Weird days ahead so BYO weird

Don’t be absurd” I said, but then look what happened! That was a strange lesson in things getting a whole lot stranger than you thought possible. I’m alluding vaguely to politics and violence in the world sphere. The weather has been weird where we are – storms like tantrums that thrash and destroy and suddenly weep themselves out. I’m always looking for a sign in the world, it just seems to be that every single one says the same thing – weird days ahead.

Not the new normal

This isn’t a prediction about what might be the ‘new normal’ (sorry – no answers!) or how there’s some magical reset anywhere in sight to take away the weird and give us back our global sanity. Nope. The news is that being rational and reasonable is going to take more work. Each of us will have to make a choice each day on how to deal with what happens.

We won’t know what to expect. The increasing pace of random attacks, weird anti-truth-ness and agonising political hypocrisy are escalating.  All we really have in our control is the decision on how we will act. How we might embody our values person by person. How can we be kind, tolerant, assertive, truthful?

When did the truth become an enemy?

I work in marketing, I’m no stranger to influencing audiences and the ‘massaging’ of facts by our cousins in advertising, but the truth used to be a bedrock, not a moving target.

In the past six months it has seemed as though the political mainstream in the western world has been gaslighting us all so that we get used to anyone asking for ‘honesty’ on issues is considered weird. That’s not helpful. That’s not working towards equality or freedom or happiness. Actually it is verging on taking absurdity and weird right on into the realm of madness.

This is not a great topic. I don’t like that it is going on, but I feel powerless to address it in any way except through personal action. I feel like I am teetering on the edge of madness, and depression. It has put me off writing and blogging, it has weighed on me when I make plans for my future and it drains my sense of value.

Weird inspiration

So what I’m thinking here is that the normal stuff – all the skills and expectations I have from the past few decades – are not that useful anymore. I need to engage with the new weird world on a new level. Isn’t it obvious – I must bring my own weird. That’s right, one sometimes must fight fire with fire. This is not the same as ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ that way is utter chaos in this instance. No. I will allow my weird free, I will bring whatever I can to our table to protect and defend the forces of good. If you want to join the rebellion in support of honesty and goodwill, please do. Tea and biscuits supplied, BYO weird.

Over scheduled and too busy to worry

over scheduledDo you have the over-scheduled virus? It is a type of modern flu that has all the symptoms you’re sadly familiar with: fatigue, poor sleep, low level physical ailments (sniffles! That half cough!), a constant sense of not quite being ‘all there’ (because you’re keeping at least one eye on the clock to make sure you get to your next appointment on time), and perhaps worst of all is the gnawing doubt that a helluva lot of what is taking up all that time is not actually important. You know, proper important. Especially compared to the things you’re too tired for at the end of the day, like conversation.

I remember conversation, it is when you talk about something other than the logistics of the next day or who will do which chores. I’m sure I’m still capable of it, if only I had the time. Of course any spare time gets soaked up quickly by the ever-present “should do” list or sleep but presumably there’s a possible future in which I’m caught up on all those things and so is someone I know and we could have a conversation. Hahaha When did that become an almost outlandish fantasy?! Even people I know who are retired from work are busy busy busy. Strange days.

Why you stay over scheduled

But you know, there’s a payoff to this behaviour too, a hidden lining that creates comfort. You wouldn’t think so but there’s plenty worse your brain could be doing and keeping you busy today and tomorrow is really quite clever because when we slow down our habit is not to stay in the now. Oh no, we send our giant brains out into the days beyond and into what might happen. Dangerous ground indeed for this is the hunting grounds for anxiety. Dwell briefly in the future and make a decision about the suitable path and all is well, one can navigate through events and respond when challenges arise. Lingering in the permutations of what might be is necessary for great work but demands huge capacity to defend and define one’s limits and scope. Otherwise the clever early-mammal part of your brain is lured into a hamster wheel of what ifs and becomes trapped in the momentum of its own spinning. Anxiety feeds on you again. There’s a nascent part of our (perhaps higher) self working hard to explain these traps and warn us of the dangers. We tend not to listen.

The ego believes passionately that we’re above such silly situations. The compromise is our over-scheduling. It appeases the puff of the ego and perilously protects the vulnerable brain from too much anxiety. It would be funny if it wasn’t so personal! So the payoffs are always there in our behaviours. You could call it the comfort of complaining. These habits can be so hard to acknowledge without someone to talk things over with and that time in which to reflect on our own patterns or those of our friends (actually I’m a lot wiser when it comes to other people than I am about myself). I’m also lucky to have some very wise friends! So although I’m over-scheduled I’m cautious about just stopping and so making a gap. Even if I could completely stop work and all my commitments and responsibilities that comes with a different risk. We all know that nature abhors a vacuum and in the past it has been another extreme – anxiety – that filled it. I’d like to do it differently this time. I’d like to find a middle way.

Have you ever tried a self-development course and come across a facile question like “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Oh you’ve GOT to be kidding?! But I tried, I tried so hard to soar with eagles and do better and be better and unleash the giant within and all that stuff. But what I’ve learned is a hard lesson to share, and it is that pretending you can’t fail is unfalteringly useless and here’s why.

Making a friend of failure

Of course you could fail. Most of us actually live from a primary identity of failure. That’s a constant in our lives. From the moment we fell over learning to walk we have implicitly understood that failure is part of the human condition. Even as a mind game to expand our comfort zone it is really really the wrong question to be asking.

Here’s a question to try on. “What is so important to you that you will do it anyway, knowing that you will fail in part?” It is likely that you will fail to meet your fullest dreams, on the other hand there are amazing discoveries promised if unknown at the outset. How might you answer that question? Take a minute now if you like to roll it around and see what you come up with.

This choice, this engagement with your own private calling, does not ignore or diminish the idea of failure and instead embraces it. It is not some light optimism that evades the shadows or distorts the reality of challenge, but instead a serious call to us to face the source of meaning and value in our lives. It is a middle path that expects courage and offers a radical hope. I’m not quite proud of my failures yet, but I am ready to expand them. Are you? Share your proud failures or your middle path in the comments.

Tiny stitches

tiny stitchesHave you heard that phrase – “a stitch in time saves nine”? It is one of those useful proverbs reminding us to take a little action now when we first think of something rather than waiting for the problem to unravel even further into something that will take perhaps nine times the effort to fix, if indeed it can be fixed all by then.
Oftentimes we think of life in big pictures – heroic moments – if you will when the reality of life is actually in the millions of tiny stitches that we make each day on the underside of our life. All those tiny stitches pulling one thing and another together to make the pattern of who we are, what we value, how we play.
No one ever sees them, but they’re there all the same. We know them. We know what it took to make them just so, the cost and yes the do-overs and regrets too.

We find happiness, hope and solace in continuing to stitch our lives together out of what comes our way, working in our private dreams and celebrating wins when we can. Sometimes life rips us away from our patch of meaning and challenges us to pick up the thread. It can take a while to face that setback. But this is life, to muddle forwards as we can. Lots of people spend time in denial, wishing things were otherwise, but that is a type of stitching too. In that stitching you’re not placing your needle to any advantage.

When things are darkest or toughest, it can be hard to remember that you are still making tiny stitches. Your choice in that regard remains. Each breath can be deep or each meal can be eaten in gratitude, or each question an opportunity to ask or be open to listen. Tiny stitches make up our time. They will never be perfect, and they don’t need to be. They’re your tiny stitches, yours to place where you will.

You just being is awesome

being open your hands RUMIYou, just being here, you’re awesome. You don’t need to “do” anything to be valuable, or worthwhile or precious. You are a wonderful human being. Sure, you’ve got some flaws, everyone does, but you know what? You just being is awesome. That goes for every single sentient being in the world. Imagine how many wonderful people there are behind all those faces that blur past you in the streets or on trains or television. Every one of them is a soul in a body.

So, What do you do for a living?

Mostly we get caught up in what we do. What we do for work. Our culture is very worky worky. Work is, by definition, both a noun and a verb. What we do is called work and when we are doing it we are working. That’s obvious enough. But it pushes just being out of the picture. There’s “working” and then “not-working”.  We don’t remind ourselves that it is useful to just be. Be yourself. Be quiet, be unfunny or a bit sad or thoughtful, be filled with hope, wonder, or just contentment. When you’re worried, anxious or down, that’s who you are too. It is not the job you do for a living that matters it is the being you express by your living.

What people love about you is your being, not your resume

Think about someone you love. Think about what it is about them that you love … I bet it wasn’t that last project they worked on in the office, or their resume, or any of that worky worky stuff. It is in the way their soul shines through and speaks to your soul. You know, that “somehow you make me the better version of myself I like to be” feeling. Maybe you or your beloved is one of those amazing, inspirational people who manage to express their soul in their work day as well. Fantastic and congratulations! Long may you prosper. Ask yourself, if that company crumbled or the economy faltered, and somehow the work was gone would your love for that person vanish too? No.

Connect with being

Maybe put your ‘to-do’ lists aside for a day or two and let yourself rest in being. Let’s be adults, if this is the weekend you’re moving house or catching a plane go ahead and do the things you need to do. But once you’ve done what is needed, stop. Let it be enough. Your purpose is to be here, now, mindful in each moment. Decide moment to moment to do what is needed, or just be. If you can think of something to do that is awesome and expresses your soul into the world, then by all means do it and live long and prosper doing so. If not, you, just being, that’s awesome too.

Get uncomfortable

uncomfortableSometimes, when things aren’t working, the best thing to do is to get uncomfortable. Start again, this time outside of your existing comfort zone. Let yourself be a beginner with a fresh slate and no expectations. For example, I’m someone who “can’t draw” but I really value my ability to be creative with words, so this month I’m doing InkTober as my warmup for Nanowrimo. A month of producing a drawing every day – crazy! That makes no sense! I feel uncomfortable doing it, looking at the outcomes and of course sharing it here. Lady Liberty never looked so wonky did she? (Maybe she’s uncomfortable there on her feet all day…)

Last week was uncomfortable in a different way

I shared some of my perspective of living with depression and although that was an uncomfortable thing to do, it opened up the floodgates of conversation about this topic in every realm of my life. People far and wide share their perspectives either publicly or privately and that changed the experience for me. What are you experiencing that you wish was different for you? How are you comfortable in a way that is actually unsatisfying for you? Is it in a job where you don’t feel valued or heard, or perhaps in your relationships where somehow the conversations don’t feel as real as they once did? Perhaps it is with yourself – are you a little bit bored with yourself? Do you know exactly what’s coming next?

Change is uncomfortable

Like travel, change is uncomfortable at an immediate level and yet satisfying from a larger perspective. This is one of those contradictions of life, that comfort feels secure and gives us happiness until too much comfort is smothering or boring. *sigh*  That is a bad deal, but that is how it is. You’re the one in charge and it is your sense of happiness, freedom or fulfilment that ultimately sets the compass on this topic. It takes a little bravery though – to accept the truth of what you’re feeling and to start over.

We start over in all kinds of little ways all the time, and yet we carry so much from one place to another. The sense of new beginnings can be palpable and yet we don’t usually change our name, or throw out all of our clothes and change our favourite meal. So take comfort from the fact that it is just uncomfortable, not annihilating and give yourself permission to try something new.

Go ahead, get uncomfortable. It might be the secret to a happy you.

Boldly go in your direction

keep-calm-and-boldly-goWe’ve talked about starting over and it is worth touching on that idea again, because the pressure is often to do Big Things. You know, Those Boldly go where no man has gone before expectations*. That’s fun for a while if you are an intergalactic adventurer, or a woman. (I mean I even got to make a pennyfarthing where no wo-man had gone before) but at a certain point, most of us just want some help with the basic “boldly go” part.  Those first steps or stumble in a new (for us) journey are their own bold adventure. It could be asking for help to plan an overseas holiday when you’ve never left the city but everyone around you is infecting you with their itchy feet.

Taking action in alignment with your own values put you back into the driver seat of your own life. Freedom is in being bold on your own terms. Maybe committing to a slow shift in your eating habits, or starting to go for walks again or maybe a gym session or saving money. Whatever it is for you, where you’ve had a hint of fear, or worry about what other people are going to say, or if you’ll look silly, or fail, or or or … well, that’s an opportunity for some bold baby stepping.

Boldly go (but in bitty bubby steps)

We yearn for big wins and particularly successful people who are used to achievement forget that starting over is all about starting small. By small, we mean really small. Simple. Two minute tasks, being mindful, remembering to make a choice rather than react. These are the baby-what’s the next thing I could do that takes me towards what I want? Take a little action, bitty bubby ones but bold, feel bold. You’re courageous! You’re brave! You can totally do this!

Be bold baby!

By the way, it doesn’t even have to be about fulfilling your dreams, maybe just do the things that are bugging you and that let you simplify that endless to-do list.

Sometimes being bold is saying “no, thanks.”

No to more commitments, things that serve other people, or things that aren’t helping you get your own stuff sorted. Maybe being bold for you is asking for some help (maybe from all those people you’ve already been helping all this time?) or be bold and be brutally honest with yourself about what is really important to you.

So muddle onwards in your own direction and boldly be yourself. There honestly is no one better suited to it than you.

*Like discovering new galaxies or intelligent alien life. No pressure, right?

Digital addiction

What if the internet doesn't have all the answersDigital addiction is sweeping our towns and communities destroying families. It might start innocently with putting concerning symptoms into google or checking Wikipedia to understand your boss’s impenetrable jargon. Next thing you know you’re on Facebook* and you’re considering a bigger data package because, seriously, who watches free-to-air tv anymore?!  But these gateway apps lead your into the labyrinth and next thing you’re sucking down giant cans of ‘energy drink’ during Candy Crush all nighters and you’re binging on multiple games in scrabble rip-offs. It isn’t just the time you’ve lost, or the hunch in your shoulders and the sludge in your bowel. Real money is slurping into the funnel of in-app purchases out of your pocket and the mouths of your hungry children. That’s not even counting your gadget and access.

Are you at risk? Feeling morally superior right now? Do our quiz. Simply answer yes or no to these simple questions and then tally your score for the rating below.

Do you have a Digital addiction? quiz

  1. Do you feel at all uncomfortable if you leave your phone at home when you go out?
  2. If the power goes out do you still reach for the TV remote?
  3. When you take a photo do you automatically think of the tags or captions for your sharing platform?
  4. Do you depend on your phone for all contact details and or appointments?
  5. Of your last five social engagements were three or more organised via social media?

Your Digital addiction rating

Zero ‘yes’ responses: Congratulations!

People might tell you that you’re ‘hard to reach’ but when you do get together, there’s interesting stuff to share and you still have an attention span and the skills to hold a conversation.

Between 1 and 5 ‘yes’ responses:

Oops, your gateway activities have you on the slippery slope to digital addiction! You’re soon going to need another external hard drive for your brain unless you take action!

Defeating your digital addiction

It is possible to turn the tides and regain your brain. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. You could burn your smartphone, that’s cool. Actually that’s a great start, but a lot of people moan “I could *never* act so clearly in my own best interest!”**  You could distract yourself by travelling somewhere (even slightly) off-grid and realising that there’s a lot of world out there that you haven’t seen yet. You do some of the old pre-internet ways you used to enjoy to be happier. You could have a bath, take it easy,  relight your candle or simply rest in the bliss of being. Still not confident?

You have other digits!

OK, here’s the no effort, basic level, simple starter for your digital addiction – your hands. Yes, those other digits that you have right there (FREE) on the ends of your phone stumps. Use them to make something. That’s right, make something. I dare you. Feel the amazing power of creation flow through you and out into the world. This is the secret to your new freedom! Let your analogue digits be your newest love. Let them be guided by your heart as you reclaim your time, cash and joy.

Welcome back <3.

*COPYRIGHT TO THE MEGACORP

**Obviously I’m paraphrasing there.

Heal the fear

healLast week we talked about fear a little, about how it might be possible to make friends with it. The reason we took that path is because another odd thing about the way fear works in us is that we hold onto the habits of being fearful and that habit can be just as destructive as the initial state of fear was. What if we could heal the hurt our fear left behind? Is that possible? I believe it is.

Fear scars our memory

Mostly we fear things that we believe are uncomfortable or painful. Public speaking, visiting the dentist, cleaning the pool filter. And so we put off doing them ever, ever again. fear can attach itself to so many things, and to little things (and that’s a trick too – you don’t want to own up to being afraid of something) it is easy to say instead “I’m too busy”, “too tired”, “Not right now” and we rush on, pushing our way through all the other things there are to do.  That’s why making friends is a good first step, but it isn’t the only step. You also need to be gentle with yourself for a while. We try and rush healing in our culture. It doesn’t work. We don’t work that way. Then you’re ready to work some magic and make something new in the place the fear used to be. Unless we transform the experience, we re-live it. Even if we’re never in the same situation again, we carry it around and act as though it is real and that is not freedom. That is being frozen by fear.

Transform your state of fear

Taking action, being courageous, facing up to the things you’re frightened of, these thing have value, but be clear that you haven’t transformed your fear. The habit of it, the scar from it will still be there, the pattern may repeat. We want to shift from a state of fear, into a state of peace, or safety or trust. From these states we can heal. From these states we have a chance to remake our patterns. There is a way out and you can do it. You can heal the fear that restricts you, that follows you around like a cloud.

This is your personal adventure. You are the magician with the power to shift your state, ask yourself what you need to make this happen, ask for help from the universe or people you know to bring what you need together, give yourself time to brew the right potion. Mindfulness about your intent and your existing habits is useful. Accept the help that will come. Accept the uncertainty of change. These vital steps put you onto the cusp of transformation. Your heart aches for comfort, but the mind creates the labyrinths.

The mind is where the magic happens, there in the cauldron of your skull.

Rinse and repeat

Healing is not a one-off thing. Habits form over time, and they take time to dismantle. This is not a ‘tick and flick’ exercise, you’ll be spiraling through these experiences. One thing leads to another, one memory raises three more. Humans are complex and we like to layer things. So go easy, pace yourself. You can heal, but you’ll need to give yourself time.

The payoff

Ironically, by the time you’re ready to cash-in the benefits of all this self-healing, you may have forgotten there even was a final stage! There is – all that energy that went into fear and worry is available for something else – something new. You might be so relieved to be basically fear and worry free that it feels like enough. Well and good, rest there for a while, when you’re ready the world will be waiting for you.

Itchy feet

travellingThere’s a meme going around along the lines of “imagine living a life you don’t need a holiday from”. That’s an idea with a lot going for it and ties into our themes here of happiness, gratitude, self-knowledge and meaningful living. And yet … I get itchy feet … I get curious about the world beyond my commute and I wonder what it is like to stand in a different ocean. I want to go somewhere … else.

I’m not sure then how to understand this urge. It builds, and over time it becomes discontent if I don’t acknowledge it. So much as our focus here is on seeking connection with happiness and using self-knowledge and connection with each other to establish ourselves, sometimes we must grow too, through the unknown, through the mysterious urges of seeking and exploring people, things, ideas and places that are, to us, ‘other’.

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

Then we come home and we integrate, we mull things over, we massage our sore and painful feet. It is not ‘better’ one way or the other, to travel or tour-ist, or to wander half-lost and half-found. It just is and for each of us our own journey is inspired by itches of all kinds. Some we decide to scratch and some we leave as a unanswered want for now, for other reasons, for duty or obligation. We imagine and we cajole ourselves and none of us have a map. We are all looking or a horizon to trust in.

Let’s all win lotto

I’m just going to put this out there into the universe. I want things to change. I want to be that happy person that smiles no matter how things are going. I want it so badly that it is an ache every single day. The Happy Pills the doctor gave me aren’t enough. So it is time, time for the one ticket to rule them all and according to the internet, if we just want it bad enough we’ll attract it. So Let’s do this – let’s win lotto!

Will money make you happy

The internet also told me that to attract wealth I should be living as though I’m already rich. Huh? How stupid is that? Obviously I can’t afford to do that or I would be rich already and I wouldn’t be worrying about attracting wealth. Who writes this stuff? Sheesh.

Anyway. Winning numbers, happy days.

Why win lotto

Lots of people have thought about what life might be like if they win lotto. Here are some highlights:

  • enjoy life
  • no more money worries
  • freedom
  • help other people
  • more security
  • spend time with those you love

Great list isn’t it – so why don’t more people go ahead and win lotto? It is a no-brainer that you’d want more of that stuff. I’ve learnt how to get results and I’m more than happy how to share it.

Three amazing tips to buy the winning ticket

What I’ve learnt is that a lot of people don’t realise that they’re buying the wrong tickets. There’s a system to win lotto and a lot of it comes down to the ticket. I’ve been researching all the big winners and they have more than you think in common. It isn’t even really a secret but you have to know how to apply it. So how do you buy the winning ticket? Here are the three amazing insights and tricks I’ve learnt through my research:

  1. What are you buying it with? If you want your life to change, you have to pay. What are you really paying with and is it valuable enough to earn you a win?
  2. Who are you buying it from? Is the seller truly capable of giving you a win? Will they actually deliver what they promise?
  3. Are you in the right game? A lot of people mistakenly enter lotteries that offer cash prizes and this is where their strategy falls over, as even if they win, all they have is more money. #Fail

Apply the simple system for great results!

You’ve got to get more strategic, play the bigger game, make the move that addresses your needs at the right level. Here’s how to apply the simple three point system to achieve the results you’re yearning for.

  1. Pay with your time, your habits, your pride, your ego. Really dig deep to find what you’re willing to release.
  2. Get your entry from the only supplier who has the authority to deliver what you need. You. No one else can deliver the good. Don’t believe the hype or the sales pitch, it is just you.
  3. Be in the right game – ask only for the Bliss of Being. No amount of cash can buy this, nothing else is a prize worth winning.

Do you see how it all works together? Do you see the symmetry and logic of the system?! I’m playing again tonight, and tomorrow, and again until I get it right. Please join in and we can all win the lotto of the soul.