A moment in time.

“I am invariably late for appointments… I’ve tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.”  ― Marilyn Monroe

 

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I was planning to visit the children in Hobart, a four hour drive away. The spreadsheet file I had been working on had to be sent to my accountant by 11 am. When I checked it, I realized it had been corrupted. I spent an hour retrieving the previous saved version and retracing my steps to get it to the required finished product to send on. There were a few unexpected queries from work that needed my urgent attention. Time was marching on. The house looked like a tornado had hit it. I still had to have my morning walk, shower, dress and pack.To top it off I was fighting this tremendous pressure in my chest to make sure that I got away on time so that I could be there on time. This made me frazzled. As if reading my mind the children each sent me a text, urging me to make sure I left on time, to make sure I would be there at the appointed time for dinner. I became anxious at the texts. This was not a child’s graduation, a wedding, catching a plane, or a medical appointment. This was not a national emergency. This was dinner. When the third text came through, everything descended down on me and I sat down on the floor and cried.

It was a descent of my own making. I had not been able to put myself above the moment. I had let it get to me. I has lost control of this moment because of all the other moments that had gone before. It was all the other moments. They all came flooding back.

My life had always been that we must be on time.

I had lost so much of myself over the years due to worrying about being on time and often not quite making it anyway because of lost time in the worrying. ‘Come on, get ready. Quick, quick.’ I would never feel quite ready and would become flustered in feeling not quite ready, applying make-up hurriedly, leaving behind a mess in the kitchen, arriving to wherever-it-was-so-important-to-be-on-time all anxious and stressed.

When being on time counts, such as catching a plane or attending a medical appointment or attending to a national emergency, I can and do prioritize being on time. At other times, other things are more important to me. My priorities differ.

My preference is to always be there for people; either late or on time, I will be there. My preference is to finish what needs to be done over here so that when I get over there, I can fully engage in the moment of over there. My preference is to remain calm so when I arrive I can relax and enjoy the moment of now. My preference is to calm the distressed child, attend to the unexpected accident, take the phone call from a friend in need, mop up the spilled milk then try, as best as I am able, to get there on time. My preference is to attend to whatever I feel is most important, to take in my stride those ‘things’ that get in the way of plans and schedules. My preference is to remain calm and, if too many important things crop up, slip the ‘being on time’ to a lower priority – and not worry about it.

My values and priorities are important too.

The point is not whether being on time is a good value to strive for or not. The point is, it is not my value. It is a value that belonged to someone else. I became stressed and anxious by not living up to a value that belonged to someone else.

The reason that I was feeling upset now, was not because I may be late, or because I was overwhelmed by too much to do before getting away. I was grieving for those times I had violated my own values, for those times I had not taken the time to calm the distressed child, or mopped up the spilled milk, or taken the phone call from my friend and for those times when I was not there when I should have been because I was rushing to be on time to somewhere else for someone else.

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Foundations of Freedom – find my voice and speak my truth

” I was going to die sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you… Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest its personal. And the world will not end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will fall in love with your own vision, which you may never have realised you had… And at last you’ll know with surprising certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” Audre Lorde

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Here is part of what I wrote in my last post:

“We now have the freedom to vote, choose, express opinion, work and earn money, associate or assemble with those of our choosing, become educated, or be elected into positions of power… We are now free to pursue whatever we desire in terms of our dress, our leisure activities and our relationships with each other – in both the coming together or the breaking apart.”

I do not believe all that is true. It appears to be true. In reality it is not all true. I believe all members of our society do not have all those freedoms (of speech, expression, opinion, assembly, education etc). I believe every person in inter-personal relationships or in social groups do not have the same freedoms or power to speak as others. I believe they should have. One of my goals is to find my voice and to express my opinion and my beliefs on that. This is something that is burning within my soul. My desire to speak those truths.

That has become part of my purpose:

My purpose is to find my voice and to speak my truth.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbkOZTSvrHs

 

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Foundations of freedom – freedom to do

“And the moment came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. “ Anais Nin

ID-10043380.digitalartWe are the lucky generation. Our forefathers handed us freedom from: freedom from slavery, tyranny and oppression. The next generations gave us our freedom to: freedom to vote, choose, express opinion, work, associate with those of our choosing, become educated, or be elected into positions of power. That has been followed by social, cultural and sexual revolutions since the 1960s. We are now free to pursue whatever we desire in terms of our dress, our leisure activities and our relationships with each other – in both the coming together or the breaking apart.

It seems to me each generation has wanted more freedom than the previous and, whereas in previous generations ‘freedom’ did mean the true sense of the word in freedom from oppression, our modern generation has put the emphasis on having freedom to do whatever we want. We want it all and we want it now. This is supposed to be something that we all desire. When my husband first left, people would say to me ‘now you are free to do whatever you want‘. When repeated back, that advice would catch me in the throat. Taking ‘freedom’ was foreign to me as I was craving stability and structure. I also saw it as being selfish. I thought I still had responsibilities and obligations to fulfill.

It has taken me nearly three years to understand that I don’t.

While it appeared I did, it really was an obligation to my own inner code of responsibility. I really did not have obligations to fulfill, except to myself. I am truly free to do whatever I want. Looking at it another way, I had to a degree been putting perceived responsibilities and obligations in my own path because of not knowing what to do with my freedom if I had it. It was easier to keep doing what I had been doing, even though painful, rather than taking my own freedom and basking in its sunshine. I could now undo my own imposed restraints of responsibility.

The big question now is not whether I have the freedom to what I want but rather, now that I know I do (nearly) have that freedom, what do I want to do with it?

That’s scary.

As I sat with a blank page on that question, a few overarching ideas of what ‘freedom to do’ means to me came to mind.

I have the freedom to live my own way.

I am free of external restrictions.

I have the freedom to impose my own moral code such as ‘first, do no harm’. As long as I impose it myself it is not a restraint, it is free-will. I cannot enslave myself. With no external restrictions, only internal ones, I have the freedom to think, speak and act the way I want.

I have the freedom to choose to be responsible for my family and friends. When I act out of devotion, there are no constraints – no matter what the responsibilities require of me.

I have the freedom to be part of my family, children and grand-children’s lives.

I have the freedom to be by myself whenever I want.

I have the freedom to choose my own direction in life and to fit that in with my own life’s purpose which I alone shall choose and I may take as long as I want to make that choice.

I have the freedom to choose my own goals by my own free-will and to work towards those goals unimpeded.

I have the freedom to choose my own attitude to develop a capacity by education, training or resolve to overcome any obstacle or impediment in my way.

I have the freedom to impose limitations, moral codes or constraints (by whatever definition) if that makes my new direction more comfortable. If my constraints are based upon my own goals or values – knowing where I stand will give me the liberty to act in complete freedom.

That is not so scary. That is all exciting …

Now to begin.

 

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Foundations of freedom – freedom to celebrate even when there seems little to celebrate

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As indicated in my last post, I decided to stop for a while. The problem is when you are trudging through mud and you decide to stop for a while, because you are in mud, you start sinking again. So while the concept of allowing myself time to have a rest seemed to be a good idea at the time, the reality was doomed to failure.

Doomed to failure because it gave me time to think and face some realities which distressed me.

Doomed to failure because of how I was defining success and failure.

I read a post this morning from Val with a quote that is self-explanatory and which opened my eyes.

“If you build a house it takes a few days, a few weeks or a few years. And everyone can see the result. But when we create something in the spiritual realm neither you nor anyone else can see anything. So nothing is certain. Nothing is clear. And you become unsettled, uncertain and assailed by doubts. And that is why after a while you want to abandon everything and do what everyone else does: Throw yourself into an activity where everyone can see a result.” Omraan Mikhael Aivanhov

The quote got me thinking. This ‘trudging through mud’ (AKA ‘dealing with the divorce settlement’) appeared to be getting me nowhere and was taking a lot of effort for no reward.

That is because I was looking at ‘reward’ as how our modern society judges rewards – in terms of success, fame, fortune, or glorious materialistic or creative achievement.

So today I have taken my thinking right back to very early after separation when I made a resolution to myself. I resolved that I would not let this transition period of my life destroy who I was inside of me or crush the values that I wanted to live by. I made an aim that day to reaffirm those values and strive to live by them. That was my goal.

My reward today, still within this ‘transition period’, is to know that I am still on that path and still successfully striving towards that goal. At the end of the day, if that is my greatest achievement, that is a worthwhile one to have.

“The goal we seek, and the good we hope for, comes not as some final reward but as the hidden companion to our quest. It is not what we find, but the reason we cannot stop looking and striving, that tells us why we are here.”
Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter

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Foundations of freedom – freedom to stop

 

ID-100179203.Stuart MilesYou may have thought from my last post that I was ready to move on to bigger and better things such as solving world poverty or finding world peace. However, I have decided this week it was just time to stop for a while. I have taken some time out to bring a little normality into my life by doing such things as having my hair cut, reading, spending some time sitting in the sunshine (even though it is winter here, it is sunny today) and generally doing nothing.

I have the freedom to do that.

Having said that, I do bear in mind the thoughts of a great mind:

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” Nelson Mandela.

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Foundations of freedom – freedom from constraints

 

ID-100150920.Toa55 I embarked on a series of posts on foundations of comfort and in my last post ended up with freedom. The change was more than a subtle change in my thought process. It was profound. In thinking through what I require for security, I realized how much security constrains my freedom. Then I learned that freedom is not a thought process. It is a feeling. I know because that wondrous feeling swept over me when I was not expecting it and yet I recognized it as my long-lost friend and welcomed it in as part of my being.

There are three aspects to my freedom: freedom from constraints; freedom to act; and freedom of capacity. Think of me as a bird in a cage. In order to fly I need to be let out of the cage, I need to want to fly and I need to have the capacity or ability to fly. Without those three things, I cannot fly. I cannot be completely free. Today I will discuss the first aspect.

Freedom from constraints

To be free to fulfill my purposeful life I need the absence of constraints imposed upon me. Those of captivity; coercion; obligations; moral codes; guilt; mental turmoil; fear of danger, harm or pain; financial impediments; influence of other people; rules; restricted access; and attachments.

Some things on this list are not imposed upon me, they are imposed by me. I impose some of my own restraints. As long as I impose them myself, I can also remove them. I cannot enslave myself. The issue comes down to my ability to remove them. That ties in with the freedom of capacity which I will deal with in another post. For now, I will put aside impediments to my freedom imposed by guilt, mental turmoil, financial capacity and some of my own moral codes, and look only at restraints imposed by others or by my situation.

To be free, I need the absence from

I need to be free from fear of danger or harm. I am fortunate to live in Australia, a nation free from slavery, tyranny and oppression. Putting aside the political argument that for some that may not be completely true, I myself feel relatively safe.

I need to be free from pain. In order to be truly free I need the absence of this divorce process (my captivity), the business (my obligation) and the moral code of doing the right thing by others ahead of myself. These are factors blocking my total freedom at the moment. I am working on them.

I need to be free from the restriction of my own requirement for certainty. Only then will I be free to find my new creative self.

On the other hand, now being single, I am enjoying freedoms that I never had before, because -

I am now free from

I am free from the coercion to do things I do not really want to do. Previously I would not have called it coercion, I would have called it compromise. Whatever it is called, that obligation to fit in with another person all the time is now gone.

I am free from the influence of others blocking my ideas, opinions and beliefs.

I am as free as I can be from the control by others.

I am free from restrictions in the use of my space. I have free access to the whole house whereas previously other members of the family claimed that space as their own.

I am free from imposed limits on my free time. (Except when I impose them myself, which does not count because I can lift those limits if I want to. Note to self: stop restricting your own free time by finding more ‘must do’ duties.)

I am free from attachments. Now here is the turnaround. The first twelve months after separation I was grieving the loss of my relationship, my most precious attachment. Now I can see that the absence from that attachment will allow me the freedom to become my authentic me.

That is truly liberating.

 

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Foundations of freedom – my sanctuary

 

ID-100241522In the process of revisiting my needs, with the aim of moving from my vulnerable fragile childlike ‘I need to be comforted’ mindset, to the stronger adult ‘I need to be doing and giving’ mindset, I became distracted with my revival identity and a vision for my future. Miraculously my pain disappeared and I instantly had more energy.

Not knowing how long the energy would last, I spent a few weekends doing some tidying projects that had mounted up including resurrecting my old home-office. This room had previously been used for our business management when I was at home with the children, but over the last two years had become a grotesque junk room.

I decided this room would make a new life for me.

When I married, I lost myself in my husband and my family. That was not something that (in marriage) I would have resented as the benefits of my marriage out-weighed losing myself. However, when my marriage collapsed I felt I had nothing left because, in losing my marriage, I also felt I had lost me. When my ex-husband left me I began to slowly revel in the freedom of doing things my way. After a time, I realized I was doing our things my way and still not doing my things. For example, even though initially it was great to watch what I wanted on TV, and attend or hold parties only when I wanted to, I soon discovered that I actually did not like watching TV at all and, likewise, I disliked loud parties immensely, preferring small casual gatherings. So it also went for the previous frenetic fast-paced activities for leisure and experiential pastimes. These were not my preference. My preference is for calm relaxation. Now I could live like that all the time, the way I want to.

Back to my room-

Over the past two years I have written about creating security and stability through routine revolving around my home; basking in the glory of it being a peaceful sanctuary of comfort. Yet here was this room that was a mess, neither peaceful or comforting. I got to work.

I cleared out the mess of accumulated business and divorce files and records, moving them elsewhere. I archived or burned mountains of papers. Then I rearranged the space. I upgraded my computer and bought a good quality scanner to begin copying the family photos. I halved the number of books. When I had finished last weekend, I sat down at my desk. I had a view outside to the tree in the court-yard; my favorite photos are displayed nearby; a whiteboard and favorite books are within easy reach; there are empty drawers, empty shelves, a clean and tidy desk, good lighting, time to myself, peace and quiet.

Then I suddenly realized. This is something that I have wanted my entire life.

As I looked around my new room, it finally sunk in that I now had no-one else I needed to think about ahead of myself. I could choose to do exactly as I wanted to do. This room would have a greater purpose than simply a place for quiet reflection. It would become a greater provider than mere comfort. This is where I would begin to move up the levels of my needs from a ‘comfort’ level to a ‘doing’ level; albeit doing quiet solitary activities. This will become a new haven for me – a writing and project room. This quiet solitary space will allow my creative abilities to flourish. That part of me that has been locked away for 40 years will now make herself known.

An incredible feeling of warmth and excitement arose within me.

And I realized that I was in seventh heaven right here on earth.

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