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The Frustration of Focus & The Benefit of Flow

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This is the first time in my life that I’m focussed on doing what I love. Being my healthiest self, and focussed on focus.

I’ve never been a believer in having it all, at least not at the same time. Now more than ever I’m sure of that.

Life has stabilized after a handful of years getting settled as a nearly-empty nester, a coupled up singleton, and one of the more experienced of a great group of colleagues.  Life has finally opened up into a chapter of more breathing room to focus on what brings me joy.

I’m not talking about my child or my lovely partner, or the beautiful friendships that I’ve nurtured throughout the years. I’m talking about what brings ME joy; nurturing a healthier, more active body, and carving out time and space (have you seen my awesome little writing space?!), to focus on writing.

I’m SO focussed. I spent an entire afternoon plotting 12 months of writing submissions. I dug out all of my old writing and put it in one of the drawers in the two desks I need to keep all of my scribbling organized. I consulted with a life coach. I became accountable to myself. I took a project on my winter beach vacation. I give a shit about letting my precious, wild, creative ideas get away from me without nurturing them.

“I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us—albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

It’s spring, so I had to take a break away to plan and plant my garden, welcome my baby boy home from uni, and spend more time at the yoga studio. All this joyful living has made me jolly. Trying to focus on family, health and the garden has made my writing suffer. So frustrating!

How fortunate am I to be frustrated that I don’t have enough time between my good job, spoiling my adult son, being a loving partner, and keeping up with the people who have buoyed me up all of those tough years, to write all day, every day? Very. I’m very fortunate.

Focus is wonderful, but so is a blessed life. And I don’t want to forget that as I scroll through my insta-feed of minimalist works spaces and uber-achievers.  My big, messy, patchwork life of love and vitality is more than a lot of people ever dream of having. And I intend to go with it. To flow. To savour every second. Nothing lasts forever.

Focus is something I can come back to again and again. So here I am, in a window seat at the coffee shop, keyboard and second draft of my novel ready for a serious workout.

If you haven’t quite made it to this place in life where you can see your blessing manifest and you feel like a suffocated artist, buy yourself  Big Magic . It saved my creative spirit, and kept me plodding away when I had too many bills and not enough time or space to feel justified in spending the extra time to create.  Just keep going. Just keep telling the universe what you need, and somehow you will pass from survival to thriving. I promise.

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Nice Matters: A Shout-Out of Gratitude

peonyToday I’ve written a bit about mean, so let’s shake that crappy mojo. I’m going to  write about something more important; nice (aka kindness).

Kindness matters. It’s part of that grace thing that I’ve been trying master for a few years.  We get it right sometimes, and we get it wrong sometimes, but what matters is that we strive to get better at it.

It’s good for us. Just as good as a healthy diet, or eight hours of sleep. Nice makes our bodies happy and our spirits calm.

Lately there has been a lot of nice in my life. My ‘crazy’ family and friends have been generous in their support of my son’s flight from the nest. He as been encouraged, supported, and cheered on. As a mother, there is nothing better than knowing your child is thriving and that they have a solid support network or friends, mentors, coaches and family. Thank you for being nice.

I’m taking a little longer to adjust to the transition. I tear up daily, and am struggling with the transition of being totally dedicated to my kiddo to being totally dedicated, but from a distance. My friends have been kind and gentle and supportive. Thank you for being nice.

I have flooded my social media feed with proud mom moments and not once has anyone told me how annoying it is. Thank you for being nice.

This is a challenging transition year for me, once again wondering where I will live, work and mom from in a year. In advance to my friends and family; thank you for being nice.

 

 

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Empty Coffee Cans & Gas Tanks – The Small Costs of Living With Intention

 

empty_coffee_pot_blasphemy_in_the_morning_mugsThis morning I opened the top of the coffee container to find that someone had used all of my flavoured coffee while I was on vacation. In 2013, all of my delicious half-caf vanilla flavoured coffee would still have been there.

And without my current employment, I  also wouldn’t have been able to afford a little escape to worship the sun near the equator. So, I guess I’ll take the near-empty coffee can, thank you very much.

Without an awesome kiddo, I also could not have taken a break. I mean, how many parents feel comfortable leaving their kid home, with access to the car?

I am truly blessed.

Three years ago during my annual June life review (yah, I do it in June, don’t ask why…that’s another story for another time), I decided that there were a few things out of order in my life, and I set an intention to work toward them. One of them being a coffee-addicted-partner who leaves just enough of my favourite coffee for four cups and a kid who has such a busy social and sports schedule that he needs the car most nights. Good damn thing they’re both cute.

Lately I’ve been waking up with a health concern on my mind. First thoughts being hopeful; is it gone? No. Is it any better?

Health was at the top of my 2013 list, and I’ve been pushing my own self-care aside like most women do when they are juggling parenting, work and relationships. It’s evident that I need to adjust my priorities. It’s also evident that I can.

What I mean is, my life is pretty darn good right now (knock on wood).

So, if you are like me; A ‘Type A’ working mother with a creative streak, life can often seem overwhelming and time extremely limited to work on all of the clever projects that cultivate vital energy in us.

Just take a moment to let the piles of paper remain where they are. Take a deep breath and sit your ass down with a cup of tea. Count your blessings. If you don’t have that many, begin to think about what you need and how to get there. Live with intention despite being pulled in a million directions; resist distraction and carve out the time you need to apply for a new job, create a relationship with a loving partner, take a walk…

And be sure to be thankful for the near-empty coffee can and empty tank of gas. It’s all a matter of perspective.

 

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Sunday Meditation: Every Day Ritual

takecomfortI wake up this morning of my own accord. There is no alarm clock, just time to be me.

But there is ritual in this nothingness, this casual waking and being.

I pad to the kitchen, stumble over my own feet, turn the patio blinds, come back to the enveloping embrace of my still-warm, duvet mountain of a bed and send up a prayer that I’ve come to realize I’ve been saying, in my own way, at my own speed, for many years. It is a prayer of gratitude.

And then my mind turns to wonder…this morning it’s about a lunch date with a an old flame, the pros and cons of moving, how much I’m looking forward to sprucing up my little corner of the world….

Wonder, the butler to her majesty; Curiosity.

Eventually I pour  coffee, a lot of coffee,  into one of my  oversized mugs that was gifted from friends, open the window over my writing desk, and sit down at the keyboard. My feline mentor scrambles onto the desk,past the plant that I barely manage to keep alive, and paws at the lace curtain until I lift it up, and place it over his head like a wedding veil. We both look out to the painting mother nature has created over night and breathe in the cool, fresh, morning air. .

This is my ritual. Every writer has one, and this is mine.

This morning, as I clock-watch and know that my time in front of the keyboard at my little window is short, I am grateful for my simple ritual. It grounds me just enough for inspiration to take root.

It grounds me just enough to turn anxiety into excitement, fear into courage, and sadness into a fading memory.

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Giving Yourself the Moments

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“Realize deeply that the present moment is all we ever have.” ~Eckhart Tolle~

Simultaneously I was voice-dialing my mumster and buckling my seatbelt when I was caught up in a moment.

Not a moment of city-driving-get-the-hell-outta-my-way. It was a moment of, “Ahhhhh…..” As in; big sigh of relief. Big sigh of, “I feel like I’m starting to pull myself together“.

After a long day, feet-throbbing, and 5:00 a.m. starts, I felt good. Satisfied, content, like maybe, just maybe I was ok.

As you all know, life has a way of knocking us around, and shaking our confidence. It also has a way of forcing you to surrender when the only fight you have left in you whispers, “I give up,” and then rolls over, gives your broken heart the finger, pulls the blankie over its’ head and goes to sleep.

Tonight, tired but happy, I gave myself the moment.

I let myself be grateful for just being where I was, simply in the moment. Grateful that I had a mumster to call, a kiddo to go home to, and especially that I have enough courage to keep moving forward.

We can only ever be certain of change, that our emotions can carry us to the most dark, frightening depths of the human condition and the loftiest heights of elation.

When we are in the moment; not anxious of the future or analyzing the past, we realize that it’s ok. We’re ok. Life is ok; As it is. Nothing less and nothing more.

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It’s the Little Things

mabye it's caffeineSomeone recently suggested that yours truly was depressed. I insisted this was nonsense, and that it was surely just my  anxiety-overdrive that was making me more crazy than usual.

For ‘Type A’ personalities, anxiety is like being on alien-strength caffeine pills. My mind zips around like an Italian in a German sports car, making random stops and leaving a wake of unfinished business.

Believe you me, I don’t need someone pointing it out to me, I know. I live it darling, Anxiety and I are old friends. We relate intimately on a profanity-using-first-name basis.

The sad part is, it annoys the crap out of my loved ones. My constant; are you sure? Are you double sure? Are you triple super sure?, not only annoys the shit out of me, but I’m sure it makes them want to want to shove a gin and tonic down my throat, complete with an entire lime wedged at the opening of my trachea for good measure.

I think this is genetic, stemming from my maternal side. My granny used to ask you if you wanted something umpteen times, and when she finally heard the last no she could handle (being a giver can be so unsatisfying), she would respond by saying, “Well, suffer then!”. I think that was the Methodist in her. Thank the good lord that’s not genetic.

theastonishinglightWhen I get really anxious, and really aware of it, my twisted imagination kicks in, I fumble in the fog of my mind back to my meditation practice, and grasp at any cute little inspirational saying just to keep my thoughts from turning into a stomach-churning carnival ride from hell.

Today I decided to take stock of all of the things I’m grateful for, besides the biggies (my kiddo, my partner, my friends). I decided to be grateful for little things and to list them so that maybe it would help someone in the blogosphere remember to be grateful for little things to.

Here goes…

I’m grateful for;

  1. The gentleman at the fitness centre who was gracious enough to obey my panting request to turn on the air conditioning.
  2. That a book I wanted was actually on the shelf at the library when I went in.
  3. Ria Mae for an awesome song to distract my whirling thoughts as I drove back to the office from a meeting.
  4. That I only owed $2.35 for cancelling a gym membership that I never use…and that I finally remembered to cancel it.
  5. Remembering to put barrettes in my bag so that I could tame my humidity-loving-ringlets when I arrived at the office.
  6. Crazytown’s Lemonface for dragging my chubby buns through the last five minutes of my run.absolutelylovely
  7. Ok, I gotta go for the big ones; my partner my cousin and my besties L and the Amazing C for taking time to talk when they’ve got a plate full of life themselves.
  8. My blender and protein powder for being an easy dinner when I was feeling too meh, to cook for lonely little ole’ me.
  9. Letters to write to people I care about.
  10. The scent of my true love’s pillow.

Wishing you peace in your mind and in your heart.

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The Ice Queen is Melting

Image found at yahoo.ca  from www.museuma.com
Image found at yahoo.ca from http://www.museuma.com

I used to cry. A lot.

Over things that I don’t cry about any more.

Life has a great way of putting our troubles in perspective, especially when you specialize in other people’s troubles.  Oh, the irony.

As I mature, I despair far less and have cultivated a bit more grace. More and more I find tears come during tender moments.

The past week has lent itself to situations that span the scale of joy and pain; giddy anticipation, disappointment, loss, and reunions.

Tonight I said good-bye to  dear friends. Friends who have been such a big part of our life here, that I’m sure without their love and support, our lives would be much different. As a single parent with no family, they were my savior when my little boy needed care on days he was sick and I had to choose between going to work or losing my job.  Four years ago they moved to the East Coast, and this is the first visit we’ve had face-to-face since then.

I couldn’t stop the tears when I hugged my friend good-bye. We spent the entire day cozy and warm as we watched the snow storm outside.

When you get a chance to spend time with a kindred-spirit, a true friend, and then must say good-bye, as inevitably you do, it’s heartbreaking.

Unlike ‘the guy’ earlier this week who thinks I’m made of stone, my friends gets me. That’s what true friends do.  We know that despite the dignified way we may carry ourselves, that each of us needs someone to give us a hug and tell us it’s ok.

As I hugged my friend goodbye I was sad to see her go and still so grateful for the time we had together.  Tears don’t always mean sadness, sometimes they just acknowledge the bittersweetness of life; the gratitude for the love we have, and the reality that that too is fleeting.

There are a lot of things that I don’t know, but one thing I can testify to is that we  never really know when we’re saying good-bye for the last time.

During the past week, I have been so very grateful for my friendships, for the abundance in our lives and the security of our little home. I am blessed. Sometimes tears are a way of expressing gratitude. After all,  even the Ice Queen must melt a little bit to shine.