When the Going Gets Tough

I had breakfast with a dear friend yesterday. We talked about a lot of stuff. We talked about our relationships and our jobs (mine is the unpaid kind). We talked about getting older and the changes that brings. And we talked about how at some point in our lives, we are faced with something we have no control over, something that is a real struggle to deal with, or someone or something we wouldn’t choose to have in our lives.

In these situations, we may have the feeling like our lives are “over”, like we are backed into a corner, like we’ve been dealt a bad hand, and that, as a result, it all sucks. We think about the situation all the time, and feel the weight of our relentless thoughts and feelings. There is nowhere to run and hide.

What I have found though, is that the way to make peace with the “situation” is the opposite of trying to push it away (which is really draining energetically).

I have found the following to be helpful in these situations:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings and let them out. It can be in the form of tears, pounding your pillow, talking to someone about it, going for a run or other physical activity.
  2. Write it out. This is a point in itself and not a part of the first one because I truly believe in the power of getting it all on the page. As you write and notice the specific words that come up, as well as what you say, it provides an opportunity to clarify what is really bothering you. Writing also provides catharsis and an opportunity to process your feelings instead of stuffing them where the sun don’t shine.
  3. You’ve heard the saying “the only way out is through”, which means that no matter how much you would like to, you can’t fast forward or take a detour. Eventually you have to deal with what *is*.
  4. The art of dealing with what *is* : remember compassion; for yourself and everyone involved. Humour is often helpful. So is spending time in nature and doing something that brings you joy. Losing yourself in the moment is highly beneficial. Do this through art, cooking, gardening; whatever activity you enjoy.
  5. Don’t go it alone. Talk to someone. Get professional help. Adopt a pet. Volunteer for a good cause.
  6. Prayer, meditation and exercise.

I hope that this helps you when the going gets difficult in your life. Wishing you peace always,

Cora

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The Myth of Finding Your Purpose by Kris Carr

I’ve written about life purpose on this blog before (here, here and here). As time has passed, I’ve come to believe that our individual life purpose is more about really getting to know ourselves, uncovering our gifts and sharing them with others.

It seems to me that once you truly know yourself, and recognize the divinity within and all around you, the work you are meant to do here automatically emerges (we might say that the real you emerges, the real you whose passion is allowed to flow.)

Time and time again, I’ve read how people start an activity or project for their own benefit or for enjoyment (for example, blogging, running, volunteering at a hospice, gardening, baking etc.) and slowly, organically, it flourishes into something they perhaps never even imagined. Something that allows them to be who they really are in the world and, often resonates with and helps so many others.

I recently read a brilliant blogpost by Kris Carr (of Crazy, Sexy Cancer fame), on this subject, which I am incorporating below.  It’s something that I’m sure I’ll re-read from time to time! You can find the original post here.

Finding your purpose

Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do. There, I said it. Your purpose is actually quite simple, it’s to awaken. To discover and nurture who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. The more you do this, the more aware and present you become, which creates more harmony in your life. Everything else is your burning passion, your inspired mission, your job, your love-fueled hobby, etc. Those things are powerful and very worthy, but they’re not your purpose. Your purpose is much, much bigger than that.

My deeper understanding of purpose feels right in the soul of my bones. It diffuses the ache of separateness I experience when my work isn’t appreciated or when my efforts are overlooked or criticized. Sometimes folks will treasure your work, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes you’ll get the gig, sometimes you won’t. You’ll be on the marquee and you’ll be passé. You’ll be thanked and you’ll be taken for granted. You’ll give and you’ll get nothing in return. You’ll be “Liked” and you’ll be unfriended. That’s life. But, so then what? You have no purpose or meaning?

Absolutely, positively not. Can you see how tying your worth to that yo-yo circus will only make you feel depleted, depressed and even resentful? Anchor your purpose within, sweet friend. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself drifting out at sea again and again.

What if your purpose is very different than what you’ve been taught to believe?

  • What if your purpose is to build an everlasting relationship with yourself? To fall deeply in love with precious you? This isn’t self-centered or selfish, it’s self-expansive. Interconnected. Conscious.
  • What if your purpose is to forgive yourself and others? And by doing so, to allow warm waves of compassion to wash over the entire planet (yourself included).
  • What if your purpose is to gently heal all self-injury? And by doing so, to become a mentor and role model for others to do the same.
  • What if your purpose is to release all shame and feelings of unworthiness? Guess what you’ll find behind those feelings? Vulnerability—where your true strength and courage reside.
  • Shall we talk about perfection? Yes, I think we must. What if your purpose is to teach yourself that there is no such thing as perfection and that your never ending pursuit of it is destroying your life and your relationships? Let it go.
  • What if your purpose is to speak kindly to yourself so that you elevate your energy and the world around you?
  • What if your purpose is to develop an everlasting faith in yourself? To remember your holiness and treat yourself accordingly. The deeper your faith gets, the stronger your connection to a higher power.
  • What if your purpose is to take impeccable care of yourself so that you have the energy and joy to serve others?
  • What if your purpose is to sit still and listen to the wise voice within? We all have a choice about whether or not to attach to the crazy swirling around in our heads, hearts and universe. Stay open to your inner guidance and chose another way when needed.

And lastly …

What if your purpose (or invitation) is to actually bear witness to your suffering? To honor and acknowledge it in order to move through it. “They” say that “suffering is optional.” But I’m not so sure about that. Plus, I’m not so sure that the people who believe this have truly experienced suffering. I may have agreed with this at one point. But that was before my experience of loss, sickness and cancer. Today, I think suffering is inevitable in some way. The trick is to learn how to move out of it, or at least make peace with it, once we get the nugget and are ready to apply the lessons. Note: Residual pain may remain, and that’s OK, but at some point we can begin to thaw it out in order to embrace our one great, brilliant life.

What if finding your purpose is about finding and nurturing yourself?

Not an external to-do or accomplishment, even if that to-do or accomplishment is the most important discovery of all time. Because if you are the one destined to find the most important ah-ha of all time, you will probably find it quicker and easier if you feel good, loved and happy. Start there. It’s that simple.

Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t love my job (or you) or that I’m going to quit in any way. I cherish my work and all of my readers. And it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start an orphanage or save animals or empower women or teach people how to file taxes. It means that you no longer need to connect your personal self-worth with a plaque on the wall.

Your self-worth has nothing to do with your craft or calling and everything to do with how you treat yourself and others.

I’ve met brilliant and effective activists who I have gallons of respect for but who are dirty messes inside. Mean messes. Bitter messes. Sad messes. Jaded, cranky-ass messes. And guess what? Their reach and impact reflects their attitude. Imagine what they could accomplish if they moved from loathing to love, if they knew that no matter how important their mission, their inner purpose matters even more. Folks are like plants, we all lean towards the light.

You are the light. Your inner purpose is to connect with that light. Everything else will follow in time

The Light Within You

You have extraordinary treasures within you…and bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.

Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic. Creative Living Beyond Fear

 

Our calling is to bring light – like Jesus – so that when we step into the worlds of others, we bring His peace to every person and enlighten the dark places of the world.

Sally Clarkson – Own Your Life

 

Take a Walk with Me…

 

It’s been a busy summer with the kids home from school.  There hasn’t been a lot of quiet time to pursue my own projects.  But, then again, I don’t think my head has been in that creative space either.  The summer has been about enjoying the sunshine as much as possible, swimming and hosting friends and family.  It has been a good summer! And part of it have been the glorious walks in the woods with my trusty poodle Farley.  He’s a great walking companion.  One of the things he always does is run up ahead, then stop and look back to make sure I’m coming. Here are some photos, I’ve taken along the way (I’ve become a bit of a photo junkie trying to capture the beauty around me.)

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What Matters Most? An Exercise to Determine Your Values.

I’ve been taking some time to read (memoirs like Home Grown. Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World by Ben Hewitt. and Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan, cookbooks like Gwyneth Paltrow’s, It’s All Good, and Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner the Playbook. And another book, which defies easy description, entitled, A Hidden Wholeness. The Journey Toward An Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer, which I hope to write more about soon. I wholeheartedly recommend all of these (fyi: I don’t have an affiliate link with amazon, I just think these books are good reads :))

I’m also taking a course through the online university known as edx.org, which you can learn more about here. It is an open source platform available to everyone and there are courses in any subject you can think of.  The course I’m taking is titled, Becoming a Resilient Person: The Science of Stress Management and Promoting Well-Being. This brings me to the real subject matter of this post:  exploring our values in order to determine whether we’re on track with what matters most to us.  And for clarity, our values are principles that we hold dear in life, or what we consider to be important in life. For example, some people really value strong family ties, or telling the truth, or creativity, or learning about other cultures, or being a life-long learner, or being connected to the natural world, etc.

Here’s what I learned in Lesson 2.  Firstly, that we need to accept stress as being a part of life and that it’s never going to go away.  We need to acknowledge it and let it be there, all the while staying focused on what matters most to us.  Secondly, we keep ourselves focused on what matters most by understanding our values and living our lives from those values.  If we do this, we will know that we are on track and living the life we are hoping for.  Sounds simple enough! 😉

I also want to share the exercise we are doing called, The Bull’s Eye Exercise.  The first part of this exercise is to Identify Your Values in the following four domains of your life:  Work/Education, Leisure/Recreation (Your Time), Relationships (Family and Friends) and Personal Growth/Health. Get out a sheet of paper and for each of these areas answer the following questions:

What would you value if there were nothing in your way, nothing stopping you? What’s important to you? What do you care about? What would you like to work towards? Reflect on the way you would like your life to go over time, not on a specific goal.

The exercise then has you plot on a bull’s eye drawing, which has been divided into four quadrants, each representing an area of your life (as noted above), an X where you think you are in each of these areas.  In other words, how close to the centre or bull’s eye are you in each area of your life?

So, in each of the four areas of your life you can determine, by where you place the X, whether you are living fully by your values in that particular domain or whether you’ve lost touch with your values in that domain.

The next steps are exploring the obstacles to living the life you would like, based on the values you expressed, and then coming up with an action plan for what you can do in your daily life that will let you know that you are making progress in each area of your life. The exercise states, “these actions could be small steps toward a particular goal, or they could just be actions that reflect what you want to be about as a person. Usually taking a valued step includes being willing to encounter the obstacle(s) you identified and taking action anyway.  Try to identify at least one value based action you are willing to take during this coming week, in each of the four domains.”

I haven’t completed the exercise yet, but exploring my values is a very helpful process because it helps me figure out how I should be spending my time.  Lately, I’ve felt somewhat aimless and unproductive (even though I’m still doing all the stuff required to care for two kids, a husband, a dog and a house!).  This exercise is helping me to pick up the thread of my life and to shine a light in the direction I need to go, in order to live my life on purpose.  I hope it helps you too.