Fear of Failure: Taking the next step

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Fear of the long haul

About two weeks ago we went on a Zip Line adventure with the office. I organised this team building activity with huge enthusiasm. It was only when we were at the top of the trees, clipping our harnesses to a steel line about a zillion miles above the ground that I remembered I am terrified of heights.

But I had to deal with the first wave of numbing panic because I had organised this event. The entire office was there, jovially passing judgement in the spirit of forming bonds and building our team spirit. Bailing was not an option.

So I shakily hooked myself up to the zip lines and did the test course. I shook, I wobbled, I did not cry or vomit. And I Survived! but that was only the test course. The real stuff hadn’t even started yet.

Long story short: I was scared shitless for most of it. I had an alarming number of moments when I felt paralyzed by fear. But I had an epiphany up there in the tree tops.

Trying to problem solve too far in advance will destroy your peace

Looking down a long steel line, or a long row of suspended wooden steps and obstacles and anticipating having to get through all of it was enough to make me freeze up. When I looked at how far I still had to go I couldn’t move. I was too scared. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would fall. I couldn’t do it. BUT, when I asked myself “Can you unclip this harness clip from where you are now and re-clip it on the next line?” I found that I could.

When I looked at the next three steps ahead of me, instead of the whole line, I could make those three steps. and then the next three, and then the next three.

I realized up in those tree tops that life is exactly the same thing. Especially if you have a depressive or anxious nature. Trying to look too far into the future and solve all of it’s problems before you get to them, will cripple you, and you will end up staying still, stationary, not growing or moving or having anything new.

I knew what my end goal was (to get through the three hour course and back onto solid ground) and I knew what I needed to do next at each step along the way. It was just trying to figure out how to do it all, survive it all, that was debilitating.

So stop trying to figure out how you are going to do it all.

Don’t try to figure out how you are going to live the rest of your life without someone. Don’t try to figure out every aspect of how you are going to get through difficult times, or good ones. Don’t try to plan every last detail of your success or try to figure out how you will ever achieve your goals. Because you will find yourself stuck.

Instead just try to know where you want to get to, even if it’s only where you want to get to next week, or tomorrow, or later today, or where you want to be living next year.

Then figure out what you can do right now to help you in that direction. Not how you are going to get there, or get through, just the next few steps. Panic LESS.

Stop trying to figure out how you are going to do it – and do it.

One.Step.At.A.Time.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts become Things

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e2427709ec04adf256d4253cb09f673dA quick one on how we create our physical reality with our thoughts.

Quite some time ago I watched this cheesy movie called “the secret”. It was super cheesy but it resonated none the less. The concept that we create our reality with our thoughts has just got way too much to back it up to be ignored. And even if it’s wrong – so what – you can’t argue that if you focus on being happy that you will feel happier. So it’s kind of a no lose gamble.

Anyway I have spent a long time trying to “work” with the theory. But like most things you can’t force a good manifestation.

Recently, though, I have had a few rock solid manifestation experiences. The biggest and most notable being the manifestation of a bedroom for my daughter.

I was cleaning out the stoep (that’s South African for a back porch with a roof over it) and I suddenly had a perfect vision of how it would work to close it up and turn it into a bedroom for my twelve year old daughter (She was sharing with her baby brother til then). I didn’t worry about the “how” or “when” or anything else. I was just over thrown with excitement for how great it would be. I totally believed it to be possible (even though I’m literally stoney broke and have no DIY abilities) and I didn’t doubt for a moment that I could get it done.

Now when I say I didn’t doubt it I mean I had not one shadow of an inkling of doubt in my mind. I saw it in my head, got excited about it, shared the idea with my daughter and continued as if it was already a done deal. Even though I had NO IDEA how I was going to achieve it. And you know what? It’s done. Not a month later the universe / God / higher power / insert your preferred nomenclature here, has pulled it’s shit together and my daughter is sleeping in a new bedroom, happily surrounded by her own things.

Yes I am incredibly and immensely grateful.

What really struck me though is how I managed to manifest something like this. It only took one moment of pure believing. Pure faith. No doubt. After that it didn’t matter that I started to wonder how I would get it done. The little shadows of concern were not enough to deter that one moment of pure creative power. Mind blowing, hippie pleasing stuff I tell you. Inspiration meets faith equals the power to do anything.

the problem is not the method. The method works. The problem (or challenge) is in believing in your visions. Having total faith, even for one fleeting moment, is one of the hardest things we can ask ourselves to do. It’s freaking hectic! But if you can do it you will have the power to create your reality.

I suspect that I was able to do it because it was for my daughter – someone else, someone I love. Who knows what can happen when love and faith pair up? There have certainly been enough stories about it, both fact and fiction, to warrant there must be something to it.

 

 

 

It’s okay to BLEND In

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In this era of digital media, we are all pretty obsessed with our individuality. It’s not easy to create yourself, to make yourself “something different”.

The funny thing is we spend the first half of our socially-conscious years trying to fit in. At least, I think so. We are so torn between wanting to fit in and wanting to  be “original” that we end up working ourselves into quite a state. Or at least I did when I was younger.

Maybe it’s the joys of hitting my 30’s – but I have reached the wonderful, liberating realization that I don’t actually care anymore. That in fact, it’s an entirely futile pursuit.

You are always going to have something in common with someone else – it’s the law of averages in a population of how ever many billion people we are on this planet.

On the other hand your individuality will shine through no matter what you do. There are no original ideas. There are also no identical ones. Never mind  two people never doing the same thing the exact same way, you yourself can’t even do something the same way twice!

Whatever you do in this life you are always going to shine through. Your special, individual take is going to be there whether you like it or not – tough nuts!

Blending In  – The Revelation

Last year I spent a few months listening to my daughter practicing for her school choir group. She’s a descant (she has a very high voice) and as pretty as she sounds I couldn’t help but thinking that she sounded a bit thin and, well, high pitched. But attempting to be good mother , I shut my own tuneless yap and let her practice.

Then came the night of the school prize-giving, which was opened by the choir performing three numbers. Well!

I sat in the hall, with my sister at my side, with tears streaming down my silly face. My dear darling sister was blubbing too.

There were a hundred kids up there, arranged from altos to metzos to sopranos to descants. They sounded phenomenal – but the most insanely beautiful part of the whole thing was the descants angelic voices all blending together to create the kind of sound that lifts the roof, speaks directly to your soul, and leaves mothers and aunties in tears.

The sound they achieved could never have come out of one person alone. It was the result of harmony. The blending and harmonizing of individual voices into one soul moving sound. It made me realize that individuality, though both important and inevitable – isn’t the only thing worth celebrating. Unity and harmony are perhaps even more rare and more difficult to achieve.

 

 

Forever is Now – a Tribute 

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“Just because two people don’t wind up spending their entire lives together doesn’t mean their relationship was a failure” – Ted Michael 

I have had a lot of reason for reflection recently. There is nothing like death to slap you with the reality of your feelings. It’s something you can’t  hide from. Sometimes it ‘s surprising what you discover about yourself.
Things you thought you had dealt with and put away long ago come screaming to the surface. Other things you thought mattered to you (rational, reasonable things) don’t.
The most resounding theme though, is love. In the end, what you remember, what matters most of all – is the love.

When you truly love someone, at the end of your lives, no matter if you made it to the end as lovers, ex-lovers or old friends – the love is still there. Not the anger, not the pain, just the love.

When my ex and I were still together, we were ridiculously in love. It was the kind of love that Tolkien would write about. The kind that moved mountains. The kind of love that changes you irrevocably for ever after. The kind of love that rips you up and shatters you into a thousand sharp, glittering, faceted pieces like smashed crystal. Admittedly it makes for prettier rainbows once it’s broken.

Anyway, I digress.

I remember lying with my cheek against his chest listening to his heart beat and thinking “remember this moment – take a mental snap shot – remember everything about it because heartbeats are finite”. And somehow I did. After that I would often find myself taking mental snap shots – thinking – hold on to this moment. Remember this.

Now that he’s gone, even though a lot of things happened between us since then – I still have those moments. I still remember the feeling of the sun on my skin, the smell of his skin, the feeling of total belonging, love, home.

Remembering made me realise that I have spent my whole life looking at forever through the wrong end of a telescope (badda-bing! cheesy- cliche-moment). Forever is not the endless continuation of something, beyond the end of sight and time. Forever is not All time. Forever is the end of time. Forever is something that happens in a split second. Forever is a holy moment – a moment where you realise your own incredible luck and are filled with eternal gratitude. Forever is a moment when your soul is at home – a moment that stays with you long after it’s over.

Forever is a heartbeat. True love IS forever – even when you find yourself weeping alone on the cold hard ground. You may go through long stretches of anger and hurt and abandonment. But when all is said and done THOSE are the things that you get over. Those are the things you let go of. But you still have the love, and you still have those moments of forever.

So where-ever you are in your story, no matter how you feel about that person today, be grateful for your “forevers”. If you have been lucky enough to have experienced the total agony and ridiculous high of true love at any stage during your life – it’s yours. Always and  Forever.

Bare Feet

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Whenever I am comfortable in a place I take my shoes off.

When I want to experience a place fully I have to take off my shoes so that I can feel the energy of the place through the souls of my feet (I realise how airy-fairy that sounds – my inner cynic is gagging – but it’s true). Anyway, I was looking through old photos this evening and realized that at many of the happiest and most beautiful moments of my life – my feet were bare.

That got me to thinking – a random little thought – which is that either the best places are bare foot places (entirely possible), or else the state of being bare foot somehow makes life better. I suspect it’s a combination of both.

(Please understand – I love shoes as much as the next girl. I have quite particular taste and would rather walk in broken shoes which I once loved than in new ones that I don’t. My red Converse are some of my most prized possessions in this life)

However, I still always end up bare foot.

I got to wondering – why is life better when you’re bare foot? The answer hit me with such obvious and instantaneous clout that I almost fell over – luckily I was sitting down.

For me, I take off my shoes to feel connected to a place.  Just like I don’t feel as if I have really been to the beach if I didn’t go in the water, I also don’t feel like I have really been somewhere if I haven’t taken my shoes off and felt it out with my feet.

In the forest the ground is usually damp and covered in soft, wet leaves. When it’s been dry for a while the leaves don’t stick to your feet properly, instead the twigs crack under foot and the dried sticks make thorns.

At the beach you can tell the time of day by how warm the sand is. You have to get your feet in the water and feel the salt and the wet or you weren’t there.

I even take my shoes off at the office and pad around bare foot while I work because it’s easier to focus that way – even if I do look like a little fruit cake.

At home I never, ever, wear shoes.

When you are bare foot you are more “there”. In other words you are actually more present. You are focused on what you are doing, where you are and who you are with. You are less likely to be worrying about distant things. You are present. The present usually lacks worry, depression, and fear (unless you’re in danger).

That is why bare foot moments are the best. because you are right there in them.

It’s okay to worry about the future. It’s okay to feel depressed. It’s okay to feel afraid. It’s okay to feel sad. I have spent the last few weeks in a state of heart break, reliving over and over again all of the highs and lows of my adult life. It’s been that kind of time. That’s okay. I am not going to even try to fix it. Grief is a normal part of life and I know that there is a part of me that will always feel sad about some things, even though the things I feel saddest about are happy things. strangely enough.

But it’s okay.

I have my shoes off. I am present in this moment right now, and when I look at this moment  – Life is good.

May You All Have Happy Feet

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M.I.A.

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Hi Guys,

I’m sorry there haven’t been any new posts in the last little while.

Life has been happening and taking no prisoners.I have dealt with illness (my own and my children’s) and death (my ex-husband’s) in the last few weeks. There have been a great many hard lessons which I may share with you as they become less painful.

For now I can tell you just these three things:

Love doesn’t end

Even if you have been through anger, separation, forgiveness, and time. When you really, truly love someone you never give up on them and it crushes you when they pass.

Grief shows you who your people are

They are not just the ones who support you, they are also the ones your heart wants to be near when you’re in distress. You will quickly realize which friends and family you can bear to be near and which you can’t, no matter how well meaning they are.

Life is short

And nothing prepares you for it ending. It’s a cliche, yes. But for good reason. You never know when things will change forever. Make the most of the moment you’re in. Be kind. Behave as you would like to be remembered. Always say “I love you.”

 

New Work and choosing Clients

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Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. 

One of the scariest things for a new freelancer is the terror of no work.

You will start off by taking on anything that you can find, writing for anyone who is willing to let you. That is how you start and that’s fine.

You need those first projects to get a feel for who you as a writer. You want to find out where your strengths are, what you love and what you don’t. It is, in a word: Experience.

The tricky thing is not starting out. The tricky thing is moving to the next stage. You will eventually find yourself in a place where you have to choose between clients, and maybe even let some of them go. “Firing” a client is a strange kind of terrifying. You know, logically, that you have to let them go to free your time up for the more satisfying, better paid work. But you can’t help worrying that you are making a mistake.

The truth is – you might be. You have to take risks sometimes to get ahead. You have to let things go to make space for new things. Yes, it’s scary. No, there are no guarantees.

Living to live, not to survive

One thing I have observed repeatedly is that the people with the biggest success stories are the people who live their passion. There work is meaningful to them. Your work should be meaningful to you.

Regardless of what it is you do – you should be doing something that gives you a sense of satisfaction. As long you keep moving towards the work that leaves you satisfied you are moving in the right direction.

You don’t have to be film star, a famous author or famous artist for your work to be meaningful. If we all derived joy and meaning from the same work we would be pretty screwed. You can be an accountant, a nurse, a domestic worker cleaning and caring for people, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you do you can be happy – as long as your work leaves you feeling satisfied.

Choosing your day (or night) job

–  and being happy doing it.

There are some basic guidelines to being happy in your job. They are not my original ideas, they all come from different places. I have spent a lifetime reading up on how to be happy and these are some of recurring themes that I have noticed:

Be Present

wherever you are, even if it’s not where you want to be, be there, 100% ,in the moment. Give your full attention to what’s going on around you. You are there now so may as well make the most of it. Another way of saying it is “start where you are”.

Have a Back Up Plan

I would never quit a job or fire a client without a working back up. It’s not a romantic notion, but it is common sense. Don’t get too bold and proud and quit your day job just because you don’t like it. That’s just stupid. Make sure you have something else working in the background to keep you afloat.

Make Someone’s Day

Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

To do something kind for someone else is so satisfying. It’s good for you. It’s good for them too. Sometimes the kind thing can be as simple as listening to them with your full attention for a few minutes. So few people actually try to understand each other.

Choose the clients who’s work you love to do

You deserve to be happy. I don’t know you but I do know this. You should be happy. So as soon as you are able, choose work that makes you feel good. This is your inner voice’s way of saying that you are heading towards the life you envisaged for yourself.Contrary to popular belief – you are allowed to love your job and be happy.

Choose Your attitude

Shit is always going to happen.  You have to choose to be happy anyway. This is probably the single hardest thing that anyone ever has to learn to do. And you will have to relearn it every single day of your life. Choosing to be happy. Choosing to find a positive spin on things, and realizing that you HAVE A CHOICE! Many people don’t want the responsibility of their own happiness. It’s a scary thing, having to be responsible for your own inner state. I try and fail often. But then I try again.

Choose to work for people who value your work

Yes that means the people who pay you well. If someone values your work they are willing to pay for it. A client who values you (or a boss) is going to make a commitment to you financially. He doesn’t want to loose you. If they don’t pay well you can be guaranteed that you are disposable to them. Needless to say this does not go for Non-Profits and works of charity and love.

Work for Free

You don’t have to go out looking for a cause. Usually the things that are meaningful to you will present themselves in your life. When you see the chance to take on something that is within your abilities and will make a difference to someone or something that you care about – do it. The inkling will be that you actually want to do it. It’s called “Paying it Forward” and it is a huge privilege to be able to do it. Do it!

One word of caution though – set up boundaries. If you can commit to an hour a week then that is it. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of either. You should be able to see quite clearly where the boundaries should be.

Be Brave

The worst that can happen is that you stuff up. As long as you have your back ups you should be okay. When you come to the point that you are compromising good clients because you are too scared to let go of your old clients “just in case” then it’s time to let them go. choose the good client. But…

Honor your Contracts

No body likes an arrogant know-it-all. You never know when you will need a reference. Also just don’t be an A-hole. Being an A-hole will not make you happy, and no-one will  think you are clever. So make sure you give ample notice, help get projects finished off properly before you leave, and behave as you would like to be treated.

 

So get out there and love the crap out of your life. It already is beautiful.

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