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.

 

 

Advertisements

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 🙂

 

 

 

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

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:

Poem 08.02.16.JPG

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

 

 

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

 

 

A Design So Vast

I really love this blog – A Design So Vast.

Today the author – Lindsey – answered some questions about herself.  They were such meaningful questions that I wanted to share my answers.  I would love to hear your answers too! 🙂

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Loneliness.  There is something indescribably heart-breaking about facing a tough battle and discovering that you are completely alone.  If I had one wish for the world, it would be that no one would ever feel alone.

Where would you like to live?

I don’t have any specific place – I would make the most of wherever I am.  I think there is always something to experience and appreciate no matter where you are.  And something you can learn, and people you can help.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Making someone else smile.  Kissing my sleeping little man as I go to bed. A hot cup of tea.  Meditation.  Really connecting with another living being – whether it’s a person or animal.  For me particularly if it’s an animal – it seems like time stops.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

People who have made mistakes that they regret.  I feel an incredible empathy, as everyone makes mistakes, and is entitled to another chance.  

Who are your favourite characters in history?

I’m actually not very knowledge about history – one of my biggest failings I guess.  It’s just something I have never been interested in.

Who are your favourite heroines in real life?

Audrey Hepburn – without a doubt.  She has been my idol for as long as I can remember – she is feminine, and kind, and gentle and classy.  She speaks beautifully and just radiates an innocence.

Your favourite painter?

Van Gough.  My favourite painting of his is Starry Night, closely followed by Starry Night Over the Rhone.

Your favourite musician?

I’m not sure I could narrow it down to one.  My favourites would be:  Chris Martin (from Coldplay), Bono, Jeff Buckley, Paul Simon and Billy Joel.

The qualities you most admire in a man?

Kindness, humour, the ability to make me feel safe and cared for, and a sense of fun.

The qualities you most admire in a woman?

Independence, Elegance, Softness.

Your favourite virtue?

Honesty, Integrity, Compassion.

Your favourite occupation?

A carer or therapist.

Who would you have liked to be?

A Buddhist Nun.  Failing that, I would have liked to have had a very simple, and honest life as a housewife/mother.  Raising children, looking after my partner, and volunteering in the community.

I would LOVE to hear you answers to these questions.

Blessings,

Meg

Random thoughts

I’ve been very lucky to have had a time of self growth and self analysis in the last couple of months.

It was triggered by a number of events.  Largely the spectacular failure of 2 relationships last year.  But also the same advice I kept hearing over and over …. that I needed “to become stronger in myself”.

This last piece of advice was repeated frequently and from different people.  And each time I would stand puzzled thinking – exactly how does one do that?  How is that defined?

However apart from uttering those words, I was not given any other instructions or tips.

I think though I have started to understand what was being said to me.

The change has come around through a couple of key changes I have made.

One is a daily meditation practice.  Since starting this on the 1st of January (yes a new years resolution), I have noticed huge changes in myself.  I am a lot calmer and less emotional.  Events that would have had me react quickly now don’t tend to ruffle me.  I am more even-tempered.

Additionally I have decided to withdraw into myself.

In the past I have always reached out to people when I have been fearful and needed comfort.

This time I have kept my own counsel.

I have meditated, I have read, I have listened to dharma talks.  

And maybe most importantly, I have started to distance myself from toxic people and relationships.

So many times the universe gives us signs, and that is what has happened to me.  I felt like the universe was telling me to limit contact with the people who were not bringing happiness into my life.

It hasn’t been easy for me, but I felt like it was something important that I needed to do.

I read somewhere that you become like the 5 people that you most spend time with.  And that really stayed with me.  I want to be happy and positive and kind.  And it made me think about the people in my life.  And what they brought in to it.

It’s been a slow process.  But I have looked closely at all my relationships.  And I have formed new ones that are based on what I would like to have in my life.  And discontinued those that were built on a foundation of stress, drama and unhappiness.

And today I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time – I volunteered to work at my son’s school.

It’s something only small, but it’s given me a great deal of satisfaction, and happiness and hope.

And I’m starting to feel that maybe things are starting to turn around.

2012 was not a good year, especially the last 6 months.  And at first I blamed bad luck – I have always laughed off the events in my life as my typical bad luck.

However I’ve thought about that a lot more lately.  And perhaps I’ve created that bad luck.  By the people I’ve allowed into my life.  And the behaviour I’ve been willing to accept.

I allowed myself to be treated badly, and I was.  Spectacularly so.

I feel different now though.  

Perhaps I have finally found the inner strength that everyone has urged me to find.

And now instead of looking at recent events as “good luck”, it might be more sensible to see it as laying a foundation of more positive experiences.  

Because in the end the responsibility for my own happiness lies within me.

Is it possible to be happy with this life?

Is it possible to be happy with this life?

 

 

A touching and wonderful video ♥

Don’t give up

Obstacles that we face can become our teachers.  In this way, life can teach us and wake us up.

And the key is to approach it this way.  Rather than seeing life as more and more of a burden.  Leading to us becoming more and more depressed and losing hope.  Leading to us becoming discouraged.

The simple answer is learning to stay.

To stay with what is.

With a good sense of humour.  

With loving kindness (towards yourself and others).

And by bringing in as much warmth and gentleness as possible.

The world can be a hard and unforgiving place.  We all go through struggles and challenges.  We don’t need to add extra harshness – we need to treat ourselves and each other which as much kindness and love and gentleness as possible.

And ultimately, we need to hang in there, and wait for the tide to change.

Image

Everyday Wisdom #19

Life is a highway

We are all on the journey called life.

On life’s road there are all sorts of  obstacles and difficulties.

Sometimes the journey is rough, and bumpy.  Othertimes it is smooth, and we travel along contentedly.

On this journey we have the opportunity to talk to other passengers.  To travel with them.  At other times we travel by ourselves.

The scenery will change, the passengers will change.  But we have the opportunity to cultivate the state of mind to adjust to the changes, and continue on with our journey.

The key is to relax and enjoy the ride.

 

 

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” 

– Lao-Tzu

Embrace your vitality

There’s something about the word vitality. I love it.

Vitality to me encompasses laughter, energy, determination and enthusiasm.

In fact, in writing this post, I decided to look up the definition in the dictionary, and one meaning for vitality is:

“the capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence”

That to me sums up my life – a quest for a meaningful existence.

To me, these things contribute to a meaningful existence:

  • Decide to be happy
  • Get up, dress up, and show up
  • Consider your intentions in life.  Live according to those intentions and beliefs
  • Have a purpose, find meaning in what you do
  • Be as kind as possible
  • Have fun
  • Laugh lots, and don’t take life too seriously
  • Always be considerate and respectful of the people around you, and your environment
  • Do what you ought to do, not what you want to do
  • Keep striving to improve yourself
  • Each day do something good for someone else
  • Find beauty in everything

What makes your life meaningful?  

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Image

Everyday Wisdom #2

Stop, look and listen

It’s easy to live as if on a constant treadmill – you go to work, you eat, you sleep, you go to work again, and so forth. Until it’s the weekend again.

Make regular time to stop and reflect on your life.

Today, spend a few minutes daydreaming.  Without guilt.  Allow yourself this downtime, and simply let thoughts emerge.

Then listen to what your innate wisdom is telling you.

Spreading kindness

I was inspired by reading this great blog post today Be Kind Anyway.

Mother Teresa was truly such a beautiful person.

She was a great reminder to us all that as human beings, we are capable of bringing about a world based on kindness and compassion.

This blog post is dedicated to remembering her, and the kindness, compassion and love she brought to the world.
 

“Spread love everywhere you go: First of all in your own house…let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
 

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
 

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
 

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream,realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game,play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure,dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it!”

 

 

Together we can create a society based upon peace, harmony, wisdom and compassion.

 

Image

Everyday I’m sufferin’

In recent times I have tried to change my attitude towards events in my life that would have previously made me very stressed and tense.

It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally come to accept that things that happen are neither good or bad, they just “are”.  

By attaching a “this is a catastrophe” label, I am only increasing the stress and suffering for myself.

The first time I really noticed the shift in my attitude was about 12 months ago.

Every 12 months I have to go into the hospital to have test and biopsies done.  

This used to cause me enormous stress.  I would become increasingly anxious for days leading up to it.  I would stop eating, and sleeping.  I would cry throughout the entire procedure.  It left me feeling exhausted, physically and emotionally, for days afterwards.

Last year the hospital visit occurred 3 months after my marriage fell apart.

This time I was so focused on other things, and had so much on my mind, that the hospital visit barely even registered.

And I realised afterwards – the event itself was exactly the same.  Day in hospital, biopsies, results, then home.  However my attitude towards it was MUCH different.  

I just did it.

And the stress to myself that time was non-existent.

The events in our lives are going to happen whether we attach extra suffering and layers to them, or simply approach them calmly.  However the difference between these two options – to ourselves and our wellbeing – is huge.

Now I try not to attach labels, or levels, of “good”, “bad”, or “neutral” to life’s events.

I have a choice.

And I choice to be peaceful and happy.

And I am not going to allow events in my life – or rather my reaction to them – to take away from that happiness ♥

 

Image

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Stay focused

12 months ago, heck even 6 months ago, I was in a very bad place.

But it was a turning point for me.

I feel like I have been given a 2nd chance in life, and I know what I want my life to be about.  

And what I DON’T want my life to be about.  I don’t want it to be about depression and anxiety and fear.

I want to make a difference in people’s lives.  In my community.  To those around me.

And it feels scary.  And liberating.  To stand up – at 35 – and say unequivocally that this is what I believe in.  And what I want my life to be about.

I have always put everyone’s opinions ahead of my own.  Always.  And it’s very foreign territory for me to take a stand.  

But this time I am following my heart ♥

 

“Embarking on a spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands.  With wholehearted practice comes inspiration….”  Pema Chodron

 

Image

What exactly are your intentions?!!

Intention sets direction

All of us have different intentions that will arise – depending on the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

We can’t control those intentions, impulses and desires that arise, but we can choose whether or not we follow them.

The intentions you do act on define who you are.

There are many different situations that we face throughout life – some of them difficult – and most times we have little direct control over them.

What we do have control over is how we react to those situations, and with what intention.

Our intentions have a huge effect on our minds, and our behaviour.  And not only do they affect our ourselves, but also the people around us.  And subsequently how we see and experience the world.

For example if you have an intention to be kind and generous, you will mostly find that people around you will react positively and kindly.  Conversely if your intention is to be angry, you will likely be met with the same from those around you.

It’s nearly like “instant karma” where we can immediately feel the effect that acting on certain intentions has.  And this doesn’t just apply to our speech and actions, but our thoughts as well.  By practising mindfulness, you will notice how angry thoughts produce unpleasant sensations in your body.  And vice-versa.

The intentions that we live on also create a habit in the mind.  It strengthens those intentions, so the mind is more likely to react in the same way in the future.  If your intentions are mean-spirited, then you are strengthening those tendencies.  If your intentions are to be kind and generous and giving, you will also strengthen those conditions in your mind.

And the time that your unconscious intentions and reactions are most likely to arise is during times of stress and anxiety.

Practice exercises

Spend some time considering the following:

  • Which intentions do you act on?
  • Which intentions do you decide are useful?
  • What conditioning arises for you during times of stress?

And most importantly, spend some time asking yourself the following question:

“What is the deepest intention that I want my life to be based on?”

And how can you follow through on that intention?

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  What we think we become”.  The Buddha.

Follow your bliss

Image

Happiness is a journey, not a destination

Most of us spend our lives analysing the past, or worrying about the future.

The reality is though that the present is the only time that really matters – where we can actually make a difference.

So make it count.

Be kind – it makes you feel happier and spreads that joy to someone else.

Be grateful – appreciate what you have, instead of wanting what you don’t have.

and most importantly…

Make the decision to be happy.

Remember…

Life is without meaning, you bring the meaning to it.

So have fun, live life fully, and follow your bliss.

Image