I wanted to write about this for a very long time, but the layers of this topic are so complex, it's difficult to pour them into simple, well-formed sentences. In addition to that it triggers so many thoughts, it's hard to decide where to begin.
As any good perfectionists, this kind of uncertainty usually blocks me, and I do nothing instead. But now I've decided to take the "one step at a time" approach, and break it into digestible parts and don't let my brain jump from one thing to another in the meantime. So note to my dear brain: I'll write about that other thousand pieces of this puzzle as well, just be still and concentrate on what I really want to say now. Thanks.
I heard about an interesting project in one of my favourite podcasts, Elise gets crafty. (My brain: write about Elise, please, you always wanted to write about her so much! Me: Shhh, I definitely will write about her. One step at a time, you know). So this project is the One Little Word by Ali Edwards, and it's about choosing one word in January that you will focus on that year (it's a very short description, but this summarises it in a nutshell. Here's the website of the project, and here's the podcast episode if you're curious). I never really liked new year's resolutions, but this concept is close to my heart. So this year I chose the word NOW.
After choosing it, it already started to shift shape, and never stopped ever since. And I think it's the power of flow. When you start exploring something, it suddenly comes to you from every direction, and you realise its power and you become more and more humble towards the topic, or concept. Because as I started to think about the word "now", many, MANY things have started to happen in and around me. My main reason for this choice was to be more present in every moment, especially whenever I'm with my kids (I still haven't succeeded, but hey, that's why this is my word). But as I was thinking and reading about it more, I realised that being present affects many other aspects of our lives. It's a snowball effect. That's why I was feeling so overwhelmed when I was trying to write about it in the first place. Meditating on one single, little word brings so many thoughts, so many feelings, so many acts, that you can't do anything but stop, and listen, without judging, without sticking to any of them. You start observing yourself as an outsider, a stranger who has nothing to do with you at all. And then comes the first stage of peace. Peace from your thoughts, peace from the urge to reflect on all of those thoughts right there. And for me, this was such a beautiful thing, because it resonated with everything I already knew about "now" after reading Eckhart Tolle's book (The Power of Now) for the first time a few years ago.
Trying to stay present I realised how many things are dragging me away from that moment. I slowly started to pay attention to those thoughts and urges, and I was observing them very closely. And I knew I had to do something to eliminate them. I needed a plan - I thought. But the idea of planning ahead seems strange when you're trying to focus on "now". So again, I did nothing because of the wriggling nature of mind-boggling thoughts. At least I thought I did nothing. Until I realised that this process I've started with that short word was planting a seed that becomes a beautiful and enormous plant, hopefully a blossoming one, too. You don't need to plan ahead that much when you're able to experience the flow inside and around you. Because if you're listening to it, you'll know what the necessary next step will be.
Of course I also wanted to make long-term plans, because it's in my nature. I can't really help it. I love spontaneous things, hell, I LOVE them, when I have at least a vague idea about the whole picture it's planted in. That's my security belt. And that's also my fuel to act - right now. I had two different discussions lately about this. One with my mom, and one with a friend. With my mom we've been talking about the goals we set for ourselves, and how it affects our attitude and life. We agreed, that goals are needed, but you have to enjoy the ride that brings you there, otherwise it's not worth it. On the other hand, that goal will probably keep you from falling whenever you feel like you're not strong enough to reach it. It works so beautifully. We also agreed that it's better to break your goals down, and go ahead slowly, one step at a time. And we both know the feeling that comes when you start meditating on your goal and you feel like everything around you supports that aim, but only, ONLY if you put in the work. Then I brought up the movie "The Princess and The Frog". It has touched me so much (when I saw it a few weeks ago - I know, I'm a tad late with movies, as always). It reminded me the other conversation I mentioned before. That you HAVE TO work on things. You have to put a lot of effort in, if you want something to work. Yes, we were talking about relationships. But I think it works with everything. Whenever you put work in something, it'll become yours more than anything given to you as a present. You'll learn to appreciate it more. You'll learn to love it. Be it a relationship or a project you're working on. That's why we almost always learn the hard way. But I'd rather call it the more beautiful way. Because that way things have depth and layers, they're not just shallow rewards for nothingness.
These thoughts led me to another thing I've discovered through the word "now" (and also bumped into it while listening to Elise in this episode. By the time I will write about her, you'll know more about her than me). And it's acting now. "Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today." - this sentence from Benjamin Franklin (thanks Google, I never knew this comes from him) was quoted for me million times as a child. I hated it. I thought this was invented by adults to insult kids. How little did I know about life. I find this advice beautiful by now. It's something that helps you cut procrastination, that's the arch enemy of being present. Acting now means being proactive, and it also means you get rid of that thing and you don't need plans. You make room for possible spontaneous things in your life, because you'll more likely say yes to them if you don't have thousands of things on your "list" already. It's another perspective of the word "now". And another layer of working towards your goal. You can make plans, you can write to do lists, but if you don't make actions, they'll never work. So I'll stop here for today, and wish you a fruitful and active week.
Next time I'll continue with this exploration, and one day I'll write about Elise, I promise.
By the way! Let me tell you about my illustration a little bit. I chose Williamina, because I think that her words are exactly what I think about the relation of work and success: "Labor honestly, conscientiously, and steadfastly, and recognition and success must crown your efforts in the end." - She was born exactly 160 years ago today, and you can read more about her here. With this drawing I'm bringing #96sketches back to life. Woot!