It’s ten years today since my mum passed away. I still miss her every day.
Sometimes you have to step away from your routine to see yourself from another perspective.
I recently took a short trip and quickly realised how desperately I had needed to get away. Over the past six months my life started drifting in a different direction. For personal reasons I chose to accept these changes in circumstances to support others and fuel their wants and dreams but in doing so forgot about my own needs. It wasn’t until I was away that I was able to acknowledge how much this has affected me.
Helping a loved one cope with anxiety is a difficult and confusing time. My heart aches as I try my best to support Jane through a low period in her life. It’s really tough watching a loved one go through this battle, while sitting on the outside, feeling helpless.
Anxiety disorders are different from ‘everyday’ anxiety; they are more intense and persistent and interfere with a person’s life. Such disorders share an extreme sense of fear and worry accompanied by physical symptoms that can affect all systems of the body. Anxiety disorders occur when someone has an intense and paralysing sense of fear or a more sustained pattern of worrying when there is no apparent real danger or threat.
I will do anything to help Jane feel better about her life and would swap places to save her going through this torment. As best I can I remain calm, firm and consistent and show her she is loved and supported. In addition to her family support network I’ve have urged her to seek professional counselling advice.
I started asking myself what should I be looking out for? What can I do to help? What support is out there for people on the perimeter of anxiety disorders? I rang the helpline of the most reputable organisation providing an information and support service helping Australians achieve their best possible mental health. This organisation is widely known for its helpline advice for people struggling with anxiety/ depression or who have suicidal thoughts. It was daunting to make the call as a supporter of a loved one so I can only imagine how overwhelming it might be for people feeling helpless to make the decision to reach out for help.
After deciding to call I dialled the number and heard a click followed by a long recorded message spruiking information about the organisation and the types of services they provide. Then came an automated message to press 1 for this, press 2 for that, press 3 for something else. Feeling confused about which number to select I had to wait to hear the message repeated so I could make the correct choice. Once you choose an option a further recorded message announces that calls are recorded unless you state your objection, and then invites callers to press another number to agree to stay on the line at the end of their call to participate in a survey. By now I was getting agitated and wanted to speak to a real person to ask for advice. When I was eventually connected with a counsellor she was helpful to a point and reassured me that I am doing and saying the right things to help Jane.
After making the call I felt disappointed with the unfriendly vibe around the process of getting through to speak to a real person. I doubt very much that people who genuinely need urgent help choosing between life or death would stay on the line long enough to speak to a counsellor to guide them in their time of need. I think this is really sad.
55 springs and 55 summers gone now
Memories of past years held in faded photographs remind me how lucky I am.
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.
~ Joni Mitchell
Last year I stepped off the painted pony for a sojourn in Europe. Despite some initial apprehension I soon relaxed in the new environment and basked in exhilaration as the journey progressed. My fondest memories of this trip occurred when the beauty of mother nature exhilarated my senses allowing me to feel her power seep into my soul with the intensity of a defibrillator. It was then that I truly understood these words by Lao Tsu
Empty yourself of everything. Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the Source.
Returning to the Source is stillness, which is the way of Nature.
The way of Nature is unchanging.
~Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
As I prepare to return to Europe people ask what I hope to see or buy but all I am thinking about is what I hope to feel.
It’s been a while since I’ve written a personal blog post but now feels like the right time to share. I’m not the same person I was two years ago and continue to evolve every day. It is only now when I read my earlier blog posts that I fully comprehend the extent of the insecurity I lived with.
I thought changing my thoughts and attitudes would be easy as long as I was determined to change. I was wrong. Transformation is a slow process making it difficult to know change is taking place. For every step forward there are many backward and sidewards steps that sometimes become unexpected benefits and sometimes they are just setbacks. Some days I felt confused and wished I’d never rocked the boat. I thought I was losing my identity which it turns out was exactly what I was trying to do. For me the glass was always half empty and I’d convinced myself that was all it could ever be.
When I decided to change I wanted to generate a new mindset so I started reading daily blogs and Facebook inspirational pages about happiness, gratitude, positivity and peace. At first they seemed fanciful but I kept on reading them like using flashcards to teach children to read, hoping they would infiltrate my way of thinking. Every day I’d try to incorporate the tone of the messages into my life. At first it felt unnatural but I persisted until the words started making more sense and gradually made way for positive change within.
Any type of life change is difficult. Life is not a fairy tale with everything resolving at the end leaving everyone to live happily ever after. Life is interesting and complicated with a random mix of joys, obstacles and challenges. I’ve learned that it’s not what happens but how we react and deal with life that makes us who we are. Now I see opportunities where I once saw challenges. Instead of feeling hurt or intimidated by people who are rude and disrespectful I now pity them. I’ve learned to be honest with myself and live happily in my own skin. I trust my heart will guide me.
Anyone determined to make changes to their life should accept it is not easy but understand we are all capable of far more than we imagine.
Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. ~ Henry Ford
The mind is everything. What you think you become ~ Buddha
The best experiences usually arise out of the unexpected. Reading The Alchemist is one such twist of fate I stumbled upon after a blogger recommended it as a good read. Something led me to find Paulo Coelho’s book in my local library. Naively oblivious to the notoriety and hype surrounding The Alchemist I had no expectations. My only thought was it might be a welcome change to read something outside of my usual preferred genre of Asian history stories.
Right from the first page a feeling of calm enveloped my body as I connected with the simple prose and captivating story. As the tale unfolded I traveled to a new level of consciousness, a feeling I’ve never experienced before except perhaps briefly during guided meditation. I was floating on a magic carpet and wanted to hold on to this euphoric feeling forever.
Since finishing the book I’ve read other readers’ comments saying they draw personal meaning from The Alchemist. Many people discuss the clear message received to follow their dreams. My experience was more simplistic; I felt peaceful, at peace with my own uniqueness and comfortable knowing that every person in this world needs to walk their own path, from beginning to end. It reinvigorated my self-belief. This book made me see that no person’s life is any more significant than any other person’s life. It’s amazing how something as innocuous as a fable could finally break down my insecurities.
We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.
~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I have inside me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created in the universe. We were all made by the same hand, and we have the same soul.
~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.
~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.
~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Not yet old but way past young I’m staring another birthday in the face still wondering where I fit in to this crazy world. Life is a mystery I’m unraveling as I go. In my heart I’m still a little girl looking for acceptance.
Memories of defining moments dotted throughout my life randomly flash through my mind at the oddest times. I never want to forget these memories because they make me who I am, for better or worse.
In this snowballing culture of greed and excess I strive to live my life simply and with compassion. Sometimes I satisfy my own expectations but other times I let myself down. That’s okay, I’ll keep trying. Every day brings another chance to try again.
I live a comfortable life and want for nothing. Possessions are nice to have but they are just things. The love of my husband, my three children and my little dog mean more to me than anything else in the world. These people give me purpose and make my life worthwhile. They make me laugh, love, hurt and swell with pride. They make me feel.
My wish is for people to take time to enjoy the little things that make them smile. A smile brightens everyone’s day. I’ve chosen some picture quotes reflecting messages I’d like to share with you on my birthday 26 June 2014.