The last few days have been strange. I went on a date that ended horribly. A man from my hometown was assaulted and later died. I visited a woman I know in hospital who was badly injured in an accident. And a client of mine passed away. She was a really lovely 36-year-old woman who is leaving behind a loving family, including three small girls.
What I’ve realised over these past few days is how much I’ve changed, how different my reactions are, and how grateful I am.
On Saturday night, I thought enough of myself to leave the date. I didn’t take it personally. And on the dark, wet drive home, I comforted myself with my favourite songs. It was good to find out what this man was like after only two dates and I was glad to get home safe.
Last night, after meditating, I stretched pleasurably and felt grateful to be able to move, unlike my friend in hospital.
And this evening, after attending my client’s funeral, I participate in a Mega Mix fitness class. The music is loud and fast and the instructor is fit in every sense of the word. We jump and squat and plank and it’s all a bit manic.
I have a sudden urge to burst out laughing. I feel so happy to be alive and healthy and able-bodied.
I feel lucky to have great friends and family, a business that I love, and a car that can whisk me towards dates and adventures and crazy fitness classes.
And most of all, I’m grateful for how far I’ve come. For how deeply I can appreciate this moment. For how present I am. For how much I love myself. For how centred I feel.
And for how I trust that everything is unfolding perfectly and for my highest good. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
So I hop and skip and sweat and eye up the fit fitness instructor. And I breathe.
Posted in Health, Personal development, Positive Thinking
Tagged acupuncture, adventure, appreciation, assault, body, breath, business, calm, cancer, change, dating, death, exercise, family, fitness, friendship, funeral, god, gratitude, grief, growth, hardship, health, higher power, hospital, injuries, laughter, life, life coaching, living, love, meditation, mega mix, mind, mindfulness, music, pain, personal development, presence, reactions, reiki, relationships, romance, sadness, self-development, self-esteem, self-love, shock, soul, spirit, storm, support, trust, universe, violence
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
Image: Author’s Own.
Posted in Personal development, Spirituality
Tagged 21 days, acceptance, allowing, anticipation, bereavement, body, boredom, breath, breathing, challenges, crush, death, ego, emotions, enjoyment, entertainment, excitement, family, fantasy, feelings, freedom, friendship, future, grief, habits, holiday, insomnia, journey, liberation, memories, mind, mindfulness, music, nature, nervousness, now, past, patience, peace, photography, present, relationships, relaxation, resistance, sadness, september, shock, sleep, soul, work
I’ve been pretty tired lately as I’ve been really busy and noisy neighbours have been robbing me of my precious sleep. I noticed that I’ve started feeling anxious, rushed, under pressure and annoyed.
Little things that wouldn’t usually bother me were playing on my mind. My thoughts were ceaseless and I found it difficult to wind down.
I longed for a holiday far away from it all, where I could enjoy a complete lack of work, deadlines, meetings and boisterous children next door. I would sleep and walk in nature and breathe…
However, right now, I can’t just take off. Well, I could if I really wanted to as I always have a choice. So right now, I’m saying yes to the assignments and visits, dates and appointments.
But I still need to take a moment in between. I need to create space for myself amongst all the busyness so that I can hear what’s going on for me.
But wasn’t that the last thing I wanted to do? I was fed up of hearing myself think. I slouched off into the dark bedroom and flung myself on the bed. I was full to the brim with my own thoughts.
Last night, I gave my Positive Living group the homework of recording their self-talk for one day. The purpose of this is to monitor how many negatives and positives you’re telling yourself and to see what negative issues are most common.
I decided to take on this task today and what a day it was to complete such an exercise. My self-talk was predominantly negative, full of doubt and criticism, perfectionism and irritation. And when I realised how negative I’d been, I felt even more negative. I really was sick of the sound of my inner critic.
So instead of trying to analyse or reason with myself, I wondered: What would a friend say if they overheard my self-talk?
Instantly, my inner voice became encouraging and supportive, gentle and complimentary. My inner-friend was understanding and compassionate and even offered some useful advice.
She told me to always listen to what I needed, to prioritise and to take enough time to rest and have fun. She insisted that my health and happiness were of utmost importance and whatever I needed to do to conserve both of those things was absolutely worth doing.
And you know what, she was right. I must listen to her more often.
What’s your inner friend telling you?
Posted in Health, Personal development, Positive Thinking
Tagged advice, anger, anxiety, assignments, breath, breathing, busyness, children, choice, dates, dating, deadlines, encouragement, exhaustion, freedom, friends, fun, gentleness, happiness, health, holiday, homework, inner critic, irritation, listening, love, meditation, mental-health, nature, negative thinking, negativity, noise, perfectionism, positive living classes, positive living group, positive thinking, positivity, pressure, priorities, relationships, rest, self-love, self-talk, self-worth, sleep, society, space, support, thinking, thoughts, time, understanding, walking, work
Today, I overheard a man ask a woman a rather unusual question: “What would you do if you had a big bag of feathers and the wind caught it and blew the feathers all over the place?” I couldn’t hear the woman’s response but she looked indignant. The man considered his companion’s answer before saying: “You should see it as a challenge. You should look at what kind of day it is and enjoy picking up each and every feather.”
I felt like I needed to hear this strange conversation. Just earlier, I had read an article that caught my attention because its title was “Having a Low Point is Actually a Good Thing”. And tonight, a friend was texting me about living in the present moment. Yet again, life was waving a giant banner in my line of sight until I could ignore it no longer.
I’ve written a lot about acceptance and being present yet I still struggle when I trip up. It was only a few days ago when I stumbled upon (excuse the pun) this quote:
“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping-stones is how you use them.” Even though I believe that everything happens for a reason, I grow impatient every once in a while. I curse my “bad luck”. I wonder if I’ll ever have all the things I want to have. I try to control when things happen and what they’re going to look like. I know it’s foolish. And I know it’s impossible to forecast the outcome of every situation. Woody Allen once said: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
I realise that what I think would be best for me may in fact limit me in the long run. This is why, when people ask God or The Universe for something, they add: “This or something better.” I can’t tell what wonderful things are waiting for me in the wings. But I do know that worrying about the future or feeling lack instead of abundance is not helping me get where I want to get or, more importantly, enjoy where I am right now.
Tonight, as I flicked through Thich Nhat Hanh’s Anger, I came across a simple meditation. It involves silently saying these words: “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. In, out.” Now, that is taking life moment by moment. It may appear boring or tedious or frustrating but it is simple. And simple is exactly what I need. In, out. Here, now. Feather by beautiful feather.
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged abundance, acceptance, alissa finerman, anger, beauty, breath, challenge, control, destiny, fate, frustration, future, god, impatience, lack, life, limitations, luck, manifestation, meditation, patience, plans, positively positive, present moment, regret, struggle, the universe, thich nhat hanh, woody allen, worry
Autumn is the perfect artistic expression of impermanence. Yesterday, the sky was charcoal. Today, it is cornflower blue. The sun is bright yet the breeze is cool. The light dances playfully on the water and between the leaves, revealing itself before hiding briefly in the shadows.
The trees show off their newly tinted crowns of copper and auburn, burnt yellow and orange. The wind gently shakes the branches and the trees toss down their leaves, like demure Rapunzels bestowing us, all princes and princesses, with a rust-coloured carpet to climb upon.
Nothing stays the same. There is beauty in the before, in the after, and in the transformation of it all. Everything changes. I breathe in this awareness.
I met someone at a festival recently, who made a few interesting observations about what it is to be human. As we walked by groups of animated festival-goers, he remarked: “Everybody here has paid money just to be around other people. Humans love being near other humans.” As we passed strings of coloured fairy lights, he added: “Humans are always drawn to the light.” He then urged me to scream: “I’m alive!” We both did, like an aural, two-man Mexican wave: “I’m alive! I’m alive!” Each declaration stirred the life inside me. “It’s true,” I thought. “I am alive.”
A week later, as I drove towards my home town, a great tune came on the radio. I’d love to be on a night out so I could go mad to this song, I wished. Then, I reminded myself that there’s no time like the present. So I howled at the moon and fist-pumped at the oncoming traffic.
And just tonight, as I lie in bed, the wind whipping outside, I grasp a whisper of that evasive peace I felt as I listened to the nocturnal sound of the sea once upon a time in Utila, in Antiparos, in Ballyferriter. I can have that peace right here, right now, I decide with a smile.
Really living doesn’t have to be reserved for the weekends or when you’re drunk or high or on holiday. Each breath is a reminder of the life that courses through you. Your life is a wonderful, miraculous gift. You can enjoy every single moment. Every slurp of tea. Every unexpected chuckle. Every splash of colour. Every chord, caress, aroma and flavour.
You know that you’re alive when your body bounces to a beat, arches into a kiss, nuzzles into slumber, twitches in a dream. You know that you’re human when you shed hot tears of rejection and loss. When your insides glow at a compliment or a pleasant exchange. When you feel the excitement of a flirtation or the nervousness of a new challenge. And you know that there’s more than all this when you feel that magical intimacy with another human being and the world opens just a fraction wider to accommodate the growth of the budding bond that you share.
You feel how spectacular the world is with every glimpse of the sky, the clouds, the trees. With every field, flower, and blade of grass. With the wind that keens and moves amongst it all. With every breath that revives you and moves you… Allow yourself to be moved.
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged breath, colour, connection, dance, enjoyment, experience, festivals, gift, here, holiday, human beings, intimacy, joy, life, light, loss, love, miracle, music, nature, now, passion, peace, present, rejection, relationships, soul, spirit, vacation, wonder, world