Monthly Archives: December 2011

Belief in Something Bigger

I’ve always believed it but I’ve regularly forgotten. I’ve become caught up in work and study, fun and flirtations. I’ve felt down and alone, angry and frustrated, or self-centred and invincible. But, every so often, I’m reminded. That there is something bigger than me out there, something omnipresent, something powerful… That I am being looked after. That I am here for a reason. And that I have a purpose. That my creation, in itself, is miraculous.

It’s normal to question, to doubt, to fear, to rage against and turn our backs on a God that would allow pain, suffering, poverty, disease and loss. But I just know, without really knowing how I know, that there is something higher, something mysterious, something beautiful behind all of it.

I’m currently on my third cold of the season and I haven’t been able to do all the things I want to be doing. One day, I was completely fed up and annoyed with myself. I wondered what the point of my life was if I didn’t have the energy to do anything. When I confessed my thoughts to a good friend, he replied: “Every life is worthwhile.” Those four words stirred something deep within me, and my eyes filled.

Yesterday, my father proudly presented me with  a leather-bound copy of The Bible. Today, lacking the strength for a walk, I started from the beginning of this holy book. My hands tingled as I turned the pages. These ancient scriptures are full of the wisdom of the prophets. After reading about how God created the heavens and the earth, I gave myself an acupuncture treatment and lay back to the soothing sounds of Deva Premal, Krishna Das and Jack Harrison. As I relaxed, I realised that I was looking after myself. This means that I love and care about myself. Which is exactly what I should be doing with this human life I’ve been given.

I don’t think it matters what you believe or how you connect with the peace and joy of the universe. Whether you pray or meditate, whether you follow the teachings of Buddha or Jesus, whether you read the Torah or the Qu’ran, whether you take communion or commune with nature. You have a soul. You are a brilliant being of light. And you are loved. No matter what you practise or how you think you have sinned, be gentle with yourself. Remind yourself of your connection to everything in the universe. Let the love and light and blessings in. You deserve them.

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Twelve Lessons

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.

Life is short. Live it.

The other night, I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – a film based on a memoir written by a man suffering from Locked-in syndrome. Locked-in syndrome is a condition in which a patient has full awareness but cannot move due to complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes.

At the age of 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of fashion magazine Elle, had a massive stroke. He woke up 20 days later to discover that he was almost completely paralysed. The determined French journalist wrote his memoir by memorising what he wanted to say then dictating the text to a transcriber by blinking his one functioning eyelid (a system known as partner assisted scanning). It took him 10 months (at an average of four hours a day). He died two days after its publication.

I don’t know whether I felt depressed or inspired after watching the movie. This man had everything taken from him – his career, his partner (who abandoned him after the stroke), his health, his speech, and his independence. Understandably, he expressed his desire to die. But then he realised that, apart from his left eye, two other things were not paralysed – his memory and his imagination. He went on to write a bestseller and set up a Locked-in syndrome association. He had lost so much but the spirit within him was still able to create something extraordinary. And then he passed away.

Our mortality is something we are born with. Sometimes, I think we ignore the fact that this lifetime will not last forever. We get so caught up in routine and obligation that we are often oblivious to the beauty and wonder of the world around us. We become disheartened and apathetic, or frustrated and angry, so gratitude and appreciation seem irrelevant.

Life is short. So, we should do the things that make us feel thankful to be alive. Last week, I took my mother to see the New York Spirit of Gospel. The vocalists astounded us with their talent. They encouraged us to shake off our self-consciousness, get up off our seats and dance, clap and sing along. The performance was all the better because we joined in.

We spend so much time passively watching the world do its thing. But it’s only when we actively participate that we come alive. So, get out there and really live. Life is a gift if that’s how you choose to see it.

The world is full of miracles and adventure, blessings and delight. And there are so many ways to acknowledge this. Money or mobility don’t have to be an issue. You can travel to foreign lands or visit spectacular spots within your own country. You could walk through whispering forests and across the backs of ancient mountains. Or simply allow the deep tones of a cello to awaken your senses.

Embrace life and each other. Laugh long and hard and often. Learn how to surf or bake or speak Spanish. Tell someone you love them. Admit to your fears and share your passions. Swim in lakes and oceans. Feel the earth’s water on your naked skin. Dance. Cry. Sing. Love. Live.

Images: http://favim.com/image/31398/; http://xaxor.com/photography/25467-appreciating-life-photography.html

How to Deal with a Pre-menstrual Female

Most women suffer from Pre-menstrual syndrome at some point in their lives. This nasty affliction causes food cravings, moodiness, cramps, headaches, breast tenderness, and much, much more. Fortunately, not all women get PMS all the time. It depends on a range of factors, including hormone levels, diet and lifestyle.

I’m a woman so I’m allowed say this but pre-menstrual females can be extremely tricky. If you’re one of the men lucky enough to bag a woman who sails through her cycle, without even the slightest touch of PMS, you must have done something really good in a past life. If not, here’s some information, tips and insights from one of the not-so-lucky females…

The pre-menstrual woman suffers from exhaustion, irritability, and bloating during this time. She will be convinced that she’s put on weight. Even though she thinks the exact same thing every single month, she will not see a pattern. She will compare herself to a whale. She will wonder if she could possibly be pregnant, even if the last time she had sex was in 2004.

Don’t be surprised if she refuses to get out of bed or if she starts keening during an episode of Secret Millionaire. If you hear her wailing “Just kill me now” and “I hate my life,” don’t be alarmed. She’s probably just deciding what to wear.

If you’re another female, now is not the time to tell her how well your diet / marathon training is going. If you’re male… a 10-day sabbatical might be for the best. If you’re her partner, she will want to punch you in the face every time you cough / laugh / speak / breathe a little too loudly. She will admit she was being unreasonable. But not right now. Right now, everything you say / do / don’t do will drive her demented. That’s just the way it is.

We all know that women can get cranky, spotty and depressed just before their period but did you know that women can also become clumsy? Yesterday, I walked into a barrier, opened my car door into a wall, knocked my elbow off the same wall, and dropped my purse in the newsagent. As coins spun all over the shop floor, the cashier asked, “Are you okay, miss?” I wanted to scream and cry and pull my hair out and maybe pull his hair out a little too but I merely sniffed a barely audible “Yes” before getting on my hands and knees in front of the rather cute customer I’d just been eyeing. FML.

Some women swear by Evening Primrose Oil to curb the symptoms. Here’s my testimonial: That is some good shit! One month, I ran out of the capsules and thought, I probably don’t even need them. By God, it was probably the worst month of my (and my shell-shocked new boyfriend’s) life. In other words, it works.

In Chinese Medicine, one of the main causes of PMS is Liver Blood Stagnation. Acupuncture is great for getting the energy and blood moving around the body. Exercise also does the trick but I’ll let you suggest that one to her.

But it’s not all bad… *scratches head*… Eckhart Tolle has a section in The Power of Now about how women, because they go through this condition each month, are closer to enlightenment! Is it worth it, ladies?

And guys, if you’re starting to feel sorry for us, don’t worry. You more than make up for it with this: 

Image: http://alittleteenangst.tumblr.com/post/12149939979

Women Uncovered

For all the women out there who have bad hair days or dark circles, acne or wrinkles… For all the women who feel they need to “put on their faces” to face the world, this one’s for you… Teri Hatcher first thing in the morning!

So, let’s forget about trying to look perfect and laugh at ourselves instead! 

No More Excuses

It’s all well and good having brilliant flashes of insight into our behaviour. It’s marvellous to come to some understanding as to why we might be miserable. We can have many an Aha moment as we read tonnes of self-help books and watch endless YouTube clips of Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. But what’s the point if we never actually change? We moan:

“I’m exhausted because I push myself too hard. I’m constantly striving for perfection. Because I think I’m only worthy of love and acceptance when I’m perfect.”

What a wonderful realisation! But what can we do with it? We might take a little rest (if even) and resolve to love ourselves unconditionally, before falling right back into our old self-destructive patterns. Working too hard, exercising and dieting to excess, and denying ourselves any morsel of pleasure in life… until the next time we binge or act lazy or reconnect with a bad habit; until we fall ill or get depressed and can no longer do all those things that make us feel we deserve a space on this planet. And yet again, we punish ourselves and cry, and wonder what’s the point of life… And if we don’t break down completely or (worst case scenario) decide to take our own lives, we pick ourselves up, wipe away our tears, root out those Mooji clips and dusty Thich Nhat Hanh books and start all over again…

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. At least we’re trying. I know I do the exact same thing, time and time again. I thought my life would never be the same after watching an inspiring movie, after being introduced to Byron Katie’s work, after reading Awareness, Mutant Message Down Under, Veronika Decides to Die, The Power of NowAnd I really believed it. Every single time. Until my next spell at rock bottom, when I was left wondering where it all went wrong.

Maya Angelou wrote, “When you know better, you do better.” So, if we know what’s to be expected from that sort of conduct, why not save time, energy and heartache and just change, once and for all?

All the motivational books and videos and quotations do help. But they can only bring us forward a certain amount. It’s not called “self-help” for nothing. Ultimately, it’s you, and only you, who can help yourself. People can give you advice, tips and recommendations, but if you’re not ready to take them on board or if you’re unwilling to change, then it’s not going to do much good, is it?

“You can’t teach anybody anything, only make them realise the answers are already inside them.” Galileo

It’s much easier telling others how to live their lives, and to spot where they’re going wrong. We can talk all we want about needing to transform our thinking, but when it comes to actually making a change, most of us chicken out. Because it’s unfamiliar and scary. It takes courage, determination and persistence to change.

I’m not going to finish this off with a persuasive video clip or a book list that’s guaranteed to change your life.

Just change. Do it.

Images: http://blamethecrane.tumblr.com/; http://stylishwebdesigner.com/50-stunning-photographs-to-refresh-your-mind/

The Crime’s The Punishment?

I just watched the season finale of Love/Hate, a hard-hitting Irish drama. I couldn’t believe my reaction when the credits began to roll. I admit that it had been difficult to watch at times but it was such an honest and thought-provoking portrayal of Dublin criminals that it had gripped me right around the jugular. This programme got me thinking in a way I’d never thought possible.

Throughout the series, the viewers got to know, and like, the characters. We watched them progress from naive young adults to violent gang members, desperate drug addicts, prostitutes and murderers.

We all hear the news about massive drug seizures and gang shootings. And it doesn’t have much of an impact on us. We’re just grateful that we’re not involved. We condemn these “low-lives” for choosing such a depraved existence. But what we fail to consider, and what this brilliant drama has demonstrated, is that life is never simply black or white.

The pretty girl, with so much potential, is putting herself in danger to work as a prostitute because she would do anything to get the drugs she’s so dependent upon. The corrupt policeman, who’s being paid by the fearsome gang leader, is too terrified to put a stop to it because his children have been threatened. The young man, who’s already taken the lives of two human beings, cannot look at himself in the mirror. He thinks that if he does this one last job, he’ll be left alone. They all dream of one day walking away from this hideous way of living.

Most of these people would never have willingly chosen to do the things they are now doing. As children, they too had hoped for love and success and happiness. But circumstances have forced them into this. Of course, I don’t condone their behaviour. The taking of a life is especially difficult to comprehend or forgive. But now I understand that we are all just trying to survive this challenging world we live in. And everyone, everyone, has their reasons.