Wednesday 25 April 2012

"Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride"

"Destiny is for losers. It's just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen." ~ Blair Waldorf

I have never actually seen Gossip Girl, the television show from which the line above is taken, but I like the sentiment. Take the bull by the horns, jump and the net will appear, dwell in the possibility...

In life most of us like to be comfortable. We like routine and the expected. The unknown and unexpected is scary. There are so many "what ifs" so maybe it's just better to stay in this ho-hum relationship or keep the boring job or whatever. One of the things that you learn about when you are ill is perspective. Going through two major depressive episodes in my life taught me that sweating the small stuff is usually a waste of time and energy. That doesn't mean that I don't worry about things anymore but it does mean that I try to pick and choose what I will worry about.

Tonight I watched one of my favourite shows: House Hunters International. I love the show because it shows me how people live in different parts of the world and how people adapt (or don't) to new environments. Tonight's episode was a bit more than that. It featured a single mother of two who had recently survived a bout of stage three breast cancer. Pretty serious stuff. Her dream had always been to live in Paris so as she emerged on the other side of a major life and near death experience she made a choice - she could either keep her dream up on the shelf or she could take it down, brush it off, and try it on. She chose the latter and has since happily adopted the life of a Parisian, enjoying ballet lessons and wandering the streets of Paris with her two kids. What resonated with me was when she said that she just didn't worry about what might go wrong anymore. Her experience with breast cancer gave her a gift: perspective.

I have always believed that life is about learning as you go. We are here by the grace of God, Buddha, or whatever higher spirit you may believe in, to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. Sometimes the lessons are hard, let's be honest. But there's always a lesson. So here's another one that I learnt: life is short (no matter how long you live) and it's valuable.

I didn't always believe this, especially during the worst of my depression. There were a few occasions when I believed quite the opposite, in fact. But somehow I was able to make it through a dark journey and come out into the light again. Part of what helped me was recognizing the things that make me happy in life and the things that are unhealthy for me, and making some changes accordingly.

Now that I am well, I hold onto that hard earned knowledge like it's the Hope Diamond - I don't want to lose sight of what's truly important. I find joy in some pretty simple pleasures. Sitting in the rare springtime-in-Vancouver-sunshine watching my nephew play baseball and cheering him and his team on. Looking at the pride in his face that his family was all there rooting for him. That's what it's all about for me.

But what about you? What are your most simple pleasures? Do you make time for them? How about your dreams? Have you always wanted to learn to play guitar, scuba dive, take salsa lessons, or travel through Asia? And here's the big question: what is holding you back?

Oddly enough, until recently if you asked me what my dreams in life were I wouldn't have known what to answer. I think I was going through the motions of everyday life and forgot what made me happy.

Here are some tips to help you choose authenticity in your life from the book "Unclutter Your Mind - 500 Ways to Focus on What's Important" by Donna Smallin.

* Live with no regrets. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you regret not having done? How can you live your life today (and every day) so that you will have no regrets?
* Be gentle with yourself. If you find yourself slipping back into old patters, congratulate yourself for recognizing that! Then reclaim your will and move on.
* Schedule time for fun. At the beginning of each month, put "fun stuff to do" on your calendar to balance the demands and responsibilities of home and career. include family events as well as things that will give you private time.

Clearing away a lot of mental clutter has helped me get back in touch with what's important to me. I have some dreams now, some things that I want to achieve and I am going to make them happen. You know what, Blair Waldorf? You might be on to something...

KB xo

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