Ordinary, everyday, magical love

I am very lucky to have my partner, and to be able to say that I’m blissfully happy.

Because that happiness has been very hard earned for us both.

I’d love to be able to say it’s been a fairytale, full of butterflies and rainbows and pretty sunsets.  And don’t get me wrong, we have had so many wonderful times.  However we’ve also recently come through very bad times – but it’s actually those that I am more grateful for.

It’s easy to look around at other people and think they have the perfect relationship/marriage/life.  And maybe they do.  Or maybe they just like to portray that image on Facebook.

I know though that he and I have been through the worst times together, and we came through the other side.  And now have an unbreakable bond as a result.  And I wouldn’t swap that for anything.

We knew as soon as we met that we were perfect for each other.  After the obligatory first date nerves and shy conversation at first we stumbled across a shared passion – of all things a love of zombies. I’ve long had a secret love for reading horror, and particularly zombie horror. And so did he.  From that moment on we knew we were kindred spirits. We had so many things in common – we watched the same TV shows, we read the same books, we shared the same humour, we finished each others sentences, and read each others minds.  Quite literally we would both burst out laughing as we’d ask each other something random that the other person had only just been thinking about.

But as often happens real life soon got in the way.

I have full custody of a 10yo boy, and though I love him to death he is very very challenging.  So there was no couple time for us.  Full stop.  There was no one to look after him so we could build our relationship and have adult time.  Although in other ways it was so perfect to be part of a strong family unit.  And we all loved it.

Then Mr ISFS (I stop for suffering) lost his job.  He found another one, but it did not make him happy.  We struggled financially.  We struggled with broken down cars, and not enough money for groceries.

And most of all, we struggled to communicate.

Each of us retreated into ourselves.

He gamed and shut himself in the study for days at a time.

I tried to escape the house at every opportunity – taking my son out for outings, visiting friends, going for runs.  Doing my best not to be home.

And it festered.

We would go days without having any meaningful conversation.

And the worst parts of our personalities came to the forefront.  He became very angry and short-tempered.  I shut down emotionally and refused to communicate my feelings.

And 2 years, almost to the day of our first date, I asked him to leave.

I respect him so much for how he handled that request.  He was very composed, and actually comforted me over it (?!).  And he did as I asked.  Even though it killed him.

We kept in touch via text even though everyone was telling me I should cut all ties.  I kept saying to them – how could I cut all ties when he was my best friend for 2 years?  Things would happen that I would want to share with him.  My son would do something funny.  Or frustrating.  And I knew that he was the only one who would appreciate it and truly understand.

Some time after Mr ISFS left I connected with a friend through my local running group.  I thought he was all the things that I was looking for – social, friendly, easy going, giving.

But he wasn’t Mr ISFS.  We didn’t have that intimate connection.  We couldn’t share jokes (he and I weren’t on the same wave length).  He didn’t understand my humour.  We couldn’t have in-depth conversations.  And most importantly – the image of himself that he portrayed was exactly that – an image he portrayed.  And nothing like what he was actually like in a relationship.  To put it bluntly I was miserable and not surprisingly it didn’t last.

But it did me think about what I had lost.

Regardless of the issues that we had, Mr ISFS was the only person who has ever truly understood me.  He also struggled badly with anxiety and depression, and he was always supportive.  And he never treated me badly.  He had just struggled to cope and withdrawn into himself.

However in those months we were apart he was also going through his own journey.  He sought therapy/counselling to deal with his anger. He thought about where he had gone wrong, and what he had lost.

And he humbly asked for another chance.

This time though we spoke about things in depth.  BEFORE we got back together.  We spoke about our expectations, what we had learnt.  What had gone wrong, and what we would do differently. We established new ground rules.

It’s now been 1.5 months since we got back together, and it’s the most happy and settled I’ve ever felt.

We are 2 very different people now.  We communicate in depth and honestly at every chance.  We speak about the big issues, and the small ones.  We have laughed so much in these last 6 weeks.  We’ve shared so many experiences.

And we’ve created something so much stronger that we ever had before.

I feel so very loyal to him – a depth of feelings I’ve never felt before.  I am a very calm and passive person but I would fight to the death for him.  And I know he would for me.

I am very blessed that I have my best friend back.  And I know deep in my heart that we always have each others backs.  Always.  We have gone through the hardest times together, and it’s made us both realise what we had lost.  And that we would do anything to be with each other.  There is a loyalty and love and connection that I have never felt before.  And everything I’ve gone through in past relationships, being cheated on, being treated badly, me picking the wrong guys… all of it has made me learn the lessons I needed to to finally have the RIGHT relationship.

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Mindfulness of mindfulness

This week for me I’ve had a very strong focus on mindfulness.

I had been reading a blog post which talked about another blog post, which talked about a great podcast, which was based on a book (which I then had to buy).  And so it goes.  (Oh how I love technology ♥).

So the book I am currently reading is this one:

Mindfulness

With reading this book I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness, and I’ve been trying to be more aware of it in my daily life.

And I am noticing many more small moments.  This morning I was making a cup of tea, and I was accurately aware of the sound of the boiling water being poured into the cup.  And I was AWARE that I was aware.  Then I was aware of the silence around me (it was dawn and the rest of my household was asleep).  It was a small moment of clarity, but it was so beautiful.

I then decided to do my jigsaw puzzle while I drank my tea, and listen to a talk about mindfulness tools in daily life.

And a funny thing happened.

I was listening to the tools that the dharma teacher was suggesting (which were great!).  And I was thinking how I could apply them in my daily life.  And then I had a lightbulb moment.

Why?

I was reading this book on mindfulness, listening to a mindfulness podcast.  Trying to incorporate it in my daily life.

But why?  Why practice mindfulness?

To me it was my own ‘mindful’ moment.  I was spending all this energy and focus on becoming mindful.  But I then realised I didn’t know why I was doing it.

My curiosity was piqued then, so I did more reading on why practice it at all.

But for me personally…. I hope that my mindfulness helps me to help others.  My goal and focus has long been to provide support and kindness to others.  And now my intention is that my mindfulness practice helps me to become a better listener, more in-tune with those around me and their hearts, and more in-tune with my own heart.

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A different take on mindfulness

I came across a talk yesterday called “Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness” by Ellen Langer.  I really love challenging my thinking, and learning/growing and this talk has been a real eye opener.

Ellen discusses the concept of mindfulness, but from a very “stand alone” view point.  Her research and opinions are of mindfulness as it’s own practice, and not as part of meditation or Buddhism.

And it’s fascinating.

I’m still absorbing her concepts – as they are many and varied (and brilliant!).  But a few things have resonated with me already.

A lot of her work (as I understand it so far) explores challenging our thinking and the labels we apply to certain situations.  And how changing our thinking changes our experience.

For example it’s proven that most of us view our jobs as “work”.  Our attitudes are that it’s a necessary evil, and we approach our work days as such.  We don’t enjoy our jobs (that’s what our personal time is for!).  However if we can approach work our work as being fun/pleasurable/interesting our experience changes vastly as does our enjoyment.  The work is the same, but the approach and outcome are different.

She also challenges us to explore our set beliefs.  One question she asks is “what is 1 plus 1?”.  And naturally most people are going to roll their eyes and say “2”.  But as she says, that’s not always the case.  What if you had one wad of chewing gum, and one more wad to it?  It’s not going to be 2.

And personally I love challenging my thinking that way.

Maybe I’m weird (okay I own that I am lol), but I often question the labels that we give things.

For example – the common belief is that going into a shopping centre/restaurant/business with bare feet is considered rude.  Why is it rude?  Because as a society we frown upon it.  But why?  Who came up with that rule that shoes must be worn?   We are raised with that belief, but what if the belief was that it was rude to wear shoes in a shopping centre?

It’s an odd example I know, but I often think about small things like that.  Or “the sky is blue”.  Why do we call it the sky?  Why have we given it that label?  Where did that come from?  What if we knew it by a completely different name?

And it’s true of basically everything in life.

Which leads me to say I’ve always been very vocal about my belief that things never black or white.  A neighbour of mine is always very very firm in her opinions.  She will argue – violently – with anyone who doesn’t agree with her take on life.  But I often wonder – how could she be so set in her opinions?  What makes them unshakeable?

I can honestly say I never have set opinions or beliefs on anything.  I just don’t see life being that way.  It’s fluid, and changeable and only appears to everyone differently based on their experiences, on their upbringings, their financial situation, their religion, etc etc etc.

 

I’m enjoying learning more as I listen to her talk.  And I’ve immediately downloaded her book as well, so I am sure this subject will come up quite a lot in coming weeks.

Take care my friends,

Meg

 

 

The value in sincerity

I was inspired by something I heard this week.

I was listening to another Gil Fronsdal dharma talk, and he related a story from the Zen tradition.

A student asked his teacher “If I practice Zen will I become enlightened?”.  And the Zen teacher replied “If your practice is sincere, it is almost as good”.

I was incredibly inspired by this simple concept.

I know myself that I practice Buddhism because I identify with the precepts very strongly.  However I do not hold the belief that I will become enlightened – I would imagine very few Buddhist practitioners ever will become enlightened.

However I can practice with sincerity.  We all can.

And it doesn’t have to relate to Buddhist practice – we can live our lives with sincerity full stop.

I love that thought so much.

Sincerity encompasses so many things – living ethically, honestly and with pure intention.  And all of those things make such a difference not only to our lives, but to the lives of those that we touch.

You can’t really put a value on sincerity and honesty.

So this week I’ve tried to really keep that as my intention.

Also in this past week I heard a discussion on the Buddha – how before he became enlightened he had to live through many lives, and learn from each one.  He was reborn many times.  And of all the lives he lead, and the mistakes he made (as a lay person) one thing he never did was lie.  And specifically he did not lie to himself.

It’s a deep concept – to never lie to ourselves.

It’s also been on my mind this week, and I have given a lot of reflection on the ways I have lied to myself in the past.

There are so many great things that can be gained from self analysis and knowledge.  I feel blessed to have access to the dharma teachings.

And a new day each day to learn from them.

Namaste,

Meg

 

Let it go

Regular readers of my blog will know that last week was a less than ideal week for me.  Stress caught up with me, and I cracked somewhat.  I acted out of character, and I had to live with the consequences.

I’m feeling so much better in myself now.

One of the defining moments for me was a bus ride I took into the city on Monday morning.  I decided to make the most of that time, and listen to a dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal.  I may not have mentioned it before on my blog, but he is my absolute favour dharma speaker.  His talks (found at Audio Dharma) have taught me so much.  I am the person I am today thanks to Gil’s teachings.  So many of them have resonated with me on a very deep level.

So on this bus ride I decided to really take stock of what was going on in my life.  I put on my headphones, and picked a talk by Gil on “thinking”.  I spent the next 45 minutes looking out the bus window, and mindfully listening to his wisdom on thinking.  And I consciously let all the stress go.

I tried to just focus on what was happening to me in that present moment.  And when I did I found I could much better reconnect with myself.

Because what was happening in that moment?  I was having a day off work, I was on the bus (which I love).  I was lucky to be listening to a dharma talk by Gil.  And I was on my way to a rally against violence.  Something I felt very strongly about supporting.

Aside from the bus trip, I have also spent time recently doing things which replenished my soul.

It’s a bit of a daggy hobby (maybe), but I really adore doing jigsaw puzzles.  Ever since I was a child I have found them incredibly relaxing.  To me they are a form of meditation.  I sit there, and sift through the pieces, and let the thoughts come and go in my mind.  I find that afterwards anything I’ve been stewing over is released from my focus, and I feel much calmer and more focused.

I’ve also started to take a lot more note of the people in my life that I am grateful for.

And I have received so much support in recent weeks from my closest friends.  It makes me incredibly humbled.

It’s all these little things that make life so rich.

And on that note I’m going return to my cup of tea, my puzzle, and my classical music.

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Namaste my friends,

Meg

 

Just keep swimming

It’s been a great (and challenging) time for my practice lately.

It’s easy to ‘stay the course’ when things are going well.  But it’s when things are hard that you get to really put into use what you have learned.  And to also grow from the experience.

I must admit at the moment I feel that the ground is very shaky.

And I use that term as it’s one that I’ve seen often used by Pema Chodron in her great books and teachings.

She teaches that at the times when the ground is shaky, are the times that we need to lean into the experience, and to not feel scared and try to resist it.

And I am the worst for trying to resist change (if my friend Loren is reading this she will be laughing in agreement).

So right at this moment when I feel things are so unsettled I’m trying to just accept that, and not fight it.

The biggest issue I face is the knowledge that gossip is being spread about me behind my back that isn’t true (unrelated to my post from yesterday).

It’s stirred so many feelings in me – anger, betrayal, hurt, and indignation.  I want to set the record straight, I want to put out every “fire” where people are being given the wrong information, and set them straight about what really happened.

However in reality I know it’s not possible.  Unfortunately it’s a case where if someone throws enough mud, at least some of it will stick.  And the hard truth is that there is very little I can do about it.

The people that know me well know the truth.  And the people that believe the lies have absolute freedom to do that.  And there’s nothing I can really do to stop it.

I can only hold my head high, and keep my dignity, and have faith in myself.

It’s a good time to really think about things though – as my blogging friend Ben Naga commented – who was the “I” that felt outraged and hurt.

It’s a great time to delve further into it (gently) to figure out why it has hurt me so much.  And to perhaps let that go.

And also for me a great time to just accept the uncertainty of the moment, and maybe even embrace that.

(and in the meantime I’m feeling the love from my cat Milly :p)

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Lessons learnt

It’s been a very stressful, sobering and insightful day for me today.  And one where I learnt a valuable lesson.

I’ve always been very passive and very meek.  If someone was nasty to me I would get upset and “hide” rather than address the issue.

And even at 38 years old it’s still something I struggle with – to be direct and to speak up for myself.

Today I heard – on the grapevine – that someone had said something hurtful about me.

And I reacted a way I never have before.  I was hurt, and indignant and for the first time I wanted to say my piece.  And I did – very directly.  I contacted the person who was supposed to have said this about me, and I told them what I thought.  And immediately ended the friendship.

And in some ways I was very proud of myself for taking a stance, and for the first time ever (and I do mean ever) tackling something head on and saying a few words.

The only problem?

I was wrong.

It was apparently a case of interpretation of what was said, and not a verbatim quote by the person who overheard as I had thought.

And I’m deeply deeply ashamed.

I went against my very valued Buddhist belief of not gossiping, and of speaking with kindness and understanding.

And in the process I hurt the person I accused, as well as the person who confided in me as to what was said.

I apologised to both parties, but of course the damage has been done.

Trying to learn from it though, I realised that there’s a reason I have always acted cautiously and not lashed out like I did.  I acted without having the full story, and without giving the benefit of the doubt.  And I also broke someone’s trust (unintentionally).

I was not nasty, and at least said my piece in a civil manner.  But it was wrong regardless.

I feel sick about it still, but I feel determined to learn a valuable lesson from it, and watch my words – and mouth – more carefully.

 

 

Live life with more GRATITUDE and less ATTITUDE

Further to my post from yesterday – my intention at the start of this new year is to turn around my mindset, and experience more joy in life.

It’s quite widely recommended now to practice more gratitude – and most people would agree it’s a great idea, but it’s actually putting it into practice that becomes a stumbling block.

I know myself I’ve started doing it with good intentions, but after a while it just peters out and I stop doing it.

I’d like to try to focus on it more.

But not just to “list” what makes me grateful, but to truly give thought and thanks to those things.

The more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.

I was driving to my favourite coffee shop today, and along the way I was thinking about those things that truly make me happy.

My daily coffee is definitely up there.  And it’s not just the “coffee” but the entire experience.  I’m grateful for the conversations I have each day with the lovely people at my local Zaraffas (coffee shop).  I know them each by name (and vice versa) and every single time I go in I enjoy the friendly chat with them, and getting to know more about them.  I always walk away smiling.

And really how could I not be grateful for the white chocolate mocha that I receive at the same time 🙂

I’m grateful for the 2 dogs I am currently dog sitting.  It’s certainly been an experience having 4 animals (the 2 dogs, and my 2 inside cats) in my very small house.  But it’s also bought so much joy into my life.  As I type this I have 2 dogs asleep at my feet, and one cat purring away happily in my lap.  You can’t really put a price on that.

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Lily the spoodle

I’m especially grateful for my health and fitness.  At almost 40 I am the fittest and strongest I have ever been.  I am lucky to be able to run, and swim, and do weights, and be active.  And I’m lucky that I can (at the moment) still get away with wearing beach clothes.

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New shorts

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Keeping fit

And lastly – for today – I’m grateful for the small things.  Like fresh summer fruit, rainy cool days, my friends, and my faith.

Good days give you happiness and bad days give you wisdom.  Both are essential.

2016 – The Year of Meg

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A good friend of mine today reminded me it has been some time since I wrote on my blog.  And it’s true – as often happens life has gotten in the way.

She issued me with a challenge to write one blog post per week for the year – a challenge which I am accepting with excitement.

To be honest I don’t know yet what I will write about for future posts.

A lot has happened since in recent years for me.  And I hate to say that a lot of it has worn me down.  I always valued that no matter what happened I still had my excitement at life, my optimism, my “sparkle”.

But it has dimmed somewhat in recent years.  Numerous relationship failures (each worse than the last) has dulled my shine.

However I am determined to turn that around.

I honestly believe that 2016 is going to be a great year.  And mostly because I am determined to make it so.

This year my focus is to make it MY best year.  To focus on the friends and people that I hold dearest.  To conserve my energy to building those relationships, and to let those that are toxic end peacefully.  I am going to focus on what makes me happy, and what I am grateful for.  And rebuild my inner peace.

This will be The Year of Meg ♥