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Pressed:  Taking a Running Leap by Shelley Robinson

2 Sep

Source: Taking a Running Leap by Shelley Robinson


“I advise you to say your dream is possible and then overcome all inconveniences, ignore all the hassles and take a running leap through the hoop, even if it is in flames.”  Les Brown

Letting Go:  When fear has a death grip on your life to the point that it becomes impossible to breathe, it is time to change.  It often may appear easier to speculate what change might look and feel like by dipping our toes into its frigid cold waters and slowly acclimating to it while clinging to the edge of the dock, than it is to simply take the plunge.  Taking one tentative step after another before submerging into the glorious depths of a new life, often sounds something like this when we are having conversations with people about the “what if’s” that could happen in our lives:

  • “When I get these things finished, I can…”
  • “When I have enough money saved, I will…”
  • “When my partner is ready and available to change, I will…”
  • “When I know exactly what will happen wherever I go, I might…”
  • “When I am feeling really ready, I will try to…”
  • “When I have all of the education and/or qualifications that I will need to be very employable, I will…”
  • “When I sell or rent my home…”
  • “When my children move out…”
  • “When my pets die…”
  • “When I retire and have a pension…”
  • “When I get married…”

Change is terribly frightening, especially when we are sitting on the precipice between the past and the future.  Letting go of a pay cheque; a partner; a way of life filled with a false sense of security and comfort, just seems too impossible because even unsatisfying security is some type of stability never-the-less.  Even when life is life-sucking, soul crunching and/or dysfunctional, it can be more desirable than taking the risk of truly catapulting into a new life where we do not know nor can we control the outcomes.  It is often the devil we know that we will allow to govern our lives, than the one we do not know very well.  In this case, comfort, complacency, security can be the real evil in our lives preventing us from leaping through the fiery hoop to the other side.  The other side could potentially allow us to find our true callings, passions or valuable life experiences.

The Chicken and the Egg Catalyst:  So, what comes first?  The chicken (in this case, ourselves, taking the final steps towards letting go of an old life and embracing the new), or the egg (the promise or guarantee of something to which we can cling onto at the other side)?  Do we just leap without any guarantee of another side (a job, partner, financial security, an education…)?  Should we be reckless as our conservative parents taught us not to be?  Or do we wait for somethinganything to come along and propel us into a new opportunity where we can make a change with some sense of security?  Common sense tells us that it is the latter that is the wiser choice.  We need that little catalyst or motivator.  We will wait for some sign from some source, and follow it because it represents safety within the change we hope to adopt.

However, what if the wisest choice is to let go completely, and search for that which truly inspires us to be our authentic selves?  This would mean not clinging to our old lives, nor grasping for a solid new one; rather, it means leaping with faith.  The faith would be trusting ourselves, knowing that we are capable of thoughtfully discerning what we need as we move forward.  It also means having faith that we have the where-with-all to find a means to support ourselves (either in the solo or in the tandem leap) so that we will be okay in the end.  The trust comes in knowing and believing in our own capacity to land on our feet.

Reaching for the Right Stars:   So the question arises, what do we truly need in our lives?

I need to be creative.  I need to feel efficacy in my own life experience.  I especially need to know that I have voice in relationship to others.  Having self love and respect, and the love and respect for and of others is also paramount to whatever I do from this point forward.  Nature will need to be an essential part of everything I do.  I need to know what the rest of the world looks, feels, sounds, tastes and smells like.  And most importantly, I want to share this with someone special in a long term and committed way.  Therefore, my stars need to shine on those priorities and I need to align my sextant to these stars so that I can find my directions, and get my real life bearings.  The rest…will fall into place because I will be living my truth.


Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Fifty: The Top Ten Things I Learned in My First 50 Years

22 Jun

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Fifty: The Top Ten Things I Learned in My First 50 Years.



Shelley’s Truisms

1. Time is everything. Do not take it for granted, and do not fill it with empty experiences that you will never remember. Make every minute of it create a memory for you and the people around you.

2. Love is a verb. Do not waste time on people who do not say what they mean and do what they say. Life is too short to wait around for other people to keep their promises. The little promises mean the most.

3. Solve problems, make decisions, and stop talking about them. Life is too short to sit around agonizing over things. Roll up your sleeves, and find ways to fix things right away before they become bigger. Better yet, look ahead and prevent problems before they happen.

4. Live with integrity. It is important to be able to look at yourself everyday in the mirror, and know that you take the higher road in life, regardless of how you are treated. Your character is measured by how you behave under pressure.

5. Live with passion. If you are not doing what you love with the people who matter, you are not living. You are simply living a life of obligation. Only do (where absolutely possible) what you love.

6. Make grand gestures. Who says Valentine’s Days don’t matter? All celebrations, whether commercially driven or other, matter. Celebrate everything often, and treat the people around you with big and happy gestures of love. Again, you are making memories.

7. Do Nothing:  The sweetness of doing nothing, or as the Italians say: “Il dolce far niente” is something that I still aspire to have more of in my life. Meditate. Slow down. Do nothing…often.

8. Eat well. Avoid foods that inflame the body. You know what they are. Just make the discipline to stop eating them. Your body will thank you for it.

9. Exercise in nature. Avoid institutional exercise, and get into the woods. The trees help rejuvenate our minds, bodies and souls.

10. Be Open:  Reach out to God through intentional living. Keep all of your doors open because when you keep your options open, good things happen at every turn. Be open to whatever he has in store for you. God is taking care of us.

Love, Shelley

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Forty-Nine: What’s in a Name? My Journey of Names

17 Jun

What’s in a Name?  My Journey of Names


Dr. Shelley Robinson

The Significance of Titles:  Our society seems fascinated with this idea of titles or we would not keep using them.  Both women and men have been addressing each other with titles in front of sir-names for centuries.  It has been a way to formalize social significance and relevance, business prominence and academic status.  It helps people to understand that certain people fit into various social categories, perhaps due to their status by birth, marriage, caste system, regal relationships, academic performance and other.  For example, when women move from the title of Miss to Mrs., it has traditionally been the way to show that they belong to, or are (in some countries) owned by their husbands. Having a title is also a way to remind people of our roles in a hierarchical organization such as the military where there are clear chains of command.

For the “entitled” person, a title can help define us to the world in ways that mean something to us and everyone around us.  However, I have also learned that having a title can be perceived as a means of setting us apart from the people around us.  I have learned that titles can garner respect, admiration, jealousy, disinterest, curiosity, confusion and a sense of belonging in various communities.  My observations in my own experience in this journey of titles is simply this: whether we choose to take on a title, or to ignore it altogether, people pay attention.

Miss:  In the past, when people referenced me as Miss Robinson, I got the distinct impression that they were reminding me and others around me of my age and the fact that they did not see a ring on my finger.  Being a “Miss” felt as though I was very young and very single.  However, when  I was referred to as Miss Robinson by my students, as opposed to them simply referring to me as my first name, which is Shelley, I felt as though I was being treated with respect as their teacher.

I grew up in a family where I referred to all my parents’ friends by their last names.  I would not think of calling my parents’ generation (friends or otherwise) by their first names.  It just did not seem appropriate, and my parents nor their friends encouraged me to use their first names.  To this day, I have a difficult time referring to anyone who is in a higher position of authority, age or position of respect by their first names.

Mrs.:  When I was getting married, this idea of being referred to as a Mrs. was both exciting and perplexing.  I was not keen on giving up my last name as I was born with it, and had accomplished a lot in my academic and professional work with the name Robinson.  However, I found this idea of identifying myself as a married woman a very acceptable shift to everyone around me.  At my age, it was just the socially acceptable thing to do and like all rites of passage, the wedding and celebration encouraged it.

However, to give up my last name was a major life shift for me.  I struggled with this shift because I didn’t recognize myself by the name, nor did any of the music community where I had established myself as a musician.  Each time I had people refer to me by this other name, I looked around to see who it was.  I also felt as though I was giving up on the Robinson name as the oldest child.  I worried that if my sister and I changed our names, and our children took our new married names, the Robinson name would be lost.  As it happened, my son did take on the Smith name, and my sisters’ children are now Taylor, and so the Robinson name will not pass down through my father’s line.  However, I returned to my maiden name after my divorce, and continued on in my life both personally and professionally as a Robinson.  It felt like putting on an old pair of comfortable shoes, and I decided not to make another change to my last name again.  However, giving up the title and name was easier for me than the world around me.  My son then had a different last name than myself.  When I travelled, people had difficulty wondering why I was not a Mrs.  It is less common around the world to be a woman over 40 without a married title.

Ms.:  However, the conundrum of titles continued.  As I aged, it was obvious that I was not a Miss to people any longer.  People stumbled over calling me Ma’m and I had no ring on my finger to identify myself as a Mrs.  The title choice then remained to be called a Ms.  For some women, this title is a source of pride and neutrality that prevents them from falling into any social category.  I remember my French teacher demanding that her students never forget that she was a Ms.

For me, it reminded me that I was now a “mature”, unmarried, and confusing social anomaly to the general population, including myself.  I was not impressed with this idea that I had to announce on paper forms at every turn that I was now “divorced”, and a “Ms.”  In fact, I would often defiantly check off “single” and refrain from choosing off any title at all.  Whose business was my title anyway?

Dr.:   After many years of being in formal education to achieve a doctorate of education, I graduated with a PhD.  At the graduation, we were told by our valedictorian to never be embarrassed by our education and titles; rather, to be proud of our experience and knowledge in the world of academia and beyond.  It was an important name to share with others, including the younger generation of academics, and in my case, young women who aspired to the same level of education.  I was told by a couple of fellow graduands that same convocation that the title Dr. could never be taken from me.  When I returned to school the day after my graduation ceremony, the principal at that time, had my name plate on the door changed.  It now proudly announced that I was Dr. Robinson.  In Alberta, this academic status change was well-respected, and I felt good to have students calling me Doc Rob.  As well, with some relief, I no longer had to explain my lack of marital status.

However, what I have learned recently is that this title is also one that other people find intimidating.  In a world where academic accomplishment can be perceived as pretentious, we are sometimes encouraged to shed out titles.  Therefore, despite being called Dr. Robinson for a number of years in Alberta and then in BC; now in rural BC, and smaller community settings, I have been told that the norm is to refer to each other without titles, and by our first names.  For me, giving up both my title and my last name has been difficult, but I have embraced this idea given the cultural disposition and in some cases, outward hostility towards what they perceive to be an unnecessary formality.

Reclaiming My Name:  What becomes apparent to me is that my name is my own choice.  My name is also a sense of personal and professional identity.  I can choose my own name and title, and yet, I need to be thoughtful of being new to a community where this does not seem to be socially understood or acceptable.  I suppose I need to examine why the title and last name are important to me.  Do I need to be distinguished as academically superior, or is this title something that I should be proud of representing all of my hard work?  It was a very rigorous program and a huge accomplishment to complete as a single mother at a time where I was working full time.  As well, does being referred to by my first name actually strip me of my self-respect?  Has my upbringing of being referred to my last name make this my preference in the work world right?

But then after over-thinking all of the above and this matter of having had four titles and two last names in my lifetime, I find myself gravitating towards this final conclusion.  I think when I am about to turn 50 years old, I can choose to be called by any name that I choose.  Perhaps I’ll refrain from being called Queen of Sheba or Madam President and especially single names like God.  However, I think that my name Dr. Shelley Robinson needs to be reclaimed for my own re-identification.  I am a Dr. due to my academic degree because I have earned it.  As well, I am no longer a Miss, Mrs. nor Ms.  But most importantly, I want to carry on the Robinson name, and I would like to be referred to it as a form of respect when working with people in the world at large.  My first name has, and will always be Shelley, but I will continue to reserve it for those who are close to me in family, personal and professional circles.