Category Archives: connectedness

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

Let’s get some clarity

Does life sometimes feel like a giant jigsaw puzzle to you? With all of the pieces laid out on the floor in front of you, and only the most basic understanding of how to make the whole thing come together? If so, you can join my club, because this seems to be my default setting at the moment. My usual tactic for dealing with this situation is to try to think and rationalise my way out of it. I add more mental clutter and noise to a head already full of ‘bits and pieces’. I don’t know how many more times I will have to go through this process before I finally realise that the only thing I really need to do is to get quiet, take a break from my usual routine and gain some much needed perspective. Sometimes we have to make this happen for ourselves. by booking some time off or taking up a daily meditation practice. At other times, life will force us to pause and take some time out from all the over-analysis, like for example if the author of a certain blog were to come down with the MOTHER OF ALL VIRUSES! I’m always nervous to use the term ‘flu’, but this ain’t no bog standard cold, I can tell you. In a strange sort of way, though, this illness has been my friend. It has made me stop trying to figure things out – constantly efforting and striving, exhausting myself in the process. Come to think of it, maybe there’s a reason why my immune system is shot to pieces at the moment…

Anyhow. A few very obvious answers have emerged during my confinement and forced resting period, and I have experienced clarity for the first time in a long time. And oh how delicious and wonderful it feels! It’s like, having swum for days through muddy waters, I can finally see what I’m moving towards, and why I bothered to set out on this journey in the first place. I don’t want to risk boring you with too many personal details, but I’m sure you’re just a teeny bit intrigued to know what insights I’ve had over the last few days. If not, you can always skip to the next paragraph, and I won’t ever know about it! So here goes. The following are now BLATANTLY obvious to me:

  • I am craving a sense of community and a group of people with whom to share common goals
  • Having spent most of my life in fear of other people, I now realise that ‘people’ are absolutely 100% what I want to focus my life on. By which I mean, I feel that a major driving force in my life is to help others to heal, and in doing so to heal myself. Whether that’s by writing, spending time together or learning how to give Indian head massages, I don’t really know. The answer didn’t come to me with much small print, so I guess I’ll work the detail out later. I just know that I have something to offer, and that the longer I sit on this ‘something’ and tell myself that I’m being ridiculous, the more time I waste.
  • I need to actually start doing the things that float through my head on a daily basis. Writing, meditating, going on more adventures, connecting with more people through exercise groups or other social activities, creating unique pieces of craft and art with my hand-spun wool… I mean, I LOVE wool, I love colours, I love creating and crafting and experimenting and making things with my hands. So what the hell am I waiting for?

What am I waiting for? That’s a good question, and I suspect I know the answer. Permission. I’m waiting for someone from the administrative department of the universe to turn up on my doorstep and tell me that my dreams and desires have been approved. I’m waiting for everyone I know to suddenly be on my wavelength and 100% understand who I am and what makes me tick, despite the fact that they have completely different dreams and life experiences. I’m waiting for the day I wake up and believe in myself wholeheartedly and without any fear whatsoever that what I’m doing is invalid or wrong or stupid.

So yeah. I’m waiting for a bunch of things that will never happen, and if I keep waiting, I risk not bestowing my gifts and talents upon the world. Because I truly do believe that we are all needed, and that showing up as our true selves in the greatest gift we could ever give to the world. Anyone who follows this blog on a regular basis may have noticed that I’m becoming more spiritual by the day, and one of my favourite authors, Gill Edwards, once wrote that we are all pieces in a giant jigsaw, and that we are all needed to make the whole. This idea literally revolutionised my life when I first encountered it a few years ago. Having spent all my life trying to prove myself to be a worthy human being, to discover that I was not only worthy but also needed gave me the greatest sense of joy and freedom. It was also an idea that felt like coming home – I think, despite my insecurities, I had always suspected that I was good enough, and that I maybe even had a specific purpose for being here in this lifetime.

Unfortunately, the only way to get to my life’s purpose is to do what feels right, and I’ve come to realise over the last few years that things that feel right for me stand a good chance of being a bit scary/outside of my comfort zone and of ruffling a few feathers among friends and family. Not to mention the fact that in order to work out what feels right, you have to dedicate time to getting quiet and letting the answers come to you.

Before I close out this blog post, I just want to make a couple of things clear. Firstly, I believe we all have a certain purpose to fulfil. Whether you are spiritually inclined or not, you can still come to see yourself as the owner of several unique skills, insights, talents etc. and that the world benefits from having you around.

Secondly, by ‘life’s purpose’ I don’t mean something grand like changing international law, helping to save the rain forest or healing millions of people by becoming a well-known spiritual author. My ego would love to think that my purpose looks extremely important and grand, but I think I may have to settle for a little more run of the mill existence. Which actually suits me, since I like a quiet life.

So that’s it. That’s my wisdom for today (and yesterday – I started writing this last night!). I don’t know how wise or useful it will prove to be, but I’m starting to realise that having ideas and not doing anything with them is a recipe for misery.

Bye for now folks.

Know you are loved

All my life, I have worried that I wasn’t loved, or lovable. I wasn’t really aware of this deep-seated concern of mine. I knew – in theory – that my family loved me. I was so sure of this fact that it never occurred to me to ask myself if I really felt loved. To know something in theory is very different to knowing it in your heart and soul, and when I look back, so many of my problems (if not all of them) stem from a feeling of unworthiness. I suppose another way of describing this is to say that I felt I was only worthy or lovable or acceptable etc… if I met other people’s expectations, which are such a flimsy and changeable thing to try to grasp onto. You might finally decide you’ve cracked it and know how to please a particular relative of yours – let’s say your mum – only to discover that her mood and opinions the next day seem completely different. You realise with horror that all your sister/dad/son really want is to have the final say or to express the loudest opinion. I have certainly experienced the frustration of echoing someone’s ideas in the faint hopes of pleasing them, only to discover that they would rather contradict themselves than agree with you on anything. Other people’s behaviour will always be their own responsibility, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t find a sense of peace by altering ourselves to please them. On the contrary, this will always take us further and further away from a sense of love, since we are moving away from our true selves.

So if you can learn to feel how loved you are – not with your head, but with your heart – and to accept that you can’t ever please everyone all of the time, you can reach a place in your life where you can enter a room without fear of not being good enough. The best version of yourself will always be the truest one, and that can and will involve upsetting a few people on occasion.

But how can we know that we are loved, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel that way? Well, ask yourself this: do you love your family, even though they aren’t perfect and sometimes/often upset you? Do you love your cat even though it’s scratched a new piece of furniture? Do you love your husband/wife even though they constantly forget to take the rubbish bins out? Yes, of course you do! And in fact, as much as certain people may get on your nerves, would you really want them to be any different? Well, to be fair, it would be nice if your mum was less judgemental or your dad didn’t still treat you like a child, but at the end of the day, that’s part of who they are, and that’s OK. If you resist these aspects of your family and loved ones, you are placing conditions on your love in the same way they do when they call into question some aspect of your being. So yes, you are loved. Very much so, in fact. And if you are open to the idea of a benevolent universe that knows each of us in great detail (as Gill Edwards describes in her book ‘Life is a Gift’), then you should know that your worthiness has never been in question. It is only our false beliefs about ourselves and the world that make us feel that we are less than we should be.

All of this isn’t easy. It takes time to warm up to the idea that we are all loved and worthy in our own right, and that we are free to be who we are regardless of whose feathers we might ruffle. And the next time your get hurt, you will probably feel tempted to retreat back into a sense of loneliness and fear. And if you do – that’s fine! You’re only human after all. Take your time and practice feeling loved and loving others in return. Entering a room knowing that you are loved – whether by the people in front of you or the universe at large – is completely different to walking into a room already fearing that you’ve fallen short in some way.

OK, this has been quite a whimsical post, but I’m in kind of a whimsical mood! I think it’s Christmas and spending so much time with family and friends. It isn’t always the easiest time of the year, but knowing we are loved can make all those social gatherings a lot more bearable – or maybe it will give you the courage you need to say no to something when you’d rather be somewhere else.

I hope you’ve all had a warm and cosy Christmas.

Bye for now!

Kath

p.s. Image courtesy of riccardo f.m. via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/ybp3b2jw

What do you want to do with your life?

I don’t know about you, but most of my life, until the revelations of my thirties, I felt that the best way to get by in life was to make as little trouble as possible – to please others, and somehow fly under the radar. Life wasn’t about doing what I wanted to; it was about taking all the opinions and clues from the outside world, crunching the numbers and coming up with the perfect formula for my life. Funny thing is, it wasn’t my life, was it? It belonged to everyone except me. Sound familiar?

I wrote a while back that life is a strange place for me to be now that I’ve realised that people-pleasing and living up to the expectations of others isn’t necessary. It was making my miserable, but it felt safe, and all of my sense of worth came from being perceived in a positive way by others. So, what to do with my life now that my people-pleasing road trip is drawing to and end?

I don’t know if you believe in the mystical and magical things that can sometimes happen in life, but I was once sat contemplating my life and where I was up to etc. I felt suddenly compelled to take a book from my bookcase (which I never do – the bookcase in question is more of an archive of books I’ve already read). Anyway, I picked up a title by Alexander McCall Smith called ‘Morality for beautiful girls’, closed my eyes, flipped through the pages and stopped at a seemingly random place. Imagine my absolute shock when I realised I was looking at a chapter heading titled: ‘What do you want to do with your life?’. Hmm, I thought to myself. Life isn’t about doing; it’s about being and experiences and joy and… It’s not about what job I do or what holidays I go on. It’s about making the most of the experiences that come my way. I was, if anything, a little annoyed with the book for asking me such a stupid question. Stupid book. What does it know?

Well, in hindsight, maybe a lot more than I do – or did at the time. What I’ve come to realise is that unless you are an active creator of the moments in your life, you don’t get to choose what they look like, and your experiences will be limited and perhaps even a little soul crushing. Because our souls need to breathe and stretch their wings, and doing what others wish for or expect of us is about as far away as we can get from living a heart-centred life. Towing the line is the emotional equivalent of throwing in the towel and giving up on everything you’ve ever wanted; whether that’s for yourself, others or the world at large.

We all have dreams, no matter who we are, or how small or unusual or impossible they may seem to someone else. Many of us won’t be aware of our dreams because we’ve forgotten them among the business and general chaos of being an adult. But if you think back to your childhood, you won’t have to look too far to remember all the things you used to dream of. Personally, I used to imagine being an acclaimed artist or a pilot. This was at the age of about 8, and my greatest joy in life was being allowed to stay up a bit later to watch the Crystal Maze and Gladiators (UK reference – my apologies to anyone who hasn’t heard of these wonderful British television programmes from the 1990s). So why I wanted to fly and paint masterpieces I’ll never know; it’s just something that used to capture my imagination. I also assumed that I would make a positive difference to the world at large, although I wasn’t sure how. I remember feeling pretty annoyed at how badly the planet was being treated and thinking that I should probably do something about it (but not before I’ve caught up with the Crystal Maze, obviously!).

It doesn’t matter that my dreams from childhood bear no resemblance to my actual life. The important thing is that I had any dreams at all, and that I was actively thinking about the things I’d like to see change in the world. I had this sense that my life mattered, and that countless opportunities and possibilities lay ahead of me. When I thought about life, it seemed like something to run towards, rather than something to run away from. Some people may call this naivety, but I think it’s adults who lose their way and forget to see things how they really are. We forget the magic, we don’t make time for day-dreams, and if we’re really unlucky, we start to equate life with drudgery and hard work. Society plays a big part in this, of course. When you look around you, especially in Western cultures, it’s no wonder we lose our way and forget what’s important.

So, what do I do now that I realise I’ve been letting life wash over me, rather than creating my own waves? Well, I’ve got some decisions to make, some dreams to dream, and a renewed sense of purpose to gain. I need to start creating meaning in my own life, instead of letting others tell me what’s meaningful. I need to start creating moments and holding space for myself and others, rather than waiting for a phone call from someone inviting me to do something (and therefore saving me from having to think of something).

Life is all about choice, freedom and expression. Love and joy are everywhere around us, just waiting for us to say yes. But we can’t do this passively; we must be bold enough to show up, let ourselves be seen, and ultimately to choose our best life.

Oh, and here’s a little poem I found myself jotting down the other evening:

Go find your joy
Go find your purpose
Go out into the world
Let it see you
And cast your eyes upon its magnificence
Don’t label yourself;
Be wild and free
Express yourself
And feel your connection to the rest of humanity
You’ve come so far;
Know that nothing is outside of your reach
And above all else, know that you are loved

Thanks for being here and reading this. I hope you found even the tiniest bit of inspiration to live life the way you want to.

Kath

p.s. Image is courtesy of Chris R. via Flickr: https://tinyurl.com/yc8rtwqy

What happens next?

Hello, my name is Kath, and I am an acceptance junkie. Or at least I have been – big time – and I’m only just learning to brush this aspect of my existence off and get to the good stuff that life has to offer (joy, creativity, connectivity…). It’s been a long journey, with many twists and turns along the way, and I’ve walked so far now that I realise my surroundings are completely unfamiliar. In fact, the map I’ve been using doesn’t work anymore, because I’ve walked off grid and have yet to find a new one. Yikes! This is scary stuff. Everything I’ve known about myself and the world is changing, and although that’s a good thing, it absolutely isn’t easy.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew what I was working towards: becoming a version of myself that others would find acceptable.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew how to feel about myself: either terrible or absolutely wonderful, depending on what state my ego was in that day, and how many people I’d managed to please with my various efforts at becoming the perfect human being.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew what made me feel good and what made me feel bad…

You get the picture. I’m completely re-framing my life, and whereas I’ve managed to move away (mostly) from the unhealthy behaviours and ways of thinking about the world, I haven’t yet replaced them with anything else that makes me feel, well, like me I guess! It wasn’t healthy to look to others for a sense of self, but the fact is that I did, and now I feel like an empty vase (to quote a poem written by Monica’s sleazy boyfriend on Friends). I feel like I’ve entered a void and the only way out is to run back to the safety of my old ways, or to fill in the blanks with something new.

Currently, my life isn’t an expression of who I am. Or at least, I don’t feel that I am expressing the things that I want to express. In short, I need to get my ‘Kath’ on and start doing the things that I want to do, and feel that sense of purpose and joy come back to me. Because if I’m honest, at the moment everything feels a little pointless – as though I’m waiting for someone to come up to me and say: “It’s OK, Kath. You’re doing absolutely the right thing. Yes, that’s it – go out into the world and be an individual. That’s next on the list of things you should do”. But what if I’ve done away with all the ‘shoulds’ and I’m trying to live life on my own terms for a change, without waiting to hear what others think I should do?

Man this is freaking me out! I’m talking myself into feeling more terrified than I was before I started writing. Also, can I just take a moment to apologise for basically using this blog as a sounding board for my own problems, instead of imparting incredible wisdom and offering solutions to your problems? I’ll get back to the wise thing once I’ve got my groove back, I promise.

I’m seeing a therapist/life coach at the moment, and she has likened this current phase in life to weeding a garden: I’ve now got to re-plant it with beautiful flowers that I actually want to be there, instead of letting anything grow there and just letting life steamroll over me. So what flowers am I going to plant? What waves am I going to make? What is it that the real me, who is only just emerging after years and years of sleepwalking through life, has to say to the world? And what form will this take?

Well, writing is definitely up there on the list. I’m surprising feisty and opinionated on the inside for someone who’s made a career of worrying what others think. And I definitely feel like I’m holding myself back at the moment – waiting for the green light from the universe, instead of just trusting in myself and my inner guidance.

Yesterday, on my way home from an alpaca farm with my husband, we encountered a cyclist on a twisting and fairly fast country road NOT WEARING A HELMET! No sooner had we both commented on this, than I found myself shouting out of the open window: “Buy a helmet!”. My husband seemed amused and vaguely proud, but essentially discouraged me from shouting at strangers as we drive through the local countryside. To be honest, he has a point. It’s not exactly safe to shout things at unsuspecting cyclists who are trying to keep their eyes on the road, even if I did have his best interests at heart.

The incident with the cyclist was very out of character for me, but it felt good; a relief to be honest. There are lots of things I feel like shouting about at the moment, but I’ve done some research and it turns out people don’t appreciate it very much! Point is, it told me that I’m withholding something and not allowing myself to fully express myself, because self-expression and emotional freedom is all pretty new to me.

So, here I am. Much further along the journey towards self-acceptance than I’ve ever been, and instead of telling you how wonderful it is, I’m telling you all about how terrifying it is. Sorry about that.

But I wouldn’t for a second discourage any of you from following me down this path. I’ve experienced moments of absolute joy and love in my life over the last few years, and I owe that to trusting this journey that I’m on. So I’m going to keep trusting, as best I can, and probably with the occasional rant on this blog. And instead of waiting for someone to hand me a new map, I’m going to draw my own; it will be called the ‘Kingdom of Kath’, and it will be an honest expression of who I am.

So to all of you who are on a similar journey: keep going, know that you’re not alone, and when the time is right, start creating your own unique vision of the world.

Love,

Kath

 

p.s. Image is courtesy of Virtual EyeSee via Flickr: https://tinyurl.com/y9gof3s8

When the going gets rough…

It’s hard, when we’re on a journey towards feeling better about ourselves, to accept the rough times that come our way. I mean, the whole point is that we feel better, not worse, right? Our friends and family would like to see us looking more happy and healthy, not down in the dumps or angry enough to smash a few plates. I mean, don’t know about you, but as someone who worries what others think, I tend to always wonder if what I’m feeling is acceptable to others; like I need their permission and acceptance in order to deviate from the standard human emotion of being ‘fine’ or ‘OK’.

So here’s the thing, and here’s what I really need to remind myself of right now:

  1. Other people’s lives belong to them, and mine belongs to me. Living it for other people means never truly owning my own existence. It’s OK for others to feel sad because I’m going through a hard time. That’s part of their journey, not mine.
  2. The bad times don’t actually have to be perceived as ‘bad’. They are simply part of the ebb and flow of life. We can’t have light without dark, or joy without sadness.
  3. Difficult times don’t just appear for no reason – they are an opportunity for us to learn something more about ourselves and/or the world and to realise how we might be preventing ourselves from living our best possible lives. I mean, when I think about all that I have gained from the hard times, I absolutely wouldn’t want to be without them. Plunging into the depths of sadness and loneliness has taught me what it means for me to be at peace with myself, and that no matter what, I am absolutely never alone.
  4. Often, when the going gets tough, it’s because we’re doing amazing things that are testing our limits and stretching us to the point that it feels temporarily uncomfortable: a bit like doing yoga for the first time! All of which is a hell of a lot better than standing still and not growing in any way. The worse things feel, the bigger the opportunity to feel good. I read this somewhere a while ago, and it really is true; our greatest heartaches hold the key to our greatest joy, if only we’re brave enough to explore what really makes us tick – possibly with the support of a friend, therapist or a good self-help book or three!

So you know what I’m going to try and do? I’m going to try to embrace the contrast, and appreciate it for what it is. I won’t judge it as good or bad, or tell myself that I must be getting something horribly wrong. It’s simply part of my journey.

Thanks go to me for writing this and reminding myself of some important truths. Yes, that’s right – I just thanked myself for writing this blog post, because it’s helped me to feel less sorry for myself and a little more empowered. I hope it’s done the same for you, whoever you are.

And remember: you are 100% not alone. We’re all here reading this aren’t we?!

Love and peace x

Opening the door to connectivity

I have spent the vast majority of my life fearing people, and seeing any interaction as an opportunity for me to fail or reveal myself for the good-for-nothing I really am. (I’m sure some of you reading this can identify with that deep-seated fear that sits inside your belly and tells you that you’re a bad person, and that if people only knew the real you they wouldn’t want to be your friend anymore).

I feared judgement, whilst unknowingly being judgemental myself; because finding fault in others was the only way I could feel good about myself. I say ‘unknowingly’ because I genuinely didn’t realise this trait in myself until recent years.

So this idea of connecting with and enjoying the company and companionship of my fellow human beings is a fairly recent discovery for me. And forgive me – I seem to remember that I wrote on this topic not that long ago. But it’s something I continue to ponder, especially as I start to feel more connected with the world around me (my joy is all the greater for having lived in the dark for so many years). We all have days when we feel closed off and don’t especially want to talk to anyone, but on the whole I feel less like I have something to prove and more like a valid piece in the enormous jigsaw puzzle that is our universe.

Connection isn’t something we can learn, but rather something we must learn to feel. Connection exists and is there for us to tap into in almost every moment. Like it or not, we are all connected as part of the shared human experience, and we are all worthy in our own right. I know from personal experience how hard it can be to believe this last point. And if you’re in a place in your life where you doubt your worthiness, then that is absolutely fine. It’s where you’re at right now, and it means that the joy of discovering your place in the world lies ahead, waiting patiently for the time that you feel ready to embrace all that you are.

So, from one piece of a giant jigsaw to another, thanks for being here to read this blog post and I’ll speak to you again soon.

Bye for now x

Living in shades of grey

So, I made an eBay purchase the other week. I was so excited. It was exactly what I’d been looking for at a price that I could afford. I was devastated when I missed the postman/woman and had to wait until the next working day to collect the parcel from my local delivery office. Imagine, then, my disappointment when I finally collect my new pair of Birkenstock sandals, only to find that they weren’t ‘as new’, as the description had suggested. The leather straps were worn in ways that just didn’t show up in the pictures, and the sandals had clearly been worn for a fairly muddy outing – a music festival maybe? In which case, perhaps by ‘worn only once’ the seller actually meant ‘worn for only one 4 day long music festival where I camped in a field and endured some pretty harsh conditions’. Anyway, I emailed the seller straight away to let her know how disappointed I was, but was very polite and offered for her to send me a partial refund (an amount we could agree between us), but that if she didn’t want to do that I would be returning the shoes under eBay’s money back guarantee for items that aren’t as described or different to the photos provided.

Where am I going with this, I here you ask? Well, the seller was quite annoyed with my message, and said that they absolutely were worn only once etc. You get the picture. We didn’t agree on the situation, and despite me being as nice as I could manage (whilst still getting my point across) the seller was rude and called me a ‘time waster’. She said she would dispute my return request, to which I said ‘that’s fine, I’ll request the return, you decline it and at that point I can get eBay involved to resolve the dispute for us’. I was happy with that. I didn’t mind eBay having to step in. I was confident from the photos I’d uploaded that eBay would agree the shoes were clearly not ‘as new’, but even if they didn’t, it’s not the end of the world. At least I’m not completely broke and that was my last £20 to my name. At least I’d end up with a pair of shoes that I could wear, even if they weren’t as nice as I was expecting etc. etc. I was basically being one of those annoying sunny side up people who sees only the blessings (gross, right?!).

‘Oh just send them back, I can’t be doing with time wasters’, was the response to my last message. I was soooooo tempted to reply and say something like ‘thank you for your excellent customer service skills, I will make sure to recommend your eBay shop to my friends’ or ‘maybe you should get some new glasses before re-listing the shoes on eBay’. But I didn’t. I took my husband’s advice and just left it alone. I said I didn’t want to leave her a rubbish review, and I have stuck to that because I don’t agree with posting angry reviews in the heat of the moment. I took the moral high ground, basically, which gave me no immediate sense of satisfaction, but in the long run has left me feeling quite pleased with myself.

‘We still don’t know why you’re telling us about the shoes you bought on eBay’, I hear you cry! Well, I guess the whole thing just got me thinking. It seems fairly clear-cut at first, that I’m the good guy and she’s the nasty piece of work eBay seller with a bad attitude and zero people skills. But I’m becoming increasingly aware of my tendency to think about myself and the world in black and white, rather than in shades of grey. In black and white thinking, one person is clearly ‘wrong’ and the other ‘right’, but in shades of grey, we are two human beings coming at the same situation from different angles and with different life experiences. Maybe I could have viewed the photos on a bigger screen and scrutinised them more closely, rather than trusting the description she had provided. Maybe she has had a miserable year and is feeling angry with the world in general. And there definitely isn’t anything wrong with feeling angry – although perhaps taking it out on your eBay customers isn’t the best outlet.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? I am not 100% a nice person or 100% right, but neither is she 100% nasty or 100% wrong. The truth always lies somewhere in between, and it always feels like such a breath of fresh air to acknowledge this and not force people or situations into boxes labelled ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

So yes, grey may be a bit of a dismal and depressing colour, but actually there is a lot of joy to be found in it. It’s the road to less stress and tension, and greater acceptance of life and the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis. It means that we can see each other as fellow humans, rather than friend or enemy. We don’t need to make these distinctions, even if there are people we’d rather not buy from on eBay ever again. From their own point of view, everyone is right, and we can never know what it’s like to be another person until we’ve walked in their shoes. So give yourself a break, and give them a break whilst you’re at it.

I hope you’re all doing well out there in the world, whoever you are. But remember, if things aren’t so good right now, that’s OK too. There are no prizes for the human being with the least amount of baggage or issues to sift through. We’re all doing just fine 🙂

Peace out x

Companionship, connection and togetherness. Are they the meaning of life?

I grew up believing that I had to do certain things and be the version of me everyone else wanted to see. Sound familiar? One of the side-effects of this was that, although I had friends and socialised regularly, it was always a bit of an inconvenience to me. I was always partly waiting to go back home where I could completely relax, because I didn’t have anyone else’s needs or opinions to take into account. I’ve never been great at maintaining eye contact with people – even those I’m really close to. I guess every encounter with someone or any social situation had the potential for me to get something ‘wrong’ or to be judged negatively in some way.

Well, let me tell you something about where I’m at right now! I’m in the process of discovering the joy of connecting with people – of sharing my existence and physical space with like-minded (or completely different!) individuals who make me laugh, inspire me or make me feel welcome and comfortable. There will always be people who make us feel, well, completely the opposite of this! We’ve all met a few of those people. And perhaps there are some friends or family members who sometimes make us feel on edge. That’s fine. Life isn’t about becoming a perfect human being, totally free of worry or judgement of others. But it is about connecting and companionship; fostering a sense of togetherness by engaging in tasks together and helping one another out. Today my neighbour and I worked together to cut back some ivy which has slowly but surely been taking over the wall between our two gardens. It was fun! And there was a real sense of achievement afterwards.

I’ve felt quite lonely recently. I think any time in our lives when we are going through some emotional trauma can feel lonely and isolating, but it’s exactly at this point that we need to remind ourselves how very not alone we are. At the risk of sounding like a complete hippy (peace, man) we are all connected by our very existence as living things on this planet of ours. There is always someone out there who loves and cares about us. Even the ones who judge us and make us feel inadequate secretly love us – they’re just too wrapped up in their own ‘stuff’ to express it as often as we sometimes need to hear it.

So this discovery of mine has led me to actually want to spend time with people. Imagine that?! I actively seek out conversations and opportunities to meet up. I see the opportunity to get together as just that – an opportunity, rather than an inconvenience. I recognise that these people I’m lucky enough to share my life with don’t like me because I’m perfect. I mean let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, we never do quite meet that gold standard, because it just doesn’t exist. No, they like me because I’m me. They see something in me that they like, as I do with them. If only we could see the magical spark that others see in us. Talk about medicine for the soul.

I’m admittedly very late in the game when it comes to valuing and enjoying my social connections, but to be honest I think my appreciation of it is all the better for having come from where I have. Never waste a moment on regrets, and always look for the blessings…

I am human. You are human. We’re all here to celebrate our shared humanity, and to explore each other’s opinions and ideas. Competition comes from a place of feeling unworthy and ashamed, and if saying goodbye to these negative emotions means more time spent in the company of my friends and family, then I’m certainly willing to let them go.

And remember, you were born worthy, and you will die worthy. Find small ways to start believing this and just see what magic unfolds.

Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE being by myself, and sometimes I can’t think of anything worse than going out to a pub and having to actually talk to someone! This will never change. Enjoying feeling your connection to others doesn’t mean that you can’t also value some alone time.

Bye for now x