Be at peace with yourself | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 34


How often do you do something that ends up a mess only to create a bigger mess by calling yourself out?

C’mon. Be honest.

How often do you drop something, hear it break and then think, or say out loud, “You are so clumsy!” “Can’t you do anything right?” or words to that effect?

Stop it.

Dropping it was not your intention. It was an accident.

Treat yourself with respect. Kindness. Consideration.

To borrow from the teachings of Benjamin Zander, conductor, life-muser and philosopher, when you do something that’s a little incomprehensible to you about why or how you could have done it or it could have happened, throw both hands up in the air above you head and exclaim (with a big smile on your face) “Aren’t I fascinating!”

And then, carry on.

Clean up the mess. Make apologies and amends as appropriate. Definitely learn from a mistake if there’s a lesson to be learned, (for me it’s often to pay attention. Too often, I’m thinking of something else as I’m doing something else totally unrelated) and then, continue on. No matter the situation, don’t get stuck in self-condemnation.

Keep growing through the circumstances, don’t let the circumstances define you.


And bonus today!  This is one of my favourite TEDTalks.  Benjamin Zander: The Transformative Power of Classical Music. (or as I like to call it — The Transformative Power of not taking yourself too seriously.)

The Plan: What a Ficus Benjamina taught me.

FullSizeRender (71)My office window at home faces north onto the avenue in front of our house.

My desk is tucked into the bay window overlooking the front yard and beside it sits a large Ficus Benjamina. It is full and bushy and beginning to take over the right side of my desk area as it reaches out from the corner towards the light that filters in between the venetian blinds.

It has survived two moves, one of them in winter, and has continued to lay claim to life since I first brought it home over ten years ago. Which means, in spite of being mostly ignored by me, it is determined to live.

Sometimes, that’s how we treat our bodies. In spite of our best efforts to ignore them, they lay claim to life, seeking light in even the most inhospitable of environments.

I made a commitment to Mr. Ficus this morning. I agreed to feed him, nurture him and to mist him (which according to the literature is best done with boiled water that has been allowed to cool to room temperature).  He deserves my loving attention.

So do me, myself and my body.

Deserve my loving attention.

And that can be challenging some days. To give myself loving attention.

Sometimes, the best I can do is stay out of my own way. Unfortunately, staying out of my own way has become a practice of ignoring what my body needs most. Regular exercise. Healthy food. Solid sleep. Care and attention.

So, today, in this public space, I commit to stop getting out of my own way and to get back on my way to well-being.

To do it, I have decided to create The Plan.

The Plan is my map to staying focused, on target and on the path of well-being.

The Plan is composed of six steps:

  1. Acknowledge the problem/issue/situation.  Be honest. Caring. Non-judgemental of myself.
  2. Define what I ‘want to’ change/shift/create.  Be realistic. Practical. Caring.
  3. Identify what is keeping me in the current problem/issue/situation.  Be honest. Caring. Non-judgemental of myself.
  4. Make a commitment to what I will change/shift/create.  Be realistic. Practical. Caring.
  5. Describe what ‘my world’ will look like when I shift one thing, two things, three things. Be positive. Fearless. Caring.
    1. Describe what ‘my world’ will look like in 6 months if I do nothing today. 1 year. 2 years. 5 years.
    2. Describe what ‘my world will look like if I do one thing, two things, three things… in 1 year. 2 years. 5 years.
  6. Breathe deeply and begin. Do the things I’ve committed to do. Stay true to my path. Be loving. Be caring. Be kind to myself. Be committed to me.

So. Here goes.

The Plan.

  1. Acknowledge the problem/issue/situation.

Over the past many months, I have allowed myself to become swallowed up in the frenzy of being too busy, of telling myself I’m too tired to exercise, eat right. I have allowed myself to drink more wine then I’m accustomed to, or is healthy for me, eat food that is convenient, not always balanced or nourishing. I have hunkered down into inertia and have become rooted in inactivity.

2.  Define what I ‘want to’ change/shift/create.

I want to shift my attitude of ‘why bother’ to ‘I care’. About me. My well-being. My health.

3.  Identify what is keeping me in the current problem/issue/situation.

This is a toughie. Okay — that’s a judgement. This is what it is.

First, on a spiritual level — It is deeper than just ignoring myself. It’s embedded in fear — of aging, of giving up, of giving into not caring about this vehicle that is the container of my being present in this world. It’s enshrined in some deep place of self-denial. It’s not about self-loathing. I know I love myself — but there is some place of denial within me that says – you do not matter. You do not deserve your loving attention. It isn’t a ‘real’ place, but it is a place where vestiges of the past still hold reign over my common sense, my lovingness towards me, and my knowing of what I deserve.

On a physical/mental level — It’s about feeding myself too many messages of why bother? You’re too tired. You’ve got enough on your plate. What’s the point? I’ll begin tomorrow. It’s dark out. Ah yes. This place is all about making excuses so I don’t have to turn up for me.

4.  Make a commitment to what I will change/shift/create.

First thing to shift — my negative self-talk. Time to feed myself thoughts of what is possible, what I deserve, what I want — is important. That I am worth fighting for. I am deserving of feeling good about all of me — not just my place of giving back to community, or doing things to make a difference in the world — but my place of deserving to look good and more importantly, feel good, while I’m being me!

Second thing to shift — taking care of me. I will begin with the little things. It struck me at dinner the other night when T. commented that he’d never been that busy at work he didn’t feel like he had time to think — I often do. Feel like I’m so busy I don’t have time to think. Doing without consideration of what the doing is all about is not healthy, productive nor constructive.

See, it all begins with my thinking. Change my thoughts and change my life.

5.  Describe what ‘my world’ will look like when I shift one thing, two things, three things.

In 6 months if I do nothing, I will feel worse. Same as in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years.

If I begin with getting conscious of my thoughts, shift my thinking from ‘lack of time’ to abundance of opportunity to take care of me, in 6 months, I will have put myself first. In a year, I will feel healthier, more content, more balanced, more productive and directed in my activities. I will feel fulfilled. 2 years. 5 years. I will be on fire. I will be energized. Satisfied and passionate about living my best, not just settling for doing my best.

6.  Breathe deeply and begin. Do the things I’ve committed to do. Stay true to my path.

I begin. Right now.

And what that means is I will get more detailed in The Plan. Like adding in a commitment to regularly report back here on my commitment to staying focused on nurturing my needs, my desire to be whole-heartedly present; body, mind and spirit.

Thanks Mr. Ficus. It’s a beginning where I see, there is light peeking through the darkness. (And I promise. I will remember to open the blinds today so you can see out and let the sunshine in.)





Breathe and Be. It makes a difference.

Ellie and I went for a walk along the escarpment over looking the river last night. The sun was warm and buttery. The wind whispered through the leaves of the poplars and the prairie grasses rustled on either side of the path. Below us, the river wend its way along the valley bottom, a shimmering ribbon of silvery waters glistening in the early evening sun.

I was at peace. Ellie was in her element. Tail wagging, a smile pasted on her face, she pranced in front of me, exploring every nook and cranny, nosing into gopher holes, eating grass, sniffing flowers.

Taking time for me is an important element in my self-care. It keeps me balanced. Centered. Energized. Me time makes a difference.

And yet, it’s easy to talk myself out of taking ‘me time’. After a day at work, talking to people, putting out fires and lighting others, sometimes I come home and simply want to crash. To ‘veg out’ and do nothing.

But there is a difference between vegging out and doing nothing versus being at peace with where I’m at without needing to distract myself with the nothingness of mindless TV. Sitting in front of the TV, watching movies or dramas or inane comedies where violence or suggestive humour or sheer stupidity mark each flickering frame is not, for me, the art of doing nothing. It is more about feeding myself nothing nourishing, nurturing or sustaining.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love watching mindless TV. And that’s the problem. I actually do get into it — and in that state, I find myself more tired, feeling less energized and alive. I find myself wanting to do less, and that includes wanting to take ‘me time’ that is sustaining and nourishing.

Having the energy and awareness to make a difference requires self-care.

Just for today, make a commitment to take mini ‘me breaks’. Throughout the day, take five minute breaks to simply be present within yourself. Shut your office door, or put your headset on and listen to Gregorian Chants on your computer. Go sit in the stairwell, or by the pond in the lobby of your building. Sit and be. Sit and breathe. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes, feel your body relax, feel the air fill your lungs and then feel it flow outward. In and out. Be in the moment. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Breathe and Be. Breathe and be.

Do it at least five times throughout the day.

And when you get home tonight, do something different. If normally you would turn on the TV and watch whatever is on, or sit at your computer and play Spider Solitaire (one of my vices) — DON’T.

Instead, breathe and be.

Go for a walk. Sit in a park. Sit by the river. Don’t worry about the weather. If it’s raining, dress for it. Just get out and breathe and be.

And then, ask yourself, what’s different when I let myself surrender and fall into the moment right now? What’s different when I remember to breathe and be?