Monthly Archives: February 2017

Companionship, connection and togetherness. Are they the meaning of life?

I grew up believing that I had to do certain things and be the version of me everyone else wanted to see. Sound familiar? One of the side-effects of this was that, although I had friends and socialised regularly, it was always a bit of an inconvenience to me. I was always partly waiting to go back home where I could completely relax, because I didn’t have anyone else’s needs or opinions to take into account. I’ve never been great at maintaining eye contact with people – even those I’m really close to. I guess every encounter with someone or any social situation had the potential for me to get something ‘wrong’ or to be judged negatively in some way.

Well, let me tell you something about where I’m at right now! I’m in the process of discovering the joy of connecting with people – of sharing my existence and physical space with like-minded (or completely different!) individuals who make me laugh, inspire me or make me feel welcome and comfortable. There will always be people who make us feel, well, completely the opposite of this! We’ve all met a few of those people. And perhaps there are some friends or family members who sometimes make us feel on edge. That’s fine. Life isn’t about becoming a perfect human being, totally free of worry or judgement of others. But it is about connecting and companionship; fostering a sense of togetherness by engaging in tasks together and helping one another out. Today my neighbour and I worked together to cut back some ivy which has slowly but surely been taking over the wall between our two gardens. It was fun! And there was a real sense of achievement afterwards.

I’ve felt quite lonely recently. I think any time in our lives when we are going through some emotional trauma can feel lonely and isolating, but it’s exactly at this point that we need to remind ourselves how very not alone we are. At the risk of sounding like a complete hippy (peace, man) we are all connected by our very existence as living things on this planet of ours. There is always someone out there who loves and cares about us. Even the ones who judge us and make us feel inadequate secretly love us – they’re just too wrapped up in their own ‘stuff’ to express it as often as we sometimes need to hear it.

So this discovery of mine has led me to actually want to spend time with people. Imagine that?! I actively seek out conversations and opportunities to meet up. I see the opportunity to get together as just that – an opportunity, rather than an inconvenience. I recognise that these people I’m lucky enough to share my life with don’t like me because I’m perfect. I mean let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, we never do quite meet that gold standard, because it just doesn’t exist. No, they like me because I’m me. They see something in me that they like, as I do with them. If only we could see the magical spark that others see in us. Talk about medicine for the soul.

I’m admittedly very late in the game when it comes to valuing and enjoying my social connections, but to be honest I think my appreciation of it is all the better for having come from where I have. Never waste a moment on regrets, and always look for the blessings…

I am human. You are human. We’re all here to celebrate our shared humanity, and to explore each other’s opinions and ideas. Competition comes from a place of feeling unworthy and ashamed, and if saying goodbye to these negative emotions means more time spent in the company of my friends and family, then I’m certainly willing to let them go.

And remember, you were born worthy, and you will die worthy. Find small ways to start believing this and just see what magic unfolds.

Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE being by myself, and sometimes I can’t think of anything worse than going out to a pub and having to actually talk to someone! This will never change. Enjoying feeling your connection to others doesn’t mean that you can’t also value some alone time.

Bye for now x

A definition of spirituality, and how you might be more spiritual than you realise…

Spirituality is a word that I have always found a little uncomfortable. I do not come from a religious family, and whilst I respect all religions and try not to judge others for having a different belief system to me, I have always associated being spiritual with being religious, and that, I find, just isn’t quite the right for for me.

There’s also the whole ridicule thing. People who live a hippy-ish sort of existence and believe in crystal healing and the power of love to heal all wounds, tend to be seen as being a bit wacky and ‘out there’. You know what I mean? We’ve all heard jokes poked at people who talk about releasing their inner child and going on a journey of self-discovery.

So what is spirituality? I’m someone who has seen and experienced a few things which just can’t be explained through science. I have seen and heard ghosts, I’ve had random moments of complete intuition – like a sixth sense. My sister and I once played a game when we were teenagers. We were especially close at the time, and so had a strong bond. She would look at a playing card and I would tell her what number she was looking at. I once got about 10 correct in a row, and we got so freaked out we stopped playing! I’ve had clear signs from the Universe (or God, or whatever you wish to call that feeling that there is something bigger than us, surrounding us at all times and helping us along the way) as to what steps I should take next in my life. I’ve had strange things happen that others have called coincidence, but which I know is something else. My mum always used to say to me growing up that things have a funny sort of way of sorting themselves out, and I have certainly had moments in my life where exactly the right person, job or situation has come along exactly when I needed it.

We all have, at different times, a sense that there is something more to this life. Some of us believe in fate, or that ‘if it’s meant to be, it will be’. We have all (I hope!) experienced love, which is that most magical thing we can’t measure or test with scientific instruments, but which we nonetheless know exists.

So I think, in our own ways, we are all a bit spiritual. This doesn’t mean that we can’t then believe in science, or that just because you believe in ghosts you also have to believe in crystal healing etc. There is no fixed definition. We are our own definitions of spirituality, each and every one of us. So the next time you hear a beautiful piece of music and you are transported to another place, you can think ‘ah hah, I think I just had a spiritual moment!’

I hope this post chimes with some of you. It’s something that has been playing around in my mind for a while. I’m determined not to be embarrassed or feel I need to make excuses for any aspects of myself, including my spiritual beliefs. I want to be able to own every aspect of myself, and show myself the same respect I try to show others.

Bye for now x

Why everyone should watch Kung Fu Panda. No really, it has some great messages…

I don’t know if this is true, but my husband tells me that the Kung Fu Panda films are quite highly regarded in China because they manage to explain in quite simple terms the message behind a lot of ancient Chinese wisdom. Regardless of this, they are amazing films and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone and everyone to watch them at least once.

Some of the messages I picked up by watching the 2nd film yesterday are this:

  1. Inner peace is a journey that we can all make, and it is down to us to make this happen. Some find it through dedicated meditation practice, and others through pain and suffering.
  2. If you are holding on to traumas from your past, the best thing you can do is to let them flow. Feel the emotions you’ve been avoiding, and trust yourself to let them flow through you until you begin to feel peaceful again. Obviously this may need to be done with the help of friends, family and/or a therapist. Whatever works for you – just don’t keep things bottled up. We all deserve better than that.
  3. It’s not what has happened to us in the past that matters; it’s who we choose to become and the life we decide to lead.

I’m not a religious person, but I am becoming increasingly spiritual. Maybe this qualifies as religion, I don’t know. But I definitely believe that our lives have meaning, and that the trick to a happy life is to accept and believe in ourselves. This includes all the rubbish, and all the good bits. I am who I am in part because of everything I’ve experienced, not in spite of it. It has served to point me in the direction of joy and happiness, and in those moments where I am able to sigh deeply and accept absolutely everything about myself and my past, I feel truly content.

So let it flow! Accept who you are and where you have come from. Face up to your emotions and know that (in the wise words of the Kung Fu Panda): That’s the thing about scars, they fade (I’m paraphrasing!).

You are all perfect versions of yourself, so start believing and see what magic begins to unfold…

Bye for now x

Letting go is hard, really hard…

It’s strange but true that our old habits – no matter how unhelpful they have been and how miserable they have made us – are nonetheless familiar, and they feel safe. Worrying what others think of us, struggling against life and always trying to prove ourselves worthy… These things are so ingrained in our psyches that when an opportunity comes along to leave it all behind, part of us wants to run back to the safety of what we know. Does this sound familiar to any of you? I’m only just realising now that the prospect of releasing myself from the past is as scary as it is wonderful!

So I guess there are lots of things we can all do to help us move past our fear and make the leap of faith we know deep inside we need to make. But for me the first thing I need to do is to just acknowledge that it is scary, and that’s OK. I don’t fully understand what I’m going through, and that’s OK. I don’t know exactly what my life will look like in the future, and that’s OK. Just typing those words makes me feel so much better, because it enables me to accept my life just as it is right now, including everything I’ve been through in the past. It’s a way of letting go of control, and trusting that things will unfold in their own way and in their own time. No amount of worrying is going to change anything, except how stressed out I feel!

Another thing I read recently is about re-labelling fear as excitement. And it really works! It helps to make the situation seem less serious and more light-hearted. It makes me feel less on the ‘back foot’, and more like I am putting my best foot forward.

This is quite a short post, I realise, but I wanted to say these words because I feel there isn’t enough in this world to encourage us to keep going and to make the decisions we know are right for us. There are so many pressures, deadlines, choices etc. that ‘we’ can get lost in the mayhem. So here I am telling you to look after yourselves, to listen to yourself and to not be afraid to do what feels a) scary and b) selfish.

Here’s hoping this resonates with one or two people, and if not, at least I’ve said what I needed to say!

Peace out x

The day I realised I don’t have to deserve or earn love…

All my life I have tried desperately to earn acceptance and love from people around me. I have felt, at my very core, desperately worried about myself and whether I’m good enough. I’ve felt the need to put on a different mask according to who I’m spending time with. Like a chameleon, I’ve adapted to my environment, but at a huge cost: me!

The more I face up to my fears, and the more I just put myself ‘out there’ to be seen for who I really am, the more I realise that I never needed to earn the love or respect of anyone. Instead of running away, those people in my life who really matter to me have embraced this phase of my life, encouraging me to take my time, offering support and letting me know that they are there whenever I need them. I just had a text conversation with a friend which made me cry big fat tears of happiness, sadness and just about every emotion in between! But then I heard myself thinking:

What have I done to deserve this?

And the answer? I didn’t need to do anything, because love isn’t deserved or earned, and I have been worthy of love, friendship and companionship since the day I was born. I don’t have my own children yet, but I know that as/when I do have a baby, I won’t look at it and think: I’ll love you once you’re old enough to do something deserving and worthwhile. I’ll just love it because it is.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to slowly begin peeling away the mask, and to discover that I am loved so very much for who I am. And I am fortunate enough to have enough good people around me to know that anyone who doesn’t like what they see can look elsewhere. I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’d be doing a pretty rubbish job of being authentic if everyone liked me! No one is universally liked and loved. Even Tom Hanks won’t be liked by everyone who meets him, although I find that hard to believe!

Being loveable doesn’t mean being perfect. It just means being you. We are all loveable, and we are all loved by someone.

The sad thing about Western culture is that it promotes a sense of ‘better than’ in relation to our fellow human beings. Instead of working together and celebrating who we are, we feel inclined to compete with others for our sense of self-esteem and worthiness. Conversations with certain people leave us feeling exhausted because they seem to be doing so much better than we are, and our egos just can’t handle it! Well I for one am sick of leading a life where my ego has such a big influence over how I feel about myself. There is such a thing as a healthy ego, and that involves doing what you love to do, with people you love to spend time with, and approaching life from a place of self-love and a sense of worthiness.

For someone who has been doing just the opposite of this for most of her life, I’m finding that old habits die hard, and I’m really having to trust myself to let go of my old hang-ups and let the magic unfold. But it’s all worthwhile in those moments where I feel totally at ease with myself and the world. Giving up the fight means realising there was never a fight in the first place.

Thanks for listening.

Bye for now x

A note on friendship

How is it that I’m in my early to mid thirties and I’m only just starting to experience true friendship for the first time? OK, to all my long-standing friends I apologise. I love you all and I’m not saying that our friendship doesn’t mean anything. It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend before with whom I feel 100% comfortable in my own skin. There’s always something:

  • They’re a bit cooler or better dressed than me (or at least I feel self-conscious around them)
  • They are much more fun-loving and outgoing (unlike me who likes to stay in and watch a film over a mug of hot chocolate)
  • I used to fancy them growing up and although I don’t anymore I can’t completely relax around them! Lol.
  • They are a friend I met through my sister, and whereas my sister and I have some excellent friends, I perhaps wouldn’t have become friends with said individuals if not for convenience. Ouch, that sounds awful. Again, I love the people I’m talking about here. I just mean that the friendship didn’t develop because we were naturally drawn to each other’s personalities and absolutely loved spending time together.

I guess I’ve just never really had that kind of friendship which is a bit on the wild and uninhibited side, where any topic goes and it doesn’t matter if you need to tell them you couldn’t answer the phone because you were on the loo. You know what I mean?

Anyway, I now have a friend like that. A wild friendship between two kindred spirits who can happily talk about topics ranging from sex to poo and anything in between. We have similar – though not identical – beliefs. We look and dress differently, and have led completely different lives. But we are pretty much ideally suited as friends go.

I’m not sad that it’s taken me this long. I think I appreciate it far more for having waited this long. I’ve always felt like I’m the ‘odd’ one in my friendships, but not with this individual. I feel completely normal – whatever the hell ‘normal’ means!

Well I just wanted to share this development in my life with you guys, because I think it’s important to remember that true friendship means not feeling self-conscious or uneasy. It means comfortable silences and being able to look each other directly in the eye. I value all of my friendships very much, but it’s nice to have found someone who feels like a lovely great big cuddle to be around.

That’s all for now x