Contrast

Today, I feel better.  Having been laid low with a flu type bug for a few days, it was a relief to wake up this morning and know that I was over the worst.  What an amazing machine our body truly is.  Sensing that it was under attack, it immediately dispatched millions of troops to take out the virus.  They saw to it that my temperature rose high enough to knock out the toughest of bugs and sent antibodies marching to every corner of my body fighting a battle inside me that they were determined to win – and all this as I slept on moaning about my aching limbs and my tickly cough!  And whilst all this was going on, my heart was still beating without any effort on my part and my lungs were still taking in oxygen – and really and truly, although I felt pretty ropey for a couple of days, it was all good.

 

Whilst I am certainly not advocating that we all get sick, it has made me truly appreciate how lucky we are to be healthy most of the time.  I am still not back to full fitness, and yet today, as the fog starts to lift, I feel invincible.  I felt that I looked around at my world this morning with renewed clarity and focus.  Life simply is for living and sometimes it takes a little contrast to make us appreciate the highs.

 

So today, filled with a true sense of purpose, I am stepping out again into the World and enjoying every moment.

 

Today, I refuse to face my reality – instead, I choose to create my reality.

 

Reluctant Angel

There is a photo doing the rounds at the moment on social media which shows an exasperated guardian angel with her head in her hands and the caption reads something like, “This is what my guardian angel must feel like some days.” This got me to thinking what it would be like if our guardian angels possessed human characteristics.

I feel sure that my own guardian angel would be tearing her hair out. I always begin the day well enough. Despite my usual reluctance to get out of bed, once I am showered and I´ve had a cuppa, I am almost human and I always ensure that I have thirty minutes in which to meditate, feel grateful and visualize before I go to work. At this stage my guardian angel must be whoop whooping for joy at my impressive start and my good intentions….but then I come down off the roof garden where I do my meditation to find that the house is in chaos, my little one is standing in the living room naked with one shoe on, transfixed by something on his ipad and my oldest one hasn´t even had his cornflakes yet and if we don´t leave in the next nanosecond, I will be late for work yet again. My zen-like calm of only ten seconds ago is shattered as I shout like a banshee at my surprised kids and whip round the house like a tornado picking up socks from the sofa and collecting the piece of jam toast which is hanging precariously from the net curtain. My poor guardian angel at this stage has her head in her hands. I feel her disappointment at the sudden change in my temperament and I focus on my breathing for a few seconds – (and in – one, two, three; and out – one, two, three). My inner peace is almost restored and the journey to work is uneventful.

I arrive at work only a few minutes late and nobody has really noticed my absence. So far, so good. I shrug one arm out of my coat; the telephone rings and a customer arrives at my desk simultaneously. With coat half on and half off, I pick up the phone holding it under the crook in my neck. The customer standing before me announces they are in a rush but wants to pay for three separate items and they only have a 100€ note. Of course, having cashed up last night, there is not a cent of change in the building. Still with my coat dragging on the floor and the phone nestled under my neck, I go in search of change. My poor angel at this stage is jumping up and down on my shoulder ordering me to find my inner serenity. I decide to try for a few more deep breaths but in my haste, it sounds more like hyperventilating. (and in – one, two, three; and out – one, two, three) Needless to say, I finally manage to remove my coat, find some change and sort out the phone call and it all gets done in perfect timing. I won´t bore you with the rest of my working day but suffice to say it continues in a similar vein for the entire day and I am left wondering what on earth has been achieved by the end of it.

Nevertheless, despite my somewhat wobbly start, because I spent time visualizing my perfect life first thing in the morning, my angel decides to organise a few synchronicities for me that only a fool would miss. She sends me a customer who, unbeknown to me, is a website designer and online marketer who can help me with my own website. As I am busy when he comes in the door, I talk to him very briefly and by the time he leaves my office, I haven´t even discovered that he is a web designer. My guardian angel shakes her head in disbelief. She gets back on the phone to ¨angel headquarters¨ and has to explain to them that I have completely missed a golden opportunity and can they please arrange for another happy coincidence at the earliest convenience. There is a lot of general tutting at angel HQ but they agree to arrange a second possibility for me.

My angel, being the very charitable and non-judgmental person that she is, decides that, even though there have been a few “lapses” in my positivity during the busy working day, she will send me some signs to cheer me up and help me to understand that she has my back. As I walk out to my car, a beautiful flurry of butterflies swoops majestically in front of me to remind me that my angels are near. However, my angel didn´t take into account that my youngest boy is petrified of bugs. The butterflies dance, daintily in front of us with the grace of – well – a butterfly. My near hysterical son flaps his arms about like a windmill and the bewildered butterflies decide to make a hasty retreat whilst they still can. My angel at this stage is in despair.

At the end of a busy day, I lay back in a hot tub of bubbles surrounded by scented candles and contemplate my day and my successes. I am blissfully unaware of how hard my angel has worked to organise my day. But despite my lack of appreciation for all her efforts she remains determined to surprise me with yet more messages and synchronicities for tomorrow. She gets back on the blower to “Angel Central” to see what can be arranged for a hopeless case at such short notice.

So I would like to take this opportunity to say to my angel, “Thank you for being with me even when I am not with you. Being human can be a little challenging from time to time but that does not mean that I don´t appreciate all the effort you put in on my behalf, and in those moments of clarity when you and I are one, during meditation and at other moments throughout the day, we both know that this journey we both embarked upon together is well worth it with all of its ups and downs.” Thank you my blessèd angel xx

SIGNS OF ALIGNMENT

Working in a small, community school brings many benefits. Not only do I get to work with an incredible group of young people and teachers who demonstrate to me every day that I should count my blessings and live life to the full, but also I am privileged to enjoy extended holidays with my children and as a single mum, those holidays are a godsend. So I was extremely fortunate to have two and a half weeks off work to ´contemplate my navel´ and between Father Christmas visiting and New Year celebrations, I did just that. I took some time out to realign myself with my inner being. It was such a cleansing process and I would encourage everyone to spend a little time everyday reconnecting with the essence of who they are. Although I was lucky enough to be able to do this in a block of time, simply allocating half an hour every day would serve just the same purpose. You can allow this time to take whatever form works for you. There is no right or wrong way to approach this but I would just like to share what worked for me so that perhaps you can use this as a starting point for your own journey.

THE DAILY PROCESS
Mindfulness. Every morning set your alarm half an hour earlier than you need to and make sure you use the additional time for some true soul searching. Start with a ten minute meditation. You can find all sorts of suitable guided meditations online if you prefer to have some direction.

Working out the Kinks. Think about the last twenty four hours. Was there anything that happened that didn´t go well for you? Take some time to write this down in a journal and then make some notes on what this experience taught you. What was the hidden gift? How has it helped you move forward? How could you have handled it differently? What part did you play in it? Once you have honestly answered all of these questions, find a reason why you are grateful that this event or situation happened and write it down. You might have to work quite hard to find it but trust me, it will be there somewhere!

Appreciation. Now we are working on our gratitude, write down a list of five to ten things that you have been grateful for in the last twenty-four hours. Really open your heart and feel the appreciation for them. However bad a day you´ve had, there will always be something.

Set up your day in advance. Next think about what you have planned for your day. Break it down into sections if you can and play it out in your mind with the best outcomes possible. Anticipation like this can really help to nudge your fortunes in the right direction.

SIGNS OF ALIGNMENT
So how will you know that the processes you have put in place are working for you? Well, to begin with, you will start to feel wonderful. Over a period of time, the meditation will bring you an inner calm and serenity that others can only marvel at. The process of ironing out the kinks will enable you to face life´s challenges with renewed vigour. In fact, you may even look forward to having small problems to overcome so you can use the process on them. The appreciation will help you to see how far you have come and how good your life already is and setting your day up in advance will allow you to feel organized and in control and yet able to cope with any diversions that may occur.

But moreover, you may notice other little tell-tale signs as you go about your day which really emphasise that you are “in the zone”!

Goosebumps and shivers. A definite sign that you are in touch with your inner being is when you feel the shivers of goosebumps running down your spine. This is a certain sign that you are in alignment and living life how it should be lived.

Number sequences. Ever glanced at your watch or the cooker clock or even the washing machine dial and wondered why they all say 11:11 or 12:34? This is a clear sign that you are spending more and more time feeling good about life. It is like someone from on high sending you a positive download giving you a very clear signal that you are on the right track. Recognise that you have seen a sign and celebrate it.

Nature. Have you ever noticed when animals play? When I came out of my meditation the other morning and glanced up at the sky, three birds were literally dancing in front of my eyes. It was clear that they were flying just for the joy of the experience and for no other reason and it felt like their flight at that moment was just for my benefit. On the very same day, a squirrel, was perching in the tree in our garden devouring a pine cone. When he saw my son and I, he cocked his head on one side as if in greeting and continued to eat his fir cone nonchalantly but most definitely aware of our presence. So watch for the creatures of our world and how they interact with you when you are feeling good about life. This is a definite sign of alignment and clarity.

Synchronicities. Once you reach a point where you feel you can control your mood most of the time, you will start to notice extraordinary synchronicities. The right people seem to just magically appear at exactly the right moment. Events just happen one after another that lead you to the perfect outcome or solution. It is almost as if a path lights up for you and shows you the way.

CELEBRATE
Whenever you find yourself lucky enough to recognise a sign, make sure you stop for a few moments to truly acknowledge that it is in fact a sign and to appreciate how the universe is watching your back. Make sure you celebrate every little sign and stop to say thank you for its appearance in your life. Write your successes down in your journal so on those occasional bad days when a seed of doubt creeps in, you can read through all of your successes to show yourself that life is working out for you.

Life is supposed to be happy and with just a little preparation and forward planning it will unfold naturally in front of your eyes. You don’t have to use my processes to align yourself with your inner being. Just go with whatever works for you and start to live your life with purpose and joy.

New Years Resolutions – Value your Self Worth

Today marks the final day in the Spanish Christmas holiday calendar. Not content with eating too much on Christmas Day and drinking too much on New Year´s Eve, much of Europe has one final celebration up its sleeve: the Epiphany when the Reyes Magos finally arrived to pay homage to the baby Jesus. Although the Brits do not traditionally celebrate this day, as an ex pat, it would be churlish not to get involved! So as I sit here letting another big roast dinner digest, it gives me time to reflect on the Christmas period – particularly the tradition of making New Year´s Resolutions. So time for a little honesty.

• Did you make any New Year´s Resolutions?
• Six days later, have you stuck with them?
• If you haven´t, what do you think has gone wrong?

Of course, some big, life changing resolutions are really worth keeping: quitting smoking, going on a diet when you are overweight, and all resolutions are made with the very best of intentions but if you have fallen off the wagon, then it is decision time. Either:

A. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, get back on the horse with strengthened resolve and determination.
OR
B. Accept that you are good enough just as you are.

Despite the appearances of this blog post today, I am a huge fan of self improvement and New Year´s Resolutions and set my goals, not only on New Year´s Day, but also at other strategic points throughout the Year. But today’s post is about getting your mojo back and realizing that you are good enough just as you are. Here is a little excerpt from my book, “The Mother Tree,” which deals with the importance of self love and respect.

Love for Yourself
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you like the person that stares back at you? Love is unconditional and that includes love for yourself. Before you can truly respect yourself then you have nothing to give to another and therefore it is imperative that you learn to fall in love with you. Only then, will you be able to see how important your role is on this planet and how you are worthy of giving and receiving love. Loving yourself is all about changing your beliefs and whilst this may seem difficult, beliefs are only thoughts that you have kept on thinking over and over again until they feel like they are true. We are brought up to believe that putting ourselves first is selfish, but on the contrary, we are of no use to others unless we value ourselves and feel worthy. This does not mean you have to be arrogant but simply that you have a quiet confidence in your value to this life that comes across in your demeanour. One of the best ways to feel self-love is to make peace with where you are. Accept that life is perfect right from where you stand and that you are on a perpetual journey which will never really be finished. This is what you came for and if you embrace it, you will find that you can truly love yourself.

There is no rule book for humans that says that you should be or act in a certain way, and the real joy of life is celebrating the differences between us. That´s what makes the world go round and by seeing the diversity in people and circumstances, helps us to choose what is right for us. This establishes our own leaping off point, so learn to accept yourself just as you are whilst also accepting others. Try not to worry about other peoples´ opinions of you. What other people think is a reflection of themselves and not of you. You should stay out of their business without judgment and expect the same courtesy from them. They are seeing you from their own perspective and you are never going to be able to please people all of the time. Don’t waste time trying to get everybody´s agreement on your opinion. Just enjoy the multiplicity of life and accept that you all are where you are, and where you are is perfect for you. Take a good look in the mirror at the magnificence that is you and be proud of how far you have come. You really are amazing and your presence in this life is more important than you can ever begin to imagine.
Everybody on this planet is perfect. You don´t need to do anything to make yourself any more perfect. You were born that way. It´s a bit like going to a concert put on by an infant school. Some of the singing is out of tune, one little boy is waving madly to his mother in the audience, one little girl is crying and two of the children have forgotten the words. But that is the beauty of the performance. It is these imperfections that make it perfect. It is these small things that you will remember when you get home and discuss the performance. You will tell your child just how wonderful and special they really are and you will mean it. In the same way, you are just perfect the way you are. No fine tuning required.

So by all means, make those New Year’s Resolutions. Growth and development are part of life but do so knowing that everything is working out perfectly and you are right where you should be in every moment. Happy New Year.

CHRISTMAS AND WHAT IT CAN TEACH US ABOUT LIFE

As I write this blog, it is Boxing Day evening and the end of two days of intense celebrations. Starting on Christmas Eve, my children, having hung their stockings and put out a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph, had retired to bed where they squeezed their eyes tight and waited with expectant impatience. They rose early in the morning still full of eagerness and excitement to discover that ´he´ had been and the base of our tree was stacked up with masses of beautifully wrapped presents just waiting for the paper to be torn open. Despite my warnings to savour the moment and unwrap the presents slowly and carefully, my children dove in with reckless abandon and all the presents were revealed to them in under five minutes. The next few hours were spent assembling, adding batteries, reading instructions and generally enjoying their new spoils. It was, of course, a delightful day full of special memories but it got me thinking about the game of life and how Christmas is a reflection of it.

Many adults grumble about the early build up to Christmas and it is true that in many ways, the Christmas period starts directly after Halloween with adverts on the television and festive displays going up in many shops and stores. Children can be heard to remark that it is still ages away but nevertheless a small spark of early enthusiasm is ignited. On 1st December it really starts to pick up the pace with Christmas decorations going up in earnest, advent calendars and some early cards arriving in the post and thus the excitement starts to build. All focus is placed on one day on 25th December.

And this is really the point. What is better the build-up and excitement to what is promised or the day itself? In our house, as in many others, it is always a very special day but I can´t help thinking that the presents are more exciting when they are still wrapped up. The delight of not being quite sure what will be found inside: the strong possibility that it is something that was on the wish list but also a nugget of doubt that it could be something else – maybe even something better!

I am sure everyone reading this would have heard of the adage, “The joy is in the journey” but doesn´t this sound like the scenario above? If you believe in the law of attraction and have had some success with manifesting your desires, you will know that true desire is just like a child looking forward to Christmas. You have asked for what you want, you have focused energy towards it and you have handed it over to the universal manager to deliver it to you at the appropriate moment. You are not sure how it will present itself or whether it will show up in the way that you expect but you have let go of your expectations and you have faith that what you will receive will be exactly what you need at that moment.

So like a child opening their presents you will get that surge of excitement as you realise your dream has come true. You will feel appreciation that your goals have been fulfilled but following hot on its heels will be the realization that you never truly get it done and that you are already formulating another desire – something else that you wish to manifest.

Once you understand this basic principle of life you will feel more easy and at peace with the things that you want because there is always something, and the journey really does never end. So with this thought, it really could be Christmas every day.

Wishing you a very happy, abundant and peaceful New Year!

Stacking Up Serendipity – Six Techniques to Improve the Odds

Have you noticed how some people in this life seem to be born with more than their fair share of luck? Remember those kids at school? Good looking, fit, popular, intelligent, rich parents. It´s just not fair!

And so as a youngster, we start to form an opinion that nature deals us a set of cards and we have to simply do our best with what is dished out to us. This view is reinforced, as we mature, by well-meaning adults confirming that life just isn´t fair so, “you better get used to it”. By the time we are grown-ups ourselves, we have very deep seated beliefs about luck. Games of lottery and bingo, where we have the opportunity to win big, but the odds are stacked against us, play on our insecurities. But is there really any such thing as luck?

If, like me, you are a firm believer in the law of attraction, then you will know that we create our own reality and that there is no place for luck in this scenario. What we call luck is simply us focusing our attention in such a concentrated way that, to an outsider, it looks like the universe is falling at our feet without any effort on our part. So how can you get a slice of the action and tip the lucky scales in your favour?

1. Focus on People. Nobody in this world can get very far without the help and support of others. Studies have shown that people who are more gregarious and willing to strike up a conversation, tend to be luckier. Chatting to people, seemingly at random, can help to get the universal synchronicities flowing. Everybody is in our life for a reason, either as a pure gift or to teach us something; so start to look for the gifts that they offer. That dog walker that you have just walked past may have had an important piece of information for you about starting your new business. Don’t dismiss anybody as you never know what treasure they may unlock for you.
2. Focus on Solutions. There is no doubt about it, positive thinking definitely improves your chances in the luck lottery. You cannot simultaneously focus on a problem and find a solution. It can only be one or the other. If you are faced with a knotty problem, just be with it for a bit, meditate on it and tell yourself confidently that you have already found the answer and then just let it go. You can guarantee that the solution will miraculously come to you out of the blue when you are not even thinking about it.
3. Focus on Dreams. Don´t ever let anybody tell you that your dreams are too big. There is no such thing. Dreaming small or not dreaming at all is one sure fire way to guarantee that you will get nowhere fast. Dare to dream and do it often. Paint big pictures of your goals and aspirations in your mind. Make them large and colourful and allow yourself to enjoy the sensation of the dream as if it is already yours. Have so much confidence that you can achieve your dreams, that there is no need for a back- up plan or a plan B.
4. Focus on Action. Once you have focused your attention on your dreams, then take a step towards them and resolve to do something every day to make your dreams a reality. No doubt, sooner or later, if you stayed at home all the time and did nothing, your dream would eventually land in your lap but where is the fun in that? Taking action gives us a sense of purpose and is a demonstration of our intention to make it happen. In any case, the joy really is in the journey. There is no bigger sense of pride than seeing yourself moving closer to your dream and knowing that you did it all by yourself. So start now with something that will bring you closer to where you want to be and take a small step every day.
5. Focus on Appreciation. Don´t ever forget the people who helped you get where you wanted to go and don´t ever forget what your humble beginnings taught you about life. Look around you and appreciate everything that you have. Say a personal thank you to anyone who contributed to your success whatever their role. A grateful heart really does open doors for you.
6. Focus on Celebration. Whenever you have achieved something, then celebrate with all your heart. Jump in the air and cheer, dance a jig, crack open a bottle of champagne or take yourself off to a spa. Whatever activity you choose, take some time to really concentrate on what you have achieved.
7. Focus backwards. Now this might sound like a retrograde step but one of the downsides in constantly looking forwards is that there is always a gap between where you are and where you want to be. This is only natural. The human race is constantly changing and evolving and therefore there is a perpetual need to focus on the next achievement. There is nothing wrong with this at all but once in a while take a look back at where you have come from. Think about where you were this time last year and all of the achievements you have made.

So there you have it. Luck is just another word for focus. You have a blank canvas right in front of you and a box of palettes with every single colour in the universe with which to paint. The power to create your masterpiece is completely in your hands and we can´t wait to see it as it unfolds.

Good luck!

Peaceful Remembrances

Three Steps to Personal Peace

 The 11th of November is a poignant day as millions of people across the world take time out of their busy schedules to come together in silent prayer and remember those who have paid the heavy price of their lives to buy our freedom.  Looking around at the people gathered today makes us come to realise that 99% of humans on this planet regardless of religion, nationality, age or sex share the same vision for world peace.  It restores our faith in humanity to see so many with heads bowed silently praying for an end to current hostilities in the World.  It is even more sad, therefore, that, despite this common goal, the majority of us, simply don’t think this is achievable.  But why not if so many of us want it?  The answer lies in the fact that most of us feel powerless on our own.  We do not understand that by achieving our own personal peace, our behaviour will encourage others to do the same.  Our one voice will turn into two, and two into four and in just the same way as a stone in the pond has a far reaching ripple effect so our small acts of peace will be contagious.  So where do we start?

 

  1. By Allowing Everybody the Five Freedoms.

Freedom of Speech.  All of us have a right to our opinion and a right to be heard.  Even if you don’t agree with a person, listen to what they have to say and their reasons behind their point of view.  However extreme their opinion, you can normally find a small nugget of truth in what they are saying or find some common ground on which to build.

Freedom of Religion.  Almost all religions have an underlying message of peace at the heart of their scriptures and yet religion seems to be the cause of so much crisis in the world.  Accept that all people have the right to worship their own personal God in whatever way they see fit or to choose no religion at all.  This can be summed up with one single word.  “Namaste” (The God in me recognises the God in you).

Freedom from Want.  A roof over your head, food on the table, a basic education and access to healthcare.  It is so sad to think that something that many of us in the Western World take for granted is a luxury to a good chunk of the world population.

Freedom for the Environment.  We are so privileged to have the abundant natural resources of the world at our disposal and it therefore makes sense to treat mother Earth with the respect and kindness she deserves.  She is our life support system after all.

Freedom from Fear. Arguably the most important.  This can be achieved by implementation of the other four freedoms.  Nobody should be scared because they lack any of these basic rights.  These are our birthright and we can play a pivotal role in achieving these freedoms by empowering others to find theirs.

 

  1. Switch it Off.

When we look back to the turn of the century, it is remarkable how much we have progressed technologically.  But like a child with a box of matches, our ethical and moral evolution has yet to catch up.  Our children seem to be born with “intel inside”.  Hand them the latest gadget and they can navigate their way around it in seconds without any coaching or instruction manual.  We are all addicted to social media and we can find out about what is happening anywhere in the World almost before it has happened.  We have access to twenty-four hour news channels and, in addition, film and television producers battle with each other for our ratings using gratuitous violence to grab our attention.  The upshot is that our thinking is done for us and often is sensationalised by a cynical media machine.  Truthfully, there is a lot more good news happening in the World than bad but as this is less likely to keep us watching it goes unreported.

So switch it off.  Don’t allow it to seep into your consciousness every waking minute of every day.  Even if you can only manage to switch off for an hour, this will at least give you some respite from the constant barrage of doom and gloom.  In any case, pushing against negative things, tends to draw more of them towards you so don’t be anti-war but do go on a peace rally instead.  Don’t be against cancer but be pro health.  When the World starts broadcasting good news, I will be the first to tune back in.

 

  1. Change from the Inside Out.

It really is true that changing yourself will be the biggest step you can take to change the World at large.  Finding your own peace will give you an inner glow that others can only marvel at.  They will wonder what your secret is and you can tell them that you have simply made the decision to see the perfection in everything; that you have found true contentment in life itself.  There are some daily steps you can take to help this process along.

Random and anonymous acts of kindness. Try to carry out at least one good deed every day and wherever possible, do it anonymously so that the recipient does not realise that it was you.  Believe it or not, such altruistic behaviour will give you such a warm, fuzzy feeling inside that you will be buzzing and longing to do it again.

Stop and rewind.  Did you know you have two invisible buttons on the top of your head: stop and rewind?  Whenever you catch yourself getting involved in negative thinking or actions.  Stop what you are doing and imagine yourself pressing the stop button on your head.  Rewind what has just been said or done and make a different choice.  You can even say to the person you are talking to that this is what you are doing.  If this is done with good humour it is likely to evoke a smile from the other person.

The Elastic band of shame.  We find ourselves in situations every day where we feel the need to compare ourselves to others.  Whilst this is perfectly natural, if it is done in a negative way through judgement, complaint or blame it diminishes the feeling of inner calm and tranquillity that we are capable of achieving.  Although difficult, we should do our very best to stay out of other people’s business and keep our mind on our own.  If we can do this for thirty days there will be stunning results.  Find an elastic band that fits your wrist snugly without being too tight, and each time you find yourself complaining, blaming, or judging, ping the elastic band hard against your wrist.  This sharp reminder will soon focus your mind just on the positive.

 

Thus on this remembrance day, don’t give up on the notion of world peace.  Many have laid down their lives because of their deep seated belief in the possibility and we owe it to them to try.  Start with your inner world and watch how the outer world in your immediate vicinity starts to transform.

The Protector

Not many of us make the grade for the position I hold in this life.  We have to have come through many lifetimes before we are even considered and our current infant mortality rate is very high.  But I am one of the lucky ones.  I have survived.  I had a very strong feeling that I would – an unshakable faith that kept me going through the difficult times.  I had to go through a rigorous training programme before I signed up.  That was one of the criteria for accepting such a critical assignment.  I knew the risks and I agreed to them without a moment’s doubt.  I felt I was ready for the role.  It was time for a new challenge.  Nevertheless, it was a difficult time watching the young ones around me perish and die.  I hadn’t expected it to be so hard seeing their strength ebb away and sensing their resignation as they weakened and withered to nothing.

 

Despite such trauma and emotional pain, I have to admit to a feeling of relief when they came to move me to my new quarters where my work would begin.  It was a long journey over rough terrain and I was therefore glad when I arrived in one piece ready to take up my post and continue my growth and development.  It was also good to see that my work station was already full of many others who had arrived before me and made a great success of their position.

 

I don’t really know how best to describe my role.  I guess it is a cross between a protector and a counsellor but many people during the day come to spend time with me.  Often they have tears in their eyes as they lean against me for support and comfort.

 

Even though I have only made that one journey in my life when I was very young, I feel that I have still seen a lot of the World.  I stand still but all of life comes to me.  If I could only tell of all I have seen.  When people come to me they are often in terrible pain, laid bare, their faces contorted in anguish.   I feel I can help to calm them and to find peace.  I use all of my own energy to give them the inner strength to move forward and deal with some of the worst grief and sadness.

 

One young girl used to come to see me every single day.  She was having a really difficult time dealing with her emotions following the loss of her mother.  She would sit leaning against me and sobbing uncontrollably.  I didn’t have to do anything really – just be there for her – sturdy and dependent.  She came to know me very well and she knew that she could trust me.  She would talk to me at each visit and eventually, over many months and years, her broken heart started to mend.  It wasn’t easy and I don’t think she will ever be quite the same person again but she did eventually find a kind of acceptance.

 

Another of my weekly visitors was a very tall, polite gentleman.  He never quite seemed to know what to do or say and seemed very incongruous and uncomfortable in his suit and tie.  He simply used to sit very quietly by my side; still and silent but I like to think that he took some comfort from me.

 

That was over one hundred years ago and I have lived a full life indeed. I have seen many people come and go in this place and I like to think in some small way, I have been able to help every one of them.  I don’t receive so many visitors now.  The relatives of the person I am protecting have all moved on and as I reach the end of my own life, it will also be time for me to move on.

 

My limbs have become dry and bent over and my body has become gnarled and twisted.  It is time for me to meet my maker again.  Not that he was ever very far away in my role.  I would often hear his voice in the whisper of the wind.   I am so proud of what I have achieved during this life time.  I know that when I leave this earth, I will do so with a glad heart.  I often see the spirits of those I have protected and in the last few days they have been calling to me more often – beckoning me to join them on a higher plain full of love and light.

 

Looking back now I cannot believe that I was once a tiny sapling.  I grew into such a large tree and by the end of my long existence, I took pride of place right in the heart of the cemetery.  People would come to visit me and remark on my sturdiness, energy and beauty.  What an honour to have served amongst the souls of men.  If I could have my time all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Eight Ways to Harness Your Fear

Nestling between autumn and winter, plenty and poverty, life and death itself, Halloween is widely celebrated in many corners of the globe. Formerly known as Samhain, the ancient Celtic festival heralded the start of winter and the beginning of hardship and was marked by the lighting of bonfires to chase away the spirits of the dead on a night when the boundaries between this life and the afterlife were blurred. Nowadays Halloween is an enjoyable occasion where we relish being frightened by the appearance of ghouls and ghosts in a relatively safe environment and, in fact, we are much more likely to be afraid of our real life situations than any witch or warlock. So let’s explore what makes us afraid and how we can manage it.

What is Fear?

Fear is a chain reaction in the brain in response to a stressful stimulus – real or imagined. It prompts the fight or flight response of a racing heart and energised muscles and, in a genuine, life-threatening situation would enable us to remove ourselves quickly from danger. Our brains are programmed to react first and assess later so the response can be triggered unnecessarily. For example, perhaps you are in a quiet situation at home and you will hear a loud bang. Your brain will begin the chain reaction and you will feel the adrenaline coursing through you even if it was only a door slamming in the wind. In today’s fast paced society there are many opportunities for the brain to overreact and the constant flood of stress hormones into our systems are not good for our health.  Our fear is also triggered because we are over thinking.  When we project ourselves into the future and imagine the worst. We constantly feel that something bad is about to happen which can paralyse our ability to achieve and undermines our confidence. We feel it is safer to stay put than to challenge our fear and move forward. But humans are pre-programmed to constantly change and evolve and being afraid to progress is soul destroying. So how can we break through the fear barrier and realise our full potential. Here are eight ways.
  1. Recognise Your Triggers.
    Each of us will have our own individual sticking points and before we can tackle them, we need to ascertain what they are. Spend a few moments with paper and pen and write down what it is that frightens you. For some it is their finances and not having enough to make it to the end of the months.  Others may be recovering from illness and scared that it will happen again. Get it all down on paper.
  2. Address Your Worst Case Scenario.
    Whilst you still have paper and pen in your hand, think about the very worst thing that could happen and then write down how you would deal with it if this did arise. Quite often you can find a solution to your worst fears and it really isn’t as bad as you imagined.
  3. Visualisation.
    Spend a few moments quietening your mind taking a few deep cleansing breaths. When you are ready, play out your fear on a a big screen in front of you. Put in as much detail as you can using all five senses to make the pain feel really vivid. Then in your imagination stand up and walk towards the screen with your hand, swipe the screen to the left and take your position again sitting down. Replay the scene again but this time with the positive outcome that you desire.  Again make this as vivid as you can and enjoy using your five senses. Feeling positive emotions of excitement, anticipation and joy having conquered your fear.
  4.  Work through the emotional scale.
    In my opinion, when feeling paralysing fear, it is difficult to jump from that to full blown bliss and happiness so those well meaning people who simply tell you to get happy are not understanding how difficult and counter-productive that might be for you. But you can take small steps towards happiness by taking back your power and moving yourself up the emotional scale slowly. So for example, if you are feeling fear one day,make it your goal to focus your emotions and just feel frustration. Whilst we would all agree that this is not very positive, it is certainly better than paralysing fear.  On the next day, aim simply for slight annoyance but the following day, you can switch to acceptance before moving into positive emotions.
  5. Take a Small Step.
    Break up what it is that scares you and find one small thing that you can do to move towards your goal. Maybe you are afraid of public speaking and have to give a presentation to some senior managers at work. The small step could be to write your speech or to practice it in front of a good friend building up the size of the group gradually.
  6. Appreciation. OK. Yes, this is an old chestnut but it really does help. Look at where you are already and really feel gratitude for it in your heart. Rather than focusing forward, look back at the last year at all your achievements and how far you have come already. Look at all the fears you have already overcome and feel proud of what you have gained.
  7. Work out Your Net Gain.
    Look at what you will gain by facing your fear. Write down a list of all the benefits of what you are about to achieve against what you will lose out on if you stay where you are. Think about how you feel at the end of your life if you don’t strive for what you are capable of and then go for it.
  8. Get Physical.
    I know some of us really don’t like physically exertion but it really can help to focus the mind and power through the pain barrier. So get those trainers on and go for a run, take a walk along the seafront or in nature, or dance when there’s no one watching! Whilst you’re moving, see your fear as a big cloud of dust in front of you; determine to move through the cloud and imagine coming out the other side having accomplished your dreams.

Nobody said that life was going to be easy but the pay-off is huge. Life really does begin at the edge of your comfort zone and you will look back with a massive sense of achievement. So no more excuses, whatever it is that scares you, face up to your demons and embrace your life. This is really what it is all about.