Tag Archives: weather

Instamoment

I wake in the early hours of the morning. Unable to fall back to sleep, I creep to the other room to meditate.

The curtains are pulled wide. The sky is decorated with layers of cloud, dusky and white. The wind mewls, causing the ebony trees to arch and bounce.

My first instinct is to capture this experience for an Instastory. But having already committed to a social media-free Sunday, I don’t do this.

I’m forced to be in the moment, to really see and hear and feel what’s right in front of me. I look out and I breathe. My senses are heightened.

Most people are sleeping at this mysterious hour. I’m in the privileged position of being a lone observer, from this vantage point, of nature in all of its mind-blowing glory.

I marvel at the lightness and flexibility of the branches as they sway and back-bend.

The clouds move across the heavens. I make out a seahorse, which transforms into a chimpanzee. I can’t remember when I’ve been quiet and undistracted long enough to look for shapes in the clouds.

Every so often, a single star is revealed. And the pinprick of an aeroplane travels through the night.

If it hadn’t been for social media-free Sunday, I’d have taken a brief impression of this spectacular moment, then immediately pointed my phone at it.

I’d eye it through a screen, then frame or alter it before sharing it online. How it looked onscreen would be more important than the reality, which I’d barely give a second glance.

Nature is bestowing me with miracles. The least I can do is give it all of my attention and appreciation.

And so I sit at that window, a different screen altogether, and connect in a way that only time and pure presence allows.

girl window night sky

I didn’t point my phone at this special moment so this is an image I lifted from Google.

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Eat Pray Love?

I am hesitant about spending three days on my own in a mostly closed-down seaside village in March but I know I want to get away and I also know that I have to do it alone.

I have had a bit of a rough time of it in the last while and I need respite from the storm. As I drive from east to west Ireland, I head straight from a metaphorical storm into a real one.

I expect to feel lonely but I am quite content in my own company. Upon my arrival, I go out to the beach. I walk against high winds and watch the crashing waves. In the evening, I take my laptop to a hotel and peek out at the ocean as I sip on a glass of Guinness. That night, I nibble on chocolate as I watch a movie from beneath a mound of blankets. And I have the most wonderful sleep.

On the second day, I complete a college assignment and jog down a quiet country road. I make a “chillax” playlist, light incense and candles, and get drunk in the bath on a glass of red wine as I delightedly tuck into Elizabeth Gilbert’s endearing memoir Eat Pray Love.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

That night, the wind shakes the rafters and the rain pelts down. And it isn’t the kind of rain that appears on many a relaxation CD; it’s the kind that makes you worry for the house (and for yourself).

On the third day, the loneliness descends. I feel too depressed to make food or leave the house so I give myself permission to close the curtains, put on a movie and eat chocolate. The sun shines annoyingly from behind the blinds. I feel guilty.

Earlier in the day, I had finished Eat Pray Love. Elizabeth Gilbert had found pleasure, peace, God and love, and I am happy for her, but now I really am alone. Even the nice, fun self who got drunk with me in the bath has left and been replaced with a demanding, insatiable self who reprimands me with all the fervour and righteousness of a school-teaching nun. I haven’t signed up for this. I’m on holidays. I can do what I want.

Halfway through the movie, I decide that I’d actually quite like to spend some time in the company of the sun and the ocean so I drag myself out of bed and embark upon a cliff walk.

The wind whips me in several directions. The ocean is beautiful but frightening as its waves roar and rise higher and higher, its spray landing on my face. I wonder if it’s safe to walk so high up, to be so close to such fierce unpredictability. There is nobody around. Am I alone in my insanity?

At one point, the wind grows so strong that I have to hold on to a railing. Then, there is no more railing. I could turn back but I’ve come so far. I just have to get to the peak and turn the corner. I’m stubborn in my insanity too.

Suddenly, a stone hits me in the face. I march to the top and turn the corner. Only then do I raise my hand to my cheek. I quite enjoy the sting of it. Tears spring to my eyes. Am I a masochist? Do I think I deserve to be hurt? No. It is simply because I can understand physical pain. Physical pain allows me to lift a gentle hand to my cheek to check if I’m okay.

As I move onto safer terrain, I ask myself why I’d been scared. In case I died? With a jolt, I realise that it isn’t death I’m afraid of; it’s more suffering. If you’re so afraid of suffering, a voice from within asks, why do you keep creating more and more of it? Why not put an end to all the guilt, the shoulds and shouldn’t haves, the only ifs and whens? Why not stop the exhausting drive for perfection?

If I’m serious about ending the needless suffering, I need to peel off the “good” and “bad” labels I put on everything. I have to stop the judgements. I also have to stop being so dependent on outside events, on other people and their opinions, and on my own thoughts and feelings.

I’ve been so dependent on a variety of people, things and invisible forces that I’m like a small child perched on one end of a see-saw, always waiting to see who’ll sit on the other side, before I can know how high or low they’ll take me.

How I long to connect with that inner stillness I’ve been reading so much about. That pure, perfect, beautiful, unconditional love that’s apparently a part of me. If only I could know, really know, that the essence of who I am is like the clear blue sky, then I wouldn’t be so disturbed and even altered by the lightning and the storm clouds.

All I have to do is accept myself exactly as I am. And accept others for who they are. And accept situations and feelings just as they are too. All I have to do is accept graciously and love unconditionally. But how do I get there?

I guess the first step of all this acceptance stuff is to accept that I don’t have all the answers and that I’m just not there yet.

And so I start to run. The wind settles, the sun beams down from a clear blue sky, and, I shit you not, I run right underneath a rainbow.

favim.com

favim.com

Freewheelin’

I went for a cycle this morning. The sun was shining but the wind was strong. As I struggled against the wind, I thought: It’s amazing how something invisible can exert so much force, how something I can’t see can hinder me from going where I want to go.

Then it struck me. Our thoughts are a lot like the wind. They’re intangible and we can’t physically look at them. But they can stop us in our tracks as we attempt to battle against them.

Last night, as I flicked through a friend’s Coaching manual from Executive Coaching SolutionsI came across a section on Common Cognitive Distortions (CCDs), otherwise known as ‘thinking traps’. This is the type of distorted thinking that causes us to feel negative emotions.

Examples of CCDs include All or Nothing thinking, Disqualifying the Positive, Jumping to Conclusions (suddenly we become really talented mind readers and fortune tellers), Approval Seeking, Comparison, and Woe is Me thoughts.

I know I’ve engaged all of the above on many the occasion. The trick here is to be aware of the style of thinking you’re employing and to question it. Question the validity of your statements, check the facts, and see if you can turn it around into something more useful, more positive. I’m a big fan of Byron Katie’s work. Read more about how to question your thoughts and turn them around here.

Now, back to the bike. As the wind blew, I had to stand up and pedal harder. The sun blinded me as it reflected up off the wet ground. Then, I spotted a man walking his horse. When they heard me approach, the horse bucked. I waited for it to settle before moving on.

Today’s cycle threw up a few obstacles. At least with the things I could physically see, I was able to manoeuvre them. I squinted and averted my eyes from the glare of the sun. I stopped until the man had his horse under control before passing with caution. But there was nothing I could do about the wind. Well, I could get off the bike and walk but I was determined to keep riding.

Moments later, I turned a corner. I got in front of the wind and freewheeled down a hill. I felt exhilarated. By the time I got to a flat surface, the wind had died down and I cycled the rest of the way home with ease.

Your thoughts are much like the wind as you balance precariously atop the saddle on your exciting journey through life. Sometimes your thoughts will come thick and fast and you’ll have to decide whether to ride on or get off the bike. Other times, your thoughts will die down and you’ll flow through your days with ease. But you’re human and so thoughts will always come. It’s up to you whether you make them work for or against you. It’s your choice. Labour against the wind or ride with it!

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favim.com

Leaning into Life

Listening to the Hay House World Summit at the weekend, I heard one of the speakers say: “Successful people do what they want to do, not what they feel like doing.” At the time, I didn’t really get it. The following day, it hit me.

For quite some time, I’ve been teaching myself to get quiet and listen to my body. I’ve learned how to say “No” and how to know what’s right for me at any given moment. I thought the best motto for life was to “go with the flow”.

Then, I came across an article by Noor Shawwa, who wrote about the three ways we approach life. He suggested that we can go with the flow (lean back), walk away (quit) or make the most of it (lean in). A couple of days later, I read another article, this one by Jack Canfield, telling us to “Build Momentum by Leaning into It.”

Going with the flow is a welcome relief after a lifetime of resistance and control. But upon reading these articles, I realise that there is something empowering about leaning into life. If I always sit back and do what I feel like doing, I’d skip the workout and eat lots of cake. Alternatively, if I were to do what I want to do, I’d do things that make me fit and healthy and full of energy. Yes, I might feel like watching the latest Ryan Gosling flick (and that’s okay too) but I might want to prepare an inspiring Positive Living class more.

So today, even though I don’t feel like it, I take myself out for a cycle. And boy am I tested on that, as yet, uncertain balance between going with the flow, leaning in and downright quitting!

The wind is strong. No matter which direction I go, it blows against me. I huff and puff in annoyance. I want it to stop. A plump bumblebee dives onto my head and bounces off my eyelid. As I pedal along, a dog chases me, barking incessantly. I reason with it in a sing-song voice, trying to appeal to its gentler nature. Eventually, it gives up. Just before I cycle right into a giant pothole. I am totally jarred but I remain upright. Minutes later, two tiny flies simultaneously suicide-bomb into one eye each. I pull over and rub my eyes vigorously, only burying them further into their watery graves.

I sit back on the saddle and laugh. Up until this point, I thought everything was against me. Now it feels more like nature is working with me in order to wake me up. There is nothing I can do about the weather. I have two legs that are working hard to bring me into the beautiful countryside. The wind is warm (and it’s not often you can say that in Ireland!) and it’s forcing me to get more out of my workout.

Just as I relax into it, it begins to drizzle, thus breaking the weeklong spell of glorious sunshine. I can’t change the weather, I mutter. But I can change my attitude. I understand that leaning into life still requires going with the flow. It’s just about adding momentum. So I lean into the rain and keep going. I’m like a human hearse carrying two tiny insects who have sacrificed themselves for the cause – my awareness.

Riding the Waves

I forced myself out for a walk yesterday even though the weather was being particularly indecisive. It went from sunny blue skies to windy dark grey to pelting rain in mere minutes. As I headed up the street, raindrops began to appear, slowly at first like the initial deliberate bursts of popcorn, then hard and fast and loud. No, I muttered silently. Please don’t. Then I realised that my resistance, my pleading and cursing, wasn’t going to stop the rain from falling. It was just going to make me feel miserable.

Desiring something to be different from the way it is brings us out of alignment with reality, which naturally creates unhappiness and frustration. So I looked up and said, Do what you have to do. I shrugged off thoughts of Everything’s going to get so wet, dumped them on the ground beside me and walked away, eyes scrunched and hair matted against my face.

I felt a strange sense of elation. A Fuck you world mixed with Bring it. I wanted to punch the air and sprint past sheep and shriek along to Ellie Goulding’s Halcyon.

You know that point when you understand that you are powerless? That life will continue to roll no matter what reservations you might have. That moment when you simply give up. And in that instant, you feel oddly powerful. Free. Like you’re riding the waves instead of swimming against them. It’s exhilarating.

My lower back is still stiff and painful but now, instead of struggling against it, I’m leaning into it. I’ve stopped the hard-core gym sessions and started doing gentler exercises at home. I discovered a Pilates studio in Newbridge and attended it for the first time this morning. A man approached me about a new yoga class he’s setting up next week. And I’m getting out in the fresh air and daylight for invigorating walks in the Irish weather.

As I neared home, the sky cleared. I gazed at enormous tree trunks, orange berries and smiling daffodils, and I nodded: Yes, all is well.

Check out this lady making the most of her time waiting for a bus. It brings to mind the following poem:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
                                                         Love like you’ll never be hurt,
                                          Sing like there’s nobody listening,
                                     And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

“All that technology stuff, it’s horrid modern.”

Last Saturday, a couple of people advised me to check out Tony Bates (a clinical psychologist discussing resilience) on The Marian Finucane Show. Me being me (disliking pressure / rarely doing what I’m told / avoiding things that are probably good for me), I didn’t switch on the radio.

But then, me being me (seeing sense eventually and not being too proud to admit when I’ve made a mistake), I decided that I would have a listen. However, it is now Wednesday, four days since the piece aired. I’ve missed the proverbial boat. But not if modern technology has anything to do with it.

With a few simple clicks, I can dust off the podcast, and with another few clicks, skip right to the good stuff. With laptops and iPods and Sky+ Boxes, I can do away with time and chronology. I am living in a world driven by downloads and streaming and GPS. I can record my favourite programmes and choose to view them a year later. I can rewind live TV and fast forward the ads. I can listen to morning radio as I complete my daily walk, pausing Ray D’Arcy mid-interview as I pop into the shop to buy chewing gum.

Does all this mean we’re messing with the proper order of things and doing away with living in the present moment? I think not. These incredible scientific developments actually allow us to live more fully in the now. If I don’t feel like watching the weather report, listening to the news, or buying the paper right now, I can postpone it, without worrying about missing anything. I can pause Love/Hate to give my sister a buzz, pop to the loo, and make a cup of tea, before finally allowing Robert Sheehan to blink.

Modern technology gives creative folk a platform to showcase their talents. It’s what’s allowing me to publish my writing and to receive instant feedback from readers in Canada, Australia and Hawaii. It’s how I decide what book to read next, what movie would suit my mood, and where to go on holidays. It’s how I learn how to play the flute, cast on a stitch, and discover what the colour taupe looks like. It’s what motivated protesters to start up the Occupy Movement. It’s how I seek out what the newspapers aren’t telling me. Modern technology allows us to ignore what’s irrelevant and cut to the truth.

Have I listened to that radio show yet? No, I got distracted by the miracle of modern technology and then decided to share my random reflections with the world. Maybe I’ll put it on now. Or not.

Featured Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Devanagari_INSCRIPT_Keyboard.JPG

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Coming to my Senses

Every so often, I have a flash of what life would be like without one of my senses. And so I give thanks for my five functioning faculties.

I am grateful for my sense of hearing because of the following…

The soprano song of a violin. The passionate pounding of a piano. A talented vocalist. The morning call of a Collared Dove. A baby’s laughter. Howling wind. Hammering rain. Thundering waves.

I am blessed with the sense of sight because I get to see…

Fairy lights. Ballet. A handsome man in a tight T-shirt. The explosion of colour that a sunset brings. A night sky crowded with stars. The ocean. The dimple of a smile. Flowers and foreign lands.

My sense of smell allows me to enjoy…

Coffee, cut grass, and Christmas trees. Sunscreen and spices and incense. Baby smells of Sudocrem and innocence. The whiff of a cooking dinner when I come home after a long day.

My sense of taste gives me the pleasure of…

Kisses. A mug of tea made by somebody else. A glass of juice after a hard night’s drinking. Gyros and Greek salads. Chips from a brown paper bag. A home-cooked meal following a day in the mountains. Picnics.

Without my sense of touch, I would be unable to appreciate…

A tight embrace. The warmth of an open fire. Sun on skin. A welcome breeze. Skinny dipping. A lover on my neck.

Images: http://patriciaquintessence.blogspot.com/2011/06/oceans-day-today.html; http://weheartit.com/entry/18825370; http://favim.com/image/152231/

http://favim.com/image/31925/

http://rachelindsey.tumblr.com/post/13423884962

http://sweetmountain.tumblr.com/