Wishes for you…
Tis the Season to Audaciously Cross Things OFF the Way Too Long “To Do” List. It’s one sure way to notice the magical spirit of it all.
Step 1: Take out the To Do List
Step 2: Take a big breath and start crossing things off.
“I can’t do that!!” you might be thinking. Let me convince you: Your TO DO List is likely a key factor in you’re not getting to enjoy the season nearly as much as you could be. The list is long. It’s overwhelming. It’s full of unrealistic expectations. It’s in your thoughts so much that when you are doing something you enjoy, you’re thinking of the TO DO List.
So let’s turn that TO DO list into an “I GET TO DO” list.
Step 3: Across the top of the TO DO List, write: How can I make this simpler? Heck, how can I make this fun?
Step 4: Cross things off the list – pretend you are an editor who must trim a 500 word article to 50 words.. Your list will start to look like this:
TIPS for CROSS OFFS:
The Baking List: Cross off all but 3 or 4 favourites. Cross off everything that’s complicated to cook. If tradition has you building a gingerbread house that gets thrown away at the end of the season, cross it off. Will it still be Christmas without Russian Teacakes or fudge that you burn three times before it turns out right? Yes.
Kids’ Gift List: Still trying to balance the number and value of gifts for your kids? Stop. You know you love them equally. “Balancing” just costs you more and more money. If the list is already way out of balance – so much so that one child will be sure you don’t love them at all – cross the extra gifts off the list. Put them away for a birthday or return them after Christmas. A tip to simplify gift giving for kids: Give them one thing they think they want, one thing they need or that you know they would like, a book, and if you love board games or movies, add that. This could be the year that you’ve decided to reduce ‘stuff’ to help the environment. Your kids might.. maybe.. buy into that, especially if ‘experiences’ like movies or skiing become a part of the gift giving tradition.
Gift list that has you going to 12 different stores: Pick a theme like ‘books’ and spend a relaxing afternoon in the book store choosing a special book, magazine or journal for in-laws, parents, siblings and friends. Or pick a craft or baking project and spend creative time at home with a hot chocolate, fancy coffee, or mulled wine making gifts. Or buy them experiences like movie passes, gifted with some nice organic popcorn, perhaps.
Christmas Dinner: Can you break tradition and make it simpler? Premake side dishes? Have others bring a side dish?
One year, most of my family was out of town, and just my two daughters and I were going to be having Christmas together. They told me not to plan dinner. They had a surprise, they said. Do you know how hard that was? What? No Turkey? No preplanning all that goes into Turkey dinner? The surprise was that they had planned to cook us a Persian dinner! I hadn’t had persian food since I’d lived in Iran when I was in my 20’s… it was such a thoughtful and delicious present. And look, here I am talking about the Persian Christmas dinner and not about all the other 50+ turkey dinners. We survived (thrived) doing Christmas dinner differently. So can you.
Events: What events on the list make you smile and what ones feel like pressure? Try really really hard to cross off the pressure events. They might be events you ‘should’ attend, but remember you are trying to reduce the overwhelm. Once you are done with all of the cross off’s, you might actually have time to do the things you’d adore doing. Your list might start to look like this:
Notice how your TO DO list is turning into an I GET TO DO list? Feeling some relief? Now, in this more peaceful state; watch for it, listen for it, feel it…there is magic….
Our world is insane. There’s so much that goes on that I don’t think we can ever understand until it is our turn to leave this earthly realm… so until then, we may not understand the why of it all, but we can make a difference to help heal those who are suffering. The tragedy in Paris has me writing this post. I have been doing what I do, and what many others do, when there is a crisis. I have been sending loving thoughts. But what many people don’t know; this is not a token gesture. Sending loving thoughts matters. It makes a difference.
Here’s how I first learned this:
A couple of decades ago, my daughters and I were on a road trip and the traffic came to a standstill on the highway. As we waited, it became clear there had been an accident. People driving on a highway are all on their way somewhere and we noticed many drivers in the standstill were not happy. Getting out of their cars, we watched people display impatience, annoyance, anger, and oh my god, inconvenience. Someone’s life had just been changed forever. Someone’s life might well have been taken. A ripple effect of a serious car accident affects so many others, not just those involved. I don’t suppose anybody who was in that traffic lineup had the right to be complaining in that moment.
And so, my daughters and I decided we would take a moment to send good thoughts to the people involved in the accident, and to whomever else was affected that might need to know others care. So we paused, and ‘sent’ loving thoughts with our minds. It seemed that was about all we could do to help while we waited.
A few days later I read a news story: A woman had been in a traffic accident somewhere in the U.S. She tells the story: Her spirit left her body and she could sense all this red anger radiating from the cars around her. Then she spotted a car that radiated a warm golden energy and she went towards it. The woman in that car was sending her love. Her quote went something like this: “That stranger was sending me love! She was praying for me! I was so surprised and felt happy.” She was so warmed and fueled by these thoughts that she travelled back to her body to live. Here’s the clincher that made this a news story: That woman remained in a coma for six months. When she woke, she asked to find the person whose license plate was ——. Yes, she had remembered the license plate number of the car whose driver had sent loving thoughts. When they tracked down the owner of the car, the woman who had been in a coma thanked the driver, saying it was because of her that she could go back to her body and live.
Uh huh. Now, that was a rather powerful affirmation that sending love is more than a token gesture. And this was back in the day when stories that made the news were researched and accurate.
Since then, when I hear an emergency vehicle’s sirens, I always send blessings and love to those who need the emergency vehicle and eventually I also expanded that to include those operating the emergency vehicle. No matter what the reason for an emergency vehicle, somebody needs help. It’s not up to me to decide what kind of help, I just send the thoughts.
It’s simple to do. Take a breath. Connect to a feeling of love and compassion that you have experienced before. You could just imagine how much you love somebody, or feel empathy towards. Just feel that loving compassionate feeling even a little bit, even if you feel like you are ‘just imagining’ it, or making it up. Then imagine that feeling is an energy, or a bit of wind, or stardust, or heck, a helium balloon and send it off to where it is needed.
That’s it. And then trust it is doing whatever it needs to do.
We’ve all heard powerful stories of groups gathering and meditating for change, or of prayer groups and miracle healings. It works. But, you don’t need a group. One person’s thoughts makes a difference. And if a whole bunch of individuals send thoughts… that can only be good.
Now is a good time to practise. For Paris. And for whenever you sense people are hurting – physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually – and could use some love.
I turned si… mumble mumble..y… this spring.
Okay, I’ll try again.. On my birthday, I turned sssblabla bla… whatever…the same age as Disneyland.
It’s hard to blurt out that number thing, given I wrote the Amaranteen Theory. You can read it here but in a nutshell, I make up my age, and rarely is it in numbers. I’ve made up my age since my mid thirties, when the number version had me questioning how long I’d be able to keep waterskiing like a madwoman. That scared the age right out of me.
So, it’s not out of vanity that I make up my age; I do it so that my own preconceived notions of an age won’t be that thing that limits me. It won’t be the thing that whispers “You are too old to leap out of a good corporate job just because it is making you insane” or “you can not apply to train as a sailor when the other sailors are 30 years younger than you” or “If you haven’t done it by now, you never will” or “you can’t climb tree tops at 60 and get away with it.” Nutshell message: If you hear yourself thinking those sort of thoughts, please do read my blog post, The Amaranteen Theory. After all, why let a number get in your way?
But, in fact, I was letting a number get in my way!! Sixty. Eek. I somehow let the number slip in my thoughts pre-birthday. I tried to tell myself “Wow, way to go!” or something equally pleasant. But there was no sincerity. The whole concept just felt surreal, but not in a good way. I was turning 60. “I am not where I’d thought I’d be at this age,” I thought. “I should be this.. that… or whatever” I even heard myself think.
Given, it has been a challenging year. Given that perhaps it was okay to do a bit of grieving – there really had been so many changes as a result of getting through cancer treatments. The whole ‘getting back on your feet’ financial challenge, a roller coaster of reactions and aches and pains due to meds meant to help prevent recurrence. A move that never felt settled. Other stuff.
AND I had taken on a year long work contract that has been fascinating, but took over my life.
I was squeezing in the rest of my life in far too few hours in a week. My favourite things; my girls, my grandgirls, my clients, my courses, were being tucked into smaller time slots. My creative and adventurous soul-fueling explorations, let alone family and friends, weren’t getting their due either.
Not whining. Just acknowledging. Probably contributed to why this birthday was really messing with my thoughts, reminding me of what was not working quite as planned and finding myself being hard on myself. I know. I teach “kindness to self,” yet, here I was. It was then that I knew I had to call in all the stops on my thoughts and come up with a serious plan.
Being a coach helped. I have creative tools to help me past tough stuff. I am not perfect at using them the moment I need them. I am mortal, after all. But I do have playdates with my thoughts. I have amazing clients, and through coaching them, I have my own reminders of finding my own way. I can ask myself, “How can I make this funny?” I can do the squiggly roller coaster doodle activity I share with others. I can slip my way into creative solutions by imagining there are no barriers. I can check in with my own characters in my head and listen to their story, their questions for me, and their humour. (Yes, one of my clients has an epic novel’s worth of characters she can count on and no, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s an especially brilliant technique for the writers!) And sometimes, I can just breath and trust.
All of this processing of my age led to adventures that both celebrated and lifted my spirits – hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail with a great friend, being kidnapped by a pirate (too long of a story for here!), and a wonderful family road trip to a crazy Tree Top Adventure Climbing Course. That part, especially, was to remind my body what it loves and is capable of, just in case the ‘number’ was going to keep trying to get in the way! As it happened, I conquered some fears and fell in love with Tree Top obstacle and ropes courses! See? At this age, there’s always new and extraordinary things to experience. And completing this course had me scoff at what that number had been trying to tell me. Yes, indeed!
It was on that part of the adventure that the number thing got resolved, but in a way that surprised me: My daughter had decorated the entire motel room in a Disney style “Nanaland” 60th theme – . On the door was Disney’s current slogan: “Nanaland. 60 Years of Magic. Imagine More”
And suddenly, I felt great about where I’ve been and where I’m going. All the rest of the adventure was wonderful but this… this was all I needed to feel great about my new age.
(Yes, if you ask me how old I am, I will answer, “60 years of magic, imagine more.” I wonder if people think I’m crazy? AND I WONDER…what age might you pick if you were to choose an age that was not a traditional number?)
In July, on the lovely Tall Ship Hawaiian Chieftain, I got to sail through the San Juan Islands, with my 7 year old granddaughter in tow to boot! Learned so much. Lived so much. And had a little discovery afterwards that I want to share…
At the end of the day on a tall ship, the Captain holds muster. The crew gathers and waits respectfully for the Captain to speak. I was surprised to notice a common occurrence during muster on both ships and with both Captains that I’ve now had the wicked opportunity to crew with. It is this: If we had gotten to sail that day – if the winds were fair, the sails set, and we got to feel the magic of a large tall ship slicing its way through the ocean powered by wind alone – then on those days, the Captains would start muster with: “We sailed.”
And then, it was like nothing more need be said. “We sailed” said it all. We had lived our passion and purpose that day, nothing else mattered. The crew would all nod their heads, contentment and a hint of pride on their faces. It takes a lot for a Tall Ship to be maintained and ready to sail, let alone actually sailing her. The crew and Captain deserve to have this moment of complete satisfaction. You can be sure, too, the crew were kindred in knowing those days ‘we sailed’ would keep them inspired as hours on end they tar lines and file rust to keep their ship shipshape. Muster always continued as it must (wait…is that how muster got its name?)… but I do recall one captain one evening adding, after the pause that followed”I sailed,” something along the lines of “I suppose we should talk about more things, but that does seem to be enough.”
Fast forward a few weeks. August. Driving in my car, fussing in my head about stressful things, feeling anxious about more changes coming up in my life – good changes, including another move, but unsettling in the process. Running endless details through my head and thinking myself into a bit of overwhelm. And then it happened: I heard myself think, “I sailed.” I grinned ear to ear. The fussing thoughts fizzled out like water was dropped on their fuse. It was like nothing more need be thought. Sure, it might not be everybody’s way of finding zen. But then, I also find zen in clay that goes entirely out of whack on a pottery wheel.
When I started thinking again…still grinning, I admit… I was simply reminded that life is always offering up grand things, even making impossible things possible, and will continue to. The proof is in the past (and surely in the future): I sailed.
That simple two word thought has now become my anchor. (sheesh, I’m so nautical now) When I’m feeling like I’m in a whirlwind of change, and uncertainty is feeling more unsettling than it is adventurous, I think “I sailed.” Another phrase I’ve used in the past and it’s even a better fit now with my “I sailed” is “Alls well.” Besides reminding me that, in truth, in the big picture of things, all is well, whether I as my mortal self can fully understand it or not, I am reminded of the calls of the first mate as each sail was set; “Mizzens well. Tops’l well…” When the sails are set just right, all’s well.
It was magical, really, how instantaneously my thoughts and my mood shifted when “I sailed” came to mind that day driving in the car. Nothing less than magical. You know the kind of magic… like faeries had dumped a bucket of “lighten up” dust on me. Or spirit guides rolled their eyes at what was going on with me and snapped their magic fingers to make me happier. You know that feeling, right?
I wish for everyone to have moments like that… and I suspect many of you have, being the curious and interesting folk that you are who follow this blog. In fact, I suspect everyone can have those magical thoughtshifting spiritlifting moments. They just need to find that anchor.
How about you? Anything that says, “all is well” even when life is a bit crazy? Yes, Life can get stormy. Seems there’s always going to be some uncharted stuff getting in the way. We can all use an anchor we can count on.
This post is dedicated to you, my friend who left me a message saying, “Janet, there’s no post in August. How are you? Hope alls well?” Thank you so much for caring. ~smile~
Friends and family… they are anchors, too, don’t you think?
As I considered the title of this blog, I typed “Sailing.” Then I laughed and thought, “Oh they’ll think it’s another imagination technique.” Then I laughed again thinking, “Well, it was an imagination technique that led me to real life sailing!”
Yup, visualizing,dreaming, doodling and painting endless mystical tall ships; these just spill over into real life in a most amazing way. Huh. I guess imagination and reality aren’t really separate, after all.
Imagining bravery and courage isn’t separate from reality either. Albeit I’ve yet to be as swashbucklin’ and as much of a monkey in the rigs as the imaginary brave and courageous sailor who plays in my thoughts. But the imaginary does get me on the deck of a real Tall Ship, and it gets me climbing aloft – with some anxiousness and trepidation – but still, climbing aloft. The imaginary hasn’t gotten me aloft while feeling seasick, or when it looked like the other sailors would be much better suited to be setting or furling sails in great rolling swells. Ha ha.
But still. Imagining the possibility. Pretending I have a few seconds of outrageous bravery to commit to such a crazy adventure; those things have me, today, packing up for a week sail as crew on the Hawaiian Chieftain, granddaughter in tow because it’s a family adventure through the San Juan Islands!!
I am nervous. I’m nervous because I’ve forgotten the knots and I don’t know all the lines on this ship. (Sister ship to the one I trained on, Lady Washington) I’m nervous cuz I’m really such a beginner sailor and will they have high expectations of me because I ‘made the cut’ in training? I’m not actually nervous about going aloft, but a little concerned about my strength, given I had an injury this spring that had kept me from getting really fit. It’s better now. But I’m not super strong.
Oh wait. I’ll imagine super strong.
And I’ll remember how stepping on the Lady Washington last fall triggered a strength I didn’t even know I had.
I’ll think of these things, right now. And feel the energy of that in my body.
I’ll imagine the swashbucklin’ wild red haired sailor chomping at the bit to get back to the sea and who knows every knot every concocted.
Okay. I’m good.
P.S. If you’ve ever wished you could sail on a Tall Ship, Grays Historical Seaport, with their two ships Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, are the most welcoming organization, dedicated to the education of sailors and children, and to keep the history and spirit of Tall Ships alive.
Sometimes we just need to write. As my granddaughter said at age 4 (while ‘scribbling’ sentences) “Writing is important. It helps me hear what my mind is saying.”
Proof in the pudding: Writing my previous blog post likely hit home more for me than for any of you dear readers. And it led to a true commitment to imagination, creativity and intuition.
Yessirree, while leading my new online course last night, (the course that I more fully developed after I wrote the previous blog post) I heard myself say , “I know.. weird. But then, the weirder this course gets the happier I am.” ( I had a brief second of “Eek.. how unprofessional!” Yes, I have a logical left brain that tries to have its say)
But it’s true. The more people get to discover that their imagination and intuition is wilder and weirder and more able to empower them than most anything, and that it often does this with such curious surprises and insights… yes, the happier I get to be. Even better, the more people recognize how practical their imagination is, the happier I am. After all, through simple creative techniques, we can connect to answers that otherwise evade us, seemingly forever, using our logical cautious thinking.
Consider this. I posted the following on my facebook page:
“You know the naysayer in your head? The one who says you’re not good enough? Quick. Use your imagination and turn them into a character of some sort. Now do tell, who did you see.”
I noticed a troll as I wrote this. Then I quickly wrote down thoughts that came to my mind:
“Troll lives under a bridge. Wants to keep people away. Empath.. . too much energy of others bombards him and it hurts. Living a simple life. No responsibilities. Is not actually happy. But will do what he can to sabotage having to be out there in a world that hurts him. “
Honestly I wouldn’t logically have guessed that I have a troll. I am an empath – very aware of energies of others and very sensitive to environmental issues. (Ie: can’t be in fluorescent lights) It is an asset when I work with dedicated groups or with personal clients. It does, however, come with challenges. I hadn’t recognized this little troll quietly playing havoc , especially since I felt I manage my sensitivities rather well. But when I wrote this it revealed a huge aha moment, helping me see that there is a part of me that wants to withdraw and that creates a constant quiet resistance that I am always working against, even though it doesn’t stop me. Who needs that? Now just the simple awareness of the troll, especially with a visual, is going to help us both. Noticing the resistance is enough to stop its hold. And sometimes, perhaps, I will notice the resistance and say, “Hey, maybe we’ll just paddle our feet in the water near Troll’s bridge for a little while.”
I quick sketchpainted him. I find that going one step further on a discovery helps to cement the insight so it is less likely to hide itself again. Seems to me this simple little imaginary connection has been worth years of therapy.
How about you? May I repeat that post just for you?
“You know the naysayer in your head? The one who says you’re not good enough? Quick. Use your imagination and turn them into a character of some sort. Now do tell, who did you see.”
Love to hear who you discover.
And if you’d like to read a good article about empaths and see if it’s a fit for you (often the case with creative folks) here’s an interesting link. themindunleashed.org/30-traits-of-empath.html
Oh, curious about the new course? I’d love if you popped over to learn more about the next ♫Way Hey Up She Rises♫ course!
Enjoy that wicked wild practical imagination of yours!