I wrote this post for World Childless Week & it was published under the topic of ‘Moving Forwards.’ You can read it & many other posts published for that day on this link.
These past few months have been strange/challenging (choose an appropriate word) for everyone & no one knows what the future holds so, in August as lockdown eased somewhat in the UK, I took the decision to (as the saying goes) ‘make hay while the sun shines.’
For the past few years I’ve consciously searched for ways to expand my comfort zone, both body & mind &, after being somewhat constrained recently, I’ve made an extra effort.
These past few weeks have therefore been filled with joy, fun, new experiences, deepening friendships, growth & (because life isn’t always a bed of roses) there were also tears.
My list of experiences includes kayaking down the Thames, lots of yoga including trying new classes, a Qigong training course, challenging myself with new embroidery projects, travelling on the train & tube through London (a big thing at this time), travelling on said transport in bright coloured yoga leggings (a huge thing for me) & accidentally getting on the wrong train with hilarious results. I’m also feeling more so with highs came lows; the tears were 2 big shame spirals, which I can recognise & have the tools to work through.
Now & again I’m stopped in my tracks by a ‘wow, who am I now?’ moment which brings forth a happy tear or two.
4 years ago, when I was stuck in a ton of grief I wrote these words “Here it comes again, my daily weep. I don’t want to cry again. My chest feels so heavy with that all pervading sadness. I’ve worked SO hard over the last 14 years to push everything I don’t want to feel into a box, why can’t I wave a magic wand to keep the lid closed and make it all go away? Then I might at least have some joy in my life.”
At that time I could never have imagined how wonderful & varied my life would be & how peaceful I’d feel.
So what’s my secret?
I want to say that I don’t have a specific plan & that’s almost true. If a plan means having targets & objectives, then I definitely don’t have one of those. What I have instead are these words which guide me.
Enjoy myself, stay open to new ideas, follow my curiosity, keep learning & growing.
I wrote them less than a year ago & I realise that they summarise everything I’ve done since I decided I’d had enough & stopped looking for the magic wand.
Each phrase is important, & if I had to pick one it would be following my curiosity.
Following my curiosity
I take my lead from Elizabeth Gilbert, & her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. In it she suggests asking, is there anything you’re interested in? It could be anything, large or small, & it only has to capture your attention for a moment. This is a clue, & she advises turning your head a quarter of an inch & following it. Follow it a bit. If it really grabs your attention that’s great, & if it doesn’t, let it go, ask the question again and follow something else.
I love this concept for many reasons & mostly because it gives me permission to change my mind. Just because I’m interested in something now, doesn’t mean I have to be interested in it forever.
Recently following my curiosity has led me to a love of embroidery. I used enjoy it as a child & had no idea whether I still could still do it so I bought a kit & it turns out I still can. These past few months I’ve made cards for friends & tried new & more intricate projects.
I love the challenge I get from the whole process & it’s stretching my comfort zone in many ways. It brings me back to myself after a rocky day & making things for others (not perfect by any means) gives me great joy.
I’m also curious as to how my body moves & works, especially as it ages. I’ve been practicing yin yoga for several years & have recently added Qigong & am interested to learn how these practices fit with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
I have no idea where any of this is taking me; in a few months or years I may decide I’ve had enough of embroidery or studying, or I may keep going. If I decide to stop I know I’ll find something else I’m curious to explore, always having fun, learning & growing.
Rejoicing in who I am now
Many times I’m struck by who I am now & the things I do. I mean who is this woman who travels on the train in leggings covered in pink peonies?
The Lesley who wrote those words in 2016 would never have done many of the things I do, she wouldn’t have worn leggings, let alone brightly coloured ones. The current Lesley has found comfort in her own skin & is happy expressing this outwardly (& let’s be honest, my thighs are more suited to hockey than yoga).
And always keeping moving
I’ve never had an end destination in mind; I only knew that I didn’t want to be where I was. So, I took Liz Gilbert’s advice & took a step towards something I was interested in, which in turn lead to another & another…. & before long I’d travelled a long way.
Like everyone, my path has had many twists & turns & a few dead ends. And I hope there will be more of all of these in the years ahead.
And I’m always moving forwards, letting my words guide me in everything I do.
One thing I need you to know
If you only take one thing from my story please let it be this.
There absolutely is a happy life waiting for you. I’ve found it & so have many others.
Your life may have elements of mine, but it won’t be the same.
Please take a step towards it today. Follow something you’re curious about, buy your equivalent of pink leggings or an embroidery kit. You never know where they may lead.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says, ‘You might spend your whole life following your curiosity and have absolutely nothing to show for it at the end – except one thing. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the noble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life.’
Amen to that.
So I’ll end by changing Liz’ question & asking
How will you follow your curiosity?
Supporting World Childless Week
Although World Childless Week is most active for a week in September, the resources are available for you all year round. Here are the topics for 2020 & head on over to the World Childless Week website to read lots more blogs like mine & also to watch a fabulous range of webinars.
I’d love to hear what you think
Please leave a comment below if you found this helpful & especially how you’ll be following your curiosity.
You can download Chapter One of Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness when you sign up to my email list.