Virginia Woolf once said, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” And of course, she is right. Peace as we generally think of it can be elusive at best, changing with circumstances and mood. But true peace, lasting peace, is earned through the hard work that comes with facing and walking through life’s challenges.
The trouble is “finding peace” can look an awful lot like avoiding life.
We “keep the peace” by avoiding difficult decisions, delicate discussions, and painful circumstances. We “make peace” with something that if we were honest about it, we would admit makes us uncomfortable, angry, or discouraged. We search for “inner peace” by creating a facade of outer peace rather than risking a painful encounter or conflict. We content ourselves with being “at peace” with something, though this “peace at any price” comes at the expense of what our gut is telling us — until finally we “rest in peace” after possibly never really living at all.
Honestly, I am as guilty as anyone of avoiding the messiness of life under the guise of “finding peace”. In fact, I have probably raised avoidance to an art form. But “peace of mind” (and heart and soul and spirit) cannot be found through avoidance. Life has a way of leaking into our facades no matter how carefully we try to contain it.
So what are the choices?
- Let go entirely. Drop the issue, the relationship, the job, the friendship — just walk away. But this strategy can feel like giving up, and worse, giving up on something or someone worth keeping. It doesn’t result in peace, but in a constant state of wondering, “what if”.
- Lie to yourself. Hide behind being busy. Tell yourself that really everything is OK, there’s nothing wrong, it’s all good and you are doing all that you can do. A very wise friend tells me often that it is impossible to lie to yourself, but I am not so sure we don’t try. Either way, though, this strategy is nothing more than a band-aid and there will be no peace.
- Have a plan for dealing with the issue — but at some nebulous time in the future. Think “if this happens, then I’ll do that” or “I’ll give it until (fill in any date or circumstance) and then I’ll decide what to do.” While this strategy can allow you to feel a temporary moment of peace, it doesn’t work in the long-term. The plan will need to be constantly revised, the timeframe pushed back, and the terms re-negotiated with yourself — not a peaceful process, to be sure.
- Acknowledge the issue and its context before taking steps toward the outcome you want. Recognizing the issue and defining its context is half the battle. Maybe you want a new job, but you are afraid to leave the security of the one you have. Acknowledging the issue of wanting new employment and the context of fear allows for a manageable approach. You can address the fears as they arise and watch them dissipate as you begin to achieve your goal.
Obviously, the last choice is the best choice.
Virginia Woolf was correct that real peace does not come from avoiding the trials of life. It comes from meeting those challenges and growing through them!
Today I just want to give a shout-out to one of my favorite places to find high-quality and all-natural skincare products: Mojo Spa in Chicago . Mojo Spa is an incredible place to visit. It’s bright and cheerful, with playful displays that make looking for the right skin (or hair) product like being a kid in a candy store. But what makes me go back again and again – and now order online – is the high quality of their products.
With over 200 natural handmade products, such as natural skincare, makeup, bodycare, haircare, artisan soaps, fragrances, bath products, and soy massage candles – all with clever names and cute packaging – Mojo Spa is a real treat for the senses. Here are some of my all-time favorites:
- Beach Bum Texturizing Styling Cream This is the first product I tried at Mojo Spa, and I like it so much, I give it as gifts, and recommend it to everyone. It is the best for letting my curly hair dry in cool waves, and without frizz.
- Medusa Frizz Taming Hair Oil I like this in the winter to keep my hair soft and smooth, without the static that comes from hats and over-heated buildings.
- Midas Touch Healing Hand Balm I put this on and then use gloves when I wash the dishes or clean. The heat from the gloves (or hot water) helps my hands absorb the balm, and I am left with soft, smooth hands, even after chores.
- Nifty Nail Cure Enhanced Cuticle Oil Love this product! It has helped my runner’s toenails, which had gotten pretty rough-looking, to be clear and healthy enough to go without polish.
- Dark Twinkle Color-Adjusting Mineral Makeup I am fair-skinned, and this foundation seemed way too dark when I tried it at the store, but I love it. It is so sheer and leaves just a hint of color as it evens out my skin tone.
- Sun Magic Setting Powder I hate when my face is shiny, and I am always looking for a face powder that leaves a matte finish that isn’t dull. This powder cuts the shine, but leaves a luminous finish that I love.
And I have to admit that while I was finding the links to all my favorite Mojo products, I found many more to try. Mojo Spa also has an in-house nail spa that has been featured in Allure and In Style magazines, something I’ll be trying just as soon as I can. For now, though, I am going to treat myself to a mask and a scrub, and wait for my next order to arrive!
“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” — Buddha
It’s Monday morning and here in Illinois, we are beginning our fifth week of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. It is gray and cold, and the wind is literally howling. The word ‘bleak’ comes to mind. It’s a good morning for a little inspiration, so challenge accepted!
After a little bit of thought, here are ten blessings that I recognize on this otherwise bleak Monday morning:
- I am inside. No kidding – the wind is howling and it is 35 degrees. I am on my couch with blanket and a cat as I write this. Blessed, indeed!
- I have nowhere to go. Normally at this point, I’d welcome a place to go, but see #1. It is also a blessing to have to stay home.
- I have recognized that lack of time is not really an excuse for why certain things are never done (cleaning out closets, for example), and this leaves me free to discover what my real reason for procrastinating is. Truth and clarity are blessings, too, right?
- I have accepted that certain projects (cleaning out closets, for example) don’t inspire me and I am likely to continue procrastinating. Acceptance is a beautiful thing.
- I have learned to effortlessly use Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Marco Polo to stay in touch with family and friends. In some cases, we’ve talked more since the quarantine began than we did before. Win-win!
- I have come to appreciate the simple act of running errands. Everything from grocery store runs to Home Depot – these little “chores” are so taken for granted, and while maybe they are not “blessings”, I am ready to embrace them again.
- Conversely, I also appreciate being able to order anything from groceries, garden soil, and tonight’s dinner online. I have discovered services like Instacart (that I will continue to use when life gets busy), and local restaurants that have already become favorites. We are blessed to have all these options even when isolated.
- I am picking up old hobbies again, which has been fun. To have a stretch of uninterrupted time to make a mess with craft supplies, sewing, or painting is a total luxury. Do we really need a pandemic to allow ourselves this time? Lesson (and blessings) learned.
- Ditto with cooking. I like to bake and have found some fun desserts to make (like Umm Ali, which I will make again today). It has also been strangely entertaining to play Chopped with what is in the pantry. Creativity, no matter where it is found, is a blessing!
- Without the structure and busyness of a typical day, I have learned to listen to myself and as much as possible give myself what I need to manage this difficult time. This valuable lesson has been the greatest of blessings and worth the isolation and stress of the past four weeks.
Without a doubt, this time has been strange and unsettling. But as Buddha so wisely said, there are blessings in every situation, including this one. The challenge will be to remember these lessons when this stay-at-home time has passed.