Tag Archives: bereavement

VulnerAble

Do you ever feel lost? Unsure of your next step? Hesitant about which direction you’re going to take?

Will you move house, emigrate or travel the world? Would it be more sensible to start your own business or remain an employee? Should you go after this guy or that girl or concentrate on your own growth?

Well, I’m feeling pretty lost right now. I’m all over the place. And I’m angry with myself for thinking so hard and not being present.

I’m impatient too. I want to find all the answers immediately. I need to make decisions. And I worry that I don’t have the luxury of time.

But I’m afraid. Should I take the risks and trust that it’ll all work out? That it’s already unfolding exactly as it’s meant to? That I’m okay just as I am?

Today, I opened up to a friend about all this. She reminded me to tell myself that even though I don’t know what to do, I love and accept myself. Even though I feel shame and embarrassment, fear and anxiety, anger and annoyance, sadness and grief, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. She got me to tap on the feelings that arose as I spoke these words. As I tapped, I remembered this quote:

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

I can find beauty and despair anywhere. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Ireland or Greece, Thailand or Australia, if I’m in my current flat or a quiet house in the countryside, if I’m loved up or single (I can be loved up and single too of course).

All I have to work on is myself. Once I feel inner peace, everything else will fall into place. I must raise my own energy and the right path will beckon.

Right now, I feel vulnerable. Shaky. Part of me is too proud to admit this. To show my weaknesses and risk disapproval. But I’m doing it anyway.

Here I am in all my naked glory. I’m not perfect. I feel scared and uncertain. And that’s okay.

I could ask friends and family for advice. I could make an appointment with a life coach. I could listen to my acupuncturist’s words of wisdom. And I’m tempted to do all of those things. But I know that I have the answers. I need to take time out, switch off my phone, be in nature, sit in stillness and listen…

I still don’t feel good. But these emotions, events, deadlines and ultimatums are mirrors that are reflecting back to me the things I need to look at. They’re presenting me with an opportunity to make changes for the better. And I’m grateful for that.

It might seem like doors are closing but that shouldn’t limit me if I see the world as my playground. So instead of shutting down and resisting, I’m unlocking and allowing.

I have cracked open and that doesn’t feel safe. But it feels right.

anais nin

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Lost in Thought

It’s after midnight so it is now the first of September. My self-determined challenges for this month are to stop biting my lip and fingers (something I’ve been doing since I was a child) and to be present (and whenever I discover that I’m not being present, I’ll gently bring myself back).

Tonight, I lie in bed, wide awake. I cry for my friend Michelle, who died suddenly. Since receiving the shocking and upsetting news, my emotions have become heightened.

I went for a long walk today and photographed the sun in the trees. I gazed delightedly at the yellow crescent moon perched low in the dusky sky. Music pulses through my body like blood.

I feel for Michelle and her parents. I remember the times we had together. I wonder how I’ll be at her funeral.

My mind flits from Michelle to a guy I’m interested in to an upcoming holiday to work and back to Michelle. I bite my lip.

I glance at the time. It’s twenty-five minutes past midnight. It’s September, I realise with a jolt and snatch my hand away from my mouth. I’m supposed to be present now.

I groan as I recognise that sometimes I actually enjoy being entertained by the drama of my mind. I quite like fantasising and reminiscing and anticipating. Mindfulness can be boring, right? Twenty-five minutes in and I’m already resisting the challenge.

The clock creeps past one am. I know that my mind is keeping me awake, like an enthusiastic relative back from their travels, telling me stories and bombarding me with pictures.

It’s late and I’m still wired. Not so entertaining now, is it? Maybe being present would be a good idea, I decide.

My breath deepens. I sink into my body and snuggle into the bed. My mind escapes again. And again. I patiently allow it to shuffle back. My shoulders drop. I stop holding on so tight. And I fall asleep.

Perhaps living in the past and potential future is just another bad habit like biting my lip and fingers. Apparently it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Thirty days hath September. So let’s see if this month bestows me with boredom or liberation and peace…

How will you challenge yourself this month?

Safe journey, Michelle. Rest in peace xxx

Safe journey, Michelle. Rest in peace xxx

Image: Author’s Own.

How different my life is…

I was watching an episode of Downton Abbey recently when I was struck by how different life was in the early 1900s. Any expression of emotion was frowned upon; the working class was forbidden from befriending the upper class and vice versa; and unwed mothers were cast into disrepute.

As the drama onscreen drew to a close, I began to give gratitude for all the freedoms I possess but usually take for granted. For example, how different my life is from that of a woman 200 years ago. I can vote in the elections during the day and read about how to bag a lover in a glossy magazine by night. I can attend university and choose how to make a living from any number of possible occupations.

How different my life is… from that of a strict Muslim. I can style my hair whichever way I please (and show it off as I strut down the street in a short skirt and stilettos). I can order a steak and sip on a Mojito, while holding hands with my latest fancy-man across the table.

How different my life is… from that of a prison inmate. I can leave my room whenever I choose. I can breathe in all the fresh air I need and stare up at the open sky for as long as I like… I can jump in the car and drive to whatever destination attracts me. I can live with love and determination and hope instead of fear and frustration and longing…

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." Voltaire

How different my life is… from that of a single parent. I can go away for a weekend at a moment’s notice. I can stay in bed all day when I’m under the weather… I can decide not to cook when I’m feeling lazy. I can read romance novels or watch soppy movies for hours on end… I can sleep through the night, without being woken up by a screaming infant or a mischievous teen.

How different my life is… from that of a person who’s confined to a wheelchair. I can walk and run and skip and cart-wheel. I can go on bike rides to the beach and roller blade in the park. I can dance with my future husband and play Tip the Can with my prospective children.

How different my life is… from that of an impoverished child in a forgotten third world country. I can afford to complain about eating too much and putting on weight. I can make myself a double-decker sandwich at 3am, after a night on the beer. I can stuff myself with smoked salmon and roast turkey and airport-sized Toblerones every Christmas. I can kiss my family good night without worrying that they’ll have starved to death before dawn.

How different my life is from that of an unemployed father… A victim of domestic abuse… An addict… A criminal… A widow… Somebody suffering from mental illness… A blind person… Somebody who’s just been told they have a terminal disease…

Most of the time, we’re too busy to give thanks for all that we’re fortunate enough to have. To a certain extent, we’re all afflicted with problems and difficulties. But do we ever stop to think about how lucky we really are? Why not pause for a moment to consider the other tree-lined avenues or dark alleyways our life journeys could have taken us down… Some of them appear to be fuller and richer and more exciting. But others are sad and horrid and painful.

Wherever you are right now, that is where you’re meant to be. Give thanks for that. And make the most of it. I know I will.

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy

Images: http://www.fotolog.com.br/meninadetpm_s2/99789618; http://mrbiswinning.tumblr.com/; www.flickr.com; http://weheartit.com/entry/18528887;  http://youaretherhythm.tumblr.com/page/11

Unconditional love: unwrapping the greatest gift of all

Let me ask you a question. Do you think it is okay to be angry and impatient with a baby for just lying around all day? For not learning to walk or talk quick enough? She doesn’t offer the world anything of value. She isn’t the director of a successful company or the top student in her class. She isn’t a world-class athlete, a wonderful cook, a loving parent, or a talented professional. She chews on things, gurgles and cries. She observes life with awe. She just is. Why shouldn’t I be angry and impatient with her? She hasn’t done anything to deserve my love!

You probably think that’s crazy talk. Of course you should love a baby! Just because! Now, how about turning some of that unconditional love towards yourself? You are okay. You are magic and magnificence. You are okay even when you do nothing. When you just are. Like an infant, who is perfect in the simplicity of their presence. However, from the moment you learned to do, you’ve been expected to continue doing, and you will keep on doing until you leave your body through death. What a relief!

We are led to believe that our bodies, our actions, and our achievements are more important than our souls. It is more acceptable to constantly work and push ourselves, to endlessly strive for perfection, for more and for better, than to accept ourselves exactly as we are. We have fallen into the trap of believing that we are our work, our relationships, our abilities. However, if any of these self-constructed identities are whipped from us, if we become sick or unmotivated or depressed, if we suffer a loss or a bereavement, and we are no longer strong enough to live up to our self-imposed potential, we feel worthless. We are nothing.

But let me tell you something. It takes a much, much stronger person to be able to do nothing and to still love and accept themselves. To think enough of themselves to value their own health, happiness, and sanity, and to allow themselves to rest, to heal, and to nurture their injured spirits.

I am writing this blog because it’s helping me to make sense of all of this. It’s enabling my own growth and development. And, ideally, some of what I’m writing will register with you too. But though I grasp these insights and spill them onto this page, it’s very easy to lose sight of them. It’s like trying to bottle a cloud or a warm summer breeze. I know it’s there and what it looks and feels like, but I have to experience it again and again before it can become part of me.

I am not what others think of me. This is something I still struggle with. I catch myself when I glow with pride at a compliment or shrink with shame when I’ve been criticised. I am also beginning to understand that the writing that I so love and enjoy is not my worth. Otherwise, it will no longer come from the heart. It will become just another distraction, another addiction to that drug of approval. A number of hits on my page or a handful of praise from friends and colleagues does not make me who I am. My ability to write is not why anybody should love me, and it’s certainly not why I should love myself. It is not why I deserve my space on this planet. The fact that I am here is reason enough.

I have had these realisations before but, like the morning dew on the petal of a flower, they evaporate all too quickly. So, this morning, when I really sat still with them and didn’t run from them, I thought my world was crashing around my ears. I am okay, exactly as I am. I felt totally lost in the forest of my confusion. Where does that leave me? What do I do? How can I just be? I don’t think I can love myself just because… I made eye contact with this panicked stranger in the mirror and cried like the child I had never allowed myself to be.

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.” Marianne Williamson

You are okay just as you are. You are not your appearance or your talents or your work. You are not your role as mother or teacher or husband or healer. You are simply you. Unique and beautiful and miraculous. But none of this will mean anything until you’re strong enough to love yourself unconditionally. And when you reach that point, the power and light within you will be glorious.