Category Archives: connectedness

What happens next?

Hello, my name is Kath, and I am an acceptance junkie. Or at least I have been – big time – and I’m only just learning to brush this aspect of my existence off and get to the good stuff that life has to offer (joy, creativity, connectivity…). It’s been a long journey, with many twists and turns along the way, and I’ve walked so far now that I realise my surroundings are completely unfamiliar. In fact, the map I’ve been using doesn’t work anymore, because I’ve walked off grid and have yet to find a new one. Yikes! This is scary stuff. Everything I’ve known about myself and the world is changing, and although that’s a good thing, it absolutely isn’t easy.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew what I was working towards: becoming a version of myself that others would find acceptable.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew how to feel about myself: either terrible or absolutely wonderful, depending on what state my ego was in that day, and how many people I’d managed to please with my various efforts at becoming the perfect human being.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew what made me feel good and what made me feel bad…

You get the picture. I’m completely re-framing my life, and whereas I’ve managed to move away (mostly) from the unhealthy behaviours and ways of thinking about the world, I haven’t yet replaced them with anything else that makes me feel, well, like me I guess! It wasn’t healthy to look to others for a sense of self, but the fact is that I did, and now I feel like an empty vase (to quote a poem written by Monica’s sleazy boyfriend on Friends). I feel like I’ve entered a void and the only way out is to run back to the safety of my old ways, or to fill in the blanks with something new.

Currently, my life isn’t an expression of who I am. Or at least, I don’t feel that I am expressing the things that I want to express. In short, I need to get my ‘Kath’ on and start doing the things that I want to do, and feel that sense of purpose and joy come back to me. Because if I’m honest, at the moment everything feels a little pointless – as though I’m waiting for someone to come up to me and say: “It’s OK, Kath. You’re doing absolutely the right thing. Yes, that’s it – go out into the world and be an individual. That’s next on the list of things you should do”. But what if I’ve done away with all the ‘shoulds’ and I’m trying to live life on my own terms for a change, without waiting to hear what others think I should do?

Man this is freaking me out! I’m talking myself into feeling more terrified than I was before I started writing. Also, can I just take a moment to apologise for basically using this blog as a sounding board for my own problems, instead of imparting incredible wisdom and offering solutions to your problems? I’ll get back to the wise thing once I’ve got my groove back, I promise.

I’m seeing a therapist/life coach at the moment, and she has likened this current phase in life to weeding a garden: I’ve now got to re-plant it with beautiful flowers that I actually want to be there, instead of letting anything grow there and just letting life steamroll over me. So what flowers am I going to plant? What waves am I going to make? What is it that the real me, who is only just emerging after years and years of sleepwalking through life, has to say to the world? And what form will this take?

Well, writing is definitely up there on the list. I’m surprising feisty and opinionated on the inside for someone who’s made a career of worrying what others think. And I definitely feel like I’m holding myself back at the moment – waiting for the green light from the universe, instead of just trusting in myself and my inner guidance.

Yesterday, on my way home from an alpaca farm with my husband, we encountered a cyclist on a twisting and fairly fast country road NOT WEARING A HELMET! No sooner had we both commented on this, than I found myself shouting out of the open window: “Buy a helmet!”. My husband seemed amused and vaguely proud, but essentially discouraged me from shouting at strangers as we drive through the local countryside. To be honest, he has a point. It’s not exactly safe to shout things at unsuspecting cyclists who are trying to keep their eyes on the road, even if I did have his best interests at heart.

The incident with the cyclist was very out of character for me, but it felt good; a relief to be honest. There are lots of things I feel like shouting about at the moment, but I’ve done some research and it turns out people don’t appreciate it very much! Point is, it told me that I’m withholding something and not allowing myself to fully express myself, because self-expression and emotional freedom is all pretty new to me.

So, here I am. Much further along the journey towards self-acceptance than I’ve ever been, and instead of telling you how wonderful it is, I’m telling you all about how terrifying it is. Sorry about that.

But I wouldn’t for a second discourage any of you from following me down this path. I’ve experienced moments of absolute joy and love in my life over the last few years, and I owe that to trusting this journey that I’m on. So I’m going to keep trusting, as best I can, and probably with the occasional rant on this blog. And instead of waiting for someone to hand me a new map, I’m going to draw my own; it will be called the ‘Kingdom of Kath’, and it will be an honest expression of who I am.

So to all of you who are on a similar journey: keep going, know that you’re not alone, and when the time is right, start creating your own unique vision of the world.

Love,

Kath

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When the going gets rough…

It’s hard, when we’re on a journey towards feeling better about ourselves, to accept the rough times that come our way. I mean, the whole point is that we feel better, not worse, right? Our friends and family would like to see us looking more happy and healthy, not down in the dumps or angry enough to smash a few plates. I mean, don’t know about you, but as someone who worries what others think, I tend to always wonder if what I’m feeling is acceptable to others; like I need their permission and acceptance in order to deviate from the standard human emotion of being ‘fine’ or ‘OK’.

So here’s the thing, and here’s what I really need to remind myself of right now:

  1. Other people’s lives belong to them, and mine belongs to me. Living it for other people means never truly owning my own existence. It’s OK for others to feel sad because I’m going through a hard time. That’s part of their journey, not mine.
  2. The bad times don’t actually have to be perceived as ‘bad’. They are simply part of the ebb and flow of life. We can’t have light without dark, or joy without sadness.
  3. Difficult times don’t just appear for no reason – they are an opportunity for us to learn something more about ourselves and/or the world and to realise how we might be preventing ourselves from living our best possible lives. I mean, when I think about all that I have gained from the hard times, I absolutely wouldn’t want to be without them. Plunging into the depths of sadness and loneliness has taught me what it means for me to be at peace with myself, and that no matter what, I am absolutely never alone.
  4. Often, when the going gets tough, it’s because we’re doing amazing things that are testing our limits and stretching us to the point that it feels temporarily uncomfortable: a bit like doing yoga for the first time! All of which is a hell of a lot better than standing still and not growing in any way. The worse things feel, the bigger the opportunity to feel good. I read this somewhere a while ago, and it really is true; our greatest heartaches hold the key to our greatest joy, if only we’re brave enough to explore what really makes us tick – possibly with the support of a friend, therapist or a good self-help book or three!

So you know what I’m going to try and do? I’m going to try to embrace the contrast, and appreciate it for what it is. I won’t judge it as good or bad, or tell myself that I must be getting something horribly wrong. It’s simply part of my journey.

Thanks go to me for writing this and reminding myself of some important truths. Yes, that’s right – I just thanked myself for writing this blog post, because it’s helped me to feel less sorry for myself and a little more empowered. I hope it’s done the same for you, whoever you are.

And remember: you are 100% not alone. We’re all here reading this aren’t we?!

Love and peace x

Opening the door to connectivity

I have spent the vast majority of my life fearing people, and seeing any interaction as an opportunity for me to fail or reveal myself for the good-for-nothing I really am. (I’m sure some of you reading this can identify with that deep-seated fear that sits inside your belly and tells you that you’re a bad person, and that if people only knew the real you they wouldn’t want to be your friend anymore).

I feared judgement, whilst unknowingly being judgemental myself; because finding fault in others was the only way I could feel good about myself. I say ‘unknowingly’ because I genuinely didn’t realise this trait in myself until recent years.

So this idea of connecting with and enjoying the company and companionship of my fellow human beings is a fairly recent discovery for me. And forgive me – I seem to remember that I wrote on this topic not that long ago. But it’s something I continue to ponder, especially as I start to feel more connected with the world around me (my joy is all the greater for having lived in the dark for so many years). We all have days when we feel closed off and don’t especially want to talk to anyone, but on the whole I feel less like I have something to prove and more like a valid piece in the enormous jigsaw puzzle that is our universe.

Connection isn’t something we can learn, but rather something we must learn to feel. Connection exists and is there for us to tap into in almost every moment. Like it or not, we are all connected as part of the shared human experience, and we are all worthy in our own right. I know from personal experience how hard it can be to believe this last point. And if you’re in a place in your life where you doubt your worthiness, then that is absolutely fine. It’s where you’re at right now, and it means that the joy of discovering your place in the world lies ahead, waiting patiently for the time that you feel ready to embrace all that you are.

So, from one piece of a giant jigsaw to another, thanks for being here to read this blog post and I’ll speak to you again soon.

Bye for now x

Living in shades of grey

So, I made an eBay purchase the other week. I was so excited. It was exactly what I’d been looking for at a price that I could afford. I was devastated when I missed the postman/woman and had to wait until the next working day to collect the parcel from my local delivery office. Imagine, then, my disappointment when I finally collect my new pair of Birkenstock sandals, only to find that they weren’t ‘as new’, as the description had suggested. The leather straps were worn in ways that just didn’t show up in the pictures, and the sandals had clearly been worn for a fairly muddy outing – a music festival maybe? In which case, perhaps by ‘worn only once’ the seller actually meant ‘worn for only one 4 day long music festival where I camped in a field and endured some pretty harsh conditions’. Anyway, I emailed the seller straight away to let her know how disappointed I was, but was very polite and offered for her to send me a partial refund (an amount we could agree between us), but that if she didn’t want to do that I would be returning the shoes under eBay’s money back guarantee for items that aren’t as described or different to the photos provided.

Where am I going with this, I here you ask? Well, the seller was quite annoyed with my message, and said that they absolutely were worn only once etc. You get the picture. We didn’t agree on the situation, and despite me being as nice as I could manage (whilst still getting my point across) the seller was rude and called me a ‘time waster’. She said she would dispute my return request, to which I said ‘that’s fine, I’ll request the return, you decline it and at that point I can get eBay involved to resolve the dispute for us’. I was happy with that. I didn’t mind eBay having to step in. I was confident from the photos I’d uploaded that eBay would agree the shoes were clearly not ‘as new’, but even if they didn’t, it’s not the end of the world. At least I’m not completely broke and that was my last £20 to my name. At least I’d end up with a pair of shoes that I could wear, even if they weren’t as nice as I was expecting etc. etc. I was basically being one of those annoying sunny side up people who sees only the blessings (gross, right?!).

‘Oh just send them back, I can’t be doing with time wasters’, was the response to my last message. I was soooooo tempted to reply and say something like ‘thank you for your excellent customer service skills, I will make sure to recommend your eBay shop to my friends’ or ‘maybe you should get some new glasses before re-listing the shoes on eBay’. But I didn’t. I took my husband’s advice and just left it alone. I said I didn’t want to leave her a rubbish review, and I have stuck to that because I don’t agree with posting angry reviews in the heat of the moment. I took the moral high ground, basically, which gave me no immediate sense of satisfaction, but in the long run has left me feeling quite pleased with myself.

‘We still don’t know why you’re telling us about the shoes you bought on eBay’, I hear you cry! Well, I guess the whole thing just got me thinking. It seems fairly clear-cut at first, that I’m the good guy and she’s the nasty piece of work eBay seller with a bad attitude and zero people skills. But I’m becoming increasingly aware of my tendency to think about myself and the world in black and white, rather than in shades of grey. In black and white thinking, one person is clearly ‘wrong’ and the other ‘right’, but in shades of grey, we are two human beings coming at the same situation from different angles and with different life experiences. Maybe I could have viewed the photos on a bigger screen and scrutinised them more closely, rather than trusting the description she had provided. Maybe she has had a miserable year and is feeling angry with the world in general. And there definitely isn’t anything wrong with feeling angry – although perhaps taking it out on your eBay customers isn’t the best outlet.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? I am not 100% a nice person or 100% right, but neither is she 100% nasty or 100% wrong. The truth always lies somewhere in between, and it always feels like such a breath of fresh air to acknowledge this and not force people or situations into boxes labelled ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

So yes, grey may be a bit of a dismal and depressing colour, but actually there is a lot of joy to be found in it. It’s the road to less stress and tension, and greater acceptance of life and the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis. It means that we can see each other as fellow humans, rather than friend or enemy. We don’t need to make these distinctions, even if there are people we’d rather not buy from on eBay ever again. From their own point of view, everyone is right, and we can never know what it’s like to be another person until we’ve walked in their shoes. So give yourself a break, and give them a break whilst you’re at it.

I hope you’re all doing well out there in the world, whoever you are. But remember, if things aren’t so good right now, that’s OK too. There are no prizes for the human being with the least amount of baggage or issues to sift through. We’re all doing just fine 🙂

Peace out x

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