Thursday, March 27, 2008

Follow your bliss

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living… I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be… Wherever you are- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time…” (Joseph Campbell )



Its still fullblown winter here in Quebec, but the wheatgrass flourishes in our warm, sunny kitchen.

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At the end of the third day of binging after my second juice feast, I did my first honest-to-goodness enema at home. I’m not going to describe it here, but wow! What a difference that made! All of a sudden my “I want to eat the world up” feeling went away and I started to eat more sensibly.

Yet it was during those hard days, when I felt the yuckiest, that once again some now obvious aspects of my life (and what it should be like for me to feel happier) became clear. I also did an exercise called “follow your bliss”, from Our Birthing from Within Keepsake Journal, a book we bought a while ago when we started thinking of a second child. In fact, I did it, my husband did it, and we did it as a couple. The exercise basically consists of listing three things that bring you bliss. This exercise made me realize even more that there are two things I need EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE:

Time for myself;
Time to write;
AND/OR both together.

Now I will step back in time to explain. Simply said, I LOVE to write and writing has been part of my life ever since I can remember. It doesn’t even matter what I write: it can be blog entries, scientific papers, short stories, or just plain old journaling. My secret dream profession (which even some of the people closest to me don’t know) was always to be a writer, but I never believed that could come true in practical terms. Besides, I am the kind of person that is always interested in several different things at the same time, so it’s not too hard to find a job that I can be fine with (I am quite a workaholic too).

Two years ago, when my son was about one year old, I decided to quit my job and stay home. The plan was to stay with him fulltime AND try to write professionally, as we couldn’t afford to put him into daycare with only my husband working (we also thought he was too young for that). It was the first time in my working life that I “stopped everything”. It was also one of the most difficult years in my life. All of a sudden I went from being a workaholic to staying at home being a fulltime housewife and mother. Yes, because in practice that was all I had time to do – you don’t have much time to concentrate on writing when you are alone with a toddler. Much less on my diet at that time, which left me feeling tired 24-7. The little free time I had was for housecleaning, sleeping, or doing some translation services to complement our budget. All the writing I did was some occasional journaling – far from professional writing.

Still, it was that bit of journaling was life-changing and eventually directed me into raw food. At some point, when I felt depressed all the time, I intuitively did two things that brought results that eight years of therapy in the past had not even come close too. The first was to take quick notes on my daily moods starting from the first day of my period. The reason was because I wanted to see what portion of my moods repeated themselves each month according to the moment of my menstrual cycle and how much came from external stress or other issues. This was crucial because it made me see that a lot was “normal” and repetitive, so that when certain moods came at certain times I could (at least in part) know it was mostly related to my hormones and not feel as scared.

At around the same time I found out about raw food and started blogging about it (that was the second thing). That brought several changes in many aspects of my life, among which more energy, fewer binging episodes and more awareness of this problem as a psychological and medical disorder, less depression, etc. However, as I was not too clear on what I wanted yet, I decided to go back to school for a PhD as I couldn’t stand being home all the time anymore – I think the emotional pressure of stopping everything and being able to really think about my life was too great.

My plan was: I would go back to school and apply for a doctoral bursary which would enable us to put our child at a Waldorf pre-school part-time (three mornings and two full days) so that I could go to class. By that time I had basically given up on professional writing and believed that solely writing academic papers would fulfill my needs. Besides, I was changing my line of studies a bit and was excited about that (I love to learn and to do new things, no matter what).

In reality, this is what happened: I passed the doctoral entrance exam, but had to stay over a year on the waiting list for a bursary; we did get a big discount at my child’s school, or else we wouldn’t have been able to pay (but we could only afford five mornings). However, all this caused a lot of stress because my schedule became almost unbearably hectic. On the days I had class in the morning I would have to run out at the end in order to get the bus in time to pick up my son and then go home and stay with him in the afternoon and then stay up until 2 or 3 am reading my material for classes (THAT was only possible because of the extra raw food energy! :)). Then my husband had to leave work on the day I had class in the afternoon, which caused some more stress. And so on…

Enough on that, though. What I wanted to say is that, during this second juice feast, one more obvious thing downed on me. If I had tried and taken the risk, I would have been able to put my son in school and been able a few hours every day! I never needed to go back to school – I could have tried the discount without having to go get a PhD! BUT I needed some sort of justification as paying for his pre-school JUST for me to stay home and start to try and write something (and be successful or not) was not enough. I didn’t think I was worth it! And then there are other guilt-related issues like how my dad always wanted me to finish school all the way to the end (i.e., a PhD) and do well academically, etc., etc., but that’s a whole new story I won’t get into now.

Now, don’t take me wrong – I don’t regret the fact that I got back in school for a number of reasons I won’t get into now either. Yet I have to find a way to also write things other than academic papers (which I enjoy too, but not only) and start thinking what I really want to do when I finish, not what I think others expect me to (and honestly I don’t even know for sure who these “others” are – probably my dad’s memory once again). I still can’t envision myself being a writer 100% of the time (for practical-financial reasons), but I would like some sort of job which would allow me time to write whatever I wanted for about two hours a day.

My husband is also going through a professional crisis and I believe the ideal would be for the two of us to work part-time and then do something at home which we like (like writing for me and probably something hands-on like artisanship for him) which might eventually bring in some income too. The problem is how to accomplish that in practical terms, but I believe we’re now finally close to finding out as long as we continue to "follow our bliss"! :)

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