A new approach to dealing with doubt and fear – think bathroom :)

When in the bathroom the other day, I had a moment of inspiration. Stay with me here. I’m not going to get gross and this is not potty humour – even though my husband would probably love that. No, this is about having a moment of quiet in the bathroom – as many moms can appreciate. Sometimes being able to lock yourself into the bathroom for a few minutes can be the only precious alone time you get in a day. Am I handwashing-1468144-1599x1198right? And even that can be tenuous, if you’re in my house.

Let’s get to the point. I have been pondering deeply about self-doubt and fear, and figuring out how to manage these most unwelcome guests in my life when they knock on my door. Well, I have a new analogy. How do you handle doubt and fear? Wash your hands!

That’s right. Because your hands get dirty. Every day they get dirty, but what do you do when that happens? You simply go find a sink, run some water, use some soap, clean them and get on with your day. You don’t get frustrated and angry and give up and leave them dirty. Or maybe you do for a bit, because it’s fun to be dirty for a while, but eventually, you will clean them.

That’s what happens in life. You make decisions. You start to take action, and life gets dirty. Most of the time things do not go fully as planned or hoped and you get discouraged and frustrated. Fear and self-doubt creep back in, as if waiting in bushes for the perfect time to ambush your brain and your heart. They’ll try to convince you to give up and stay in your safe and comfortable place. But in your heart of hearts, you know you are more. You are more than this fear. You are more than this doubt. You are your decisions. You are your actions. You are your choices and you are a creator. In every moment, you are a creator.

So, in moments of fear and doubt, go find a sink to wash them away and celebrate saying goodbye to them as they spiral out of control and down the drain. Your sink can be any number of things: a friend, an inspirational quote, your favourite piece of music, a walk by the lake, a passage in the Bible/Koran…whatever calms your heart, brings you peace and lifts you up. Whatever washes away the heavy feelings and cleans you off, ready to start again.

You will always get dirty again. Always, but it’s up to you how long you let yourself stay dirty. So, my simple desire is to always remember I have the power to wash them away and start again.

 

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Can’t keep up? I’ve got an idea…

Oh my gosh. my simple desire is to keep things simple. Seriously. Everything is so complicated, especially in my head.

Over thinking. Over analysis. Over emotional.  Over budget. Over time. Over craziness. Over under.

whirlwind

My brain…most of the time

What?!

Exactly.

It’s too much. We put all of these demands on ourselves, on others, on our lives and can’t keep the fuck up. What is our problem? Everyone at my work is stressed. My boss snapped at me because she can’t keep up. My collegue runs around red-faced and tense like a firecracker about to blow. I whip home after an hour or so of overtime, to arrive just on time to take one kid to piano, drop the other one at piano. Run in the grocery store for the desperately-needed items we can’t live without one more day without the school calling about my malnourished children, go back and get the first kid, back to get the second one – the third kid screaming “THIS IS BORING!” from the back seat because some law tells me I can’t leave a 7-yr old at home alone (what’s that about?!) – to get home to have what for dinner? Eggs? Again? If I remembered to pick them up. Nope, I didn’t. Damn. Well, have some toast and be done with it. You’ll live.

And then, I’m not writing, but just obesessing about writing and wanting to write and what I should write about and what’s my brand and will anyone read my shit anyway and am I even good enough and when do I even have time to write and how can I leave my job so I have time to write, but then I won’t have any money, so maybe I start my own business, but doing what because that will take time and money I don’t have and I need to pay my mortgage and wish I could just write and make a shitload of money, but that’s not realistic because we all know the success rates of poets and writers and artists. So where does that leave me?

Not writing and becoming a bear, a beast and a bitch.

Yeah, it’s too much.

My husband just shakes his head at me at my latest temper tantrum break down because I complained, cried and cursed that I don’t have time to write and I can’t keep doing this. He just said “You do this to yourself. You do your whoa is me thing saying you need time to write and that you’re miserable, but then 2 hours later you’re telling me everything we need to do this weekend – all things you are choosing to do that we don’t have to do.” Of course, my reaction is that he clearly doesn’t understand and there’s no way that’s right and we need to do something about this whole time thing and you’re not really hearing me…blah, blah blah. Until the next morning, when the sun’s out and my girls are playing happily and I have time to sit and sip my chai latte, and pull out my computer,  and finally see his  simple wisdom. Fuck. It’s all totally on me. My choices. My decisions to fill up my time with things from the outside rather than to fill my time with things that fill me up on the inside.

So, here’s the big earth-shattering realization that this post is all about:

Can’t keep the fuck up? SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!

(Not only the theme of this blog post, but clearly my latest idea for an inspriational coffee mug.)

So, here’s the advice I now have for you after going through these latest self-affirming moments of torture:

  • Know what your thing is that fills you up on the inside.
  • Look at your day/week/month and figure out what you’re doing that you don’t really need to. You know the things – they’re usually guilt-driven or procrastination-driven.
  • Look at what is taking up space in your brain. What are you obsessing about and becoming bitchy about?
  • Ask yourself “Do I even ever play, like at all?”
  • Now, speak up to those around you and say “Enough! I’m done! I need time to just be.” Bring them into it. So they know where you’re at so they can help.
  • Then do it. Take enough pride and honour in yourself to do your thing simply because it’s your thing and you love it.

That’s it really. That last bullet. Slowthe fuck down by starting to simply do your thing just because you love it. That’s it…

…and its working. See? I’m writing again.

That’s my simple desire.

5 things kids teach us about determination

happy-childThis morning, during the usual insane morning routine of getting five people to slurp down smoothies, scarf down oatmeal and stuff down toast, at one point I realized my daughter was wearing leggings with a hole in the butt. Her flowered underwear poking through saying “look at me world!”

When I told her she wasn’t going to school like that and she had to change, of course the typical negotiation ensued.

“But mom, I love these leggings.”

“Nope.”

“But mom, these are my last clean pair. You haven’t done laundry in like two weeks.”

(Kinda true, but that didn’t mean she was going to school with a beacon on her behind.) “No way.”

“Come on mom. It’s not that big of a hole.”

“Not going to happen, my love.”

“If I change, it will take too long and I’ll be late for the bus.”

“Believe me. You’ve got time.”

“Please mom. I’ll just cover it with my shirt.” (which of course instantly rides up the seconds she pulls it down.)

“Nice try.”

Pause…wheels in her head spinning at full speed.

“What if I put shorts over top.”

Hmmm, she might have something there.

I relent. “OK. I guess that’s fine. Just cover up that butt!”

As I sat back and finished my oatmeal, I couldn’t help but be impressed by her problem-solving ability and more importantly, her determination. She so badly wanted to wear those pants that she focused all of her energy on finding a solution. She wasn’t going to take no for an answer. She would find a way…and she did.

Napoleon Hill calls this having a burning desire and making a definite plan. Kids have burning desires down pat. When they get focused on wanting something, any parent knows how friggin’ hard it is to convince them otherwise. But the incredible thing, is watching a child work her way through a problem to come up with a solution. My daughter has always been a master at that.

For some of us who settle, or give up too easily, or take the easy road – which is probably all of us at certain times in our lives – think about or watch children in action. We could all use a little of their moxie.

5 things kids do we could all learn from:

  1. When you don’t succeed the first time, try again…and again…and again.
  2. When you hear the word ‘no’ (100 times), don’t care what other people say. It’s not about them.
  3. Have total clarity on what you want. It’s easier not to get distracted.
  4. Stay focused; want it so badly that nothing else around you matters.
  5. Be creative. There is always more than one way to solve a problem.

Successful people in this world do all of these same things. They are clear about the goal. They stay focused on the goal. The make a plan to reach the goal, but are able to adapt if need be, and they don’t stop until they’ve achieved the goal.

It’s in all of us. So embrace your inner child…as long as you cover your butt!

The wise Jim Carrey…really?

jim-carreySo, I don’t love all of Jim Carrey’s humour. For example, potty humour doesn’t do it for me. I remember a scene from “Me, Myself and Irene”, where his character took a dump on the neighbour’s lawn, just to get back at him for something. It was gross and I almost left the room. Thank God I didn’t go see it in the theatre. That was the worst Jim Carrey movie I’ve ever seen.

But he has incredible talent and dedication to his craft. My kids love “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” He was great in the “Truman Show”, even in “Bruce Almighty.” What I admire is that his is willing to try anything. He is ‘all in’ no matter what he is doing.

What does Jim Carrey have to do with My Simple Desires? Well, looking to be inspired, I had just watched an address of Oprah’s at Spelman College, when I looked to the right of the YouTube screen where more suggested videos pop up, and a commencement speech that Jim Carrey gave at Maharishi University of Management came up. It was INCREDIBLE! He was engaging and goofy, of course, but he was also extremely passionate, centred and wise. This man loves life, believes that all things are possible and exudes so much joy.

I wrote at least two pages of notes while I listened – little nuggets of inspiration and wisdom. For example, his dad could have been a comedian, but took the safe route and became an accountant. A job he later got fired from, that left his family are very hard times. At which point Carrey says “What I learned from my dad is that you can fail at something you don’t want, so why not take on chance on something you love!”

Carrey also watched his mother go through depression and always desperately tried to make her laugh. He was the clown at home just to help her feel joy. And one day, he articulated his life purpose: “to free people from concern.” That’s why he does what he does. “To free people from concern.” That is a pretty awesome life purpose. And as I have a current simple desire to articulate my own life purpose, the simplicity of his spoke to me.

As he spoke, he challenged the graduates with this question: “what do others need that your talent can provide? Because the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”

Yes. Life is about our service to each other and each of us has a unique gift that we have to offer..

I have long admired anyone who is totally clear on what their gift is, and not only know it, but then trust it and follow it with all that they are. I think of people like Craig Kielburger who knew at age 11 his calling to free the children in developing countries from child labour, build schools and inspire youth. Ellen DeGeneres who embraces her comedy and has made her show into an exact expression of who she is. Arlene Dickinson who is a self-made millionaire, entrepreneur and author.

We all have similar gifts. Not that they are all grandiose and will lead to fame and riches (but they might). We just need to take the time to think about what they are and then do the work to trust them and follow them through. That is how we will lift this world to a higher plain and that is my simple desire.

Lessons from the Grand Canyon

Canyon_PanoI’ve never been to the Grand Canyon. I’ve been Las Vegas and Tucson close, but have never quite made it to the Canyon. Many of you can probably vouch for its beauty and awe, and perhaps upon seeing it, your view of life and the world shifted a little bit. Well, recently, my life shifted a little bit simply from hearing about it and seeing this photo.

My friend in the photo, Nabil, told me about when he first saw the Canyon. He was up in a helicopter flying overhead. The flight started by first going over the plateau that led to the Canyon. At that point, he couldn’t yet see the Canyon and all of its vastness. All that lay before him was miles of flat dry land.

And then, as if God himself swallowed some of the earth, the plateau disappeared. The earth fell, and the miles and miles of canyon laid out before him. Nabil stared out his window awestruck. He could form no words. He could barely even breathe at the site.

Later they landed and he stepped foot on the same earth he had just flown over. He started walking on the plateau and moved closer to the canyon to get a better look. Nabil found a stretch of land that jutted into the canyon, but narrowed as he ventured closer. The wind was strong, but so was his desire to see more and get a glimpse of this great depth. Nabil told me, as he walked that narrow trek, he wasn’t sure he could keep his balance, not only because of the gusts of wind, but also because the way was so thin and the drop so dramatic that he sensed the cliffs on either side almost pull his body toward their edges like a magnet. Not trusting his footing, he literally got down on all fours to steady himself and make it to the tip to see over. He wanted a glimpse of the base of this incredible wonder of the world.

Once he got there, he looked over and again, his breath left him. Never before had he seen a depth so profound. He was drawn to it and couldn’t wait to enter it and look up from below at the place he was now crouching.

Nabil looked around and couldn’t see a path anywhere. All he could see were rocks and cliffs.

It is at this stage in my life where I find myself: on the edge of a precipice, able to see my destination before me, yet not seeing the path. Part of me feels drawn to just fuck it, and jump. I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker and drawn to adventure…and I’ve never been very patient. I want so badly to just get to where I’m going and it seems to me that jumping would be the fastest way to get there. Wouldn’t it? Except for the sure death part. Jumping would be stupid and life threatening. Sigh.

Grand Canyon

photos courtesy of Nabil Doss – friend and inspiration

Nabil was of course shown the path down into the canyon. He took his time to navigate past rocks and obstacles along the way, but as he walked, he witnessed phenomenal views at each step. Views impossible to express in words, until he was walking on the very spot he had stared at from way above.

Nabil reminded me, the path to my life destination is also just a few feet away, maybe I just need help–or patience–to see it. And yes, I will need to walk slowly and steadily as I go, but there will be many stunning sights along the way: winding trails, gorgeous rock faces, winding riverbeds and surprise water falls. Oh, and I might trip over a root every once in a while, but most of the time I’ll be able to skip, and jump, and even run.

And in the end, life’s about the journey and the surprise beauty each step brings us.  Like the weekend I recently had and blogged about. A few months ago, it wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t even know Enette (who led the weekend) existed. But one step forward in my life led me to her and led me to meet many others who have now had a profound impact on my life.

So, I’m pressing forward step by step because now I think about what I would have missed – and left behind – if I had jumped.