Posted by: faultlessfinish | April 2, 2014

What’s Your Gut Telling You?

“I believe in intuitions and inspirations . . . I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.” - Albert Einstein

When’s the last time you listened to your gut? Right now, mine’s telling me that sushi and frozen yogurt might not be the best combination. But I digress . . . This is not a post about stomachaches.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve said “go with your gut” when asked for advice. Truly, we all know what’s best for ourselves, but clearing away the head clutter to make space for that little inner voice can be a Herculean task.

“All signs point to yes,” or, “Danger, danger!”  The latter is much easier to hear. We’re built to rapidly identify danger and act accordingly.

But intuition isn’t just there to help us feel out potentially dangerous situations. Looking back over my last few years as a freelancer, and the projects I’ve taken on, I’ve realized that there were times my intuition was simply screaming at me, and I ignored it.

When I first started freelancing, I took everything that came my way, red flags or not, because I was desperate to build a business, to make money. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only freelancer who has succumbed to this. I’ll admit that sometimes the “means to an end” is necessary, but when everything inside of you is telling you “No, don’t do it,” let it go. Make space for what suits you.

What I’ve most clearly come to realize in the last year or so though is that intuition plays a key role in major decisions, if you let it. I’ve spent hours writing lists of pros and cons, writing pages upon pages about various dilemmas. Yet I could never figure out why all the biggest decisions in my life were made seemingly on impulse.

In hindsight, it’s clear that these decisions weren’t spontaneous. I already knew what I wanted on a very basic level. And when I gave my head just a few seconds of space and quiet, suddenly my decision was “magically” made.

So what do you really want that you haven’t allowed yourself to admit? How’s your gut feeling?

“Chasm”

A leap of faith requires ferocity,
a steadfast belief in self and circumstances;

There is no room for
. . . hesitation . . .
when flying across a chasm placed
just above the depths of doubt;

Rocks may pierce the feet upon landing,
but the gap has still been leapt,
and, weary, battered feet can still
. . . move forward.

Namaste :)

Rachel

lMonterosso

Posted by: faultlessfinish | March 18, 2014

The Stranger with the Cigarette

The other night I was going through my travel journal and came across this poem. I wrote it while sitting in a bistro sipping (strong!) espresso to the soundtrack of French music and conversation. I was alone with my thoughts, an outsider but content in this warm, friendly atmosphere. It was the perfect Paris moment.

“The Stranger with the Cigarette”

She stands shivering in the chill, Paris-morning air,
smoking her cigarette,
surveying the indifferent street from above, huddled.
Her grey sweater, dull-green scarf, nondescript,
her face unreadable.

This tired Parisian, she looks my way.
I am an intruder.
Does the cafe’s glass obscure her view of the stranger unabashedly observing her?
I hold her gaze for only a moment,
look back to the street,
leaving her to her cigarette,
understanding the need for solace.
A glance back a minute later, and
she’s gone,

this stranger with her cigarette,
who left a mark on my memory . . .
after only the briefest of moments.

These little moments are what truly inspire me. Life happens quickly, but every once in a while it slows down and gives us little gems, moments of connection.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Eiffeltower

 

Posted by: faultlessfinish | February 25, 2014

The Whole 20/20 Thing

“To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, ‘I wish I had known this some time ago.’” – Roger Zelazny

The blog prompt in my inbox this morning was as such: “You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO.” I rarely roll with these prompts, but every once in a while, one strikes a chord.

To be honest, I can’t remember anything about my 12th birthday, and I have no desire to write about it. I’m sure there was a cake with oodles of icing. I’m sure I was hoping Taylor Hanson would show up on my doorstep to sing “Happy Birthday” (yep, I was one of those). There may have been a couple of friends around. But I know this much: it wasn’t the best time in my life. I don’t pine for those lost days of my youth.

Rather than write about that memory, I’d rather get in touch with 12-year-old Rachel, enlighten her with some of my oldness and wiseness. I know, I know. I’m sensing all the eye rolling right now. I get it. I’ve got a long road ahead, to be certain.

But I’m leaps and bounds ahead of me, age 12.

And I think this girl could use a hug. Maybe you could too. So here are four:

1. When people laugh at your expense, laugh with them. Or smirk and walk away. They’re really just looking to get a rise out of you. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Believe it or not, some of these people will be friends of yours in the years to come. Hint: this strategy works with adult meanies too.

2. As cheesy as it sounds, when you look in the mirror, smile and acknowledge everything that’s beautiful about you, especially the inner stuff. When you tell yourself you look ugly, your brain gets ugly. And it starts making you believe it. And it can be a hard thing to get over. When you get older, every single woman you talk to will tell you that she hated how she looked at your age. She’ll probably tell you that she hates how she looks now. Don’t be that person. Compliment other people, compliment yourself. Life’s too short to get hung up on bad hair days and pimples.

3. Embrace what you love to do, even if it makes you a nerd. Embrace your nerdiness. Spending Friday nights at home with a book (and a glass of wine when you’re old enough!) instead of at a party is pretty cool. And it might just lead you to a career you don’t even know exists right now. No, you’re not going to be a famous rock star or an MTV personality. That’s OK. That would have gotten old for you really quickly.

4. Understand that your life is not going to be “white picket fence.” There is no formula, though it’s hard for you to see past that ideal right now. Hell, it’s hard to see past that ideal when you get older too. Start changing your mindset now. There is no right way — there’s only your way, so start dreaming big, kiddo. What do you want your life to look like?

What would you tell your twelve-year-old self? Are you living the life he or she hoped you’d be living?

Namaste :)

Rachel

Yup...

Yup…

Posted by: faultlessfinish | February 11, 2014

Overseas Experiment

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” - Emerson

The first time I read this quotation, the words jumped off the page and slapped me across the face. Now it’s written on a colourful Post-it note stuck right above my computer. It reminds me every day of the importance of taking risks, making changes, trying things out, making mistakes.

I certainly have a little squeamishness to overcome right now. Time for a big experiment. Possibly the biggest one in my life to date. I’m moving to London, England, for a year in September, to freelance and travel. The one-way flight will be booked by the end of this week, so there’s no going back. Even when I read what I’ve just written, it still doesn’t seem real.

A brief history of my fascination with England: it started at a young age. Oddly enough, watching terrible British comedies on TV with my mom is among my favourite childhood memories. And with a last name like Small, it’s obviously in my blood.

My visit in November confirmed that the pull I’ve felt to London for years wasn’t just my imagination. The city felt like home, in a sense. For years I’ve considered moving to Europe for school and work, but I’ve always had a plethora of excuses at the ready — some legitimate, some . . . well . . . just plain silly.

Even now I could take my pick of reasons not to go. Much of my time in Europe last year was devoted to the back and forth – should I? Should I not? (Sorry, Sarah!) But in a moment of solitude and clarity, I finally made my decision, knowing that I would regret not going far more than I would ever regret making the move. I’m so excited to immerse myself in something brand new and to expand my network. I’ve never been more grateful for my ability to take my work with me.

This is truly what I had in mind when I started freelance editing, and when I started this blog. This is what freedom looks like to me, and I plan to take full advantage. And I’ll be writing about it every step of the way.

I’m bursting with excitement and scared out of my mind, but that’s the beauty of it, right? I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you.

Namaste :)

Rachel

IMG_5573

Posted by: faultlessfinish | January 29, 2014

Ink Blotches

When it comes to keeping track of my schedule, only old school will do. I like to see my week at a glance in hard copy, in blue ink. And it has to be perfectly neat and orderly and organized. Hey, I’m an editor. This should come as no surprise.

Due to my rather *ahem* obsessive tendencies, my day planner is full of Wite-Out, signalling changes in plans. This week has been a particularly unpredictable one, so the page is littered with corrections.

There are only so many times you can try to hide a mistake before you need to admit that it’s there and start fresh on a new line.

“Ink Blotches”

Big white blots and smooth sweeps

consume the ink-blotched page

Either way the cover-up conceals not

the fact of the error,

for it will always exist in that space.

Pen is (relatively) permanent,

but there is always a blank white space somewhere,

somewhere to make the correction

New words, not a cover-up.

Namaste :)

Rachel

London

Posted by: faultlessfinish | January 15, 2014

Go with the Flow

“Every creative art brings you to your innermost being where there is just calmness, utter quietness, absolute silence.” – Osho

A couple years ago, I watched a fantastic documentary on the science of happiness (Happy). The film discusses how the happiest people in the world have three things in common, including the ability to lose themselves in “flow,” or what athletes might call “the zone.”

Loosely defined, flow is being immersed in an activity. All your attention is directed to the task at hand — meditation in action. The documentary lists painting, rock climbing, and playing an instrument as a few activities through which people achieve flow.

I’ve been losing myself in music, both as a listener and a musician, for as long as I can remember, but for the past nine years, I’ve only had sporadic access to a piano. And whenever I play, I’m reminded of how necessary losing myself in music is for my sanity, my clarity. This year for Christmas, my parents surprised me with a guitar. It was, without exaggeration, the most excited I’ve been on Christmas morning since Barbies were on my list (and no, that wasn’t last year). I jumped up and down and screamed like a five-year-old.

Immersing myself in learning the guitar has inspired creativity in other aspects of my life, and when I feel stress starting to mount, I take a break to play, and soon enough I have a huge smile on my face.

I’m inspired by my many of my friends, who find flow through painting, photography, making jewellery, writing stories and poems, and pushing themselves in hardcore workout regimens.

The new year is in fully swing. What do you want to lose yourself in? What hidden passion can you explore?

Namaste :)

Rachel

Guitar

Posted by: faultlessfinish | January 2, 2014

Living the Details

Happy New Year everyone! I love the blogging world this time of year, as I’m a huge fan of recaps and reflective posts. One in particular made me pause: “A Quiet Walk on New Year’s Eve,” a post from one of my absolute favourite bloggers, Bottledworder.

She writes, “Suddenly it struck me how we think of our own lives as a collection of momentous memories. A collection of big events like in a badly written history book. Weddings, funerals, births, big moves, important accolades.

“The everyday disappears within those big memories just as life disappears condensed in a resume of it.”

Her words resonated with me. When I returned to Canada after my trip to Europe, my friends wanted to know the highlights, and I found myself mostly recalling the major places and events. “Florence was amazing! So beautiful!” But in truth, the highlights of that trip were the tiny details – the way I felt when the setting sun cast a warm glow over a sleepy Italian village, the way the breeze caressed my face as I sat on a bench in Rome and made a life-changing decision, the first sip of wine and a smile shared with a friend in Paris.

The details of our lives are often those things that are impossible to describe in words: the way we feel, the way we are moved, the way we react. The details are our daily interactions with people and the world. And these get lost in our larger stories.

As we move forward into 2014, let’s be mindful of the beautiful details that are at risk of being lost in the rapid pace of our lives. Breathe, enjoy.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Skating rink in London

Skating rink in London

Posted by: faultlessfinish | December 18, 2013

Gifting Words

“Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don’t quite know how to put our love into words.” – Harlan Miller

I might possibly be the world’s worst gift giver. Every year I intend to find my family members the perfect gifts to reflect their personalities and tastes. And inevitably …

“Hope you like the wine and gift card!”

Sigh. To make up for sub-par gifts, I put a bit more thought into the cards and strive for the perfect blend of humour and mushy affection. When I sat down to write Christmas cards for my friends this year though, I was a bit stumped. I couldn’t help feeling that I’d said everything before. Then I came across Harlan Miller’s quotation, and the proverbial lightbulb came on. Of course I’d said everything before. I’ve loved the close people in my life for years, and often tell them how I feel.

There are only so many ways to put love into words, but that should never stop us from trying. Because while I’m a big believer in actions speaking louder than words, there’s nothing quite like hearing how much you mean to someone, especially this time of year.

A big Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all of you – now go shower someone you love with words of affection. Go.

Thanks for all your love and support! See you in the new year.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Siblings2

Christmas Past. Sorry siblings, don’t hate me.

 

Posted by: faultlessfinish | December 10, 2013

Connected Detachment

While away last month, I “re-remembered” the importance of downtime (which in Europe included ample time for sitting and writing and eating croissants, pizza, pasta, gelato – which now means making ample time to put on the running shoes), so I’m now making a deliberate effort to meditate every morning.

During a yoga class this week, the instructor asked us to sit in silence for a few minutes and clear the mind of thoughts. “When a thought comes up,” she explained, “try to view it as an outside observer would, separate from your own mind. Then let it go. Release it.” I’ve heard this advice many times in meditation sessions, but that day, the prompt resonated with me.

A month away from everything I knew meant a lot of time spent in my own brain. And while I was able to “get to know” myself on an entirely different level, I also learned that too much time in your own head can get you tangled up in a mess of thoughts that aren’t necessarily helpful.

That’s where the detachment comes in.

When a negative, stressful, or otherwise unpleasant thought pops into your head, it’s important not to identify with it. By this I mean don’t let it become a part of you or define who you are. Instead, acknowledge it – it’s real and it’s present – and deal with it if need be and the time is right. But remember that it’s just a thought. It doesn’t have a life of its own, and you have the power to bid it farewell.

We are separate from our thoughts. It sounds so obvious, but it’s one of the hardest truths out there to internalize.

How can you let go today?

Namaste :)

Rachel

Detachment - Cinque Terre, Italy

Detachment – Cinque Terre, Italy

Posted by: faultlessfinish | December 3, 2013

Return of the Muse

It’s hard to believe it’s been four months since I’ve posted here. I’ve just returned to Canada after a month-long vacation in Europe. That continent definitely hasn’t seen the last of me! But more on that later.

Travelling always teaches you a few things, but I couldn’t have prepared myself for all the lessons that came my way – some good, some bad, some downright ugly in terms of insights into self, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. One of the most positive things I gleaned from the trip was the return of my muse. I couldn’t wait to get writing again.

Over the last few weeks, it became clear to me, through the help of one of the best friends I could ever ask for, that the main reason I had to abandon my “inspirational” blog temporarily was because I was no longer inspiring myself. Inspiration most certainly can’t be forced, and it’s OK to have “off” weeks or months, but it’s so important to understand why you’re feeling uninspired. Are the factors internal? External? Can you do something about it?

Getting caught in the grind of the mundane was my silent killer. I stopped appreciating the little moments and allowed almost no time for spiritual and personal growth in my life. My month away snapped me out of my haze. It reminded me of the importance of shaking things up once in a while, of reconnecting with your passions, of meeting new people, of having thought-provoking conversations and truly connecting on a human level. And it reminded me to be so grateful for the life I’ve been given.

While it’s always a bit sad coming back home after a whirlwind trip, I’m excited to implement some healthy changes (more time for writing, more yoga, more work-life balance).

What about you? What inspires you enough to shake you out of a slump?

Sunset over Athens

Sunset over Athens

 

Namaste :)

Rachel

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