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…

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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.

Just waiting…

So I’m sat in the hospital just waiting. It’s filled with people coming and going. Scared, nervous, anxious, holding their breath, talking, keeping silent, crying. There is a cool, clean efficiency about the place and it’s quite comforting in its cleansed way.

No idea what is to come. The journey here itself was okay but the parking would leave the most patient of people cursing. Naturally I ended up on opposite side of the hospital to where I needed to be, but the exercise of the sprint I then had to make to ensure I was on time, did me good.

I ache. I’m tired as yesterday was a really long day. And I have to admit I’m a little bit anxious. Fear of the unknown I guess.

It will be fine. This is just to check and reassure. This is nothing to worry about. I will be fine. I can hear that and I can say it and hopefully if I say it enough in the next few minutes I will begin to believe.

As usual I came alone. Not because no one cares and no one offered, but because I am me and cannot accept help all that well. I am getting better but the strong, independent, bloodyminded woman still prevails sometimes. This is just a checkup after all. I didn’t share with many that I am even here. Why worry people unnecessarily and why make molehills into mountains. There’s time for telling if people need to know, later.

So why am I here? Maybe fate. Maybe the universe is testing me. Maybe it’s learning or maybe it’s for me to share with others. Maybe it’s my past catching up with me. Maybe it’s just because…

So I’m sat in the hospital, still waiting…

She’s Still Here

Death – a funny old thing. You know we will all get to try it and you know it is the outcome that we are all born with, and yet when it comes, it still takes us by surprise and then we are lost in a wilderness that seems to stretch on far longer than life itself.  We hold onto things so tightly we can feel our nails making imprints into our hands and we grab onto anything we can to keep that loved one with us.

The scent on the pillow. I can still feel how I hugged it against my chest, drinking in the scent of her. She was gone. It was not even a day that had passed but I wanted her to be here next to me, and she never would again. I wanted that smell to be with me for a lifetime, but I knew this was it.

Her ring, so tiny on my finger, was all I had that was tangible and I wore that ring for as long as I could until again I knew it was time. Time to put the jewellery into the box as it was time to move on.

It wasn’t that I no longer grieved. It wasn’t that I didn’t miss hearing her voice. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her to be here playing with my newborn daughter and telling me I was doing okay. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grieving – honestly it wasn’t….. it was just time. Time to move on, time to get back into the world and start to live again. This place where I had been; this holding station, this cocoon of self preservation, this bubble filled with her scent, her laughter and memories, this place of safety where I could hold on tightly and pretend it was all okay, this place was no longer mine and I had to give it up.

She told me and I listened. I put the jewellery in the box she had given me many moons ago and closed the lid. It wasn’t final. I could still peep inside. I  could still try it on when I was needing her that little bit closer. I could still see her wearing it if I just closed my eyes. I knew also that I could hear her say “come on now, that’s enough, time to let go and do your stuff”, so I put it all away, closed the lid and began to live again.

She told me… she is okay… please hear these words as I cannot say them to your face.

 

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.

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

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….

 

 

Who’s Giving Who

I’m tired. I’m lacking in energy. I’ve done too much.

I hear this all the time when speaking to my clients but when I spoke to a very good friend of mine yesterday and heard myself say the same thing, I was a little taken aback as that is not normal for me. She came back with a wonderful statement “where are you giving from? Are you giving from yourself or giving yourself – a big difference”.  Oooh boy did this make me stop and think.

My work means I give my time, my heart and my energy – it’s how I create space for you to step into and feel safe to breathe and release – but what am I giving away? Am I giving the wrong thing? Am I giving too much and leaving myself with nothing? Am I giving me instead of what is inside me? What exactly am I left with when you are gone?

 

Just take a second to ask yourself the same thing – firstly how many times did you say last week “I’m tired”…. that may have been physically tired, emotionally tired, spiritually tired, mentally tired, energetically tired or just plain tired of others in your life who drain you. You have control… You can say when enough is enough. You can replenish. You have the choice and ability to step back and say “no I’m sorry I can’t do that”. You have the courage inside to move away from those who feed from you like leeches. You are in control…

“I haven’t even the energy to begin….” yes I heard you, but I ask how much longer can you carry on before your body gives up, your mental health is damaged, your emotions overflow and you lose control. If you haven’t the energy to begin, now is exactly the time to take back control and decide whether you give from you or give you. The only person who deserves you right now, is YOU! Without that gift to yourself you have nothing to give anyone else – that could be work, your family, your friends or your community.

If you are an avid list maker, then make a list of all you need to do and decide which are the only ones you can do today. Write down who in your life is draining you and then really think how you manage things differently with them so you share energy, not give it. Listen to your thoughts and the words that leave your lips. Have you just committed time that you don’t have? Where are you stealing it from to give it to them? Who just lost out? Listen to your child – did you hear them asking for help or did you tell them off for whining?  Stop and hug them – childhood lasts for such a short time. Imagine what life will feel like when you wake refreshed. Do you need to attend that meeting – is it value adding to your day? Are you saying yes because you want to or because it looks better or are you obliged to say yes because they have a hold over you?   See the world about you and say thank you for all you have. Look at the most important person in your life and love them – yes look in the mirror!

Do this right and you will soon have enough and be enough and then you can start to think how you give, love, laugh, but from you, and not you as a whole – then you begin… to live!

 

I Can’t Fix You

18 months ago I wanted to fix the world. I wanted to take all those broken people and put them back together. I wanted to stop them all hurting. I wanted to make them feel better about the world and about themselves. I was naive and stupid. I was frustrated when I didn’t see results or those I was supporting just didn’t seem to want to do the work needed, especially when they said they wanted better, more, different. Then it dawned on me…. I cannot fix anyone, but me.

Nowadays I take a totally different approach to what I am born to do – I simply walk alongside, hold the hand of and create space for, those who are ready to fix themselves.

When people come to me, find me, appear on my doorstep (virtual or otherwise) they come because they are ready for change. That may be a change in their lives, a change in their outlook or a change within themselves. When people come to me they don’t have to tell me – we just connect and begin. When people come to me I know, even when they aren’t certain, that we will grow, step out and step forward and we will achieve. When people come to me we create magic in their lives and we enjoy all the excitement and joy this brings.

The day came when I realised that if people want to change they will and that is where I can support them but I cannot fix them. The only role I have is to support, encourage, inspire, protect, wipe away the tears or balance out the frustrations. I cannot take away their pain for them. I cannot promise everything will be fine. I cannot undo all that they have experienced. I cannot give false hope or promises. I can show them, through touch, through listening, through encouragement and through teaching them to breathe and create time, that they can heal, grow, be, feel a better human and be happy.

Once upon a time I wanted to heal the world and fix the broken wings of those who I felt should fly, but soon I realised that it wasn’t about what I wanted, it was what people wanted to do for themselves. It was about how they wanted to make a difference, to them, to their families, to their world. It was all about them. My only job is to create the space for them to explore, let go, discover, and so that is what I do. It makes it difficult when people ask me what I do….. a massage therapist? Yes. A listener? Well yes. A healer? Yes. A facilitator of change? Yes.

But what do I really do? I create space for you to take a breath and begin….

 

 

Acceptance – the key to life?

So many times I have looked in the mirror or at the shadow on the ground and have been appalled at what I saw. This wasn’t me. This was suddenly some middle aged woman who looked sad and angry with the world and that body…. when did that get that shape – where was the bright, happy, beautiful, giggling, young woman? Where did those 30 years go?

So many times…. but no more. Acceptance was the key. When someone stands before you and all they see is that person you felt you were, just a little older, a little wiser, and just as beautiful, they give you permission to love yourself again. You shouldn’t need another to point it out or give permission but sometimes it is all you have – someone else being the mirror you no longer look in.

What comes with acceptance? A fire in your soul that reignites. Laughter, with others and at yourself when needed. Wisdom to know what matters and what doesn’t. Passion for all you can be and the ability to lose the tight grip on what you no longer are. With acceptance you fall back in love with yourself and all you can be today. Yesterday no longer has the same level of importance and tomorrow will be whatever you decide it will be.

“Wise men say only fools rush in but I can’t help falling in love with you. Shall I stay? Would it be a sin if I can’t help falling in love with you? Like a river flows surely to the sea. Darling so it goes. Some things are meant to be. Take my hand, take my whole life too. For I can’t help falling in love with you.”

Acceptance doesn’t make you blind to your faults and flaws, it simply allows you to accept that you have them and move on. No one is perfect – not the models in the magazines, the celebrities living the life you wish you had or the man or woman down the street who seems to have it all. They all have their faults, their weaknesses, their anxieties, their pain and they too need reassurance, confidence boosters and the need for acceptance from those around them. They are people on their own journey and yet you look to them and wonder why you can’t look, be or live like they do…

People on their own journey – just the same as you – this life, this journey, this huge fast moving learning curve that sometimes you wish you could slow down or even put on pause, this is your opportunity to love who you are, who you have become and you have the choice of what happens next. The future, your future, is written only by you and the choices you make. How marvelously exciting to hold that pen and begin to write your own story. To be able to pick up the pen and open the book at a clean page is the ability to know who you are today, accept yourself for what you are, today, and then begin to write….

What’s your first line going to be? Tell me… I really would love to hear your story…