Archive for 2011

Crossing Over

{Time to let go and run wild! Photo taken by Desire to Inspire contributor Pixie Campbell.}

Expectations ~ they can make for many a perfect, sparkling fantasy in the wide expanses of my imagination, where the anticipation of how something is going to look, feel, taste, and happen can amplify unfettered. I use the phrase “I am looking forward to….” a lot, and if I’m using it, it is in relation to some kind of longed-for, hoped-for, planned-for experience:

“I am looking forward to the day this project is finished.”

“I am looking forward to the dinner I have planned with my friends.”

“I am looking forward to the day I can teach Tilda to fold laundry.”

Such imaginings are not inherently bad, but I have learned the importance of keeping them in check. I’ve also come to realize that no matter how much I try to manage these particular ribbons of thought, they are going to find a way to unfurl without my even noticing, until the day I physically step into whatever moment I have been looking forward to and run smack into a situation that looks nothing like I thought it would. Whether I decide an actual outcome is good or bad is irrelevant; the more important point is that it is different, often times wildly so, than what I had so carefully (or perhaps unconsciously) sculpted in my mind.

The glaring exception to this occurs when I travel. In no other circumstance in my life am I better adept at releasing expectations and literally going with the flow. Because I consider travel, particularly overseas, such a wondrous adventure, I am always more open to the twists and turns that each journey is going to offer me. It is not only fun and exciting to get my passport stamped, it is also thrilling to let go of so much of the control I delude myself into thinking I have under my own roof.

Ever since I signed a contract with North Light Books for the publication of my forthcoming book ~ Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World ~ I have considered it a journey of sorts. It has been a journey of writing and collaboration, where my work has been to explore and then (hopefully) clearly express some of my most deeply-held values with the help of nineteen amazing contributors. And it is the kind of project that, if I had not been especially vigilant, could have become so weighted down by expectations that when it came time to release it to the world, it might have hit the earth with the thud instead of gently setting off like a heron.

I do not know where Desire to Inspire will go. I do not know whether or not anyone will like it and I can’t predict whether or not it will lead to more book projects. With its now mere-days-away official release date*, I feel like I am getting ready to board a proverbial airplane (or rocket ship, or magic carpet, or what have you) with the book in hand, where an unknown adventure awaits us.

Whenever I go on a trip, the officially crossing over from journey preparation to journey commencement occurs when I get through the security screening at the airport. Once I’m through the scanners with ziploc baggie re-packed and shoes back on, any and all mental or actual to do lists melt away. I have done what I can do and prepared as much as I can, and if I’ve done my work, my only task from that point forward is to enjoy myself. In just a few days, Desire to Inspire will begin shipping from the North Light warehouse, and then the journey begins. Whatever happens will happen, and I’m just along for the ride.

* The official release date from North Light is November 22nd, so it should start popping up in bookstores and on Amazon 2-3 weeks later!

Christine Mason Miller is an artist, writer, and explorer from Santa Monica, California. The official book launch for Desire to Inspire will be held there on Thursday, December 15th. Click here for details and let her know if you’d like to join in the fun!

Set Yourself to Music

Dear Gypsy Girls. Bobbi and Roxanne and Jeanine’s posts this week make me proud to be here as part of this tribe. Beauty and brilliance abound. You are delightful.

Back in January I shared with you that my life is in transition, and that “How?” is not the right question for beginning major life transitions. Sometimes how is just logistics and hearing your soul’s own call is what’s more important. After the Dreaming on Pinterest, looking at every domain of life, battling the “Yeah, buts” that inevitably arise… then what?

Then life gets simple and very, very clear. Mine is made up of quiet moments with a sweet, old dog in the forest near home.

It’s made sweeter by flying across the Atlantic to join my Dad rooting for a football team he loves.

It’s spent working with leaders the world over who take time to thank me at day’s end. It’s full of laughter and communion in conversation with dear, long-time friends. It’s brimming with comfort knowing that this, right here, every day, is enough.

A friend said to me recently, “I’m not sure what you’re searching for: A partner? Financial stability? A permanent home?”

“Yes!” is my answer to all those questions. In the meantime I practice. I practice resilience and gratitude, resourcefulness and joy. I try to make a contribution and live my own, unique Adventure.

It seems to me there’s a delicate balance to strike between making things happen and letting things be, letting it rip and taking it easy, wandering these winding roads and cozying up at home, following our every wild whim and sharing our lives with others.

The way each one of us does that is an art form all its own. Oscar Wilde said:

“Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.”

What are you composing? Are you living your Adventure?

Rebecca travels globally pretty much non-stop and has a small apartment outside Zurich, Switzerland.

Take Two Aspirin And Call Me In A Year

I used to tell my patients that nothing in this life is a waste of time as long as we learn from it (people actually paid me for this). From the calendar I see that my 365th day in France is fast approaching and it’s time for this psychiatrist to swallow her own medicine and see the lessons learned from 12 months of wasted time.

While I’ve spent more than half my life being taught everything from algebra to the neurochemistry of schizophrenia, my year of ‘nothing’ has probably been the most educational one of my life. First, and by now this should come as no surprise, I’ve learned that I’m not very good with languages. But with that comes a newfound ability to be optimistic in the face of persistent failure. I also choose to see being constantly corrected by strangers as kindness, a trait that the French people I’ve met have in abundance. I speak and understand far more than when I first arrived so I’m giving myself a shiny gold star on that one.

I also discovered that it takes time for an obsessive overachiever to change her ways. I came looking to simplify my life yet within a month of arriving of I was fully entangled in yet another real estate drama. Now from my perfectly imperfect housette I see my many renovations for what they really were, an endless striving for perfection. House, career, car, thighs, it doesn’t matter. It was all a silly race with no possible finish line. And while I can’t take credit for things working out as they did here, I am proud of myself for finally accepting (and loving) a home just the way it is. If I can master ‘leave well enough alone’ by the time I leave this world I’ll be a happy woman.

So what about happy? After all my years of shrinking I’m still not sure what that word actually means. People define it as it suits them and far be it for me to advise anyone how to achieve it. Certainly to the casual observer my former life had all the necessary elements for happiness. And in all honesty I wasn’t unhappy, I just felt out of place in my own life and I needed to find where I belonged. I’m still working on where I fit exactly but I do know that my happiness has nothing to do with being called Doctor or the salary that goes with it. In fact going without has been one of my favourite lessons of all. Of course there are still times I feel that I may actually die without a black wool trench coat but then I remember something. I have everything I need.

Long before coming to France I gave some serious thought to leaving medicine in search of a new career. I even hired a consultant to help me understand what my options were. She stumped me with one question, “What would you like to do?” The trouble was I didn’t have the foggiest idea. I realized that apart from reading what I liked to do most was to go on vacation. I had no designs on becoming a ski instructor in Switzerland but when escaping your life becomes your major goal changes must be made. I considered going back to school but I was worn out and the idea of four more years in classrooms was profoundly unappealing. Then along came the opportunity here. Yes, it was still all about houses but at least they were other people’s houses and I thought it was a step in the right direction. As for how that turned out, well, no matter how hard I try to control my life merde happens. On the surface of things it looks like the lesson here is the tired and true ‘things happen for a reason’. But I see something more.

If I had to narrow it all down into one piece of wisdom it would be this: Sometimes you have to step away from the many things you have to do to find the one thing you want to do. What began as a personal diary and a convenient way to keep friends and family updated has grown into an all out passion. Before starting a blog about my adventures in France I had only written prescriptions. Over the past year I’ve written something almost every day and while I have to be careful not to apply my Type A ways to it, writing brings me a pleasure I never dreamed possible. For now it doesn’t matter if I’m any good at it, all that matters is that I feel good doing it.

Of course some will say that my story is nothing more than a grand exercise in self-absorption and they’d be right. Well so what? From where I sit my time has been well spent. Now I’m not so caught up in my own head to suggest that my way of learning things is practical for everyone. It’s not and my lessons are my own. But here’s something I’ve always known. Everything we need and desire can be found anywhere we choose to look for it. I chose France and found myself.

Bobbi French is a regular contributor to Gypsy Girl’s Guide