Friday, 28 March 2014

Time and Space to just BE

I really enjoy driving, always have. There is something about being in a vehicle, on the road, with nothing else to do between point A and point B except drive and just be. I flip through the radio or listen to a random CD. I'll look out the window at the scenery passing by. I will contemplate the freedom in possibility to keep driving; to go anywhere and everywhere my heart desires. But mostly I just let my mind wander.

I'm driving car #3 now – not counting the blue mini-van I sort of inherited from my parents in 3rd year university. And while I do love my Fit, I miss the sun roof from my Sunfire! I miss opening it all the way to let the sunshine and some fresh air in. I miss leaning my head back and seeing the stars through it at night. I miss the feeling of freedom and brief connection to the outside world when the rest of the car was shut tight around me.
My mind wandered to that sunroof on Sunday night during my drive home. I looked out my side windows and windshield at Orion's Belt and other constellations I do not know names for, and marvelled as I have many times before at the beauty and expanse of the night sky. I kept thinking that I should pull over on a dark road and just take in the breathlessness of it.

But then I would be alone on a dark road in the middle of the night, and that just didn't feel very safe.
Instead I let my mind wander back to many of my long drives. I realized that the ending of each of my significant relationships was marked not only by a change in hair style, but also with a situation that required more frequent and longer drives. I spent a lot of time thinking on those drives. Processing. Healing. Practising conversations I could have, should have, maybe even would have had if opportunity arose. And I shed a lot of tears.

I thought about previous writings where I developed metaphors of driving along life's road: through rain with wipers that only partially and temporarily clear the view; over slippery, snow-covered roads that hide dangerous patches; headlight's that reveal only a short distance ahead; unexpected twists and turns; hills so steep you cannot see beyond them until at the very top; and other cars sharing the journey at times. Journeys that no road-map can direct you on. When feeling lost is both terrifying and an exciting adventure.

I thought about the road I was currently on, in part at least, and how different it was driving it this time – thankfully not marking the end of a relationship – compared to a time when I drove it more often. 

My attention kept returning to Orion's Belt; sometimes in front of me, sometimes to my left. I find the stars comforting, no matter which night sky I look up at; whether through a sunroof, a windshield, or no glass at all. I like the reminder that we are but one small piece of this big beautiful space. I like the seemingly constancy of it, though I know it too is ever-evolving. I like that, while I am driving, I have nothing to do but marvel at things like the night sky. I like that driving, much like the night sky, has been there for me through tears and smiles; through endings and new beginnings; through sunsets, moon-rises and stars. And I like that driving continues to be there for me, always offering time and space to just be.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Every Decision Counts

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. 
Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.
~ Steve Jobs

I remember saying to a friend at the beginning of February:  
This is the month that good shit is going to happen!”

I just had a feeling that things were going to start to fall into place, particularly with starting my business. For the most part they did fairly easily and quickly. In fact I couldn't help but think every now and then, that it was almost too easy... I know I should listen to my friends' encouragements to just enjoy the process as it unfolds, to not look nor wait for the obstacles. That they may occur and will be resolved in their own time. And quite likely that if I just keep focused on the good stuff and the end goal, that the obstacles and disappointments along the way may not seem so important, rather a step on the journey.

When I started writing the blog for this week, that was to be the topic: not fully appreciating and enjoying the good by waiting for these obstacles. But as I wrote, I started to realize something else...

Early in February I was watching an episode of one of my current TV interests, and heard one character ask another:
What is it you want to do with your life?”
Following her response, he said:
Then every decision you make should be leading you towards that goal.”

Those words struck a cord with me and I realized how easy it is to distract ourselves with decisions that really have nothing to do with our true goals and desires. What would happen if I started to view every decision I made as leading me towards my goal of opening my own private counselling practice? So I started repeating those words to myself whenever I was faced with a decision: decisions about finalizing and furnishing office space; confirming a clinical supervisor; activities to engage in during my “spare” time; and who to connect or network with in the community. And seemingly less relevant, every day decisions about my appearance and behavioural presentation when in public; time spent visiting family and friends out of town; time spent and activities engaged in with friends in town; how to respond to the text from that cute guy asking me to hang out...

Simply asking myself, “how will this decision lead me towards my goal” helped to keep the goal in the forefront of my mind. Even when the decision didn’t directly impact it.

It wasn't that I became obsessed with this goal. I definitely allowed myself down time, choosing to relax and indulge in other activities I enjoyed like playing my guitar and watching Netflix. Simply because sometimes a break is as important as the work.

I also found myself thinking about some of the other areas of my life that I wanted to focus on and give attention to. Things like my friendships, my family, the possibility of a romantic relationship. Things like writing for an on-line dating blog and keeping up with my own personal blog, making music, reading for pleasure, cooking healthy meals, baking treats, and attempting to maintain some kind of a fitness routine. And so I added these to the list of “how will this decision lead me towards my goal(s).”

As I look back over the past 6 weeks I am starting to see how much that one simple question impacted my activities and progress. Perhaps equally important is that I have thoroughly enjoyed most if not all of the activities I engaged in. Knowing that my decisions are moving me towards the goals that I have for myself and reflecting the areas of my life that I want to be developing and giving attention to has in some ways, without me even realizing it, given new meaning to all that I do. Watching Netflix is no more a waste of time or mindless distraction. It is a relaxing break I enjoy and allow myself to indulge in!

Ok, so maybe Netflix is still a mindless distraction sometimes. But I'm putting less stress and pressure on my daily life. I feel like I am accomplishing something every day, which increases my motivation and a sense of achievement in the process. All because of one little question that I started asking myself over and over again:

How will this decision lead me towards my goal(s)?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Rude Reminders

Mom went back to the hospital the other day. With what turned out to be the flu.

It had been too easy to forget sometimes. Or not to forget so much as to down play it. Since the first treatment, she had been doing relatively well! Moments or hours of discomfort, fatigue, nausea, and other side effects. But in general, feeling ok. At least that's how she would sound over the phone.

I started out calling daily, then every other day. Now, sometimes 3 or even 4 days will pass before we are able to catch each other on the phone with time to talk. She has felt more comfortable and sometimes well enough to get out of the house or to socialize with visitors who come to her. I have my own things going on here, in my life. Three hours away.

So sometimes it is easy to forget. Easy to down play it.

But as with most things in life, a reality check often arises sooner than later. The text from oldest Brother was a reminder of many things:
I live 3 hours away.
And so cannot be the one to take Mom to the hospital, nor to relieve Brother in order to take my turn.
The flu is never just the flu when one is also under-going treatment for cancer.
My Mom has cancer.

Is the reminder meant to say “Don't get too comfortable with this new normal. Another may be just around the corner.”
Is it meant to jar one back to sending positive energy, thoughts, prayers, or whatever word you want to use to describe that kind of support. The kind of support you offer when you can't be there. In person. Driving to the hospital.
Is it meant to slow you down yet again. To not push the healing body beyond what it is busy doing right now – healing. To slow you down yet again to enjoy the moments of life as they attempt to speed by. The blessings, the successes, the struggles, the set-backs.
Is it not so much a reminder of anything rather quite simply, though not so simple at all, the flu.

I went for a run on the treadmill after work that night. Because I had excess energy that I didn't know what to do with. Because I wanted to out run some of my anxiety. The characters on the TV show distracting me were talking about survival strategies. Because it is about survival – all of it, really. The healing, the fighting, the forgetting, the positive thoughts/prayers, even the anxiety. It's about feeling the feelings because then you know you are alive, no matter what. You are alive! You are surviving!

My anxiety often sits on my chest, makes me feel like I can't take deep breaths. Which makes me feel like I can't calm myself. It makes me feel breathless. Which in the end provides an opportunity to slow down, “ face, learn from, grow with, and enjoy every moment, every change, every challenge, every opportunity that life throws at me...” Isn't that what I said I wanted to do in my first blog this year?!

Sometimes it is the rude reminders that help me remember to Be Breathless.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Taking My Own Advice

“Self reliance conquers any difficulty”
~ Yogi Bhajan

I was freaking out a little bit a few weeks ago, as we do, about a guy I was kind of interested in. Not sure what to do about the situation, I consulted the opinions of my friends. Analyzed their thoughts compared to my own. And still didn't know what to do...

Then I had a realization: I am heading into a career where people will potentially be looking to me for advice about what to do about a particular situation. I, on the other hand, want to empower them to realize the answers on their own – either finding they already know within themselves or at least have access to the proper resources to figure it out. If I expect others to trust me in guiding them on that process, shouldn't I start to trust myself in the same way?

Maybe I should start taking my own advice.

When friends and family come to me for a listening ear, I admit I am a little more free with the advice-giving. Often this is received with appreciation, even if the advice is not followed. Even more so when the advice given returns with favourable results! If others trust my insight into a situation and advice on how to handle it, shouldn't I start to trust myself in the same way?

Maybe I should start taking my own advice.

What better time to start then by taking my own advice about taking my own advice! So I asked myself, what would I tell myself if I came to me with this situation? Immediately I knew what I wanted to do.

Unfortunately that particular situation didn't turn out exactly how I had hoped. Perhaps I had already gone too far in trying out some of the opinions and advice I'd received from friends, to go back to my instincts. Perhaps the lesson was not in the outcome. Because still, I felt empowered. I had re-tuned to my instincts, began to trust myself, and allowed myself to be the expert in my own life. And, perhaps most importantly, I was true to myself; true to who I was and who I wanted to portray to the world. I accepted myself and took the risk of being accepted (or rejected) for exactly who I was in this situation.

Rather than let disappointment with the outcome pull me away from myself, I decided to hold onto that feeling of empowerment and being true to myself. I will still consult with my friends, after all they often have valuable insight and support to offer. But I have decided to try to put more trust in the process of re-connecting with my instincts on all avenues of my life's path. I have decided to start putting more trust in myself and to start taking my own advice!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

What changed you?

When starting a business most everything else takes the back burner for a certain period of time. At least that's one of the things I've learned in the past couple weeks.

Another is that when you are forced to "take a few days off" due to illness, no one else does the work for you. It just doesn't get done. And then you are behind. In everything...

All this to say I didn't get a blog written for this past week...

But instead of leaving you with you nothing - here is a better late than never thought to ponder:

With that in mind, I want to invite you lovely readers to share some of your contents! What has changed you, and how?

Feel free to use the comments section. Or better yet, if you would like to share in the way of a full blog-post let me know. I would love to have a few guest posts to share sometimes! After all, exploring the contents is something we all do in our own weird & wonderful ways.

(**if interested in writing a guest post, private message me on Facebook, gmail, or leave a note here and I will figure out how to get in touch with you for more details.)