Tag Archives: be emotionally agile

Own Your Story

Life is full at the moment. In some ways I’m leading a double life. My weekdays are filled with a day job that I am very grateful for but I do not enjoy. The rest of my time is taken up immersed in my passion projects that I feel in the flow with, that I dream will lead to being able to further my purpose and be my living.

Some days it is really tough to get the balance right. Some days I find it difficult to focus on that part of my Story that matters to me most, to not get sucked into the daily grind of doing the work that gets the salary, that pays the bills.

And so, as seems a usual occurrence in my life, the universe puts messages in my way that help me navigate whatever difficulty I’m facing.

In the last couple of months there have been a lot of messages about Story. The importance of Story and Storytelling in our lives. The fact that our internal Story impacts the world around us – how we show up in society. So how do we own our Story in order to make the external impact one of hope, positivity, kindness and compassion?

I have shared the incredible work of Susan David PHD many times.
Her social media posts continue to provide inspiration nuggets like this one!

It seems to me that owning our Story is an act of Radical Self-Love. What is radical self-love? Meet Sonya Renee Taylor!

This podcast episode is a fantastic introduction to Sonya’s background and work.
Sonya the poet in her flow.

Having now read Sonya’s book The Body is Not an Apology, one of the key takeaways for me was that part of owning my Story would be owning my Body. This was an incredibly confronting concept for me! Warning: this will be very challenging for anyone who has struggled with feeling “not enough” and trying to reconcile your physical place in society!

Sonya’s affirmation exercises do seem to help. I feel like I’m slowly making progress with this part of owning my story. I love this quote from Sonya about stitching a new garment…

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal, other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature.

Sonya Renee Taylor

I read this quote from the legendary Brené Brown a number of years ago. These days I keep it close. I have found it comforting in this journey with Story and Storytelling.

If you haven’t read The Gifts of Imperfection, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy or try the audiobook narrated by the author.
Here’s a taster…

What about being a Storyteller and sharing Story externally? Well, along came this National Geographic Education course – Storytelling for Impact – so, of course, I signed up. I loved this course. I have always loved photographs and photography but this course really opened my eyes to the power of this medium to share Story.

Stories … protect us from chaos … Implicit in the extraordinary revival of storytelling is the possibility that we need stories — that they are a fundamental unit of knowledge, the foundation of memory, essential to the way we make sense of our lives: the beginning, middle and end of our personal and collective trajectories.”

Bill Buford, the former fiction editor of the New
Yorker, writes this in his essay, “The Seduction of
Story Telling”
Here’s an example of a photo that shares Story… in this image are elements of my Story past, present and future. I love that you can see my faint reflection taking the photo. What I also love is the idea that no matter my intention in sharing this particular image, you will interpret your own Story within this same image 🖤

Any photograph has multiple meanings; indeed, to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination. The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: ‘There is the surface. Now think — or rather feel, intuit — what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.’ Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy

Susan Sontag, “On Photography

The last idea I want to share about Story and Storytelling in this post centres around using this power to build awareness and promote behaviour change for some of humanity’s big social and environmental issues.

Here are a couple of academic papers looking at the place of Storytelling as part of the solution for climate change:

Storytelling is Part of the Solution to the Climate Dilemma

Transforming the Stories we tell about climate change: from Issue to Action

The latest from Project Drawdown is putting this Storytelling into action. Climate Solutions 101. This online course is for everyone – super accessible, delve in as deeply as you want. It promotes hope for the future and is packed with individuals and groups Stories of actions that any one of us can take to be part of the solution for this – the dilemma of our time.

By owning Your Story,

you own Our Story 🖤

Finding Gratitude in Loss

Everyone I know seems to be grieving some form of loss from the year just been. And for some, this new year has ushered in yet more loss.

I have been writing and rewriting this post since the 1st of January, coming to a sad, hopeless end each time. It was the 7th of January that I came across this from my Instagram…. a post from a year ago when Australia was on fire…

I wasn’t sure for a moment that I believed the last few lines any more, given the year just been. I decided to put this post aside and come back to it after applying some resilience practices.

At times like this when I feel particularly despondent, I turn to the words of others. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good quote!

My first stop was Susan David’s work, Emotional Agility. I have written about this a number of times now. And I constantly share her insightful and uplifting social media posts on My Story 😊

These words struck a chord with me this re-read:

Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility.

Susan David PhD

I read and re-read these words. There is grief and loss there but there is also hope and beauty.  Can I find some gratitude in loss, I mused?

Well, yes I can.

I lost my job late last year. I grieved this loss deeply, especially all I perceived I was losing in terms of the tribe I found in my colleagues and the hopes I had built around my career projection.

In reality, I was given the gift of time to focus on making one of my dreams come true – getting Pure Spaces Education off the ground. What I’ve achieved in the last couple of months would simply never have happened if it was still business as usual. I am now working towards my true purpose.

And in reality, that tribe of colleagues I mentioned isn’t tied to geography. This tribe will outlast that workplace. We will continue to love and support each other no matter where each of us lands up 💛

I lost my freedom to travel. I still grieve this loss, but I am daily reminded of how blessed I am to be riding out the pandemic storm here in New Zealand! Deeply, deeply grateful I got to spend Christmas with my family and see in the New Year on the beach in the summer sunshine.

I lost “control” over my what and when and how…. Only to realise I never had control over any of that in the first place. I found comfort in stillness. Something I have always struggled with is stopping, letting go and just Being. This past year forced me into giving myself permission to Just Be… and it has been a game changer. It is okay to be still and wait…. In the Waiting there are often unexpected dreams come true.

Here’s a couple of quotes that helped through this time:

I said to my soul, be still and wait… so the darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing.

T. S. Eliot

To see the World in a Grain of Sand, and Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Now you might read this and think I haven’t really lost anything. It isn’t real loss I’m talking about. In answer, I’ll go back to the beginning of this post. We have all suffered loss as a result of Covid-19. All of humanity has lost something. We are all changed by this loss of “normal”. I have simply articulated a couple of examples of the loss I have felt. Each of us will have our own examples of how we are changed. I believe it is important for each of us to acknowledge this loss to ourselves, grieve it, and then we can move forward. In the moving forward my hope is that we lean into the changes and see in them opportunity. Opportunity to forge a brave, new world!

I heard a great quote the other day:

We will not go back to normal, normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal, other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends, we are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature

Sonya Renee Taylor

That is what I am hoping for this coming year. I want to be part of stitching this new garment.

So I go back to what I wrote in that post of 7 Jan 2020…Many of my dreams are about a continued journey of treading lightly, living sustainably with Mother Earth in mind. Times like this bring motivation to act on these dreams with a sense of urgency.
Hope is not lost if we all do whatever we can, no matter how small it may seem. This growing earthly-conscious collective can turn the tide. I believe this!
I do believe what I wrote then. I believe it just as applicable now as it was then.

I found gratitude and growth in loss.

Happy Holidays?

Normally by now I am full of Christmas spirit, immersed in our family holiday traditions as another year draws to a close.

But not this year. I am struggling. I feel the weight of the uncertainty 2020 has brought for me and everyone I know.

With all I have learned about Emotional Agility this year I know it is okay to feel this way. In fact, I think we should all acknowledge that Christmas will feel different this year.

In my search to find growth in my present discomfort, I have found the following helpful…

I found this article from The Conversation an interesting read – Christmas will be different this year.

I found this post from Action for Happiness a comfort.

I found Susan David PhD’s Instagram posts like this one insightful.

I found reading up about Kwanzaa inspiring and uplifting.

We are all grieving some sort of loss this year. My wish for us all is to find some Peace as this year ends and some Hope as the next one dawns.

So I will wish you happy holidays wherever you are and whatever your circumstance. Have Courage and Be Kind. 💙

Joyful June

A new month, a new Action For Happiness calendar.

I am starting with Day 10 – take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it🧡 New books to read spark so much joy for me And I have so enjoyed rediscovering my love of sketching in recent weeks.

The Space Between

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

COVID-19 lockdown day four here in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Time at home to really consider the space between stimulus and response.

I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been reading and watching. Trying to make sense of all of this – where is our opportunity to grow.

However, I should say first that not all of us are in a position to reflect on this current situation in the way that I am able to.  Self-care and self-compassion will look different for each of us at the moment.  Some of us out there will be dealing first hand with the tragedy that is this pandemic.

So, it is to those of us who are simply doing our bit by staying home, physical distancing and encouraging being together apart, that I address these reflections to.  And reflecting is important right now as Nature has given us this space between.

I really appreciate what Niki Harré says about reflecting in her book The Infinite Game: how to live well together.

“Reflecting is not a lazy way to avoid moving forward; it is a crucial part of untangling ourselves from the dominant cultural patterns that are so easy to replicate when we ‘just do it’. Reflecting takes skill”

Niki Harré

Let’s start with what seems to be the unravelling picture of the causes of the unprecedented time we now find ourselves in.

Bill Gates’ TED talk 2015 – this is a link to Bill Gates’ eerily accurate prediction about epidemics and what we would need to prepare.  His suggestions mostly focus on building capacity for epidemiologists, innovation, health ministry preparedness and government collaboration.  Much of this seems to have fallen on deaf ears and the work hasn’t been done.

Bill Gates’ TED Connects March 2020How we must respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  In this 50 minute conversation with Bill Gates a lot of ground is covered with regard to testing, therapeutics, vaccines and other logistics around managing the pandemic.

What I love is his pragmatic optimism, his belief in humanity and his unswerving belief in our creativity in terms of science and innovation.  But I do wonder, if we are not in that particular creative sphere, on that sort of scientific front line, where do our responsibilities lie?  As just average global citizens, what difference can we make, if any?

The next piece of the puzzle for me is why would a pandemic of this nature be an inevitability as Gates suggested in 2015?  Well, from my research it seems we have brought this on ourselves – the sheer numbers that make up the human population, the amount and the way we consume, the biodiversity loss and ecosystem service disruption we have caused, the accelerated climate change we have induced.

Here are some links worth reading/watching:

John Scanlon, African Parks Network has written an eloquent article on wildlife crime and the link between wet markets and disease spread.

A short video titled How wildlife trade is linked to coronavirusPlease note this is from early March so the statistics quoted are out of date.

This from the World Health Organisation.

And this from the Wildlife Conservation Society.  Now including a policy document.

If ever there was a time when Mother Nature herself was speaking up and giving credence to what scientists, researchers and conservationists have been saying for years, it is now.

But what can we do?  What hope is there?  Are there individual actions we can each take that will make a difference?

Yes, I believe so!  What follows are a few ideas that range from the deep and reflective to the more light-hearted, surviving lockdown ones.  All ways to consider the space between.

At times like these it is useful to pause and consider our values.  Values are our guiding forces.  They are quite individual to each of us, although will be influenced by our culture and upbringing.  My values are very much based on the environment and how I see my relationship with other living things and the planet in general.  Many people have values based on how they value their social relationships and still others may focus on themselves and their individual well-being.  Or a combination of these values.  None are right or wrong. But what I think is interesting is that no matter where your core values lie, we can no longer deny the need for change as the human species – behaviours and actions.  Setting a new norm that will impact on individual health and wellbeing, the good of humanity and future generations, as well as the planet we are so intimately connected to, is imperative.

If you want to read more about values and how values influence our decision-making, I highly recommend checking out the Barratt Academy for the Advancement of Human Values.  There is also a really useful values assessment tool on this website.

That was the deep stuff.  On to something more practical.  If we are mindful of how we are living on the planet and the impact we are having, we can take practical steps to mitigate and reduce negative impact.  For a super interesting read on a scale of solution focused ideas to address climate change, check out Drawdown.  I think there is something for everyone here, no matter your circumstance or where you find yourself in the world.  I found this information incredibly empowering!

Then, I really think we should be thinking about what we eat and how it is produced.  Regenerative agriculture makes the Drawdown list at number 11.  Here is a one farmer’s perspective – Angus McIntosh talks about the case for regenerative agriculture.  As I mentioned above, living mindfully is key and knowledge is power.  Food for thought 😉

I have another quote from Niki Harré’s Infinite Game that I think fits here:

But the idea kept popping into my head that life is based on radical cooperation. Cooperation fitted because the actions of each life form supported the growth of other forms; and it was radical because these actions were at the root of both individual survival and the functioning of the entire ecosystem.

Niki Harré

And what about surviving right now?

How about a coping calendar from Action for Happiness

Or travel virtually… my friend Carla from the Blue Sky Society Trust is currently taking us on an epic African Safari experience… get involved!

As for me…. Painting calms me down… here’s some new ones…

And that about wraps up a very long post.  I will be back in April hoping to post most days with photos and short stories from my travels over the years.  Join me for some virtual wanderings.

Take heart, dear ones.  All will be well.  Our collective courage, compassion and kindness in this space between will make it so.

Leaving you with a couple more quotes from the hugely inspiring Infinite Game which seem written for a time such as now….  Thank you, Niki Harré, for sharing your wisdom 💙

“This is what being an infinite player or a community that cares about our lives together means. Getting up each day, remembering what matters, and trying like hell to live that in the confusion of real life. It does not mean knowing what is right. Sometimes it might just mean rejecting that which is clearly wrong (as far as you can tell). And, I humbly suggest, this process may be aided by imagining life as an infinite game. Not because it is, exactly, but because imagining it so might help to focus us on what truly matters.”

“Love is at the heart of the infinite values. Radical cooperation is a way of translating this into the mind-set of an infinite player. It involves trying your best to let go of the belief, trained into us by our society’s emphasis on self-promotion and self-acquisition, that security lies in what you have cordoned off for you and your descendants. Insofar as security exists at all, it is better understood as lying in how well we cooperate with each other and the natural world in which we are embedded.”