Isn’t it glorious to just go with the flow?
This was my vacation in Maine. Getting caught in a squall, finding delight in a hike, and then fright in ferocious ankle bites. There was a long slither and slide down the mud-soaked mountainside, and a wind that whipped the water to frothy fullness as a bald eagle soared silently by.
And I had no idea what I looked like to others, as there were few mirrors and only gas lights at night. And guess what? I didn’t care. Because on this remote lake island, we were all comfortably at ease with laughter and silence, silliness and deliciously spontaneous conversations.
Like the 6:00 am animated deep dive, with hot coffees in hand as I learned that our next-door cabin neighbors were a pediatrician, and her husband, a child psychiatrist. Equally delightful, I learned that his father wrote the now widely known, other version, of the 1840s Appalachian song: On Top of Old Smokey. Remember this?
On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed…
Yup, one week later and I’m still belting it out like a national anthem.
E-Motion in Motion
So the external weather was a mix of rain and sun, hot and cold, muggy and moist and magnificent. My internal weather was equally expansive. I felt sleepy, shocked, excited, hopeful, relaxed, grounded, content, concerned about my husband’s stomach bug, sick of the biting bugs and eagerly adventurous.
My emotions were in motion, lingering just as long as the lake lap swim and then shape-shifting with the wind. It was a glorious feeling to be present to it all.
The 90-Second Emotion Rule
Our emotions actually have the ability to shift and release with far more fluidly than we realize. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, specializes in how our brains create our perception of reality. She explains that when we have a reaction to something, whether pleasant or unpleasant, there is a 90-second chemical process that happens in our body. After that, any lingering emotional response is a result of us choosing to stay in the emotional loop.
In other words, we create our attachments.
By sharing this, I am NOT saying that when trauma happens, we can just shake it off like an animal. The body does indeed bear the burden.
However, while compartmentalizing our difficult emotions can be helpful at times, ultimately it just jams up our energy. Like the large dams that require 24-hour maintenance to patch up the constant small cracks, holding back our emotions requires significant vigilance.
Creating the Dam; Releasing the Water
Here’s a way to envision how easily we create our own dams. I invite you to draw a circle with me, right now. Next, think about some things you don’t like to feel. Maybe anger, hope, confusion, excitement, disagreement, longing, joy, regret, uncertainty – it’s not just unpleasant emotions that we guard against. Write what comes to mind in the circle. Is it getting crowded? Need some air? Sometimes we hold so much back, there’s no space to enjoy a full life.
Upon returning from vacation, I discovered I had been holding a crowded circle (pre-vacation) of tiredness, frustration, hope and unknowing. My dam broke and the emotions came in like a squall and back out sunshine, along with a restored sense of energy and purpose.
A Simple E-Motion in Motion Practice
This is a great exercise to do with yourself and it’s equally amazing with teams. Try it now. It will only take a moment. No planning. Just answer these questions one by one:
My mind is _____________ (one word).
My body is _____________ (one word).
My heart is _____________ (one word).
My spirit is _____________ (one word).
Now I’ll answer, also in this very moment:
My mind is — malleable.
My body is — antsy.
My heart is — aching.
My spirit is — mischievous.
I’ve got a number of contradictions going, yes? You? It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Practice this more regularly to see how it informs your energy and expands your playfulness, focus and creativity.
Speaking of which, my malleable mind and mischievous spirit want to wander back to the meatballs, second verse. Come join me! Grab your kid within you or the kids around you and sing it out:
It rolled off the table, it rolled on the floor, And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door…
Alrighty. Signing off now. I bet you’re relieved 😊.