Partying into my birthday with friends is a annual tradition. This was the first time it included a ball pit. (photo: Oliver)

All we really have is RIGHT NOW

While preparing for the future is a noble and important task, if that’s all we do, we miss out on today. And, really, how many todays do we have? No one knows. All we really have is now.

i am mixed media 15cm x 18cm, maeshelle west-davies circa 1999
i am
mixed media
15cm x 18cm, maeshelle west-davies circa 1999

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
― A.A. Milne

This has been a crazy year for me. I’ve had a couple of signs that I’m not immortal after all. Actually, I’ve known that for a while. My mother died from cancer when I was 30. At that point, I knew I had to live a life that was true to myself. I was lucky. I had an idea of what that meant. That journey has led me here, where the cost of living affords me to work part-time.

I have always thought if you don’t grow, you stagnate, and that is death itself. I try to stay open to new opportunities for growth. Leipzig has also afforded opportunities to help others enable themselves. I have formed rich relationships and dear friends who have been there for me during recent hard times. At a holiday party, I was saying I need to take a look at my life because I feel like I’ve gotten lost in the process. A wise friend said, “The key is balance.”

Of course I knew that, but it was still like a revelation.

With all my projects successfully rolling along, I feel like I need a reset button so I can reorder them to get the balance I seem to have lost. Studies show that our minds wander about 50% of the time. When we’re stressed, this wandering leaves us stuck in the past or worrying about the future. This can lead to less ability to make the right decisions. Apparently, being in the now, or mindfulness, is a way to reset.

Mindfulness has been a buzzword for a while. To be honest, when I hear the word, I think, “Whateva.” But over the last year I have noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to manage stress. The mindfulness proponents say there’s a link between this and modern technology. When we have a spare moment, we check our devices. Guilty.

I remember hearing something about it only taking 10 minutes. I saw something else about breathing. I thought, “10 minutes of mindful breathing? Can’t be bothered.” Now, since I’m actually searching for information, I’ve come across this method created by Phil Boissiere that looks doable.

Boissiere is a specialist on adult ADHD. That description matches how I’ve been feeling lately. His 3×3 method only takes 30 seconds. I can try that.

If I am able to be objective, I can go about doing what I need to get that balance back.

I remember a friend giving me advice over a hot chocolate. She said I had to learn how to say “no.” Yes, I am one of those people who hates to ask for help, but is happy to offer it when asked. Sources say one of the keys to stress management is knowing your limits and sticking to them. This can help us avoid unnecessary stress.

I need more good drugs.

Confession time. I’ve been medicating with potato chips and chocolate. Over the holidays I have been medicating with dance. That is my drug of choice, and I’ve been missing it. New Year’s resolution is to bring it back.

Second drug of choice is laughter, and that is best obtained by hanging out with friends. I need to make more time for that this year as well. A recent fortune cookie told me to, so it must be fate.

Ana and I ate at her favourite take away not long ago. We got fortune cookies. Both were pretty good.

On my quest, I have to remind myself that maintaining balance is a life-long task. It takes constant revision and should be looked at objectively and as a whole. Setting priorities will help. It is important to remember to be flexible as their relevance changes.

self portrait digitally manipulated photo, maeshelle west-davies 2005
self portrait
digitally manipulated photo, maeshelle west-davies 2005

I used to be a big fan of goal setting. My experience living in the UK left so many of those goals unattained that I felt like a failure. I stopped setting them and started just being open to opportunity. Maybe there is a way to do both.

Does it sound like it’s all me, me, me in this post? Maybe, since I feel like I’ve lost myself a bit over the past year. I hope it’s also about you, you, you. Let’s start by living in the now. Look beside you. Is there something beautiful? It might take a bit more concentration or even a little imagination, but I know you can find it.

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

Yes, advertisers use the holiday season to reinforce traditional family stereotypes. They use holiday ads to foster mass consumerism. But they still produce some damn good holiday commercials, or at least ones that make you laugh, for whatever reason. I'm not a shopper, but felt like sharing them with you. Happy 2018! (Photo: public domain)
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