Inspiration & Creativity

Book Inspiration #1. "Take the Opportunity."

Book Inspiration #1. “Take the opportunity.”

Each interviewee offered insights that were honest, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant. In this new series, I’m going to share nuggets that inspired me.

Joel talked openly about serious challenges he experienced in his life and said something that stood out:

One thing I can say about myself is that when an opportunity presented itself, I took it, and I acted on it. You have to take advantage of opportunity. You have to actively be open to things and when they are there, take that chance.

Take the opportunity. Take the chance.

It makes me think of opportunities that were offered to me, the ones I accepted and went for and those I didn’t. When do we stay in our familiar comfort zone and not take the opportunities offered to us? What opportunities do we cast aside out of fear?

Travel when someone invites you.
Go to the party or networking event.
Go out on the romantic date.
Be the first one to say "Hello."
Take your body on a physical adventure.
Really explore the suggestion to study, work or live in another city or country.
Accept the invitation, to go to choir or improv or dance.
Start the scary conversation. Talk about the taboo topic.
Tell family and friends that you love them.
Express yourself.
Be the one to invite others.
Get up on stage. Sing, dance, deliver a speech or talk.
Take yourself out on a solo leisure date.
Have a conversation, about aging, growing older, death and dying. That’s an opportunity I wish everyone takes.

Take the opportunity. Take the chance. Oh yes.

 Photo credit: Suresh Kumar on Unsplash

Photo credit: Suresh Kumar on Unsplash

 

 

Gawd Forbid we are complex: Accepting complexity in ourselves

complexblogphoto There are moments in life that can be challenging and confusing for us. Making sense of it, trying to understand life, others and ourselves can be like figuring out some intricate moving 4D puzzle. Very difficult and overwhelming. Instead of staying with the overwhelm, we often choose to simplify how we see others, simply how we see the world, and simplify our sense of self to understand and manage difficult situations.

So we’ll take a quiz, fill out a questionnaire or complete an assessment that will help us figure ourselves out and give us THE answer - which career is best for us, who is best for us to mate with, what food is best for us, etc. They can help us and they also validate what we already know about ourselves.

“What’s your astrological sign? What Myers Briggs type are you? Are you a Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, Millenial? What classification are you in the DSM-V? What political party do you support? What Ayurvedic type are you?”

“Gawd forbid” we are complex. Gawd forbid that we be textured with many layers. Gawd forbid that we continue to be revealed to ourselves.

Being “this” type or “that” label restricts you and me and us from stretching into new places. We are so much more than being slotted into some category for someone to understand us, or make us safe to them. We are so much more than being slotted into a type so we understand ourselves better.

It might lessen the fear, It might quieten the Saboteur voice(s), It might temper the anxiety, when a quiz or an expert says you are this or that.

Perhaps this is why as we mature, we understand less. Our capacity to embrace complexity expands with maturity, gently moving us away from the all-or-nothing, black-and-white constructs of meaning making. Being able to tolerate complexity includes holding duality, this and that, paradoxical ideas, and seemingly conflicting thoughts and beliefs.

“Gawd forbid” that we have nuances. Gawd forbid that we do not have the answer, have an answer, amidst the chaos.

It takes away our opportunity to embrace our colourful layers to become this and that to be this and that to believe this and that to be young and old attractive and ugly smart and naive serious and silly strong and weak.

It takes away the possibility to be more to expand our sense of self to deepen our spiritual understanding to heal ourself to carve our own way to grow in the spaces that we choose to be human.

It takes away the fullness of understanding ourselves, to connect with each other to cross generation, race, religion, culture, gender.

We contain within us a diversity of beliefs, ideas, contradictions, perspectives and ages. Accepting the wholeness of our complexity connects us to our innermost peace and joy.

Prevent Aging By...

clockYou prevent aging by wearing beautiful make-up. You prevent aging by working hard and being successful. You prevent aging by drinking green smoothies, eating clean and taking supplements. You prevent aging by having a romantic relationship. You prevent aging by looking sexy and wearing sexy clothes. You prevent aging by making money and being financially wealthy. You prevent aging by transforming into a tortoise or koi. You prevent aging by dyeing your grey hairs. You prevent aging by dating someone decades younger than you. You prevent aging by lying about your age. You prevent aging by avoiding the doctor. You prevent aging by running marathons. You prevent aging by filling your skin with fillers. You prevent aging by not drinking, not smoking, not doing drugs. You prevent aging by wearing a mask — party, masquerade, Halloween or facial. You prevent aging by working out and lifting weights. You prevent aging by being productive and living a fulfilling life. You prevent aging by living to 120. You prevent aging by doing yoga and meditating. You prevent aging by watching your cholesterol. You prevent aging by falling in love. You prevent aging by having faith. You prevent aging by living in a Blue Zone. You prevent aging by applying anti-aging moisturizer and serum. You prevent aging by photoshopping your pictures. You prevent aging by weighing the same as you did in high school. You prevent aging by not laughing - no laugh lines. You prevent aging by not talking about it, especially with your loved ones. You prevent aging by keeping your brain stimulated with lectures, games and puzzles. You prevent aging by not looking at yourself in a mirror. You prevent aging by having lots of sex, or lovers. You prevent aging by being youthful and vibrant.

Except you can’t...prevent aging.

Surprises: What are the surprises we have after we leave?

Read the previous posts on this journey: A Dream Is Born and Climbing New Mountains. I have had several surprises since leaving my adventure-filled vacation in Nepal. A few surprises happened immediately upon leaving, others took weeks and months.

Surprise 1. The sun knows best. I was surprised to find out how much I enjoy rising before the sun and setting not long after the sun. i sleep better and more soundly when I follow the sun’s lead (most days).

Surprise 2. How little I need. Shelter, food, water, clothing, heat and electricity — the basics. It makes me wonder about the messages trying to persuade me to buy or do something because I need it. Not really the truth though. Do I need more clothes? More accessories? More decorations, more tech, more pretty shiny things? Nope.

Surprise 3. I enjoy smelling natural and earthy. I liked trekking and not showering, not shaving, not washing my hair and not laundering my clothes. I felt powerful, primitive and rebellious. It was so contrary to the North American ideal of cleanliness using a gazillion hygiene products to not smell, to not smell each other. I like knowing how I actually smell.

Surprise 4.How much stuff I have AND how hard it is for me to part with *my* stuff. The trek leaders offered us the opportunity to donate clothing at the end and it was a struggle for me. I rationalized that I would need the items when I travelled on or would continue to wear them when I returned home. Which I did and do. And I could have given stuff away and been fine. I had an opportunity to let go, to share and be generous. I realize it is not easy to detach from “It’s mine” and “I still need this”.

DSCN0986
DSCN0986

Surprise 5. The power of sticking to a daily plan. The trek leaders kept our group on a firm schedule which kept me focused, striving and challenged. Without it I probably would have stayed an extra day to rest my sick, puking stomach and then got caught in the snowy mess ahead preventing me from climbing higher and reaching base camp. Sticking to a plan made the difference between getting “there” and not.

Surprise 6. The intensity of North American consumerism and consumption. It was a shocking surprise to return to North American culture and values and be met with December holiday commercialism, the superficiality of celebrity culture, retail culture, and fitness culture. I felt bombarded by the amount that was promoted, marketed and sold to me, especially with the focus on “you you you” and “me, me, me” rather than “we we we” or “us us us”.

Surprise 7. Feeling spiritually full. I noticed how it felt to shift from feeling spiritually full to empty. I experienced having my spirit feel sumptuously full and fulfilled that my body needed little food to energize itself. I felt energized by what I was experiencing, seeing and doing. In contrast, I noticed the spiritual emptiness to urban life as the days and weeks passed and I settled back into a more sedentary life that was rich with resources and opportunities but lacking in nature, movement, community and connection.

Surprise 8. How the Nepalese listen and Canadians talk. When I arrived in Nepal, I immediately noticed how the Nepalese listen deeply and with full presence. They are able to be in silence, be with silence and allow silence to hang. In contrast, North American culture is all about the talking. Arriving back to Toronto I was surprised by the amount of constant, loud talking. We talk at each each and talk to make our opinions known.

There were surprises where my core personal values came alive in fulfillment and resonance, or when I experienced an inner chafing, a personal struggle of conflicting values.

There were surprising moments where a few of my core personal values declared themselves and wanted me to honour them more.

There were surprising places where I experienced a struggle between my values and those of my culture and society.

Surprising insights and realizations can happen when we leave anywhere or anything: Leaving a vacation place. Leaving a workplace, a job, a career. Leaving a relationship or friendship. Leaving home. Leaving an experience. Leaving a habit. Leaving a lifestyle.

Being aware of the surprises we have after leaving can not only give us important insights into ourselves. It can also help us understand and honour our true self.

What have you left?What things have surprised you since leaving?