Taking a long, hard look at our lives

Holiday recalibration

Ten years ago, I turned my face for a moment and it became my life” (David Whyte, The Heart Aroused, 2002).

This is a startling reality for many of us. The line from David Whyte’s book, The Heart Aroused, makes me smile, as I’ve lived that experience.

I keenly remember the day I realized the busy, demanding life I was living wasn’t what I wanted. I had great success. It looked good from the outside but inside I felt drained and unhappy. I had a great career but it held little meaning for me. I’d lost touch with what really mattered, and life felt hard.

Life has a way of pulling us forward, living incidentally, in response to life. Our daily habits and routines have a way of lulling us into an unconscious repetition of action. It’s easy to lose touch with our values and intentions for living.

Expectations and demands can keep us moving forward, ever-busy in the “doingness” of life. For many years, I turned life into one big to-do list, and I had a get-er-done mentality. For me, it felt like life was living me, instead of me living life.

I became more of a human-doing than a human-being, as I lost sight of my why, the essence and meaning behind my actions. It was draining. Life felt like a command performance, and it lacked quality.

I’d turned my head, lost sight of who I really was and I’d been pulled off course. I needed to recalibrate.

According to author Margaret Cullen, “intentions that drive your behaviour remain as the invisible but operative force that defines the quality of what you think, say and do.” She goes on to say, when we lose sight of our intentions “we can end up living our whole life on autopilot.”

I lived on auto-pilot, pulled forward by life’s demands for many years. Thankfully, I woke up.

As I stand poised to greet the upcoming holiday season, I find old habits die hard, as my mind starts to fill with the many things that need attention. And, then I pause.

I pause and remember the meaning behind the season for me. I come back to my values and intentions for living. I consciously choose the qualities I want my actions to reflect. Our intentions are the invisible essence that infuse what we do with meaning. They are the most important thing.

Each of us has different traditions for the holidays, but when we lose touch with the meaning of the traditions, they are empty actions. When we do things out of habit or obligation, the essence is lost and we miss out on the reciprocal nature of giving.

I now look at my to-do list and remember why each item is on the list and who or what it represents. I think about the people in my life and have gratitude for my opportunity to engage with them this season. I also reflect on the meaning of our traditions.

My thinking changes from an “I have to’” mentality to an “I get to.”

A whole new living energy fills my being when I consider the opportunities inherent in the holiday season.

This is the perfect time to pause and consider the meaning this season holds for us. What’s on your to-do list, and why is it there? What does it represent?

Today is a perfect day to recalibrate, to consciously decide the intentions and quality of the life you are living. Always remember the most important thing.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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