Pick Yourself Up and Start Again – Tips for a Healthy Mind <3

As you can see from my last post, March was a little tough. Not impossible and I’m happy to report negativity didn’t win, but it took me a few weeks to bounce out of it. Our mind is such a beautiful yet delicate thing. It has the potential to show us depths of strength beyond our imagined capacity but I find that if you take advantage of it, if you mindlessly carry on in a blur of day to day to do’s and don’t exercise it in the ways needed, the mind becomes stagnant, and a stagnant mind allows negativity to fester fast as a virus.

It took me a little while longer than I’ve become accustomed to and indeed than I’m comfortable with, to free myself from the grips of those negative thoughts last month and as you can only continue to move forward and learn from what has gone before, I decided to stop, recollect and assess, now that I feel better. I paid particular attention to the turning point or how I managed to get out of the negative frame of mind and in doing so discovered a few tools that will hopefully help me or someone else stay on track in the future.

I know so many people who suffer with different forms of anxiety and negative thinking and sometimes I think these are mistaken for depression. They can definitely take you over, as depression does, and certainly develop into depression if not addressed but I think there is an in between phase. The metal space I was in last month for example, was that place where everything begins to get harder. Everything seems to require more effort than you can muster, and every situation appears more negative. It is a spiral that rapidly progresses but as the molehills begin their transformation into mountains you can reverse the decline. It’s not easy, especially as your mind wants to do anything but make an effort in any respect whatsoever, but you CAN do it with a little push and a little self-love!

Taking the thoughts from my last post for example, it is amazing how you address these same thoughts when feeling positive as I do today and from this positive outlook stems little guidelines which may help to avoid derailing the happy train in future;

 

Thought One: All the things I haven’t done, the path’s I didn’t take.

Yes, it is sad that my life didn’t go exactly as I planned when I was a little girl singing into a hairbrush or writing my first fairytale about a good and a bad witch! but life isn’t over yet and maybe I won’t be the next superstar or Tolkien, but I can sing and record and book gigs and be heard on soundcloud as I can write and self-publish and pay more attention to this blog at the very least. The point is, the main thing I need from this venture I will gain if I just do something as oppose to doing nothing. The negativity stems from not doing it at all, not from not doing it in the specific way I had imagined. I am such a perfectionist, but I am the worst kind of perfectionist in that if I feel I may not achieve the absolute epitome of the thing I wish to do then I won’t even begin. It’s 100% or 0 from me! This is a terrible way to live life as very little is ever perfect and if you don’t try, you don’t budge from the place you started in. I am trying very hard to retrain myself and to acknowledge that the pure joy I seek from doing something I love will be achieved the instant I do it. Whether I sing in the shower or on a stage, read my poetry to a writers group in the local library or sell it in bookstores, my mind will feel the same happiness and consequently I will be altogether more positive. This goes for whatever you’re in to music, sport, writing, fashion, make up, do what you love on however small a scale you must. Just do something.

 

Thought Two: I’m looking older.

There is only one fountain of youth and that is fitness! It can seem completely impossible to motivate yourself to exercise when you feel negative. I know it has taken me 6 weeks to get myself back to the gym but once you start you will never look back! It doesn’t have to be a mad gym session, it can be a long walk every day or a jog or a swim or yoga, whatever form of exercise you fancy but I have realised that physical exercise is a vital cog in the healthy mind wheel. Physical strength and fitness beget mental strength and fitness and it is wholly necessary in order to maintain a happy head as well as a happy heart. It is so easy to fall into a rut, especially if you work in an office where you focus mentally all day and then feel too tired to exercise, you’re not! Your mind might be, but you don’t need it to work out! It can go on auto pilot and you can strengthen it while it chills 😊. Think of it this way, society / commercialism has used the heart as the emblematic station for our feelings to such a point that we feel an innate connection between the feelings we conjure in our brain and the beating muscle in our chest so in order to keep your feelings healthy, keep that heart exercised and strong!

On this same topic as a healthy body really does kick start a healthy mind, part of that process is also the things you eat. I know there are countless ways of saying this same thing but in attempt to keep it as simple as possible I have found that when I eat better and stay hydrated I feel happier. Everyone has different things that work for them, for me, I avoid all processed foods, always cook from scratch and try to drink at least 2 litres of water a day. I notice when my mind starts to become unhealthy, I start to eat less healthy and the downward spiral sets in. Feed your body well and you will feel great.

 

Thought Three: This reality is infinite and I will never experience enough.

I think this thought is an existential conundrum for all deep thinkers. It’s not something I can solve. I will always yearn for more but the best way to achieve as much as I can for myself is to begin with what I have right now and work my way outwards like ripples in a pond. Let each experience encourage you to do something more. Try something new once a month or quarterly or however suits. Keep it interesting and always keep life moving in the direction of further knowledge and understanding. We will never know everything but we can know a lot 🙂

 

Thought Four: There will always be a storm

This is my new thought to add. It’s something I have learnt from dogged experience and it is not negative believe it or not! If you wait for the time when everything is going great, you will never be happy. There is always something wrong either with you or with someone you love or, well, don’t get me started on the world as a whole! The fact is you cannot control the wrongs that come and therefore you are helpless to them and the longer you wait for them to rectify themselves the more disillusioned you will become. The solution is to learn how to be positive in your body and mind despite what’s going wrong around you. Always see the good, however small it seems in the moment and be thankful. You have already achieved the greatest scientific feat there is, you are alive, and you are conscious… now live.

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“Change is the end result of all true learning.” (Leo Buscaglia)

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I cannot believe it’s been three years since my last post!!!

Time has swallowed me up and spit me out. It has transitioned me from the things I used to dread to the things I worship the most. Scrolling through some of my old posts to refresh my memory, the undertone of sadness reveals just how much I have grown, learnt and, dare I say, awakened over this period. I am balanced and positive and a new mum! Becoming a mum was certainly the climax to my happiness over the last few years but my transformation began long before the pitter-patter of tiny adorable feet…. 🙂

In my post “True Love Waits” I touched upon the fact that my partner and I were separated for two years in 2013. We had known each other in passing for a number of years but only had the bliss of ten months as a couple before he had to leave. This was when time became my enemy. I counted each and every day and marked them off a calendar as did he. For the first year I existed in an empty shell. Work, TV, Sleep, Repeat. but as time progressed my mood slowly lifted as the imminence of his homecoming increased and I saw enough light at the end of the proverbial tunnel to enjoy myself again, little by little. Whatever small happiness I found in those cruel years my life truly restarted in April 2015 when my love came home.

It is astounding how we are forced to be thankful for the little things when they are all we have. Being separated for such a long time, my partner and I learnt to cherish our love in a different, in fact in hindsight, a more profound way. We wrote hundreds of letters to each other expressing our deepest thoughts and fears. Getting to know the levels of each soul unabated by any distraction. Our phone calls were deeply focused on the important happenings of the moment and the positives (no matter how few they seemed) so as not to upset the other, so far away and when we visited each other, every second was acutely precious in the awareness that soon it would end and we would be apart again.

When we finally came back together every tiny blessing was instantly apparent and blissful. Waking up together, falling asleep together, sitting together watching a show, cooking for each other, brushing our teeth together at the sink in the morning, just being able to walk hand in hand to the local shop and buy milk, felt like we were incredibly lucky! I couldn’t halt my snowballing mental transformation from negative to positive. Every tiny thing made me smile. Even the things that used to annoy me (like how loudly he potters around the bedroom when I’m trying to sleep!) made me grin with delight. This gratefulness transferred in to all areas of my life, I was thankful for a sunny morning walking to work, thankful for a kind client, thankful for the challenge of a difficult day in the office and the feeling of achievement I gained from pushing through it. Suddenly everywhere I had once seen problems and felt overwhelmed , I saw challenges with real solutions and felt full of love and thanks. Somehow in my desperation and loss, I had stumbled across the secret to happiness and it was so simple;

be loving and be thankful in everything you do.

 

 

 

 

True Love Waits

I don’t really know where to start. How to begin…

My life has been a fairy tale for the past ten months. I have finally found that elusive “true love.” The love I had always believed existed, even when experience after experience tried to tell me otherwise. It is true, that when you find your Mr/ Ms “Right” everything falls into place with ease. There is no stress, no hurt, no hot and cold, no other girls or other guys or blurred lines, just you and your other half in a peaceful bliss that lasts from the moment you wake, to the minute you fall asleep in each others arms. It feels almost as if you’re living in a special bubble, saved for the extra lucky ones. As if you finally know the secret that so many are still trying to figure out, but just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, life finds a way to paralyze you..

My love and I were separated on Monday for two years. Not by choice or for any positive reason, but rather purely down to injustice. It is day three of my two year stint without him and I feel lost, somewhere between devastation and survival instinct. How do you keep going when your happy normal life is snatched away? How do you persist when everything has changed so rapidly, so completely without your control, without hope.

I have so many fears.. what if the separation somehow undoes our bond? Is that possible, even if we love each other so completely? I feel as if I am standing on the edge of a black hole, facing into two years of loneliness and faded memories. I have heard and read about endless long distance relationships, contemplated the times when men went to war, or to work abroad, leaving their loved ones behind and some of those made it through. Some of them.

We both believe that we are meant for each other, and since I was a child I’ve heard the cliche that “love can conquer anything” is it really true? Please let it be true. I’ll never stop trying, not even if he comes back a changed man, because time does change us right? Or can love keep us the same?

My faith is dwindling with this newly awful experience… if there is a God, we need him now.

Funny, just as I finished the above last lines I searched for images to use in this post, with the term “true love.” The first one that appeared out of millions was this…

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Light at the End of the Tunnel!!!!

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They say that with experience comes understanding, with age comes grace. It’s been a tough year, a life changing one. I left my entire social net of friends and associates behind in search of a more positive lifestyle, removed myself effectively entirely from society for up to 8 months, in search of my “soul” as it were, and then faced more struggle as I fought to re-adjust. To bring the knowledge and inner peace I had found out into the cruel world and keep it safe from rat race realities and faces of the past. To stay true to my soulful self in a sensual society and keep my creativity thriving in a 9 to 5 prison… somehow, I think I did it!

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I always wondered what that elusive “happiness” felt like, never with a clue how to reach it, how to grasp it, how to keep it. This year I realised it grows from inner peace. Complete calm and satisfaction within, with who you are, how you are.. I had heard so many times before that happiness is an attitude and now I see this notion isn’t too far out of the ballpark.

I used to think I found happiness when I found love, and yes it’s true a degree of elation did course through me during relationships in my life, but they were fleeting and interchangeable with agony when the relationship didn’t withstand its flaws. Every flaw was like a knife in my heart when my smile relied on love. The funny thing is that when self-accepting and at peace everything feels so much easier, so much less flawed. It’s a sad beauty to know that perhaps if I had learnt this sooner so many flaws would not have hurt or even counted and in doing so led to so many heart wrenching endings. Love is no longer all of me, it is a precious part that brings joy and wonder, awe and delight and adds to, rather than consumes, my life. There are no low points! None of the old beliefs that love is some good moments mixed with lots of heartache, IT’S NOT! Every moment is wonderful!!

I’m finally back at work too, settled in to the office as if I never left and even here feels different. I manage to keep my heart grounded and keep my creative, artistic mind alive, no longer numbed by monotony, I have energy and joy at work and all of a sudden it IS possible to be both the administrator and the artist!

I feel so alive, I appreciate every minute, every hour, the sun feels joyous, the rain feels refreshing nothing can take away from the smiling self. I am rebuilt, strong AND gentle, tough AND emotional and I am ready for anything life brings my way. It’s been a tough year…but if I could go back, I wouldn’t change one thing about the journey that has brought me here. 🙂

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Art, Architecture and Awesome Music!!

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I spent last night at the opening of a wonderful new exhibition by Anthony Haughey named Citizen. Hosted in the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, I was at once struck by the architecture of this beautiful space combining it’s early 19th century roots as the former Drogheda Franciscan Church and Friary, with elements of the building dating further back such as the former Franciscan burial crypts and it’s modern renovations including the open plan display rooms and a new floor at the height of the old church balcony. Suiting this stunning space perfectly was the equally exhilarating exhibition itself, telling the tale of citizens or rather none citizens as they exist in the space between their countries of origin and the countries within which they seek asylum and or a better life. Focusing upon the borders and no mans land where these people face the reluctant hosts alongside whom they long to settle, through interactive video, photography, instillation and text Haughey reveals the heart wrenching journeys and struggles of many different nationalities searching for one of their most basic human rights, a place to live in peace.

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Following on from a fabulous location and a fascinating exhibition you would think that things couldn’t get much better culturally speaking, but culture was to raise the bar once more in the form of The Notas.

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 A six piece indie band formed in 2010, consisting of talented musicians from Pakistan to Nigeria, France to Zimbabwe, The Notas performed an acoustic set that left all reeling in awe at the dulcet tones of excellent musicians and the velvet vocals of their lead singer.

A three fold recommendation I urge all to visit the beauty that is the Highlanes Gallery, to delve into the depths of Haugheys inspiring exhibition and to become an avid follower of ever talented ever amazing The Notas!!

For more information please see below:

Highlanes Gallery: http://www.highlanes.ie/Default.aspx

Anthony Haughey: Citizen http://www.highlanes.ie/Activity.aspx?ActivityID=187

The Notas: http://www.facebook.com/TheNotas

The Happiness Project…

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I’m sorry I’ve been gone a while. I always knew Christmas would be different, hard, without him. Can you believe it’s been six months on the 17th of January?! Already! But this year apart has turned in to a lot more than that. I got it so wrong, until now. His promise of return sat in the forefront of my mind accompanying every decision I made and every step I took. I even kept in contact with him, everyday snippets of love and support, not expectant of any response but yearning for one, sometimes received in the form of hope, other times anger, most times silence. I thought I could spend this year in denial still a part of his life, waiting out my own, but as I have slowly watched him move unconditionally supported and yet further away, and myself fall further down, I have realised that all I am gaining is less respect and personal limbo.

As the clock struck 12 on December 31st and we entered 2013 I sat with my family, half awaiting tears and reminiscence but instead feeling a rush of gratitude. I watched my loving parents, my nan and my favourite aunt quietly wish each other a “happy normal day” so as not to highlight the obvious and risk upsetting me and I smiled as I thought, this is what love REALLY is! I did cave the following day in the loneliness of the first day of a New Year without him and I tried to call, simply to wish him a good year. My attempt was met with a cold rejection as he cut off my call and spurred me into yet another moment of desperation, another one, but the LAST one, as I came out the other side and truly felt enough is enough..

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As I finally stepped back from the situation and accepted his leaving as eternal I saw so much that I had ignored in my struggle for his acceptance. I hadn’t heard him and all the others screaming what I was finally thinking, What about me?

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I know my strengths and my talents, I know of many things I like and yet never seem to take seriously. I know what I’m capable of and yet I can’t remember a time when I was happy in my achievement of them. I’ve just spent 6 months burying myself in someone else, and I have done exactly that all my life. I’m a fixer, I can fix anybody’s problems big or small and you can bet I’ll be there with them ’til the bitter end of their situations, but I never get round to my own. That is what this year must be about. Call it sensible or call it selfish but from the first to the last day of 2013 I am on a mission to help, myself!

It is time to record that album, to publish that book, to show the world that poetry, to travel, to learn and to find that all important guide whose strength and vitality alone will lead my every thought, feeling and action for the rest of my life… ME!

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Wish me luck! 😉 ❤

All These Missing Parts of Me…

Why is it that no matter how hard we try, we always seem to neglect some facet of our personality, or ignore a dream we have?

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I recently spent years entertaining the part of me that loves to dance and dress up and fall in love with the night, and yes some part of it made me feel exhilaration but of course when the morning comes you’re worn and lethargic and as a result don’t achieve much else. I eventually grew tired of the fickle nature of night life, the fickle friends and empty truths, and moved away to the country side, investing myself instead in perhaps my greatest passion, writing. I joined a writers group, gave seminars, worked on my poetry, started this blog, and yet as another year ends I still feel myself, searching. I am not whole.

One thing that stuck with me since I read Susan Jeffers Feel the fear.. was her concept of a life plan. She proposed that in order to feel fulfilled we must give equal precedence to every area of our lives, and, or personalities. Picture nine empty boxes and start to fill them with each aspect or aspiration of your life.

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Mine would be something like; 1. work 2. family 3. writing 4. music 5. hobbies 6. friends 7. gym 8. dance 9. French

Then you apply equal time and effort to each box and supposedly you will feel that elusive “wholeness.”  My problem thus far has been that I pick one aspect and railroad it “hell for leather” until I start to miss all the other parts of me. With the dawn of a New Year I’m going to set my first official life plan in motion and hopefully, finally, achieve all those neglected dreams as well as expand those I already chase.

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If you feel you never quite reach certain things you love or want to try, or simply can’t ignore that nagging feeling that you’re STILL searching…try it!?

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