My (SidhefireArts) website started out as just an online space to share my art work. A few months ago I decided I wanted to start transitioning it to include other bits and pieces of my life and thoughts as well. “Life as art.” Well, and a better space than Facebook to share my “ranty bits.”
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how I got to this place in my life and the impact that all of my choices has had and continues to have. ALL of my choices, good and bad. I’ve also been really working towards trying to keep my current focus on making conscious emotionally healthy decisions for myself. That sounds easy enough, but it’s hard sometimes. Hell, it’s hard a LOT of the time!
It’s hard in moments of emotional overload to hold on to my temper and not let myself ~react~ out of pain or hurt. It’s hard to put down that shiny thing in the store that I want. It’s hard to say no to people I like when they invite me to go do things with them that sound like a lot of fun, but would put me in situations that wouldn’t necessarily be the healthiest for me.
Okay, all of that is sort of nebulous, what does it actually look like in my life? Today I wanted to write about some of the specific choices I have made and continue to make and how they impact on my life.
When I was 18 I chose to join the military, primarily because I wanted to be a writer. No really. It makes sense! I figured that if I wanted to just write the kind of books I wanted to AND I wanted to eat, I should make sure I would have an alternate source of income. So I joined the army with the intent of serving my 20 years and then retiring to a quirky little cabin in the woods where I would plunk out one novel after another on a vintage typewriter surrounded by stacks of books and maybe a cat or two.
Over the years my ideas of how I wanted to spend my retirement morphed into my current obsession with art; but my commitment to serving my time in the army and then letting the US Government support my pagan-hippie lifestyle stayed solid. Hey! I’ve earned my right to use my government sponsored retirement money in creative ways! Trust me. I’ve got all the “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” army stories you could possibly want, but I’ll tell those another time.
In the years leading up to my retirement I started doing a lot of thinking and planning about what I wanted my life to look like. I took a class at The Evergreen State College from Nancy Parkes and John de Graaf based on John’s book, “Take back your Time.”(http://www.timeday.org/) (I also highly recommend the book “Your money or your life.”) I took endless online “Quality of Life” interactive quizzes. I made lists of my priorities and values and then did time management worksheets to analyze whether or not I was living my life according to my stated goals.
The end result of all of this work (well, I don’t know if I can call it “end” since it’s really still in progress even now, 7? years after my retirement) is the “list of questions” I keep at the back of my thoughts to check in with when I’m making decisions. Is this healthy for me? Does it help someone else? How will this impact on the environment? Can I afford this and still not have to work to earn extra money? Does this integrate into my long range plan? (there’s a pretty long list)
This post is getting longer than I intended AND I have a garden waiting for me to come outside and continue my ongoing battle with the weeds so for now I’m just going to sum up with a list of some of my current decision priorities:
*Surrounding myself with people who support my positive emotional and spiritual health and growth. I consciously choose to have people in my life who “walk their walk”; people who make the same kind of choices I want to make in my life; People who choose the harder/better path over the easy/fun way; People who will hold me to a higher standard and encourage, inspire and cheer me on to a better me.
*Simplifying my life: I choose to buy all my clothing from thrift stores; to not have a car payment; to cut back on my material possessions (well, except for books.. I still have a book addiction); to focus on spending my time and money on shared experiences instead of on “things”; To barter instead of buy when possible; To live intentionally with others so that we can all have a higher quality of life for an average over-all less cost.
*Physical activity: I don’t go to a gym, but I try to stay active as much as possible. My physical and emotional health is SO MUCH BETTER when I get up, get out, get moving. Take a walk in the woods, clamber up and down that hill, work in the garden, dance-dance-dance.
*Immerse myself in my passions: Art! Permaculture! Organic gardening! Cooking healthy and yummy food! Camping! Adventures!
***And love. I think most of all, I choose to love. I love the people I get to surround myself with. I love feeling the ripples of impact spread out through the world from good choices and decisions and interactions. I love the experiences I get to have and I love getting to share those experiences with others. And I even love pulling weeds. Being in my garden is a form of meditation for me and I can hear it calling me right now with a voice that’s louder than the rest of the words I was going to type into this blog post.
~~To be continued~~