A Reverberation…What’s Blossoming?

What’s Blossoming?

Life blossoms just when you want to stay curled up in your little cocoon of earth.

When you think that everything you wanted has been torn away from you. That you just aren’t good enough, aren’t trying hard enough, aren’t doing what life needs you to do, remember….

That life is blossoming anyways.

Some blossoms unfold overnight, but others…

Take their time. A slow bloom. And sometimes they are rained down upon, sodden in the soil. But when the sun comes out again, they reach up to catch the rays. And continue their slow growth, moving forwards at their own pace.

Not someone else’s pace. Only the one they developed over centuries, the one nature intended for them.

Take your time. Bloom the way your heart tells you to. It might not be what you expected, but know that your bloom is exactly what it needs to be. And sometimes your beautiful vision of pink petals might be shattered, trod upon by some unknowing boot. That doesn’t mean your growth is over, only that those petals will, in time, come back more radiant than ever.

Maybe you are a lone daffodil in the middle of the field, holding your ground. Or maybe you are a small pink cherry blossom, surrounded by others with your vision, embracing your community. The world would be less beautiful if not for the variety of flowers that can grow in diverse and sometimes difficult conditions.

A new energy is blossoming, one that will allow us all to follow our own truths. An energy that will take us through our trials.

So don’t hide yourself under that pile of dirt that you think will keep you warm and safe. Push upwards.

Take a moment, to stop and smell the blossoms.

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Stories.

Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world?

I believe we are much more than a string of stories. There is something that sits in the center of us, moving us forward, where the stories we tell ourselves are irrelevant. I believe this is what meditation is for – finding ourselves in the present moment WITHOUT surrounding ourselves in our stories. Identifying our true essence, our presence without a constructed ‘identity’.

We so often use our stories to defend ourselves, to build walls, or boundaries, or perhaps hold on to outdated conceptions of who we really are – avoiding the present and all it has to offer. As a bumper sticker once told me “Be willing to give up what you are for what you can become”. If we hold on to our old stories for too long without examining them, we may be holding ourselves back from something better. Wounds heal, and so the stories about these wounds need to change as we evolve, or we risk clinging to an emotion that has long lost it’s value.

The stories we tell ourselves, or others, can become habit. If they’re positive stories, fantastic! We can continually encourage ourselves to try harder, and become more true to ourselves and our purposes. But if they are stories which drag us down, or perpetuate negativity or our own suffering, then they are better left behind.

In the New Year, I resolve to look closely at my stories and the way I present myself to others. Am I clinging to stories that no longer serve me? Probably, and I would like to slowly unravel them to find the unnecessary ‘fibres’. But perhaps there are some stories, deep in my core, which really do serve to push me forward and remind me who I am. At my center is a story of perseverance, a desire to see our planet green and healthy, and it’s people treat one another with a little more kindness. I want to share this with others at every chance I get, and it starts with small day to day actions and conversations. Getting the word out, helping people to understand the world a little better, giving them an incentive to care about the planet. Helping them see how powerful they really are, and their abilities to create change.

This is a story that I will keep telling, and I want other people to start telling it too. If we can all center around our positive cores, and share our desires and motivations with others, perhaps we can get one step closer to sustainable and supportive communities.  Creating a stronger present without clinging to outdated stories that perpetuate self-destruction.

Achieve

Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Achievement is a tough topic for me, as I find I often place too much value on being a constant and determined over-achiever. When I first read this question, I felt a little pang of anxiety, because the only think I can think of achieving right now is that I REALLY want a job. Yes, REALLY. Like, a lot. If you’ve talked to me at all in the last few months, you’ve probably had to hear me talk about it (thank you). And I’ve been doing everything I can to achieve this, focusing directly on it for the last four months, and working towards it indirectly for the last four years. I’ve made the goals, I’ve created the experiences, developed the skills, and DONE it. When I’ve wanted to achieve something, I have.

So the fact that I can’t immediately achieve what I want (getting a job) simply by putting my mind to it is  frustrating. I have the skills, I have the soul-firing dedication to the cause, but apparently, my ‘dream’ position just isn’t ready for me yet. So let me say that I would rather not focus on achieving, and the feeling it will give me, but rather the small things I can do to make life fulfilling while I continue to work towards greater goals.

I know there are others out there going through the same thing, trying to find meaningful and fulfilling work and coming up against walls. While we truck through this together, perhaps we need to focus less on the end goals, and more on appreciating the moments we have now to live life.

There are a few things I have already started doing to achieve a more balanced and content state while on the hunt, and a few that I hope to make a habit in the days, weeks and months that follow. So here are my 10 ideas for keeping afloat while searching for my career boat:

1.     Breathe. Anytime I feel overwhelmed or disheartened, take 10 deep breaths to bring myself back to my body and the present moment.

2.     Stretch it out. It’s amazing how much even 30 minutes of yoga can do to get you back in alignment with the universe. I just bought a new video called Blissology from Eoin Finn, a yoga teacher whose previous work kept me limber in Micronesia – it’s a set of routines and meditation for every day of the week, just a little space for you to take for yourself and get your mojo going. Which brings me to…

3.     Meditate. A practice which I have been slowly developing over the years, one which I have come to identify with greatly in more recent months – if I can take even just 15 minutes out of my day to find balance in my mind, I can take those small steps towards bliss.

4.     “Que sera, sera.”

5.     “This may be the last time you get to have so much freedom, enjoy it!! Just imagine when you’re 45 and are dying for this kind of enjoyment.”

6.     Spend time in nature. Breathing in crisp air frees me, and always reminds me that my problems are small. If the universe can keep this glorious planet running, surely my little life will sort itself out too.

7.     Create. Writing and painting for pleasure fulfill me – this reverb experience has given me a small sense of purpose that ‘work’ sometimes lacks, and I have come to realize how important a regular creativity session is for my bliss

8.     Gratitude. I can list five things I’m grateful for, to remind myself how complete my life already is.

9.     Look back. At the things I have achieved to remind myself that I am capable of doing great things and pursuing incredible opportunities.

10.    Hug someone. Because it ALWAYS gets my bliss levels soaring!

To everyone out there struggling to achieve something, don’t let it get you down, everything comes in time, and sometimes only when it’s darn tootin’ ready! I would love to hear your ideas about how to bring bliss, contentment, and happiness into every day life when your goals aren’t quite within your grasp.

Ordinary Joy

Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

I’m struggling to wrap my head around this concept, and I’m concerned it’s because I no longer understand the word ordinary. What does ordinary really mean anymore, in a world where things get turned upside down on a regular basis? I experience profound joy in nature, in speaking with friends, in getting a good stretch or getting to the top of a rock face. Are those things still considered ordinary? An ordinary day for one person could be an adventure for another, depending on how you enjoy living your life (or what you have time for). Ordinary in Vancouver, or ordinary in Canada, is not the same as ordinary in other parts of the world – so perhaps we should rejoice in knowing that our ordinary can actually be quite extraordinary. What has become ordinary for you, and what still pushes the boundaries of life beyond the usual?

I’d like to say that spending Christmas day with my parents was a time of joy, just enjoying one another’s quiet presence as we read for hours. But for me, this isn’t really ordinary. I can more often be found at the yoga studio or sharing a meal with friends than I can spending genuine quality time with my family. It’s been a difficult readjustment for me to get back into living at home full time, and because I resist it, I find I don’t spend the time I could actually enjoying my parents company.

So perhaps finding joy in quality family time isn’t ordinary for me, but it is important, and maybe in the grand scheme of the world, it would be considered a fairly ordinary thing to do. I feel comfort in their presence, not hankering to get out and see other people and do other things. Just being with the lovely folks who made my life a reality. I hope that in 2011, I can make this a more ordinary pastime and still find the same joy in it.

Oh and also, the mention of freshly baked cookies sends me into a tizzy of ecstasy. Mmmmm peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Warm, tasty goodness. What about a good cookie doesn’t make you joyful!?!

Yumm.

Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

Those who know me know I can consume anything tasty pretty with voracity, but one meal that sticks in my mind, in all its gooey goodness, is the pancake with bacon, caramelized banana and maple syrup at the Table on Southwark Street in London. Not only were the pancakes to die for, but the company was pretty priceless too.

Food is an opportunity to congregate, and I always enjoy blissing out over a scrumptious brunch with people I adore. It’s more than that full belly feeling – it’s the warmth you feel from spending a little time with good friends, pleasure in relaxing and soaking in what’s truly worthwhile.

Funny that we can sometimes have such a love-hate relationship with food. Trying to cut out this, that and the other thing any given week, searching for miracle foods, overeating when we’re feeling down or not eating enough when we’re too stressed out. Perhaps when we can all adopt the leisurely, people-oriented way of eating, we will all feel much more satisfied. Imagine if we could all take the time for good food, with good friends, instead of eating protein shake lunches and TV dinners because we’re just too short on time and too full of stress.

Once a week in London, a few of us ladies would gather together to have theme dinners – pick a country and bring a dish! It was a gathering of kindred spirits and stories that kept me going week to week (and gave me a break from studying in my tiny room). Sharing hours laughing over Spanish food, Mexican food, Valentines Day themed food, and even “bougie” food was definitely warming for the soul. And damn those ladies could cook! Special shout out for Gen’s magnificent paella.

Cuz every little thing…is gonna be alright

Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

How do you define “OK”? It’s not bliss, it’s not constant and uninterrupted joy, perhaps it’s tinged with an occasional sadness or frustration, maybe something marks you for life, and you’ll never be quite the same, but does that mean you’re not ‘Ok’? Maybe we need to define our own unique ‘Ok’. Time can heal many things, even the things we may not want it to heal, and in the end we will, without a doubt, be ‘ok’.

Maybe we’ve all experienced those moments, where gut-wrenching pain, emotional or physical, consumes us. Or the milder blues of disappointment and discouragement. We often can’t imagine anything else, anything beyond that moment, and yet days, weeks, months, maybe even years later, we will realize that hey, we’re doing just fine. This is not to say that these events don’t matter, that they don’t shape us in some way. It is simply a testament to our ability, as humans, to adapt to what the universe throws our way.

This past year was a hard one, with lots of hair pulling over the academic world I felt I didn’t really feel I belonged to. I would sit through classes, and trudge through readings thinking I could never possibly understand the material, that no matter how hard I tried I just didn’t have the right kind of brain to do well. Anxiety was a regular companion, through semesters, exams and even while writing my thesis. But I kept on trying, and lo and behold, the work paid off. Even when I didn’t do so well on one topic, I found I could do well enough in another, that the small moments of discouragement shouldn’t slow me down. Just because it’s tough doesn’t mean you can’t do it, and the setbacks are a reminder that what you’re working for is worth it.

Knowing that I overcame the hurdles of 2010, as well as those in years past, I know I can look at any setbacks as merely ‘growth opportunities’ along the road. We cannot predict the timeline, when we may feel ‘ok’ again, and how change happens. But we can rest assured that it will. Maybe at this time next year I’ll be looking back in wonder at how everything manifested itself, and turned out just fine.

Reflection.

Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Staring down into the sky

Standing on the edge, ready to jump into the unknown future. Not sure what the universe holds, or where the fall will end, but sure that the leap is worth it. The clouds will cushion my flight.

Photo taken by David Mason, at the corner of Larch and something, Kitsilano, on a December day when the skies parted to reveal a puddle of hope.