Setting Clear Boundaries for 2016

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

“Setting boundaries is a way of caring for myself. It doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring because I don’t do things your way. I care about me too.”
~ Christine Morgan

 

2016 is a very important year, for many reasons. One is that it is a foundation year. Our choices in 2016 will set the tone for the next nine-year cycle, magnifying the energy of our thoughts, activities and interests from 2016, and delivering more of that in the coming years.

Think about that for a moment.

Whatever we choose (or by default don’t choose and simply let happen), we’ll be signing ourselves up for more of that in the years to come.

How do you want the next decade to look?

Like the years you’ve just been through? Or something different?

2016 is a year where it benefits us to make space for what is meaningful to us. It’s not enough to simply think about what we want. It’s time to start incorporating the activities and actions that will shape the unfolding of our lives in ways that are pleasing to us. We don’t even need to make wholesale and radical changes – we simply need to make sure that if something is important to us we make a little room for that in our lives in 2016. We only need to make a start, and then consistently keep having that thing show up in our year through conscious choices (that may end up becoming new habits!).

Boundaries become important. As we create time for ourselves and our dreams we must also guard that time so that it is not eroded by old habits of always putting others or unimportant stuff first. The boundary is not just there for others, it is also there for ourselves.

Boundaries create protected spaces. These spaces let us and the world know that something here is important. Those protected spaces reflect our values, our emerging priorities, our precious projects and relationships.

Boundaries are about us saying yes to what matters, and ensuring that what matters is represented in our daily lives.

Boundaries are also about us saying no. No to the relationships, behaviours, thought patterns and beliefs that take us away from our values and what matters most to us. No to the circumstances that limit or harm us, or that needlessly waste our energy and time.

As adults we have choices. 2016 is a great year for exercising those choices.

In 2016, what will you choose?

Image from quotesvalley.com

Image from quotesvalley.com

Lovely, Lovely 3am

moonlight

“You were born and with you endless possibilities, very few ever to be realized.  It’s okay.  Life was never about what you could do, but what you would do. ”
~ Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year

 

Every day, since I was around twelve years old, I have risen early to meditate, to write, and to reflect on my day before the rest of the world wakes up. That quiet time is my gift to myself, and I have come to value it as sacred time.

Today, the day after my birthday and the first day of my new year, I am awake more early than usual. I wanted to reflect on my year ahead. What that might mean for me. How I would shape these coming days. What choices I might make.

If I am the Captain of my own ship, then I must set my own direction.

I grew up in an era where I was told that girls could do anything. That my life would be a whirling dance party of endless opportunity. That makes me smile now, thinking back. There is such hope and breath-taking naivety in that assumption. Perhaps it’s true that you can have anything. But in choosing one thing it often precludes others. No-one ever talked about that!

Image by Vladimir Pervunesky

Image by Vladimir Pervunesky

So here I am, standing in the doorway of another year. What a privilege to have these days stretch out before me. Having lived on the cusp of demise so long, it buoys me up to think that the quality of these next three hundred and sixty-five days may be better. That I may enjoy improved health, more energy, and a brain that can grapple with the bigger questions.

Life has certainly been a big teacher for me. Lyme disease, left undiagnosed so long, has until recently left me rendered down to so few possibilities and functionalities.

This year, as I contemplate the advancing year and how I may best use it, I am able to be steered by my values. What’s important to me. What actions, philosophies and relationships matter to me.

There is great comfort in that. And that comfort has been won by so many years of early mornings, of quiet reflection, of painful self-examination and wordless wonderings.

I have whittled down all of those endless possibilities into a handful that have meaning for me. Later today I will sit with my journal and a pot of tea, and create a map for myself, steering me toward what matters, and away from what doesn’t.

How about you?

Do you ever gift yourself time for reflection? Do you actively make choices about the person you wish to become, and the life you desire to lead?

It’s not too late. You can start today.

There is something precious in honouring the finite choices of our life. There is power in choosing this thing over that thing. Our choices are how we shape ourselves. Making choices consciously is how we claim back our emotional and spiritual centre, turning life into a delicious adventure.

Your life, like mine, is a precious gift. I’m excited to be unwrapping the beginnings of another year.

Bless xx

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Night Flying and Cups of Tea

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”  ~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

The next installment of my Kimberley story…

Do you know what it’s like to sit in a bush kitchen with a barefoot old aboriginal lady in a faded pink dress – a lady you’ve never met, but who you’ve dreamed about in vivid detail?

It’s a spin out. It’s a crazy feeling that makes you feel tissue-paper thin, like if you breathe too deeply you’ll just bust yourself to pieces and drift away on the wind.

The day that Auntie turned up at the remote outback cattle station I called home, my life changed forever.

While the aboriginal stockman and his brother made a fire to cook the big fresh mudcrabs they had brought, Auntie and I sat down together and drank strong, sweet tea. Mug after mug, pot after pot. At first she didn’t say anything much, just drank her tea and ate the cake I had put out on a plate for her. Then she asked about my family, and where I had grown up. What about my parents? My grandparents? She wanted to know what my ‘country’ was like. And where had my people (family) come from when they all came to Australia in the boats, back in the old days?

We sat on chairs under a tree by the river, not far from the fire, and in view of the main staff dining room. The afternoon shadows drew long, and soon the stockmen and station-hands began to gather for their evening meal. My partner at the time came to see if I was coming in for dinner. Things were strained between us so he didn’t linger when I said I was staying outside to talk with Auntie.

crab I was almost beginning to think I had imagined the whole flying-through-the-night-sky-holding-Auntie’s-hand thing when she said, “So, girlie, you like our night-time trip?”

My cheeks flamed with embarrassment. What could I say? Would speaking about it make it more real, or less? What if some of the staff heard what we were talking about? Not sure what to do, I smiled.

“Your grandmother, your women-folk, they tell you about dis thing? They take you in the sky?”

“No.” My voice was small, hesitant. It didn’t sound like my own. It was as if I was brimful of tears and if I opened my mouth any wider or said anything else I would dissolve into a puddle of salt water.

Auntie sighed and patted my hand. “No one help you with dis thing? No one get you ready?” She seemed puzzled, perhaps even a little sad. She sighed again and shuffled her feet in the dirt.

The sky filled up with stars.

When the crab was ready we feasted together in companionable silence. The two men stayed by the fire, drinking beer and eating. Others joined them but Auntie and I stayed where we were, under the tree. P1010139 My partner came out of the dining room, and called to me, “You coming, Nic?”

I shook my head and he trudged off. I felt guilty, and part of me wanted to run after him, but the rest of me was glued to the spot.

“Dat your fella?” Auntie asked, inclining her head.

I nodded.

She shook her head, her mouth a grim line. “Dat all finish. You be dat ting, it all finish.” She made a wiping motion with her hands and a clicking noise with her tongue. Her face became very serious. “Finish. Understand?”

In my heart I did.

If I kept sitting here, I was making a choice. She was giving me a choice.

I was so far from home, so far from everything that had shaped me or made my life make sense. Out here I was drowning in loneliness, so far from fitting in, so far from everything familiar. Out here I was someone else. I was something else. And I couldn’t seem to make it stop. I didn’t want to make it stop.

The stockman came over with his big yellow torch, In his other hand he held a flask of tea, and an unopened packet of sweet biscuits. He looked at Auntie, but didn’t say anything. It still seemed as if they were having a conversation, the air thick with their thoughts.

She wiped her hands on her dress and stood up. “You come up country, okay? Come sit with me at my place. We got plenty to talk about.”

I stayed sitting on the plastic chair, my hands gripping the sides tightly, as if I might fall off if I didn’t hang on. I made my choice. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll come visit you.” I had no idea what I was agreeing to. It felt bold and reckless and a little bit stupid. I felt drunk with the fullness of what I’d just done.

“Good,” said Auntie. “But I see you first. Take you flying some more. Show you some things.” She chuckled, and cradled my face in her hands. “You got the stories in you. Plenty stories. Old stories. Dat’s your magic.”

She pinched my cheek, hard enough that it stung. “Gonna make big-time magic, girlie. You dat ting.” Auntie said it happily, smiling so that her whole face lit up, and she tapped me hard on the breast bone as she said it, just above my heart.

 

All of a sudden my heart was racing. I felt a wild heat coursing through my body. It looked like the night was lit up with sparks. There was no way I could stand up.

“Don’t go walkin’ in the night-time alone with dem owls, okay?” Auntie said sternly as she left.

“Okay.” I didn’t know what else to say. Something big had just happened and I didn’t even know what it was, but I felt it, right down to my bones.

And those big old owls, they just kept watching…

What happened to the Sisterhood?

Image from www.demotix.com

Image from www.demotix.com

“Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive.”  ~ Marya Mannes

I briefly thought about titling this post ‘Sisters, don’t be Bitches!’…

It is somewhat surprising to me – as a child of the eighties, growing up with the work of the suffragettes and feminists behind me, and my future status as an equal citizen in the world presumed – that now in 2013 I am writing, not about men, but to other women.

Sisters!  Wake up!

Feminism and the Women’s Movement was about giving us choices. We can vote or choose to become an elected representative of government ourselves. We have access to education and we can choose a path of study.  We can choose to marry. We can choose to have children or not.  We can choose to go to work or stay at home with a family. Or we can do both. We can choose to be a florist, a pole-dancer, a bio-physicist. We can choose high heels or sensible flats. Cosmetic surgery or au naturale. That’s the whole point. We get to choose.

Duh, I hear you say.  I know that, Nicole.

Well, that’s good.  But there’s another part to this equation. We get to choose but the flipside of this is that feminism won’t work if we then judge each other’s choices.

We need to stick together here. There’s no right or wrong, only choices. We need to support each other, and our right to make choices, to be individuals, and to forge our own paths.

A woman is not a better woman because she stays home with her children. She is not a better woman because she works. She is not worse for having no children, or for having six. She is not lesser for being a bad cook, a poor housekeeper, or ambitious in the workplace. She is not more because she has a trim figure, sex appeal or fashion sense. A woman is just who she is – an individual making choices.

The media is full of judgments and statements about women, and what a ‘good’ woman, an ‘ideal’ woman, a ‘healthy’ woman, a ‘sexy’ woman should be like. That’s a dangerous thing to buy into. When we start saying this is ‘good’ and this is ‘bad’ we erode each other, and we undo all the work that was done to enable us to have these choices in the first place.

Stepford Wives image from www.blogs.tribune.com.pk

Stepford Wives image from www.blogs.tribune.com.pk

The truth is that women still do the lion’s share of child-raising, housework, care-giving and looking after elderly parents. On top of careers. On top of personal interests, relationships and friendship maintenance.

We all take different paths and there are many more paths available to us now, but one thing needn’t change. Traditionally, women have supported each other. Grandmothers, elders, aunties, mothers, sisters, friends – they’ve come together to help each other with child raising, families, relationships, nursing the sick, cooking, creating, connecting and grieving. They have shared their wisdom and skills with one another, and enabled those with particular interests or skills to shine, while holding up those who are walking a difficult path. That is one of the magnificent things about being female – this long tradition of support, emotional connection and caring.

It costs nothing to give encouragement or kindness. Respecting each other and our individual choices makes the journey easier and more satisfying for all of us. And it sets an important example for future generations.

We’re living in extraordinary times. And so much of what we enjoy and take for granted has come about from the efforts of strong and determined women who wanted more for themselves, their sisters, their friends and their children.

Our society is made beautiful through this amazing tapestry of diversity. And that diversity is created from the right to choose.

Choice is important to all of us. It’s a basic human right.

Men make choices all the time and are not greatly judged or examined by their peers for their actions.

So why should women treat each other so differently?

Sisters, I’m asking you – support each other and our right to choose.  Celebrate that diversity and the many options we can take in our lives. And if what another woman chooses is different from you, that’s okay.  In fact, it’s wonderful. We are not just women – we are people.  Individuals. No two the same.

Most of us wish for more support and connection in our lives. It starts by suspending judgement and extending kindness and respect, especially to other women. Imagine the world we can co-create founded on that energy!