I wrote this blog post just before COVID-19 reached our shores in the early months of 2020.
“I trust life.” It was the casual way she said the words that stirred something in me. Long after our conversation I was still thinking about them. I had the strongest sense that I was being given wise advice that I would do well to adopt in my own life. In the lead up to Christmas 2019 I had decided to take a stand at a local craft fair and use it as an opportunity to sell my new book. It was only two months since the book launch and I was excited about taking any opportunity to get out and tell people about it and make sales. The young girl was in her mid-twenties at most. She was selling vintage clothes at the stall next to mine. We chatted easily throughout the day whenever there were lulls in the crowd and I was fascinated by her happy-go-lucky approach to life. She seemed a far cry from the anxiety-ridden young people I read about in the media every day. She was doing what she loved, lived in the moment and followed her heart. I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s the gist of what she told me. In fact all of the young women I was surrounded by at the market were like that. They were full of energy and life, doing their own thing, not trying to conform or fit it. It was just plain obvious that they were really enjoying life and the day was punctuated by lots of laughter. It wasn’t the way that I had been at their age, but it was the way that I now wanted to live life every day. So what has that got to do with living bravely? Well as I recounted my experience at the craft fair during my monthly “Creative Way” group just before Christmas, one of the women responded by saying - “They sound like brave women.” She was dead right. I hadn’t been able to understand why the encounter had resonated so deeply with me and she had just hit the nail on the head. It takes bravery to trust life, doesn’t it? How many of us spend our lives trying to control what happens next and how our life turns out? I know that I wasted a lot of energy living my life like that and to no avail. I found it very hard to let go, to surrender to the outcome of any given situation and to just go with the flow. That might sound like a cop out, but it isn’t. I’ve learnt that it doesn’t mean that you just sit around and wait for things to happen in your life. It’s about following your heart and the urges that you feel to do something or take action. Then you see what life brings and you work with it. I’m coming to this wisdom late in life. I’m currently reading Michael Singer’s book – The Surrender experiment, which was recommended by a friend – that’s no accident for sure! Here I am getting the same message again from a different source. Singer has devoted over forty years to the experiment of surrendering to life, as he explains at the start of the book-
“Let it be clear right from the start, however, that this type of surrender does not mean living life without the assertion of will. My story of these forty years is simply the story of what happened when the assertion of will was guided by what life was doing instead of what I wanted it to be doing. My personal experience is that aligning one’s will with the natural forces unfolding around us leads to some surprisingly powerful results.” I believe this is living bravely and it is the way the girl at the market was living. I could tell that she wasn’t flush with money, didn’t have a lot of security or a 5 year career plan (though nothing wrong with that as long as you’re willing to adjust it depending on what life brings). She was living spontaneously, she was happy and it was a pleasure to be in her company. So that’s how my intention came about as 2020 approached. I would be courageous with my life and make brave choices. The dawning of 2020 also gave me the impetus to push outside my comfort zone for other reasons:
Firstly, I was proud of what I had achieved in 2019. I had published and launched my first book, something I had never imagined doing. I now had a taste of what was possible when I believed in myself and followed my heart. I didn’t want to let fear and self-doubt thwart my plans, which it often had done in the past.
Secondly, it was almost 4 years since my diagnosis with breast cancer and I was alive and healthy. As difficult as the experience was, the flip side of the coin is that it transformed my life beyond recognition. It taught me that life is precious and could be taken from me in an instant. I had been given a second chance that many people don't get. That has given me an unshakable determination to live life on my terms.
Thirdly, I was feeling an extra sense of urgency. I was facing into a new decade in my early 50's. If I'm very lucky, I might just be over half way through my life. In any event, the words - life isn't a dress rehearsal were echoing strongly in my ears.
It is now just a few weeks into the new decade. My life doesn't look radically different on the outside but there have been some massive shifts inside. I feel more grounded, anchored and despite the odd anxiety or worry about the future, I have a great sense of living on purpose and of being on my path. I’m concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other and saying yes to all of the opportunities that come my way, especially those that stretch me.
My hope is that you do the same, that you realise how much you have to offer in life. Each of has a unique contribution to make in the world and we deprive others of our gifts when we don’t show up and share them. We all benefit greatly when each one of us is courageous in our lives. So let's be brave together!
2oth January 2020“