When I grow up.

As of tomorrow, it will be four weeks since I became self-employed. This is what it looks like when I work:

Photo on 2014-03-23 at 5.12 PM_2

There’s a lot of coffee and tea involved (you can’t just sit in coffee shops without ordering a drink! There are rules and I follow them!). It’s pretty awesome. I’m not going to lie; there’ve been ups and downs and stressful times, but all of my own doing, seeing’s how I am, in fact, the boss of me (see below).

mr. manager

One thing there hasn’t been is regret, which isn’t surprising to me, but still a nice validation of my decision, nonetheless. Regret isn’t really my style. I don’t generally linger in my decision making and once I’ve committed to my choice, I look forward from there at what’s next.* Giant ball of fears and insecurities though I am (remember; I’m a human), I tend to follow this advice:

lookback

* That being said, there have for sure been areas of my life where I was carrying around a lot of significance and not letting go of my past, partly because I hadn’t yet realized that who I am is not the same as the things that have happened to me. I’m a work in progress, but it’s progress!

The week before last, I was talking to my coach about a familiar story that is driving me Up The Proverbial Wall: When I get to X, then I can Y. It’s very closely related to my “not-good-enough/all-or-nothing” story; the one in which I’m simultaneously the tragic protagonist and nasty-ass villain in my own story.

Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of storybook references in this post. I’ve always loved make believe and fairy tales. I’ve lived in a committed certainty that my fantasy just outside my peripheral vision. I don’t ever open a wardrobe without hoping, just a little bit, that there might be pine trees and snow just past the jackets.

What I wanted to work on with my coach was the way I continue to get in my own way. As in, here I am, in the future I’d oh-so-longed for, and yet, I wasn’t doing the stuff I wanted to be doing. Why wouldn’t I look at what I wanted? What was stopping me from creating my vision? There was nothing in my way but me and it was getting really, really irritating. When I get irritated/irritating, all possibility of self-compassion takes off, fleeing for safety in higher ground, and I’m left being a not very nice person to me.

It was time to bankrupt this story and that’s precisely what we did. I looked at every single way in which this story was costing me joy and happiness. The evidence was plentiful and obvious. Eventually, we got to the point at which we realized that I believed I had to bust my ass to deserve anything, and even when I did just that, I still couldn’t enjoy the fruits of my labours.

“You’re addicted to suffering,” said my coach. “What’s that about?”

“Well, I am Catholic; it makes sense,” I joked half-heartedly. And then I got frustrated. After all, I actually remember a time when this wasn’t the case.

“I don’t get it,” I said, my frustration mounting. “I used to be so happy. When I was a kid, I was happy.”

It’s true: Despite growing up in a pretty stressful family life and amidst lots of sadness, fear and anger, I was a happy-go-lucky little kid. If it wasn’t fun, I’d go off and play by myself and find some fun. I was a genuine Sally Sunshine.

“Seriously,” I said, “I loved my childhood. When other kids wanted to play grown up, I’d peace out. I never wanted to grow up. Ask my mom.”

“So, what happened?” asked my coach.

“I don’t know. It’s like I just passed this imaginary line and life got all hard and—oh! Oh my god. I can see it.”

Forget the penny dropping: It was like a massive tree falling right in front of me. It all made sense and it had never occurred to me before.

Here’s what I saw:

I’d lived in my happy childhood (my therapist thinks it’s hilarious when I try to convince her my childhood was happy; she knows my family situation from way back when), never wanting to grow up, because all the grown ups I knew were sad, scared, angry, stressed out and unhappy. Why would I want that? Nope. I had a serious case of Peter Pan-itis: If that’s what growing up entailed, then I wasn’t ever going to do it. Other kids couldn’t wait until they were a grown up for real. This was not my idea of a fun game or promising future.

So what happened? Well, somewhere along the way, I guess I grew up anyway, despite my protestations and denials. When I wasn’t looking, Life caught up to me and turned me into an adult. I inadvertently stepped over the line I’d drawn in the sand and I grew up, and from that point forward, I looked at my life the only way I understood adulthood to be: Hard, scary, stressful and unhappy.

This kind of took my breath away. I mean, I can see it. I can see how I made this real, without meaning to do it at all. How I’d been suiting up for a fight and approaching my life like a linebacker heading for a tackle, all the while wondering what the heck happened, like the concussed quarterback who got taken down.

The day you realize that you’re the reason your life feels hard is a pretty big day. Suddenly, I could choose anything else. Today is going to be fun. Today will be peaceful. This day, I’m going to enjoy myself. This one is going to be an adventure.

[Tweet “The day you realize that you’re the reason your life feels hard is a pretty big day.”]

It turns out, I’d been living a fantasy the whole time, but I’d been picking pretty crappy chapters for my choose-my-own-adventure. If I could choose joy before, I can choose it again.

Now, I’m not saying that life is easy, but does life have to be hard?

Only if I say so. And this time, I say something different.

 

 

Day One.

Courage1

Well, it’s five minutes before the end of my first day as an entrepreneur. I’d love to say it’s been full of inspiration and provide you with mental images of me channeling my inner Braveheart with courageous shouts of “FREEDOM”, but that wouldn’t be super accurate.

Truth be told, today was largely full of fear and frustration. Fear about what I don’t know (which seems fairly vast, right about now) and frustration with a project I’m working on and my resoundingly crappy not-good-enough story.

On my last day, yesterday, my team threw me an amazing farewell tea, complete with all manner of sweets and treats as befitting the Health Promotion Girl’s final hurrah. Last night, after leaving the office in tears (I’m sad to leave my teammates and can’t help but feel a little fear of missing out), Adam took me out to dinner to celebrate, which was awesome, because a) I wouldn’t have thought to, b) I’d have stayed in and been a sad sack, and c) we went to Il Terrazzo, which is my favourite Italian place. I am so grateful that I get to share my adventures with him.

This morning, The First Morning, I woke up and was super lazy. Fairly anti-climactic, really. I succeeded in putting on my running gear, wearing it for three hours and then eventually conceded the fact that there was no way I was going to make it for a run between the calls I had scheduled. So I showered and dressed. I will NOT not dress nicely, just because no one’s around to see it. I may need to begin wearing shoes in the house though, lest I go into footwear withdrawal.

Technically, I’m taking two weeks off (apart from my current coaching clients, that is), to relax and enjoy this shift. So far, I notice a lot of judgment about what I’m doing: Either I’m not accomplishing The Stuff I need to do in order to be a success (clearly, I’ve got a lot riding on Getting There [where? I don’t know…] in the first 24 hours) or I’m failing at relaxing (how did you know I’m a perfectionist?).

This week is pretty much chock-full of work, for a week off. Looks like Adam’s right: I need to take another week off on the end, if I’m going to be in integrity with my declaration for a couple weeks’ break. From here on out, I know I’m going to need to be intentional about, well, just about everything. The time I’m working and the time I’m not. I can already tell which one will be trickier…

I wanted to post all day, but didn’t want to sound like a downer. “If I’m not smiling 115 percent of the time, people will think I’m failing.”

inferior

To be honest, I was afraid people would gloat. Which is pretty lame, because who would gloat? And even if they did, why would I care? How would I even know? I was watching The Princess Diaries on the weekend (don’t judge me) and was reminded that no one can make me feel small without my permission. No one includes me, too.

So, since keeping up pretences is exhausting, I decided to just be honest about the day. I know some of you want to know and I really wish I could say it was rainbows and unicorns, but it was a busy and stressful day, following a predictably busy, momentous and sad day.

So that’s it. Day one. I do think it’s kind of cool that my first day was blue sky and sunshine-filled. Tomorrow will be brighter. I have to let go of this one, first, though, so that’s what I’m doing. One day at a time.

letitgo

Quitting and beginning.

IMG_2444

The above is the message that was in my fortune cookie yesterday. I don’t normally ascribe a lot of meaning to the things I find in cookies or horoscopes, but this time, it made me smile. It’s true: Things are a-changing over here in my world.

It’s been a long time, My Blog. A long time, indeed. It’s weird, how if I don’t write anything on here, nothing happens on my blog. I need blog elves. Partly because then my blog would be updated and partly because then I’d have an elf, and that would be be pretty much the coolest frigging thing in the world.

At least this time, I have a good excuse for being incommunicado: Like I said, I’ve been busy making some big changes and some even bigger decisions. You probably know that I write over at www.evergrowthcoaching.com, the blog that Adam and I share for our coaching company. Coaching has been getting cooler and cooler and busier and busier, all of which is really good news. I’m loving the work I’m doing.

I less love working nine zillion hours a day, but I’ve been doing it (okay, more like 10–12 hours) in service of a cunning plan: I wanted to build my coaching practice so that I could go to part time at my job and eventually be self employed. It turns out that “eventually” was a lot sooner than I thought!

Long story made short, I have [at last] resigned my position with the provincial government/public service of British Columbia. This decision was a really big one for me. I’m talking throat-constricting-and-gasping-panic-attacks-while-jogging kind of big decision. Not-sleeping-and-tossing-and-turning-coated-in-cold-sweat kind of decision. Several factors precipitated my choice and I immensely grateful for the whole experience: Without the stuff that went on, I would not have made the choice I’ve been wanting to make since, oh, before I began working with the provincial government.

I’ve always wanted to freelance, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I didn’t trust myself and I didn’t trust the universe, either. Without doing the work to become a coach, and utterly transforming who I am being in my life and in this world, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been able to choose to let go of my desperately clasping hands and step outside of my comfort zone. Thank God I let go.

Now, I am not a person who would describe herself as brave. I’ve always been a timid little thing, from the time I was, well, a timid little thing. I know I’ve done a lot of things that were atypical or different, but for the first time ever, I really, really understand that courage isn’t the absence of fear; rather, it is something that is created when you face your fear and move forward anyway.

I am so excited for what’s ahead. I’m exhilarated. Every now and then, I’m afraid, too, just to keep it interesting. What I learned this week, and shared with my team (I’m a mentor coach in Seattle—so much has happened since I last blogged here!) is this:

It turns out that fear doesn’t stop me from doing things: I do. It turns out, I can have fear and move forward anyway. Forward movement doesn’t only happen in the sunshine.

goforit

 

 

 

Icing on the cake.

I realize I’m writing about dessert a lot lately. Weird. (not really)

Anyway.

Have you heard about Mr. Cake? This guy is quite the inspiration.

The way he quit his job became world news and I love that he did it in style, in integrity and in cake:

o-CHRIS-HOLMES-MR-CAKE-RESIGNATION-LETTER-570

I love it. I mean, obviously, because it is cake, so of course I love it, but also that he’s following his passions and creating a life where he is doing what he loves to do. More of us should do that, I think. Which is why I’m working on it, too. It’s hard work, though (I know, “If I say so, right?”). If I lived over there, I’d buy his cakes and talk to him a lot, because I think it would inspire me.

No one ever said doing what you love is easy. I suppose if it were, a lot more people would be doing it. And I don’t know about you, but I find that if you are determined to find a way, people really love to remind you of all the things you should be worrying about, if you aren’t already, and as if you don’t have enough of your own stuff to get a handle on, too. I guess that’s their way of caring about you, but I suspect it also serves them by reinforcing the reasons to support the choices they’ve made.

Alan Watts talked about this in his clip “What if Money Was No Object”. This video is not new and I’ve posted it on Facebook often, usually when I’ve needed the reminder that I’m not crazy for wondering about the way we spend our lives (you know, the only lives we get).

Here’s what he said:

“But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending [money on] things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.”

I mean, you guys? You get to live once. You don’t know how long you get, either. Unless you have some kind of inside track on living more than once and/or living forever, in which case, can you tell me how? Is how you’re spending your days what you dream of? I know there’s a disconnect for me in what I want to do and what I’m doing. Sometimes it makes me sad, other times frustrated, but lately in addition to those sentiments, it makes me dedicated, driven and committed to creating something different.

Just in case you needed some inspiration (and because I needed some today):

And so the mystery continues…

Heyo! I’m hitting a bit of a writer’s block, it would seem. Mostly because I spent most of the last month completely overwhelmed with what I’ve got going on (all my own doing, but still—it’s a lot) and when I get overwhelmed, I have a tendency to react like this:

rabbits-play-deadIt’s not the most super-productive strategy, I’ll admit. The best part is when I decide to roll over and get back to accomplishing [any]things, the stuff that inspired me to play possum in the first place has become bigger and more pressing. Awesome.

So, I’ve got a whole bunch of drafts started that I haven’t finished and I’ve been looking for a handful of poems I wrote in my first year of the creative writing program. I had been looking for them for ages, wondering if they were any good, since a great way to find out if your poetry is half-decent is to read it five-to-ten years later. If it doesn’t make you want to barf and then hide under a rock, you’re doing alright.

I found them, maybe sometime in the last twelve months. I remember being stoked to find them. Unfortunately, I do not remember where I was at the time. I feel like I’ve searched the condo, which leaves the storage unit downstairs. Ugh. The problem with the storage locker is that it is a) very creepy down there, and b) very, very full.

Me not finding the poems (and to be honest, not really looking for them physically—it’s been more a thing I think about from time to time, which is clearly not all that effective) has been a pretty handy excuse for not posting. Weirdly, though, it hasn’t helped with my writer’s block.

On that note, I’m going to sign off, because it’s beautiful outside and I want to enjoy the sunshine. I’ve been off this past week and the sorrow of having to return to work is starting to set in. I’m going to go play outside. You should, too.

A new look and an old question.

Coffee-shop-blog-post outfit.

Coffee-shop-blog-post outfit.

You may have noticed that my blog has changed. You, Friend, are very perceptive. I decided, in light of my recent perspective shifts, that the View From the Bay should shift also. It’s a sleeker, more grown-up look, just like me. Ha! Just kidding. I’ve been wanted to swap it up for a while, because I didn’t like how narrow the text column was, which is irksome to my eye and most likely to yours as well. I like to write and I don’t need my posts seeming optically to be longer than they already are.

As for me being all changed and whatnot, well, that part’s true. Though, strangely, I’m quite at peace with myself. Not that I was expecting to go all “cray” and act out in my internal struggle, cutting my hair with rusty kitchen scissors in a fit of angst. Yes, that is from a country song. It’s been kind of like a breakup.

Don’t worry, though; we don’t even have rusty kitchen scissors. That’s just unsanitary.

The thing is, I am changed. Pretty profoundly. And to be honest, I struggled against it (clearly, as my last post conveyed). I didn’t think I could change me without losing me, if that makes sense. Instead, I’m pleased to learn that I’m still me, just more of me. Unfiltered, though not completely, by any means. A little more true. There was no loss that cost me anything I didn’t want to lose. It’s like being hypnotized: No one can really make you do anything you don’t want to do. I’m not saying I’m perfect (though I am, and so are you), at least not in terms of my journey. I’m pretty sure I’ve only dipped my toes in, and I’ve got a long way to go. I think that’s what life is about. It’d be pretty boring if I was on the top of my game with nowhere to go already.

I love this quote by R.W.E. and I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean this was something you just do once:

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m a little surprised to see that life goes on as it did before. I don’t mean to sound all dramatic (though I realize I often do, but let’s face it: I’m a star), but honestly, it’s like the sky should be, or could be, a different colour. It’s not, but I will say I can appreciate the sky in whatever shade it shows up, without thinking about what it should be, so that I can have something to resent. I spent a lot of time shaking my fist at the sky, chastising it for not being something other than what it was.

And, if you think I’m just talking about sunshine and blue skies here, you’re missing the point. I’ve spent a lot of time experiencing my entire life and my relationships with people, animals, inanimate objects and fairy tales, through what they should be, or should have been or not been. It’s exhausting and let me tell you how well that was working out for me: Not so much. Unless you count me having the right to be angry and disappointed all the time. Not exactly a blue-ribbon life, huh?

peterpanAs for my old question, well here it is:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

Thing is, I’m still not sure. It’s really frustrating and it’s a question that’s plagued me for a long time. In my full-time business of making every little thing so gawd-damned significant, I’ve been utterly paralyzed. I’ve stayed where I don’t want to be, afraid to answer the question with anything but “I don’t know”. I’m not sure who I expect to have the answers to what I’d like to be when I grow up, but clearly, it wasn’t me.

 

Maybe I’m going to be many things. Maybe moving on doesn’t have to be so bloody significant. Maybe I move on to something and it’s the wrong something, and I move on again. Maybe I mess up and go backwards. So far, nothing in my life has done anything but add to who I am today, so why don’t I pry off those fingers of fear that have been holding me back?

I’m trying. I often wear a necklace that Adam bought me for my birthday (he bought me Runaway Girl for a wedding present—subtle irony intended): It’s the silhouette of a little girl wearing a cape. I love her fearlessness and her can-do attitude. Maybe it’s time I try my cape on, instead of just talking about it. Time to actually try something, instead of worrying about whether it’s going to work out. Because there’s no way I can actually know that and staying put isn’t working out for me so well, anyway.

Do you recognize any of this in yourself? Are you holding yourself back? What’s in your way?

Growing pains.

Hey my peeps! How are you? I’m pretty good. It’s a long weekend, for one thing. Tough to beat a long weekend. It’s been about two years since I lost flex days, which have to be just about the best work flexibility ever. I sure miss my Monday flex days. Some people prefer Fridays, but here’s my strategy behind Mondays:

  • Mondays are kind of a bummer. Because they’re all Monday-ish.
  • Fridays, however, are pretty much awesome. You can wear jeans on Friday and everyone’s in a good mood, what with the impending weekend and all.

Therefore, why would I want to miss Fridays? Much better to miss every other Monday. Plus, long weekends are often Mondays, so then you get Tuesdays off, too. Anyway, I don’t get flex days anymore. I work the same hours, actually more, but alas! No flex days in recognition of it. I do definitely have a pretty flexible situation at work, so I’m not really, really complaining (much). But I still miss them…

So, I said I’d fill you in on the coaching training I’m doing. This could be a really long post, but I’ll give you the Cole’s Notes version.

The long and short of it is that I’m taking a year-long, super-intense training and accreditation program in life coaching. “Life coaching?” you say. “Oh geez. I can’t take Bay seriously now.” I know what you mean. I nearly couldn’t either, when Adam started looking into coaching. But after witnessing his personal transformation this past year, as well as seeing the results in some of the people he’s worked with, I started to change my tune. I wanted it for me. I want me out of my way. Some people live really amazing lives and, quite frankly, I’m tired of envying them. I want to be them. So I dove in.

Thus far, it’s been hard. This style of coaching is called ontological (I totally had to Google it, too). This basically means it focuses on who you are being, as opposed to what you are doing. I mean, there is power in this. But there is also discomfort. For reals. I remember when I was 13 or so and grew four inches in one year. It friggin’ HURT! It felt awkward and achey and uncomfortable. Turns out that personal transformation feels pretty much the same.

So far, both weekends I’ve been in training have been tough (this is somewhat misleading: we meet in-person in Seattle one weekend per month, but there is mad work to be done in between. I guess I’m saying that if you don’t get phone calls or coffee date requests from me, don’t take it personally.).

Tough. Ha! Understatement of the year. I LOST it, very publicly, on more than one occasion. I mean alternating between wracking, heaving, can’t-exhale sobbing and simultaneously saying, “Feck all y’all” on repeat while envisioning doing great physical harm to people. Not killing them (I’m not a monster!), but I was pretty much a Virtua Fighter in my mind. Like a crazy one, with mad ninja skillz and a cold, cruel disregard for pain.

Why was I mentally orchestrating such pointed violence, you ask? Well, there were many reasons, but largely they were of my own interpretation (so I see now. This awareness was not available to me last weekend.). Imagine you have a bear. A big angry momma bear (I think they’re grumpier), and you’ve taken away her cubs and her salmon and berries (this is all that I know that they eat, apart from hapless people), backed her into a corner and then poked at her with sticks. Picture her response, multiply it by 12 and you might be getting closer to envisioning my emotional/mental state last weekend.

The good news is that I’ve come out the other end of each weekend a better person. To my mind’s eye, too quickly for my comfort, my perceptions have shifted and I’m noticing that I’m noticing things. Hilariously, I didn’t want to admit this. That’s what I mean by too quickly. Perhaps that isn’t hilarious. More indicative, really, of some stuff I need to deal with. And this transformation is what I signed up for, after all. Add to this the fact that I am actually really enjoying coaching people (I was really not sure how I’d do/feel, but I’m loving it) and really, things are going swimmingly, if not always smoothly.

I feel like that’s a pretty heavy post, so I’ll stop rambling here. I’ll share more of what I’ve learned about me soon. And I promise I’m okay. Better than that, really. Much better. Some old chains are falling off and it feels much nicer. Lighter. More free.

 

Sometimes, you just need to get a new perspective.

Sometimes, you just need to get a new perspective.