Get Spontaneous with that S***

I was taking a walk this week when I ran into my neighbor. She said something that had me laughing. “Being bored is boring.” Yes, that is solid fact. 

Being bored means to lack interest in one’s current activity. So many people are bored. They are not interested in what is going on with them or around them. For some people it is intermittent, and others it is constant. In my observation, most of time it isn’t because something is inherently wrong with the person… I see it is because they are wading in the epidemic I find many Americans to be in, which is what I call a spiritual coma. That happens when we aren’t living into who we are and/or our life’s purpose. You shun what you genuinely love, deeming it to be “selfish.” I have been there. Oh, have I been there. 

Growing up in my small town, I found myself bored much of the time. I was born an adventurer, and so I spent so much of my time daydreaming in my yard, making up stories in my head. I went on “adventures” in my imagination. I was making up stories to other school age children, constantly, as if I was a chronic liar. This is so NOT my nature, as I have been a purveyor of truth in my adult years; however, I think I did this because I was so bored. Television wasn’t enough for me, and so I went about making adventure through making it up. Some people need more stimulation than others… I am certainly in the “more” category! 

Turns out they are finding boredom as a health risk. In one study amongst South African teens, they found the greatest predictor for alcohol and cannabis abuse was boredom. I did not get caught up in these activities as a teenager because I was terrified of becoming an addict like my family members (which was its own form of dysfunction, not that I advocate abusing substances, but I avoided everything was because I had a huge problem with control and feeling safe). Many teens, however, are abusing simply out of being disinterested in their daily life or activities. To combat boredom in my teens, I made really weird videos with my friends (like duct taping each other to trees, or hanging sausages on strings from ceiling fans and then cranking it up to see what would happen hahahaha), and that was our creative way of entertaining ourselves. Instead of engaging in drugs or alcohol or risky sexual behavior, we were basically reenacting the MTV show Jackass on a regular basis. There are certainly worse things. 

Then there comes the adults. Researchers are finding that boredom puts one more at risk for multiple health ailments including heart disease, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive somatization, and interpersonal sensitivity. John Eastwood, a clinical psychologist at York University in Toronto stated, "I think there is something about our modern experience of sensory overload where there is not the chance and ability to figure out what your interests, what your passions are.” I agree with this man as a mental health and wellness professional and as a human living life. WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT OUR PASSIONS ARE. Boredom is simply lack of passion. It does NOT mean we need to be doing more… we are overloaded. We can be bored doing a million tasks. I remember being busy on reports in school, spending hours on them without a break, and I was bored to tears. Boredom is lack of passion or interest in what we are doing, not lacking things to do. 

As you may know, I am an advocate to finding and treating the root causes of things, whether it be a simple problem or a major chronic illness. I am also an advocate to treating the issue naturally when possible. Now, I say it every time, and that is I AM NOT ANTI BIG PHARMA. What I am is for, though, is deep healing that is sustainable and long lasting. If pharmaceuticals are part of your healing journey to help along the way… ain’t no shame in that game. However, I left conventional medicine to offer people solutions other than pharmaceuticals (that can work either in place of or as an adjunct, depending on the situation). 

I have a prescription for this issue. It isn’t a drug. I am asking you to allow more passion and spontaneity into your life. Passion is an intense and strong emotion. Now, people’s hate can be passionate, so the passion I am inviting to hone in on is heart passion centered in joy and love. How many times have you felt this wild and crazy inkling to do something, whether it is go on a trip, paint a picture, or buy this one really cool camera, and the thought brings you vitality and joy? How about have sex in this really cool location with your lover out of the blue, and you felt amazing with the idea? This is not simply being impulsive; I am talking about being spontaneous. 

According to our friends at the dictionary, when someone is being spontaneous it means they have an “open, natural, and uninhibited manner.” When an event or happening is spontaneous, it occurs without “apparent or external cause." Therefore,it must come from within. This is important, because so much of what I understand about deep healing and wellness comes from within. It is tied to what is inextricably “us.” I speak of spontaneity today because I see allowing more of it as a great way to boost our mental health and wellness. Mental and spiritual health, as I always say, are the foundation to overall health and wellness.

Heart-centered spontaneity is naturally intrinsic, and it can be a very divine and sacred phenomenon. Being impulsive is an aspect of spontaneity. It means, “Being done without forethought.” Impulsivity, though, does not have to be open or natural, and can have an external cause. Impulsivity can come from addictions, fear, or mental imbalance. It is a fine line between what is healthy and serves us versus not. At the end of the day, we simply need to be mindful of ourselves.

I see that allowing more spontaneity ultimately allows more of ourselves to come alive, and therefore living more joyous, fun, and authentic lives. A life of passion! I have decided to ditch most of my 5, 10, 20 year plans. I am serious. Now this does not mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If you’re building a home, you need to have a general plan how to build it. If you are doing a project, there needs to be some sense of where it is going. What I am doing is inviting more room for you to have some spontaneous creativity. The more room you have spontaneous creativity, the more authentic and raw something will be. And in the grander scheme of things… life is its own project at times. If you allow more space for it, life can be more authentic, more fun. 

I used to be a planner. Oh my goodness, was I ever a planner. I had a grand master plan. I was planning to have kids around 30. I was planning to be working for someone at an established clinic. I was planning on going back to the airlines when I retired. I was planning planning planning planning. So much of my time and energy was spent around planning. 

But then life happened. If someone had told me January of 2017 where my life would be January of 2018, I would have said, “You are insane.”

And how many times has that happened to us? We have this grand idea of what is going to happen, what we are going to do, and then BAM… Something completely sideswipes you. In January of 2017, I was married and working on my marriage (divorce wasn’t even in my conscious awareness yet). I was working for an established clinic. I was feeling mighty secure in the vision that was my future. However, my passion was certainly dimmed, and I was craving more, but did not realize it yet. 

Then April 2017 came around, we had worked through the last of the issues only to find that we were good friends (always had been) and did not want to continue with what was a passionless marriage. Two weeks later, the clinic I was working for did budget cuts, and therefore I got cut, too. The chair got kicked out from underneath me. I landed on the ground face first, with the wind completely knocked out of me. 

At that point, I went back to my old modus operandi which was plan plan plan. “I needed to find another established clinic, I needed to get my life back in order.” But this was out of fear, not out of passion. I kept running uphill it felt like. When I got hired by that second medical clinic that summer, I felt this sense of relief. Whew, I’m back on track! 

Except I wasn’t. I wasn’t “back on track” at all. I was going through the motions of “plan, be safe, be secure.” Luckily the universe had my back, and then BAM! I got laid off a month later due to it, “Not being a good fit.” Which I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, it absolutely was not, and I can see that in hindsight. It was an absolute blessing I got laid off the second time. Actually, it was a blessing I got laid off of both jobs, because it opened the door for me to live a life more authentically aligned with who I am.

Initially I couldn’t see that though. After getting laid off the second time, I cried that whole day, and went to bed early that night. I had my whole life planned out, and now I was single, unemployed with three cats. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh. 

Thursday @ 930 pm-“What am I going to do?” just kept playing over and over in my head as I fell asleep. Because for the first time in my life, I had not even the slightest idea. All I could grab onto was that I wanted to feel joyous and whole and fully alive again. The universe listened though, because when I woke up the next morning, my desires were heard. 

I woke up the next morning and heard, “Mind Body Medicine Mind Body Medicine Mind Body Medicine,” replay like a broken record in my head. I had gotten introduced to Mind Body Medicine when I was doing my medical training in California, and completely FELL IN LOVE. It was the opposite of boring for me. I was passionate about it. I was hooked on studying it in my spare time. However, when I moved to Charlotte, there were no practices specializing in that, so I let it be on the back burner. AKA, I let my heart and passions be on the back burner when it came to my career. Yes, I wanted to be more holistic, but I settled for half-assing it.

I made a choice to pursue passion. 

Friday @ 7:15 AM- A spontaneous thought sparked into my consciousness. “I wonder if the Center’s for Mind Body Medicine are putting on their beginner’s training anytime soon?” I go onto google, only to find that not only are they about to have their Beginner’s Training Course in Monterey, but it is THAT MONDAY AND THERE ARE SPOTS OPEN. My heart immediately switched from deep sorrow into a joyous heap of flesh that was beating with excitement. I HAD TO GO. 

Friday @ 7:30 AM- Call my former husband to coordinate and tell him what is going on (since we still shared a budget at that moment in time). He gives a green light of support. 

Friday @ 7:45 AM- Found and bought a cheap flight online to San Francisco. 

Friday @ 7:50 AM- Found and bought a rental car. 

Friday @7:58 AM- Signed up for my spot at the beginner’s training. 

Sunday @ 330 PM- Arrived in California. 

IMG_0753.JPG

From being laid off to the beaches of Cali in 72 hours…

For the type of training I had wanted for almost 2 years.

It wasn’t even 72 hours prior that I had a “solid” job, was feeling safe and secure (lacking passion though), to being unemployed, terrified, yet full of joy pursuing my true passions in California. I remember arriving at the Asilomar in Monterey with all of my fellow learners. They said, “What brought you here?” I said, “Well, I got laid off 72 hours ago, saw this was going on. I really wanted to come and just said f*** it, I am going. So here I am!” Most people were like, “What?!?!? That’s awesome!!!” And you know what… it was! It was so totally awesome. In the sudden shift, I made a spontaneous decision. It felt SO GOOD to ALLOW something good like this to happen to myself. I decided to experiment with it more. Was it terrifying? You better believe it. I was terrified, but when you are doing something you love and are passionate about, the fear starts to subside, and love seems to overtake. 

As the training went on, I knew this was exactly where I was supposed to be. I knew this was the direction I was taking my career as a healer. How that was going to look, I was not sure. People kept asking, “What are you going to do with this?” I said, “I honestly don’t know yet, but I will find out.” I decided to let it come together before I made any decisions. Luckily I had Airbnb running out of my house and could support myself through that in the meantime. That is where the planning balance came in… planning my business! 

I wanted to be living my most authentic, joyous, passionate, and fun life, but how that looked, I wasn’t sure, I just knew how it felt. I didn’t need to figure out everything right in that moment. I was open. I am not saying you can’t set goals or have dreams… by all means. But I have come to find that the more we can be present and tune into where we feel joy, alive, and whole, then the rest tends to fall into place. One thing that the Buddhist tradition has taught us well is that expectations lead to suffering. I am done with my life has to look a certain way for those conditions to be met.

Then September 2017 came. It was weeks before my 31st birthday and I got a text message from my old buddy in San Diego, Sam. He said he had gotten rerouted to Charlotte and was stuck here for 7 hours on a layover, and asked if I wanted to meet up. I was like… “Ummm, I’m unemployed and free as a mofo. Sure!”

We met up for coffee and got the chatting. We had not seen each other in a year, so it was a lot of catching up. He had a new baby with his wife, and life was very different for both of us. Halfway through our conversation, he mentioned how they were going to UtopiaFest 2 weeks from that day. This is a music festival in the middle of Texas. “You want to come?” My heart was singing yes, so I said, “YES!” When I woke up that morning I certainly did not know that I was going to see an old friend and then get invited to a music festival in Texas 2 weeks later. But alas, it happened.

I got spontaneous with that s***, and let it happen. I packed up my car 2 weeks later, and hit the road to Austin. Just me, my honda fit, and all of my clothes and snacks. I had an 11 hour drive ahead of me on my birthday eve to New Orleans. 

Abraham Hicks says it best… Stop naming the conditions of your joy. I was unemployed, going through a divorce, and alone by myself in this divey bar restaurant in New Orleans on the eve of my 31st birthday on my way to Texas, having one of my favorite meals (fries and mussels). And all I could feel and think was how this was the most peace and passion I have ever felt. It was simply coming from me letting go of what my life should look like and let it be what it was meant to be…Allowing passion and spontaneity to exist. 

On my way to Utopiafest in Texas. One of many spontaneous decisions of 2017 that had my heart full. ALL THE GLITTER AND SPARKLES.

Good times with old friends who opened their heart up to invite me to a weekend of music in Texas Hill Country.

Good times with old friends who opened their heart up to invite me to a weekend of music in Texas Hill Country.

I was now in the throws of having a clean slate to create the life I wanted. Sometimes it is thrown on us (like it was with me), or sometimes we drop everything ourselves to go for it. Either way,it is a choice. There are many pieces to the puzzle of living a passionate life with less boredom. And a piece of that puzzle was allowing more spontaneity, and allowing things to come to me. It was to have an idea of where I was going, but let things happen without planning along the way. 

After the festival, I kept thinking about jobs. Again, I knew I wanted to do something with mind body medicine, but wasn’t sure how that was going to look. I wanted it to naturally come to me instead of shooting from the hip. But what was I going to do in the meantime? What am I passionate about? Travel. So, apply part-time to the airlines? But of course. Finally, a job opened up. 

airlines erika.jpg

When opportunity comes to you, you can either say yes or no.

Passion is different for everyone. What turns me on is not necessarily going to turn you on, and vice versa. Not everyone loves to travel, or cook. I do not like hunting but some people are fanatics. Follow what rings true for you. Ask if this is serving you, and filling your heart or filling the holes within you. Be mindful. Your body is constantly trying to stay in balance with homeostasis. You need balance, and sometimes balance requires saying “no” to an opportunity. 

For example, this week I was invited by a friend to go to Vietnam for Christmas. I have no plans for Christmas except to work, which I can drop, but I do not want to. I feel like grounding this month and staying in Charlotte, working on finishing some house projects and doing some more local things. Vietnam is definitely on my list of travels, but if I were to go right now, it would feel unbalanced. I struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out for those not savvy in that lingo), and so saying “no” is more the struggle for me to stay balanced anymore. With this trip, if I were to say “yes,” I would have some anxiety about it because I would not have listened to my deeper intuition. When the time is right, it is YES to Vietnam! Listen to your inner wisdom. Balance. Ask yourself why you are saying “yes” or “no” to passion and spontaneity. 


Here are some other of my spontaneous stories from 2018.

In March, a girlfriend, who I work out with from time to time, came up to me after a workout one day. “I have airline miles I haven’t used yet. Can we go somewhere?” My reply was of course, “Hell yeah! Where do you want to go?” After deciding between oceans or mountains, east or west, domestic or international, we decided within weeks to go to Antelope Canyon And Horseshoe Bend in Arizona/Utah.

horseshoe bend .jpg

Another girlfriend of mine asked me, “What are you doing for 4th of July weekend?” This was not long before the 4th… it was perhaps weeks. I said, “Nothing.” “You want to go to a National Park?” “Sure!” After some talk back and forth, we decided on Glacier in Montana.

glacier.jpg

And lastly, later this year I was looking for some photographers in Charlotte. I found a couple team that matched my style. We got the talking, and they found out I travel a lot. They said, “This is random, but we are going to Ireland in November. If you want to join us for a day shoot there, you’re welcome to.” Say WHAT!?!?! I said if things worked out with my businesses, I would. Five days before their trip, I aligned my schedule right and said YES. I met them there for a dream shoot on the Irish coast and a church built in 1266 AD. It was a photoshoot dream come true.

ireland.jpg

You will always, ALWAYS, have an excuse to say no to your passions. To remain in boredom. To choose fear over spontaneity. I am not here to talk you out of it, but simply to educate and empower. My prescription for of all of you is to allow more passion (from the love in your heart) and some more spontaneity in your life. Boredom is a risk factor for health, and this is one piece of the puzzle to combat it. Take it in the doses appropriate for you!

Shine on,

Erika

References:

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/003172171409500807?journalCode=pdka

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-of-boredom/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/(SICI)1097-4679(200001)56:1%3C149::AID-JCLP14%3E3.0.CO;2-Y

https://healthandage.com/boredom-may-lead-to-heart-disease-stroke-death-23769.html































Erika ShepardComment