Tag Archives: change

Ssh, let it happen

I cannot adequately put words to this phenomenon. I am certain actually that the coming paragraphs will have many traditionally applicable labels from psychology, sociology and many disciplines be they scientific, spiritual, artistic. I haven’t looked for labels, I am going to try to impart a feeling, a concern, a curiosity, a hope.

I feel a sense of dis-ease, discomfort and a generally lack of fulfillment in conversations from time to time. This lack of ease creeps into my awareness as I realise that myself and the other person are having different conversations. In part I wonder if we as creatures go through the world with blinkers on, only able to see life through our own unique set of experiences as reference. consequently the only truth that must then exist is the one that makes most sense based on our OWN experiences. And no other possibility… is possible.

This sense of unease creeps into many interactions throughout a given day. You swap pleasantries, you chat about what you did on the weekend, you might even express an opinion about a current event. At the moment you express an opinion there is space for an interesting conversation to occur. Curiosity and excitement well up ever so briefly at the possibility that you might learn something new, be presented with a different perspective or even simply generate questions which are then pondered and examined causing a mutual illumination of a previously unconsidered element of natural existence/human nature/a solution to a massively grotesque societal problem. This is the realm where creativity thrives, where seed thoughts that lead to real change come into being. This is a wonderful space to explore with an adventurers heart… and sadly many of us turn our back on the opportunity to play at this frontier.

It is much easier and efficient to throw down an opposing opinion and conversation closed. Or to make a statement that “shrugs” and essentially accepts what is known is all there is. We quiet each other with our generalisations and our beliefs that change is not possible and we continue on with topics well within our comfort zone, like what we did yesterday. We are very good at discouraging exploration of thought. But why? This I do not understand.

Is it this way because change seems like a distant thing, brought about by people far removed from ourselves. Is it because bad things happen, led by policy makers or high powered people in other countries and we can’t see how from our unempowered position we can make a difference? Are we simply overwhelmed? Are our lives just not uncomfortable enough to seek change? Do we lack the space in our lives to let hope and joy play in our imaginations of what is possible? When bad things happen to “someone else” and never touch our lives directly, how are we able empathise or expected to entertain thoughts of societal circumstances being other than they are?

I wonder what our world would be like if we all dared to be adventurers of thought. I am not suggesting that we all go out and study philosophy, although that could be fun. But what kinds of decisions would our community make if everyone took a moment to think through  why so many kids hang out in shopping malls, or where commercial food waste goes, or if we took a moment to wonder why that person (our child, lover, a stranger on the street) just acted in that odd way. What would happen if instead of smacking each other down with our opinions about politics, we talked about what the problems are and generated some interesting discussion about solutions. What would happen if we saw a differing opinion as a source for generating thought rather than a threat?

What are the costs of not having these types of conversations?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Nelson Mandela

Anxious much?

Sink or swim.

That used to be my catch cry. I try it on now and it feels half hearted. As weak as a mewling new born kitten. Meek.

I was once full of passion, zest for life, verve! I could do anything I set my mind to. I met challenges with a chuckle and an “alright, let’s see how this goes”. But now, the challenges are greater and somewhere along the way my brain decided I had entered risky territory.

Now I get very worked up about challenges, to the point that my safety conscious brain essentially drives me into a figurative cupboard to cradle, protect and rock myself back to a safe place. Literally it drives my heart rate up, flushes my face with a creeping pink that spreads down my neck, my brain can’t think critically in these moments and effectively renders me mute when I need to be offering knowledge, recommendations, SOMETHING.

Heightened levels of worry. A feeling of dread seeping into the stomach, spreading to the heart. Heart rate pounding so that you think it might actually burst it’s way right out of your chest. Then it starts to get the rhythm wrong. My heart that has had a steady beat for more than 30 years starts to misstep. All because I dared to challenge myself.

I dared to put myself in a position where it mattered if I was crap and my little lizard brain remembered that I have been criticised for not being terribly smart when I was little. It remembered all the moments when I had been publicly criticised that hurt. Then my little lizard brain decided that, without consulting me mind you, it would protect me at all costs.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I have been “sick” a great deal this year and highly avoidant. I get all worked up and then crash, staying close to home. In fact, often not moving from my bed. Over the past few weeks my back began to hurt. It would come and go- always bad on Tuesday/Wednesday around the time of my greatest anxious moments. Then last week the pain was most intense in my back but my arms and legs were also excruciating. I felt like I might vomit the pain was so bad. Then the next Monday night I had a melt down. I could not face Tuesday. Tuesday has become a torturous day in which I feel I consistently let myself and my team down because I am not good at my role that day. And Tuesday morning, not only was my back sore but I was also very ill.

I went to the doctor who noticed an elevated heart rate, a chronic sore throat was red but not infected, my sinuses were incredibly sore- antibiotics were prescribed, but for the sore back she wanted to do blood tests. Now this was a curiosity to me. Prior to this appointment I knew I sometimes felt anxious. I didn’t realise that anxiety is getting in my way. It is a bit of a forehead thunk moment for sure, but I couldn’t help but google “back pain arm and leg”. The most common link was to either rheumatic diseases (which is why the blood test) or anxiety.

Anxiety and the crushing weight of a stuck depression taking turns to render me feeling inept and wanting to tap out. Every struggle, all the moments of overwhelm, even the content of previous posts here just scream of these two unhelpful “safety strategies” wearing down my capacity to cope and navigate this world. So unlike the life adventurer who could do anything she wanted! But knowledge is power. I am not one to let a problem go unsolved once it is recognised. So I am going to try some strategies. I am going to read a book or two and I am going to get my old chuckle filled brave heart back. Then I can be sharing with you the kind of stuff I set out to on this blog 🙂

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

Darkest Before Dawn

For some time now I have been haunted in the evenings, in the quiet spaces of the night, by the inescapable truth that we are fleeting. Dread washes over me and only my physical body’s wisdom can break through the fear. With conscious breath and a firm connection to the weight of my body on my feet or on the bed I can calm myself. But every night I do the same.

My fear of death, not just mine but yours and the critters we share this world with, has been a very strong experience that has shadowed the vast majority of years of my life. It started when I was a child, I would become so scared about inevitable nothingness that I would not know what to do. My dad’s heartbeat always helped but as you get older that’s not so accessible, practical or portable. Sometimes it would bubble up only once every little while, mildly so that I could easily let it pass. A year ago it was as bad as distressing panic attacks that made it impossible to hide from my beloved. At that time it would bubble up during work. Sitting in the lunch room eating, I would school my features to hide the saturation of fear from the people sharing the room as they talked about light every-day stuff. The truth is not that I have this fear. I have always known it. The truth is that I know how to alleviate it.

I understand that this is not a welcome topic in many circles. Who wants to sit with the discomfort thinking about your mortality creates?  If we broaden our scope outside of Western culture what will we find?  Death is removed from our reality with our “it won’t happen to me” attitudes and societal expectation that when someone you love passes you get over it “quick march” while the world cruelly pushes on. Once upon a time our dead stayed in our homes for weeks before burial. Nowadays our loved ones are whisked away, we might see them briefly but in a blur of ceremony they are truly gone. It never occurs to us that we might lose them, or that we ourselves are not going to be here forever.

Some of the happiest and most peaceful people in the world are aware every moment that the next might be their last. They make peace with the angel of death and make compassion their modus operandi. I am of course referring to buddhists and the toltec. I am sure there are many others, but these come to the forefront of my mind. Traditions such as these give thanks for the presence of life, they work at not letting the world humans have created get them down, and they treat each creature with kindness, recognising that we all share the same fate.

How does this help me with my scary-arsed panic attacks? There is a magic in this world and when I am able to see and hear it, I do not suffer. And I suppose in truth this is where work, as I have previously discussed it, plays it’s part. When I am constantly busy with no time to sit quietly, to observe the world and connect with it, then I do struggle. When I neglect my spirituality then I do suffer. When I fail to spend time around the people who matter most then I do struggle. It makes sense that these are the places I must look to reduce the impact of this shadow that has shared my journey thus far. If Tibetan monks can be so sure they won’t see tomorrow and yet be happy, I am sure it can be overcome.

I need to ensure I have a strong spiritual connection. Surely there are methods beyond measure to achieve this. For a person who believes in something greater, but not the man-made doctrines that make so many cultures spin, I will begin in nature and in being present.  I am reading a book (because that’s how I roll) on shamanism to help me be present in this moment. I want to always be able to feel connected with the energies of nature and to know where my own are going. I have started a garden in my new house because having natural colour and birds around is important to me.  I’m going to light more candles, burn more incense, go for nature hikes. I am going to lay on the beach facing the sky and let the heat of the sun light up every cell in my body, starting with the ones behind my eyelids that glow red when my face is directed at the sun.

To further connect with my spirit I am going to make more time to spend quality moments with my loved ones. It is the connections that we make, the ways we love, contribute and connect that make us who we are. Our loved ones are our community, they are the people we were born to, choose to spend time with, met in a fleeting moment and recognised from another place we can’t put words to. The people with whom we feel that everything makes sense. They are our training ground, our play yard, our reward for all that we express in the world. Knowing them, being connected to them, contributing to their lives and opening our lives to them makes everyhing worthwhile.

I am going to be grateful every day for the small and great things in my life. I am going to look for ways that I can be helpful. I am going to hold compassion as my first attitude whether it be for another human being or other creature because we are all the same. I am going to hold myself lightly and respond to the demands of life with curiosity before stress and anxiety. We each have the right to live well, to be ourselves, to not be persecuted nor persecute ourselves. We live, we die, we can’t take our gadgets or our wealth with us. We can leave a loving legacy. I am going to live each day as if it was my last chance to contribute something good, be that a smile to a sad passerby, an extra warm hug for a loved one, or taking a risk to make a big difference.

My journey right now is to make peace with death and the inevitability of dying so that I can truly live. Freely. Fully. With my whole being engaged in the cycle of death feeding life and life feeding death. I do not expect this to be a smooth or easy task, but it is a worthwihle one. I expect that each time a bubble of panic rises to close my throat it will be less intense and more brief than the last one. It is time to embrace the little deaths of change and be at peace with the greater. I will make the angel of death my friend and advisor so as to not waste a single moment.

“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” ~John Muir