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Friday, August 10, 2012

Wipe Off The Wet But Not The Kiss

When I was little, I idolized my eldest brother, David. Seven years older he was the closest thing I had to a good father - he loved and protected me and found me funny, smart and adorable. Hard for him when our father died. At 8 he became the man of the house, often babysitting for his four siblings, changing diapers, cleaning mouse traps. One day, he deliberately planted a disgusting, wet kiss on my cheek which I wasted no time in wiping off, annoyed. Feigning hurt, he said, "You just wiped off my kiss!!" I responded patiently, "I didn't wipe off your kiss, I just wiped off the wet."

And so it is with Landmark. The old Sarah would have told them to take a walk when they over-communicate, pontificate, become (in my opinion) too aggressive in pushing their agenda. They are folks on a mission and that mission is that the world would be a better place if everyone enrolled - world peace (seriously), solutions to hard problems, harmony and happiness for all with each individuals stepping up, getting in the game, taking action, being accountable, learning to listen.

I sucked it up and went to night two of the ten week seminar series that is included at no additional charge to the original three day seminar I took last month. It was OK, not great, but OK. The leader isn't particularly inspirational, but hey, it's not church. This is in contrast to the three day event led by a woman who had everyone sitting on the edge of their chairs - who presented the material in a much more accessible and believable way. So, this is what I'm thinking. There are times when you have to extract nuggets of goodness from something that may at times be hard to stomach. It was hard to get there last night, fight the weather, the Bears parking - I was tired. And yet, there I was and the work to be done needs to be done, regardless of the packaging. Session two was about creating the groundwork for being extraordinary in areas of your life where you are not. Identifying persistent complaints about people and situations and owning up to our role in perpetuating the problems, then listing all the areas where we are not fully self expressed - where we are ordinary (or worse) and then inventing possibilities for new ways of being in those areas.

My list was huge!!! I listed eight areas where I am inauthentic and ordinary. Arg! Now that I've owned up to that, the work begins!!! I'll talk about the eight areas in this blog because my guess is they may be your complaints too. First up?  BEING ON TIME. My partner in the class and I both share this problem. And I'm not a chronically late person - my friends probably would give me three or four stars for punctuality but that's not good enough. What they don't see is that I cut everything so close, waiting until the very last minute to get ready, driving in the car with hot rollers in my hair, doing my makeup at red lights, always five minutes late, breathless and apologetic. There is a price for that - stress, driving recklessly at times, not being as well put together as I could be, and of course, not honoring my commitment to be where I said I would be at the time I said. It's a lackluster performance at best. Partner and I agreed we could be extraordinary with punctuality - that we would not only be punctual, but that we will always be early. We coined a motivational phrase, "Being on Time is for Losers!" To accomplish the objective of always being early, we decided to allow for 50% more travel time with the thought that we can get to our destination relaxed, early, score a nice cup of coffee, be the person who is sitting there waiting calmly while others breeze in, breathless and apologetic.  So with that in mind, my alarm just went off - it's telling me to get upstairs and get ready for a lunch appointment I have - more later.

Lunch was good - old friend and business associate and it's so nice that these days, it's rarely just small talk. If you and I have lunch together I want to know what's really going on under the pretty exterior - what brings you joy, what brings you worry and pain. I love the wish in the book, Broken Open that I read last summer. The author says, "Wouldn't it be amazing if we could go to a cocktail party, meet someone new, shake their hand, look deeply into their eyes and say something like, 'Hi, I'm Sarah. I'm afraid of dying. Are you too?' " So, I'm not quite there yet, still have some normal social graces that hold me in good stead at parties, but more and more I'm thinking we should get passed those niceties as quickly as possible and bite into each other's chewy chocolate center where the real action is. Time is too short for worrying about whether people will think we're odd.

Challenge today could be taking on the Landmark challenge of thinking of areas in your life where you are less than extraordinary - areas you're not living with vitality and authenticity. Maybe then, ask yourself what are the stories you tell about your lackluster performance in these areas and what are your stories accomplishing for you. Finally, what is the cost of not tackling the work and finding a new way of being - loss of vitality, honesty, health, etc.? Then zoom out and declare a possibility for something different. Sounds easy? It's not. Hard to be a straight talker, especially in dialogue with yourself. The shit we tell each other and ourselves - some days we almost believe it.


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