Being Okay with Inefficiency

Slow Down

To prepare for my year of silence, I recently checked out several books from the library on this subject. I wanted to see how others have benefited from prolonged silence in their own lives – what lessons they learned, what insights they gleaned, and how they were changed because of it. I guess I wanted to see what I could expect (even though I realize that we’re all different and no two experiences will ever be the same).

So I stacked the pile of books on top of my lap, settled into my extra comfortable couch, had my hot cup of chai tea next to me, my soft blanket on top of me, and I began to read.

And then I noticed something: each time I picked up a book and started reading, my finger would immediately go under the next page to be ready to flip it over when the time came. It didn’t matter that it would be several minutes before I would be ready to turn the page – my finger was prepared. And I found that this little habit achieved two things: 1. It sped up my reading. As silly as it seems, I somehow felt that I didn’t want to keep my finger waiting – that I should hurry up and finish the page in order to be able to turn it. But then the page would turn, and my finger would immediately prepare itself to turn the next page. 2. I wasn’t fully present with the words that I was reading because a large part of me was focused on needing to quickly turn the page.

It was a cycle that went on and on and on. And I started to feel a bit anxious, and I could feel my breathing begin to constrict and my heart begin to speed up. The irony certainly wasn’t lost on me that I was reading a bunch of books about slowing down into life’s natural rhythm.

After taking a few minutes to breathe into this moment, I was able to find the humor in it – the absurdity of it. I realized that I’m so used to overscheduling myself that saving this micro second of time made perfect sense to me in that moment. I’m so used to being in this never-ending cycle of doing and busyness that I’m having to re-learn how to be in the moment and enjoy the moment and not try to rush the moment.

For so many years, I’ve looked at “downtime” as inefficient. I’ve read so many articles featuring lifehacks to help us save time in one way or another. And I’ve clearly taken all of this to heart.

We live in a culture that has sped up so quickly over the last couple of decades that I’m sure we’re all still trying to get our bearings. I’m certainly not immune to wanting to cram as many tasks into my day and fill up every second of time by checking things off.

For years, I prided myself on being the queen of filling up space: “I finished this project five minutes early – that’s just enough time to respond to one more email or check off one more to-do.” When boiling water on the stove, I would bring in my laptop so I could be working while I waited for it. While waiting for one website to load, I would flip to a new tab and start loading another so there wouldn’t be any downtime.

All of this “efficiency” was supposed to improve my life, and I started to wonder why I wasn’t feeling happy. I was actually feeling hurried and rushed and always metaphorically out of breath. I started to wonder whether I was running toward something with all of this hurrying or running away from something. I figured it was most likely a little of both – either of which made me sad because no matter which it it was, I was completely missing the present moment. 

I truly believe that awareness brings change. (It’s hard to change what we just don’t know, right?) And so, here’s what I would like my life to look like moving forward:

I would like to enjoy the process of boiling water. Even though we’ve all heard that a watched pot never boils, I want to watch it anyway. I want to really notice the steam rising off of the water and see the tiny bubbles turn into bigger bubbles.

I want to finish a project five minutes early and spend that five minutes in whatever moment I’m in. I want to look up, look around, and notice – really notice – what’s happening in my world.

I want to enjoy reading and enjoy every word that I read – not thinking about when the page will need to be turned, not hurrying up because I want to get to the end. Just reading and enjoying and allowing myself to be in that moment.

I want to slow down time rather than speed it up. And I have a strong feeling that the way to do this is to be present. Truly present.

Efficiency and lifehacks and timesavers of all kinds have their place, and I’m definitely not saying we should stop using them. But when we feel hurried by them and stressed out because of them, I think it’s a good idea to take a look at that and consciously decide if they are helping or hindering our present moment.

That’s what I’ll be doing. And I encourage you to as well.

Hugs and love,

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Redefining Silence

Silence is Love

Growing up, I was never sure if silence was a good thing that I should strive for or a bad thing that became my punishment for being too rambunctious.

I grew up in a family where metaphorical egg shells were constantly being walked on and fear of when the yelling would begin was always in the back of my mind. I rarely spoke out of turn. And I lived to keep the peace, which oftentimes meant staying as quiet as possible.

My stepdad was a lot of fun in many ways. Much of the time, we were silly and laughed and danced around and acted like well, children. At times, he would encourage my sister and I to sing louder and louder – to belt out our made-up songs at the top of our lungs. He seemed to revel in our pure joy. But at other times, we were chastised for such silliness – yelled at and sent to our rooms for being “children.”

I learned quickly how to gauge his moods and felt out whether silliness or silence was appropriate. I learned how to empty the dishwasher without making a sound. I learned how to tiptoe through the house so my walking wouldn’t disturb him. I learned how it made much more sense to spend time at friends’ houses rather than inviting them to mine. It was just too mortifying to have them be included in the yelling when we were too loud. I learned how to retreat to my room where I wouldn’t be a verbal target.

He and my mom would fight with such loudness and anger, and I feared where their fights would escalate to. It wasn’t uncommon for doors to be slammed, chasing to ensue, and cars to peel out of the driveway. And all the while, the yelling was constant.

I became terrified of this level of anger and this level of being out of control. And I retreated into silence as a way to become invisible and also to stay in control of my emotions. When I was silent, I was no longer in the line of fire. When I was silent, the yelling (at least at me) usually stopped. And so I spent most of my childhood alone in my room – enjoying the silence.

I felt such freedom in silence. No one could get mad at me if I didn’t do anything or say anything to give them fuel to feed their fire. I could go into my own world and go within and be by myself and not worry about anyone else. I could find my way into a peaceful existence.

But then a couple of things happened to pull me away from my cocoon.

First, I saw others around me using silence as a weapon. They would give someone the “silent treatment,” which was the ultimate form of control and definitely wasn’t received well based on what I witnessed.

Second, I had friends tell me that I should be more social and should get out more and should want to talk more and be more outgoing – that somehow all of this silence wasn’t normal and was just plain weird.

I began to feel guilty for my silence and shamed about my wanting to retreat. I wondered if maybe it wasn’t a good thing – maybe it was something that I shouldn’t strive for. Maybe it was somehow manipulative or bad. I was so confused.

I pushed myself to become social. I pushed myself to get out into the world more. And I tried on different relationships and different experiences to see how they felt. Like many of us, as a teenager and young adult, I ended up replicating the behaviors that I learned from my parents and friends in my own relationships. After many years of practice, I got to sift through what was mine and what wasn’t. I got to discover which parts of silence I wanted to keep and which it was time to discard. I gave myself permission to leave all of the definitions of silence from my childhood behind and start fresh.

Which leads me to this moment.

Over the last decade, I’ve been giving myself permission to tiptoe into silence again. I’ve been retreating slowly into my own quiet world again – realizing how much I missed it.

No longer did I feel negativity surrounding silence. No longer did I see it as a punishment or a weapon. There was a purity to it – a lightness. It felt like my home, and when I was there I felt complete freedom.

As I embark upon this year of silence, all sorts of memories and emotions are surfacing from the past. Parts of me that I’ve carried for many, many years – never realizing that they were never mine to carry. I’m ready to release any definition of silence that no longer feels right. I am ready to redefine what silence means to me.

And, while this may change as the year unfolds, here is what it means in this moment:

Silence is love. It’s permission to get to our core, to connect with our soul. It’s what leads us home to complete joy and complete freedom. 

That’s why I’m doing this. Not to be masochistic. Not to prove a point. But to go home.

I’m so excited to take this journey, and I look forward to feeling that unabated joy again. I am almost giddy just thinking about it.

Hugs and love,

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A Trial Run

Permission to Disconnect

This year of silence idea didn’t come about on a whim. It wasn’t a passing thought that swirled into my mind and was quickly grabbed onto. It was something that I had thought about for years. It was something that I had squashed for years. It was something that I had imagined would be too impossible or too scary or too radical or just too much in one way or another.

But, even in the midst of pushing this longing for silence down, I could feel that this idea was coming from deep within. I could feel that it somehow deserved being paid attention to. I found myself sharing about it with my husband more and more. When he would ask me what I needed and wanted more than anything else right now, I would always say “a year of silence.” And, even before the idea was fully solidified, I found myself declaring to close friends that I was getting ready to embark upon this journey.

And even though I didn’t fully believe I would actually follow through with this seemingly crazy and far-fetched idea, it felt like my soul was speaking through me and that I wasn’t able to stop it. It felt like it had become bigger than me in some way.

So, this has been going on for years – this struggle within between my heart and my mind. A push and pull between radical self care and loving trust in my inner voice on one side and logic and naysaying and absolute terror on the other.

I wrote an email to a friend early in the summer saying that I was planning on embarking upon a month of silence in September, which I hoped would someday turn into a full  year. After I sent the message, I sat back and wondered where the words came from and why I felt the need to express them? At that point, I didn’t really think that I would actually do it – I had online groups to run and one-on-one Skype sessions already lined up with my clients throughout the entire month. It just wasn’t possible.

I even wrote about it in my journal – trying to find a way that I could truly do this. Maybe I could double and triple book clients for a few weeks in order to give myself the full month in silence. It seemed possible in that moment of writing, but then quickly I dismissed the idea thinking that it was too selfish and too “out there” and too this or that for me to actually follow through with it. And I went back to “real” life – rather than dreaming about what seemed like a complete fantasy.

As September grew closer (the month I had originally said I would be silent but now had no intention of following through with), I began to feel more and more tired. Things that used to be so simple (such as washing my hair or walking from room to room in my house or standing up for more than a few minutes) became close to impossible.

I became so overwhelmed with stimulus that my husband and I could only speak in whispers to each other, and the thought of talking to anyone else was completely daunting to me. I had been pushing myself for so many years – not caring at all the impact overworking and overstressing had on my body, and it felt like my body had completely given up on me. There were many nights when I would lie awake – wondering if I needed to go to the hospital. I was so sick, so weak, and so afraid.

I went to the doctor and found out that my adrenal glands were tired – very, very tired. And I came home with strict orders to rest. Really rest. Do absolutely nothing. Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t engage in anything that could induce stress. Take the hormones and vitamins and herbs that were given to me. And focus on my own well being and stop worrying about everyone else.

At first, I was shocked. I felt like a failure somehow. I was strong – I could push through this. And I felt like my body needed to buck up and get with the program. I had a job to do, people to connect with, words to write, a life to live. But I was so tired, and all of this resistance felt futile. On a deep level, I knew that I needed to rest, and I could almost literally feel the universe holding me down to make sure I did exactly that.

I had no choice but to completely rearrange my life. I had to cancel all of my upcoming sessions. Stop working for the time being. Stay on the couch or in bed for the entire day. No cooking, no cleaning, no exerting in any way.

For the first few weeks, I fought this new life every step of the way. I resented it, resisted it, and was repulsed by it. I cried and cried about how this could have happened. But then, little by little, I found that I actually was beginning to enjoy this new way of life. While I missed seeing and talking to my friends and clients, I was surprised at how much I was starting to embrace these moments of stillness and silence that were now part of my life.

I ended up being silent for much of August and all of September and October (with the exception of talking to my husband, my mom, and my doctor). Early in the summer, I had listened to my soul and set this intention. And what I find fascinating is that even though I had no intention of actually following through with it, the universe and my soul conspired to take the reins and make it happen. And I’m so glad they did.

I’ve had almost three months of silence now, and I find that I’m longing for so much more. My health is slowly beginning to improve, and I am ready to go deeper into this journey. I feel that I’ve just scratched the surface of what’s to come – the beautiful lessons, the powerful insights, the spiritual connecting, and the amazing healing.

So as I get ready to embrace a year of silence, I’m seeing that I’ve already had a trial run. I’ve already seen that it can be done, that there is nothing scary about it, and that it actually is possible to do and to embrace.

I’ve been so supported over these last few months by friends and also complete strangers – encouraging me as I find my way home. And that makes it so much easier. I feel that the world is my cheering squad, and when I find myself weary and unsure of the next step, someone always manages to come along at that exact moment and help me find the courage to continue this journey.

We truly do live in a beautiful world, and I’m learning that the messages that we receive from our soul are there to help us – not to keep us from living. They are there to help us expand into who we really are at our core. They are there to help us stop pushing against the current and be able to relax into it again. They are there to help us find our way home. I find that to be such a miracle.

Hugs and love,

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I am currently writing a book about what I learned during my year of silence, and I would love to share it with you when it comes out! To sign up to be notified, please enter your name and email below and click on the Subscribe button. You'll also receive my guided meditation for free!

Breathing In Trust

It's Okay to Feel Afraid

Fear can be so powerful. It can wrap around us so tightly that sometimes we find it hard to breathe. It can wind itself around our heart and our mind and our body and our emotions and every single part of us – convincing us that there is truth to it, convincing us that we have no choice other than listen to it. It can keep us up at night and hold us hostage with every toss and turn that we make. It can make everything – absolutely everything – seem bigger and badder. And in the dark of night, it can make us believe that it is keeping us safe, that it knows us better than anyone else, and that we are better off listening to it and doing whatever it is telling us to do (or not do).

But then morning comes. The birds chirp. The light shines in and warms our entire body. And, thankfully, the darkness that has consumed us – the fear that has just about paralyzed us – slowly begins to dissipate.

And in this moment, we remember that we are not our fear. We are so much more than our fear. And we are no longer willing to give it more power than it deserves.

Yes, it’s part of us. Yes, it has every right to be in our life. And yes, it wants nothing more than to keep us safe. But is staying safe serving us? Is staying safe helping us grow and expand and learn and share? Usually not. And so that’s when it becomes extra important to shine light on our fear and see it for what it is: a part of us who doesn’t have the benefit of seeing what’s ahead, a part of who doesn’t have access to our soul’s calling or our full potential, a part who has only past experiences to draw upon (rather than our aspirations and hopes and dreams that we were born to realize).

As I’m getting ready to embrace this year of silence, I’m in the midst of this darkness – this fear. I’m feeling the tightness in my chest, the breaths that seems to stop abruptly before a full inhale can be taken, the worry, the anxiety, the doubt. All of these emotions are swirling around extra quickly since I announced that I will be embarking on this adventure yesterday.

I wondered if I’ve made a mistake. I questioned if this is all too much. And I seriously considered scrapping the entire project. I hoped that maybe I somehow misheard or misinterpreted my soul’s whispers, and maybe I didn’t really need to be silent for the entire year after all.

In many ways, my life would be easier if this were true. I would get to stay in my comfort zone – in the known, and I could continue my life as usual. I could continue pushing back my soul’s whispers and continue squashing my soul’s calling and continue ignoring this feeling from deep within that what I need more than anything else is time and space and quiet and stillness to be able to hear my own voice again – to be able to connect with the universe again – to feel whole again.

It’s true. I could do this. And I could use the excuse that I’m just not ready to leap – that’s it’s just too soon. And I could really believe this on many, many levels. Except for the level that really matters – the level where my soul lives. It knows that it’s time. It knows that I’m ready. And even though I’m kicking and screaming and pushing and pulling to do anything except that which I know I truly must do, I know that I will show up.

Because I trust this process. I trust my soul. I trust this loving inner voice that has never steered me wrong. I trust the universe that we’re all a part of and know that when something feels so strong within me that it must not be ignored.

Here’s what it really boils down to: I like to be in control. And I like knowing what’s ahead. And what I keep hearing my soul say to me is that the unknown is part of the journey – it’s what I’m meant to embrace and find joy in and be okay with.

Control is an illusion anyway. It’s something that I’ve been trying to corral and hang onto my entire life, and yet it always manages to slip through my fingers.

So here I am. Feeling immense fear. Feeling like my entire foundation has been cracked open. And choosing to stay right here – to stay open to fully experiencing whatever may come.

Who knows? Maybe this will even be fun? (Imagine that!) 🙂 Maybe it will be a beautiful experience filled with expansion and growth and love and light.

That’s what I’m hoping for.

But whatever it ends up being, I know that I’m here. I’m showing up. I’m saying yes. And I’m taking the leap.

That’s really all we can do. And that’s really everything.

Hugs and love,

jodi signature copy

Free Reconnecting with Your Soul Guided Meditation!
I am currently writing a book about what I learned during my year of silence, and I would love to share it with you when it comes out! To sign up to be notified, please enter your name and email below and click on the Subscribe button. You'll also receive my guided meditation for free!