"Opportunities to find deeper power within ourselves come when life seems most challenging." – Joseph Campbell
“Bloom where you are planted.” - Mary Engelbreit
"All great changes are preceded by chaos." - Deepak Chopra
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We were made to cooperate and connect, not to compete." – Lynne McTaggart
On July 10th, I stepped WAY outside my comfort zone and travelled by myself, to Portland Oregon, to attend a 'conference' (I use that term very loosely), called The World Domination Summit (WDS for short). This is a yearly gathering of more than 2 500 like-minded/hearted people from across the globe. It's the brain child of an incredibly humble, yet outstanding human being named, Chris Guillebeau. The whole event is centred on the question: 'How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?' Bloody good question eh? The three core values of this gathering are: Community, Adventure & Service. Everything that happens in conjunction with WDS, speaks to these.
While there, I met up with some soul sisters, made a ton of new friends, learned from a bunch of incredibly inspiring speakers, became a superhero, got to meet some people I really admire, attended an opening night party which featured a circus, and the closing night festivities which featured hot air balloon rides, a rock orchestra and a Bollywood dance party. Aside from that, there were the endless food trucks, a river cruise, an encounter with a shaman, fun meet-ups all over town, and surprises around every corner. Oh.....and incidentally, I am now a world record holder (well, me and 807 of my new friends). No guff.
Do you know what you want out of life? I mean do you REALLY know? I used to think I did. I had gone to school, gotten a few degrees, held a variety of decent jobs, and eventually a good career in teaching. I had a bunch of friends, a solid relationship, a house, a dog, eventually two kids, etc, etc. Basically, I was on my way to having all the 'trappings' of a pretty standard, so called 'successful' life.
Then I discovered that chasing after what I wanted, or at least what I thought I wanted, or even more accurately, what society said I should want, was not making me happy. In fact, at a certain point, I realized that I was waaaaaay off course. I started trying to figure out how this could be. I had done all the right things. School, jobs, mortgages, marriage, kids. I was a responsible adult dammit! I HAD to be happy. But somehow, I just couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right. I was parading around in my best polyester pants and heels, just like all the other professional women....but I felt like I was wearing a COSTUME. This was a persona, this was NOT who I was. In fact, this is NEVER who I intended to be! I found myself wondering, "What the hell happened here?"
I have a question for you. Have you ever noticed the running commentary that goes on in your head?
Yes....I AM accusing you of talking to yourself. We ALL do it; me, you, your boss, your mechanic, the Dalai Lama, Brad Pitt, the Queen. Every person in the whole damn world is going around having a conversation with themselves most of the time.
Sometimes the voice is running through a list of all the things you need to do that day. Sometimes it's replaying the argument you had with your spouse the night before. Sometimes it's got the lyrics to the latest Disney song, or to Achy Breaky Heart, on repeat. Mostly though, it's telling you that you shouldn't have done this or that, that you really need to lose 10 pounds, or that you are a bad parent for forgetting to send the pizza order form back to school before the deadline....shame on you!
I have a recent personal example to illustrate:
Do encounters with certain people leave you feeling completely drained? Does the thought of having to spend time with a particular person make you feel edgy, anxious and downright exhausted? Do you sometimes feel like you need to binge on comfort food and take a nap after you've been in someone's presence? Is there a person in your life that has the uncanny ability to kick your upbeat mood right in the crotch, and leave you limping away dazed and confused?
If you find yourself nodding your head or answering "yes" to any of these questions....then you, my friend, have been the victim of an emotional vampire attack!
I've had a lot of discussions lately with people who are saying things like:
'I just can't seem to find balance in my life'
'I feel like I am being pulled in all directions'
'I'm so exhausted from working/taking care of other people, I have no time or energy for fun'
'Whenever I take time for myself, I feel guilty, like I should be doing something else'
'I just can't seem to get on top of things'
And so on.....Sound familiar? Well, you are NOT alone my friend. Life balance is a hot topic these days. People are talking about it around the water cooler, in online forums, at moms and tots playgroups and everywhere in between. There are books written about it, websites devoted to it and products dedicated to helping you find it. We are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, chasing after the coveted 'balance' like it's the Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup, or the Academy Award of life.
"If I could just find a way to have some balance in my life, then everything would magically fall into place and life would be 'perfect'"... right?
I hate to burst the bubble sunshine, but that 'life balance' thing everyone is talking about...... is a load of hooey! It's an illusion. Plain and simple, it's just not attainable. In fact, the incessant pursuit of life balance is making us more stressed out and, well, unbalanced, than we have ever been.
For those of you who grew up in the days of John Hughes films and parachute pants, when Bon Jovi was king, bigger was better when it came to your hair, and everyone was wondering 'Who shot JR?', you likely remember the 'ingenious' anti –drug campaign (the brain child of First Lady Nancy Reagan), that encouraged the youth of the day to 'Just Say No' to drugs.
'Just saying no', was going to solve the drug problem. How clever, simple and effective right? In theory maybe, except...that's not exactly what happened. In fact, it turned out that although the campaign raised awareness of drug use among youth, there has never been any proof that it had any significant influence on the numbers.
News flash, Nancy! It ain't that EASY to 'Just Say No'! If it were, we'd be doing it all the time....and we all know that's NOT happening!
In fact, saying yes to things we don't really want to do, is an epidemic. You KNOW it's true! But why? Why do we feel the need to constantly say yes when we really want to say no? Well Nancy, saying no is scary and anxiety producing, and really, who wants to go there'?