What’s It All About?

by Shea Bell


I wrote this in my journal:

The body I chose at birth was perfect; the perfect housing for my curiosity and burning desire to take on life, to experience as much as I could stuff in.

Apart from the usual challenges, life was pretty darn fine.  I was blessed with a loving home, siblings, and the tender care of parents who really wanted me to be here.  And although nobody’s situation is completely ideal, mine was about as close as you can get, and provided the solid foundation I was going to need.

So why did I pick that body, that family? Before I took the dive into my Mom’s womb I must have wanted a life where I could stretch my boundaries, learns lots, and grow. It would be possible with a solid start to bound boldly forward. Although I made some questionable choices along the way, there were also successes, and the learning curve was steep.

Sometimes I wonder what the future holds, but I have a better understanding now of what I want, which is more time; to allow the inspirations in each day a chance to land and unfold; to notice synchronicities and random thoughts; to be able to give them full regard.

To do this I knew I would need to slow down, but I had no idea how.

About this time a mentor told me I didn’t need to climb straight up the mountain. I laughed, knowing he was absolutely right, and realized it was time to make some changes.


I worked full time for 6 years after those words were written, and without thinking, put my head down as before. Life was demanding. These intervening years were hotbeds of learning, and when I didn’t slow down on my own accord, I ended up sick and permanently off work. Nothing like illness to force a decision.

After a year or so I stepped back into life with a whole new understanding of how I wanted to be in this world, with all the awesomeness I had created, and with all that I had learned about myself.

I got to work doing the work. What could I let go of so there was space for something new? It was both exhilarating and humbling. It took the better part of two years, during which I sat, read, rested, took workshops and spent time pondering what I was learning about how I wanted to be in the world.

Recently I was reminded once more about going straight up the mountain. My calendar began to fill up with things I thought I needed to do, and I found myself again with no free time. It was starting to feel like I had gone back to work.

This is when the anxiety rolled back in to make me stop and listen; anxiety because I had a stack of books I wanted to read and had no time for, and movies I wanted to see. I signed up for a gym program I thought I should take even though I’m not a gym person. I was allowing my own self imposed expectations to unconsciously steal my time with all the shoulds and none of the wants.

A few days of quiet gave me some time to settle down and think. During this time a call was scheduled with my coach Heather, and here is what she advised:

  • scale back completely
  • do as little as possible
  • look at the next week and make time
  • balance will welcome good choices
  • what can I say no to
  • whatever feels wonderful, do it

She was right. My life was out of balance. And why? Because I hold myself to the ridiculous belief that I should be able to do it all. Add to this the flipside, I am a lazy old sloth if I’m not busy all the time.

This time I knew what to do, and I had the time to do it. No excuses. I followed her advice and cleared my calendar for the next week. The first thing I did was cancel my gym program. Then I took all the pressure off being productive, and felt my chest expand as empty space started to show up on my agenda. I really hope I’ve learned this one now.

My 12 year old self would be stunned to know how long it took for me to get it. Maybe her sadness was because of some inexplicable knowing.

One of my favourite things to do is stay in bed until I’m ready to start the day.  It may be a wandering thought, or the to-do list populating in my brain, that nudges me up.  Sometimes it’s 6:30 and sometimes 10:30. Most days are gloriously out of time, so much so I no longer schedule appointments in the morning. With this last lesson I’m going to make sure there are also blank days for spontaneous fun.

Yesterday, for my first exercise in tranquility, I wandered down to the beach and made the acquaintance of a labradoodle and his family. It was remarkable because I’m not normally a dog person, but he popped right over and charmed the pants off me. It felt good.

This week, a poem danced out over several days, and I include it here to honour this blessed space I am privileged to occupy.  

Life by Design

My eyelids flutter,
With the energy of daybreak
While my brain rests in the mists
Of this liminal state.

Dreams hover
And new light awaits
To shine on the darkness
Of unanswered questions.

A pause before rising
For this glorious reset
And shift in perception.

In arousal my mind
Opens to receive the wisdom
Of Divine inspiration.

It takes great listening
And courage,
To create a life
Of honour to self.

To make space for peace and
And personal progression
To care for others, 
With a whole self.

With this
I rise gratefully
In the grace of a new day.

I wish you all blessed moments resting in your own unique flow.

I would love to hear from you. Scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

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Brian Bell January 21, 2019 - 1:46 pm

Leaving time for the things that really matter – and then investing that time wisely – is so important.

When I worked (toward the end) there were days where my calendar had no usable openings; it was chockablock with meetings and appointments, each of which had some value (or I would have cancelled), but few of which actually checked important items off my goals list.

Life since retirement is different, as you have discovered. But the essential lesson remains: Listen your mind and body; shed the inessential to preserve time for what’s important; then decide what’s important to you.

Shea Bell January 21, 2019 - 2:01 pm

Yes, it does apply to retirement, very nicely said. I didn’t expect that until it happened. In any case, no way to live.

Darlene January 22, 2019 - 6:10 am

At 12 we do wonder what it’s all about don’t we. We can’t wait to grow up and be free of the influences around us, not realizing there would be other limitations. But at least we had dreams and the wherewithal to make some of them come true, even if it was in the distant future. Do you still play the piano?

Shea Bell January 22, 2019 - 10:31 am

Hi Darlene, you are a kindred spirit for sure! I haven’t had a piano for about 15 years now, but it gave me a love for music. I would love to sit down again and play. Yesterday at Kin Village a concert for the elders brought in a bagpiper for Robbie Burns, who played several different kinds of pipes. Mom said the residents were enraptured. Music is so healing.

Darlene January 24, 2019 - 1:37 am

Music is the best! At mom’s senior’s home they bring in Country and Western musicians as that is what most of the residents grew up with. They love it!

Shea Bell January 25, 2019 - 10:51 am

That is brilliant.I would love it too.

Sheila January 23, 2019 - 10:30 am

There is a lesson there for me – thank you for sharing.

Shea Bell January 23, 2019 - 12:12 pm

Hi Sheila, Yes, time to enjoy retirement!

How's It Working Out For You? • Four Figs June 24, 2019 - 8:55 pm

[…] get a nudge or an impulse, follow it and find the message.  I wrote a post a bit ago called What’s it all about Alfie, describing the angst I felt as a young girl desperate to figure out where or if I might ever, fit […]


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