Project Me: 3/101 – Rome wasn’t built in a day?

I’m good at beginnings, I said yesterday. But not so good at endings. On the basis of today I’m not very good at the in-betweens either, and I’m just going to be honest about how I feel. You see, this nurturing malarkey is taking a while to get my head round, let alone live with.

Yesterday I spent time researching what nurturing might mean to others. I was trying to get ideas beyond the list i gave my friend yesterday and I got lots – even if not all of them appealed to me, but at least I was thinking about a new way of being. And I got a brilliant list of questions to journal on about what it all meant to ME from someone on Team Caroline, and I will journal about them but firstly I needed to give myself some space to filter them and then my brain was too tired to do anything after that. This could, of course be an avoidance tactic 😉

I went for quite a long walk with the dog yesterday, and ended up with blisters on my feet. I took the medication for my fibromyalgia as that was painful, as I figured that was a form of nurturing & it might help me sleep – but it didn’t, and it just made my head feel fuzzy! I set my alarm for 6 to have a walk before work (blisters covered) but I was so tired I changed my mind – yesterday I read that sometimes you nurture yourself by wakening up slowly. So I thought I’d try that instead – but I learned that I didn’t feel any better. I should have gone for the walk!

I didn’t nurture myself at lunch, eating on the run through a meeting. I didn’t enjoy my dinner of a new type of fish, which was late being served and because there was an argument at the table. I didn’t ask for help to do the dishes, figuring I shouldn’t have to – though I read asking for help is nurturing. Which makes sense but I’m not that good at that.

So I grumped about a bit and as football was on I came up to read or journal. Except I didn’t feel like doing either.

You can see I was having a real pity party! A half empty day. And when I feel like that there are a few options that work and if all else fails, I go for a walk or I go to sleep. This time I chose a walk. And as I walked, I breathed deeply – and that’s what made the difference. I felt energy returning and my mood lifting. So day 3 has shown me that:
– my type of nurturing is not someone else’s.
– I’m going to have some bad days when I don’t look after myself at all
– it’s trial and error to find what works
– some exercise is better than no exercise and I’m happier when I move
– asking for help is going to get easier!

Tomorrow is another day. That fact gives me hope! Beautiful as Rome is, it wasn’t built in a day – so I won’t be rebuilt in a day or two either.

The Art of Solitude

I live a hectic life, full of people and places to be. It was not always this way. Growing up as I did at the edge of an Irish country estate, in it’s former gate house, I was far away from school friends but that didn’t appear to matter a huge amount. I spent much of my days reading or in “my” woods, wandering freely for miles on my own.

Somewhere in between that time and now, life happened. Sometimes, the noise and business was necessary, because then I drowned out pain, hurt, rejection or loneliness. Sometimes it was necessary because if I allowed myself to be still, I would meet who I really was, and for so many years, it was easier to run than face that lack of perfection. But that was exhausting, and learning to love myself was, in the end, easier.

Now, I am happiest when with my family or my close friends, those who inspire & encourage me. Yet, still, I am finding that solitude is returning slowly, gently, peacefully. It’s a choice I make because my spirit longs for it. My journal always helps; it is as vital to me as breathing now.. But over the last few days the message of solitude, refuge, retreat has been so clear that I’m going to take myself off for a few days to allow myself to fully connect with all that I am so that I can be all I can be.

This will be difficult for me, and was something I may not have done. My diary is already full, while I have other demands not yet fitted in, I feel guilty leaving others – and I have hardly ever been on my own, silent, in so many years that I can’t imagine how I will cope with it. And then, I read this perfect poem…

It is a difficult
lesson to learn today,
to leave one’s friends
and family and deliberately
practise the art of solitude
for an hour or a day
or a week.
For me, the break
is most difficult….

And yet, once it is done,
I find there is a quality
to being alone that is
incredibly precious.

Life rushed back into the void,
richer,
more vivid,
fuller than before.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

My home is a peaceful haven (even in January)

“My home is a peaceful haven and I feel safe and loved.” Louise Hay

I’ve spent the most lovely weekend with my family and extended family.  On New Year’s Eve as we stood in a circle singing “Yon Bonny Banks” I could have burst with happiness.  And last night (well, about 1.30 a.m), Lee and I were talking about how good our lives are, and how much we have to be grateful for as we enter 2012, and that we might be in the minority of people in the world who feel that way.   Home is where my heart is, and I’m so grateful now to live in a happy, peaceful home. 

Change starts with little things

Which is not to say it’s perfect – we are human, and the house itself needs some work done.  Just little things, but in 2012, we will make those changes – that bedroom carpet I hate will get changed, the bathroom will have the bath boxed in and a new shower panel put up, the dining room will have the shelves put in that I want, and we might change the floors in the kitchen and utility rooms.  Little things that need done that could so easily be done.  That’s a good metaphor for life, really – it’s the small changes that make our life better after all.

Our haven, our cocoon

Even with these things that could be changed, our home remains perfect enough to be our haven, a cocoon from the madder and busier outside world.  I love my friends passionately and love spending time with them, connecting with them, being challenged by them, or supporting and encouraging them when they need it, as they do with me; but it pales against the passion I feel for my home now, and the peace and joy I know there.  (And I qualify that with the truth I learned in 2006/7 that if I lost that house tomorrow, I know it’s only a house as what matters is the people in it, and I know I can create a home wherever I want to do that.  I can do the same with a haven).

Creating your haven

One day, I’ll run “The Haven” as a retreat from a madder world – but for now, I’ll create my own haven as that longer journey begins here.  If you want your own haven, you will have to put some initial work in.  De-cluttering is vital – throw out what is no longer useful or attractive to you (or pass it on, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder).  De-clutter the closets and drawers as well; don’t hide stuff away behind closed doors – it is stil there, and still draining your energy.  Everything in your house should be there because it brings you happiness, either through memories connected to it, because of the fact it makes your life easier, or because it brings pleasure to your senses, so critically examine your belongings through those filters.  And as you take stuff away, decide to fill any spaces that are left with what brings you joy.  This does not need to be costly – it takes time and imagination, but you can even use other’s “junk” to do this, or you can go to many of the budget home places and find what you need easily.

Our haven and happiness

I’ts YOUR haven so it needs to reflect you.  If you don’t know what your haven might look like, start thinking and journaling on that one.  Use some home magazines and see what draws your eye, stick them into your journal and then copy what you see – you’ll personalise it easily to suit you.  Our haven has a lot of little pointers towards happiness – signs that say “laugh,” and “love,” posters and plagues that say happiness, ornaments that give us joy.

We also have a “happiness tree” where we attach little things to it that either make us happy or are memories of things that gave us happiness in a year.  This is our third year doing it, after a friend on Facebook said that they didn’t want the Christmas feeling to end, and I realised I felt the same, and the reason was because it was a season of general goodwill and happiness.  The first year, I got a tree branch and painted it and attached things to it, then we bought a metal tree with lots of branches and I’m just about to remove the various tickets, butterflies, corks, and tiny ornaments attached to it to prepare it for 2012.

Christmas trees and the January blues

 This year, I also do  not want to get rid of my Christmas tree because it’s so beautiful – but much and all as I feel that, I know that come mid January, it’s tinsel would look decidedly odd, and it’s particular baubles would look out of place.  The Christmas tree is a symbol of light in the middle of darkness, it’s symbolism steeped in ancient history – and yet, I’ve wondered why we don’t have something similar for January, seen as the “most depressing month because of the shortage of light (and usually lack of money caused by Christmas celebrations).   It’s like January is a waiting month – between the joy and celebration of Chrismas, and the extra light we start to see in February, heralded by my favourite flower, the snowdrop.  Yet if I see it as a “waiting month” or a “month to get through,” then I waste 31 special days of my all too short life.  So how to “get through January” while living in the present, so I’m not wishing the days away? 

January Joy Ritual

A few years ago I started to plan good things into January – massages, weekends away, catching up with friends – things to look forward to.  This year, I’m adding to that by creating a January Joy ritual.  Rituals are so important in life, particularly where change is required or to cope with change, as there is safety and peace and calmness in them (and what is Christmas with trees and cards, and presents if not a yearly ritual?)   Enjoying my home will be key to this, (so I can snuggle in it with warm rugs and the light of candles and good smells), and candles and lights will remain critical. 

I was going to hit the sales for a special candle holder, but then I remembered that we got a number of tall red candle holders for the tables at our wedding in 2005 that come out each Christmas, and I realised that I could use these, with some sort of baubles somewhere, as these reflect the light.   Now all I need is 30 quotes/songs we can use for each of the days, as we will light these at dinner time, and keep them lit for the rest of the evening – not as a countdown to light, but an appreciation of light in the middle of darkness..

What ritual might help you in January, and how can you make your home a haven, or more of a haven than it all-ready is?

And in the silence, I will hear

Leaving 2011 behind

I’m loving what people are affirming their intentions for 2012 will be… and there is a pattern there that I don’t remember seeing before.  It’s as if many know that external changes are desired, but the ultimate aim is to change internally in some way, to expect more from their lives or appreciate what they already have, or to grow in some way.  2011 is a year that many are glad to leave behind.  It gave opportunities for growth, it allowed others to accept “what is,” and yet others suffered the loss of loved ones or dealt with serious illness or dis-ease they never anticipated, and had they thought about it in advance, would have known they could not have coped.  Yet they all have survived, albeit changed. 

Lessons learned & learning to let go

Who knows what the next year will bring?  Since there is so much that is beyond our control, all we can do at the start of a year is set our intent, and ask that what happens is for our highest good.  I’ve had a most unusual year that I could never have foreseen this time last year.  It’s a year when I’ve made many mistakes, learned a lot of lessons about time. Energy, trust,  expectations and assumptions, and made a lot of new friends, (and probably enemies).  It’s also been a year when slowly, I’ve started to let go of things (including pride and my need to do everything myself) and people,( including those who wished to go of their own free will and those who just left without saying anything).  In the past, those who left or distanced themselves from me would have left me feeling dejected and rejected, but it’s testament to how I’m changing that I’ve allowed them to go -and asked that the Universe blesses them with love and joy, strength and peace as the go.  In itself, this is a miracle for me.  

Miracles R Us

Since I blogged on my intention for 2012, I’ve had a lot of questions about what a miracle is, and why I think I should see these – and frankly, I’ve no real idea, except that I’ve been drawn to this book many times and found it by a wonderful “accident” when on holidays.  I may study it and at the end know it’s not for me, but I start reading it with an open mind – and what IT says is that it doesn’t matter who or what you are, miracles are for you.  It doesn’t matter what your past  or background is, just know that they “undo the past in the present, and thus release the future.”  And franky, I’m up for that.

Passport at the ready

At this point, I’d say a miracle would be something that is way beyond what I could expect from natural laws, and indeed it might even be what others call grace, or others may call serendipity.   The Course in Miracles seems to have many definitions that I’ll be exploring for myself, and I expect it will be quite a journey internally and externally.  

And I will be exploring for myself.  I have a wide range of friends with various beliefs or “no” beliefs and I can see that a few of them do not help in living on a daily basis.  I know some who believe strongly in God who are deeply unhappy but appear jolly, and I know some who have no belief in God and who on the surface appear to have it all together, yet are also deeply unhappy and live lives that are so much less than they long for.  They are also those who think a focus on keeping your attitude positive is a waste of time, which I found to be quite interesting…  I start with a belief in a higher power, that is outside of us all and has positive intent for my life, and who is actually interested in me as an individual human being.  In that respect, I’m with Einstein, who said we should see the Universe as a friendly place, and that’s as good a view to take as any, given how the Reticular Activating System works.

Walking in truth

Once upon a time, I knew the truth, and that was the truth, the whole truth – and the only truth.  I fought hard to defend that truth from attack, and I lived from a place that knew that mine was the right truth, but now I know differently.  Not only do I have quite different beliefs about absolutism and fundamentalism, I know that my responsibility is simply to find MY truth and live it and breathe it.  It’s none of my nosy business what others do.  It is not for me to judge your walk against mine, or compare your beliefs with mine except to see which “fit” me.  Indeed, I do not have the time to judge or compare, if I am to concentrate on my walk and be open to my own soul lessons!  Instead,  knowing I have no right to meddle or interfere, I respect your right to walk in your truth, to learn your own lessons, to hear the voices you need to hear for the growth of your soul.  My only responsibility is to me; – and believe me when I say that this attitude is a miraculous change.

New Year’s Eve Silence

Today is New Year’s Eve (called Hogmanay in Scotland), and I have much to do to get the house ready for our guests and for tomorrow and next week.  I know that many are doing a massive house clean and tidy to “sweep out the old,” a great metaphor of what we want for our lives.  I’m not doing that, as I’m still not feeling that well, which at least reminds me that self-care and health are indeed to be a priority, but the girls have helped me do the essentials.  Normally, I would push myself on through it, but since I can’t shift what I’ve now had nearly continuously from September, I didn’t – and didn’t feel guilty because I knew I needed to take the time to heal.  And to be silent with my journal – and what I read was about immersing oneself in the immense silence to find God, the Divine, the Universe within in order to catch fire.  I haven’t started thinking about what that might mean….

Silence is a rare thing these days across the world, and a rare thing for me, given I fill my time up with people, social media, words, music, news, facts and anything that I believed would help me to grow and continuously improve.   But in leaving little space to breathe, this greediness for growth and knowing more meant that there was all-ways noise.  In being a multi-tasker instead of a mono-tasker, perhaps all I’ve really done is pick up little bits of lots of things and hold on to these, when little of it is of value to others, or to my soul.   In the noise, I cannot hear my heart speak.   So 2012 means it’s time to instead be greedy for silence and to now absorb what I all-ready know, and to focus on less instead of more.  And in the silence, I will hear, and in the hearing, learn to move from fear to love.

Every day is the best day in the year

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day,
and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt, crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a
new day;
begin it well and serenely,
with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be Your Own Hero

“You owe it to all of us to get on with what you’re good at.” W.H.Auden

I came across this quote yesterday via Jane Talbot of Humans Resourced on Facebook.  It remdinded me to stop dithering, or splashing round the edges of things I could do – and stop standing in the shadows.  We all have gifts, and so many of us long to do something other than what we do now, but don’t take the action we need to take.  The statements below would be good ones to work through with your journal; what do they mean to you?  Find your answers within; too often, we look to others to guide, direct, lead – when all the time we could do it ourselves/  We could be our own heroes.    The world – YOUR world – is just waiting for you to be yourself….. –

 

  1. I shall not obsess over others’ success: not copying, idolizing, or mindlessly emulating.
  2. I shall know my purpose and know why I’m doing something.
  3. I shall ally myself to a tribe with a common purpose, though the tribe’s members may work in vastly different fields and forms.
  4. I will make ideas stronger by uniting with others to do great work, not by holding my ideas all to myself but releasing them into the wild.
  5. I recognize the truth in the credo that the future is not created, the future is co-created and will do my part as a part of the whole.

Nilofer Merchant

If YOU had your life to live over….?

Erma Bombeck’s “If I had my life over” are about living life in the present, and about doing what you really want to do instead of what you feel others expect you to do, or what you feel you have to do.  They are struck such a chord because she realised once it was too late that life is short and your time should be spent on what makes your heart smile and on the people you love.  I hope she lived the rest of her life on the back of the wisdom she gained through perspective, and was gentle on herself too, because we do the best we can with the resources we have at any given time. 

Isn’t it good, though, to be reminded that life is about love, fun, living life large and joy in little things?  If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently? Spend some time writing about that in your journal.  Forgive yourself for mistakes you made knowing they got you to where you are now; forgive others for things they did knowing they got you to where you are now.   Wasting another second on bitterness or regret is wasting a precious second you won’t get again, so turn your face towards tomorrow.  Know that NOW is where tomorrow starts, and NOW you can make the choices that are going to serve you best and allow you to live life the way you want to live.  Now you know what advice you would give your younger self, what parts of that are things you still want to do or live by.  Figure that out, and then just do it.  Do it!

Wisdom is all around you.  I asked some friends what they would say to their younger self, if they could live their life over, and I love these replies:

Karen Spohr works as an employment law consultant for a major blue chip organisation, and said, “Do with your life what YOU want rather than what you think will give you more kudos from friends, partners, and family members……….”

Marcia Christian is a teacher and counsellor and said, “Care more about how God feels about you than others do, in other words, live knowing that you are the apple of His eye and so invest in this relationship above all others. Life is an adventure with Him.  It’s a good exercise, making me feel incredibly blessed by my heavenly Father, doting on me…but I didn’t really realize then and am only beginning to do so now!”

Liz Farrell is also an employment law consultant and sits on employment tribunals.  Her sister had a very sudden stroke while still a relatively young woman, and she says,  “Value your relationships, they are not guaranteed – family and friends will not always be around – so don’t regret how you treat them now.”

Linzi Paton works for UPS and has survived a very difficult childhood.  She says, “I would say to be more aware of people and their behaviours; how, if you let them they can offer you a multitude of experience and support or they can suck your energy dry. Listen to their points of views about relationships, jobs, travelling etc but do not ever let them control your decision.  Once you have made a decision, they are not the ones that will either reap the reward from it nor are they the ones that suffer from that feeling when you have made the wrong ones. You control your own destiny – believe in your self and enjoy what the world has to offer.”

Madaline Alexander is a Service Manager with a Cancer charity, and a specialist in hypnotherapy for parents and babies.  She says, “Don’t ever think that you are too old to do ANYTHING – no matter how old you get, you will always look at people who are younger than you and think “they are still so young”.  ……So long as you are fit enough, just do it and enjoy every minute of it! That way you will always think you are young.  Enjoy life!”

Kerry O’Connor is currently on a career break helping with a charity in Africa.  She says, “Fate definitely steps in sometimes so remember even big mistakes can lead you on to something else valuable that you wouldn’t otherwise have found, i.e. by taking the perfect path, and you’ll be a better person to know for it in the end (even if it may really suck in the short term!).  And it sounds like a cliché but enjoy your parents while you live at home (or they are around helping you get to university, organise your first car or flat or acting as you’re PA whilst you are overseas!) – I guarantee that whatever kind of relationship you have or however many fights, you’ll always miss them throughout any part of your life that they are not around & might regret losing patience with them when they were as you reach the same life stages & choices that they did – you will be very lucky to find others in your life who are anywhere near so unconditionally committed to your happiness so let them know you appreciate it once in a while. Don’t wish away time rushing through achievements just ticking boxes – enjoy the journey (e.g. poor student years but your time is largely your own) – you’ll realise there are years & years ahead to enjoy being sorted/responsible so make sure you have sampled every place, taste and experience you can possibly fit in before you even think about settling down – time speeds up more than you expect the more adult years you get under your belt & the ‘to do before I’m 30′ list should be long enough that you have to start now to get though it all – being 30 (or knowing that is your next milestone!) will still be scary but at least you will have loads of fantastic friends & memories to cushion the blow.”

Alison Lawson is a freelance business consultant, and says, “Now, the present, is all we have, so use it wisely. Fill it full of things and people you enjoy. Love and honour every moment and do not waste a second of that time on people who chose not to love and honour it with you. Never look back. Love and care for yourself – in doing this you will give those around you permission to do the same. Suit yourself more than you suit others. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else they are more screwed up than you think. Travel extensively and take the time to enjoy the journey. Slow down, take your time and savour every moment.”

Rosie Toner works in the arena of sexual health and says, “’Never give up – follow your dreams’ ‘develop your intuition, it will service you well, ‘trust yourself’ ‘laugh a lot’ ‘play safe and insist he wears condoms! If I was to choose one I am afraid it would have to be ‘play safe and insist he wears condoms- to keep all avenues covered so to speak!”

Mary McPherson, founder of The Relaxation Company says, “you can only do whatever makes you feel good – listen to the voice inside which gives you that feeling and went on to say.”   

And perhaps my favourite comes from Jane Talbot of Humans Resourced.  She says, “”As you live recklessly and freely now…do it forever. As you love now…freely and with abandon..love like this forever.. As you feel alive now..feel like this forever…”

If you had your life to live over, what wisdom would you pass on?

The Haven

The best laid plans

At the beginning of this year, I said that THIS year was going to be my year of knowing a healthy balance and outrageous joy.  I set myself a theme for the year based on what I find in my journals from the year before rather than making a list of New Year’s Resolutions, and it works well.  Normally. 

Time Tardis

My year of  “healthy balance” turned out to be the busiest of my life.  Ever; and that’s pretty impressive for someone who has been told that she lives in a Time Tardis with 48 hours in her day.  Except managing to squeeze even more into my life isn’t necessarily impressive (and has meant some things that are really important to me, like family, friends and spirituality have been somewhat squeezed out).

Let me tell you that had I not had this theme to return to constantly, I don’t think I’d have handled the pressure this year brought.   When I came up with that theme, I couldn’t ever have expected my year to unfold in the way it did, so I became a campaigner,  for a while forced into the spotlight and going down a route I never saw when I resigned as a JP.  All I wanted to do was get people talking about where our society is failing us, and our young people.  I was only ever going to be a reluctant face at the forefront of any campaign; I’m always happier in the background of any party, even my own.  Which is funny as I did end up standing for my own “party” as an MSP! A route that I went down after requests to do it and in the end I realised I couldn’t lose if I did stand, as it would keep attention on the issues – which it did, and in all sorts of ways I could never have anticipated! And I don’t regret any of it, even the lessons I learned, or the fractured ankle which I realised in hindsight gave me breathing space when I had none.

My Path

My only problem was other people’s expectations.  I forgot that I lived for 40 years doing what other people expected me to do before deciding to walk my own path – and I fell back into that pattern.  Up until two weeks ago I was really struggling with all I wanted to do and what was expected of me, getting to the stage where I just could not think and I could not see how all the parts of my life could be integrated.  With Lee’s support, we chose to go on a two week holiday to two out of the way places in Scotland just so there wasn’t much to do and so I’d have time to think, and journal.  I knew I needed a haven – and I found several.  In the space they created, and with the magic of journaling, I found my answers.  I realised my ultimate purpose is to inspire, nurture and encourage (pretty cool that these happen to be the last three initials in my name, eh?); and that includes ME.  There are others who are taking the fight on knife crime and sentencing forward with more skill and energy than I can (thanks to Campaign for Change).  I will continue to keep this in the public eye where I can, but I know now my heart (and therefore my true ability to make a difference) is in supporting some of the victims of crime and in getting involved in projects that change hearts. 

Serendipty

I also know that is only one hat I will wear, as my main focus will be on journaling and happiness.  I’ve had all sorts of amazing adventures and experiences of serendipity as well, confirming this is the path I need to walk (including finding I was staying at a place called the Haven, and sitting down on a bench to enjoy the sun, getting chatting to the lady on the next bench and finding out Anthea was a retired behavioural psychologist running a stress course on the island.  Which I attended the last day of, as others had pulled out due to other commitments – which created the space for me!)  This is my path, not the path others would want for me, but my path.  And I’m loving it.

My Haven

And – you heard it here first. One day – and I don’t know how, but that really doesn’t matter – I’m going to run a Haven.  A place where people who’ve got to overload or who can’t cope with life as-it-is-at-that-point can come to reconnect with themselves or find peace and calm.  I’m also going to live by the sea.  I’ve come off the roundabout that was life for a while, and finding a healthy balance.  I know there is more to life than making it go faster, so I’m just enjoying the way my life is unfolding, the new friends I’m making, the fact that that one step is leading to another…. and I’m beginning to know outrageous

On doing the “right” thing…

Decisions, decisions. Before every action, there’s a thought. You might not ever be consciously aware of your thought, but it was there all the same.

In the film “Parallel Doors” we observe the different routes life could go on the basis of one choice and the film shows us the consequence of each choice. Yet that’s always only ever a philosophical debate. The fact is we make choices every minute of every day that impact our future. Right down to what we eat and drink and whether we turn left or right, act or don’t act. Choosing is how we live, it’s just that we often make our choices unconsciously.

When you consciously know there is a decision to be made, do you regularly make it easily? Or do you agonise over decisions for hours or days, seeking second and third opinions from people and suffer from paralysis by analysis? After all, what if you make the “wrong” decision? If making decisions is a major issue for you, then even deciding if you want coffee or tea might cause anxiety. (It also means you’ve lost touch with who you are and what you think and want from life. Could be time to get your journal out……)

When it comes to major decisions though, I know that in the past, I found myself stuck – and not just paralysed by indecision and fear of making a “wrong” choice – but unable to see any options at all.

This was particularly the case when my thinking meant that I evaluated right/wrong choices on the basis of other people. I could only see how what was right for ME could mean hard times, tears and pain for others. This concern for others in doing “the right thing” paralysed me just as much as fear of the unknown. And sadly, this has also led to me getting to the point where the dam inside just burst, and I ended up wading through the wreckage the flood left behind.

But wading through that wreckage and rebuilding a life again helped me to understand (in hindsight) that no choice I make is ever strictly a “wrong” choice, EVEN when MY decision could be the “right” decision for me – but the “wrong” one for someone else, or for the collective group. It’s simply the right choice for me if I’m to live authentically.

Yesterday, I read this quote from Gary Smit who wrote, “Choosing to do the right thing means you are going to have to withdraw from the wrong choices you made. Be easy about it and flow towards your desires, making better choices every day, and then the withdrawal from old choices will be less, than if you were to make new choices while beating yourself up over old choices.”

In this context, as Natalie (who had posted it on Facebook) pointed out, this was about people who make wrong choices – and then continue to make them. That’s a different issue, though still about choice and it means there then comes a point when someone is running a wrong-choice pattern, they need to withdraw from those and start to make better choices. Now that’s wise. Sometimes we learn easily and are “once bitten, twice shy.” And sometimes we need to see the patterns we run because only then can we change.

Certainly, there is little value in beating yourself up about past choices. You did what you did at the time on the basis of who you were then with the values, beliefs and experiences you had to that point. It’s that hindsight thing again!

For that reason, if you spend time weighing up the options, there comes a point where a decision needs made. Agonising and dithering means a lot of anxiety or the pressure of being stuck; and a lot can still happen even while that’s how you feel.

Even when you are between a “rock and a hard place” you must at last make a choice to live and at the very least, you try one option. Otherwise you end up like the donkey who couldn’t choose between two bales of hay and starves to death – a rather drastic consequence of his indecision – but you get the idea.

Make a decision and know that you made the best choice at the time. There IS no failure, only feedback. It you make a decision that doesn’t “work out,” you learn from it and move on, living with the consequences and still learn from that. It’s all good.

Sometimes, of course, you make the “right” choice. You weigh up your actions and possibilities and you are more than happy with your choice. And then something happens to make you re-evaluate things completely, and you change direction. Does that mean your first choice was wrong and you should beat yourself up about it? Of course not! We are human beings living in an uncertain world, and life happens in the middle of our plans. You made that decision on the basis of who you were then; it’s quite possible that the experience you gained through that is exactly why you realise you need to make a different choice.

If you are to live authentically, you must be able to listen to your heart and be flexible enough to change so that how you LIVE now fits with who you ARE. now. The course of your life could pivot on that choice; only hindsight will tell that. For now, it’s YOUR choice to take a different road and even if it’s less travelled, all you need to know is that it’s the right road for you to take.