Posts tagged ‘challenge’

October 25, 2015

Sometimes you just gotta go through it

Are you facing a fear or uncertainty that’s stalled your progress in a particular direction? Remember this verse from an old children’s song:

Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it. Have to go through it!

Whether you’re encountering long grass and oozy mud on a make-believe “bear hunt,” or confronting obstacles (real or perceived) in day-to-day life, sometimes the only way forward is through!

June 22, 2015

The journey is the remedy

Ever faced a long, daunting project, the scale of which set your anxieties astir? Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did so when they embarked on a four-month motorcycle journey around the world, following a route that included some of the toughest riding conditions on the globe.

Here are a few tips from their book, Long Way Round, about facing down your inner demons and just getting on with it:

  • The secret to any long journey or project is to take it in blocks — little chunks that you can process and manage bit by bit. A week into their 29,000-plus-kilometre journey, McGregor writes: “Even now, I couldn’t conceive of the scale of our undertaking. For months [before the trip] I had been talking people through the map [of our route]. Now I was sitting on my bike riding it. . . . But I still couldn’t fathom the distance ahead. The secret, I felt, was to take the journey in little blocks. Morning til coffee break. Coffee til lunch. Lunch til mid-afternoon break. . . . By breaking it up into chunks, we’d make it manageable. But the moment my mind drifted to the bigger picture . . . , the journey became overwhelming and panic set in.”
  • As the journey progresses, it’s also important not to let setbacks and disappointments get you down. Obstacles will crop up, and when they do, they may appear overwhelming. But if you take the time to step back and examine your situation from a broader perspective — one that looks beyond the obstacle looming right in front of you — you may see that the bigger picture is more important than the immediate, in-your-face details. McGregor and Boorman faced abysmally difficult roads in Mongolia — so bad that McGregor wanted to pack up and get out. But as he talked about his dilemma with his team, he realized that turning tail would rob him of the opportunity to experience more of a country that was already affecting him on a deep emotional level. Fighting through the roads might be difficult and put the trip “behind schedule”, but did that really matter in the long run? “It’s hard here,” Boorman tells McGregor, “it’s really hard. But it’s also really beautiful and we just have to concentrate more on the beauty and less on the hardship. . . . We [need] to open our eyes to our surroundings. Any journey [is] difficult when the field of vision [is] just five feet ahead of you.”
May 7, 2015

A note about what’s most important

A great quote from Vickie M. Worsham:

Remember what is most important:

It’s not having everything go right;
it’s facing whatever goes wrong.
It’s not being without fear;
it’s having the determination to go on in spite of it.
It’s not where you stand,
but the direction you’re going in.

Remember to live this one day and not add tomorrow’s troubles to today’s load.
Remember that every day ends and brings a new tomorrow full of exciting new things.
Love what you do,
do the best you can,
and always remember how much you are loved.

January 13, 2015

Adversity is an ally that helps you grow

I just finished reading Robyn Davidson’s excellent book Tracks, a bitingly candid account of Davidson’s mostly solo camel trek across 1,700 miles of Australian desert.

Davidson’s inner landscape understandably shifts considerably during her arduous journey. At one point, she falls into a deep depression and arrives at an observation that I think holds value for how we handle moments of despondency in our own lives:

In the past, my bouts of gloom and despair had led, like widdershins [water-worn gulleys] to the same place. And it seemed that at that place was a signpost saying, “Here it is,” here is the thing you must push through, leap free of, before you can learn any more. It was as if the self brought me constantly to this place — took every opportunity to show it to me. It was as if there was a button there which I could push if I only had the courage. If I could only just remember. Ah, but we always forget. Or are too lazy. Or too frightened. Or too certain we have all the time in the world. And so back up the ravines to the comfortable places . . . where we don’t have to think too much. Where life is, after all, just “getting by” and where we survive, half asleep.

What I take from Davidson’s words is this: life’s low moments often point us directly to the issues, challenges or shifts that really matter — the ones that we must, at some point, overcome or address in order to grow as people. To ignore these “signposts” and hightail it back behind the safety barriers does us no good in the long run. We grow through discomfort, not ease, and we must tackle discomfort head on in order to realize our full potential as human beings.

In this way, adversity becomes our ally — a partner and collaborator in the exercise of stretching our lives and our selves to new heights. We’d never get to the point of having to choose “leap or retreat” (“grow or stagnate”) if not for adversity constantly forcing us down the road upon which that choice lies.

The next time you are confronted with a “signpost” in your life, what will you do? Will you muster the courage to stride past it into the unknown, knowing that the true value of your life ultimately lies in this direction? Or will you quail, turn tail and scramble back to safety, mumbling excuses all the way? The direction is clear, but the choice is yours to make.

July 2, 2014

Unfurl, unrushed

Thought for the month, source unknown:

We grow one petal at a time.

Through thick and thin, good and bad, joy and sorrow, we grow slowly, delicately, one petal at a time.

With each new petal we unfurl, we become more beautiful.

March 11, 2014

Lessons from a Russian doctor: A metaphor for life in general

In Boris Pasternak’s classic novel Doctor Zhivago, Yuri Zhivago says to Lara Antipova:

I don’t think I could love you so much if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret. I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.

I think this is a fitting metaphor for life in general: if you haven’t encountered and overcome challenges, setbacks or failures in your life; if you don’t have old scars that have healed with time, or wounds that are healing right now; if you haven’t faced difficult decisions and simply done your best to navigate those moments with as few bumps as possible, then I think you are missing out on the richness of experience and emotion that life has to offer. And in this experience and emotion is where the true beauty of life lies — or at least where you learn to see that beauty, in comparison to what has come before.

November 23, 2013

It’s the storms that make us stronger

I just finished reading Katherine Palmer Gordon’s new book We are Born with the Songs Inside Us, a collection of stories profiling 16 successful and inspiring First Nations people living in British Columbia. One of the persons featured, First Nations educator Anne Tenning from the Chemainus First Nation, now a resident of Penticton, shares my exact perspective on the cyclical nature of life and the benefits of surmounting hardship. Says Anne:

Yes, life has highs and lows. But sometimes the most valuable teachings come from the lows. You just have to hang on, hunker down and ride out the storm. No matter how tumultuous it may be, the storm inevitably passes and the sun comes out again, and you will be left stronger and wiser for that storm you just weathered.

My opinion — and my experience — exactly.

It can definitely be hard to recognize the potential for sun when you’re stuck in the middle of a long, dark night. But nothing lasts forever, not even the worst storm imaginable. Relief — and light — will come again, and you will be so much stronger for it.

July 1, 2013

July challange: Be a tourist in your own town!

Summer is upon us, and it’s time for summer vacations, sun-soaked weekends and outdoor adventures!

This July, I challenge you to get out and visit a place that you have never been to before — but there’s one catch: that place has to be located in the city or town in which you live! It could be a community park, museum, beach, gallery, festival, neighbourhood or outdoor event. As long as it’s somewhere new for both you and any companions you take along, it counts!

Most of us tend to spend our summer vacations either around the house or out of town. This month, I challenge you to break that habit and see what your own municipality has to offer. I’m betting there are lots of neat places worth exploring just around the corner . . . .

Happy travels!

(And Happy Canada Day!)

Maple leaf icon

May 1, 2013

May challenge: Purge some stuff!

It’s spring, so I think a little “spring cleaning” is in order!

This May, your challenge is to reduce some of the clutter in your life — even by the tiniest bit.  Choose a drawer, shelf, closet or room in your home, then go through it to remove all the things you no longer need or use.  Recycle, sell or give away what is no longer necessary for your day-to-day life.  Arrange what remains in a neat, orderly fashion, such that you feel soothed or energized every time you see it.

If you finish simplifying that one space and feel ready for more, move on to another area of your home and keep going!

The goal here is to remove any negative, tired, stale energy that is clogging your living space (and therefore your life) and make room for new, positive, invigorating energy and experiences to enter.

Excess “stuff” creates a stifling, stagnant environment.  Letting go of that stuff (difficult as it may be), is like a gust of clean air that fills your lungs, sweeps away your inner cobwebs, and blows open a door to new pursuits and possibilities.

I think you deserve to breathe that fresh, clean air.  This spring, make it happen!

April 10, 2013

Redefining beauty

This quote from Barbara Bloom brings new perspective to the trials and tribulations we all weather in our lives:

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.

You are beautiful, cracks and all.  Believe it.  ❤