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

 

 

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 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.

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♥ 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

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)

Milly puzzle.JPG

 

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.

 

 

A strange existence

I am very moved by this quote I just came across!

“The world that we create, recreates us. And it’s a very strange existence we live in now, and we don’t realize it’s strange. We adapt to it. It lives and breathes us.”

Adam Campbell

Things that make me happy

Today’s post is dedicated to things lately that have made me happy, and that I am grateful for ♥

 

Nicole Cody’s Tibetan Singing Bowl – Healing Meditation

I adore Nicole’s guided meditations, and this one is something extra special.  I can still feel the beautiful humming energy of the singing bowl for a long time after finishing the meditation. It’s wonderful for shifting and clearing energy within your body and aura.

Pandora Radio

I only found Pandora Radio yesterday, and I LOVE it.  You can add the name of any particular song or artist that you like and it will create your own personalised radio station with similar songs.  This morning I am loving listening to music from Bob Marley, and The Big Chill.

Getting Unstuck – Pema Chodron Audiobook

A wonderful guide to stop repeating old and harmful patterns of thoughts and behaviour.  And I adore listening to Pema’s kind and compassionate and wise voice.

I would love to hear what things are making you all happy this week.

Blessings,

Meg

Everyday Wisdom #103

Whatever can be done, can be done more effectively when you add kindness.

Whatever words are spoken, will always be more compelling when expressed with kindness.

The kind deeds you exert in just one moment can have a positive impact that lasts a lifetime.

Your days will be brighter and your years fuller when you add kindness to your purpose.

Choose to be kind every day, and you’re truly choosing to live in a better world.

via www.marcandangel.com

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Everyday Habits That Will Make You Happier

Happiness is a choice. The growing body of research is demonstrating that as we become happier, we become better people. As we become happier we become more compassionate, more creative, more energetic, more financially successful, more emotionally and physically healthy.

~ Naomi Simson, founder of “Red Balloon”

 

Though we may all have varied goals and paths, ultimately, we all have the same objective: happiness

Here are small changes that you can make to your daily routine that will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:

  1. Expect the best
    Life usually lives up (or down) to your expectations.  Start each day with the expectation that something wonderful is going to happen – and chances are that it will!
  2. Give something to everyone you meet
    Give a gift to each person that you come across today.  Give the gift of your smile, a kind word, or your full attention.  Not only will it make them feel happy, it will increase your happiness too!
  3. Think the best of everyone
    We can never understand the “why” and “what” behind other people’s actions.  We can never understand fully what they are going through, or have been through.  By assuming the worst of others, we add unnecessary misery to life.  Assume that others have good intentions, and give them the opportunity to live up to those expectations!
  4. Concentrate on the now
    One of the greatest barriers to happiness is worry.  Worry of what may happen in the future.  And the worry is usually based on things that are outside of your control.  Focus on the present moment, rather than what may (or may not!) happen in the future.  After all, here and now is when we live. We might live tomorrow as well. But who knows.
  5. Eat well
    When we are busy it’s easy to skip meals, or get something quick (and unhealthy) on the go.  However our bodies – and minds – need regular nutritional food to function at our best.  This is something I am guilty of – not eating well, and then wondering why I feel so ordinary.  The simple (and amazing) truth is – the better we eat, the better we feel, and the better we function!
  6. Give what you would like to receive
    This is a great practice that I find very beneficial.  If I am lonely, I try to provide companionship to others.  If I am sad, I try to make someone else happy.  Through generosity and giving of ourselves we find happiness.
  7. Be thankful
    Each night before you go to sleep, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened through the day that you are grateful for.  No matter how big or small.  Or another idea – instead of reading my son a bedtime story, we sit and discuss all the things we were grateful for that day.  It’s a great way to connect.

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” ~Aristotle

Everyday Wisdom #103

Be honest with yourself

We can fool others, but we can’t fool ourselves.

Being honest with yourself brings freedom and self acceptance.

Respect yourself as you would want others to respect you.

Find your truths.

Follow your intentions.

And aspire to be a better person.

 

Everyday Wisdom #102

Listen well
Tell the truth
Say ‘I love you’ to those whom you do and ‘sorry’ when you are
Be grateful for this life

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