Keep your eyes on your own prize

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Hello World ūüôā

I thought I would start with the inspirational quote this time ūüôā

This post is as much for me right at this moment as anything else. ¬†I did 2 things this week that I intuitively knew might affect me negatively…but curiosity got the better of me.

1) I sought out someone via FB that really, it would have been better not to have done. ¬†All that exercise did was inform me via images of things I had no idea or understanding about, but gave me time to try and find clues and answers that I really didn’t need. ¬†It opened me up to a lot of negative energy that I could feel¬†as I was engaging in this activity…so I stopped exactly what I was doing and left it alone. ¬†Was it judgement? ¬†Maybe, it wasn’t a standard comparison because I know given all the criteria I would not wish to trade places or be involved in that life at all, yet curiously it still holds a voyeuristic appeal. ¬†Maybe it is a form of comparison- to assure me I am not missing out, or that my Ego can be kept happy knowing I am doing ok…

2) A photographer I am aware of and greatly admire professionally has launched their website.  I clicked through to view the website and as I expected it was brilliant.  Now this is where things changed a little bit.  Whereas in the first example I was distant despondent because I felt on the periphery of a life being lived that I am far away from, this time I felt much closer to the despondency.  It was a lot more of a standard comparison and ultimately I came away feeling a lot worse about myself.

I thought about it for a moment and I realised that without a counterbalance, this would continue to affect my self esteem because envy will creep in. ¬†Actually I have no right to feel envious of someone who has worked their socks off to create their dream…because I have exactly the same amount of hours in a day that they do. ¬†Debbie Wright wrote about this ¬†last month for Stewardship.

She writes: “…dissatisfaction nearly always comes along with its cousin – comparison. ¬†So, how do we rid ourselves of dissatisfaction and comparison? We know that Jesus says come to me and I will give you rest, but how does that actually work out?¬† Paul gives us a big clue in his letter to the Philippians:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:11-12, NIV

In all his different circumstances, Paul has learnt to be content.¬† The key word here is ‚Äėlearned‚Äô. Contentment doesn‚Äôt come easily to us or easily to Paul; he learnt it and so can we. To learn to be content, we have to start with our own lives, here and now in this moment, in this day, in these circumstances, and we do this by expressing thanks. When we express heartfelt thanks, we begin to notice a feeling of gratitude.

The counterbalance to dissatisfaction, and its close relative comparison, is gratitude, and along with gratitude comes contentment.”

How wise! ¬†This is how I chose to deal with my professional comparison, I immediately reached out to the person in question to congratulate them on such a beautiful website. ¬†And it did indeed evoke positivity all round. ¬†Now instead of dwelling what I feel I do not have I am thinking about what I do have and how I STILL wouldn’t want to trade places with either of the people I was comparing against. ¬†I am me and I am where I am because I am a product of complex genetic wiring and programming plus a vast array of life experiences. ¬†My life is unique to me and if there are areas I would like to be better at or I would like to drop, it is up to me to change them.

3 lots of gratitude:

  1. Such a brilliant end to a marathon 10 months redundancy period, we went to the legendary Mancunian Ikea did 3 laps before we found the door, went in the exit, drank raspberry lemonade and ate strange green marzipan in customer services and then realised we were at the total wrong floor of the store. 3 hours later and we finally finished our shop, treated for tea at Chiquitos by the one and only wing man and then Googlebox and a cuppa.
  2. I bought a new coffee mug made of tempered glass from Ikea- it is going to make my mornings enjoyable.
  3. For having a massive bedroom that truly feels like a space I can lie back, dream, sleep, imagine and create without needing to move.

And on that note, I think I will go to find that place halfway between life and dreaming.

Helen

XX

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Keep your eyes on your own prize

Age of Discovery

Hello World,

So, as I was saying in my last post, I’ve been having a wake-up call to life, to living, to coming alive.

Generally in life, I would describe myself as being relatively self aware so in that respect I am looking to constantly improve and develop as a person… I also realise that change takes time.

I was thinking about this post today and what thoughts I wanted to put into words. ¬†I began to wonder if I could pinpoint where and when these thoughts came from, was there a lightening bolt moment I suppose. ¬†I realised there was something…(isn’t hindsight useful ūüôā ) it was my 34th birthday and that day in work I embarked on some Appreciative Inquiry (A.I) training. ¬†I didn’t realise at the time quite how significant this work related training was going to be on a hugely personal level. ¬†This was the starting point of a transition period.

You can Google for more in depth reading on A.I, but the essence of it is to move away from problem solving and instead notice positives. ¬†Instead of writing¬†questionnaires with pre-set questions that already guide your audience, dispose of the questionnaire and ask the broad question “Tell me about a time when life was great!”. ¬†Generate a conversation where everything they remember to be positive and work from there.

Whether or not their content is correct is another matter it is about directing resources into the positives rather than firefighting from a negative starting point.

That one exercise led me to walk away from an 11 year career because I realised in one moment it stopped being fun 3 years previously and for me, fun is something I cannot live without.

Walking away from the comfort zone of a miserable job is still a shock to the system no matter how awful the situation. ¬†Soon after leaving¬†I began to¬†surround myself¬†with ‘safe’ people. ¬†By safe I mean those who accept you for who you are without judgement, without feeding their ego or yours, who tell you the truth, who keep an eye on you and look out for you, who genuinely want to help (if and when they can) who don’t tell you lies- and by lies I include those ineffective well-meaning phrases (“plenty more fish in the sea, oh don’t worry, something will turn up, it will all work out!”) people who use their intuition when they speak and are able to remove themselves from the equation¬†when¬†helping you. ¬†Sometimes you are able to be a safe person for them in return but it isn’t always that way and vice versa.

The importance of this step is you are ok to be yourself, you do not need to be guarded, you can begin to explore your thoughts, bounce ideas around and plan your next move.  I would suggest this is particularly important for creatives who can suffer negatively in isolation, after all it is hugely difficult to inspire or motivate yourself when you feel alone.

I began to read more inspirational quotes and whilst they sounded nice, they tended to evoke a sense of fake-hype (which is why I am using them a lot in this blog, I like the sense of irony ūüôā ).

This.

See, all very nice and everything, just very…Instagram? ¬†One the one hand- yes! ¬†I resonate with that sentence, I want the plan and the intention sounds good- and on the other-¬†how. ¬†What are the steps?

I revisited The Five Ways to Wellbeing* which had previously made great strides within Public Health.

(*The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of evidence-based actions which promote people’s wellbeing. They are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice,Keep Learning and Give. These activities are simple things individuals can do in their everyday lives.)

Whilst these held tangible suggestions for actions I still felt like I was missing something,¬†I already followed a few lifestyle bloggers, I was reading articles about people who had somehow managed to achieve the lifestyle of their dreams, and gradually it began to feel like I was discovering something- a way of thinking that at times seemed obvious, sometimes it seemed like normal behaviour, but some of it was new. ¬†Some of it I hadn’t considered in a new way. ¬†I also realised that like the Five Ways before it, Mindfulness is having a moment right now.

One question I returned to from a variety of sources:  What does success look like?

Recently one of my friend sent me a link to a video.  It is called The Abundance Factor and is full of interviews with experts in mindfulness from all across America and Canada.  There were lots of overlapping ideas and running themes throughout, like how the act of appreciation is voluntary, it is to be encouraged to actively and openly practise appreciation and gratitude.  The flow of success and happiness are linked and tied into into abundance.

One of the exercises from one of the experts was each morning:

  1. Think of 10 things you are grateful for
  2. Send love to three people who are bothering you
  3. Be quiet for 5 mins and ask for direction for the day.

He suggested this practise drastically altered situations in a positive way for his clients.

Finally the experts were asked, if you could go back 20 years to yourself, what advice would you give yourself?  There were many answers but most centred on not worrying.

“It all works out”

“lighten up, you can’t do it wrong- stop stressing over which path”

“love yourself”

“let it go”

Interesting thoughts! ¬†I’m going to leave this here for now, and maybe add to it next time. ¬†But I am definitely going to try the 3 point exercise and see if I notice any differences.

Laters ūüôā

Helen XX

 

Age of Discovery

Renaissance

Hello World,

At the risk of sounding X-Factor, I’m on a journey. ¬†A literal rebirth,¬†a personal revival and renewed interest in something. ¬†It feels time to start trying to put words to thoughts, feelings, ideas… apologies in advance if I seem to skip about in my examples and thoughts, it really is a complete snapshot right now.

Personal bit.

It would probably help to give context to me at this moment in time, I am in my mid thirties, I was brought up in a Christian home and today I am a Born-Again Christian.  I accepted Jesus as my saviour in my mid twenties, I became spirit filled a couple of years later and shortly after that had a water baptism.  I have the gift of tongues as edification to the Church but I am praying for the subsequent gift of interpretation in words as well as spirit, I have seen the power of prayer, I have felt healing, I believe in miracles and I truly believe in life after death.  I live knowing there is a spiritual realm and I believe not everything on Earth is good.  I do believe in evil and I feel it is important to stand firm against this and align with the conviction of my faith in bigger hands.

Leonardo-da-Vinci-quotes

I’ve been wanting to write something for a while about this exploration. ¬†The thing is, right here and now it is all a bit of a jumble which is precisely why I haven’t written any of this down yet (you know, until it is all perfect…). ¬†At this point in time it is unhelpful to not¬†be writing anything, so I guess something is better than nothing and who knows, I might look back and have a greater understanding of the bigger picture.

Perfect and divine timing.

I have a very good friend who works for the American military, he once told me about the various tours of Iraq he had been part of.  He described the ongoing feelings of groundhog day, the difficulties he faced, being away from home, but interestingly he said that on one particular tour, he felt like everything he had ever learned, understood, known and attained had brought him to a place in time where everything just worked.  He loved the work he did, the flow was natural, the people he worked with were fantastic and the whole thing just filled him with a profound positive energy.

I’ve never forgotten that. ¬†Even in a black and white text only email that idea resonated with me. ¬†Some people may have different ideas, but I believe all people wish to be understood, valued, respected and accepted. ¬†I get caught up time after time over explaining, giving far too much detail and information about my life away purely in an attempt to make myself fully understood, even when I don’t want to disclose even a fraction of that given.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about this- if I take this need to be understood as a base need (or foundation) in most people then quite quickly it is easy to spot how¬†layers stack onto that base. ¬†A bit like different colours of lego one on top of another on top of another. ¬†Very soon disguised amongst the layers of genetics, physicalities, environment, the black and white layers begin to get a bit merged, identity crops up and one of those very subtle layers is Ego.

Until December 2015, I thought ego was a noun to describe self-importance, something that was negative and conjured up ideas of balloon heads and pride. ¬†Then¬†I heard it used differently at a ‘spirituality un-conference’ run by #HigherSelfie in London.

I was made aware of the event because I had been following¬†Louise Androlia for over a year, although it took me over a month to decide not only that I wanted to attend the event, but actually that I was allowed to go…more about that¬†tomorrow. ¬†Louise had moved to LA and I knew this would probably be the only chance I would get to meet her in person,¬†What came out of the day for me was more than an eye-opener, so many new ideas, thoughts (some that surprised and shocked me), affirmative decisions and a nagging feeling I needed to know more, all came up to the surface- ego as more than a noun was one of them.

ego

There were  4 life coaches each speaking about something close to their hearts.  Louise Androlia on Feeling your feelings, Lucy Sheridan on living a comparison free life, Kate Taylor on using your power to gain confidence and Jo Westwood on the ultimate ego coat check.  You can read more about #HigherSelfie here.

On the day, I listened and made notes, I intellectually¬†understood everything they all said, but in terms of connection I¬†only really heard Louise. ¬†The same part of me who questioned my own permission to attend also questioned my own permission to listen unguarded…again, more on¬†that tomorrow. ¬†It was when I left the building and got on the train home I began to percolate my head around everything else, not only from the speakers but conversations I had had with other delegates. ¬†I began to look up some of the words I had written down to dig deeper and open myself in a brand new way.

I Googled quite a bit, jumped from blogs to websites to Youtube and back. ¬†And then a strange thing started to happen,¬†I began to see all these ideas all over the place. ¬†A bit like when you latch on to a new trend or colour that isn’t mainstream and suddenly you are seeing, hearing, feeling it everywhere. ¬†I ended up sitting next to strangers who disclosed phrases like ‘The Law of Attraction’ or ‘Vibrations out into The Universe’, people I had known for years on Facebook suddenly unprompted began to share their own journey over the last few years which used this same language. ¬†For the first time in a long time it felt like I was tuning into some sort of frequency, I was simultaneously curious and scared.

A number of years ago, I attended a Women Aglow conference. ¬†There was a spirit filled woman at the front giving a demonstration of expressing her spirit through dance and song. ¬†It was really beautiful, especially in the company of women only. ¬†Later, during her testimony she said “To hear the Holy Spirit, it takes time to tune in, like a radio, getting tuned in to His voice, hearing clearly from Him”. ¬†I’ve never ever forgotten that, and since my own filling, I know that feeling of tuning the radio in a large corporate gathering, but on a personal one to one, I do struggle. ¬†Suddenly I find myself with this heart cry, this desire within me beginning¬†to feel real, stronger, physically as though my spirit is¬†growing within me.

I will pick this back up in my next post,

And so to bed ūüôā

Helen XX

 

Renaissance

Fear and worry

Hello World,

This morning I woke up fearful.  Quite strange really, but yet another symptom of feeling on the outside of normal (in this context- unemployed).

It doesn’t matter how many people tell me there is no such a thing as normal…I don’t actually believe it in my heart. ¬†Surely there are norms? ¬†Like expected ways to behave, expected clothing to wear and suggested times to be awake and time to be asleep.

Three times in the last fortnight two friends and a neighbour have each passed a judgement statement that let me know they assumed I ought to be awake sooner than I actually was.  Each time I was utterly bemused.  Why on earth would they assume I would be awake?  Yet there it is- assumed normals.

fear-quotes-pinterest-628

I cannot swim, and I am afraid of the dark. ¬†Put me in water up to my neck and my body will begin to hyperventilate, in that respect I can understand the danger I could be in given I cannot swim and save myself in deep water. ¬†Put me in a dark room where I cannot see my hand in front of my face and again, my body will begin to hyperventilate. ¬†I cannot pinpoint any known experience that has led to this irrational behaviour, yet¬†there it is- I am afraid of these situations yet¬†day-to-day living does not require me to face these fears at all (hardly ever) so I don’t worry about them.

The irrational fear today stems from a prolonged period of¬†feeling ¬†on the outside of a normal¬†routine, an irrational thought creeps into my head “You will never make it back to normality!” is that actually a danger? ¬†And besides, ¬†it¬†can’t actually be true. ¬†Life is never static for long, I know this from living life. ¬†I guess it depends where I want to emphasise the inflection. ¬†“I haven’t done a paid job since last September :(“ or “I haven’t done a paid job since September, and¬†I’ve paid all my bills without benefits!”

I remember a time before I was engaged I tended to allow myself to think about meeting someone over and over and over. ¬†Eventually I tried to force matters with my own hand, all this did was lead me to become addicted to dating. ¬†It didn’t actually answer the worry I had “You might end up single forever” (which for the record I actually would have been totally ok with) but I became slightly obsessed on one track thinking and my ham fisted approach brought me to a very different place. ¬†All those years people told me “It will happen when you least expect” I kind of now understand that with the wisdom of age. ¬†Honestly it is the worst thing to hear in your 20’s though.

I am interested in the fear though, this irrational fear at least. ¬†What does it consist of? Presumably perceived threat, perceived danger, and the emotional response to that…learned behaviour and also worry?

What is worry?  Anxieties or troubling thoughts about actual or potential problems.  And who sets these problems?  Is it me?

Right now there is too much here to make sense of, and it is 2.15am. ¬†I’ll go to sleep and hopefully make some sense of this tomorrow ūüôā

Night!

Helen XX

 

 

Fear and worry

Adventure

Hello World ūüôā

In May 2015 I had the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy and leave behind an 11 year career in the public sector.  I took the decision to leave.

That was a pretty easy statement to write but I can tell you the amount of time and energy it took me to be able to decide that was immense.  Many other colleagues were also leaving their careers behind but some of them through compulsory redundancy and in that respect our paths had a slightly different feel.

I thought so long and so hard about the decision it began to intrude into other aspects of my life, my¬†whole mental space became preoccupied with the question “Do I stay or do I go?” ¬†which opened up¬†“What happens if I go, will I get another job, will I be able to manage financially, what will everyone think?” and then I¬†arrived back at “Do I stay or do I go?”.

I began to dream about work colleagues, I was plagued with doubts and what-if’s (the negative type), “should this be a choice? ¬†Is it better to wait until the compulsory axe comes down?” ¬†In that respect the blame for ‘whatever happens next’ is squarely dealt to the employer rather than self.

I now recognise a vast amount of those questions were wrapped up within personal institutionalisation, and the general negativity that the work force has towards redundancy. ¬†No matter how many times higher management and HR departments repeated the mantra “there are opportunities” no one actually believed that, especially in a situation where the vast majority of people are watching from the sidelines secretly relieved it isn’t them. ¬†The official language surrounding this area (at risk, deleted, competing for jobs)¬†only further compounds the negativity.

In any relationship there is a profound difference between an enforced ending and leaving of one’s own accord.

For me, somewhere underneath all of that… were the threads of a small sparkle. ¬†A deep rooted quiet ongoing hum, the type of feeling that leads to the bigger question of¬†what-if (the magical type). ¬†It wasn’t a lightening bolt, an apparition, a word of knowledge, a sign or a certainty ¬†But it was there and I could feel it. ¬†And it felt right. ¬†12 months prior, Louise Androlia¬†had given me the advice “follow what feels right”.

sometimes

It felt risky, it felt daring, it felt exciting and it was definitely unusual. ¬†The very definition of adventure. ¬†And guess what, I’d forgotten all that. ¬†Somewhere in my safe world I believed that adventure came in risk-free safe packages. ¬†They have start dates and end dates and you ‘have them’. ¬†Well guess what again, not always.

I suppose there are three types of adventure.

One is an event.  It usually involves outdoors and some form of extreme sports.  If you imagined a Google images page it would usually look like a lone figure with a backpack standing on top of a mountain with a sunset in the background.

The second is life.  These are the kind of adventures my life has been littered with.  I have lived believing I am right where I ought to be and taken advantage of opportunities as they have come my way.

The third is probably known to everyone at some stage in their life. ¬†It mixes both types and consists of living whilst planning for adventures as events. ¬†Songwriters have¬†long since¬†written about this subject, Beautiful Boy¬†by John Lennon states “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. ¬† Colin Hay captured something of this in his song ‘Waiting For My Real Life To Begin’ worth a listen although I have always thought it symbolises more of life after death.

Right now I am living a blessed life. ¬†I appreciate every day that I am not tied into a systemic machine daydreaming about a life of adventure I might be having if I wasn’t inconvenienced with working. ¬†I recognise this time is a gift and hugely unique. ¬†But I am also open to the adventure…

Adventure

Question Everything.

Hello World ūüôā

So, I’ve been thinking about what I want this blog to do and where it might lead me. ¬†At first I thought I would keep the blog more open and free with a sense of anonymity. ¬†I have many social media channels and in a way, as much as these enable that sense of personal space on the internet, at the same time they are incredibly limiting. ¬†I have hobbies and interests that have developed into a job for me which is great, but it also brings in that sense of being professional and developing a public face which becomes a brand.

It seems everyone knows those stories of employees who have used their personal social media for personal comment when working for a corporation and the potential pitfalls that holds.

This might not be true of everyone but there are certain areas of life that interest me or themes and topics I like to explore that I wouldn’t necessarily make public simply because they wouldn’t fit the profile of the public face yet they are still valid. ¬†For that reason, I am not entirely worried if someone wants to join up the dots and connect my channels back to me, but at the same time I think there is something quite exciting about finding new (almost hidden) content from someone, like Easter Eggs in movies. ¬†This blanket approach of publishing the same content to all channels is a little dull isn’t it? ¬†Or is it just me? ūüôā There are themes and ideas that I feel require more than a share or a retweet and I want to expand on all of that- the theme, the idea or the value- question everything.

question-everything

I guess this is how I am moving forward with this blog.

Catch you later Alligator ūüôā

Helen XX

 

Question Everything.

New Blog :)

Hello World ūüôā

I’ve decided to start a blog.  At this stage, I can’t really say what the purpose, aim or subject matter is going to be…which sounds strange, I just know I need a space on the internet to write things out of my head onto a virtual page.

As for the title of the blog, I did some roundabout thinking and found this quote.  I am a night owl and this blog involves reading words therefore it seemed apt.

Blog

Let’s see where this thing goes.

Helen XX

New Blog :)