Unloading Boxes

Oh wow how much of your “things that hurt” have been boxed up and never addressed, looked at or dealt with? How many boxes do you have of “stuff” that you either can’t or won’t take a look at? Which of these boxes do you think need unpacking at some point and dealing with? Are you ready now? Tomorrow? Are you procrastinating because it is gonna hurt? Yeah, I did too but open them we must.

The truth hurts, the lies hurt, the past hurts, the future hurts. Sound familiar? No one can make you even take a look at these boxes never mind go near them and lift the lid. No one, no amount of external pressure, nothing and no one but you can make this decision. The choice belongs to you – only you! But, when you decide to peep under that lid you so firmly closed, whilst painful and scary, it will also be exhilarating, making progress,  a relief, a breath of fresh air and will move you forward.

I had a wonderful coping mechanism with my hurt and pain and sad – I put it in a box and then I dug a hole and buried it as deep as I could. I thought that was enough to make it go away and I could just get on with life. How marvelously naive. No one told me that at some point and as if by magic, the universe gives these boxes some kind of magical power and they wriggle and jiggle and move and somehow they would create a nagging voice in the back of my head, or a jab in my heart or a suffocating weight in my chest until it was so overwhelming I had to make a choice of giving in or dealing with it. I chose the latter but so many do not.

I talked! I talked and talked. Once that initial thought of ‘release’ was created it gave life to words and they flowed. They flowed onto paper first, then they flowed onto your screen and then they flowed from my lips and the box lid was lifted and out it all came. The funny thing was, I thought once the lid was lifted I would lose control of what came out and the speed and the amount would be beyond me. But no. I had support, I had people who cared and I had a determination in my gut to be strong and do this in my time and at my pace. I didn’t know how, I didn’t necessarily understand why but I knew when and I knew I had to move from where I was. Staying where I was, was actually more painful than opening the boxes I discovered.

I talked. I spoke my truth. I dealt with what I could and I released the pain of what I couldn’t out into the universe and asked her to send it where it should go. Then I had to begin the journey of forgiveness. Forgiveness first and foremost to myself and then to those who had hurt me and then back to me for also hurting them. Forgiveness, I discovered, is a huge step towards emptying the boxes. In fact it is a bit like emptying the box and then jumping on it and squashing it flat, ready for recycling. It is like the satisfaction of popping bubble wrap.

This was not easy and I have to remember that when I walk alongside those beginning their journey. This was painful. This contained tears. I had to recreate and live some of the pain and I hated every second of it sometimes BUT (and there is a great and glorious BUT) I did it, I survived and I found that magical place we all want to go to – happiness. Boxes are great for storage but at some point, if you want to travel to happiness, you have to unpack them and deal with the contents. Gather around you those you trust, you care for, who love you and ask them to stand with you. Peep first or tear back the lid like a huge sticking plaster but be gentle with yourself, keep well and strong and forgive… and when it comes relish in the joy of the smile you find you are wearing one day.

 

 

 

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Gentle Giant

Meet Sampa, she is the beauty in the photo. We are the same age. We have had very different lives. She has been imprisoned in a circus, not allowed to breed and have her babies and mistreated in ways I do not wish to commit to paper, and yet she is the most beautiful, gentle, loving creature I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her gratitude for being rescued, fed and loved was palpable.

She and I formed a bond out in her wonderful India. She and I shared a moment that I will remember til my dying day. She and I shared a silence and a gesture that filled my heart with so much love it spills from my eyes sometimes. She is the ultimate in forgiveness. She forgave a human because finally she was shown love by one. In return she shares the love she carries inside.

Just after the photo was taken, as I rested my head against her chest, I felt her weight shift and this gorgeous lady’s head rested very gently against mine and we stayed there, just in the quiet of the Indian landscape and morning heat, quietly talking soul to soul. I find it very difficult to give this moment words as the bliss I felt, the moment so quiet, the love so huge are indescribable. Time lingered. Silence prevailed. Nothingness went on and on and on.

Those kind of moments are rare but not impossible in our daily lives. We have to create them. We have to find that stillness within our our bodies. We have to train our ears to shut out excess noise. We have to allow our minds to rest. We must forgive ourselves for stray thoughts whilst we try. For our health, for our mental acuity, for our peace of mind and our joy at living in the moment we have to at least try.

This is not an easy process. This is not a “try once and you find Nirvana”. This is not an instant fix for your worries. It IS silence. It IS a sense of quiet inside. It IS worth the practice and the frustration and being unable to switch off the outside world. It IS the ability to find 5 minutes in any 24 hours that is totally yours. It IS rejuvenating. It IS allowing yourself time and in that it feels like you have extended time, because all the things you thought you couldn’t fit in you suddenly have time for when your mind is quiet and you slow your world down.

We don’t all have our Sampa to stand with but we can all find the time, the peace, the strength and the gentleness she was able to give. You just have to make a choice to begin and try.

Go into your weekend with a sense of quiet calm, a determination to be kind to yourself and others and a gratitude in your heart for life. Life is a gift and it can be taken away without our consent. Do not waste what you have been given. Live every second and love all you come into contact with. Find your quiet and enjoy it.

Pick them up when they fall

For me, not being a football boffin, the game itself last night, was neither here nor there, BUT, the overriding team spirit and commitment was amazing and the one picture I take away from this was Gareth Southgate picking up his team when they fell. Physically taking the hand of the devastated and crest fallen players and in that gesture saying “come on, it’s okay, show pride not defeat, be proud of your achievement”, will stay with me for a long time. That is true leadership and heart.

When you are at your lowest, probably the last thing you want is for someone to pick you up and make you smile outwardly BUT Mr S knows that in that small gesture, he put his players on the road to recovery. When you get picked up and encouraged to put on a brave face, gradually you see what you have achieved, instead of focusing on what you haven’t. This wasn’t about them (that would come later off the pitch), this was about giving thanks and praise to all those who stood by them. This was about teamwork. This was about being proud. This was about true heart and courage to hold their heads high and say “look what we achieved”.

There are times in your life when you cannot see anything but pain, loss of pride, hurt or what lies ahead and you need (whether you know it or want it or not), you need someone else to take your hand and make you stand again and give you their strength until you regain your own. It can be too hard to find the strength in yourself to lift yourself, so allow someone else to share theirs. NEVER be too proud to accept the hand taking yours and saying “we can do this together”. So many times in my work I hear people (usually men) saying “this is my problem, I have to solve it on my own”. NO! No, you do not.

In what world did anyone say that come the time of crisis, you have to sort it out by yourself? Oh yes, that will be society won’t it!

We tell our children (boys in particular) don’t cry, don’t have that emotional outburst, get on and sort it out, be a man! What the hell are we doing??? We are signing the emotional death warrant right from the beginning. Take a look at the suicide rates for men if you don’t believe me – 84 men A WEEK take their own life – 84 needless deaths because as a society we have let them down. It has to stop.

If you have someone in your life, or even if you just spot someone struggling,  how much does it really take from your day, your life to stop and say “are you okay” or “can I help you” or “what do you need from me today to make it a better one”? You could have just turned their life around. Hold out your hand and pull them up – sometimes all we need is to be lifted to our feet to enable us to take a step forward.

Be the hand that someone else needs. Be the strength someone else is lacking. Be the heart that shows someone you care. Be the one who makes a difference. Be the one who gives. If you know what it is like to be the one on the floor, you will probably find this easy and if you have never been in that position, it may be hard to understand, but don’t try and work it out, just put out your hand and show them you care.

Photo courtesy of JOE.co.uk

 

Authenticity – the essence of power

Authentically or Synthetically – how do you live?

Authenticity is one of the values I live by and it sits within my affirmations every single day.

This week I had a clear out of my wardrobe (stay with me this is relevant). It was full of the synthetic self I had created to try and earn money in a world I didn’t fit. It was holding clothing that I put on to look and feel the same as the others around me. It was a poor fit and I never fitted into their world, nor they into mine. No one was right or wrong, it just wasn’t me being true to myself. It was all about the money – or potential of having it anyway.

I would put these clothes on to meet people. I would put these on to go to training and seminars. I put these on to go to conferences. I put these on to fit in. I didn’t. It was like painting on an exterior so people would see the image of what was possible and not actually see what was real. I was selling myself, but not the self I actually was. All for what? To earn more, to live the dream, to give my kids a better life, to have the house, the car, the income, the lifestyle I had been sold. Was it worth the pain I caused myself?

I hated it and I hated me for who I became. I was unhappy and was never going to see success like I had promised myself I would. Why? Because I never did it as me. Perhaps I would have been more successful and actually loved it if I had just gone in as me, talked as I talk, dressed as I dress, be who I am. Who knows.

This was not what someone told me to do. This is what I thought you had to do…. fake it until you make it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved dressing up and looking beautiful but it was simply exhausting being someone I was never going to manage to sustain.  I would paint her on, dress her up and smile until externally I was the playing the part. Inside? I was dying.

I have learnt that to be happy, to be successful in my own right and to live the life I love, I simply have to be true to who I am. No more painting on the external image,  just expressing myself honestly; no more pretending to live a certain way, just living the way I want to; no more projecting out to the world, just looking inside. I have learnt that to live a life where I am happy and content and stable mentally and financially I just had to recognise / learn the very essence of who I am and accept. If I don’t look like, act like, sound like, earn like, live like others… so what… I am finally free, just to be me.

I wonder what the essence of you is and if you recognise it or cover it over. I wonder how exhausted you are at the end of the day when you strip off the costume you have worn all day or maybe the costume is what you wear when you get home and your freedom is in the outside world. I wonder if you honestly believe who you are every single day is who you are when you see your authentic self in the mirror. I wonder if synthetic is actually okay as long as you accept it. I wonder lots of things but most of all I wonder if you are happy and living. I hope so with all my heart.

 

I don’t know – yet

Are you ready for the spotlight? Are you ready to stand centre stage and reveal to everyone all you are, what you are going to do with the rest of your life and bare your soul to the world? I don’t know – yet!

I know I am arming myself with all I need to – I don’t know what exactly, I am just going with my gut. I am educating myself, learning my craft, becoming a master at all I do. The when it will be used, the how exactly, the what, in detail, are a bit of a mystery but the who, I have nailed down and the why is definite clarity. So some I have, some I am still working on but surely that is life?

Are we ever ready for what is to come? Do we ever have all our ducks in a row? Is there a point where everything is perfect? If we wait for perfection isn’t that as dangerous as not being prepared at all? Sometimes you have to be as ready as you can be, and simply be prepared for things to come and change your path – it certainly makes the journey far more interesting.

I know I am meant to teach – I have been having an internal battle with myself for years on this because no I do not want to stand in school and vomit my knowledge to children who would rather be elsewhere. I am discovering to teach is far more than a classroom. I am discovering that it is leading, guiding, healing and giving others the tools to be who they are meant to be. It is giving another soul the gift they need to make their way in life – whatever that may be for them. Teaching is lifting the chin of the person with their head bowed and showing them what it is like to look up instead of down. Teaching is giving others the courage to live their dreams by living yours.

What springs to my mind as I write these words is”what exactly are you waiting for…. you know you are ready, now you just need to be brave.” You will know when you have enough tools in the box to begin. The hard bit is what comes next… but you have this. Just step forward, trust and let that spotlight shine so the world can see you for all that you are – a human being in your own right and you area ready to be seen, you are ready to be heard, you are ready to act and you are ready to take responsibility for those actions. What are you waiting for?

I have stood in the shadows on this stage too long…. it is my time and I am ready to fulfill my destiny. How will it roll out? How will it end? I don’t know – yet!

 

Suicide. The Ultimate Painkiller

” Through early morning fog I see. Visions of the things to be. The pains that are withheld for me. I realize and I can see. That suicide is painless. It brings on many changes. And I can take or leave it if I please. The game of life is hard to play. I’m gonna lose it anyway. The losing card I’ll someday lay. So this is all I have to say. The sword of time will pierce our skins. It doesn’t hurt when it begins. But as it works its way on in. The pain grows stronger. Watch it grin. Suicide is painless….”

A wife and a mother driving down a country lane. Happy, a good job, everyone’s sunshine. She looks at the road ahead, sees the stone walls to the side of her and debates with herself… “if I just put my put down and steer that way it will all be over.”

She may be a wife and a mother, have a good job and appear to everyone to be happy and always smiling, but underneath she is in great pain, has lost her identity, feels mental torture from dawn to dusk and sees no other way to stop the noise and the hurt. And no she doesn’t want to die, and no she isn’t thinking of the consequences or people who will be left behind wondering, and no she doesn’t see this as suicide; this is just the ultimate painkiller to take away her pain.

This happened some years ago now but only this week did an incident bring the memory coming back to the fore of her mind. How, once upon a time, did she find herself in this situation and why did she never see this as a suicidal thought? Why until now did it just seem ‘normal’?

Why? Because when you are in that frame of mind this is not necessarily a thought out process – it is for some, and they meticulously plan, prepare, write farewell letters and out their affairs in order – but, for many this is just a painkiller – the ultimate painkiller. They will take whatever opportunity is open to them and not think of anything but the silence they will experience when it’s done. Bliss at last but too late to turn back.

We are living in a world (thank goodness) where mental health is finally open for discussion. Mental health, suicide, depression, bi polar, PTSD, schizophrenia and so on are words we all know – we may not understand them all yet or have the power to recognise in others or know how to deal with them if diagnosed in ourselves or our loved ones, but we are finally talking about every single one of them. Those who are suffering are now more aware, can openly stand up and be the person on the outside they know they are on the inside. They can do this, in most cases, without shame, without being shunned or locked away and with avenues open to them to heal. For others they hide it well as they may be shunned, labelled, ostracized or locked away and for them we must talk more, educate all of our society and let them know they are safe.

Was suicide ever a thought process? Was she aware she was suffering with depression? Did she think this was just normal and how everyone felt? How could she possibly tell someone she wanted to just drive into a wall at speed for the noise in her head to stop? How could she ask for help when she didn’t know the cause or where to begin? Why didn’t she see it through? Who knows. That is a thought and a memory that didn’t come back. I am just thankful she took her foot off the gas and lived to see another day.

She was hurting. She was in fear or her own thoughts. She was desperate for silence inside her mind. She could no longer cry, there was nothing left inside. She was brave. She was determined. She knew there was something more to come. She had faith. She believed there was something better if she just looked.

She grew. She blossomed. She smiled. She experienced good. She made choices. She never gave in. She survived….. I survived. I never took that painkiller and I live life every single day and I am happy.

Suicide is painless….? Be observant. Recognise. Act…

 

 

 

Technology and Me

I love technology if I think it serves a purpose – if it distracts me from the outside world, or is there for the sake of it, I abhor it. So when I was offered an Apple Watch I was like “yeah right, what the hell do I want that for – the screen will be too small to read any mail or messages, and anyway I have my phone”. I have also not worn a watch for 7 years as I had been consumed by the need to control and be controlled by time during the worst of my depression. Wearing a watch was going to take me back!

Don’t you just love it when you are utterly wrong! I have only had this for 10 days and it has helped me transform my days. Ridiculous huh! So let’s take a look…

Emails – yes I can read them perfectly well on my watch and do you know, instead of feeling the urge to answer or deal with every email as it comes in I now lift my wrist take a look and make a choice. Messages are exactly the same – I choose what I respond to and what I leave until I have time later. If people need me urgently, then they will call.

Sleep – my sleep has improved because of the nutrition and exercise but also it is monitored every night – seemingly most nights I take 9 minutes to fully get to sleep – and when I wake it asks me to choose a smiley face to depict how I feel. Isn’t that going too far you may ask, but not for me as it makes me really think about how I feel. I may sometimes get up and paint the world rosy when actually I am masking an issue and trying to motivate myself, whereas now if I start the day not so pink and more blue then I acknowledge it, get up and walk it off. I know the smiley face will be back on and naturally, when I get back. If the day begins with a smiley face watch our world as there will be no stopping me.

But the joy for me has been the exercise… I walk already, but I have also found a huge lack in the motivation stakes recently and so found sitting becoming a daily habit. I eat okay but checking my calories and how and if I am burning them off? Hmmm maybe not. Exercise comes and goes dependent on mood and weather and motivation.

Am I competitive? Not really….. Again, how I love to be proven wrong. This small rectangle of technology on my wrist has set me targets, nothing that I can’t manage and all changeable BUT, when I get to lunchtime and I can’t see those circles moving it is like having my mum look at me, shake her head and say nothing. Boy do I feel bad…

So in 10 days I have walked between 5 and 10 km every day, I have ensured I have come away from my desk and stood at least one minute in every hour. My phone has become unglued from my hand and I have virtually stopped trawling social media, except for a few posts, articles or a very quick catch up and I have created time in my day because I have become more structured. Structured and organised not obsessed with time, which was my fear.

I have created time, I have given myself choices, I feel better, my focus is sharper and I am motivated to get up and begin my day in a positive frame of mind. All from using technology…. who’d have thought it !

 

Metamorphosis

I have a tendency to live in a world that is beautiful, kind and innocent – why? Because it is nicer than reality BUT this makes me very naive at times and when faced with the ugly truth of others lives and how they have to get through their day, it makes me realise I need to change.

I do not need to live their lives to understand how they see the world, I do not need to even walk in their shoes. I do need to open my eyes, listen to them, hear their words, hear their pain, hear their reality that is life outside of my small cocoon and play my part in making that just a little more palatable for them.

Metamorphosis “a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one”. That is a big ask of anyone and may be impossible or even unnecessary, but to grow we must change. To improve our understanding of others and our world we need to be able to flex and bend and alter how we see and hear things, how we process them and ultimately what we do to play our part in our and its growth.

Change on the other hand really, really hurts. It is hard. It is painful. It is rarely fun. It makes us uncomfortable and we rarely have control over the outcome. What if it’s worse than where we are? What if we don’t fit into this new place? What if people don’t accept us? What if we let go and realise we were already where we should be and now we can’t go back? What if, what if, what if…… what if we always convince ourselves that change is bad, we never do it and then we miss out on a more enjoyable, beautiful, fun, loving place in time and space. What if by changing we actually become more, become better, become nicer humans, become a catalyst for change for someone else, an inspiration, a light that someone else is guided by….

What if we lose the greatest love of all time in the hope for something we cannot see, hear or touch but we believe in. What if we lose ourselves in the process and end up in a dark place where we see no light. What if we become isolated and alone…. What if ,out of giving up love, it comes back ten-fold; what if we lose ourselves but realise the one found it a better fit; what if by being alone we look inside and find our peace, away from the noise and expectations of life. What if is a game we can play until it is too late and the opportunity is gone forever and life no longer is…

To change you must let go. To change you must experience what makes you uncomfortable. To change is to take opportunities and play them out and trust that what you are doing will work. To change is to live and to live is to be happy and to be happy is all we ever really ask of life….

 

 

I’m Going Home

“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”.

There are times in your life where the voice inside you repeats, like a chant, day in, day out and at some point you have to listen. I’m overwhelmed by noise. I’m exhausted with the negativity. I’m sad watching people hurt people.  I’m tired of abuse, waste, he said/she said, who is better than who and I am needing silence.

Maybe because I have had depression; maybe because of it or maybe from it, I no longer deal well with noise or busyness or numbers of people all invading my space, physically or mentally, all at once or for excessive periods of time. I take their energy and find it difficult to process. When you work with energy you learn very quickly to protect yourself but there is still an element where it simply gets too much and the overwhelm can be oppressive.

Recognising this place is a huge milestone reached; being able to deal with it is a lifesaver; quickly, effectively and happily getting to a better space is a miracle. I love miracles!

Just as an aside I am sat at my desk and a small spider has come to join me, immediately in my eye-line as I type. He is very small, about 1cm, looks quite a robust little character and appears to be creating a little home for himself for the morning. 

Sorry – back to the blog….

I have long had a calling to head to India. For me this is the home of spirituality and all that is. India for me, is a place of magic, mystery and beauty and creates in me a stillness like no other. I have never yet managed a trip there but for about 5 years now it has whispered in my dreams, it has sung to me its love song and now it is knocking on my heart and saying “come, find the stillness for yourself”. I am heading to India.

What do I hope this brings? Experiences. Opportunities. Culture. Belief. Faith. Friendship. Peace. Courage. In amongst the noise, the colour, the abundance of people and the heat, I hope to find home. Home, inside, no one else can see, feel, touch or experience. Home, inside me, is my space, my experience, the one and only thing I will never have to share, give away, talk about, or defile. My home where the insides are golden, sumptuous, silent, full of sunshine, warm, beautiful and full of love.

It’s time for me to go home…. where do you live or where is home for you I wonder….

 

 

 

I Am Ready

I am ready for all that is to come….. that line is part of my intentions that I say out loud every single day before, during or after my meditation. I ask myself though, how ready am I when it comes down to it?

  • Am I ready to change my career?
  • Am I ready to move my home?
  • Am I ready to change my lifestyle?
  • Am I ready to make changes that impact not just mine but my family’s lives?
  • Am I ready to turn my world upside down to be where I am meant to be, to do what I am meant to do and live my values?
  • Am I ready to give my heart, my love, my life just because…?
  • Am I ready for what life has in store when I have no idea what that is?

There comes a point in most people’s lives where a choice is laid out before them and they have to decide; if the circumstances are favourable (and only you can say what that looks like) and the opportunity is laid before you, do you take and possibly change your life, and that of those around you, for ever. You don’t know how it will change. You don’t know what or who will be impacted. You don’t even know if it will be “happy ever after”. Is it worth taking that leap of faith? Could you? Would you? Will you? Have you?

Trust. What do you trust? Who do you trust? How do you follow your gut when there are no promises, just a lot of if, but and maybe’s?

Honesty. The only person you need to be honest with right now is you. Being really honest, what do you want or need to change to make improvements in you, in your life, for your future?

Integrity. The state of being whole: are you or is there a piece missing? The quality of being honest: are you being honest with yourself, with those you love or are you living a lie?

Authenticity. Are you your authentic self? Do you wear a different mask for different people, circumstance, place? Are you the same for all people? Would you recognise your authentic self if you stood in front of a mirror?

These are all questions, emotions, thoughts and feelings to philosophise over but maybe, just maybe when you have done (and this can take days, weeks, months, years or forever…) maybe you can answer the question “am I ready?”.

Am I ready….? HELL YES !