The Power of a Few Kind Words

Your dreamA few years ago, thanks to a redundancy package, I was getting ready to leave my full-time government job and head off into the unexplored lands that lay beyond. It was my plan to spend the following year writing the first draft of my first book.

I’d been discussing this endeavour with my friend and colleague, Matt, and he was very supportive. He also wanted to write a book and was keen to support someone with a similar dream.

As my last day drew near, he would regularly stop by my desk and ask cheekily, ‘When you are going to send me the link to your blog?’

‘Before I go,’ I’d say. And he would nod, smile and move on.

At that stage, only a few close friends knew about my blog and I wrote under a pseudonym. But in a moment of weakness I’d succumbed to Matt’s questions and agreed to send him the details before I left. And he was not going to let me forget it.

My last day drew ever closer and Matt did not let up. He was determined and I was filled with dread. Matt is a journalist and as such, trained to write professionally. He knows his stuff. I on the other hand am a PR chick. I’ve written about lots of serious issues in my career for all types of publications but I’m not a trained journalist and my blog back then was about ‘frivolous’ issues like dating, men and having no clue about either of those things.

‘Who am I to think I can write?’ I thought to myself. ‘Matt is going to think it’s a complete load of rubbish! He’ll never take me seriously again.’

My last day arrived as did Matt, loitering near my desk once again. We exchanged goodbyes and he reminded me of my promise. ‘I won’t forget,’ I said. And he was gone.

Not long before I closed my computer down for the last time, I sent my blog link to him by email along with some words asking that he not judge it too harshly.

As the email departed from my screen, I felt mortified. I wanted to sink through the floor and hide forever. He was going to think I was completely lame. Oh, the embarrassment.

The next day (my first day of freedom), I got up, turned on my computer and logged into my emails. Matt had already sent me his thoughts on my writing.

I took a deep breath and began to read his words which were along the following lines.

‘Lucretia, I don’t know what all the fuss was about. There’s nothing wrong with your writing. You’re a writer, so write.’

He wrote a few other things that day and his words were incredibly supportive. I was so grateful. Those few sentences helped me to believe I could be taken seriously. His words helped me to take myself seriously. His words were a gift.

Later this year, I will be self-publishing my first book. It’s not highbrow and it’s not revolutionary. But it’s my story and the support of people like Matt over the past few years, has helped me believe that it’s worth putting out there.

Sometimes it’s kind words that can make the difference between following your dream or abandoning hope. So when someone says they believe you can do it, believe them.

And if you don’t have someone like a ‘Matt’ in your world right now, then you should know that I believe you can do it. Your dream is yours, so go for it.

I believe in you.

Good friends are blessings

friendship-quotesA good friend of mine is leaving town, literally. In just a few days she will be heading off on the next leg of her life’s journey in another city in another state.

We’ll keep in touch of course but, as she is currently lives closeby, we definitely won’t see each other quite so often.

Today she surprised me with an unexpected leaving gift. It was her way of saying thank you for all the fabulous chats we’ve shared, the laughs we’ve enjoyed and ways we’ve both helped each other through some challenging times. I was incredibly touched and I cried (of course) because I am big crier at the best of times.

True friendship is such a precious gift and sometimes we don’t appreciate how amazing it is until it’s about to leave. Other times we appreciate it but the person needs to leave anyway to continue their journey elsewhere.

I feel so blessed to have this friendship and I will miss my friend when she leaves town. But I will always, always appreciate the many intangible and wonderful gifts her friendship has given me and that will last no matter the physical distance between us.

Travel safely my friend, you know who you are. x

Is it time to let go of control?

let it goHave you ever noticed that when something isn’t going your way, you want to control it even more? You want something to happen and you want it really badly but it’s stopped down the track and it’s not moving. You can see it in the distance; it’s oh so close. But it’s not getting closer.

If you’re anything like me (and I know some of you are) this can occasionally bring on a ‘control meltdown’. This is the moment when you’ll feel like if other people would just get their act together then it would all work out. It will be the moment when you want to get in there and ‘sort the situation out’. It will be the time when you will feel determined to drag that thing towards you inch by painful inch until it’s where it’s supposed to be. You’ll feel stressed, anxious or even angry because you’ll want to control that situation and ‘make it happen.’

Sigh. I feel exhausted just thinking about it.

Things rarely work well if we try to control them. Life just isn’t like that. Instead it’s an organic thing that grows best with a little love and a lot less control. That’s just the way it is.

So much of what we’re taught is about control. For example, if I do X and Y then this will result and I will be able to create this outcome. But what if you’ve followed this formula and the outcome hasn’t eventuated? What then? Have you stuffed up the formula? Did you do it wrong? Is there something wrong with you or are ‘they’ to blame? Should you be doing more? Can you force it?

The questions will buzz around your head like flies and drive you crazy if you let them.

The truth is, all we can ever control is what we do in this moment. So my advice is (and trust me, I’m still working on this myself), if it’s not working and you believe you’ve done everything you can, then let it go. Allow it to eventuate or not. You can’t control the outcome and you certainly can’t control what other people are going to do. And you can’t force something to happen if it’s not supposed to.

Let it go and know all is as it should be. Often that’s when the thing you want will slide effortlessly into place and later you’ll wonder why you ever worried about it at all.

Is the past stalking you?

stalking pastWe all have those things in our past, those moments that go some way towards defining who we are and where we believe we fit in the world. They can be high points or low ones. Momentous occasions where the world felt like our oyster, or times when it felt like we would never be able to raise our head from the ground again.

Often, just when we think we’ve left those more difficult and challenging moments behind, they rear up before us. And in that moment we can feel like we’re right back where we started, struggling, a little lost and fearful of repeating that pattern from the past.

At times like these we can spiral, down into the depths of that place from where we came. Those attachments to the story of our past can be hard to break.

I have experienced this myself and it’s no fun. But in these moments, once I take a breath or two and bring myself back to the present, I remind myself of the following.

1.  The past happened but it’s done. And I am different and stronger because it happened and I lived through it.

2.  I will only repeat the patterns of the past if I don’t learn the lessons from the past. So I need to be honest with myself about why and how things happened and what my role was in that process. I am after all, not a victim of circumstance. I am not a passive participant in my own life.

3.  Wallowing is fine. Sometimes it is even necessary to fully experience and ‘sit in’ the memory or situation and learn from it. But sooner or later I will need to get up, wash myself off and keep going. That part is definitely up to me. There is no ‘rescue’ from myself.

4.  Sometimes the past stalks you just to let you know how far you’ve come. It’s a reminder of what you’ve learned and a sign the pattern no longer exists. It is simply a remnant from an older time. It is in those moments, when I finally realise the pattern is done, that I step into the light letting my past stalk by and disappear into the shadows behind me.

The Opposite of Being Sensible

Be meSomeone told me today that he was trying to make a decision involving two choices: a ‘sensible’ one and a not so sensible one.

It should be no surprise that I advocated for the non-sensible choice. Indeed the non-sensible choice is frequently my first choice.

Some might say that makes me irresponsible. And maybe they’d be right. When reviewing my own life decisions, some may not look very sensible from the outside. But you know what, on the inside they were usually completely about following my heart…and that as far as I’m concerned is always the right decision.

Often when asked to make a decision in life, we consider the ‘sensible’ option as the ‘right’ one. It will be the default choice because it frequently aligns with what’s expected of us by our family, our friends or the society we live in. Expectations can frame our understanding of our roles, how we live and what we believe we should we want.

Being ‘sensible’ will align with the expectations of those around us but will often be out of alignment with what we really want. It will be out of alignment with what our heart wants.

So if you’re faced with a decision and unsure what to do, I firmly believe you should ask yourself, ‘What do I really want? What will make me truly happy and be in alignment with my heart?’

Your final decision may still look sensible from the outside. Then again, it might not.

But whatever it looks like from the outside, you will know it’s the right decision for you on the inside.

It’s time to tell yourself a new story

Story of the past lucy and lifeA while ago I found myself advising a friend that he should tell himself a different story. He was really down and hard on himself. He felt like he couldn’t make any headway in the direction he wanted to go.

‘Tell yourself a different story,’ I said. ‘That story isn’t serving you anymore so tell yourself something different.’

Ironically, today I found myself saying the same thing…to me. And then I laughed aloud. It’s funny how the advice you give to others can often be just as useful for yourself.

I’ve been telling myself a story in one part of my life and that story isn’t serving me anymore. So now I need to tell myself a new one.

So often, particularly after something disappointing or hurtful happens (once, twice of maybe many times), we hold onto the story of that situation and then look for ways to validate it. We ignore the wonderful things right in front of us, i.e. the parts of our lives that are working beautifully, and instead focus on that same outdated story from the past. And by focusing on the story of our past we are doomed to repeat it.

Now I’m not saying your story wasn’t valid. Something happened to cause you pain and you should absolutely acknowledge, grieve and then heal that wound. But if you keep telling yourself that story, it will be all you ever see. It will restrict your life, confine you to the past and prevent you moving forward. And that would be a tragedy because there is a world of potential staring you in the face right now. I guarantee it.

So just as I hope my old friend eventually told himself a different story, one of hope, transformation and positivity, I plan to do the same in that part of my life where I’ve been holding back. Because that old story of my past is no longer serving me.

It’s time to let a new story begin

What to do when it’s not working

doing it wroWe can all have those times when things grind to a standstill. We will have plans that aren’t coming to fruition, hopes that aren’t being realised, our creativity will have crashed and burned, and we’re running but making no forward progress at all. It will feel like nothing is working.

It can be really challenging to keep up your motivation and I’ve uncovered a few tricks to help me in these times of need so I thought I’d share them with you today.

  1. Go outside and move your body. Sitting at your desk and glaring at your computer screen with frustration will not force your creativity to appear. Instead your creativity will wander off on its own to have a cup of tea elsewhere. Feeling the sun on your face will remind you how wonderful the natural world is and moving your body will get you out of your head (where over-thinking reigns supreme).
  2. Help someone else. When you feel like your stuff isn’t working, no matter how you try, it’s probably a good time to help someone else. It’s a true maxim that what you get is what you give in this world. So go out there and give just because you can. You’ll make someone else’s life easier and helping someone is a reward in itself.
  3. Take a different perspective. If things are stagnating then maybe you’re just doing it wrong. Take the time to step back and look at your situation from a different perspective. Consider if there is a completely new approach you could take. Ask someone else for their opinion if you think it will help. It could be your roadblock is actually forcing you to get on the right track in another direction.
  4. Take a creativity break and fill up your well. We all have activities that fill us up and make our souls sing. For me, I can walk into an art gallery, read a good book or wander through a library and instantly feel more centred, peaceful and happy. These things don’t cost me a cent either! So if you’re stuck, stop hitting your head against the brick wall (you’re just going to hurt yourself) and do something that fills your soul. Gift yourself an hour or an entire day to do that thing. I guarantee you will come back feeling refreshed and a lot calmer about the situation.
  5. The timing is wrong. Sometimes we’ll really want something to happen but the timing will just be wrong. And it won’t matter what you do, it just won’t happen when you want it to. So, if you’ve done everything you can and it’s still not happening, let it sit. Go and do something else for a while. Things happen when they’re supposed to.

I’m off for a creativity break now!