Nothing good comes easily

Last week, I started up a project around belonging and I am setting myself a challenge each week, in an effort to feel a greater sense of belonging to myself and my community.

My first challenge was to be bold. And I spent all week with those words in my head. I dressed brightly, I spoke my mind, I accepted compliments wholeheartedly and yet it was quite a tricky week for me.

Just lots of things culminating to leave a bad taste. I lost a contract at work, I took an accidental 40 mile diversion, my card was declined in the corner shop, a tree in my garden got chopped down. On their own all things you can deal with, but all at once it feels too much.

I took time to see and breathe nature, to reset and to do yoga but I still had this overriding sense of agitation, of feeling ‘what’s next?’.

And then I realised that a lot of things worth having, take work. That means overcoming challenges, getting through bad weeks and, most of all, learning your own coping mechanisms.

Being pushed and pulled and jarred around feels like the total opposite of belonging – it makes you feel like you don’t belong. But I think we need these things to make us bolder, smarter and stronger, to make us question who we are and what we stand for, only then can we really belong.

Most of us in today’s society perceive belonging as materialist, having the same lifestyle, family, designer clothes, cars, but belonging comes from within. It is about seeing someone else’s soul and saying, “I see you. I accept you.” No rules. no dramas, no standards, just welcoming someone else to the circle, flaws and all.

This week has challenged me but it has also set me further along on my journey of belonging. It has made me realise my worth and what I am prepared to stand for. It has also inspired next week’s challenge.

This second challenge is going to be about knowing your own worth and not letting anyone else lessen it. It’s about saying no to a contract because you know you can get a better deal, it’s about speaking up when someone says something to discredit you and it’s about putting yourself first when it comes to self-care, because you can’t do anything without your mind and body being present.

Knowing your own worth is about accepting yourself, all of you, just as you are and being confident about it.

worth

 

 

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Belonging – my new project

I can’t take full credit for this as it has been inspired by a beautiful book I am reading called Belonging by Toko-pa Turner (read it!)

The book touches on how we must learn to look within us for the answers, to sit with pain and worry and learn from them. To be part of a community, we must settle into the bad and good parts of life and not just block them out with medicine or by doing something else.

One thing she talked about which resonated with me was how doubts are actually a way of our bodies telling us to push past the fear to the next stage. That’s what prompted my idea for a new project.

I worry a lot. I have numerous doubt cycles which like to appear on Sundays each week. But I am actually very contented in life right now, so I want to get rid of them.

My belonging project will explore a different topic in each post, inspired by the book, and how I personally tackle it. Similar to my 52 Week Challenge, I am going to challenge myself to get to a greater place of belonging by the end of 2018.

It’s not something you can measure externally, but you can measure the quiet resonance it projects outwards from the core within.

My first week is going to be entitled ‘Belonging is Bold’. It’s about wearing red rather than black, digging out bright pink lipstick on Mondays and knowing that it makes you feel good, that you can be more confident in yourself, that you don’t need to apologise for who you are. It’s about being bold because that’s something I want to be and part of building community is being at peace with all of who you are.

Join my journey, be your own kind of bold this week.

Freedom lies in being bold

 

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#43 Beautiful Life

Days like today when you’re stretched out in a chair in the garden, soaking up the sunshine and listening to the birds, are just perfect. They teach you about being present and the art of just being in the moment.

It’s a time when we look at our lives more positively, we see happiness, hope and joy and we are guided by love, not fear.

You come out of hibernation and look ahead to the coming seasons. We plan trips and holidays, we socialise, we go for walks and we really appreciate how beautiful life is.

The leaves on the trees and flowering plants remind us of the glorious colours of nature, which we almost forgot over winter.

Sunshine brings with it a warmth which we feel right through to our soul. It warms our hearts as well as our bodies and offers us space to be open to new thoughts and opportunities.

This is a time to be so thankful for life and for all the things in it. To bless wildlife, our environment and our friends and family. To be thankful for our house and jobs and being able to enjoy the sunshine.

It fills us with a happiness which is meant to be spread. We smile at neighbours, shopkeepers and strangers and find our hearts more open to loved ones.

There is something so comforting and safe about sitting on a rug in the park with loved ones and just soaking it all in. The chatter, the sun, the food and the company. Time is not of importance on these days and we quite happily pass from afternoon to evening without that sense of rushing.

There is a time to rush and a time to be still, just as there is a time to talk and a time to listen. We must learn that be can’t always be active and on the go and that we need passive times, where life passes us by, to balance us out.

Because that’s what makes our lives so beautiful and rich is that we have a balance. The cold makes us appreciate the warm, the rain makes us appreciate the sunshine and the downtime makes us appreciate everything that keeps us busy.

And when we start to appreciate the beauty of what surrounds us, we see it in everything.

Van Gogh Beauty

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#42 This moment, forever

For the first time in a long time, I am aware that I feel content. I am not constantly worrying or overanalysing or being anxious, I am at peace.

I am the fittest I have ever been and I feel happy for about 90% of the time (we all have bad days!) It feels to me that I have reached a time in my life where most of my boxes are ticked.

I have started my own business, which has opened me up to new opportunities in my local area, I have a small group of close friends who I can rely on, I have a supportive partner and I have shaped a garden I am happy with. I feel full and positive.

And yet no single moment in your life can last forever. We move forward, changing and adapting all the time.

If you’d asked me 5 years ago, where do you see yourself in 5 years? I would probably have said in a stable job, maybe married and with my own house. Not all our predictions are realised, but our choices take us on different paths that open us up to new experiences.

Don't rush things

Yoga has played a huge part in my growth too. Not only does it help me switch off and unwind, but it challenges me.

I have always been scared of the inverted poses, headstand and shoulder stand for instance, but I have found the confidence and courage to practice these poses at home. Suddenly, you realise what you are capable of and it’s empowering. It radiates out into other areas of your life.

Just like change. If we work with it, not against it, we learn a lot about ourselves and our own journeys. Whether done solo or with a partner in crime, we all change and it can be scary to think that this time of happiness can’t always look the same.

Your own version of contentment will probably be different to mine, but one thing I am sure of is that it is often the times in our lives where we are challenged, and succeed, that we experience this peacefulness.

Knowing what you are capable of – loving someone, doing a shoulder stand, running a marathon, setting up a business, travelling alone – gives you the confidence and strength to do more, to be more.

Focus not on having more, but on being more.

Happiness comes from within, it is something we feel in the moment. It is not a pursuit, it is now.

We can all experience our moment of contentment throughout our lives by being grateful, prioritising the most important things and learning to grow with change.

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#41 Challenges before us

Recently, I have been thinking about making a big decision.

It’s been a few months in the planning, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult. In the weeks leading up to it, it seems as though the Universe is making sure I am ready for this by serving me a few tests.

I’ve never been one to rush into big decisions, but I am a great believer in going with your gut, and these tests have served as useful ways to confirm to myself that I am on the right lines.

What sort of things have I been tested on?

Taking criticism. I think many people find it hard to take feedback and criticism, however constructive, but when it comes from someone close to you it can be even harder. I have learnt about being open to feedback and trying to learn from it, rather than simply taking offence.

Patience. I love being on time, it gives me a pleasing sense of being in control of life, but not everyone is the same. I have people in my life who are permanently running late and it used to, and still does a lot of the time, drive me up the wall. I have learnt to gain perspective and realise that often being 5 or 10 minutes late isn’t the end of the world.

Being true to your values. I think it is hard to “be yourself” in a society where we are tossed and turned from millions of messages all the time. But I do believe in following your values and sticking up for what you believe in. In recent weeks, I have faced situations that, in past times, would have left me unsure of how to respond, but now I have learnt to express my opinion and honour my values whilst also respecting others.

Stepping into someone else’s shoes. I’ve always thought of myself as a good listener and empathiser but there is always more to learn. Meeting people from different backgrounds with different expectations of the world can open up your own view of the world, and it’s helped get me into the shoes of those closest to me.

Forgiveness. All too often we hold onto our hurt and pain because we think if we hold a grudge it will make us feel better. It doesn’t. I’m not one to hold a grudge but there are things in life that make me angry or sad. I’m learning a better way to deal with these emotions is to forgive myself and others and let go. It frees the heart and mind, leaving space for more positive things.

I like to think of these challenges as preparation for my next decision, as if the Universe is teaching me things which will spur me into action.

Universe teachings

You never know quite where your next decision will take you, but what I do know is that I believe my big decision is the right choice for me.

Thank you Universe for your teachings and for inspiring me to move forward.

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#40 The place where you belong

Have you ever been somewhere and it just feels like home?

A place where you know each turn in the road and every different carve in the rocks. Where you recognise the shape of the trees and the line of the fences. A place that connects you to the Earth, that roots you down so strongly that you have to prise yourself away.

I have a place like that. It is part of my childhood. A place that holds fond memories. A place where I walked, ran, cried, laughed, sang, loved and lost, and yet where I feel so perfectly at home. It is a place of open-ness, of flowing rivers and high hills, of green grass and rocky outcrops.

It is somewhere where I am connected not by the people, but by the place itself. It is the trees that embrace me and the streams that welcome me. It is a meandering path that converses with me like an old friend. It feeds my soul with such a deep and diverse dialogue that I go on a journey each time I am there.

I return from this place each time refreshed and renewed, like a part of me has been soothed.

We all have these places. Some are childhood memories, some are new discoveries and some we may not have found yet.

What is it that makes these places so special to us? It seems that they sing the same tune as our soul, they resonate with us. Perhaps they remind us of a particular time in our lives.

Whatever it might be, it is to be savoured. Our deep sense of belonging to something is fostered in these places. To feel a connection to the Earth is an important part of our authenticity and sense of self.

Sometimes we visit these places in our minds, without even knowing it. They are places of refuge where we gather our strength and refuel. They are to be treasured.

Next time you feel that sense of belonging, savour it. Drink in the sights and sounds, the textures and the shapes. Draw it in your mind so you can conjure it up at a moment’s notice.

We all belong. We are all a part of something bigger.

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#39 We all have those funny sort of days

We all have those days when you wake up and wish you could go back to bed. Those days where the words don’t come out right, or you don’t feel ‘with it’.

And it’s ok. It doesn’t make you any less perfect. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It’s just a day in the life of a human.

I’ve been having a few of those days recently and what it’s taught me is that no matter how much you want that thing you planned to work, sometimes the weather isn’t right, your mood isn’t right or you just hit traffic, and it feels all wrong.

I’ve learnt to just be. To be cool with it and to let it flow.

It’s balance, some days you wake up in a good mood and you have a good day. Other days you barely wake up and it just doesn’t fit. I think those days are important too, because they teach us about our own standards, about how we perceive ourselves and how we interact with our surroundings. They tell us a bit more about what we think is normal.

For instance, I had a day when I was meeting a friend and all I could think about was getting back home to my book. It wasn’t that they were bad company, or even that it was bad weather but just that my body, my soul, weren’t in it. They were in rest mode.

You don’t always know these things, but what you can know is how much of a balance you have achieved between social time and me time. The less me time you have, the more your body wants to rest, and the more likely it is that you’ll have these funny old days.

Balance

Our bodies, our whole being, is complicated. But it is also a perfectly crafted machine, it knows what we need, even when we don’t. And we must listen.

I’m getting better at listening, at taking time to just be when I need to. I’m also recognising that my rest time can be different to other people’s idea of rest. Spending a morning in the garden is rest time for me, it restores me. For others it may be a morning watching Netflix, or a run, or a chat on the phone, or a book.

We are all different and we all achieve our balance in different ways. So when you hear about the latest trend or buzz word, instead look at what works for you. What is it in your life that restores you to yourself again?

Roll with the off days, learn from them. What is it that you needed and didn’t have that day? Rejoice in the days when you thrive and feel powerful and energetic. Use that to learn what makes you work at your full potential. But also remember that we are not toys with on/off switches. We have levels in between and we can’t always be all or nothing.

Learn balance and carve it out in your own way.

Balance-quote

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