Life Is Not A Test


Life is not a test.

I realized a few days ago that I live my life as if it’s a test I have to pass. Something in me decided this a long time ago, probably in elementary school.

The test never ends. I never know if I have aced it or failed it. I don’t know who the tester is, or if there is one tester or many. I don’t know what the questions are and whether I’ve been asked one, and if I answered correctly or not.

This explains a lot. It explains why I am keyed up and have to consciously work at relaxing my body and mind. Why I often look at others and feel I can’t stand equal with them. Why I always feel I am being judged. Why I don’t play enough and feel vaguely guilty when I do. Why everything I do has to have a purpose. Why I am frequently not satisfied and pass by my successes, barely giving them and me any acknowledgment. Why I make something, love what I’ve created, then it’s bang—onto the next thing right away because I have no time to waste.

How sad.

I can say, and mean it and know it, that I am happy most of the time in my life. This is true. My heart is open and present and connected and creating. I can feel it, most of the time, loving and joyful.

Yet there is this sneaky background tension running the other stuff I listed three paragraphs back. These are feelings I have been ignoring, that creep in between my love and joy and happiness.

Time to make a choice and let this go.

I choose there is no test. No Test. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

There is only my life and what I choose to create in it. And no test.

I am letting these words, and my choice, sink in. This feels better. This feels GOOD.

My shoulders drop two inches. I can breathe. I can enjoy what I am doing. I can play.

Tigger and Totoro--Go Play!
Tigger and Totoro–Go Play!

Yes. I can play. I can wander out of that stuffy Life Classroom I caged myself in, give the door a slam on the way out, and watch the whole place collapse in a heap. Better yet, invite Wile E. Coyote to blow it sky high with one of his Acme missiles. Right on target. Ka-boom! Wile E. takes a bow. The Road Runner and I applaud. Then we all go play. Dibs on the slide!

Yes. Life is not a test. Go play.


Note:  This piece was originally posted two years ago.  I am re-posting it today because these last two weeks I managed to trap myself in the Life Classroom again.  Yes, feeling tested, feeling not good enough and not worthy, feeling anxious for no good reason.  Most important of all, not allowing myself to play.  Today I am choosing all over again.  I choose I love all of myself.  I choose life is not a test.  I choose I am allowed to play and enjoy life whenever I please.

After this post is done, I am playing for the remainder of the day!  Yahoooooo!   Maybe you should go let yourself play for a while today too.


Embracing My Inner Tantrum

‘When I Took It All Apart, There Was Nothing Left’

It’s Thursday.  Blog writing day.  I want to be all sunny today, writing lovely positive words.

Nope.  My inner two-year-old took over on Monday and is having an extended tantrum.

‘No’ is my word right now.  No, I don’t want to work on my book.  No, I don’t want to draw.  No, I don’t want to read anything enlightening.  No, no, no, and no.

The funny thing is I am totally okay with writing my morning pages.  Usually these are what I resist doing.  Not this week.  My inner two-year-old is taking great delight in having permission to whine, complain, be ratty and growly as much as she pleases in the morning pages.

In fact I have given myself full permission to be as ornery as I want for as long as I want.  I have decided to embrace my inner tantrumy-self.

Usually I try to push my bad attitudes away.  Cure them somehow.  Cheer myself up.  Force myself to be upbeat.

But halfway through Tuesday’s morning pages I write, ‘I am tired of pushing myself.’  Six words.  They stop me in my tracks.  I sit there, pen and mind stilled.  I say out loud, ‘Oh.’

I can feel the truth of this.  I want to love myself exactly as I am.  Always pushing and always reaching doesn’t let me be settled with who I am right now.  Instead, it keeps saying ‘not good enough’.

I’m tired of being not good enough.

I need to love myself now.  My inner two-year-old needs love and hugs.  I need to be loved for who I am, however I am, always.  No exceptions.  Love myself whether I am having a tantrum like now, or whether I am feeling clear and light and joyful.

Love all my moods.  Love all my flaws.  Love all my talents.  Love all my beauties.  Love the whole of me that makes me human.  Love me, Cat, the wabi sabi human.

This says I am good enough now.  This says I love myself now and I am lovable now.  This says I am perfectly imperfect.

I can handle being a wabi sabi human.


Authentically Me

What Gives Me Joy Nov 5 2016 (see)

I have been on a theme in my life.  Uncovering my authentic self.  This has been going on since, at age 37, I quit my government job and became an art student.

The question is why wasn’t I my true self, and why did I have to go find me?

I have been peeling away the masks and costumes and finally, I think (I hope), I have come to the childhood experience that moved me away from who I was and into what others expected me to be.

I know that my childhood experiences created sets of beliefs about myself, and those beliefs created habits and patterns of behaviour that sometimes served me and sometimes harmed me.  This one did both.

I am the oldest child in my family.  You who are the oldest, you know what I am about to say.  At 3 years old my identity was changed, from just ‘Cathy’ to ‘The Big Sister’.  How I understood this was not my parents’ fault or intention.  It was simply that, at 3, things were one way or another.  There was nothing in between.  I had been ‘Cathy’.  Now I wasn’t.

Here is what I understood, the beliefs that I created.  I could not longer be just me.  I could no longer be intent and focused on what interested me alone, so deeply focused that the outside world disappeared.  I could no longer play.  I had to be responsible.  I had to keep my sister safe.  To keep her safe, I had to choose what my sister needed over what I needed and wanted.  I had to have a wide awareness that included more than what I wanted to do for myself.  I had to give away a piece of everything I received, including giving away myself.  Nothing was mine alone.

When I read this last paragraph, my mind judges and says I am complaining and being selfish.

Yes I am.  It is my self I lost, and my self I am reclaiming.  Through these drawings, I am claiming what gives me joy.  Reconnecting me to my heart.  Reconnecting to what is important to me.  Being Cat.  Artist.  Writer.  An individual, authentically me.  Loving my self.  And when I love my self, it is easy to love others.


The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!