Have you ever tried to define yourself—really define yourself—with just one word?
Go on. Try it.
I played this game with my husband and family over the holidays, and it was insightful. I knew what my own word was for myself: strong. But what would my husband call me? (Please don’t say dictator, please don’t say dictator. He’s going to say dictator! I’m so not a dictator! I swear, if he says dictator…)
I realized I was giving more thought to my reaction to my husband’s word for me than the word itself. Because sometimes it’s easier to react than interact.
Asking someone to sum you up in one word is pretty ridiculous, right? Just like those questions of what your favorite book is (Um, how about all the books?), who your favorite band is (Impossible! Next!) or what your “five year” plan might be. (Dumbest. Interview. Question. Ever.)
Life isn’t singular, and neither are our traits, experiences or desires. How can we possibly be reduced to just one word?
Apparently? It’s not too hard to be reduced to one word. My word for Alex? Calm. His word for me?
I sat there, rolling the word around in my mouth like a mint. “Huh,” I said.
Translation: What did charged mean? Was I like a battery, always ready to go-go-go? Was I juiced, angry, energetic? Ready to pounce? I called him calm, which is basic. He called me charged, which is layered. Am I a basic person? Did he give this more thought than me? Is he smarter than me?! Can I redo my word? What’s a better word for calm?
Charged. Calm. Charged. Calm.
I began to see the beauty in our differences. Alex wasn’t just calm. In that calmness is his tenderness, strength, patience, resilience, understanding, creativity and the ability to handle any situation. All the time.
charged, adjective – filled with excitement, tension or emotion
Yep. Nailed it.
I thought about this all day. Did I feel charged? And what did I desire to be called?
I’ve been thinking a lot about desire lately… a lot about the direction of life. About habits. And thoughts. And goals. And repeated patterns. (It seems I repeat a lot of patterns.)
But mostly? I’ve been thinking about feelings.
I’m someone who’s always been in touch with her feelings. Some might call me serious or disciplined or intuitive. (My mother’s word for me? Intense.) After having a child? Some might call me really fucking brain dead.
But I love myself as a mother, because I’m stripped down. Bare. Less cerebral and more…pajama-clad. I’m brutally honest. Interested. Curious. Comedic. Life looks different. Days look different. Intentions are different. Drama is different. (Seriously: You don’t know “drama” until your toddler locks herself in her room on the daily and proceeds to tear it end from end because you had the audacity to suggest she have toast for breakfast. Her rebuttal? “I want popsicles!” Your rebuttal? “Um, how about no?” Hers? Total fucking mayhem.)
Despite all of this daily joy and mayhem, I’ve realized there’s one thing I’ve been missing lately, and that’s this: I’ve forgotten how I want to feel on a daily basis.
It’s no surprise that I like getting things done. While I’m mostly introverted and love to observe, I also love getting shit done. Like really love it. If someone says “deadline,” I squeal with delight. Give me an impossible project, and I practically begin salivating over the due date. I love challenges. I love to-do lists. I take excessive glee in crossing things off my crooked, scribbled column of demands, slashing my pen across each item for the day. My husband even designs my own personalized pads. They are divided into different categories: Work. Sophie. Personal. Gym. Workout. Other. These are the categories of my life. We all have them. And we tick the items off—as if in doing so, we are keeping order. We are the ones in control, right? We are slugging through or rocking with the tasks in a specific order, moving time, moving from point A to point B, just moving.
One foot in front of the other.
Heading toward the finish line.
But are we doing it all…happily?
How do all of these categories—work, errands, personal life, relationships, health—make us feel?
How do I feel?
Sometimes like this:
Mostly, I feel joyful; grateful; inspired; intense; happy; daring; brave; hopeful; motivated; excited.
But a lot of the time, like this:
Bored; lacking; resentful; agitated; uncertain; tired; negative; critical; wavering; bored again; annoyed; charged (there’s that damn word!); frenetic; impatient; confused; confined.
And when I look at my daily actions (wake up, work out, drive, teach classes, prepare lunches, meetings, drive, more meetings, eat, teach classes, drive, pick child up, make dinner, repeat, repeat, repeat), I can understand why. I know where my triggers are (driving) and where my releases are (movement).
It’s everything in between that gets a little fuzzy.
Where’s the satisfaction that allows me to fall asleep at night and think, Yes, this is exactly where I want to be. I am doing exactly what I am meant to do, even if every moment isn’t perfect. I am living my life on purpose. Thank you, magical unicorn universe, for delivering my wildest dreams.
It should be that simple, right?
It’s not. And it is.
Because I do want to fucking feel good. I want to feel great. About work. About life. About health. About my family. About the city I live in.
I want to stop living in limbo, waiting for great things to happen to me and start making great things happen.
So, I’m stepping in. I’m getting messy. I’m dismantling my life and rolling up my metaphorical sleeves and am about to do the hard work to get to the heart of the matter. Because guess what? Living an intentional life is hard work, and it’s never going to be easy.
What fun is easy anyway?
Growth happens in the work, and that work isn’t consistently good or bad. It’s good and bad. It’s hard and easy. It’s beautiful and ugly. It’s happy and sad. It’s joyful and miserable.
And once I come to terms with the fact I’m not going to have rainbows shooting from my fingertips every five seconds, I feel better. Like, immensely better. Because I know following every bad mood is a good one. After every failure comes success.
Even if it’s small. Even if no one notices at all.
Remember: You can’t live a one-dimensional life. You have feelings. Lots of them.
And I’m tuning in.
Which is why I’m reading this.
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte is the kind of book that changes things. Two of my soul sisters I work with, Denise Senter and Jessica Zweig (both of whom are pretty much the most amazing female entrepreneurial bad asses I know), suggested it.
Listen. I’ve read a lot of books in my life. I’ve done a lot of yoga. And meditation. And gone to life-changing seminars. And spent a lot of time helping others and helping myself. A lot. And sometimes, if I’m being honest, I feel as if I’ve done some of these things wanting the light bulb to go off and my life to change forever, but the concepts or the intentions just felt…general. Temporary. They weren’t personal or applicable to my life at that particular time. I’d get inspired and then forget what I even read, did, promised or heard.
But I think, mostly, I just wasn’t ready to listen.
To really listen. Hard.
Because this shit is personal. It’s core-defining.
And guess what?
Now, I’m ready. I’m listening.
And I can’t wait to dive in.
What you seek is seeking you. – Rumi