I’m writing this while thinking about my next birthday. Having a birthday in the spring is lovely — birds are nesting, flowers are blooming, green leaves are popping. It’s a fertile start to a new year. I love having a May birthday.
This year I’m especially grateful for new beginnings. I’m observing more thoughtfully than in years past where I’ve traveled each journey around the sun quickly, always with an eye toward my next goal. In slowing down, I’m retraining my thoughts, embracing ways to move through life with mindfulness and presence at my core. This takes conscious work.
My previous methods were always guided by strategy — how to get from point A to point B — what the critical path forward looked like. I trust strategies, especially proven ones, and have spent a life guiding people and organizations towards strategies with broad impact and meaningful outcomes.
But after the year I’ve had, the intense months in class four rapids, I’m landing on another birthday questioning what strategies have really done for me — and in a very macro way — what have strategies done for us all?
They help us advance us towards goals and objectives, true.
But strategies can also keep us thinking about the future and not in present time. They can reinforce our belief systems in narrowly defined ways, with limited outcomes, and inculcate patterned behavior we’ve been indoctrinated into.
To change that personally, I’ve had to hack my thought process, diving deeply into waters I’m in the middle of (image above is apt). This has taken me on a new adventure — one I’m documenting here on Medium.
To be confronted with a health diagnosis, even at an early stage, took my strategies and patterned ways of thinking and threw them in the air like pick up sticks.
Gen X’ers will recognize the game well. Hours of endless entertainment were spent playing with those sticks. The object of the game requires you to drop a loose bunch onto a table top, jumbling into a random pile. Each player tries to remove a stick from the pile without disturbing any of the others.
Who knew we’d all be trying to figure out how to play this game but in an entirely different way, and at various inflection points?
Picking up a stick without disturbing the others, is it possible?
Here’s what I’ve learned. You may be able to pick up one stick without disturbing the others in the game above, but in the game of life, these sticks connect, and working on one area of your life will surely impact many other areas you inhabit.
When navigating life’s rapids, looking at ourselves in a whole new way challenges us to reconfigure thoughts, relationships, careers and more.
We understand this figuratively — but when something sudden happens to you (and if you live long enough, it will), a whole different ball game comes into view.
This has been part of my journey from healthcare to well care and it’s led me to some interesting places.
One of these places has been a group of 20+ courageous souls I’ve joined in an energy healing course. Energy healing conjures up images of many things but nowhere near what a well-crafted strategy looks like. In some ways, that’s magical, but not in a traditional sense.
This course is a magical constellation of souls helping each other be more fully in the present, to move with the currents of our lives, and trust energy wisdom through deepening our gifts and abilities in ways we previously hadn’t.
The journey has been a rewarding and an entirely different pathway than any strategy has ever taken me before. And in thinking about it — it reflects the time we’re living in, what the universe is calling each and every one of us to do, every single day:
Think differently. Expand your view. Root yourself in what has meaning and value in your life and direct your energy toward that.
If there’s one thing a birthday will do, it will remind you that time on earth moves quickly.
If there’s one thing a healthcare challenge will do, it will tell you that life is transient, without guarantees, and living it in any other way but authentically and heart-centered is foolish.
When I was in my twenties, I went on a rafting trip with work colleagues to Canada to tackle the Rouge River. I’ll never forget one challenging rapid that threw everyone out of the raft but me. I was the only one left in it, holding on for dear life.
When I think about that now, I’m a lot more wise and little more amused, because being thrown out of the raft can be one of the best things that can happen to you, if you let it.
It brings you right into the current. And the only way to fully embrace the current is to move with it.
Find what gives you meaning and value.
Move through your currents by being in the current.
Challenge your beliefs and see what happens.