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Assessing My Emotional Balance Sheet

balance-sheet-cubeThe celebration of the new year brought questions of improvement and worth of every action to my mind. How is it that I can be so “busy” and yet so absolutely unfulfilled? Why am I so unhappy even though I labor on?My frantic brain searched its files for signs of peace and satisfaction to no avail. It must be here somewhere…I had it once…

The constant analyzer, I started looking at every part of my operational life–home, work, recreation, community, what emotional state did I come in 2017 with and what is adding to it or taking away from it? I am smarter than this! Why do I feel so unsettled, so frustrated, so chaotic, so MISERABLE?

A friend said to me “you had peace once, you just misplaced it.”  I did.  I did have it once.  I left it somewhere on the road between Joy and Fear, before Grief, Frustration, Loneliness and Determination. Somewhere around Reevaluating and Change. I’m on my way to Self Worth  and Significance but had to take a few detours. I guess I thought Peace would always be my get away driver.

Up early one morning, approximately 3am, I poured my coffee and contemplated the peace I had lost. Where could I have left it?  Is there any left after all this time? Does peace have a half life as long as pain, grief, or uncertainty? What do I need to get it growing again? Can I get it growing again? Why do the things I love most no longer bring me absolute joy?

All of a sudden, an image of a balance sheet popped in my head…a lopsided balance sheet like the one the local non-profit I manage has.  Debt…HUGE debt. Ugh! Seriously?

“Damn! Can’t I EVER get away from work,” I thought. Then it struck me…MY balance scalessheet.  I came into it with a small investment of joy fueled by hopeful ambition that I could help people who needed a leg up to be their best. This was an asset by definition. It was something I could invest in the effort.The odds were not in my favor but I fear nothing other than insignificance.

Other assets began to appear…Courage, energy, fearlessness, integrity, experience, relationships…then the assets began to dwindle.

Liabilities appeared in number.  Doubt, lack of personal support, spousal expectation (this is provincial Virginia after all.  Wives are expected to be home in the evening to cook and clean and do laundry and manage the business of the family by filing, mailing and banking, caring for the animals and being the image of a consummate southern lady in public and a loving and attentive mate in private…curled hair, make-up and all.  It doesn’t matter that I have 13 employees, 5 board members, 300 plus customers, monthly, quarterly, and weekly reports, I have to be an attentive wife), employer expectation, employee expectation, customer expectation, community expectation, donor expectation, partner expectation, national’s expectation, reporting requirements, marketing requirements…  The liabilities quickly outweighed the assets.

No wonder if feel like the life has been sucked out of me!!  I have nothing left to give!  AARGH! I’m a believer that there is a solution to everything, even if its not the pleasant one. Sipping coffee and looking out at the starlight I tried to open my mind to options.

The solutions I had to work for.  What constitutes a reinvestment in my emotional health? Where do I even start?balance-graphic

Number 1–SAYING “NO!!!” If it doesn’t fall into “priority,” get the hell out! This is getting easier.  I’ve resigned or finished terms without renewing from four different groups and have one or two more to shed. Say no to anything that gives you the sense of fight or flight. Emotional trauma is real, even in a family, organization, or workplace that is defined as “healthy.”

Number 2–stand up for your self.  This one is HARD!  When all you have is your integrity, you want to do what’s right all the time, even if it takes up ALL the time you have. It’s exhausting and draining.  Raised by a Marine and now working with a Marine at the helm of our board of directors, I understand “take that hill.”  That means no matter the expense; no excuses.  No whining, no complaining… honor, courage, commitment…We minimize the losses and keep moving forward.  This will make standing up for myself no easy task.  I have to be tougher than the challenger, even if the challenger is on my team.

There is no good time to take some time off.  Boy do I know that.  Every Executive Director balance-imageknows that. When I am short tempered and my heart is racing and I feel broken and bruised in every conversation, its time to get the hell out of Dodge and let the wounds
heal. Broken hearts and broken minds are not efficient or effective!

My health and happiness is now my first mission–to guard my peace and health so I can serve my God, family, and community.  Guess what folks, that means Lynne is going to sign off now and then and go to the barn, the cabin, the beach, with or without her husband, without a cell phone or computer, and without regret.  Judge me if you want, but I’ll be better for it.

personal-peaceNumber 3–connects to number 2–take time to heal. Allow no liability in your healing space.  This can include work, people (including spouses), obligations, or vices (alcohol, drugs, etc…)  True healing takes time and determination.

Be committed to being healthy; being able to reinvest your strongest assets into your personal mission. Don’t let ANYONE into your healing time that disrespects you or implies that you are weak. They only open old wounds.

Scars are stronger than flesh.  I’ll be more powerful for the experience, but rest is the key to resilience and learning.

You know what, I have a plan. So long misery!  Walk with me on this journey to resilient leadership.

peace-quote

 

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Growing Pains–Our Cultural Adolescence

Lynne Richman Bell

On the eve of what could possibly be one of the most culturally significant elections in our country’s history, I sit watching the national news talk about how other countries are seeing a comic and unflattering nature to this campaign season. Caricatures of the two candidates vary from evil and frightening to something more surreal, even clownish.

I ponder the state of existence of our nation. Compared to others we are still so infantile. Even “new” nations, such as Israel or countries born out of the former Soviet Union, have cultures that are centuries old. They are mature and comfortable in their own skin even if their borders are challenged.

As old souls, intellects like George Wythe and Thomas Jefferson brought true virtue and high-mindedness to our country’s newborn culture. The ideals that conceived us are seed from the minds of great thinkers–Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras, just to name a…

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Growing Pains–Our Cultural Adolescence

On the eve of what could possibly be one of the most culturally significant elections in our country’s history, I sit watching the national news talk about how other countries are seeing a comic and unflattering nature to this campaign season. Caricatures of the two candidates vary from evil and frightening to something more surreal, even clownish.

I ponder the state of existence of our nation. Compared to others we are still so infantile. Even “new” nations, such as Israel or countries born out of the former Soviet Union, have cultures that are centuries old. They are mature and comfortable in their own skin even if their borders are challenged.

As old souls, intellects like George Wythe and Thomas Jefferson brought true virtue and high-mindedness to our country’s newborn culture. The ideals that conceived us are seed from the minds of great thinkers–Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras, just to name a few–finally delivered with the aid of our founding fathers of liberty.

Recently I was privy to a discussion about the four stages of organizational development – – forming, storming, norming, and performing. At roughly 240 years old, our nation is merely an adolescent. We are actively discovering, establishing, and governing by our constantly evolving interpretations of our original statement of organization, i.e. our declaration of independence and constitution. This is the organizational state of “storming.” We question. We challenge. We debate.

We as nation and culture are the equivalent of a human 13 or 14-year-old struggling to establish his or her own unique identity. We struggle with who we are and what we believe. We’ve been “brought up” to know what is right and what is wrong, what is just and what is unjust, what is cruel and what is compassionate, but we still fight to establish our own dynamism of belief, values that fit us in the here and now, as if the original value of “all men are created equal” was not good enough and that patriotism is passé.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote “I see my job as trying to bring together and harmonize a variety of different opinions,” he was guiding the steps of a toddling nation with the watchful eye of a founding father… “under God, with liberty and justice for all” was his formula for impact. I cannot help but wonder what his thoughts and advice would be today while observing our tumultuous and sometimes uncivil behavior.

We will get through this period of growth with an increased understanding that the original values, virtues, and integrity through which our country was formed will be what will paves the way for our cultural significance. Jefferson recognized that even having a government is a right of mankind and that the people should benefit from government more than the rulers. Our system of governance, “of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” Abraham Lincoln’s governance philosophy echoed Jefferson’s original thoughts…

When the political storm is at its height and we are deafened by the noise and chaos, let us remember “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness – – that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

We have chosen the path of democracy for our nation. Let us continue to embark with courage and hold our constitutional values to be sacred. The storm we are are enduring is finite. It will end. As a nation we must labor together with understanding and an engaged mind. We were created for such a time as this.

Living from the Outside InI recently realized that you can become so busy that you totally lose your own identity. Somehow in an effort to achieve all that is expected of you, you become what others perceive you to be instead of what you truly are from the inside out. This loss of identity creates an incredible void , a void so broad and far-reaching that there’s no way you can fill it until you remove yourself from all external stimuli and go back to that personal quiet place, that peaceful place, where no other is allowed but you and your creator.  Even then, peeling away the layers of others’ expectations takes some time. It is an effort that must be accomplished for only then that you can begin to hear that still, small voice inside that reminds you of what your own dreams and desires are.

Your divinely placed seeds of love and dreams of your heart are intrinsic to you fulfilling your destiny, your mark on this earth, and your mark on eternity.  Those unblemished seeds of desire spur activity and reactivity that might never be seen but complete the plans for your prosperous future and the future of others.  If singing is on your heart, sing!  If nursing for others is on your heart, be a nurse.  If riding a horse is on your heart, ride!  There is an outcome planned as a result of your activity.  it may be for you, but it is most certainly also for others. These outcomes, when they remain unblemished, are good, healthy, and rich in satisfaction.

I suppose that that’s how folks in the public eye can totally lose themselves and become egomaniacs instead of servant leaders. They are so busy living other peoples dreams and earthly desires that they forget their own. They also forget, or ignore, their own seeds of divinely placed morality. At that point every decision is made from a state of numbness. Because they function from the outside in instead of the inside out, being “comfortably numb” keeps them from making the best decisions. There ceases to be filter of conscience. The self protecting armor can then become so weakened that any intruder can invade it. Exposure to misdoings and misconceptions becomes exponentially higher.

double rainbow at Bell'sThat is also a catalyst for losing relationships, even those that should be the closest and tightest and with the most loyal bonds. Those relationships cease to be known, the feelings and intimacy unfamiliar, and the individual loses also himself.  The enemy has then accomplished his work. That still, small voice is no longer heard and the inherently woven dreams within one’s heart are no longer visible. The purest thoughts, the purest intentions, and the purest efforts are all lost for the noise of the outside world.