what we pay attention to matters & grows.

I’ve wasted some time not understanding (or maybe believing) this simple concept.  Every day we wake up with a choice to be made, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice.

choices and attention lisa lillibridgeWho wants to wake up in the morning highly attuned to the things that make them feel like crap?  I honestly don’t, and yet, sometimes I do that to myself.

I want my anger and resentment some days.  I really want to hang out in the house of pain and suffering on occasion.  In the last few years though, I’ve increasingly become aware of the toll those days take on me and everyone in my orbit. My dark days will obviously never go away completely, but thankfully, by noticing where my attention is directed, those days are finally getting to be fewer and far between.

Once I noticed my habits and patterns I couldn’t possibly un-notice them. 

Damnit, I tried pretty hard.  Trust me, I gave it a really good shot.

I love that knowledge can be brilliantly sneaky that way.

Good luck noticing, folks.

A NOTE OF COMPASSION:  Many people suffer with devastating, lasting sadness that requires way more than just noticing habits and patterns.  I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience.  I’m only sharing what’s been helpful to me.  I struggle with the blues, not prolonged clinical depression.

St. Kitts & Belle Mont Farm

My husband, daughters and I just returned from a trip to Belle Mont Farm on the island of St. Kitts.  Now that we’re awaiting a blizzard in Vermont, our whole vacation feels like a dream.  The beautiful & generous people, the warmth & color, monkeys, mongoose, birds, flora, farm to table food and the views of other islands were all so magnificent.  Belle Mont Farm is a hotel up in the mountains on 400 acres of fertile, organic farmland and tropical forest.  It was remarkably special and now etched in my memory.  I’m so grateful for the experience.

I had a realization while staying at Belle Mont Farm that I often live with a strange sense of guilt when I enjoy nice things. Why in the world do I feel this way?  After a little soul searching, here’s where I landed.  I believe some ancient part of me feels that there’s only so much abundance in the world and I’ve already been granted my share.  I’m not really deserving of more.

This thinking is more than a little absurd, right?  Life is not a zero-sum game.  I’m genuinely happy when other people get to experience cool things.  I don’t think, damn, now the universe has less for me.

ZERO-SUM GAME

a situation in which one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it

Thank you Belle Mont Farm for the lesson learned I learned about abundance.

 

what is a broken arrow?

BROKEN ARROW is the code word used for an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft or loss of weapon.  When I heard this term on the radio yesterday, I linked BROKEN ARROW to the accidental emotional launches that happen in my nuclear family life.

nu·cle·ar/adjective
1.  relating to the nucleus of an atom
2.  BIOLOGY; relating to the nucleus of a cell

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As a 51-year-old woman, married since I was 25, and raising twin 17-year-old girls, a BROKEN ARROW can easily be disarming—hopefully not devastating.

There have been thirty-two BROKEN ARROW incidents since 1950.  I’ve had many more. However, maybe with more awareness I can launch less frequently.  I’m quite certain my nuclear family would appreciate the diplomacy.

BROKEN ARROW: an accidental emotional launch

reference link: ATOMIC ARCHIVE 

I’m so guilty..

of being way too serious way too much of my day.  I started out this morning reading the New York Times and all of the crazy political news.  David Duke is back, really?  Then I landed on this piece about “cognitive closure” and it really struck me.  I was so interested in this concept that I read it to my highly disinterested 16-year-old daughter, Lucy.  My husband, Jeff kind of listened to me, but he really just wanted to work on the 1970s song “My Maria” and play his guitar while our cat, Karen watched him adoringlyClearly, I need to lighten up. Goofing off more lessens the anxiety of those around us too.  Our cat was trying to show me what to pay attention to this morning.  Oh the wisdom of Karen.

I think culturally, we just gotta lighten right now.

This political season is making us nuts.

AND YET…I still couldn’t quite help myself.  “Dr. Kruglanski is best known for his theory of “cognitive closure,” a term he coined in 1989 to describe how we make decisions. “Closure” is the moment that you make a decision or form a judgment. You literally close your mind to new information.”  By

Changing habits is hard, fun is coming—I promise.  Conceptually “cognitive closure” is something to consider, especially when you feel unable to see the options available to you and a choice needs to be made.  The middle path always allows us to see a lot more options.  But, it’s much harder to do.  Our brain wants to shut down our options.  It’s way easier than considering new information.  I told you I’m guilty of being way too serious. Good Golly, Lisa enough about cognitive closure (no matter how interesting of a psychological concept this is)…it’s time for fun.

So, after I read this piece I searched for FUN and landed on a country music video about HANGING OUT.  Here’s my gift to you today.  Thank you LITTLE BIG TOWN. You guys clearly know how to lighten up.

Back this hitch up into the water
Untie all the cables and rope
Step onto the AstroTurf
Get yourself a coozie
Let’s go

Enjoy this video, I hope your day is filled with lots of laughs and goofiness.

Watching this video reminded me that we used to hit golf balls off the front of our boat when I was in college.  Oh, we really knew how to play then.

One simple question.

what-do-you-need-to-let-go-of

Often I make things way too complicated. Today I’m choosing to simplify.

ASK.  WAIT.  LISTEN.  REPEAT.

the power of nudge.

Status

nudge defined lillibridge dakota

I read about this great behavior study program to help students be more successful during college IDEAS42 (link below).  With the school year approaching and entirely different rules of engagement nipping at my heals, I’m looking for strategies. This site is well worth checking out if you have kids of any age.  It really made me think about the partnership between parent and child required to aid success with transitions.  I’ve come to realize that NUDGE is a pretty swell word.

ideas42/nudging toward success

NUDGE is different than telling someone WHAT or HOW or WHEN to do something.  It’s a little bit gentler and it’s quieter.  NUDGING is setting up the possibility of a beneficial behavior being implemented.  And sometimes that’s the best we can hope for with ourselves, our loved ones or colleagues…the possibility.

I think about the use of NUDGE with food, money, exercise, reading, chores and so much more.  If I wash fruit, cut up vegetables and make them front and center when the fridge is opened by hungry customers…I’ve nudged them (or myself) to a good choice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If I leave out books that I think the kids would love or magazines opened to an article I think they would enjoy without saying a word…I’ve maybe nudged them into reading something I think they would be interested in.  This is way more effective than telling them. I read things to my husband Jeff and pretend I don’t want them to hear it.  I do that a too much.  Ask my kids.  It drives them bananas. A nudge is better.

This year I’m going to fill a basket with graph paper, binder paper, paperclips, tape, highlighters, pens, a stapler, a zip drive, a ruler and whatever else they may need to be successful…NUDGE them toward self sufficiency.  And potentially avoid a run to Staples late at night.  This helps me too.  Having a shelf with cards, envelopes, stamps and an address book makes it way easier to get a message in the mailbox.

As a WIFE and MOM, I don’t want to be a NAG.  I would much rather NUDGE.

I have a college age son and I know that I need to be on top of deadlines for him. I don’t mean schoolwork, but other things…dentist, applications for trips, health care, financial management, family birthdays (so he can call or send a text) and so on.  I won’t do this forever, but NUDGE is the right thing to do for a lot of young adults.  And they can have a sense of accomplishment.

IMG_8948

When I lay out my sketch book, charge my ipad, phone and put a note about my intentions for the day next to my coffee cup…I’m a tiny bit closer to accomplishing what I want to get done that day.  When I don’t, I’m less likely.  The same is true with automatic savings plans, laying out our exercise clothes, making to do lists or putting reminders in our phones, on the fridge or on a calendar.

I’m hardly saying I’ve got this organizational stuff nailed.  It’s an area of profound struggle for me.  But, NUDGE…well, that I can wrap my highly disorganized head around.

The power of NUDGE.