Learning To say No…and Yes…And No….

 

killer-duck

(‘I Quit– Episode 3)

So I had quit everyday life, gone home and put up the do not disturb sign.

I had created a space for myself. Phew….

Knock, Knock. Ring, Ring…

It began almost at once and came usually in the form of those irritating and pressure-laden “question-mark words”..why? when? what if….??? followed by helpful (doom-laden) unsolicited advice delivered with just a tiny undertone of judgement to help get me back on track…. Toot!!

I realised I had to learn how to defend my “Telene Space” and to protect myself from everything and everyone “out there” who wanted to pull me back into the collective comfort zone…. (where everyone wears sensible shoes and carries umbrellas for rainy days.)

I could not bring the outside in with me. In essence, I had to create a sanctuary for myself without the pressure, (no matter how well-meaning.)

After all, I could do pressure well enough from the inside, thank you very much.

I had to change both how I thought and the way in which I did things and I couldn’t do that with society’s “shoulds “ raining all over me like lava bombs.

 

Hmmm. Defend the space. Time to select my weapons of choice…

Rotten tomatoes? (Fun but messy.)

Unleash the killer duck? (Nah, he was too busy loving everyone’s shoes.)

Good old avoidance-and-hope-they’ll-go-away? (I can only hide in here so long and pretend I’m not home..)

I had to step up and to learn to speak up, to find my voice.

(Use your words Telene, use your words..)

Feeling a little bruised and vulnerable (with a fair smattering of “scared shitless” tossed in for good measure), I kept it simple. It became almost a survival strategy for those first few months and I made it a focus.

I practised learning two words: Yes and No.

Generally speaking, the Yes was for me and the No was for othersContinue reading

What If That Challenge Is Just What You Need?

What if everything that happened in your life- the good and the bad- was a gift? A wrapped gift created and packaged especially for you, individually tailored to meet your needs and to give to you what you most need in this lifetime?

Maybe the gift was a learning, a new awareness.

Maybe it was the opportunity to let something go in order to allow space for something new to bloom and flourish.

Maybe it was a possibility, a chance to step through a door you didn’t even know existed.

Perhaps it was the chance to resolve an old issue, to finally heal an old wound.

Or maybe it was a reminder, a chance to see with fresh eyes and remember what’s really important in life.

It may have been an opportunity to experience something new.

Or maybe the chance for you to discover something important. A hidden resource you didn’t even know was there. Inner strength, courage or compassion perhaps? Something that had been waiting a long time to see the light of day. Continue reading

The Ultimate Personal Challenge Is Not What You Think…

 

(Source:Google Images)

(Source:Google Images)

 

 

If I were to tell a story of personal challenge I might choose to talk about those things I’ve ticked off the bucket list.

I’d tell you about flying a powered hang-glider or zipping down the world’s longest zip-wire.

I’d talk about diving with the great white sharks or the time I backpacked through China and ate something that may or may not have still been alive…

I might recount how I free-fell over a waterfall whilst white water rafting or rode thousands of kilometres on a motorbike…

 

But I won’t.

 

I wont because the most difficult personal challenge of all is not only about adventure sports or dangerous animals. It has to do with a simple choice – the choice to be yourself.

 

We live in a world tied up in knots. A world where we arrive full of hope only to become quickly enmeshed in a tangle of societal pressures and the expectations of others.

We are born pegs of all different shapes and sizes who soon learn that we’re supposed to fit neatly into the rows and rows of uniform round holes laid out before us. “Life” becomes a constant quest to knock off our corners and rough edges, to sand ourselves down, smooth ourselves out and make ourselves “fit”.

It is a desire to belong, a need for acceptance that motivates us.

 

It takes courage to be different. To step out of the mold and stand alone. It can be a scary experience standing vulnerable and exposed, being frowned upon for making the place look untidy with your non-conformity, sometimes looking longingly at the comfortable space you’ve vacated, knowing how easy it would be to slip back in and pretend….

 

Being yourself requires having space around you.

It requires being with yourself, knowing yourself, accepting yourself.

It requires stillness, honesty and the willingness to face the unknown.

It involves risk and the ability to embrace failure.

It requires letting go of worrying about the opinions of others or the shoulds or supposed to’s of life.

But most of all it requires the courage to make the choice.

The choice to be the person you were meant to be.

 

That is the ultimate personal challenge….

 

You may enjoy this story of personal challenge and adventure about my fear of heights :)

https://open.abc.net.au/contributions/bird-plane-or-supergirl-32pw4yg/in/contributors/telene+clarke

How will You Create Your Year?

trust

 

What will this year be for you?

Each January I have a word that comes to mind that sets the course of my year.

After it has revealed itself I write and paint it everywhere as a reminder. (Yep, even in the toilet…!)

Then I make it part of my everyday life.

Today I found my theme for 2014.

 

In preparing for my new year I reflected on the past 12 months.

 

For me 2013 was the year of trust.

It was the year to open my heart and be vulnerable. To let go of old conventions and fears around work and money and society’s expectations. A year of letting go of the notion of “work” and “income”. Of letting go of monetary measurements around value and self-worth. Continue reading

The World Is Full Of People Who Will Tell You That You Can’t….

you-must-quote

 

I once found myself, through no fault of my own, in the way of a giant corporate organisation.

They told me to run.

I refused.

They were so big and powerful that they knew they could intimidate and bully – and get away with it.

They told me to give in or they would crush me like a walnut.

I said no, I was prepared to fight them.

They laughed and threatened to destroy me.

 

I sought help from a lawyer.

He laughed too, told me I was insane, charged me for the advice and went sailing….

 

I went searching. Everyone told me the same thing – give in, you can’t win.

I had to make a decision – to believe the “truth” that everyone knew as fact or to believe that I could do this.

One choice would make me a victim and the other would honour my integrity.

There was only one option for me.

 

I stood in front of them and called their bluff.

When they realised that I was serious they became irritated and began to push and shove.

The harder they pushed the firmer I stood.

Was I willing to lose everything I had? they shouted angrily.

You bet, I replied.

I was.

 

I kept searching and, with help, found the right people.

They were at the top of their field. I would have to borrow (lots) to pay their bill.

They heard me and believed in me.

I hired them.

 

The bully was most annoyed and very surprised. It brought in the big guns. It had to be very sure of itself now. I had become more than a simple irritation.

It offered a deal- the chance to walk away with something rather than risk it all.

I’ll take the risk, I said.

At the courtroom door they towered over me and said:

You may win the battle but you’ll never win the war….

 

I won the war.

 

The world is full of people who will tell you that you can’t.

They are wrong……

When you believe in yourself anything is possible.

 

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Not Convenient? Do It!

life begins….

 

Some days it seems that just about everything in my life is inconvenient…and I quite like it that way.

It recently occurred to me that the good things in life, the real things, are often those which are the most inconvenient.

They are things that require all those nasty “hard work” words-

Things like:

Focus

Perseverance

Time

And Effort…

Things that may require saving, waiting, being patient, co-operating with others, making sacrifices and difficult choices, decision-making and commitment. Continue reading

What Do You Mean You Want To Be A Dancer? Don’t Be So Ridiculous….

wedgies

 

 

Recently I shared a chat and a drink with a friend who I hadn’t seen  for a while.

 

He was concerned that his son is being pressured at school to choose a career path. At 15 this young man is being told that he has to make a decision and choose his work future.

The presumption was made by the school that his son would choose the academic route, to go to university, study for years and earn a degree.

 

Now this dad is a very successful business owner.

He makes a lot of money and provides jobs for a substantial number of people. He provides a service for a large community and contributes to the local economy.

He never went to university.

“I told him he could do whatever he wants to do,” said the Dad. “To choose something he really wants to do- something he loves. I really don’t mind what. I want him to follow his heart and be happy.”

 

That same day I had talked with a young girl who told me that her dad wants her to become a lawyer.

He’s apparently told her since she was a little girl that she will grow up to study law.

“Are you interested in becoming a lawyer?” I asked.

(Huge eye roll and look of horror.)

“God no! I couldn’t think of anything worse but he keeps going on and on about it, and lining me up work experience and bringing me home all of this stuff to do with law- he just won’t listen!”

 

Today as I was putting out the recycling I happened to notice what was on top. (I’ve been having a bit of a clear out.)

It was one of my Diplomas- whoops!

 

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I love to learn.

I have lots of bits of paper that I get handed at the end of some blocks of formal learning. Qualifications I’ve needed to hold down certain jobs.

Some of them have taken lots of effort, lots of sacrifice, lots of time and buckets of money!

 

But it’s not the bits of paper that I value.

They’re just bits of paper after all.

It’s the knowledge that I’ve gained, the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the challenges I’ve faced, the memories I’ve made and the fact that they’ve all been about doing what I love.

They have all had a purpose-to allow me to do the things I’ve been passionate about.

To have “jobs” that I’ve loved to do.

 

 

How many people do you know who hate what they do for a living?

People who stay in a job they detest, waiting only for the day when they can retire…

 

How many of us were directed that way by well-meaning folk around us…or by those who thought they knew what was best for us?

 

We live in a dynamic world where change is the norm.

Where most people will hold around 7-11 different jobs in their lifetimes….

 

How many of us hold onto something that we began years and years ago, based on decisions we made in a different time and place?

How long since we’ve reassessed to see if that decision still fits…

How long since we’ve opened our minds to new possibilities?

Since we’ve tried on something new for size?

 

Since we’ve dared to dream….

 

And how many of us will have the courage to act on that dream?

Square Pegs, Round Holes

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I recently received a beautiful bunch of flowers. I was admiring them and said to Mum: “Aren’t they gorgeous! I’ve always loved gerberas…” Mum only gave a little sigh and a slight eye roll before looking at me and saying…”Well, that’s nice…but they’re actually marigolds and sunflowers….”

“Oh, is that sort of close?,” I asked hopefully.

I’m not particularly good at knowing all of the stuff that you’re “supposed” to know.

I can identify native plants in a flash. I can remember the scientific names of all of the members of the kangaroo family, tell a hammer from a chisel and talk for hours on how our minds work. I can remember all the words of 70’s songs and know a good quality ukulele when I hear one.

But….. I have no idea how to select a good wine, know which lipstick doesn’t smudge or how to cook a macaroon. I have no idea who is a “celebrity” and why they’re a celebrity, what colour is in fashion this autumn or the name of the latest “must-have” technology. I don’t recognize sports stars or know the plot of the evening soapie. If these subjects come up at a quiz night and I’m on your team well…..whoops, sorry!!

It’s not that I have anything against these subjects, it’s just that they hold no interest for me and never have. I’m not at all bothered by the fact that others care about these things- go for it! They’re simply not relevant to me or to how I choose to live my life.

What we sometimes forget is, that’s okay! It’s actually okay to be “different”. Media and social norms would have us believe that “everyone” thinks things like the above are important. They have a vested interest in doing so.

I’ve found that there’s a whole world of people who are quite happy to prove that theory wrong. People who are quite comfortable to be square pegs in the world of round holes….

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Suck It Up, Buttercup…

exercise

I’ve been uncomfortable lately- very uncomfortable…..

I remember a time when that would have caused me distress- now I am quite comfortable with it-(now there’s a paradox!) It can even give me a bit of an excited buzz.

Can you remember a time when you felt really uncomfortable?

It’s quite likely (if it wasn’t a time when you were wearing a too-tight pair of undies..) that you were probably doing something that pushed you out of your comfort zone. Now that it’s all done and dusted, you can possibly look back at that time and acknowledge something positive or something useful that came from it….no matter how difficult and uncomfortable it seemed at the time. It may have been uncomfortable in a physical sense, in  an emotional situation or a social encounter. It may have been due to an intellectual challenge or something that you felt was outside of your skills and capabilities or your capacity to cope. It felt uncomfortable…

Remember a time when you learned something big, did something challenging, experienced something completely new, put yourself in a new situation, gathered up your courage to try something or did something you hadn’t done before? It is highly likely that it involved some level of discomfort- maybe quite a lot of it.

The truth is that if we stay comfortable we don’t grow.

I’m creating some massive changes at present, on lots of levels and in lots of areas of my life. It’s requiring a fair deal of effort, lots of difficult decisions, heaps of courage and a fair amount of risk.

That doesn’t always feel comfortable….and that’s okay!

I have learned to link discomfort with growth and the expansion of my world. I realise that it is temporary and that in experiencing it I will come out with a new understanding or resource that I didn’t have before- so for me it will be worth it. (Even if the learning is “I won’t do that again!!”)

One of the things that I notice constantly is how unwilling human beings are to experience discomfort of any kind. In fact, people will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it at all cost. They build their lives around avoiding it: especially if it involves other people…

To grow and progress we need to be willing to face the uncomfortable questions, the assumptions and judgments of others. We need to be willing to be upfront and honest despite the fact that we may not be liked for doing so. We need to risk conflict instead of running from it. We need to be willing to “have our feelings hurt” or to be told “No!”….

The irony of course is that in running from discomfort we actually create a toxic pool of it that we immerse ourselves in….we never find the courage to step through it and into growth. Sure it may not always be pleasant but that’s okay!

Listen to the people around you- too many seem to have the same encyclopaedia of excuses- “Too hot/ too cold/ too far/ too much effort/ too dirty/ too inconvenient/ too much trouble/ too hard/ may upset someone…….”

They give it labels like “anxiety” or “Insert your own latest trendy word :) disorder” and treat it with drugs and a myriad of therapies.

They complain endlessly about being stuck, overweight, unhealthy, unhappy, bored and miserable.

They whinge, moan and complain endlessly about never reaching their full potential.

They want a “quick fix”, someone to show them how and someone else to do it for them.

They want it all to change but they’re not willing to actually do anything….

In the end, it’s often all the same thing- a plain old unwillingness to experience discomfort.

So ,how uncomfortable are you willing to get?

Just askin’…. :)

Do you love what you do?

thoughts and actionsDo you love what you do?

What if money didn’t matter? Would you still be doing what you’re doing now?

Or would you be doing something entirely different altogether…

I guess at some stage we’ve all done the old X-Lotto question:

“What if my numbers came up?”

I’m always fascinated when I come across people who genuinely love what they do. I’m more fascinated by the range of jobs that they do. From the recycling man standing beaming in the pile of garbage to the nurse in the Accident and Emergency ward who thrives on the challenge. From the mechanic who does up cars on his days off to the tiler who proudly but surreptitiously leaves her mark on every bathroom she tiles.

People who have chosen to do what they love… or, to simply love what they do.

Then there are those who have had the courage to step out of the safe, the familiar and comfortable and into the great abyss of the unknown in search of their dream. People who have a purpose, a passion and a drive to do what they really want to do: to take a risk, to face uncertainty and to be prepared to fail.

Like the lawyer who starts an online cupcake business, the cop who retrains as a teacher, the psychologist who starts a dog grooming business or the accountant who enrols in drama school.

What is it that stops us from following our hearts? What stops us from doing what we really want to do?

It’s easy to roll out the excuses about why we can’t but what is it that is really standing in our way….besides ourselves?

 

What if, just for this week you were to pretend that your winning numbers had come up- (not in a materialistic “things” sort of way but in a choices and actions sort of a way.)

What sort of difference would that make to your thinking?

What new doors would open up for you?

What might you start to do differently?

And just notice how that makes you feel…

Every action begins with a thought….and the courage to dream……

“What if…”