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Talk to Me  

The meaning of life

On a recent trip to Vancouver Island, it took me four days to notice the oceanfront view from the house we had rented for spring break. 

Four days.

Looking back, I chose to rent this house for our family precisely because of its location, and yet, I had completely missed it. How could I have missed it? 

As I stood in the sunroom looking at the beach I spent my youth on, I realized I had lost a quality of connection to the life happening all around me. 

I had become myopic, and lost sight of some other important dimensions of my life. As a therapist, I feel ashamed about this. As a human being, I see this as an opportunity for growth. 

Travelling with my two-year-old is pretty fun. He’s adaptable, easy-going, and charming. He’s also very busy, which requires me to have a physical and mental prowess akin to a Jedi.  

He has some turbulent moments, too, which requires me to be patient, attentive and emotionally self-regulated, much like a Buddhist. 

By the time his bedtime rolls around, I’m running on fumes and long for rest.  Some days I don’t have the energy to process this shortcoming. Other days, like the one in Victoria, I feel ripped off. 

You see, I was in my hometown to visit my newborn niece and family, and Victoria was in full bloom. The cherry blossoms were bursting at the buds, the sun was sparkling off the ocean, and the birds were rejoicing. 

After living in a snowy, grey, ping-pong ball in Kelowna since about October, you’d think I would be hyperaware of my new surroundings. But I wasn’t.

I was too caught up in sticking to routines and schedules, running interference on my son’s explorations, cleaning up mess after sticky, smelly mess, organizing lunch bags, putting away the same toy for the 15th time, and managing meltdowns.  

I forgot to look up.

Maybe it was the ocean breeze or the seagulls courting each other in song. Whatever it was, on our walk to the beach that afternoon, it gave me great pause.

I took a deep breath of the salty air, and exhaled all the management I’d been doing for years. I felt my feet on the wet rocks, listened to the ocean lap against my son’s boots, and felt the sun on my face. 

I saw my mom and my sister-in-law embracing, and felt profound gratitude for my family. I watched my son dancing in the shoreline and let go of my need to keep him dry.

I watched a floatplane take flight in a dusty blue sky. In this moment of sensory connection, I found a peace and joy that filled my soul to the brim. 

I’ve long practised mindfulness and meditation, and always thought I’ve done a pretty good job of living and teaching this work. But experiences like the one I had at the beach are transformative, and I’m a work in progress. 

The power of that feeling is one I want more of, so I have to dig deeper. 

Connection is the heart of life. Further still, the quality of the connections in your life is paramount to living a purposeful and meaning-driven life, which generally results in happiness. 

When we lack connection to self, others and the world, we’re just shells, and after a while, that feels pretty empty. So what can you do to connect more fully with your life?  Here are a few (of literally hundreds) of my suggestions:

  • Slow down. Your business won’t fail, you won’t lose your job, your relationship won’t end, things won’t fall apart.  If they do, they weren’t strong enough to begin with, and that’s worth examining.
  • Find joy in simple, sensory things. Notice the sensation of eating or listening to music and connect to the force it ignites in you.
  • Put down your phone, and go outside. The natural world can be a profoundly healing resource; take time to reflect on your environment and find gratitude for your place in it.
  • Get personal. Have lunch with an old friend, kiss your partner, hug your mother.
  • Make bids for connection. We are constantly doing things in a bid to connect with someone or something. Examine the ways you do this, and see if you can do more of it or if there’s a need to do things differently. 

The awareness of, and connection to, my son is unparalleled, yet my quest for mindful connections in other parts of my world will be lifelong and sometimes challenging.   

No one ever said being a Jedi Buddhist was easy. 

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About the Author

Mother, wife, and therapist, Fiona Patterson balances life at home with a busy clinical practice in Kelowna.

After graduating at the top of her class and earning a master’s degree in counselling psychology, she did post-graduate work in interpersonal neurobiology, a methodology that seeks transformation through re-establishing healthy circuitry in a dysregulated nervous system. 

With a specialty in trauma, and practising from an attachment and somatic-based paradigm, Fiona has honed her craft to become a highly sought after trauma practitioner. 

Over the past 10 years, Fiona has worked for numerous health authorities both on the front lines and as a clinical educator, practised with non-profits, taught post-secondary psychology courses, and volunteered extensively in the mental-health community. 

She believes in the innate power and resilience of the human spirit, and helps her clients learn to tolerate discomfort in order to live a fully-connected, mindful life. 

When she is not practising or writing, Fiona can be found with her family hiking, biking, and travelling, or simply enjoying a home-cooked meal with a glass of Okanagan wine. 

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona’s practice, or book a session, please visit www.counsellingkelowna.com or email [email protected]



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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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