How We Love

I’ve been stalling, putting it off, but sometime in the next couple of weeks, I need to temporarily shut down the blog for some work that has to be done over at the server. I say “temporarily”, but tech-savvy friends have told me, sadly, that things often go wrong when you change root domains.

Even if I back up my content before I initiate the process, I could lose all of the subscribers I have left and that’s the heartbreaking part. Those of you who still read this and who have stayed with me through bustling bistro days and cyber-hibernation silences are very, very special to me.

If you want to reconnect with me again, I know you’ll find a way; the domain name will stay the same and most of you have my blog email address. But if this is it, if this really is the end of my blogging journey here because I lose what’s left of the blog’s quiet continuity, I’d like to leave you with one of my favourite songs, from my favourite singer-songwriter. It describes how I feel about about life, love, legacy and us.

I believe with all my heart that if you’re still reading this, if you still visit this blog, then you’re a kind, supportive person, a detail lover, a creative who wants to connect with others, with your best self and the world around you.

Some days you feel that who you are and what you do makes a difference, because you do little things with great love and presence.

Some days I can almost hear your creative soul screaming with pain as you wonder why you bother.

But still, you connect, you go online to enjoy the journey home to yourself; you seek out people and places who make you feel like you belong, like you make a difference.

Rightly or wrongly, that’s the you I’ve always written for, the you who makes me feel grateful for the gift of your presence.

Please wish my wee bloggling luck. I feel like I’m about to watch a loved one being wheeled in for elective surgery. ~ Janice

If the YouTube video doesn’t work for you – and I’m sorry, I’ve tried but have NO idea how to fix the UK/rest of the world  problem – then please try it on your version of YouTube or simply buy the track or the album. I promise you, How We Love is worth it.

How We Love ~ by Beth Nielsen Chapman

Life has taught me this
Every day is new
And if anything is true
All that matters when we’re through is how we love

Faced with what we lack
Some things fall apart
But from the ashes new dreams start
All that matters to the heart is how we love

How we love, how we love
With the smallest act of kindness
In a word, a smile, a touch

In spite of our mistakes
Chances come again
If we lose or if we win
All that matters in the end is how we love

How we love, how we love
I will not forget your kindness
When I needed it so much

Sometimes we forget
Trying to be so strong
in this world of right and wrong
All that matters when we’re gone
All that mattered all along
All we have that carries on… is how we love

Learning from Trees

In Greece, at the corner of the church square near my school, there was a solitary evergreen tree, a pittosporum tobira, rising triumphantly from the concrete; when it blossomed, it filled the whole square with its scent, and every evening, before I walked home or joined friends in a seaside taverna, I’d stand under it and breathe it in like a prayer. I still remember the deep brown eyes of the young man who first told me its local name in Greek – angelikí – as he plucked a waxy white blossom and silently gave it to me.

All through my life, no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve always had favourite trees. I just didn’t realise it until I was sitting in tears, in a supermarket car park the other day, parked under what I’ve been thinking of these last few years as The Crying Tree. Often, after visits to my my 91 year old dad’s house, to do his shopping, or take him out, I park there till I’m calm and collected enough for the long drive home, along narrow, winding roads, through hills and valleys that require full concentration. Stuck there in a city, between a fenced off car park and a busy road, with nothing but scraggy, prickly bushes at its feet for company, it seems to understand the overwhelm, exhaustion and stuckness that can come from being a sandwich generation daughter, a menopausal mother whose teenagers have recently left home. Yet it expects nothing, asks for nothing in return for its constancy and sheltering branches.

When I got home, and logged on, I found this excerpt from Cigdem Kobu’s Homecoming course in my inbox.

(Excerpt from Bäume, Betrachtungen und Gedichte, Hermann Hesse)

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.

And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

Meet the Kid

I gave up the gun-toting five decades ago, and these days, all I corral are thoughts and ideas, but this is still pretty much me… pathetic eyebrows, huge soulful eyes, unflattering hair and a pen and notepad surgically attached. I no longer own a plastic horse or look after a herd of cuddly toys, but when I nurture my inner child, this is how she shows up. A loner, bright and bullied, who always felt a bit like a foreigner, at home in her head, in other languages, other lands, making up languages and teaching them to those same, obliging cuddly toys.

Our class at primary school was part of an experiment in teaching kids to read and write using a system called ITA, which was based on the international phonetic alphabet. ita policeman book

Here’s an example of one of our text books. Many of the kids in my class suffered because their families couldn’t help them to read and write, then suffered again when they had to transition back to normal English, which, ironically, was like a second language for us anyway, as we all spoke mining village Scots outside the classroom. Luckily, I not only coped with the language swapping, but thrived and went on to become a linguist, language teacher and translator.

In some ways I became a translator of life, too, as a parent and later, a life coach, helping folk make sense of their own lives and translate their dreams into action.

My favourite TV shows are still made in the USA, I’m still obsessed with clapboard houses and wooden porches and I still spend a ridiculous amount of time in my head or with a notebook, hoping to be a writer when I grow up.Puppies and Kittens (ITA version)

Who were you as a child?

How do you nurture your inner child?

What were the signs back then of your essence, your destinies, the person you are now?

When was the last time you and your inner kid went out to play?

I buy my inner child pens and notebooks, coloured yarn, DVD’s and books as presents. What do you buy yours?

Your Assignment

 “Did you know, you were born as the first, and the last and the best and the only one of your kind, and that eccentricity is the first sign of giftedness?”~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Dr Estes’ words found their way to me twice yesterday, once today. Once would have been enough, but now I’m really listening.

Your Assignment

I assign you to be a beautiful, good, kind, awakened, soulful person, a true work of art as we say, ser humano, a true human being. In a world filled with so much darkness, such a soul shines like gold; can be seen from a far distance; is dramatically different.

Want to help? Show your deepest most divine self to the world. There is nothing more rare, more strange, more needed. Why would you wait? Not worthy? Oh piffle. Not ready? Okay, so when? Next lifetime? Don’t be silly with me about this. Inferiority complex? Okay, let me put it this way to you: you’re not good enough to think you’re not good enough. And you can quote me to yourself whenever you have need… Dr. Estes said so.

Have you forgotten that you made promises to your Beloved before you ever came to earth? The time to fulfill these is truly now. You want to cease feeling helpless, and you want to help the aching world? Serve someone and something. Everyone on earth serves someone and something. This means being your truest self now, fulfilling the promises you made to heaven long ago.

Anything you do from the soulful self will help lighten the burdens of the world. Anything. You have no idea what the smallest word, the tiniest generosity can cause to be set in motion. Be outrageous in forgiving. Be dramatic in reconciling. Mistakes? Back up and make them as right as you can, then move on. Be off the charts in kindness. In whatever you are called to, strive to be devoted to it in all aspects large and small. Fall short? Try again. Mastery is made in increments, not in leaps. Be brave, be fierce, be visionary. Mend the parts of the world that are “within your reach.” To strive to live this way is the most dramatic gift you can ever give to the world.

Consider yourselves assigned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Xx~~~~~~

This song is from the album The Blessed Unrest by Sara Bareilles, one of my favourite singers. I bought it for myself at Christmas after hearing only one track; I’ll share that track with you later, but for now, the universe told me to post this. In Spanish. (I do what I’m told!) It’s my favourite car listening album at the moment, and yesterday I was sent SO many signs along the winding road home through the hills that I’d have posted four songs from the album right there and then if I could have!

I heard this line “Maybe one of these days you can let the light in… and show me how big your brave is…” as the sky looked like this…

and I passed a truck with this Glenfiddich whisky advert on it…

 

Image result for glenfiddich ad one day you will

Which lines of Dr Estés’ beautiful invocation or Sara Bareilles’ song stand out most brightly for you today?

Meet the Crew

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then . . . . I contradict myself;
I am large . . . . I contain multitudes.” ~ Walt Whitman (from Song of Myself)

hearts by Heleen - Dutch Colours/ Dutch SistersIt’s blog spring cleaning time again and all of my selves are enjoying the process of renewal. Everything, everything is made easier by my decision to craft my life around how I want to feel.

My editor brain is enjoying the quest for clarity; the re-writing, the deleting, the cutting, pasting and re-ordering of my narrative.

The life coach in me is enjoying the big questions: Who am I? How do I serve? What do I want to share? With whom? Why? How? Where do I want to go? How do I plan to get there?

The lingust and language teacher are evangelists for connection, for learning and sharing.

The translator instinctively understands – lives and breathes – the concepts of heart connection, vibrant expression, authenticity… the filtering of essence and soul. (Perfectionism? Anxiety about getting things ‘right’ before they’re made public? Part of the territory.)

The homelife coach shares those obsessions, but she applies them to the notion of homes as sanctuaries, galleries, gathering places, life-museums: her realm is the relationship between function and form, the balance between simplicity and warmth in the shared spaces, between serenity and cosiness. Am I living my life by design? What am I holding on to? Why? What does it say about me? These are her questions. She loves letting things go to make room for what matters most. She’s the one who HATES the clunky, stuck, cluttery, unfixable bits of her blog and so spends hours learning CSS and HTML and searching for that perfect – but elusive – free WordPress theme, the one that’ll pull everything together.

The homemaker – mother and wife? She wants to create a home where folk are loved, cherished, supported, championed, heard… She curates, treasures connection and is always available.

The daughter? Exhausted. Caring for a ninety year old father is an honour, a hymn of gratitude and also, sometimes, a challenge; she often has to press the blogging OFF switch.

The writer? Ah, well, she has the easiest role; as long as she can be authentic, everything’s fuel.

The songwriter, lover of music and poetry? Desperate to share her favourite music, lyrics and poems but frustrated by copyright laws and technology.

The poet? Waiting. She doesn’t mind; she just keeps soaking it all in and taking notes.

The painter? Also waiting, but resenting that blogging takes her away from days spent inspired, immersed in colour, details and texture, watching something recreate itself in paint. I suspect she also plays a major role in the longing to log off.

The crocheter? Couldn’t care less about blogging; she’ll post pictures of colourful blankets someday, but she comes to life when the laptop clicks shut.

The quotehunter? The reader? Longing to share everything, but biding their time, reading… filtering… building up to that moment when the jug overflows… they’ve gathered thousands of quotes to share, but ah…the filing and sorting is a chore.

So that’s a few of my me’s, but enough to illustrate my complex relationship with blogging.

How many you’s make their way into your blog? Do you ever feel like you have multiple blogging personality disorder? Which of my blogging selves do you resonate with most?

In my clearing out today, I found this version of my very first post, published in 2008 on a simple wee practice blog before I  launched properly. My decision to keep it got me wondering why, so I decided not to bin it. I still visit craft blogs for pleasure, and it seems I still have the same blogging values as I did back then.

Autumn Hearts

I love unique blogs full of exuberance, creativity and pure authentic passion. Blogs that feel like snack food for the soul. Blogs that don’t make me feel like my only purpose as a reader is to bump up the numbers at a vampire fest. I logged on today to learn from some of the world’s top pro-bloggers and ended up feeling like the poster child for how not to blog. A few of my crimes?

  • I use the word ‘I’ more than ‘you’.
  • I write about myself, my home and my family – one blogger called this “egocentritis”.
  • My favoured format isn’t daily How To… lists or Top 10 anythings.
  • My posts are so long they’d land me in blogging jail if there was such a place.
  • Even my short posts aren’t easily scannable by folk who like to whizz through dozens of posts a day.
  • My post titles aren’t written with search engines in mind.
  • I still think of you as a reader, not ‘traffic’ that needs to be ‘driven’ somewhere.
  • I haven’t stuck to one niche.

That’s why I was delighted to come across today’s Daily Mmmm… while I was doing what I call synchronicitous surfing, letting my natural curiosity take me from one link to another for the length of time it takes to drink a coffee.

A couple of curious clicks led me to a Dutch blog by a stay at home mum and part time teacher who makes little works of art, creative pieces rich in colour and detail. I love hand-made craft items that take time and love to create; in much the same way, I enjoy blog entries that aren’t just dashed off to feed the insatiable hunger of the search engines.autumn-hearts

I smiled when I came across these wee hearts; they warmed mine on a cold autumn day full of low self-esteem, self-doubt and ranting frustration. I wrote to the artist and asked her for permission to use this photo; she replied, in English, within minutes and her warm, appreciative response made my day.

Dutch colours: hearts | Dutch Sisters

Brave Authenticity

0901130011I read an article today about the SEO value of paring down categories and cleaning out archives. (February would seem to be my favourite month for clutter clearing – I’ve already shredded the contents of five photo albums in the last few days!) Fired up and ready to start culling and consolidating, I started off with posts in the AUTHENTICITY category.

At the end of an ancient ‘patchwork post’ from 2009, I found a list of some of my favourite authenticity quotes. As a cluster, they were a prescient glimpse of the blogging journey that lay ahead of me, and I smiled to myself, realising that my blog has always been a quiet manifesto for brave authenticity, one where even my absences and frequent jeremiads about ‘deciduous blogging’ have their place; many of us need periods away from the internet to replenish our spirits and reconnect to the real world.

Finding these words of wisdom today reminded me, too, of how much I feel at home when I’m quote-hunting, that simple, deliberate act of having a pen and notebook to hand when I read; I love the synchronicity of it, the filtering, the distilling and the sharing of other people’s gems and journeys.

Just rediscovering these quotes has thrown up ideas for new posts to write, old posts to revisit and an old manuscript that’s been haunting me… Do any of them resonate with you?

What we are really looking for is a sense of the real and an experience of true significance, true meaning. That can only come from one source. Deep down inside, every human being hears the echo of the experience of unity and wants it back. So we live our whole lives with only a vague sense of what it is we want but with the absolute knowledge that we had it once and it’s possible to have it again if only we knew how. ~ Sarah Susanka

The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is insincerity. ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

If  I choose to ignore myself when I am in desperate need of my own attention, I will resent those I have deemed more important than me. Even though I might spend the day trying to be happy and pleasant, underneath I will feel depleted because I have made a choice that has depleted me. ~ Debbie Ford

Instead of trying to hide the emotional refuse that is festering with rot, bring it to light and stick it in the compost bin to be transformed into useful fertiliser that will grow your future better self. ~ Kathryn L.Robyn and Dawn Ritchie

When you are adrift from your core, the space between your surface and your depth fills up with anxiety. Too much time away from your inner home leads to homesickness. ~ Carrie McCarthy and Danielle La Porte

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In order not to cheat yourself, you have to make writing a high priority. You have to make it very nearly sacred. But you have to live the rest of your life. too; you have to allow room for all that makes you you, for all that feeds you. In my mind, being more than a writer means you’re more of a writer. ~ Elizabeth Berg

We are not powerless specks of dust drifting around in the wind, blown by random destiny. We are, each of us, like beautiful snowflakes –  unique, born for a specific reason and purpose. ~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

When you do not seek or need external approval, you are at your most powerful. Nobody can disempower you emotionally or psychologically…You cannot live for prolonged periods of time within the polarity of being true to yourself and needing the approval of others. ~ Caroline Myss

I Find Your Love

The sun, the sky, the rolling sea
All conspire to comfort me ~ Beth Nielsen Chapman

This song is by Beth Nielsen Chapman, my favourite singer songwriter. She can still write like this after being widowed, surviving cancer and the removal of a brain tumour that affected her use of language. It’s one of those songs that makes sense of things, that leads me back to love and connects me to those I’ve loved and lost or simply can’t be with.  It’s also an invitation to keep open, to not harden my heart when things get uncomfortable or difficult, to love myself and remember we’re all waves in the same ocean. To embrace what Buddhists call maitri – unconditional kindness to oneself.

It reminds me what it feels like to be touched by grace.

Even when my blog’s dormant, I see things everywhere I want to share with you – photos, songs, helpful things I’ve learned.  Blogging makes me want to connect with love, to rise above challenges and find the common red threads of humanity that connect us all. I have nothing to share but my journey through life and an overwhelming curiosity about yours; no niche, no stunning photography, no marketing magic, no seaside cottage renovations to share, no insanely useful writing tips, specialist recipes, expert crochet patterns, computer wizzardry insights, invocations to boldness, conversations with goddesses or insider knowledge about surefire ways to coach certification.

All you get here is my filtering of the world as I live out my life wondering what it’s all about, wanting to jump up and down like a wee kid tugging at your sleeve and pointing when I figure any of it out.

I’m still haunted by comment boxes that were full of chat, laughter and support, but the harder it’s getting, the more my heart’s opening, letting go and smiling. Pain peels back layers, lays you bare like love does. There’s no place for ego in writing; you either want to write or you don’t. Then you write – or you don’t. You have to trust that if you send your words out in a bottle, they’ll reach someone who needs to hear them.

Beth Nielsen Chapman couldn’t stop writing songs even if she wanted to. I know how that feels and I think that’s what I wanted to share with you here today. Please don’t stop writing; whether your blog gets visitors or not, keep writing. Stay connected to the beauty in everything around you, like you do when you’re in love. Stay open. Be kind to yourself…

I’ll catch your smile on someone’s face
Your whisper in the wind’s embrace
Through diamond stars and songs, and dreams
I find your love in everything
The sun, the sky, the rolling sea
All conspire to comfort me
From sorrow’s edge life’s beauty seems
To find your love in everything
I’ve come to trust the hope it brings
To find your love in everything
Even as I fall apart
Even through my shattered heart
I’ll catch your smile on someone’s face
Amazing grace

Enough…

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. ~ Lao Tzu

Over the last few weeks, there have been evenings I’ve fallen asleep exhausted on the sofa, days when I’ve understood why folk drink at noon and mornings when I’ve woken and wanted to crawl back under the duvet. The anaesthetised version is that I’ve had some ‘challenges’. Out of respect for their privacy, I never talk about my birth family here, and rarely about my kids’ lives now that they’re in their late teens, but as those challenges involved multiple smashed bones, family dynamics, care of the elderly, unexpected building work and two hour daily round trips to spend my days in a wifi-free zone with tradesmen and someone on the cusp of ninety – all during my son’s university entrance exam period –  I’m hoping you’ll forgive my silence.

In turbulent times, I get very clear on what’s within my control and do what I can to avoid getting whipped up into other folks’ stress whirlwinds. Trusting in a universe that always ensures I have the strength to do what’s asked of me, I simply try to do the next indicated thing: I work, I coach, I plod, I listen, I hug, I scrub, I cook, I create, I read, I visit, I shop, I sleuth, I gut, I watch box sets, cry at music and just generally trust myself to do what needs to be done. Luckily, my husband’s an angel whose wings shelter and carry my whole family, and these last few troubled weeks, I’ve gone to sleep at night exhausted, but knowing I’ve done the best I could. And that’s a good feeling. It’s enough.

Being a homemaker, a supporter of souls, someone who longs to be compassionately connected, rather than constantly connected, is part of how I define myself. It’s a part of me that’s inextricably linked with my creativity, and I don’t feel as if I have to be all of my me’s at once. I’m an introvert, always have been, and I know what fuels me, what drains me and what my overwhelm limits are. I know how much silence I need and what my people and privacy limits are. There was no way I could do anything other than focus on my family these last few weeks and that’s fine. I’ll soon be an empty nester, and menopause beats all the spiritual books I’ve ever read on the beauty of letting go. Some of its lessons are brutal, but the clarity it brings, about what’s really important, about how I want to feel at any given moment in time, has bleached my soul bare.

Breathing, noticing, loving, creating, learning, letting go. The quiet, wise voice that tells us to keep sweeping away the dust and debris that settles when we resist change, that tells us to let go of the pain we beat ourselves up with when we resist what is.

I missed being able to log on, but after three years of deliberate exile, I knew the sky wouldn’t fall in, and I was right.  The sun’s shining today, there’s a breeze blowing through the branches and the grass still smells greenly damp from yesterday’s rain. The birds are loud, my son’s snacking on pizza and here you are, still visiting, still reading, still breathing life into my words.

More than enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Are you facing any challenges right now? Family? Friends? Loneliness? Menopause? Sandwich generation exhaustion? Empty nest syndrome?  Blog envy? Life purpose crossroads? How do you thrive through it all?

How to be Successful by FLIRTing More

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Because you’re reading this, because I’ve managed to reach you across oceans and mountains, I feel like a successful blogger. If  any of my words inspire or touch you, even for a moment, I’ve succeeded as a writer.

How do you define success, not just in your business, career or blogging ventures, but in your life? How will you ever know if you’re  ‘successful’ if you never define what success means to you, as a unique individual?

I went to bed happy last night, feeling fulfilled, tired and satisfied  – that feeling you get when you tick all the boxes on a To Do list, only I had no To Do list. I’d re-examined what I need in order to feel successful in every part of my life; in doing so, I’d managed to fill my day doing the things I’d identified as being necessary for my happiness.

My ‘online work’ is only one spoke on my wheel of life. My aim for that aspect of my life yesterday was ‘Stay logged off.’  That was it. A decision to honour my family and celebrate the sunshine.

The other spokes on my wheel (or petals on a daisy, boxes in a grid – however you visualise all the areas of your life) are my relationships with

  • my husband,
  • my kids,
  • my birth and extended family
  • and my friends.

I also have spokes for

  • my health,
  • my finances,
  • my environment,
  • my contribution to society,
  • my spirituality and
  • what I call FLIRTFun, Leisure, Interests, Recreation and Travel

As you can see, the spoke called career/work is only one part of my life.

How many spokes/life areas would you have in your wheel of life?

From success you get lots of things, but not that great inside thing that love brings you. ~ Sam Goldwyn

The trick to feeling happy is to make sure you know what it would take for you to feel ‘successful’ in every, single one of those areas today.

If you define blogging success by numbers – Feedburner subscriber stats, Google Analytic statistics for visits, length of time a reader stays on a page, number of pages per visit, the amount of affiliation money you earn etc – then you can set yourself daily, weekly, monthly ‘number’ targets. But what about the things that can’t be measured so easily in numbers? The heartfelt comments, the tales of triumph or words of support that bring tears to your eyes? That post that left you feeling Wow! That was the real me!

What about about quality time with your loved ones? How many hours do you aim to spend with them? What do you plan  to do with them today, this week? What’s the minimum time spent doing non-work things that would allow you to go to bed happy, knowing you’d ‘succeeded’ as a spouse, a parent, a son or daughter, a loving friend?

To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the oportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is how I desire to waste wisely my days. ~ Thomas Dekker (c. 1570 -c. 1641)

One way you could go to bed every single night feeling satisfied and successful, fulfilled and proud of yourself is to dig deep and ask yourself how you define success for every single spoke in your wheel of life. Then take one wee step, every day to get you closer.

What would you like to achieve today, this week, this year in every one of those areas?

Yesterday, I decided that to feel like I hadn’t let my kids down, I would have to be able to go a whole day without saying “Could you just wait a wee minute, sweetheart; I’m trying to post something and this is taking ages to load and if I leave it now, I may lose it.”

To be a good wife, I wanted to cook my husband a Sunday evening meal he’d really love, something with wine, garlic and cream served with a glass of  sparkling rosé; I wanted to listen much, much better than I have been.

To improve my environment, my aim was to clear one of my clutter hotspots and empty the ironing basket.

To feel healthier, I drank less coffee and more water.

And so on, with every area of my life.

I often combine aims so that each daily goal has a beneficial effect on more than one area of my life. For example, a bit of gardening as a family brings us closer together, keeps me fit, saves us money, makes our environment more beautiful, feeds our spirit and enables me to pass on flowers, seeds and cuttings to others.

Blogging has been good for my finances, friendships and FLIRTing, but in reality, it’s been a bit of a cuckoo, knocking all the other chicks out of the nest.

~~~~~~~x~~~~~~~

How do you define success – down to the details – in every area of your life? How do you plan to love your loved ones better today? What will you contribute to make the world a better place?

And remember to log off and do some FLIRTing – have some Fun, Recreation, Leisure, Interests and Travel, (even if travelling’s just a walk through the park to your local market.)

 

(This post was originally published in June, 2009. The concept’s not new and you’ve heard it a million times before, but it bears constant revisiting. I wish I could get it out to more folk; in these days of social media numbers-based depression and low self esteem, it’s still relevant. Please share it on Twitter or Facebook if you think it’s a message worth putting out there. )

The Desire Map

Daniele LaPorte“Desire leads the way home.” ~ Danielle LaPorte

I needed to write here today. I only ever write for one listener, and today it’s you. Synchronicity. I don’t know what led you here, but I hope you get something from the connection. It’s been a while.

I committed blogging suicide three years ago, abandoning my blog and the blogging community I’d become part of;  I wasn’t in great health and my family needed me, but I’d also accepted that blogging was doing me more harm than good.

Small blogs thrive with lots of mutual support and respect, but I find reciprocal blogging – blogging with integrity – really time consuming. The day I realised I was reading more blog posts than books, writing more comments than blog posts and spending more time struggling with my integrity than I was writing for pleasure, I walked off into the sunset and never looked back.

In the time I’ve been Rip Van Winkling, some of my colleagues’ blogs and businesses have gone from strength to strength, but many familiar bloggers have boarded up, moved on and settled somewhere else. The blogging community I was part of feels like a ghost town now, full of abandoned blogs, broken links and dried up blogrolls blowing through like tumbleweed. Vibrant blogs that used to be full of laughter and companionship stand deserted, their once welcoming doors swinging and creaking in the silence, the odd forlorn comment left hanging like a torn curtain.

So what brought me back here when I could have dived in and joined the party over at Facebook, Twitter and a dozen other social media sites? In a world where instant connection is a phone click away, what led me to start all over again with empty comment boxes and a clunky, homemade, out-of-date site that should really be shrunk into a scrapbook or put out of its misery?

Danielle LaPorte and crochet. More about the crochet another day.

So why Danielle? I read and loved Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design years ago and resonated with Danielle’s quest for authentic, passionate, intentional living. It was so much fun working through the book and distilling my style down to two symbolic words; when I reread it recently, I was amazed to realise that the words I chose all those years ago still express my authentic essence.

Danielle is savvy and charismatic and her words leap off the page, inspiring you to grab a notebook, hone in on your unique style and design an intentional life. After Style Statement, came her book The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful and Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your own Terms which was based on her workshops of the same name.

Fire Starter Session 3: The Strategy of Desire is a life changer. It slaps you in the face with its simple heart logic, and you simply can’t ignore it. Danielle herself suggests that the following section “…could be the single most important takeaway from this book.”

“How do you want to feel?

Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.

Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life.”

Just when I was enjoying The Fire Starter Sessions and thinking this is what I need, to read powerful books again, to be inspired by the overflowing desire to share what I learn, to share what moves me and shifts my awareness, I stumbled on this, Danielle’s new book which grew out of  Fire Starter Session 3…

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul

What can I say? I bought it a few months ago, I loved it and it’s still working! I had fun with it and enjoyed all the honing in and drilling down. (Oh, and the questions!…a coach’s dream collection of awareness heighteners, strength finders, curiosity cultivators and provocative layer strippers!) I carried it to cafés and started quotehunting again. I was inspired – and compelled – to share it with you in case anything Danielle has to say could be of use to you. Working through the book was revealing, energising and uplifting – sometimes bittersweet; we often get to what we want by knowing with a passion what we don’t want. Almost everything I’ve done today – and every day since reading the book –  has been in alignment with what Danielle calls my Core Desired Feelings, the distilled essence of how I want to feel in every area of my life. Knowing how I want to feel makes every choice, every decision, every action, purchase and conversation so much easier.

How about you? How do you want to feel, this moment, today, every day, in every part of your life?