Hey Travel Family,
It must’ve been around this time five years ago I walked out the doors of my old office building for the very last time. Truthfully, I didn’t know if it would be my last time. I hoped Little Grey Box would grow and everything would work out but I really had no guarantees. All I knew for sure was that I couldn’t stay where I was for even a single day more.
The time leading up to finding the courage to leave my job and the five years since were supposed to be about building Little Grey Box. Funnily enough, they ended up also being about building myself. I thought I was embarking on a journey to go after my dream job but what I was really doing was going on a journey of, dare I say it, self-discovery! Cliche but so accurate it’s not even funny.
I had to do so much work on myself and I didn’t do it alone. I worked with a life-coach and started reading books she recommended. I connected with new people and started talking more with supportive friends and family already in my life. I started journalling, writing, creating and tapping into the things that fill me up. I started being honest with myself and the world around me, working on my self-confidence and finally trying to get an understanding of my power, who I really am, what my dreams are and how to trust myself and the world around me.
The past five (and a bit) years have been as much about working hard on my business as they have been about working hard on myself. But, as I shared here at the start of this year, that period of learning and growth is over and I’m at the start of a brand new one. It took me a while to grasp this because I kind of figured I’d learn a whole lot of lessons and then take that and run with it and life would be smooth sailing from then onwards. I didn’t quite realise life is cyclical and that includes cycles or periods of growth and learning, another important lesson in itself.
During our annual planning day, where we sit down and figure out our personal and professional goals for the next 12 months, I realised this next cycle of learning needed to start with me connecting with my ‘higher self.’ That can mean a lot of different things to different people but for me a big part of it is about getting out of my head and being present. I over-think and over-feel just about everything! It can be a great thing, especially when it comes to researching and planning our work shoots or empathising with others. But it can also be a bad thing, like when I’m laying in bed at night unable to sleep because my mind just won’t slow down and my anxiety grows and grows until I feel guilty, ashamed or stressed.
Since the year started I’ve had the words, ‘higher self,’ floating around my mind. I’ve known it’s what I’m supposed to be working on but have kind of struggled to do it. I made a start by meditating more and doing guided breathing exercises – if you need a great app to help you like I did, I’ve been using ‘Oak.’ It has a few free guided meditations and breathing exercises as well as unguided ones you can customise. It also tracks your sessions, which I like because it keeps me motivated not to skip one, lest I break my ‘streak!’
While that was a great start, it still didn’t feel like I was making progress or really doing the soul work I was supposed to be doing. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I remembered the name, Eckhart Tolle. I remember hearing about his book, ‘The Power of Now,’ many years ago when Oprah was raving about it and it subsequently became a big thing. I went down to the shops, found the very last copy (on sale!) and took that bad boy home. Truthfully, I put off starting reading it for a few weeks because sometimes, when you know you’re at the start of a big journey, it can be intimidating to make a start.
Last week I decided to stop procrastinating and just get started on the book. As I always do with books of this nature, I marked the inside of the cover with the date I started reading it. I use the same pencil or highlighter to mark key sentences or phrases that resonate with me as I go and make notes in the border. That way, when I re-read it again in a year or two I can see my progress. I can clearly see the things that were troubling me or the thoughts I was having at the time and, hopefully, when I do re-read it, I’m able to have a little chuckle at how far I’ve come since then.
Unsurprisingly, the book has been challenging. It has been wonderful and full of information but also challenging in the very best way. I already know it’s exactly the right book to help me connect with my higher self and it’s handing me one heck of a cosmic butt kicking! My approach has been to take it slow. I read a small part and let it marinate my soul. Books like these have a tendency to be overwhelming as you can often read all about what you’re supposed to do and feel like, ‘How the heck am I supposed to do all of that?’ I mean, reading it is pretty much like reading a very confronting list that could aptly be titled, ‘All the ways you’ve been self-sabotaging and doing shit wrong for the last 32 years.’
But, like I said, I’m taking it slow and digesting it bit by bit. This week, I’ve been applying the concept of being present when my mind and emotions try to run the show. My mind is a great problem solver and it loves puzzles and things to fix, which is a great and useful thing. But it seems it has been allowed to run free and I’ve been letting it do whatever it likes. My approach this week has been simply to take notice of this and to be present and observe my mind at work. I’ve also been doing the same thing with my emotions.
At first, I couldn’t get the hang of it. My mind is so used to going off in a million different directions at once and my emotions are used to popping up and doing whatever the heck they want whenever they feel like it too. I guess I hadn’t quite realised how disconnected my higher self had become. I guess I didn’t even know my higher self could be connected to my mind and emotions and how powerful that would be. For so long, I’ve felt like my ability to problem-solve really well and think a situation through thoroughly defined me. I’ve always been the person to think five steps ahead of others and pre-empt their needs. I’d come to believe that was my identity and letting go of it wasn’t an option because it would mean losing myself. In that way, I encouraged my mind and anxiety. I empowered them because I believed they made me great.
Eager to grow, I kept trying to be present and observe my thinking mind and emotional self but when you do the total opposite for many years, it’s hard to retrain yourself. I found myself feeling overwhelmed and suddenly very aware that something like this could take years to get the hang off, if at all. Then my mum rang, requiring my assistance as her go-to IT/Tech Support person. Fresh out of ideas to solve her problem I ended up on the phone to an actual Tech Support person and, without even realising it, I found myself doing the thing I’d been trying so hard to do all day.
As I spoke with the person on the phone, I found myself present and aware. Instead of letting my mind run the show and become so deeply fixated on the problem at hand I lost sight of everything else, I simply watched my mind work. By being present, I was more grounded and didn’t get lost in my thoughts, consumed with stress, frenzy and worry. What shocked me most is how calm I felt, as though I had more time. It put everything into perspective. Just as it clicked in my mind that I was doing the very thing I’d felt was impossible, I was put on hold and greeted by the most triumphant hold music I’ve ever heard! I felt like Rocky, if Rocky was on hold and making steps toward working on himself as a person.
I’ve still got a very long way to go but it feels so good to have finally made a start, found the right book to kick things off and had a small victory, a sign that it really is possible to do this. I’m so tired of living in my mind, of re-living the past or getting lost dreaming of the future. I’m sick of over-thinking things and letting myself get so stressed, anxious and frustrated that it ruins my whole day. There’s no way of knowing how long this next cycle of learning, growth and change in my life will take or what it will bring. But, I’ve no doubt, it’ll only make my life and Little Grey Box that much better, just as the last five years have.
Have a great weekend and I’ll speak to you next Friday.
Love, Phoebe x