If Nothing Changes

Mr Jukes

I’ve been wearing quite a lot of black recently, combined with pointy shoes, rather too many hard edges, but also with a touch of sexiness (even if I say so myself); sending a message of look but absolutely do not touch. Most definitely a warning rather than a message.

So far this year has seemed quite an uphill battle. There have been a few plateaux, but of course in my mind I’m just attaching to the negative bits, the parts that have been causing me the most effort and notably the least pleasure. I’m tending to cling to those difficulties rather than remembering the good things that have happened. I can intellectualise all I want about how my human brain is hardwired to look for danger, to seek out possible threats, to fight or take flight. The problem is, is that if this is my default way of thinking, I can end up being hyper vigilant and worse, looking for trouble and chaos where there is none. Being in a constant state of alert is incredibly draining physically and emotionally, for me it makes for crazy thinking and crazy behaviours, ones that I am not always proud of. The primary victim of these behaviours is, of course, myself.

So what do I do? What will help me right size my problems? I could start with a bit of journaling, that’s getting honest with myself. Next I can talk about how I’m feeling, which is being honest with someone else. I can then look at what I’m really grateful for right now and embrace it. I can stop listening to sad songs on repeat and move on. I can shut up and listen to what other people say and not feel isolated in this mind set. I can be much softer on myself, not put up barriers between me and the outside world starting with how I’m dressing, being more approachable.  I talk enough about the heart practices, I need to just carry on doing them, until they start to sink in.  As that really annoying, but true saying goes:

“If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

 

Listening to: Mr Jukes (featuring De La Soul & Horace Andy) Leap of Faith

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Sunsets and Nutribullets

 

IMG_8492Apparently Mercury is no longer retrograde, whatever that means; a possible cause for celebration? I’m not really up on all things cosmic, however what I do know is that quite a few people are feeling pretty blue at the moment. By blue I really mean lonely; disconnected from others. I know this feeling only too well, it seems like everyone else in the world is skipping merrily off into the sunset, posting inspirational quotes on Instagram, getting things done, drinking healthy shakes and running marathons for good causes and I feel like I’m staring at the horizon, listening to moody songs travelling solo down a very long road.

 I have to remember that whilst I may not be inventing quotes to big myself up or motivate others and the idea of running for the bus has me flagging down the nearest cab; there’s still a lot to be thankful for. Top of my list is that my wardrobe is now fixed, it’s only taken about five months, but it is fixed; timed beautifully with the changing weather. I can now view my winter clothes with ease and smug satisfaction. This may seem trivial to some, but (in true inspirational quote style),  it’s the small things in life that make it all worthwhile. Who knows, I may go wild and drag out the Nutribullet, sunset optional.

 

Listening to: PJ Harvey This Mess We’re In

Unpicking Things

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I have this tendency to mix things up, well, more accurately confuse things, get situations tangled up into one big knot, especially when dealing with people. On occasion, I have a slow motion response to how someone treats me; for example, if someone says something bad to me, I’ll hang on to that little bit of poison, act like I’m ok then pass it on to someone else. That may not happen right away, it may take a few days; by which time the poison has fermented, grown ever more potent, so the poor unsuspecting soul that next comes into contact with me gets it. Instead of telling the first person that they had upset or annoyed me and dealing with it right there and then, I’ve thrown petrol onto the fire and passed it on. All this in a bid to maintain the status quo. So if I’m doing this, are other people doing the same? Did the original snide comment just represent something unpleasant that Person A was subjected to and then they then passed on to me? Will Person B then pass on the new stronger formula to someone else? Is this how wars get started? It certainly doesn’t make for harmonious living.

Another outcome is that I take that poison and administer it to myself, no third party necessary. In fact if this were an Olympic sport, the gold medal would surely be mine. With the help of my number one coach, The Inner Critic, I’ll believe the unpleasant comments, the side jabs, my confidence will be undermined. At times like this I need to pedal back a few meters to gain a better perspective. Maintaining the status quo is a safety strategy; it’s easier to just accept things for a quiet life. The problem is if I take no action this just leaves the door open for more unacceptable behaviour and the whole merry dance starts again. It’s not about confrontation, it’s about standing up for myself, it’s about being heard, it’s also about acknowledging that my feelings matter and that principally they matter to me. Sitting, taking time out from the day gives me that space to get connected to me, a chance to practice forgiveness, to repeat these words until I start to feel them.

I forgive you

I forgive me

I forgive myself

 

 

 

Listening to: Bob Dylan Idiot Wind

Mental Notes

Notes

I have a tendency to make mental notes of things. You can translate ‘mental’ whichever way you choose. These could be: “Remember to phone the plumber to fix the shower”,  “Those ancient burgundy Paul Smith loafers would look rather well with purple socks” (the sort of purple that the Queen would wear with Ermine), you get the general idea.

The main problem with these notes is that often they are forgotten, buried by the other mental notes that get written daily, randomly . They can also get overwritten or rewritten, updated to a more relevant version, one with more humour, more intelligence, something that will impress me more, make me laugh out loud with my daring wit. Sometimes they aren’t just notes, sometimes they are whole narratives, stories of things that have happened, opinions on life, mainly my life, my stories, real or reimagined.

It’s important for me to not get too bogged down by all these notes, all this thinking,all this imagining, all this wishing. There’s a fine line between a simple note and a huge unwielding list of tasks, ideas, improvements that threaten to overwhelm. Hurrah for meditation, this gives me the chance to offload all these notes, to just sit and watch them fly past the window. If I’m lucky, the important stuff will be revealed again and I will get some purple socks and remember to call the plumber.

 

Playing right now on Radio 6: Abba Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) – yes really it is, and no I don’t.

Photograph of a painting by Jose Hinojo http://www.josehinojo.es

 

Working on it.

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The long days of summer are coming to a close, there’s a slight chill in the air and people seem to be rushing around a little more. I’ve got that “back to school” feeling, a sense of excitement mixed with sprinkling of fear. When I was at school I used to like going shopping for a new uniform, once the days of hand me downs had passed. My school was reasonably strict on uniform, but not so much that you had to buy the designated uniform from one particular supplier. Instead, as long as you had a navy skirt, navy jumper and white shirt, plus the school tie, you were doing ok. Of course I liked to bend the rules as much as possible, red tights with navy leg warmers, chunky knit fisherman’s jumpers, a navy kilt and desert boots, or on the flipside, a pencil skirt with a men’s V-neck jumper, small collared shirt, skinny tie and my trademark scarlet nail polish. Looking back now I did spend a lot of time dodging the Deputy Head to avoid detention and to be fair I got told on more than one occasion that what I was wearing was not appropriate.

So now I’m about to start a new job and the whole question of a “new uniform” arises. For someone that is self-employed, in an industry where pretty much anything goes, this clothes thing can present itself as a conundrum. It’s important that I dress appropriately for me, however there’s also the expectation that others have of me, especially in the workplace. For example I may really want to just wear jeans and trainers, perfectly acceptable in the industry I work in, but it’s still important to wear jeans that are smart enough and trainers that aren’t too worn out looking. To be fair I may wear a smart suit or a silk dress, with dirty old trainers or beaten up boots; it’s about balance. I don’t have to conform to stereotypical ideals, but I do need to be aware of the environment I am in and what my position is in this environment. It is possible to be myself and to feel comfortable in what I am wearing; if I feel at ease then I am better able to do my job and to better enjoy doing it, now wouldn’t that be a thing?

 

Listening to: Gary Numan Cars (Watching Halt and Catch Fire so expect quite a bit of 80’s music)

Goodbyes and New Beginnings.

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I was taken slightly by surprise the other day, someone behaved in a way I didn’t quite expect, I had painted them in a different light, rightly or wrongly. It left me questioning my own behaviour and it reminded me how self centred I can be. When back-footed it’s easy to get defensive, to be brazen, laugh things off, when in fact inside there’s a part, large or small that’s wounded, hurting, decaying. It can be a question of pride, a sense of failure, feeling less than. Once again I did myself out of the opportunity to say how I felt, instead I was understanding, compassionate and relieved, but still a little sad. Nothing as intense as heartbreak, just a sense of something lost; adventures that won’t be embarked on, hurdles that won’t be overcome, possibilities cut short . A loss of things not yet happened, things imagined, things wished for. 

Heartbreak on the other hand is an entirely different beast. Physical, visceral, akin to standing on the edge of an abyss;. a deep well of nothingness with pain, so much pain. I read somewhere that there is an actual physical pain to a broken heart, that you can take a couple of painkillers to help. In the past I’ve tried a whole raft of other things to block that pain, to kill the feelings, obliterate them. It got so that I had no idea what I was feeling apart from overwhelming panic. I dragged myself around not caring what I looked like, jeans trainers sweatshirt, everyday, but that wasn’t to do with heartbreak, just the accumulation of self medication.

The Heartbreak Outfit is a tough one, it’s about security, protection from the hurt. It’s about intensive care, softness, comfort and ease. Sometimes it can be a disguise; protection is also about camouflage, we don’t always want to expose our vulnerability to the whole world. It doesn’t mean we are trying to fool anyone, it just means we are taking care of our needs and staying in the background for a while.

The Post-Breakup Outfit however is way cooler and sexier. It always comprises something new, exciting, slightly left field, to go with a new haircut, lipstick and stacks of attitude. The Post-Breakup Outfit says: “Look at me, my heart may be broken but I’m still standing.” The Post-Breakup Outfit marks a new beginning. Forget images of  butterflies emerging, a butterfly has a life cycle that is way too short, instead consider a tadpole finding its legs, awkward, unsure but head above the water, heading for shore.

Right now I’m neither in heartbreak nor breakup mode, I’ve just got that slight wistful air of things passed. I can still dress with conviction, with an air that suggests I’m getting on with things. I can keep moving, keep showing myself kindness. I know the adventures will happen if I choose, opportunities are everywhere if I only open my eyes to the signs. fortune is always close by if I believe in myself. Endings are just beginnings, all experiences bring learning, people will always be surprising, and things never go according to plan, but isn’t that the wonder of life?

Listening to Jeanes : Simple Jayne (With Morning Blackbirds)

Heart of the Matter

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Let’s rewind a few weeks. I did something I would not normally do. I was vulnerable, I told a few people exactly how I was feeling, no holes barred, no declarations of love, no outbursts of rage or blame, facts with emotions attached, emotions that belong to me, founded or unfounded, honest, open, no flourishes or embellishments. It felt scary, so fucking scary that the Midnight Demon, Fear, visited me. It was also scary in a good way, like jumping off a wall or the serendipity of a chance encounter. I felt unsteady yet energised, I wore things that looked sharp, made me feel free, alive. On other days, when I felt more exposed, I wore things that made me feel safe, protected; things that were unfussy, simple relaxed dresses, things with pockets to hide my hands in. Mostly I tried to breath easy, repeating these words, these heart practices:

I feel you.

I know you.

I care about you.

I forgive you.

I appreciate you.

When I repeat these over and over, I remind myself that I matter, whatever happens, wherever I am in the world, I am always there for me. If I can’t be there for me, chances are I’m not there for anyone else either.

 

 

Right now on the radio: Soul to Soul Keep on Moving