21st November 2018 Sandra Bird

Red Sparkly Shoes or Coffee and Cake

how to carry your courage with you

Do you sometimes wake with words in your head? This morning I woke with these ‘You’ve always had the power’.

It seems to be a recurring theme for me recently as I’ve also been reminded of how I got myself into, and more importantly out of, a mini crisis of confidence. More on that in a moment, but first the reminder…I receive a weekly email from ‘Small Business Oracle’ Judith Morgan. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have just the right amount of time between appointments to grab a cuppa and read it as it arrives in my inbox. Last Friday was one such day.

Judith mentioned in her mail that she dislikes ‘jargon words such as comfort zone’ and that she had really liked and shared a post stating “Don’t believe the bullshit, magic happens everywhere…” thus sparking the memory in me (facepalm moment) that I’ve ‘known’ this stuff for like forever (just don’t always listen to it).

So, to the story of my mini crisis and how I managed to get in to and out of my scary situation. I was in Stockholm and had successfully transported myself from hotel (on the outskirts) to the centre of the old city. I was quite impressed with myself for doing so, as it had involved finding my way to the train station, purchasing a travel card, getting on the correct train, getting off in the right place, etc., etc., all the normal stuff that’s involved with travelling alone. Once you decide that you’re going to do this thing, albeit with trepidation, you push yourself forward and take it one step at a time.

Anyways, I’d got myself to the old city and was wandering and exploring, photographing and window shopping, wiling away the hours and walking and walking and walking. I’d enjoyed a light lunch, seen a beautiful avenue of cherry blossom trees, admired street sculptures and old buildings, dodged snow showers, made notes of places to go back to, you get the picture. The hours roll by and I walk miles.

All of a sudden my field of vision seems to grow and take in a wider, longer view of the street that I’m now in. I realise that I don’t know where I am. Yes I know that I’ve not really known all day ‘where I am’ but up till this point I’ve felt that I’m not too far away from the train back and although I’ve walked miles I’ve not actually travelled much of a distance away from the centre. Now I don’t recognise any street close to me as one that I’ve been along already and an uncomfortable fear starts to take hold. I’m frozen in my tracks and don’t know which way to turn, feeling like the cowardly lion I have no courage. Of course, the first thing I would do now is to get out my phone and check maps, but this was a time when data roaming was still a very expensive option.

So, knowing that fear, indecision, and panic all cause the Qi to stop moving, plus not wanting to wander aimlessly in the hope of stumbling upon the right path or the yellow brick road, I take a few deep breaths to relax my body and calm my mind. I realise in that moment that the fear and indecision are stemming from not being able to recognise anything I see as familiar. What is the comfort zone after all if not just the feeling of familiarity? Although I’d had the opportunity several times before to explore foreign cities on my own, this was the first time I’d done so in a place where the street signs were not in a language that I could immediately make sense of.

I take a few more deep breaths and decide that I need coffee. Coffee is not something I drink often, but my knowledge of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) tells me that coffee promotes the free flow of Qi, and thus will help my Liver and GallBladder (in terms of their Chinese medicine functions – among other things the Liver controls and facilitates smooth flow of Qi, the GallBladder promotes courage, planning, and decision making) helping me to get out of my quandary.

I take another look around me and spot the logo of a well known coffee house. Accepting that as familiar enough, I make my way there and sit for a while with a coffee and cake. The cake works as a little bit of sweetness to benefit my Spleen (a healthy Spleen promotes the ability to put ideas into action). Feeling much more comfortable I make use of the in-house wifi to check in on maps and see where I need to go. In truth I was a very short distance from the tube station that I needed and I knew that once there I could find my way back to the hotel. No sparkly shoes or heel clicking required!

Like the Lion I found my courage. Like Dorothy I rediscovered that we always have the resources we need, either within us or not too far away, and whether we use jargon words or not we can always find a little bit of the familiar wherever we are. We don’t need to stay in a comfort zone, whatever we choose to call it, but we can take it with us and step in and out of it as we please. And if a coffee and cake don’t quite hit the spot for you try these words from one of my favourite meditations – ‘I am powerful. I am certain. I am free.’