This concept is such a driving force in my life but it can seem a lofty goal and I want to bring it back down to Earth.
I have a note under my pillow this morning that asks, “Why am I here?”. My Mum always said if you’ve got a question that you want guidance on, you can write it on a piece of paper and put it under your pillow and literally sleep on it. The idea being that you wake in the morning with greater clarity on whatever that is.
I’ve just finished reading Adam Braun’s The Promise of a Pencil and in the closing pages, he talks about paying attention to (feeling into) the ‘Why’ – “Why am I here?”. Adam started the organisation Pencils of Promise when he was 24 which has gone on to build over 200 schools for children in poverty stricken areas. His seems a big, world-changing ‘Why’ but it started as a desire to build just 1 school in Laos that he could dedicate to his grandma, a holocaust survivor. I think our ‘Why’ can be simple, it can even be small – who knows where it is going to lead.
So, what answer did I get from my pillow? What’s my ‘Why’? Or my ‘Why’ right now?
To express myself.
Self-expression has been a major sticking point in my life. I’ve an overwhelming desire to express what is true for me, yet feel constricted in following through and fearful of not being good enough. I love writing and singing and creating and I have let fear drive this for so long. Life is too short and too precious, not to share ourselves with the world.
This is my challenge and what may ultimately be my gift.
I believe we’re all creative beings and that we’re all here to create and express ourselves in our own unique way. I think the more we take risks in this way, the more that energy expands out and touches other people and possibly inspires others to find their small, and simple ‘Why’.
So what’s one thing you can do today to give fear the middle finger?
[Dedicating this post to Tom, who pushed me to share myself authentically today. Thanks babe, I think… 🙂 ]
I’ve been noticing lately where people don’t seem willing to take responsibility for things that happen in their lives, happy to point the finger in any direction but their own. I find this really frustrating and also find my ability to trust them is lessened because I know that they cannot be in a place of truth or integrity if they are allowing themselves to be fooled in this fundamental way (namely the belief that they are not in control of their lives).
I think this habit can be really disempowering. If you’re not responsible for things that happen in your life, how can you possibly feel empowered to create change or be the master of your own destiny, the captain of your own ship?
It’s occurred to me that we don’t see too many great examples at a societal level for taking responsibility and being in integrity, particularly if we look at the leaders of most of the countries of the world. There’s so much underhandedness, finger pointing, bullying, bringing others down, it’s disgusting. I have such a strong distaste for the handing out of blame where the best medicine is often to look inwards, whether that is at a personal or collective level.
I always tend to notice aspects of others before I choose to reflect on that theme within myself – convenient I know but I think this is how self-reflection naturally unfolds (for me anyway)! I’m not going to lie, I have the capacity to be an a******* at times. It’s not something I’m proud of and it’s not something that happens too often these days but it happens, it’s an aspect of me. However, I am more than happy to own up to being a shit in those moments and apologise to the people who have been affected by my behaviour – in fact, this is something that I feel compelled to do in order to move on.
We are fully in control of making change in our lives. Whatever it is that we want to do is completely within our control. That realisation can sometimes be scary if you focus on the difference between where you are and where you want to be – in the words of Marianne Williamson, our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure. When this happens, I bring myself back to appreciating all that I’m grateful for in my life right now and that is a massive list which warms me from the inside out.
So where in your own life might you be pointing the finger or not taking responsibility?
I think I’ve been ignorantly harbouring under a misconception or buying into a pre-packaged version of what men should be like.
For those who despise generalisations, let me say that I am merely reflecting on the experiences that I’ve had and continue to have with men in my life and with those that I have spoken to about this.
I’ve been noticing the sensitivity in the men around me more and more lately and to be honest it has come as a bit of a surprise. I’m in relationship with a beautifully sensitive man who has two boys, I have wonderful male friends, a father and stepfather who I love and adore, and on reflection I can’t think of one who isn’t incredibly sensitive and doesn’t appear to contain a rich internal world.
I don’t consider myself to be an easily led person but I feel foolish as I’ve clearly allowed my perception of men and the masculine role in society to be affected by the general media and Hollywood. The perception I’ve held is of men being strong and capable first and foremost, not just physically but emotionally, almost without exception. When there is a character who displays sensitivity, he is usually portrayed as weak and unsuccessful and may even suffer bullying. (The media has a lot to answer for in the perception of women in the world too but I’ve always been more aware of that).
If it is it true that some proportion of the male population are super sensitive then this misguided perception is incredibly damaging for us all.
Thinking about this makes me feel deeply sad for the experience men must have, growing up with this incredible sensitivity inside but having everything around them tell them that it is not okay and that it indicates weakness: that whatever they are feeling naturally is not acceptable. Having reflected to them from the outside that they’re instead supposed to be some combination of male characteristics that have been created and spoon fed by the media.
I’m curious, to the men out there, what ways do you find best for the people in your life to honour and respect your sensitivity.
And to the ladies, what have you found to be the ways that you can most appreciate the sensitivity in the men around you?
I left my life in Melbourne and I can’t say I’ve ever looked back.
My life in the city was fast-paced, stressful and there wasn’t much time or space for self-care. I was overweight and even though I had great friends and family, I’d never been in a relationship and wasn’t happy at my core. I knew there had to be way more to life than what I’d been living and I was determined to find out what that was.
I’d been working with the same company for 6 years and while it was a rewarding role it was also extremely challenging. The way that I approached it made it stressful and in hindsight, I was not on a great path in terms of my health and well-being.
Because I worked so hard during the week I balanced that out by partying on the weekends. I have very few regrets in my life, least of all the incredibly deep and lasting friendships that were built in these years. However, while partying can be bucket loads of fun at the time it is not (IMHO) a sustainable way of life and the fact is that I’d been living that way for years to the detriment of my well-being – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
I travelled to India with my Mum in 2008 and that was a real turning point in my perspective on both how I wanted to live my life and how much of what I wanted my life to be was within my control (read: mostly all of it!!!).
In 2009, a couple of my friends moved to Byron Bay to continue their own healing journeys. I’d holidayed in the region for a number of years and loved it, but I’d never considered the possibility of moving away from my friends, family and a lucrative career in Melbourne to live anywhere. For some reason, my friends moving somewhere beautiful and not too far away, made it seem like a remote chance. I guess there are times in your life when things just seem to fit and to feel right.
Like Victor Hugo once said, nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
I said to my friends at their going away party to let me know their movements over the next few months house-wise just in case I decided to move up. This sparked some decent excitement and even though at the time it was a seemingly throwaway line, a seed was planted. This was all of a sudden more than a remote chance, it was a possibility that I would carefully consider.
From there things shifted quickly. I contemplated the move over the next week and spent the following weekend calling on the wisdom of my sister, mother and best girlfriends to see if they thought this move would be beneficial for me. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive and by the Sunday night, my decision was made.
I met with my boss on Tuesday and handed him my resignation letter; I gave 2 months’ notice so we could find and train my replacement. It was a difficult meeting for me, I started crying as soon as I handed the letter over, I felt a deep sense of loyalty to this business and the people I worked with and I didn’t want to let them down. I’d also grown so much in my time there, but I knew this was something I had to do.
I left a good job, earning great money, senior in my field before my time and an integral part of the company I worked with. But I wasn’t inspired; challenged but not inspired. I desired change on a big scale and moving to another role while remaining in the city, continuing to live life the way that I was living wasn’t going to bring me where I wanted to be.
My best mate and I flew up on the 31st December 2009 to meet my sister and her mate who had graciously driven up my car packed full of my possessions. When I moved up to Byron I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had no idea how long I was going to last, what I was going to do for work or how I was going to survive. None of that really mattered though because I’d reached the point where I was deeply dissatisfied with life, I didn’t fear failure ‘cos I had nothing to lose.
I knew my life could be better and I knew that I was capable of great things.
I knew I had a lot to give and that I have the benefit of being born an Aries with spades of devotion / dedication and motivation to making things happen so all I needed to do was give myself space.
When I was saying my goodbyes and people were asking me what it was that I was going to do in Byron Bay, the only response I could fathom was that I needed the time and space to work out what it was that I truly wanted to do.
In hindsight and with the wisdom of a few years, I can see that what you truly want to do in life isn’t necessarily an end point, it’s an evolving, moving target which is, you know, the beauty of life. I am far more at peace now and that’s something I work on every day. My journey here has been all about cultivating time and space to take better care of myself and get closer and closer to the core of who I am.
What I know is that right now, writing for you about my experience, this is the most inspired that I have felt in my life. It has taken me years to get to the point where I am doing something that truly feels like I’m living my purpose, and I can tell you it may not always be easy but it feels damn good.
Now it’s your turn. I believe most of us experience a burnout in our lives at some stage. Let me know in the comments below, what three things do you wish could have magically come into place when you experienced burnout to get you out the other side?
I believe a profound ripple effect begins with the smallest acts of kindness we offer to ourselves and in our daily lives. I’m convinced that when we we're taking the best care of ourselves, we have an inherent desire, instinct and ability to take right action and care for those around us. Our cup is FULL so we can be in our power and give freely.
This instinct extends out further as our inner wealth grows. It is both the joy that comes from self-care and feeling worthy of our own love as well as this incredible instinct that I am so passionate about cultivating in myself and others. So in fact, we owe it to ourselves, those around us and the world at large to take the very best care of ourselves. Consider this your permission slip.