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
Shannon Kaiser asks: “If you were to die tonight, what regrets would you have?” Tonight, as part of a Positive Living class, we answered this question. I wrote:
“I would regret all the times I put myself through unnecessary suffering, when I could have been present instead, when I could have enjoyed the moment.
“I would regret playing it small, not going for the great stuff in life, not believing I deserved it all.”
My words surprised me. A smile stretched my lips as my pen scratched across the page. I found this exercise extremely insightful and motivating. Now, it’s your turn…
Posted in Positive Thinking, Random
Tagged death, enjoyment, insight, life, living, moment, motivation, play with the world, positive living classes, present, regret, regrets, risk-taking, self-belief, self-love, shannon kaiser, suffering
As I lie in a spa being oiled and kneaded, my mind is elsewhere. I find myself rating the atmosphere, the decor, and the manner and technique of the masseuse. I compare this experience with others. I shouldn’t be thinking, I think. I should be relaxed. Because I am in a spa, I expect to feel serene. Halfway through the treatment, I decide I’m tired of thinking. I surrender to the music, the heat, the touch…
Afterwards, as I sit in the relaxation room in a white robe and slippers, I get talking to an older lady. She tells me that she wasn’t able to have the hydrotherapy bath because she wouldn’t have been able to get in or out of it. She didn’t have the hot stone massage either because the masseuse was afraid of aggravating her psoriasis. I ask her if she’s disappointed. She says, “No because I had no expectations.” She’d enjoyed the swimming pool, the creams and the foot rub instead.
Expectations are usually a precursor to disappointment, anger and agitation. We get depressed because we think things should be different. We think we should be different. We become annoyed with loved ones because we expect them to behave the way we think they should. We cry on our birthday because it hasn’t lived up to the excitement we threw upon it. We feel let down by Christmas because the dinner tasted better last year; the presents didn’t make us / the children as happy as we’d expected; we’d looked forward to having all the family together but Steve couldn’t make it, Martha didn’t make an effort, and then there was that huge fight…
The movie that has too much hype surrounding it rarely lives up to our expectations. New Year’s Eve is often the worst night of the year. We stay in and we feel sad and alone. We go out and we’ve nobody to kiss at midnight and we’re embracing the toilet bowl. And as for sex… we’ve had better, right? Many women admit to feeling let down by sex (or their partner or even themselves) because they expect nothing less than an orgasm. As a result, they fail to let go enough to enjoy the moment-by-moment pleasure.
When it comes to relationships, expectations are often what hold them together but ultimately what drive them apart. I remember being dumped by a boyfriend and feeling disappointed because I’d expected him to be “The One” and it was going to be a pain to have to start all over again with somebody else. How far removed from the present moment is that? A friend told me how upset she was when her boyfriend left her. She added: “I was hoping to spend my birthday with him. I’ve never had a boyfriend on my birthday. And now, I’m gonna have yet another birthday as a singleton.” This guy just wasn’t right for her. It was her dashed expectation that saddened her more than the loss of this particular man.
We feel more at ease in the company of someone who’s not trying so hard to control everything. There’s more room to breathe, to laugh, to just be… So, if we stop expecting so much from those close to us, we’ll enable closer (and freer) relationships. And if we stop building up unrealistic expectations of events, we’ll enjoy them whatever way they turn out. It’s often the impromptu nights that are the most fun. And we end up really enjoying that trip we hadn’t been looking forward to. Why? Because we had no expectations and, therefore, no attachment to the outcome.
Having no expectations doesn’t mean acquiring a pessimistic outlook on life. It means slipping into the present. Enjoying everything as it happens. Letting go of control over ourselves and others. It means less stress and disappointment. It means relaxing into the flow and allowing life to get easier. When we have no expectations whatsoever, that’s when magic can happen…
Posted in Modern Society, Personal development
Tagged anger, attachment, break up, disappointment, enjoyment, expectations, flow, heartbreak, hot stone massage, hydrotherapy bath, letting go, life, massage, masseuse, moment, present, relaxation, sadness, spa, thoughts, treatment