Category Archives: gratitude

13Sep/16

5 Habits for a Clear Mind – Step 3: Nourish Your Soul

 

To be happy you need to tune into your inner wisdom and nourish your Soul.

This is the most crucial Habit, because without this step you remain unconnected to your true self, and therefore lose your capacity for that strong, unmoveable inner joy, fulfilment and alignment.   Let me say this again: connecting, nurturing and strengthening your Soul Voice is your key to happiness. So when I said in part 1 of this series that ‘happiness is all in the mind’ I was only half right. It is in your mind and body and soul, interlinked in an unperceivable and magical way. Your Soul is the essence of life, the energy that makes you you. It is what makes you the unique and amazing individual that you are.

So how do you nourish your Soul Voice?   This is the million-dollar question and the answer isn’t the same for everyone. The lucky ones among us have a natural connection to their Soul Voice that has kept them on a congruent path for most of their life, or has led them to make changes throughout the course of their life that have brought them back to what their true inner selves’ needs and desires. But because this is not what our society teaches our children, most of us don’t learn how to do it. Our education system is focused on solid measurable matters, information and statistics. It deals with concrete facts not fuzzy concepts. It doesn’t concern itself with happiness or self-actualisation because it wasn’t designed for that. State education was only established to teach our children to become workers and economic contributors to society, not to become fully expressed – and happy – human beings.

Over the last few years the tide has been slowing turning, as research is increasingly showing that happiness and self expression actually creates better workers and higher productivity. As a result there is more motivation from government and businesses to investigate the ‘softer’ side of education and self-development.

But as parents we want to be able to provide our children with all the knowledge, experience, and skills to be happy. We don’t want them just to get a secure job and have enough social skills to get through life, keep healthy and provide us with grandchildren. We want them to be happy. Deeply, joyfully happy and in love with their life. We long for them to be happier than us. We know – now we are over 30 and have experienced the (sometimes bitter) teachings of life – that meaning is important. We may not know what the meaning of life is (except after that 3rd glass of wine…) but we know that our journey towards it, attaining it, losing it again, living it is the most important journey of life.   We know that the mind-numbing mundane, following the herd, doing what everyone else is doing is the death of our Soul, and therefore the death of us.   So we long for our children to have that joy and happiness that we know is possible, but that we weren’t taught how to value or create. We know we can give them a better start than we had, simply because we’ve been lucky enough to live in an era in which learning and self-development, and self-expression is possible, and even starting to flourish.

But how do we teach them if we are still learning ourselves?   By being ourselves in all our flaws, but daring greatly and falling and getting up again and trying again. We learn what works for us, and we teach our children what we know by modelling and talking and teaching when and how we can. In our own unique way.

So back to my original question, before I got sidetracked by the meaning of life! How do you connect and nourish your inner Soul Voice?

You experiment.   You become a scientist, an artist, a child playing and measuring and experimenting with different activities and habits to work out which ones nourish your particular individually amazing soul.

Most importantly, the activities should light you up, recharge you, bring you joy or a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. They are usually pleasurable, but not purely in a hedonistically way (i.e. all day, every day, lacking meaning and leaving you empty). They can be difficult and not enjoyable at the time – think struggling with the structure of a novel for days, weeks or months, and then it all coming together and working like a dream. It wasn’t all fun and happiness, but the daily pursuit of a meaningful goal can be extremely nourishing.

How do you know you are nourishing your soul? You notice when you feel peace, joy, expansiveness, connection to self & others, connection to things or causes bigger than yourself, excitement, a deep inner knowing, contentment, lightness, fulfilment.

Does nature nourish your soul?

Does nature nourish your soul?

While we are all so very different, there are still some commonalities that can help us identify activities that might nourish our Soul. Look for activities that get you into flow, into creativity, into your body, and into nature. When I first started trying to connect with and nourish my Soul I realised that many of the things that worked could be described as ‘primal’. For example: music, singing and dancing, walking, being in nature, hugging my child, quiet, stillness and meditation, connecting with others.

Personally, I’m still learning how to nourish my soul and find my inner joy. I know that writing, walking, being in nature, seeing the sea all nourish me. I know the right kind of music (I’m listening to it now, as I write) raises me up and makes my soul soar high full of love and joy and possibilities.   I know that happy, light-hearted family moments fill me with love and recharge my soul. I know when I act with integrity – especially with regard to parenting my children –  it has a strong drip, drip effect of nourishing my soul. Concentration and challenge – what is often called flow – is nourishing for our heart, mind and soul. But what creates challenge, focus and concentration for one person does not for another. Be it equations, silverwork, writing, painting, working with a patient in clinic, gardening, problem solving ….something will work for you. For me, I love writing. Sometimes it’s hard for me, and I don’t want to sit at my computer when there are so many books tempting me with their words and secrets, but when I start and I am challenged by what to write next and have to concentrate on developing a structure that will work, deciding what to include, delete and how to address my audience, I am in flow and I feel connected to myself and to the readers that may read my work. I am nourished. My soul has been at work, it has been nurtured and spoken to, and listened to. It brings a certain kind of peace.

This peace and fulfilment can last for quite a while, or it can be punctured in a second when the kids start arguing. So don’t think I float around in a cloud all day, instead understand that that deep nourishing of my Soul recharges my physical, emotional and spiritual batteries and strengthens my resilience. By nourishing my Soul I have what I call a clearer and stronger Inner Guidance System which helps me navigate through my life. Whether that is simply guiding me with wisdom on what path to take professionally or listening to my intuition when comforting an angry or sad child, I think and act more in line with my values and who I am when my Soul is nourished. I can hear it more clearly over the shouts of my Ego Voice and know that it has the answers I need.

My challenge to you is to start experimenting with nourishing your own Soul.  Do the things that bring your joy, peace and fulfilment. Prioritise them, create habits around them.  Recharge your batteries, strengthen the connections you have with your Soul, with your inner being. Listen to the inner wisdom that this deeper connection allows you to access it and follow it’s advice and guidance rather than the fearful voice of your Ego.

Please let me know in the comments what activities nourish your Soul. What lights you up and brings you joy?  Until next time,

Thea

xxxxxxx

 

There is Nothing Wrong with You!

What’s Being Said in Your Head?

5 Steps to Inner Joy

26Jan/16

5 Ways to Connect to Your Inner Joy

Happiness-raspberry-1

 

I am happy.

My heart is light and full of joy. Everything around me is beautiful and my life feels truly blessed. I feel deeply connected to my true self, to the people around me, to nature and to the Universe (whatever that means).

As my previous blogs show, this is not always the case.  To be brutally honest, it was not often the case over most of my life.  Yes, of course I had many happy moments, joyful days, blissful times – but rarely were they just there for no particular reason. You know, just there happening during a normal day, with nothing specific to trigger them except an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being alive in this moment; for this life that I’m blessed with. The joyful moments usually happened because I felt I had ‘achieved’ something. This joy for nothing particular is not normal to me.

This year though, I’m experiencing this lovely, loving state much more easily.  It’s like I can take a deep breath and step into it, like stepping into a sunbeam streaming through the window.  This ‘skill’, ‘ability’, ‘gift’, ‘talent’ whatever it is, seems like it has just appeared overnight, like a present bestowed on a small child after she spent a year wishing to the stars for it.  It feels wondrous, miraculous yet also so normal and easy.   A small voice in my head is asking: ‘Why haven’t I been able to do this before?

But it didn’t just happen.  It has come from a life of striving, of searching for my own truth.  It’s something I’ve been working on for years and years and years.  My diaries when I was 13 were full of soul searching, and have been ever since. This soul searching has brought me to my knees several times when I’ve been in dark pits of despair because I knew that there was this truth out there for me to reach, but I just didn’t know how to. All this soul-searching was eventually soul-destroying.

Because when it comes down to it that’s what I’ve been searching for. My soul. My truth. Myself. Me. The ‘true’ me.

And I could never give up.  I could never settle for a ‘normal’ life, and do what was expected. I had to keep searching for my soul because it was dropping clues that I needed to live life and love life my way, that I should follow this dream forever.

However, because my ego has been in charge all of my life, I never befriended my soul.   I kept searching and longing to find it inside me, but I could never really get it to stay around long enough to recognise it. My ego would always come in threatening this new friendship and persuading that this sparkly new life was too dangerous. So although I occasionally I got to dance with my soul, my ego always put it back in a cage where it was protected by layers of armour and heavy chains.

Just in case.

Just in case it got out and people would see it.

Now, though it seems like I have found it.  We have yet to get to know each other well, but we are friends.  What have I done differently to finally be reunited with my soul?  (Wow! – it feels a bit weird to write that. A bit woo woo. But what else do you call that inner part of you that is really you, untainted by the demands of ego?)   Over the last 6 months I have done 5 things that have helped me to reconnect to my inner self.  I didn’t know at the time that these were the answer, rather I knew that it was a case of ‘I’ve tried everything else, this is really my only choice now.

Here’s what I did.

I Let Go

I finally let go of who I thought I should be. This shadow self who has been with me for as long as I can remember. I had to say goodbye and release this wonderful woman who has been almost in my grasp for over 30 years. I fought it til the end, resisting, resisting, resisting but deep inside (my soul) knew it was the right time. So I took off my armour and showed my naked self to the world.  No, I don’t have a business. No, I’m not ‘doing’ anything at the moment’ (apart from the not-so-small job of looking after 3 children), ‘No, I’m not sure what I’m going to do‘  ‘I’m a mum‘. This is me and I am proud of myself. This is me, and I’m OK.

I had to admit to the world that this was me. I am a mum and a wife. And that is all.

Sounds simple doesn’t it, but it was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  And I am very proud of myself for doing  it.  Finally. About bloody time, Thea!

 

I Started REALLY Writing.

I have been writing on and off since I was 13.   Getting things out onto paper really helps me make a sense of my world.  It’s the way I express myself.  I’m an introvert who thinks a lot and words are my love, my drug, my medicine, my enduring pleasure.

Last September on my birthday I decided to start writing everyday.   I chose to write Morning Pages, as recommended by my coach Joanna Martin and by legendary writer Julia Cameron. And boy did it open me up!  That 30-60 minutes everyday grounded me and showed me to myself as nothing has ever done before.  I felt connected to myself and the peace (though often fleeting) that came with is was manna from heaven.  Essentially it woke me up.

 

I Used my Mindfulness Skills

Did I mention that letting go of who I thought I was meant to be was hard?  Yes? It was.  Because my ego came out to play big time since this shadow self was it’s biggest weapon, and it definitely didn’t want to say goodbye to it.  Any time it felt threatened it just had to wheel out this ‘perfect Thea’ and off I’d go into self-hatred and Should Land.  So I battled my ego with awareness and kindness.  I allowed myself to be scared and imperfect and to be me, by showing myself compassion and completely leaving judgement outside the door. Judgement has been my constant companion, like, forever, so I was quite happy to see the back of him. I never judge other people, so why did I give myself such a hard time?

Being mindful of what I was feeling, and why these feelings and thoughts came up, while also being non-judgemental and compassionate is the core of mindfulness. I used these skills to get me through the resistance, vulnerability and nakedness of freeing my true self from it’s heavy armour.

 

I Got Outside in Nature with Music

I chose to be more active this year.  I stay in my house too much so I made myself go outside. I take my headphones and music and go walk outside.  It’s been nothing short of amazing for me.  It loads me up with inspiration and connects me to the world, to Mother Nature, even the Universe.   It has made me feel like I’m not alone, but instead have a gournded link to the earth through my footsteps, but also a strong link of light up into the trees, the sky and whatever energies are beyond.  This is where I feel like I can channel joy and energy and motivation. This is where I feel it.  It’s becoming like a temple for me. I haven’t been out today and I’m getting ‘itchy feet’ so to speak.

 

I Said Thank-You, Thank-You, Thank-You

I have long believed that Gratitude is the foundation of happiness, because happiness cannot be accessed without it. (I am giving it a capital G on purpose!) Writing gratitude journals is a great habit to have because it does get you in the habit of noticing what you are grateful for each day. But this year I’ve stepped things up a little.  I’ve said Thank You out loud when good things happen.  I’ve danced around the kitchen table with my arms in the air saying Thank You to what ever is ‘out there’ (if anything at all) for providing me with such wonderful things, feelings, experiences and people. I have smiled and laughed with gratitude and I have been humbled by it too, especially when it comes from my children.  I lie in bed at the end of the day saying Thank You to whoever and whatever is listening.

 

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Written: In my office in the garden with a hot water bottle warming my feet, listening to Muse: Aftermath, The Globalist, Drones and Follow Me on repeat.

 

 

13Oct/15

Hello!

The Lilypa

 

It’s always difficult to know what to say in the first blogpost.  I’ve introduced myself (and my ego) in the About section. I’ll just briefly say that this is a blog about me discovering myself, unpeeling the layers of armour, insecurities, fears and beliefs that I’ve collected through my 43 years of life, so I can be who I am, rather than trying to be someone I think I should be.

Sometimes it will just be musings about me and my life.  Sometimes I’ll be talking specifically about my ego.  I’m going to feel self-indulgent writing this – useless navel gazing some people would say – but I know that it’s a deep need inside me to not only understand myself and the world, but to share what I learn with others who are also on the self-knowledge journey towards peace and happiness.

I’d love you to join me.

Thanks,

Thea

16Jan/13

A Day in the Life of an Emotional Mum

reward chart

Zach still responds to reward charts…thankfully!

I’m feeling low. Tired and battle weary. And it is only 9.30am. Zach was up at 4.45 this morning and refused to go back to bed. I didn’t have the strength to fight him so since Chris was getting up anyway (I know – it’s crazy) I said he could sleep on Chris’ side IF he didn’t fidget. If he fidgets he goes back to his own bed. It’s been a long time since he has come into our bed during the night and so I was expecting some wriggling and chatting ending with me battling to take him to bed. I felt that I was just postponing the inevitable.

Surprisingly however, he stayed as still as a person can do. I think he moved twice until he got up at 7.19. He always tells me the exact time he wakes up. If I was taking the positive from the situation I could focus on how his self control has improved. When he got up the second thing he said to me when he came downstairs was ‘Mum, I tried my best and stayed very still.’ I praised him enthusiatically and said I was really impressed. This is progress, but I know it is only one side of his personality at the moment.

At breakfast – when he was showing signs of resuming his fight against the world – I told him that it was time for things to change. I said that he knows now that we love him, and that we still love him when he is naughty, or when we are telling him off, or when he hates us. He knows we love him whatever. [We’ve been telling him this for 6 weeks or so now so a lot of it has gone in. See previous post for more on this.] Now it’s time to stop fighting us. He has to do as he is told. I’ve done a chart for him to get ticks whenever he does as he’s told, when he accepts me saying ‘no’, and whenever he realises he’ s fighting us or pushing us away and stops doing it. It’s a big ask but the prize is going swimming with Daddy and/or using Dad’s telescope – if we can find it in the garage. I also told him that I would be making another chart for black marks. Whenever he doesn’t do as he’s told, or fights us, he will get a black mark. These will add up to him losing privileges like his ipod, TV, going to bed, pudding, treats doing activities with Chris at the weekend. I will decide what these are when I am calm (hopefully!!).  Part of me knows this will work for a while and then he will slip back into not caring, and hating us all. But the more optimistic part of me knows that I have to keep going. I have to keep the faith, even though it’s so hard to fight every day with someone you love.  I try not to fight but I have to provide the boundaries and he keeps choosing to fight them. This week I feel emotionally exhausted. I have no idea whether I am doing the right thing.

In the car on the way to school Jas chose the gratitude topic, and she said ‘Think of 4 things we love about Zach.’ Very intuitive of her, I thought. Even Harvey joined in the spirit of the exercise despite being very annoyed with Zach and his behaviour at the moment. I was very proud of both of them.

Harvey:  OK, let me see…mmmm…I love Zach because he’s really great to play with.

Zach: [a big smile on his face.]  I was hoping you would say that!

I think it helped. As I said goodbye to Zach at school I told him he had earned 2 ticks that morning for getting dressed when I asked him and for getting into the car nicely. He seemed proud so I said: ‘ Does your heart feel better when you are not fighting us?’ He said yes.

Now, back home, I am noticing that I need to be kind to myself today.  I need to build up my energy and resilience so I can cope with round 2 at pick up time.   It makes me sad that I find it all so emotional, and that it knocks me off-centre so much.  I’m sure that a lot of families experience similar problems everyday, and just get on with it without so much angst and emotional upheaval.  But I have to accept that this is who I am. This is how my brain has learnt to deal with emotions.  The positive is that I am gradually learning to be less emotionally involved and more calm in the difficult moments. So today I’m not going to beat myself up for allowing it all to wear me down.   I’m going to keep going, take things slowly and be kind to myself.

I feel low, tired and battle weary, but that’s ok. If I’m kind to myself, that’s ok.