Just Be You…

Life is all about you. You are life. If you are trying to live someone else’s life, who is living yours?

We spend so much of our time on planet earth trying to be someone else, like someone else, as good as someone else. What about being you? We have the media throwing information at us as to how we should look, what we should read, watch, listen to, and what we should and shouldn’t say. What about being you? It takes courage to be you and therein lies the problem.

Are you willing (be honest here), are you really willing to stand up and be counted? This could mean defending your beliefs, your truth, your honour or standing up for someone who cannot defend them self or even dressing as you want to dress, walking away from a job that doesn’t serve you, saying what you need to say or living the life you want to live. It could be walking away from an unhealthy relationship or a total life change. A simple “yeah of course” is not enough – I invite you to be really honest with yourself and see if it is true.

I always thought I was the one who stood up to be counted but as I look back I was lying to myself. I spent so long trying to conform that I didn’t even realise I was trying so hard and that it hurt. Nowadays I guess maybe I have reached an age where it isn’t important to me what others think of me, but I have also worked hard to reach a place where I simply like the person I am and most of all I am happy. That’s all any of us want right?

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken” is an Oscar Wilde quote that I just love and it resonates with what I try and help people achieve via my therapies, so it works well as a strapline on my business cards, but what does it actually mean? Is it just words?

To me (and it may be different for you) this quote is about living the life that ensures I live by my values of trust, honesty and integrity. This is ensuring that I am true to my belief that everyone has a right to be heard and listened to, and that everyone has a right to be loved and cared for and that everyone has a right to be happy. This does not mean these are simply gifts which are given, they have to be earned, but everyone should be allowed to receive and achieve them.

Being yourself is about feeling confident enough in your own skin to make a stand if challenged; doing, saying and feeling what is needed, maybe standing alone, letting people go or putting yourself in a place of vulnerability where you may just be hurt; and being yourself is acceptance that you are enough. I am enough, what about you? It is okay to say yes – it doesn’t mean you are not willing to grow or change, it means you are happy where you are, today.

People say, look inside yourself, you will find yourself there…. what on earth does that mean? If you are a literal person you are going to see bones, and blood and muscles and squishy stuff – is that who you are? Look inside me and and I am just the same as you in that department – all goo and sticky, icky bits, BUT, if looking inside means finding what your core values and beliefs are, how you want to live, how you will honour others beliefs and values or how you choose to communicate with others who cross your path, then we will probably all be very different. If you live every day the best way you can, accepting your good days and bad days, accepting the temper loss and frustration as well as the love and kind words,  then we will all be very different but possibly aiming at the same target – one of making ourselves and, in the process, making others, happy.

In a lunch break or maybe tonight over a glass of wine or beer or a cup of tea, I challenge you to take a look at you. Are you trying to blend in so you cannot be seen? Are you being someone you aren’t for the benefit of others – to please, to satisfy, to prove a point or because you have been told that is the only way? Are you ready to step up and step out and begin to find the you beyond the visual we all see?

What is to be done? Some will say transform. Some will say reconnect. Some will say change. Me? I say be brave and just be you, everyone else is taken.

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Time to Connect

There are times when I am sitting minding my own business when the voices in my head say “get on with it woman, get writing, it is time to talk”. I hate it when they do that as sometimes it really doesn’t sit with where I am in my day and can be a total inconvenience – but don’t do it and I will regret it later on as my thoughts will have vanished and I will have missed an opportunity to connect.

Connect with who? I have absolutely no idea but someone, somewhere will be reading this and know it is for them. They will know I am stood before them, looking into their eyes, holding their hand and no one else matters – it’s just me and them and a moment in time to connect.

Connection is a bloody powerful beast. When you connect with someone on a deep level – an ethereal level, a level of wisdom, passion, a level of intellect or just a level of peace – you both know it and it can blow you away. Connection is also vital to our survival as a species. I don’t just mean a sexual passing on of genes and life but a very important part of our personal survival and connection to the universe. We need people, even though sometimes we tell ourselves we can do this alone, telling ourselves that we don’t need people in our lives destroying what we have created, disturbing our sense of control and calm or getting in our way – actually, we just need to accept that we need people.

When someone stands before you, beside you or behind you and makes eye contact, takes your hand, or you just feel the energy they are sharing with you, you know you are safe, you know you are not alone and you know that you can conquer anything. It doesn’t have to be physical – this is sometimes just knowing that there is someone in this universe that cares where you are, what you are doing and they wish you well. That is connection.

Connection with another human; in body or in spirit is like giving life to the dead. Knowing you have someone else on this planet who knows you exist is huge. When you don’t have this… there is despair, loneliness, self destruction, lack of self confidence or awareness, hollowness, uncertainty and a loss of purpose.

Imagine. Close your eyes for a second and send away all those in your life you connect with. Put a wall or a deep dark chasm between you and them. You cannot see, hear, or touch them. They have forgotten you exist. You are totally alone. How that thought makes me shiver and sigh and feel cold and unloved and unworthy and damn damn damn sad. But hold that thought and really feel it inside you. This is reality for some….

Now reach out and touch another human. It could be a loved one, a friend, a perfect stranger, but touch them. Feel their skin on your skin. Feel the energy pass from you to them and back again. Feel the warmth. Feel the sunlight. Feel the peace that brings. Feel the connection. Feel the purpose you have been given.

What purpose? Your purpose is to touch another human being. It is to give life to a lost soul. It is to care and feel and love. It is to breathe breath into a shell. It is to add colour. It is to give life where there is none. You may have other purposes but your overall purpose as a human is to connect with another and give them all you have to give – to give them you. In whatever form that takes, however much you feel you can give but there is no denying, you have to give it. It is what you are on this earth for – to give to another human a little bit of you.

If you do one thing today – please just connect. Whether asking for connection or giving a connection – please do it. The world will be a better place if each day we gave to another, even the smallest of touches, compliments, assurance they are loved, smile or acknowledgement that they exist and have a place. Enjoy that connection. Feel that connection. Be that connection.

How Long Have You Held That Grief Inside?

Just how long have you held your grief inside? How long have you denied facing your emotions and letting them go in peace? How long have you ‘managed’?

I managed 15 years.

I didn’t begin because I had just given birth and I didn’t have the capacity. I didn’t begin because time moved on and I had to cope. I didn’t begin because others needed me. I didn’t begin because time had passed and I should be over it – right? I didn’t begin because my mental health was already in decline and this would make it worse. I didn’t begin because I didn’t know how. I didn’t begin because it was 15 years ago and it’s too late. I didn’t begin because I was too bloody scared to.

That list could go on and on and on and I wish with all my heart I had had someone there who simply gave me space and silence to fact my fears, whilst knowing they were there to metaphorically hold my hand. I wish I had moved into and through the pain and to the calm and quiet and freedom I now know exists when you do.

It felt like I was lost in a forest with no obvious paths (all the ones that do exist are dead ends), no signs (not that I could stop to read as my eyes are full of tears), and no light coming through the trees to show me the way. I was lost and I wanted someone to show me the way home. I wanted my mum – the very person I was trying to get over.

Mum came but in the form of people I had never met before – the perfect strangers who, with her help, took my hand and told me it would all be fine. I found a precious song, I found her favourite flowers and I stood in my kitchen and sang to her. I said my goodbye and I allowed the tears to flow and I took a breath so I could finally grieve for the woman who gave my life. I was able to move on and begin to live again. This was the second time she had given me permission to live.

If you know deep inside that it is time then find the one who will give you space and permission to say goodbye – a friend, a family member, a stranger – it actually doesn’t matter who as long as you know they will keep you safe and stand and metaphorically hold your hand until you are ready to step into the next phase of life.

It’s Been 7 Years…

7 years between these photos.

On the left is a woman who to the world had everything and a smile for everyone. Just days after this photo was taken her world imploded and she fell apart. Depression is a cruel and unstoppable force. The painted smile was torn away and her only option was to walk away from the world she had been living. That or call it a day.

On the right is the same woman now. Older. Wiser. Greyer. Tattooed. Pierced. Business owner and living a life that she is both proud of and happy in. Loving life and able to love and be loved. It took work. It took time. It still goes wrong but she is strong enough to deal with it.

This is me. I had people around me who understood and propped me up whilst I healed. It was hard for people to understand. From some “she will get over it”, from others “how could she walk away”, from those who saw through the smile “we were waiting for this and can now help you”, and from many, a call, a cuddle, a hand to hold or a smile and space and time to find my way whilst they walked by my side, dipping in and out of my life as I needed them.

For my family it was hard, confusing, worrying, sad but they always tried to help where they could. For my children… life changing, sometimes I regret things and feel I will never be able to make it better, sometimes I know they prefer the laid back mum who makes time for them and herself as she is so much nicer to be with.

Mental health hits all people, all ages, all backgrounds. Strong, confident, outgoing, or vulnerable, shy and lonely. We can all be touched by the black dog and when you see someone who suffers, please don’t judge, please don’t presume, please hold out your hand and offer a smile, a kind word, space and never tell them to pull themselves together. Their world has imploded and some days it’s impossible to even get out of bed and wash. If this was you what would you want?

Watch your children, they are already being impacted from all sorts of areas. Watch your wife, husband, siblings, partner, parents, friends. If you don’t understand try…

How Do You Want to Die?

“Everybody’s got a story. Let it be your blaze of glory. Burning bright, never fade away. And when the final curtain falls, we could say we did it all. The never ending of a perfect day… when I go out, I wanna go dancing.” Kylie Minogue, 2018

I was pottering in the kitchen this morning, making my breakfast and a cup of tea with radio 2 on, and out popped the lovely Kylie and the words really caught my attention. Whilst her meaning was probably quite different to how I interpreted them, (that is the joy of music, you interpret how you feel), I found myself considering my death. No, not because I am feeling forbid but because I have come to realise that what time I have on this wonderful planet, I will use wisely and with joy.

I want to go out dancing! I have absolutely no intention of leaving this planet weeping or with regret, no matter what the circumstances, and if someone can say “she went doing what she loved” my soul will be at peace. So let me ask you something – what is your blaze of glory and what if today was the last; would you be doing “what they loved” or would you be in a different place?

Once I drove my car and all I could think about was pressing the pedal hard and hitting a wall to end it all; nowadays I think of pressing the pedal as I drive through a foreign land with the wind blowing through my hair, as I head towards another adventure. No I am not living in a fantasy, it is soon to be my reality, and all it took was courage, time, effort, support and a desire to be better – better for myself and better for my children. I can look back now and watch it all play back without emotion – I have zero emotional attachment to the circumstances, the people or how poorly I was (I have let go) and that helps me see just how far I have come. You, if you feel even close to how I did, can do the same. You just got to want to dance!

If you want your favourite music playing in your head, whilst you dance through your day, or even hum to yourself as you get on with your work (hmmm think about it – when was the last time you did that), it is down to you. No one can fix you. No one else can give you answers. No one is going to make it all go away. This is your responsibility. This is your life.

Harsh words? Maybe, but when you want someone else to fix you, you will never get the answers you want to hear, because they will always tell you things that you need to do. When you want someone else to make life better, take away the pain, make you laugh, play the music for you to hear; you won’t ever listen for long. You will give up. You will give up, because you are not owning your own life.

When you take back control, when you decide that change has to happen, then all the support you receive will be meaningful and productive. It is your choice what music you put on and if you dance….

So…. how will you die? I have no idea of what, how, when, where and nor do I think or worry about it any more. I am living now and that is what counts. I am alive, loved, giving what I have to those I care for and most of all, I am happy. What more could I ask for than what I have now, right this minute.

What’s playing in the background now as I write?

“I’ve been to a marvelous party, I must say the fun was intense. We all had to do, what the people we knew might be doing a hundred years hence. We talked about growing old gracefully and Elsie who’s seventy-four, said, “A, it’s a question of being sincere. B, if you’re supple you’ve nothing to fear. Then she swung upside down from a glass chandelier and I couldn’t have liked it more.”

That’s how life should be thought of… “I couldn’t have liked it more.”

 

 

Too old to try something new?

My son does MMA (mixed martial arts) and I see him each week really working hard, getting stronger, feeling fitter and generally improving his fitness. His diet has improved, his attitude to school and life and people has improved and he has become my role model.

So… can I do MMA and reap the same benefits he does? Stop laughing (she’s says to herself)… I may be 53, unfit and overweight, but why the hell not! Surely this is perfect for me?

I went and tried….. and loved it! Well that was two days ago and I still ache but it’s a good ache to have – makes me realise I am alive and improving who I am physically and mentally. How many of us do this consciously?

How many times a day, a week, a month or a year do you sit and wish your life to be different? How many times do you look at yourself in the mirror and wish you could see someone different? How many days, weeks, months or years will you continue to do this and hope that it happens! Wake up people…. YOU have to make it happen. YOU have to grab life by the short and curlies and say “damn you, this is my life and it will be how I want it”. YOU have the right to be happy. YOU deserve to live every day as you want to live it and you have the right to love who you are whilst you live the life you have.

I get so tired of people blaming circumstance, blaming partners, or employers or any other external influence for what they have or what they don’t. If you really, really want life to change, you CAN change it. No it’s not easy. Yes it means sacrifice and change and living with uncomfortable, battling demons and maybe even walking away from all that no longer serves you, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

I am unfit, overweight and getting older. Some of that I have to accept, some I can influence and some I can change completely but the important thing to remember is that it is my responsibility to make it different. I made the decisions and choices and created the life I have and only I can make it different. I have people supporting me, loving me, cheering me on but ultimately it is down to me.

I have spent 7 years working on my mental health, my outlook on life, the words I speak and the thoughts I have. I have spent 7, sometimes hard and frustrating years, letting people in and letting people go. I have spent 7 wonderful, glorious and exciting years becoming the person I see and there are many years of work left. Now its time for the physical me to take centre stage so that I can become the person physically I like to look at, know that I am as healthy as I can be and to give myself a sense of pride that I am achieving physical goals and targets set. I WILL get that black belt and stand side by side with my son wearing his.

When you look at life, no matter how small or large the change you feel you want or need to make, you can do this IF you give yourself permission to try, take responsibility for your own life and have fun seeing the person inside come to life.

 

Is housework really therapy?

Hmmmm housework…. not my idea of pleasure and the ironing pile has to get to taking over a room status before I can bear to tackle it. But, yesterday I realised I could make this ‘me time’. Possibly not the spa or a massage but me time just the same.

How on earth can you make housework a pleasure and a therapy? By being in the moment and using it to your advantage I discovered today.

So I’d done breakfast and cleaned the kitchen, got the school run out of the way and there really is no avoiding this huge pile of clean clothes staring at me from the corner of the room. The wardrobe is empty, it has to be done…

Out came the ironing board and the iron and on went the music… I have known for a long long time that dancing whilst you iron makes it more manageable. I began and honestly after two shirts and a t-shirt I was already thinking of giving it up but then took a deep breath and focused on the dress – who in their right mind buys linen – it is a nightmare to make look half decent. Sorry I digress.

I began to look at the dress, the weave of the fabric, the memories of India and Greece woven in the fibres. I looked at the patterns the natural creases made, the texture and the colour and lost myself for a few minutes. It was fabulous. Onto the ironing board came a favourite top and again I made a conscious effort to really see the top, it’s colour, it’s texture and the memories entwined in it. The noise the steam made as it was released between the fibres. The heat absorbed by my fingers close to the irons metal plate. The movement of the iron and its hiss, slightly out of time with the beat of ELOs Mr Blue Sky playing in the background.

All of a sudden the pile of ironed clothes was higher than the un-ironed and I was genuinely enjoying this time and felt focussed, relaxed and quite chilled by the whole experience. Living in the moment I think is the marketing speak. It was quite beautiful.

When you take what you are doing and give it your total undivided attention, paying homage to the shape, size, texture, sound and movement of all you do, suddenly you find yourself absolutely in the moment. Suddenly the mundane brings a certain pleasure and peace with it. No frustration, no feelings of wasting time, just the simple pleasure of doing whatever it is you have to do thoroughly, with full attention and gaining a sense of being that is indulgently pleasurable.

So, next time you are faced with a task you see as daunting, terrible, boring and mundane or you just need some space in your head for nothing to sit in, give the task your focus, look really carefully; see it, feel it, hear it, and touch it in a way you haven’t done before and find the rest of the world is standing still, quietly waiting for you, until you are ready to join it once more.

Housework as therapy? Why not…

The answer is always yes

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it – say yes, then learn how to do it later. Richard Branson

I am not a huge fan of Richard Branson but some words he spouts resonate and these ones really do.

I have always had the mentality of say yes and work out how to do it later. It’s how I got my first job in London 30 years ago! Can you use a computer and this software? Yes of course! I got the job there and then and then spent the weekend learning the how. The joy of the 1980s.

Not suggesting anyone lies. That’s crossing one too many values for me. I do however, encourage a can do attitude. Why miss an opportunity to do something new, explore somewhere you’ve never been or live a life you’ve always dreamt of, just because you don’t know how to achieve it?

When someone said to me yesterday “shall we do a workshop together”, neither of us knowing what this will be, of course the answer was yes. We both know we have something to give, something to create and our guts and that little bit of excitement that ran round our bellies as we said this, were enough to decide to create something beautiful.

Yes. That is enough to begin.

What is your dream? What do you want to create? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? When are you finally going to just say yes?

You are already enough, so say yes and work out how later. The universe she listens. The universe hears that yes. The universe has your back and will co-create what is meant to be.

The Unconscious Worrier and The Conscious Warrior

How many times do you find yourself unfocused, not really present or just generally distracted but you can’t quite put your finger on it?

How many of you put your warrior head on and battle through your day, your week and your life?

I get you….

This last ten days I realise I have been unfocused; physically present but just skimming the surface of reality and knowing I was watching life but not quite able to join in.

When it came to the crunch though, the day arrived where I had to face the world, it couldn’t be avoided and I put on my invisible armour and got on with it.

So there’s a lump. Not where I thought and way bigger than I expected. How do I feel? Actually okay. Not good. Not bad. Not scared. Not worried. Actually grateful that I haven’t wasted the time of the people caring for me this morning.

Wasting the time of the nursing staff. That worried me more than anything. Our NHS system is stretched enough. Is that why we don’t go to see our GP? In case we are just adding to the current overload? Or is that just an excuse because we we bloody scared about what they will find.

Now I have a lump. So now they have to squeeze, scan, take pictures, stick me with needles and tell me results.

But, I discovered, all is well. It’s just a cyst and that was easily dealt with. Did I sigh with relief? Yes of course I did and thankfully I will not have to have the conversations with those I love that I’d had in my head, so the day suddenly feels a bit different.

If you have a lump or a pain or an ache or something just doesn’t look or feel right, don’t tell yourself the doctor or the nurses are overwhelmed and you don’t want to make it worse; don’t avoid getting checked because you don’t know how you’d cope; don’t think it will go away – it really won’t; take a breath, make that call, just say what’s wrong and allow the professional to do the diagnosing.

Last week I had a lump and a phone call to make and I was uncomfortable and scared. All week my unconscious worrier sat below the surface and niggled my thoughts, never allowing me to worry enough that it was obvious, but making it difficult for me to do anything constructively. But today I had to consciously become the warrior and get through the day. The warrior found it was just a cyst and with a sense of relief took a breath but one, whilst looking around the consultation room, hoping all the others were breathing again too.

The Fleshy Kintsugi

“How many times do I have to tell you that even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too.”

We struggle to love ourselves sometimes, especially when we feel flawed. Whether that be a visual flaw or just something inside that makes us feel like we aren’t working as we should. When it is pointed out by others it is even more pronounced in our own heads. We believe what people say, and what people say we see as negative.

I was recently described as “fleshy”. Oh thanks…. I’m fat am I? I was very insulted but deep down I knew what they said was true – I am fleshy. I have curves, I have excess fleshy bits and I am never going to be a size 8 stick-like woman. As I thought about it (as you do when someone points out a “flaw”), I realised that actually all that was true so I went back to that person and asked what they saw when they said fleshy…. I needed to know even though I wasn’t going to like what I heard.

They were sad when they thought I had taken it as an insult. They had not meant it that way. To them, fleshy was beautiful, it was curvy, it was not a size 8 as they don’t think women should be skinny, it was who they saw when they looked at me. It made me stop in my tracks and think about the whole body image discussion we have internally and through the media. It made me realise, whilst I thought I was comfortable in my own skin, I am still battling with how I should look, versus how I actually look, versus how others see me, versus loving all of me as I am.

Yes there is weight to lose, I guess we all carry some that we can get rid of if we made the effort, but seeing myself as beautiful instead of seeing the faults is really important. I have learnt to love the inside me, the person with the faulty mind and yet I have omitted to fully love the outer covering. It is time to fix that and make the effort to change the bit that is a health issue, but love the outer covering of this mind and soul I have been gifted with.

Take a look at you and ask yourself what would feel like an insult to you if someone said it. Would it be about your weight? Would it be how tall or short you are? Would it be that parts of you are too big or too small? Would it be that you are too angry, too nice, too loud, too quiet…. the list is endless, but you will know. The second I asked the question, your “fleshy” word would have popped into your mind and you will have immediately focused on what you think is a weak spot for you.

So look again… think about it through the day…. is it really an insult or is it who you are and what makes you who you are? Find its positive or at least look on it with acceptance that it is part of a very special human being. For you it is a fault; for someone else it is a beautiful feature. Love it. Like the Chinese artwork (Kintsugi – where they take a broken bowl and mend it using gold to create a beautiful new object out of what was fundamentally flawed and for the bin), and take your thoughts and use them as the seam of gold and create something beautiful with the flaws you see.