My life has been really “loud” lately. Not necessarily in bad way but a bit noisy for me…a four year old who talks non-stop. Really this is NOT an exaggeration. The day starts with a monologue on what he would like for breakfast and continues to narrate the ENTIRE day from there. While some if it is sweet and enduring – like today when he ended the day with “Mom I think the thunder just broke the moon in half .” Most days it just gets kinda OLD. I’ve also had a schedule filled with clients, family, social events, and a brain on overdrive with all the “should be/shouldn’t be doings.” Then, last Friday, I hit the wall. When walking with a friend, I completely lost words. I was attempting to describe what I was going on and what I was feeling – and what came out was “It is too much…NOISE! I CAN’T HEAR MYSELF THINK!”
And in the pause that followed I finally heard my voice…it said “DUH!” I realized some of the “noise” I have absolutely no control over (unless I shove the itouch at the above mentioned child) but there is a fair amount I do have control over. There is a lot I can turn off and tune out. Silence has been a huge need in my life and recently I haven’t had enough of it. After reflecting I realized a lot of this was due to my own choices. I was reminded again of this during a client consult with a management consultant looking to take his career to the next level. We were talking about the Myers-Briggs, a tool used in career coaching and business to determine how people interact and make decisions. He said he was an ENTP and asked my type when I remarked INTP and he said “No way you are too outgoing and communicative!” (For those of you not familiar with Myers-Briggs here is a really simple interpretation: E’s get energy from action and being with people. I’s get energy from inward reflection and solitude. Both enjoy others socially – a common misperception). I laughed I responded, “Yes I love what I do and connecting with others but I also need a TON of alone time.”
The exchange drove the message home. I realized it is not just alone time I need but silence as well. I can choose to drown out some of the white noise and distraction – turn off the music, my phone, shut my computer, my brain, and be more intentional about how I spend that alone time.
This is a long-winded response to a request from a reader who asked how I keep myself in check and grounded. Basically how I turn down the volume. Most of the time I do the following:
Morning Check-in: Usually I do this before I get out of bed (if a little one happens to be the one who woke me I invite them in to snuggle while I do it). I ask myself what I am feeling, what I want, what I need, and what I need to do to take care of myself. I review my day after and change whatever I need to. Some days I end up changing my whole plan based on this check-in.
Weekly Intention Setting: I try to do this at the end of the weekend or Monday morning The purpose for me is to focus my energy so my attention is placed randomly on the “noise” that occurs in my life. Then I create a visual reminder of it – sometimes a collage or just a note a place in my calendar.
Seasonal Priority Setting/Retreat: For this, I pack up journals, art supplies, books, and head off for a solo weekend retreat or a fun girlfriend getaway. If I can’t get away – I set aside a block of time where I can get some space from my everyday life and really reflect. I have one rule: no phone, no computer, no TV (ok that is actually three). I use the time to think about where I’ve placed my attention in the last three months and where I really want/need to be placing it (energy flows where attention goes). It is a great reset for me. Inevitably I return centered and at peace with my path.
And then some of the time I end up shouting at a friend in desperation. Last Friday is an example of a time when got a little off track. Luckily I quieted just enough to hear my voice above the cacophony surrounding me just in time to make a course correction. So I will be taking that retreat this weekend!
P.S. If you are looking for a retreat I am co-faciliating an amazing and affordable weekend retreat April 27-29th. Click here for more information.