Category Archives: Writing

Life as a free spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and stuff x

Not everyone is ready for your (or my) advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love always,

Kath

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.

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

Have you got a problem with me?

OK, so for a while now I’ve been wanting to write a book by the same name as this blog. The title actually came to me one night when I was having a pretty hard time. I needed to do something to keep my focus and help me stay in the moment, so I got out a big blank sheet of white paper and some pens and pencils, and I sat in my little hideaway upstairs and wrote – in extremely large cartoon-ish letters: ‘Have you got a problem with me?’ I don’t know where it came from. I don’t use language like this in my everyday conversations (because it’s a little on the aggressive side, and heaven forgive me if I ever cause slight offence or let someone know how I’m actually feeling for once!). But it came from somewhere, and I just knew that one day I would write a book by that title, all about how to care less what others think and live a life of worthiness and self-expression – and FREEDOM. That’s the big one right there; it’s amazing (and incredibly sad) how so many of us can feel like prisoners in our own lives.

Anyway, I had some inspiration from somewhere, and I acted upon it by starting to write the book in question, and when I realised writing a book might take a while, I set up this blog to give me an outlet for my ideas in the meantime.

Problem is, I’m not writing the book anymore, and in fact don’t post to this blog as often as I’d like to. But even so, I keep feeling as though writing is somehow meant to be part of my life, and I certainly do carry around a lot of ideas each and every day which I hope might help one or two people to take life a little less seriously and relax into who they really are. I mean, if only one person read the book and took a small piece of inspiration from it, then it’s a job well done, right? I’ll have got all my ideas out of my head and onto paper, so I don’t have to keep mulling them over all the time, and someone, somewhere in the world, has learnt something valuable to take forward and maybe even share with others.

There’s something about writing of your own volition – rather than because you have a deadline or someone has specifically asked you to put pen to paper. It’s just that much harder to motivate yourself and to feel that what you’re doing is worthwhile. So to help me achieve my goal of one day finishing this book, which I think could be really good (and hopefully useful to lots of young people who are struggling to know what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in life), I’m going to make a commitment to you, my readers, that I will finish a draft of ‘Have you got a problem with me’ by September 2018. I already have chapter headings and around 17,000 words, so I think that’s realistic. Only one way to find out I guess!

I feel terrified making this commitment in case I break it or in case no one is even reading this blog post, which I’m writing with such enthusiasm and gusto! Here I am, bashing away at the keyboard, and you guys are like: “yeah, you lost me at the first paragraph lady!” I’m just going to be positive and assume that at least one person is still reading at this point. Hi, whoever you are!

OK, so thanks for being here to listen to me, and I am hopeful that, as some of you have been kind enough to follow my blog, I might not be too far off the mark when I tell myself that this book could be a really good thing. Maybe it’ll just be a small book/guide which I provide free as an instant download, or maybe it will be self-published on Amazon, or maybe it will get published by an actual publisher. Does it really matter? Well, if you asked my mum, she’d probably say yes because she doesn’t believe in working for no monetary reward, but if there’s anything I’ve learnt the last few years, it’s that parents are frequently wrong! Huzzah!

Bye for now folks x

p.s. wish me luck!

 

Image by Kevin Doncaster: https://tinyurl.com/ybwnjrvw