There’s Peace in Process

I’ve held back on this post since typing up it’s title in June. Back then I had this overwhelming need to write about surrender and acceptance, presence and patience. I felt like I was just on the brink of reaching it. Just.

I’ve held back on this post since typing up it’s title in June. Back then I had this overwhelming need to write about surrender and acceptance, presence and patience. I felt like I was just on the brink of reaching it. Just.

See I returned home to the lovely Apple-Isle of Tasmania at the end of 2011 after spending seven glorious years in sunny Queensland. I was convinced that I’d be here ‘just for a little while’ until my husband finished out his fly-in-fly-out contract. I was sure his work would return us interstate in a year or so. While it wasn’t my first choice to come back home I resided to the fact that I should settle-in to enjoy being closer to family and old friends and discover a new romance with Tassie’s well known unique island lifestyle.

I hated it.

For a long time. In fact there were probably two whole years I spent completely absorbed by a mindset that had me pointing out everything I didn’t like about my location and circumstance. I struggled through the darkness and freezing temperatures of winter. My job wasn’t giving me the kicks I needed to feel progressive in my career and I felt a complete disconnect from mainland Australia the rest of the world. And without detailing too much of my inner Negative-Nancy’s stories let’s just say in a nutshell Tassie’s lifestyle is typical of that in most regional areas  – it’s just not for me.

Naturally my mental state took a battering in this frame of mind. Nancy crept into any space I’d let her. I saw very little good, every bit of the bad and spotted the ugly (and unfortunate) a mile away. I have to say, while my friends are reluctant to, I know this attitude turned me into a real drag to be around. Who wants to go out with a chic who’s all about telling you how crap the town is that you choose to live in? Yep, draaag.

I knew it was happening. I could feel my good vibes and optimistic outlook on life flying out the frosted door. But my wish and will for things to change was so strong and no match for a few self-help books and positive inspiration feeds I grappled with.

All because it wasn’t perfect. The situation wasn’t my ideal. And ultimately, what I wanted wasn’t happening when I wanted it to. Tutt, tutt, tutt.

In the moments we feel like we’re at battle with ourselves and our lives I think it’s pretty hard to do what we know is right and ‘trust the process’. And in my experience most people choose to mutter these words only when there’s a positive opportunity in the mix. Rarely are they spoken when you’re in a completely screwed up situation e.g. after the four hour drive to Falls Festival you realize you left your ticket at home (true story!), not cool and pretty hard to see why ‘trust’ in that process would benefit you.

So yes, it’s harder than it sounds but evidently it can work out. It does work out.

When I drafted this post back in June I’d surrendered to trusting in the process. It’s all I had left. I’d spent so much energy on wishing and willing things to happen a certain way that my ‘wishing’ well was at an all time low – I was tired.

But with fatigue came surrender. Surrender grew acceptance and acceptance let me just be. And just being (in it’s simplest form) is the most blissful state I can be in regardless of it’s geographic location.

Surrender started small. Rather than resent all the big things that triggered my Negative-Nancy attitude I focused on the act itself. I opted out of criticizing the limited night-life options that drove me crazy and focused on the opportunity of actually having a girls night instead. I was after all lucky I to have my good girlfriends around me. Gratitude grew. And rather than curse the cold weather, I treasure-hunted hearty and healthy recipes, learnt to light a fire and devoured Pinterest for winter outfit inspiration.

They were small (but deliberate) changes in my focus and kept me exactly where I needed to be and discover what I needed to learn: presence and patience.

Then, it happened.

Last Thursday, my husband greeted me at the door with words I’d been waiting so long to hear: ‘We’re all on for Newcastle.’

In seconds after he gave me the news I wish I could tell you that that I had a cathartic outpouring of relief, excitement and gratitude for what was now finally happening. There was no such moment.

And a quote comes to mind:

“Peace is in the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”

Wayne W. Dwyer

And that’s the only explanation I have for my reaction; I’m at peace with the process.

I truly believe that when you totally accept your moment in time, when you unashamedly learn the lesson and give complete acknowledgement to the feeling – effortlessly – things will start to make sense. Life will seem to fit and striving will stop.

Like I said – it’s harder than it sounds – but if you’re beating yourself about because things aren’t flowing and life just isn’t panning out as planned do the thing that you’re most fearful of: surrender. Trust the process, see the simple and let the Universe catch you the way it’s meant to.

Images: BustBright, Wokisnotajob.com, Best Quotations 4 UCoffeeinthemountains.tumbler.comJoyreactor.com, alohatides

Are you there yet? Getting clear on what you really want.

Feeling good is life’s primary intention…

 ‘The having-it-all pressure can drive you crazy when things aren’t so perfect. Like it did for Missy, who told me, “Hell, I had it all, on the outside. My business took off, my husband’s a great guy, I had two perfect toddlers. I even had the marble kitchen counter tops. But I was boozing it up in the pantry every afternoon because the pressure to be perfect was getting to me.” She went on: ”Ya know, sometimes I wanted to show up at our mommy walks without a great attitude, or without my makeup, and with my filthy kid, and just say, ‘Ladies, this is all I fuckin’ got to give today!’”

The Desire Map

Amen Missy. A. Men.

The above is an excerpt from an amaze-bomb book I’ve been pouring over the last few weeks: Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul.

Danielle’s a super star in the divinely-led blogger world. Her website, DanielleLaPorte.com, has been referred to as “the best place online for kick-ass spiritualty” and Forbes named it one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women”.

The girl is good.

There’s a bunch fields of quotes, personal stories and let’s-be-real advice that I’ve felt compelled to share with you. But I couldn’t deny my immediate connection to Missy’s story and it’s relevance to the message I’m trying to send here: Perfect ain’t always perfect.

For some of us, we unconsciously play the roles we think we want. Keyword: unconsciously.

We buy the house, study the degree, stay at the ‘good’ job we secured years ago and possibly in the same relationships that went with it. We set the goals and go after them. It makes sense to do this. It’s easier to do this. Until it’s not.

‘…Missy had a breakdown that turned out to be a breakthrough. She moved her family to the country, doubled her business, and quadrupled her peace of mind.’

The Desire Map

Like Missy, it starts with an undeniable feeling (or behaviour – e.g. pantry drinking) that eventually reaches a peak within us that we can no longer handle. We crack. We cry. We act-out or withdraw. We get conscious.

That – right there –  is your soul calling an intervention.

Why? Because…

Feeling good is life’s primary intention.

The brilliance of Danielle’s book is her ability to show you that achieving the ‘goal’ doesn’t always guarantee the ‘feeling-good’ aspect. As she explains:

‘You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing the feeling you hope reaching the goal will give you.’

The Desire Map

I get that. I believe that.

Exhibit A: I was a good girl, got good grades all through school and graduated with even better results at Uni. I got every job I ever applied for. Career pathways were offered to me by my boss-ladies and men. I was even part of a pretty cool ‘we’ and together had multiple houses, cash in the bank and lived (and bought) like we wanted. I’d say to myself over and over, ‘This is what you worked for. You have it. You can start feeling complete now please.’

I couldn’t make it happen. In fact the striving to-feel-complete sent me into a sad and messy state as I tried to talk myself into being happy with where I was.

 

Knowing when something’s not right for you (even when it’s ‘perfect’) is one of the best and worst things about being human. It’s called intuition.

It torments us when we’d rather just accept current reality and tread water. Yet, thankfully, it also guides us when we’re brave enough to start stepping on to a new path. It feels what it wants to feel. And if you’re subscribed to listening to it it’s undeniable.

How many times have you heard yourself say: ‘I can’t wait until <insert your seemingly far-far-away life goal here> so I can just feel…’. Sorted? At home? Like I’m qualified? Skinny? Whatever the feeling you’re yearning for, how many times have you declared that you ‘can not wait’ to feel this way?

The Desire Map light bulb moment for me? You don’t have to wait.

‘Small, deliberate actions inspired by you true desires create a life you love.’

The Desire Map

Whether you’ve arrived at your said goal or you’re still busy striving for it stop and reflect – use your intuition. Are you moving towards what you really want? That is: how you really want to feel?

If not, then shift the focus. Change the gears. Walk towards the feeling. In any way.

Do something that reminds you of what your real desire feels like. If affluent, knowledgeable, influential, ease or energised are in your desire vocabulary then do one thing today that makes you feel that way – however small.

 

Test drive the car you can’t yet afford, post a thought-provoking comment to influence conversation, do yoga to feel at ease or blend-up a green smoothie to spark the energy you’re chasing.

The Desire Map’s concept brings the future into the present. Most of us know pretty well whether moving closer or further away from how we really want to feel in our day but having the guts to do something about it has always, ALWAYS, been my sticking point. For this reason I ignored trampled on my something’s-not-right feelings for years.

The truth is we don’t have to wait. There’s no risky moves, resignations or eloping involved. Just small, intentional acts that edge us a little closer to the feelings we crave and in turn the true goals we aspire for in our life.

And while these small life-affirming gestures may seem insignificant they’re a nod to your soul. You hear it. You’re honoring the feeling today. And in that moment you’ll feel a little more positive about working towards where you really want to be. You’ll see possibilities your tormented and teased mind couldn’t comprehend before. You’ll let go of perfection and hold onto pursuit – of feeling good.

Again, why would we do this?

Because feeling good is life’s primary intention.

So thank you Danielle. For me, getting clear on what you actually want to feel like and being able to feel that way TODAY is the best I’m-not-there-yet medicine I can think of goin’ round.

P.S If you’re intrigued by the book and end up buying it I’d love to know what you thought in the comments below!

Images: via Pinterestbohemianbeyou, daniellelaporte.com

Strong women say no

Are you doing this? Running rampid through town, around the house and thinking about what you need to get done tomorrow – right now? Yes, I’d be happy rocking these pins too, but let’s see how far the chase actually takes you.

I’m the first to admit to an OTT work ethic. While it’s paid off many times in the past, it’s like a drug. I know it’s bad for me, I’ve tried to kick the habit but on some level the chaos feels good. See it all seems to stem from a list. On the fridge, in the diary on a pretty piece of kiki-k ‘To-Do’ stationery (I’m a sucker for those) the list of tasks looks so structured and organised, even complete, on paper. It sits as a beautiful compilation of all the things I’m going to get done that day. There’s a mindset that it it’s on a list it’ll get it done, I’ll remember to do it.

The thing is I never actually forget. Remembering isn’t the problem. The list morphs from the paper into my head and becomes tattooed onto my brain, not as a friendly reminder (the tone of these lists get nasty), but as a constant reinforcement of what I haven’t achieved that day.

My mantra this week has been ‘Get.Your.Shit.Together’. Last night I laid myself to sleep planning out the day ahead of me. How organised I would be to have vacuumed the whole house in the hour between Harper’s bottle feed and breakfast. I’d have a whole ‘nother half-hour to hang some washing, get dressed, make the bed, do the breakfast dishes, pack Harper up and drive to the gym by 9.30am. Anyone with a child will be shaking their heads at this and not be surprised when I say I got no-where near that list done. And so that’s all I thought about… what I didn’t get done.

If someone kept telling you about all the things you’d forgotten to do, had given a half-arse attempt at doing or just ran out of time to do in the midst of chaos, that is your day, wouldn’t you tell them to back off? Wouldn’t you tell them that the reason your lounge room floor looks like a creche and your car appears to have taken on a 4WD track is because you just haven’t had a spare hour to dedicate to these jobs? Or maybe you’d whip out your diary? It’s jam-packed with work meetings, doctor, accountant and school appointments, just-need-a-decent-coffee-with-an-adult appointments and let alone tackling you’re daily sort-yourself-out schedule. Wouldn’t this be your instinct?

So do it. Tell yourself to back the fuck up.

Let’s just be a little bit more realistic. The ‘list’ does not control you. You control the list. And no matter how hard or fast you work there will always be something on the list. So it needs to be managed.

A very smart and endearing CEO once said to me, “If I see you here past 5.30pm, I don’t see that as you doing a good job. I see that as you not being able to manage your work load.”

Ouch. This knocked my whole perfectionist work ethic out reception’s front door. Fear was my first instinct and I had trouble comprehending his words. In my mind working harder, doing things faster and staying up late to fit more in was a way of life, especially in a (often egotistical) corporate world.

It’s taken me many years, a breakdown, a couple of therapy sessions and much willingness to ‘let-go’ but I now understand what he was trying to instill in his team.

Your list is your workload. Managing your workload means managing the unnecessary, staying focused, prioritising and most importantly saying ‘No’. Now this isn’t another take-control-of-your-life-and-quite-your-job kinda post. It’s a simple reminder that day-to-day we run the list. We manage the workload. We say ‘Yes’ and we should also be saying, and be ok with saying, ‘No’.

And ‘no’ this very word is not weakness, a can’t-hack-it attitude or a cop-out. It’s a conscious uncoupling of you from the list (thanks Gwenyth and Chris). It’s permission, it’s empowerment and it’s ownership. Take yourself back to a time when someone said no to you. Didn’t you feel like they had the power and the say-so? Didn’t you feel like you had to check back with them if it was ok?

So here’s three ways (another list) to try to start taking back your say-so.

1. Keep making the list. But pick only three items for that day.

My lists are epic. They’re comprehensive, detail oriented and completely unachievable. Don’t do this. Set yourself up for success and choose only three that you can achieve.

2. Verbalise it.

Say it out loud to yourself, the cat, dog, the baby – whoever or whatever. The most important thing here is that you put it out there. It’s no longer just a thought, you’ve part-way actioned it.

3. What’s the worst that will happen. Really?

Is it that bad? Will it really be the end of your world (or someone elses) if you say no? Put your big-girl pants on and give yourself a reality check on the situation – there’s a likelihood you could live with the outcome.

So, with every email, phone call, load of laundry, trip to the shops or errand you run – take back your say-so. Say yes when you can and say no when you can’t. Be honest. Don’t ignore the deep inhale when you know you’re taking on too much. You are a superwoman. But even she didn’t have super powers to do it all.

 

Image 1: via Vaunte.com Image 2: simplyseleta.com Image 3:  Lilian Ricano Image 4: webjunkiesblog

 

Why you do what you ‘do’

Rock bottom. Ever hit yours? Ever crashed and burned into a complete heap? There’s a build up. A heaviness, like the calm before the stress-storm. It’s when your body says screams ‘it’s too much, too much for right now,’ but the mind says ‘you must’. Or maybe you’ve all of a sudden found yourself in the situation? You lost your job, someone broke-up with you (or you can’t escape them) or your cash-flow is getting pretty damn low? You’ve felt chained to the bottom (wherever that is).

Well, I’m here to tell you it’s good. Damn good. Get-excited-and wish-it-would-happen-to-you type good. In fact it’s a gift. While I didn’t know this at the time (and it hurt like crazy) my rock bottom gave me more than I could have ever gotten from a self-help book, Tony Robbins seminar, meditation retreat or whatever life-guidance tool I was grasping to at the time. (P.S No offence Tony, I’m sure they’re great, I’m just taking the piss.)

My rock bottom was the complete inability to control my own mental state. It broke me. Key words: inability to control. In that moment everything in my world was bad. I hated the State I was in, the house I was in, the job I was in and even the clothes I was in (given the latter a healthy amount of retail therapy kept me afloat there for a while). I could not stop stop the negative. Of course when you’re looking at your life through a perfectionist’s eyes, comparing it against a standard of rules and expectations, nothing will ever be good enough. And so, with nothing meeting the mark, I felt like I’d failed. I’d convinced brainwashed myself into believing that there was no way out, that I was stuck in this vortex forever and I should just give-up and accept the cards I’d been dealt. Depressed much?

What a drama queen. Really, why was my brain functioning like this? I used to be such a positive person. When I looked at the facts I knew logically that  life wasn’t as bad as I felt emotionally but I just couldn’t shake the overwhelming, all-consuming cloud that haunted me every day.

The thing about rock bottoms is that everybody’s is different. And each is justified – no judgement here at all (and like I’m in a position to judge!). For me it was loosing control. For others it might be having to ask for money, for help or taking a less-than-desirable job. Some things just seem like the end of our world as we know it.

Needless to say it was a ‘Hail-Mary!’ moment when, with the help of a professional, I could actually see why my reactions were my reactions. Why I saw the world around me in black and poo-colours and no longer in rainbows.

“In times of stress we revert to the opposite of our type,” my therapist said.

“You’re not crazy, you’re just not yourself right now,” she said.

After a quick Tom-Cruise-jump-on-the-couch type moment and a shout of relief that I wasn’t sentenced to this state forever, she handed me a Myers-Briggs Personality Type test. Seeing my natural tendencies on paper brought me peace and pride.  ‘I knew this was who I was,’ I said with tears in my eyes. Suddenly the why I was doing what I was doing started to make perfect sense.

Fancy knowing yours? You can take the test here.

Me? I’m an INFJ. I get my energy as an introvert, I favour intuition when considering new information, I use my gut feeling to make decisions and I structure my world by judging decisions quickly, planning and organising accordingly.

If you’re also this type it might resonate with you that we can be determined and passionate, have a creative flair, seem to be able to ‘gel’ with people easily and, as such, seem to be able to talk them into whatever we’re passionate about at the time. Those are strengths.

However, here are some danger zones. Without a goal or direction INFJs loose their sh*&*. What’s the point if we can’t see it, right? If we’re not moving towards a ‘worthy’ goal then that’s just whack. As natural perfectionists we try to match everything to the beautiful and unrealistic picture in our head. It must be ‘just-so’. Which is great, until it must be ‘just-so’ everywhere. At work, at home, at the gym, with our bodies, our outfits, our cooking for Christ’s sake! We fight for the ideal. Always.

This is why I was so crazy, tormented unhappy. I couldn’t see a clear link between my job and my career goal. Nor could I connect the state I lived in to the environment I wanted to raise my family in. I felt like I couldn’t ‘organise’ my way out of the situation so I tried to perfect it instead. I became obsessed with the facts of eating right, to the point where I’d decline dinner invites to avoid ‘bad’ food. I’d prepare the house every morning to a standard Martha Stewart would be proud of. I’d stay back hours at work editing, reviewing and trying to perfect reports sometimes days in a row. And I felt compelled to be out-and-about with work, friends or family events. I was becoming extroverted, super-sensitive, over-thinking basic information and could not commit to a cupcake. The complete opposite of my natural type.

The lesson? My rock bottom was heavily related to the way I’m wired a.k.a my personality type. Without first understanding why I do things, I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting out of my big, over-inflated, depressive rut.

So if you’re toes are touching the bottom, you’re second guessing your thought patterns or you’re just curious about yourself then start on a new little adventure – get to know your type. You’ll be kinder to yourself because you’ll know what drains you. You’ll be happier because you’ll find what feeds you. And most importantly you can be at peace with what you do. Say hello to the naturally perfect you.

P.S I’d love to know what you thought of your type so post your ponderings in the comments below!