The more I speak to people who are brave enough to be honest about how they’re really feeling, the more I realise that we are all the same. We all go through tough times. We all struggle with fears and insecurities. We have all gone through or are currently going through periods when we feel depressed, hopeless and unable to cope.
Many of us struggle with our inability to be “perfect”. We believe that we must achieve, accumulate and gain approval in order to deserve a space on this planet. We beat ourselves up, even hate ourselves, when we think that we have failed. We feel lost and alone. We disconnect, shut ourselves down and close ourselves off from love, both for ourselves and for others. For when we don’t love ourselves, how can we possibly love one another?
It’s sad that many of us feel alone in this world. We fear that there is something wrong with us, that we have messed up, and that we must try to fit in. But how can we fit in with something that is just an act? It’s all an illusion. We are human. We were born into this life perfect and we spend the rest our lives struggling to come to terms with that reality. We battle against it. We rage so hard against ourselves that we look for the quickest way out of our self-inflicted hells. We turn to drugs, alcohol, overwork, unhealthy relationships, anything, to forget how bad we’re really feeling. To avoid the real reason for our suffering. To blame anything or anyone other than ourselves for not living life to the fullest. Until we cannot kid ourselves any longer. Wouldn’t it be easier if we accepted that we deserve love just because? The mere fact of our existence is enough to merit self-acceptance.
I’d love to take the whole world in a giant embrace and tell you all that you are okay. That you are not alone. That everybody feels bad sometimes. That you are magnificent and miraculous. That life can be wonderful. That if we all dropped the bullshit act of pretending, there wouldn’t be so many people who punish themselves for being less than society’s idea of perfect. But I can’t. Because everyone has a journey. Because everybody has their personal lessons to learn. Because I’m not a preacher. But I am a human being who has been through some really rough times, who’s struggled with a lot of the things I’ve mentioned above, and who still does sometimes. I am also an example of how, once you let go, open up and surrender, you can connect, enjoy, live and love.
This Christmas, consider the fact that everyone has a story that they may never tell you. Most people have been hurt and continue to hurt themselves over and over. But if we open our wounds to one another, we can finally start to heal.
Merry Christmas, my beautiful readers. I am delighted to be able to connect with you all. I am full of gratitude. I am also constantly learning. Right now, remember all the things that you are grateful for. Give yourself the gift of self-love this Christmas. And allow yourself to connect with your fellow human beings. We are all in this together.
Posted in Modern Society, Personal development
Tagged addiction, approval, battle, christmas, courage, depression, difficulty, emotions, failure, fear, feelings, gratitude, honesty, humanity, illusion, insecurity, mental-health, openness, perfection, reality, sadness, self-acceptance, self-love, sharing, struggle, suffering
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
When I read this quote by Hamilton Wright Mabie, it made me realise that Christmas is a wonderful occasion. Without it, the winter would be long and dark and joyless. Because of it, we decorate our homes and celebrate with loved ones. We prepare delicious meals and spend time with friends and family. We organise parties and string coloured lights across our streets. We give each other gifts and take time to rest and have fun. We sing along to much-loved tunes and give more generously to those in need. And we allow ourselves a sprinkle of hope and magic as we acknowledge the birth of baby Jesus and anticipate the sound of sleigh bells for Santa’s annual visit.
Unfortunately, some people dread this time of year. The pressure of spending money on presents and getting the house ready for visitors, the long dark cold evenings and, for those who have lost a loved one, the memories of happier Christmases past, are difficult to handle. However, there are many reasons to be thankful for this beautiful season. Here are some of mine…
Nature is stunning when it dresses for winter…
Fairy lights, candles and the scent of Christmas trees…
This year, I am choosing to focus on the best qualities of Christmas – generosity, love, laughter and fun, holidays and rest, good food and movies, parties, games and warm fires, loved ones who travel home from far off lands, and Christmas songs…
So, how about connecting with the true spirit of Christmas this year? The authentic sentiments of love, hope and blessings. Give your loved ones the best present of all – the gift of your presence. Your happiness. Your joy. And spread the goodwill all around. Ho ho ho!
Images: Author’s own.
Posted in Events, Modern Society
Tagged baby jesus, charity, christmas, christmas songs, christmas tree, darkness, depression, fairy lights, gabrielle aplin, generosity, gift, goodwill, hope, love, money, nature, poverty, presence, presents, pressure, the power of love, true spirit of christmas, winter, worry
Right about now, people are starting to complain about the cold weather and shorter daylight hours. “Oo, it’s getting wintry,” they’ll say as they shiver and rub their hands together forcefully. Some of us have not so happy memories of low moods during the long, dark season. Spring and summer are like autumn and winter’s bubblier, more popular cousins; the ones we long to be around and can’t wait to see. However, autumn and winter do have their own unique, positive attributes. Here are some tips for surviving (and enjoying) this time of year:
- Follow in nature’s fashion footsteps and treat yourself to some autumn-coloured accessories.
- Wrap yourself in cute woolies and go outside. Who needs makeup when you’ve got fresh air to blush your cheeks and brighten your eyes?
- Walk through a park or by the water and watch the leaves dance.
- The most important thing is to continue getting exercise and daylight so, if it’s raining, pull on the waterproofs and connect with nature.
- Take a good book to your favourite café and allow yourself to relax and enjoy just as much as if you were on holidays.
- Put together an amazing costume and throw a Hallowe’en party for adults. Except do all the things you used to do as a child – play bob the apple, eat coconut and colcannon, watch movies and buy stuff in for the trick-or-treaters.
- Make plans. If you’ve something to look forward to, it’s less easy to fall into an apathetic mood. Book a January sun or snow holiday or a city break. Or buy tickets for an upcoming show or gig.
- Grab your best mates for a comedy night or get all dressed up and go for dinner followed by dancing.
- Join a dating website and use the never-ending nights to chat up some potentials. Then, line up a few dates.
- Enrol in a new class like pilates or flower arranging or take the time to learn a new language or instrument. Or be proactive and start your own book or film club.
- Keep warm. Light a fire and snuggle up in a blanket with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.
If you’re worried that you have all the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), get support from loved ones and professionals. Then, to help yourself further, try out alternatives like homeopathy and acupuncture, take a vitamin D supplement, and do some research on purchasing a lamp. Also, make sure to get at least 30 minutes exercise in daylight each day.
And if it’s (dare I mention it) Christmas you’re (already) dreading, take the pressure off by buying the odd present here and there, starting from today. Or even better, suggest a Secret Santa arrangement so you only have to buy one or two presents each. Remind yourself that Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones, many of whom will travel home from abroad. So, you can look forward to being together, to fun nights out, good food, movies, hilarious board games, magical fairy lights and the inimitable scent of pine.
And just remember, if it weren’t for the cold, dark times, you wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine, would you?
Posted in Health, Modern Society
Tagged accessories, acupuncture, appreciation, autumn, christmas, daylight, depression, enjoyment, exercise, fashion, friends, galileo, hallowe'en, holiday, homeopathy, lamp, mood, nature, outdoors, plans, relaxation, sad, seasonal affective disorder, support, survival, tips, treat, walking, winter
It’s almost the end of another year. Twelve months ago, I was upset over (you guessed it) a man, so I started this blog to make myself feel better. That man no longer has an effect on me but I’m blessed to still be able to share my passion for writing with the world.
A lot has happened in my life since then. I’ve made great new friends and discovered interesting new hobbies. During the summer, I meditated in the Scottish Highlands and hill walked in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
I spent a wonderful few months with a new guy. We camped by the shore in Kerry, chanted as we traipsed across the fields in Meath, picnicked on living room floors, and practised yoga in front of an alarmingly curious herd of cows. I learned a lot about myself and about relationships. Then, we broke up, and I learned even more.
Come to think of it, I’ve learned a lot of things these past 12 months. Here are 12 of them…
1. You don’t have to be qualified to help another human being. Don’t worry about not knowing the “right” thing to do or say. A hug, a touch, or simply sitting with someone while they talk or cry is more than enough.
2. Let your guard down. I was feeling incredibly depressed one day and instead of staying in (as I usually would) and waiting to face the world until I felt and looked good, I asked for help. As I sobbed in front of a friend, my hair unwashed and my face naked, he held my hand and told me: “It takes incredible courage to allow yourself be vulnerable.”
3. Life is all about sharing. Be open and you’ll never be alone.
4. You know you’re only human. Admit it to others. They will love you for it.
5. Allowing yourself to grieve is enabling yourself to heal.
6. The worst thing you can do is take yourself too seriously. A sense of humour is a magnificent tool. Use it as often as you can.
7. Breathe. Deep breathing creates a sense of calm and gives you energy.
8. Love. Freely and openly. Don’t hold back.
9. Alcohol is not your friend. No matter how many chances you give it, it will always let you down.
10. Don’t be afraid to give. Give love, presents, compliments… The more you give, the more you will receive. Abundance is all around us.
11. Be present in everything you do. Taste. Experience. Feel. Observe. Enjoy.
12. Honesty will set you free. Be honest with yourself and with others. You’ll be surprised at how easy life becomes.
Here’s a bonus one… It is Christmas after all…
- You will never find true happiness if you seek it outside of yourself. Save yourself heartache and frustration and just stop looking.
Writing this blog has taught me a lot too. I love it and I find it therapeutic. I’ve also learned that it helps others, which makes it all the more worthwhile.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for following my blog. Your comments, encouragement and support mean so much to me. A very merry Christmas to you all.
Posted in Events, Personal development, Random
Tagged blog, break ups, christmas, coldplay, depression, encouragement, friendship, grief, have yourself a merry little christmas, healing, help, honesty, humanity, laughter, learning, love, passion, relationships, sense of humour, support, therapy, vulnerability, writing
I recently received an email from an old friend, who’s living abroad. She was writing to tell me that my blog has really inspired her to stop and look at life and has made her realise how lucky she is. She continued:
“Today, I was rushing to get to the shops before they closed when I saw a man, alone in the snow. He was shaking. I was a bit apprehensive but I thought: ‘I can’t leave him. It’s minus 10 and instinct tells me he needs help.’ So, I stopped. It turns out he had Parkinson’s and had hurt his arm. I phoned for a taxi and paid the driver to bring him to the hospital. The look of relief in the old man’s eyes when he sat in and shook my hand was heart breaking. I really think reading your words has changed my way of thinking. I’ve always had a lot of empathy but it takes courage to do something about a situation that’s a bit intimidating. Thanks, Sharon.”
This story brought tears to my eyes. Only days previously, another woman had told me I should stop publishing my work on the internet because I’m not getting paid for it, and on top of that, somebody could steal it. But this unexpected email reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Not everything we do has to result in monetary, or even personal, gain. Occasionally, people surprise us by giving, without looking for anything in return. The other day, I stepped onto a busy Luas (Dublin tram) when I felt a tap on the shoulder. I looked around at a dishevelled young man, who carried a sleeping bag under his arm. He said:
“Sorry, luv. I just wanted to let you know that your bag’s open. Be careful ‘coz someone could snatch your purse.”
I thanked him and zipped up my handbag. We then chatted about his life as a homeless person. He spoke about how he tries to rustle up enough money each day to stay in a hostel. Otherwise, he sleeps on the streets. I waited for him to ask me for some change (of which I had none – I’d given my last few coins as a tip to a waitress) but at the next stop, he simply said, “See ya luv” and was gone. “Take care!”, I called after him, feeling helpless yet totally moved. Yesterday, it snowed. I hope he’s okay.
Speaking of looking for change, check out this inspiring short film…
‘Tis the season of giving presents to our loved ones but how about, this Christmas, giving or doing something special for somebody who really needs it?
Posted in Modern Society, Random, Spirituality
Tagged blog, change, change for a dollar, christmas, dublin, generosity, giving, good deeds, gratitude, help, injury, inspirational, kindness, luas, money, parkinson's, presents, robbing, snow, stealing, winter, writing
I spotted the first spitting of snow this morning. I know most of us complained about last year’s white spell because it lasted so long. Dates were cancelled, flights were grounded, people were stranded, women couldn’t wear high heels.. However, here are a few reasons why I can’t help feeling excited when I see snowflakes…
No matter who or where you are, you simply have to yell at somebody, anybody, to make sure they can see that IT’S SNOWING!
Everybody could do with a snow day off work / school.
Everything. slows. down.
It’s just so pretty. A blanket of snow can transform the ugliest of settings into a winter wonderland.
It’s the perfect excuse for all things hot… Hot bath, hot stew, hot chocolate, hot port…
I’ll never be too old to delight in being the first to crunch across virgin snow.
Childlike, creative qualities are key – think snowballs, snow angels, snowmen… Last winter, my sister’s boyfriend built a slide and an igloo and drove around on a quad. I know who I’ll be hanging out with this year…
Last December, I met a friend for one hot toddy. We ended up in Swifts, the local (shit) night club, tearing up the dance floor in our hiking boots and wellies. Best night ever!
Hollywood has convinced us that it ain’t really Christmas ’til it snows… Merry Christmas!
Posted in Random
Tagged bath, boyfriend, childlike, children, christmas, creativity, dancing, dates, december, delight, excitement, flights, flights grounded, hiking boots, hollywood, hot chocolate, hot port, hot toddy, igloo, magic, night club, night life, quad, school, sister, snow, snow angels, snow day, snowballs, snowmen, stew, swifts, wellies, winter, winter wonderland, work
She sits with a large sigh, relieved to set down her Christmas shopping. The waitress asks if she’s waiting for someone. Or is she alone? She nods at the latter.
She eats quickly, a glazed expression in her eyes. When she’s satiated the initial intensity of her hunger, she begins to slow down. Only then does she look around the bar.
There is a guy to her right. He’s on his own too. She tries not to look directly at him but he lingers in the outskirts of her vision. He could be cute… He plays self-consciously with his phone, taking occasional sips of his latte. She pushes the plate away and opens a book.
If this was a movie, he would spot the title of the novel she was holding and realise that he found this woman intriguing. He would pluck up the courage to approach her and their story would begin…
The potentially attractive man smiles as his date walks towards him. The lone female diner looks up to appraise the pretty new arrival, then bows her head to read about somebody else’s romance.
Posted in Health, Spirituality
Tagged attraction, bon iver, christmas, crush, dating, dining, i can't make you love me/nick of time, love, men, movies, reading, romance, shopping, single, women
Some of you will delight in me writing this. Others will be too indignant or alarmed to read on… Some will presume I’m having it off with Jim Corr and switch off. And then there are others, who will breathe a sigh of relief that, finally, somebody normal is speaking out about their thoughts and fears regarding what’s going on in the world. Someone without a background in economics or activism, politics or finance; somebody regular who’d never even heard of a default or a foreclosure or an NWO up until a year ago.
We can pretend like nothing’s changed. We have offices and kitchens and children to attend to. Christmas is fast approaching. And The X Factor final is on this weekend. But we cannot ignore the growing dole queues, the increasing break-ins, the persistence of the Occupy movement, and the unfair Budget cuts. Our children are growing up in an unprecedented era. Forget about the Púca - it’s the IMF that’s got everyone really scared.
Dole Queue in Cork
There is talk in certain circles that the economy is on the brink of total collapse (no surprise there). Some people are forecasting (and gleefully anticipating) the breakdown of all of society’s major institutions, which are finally losing their grip on the power they’ve wielded over the obedient public for far too long. Even prime time television is warning that we might have to revert to the punt. And if that happens, what little money we have left will be almost worthless.
If this actually occurs, so much will have to change. We won’t be able to afford oil or petrol, thus limiting trade and transport. We won’t have the option of buying new clothes or technology. We’ll have to return to self-sufficiency, which would be no bad thing.
These difficult circumstances would force us to come together as communities. We’d have to rely on agriculture and fishing. The long-suffering Irish farmers would be granted a new-found respect. Our lawyers and accountants and PR executives would have to be taught how to sow seeds and cut trees. Our scientists would be able to dedicate their time and genius to work on tapping into alternative sources of energy.
Fishing in Connemara
When I hear these outlandish but strangely plausible predictions, I try to imagine such a future. I guess we’d have to ration our food and our firewood. We’d only be able to afford enough petrol for one vehicle per village. We’d work in the daylight, and sleep beside one another in large fire-warmed living rooms. We’d have to darn our socks and put patches on worn sweater elbows. We’d drink fresh milk and eat lots of stew. We’d go back to natural remedies and energetic healing. We’d have time to sit with each other, to knit and play games and tell stories.
Is such a world even conceivable? And what about technology? Would our phones suddenly stop working? Would electricity fail? Without the companies that connect us, would the internet perish?
Oh, I’m all for getting rid of money-hungry, ethically challenged governments, multinationals and pharmaceuticals. And I look forward to the day when the food we eat isn’t laced with hormones, pesticides and preservatives. I would gladly embrace a time when we are content to live off the land. When we inhabit a world that refuses to be dominated by mass-produced fear. When we take the time, effort and courage to inform ourselves and think outside the government-constructed box. When we recognise real health and call a halt to the pumping of too-trusting populations with vaccines and medication and other hidden chemicals. I long for a land of free thinkers, where open minds and creativity are a valued commodity.
Despite my idealistic hopes, I also have doubts. I worry that, if things really do go belly up, not everyone will react favourably. Many will be shocked and scared, angry and incredulous. Parents will fight for their food and children will steal. The streets will see violence and riots and looting. Some will go hungry. Others will go mad.
Dublin City © Gearoid Muldowney
And I can’t help hypothetically grieving all the materialistic luxuries I currently enjoy. How would I cope without my car and my holidays abroad? What would I do without the ability to discover new music at the click of a mouse? How would I feel about the loss of lipstick and mascara? Could I welcome a world without the internet and blogging? And if money disappears and I can no longer pay rent, will I have to move home? Or would my landlord accept payment in poems and potatoes?
Then again, this may never happen and you’ll laugh when you remember the crazy blogger who once ranted about the possible links between sudden poverty and freedom. But if the alternative news reports do prove to be correct, at least I’ll have given you a heads up. To encourage you to spend some of the money that’s lying in fear in your bank account. To get yourself some practical essentials. To give you time to install a stove and stock up on rice and tins of tuna. To buy good winter boots and some quality clothes that’ll last longer than your usual purchases from Penneys. Better silly and safe than stubborn and sorry.
Whether or not this apocalypse-like scenario manifests, we cannot ignore the fact that change is in the air. Perhaps this upset and turmoil is a necessary step in our evolution. Masses of people are awakening and there is a definite shift in consciousness. This could be the New Earth that Eckhart Tolle wrote about. And a new way of thinking and living and being will emerge from the redundant ashes of the old world, like a phoenix, ready to take flight…
Images: http://www.allthingswhisky.com/?p=499; http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92133; http://www.ballynahinch-castle.com/fishing-connemara; http://www.flickr.com/photos/gearoid/page10/; http://pinterest.com/pin/418493398/
Posted in Modern Society, Random
Tagged a new earth, accountants, activism, alternative health, anger, apocalypse, banks, breakdown, budget, challenges, change, cheese, cheese-making, chemicals, children, christmas, cold, collapse, commodities, community, confusion, crick, crock, damp, default, doctors, dole, Eckhart Tolle, economy, electricity, energy sources, ethics, exports, farming, fear, finance, firewood, fishing, flat, food, foreclosure, free-thinkers, genius, government, hospitals, household chores, imf, imports, internet, jim corr, landlord, laptop, lawyers, looting, multinationals, neck, new world order, nwo, obedience, oil, open mind, pain, penneys, petrol, pharmaceuticals, phoenix, phones, policemen, politics, poverty, power, predictions, responsibility, riots, robberies, scientists, self-sufficeincy, self-sufficient, sharing, society, starving, stealing, stove, technology, the x factor, transport, unemployment, vaccines, value, vehicles, violence, writing
Owls are so in this season.
The smallest-sized Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte costs four euro!
Some people still call hats “bonnets”.
A person can be in chronic pain and laugh more than I do.
A large chest makes you look bigger than you actually are.
The first ever text message was sent 19 years ago. It said Merry Christmas.
If you do what you love, a whole new world will reveal itself…
You will never know absolutely everything about a person.
Everybody goes through times of hurt and grief and self-doubt.
You can love someone but find it easier to stay away.
It takes just one person’s belief in you to help you succeed. If that one person is you, all the better.
Mariah Carey has just done a duet with Justin Bieber on All I Want For Christmas. Good to know. If I avoid the radio, department stores and supermarkets for the next three weeks, I might never have to hear it.
Teenagers use shopping centres as pick-up joints.
Sometimes, you just need space. You’ll come back when you’re good and ready.
If you start being true to who you really are, you’ll stop caring what others think. In fact, it won’t even register with you any more.
Getting into the holiday spirit and hot toddies are synonymous.
Lots of people dread Christmas. It’s too much pressure. I don’t think that’s what Baby Jesus intended…
Others can’t get enough of it. Below is a house in Newbridge. It’s like this Every. Single. Year.
When a shopkeeper asks, ”Is this a gift for somebody?”, it is not because she cares. Or because she is going to kindly offer to wrap it for you. It’s because she’s about to try and flog you a Christmas box.
I could be the next Perez Hilton. Only nicer.
You can’t beat a good instrumental interlude.
Images: http://www.maccazine.com.au/general-information/christmas-lights-competition/; http://alligator-sunglasses.com/post/13780955850/hi-little-fellah; http://liveyoungforever.xanga.com/734450391/want-you-to-make-me-feel-like-im-the-only-girl-in-the-world/?cuttag=tru; www.flickr.com; http://fading-gently.tumblr.com/; http://favim.com/image/225426/
Posted in Modern Society
Tagged blog, break up, camera, christmas, chronic pain, department stores, gift, gingerbread latte, grief, hot toddies, hurt, instrumental, interlude, jesus, journalism, justin bieber, laughter, laura marling, learning, love, mariah carey, mulled wine, night terror, owls, perez hilton, pressure, self-belief, self-doubt, separation, shops, starbucks, success, supermarkets, teenagers, writing
I wander downtown to buy Christmas cards, in the hope that it will assuage my guilt at not yet having begun shopping for presents. There is no escaping the swift approach of Yuletide on this brisk December day.
Fairy lights wind their way up tree trunks, like magic ivy. A middle-aged couple carries plastic bags and an air of exasperation. A Norway Spruce leans up against a wall, naked but on the brink of fulfilling its life purpose.
I pop in my iPod buds and drown out the world with the sounds of Video Games and Villagers. A teenager rushes out of a pound shop, her face full of freckles and anticipation. I enter. A mother slaps her children’s hands away from sweets and toys. A man in dirty work clothes holds a basket brimming with tinsel.
I buy two packets of sparkly Santa cards and continue down the main street. A young boy bolts into the library. I follow. As I enquire after a Heather O’Neill novel, which is currently MIA, an elderly woman breezes up to the desk.
“It’s getting cold out there, Mrs O’Brien,” the male librarian tries.
“We’re all ageing,” the woman retorts.
He changes the subject.
“What do you think of the Budget?”
The woman doesn’t respond.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BUDGET?” the librarian bellows. Children look up in disbelief.
“I heard you the first time,” the old lady announces. “I just don’t bother with all that shite!”
I leave without a book, but not without a story.
I take a detour home along the Liffey. The river is full and fast. The moon clings to the cobwebs of the morning sky. Drizzle settles on nettles. A reluctant dog is pulled toward the nonchalant swans. Ducks fly close to the water, their necks straining forwards.
Reeds clump together and float to the surface, like dead bodies. A leafless tree bends over the water, like a nude diver frozen in time. A woman jogs by, barely lifting her legs. A man in a track suit practises Tai Chi in the wet grass. I wonder if he’s crazy and try not to stare.
As I huddle on a park bench, ignoring the cold and blowing on a Biro, I decide that I am a writer and that there is nothing I’d rather be.
“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?” Vita Sackville-West
And for all you budding writers out there, click here.
Images: http://gallery.hd.org/_c/art/_more2004/_more12/baubles-glass-and-wire-shiny-tinsel-blue-and-silver-star-for-top-of-tree-decorations-ornaments-JR.jpg.html; http://weheartit.com/entry/18871955;
Posted in Modern Society, Random
Tagged beauty, biro, budget, children, christmas, christmas cards, christmas tree, cold weather, crazy, creativity, december, dog, ducks, fairy lights, guilt, heather o'neill, library, magic, music, nature, norway spruce, pound shop, river liffey, santa, swans, sweets, tai chi, toys, video games, villagers, vita sackville-west, writer