Reflections from a messy desk

How the seasons come and go without a backward glance. Autumn for many is a time of welcome relief from the frenetic pace of summer and a time to pause for restoration. We may reflect on where we have come from, even going so far as to notice who we used to be and who we are now. What has changed and what remains ever and always the same about us? One thing I’ve been struck by lately is how some of us, over time and perhaps through no small amount of grief, become more compassionate and courageous about giving our true selves a voice. Where could that voice be heard while we were figuring all this out? Perhaps there’s somewhere…

Picasso with Francoise Gilot

It is a brave thing to let someone in to your personal space, into the space that shows up your true nature, with its inherent strengths and less strong spots (or, more precisely, massive faults). We may be drawn to hide our true selves at times (some of us more than others), but one place that I cannot hide my true self is at my desk. Fortunately few people ever see it. On my desk you’ll find an array of odd things that symbolise the world to me but make no sense to anyone else, quotations stuck haphazardly on post-its, photos and postcards overlying a Big Lebowski poster, piles of books, research papers, notes and (usually) my laptop. In addition there is a complex amount of work-life related mess. Piles of it. I do clear it up (sort of) once or twice a year. This tolerated chaos appears to be quite a contradiction as I do like order and clarity everywhere else (not that I achieve it very often).

What does my desk have to say to me, or to anyone for that matter? Literally, nothing, of course. But my desk is where I am me, for better or for worse (or rather, for better and for worse), and the words that adorn my desk have always had a lot to say.

A few months ago I stumbled on some quotations that I had pinned around my desk when I was writing up my PhD in Cambridge in 2006-2007. It was a time that deeply challenged my mind, body and soul. By way of reflection, I’ll share some of this eclectic mix here. Perhaps some of these words may make you smile, or speak to you if you share with me a tendency to perfectionism, over-thinking, stubborn idealism and even more stubborn romanticism:

anemone_hybridaOne of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. – Bertrand Russel

Hardly a law has been established in science, hardly a fact ascertained, which was not first sought after, often with sweat and blood, to gratify an inner need. – William James, The Will To Believe

In a higher world it is otherwise; but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often. – John H. Newman

The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible. – Ray Bradbury

I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.  – T. A. Edison

Better done than good. – Gabriel B. Paquette

Life is good. Remember that. – Lukas, Munich Paramedic

These words remind me of the blood, sweat and tears of the inner and outer battle of turning several years of PhD research into a written offering of validation before the scientific community. The inner battle showed up at various points along the way as perfectionism, procrastination, illness and fatigue (CFS). Tough times were ameliorated by many wonderful friendships, adventures, happy moments with zoology cricket and a growing dedication to physical therapy and NLP coaching. The seeds of Reflexation Therapy seem to have been sown back then!

What does my desk have to say now? I’ll be brave and share some of the words that inspire me as I sit at my desk today. Most of them have been there a while, speaking to me through the joys and trials of becoming a parent, establishing myself as a therapist and finding myself in Cornwall, where a few extraordinary people continue, in their different ways, to challenge me more deeply than ever before.

grass_solsticeHave the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. – Dr Seuss

The grass is greenest where you water it most – A note from my friend Jackie

Let there be trouble in my day, that may child may have peace – Thomas Paine quoted by John Perkins, in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

It’s only when we achieve the impossible that we realise we were misinformed. – Phil Parker (Designer of the Lightning Process)

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an action, but a habit.-  Aristotle

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate; it’s that we are powerful beyond all measure. – Nelson Mandela

Without knowing who you are, happiness cannot come to you. – Yogi tea

I suppose we are all on a journey of a kind, as the seasons hurtle past. What we notice on the journey, and how we allow ourselves to be changed, is up to us. Inspiring Wonder (Reflexation Therapy) is here to support you as you move your own mountains and find your own way to be well, be fit and be you. No matter how messy your desk is.

This blog was published first at Reflexation Therapy, the mind-body therapy element of Inspiring Wonder.

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