I pick up a little book called Tuesdays with Morrie while on holidays in Spain. I saw it years ago but avoided it because the blurb on the back made me worry that it’d be a depressing read. It is about a dying professor (Morrie Schwartz) and his younger student (Mitch Albom). This time, I am ready. I devour it in two sittings. And I cry and cry and cry.
It isn’t that it’s unbearably sad. It’s just so touching, it moves me like nothing else has for a long time. I can feel Morrie’s energy with me as I finish the memoir. I love him. I can honestly say that he (and the endearingly honest Mitch) has changed my life. The gradual shift in Mitch’s attitude inspires me almost as much as Morrie’s wisdom.
Morrie allowed himself to let go, to be vulnerable, and to ask for help. He observed that, when you’re an infant, you need help from others and, when you grow old, you require their assistance also. However, what we fail to acknowledge is that we need other people in between times too.
Morrie told the tale of the little wave that witnessed other waves crashing against the shore. The wave wailed, fearfully: “Oh no, look! This is the fate that awaits us. How horrible!” Another wave reassured him: “Don’t fret, little one, for you are not a wave, you are part of the ocean.” As Rumi wrote: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”
Morrie’s message has made me realise how closed off I’d become. I’d tell myself that “I like my own space”. I’d go home while co-workers would sit and have tea, a chat and a laugh. I’d stay alone in the flat watching episode after episode of The Good Wife. I’d spend weekends preparing classes instead of exploring the countryside with loved ones. I’d retire early rather than spend time with friends.
I still believe that there should be a balance between rest, work and play and between stillness, silence and moments of noise and interaction. But Morrie’s story has shown me that the most important thing in life is to love. To share what you have with others. To give another human being the gift of your time. Morrie said that he was always 100 per cent present with whomever he was speaking. When he was talking with Mitch, he thought only of Mitch. This resonates with me as I am often in the company of others when I’m not really there. I’m thinking of what needs to be done, or how I shouldn’t have eaten that or I might even be putting a photo through Instagram while somebody attempts to converse with me.
Morrie’s big, brave, generous heart has made me resolve to really live life, to connect with people, to appreciate nature, to question the values we’ve been brainwashed into adopting, to understand that love and peace are what’s true and priceless compared with ever-changing, unreliable material and physical possessions. One of my new goals is to do something that makes me feel alive every single day. I also promise to be present with people, as if each encounter were our last, and to ask, in the words of Robert Holden in his book Loveability: “How can I love you more?”
I have a couple of hours before I have to head for the airport. I could go for a last swim at what the locals call the “healing beach”. But it’s a bit of a walk, I mentally argue. And it’d mean packing a wet bikini. Then, I remember that I’m living life. So I set off in my flip-flops, carrying a pink towel. A line of ants and a yellow butterfly cross my path. A lone purple wildflower on this dry dirt track reduces me to tears. I offer an Hola and a smile to an old man sitting alone. He returns my smile, its corners clipped with surprise. An elderly couple stroll ahead, hand-in-hand. Yet again, my eyes mist. I beam as I spot a set of keys a stranger has carefully balanced atop a bollard.
My breasts bob and sway as my feet flap upon the sand. I feel like an ancient elephant striding across the desert. I inhale the scent of my sweat that has collected in cracks and creases. A homeless man sits on a wall behind the beach. I abandon my beach bag and strip. I don’t suck in my stomach. Not today. I duck my head into the ocean even though my hair was freshly washed this morning. I am alive.
Mitch and Morrie used to say, “We’re Tuesday people” because they usually met on Tuesdays. And I am writing this piece on a Tuesday, watching the waves surge and retreat, with tears in my eyes and a heart that’s breaking… wide open.
Image: Author’s own
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged appreciation, attitude, beauty, brainwashing, communication, compassion, death, drop, energy, family, friends, future, generosity, gift, gratitude, grief, heart, heartbreak, help, holidays, human beings, humanity, impermanence, inspiration, instagram, letting go, life, living, love, loveability, loved ones, material, mitch albom, morrie schwartz, nature, ocean, past, peace, people, photos, physical, present, robert holden, rumi, sadness, sharing, shift, silence, smartphone, society, spain, spiritual, spirituality, stillness, tears, thinking, thoughts, time, togetherness, truth, tuesdays with morrie, understanding, universe, values, vulnerability, waves, whole
I just received a gift. A big one. I am shocked and delighted. And I can see how much pleasure these extremely generous people are deriving from my reaction. Yet there is an element of resistance within me. It’s like I feel it is unfair for me to be presented with this when other people would have to work hard to get it.
For the past number of months, every morning before I get out of bed and sometimes before I fall asleep, I’ve been giving gratitude for all the wonderful aspects of my life. For those who haven’t heard of the law of attraction, the theory is that whatever you put your attention on multiplies. I don’t believe it’s really about material manifestations. Rather, it involves generating more of that beautiful feeling of gratitude, and this means creating more things in your life that you’re grateful for.
So even though I hadn’t specifically asked for this, and a part of me feels oddly guilty upon receiving it, my attitude of gratitude is working. Clearly, I have issues I need to be aware of. So I can start believing I deserve good things in my life. So I can understand that guilt is a useless, destructive emotion. So I can realise that things don’t have to be difficult. And so I can stop caring what others might think of me. If I manage to achieve all that, who knows what other exciting surprises are just around the corner.
I want amazing things for you too so I suggest that you start practising gratitude daily. Keep a gratitude journal or mentally list off a number of things you’re thankful for each day. And watch the little (and large) miracles that come your way. Enjoy. You deserve it.
Posted in Positive Thinking
Tagged acceptance, confidence, difficulty, generosity, gift, gratitude, guilt, law of attraction, life, manifestation, miracles, positive thinking, present, self-love, self-worth
|On Sunday, I put my back out at the gym. For the rest of the day, I was in a considerable amount of pain and could hardly move. I felt rather sorry for myself as I lay in bed. I was cranky and bored. I realised that I don’t make a very good patient. In fact, I am incredibly impatient because I want to get better quickly so that I can do all the things I had planned.
Last night, I went to see The Sessions in The Riverbank Arts Centre. The movie is based on a man with polio who was mostly paralysed from the neck down. He was a poet and a journalist with a great sense of humour. Despite his predicament, he was able to reach out to experience life and love.
This morning, I sipped a soy latte in the Keadeen Hotel while a large group of deaf people laughed and signed excitedly beside me. They were full of fun and togetherness.
And I just watched a clip from The Saturday Night Show with 16-year-old Donal Walsh who is terminally ill with cancer. This brave, inspiring young man spoke out about suicide and how he is grateful for every extra day he has to live. He hopes that his death will make people appreciate life more. He is sad to be leaving behind all the beautiful things of this world. Since his prognosis, he has given up school, travelled, and raised over €50,000 for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
It was as though I was being constantly reminded of how lucky I am and how I need to put things into perspective. A healthy or seemingly perfect life may not be as rich as the lives of some of these so-called dying or disabled people. If you are able to open yourself to love, able to share and enjoy the wonderful moments of life with family and friends, able to laugh and learn and experience, and able to really live life, then you are truly blessed. It is then that you are really alive.
Posted in Health
Tagged acceptance, back pain, boredom, cancer, charity, deaf, depression, disabled, divine timing, donal walsh, enjoyment, gratitude, gym, health, illness, impatience, iron lung, joy, laughter, life, living, love, mental illness, openness, paralysis, patience, polio, positivity, relationships, suicide, surrender, terminal illness, the riverbank arts centre, the saturday night show, the sessions
I came across an interesting quote in a book last week. It went something like this: “The purpose of all suffering is the development of compassion.” For the past few days, I’ve been suffering with a pain in my right hip. I’ve noticed that, because of this pain, I haven’t been in as good form or as present as I had been.
As I was crossing the street this morning, a car came towards me. I decided not to run as I was afraid my hip would crack out of place. I remembered those times that I felt angered by people who sauntered in front of me as I drove. I thought such pedestrians were cocky and the dark side of me had wanted to rev up and give them a fright. Today, I realised that perhaps some of those people were physically unable to speed up.
The other night, a friend was describing his travels in India. He had stayed with a number of Catholic families on his way. He couldn’t get over their unshakable faith. He said that, each morning as they rose, they gave gratitude that they were alive for one more day. They were utterly joyous. They even gave gratitude for the “negative” parts of their lives. In fact, it was the first thing they did upon hearing bad news. They believed that everything was unfolding exactly as it should.
My attitude regarding my hip was wrong. It certainly wasn’t serving me in any positive way. I was annoyed that it wasn’t disappearing immediately, I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to do as much in the gym, I didn’t want to look like a cripple as I walked, and I was afraid that it wouldn’t get better. I decided to shift my attitude to gratitude.
Perhaps I was given this pain to, quite literally, stop me in my tracks. Maybe I needed to rest more or look at or change something in my life. This pain was also lending me compassion and understanding for others. Each time I winced as I moved, I remembered my aunt who’s been suffering with chronic hip and back pain for many years. I thought of clients who’ve told me of their debilitating pains. I’d always wanted to help these people but now I actually understood how they were really feeling.
Recently, Denise Linn spoke on Hay House Radio about steps for releasing fear. One of the steps was to give it new meaning. She asked, “What could be really good about it?” One of the answers she gave was cultivating compassion for others. This step can be used with any unwanted emotion or circumstance. It also allows you to face, allow, accept and even embrace the situation.
I still have the pain and I’m still struggling with the resting part of the equation but I am aware of the extra understanding and compassion I’ve gained as a result of this. Simply bringing acceptance to it is a relief. It takes away the struggle, the resistance, the fight. This even helps me physically as I’m letting go of the emotions that are causing tightness and rigidity in my body. And when I add gratitude, I remember the Indian families my friend spoke about and I feel humbled.
“The purpose of all compassion is the development of compassion.” Alicia Lee (2010) Homeopathic Mind Maps: Remedies of the Animal Kingdom.
Posted in Health, Positive Thinking, Spirituality
Tagged acceptance, alicia lee, anger, attitudes, back pain, catholicism, chronic pain, compassion, dark side, denise linn, emotions, faith, fear, fight, frustration, god, gratitude, hay house radio, health, hip pain, homeopathic mind maps: remedies of the animal kingdom, humble, india, joy, letting go, negativity, pain, positive thinking, present, release, rigidity, struggle, suffering, understanding
This short video made me laugh so much. I’ve watched it several times since I saw it on Facebook last night. I delighted in watching someone so young engaging in this wonderful exercise on gratitude.
Take time to be grateful for what you have in your life. Set up your day by giving gratitude first thing in the morning. During the day, make note of all the things you like. And as Dr Wayne Dyer suggested, when you focus on what you love before you go to sleep, you marinade in those good feelings throughout the night.
The Law of Attraction shows us that we get what we give. When we give our attention to things, whether they are things we want or things we don’t want, we get what we focus upon. As the quote goes: “Where attention goes, energy flows.” So bring your awareness to what brings you happiness, to what makes you smile and to what lifts your spirits, and allow more of the good stuff to come your way. Enjoy!
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
After 11 days abroad and one epic night in Dublin, I had lots of things to get done. Instead, I took myself for a long walk in the Curragh drizzle. As I walked past tall purple and white thistles and gently yodeling sheep, I felt as much gratitude, peace and awe as I had in the Biarritz waves or in the chic Frenchness of St Jean de Luz or as I’d sat on a Bilbao mountain listening to The Cure. I was 10 minutes from home and these Kildare plains felt as foreign to me as Singapore or Guatemala and as familiar as the smells of hill walking in Donegal or childhood caravaning in Kerry.
Tiny globes of water perched upon each blade of grass like translucent peas of promise. They were perfect yet fragile as a whisper. From a distance, they looked like candyfloss or clusters of fairies. I turned my face up to the mist and it felt like I was walking into soft ocean spray. My feet became wetter and wetter as I swung them into those miniscule aquatic spheres.
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged awe, beauty, foreign, gratitude, ireland, kildare, nature, peace, the curragh, travel, vacation
Below are some simple, speedy ways to uplift yourself… instantly!
- Smile (Simply put, this will tell your brain that you are happy.)
- SIT UP STRAIGHT (When you’re depressed, you slouch. Change your posture, change your mood.)
- Get out in nature (Energetically speaking, nature has a high vibrational frequency, which will override the low frequency of a bad mood.)
- Put on your favourite tune (And dance!)
- Read an inspiring quotation or watch an encouraging video (Buy a calendar that has a daily quote or subscribe to a blog / YouTube channel / Facebook page that posts regular uplifting updates.)
- Write down five things you are grateful for
- Say (aloud) five things you love about yourself
- Light a candle
- Take a few deep breaths
- Put on a slick of lipstick and your favourite perfume / your best shirt and sexiest aftershave
- Buy yourself a bunch of flowers (You’ll smile every time you walk past them because 1. they’re beautiful and 2. they’re a reminder that you’ve done something wonderful for yourself.)
Do one of these things right now and observe the change in your mood. Then, work your way through the list. Soon, you’ll be doing these things automatically because feeling good is so natural. Enjoy!
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Posted in Health, Personal development, Random
Tagged beauty, breathing, depression, encouragement, energy, facebook, frequency, gratitude, happiness, health, inspiration, joy, light, music, nature, posture, quotations, self-love, singing, smiling, thich nhat hanh, vibration, youtube
As I tucked into a pita bread heaped with feta cheese, olives, tomato, cucumber, olive oil and oregano, I imagined that I was lounging on a sunny balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. A smile crept across my face as I soaked in the beauty of the scene that I had created. I instantly relaxed.
But it’s not as good as it would be if I were really there, I thought. The image (and the feeling) disappeared. Then, I realised that I could just as easily be on holidays and be so caught up in thought that I wouldn’t even see the white strand or the sun-kissed flowers. The worry, fear, disappointment or anger would smother the sounds of the ocean and the trilling of the birds.
It doesn’t matter where you are when you are not present. When you become lost in thought, you flee from the now. You are not accepting of what is. You tell yourself that you should achieve more and look better, that he should have done this, and she shouldn’t have done that. You long for the past and you wish for the future. You regret yesterday and dread tomorrow. You don’t recognise that you are in the company of another wonderful human being or that your eyes can witness the light in the sky. You forget to use your hands to touch, to feel, to embrace. You don’t appreciate the perfume of the sea air or the grass and trees after a sudden rainfall. You close yourself off to the peals of joy and the miracle of music. You don’t even notice that you are breathing, that you are alive.
Many people think that they are controlled by their thoughts. But you can decide what to focus on. Allow your thoughts to occur, then let them drift on by, like ripples in a stream. You don’t have to attach to or identify with them. Because these thoughts have the power to create your reality. What you think, you feel. And what you feel, you experience.
What reality shall you manifest today?
Posted in Personal development
Tagged anger, appreciation, beauty, choice, creation, dread, fear, gratitude, longing, manifestation, nature, negativity, now, positive thinking, power, present moment, reality, regret, thoughts, worry
Replace labels, judgements and criticism with acceptance, awareness and gratitude. Don’t take life so seriously. Instead, become curious about your world and get to know the real you.
Touch the skin of the earth and give thanks for all that it provides. Notice the sunshine flit like fireflies upon the water. Soak in the wisdom of the mountains. Put your ear to a tree trunk and listen to it drink. Watch a cluster of daffodils bobbing their heads as though murmuring an appreciation of the revitalising breeze.
Savour the tastes and aromas of a meal prepared with love. Give yourself fully to a warm embrace or the sweet caress of a loved one. Observe a baby or a child and delight in their gaze, their wonder and their greatness at simply being.
Laugh. Dance. Sing. Cry. Feel. Express yourself. Ask for what you want. Learn. Love. Be present. Enjoy life. It’s here. Right now.
Feast your senses on this voice of passion whose depths transcend language.