Thrilled or Tethered? YOU Decide! - Christine Kane

Today’s post was written by guest blogger, Sue Ludwig. Sue is a neonatal occupational therapist and a published poet. She is a consultant to neonatal intensive care units around the country and a national speaker. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

“I am either thrilled to be the one that’s in my shoes. Or tethered to the tyranny of all of my To-Do’s”
– Christine Kane, “How Not to Behave”

Last week, my husband was sitting in his ‘man-garage’ for hours putting together a football playbook for our son’s 7th grade team. He apologized for taking so much time from our evening to work on this task.

I told him not to apologize, because whether he wanted to admit it or not, he LOVES doing this. He revels in making this project so organized, thorough, and fun.

He smiled and admitted that, yes, he does love this.  And I couldn’t help but feel lighter and happier, seeing him so passionate about coaching.

This moment made me think of the line from Christine’s song “How Not to Behave.”  My husband was thrilled to be the one in his shoes at that moment. Even though it was tedious, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of the greatest things Christine has taught me is that we always have a choice. If presented with how to spend my time, energy and talents, would I rather be thrilled about what I’m doing or feel tethered to a To-Do list approach to life?

It may sound silly, but it was like someone opened a breezy window when I learned I actually get to choose how I spend my time!!

This doesn’t mean that life should be one big party that involves no work. It means that you get to love the work you’re doing, how you spend your time, and with whom you spend it. Even within the work you love there are tasks you don’t love so much. But they don’t feel tether-y because they serve your greater vision.

So here’s the question:

What things/people are you thrilled to give energy to, and what things leave you feeling tethered?

Letting Go of Tethers

This past winter, my friend/colleague and I were working on a substantial work-related project. It was the ‘right thing to do’. It was the good scientific thing to do. It was going to take about a year and a half to complete.

I loathed this project.

I loved the idea of its possible results. I loved that many people would be happy to have it when complete. But I didn’t love the actual process at all. I grudgingly handed over reels of time to this project.  It left me feeling detached, sometimes irritable and always tethered.

I slowly realized I was doing it just to make everyone else feel happy and satisfied. And to make sure I appeared credible and worthy, instead of just knowing that I am.

As we were ready to finish another step in the project I began to let the idea of letting it ALL GO drift into my mind. It felt like guilty pleasure at first. I couldn’t admit it aloud.

During one of our coaching calls, I told Christine that working on this project felt like death to me. To sit down and work on it, I felt I had to literally chain myself to the laptop. I could feel my energy drain out of me.

In pure Christine fashion she simply said, “We allow no ‘feeling like death’ here.”

After much deliberation and a few difficult calls, I chose to lovingly give this project away, free to a good owner. Because I knew someone would love to do this important work. It just wasn’t me.

In the months since, I have unleashed that tethered energy to create the most meaningful and fun work of my life. Including all the long hours and hard work, I am thrilled to be the one in my shoes. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

If you’ve never experienced the sensation and elation of doing something that thrills you, let your internal wisdom teach you this:

Thrilled! Being thrilled about how you spend your energy feels exciting and light. It feels like you are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are energized and creative. Your energy takes the form of action. You have forward motion. Your B-M-S loop is in alignment. You smile more. Your energy is both grounded and contagious.

Tethered: Being tethered does not inspire the use of exclamation points – ever.
It feels heavy in your body. Your thoughts about this task or work feel dull and uninspired. Your energy takes a sedentary stance. You often dread this thing you feel tethered to or this time you are spending with someone. Your energy around this says to the world: Eeyore.

Think about where and to whom you give your energy. Make a list if it helps. Pay attention to how things you’re doing leave you feeling and thinking.

Start with one thing that leaves you feeling tethered.

Choose to let go of this one thing and watch the room it creates for you and in you. Watch how this opens up more time to spend on something that thrills you.

Even if the thing that thrills you is simply to have made more space inside your mind and heart. How great that will be for you, for the world.

  • sue

    Thanks for all of your well thought out comments! So fun to read.

    Chrissy-of course you’re ‘allowed’ to do this with anything. It’s all up to you and what you want in your life, and the consequences you’re willing to live with to reach that!

    Janice-hang in there!!! Yay for being almost done!

  • Janice Campbell

    I’m almost done with my “tethered” project, but you’re right– working on it can feel like death. On the other hand, it will be a new passive stream of income when it’s done. And it’s almost done and I’m going to have one big fat party to celebrate when it’s finally buried!

    If I’d read this sooner, I may very well have passed the project on, because I really could use that space in my life. Almost done. Almost done….

  • Deb

    I have been feeling tethered to a person. Not just tethered but emotionally beaten, drained and I have allowed it out of guilt. This person is my father.

    I actually did a cleansing ritual which I may have to do over and over. I handed him back all his crap and shaming and then help up my arms to allow God’s peace and freedom to come over and fill me.

    I am not willing to cast him out of my life , at least not yet, so will need to repeat this exercise and keep being assertive so as not to retether myself.
    Thank you.

  • Sue Sullivan

    “Your energy around this says to the world: Eeyore.” I love the image!

  • Gary

    After reading this I realized that this is something I experienced just this week, I wondered where all my renewed energy and enthusiasm came from. It truly is a refreshing thing to do. Thanks for writing it out – it’s now even better savored understood.

  • Chrissy

    Are we allowed to do this for dealing with family members that you have to deal with because they are family members? Like in laws that your kids love to see but who gossip and don’t support you?

  • Scott

    Great post. You articulate the philosophy of “Strengths” very well. It is so important to play to our strengths most of the time. When we find ourselves weakened by an activity we find someone who is strengthened by the same activity and share.

  • Carol

    Wow, just wow. I actually felt myself breathing deeply and absorbing more light from my surroundings as I read this. Thank YOU.

  • Laura

    Hey,Sue! Great post! The last 3 weeks of my life have been insane with the move to Charleston, but I have loved it, and actually everything has fallen into place at the right place at the right time. I know too well the “feel like death” feeling and have no plans to revisit that place. Thanks!

  • Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching

    Thanks for this — it’s amazing how much energy we can free up when we stop telling ourselves we “have to” do this or that and start acknowledging that we have a choice — even if it’s something mundane like getting up to go to the office in the morning.

  • Mary Jo (Sam)

    Great question! I actually fell into a new career this past spring, and as I look back, even though I thought I loved my job as a K-8 substitute teacher, I was ‘tethered’ by fear, mostly fear of the 7th & 8th graders, and really was unhappy. I moved into the Special Ed Dept. and feel like a little kid getting ready for the new school year. I know there will be not so good days, but am thrilled with the challenges ahead!

  • Deanne

    Always great to be reminded about choices. So easy to forget. Love the tethered methapor. Thanks

  • Megan

    Thanks, Sue. I realized reading this that I’ve recently found a way to feel untethered to my workout routine. I had been doing a really intensive boot camp class with a very intense coach, which I needed and enjoyed a year ago. However, a few months ago I stopped working out because I started to feel tethered about it. Now, I’ve switched to a trainer who is a little calmer, but still pushes me and yoga once a week. This small change made working out into Ta Da, not To Do.

  • kathleen

    Hi Sue, that is one of my favourite songs from Christine’s album – and I LOVE that line! Thanks for expanding on it with such insight and clarity and showing us how to make it real in our lives. It’s all about saying NO to the things that drain us and YES to those that inspire us 🙂

  • Kelly – Sister of another mother

    Suze, Great post!! It is exhilarating to ‘hear’ the ‘space’ in your writing. There is so much food for thought in this post that I will definitely be coming back again and again to it. I am so blessed to have seen your transformation from tethered to thrilled. Joe and I talk about how we see it in the way you walk and talk. You are truly an inspiration for those of us upleveling to new places. Interesting that this is where I am in the program. THANKS!!

  • Mindful Mimi

    Sue this is so true! Ooh I’m rhyming. I am in the middle of exactly what you describe. And I can tell you it feels GOOOOOD!

  • Gladys

    Sue, thank you so much for this awesome post – it came just as I needed it. I made the decision earlier this year to stop settling for what was in my life; if it wasn’t an absolute yes, it was a no. I’ve hit a few bumps along the way, but I have learned and become stronger in my resolve. My biggest challenge is coming – my job may no longer have funding in a few weeks, and I don’t want to be tethered to it or another one. I want to do my own business full time and be thrilled to work hard at it! Your post summed it all up so nicely, and I’m sure I’ll re-read it often in the coming days.

  • sue

    Thanks for all of your great comments! So fun to see what things strike different people. Thx for taking the time to write.

    Lu-you’re right. It is easier with a project that a person. But there are certainly people who leave us feeling this way as well. We can decide if that feeling is something we want more of, less of, or none of. No one can decide that for anyone else.

    Laurie-loved your big deep breath!

    Kathy-this made me lol. OH yeah, that song…i know her… 🙂

  • Di

    Thanks, this is so clear and so simple. Much appreciated.

  • juliana

    Fabulous post Sue! Thanks so much for this thoughtful reminder.

  • Mary

    Great post Sue! I really enjoyed reading it. Following my heart and paying attention to what thrills me and excites me in my work is what keeps me going.

    Thank you for your inspiration!

  • Marie

    Great post – this is one of my biggest issues to continually tackle (I always pick “tethered” because I feel that is responsible and adult and career-minded and I “should”).

  • Jenny

    This is a great message, Sue. I like how you talked about the project’s results feeling good, but the process feeling tethered. I can easily get stuck in a place where the end feels good but the process feels yucky, and hang on to the end-state feeling to keep me going. This is a perfect reminder that the process can still be work but it shouldn’t feel like death.

    Lastly, the imagery of having more space in my mind and heart is just juicy. Thank you!

  • Eva

    Sue-great post. I love all the “Thrilled” stuff i’ve been doing lately. Learning to let go of the “tethered” stuff without feeling irresponsible. 😉

  • Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Great post, Sue! I can relate! I recently started a project I am thrilled about and it is exactly as you describe! I have energy and enthusiasm for it, and no concern for outcome, I just simply love working on it. When I integrate working on this passion into my days, the things that make me feel somewhat tethered become joyously tolerable. Finding something that thrills you, and integrating it into your life gives the whole shape of your life harmony.

    Giving up that project that felt like the death of you was so powerful! Thank you for having the courage to do it, and for sharing the experience with us here!

  • Lee

    Thank you for this post. I believe every word you said in my heart and sometimes my head does, too. Other times, the critic sneaks in and tells me that saying no to something I feel tethered to is lazy and selfish. Thanks for the reminder to tell that critic to go away.

  • laurie

    Aaaahhhhh…this post was a big, beautiful, deep breath – which is the best (!) way to begin something that may feel new, as well as also oh-so-right, and, oh-so-NEEDED! Many thanks to you Sue for so obviously writing from your heart. When ideas are shared — which are meant to encourage and inspire — they are most powerful when they come from one who is doing the learning herself, as well. I found reading about your own path toward clarity & the eventual “letting go”, so helpful. This translates as something not only desirable (as well as convincing ourselves its within reach) – it is do-able! Thanks also to you Christine for creating the connection to Sue and her message. P.S. Kathy – perfect connection! I love that one, too. Oh, here’s to not being afraid…

  • Lu

    Wow, this message is so on point for a particular area of my life. Actually, I can apply it to two. One of them is a little more difficult to let go of and I know this to be so because I know that the letting go does not just involve me. It would simpler if it was a project and not a person.

  • Holli C. Buck

    This was an amazing post and it was just what I needed to read this morning! I’m currently going through some upheaval regarding my career situation and I have made the decision to do what THRILLS me instead of what I feel tethered to. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’d rather put my work time and energy into something I love than to feel that I’m giving my time away to something I’m not invested in.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

  • Kathy

    A truly thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing! Wouldn’t it be a better world if we all could let go of the things that tether us and instead be thrilled most of the time? Perhaps we are “afraid to be overjoyed” as one of my favorite singer-songwriters put it. What’s her name again? Oh yes, Christine Kane!

  • nicolien

    Thank you.