~ Marianne Williamson
Running Too Fast
I remember when my partner and I were both taking our counselling education on nights and weekends. Our schooling overlapped for one year. Both of us were also working full-time but we were determined to move into a new career direction that was more meaningful, and gentler on our bodies.
With both of us in school and working full-time, we juggled my 11-year old daughter back and forth, taking turns travelling to classes, lectures, support groups and weekend workshops. One early Saturday morning I had to take my daughter to a friend's house for the weekend so that I could attend a counselling retreat. I had to drive an hour in the opposite direction of my weekend workshop, and then, turbo charge back to the retreat center for an early start.
During that hectic period of my life, I was sleeping in my car during my daughter's ballet practices, napping during my work lunch hours, and trying to restore my agitated nervous system before my night classes. That early Saturday morning, my wake-up call to slow down came in the form of an expensive speeding ticket.
Taking a Break
When my second year of counselling education was about to begin, I decided to take a year off. After I made my decision, I felt myself letting go of my dedication to speed through life in order to "get ahead."
I was willing to trust that life would unfold as it should if I made time for love. I knew that I would finish my education - slowly. I could choose take breaks. I could choose to relax. I could choose to belong to the flow of my own life.
A few days after my decision to take some time off from school, I went for a long walk with my daughter in the rain. We meandered together companionably and happily, without the usual deadlines.
Suddenly, she opened up to me in a way that she was unable to when I was so busy. We both had a good cry over how much we had been missing each other. I realized how much I loved unstructured time to listen to my life more deeply.
After I lightened my schedule, I was surprised to notice a feeling of abundance burgeoning in my chest. My decision to take a year off of school created a new abundance of time. Underneath my fears for my financial future, I suddenly felt rich with the time.
Letting go of my self-imposed pressure to succeed, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the ordinariness of my life. Slowing down, I realized that I was enough.
The Myth of Making It
In my drive to "make it" as a woman in the world after my divorce, I forgot about my feminine instincts for family nourishment. I realized that I was not alone in my quest to "make it." I met women like me everywhere - all struggling to "get ahead," and pushing to be "Super Women."
When I stopped racing to "get ahead" my heart opened up. Perhaps you are trying to reclaim your feminine self-value by spending more time at home. There is such beauty in enjoying the simple beauties of daily life when you spend time with the people, creatures and home comforts you love.
Understanding the Truth
During my hiatus from night school, I stopped watching television. Like most of us, I was raised on television. Burned out from my year of "trying to get ahead," I decided rather drastically that television was un-creative. I felt like I was filling my head with other people's ideas and not making space for my own truth.
I wanted to discover who I was outside of the cultural paradigms of what a woman and her family "should" be. Determined to find my authentic voice, I declared to my family that television was fearful and manipulative.
Much to her dismay, I told my daughter that television was not an option for the next year. I felt we needed to find the time to create our own lives from the inside, instead of being so influenced by the outside.
Unsympathetic to my daughter's argument that I was cutting her off from popular culture, I decided to get creative. Our rambling home was already a creative mecca.
I decided to hold creativity "classes" for my daughter in my studio. I prepared creative assignments and devised writing prompts for her every day after school. We also shared a mom-daughter art journal. We did drawings in our book together, having visual conversations.
To further distract my daughter away from television, I decided to enroll her in a poetry course. To encourage her poetic inspiration, we went to cafes to write poetry together each week over hot chocolates.
After a year of daily poetry practice, she became the youngest winner in a big poetry contest in our city. After writing a luscious-beyond-her-14-years poem about chocolate, she won us free tickets to a lavish chocolate tasting festival.
A Creative Adventure
Being an instigator for my family's creative life was a wonderful adventure for me. Since our rental house was slated to be torn down in a few years, we had creative license to paint on the walls and set it up in any way we liked. The house was huge. We had a library, a yoga room, an art studio, a music studio, and a writing room. We had plenty of space to dance, and an outdoor pool to swim in.
That year, our holidays centered around collage, writing, singing and dancing. We made books of our dreams together around our dining room table. We collaged our goals into envelopes and sealed them away until the following year. As we tuned into our uniqueness, new spiritual energies danced through our house. We created freely and connected to our love for each other.
That year was a creative experiment. It was during that time that I understood that chronic emotional pain is no one's true nature. A healed life is a creative life, constructed from the inside-out.
And, it is not always easy to tune in. Life is filled with voluntary and imposed distractions. The race to "get ahead" in order to "secure" a future can distract away from the wisdom of the now-moment.
Why postpone getting to know your inner life until you get ill, depressed, exhausted, or burned out? When you turn your attention to what is bubbling up inside, emotions that long to be healed arise gratefully to clear. This makes room for a new, joyful creative life.
As you let go of the psychological frustration with "getting ahead," your experience of life will grow creatively vivid. Aliveness will return to your experience of living - much brighter and more entertaining than any TV show.