Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn Connect on YouTube

Choosing Life

May 12, 2010

Sadly, last night I witnessed a poorly attended Dublin protest on the subject of the bank bailout.  This is not a post about economics.  The legacy of having lived so many years emotionally paralysed and trapped by an anorexic vision of my future, is that I am far too impatient when I witness it in others.  The old saw that “converts are the worst kind” is so very true.

That “conversion” was an emotional and creative recovery from a life where I limited the vision of what was possible. I refused to feed my hunger for a better life, a career & financial security, by focusing on deprivation and not abundance.

One perfect example was not returning to work after the birth of my second child. Who will take care of them when they have sick days and day care won’t have them? How will I handle evening meetings and appointments? No one only works 40 hours and is good at what they do, how will I find a job that lets me work flexible hours? (Not quite as common 25 years ago – but how would I know if I didn’t challenge my assumption?)

This really translates: “I don’t trust that in an abundant world everything I need will come to me if I take the first step.” I didn’t “test the water”; I decided in advance that even if it could be done, and others had, I couldn’t do it. So I stayed home, became depressed, self medicated with food and became morbidly obese.

I starved myself of the creative outlet of my work, the intellectual stimulation of colleagues and even the performance reviews that leave you with a sense of accomplishment. Face it, you may find child rearing more rewarding, but the jury is out for so long, when you’re in the throes of it, who knows how you are doing!

And lest you hear me beating myself up without cause, I had great training for it.

Many of us were reared to believe that facing difficulty is virtuous. Staying home with children was laudable. And it was hard, but hard was good, right? Wrong.  I laugh now when I remember the day that a friend told me I was depressed because I was a perfectionist. My response: “I am not a perfectionist, look at me, I rarely get things right!”

If you can’t seen the irony in that, give it time, it took me years to really understand.

I did not coin this term “anorexic vision” – I owe it and so much of the language of my emotional & creative recovery to a book called The Artist’s Way. The author, Julia Cameron uses it to describe the process by which we empower ourselves with choice. When we refuse to feed our hunger for a better life by focusing on our deprivation we are assuming the universe wants us to have less than we want for ourselves. And I love the way she illustrates this point:

“Looking at … creation, it is pretty clear that the creator itself did not know when to stop. There is not one pink flower, or even fifty pink flowers, but hundreds….This creator looks suspiciously like someone who just might send us support for our creative ventures.”

I believe this now, because I have lived the result. I stepped onto a plane almost two years ago leaving a secure job, a house, supportive friends and family behind. By living my intent to pick up where I’d left off at 23, I was making way for the gifts that could only come if I actually began the journey.

“I am thinking about moving to Ireland” did not cause anything to happen. Visiting a friend and setting a date opened my world up to help from friends and strangers alike. Inside of six months, people had actually tracked down the paperwork for a passport (the documentation stymied me off and on for 10 years), located a house to rent, found me a job,  and even cared for my dog and ushered her through quarantine. And if that weren’t enough, within six months of my arrival, I’d established contacts who led me back to the career I’d abandoned.

“Regrets, I’ve had a few…” Please don’t read “regret” into this. I reared three fine young women who learned and grew with the lessons I was learning. I have been late in modelling joyful, mindful living – and it was not an easy road for them, but we have walked this painful path together. They will, I pray, accept nothing less for themselves.

Do read this as- “it can be done”. This convert to living abundantly would like to preach the message of choosing life. The only obstacle is us.

My work as a career & small business coach and in facilitating groups is informed by my own struggle and success.

So be patient with my impatience when I hear: “Ah sure, but you can’t change it”.

The folks around me are doing and saying what I had done for years.  Believe me, there is another way: bank bailouts, closed hospitals, & senior/disabled citizens victimised by cuts to health care, will not change because we are thinking about it. As in my life there can and will be change when we take a first step. Nets do appear when we leap.

Permission to give up our perfectionism came with a directive that is thousands of years old: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but you are not free to desist from it either”. (Pirke Avot)

Stand up, speak up, and show up for life.

image_pdfimage_print

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dean says:

    Hi Eve I was really moved by this story. I especially loved the line “I am thinking about moving to Ireland” did not cause anything to happen. Visiting a friend and setting a date opened my world up to help from friends and strangers alike.”

    This makes so much sense to me. Everyone thinks about doing things, and even though what you say is so simple really, most of us don’t set a date or make a solid plan to do the things we wish to do.

    I think people are afraid to admit they are perfectionists. They see it as sounding like they’re praising themselves. What you say is true – perfectionism can be debilitating by stopping people from doing anything at all in case it’s not perfectly done. I can understand that.

    Love what you’ve written here.

    Dean

    • Eve says:

      Really appreciate this, I love the enthusiasm on your website – and that you are following your passion. I had the kind of (Irish!) upbringing where you were “shamed” into behaving well. Often around new tasks and skills. Learning curve was not honoured, even around hobbies. It took me until well into middle age, with the help of a gifted music therapist – to sing out loud in public. Choir was a required course in grammar school and I was told to mouth the words – I was only a “listening bird”. Crippling! Now I am guided by Julia Cameron’s wisdom: “Remember in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself permission to be a beginner.” I am guided by that and by a simple slogan from the 12-step rooms: Fake it until you make it!

      Thank you for the feedback!