Category Archives: choice

Do the things that make your heart sing, and your soul soar

I went swimming a lot as a child and young adult. From life-saving lessons, to speed swimming and diving – my sister and I did it all. We also spent hour upon hour mucking about, doing handstands in the pool and guessing what each other was singing whilst under water. Swimming was my exercise of choice, and pretty much the only one I enjoyed, since I’m quite a lazy person by nature. But the magic of being in the water was enough to counteract the call of sitting down with a book or watching the telly.

We’re not all alike, which is one of the wonderful things about being a human being! We all share so much more in common than the mass media lead us to believe, but in the end not one of us is 100% the same. I have a friend who hates being in the water, to the extent that she has the quickest bath she possibly can just to get it over and done with. Swimming in an open air swimming pool in a beautiful little village in the Derbyshire countryside (as I did today) would not have been her idea of a good time, but to me it was revitalising, refreshing, invigorating, and kind of a relief (since I haven’t been swimming for a few years now). It fulfilled a part of me that I had allowed to go unattended for such a long time.

Worrying what other people think of us depletes our energy and our sense of who we are. We question ourselves and try to bend and twist to please others. It’s the opposite of having someone with you to support and encourage you in all your endeavours – it’s like having a devil sat on our shoulders, whispering to us that we’re not good enough and that people will only love us if…

Doing the things that make our hearts sing and our souls soar replenishes our energies and our sense of who we are. It makes us feel stronger and more balanced, and we care less what others think of us without even having to try. Every activity we choose to do has the potential to either feed our sense of who we are, or to deplete it. Every thought and every choice is based on either love (I am enough) or fear (I am not enough). In a world where far too many of us are stuck in fear-mode, why not start to choose love instead?

What are the things that you love to do? What desires have you let go unattended for far too long? What advice would you give to your best friend? Start giving that advice to yourself, and watch the magic 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

Know yourself

The only person who can ever truly know what is right for you is YOU. You, after all, are the person living your life. You have a full record of important memories and life events, and you know what does and doesn’t make you happy.*

*And if you don’t know what makes you tick, you deserve to take some time to figure it out. It’s something I’ve had to re-learn, and which still catches me out from time to time.

Anyway, as I was saying… Other people can make pretty good guesses at what you should/shouldn’t do, but they can’t ever know your soul, your inner-most desires, your darkest fears, or what you had for breakfast last Wednesday. What they have is part of a giant puzzle. They have some, but not all of the pieces.

So remind yourself of this next time someone is giving you some advice. It doesn’t mean that the advice should be ignored. After all, it might be very good advice! It just means that in order to filter out the advice that is no good (for you personally, not in general) you need to first KNOW YOURSELF and trust yourself to do this.

It can be so hard sometimes, when all the evidence suggests that you should be doing a certain thing…

“But everyone else I know is doing X, so surely this is what I should be doing?”

“But it might upset X, and surely it would be selfish of me to put my happiness before theirs?”

These are some of the things you and I probably find ourselves thinking when faced with a dilemma. But there is no dilemma! There is only one answer: do what you feel is right for you. It doesn’t have to be the perfect solution, and it doesn’t all have to work out as you want it to for you to feel justified in being authentic. It just has to feel right.

And if you’re really struggling with the idea of being selfish (a word which seriously needs re-defining), just remember that everyone benefits from you living life as the happiest possible version of yourself. You will emanate something really positive for others to draw upon, and provide a good role model to others struggling with the idea of what their lives should look like.

Ooooh, that feels better. I just needed a bit of a rant on this topic, so thanks for lending an ear!

Bye for now x x x

Keep on keepin’ on

I have so many ideas for what to write on this blog, and most of the time I neglect to write them down and they are lost until the next time they occur to me – possibly never?!

But the one thing that I keep coming back to is the idea of keeping on going. Reaching a stage in your life where you no longer mind what others think of you – or where you at least care a lot less than you used to – is all about realising that you have the power inside of you to make this happen and dedicating time to personal development: reading books, discovering people who inspire and motivate you via social media, writing down your thoughts and emotions and examining them for clues as to why you fear ‘getting it wrong’ and how you might overcome that fear etc. … The list goes on.

The point is that an increased sense of wellbeing and happiness is something that we can choose for ourselves, but as with dieting and other ‘New Year’s’ type resolutions, it is all too easy to give up. Most dieters will be more successful if they join a group and meet with like-minded people. We’re only human, and we need to feel motivated to be at our most successful. The same goes for any kind of group or human contact – anything that gives us a sense of structure or connectedness is likely to help us keep on keepin’ on.

So how can we go about motivating ourselves to work on our mental wellbeing? There are some obvious answers here, like counselling sessions and groups. But these inevitably run their natural course and we are left to fend for ourselves once again. I realise that this sounds a bit bleak and depressing! There certainly isn’t anything wrong with a course of counselling or a self-help group coming to an end, and it is only natural to feel a sense of loss for a while afterwards. But once we’ve expressed our sadness, we need to formulate a plan to keep all of our good work going. We need to identify our personal needs and goals and find a way to ensure that we keep moving in the ‘right’ direction.

Do you need to get a friend involved to help you stay motivated? Do you need to go and buy that book you’ve heard recommended so many times but never actually got around to buying? Perhaps you need to cover your house in post-its with little reminders, or place decorative hearts in each room of the house as a reminder to love yourself and others. There are all sorts of online courses, forums, websites etc. that are devoted to helping individuals to work through their fears and live a more fulfilling life. Go explore and find the one that works for you (but be careful not to get drawn into other people’s problems and focus instead on resources that provide constructive advice).

Some other ideas:

  • Find music that inspires and motivates you and make a point to listen to it on a regular basis.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your energy levels up and keep you feeling positive and motivated
  • Doodle and draw: it doesn’t matter if you aren’t all that artistic, you will still find that the act of putting pen (or pencil) to paper will release tension and help you to identify your emotions (both helpful and unhelpful). It also helps to focus the brain and keep you grounded, much like all those colouring-in books that are so popular at the moment.
  • Celebrate any victory, no matter how small it may seem, and write about the differences you are seeing in your life.

In in ideal world, we would all have our own pocket-sized cheerleader to cheer us on throughout the day and remind us to keep going. In reality, we must harness the little cheerleader that lies inside all of us! The little guy or girl that is incredibly proud of you and can see nothing but potential and possibilities. We all have one, it just needs waking up from time to time. The more you practice listening to that positive spark of light inside of you, the more natural and effortless it will become. I promise.

Wishing you all a happy New Year, but no pressure. If you’re unhappy right now then that’s OK too. So long as you’re taking time to figure out what it all means and working towards feeling happy and free.

Bye for now you utterly wonderful bunch of human beings x

Everything changes

They say that the best friendships are the ones where you don’t find yourself fretting about the other person – whether you’ve seen them that week or what they think of your recent decision to change career. You know you love them, and they in turn love you, so what’s to worry about?

Well, the thing is that things change. People change. Life moves on and sometimes the friendships we formed when we were younger and which seemed so unbreakable get tested as we grow into adults and begin to go our separate ways. It’s only natural that this should happen, and it certainly isn’t a bad thing. And yet, we so often find ourselves trying to resist this change. To turn back the clocks and make everything OK by continuing to meet for a glass of wine every Friday night, even though it isn’t all that convenient anymore and our priorities have moved on. It isn’t that we don’t care. It isn’t that we don’t love the other person, or that we wouldn’t be there for them if they needed a shoulder to cry on. It’s just that we’ve changed and repeating the same old patterns of behaviour is starting to stifle us. In short, we’re ready to move on.

So, the key question is this: how do you move on from a friendship without feeling like a really bad person? I mean, what if the feeling isn’t reciprocated and the friend is heartbroken? What if they say things about you to your mutual friends out of anger? Even if you choose not to tell them directly, and opt for a more subtle approach of occasionally making other plans and phasing out your Friday night drinks dates, the friend may still react badly.

The truth is that friendships can be as complicated as romantic relationships. We can find ourselves feeling just as hurt, let down and confused.

I have witnessed friendships fall apart because one side has moved on and the other person can’t find a way to accept or forgive. I have also witnessed the effects of clinging on to friendships for the sake of politeness and not rocking the cradle, even though it’s obvious that things need to change.

Are you with me? I hope you’re following and that some of this chimes with your own life experiences. If not, I promise to make more sense next time!

Whatever your reason is for wishing to move on, you have every right to do so. This is your life, and you have every right to live it exactly how you want to. Would your friends advise you to stay in an unhealthy romantic relationship? No, they wouldn’t. So why should it be any different when it comes to friendships? There is just something so inherently unacceptable about ‘splitting up’ with a friend that we end up feeling like pond scum for having even considered it. We may even try to find a way out by waiting for them to do something really bad so that we can say: “Oh well, it was their fault for behaving badly. I had no choice in the matter”.

Splitting up with or phasing out a friend may cause you to feel that someone has indeed got a problem with you. And to be honest they probably have! This is something we have to face up to and live with if we wish to live as adults and free spirits, and if we wish to grow emotionally and spiritually, rather than surrounding ourselves with what feels ‘safe’ and ‘normal’.

You are OK. I am OK. The friend you don’t enjoy the company of anymore is OK. But we can’t always please others with our life choices and decisions. Let’s dare to be true to ourselves, and worry less what others think. Whenever I have been brave enough to do this in my own life, inner joy and happiness always seem to follow.

Bye for now x

Surround yourself with inspiration

Have you ever felt utterly frustrated? Of course you have! You’re a human being after all. But have you ever looked around you and felt the frustration of knowing that not a single person in your life can truly and fully understand what you’re feeling? Maybe your mum understands your desire to do something creative, but can’t understand the risks you’re willing to take to live your life in a truly creative way. Perhaps your closest friends can see how much you’re hurting over something, but they don’t really understand the reasons why. Maybe your cat looks at you in an empathetic way as you sit crying into your branflakes, but you know you can’t actually have a proper conversation because of the whole language barrier thing. (Honestly, I think if my cat could talk I’d feel a lot better about a lot of stuff in my life, but probably also fed up of hearing her demand more food and fusses!).

The point is, that people can only ever understand aspects of ourselves. No one can ever jump into your skin, experience everything just as you have experienced it, and know exactly the right thing to say to make you feel understood and supported every step of the way. And if this was the case, there would be a lot less to learn in life, and a lot less personal growth to be experienced.

What we can do is ensure that we actively surround ourselves with what we know we need. Be it like-minded friends, inspirational books and films, the cat… We have a choice in life as to what we do and who we spend our time with. It doesn’t really feel like there is much choice involved in life a lot of the time, but trust me when I say that it’s in these moments that we most need to stand up and be counted. To make ourselves heard and ensure that we are making decisions which feel authentic and honest. If you’re not emotionally strong enough to ditch that toxic friendship you’ve been holding onto because you feel too guilty not to, do something which feels more within your grasp. Maybe suggest that you’d rather see a different film at the cinema, rather than just accepting what others choose for you. Give your opinion on a subject where you’d usually remain quiet. Paint your nails when you know the dishes need washing, and that painting your nails means you can’t do the dishes until the next day.

We have all had those days which seem to be going from bad to worse, but which suddenly take a positive turn when we bump into an old friend who inspires a rebellious or creative side of us which we have a tendency to forget about. Or perhaps you sit down to watch some television and end up watching an inspirational film which tells the story of someone who pushed past their fears and made something happen for themselves. I find films and books and online articles particularly inspiring because they take us outside of our usual day-to-day lives and remind us that there is so much more ‘out there’ to be explored and discovered. They provide us with that valuable perspective which can transform a day from mundane to joyous.

Inspiration is all around us, at every moment of the day, but if we’re so wound up with trying to please others and satisfy preconceived ideas about what our lives should look like, we won’t see the inspiration. We will only see messages which confirm what a let down we are, or how misunderstood we are by the people around us. Choose to live outside of the box, and seek inspiration and guidance throughout your day. Soon enough, you will be a source of inspiration and liberation to your close friends and family.

Bye for now x