Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Standing Still

“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world,
the most difficult and the most intellectual”

It has become a pattern for me, in the last 7-10 years, to pick up and move when something has seemingly run it's course, ended, or caught up with me. I have made decisions about where to be, when, and for how long sometimes based on reasons outside of myself; running away out of fear, denial; or to get lost in order to find myself. But I have learned, like many before me:

whatever you are running from will eventually catch up with you time and time again...

This is the first time in a long time that I haven't wanted to leave a place when my reason for coming was no longer. Though I tried to leave, initially opening myself up to opportunities across the country. My story here does not feel finished and thoughts of leaving caused much stress and anxiety. Perhaps it was the uncertainty about where to go next; the waiting for a reason outside of myself to make clear the next path to follow. Perhaps my transient ways served a purpose until now; teaching me to listen for the call to move on so that I would notice it's absence in this moment. Perhaps my weary mind, heart and soul are simply whispering: stand still!

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all; the best place to go is exactly where you are.

I do not know how long I will stay. But I do know that my reasons for staying are mine and they are coming from within me:
I am not staying for a relationship; nor for a specific job opportunity – though I am building valued friendships and gaining career-related experience. I am not staying to flee someone, something, or somewhere – as I have based past decisions. I am simply choosing to stand still for awhile. To let what has been chasing me finally catch up; to let what I have been chasing either stand still with me or fade in the growing distance in front of me.

Whether I find myself planting roots here for years to come, or transplanting myself yet again after a time, I am learning to trust the reasons within me as valid, true, and enough. And I am excited to see what I may learn, experience, and find waiting for me here, in the stillness.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Facing Myself

“You can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself.”
~ Unknown

I have a little bit of a saviour-complex... with unresolved (& perhaps unacknowledged) emotional issues... particularly when it comes to guys and relationships.

Yet even though I have maybe on some level known this for awhile, I have only recently begun to admit it out loud. And I feel it has grown over the last 5+ years too - as my own unresolved (and perhaps unacknowledged) emotional issues have festered... It's just easier to try to fix someone else than to face yourself...

Recently I met a man who really seems to have his sh!t together – at least emotionally speaking. He is confident in, and true to who he is and what he wants. And while I find him and those qualities attractive, after hanging out a few times I just wasn't sure I was feeling the kind of connection I wanted to be feeling.

Then he told me: though he hasn't been alone or unhappy, he also hasn't really been in love since his high school girlfriend 20+ years ago.
The unresolved – perhaps unacknowledged – emotional issue (as *I* defined it to be) was revealed. And my heart broke for him. Enter emotional-saviour-complex: immediately there was a voice in my head saying “That's not right, he should feel love; he should feel loved. Maybe I can fix that! Maybe I can find someone for him to fall in love with. Maybe it could be me...”

I couldn't fully articulate right away why this revelation broke my heart for him. After all my heart's been battered and bruised by love more than twice, and most of the time I'm not even sure how I feel about love and relationships in general these days. But then I remembered that the times I have felt love for and felt loved by a partner have been some of the most amazing moments in my life – despite the pain they may have led to. These are some of the moments I would re-live in a heart beat, even knowing where I stand now.

Upon further reflection I think maybe my heart also broke a little because I realized yet again that none of us are immune to emotional issues of one kind or another at some point in our lives. And the only responsibility we each have – the only responsibility *I* have is to take care of my own. Only then can I have the slightest hope of supporting someone else through theirs.

It's likely no coincidence that this later revelation came on the heels of remembering that love has amazing moments; that I have been lucky to have loved and been loved by more than two... And so I am being challenged and inspired to face my own issues; to be my own emotional-saviour; to let go; and to open myself to the possibility of falling again, and again, and again....

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Being 30-something

                “No wise man ever wished to be younger.”
                                                                  Jonathon Swift

I have been having a difficult time “growing up”...

A couple weeks ago, right before my birthday, I saw this eCard floating around Facebook:

Like someone climbed into my head and wrote down my experience! And not to brag at all – ok, maybe to brag a little – when I disclose my age most people respond with genuine surprise and comments that I look younger. Obviously I generally enjoy these moments! (I thanked the LCBO teller who ID'd me the week before my birthday this year; then there was the 19 year old who approached me at the bar during my birthday celebrations... and, even though he had some impressive game, I remembered the above eCard!)

One of the truths I've been learning especially in the last few months is that sometimes being 30-something kinda sucks! And no one really talks about it; at least not in conversation circles I was a part of. It's like in your 20s you're supposed to be exploring yourself and the world around you, trying to figure things out. In the psychology field we call it delayed adolescence or the emerging adulthood stage of development: delaying the (socially prescribed) “responsibilities of adulthood” such as career, home-ownership, marriage, kids. And then one morning you wake up and you're 30(-something) and all of a sudden you're supposed to have it all figured out.

But what if you don't?

For me, it was this depressing realization that 30-something caught up with me when I wasn't looking. That I hadn't really accomplished many of the things I thought I would have by now; that I'm not really where I thought I would be at this point in my life. And really, that the world isn't what I thought it was.

Though I am single, childless, and just entering the career-type-job search; I think this overall realization about life and the world actually has little to do with the (socially prescribed) “responsibilities of adulthood” (nor does it necessarily always occur at 30-something, for some it may be earlier or later in life). All those things do is change the experience of the realization-induced depression. While I am struggling to find purpose in getting out of bed in the morning, lounging around the rented apartment that I share with 3 other women, watching TV all day until my shift at the restaurant starts (a job that, even though I enjoy it for what it is, reminds me why I went to grad school and why I am career-searching in this economy); some of my 30-something friends/family are dragging themselves out of bed to feed the kids; to show up at a job they may or may not like in order to pay the mortgage; perhaps wishing they could sleep in and lounge around watching TV all day... something, anything to distract from the realization that the world is not what we thought it was; that the life we are living is not what we expected it to be by the time we were 30-something. Whether in relationship or single; with kids or without; in our desired career/job or still searching – we just call it different things: “growing up”, various types of depression (postpartum, situational, etc.), mid-life crisis, being stuck on life's treadmill, reality.

Great, so this has been a real downer of a post hasn't it! But here's the ledge on the cliff that I've been grasping at recently: in this realization there is also opportunity.
Opportunity to let go of what you thought things would be like; opportunity to embrace what it is; and opportunity to move towards different if that's what you desire.
I'm taking another step into the arena to be vulnerable.

To my 20-something friends – I do value you and enjoy your company. You sometimes allow me moments of not “growing up”. But you are also helping me realize that sometimes being 30-something is actually pretty great!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Be Vulnerable

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

I'm standing outside of the arena with my hand on the door... but I've been waiting there for a long time.

A few weeks ago I watched Brené Brown's 2012 TedTalk about vulnerability, shame and guilt. And I was challenged and inspired. I've been thinking and talking about starting this blog for quite awhile now, but there was always an excuse to do it later. Sharing my writing is not new as I have posted notes on Facebook before. Yet there is something about starting a blog that feels... bigger. Like the writing needs to be legit, meaningful... worthy. And I wonder, what if no one reads it? And then I fear what if people do? What will they think? What if it's not interesting? What if it's not good enough? What if I'm not good enough?

Brown calls this voice the “gremlin” of shame who blocks us at the arena door. And I realized while watching that video that I am listening to my gremlin. I am hiding, not wanting to take the risk, not wanting to be vulnerable. Not only about starting this blog, it's more symbolic really. I realized that I – who in a lot of ways is very open with the people around me - am actually not being vulnerable in a number of areas of my life.

I went back and re-watched Brown's 2010 TedTalk, where she introduced the idea that vulnerability is “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. That vulnerability, while uncomfortable, is necessary for wholehearted living. The truth is I often struggle to maintain a sense of love and belonging, even in some of my seemingly closest friendships/relationships. And I have run from moments of feeling that sense, perhaps revelling instead in a continual search for purpose and meaning. But also finding it more comfortable to be continually searching than to fully embrace and immerse myself into what has been found.

Vulnerability may not be comfortable, but it is necessary for wholehearted living.

I have been especially struggling these last few months – with finding (and accepting) a sense of love and belonging; with quieting the gremlin that whispers “even with your education and life experience, still you are not good enough”; with allowing joy and creativity to flow in and from my being. But I am standing at that arena door. And I desperately want to open it. I want to walk through it; to be covered in dust and sweat and blood. I want to live wholeheartedly. So with this blog I commit to my Be Vulnerable mantra for this year in an attempt to learn how:
“to let [myself] be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen;
to love with [my] whole heart, even though there's no guarantee...;
to practice gratitude & joy in those moments of terror...;
and... to believe that [I am] enough.”
(Brown, 2010 TedTalk)
With this blog I stop waiting at the door and take my first step into the arena...

What is your first step?