Have Some Imagination…!

Thank you for joining me over here again! Today’s chapter is about “shoulds” and the way our imagination is shaped as we grow up.

Our lives are directed with so many “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” today. We should eat this, we should stay in work longer, we should get to the gym three times a week.  We are taught from a very young age that we can’t live our lives the way we desire when this is not the case! Even if others feel it ought to be this way, if it doesn’t sit right and you have to push too much in order to achieve that “should” goal, then it may not be the best way for you to be.

Children have such beautiful imaginations and our society limits them by the time they reach adulthood. We have television that fills in all the gaps in stories so we never have to think for ourselves, and free time is constantly filled with doing instead of being and allowing imaginations to wander freely. School curriculum often leaves no time for questioning or deviating from the script of lessons. Convergent thinking (only one correct answer) is encouraged whilst divergent thinking (open expression) is valued less when this is the path that is vital to our progression.

When I was younger, the stories I used to love reading were those that told of magic, myths and adventures and I was so lucky to have been encouraged in this by my family. I reached Secondary School though and a teacher told me I shouldn’t be reading such books and should be studying more serious works. I looked up to her so I agreed and gave up my beloved stories as being babyish. I know now that this was a mistake! Surely it was a joy that I loved reading?! I was drawn to those books for a reason. They weren’t winning any awards for best writing, but they fired my imagination and gave me a place to escape to when school was hard. After that, I stopped reading for the pure love of it. I carried on reading of course, continued on all the way through to two English degrees but I never truly enjoyed it, save for a few novels. It has only been the last couple of years since I joined my local library that my true love for reading has returned. I now read books that jump out at me, not just the ones in the ‘Classics’ section.

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If you have children in your life- your own or nieces, nephews, little brothers and sisters, a friend’s child…help them to keep their imaginations strong. If they tell you a fantastical story, let them run wild with it, don’t say it doesn’t sound realistic. If you’re a teacher, remember you’re in the most important job in the world- you’re in charge of guiding our future. Do you want a future filled with creative possibilities or a dull, grey robotic one? We can all help our children and feed their imaginations and in doing so we will open our own. Time spent with a fresh mind, will re-fresh your own.

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If we’re drawn to something- a book, a band, a place, a way of living- it’s because something within it calls out to our soul. We mustn’t ignore that feeling or we risk losing our inner fire and will be forever stuck in a world of “shoulds” and “have tos”.   Whatever your age, use your inventiveness and creativity! Paint, write, sing, read books where you can transport yourself to new, exciting places in your mind. This creates a better world for us all, because we are only limited by the range of our own imagination so we must expand it to be able to build a beautiful life! Have a wonderful, imaginative week all!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

What I Learned From a Moroccan Cat…!

Hello beautiful spirits, thank you for joining me here again!

Whilst I was away in Morocco, I spent the evenings reading on my Riad’s rooftop terrace. It was so beautiful, under the setting sun with a view of the bustling city below, but so peaceful up high. This post isn’t to share that particular experience with you though, it’s to tell a story of what I saw one evening as I was sat reading.

Picture the rooftop, three storeys high, with a narrow wall around the terrace. All of a sudden a little black cat jumped from a taller roof onto this thin ledge and walks across it as if it was the most simple leisurely stroll down the street. I thought for a moment, how brave that little girl is to climb so high and tread a wall so fine.

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Then I realised something. She wasn’t brave. She wasn’t being brave because she had no fear in the first place at that moment. And she had no fear because she was so confident in her ability to stride across that ledge, that the thought of falling and therefore being frightened didn’t really enter her mind.

This is how we must live. Unafraid of the challenges we face. Feeling no fear in the face of a new day that might seem different and unexplored to us. The language we use plays a large part in this. We tell ourselves upcoming situations are scary so in order to lose our fear of them, we have to alter the words we use relating to them. Focus on the benefits of a particular event that seems terrifying to you instead of the negatives. This seems obvious but so many of us keep our negative attachments due to the language we use. So by changing that, we change our thought pattern connected with it. Here are a few examples…

 

Situation                  Fear Based Thoughts               Fearless Thoughts!

Job interview    I’m not good enough       You ARE good enough for it or you                                                                                                                                                           wouldn’t have an interview!

Presentation     It will go wrong                  You’re prepared so you’ll be great! 

Family meal      No one understands me    Show everyone how lovely and unique you                                                                                                                                                                           truly are! 

Travel nerves    I’ll get lost                              You’re off to explore a new unseen                                                                                                                                                         world, you’ll find your way!

Obviously I know cats do feel fear at different times. I have two rescued cats, and both of them didn’t allow any human contact until they completely trusted us because they were so frightened due to past experiences. This is a different emotion though. The roof top kitty was probably wary of my presence too but she didn’t waiver in her own innate abilities. This is what I learned from her and what we all can learn, to be so sure of ourselves that the fear just melts away.

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Couldn’t leave my rescue kitties out of a post on cats could I?! Meet Hazel and Saffron!

Nature will always provide us with inspiration when we most need it. I loved watching that beautiful little being tread where others would be terrified to. She followed her instinct, as all animals do- something we must remember how to do. If we trust our inner feelings, we will have that same confidence to pursue our path. Even though the road may seem daunting, we will see that it isn’t really if we are sure of ourselves.

This is true freedom, feeling open to live our lives without fear!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

Free Your Time, Find Your Life!

Hello!

This blog chapter, I’d like to share how important following your own way in life is, the way I freed up my time to be able to do this and how you can do the same if you feel you’re not where you want to be!

We are told that if we’re not busy, we’re not working hard enough. Our days must be packed with meetings, rushed travel, hurried emailing and feeling harassed as our inboxes expand. If we don’t work, or choose an alternative lifestyle that doesn’t fit within the 9-5 culture then we are told we are lazy and incompetent…so it seems that no one can win.

We must realise that the public figures set as inspirational for this lifestyle burn themselves out quickly- they have health problems, family connection issues and little time to enjoy the money they’ve created. Many who do have free time, through whatever reason, are made to feel so bad about themselves that they fill those extra hours with television, and maybe drink and drugs to cover that shame placed upon them by society.

Time here is a gift. It doesn’t need to be spent pursuing things you would rather not. If you would prefer to spend each afternoon reading, that can be so! Travel more, you can have that too! There is always a way around things. For example, if you would rather work part time, then examine your finances and see where you could do without something to free up extra cash that will allow you to work less.

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Before I became self employed, I worked in employment but slowly decreased my hours, over a time frame of a few months. I admit I was extremely lucky in that my employers were so supportive with my asking to lessen my days (Thanks Ann and Kerri of Mad Hatters, Chester!!) Even if right now you’re thinking your boss would never allow it, it’s still achievable!

You can do this and live the life you want! It’s only an impossible dream if you believe it to be. If you tell yourself it’s doable then you’ll find it easy. You may face obstacles. The shame of not fitting a particular culture I spoke of earlier? I’ve had that put on me, asked when I’ll get a “real job”. I choose not to accept those thoughts though as they come from years of conditioning that there’s only one way to live.

Our world is changing! We can truly live however we wish, if we set our minds to it. I’m not saying it will be without challenges, but these are to be overcome and make us stronger. There have been times when I’ve questioned my way, months when work has been slow but I always find ways to adapt so I don’t compromise how I want to live. I’ve picked up other small freelance jobs when money has been tight, I travel less when I want to see my family more. You can find your best way of living and to get started,  here are some tips I’ve learned…

  1. If you’re in employment speak with your boss and explain that you’d like to drop hours. You can cite health reasons or family if they ask and you don’t want to tell them it’s to work less or work on a side project. If they say no, perhaps take it as a sign it’s time to leave and start to look for another avenue with more flexible working hours.
  2. To supplement income in a more time efficient way if you do leave or drop hours, start a side enterprise such as an Ebay account or utilising a skill you may have such as the ability to teach piano or even good cleaning skills.
  3. Re-evaluate how much income you need to be happy and fulfilled. Often when in a salaried job, we’ll spend until our wage is gone as there is always the next month to count on. This leads us to believe we need the amount we are earning at the time and so keeps a cycle going that may not be needed. Examine what you spend on, are there areas you could cut back? This is old advice but I still see people spending an hours wage on their lunch so if that’s you, could you make yours at home instead?
  4.  To start using the time you already do have effectively, begin to focus on yourself instead of being so hurried throughout the day that you can’t switch that side off when you’re away from work. Start with ten minutes a day just sitting still. No television on, no phone near you to check emails, just you and your thoughts. At first your mind may stay scrambled and frantic, struggling to switch from active to quiet, but with practice you’ll be able to ease your thoughts.
  5. Find a pattern that works for you. We are all so different, which is why I disagree so strongly with a standard working schedule. A steady 9-5 suits some people wonderfully, whilst running someone else into the ground who would be more suited to creative work.

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We all want to follow our own goals in life and we all deserve the chance to do so. Give yourself the best chance by supporting your own dreams, not someone else’s- which you are doing if you over work yourself. Do not make yourself ill working for another’s goal. Don’t allow your path to be dictated, it is yours to tread not theirs so they can not possibly know the right way for you, only you can feel that. Trust those feelings, they will take you on beautiful adventures!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

Going Solo!

Hello there!

I’ve just returned from beautiful Morocco, a trip I almost thought about cancelling due to others’ responses when I mentioned it. That I must be very careful, there will be so many scams, and even that I should not go! I knew I would be fine though and would see and learn so much from going there that it was important for me to go.

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I appreciate people’s worries, that they come from a loving place and so I don’t dismiss them but I listen to my own feelings and faithfully follow those. Usually their words are not the true voice of the person speaking them, instead they are the vocalisations of a society that wants to keep its population (and in particular it’s women) in a constant state of fear. This is because fear equates to control and someone who lives in fear cannot truly be free.

Even walking alone in the woods near my house provokes this response! I’m asked on an almost daily basis by fellow walkers why I don’t have a dog with me or am I really going on my own? I love walking and it’s so vital to be out in nature. It saddens me that so many of us are discouraged from our natural surroundings due a disproportionate fear of what lurks waiting.

Use your intuition- your ‘common sense’, do hear others’ stories of particular places and use that information to decide on your own path but at the same time listen to your own instincts more so than anyone else, those telling you something is safe or unsafe, if you feel otherwise- trust this.

If I had followed all the people telling me I shouldn’t be doing something, I would have missed out on some of the most incredible experiences of my time here so far, meeting warm friendly people, seeing beautiful nature and learning some of my most important lessons (future posts to come on these hehe!)

Here are my thoughts on how to speak lovingly with a friend or family member who is concerned about your path…

  1. Don’t react immediately! Initially in response to someone telling you that you shouldn’t be doing something, you may feel a rising surge of anger in your stomach and want to argue back with them. This will not work and just confirms in their minds that you’re too reactionary and emotional to keep yourself safe. Instead, calmly tell them that you understand their feelings but that you feel very secure in everything and are looking forward to your trip.
  2. Often people are swayed by what they’ve recently read in the news or watched on TV, for example I know people who wouldn’t dream of visiting Eastern Europe after seeing the film Hostel and so if you tell them that’s where you’re heading, they conjure up visions of that ridiculous film instead of the beautiful scenery and people that are there. Keep this in mind when discussing your trip and show them the beautiful side of your destination, one they may be unaware of.
  3. Be realistic when talking with them. Don’t pretend as though nothing bad ever happens in the world or could ever happen to you as this comes across as naïve. Acknowledge that for example if you’re travelling to Africa, that yes people have encountered trouble but remind them that there have been people go on a night out in Manchester and never return home due to a simple bar fight.
  4. Show them how prepared you are (even if you’re not yet!) Be detailed as you describe your trip even if you’re certain your plans will change and evolve along the way. Once people know you have a schedule, they usually feel safe. I book hotels and hostels very last minute which drives my family wild as it’s something they would never dream of leaving until the day before travelling!
  5. If they’re very logically minded, providing some statistics may be useful. For example on my forest walks, I remind people that women are more likely to be attacked in their own homes by someone they know, not whilst out on a sunny day walking! Not a nice statistic of course but one that might put things into perspective.

 

If you are scared, don’t be afraid to admit it! Don’t feel you must put on a show of bravado and say that an upcoming trip trekking India alone is the same as nipping to the corner shop to you- it’s not and it’s perfectly ok to feel apprehensive. The key is to listen to your body and note the differences between feeling truly terrified of a situation or feeling excitedly anticipative of the unknown.

And most importantly, remember that although it’s good to keep people happy, don’t do this at the expense of your dreams. Never let other’s views influence your own plans to the point of cancelling your dream trip. Reclaim your freedom!

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Best Wishes,

Bexi

How Music can heal us: Part One

Welcome back!

This week I’d like to start talking about our current relationship with music. As some of you know, I run a music for well-being project called ‘Forget Me Never’ which started out as a way of helping those with Dementia but has since expanded to work with people living with other chronic illnesses such as Cancer, Chronic Pain and Mental Health Issues.

I truly believe music has the power to aid healing but that in our present society, this is not recognised. So much emphasis is placed on conventional medicine and whilst I would advise each of us to follow the path that feels right, no information is given about holistic healing practises and so how can people make an informed choice if they’re only supplied with half the information?

The proven benefits of music extend to and are not limited to;

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Lessened depression
  • Improved mood
  • Improved concentration

And I’m sure there are many more benefits that haven’t been officially recorded! Many studies have been done researching the effects music can have, including a recent 2015 study here in the UK at Brunel University that showed music reduces pain and therefore the need for strong painkillers in post-operative patients (Meads et al (2015) The Lancet)

We need to reclaim our lost practises. If we look to the past, to ancient cultures and those still active today in a traditional way, we find that nearly all of them make song and dance a key part of their philosophy. Yes we have music but it has been mutated into the form we find on the radio today, it’s far less of a communal experience and even the very tuning has been altered from its natural state so that what we hear sounds more dissonant and less natural than we would have experienced a century ago.

Our traditional culture has been erased. I was in a book shop the other day and found a book entitled “The History of Western Music” and thought it might be interesting. According to this book, the history of Western Music, our history of music, started with the Romans and Greeks and then nothing apparently happened until Mozart was born. This is NOT our history! Our past is a vibrant amalgamation of traditional cultures, of dancing and multiple instruments, all of which have been suppressed by the societal norms of today.

Singing is mainly elevated to a performance state, where one person is able to enjoy the act and others must sit in silence or have stern looks cast upon them! I never ask for silence at my gigs…singing, dancing and even chatting is actively encouraged as long as the atmosphere remains upbeat and joyful.

We can get this back though. It is not so lost that it will become a forgotten tale of times gone by. There are some incredibly talented musicians and artists working to piece back together our healing practises and enable us to progress in a natural manner and thus help ourselves. We can all do our bit though by supporting local music events, joining our choirs, encouraging school children to take up instruments and play for the love of it, not for fame and fortune but for the joy of mastering a skill. Or not mastering it perhaps because being bad at something doesn’t have to stop you loving it! I’m not a fantastic painter but I really like playing with colours and creating something and that’s the point of it, not necessarily the finished product.

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Embrace this creativity inside of you, sing sing sing! Do not be ashamed of your voice or hide it as it’s an expression of you, of your beautiful soul and so it should be beamed out as bright as your smile.

I have so much to share on this subject so this was just a small introduction, can’t wait to show you what music and sound can do!

Have a beautiful, musical week all!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

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