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 Solutions, I 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!
Posted in Personal development, Positive Thinking
Tagged approval seeking, awareness, battle, byron katie, ccds, common cognitive disturbances, comparison, cycling, determination, difficulty, distorted thinking, dublin, ease, emotions, excitement, executive coaching solutions, exhilaration, feelings, hardship, ireland, kingstown college, labour, life coaching, nature, negative thinking, negativity, november, obstacles, peace, positive thinking, positivity, power, questioning, strength, struggle, the work, thinking, thoughts, weather, winter
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
When I read this quote by Hamilton Wright Mabie, it made me realise that Christmas is a wonderful occasion. Without it, the winter would be long and dark and joyless. Because of it, we decorate our homes and celebrate with loved ones. We prepare delicious meals and spend time with friends and family. We organise parties and string coloured lights across our streets. We give each other gifts and take time to rest and have fun. We sing along to much-loved tunes and give more generously to those in need. And we allow ourselves a sprinkle of hope and magic as we acknowledge the birth of baby Jesus and anticipate the sound of sleigh bells for Santa’s annual visit.
Unfortunately, some people dread this time of year. The pressure of spending money on presents and getting the house ready for visitors, the long dark cold evenings and, for those who have lost a loved one, the memories of happier Christmases past, are difficult to handle. However, there are many reasons to be thankful for this beautiful season. Here are some of mine…
Nature is stunning when it dresses for winter…
Fairy lights, candles and the scent of Christmas trees…
This year, I am choosing to focus on the best qualities of Christmas – generosity, love, laughter and fun, holidays and rest, good food and movies, parties, games and warm fires, loved ones who travel home from far off lands, and Christmas songs…
So, how about connecting with the true spirit of Christmas this year? The authentic sentiments of love, hope and blessings. Give your loved ones the best present of all – the gift of your presence. Your happiness. Your joy. And spread the goodwill all around. Ho ho ho!
Images: Author’s own.
Posted in Events, Modern Society
Tagged baby jesus, charity, christmas, christmas songs, christmas tree, darkness, depression, fairy lights, gabrielle aplin, generosity, gift, goodwill, hope, love, money, nature, poverty, presence, presents, pressure, the power of love, true spirit of christmas, winter, worry
There is something about the wind in the leaves this time of year. It reminds me of the fizz of the ocean as it races up and down the strand. There is an entire symphony up every bark. A final farewell before journeying into winter.
This is my meditation music. I discard my iPod and tilt back my head. Leaves swirl from the heavens and blow across my path. Someday, I might understand the hum, hiss and chatter of the trees. If I stop awhile and listen.
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?
Posted in Health, Modern Society
Tagged accessories, acupuncture, appreciation, autumn, christmas, daylight, depression, enjoyment, exercise, fashion, friends, galileo, hallowe'en, holiday, homeopathy, lamp, mood, nature, outdoors, plans, relaxation, sad, seasonal affective disorder, support, survival, tips, treat, walking, winter
I recently received an email from an old friend, who’s living abroad. She was writing to tell me that my blog has really inspired her to stop and look at life and has made her realise how lucky she is. She continued:
“Today, I was rushing to get to the shops before they closed when I saw a man, alone in the snow. He was shaking. I was a bit apprehensive but I thought: ‘I can’t leave him. It’s minus 10 and instinct tells me he needs help.’ So, I stopped. It turns out he had Parkinson’s and had hurt his arm. I phoned for a taxi and paid the driver to bring him to the hospital. The look of relief in the old man’s eyes when he sat in and shook my hand was heart breaking. I really think reading your words has changed my way of thinking. I’ve always had a lot of empathy but it takes courage to do something about a situation that’s a bit intimidating. Thanks, Sharon.”
This story brought tears to my eyes. Only days previously, another woman had told me I should stop publishing my work on the internet because I’m not getting paid for it, and on top of that, somebody could steal it. But this unexpected email reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Not everything we do has to result in monetary, or even personal, gain. Occasionally, people surprise us by giving, without looking for anything in return. The other day, I stepped onto a busy Luas (Dublin tram) when I felt a tap on the shoulder. I looked around at a dishevelled young man, who carried a sleeping bag under his arm. He said:
“Sorry, luv. I just wanted to let you know that your bag’s open. Be careful ‘coz someone could snatch your purse.”
I thanked him and zipped up my handbag. We then chatted about his life as a homeless person. He spoke about how he tries to rustle up enough money each day to stay in a hostel. Otherwise, he sleeps on the streets. I waited for him to ask me for some change (of which I had none – I’d given my last few coins as a tip to a waitress) but at the next stop, he simply said, “See ya luv” and was gone. “Take care!”, I called after him, feeling helpless yet totally moved. Yesterday, it snowed. I hope he’s okay.
Speaking of looking for change, check out this inspiring short film…
‘Tis the season of giving presents to our loved ones but how about, this Christmas, giving or doing something special for somebody who really needs it?
Posted in Modern Society, Random, Spirituality
Tagged blog, change, change for a dollar, christmas, dublin, generosity, giving, good deeds, gratitude, help, injury, inspirational, kindness, luas, money, parkinson's, presents, robbing, snow, stealing, winter, writing
I spotted the first spitting of snow this morning. I know most of us complained about last year’s white spell because it lasted so long. Dates were cancelled, flights were grounded, people were stranded, women couldn’t wear high heels.. However, here are a few reasons why I can’t help feeling excited when I see snowflakes…
No matter who or where you are, you simply have to yell at somebody, anybody, to make sure they can see that IT’S SNOWING!
Everybody could do with a snow day off work / school.
Everything. slows. down.
It’s just so pretty. A blanket of snow can transform the ugliest of settings into a winter wonderland.
It’s the perfect excuse for all things hot… Hot bath, hot stew, hot chocolate, hot port…
I’ll never be too old to delight in being the first to crunch across virgin snow.
Childlike, creative qualities are key – think snowballs, snow angels, snowmen… Last winter, my sister’s boyfriend built a slide and an igloo and drove around on a quad. I know who I’ll be hanging out with this year…
Last December, I met a friend for one hot toddy. We ended up in Swifts, the local (shit) night club, tearing up the dance floor in our hiking boots and wellies. Best night ever!
Hollywood has convinced us that it ain’t really Christmas ’til it snows… Merry Christmas!
Posted in Random
Tagged bath, boyfriend, childlike, children, christmas, creativity, dancing, dates, december, delight, excitement, flights, flights grounded, hiking boots, hollywood, hot chocolate, hot port, hot toddy, igloo, magic, night club, night life, quad, school, sister, snow, snow angels, snow day, snowballs, snowmen, stew, swifts, wellies, winter, winter wonderland, work
"Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby." Langston Hughes
It’s raining. And the forecast is for much more of it. With gale force winds. We’re all still a bit raw from the recent flooding in Ireland, which took the lives of a woman and a brave young policeman. So naturally, the news of more of the above may put a lot of people in bad form. Harsh weather conditions remind us of those unfortunate enough to be living on the streets. It gives greater meaning to the folk protesting with the #Occupy movement. And it makes us appreciate having four walls and a roof over our heads that much more.
However, rain can also be beautiful. It is necessary for the growth of crops and plants and pretty flowers. Swimming in the ocean as the sky opens is one of the most magical of moments… And the sound of rainfall can be extremely relaxing. Its tune acts as soothing background music as you play cards with a loved one in a caravan… The sky darkens ominously and makes it okay to stay indoors. There is nothing cosier than an evening by the fire as the winds whistle aggressively and the rain beats down outside… I know what I’m doing later…
Images: androidzoom.com; http://blog.cyber-rain.com/?paged=2
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged beauty, death, flooding, gale force winds, holiday, nature, rain, storm, weather, wind, winter