The infamous journey of If Not Now, When (part 1)

This post is about taking stock of the If Not Now When journey so far. It all began the year I turned 50, a time of reflection, resolutions, urgency and determination. My adventure is far from over and continues now, four years later, with more gusto and fervor and, hopefully, lessons learned and applied, so hang on to your hat (as I hang on to mine).

As we close out another turbulent year I thought it might be nice to reflect in hindsight, so to speak, and take stock in what was, what is, and what’s still coming. Thank you for your readership and follow – it means the world to me to be able to share my insights with so many of you.

In the past four years, I celebrated both small and large accomplishments. It’s been a bit of a battle at times, but then we all know that life’s events do not unfold in a linear fashion. We plan and focus and strategize and set goals and intentions and the next thing we know we’re in a pandemic with endless lockdowns followed by political fiascos and labour disruptions and illnesses and mental health crises… The last couple of years have been a major pain in the ass for many of us much of the time, but all we can do is continue to put one foot in front of the other and carry on.

And carry on I did, with some major and minor changes affecting much of my life.

But I digress. I wasn’t going to list all the ups and downs in this post, but rather focus on a few key points.

Here’s the most important lesson I learned in this If Not Now, When journey:

The present moment is where the action is.
The past shapes us into who we are today, but it’s in the present moment where we manifest and co-create our desired results.

Claudette, Writer of Words etc

A second lesson I’ve learned over the years I’d like to share with you has to do with thinking, or more specifically, becoming aware of the type of thoughts we think.

Did you know we recycle the same thoughts day in and day out? Pay attention to your thoughts one day and make note of them, mentally or by writing them down. It’s pretty amazing how often we repeat the same events, patterns and behaviours because of these repetitive thoughts.

Why is that? Why do we do this? We do we act like a programmed robot and live the same life over and over again?

I’ve come to some conclusions which I will briefly touch on now. This is how I understand it:

Our subconscious mind acts like a an algorithm in an app. It searches for stored information of past events and brings it forward to our conscious mind.

But that’s not all.

The reason we react the same way every time something happens to us now has to do with the feelings and emotions we attached to that event or experience in the past.

Claudette, Writer of Words etc

Think about it:

The deeper and stronger the feeling was during some event or experience, the deeper and harder the emotions are anchored into us. So when we’re triggered, it’s not just the memory that is called up, but the associated emotions come with it. We don’t just remember what happened the last time, we feel the same way.

I finally understood how this works, and I’m continuously on alert now to override a thought, especially a negative emotional one, so I can replace it with a new one.

“Go away,” I say to the old thought when it arrives with its cumbersome emotional sidekick. “You are an old thought and you no longer serve my purposes.”

It’s amazing how well this works. I will write an essay about this with tips on how you, too, can learn to do this, so please stay tuned.

This whole thing has been a fascinating awakening.

In the past year (2022), after several months of studying the effects of the subconscious mind, I realized that we all have a choice:

We can choose what to think and what to do.
We do not have to succumb to the refrain of previous thoughts and actions.

Claudette, Writer of Words etc

I can choose how I react to others and so can you. I can choose not to rush from fire to fire, and so can you. I can halt the fire from igniting and burning out of control, and so can you.

In other words, we are in control of which thoughts we allow ourselves to think and the actions we allow ourselves to take.

You can allow, or dismiss, any thought you want. Why let the negative ones retain the bigger slice of the pie?

If not now, when?
Tomorrow never comes.

I now choose to focus on the small but continuously evolving list of accomplishments to help propel me forward. Although some of my desired outcomes aren’t completed yet, I mostly stayed on track through the detours and disruptions we all encountered with the pandemic. The adverse reactions in my province affected some of my goals more acutely than others… But I’m not sidetracked completely.

I do have one unchanging wish:

Can we never ever have some so-called political experts rule repeated lengthy lockdowns* as a viable option of control on a population? The massive damage that was done on the collective mental health on not just, but especially the youths of my province may never completely recover and heal.

For my family unit, the repercussions continue the echo on an almost daily basis, and we’re one of the lucky ones; my kids might take many steps forward and only a few back at times, but their general motion is forward. Mostly. For many families, the opposite happened/is happening. I know this is true in part because I belong to a parent support group and hear the stories from some people/families in my orbit who struggle with issues far greater than we do. It’s maddening to hear about their ongoing struggles, the inadequacies of certain systems in place, and the massive corruption which I see illuminated more intensely with every passing year.

There is a general helplessness and passive acceptance that those in power are better equipped to deal with things, but quite frankly, some (not all) of these entities and organizations and political figures have created more damage than good.

If you’re one of those families who struggle with serious, seemingly irreparable mental health issues, you have my (limited) understanding in what you might be going through. Trust yourself that your best is good enough. It’s all any of us can do.

*Canada’s most populated province of Ontario was subjected to very rigid, lengthy and repeated lockdowns and restrictions over a period of two years. Initially, we all participated in order to allow the powers to fix prevailing issues in our medical and long-term care industries, but after the second lockdown, where even outdoor playgrounds were blocked off with yellow tape, things became ridiculous. The named industries continue to struggle, but the population pushed back at any mention of forced or made into by-law restrictions and it is my wish that we do not return to any of those excessively severe measures going forward.

Having said all that, I glance back at the past four years with awe at how far I’ve come despite the interruption of lockdowns, the distractions of the political turmoil both here, in Europe and in America especially, the worries about the war in Ukraine and its residual effects on my European family and friends, and other challenges. I have to keep thinking in terms of what I can control (much less than I might have wanted to at one point) and keep directing myself back to my list of desires, goals and interests. It’s hard, and I fail, often, but I learned how to cope better over the years and thanks to my studies of how the brain works, and I stubbornly stick to my path.

I will perhaps create a closing-out post for year-end with measurable strategies and plans to inspire us all to stay on track. I don’t usually set New Year’s resolutions, but my focus has shifted somewhat this past year and I have much to be grateful for, some of which includes the following:

  • My brother is reacting well to cancer treatments and is looking forward to celebrating his 50th birthday and possibly returning to work in the new year in some capacity
  • I have a room with a door where I can write to my heart’s content whenever I am here in my mom’s house, which is regularly but not permanently
  • I still have a car even though I haven’t driven it much in the past few weeks due to ongoing mechanical issues
  • I feel healthier and in better shape physically than I have throughout my 40s and continue to focus on whole food nutrition and physical exercise such as yoga and bike-riding. (And dog-walking, both professionally and with the family Beagle)

This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start and sets the foundation to keep going forward.

Concluding thoughts

Each and every one of us must repeat, with feelings and conviction, that we can do it, whatever we set our minds on. I learned a variety of different strategies to help me push forward, many of which I have written down into a discombobulated mess of notes and ideas. These words are slowly but surely taking shape into readable tips and tricks which I will post on my new Patreon page in the form of essays.

I invite you to stay tuned for the release of these essays, and to join me on Patreon. Look at it as an opportunity to support a writer you enjoy reading – whether you purchase a book or pledge some coins to an app like Patreon, the end result is the same: a writer like me earns some cash in pocket for her efforts to share insights and ideas, and you get to continue to read and engage in content you’ve come to enjoy by this writer (me). I look forward to a new adventure on Patreon but promise to keep blogging here. I mean, I can’t stop, I love this place. 🙂

Meanwhile, believe this:

Each destination we reach in our life journey, no matter how small or insignificant it may appear to others, is simply a resting place, a mini vacation. It could be a goal, a desire or a wish – whatever it is, once you’ve achieved it you deserve to celebrate it. After some well-deserved rest, let us gather our acquired wisdom and begin the trek toward the next destination on our list. The path is open before us. All we have to do is cross the threshold into the next exciting, wonderful unknown.

Thank you for reading my words, for sticking around through my ups and downs, and for follows, comments and emails.




18 thoughts on “The infamous journey of If Not Now, When (part 1)

  1. So much wisdom and perspective here, Claudette. I’ve heard someone refer to our triggers as “painful stories from the past”. I think writers, in particular, are at risk of spending too much time in their heads. Wishing you a New Year of growth and success.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve hit the nail on the head Claudette and clearly have gained a great deal of wisdom over these last few years. The important aspect is that you continue to bring that knowledge forward in every way that you can. We can all embrace that lesson to strive in some way, every day, trying our best not to move backwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Totally agree with the lockdowns. More than ever, it’s become obvious that COVID is something we have to learn to live with…it’s probably never going away. Keeping us imprisoned indefinitely is not the magic cure-all solution and only worsens the mental health crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

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