Many years ago I attended a work seminar where the facilitator spoke of the importance of developing a Plan B for any major venture you take on. His words struck a chord, for at the time I was working in a federal penitentiary. I wasn’t sure how long I would remain there. Every day, I was surrounded by people who repeatedly reported how many years they had until retirement.
“Good morning” they would greet me cheerfully, “only six years left ‘till retirement”.
It was the institutional running joke, with people reporting the time they had left on their “sentences” prior to being released. Like the inmates they were supervising, they were serving life sentences on the installment plan.
This prompted me to develop a solid Plan B.
From that moment forward, every day that I went to work became a choice. I could continue, or I could change, but I would not allow myself to complain about it because I had the freedom to exercise my will.
Even now, every day I go to work knowing that I have options. My Plan B may not make much money, but it’s always less stressful and generally involves doing something creative. Somehow, that allows me to go to work each day with joy, owning the decision to be there.
It may be your Plan B involves taking time off work so that you can take proper care of yourself. That in itself is a plan.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych. Founder, Landing Strong
I’m working with a few veterans who have discovered the joys of guitar. Some play contemporary music, but surprisingly, most stick to the oldies. Good ol’ rock n’roll. I love to watch videos they show me of their playing, and the obvious pleasure it brings.
Have I ever mentioned that I also like to Rock?
Van Halen you may think, or perhaps Pink Floyd… maybe the Stones. Before you conjure up frightening images of me in a semi-goth Pat Benatar outfit, with full on spandex pants, high heeled boots, and crazy hair, I’d better stop you.
Actually, I’m talking about something much simpler: the practice of walking the deserted beaches of Nova Scotia, collecting beautiful rocks. I love the stillness of these coves, punctuated only by the sounds of wind, gulls, or a distant lobster boat. Walking with me is not easy, my family members have discovered. I find so many rocks that draw me in that I can’t carry them all. My family humours me and help out. Their stretched out hoodie pockets are a testament to the strength of my passion.
Once I get home, I wash them, and paint them. Simple beautiful images, always involving nature.
This quiet meditative practice stills my ever-turning mind, and brings me peace.
What will you do with them? People ask me. Actually, I love the fact that they have no real function. In a life where I have a million things going through my head at any point in time, there is something so incredibly satisfying about doing something that has absolutely no discernible purpose, except for the enjoyment it provides.
When I paint these rocks, I imagine them as graduation gifts for those of you who successfully complete the Landing Strong Program. Symbols of reclaiming of aspects of self that may have been lost, or been forgotten. A recalibration of overcharged nervous systems that now allows for moments of gentle reflection and appreciation.
I hope you’ll walk with me.
p.s. Spoiler alert: We’ll be doing some rock painting in the program. 🙂