How you do one thing is how you do everything.
So .. I’ve been writing this post for a LONG time .. almost a year. I’ve written many posts but not finished or published them .. lost in the bubble of confusion that has dominated my whole life.
This is the post where I start to turn my old pattern of overthinking and hesitation behind.
This blog started as my ‘vehicle for clarity’ – my space for practicing getting my thoughts clear, and sharing them with the world – two challenges I had struggled with my whole life. It was my space for feeling a sense of my life evolving. But in an attempt to really shift my old ways and turn things around, I spent the past year ’embracing the thrash’, diving deep into the chaos and confusion of my mind and feelings, with the hope and trust that I will come out the other end with more clarity and confidence. Plus life threw me a few curve balls that challenged deep fears around losing myself as I got sucked into other people’s dramas and went into overwhelm and avoidance as a result. But finally I’m showing up here, messily and imperfectly, boldly determined to turn my life around.
One of my huge challenges around writing is I want to work out what I think and what I want to say before I say something. But it is by saying something, even the ‘wrong’ thing, that I am able to get clarity to work out what I think. When I don’t speak up, I get stuck in an oppressive overwhelm of thoughts, which then stops me from speaking up. So I need to let go of the fear of saying something stupid, and just say it anyway.
But before I get too hard on myself around my NOT speaking up, I will acknowledge that my not showing up here this year has felt like an act of self protection and of ‘buying time’ to get my thoughts straight. I’ve spent a lot of the past year reading (especially delving into psychology), doing courses (business, writing, enneagram etc), working in a completely new job and section of society – as a carer in an aged care home, and preparing for my new life. I’ve been making dogged progress on my business – but getting stuck around the publicity and money side of things – but more determined than ever to finally make it work.
Life path – clarity and completion ..
I started this year with a ‘space clearing ceremony’ in my house. I had been waiting to do this for YEARS – but never feeling ready as there was always something to do first. And finally the house was ‘clear enough’ to allow this massive milestone to be achieved.
Action is the antidote to despair.
Prior to doing the space clearing I did a feng shui analysis of my house and came up with affirmations for each of the 9 parts of my house / areas of life. I could write a whole blog post on that process and those affirmations, but I will share one area of the house I intend to focus on this year. The ‘lobby’ is a space in my house that is a transition zone between the main part of the house and the bathroom. This space also contains the laundry and stairs leading down my workshop space. South facing (in the southern hemisphere) this space represents career and life path. It has been in a state of incompletion for years, often filled with overflowing clutter, not to mentioned dust, spiders webs and mould. But the space is now clear and a good clean and a few coats of paint will mean this space can be completed without a huge amount of outlay. And given that my career and life path are what need attention in order for me to feel clarity and purpose in my life, this space is on my agenda for this year. The affirmation I have created for this space is
“I move forward with ease and joy, fulfilling my purpose”.
Transforming how I relate to people
A very old pattern that has had a huge impact in terms of hindering progress on my business has been by tendency toward extreme self-sufficiency. This has been a strategy for avoiding people which is a pattern I developed as a form of Self protection in early childhood. Taking almost endless time to contemplate and understand things is what I’ve seen as my blissful state, and relating with people has tended to stir up my anxieties and interrupted my peace and so I have tended to avoid social interactions. But I am finally challenging many of my limiting beliefs and seeing the origin of some of my unhealthy patterns of avoidance .. and so I am in the process of changing my experience of being with people.
I’ve come to see my avoidance of people has come from the desire to escape the pain of disconnection, as well as from over-developed feelings of obligation which end with me feeling trapped. My challenge around people has been that I tend to lose my Self and get overly caught up in tuning into and trying to understand other people’s feelings and thoughts – getting lost in that person’s world. And this feeling of being lost, of desperately trying to understand, of hesitation and wonder, of never-ending exploration – have been part of what has driven me to connect and to take action, but have also had me going round in circles, lost and despairing, and taking forever to do anything. But, as I write, I am moving toward a resting place where I can release this incessant search and settle with exactly what is.
My (first) word for the year took a while to emerge. Immersed in the creation of a book – ‘Your Word Guide’, I was searching for a word that could inspire and support me as I moved through this year. INSPIRED reminds me to breathe, be present, and take action without thinking. It brings me into contact with my heart and body, after a lifetime of holding my breath and holding back. INSPIRED offers divine support.
Random Idea and transformative shift
I come up with too many ideas to execute and get caught in the overwhelm of so many things to do to push ahead the projects in my life. These projects, typically, have been so many and varied that they occupy every spare bit of time that I have. Since they have been my primary focus they have also negated the need or desire for any sort of a social life.
An evolution of this pattern of mine has been the project of creating and setting up a business, in order to support myself so I can make my living doing projects I’m inspired to do rather than cramming those projects into limited time when I’m not working for someone else in order to support myself.
The random idea, which preceded the following train of though, was this: to select random entries from my 29 years of journals and find stories and lessons and patterns and examples of transformation within. But the truth is that I already have way too many projects on the go and I need to be eliminating, or putting on ice, many of my current projects in order to FOCUS (my second word for the year).
My lifetime obsession with projects includes an obsession with studying, learning and doing courses. I have tended to not only have multiple projects but also multiple courses on the go at any one time. There is never a time that I’m not studying something. And I think perhaps this brings me to the Why of my life – I have been on a mission to evolve. The feeling of learning, understanding and evolving has been my bliss.
So that has been my DESIRE .. my WHY ..
But the CHALLENGE of constantly creating, starting and working on multiple courses and projects is that I have spent my life living in my very comfortable and familiar space of confusion and overwhelm. The questions were never-ending. Every new brought new questions to contemplate from every angle.
And my constant study and creation allowed me to avoid the challenge of people, and the feeling of hard work, depletion and overwhelm that was my experience of interacting with people.
But the TWIST, I eventually discovered, was that my avoidance of people was the thing stopping my ideas or projects getting realised or my making any real contribution to the world. It was stopping me from getting the help I needed. It represented a complete avoidance and rejection of ‘society’ and of conforming in any way. This included money – which to me represented a hook or a trap of society. I was almost prepared to starve rather than be drawn into the servitude that money represented. Sectioning myself off from the world, keeping as much distance as possible from people, and minimising emotional involvement became my strategy for managing my energy which was overly affected by the complexity of people. Perhaps I was a ‘highly sensitive person’ – though I actually felt like I was quite tough. In avoiding the impact of people I was able to do lots of ‘tough’ things – like solo adventures of all types all over the world, and martial arts to protect myself, and braving the world on my own. But though I had done all sorts of brave things like backpacking into the wilderness, or motorbiking around Australia, or wandering around cities all over the world late at night, or sleeping in parks and train stations, and on and on – the thing I wasn’t brave enough to do was to risk emotional vulnerability. In fact, I had suppressed my feelings to such an extent I hardly even realised I had any. My solo adventures were like an armour against emotional vulnerability and I was a master at hiding out and disappearing. But I have come to see that my hugest fear has been around self expression. My avoidance meant I did not have to take a stand on anything, or to risk making a fool of myself or being misunderstood. By not showing up I could avoid being captured and trapped.
Because I wanted to be wild and free and unencumbered by the demands and expectations of society. I believed that everyone deserved the freedom to be who they were rather than what they were told they should be.
I agreed to be part of society and of someone else’s structure with my work – but I limited my time doing this to the least possible to survive. And with work, while I felt like I was learning something I was satisfied.
It has been over five years since I started Artistry in Play – registered as a business and embarked on as my major life project. For a long time I was in my element – starting something fresh, with no idea what I was doing but on a steep learning curve. I was creating from scratch, exploring new ideas, and enjoying the opportunity to escape on yet another solo adventure. But this is when I came to the fork in the road. If the business was to become viable, I would have to connect with people, open up and allow myself to be seen. This had me fall into a deep hole that I have been slowly climbing out of.
The MAGICAL GUIDE which inspired me forward on this journey and helped show me the way has been the Enneagram. Discovering the enneagram I felt like I had finally discovered the meaning of life. It is a model or structure that explains why people react, relate and experience the world the way they do. Learning this structure gave me a massive shift in the way I understood and experienced the world. It completely blew my mind. And it inspired me in showing me how I had been seeing the world through a particular framework. It then showed my how I could operate differently in order to have a different experience. This was the key for helping me to get out of my cage.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my cage over the past year. It has been a retreating to my comfort zone by withholding from reaching out to people. Reaching out and supporting people is something I have tended to see as my duty to do. I have been wracked with a lot of guilt over my keeping to myself this past year. But the reality was that I was caught in ‘the thrash’ – with too many projects on the go, and in a state of incompletion, and a desire to preserve my limited time and energy. I’ve been laying low and going slow on the public launch of my rings project.
Part of the new framework that I’ve been preparing to step into, and which has had me running for the hills and buying more time, is the act of being visible, expressing myself, shining my light and claiming my value. I have been in the very slow process of finding my purpose, my message, my brand, my product and my vision – getting lost in the exploration and avoiding the showing up. But I could wander forever, and in the meantime, I am expending lots of time and energy physically helping people who cannot help themselves. But my mission is really to help people to help themselves – to help people be independent and free.
The nursing home work has helped me reenter the world by throwing into the thick of life. The pure mundanity and complexity of life, physically, socially and emotionally. It is the opposite of what I have been striving towards for so long – to work from home, for myself, creating work that inspires evolution,
But I have been slowly building my business, my purpose, my brand, my message, my meaning, my foundations and my strength in preparation for what has felt like a terrifying prospect – of opening myself up, sharing with claiming my place in the world.
Being visible and expressing myself and embracing and expanding my energy through connecting with people is a complete flip in the way I have operated and found my place in the world up till now. But as came to me in a dream .. this is my rebirth.
Through Artistry in Play I am making a bold contribution to the world – using my limited energy to it’s best use by adding something to the world that can help to shift people’s experience of the world. I always prided myself on having a very open and inclusive and non-judgemental approach to the world – seeing everything as deserving equal importance. But this openness was achieve from cutting myself off from the influence and judgements of others.
It is effectively my contribution to the world and my re-connection with the world – and so, understandably, it has brought up all of my fears and challenges.
THE SHIFT (How)
Writing and PUBLISHING this post sets me free. Helps me get unstuck.
Releasing my crutch that had me get stuck in my head, in my comfort zone, and hiding out.
Moving back into contact with people.
Let go of worrying about what others think.
FEEL into what really matters.
Set a deadline (instead of forever thinking).
Take action (instead of hesitating).
Let go of old beliefs (instead of clinging to old habits).
Speaking out in order to unravel a lifetime of feeling lost and confused.
Shift from disappearing to appearing.
Share my thoughts and get feedback.
Sharing my message
Almost got swept up by hopelessness and despair.
Finding hope and taking action.
How the inner critic trips us up
How writing is my saviour
Words can set you free
Speak up and claim your life
Take action on your dreams
Words are powerful
Words create our world
I need to speak up
We are all connected
You are not alone
Being ‘seen’ is scary – but opens up opportunities for connection and possibility of moving forward, learning and evolving
Dream big, find hope, take action.
Action is the antidote to despair