Earlier this week I talked about a simple life, but now I want to share thoughts about a colour life with you! Something that brings me so much joy when experiencing other cultures, is how much colour there is and … Continue reading
My first blog post here was to tell you my thoughts on the New Year and how we are all too harsh on ourselves at a time when the natural world is being slow and nurturing. Now the evenings are brightening and the temperature rising, this is a far better time to begin all those goals that most discarded after a week or two in January. I’ve made a some big changes and I feel great for it, a fresh start in line with the season change!
Here are a few ways we can take inspiration from nature to align ourselves with the change of season and create goals in a more natural way than the New Year…
- Get outside! You knew this would be one of my top tips as I’m a huge advocate of spending time in nature and being outside. Being out in nature is proven to boost mood, endorphin levels and lower heart rate and blood pressure. This will make you more productive to achieve your goals but is so worth doing just to see the beauty of the world. See more health benefits here and get out there today!
- Get your body going! If you don’t already, start shaking and waking your body up after the slower months of Winter. Start yoga, walking, dancing, swimming…whatever feels the best avenue for you. Just as the animals in hibernation are stirring from their nests, we too can break away from the slowness of winter and start to warm up for a more energetic time. Know that you don’t need to join an expensive gym to get active though, all the suggestions above can be done at home or out in nature.
- Create! Spring is a time of rebirth and new life and so a truer time for a new start than January. This is the best time to start new projects, dream up new plans, and flow with the energy of nature to guide you on your way! This is the time to create new works. My new creation for this time is to expand my music project into a full charity. I’m so glad I waited until now, instead of starting on the 1st January. I feel far more motivated and ready to do this now than two months ago. More info on the charity is here
- Have a clearout! All the fallen leaves of winter are being recycled back into the earth ready to feed the growth of Spring and Summer and you can do the same in your home. Sort out old clothing that no longer suits and take it to a charity shop so someone else can find joy from it, cut up old towels to use as cleaning cloths, start making more natural cleaning products by using things you already have (vinegar, bicarb, lemon, the peel from eaten oranges…) Wellnessmama Blog is great for tips on natural cleaning!
- Connect with others! Spring is typically the main mating season in the natural world and whilst I’m not suggesting that you copy that precisely (unless you want to!!), it is a great time to reconnect with friends and family who you may have seen less of during the cold months and difficulty travelling due to storms and snow! Join community projects- garden and clean up work will be starting now and loads of sports activities will be getting going if that’s where your interests lie. Animal centres will be inundated now due to that mating season and will need foster homes, help with fundraising- anything you are most drawn to. Helping others will always benefit you as well and is the foundation for a beautiful world so get yourself involved!
I hope you have a beautiful Springtime and that these tips helped on the way! I’m so excited for the changes I’m making and I know this was the right time to do them. Don’t take my word for it though, listen to your own instinct and follow the path that’s right for you. That may mean that January is a good time to get things started or that you may prefer to hold back until Summer when you feel fully rested. Whatever time you choose though, keep that Spring energy in mind, it is the time for revival so take that feeling and dance with it!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.
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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!