Category Archives: love

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

Is it OK to feel bad?

I’m going to level with you – I feel pretty bad right now. Really emotional, and like I don’t know what I’m moving towards (or whether I’ll be able to complete the journey as I’d hoped I would be able to). I feel lonely, even though I am surrounded by people who love and cherish me.

I am a hugely fortunate person. I have good health, a loving family, a modest but beautiful roof over my head, a wonderful beyond all measure little black cat, whom myself and my husband love like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve had many wonderful life experiences and opportunities, and many more ahead of me. And believe it or not, this is one of them. This moment of feeling like total sh*t is a great big opportunity, staring me in the face and waiting for me to put all the pieces together and make something wonderful out of it.

How do I know this? Well, partly because I’ve read a few wishy-washy looking self-help books which reassure me that to feel bad is an opportunity to discover what actually makes me feel good. But mainly it’s because I’ve experienced it. I’ve experienced real joy in my life, of the variety that I suspect many people never get to experience. I’ve felt the joy of being who I am, and knowing that that’s OK. I’ve felt the exquisite relief of feeling like a valid part of the universe, rather than a small, insignificant dot trying to prove myself worthy at every possible opportunity. I’ve felt beautiful, not because I’m necessarily all that beautiful, but because I’ve recognised a beauty in myself that we’re all born with, regardless of what we look like or how others perceive us. I’ve felt purposeful and motivated and enthusiastic and loved. OK, so I haven’t felt like this for years on end, and I don’t feel like it right now, but I have felt it, and do you want to know how I got there? I reached a point in my life where I couldn’t ignore myself anymore. I could no longer put my own needs to one side in favour of my usual people-pleasing routine. I had to listen to my deepest longings, and to what my emotions were telling me. I’ve known people on countless occasions say that when you feel bad, there’s often no logical reason for it, and after a few years of personal experience, I have to say that this is not at all true. If we are feeling sad or anxious or angry or worthless or small, it is absolutely 100% a valid human experience and 100% worth listening to. By this I don’t mean that we should all wallow in our feelings and see how long we can drag them out for. But rather that we should accept the emotions for what they are, and use them as our subconscious minds wish for us to use them – to figure something out about ourselves, our relationships or our current life circumstances. And please don’t mistake all of this for a ‘lesson’ that life has conjured up so that we can do things better next time. Life isn’t about lessons, it’s about opportunities to become more and more of who we are. Or at least that’s how I’m coming to perceive the world.

When we judge others, and fear their judgement of us, there is an insight to be gained about how we view ourselves and the world around us. Two people living exactly the same lives will have completely different experiences because their ideas, perceptions and upbringings are different. Life isn’t what we make of it – it’s how we choose to see it (and ourselves).¬† The people who have caused me the most pain and upset in my life have been the ones that challenge how I perceive myself, and that is always the root of everything when it comes to worrying what others think. Usually these people mirror an aspect of myself, so when I rally against them, I am actually fighting against myself. Making peace with who we are, and coming to the reassuring realisation that there is absolutely nothing wrong with us, is the only way to deal with the fear we encounter when we believe someone sees something unworthy or unlikable in us.

So, can I trust this current moment of contrast in my life? Yes. Does it feel good? Absolutely not, but there is a deep sense of inner peace when I finally come to a place where I can accept how I feel and not judge it as a bad thing. The trouble is, no one (including yourself!) wants to see you down or upset or crying, so we grow up with the belief that it’s not OK to feel this way. It’s good to feel good, and bad to feel bad, and that’s the end of it. Or is it? Do we need to think again and begin to value and treasure all of our experiences? Seeing them for what they are, and taking as much goodness from them as we possibly can. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes we’re just in a good old-fashioned bad mood and don’t want to see the blessings in anything! And that’s OK too. We all need to have a good moan from time to time, and to feel downright sorry for ourselves. But once the initial storm has passed, that’s when we need to start looking beyond the dark clouds to where the light is.

Hmph. Life really isn’t easy sometimes, and the human experience certainly seems to be a more complicated one than say a well looked after cat or dog. But we are human, and there’s not much we can do about that except to navigate it with as much compassion and patience as we can muster up.

I know, I’ve gone all philosophical on you. Sorry about that – feeling low always makes me into a deep thinker! And it helps for me to come here and say what I need to say. So thank you for being there for me.

Peace out guys. See you soon! 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

True colours

Well, I could write a really long blog post about how it’s OK for you to be who you are, but it turns out Cyndi Lauper has summed up everything I could ever wish to say in her 1986 single ‘True Colors’. I mean, I knew this song existed, but I’d most definitely forgotten about it, and had neglected to make a point of listening to it on a regular basis. No more I tell you! I will listen to this song as often as possible until it starts to drive me mad. Because it’s like a two-hour therapy session in a few minutes.

This is the thing about music. Just as we’re starting to feel completely alone in the world, we can turn on the radio and instantly be reminded of how very shared our human experience is. Other people have felt what you feel, and you are not alone in the world. We never are, it’s just that it can feel like that sometimes. Whilst our emotions and our right to express them are both very real, the messages we sometimes tell ourselves are often great big lies. If your brain is trying to tell you that you aren’t good enough, that you should change to fit someone else’s ideas, or that you are alone on a small island with no one to turn to – you can be sure that your gremlins are at work and skip straight to ignoring them whenever possible. Or fight back and tell them why you are good enough! Whatever works for you.

We are all good enough; worthy; beautiful in our own right; not alone. Music can remind us of this, so make a point of listening to the radio or creating a feel-good playlist.

Oh, and thanks Cyndi!

Bye for now 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

Get some ‘you’ time

Our lives are so busy that we sometimes barely get a chance to just breathe, relax, and re-center. In fact, we can be so busy that we forget that we even need to do this in the first place! This is why feeling ‘bad’ is sometimes not such a bad thing. It might not feel great at the time, but contrast is an essential part of life, and it acts as a useful reminder to ask ourselves how we’re feeling, and what we might be able to do to feel that bit happier.

One problem (as far as I can tell) is that we live in a society which values self-sacrifice and un-selfish behaviour. To put your own needs first makes you a self-centered individual who needs to learn to think of others before themselves. But I personally hate the current definition and usage of the word ‘selfish’. I think it needs to be completely re-thought and reintroduced into the English language with a more positive meaning! Because to be selfish is to look after oneself, and to look after oneself is perhaps the most important task you will ever have in your entire life. You, I, we, are all as valid as the next person, and if we all went around looking after everyone but ourselves, no one would ever really be properly looked after. Am I making sense here? Do you know what I’m getting at?

You see, if you devote some time to yourself, you can still give to others, but from a more healthy place – one where you’re not totally worn out and emotionally exhausted. When we feel happy and content in ourselves. we tend to open up to the idea of helping others much more, simply because we feel more able to.

I can’t claim that these ideas are 100% my own, although I have experienced this first hand. But if you’d like to learn more about why it’s OK for you to relax and get some much-needed ‘you’ time, I can heartily recommend the book Life is a Gift by Gill Edwards. It was a life-changing read for me, and was recommended to me by a family member who had also found it utterly transformative.

Anyway, why am I writing about this? Well I was feeling all worked up the other evening. My brain was a whirlwind of shoulds and oughts and concerns about the needs of others and whether or not I was meeting them. I couldn’t get a handle on anything or think straight, so I took some time out. I went upstairs, put on the radio, and just chilled out for a bit. After a while, I found my centre and my brain started to calm down. Half the things I’d been worrying about disappeared altogether and the other half didn’t seem nearly as bad.

So there you have it. Go take a break. Re-kindle your love for yourself. Go and be at one with your radio or favourite book. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Bye for now x

A lovely Chinese proverb

Yes, you guessed right! I’m going to share with you a frankly pretty wonderful Chinese Proverb:

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

This quote, more than any others has made a big impact on my life. It acts as a daily reminder that if I’m feeling tense, I’m probably worrying too much about who I should be, when I could be putting my energy into being authentic and true to myself.

You can find this and many other wonderful quotes on the Tiny Buddha website: http://tinybuddha.com/wisdom-quotes/

Bye for now x

Not everyone you meet will like you

Terrifying isn’t it? The idea that someone you’re talking to might be silently judging you and thinking that they don’t like you very much. But the fact of the matter is that it is a relief! Thank goodness!! Not everyone I meet will like me, which means that I may as well stop trying to please people all of the time. And if you can’t see what a great thing this is, then you clearly don’t realise that, just because someone else doesn’t see the wonderful gifts you have to offer just by existing in the world, doesn’t mean that you aren’t a hugely valuable and amazing human being.

If you’re still struggling, put the focus on someone else. Imagine your hero – or your favourite celebrity or super cool aunty. Got it? Right, well you might be amazed to find out that not everyone they have met in their lives has loved or even liked them. In fact it’s more than likely that someone has actively disliked them at some point, especially if they are open to the public scrutiny of being a celebrity. Does this mean that there is anything wrong with this person? That you should throw your hands up in the air and say: “Oh, well. If that’s the case I don’t think I want them to be my hero any more. I’d best carry on my search for the perfect human being”. Well of course it doesn’t! To err is human, as they say. We are, as creatures of this world, inherently and wonderfully flawed. We are perfectly imperfect. None of us are born knowing all of the answers, otherwise what would be the point in life?

We all have the capability to let ourselves off the hook. To make peace with the fact that not everyone might like us, and that we might be less than perfect. It might require tremendous effort on your part, but it will be the best kind of hard work you have ever done in your whole life. It will lead to feelings of immense relief, joy and acceptance. When you get that first glimpse of inner happiness, you will want more, and I hope that you will feel inspired to carry on the journey.

The first step is to forgive. The second step is to realise that there isn’t anything¬†to forgive!

Bye for now x