What’s in a decade?

I thought I’d sit down and take stock since, after all, just about every social media feed has been telling me to do so for the past couple of weeks.

I clicked open my Pictures file and scrolled down to 2010. I then opened up my journal and wrote Last Decade at the top of the page and 2010 in the margin. I began viewing the photos and writing down the highlights of each year: trips, graduations, sports events, publications, relatives…

Once I’d finished, I mulled over the list. Wow! I realized that the past decade was rich in learning and insights, mainly around three themes.

#1. The Value of Life

In 2016, my husband Vincent went into the hospital for a day operation. The doctors wanted to do an angioplasty (insert stents into the arteries). When Vincent was wheeled back to his room, he said, “They have to keep me at the hospital. I’m going to have an operation this week”.  Less than three days later, he had multiple by-pass surgery. While he was in the ICU, I realized that life is as close as a heartbeat away. One millisecond it is there; the next it may not.

We both came away with a different point of view on life, and a new drive to make every moment count.

#2. The Value of Family

The same year, in 2016, I had the wonderful privilege of meeting biological relatives on my father’s side in England in 2016 (I was unable to meet my father since he had already passed away when I found him). It was amazing to feel the connection that we had even though I hadn’t been brought up with them. It was palpable. My husband and sons couldn’t deny the metaphysical link that they saw especially between my aunt and cousins.

A year later, in July of 2017, since my biological mother had moved back to Montreal, she accepted to meet me for the first time ever. During the three days we spent together, we went out for coffee, went shopping and talked about so many things. It was precious – doubly- so since I lost her to cancer less than two months later.

That was painful because I had just found her. But I take comfort in the fact that I was able to meet a number of other biological relatives on her side of the family that still live in Montreal.  

Hers wasn’t the only death I experienced this past decade. I lost two brother-in-laws and an uncle, too. Death separates us from family members we love, but life continues and gives us the wonderful opportunity to keep strengthening the bonds with those we still have.

#3. The Value of Breathing

This has undoubtedly been the decade that I learned the importance of breathing. Through learning and practicing mindfulness, meditation and Bodyflow (a combination of TaiChi, Pilates and yoga), I have experienced the amazing the healing and restorative benefits of breathing deeply: heightened awareness, more powerful stress management skills and greater emotional balance.  

Learning to breathe changes everything! The more I learned about it from books, practice and courses I took during my certificate in Developmental Psychology, the clearer I became on who I was and what I wanted. I retired from teaching in the school system and embarked on a career change process (which was ironic since I only just officially earned my teaching permit in 2011, after over 20 years in and out of various teaching capacities.) I just didn’t want to work in an environment whose values didn’t match my own.

I am now trained in mindfulness meditation and coaching so that I can help others develop their own mindfulness lifestyle and experience the benefits.

In conclusion, my backward look leaves me with the insight that it isn’t the trips, nor the professional, personal or academic achievements that give me the greatest buzz. It’s being able to look forward to celebrating 30 years of marriage with my husband Vincent in three weeks, seeing my sons Nick and Olivier develop and thrive in their personal and professional lives, and helping others live mentally healthier and happier over the next ten years.

What about you: what are your greatest take-aways from the past decade? And what are you looking forward to in the new decade? Drop a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers, and keep learning!  

Claire xx

[Photo Credit: Nacho Juarez/Pexels]

Do you believe in what you’re doing?

Why does it matter? More like: why doesn’t it matter?

I was having a conversation with one of my adult sons about personal work choices. I suppose he was trying to figure out my mindset. 

It got me thinking. I realized that at some point I made a decision to only do work that I believed in. Why?

Well, show me someone who believes in what they’re doing. Then show me someone who doesn’t believe in what they’re doing. Here’s what I came up with.

A person who believes in what they’re doing feels energized, excited, passionate, perseverant, part of something bigger than them, and positive about the future.

On the other hand, a person who doesn’t, will probably feel drained, tired, unmotivated, disconnected, anxious, overwhelmed and responsibility-bound.

Okay, then, so how do you know you’re doing what you believe in (other than how you feel)? I think you could consider these questions:

Does your work:

  • Reflect your deepest convictions?
  • Match your dearest personal values?
  • Utilize your key strengths (if you don’t know what they are, I encourage you to do the survey at the following link: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/testcenter. Scroll down to the Via Survey of Character Strengths.)
  • Let you contribute to a mission you really care about?
  • Make you feel like you’re inching closer to your dream?

I have already been in a work situation where I thought I was doing all those things, but realized after assessing my physical and psychological well-being, that I was definitely off track. I left and have no regrets.

Life is short. It seems there isn’t enough time to do anything but what you really care about for those you really care about. In any case, how can either employee, employer or clientele benefit from a situation where a square peg is trying to fit into a round hole?

What’s your take on this: how do you know you’re doing the right job?  

Have a great week!

Cheers!

Claire :o)

[Photo credit: Shutterstock/Scott Norris Photography]