Stop. Breathe Deep. Sink.

I get stuck sometimes in that space between, “I want to… and I can’t be bothered to…”

It’s as if the cosmos are misaligned and I wander in the netherland between planets orbiting in balanced harmony and bouncing around the skies in seemingly discordant chaos.

So many ideas swirling in my head. So many thoughts jumbling around in my brain I forget to Stop. Breathe deep. Sink into my pelvic bowl to feel the wonder and harmony of being embodied in the present moment.

My eldest daughter suggests my flittering-like butterfly thoughts are a symptom of ADHD.

Phillip Shepherd of The Embodied Present Process suggests it’s our western cultural bias to being headstrong versus whole-body connected within nature.

I think it’s a life-long habit of immersing myself in a project and then, coming up to breathe and allowing myself to simply be carried along by life’s undulating waves until I realized I’m untethered from gravity’s calming grace and remember to Stop. Breathe Deep. Sink.

Unfortunately, sometimes my brain-wanderings are more about diversion than anything else. In those times, I allow my brain, okay if I’m being totally honest and vulnerable here, my critter-mind, to have control. Abdicating all personal responsibility for how I spend my leisure/creative time, I flit between reading a book to concocting something in the kitchen or dousing myself in trash Netflix watching just to while away the time.

There is a Latin phrase, “Plenus venter non studet libenter” which, translated, means, A full belly does not study.

I think the same is true for a contented life, as in, A contented life does not want. Which by the way, translated into Latin reads, “Contentus vita non vis”. (Thank you Dr. Google)

I know! It carries so much more veritas et gravitas in Latin!

Regardless of which language I say it in, for me, contentment can be the enemy of creativity.

Now, that is something I wasn’t actually aware of until this morning when I started writing about this creatively slumped state in which I find myself picking at different project ideas and not settling on one.

Time to Stop. Breathe deep. Sink.

Time to listen deeply to my deep inner knowing, allowing the words written in the Bhagvad Gita, “Curving back within myself, I create again and again,” to stir my belly-conscious awareness of my creative essence’s drive to be present within nature’s constant presence.

Time to release my creative urgings, without placing limits, expectations or conditions on my expressions.

And oh gosh! It’s time to turn off Netflix and Prime and Acorn and tune into myself and allow the muse to draw me deep within.

And so, I Stop. Breathe Deep. Sink – Curve back and begin again.

How to reach the stars.

On Friday’s post, a commenter mentioned how wanting something too much affects their balance.

I share that feeling.

Except for me, it isn’t so much about balance as it is about fear. I have long known that I have difficulties with ‘trust’. The biggest piece being ‘trusting the universe’ It’s as if within me is this critter voice hissing “don’t tell the world your dreams or even put them down on paper and whatever you do, don’t wish for something too hard! The universe will do its best to push you down if you do.”

I didn’t say it was rational. It just is what it is.

The trick is to be conscious of its irrational and non-supportive nature. In my awareness, I breathe through the fear of being pummeled by the universe so that I am free to do what needs to be done to create a world of beauty, joy, love and laughter all around me.

Again, not trusting the universe ain’t rational. It is a learned behavioral response/thought that does not serve me well. Its genesis is buried deep in my psyche, formed when I was a child trying to cope with a world I did not understand, and a religious upbringing that had me fearing ‘god’ as an angry deity seeking to smoke and destroy those who disobeyed him.

Which is why I write about it.

In writing about it I get to see it, acknowledge it and laugh about it.

I mean, seriously? I think I’m so important to the universe that my wanting to reach the stars of my own dreams would cause it to direct the furies against me?

LOL — I am not that important nor powerful for the universe to change course.

What is important is that I play the leading character at centre stage of my own life – something I’ve struggled with for eons!

This is why it’s so important for me to care deeply about my limiting beliefs that have the capacity to keep me playing small in my own life.

None of us can afford to play small in our own lives.

The universe is going to keep doing what it does to keep the planets in orbit. We each need to do whatever we can to keep our lives growing and evolving and becoming our own special version of life on planet earth.

We need to play as large and loud and joyously as we can. We need to reach for the stars within our own dreams. Topple mountains standing in our way and soar above petty fears seeking to keep us playing safe in mediocrity.

To reach the stars of our own dreams, we must let go of the fears that keep us stuck in believing we don’t deserve to shine bright.

To let go of the fears, we must give ourselves permission to acknowledge our fears and breathe through them.

To breathe through our fears, we must be willing to both laugh at ourselves and be our own biggest cheerleaders.

And, to shine bright, we must never stop believing in ourselves, our dreams, and our right to reach for the stars, no matter our age!

Never stop growing and exploring

Episode 36 – Dare Boldly: No matter your age

On Sunday night, we were 13 gathered around our dining room table for a late Thanksgiving dinner.

I’d spent three days immersed in prep. From creating the menu, painting name cards for everyone, and baking two different cakes, setting the table, and preparing all the fixings. I had fun!

For me, the kitchen is one of my happy zones. People often laugh at me when I tell them this is the first time I’ve made the dish I’ve made that I am setting before them.

“Isn’t that risky? What if it fails?” is often the response.

Fact is, I love experimenting with new recipes (I quickly grow bored of making the same thing again and again) and… most recipes can be saved before hitting the failure button.

This weekend, both cakes I made, along with two different veggie dishes, were new to me. All four came out well — though I did have to rescue the cauliflower from blah to ensure it pleased the palate of all our guests.

In my book, stretching out of my comfort zone, experimenting with new ideas, learning new things is critical to living a rich and full life, no matter my age.

For example, recently, I started learning new video editing software. Ouch! It’s professional software versus the semi-professional one I am accustomed to. My mind is boggled with all the options, processes, and opportunities to create film magic. It is a slow, arduous process of reading directions, following along in videos, figuring out what works and doesn’t work, making mistakes, losing my edits, and starting all over again.

It’s frustrating and invigorating.

It takes me an inordinately long time to do something I could easily do on my old software in a quarter of the time.

But, every moment I spend learning the new software is time spent stretching my brain, my thinking capacities, my memory muscles, my ability to learn and grow.

And all of that is healthy for me.

I think it’s one of the big takeaways for me in having spent the past month writing and thinking about aging well. We can’t stop doing, thinking, creating, being all of who we are.

We all have many gifts, talents, and unexplored creative terrain. The key to getting older without getting old is to always keep pushing into the unknown territory of our limitless capacity to continually be creating better with everything we think, do, and say as we become ‘the more’ of who we are becoming.

Namaste

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Why Change Now?

I think one of the most challenging aspects of aging is the growing awareness that our one last breath is drawing nearer with every breath we take. By perforce, that awareness embodies the realization that time is fleeting. It passes quickly – and there’s less time to do the things we want to accomplish, to achieve our dreams, to heal relationships, to change directions – to step joyfully into whatever we see before us.

That pressure of time passing can act as both a deterrent or motivator to making change happen in our lives.

Sometimes, we can fall into the habit of acting out on our belief there’s no point in doing anything. We don’t have enough time to make change happen and we’re too old anyway. Our acting out looks like inaction — but the act of thinking about doing nothing is action in and of itself.

When we choose to believe every breath matters and every breath is an opening into wonder and awe, the possibility of our taking active, committed and passionate steps towards whatever it is we want to achieve or do overrides time’s insistence we keep watch of each passing minute, without doing anything else.

I like to multi-task. Keeping watch of time motivates me to keep doing the things I want to do to add richness, variety, excitement, joy, mystery, wonder and awe into my life.

I’ve lived most of my life like that. Why change now?

When I taught skiing, I would tell students that the whole process began with their feet. They needed to ground into their feet, feel the soles of their feet inside their socks and their boots and then move up through their body — always remembering to be grounded into their feet.

When moving, the objective was to not watch the tips of their skis but to be scanning the route – 3 turns ahead (particularly when going fast through the moguls)

The reason for scanning ahead was to be constantly assessing the terrain, where to turn, where to adapt, where to make adjustments for changes in snow, steepness etc.

If you want to look backwards, I’d tell them. Learn to ski backwards. 🙂

What made me think of this yesterday as I was walking with Beau along the river was the fact I was navigating the rocky shore and noticed my eyes were on my feet and the very next rock in front of me. Remember my ‘3 turn’ teaching, I lifted my eyes a bit and scanned the rocks in front of me, constantly looking out for the best path through.

It worked. Rather than being slow, cumbersome and uber cautious, I moved wiht more agility and grace across the rocks.

Like life.

If we spend too much time looking behind, we get stuck in yesterday.

If we forget to scan the terrain around us, we lose our agility because we’re so focussed on each step we miss how each step is connected to the next and risk being taken by surprise by obstacles along our way.

If we look too far into tuture, we don’t see the beauty along our way.

The older we get, the closer the end of our story draws near. The secret to living each moment fully is to not focus on the ending but the beauty, love, wonder and awe along our way, keeping ourselves grounded always in the beautiful friendships, connections, memories we’ve made on our journey.

That’s the beauty of memories. We carry them with us. And those that do not add joy, harmony, love and peace to our lives, we are free to let go and move on free of their burden.

Fear or Courage – Which will you choose?

A question often asked in many personal development courses is, “What is your greatest fear?”

I don’t know what mine is. I can imagine it. Like I fear losing my loved ones. I fear losing the use of my limbs, not being able to type, not being able to read.”

For a few tenuous moments this morning, that particular fear of not being able to read felt a little more real than usual. I woke up, put on my glasses, picked up my phone to do WORDLE and it all look a tad blurry.

What?

And then I checked my glasses.

They were a very old pair. Far to weak for my eyes today.

Ahhhh….. Whew! No wonder everything was blurry.

My eyesight was quickly remedied and I carried on.

But it got me thinking about how fear limits my experience of what is real and true and beautiful in my life in this moment. Fear traps me in darkness.

So, how do we avoid letting fear drive us into our limiting beliefs that end up liminting our full joyful appreciation of life?

We let courage draw us out and into living on the wild side, living as if time is not ‘the enemy’ but our co-conspirator in creating the life we dream of, the life we want, the life we deserve.

That’s my plan.

To be drawn by courage into complete, wild self-expression of my true self coming alive, becoming all of me with every breath I take.

What about you? Do you have a plan? Do you have a clear intention of how you want to, will, age?

I hope so.

And I hope you share your thoughts. You inspire me!

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.

White After Labour Day! Oh No! You Wouldn’t!

It is past Labour Day and I am wearing white pants.

Oh be still my nervous heart. I mean… Really? What will the Fashion Police say?

I am laughing as I type that — but on the other hand, I’m not really because I truly did have thoughts of ‘dare I?’ It is past Labour Day… as I was getting dressed.

But, our summer is lingering. It is anticipated to be 29Celsius today and that’s warm. So why not?

Defying conventions creates stress within me. No matter how much I tell myself it ‘shouldn’t’ or it’s silly to worry about it, the conditionning is there.

The opportunity is to work with what is and do the things I know will move me through it with grace.

There was one thing I could have done I decided not to do — and that thing was, wear a different outfit.

Recognizing that this is a ‘thing’ for me, I have chosen to use it as an opportunity to push myself out of a discomfort/stress point I am carrying. I have chosen to allow myself to grow through it.

Now, this is not a big stressor, but it could be if I chose to let it rule me.

To ensure it doesn’t, I am writing about it, sharing it here with you — and yes, I know it’s not a big deal and I know not paying attention to arbitrary (and imaginary) fashion police is a good course of action, but the notion of not wearing white after Labour Day is deeply engrained somewhere in my psyche.

I didn’t choose it. I wasn’t even consciously aware of it being implanted. But, there it is.

Today, I get to choose to step into it, embrace it and allow myself to grow through it so that its impact is minimized and I am strengthened.

And in doing that, I have the opportunity to release the stress it creates when I do something that defies conventions I’ve adapted to without even being conscious I’m doing so.

In my video today, I share some of my practices to release stress in my life.

I hope you share some of yours.

And here’s to dressing to please yourself. Here’s to being who you are, exactly how you are without giving space for others to tell you how you should be!

Namaste

A good night’s rest

Episode 32

In the homeless serving sector where I used to work, people would often ask things like, “Why can’t they just take a shower, cut their hair, put on some decent clothes and get a job?’ Or, “Why do they keep making such bad decisions?” (The ‘they’ being individuals experiencing homelessness.)

My answer was generally focused on helping ‘the housed’ understand the challenges and stressors of homelessness.

Making a ‘good’ decision when constantly worrying about where you will sleep that night, or whether or not you’ll survive the night, or even when you’ll get your next fix when the fix is the only thing that eases the pain and fear and trauma of your life, is relative.

A good decision when housed is ensuring you’ve got money in the bank to pay your rent or mortgage, put food on the table, fill your car, what movie to go see, what pair of shoes to wear, what to order at a restaurant.

Decisions when ‘housed’ are based on the choices we have to create change.

In homelessness, the lack of choice impacts every decision.

A good decision in homelessness could be deciding to eat pork, which is contrary to your religious beliefs, because it’s the only thing the shelter kitchen is serving that night and you are hungry.

A good decision in homelessness could be deciding to sleep in the shelter when it’s -30C outside even though the last time you did someone stole your backpack which had the photos of your family in it, the family you haven’t seen in six years but whose photos you couldn’t stop looking at.

A good decision could be deciding to go to the supervised consumption site because you truly do not want to die. Being somewhere safe when you put the needle into your arm could be the difference between life and death. And you choosse life.

And, a good decision could be deciding to get in that pick-up truck with the guy who says he’s got a job for the day at 10 bucks an hour. You know it’s not fair pay but you’re trying to save up to buy a safety helmet, work gloves, and steel-toed boots to get one on the big job sites that pay $25+ an hour.

By the very nature of having to choose between one course of action or the other, every time we make a decision, we encounter stress.

For each of us that level of stress is determined by our environment, circumstances, age, experiences, nature and ability to adapt depending upon the outcome of our decision.

Yesterday, because of my interrupted sleep the night before, I was really, really tired all day. I had a project I needed to get done for work and, even though I don’t work Mondays, I chose to do it yesterday rather than leaving it for today. That decision meant when I went to bed last night I wasn’t stressed about ‘the deadline’ today and had a really good night’s sleep.

This morning I feel rested and refreshed. Eager to meet the day and create something meaningful.

I’ve learned, with age, that putting off until tomorrow something I can do today only adds to my stress load. And, when I’m stressed, I do not sleep well.

Sleep isn’t just important. It’s vital.

In the homeless-serving sector, it’s often said that homelessness ages an individual 10 years. Life expectancy is shorter – not because of the dangers of homelessness. It’s shorter because of the stress load people carry and its impact on their physiological well-being. It’s also shorter because of poor diet, poor health care, uncertainty, stress and so many other factors including… a lack of good sleep.

Want to live well, healthy and vibrant? Get a good night’s rest.