The Journey to Publication, Writing

Sending You Peace and Calm … Just When You Need It

It seems like come the end of November, the craziness factor starts to spin out of control, and by the time you hit December, you kind of feel like running away into the snow screaming and never, ever coming back. Or, you know, that could just be me. 😉

I love Christmas. I love making presents with the anticipation of the reaction of the recipient. I actually woke the kidlet up last year because I couldn’t wait for her to experience Christmas morning (and yes, I still find it hard to sleep on Christmas Eve). And for me, a big part of Christmas is the annual party I hold every year, which has almost become like I get two “Christmas days” since I work to have everything ready before my party (when the conditions are ideal). And, seeing as the party comes before Christmas, it leaves me the rest of December to anticipate Christmas without stressing out.

taoofpoohProblem is, this year it was the party itself that was stressing me out. It was this past Saturday, and frankly, by Friday night I was about ready to call everyone and tell them not to come. Now, it’s not even a super formal party, it’s not big, and we’ve done it so long everyone kind of knows the routine with what we’ll have to eat, what they’ll bring, what we’ll do. But with the arrival of kids, things have shifted a bit. And then there were issues. And then …

Well, remember that image of wanting to running away into the snow and never coming back?
Then I picked up “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. And as I was given a simple introduction to Taoism, I found calm seep over me. While I strongly recommend you pick up this book (totally worth it!), I wanted to share some of what I got from it, and what helps calm me as I read and consider it each night.

It is as it is. This statement is something I’ve said before, a simple chant to remember that we can rail against how unfair things are, things we dislike, things we wish to change, etc, etc, but it changes nothing. Instead, simply accepting the situation and moving forward offers a more peaceful answer. I’ve been working to accept this after some incidents at the part, and in general. But no matter what happened, or what I might have wanted to happen, or maybe what should have happened – all those suppositions change nothing. What happened, what is, IS.

Be Present. Are you too busy being busy to live? December tends to push things out of the norm, making us more stressed and feel the demands of expectation, family, etc. But there are times throughout the year when we feel like we’re running as fast as we can getting everything done, and can’t possibly catch up. We find ourselves so busy being, well, busy at something that we don’t accomplish anything – and worse, we miss out on some of the really important things, like spending time with family, appreciating who and what we have, expressing gratitude, and simply enjoying the world and being alive. The recommended solution? Be present in the moment instead of living for whatever comes next. Live today, breathing in this moment’s air, the sights, sounds, and feeling, savouring life.

Savour the time you have. Are all those time-saving devices you have stealing all your time? Fact is, time just is (see first statement). There is no saving it, because it continues to march on and doesn’t much care what we think. And the more we stare at a clock or worry about getting to the store on time, the faster that clock seems to go. But have you ever just spent the afternoon away from any of that? Away from a clock or any form of time keeping device and instead just existed? You did what needed or what you wanted to get done, and sure, time passed, but it didn’t seem to race past as quickly, did it? So take the time to breathe, to ignore the clock, and enjoy the moment rather than worry about it’s passing and miss out.

Enjoy the Journey. Christmas is an easy example for this one where we rush and make ourselves crazy to get to just that one day … then in just a few short moments, the gifts are torn open and it’s all done, all the excitement and magic we built up just sort of drained away. In the same way, we can live our whole lives also reaching for the next promotion, the next step in our career path, determined that the next book, the next project will give us all the rainbows and ponies we can want, and THEN we can be happy, even if after that step, there’s always another and another. What about today? What about now? Why now enjoy the whole trip there, paying careful attention to those moments when we know we’re content and stretching them out? Why not remember what the real purpose is behind our actions – why we do what we do. For Christmas, it isn’t just about that one day and giving a gift because you’re supposed to, is it? You don’t just write the book to make millions of dollars, do you? What about the pleasure of giving and creating?

Okay, so hope that helps make your December a little bit easier, and that there are a few less people racing off into the snow. 😉

What do you think?

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and take a bit of time to breathe and be happy yourself, hmm? Take care.







The Journey to Publication, Writing

Serenity … I’m working on it

scotland2007-390.jpgWith a new year, I seem to want to run all different directions and start seven billion new projects. I don’t know … maybe it’s like seeing a fresh patch of snow and wanting to run through and leave your footprints. A new year, all that time, all that space … evidently I need to fill it up with more things than I could ever manage. The problem with this is that running around metaphorically in my head leaves me grasping for straws when it comes to writing. It means I lack clarity and focus.

And then I found this quote in, interestingly, my very clever day-planner calender (yes, an object is evidently more clever than me).

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.” – Anonymous

Let it soak in for a moment as I did. And then realize how foolish it is to think you can’t focus because of the internal chaos and noise. What was I waiting for? Silence? If my brain was completely silent, completely still, I’d be dead.

Besides which, serenity is internal. It’s as self-created as the chaos is. WE decide when and how we will feel and experience serenity. WE create it in our minds, by hollowing out a quiet part, or learning to push all the rest of the obnoxious chatter aside. And as we sit down to create – whether that’s writing or some other kind of art – we reach for that inner serenity, and we control and utilize it at will.

Sounds “easy,” right?

In a lot of ways, it is. The ideally timed quote stopped me in the tracks and made me realize how much I was running myself in circles. But there are other ways we can find serenity. Here are some of the things that have worked for me:

  1. Create something with your hands that occupies you physically, but requires little mental focus. The act of that creation – and the small amount of thought that requires – quiets the noise in your head, thus freeing you to think more calmly with the rhythm of the activity. For me, crocheting and spinning are both extremely calming because I’m using my hands and my mind, but the rhythm of the activity lets my thoughts quietly cascade and I can consider a problem from all angles without stress.
  2. Take a walk (or a run, if that’s more your style). Lift your head up and experience the present of the moment you’re in. Let your footsteps guide the pace of your thoughts and calm you. Either that, or burn off excess stress-energy with something more vigorous.
  3. Write it down. I am perhaps the least consistent of journalists, but when something is distracting me, writing it down – every annoying thought that keeps distracting you or keeping you awake at night, and then physically and intentionally setting it aside does seem to help. Nope, you don’t even need a fancy book – type it on your laptop, or scribble on a scrap of paper. It’s just about getting it out of you and somewhere else.
  4. Take a bath or shower. I don’t have the patience for sitting around in a tub of water (yes, this may be a symptom of not being very good at relaxing either). However, I find hot water, steam, and privacy help me think – it’s where I often come up with my best ideas and solutions. It seems to have something to do with the water, so swimming or perhaps spending time near a lake or ocean might work, too.
  5. Quietly experience nature. I’m fortunate enough to live outside a city and near a lake, though I don’t often walk down there. Just going into the backyard, listening to the bees and other critters, smelling the flowers, etc. It sounds like a cliche, but it is calming in the way so much happens in nature all the time, and yet it’s never “stressed” – it just is.
  6. If all else fails, find somewhere to scream your frustration aloud … and accidentally be witnessed by someone like a small child, who looks at you like you’re an idiot, and you realize you might be. If nothing else, it usually makes you smile.

So, how do you find serenity? Is it a place inside of you, or out? Or is serenity the last thing you want? Love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!