Life had decided in July that it would present our family with an August in which every aspect of our lives would converge to provide us with challenges of the highest level. I’m sure you’ve all had these moments. (I chose to use this term ‘moments’ here because that is exactly all that they are – a blimp in the flow of time; and this is the key to overcoming these challenges and celebrating their completions as a success!)
Recently Cindy and I had the month from hell – not bad, but extremely ‘full’ – and it provoked thought in me about celebrating the small challenges that accumulate to bigger wins and growth over time.
We are pretty busy at the best of times, but August certainly threw us some curveballs that we had to work hard to try and hit out of the park. I won’t bore you with listing our challenges, but I do want to share with you our celebration after weathering this storm. Cindy and I saw in July that on the horizon August was going to be tough, and we made some clear and organised commitments to each other about how we would tackle it. We know it was going to challenge us and we knew it was not always going to feel good all of the time. When we shared this challenge and acknowledged that it was going to be hard, we gave each other permission to struggle and experience discomfort together. As the old adage goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
As we come out of August and move into the month of demonstration in September, I feel charged and empowered by the difficulties that we as a family (and individually within it) faced in August and overcame together. The first message I guess I’d like to share from this is that when we acknowledge upcoming difficultly ahead of time, we name our fears and own our possible shortcomings in preparation. As a result, for us in August there was nothing left there to worry us; it was just up to us to ‘get the job done’ and withstand the difficulty. Some might say that we took the disempowering nature of fear out of the equation and replaced it simply with ‘the void’. Now, I’ll be honest, the month was hard, and at times unenjoyable… but that’s ok. Nothing grows in the shade, after all. But additionally, there were some pretty special moments that we were able to really experience fully and celebrate as we were not caught in the mindset of negativity throughout the month. Secondly, another idea I’d like to share is that every experience we encounter is momentary – there is a clear end to it all, good and bad; and wishing you could perpetually stay in any one of these states is misleading and unnatural. The Japanese have a lovely phrase that is relevant to this: ichi go ichi e. When we acknowledge this, we are more likely to be present and able to engage in a more positive mindset. After all, if we live in the future waiting for ‘when things are perfect or better’ or in the past engaging in thinking that “it would be better if only we could return to…’, then we find ourselves in a negative spiral chasing our tail, and constantly unfulfilled and unhappy searching for the unattainable. Also, we get nothing done because these ‘perfect moments or conditions’ don’t exist and waiting for these to appear in order to do something is fruitless thinking. The only time we can actually experience is now. Why waste it wishing you were somewhere else, even if the experience is hard and unenjoyable?