From worrying about the doing to caring about the being

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From worrying about the doing to caring about the being

James Stanfield discusses how doing what he loved almost killed him, and how he now continues to do what he loves and has never felt more alive.


As a young boy I would play the usual games boys would play, however I would often find myself – usually on rainy days or when there was no one else around – drawing lines and shapes with a ruler. My mother would occasionally buy me Spirographs (for those old enough to remember), which I would use to draw patterns and designs.

In my ‘back to school’ packs my favourite and most prized possessions would always be the compass, protractor, set squares and pencils. In my teen years when people would ask me what sort of career I would like, I always pictured myself with a hard hat on and a roll of plans under my arm. It is no wonder that when I left school I became a draftsman.

I have always felt that we all have innate qualities that are there for us to express. These qualities when expressed in full offer an expansion or growth to not only ourselves but to those around us. In reverse, if we do not honour these qualities it can stifle or cripple us from expanding or moving forward in our lives.

In 1992 I started my own contract drafting business. From the first day I knew this is what I was here to offer society. However, looking back I cringe at my mindset and how driven I was to make money. My business was at the forefront of my Lifestyle Bubble; I was identified by what I did, not who I was. Of course I could draft and produce a quality product, however my main focus was on making money. If needed I would work 16 hour days 7 days a week to get the job done; I never realised there was such a thing as self-care for men. Along with this tough work ethic I would also play hard, binge drinking on weekends and not taking any care with my diet.

I would ignore my body and what it was telling me, to a point where, in my late twenties, I contracted a virus called Guillain-Barre, which rendered me about 90% paralysed below the waist. Even with this illness I had some twisted thought that I couldn’t possibly stop as I had to make money to provide for my young family and I didn’t take any time for myself during the illness, or even through recovery. During the extended rehab phase the only extra thing I took on was working out in the gym to rebuild my strength, which I do to this day, however nothing else changed. I was given a massive wakeup call that the way I was living was not working, but like a lot of men I kept powering ahead as I felt a huge responsibility to provide for my family no matter the cost. Little did I realise, or want to realise, that the cost was my health and without my health what could my working life have looked like in the future.

By not altering my behaviour there could only ever be one outcome and by my mid-forties my body started to shut down. I was still in denial. It wasn’t until after a New Year’s Eve party – which landed me in hospital with undiagnosed abdominal pains and was close to the worst pain I had ever experienced – that I vowed never to drink again. This was an affirmation my wife had heard many times before after many hangovers. However this time it was different, and I could feel my body screaming at me to change how I was living, and for the record I have kept that vow. This time the wakeup call was heeded.

It was also around this time in my life that I was introduced to the teachings of Universal Medicine: what I was hearing and seeing presented was something I could resonate with. After refining my diet and my sleeping rhythm I started to feel like the boy I was many years before. In essence, what I was doing was taking responsibility for how I lived my life, not trading in work/life balance but making a commitment to look after my health first and thus presenting a healthy, vital, unstressed person to family, friends and clients. And now, because I was feeling better within myself this of course flowed into my work life, and although money was still something I needed to account for, I was finding myself more concerned with the product we were producing and above all my relationship with my clients and staff members.

Looking back I would have to say that I have always enjoyed my work life. There has never been a day where I have not wanted to go to work. However, since changing my personal life by making better choices, I have settled into a sense of service rather than a sense of doing whatever is needed to survive. My relationships with my staff and clients are now on more of a personal level. I still work long hours when needed but they are more controlled and I am in the driver’s seat rather than being driven by what needs to be done.

My Lifestyle Bubble has been deflated and I now realise that self-care for men is imperative. I have clarity to such a point that when I am drafting or checking plans I can feel if something has been missed rather than totally relying on a checking process.

I am aware to not push through like I once did; I ensure that my sleep rhythms are not disturbed and I seldom, if ever, feel tired. From honouring my body I now regularly work 11 hour days comfortably, whilst still enjoying my life. And at age 55 I have more vitality than I did in my mid-thirties and early forties – and the money I was once so worried about now just flows.

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Work stressAppreciationLivingnessCareerMoney

  • Thumb small james standfield

    By James Stanfield , Qualified Cartographer, Survey Draftsman, Small Business owner for over 25 years

    I do not blindly follow, I need to feel and discern everything for myself before making a decision about my life. I have a huge desire for fairness and equality.

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    Photography: Matt Paul