When the only thing that’s productive is your cough..

Okay, firstly I’m sorry for the gross title, I just couldn’t resist the pun!

One of the things I’ve been worried about with this whole self-employed lifestyle is what will happen if I get sick. With all the pressure on me to make things happen, to give my time and energy into making it work and coming up with the needed funds to live, I was petrified of how much catching a virus could throw me into a tailspin and full-blown crash.

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So I’m 4 weeks into my new venture and for the past two weeks I’ve been knocked-on-my-ass sick. In true Jeana-fashion, influenza turned into bronchitis making getting business ideas off the ground – or sleeping for that matter – near impossible.

My first two weeks I was rocking it. Going to yoga daily, getting outside, meditating, keeping the house spick and span, and working on my business goals ferociously. Now my house is a mess, I haven’t been well enough to go to yoga, spend time with tribe, or have any energy to be a kick ass entrepreneur.

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I was sitting on my deck today curled up in a blanket (determined to get some fresh air) reading a go-get-em business/life book hacking up a lung or two, and I stopped to think.. “What happened to me?  *cough cough cough* I was so enthusiastic and making gains with new projects..and now nothing.  *cough cough cough* Why can’t I get my act together??  *cough cough cough*

What happened to me? Is this proof of some sort of personal failure and my inability to make things happen? Did I discover a lack of drive or discipline to go after what I want?

OR.. did I just get sick?

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And that’s when I realized the whole situation of getting sick that I was terrified of happening, the impassable obstacle and certain doomsday that would befall me if I were to fall ill, well, it happened. It happened right out of the gate. And yes, I am certainly not where I want to be and haven’t made the progress I was hoping for in a month, but I am still here.

tiredI realize that I need to have patience with myself because evaluating myself right now, in my less than ideal state, isn’t going to help me move forward. It’s not over, it was just delayed. And that being said, there are some things I’ve been able to do and learn and make progress on, despite the exhaustion. It’s just so easy to disregard the good things you’ve done when you feel so shitty. The inner bully is an opportunist it seems, ready to weasel it’s way in when our defenses are down. In my experience when I’m feeling weaker I haven’t been able to stop the bully from getting in. What I have been able to do is notice when it has taken over and choose to see it’s judgments and hateful remarks for what they are – bullying. 

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I have found reflecting on this weaker state useful to help me identify my triggers and clarify and confirm what it takes for me to feel strong (what I’m lacking when feeling weaker). Doing this helps me know myself even better. It also helps me bring compassion and understanding to why I feel the way I do, and most importantly to understand that it is temporary and that I have the power to change it. I might be at the mercy of my illness to some degree, but I know exactly how I’m going to get back to strong and healthy me as soon as my lungs cooperate.

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Sitting here reflecting on this now, I’m kind of happy it happened so quickly. Now it’s not this thing that might befall me at anytime that would ensure my failure. It no longer gets to be that. It’s just something that is frustrating, adds delays, makes me feel temporarily weaker, and provides many many opportunities to practice patience, self-awareness, self-compassion, and non-judgment.

 

My Sink Scrubbing Epiphany

Making the conscious choice to let go. It starts by noticing when you’re holding on.

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After scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, I went to clean my house. I found myself ranting inside my head, responses to a post, as if I was in a debate with that person at that very moment. I was having this one sided conversation, and feeling the anger and agitation build within. The death grip in my mind was mirrored by my white knuckled grasp on the sponge.

And then I paused.

Am I going to let this control my state of mind right now? What are my choices here?

Am I actually going to put a response on Facebook and start shit, or am I not going to do that? The answer for me in this situation was no, I wasn’t going to reply to this person. So, what then? Why take up my time ranting away, formulating a meticulous argument I never plan to use?

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The occurrence of getting stuck on something I hear, read, or a conversation I had earlier that day (or week) is not new for me – I can easily get caught ruminating over it and having full blown conversations in my head with the best arguments and retorts there ever were. It robs me of my peace of mind; keeping me activated in this defensive anger and irritation. It’s not a fun place to be.

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This time was different. I brought my awareness to the choices I had, and actively chose what I was going to do/ not do. By doing this, I was able to also choose to let it be. It was clear after consciously making that choice that this didn’t need or deserve anymore of my attention or peace of mind. And yes, my mind continued to wander back there from time to time (I mean, come on, scrubbing bathrooms really isn’t that fun), but when I noticed my mind wandering back or coming up with new points to argue, I reminded myself of the choice I made and let it go..again.

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This was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me, as simple as it was – the tiny pause I took while scrubbing the sink. It speaks to a choice that for a long time I didn’t realize was there; I didn’t understand the power I had when it felt like my mind was holding me hostage. Now I know that when I notice I’m caught up chasing thoughts; I can actively choose to continue to follow it, or to stop running and let it go.

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Notice.

Oh awareness, the Allen Key to all DIY self-improvement projects. Noticing when your mind is hooked and ruminating, noticing when you are slipping away from your calm new-brainy state, noticing that you have a choice, and then noticing again and again when your mind tries to go rogue. It’s really too bad that every experience didn’t come with the ‘Awareness Key’ packaged nicely in a labelled plastic bag, along with instructions about how to use it to assemble the lesson at hand.

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Choice.

Simply bringing myself back to the choice I have in every moment is a bit mind-blowing. Okay, I see this frustration. What am I going to do about it? Am I going to reply, start another conversation, etc? OR do I not actually want to take action, and my endless ruminating is simply taking up my precious mind-space for no reason whatsoever?

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Sometimes, it is actually the first choice. I do want or need to do something about it, take some sort of action. This is helpful to make clear to yourself because then you can move on to the next phase of putting in a plan of what you are going to do about it. Going over it in your mind can even be a great way to rehearse doing what needs to be done, if you do it mindfully. Making the conscious choice helps you clarify your intention, which will give your internal dialogue a purpose – and will stop it from rambling on relentlessly and getting off course.

And if you ask yourself this question and find that it is the latter (like most of my experiences) then you can make the active choice to let it go. Unless you’d rather become a master in one-sided debating. And that’s your choice.

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The choice we always have, 100% of the time, how we choose to respond. To other people, to situations, to our relentless mind. It’s choice. It’s power. It’s freedom – if we want it to be.

Since my sink scrubbing epiphany I have made it a habit to look for my choice everywhere. I pause and ask myself “What is my choice here?” and so far I have found the experiment very eye-opening and empowering. Unfortunately I don’t remember as much as I would like, often forgetting to bring my nifty tool awareness along for the ride.

So my plan now?

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I’m putting this in my pocket.

And I encourage you all to do the same, in one way or another. 🙂

Why Do I Keep Doing This to Myself?!

You know how Cheryl Strayed says “Put yourself in the way of beauty”? Well apparently I’m determined to put myself in the way of uncomfortable, panic-inducing situations, of which I’m terrified.

This has been a recent trend for me over the last couple years; from trying contact improv dance classes to hanging off the CN tower, I’ve been dedicated to these ventures of what I’ve come to call fear-seeking.

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And here I go again. I just signed up to do a public reading of childhood writing at a live show called “Adults Read Things They Wrote As Kids”. It’s a podcast I have been listening to for a long time that I really enjoy. I have always thought it would be a cool thing to do – reading my former-self’s writing has always been amusing to me. So when I received the email in my inbox two hours ago, I took the leap and filled out my information to be a reader before my mind could talk me out of it.

And now I’m sitting here asking myself, “What did I just do?? Why do I keep doing this myself?!”

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Sure, I have always thought it would be a cool thing to do in theory. But I hate.. absolutely HATE public speaking. I hate being the center of attention in a crowd. It makes me breathless and slightly nauseous just thinking about it. And, unlike the latest public speaking fear-seeking opportunity I said yes to, this isn’t advancing my business. In fact, it would almost seem pointless – like I’m torturing myself for no reason at all.

So why? Why am I so addicted to fear-seeking?

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I’ve been thinking about this and I believe it’s my personal FUCK YOU to fear. I’ve become agonizingly aware of just how much fear has ruled my life and now that I am in control – I want to push back. I don’t just want to go along doing the many little, yet significant, things that help me hold my own, go after what I want, and live my values, I want to prove to myself that I can do all things that fear holds me back from. I want to prove just how much fear cannot stand in my way.

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Consciously jump into situations that make my head swirl with fears and panic, and come out on the other side. Reassure myself I can survive it. Solidify the notion that the level of fear FELT does not determine my ABILITY to persevere.

The idea of doing these things before would have been met with a swift “I COULD NEVER DO THAT!”, “If only I wasn’t such a scaredy cat”, “If only I wasn’t shy”, “If only I didn’t suffer from panic attacks”.. and the list goes on.

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But now my desire to be this “fear can’t stop me” superwoman makes me seek out these opportunities to prove to myself – especially that part of me that still goes into overdrive imagining stumbling over my words on stage – that I actually, CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TOregardless of those doubts and judgments, regardless of my ongoing battle with anxiety and panic attacks, regardless of fear and all the uncomfortableness it brings. Fear can’t stop me anymore.

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It seems these big events, these times I shove my awesomeness (or at least my “I’m doing it regardless” attitude) in the face of fear – the more it’s getting the message that it’s not in control. The more I’m owning my life.

These events, though they may seem insignificant, ridiculous, or perhaps even ludicrous to others, are substantial to my journey because they are declarations of my commitment to my dragon self. It’s me, proving to myself once again that FEAR is no obstacle (please note I did not say FEAR is nonexistent). FEAR is not the one controlling what I do and don’t do, who I am and who I’m not. It doesn’t define me.

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These declarations not only help me commit over and over to be the person I want to be, they act as anchors when I doubt my ability to pursue the life I want.

Fear is a part of my life, often a bigger part than I’d like, but when it comes down to it – its existence is becoming more and more inconsequential. It’s a passenger on my bus. I can accept that it will always have a seat, but it is extremely empowering to drive where I want – and know the only thing it can do is squeal from the background.

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In fact, what I have found from examining this fear-seeking behaviour, is that it seems my fear is actually motivating me to take new paths – to test just how much squealing I can put up with and still drive the bus.

A life of courage, where I choose to courageously and unwaveringly be the dragon and go after the life I want. A life where I don’t reject fear’s existence, but fully reject being controlled by it.

Dear Fear...
Dear Fear..

So, November 5th I’m set to take the stage. My voice may shake and I may fall flat on my face walking up to the mic, but I will do it all as the fear-seeking dragon I have become.

New Adventures in Guest Blogging

When I was asked to write a guest post (for Inspired Living Medical) I was elated, excited, and honoured. And then.. fearful, doubtful, and panicked.

How do I force myself to write when I usually write about things that come up naturally, being inspired by whatever is happening in my life at the moment? The topic isn’t planned – it’s just there. This makes for quite a weird method when it comes to trying to actually put pen to paper for a purpose. It’s unsettling and makes me feel like I am not a real writer. You would think the task of writing a blog post would be an easy-peasy job that comes to me like nothing. I mean, I’m a blogger for fuck’s sake.

 

So, instead of trying to force together a well planned and executed post that ties seamlessly into an explanation of life coaching services, I’ve decided to do what I know – just write. From the heart. Authentic, raw, and bordering too unpolished.

I often hear people talk about how they “need to stop being afraid of XYZ” And sure, I by no means want to dismiss how amazing it would be to be fear-free, but that really isn’t the necessary step here. What you NEED to do is the thing that fear is stopping you from doing. And in that, you are living your values. You are doing what you want. You are doing what you would do without fear – so who cares that you’re still shaking in your boots?

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The road to confidence is paved in doing things that scare the crap out of us. We don’t have to change our level of fear to make it happen, we have to act despite the fear.

The trick is figuring out the answers to, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and “What is the life you want?” – and then going ahead and doing those things. Acting like you would if you were the most confident person alive. Going after exactly what you want without letting fear hold you back.

Instead of saying “I need to stop being afraid to talk to people” try “I’m going to try talking to people, regardless of how I feel”.

This is not just more accurate of real change- it’s doable. It’s in your control. It’s dropping the rope. It’s packing up those fears into a backpack and taking them along for the journey. It’s acceptance and commitment.

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I have made huge strides in my social life, professional life, and personal life – not by learning to get rid of fear – but by doing things anyway. Just last night I presented to a group of students for an online course about being a better friend. I was actively doing things to help build my confidence – like power posing, telling myself “I GOT THIS” and other defusion strategies; however, the fear was still there. I can’t even tell you how panicky I was beforehand, I was even sweating putting together the PowerPoint slides days before! If I was waiting for myself to stop being afraid of things, I would be waiting forever, and not getting anywhere.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past few years is how much waiting I’ve been doing my whole life. Waiting, not living. Waiting has robbed me of too much time already. It has robbed me of opportunity, joy, and connection – to name a few. It stood in my way of living now. It blocked me from living a life I was excited about. Waiting was quietly destructive –  like a mouse.

And living like a mouse is no way to live. We need to stop waiting. We need to start LIVING.
thriveLike a dragon. Fiercely and authentically.

To dig deep and make it happen -now. Like your life depends on it. Because it does.

What would it mean to live a life you want to live?

If you don’t know the answer to that, you can still start. In fact, that’s how you start.

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In the wake of being thrown a childless fate when my identity solely rested on that one dream coming true, I had no sweet clue there was a future that would make carrying on worth it. When I started looking, I wasn’t convinced I would ever find it. I just started. Because that’s what you have to do. Start where you are…even if part of you believes you’re headed down a dead end street. Start anyway.

What part of you is still waiting? How are you still holding back?

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If you’re ready to start, start again, or go further – you got this.



And if you’re interested in extra support on your journey, I’m here to help.

Are you a fellow *ACTer? There’s a service just for YOU! From nagging services to help you tackle your SMART goals, to ‘HELP ME THRIVE’ life coaching packages – experience what it’s like to have your very own ACTing Coach.

*Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Put yourself in the hands of a healthy tribe member who speaks your language.

Find out more about getting your own ACTing Coach here.

The Coaching Connection Inc. also offers other life coaching packages, mindfulness coaching, and ‘simplify my life’ coaching… as well as coaching for kids!

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Discover your connection at thecoachingconnection.ca

Fierce love to all!

–Mindful Dragon

See the whole post here http://www.inspiredlivingmedical.com/help-is-here/ !