Intention 3

Reflecting on my Gratitude post last week, I have realised that I live so much in either the past or the future – in my ‘stories’ – that I miss much of what is happening now.

At the moment I am sitting in a coffee shop while I wait for the car to be repaired – I don’t know what is wrong, but I’ll worry about that when I do!  I love the ambiance of this coffee shop.  It’s cosy and always feels friendly.  It sits in what was once Montrose jail and still has the three-feet thick walls, low doorways and recessed windows.  There is a stone floor and lovely old beams support the roof.  I can hear the low thrum of conversation and snippets of them as the voices of the people around me occasionally rise or burst into laughter, and I can smell the scent from my chamomile tea and the beginnings of today’s home-made soup (sweet potato and red pepper).  I walked here in a roundabout way from the garage, doing errands on the way and I can feel the tingle of my muscles not used to moving so much.  I feel the softness of the cushion that I’m sitting on and I enjoy the flow of my pen as it moves across the page recording these thoughts.  Outside, it’s a beautiful warm, sunny day and the cool water that I drink is refreshingly welcome before I have my tea.

All of this is in the ‘now’.

With this in mind, my intention this week is to stop and smell the roses.  To bring myself back from future or past, what might or might not have been, and focus on what is in front of me.  Right here.  Right now.

Will you join me?

Rosa ‘schoolgirl’

Gratitude Friday 2

This post was written for Gratitude Friday, but the handfasting celebrations of my fabby  friend and a shopping day out with Tech Guy, have postponed it – so in the spirit of the kindness I have promised myself, I present it to you now – a day late, but no less sincere!

Written  on Thursday 21st June 2012

Cheer Bear. My eldest daughter’s favourite toy

It’s 2.00am and I’m struggling to sleep.  I had a phone call from Awesome Daughter Number 1 earlier this evening.  She was distraught and 120 miles away.  Feeling like her life’s dream is being taken away from her.  From the first day she walked into primary school at the age of 4½ she has wanted to be a teacher.  Her whole school life was dedicated to gaining the qualifications she needed to fulfil this dream.  She qualified with flying colours and embarked on her career.

Teaching in Scotland is currently a precarious profession.  There are 300 applicants for every job that comes up in Edinburgh where she qualified, but undaunted she has taken temporary posts to gain as much experience as she can.  She has worked extra hours and has undertaken extra-curricular activities and yet five years after graduating she still does not have a permanent teaching post.  This past year she has had a long term, temporary position at a school she likes.  She loves the children and has made friends with the staff.  She missed out on a permanent job last year, but thought that this year – with her experience and dedication – her time would come.  But no, the jobs were given to less experienced and less dedicated teachers.  And so, this evening she was on the phone breaking her heart, doubting her abilities and asking if this was the Universe telling her that she was on the wrong path.  Questioning how many rejections must she take before she accepts that it’s not her interview technique, or the interviewer that’s the problem, it’s her.  Not being able to follow her dream is making her ill – enough for her to consider giving it all up.

My beautiful, talented daughter feeling like there is something wrong with her – and I can do nothing to help.  I can listen to her sobbing but I can’t take away her pain.  So here I am.  Not sleeping, feeling powerless.

The TV is on, showing a programme about Great Ormond Street Hospital – a children’s hospital in London where they embark on experimental surgery and treatments.  I’m hearing about a young girl whose trachea is so narrow that she can barely breathe and babies whose rib cages are not growing so their lungs are compressed.  Without surgery these children will die.  With surgery they may die anyway.  Their parents are having to make decisions – not about whether their children will die, but about when.

These parents are worrying about their young children.  I am worrying about my adult daughter.  Yesterday I was worrying about being short of money and today I am reminded of what is truly important.  I am grateful for my daughters, their health and the opportunity to be there for them in whatever capacity I can be.

I Believe 7

Yesnaby Castle Sea Stack, Orkney Islands, by Patrick Dieudonne

I believe that everything is impermanent.

I read this question from Teresa Deak on Facebook yesterday.

“I’m fascinated by the story behind this beautiful poem by Kelly Letky  and I’m curious about your own definitions of impermanence…. what are your stories?”

I didn’t really answer the question because it sent me off in another direction.  Off I went for a ponder.

My definition of impermanence is, I imagine like most people, ‘not permanent; transitory’.  But when I thought about it, I couldn’t find an example of anything that is, actually, permanent.  Everything changes.  Edifices weather and crumble.  The granite boulder is eroded by the sea to join millions of others that make up the sand.  The seasons cycle.  Flowers grow, bloom, seed and die.  I am currently experiencing the joy of watching young chicks as they fledge nests and develop into adult birds.  Cells are being born, growing, dying.  Even Tech guy – who I expect to be a permanent fixture in my life, for the rest of my life – grows and changes.  Virtually every cell that existed within his body seventeen years ago when we met has been replaced.  His neural pathways have extended, increased, formed and reformed.  His hair has got greyer – and shorter, and longer and shorter again.  My three awesome daughters are not babies any more – they too have grown, learned, developed and have become accomplished young women in their own rights.  Every experience or encounter that we have changes us in one way or another.

Have you ever met someone whose kindness brightened your day?  Or found that, no matter how positive you are at the start of your work shift, the negativity of the people you work with drags you down into a depression?  Each of these experiences impacts on us and changes us in one way or another.

Sometimes we rail against change – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it – and often we can’t see the positive in a change.  New technology moves forward at an, often, alarming rate and echoing in the back of my mind are the words of my parents, “in my day…..”  In my day we wrote letters, had to be at home to make a phone call, had respect for our elders, said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, wore school uniform.  We paid attention, did our duty and conformed to the standards of the day.  But we also didn’t have a voice, were ‘seen and not heard’.  We were clipped around the ear for talking back (which often was just having a different opinion to our parents) and were taught to learn facts and figures rather than critical analysis.  So, things change. No longer do people have to hide their sexuality, they can speak out about abuse and injustice.  They can leave unhealthy relationships.  We have choices that our parents never had.  We survive illnesses that past generations possibly would never have contracted because they didn’t live long enough.  Without change the world would be populated by dinosaurs instead of people.

Change brings us huge benefits as well as challenges. It serves us well to remember that since things change, when we find ourselves in an intolerable situation – this too will pass.  The pain of the death of a loved one recedes over time, broken bones and hearts mend and suffering caused by past experiences can be released if we allow them to.

The problems arise when we take these things to be permanent.  Stories that we have carried from our past.  I once asked a patient of mine why it was that when she received dozens of positive affirmations of her worth and one negative one – that was the one she chose to believe.  Is it innate that we believe the worst about ourselves – despite evidence to the contrary?  Certainly I am much more comfortable seeking evidence to support the negative idea of myself.  I learned from a very early age – at two years old, having spent a couple of weeks with my Grandmother while my mother was in hospital giving birth to my younger sister – I screamed and fought not to go home.  My Mother believed that I had been spoiled by my Nana – it did not occur to her that it was preferable to me to stay in a small, one bedroom flat with my elderly grandparents than go home to what awaited me there – constant reinforcement that I was not good enough – and here was another child just to prove that my Mother needed one that was better than me.  Experiences over the next fifty years did little to negate these beliefs and so, I hung on to my story.  It formed my identity and informed every encounter and experience I had.

Then I found the internet.  Halleluja!  I found blogs and articles from people who felt the same way I did and this gave me the hope that things could change – and more, that things could change in my favour!  And so I am learning self love and self acceptance.  But letting go is harder than I hoped.  How do you let go of something that has been the basis of your identity for over fifty years?  If that goes, then what is left?  And actually, how do you let that go?  It feels like all of me is woven into that belief – like a mat in the earth that has the roots of the grass and plants so entwined in it that it has become part of them.

Well, I’m hanging on to the ‘everything changes’ theory and directing my change.  Sometimes it feels like I’m getting nowhere and other times (like last week) it feels like I’m making huge big leaps.  But I’m aware now.  I’m more able to understand that resistance, suffering, anger and judgement are expressions of an unmet need and I can examine them and learn from them – and you, lucky reader – get to go through all of it with me!

So, I still believe that everything is impermanent unless we choose otherwise.  And Teresa – I hope this answers your question!

Clematis

Intention 2

Awesome daughter number 3

On Saturday we had a ‘phone’ incident.  The second ‘phone’ incident in as many months.  Awesome Daughter Number 3 has a mobile phone – on contract which she pays for out of her pocket money (along with insurance – her idea) and she’s had it for about three months.  One month in, she was messing about with her pals when it got dropped and the screen broke.  Bye bye phone.  Response – screaming, shouting, threats of grounding and questions about whether she is responsible enough to have a (smart) phone and whether or not she deserves to have a good phone when she clearly can’t look after it!  That would be my response.  Her Dad, on the other hand, took a deep breath, pulled out the insurance documents made a few phone calls and Hey Presto! a new phone arrived within the week.  All good except for a few missing phone numbers and all her favourite music.  Calm was restored.

Fast forward to Saturday evening.  Last weekend it had been the birthday of one of her friends and Alex had missed it because of other commitments (though I’m not even sure she had been invited – but that’s a whole other mess of self acceptance on my part!) so she invited some of her friends here for a movie night.  She baked and decorated a cake and made some cookies.  The girls were staying for a sleep over and the boys went home after the film.  She had cleaned her room for the girls staying over and she had cleaned the sitting room for them watching the movie.  All in all, she made a huge effort to make sure that Jaz had a great night.  Then she discovered that her phone had been damaged again – and again the screen was broken.  She held off telling her dad and me until the boys had gone and then she waited for the fall out.

To her surprise – and mine – I took a deep breath and didn’t shout.  I explained the consequences – no phone until we can get it replaced (and that won’t happen until we have the funds to pay the insurance excess) and if she doesn’t have her phone, then her social life is curtailed.

My default response of taking the incident personally and feeling angry and in pain because things have not gone the way I believe they should – and then shouting screaming and blaming so that she feels as much pain as I do – disappeared.  I was able to see that she was already in pain, that shouting and blaming won’t fix the phone and that railing against what ‘is’ won’t change anything.  And so I accepted what was.  I was able to put into practice all the things I’ve been working on over the last four weeks and understand that resistance really is futile!

Even better, I’m not just sitting on anger, huffing with a simmering bad mood.  I’m able to hold her in my heart and send love to her – and hope she realises that an accident happened that wasn’t her fault and that it doesn’t diminish her in any way.

And so my intention for this week is to maintain this attitude of kindness – to myself, my husband, my daughters and anyone else that I have encounters with.  Mmm… not so sure about those unsolicited sales phone calls though…!

What is your intention for this week?

Gratitude Friday

life-of-a-london-intern.blogspot.com

Well, it’s Friday and since gratitude has been playing a large part in my life recently, I thought that this might be an appropriate opportunity to reflect on the good things in my life!  With this in mind I’d like to make this a regular feature here on the blog – Friday Gratitudes – a chance to reflect on the week that has passed and to consider what is good in my life.  I’d love you to join me in expressing gratitude for the good things in your life!

When life is challenging and difficult, it’s all too easy to focus on the negative.  However, this way of thinking can just pull us into a spiral that can ultimately result in depression.  What helped me to break this cycle was to begin switching my focus to those things in my life that were good.  They didn’t have to be big things – a really good cup of coffee, the intense colour of the flowers in the garden or the tiny detail in the markings on the birds at the local nature reserve – but they could be as huge as the love I have for my husband, the admiration for my daughters or the beauty of the full moon!  There is always something to be positive about.  One friend has a son who has challenges – but finds joy in his smile, another lives with a frail and demanding parent – but appreciates her time on the beach with her dogs.  When we change our focus, life seems better.  We can even change our perspective on the challenges we face if we can see these challenges as lessons which, when learned, will enhance our lives.

And so, today, I express my gratitude for my unstintingly supportive husband; my beautiful, accomplished daughters; Amy Palko whose Beautiful Beliefs project has had a huge impact on my life; learning to trust that I am good enough; the rain – because without it we wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine and oh, remember that cup of coffee….?

My cuppa!

I Believe 6

Break of Dawn by Dominic Kamp

I believe that I am beginning to believe that I am good enough.

I used to wonder what was wrong with me.  I continually used to ask ‘who am I?’ Until I suddenly realised that who I am has always been here, I just hadn’t uncovered her.  I have always disliked what I saw in the mirror – and came to realise that this was because I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror.  I had the belief (deep seated for most of my 51 years) that I was not good enough or important and I needed validation from others – praise for a good job from those I worked with – pandering from my husband to prove that I am important, acquiring ‘stuff’ to prove that I was as good as other people.  I was afraid of attracting attention because if anyone ‘looked’ at me they would see me for what I am – not good enough, wanting – and then they would reject me.  I thought that I didn’t have the life I wanted.  My sisters are successful in their professions and financially secure – this is what life is supposed to be like, right?  Well, I’m not successful in my career and I’m definitely not financially secure – again, not good enough.  It’s only really since I had to leave my job through ill health (stress and depression caused by the job itself) that I began my journey to find myself – and it’s only in the last few weeks that I feel like I’ve properly moved forward.

About three or four weeks ago, I had a complete melt down about this – I was yelling, screaming, crying that I needed my husband to understand that I feel like this, that I needed him to see what was important to me and act accordingly because that was the only way that I could feel important or good enough.  I had expectations about everything – and if they weren’t met, then that indicated to me that I was not considered to be important – and at that time, the pain I was feeling was almost unbearable.  (This tirade lasted pretty much all morning!).

Bear in mind that I have been reading around this subject for around three years.  I have received Reiki to try and unblock my chakras.  I have learned meditation (not particularly successfully).  I have joined psychic groups and undertaken energy healing.  I have read books and blogs and listened to webcasts and watched videos to no avail – but somehow, this time, a wall seemed to tumble down and I was able to recognise that these feelings were not rooted in truth.

I have realised that I am completely good enough – because if I wasn’t I’d be something else – and as long as I believe that, it doesn’t matter if others think differently (though mostly they don’t) and what they think of me isn’t any of my business anyway!  The only person that has to feel that I am important is me – and just because others don’t show me that they think I’m important in a way that I want them to, doesn’t mean that they don’t think that I am.  But again, what others think is none of my business.

Much of the advice out there about how to have the life you want says to look at what our dreams are.  I have tried to consider what my dreams are – but I didn’t believe that I had dreams (on reflection, I didn’t believe that I deserved to have dreams) – I have no desire to travel to distant shores, paint a masterpiece, be famous – I just wanted to stay at home and not have to go out to work to earn money.  I wanted to have time to spend with my husband so that we could follow our hobby of birdwatching.  Once I began practicing gratitude – looking for the good things in my life, I suddenly realised that I have most of this.  Because I don’t work I get to stay at home and my husband and I have the time that we want together.  The only thing I don’t have is an income that would allow us to do more!  But, two dreams out of three ain’t bad!

Then I started to look at self care and self love.  Again – when you dislike what or who you see in the mirror where do you find self love?

But then I turned it around and thought ‘what if – if I can’t love myself – I just act in a loving way towards myself?  Be as kind and considerate to myself as I would to someone else’.  And so if I catch myself being negative I ask myself – what would I say to someone else who was feeling like this?  If someone else didn’t get their ‘to do’ list finished, would I berate them?  I realised that I wouldn’t.  So if it’s ok for someone else to be not perfect, then why not for me?  Then, as I continued reading around this, I realised that most people (or women at least) seem to feel exactly the same.  And since there is no reason for them to do so, then probably there is no reason for me to do so!

I also realised that not only did I speak to myself unkindly, but I also treated myself poorly.  I believed that I was caring for myself by giving myself time to watch tv, browse the internet, spend hours on facebook – but I became aware that none of this was constructive – and it just gave me another excuse to call myself lazy and good for nothing.  I’m coming to understand that self care is about things like – what I put into my body, how I make my body move, nourishing my soul and how I spend my time – and this only comes from feeling like you deserve to be looked after.  I no longer try to block out unpleasant feelings of pain – I feel them – look them in the eye and ask them ‘where have you come from?  What do you mean to me?  What lesson can I learn here?’

When you feel like you’re not good enough, you think that you are the only one who does – my hope is that this will show that you are never the only one – and that there is a way through it when you are ready.

Please know that I’m by no means there yet – this website calls me ‘A Work in Progress’ – but that now, when that voice says ‘you’re not good enough’ I can say ‘actually I am!’  And when someone asks how I am, I can say ‘good thank you’ – and mean it!

This post is published as a contribution to Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project.  If you would like to know more about Amy’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there!

Intentions

*image courtesy of quotable cards.

I live my life with lists, including ‘to do’ lists – many of which never get done even though I love ticking the items off when I’ve completed them!  If I have an event coming up, out comes a spreadsheet and I meticulously plan what items I need for the event to be a success.  A family party will inspire menus and shopping lists and a schedule for cooking, freezing and things to do on the day.  Holidays elicit lists of things to purchase and pack and Christmas requires a list of cards to make and send.  Why then do I fall down when it comes to scheduling tasks and goals necessary to build a business?

It would appear that building my business falls way down in my list of priorities – somewhere behind catching up with emails and facebook, my favourite blogs, recorded TV shows, days out with hubby and, when things get really bad, housework!

So inspired by ‘A Year With Myself’, I think it’s time to get organised.  To give myself a framework that will keep me straight and guide my posts.  And since Monday starts the week, I thought that would be a good day to set an intention for the week.  On Wednesday, I will participate in Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project and on Friday I will reflect on the week and consider what gifts I have received over the previous seven days.  Tuesdays and Thursdays will be left for me to ponder what takes my interest on those days!  And most importantly, I will retain a bit of flexibility just in case there’s a bit of a cock up!

At this juncture it might be helpful to explore what an intention is and how it differs from a goal.  A goal is defined as “the aim or object towards which an endeavour is directed”, whereas intention is defined as “an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result” or “purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct” (Collins Concise Dictionary).

Dana Theus gives a simple personal example. “You may have a goal to leave the office every day by 6pm to spend time with your family. Great goal, but inevitably, if you’re in a leadership position, business intervenes with – stuff. If all you have is your goal, every time the business hands you a stinker, you fail, feel bad, piss off your spouse/boss etc. Who wants goals like that? Alternatively if you have an intention to spend as much quality time with your family as possible, you will still have to deal with those inconvenient work problems, but you have no guilt about coming into the office 30 minutes late the next morning to make time to take your kid to school”.  She suggests that by meeting your intention, you’re giving yourself the flexibility to deal with life as it shows up while still achieving success on your own terms and that intentions give you permission to achieve success where others only see options to fail by not meeting the goal. This distinction is important for someone like me for whom failure feeds into the whole ‘I’m not good enough’ frame of mind!

So, without further ado and it being Monday, today I will set my intention for this week – to give myself time, ahead of everything else, to write.  To research my topics so that I come fully prepared and present to the posts that I write, and to make sure that my readers get the best of me.  Oh, and to ensure that I get two Father’s day cards made before the weekend!

I Believe 5

Image by Karen Blackburn

I believe that the desire or need for control comes from fear.

For me, the fear is that if I have to deal with the spontaneous or the unexpected I’ll be found wanting – I’ll be seen, attention will be focused on me and I’ll be found out as not being good enough or important enough.  I am aware that this desire resides in me and I think it was born when my Mother retained all the control in my life (friends, money, social time) – right up until I married my first husband at the age of 21. Thereafter, being away from the controlling situation, I needed to have control myself. I needed to be right.   I needed to know where things were going and what would happen. I planned things to death, lists were the order of the day and so were tantrums if things didn’t go my way! Over the last year or so – since I began my spiritual journey – I have come to understand that we have no real control over anything other than ourselves (though I do frequently still experience this desire to control, just as I fear being exposed as not being good enough). When I get into this place of resistance (need to control or opposition to what I believe), I feel it as tension, both physically and in my soul. It feels like there is a large, strong, solid fence resisting the wind, and the anxiety, anger, frustration and hurt that I feel is the turbulence caused by the wind hitting this immovable force. When I visualise it like this, I can imagine the fence changing into a tree with beautiful pliable branches, thus allowing everything through. The turbulence stops, and it really does feel like softening, and the anxiety, anger and hurt can dissipate. My soul feels gentler and more able to allow love in.

Photo from http://www.mysticfamiliar.com/library/treelore/willow.html

This really is a work in progress – it’s not easy to break down the walls that I have taken 30 years to build up, but brick by brick I am dismantling them.  Ultimately, they will go and the ‘me’ that I have been afraid to show the world will be there in all my glory – with no need to control, because I will understand that I am good enough and I am important!

This post was inspired by Julie Daley’s post ‘Softening into the Silk of the Soul’. You can find it here -  Unabashedly Female by Julie Daley

This was originally posted as part of Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project at Sunshine on a Rainy Day on 6th June 2012.

This post is published as a contribution to Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project.  If you would like to know more about Amy’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there!

I Believe 4

I believe that I am one of the luckiest women alive!

I am not financially wealthy. I don’t live in a mansion. I don’t drive a fancy sports car. I don’t take expensive holidays. My bank account is overdrawn and I sit on a second hand sofa. But my life is perfect. I am married to a wonderful man whose mission in life seems to be to ensure my happiness. I have three beautiful accomplished daughters and a son-in-law whose mission in life seems to be to ensure my daughter’s happiness. I have two cats who can be cuddly when they want to be fed and haughty once they’ve eaten. Who entertain us when they are chasing rainbows or hunting hair bands. I don’t work, so my husband and I have time – time to spend together, time to watch the birds out of the window and time to get out in nature and wonder at her bounty.

I get to enjoy the sun shine and the rain fall. I love it when I’m being blown over by a blustery gale and when I can be warm and cosy indoors when it’s cold and snowy outside or when the hailstones are stinging my cheeks on the way to bouncing off the path. I love to watch the butterflies flitting among the flowers and I love to catch sight of a deer in the distance when I’m out in the country.

I can meditate – even though I’m still just learning and not very good at it yet – and I love my crystals. I love reading and learning and sharing what I’ve learned. I love quiet time to myself and I love noisy time with my family (sometimes!). I love that I’m learning that I don’t have to be perfect at everything at the same time as being perfect because I’m unique. I have the privilege of access to the blogs and websites of many inspiring women who have helped me on my adventure and of the friendship of others who have supported me in the establishment of my own.

All of this and so much more enriches my life and demonstrates to me that I am, indeed, one of the luckiest women alive!

This was originally posted as part of Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project at Sunshine on a Rainy Day on 30th May 2012.

If you would like to know more about Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there!

I Believe 3

http//:thesmugcloud.wordpress.com/20120112/acts-of-kindness

I believe that I am becoming more accepting of myself.While this is a post written for Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs project, it was inspired by a post in Bliss Habits.

In today’s Bliss Habits, Sandi Amorin talks about her ‘lizard brain’ – you know, the one that tells you that you can’t do things, you’re rubbish, you’ll never be good enough, you shouldn’t try that it’ll all end in tears.  She calls hers ‘Lizzie’.  I prefer to cal mine ….’Mum’!  I guess some of you might know where I’m coming from here.

My lizard brain has done a great job over the last fifty years of making sure that I don’t get above my station.  It tells me that I’m stupid and not as good as my sisters – they have well-paid, responsible jobs that they have done for over twenty years, whereas, here am I, unemployed and feeling pretty unemployable.  Oh, don’t get me wrong I’ve had my share of jobs – I’ve worked in banks, call centres, the hospitality industry and I’ve been a nurse.  I’ve supervised schoolchildren to pay my way through university, had three beautiful daughters and two husbands (one of which I still have!).  I have two degrees, and I volunteer in my local wildlife centre and Cat Protection centre.  I can knit, I make cards (I even made my eldest daughter’s wedding stationery) and I have qualifications in some complementary therapies – and yet, my lizard brain tells me that I’ve really accomplished very little.  It still tells me that I’m not good enough.  It compares what I should have accomplished with what I’ve actually accomplished – and it appears that I fall short!

This is a common theme in my life – the theme of ‘not enough’.  I don’t earn enough, I don’t have enough, I’m not slim enough, I’m not pretty enough, I don’t call my daughters/sisters/parents often enough.  I don’t clean the house enough, I don’t cook healthy enough meals, I don’t do enough to stick within my housekeeping budget.  Basically, the message is that I’m not enough.

Now, much of the reading I have been doing recently has been about loving oneself and I have always questioned how you can love yourself when you don’t even like yourself much, but I’m realising that just being kind to yourself is a way of loving yourself.  Because loving doesn’t have to be that full-on, gushing, heart filling feeling that you get with your children or your partner.  It can be just acting in a kind manner – just like you would with anyone you meet.  When you act with compassion towards another person – opening a door for them because their hands are full, giving up your seat on the bus because the lady that just got on is pregnant or is struggling with a young child – you are acting in a loving way.  When your child finishes half way down the field in the race at school sports day, you don’t say, “well you didn’t come first so you’re not good enough”.  You say “well done you for doing your best”.  You say “99% in your maths test, fantastic!  You must have worked really hard!” not “what happened to the other 1%?”  (Unless, of course you’re my mother which I guess is where all this stems from).  You act in a kind and loving manner.

So, my aim has been to find ways in which I can act in a kind and loving manner towards myself, in the hope that this will develop into the self love which I believe I deserve.  And yesterday, I saw this in action.  It was a beautiful day here in Scotland – sunny and warm – so I decided to go outside and do some gardening.  I mowed the back lawn and trimmed the edges.  Cut back a couple of bushes that were encroaching on the path and cleared a small area of weeds (dandelions, mind you, that fight back!).  A couple of hours later with sweat dripping off my brow and a strained hamstring from stretching too much, I decided that I’d done enough, packed away my tools and went inside for a well earned cup of coffee.

Now, bear in mind that, while not huge, our garden is a bit bigger than a postage stamp and it generally gets weeded completely about once a year.  In addition, we allow our dandelions to flower and seed because the goldfinches like the tiny seeds – so you’ll have an idea of how many weeds there were – probably three full days of weeding’s worth.  And I did a couple of hours.  My lizard brain began to kick in.  “You’ve not done enough.”  “You should have stayed out longer.”  “Everyone else’s garden is neater than yours!”  But I managed to stop it before it took hold.  I was able to recognise that completely tidying the garden in one afternoon was an impossible task and was able to acknowledge my achievements.  The lawn was tidy with neat edges.  The path was clear enough to walk on and there was a small weed free patch just under the kitchen window.  Add that to the shopping, laundry, visit to the dentist and cleaning in the house that I had already done and it didn’t seem quite so much ‘not enough’.

I am aware that this is a small move forward, but it represents the culmination of much studying, reading and practicing towards self love, and it is a move forward – the beginning of a new habit of accepting myself and of being as kind to myself as I am to others.

At this juncture, I’d just like to say that having written the words ‘not enough’ so many times, the phrase appears to have lost it’s meaning!  Oh if only it were so in the real world!

This was originally posted as part of Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project at Sunshine on a Rainy Day on 23rd May 2012.

If you would like to know more about Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there!

You can also find out more about Sandi Amorin here.