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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”.

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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?

What is your body telling you about your work?

Waking up in the morning feeling unrested, pushing the snooze button a couple of times, wishing more than anything that it was Friday or better yet Saturday. Forcing yourself with all your might to get out of bed and start the washing and dressing rituals to get to work. Ugh. Work. You just know that something is out of whack here. We know how closely our bodies, health and work interconnect. We can tell after spending many hours working. And we can especially tell when we are not feeling good or even really bad about our careers or work.

Health doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It ebbs and flows with different life events, with positive and negative experiences. Certainly stressful work environments and relationships can wreak havoc on our physical, emotional and mental health.

There can be many moments during our work or career history when neither our body nor our health feel well and robust.

Sometimes it can happen because we feel bored and not challenged enough. For many of us, boredom is not conducive, maybe even harmful, to mental, physical and emotional well-being.

It might be because of our work hours. Working challenging shifts or long hours can be draining and taxing on our health.

It might be because of the physical environment where we work: no windows, no fresh air, poor lighting, tiny office spaces or little if any privacy.

It might be because of the social environment where we work: our boss or colleague is abrasive, maybe adversarial. Challenging work relationships can be stressful for our emotional, psychological and physical health.

It might be because of our work lifestyle. Not enough routine, not enough predictability, or too long a commute. Our work lifestyle can be wearying on body and well-being.

Some of us feel so stuck in our jobs, in our careers, in our lives that we are sick of it. We feel sick of it. And we sometimes become sick from it.

Our body might be telling us to make a change. Perhaps it is even yelling at us and forcing us to make a change — for our physical well-being, our mental health and sometimes for our very life.

When our work is stressful, unsatisfying or unfulfilling, our body lets us know pretty quickly. It usually speaks to us — through our sleep, our gut, our breathing, our emotions or a lack of vitality — only we do not pay attention or choose not to attend.

Sometimes it feels easier to stay with what is familiar and the status quo, stay silent and ignore, avoid or deny what your body is telling you.

The body is a powerful messenger. It has deep wisdom and knowledge that we can access at every moment. What change might your body be telling you, asking you, whispering to you, even screaming to you to consider. Are you listening?

What is your body telling you as you commute to work or get ready to start your work day? Maybe you feel anxious or uninspired about your workday. Perhaps your shoulders are hunched over, ready to protect you from the onslaught of abrasiveness, meetings, or deadlines.

What is your body telling you mid-day? Maybe that your legs and back are needing to move and stretch. Maybe that you feel tense or that your thoughts or emotions are in overdrive or overwhelm.

What is your body telling you as you leave your work or workplace? Maybe it feels tense or depleted, overstimulated or bored into super-comfort-zone.

Listen to the wisdom of your body. It knows. Its wisdom is true. It will guide you to take steps, to take care of yourself and your career.