Every day, the rest of the world, will try to tell you; ~ who you should be, ~ what you should do, ~ where you should go, and what’s important. DON’T LISTEN. Look in the mirror, see that face? That’s what and who’s important. The dreams pounding in your chest, the adventures waiting to be had, the roads calling you to travel, the art-music-poetry, whatever it is, that’s urning to be born, ~ this is your souls desperate plea to live. Listen to that.
If you got a little messy or made a few mistakes yesterday, good for you, you’re growing.
You’ve been messing up and falling down since the day you were born. That’s how you learnt to walk, to talk, feed and dress yourself, ride a bike, drive a car and build a life for yourself. This cycle of learning and growing never ends. We mess up, we learn, we grow, we move on. It’s all part of the journey.
So, if you fell, did the wrong thing or said the wrong thing yesterday, its okay. As long as you pulled yourself up, brushed yourself off, packed up the learning, you’re heading in the right direction.
Once upon a time there was a boy named Woo. Woo pondered the concept of “light.” He had heard terms such as: “He lit the way for others.” “She was a beckon of light.” “He lit up the room.” “She was glowing.”
Woo did not understand these terms. He only knew light as the warmth and glow radiating from the sun or the light from a candle.
He was perplexed has he contemplated how a person could be “light.” So, Woo asked his mother; “Mother, how does a man light the way for others.” “You will know when someone lights your path and leads you out of the darkness,” she replied.
He asked his grandfather; “Grandfather, how does a woman become a beckon of light?” “You will know when your mind is awakened and inspired by the wisdom and knowledge of your teachers,” replied his grandfather.
He asked the village healer; “How can a person glow or radiate light? The healer replied, “You will know when you observe a mother holding her child for the very first time.
All the replies Woo received were different. He still did not understand, so he wandered to the river to sit and contemplate what he’d been told.
Woo saw a disheveled, homeless man sitting next to the River. “Why do you live like this, alone and without a home?” Woo asked the man?
“What makes you think I’m alone and without a home?” ask the man. “The earth is my home. I’m surrounded by the beauty and light of the world, I’m not alone at all.
The response from the man surprised Woo. “What is the light of the world?” Woo asked.
The man replied “You will know when you witness the smallest act of kindness and your heart is touched. You will know when you no longer judge others for the way they look, think or live, but rather seek to accept and love those who share your path, because you understand we are all apart of a greater light.
“I don’t understand,” said Woo.
“Close your eyes and tell me what you hear?” asked the man. Woo closed his eyes and listened. “I hear the powerful rush of the river,” said Woo. “What created the river?” asked the man. “Many drops of rain falling from the sky.” Woo replied. “That’s correct,” said the man. “One raindrop can not force a river downstream but together the droplets are powerful.”
The man then asked Woo to look into the sky. Woo did as he was asked. “What do you see?” asked the man. “I see stars lighting up the sky,” said Woo. “That’s correct, said the man. “One star alone cannot light the sky, but many stars together with the moon can create a path that guides ships and weary sailors home.
“Now, touch the ground.” Woo placed his hands on the ground. “What do you feel? asked the man. “Many blades of grass,” said Woo. “That’s right,” said the man. “The ground is solid. It holds back the river and helps the river stay it’s course. All those tiny blades of grass with their roots intertwined, are a part of the solid foundation which guides the river to the sea where it meets other rivers and together they fill the Ocean.”
At that moment, “a light” went on in Woo’s head. “I think I understand!” Woo exclaimed. “Everything is connected. Each of us is like one small star, one droplet of rain or one blade of grass.“
“Yes,” said the man. “Each star, each rain drop, each blade of grass and each one of us shine, grow or flow in different directions. However, when we work together we create something stronger, brighter, better, and more powerful. We shine our light when we share our courage, strength, wisdom, acts kindness or love with others. We don’t all shine the same. But, we all shine.”
Woo now understood. “Thank you,” said Woo, for shining your light on my path.” “And, yours onto mine,” replied the man.
As a child, I grew up in a loud, hectic, sometimes frenzied Irish Catholic home, buzzing with family gatherings, birthday parties, activities related to my moms real estate business, the daily preparations required for my Dad’s restaurant, the screech of musical instruments being practiced, seven children running-playing-fighting, mom hollering out orders, lots of pets (including my sister Suzie’s pet rooster) cousins, aunts, uncles and friends constantly coming and going.
It was loud and it was busy.
Up until a few years ago, my adult life had also been a constant buzz of career busyness, multiple moves, volunteer work, my boys, their antics and extracurricular activities, house guests, exchange students, lots of pets and a busy social life.
For decades I craved alone time, it never arrived. Then, one day it did.
There I sat on the floor in my kitchen, living alone for the first time in over 40 years. And, I’d never felt so lost, so alone or so sad.
My children were grown, my eldest son had passed away, my marriage had ended, I was retired and had stepped away from community service to manage health issues.
Over the course of my life I had drawn my identity from the many hats, roles and responsibilities I had worn, and the busyness that kept my mind and life occupied.
After decades of being somebody’s sister, daughter, mother, wife, boss, employee, volunteer, now I was, well, I had no idea.
I was exhausted, probably depressed and didn’t feel emotionally able to reach out or connect with anyone, in fact, I didn’t want too.
My little spirit was spent, she needed to rest. She knew we had to turn inward, to feel the deepest sense of loneliness and loss before we could reimagine what our life should be. So, I surrendered. I listened, and let her guide me.
I cocooned myself for several month, slowing growing new wings and transforming the life I had lived over several decades, into something new, different and purposeful.
It was during my alone time that I learnt how to quiet the busyness in my mind and listen to the thoughts percolating in the deepest corners of my soul.
I was able to focus on my health, read a few books, took a lot of walks and did some amazing solo travel. I tapped into creative pursuits that had always been there, but hadn’t been exercised in along while.
Then, I began to remember who I was, I mean, who I really was. To my surprise I realized that I’m more of an introvert than I imagined. I came to recognize and appreciate some of the creative traits and habits I had inherited from my father. I understood what it must have been like for my mother when her career came to an end, her children had left the nest, her husband had passed away and she had to create new purpose and joy in her life. I developed a deeper sense of empathy and gratitude for both my parents.
Being alone taught me that my happiness and my joy is my job. We can not expect our partners or our children or anyone to be responsible for, or be, our only source of happiness. We must cultivate our own interests, hobbies and joy.
Being alone has power. Once we learn how to be alone and be happy, we can better recognize if our life choices are drawn from a place of happiness or loneliness.
My alone time is now something I look forward to. It’s during my alone time that I get to visit the best parts of myself and I remember what it is I’m here to do.
It is in this quiet space that I continue to lay down the stepping stones towards my own growth.
I’ve evolved my perception of loneliness over the past few years into an understanding that ~ Loneliness does not come from not having others around us, it comes from not knowing our purpose, our passions and ourselves.
Alone time, when we use it well, allows us time to think, to recharge, to be creative, to foster self reliance and helps us unearth our authentic selves. It also allows us to re-examine who we want in our lives and the types of relationships we want to cultivate.
I love the quote;
“Not all those who wander are lost”
~ from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem “The Riddle of Strider”, this quote echoes my own belief that ~ When we wander alone ~ we find ourselves.
When embraced, being alone can be peaceful, healing and healthy. It’s an opportunity to find ourselves without the commentary and expectations of anyone else and, just BE.
Individual freedom would imply you are not tied or tethered to anyone or anything. You are free to go, do, say or be whatever you want.
But, that’s not exactly the reality of the world we coexist in. We are individual human threads, interwoven across the colourful patchwork we call humanity.
None of us are completely free, nor will we ever be (well, until, you know😇). We are connected, whether we like it or not.
When the fabric at one end of the patchwork is torn, it affects us all and there is potential for ALL OF US to unravel.
It’s to our collective benefit ~ whether there’s a war, a pandemic or natural disaster~ to rally and support the piece of the patchwork that’s damaged or suffering. There’s a shared responsibility for “the whole”, to which we all benefit and to which we all have a responsibility. Bee’s get it🐝.
We spend a lot of time espousing our individual freedoms and rights, but not a lot of time teaching children (or ourselves) about our individual responsibilities and interdependence.
Despite what the song says, we are “NOT” Born Free. We are born into a hive that is completely interdependent and reliant on social cooperation. What happens to one of us, affects all of us.
“Bee” kind to each other and this beautiful, sort-of-happy, hive that is our shared home.
Is social media ruining our personal and romantic relationships?
Are we forgetting how to communicate?
Are adults spending too much time scrolling through pics of their ex, the cute girl or guy from the office or their latest obsession, when they should be spending time building and growing the important relationships in their lives?
Apparently, we are.
One third of all divorce cases since 2016 in the UK, cite “social media” in the proceedings as a cause for disharmony in the relationship. Another survey suggests one third of all relationship break ups “worldwide” are the results of social media behaviour and engagement. 😮
But let’s be clear, it’s not necessarily the fault of social media, it’s the temptation it breeds to be stealth, sneaky, and disengage from real relationships and engage in unfettered behaviour that’s causing the problem.
The ease in which people can scroll and get away with flirting, sexting, viewing, stalking and micro-cheating make it easy to engage online.
This environment also makes it easy for disinformation and conspiracy theory’s to be spread and wreak havoc on our family’s, and our personal and romantic relationships. I’ll write more about that on another day.
Good communication is essential to good relationships. Our obsession with social media has destroyed communications between partners, parents and their children and caused breakups between friends.
A 2015 poll of adults found that 89 per cent admitted they took out a phone to view social media during their last social gathering. 82 per cent say the conversation they we’re having, deteriorated after they did. 71 percent also admitted to using social media in ways they knew their partner wouldn’t like, e.g stalking an ex, flirting, staying connected to a crush or viewing pics of a cutie from work.
A number of studies also point to a decline in our mental health from over exposer to social media.
Social networking sites are rampant with opportunities for self-promotion and ego-boosting. The number of narcissists feeding on likes, new followers, complementary comments and love emoji‘s from those willing to offer them up to feed their own desires and fantasies, is staggering.
Both the narcissist and those following them (and enabling them) are contributing partially to the downfall of real life communications and relationships.
A study led by mental health research Julia Brailovskaia, showed that narcissism is associated with high levels of Facebook and Instagram use. Her study also shows, the need for popularity and ego boosting can be dangerously addictive.
Of course social media is not all bad. It allows us to stay connected, reconnect and reach out. However, when it takes us away from our primary relationships, makes us mentally unwell, impacts our real world communications, erodes trust in our romantic relationships or is being used to spread misleading information or cause harm, then maybe it’s time for a break.
There is so much information on this topic, so, I’ve posted a few links below which relate to the studies and information I’ve referenced above for those who are interested in this topic.
So, on this happy day-after-Valentine’s-post, I think it’s time for me to take a break, turn off my social media platforms for a bit, and spend some time in the real world.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, real world, rest of the week.
Waiting in line, waiting for the right time, the right person, the right place.
Waiting for winter, for spring, for summer and then waiting for fall.
Waiting for days to be warmer, then to be colder.
Waiting for the sun to rise, for the sun to set.
Waiting until we loose weight.
Waiting for our children to arrive, to walk, to talk, to go to school, to leave and then, waiting and hoping they’ll come back home.
Waiting to find a job, waiting to find a better job, then counting the days to retirement.
Waiting until we have money, waiting until we have more money.
Waiting to do the things we’ve always wanted to do.
Waiting for somethings to begin and others to end.
Waiting to find “the one” then, to find the next “one”. Waiting for the heartache and pain to go away.
Waiting to find ourselves and understand our purpose.
We barely remember the things we’ve been waiting for because the moment they arrive we start waiting for the next thing to show up.
As children we could hardly wait to grow up. Then as we get older things change. We want to slow it all down. We want to hold on to the few precious moments we get with those we love.
We become aware of how fast it’s all gone by. We try so hard to slow it down, to be present, but it keeps moving, even faster now.
Stop waiting and just BE. Appreciate where you’re at; even if it’s painful. Be grateful for this moment, this time, this lesson, the joy, the sorrow, whatever it is, BE with it. Be in awe of it and the learning that comes with it.
The day will arrive when you miss where you’re at today. You will look back on the most difficult times of your life and realize these were the most important and transformational moments of your life. They set the stage for the good things that followed.
You will also look back on all those special small moments and wished you had lingered in them longer. So linger in them now.
Spending time with a four year old or, a 94 year old, reminds us how wonderful it is to play, to laugh, to dream, to love, to observe butterflies and to spend time getting messy eating watermelon, planting flowers or making a campfire.
These wise older and younger souls will gladly take your hand and guide you to the forest or the seashore, as they know these places are extraordinary and make the best classrooms.
Time spent with little people and our elders affirm the fact that naps are necessary, the sun, the stars and the moon are absolutely magical and our beautiful planet deserves to be loved.
They’ll encourage you to be who you are, wear what you want (the more colour the better)and remind you to let others do the same.
Their animated and colourful stories will take you to places you forgot you were missing and remind you that the world is still a dazzling and fascinating place.
You’ll giggle as they whisper secrets in your ear and tell you it’s okay to talk to your cat, dog, bird or other animal because these creatures are wonderful friends and they always listen.
The young and the old teach us kindness, patients, compassion and the importance and beauty in being still when we stop to inhale the essence of a buttercup, tulip or a rose.
Never underestimate their wisdom and the powerful impact they can have on your well-being. Their lingering hugs and the enthusiastic excitement shown when they greet you, is a reminder that you’re awesome and you’re loved.
Human beings are at our best in the beginning of our journey and at the end. It’s during these periods we know what matters and we happily give love away.
The periods of life in between can be confusing. Our minds become overwhelmed and overstimulated by things not really important at all.
We seem to park the wisdom of our early years, somewhere along our path. If we’re lucky we find it again before this amazing adventure ends.
If you’re feeling lost, spending time with little people or your elders can be grounding and humbling. We were them, and we’ll be them again.
As a child I recall my parents, teachers, babysitters or other adults asking me questions where my response quite often was “I don’t know.”
– Why did you shave the cat?
– Why didn’t you do your homework?
– Who ate the dog food?
– What’s wrong with you?
– How did a bowl of macaroni and tang end up in the fridge?
– What are you going to do with your life?
– Why is there a chicken sitting on the couch?
My answer to all of the above ~
– “I don’t know.”
Then their response would be;
– “I don’t know,” is not an answer.
So, I’d be forced to make up some phoney-baloney answer about why I did something or why something happened. Even though the correct answer really was “I don’t know.”
Fast forward a couple decades and this “have-to-have an answer” programming, has gotten some of us into trouble as adults. We turned into “know it alls” who were taught to always come up with an answer or at least pretend we had one.
** believe me, when we try to camouflage the fact that we don’t know; people know we don’t know.**
This behaviour can then manifest into some people believing they do know more or better than the ones who really do (when clearly they do not). They can become dismisses of the opinions, comments, or suggestions of others, they may even blurt out random facts or answer questions that haven’t been asked, to demonstrate their astute knowledge on a range of topics. And thus, a new “know it all”is born.
I was in my mid thirties by the time I realized we ain’t fooling anybody when we play the game of know-it-all. We come off as rude, smug, arrogant or flippant.
None of us have ALL the answers.
We’re not supposed too. Knowledge of our own ignorance is a sign of wisdom and growth. According to Socrates, knowing that we know nothing – is both a sign of humility and perhaps genius.
So rather than teach our children that they must have answers, let’s teach them to ask questions, to listen and gain other insights and perspective to make sure they understand. This approach may breed more tolerance, compassion, understanding, acceptance and cooperation. (and wow, our world needs more of all that right now.)
There’s a sense of freedom and vulnerability when we utter the words “I don’t know” or when we lean into another person and say;
“Can you help me figure this out”
“I don’t understand,”
“Tell me more.”
The best leaders I’ve worked for were the ones who did more listening than talking. They asked for advice, admitted when they didn’t know, we’re constantly reading, learning and sharing what they knew. These leaders surrounded themselves with people who thought differently than they did and offered different perspectives.
Its not the job of a good leader to “know it all,” it’s their job to build a tribe of diverse individuals who bring a unique experience and wisdom to the collective. We should live our daily lives the same way, appreciating those that look, think and are different than us.
I found a message I had written in the margins of my 2001 journal, ( it’s what inspired this post) It read;
“Toni you’re smart, but if you ever think you know it all, remind yourself you don’t, you have some answers, but not all of them, when you’re lost, go find the ones that do.”
I thought back on 2001 trying to remember what might have prompted me to write that down. There were no real clues in my journal entry, so, the truth is “I don’t know.”
Love Toni 🌹❤️
**because I know you’re dying to know; The chicken (which turned out to be a rooster) was sitting on the couch because my younger sister had kidnapped it from school to save the poor thing from becoming a dissection project. 🐔❤️