If Life had a Handbook;

It might read like this…for those of us who just seem to get hung up on the details…

You will disappoint people.
You are going to let people down.
You’re not going to be there for someone at a time when they really need you.
You are going to fail at things, maybe even a lot of things.
You are going to have very valid reasons why these things happened, or why you behaved the way you did, and it won’t matter. It won’t matter to anyone else, and it won’t matter to you. Everyone will have tunnel vision.
People are going to get angry with you. Some people may even stay angry for a really long time, or even forever.
You’re going to feel paralyzed by fear.
You will be so confused you will not know what to do.
You are going to disappoint yourself.
You will have a hard time looking in a mirror.
You are going to feel grossly inadequate in absolutely every way.
You’re going to feel ashamed and guilty.
You’re going to have a really hard time having a conversation with someone.
You will lose a friend, or two, or more in your lifetime.
You’re also going to be very disappointed, and feel let down.
You’re going to feel wronged, and betrayed.
You will cry in front of someone and it will seem like they do not care.
Someone will treat you with cold indifference regarding a problem you’re having.
People will see the injustice, and tell you it’s not fair, it’s not true, it’s not your fault, you didn’t do anything wrong, you didn’t deserve it. You will not believe them.
And it will not change a thing.
There will be people you desperately want in your life who will choose to walk away and you will feel abandoned and rejected and wounded and deeply flawed and unlovable.
You will feel so, so lonely, and alone at times.
You will feel so much pain, and inner turmoil and anguish.
You will think that nobody understands you, or what you’re going through.
But they do.
You are going to feel a fiery anger burning deep inside of you and you are going to lose your temper, maybe once, maybe twice, maybe many, many times.
You are going to do and say things that you will come to regret.
There will be things you can’t even imagine forgiving yourself for.
But you will.
You will have days when you feel wrung out and spent, and like you just don’t have it in you to go on for another second.
You’re going to think it’s pointless.
You will question your choices and your sanity. Repeatedly.
You will wonder why or how you got yourself into this and worry that you won’t be able to get yourself out of it.
But you will. You may need help. But you will. It may take time, maybe even longer that you want it to, BUT you will.
You will want to run away. You will want to hide. You might even do it. Repeatedly.
There will be times when you will just want to give up. And you will.
You will not feel like trying again.
You will choose to walk away.
You refuse to try again.
You will decide that you want things to be different.
You will try again, but with a twist.
There will be times when you will have no choice but to give up, and walk away, and you will know that you can’t try again. Something has come to an end.
Things are not always going to be okay, or going well.
You are not always going to be okay.
It’s okay to be sick, it’s okay to be giving less than 110%.
It’s okay to have times where you give no %.
It’s okay to not give a shit.
It’s okay to not want to do something, and it’s hella’ okay to say no.
It’s also very okay to say yes.
This is normal. It’s life. It’s part of the way we experience life as humans. It’s inevitable. You cannot change this anymore than I can change the number of species of spiders on this damn planet, much as I would like to.
But you can change your focus.
Take a breath.
Recognize that sometimes your perception can get skewed, that you can get caught up in it, and that your expectations can get out of whack with reality.
Reality is also all of the good things.
Birds that sing. Climbable trees. A lake and all the fish that swim in it. Mountains. The moon, the stars. Writing. Creating. The smell of pine, peppermint, or sandalwood. Swings. Campfires. Love. This reality is also life, and the possibilities are endless.
You don’t have to do anything to earn this life.
If the universe saw fit to bring you fourth then there is no need to argue.
Go and take up the space that is rightfully yours and just be.
No apologies.
No debts owed.
No strings attached.
You are so hard on yourself…..
You do have to kick your own ass and pat your own back most of the time and it sucks but you also have to ask for help when you need it…you have to stand up for yourself and tell people what you need, what you like, what you do or don’t want, what you will tolerate, and toughest of all, tell them how you feel….how you really feel….
BUT…
You do not have to do everything.
You can take your time. Take all the time you need.
You are allowed to screw up and make bad choices. Own them. Deal with them. Then leave them behind. Move on. Even if others will not.
And let other people own and deal with theirs.
You do not have to fix everything.
You are not responsible for everything.
It’s not always about right or wrong. Sometimes it’s more about do you want to go left or right? Up or down? It’s about if you want to stay turn to page 78…if you want to eat ice cream turn to page…
You don’t have to have all the answers or know how things are going to turn out. You just have to be willing to flip that page. Especially when you’re the author.
You do not have to tarnish your glow so someone else’s seems brighter.
You do not need to stifle yourself so someone else can appear to be growing.
There is no need to make yourself small so someone else can look big.
You do not have to be weak so someone else can prove they are strong.
You do not have to lose your voice in order for someone else to find or use theirs.
Do you see that’s okay for you to be happy? Even if other people are not? Even if those people are people you love and care about?
It is.
Things are not always going to be fair or just.
Things are not always going to be equal, and they don’t have to be.
It’s also okay for you to be sad, and angry, and excited, and let yourself feel and express all of it, and any other emotion you feel. Even when others don’t feel the same way.
Even if it makes them uncomfortable.
It’s okay if the pendulum swings your way once in awhile.
It’s okay to accept, and embrace good things happening in your life, even if they aren’t happening for other people.
It’s okay to be okay.
Yes, again, even when others are not.
Remember – You only have one life to live.
That doesn’t mean you only have one shot to get it right.
It means you only have one shot to live it.
So live.

 

 

Where ever I go There I am.

This morning I watched a TED talk that reminded me of something. You can watch the talk here if you like.

http://www.ted.com/talks/tyler_cowen_be_suspicious_of_stories

The something I was reminded of is the simple, undeniable fact that where ever I go, there I am.

In life we cannot escape ourselves. Although I have seen many people try in many different ways, as have you I am sure. I’ve even participated in some of these myself. Some people throw themselves into their work, and some into therapy to address the wrongs done them by others. Some indulge in mind altering substances to the point of oblivion and some convince themselves that they have to change their place of residence, or spouse over and over again because they just haven’t found the one that is the right fit for them.

Sadly all of these people have lost sight of the simple fact I noted above.

Where ever I go, there I am. I cannot escape myself.

Now I don’t deny that work is important, it gives us a sense of purpose and adds structure to our lives. Expressing the feelings left behind by past traumas in the safety of a therapists office also equally valuable. Letting loose once in a while also important, but not to extremes that could only be to your detriment. And yes sometimes the place or person may not be the one for you. Of course the flip of that is that you were not the one for them either.

The reality is however that whatever quirks you have as a person, whatever your flaws whatever your problems, they come with you wherever you go because they are a part of you, they are you. You also bring all your talents, and skills, and your uniqueness too, the things that make you special and wonderful, and great and an awesome person to know. Shut up, you are so!

If we accept then that we bring our good stuff with us then we have to accept that we bring our bad stuff too. We also bring our experiences. And all of these things combined impact the lens through which we see the world.

“Know thyself” is one of the most important quotes in my life. It is so heavily weighted for me now that it has become more guiding principle than inspiration. Knowing myself is about much more than knowing what I like to eat for dinner or watch on T.V.

It is a deep self awareness.

An acute awareness of how my experiences impact how I perceive and interact with the world, and an awareness of the capacity that exists within me to live my life at two different extremes, good and evil, but choosing rather to live somewhere in the middle. To me, it always, always comes down to choice, as adults.

Choice equates to one hell of a lot of personal power. And this power is in all of us.

Thinking about your personal power you can start to ask yourself some critical questions about your life.

  1. Am I looking for my actions to be validated or me?
  2. Whose approval am I really seeking here?
  3. How am I victimizing myself?
  4. What am I avoiding?
  5. How are my past experiences impacting my perception of this current situation?
  6. What problems am I bringing to this table?
  7. Do I want to respond or react to this?
  8. What action can I take?
  9. What choices am I making?

Choice is about understanding that you are not simply a ping pong ball bouncing off of other people and the world around you. Choice is about using different language, aloud and in your head throughout your life, in order to live the life you want. Choice is about using I statements. Choice is about abandoning the idea that other people, or circumstances ever have the power to make you feel or act in a certain way. Choice is about accepting that no matter how far down the road negative experiences bring you, it is your job as an adult to walk, run or sometimes inchworm it back. Choice is about accepting there are consequences for the choices we make and being prepared to live with them. Choice is also about accepting that you cannot control other people, or the cruddy things that come your way, so you don’t waste your time trying to change the people or make things un-happen.

Cruddy things and messed up people will come your way, and good ones too. Because that is life.

Life IS a mess, as Tyler Cowen stated.

Life is a big, consistently unpredictable, interesting mess, full of equally described people, and you, you’re one of them with this amazing opportunity to choose how you’re a part of it.

Mentally Me – C/P

Happy New Year!

Thank you to the people who chose to read my blog, comment and follow in 2014. This is my first blog and I am sure that many of you can relate to the angst one feels after toiling away at their craft and then putting it out there for the world to see. Additionally there are many who can relate to the proverbial coming out of the closet every time you admit to having a mental illness. Then there are those of you who relate to how scary it can be to just be raw, and real and vulnerable. But vulnerability is beautiful, not a flaw. To allow yourself to be human, and free enough to express your real self is very brave. So too is vulnerability strong then, and commanding of respect. Your own.

My wishes for you dear reader in 2015 are for you to be you, strong, brave, beautiful and free.

Free from the limitations in your own mind and soul. Free to stop listening to the wrong things and courageous enough to do the things that are right for you right now.

Each day is a new day, bursting with life, and ripe with opportunity. All you have to do is reach for it. I wish that you are able to feel this, and take advantage of it everyday in some small way. Time waits for no one but the only creatures discomforted by this are those who watch the clock.

I don’t know what the point of life is but I am pretty sure it is more than just staying alive, because lets face it, and not to be cliché here, but we do all die in the end. Living really is much better than existing. Just as inhaling and exhaling are far superior to breathing. So my next wish for you is that you will recognize that all moments in life are an opportunity to experience something more. Lean into it. Breath. Explore. And in the process may you find your real self.

See you in 2015.

Mentally Me – C/P

Lost in Translation

I  don’t like to get things wrong and I don’t like to fail. Who does? It still sucks, even though it is an opportunity to learn and grow. I have been laying low the last week or so trying to regroup and recover from my latest failure.

Not that long ago I started a one person campaign to post a reason to celebrate on twitter every single day for the next year. (#ReasontoCelebrate). I had decided to do this because I had become aware of a man out there somewhere in the world who could find no reason to celebrate in his life and that had really struck a chord with me. I wondered how many other people out there were like him and thought I could perhaps do something about it by offering to provide a small reason myself.

If you would like to read the original blog  post it is called National Potato Day and can be  found here;  https://my43cents.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/national-potato-day/

I have now decided to abandon that campaign for the following reason. People were not fully understanding the point behind my tweets and some even thought I was making light of depression and mental health, which I was not. I really and truly believed in what I was doing, the message was just being lost in translation, and I guess it was a harder message to get across in 140 characters or less than I thought. Rather than catching on like I had hoped it would, instead I lost followers, and respect. An unfortunate result, but I was more bothered by the idea that people thought my intention was anything less than a sincere desire to help in some small way.

I had picked obscure random holidays like National Potato Day not so that I could make light of the very serious issue of mental illness, but rather so that the reason would be deliberately small, and neutral and therefore unlikely to trigger any negative reaction in someone due to bad memories or unrealistic expectations for the day as might happen with a more well known holiday such as Independence Day.

My message however is still the same.

I still believe that no matter how small we can find a reason to celebrate every day. In fact I believe we must, because it is these little things that give us hope and provide us with an anchor in times of crisis and adversity. There are moments when life can seem to be, and actually can be so bad that the only reason we can think of to celebrate is our own meagre existence. And while that is enough, sometimes it has to be enough. I get that. Worse are the times when we can’t think of anything at all. I’ve been there. And these are the critical moments for some people, when the absence of a reason to celebrate means the absence of hope and the absence of a will to live.

That is what my message was and is about. Providing hope, and not just  a reason to celebrate but perhaps even a reason to live.

So keep searching my friends and find those little things every day that provide you with that glimmer of hope, that little slice of life that keeps you here. Hang on to them, and let them mark your days when they seem bleak and guide you toward the brighter ones ahead.

If you find yourself in a good place and come across a friend, or even a stranger, pass it on, because you never know how much pointing out the colour of the sun or the countless stars may help someone who is in the dark.

Mentally Me –  C/P