It struck me this morning, in fact about ten minutes ago, that my own self talk and demands were causing my heart rate to rise and a certain level of anxiety to peak. I was rushing around the house (well, my version of rushing anyways :) ) having loaded the washer and the dryer, gone through the mental list of supper options, brushed my teeth and washed my face, and prepared my home office through my own series of rituals to get ready for my days start. As I reminded myself I had to settle down at my desk and tackle the next item on this week's to-do list, another part of my brain was complaining that I so wanted to write! In fact I realized I was beginning to feel angry that I had words in my head and thoughts on my mind that I needed to take time to get onto the written page, but by the time I finished going through the bills and emails and expectations of those on the other side of that computer screen, the energy and most likely the desire would be gone. Those ideas would be silenced for another day....and would likely moved on...because I didn't take the time needed to honour them and get them onto the written page.
Then it hit me, in the midst of the frustration of what wasn't going to happen, as i realized that there is not one soul here that is telling me that those are the things I must do first....except me! I am the one putting the pressure on myself about what needs to be done when and for who. I am the one that is prioritizing the needs and once again putting my own at the bottom of that list of priorities. I am the one that is saying what this day's accomplishments needs to entail for it to be successful. I am the one who is creating the frustration and the raised heart rate and the agenda of what needs to be done when. And with that sudden realization I stopped, turned around and left my office, grabbed my laptop and moved to my writing corner.
So here I am. And as I sit here, I have to keep asking myself why it is that I continue to do that to myself? Why do all of us continue to put those pressures of what is most important on our allotted time, when the reality is that feeding our spirits and our souls is the truly important work. Exploring what it is that is making us tick and feel joy and provide contentment and peace is the truly important work. What things will allow us to be our best selves and fulfill our highest purpose in this world as we continue on this journey is the truly important work. But it's not the work we do is it? It's not the work that we put first on our daily schedules or at the beginning of any list.
The truly important work is the work that we leave at the bottom of the pile, for when everything else is finished and we can tell the world outside we accomplished something that they can see as a 'result', while inside the work that calls to us lays dormant and unexpressed because all of our best energy and effort was put into the other stuff. Our creativity and our heart's desires are twisted into something else that allows us to do that which is expected by the outside world. Then, at the end of the day, when we finally do allow ourselves to move into the things we want to do, the time and effort needed to put that creativity back into its original form, the form that will allow us to grow and thrive, is too much work to be accomplished on this day. We are tired, and spent so we put it off until tomorrow, and instead zone out for the remaining hours of the days through getting lost in the television, or the surfing or whatever mundane actions quiet the frustrated spirit inside of us that is asking why it was hushed and put on hold yet again.
So this morning, instead of listening to the side of my brain that was pushing me towards that to-do list, I chose instead to listen to that little voice that was calling for me to pay attention to my heart instead. I am so glad I did. I feel my breathing beginning to slow again and my deeper self saying thank you, as these words pour forth onto the page.
Don't get me wrong. I know as well as anyone what needs to be done in a day. I know those bills need to get paid, that the chores need to be done, that the work that makes this life possible and affordable has to be taken care of. I know that family needs to be supported and loved and acknowledged. I know that. But what I have to remind myself of, and maybe you do as well, is that we have a choice and the control over how it is that we get those things done. I know I do...but I forget that, even with all my education, and experience and even my teaching others....I know that, and from time to time I forget. We all forget that the only one in control of us, our activities and our decisions is... well...us!
My scenario was that I told myself I have to do these things and do them now. After all, we had the time away embracing our desire to spend time on the coast, feeding our souls, so now that I'm home I need to put all that behind, buckle down, do the catch up work. Forget about what it is that I need to do to feel that same sense of peace and joy I feel when I can travel until what's sitting on my desk is done.
But that's crazy! I haven't spent the last years of my life making all I do portable only to be on lock-down when I return home! I haven't followed my passions for travel and writing and photography only to push it onto the back burner when I return to the 'real world' that is my life! This real world is my life, and it should be just as vibrant, and nourishing and spirit nurturing as time away is! So why do I not make it so? Why do I let it become mundane and routine and lost in a creative void instead of embracing the knowledge that this is it? This is the work of my life...sharing my experience, and my passions and my dreams from where ever I am at any given moment.
I know that maybe, because of the way I've worked to design my days, I have a different flexibility than another who has a more typical job that requires a daily trip to the office or another structure that provides the income that makes one's world go round. In that way it may be easier for me to go from my 'working' space to my 'writing' space with a simple spin on the heel. I'm 'lucky' I know, I've worked so hard to be this 'lucky' and I embrace it wholeheartedly. But you have choice too! Yes, you may have to be in that building from nine to five, and once you're home your energy for what feeds your soul is sapped... but what if you were to wake up a half hour earlier in the day and feed it then? What if instead of the radio on the commute to that place you listened to books or podcasts that fed that desire for deeper knowledge or learning? What if your lunch hours were spent taking care of your body and spirit in ways other than just feeding it...but maybe meditating, walking, yoga? Couldn't that be a possibility?
There are countless ways that we can work what's important into our days, but we have to do that. No one is going to do that for us. No one else is going to suggest that you put 'their' stuff on hold while you take care of your own. That isn't how this world of ours works I'm afraid. But that's okay, because we have choice and control and the ability to use it...but only if we decide to.
I feel so much better already! Now, when I head back to the 'other' room, I head back feeling content that I took time for me. I've had my moment, I can blow out the candle and let the incense burn itself out (some of my own writing rituals), reopen the blind and head into what also needs to get done, knowing that the voice inside me is content and happy that it was listened to. I can also remind myself that tomorrow I have the same choice. Tomorrow I can start my day with spending an hour on the guitar... or going through some of the thousands of photos I want to work on...or writing another chapter in a book thats living inside me. I can choose to make these things a priority. I can choose!
And so can you. Believe it or not, in this moment in time, so can you. It doesn't have to be a big, cumbersome all day event. It can be one little thing that lets that little voice of longing be heard.
What can you do today that will make your spirit feel listened to and supported on this journey? Maybe you should go and do that.
As the first long day of 2015, and #IWD draw to a close, I've had much to reflect on. Earlier today, my friend Kubeketerya from Uganda asked the question, what am I and the other elite women doing to celebrate the day. I was very quick to respond that we are by no means elite, but we are very blessed. But this evening as I soaked in a long hot bath, made luxurious thanks to the bath salts from @SajeNaturalWellness that my friend Lisa sent me, I realized that in this broken, struggling world, my friends, family and I may be considered among the elite. We have safe homes, hot water, loving relationships and all the comforts that make for an amazing life. On this same day, so many other women are struggling just to get through the day, feed their children, have safe drinking water, and freedom from persecution. We do not live in the fear and heartache that our #MMIW sisters and their families are walking through on this very same day. So how do we turn this extraordinary, privileged status that we are graced with into action that will make our world a better, more compassionate place for all? As I contemplate my own next steps, I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
It's been a sad several weeks around our house. While we were away in Boston in early November, our 2 year old Golden retriever, Duke, took off from our daughter's house with her dog. We haven't seen either of them since, and there's something missing when you step outside and he's not there to bounce all over the place in greeting. Nothing makes you feel more loved and appreciated than a dog I don't think...even though there are lots of times that love and appreciation can drive you a little crazy. You still know, that while you're in their view at least, there is nothing in their world more important than you. In this highly technical, digitally connected world, you often don't get that sense of absolute presence from the people in your life. With your dog you always, absolutely do.
I don't think we could have done much more to look from him, short of catching a plane home the day he disappeared, and that didn't make much sense. We've advertised in papers, facebook, on the radio. We've put countless posters up over a span of 40 miles, and followed several leads in all afternoon drive-a-thons that didn't result in finding him. The worst part is the not knowing. The wondering if he wandered into the wrong yard and was shot by someone who doesn't approve of strays. Was he caught in a trap somewhere, as there are reports that there are several laid in the area, with people trying to bring down the coyote population. Was he hit? Was he stolen? Or our favorite, did he just find himself in the yard of someone who saw his beautiful, joyous spirit bounding through those fluid eyes of his. It's the questions that drive you craziest, and hurt the most.
But as much as I love my pets, and I know how we all love our pets, one thing really put it all into perspective for me. While driving around putting up signs in the area near where he went missing, I went into the store at Dakota Tipi, just south of Portage la Prairie. They were good enough to listen to my sad tale, and let me post a picture of Duke. Those inside said they'd keep an eye open and spread the word...but as I left the store I looked directly at the giant billboard outside, asking for information on the missing Jennifer Catcheway.
Needless to say it stopped me in my tracks, and put my heartache into perspective. I had met Jennifer's Mom Bernice just a few weeks earlier, when she'd pulled into my daughter's yard to ask permission to search along the river bank of her property, as that had never yet been checked. Five and a half years after her daughter's disappearance, her parents still continue to look for signs and traces of what may have happened to their daughter.
A few short months after Jennifer, Amber McFarland also went missing from Portage. To date, the mysteries of both of their disappearances remain unsolved.
I've lost a child myself. I know that pain, that hole that remains in your heart no matter what you try to fill it with. The void in your family that can never be filled by another. Part of the circle is broken, and cannot fully be repaired. But with my loss, I had the opportunity to say good-bye and honor the life of the one we loved. I was there at his passing, and although there remain questions as to what happened, there is also peace. However, even with that experience of loss, I can not fathom what their families continue to live with. All the unanswered questions. The inability so lay their child to rest, to say a proper good-bye. The never knowing. I can't imagine, and my heart breaks for them.
It's been a lingering thought for me over the past several weeks. Amidst that has been the disappearance of Colten Pratt in Winnipeg, the Grandson of a friend of mine. Another missing person, among so many missing people both in Manitoba and across Canada. And there are so many more questions than answers.
Something that I've found rather alarming over the discoveries of the past several weeks also sits in my heart, asking to be answered. Social media is such and incredibly powerful tool, and we know the good it can do when used for so many projects and purposes. One of the pages I have followed for some time, and have used a lot more lately while looking for Duke, is the Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert. It has been an incredible network of people across the province, posting, forwarding and assisting me and countless others to find our lost pets. There are currently over 25,000 people on the network, and I appreciate them all so much.
What is troubling to me is that I also follow another page called Missing Manitoba Women that connects with the local RCMP and police services to post and publish when people in Manitoba go missing and to report when they are found. They continue to be a voice for the over 100 people in the province that remain missing. It has a following of just slightly over 13,000.
The question that arises in my heart is why do we have almost twice as many people in the province watching out for our missing pets as we do watching out and sharing information about our missing persons? Then I suppose the next question that I've had to ask myself is...what am I going to do about it, and is there anything I can to to initiate more action in my circle of influence, in my community and in my province? And is there hope that that circle of influence can spread beyond our provincial border and across our country where over 1,000 remain missing or have unsolved murders?
I really hope so, and I hope I can convince my friends and family to join me. Somebody out there somewhere knows something. It takes so little time to click a share button on facebook so that a few more eyes are watching for those we love. The voices of those that are missing can not be heard...but each of ours can so that some of these families can find closure with the heartbreak that they live with. So that they can have their questions answered, and begin to heal. That is my hope for the season of love and giving of ourselves, and my intention for the upcoming New Year, and I hope you'll consider joining me. If you will, then please click here for the Missing Manitoba Women page. Like their page, share when someone is missing, and together lets work towards being part of the change.
It can be hard. It can be really hard to figure out who you are in this life. Especially after years, and years of being the 'roles' that you've lived. We become so lost in those roles. Whether its the work we do, the gifts we have, our station in a family or a community, we become so much of what we do, that we forget just who it is that we are. It happens to almost all of us.
I get that. I live it just like you do, but I am intent on continuing my growth towards who I am and how I want to be spending my time. That can be difficult and it can be scary.
I have recently taken a big step back from the work that I have been doing for the last twelve years. It was time, and I knew that, because the joy that filled my heart in doing that work was no longer present. And if we don't have joy in our lives, what else is there?
It is frightening when you step away from the security of knowing what your income will be, what the expectations of the role you play are, what is familiar. But there is a there is a comfortable peace that comes with those big decisions if your heart knows that they are right for you. And my heart seems to know.
Cancer was definitely the catalyst to make the decision, but only a catalyst. So now at 54 the real work begins, the work of ensuring that I remain authentic to what fires me up, brings me to joy and breaths life into my spirit. I know that I cannot support others to do that, if I am not living those values myself.
Initially there was a certain amount of guilt in that I am spending so much of my days doing the things that I love to do! Playing more deeply with my photography, learning more about social media and website development, writing...writing, writing, writing. And expanding my coaching business and what it can offer others. But the funny thing about doing what it is you are meant to be doing is that things begin to flow, and they begin to fall into place in some most unexpected ways. They days go by and if someone asks what you did, it's hard to explain because on one level it could be seen as nothing really, but on a level that really matters you did everything! It's a wonderful place to be.
The one thing I am very intentional about is that whatever I am doing, it is aligned with my passions. My list is always close at hand, and if I question something as to whether it is moving me closer to my vision and my passion I pull that list out and read it through one more time. If the answer is no, then I put the request or the activity aside, and return to what fuels my spirit. That can be challenging in it's own right, because so many of us live our lives as people pleasers that have spent decades saying yes to what matters least, sacrificing what matters most, in an effort to please others in our lives. To not let others down. To not be considered selfish or self-centered by those we love.
But the truth is, that those that love us are going to keep loving us. They will begin to see those actions not as an insult, but as you making self-care a priority in your life, and respecting that. And in an ideal world, they will see the value of doing that for themselves as well when they see you lead by example.
So here's to always growing and to growing all ways. Here's to taking the leap of faith that this is what is meant to happen at this stage of life, and trusting that the net will be there to catch you. Here's to knowing that the universe will provide for you when you are aligned and living the life that you were intended to live. Sharing the gifts that only you have to share, doing the 'work' that your gifts and passions were intended to do. And spreading the light that is YOU into this world. Here's to each of us being who we truly are...being Truly You!
Note to my readers: I need you to know that if you do decide to click on any of the advertisements on my site, I may receive compensation as an affiliate of these businesses that I support...but I hope you know that in doing so you are supporting my own vision of living life on my own passionate terms and being truly me!
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!