Posts Tagged: personal change

contentment wears a secret smile

Yesterday I walked around carrying a secret smile, feeling content and happy as I rode to and from work and contemplating an evening with old friends who are in town from back home, and my girls.  As I rode on the subway to meet everyone at our friends’ hotel, I got thinking about the idea of contentment, and how it relates to “happy.”  Does the presence of the former always result in the latter?  Because goodness knows “content” isn’t a term I’d use to describe myself; I’ve never been particularly content.  But I have been happy for substantial chunks of my life. 

Leaving my hometown and coming to this city was a product of that perpetual discontentment, but leaving behind certain people and certain familiarities was the painful part of that decision.  Leaving was something I had to do in striving for my own happiness, but it didn’t come without consequence, psychologically and financially.  But as I have been reminded each time I return there, the love of my people remains steadfast, and maybe that has, in its gentle way, helped me to find my ground here.  I still get asked if I will come home, but they all understand why I am here.

They know that in some ways, DIScontentment makes me happy.  I have this fear of becoming stagnant; of living a life of never changing, never growing.  I don’t suppose all the moving around I’ve done is necessarily akin to growth and change – I know many people who have lived in a place all their lives and have evolved and grown in all kinds of beautiful ways.  But there is this constant yearning to “move on” within, and maybe my physical moving around is a misguided manifestation of that.  Happiness is often associated as the end product of the striving – when we all know it’s the striving itself that really causes happiness; the small, sometimes methodical steps; the actions.

Last year, in an attempt to live the notion that ‘happiness is the journey not the destination’ I turfed the quest of finding “home” in this new city and left it up to “home” to find me.  I had some journeying to do in the meantime.  It was the right decision.  I still consider my current home as a “temporary place to hang my hat” but it doesn’t matter anymore.  The discontentment has been sent back to where it belongs – in my mind – no longer directed at the walls and streets around me. 

Maybe my feeling of contentment yesterday was because the “twain met.”  The comfort of the love and history and fellowship from back home lived together in the realm of the discontented soul, gently tugging it back from the journey for a bit of a breather. 

And I was still wearing that secret smile when I walked home at the end of the evening and went to bed.

Mona_Lisa 

This is a Magpie Tale.  To find wonderful weekly visual prompts and links to what they've inspired in many writers and poets, visit here.

setting up home

Saturday morning I had a hard time waking up – it was like my dream state had taken over, and wasn't about to let me achieve wakefulness until the dreaming had carried out its course.  I dreamed that I had a new home – a cavernous place with long winding hallways and secret rooms, some yet undiscovered.  When I was first looking around this place I didn't seem to be aware, or had forgotten it was mine – until I noticed a few of my things (from real life) on the shelves in in the kitchen.  Those who had helped me get there were now gone and I was alone.

"Oh ya! This is my home!" and I danced like a fool around the hallways, finding forgotten corners and undiscovered rooms.

It was one of those emotionally satisfying dreams, that kind that makes you reluctant to wake up.  When I finally did and was moving about to make coffee and get dressed, I hung on to the vividness of the images and emotions for awhile. 

It didn't occur to me until yesterday to look up the symbolism of "home" or "house" in a dream.  It most often represents "the self."

This was really good news in my mind; I'm thinking that some efforts I've been making to make some internal changes – not those traditional "New Years" resolution type changes – but those related to self perception, and self expression, and relating, and welcoming.  Having this dream doesn't necessarily mean I've accomplished these things – but it indicates to me that my subconsciousness is ready for it – is, perhaps, already there and setting up a new house.

it’s 2011 and I’m glad you’re here

The other day my friend Lynn posed the question to her facebook people:  “what one word describes your 2010?”  My experience in expressive arts tells me that the only way to answer such a question is to answer it quickly.  If you respond quickly and think about it later, you can open the door to some unexpected personal insight. 

I answered with “New.”

I think it was a good word.  In 2010 I changed strategies in a number of realms.  Early in the year I re-vamped my blog and moved it to a platform that I think better reflects the spirit behind the writing.  In turn, I started photographing more and began to pull together some shots that have further captured the theme I’m going for.  I spent a good part of last winter documenting my ideas of “beauty” and the sources of it around me in my daily travels.  I was rewarded, again, to find how one step leads to another – and these steps led me straight out of a funk – personal as well as creative. 

Later in the year it occurred to me to stop looking for “home” and just to live in a fun spot and let home come to me.  I get all over my writing students for resorting to clichés, but it’s a lesson I seem to learn over and over again: get out of the past and the future and get living in the moment.  THAT’s when the change happens – not when I'm thinking about it, mourning it, planning it, hoping for it, wishing for it. 

Still later in the year, pretty recently, I decided to revamp me.  I vowed I would try more, trust more, BE more and stay devoted to reflecting the authentic me.  I carried that focus on authenticity around with me as I shopped, in the books I chose, friends I found, and in the ways I approached my jobs and free time endeavours.  I knew that the most important part of this personal revamp was to drop some walls – particularly because it also included the return to the pursuit of romantic love.  I explored the opening of some chakras and worked at smiling at strangers more often and (sorry another cliché) being the change I want to see.  Again with the small steps leading me in directions I never imagined.

So the end of the year arrived, and some wonderful surprises have presented themselves.  For different reasons, I’m not writing about them yet.  But I can say that I have more than one reason to step forward into 2011 anticipating much more NEW.  And I’m filled with optimism and hope that some kind of ball is rolling and that you’ll join me in its path.

It’s day one of a new year.  I don't know what the word will be for 2011 – but it doesn't matter.  I'm sticking in the now and rolling with the rhythms.  I do know that I'm really glad you're here to discover it all along with me. 

feel the waves

 

“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves”
~ Frank Herbert

I've had a couple of conversations with people lately about a yearning I'm feeling this summer – that some sort of change is wanting in me.  I'm not exactly sure what that is, I need to get with a journal and paints and do some serious reflection about what the hell it is that I want.

I've been here before – and it was summer then too.  Maybe it's just a desire to hang on to the summer, or to engender in me the feeling of peace and "slowing down" that comes with it.  It's summer, but there's peace missing.

Something's off balance.  It's not a particulary bad feeling – if one weren't up for changing or growing or enhancing, life would seem pretty dead-end, wouldn't it?  Or maybe that's just the ever restless me.  I don't feel balanced unless I'm moving, otherwise some sort of vertigo sets in.

Face forward, that's my strategy.  If you're always looking down you might miss the signs.

Bike ride 10
Bike ride 10
Bike ride 10
Bike ride 10
Bike ride 10
Bike ride 10
Bike ride 10
Bike ride 10 

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
 ~Albert Einstein

a magpie question: what’s your story?

This is a response to Willow's latest Magpie Tales visual creative writing prompt.  Visit Magpie Tales and find all kinds of wonderful writers and poets and their takes on the prompt and giving hearty support to each others' creative efforts.  Give it a try! A creative challenge is good for you!

 Magpiepencils 
"Some may think that to affirm dialogue–the encounter of women and men in the world in order to transform the world–is naively and subjectively idealistic. There is nothing, however, more real or concrete than people in the world and with the world, than humans with other humans."  ~Paulo Freire

Once, when I was a teenager, I was away from home for a weekend with my family, and my [now former] stepfather kept repeating statements like “Jen is always so grouchy when she wakes up, ”or “ good MORNING grumpy!”  It was when he started to mock my “miserable” face I thought, how do you EXPECT me to feel?  I didn’t recall ever being grumpy or monstrous when I woke up in mornings, except, maybe, when my sister was hogging the shower and I was late for school.  What made me grumpy and irritated was being told over and over again that I was miserable.  And if I was miserable, I can assure you, it had nothing to do with the process of waking up; it was about someone else creating what I felt was an unfair and inaccurate picture of me and me feeling helpless to change it.

We understand our world through stories.  Family stories, history books, religious parables, pop songs, news reports, art, employee manuals, report cards, mathematical theories, police reports, gossip, family photo albums, fashions, magazine ads… a mosaic of stories creates the backdrop to our perceptions and helps to form the way we see things.  It’s up to you to decide if these things represent the reality of your experience.  And if they don’t – it’s up to you to tell your story in a way that does. 

When I was in university, I analysed lots of media.  I intensively read papers and watched news shows and movies and deconstructed and compared and scrutinized and examined and questioned, and to my naturally critical and questioning mind I was in my glory.  But more and more I was shocked to find the stories that were being used to define my community, my gender, my nation and my own role in my family were not how I was experiencing them myself. 

During that time a new provincial government came in that lowered taxes by way of reducing welfare benefits and education funding and punching other holes in the social safety net. 

This government knew the power of a story.  Suddenly, there were attacks on certain groups in the media, such as, coincidentally, teachers and single mothers.  I can tell you, this single mother did not enjoy being stereotyped as a lazy, beer swilling, cigarette smoking couch potato on welfare who fed her kids pancakes for dinner every night because didn’t know how to manage her grocery dollar.  One notorious politician of the day graciously gave welfare mothers tips on how to stretch their reduced budget by buying dented cans of tuna and day old bread.  Lots of people bought the stories these politicians were telling.  Lots of us didn’t. 

Whenever I speak with someone who is considering telling a personal story of any kind, I feel like something important is happening.  Because I believe that when a person tells her own story, she is taking ownership of it – she is claiming her history.  I believe that when someone tells his story, he is empowered to think critically about his place within his family, community, society, world.  And when a person is empowered, opportunities for change arise, both personally and socially.

Maybe a group can alter the history represented in a text book, or a politician can take advantage of stereotypes to create a new community understanding, or a family member can try to paint a picture of you.  But not one of them can change your story if you tell it.  It’s up to you to determine how you fit into the grand march of history.  

“Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen”. 
~From Pretty Boy Floyd, Woody Guthrie