Saturday, April 27, 2019

Are you interested or committed? Why it matters...

When you commit wholeheartedly, nearly everything is possible.  
The multitude of lilac suckers
in my garden suggest they're
fully committed to thriving. 

Don't believe me? When you successfully achieve a goal you set for yourself, or realize a dream you have, how did you accomplish it? Were you committed to the result you wanted, or merely interested?  

There's a clear distinction between the two. 

Knowing the difference matters. 

Whatever you want to do in life, choose it, claim it, and then commit to it. If you're only interested, the odds of getting it aren't in your favor. If there's something you really want to experience, accomplish, or achieve, you must commit. 

Commitment = accomplishment...

Commitment means you will accomplish the goal you've set or the dream you desire because you'll do whatever it takes to make it happen, no matter how slow or how many obstacles show up to derail you. It's an investment of time, resources, energy... you're all in. 

For example, I'm interested in:
  • Being more fit and exercising regularly so I have more energy 
  • Improving my overall health by not eating sugary things
  • Getting bad habits in check by re-doing a Whole30 reset
  • Having greater resources in the bank by spending less and saving more
Am I doing what I must to achieve these? Partly. Recognizing as I write this, I've set goals and intentions, but clearly I'm not fully committed to doing all it takes to achieve them. There are too many shiny objects, too many squirrels, too many opportunities to eat badly and do things that don't align with what I say I want. I see progress, but based on my actions and choices, I won't get the result I want, especially in my desired time frame.

It's not willpower... 

Willpower doesn't apply. Willpower is one of those words that sends me running in the other direction, like diet, where suddenly I'm famished and want to eat anything I can, especially the things I usually say no to. 

Determination and discipline, along with clarity about what you really want, are what it takes to get what you want. If you don't think you're disciplined, think about a time you've really wanted something. What did you do? What actions did you take?  
Cherry blossoms add beauty,
and return year after year,
but they don't have the
tenacity of lilacs.

Knowing whether you're committed or interested will tell you what's really important to you. 

How to tell the difference? Notice how motivated you are to do the thing in front of you that leads toward the result you want. Sometimes we look too far ahead (it's not the mountains ahead, but the rocks in your shoe...), and it all feels too hard. You don't feel capable, or you don't have the resources you need. Maybe it suddenly feels impossible, and the voice in your head says you can't. Some of us are afraid of failing, some, of succeeding, because even success has risks. If you're commitment-phobic, that doesn't serve you. You can always change your mind if you come across new information, or replace the goal or dream with something better. 

Energy conspires in your favor... 

I've also come to believe this: Once one is committed, providence moves on your behalf.

Rightly or wrongly attributed to philosophical author Goethe, once you commit to somethingfully commitI'm certain you'll find evidence for this. 

Hindsight being 20/20, I have proved this to myself again and again, often when it comes to career choices. And whether you believe in providence, a higher power, ether, energy, meta- or quantum physics... something out there makes it true. 

You don't have to believe me. Test it. Fully commit, know it, feel it, visualize the result you want, and take the step you see in front of you. What's yours to do? If you don't know, trust it'll reveal itself and do what shows up. It may take some time, and there may be two steps forward and one step back, but I'm certain that when you look back at some point in the future, you'll see how things have opened up to help you get where you want to go.  

I think I first heard this in Landmark Education's The Forum a lifetime ago, when I and all my workmates did this crazy thing together in Vancouver. Three days in a room filled with rules seemed over the top, but having spent that time together and learned the things we learned, we accomplished more than we expected during a year-long project bringing music and tourism to British Columbia. It was intense, but it was fun, and this, and a number of other learnings from that time, stuck with me. 

Test it!

What do you want to achieve today? This week? This year? In your lifetime? Are you interested or are you committed? Try it todaywhat will you commit to just for today? Like they say in 12-step programs, just for today is a great place to start. Just for today, commit to one thing to test the result. Be sure you're committed, though, and not just interested. 

Here's one to try if you're stuck. Today, commit to loving yourself fully. What would that look like? Do you feed your body the fuel it needs to function or do you feed your emotions for comfort? What's the result? Do you get outside and get some air and walk for exercise? Are your actions aligned with your goals and desires? Do you do the things you say are important to you? At the end of the day, what do you want to be able to say you did, felt, experienced? Claim it, commit to it, and see what happens.  

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find out more here.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

10 years: On anniversaries, getting started, starting over, and now

Our garden path, today
This month marks 10 years since I first wrote in this spacefull of hope, excitement, and commitment to this new journey of writingand gardening. 

The beginning

Growing Things started as a gardening blog, when we launched a community garden in our yard through Urban Garden Share, an online matching service for gardeners and homeowners (you can read more about that in the 'about' sidebar). But it quickly became personal when, a few months later, my partner and I separated after 13 years together. 

That first year I wrote with fervid commitmentat first it was fun as we transformed the garden space, and then it became a place to share my challenges, my pain, to express, and be witnessed. The name "growing things" took on new meaning, and the garden became a metaphor. 

After that, even though the garden thrived, the blog languished as work and life took over. Just over a year after separating, he and I got back together, and began putting the pieces of "us" together in a new, different, and ultimately better way. 

Starting over

With help from an extraordinary therapist, he and I learned to relate to each other differently, to talk with each other and hear each other while noticing and monitoring our own filters. We learned to call each other on our stuff, gently but clearly, and even laugh about it, too. We both learned we got in our own way, and it was the "I" in the relationship who could fix it, not the we. So we focused on ourselves, and became capable of moving forward independently and togetherinterdependent, as we learned to call it. 

In the years following that first year, I worked hard to find my voice, both here and in real life. To speak up, not withhold or wither, to know my worth, know my value. To understand that life just is, and continue to nurture new ways of thinking and being. I still struggle on occasion with thesewith my own self-confidence and the limiting beliefs that linger in the background, threatening to unearth themselves and derail me. 

But overall, I wouldn't trade any of these experiences. I've learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable, to be more brave, and that without challenges and pain, my life would be very different, and far less satisfying. 


Together and separately, we have dreams, goals, and ideas, respect how each other interacts with the world, and know we both act with our best interests in mindno longer in our own way, or that of each other. 
Early years

Since this online journal came to be, he's traveled the world by ship, I've had a couple different jobs, and thanks to life's constant insistence that we grow and not get complacent, we've had many opportunities to further our inward journeys. 

To say it's occasionally been a slog, well, yes. Yes it has. Nothing seems to move at the pace we'd prefer. We've had countless bumps, hills, roadblocks, potholes, and the occasional crater slow us down. His recent work injury is the latest crater, with a 9 - 18 month healing window and an inability to do much with his right arm due to intense shoulder pain. A few years ago, I was laid off when my employer re-organized and I nosedived into a confidence crisis. A few years earlier, he took a circuitous route to a career change that required more learning and growing. And within those 10 years, our three precious furkids all took turns going over the rainbow bridge and for the first time, we are without cats. 

"In the shade of the old apple tree,
there's a place just for you and for me... "

And here we are, 10 years later. I'm still writing. We're stronger together. The garden continued until two years ago, when we ended the relationship with the current garden partners and made plans to sell the property. That's one of those slow partstwo years later, the city is still backlogged and we haven't moved forward. While my heart will ache when we finally say goodbyeI have often said I'd miss the Gravenstein more than I'd miss the house I live in, the tree and the property require more time, money, and resources than I can give them. It's more complicated than I'll go into here, but the house and garden are on separate lots, and given circumstances, keeping the house makes more sense than keeping the garden. 

While I'd love to kick things into higher gearhis healing, his work goals, the property sale, my developing career and personal goals, travel plansthere's not much I'd change. I know that through pain, we grow, and without it, we wouldn't have joy. 

We have a lot of joy in our lives, and much to be grateful forgood friends both near and far, a warm and (mostly) comfortable home, nourishing food, overall health, our careers (and my job), cars that get us where we're going, and plenty of resources and tools when we need them. We've even hung onto some of those earliest gardeners who became our friends, and I'm so grateful they continue on this journey with us. 
Lush life: first year with Urban Garden Share.  Shiv, 
our neighbor, often sang mantras to the plants, saying i
helped them grow. Together, we created something amazing.  

This year I recommitted to writing and for the most part, I've penned my thoughts about once a week. Some posts take longer than others, or morph in an unexpected direction, so which day they publish isn't guaranteed. But I have a lot more to say and share, hopefully with insights that help those who join me here. Stay tuned. 

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find out more here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The road to more might just be less

How often have you heard: It's not about the destination but instead about the journey? 

I think most of us now recognize what's importantour time, relationships, and experience on this earthly plane. It's less about stuffhow much you have or what you have, for the most part. 

That doesn't mean we don't like stuff. But maybe an intangible we acquired along the way is more discernment, or at least the recognition that material things don't innately equal happiness. Among those born in the late 1900s or early 2000s, living with less may even be trendywhether by choice or by necessity depends on your research.  

We live differently than previous generations

Lifestyles change over time. That said, I'm finding some irony here. 

The main floor of my house is just over 900 square feet, and I have a partial basement that's unfinished, used mostly for laundry and storing tools and seasonal stuff, like lawn chairs. It's less about the size, but I complain regularly about the function. I have pea-sized closets, minimal kitchen cupboards, and no designated household cabinetsperfectly adequate for previous generations. But my lifestyle is different, and even as I move toward less, I have greater storage needs. More closet space is my idea of heaven.  

C'est la vie... 

So why is less more important now? Time. That's a key reason. But let's expand the definition of less

Our toxic load

For me, having fewer clothing items means less energy spent deciding what to wear, and more space for things that matter, like an inflatable bed for guests, and the right-size linens. It means fewer items to collect dust, which I'm allergic to. 

However, it also means fewer toxins in my cosmetics, fewer pesticides and chemicals in my food, less environmentally unfriendly and unhealthy plastic in my kitchen and bathroom, and more space for people and projects, and ultimately and ideally, fewer contributions to the landfill, and fewer of my plastic bags washing up on a beach or ingested by the fish I eat. All of this leads to better health, a safer environment, and greater freedom. 


You bet. Freedom to choose how I want to spend my time and money. Freedom to create more experiences. Freedom to let go of attachments.  

When you're ready...

I've been on the road to living with fewer toxins, chemicals, and plastics for years, but I couldn't let go of my attachments to stuff, particularly clothes. The more I read about plastic in fleece, chemicals in our clothing, and the waste involved in processing, the more I wanted to stop propping up my self-worth with something new to wear. But it was hard. It was a habit. And it made me feel betterwhat every product marketer aims for.  

At the beginning of 2018, I read Cait Flander's The Year of Less, followed immediately by Courtney Carver's Be More With Less (I wrote about these, and a full reset, here). These books were instrumental in my shift to both living with and attaching sentiment to fewer things, and along with a few other tools, replacing the habit and ego-boost with healthier options.  

You know what to do...

You know you should exercise, right? But do you? You know you should drink less soda. But do you? Are you like me and know you have some weight to lose, but are you willing to do what it takes? If your answer is no, you know what I mean. 

We do things when we're ready. Sometimes we get a big fat wake-up call, a proverbial two-by-four across the side of the head. Sometimes, we just get it, and we start. No conscious rationale.  

More of what you really want

Ultimately, don't we all want more time, optimal wellness, satisfying relationships? I do. That's where the road to less leads—to more. 

Hats from my collection that
I gave away. One trick to letting go of
sentimental things: take pictures.
Then say thank you and goodbye. 
Don't get me wrong; I still like stuff. I have a penchant for vintage, and I'm still pretty sentimental. I'll be hard-pressed to off-load what's left of my vintage hat collection, or my books. But having less stuff makes life easier, healthier, and better. 

This path has also caused me to look at my attachmentsto beliefs, to people, to ideas, and assessing what fits and what doesn't. The result? Less stress, more fulfillment, greater appreciation, (getting closer to) optimal wellness, and even a stronger sense of self. 

Decide what matters

As I assess my winter wardrobewhat to put away until next year, what to set aside for the swap, or what to send to the thrift store, I'm attempting my own version of Marie Kondo, having never actually read her book nor watched her on Netflix. What adds value? What takes or gives energy? What triggers frustration or adds satisfaction? These are all good questions to ask, and can lead you down a road to more. 

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find out more here.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ukelele happiness

While searching online for background music to accompany an affirmation I'm recording, the Somewhere over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World medley by Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole popped up in the YouTube sidebar. 

I couldn't help but click and listen; it never fails to make me smile.

Recorded more than 25 years ago, this version of the song that made Judy Garland famous in the Wizard of Oz has brought joy to millions of listeners. Many stumbled across this long after Iz ventured over the rainbow in 1997 at just 38. While he accomplished so much more in his short life, he's most famous outside of his native Hawaii for this recording, which continued to grow in popularity long after his death. Now, that's a legacy!

It's never too late to consider your legacy 

While we can't all record a song that touches hearts across time, cultures, and geography, we all leave a legacy, intentional or not.

Contemplating that legacy is a good tool to take stock of where you are and where you're headed because it's never too late to shift gears. If you discover the direction you're headed in doesn't inspire you or in some way feel like you're on the right track, this is a great time to course-correct.

Think about what you want your life to look like, and notice if your work, relationships, and activities are aligned with what you want to ultimately experience, be known for, or leave behind. I know I have some work to do here, but it's not a one-time opportunity. If you miss the mark on one day, you can start over the next.

A baby step is still a step

What's important is to keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other. Baby steps, while they may feel frustrating, will still get you there, albeit much more slowly.

And if you need a quick lift, listen to this heartwarming classic and smile. Remember that we're all headed over the rainbow at some point, and it's what we do between now and then that counts.

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find out more here.