by Andrea Chilcote

I’ve been rushing a lot lately, even when there’s been no compelling need to. Given that I’ve spent 10 of the last 14 days on vacation, rushing might just be a bad habit.

When I looked up the synonyms for “rush,” I found many words that describe my demeanor. While I can’t say I’ve used all of these words, they sure describe many of my actions: hurry, dash, run, race, sprint, bolt, dart, fly, speed, zoom, scurry, scuttle, scamper, hasten, tear, belt, pelt, scoot, zip, hotfoot it, hightail it

This “problem” came into my awareness precisely because I was on vacation. From the first day, I questioned why I still felt stress, even though I was supposedly free to relax and enjoy. The very first thing I noticed was my language.

“I’ll hurry and shower (or eat, dress, pack – fill in the blank).”

“Let’s dash over there.”

“Speed up!

And I noticed other’s responses:

“There’s no hurry Andrea. Enjoy your lunch.”

“Take your time.”

“Relax. What’s the rush?”

But… did they mean it? Seriously, it’s easy for others to say “relax,” until my pace encroaches on their expectations. Did it?

Analyzing further, I realized that of late I have two speeds, high and off. Off is usually reserved for sleep. High is for everything else, and not everything requires that amount of energy expenditure. And, it sure depletes the enjoyment of simple pleasures.

Have you also experienced this? If you have a habit of pedal-to-the-metal and jackrabbit starts (and I’m not just talking about driving), what are the costs? Are you, like me, burning precious fuel?

Yesterday I began a deliberate practice of assessing my need for speed. In the last 24 hours, I have had more productive conversations and more presence. I’ve enjoyed small rewards from a slower pace, and I’m sure breathing more freely. (Oh, and I’ve still gotten a ton done).

Andrea and Whisper —Cambria, CA 2017

It’s a bit bittersweet that I didn’t embrace this lesson a week ago, while the ocean breezes blew. But I can wait for another vacation, or I can consciously embrace a variable speed commensurate with what’s required. It sounds inviting – I’ll let you know how it goes.

[Rushed originally written July 17, 2014]

Can you let it go?

Andrea Chilcote

by Andrea Chilcote

I’ve been thinking about beliefs lately. How they form, how we let go of them. I know for sure that they often operate unconsciously, driving everything from our self-talk to simple choices and life decisions. Anyone with even an ounce of self-awareness knows that they “believe” (or at least have believed) some things that are irrational or untrue – often because of the thought patterns that were formed at a very young age and remain unearthed and unexamined.

I have beliefs I don’t even think I believe. For example, in good conscience I would tell you that at my very core I know that I am safe and secure, and will always be able to create and maintain a life I love. But every now and then, fear slips in and I become sure I will become one of the bag ladies Martha Beck talks about. There’s a complex biochemical activity unfolding in my brain’s amygdala and on some very basic level I’m just harkening back to the remnants of a belief system that I’ve spent my life learning to let go of. If, in one of those moments, you tried to offer me a logical, rational argument, I would nod my head and say I believe you. But some part of me would not even listen.

Why do some belief systems show up as impenetrable shells, biases that preclude even mere consideration, while others can be informed, enlightened and shaped upon examination?

Once I attended a legislative committee hearing on a state bill that I have a keen interest in opposing. Once again I saw how our beliefs color our ability and even desire to listen. I watched as compelling, intelligent arguments were made, and hoped they would, at a minimum, provoke dialogue. Yet those whose opening statements revealed opposite views didn’t even ask any questions. When it was time to vote, they parroted back their opening lines and remained true to their initial stand. It was as if no new information had even been introduced.

I wrote about the ways in which our listening gets hijacked by our beliefs and biases in my post, “Attention Please”  I suggested presence as a method for better listening. But there’s something that comes before presence. It’s motivation. I’m reminded of an admittedly blunt response I have been known to offer clients when they ask me how to transform some simple habit or behavior that, on the surface, looks easy to overcome. “Ya gotta wanta,” I say with a smile.

It is simple, but far from easy, to put aside one’s biases and beliefs. And I know that doing so improves the quality of our lives in so very many ways. But, – ya gotta wanta.

The Myth of Balance

Andrea Chilcote

This week, join Andrea, as she shares some perspective on the idea of “balance” and “what matters most” in life.

by Andrea Chilcote

Remember when we used to talk about balanced lives, especially work-life “balance?” Well, perhaps we still do, even though most would admit the idea of “balance” is really an ideal, even a myth. For me, a life well lived consists of constant prioritization of what matters in the moment.

I’m planning for a workshop I’ve led many times, though not so much in recent years. (Wondering why not, and why now?) It’s called “What Matters Most,” and its purpose is to identify and examine core values. At the same time, the week has consisted of talking to people who lead very full lives – yet still they say they seek “balance.”

The demands for our time and the need for our service are never-ending. We know the way to be in charge of our destiny is to declare what’s important, what matters most (what we value), and then prioritize. A simple concept, not easy in practice.

Personally, I seek to constantly prioritize the things that are most important, and this does not always produce “balance.” While I am certainly not perfect in my practice, I seek to invest my time in ways that feed my goals or my soul. It’s a moment-by-moment choice that builds a habit – a habit that gets tested when the big decisions come along.

Before you say yes or move forward on some task, request or chore, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it give you a sense of joy, fulfillment or accomplishment?
  • Do you feel satisfied that you left someone in a better place (without manipulation or control)?
  • Are you doing or giving out of pure love?
  • Is the value of your service greater than its cost?
  • Is this the highest and best contribution you can be making at this time?

If you answer “yes,” perhaps balance is irrelevant. If you answer “no,” your personal balance, that of giving and receiving or sowing and harvesting, may need consideration.

That’s a balance I seek to strike.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!