No Full Stops

Musings on life, learning and soul searching…

The who, the how and the why 12 April 2012

Every so often I wake up amongst my full and sometimes frantic life wondering what on earth I am doing and how I came to be doing all this stuff. This is not to say that I am discontented in any way, but it does indicate that I have lost a level of connection and intention with myself, my path and perhaps even my purpose. It is both my belief and my experience that an awareness and acknowledgement of these three aspects of my life are key to my ongoing happiness. For me they form the who, the how and the why.

There was a time not so long ago that I didn’t even know who I was. I was just a person doing what was expected of me and what the people around me were doing. I was basically doing what I thought I needed to do in order to fit in and be happy. None of it actually made for a truly happy life and much of it took me further away from myself than I care to remember. It wasn’t until I really tuned in to what made me, and me alone, feel good about myself and about my life that I started to get to know myself. Through this continuing exploration I have made a firm connection with who I am. And I continue to evolve.

Finding my path was a natural progression of knowing myself. Once I knew who I was, it became pretty easy to see if what I was actually doing was in alignment with that. And many things were not. I made difficult decisions to move on from from certain activities and people. I began to seek out things to do, whether they be social, work or otherwise, that reflected the person that I was and the life I wanted to experience. All of this meant letting go of the known world of expectation and stepping into the unknown world of possibility. I didn’t and don’t always get it right, but I always learn something about me and my path in the process. And I continue to evolve.

Understanding my purpose is probably the most elusive for me. It’s reminiscent of the big and indefinable, “Why are we here?” But I feel it is absolutely critical to have some kind of an understanding of our own personal, “Why am I here and what do I have to offer?”  I’m starting to think that this aspect actually underlies the who and the how of us all, whether we are aware of it or not. I mean, something is motivating my vision of who I want to be and what I want to be doing with my life, and it is something bigger than  personal desire and reward. It is fundamental to my happiness in just being. And with this awareness… I continue to evolve.

So I wake up to the reality and realise that even when I am living my best life, it is in constant evolution. The who, the how and the why will never stay still enough for me to grab a hold of it once and for all. You just can’t hit pause on life in order to take a comfort break. Yet this is exactly what I have attempted to do when I feel lost in the frenzy of my own doing-ness. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve lost myself, my path or my purpose… It often just means that I have stopped paying attention. I get carried away with all the doing that makes up my life and forget to check in on how I am being in relation to the who, the how and the why.

So I know that I must maintain a constant connection with the who, the how and the why. I know that I must apply intention to how I am being within these three aspects of my life. And I know that I will never have a definitive answer to any of it. And I continue to evolve.

 

 

The Limits of Love 9 February 2012

I’ve been thinking about the idea of unconditional love for a while now. When I first starting experimenting with it, I focused largely on loving another person for everything they are, even if that included some elements or behaviours that I did not resonate with. No matter who you love, be it family, friend or lover, there will always be these differences, as we are innately human and individual in our expression of that. So the art of acceptance, appreciation and just letting another person be became my first hurdle in experiencing unconditional love.

Little did I know then, that loving a chosen person unconditionally is not the extent of what unconditional love is all about. I realised this when I became aware that I was not being unconditionally loved in return. While it is all well and good to give love freely to another, the way in which I express that will depend upon the other person’s response to me. In no way does this mean that giving love is a reciprocal deal dependent upon receiving love… That would be contrary to the term ‘unconditional’. What it does mean though is that my unconditional love must also include myself.

The question to ask is not, ‘How much does this person deserve my love based on their love for me?’ The question becomes, ‘How can I best express my love for this person whilst honouring and loving myself first?’ Applying this has required me to alter the nature of my relationship with different people along the way, however I have not had to alter my love for them. I just have to express it in a way that gives both of us the unconditional love we deserve. The limit to which I love and respect myself becomes the limit of the love I have to give and experience.

Now that I experience love in this way, I have become aware that the only limit that love has, is the limit that I place upon it. I can create as little or as much as I choose. It doesn’t cost anything, it will never run out and giving love to one person does not reduce the amount I have to give to another. With this in mind, I begin to explore the rules and boundaries that apply to the love relationships in my life. Even when I do unconditionally love myself and others, I realise that the next expansion will involve looking at the frameworks that this love sits within.

The notion of rules and frameworks by definition seem contradictory to the term unconditional. But I’m not sure if love for self and other can be maintained without some sort of agreed arrangement on it’s expression. Or can it? I am a firm believer in experiential learning, so I am starting to challenge all of my preconceptions of how and where love exists in my life. This includes those that are self imposed and those that I have inherited through social conditioning. I suspect that I am in for one very interesting ride with this, it will be expansive, exciting and probably a little emotionally risky. But with unconditional love for myself, I will be able to choose what honors me and what does not.

I know that the limits of love in my life will always be the limits of myself.

 

No Regrets 3 February 2012

You know why I loathe decisions? Because to make one sets you off on one path never knowing what the other may have held. I seem to have this deep seated fear that I will miss out on something, so to make a life choice of some description is agonising, because I want to have it all. I don’t want to have regrets.

This has manifested in my life as opportunity taking. One comes along and I cannot resist taking it up, lest I miss something amazing. Sounds great doesn’t it? No regrets and all that. But what happens is my life becomes crowded and complicated, always busy and barely present. I end up with a wonderfully interesting and stimulating experience high on quantity and low on quality. My fear of missing out is realised. But I’m not missing out on one opportunity, I’m missing out on everything in my frantic state of doing-ness.

So I decide to simplify. First I get clear on what my values are and how I want to experience my life. Then I look at all aspects and inclusions of my life: career, relationships, social life, material needs, learning opportunities and me-time. These are all held accountable to one simple question. Does this serve me? It is a simple qualifier that determines whether this activity, person or experience is bringing me closer to my vision for myself or not. Then I take a deep breath and do what I know I have to do.

Life becomes simpler and I become more present within it. My experiences become more meaningful and I feel somehow lighter. But decisions and choices come along everyday and I still find it challenging. Particularly when one opportunity will serve my vision for myself, but I don’t feel the timing or the circumstances are quite right. I pass it up feeling sick to my stomach, tortured with the question of, ‘Am I copping out or making a conscious choice?’ Is this just finding a way of rationalising the low road because the high road is too hard?

But in making my choice, I know I have actually taken a high road, one of the many available. My rational mind can convince me of anything so it is not a trustworthy source of information in this situation. I know I have made the right choice because I feel lighter, I feel inspired and I feel free. I know that while the other paths and choices will not be mine at this time, the one that I experience is right for me now because it feels good. So simple. No regrets.

What makes up your experience of your life? Is it serving you? What regrets do you wish to avoid? Check out this awesome blog post by Bronnie Ware on the top five deathbed regrets:

Regrets of the Dying

I choose to have none of these as my own.

 

The Duel of Love 27 January 2012

There are really only two driving forces in life… Love and fear. Any thought, feeling or emotion can be traced back to have either one of these at it’s core. When you begin to examine your thoughts, words, actions and choices to determine their driving force you will discover how you are living your life… Fearfully or lovingly. I found this extremely confronting several years back when I realised I had lived the majority of my life from a place of fear.

This realisation came at a point when things were at an all time low. I found myself buried in a life that did not fulfill me, did not energise me and seemed to be a constant struggle. That’s when I decided to laugh in the face of fear and choose love instead. I mean, things were not working for me anyway, so what could be the worst thing that could happen? And if that worst thing happened, what was the next worst thing? And would it really be any worse that where I was? It was from my darkest days, that I started to change because I just couldn’t bear to stay where I was.

Love did not come easily back then because my habitual driving force had been fear for so long. Fear that I was not worthy, fear of change, fear of the unknown and fear that I would have to see and own all that I was. What I knew I needed to do was to make up my mind to identify the core of my beliefs and behaviours, and then change them. In the process I learned that those fears can only be conquered by their polar opposite… Love.

Over the years I have come to see that presence of love in my life is completely under my control. I decide how much love I express, I decide how much love I accept and I decide how much love I feel in myself. And it is my opinion that love and fear cannot exist together. They are binaries. I am wholly responsible for the state of my life and how I experience it. Even when I face the greatest challenge or the darkest shadow side of myself… I know the choice is mine. Love or fear. And my resulting experience will come directly from that choice.

Love is not something you find. It is not something you get given. And it is not even something you share. It is purely and simply something you give. You give it to yourself and you give it to others. It is created by each individual and felt as their own. The limits and boundaries of love in your life are the limits and boundaries you place on yourself and on those around you. We are all playing our own game on the field of life, challenged to the duel of love vs fear. The question to ask yourself is… Which side are you playing for?

 

Running Out of Road 23 January 2012

Genre: Creative Non Fiction

 

Click here to read the story: Running Out of Road

 

This is a longer piece of memoir writing that explores the inclination of running away from the self.

This piece of writing was one of five pieces shortlisted for the Judith Rodriguez Prize 2011. To find out more information about this award click here: Judith Rodriguez Prize.

It is currently being showcased on Deakin University’s “Writing Evolutions” website along with the winning piece and other shortlisted pieces.  To read more of the showcased pieces click here: Writing Evolutions.

My story has been enjoyed by my peers for it’s real life drama and commended for my use of distinct voices. However, I personally do not like this story of mine… because I do not like the self that I had to revisit in order to create it. I suppose this is the nature of being human when we evolve into better versions of ourselves. So as cringeworthy as I find my story, I share with you on the chance that you may also relate to it.

 

Choosing Sobriety 9 January 2012

Genre: Creative Non-fiction

In the past I used alcohol to escape my feelings, numb my mind and boost social confidence. The decision to release it as a coping mechanism was terrifying. Here is my story of making that decision.

Click here to read the story: Unsocially Sober

Now many months later, I actively choose to experience and feel life in the fullest way possible, meaning alcohol no longer plays a part.

 

Feasting on All That I Am 7 January 2012

Have you ever really embraced all that you are? And I mean all of it, no censoring, no compromise and without a thought to anything or anyone outside of you. I know this is something I had never done, or even really thought was possible, let alone something  I wanted or needed to do. Yet I have tasted this particular type of freedom very recently and I am now feasting from its abundant supply. The sad thing is that I never even knew how starved and emaciated  I was before.

All of my life I have played up or down different aspects of myself in order to just fit and be loved. And I have played with this formula many times without knowing it, changing and growing in different directions, with different people and circumstances gravitating around me. Don’t get me wrong… I have never faked anything… But I just worked with the ingredients of me instead of the entire recipe.

What I have come to understand now though, is that whatever I am… I get. So when I play small for others or even try to play up certain parts to be bigger than they are, all I get is a set of reflective people and events that are eventually and inevitably unsatisfying. This then enslaves me to what some people refer to as the human drama, where I feel things are happening to me, instead of created by me.

So why not be all that I am? I think it’s because this is the most frightening thing any of us face in the human experience, until of course you do it. Something finally broke inside of me and I could no longer contain any part of me, or even dilute it for popular consumption. I just didn’t care anymore. I was underfed and spent. But as all of me began to express, and just be… my spirit became nourished and began to re-energise.

As I regain my essential self, I feel full to bursting, with morsels of myself spilling out into the world. People seem to sense this and join me with appreciation at the table of myself. I don’t hang around waiting for invitations anymore, I’m the main event of my own life. Seems crazy that it was ever any other way.

In the words of Maryanne Williamson and used by Nelson Mandela in his inauguration speech:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 

 
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