Playing by the rules.
by Tania Carriere
November 26, 2016 - 9:07am

This year we had a glorious fall- full of sunshine, bright blue skies and warm breezes. The leaves continued to dance on the trees well past the date that we should have been raking them into big brown compost bags. I took time to sit on the patio, under the heaters, with a warm cup of coffee in hand, laughing and enjoying the sense of reprieve that seemed to be in all of our spirits. “Glorious day isn’t it!” we said to one another at the cash registers and bus stops. We were almost giddy knowing that winter was still weeks away.

The next day it snowed.

And it wasn’t tidy. It wasn’t in order. It was a bit perplexing. Mother nature had it wrong. She goofed. It was out of sequence. Everything looked a little higgledy-piggledy. Even the squirrels seemed to be caught off-guard. We scrambled to find mitts and coats and get the patio furniture stored away for the season.

Boots on, (ugh) I went for a walk in the woods and smiled at the juxtaposition of seasons out of order. It felt like I was witnessing a little inside joke, a little reminder that life doesn’t always happen according to schedule, to rules, to “the way it is supposed to be”.

Oh, that phrase “the way it is supposed to be”…

It comes up a lot in my tapes. I hear it followed by a whole list of things I “should” have done, or “should” do, or “should” be.

It’s a really long list.

It’s an exhausting list.

I hate that list.

It comes with my attachment to order and “the way I like it”. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done the work over the years to clear out the tendencies of perfectionism. I have deliberately let go of my need to be in control of everything and have it “just so”. I have practiced the art of spontaneity, Saturdays unplanned with the laundry sometimes still undone, workshops allowed to flow with client’s needs overriding agendas, letting my husband choose which way we’ll take to get to the theatre (even though I know a faster way).

I’m very proud to say most of the time I live in this authentic place of being present with whomever I am having tea with and not planning and projecting my persona, my next move, my next story.

And yet… when my Kindle tells me I have only read 37% of the last book I opened I feel the “shoulds” come along. I should finish the book, (rule: all books should be read to the end – even the ones you don’t like), I should tidy my office (rule: all desks should be clean – even if you are more creative in clutter), I should send a birthday wish to that friend (rule: all friends should be acknowledged on their day even if you forgot because facebook reminded you).

As I walk through the snow I hear the rhythm of the list build and I intentionally turn it off and soften into the moment. Tania -there are no shoulds.

Look around you. Nature doesn’t work on a calendar. She also doesn’t always respect order. She doesn’t finish the book when it is boring, she doesn’t care if snow falls on leaves. Sometimes she turns up the heat. I think she just smiles at it all. I’d like to think she is content just to play by her own rules.

Ouuu, I like the sound of that.

Playing by my own rules:

  • Read the book until it is no longer captivating.
  • Work wherever your creative spirit calls you to.
  • Call the friends you miss, when you miss them.
  • Eat when you are hungry, not because the clock says “lunchtime”.
  • Ignore the ringing phone unless now is when you want to talk to that person.
  • Wear pyjamas all day when you are writing.
  • Don’t finish the bottle of wine you don’t like, put it in the spaghetti sauce.
  • There is no “way it is supposed to be”. Only the glorious choices I get to make and the chance to play by my own rules.

And sometimes there is exquisite beauty to be found when snow falls on the leaves.

In celebration,


Steve Rigbyon November 27, 2016 - 10:49am

Interesting perspective. Dewitt said to check it out. As usual, he was right.

thanks Steve! I agree, he is usually right about all things to do with perspective!

Sherylon November 27, 2016 - 11:42am

I have a good friend whose family came up with the phrase "Don't should all over yourself!" Easier to say than it is to do : ) I think I'm a lot like you, Tania, and I've also been working on just being present in the moment. I love your rules, and I'm always on the lookout for the exquisite beauty in life. Thanks for the lovely post!

hello fellow beauty finder,
I love that saying and it makes me giggle...especially when I say "uh, oh...I jus should all over myself". It gets a huge smile out of my clients who appreciate the humour and the vulnerable truth of the moment. enjoy the day!

Barb Bozzoon November 27, 2016 - 1:17pm

I loved your very pertinent blog, Tania. My husband has always been the "perfectionist" person with his obsession with orderliness and "everything should fall in order and be in place" attitude. He is now being faced with health issues that has thrown him into deep anxiety over something that is "beyond his control". I see this shift in his demeanor affecting his physical health as well as his mental health. Luckily he recognizes it as a problem and will be avidly working on it with a therapist. For me, I have noticed that as the years go by, as I age and become more "wise", I just naturally recognize the importance of letting go of the "shoulds" and "what ifs" and concentrating more on the "so be its" - living in the moment and enjoying and accepting the joy that it brings to my life. Thanks for your awesome perspective and encouraging us all to rewrite our "shoulds list" to fit a more realistic, functional way of living.

Barb,Ah the power of choice and recognizing that "perfection" includes all the things that makes us uncomfortable. because Humans are learning beings we must have trials, half-steps, explorations and in those moments come the unpredictability of life! It is, for me, remember ing that energy comes with choice, including the choice to let it go and wait and see.
All the best to your husband! Enjoy your lists.

Serena Mikellon November 27, 2016 - 8:28pm

It was a cliche but there is something different about this one that made me like it.

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