Thursday, May 24, 2012

5 lots of four word self help notes I like

"If you think you can or you think you can't either way you are right."
- Henry Ford

Sometimes I get caught up in the minutiae of life and let it overwhelm me. When that happens, it seems like the smallest problem can seem frighteningly large, and the solution often looks equally as complicated. In those instances I often forget that life really can be quite simple. If I let it be. This year, inspired by the One Word 365 initiative, I chose one word to live by. It's a little bit of a touchy feely concept for me, and I am so not a touchy feely person. The idea is to choose one word that will underpin everything you are, everything you want to do, everything you want to be, everything you would like to achieve this year. I chose the word 'open,' as in open mind, open heart, open hands, open eyes, open door. It's been an interesting year to date, although sometimes I forget all about my word and automatically refuse opportunities that come my way. Some habits are hard to break. Luckily I have another seven months to get it right. In that same vein of wanting to keep life simple I requested Four-word self-help : simple wisdom for complex lives by Patti Digh. It's an interesting read. Actually, it was an enjoyable read. Basically, Digh uses 12 topics (such as love, success, generosity, etc.) and offers four word notes about those topics to remind you to keep things simple. It's a gorgeous little book with some fantastic (and orginal) art to illustrate each piece of advice, all by readers of Digh's blog. The author's personal stories give each section a really nice feel and, wow, I must be feeling extra sensitive this week because most of them made me smile/sniffle. I'm racking up the touchy feely points this year and, surprisingly, I'm ok with that. Although I still won't hug you. If you like self help books that don't preach at you, you'll like this one :) I now find myself wondering what four words I can apply to any given situation, like this post, for example: "Books DO change lives." See? And so! Here are 5 lots of four word self help notes I like from this book, and would like to use.

Let other people in
Topic: Community: Create your own tribe.

Having lots of friends and acquaintances doesn't necessarily mean that I like people. I like conversation, which is something altogether different. While I may know quite a few people, and feel no shyness in happily talking to one and all wherever I happen to be, I don't actually let anybody get close. The stuff that I babble and overshare is stuff that I would tell anyone and everyone about (and generally do) and, therefore, ends up being not particularly special. Yeah, ok, I'm just beginning to see how weird that is.

Talk to your seatmates
Topic: Travel: Take just enough baggage.

What I love most about international travel is that I can be whoever I want to be. I don't mean that I can suddenly go around telling everyone I meet on holiday that I'm some kind of super ninja spy and make up some fantastical lie about my life. Here, at home, I'm a neurotic thirty-something-year-old geek chick with an indecent obsession with Jensen Ackles. (Seriously, it's disturbing how obsessed I am and sometimes I creep myself out about it). Overseas, though, I'm just ordinary Tosca who can be as nosey as she wants to be about other people's lives and quirks, or be wallpaper, or be both, or be neither. No pressure, no expectations, no preconceived ideas. It's quite freeing.

Use your own voice and Vote or shut up
Topic: Activism: Stand up for something.

I'm not sure I need to explain these two. Well, let me put it this way, I don't feel they need an explanation, so I won't provide one. (But then this non-explanation is, really, SOME kind of explanation. Oy).

Blow bubbles more often and Give your affection freely
Topic: Children: Learn from small humans.

When Jolene needs a bit of a brain break she'll pull out her bubble wand in the office and take two minutes to just blow bubbles. Bubbles are magic. There's something about them that is forever fun and childlike and, thanks to Jolene, I've learned that just seeing them makes me feel a little less overwhelmed/hemmed in. Remy the Pooh (my one year old nephew) adores bubbles times ten, and I enjoy how happy it makes him. I also appreciate how affectionate he is without any expectation whatsoever. To him, it just is what it is, and it's always given freely (if a little bit loudly, like when he shouts in my ear, "I LOVE YOU THIS MUCH!" or bangs on my bedroom door while yelling, "GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU?" Making it sound somewhat more threatening than, perhaps, it should. This could be my state of mind, though). I'm not much on touchy feely. In fact, I find it hard to relate to people that way, and usually the only context in which I'm comfortable with showing affection is on the marae or when I'm with Maori family/colleagues/friends. And even then I only do it because that's our way. You think I'm kidding but I'm really not. That's not to say I don't feel things ever. Anybody who knows me knows how often I cry about the most little of things like sad endings in books, sappy commercials, stories about kids, etc. Mostly, I feel things incredibly intensely, they're just often this big ball of indescribable FEELS about THINGS and STUFF just bubbling away somewhere. And it's not just me, it's probably all of my siblings. When in New Orleans earlier this year, my sister and I had been out on Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras night. About 1am we decided to head back to the Banana Courtyard to sleep when my sister, a little happy after a few drinks, earnestly said to me, "If we weren't emotionally stunted I'd hug you right now." Ahem. And there you go :)

Risk your own significance and Get lost more often
Topic: Endings: Live like you're dying.
Childhood road trips with my dad and his love of 'shortcuts' (that saw us ending up three hours away from where we were meant to be) mean that the idea of getting lost doesn't phase me. If anything, I enjoy the trip more. I'm a firm believer in the idea that it's the journey that's important, not the destination. As for risking your own significance...I just liked the sound of it, the idea of it.


breve711 said...

"If we weren't emotionally stunted I'd hug you right now." describes my family right there.

tosca said...

My mum is a very affectionate mum. My dad...not so much of an affectionate dad. We know he loves us. Now that we're all adults, he's easily able to say it, although it still takes some getting used to. I remember once he said to me, "I love you very much." Taken aback, I said, "YOU HAVE TO - IT'S YOUR JOB," and stomped off. So there you go. His parents weren't big on displays of affection - verbal or physical, and I would guess it's hard to show what you never learned. My siblings and I are kind of odd in that we're some strange mix of the affectionate/remote.