Do you hear me?

I have recently become involved with a local Deaf and Hearing Support charity, as a volunteer and attendee of their free weekly sign language classes. As I’m in the UK, the language we are learning is British Sign Language (I’m told it’s VERY different from American Sign Language, plus the numerous other sign languages that exist – in fact, even within the UK there are many regional differences, making it just as complex to learn and understand as any spoken language).

You may be wondering by now why I’m writing about sign language, so I’ll crack on and cut to the chase. All of this has got me thinking about how we communicate with each other, and indeed with ourselves. I am only just now beginning to understand the devastating impact of having not felt ‘heard’ as a child and a teenager, and possibly also as an adult. We may be sounding out words, but whether or not they are being fully received and really listened to is another matter.

Let’s be honest, there are a whole host of reasons why we may feel unheard. Perhaps we struggle to communicate what we need, struggling even to formulate our emotions and experiences into sentences the other person can understand, or shying away from what we want to say because we fear being judged. Perhaps the person we’re speaking to can’t understand our point of view, or is too wrapped up in their own issues to fully empathise with us in the way we want them to. Or perhaps they are literally not listening to us, but rather coasting through the conversation with a series of words and noises which sound good enough, but our gut tells us that they’re just not interested. Whatever the reason, the effects can feel really devastating, especially if we’re talking to someone we feel really ought to understand, and whose opinion and understanding are important to us.

So why is this so important? Why do we need to feel heard in the first place? I’m sure most of you already know the answer: it’s simply part of the human experience to need to communicate the way we feel, and to thereby feel supported and part of a bigger whole. No man (or woman) is an island, and trying to operate alone is a very lonely and depressing experience.

I often find that I’m so frustrated with someone who isn’t meeting my conversational expectations, that I don’t realise I’m doing the same thing in return. I was talking with a family member earlier today, and because I was frustrated with them for not acknowledging what I had been saying, I started to lose interest in the conversation and give very minimal responses. “Listen to me!” I wanted to say. “Stop talking about yourself and listen to what I have to say”. It’s a vicious circle of people not feeling heard or acknowledged, often resulting in the individuals coming away feeling frustrated and depressed.

So what can we do to make sure that we’re really heard, and also that we’re aware of our own emotional and conversational needs?

  • Make time to do nothing. Carve out some time every day, no matter how small, just to take a breather, get some perspective and check in with your feelings. Keep a diary/journal if you want to. This can take any form you like – from a stream of consciousness to a bullet list of things to ask yourself, such as ‘how am I feeling?’ and ‘what do I need in this moment?’.
  • Develop an awareness of who amongst your friends and family is good to talk to, and who isn’t! Like it or not, there are often people in our lives we wish would really listen to us and provide that support and comfort we all crave, but for some reason they just aren’t able to give us what we need. Whilst this can really hurt, continuing to return to this person in the hopes that something will have changed is a recipe for heartache, frustration and a whole host of other emotions we’d rather not be feeling! Being realistic about what people have to offer means that you can ensure you seek support from the right places, and come away feeling lighter, not weighed down by additional worries.
  • Share how you feel. If you feel like someone in your life, such as your partner, isn’t listening to you in the way you’d like them to, consider letting them know. There’s no need to go in all guns blazing and blame them for not making enough effort – although obviously this might be the case! The best thing in my experience is to open up a conversation about what’s going on, what isn’t working for you, and how the other person feels about what you’re saying. Basically, just open up the line of communication and put your heads together to troubleshoot how you can both make sure you’re getting what you need. Consider carving out some time to get away from your routine, so that there’s enough mental space for you to really listen and be heard.
  • Cultivate friendships which feel good, with people who encourage you to express yourself and to become more and more of who you are. Some people drain our energy, whilst others build us up and help us to feel lighter. Once you’re aware of this, it’s easier to choose who to spend time with, when and how often. It’s not that there’s anything bad or wrong with people who drain your energy, or that by choosing not to spend time with them you are being disloyal to someone you love or care about as a friend. It’s just about being honest with yourself, knowing that if you take care of your needs, you will inevitably have more energy to give to everyone in your life.
  • Get creative! Your emotions don’t always need to be expressed as spoken or written words. Why not listen to some emotive music and do some freestyle dancing around the kitchen? Or if that’s a bit too out-there for you, maybe just get out some colouring pens and pencils and a blank sheet of paper and see what happens. I love to doodle and not put pressure on myself to create an artistic masterpiece – although sometimes I’m surprised by how much I like what I’ve drawn!

In conclusion, there’s a definite difference between hearing the words coming from someone’s mouth, and truly listening to what they’re saying/being emotionally available for them. And there is soooooo much to gain from listening to ourselves, and making sure we nurture and take care of ourselves the way we’d like others to take care of us. I often find myself feeling frustrated by how low I feel, when in theory I’m doing all the right things. But there’s a massive difference between what’s right on paper and what truly feels right for us. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, and whilst I still wish that there was a set of precise instructions for me to follow as I go through life, I’m starting to see that I am a unique piece of a greater jigsaw puzzle, and that the world needs me – and all of us – to show up as the people we truly are underneath all the social norms, peer pressure and family expectations.

P.S. I really love writing to you, whoever you are. I’m really trying my hardest to be more motivated, because I really do want to share as much as I can about what I’ve learned – mostly as a result of my less than smooth path in life thus far! Or maybe I’ll write a few more blog posts and realise I’m out of ideas…! Joking aside, it’s hard to believe in yourself (or in my case, myself) enough to keep writing a blog, especially living in the UK where we’re not supposed to promote ourselves or talk confidently about our skills or talents! Persevere I shall, and if you’ve taken the tiniest nugget of wisdom from this post, then I’m a happy English bunny.

Peace be with you, my fellow earth dwellers.

Bye for now x

To feel loved, first love yourself.

If you drop something on the floor, I will pick it up for you.

If you need a shoulder to cry on, I will offer you two.

If you just don’t understand, I will provide as many answers as I can.

If you are sad and lonely, I will hold your hand until you feel strong again.

Whatever you need, I will do everything I can to be there for you.

I do this with an open heart and a true desire to see you through the difficult and dark times in life.

You are stronger than you know.

You’ve got this, but know that I’ve got you too.

But if you think I’m a kind person, you should hear how I talk to myself…

I berate myself at every opportunity, and call myself names like ‘lazy good for nothing’ and ‘ugly cow’.

I do not like myself, and do not care for my own needs.

I think people are wonderful, but I am the one exception to this rule.

I don’t know how to comfort myself, having never bothered to learn.

I have failed myself and my family, by simply not being good enough.

So why should I be nice to myself?

Why waste my time on me, when I could be watching out for you?

The trouble is…

I realise, after much suffering and heartache, that I don’t really know how to let love in.

I tend to your needs because it makes me feel lovable, but I never let your praise or affection sink through to where it matters.

Like trying to swim upstream, I fail to make progress on my journey towards love and acceptance.

I have come to the devastating realisation that this love and acceptance can only come from one place: me.

If I can’t love myself, how can I expect to trust that others love me too?

If I can’t trust myself, how can I expect to trust that others love me too?

I want to love myself.

I’d love to love myself.

But I don’t really want to see all of me.

The imperfect parts.

The shadow that follows me around wherever I go.

I only ever wanted to see a perfect light shining within me.

I see now that this light does indeed shine bright, but to reach it I must first delve into the darkness.

Remove the mask I’ve been wearing my entire life, and truly look myself in the eye.

You may already know from experience that this process does not feel good.

It is not a place I wish to stay in for any longer than is necessary.

But I see now that it is necessary.

Because I do want to love myself, and to see the light not only in others, but inside of myself.

 

Image courtesy of Thad Zajdowicz via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/yywhtyq7

The Woodland Den

Have you heard of the Woodland Den? No? Let me tell you about it then, for it is my greatest wish that as many people as possible may know of and benefit from this magical place… I first stumbled upon the den as a young girl, and since then have visited almost every day. It is my home, my sanctuary and my friend. I love this place dearly, but it is now time that I shared it with others.

The path that leads to the den is narrow and winding, and trees line the way up the hill and away from the village. This woodland is the most beautiful I have ever seen, with many different varieties of trees and other plant life. No matter the weather, the woods always feel peaceful and safe. In the autumn and winter months, the smell of wood smoke penetrates the landscape, reminding me of warm cosy evenings in front of the fire, perhaps with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a gingerbread man. In truth, I have never lived in a house with an open fire, but this is a place of imagination and dreams, and anything is possible. When you are almost at the den, the path becomes very steep indeed, and suddenly you find that you are at the top of a hill, looking into a clearing in the trees and foliage. The clearing is round, and the entrance is marked by a large boulder which bears the words ‘Woodland Den’. This is it – you have arrived! And what a treat you are in store for…

As you enter the den, you notice that the atmosphere becomes still and serene, no matter how bad the weather rages outside, or down below in the village. Dried leaves line the floor like a crunchy, autumnal carpet, and fairly lights hang from the trees at the edges of the clearing. An outdoor wood burning stove is already lit, so if you arrive at the den feeling a little cold, please go ahead and warm yourself in front of the fire.

After some time, you will most likely begin to notice that there are many animals on the perimeter of the den, looking in on you with curiosity. Rather than feeling that you have intruded on their space, you feel a deep sense of belonging, and you know instinctively that you are very welcome here. This place belongs to you, and you to it. You are one and the same, and the feeling of safety you experience in this magical place is like nothing you’ve experienced before.

I can see you standing there, my friend, smiling, breathing in the crisp, woody air, and noticing the sounds of the woodland all around you. My first visit to this place was such a wonderful surprise: I will never forget the sensation of being completely held, and completely safe. In this place, I need be nothing more than I already am, and there is nothing at all to do other than what feels most joyful and comforting. This place exists inside of me, but it is as real as you and I. I can visit it at any time, and experience a calm serenity that day-to-day life often leads me to forget.

Now that I have introduced you to the Woodland Den, I would like to encourage you to visit as often as you like, and experience its ambience like a loving embrace. Although, I have to say that seeing you standing there in the den has made me wonder… What if it doesn’t quite suit your needs? Perhaps I have omitted something that you would find reassuring or entertaining in some way? I’m afraid there is no television, and now I’m beginning to wonder if this might be something you would enjoy. Do you enjoy to curl up in front of a good film with a hot drink and a close friend? If you’re going to bring guests, I suppose I really ought to furnish the place accordingly, with a sofa and some blankets. Oh dear, I appear not to have thought this through at all. Unless… unless you would like to make some alterations? Believe me when I say that the sky is the limit. All you need do is imagine what you desire, and poof! It will appear in front of you – or behind you, depending on your preferred layout. Feel free to sweep away the leaves and add a plush carpet for added warmth and luxuriousness, but be warned that the creatures that live in the woods may come to join you if you make it very cosy and comfortable. The foxes and badgers in particular have been known to visit me when I’ve snuggled up under a large blanket.

So my friend, I think I have told you all I need to about the Woodland Den. I hope that with time, it reminds you of something you already know: we are all worthy of joy and love, and there is always a place inside of us where we can experience safety and serenity.

 

 

Image courtesy of Richard Walker via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Forgiveness is the path to freedom

When we love our past, we free ourselves from it. Believe me, I have had moments of sublime gratitude when thinking about my past and everything I’ve gained from simply walking the path that I’ve walked. Even at times when I’ve seen how much I still have to learn and grow, I’ve seen beyond the mundane world view of meaningless pain and suffering, to a world where everything I’ve experienced is some sort of mystical, magical unfolding of my destiny. Just the other day, stood in the kitchen on a drab day, slowly tackling the dirty pots and wading through the treacle of emotions I’m feeling at the moment, I felt how very much I love everyone in my life. It was a huge and unexpected surge of compassion – something I’d like to experience more of, please and thank you!

Sometimes though, it can feel hard to love where we’ve come from. Sometimes we have a feeling of discontent and disconnection in the pit of our stomachs, and we would like nothing more than to avoid thinking about our childhoods, or spending time with people who remind us of those difficult times. In these moments, we can feel far from love, and it’s hard to know where to look for that feeling of comfort and relief. Lost. Lonely. Unsure. Desperate.

So what’s the answer? How can we move beyond pain and reconnect with the love we know lives inside of us? Well, today I was reminded of the power and absolute necessity of forgiveness. And I’m not talking here about forgiving those we feel have wronged us, although that is also important. Usually at the top of the list of people who need our forgiveness is us. Forgiveness for having disconnected from love. Forgiveness for having stepped out of alignment by believing unloving and fear-based thoughts about ourselves. Forgiveness for having unknowingly or unintentionally hurt someone else, or for having believed that we were responsible for that person’s happiness. Perhaps our younger selves dreamt of putting certain things ‘right’ for ourselves and others, and it turned out not to be possible. Perhaps we dreamt of making someone proud by getting a degree in mathematics and landing a high earning job. And perhaps we even achieved these aspirations, only to discover that they didn’t fill the whole in our hearts we once believed they would. For all of these things, and more, we must forgive ourselves.

Of course there are many tools for forgiveness, which I won’t attempt to list here. But I have learned one tool this week which I would like to share with you here, and which I hope you will take up and experiment with. It’s called Ho’oponopono, and it’s based on an ancient spiritual practice from Hawaii. The practice centres around the following mantra:

I’m sorry

Forgive me

I love you

And thank you

The idea is that when we experience anything that results in negative emotion or a sense of disconnection, we must put it right by creating a sacred space in which to meet the person, object, place, memory etc. that has caused us to experience pain. When in the sacred place, we can invite the person forward and repeat the above mantra to them three times. The crucial thing to remember is that we aren’t forgiving from an ego place, but rather from a higher perspective. Nor are we actually asking anyone to forgive us. It’s more about reconnecting with our sense of inner peace, and asking our higher selves (or the universe – however you choose to describe your higher power) to help us erase the negative emotions we have experienced.

Now, to say that this has been a basic and whistle stop tour of Ho’oponopono by a person who has only just begun to practice it themselves would be an understatement. I believe I have understood the concept and have been using it to good effect, but I know there is a lot of guidance about it online, so if you like the sound of it, go take a look and see what you find.

My current mission on the path of personal growth is to understand and embrace who I truly am, and to do this, I realise I must first forgive my past, including the part I played in it. The sense of conflict and discontent I have been feeling is an unwillingness to truly let go, because part of me believes that I should have been able to do things better. Only when I forgive myself can I begin to see others through a more compassionate lens, because then I will be approaching them from a place of love, compassion and defencelessness. Yogi Bhajan is quoted as having said:

If you are willing to look at another person’s behaviour towards you as a reflection of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement of your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all.

What a gorgeous and much needed quote in my life right now! If I can forgive myself, and begin to connect with the idea that my value as a person is never in question, I will open the doors to compassion and a sense of emotional freedom. Huzzah!

And remember, forgiveness is a choice. So choose to forgive yourself as often as you can, each and every day, and see what doors begin to open for you.

Love to you all, my spectacular fellow human beings.

Kath Xxx

No one else will ever walk in your shoes

I don’t know about you, but I often get really frustrated when other’s don’t understand what I’m saying or my perspective on a particular topic. I guess I would probably feel less frustrated if I was more sure of myself, and less dependent on what others think, but for now, I still have an unhealthy attachment to external validation. Less than I used to. But it’s still there. So when I talk to people about something I feel uncertain about, what I really want for them to say is: “Oh, I know exactly what you mean! It’s so crazy isn’t it? I mean, I feel like you’ve literally described my own life, and I could not agree with you more!” Something like that anyway. More often than not though, I am met with an inadequate response, which isn’t surprising given how high my expectations are! No wonder I’m constantly disappointed if what I’m looking for is 100% understanding and enthusiasm on the part of my conversational partner.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important for us to feel heard and understood, and if we don’t currently have many people who allow us to feel these life-affirming things, it’s maybe a good idea to reach out to people who are more on our wavelength, or join a Facebook community of like-minded individuals who can offer time and space to really hear what you’re saying. But in day-to-day conversations with friends, family and colleagues, I think it’s important (for sanity’s sake) to remember that they aren’t us, and we aren’t them. Even people we know really well, and who have been around since year dot, cannot know exactly what it’s like to walk in our shoes, and to have our unique perspective on life. It’s so important to remember this – not only to avoid feeling frustrated and disheartened, but also to ensure that we don’t give our personal power and sense of self away every five minutes. Trust me, I speak from experience! Depending on what you’re talking about, some people just won’t get it. I mean, they’re likely to agree that pizza tastes amazing, but they may be less able to understand why it’s so important for you to go sky diving or retire from work much earlier than anticipated.

This topic has come up for me because I’m currently living life so differently to how I used to, and so differently to how many people around me live their own lives. To be honest, it’s hard for me to make sense of most of the time, so how can I expect others to ‘get’ exactly where I’m coming from? It can be really isolating and lonely at times, and that’s why I mentioned about reaching out to like-minded individuals and becoming part of a Facebook community. We simply must take these practical steps in life, or risk feeling so discouraged that we give up on our hopes and dreams.

All of this helps to remind me that it’s important to keep the things that matter most to us in a sacred place inside, and not to let other people’s lack of understanding, negativity or inability to stop and really listen to what we’re saying, allow us to think less of ourselves – or our dreams. We must treat our dreams, aspirations and personal journeys with respect and kindness, and remind ourselves that we too are guilty of not completely understanding where other people are coming from sometimes.

Perhaps it’s also wise to not discuss things we feel really unsure about to the extent that we absolutely have to receive positive validation for what we’re saying. For example, I’m just beginning to realise how much more important it is to be happy and fully expressed in the world than it is to be ‘successful’ in the conventional sense of the word. This new belief is becoming less fragile as the days and weeks go by, but it’s still a huge blow to me if certain people in my life don’t agree and resonate more with my old way of seeing things. Perhaps these people are in my life to challenge me to heal these aspects of myself? Viewing it this way certainly seems to make difficult conversations feel less like a trial and more like an opportunity.

I hope this helps some of you similarly sensitive soul-searchers out there. Whoever you are, thanks so much for making it to the end of this post and for taking the time to hear what I have to say 🙂

Peace Xxx

 

Healing from the past

How many of you out there have something (or several things) from your past which you would like to heal from, so that you can be the person you truly are underneath all the stress and worry, and step into your best life?

I know I do, that’s for sure. And it’s taken me a while to even reach this point. Before you can heal from something you must first realise that you are injured in some way, and then come to terms with the idea of letting it go. Sometimes it can feel so much easier to hold on to the things that keep us from being our true selves, because we feel safe and secure in our pain and suffering. It sounds strange doesn’t it?! Who in their right mind would want to suffer? Someone who feels it is a safer option than showing up in the world and letting others see them for who they really are, that’s who. And oh how natural and normal it is to feel this way. There ain’t nothing wrong with it, and it’s only when we’re good and ready to start working on these things that we can expect to do so. It’s a gradual process of learning to feel safe in the world as who you are, and not who others expect you to be. It’s a gradual process of looking in the mirror and learning to love what you see. It’s a gradual process of trusting your inner guidance, which is always loving, and always there for you if you choose to listen.

So now I’m ready to heal from my past. I’m ready to move on, and I’m scared to death. Why is something I want to do so flipping scary??? This is something I’ve chosen, of my own volition, and it’s something I feel has been calling to me for a while now. I want to do it, the universe wants me to do it, my cat wants me to do it (she didn’t actually tell me this, but I’m pretty sure she left a coded message in her food bowl the other day, so…)

Anyway, I have a few theories I’d like to share about why it’s so hard, if you’d care to keep reading 🙂

  • It’s hard because of course it’s hard! I mean, come on. I’m only human. I’m stretching my comfort zone and facing my fears, and that’s never going to be easy. The fact that it’s hard tells me that I’m doing something right. I’m not playing it safe; I’m beginning to take small risks and change my perception of myself and the world.
  • It’s hard because sometimes, the hard stuff is where the good stuff is hiding. Make sense? Probably not. I just mean that if you can process whatever you’re feeling (sadness, anger etc.), you’re likely to open doors to personal joy that you didn’t even know were closed. Any difficult period in your life is always an opportunity to grow.
  • OK, so it turns out I have fewer theories than I thought I had, so I hope the two above will do for now!

As usual, I’m writing this because I feel the need to remind myself of these key bits of wisdom I’ve gained in recent years, and because I know by now that I am far from alone in my human experience.

I’ve already gown and expanded my comfort zone. What I’m going through tells me that it’s time to continue that journey and begin to dip my toes into the life that is calling to me. Or maybe I need to dive in head first? I don’t know. Baby steps will do for now, and being here, writing this blog post, is one of those baby steps. It doesn’t always feel easy sharing this stuff, but I know I have to. It calls to me, and the fact that it scares me tells me I’m onto a winner.

Just one more thing before I sign off: I sometimes find that when a big life change is coming my way, there is a natural grieving process, where all my emotions rise to the surface and I can feel new pathways being forged in how I see myself. Letting this be what it is and not questioning it or judging it in any way is so important. You may find it useful when going through this process of death and rebirth (sort of like shedding your old skin) to de-clutter your home, rearrange the furniture or buy some new clothes. Clearing out old memories and energy from you life makes room for something new.

I hope you lovely bunch of human beings are having a good week. Always remember not to take life too seriously, and to laugh as often as you possibly can. Apparently our brains can’t distinguish between genuine and fake laughter, which just goes to show that humans aren’t as smart as we sometimes think we are!

Peace and love,

Kath

What’s it all about?

I was just flipping through a notebook I sometimes take with me, in case inspiration strikes or I finally develop a consistent writing practice! I live in hope…

Anyhow, I found this little poem on one of the pages:

Help me

I’m drowning

Powerless and weak

Who was I, I wonder?

Who am I meant to be?

Please, won’t someone love me, and show me how to be?

How to breathe for myself

And believe in myself

I can’t stand this any longer

I must break free

What’s it all for, anyway?

All this suffering and pain…

In my darkest moments, I somehow sense that an alternative reality is waiting for me.

Calling to me

Even longing for me

 

That final line is the bit that got to me. The idea that life is always calling to us to be the best and happiest versions of ourselves is one that really comforts and reassures me, and it’s something I’ve experienced on many occasions. When I choose to see something through the eyes of love, rather than fear, or choose to show up as my true self, I often get the feeling that there’s this invisible force cheering me on; encouraging me to keep walking, slowly but surely, along the path of self-acceptance and self-expression.

Looking back, even when I was much younger and in the midst of much teenage angst and anguish, I was also having these sorts of conversations between myself and the universe. I had a strong sense, despite feeling utterly terrified and unworthy, that I mattered. That my life was somehow important, and that in spite of everything, everything was sort of OK. Because we do matter, don’t we? And things do have a funny way of working themselves out, don’t they? It’s just a quiet whisper that we hear sometimes, in moments of peace, maybe when we’re out in nature or relaxing under a beautiful night sky. Then the noise of our lives creeps back in and fear tells us to stop being so whimsical: “Pull your socks up and get on with it, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere in life and people will judge you for your inadequacies”.

So what does the quiet voice of love say to you in those quiet, peaceful moments? And what can I say to reassure you that you matter, and are 100% worthy in every moment of every day?

By for now fellow human beings x

Life as a free spirit

I’m discovering new things about myself all the time. The lessons are coming thick and fast at the moment, and to be perfectly honest, I’m a little overwhelmed. The reason I’m here today – writing this post, and beginning to play with ideas about how to live life as a happy, healthy human being – is because everything in my life has brought me to this point. I didn’t always walk willingly along this path of mine, and it has taken a lot of harsh life lessons for me to finally relinquish many aspects of myself that I thought to be true, but which I now know to have been largely driven by fear…

  • I didn’t love being a high-achiever. It made me feel safe.
  • I didn’t enjoy the daily grind of an office job, but I knew that was what others expected and wanted for me, and so I told myself I was on the right path. Even though barely anything about it made me come alive inside.
  • I didn’t find satisfaction in playing it safe, rather than expressing my true nature. But it didn’t even occur to me that my life belonged to me, or that the ultimate goal for any human being is joy, connection and fulfilment.

I was so, so lost. And I had absolutely no idea what life had in store for me! A few years on from giving up on the idea of a traditional career – or life! – I now see that my greatest battles have been the source of my greatest joy, as well as giving me a sense of purpose and fulfilment in the world:

  • My desire to please others has led me to the realisation that we can never, ever please everyone all of the time, and that we can never play the people-pleasing game AND be happy.
  • My ego’s desire to be the best at everything to avoid feeling unworthy or unacceptable has shown me that feelings of worthiness and self-love can only emerge when we allow our egos to quieten down and take a back seat.

The strangest thing of all, is that the person I turn out to be is so very different to the ‘me’ that emerged from my adolescent years. I’m free-spirited, creative and quirky. I love to take my time over things and really take in the moment. I adore playing with the young people in my life, and often wonder why kids get all the fun! Of course it’s also true that I LOVED being a student, that I enjoyed many aspects of the work I used to do, and that I will always love to learn new things and buy stationary (I had to sneak that one in – there’s nothing like a brand new note pad!). I am all of these things, and more aspects of my true self are, I’m sure, yet to reveal themselves.

So here I am. A free-spirit with a love of learning and stationary. A creative soul with a desire to change the world in some way. An academically successful person who likes to play and get messy. Being perfectly honest, I have no idea what to do with all this ‘me-ness’ at the moment. And I really don’t know about this whole writing thing. When I sit down to write, it’s usually to pour out a stream of consciousness, and I generally don’t know where the blog post is going until I get there. Is this normal? Can I ever become a more consistent and dedicated writer if most of my work amounts to ramblings? I  just don’t know. But here I am, and so I shall continue.

All I know for now is that the closer I get to my true self, the greater my chance of experiencing joy and fulfilment. Pretty cool hey?

Love and stuff x

Not everyone is ready for your (or my) advice

If you are like me, you frequently find yourself offering advice and personal wisdom to those around you. From close friends and family members to perfect strangers, if I can offer even the tiniest nugget of useful information or emotional support, I feel something light up inside me and I feel somehow more complete as a person. I’d love it if someone walked up to me in the street with a pen and paper and said: “So, in your opinion, what is the key to worrying less what others think and getting on with living life on your own terms?” My reply would be something along the lines of: “I’m so glad you asked! I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, and I have rather a lot of ideas on the subject. Shall we go find a coffee shop and get to work?”

It’s not that I want people to think I’m intellectually superior in some way, or that I like the sound of my own voice. On the contrary, talking about this stuff reveals an intense vulnerability inside of me, because it requires me to delve into the depths of my own personal experience, and to admit that I have spent the majority of my life in a state of terror, hiding behind as much social armour as I could possibly get my hands on (think university degrees, defence mechanisms, attempts to blend in with my outward appearance…) You know the sort of thing, I’m sure. I also find talking to people quite exhausting at times, because my brain is constantly trying to tailor what I say so that the other person in the conversation gets what they need in that moment in time. This may sound virtuous, but it’s exhausting, and I often end the day depleted of my personal store of energy.

But to be asked what I think about this most fascinating and wonderful of topics – one that is so personally relevant to me and which I have spent thousands of hours pondering. Well, that would just be an honour.

The trouble is that no one ever does ask – at least not in an obvious or forthright sort of way. And if they do, they are only able to hear what I have to say according to their own personal reference point, and that might mean ignoring things they aren’t ready to hear, or feeling offended by a simple universal truth about human nature which simply hasn’t found its way into their consciousness yet.

And yet I have this unbelievable desire inside of me to help others to worry less and to feel more freedom in their lives. Writing is one way to achieve that, and I hope that this blog goes some way to brightening a few people’s days or enabling them to see the world through new eyes. If you are here, reading this post, it is because you are ready and open to the ideas I am discussing. I am extremely grateful for that, and honoured that you are taking the time to work your way through my ramblings and find something of personal relevance in them.

Perhaps writing is the answer to my desire to help others – more so than I currently give credit to it for. Maybe I need to start to trust that there are people out there who have asked me to give my thoughts and ideas, just not in the obvious way I’m waiting around for. It certainly feels like I’m being called towards something, and saying no to that calling is not bringing me any inner peace whatsoever. Who’d have thought it?!

I think what a lot of this comes down to is feeling like a small insignificant speck in a giant universe. Our view of the world is so much more expansive now than it ever has been, and the opportunity for us to feel unworthy, invisible or insignificant is so much greater. But in my world, I am everything – as you are in yours. I don’t believe that life is meaningless or that we don’t all have something unique to contribute to the world. And if I was to take my own advice, I’d choose myself, and stop waiting for others to do it for me.

So until someone does walk up to me in the street and ask for my thoughts on how to overcome feelings of worry and inadequacy, I’m just going to keep writing and trusting that there are plenty of people out there who are in exactly the right place in their lives to begin absorbing my ideas and insights.

Finally, let’s all try not to get too offended when someone isn’t willing or able to hear the advice we have to offer. There was a time when we weren’t ready for it either.

Love always,

Kath

I’m just a teenage dirtbag

So, one of my biggest obstacles for moving forward in life and doing what I want to do (as opposed to what I suspect others want me to do) is that I have an angry, scared and confused teenage version of myself who feels stuck and controlled. I woke up this morning feeling just this – controlled and powerless – and began to have a gentle conversation with myself about it, whilst trying not to judge myself for how I’m feeling at this moment in time.

This concept of different selves has slowly emerged for me over the last few years, and I’ve become increasingly aware that my teenage years were a particularly dark phase in my life. These are the years when I decided that the only way to survive and feel safe was to work incredibly hard to get the very best grades, and to decipher what other people deemed acceptable in every interaction I had with another human being. This is a tricky and pointless endeavour, I must warn you, since everyone you meet will have a different idea of what’s ‘right’ or ‘good’.

So yeah, teenage me is terrified. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that she is loved and that it’s safe to follow her heart and do what feels right for her. She’s definitely more on board with my adult view of the world than she was previously, but when a big change comes along, she tends to get really angry and try her best to control the situation.

I can’t encourage this kind of personal insight enough; getting to know your many ‘selves’ can be an incredibly important and useful tool for addressing any hang-ups you might have and living the most balanced and joyful life you possibly can.

I used to see this teenage version of myself as a problem. I didn’t like her very much because she seemed so angry, and as a person who struggles to express ‘negative’ emotions, I found it difficult to accept this part of myself. Expressing anger is a dangerous business, and absolutely makes me a terrible person – or at least that’s what I’ve believed for most of my life. It’s taken me until now to realise that all emotions are acceptable, and that to not express or acknowledge huge chunks of your personal/inner experience is a recipe for misery.

Slowly but surely, I’m beginning to value and even treasure this angry adolescent version of myself, because she is only ever trying to do what she feels is the best. She’s using the tools she has at her disposal to try to keep me safe, and if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It’s through her experience of the world that I’ve learnt to worry less about what others think, and to place a much higher value on my own inner journey. It’s thanks to her that I’m now pursuing my dreams. And if I really wish to make the leap and live the life I suspect I’m supposed to be living, she needs to come along for the ride – both as a navigational aid, and so that she can continue her journey towards healing and learn to express the parts of herself that she’s long suspected are bad and unworthy.

I realise now that I’m almost at the end of this blog post that I haven’t explained the reason for the title: ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’. Well, when I was feeling all angsty and mixed up this morning, I went to turn on the radio and sent an intention out into the universe that whatever song came on would somehow give me an insight into what I was feeling. Hilarious, thanks universe.

I must go now. Me and my teenage dirtbag self have some work to do.

Sending much love and encouragement to all of you.

Bye for now x