The Power of Balancing The 3 C’s: Consuming, Creating and Connecting
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama XIV
Over the past several weeks, I have been overwhelmed in countless ways. I am feeling things I never knew possible, I am thinking thoughts that are incredibly foreign to me and I am constantly reminded that every single plan I had for my future is no longer truth. My life (as I knew it) was stripped from me without a moment’s notice. There’s a lot of redefining, adjusting and discovering that needs to be done.
While I knew it was really important to be around my family and friends when I got back to the US, I also had this pull to “get away” the moment I got home. I know some of that was avoidance and wishing that this was not my new reality. Part of me believed (and still does) that maybe if I go away, it won’t be real. Another factor is that my physical body is not supposed to be here right now. It’s as if my body knows it is supposed to be exploring in Australia at the moment…
So after Scott’s Tribute, I decided to go on a personal retreat. Many people were worried that it was too soon, some thought I was crazy and others just didn’t get it. Some people would never choose to spend 3 nights alone in any situation – so why and how would I do this now?
And in all honesty, I have every excuse to sit in bed for 6 months every day and cry (and there are plenty of times I do!) and I have every reason to spend all my waking moments around other people. No one would likely tell me I was crazy if I did that.
But there was something inside of me that knew I needed some focused time to look inwards. I wanted to have a long talk with the Universe. I needed to answer some questions about this new life I have ahead of me. And I also really wanted to create some space to read all the amazing tributes you guys wrote about Scott.
So I set out to Napa (wine country, especially in the Fall, is one of my happy places) on my own for a few nights to reflect, to feel and to discover.
I went with a very clear intention. To find an equal balance of:
- Creating (writing, thinking, feeling)
- Connecting (for me this meant with nature and with people) and
- Consuming (reading).
The balance of these three things is something that Scott and I talked a lot about over the years and I have to admit that while I focused on it before, the power that came out of finding this balance over the course of those few days really surprised me.
We live in a world where it is so easy to get information and do nothing with it. I could read book after book as about 50 of them have been given to me over the past few weeks. I could constantly surround myself with others because that is way easier to do than to feel the way I feel at times. And I could do nothing with the thoughts and emotions that are flowing through my head all day long because they are just too scary and confusing.
But to me, to live is to feel. To be present in the moment. To discover myself. To learn. To grow. I don’t want to just cope, I want to feel alive again one day.
I work in a very scheduled way so I literally blocked the time off on my calendar each day.
Here is how my days were structured:
#1 – Creating
My mornings were my time to meditate, write and just be one with how I was feeling. The focus here was creating. I wrote my thoughts and feelings. I wrote how I envision myself spending my days. I wrote about the things I am good at and not so good at. I wrote thank you emails and messages to people. I wrote blog posts and thoughts about LYL. I created charts and ideas and visions for what my future might look like. I created with words and with my mind.
#2 – Connecting
As I mentioned earlier, the connecting part was two fold for me during this specific trip because I really wanted to be out in nature but not completely isolated. I specifically stayed in a place that was a Bed and Breakfast so that I could be around people during the breakfast hour and every evening during a daily complimentary wine tasting. To be with nature, I went on hikes and biked around the vines. I also made the effort to go out to dinner and sit at the bar in the evening. I never knew how thankful I was for restaurants with bar seating until now!
#3 – Consuming
And finally, I spent every afternoon with some scheduled time to read. I would turn off my phone, I would shut down my computer and just read. This part of the process is a really important part because we don’t know it all on our own. We need to learn from others. We need to be inspired in order to create and connect.
Recalibrating & Finding Your Inner Compass Again
Spending three focused days finding the balance between consuming, creating and connecting left me feeling more in alignment with my true self. Even in the wake of the uncertainty I am feeling, I was equalized. It felt more in touch with my inner compass instead of focused on external factors. It left me feeling hopeful and guided rather than lost.
While my case is definitely an exaggerated one, this balance is important for all of us because it is so easy to:
- sit on the internet and read inspiring story after inspiring story and never do anything about it
- bury yourself in work and never spend any time with your friends or family
- sit and watch TV and never think or feel or create or connect with anyone or anything.
But in doing the stuff that is not so easy – thinking, feeling, creating – we truly find ourselves:
- We learn a little more about what we do and don’t like.
- We learn to act with intention instead of just reacting to life.
- We learn to know and love ourselves.
- We learn that we do have things that light us up even when we feel like that light has been extinguished.
Every night in Napa I chose to go to dinner on my own. I could have stayed in and had room service to avoid the awkwardness. But I also know myself enough to know that food brings me joy, especially delicious food paired with good wine.
To me a meal represents so much more than just something to eat.
Over time that relationship with food grew into something both Scott and I loved, but it’s also something that has always been a huge part of me. Something that makes me feel uniquely me.
And to be honest, the first two nights of eating out on my own were very hard. But by the third night, I was able to take a small step back. I was able to hear the music in the restaurant. I was able to see the world going on around me. I was able to rediscover the enjoyment I feel around meal times, even if only for a moment at a time. Enduring the not so easy stuff allowed me to be able to connect the dots backwards.
I began to realize that when I feel brave, I feel proud. Pride is something that exists between and because of people. Rarely are you proud all on your own. It is shared with someone else. So in doing things that make me feel proud, I feel like Scott would be proud. I know he would be proud of me for being me! And when I feel that pride, it makes me feel empowered and hopeful.
I think it is important for all of us to be intentional with how we spend our days. Yes, everyday might not be a perfectly equal balance as that is not just realistic but look at a week or a month.
Do you spend all your time looking at the internet and never creating, thinking or feeling anything? Do you spend all your time creating things but never connecting with anyone else?
One important thing to note here is that we live in a world of instant gratification. We can put a thought or idea out into the world, and within seconds we receive gratification through a like or a comment or a response. But this journey of looking inwards, of discovering who you are and what lights you up requires patience. It requires endurance.
I believe that our true soul, our own unique light, can be discovered when we find a balance between looking within, getting guidance from others and connecting with our surroundings.
So take a moment today to ask yourself…
What do you consume? What do you create? Who do you connect with? And most importantly, how often do you do it?
P.S. Next week we’ll share some practical ways to help you create more regularly, as that is the area where most seem to fall short. Until then, get out. Do. See. Feel. Be!