How to ‘demonstrate’ effectively …

I understand there is to be a “Day of Rage” on Wednesday – a demonstration against austerity; Government wrong-doings leading to the tragedy of Grenfell Tower; terrorism on our streets and I guess any other issues people are generally unhappy about.

Forgive me for thinking this, but … is ‘rage’ really the answer? Is this really how we want to demonstrate?

I get this is our right – we’re allowed to peacefully show our feelings in a mass congregation. But, didn’t the communities in all these tragedies exercise this with their love, compassion and understanding for their fellow humans? Grenfell Tower: bags and bags of clothes, food, bedding and fundraising, within hours, given – wasn’t this ‘demonstration’ of kindness more profound and carry more impact and significance than a mass congregation of protest?

Terrorism on our streets: off-duty police, doctors, nurses – anyone who had a heart – they didn’t run – they helped. They put aside personal risk and ‘demonstrated’ compassion for their fellow men and women.

I know our politicians don’t always get things right – whatever your political viewpoint, none of them are perfect. As a nation, we are in a pretty crabby state of flux. And no, we might not be happy about it.

But my point is – irrespective of the politics … “rage” is not the answer.

People. Use your voices for something more positive and constructive and let’s see if that can make the difference this country needs. Demonstrate with love, peace and compassion and make that our new way of living.

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I hate depression

Why is it, you can go for several days feeling brilliant – no cares at all, all going well and then one day, “BOOM” – a day like today, for no obvious reason at all, everything just feels like shit.

“Shockingly Shit” is how I normally phrase it. A day where I literally just want to hide away and not communicate with the world at all. A day where everything is hard – all I see is mess around me. I’m not motivated. Lethargy prevails. All decisions, ANY decision is hard. Thought processes all jumbled. A feeling so low that not even the tears will appear (or maybe that’s the sertraline preventing me from crying ….?)

I recently read that to clear your head of ‘noise’ it was a good plan to get thoughts down in writing. And I thought that’s what I’d been doing, with this blog. But actually, I’ve realised I’ve ‘sanitised’ my entries, for fear of being judged in some way. Maybe not knowing who I want to share with (not knowing my audience).

Using the posts as some sort of social media where “everything’s good”. Well today, it’s not good. The black cloud (or ‘black dog’) has got me, and the only thing I felt motivated to do, was convey and express in words – here.

Yes, I’m a statistic of one woman dealing with depression. Have been for several years and today the bastard got the better of me.

Kx365 Challenge – the last 10 days!

Yes, yes …. I’ve not been good at posting, however, I have continued to stick with keeping active as my little gallery below shows:

The weekend was a bit tricky as I had a stinking cold and we were in London to see a show, so my ‘activity’ is centred on the fact we did a lot of walking throughout the day, rather than one specific workout.

January has been an interesting project of a month, for which I’m planning to post separately … watch this space!

So, for Kx365 Challenge – one month down, 11 months to go!!!

 

Being Brave

braveWhat does it mean to ‘be brave‘? There are many professions in which it takes a brave person to carry out their tasks – a fireman for example, risking their life to save another person. The armed forces who protect our nation when in conflict – or even braver when they protect the nation of another country with no direct impact on our own lives.It’s a selfless act, which yes, they are getting paid for, but ultimately putting their own lives on the line for the sake of someone else.

For most of us, the extent of our bravery is probably linked to overcoming a personal challenge or maybe a throw-away statement to our children as a means of encouragement. You know, “you know you can do it – be brave”, or “ah, you fell over? Come on, be a brave boy.”

But then we grow up and some forms of bravery take on a whole new meaning. Taking a bold step in a new direction takes bravery. Confronting one’s own feelings – bravery. Telling someone the truth – bravery.

And it does seem to be harder when we’re adults. Because we recognise the consequences of our so-called bravery, because our bravery is actionable and carries an impact on our lives and potentially the lives of others.

Because being brave means to be active, what comes first is impetus – and that’s ‘courage’. The definition of being brave is:

<adjective> ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

Fortunately, we very rarely have to face or endure danger, but our emotional pain can be very real. Being brave to make important decisions in life, be it linked to our families, our work or our relationships, takes courage. And then this is where being brave becomes an accountability:

<noun> endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behaviour) without showing fear

courageSo, why write a post about bravery? I have friends who are the brink of making some important decisions about the future of their personal relationships. The futures they’d once envisaged are a little cloudy. They can’t carry on in the same way and need to make changes. They see themselves as the person who has to make that change and they know there is a bumpy road ahead. They are developing the courage to be brave and make the next step.

And I feel for them, I really do. Their road is going to be a lonely one. They are going to have to stand alone in their actions. People will get hurt before they get better. Wouldn’t it be perfect if their courage could come in the form of somebody just being there, to hold their hand? To make them feel they are not alone, even though what they are doing is for themselves? To sit quietly in the background whilst they have these difficult discussions.

I know real life isn’t like that and the best we can do as friends is to be there, albeit before or after the event. But maybe we can also serve as the little bit of courage – like the definition says:

<noun> strength in the face of pain or grief

I want my friends to know, that I think they are being incredibly brave and that I will help them with the courage to face their future – be the invisible hand-holder when the time comes.

Kx365 Day 19/20

img_3995It’s just occurred to me, I think I’ve miscalculated the number of days I’ve been doing this challenge!! I should be on Day 20 (given that it’s the 20th Jan …. why am I saying Day 19??)

Anyways, I know I’ve done something every day – this must just be me having a ‘senile moment’!

Good walk today – 6k! Again, it was a crisp, cold afternoon, so a fast walk with some good arm swinging!

 

Kx365 Days 16-18

My view on a crisp, cold Thursday morning.
My view on a crisp, cold Thursday morning.

It’s been a cold, cold week! And I’ve not really felt much like running!!! But, sticking to my plan, and adding a little self-motivation, I have managed to get out and complete my daily activity each day:

Happiness

As I’ve mentioned previously, in this year of ‘self-improvement’ I hope to also find happiness.

‘Happiness’ is a concept I’ve struggled with for quite some time now. Years probably. In all honesty, it doesn’t come easily to me. I have moments where I’m ‘happy’ but I feel happiness is something more than moments – I’m looking for contentment and sustained joy in the life I am living.

busy-wordcloudLife seems to be so busy for everyone that it focussing on your own emotional needs can often be put on the back-burner. And when you have many roles to fulfil in life – wife, mother, daughter, employee, housekeeper, friend, relative, counsellor¬† …. it’s not surprising that your own happiness becomes less of a priority.

And this is very much the case for me. I have tried to find (what have ended up being short term) solutions to creating a happy life, but to be honest, all that has left me is a) in debt b) having too much ‘stuff’ c) drinking too much wine and d) becoming overweight.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a fantastic husband and two gorgeously brilliant and talented children, who all bring joy to my life, however, a piece of the happiness puzzle is still missing.

Today I watched a brilliant TED talk by Kristi Ling and her opening statements resonated deeply with my own experiences. Not only did she start in the same place as I am now, but the way she moved forward made me realise the decisions I’m taking are the right ones.

As Kristi says, Happiness is an active pursuit – you don’t just ‘find happiness‘. You have to be the change and make conscious decisions about how you are going to make yourself happy.

We see these statements bandied around Pinterest and Facebook all the time don’t we. Things like “be the change you want to be” and “stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right”. And the statements in themselves are right – be active about the situation and it will bring about change – which could lead to happiness.

So my ‘active’ pursuits to happiness include:

  • taking an art class to unleash my creativity without guilt
  • exercising more to improve my shape and clear my head
  • joined Weight Watchers to shift the extra weight gained over the last few years and see myself in a more positive way

The long term goal of peace and continued contentment, I hope, will follow.

Finally (for this post!) we learn from our children don’t we? Between starting and finishing this post, my Daughter had her own levels of happiness tested at a coaching session. Having been deeply unsatisfied with her training over the last few weeks, tonight it finally got to her and she simply couldn’t do it. My normal response to such a situation would be to usher her back out on court and tell her to get on with it. But seeing as I’m investing so much time in the pursuit of my own happiness, how could I impose this level of unhappiness on my own child?

I’m sure I will have more to say on this subject, but I think maybe this will do for now!

“I’m choosing happiness, over suffering. I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

 

The day I started art class …

2017 is my year for ‘self improvement’. Trying to find new, fulfilling things to do. Maybe meet some people. Bring a little happiness (or even spread a little happiness – who knows!)

I’ve signed up for art class, or ‘portraiture’ to be more precise. And today was the first of a 12 week course. If I’m honest, I was a little apprehensive about actually going. Although I’d booked onto it back in December, now that it was here, I started to make those naggy, internal little excuses about why I shouldn’t go – you know, how 2 hours on a Wednesday was going to seriously eat into my busy week of not doing very much ... that sort of thing.

However, I needed to remind myself of the reasons why I’d booked the course. BECAUSE I DID need that ‘fixed’ weekly appointment, something to focus the rest of the week around. Because it was a creative course, being held locally, which gave me no real excuses not to attend. And because I have been inspired by my own daughter, who’s art skills have flourished since starting secondary school, and she’s given me encouragement to make a go of it.

Having turned up, I wasn’t sure what I was really expecting from the session, but I was quite excited when I saw the easels waiting in the room! I’ve never done anything like this before! It gave an air of possibility!

My fellow ‘students’ are more ‘senior’ to myself! To be expected for a mid-week, daytime course I guess. All nice enough though – all of us mixed abilities.

We had been told by our teacher, that our first few weeks will concentrate on ‘self portraits’ – hence the mirror on top of the easel. OK – good place to start. Drawing oneself should be straightforward – we should know what we look like! Picking up my pencil, I start to outline the shape of my face.

And here’s the thing …

img_3970
My first self portrait

It’s all about ‘looking’. You really have to concentrate on what you actually see and not what you want to see. Whilst I know what I look like and initially felt comfortable about drawing myself, the very act of focusing on my face became a revelation. Looking in that mirror, I realised I’m going to have to learn to look past ‘imperfections’ and see the shapes. I need to ignore the ‘flaws’ I’ve been covering up for the last 40 odd years, and concentrate on shadows, lines and space. I need to see myself as an object.

And that’s actually quite hard! Because we are not objects. Those ‘flaws’ are a result of the emotional being inside you. They are a sign of how you’ve lived your life. I tell you – if you have a negative body image, this might actually be the sort of course to help get over yourself!

I don’t want to admit to the imperfections of my face – the lines around my eyes, the dark shadows where the skin folds a little, the frown lines from years of worry, the skin tags from birth or the slightly weary look within the eyes. But they are ‘me’ and there they were – drawn in charcoal, highlighted with shadowing. My first self portrait.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Am I going back. Yes. Did I learn anything? Yes. Am I going to get better at it – let’s hope so!!!

 

Kx365 Day 10 – 15

It certainly looks like I haven’t been keeping up with the Kx365 Challenge, doesn’t it?! No posts on progress for the last few days … mmmmm.

Not true though! Even on days when I didn’t fancy it much, I stuck with keeping active everyday. Whilst I can’t report on specifics of each day, the progress is evident from the stats below:

It’s not been a bad few days really. Couple of the runs I completed, were in the pouring rain! And it’s been quite mild.

So tomorrow – it’s off to Weight Watchers. Part of my ‘self-improvement’ and ‘happiness’ drives! Not expecting miracles, but the aim is to feel good on the beach in the summer!