Only for the lockdown, I may never have experienced the following:
- My hair appointment (always booked two months in advance) was cancelled. I texted my hairdresser, desperate for advice on box dyes. She informed me of my colour. Debated doing a patch test. Decided I’d better. It was the “ALLERGIC REACTION MAY CAUSE DEATH” bit that got me. Going to the hospital would be a nightmare! The patch test burned and I was left with a scabby wound. Decided to go gracefully grey.
- A few weeks later, I purchased a different brand. The patch test stung. How much stinging is dangerous? Maybe I can use this as an opportunity to see how I’d look if I consciously decided not to cover the greys.
- Took a nail scissors to my hair instead. I wanted a layered look. I sliced off two chunks. I was reminded of that one time I cut a Barbie’s hair and kept having to compensate by shortening the opposite side. Bald Barbie really stood out from the crowd. I put down the scissors.
- When someone told me that we should try on our jeans every day “because tracksuit bottoms/leggins/pyjamas are lying to us,” I was enveloped in a wave of emotion (anxiety, guilt, rage, denial). “That’s the worst idea ever,” I retorted.
- Did a 20-minute Joe Wicks’ workout. I couldn’t bend over for three days (and counting…)
- Whenever a TV character walks down a busy street or through a colourful market or into a noisy bar, I mutter: “Before the Corona virus.” Nothing on television really reflects our current reality. And they don’t stream The News on Netflix.
- Remember how I got my boyfriend into Irish radio? Well, he’s taken to texting Dermot and Dave even without a cash prize motive. He felt the need to share that, according to the Lockdown Personalities they’d discussed, he’s a Bubble Burster. This means that when someone suggests that this will all be over soon, he disagrees: “No pints in pubs or international travel until 2021.”
- In case you’re wondering, I’m a Quarantine Queen. I’m the one who sets up all the Zoom catchups and emails on the links. I’ve also completed several meditation-, personal development- and exercise-based challenges. More still to come. And I saw my no-sugar-or-crisps-for-Lent challenge (sacrifice?) right through to the end, despite the apocalyptic vibes.
- I’ve noticed that whenever I start dancing, my boyfriend drops everything to join me. We wiggle and laugh and get all the lyrics wrong. I look into his eyes and smile, enjoying a rich few minutes’ appreciation for his presence and willingness to put aside whatever he’s doing to be with me in silly abandon.
- The song finishes. The moment ends. And I’m right back to my multi-challenges and Zoom-ing. Earning my title every goddamn day.
Art by Tati Ferrigno
Posted in Modern Society
Tagged anger, anxiety, barbie, body image, challenges, control, corona virus, covid-19, dancing, denial, dermot and dave, emotion, enjoyment, exercise, friends, grey hair, guilt, hair, hair dye, hairdresser, ireland, joe wicks, lent, lockdown, meditation, mindfulness, moment, music, netflix, news, pandemic, partner, personal development, personality, presence, quarantine, radio, rage, relationship, shame, singing, television, todayfm, togetherness, tv, weight, workout, zoom
Not doing enough.
Not trying hard enough.
Not pushing myself enough.
Not good enough.
Get out of your comfort zone. You have so much potential. If I were you, I’d… You should… Why don’t you?
Not as good as.
Not unique enough.
Not normal enough.
Not young enough.
Not skinny enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not smart enough.
Not rich enough.
Not successful enough.
When will I have done enough to relax, to enjoy, to accept and to love?
To let myself be?
When is enough enough?
Art by Ivan Toninato
Posted in Love, Modern Society, Personal development
Tagged acceptance, control, critic, enjoyment, family, inner critic, letting go, life, living, love, perfectionism, relaxation, self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-love
I’m currently rereading Anodea Judith’s excellent book Eastern Body, Western Mind. This morning, I completed an exercise on the Inner Family that I’m going to share with you.
Anodea Judith suggests making a list of the various parts of yourself. You might include the inner child, the clown, the achiever, the lover, the critic, and so on. In my case, I listed the lost child, the inner child, the lover, the romantic, the fearful one, and the warrior.
Next to each name on the list, write a few words describing how you perceive this part of yourself.
For example, I could describe the inner child as playful, curious or innocent. The lost child might be scared and alone. The lover is open, present and sensual. The romantic believes in love. The fearful one anticipates that bad things will happen. And the warrior is stunning, strong and skilled.
Now, write down what you think each part wants. My inner child wants to experience. The lost child wants to be loved. The lover wants to make love. The romantic wants to connect. The fearful one wants peace. And the warrior wants to live.
Ask yourself how often these parts succeed in getting what they want. How realistic are their desires? And what can be done to bring them into wholeness?
In order to bring the various parts of myself into wholeness, I can connect with people, including myself. I can be open to relationship and to love. I can meditate, rest and be still. I can be in nature, surround myself with beauty, and go on adventures. Using all of my senses, I can make love with life every single day. I can be present, really live, relax, allow and enjoy.
The final part of this exercise is to look at who relates to whom. For instance, does the critic inhibit the artist? Or does the clown entertain the sad inner child?
I realise that the parts of myself that I listed seem to go in pairs. The loving, playful inner child is the lost child’s reassuring companion. The confident lover and the dreamy romantic are in perfect partnership. And the warrior protects the fearful one and makes her feel safe.
This is an interesting exercise. Try it and let me know how you get on.
Posted in Personal development, Random
Tagged achiever, adventure, anodea judith, anticipation, artist, badness, beauty, beliefs, body, books, bravery, centre, chakras, clown, companionship, confidence, connection, courage, critic, curiosity, desires, dreams, eastern body western mind, enjoyment, experience, fear, giving, good, heart, hope, human, inner child, inner family, innocence, life, live, loneliness, lost child, love, lover, meditate, mind, nature, needs, now, openness, people, perception, play, pleasure, presence, protection, reading, receiving, relationship, relaxation, rest, romance, romantic, sadness, safety, security, self-acceptance, self-discovery, self-help, sensuality, sex, sexuality, skill, soul, spirit, stillness, strength, success, touch, wants, warrior, wholeness
It’s a sunny day in beautiful Barcelona and I am alone. My friend had an earlier flight to catch but instead of travelling with her to the airport and hanging around there for a few hours, I find my way to a park and sit facing the sun.
I watch the other park dwellers. There are groups of friends chatting, drinking and dancing. Couples sleep side by side, holding hands. A few solitary figures read or play with their phones. Others jog, cycle and saunter by.
I have no book, no notepad, no music. Usually, I have all three. Today, I am forced to sit and do nothing.
Earlier on, I noticed my mood drop. I went into fear around business and money. I spoke harshly to myself for not being successful enough. Where’s your get-up-and-go, I asked myself. You need more drive.
I compared myself to other women, judging myself for not being as slim, toned, pretty or stylish. No wonder those girls are in relationships, I thought. They’re cool and confident. You’re not.
I also criticised myself for not undertaking enough big challenges with regard to the Rejection Therapy I’m currently doing.
Suddenly, sitting here on Spanish soil, I have an awareness. I realise that, despite not actively seeking rejection, I am still being rejected. By myself. And that makes me feel sad.
Asian men with plastic bags walk by, repeating the mantra: “Agua! Cerveza!” I purchase a one euro can of beer and sip it as I sit and watch and think and feel the sunlight on my skin. A welcome feeling of calm settles upon me.
I understand that, when I project into what may or may not happen in the future, I feel overwhelmed. I’ll just take it one step at a time, I decide. I can manage that.
I also have a knowing that comparing myself to others just doesn’t feel good. I am what I am. All I have to do is be present. And enjoy the moment.
And for one whole hour, I do.
Me. In Barcelona.
Posted in Modern Society, Personal development, Positive Thinking
Tagged acceptance, alcohol, barcelona, beauty, beer, body, body image, business, calm, comparing, confidence, couples, determination, drive, enjoyment, fear, finances, friends, friendship, future, holidays, judgement, life, living, love, meditation, men, mind, mindfulness, money, mood, motivation, nature, negative thinking, overwhelmed, park, peace, perfection, presence, present moment, projections, rejection, rejection therapy, relationships, sadness, self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-image, sunshine, thinking, thoughts, travel, women
Yesterday, I took part in teaching a class. I prepared what I would speak about, dressed up for the occasion, and delivered my presentation. I received excellent feedback and felt I was behaving quite professionally.
After the lunch break, everybody was sitting and waiting for class to resume. I sat down and, right in front of everyone, I fell right through the chair, landing on my ass. We all laughed, my cheeks reddened (the ones on my face!) and we continued on.
As I sat there, trying not to guffaw, I realised that this was a hilarious lesson on not taking myself too seriously. I’d had an emotional week and I’d been feeling tired and fed up. It all felt like hard work. But I was proud of myself for getting through it and doing my best. And then I fell, bum in the air, in front of a room full of people.
Last night, I drank a glass of wine with my mother, watched ridiculous YouTube clips with my sister, and smashed open a coconut like I used to as a child on Hallowe’en. I slept in my childhood bed and didn’t get up until almost midday, skipping an all-day workshop that I could have attended.
If yesterday’s incident has taught me anything, it’s that I need to lighten up, have fun and enjoy life for what it is, instead of attempting to control everything and be perfect.
The funny thing is that, even if I do wind up bum in the air in front of everyone, we can all laugh about it, and the show still goes on.
Posted in Health, Positive Thinking, Random
Tagged acceptance, adulthood, childhood, control, difficulty, embarrassment, emotions, enjoyment, family, flow, fun, funny, hallowe'en, humiliation, humour, inner child, lessons, letting go, life, living, mortification, perfection, poetry, sense of humour, serious, teaching, the x factor, tiredness, work, youtube
These past few days, I’ve been questioning whether I’m holding the belief that good things don’t last. It’s like I dare not presume that it’ll all work out. I’ve been almost expecting things to go wrong.
I certainly don’t want to think this way and I’m afraid that this type of thinking will turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But how do I shake such a belief? On the one hand, I’ve managed to become much more positive in many areas of my life. I often go back to the mantra: If one can, everyone can. But I haven’t yet integrated this optimism into all aspects of my life.
As I drive to work today, I tell myself that I’m going to have to shift this. And soon. But how? Do I need to do more tapping and thinking? Should I book in with an energy therapist or a Life Coach?
And then it dawns on me. I don’t have to do anything at all. I just have to stay present. It’s so simple that I might actually have to stop struggling.
What would I do with all the time and energy if I’m not worrying, resisting and analysing? I might have nothing left to write about.
Earlier today, I was speaking to someone about setting up a mindfulness evening. I remarked: “Some people might find the idea of a mindfulness evening boring. We’re so addicted to drama.”
And we are. We get caught up in the highs and lows of life. We love to complain and gossip, fantasise and catastrophise, daydream and reminisce. The thought of sitting in meditation and being present, without constantly narrating or being entertained by our loquacious imaginations, isn’t all that appealing.
My friend told me how beneficial he finds practising mindfulness. He pointed out that the more we sit in meditation, the more automatic mindfulness becomes in our day-to-day lives. It’s no longer such an effort to stay present. It just is. And we just are. He adds:
“And one day, a cup of tea is enough to bring you into total presence.”
I thank him for this beautiful reminder, then go right back to trying to decide what to do tonight. Should I stay in or go to that party? If I go out, will I enjoy it? Will I be too tired at class tomorrow?
I listen to this internal dialogue and bring myself back to the present. I don’t have to decide anything right now. I can see what I feel like doing when it’s time to do it. And I can enjoy this moment because I’m in it.
It really is that easy. No fuss. Just presence.
Well, that was an anti-climax.
Posted in Modern Society, Personal development, Positive Thinking
Tagged acceptance, addiction, analysing, anticipation, assumptions, beliefs, boredom, complaining, concentration, drama, energy, enjoyment, excitement, expectations, future, gossiping, imagination, internal dialogue, life, life coaching, living, meditation, mindfulness, negativity, optimism, past, positivity, presence, resistance, self-fulfilling prophecy, simplicity, struggle, suffering, tapping, thinking, thoughts, worry, writing
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 noticed that, when things are going well and I think I’ve learned so much, I get tested on it. As much as I’d rather the good times keep rolling, these tests do push me further along on my journey and make me appreciate the view all the more once I’ve achieved the arduous climb.
In the past few weeks, I’ve experienced some wonderful opportunities that have filled me with anxiety. Despite the temptation to remain tucked tight in my comfort zone, I’ve risen to these challenges with courage and I’ve been able to acknowledge my determination and skills.
Over the past while, I’ve also been faced with a number of not so pleasant challenges. These circumstances have demonstrated how swiftly I can be blown out of the present moment, how easily my enjoyment of life is snatched away, and how much power I hand over to other people and things.
On the upside, these challenges have highlighted how different I am now, how much more I value myself, how aware I am of my own reactions, how I refuse to be sucked into the drama, and how quickly I can bring myself back.
A Hay House Radio presenter suggests viewing a painful situation not as something to avoid and be frustrated about but as an opportunity for growth.
It may be difficult to see the positive in current tribulations so imagine that you can see into the future. In the big picture, this trialling time will probably work as a catalyst for change or it will be used as a stepping stone towards your highest good.
Are you facing any challenges right now? If you’re human, you very likely are. What is this challenge showing you? Is it presenting you with an opportunity for growth? If so, lean into it. Good luck!
Posted in Personal development
Tagged anxiety, catalyst, challenge, comfort zone, courage, difficulty, empowerment, enjoyment, fear, growth, hay house radio, highest good, humanity, illness, life, living, opportunity, pain, positive thinking, power, present, self-development, self-esteem