I believe we can be anyone

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you like everybody else is to fight the hardest battle you can fight--but never stop fighting! E.E. Cummings

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Tortoise and the Hare

I remember this story from my childhood and it's always good to have a reminder of it from time to time.  It ties in beautifully to the way of our world currently.

The hare ridicules a slow-moving tortoise and challenges him to have a race.  The hare thinks it's a shoo in because he is clearly fast enough to surely beat a tortoise!  How arrogant!

The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind of course, and confident of winning, decides to take a nap midway through the race.

When he awakes, however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly and steadily, has arrived before him.

How often do you feel rushed to finishing a task?  It's easy to do in the world we now live in where we can, with the click of a mouse, get all the information we need within moments.

Sometimes we think if we just go faster, things will get done faster.  This isn't always the case.

Patience can literally become a virture as I occasionally find myself yelling at my computer because something isn't opening up fast enough.

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that there is always something that needs to be done everyday.  It can feel overwhelming at times.  It feels like a simple life has gone out the window with work, family, relationships, cooking, errands, housekeeping, laundry and on and on it goes.  Not mentioning the fact that we need to get that minimum hour of daily exercise and take care of ourselves by eating healthy.  No wonder we can feel rushed to get it all done.  Whew!  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

What I have learnt though is, if I am rushed, I don't seem to get things done any faster.  In fact, I end up making mistakes, dropping things because I become clumsier and I stress myself out for no reason.  My body starts to feel tense and I get cranky. 

I find what works for me is to continue the art of patience and presence.  Stop, breathe and become present again by focusing on the task at hand.

Sure, go ahead and make your list of to do's.  Of course there are things that need to be done.  But take the time when you start your day to check in with how you feel.  Learn to practice the art of going with the flow.  What is it you feel like doing today?

What is the day like outside?  Perhaps today, inside of spending my day inside, I will go out on the balcony and clean it so I can sit outside and enjoy the day.  If it's raining outside, then I will do some work inside.  If it's nice out, maybe I will go for a bike ride. 

The weather in Calgary can be unpredictable so yes, sometimes, I will design my work chores and exercise around the weather because you know what?  It could be raining tomorrow so I better enjoy the nice weather while I can.  Or, maybe I could do an inside "chore" outside on the balcony when it's nice out.

The point is to tap into that feminine energy of going with the flow.  Step back, take a breath and notice how you feel before you go rushing into your day.  Take a few minutes to prioritize your day and make your list.  Then practice the art of going with the flow.  Perhaps you will choose to do different things on your list than you had initially planned.  That's okay.  There is always tomorrow.

In some circumstances, we may need to move fast, yes.  But given the choice, the slow and the steady sometimes wins "the race" in the end.  Start paying attention to your own unique rhythms by practicing the art of slowing down.  Choose to live your life by being more present and it will make a difference.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's next? Hell if I know!

As I am currently in transition, I find it a challenging journey.  It is almost a daily challenge for me to trust that everything is going to work out the way it is meant to.  Everything I do, I hope, is leading me somewhere but I find it hard to trust the process.  Why?  Haven't figured that out yet.  My need for control and to have things figured out is still strong apparently.

Since I joined Toastmasters in November of last year, I have done three speeches.  Then nothing came to me as to what to do next for a speech.  I felt uninspired.  No ideas were coming.  I thought "What is going on?"

I found it difficult to want to go to meetings.  The dreaded "What If" was popping its ugly head around the corner.  "What if nothing comes to me to want to speak about?"  Silly, I know, but that is what I was feeling and thinking. 

Yesterday I almost didn't go again because it was nice out.  "Maybe it would be better to go for a ride on my bike?" I thought.  But I went to the meeting anyway.  Thank goodness.

I chose the role of Outvocationist.  At the end of the meeting, this role is designed to leave the group with an inspiring message for the week.  

I thought, "What am I going to share with these people that I care about?"  And then it came to me.  A YouTube video I saw last week on the topic of connection and vulnerability by Brene Brown.  Thanks to my friend Roxanne for sharing this video with me.

As I shared my thoughts and a story with everyone, people were inspired and then I was inspired with an idea for my next speech. Worry does not help this process I am learning.  Trust, trust and trust some more.  When the timing is right, the idea will fall in.  Easier said than done though.  I had "forgotten" that lesson and was reminded again.

Why not shift the dreaded thought of "What if I don't?" to "What if I do?".  Am I more afraid of that?  I wonder.

Below are my thoughts as I go through this journey on what is next for me and the questions I ask myself.

What do I want to be known for?

How do I want to be seen?

These are questions I continue to ask myself as my journey continues.

Particularly now as I am fumbling through the unknown as to what is next for me.

It is not an easy place for me to be as I have no answers.  No resounding "YES!", at this point.  "YES, that's it!"  No, not yet.

As I strive for meaning and purpose, the further it gets away from me it seems.  Yes, it seems.

Stop striving.  Let it go.  Surrender.  Enjoy the journey.

Easier said than done.

I feel I am in the dark but still fumbling through the forest regardless, praying that the answers will come to my quest.

Please show me a sign.  Please show me I'm on track to where I'm supposed to go.  What is the next step?

My fear is:  I do all this work and I still won't know the answers.

Where do I belong?  My longing to belong and have a place in this world.

The struggle between wanting to be seen and wanting to be vulnerable fights with my ego and my pride of asking for what I need and want.

When will I let go of this armour that surrounds my heart and just let go?

I long for it and yet it terrifies me.  For there I will be, completely naked in the world.

And I will need to start over.

Who will I be then?

I don't know.

Starting from scratch in a way I'm afraid, but yet curious and excited.

Figuring out who I truly want to become as the person I am meant to be.

What is it I am meant to do that will give my life meaning?

How will I impact the world around me?

How will I serve?  And who?

Trust and trust some more.  That's all I can do as I go from day to day, taking it day by day.

Easier said than done, it's true.

Listen to the "little" YES in the meantime and trust the next step will unfold before me.

Keep opening my heart.

Keep following my heart and watch the signs the best I can and trust the answers will come.

Trust the process the best I can.

That's all I can do for now.

And yes, after the end of my Toastmasters meeting, I went for a ride on my bike.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Being Martina

I was on my way to an appointment and was waiting to catch the train.  A young woman in her 20s walked by me and was talking on her cell phone.  All I heard her say as she walked by me was "I am sooo excited!  I just had to call you!"  Immediately I was curious and wondered what she was so excited about.  After all, so many people are walking around totally unexcited (including myself at times).  She caught my attention.

I thought about getting to where she was so I could overhear the conversation.  Five minutes later, I went to where she was waiting and the last thing I heard her say was "Yes, I need to celebrate.  I love you."

Now I was really curious.  I was hoping that she would be getting on the same train as me and she did.  She sat down and I made a bold move to sit next to her.  I told her I heard her say she was excited and asked her if she'd mind sharing.

She told me she's been in school for engineering for three years now and just got hired for a job internship up in Fort McMurray for the coming year.  She was also excited because it was her last day of exams and she was going to have a break from school to work for one year before she goes back for her final year in school.  She said it was a great opportunity.

I said "Good for you.  Congratulations!  That is exciting!"  Then she threw it back at me and asked me "What about you?"

I shared with her that I had been teaching exotic dance for the last ten years including three years with the City of Calgary, but that it was coming to a close as my spring class cancelled and my manager wouldn't be advertising for the fall either. 

She asked "Why?  It's important work, working with people in the fitness industry."  I said, "Well, because there is always something new and exciting on the horizon and people want to take and try different things.  I am actually okay with it at this point.  It's time for something different.  I'm just not sure what it is I would like to teach at this point."

I told her I was currently taking an acting class for fun and was really enjoying that.  "It's good to take new things once in a while, just for fun." 

She said "Wow!  That's so inspiring.  It's so good to take things that are fun like that.  It's important.  My sister is currently taking a jewellery making class at ACAD and loves it!  My sister inspires me!"

She thought engineering was kind of "boring" but she wasn't sure what else to take or if she would love it at this point.  I told her sometimes the only way to find out is to try things to see whether or not you will like them or not.

She said that working in the fitness industry would be fun because it's working around health and fitness.  She spoke about a Ripped class in the city that she liked and I shared with her that I could see her teaching something like that.  Perhaps I would see her sometime if engineering didn't work out for her.  We said our farewells and went our separate way as I got off the train.

What I loved about what happened today is reaching out and connecting with someone.  It's not often I hear people say how excited they are. 

I mentioned to Angela that so many people are walking around not looking happy and that she caught my attention today.  She said she "hopes I don't turn out to be one of those people working at a job she doesn't like and walking around like 'that' someday."  We both laughed.

What inspired me to connect with Angela was a scene I saw out of a Canadian TV show called "Being Erica".  It is one of the best Canadian TV shows I have seen and it's available on Netflix. 

The crux of the show is:  it's about a woman in her early 30s whose life isn't exactly where she would like it to be.  She can't keep a job, has no relationship and is generally unhappy and frustrated with her life.  She ends up meeting a "therapist".  He asks her to write down all the regrets in her life and will work with her for free.  He asks her, if she went back in time, what would she do differently that would affect her more positively in her present life. 

On each show her therapist literally takes her back in time to relive her regrets one more time and do it differently to see how it affects her present circumstance.  What I love about this show are a lot of things:  the writing, the acting, the positive messages and the lessons she learns about going through this whole process with her therapist. 

One show in particular was a "Groundhog Day" theme "stolen" from the Bill Murray movie.  Erica keeps walking by this guy standing outside a flower shop, talking on his cell phone all excited (sound familiar?)  She has walked by him 100 times, exasperated and frustrated.

Near the end, she decides to ask him what he's so excited about.  He tells her that his wife just told him they are pregnant for the first time. 

People have told me many times that I inspire them.  I, too, want and need inspiration in my life. I was inspired by the idea from that show and as a result, had an opportunity come up for me to create it in my life for real after seeing it on a show.

I love movies and shows that share something meaningful like that.  Sure a lot of TV and movies can be mindless fluff and totally uninspiring.  But who said you don't learn anything from TV?  Sometimes a person can.  There is some great stuff out there if you are open and seek it.

When people walk by, pay attention and see what you notice.  Take some time to connect with them on a more personal level if an opportunity arises.  You might be surprised to find out what you learn about them and yourself!  You might be inspired by them or vice versa.  Don't be afraid to share yourself and your life.  We all have stories.  At some point, we have all had things to celebrate.