A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES…

Bali Road

After more than a couple of glasses of wine on a typical Saturday night at my apartment, an old friend and I went in to what had come to be familiar discussion about all of the issues in the world that we are worried about, things “we should do something about.”  On this night we were in a particularly philosophical and contemplative mood, as can sometimes happen after a few too many vinos and a 60 hour week sucking on the corporate teat where there is little room to find intrinsic fulfillment or to express any real creativity outside of the scope of my immediate role.  (For the record, I am Sales Director for an IT company, so the scope of my ability to really think and challenge the status quo, is, well, non-existent.  Numbers, numbers, numbers.)  We jumped around from a (and I summarise): Turn this off, I am sick of being controlled by the media (and hence the government) in how to think about the crisis in Syria and immigration, to a: isn’t it crazy they they are all piling on to these relatively tiny dinghies to make such a treacherous crossing, the bigger issue needs to be fixed.  Which then led on to a: did you see the article on Facebook about how micro-beads in our toothpaste and face scrub are polluting our seas, finally landing on today’s hot topic: animal cruelty.  With increasing volume she ranted, why are we allowing innocent animals to be tested for cosmetics, OK cancer curing drugs or meningitis, but for the latest shade of Coral Me Up ultra matt lippie? Really?  And by the way, have I told you that I am thinking about cutting down red meat consumption (“did you know it takes 16 times more energy to produce red meat than grain?”).    

Friend:   “It just so upsets me, I saw a post on Facebook, and the images of these poor creatures were just disgusting.”

Me:          “Sounds dreadful, I can barely look at that sort of thing.”

Friend:    “I just hate animal cruelty, it’s a really big thing to me as you know.  As in really big, always has been.  I just think it’s heart breaking, these powerless creatures….”

Me:          “Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly.  I feel bad, it’s not something that’s ever really fully entered my consciousness. Which Cruelty Free products do you use, any you can recommend?”

Friend:    “She shifted from foot to foot.  Well, no, but, you know, I have written a sternly worded letter to the HQ of XX brand, and I occasionally try to buy products which seem the most natural, apart from my old favourites, you know how it is.”

Me:          “But you are not 100% cruelty free?”

Friend:    “Err no, not really.  But I will be.”

Me:          “Mate, WTF, I don’t understand, if you have such a core belief, which I really believe you do, and it’s a real issue for you, why do you continue to do nothing, it’s confusing?  Why are you not voting with your feet?”

Couch activists.  To call us procrastinators would assume either one of us has any intention to do anything about it.  Where actually it was just easier to sit at home and talk to make ourselves feel more empowered.  To smoke our cigarettes, drink our Chillean wine, eat our chicken wings (not organic, they were 3x the price), with the lights all on, the heating on with the windows open, oops, there is another spillage, pass me a wad of tissues please, do you recycle?  

And that was my light-bulb moment.  As simple as a conversation over a glass (or two) of wine on a Saturday night.  The camera zoomed in close.  I wasn’t judging her, and was definitely not putting myself on some martyr-like pedestal – it just made me realise how ridiculous I have been.  Gormlessly making the same bad decisions time and time again, about my own self care, about the care of my immediate and global environment, about the products I choose to consume and surround myself with, about my relationships – about everything that I hold dear.  My core values were just things I talked about over wine, I wasn’t doing anything about them.  I remember loathing the inconsistent messages coming from an otherwise intelligent person, my friend.  Hated.  But on reflection, what I was actually uncomfortable with was that it was a reflection of me and my own modus operandi.  My own lack of action or even intention were damning indictments that I had become someone, not that I didn’t like, but that I myself, the core me, was removed from.

And so I realised, there comes in a time in all of our lives where procrastination, contemplation, discussion, planning, and list writing is no longer enough.  Time for action.

Do we want to be known for our thoughts, for our words and endless meandering streams of consciousness, or do we want to be known for our ability to push through the apathy and yes, laziness, to create something that will not only fulfill us, but to inspire others.

In this day and age, it is all too easy to be a couch warrior, to troll social media with such powerful and well thought out words, fighting evil and defending all that is good.  But without action, surely this is almost as bad as not having had the thoughts to begin with?  We can forgive the ignorant, but can we forgive ourselves for not doing anything when we know better?  With the knowledge and understanding, comes the responsibility of action.  Ideas without action are day dreams.  And it’s selfish – if you subscribe to the notion that we are all interconnected, which I do, then holding on to that knowledge and passion and in some cases, the resources, without sharing and passing it/them on, is to state indirectly that it is not worth your time to improve things, that it’s not your problem even.

So I decided to do something.  And here you find me.

Copper Lotus is not specifically about any of the issues above, but equally it’s about all of them.  Please be patient, I don’t know exactly what I am going to do here at Copper Lotus, or how I am going to do it, but I know I want to do something:  I want to help positively change the world around me and us, and I figured the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  I don’t claim to know what our final destination is, but rather than talk about what I might do, I figured I would just put one foot in front of the other, and trust the journey.

 

 

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Life transformation – figuring out the why, the what and the how

punjab-clouds-with-sunrays

So, where to begin?  In the spirit of The Journey of a Thousand Miles, I am ready to take that first metaphorical and physical step towards a happier and more fulfilled life, and how to move towards my full potential.  Why do I want to change, what am I working towards, and how am I going to do it?  And where do I start?  How do I decide what it is specifically that I need to focus on?  I thought I would share with you my thought processes on how I have gone about how to get on my thousand mile journey….

“It’s in your moment of decision that your destiny is shaped,” (Tony Robbins) 

What is my why?

Tony Robbins talks about figuring out the why not the how when looking at personal development and positive improvement.  And as I have decided to surrender to the advice I have been given, I knew it was important for me to figure out what is underlying my general lack of contentment, and what it is I actually want.  I have been feeling like I am not 100% happy, for lots of reasons, but none in particular.  I had become fixated on an ex who had moved on, not feeling good about myself and the way I look, feeling a bit antsy about my career, and generally melancholic and frankly a bit bored.  I truly believe we all have an exciting and unique adventure (or many!) in our lives, and I want to uncover mine.  I feel I have wasted a lot of time which you will find out about in due course, and I want to “catch up” with my own life, and make up for lost time.  I know I want to live a much bigger life than I am now, and I long to be living my purpose.

What is it I want?

Starting at the beginning, it has been important to try and find myself again.  To figure out who I am, and what I like and want, and come back to myself.  And that in itself has been a long journey which I describe later.  They key points were that once we have realised who we are, and started to live in an authentic way true to our core beliefs, and stop the over-thinking and the monkey mind, our path actually starts to present itself to us.

However, I also wanted a more practical plan choosing my priorities to support the more spiritual journey.  So I then started to think about goal-setting; setting realistic but challenging goals to work towards.  I am not one of those people who has carried a burning ambition to be an astronaut or to live on a kibbutz, or even to get married from childhood, so it wasn’t even that I knew what I wanted and just needed to figure out how to get there.  I was in a somewhat strange situation where I was not really sure what specifically what I wanted or where to start – I just had a pervading sense that I was wasting time, and wasting this amazing life, and I want to get back to a life full of adventure, love, laughter, abundance, fulfilled potential and all round satisfaction.

Rather than just wander through trying to cobble together my own random pathway I decided to try and apply some kind of methodology, in the way at work I would analyse, set goals, build a plan, execute while continuously analysing outcomes.  It’s funny how we can be so process driven and robust at work, but in the much more important realm of our personal lives, we just stumble around in the dark.  It is also important that I decided to take any help available to me – there is certainly enough “self-help” material floating around on the ether.

So, what do I need?  Or more specifically, what does a human being need to feel fulfilled and happy?  And so I re-vistied Maslow’s hierachy of needs, and figured out where in that model I currently sit, and I was surprised that I was lower down the stack than I would have thought:

maslows-hierachy-of-needs

At around the same time that I had become aware that I wanted change and to grow in to my potential, whatever that might be, I noticed on Facebook that an ex-colleague of mine seemed to be posting lots of positive and inspirational quotes.  I don’t really remember thinking too much about it, but I just found myself messaging him one day:

Hi Dennis, are you a life coach by any chance?
Hey, yes I am, how can I help?

And so I have been seeing him (well, Skyping, actually, ever week / fortnight ever since).  It’s funny how when you are ready for something it just finds its way to you.

In our first session, he asked me to draw a circle on a bit of paper and then to dissect it into 10 sections.  It represented all key parts of my, or anyone’s life, that we need to focus on in order to feel fulfilled.  He asked me to colour it in based on a scale of 0 – 10 – zero being completely unsatisfied in that area, and 10 being over the moon, fully happy in that area.  It looked like a free hand version of this – I haven’t coloured it in with my own scoring as I thought you might be able to print and use it:

wheel-of-life

The bottom line is, I scored myself high within Finances and Career, but pretty low everywhere else.  I realised at this point I am placing far too much importance on my financial security, and the job which supports my finances.  A hangover from a time where I had lost all of my security, a story I will tell you another time, there was a realisation that I am still operating from a place of fear of loss – fear of losing everything and fear of compromising my “Safety and Security needs” (as per Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs), where in reality, those needs are met for me these days.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not a millionaire, nowhere near, but I have a nice place to live, a nice car, go on nice holidays and am able to save, don’t have much debt.  If I imagined that wheel as a literal wheel, like a wheel on a cycle, my journey would be pretty bumpy, with scores as high as 8, and then as low as 2, I imagined it would be like riding on bricks – a lot of effort, and not a particularly pleasant journey.  Dennis and concluded I have got a lot of work to do!  Or put more positively, I have a lot of opportunity for improvement of the quality of my life and my output.

Putting those two pieces of information together, and having mapped out the areas I feel that I want to work on, it was an easy decision on where to start: at the foundation, that is, with my own personal health and well-being.  I truly believe this underpins so many elements of our happiness, and while I profoundly believe in the benefits of yoga, meditation, ayurveda and living an all round balanced and healthy life, I have to be honest with you all and tell you I struggle actually putting them in to practice.  I am very overweight; I drink way too much (a whole different story, which I will tell you one day); I smoke like a chimney; I swing wildly between eating well and binging on rubbish; I don’t sleep for long enough.  I should caveat that and say my posts about wellness and health are not hypocritical, I truly believe in living well, and in balance and in harmony with nature, for me they are nods to my past where I have embraced healthy living, and for where I am now they are aspirational.  I was not always unfit: I used to be the picture of health so I am lucky enough to know exactly how it feels to feel strong and fit and radiant  – and I am determined to get back there so that I can make the most of this amazing life.  I now know that without our physical and mental health, life is much harder.  Before, or even while I can be of service to anyone else, I feel I must serve myself, and for me personally, that starts with my body and health.  In the way on a flight we are told to attach our own gas-masks before helping (even) infants, I am going to sort myself out, and live proudly by what I believe in, aligning with my core beliefs (again, read more in finding your authentic self which is coming soon).  I hope you will follow and support me on my journey.

Read “What is my how” in my next post…

 

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