bad days, it is ok to unleash your crazy every now and then.  You have to forgive yourself.  Everyone else has already forgiven you.  Everyone else knows that you can be a little crazy sometimes, but they love you anyway.  So it's time to love yourself.

Till next time!

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo Credit:  © Creatista | Dreamstime.com - Crazy Woman Photo

Size Does Matter

I've spent the majority of my life trying to make myself appear smaller.  I was an early bloomer, and I shot up in height way before most kids my age.  I towered over the other girls and most of the boys in my class.  In high school, I finally stopped growing - topping out at 5'-10", which left me still taller than almost everyone my age.  Had I been a basketball player, this might have been a good thing, but my athletic abilities were non-existent, so that was not happening.  Needless to say, no high school girl wants to be taller than all the boys that she wants to date.  Looking down on your prom date's head is bad, but having to bend down to kiss him... the horror!  But that's how it was for me growing up.  So I did what I could to be smaller - wore flats and slouched.  This sounds ridiculous, I know, but to my teenage mind it made perfect sense.  

I'm comfortable with my height now, I even enjoy wearing heels from time to time.  But sometimes, I notice that same shrinking mentality in other areas of my life.  I realize that it has affected way more than my dating life over the years.  Not only have I learned to instinctively make my physical size appear smaller; I also allow my SELF to appear smaller than I really am.  I shrink away from the spotlight at all costs, I avoid praise and compliments instinctively, I play small, I don't always speak up when I know that answer, I don't voice my opinion often enough, I let others be heard over my own voice.  

This behavior is so completely ingrained in my being that I don't even realize I am doing it.  It has become a part of who I am.  I sometimes wonder how I might approach life differently had I arrived here on earth in a different package...  What if I were short and petite?  Would I go through life always trying to appear larger in everything that I do?  There are things in everyone's lives and past experiences and physical make-up that effect their personalities and their general approach to life.  Some of these are positive and some negative.  But I believe that it is less important to label them good or bad than it is to simply be aware of them and how they have shaped us.  I've only recently started to become aware of my tendency to appear small and really start to look for the root cause of it.  As I pay closer attention to it, and start to shine the light of awareness into it, I can feel it starting to lose the hold that it has had on my personality and my life since childhood.  It is difficult and painful at times to explore this, but absolutely necessary if I want to continue to grow and evolve into the person that I know I am meant to be.     

The quote from Marianne Williamson's book A Return To Love really resonates with me, as I'm sure it does with all of us on some level:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Are you really letting your own light shine?  Is there something in your past, that is still influencing your behavior and might be holding you back?  How can you acknowledge that and start to understand how it has shaped you, and then decide whether it is still serving you today?  This is not easy, but it is SO worth it.  YOU are worth it.  Go let your light shine.

Let me know how it goes!

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  © Porpeller | Dreamstime.com - Taller Poppy Photo