Story – Remind Yourself Every Day of Your Progress

by

Make a list of all the wonderful benefits and rewards you have realized over the last six months of challenges.

WOWO what a great list! The positives far outweigh the negatives, especially when measuring success in spiritual and human terms rather than economic terms.

The Story

In May, 2014, my first month of ‘new freedom’ I naively attempted to predict exactly how the coming months of the next phase of my life would unfold as I attempted to bring magnificent ideas into the world.

It’s been almost six months since I was given The Gift of an Abolished Position. 

  • First I’ll take a well-earned month’s vacation to launch and handy-work my 30’ sailboat in Toronto harbour.  
  • Then I’ll hangout on my modest Yacht (bought the year before) and have a few epiphanies as I spend the summer writing and curating cool content for my blog site that’s destined to get tens of thousands of hits within the first six months.
  • Finally, I will brilliantly craft my business plan and launch a consulting practice that’s sure to change the world as people line up to meet with me! — After all, and according to my big fat ego, I’ve managed over $130 million in project funding over the last decade so anything less than that should be a breeze right? 

WHACK! Stage left comes the biggest sucker punch and reality check the universe can deliver

Here’s how it really played out……

  • I spent three full intense months of what felt like pure hell doing messy fibreglass work in sweltering humidity, replacing deck hatches, upgrading hardware, stubbing my toes, draining my pocketbook and living in a confined cabin that felt more like a dusty tool-shed than a stately vessel on the water.-
  • With the exception a dozen really cool sailing experiences that looked magical on Facebook, make no mistake life was now physically and emotionally tougher!  I worked my ass off from dawn until dusk, invested hundreds of unpaid hours, thousands of dollars (originally slated for future housing) on upgrading my boat to a standard beyond reason or cost recovery.
  • Despite all this I knew intuitively I was on the right track by focusing on something that would pay off down the road. 

10 points for living life on my own terms – zero points for earning money or launching a business!

  • Then August and September were spent developing new (hit and miss) friendships while contemplating the meaning of life as I struggled with the perceived loss from being handed the end of the  opportunity to continue being part of a national cause driven organization.
  • I really thought that after 19 years of service my work ‘gig’ would last at least 12 more years until retirement. 

Oh sure I was making new friends that summer but soon realized that owning a cool sailboat is like walking the cutest puppy in the park. Everyone wants to be your friend and hangout with you until the dog pisses on someone’s leg. Or in my case when fall comes and the boat is hauled out and party time is over. 

Another 10 points for living life with zeal but another zero points for good economics. 

  • The next two months were spent taking special interest courses, studying, and allowing myself to get sucked into every distraction that came my way.
  • Meanwhile I was in serious denial over what seemed like a debilitating depression that could only be soothed by social media, self-inflicted make pretend busyness, and a big tub of chocolate ice cream. — What was happening to me!? 

Yup I was having a massive pity-party and no one was invited!  In fact there were days within the first six months after receiving my severance package whereby I could not even move off the couch. Fear, perceived loss, anger and confusion were all getting the better of me like the nasty flu the day before Christmas!  

Few Of My Expectations Were Ideally Met – Now What?

WOWO – I did not expect this at all because I’m usually a very ’together’ person!  To my saving grace I knew logically that despite the frustrations the universe was teaching me some sort of valuable, well needed lesson. As a practitioner of Vipassana Meditation, Muksha Yoga and sailing I was well aware on an intellectual level that everything is a temporary snippet in the ebb and flow of time. —This too shall pass!  — still my life sucked (or so I felt)

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer wrote Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Here he speaks to the 2nd Verse about ‘Living the Paradoxical Unity’ (pg. 9). 

“Beauty depends on something being identified as ugly…. A “duality belief system” depends on opposites. A person is not tall unless there’s a belief system that includes short. Life couldn’t exist without that of death.” He goes on to explain….Day is the opposite of night.  

These profound insights reinforced for me the importance of living openly with apparent duality and not fighting what is.

If opposites are the paradoxes of a unified life whereby experiences flow in and out like ocean tides then what on earth was my problem?  Simply put — all the nasty temporary shit I was going through meant I was alive and ‘living the paradoxical unity of life’ 

Let me sum it up for you; In a 6 month period few of my expectations were ideally met. My predictions were mostly wrong and I could not control the elements, and this was freaking out!   – Dan Trepanier

Despite my challenges I felt more alive and free than ever before

I was having an epic battle with ego (and slowly winning), facing my fears and living life on my own terms (careful what you ask for). Despite all the self-inflicted drama I had a roof over my head, a fridge full of food, was surrounded by people who appreciated my presence as I appreciated theirs. I was safe and well on my way to, as Maslow puts it  ‘becoming a self actualized person’.  — Still felt a bit lost!

The plot thickens…

  • Almost 7 months into the spiritual battle of my life I got up one morning and decided I couldn’t take the pressure of work uncertainty, lack of structure coupled with the ill-formed belief that I would go broke and die if I did not find a job soon.
  • All this despite the fact that I had no debt, enough savings to pay the bills for three more years, no dependants (except a few house plants), good health, and lots of love in my life. — So what was my problem?  

FEAR, FEAR, and more FEAR! 

That same morning I thought it best to work on a new resume, give in and start searching for a well-paying job as a national manager with another cause driven organization. As I gleamed through countless LinkedIn postings I felt his uneasy sensation in the pit of my stomach. Intuitively I sensed that applying for another gig in a large organization would pay the bills (allowing me to keep my savings intact) however,  I also sensed that working in the wrong type of hierarchical setting would  suck the life out of me and pull me away from living life on my own terms, doing what matters (to me) and launching my magnificent ideas.

The sad truth is that most people I talk to these days feel the same way but are simply too afraid or unaware to do anything about it! 

Getting a traditional job seems like the logical and right thing to do but at this juncture in my life the timing felt off. My partner had recently lost his job as well so we were both not bringing in new income. The pressure to go out and find a job with full benefits was immense!  What would you have done in this situation? 

  • Then it hit me — Why not just accept that at 54 years of age I would rather die or end up a penniless monk than compromise my integrity or dreams for a false sense of security via a $70K  pay check in the wrong type of setting. Or to put it another way. I wanted to spend my remaining work years enjoying more creativity, sharing more of my energy with my community, and continue surrounding myself with authentic people who value my presence while I consistently appreciate theirs! 

Life is never a dress rehearsal and the remaining years of my life are going to be lived on my own terms  — full stop no exceptions!

One caveat; If I’m lucky enough to find an organization who supports my definition of success then I’m all game but finding those types of organizations is like stumbling across a needle in a haystack on a snow-covered day! 

  • By December 2014 I was beginning to accept that I will do or die trying to live life on my own terms, even if the financial and material price I have to pay gets really painful along the way. 

Let me repeat this important point:

I will do or die trying to live life on my own terms, even if the financial and material price I have to pay gets really painful along the way.

Now if you are going to look at the downside of a proposition it’s equally as important to explore the upside (Remember Dyer’s concept of Paradox and Duality). 

  • I made a list of all the wonderful benefits and rewards I had realized over the last six months of challenges. WOWO what a great list! The positives far outweighed the negatives, especially when measuring success in spiritual and human terms rather than economic terms — something I was not use too doing. 

A big part of healing a debilitating irrational sense of depression and ill sided attitude is to ponder and appreciate the simple joys and pleasures of everyday life. I know this sounds a little trite and cliché but it’s an easier said than done. When one is mired in the muck of a self-employed, highly creative, somewhat quirky person always dealing with transition, there are going to be drama  — deal with it! 

For instance, I just spent a full day writing the first draft of this post not knowing if anyone would read it or even care what I have to say. Truth be told I simply felt like expressing myself and am convinced that someone out there will relate to what I’m saying and appreciate my perspective. If not bla bla bla move on!

The next step in my creative process is to read and record this piece and post it on my blog then hit my local Hot Yoga Studio, have a nice lunch, and visit a dear friend tonight. 

Tomorrow I’ll get up and start all over again in my quest to curate or create another piece of writing. Eventually I’ll have dozens, in not a hundred stories to share as I life on my own terms and do what matters 

You are the idea of yourself you choose to be. The idea of ourselves is a perpetual work in progress, and we might as well find a comfort in that. Remind yourself of it everyday.
Few people are aware of this, but If you pull the blanket over your head, you are not invisible and you still have responsibilities. The reason why I am saying this is to emphasize the importance of moving on when one era of your life seems to have ended. Crisis is a chance.

Take a look how I used a crisis as an opportunity to finally live life that matters.

Dan Trepanier

Certified, Personal Wellness Trainer