Life can be unstable at times. Uncertain.
Yet the more we search for solid ground beneath our feet or a safe place to rest our weary, wondering little heading the more we discover the ever changing of nature of nature as life tips and dips and twists and twirls around us. It is a rollercoaster. The ultimate adventure.
Some of us thrive on the thrill of it, others try to cling on with eyes wide shut. The truth is we all go through times of challenge and times of ease.
I’m not going to lie, last year felt confronting.
Everything, all at once
Moving to a new city after many years of travelling and living off the grid was overwhelming. Starting a new business, with no steady income stream was stressful and scary. Embarking on a new relationship was exhilarating and exciting, but combining all the above, all at once was exhausting.
I quickly discovered that finding the strength to create something sustainable was so much harder than finding the courage to forever be cutting loose, letting go and moving on.
You see I’ve never been very good at pacing myself. Patience really tests my patience. I’d always enjoyed the extremity of all or nothing. It’s a ruthless approach to life that worked well for me until 2015.
When there was nothing
Giving nothing my all become habitual because nestled within the void of emptiness I found a potent brand of pure potential that paved the way to more possibility than I could have ever predicted, let alone planned.
And then, it paved the way to Holland. For the first time in 4 years I had a place to call home.
Ever since I packed up and walked away from London I’ve never returned to England for longer than 2 weeks. All that letting go and moving proved to be liberating. Living out of my backpack, normal. Disposing of anything that wasn’t working for me, in order to create space, easy. Something new always grew in its place.
But you can only obliterate so much before life starts to feel rather flimsy. For a while it seemed as though my sense of self was wading through a sea of all the versions of me that I could be, confused and unclear which one was real and sincere. My confidence suffered.
Time for change
What was once life-affirming left me feeling scattered, fragile and full of fear; I simply didn’t seem to have the necessary resources required to accompany the construction of anything beyond a house of cards.
The absence of the right tools for the job frustrated me. It was time to stop drifting and find some direction, so I went in search of inspiration that would help me radically get my sh*t together.
I found these…
The one that reminded me to own it like a boss
#girlboss // Sophia Amoruso
The story of Sophia Amoruso rise to success from small beginnings with Nasty Girl fashion is an entertaining, uplifting read that leaves you feeling feisty. Far from being a self-absorbed rant about her own personal triumph, Sophia’s story is littered with anecdotes that aim to bring out the #girlboss in you.
#girlboss is all about encouraging women to embrace whoever they happen to be and live authentically.
“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action. Race balls-out toward the extraordinary life that you’ve always dreamed of, or still haven’t had time to dream up. And prepare to have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.”
The one that showed me how to recondition negative habits
The Power of Habit // Charles Duhigg
Habits make up a vast amount of our unconscious behaviour. They automate daily decisions and thought processes ensuring our brain is productively directed towards other things. Habits are simply a matter of efficiency which, when used to our advantage, can have a profoundly powerful impact on our health, happiness and success.
This book revealed that if you nurture habit you can change your life. Author Charles Duhigg presents a unique formula that makes it easy to understand how to replace old habits with new ones and condition positives ones as second nature, which he says is the secret of success.
“This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.”
Read The Power of Habit
The one that urged me to do it today
The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness // Jeff Olson
This was a nice follow-up to The Power of Habit. The Slight Edge discusses how the little things that we do every day add up to make a big difference. Focus on today and tomorrow will take care of itself.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (attrib.)”
Read The Slight Edge
The one that gave the tools to keep my cool when the chips were down
The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism // Olivia Fox Cabane
The blurb claims; The Charisma Myth shows you how to become more influential, more persuasive, and more inspiring. So as a yoga teacher and as a writer I was curious.
This unsuspecting little read caught my attention because it suggests charisma is an external attitude that is a product of an internal mindset, rather than charm or smarminess. Our job is to simply identify the right tools to maintain our inner dynamism to ensure the outward project of our personality remains authentic.
Charismatic behavior, it says, can be broken down into three core elements: presence, power, and warmth, each of which has an appropriate application and purpose.
I liked this book most because it provided some powerful perspective on how to reinforce your character by evolving strategies to neutralise negative experiences and emotions so it is easy to stay centred when I felt out of control.
“One of the main reasons we’re so affected by our negative thoughts is that we think our mind has an accurate grasp on reality, and that its conclusions are generally valid. This, however, is a fallacy. Our mind’s view of reality can be, and often is, completely distorted.”
Read The Charisma Myth
The one that made me believe in magic
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear // Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert and I go way back. In fact, I attribute much of my initiation into solo travel and self-exploration to Eat, Pray, Love and I don’t mind admitting it. Gilbert words lit a torch in me that propelled me towards an altogether different life. Now it seems, things have come full circle.
Reading her once again when my challenge is settling down, not breaking up, this book reminded me to trust in the unforeseen, the yet to be manifest, the big magic that is the life blood of creative living.
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”
Read Big Magic
The Right to Write: An Invitation and initiation into the writing life // By Julia Cameron
Elegantly and poetically written this book is peppered with personal anecdotes, writing tools and interesting exercises to release the writer in you, making it a page-turning adventure if you’re open to the journey.
Writer or no writer this book is an essential read for anyone trying to find their voice and define their place in the world. This book really changed the way I saw myself as a writer and as a yoga teacher.
“Writing is a practice field. It teaches us how to do happy. It teaches us how to do brave. It teaches us how to do open, caring, loyal, resourceful and vulnerable. If you can do it on the page, if we can let our imagination connect the dots, we begin to get a picture ourselves as larger and more fully human than we may have yet managed.”
Read my full review on Storytel.la
If there is one thing that yoga has taught me it’s this; in the words of Pattabhi Jois, Practice and all is coming. Often we feel the need to find a single-minded solution, a quick fix, a golden ticket to a better life, a happier life, a healthier life, but there is none. We only have practice. Few of us are programmed to be perfect, to dance effortlessly with the winds of change. When we feel challenged, we simply need to muster our resolve, keep calm and take a few steps every day towards being who we want to be and creating what we want to create. After all, there is pleasure to be found in the process; when we’re on our way but not quite there.
Nestled between bound words in these books I found a guiding light that helped me to illuminate the characteristics, qualities, and dreams needed to author the next chapter of my own life.