Stepping out on opening night

Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less.         Norman Mailer

In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get into motion and grow. Lou Holtz

Julia Cameron talks of artists dates. This was a practice of mine some time ago and I fell off the wagon. Due to a recent change in circumstances I have felt isolated, alone and needing connection. I’ve identified activities and events to attend, I’ve flooded my calendar with them in fact but when the time arises I find it hard to get dressed and step out the door. It’s so much easier to stay at home and hide from the world.

Scrolling through social media I noticed a friend was interested in an event. Looking into it I discovered it was an opening of an indigenous art exhibition at a gallery I follow. I popped it in my calendar thinking it could be a nice opportunity to get out and be around people.

An hour before the event I was already seeing myself curled up on the couch with a book and cup of tea. I was making plenty of excuses not to go. Noticing this self-defeating pattern of behaviour I messaged my friend and asked if she was going. She was unwell. She did however encourage me by reminding me of the artist date concept. After a little delay I threw caution to the wind  (oh yes, risk taking needs to become a bigger part of my life from now on. Minimal as those risks might be in the short-term) and got dressed (yep, big decisions here too. Could easily have derailed the whole thing right in the wardrobe. To cut the crap and the debate in my head I selected a simple dress and sandals. No fuss – simple and easy) and headed out.

A lightness instantly descended upon me, or is that the heaviness lifted? Either works and perhaps are synchronistically synonymous in this instance.  Parking a short distance away and walking toward the gallery, passing Friday night revellers I felt a freedom and a confidence in having made the decision to step out of the house, out of my funk and into life. Choosing action over inaction and movement instead of ‘stuckness’ felt great.

The exhibition was intimate. The works pure and innocent with captivating colours and symbolism. Compared to other crowded opening nights it was an event attended by a small number of art enthusiasts passionate about indigenous art. I wasn’t exactly surrounded by people and I didn’t connect in any overt way with anyone but it was nice to share the space and see the appreciation for the works in the demeanour of others. It was a shared experience.

My excursion wasn’t a long one but gosh it was liberating. Some readers may think that odd because going out on a Friday night is such a normal thing to do and going to a gallery opening isn’t exactly skydiving. When the fabric of your life has been slashed and your self-esteem and sense of self-worth have been demolished by the cruel acts of another and tragic circumstances it’s hard to stand up straight let alone step out into the light.

I know this is just a small step to recovering and rediscovering life. I am looking forward to many more opening nights and opening myself to new and exciting opportunities.

 

A year of inspiration: inspired by my friend Catherine and the need to step out and into the light and explore life from a new perspective.

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Walking the landscape of life

Be a hill seeker
Most of us try to avoid hills but what’s good about flat? Think about flat tires, flat hair, flat returns (what about flat cakes) and the ultimate flat – flatlining.  Life happens on the hills.  They’re opportunities to prove to yourself that you are stronger than you ever imagined.  If you never attempt the ascent you’ll never know the thrill of swooshing down the other side.

Have you read this quote before? What’s its relevance for you? As a hiker I love it but it’s also a nice analogy for life.

I’m not a thrill seeker,  I’m fairly conservative and non spontaneous and I baulk at hills, more so the physical hills but also the figurative hills in life.  I pretty much seek the easy path while wanting the ultimate outcome, prize or goal. It simply isn’t going to happen. Is it? Einstein said we can’t expect a different result if we do things the same way. It’s crazy behaviour as well as making for a mundane existence.

I’ve examined this behaviour of mine and realise the root of the issue is that I constantly underestimate my ability to tackle hills or mountains; and I’ve trekked a few in my time. You know what usually happens though? Once I begin, the apprehension lessens, the fear rolls away, a little excitement creeps in and a decent sense of achievement blooms. Oh, yes, there’s sweat along the way and some discomfort too (there might even be some cursing when the path gets extremely steep and narrow and rocky), though the more I face up to the hills and mountains the less uncomfortable it gets. Of course all hills are different and they all have their own topography to navigate, so no two are the same. Once at the top I wonder why I ever doubted myself. The satisfaction, the triumph and the joy are just rewards for a little time and perspiration.

A little fun fact that has helped me no end when setting out to climb a hill, and I realise this can help too with those figurative hills in life, is that most humans overestimate the steepness ahead of by at least 15 and in some cases 30 percent. So next time you have the option of the flat or the high road, seek out the hill because the rise ahead isn’t as savage as it appears at first glance. There’s a great satisfaction that comes from challenging yourself and doing something different. Gaining a different perspective can change the map you were previously following. Sometimes you just want to go a different way once you get that bird’s eye view. It really does just begin with putting one foot in front of the other and committing.

I agree with the above quote in that we never really know what we can achieve until we set out to conquer something, be it a physical challenge or some other goal in life. My opinion differs from the wisdom above too.  It’s all life. Life occurs on the hills, on the swoosh down and in the flat places in between.  The thrills might occur when we take a risk and veer off the flat path but the key, I believe, is to make sure we experience the range of landscapes available to us, because variety adds spice to life.

What if … we dropped the reins?

Woman with Flower
I wouldn’t coax the plant if I were you.
Such watchful nurturing may do it harm.
Let the soil rest from so much digging
And wait until it’s dry before you water it.
The leaf’s inclined to find its own direction;
Give it a chance to seek the sunlight for itself.

Much growth is stunted by too much prodding,
Too eager tenderness.
The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.

                                             Naomi Long Madgett

There is a time for everything. A time for stillness and a time for busyness. A time for growth and a time for laying fallow.  We so easily get caught up in the push and pull of life. Trying to control and force is easy to us. One might say this is natural to us. It is anything but natural. It is indeed easy but also terribly harmful and exhausting .

After a lifetime of tightly grasping the reins, of skillful mastering, directing, forcing and willing every little thing it is exceedingly difficult to let go; to relinquish being in charge.  Lao-Tzu, in his Tao Te Ching, reminds me that the universe is sacred and perfect and cannot be controlled, especially not by me.  So what’s the answer to this exhausting and debilitating role of Master and Commander that I’ve donned?

Give up control.
Surrender.
Allow flow.

Simple. But not easy.

It’s a mind game and one that needs to be played moment by moment. Hour by hour. Day by day. For me this isn’t a process easily won. It’s new to me and perhaps to you. It’s about recognising and halting that learnt behaviour to interfere and control. It’s about observing rather than taking over. It’s about understanding there is a natural law that is harmony itself and allowing it to work its magic in your life.

Let’s revel in the sacred perfection of the world and let go of the reins.

Hope is not a strategy

Hope is not a strategy. I heard this phrase in a meeting, it struck a chord and has lingered in the back of my thinking all week.

Hope can provide a light in the darkness; it can help get us through a rough patch but hope alone does not get us to where we want to go. Hope alone does not create the world in which we want to live. Hope is not a strategy any more than throwing some coins in a wishing well is a strategy.

Hope is not a strategy that moves us forward

Hope is not a strategy that moves us forward

As a spiritual person I belive in manifestation, the intervention of the universe and the biblical meaning of ‘hope’ but I also know that hoping to lose weight, hoping to win the lotto, hoping to become proficient at a new skill won’t happen without intention, a course of action and taking small steps toward the goal.

Hoping for change diminishes our responsibility; it allows us to skirt accountability, it leaves us helpless and at the mercy of something or someone other than ourselves. Intention, however, followed by action empowers us. Intention forces us to stand on our own two feet and accept responsibility for where we are and where we want to be.

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Intention and action suggest movement. Intention and action suggest commitment. Intention and action suggest strength and determination.

Martin Luther King gave one of histories most powerful speeches – I have a dream – in which he listed all the good things he hoped for America. Did he merely have a blind  hope these things would manifest of their own accord or did he have a plan of action to enact, that ensured these dreams would become reality?

In my work there are key messages I want my clients will learn but without setting the intention prior to my planning and without planning and incorporating specific content and learning experiences I might as well hope the message is transferred through osmosis.

While I firmly believe we are supported and guided by the universe I also believe our spirit guides, our God, our guardian angels want us and expect us to take the first small step in the direction we are hoping to see some outcome or change.

we need to take steps toward our desired outcome - even baby steps help.

We need to take steps toward our desired outcome – even baby steps help.

We can’t manifest a new home for ourselves without first looking at what is available, without checking our finances, without making an offer. We can’t hope to lose those five kilos without making some changes to our diet and lifestyle. We can’t hope to live a peaceful life if we don’t set aside time for ourselves to enjoy peace.

Next time you hope for something to manifest in your life, consider the first small step you can take toward achieving your dream.

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