Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing

A couple of years ago, one of my New Years resolutions was to start meditating. Even back then, everyone seemed to be talking about the amazingly restorative powers of meditation. But how was I going to accomplish this? The first quarter is a very heavy travel season for me at work. Almost immediately after the Christmas holidays end, I am off on my first long haul flight of the year.

I found a resource through the Tim Ferris podcast. Her name is Tara Brach. I love the timber of her voice. I was calmed by her guided meditation and felt good when I was finished. I could easily commit to a 20 minute session from my hotel room. That is the only upside of travelling alone. No extra responsibilities.

Early on in my practice, one of Tara’s meditations used the following passage from Rumi. I liked this so much, I wrote it out from the podcast audio. (I didn’t realize I could just google a few of the lines and have the poem instantly).

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense. – Rumi, Sufi poet

What I learned today, from a review of Tara Brach’s book called, “Radical Acceptance“, was very interesting. She writes, (in part):

“My guiding assumption was ‘Something is fundamentally wrong with me,’ and I struggled to control and fix what felt like a basically flawed self. I drove myself in academics, was a fervent political activist and devoted myself to a very full social life. I avoided pain (and created more) with an addiction to food and a preoccupation with achievement.”

The reason I find this so interesting is that for many years, I have had a similar guiding assumption about myself. Though, I never took the time to stop and think too much about it. I also didn’t connect the dots. My issue with eating too much of the wrong kind of food was one thing. Driving myself professionally at a very high level was another. Sacrifices I was willing to make for my job, another thing again. They were all separate and unique line items. I listed these things rather than connecting them.

Well maybe I would have come to this analysis sooner than today if I had kept up my meditation practice. Sadly I dropped it because I felt it was too much extra time on top of the 30 minutes I had set aside for training. Hmmm, that reasoning seems so weak as I write it now.

Anyway, join me – out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing. I’ve published an e-book called, “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power“.

If you have not expressed your voice on the subject of creativity, I would love to hear your thoughts in my survey.

I am always interested to hear your thoughts, either here in the comments or Christine@dailycreatives.com

Happy Creating!

Update to “About CW”

CW Coffee_webI started this blog in 2011 with a desire to record what I see and experience in the world. The twist was it needed to be “the good stuff”. As I go about my day, make it through the week, I try to notice what is happening around me, that which has a positive angle.

I find, when we focus on the things that are right in the world, we tend to agree. This dialogue lifts the human spirit in a way that is very universal and inviting. We are brought into a welcoming space, feeling bigger than ourselves.

My blog is a collection of ideas, resources and photographs that can be used as a source book of sorts to acknowledge and remember all “The Good” that is constantly happening around us. Use this interactive journal to help practice gratitude in your life. I hope you leave here feeling connected to other people in a very wonderful way.

Welcome to The Good Life List!

A short list of interesting things about me:

  • I’m a curious planner. I hope for the best and plan for the worst.
  • As a young girl I yearned to be old. Imaging what my adult life would be like consumed me. It has turned out, (so far), nothing like I thought, and that is a good thing.
  • I hold stress and anxiety, “below the water line”. On the surface I look calm and serene, but underneath I’m paddling like crazy.
  • My husband is my favourite person in the world. My children are next, but I’m preparing myself for their need to fly, each day a little more.
  • Love to create things, working with my hands to produce something that I can look at and say, “I made this!”
  • My mind is rarely quiet.
  • Organization is calming for me, everything in its place and a place for everything.
  • I love to hear my children tell me their stories, little pieces of their personalities spilling out of them.
  • A conversation with my husband, if I am really in a bad spot has always been able to restore my confidence.
  • There is always a pile of books at my bedside, I love to read and will have 3 or 4 books on the go.
  • I love the effect of physical exercise. My mind is clear, my muscles feel strong. Cannot say I love to actually get out there and do it.
  • When I go through periods where I can post every couple of days, those are good times. Lots of good stuff is happening. I live for that.

Enjoy!

-CW

Call Your Girlfriend

I’m not sure how I found them, but I’m sure glad I did. The reference is to a podcast, “Call Your Girlfriend“, for long distance besties everywhere. If you are a girlfriend to someone and/or have girlfriends, I don’t need to explain the appeal of this any further. But maybe you are a little out of touch, as I was. So let me fill you in.

A long, long time ago, I was in school and I had some besties. Then, I left school and embarked on my journey in the workforce. What I realize now is, at the moment I started that first job, I kind of left my girlfriend world behind and fully entered into the world of men. Because, let’s face it, that’s how it was then, (arguably still is). And I felt this overwhelming desire to “fit into” this world of men. So I made the switch willingly.

At the same time, I met my husband. So I had a lot to learn about being in a couple. My girlfriend relationships began to morph into couple relationships. And then the moves. My career started to build into something above minimum wage pay and I was offered promotions/moves to another country, etc. My husband went along with all that chaos. And in the midst of all that, we grew extremely close. My very best friend became my husband. But, he was/is a man.

I developed some close friendships along the way, but it was so very difficult with all the moving. People who don’t live that kind of life, do not understand a nomadic spirit. And couples understand it even less. We were a rare breed. Then came our children.

Somehow, we managed to stay put at that point. For the last 13 years we have not left the neighbourhood, we even live in the same house. Our children have known a joy of home and connection to one place. They have been attending the same school for all of the elementary grades. But somehow I’ve held my breath.

And in this time, the world has changed. I’ve discovered there are people just like me. Those travelling sisters. We have a wandering past, we’ve done things. We’ve been places. And we want more. Just because we are middle aged, doesn’t mean we are finished anything. We are just getting going.

So it comes full circle. I’m at the point now where I want to go home to my girl-power. I want to connect to the strong and wonderful women around me. I seek them out. Some of these friends turn into besties and others build an amazing network. I draw strength and courage from them everyday in every way. I’ve arrived at the next phase of my life. And it is wonderful.

Angel

The last of my family has departed the Vancouver area. They all arrived at different times, but we managed to get everyone over to the Celebration of Life for Tory Westermark on Saturday afternoon. The program that afternoon was requested by Tory – “keep it light”, which was a hallmark of his great sense of humour. That sentiment was echoed by many of the speakers who took the microphone to share. Lovely stories and thoughts, honouring Tory’s request.

When Tory’s granddaughter started to sing, (she has an amazing voice), I started to fight back the tears. I knew the song well, but had lost connection to the lyrics. They brought up all kinds of emotion that was laying dormant, anything but light feelings buried down there.

“Angel”

Spend all your time waiting
for that second chance
for a break that would make it okay
there’s always some reason
to feel not good enough
and it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
oh beautiful release
memories seep from my veins
let me be empty
and weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

in the arms of the angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you’re in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here

so tired of the straight line
and everywhere you turn
there’s vultures and thieves at your back
and the storm keeps on twisting
you keep on building the lies
that you make up for all that you lack
it don’t make no difference
escaping one last time
it’s easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

in the arms of the angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you’re in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here
you’re in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here

On April 26, 2015 at the age of 87 years, my great uncle Tory, surrounded by his family, passed away. I was half a world away, in a hotel room in Kragerø, Norway. It took some time for the news to make it over to me, through the channels of my family. I was immediately struck by the significance of distance. Both the physical distance from my loved ones and the eternal separation from my favourite great uncle.

I didn’t take the opportunity to speak about Tory on Saturday. I feared my thoughts were not well formed and I might not make a whole lot of sense. While I’ve spent some time thinking about it since, these thoughts might still seem disconnected.

What I know for sure is that Tory was a leader. He brought his family and friends together and created a very welcoming environment. Conversation was stimulating, yet humorous. I came to Vancouver as a plucky 21 year old and Tory watched me evolve over the last 24 years. He was never critical. In fact, he always had a sparkle in his eye, a curiosity. He would often ask me, “what is the news?” He wanted to be the first in family to have it. My friends and I were invited to cocktail parties where we hobnobbed with UBC Professors. We thought that was the height of sophistication. Tory made a wonderful speech at my wedding, recalling the long tradition in his family of vetting a potential suitor with “the questions”. I learned to embrace my Swedish heritage from the example set by Tory and his wife Vida. The daily kindnesses, acts of simple gratitude, I will never forget. I hope I am modelling these traits in my own house.

As the weekend unfolded, we had time to chat about everything. We shared. There was laughter and a few tears. We promised to get together again. The question was raised, “What do you want your end of life celebration to be?” Hopefully we have some time to answer that question, but one never knows for sure. However, we have pledged to recreate this weekend next year – same time, same place. Until then.

Skål, Good bye och god natt!

Word of 2015 BRAVE

It is just before 6pm on December 31st and I’ve about finished my goals for next year. My little family of 4 is nicely tucked away in a small town in the Southern Baja. I have purposely kept our reservations, commitments and “have-to’s” down to almost nothing. In fact, other than getting back down to SJD for the flight home, we got nothin’ on our list. That has cleared out the mental space I needed to finish my goals. I started back home, but “my life” did not allow me the mental space I needed.

For the past 3 years, I have been searching for a way to bring the peace and calm I feel on this vacation, back home with me. There is a sense of stillness and focus, which seems to slip through my fingers like sand as I get back in the car for the journey home. But this year, today, I may have a list of actions which will bring me back, centre my soul to this time and this place.

Here is a brief summary of my main ideas for the year. These will pop up in many forms, my goals are quite specific. I think it helps to understand the intent, the feelings associated with the goals. Otherwise they are words on paper. They can easily be overlooked, forgotten and trivialized.

*Margin. I read about this idea sometime in 2014. The idea is to create margin or space in your day. Room to breathe. Time to think. Creativity needs to bubble up.
*Mindfulness. Be where you are. I have rationalized this notion out of my life entirely, blaming my never ending “to-do” list. I’m looking at this as the opposite of multi-tasking. I’m going to plan enough time to do one thing at a time.
*Gratitude. Only by focusing on gratitude do I increase my feelings of happiness. Full stop. The minute I spiral into bad news, my mood goes down accordingly. If current events are consisting largely of bad news, then I am going to be like a stork (my husband corrected me this morning, an ostrich) with my head in the sand.
*Practice. When I threw out the other “P” word, (perfection) I didn’t replace it with anything. This year I will practice all the time. Everything I want in my life is attainable, if I give myself the opportunity to practice. This I am eagerly looking forward to.
*Creativity. When I look back at some of the happiest moments of my life, they involved a healthy measure of creative endeavor. Somewhere along the way, I have lost that part of myself. I realized that I miss her dearly. As it turns out, I’m going to need her in 2015. Much of the heavy lifting on my list of goals will require creative work. Some of it will be “artsy” and some of it will be more “problem solving”. The latter has remained in my life all along, but the former will unleash all kinds of goodness.

Now it is time to play away the last hours of 2014.

Happy New Year or Feliz Año Nuevo!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/a50/20663480/files/2014/12/img_0217-0.jpg

Appreciate

Probably the same as gratitude, which I have written about many times before. But somehow, last night, when I was deep into the witching hour, I could not summon the tiniest bit of appreciation or gratitude. (The witching hour is what we call 5pm to about 7:30pm – the dinner hour when the whole day can seem to unravel at your feet. Leaves one in charge of children feeling very frustrated and hopeless).

So I’ve come up with a few things to appreciate on this fine morning.

  • The sound of the rain, heavy and nourishing to my garden. A rhythmic pitter – patter that has been absent for some time. Warm, summer rain, nice.
  • A break in the heat. While I love the summer and prefer it to any season by far, but we needed to take a breath. The dog days were at the height and everything was drooping.
  • My coffee cup. Small thing, I know. It is a signal that the day will at least start with a predictable pace. A beacon of hope.
  • These few minutes to myself. Making the coffee, preparing my morning smoothie, sitting for a bit. Waking up early to allow for this can set such a great tone for the day ahead.
  • My husband telling me he has my back. Even though I may have over reacted with the kids last night, (hormones may be a little to blame), he supported me and helped bring me back up.

Some people may wake up and see gloomy rain. I might have done the same thing, in a different mood. But not today. Your mood is 100% in your control. I know this. But it took a lot of comedy movie trailers to lift my spirits last night. A huge waste of time, but necessary therapy.

image

Gratitude practice

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

This week my creative assignment is to photograph the moments of my life. Those everyday scenes that pass by, almost without notice. Those brief snaps of time which are easily overlooked. Almost taken for granted. And if they were snatched away by some tragedy, might bring us to our knees in loss.

Easy, right? At first, I thought so. I love photographs, everything about them. Taking them, staring at them, playing with them on the computer, just everything. I started to assemble some images which may end up in my journal later this week. Turns out, not so easy to capture the little bits of my life that are part of my routine and are also moments I feel grateful for.

For example, I took this photo of the rain outside my window on a dark and dreary Monday morning. Am I grateful for the rain, no. I am actually grateful for all of it. The rain that powers my electricity, waters my plants, sweeps away the streets, fills the drinking aquifers, keeps the trees green all winter and the startling contrast it provides for the sunny days. If my window view were gone, or if the rain no longer fell – I would be sad and scared. (When I vacation in the Baja and dream about living there, I always wonder about the lack of water).

Rain

That was an easy one. What about my most treasured family members. How to capture them in a way that shows what I am most grateful for? While I can easily talk about my feelings of gratitude for them, it is proving difficult to get the right photo’s. In part, it is due to my children’s programming of popping on a smile whenever a camera is near. Uncanny, really.

Browns

Then myself. What kind of photograph can I take which shows gratitude? This is why Brene Brown warned us, “this won’t be as easy as you think.” Darn.

CW Shadow

Most importantly, this weeks lesson is about practice. Anything which is worth having will not come easily. Although, practicing something which moves me, happens to be fun as well. And the results are often great.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John F. Kennedy