© 2014 Marica


While on a walk around the Tokaanu natural thermal area earlier this week, I noticed a plant I had never seen before. It was covered in seed pods that looked like peas. As I looked more closely at the different coloured pods I wondered if they were the flowers of this plant.

I loved the softness of the pink pods with their graduated colouring from a darker pink through to an extremely pale pink that looked almost white. These pink pods looked fleshy and full of vitality. They looked like they could burst open at any moment and expose what lay within. The pale green pods were a complete contrast. They looked so young as though they were only just beginning life. It was the black pods that had the greatest impact on me. They stood out boldly and proudly. They talked to me of strength and individuality even though they looked a bit shrivelled up. The hairs on the edges of these darker pods looked all fuzzy, soft and inviting. I wanted to reach out and stroke them and make a physical connection. They reminded me of a beautiful soft shawl enveloping and protecting everything beneath its folds. I was taken by this open expression of softness and fragility that would normally be hidden from public view. I saw before me an expression of contrasting extremes that appeared so natural and comfortable together. These black pods resonated a completely different kind of energy that I loved and connected with. As I spent time looking at these black pods my mind wandered to what it was like to be older and the many life lessons we learn as we age. I considered picking one of the pods so I could look inside but this somehow seemed wrong to me. I didn’t want to disturb the natural flow and process that was taking place.

I took a number of photos of this plant but it was this grouping of black pods suspended horizontally in the air that I connected with deeply. The pods looked striking against the backdrop of the foliage green foliage and the way they were grouped reminded me of the direction signposts we see on our roads. I felt these black pods were trying to talk to me only there were no words to guide me so I could understand their message.

Over the past year I have questioned many decisions I have made that relate to my dreams of living a different kind of life. I am craving the desire to do the work I want to be doing without compromising a sustainable existence for myself and my family. I have dreamed of this change for many years and have spent a huge amount of time, energy and money on preparing myself for this new way of working and living. As I come to the crossroads of needing to make a decision about which direction I will take, I find myself wondering whether it may not be more appropriate to quit instead of persist. Is my dream idealistic and unrealistic? I have fluctuated all year on my answer to this question.

Yesterday I was reading an article in the latest issue of the Flow magazine (a Christmas present to myself) about research focused on quitting based on the book Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why it Matters in Life, Work and Love by Peg Streep and Alan Bernstein. In a nutshell the article was saying that we are programmed to persist but this doesn’t always serve us well and sometimes we need to stop trying so hard and move on to something else.

Heroism isn’t only found in perseverance; sometimes it’s heroic to stop persevering. It can be terrifying to quit doing something; you don’t know if  things will turn out as you hope. Yet, the key to a happier life is daring to accept when something isn’t working for you, and make room for new opportunities. Because quitting is never the end. It’s the first step to a better future.

Source: Streep, P. (2014, December). Mastering the art of quitting. Flow, 7, pp. 72-73.

After reading this article I started to wonder whether the time had come to finally make the decision to give up on my dream of working more creatively with people and being able to spend time developing my own art. I am enrolled to begin in January the clinical year of a three year training programme at Masters level to become an arts therapist. I have wanted this so much but the toll it has taken on me and my family as I work full-time in a demanding job and study full-time has been immense. This is like a two edged sword because I need both to make the dream a reality – one provides the funds to pursue the other.

After looking at my black pods I realise they aren’t telling me to stop. Quitting isn’t the answer. They are telling me to keep going (as is that fire that burns constantly within me). My whole being wants this despite the benefits quitting might bring me. I know I have the ability, skills and drive to make my dream real even if I am a bit tired at the moment. I am going to persevere. The black pods are guiding me. They are a sign that I need to keep going and pick the path I want to take and see what happens. If that doesn’t work there is always another way – another route to take.

Today, I am making the commitment to myself to persevere and stop wasting energy on questioning the path I have chosen to take. I am taking charge. If it doesn’t work out as I anticipated, I will re-assess the situation and make a new plan.

04. Every day is an opportunity to cultivate the promise of the future.
36. Every day be still. Connect to your inner being. Listen and be guided by it.
38. Every day be brave and give things a go. Use fear to trigger you into action.