Tag Archives: hallowe’en

Laugh Yer Ass Off

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.

keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

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Taking the Mind out of Mindfulness

I gave my Positive Living group the homework of doing one thing per day in complete mindfulness. This means being present with every sensation and emotion that you experience as you participate in an activity.

It involves being aware of the taste, smell, colour and texture of each ingredient you eat. It includes really listening to the sounds and silences of the music that’s playing. It’s about the feel of the ground beneath your feet with every step you take. It is the subtle sense of your breath as it leaves your nostrils and touches your skin.

We had a week off class because of the mid-term break. So one week later, when I started preparing this week’s class, I remembered the homework. I hadn’t done it once. I was anything from an exemplary teacher. I resolved to start. I still had a week.

This evening, as I sat down to dinner, I remembered the task. I had totally forgotten about it again. This was the perfect opportunity to practice. I could eat mindfully right now. But it’ll take too long, my inner resistance whined.

The logical part of me suggested that it wouldn’t take much longer to eat mindfully than it would to just eat. The only difference would be that I’d have to set aside my mind chatter for a few moments. You know what happened? I lost my appetite.

To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t done my homework. Some stubborn part of me is refusing to let go of the busyness, to quiet the din, to slow down, to simply be.

I’m sure the reason for this will become apparent but I’ll probably have to do all of the things I just mentioned first.

Could you do one thing per day in complete mindfulness for a week? If so, please let me know how you get on. I’d love to learn from you.

runningahospital.blogspot.ie

runningahospital.blogspot.ie

Just Breathe

I didn’t sleep much last night and, today, I mustered up the courage to bring up a difficult conversation with a loved one. My chest is heavy and I feel like I need more air. That or a good cry. A 12-hour uninterrupted snoozefest wouldn’t go astray either.

I have a Pilates class in 30 minutes. I crawl into bed and set the alarm. But I feel terrible and I can’t relax. Then it dawns on me. I have choices. I ask myself what I’d really like to do.

Yes, I’ve paid for this course and I may miss some new moves. But tonight, I’m allowing my own voice to rise above the roar of the shoulds and the musts and the expectations.

With my decision made, I snuggle deeper into my freshly made bed. I leave the curtains open and gaze out at a single shimmering star in the October sky. I listen to the sound of dogs barking at the ubiquitous pre-Hallowe’en bangers and I smile.

Soon, I shall ease myself into a steaming bubble bath, my favourite music on the stereo. And later, I’ll curl up behind the pages of an Ethan Hawke novel.

My body is grateful. I can breathe again.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

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

Falling into Winter

Right about now, people are starting to complain about the cold weather and shorter daylight hours. “Oo, it’s getting wintry,” they’ll say as they shiver and rub their hands together forcefully. Some of us have not so happy memories of low moods during the long, dark season. Spring and summer are like autumn and winter’s bubblier, more popular cousins; the ones we long to be around and can’t wait to see. However, autumn and winter do have their own unique, positive attributes. Here are some tips for surviving (and enjoying) this time of year:

  • Follow in nature’s fashion footsteps and treat yourself to some autumn-coloured accessories.
  • Wrap yourself in cute woolies and go outside. Who needs makeup when you’ve got fresh air to blush your cheeks and brighten your eyes?
  • Walk through a park or by the water and watch the leaves dance.
  • The most important thing is to continue getting exercise and daylight so, if it’s raining, pull on the waterproofs and connect with nature.
  • Take a good book to your favourite café and allow yourself to relax and enjoy just as much as if you were on holidays.
  • Put together an amazing costume and throw a Hallowe’en party for adults. Except do all the things you used to do as a child – play bob the apple, eat coconut and colcannon, watch movies and buy stuff in for the trick-or-treaters.
  • Make plans. If you’ve something to look forward to, it’s less easy to fall into an apathetic mood. Book a January sun or snow holiday or a city break. Or buy tickets for an upcoming show or gig.
  • Grab your best mates for a comedy night or get all dressed up and go for dinner followed by dancing.
  • Join a dating website and use the never-ending nights to chat up some potentials. Then, line up a few dates.
  • Enrol in a new class like pilates or flower arranging or take the time to learn a new language or instrument. Or be proactive and start your own book or film club.
  • Keep warm. Light a fire and snuggle up in a blanket with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

If you’re worried that you have all the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), get support from loved ones and professionals. Then, to help yourself further, try out alternatives like homeopathy and acupuncture, take a vitamin D supplement, and do some research on purchasing a lamp. Also, make sure to get at least 30 minutes exercise in daylight each day.

And if it’s (dare I mention it) Christmas you’re (already) dreading, take the pressure off by buying the odd present here and there, starting from today. Or even better, suggest a Secret Santa arrangement so you only have to buy one or two presents each. Remind yourself that Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones, many of whom will travel home from abroad. So, you can look forward to being together, to fun nights out, good food, movies, hilarious board games, magical fairy lights and the inimitable scent of pine.

And just remember, if it weren’t for the cold, dark times, you wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine, would you?