Non. Je ne regrette riens.

I am unlearning a lifetime of habitually believing that to regret is to sentence myself to a lifetime of always looking back, never moving on.

Dan Pink’s The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward is the impetus for my unlearning.

Now, I could be cheeky and try to turn the tables on his teaching by saying, “I regret reading this book! It’s making me change my mind about something I thought was one of those unalterable life truths.

Fact is, I don’t regret it at all, which in this case, is a good thing because I can’t unread what’s already read.

Regret makes us human. Regret makes us better, writes Pink.

I’d also add, it makes our journey richer – as long as we enlist our regrets to improve our future.

Like, when you say something to your best friend that is insensitive or snarky. Regret rides in fast (at least for most of us it does) compelling us to apologize and make amends.

Pink calls those ‘regrets of action’. The premise being, I have a chance to recalibrate the present by owning and making amends for what I’ve done to harm/hurt another.

The more challenging regrets, he expostulates, are ones of inaction. The roads not taken. The deeds not done.

Those are harder to course correct, and in more instances than not, according to Pink, seldom are.

Those are the ones we carry with us to the grave.

Which gives credence to the oft-quoted Mark Twain aphorism (which apparently he never said)

The More

What do you want more of in your life? It’s a question often asked in personal development courses.

What do you want? More of? Less of? None of? Lots of?

What you focus on makes a difference.

When I focus on the things that bring me joy, happiness, integrity, beauty, love, I move closer to the things I want.

If I focus on ‘the lack’, the things that don’t work, that upset me and pull me down, the less becomes my focus, drawing me away from all ‘the more’ I want to live a rich and fulfilled life.

What do you want more of in your life?

Hangin’ on to lettin’ go

Hangin' on
to everything 
that doesn't matter
I lose sight
of everything
that matters.
Letting go
of everything 
that doesn't matter
leaves me free
to cherish
everything 
that matters.

I am wearing a comfort sweater today. One elbow is worn out. There’s a hole in the right armpit. But, the sweater is cashmere. It’s cozy. Well worn. Welcome.

I don’t want to let it go.

Fact is, its weary threads don’t matter. What matters is I am happy wearing it, especially in the house. It keeps me warm. It feels good against my skin.

No need to throw it out.

I can hang on.

There are other things in my life, however, that don’t measure up to hanging on.

If I inventory my emotional closet I’m bound to find things that no longer serve or fit me.

Like anger. Regret. Blame. Righteous hurts. Guilt. Shame…

They don’t serve me well as I continue to strive to live my life true to my values, principles and beliefs today.

Those things that do not serve or fit, I need to discard, no matter how well-worn the pathway to their memory vaults may be.

To let them go I must be willing to also let go of the story I tell about why I hang onto them. It’s the story that keeps me clinging to their threads of discord wending their way through my peace of mind. It’s their story that keeps me stuck.

We all have stories we tell ourselves about past events. Those stories where we’re the victim of someone else’s bad behaviour. The recipient of someone else’s anger. The target of someone else’s lies.

Fact is, victim or not, whatever ‘the other(s) did, it happened in the past. We truly can’t change the past, we can choose to free ourselves of its shadows by letting go of repeating the stories that hurt us.

Do you have a story you tell yourself about a time when you were the victim of someone else’s bad behaviour?

Can you find value in what happened? Can you find one gift from those events that create beauty or joy or love or wonder or possibility in your life today?

Search hard and when you find its gift, start telling yourself that story. Again and again. Eventually, that story will lead to a letting go of the other story. The one that doesn’t serve you today.

To live in possibility today, to create a world of wonder, awe, possibility, love, let go of the things that are keeping you stuck in holding on to everything that doesn’t matter. When all that really matters is left, love and joy will fill your heart and create beauty throughout your world today.

I am wearing a comfort sweater today. I’m holding on to it. It matters.

Fearless in Fear’s Presence

Fear is a stealthy stalker. Invisible. Scentless. Soundless. It slips in and takes up residence without our even realizing it’s arrived.

All of which makes it hard to realize it is present and holding us in its thrall. And then, without warning, we catch ourselves holding back from stepping out, turning away from an open door, hiding in the shadows of some dark and heavy thought. If we’re lucky, if we’re awake enough, we become aware of its presence and its sinuous tendrils clinging to our every thought and action.

It is then we have a choice.

To live in fear or Love.

.I started this Dare Boldly: No matter your age series because I did not want to fear ageing. I wanted to dance in wondrous gratitude with all I am and all I am becoming as I continue this ageing and ageless journey called, my life.

Yet, until I started focussing my thoughts on daring to age boldly, I hadn’t realized how much fear was also present.

What a wonderful gift. To become aware of fear inviting me to shy away from being all I am in this moment right now. To become conscious of how fear was keeping me from true and full self-expression.

It isn’t that I’m afraid of ageing. Intellectually, I know ageing happens. It is a natural outcome of living.

The thing I’m afraid of is the consequences of ageing. The tangible, visible, hard-to-ignore evidence that time is having its way with my body

And here’s the thing, in writing and talking about it I am learning to embrace my fear, to welcome it in as a co-conspirator of my awakening to the wonderful gifts of ageing. They are all wrapped up in the beauty of each breath, each heartbeat, each step I take every day. They arrive n the beauty of each day’s awakening. The gentle slumber of each night’s rest and all the in-between moments where I am free to express myself, move, and be myself in a world of beauty, wonder and awe.

The more I meditate on and write about fear of ageing, the more I recognize it as a companion on this path.

The more I also realize, fear doesn’t have to lead the way.

That’s my heart’s job.

Like the pistons converting fuel into energy and pumping it through the engine of a car, my heart converts all I experience, all I know, all I am into the energy that fuels my body, my life.

My heart knows the way. It has the beat. It is the rhythm of my life. And, when I get out of its way, fear loses its grip and fades into the background chorus of my heart joyfully beating its song of love.

In that place, I become fearless in fear’s presence.

Aging is a Daily Practice

Resilience is like a muscle. We have to feed it, care for it, and nurture it to build it up and keep it strong.

When we add stressors, when we don’t pay attention to our body’s needs, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, our resilience wanes.

Aging happens to the whole body. Every day, aging is changing us. From the moment we’re born to our last breath.

When we pay attention to our personal aging process, when we invest in ourselves, no matter our age, we create better for ourselves, and our world.

Now, I would love to say that I have done everything right for my body. But that would simply not be true. Fact is, I’m carrying extra weight. I eat unhealthy foods. I sometimes drink too much wine. I douse my mind in garbage TV. I don’t always get enough sleep. And I don’t always get enough exercise.

So… knowing what I know now about aging and how strengthening my resilience is a vital component of aging well, what am I willing to change? What am I willing to do differently?

Am I willing to, as the saying goes, put my money where my mouth is?

Perhaps that is the point of this exploration – for me. To awaken me to my responsibility and accountability in taking better care of this priceless vehicle I walk around within, breathe with, think with, move with, create with, love with, be with, every single day, every single minute of my life.

There’s something… heady… about that thought on this beautiful first morning of autumn. As we enter the season of letting go in preparation of winter’s arrival, I sit at the cusp of my own season of release.

It’s not ‘release’ as in the form of youth or ‘the things I used to do’ or even ‘life as I know it’, it is a release of the things I’m doing that do not nurture, care for, nor support me on this life journey that is so precious to me.

It’s the release of the thought that what I do to my body doesn’t matter.

It matters. Big time.

As the golden autumn leaves that hang suspended from the poplars outside my window become bathed in the warm golden glow of morning light breaking through the dark, perhaps this moment is my moment of awakening too.

Perhaps these past 6 weeks of writing and thinking and talking about and sharing in this ageless story of life have brought me to my own, personal autumnal moment.

And I smile.

I like the feeling of that. I like how that thought settles into my body with a warm and welcoming hello.

Am I willing on this autumn morning to walk fearlessly into the knowing that in this, my one life to live, I have the power to live every day my personal practices of ageless aging?

Am I willing to embrace the truth? have the power to be the change I want to be in my own life.

Lean Into The Questions

Years ago, I heard a story about an eagle who was raised in a chicken coop and because of his environment and companions, believed he was a chicken. One day, another eagle high above saw him in the coop and couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t eating all the chickens. They were perfect prey.

The eagle swooped down from above, confronted the eagle who thought he was a chicken and asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

The eagle who thought he was a chicken thought the eagle was there to eat him and was scared. Eventually, the eagle who could fly said, “Look, come fly with me once and I’ll prove to you that you’re an eagle, not a chicken.”

The eagle who thought he was a chicken agreed, but first, he had to go say good-bye to his chicken coop companions… just in case.

The eagle who thought he was a chicken ran into the chicken coop, slammed the door and laughed. “I’m the smartest chicken in this coop,” he said to his companions who were all cowering in the dark afraid the eagle outside was going to eat them. “I just fooled that eagle!”

And the eagle who thought he was a chicken never learned how to fly.

It’s possible that the eagle who thought he was a chicken was also displaying great resilience. He figured a creative solution out of his dilemma and survived to fight another day — and that’s the challenge, an eagle who doesn’t know he can fly turns from predator to prey. Rather than soaring, his resilience his expended fighting for survival every day.

We humans are hard-wired to fight for our survival every day. Survival is in our DNA..But, when we don’t know, or never had the opportunity to explore, our possibilities, we spend our time in survival mode. We don’t have the energy, nor the awareness that beyond survival there is mystery and awe, wonder and magic, beauty and possibility.

Life is the game of survival.

My friend Diana equates it to swimming in a lake. You know how to swim. Your’re strong. You can easily swim an hour. Maybe two. But three… four… five… Add in boats. Water-skiers. Flotsam. Deadwood. All the resilience in the world isn’t going to keep you from tiring out. Your very survival is at risk.

Which says to me, resilience isn’t about strength. It’s about our ability to overcome obstacles, endure hardship and make it through to the other side.

Challenge is, in life, there is no other side to dying. It is our only way out.

As we age, it is perhaps the fact it is our only way out that can make living so much more precious, beautiful and awe-inspiring.

Life can be hard. But… with age, the beauty can outweigh the hardships. The inherent magnificence of our human nature can shine so much brighter than the darkness we’ve come through, the hardships we’ve endured, the obstacles we’ve climbed over, when our focus is not on surviving but living.

As we age, the realization ‘the end’ is not just some ethereal thought shimmering far away on a distant horizon, but rather, a near and closing-in companion. In that awareness, the sweet juicy preciousness of life can fill our senses with the realization, fighting to survive is a one way street to nowhere but the end of life. Why not let it go and start swimming with abandon in the sea of life, filling each day with joy, harmony, serenity and love?

Thank you everyone for being my companions on this journey. I am fascinated by where it’s taking me. Curious about the unexplored mysteries it holds. Enchanted by each gem I am discovering as I let go of believing I ‘know what it’s all about’ and instead, lean into the questions blowing in on the winds of change all around me, inviting me to flow with them into the sea of my life abounding with joy, harmony, serenity and love.

Namaste

I Can’t Believe…. Believe it. It Happened.

Some time ago, I met a woman who was struggling to end a relationship that was causing her emotional harm. “I can’t leave him,” she said. “He needs me.”

How does he need you? I asked.

She paused. “How?” She seemed surprised by the question. Flummoxed. Her eyes shifted to the left, the right, up, down. She fluttered her hands in the air around her face. “I don’t know… he just does.”

And what do you need? I probed.

She sighed. Shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know… for him to love me like he did when we first met?”

What else do you need? I asked again.

She held her breath as she thought about the question. “I…. I need him to change.”

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being ‘he absolutely will’, how likely is that to happen? I asked.

She smiled sadly. “Zero”.

And is that what you want for the rest of your life and for your children? To be with a man who cannot change the things he’s doing that hurt you and, also them?

Recently, I met that woman again. Once she faced the truth that to create change in her life she had to change what she was doing, she left him. It wasn’t easy, she said, but she did it with the support of caring people in her life.

Once out of the darkness, she went back to school. Got a certificate in HR and was working hard to create a life of stability, joy and love for herself and her two children.

“I can’t believe I stayed with that creep for so long,” she said after telling me all the amazing things that were happening in her life.

Believe it. You did. I said. But, in believing it, don’t compare it by measuring the length of time. You stayed as long as you stayed, It was neither long nor short. It is simply the length of time you stayed. A moment in your life. Not your whole life.

That woman reminded me of me.

When I first got out of a relationship from hell, ‘couldn’t believe’ was one of the phrases I had to eradicate from my vocabulary.

Saying, “I couldn’t believe” was the gateway to the disbelief of something that had happened that I had participated in. It disempowered me. To build my resiliency, I had to acknowledge it, learn from it, grow through that learning and triumph over it, not ignore it or my role in it.

Saying, I can’t believe’ blocked all access to healing and resiliency.

For that woman, resiliency didn’t help her survive that relationship. Her inherent desire to LIVE did that. Where resiliency became her constant companion was in doing the things she needed to do to build her life after the abuse. With each step into living free of abuse, her resiliency strengthened her resolve to keep creating her own happiness, her own dreams, her own path.

We all come upon sticky moments in our lives, sometimes many sticky moments. Some big. Some small. Some short. Some long. Size and time are not the issue. Believing it happened is.

When we stop saying, “I can’t believe….” we open the door to possibility. We allow our resiliency to step in and strengthen our ability and resolve to grow, prosper, thrive and triumph over adversity.

In that resolve, we grow stronger.

Namaste.

Gratitude is a light within

Episode 25

It has been smoky here all week.

The smoke, while bothersome, doesn’t cause me discomfort. It hasn’t affected my walks with Beaumont nor my enjoyment of being in nature.

For my beloved, it’s a different story.

It’s been a long week. Confined almost continuously to the house, he still coughts and struggles at times to breathe. And, because he’s in a clinical trial, he can’t take any oxygen or drugs, other than his normal inhalers, to help alleviate the angst.

I am grateful for this clinical trial which may result in relief of his symptoms.

But, as medical science searches for ways to alleviate asthma and lung disease, it is uncomfortable for him, and I know, at times, terrifying. To struggle for breath. To feel always as if you are gasping for air.

I am grateful this week that I had chosen to write about gratitude. Grateful that in keeping my focus on its many graces, I have been constantly reminded to breathe into its healing powers.

It doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I do. I worry. I fixate on wanting him to get up and get moving. On thinking there’s something else, he, or I, can do to make it better.

I get out of sorts. Short tempered.

And then, I come back to gratitude.

I am grateful for this practice. Grateful to have this safe space to return to centre, to find, as Val Boyko calls it, my middle ground.

I can’t ‘fix’ any of this. I can’t, as he asked me the other day, get him a new lung. What I can do is get him a cup of tea. Bake him my chocolate chip cookies he loves so much, even though I worry about their impact on my hips. He was once a professional football player. Weight is still not is issue, other than the need to put it on! Other than when I was pregnant, I have never had a problem putting on weight! 🙂

And, I can change how I respond when I’m feeling frustrated and worried.

I can stop thinking about how ‘this isn’t what I expected’ and turn instead into the love that brought us together, the shared joy in each other’s company.

I can stop wallowing in self-pity and awaken my desire to be playful, joyful, and heartful in our relationship.

I can stop being driven by fear and allow courage to draw me back into Love, peace, and joy.

Rather than thinking about the things we can’t do together, I can lean into the things we enjoy doing together. Play games. Read to each other out loud. Watch a movie together. Cook a meal together. And so much more.

I am grateful that we get to be together. That we get to share each day, together. And, that in being together, we get to support one another in living life to the fullest of our abilities and capacities, always giving the best of what we have to one another. Always keeping our vows in the forefront of our life together.

I am grateful that in writing about gratitude, I am reminded to put my own words into action.

I am grateful.

Namaste

Bird in Nest. Do Not Disturb.

The view from our bedroom window

She sits, still and enigmatic as a full moon glowing in the dark. Patiently, she waits for nature to take its course.

I watch, constantly peeking through the slats in the blinds at the kitchen window I never drew, until she arrived. Impatient for nature to take its course.

Her nest is an architectural marvel. Securely fashioned into the wire rungs of the spring wreath I hung on our front door to welcome guests.

She is the most welcome guest. As are her two blue eggs nestled into the nest she crafted of moss and leaves and twigs and forest debris.

The front door is off limits now. Guests are invited to enter through our garage door, into the laundry room, down the hall to the main room. (I really must get that basket of clean laundry put away!)

I’ve hung a sign on a rope strung from the handle of a large lantern that sits on the far corner of our front doorsteps to the planter that sits at the edge of the walkway beside the stairs leading down to the backyard deck. “Bird in Nest. Do not disturb. Thank you!”

I wonder if she realizes the sacrifices we’ve made to give her peace. I smile at my use of the word ‘sacrifice’. It is anything but. She feels like a gift from Mother Nature. As I said to my beloved last night after my final peek through the blinds to ensure she was settled in for the night, “I’m so glad she thinks our home is safe for her to nest here.”

It is the third year we’ve had a robin use our home as its nesting site. The other two were tucked into the rafters above the bottom deck. They were easy prey for the magpies and crows who frequent the neighbourhood too.

This nest is easy for me to help protect from predators. I watch incessantly for marauding crows or magpies on the hunt. The minute I see one, or hear the squawking of the robin and her mate, I race to the window, adding my voice to the cacophony.

I think the crows and magpies are terrified of this woman on the other side of the glass who flaps her arms and screams loudly, ‘Get Away!’.

I hope so.

There’s lots for them to eat in the band of forest that separates our yard from the river behind our home. They don’t need to poach eggs from our guest.

I do not know if there are more than the two eggs in her nest now. I only risked the one photo as I didn’t want to disturb her nest building. As robins lay one egg a day, it’s possible she laid a couple more eggs before she settled in to incubate her hatch.

I don’t know how much longer she will be resident at our front door. It could be three or four weeks. What I do know is that C.C. and I are agreed. The door is hers until she and her fledglings take flight.

It’s nature’s way of reminding us to slow down. Be still. Be patient. And above all, be caring of all creatures, big and small.

In the meantime, I shall do my best to not keep peeking through the slats of the blinds I’ve drawn to give her privacy and to help her feel safe.

See Mother Nature. I am learning from you how to be present in this moment right now, connected to all of your creation around me.

Namaste

Saturday Share

I like to begin my morning with meditation.

It’s good for my world, my body – heart. soul. mind. belly. All of it and all of me and all of the world around me.

Yet, for the past while, I have been scattered in my approach to doing that which I know is good for me. Resistant to sitting in the quiet letting the disquiet within me become seen, known, heard, visible so that in its presence I could become present to it all, and so much more.

This morning, while responding to comments on yesterday’s blog, the lovely JoAnne, of JoAnne’s Rambling blog commented that she is so blessed.

Which inspired me to share the link to the wondrous Kerry Parson‘s collaboration with singer/songwriter, Amy Wood, We Are So Blessed, which brought me back to my meditation mat.

Sitting in the quiet, listening to the soft melodious notes of Amy’s piano, Kerry’s voice, Amy’s song I felt it – my heart’s desire to find its beat amidst the chaos, to find its melody amidst the discomfort, to find its rhythm amidst the unrest.

And, because I like to share things that create beauty, wonder, joy and awe in my life with all of you, I share it here again.