Moments of clarity

This morning a coworker commented on how I ‘look glazed over’. Throughout my life I’ve heard similar things from people: “you look…” (tired, glazed, spacey). I think that they sometimes assume that I’m daydreaming, slacking, not paying attention or uninterested.

When this happens, I worry that I appear unintelligent, and I feel underestimated (especially at work), because in reality there is always ALOT going on in my brain! I am often paying attention to multiple (complex) groups of ideas while also being very aware of my external environment. I really want to tell this to people to try to ‘alert’ me of things that I know are coming (yes, mom, I am actually getting out of the way of that wheelchair even though I’m not actually looking that way!).

Instead of taking personal offence to these observations, I’ve decided to use them constructively.

What does it say about how people percieve me? When am I actually not clear? Can I ‘fake it till I make it’ to get more focussed? How can I work towards a lifestyle that truly brings me more day-to-day clarity?

One conclusion that I have come to is that I need more opportunities to express and act on the really great ideas, while creating the space to let go of the negative-analytical thought patterns.

After having realized this, I decided to make a list of moments when my mind has felt clear lately:

1. When I’m at the pool. Going swimming (hottub, sauna) absolutely clears my head, whether I’m by myself or not.

2. During a long walk in a natural setting.

3. While taking photos. The photo at the top of this post was taken during a long morning walk by the ocean. Just looking at it and remembering how I felt at that moment brings me a sense of peace. I just love the way the water looks.

4. When I’m writing, editing, proofreading (etc). Writing this post is absolutely uncluttering my brain!

5. At work: when I’m more social or involved in teamwork.

6. When people ask me for help and I’m able to offer an absolute yes.

What things don’t bring me clarity: envy, negative/analytical thinking, watching TV for long periods of time, surfing the internet for hours, making too many to-do lists, a messy house, fighting with my boyfriend, spending money.

Maybe being perceived as a ‘space cadette’ is not the worst thing in the world, because it’s pushing me further towards being the person that I want to be, on the inside and on the outside. It’s forcing me to bring more peace and clarity in my brain (and heart). After all, when my mind is peaceful and clear, this must show too.

Do you have a ‘moments of clarity’ list? Can you acknowledge where these moments of clarity come, whether at work, home, or play? How do you integrate more peace into your life regularly?

Thank you for reading.

Just a spoonful of sugar

Aaaah, sugar. We love it. We crave it. It tastes great, right? Really great? Yes! Gimme more sugar!

For many of us, sugar is the reward, the solace: after all, a spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down. And of course we crave it: in it’s natural state it’s necessary. It’s needed. It’s sweet and lovely. I’m actually referring to food here (but also beyond that).

Sugarcoating – in life – is sometimes necessary. It’s often good. It’s a survival tactic. We’ve all heard the saying ‘fake it till you make it’, which can be effective to an extent. Sometimes, sugarcoating can make life easier for everyone. Maybe you’re still mad at a colleague and you haven’t really let it go, but you pretend because it’s work, and you are required to be professional, civil. Even at home this applies: after all, every time we have a negative or judgemental thought, we can’t just express it. That’s unacceptable. Part of growing up is learning to control such impulses, right?

But what happens when we do this too much? The layers of ‘sweet’ build up into a really, sticky, hard coat. When we don’t have the tools or learn the strategies to stay clear of this, it can build up and harden.

When we do this for too long, and ignore the (sometimes messy) innards of ourselves, our relationships suffer. You know what I mean: that plastered on smile you wear all day at the office, even though your personal life seems in the toilet. It makes me sad, in fact, that much of (Western) society still perpetuates the plastered on smile, that perpetual ‘happiness’ is what to strive for, instead of (also) celebrating our messes.

So, we’re actually miserable, but all those messy parts are just stuck there, under the surface. For a long time. And the layers of sugar build into a hard coat that is difficult to dissolve (or is it?). Your real parts, the messy inner demons, the things that aren’t so sweet or pretty, simmer under the surface. So we look for more of own personal ‘sugar’ to coat things with: booze, fast cars, attention from cute boys, burying ourselves in work, distracting ourselves with (our own version of) ‘porn’.

Then one day we wake up and you wonder what the flatness is. We start to wonder – or realize – that something BIG is missing when on the surface we might be doing everything right.

So we go to the doctor in the hope of a quick fix. And what form does that come in? Pills. A pill that can take away this feeling of numbness, or anger, or the emotional rollercoaster that you try so hard to supress every day.

I think that what i’d like to suggest is: no matter how thick this coat is, real life WILL rear it’s ugly head. And it’s just freaking messy. It’s ugly. It does NOT taste good. It’s gross. It’s smelly. The quick fix that we seek does not exist.

It might take some work to break free of these sugary layers, but addressing – and embracing – the mess underneath is a crucial first step. And once we get to accept the less ‘pretty’ aspects of ourselves, once we stop judging and faking our way through our lives, we can start to let the natural sweetness of our souls shine through.

It’s a scary step, to reveal your messy insides: not everyone around you will appreciate it. But to really thrive, to love, we must not be scared of this. We must be able to find the natural sweetness in the messes that we are, for ourselves, with each other.

Yesterday I was uncomfortable..and it was awesome!

I had a couple of really interesting experiences yesterday.

First I had a dentist appointment. I had not been in a long time. I was freaked out and it was super uncomfortable when he injected me with that huge needle and the numbing started to spread through my mouth. I really hate the feeling of not feeling!

When he started to do stuff with my teeth, I could feel it a little bit. It was just a moment of discomfort/pain and I flinched. He asked if I could feel it and offered me more freezing. I said ‘no way!’ I didn’t want to feel more numb than I already was, because it just feels so unnatural. I was OK with feeling a bit of pain because I knew that he was doing something to help my long term health. I am also so grateful to live in a society (have the kind of job) that offers me health prevention options like this free.

It was, in the grand scheme of things, a very quick and painless process, and afterwords I enjoyed the relief that came with a) doing something good for my health and b) it being over! It felt good.

After a not-so-successful attempt at eating (sitting at the Naam dribbling gold dragon bowl items down the side of my frozen mouth), I rushed to the other side of town to meet my personal trainer for my first-ever personal training (bootcamp style) session.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a slight breeze, and we met in one of my favourite parks. The experience painful and wonderful! Again, I feel so privileged that I have this resource accessible to me, and that the trainer seems genuinely interested in helping me be better. It is the kind of challenge I have NEVER put on myself before and I’m freaked out. But it’s a really good kind of pain because I know I am doing something really amazing for myself. I see huge life changes coming from just this one thing.

Today I’m going to the doctor to discuss whether or not to start depression meds. My heart says NO WAY! I’m determined to find alternatives that do not involve numbing myself*, even if it will be super painful and uncomfortable at times. With lots of work – and the different kinds of support that absolutely are available to me – I will take charge of my health and do everything I can possibly do to make my life even better than it is.

I would rather live my pain and joy than numb myself from feeling it. I can and I will.

*note: I say this with a complete understanding that for some people medication absolutely is necessary and helpful.