An Illustrated Mind: The Reality of Time and Perception

An-Illustrated-Mind-Reality-Time-Perception

Time isn’t real, but emotions are. When we equate time to value, meaning and worth, we lose touch with what is actually true, which is how we feel. Time is a social construct, it’s man-made – but emotions aren’t. So when we invest more in time, meaning how long something lasts, how old we are, how short-lived an experience is, and try to force our emotions to be consistent with that, we are not investing in reality. We are investing in constructs. When we invest more in time, we invest less in our emotions and, therefore, we are investing less in our own truth.

I’ve had the flu for the past 2 weeks which is awful for any one of us to go through, but I would argue, even more awful for someone who likes to keep herself busy at all times. This period in the span of my life is actually fairly short, but whenever we are going through anything painful or draining, whether it be an experience, a sickness, or a mood, it seems to stretch time. We feel it’s longer even though the hours of the day remain the same.

After working on my health for so long and seeing so much progress for the past two years, I felt like a failure getting the flu. That is until I changed my mindset into looking at it as a challenge. This was a calling for me. A moment given to me so that I would be forced into paying more attention to my body instead of my ever-wandering mind. When this clicked, I realized I needed to stop everything. I did continue going to work but as soon as I came home, I would fill up on fluids: tea and lots of water. I would drink soup and up my vitamin C intake (a.k.a: more oranges for me!). I would sleep so early it didn’t make sense. Sometimes 5:30 or 6:00pm. I took a hot bubble bath each night and wouldn’t put any strain on myself. I wouldn’t stay near the screen for too long, I wouldn’t even read because it gave me a migraine. When I say I did everything I possibly could to take care of my body, I’m not kidding.

I’m not going to lie, it was a rough time for my mind. It wanted so badly to take back control so many times. It wanted me to get back into research. It wanted to read all the books. It wanted to write. It wanted to go to kickboxing. It wanted to go see my friends and go to social events that were happening in my area. It wanted so much but my body just needed rest and a whole lot of it!

What this period gave me was forced attention that was due for quite some time. It gave me time to reflect, to journal, to meditate, to sit with myself, and to process all the motions of last month that I haven’t given myself the time or space to do. So as awful as this period was and as horrible as I felt, is it strange to say that at the same time, it was the best thing for me? That I might even be grateful for getting sick?

Coming into yesterday and even today, I felt this surge. Like I’ve been struck by a lightning bolt of joy that I thought had forgotten about me. It’s been months since I’ve felt like this, but maybe I needed this time to get here.

Perception is a funny thing that way. How we perceive becomes how we understand our reality. It was only when I shifted from a negative thought pattern about getting sick to viewing it as an opportunity that everything seemed to come together. I’m starting to become more and more intentional about everything that I do and everything I put out. At the same time, I want to keep myself aware of everything that is given to me, whether it’s something not ideal like the flu, or something great. The thing is, nothing is objectively good or bad. It’s us that make that decision, and often instinctively.

Gratitude shouldn’t just be a reaction to getting what you want, but it’s more about noticing the little things and stubbornly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations. The flu isn’t pleasant, but it’s not the most unpleasant situation I could have been facing. It’s just some rubble on the road.

I guess with this post I wanted to place importance on paying attention to yourself. We get caught up in all the doing of things that we tend to forget that everything has its own lesson, it’s own message. The universe, God, life, or whatever you choose to call it, is always responding to you just like how you are always in conversation with it.

And, eventually everything connects.

big changes, guilty feelings

big-changes-guilty-feelings

The rain here is different – warmer, kinder. Difficult to explain. I guess like most things, you’d have to feel it to understand.

I bought some candles today to warm up my space and make it feel cozier; more like home, I suppose. It’s working.

It’s officially been a little over three weeks since I’ve been in Vancouver and it feels like it has been months. People keep telling me that that’s a good thing and I think I believe them. I feel a sense of belonging here that I’ve never felt before. And everything that is new still has this sense of familiarity to it that I can’t really explain.

It feels like everyone’s been injected with some calmness drug and I’m the odd one who doesn’t know how to relax. Maybe it’ll rub off on me eventually. Here’s hoping!

One of my best and oldest friends and I have been sending letters to one another. Handwritten letters that we post at the post office. Very old school and very heart felt. I like that I have someone I can do this with. Someone who I can write to about anything and everything, kind of like what I do over here. But I always get a response back with updates and stories. Letter-writing is so personal that way. There’s this connection you get out of putting pen to paper that just isn’t the same thing as a phone call or text message. You feel more open speaking about your truth.

What I’ve been realizing more and more is that when you make a big change in your life, there’s this very high expectation that you have and also get from others, that you will be happy all the time. That you will be excited all the time. It’s true that I’ve moved into a completely new place that I am really excited for. It’s breathtaking. It’s soothing. It’s both familiar and new. It’s the kind of place I’ve always wanted to be in because some part of me must have known that this is where I’d feel home. And I do.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any other emotion. That it will only be excitement and giddiness. I’m so beyond grateful for being here, but I am still the same person within this new environment, which means that I still have mental health struggles, anxiety, depression that comes and goes in waves now. It means I’ll still feel nostalgic. I’ll still feel sad and angry and lonely. But I’ll feel happy, too. Just because you’re experiencing something great, doesn’t mean that you have to feel great all the time.

I realized that when talking to friends or family, I thought I had to pretend. Even though I was excited, I was going through such a wide range of emotions all at once and it felt pretty overwhelming. But I felt like I couldn’t share that with anyone because how ungrateful would I seem? I should feel happy, I kept telling myself. Why am I crying? Why am I nostalgic? Why am I feeling anything else?

And I felt guilty for it all. For the moments I felt overwhelmed. For the times I cried. For the times I chose to stay in and read instead of going and exploring.

Thanks to the great practice of meditation and reflecting a lot, I realized that right now, my job is to feel at home here. I’ve only been here a short time but since it felt like longer, I thought I should have done more by now. So I had to hit the pause button a little, take a step back and evaluate what would make me feel sane right now. And I knew (because we always know deep down what it is that we need). And it was that I needed to really feel at home.

So I went out and bought a cozy cushion and throw blanket for my couch so I can make it a comfortable little reading nook for myself. I bought candles that smell like baked goods (because those are my favorite) and placed them around my apartment. I set a bubble bath for myself and lit a candle so that I could read for a little while. And that is exactly what I needed.

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I am an avid hiker. I love to explore more than anything, but right now, what I need is to have some days where I stay in and read, take a bubble bath, do some yoga, and write. I need to feel at home and ever since I listened to that voice of knowing, I’ve been feeling calm and good instead of frantic and anxious.

When it’s time to explore more, I’ll do that, too. But there is no rush. I’m here for a while and I needed to give myself some room to feel that.

Sometimes, we just need to listen to the voice that tells us what we already know, but rarely act on. It knows a lot more than the loud voice, I promise.

 

The Calm Before the Storm: When Worry Feels Like Productivity

Calm-Before-the-Storm-When-Worry-Feels-Like-Productivity

These past few days have been a bit hazy for me. I’m still recovering from a bit of jet lag – the kind where your problem isn’t necessarily that you’re tired all the time, but quite the opposite. Instead, I’ve been living in an awakened state, one where I wish I were tired.

Most of the time, I’m wishing that life had a pause button. I’m always fighting to catch some air, hoping to take a break; a moment to refresh myself. But lately, the days have stretched out so long that I’m continuously battling a clock that just won’t tick.

I got approved for my first real adult apartment in downtown Vancouver a day before my trip came to an end and now I’m waiting on the final offer for my job status that will come in by the end of this week. The apartment turned out to be below the budget I had in mind, comes with an extraordinarily kind Resident Manager; it’s a good space, a 10-minute walk to where I’ll work, and completely mine to live in.

So what exactly is my problem then?

Well, I guess part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m finding myself in anticipation for a failure of some kind. Maybe I won’t get the position I want. Maybe I’ll be miserable there. Maybe I’ll find myself in a deep state of depression again. Maybe if I do get that higher position at work, I won’t be able to handle it. Maybe if I am, I’ll lose focus of my true passion that has always been writing. Maybe this, maybe that. But nothing for certain.

I’ve discussed it before, but Brene Brown refers to this little human quirk as foreboding joy. I’ve become pretty aware of how quickly my thought process diverts into a dress rehearsal for future tragedy, so I’m practicing my gratitude much more rigorously now – mainly because I fell through on it a bit when I fled towards my future home.

It’s funny how quickly you can see a change: whether it be a rise or fall when you abruptly put a pause on a practice. It took me 10 days of not writing down my daily gratitude list to notice how big of a difference it has made in my outlook on life.

I have an inkling of what is to come, which is an offer for a job (which is definite), even if it’s not the position I necessarily want, and becoming overly excited and then upset all over again because it’ll finally hit me that I’ll be leaving this place and everything and everyone that it came with. I realized that I’m constantly living in what is to come instead of what is already here, and what won’t be for much longer. I don’t want to spend the remainder of my stay in this town to be in anticipation. I want to embrace what I have and what I’ll soon miss.

My foundation was here, the family I created is here, the beginning of my life and my sanity is here. My people are here. It’s a lot to leave behind and instead, I’m focusing again on what I don’t know and what I don’t have yet. I don’t want to regret how I spend this time of uncertainty. This small window I have before I move could be spent anxiously waiting for something that I know is already coming my way but worrying about it anyways, OR I could live in this loving and supportive environment for a little longer. I could fully be here, in the now.

I could use my energy in loving my remaining moments with these people, or I could waste it by worrying about a future that can’t be known right now.

It’s a hard thing to realize and catch yourself in moments that you know you could later regret. They seem so detrimental because you know that you’ll soon wish you could have spent this time better, happier. So that’s what I’m trying to do: catch myself. When my mind wanders off into self-doubt and anxiety, I have to remind myself that this time isn’t going to last for much longer. I’ll reminisce on them later so what I want is to create more moments to look back on and be grateful for.

It’s like that saying where worry is a lot like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere. What I’m now learning to do is stop giving it my attention, because then it won’t have so much power over me. Instead, I’m trying more and more to focus on embracing this slowness that I’m in the midst of because I know that whenever things feel extremely slow for me, it’s right before they start moving very very quickly. It’s this preparation my body knows but my mind doesn’t want to acknowledge.

Lately what I’ve been nodding my head towards is C.S. Lewis’s quote, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?”

He’s right. It is funny but it’s also heartbreaking and it is something to be completely grateful for. Moments pass, life goes on, and as cheesy as it is, we have to learn how to be fully present so that we can make the most of it. What we have isn’t ours to hold onto. Things leave, people move on, you grow. So let’s start living in this time we have and creating moments we can look back on and smile.

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