Knock, Knock: The Importance of Noticing

Becoming Your Best, Step One: Notice

Many of us miss out on the importance of noticing our world. How many things do we ignore when there’s not a “problem?” And what if there’s a problem, but it’s not that big of a deal and we can deal with it later? Things that we call problems can take up a large portion of our attention, along with the urge is to solve it. Scratch the itch. Patch the leak. Ease the pain. 

On the path to Becoming Your Best, however, we’ll need to notice a little deeper than that – because it’s about optimization. We’re not talking about surviving here – we’re talking about thriving – deep, full-bodied, open-hearted living. Even flitting from pleasure to pleasure gets a little empty after awhile. So I invite you to Be the Cause of your Being in Step One: from Non-Awareness to Noticing. Further, I invite you to deepen your noticing – from Passive to Present to Purposeful. 

What’s the big deal about intentional noticing?

Before we take on anything new or different, even if it’s supposed to be wildly good for us, we want to imagine the effect on the systems that already exist. No matter how brilliant or seemingly universal a solution or system may look, it doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Every person has their own considerations, and therefore their own path.

You would be appalled if a doctor prescribed any medication or recommended surgery without a thorough examination, analysis, and diagnosis – let alone the knowledge of any side effects or contraindications. Doctors are also keenly aware that if they miss the mark, the impact of “malpractice” is a very big deal. We also have punishments in the business world for “false advertising.” We’re probably not going to be sued as individuals for ordering an unsatisfying dish, or being in a toxic relationship too long, or missing our life’s purpose for a decade. But the effect of routinely dismissing the notifications, or numbing the pain, or dulling the sensation, or snoozing the alarms, is that we miss our maximum capacity for life.

Take the difference between school-as-factory (everybody receives the same thing, the same way) and differentiated learning (every student is an individual and receives what they need), and even the leap from there to a collaborative environment that helps each student discover how they learn best and supports them pursuing their interests (ie the Montessori model). Could we treat ourselves so generously? What would happen if we were really willing to learn about what is going on right now in our experience of the world, and get in touch with our heart’s desires in a deeper and more genuine way?

Limitations: Noticing, while important, is not a magic pill.

  • It only works in the present. Past evaluations may or may not be valid. It’s never one-and-done. It’s continual. So while you may want to congratulate yourself for compassionately appraising how your mother triggered you this time, it’s not a good idea to rest on your laurels and excuse yourself from the table with a blanket statement about what kind of relationship you have with her. Count on people and circumstances to evolve.
  • If you’re looking for something, you’re more likely to find it. Confirmation bias is real. Focus or fixate on something and you’ll see it everywhere. Even when you think you’re noticing casually, you take an active part in creating your environment based on what you tend to see.
  • Assessments can only measure what they’re designed to measure. A well-designed tool for noticing can really help – as long as it lines up with what you care about noticing. Learning your Hogwarts house won’t help you learn your love language – and neither piece of information will necessarily tell you what went wrong in your last relationship. This doesn’t prevent you from drawing conclusions from a misapplication of an assessment – so use care when you pick what tools to use. Decide what you care about noticing – which is already something to notice.
  • All the noticing in the world does not produce results alone. I’m highlighting the importance of noticing as a first step, but it’s not everything.

How To Practice Noticing?

Here are some ideas to start moving along the scale from Non-awareness to Noticing.

Importance of Noticing: Concrete Practice Ideas

  • Perform a body scan: 
    • tune in to each part separately (top to bottom) and the whole
    • include your vitals – quality of breath, heart rate, temperature, perceived tension, etc.
  • Complete an audit:
    • Thoughts: observe what you are thinking.
    • Emotions: take stock of your feelings, moods, and attitudes.
    • Behaviors: what are you doing? What have you been doing?
    • Relationships: what are the gifts and challenges of relationships in your life?
    • Values: what has been important to you lately?
    • Resistance: what have you been resisting lately?
    • Wants & needs: how do you want or need to be cared for?
    • Deep desires & yearnings: what are the bigger movements of your life geared toward?
  • Tune in to your environment:
    • Sounds
    • Sights
    • Sensations

This is a case for continuing your education – to continually and liberally apply your observational skills to your brilliant and beautiful experience, such that you may cultivate a wild and rich garden that produces many fruits in your world and the world of others.

Notice & Zoom: a final note

I believe that we are each a human fractal. If it’s true that “how we show up anywhere is how we show up everywhere,” then we can zoom out or in and ask relevant, useful questions about what we discover. If something is pinging you on a small scale – an irritating sensation, a sudden pleasure – you can ask what it’s about. While it could be true that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, it could also be true that there is some symptom or sign that there is a bigger fish to fry than we had been aware of.

Vice versa: if there is some huge change or shift going on in our world – career change, health event – it could be important to pay attention to how many levels of our experience it is affecting. We might even notice a pattern of behavior – conflict avoidance, neglect of self-care – and find that it’s illuminating to zoom both in and out, to see how it’s affecting our inner world and our outer environment.

Carry on, and happy Noticing!

You can see the previous steps in my 5-part series on Becoming Your Best here: Overview & Step Zero.

Chaos, Life Coaching, Perfect, Perfection, Pole Dance, WonderPlay Coaching

Chaos As Perfection

I’d like to introduce you to a tiny video clip from a final dress rehearsal.
This is from my 2018 pole competition piece. Turn the sound up to hear my reaction to breaking a piece of a prop: “Sh*t. There goes that!” Unexpected result: it was one hell of a dress rehearsal run – arguably even better than the actual performance, when the props all stayed in one piece.

What is possible when our best-laid plans go awry?
BluesSHOUT! 2016, featuring myself and partner Curtis Ellis when we heard an unexpected lyric during our [blues dance] competition final. Who KNOWS what happened next. PC Mélanie Bert

I know that I can create a Win-Win situation out of seemingly impossible dichotomies. 

And so I ask:

How can life be Perfect when it seems Messy?

Where am I willing to generate Perfection within Chaos?

How could I see Chaos AS Perfection?

I’ve collected many thoughts on this in the last few years.

I was in a coaching group led by Megan Taylor Morrison and Peter Will Benjamin, who told us that they were practicing the following concept:

“Everything Is Perfect.”

Preparing to swim into a Montezuma waterfall with my husband on our 2018 Costa Rica trip. This video is 3 seconds long because our guide and videographer took this 3 second video. While not what we intended, it certainly does capture part of the spirit of the thing.

I have since changed my understanding of that word.

Perfect doesn’t necessarily imply shiny happy people. It implies that I have everything I need to facilitate my life. “Uncomfortable” does not mean “bad” or “wrong” – in the same way, “perfect” doesn’t mean “idyllic.”

  • I learned from having my bag stolen in Costa Rica how easy, freeing, and simple it can be to release physical objects and possessions, and about what what I truly value. 
  • I learned from Pascal and Belonia, Ayahuasca shamans we met on that same trip in Costa Rica, that the Madre (some would say “The Universe”) teaches and shows us exactly what we need – especially when we ask to see and know it. 
  • I learned from the leader of my training program at Accomplishment Coaching that we might consider that everything that we experience is training. 

In what ways can I see that conditions are perfect to create whatever will be next? How is this “chaos” that I have generated actually a gift, rather than something to bemoan or decry?

This dichotomy of Chaos and Perfection often shows up in creative processes.

There are creative moments that seem incredibly ordered.

Jeff Casey at the Towle Theater puts together a mean production calendar.
Even that, though, gets shifted and changed as we learn and refine the type work an ensemble will really need. You better believe that we have an inspired process with room for every actor to experience their process, and we share expectations of excellence and achievement from the very beginning. And yet, part of what brings the inspiration to that company is that it really ends up being a collaborative experience: anything the actors bring to the table gets considered, to the point of really wild moments becoming part of shows that make the role uniquely theirs.

There are also parts of a creative process wherein explosive brilliance may be unpredictable.

I think of the pole dancers I admire in the community, likeTracee Kafer, who has created an entire movement (Finding Your Freestyle) around the assertion that freedance is a way of exploring and expressing what already exists within.

To bring it back to daily life, I would ask:

how is it perfect right now?

When my housemates don’t use our house calendar the same way I do…

would it make it perfect to reflect that this experience highlights my commitment to:
*creating intentional community where everyone’s time, energy, space, and boundaries are respected and honored,
*and we create time for purposeful and meaningful interactions with each other?

I say yes!

When I have piles of notes, papers and business cards on my desk right now…

*is it actually perfect to be bringing my awareness to what information exists in the midst of transitioning to new CRM systems for my business – which I have never needed until now?*Instead of being grumpy about the look of it, can I be grateful for the symptom of growth?*It could also be a way for me to learn what I really want and need from my working space, both physical and digital.

How perfect!

How could it possibly be perfect that everything in my life is not pretty, presentable, and put together?

*I would say, I’m becoming more aligned in fulfilling commitment to my growth, development,*and being increasingly responsible for bringing my gifts fully to the table – manicured or not.

I have acknowledged that for me, Fully Expressed IS Perfect.

Consider where you stand on 

Chaos as Perfection.

I challenge you to look at what you might consider a “mess” and declare it Perfect, as it is.

I invite you, next time you experience something as a curveball or a monkey wrench (or a downright implosion), that you create gratitude for the training from the Universe as you become one step more prepared for what may be down the road for you.

What Else Is Up at WonderPlay Coaching?!

Human-Up! Workshops

You can catch exercises around this topic, and others, at my monthly Human-Up! Workshops. They’re by donation…and there are pancakes. Check them out here!

Want to join in the conversation? Come to the ImpacTable! It’s another monthly event over food, glorious food, where I feature awesome impacters in the Chicagoland area who are doing rocking things.

This is my hilarious video about ImpacTable.
Share it with your friends, so they can see what they’re getting into.

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Footnote: RE continuing from the first pole video: the first performance turned out like this. If you want to cheer on the next version, I’m performing it at NAPDC 2018 as International Elite and at Pole Theatre USA as Semi-Pro Dramatic. Woo hoo! Let’s see how perfectly messy I get. <3