My top 5 TED talks

I love TED talks. So many interesting things to learn in 20 minutes or less!! Here are my top 5. So far.

1. Learning to be Vulnerable

Bréné Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability has transformed my approach to relationships. I discovered her talk when I was doing work with a style consultant. I thought I was trying to look more “corporate” in order to move my career forwards. In fact, I ended up learning how to dress so that people saw me, instead of my clothes.

Which meant that I had to be okay with being seen.  With being vulnerable. To shine a light on the dark corners where my shame and my “not good enough” voice lurks. To practice authenticity and to live and love whole-heartedly. In fact, the banner for my blog page is my beach drawing of whole-heartedness.

 

2. The Power of Secrets

Frank Warren asked people to send him their secrets on a postcard of their own making. The results are simply stunning.  Some of the secrets are funny. Some take your breath away and some will break your heart.

Every week, Frank posts some of the postcards on his blog Postsecret.com and I usually start my Sunday morning with a coffee and a sharing of the secrets. Some of them are hard to believe. Some of them are so much like my secrets that I feel like I could have written them. Or, maybe should have. The courage and bravery is inspiring.

 

3. A Stroke of Insight

Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher, gives a beautiful and eloquent talk about the process of having a stroke. Of her having her stroke.  Of the two halves of her brain becoming separated from each other. The half that is in the here and how, fully in her body. And, the half that transcends the physical and becomes fully integrated into the universe. And of the possibilities around learning to move more between the two. And, the audience reaction to the moment where the stage hand walks out with a real human brain is priceless.

I have a Jill Bolte Taylor quote on my wall as you come into my home which says, “Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.”

 

 

4. Texting is not our downfall

Have you ever listened to anyone bemoan how texting will be the death of the English language?  How young people aren’t learning to communicate properly?  Well, here’s your ammunition to prove otherwise. John Mcwhorter gives a great explanation of how texting has the characteristics of a new language. One that can better represent human speech than written English can.

If that doesn’t convince you, maybe the long list of people who have complained about the degradation of the state of the written language going back several thousand years might at least make you feel better.

 

5. The stress of being creative

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the best-selling book, which was turned into the blockbuster movie, Eat, Pray Love. And then she had to produce her next piece of work/art.   She talks about how the pressure to produce good art (writing, music, painting, whatever) takes it’s toll on the modern artist. From alcoholism to drug abuse to depression and mental illness, it’s no wonder we don’t consider going into the arts a good career choice!

So she goes back to the Greek and Roman idea of the creative inspiration, the genius, and looks at the idea that creative inspiration lies not within us where we are responsible for it, but outside of us. And that our job is to do the hard work of writing or painting or playing music and rely on the muse to show up. If it’s crap, it’s your muse’s fault. If it’s genius, it’s not you, it’s your genius!

I am a fledgling artist with my photography, my glass art, my music and my writing.  I can put the stress of creativity aside, and just do my art work.  Sometimes, genius and inspiration are there. Sometimes, it’s just a practice session. And, that’s okay.

 

So, those are my top 5. For now. What are your favourite TED Talks?

Thoughts on turning 45

Last week I marked my 45th birthday and I discovered something neat. I actually really like me.

I have always found birthdays slightly stressy. On the one hand, all the birthday greetings and love from friends and family are wonderful. They remind me how blessed I am. I have been whisked away on surprise trips, had birthday parties and I usually treat myself to an extra long massage session. I mean, pretty blessed, right?!

But then there is that niggly feeling, that “still not good enough” gremlin. Still not married. Still not thin. Ungrateful for what I have. And, somehow the “middle of the decade” birthdays seem worse. Somehow, 35 felt closer to 40 than 30. Time slipping away into another year of failure. And, 45 has brought 50 into view for the first time.

So, while I love celebrating my birthday and being reminded of all the great things about my life and especially all the wonderful people in my life, I find myself unconsciously bracing myself for the emotional blow of “not good enough”.

When that didn’t fall this year I was left a little like a stranger in a strange land. It was a new place, a new landscape. I felt my shoulders gradually begin to loosen from their tenseness of the anticipated blow and I realized –  I am so okay with where I’m at this year. Life is full of wonderful things which I am ever grateful for. And, yes, it still has the struggles that I still keep chipping away at. That’s what exploring is. Enjoying the journey, the view and the scenery while facing the unknown and doing my best to change directions when I need to, with honesty, gentleness, compassion and fierce loyalty to myself and my path.

On the day of my birthday I took myself off to the glass studio for some creative time. And, I made myself a heart. This was only my second try at making this kind of pendant and I absolutely love how it turned out.  I’ve been working on pieces for other people over the past while but I decided on my birthday I would make something just for me.

Only later did it occur to me that I had made myself a heart.  A manifestation of love for myself.

Self-love is a pretty awesome gift at any age.

 

 heart_pendant

 

Making waves

When I picked fierce as my word for this year, I had no idea that the Universe would so quickly and eagerly leap to answer my invitation!

The idea of being fierce was to be clear in walking my path. To be 100% fully me in my life.  Fierce, as defined by the Urban Dictionary –

the combination of a positive mental spirit, bold words and unapologetic actions used collectively.

I think I should have also ordered a large dose of bravery to go with that fierceness.

Because here’s what I’m learning in just the first few weeks of my word.  I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do and how I want to be in this life. So deciding *what* to do isn’t the issue. The issue is in putting it into action. In stating my truth and then letting the chips fall where they may.

There is a terrifying moment when you state your truth and it hangs there in the air in frozen silence and you wait to see how it will be received.

I am afraid of the falling chips. Of disappointing my friends and loved ones. Of letting people down. Of making anyone feel sad. Or angry. Of being anything less than perfect. Of not being what others want me to be. What I am “supposed” to be.

In this integrated, intertwined world of mine, decisions have ripples. I am afraid that they will become waves.

I’ve already made some hard decisions, taken some firm actions and drawn some boundaries. I’m not sure how they’ll be received. But, even in just these first few forays into being fierce, I already know what has been holding me back.

My fear.

So, I guess I’ll see how the waves are this year. I hope that true friends, who know the real me, will support me and celebrate in my journey. Those who don’t can be forgiven for not knowing the real me. After all, what have I shown them?

Already the Universe has brought some amazing new possibilities into my life. And, I am more excited for this year than I have been in a long time. Especially in a cold, dark and rainy January.

I guess I’ll see how many friends I have left at the end of the year!

beachwriting_brave

An invitation to the Universe

The word that I picked for 2013 was joy and, I gotta say, I’ve spent most of the year feeling I was stood up for a date. I invited joy into my life and felt like I was left with a big no-show.

I am not talking about happiness or contentment, both of which are in my life, but the pure joy that makes me feel 100% alive. That makes me feel entirely present in the moment, spirit and body passionately united in perfect purpose. As I think back over the year, it was mostly a tough slog to heal my heart and get my feet back under me again.

But amidst that incredibly powerful healing journey (of which I am very proud) there were, in fact,  a few moments of pure joy.

In January, being within 10 feet of molten hot lava as it poured into the ocean, creating new life in a burst of heat and steam and fire.

In July, overcoming my fear and walking through fire over a bed of hot coals.

In November, running along my favourite stretch of coast in the rain with the smell of the ocean and the trees filling my lungs as my body revelled in the opportunity to move powerfully.

And what strikes me is that in order for these moments of joy to come into my life, I must establish the pre-conditions that allow joy to manifest. I can’t just invite joy on a date. I need to prepare the meal, set the table and dress up for the occasion.

So, here are my pre-conditions –

  • Be financially disciplined so that I have the money to travel to the places I want to see
  • Stay the course and not be swayed by what I *think* I should be doing or by what others want me to be/do
  • Be willing to venture alone
  • Use positive self-talk to overcome the fear that keeps me from trying and doing

Which leads me to my word for this year – fierce.

I want to be fierce about living my life to its fullest.

Fierce about allowing myself to be seen and heard and not silenced by fear.

Fierce about protecting my creative time and nourishing my passion.

Fierce about my self-care, treating myself with respect, exercising my body and feeding it well.

Fierce about my friendships.

Fierce about my connection with nature and the Sacred.

I want to be fierce about  setting the table and being the person I know I am meant to be.  I can’t wait to see how the Universe will show up to answer the invitation.

wendy_xmas2013

IKEA Round 2

When Single Girl last battled the mighty IKEA in the Case of the Two Side Tables, the score was a very close IKEA 1.0, Single Girl 1.5. Proud to report that in Round 2, The Mystery of the Six Drawers, Single Girl soundly defeated IKEA with a score of 6-0.

There is something about putting together IKEA furniture by myself that triggers my grumpy single girl bitching (aka whining). And while I’m sure that lots of couplehood people have stood alone and hex-ringed IKEA in frustration, I miss having some shared misery as I stand by myself  in the suddenly vast and quiet space of my apartment surrounded by numerous confusing parts with their slots and precisely drilled holes and their right-side wrong-side left-side right-side challenges.

Problem is, the two side-tables I conquered look so great and there is this matching dresser that would look much better with my bedroom decor. So, if I want to be grown up and have “bedroom decor” on my budget, I figure I’d better just suck it up.

Step One, the bag of parts.

Ikea_parts

Seriously, look at this bag of parts!! I’m sure fewer parts were used in the moon landing. Feeling the need for support, I posted the picture to Facebook.

Now, I don’t want to cast aspersions on my Facebook friends but the three most common comments were “wow, that’s a lot of drugs for one person”, “what’s with the big bag of cigarette butts” and “oooh, I LOVE putting together IKEA furniture”. Two somewhat reasonable responses and one clearly crazy one.

Step Two, mix a gin and tonic.

Step Three, check instructions.

I greatly admire the people who create the instructional diagrams for IKEA. Explaining how to assemble furniture using only pictures and no writing is a truly admirable skill. But, the first thing that becomes clear to me is that not even the gurus at IKEA believe that you should assemble furniture by yourself. Check out this sad single guy, and then how happy he is to have a friend.

Ikea_alone

Ikea_friend

Bravely, I decide the hell with IKEA and their anti-single instructions, I am doing this by myself. Even if, as the later instructions show, it might lead to me attempting suicide by trying to crush myself under the dresser.

Ikea_death

Step Four, mix another gin and tonic.

Ikea_gin2

I’d make this a longer story but things got a bit fuzzy after that.

I’d like to say that I was filled with profound insight as I assembled my dresser. I’d like to say that. But the only things I really learned were as follows –

  • some yoga stretches come in handy when working with carefully balanced parts by yourself
  • finish all the bending over before dinner and not after you’ve filled up on butter chicken
  • good music and a few gin and tonics help take the pity out of the party
  • when you start using the screwdriver backwards, you’ve had enough gin and tonic

It took me four hours and I got a blister on my hand from the screwdriver but I did it. Sure, there were a few leftover parts but I didn’t do any of the steps wrong, requiring an undo and redo, AND I managed not to strip any screws. I count that as a giant victory.

Single Girl 6. IKEA 0.

Self-esteem, priceless.