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Energy

Today, I decide to spend the whole day chilling out at home. I have a lie-in, I meditate, I eat breakfast.

I reply to a few text messages. I attempt to get cheap car insurance. I have lunch. I read emails. I watch Whip It for the second time.

By four pm, I’m agitated. What to do next? I could watch another movie. What a privilege to have the time and space to do so. I could read.

But I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. I’d probably feel better if I went for a walk. It’s sunny outside. I’d feel less guilty if it was raining.

I could follow a yoga class on YouTube. But I just don’t want to.

In the past, when I suffered spells of depression, I spent long periods in my room. I stayed in bed. I binged on junk food and mind-numbing box sets.

As a result, I became even more depressed and self-hating. Then, I definitely didn’t want to face the world because I felt so ugly and useless. Now, a part of me is scared that something similar could happen again.

For the past while, I’ve made sure to exercise every day. I get out of the house. I’m sociable. I’m busy. I work. I write blogs.

What I’ve learned from Chinese Medicine is that, when we don’t move enough, our energy becomes stagnant and we experience pain and fatigue. When enough energy doesn’t go to the head, we can feel depressed. That’s why it’s important to move our bodies and to receive energy treatments such as acupuncture.

However, I’d been moving my body to such an extent that I’d injured myself several times and I was exhausted. Following an acupuncturist’s advice, I haven’t exercised in four days.

Last night, I met a friend who’s home from abroad. She told me that I’m looking really well. I wanted to work out immediately. But I didn’t. Instead, I noted this reaction and I was okay with it.

For a change this Saturday, I haven’t arranged any coffee dates. I haven’t driven to the gym. I haven’t walked or yoga’d or even ventured outside the house. Instead, I drink hot beverages in bed, bite my fingers and click on Facebook for something to do.

The energy is rising. I usually shake it off or stuff it down. I’m not used to doing nothing. I don’t think I can do nothing.

I want to pump iron and dance and make love with aggression. I want to race through the countryside and bomb into the ocean. I want to laugh and cry and scream with abandon. I want to explode all this energy into my writing. I want to squeeze all my blackheads and peel off my skin. I even consider rejoining Tinder.

But I don’t do any of these things. I stay in my room, turn my phone on silent and sit on my meditation cushion. I bounce a little and rock back and forth. I start composing this blog post.

Then, I realise that there’s something about this energy that makes me want to burn it off. It doesn’t matter how. It just has to be released.

Suddenly, images of yogis and monks come to mind. People who have trained themselves to sit with this energy and allow it to build.

Humans who have managed to transcend these egoic and bodily urges to sex and spend, do and distract. They harness this energy and use it to connect with something bigger than all of this. To be present to all that is rather than losing themselves in all that they wish they were.

There’s nothing wrong with making the most of this creative energy. Artists splash it across canvasses to form beautiful masterpieces. Musicians and singers unleash it with passion. Champions triumph. New lives enter the planet.

And the rest of us mere mortals make sure to stay just ahead of it so we don’t have to think or feel too much. We move forward, we move forward, we move forward. We don’t want to get caught.

Most of the time, when I write an article, I’ve reached some sort of conclusion. I’ve come up with a positive slant. I’ve learned something. I’ve let go of something else. I’ve made myself feel better.

Today, I don’t transcend body, mind or ego. I sit on that meditation cushion for 10 minutes before moving the cushion in front of the laptop and vomiting all over WordPress. I feel a little bit better. I guess I’m still ahead.

life coach kildare

Images: favim.com

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Just Because.

As you know, I recently injured myself while exercising. What I neglected to mention was that, prior to this, I’d regularly been getting sudden pains in my head.

At the time, it struck me that I probably needed to take it easy but I just couldn’t stop. I was always on the go and I was exercising more than ever. I felt tired a lot but adrenaline was fuelling me and I thought I was doing great.

When I hurt my Achilles tendon, I was forced to slow down. Interestingly, the pains in my head disappeared immediately.

I learnt a lot from the whole episode. I recognised the need for more balance in my life. It also brought home for me the fact that I had to be able to feel good about myself regardless of what I was doing or how I looked.

I realised that it’s all in my head anyway. I could feel good one day and shitty the next. Nothing external had changed, which perfectly proved my point.

However, there’s a difference between knowing something and feeling something. So when the physiotherapist gave me license to return to exercise, I did so that very evening.

The following morning, I was dismayed to discover that the Achilles on my other foot was paining me. Yet again, I had to resort to limping.

An acupuncturist advised me to lay off exercise for a week. I needed rest. My body, in all its intelligence, had created the pain that was making it impossible to do anything but rest.

Though I would never consciously ask for pain as a learning aid, I have learnt a very important lesson from all this. I’ve been doing things in order to feel good. I’ve also been doing things to avoid feeling bad.

Of course, it’s sensible to practise healthy behaviours that accentuate the good and eliminate the bad but it’s also worth remembering that it’s best not to rely too heavily on external routes to happiness.

Also, balance is key. Interesting how both my Achilles were acting up as, without the Achilles, it’s very hard to achieve balance.

Exercise is great. Healthy eating is wonderful. Working hard and taking action is commendable. Achieving success is admirable. But leaning too far in any one direction will upset the balance and, sooner or later, you’ll topple over and hurt yourself.

favim.com

favim.com

I clearly need to listen to my body when it’s tired or sore. Replacing one gym session with a walk in nature would be a good idea. I deserve to take a rest.

And so those deeper issues of self-worth, self-love and self-acceptance make themselves known. I feel good about myself when I’m busy, when I’m doing and achieving. I feel good in my body when I’m exercising and eating healthily.

And I feel bad when I’m not doing all these things. I feel unworthy of love and care and acceptance. Or at least that’s how it’s always been. Until now.

Of course, I knew I should be confident anyway. I knew I was great. I knew I deserved love and care and acceptance. But now I feel it.

The other night, I asked for a sign in my dreams to show me what I need to see in order to heal. I dreamt that I called into my parents’ house to collect a couple of things.

Nobody was home. Minutes later, my parents returned. I overheard my father sniggering to my mother: “Sharon probably came here so she could sleep during the day.” My mother laughed and agreed.

An energy rose up in me. I was about to ignore it but I decided I wanted to stand up for myself. I told my parents that they should respect me even if I was sleeping during the day.

That afternoon, the meaning of the dream dawned on me. The dream was all about me. My body had been crying out for rest but I hadn’t respected it enough to listen to its wisdom. I had ignored it and pushed it even further.

Until it decided to give me a taste of my own medicine. It injured me so that I could finally heal a deep trauma.

In its intelligence, it had injured my Achilles heels. My weakness. How I always strive for perfection just so I can give myself permission to feel good about myself.

This morning, I told my Life Coach that I need to love myself no matter what before I attract in a partner. He said that some man will be lucky to have me. All of me.

He told me that I’m already perfect. My “imperfections” are what are making me vulnerable. My vulnerability is pushing me to grow. And that growth is leading me to greatness. Which doesn’t take away from my present greatness.

So I’m listening to my body. I’m resting. I’m taking a break from high intensity exercise. I’m acknowledging my greatness. I’m believing that I deserve love and care and acceptance. And I’m feeling good just because.

life coach kildare

Broken Windows

Since injuring my back at the gym on Sunday, I’ve had to take it easy. This means not doing my usual workout routine. And it’s been hard. I joined the gym in January and, while I signed up because I enjoy exercising and sweating and being healthy, I’ve also delighted in toning up, wearing tighter outfits and having people tell me that I look amazing. Who wouldn’t, right?

Part of me knew that I shouldn’t put too much value on my physical appearance. It’s dangerous attaching how good you’re feeling to something so transient. And another part of me told myself to relish it while it lasted. Which may also be saying something about an unconscious belief that good things don’t last very long. But that’s another day’s work (or blog post).

So, I haven’t been able to hit the gym this week and I noticed my mood dipping a little. I started wearing looser clothing as though I’d gained weight in just a few days. Another reason for feeling out of sorts was that I’d been, quite literally, stopped in my tracks. I had to accept the situation and understand that these things happen for a reason. There was a learning here somewhere (lots of lessons, in fact) if I were to cease feeling sorry for myself long enough to go looking.

Gretchen Rubin writes about the “broken windows theory” of policing, which holds that when a society tolerates minor crimes such as broken windows, graffiti and drinking in public, people are more likely to commit more serious crimes. Rubin suggests that this can also be true on a personal level. These are the signs of disorder that make you feel out of control and overwhelmed. For me, they are not leaving the house all day, not getting my class preparation done and not exercising. Rubin says that enforcing small signs of order makes us feel more in control and happier.

The theory makes sense and it’s great to get things done and to look after yourself. However, this does not mean being rigid. Sometimes, we have to let go of control or we’ll end up miserable. Life happens. We cannot base our happiness on how we think we should look or on how much exercise we feel we should be getting. If we have too many “broken windows” and those shattered panes are destroying our inner peace, we need to look at building the inner peace and self-love and to hell with the windows for a while.

This week, I’ve been watching TV series GirlsThe main character is a 24-year-old writer who’s carrying a bit of extra weight. She gets lots of men and struts around naked. The more I’m watching, the more I’m used to seeing a fleshier actress. This goes to show that the more exposed we are to skinny celebrities, the more we believe that this is the way we all should look. It’s refreshing to watch a show where the characters’ appearances are a little more normal. Even the sexiest female character has a bit of belly and often doesn’t wear a scrap of makeup. And she’s still a beauty. A natural one.

In one of the episodes, leading lady Hannah admits that she’s just like everyone else, that she wants to be happy. That she feels alone. And that she’d been trying to control the way things happened and how she was feeling. Isn’t that why we do what we do in life? To feel happier, less alone and more in control? Why we diet and exercise? Why we purchase new clothes and cut our hair? Why we study for exams and work? Why we save money and buy houses? Why we search for partners and start families?

But beneath the need for happiness, connection and control is a longing for love. And where better to begin than with yourself? Just because. No only-whens and only-ifs. Unconditional love. If you had that, you wouldn’t need to do anything, have anything or control anything. It wouldn’t disappear as soon as your job or relationship ended. It wouldn’t crumble when you gained weight or grew older. It wouldn’t elude you until you had a house and a successful career. It would be a part of you always. It is you. You’ve just forgotten. It’s already there. And it strengthens with use. Today, instead of going to the gym, I choose to exercise my unconditional love. It’s tougher than any workout but the reward makes it so worthwhile.

im not beautiful like you

Breaking Barriers

Today I came up with a new idea: You’re only doing as well as the despair that that one person can drive you into. I spent a wonderful weekend in Glasgow at a Hay House I Can Do It conference, listening to amazing, uplifting speakers, including Dr Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay. I came home feeling positive and present and full of self-love. And yesterday, just one sentence out of one man’s mouth flung me into self-doubt, anger, tears and a whopper of a headache.

We all have periods when we think we’re doing fantastic. We’re getting things done, our confidence is up and life looks pretty good. We think we finally know who we are and what our purpose is. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass said: “If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” Because, if your foundations are even slightly shaky, all it takes is that one family member, friend or co-worker to topple it all.

In my case, I feel fine with everybody else but this one particular man. I can be myself around everyone but him. I’m never totally at ease with this man because he is my biggest mirror. He reflects back to me all the things I dislike about myself or about my current situation. He has a knack of saying exactly what will annoy me most. He is my greatest teacher. I realise that I will not have arrived until I can be myself around this man, until I don’t care what he thinks, until I can tell him to F off with a wink and a smile, and until nothing he says or does or even the way he looks at me has any impact, negative or positive on the foundation of who I am.

Today, I woke with the remnants of yesterday’s pounding headache so I took myself for a walk in the morning sunshine. It occurred to me that I still want to appear perfect, that I don’t want others to talk ill of me or think less of me. And this means that I must not be totally sure of myself because, if I was, nothing anyone said would make a difference.

I wanted this man to acknowledge how well I’m doing, how much progress I’ve made, and how much potential I have. But he knew more about how well I’m doing by my silent reaction of anger, disappointment and self-flagellation than any positive words I’ve spoken or written, any praise I’ve received from clients or family members, or any qualifications I’ve attained.

Today, a part of me broke away – the part that needs approval. This man, my teacher, broke me with his off-the-cuff remark. And that is the best remedy for growth. For when you are broken down, your limiting beliefs break off too. Then, you have room to build afresh. From now on, I’m choosing to build an authentic self, one that holds true to herself no matter what.

Life is a series of lessons. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find yourself some excellent teachers. But it is what you do with those lessons that will determine how much you will grow. I believe that the message behind every lesson is love. Love for others and love for oneself. Rumi wrote:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Yesterday, I found another of those barriers. I had told myself (unconsciously) that I would not love myself unless that man validated me. And I would not love him because he mocked me. Today, in awareness, I decide to love myself (and him) anyway.

Ex-communication: unexpected message from an ex

This blog was created out of heart-break. Things had ended badly with an ex and, though I knew deep down that it was for the best, it didn’t stop the hurt and disappointment. After a number of horrifically depressing, grief-ridden days, I couldn’t stick the pain any longer. So I took out a notepad and started to write. It was then that I decided to turn this awful experience into something positive. And so, out of hardship, and after a considerable amount of pushing, a beautiful blog was born.

And out of this blog, I’ve been granted many marvellous things. I’ve rediscovered my passion for writing. I’ve received encouragement, praise and support from friends and family, and even from wonderful strangers with whom I never would have come into contact without this blog. My life feels fuller. I’ve realised that I don’t need a man to make me whole. And I most certainly don’t need a man who’s going to use and disrespect me.

Time really is the greatest healer. I hadn’t had any contact from my ex for almost a month. I know they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder but sometimes, luckily, it just makes it wander. Even though he still has something belonging to a cousin of mine, I’d been feeling too weak and too raw to ask him to return it. I knew if we had contact, and especially if I saw him, I wouldn’t be able to resist his charms.

This guy, despite warnings from loved ones and even from the logical part of my own mind, had a huge effect on me. I enjoyed his company. He was fun and open and vivacious. He was also dangerous and damaged and destructive. But I cared about him. I adored his eyes and his infectious sense of humour. I loved his smile, the way his lips drew back and his dimples deepened. I had started to fall for him. I was always there for him. I helped him and listened to his problems. And then, just like that, he was gone.

He still visited me in my dreams. Constantly. Like I needed to process what had happened and how I was feeling because I hadn’t had the chance to do it in person. I was slowly coming to the conclusion that he just wasn’t good for me and that I was better off without him. Once I got past his dark curls and sparkling green eyes, his immaturity, insecurity and selfishness became visible. When I looked back on how he treated me, I could very clearly see that he hadn’t cared about me as much as I had cared about him. All I’d longed for was a better life for this lost boy who hadn’t grown up. And I genuinely still want that for him. But, even though I still care, I now care more about myself. I recognise that I was putting myself in harm’s way every time I allowed him back into my life. I was too attached. And each time he cut me off, it hurt that bit more.

This heart-breaking episode has shown me so much about what love is and what it definitely isn’t. Ever since I took my first step on this remarkable new journey, I’ve been shown that the most rewarding type of love is the love you give yourself. In my experience, no sooner are you taught a lesson, than you’re tested on it. If our education system is anything to go by, why else do we learn?

So, you can probably guess what happened next. A month after this beguiling and utterly confusing man disappeared from my life, I received a message from him. I opened it with dread and an irritating remnant of hope. He told me that he had noticed that I’d removed him as a friend on Facebook, which he said was “acceptable, considering my behaviour”. He wished me all the best in my future and signed off using his full name. He had always been dramatic. This was probably the fifth time he’d bestowed me with such a final sentiment. He definitely knew his way around those heart-strings! Tears crept behind my eyes, ready to leap out at any moment. I couldn’t help this initial, very physical reaction. But something within me had shifted ever so slightly. Every other time, I’d fallen for his mind-games and engaged him in conversation until he inevitably said something much like the following: I just want to say that you’re an amazing woman. You deserve the best things in life. And bam! He was back! You’d swear we were the over-the-top leading characters in the latest Nicholas Sparks’ romance! This time, however, I simply replied: “Thanks, you too. By the way, my cousin wants his Sopranos box-set back. You can drop it over to him any time.” And that is that. I’m putting all this behind me, once and for all, and I don’t even have to see him. Why torture myself unnecessarily?

Sudden contact from this exhausting ex momentarily robbed me of the serenity I’d recently been enjoying. That familiar see-saw of emotions resurfaced all too easily. I feel sad about the loss of someone I genuinely cared for. But I know now that I was never really helping him, I was merely another of his distractions. And I most definitely wasn’t helping myself. Since we’ve ended it (for the last time, honest!), I’ve had extraordinary insights into the crisscrossed highways of my mind and how I’ve been negotiating them. I recognise that it wasn’t even the loss of him that hurt so badly, it was more the belief that my life lacked something without him. I felt empty and I had nothing to distract myself from that. A surprising sense of gratitude swept over me. I now thank my ex for forcing me to wake up. Because, without him, this blog would never have come into being.

I sat with my feelings until I had a clear picture of what was going on for me. And then I smoothed on a soothing balm prepared by my loved ones in the form of a laugh-a-minute lunch with my family and numerous indignant and reassuring text messages from my closest friends. And then, as my spirits were rising, I found myself drifting towards nature.

I left the iPod at home and walked with my stillness. There was something surreal, something magical about this quiet evening. Frost spread across the grass like icing. Sheep huddled in silence. I stopped and really looked at one of these creatures. It was big and solid and woolly, with a face that reminded me of nursery rhymes. I wondered what it would feel like to hug it. Suddenly, a large flock of birds swooped overhead, dotting the pink and navy sky with black. Dark trees stood stoically against the sunset. A sense of calm washed over me. I breathed in all this beauty and peace and breathed out the heart-break.

I have finally released him.

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Click here for or a list of tips on how to survive heart-break.