Jan 26 2012

Have you become comfortably numb?

Peggy McPartland

The dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.
~ Pink Floyd, The Wall


Your life is filled with routine.

It feels necessary somehow, but so limiting. Mundane.

You’ve got to be in the office every day. The dog needs to be walked. The kids need help with their homework. And you love, I mean love, to watch Dancing with the Stars.

What happened to your dreams, your plans? You wanted to do big things with your life. But you’ve fallen into your day-to-day habits and routine and slowly, quietly they’ve faded away. Without you even realizing it.

          You’ve become comfortably numb.

It’s time to shake things up! We don’t have all the time in the world.

We only have today. So live like you really believe it.

People die… suddenly.

We all think it won’t happen , but it does.

Last week an incredible woman died, Joyce Hatten Jasper. She was a wife, sister, daughter, aunt and friend to so many people. A former demolition derby driver. She was adventurous, active and lived life fully. And she was far too young to die.

If you died tomorrow, would you be able to say you’d lived your life the way you wanted to? Fully and with passion?

The most common regret expressed by people who are dying is that they didn’t have the courage to live a life true to themselves rather than what others expected of them.

Have you gotten so caught up in the minutia of each day that you’ve neglected your dreams and forgotten what life’s really about?

We get sucked into the comfortable numbness for the simple reason that we’re not paying attention. We’re not fully present in each moment of our life.

Pay attention to the details. Notice whether you’re content. Ask whether fear is preventing you from accepting challenges or making changes. Are you taking time to laugh and play?

You don’t have to be so sensible! Bring joy and beauty into each day. Take chances. Go barefoot. And rekindle those dreams.

You’ll have much more regret for the things you didn’t do than you ever will for those you did. Don’t be afraid to take risks and step out of your comfort zone.

We don’t ever reach a time in our lives where it’s too late to live fully and with awareness. It’s just a matter of reclaiming your life and your time.

Yes, you have obligations. And yes, you’re tired at the end of the day. But what if rather than vegging out, you did something nourishing? Do you know that the average person watches tv for almost three hours a day?! No wonder they’re numb!

It may have been so long since you really did anything nourishing and healing that you’ve forgotten how. Start by just taking time for contemplation. Or reach out and connect deeply with others. Lovingly prepare a healthy meal. Incorporate movement into your day. These will bring a true sense of awareness and connection back into your life.

Are you compromising who you really are? Or are you participating in your life fully? Really participating in it, not just sitting back and letting whatever happens come to you.

Life isn’t just about being productive and practical. It’s about listening to your heart. Take the time to rediscover an awareness of what you love and allow yourself to create space for it. Make it a priority.

It’s important to make conscious choices of how to live. Life shouldn’t be something that just happens to you. You do have a choice of how you live your life. So be an active participant. This isn’t a spectator sport.

Sometimes we need a wake up call. Let this be it. Don’t wait any longer to shake off that comfortable numbness and fully embrace your dreams. Break out of your ordinary existence and live life like you mean it.

This is your one precious life. Live it as such.

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Dec 22 2011

The evolution of holiday celebrations

Peggy McPartland

Presents. Lots of presents.

As a kid, Christmas meant presents.

Thinking about presents. Making lists of presents.

And waiting. And waiting. And then waiting some more.

In my family, we opened gifts on Christmas Eve. We were so excited for days beforehand. And the day of Christmas Eve dragged on forever.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up so there were no extravagant gifts nor were there a lot of them. We usually got things we needed – pajamas, socks, a new alarm clock. But every now and then there’d be a stuffed animal or a board game – something really cool!

But it wasn’t the gifts themselves; it was the anticipation that made it so exciting. The days and hours leading up to Christmas Eve were almost unbearable.

At some point, we lose that child-like excitement and the holidays become a chore. Instead of a meaningful celebration, they’re about shopping, going into debt and overwhelming stress for too many people. It shouldn’t just be about surviving them.

It’s important to realize that the holidays don’t have to be anything other than what you want them to be. There’s no requirement that you celebrate a certain way. There’s no dollar amount that you have to spend, certain number of gifts to buy, or obligations that have to be filled.

It’s sad to see people stress over the holidays, complain about all they have to do and go further into debt. They dislike the obligatory get togethers, the money they spend and the chaos but feel powerless to change. They don’t realize that the stress is self-induced. We have complete control over how we celebrate.

The holidays are like anything else in your life. They can change and evolve. You don’t have to be locked into one way to celebrate them.

Your holiday celebration can be about family and being with those you love, but that doesn’t mean only the family you grew up with. The friends you surround yourself with and that you’re most connected to become a part of your family. This is a time to come together with those who mean the most to you, to reflect on your relationships and your life.

Make a commitment to spend less on gifts and more on worthwhile causes. Because really, at this point in your life, don’t you have pretty much everything you need?

Money’s tight and the economy’s been bad for longer than we care to remember. For many people, the thought of buying gifts is enough to send them reeling. So buy fewer or even no gifts and give more of your time.

Wouldn’t it be great if the holidays were more about giving “presence” than presents? We can all open our hearts and give of our time.

I don’t celebrate the holidays in a traditional way and haven’t for many years. Sometimes I spend it with friends and others I spend alone. My favorite Christmas in recent years was kayaking on Puget Sound. It was a gorgeous cold sunny day with no one around. A harbor seal followed me, diving under my boat. The sense of beauty, peace and contentment was awe-inspiring.

“I wish I could do that” is a comment I hear over and over again. Yet people are afraid to confront their habits and obligations, honor their desires and make changes. Just because a holiday’s always been celebrated a certain way doesn’t mean it’s right for you or that it always has to be that way.

You’re free to celebrate, give, and share your love in any way you want. Trust yourself to know what’s important to you and begin the evolution toward creating a truly meaningful celebration, with beautiful memories and a whole lot less stress.

I wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday!

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Nov 17 2011

How to Let Go and Embrace Simplicity

Peggy McPartland

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.
- Raymond Lindquist

Letting go isn’t easy.

It’s cold and the sun is setting. It’s been raining and the cedar boughs send their deep fragrance over me.

I stand alone, watching.

The gray SUV pulls out onto the road, the tail lights glowing in the darkening day. On top of it are two well used sea kayaks.

They used to be mine.

I feel a piece of my life heading down the road.

They represent who I am or was – a strong adventurous person. It’s as if I’m giving away my life piece by piece.

Letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.

Our belongings give us a sense of identity. We cling to them believing they represent our past, our history, and in some ways our life.

There’s strength in being able to let go. We can spend our lives acquiring things and never really feel as if it’s enough.

What you own is not who you are. It doesn’t define you as a person although it does feel like that at times.

Living more simply provides the freedom to open up to new experiences. If you’re less focused on acquiring, maintaining or hanging onto your possessions, you’re able to more fully focus on the things that bring joy and meaning to your life.

You’re not letting go of yourself; that stays with you. You’re only letting go of the things that no longer have a place in your life.

Imagine a future less cluttered and less encumbered. Imagine what life will look like living more simply.

Being settled in a simple space surrounded by your family, your friends and those things that truly have meaning will bring a deeper sense of joy than being in the most luxurious surroundings.

Rather than looking for external validation, strive to live fully and presently with a sense of openness. With that openness your creativity will flow more freely bringing a new clarity to your life.

Allow this simplicity to come from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. This isn’t about giving up anything, but making room in your life for what’s really important.

The familiarity of our things feels safe. Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything left. You’ll still have the things that are important yet feel freer and less encumbered.

Letting go brings a clearer sense of your authentic self. It adds lightness and joy, giving you more energy to fully interact with the world.

Ask yourself what your belongings represent to you. Are they enhancing your life or holding you back?

Discover what they mean to you and what letting go represents.

Let go bit by bit. Find creative ways to recreate the feelings those objects represent. Let go of the uneasiness of feeling as if you’ve lost a part of your identity.

You can make the choice to live a simpler life. The rewards are tremendous.

Today may be all you have. Do you want to spend this day crowded with excessive belongings or filled with rich experiences and the people you love?


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Photo credit: rickydavid, flickr

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