Beating the odds

It’s now 8 months since my partner and I got back together.

I never thought that it would be possible to “have a break”and yet come back together so perfectly.

It’s utterly heartbreaking to split with someone – but when you do you get a very honest and open and REAL idea of who they really are.

Are they vengeful?  Nasty?  Spiteful?  Or maybe even worse … ambivalent?

It took going through that with my partner to get a better idea of who he really was.

We’d been together for 2 years, but I’d never really allowed myself to open fully.  I didn’t realise that at the time.  I knew that I was guarded.  After getting to 36yo and having been through a divorce, and then increasingly awful relationships afterwards it’s hard not to be.

You do question “why am I so unlovable?”

When I met Mr ISFS I never wanted to create conflict.  Which meant basically I was a doormat.  If I was upset I said nothing.  If I wanted something I said nothing.  I was scared if I wasn’t “perfect” that he would be just another one who left me.

As issues arose and festered we didn’t communicate… and it lead to everything falling apart.

After we split though we were both raw and open and honest with each other.

I saw that ultimately all he cared about was me.

And he never stopped caring during that time – he just wanted to look after me.

The dynamics are completely different now.

Yes issues are going to arise and need to be worked through.  But I’m on longer scared to have an opinion and to voice it.  If something upsets me I call him on it.

I’m not scared to do it any longer because I KNOW now with all my heart that we are in it together forever.

I’ve learnt a lot from going through this experience (which I’ll discuss more in future blog posts), however the biggest lesson I learnt was to just be open.  It’s scary, and you have to take a chance and be vulnerable.  But you cannot have a truly meaningful relationship without it.

I still am grateful every moment of every single day that we got back together and we made it work.

And in June of this year we cemented it by getting engaged ♥

Ring

 

 

Change, growth and balance

I saw this photo this morning, and I suddenly realised that this describes me perfectly.

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It’s so far removed from the person I used to be.

I woke up at 2am this morning with this same thought on my mind.  It occurred to me very suddenly that I have changed so much.

Because I have Mr ISFS and I am so utterly content, I have been free to grow and develop as a person.  It’s the first time in my life that I’ve felt completely settled and at peace.  And I’ve really grown into my own skin.

I realised I am now the lion.

I don’t want to lose touch though with those qualities of compassion and empathy that I value so highly and feel so strongly.  So I am tempering my new strength with staying true to my heart.

It’s Mr ISFS and I against the world ♥

Zen and the art of domesticity

There’s so much happiness to be found in domesticity (for me at least).

Growing up I was never ambitious.  I never wanted to have a career, or study.  I just wanted to look after my family.  I had dreams of living in a country area, having lots of kids, and cooking/baking everything from scratch.  The whole cliché of bein g in a farmhouse kitchen, wearing an apron, making bread, collecting eggs from my own hens.

That life didn’t eventuate (although I still have dreams of it).

But my heartfelt desires still remain the same.

I’ve decided that every Sunday is going to be a housekeeping day for me.  A day of preparing for the week ahead.  Grocery shopping, cooking, washing, cleaning and general organisation.

Mr ISFS and I have dreams of owning our own house one day soon, so we are trying very hard to budget and live frugally.

Today I firstly put together a menu plan for the week, based largely on the fact I can now make my own noodles.

Then I went grocery shopping.  I went to our local “asian mecca” and bought lots of lovely quality asian greens, and bones to make broth.

Once I got home I started cooking for the week ahead.  I made 3 different batches of noodles.  I made beef chow mein for Mr ISFS’s lunch for the next few days.  I made a banana bread using up overripe bananas I had.  I made taco mince for Master ISFS who has very distinct ideas about what he will and won’t eat for dinner.  I cooked spicy pork mince ready for ramen I will make tomorrow night.

In a nutshell I cooked, I baked, I cleaned, and I washed clothes.

And it was one of the best days I have had in a long time.

I felt such a great sense of satisfaction – I achieved so much today for my little family.  I feel proud that we are well organised for the work week ahead.  And most importantly I have saved us lots of money by cooking everything from scratch – plus it’s much healthier!

It’s days like that that make me truly thankful ♥

Trying to be an island

I read a wonderful article today  “How to Stop Being Influenced by Other People’s Moods”.

I was drawn to read it because it’s something that I really need to work on.  I’ve always been very highly sensitive, and affected by other people’s moods.

This was particularly the case in my marriage.  My ex-husband used to suffer from bad headaches, and when he did he was very cranky.  And it really used to affect me. His crankiness made me feel on edge, and unable to avoid being drawn into his bad mood.  And we’d both suffer.

I learnt a lot of lessons after my marriage ended, but it’s something I still struggle with.  Not to be affected if people around me are stressed/angry etc.

This line from the article particularly spoke to me:

Everyone has the right to be in a bad mood if that is the way they feel, and by not feeling responsible for other people’s bad moods we give them the space to feel as they need without more negativity being directed towards them.

I’d never thought of it that way.

That by being responsible for my own mood, and maintaining my own mindfulness and “peace” that I was actually doing them a great kindness.

I personally struggle to do anything for myself, but I would do anything for anyone else.

So the idea of maintaining my own calm as a kindness to someone else appeals to me greatly.

This is a solo journey, but we share it with billions of other humans. Learning to not be thrown off by other people’s moods and emotions through mindfulness, self-awareness and gentle self-inquiry is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves, as well as for others.

 

 

Growing a spine

I was driving along in my car a couple of days ago, and contemplating life (as I often do).

And  I realised that I am a much stronger person these days.  Stronger on the inside and the outside.

I found out the hard way early on that I have a lot of resilience, and unfortunately I’ve found that out by going through hard times over and over and over again and picking up the pieces.  Which I guess is what resilience is in a nut shell!

But in a lot of ways I was still very meek and passive.  Far too much so.

I don’t know exactly when that changed, but it was quite suddenly.

I suspect it may have been the day I found out that someone was spreading lies about me and accusing me of cheating.  That was the day that I finally cracked and said no more.  The old me would have been upset and said nothing.  The new me had some very firm and direct words to say to them.

And that’s when I learnt…

I’m not afraid to speak my mind now.  I’m not afraid to say no, and to stand strong in my beliefs and stand behind my ethics.

I used to care too much what people thought of me, and of upsetting people.

And now that I am stronger I’ve noticed that I am occasionally having people upset with me.  And that’s still not easy.  But firstly there’s no pleasing everyone.  And secondly I’ve found that I don’t want to be that “doormat” any more that tries to keep everyone happy.

I will always act ethically, and as kindly as I possibly can.  But I WILL also stand behind my beliefs, and my morals.  And I won’t compromise those to keep other people happy.

It is a great opportunity for me to temper this new found strength with my belief in right speech, so I’ve been very mindful of that lately – more so than usual.

Maybe this is what ‘almost 40 feels’ like 🙂

 

 

 

The value of true friends

I’ve been having a little bit of a hard time lately with poor sleeping/nightmares etc so have been dragging myself through each day somewhat.

Regardless though of what is happening in my life, and how I am feeling, my friends always bring me the greatest joy.

I never for a moment take for granted the wonderful people in my life ♥

My friends cheer me up, make me smile, tell me the hard truths when I need it (and really you can’t put a value on that!).

true friends.jpg

My friends are always there for me – to talk to, to vent to, to keep me company.

And something that I value more than I can say – I know that they have my back.  They believe me, they believe IN me, and they stand up for me.

I’ve never had the privilege of having friends that I call family, and I am blessed beyond belief ♥

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International PEOPLE’S day

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and it was promoted very widely in the circles I am part of.  A lot of my friends participated in the International Women’s Day fun run, and I saw a lot of inspiring posts and message of support on Facebook.

It felt somehow ‘off’ to me however, as I don’t believe there should be a special day celebrating just one gender.

I believe all people are completely equal – men, women, and children. Regardless of gender, regardless of race or sexual preference. Every single human being matters (and every single living breathing creature for that matter).

All genders/races/nationalities should be as equally important every day of the year.

I would love to see World Kindness Day highlighted instead.

And for the focus to be on spreading loving and kindness to everyone in the world – not only as a whole, but in each little part of our individual worlds.  Every person we come across ♥

The search for hope

This may be one of the more contentious posts that I’ve ever written.  However the intention behind writing it is to spark discussion around depression, and for us to share our suffering and experiences.

And I would like to STRONGLY preface this post by stressing this is my personal experience and struggle only.   It may be confronting for some.

It’s also a long read.

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I was watching a documentary yesterday about a forest in Japan.  The documentary was voiced by the unfortunate gentleman who searches for the forest for the poor people that enter it with the intention of never coming back out.

He made mention of a sign that has been erected at the entrance of the forest, advising people to consider their family and friends, and to reach out and seek help for depression.  He said that we are never really on our own.

Having struggled my entire life with mental illness (including severe depression and anxiety) this is an emotive issue for me.

Hence my blog post today to talk about it.

My intention for this post is to share my experience, and encourage others to do the same.  In the hope that we can find hope and comfort.

Continue reading

♥ Blended families ♥

Last night Mr ISFS and I were watching tv with my son, and he asked if he could take both of our photos on his iPad.

He went into his room, and was working away diligently on his iPad.

When he came back, he surprised us with this:

Meg and Dave

It’s only a picture he created, but it meant so much to Mr ISFS and I.

I had never realised the challenges (and blessings) of having a blended family before I met Mr ISFS.

In my experience there are a lot of extras to factor in when you have a non-birth parent sharing child raising with you.

You have brought this person into your child’s life.  You’ve taken a chance – you hope that they will get along well, and will maybe grow to even love each other.

You hope that you have done a good job of raising your child up until then so that they are well-mannered and tolerable.  You hope that things are blissful and calm in this new family.  And sometimes they are, and more often than not they aren’t.

I know personally I have struggled to let go of the guilt of “letting” Mr ISFS look after my son whilst I do something else (go out for a run, go grocery shopping etc).

And I know Mr ISFS struggles with disciplining, and the fear that he’ll be seen as the “cranky stepfather”.

With love and communication and openness though we deal with each issue as it comes along.

And there will always be issues to face – the same as for any family.

But it was very touchingto see this image my son created.

I love that he has grown to think of Mr ISFS as his dad as well.  I say “as well”, because Mr ISFS will never replace his own Dad.  But I love that my son has that affection for him, and thinks of him that way.

Maybe we are doing something right after all ♥

 

Use your thoughts for good and not evil

I saw this great post on FB this week, and it hit home for me, because it’s something I really believe in.Ordinary things

I think part of it is due to my mindfulness practice (which encourages noticing all the small things), but maybe more because I’ve found that it’s doing this that brings real happiness.

My belief is that you should have lots of things in your life that make you happy – all the small moments combined should bring you a sense of gratitude and satisfaction. And if they don’t then it’s probably time to look at why, and what you can do to change it.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows – actually from my experience it’s usually the opposite – but if you can focus on the small things that you love then it balances it all out.

For me personally the things that have made me happy this week are:

  • Going to the shops as a family and buying beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables for the week.  I’ve found a great fruit shop that sells the most beautiful fruit – it’s always such fantastic quality.  And things like that give me so much happiness.  I adore my fruit and vegetables and knowing I have a fridge full of the loveliest produce makes me really happy.
  • Nourishing my soul with classical music.  I work from home, so I have the freedom to listen to whatever I like to during the day.  And lately I’ve been listening to cello music.  It’s something Mr ISFS and I both have a passion for.  I just love having it on in the background as I work.
  • Books.  I’ve always been a huge bookworm since I could read.  Sometimes I find I get too busy with other things to read much, but it’s always such a joy to go back to it.  On Thursday during lunch I sat with my feet up, a cup of tea, my cello music playing, and a new book to read, and it was (to me) the idea of perfection.
  • Sharing my favourite takeout (noodles) with Mr ISFS.  This is something that we have always done – shared our favourite takeout together at least once a month.  We are trying to save for a house, so we are mostly budgeting very carefully, but once a month we splurge and get all our favourites – Kway Teow, Garlic Prawns, Special Fried Rice, and spring rolls.

and lastly

  • 12599343_960538727371424_1772379474_n(1)Valentine’s Day.  Today has a heightened meaning for me today, and it’s been a chance to realise how truly blessed I am.  I bought Mr ISFS a 1st edition copy of DeadPool (the comic), and he bought me a pair of amethyst earrings.  They have such special meaning for me as he picked them specially as they are my birthstone, and he knows how much I love them.  But the gifts are really only a very minor part of the day – the day is a reaffirmation for me of how much I love the life we have built together, and how much it means to me.

I am struggling with some personal issues at the moment (health related), but it’s focusing on these small things that makes my life full, and I realise how truly blessed I am.

Much love,
Meg

Just keep going

I just saw this great post by my blogging friend Jonathan Hilton:

Take some time today to make sure that you are better than you were yesterday. Don’t worry about being the best in the world at what you do. That is subjective anyway, who is to say what is greatest? Compared to yourself there is not debating that you are better or worse than you were yesterday. Physically, spiritually and mentally improve just a fraction of a percent and you are on your way to being the best you that you can be.

 

I love this a lot, and I really think it is the key to a happy and fulfilled life.  And by improving ourselves we improve the world around us.

The reality is that we will all make mistakes.  We will all stumble and fall.  All we can do though is try to do better.  And this is true in all aspects of life – friendships, relationships, work, society.

We can recognise where we have failed, or would do things differently, learn from it, and make an intention to do better next time.

I love that life is so full of opportunities to help people, and that includes helping ourselves first so we can better help those around us.

Much love,
Meg

 

Poetry and prose

I’ve been finding myself drawn to writing poetry more lately.  I’ve always had a passion for it – particularly when I was younger – but as my adult years approached my creativity was replaced by responsibilities.  I love that it’s coming back to me.

I was thinking yesterday about how I’ve changed in recent years.  Through life experiences (good, and very horrid) my expectations and desires have changed radically.

Particularly in what I thought I wanted in a relationship.

So many things have changed in relation to those expectations – as I realised what was important and what wasn’t.

One of the very small things was that I thought it would be lovely for my partner to also be on Facebook.  Mr ISFS used to be on Facebook a long time ago (in a galaxy far far away), but he had a bad experience and deactivated his account.   And there is next to no chance he will ever go back.

I actually admire him a lot for that. It’s something that I should do, but so much of my life is entwined with Facebook, including my work.

However I used to wistfully think though how nice it would be to have him on there to support me.  I would look at my friends whose partners would comment on their posts with something gushy and romantic, and think that would be so sweet to have that myself.

I realised yesterday though that it’s not something I desire any longer.

I would rather keep that side of my life private, and to tell Mr ISFS how much I love him face to face.

There’s something I have realised – how beautiful it is to have our love kept between us.  When broadcast it to the world – it seems (to me) to diminish it somehow.

And these words and this poem formed themselves in my mind:

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It also feels so much better to respect his privacy, and not overshare on social media as I have been guilty of myself in the past.

I am by nature a very open and sharing person.  And unfortunately that quite often has been my downfall at times.  But this time I am really loving being more private about my relationship – it makes it seem even more special and magical.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

Drowning not waving

In terms of following my practice, and acting skilfully today was not a day I am proud of.  Actually I feel a bit ashamed if I’m honest.

I knew that I was being an egghead, but knowing it, and changing it are 2 different things entirely.  And today not much could turn my mindset around.  But I’ve decided to just treat myself with compassion, and try harder next time.

Today I had to spend the day in hospital having tests done.

And it’s something that I have to have done regularly.  It wasn’t the first time and it certainly isn’t the last.

I have 20+ breast tumours, and I’ve been dealing with it for 8 years since I first found out.  For 8 years I’ve tried to cope with it as best I can, and to act with grace and dignity.

Some days I have been more successful than others.

My first core biopsy was one of the not so successful times.  Knowing that I had to have an incision with a scalpel first, and then an instrument inserted really got to me.  I cried uncontrollably throughout the entire procedure.

Some visits I have been proud of – one of those I felt very calm and spent the time talking to other patients in the waiting area and trying to make them feel better.  That one comes to mind.

But today I just struggled.

No particular reason.  I was expecting it to go the same as any other visit – mammogram, ultrasound, specialist visit, biopsies.   Same as every other visit over the last 8 years.

The difference though was my mindset.

I didn’t want to do it.  Pure and simple.  I started to dwell on it yesterday.  I tried to talk myself into saying it wasn’t necessary.  That I could put it off another year.  I tried to get reassurance from my partner, family and friends that they also thought I could just put it off.

But naturally they were more worried about my health and wellbeing, and gently persuaded me to keep the appointment.

I got up this morning feeling relatively cheerful, but as soon as I was in the car it went downhill.

And boy was I resisting this hospital visit!  With basically every fibre of my being.

I repeatedly told myself (and my partner) that I didn’t want to do it.  I sat in the car sullenly on the way there.  I thought of all the reasons I didn’t want to go – the procedures themselves, the cost, the hours spent waiting, the invasiveness of it.

And yes, all of those things are pretty unpleasant.  I don’t deny that.

After finding the first lump I was reading an article where life changes for a woman once she discovers a lump in her breast.  That everything seems to shift, and her life is never as carefree again.  And I do agree that that is true.  Because once you find one, you then face it forever more.

And for me it wasn’t just one.   Well at first it was.  But they soon started multiplying.  One became 3, which became 5, which over years became 20.  Till it got to the point that they said it wasn’t helpful to tell me the number anymore.  My local GP’s were no longer able to handle my case, so I was referred to the specialists at the hospital.  And even they said I was a difficult case, and that they “drew straws” on who had to do the ultrasounds etc.  And I do feel their pain lol.

But the reality is – it is what it is.  I have these tumours and I have to have them monitored and tested.  And I can either accept that or resist it.  My attitude isn’t going to change the reality of the situation – it’s only going to make it more unpleasant for myself in the long run.

And I know that.  But today was harder than others to just accept it with a smile.

And I definitely was not smiling about it today.

Hospital 04.02.16

But I recognise that my attitude was (very) unskillful.  And I can only do better next time to accept it a bit more, and resist it a LOT less.

Much love to you all,

Meg

 

 

Embrace the everyday moments

I am so grateful for all the lovely comments I received on my post yesterday – it took me completely by surprise and I was very humbled ♥

Further to yesterday’s post I was thinking today about how it really is the small and seemingly insignificant moments that we will look back on and treasure.

I found the most delightful book recently – it was the story of a couples romance told in comic strip style – called Soppy: A Love Story.

soppy

It’s so beautifully charming and engaging in it’s simplicity.

And it’s also very thought provoking.  It’s full of the small moments that make up most relationships, but combined they are what gives the relationship it’s “story”.

It made me so badly want to document my own relationship this way. And if I could draw I would, but alas I cannot 😀

But if I could, I would draw in pictures my favourite ‘ordinary’ moments:

Sharing our favourite takeout – both of us swatting our 2 cats off the kitchen table between mouthfuls.

Having animated conversations about great white sharks (a passion of both of ours).

Laughing together over the hilarious things my 10yo comes out with:

Me:  “Put your pants on!”
1oyo “But I can’t find them!  I’ve lost them!!”
“Oh here they are, on the bookcase”

Trying in vain to sleep while our cats fight on top of us at 2am.

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Me standing talking to Mr ISFS every night as he has his shower – sharing our days, and deep meaningful conversations.

It’s every one of these small moments that I will treasure forever, as they honour the story of ‘us’ ♥

 

 

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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