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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Reflections on friendship, possibility and change

Every once in a while we meet someone who shifts our world a little bit. Someone who sees us in a way not many others can. Someone who accepts us more willingly and openly than most. And when we are blessed to come across such a person, our load becomes lighter and we see new possibility in our lives to which we had previously been blind.

I’ve been blessed over the past couple of years or so to have had such a person in my life. A colleague who quickly became a friend because of her generous, warm spirit. On days that were dull and tedious, she brought light and purpose. On days that were stressful and heavy, she brought laughter and levity. On days that were joyous and fun, she delighted in the moment.

I am writing about her today, because as of yesterday, my friend is starting a new journey in her life in her well-deserved retirement. A new journey she’s not sure she is completely ready for, but one I know will see her fly in ways she never thought possible.

Starting a new phase in life can be terrifying – whether it’s retiring, becoming a new parent, starting a new career. The fear of the unknown is daunting, but it is precisely in these moments of great change when the greatest discovery of self takes place. It is precisely at the time when our carefully crafted foundations are rocked that we discover more deeply who we are, more clearly what we are capable of and can stand more firm in our new knowing.

Change is powerful because it forces us out of our comfortable selves where we tend to settle for less than who we are and shows us what could be. It breaks down the constrained definitions we have of life, and shines light in the dark corners we worked hard to conceal. But what is funny is that on the other end of a significant change, when we get past the initial denial, anger, and resistance, finally stop fighting and learn the lessons the change has taught us, what was once the unknown becomes familiar and we begin to settle again.

So instead of hiding from change and the unknown, let’s seek it out. Instead of fearing the uncomfortable, let’s embrace it. Instead of holding back from new possibility let’s boldly walk toward it.

I desire this for my friend as she walks this new path. I desire this for myself when I am faced with the unexpected, and I desire this for anyone who seeks to be more than they are right now.

As I read back these reflections, I recognize they are not so simple desires. I know I will not always be able to live up to what I hope for myself and for those around me. I can only continue to seek and try, and when I come up short – as I very often will – I can only hope that I will remember the gifts from my friend, the lessons she taught me, and the simple desires she inspired today.