“How do you do that?” asked my new friend. I quickly started assessing what part of my life is she referring to? This isn’t the first time I have been asked that question. I assume she’s wondering about the early hour I get up. Even though I’m not sure what she is asking about, I know how to answer the question. “Because I love it.”
This was the story I had just shared with her….
Monday mornings I happily wake up at 3 AM. On a perfect day, my eyes open at 2:55. That gives me validation I’m supposed to be waking up at such an early hour. My husband joins me at 3:30AM for green smoothies. I leave the house at 4:30 to start my 75 mile commute (one way.) I workout near the office, and I’m sitting at my desk at 8AM to start my 13 hour day. I have worked a 13 hour day on Mondays for 20 years. I haven’t always had a 75 mile commute. That started 2 years ago when we started a purchased a run down farmhouse and turned it into a wellness studio. My husband works there full time. His main job is running the business. His part time job is finishing the renovations.
During the work week, I am a therapist at a domestic violence program. I work with victims, perpetrators and children who witness the chaos. I have done for 20 years.
Turns out my new friend was wondering how I to work with perpetrators of domestic violence. I’m aware this work is not for everyone. Many of my clients have done horrible things. The kind of stuff people have a hard time listening to without getting upset. My responsibilities there are to educate, hold people responsible and believe change is possible. When I’m working with abusers, I am focused on helping them make a turnaround for the sake of their partners and children as well as for themselves. Does it always work? No. But there are so many different examples of change/success/achievement. There’s a lot of room for growth and improvement. I love being in a position to assist someone in this process.
My new friend was wondering if my job has altered my view of the world. I started my career with a positive attitude about supporting people through life’s transitions. If anything my experience has strengthened my resolve that this work is part of my life’s purpose.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe”~ Albert Einstein
Our attitudes have a drastic impact on how we see things. From the minute I wake up I decide to be happy and optimistic, even though I will probably be exposed to appalling examples of human behavior. I see life as a journey filled with opportunities to help others and ourselves. This view point is what makes my work possible.
When I am actually doing the work, I am in my “flow.” I know in that moment, I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing at that time. When we hear about “flow” we don’t typically envision a lady facilitating a group for abusers. We might think of someone running a marathon, playing the piano, or painting a masterpiece.
Flow has been defined as an experience when doing a difficult task but it feels manageable. When explaining your flow, the description might be, “it’s just what I do.”
Flow can occur many times through out the day. I feel it when I get up at 3AM. I feel it when I whip up a green smoothie. I feel it when I drive 75 miles. I feel it when I workout. I feel it when I run any kind of group or talk to people that contact me for support. I feel it when I blog. I have felt flow when I help my husband with renovations! Flow doesn’t mean the activity will be easy. It just means you are in your zone doing something that feels right.
Today is Sunday. My flow this afternoon will involve sitting on the couch snuggling with my husband, dog and cat. I know in those moments that’s exactly what I should be doing. I have a lot on my to-do list. But I know my favorite Sundays are filled with down time.
“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.”` Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Where’s your flow? Do you think you can develop flow around things you might not initially enjoy? Do you think attitude and beliefs effect flow? Can you see the little, tiny rainbow in my picture?