Finding a new job for my brain

There’s been a  lot going on of late – workshops, webinar preparations, coaching, school initiatives, business planning – on top of the normal running of family and home. I don’t say this for sympathy – we’re all busy and I’m no different – it’s just that my response to this growth in busy-ness has been one of defensiveness. It’s as if I’ve been afraid of the expansion – afraid it will consume me. Ironically, I realise, it’s my fear that’s been getting all the air-play and taking up a large chunk of my time rather than the activities themselves.

Byron Katie asks us:

 “Who would you be without that thought?”.

So who would I be without the thought “I’m too stretched. I’m afraid I might burn out”? I’d be in-the-moment, taking one step at a time, open, lighter – in other words, I’d be free of mental clutter that’s preventing me from getting things done.

Working with this over the last couple of days I’ve realised I need a new context. It’s not enough to say that I’m happy to just roll with the punches – that’s too passive. I want to invent a new context that feels more creative and pro-active.

It reminds me of this poem by Hafiz:

Find a better job
Now
That
All your worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.
 

So what shall my new context be? I had a good ol’ write about this this afternoon. What new intentionality can I bring to my every-day? I went around the houses a bit but finally I got it. For me, right now, it’s all about Play.

I looked at my Future Self and her way of being for clues. I came up with words like ‘light-hearted’, ‘relaxed’, ‘spacious’, ‘silly’. Recently, whenever I interact with my Future Self, she’s been having a great time taking the mickey out of me. A week ago I asked her to give me some wisdom on something I was struggling with and I watched her as she solemnly led me to a room which had a huge ancient book sitting on a high table. I waited in eager anticipation of the profound wisdom she would impart to me from these ancient teachings. Slowly she turned to a page in the middle of the book … and out shot a party balloon – farting loudly as it disappeared over her shoulder. She looked up and grinned at me. The message was clear – “lighten up, T.!”

I’m sure I’ve been down this road several times before – you’ve probably heard me tell of it more than once in this blog – but it seems I need to get this lesson in all its various and technicolour guises: Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously.

So how do I do that exactly?

  • Well, first of all I’ve put a big sign up in my bedroom: PLAY!
  • Secondly I’m going to meditate a lot more.
    • I’m finally getting the message about meditation. It’s about clearing the channel, giving myself a breather from my significance-hungry brain. I heard a great thing from Abraham Hicks this week: ‘saying you’re too busy to meditate is like saying you’re too busy to find your car keys and that you’d prefer to walk instead.’ Nice one!
  • More Artist’s Dates! (see The Artist’s Way)
  • Listen to more show tunes
  • Dance
  • Watch and learn from my children

What I really want is some kind of out-sized, plastic blow-up hammer floating over my head that activates whenever I get too naval-gazy or meaning-making. One swift thwack to the skull should be enough to wake me up and remind me of all this.

*Sigh* In the absence of said hammer it might be that I come back here a few times before I finally get close to my Future Self’s level of glorious irreverance, but hey, I suppose it would be a very good start to just let go of making that mean anything!

 

 

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 White Room

So, following on from my last post and all that I’ve been exploring recently, I wanted to tell you about what I’m calling my ‘White Room’.

It turns out that the most alive and free we can be is from a place of space. Nothing. Zilch. Just space. If you are an accomplished meditator then you know this place well. But even if you don’t meditate you might have had a wee taste of it in those moments when we find yourself staring out of the window, mouth slightly open, eyes glazed over, in a kind of daze. No-one at home – just you, unaware of anything. These moments are fleeting but it’s something worth cultivating. Because it’s in these moments that we are completely FREE!

  • No assumptions
  • No past
  • No future
  • No doubts, fears, judgements….

Just ….. nothing.

This is what I’m calling my White Room. If I can go to my white room then I can sit and calmly decide, in my own time, and only if I want to, how to furnish my room. In other words I get to choose exactly what I create in this space. And because it’s empty – there is no end to the possiblities. The sky’s the limit!

I’m trying a new practice of going to my White Room whenever I can – particularly if I’m starting to feel mentally and emotionally overcrowded. Today was a good case in point. I was stuck in the x-ray department of the local hospital (Sasha’s getting braces) and watched as the waiting room filled twice over with people who all got seen to before us. I complained twice but to no avail. I was fuming! But then I remembered my White Room. I went in their and felt it all drop away. I didn’t stay in there for more than a minute or so but it helped me calm down enormously. Most importantly it helped me decide: “Now that all this frustration and everything to do with it, is stripped away – what is it I really want to create here?”

Try it yourself. And don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear!

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.

‘Abundance is our Future’

As you know, I’m on an information detox at the moment. Everyday I unsubscribe from approximately 4 newsletter/email shots. (Wow – they really did build up over the years!). I have moved all my inspirational books away from my bedside table and down to the sitting room, (thanks for that advice, Lesley). I can’t recommend this enough. It has been wonderful to regain some head-space.

When I ran workshops based on Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way’ I knew that week 4 of the 12-week course would always be the most challenging. Why? Because that was the week that participants were asked to cut out all outside input in the form of TV, Radio, books etc. It was such a picture to see everyone’s faces when I announced this: “You mean, I can’t even read the newspaper in the morning? I HAVE to do that. How else will I keep informed?” Yet, if people trusted the exercise and did banish all reading and watching, it proved to be huge. Suddenly they only had themselves to listen to. Suddenly they could hear what their heart was really saying. Suddenly those cupboards that they had been meaning to clear out for years, finally got cleared out!

It’s not that all media input is bad – of course not. It’s just that we can so easily lose perspective when we are surrounded by these outside voices. In this ever-expanding, increasingly open world of ours, I personally think this is going to be one of our biggest personal challenges in the future.

In the video below, Peter Diamandis gives a stirring speech about why we can expect abundance in the future. It’s well worth a watch – especially if anyone is of the mindset that we’re ‘going to the dogs’. But what I’m also interested in is the question: How do we equip our souls to deal with this kind of abundance? Will we develop increased powers of Presence to go with the explosion of opportunities and choices available to us? We’re talking about the need, here, for a whole new spiritual abundance to go alongside the physical and technological explosion. I’m optimistic because, so far, spiritual awareness and practice has expanded exponentially. It’s very exciting to think what this could mean for spiritual innovation in the future.

A surfeit of wisdom

On my bedside table there lies a secret hazard. Not pills, not booze, not false teeth – self-help books.


Oh what a lot of amazing stuff there is out there! So much insight and wisdom. It seems the inspirational gold is coming in thicker and faster than ever before. The downside is that I find myself drowning in it all.

The problem is drawing a line between that which serves us and the loss of our own self-trust. It’s all too easy to relinquish our power to other’s advice and stop listening to ourselves.

So for my own sanity right now I’m putting it all to one side: the books, the emails, the audio downloads, the knock-em-dead online courses. Just temporarily, mind, because it IS all great stuff. But it’s time to listen more deeply to myself for a while and to regain my perspective.

The fact that I’m needing this head space in order to write my own book at the moment is an irony that is not lost on me. I can only hope that my eventual addition to the positive psychology soup is one that clarifies rather than muddies!

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”.

Dealing with festive fever

After my last post Kelly left this comment:

…would love a happiness post on dealing with Christmas, I feel very mixed about the whole business, and the pressure of “presents’ and expectations, real or imagined.

Ah yes, Christmas! ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Jolly busy.

I sympathise with Kelly who lives in Canada because, it has to be said, many North Americans do go a bit bonkers with it all.

It can all get a bit frenzied. As Kelly says, expectations can be so high. So here’s my top tip for dealing with things at this time of year:

Do the festivities on your own terms

If you want to skip sending out Christmas cards this year – by all means!

If you want to go to the Bahamas and forget it all – spread your wings and fly.

If you want to visit family in the spring rather than dashing around like a mad thing now – that’s OK too.

It’s far better that you do what really appeals to you than to spend your time scowling over the fatted turkey. Your relatives will have a much better time without you, to be frank!

What I love about my family is that we all do our own thing with the present buying. Some go lavish, some buy in second hand shops, some buy online, some make things by hand, some don’t buy anything at all. (We’re a big family!) I remember one year we all received presents  from the ancient contents of my brother-in-law’s mother’s attic. She’d recently had a clear out and saw an opportunity. Wonderful!

So what do you REALLY want to do this festive season? Claim it as your own. It’s much kinder to everyone involved to have a happy version of you participating (or not!) – than to expect them to deal with you feeling all bitter and twisted about it.

Choose your version of things and have a jolly good time doing it!

The swing of things

I’ve spent the last two days in bed due to heavy cold. For that reason this isn’t a long post but I just wanted to share how it occurs to me, as I take care of myself as best I can, that sometimes we need to be concious of the pendulum-swing of things. What I mean by this is, that if we really push ourselves over a project or through a tough time, it’s extremely important to follow that up with a pendulum swing the other way – to self-care and recovery – as soon as possible afterwards.

After the Advent Fair a couple of weeks ago it would have been better if I’d allowed myself more than the one day I gave myself off. Swing, swing. Oh, well, now the cold is making sure I get plenty of ‘me’ time! Next year I’d like to see if I can get it without the illness though!

 

 

Fired up by community

Apologies for the sporadic posts this week. Saturday is the kids’ school’s Advent Fair and I’m the main co-ordinator for it. This is the week where all the bugs in the system crawl out of the woodwork and bite us in the bum!

So, busy-busy, but I do love it. There is something about a community project that gets me all fired up. When we experience ourselves as sharing in something for the greater good it is immensely uplifting and really helps to expand our self-definition. Groups have their challenges for sure (there’s always a ‘personality’ that throws a spanner into the works!) but when the group overcome difficulties together it makes the achievement of that joint goal even sweeter.

I love this video – I wonder what it took to pull this off in the community!