Wonder Woman I aint

Last week I got unusually busy with 8 extra one-on-one coaching calls and write ups to do on top of my normal workload, two workshops, a couple of parents evenings and sick children at home. At first I was super-proud of myself: Look at me, I can do this easy-peasy. See, people, what a mega-efficient person I am! (Yes, I actually boasted to my friends along these lines. Embarrasing).

Ahem….

Well it took about 4 days to discover what rocky ground I was on. This blithe disregard for what I needed to keep on top of my energy came back to bite me and I was reminded (once again) that I am a mere mortal!

So I’ve been on the road to ‘filling my well’ again. First of all lots of rest. Then delicious snatched moments with my book (Cloud Atlas – loving it). Movie-nights at home with the children and Guy. Then going on a day-trip to Gloucester on Saturday (these family moments always feed me). Then today I did a lot of collaging which I love. Tomorrow I will take myself off for a solo date (a walk, cafe and writing probably). I wouldn’t have to do so much normally but I’m in catch-up mode!

Making sure you fill your well is vital. Neglecting yourself is like trying to drive your car on empty. What lovely thing have you done for yourself today? Make sure you do at least one thing to treat yourself – give yourself some space (even if it’s just 10 minutes) to spend quality time with you and you. It’s worth its weight in gold and ensures you won’t crash in the way I did this week.

 

 

 

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?

 

Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.

 

 

And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called thehappinessexperiment.co.uk . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown

 

I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.

It don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing

Another song, another post! (If you want to listen while you read, here it is – sung by Rosemary Clooney):

https://rd.io/i/QUCFXzeASns

What got me thinking about this today was the realisation that things feel a lot sweeter when we’ve experienced the opposite emotion. For instance, doesn’t a windfall feel better when we’ve been short of money for a while? Isn’t a kind word or laughter all the more precious when we’ve been feeling blue?

Life would be pretty flat if we were to be on an even keel all the time. It’s through the swings that we get a sense of ourselves. Like a pendulum we get to experience our furthest reaches and explore what works for us and what doesn’t. It’s a constant state of refinement and fine-tuning. Each time we reach an extreme and feel discomfort, we learn that that is our boundary and we adjust. Coming back to centre gives relief – joy even – but it’s not long before we want to test our boundaries again. Because that is the essence of being human – expansion. All living things have the innate and automatic urge to grow. It’s not something we can fight for long. If we do fight our own growth then eventually Nature will force us to expand, even despite ourselves. For me this is what illness is – we resist and Nature says, “Right – off to bed with you until you get that something has to shift here”.

So don’t fight the ups and downs, the to-ing and fro-ing. Instead I suggest we welcome the swings and congratulate ourselves for being active in our own evolution – this delicious journey of human-being-ness.

Who’s your travelling companion?

I heard this great metaphor today which I thought I’d share with you. It’s about the way we treat ourselves and a great reminder to be kind.

Imagine that you are about to go on a 5 day road trip with someone who’s recently been fired from their job. You really like this friend but right now you’re dreading this journey because you know it’s going to hard for her/him not to spend the whole time going over the pain of it all. This is your holiday and although you want to be supportive you’d also hoped to have a bit of fun!

Now imagine going on the same journey with a friend who’s feeling alive, frisky, joyous! You can’t wait because you know that this friend will bring a whole new dimension to things and above all make the holiday the fun ride you’d hoped for.

So often it’s the former friend we take along on our life’s journey. We put up listening to all our internal woes and anxieties when really we want to tap into that part of ourselves that is childlike, exuberant, excited and wise.

So we need to ask ourselves, ‘Which travelling companion do we choose?’

And …. shameless plug here …. if you’re interested in being with this joyous side of you more often, why not get in touch with him/her through my program, Future Self Now!

 

 – With thanks to Abraham Hicks –
 

A whole new ball-game

On Saturday my daughter becomes a teenager and today, as if in anticipation of that great event, we had to have our first ever serious heart-to-heart.

It’s a humbling thing watching your children grow and blossom into their own people, and not without its own sadness too. Once upon a time this young lady was my “little girl”, so cute, so delightful and, I hate to say it, but… so amenable. Gone are the days when she will take me at my word and obey without too much of a fuss!

It turns out Julia has had her own idea about how things should go with her life for a few weeks now and that’s led to the need for our heart-to-heart today. Julia is making a break for her independance and although my first instinct was to mete out punishment for her misdemeanours I’m glad to say I checked myself and decided to get advice from my oldest sister who’s been here before. Good move. Thanks Caroline!

With Caroline’s help I saw that I had created the situation somewhat by holding on too tightly to Julia – so much so that she resorted to cloak-and-dagger behaviour under the assumption that I wouldn’t listen to her needs. Hmmm. I talked to Julia about this, this afternoon and it went very well. She has accepted (even welcomed) the consequences of her actions (pocket money taken away etc.) but I have also promised her that I will make myself more available to listen in future so that she doesn’t feel she has to go behind my back.

Gosh, that was scary there for a minute! I realised that I’d found myself in a different room in Julia’s castle and I wasn’t prepared for the change of scene at all. Teenage-hood. A whole different game! I welcome it, but I’m clear I’ve got a lot to learn and I really couldn’t have a better teacher than my wonderful daughter, Julia.

Life as a mountain river

I love the analogy of a mountain river for our lives. We talk about the importance of  ‘going with the flow’ but of course life will bring up blockages. It’s the nature of things and part of the fun of living. None of us want our rivers to be straight and featureless and we certainly don’t want them to stagnate. We didn’t come here to get things done, we came for the thrill of the journey.

Where there are rocks and eddies in our rivers the energy of the river picks up and becomes more powerful. The same is true in our lives. There’s that old saying, “what doesn’t kill me will make me strong”. It’s a dramatic way of putting it but true nonetheless.  If we can still fog a mirror then we will have rocks in our river. Some of these will feel jaggedy and huge, some will have become smoothed and rounded over time. If we keep our rivers full of water, (i.e. we attend to ourselves and attempt to live as close to our truth as possible), then a lot of these rocks will simply be submerged and become harmless. If our water levels are down, (because we are overwhelmed by circumstances and negative emotions), then all these rocks will stick up and get in the way of the flow.

It is normal and healthy for us to have rocks in our river – without these our flow would not have an opportunity to pick up energy – just don’t let your water levels go down so far that these rocks hinder the flow to the point that life feels like a trickle!

The #1 Happiness Secret

Yesterday I woke up and gradually watched a cloud lift from above my head. It floated off into the sky leaving me feeling lighter and yes, happier.

Mind you, the cloud didn’t lift until I had given myself a good mental beating-up. How could I have forgotten this most vital of happiness attributes? How could I have forgotten my own bleedin’ advice?!

Crazy isn’t it? We can know something, but go too far down a false trail and all that knowledge just disappears. My false trail was the pursuit of ‘figuring out’ how to have my Future Self Now program reach a much wider audience. The pursuit of this in the last few weeks has led me deeper and deeper down a dark labyrinthe littered with marketing and business development frustration and of course all those expert opinions that more recently did my head in. The further I went into this tunnel, the more I lost sight of what’s really needed here:

PRESENCE

I know this and I lost it! In the Future Self Now work I talk about ‘Knowing and Flowing’ – the idea that once we know Who We Really Are, all there is to do is to get out of our own way and let what so naturally wants to come to us, come. As soon as I woke up yesterday and realised that I had simply to approach each day with an intention of being as present as possible to each moment, everything lifted. The relief.

Suddenly I could be with my children – properly, rather than seeing them as kind of to-do lists on legs. Homework? Tick. Fed and watered? Tick. Prepared for the school day? Tick. ‘Now off you go so I can get down to the weighty issues crowding my mind’. Yuck!

I know I’ve mentioned this before but there’s a wonderful mantra that I need to keep uppermost in my mind:

THERE WILL BE A BEAUTIFUL UNFOLDING HERE TODAY

It works wonders. When we sit back, (not inactive but mentally and emotionally spacious), then the Universe is just waiting to help us have our days pan out perfectly for us. This always works for me, its just, as I say, I sometimes forget! Appointments that I really need shifting, get shifted after a call from the other party asking to rebook. A need for a knotty logistical issue to get sorted becomes untangled after an unexpected offer of help, and so on.

NOW. Now. NOW. Now.NOW…….. alll there is is now. Are you experiencing your experience of the NOW or looking so far ahead you don’t see it pass you by?

Could this be the #1 Happiness ‘secret’? I think its a very strong contender. I really hope I don’t forget this again. I may well, of course but I hope I can start to develop a muscle around returning to presence more speedily each time.

The breadcrumb trail

The house is in reasonable shape, the washing done, children have been picked up from school, fed and homeworked. Had a lovely lunch out with a friend for her birthday. Met some awesome new people. Sometimes happiness simply comes from things going according to plan and smoothly!

The challenge, as we’ve discussed before, comes more when things feel unexpected and messy. I still love the idea of making it a point to ‘include’ these experiences. Another concept to consider is the ‘reframe’….

 

  • What’s another way of looking at this?
  • In what way is what has just happened to you, perfect?
  • What opportunities could spring out of the learning you are getting from this experience?
  • When you see this moment through the eyes of your Future Self what would he/she say about it? (“Ah, yes, I remember this! This was when I understood that what I really love is ….. )

In Future Self terms any so-called set-back is, in fact, a very clear moment of asking. In other words in these times when things seem to be going wrong what we are saying is, “what I really want is very different to this”. This energetic request is what helps shape who our Future Self is – Who We Really Are.

For instance, if you see a large telephone bill and have a reaction against it, you know then that you are a person who loves a degree of financial stability.  Great! Your Future Self, then, has no problem with money.

Sound a bit simplistic? The thing is that we often get stuck in patterns of lack and resignation about our fate. If we acknowledge instead that these feelings are not who we really are, (not, as I would put it, aligned with our Future Self), then we are half-way to finding a way forward.

“If this is not Me then what actions can I take now that are more aligned with Me and my Future Self?”

So next time something goes awry – welcome it. Reframe it. It all helps define who you really are. It all gives you clues about how to act now.

Follow this breadcrumb trail – it leads to your Future Self!

 

 

Coming back to home and heart

We’ve had a lovely time with family and dear friends this weekend but in between times Guy, the kids and I have all been a bit snappy with each other. Roll on the Christmas holidays – I think we’re all in need of slowing down.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year but I always feel that we’re not alone in pushing ourselves too hard in November and early December. I think June is like this too – lots of push-push and outward focus. But then comes late December and July/August – times when we more naturally take a breath and come back to ourselves.

Our tree is now up and tonight a fire is burning in the hearth. “Come”, they say, “time to focus on family, home and heart”.

The power of comfort

Today the children went back to school. Ahhh – time to myself!

I so value having moments absolutely alone in the house. This morning I had to let myself read my book a little, lie in a bath after the gym and just breathe out a bit. It did me the power of good.

After a stressful half-term and the worry about the preparation for my talk, I realise I am in the ‘Comfort’ stage of the Comfort-Nurture-Action scale. This is such a vital stage along the road to meaningful and productive action, I find. If I don’t feel I’ve taken care of myself, really listened to what I need, then I get burnt out, tired and often run around in circles feeling busy but achieving very little.

Never underestimate the power of a bath and a good book!