Tag Archives: experience

First Dates

A couple of friends recommended watching First Dates, a television series that films real first dates in a London restaurant. I’ve since watched the entire first season and it’s totally addictive.

As I binge on this hilarious reality TV show, I laugh a lot. But I also shed a few tears.

I can see the beauty in every single singleton. The daters differ in appearance, creed, age, personality and life experiences. But they’re so similar too.

They’re all self-conscious. They all have fears and insecurities. They’ve all lived through hardship, be it heartbreak, illness, loss or rejection.

And they’re all holding on to hope. Hope that they’ll finally find connection, affection, partnership and love. They all want to share their lives with that special someone.

One man, who’s been single since his diagnosis with HIV five years ago, admits: “I just want to be loved.”

This heartwarming show highlights how quick we are to judge our potential partners. I don’t like his receding hairline. I prefer women with smaller bums.

Interestingly, we’re also quick to judge ourselves. I’ll lie about my job because I don’t want to put him off. She’ll never agree to a date because of my height. I’m punching above my weight with her. I’m not as skinny as the other girls.

I believe that when we stop judging ourselves, we cease judging everybody else. When we love and accept ourselves, we become free to love and accept others.

I also believe that we get what we give. So when we give love, we receive it.

I have a friend who loves her dogs more than anything. Recently, I spent an evening at her home. One of her dogs burrowed his way into my arms. Later, he lay on my friend’s lap, his body splayed open, as my friend hugged and kissed him.

It struck me that this dog is full of love. He’s open and trusting and loving. And it’s such a good feeling to have him in your arms.

And my dog-loving friend is perfectly at ease with herself. She’s open and happy and loving. And when I’m around her, I am too.

It’s so easy to give love to a person who’s open to receiving it. And when someone gives love with unconditional abundance, being a recipient of that love feels effortless and unselfconscious.

It’s when the fear takes hold and the thinking starts and the barriers come up, that we block the love. We’re afraid to give love in case it’s thrown back in our faces.

But my advice now is to give love. Give love to yourself. To your friends and family. To your pets and your plants. To everyone you encounter.

Be yourself. Be open. Be present.

Laugh. Flirt. Have fun.

Give love. Accept love. Be love. And I guarantee that you’ll experience love.

So I’ve rejoined Tinder. Again.

P.S. When searching for an image for this article, I browsed the internet. Suddenly, I realised that I’d forgotten to type “Love” in the search bar. “Have I put love in?” I asked aloud.

Have I put love in indeed.

reggg.com

reggg.com

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The Adventure

I awake several times in pain. I might still be able to fit in a workout tomorrow morning before my flight, I try to convince myself.

The following morning, I can barely put weight on my foot. I had felt the twinges in a couple of fitness classes but had chosen to ignore them. I had pushed myself too hard and hadn’t listened to my body. Maybe I need to become more balanced in my approach, I muse philosophically while simultaneously huffing with resistance.

I might not be able to go to London, I realise as my eyes well up. This is closely followed by another thought: I’ve been feeling great exercising and now it’s being taken away from me. It’s not fair. I want to look and feel good. Oh dear, there’s clearly more I need to learn here.

Of course, exercise is good for me and it’s important to take action and do the things that are beneficial for my physical and mental well-being. I honestly thought I’d been doing great but, now that I can’t exercise, I immediately feel less good about myself. I have formed an attachment to exercising as an external source of happiness and self-worth.

I know I have the potential to feel good no matter what. I just have to figure out how.

favim.com

favim.com

The next few days are filled with learning and awareness. A friend comes over and I instruct her as to where to place acupuncture needles.

It’s interesting to have to ask for help, to be on the receiving end of such care, and to experience the magic of acupuncture when I really need it. I’m delighted to discover that I’m able to tell my friend where the energy meridians are merely by feeling where they are in my own body.

Afterwards I notice that, as I hobble around the kitchen, I’m repeating the mantra: I am amazing. I’m not forcing myself to do it. It’s coming naturally. All those affirmations I’ve been saying are clearly paying dividends.

I’ve resigned myself to cancelling my trip to London when I ring my mother who’s a nurse. She speaks to a physiotherapist who assures her that if I collect crutches on my way to the airport, there should be no reason that I can’t fly to England.

I’m going, I resolve. I feel strong and excited.

My friend very kindly offers to drive me. We grab the crutches and an hour later I’m making my way to Departures. I’ve never used crutches before and I’m surprised to learn how energy-consuming they are.

A member of staff approaches me to offer me a wheelchair. I say yes. What a weird experience!

Suddenly, I’m at a different level to everyone else. Most people don’t look at me. Others stare at me with what I presume to be pity in their eyes.

Now that it isn’t happening, I realise that men usually look at me as I walk past. This afternoon, I feel invisible to some and as obvious as a clown in Mecca to others. I certainly don’t feel very sexy.

I haven’t had time to wash my hair. And I’m wearing runners as they’re the only footwear that don’t hurt too much. I’m unable to drag along a suitcase so I’ve packed the bare minimum into a small backpack. Talk about hurling myself out of my comfort zone in so many different ways!

I’m transferred from the wheelchair to a buggy then deposited at my gate. One of my favourite things to do in an airport, or anywhere really, is to go for coffee. But I wouldn’t be able to carry a cup while on crutches.

I hop over to a café anyway and ask the barista if she could bring a latte to my seat for me. She gladly obliges.

Last Christmas, I presented my friend with a wonderful book by Cheryl Richardson called The Art of Extreme Self-Care. Each month, a few of us meet to read a chapter together, set some goals, and find out how we got on with the previous month’s challenge.

A couple of months ago, we did a chapter on taking your hands off the wheel, letting go of control and asking for help. Last month, my friends asked me how I’d done.

I reported being aware of when I’m being controlling. I admitted that I hadn’t actually asked for help but that I hadn’t needed to. Now, I’m eating my words.

When it’s time to board, I’m escorted down to the plane and up to my seat. When we arrive in London, I’m put in a wheelchair and wheeled to the bus terminal.

By the time I meet my friend at Victoria Coach Station, I’m exhausted and emotional. We have a catch-up and a quiet night in.

katimorton.com

katimorton.com

The next morning, I’m ready to manoeuvre the London public transport system on crutches.

Hobbling slowly through a tube station when everyone else is speeding is an interesting experience. I have to be okay with going at a certain pace. I have to take it one slow step at a time.

The kindness I receive from people who hold open doors, carry my crutches as I make my way down the stairs, and give me their seats on the Underground is really heart-warming. I’ve never said “thank you” so much in my entire life.

I spend all day Saturday at a Hay House: I Can Do It! conference. One of the first things the beautiful speaker Robert Holden speaks about is self-image. Perfect!

Robert describes how infants, up until the age of 18 months, don’t recognise themselves in the mirror. They have not yet identified themselves with their bodies. Robert surmises that babies are still identifying with something greater – the very essence of their being.

This is something I need to connect with more – my soul. I am more than just my body.

So when I can’t exercise, when I’m on crutches, in runners, with unwashed hair, I can still love and accept myself and feel the energy of my amazing spirit.

Subsequently, Robert shows us a lovely ad that he was involved in making.

Robert also teaches us that being too independent and trying to force things to happen exactly as we want them to is not allowing life to flow. He says:

“If we stick with independence, often we’re running on adrenaline and not grace.”

I sit back and allow life to flow because, right now, I can do very little else. And it feels good. I experience a sense of peace as I breathe a sigh of relief.

An excellent question Robert poses is the following:

“If I could let life love me even more, what great things could happen?”

Tears spill down my cheeks as I contemplate this.

During the break, remembering my vow to take myself out of my comfort zone, and recalling how I definitely didn’t do so at the last Hay House: I Can Do It! conference I attended, I purchase Robert Holden and Louise Hay’s book Life Loves You: 7 Spiritual Practices to Heal Your LifeI then join a queue to have Robert sign my book.

I take this incredible opportunity to tell Robert how much I love him, how wonderful his talk was and how much I enjoy his radio show. I even get my picture taken with him. Go me!

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Pictorial evidence

I meet some lovely people at this inspiring event. One woman insists on buying me a coffee and carrying it back to the conference centre for me. And Hay House author Susan Lander approaches me to give me a free signed copy of her book Conversations with History.

Despite all the learning, awareness and random acts of kindness, I decide that I’ve had enough of the crutches. It takes so much effort and energy to use them. My arms are paining me. And I want to be seen as a “normal” 35-year old woman again.

Thankfully, I’m reminded by inspirational author and speaker Mike Dooley that everything happens for a reason. Mike likens life to a three-hour car ride.

Before this car ride, you decide where you want to go. You type your destination into the GPS system, or Divine Intelligence as he calls it. Then, you have to put your car into gear and drive.

For that three-hour journey, you may not know where you’re going. You may feel lost and the whole experience might feel weird. You may even take a few wrong turns but the GPS always recalibrates. And you don’t know if the GPS has worked until you get there.

Mike then describes a baby learning how to walk. The child takes a couple of steps before it keels over. The parents don’t start shouting at the child, telling him that he deserves it or that he brought it on himself. This child clearly has a desire to walk. And his parents recognise that falling down is part of the child’s journey.

After a great conference, yummy food, lots of adventures outside of my comfort zone, and quality time spent with friends, I leave London with a knowing that everything is unfolding perfectly. I resist nothing. I allow life to flow.

Before I arrive at Stansted airport, my mother texts offering to collect me from the airport. And I take her up on that offer.

I now have a greater understanding of how people must feel when they’re injured or incapacitated. From now on, I’m going to be more mindful of offering help to people when I’m in a position to do so as I can attest to how much it’s appreciated.

Today, my foot is almost all better. I’ve learnt many lessons from this injury. Some of which I didn’t want to have to learn. But learn I must if I want to move forward.

The GPS recalibrates and onwards I stride.

tumblr.com

tumblr.com

Great-Great Advice

I’m going to share with you a brief but worthwhile exercise from Prof Steve Peters’ book The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness.

 Imagine you are 100 years old and on your death-bed with one minute left to live. Your great-great-grandchild asks, ‘Before you die, tell me what I should do with my life.’

Pause for a moment and try to immediately and honestly answer this question. You have just one minute.

Answering this question, according to Prof Steve Peters, will identify what is important to you. It is what life is all about for you. It is your ‘Life Force’.

Whatever your advice was for your great-great-grandchild is really the advice you need to hear. If you’re not living by this advice, which is the essence of your existence, you are living a lie.

“Don’t live a lie,” urges Prof Steve Peters because, “it will unsettle you more than anything else.”

My advice for my great-great-grandchild is to: “Be happy and really really live your life.”

So how can one be happy?

On Friday night, I watched a movie called Hector and the Search for Happiness. This uplifting film is about a psychiatrist who takes himself on a journey around the globe to research what makes people happy.

Without giving too much away, Hector discovers that happiness shouldn’t be the end-goal of the things we do. Rather, we should do the things we like to do and then happiness will emerge as a pleasant side-effect.

One of the most common barriers to happiness that Hector diagnoses is the destructive habit of making comparisons. When we believe that others are happier, more successful and better looking than us, we fail to feel content where we are. We ignore all the positives that are right there in front of us, waiting to be appreciated.

It’s simple really. Happiness is a choice. Do the things that bring you happiness, and appreciate and enjoy all that you have and all that you are.

The second part of my message to my great-great-grandchild is to really really live life. Are we not already living our lives seen as we are alive, you ask? Yes, of course we are. But there’s a difference between living and really really living. And I want to really really live my life.

Really really living means getting out there to experience, explore, learn, grow and expand. It means being present to beauty, to nature and to love.

It’s in the sharing and connecting with other human beings and with all living things. It’s in the embracing and supporting. It’s in our tears and in our laughter.

It’s when we dance, sing, hike and swim. It’s in inspiring and being inspired. This for me is really really living.

Am I following my own advice? Am I being happy and really really living? For the most part, yes. Then sometimes, I compare. I think too much. I worry. I complain.

I wish things were different and I turn my back on the abundance that’s right here right now. I shut myself into a safe, boring, compact box and forget that there’s a glimmering world out there and I can do anything. Anything.

And then somehow life reminds me that it wants to be really really lived. And I thoroughly agree.

What advice would you give your great-great grandchild? Are you practising what you preach? If not, listen to yourself. You’re a wise one!

imagesbuddy.com

imagesbuddy.com

I’m Always Here

Mindfulness is a buzz word of the moment. And being present is a recurring theme in my blog posts.

Yesterday however, I realised that there’s an element of resistance in the way I’ve been practising mindfulness. I’ve been using my version of mindfulness to criticise myself and block self-expression.

Living in the now is being present to experience life as it happens. It’s not about dredging up the past or catapulting into the future. It also isn’t about trying to change how things are. Mindfulness means nonresistance.

Mindfulness has certainly enriched my experience of life. It has enabled peace of mind and improved my sleep. And it’s giving me a deeper appreciation of myself, other people and the world around me.

I’ve also become pretty adept at catching myself as I catastrophise a situation. When I worry about what could possibly go wrong, I can quickly bring myself back to the present moment and know that, right now, I’m okay. This potential future I’ve spun dangerously into doesn’t even exist. All that exists is this moment.

Recently however, I’ve been a little hard on myself when I find myself in my head. Get out of there Sharon, I shout. As if my head isn’t part of me.

When I feel excited about something, I immediately shut off that excitement. I tell myself that I’m silly for fantasising. I insist on being present. There’s no place for dreams Sharon, I scold. There is only now.

I convince myself that hope is a dirty word. Where there’s hope, disappointment will follow. 

It’s as if Eckhart Tolle has infiltrated my inner voice and I can hear his disapproval every time I slip into expectation or attachment. Of course, there’s massive wisdom in Eckhart Tolle’s teachings. And mindfulness is a wonderful practise. But what’s important is how we internalise these concepts.

Yesterday, I complained to my Life Coach that I’m not being present when I fancy a guy. I described being alone in my room thinking of a man I like.

The Life Coach asks me what that feels like. “It’s nice,” I answer. “I feel excited. But then, if things don’t work out the way I’d hoped, I feel so disappointed. I’m not being present.” I frown.

“Are you not being present?” he wonders.

Suddenly, I realise that I am being present. I’m actually always present. I’m always here.

I’m aware of myself as I fantasise. I’m aware as I attach hope to someone or something. I’m the witness, the consciousness, that’s observing everything, all of the time.

When I feel disappointed or excited, in love or anxious, it doesn’t mean I’ve taken a step back spiritually. It just means that I’m human. I’m experiencing and learning.

Being present doesn’t eradicate emotion. Mindfulness doesn’t obliterate thought.

I can be present in my hope and disappointment. I can think thoughts and I can watch myself as I think them. I can allow the inner child to play and get excited. And I can open up to love instead of closing myself off for fear of losing myself.

Mindfulness isn’t about being perfect and feeling zen all the time. It’s about being present to everything exactly as it is. It’s about observing and accepting.

With this new understanding, I feel relieved. I feel looser. I give myself permission to be a human being with wants, needs and desires. I allow myself to feel, to play and to love.

This frees me up to recognise myself as something bigger also. The witness who sees everything and doesn’t judge or criticise. And so I can allow all that is and be as I am.

meditationandmindfulnessforchildren.blogspot.ie

meditationandmindfulnessforchildren.blogspot.ie

The Inner Family

I’m currently rereading Anodea Judith’s excellent book Eastern Body, Western MindThis 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.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

Flow

Tonight at an Amber Run gig, I watch as the band becomes immersed in playing. There’s something riveting about witnessing other people express their creativity and passion. It’s exciting to be invited to share the experience.

The vibration of the music pulses through my body. The beat of the drums pulls me in and spurs me on. My hips begin to sway. I raise my arms and close my eyes.

The music moves in me and expresses itself through me. I’m not thinking about how I should dance. And I’m not looking at what other people around me are doing. I’m perfectly happy with myself in the enjoyment of this moment.

Suddenly, I realise that the same concept holds true for life. When we’re present to the now, we’re in the flow. We don’t have to worry about how a thing will unfold. Because when we let go and allow, unfold it will. Beautifully so.

We are the instruments through which life happens. We are the consciousness that sees life happening. And we are life.

A bombshell of awareness and connection implodes and explodes and ripples into infinity. I stand for a while in blissful understanding. Then I smile and rejoin the dance.

Basic Human Needs

Last night, I read Marianne Power’s most recent post on the six basic human needs. Yes, it may seem like I’ve become obsessed with this woman and maybe I have. But not in a lesbian way. In an admiring, respecting, fellow-blogger-and-self-help-enthusiast way.

Anyway, I found Marianne’s post really interesting. Marianne is regurgitating self-improvement guru Tony Robbins’ work and I, in turn, am regurgitating Marianne’s work. But we’re all putting our own spin, experience and insights into it.

So here’s my take on Marianne Power’s take on Tony Robbins’ take on the six basic human needs. First of all, let me give you the six basic human needs, in Marianne’s words:

“Need 1: Certainty/Comfort
Our need to feel in control and secure.
Need 2: Uncertainty/Variety
Our need for variety, surprises.
Need 3: Significance
We all need to feel important, special, unique, or needed – some of us get a feeling of significance from our work, some do it by having a flash car or by getting a thousand Twitter followers. You can get significance by having more or bigger problems than anybody else (moi) and criminals get it by the attention they get for their crimes.
Need 4: Love & Connection
We all need love but many of us are terrified of it and settle for connection, through our romantic relationships, friendships, our pets, walking through nature.
Need 5: Growth
If you’re not growing, you’re dying – whether that’s growing your business, your relationships, your education etc.
Need 6: Contribution
‘Life’s not about me; it’s about we,’ says Tony, who reckons that giving is what life’s all about.”

Marianne suggests (or maybe it was Tony Robbins who suggested it but I can’t keep up) asking yourself the following question:

OUT OF THE SIX HUMAN NEEDS WHICH TWO HAVE YOU BEEN VALUING THE MOST?

For me, Significance has definitely been one of my biggest needs. I want to feel special and I get that feeling by writing this blog, taking selfies, getting likes on Facebook, doing well in school and college, and having men fancy me. I like to be liked. I love to be loved. And I want other people to think I’m nice, pretty, talented, funny and desirable.

Love and Connection is also high on my list of priorities. I don’t feel comfortable unless I’m connecting. I achieve this connection by communicating with others, meditating, and communing with nature. I seek connection through affection, intimacy and even technology. And through all this connection, what I’m really hoping to experience is love. Pure, beautiful, all-encompassing, unconditional love.

The next question is: WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF VALUING THOSE NEEDS?

The consequences I face are feelings of sadness, loneliness, rejection and depression when I delude myself that I’m alone, insignificant and unloved. I don’t deal well with criticism. And rejection is almost physical in its ability to wound me (hopefully not for much longer as I’m participating in this Rejection Therapy game).

In order to protect myself from the shadow side of significance, love and connection, I withdraw. I shut down. Or I try to be perfect because I convince myself that no one will love me otherwise.

Now, ask yourself: WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP TWO NEEDS NOW FOR YOUR LIFE TO TRANSFORM? 

For my life to transform, I have to prioritise Growth. Growth keeps you moving, learning, improving and evolving.

When I stop being so hard on myself, I can acknowledge that I actually am growing in all areas of my life. I’m attending courses, seeing a Life Coach, reading, making progress in my career, and changing the way I relate with life, other people and, most importantly, myself.

I also choose to focus on Contribution. Significance brings up a competitive streak in me. It’s all about being better, smarter and prettier. The need for significance fuels a striving to be more popular, more talented, more successful, more loved.

But life isn’t meant to be a competition. We’re all in this together. To be really spiritual about it, we’re all one.

Once I understand that, I want to cooperate and collaborate rather than compete. I want to help and share and give.

Tony Robbins says that Growth and Contribution are the needs that make you happy and fulfilled. He calls them Spiritual Needs, while the first four are the Needs of the Personality.

I actually felt chuffed that I’d got it “right”. There I go racing back to my need for Significance. But I’m aware of my tendencies now and the reasons behind them. I’m learning. There’s growth in that. And I’m sharing all of this with you guys. So I’m contributing.

Random image of my friend and I dancing on a mountaintop

Random image of my friend and I dancing on a mountaintop

Now to go off on a completely different tangent, today I remembered Marianne’s challenge to smile at strangers. I thought: That’s easy. I’m always smiling at strangers. 

Until I walked past an attractive man on a bridge this morning. I considered smiling at him but he was scowling. Cool, handsome scowling but scowling nonetheless.

I realised that smiling at strangers isn’t easy at all. I found it hard to look at this man, let alone smile at him.

I’d love to tell you that I felt the fear and smiled anyway. But I didn’t. I bottled it. But I did look at him, which is more than I’d have done before. Baby steps.

Another realisation I had on that bridge is that it’s easy to smile at strangers when they’re already smiling. Handsome, scowling men don’t invite smiles. But smiley, kind-faced people do. So I think we should all smile more.

And to waffle on for just a little longer, after last night’s post on wanting men to beat down my door (metaphorically of course), I received a random text from a man I went on a date with once. This “putting it out there to the Universe” stuff might actually work.

So, here goes… Are you listening, Universe? I would like a successful career that I love and that helps others to be all that they can be. I would like an abundant, happy life filled with peace, love, fun, laughter, beauty, friendship, enjoyment and adventure.

While I’m at it, I would like to be financially secure, own a great house, and go on lots of amazing holidays around the world. I would like health, wealth and well-being for myself and all my friends and family and the whole wide world.

And if you’re still listening Universe, I would like to get swept off my feet by (and have a healthy, wonderful relationship with) an older, available but equally smouldering version of Zayn Malik.

Even if he is scowling.

Even if he is scowling.

Image of Zayn Malik: http://www.heatworld.com