In search of stillness

 

In the midst of chaos, may we remember to return to the source, to continue to seek stillness. When the ground beneath our feet feels unstable and an ache pulses in our chests, may we remember to look to Nature for the greater lessons. May we continue to tend to our gardens and hearths, to smile at our children and marvel at the special fleeting moments of grace.

May we find comfort in uncertainty and trust that love will prevail.

I invite you to read and listen to this wonderful, timely poem by Wendell Berry, shared with me by Kristin Espinasse of French-Word-A-Day.
Wishing you peace.

On Friendship

 

It has been said that introverts tend to not have a wide social circle; instead, we hold on tightly to friendship with several people who truly ‘get them.’ I suspect that extroverts value special friendships just as much as introverts. I am fortunate to know a very special extrovert who enjoys our intimate catch-up sessions as much as she enjoys vibrant parties. She and I spent a wonderful afternoon together last Saturday, enjoyed strolling through the Art Gallery of Ontario and marveled at the awe-inspiring paintings at the Mystical Landscapes exhibit (aside: go see it if / when you’re in Toronto), then drank red wine and ate delicious Pad Thai at Queen Mother Cafe.

I cannot fathom having a meaningful conversation with a group of several people. A discussion, yes, where everyone gets his or her say, but not a deep conversation, the kind that fosters mutual trust and understanding. I believe that such conversations are essential to our well being, but there are not many people whom we truly feel that we can trust to listen and to understand, without the need to justify our emotions. They simply ‘get it,’ and if they don’t, they nevertheless accept without judgment.

I am grateful for a few such people in my life. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) might be convinced that ““Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world,” but I have found that they are rare and invaluable. We may not meet often in person, but when we do, it is as though no time has passed since our last tête-à-tête. One form of communication that helps to minimize the time distance is email. I am grateful for friends who don’t merely tolerate my electronic novellas but genuinely enjoy reading my updates, and I am delighted each time I open my email inbox and see their names. I long to read their happy tales and commiserate at the not-so-joyful ones.

 I raise a glass to you, mes chères amies! Thank you for being in my life.

 Is there a friend whom you haven’t seen in a while? Why not send an email or make a phone call today and plan to meet for coffee? I vow to make the time. 

Seeking enchantment

Humming songs about Thumbelina while skipping toward the patch where wild strawberries smirk as they play hide-and-seek.

Running along the rustling golden path laid carefully with delicate cascading leaves.  

Stopping to twirl now and then, silver bells of laughter playing with the gossamer leaves of the surrounding trees.

Seeking demure mushrooms that lurk behind the robes of gnomes disguised as tree stumps. 

Constructing cosy moss houses for the faeries on the floor of the lush green forest.

Wandering off the path to explore, sometimes discovering surprises both pleasant and fascinatingly spooky.

“Mama, does a witch live in the little cottage in that clearing over there? Do you suppose she’s lonely? The squirrels and birds must keep her company.”

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The memories of my childhood days of playing in the pine and maple forests remain strong with me to this day. I seek solace on the winding paths, allowing myself to be guided. I thirst to hear the whisper of the trees, the rustle of the leaves, to dance with the breeze and swaying willows and to stand rooted, attentive to the murmurs of the mysterious life that surrounds me. It always made perfect sense to me that the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien chose to set many of their stories in the forest. The setting has always been enchanting and continues to enthrall. 

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Several years ago, while visiting Fussen, Bavaria with Mr. Wanderlust, we chose to walk up the misty mountains toward the quietly bewitching Neuschwanstein Castle. The visit brought my fairy tales to life before me, overwhelming my fantasies as I sought to absorb the visit with great gulps, urging the colours, textures, and smells of the castle to remain in my memory without ever fading. The building lured me within and hypnotized me. My affinity toward it is that strong. I listened attentively to the strange stories of King Ludwig II, recounted by our tour guide. Prior to visiting the impeccable castle, I had read the fascinating story behind the Fairy Tale King’s idealistic vision for the perfect dwelling, and his story spoke to me, from one lover of magical storytelling to another. Standing in the lavish rooms of the castle and admiring every carefully planned refined detail, I felt I understood the king’s passion, and I whispered as much to the walls that were silently watching the processions of tourist groups. Those walls tell wonderful Medieval stories with their murals, yet I imagined the secrets they keep to themselves, with all that they have seen and heard over more than the past century.

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After Mr. Wanderlust and I reluctantly left the castle, we took a walk in the darkening Black Forest beneath an overcast autumn sky and the heavy canopy of trees to marvel at the beauty of the swan castle from different angles. I read about the Black Forest in my favourite fairy tale books, and its significance was heightened for me at that moment. I saw what Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty saw on their own walks through the woods to collect mushrooms and berries. Shhh, don’t tell me they are fictional characters. If you have ever walked through those woods, I’m sure you were awed into stillness, allowing magic to weave its way around you, silencing your logical mind, if only for a few moments.

I continue to seek that magic every time I step onto a forest path. I wish to reawaken the enchantment, to bring back to life the fascinating stories of my childhood… If only for a few moments.

Have you ever felt such magic? Tell me about it, perhaps by leaving a comment below. 

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.

Don’t judge a book by its size, or why I sometimes give up on books

To save some space in my carry-on luggage while packing for a business trip, I sought a thin paperback from my pile of books to read. The majority of those books are not compact by any means, but I did find one that I was glad to fit into my small purse. “Excellent,” I thought, until two hours into my four-hour flight from Toronto to Calgary, when I struggled to stay awake. Please understand, dear reader, that no matter how tired I might be, a good book will rarely, if ever, put me to sleep. I can easily fight sleep in order to continue reading, then pay for it in the morning.

I have recently become better at practising self-discipline when it comes to my bedtime, reminding myself that sleep is more important than reading. I turn off the lights before heeding the tempting invitation of “One more chapter.” The book I held in my hands on Sunday evening did not fit into the category of great books that I could devour in one sitting, given the opportunity. I gave the book another chance by continuing to read on my return flight, but didn’t find it any better. I look at it now and wonder whether, 150 pages in, I should continue to stick with it or abandon it altogether.

I used to feel guilty about abandoning a book after starting to read and finding it uninteresting, or simply not enjoying the subject matter, plot line, or characters. I have since become more strict about how I spend my time and am selective about the books to which I choose to dedicate my hours. I have learned to abandon books, yet the feeling of guilt lurks. Do you ever feel that way?

Whenever I start to doubt whether to abandon a book or to continue reading, I revert to a few criteria points:
1. The plot is boring or not interesting to me. This is somewhat tricky. I found James Joyce’s Ulysses boring but stuck with it because, well, it’s a classic. I might need to re-read it several more times before I can fully gain an appreciation for the book.

2. The writing is not great. I love good prose and dislike melodramatic inner dialogue that seems to spin in circles for too many pages. At the risk of sounding snobby, I will also say that I generally avoid books with language that is too pedestrian and books that read like a movie script without intending to be so. When it comes to non-fiction, I am averse to a preachy tone.

3. I dislike or feel unable to relate to more than one of the characters. I consider myself to be open-minded to various views, opinions, and personalities, but some characters can be simply drab. If the plot and characters annoy me, the challenge of continuing the book becomes cumbersome.

4. The book annoys me for one reason or more. This one goes hand-in-hand with numbers 1 and 3 above.

5. The subject matter is disturbing to me. I like some suspense and crime fiction, but tend to choose the classic Agatha Christie books or those inspired by Christie. I don’t mind classic macabre fiction, but generally stay away from thriller-style books the main objective of which is often to simply be sensationalist. I am also drawn to fiction set in WWII era, but can only take so much when reading true accounts of what happened during the war. This is not because I am disillusioned in any way. On the contrary. I am a grandchild of a holocaust survivor and grew up with real stories of the horrors of that time. Rather, as an HSP, I know that for self-preservation, I must approach such material with care.

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How about you? Do you read every book cover to cover, or do you abandon books that do not interest you? What is your criteria for giving up on a book? Please leave a comment below.

I learned something about stress

Last week, during a drive to and from cottage country for a work-related event, I listened to The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It by Kelly McGonigal. The idea that stress is not dangerous is relatively new to me. Ten years ago, I used to avoid difficult situations and experiences because of the stress and anxiety that they most often connote. Since then, I have learned that when we try to avoid potentially challenging situations, we often do so to our own detriment. Instead, by accepting each scenario as it comes, responding to it accordingly while keeping a focused and calm mindset, we can deal with stress in a mature and mindful manner. Our response to a situation determines our experience.

Yet, our mindset is only one piece of the puzzle. As a yoga and meditation practitioner and guide, I have learned that the state of the mind influences our physical and emotional states. As a student of Ayurveda, I have also learned that our physical energy and the energy of our environment have a tremendous influence on our emotional and mental wellness. If I spend a quiet evening at home, by 9 p.m., I feel blissfully tired, both in my mind and body. If, instead, I spend several hours before bedtime running errands and doing housework, my mind is abuzz due to my physiological state.

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Making time for apple picking at a local organic orchard.

September has been a busy time for our family. I typically avoid the use of that ubiquitous word because of its myriad convoluted meanings. For most of us, life moves fast and we must prioritize. The autumn Vata season is a time when we tend to start new projects, take on too much, and generally run ourselves off our feet, feeling spaced out and far from grounded. For me, whose dominant dosha is Vata, this is a time of year when I especially must make self-care a priority, eating warm and unctuous foods, keeping up with my daily warm oil massages, drinking hot liquids, moving slower, and enjoying plenty of rest. Yet, over the past few weeks, with changes to our family’s routines, I have not had many chances to slow down. Instead of going to bed earlier, I catch myself loading the washer and cleaning the kitchen at a late hour. We have been working diligently to avoid over-scheduling, paying no mind to the expectations of our fast-moving society and the priorities of the people who surround us. It has not been easy to completely isolate ourselves from those expectations, to heed only to our own directions. Yet, we remind ourselves that we know ourselves best and must continue to prioritize self-care, creating a schedule that feels intuitive and logical to us, whenever possible setting aside less important tasks for another time.

Here is today’s lesson: Stress is real and inevitable, and to avoid feeling overwhelmed, we must continue to approach life with a lighter attitude. Nevertheless, we must also make space for ourselves to slow down and pay closer attention to our own physical and emotional signals, instead of trusting the power of the mind to get us through challenging situations. Self-care must always remain a priority.

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Apples: a favourite Vata food. While raw apples are okay in moderation, baked apples with cinnamon are most Vata-friendly.

More information on Vata:

In a recent podcast episode of Yogaland, Andrea Ferretti and her guest Niika Quistgard discuss excellent tips for self-care during the Vata season for people with Vata dosha and for everyone else who lives in our fast-paced society.

How Ayurveda is helping me change my approach to exercise, published on April 13, 2016

Self-care tips for the Vata Season, published on September 16, 2014

If you have additional self-care tips to share, please leave a comment below. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.

Not missing out

On a particularly cold Saturday evening, two winters ago, and I was suffering from PMS-induced sadness. Wanderlust Juniors were tucked into their cosy beds and I sat on the living room sofa beside Mr. Wanderlust. Instead of breathing through the sadness, as I know I ought to have done, I sought to escape the dark feeling by averting my attention. I feel embarrassed to admit this now but there I sat, mindlessly eating pretzels while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed on my smartphone. I suspect I’m not the only one to have done that in the (possibly a very recent) past. It occurred to me only later that I was mindlessly checking my social media account not because of a genuine interest in what my contacts were doing at that time. It was merely a method of distraction that did not make me feel any better. Instead, it highlighted the fact that I was sitting on the sofa, snacking, while ‘everyone else’ appeared to be having a great time. Here’s a not-so-hidden secret: If we allow it, social media has the power to make one feel like the most popular person (particularly on our birthdays, provided that we keep that information public on our profile), then several days later squash that feeling with no remorse.

When later I snapped out of the delirium and plugged in my phone to be recharged overnight, it occurred to me how much time I had wasted ogling other people’s selfies taken at concerts or pictures of the meals they ate in upscale restaurants. And then, there have been times when I was the one posting photo after photo of my carefully styled display of freshly baked muffins, or of a fun day at the beach. That’s the game of social media participation. We either share photos of impeccably crafted moments or we spend time looking at similar images posted by others. Sometimes, those pictures serve as inspiration. At other times, they can contribute to a fear of missing out (FOMO – not that I need to provide this acronym, since I suspect the majority of you are well familiar with it and have probably experienced it at least once). When we share pretty, staged photographs on social media, we do not disclose the behind-the-scenes mess that might have occurred before, during, or after the photo was taken. We also don’t share how many tries it took to finally get the perfect share-worthy selfie.

Shortly after that sad experience of Saturday night FOMO, I made a decision to spend less time on social media. I chose to do so for myself and my family. I stopped touching my phone before 8 a.m. on most mornings and after 6 p.m. on weeknights by leaving it to charge downstairs in a special basket that I set aside specifically for that purpose. Sundays became tech detox days during which I did not open my laptop or touch my phone, unless absolutely necessary to do so for a few minutes. After starting to practise a more mindful method of social media use, it became apparent that a joy of missing out (JOMO, as coined by Christina Crook in her book by the same title) started to replace FOMO. I reveled in the beauty of going out for a walk without checking my phone for updates or sharing a picture of the sunrise. Instead, I remained present in the quiet, cherishing every nuance of the experience as it unfolded. I have been practising to stay with the experience, facing what is before me, acknowledging the moments when I don’t feel joyful, without seeking distractions.

I found an almost secret pleasure in going out for dinner and not posting a photograph of the food. I felt a rush of excitement at the realization that I could travel anywhere in the world and if I did not share any updates on social media, no one had to know where I was at the time. Then I realized that most likely, no one cared in the first place, and I am perfectly okay with that. As an introvert who values privacy, this notion felt liberating. Missing out? Not really. 

The less time I spent on social media, the more odd the thought seemed to me of documenting for others every outing, every meal, and every funny saying overheard throughout the day. In fact, I started to feel a pang of sadness each time the idea of logging into my Facebook account merely crossed my mind. I continue to document my experiences, but I do it for myself, in my journal, and I share stories selectively in person and via email with my family and friends.

A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and deleted my personal Facebook account, keeping my business page, which I visit briefly several times per week. I also post photographs on Instagram from time to time. I do not miss sharing and seeing what others have shared. Instead, I choose to meet with my friends face-to-face and communicate via old-fashioned email or phone calls in-between in-person meetings. When I sit down with a friend for coffee after two months, we often feel we have plenty of catching up to do because we haven’t been seeing each other’s frequent updates via a screen. Our conversation can then run deeper. I would guess that not many people share their not-so-positive news on social media, because such updates tend to be considered a drag. Yet, when we meet with close friends, we feel comfortable and supported to speak about what is on our minds and in our hearts instead of needing to filter the message before posting it for hundreds of contacts to read and judge.

I do not discount the merits of mindful social media use. I continue to publish updates about this blog and also enjoy reading news from other bloggers via their pages. When it comes to friends and family, I prefer to connect with them through more direct and intentional pathways. I take photographs for myself and my family. I write stories about our travels. From time to time, I selectively choose to be brave by sharing with the world some of those photographs and snippets of the stories, if I feel that they reflect who I truly am and serve to inspire others. The rest of the time, I continue to pursue life with all its messy and imperfect fleeting moments, seeking joy in what is before me.

Do you wish to contribute to the conversation? Please leave a comment below. Thank you, as always, for reading, and for sharing this blog with a friend.

Books with a powerful awareness message: Station Eleven

I picked up Station Eleven after reading excellent reviews of the book, including one by Modern Mrs. Darcy, featured on a list of books to read when one feels like the world is falling apart. This has been a challenging summer for many, with sad stories from those we know closely, terrible news reports, and too much general noise and confusion. I sought a book that would be tough to put down and one that would help to reinforce a greater sense of purpose and meaning.

Station Eleven begins with a production of King Lear in one of my favourite theatres, the Elgin and Winter Garden in Toronto. In the midst of the play, the actor Arthur Leander collapses on stage and dies of a heart attack. Jeevan Chaudhary is a paramedic in training who attempts to resuscitate the actor. Observing the real-life drama unfolding on stage before her is Kirsten, a child actor who was greatly inspired by Arthur’s work and feels a strong curiosity to learn more about his life. Two days following the death at the theatre, the world is plagued by Georgian Flu, an epidemic that sweeps throughout the globe. Among the survivors are Jeevan and Kirsten, who separately struggle to make new lives for themselves.

I was slightly hesitant about reading a post-apocalyptic novel. I tend to stay as far away as possible from material that I would perceive as too heavy for my HSP self. Emily St. John Mandel’s book provided just the right amount of description of a desolate world before presenting the stories of a jaded actor, two of his three ex-wives, Jeevan, and Kisten. Ultimately, Station Eleven is a story of a search for meaning through human connection and deconstruction of the past. When the world as we once knew it is no more, we must dig deeper to create.

Without any spoilers, I want to share with you a poignant message from a scene that takes place toward the final third of the book, when Clark Thompson, a man who was a good friend of Arthur’s, looks over his professional notes from his days of working as an organizational change management consultant. With equal parts humour and dismay, he confronts the understanding that in the old days (in today’s world), many career-oriented people walked the world like zombies governed by an external schedule along the lines of: wake up; check email; go to work while looking down at a handheld device, scrolling mindlessly, barely looking up to acknowledge other people who are passing by us; sit through the workday, staring at a computer screen, communicating with others through email and text messages; commute back home while staring at a handheld device, and continue to check the same device before going to bed at night. Clark asks a man with whom he is reviewing the documents about the unsettling terminology of ‘firing off’ emails, suggesting an impulsive action amidst a life that moves too fast. The deconstruction of the past in the context of technology provides us with an eye-opening reminder of our commonplace reliance on computers for everyday communication. For me, this is a powerful reminder to pause to consider our everyday habits and expectations.

In the dystopian world in which Kirsten travels with a symphony that entertains communities with music and Shakespearean plays, she cherishes not only Shakespeare’s words and her work as an artist, but also a special comic book and a collection of TV guide magazines with gossip articles about her idol actor. To her, these are fragile reminders of the finer points from a past of which she is not interested in completely letting go. In the new world, the element of hope is sourced within the big questions and lessons learned from existential introspection into past mistakes and successes, and those lessons have left me with plenty to ponder. It has been almost a week since I finished reading the book (I breezed through it in three days) and I continue to be haunted — in the most positive way — by this gem.

What books have you read recently that left a big impression on you by reminding you to practise greater awareness? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation.

Milestones and memories

I remember my father’s 50th birthday, when I called him from a phone booth at a gas station near a field in the south of France to send my wishes. In Toronto, it was 11:30 p.m. on Friday and my parents and grandmother were still in the midst of a quiet celebration at home, preparing to retire for the night after a long workweek. In Provence, where Mr. Wanderlust and I were enjoying our honeymoon, it was 5:30 on a crisp Saturday morning and the first yawning light of the sun started to appear. We were on our way to the meeting spot from which ‘our’ hot air balloon was to be launched. Alas, the Mistral was too fierce that day and the flight never took place. Instead, we had breakfast in Apt at a café table in the town’s square, then anxiously squeezed our way through the uncomfortably tight crowds of market shoppers snaking through the narrow cobblestone streets lined with vendors.

I also remember my father’s 40th birthday, during our first summer in Canada. His friends had arrived cheerfully unannounced with snacks and cold beer to enjoy while lounging on the balcony in the heat of the afternoon. Likewise, I remember his birthday dinners from my childhood, when my parents’ friends would arrive at our apartment and greet my father at the door with hugs, exclaiming how long it had been since they last saw each other. Then, a few of the guests would turn to me, marvel at how I’ve grown, and one man, Papa’s friend, presented me with a Mickey Mouse pencil. I beamed in delight as I realized that someone must have told him that my birthday is the day after Papa’s.

Perhaps I remember my father’s celebrations so vividly because they have always felt like my own, with our birthdays so close together. I suppose I stole my dad’s spotlight, made him share it with me, but in truth, I loved the special treat of a joined celebration. As a little girl, I was proud to walk beside him, sheltered by his tall shadow as we made our way home together after school. Our lives are different now, and my 60-year-old Papa is only a few inches taller when we stand side-by-side (see the photo above from my wedding day, 10 years ago). I continue to delight in (almost) sharing a birthday with him and am humbled today by the passing of time. Happy 60th, Papa!


Mr. Wanderlust and I have been knee-deep in home renovations. Do you want to know my secret to staying focused and maintaining a calm demeanor while spending the weekends painting the walls of our house? Audiobooks! You might be thinking, Isn’t it a distraction to listen to audiobooks while painting? It’s not very mindful, is it? Perhaps not, but given that I am not a big fan of renovations (see: I strongly dislike them), I give myself the proverbial pat on the back if I can stay fully focused on painting the walls for 15 minutes. I also sometimes enjoy listening to audiobooks while out for a morning walk, but that depends on my mood. Most mornings call for quiet and calm, with my soundtrack consisting of the chirping of the birds, the whispers of my deep breathing, and the soft landing of the soles of my shoes on the pavement. My approach to audiobooks is different from my approach to reading, but that’s a subject for a different post. In the meantime, I will share with you a few recently discovered favourites:

The Nightingale by [Hannah, Kristin]

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (or the audiobook)

In the recent years, I have become a fan of fiction set in WWII. The Nightingale was recommended to readers who liked Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, and that was my motive for choosing this book. I enjoyed the excellent narration of Polly Stone, whose French and German accents and pronunciation, and dramatic vocal changes, were very effective. I liked this book so much that I now have the hardcover or paperback version on my wishlist. This was the first book by Kristin Hannah to which I listened, and I long to read her words for myself, to enjoy her wonderful storytelling in thorough detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman (or the audiobook)

The Light Between Oceans is beautifully written, with a slow-and-steady narrative that effectively reflects the pace of the life of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne on an isolated island. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the narration by Noah Taylor, though I do admire his acting work. Despite that, I was riveted by the turbulent story of Tom and Isabel through their loss, heartbreak, and lessons in love and faith.

The Husband's Secret by [Moriarty, Liane]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty (or the audiobook)

I was reluctant to pick up The Husband’s Secret because I generally am not a fan of chick lit. However, after reading a recommendation from Modern Mrs. Darcy, whose opinion I hold in high esteem, I decided to pick it up. I was impressed not only by the story itself and the excellent character development, but also by the narration by Caroline Lee. Moriarty’s storytelling reminds me somewhat of the style made popular by Maeve Binchy, in which the lives of many individual characters in one community become intertwined, creating a cohesive picture with a poignant message of friendship: We are never alone, though often lonely. Unlike Binchy, Moriarty’s books address heavier issues with a lightness that keeps the reader turning pages.

What have you been reading or listening to lately? Please leave a comment below.

Impermanence, Choices, and Change

Dear readers: After some careful thinking, I decided that, based on what feels right at this time, this journal will be updated on Thursdays. To receive weekly updates directly in your inbox, please subscribe by entering your email address in the field at the top right-hand side of this page, and click ‘Subscribe.’ Thank you for stopping by!

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

I have been contemplating our impermanent nature while re-watching the Lord of the Rings movies, which are part of my modest collection of ‘go to’ movies for precarious times. We know that life swirls in cycles and that change is inevitable. The idea of permanence is relative; even what we deem to be a permanent change in our lives will never lead to a situation that will last forever. We know this, yet we grasp for the elusive idea of permanence, to absolute terms. We want to have decisions in writing. We expect promises to be kept forever. We want to make a resolution and stick with it for the rest of our lives. Yet, many other circumstances often decide our fate.

Recently, a good friend shared with me that for a long time, she was reluctant to tell her friends and family about a lifestyle change that she had accepted. She was worried that she would fail in her quest and would be perceived as flaky if she were to return to her old habits. Unlike my friend, in my true Vata nature, I have had too many instances in which I made a quick decision ‘on my feet’ and just as quickly dropped it a few days (and sometimes a few hours) later when I realized that it was not the right choice for me at the time.

I have always thought of change as fascinating and exciting, and perhaps its exciting nature is precisely what makes change exhilarating (I’m purposely avoiding the word ‘scary’). The unknown makes us feel nervous because we understand that in some way, whether small or major, life will never be the same, that we will never be the same. Taking one step into the future means being one step farther away from what we have come to know as home, the comfort zone. I learned many years ago that the quickest way to embrace the journey and enjoy it is by not over-analyzing the situation, the ‘what if’ scenarios. I learned to take a deep breath and leap straight out of my comfort zone and into the unknown, armed only with complete awareness of the present moment, with great hope, and a smile plastered above my chin. And that, dear readers, is how I have been making my way through life, by accepting that the unexpected will happen, that some situations can be terrifying, and that by worrying about how potentially terrifying life can be, we create unnecessary drama and self-inflicted anxiety.

Lest you think that I have become a change management expert of sorts, allow me to assure you that some days, I feel overwhelmed by choices, treating each option as the ultimate decision and second-guessing myself, asking how I would feel if I were to choose Option B instead of Option A, how my fate and the fate of others around me would change. Then, I remind myself to breathe, because nothing is under control, and ask myself once again, ‘Does this choice feel right for me at this time?’

Oh, and remember: It’s okay to change your mind. Going back does not mean we have failed; besides, there is no ‘back’ to return to.


 

How do you feel about change and when faced with the need to make a decision? Please leave a comment below.

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

One good word

I have been feeling tired.

Tired of the glare of the computer screen.
Tired of the buzzing phone.
Tired of hearing news stories meant to spark arguments, dividing people into groups of those who agree and those who disagree.
Those two groups can often be united in the sharing of their harsh opinion toward those who are not ready to pass judgment or choose to keep their opinions to themselves.
Can we excuse ourselves from having an opinion?
We are asked to judge, to think, to reflect, but there are subjects that do not interest me.
To think of those subjects takes more energy than I wish to expend.
Is that wrong?
Instead, I choose to direct my attention, which has been worn thin as of late, toward what and who matters most to me.
I opened my Facebook page today to read about two new topics that sparked drama among parents.
Why is it usually the women who are most deeply affected by this drama?
We feel.
We analyse.
We are sensitive.
Most importantly, we want to protect our children while creating a better world for them.
May I suggest that perhaps we should start by practising kindness?
Kindness toward ourselves.
Kindness toward others who try too hard while wondering whether they’re doing okay, feeling a bit lost, insecure, confused.
And yes, tired.

On this note, I leave you with words by the poet David Whyte:
Loaves and Fishes

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

— David Whyte
from The House of Belonging 
©1996 Many Rivers Press