Changing How I View Change

The only constant in life, is change.

But, let’s face it, knowing that change is inevitable doesn’t make facing it particularly comfortable or easy. In fact, as a card carrying creature of habit myself, I’ll be straight up with you: change makes me shake in my proverbial (and literal) boots more often than not.

As a confident, capable human… why is that? Shouldn’t I be able to just roll with the punches and deal with the hand that I’m dealt without any speed wobbles?

Erm, nope. I can think of quite a few reasons why being nervous about change is good – and why my stomach still churns a bit at the thought of sudden, drastic, unexpected changes in life.

The first thing that makes me fear change is simply that I have grown-up responsibilities (like mortgages and bills and all of that adulting carry-on). To feel safe & supported, I need to have a firm foundation of stability across the main areas of my life. These areas include financial, emotional, spiritual & creative aspects of who I am and what I do. Should these foundations be rocked, moved, jiggled, or even hinted at being drastically altered – panic sets in.

Or at least tries to set in.

Without stability, and without a sense of being able to provide for my child, my fiancee, and myself – my world (and my sense of self worth) start to crumble. Having knowledge that our next meal, mortgage payment, hug, laugh, and moment together might not be safe all add to my feelings of worry in times of change. At the core of who we are intrinsically,  (where our basic, instinctual drives reside) we need more than anything to live in a state of comfort – which usually means habitual daily routines. When our routines are disrupted. So too are the supporting pillars of happiness and confidence.

Another reason change has always been a bit nerve-wracking for me is that I like being able to define who I am – on my own terms. We all do, right? And, to do that, I need to understand my place in the world and how my actions effect others – their well being, their health, their core values. To do this well, means I need to have (or at least feel that I have) some control over my own circumstances.

Let me elaborate more on change – and why it can break a person. Change takes away our sense of being in control of our lives & our destiny.  When I start to feel like I’ve lost all control, I take a step back, breathe deep & start to make decisions – even micro-decisions are a starting point to turn negatives into positives. I usually decide that I have in me the power to change, and that everything starts to balance itself out again. It may take some time, but my mind becomes clear, the weight on my shoulders lighter – and my confidence is restored in going through the mental steps of building positives out of perceived negatives.

I’d be telling a big ‘ol porky-pie if I said I haven’t given in to the depth of despair on more than one occasion. I’m not an automaton. I know the darkness of failure. I’ve tasted it, wallowed in it, & given in to self-doubt. But, not for long. In fact, as I get older, I am able to fall & fail fast. And then pop back to my feet, taller & stronger than before. As my ten-year-old told me yesterday, “Mom, you climbed a mountain, a really big one, and now you’re just going down the other side. The next mountain’s gonna be bigger Momma. I can tell!” (what a kid!) Having the love & support of people who continually remind you of your worth is hugely important to rolling with changes.

Is there anything good about change? I’m talking about a mushy, warm, happy-tickle good thing. YES! YES THERE IS AMAZING GOOD IN CHANGE!

If I’m honest, the good is in the slowing down and taking the time to think, reflect, and also getting super focused on planning, potential outcomes, and building resilience. By slowing down and counting my blessings, as well as looking at my achievements and skills to date (I’m talking personally & professionally), I’m able to really shine a light on the positive nature of uncertain times. The old cliches about the worst of times teaching us the best of lessons exists for a reason. That reason being that, for the most part, what doesn’t defeat us really does make us stronger. And stronger equals resilient equals a state of mind focused on success.

Because, if change is inevitable, and control is the key to feeling firm in your foundations – then giving into your own power of taking control of all situations and how you react to them means that you’re in charge of your story. Not happenstance. No other person holds the keys to how you view the world. It’s you. It’s me. It’s all of us.

Today I see change the same way I see life. Nothing is permanent. Even if the word “permanent” is a falsity when included as a binding part of a promise. Everything is in flux. Always. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is permanent. Each new day, each new experience, each new moment is a blessing and a moment to learn, to refocus, and to remember just how lucky we are to be above ground. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a process. A life-long one. So too, is change.

Embrace the process.
Ride the waves.
Be the change.
And, when you can, help others through moments where they’re feeling vulnerable. Kindness first. Smile much. And believe that, together, we can truly overcome anything.

Who Stole My Zen?


The world is fast. Beautiful. Broken. Uplifting. Harsh. Everything at once. It can build us up & tear us down quickly. All it takes is one interaction – one word, one Tweet, one text, one fleeting moment to change the course of a day or a life.

If I think about the world & my place in it too much, things (sometimes) can feel overwhelming – in a beautiful way, mostly.

Mother. Partner. Daughter. Aunt. Friend. Colleague. Boss. Ex. Bestie. Stranger.

Most days I ask myself: Which part of me will I strengthen today?  And, inversely, which part will I allow to crumble – if even just a little bit?  Because, let’s face it, when you focus on one area of life, others can slip. And, I’m completely cool with that.

When it comes to making decisions though, I find that, sometimes, the best way to decide is not to decide on anything at all.

Huh?

Practicing silence, stillness, and focusing on the present is a great way to just “be”. Whether it be relationships at work, at home, or in the abstract – when moments arise where everything seems too much, I find a quiet space, a silent moment & look for my personal zen.

Personal zen? It’s that special, untouchable thing that helps me return to a calm, content, happy & driven being with an end goal of staring in wild wonder at the beauty of the world around me.

Over the years, I’ve learned (mostly through falling, failing & getting back up again) that balance is always achievable if you take the time to do you. To work on & build your inner resolve. Time, effort, & introspection are all integral to getting there with the balance thing.

But where does one start? I reckon a little bit of practice daily, & one big decision to take ownership of your own zen could look something like this:

  • PRIORITIZE
    Put yourself first. Seriously, do it. Because, weirdly enough, being your own Number-One is really hard for a lot of people – specifically working women. We’re taught from day-dot to make others happy. And that we can only ever be successful if we look the part while playing by rules written not in our own hand. Throw that bull$hit out the door & put yourself first. Find what makes you happy – be it exercise, time to reflect, or even meditation. Do you. First.
  • WORK, FAMILY, FUN
    Work & family are all intermingled these days, aren’t they? Shutting off is damn hard. So, finding a profession that you love & working with people you love mean that you’re able to find zen in the very place that pays the bills. Personally, my team at work are my family. While we might not share blood, we share laughs, love, kindness, drive, & shared objectives. Having fun is a must – & this means coming home is just as amazing as heading to the office on a Monday. #winning
  • AMBITION
    Don’t be afraid to kick butt & be good at what you do! As an American living in New Zealand, I do sometimes still struggle with the “tall poppy syndrome.” I was always taught that you’re not a great leader until you create other great leaders. Personally, I find so much joy in seeing my team at work, my child, & my loved ones succeed. Celebrating the success of others, & actively helping others to grow themselves is the best work any of us can do. My advice? Never, ever be afraid to be proud of your achievements. And, in the same vein, always let others know when you’re proud of their successes too!
  • MOVE YOUR BODY
    Exercise. It’s basically magic. The best kind of magic human beings could ever hope to master. When you’re feeling low, when your confidence is lacking… hit the road, the gym, or the pool. We humans were made to move. So, make time to do just that. Lose yourself in the sound of your beating heart. Make being comfortable with the state of feeling uncomfortable your new norm. And, if you can remember one thing about fitness let it be this: it’s easier to stay fit, than to get fit! So, make a habit of fitness. Mind, body, soul. Start moving. You’ll be amazed by how quickly you find your zen.
  • GET INTO THE GROOVE
    Music. It’s a common language across all of humanity. Minor chords, variations of the majors. They work to lift us up & bring us spiraling back down to earth. Find your groove, own it, & lose yourself in the words & chords that make you feel like yourself. Whether you’re blasting out Ryan Adams, swooning to Joe Jonas, or find yourself rolling through Cam Country… music heals, uplifts, & help us all find our center. Turn it on, turn it up, & do you.

Balance, confidence, & zen. However you find them…make your life your own. And, enjoy every breath you’re blessed with.

And, feel free to leave your tips on finding your zen in the comments. I’m keen to hear your thoughts.

 

Cass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find and Embrace Your Happy Places

The daily grind. The everyday-hustle. The day-to-day repetition of everyday life. Whatever you call it, most of us spend a lot of our time adhering to a routine.

You know how it goes:

Wake up.
Shower.
Dress.
Make lunches.
Drop the little ones off.
Sprint to the bus.
Grab a coffee on the run.
At the office by 8am.
Meetings.
PowerPoint.
Emails.
Phone calls.
Lunch at desk.
Afternoon hustle.
Sprint to catch bus.
Homework.
Dinner.
Emails.
Bed.
Wash…rinse…repeat.

What’s missing from all of the routine? A break from it – every day. Because, let’s face it, the moments when you step outside of the normal, out of the ho-hum, and out of the comfortable, are the moments when you truly feel alive. And, finding a moment in each day to diverge from the norm, to find a happy place isn’t all that hard.

All you need to do is actively search out moments in which you can Intentionally welcome the unintentional moments of joy, newness, and comfort outside of the rush

of modern life. So where to start? Maybe in that little moment between the lunch making and the dropping of the little ones off in the mornings. One day a week, take an alternative route and point out what you see. Make a game out of your new route to an old familiar place.

And then, grow from there. For me, my happy places usually find me when I go out with the mindset of simply wandering. Of feeling the sun on my shoulders and the wind at my back. Twice a week I take my lunch away from my desk and wander. I breathe in the fresh air, smile at passing strangers (sometimes I have to make a concerted effort to do this if the morning has been a particularly stressful one), and find a new place to grab lunch on the run.

In setting out without expectations of what I may or may not find, I’ve found a lot of places that have become my “Happy Places” – little corners of the world that were once unknown and undiscovered by myself, that are now filled with familiar faces and enticing aromas. Happy!
Sometimes we all just need to get out of the routine, before we get stick in a rut. This can be at home, at work, and beyond. Expanding your world isn’t dependent on latitude, but more often than not, it’s about attitude. Take a moment and find your happy place. Then actively search out another, and another… until you realise that, in all reality, happy places are everywhere. We carry them around with us.

It’s within ourselves that they have existed all along. Sometimes all we need to bring them to the fore is a brisk walk in the sun, a strong coffee in a new cafe, a run alongside the ocean, a rambling conversation with someone you enjoy, or a quiet moment to read.

Where’s your happy place?

I like you, you’re different

Always enchanted

I should probably start this off by stating that I am a person who finds other people enchanting. Whether you’re warm and open, cold and brooding, or somewhere else on the spectrum, I can always make a case for studying (and liking) my fellow humans.

I thrive on the high I get from deep conversation, the buzz I get from silly banter, and the feeling of connectedness I get from shared cultural memories. The people who are “different” to what I grew up with are just as welcome in my life as my beloved life-long friends and close family.

Getting to know an individual over time fills my heart, and the immediacy of people watching in a busy airport sets every cell in my body alight.

There’s just something so inherently human in connection. In wanting to connect. In thriving on those magical moments where eyes meet, lips part in genuine smiles, & stories are shared with a sense of purpose & passion.

We all have so much to give & it’s in the tiny cracks of light that sneak through our modern day facades that I find true joy. Learning about cultures, languages, zeitgeist moments that define us differently… what a trip!

Take a moment to breathe it all in, the beauty in difference

More often than not, when I’m in a crowd, I’ll stop to look around me – and find myself lost in thought. Lost in the wonderment of how so many strangers have been brought together in this place at this time. I also wonder, how many other people are thinking the same thing as me. And, what it all means to us as individuals – and as human beings.

It’s all such a perfectly imperfect magic that draws us together and pushes us apart. And that’s why I love differences in people.

At heart I’m shy. An introvert of epic proportions, I’ve learned to be boisterous when I need to be. I’ve also learned how to quiet a more loud-learned-nature to dig deep into the quiet spaces of others.

My need to know others & what it is that makes them tick keeps me smiling at strangers, starting up conversations with the person sitting next to me on the bus, and reaching out when I’d rather run away.

Differences. They’re fascinating. They’re what bring us together & what helps to change the world. They’re what we all fight for – inalienable rights are rights that celebrate individuality & the greater good. The foundation of which is empathy, understanding, & the belief in building stronger societies through a mixture of cultures.

Flying far from home is magical & terrifying

Having moved away from my Californian home over 15 years ago, I’ve felt the wrath of people who boxed me in. They define me by who they think I am without ever taking the time to actually know me. To know my story. To know what drives me.

Being a stranger in a strange land has opened me (and countless others) up to both hurt & gorgeous beauty that natives who never leave home will never know.

How many times have I been misunderstood, how many cultural references missed, and how often has my homesick phone bill from calls home to my parents far too high? Too often. But, again, it’s the beauty in the difference of others that keeps me sane.

Petty judgement doesn’t bother me. Like I said, we’re all different. Not everyone likes difference, or deals well with it though. It’s scary. It’s unsettling. And, it forces us to face our own biases.

Growing older and (for the most part) wiser

So what does this all mean, anyway? Well, the older I get, the more I realise that it’s people who embrace difference in others that make me happy. People who get excited by hearing stories different to their own are my people. The status quo is only the status quo today… it’ll change. It always does.

In the end, we are all flesh and blood. And we are all storytellers, writing the narrative of our own journey in a patchwork style that includes the stories of others we pick up & make our own along the way.

As for me, today, I say let’s all raise a glass and celebrate weirdness, geekery, being different. Different is beautiful. We all are.

Hallelujah!