What’s the face you make when you’re not making a face? When you’re not feeling a particular emotion – no sorrow, gladness, anger, joy, surprise or heart melting love? I noticed today on my ferry commute across the harbour that the majority of my fellow passengers seemed to be wearing a slight frown. Universal brows were a bit furrowed, jaws were somewhat clenched and lips held in a straight line.
It got me wondering . . . what’s my resting face? What emotions do I unconsciously convey when passing by thousands of other people each day? Without needing to pass a mirror I considered the muscles in my face. And sure enough, my forehead was a bit tight and my teeth were firmly planted together. Ever so gently as I tuned in I relaxed a few facial muscles and microscopically urged the corners of my mouth in an upward direction. And suddenly, everything felt a bit brighter and lighter.
Its worth noting that not every face on the ferry looked a bit glum. There were a few sparkling examples of people holding the same expression I had just found. And they weren’t transfixed with the latest captivating cat pic on their phones, or scanning global headlines, instead they were simply sitting peacefully and occasionally even making eye contact with others.
So my new challenge is to consider my neutral face a bit more often throughout the day. To tune in and turn up the corners of my mouth. Because wouldn’t it be JOYful if every person we passed was shining just a little bit brighter?
I love a good list. Particularly a ‘to do’ list. Part of the beauty is being organised, another sliver is about focus and motivation and perhaps the juiciest bit is having a sense of divine accomplishment when you’re able to cross off a recently completed item. Lists are frequent companions to my life. I use them at home and at work and even when I go away on holiday.
Recently, away in Byron Bay, I was contemplating my holiday ‘list’ with none of my usual zest. Instead of feeling luxurious, inspiring and open to possibilities, my list felt dull and contained with walls built too high to allow in chance and pure merriment. It made me reflect about my lists in general. How much do they guide my daily actions? Am I filling my time with tasks that offer me the chance to cross off an item on a piece of paper? What about pure randomness and being open to anything that might be around the corner? What about filling your day with an agenda that doesn’t include a single pre meditated item?
I took the leap. List forgotten I simply tuned into my body and asked what it was that would bring me the most pleasure in that moment – after all, I was on holiday. And it wasn’t yoga, and it wasn’t a run on the beach, and it wasn’t even diving into a great book. Instead, I just wanted to stroll along the never ending beach and listen to waves, birds and rain drops. And that’s how my day unfolded. Nothing was time pressured, nothing had been pre determined as a next move and that nothingness was quickly filled with little chapters of JOY.
I’m back home and still compiling my ‘to do’ lists. But a shift has taken place. I’m also creating more space just to be and let the day unfold.
In our world independence seems to be applauded. In fact recently I had a sweet friend connect with me as she sees me as living a rather independent life and she was hoping I could help direct her to do the same.
The notion of independence is complex and I turned to my trusty resources – not google, but my bookshelf. Several wise souls have pondered on independence and one that struck a chord for me was the idea of healthy and unhealthy independence. Being unhealthy in a state of independence shows up as being rather isolated and protecting oneself – withdrawing and building walls around your emotional being. This often stems from a past wound – typically connected to love and the heart. I know people like this – heck, I’ve been this person! They can clearly be labelled as independent, not relying on others and forging their own path, yet they can keep people just at arms length as a barrier to potential pain.
Conversely, healthy independence is described as a confidence in your core being. Knowing you are lucky, loved and loveable. When you can live from this place you’re not constantly reliant on external forces to prop you up and you’re free to spread JOY without expectation.
If it follows there are two different undercurrents for living an independent life – one from pain and the other from confidence, its also interesting to look at the source or starting point for these behaviours and beliefs. I know for me I had an independent streak at a young age. Solo endeavours filled my days as I climbed trees, explored the woods, read books, talked to the ghosts in the nearby cemetery, and spent my free time with animals of all sorts. But this early display of independence could have been nothing more than a phase if I hadn’t witnessed great cases of dependent relationships. Through their interactions I saw compromises played out on a grand scale and slowly the loss of the individual self – self belief and self worth both slowly eroded. In their place, thin layers of fear and grasping seemed to take hold. I remember with great clarity knowing that I didn’t want a similar life for myself. Consequently, the foundation of independence took hold. So perhaps independence can grow from a combination of both pain and confidence. I know for me, its all ultimately a source of my JOY.
Given the choice, I know which version I want to manifest. . .