Thoughts for Conscious Growth
I’ve been in an uncomfortable place these past few weeks and can’t quite get a handle on why. My life is in an in between place and I find myself distracted by unplanned and uncomfortable events. I also have this sense I’m in a place of questioning, and also that God or the universe has me on the threshold of something significant. I’m being forced to look at every aspect of my life and address what needs to be changed, and yet I’m not really certain what that change might look like. Maybe it is just as simple as looking at how I live, love or make decisions. Maybe this is something huge nudging me to take the next step.
Whenever I feel change looming around the corner, it seems to be accompanied outwardly with seemingly unrelated events. I recently turned 60. Those zero years are always a little harder to take, so aging has been on my mind. I’ve been offered a very interesting change in career path which is exciting and yet could bring some transitions into my life. One of those options could include moving from where I live…and I live in a place I love. My car broke down last month, twice. I’m facing the reality that this vehicle, which I’ve loved and which has been good to me, needs to be replaced with something newer and now, more reliable. I recently discovered a lump on my breast and am waiting for my appointment with my doctor to discover what process we need to pursue to find out just what is going on in my body. I’m in a new relationship, some six months along. We are very happy together, have a lot in common, communicate well together, see a future together and yet there is still so much to learn about each other. That unknown in relationship is always just a little unsettling.
I’m a gardener and a beekeeper. I sold my house last year and moved to a cute cottage home. My new home didn’t have a garden so once the weather warmed I created from the dirt and grassy weeds a charming little cottage garden to compliment my charming little cottage home. Being a beekeeper means I usually plant and garden for my bees. Flowers and veggies are mixed together, punctuated by two small crepe myrtle trees, flowering shrubs, a fountain and a wandering pathway. The bees are already happily investigating the garden I’ve planted for them and have found moisture for the hive in my little rock fountain, working their way back and forth to the hives, which are strong and thriving.
Working with bees and observing how they adapt to change makes me think about how we deal with transitions and adjustments in our own lives. When a bee hive is moved to a new location, the bees spend a day or two orienting to their new location. They hover about the hive, little by little expanding the space they fly as if to say, “Okay, if I go this far, there’s home and if I fly out a little further, home is still…right there.” Exactly how they orient is still unknown, but after that day or two of orienting, they are off exploring, foraging and harvesting the abundance of the garden and the flowers in the surrounding neighborhood. Bees will travel miles to find nectar and pollen if need be, and still know how to find their way back home.
So how does turning 60, major car repairs, a lump on my breast, a new relationship and maybe new work relate to bees? It’s not so much about the bees themselves. It’s about how they deal with change in their world. When their world changes, they re-orient, remind themselves where their home is related to the new situation and then get back to the business of living life.
How do we, in the midst of change, upheaval and new or different circumstances re-orient? How do we find our center, remind ourselves where we “live” related to all that is going on…then carry on with life and living? For me, meditation is a great tool for re-centering. Sometimes, when my mind is spinning and I can’t seem to quiet the chatter, I simply breathe slowly and focus on my breath. Deep breathing like this for several minutes is a simple way to calm, re-center and re-orient with who you are. I like to remind myself when life gets crazy that it is physically impossible to panic and breathe deeply at the same time. I take long walks, preferably in nature. Another thing I like to tell myself is that in a year, this will all be just a faded memory. Reminding myself that the situation is temporary helps put things in perspective.
The drama, the upsets, the bad news, the unexpected changes…they are simply… “stuff”. Stuff comes and goes. Stuff happened last year, and more and different stuff will happen again in the future. Stuff doesn’t make you. How you deal with stuff…or choose not to deal with stuff determines who you are. Become like the bees. Remind yourself where your “home” (your center) is and re-orient. Then get on with the business of living life.
So about that stuff I mentioned earlier…I was offered the job and accepted. It’s a great opportunity to impact the lives others on a broader scale. I’m getting a new car this weekend and a couple made me an offer on my soon-to-be former car. The lump turned out to be just a cyst which we will keep an eye on. The stuff happened and I’m still the same person…hopefully a little more centered and a little wiser about re-orienting in the midst of change.
Lately, my work schedule has been nothing short of crazy. Within the past month I've taken on fifteen, yes fifteen new clients. I'm booked solid two weeks in advance from 8am to 6pm. Every day when I wake up at 4:30 in the morning, the first thing the little voice in my head asks is, "What is the absolutely most critical thing I need to do today for a client?" Crazy.
As human nature tends to be, I try to explain away my busyness to others, "Oh, my schedule is just crazy lately!" What's so funny, and interesting is that no one, not one single person feels for me. 100% of the time the response I get back is something like, "Yeah, I know what you mean. My life is insanely busy too." Of course, that little part of me (and you have it in you also) secretly becomes somewhat indignant and I find I have to resist the urge to reinforce just how busy I really am...which means obviously (to that little part of me) that my ego much more invested in my self-importance than the work I do or my own personal growth.
The other day I was talking to clients who are both out of work and looking to start a new business. I made my usual little "busy speech" and got the same reply, "Tell us!" she exclaimed, "Our life is nuts right now!" Wait a minute! They don't even have jobs! That part of me who wants so desperately to feel so exceptional was literally up in arms. Now that's really the crazy part!
First of all, no one forces me or any other individual to take on more than we can handle. I do it willingly. Admit it. You do to. How much my ego is involved is my responsibility. Maybe I volunteer to take on some task or responsibility for purely altrusistic reasons. Maybe I love the challenge or the variety or the social aspect of being involved in a new activity. Overall, though, that feeling of overwhelm is pretty relative and the level of responsibility each of us can handle is also individual to each person and personality type.
How each of us handles or deals with the sensation of overwhelm is idiosyncratic also. We are lucky to live in a culture where it is acceptable to "talk out" those anxious feelings that might come with having too much to do. Some people find that exercise or spending time outdoors in some physical activity fills the need for balance. Meditation can be very helpful and that can be as simple as spending five to ten minutes focusing on deep and slow breathing to center oneself again. Others find a change in pace that a hobby or personal activity provides as helpful. What we all need to be aware of and resist is the use of alcohol or drugs to unwind. In this case, a little can be fine, but more becomes highly counter-productive.
What I've discovered for myself is that I actually need to schedule my personal time, my down time. Assuming that it will occur on its own doesn't work for me. In other words, if it isn't on my schedule it doesn't exist.
These days when I wake up at 4:30 in the morning, the first thing I do is spend a little time in meditation. It helps me center myself so I can face my busy day. Then, after I put coffee or tea on, I head out to do my workout routine. Exercise is a great stress reliever and, I find, a great way to begin my day. The other thing I do is devote time to daily conversation with my partner. He's my rock, supports my work and is my biggest fan...as I hope I am for him. Sharing a fun activity on the weekend with him has allowed me to put more focus on my work and clients during the week, which in some odd way, gives me a sense of more freedom. I also try to make Friday my office day so I can catch up on paperwork, review our project schedule with my assistant, get in some training or mentoring myself and touch base with colleagues.
The challenge of maintaing balance is always ongoing. Its pretty easy to sacrifice time to fit a client in. I find if I give up an hour on a Friday to a client, that one hour easily becomes three. Knowing this about myself, I try to avoid booking clients on a Friday unless it is absolutely necessary, which happens. Flexibility is part of balance.
Now, my next challenge is to let go of that ego thing which makes me want to feel so important for choosing to accept a full life!
Growing pains, life experiences that change us, philosophies, introspection and contemplation