Monthly Archives: November 2013

Filling the Void

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Today is Black Friday. A day of great deals. Fantastic shopping. A wonderfully cheap way to fill your life full of stuff. Stuff you likely don’t need. Stuff you would almost always be able to survive without. What I would really like to see is a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale for things that really mattered. 50% off a good hug! Save $30 on 30 minutes of meaningful conversation! B.O.G.O. pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks if you bring in a grandparent! A Half-price sleigh-ride up to visit my father before Christmas. Get today’s Groupon! – The chance to have all my immediately family in the same room for Christmas dinner with no arguments! (okay, that was pushing it). But seriously, this year I don’t want anymore stuff. I want people and talking and visits and joy.

This season has historically been consistent at making me nostalgic and this year is no exception. As I write out names on Christmas cards, I am remembering what has been lost and what has been gained. For the gains I am forever thankful. Yet, important people are missing and their vacancy leaves this void that I dance around every day. Like a dent in the Gyproc of the wall in the hallway. I know it is there. I see it very day and yet I look away to deal with other pressing matters.

So what can I fill this void with? Errands and tasks, work and more work. Stuff and more stuff. If I keep busy enough, any voids will recede and becomes less. But I don’t want to look away anymore. I want to see this year. I want to expose the flaws and examine them in full, blinding light. What needs to be done? What needs to be fixed? How do I make it whole? I believe I must fill this space with people. My people. The positive, bright twinkling lights of my friends and family. I know this is the truth but yet somehow I tend to get lost in the fray of everyday living. What are my excuses? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!

Tasks, errands and work. Ah the almighty dollar! We work to make money to survive, right? For some this is absolutely true. Yet for others, work becomes a barrier to actually living the life they long for. Is there ever enough? Do we not just stretch that much further beyond our means once we obtain enough? I have blogged before about searching for years to find someone to share a life with and then spending every day separated from them while we are at work desperately trying to afford this ‘dream’ life together. Then we create little people and we end up scheduling their little lives until again we have lost each other. In a flash, my life is almost over and I can only ask for one thing. More time.

But how do we get time if it can’t be found on eBay or Amazon? Surely it is too difficult to obtain. A chunk of time for a steal of a deal! So let me tell you a secret I have learned about time this year. It can be shifted. A little to the left or a wee nudge to the right is all it takes. Make a window and emblazon it with a gold label bearing such authority that you cannot ignore its importance. ‘LIFE’ ‘TIME’ or ‘LOVE’ ! Take your pick of mine or choose your own, after all it is YOUR life. Shift your meetings and your readings and your shopping and your appointments until you have a void. And then fill that void with something big. Someone awesome. Fill it with memories that will always be with you. Because that big screen TV or that awesome pair of boots won’t be with you forever. Trust me, they are not there with when you go and even if they are, you will no longer care about them.

So I put it to you on this day ear-marked for great shopping. Write down your list before you get started. What do you really want this year for you? What do you need down to the core of your soul to survive? Who is missing that you can find? Take a few minutes and decide how you will fill the void. Happy shopping!

CB

 

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Whispers of Sanity

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Silence is Golden
Photo source: http://www.influx.com.br

I woke up this morning in a coughing fit. It seems the little people of the house have infected me yet again. I painstakingly extracted myself from the cozy comforter on my daughter’s bed, writhing awkwardly so as not to wake her. My lungs wracking into spasm just as I closed the door behind me. I fell onto the couch and drifted in and out of sleep for another hour, thankful for more energy to get my small people through another day. I barely remember my husband kneeling next to me before he left for work. I think he apologized for his schedule. Sick or not, I was on my own. When my 5 year old woke and came to cuddle with me, I went to greet him quietly but my vocal cords were in full rebellion. Laryngitis. Oh crap.

I tried a few words but was rewarded with hoarse squeaking instead. For a moment I felt panicked. How was I supposed to parent with no voice? How do I compete for ‘air time’ with small, loud people all day? Can I just take a time-out for a day?

Taking a deep breath, I took stock of my tooIs. I thought about what I know of my children.

  1. They are capable of empathy
  2. They are reasonable (when not ruled by their over-dramatic brain regions)
  3. They love small changes in routine
  4. They are really just small adults

We can work this out, right?

So I started by whispering softly and then as the morning progressed, I just kept whispering. Eventually, they noticed the change and asked what was wrong. So I told them today my voice was sore and I needed their help to listen for my whispers.

As the morning progressed, I was thrilled that they quieted when I whispered. Their little heads would tip forward and lean in to hear me. Wow. Would you look at that! The change was sparking their interest.

Later, as we piled into the car, typical moments of tension evolved but I felt removed from them. Knowing that I could not interject, I felt like I was watching a scene unfold in front of me. I am certainly not a perfect parent and will admit to having to raise my voice on occasion but I still regret it every time I do. How unique to find the choice taken from me today. I have to be quiet, observe, connect and whisper today. I can listen in or offer a word or two of subtle advice, but otherwise, I must allow them to live the moment on their own.

Later still, as I carried my daughter off of the school playground against her will (how is it that even when their fingers are freezing off they still want to play?) I leaned in and whispered some words of comfort and distraction. She leaned her head back against mine and conceded. No big argument. Just quiet agreement. Yes!

This reminded me of something I had read once. A reminder that when we whisper or speak softly our hearts are more connected, somehow in tune with one another.

Below is the full excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s blog:

A master asked his disciples:

‘Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?’

the disciples thought for a while, and one of them said
‘Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.’
‘But, why to shout when the other person is just next to you? ‘Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?’
The disciples gave him some other answers but none satisfied the master.

Finally he explained:
‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.’

Then the master asked:
‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…’

And he concluded:
‘When they love each other even more, what happens?
‘They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love.

‘Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.’

 

For a day, I have no choice. No option but to submit to calm and cool parenting. But will I remember the lessons learned tomorrow when my voice returns? My children hope so. And so do I.

CB

Confessions of a Slasher – life choice or economical necessity?

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I keep hearing this great ‘new’ term: Slash Careers. You’ve heard of them before but probably labelled it offhand as a bizarre life choice for that eccentric fellow you met at your spouse’s Xmas party last year. You remember the lawyer/musician/life coach? Or your odd girlfriend from university, the hairdresser/lab tech? Who are these curious oddities? How can they be living a life with more than one primary occupation? I was confused. Until I became one of them.

I discovered firsthand… there is name for my incessant need to delve into new careers and explore my unique abilities. I belong to the odd. I belong to the undecided. I belong to the unique. Or at least I did, until slash careers started to became almost the norm after our most recent economic decline. The world is moving at a fast pace. So I figure, I’m going to grab on,dig my fingernails in and go for a good ride while I’m here!

My slashing began a few years ago when I started training to teach ballroom dancing. I had already established myself in a career as a Respiratory Therapist for 6 years, so when people asked me what I did for a living, I had always said I was an RT. After I began to teach dancing, I started to find it frustrating answering the dusty old question, “So what do you do?”. Do I answer them from a perspective of pride and accomplishment for my established health care career or do I speak of my passion for dance?

My slashes appear to follow a trend of left brain intellect vs. right brain creativity (Respiratory Therapist/dance teacher). Others follow a solid-income/life-passion pattern (engineer/activist). Some just do what they have to in order to survive (entrepreneur/medical office assistant/yoga instructor).

What a fantastic way to ensure that you have something to ‘fall back’ on if one career suddenly takes a nose-dive. This is the very best kind of insurance policy…one that you use and enjoy! If your teacher/musician/writer gig doesn’t offer enough security, you can always decide to take that amazing skill of rock-climbing and love of tourism off into a new direction with an adventure travel-guide business.

But here is the ultimate question: Are people that have slash careers happier? Is this some new methodology for self-expression? Is this a way for us to live our lives with more choices, feeling as though we can have a balance between what allows us to survive and what keeps us thriving?

For myself, I say: absolutely. All of the above. I keep adding to my slash titles every year or two, simultaneously expanding on my ability to cushion another economic downturn while experiencing great satisfaction in new-found talents.

RT week2

My happy place…critical care. Stressful but awesome.

My happy place. Photo credit: Christine Bacon 2010

My other happy place- on the dance floor. Dance is my biggest passion by far. Photo credit: Christine Bacon 2010

Some people will argue that by spreading your interests too widely, you remove your ability to become great and excel in your ‘field’ . I will argue that your renewed energy and vigour for life will keep you most able to rock out any chosen career. Shaking off the mundane daily grind with variety will give a unique perspective and likely make you better at all of your careers. My personal experience was that my public speaking ability in the critical care medicine world soared after teaching full classes in ballrooms. My confidence in my physical presence and my energy to attack and perfect my presentations were at all-time highs.

So whether you are feeling the urge to ‘Lean-out’ at your go-to workplace and try something new (part-time chef-school anyone?) or you already love doing what brings home the bacon, but cannot help but yearn for a creative outlet (sculpting class?), becoming a slasher may be just perfect for you. It’s not an odd occurrence anymore to interact with a construction worker/english tutor. In fact, it is steadily becoming the norm.

Related articles:

Marcy Alboher’s website – author of One Person/Multiple Careers

Blogpost on BreatheandSmile:  Unleashing Your Many Job Identities Through the Slash! One Person / Multiple Careers

Amy Gutman’s article: – Why Have One Career When You Can Have Three? Or Four? Or More?

CB