Grand Delusions or Just Plain Faith?

delusaional unicorn woman

Yesterday I woke heavy, sore, fuzzy-headed. After dragging myself out of bed, I walked into my living room and over to my paper-and-book-mess ‘desk’ (which is really a crappy wooden dining table) and picked up the Hillberg & Berk catalogue that I had gotten in Regina recently.

My best friend had bought me a pair of emerald sparkle balls from the jewellery store when I was visiting her for her wedding. She told me the story of Hillberg & Berk, how the (female) owner of the small business now sells jewellery to the stars, was on the Dragon’s Den and has even been on Oprah…all a pretty big deal.

I’ve never really considered myself a fancy jewellery person; owning a bunch of it is not high on my list of priorities. These earrings are probably the fanciest ones I’ve ever owned, and it was so kind of her to gift them to me.

I love jewellery, I want to look good, but the priority has always been ‘cheap.’ And besides that, in my attempt to be fairly non-materialistic, I’ve never aspired to real diamonds, whether I buy them for myself or not.

For my entire adult life, I’ve worked full-time (and gone to school) but still have been in debt and living mostly paycheck-to-paycheck. This is what is normal to me. I also tend to buy cheap crappy things because (even though I realize it’s not the most ethical thing), that is ‘all I can afford.’

My mom did her best to teach me how to manage my money, and conceptually I understand this. Yet I find myself caught in a cycle of scarcity, a situation which runs much deeper than just ‘how’ we manage our money. I accept some of the responsibility for not being as good with money as I could be.

But there are deeper issues to consider… like quality.

Lately I’ve been getting more and more frustrated about my crappy furniture, the fact that I can’t really afford to replace my good quality boots, the fact that just getting a new (cheap) laptop to work on is a big huge expense.

It’s hard to have lived single for so long in an expensive city. No partners to split the rent, to take vacations with, to even split the chores. Not even enough leeway to do a car co-op thing. My friends are endlessly generous, and sometimes a date will pick up the dinner bill, which is a huge treat.

Mostly it’s just me, and I want to treat myself and my friends/dates too. I would like for it to not feel like a struggle to spend a little money on self-care, or get someone a special (local/handmade) gift.

After a brunch out and a small grocery shop yesterday, I walked home in the hard November rain. Carrying too-heavy groceries that were making my arms ache, feet soaked and cold, breathing heavier than I should be after only two short flights of stairs, I almost broke down.

Being this independent is simultaneously glorious and exhausting.

I’ve known for a long time that I have to start doing things differently in order to change this feeling of constantly being stuck, and for a while now I’ve believed that I can. I realized a few months ago how much the job that supposedly keeps me sustained is actually what’s keeping me down.

But it’s almost like I feel guilty for wanting something ‘more’; I mean in the end, who cares how much money my earrings cost? I feel like if I say that I want to be able to afford (somewhat) expensive things, I will sound like a pretentious boob, or like I have a (false) sense of entitlement. I will sound superficial, which is not me at all.

Or if I talk about how Oprah (writing for her website/magazine at least) is on my life ‘goal’ list, I would sound delusional. People would think I was crazy.

It’s just a pipe dream, they’d say. It will probably never happen. And besides, they’d say, why would you quit a job that has such great benefits? How are you going to support yourself? Do you have a plan? What about retirement?

What hit me yesterday as I was looking through that pretty catalogue, and wishing that I at least had the choice to purchase something a little bit luxurious for myself is that it’s about the choice, not the stuff.

The choice is about noticing those moments of feeling inspired yet tingly-terrified. When my heart is beating a little bit faster and my tummy feels butterflies because someone tells me that my writing has made their day better. Or that I’ve made them think about things a little bit differently. Or I’ve helped them to remember what makes them cry out of relief, or shine a little bit brighter.

And the choice is about choosing the quality work-the work that makes you happy and the world better-and not worrying so much about the cash flow.

Most real diamonds aren’t even ethical purchases so they are not important to my life. But what they do represent is (not romance!) quality, longevity, authenticity.

I may not have an exact plan, but I have a feeling. A really strong one-like, I actually believe that I will design an even more authentic, quality, free life.

And the more I feel like this, the more light I have to reflect back into the world.

So now when I wear those sparkle ball earrings, I’m going to remember that it’s about giving myself permission to want a more comfortable life. It will probably come in the form of joy, flow and freedom.

Kinda-sorta-maybe living the dream.

So my plan, really, is to go with the momentum, the feeling that I’m moving in the right direction. Because in the end that’s all we’ve got.

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Freaked out but happier than a pig in sh*t

pig

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” ~ Marianne Williamson.

I have been neglecting my blog for a while now, with good reason: for the past month or so, I’ve been doing a virtual Editorial Apprenticeship at Elephant Journal!  Most of what us apprentices do is receive submissions edit them (sparingly). We also do social media, and are to write (at least) two pieces a month.

It is a lot of work, and I am learning so much.  I’ve had to make some sacrifices (mostly in the ‘play’ element of my life, but also it seems as if chores and exercise are going by the wayside). Some days are freaking amazing, others are a bit of a struggle: what am I doing well? What can I improve on? Should I/can I write more? What can I write about? Am I learning enough? Am I fast enough? Do they like me?

It is the perfect thing for me right now. It is exactly what I need to do. I felt it in my gut the moment I hit ‘send’ on my letter of interest.

But at one point the other weekend I started to panic. I went into this sort of paralysed state as I faced the ele writing and editing work that needed completion, even though I’d created plenty of time and space for it. I’d even had a wonderful Saturday, complete with some morning work, a massage and some fresh air and social time at the horse races, one of my favorite places.

Yet my shoulders were pulled up to my ears, my forehead was crinkling up, and I was retreating into a ball on the bed.  I was paralyzed out of fear.  I had to go into myself and really investigate what was going on.

My life had been improving vastly over the past few months.  More and more I was realizing that I had (or could have) much of what I wanted.  At that moment, in actuality, there was nothing wrong.

So why was I feeling so…stuck, when everything was going perfectly?

I realized I was freaked out because I was actualizing the fact that I really do have the power to design a life that I love, to do something meaningful with it.  And although this required work, it was work that didn’t really feel like work.

Everything was (is) coming together, and this is the biggest piece of the puzzle to fall into place yet.

So when I fell into that funk and started to resist the work out of fear, I forced myself go to the computer and just start.

I realized, then, how talented my brain is at problematizing! My mind is (our minds are) really good at creating problems that don’t exist. In some weird way, finding something to worry about comes so naturally, it’s almost like some strange security blanket.  Like, neurosis is my ‘go to’ when I’m feeling some sort of stress, even if the source of the stress is actually good!

As I recognized this, I pushed myself into my work a little bit more.  Brain went wayward again…and I brought it back.  Slowly but surely, this became easier.

I worked through that fear, and I recognized when I started to feel better.

Then I realized then that maybe my fear stemmed from the fact that I could actually succeed. Maybe I was finally doing something that truly made me happy, and part of the stress stemmed from wanting so much to succeed.

I reflected then on the things that had brought me to the place I am at now, and a lot of the shifts coincided with me sharing my writing, and my passion for it.

It began after I broke up with my boyfriend and subsequently published my first piece at Elephant Journal. People saw it, people read it, people resonated with it.

Due to the breakup, I was also developing new friendships and strengthening some existing ones. These people were openly supporting me in my work, and truly interested in the things that come out of this crazy brain.

These were people that genuinely resonated with what I need and want in my life.

They know that this is my purpose, and they support it 100%.

Which made me start to believe in myself more.  So I wrote a little more in my blog, and I published a couple more pieces at Elephant Journal.  Then this writing helped to facilitate more new relationships and experiences.  It was me pursuing this, being vulnerable, that allowed others to see the real me.

As I reflected on my path from the last ~ 8 months, I made the most important realization, one that must continue to be a main inspiration for me on this journey (no matter how scared, or tired, or stressed out I might feel):

When I write, everything else falls into place.

Small changes are the best (most of the time)

Today, the Daily Prompt question is: You need to make a major change in your life. Do you make it all at once, cold turkey style, or incrementally? 

Oh man, I am definitely NOT the queen of big, fast changes.  Not. At. All.

At least, I think I’m not.  I am constantly craving change at a faster pace than it happens, but then I look back and realize, OK, so my life was pretty different a couple of years ago.  Still, I want more variety!  I’m constantly trying to find ways to fit change into my regular routine.  At least, I’m always trying to take a new course, or do a new activity.

I am the queen of ideas, sometimes making them happen and sometimes not.  Most of the time, I don’t have the time, money, heart or focus to make (bigger) changes happen fast, so they take a while by default.

Take school for instance.  I get free tuition (to an extent) but I also always work full time.   So I am obligated to take one course at a time, thereby taking forever to get the next certificate, diploma or degree.

One thing I’m bad at cold-turkeying (for better or worse– OK, mostly worse) is relationships.  A break-up should really be a straight up split – no talking, no contact, no nothing.  I get too flaky about this kind of thing, and wish I had more discipline.

I think that regular small changes are so important, though.  To use a somewhat trite example, a new hair cut /color can do wonders!  I’m not the queen of dramatic hair changes, but I like to make small ones regularly, and then once every few years do something a little drastic.

I’ve been waiting for that big leap-of-faith change for a while.  I’ve been craving a complete turnaround, wanting to make a move that’s spontaneous and crazy, surprise and inspire myself and everyone.  jump

Not just talk about it, but actually make the move.

Hopefully my capacity for this gets greater as I grow older.  I want to be braver and jump in with both feet more frequently.

But there is something to be said for taking the slower, more cautious route.  Creating the space for new things to come in naturally (rather than forcing fast  changes for the wrong reasons) can be healthy too.

I think that our Western society is much too ‘goal’ oriented: we want things fast, we want things now.  We forget that making one or several small changes leads to – or, is essentially the big change.

Practice doesn’t always make perfect: practice is perfect.  

The big change might just happen quietly, subtly, more slowly and perhaps more naturally than an ‘all or nothing’ change.  It doesn’t need to be too painful or too scary.  The path to the eventual big change might just teach you the importance of space, discipline, patience, consistency, faith.  Baby steps are OK too!

Don’t underestimate the power of small, consistent changes (if you don’t smoke for just today, it matters), or the importance of spontaneity and risk (ask that girl you like out already! do it now!), if the latter is what your heart wants.

A massive change, a clean slate – well, that can be a terrifying and fabulous thing.  But it’s not always the only – or the best – way through.

Being a naturally cautious person (who yearns to be more exciting), a nice balance of this is summed up in one of my favorite sayings: plan to be spontaneous!