Tag: Positivity

Sage

Okay. This is my first blog in a long time and I’m doing something I don’t usually do and posting without drafting first. This is a bit intense-sort of like public speaking without practicing but if I don’t do it I never will. I probably wouldn’t advise this as a long term public platform strategy because we’ve all witnessed the toe curling awkwardness of an ill planned speech so let’s think of this more like karaoke. After all, we can all forgive a poor but heartfelt rendition of Adele’s, Someone Like You.

I have found it so hard to write. So hard to do something I really enjoy. What’s with that? Am I alone? Are you artists not painting, are you fitness fiends not at the gym, you singers missing choir to watch Netflix, you cooks ordering take away? We are in a funk people. And just for your information funk is being in a bad space, avoiding things out of fear, you get the drift. Funk!

I’ve been avoiding my computer. I’ve been locking it in a cupboard. Not because I’m bonkers but because I’m living overseas and my guest house is not equipped with four star safe security. So I cover it with my undies to keep it and my passport safe. This of course means every day when I go to get fresh pants-and lets be honest sometimes not so fresh-I see it. Staring expectantly up at me, eager for attention like a tiger dog. I ignore it, not because I think it may be rabid but because I don’t know where to start.

But today is the day. Fear, self-doubt, uncertainty, have made me jumpy and the irony is, when I get in such a mindset it is hard to grasp and action the things I know make a difference.

So why post today? Good question. It has to do with another of my great passions-food. There is the most delicious restaurant right down my road. Sage. Fabulous name on so many levels. Gourmet vegan cuisine. And when you order, around a napkin and your utensils is wrapped a little message.

This was mine.

You will get there when you are meant to get there and not one moment sooner. So relax, breathe, and be patient.

It was exactly what I needed. I have been patient and all the time I’ve not been writing I’ve been doing other things. So if you find yourself in the midst of an inner struggle do not underestimate the efforts you make to regroup and the self reliance you gain in the process. When the time is right you will be ready to re-embrace your passions. See I’ve already started a story…

Before you embark on a massive life change you cannot possibly imagine what your life will be like two, three weeks after the event. Where will you be living, how will you get around, what will the weather be like. And this is only the tip of a relocation iceberg. Lurking in the deep blue waters of life change are bigger questions and darker answers. Feelings and emotions, you had absolutely no idea you’d feel. So, as Eliza Stipend sipped her bitter coffee it should come as no surprise she burst into tears. The tears of -what the hell am I doing-gulped out of her. But for Eliza and so many who forge out into the unknown solo there was no one there to give her a hug.

Better post before I edit!

‘Why not you?’

My brother told me about a conversation he had with my niece. She wants to enter a fiercely competitive field, full of people who seem so much more qualified and suitable for it than her. He stopped her as she talked herself out of it, mid-sentence of self-doubt, mid flourish of the tendency to accept failure before we even begin. And simply said to her, ‘Why not you?’

Of course he then went on to list all the reasons why she should try, why she was as competent as the next person and so on. But it was those three words which struck me.

Most people I meet are a lot more talented, creative, hard-working and loving than they give themselves credit for. We are pretty realistic too, so often the things we aspire to are not way out of reach. If we can just make the leap of faith to try, or in some cases feel we are worthy, then who knows where we might end up.

To believe in ourselves enough to attempt the things we want is tough. There is absolutely no guarantee of ease and success. Rejection and failure happen and are good reasons not to put yourself out there. Sometimes the things we seek are not realistic but isn’t hanging onto what we can’t achieve a way to avoid what we can. Yes, the trip could be a disaster, the relationship awful and bruised with regrets, even the career you’ve worked so hard for may be full of disappointment.

But what if it wasn’t?

Want to feel that sparkle not the dread of the unknown? The glow of satisfaction that your hard work is paying off. The promise of possibility and optimism which brings us to life. The readiness to make a difference? In which case, ‘Why not you?’

Lovelocks

‘I loved… against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.’ Charles Dickens-Great Expectations

Near where I live is a spectacular coastal cliff path. A half neglected track of rubbly rocks fringed with those tough looking shrubs which can survive howling winds and salty air. It is the perfect place to clear your head. And along the path is a lookout thrust out over the sea. For years, lovers, family and friends have attached lovelocks to the railings much like the bridges in Paris. But one day they were all gone. The lookout had been remodeled and all the lovelocks removed.

But last week I went walking along that path, some new locks had been added and it made me smile. I’d just read this quote from Great Expectations with Pip describing his feelings for Estella. Now we all know our great romantic loves and passions may not last, they may be misguided or ambushed by life, but for an instant, for a while, it is one of life’s great gifts to love another person. Lovelocks like love in real life can be removed or be transient but for a moment they are a symbol of our conviction, optimism and capacity to give of ourselves.

In a world so full of distrust and disharmony it is important to remind ourselves that love exists and is thriving. However you choose, loudly or quietly, or even with a lovelock, it is important to declare our love and promise to the people we cherish. They may be a partner, a relative, or a friend but by doing so we set an example that to live with love and hope is better than to live with fear.

Do You Need Creative Inspiration?

You know sometimes we are so bombarded by where we should be finding inspiration that we can forget to look around us. We become so preoccupied with that greener grass, tempting us from the other side of the fence, that we ignore our own backyard. If you find yourself daydreaming more than doing, wishing more than appreciating, have a look for your inspirations close to home. Be mindful of your current environment, be present, and allow yourself to experience it in as many sensory ways as you can.

  • Your local natural world is a wonder. A garden, a park, a beach, whatever is near you, observe it. Albert Einstein summed this up so beautifully, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
  • Find a possession which you love. A painting, a book, a plant. Something, which every time you see it, you feel lucky to have. Imagine the journey it took to create it, the hours, or the passion which inspired it.
  • Remember feelings of accomplishment and achievement, find the items which remind you of your successes. A photo, a card, a present. They are our symbolic trophies, so stop and reflect on the work it took to receive them. Let them be a source of future inspiration.
  • And listen to your own personal soundtrack. Music takes us to the good times and the bad. It allows the mind to wander which can lead to a new path.

It is often the smallest, most mundane of things, which combined correctly, produce the greatest of things. The details of the world give an authenticity to creative work. And, who knows, your next great inspiration could be a lot closer to you than you think.

Love your thoughts…

Art work by @Dana Kinter- a wonderful artist who inspires me.

‘A smile is the beginning of peace.’ Mother Teresa

Are you feeling turbulent? Out of sorts. Not at ease.

We all go through those hours, days, weeks or even longer when we just feel like we can’t get it together. No matter how hard we try our tummies churn and our minds leap between self-doubt and disaster. For many years I’ve tried to fight against the inner turmoil. Tried my best to think my way out of the negative feelings which can grip me. But the struggle leaves me exhausted and often the thoughts which overrun me are still lurking.

So I’m trying a different approach. Accepting that my worries are a part of me. Instead of catastrophizing the big picture I’m trying –and please note I say trying!- to look at my intrusive thoughts with more impartiality. Acknowledge and accept they are there but not buy into the emotional responses which accompany them. Sometimes I can only manage this distraction for a minute or so but sometimes hours pass before they re-occur. The more time between the thought and my emotional reaction to it the better.

There are many wonderful resources to support us with retraining our thinking. And one thing I do now, when my mind runs away, is to try to breathe deeper and smile. Even though the smile may be awkward and forced it does promote a mind-body kinship which helps my thoughts feel more peaceful. What are some of the things which work for you?

The Dangers of Busy Work

“Procrastination is the thief of time.” Edward Young

Procrastination is a sneaky thing and you can find yourself doing it without even realising. We all have things we are putting off and I’m giving myself a bit of a shake down because I know I’m procrastinating.

When I got my first teaching contract the class teacher I took over from told me the children had a busy book. I wasn’t sure what that was but on closer examination it was a book where children could work on tasks when other work was finished. After a few days I realised the busy book was a great distraction and that busy work was a great way to avoid harder more demanding activities. I think we are all a bit guilty of doing busy work which often mimics the things that need doing. We are doing something but if we’re honest it’s not always the stuff we should be.

So if like me you’re using busy work to delay a job, task or project it’s probably time to break down why.

Worried about outside influences and opinions. This is a very real reason for procrastinating. No matter how much intrinsic motivation we have most of us do care a bit about what others think. We may not want to offend, we may be worried about criticism, or we simply don’t want to put ourselves out there. Sometimes doing nothing is easier than facing the hard stuff. But in the long wrong are we only putting off the inevitable.

Not knowing where to start. You’re staring up at a mountain with no idea how to climb it. So you can either run back to the chalet or just begin. I’ve decided not to look at the top because that’s way too overwhelming but instead gaze a little bit higher than where I am standing. A different perspective does make things more achievable and I’m more inclined to try.

Not quite ready for the hard work. Doing something challenging is not easy and often the things we procrastinate about are difficult for us. They may be so close to our hearts we don’t want to try in case we fail. But if this is the case than the not doing can be even more soul-destroying as a bad outcome. If we don’t try we can be on the slippery slope to self-sabotaging and no one wants to go there.

By honestly breaking down the reasons why we are procrastinating we can address them. Busy work is more than happy to get in the way of tackling something important or necessary. But by starting on the things we’ve been putting out off we are beginning our escape from the avoidance trap. And it feels so much better…

Positive Reflection

untitled-design-2The end of the year is often a time for self-reflection.

We can all be super critical of ourselves and while analysis of what we didn’t do can move us forward it can also pull us down. So in pursuit of optimism and to see 2016 out with a bang instead of a fizzle, I’ve pulled together some ways to reflect on the year with a softer, kinder lens. Take a moment to reflect on what you did do, not what you didn’t…

  • I bet you loved unconditionally.
  • I bet you learned things you didn’t know last year.
  • I bet you have supported someone other than yourself.
  • I bet you maintained, rekindled or developed a friendship which brings you joy.
  • I bet you have got through a personal challenge.
  • I bet you indulged yourself and didn’t feel guilty about it.
  • I bet you accomplished different things than you intended. 
  • I bet you got knocked down but you got up.
  • I bet you had a really good laugh.
  • I bet you did many acts of random kindness.
  • I bet you were braver than you thought you could be.

Imagine reflecting on your year as a friend would and I bet you’ve done a pretty awesome job…

Power of Poetry

Chooseimages - Copy

The single clenched fist lifted and ready,

Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.

Choose:

For we meet by one or the other. 

By Carl Sandburg

I love this poem. In fact I love the collection it comes from; Staying Alive-real poems for unreal times. Sometimes when things are getting a bit too much it’s amazing how the words and wisdom of a distant other can strike a chord and encapsulate a situation when we can’t.

For me this poem is about communication. Are you approaching potential conflict defensively and ready to bite, or calmly, ready to resolve. It jumped out at me because it is exactly what I needed to think about today.

All too often we keep pushing through, doing it tough, and not actually stopping to reflect on the emotional flash-points in our day. This attitude certainly gets things done but the lack of vulnerability can leave us isolated and maybe a bit misunderstood? When I’m feeling like that my first response is usually to call a friend or relative, discuss or diffuse things by sharing with another. But recently I’ve been trying to be a bit more retrospective.

Reading and listening to a source outside your immediate circle can be very powerful. Poems aren’t for everyone but what about quotes, mantras, podcasts, books. All these things allow us to think about what we are dealing with without having to talk about it. We are giving ourselves a bit of take up time. Time to reflect before we respond or react.

And sometimes when we’re open to reconciling our world the right words seem to find us…

 

 

Are you paying attention? Trying to develop that mindfulness habit…

 

Trying to start, let alone maintain, any new habit isn’t easy. Good habits are tough to develop and bad ones are even harder to break. So with that said I’ve recently begun a Mindfulness and Meditation course to quieten my mind and help me better manage my anxiety.

So what actually is mindfulness? Like many non-concrete things there are many definitions. And just like the practice you may stumble on the one which suits you best. According to Psychology Today, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

People who successfully practice mindfulness my have started with courses, developed it from another spiritual practice, read and watched clips about it. But however they came across it they maintain the habit. Daily commitment is important and that is a lot harder than I thought. It sounds ridiculous but it’s been tough to find even ten minutes a day to sit and be still. And it’s been even harder to ask to be left alone for that time. While mindfulness techniques can be applied all through the day the focused meditation seems best done at a regular time. I tried in the mornings but my head was too full of my to do list. I tried at night but just fell asleep! So I’ve settled on late afternoon and now I really look forward to shutting myself away, being silent or using a guided meditation. And I honestly feel so much better for it.

I have a beautiful little book which I keep by my bed. I was given it when I was lucky enough to hear the Dalai Lama speak. It’s rich in wisdom about life, happiness and the benefits of a mindful spiritual practice. “The greater the level of calmness of our mind, the greater our peace of mind, the greater our ability to enjoy a happy and joyful life.” The Dalai Lama’s words are something to aspire to and the beauty of the practice seems to be there is no external judgement. No one is involved but you. There is no right or wrong, now or never, in how you develop your own personal habit. Just the fact you begin to practice is a start.

I’ve attached a few links in case you fancy more information…

http://mindfulnessworksaustralia.com.au/     http://mindfulnesscentre.com/

Technology Time Out

casual-tuesdays

Last week there was a black out in the city where I live. Plunged into darkness as the lights went out across the whole state, families and individuals had to change plans. We had to come up with inventive ways to tackle the problems of no power and ways to entertain ourselves without technology.

Once the terror of having no internet had passed, the world didn’t stop and people didn’t sit round like pumpkins waiting to be picked, on the contrary we found other things to do. Over the next few days there were stories of how families had played games together, how neighbours had rallied around the one house with a gas cooker and shared meals, how people helped strangers and the needy. It did get me thinking about why it takes an event like a power outage to make us do what we really like to do anyway; family, community, sharing.

Perhaps it’s more a question of balance. Technology makes our life easier in so many ways. Once you’ve had access to it you realise know how hard it would be to be without it. I’d wrestle any pickpocket who tried to take my smart phone. But the trick is we can, and maybe we should, put technology aside a little more often. In the blackout a lot of people went back to small pleasures, reading a book by candlelight, playing an instrument, board games with children. The fix it folk rigged up ways to heat and light homes and a lot of people went to bed earlier.

The power came back on, modern life resumed, but it showed how resourceful we can be and the entertainment we can find when we go off the grid for a little while.