Tag Archives: adventure

Life is an Adventure

I am lying on a plinth, receiving an energy treatment from a friend. I close my tired eyes and sink beneath the blanket, enjoying this time and space for rest.

A lot has been going on over the past few weeks. Sometimes I still find myself being sucked into the drama. Then I’m left with a bad feeling that I need to know isn’t mine.

Thoughts flit across my mind, like an overplayed showreel. Things that have happened and imagined scenarios that have not and may never play out.

As my friend works on me, I clear the energy that these thoughts have created. Instead of berating myself for thinking, I recall a piece of advice I heard on Hay House Radio and I say: “You are adorable.” 

This lightens the mood and brings myself love and compassion. I accept the thoughts without attaching to them and they continue to flicker faintly in the background.

I’m soothed by the sound of my friend’s dog sleeping in the corner. I can feel the energy moving. The heat of my busy head is lifted out and away. And in come the insights…

I realise that I want everyone to be well and happy, which is lovely and all, but it’s a heavy burden to put upon myself. If I need everyone to be well and happy then I must be responsible for helping them and fixing their problems. And if I don’t do that, I’m not being a good friend/daughter/niece/therapist.

But it really is none of my business. I have a feeling now that everything is grand. Everyone is on their own journey. I don’t need to dwell on their stuff. I am responsible for me. I can be there for them and still be me and own only what belongs to me.

I am enjoying life. I’m not going to let my thinking about other people stop me from being present and having fun.

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Photo taken by Deirdre Groves

The next insight is about love. I remember an affirmation from Louise Hay and David Kessler’s wonderful book You Can Heal Your Heart: “I don’t have to convince anyone to love me.”

If I’m feeling a lack of love, the only way to remedy that is to give myself that love. So I do.

A question that arises now is around excitement. Should I be feeling this excitement? Or should I dampen it down in an attempt to avoid inevitable disappointment? I know I shouldn’t have expectations but it is nice to enjoy this feeling.

It all comes back to being present, doesn’t it? Of course I can enjoy the feeling. I’m human. I don’t want to shut off emotion completely. I just don’t want it to consume me either, like a wildfire, ravaging everything with its seductive but destructive vermilion tongues.

The energy rises and tingles and swirls. A song builds up in me. My hips start to sway. “Life is an adventure,” the lyrics go. “Life is an adventure. La la la la, woo! La la la la.”

When I get home, I open my diary and see these words by Danielle LaPorte:

“Happiness is power. Happiness is carbonated consciousness. It wants to spill out and radiate and be articulated. And every time we downplay our joy, we confuse our synapses. Happiness-muffling numbs our senses. If you keep it under the surface too long, it just might stay there . . . a light under a bushel. Admit to your contentment so it can grow.”

I asked the question and got the answer within minutes! I embrace happiness. I don’t have to feel guilty for having it in case other people aren’t feeling it too. And I don’t have to be wary of it in case I get hurt. I am living. Life is an adventure. La la la la, woo!

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

The Dancer

As part of the Life Coaching course I’m doing, I have to attend a professional Life Coach. In my most recent session, I was telling the coach about how I sometimes think unkind thoughts about myself.

He asked me to describe how I feel when I do this. I told him it was overwhelming. I moved my hands frantically in an attempt to explain. It was difficult to put into words.

He asked me where I feel it and if it has a shape. I told him that it’s in my chest, it has sharp edges and it wants to get out. He asked if it has a voice. “Yes,” I replied. “It’s saying, Let me out!”

I realised in that powerful moment that the feeling I believed to be negative is actually a part of me trying to give myself a message. It is an energy, so big and fizzing that just wants to be expressed. For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to suppress it, to abolish it. It feels so constrictive when all I want is to be free.

I sat there, full of excitement. I wanted to scream and roar and rage and beat my fists against something. I had had enough. I was like a child having been admonished by a strict parent. And this child just wanted to say Fuck off and go outside and play and sprint and front crawl through the ocean.

A recent experience came to mind. A few weekends ago, I took part in a dance workshop. As part of the day, we had to form triads. One of us took on the role of the dancer, one was the witness, while the other was the writer.

I was elected to be the dancer. The music began to play as I self-consciously walked into the centre of the room. I stood and faced my group. Then I started to move slowly. When I closed my eyes, I was able to get into the music. I could hear violins and African beats. I twirled and swayed and stamped my feet. Strong emotions moved through me and, for the first time, I understood what it was to express myself through dance.

Every so often, I’d remember that I was being watched but I was determined not to spoil my experience. I took a deep breath and gave myself the space to own this moment. I deserved it. I haven’t enjoyed something so much for a very long time.

camihlira.tumblr.com

camihlira.tumblr.com

As I relayed this story to my coach, I likened it to the times when I’ve had a few drinks. When my inhibitions relax, and I feel that lively, fun-loving spark. And right now, I was feeling a similar urgency to let go, to be free, and to embark on a wonderful new adventure.

This “bad” feeling I’ve been trying to get rid of is actually presenting me with an opportunity to transform into who I really am. It is showing me what I’m no longer willing to put up with. The feeling that once seemed anxious and overwhelming is, in fact, a taste of the magnificent burst of energy that I have been reining in with my self-criticism. This energy is full of creativity and strength and passion. And it’s there for me whenever I choose to access it.

As we finished the session, the coach suggested that the next time I think a mean thought about myself, I should tell it to “fuck off” just like the child in the image I had mentioned. I laughed and thanked him for what he had done. He told me that I had done the work, he had just been the witness. I sang the whole way home.

i-knew-youd-never-fly.tumblr.com

i-knew-youd-never-fly.tumblr.com

Blossoming

It occurred to me this morning that so much of what we do is done out of fear rather than joy. We spend a lot of our time protecting, defending, hiding, banishing and preventing.

This is evident in so many of our actions. We try to prevent illness, protect our energy, delay ageing, cover up blemishes, shy away from challenges, defend our egos, and bolt from pain (both physical and emotional).

We stock up on multivitamins, sip on Echinacea, and get jabbed with flu vaccines. We visualise ourselves in protective bubbles, confess our sins, and make appointments with Shamanic healers. We join the gym, dye our hair, pay for our faces to be chemically peeled, and inject ourselves with Botox. We cover ourselves with makeup and fake tan, whiten our teeth, and shimmy into girdles.

We judge and criticise others so we don’t have to look at ourselves. We work longer and harder so we can be defined by our job titles. We yearn for prestige and approval so we can love and accept ourselves. And we’re terrified to slow down, to stop, in case someone takes it all away while we’re sleeping.

Fear prevents us from going on that flight or that date or initiating that career move. We don’t put ourselves out there so we can’t get hurt. We close our hearts because we think we’ll save them from breaking.

But how often do we do things for more positive reasons? For the sheer fun and enjoyment? We’ve forgotten how to live, really live, and experience all the world has to offer, which is a lot!

We could be singing in the rain, zip lining through a cloud forest, or swaying in a hammock on a Caribbean island. We could be melting into a full body massage, swimming with dolphins, or scuba diving with exotic coloured fish. We could be playing with our children, embracing our older and bolder selves, or writing our first fantasy novel.

And above all else, we could be opening our hearts to love, to possibility, to life. Because the heart can never really break, it just opens that bit wider to allow the light shine through.

poster-anais-nin

Activating the Activist

The last few courses I’ve done have included the four different styles of learners. While reading through the descriptions, I learned that I am an Activist. I don’t think any of us fits perfectly into just one type of learning style. I am also a bit of a Reflector, even a Pragmatist, and less so of a Theorist. But I am mostly an Activist. 

Activists are all about experiencing life and immersing themselves fully in activities. They enjoy trying new things and they move enthusiastically from one project to the next. I embrace this aspect of my personality. And I regularly encourage the students of my Positive Living classes to really live and enjoy life too.

So this morning, as I drive home to do some class preparation, I spot a sign for Donadea Forest and decide, on a whim, to go there. It is a clear, crisp October day and I, as the Activist, seize this opportunity.

However, there is a traffic diversion along the way and I become quite lost. Suddenly, I see a sign for Ballinafagh Lake. I’ve never been there before. The adventurer inside me whoops with excitement.

I pull into a small car park in the middle of nowhere. I get out of the car and start walking through the dew-drenched grass. My feet get wet but this doesn’t stop me from exploring this new landscape.

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It looks like Hallowe’en, smells like Christmas, and reminds me of primary school nature tables. The lake is still and oh so tranquil. I place my ear against the bark of a tree and am amazed at the sounds of its inner stirrings.

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The sight of red berries delights me. I tread upon a boggy carpet of autumn leaves. Deceased but still so beautiful. The constant cycle of nature is both thought-provoking and comforting.

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This walk has nourished the Activist within me. I return to the car feeling energised and inspired.

What type of learner are you? (Click here to find out.) And what can you do today to honour that part of you?

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Images: Author’s Own

Slow Down

I am currently on a weeklong holiday in the west of Ireland. Each morning after breakfast, I do some work. Then, I take myself out for a walk. I rush the walk to get it out of the way so I can pop into a pub or café to use the WiFi.

Not too long ago, I felt peace. I appreciated nature. I could lie in a bubble bath and listen to music or read a novel over a frothy cappuccino.

How easily I’ve forgotten. How quickly I’ve transformed into a busy, perfection-driven woman who finds it hard to sit still.

Lately, I’ve been trying to fit as much as possible into every single day. No wonder I wasn’t glad when morning arrived.

Even the things I’d once enjoyed had become just another chore to tick off the self-renewing to-do list. Cycle – check. Meditate –check. Prepare Positive Living class – check.

Even nature, my most favourite thing in the entire world, had become an afterthought to work and exercise. When I did get out in it, I sped through it, favouring body tone over nourishment of the soul.

Today, the sun comes out and I decide to go for a walk. Alone. I leave the phone in the car. I don’t listen to music or take photographs. Today, I walk slowly. I roll up my sleeves and feel the heat on the back of my neck. I breathe. I inhale delightful fragrances that bring me back to simple childhood holidays.

I pause to take in the aqua milkiness of the ocean. I watch a man swimming. A fluffy green caterpillar inches its way along the path. Seagulls congregate on a large, flat rock. Cows graze in a field below.

A woman sits on the cliff edge, eyes closed, face tilted towards the sky. I wonder if she’s being truly present, mindfully aware of all of her senses. Or is she simply completing her daily chore of meditation?

Even though it pains me, I challenge myself to sit for a few moments. To just sit. I exhale a sigh of frustration.

Then, I gaze out at the waves as they crash upon the rocks. The waters roar mightily like the exciting take-off of an aeroplane.

The ocean speaks to me of opportunity and adventure, beauty and impermanence, creation and destruction. Tears spring to my eyes.

But even now, in this blessed moment, I am eager to get back. Because I have been mentally making note of everything I’ve experienced. This is the curse and wonder of being a writer.

I take a deep breath. I breathe in and out. I accept myself as I am in this moment. A writer who is forever composing. A human being who is doing her best. A person who is learning and growing and steeping herself in the awareness that will ultimately set her free.

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This evening, I go for a second slow-paced walk along beach, cliff and country road. I peer out at boats bobbing in the bay. I stroll past jellyfish, seaweed and salt-polished pebbles.

I sit several times along the way. I marvel at the sheer magnificence of a cliff face. Gulls soar overhead. I walk beneath a cacophony of starlings perched upon wire.

The sight of fuchsias makes me well up. The scent of cow dung and the perfume of a passing stranger make me smile.

I saunter past stone walls, a tractor and a good-looking horse. I feel my body as it moves. My hips roll and my arms sway. This evening, I do not rush or yearn for the finish line.

I stop to taste roadside blackberries. I pick a handful to take home. For the remainder of the journey, I walk palm up, my hand ink-red with an offering of sweetness.

I realise that when I’m an old lady, reflecting on the beauty of my life, I won’t be thinking about the times I power-walked up hills. I’ll remember the magical moments when I sat and witnessed the silent majesty of a gliding gull and the mesmerising movements of the ocean.

Images: Author's Own

Images: Author’s Own

Single and turning thirty: grey hairs and living your life in colour

I’m sneaking in the back door of my thirties, single with no kids, without mortgage or pension plan. The only thing I nurse is a weekly hang over. I have more in common with my 19-year-old sister and her friends than with some of the people my own age, who have settled down with houses and children and professional careers. I, on the other hand, spend most of my free time mooching on Facebook (how else do you think I know about my married and high-powered peers?), cracking up at FAILBlog videos, browsing Penneys and River Island for this weekend’s outfit, and watching episodes of True Blood and Glee.

I know I haven’t grown up in the conventional sense but tell that to my body. Yes, I can still climb a flight of stairs but two consecutive nights on the tiles now takes me up to four days to get over. And yesterday, I spotted an unwelcome patch of grey hair. I had prepared myself for this moment for a long time. I’d had visions of myself wailing as I yanked the wiry feckers out with break-neck speed. But I was surprisingly calm. It was an observation rather than a critical self-assessment. And there is such a thing as hair dye. This is a normal part of growing older, I thought maturely. I’ve had so many life experiences. I’ve lived, suffered, enjoyed and explored. And I’ve gathered awareness and wisdom along the way.

We can accept (or ignore) the approach of old age but, as women, it’s pretty difficult to mute the deafening ticking of that infamous biological clock. In a loud night club, an old friend informed me of her plan to bear a child when she was no older than 35 years of age. “But I want to be married when it happens. For at least a year. And I’d like to be engaged for a year before that, and with the guy for at least two years before he proposes. Which means,” she realised in panic, “I need to find my husband NOW!” Talk about taking the fun out of Copper Face Jacks!

I prefer to avoid thinking about growing older by joining randomly amusing Facebook groups like: “All my friends are getting married and having kids. I’m just getting drunk!” Hilarious, right? Until you’re the last one standing. On a lonely, dusty shelf. A single girl I know is part of a close-knit group of college friends. Everyone else in the bunch is now enjoying marital bliss. At the wedding of the last of her friends to tie the knot, an old woman asked her, “Are you married, missy?” “No,” she retorted crossly. The lady looked confused, “But you’re engaged, right?” She turned to the woman and answered sweetly: “I’m going to get married later in life. Then, at least it’ll have a chance at lasting!” Good point.

What is it with society and the pressure enforced upon us to follow a set schedule as to when we should settle down? Shouldn’t we enjoy our freedom for as long as it lasts? I’m delighted that I’m single and childless at the moment. How else could I enjoy the luxury of writing this blog every day, of heading off on a weekend away at a moment’s notice, of going back to college as a mature student, of worrying about fake eye lashes and yoga classes instead of nappies and jaundice and mortgage repayments? Opportunity and possibility presents itself at every street corner. I could backpack in Peru, spend a year in Oz, teach for a semester in Vietnam, party a long weekend away in Berlin. I can have a summer fling with a younger man, and spend an entire Sunday in bed chuckling at laughing babies on YouTube rather than crying at screaming babies in real life. I don’t doubt that the life of the settled person is extremely rewarding but I don’t have that yet so why not enjoy the liberties I do have?

Our grandparents’ and parents’ generations had to wait for all their children to grow up before they could go off and enjoy themselves. For us thirty-something single folk, why wait for retirement to live it up? Why not go travelling or take up salsa lessons now, when we’re still young, and mobile, and are the proud owners of healthy and functioning sex drives?

Getting hit by your thirties doesn’t have to hurt. Here’s how to soften the blow:

1) Celebrate!

Rather than turn it into an embarrassing and clandestine affair, have a party! Rejoice in the fact that you’ve left your twenties and entered your thirties as a wise, mature, confident (wo)man. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s something to be embraced.

2) Look after yourself

The less pressure and stress you put yourself under, the better your body, mind and appearances will keep. Take time out of your busy schedule to relax, exercise, and have fun. Try to eat natural foods, get out in the fresh air as much as possible, take up a hobby you enjoy, and laugh long and hard and often.

3) Be childlike

Spending time with children will help you reconnect with that child inside. Even alone, you could make a jigsaw, paint a picture, take out the skipping rope, or blow bubbles. Root out your favourite childhood movie. It’s guaranteed to take you back in time.

4) Don’t worry, be happy

The less you worry about growing older, paying bills, finding “the one”, and moving up the career or property ladder, the better. Yes, you have to be responsible at times but not all the time. Let your hair down every once in a while. Go dancing. Drink cocktails with your friends. Try paint-balling. Play charades. Forget about deadlines and putting the bins out and just have fun!

5) Accept that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be

You may think that, at this age, you should be five years married with three kids and a beautiful home but that’s not the case. Life has other plans for you right now. That’s not to say you’ll never have a family but there’s a reason you’re unattached at the moment. Accept it and recognise that everything is in perfect order. Sit back and enjoy how it all unfolds.

6) Be a trailblazer

Why listen to society, follow tradition, and listen to “shoulds” and “musts”? Be the renegade who does things different. Do exactly what you want when you want. Leave your job as an accountant and set up your own business. Take a class in cocktail making. Give stand-up comedy a shot. Date somebody totally unsuitable. Move to Buenos Aires. Others will be relieved that someone else isn’t conforming and will be dying to follow in your adventurous footsteps.

7) Update your CV

I’m not talking about the CV you type up for a potential employer, I’m talking about the CV of your life. Curriculum vitae is a Latin expression meaning “course of life”. You have over 30 years experience in dealing with this life. Use it to your advantage. You now know a lot more about what you want and don’t want, what works for you and what doesn’t. Use this know-how to make your life more positive and manageable. Your age is a sign that you’ve lived and learned. So, don’t look on it as a bad thing. Once, I overheard a man in his sixties being asked his age. He replied proudly: “I’m 21. With 45 years experience.”

8. Do it all!

Now is the time to grab on to life and do all the things you’ve ever wanted. Turning 30 is an inevitable milestone and it makes you think about your life, what you’ve done with it, and what you’d still like to do. You’ve probably come to a lot of realisations and are living in a place of more awareness. Wonderful! When better to appreciate experiencing all life has to offer than right now? However small or monumental the step, just do it. So, take a year out and experience a new culture. Write a novel. Audition for a musical. Learn how to play the guitar. Write a song. Study Italian. Go skiing for the first time. Tell your crush how you feel. Have a dinner party. Take up belly dancing. Go scuba diving. You owe it yourself to live life. Really live it. Because that’s what it’s there for.

Living life: Backpacking in South America. Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro.

And if it’s your birthday, this one’s for you…