Category Archives: Spirituality

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

The most magical time of the year?

Hello people of the internet. I hope this blog post finds you well.

I have decided to keep a record of all of the magical/out of the ordinary experiences I have had throughout my life. I’m going through a process of awakening at the moment, in which I’m coming to see what the human existence is really all about, and deciding if I have the strength and conviction to trust what I believe to be true. Since my beliefs are largely a result of what life and experience have taught me thus far, where better to start than with the things that I have personally seen and felt?

You see, all this spiritual stuff and personal development was OK when I placed ownership on anyone but myself. Spiritualism and the lessons self-help literature can teach us seemed like concrete things that I could grasp on to when I needed an anchor, but the whole point of all these teachings is that they enable us to connect with something inside of us. They are the catalyst for transformation, but the transformation is very much our own. This is scary for someone like me, who has always lacked her own voice and looked to others for what is right and wrong.

I hope some of this sounds familiar to one or two of you – surely I’m not the only one going through an existential crisis?!!

So here we go – a complete list of all the magical moments in my life (that I can remember and which are interesting enough to include in this blog post!). Because I need to start trusting my own inner voice, which has always led me to believe that there is more to life than atoms and molecules.

  1. Crying myself to sleep one night as a teenager, and begging for a sign that everything would be OK. My mum had told me to ask for a white feather, so this is what I did. On my way to college the next morning, a large white feather slowly drifted in waves and landed right by my feet.
  2. Again as a teenager, I was on my way home from college one cold winter afternoon, and for some unknown reason decided to walk back and use the payphone to ask for a lift. When I called it turned out I didn’t have my keys with me and no one was in the house, so walking home would have meant standing out in the cold waiting for someone to get home. I remember thinking as I walked back to college to use the payphone that it made no sense to do this, since I’d already been half-way home. I waited in the warmth of the college until I was able to confirm that someone was home.
  3. One night my sister and I played a game where she looked at random cards from a pack of playing cards and I had to see what number she was looking at. I got 10 right in a row and we got so spooked that we stopped doing it!
  4. I used to be able to predict lottery numbers – unfortunately, only when the numbers had been selected by the machine but before the number was revealed to the viewing public. I regularly used to get three of four numbers correct.
  5. On my way to college one day, I saw someone walking on the opposite side of the pavement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look at them, and saw the lower part of a torso slowly fade out to nothing.
  6. Quite a few years ago now I worked for the NHS and used to make a fairly regular trip over to where some colleagues worked in a nearby hospital library. The library was supposedly haunted. One day, I was sat at my computer behind the library desk, and I heard a female voice singing, crystal clear and quite tuneful. It suddenly occurred to me that there was only myself and a colleague in the library, so I asked her if she had been singing. No, she had not. I also checked what the sounds from outside sounded like, since it was summer and the windows were open. I could certainly hear muffled voices and conversations from outside, but nothing as clear as the singing. When I later recalled this event to another colleague, she explained that one of the ghosts in the library was supposedly a lady in hospital gowns who wandered around singing. I doubted my own experience for long after this occurrence, but now I’m more inclined to trust that it happened.
  7. This is one of my favourites. I had booked a chimney sweep, and put the £45 fee in an old purse that I was due to throw out. It was two £20 notes, two £2 coins and one £1 coin. The purse was on the bookshelf in my living room, where the fireplace in question was being dealt with. I was aware of having someone in the house and made sure I only went as far away as the next room, so when I went to pay I was really surprised to find the money wasn’t there. What opportunity had he had to steal the money? He really didn’t seem like the type and, well, I was sure I’d have heard or seen something from the kitchen. I paid by cheque and did what we all do in these situations – beat myself up about it. Over the next few weeks I went back to the purse on several occasions, turning it inside out trying to make the money reappear. It just seemed so odd, and I had a gut feeling it hadn’t been stolen. One day, just as I was about to throw the purse out and forget the whole saga, I said a little prayer to the universe, along the lines of: “OK universe, I know I’ve been beating myself up about this and I know I need to learn to give myself a break. If I promise – really promise – to forgive myself for misplacing the money, please could I have it back because £45 is a lot of money!” I opened the purse and…. There it was. Two £20 notes, two £2 coins and one £1 coin. My husband swears he didn’t replace the money – and in any case he didn’t know the exact denominations.
  8. Only a few years ago, I was in an interview for a job I really wanted. With extra special emphasis on the really. I can’t exactly explain why, but I felt a strong magnetic pull to this job – almost as though it wanted me as much as I wanted it. So I was understandably nervous leading up to and during the interview, and when I was asked a question I couldn’t instantly think of a good answer to, I used a trick I’d read somewhere, which is to ask if you can take a moment to consider your answer. As I pondered, I stared into the corner of the ceiling and realised that my mind had gone completely blank – like a clean, white sheet of paper with no trace of any useful information. So I was surprised to discover myself giving a full and eloquent answer, without knowing where it had come from. The interviewees just looked at me for a few seconds, seemingly impressed with what they’d heard, and moved on to the next question.
  9. After three long and joyous/gruelling years of working in the job mentioned above, I reached a point whereby the only way forward for me was to quit and make a big change in my life. The change was calling to me, and it made me quake in my boots just thinking about it. If I did this, I sensed that everything would change for the better, but I didn’t have the courage – not least because I had no concrete plans whatsoever for what I would do with my life from that point onward. So I asked the universe for some guidance on my way into town to meet my mum. The guidance came in the form of a greetings card, which caught my eye in this gorgeous little gift shop I’ve been visiting for years. The card (of which there were many, but only this one called to me to read it) said this: “Life is like riding a bike – to keep your balance, you must keep moving”. That was all the confirmation I needed, as I had been going through a particularly magical phase in my life and listening to the ‘whispers’ from the universe was a daily occurrence for me. So I quit, and everything changed, and I’ve never been more scared or prouder of myself than in that moment.
  10. A year or two later, whilst walking to my sister’s house, I remembered that it’s important to ask for the things we want in life. So I silently asked the universe for a friend, and I was very specific that it had to be a proper friend, that I could be completely myself around, and who was on my wavelength. Basically, I was in need of a soul friend, which is something I’ve never truly had before. The other day, I was round at my friend’s house and I suddenly remembered what I had asked for. And boy oh boy did I get what I asked for: a friend like I’ve never had before, and who I cannot now imagine my life without. She has opened up my world and encouraged me to be more and more of who I am, and in return, she has gained the friend that she has always wanted.
  11. A doctor once mentioned something called Emotional Freedom Technique to me. I filed it away in my list of things to explore, and was later reminded of it when I read about it in a book. Hmmm, I thought – now feels like the right time to pursue this, but where on earth am I going to find a practitioner close to my home town? I had a look on the internet, couldn’t find anything, and settled on teaching myself how to use the technique, even though I knew this would never happen. Then one night I was giving my mum a shoulder rub and she asked where you can go to get a proper back massage that isn’t one of those beauty parlours with the false nails and eyelashes (nothing wrong with either of those things, obviously, but it’s not my mum’s style and she would feel uncomfortable in that kind of environment). I mentioned a local therapy centre I knew of, and upon checking the list of treatments they offer, there on the list was Emotional Freedom Technique. I was blown away, and subsequently signed up for sessions which have proven to be life changing. I realise that many people would dismiss this as coincidence, and of course I am open-minded to the idea. But this was one of many instances in my life where exactly the right thing/situation/person has come along exactly when I needed it.

It feels scary sharing these stories with you, because I know many people would dismiss or ridicule them. But that’s OK. No one should be forced to believe something they don’t. All I know is that these experiences are real, and that trusting my inner voice includes making room for the fact that there is more to life than meets the eye. Slowly but surely I hope to become more and more sure of my right to be here on this planet, living this life; not because someone else has told me so, but rather because I am able to know things without needing to be told.

Sending you all my very best wishes for the New Year.

Kath

p.s. Image courtesy of Andrew Melnychuk via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/y9yd37u8

Recipe for the perfect human being

This is a simple recipe, which can easily be followed once you realise that all the other ingredients you once thought were important are in fact completely unnecessary. The recipe is as follows:

Take 1 human being

Add a dollop of doing the best you can with the knowledge and skills you have

See life as a gift which is unfolding just for you, and never question your right to be here, to make mistakes or to struggle.

Take a whole heap of love and hold it in your heart

Additional notes:

Please don’t add any of the traditional ingredients, such as people-pleasing, judgement, perfectionism, self-loathing/lack of worthiness, or a heavy focus on achieving what you believe others see as important. All of these things look good enough, but they will make the finished recipe taste bitter and unsatisfying.

I have yet to master this recipe myself, but I intend to keep practising it until I have it just right – or as close to just right as I can manage!

Lots of love,

Kath

 

p.s. image courtesy of tinyfroglet via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/yca3kqez

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

Self-acceptance is a unique and personal journey

There is no rule book or set of processes to go through to gain a sense of self-acceptance. How could there be, when we are all so unique and have experienced such different life circumstances? That’s not to say that there aren’t tools and resources that we can use, and teachers (in the form of friends, authors, movies etc.) that will encourage us on our journey. It’s more that how we interpret them and what they mean to us as individuals will be highly personal.

This, of course, is no bad thing. If anything it’s part of the wonder that is human existence. Life is beautifully messy and chaotic. We are beautifully messy and chaotic. We are all united in our uniqueness and the complex twists and turns that life sometimes takes. Difference is a unifying factor – not a reason to find fault, or fear what we don’t understand.

My problem of late has been realising that who I am is so very different to the person I thought I was (or ought to be), that transitioning – or allowing myself to transform into the person I was always meant to be – is downright terrifying. Let me give you some background…

I’ve always been someone who feels things intensely and is highly emotional. I soak up other people’s emotions like a sponge, making many social encounters emotionally and physically draining. This has made working in a shared office environment practically impossible for me in the past, and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not suited to a busy, fast-paced lifestyle. I used to believe this meant that there’s something wrong with me or that I’m deficient in some way, but I’m coming to understand and respect this aspect of myself and not view it as a weakness or a failing.

My environment has always been extremely important to me, and the smallest detail such as lighting or the position of my desk in relation to the door has always had a huge impact on me. I know I’m not unique in this and that many people are ‘fussy’ about their office or home environments. I’m sure I’m not the only person who drives by houses in the winter time and wonders how on earth people can stand to sit in a brightly lit room with the television on full blast, with not a scented candle or joss stick in sight! I also detest brightly lit supermarkets and shops, which seems to be the norm these days. Something about those harsh overhead strip lights just does something to my brain and I can’t think straight or concentrate. Modern day living just doesn’t seem to suit me, no matter how much I’ve tried to make myself fit in. I often wish I was living in a small town with cobbled roads and a smattering of local shops – all lit by candlelight! I’d probably hate this is reality, but something about it really does appeal to me.

I’ve been a career person most of my adult life; ticking off the list of things to do as you enter and work your way through adulthood:

  • Get a good education
  • Get a job and stay there for approximately three years
  • Move on to a better job with greater prospects and increased pay
  • Get married and start thinking about having kids

In the last few years I’ve come to realise that this life was not serving me. It wasn’t allowing me to give the best of myself, to express who I really am, or to live anything other than a half-life. Now, I’d like to say that I came to this decision myself, by a process of careful analysis and deduction – but the truth is that life forced me to take a huge step back and reevaluate just about everything in my life, from my relationships to my career and my style of dress. My way of perceiving the world also changed, as I could no longer believe that our existence on this planet is just a happy accident and that human existence has no real meaning. I’m not religious. I do not believe in God in the sense that a member of an organised religion does. But I do believe that we are all part of something much greater than ourselves, that we are surrounded by guidance at every step of the way, and that we each had a purpose (or ten) when we entered this lifetime. I’ve experienced enough strange and magical moments over the last few years that I have no choice now but to wholeheartedly believe such whimsical notions as:

  • Life loves us all
  • We have a soul/higher-self that is always trying to guide us towards our highest good
  • We all have something unique and meaningful to offer the world

I’m finding these things very hard to come to terms with, because I still feel like a bit of a nutcase when I express my views on life. People regularly giggle at me, and I often make a joke of myself by making reference to hippies and rainbows, and generally poo-pooing my own belief system. It’s just going to take time, I guess. The day will come when I can stand tall, look someone in the eyes and say: “You are a beautiful beam of light”, without laughing nervously afterwards! In the meantime, I’ll just keep giggling.

So, as you can see, self-acceptance is quite a roller-coaster for me, because to accept who I truly am, I have to accept that:

  • My life now looks completely different to how it did
  • A lot of people in my life either don’t approve or are taking a while to get on board
  • My views are more than a little ‘out there’ for the average conversation over a cup of coffee
  • The more I believe in myself, the happier and more fulfilled I feel, so I have no choice but to keep going, no matter how much I want to run back to the safety of my old life. Anxiety and depression come when I deny something fundamental about myself, and follow social constructs about what I should do and who I should be.

What does self-acceptance mean to you? Are you gay but don’t feel able to come to terms with it? Are you a geek surrounded by people who don’t understand your passion for 18th Century literature? Are you a wild soul who lives in the suburbs and longs to sell up and build a tree house in the forest?

No matter who you are or what you’re going through, self-acceptance is possible. Please don’t tell yourself that your life is so unique that no one else has ever overcome something similar and found peace within themselves.

The one thing that we can all benefit from, no matter who we are or what we’re aiming for, is a tribe: a group of people who are on our wavelength, who help us to become more and more of who we are, and who inspire us to live our best lives. This tribe of people will look different for all of  us, but they will all have the same effect of supporting us and providing space for us to explore our true selves in a safe environment.

I’m at a loss at the moment. My old journey seems to have come to an end, and I haven’t fully embraced the next chapter of my life yet. I’m in a state of limbo; too scared to move forward, but even more scared to go back to my old ways. I’m not 100% sure where I belong or what my ‘tribe’ looks like. I guess for now all I can do is respect the process, be kind to myself and know that no matter how small my progress may be, I’m moving towards something wonderful.

I love you all, because I’m a great big hippy – yay!

Bye for now,

Kath x

 

p.s. Image is by Travis Simon via Flickr: https://tinyurl.com/ya6d6vtg

Showing up for the things that matter

Oh wow, I seem to be having a series of epiphanies over the last couple of days, and it’s blowing my mind into a series of small pieces. Hopefully they will come back together to form a single entity, but for now it feels like I need to ponder the topics that have arisen. So let’s begin!

My life has been about achievement for a very long time; doing things that will earn me a sense of acceptance, worth and security. It was the only way I could feel safe, and to just do whatever I fancied doing at any given moment was a very dangerous act indeed, and one that I could derive no enjoyment from. I have had to gradually re-learn how to live life in a healthy and balanced way, and slowly but surely I am able to dedicate more and more of my time to the things I love to do. But I still have this feeling – this critical inner voice – that tells me that doing things simply for enjoyment and fulfilment is utterly pointless. And I’m not just talking about going to the beach or riding a roller coaster at a fairground: I’m talking about writing my book. Because there’s no guarantee that it will be successful, gain me recognition, earn me money… etc. It is something I have faith in, and I know I need to write it because it’s sitting inside of me screaming to get out. But I’m still stuck in the illusion that the only things that matter or that are capable of making me feel safe and whole, are the ones that will earn me some sort of badge of recognition. Writing an essay for my degree course? Bring it on. This has been assigned to me and there is a grade waiting for me at the end of the process.

Note: I should point out that I graduated from university in 2006, and I’m firmly in my thirties – just in case you thought I was still a spring chicken.

But writing a book with no guaranteed anything at the end of it is terrifying. The only thing that keeps me coming back to this blog is the fact that I can see my subscribers steadily increasing and I get an occasional (and much appreciated) like from one of you lovely people. Of course, we all need to think of ways to remain motivated, and I’m only human, so I don’t need to be too hard on myself. But there’s still this enormous sense of ‘what’s the point?’ when it comes to anything in life that is purely for my own benefit and sense of wholeness. I mean, I’m only just learning that I have a sense of wholeness, and a voice inside of me that is uniquely mine and that I can trust above all others. I sure as hell don’t know what to do with any of this information yet.

If life was one long, never-ending degree course with an assessment at the end of each stage, I would be in my element. This is what my childhood prepared for, and only this. Academic success was my only way of feeling safe and acceptable to others, and when I finally finished my studies and entered the world outside of education, things started to get really scary for me.

And let’s be honest, my story won’t be unique. Even those of you who weren’t so hung up on grades and success will have felt that feeling of ‘WTF?’ when your schooling came to an end and the script ran out. And I really believe that ‘script’ is the right word to use here, because for the most part our plans in life are handed to us by our parents and society as a whole. Up until a certain point, we have no real reason to pursue our own truths, because we’re so busy doing what is expected of us, or handed down to us by others. Is it any wonder that so many people go through such deep darkness in their adult years; they’ve been on a box-ticking mission, and it turns out that life is about more than just making sure you sign on the dotted line.

There is so much joy to be had from being a member of the human race. And in fact, I’m beginning to realise that the purpose of life is joy. It’s what we’re here for, it’s just that everyone is so stuck in a fearful world view that they don’t trust that life could be that easy. We want to earn our right to be happy through hard work, struggle and perseverance, because this is all we know. These messages are handed down to us from our parents, and we in turn pass them on to our children. How can I expect my parents to support my ‘money will flow into my life when I do what I love’ attitude when they were brought up believing that the world is a dangerous and tough place, full of obstacles and opportunities to fail? If I want to break the cycle, I have to live my own truth regardless of what anyone else thinks, which again is frankly terrifying for me right now.

But I’ve always had this sense that I’m here for a reason. Not a mission handed down to me from on high, but rather a purpose that I chose for myself, that is part of my very being, and that only I can truly understand. I can surround myself with support and messages that encourage me to keep taking steps forward, but at the end of the day, only I can trust in my own journey. As much as I’d like to get someone to sign a piece of paper declaring that my life is meaningful and important and that when things get really tough I can find solace inside of myself, that just ain’t gonna happen! I have to write the declaration and sign it for myself.

If I’m completely honest, this is the moment I’ve been dreading: the moment I realise that my life really does belong to me and is a gift for me to unwrap in any way that feels right. I cannot emphasise the extent to which this does not feel safe. I can feel my fearful ego squirming inside of me and wishing desperately for me to run back for safety. But there’s no going back now. I’ve come so far that the only way forward is forward, and it’s going to take a whole lot of faith and love.

I simply can’t go on doubting myself and questioning my very existence. For one thing, it’s extremely cruel, and if I acted this way towards a friend they probably wouldn’t stick around for too long. It’s only acceptable because we’re taught that self-hatred and deprecation are OK, whereas to hate others is not. How messed up is that?! And for another thing, if I want to do what I sense I came here to do, there isn’t any room for the level of self-doubt I’ve been experiencing.

Life is so strange. We’re taught so little about it as children and adolescents, and spend the rest of our lives acquiring the knowledge we really need to survive and live a happy and meaningful existence. So yes, I will write that book, and I will trust that it wants to be written as much as I want to write it, and that something good will come from it, even if it’s just a sense of personal satisfaction. Because I think we have to trust that if there’s something we really want to do, that there is some joy waiting for us at the other side.

Peace out, and thanks as ever for taking the time to read my words.

Kath

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

Mountain of fears

Hello lovely readers and fellow human beings! How’s your day going so far?

I was just flipping through an old notebook and found the following poem. I don’t often (if ever) write poetry, but in the last few years I have found myself spontaneously putting pen to paper in an attempt to express something about myself or the emotions I’m feeling at the time. As far as this poem goes, I’m still stood on the mountain of fear, but I have taken my first brave few steps towards the valley below.

Mountain of fear

I’m stood on a mountain

All on my own

I’m scared of my shadow

I’m scared I might fall

Who will be there, to catch me when I stumble?

And yet the view is magnificent from up here

I see new places for me to explore

I see sunshine and happiness and love

I see beautiful rich colours

If the mountain is my fears, the valley below is my dreams

Step by step I will descend into joy

Not prize-winning by any means! But still, I quite like it. I remember not really being in control of the words that came out. They just sort of poured out of their own accord. I like this, because it reminds me that there is such a thing as a subconscious mind to be listened to and respected. Our subconscious can teach us a lot about who we are and what we want for ourselves. If we don’t take the time to listen, we might find ourselves feeling very lost indeed. So give it a go. Just take a blank piece of paper and a pen and see what appears on the page. Don’t be afraid of what you might write, and don’t judge yourself for it. It is what it is, and you are who you are. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that!

Peace out! x

A definition of spirituality, and how you might be more spiritual than you realise…

Spirituality is a word that I have always found a little uncomfortable. I do not come from a religious family, and whilst I respect all religions and try not to judge others for having a different belief system to me, I have always associated being spiritual with being religious, and that, I find, just isn’t quite the right for for me.

There’s also the whole ridicule thing. People who live a hippy-ish sort of existence and believe in crystal healing and the power of love to heal all wounds, tend to be seen as being a bit wacky and ‘out there’. You know what I mean? We’ve all heard jokes poked at people who talk about releasing their inner child and going on a journey of self-discovery.

So what is spirituality? I’m someone who has seen and experienced a few things which just can’t be explained through science. I have seen and heard ghosts, I’ve had random moments of complete intuition – like a sixth sense. My sister and I once played a game when we were teenagers. We were especially close at the time, and so had a strong bond. She would look at a playing card and I would tell her what number she was looking at. I once got about 10 correct in a row, and we got so freaked out we stopped playing! I’ve had clear signs from the Universe (or God, or whatever you wish to call that feeling that there is something bigger than us, surrounding us at all times and helping us along the way) as to what steps I should take next in my life. I’ve had strange things happen that others have called coincidence, but which I know is something else. My mum always used to say to me growing up that things have a funny sort of way of sorting themselves out, and I have certainly had moments in my life where exactly the right person, job or situation has come along exactly when I needed it.

We all have, at different times, a sense that there is something more to this life. Some of us believe in fate, or that ‘if it’s meant to be, it will be’. We have all (I hope!) experienced love, which is that most magical thing we can’t measure or test with scientific instruments, but which we nonetheless know exists.

So I think, in our own ways, we are all a bit spiritual. This doesn’t mean that we can’t then believe in science, or that just because you believe in ghosts you also have to believe in crystal healing etc. There is no fixed definition. We are our own definitions of spirituality, each and every one of us. So the next time you hear a beautiful piece of music and you are transported to another place, you can think ‘ah hah, I think I just had a spiritual moment!’

I hope this post chimes with some of you. It’s something that has been playing around in my mind for a while. I’m determined not to be embarrassed or feel I need to make excuses for any aspects of myself, including my spiritual beliefs. I want to be able to own every aspect of myself, and show myself the same respect I try to show others.

Bye for now x