Last week I wrote (and shared) the first draft of My Personal Manifesto. I call it my first draft because I know I will be looking at it and refining it as time goes on. For now, however, it’s a good start.
Looking forward to what my next steps might be and how I can remain accountable to the declarations I set out in my Manifesto, I feel an overwhelming sense of ‘awareness’. As I sit here, in my room, gazing at the trees through my window, it’s as if I’m connected to everything. I’m not receiving any particular insights in terms of what I can process with my mind but rather I’m feeling a profound sense of ‘being-ness’.
Sharing In Real-Time
Before I go on, I feel I should tell you that, today, I prayed before I began to write. I don’t always do this but, now that I have written my Manifesto, I notice that I’m instinctively changing the way I do things without having to make reminder lists for myself or even consult my Manifesto in order to stay on track. It’s almost as if my declarations were ‘activated’ within me, once I took the time and was serious enough about them to write and publish them.
I make a point of not choosing a topic for my posts in advance. Instead, I wait to see what comes to me when I actually sit down to write. I do this because I want to be sure that I’m sharing what God wants me to share, not what is the most obvious or interesting idea on my mind at the time.
That means that I’m sharing what I’m experiencing as it is happening, in real-time, and today, it’s very intense and hard to describe. There’s an expansiveness and yet it feels very fixed and concentrated. I feel ‘strengthened’ yet my heart is soft and open. When I close my eyes, tears of gratitude begin to fill them and I can feel my heart expand with joy and excitement.
God is present with me now, as I write this.
I can feel Him.
So powerful. So strong. So faithful.
I want to just sit here and bask in it… but let’s follow His lead and see where He takes us :)
Just to catch you up, during the COVID shutdown I’ve been inquiring with God in terms of how I should be using my time. Like many of us, my business is on an indefinite ‘pause’, so I felt it would be a good idea to check in with Him before I started investing my energy into re-building something that He may be shaking up for a very good reason.
When the answer finally came, all I heard was “Learn” and “Write”.
Although it’s not what I expected, I felt so relieved!
And then I wondered if it could really be that simple. I mean, how was I going to achieve anything just by learning and writing?
It’s true that I’m tired of having so much on my plate all the time but… just two things? How was that even going to work?
I’m someone who needs variety. I’m always full of ideas and constantly creating new things to “do” but the truth is, while I enjoy most of it (at least at the beginning), I’m often left feeling over-committed, fragmented, and drained. Decades have gone by and I’ve never quite managed to maintain any consistency with many of the personal things I said I valued. I do my best to clear things off my plate but, eventually, I find myself back on the treadmill of ‘life’. My days fill up with a new kind of ‘busy-ness’ and I am forced to neglect the very things which bring me peace.
Freedom From Busy-ness
Now that I’ve prioritized checking in with God before I make decisions and because I’m taking the time to actually hear Him, I’m confronted with how much more simple life can and should be.
In fact, that’s how God wants it.
One of my favourite authors and thinkers, Derek Sivers, says this:
“To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.”
I would not have admitted that before, but now I completely agree. So, instead of trying to stay busy for busy’s sake, I’ve basically shut everything else down and I’m ready to learn what He wants me to do with this new space I’m creating.
Protecting the Space
In the past few weeks, as I’ve been paying close attention to what’s going on around me, how it makes me feel, and what my responses are, I’m becoming increasingly alarmed at all the toxic elements that could force their way into this new space. In fact, this next part has been very hard to write because, the truth is, I’m actually not as concerned with my space as I am about yours.
What I mean is, when I’m thinking about what my life will look like going forward, I’m also thinking about everyone else’s lives as well. As human beings who share the earth, we are all inextricably linked. Living through this current crisis has made that more clear than ever before.
COVID19 has changed everything. It has changed how we spend our time, how we relate, what we prioritize, and what we value. I know we can agree that there are very real positives and negatives but, regardless of the negatives, I’m unspeakably grateful that it’s given me the opportunity to take time to grow closer to God, to learn more about myself, to repair what is broken and to imagine what I want my future… our future… to look like.
Which brings me to something that’s been weighing heavily on my heart for a few weeks now.
I believe we are being given the gift of a brand new ‘space’ and I’m concerned about how we are currently filling it (during COVID) and how we might choose to fill it, going forward.
For me, the creation of my Personal Manifesto has been incredibly helpful because it allowed me to identify the things I value most and make them a priority. That means that after dedicating this newfound space to God, my relationships, being of service, and maintaining my own health and fitness, there is very little time for anything else.
And that is a very good thing.
I can honestly say that I have never felt more content or at peace.
Whatever it takes, I am determined to protect it.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Let me try to explain this in terms of our bodies. I know several people right now who have noticed they are not feeling at optimum health and are choosing to change their diet in order to address certain issues. They may be cutting out caffeine, alcohol, bread, sugars, lectins, or what have you and they are finding that the results are remarkable. They are feeling healthier, energized, and even though they were initially worried about missing the foods they chose to avoid, they are discovering that they actually enjoy the new way of eating.
This same principle can be applied to any number of things that we do to our bodies. If you regularly consume toxins, you can be sure that your health will suffer.
But what about what our minds consume?
As a psychotherapist, many of the issues I deal with in counselling are things that have happened in the past. At some point in his or her life, a person could have experienced any number of events of varying degrees that might have wounded them. If these things are left unaddressed, they may interfere with the person’s ability to live their life with optimum mental health, in which case, therapeutic intervention may be required.
However, while we definitely should be addressing our issues from the past, it’s what is happening now, in our culture, that concerns me in the present. I’m talking about the mindless, numbing ‘content’ that we are bombarded with on a daily basis from all forms of media, even the so-called ‘fun’ ones.
Let me say here that this is not a new perspective for me. For many years I have been averse to mainstream news media, social media, mass marketing, the entertainment industry, and politics. I am skeptical of any information that is widely available to the masses and I have learned to not take anything for granted. Finding credible sources and fact-checking has proven to be a very crucial practice, especially now that evidence of “fake news”, deceit and “propaganda” by governments is fairly commonplace these days. Some of you may already know what I’m talking about. Some of you may be skeptical. Others may think I’m just crazy, and that’s fine. I get it.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you think of me. It just matters that you care enough to pay attention to how you fill your space.
So, at the risk of getting preachy, I just want to say this:
Be careful how you fill your space. PLEASE.
Protect it. Vigilantly.
Be discerning about what you choose to allow into it.
Stop absorbing mindless, numbing media that are only designed to distract you, titillate you, push your emotional buttons, or lead you further into relying on your coping strategies and addictions.
Don’t be lazy.
Fact-check what media is feeding you (even if it’s on your favorite TV show or spoken by your favorite celebrity). Talk to actual people. Find the truth.
If it’s hard, develop better discipline.
Be accountable for your choices. They affect all of us.
Think about the kind of society we live in… cuz it’s messed up.
Think about the kind of society you want to live in… be better.
When you disagree with someone, remember that caring for the person is more important than being right.
Be honest but be kind.
I’ll leave it there…
Until next week,
May you be blessed.