Ever had a problem you were too ashamed to share?

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I keep trying to write this post, but every time I do it just doesn’t feel right to put out there.  It feels petty to talk about.  I can’t condense the story enough to explain it properly, or express how deeply the events actually impacted me.  And I keep questioning why this is such an important part of my life, yet I cannot write on it.  So today I’m biting the bullet and just putting out whatever comes.  And maybe I’ll expand on the whole story in the future if it’s relevant to do so.  In fact it’s too big a subject in my life for me not expand at some point, as it’s impacted me in so many ways.  And that subject is friendships; or rather, broken friendships.

 

And the reason why I’m ashamed to share how this has affected me so much, is because I’m nearly 40 and this shouldn’t happen at my age, surely?  I’ve googled it many a lonely night for advice, and all I seem to find is websites telling me to talk to a teacher or adult.  And that just reconfirms it to me, that this is something a child would get upset about, not a grown adult; a Mum with far bigger responsibilities to be thinking about!  But it did happen to me, and I’m just going to put it out there; it’s one of the most difficult experiences I have ever gone through in my life.  And I feel ashamed even saying those words when there’s people out there that have gone through really awful events in their life.  So maybe I have led a blessed existence for this to be the worst thing to ever happen to me.  Except I haven’t had a perfect life.  I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety all my adult life; probably even before; I just didn’t know how to label it as a child.  And maybe that’s the reason why it has affected me so traumatically, because I do feel deeply and I do analyse everything and think the worst as I catastrophise and get overwhelmed by my thoughts.  But on talking to another friend last week whose best friend of nearly 40 years has just completely changed, disowned her, and is actually quite nasty to her now, I realised we do grieve when friendships break down and it’s not been our choice for them to end or for things to change.  We do take it to heart and ask ourselves where we went wrong.  And it does affect our self-esteem as we fear it will happen again and put our guard up.  As my friend quoted to me, “One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is grieve the loss of a person who is still alive,” a quote she’d actually just re-posted to facebook that day in an attempt to grab her ex-best friend’s attention!

 

I’ve recently joined a women’s networking group, which on paper should have filled me with fear, but something guided me to go.  And in the first week we were asked what our experience of other women was.  I started the discussion, which is very unlike me, and shared my hurt over a group of friends that had believed one narcissistical friend’s lies about me.  Or rather I should be more accurate in saying they didn’t believe her at all, but they told me they knew what she was doing and didn’t want her to do it to them, so all but said they were abandoning me to save themselves.  I told this group of strangers how it had led to my children having their own friends distance themselves as guided by their mothers, and as 4 and 6 year olds they had no comprehension as to why everyone they’d known their whole lives had just gone all of a sudden.  And I couldn’t explain it to them either, because I couldn’t explain it to myself!  I told of my anxiety of doing anything within our close knit village in case I bumped into any of them, or even worse the whole gang of them out together, carrying on like I’d never existed.  And I told of how it had put this fear in me of women and how I must in future tone down my personality so as not to rub someone up the wrong way and inflict all this hurt on myself again.  It had fundamentally changed me to the core.  And what followed was other women in this networking group sharing their own fears of women, and similar experiences of maybe being too happy or being too friendly or kind, and just triggering someone to feel threatened by that, and the dramas that followed.  And I felt immense relief at not feeling alone, and yet fascinated that we’d all still felt drawn to come to a group that was essentially about meeting other women and opening ourselves up and feeling vulnerable in front of each other.

 

This week I shared a new story with the group on how someone I thought was a friend had let me down badly.  I said that I couldn’t carry on feeling like this with people, not knowing how to stop it happening to me.  And the girl who ran the group, who is some kind of spiritual energy guru, just stared at me intently and told me I’d done absolutely nothing wrong to invite the kind of hurt I was feeling.  Then she said that I was unbelievably strong.  And I realised in that moment that yes, I am bloody strong.  I’ve felt the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my life these last 2 years.  And yet here I was, sat with a bunch of strangers, crying and telling them all my innermost fears.  And this woman was looking at me and literally reading me as unbelievably strong.  And she really meant it.  She wasn’t saying it just to make me feel better and be supportive.  She could see it in my aura.  She told me I was such a big energy that I will always attract this sort of thing because some people just can’t handle that type of energy and feel threatened by it, and that made sense to me and resonated with what I’d felt myself.  I felt immense relief that someone understood me finally, and someone that barely knew me at all.  And that’s when I realised we can have day to day people, and people we’ve known all our lives that just fill a space and do nothing more, and maybe eventually let us down and abandon us when we need them.  Then you can meet your true tribe in the most unexpected of places.  And you know, even if they’re not the sort of friends you’ll go on holiday with, you’ll grab a coffee with, that you’ll exchange Christmas presents with or ask to babysit your kids; you know that they get you more than anyone you’ve ever met.  And they’re the people you need to meet to know there are good people in this world.  They may only be in your life for a few weeks, months, or even years.  But the impact they make, and the memories they leave your life with makes you realise it’s not women that are your problem at all, it’s just you haven’t found your true tribe yet.  And I can guarantee that it’s totally worth continuing your search.

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Happy Memories Jar

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With the New Year fast approaching I wanted to write about a little family tradition we have in the hope it inspires people and gives you time to prepare if you want to try this with me in 2019!  Wow, how did we nearly get to 2019 already?

I heard of this a few years ago and I just thought it was absolutely brilliant.  It’s a happy memory jar.  Every year I buy a big glass jar and a pad of post-it type paper.  My OCD needs everything to match so God forbid I use scraps of paper or we have more happy memories than there are sheets of paper in the pad!  But of course if you aren’t inflicted with this terrible desire to have everything match then any container and scraps of paper will do the same job!  Then anything that makes us happy gets jotted down, folded up, and put in the jar to be read by the family on New Year’s Eve.  Now this can be anything as long as it’s positive and a happy memory, from things people have done or bought for me, trips out and holidays, pleasant surprises, special events, funny things the kids have said, funny things that have happened at work or in text conversations; anything that brightened up your day.  What a good way to remember all the little things over the year and again, go to bed on a good note, literally writing a little happy memory for ourselves to re-read one day. 

 

One note that we found the other day from an old jar that really made me giggle was something my nephew came out with while sat on the toilet at about aged 4.  “Grandma, if you hear me shout “f…” it means I’ve finished but I don’t know how to say the word ‘finished’!”  Now would we ever have remembered that had it not been jotted down and popped in the jar that night?

 

And now that we have children too the prospect of making a night of New Year’s Eve has gone out the window, and to be honest if we make it past 10pm it’s a miracle.  So our tradition now involves us all ordering takeout and laughing and reminiscing over the jar.  But if you still have a social life it would make a great Christmas or New Year’s Day tradition too!  Whatever fits your family. 

 

I do also think that it would be a fantastic thing to have if you ever felt really down and overwhelmed by life.  Who cares if you cheat and dip in halfway through the year for a little pick-me-up?  If pulling out a memory of the time that friend left a couple of cans of G&T on your doorstep because she knew you were stuck in alone with the kids asleep in bed and had had a day where you desperately needed a drink (another one from my jar) reminded you of how loved you actually were, what an amazing jar of positivity to have at hand!!!!

 

You can get the kids involved too, or let them create their own jar.  Me and my nephew made one once and the things he wrote that were important memories to him were beautiful: “When Daddy reads to me at night,” “The day me and Isaac were allowed to eat our dinner on a picnic blanket on my bedroom floor was the greatest day of my life,” to remember a couple.  And when his parents read them they couldn’t believe the little things that this 6 year old counted as his most joyous moments to date! 

 

So give it a go and let me know how you get on.  Maybe next year we can all come back and share our happiest memories of the year! 

 

GRATITUDE JOURNAL

This week I’d like to talk about gratitude journals.  I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for a while now, and I’ve even encouraged my kids to start one too, which is just the cutest thing ever!  Alright, they get a biscuit at the end if they can think of three things they’re grateful for that day.  But I figure a little bribery is just setting them up for good habits of positive thinking and recognising and giving thanks for the little things in life.

We have so many negative thoughts swirling round in our mind that half the time we don’t even know what we’re telling ourselves.  It’s just automatic.  To write down what we’re grateful for or happy about starts putting positive thoughts back into our head and eventually creates a new habit; a new way of thinking.  It can be the simplest of things.  I often write down things I’m grateful for, nice things people have done for me, nice things I’ve done for others, things that have made me happy.  It’s a good reference to look back on at a later date when the world seems like such a horrible place, as a reminder that actually it’s not.  That person that let you out at a junction when you could see people getting impatient behind you and your anxiety levels were going through the roof might just have changed your whole day for the better.  Acknowledge it!

I like to write ten things I’m grateful for every morning.  As soon as I wake up I grab a cup of tea and I start listing on my phone.  It only takes a couple of minutes, but it just sets me up for the day. But you may prefer to write things at night, maybe just before you go to bed and go to bed with happy memories of that day.  Or you could even write your list first thing and add to it at bedtime or re-read it before you go to sleep.  Whatever works best for you. 

I do often say things I’m grateful for out loud on the way to work while I’m driving.  I challenge myself to see how far I can drive on the same monotonous journey whilst giving thanks.  Even if I’m clutching at straws saying thanks for the fact I own a car, the fact I can afford petrol, the fact my car is running without needing repairs.  In reality they are all things we should be grateful for.  I can be very competitive in an attempt to beat where I got to the day before, even if it is only to outdo myself.  But if you try and fit it in wherever it best fits your schedule you’ll soon find it just becomes this amazingly uplifting habit.

Today I had a killer migraine.  My worst yet.  I could have gone to bed cursing the fact I’d lost a day of my life, been in so much pain, left my house in a mess and missed the chance to see my kids take part in activities at their school fair.  Instead my gratitude journal read:-

 

Today I am grateful for:-

  • Finally being migraine free. I feel fantastic and ready to cleanse my body and appreciate my migraine-free time.  I am also grateful for the moments my little girls massaged my head or brushed my hair in an attempt to make me feel better.
  • My husband for taking the girls to the school fair when I was too ill to get out of bed even though he was supposed to be working from home today and will have to catch up on all that work tonight.
  • Finding my motivation to blog and come up with some creative ideas.
  • That first wanting of food after a period of being sick. Food never tasted so good.
  • My mum for helping me and taking my youngest when I couldn’t cope with the noise any more, even though she had my nephews too and she’s having the girls tomorrow.

Now the reality of my day was that my husband was not at all pleased that I was ill and had actually made me feel very guilty for messing up his day by inconveniently having a migraine.  But the point of this is that he did still take the girls to the fair, and for that I am grateful.  That is the memory of today I want to acknowledge and remember.  Not anything negative that was said before that!

So you can see from that how easy it is to find even just 5 things to be grateful for on what turned out to be a day of sickness.  And I have literally not even got out of my bed all day! 

I like to also end my gratitude journal for the day with a positive affirmation.  I don’t know why, I just started doing it as a little extra thing to do.  And it felt a good time to do it when I was feeling so positive.  So I often write little things like ‘I am hopeful’, ‘I am adventurous’, ‘I am moving in positive directions with my life’.  And these affirmations are often linked to the things I’ve been grateful for that day, so I find them easy to think of at that moment.  You may want to do something more with those affirmation than just write them.  You may want to meditate on them, create some art work with them, say them repeatedly before you go to sleep, or even do yoga moves as you repeat them.  Whatever feels good for you is the way to go!  But if you’re going to think of a quick affirmation to sum up your day it is the perfect time to be inspired!

I just use my phone to quickly list, but there are lots of purposely written gratitude journals out there.  Let me know if you already use one, which one you have chosen and why! 

 

Happy gratitude journaling!!!!

 

 

Podcasts – an inspirational friend in my ear!

So a little while ago a friend told me to listen to podcasts, and like most things people suggest, you become resistant to the idea the more they harp on.  They just didn’t interest me.  Besides, when would I have time to listen to one with two small kids and a near enough full-time job?  Then one day, and I can’t even remember how or when, I started listening to one at work.  I have the type of job where we can sit with music or the radio on our headphones.  I know – amazing, huh?  And I remember quickly becoming addicted!  I soon went through every available episode and craved a new show to listen to as not only did I find I was working faster and hitting my targets more as I couldn’t chat to my colleagues whilst I had one on, but I just felt so uplifted by them!  And they were free.  Even better! 

I’d recently become interested in the law of attraction and manifesting what you want in life, and on my list constantly was, ‘Please bring inspirational people into my life’.  Now like Aladdin and his magic lamp I perhaps should have been more specific and added ‘in person as new friends’ but what ended up in my life was podcasts.  And it wasn’t long before I clicked that these were the inspirational people I’d prayed to find in my life.  They may not be friends, but they were real and they were out there doing good in the world.  They restored my faith in humanity, inspired me, gave me new ideas and different paths to follow, and most importantly were the little positive voice in my ear that I so desperately needed. 

So here are my top 3 favourite podcasts:-

Buddhist Boot Camp Podcast

I had the book and kept it by my bedside table to lift me up when life felt hard, and the podcast was no different.  In fact a lot of it is chapters from the book.  It’s just the author, Timber Hawkeye, discussing everyday situations and feelings, and ideas on how to re-think and deal with what’s thrown at us.  It’s so simple you’ll kick yourself that you never thought of analysing situations as Timber Hawkeye does.  He really is inspirational and down to earth and human.  A lot of what he talks about is situations he’s been in and how he’s dealt with them, and I just felt such calm after listening to each of his podcasts, like I could deal with absolutely anything with peace and dignity.

The Lavendaire Lifestyle

I quickly became addicted to this podcast and listened to every episode, even ticking a list off on my desk so I knew I hadn’t missed any.  She interviews a lot of very inspirational people, and I just felt so motivated by each and every one of them.  Even if I read the blurb and didn’t feel especially inspired, I often felt so different by the end of the interviews!  She’s calm, she’s authentic and she really is inspiring.  She also has a You Tube channel that I love to watch too!

Style Your Mind

This is my new latest treat of a podcast.  I love, love, LOVE this girl.  I want to go for a drink with her.  She’s a life coach, and whilst a lot of her work is aimed at female entrepreneurs I just got so much personally from listening to it.  She made me feel strong, confident and able to do anything.  In fact she’s been the person that has really kick started me to set up this blog; something I’ve thought about for ages but felt overwhelmed at the thought of.  She made me believe I could do it, and 2 days ago I didn’t even know how to set up a blog, so her words really have motivated me!  I have literally sat and cried at my desk at some of the things that she’s said that made me think, “Yes, somebody gets how I feel and understands what I see in the world!”  And she’s just so bubbly and positive you can’t help but feel amazing after listening to her. 

So they’re my current favourites.  And whilst I initially thought listening to podcasts would be hard to fit in, I’ve come to love them so much I’ve started playing them in the car on my drive home from work and round the house whilst I’m doing housework, on top of listening to them whilst I work.  I really do find them inspiring.  And what’s even better is that every time they interview someone on their podcast I find new people to follow and listen to.  My Facebook and Instagram accounts are no longer filled with attention seeking randomers I may have gone to school with, worked with once upon a time or are friends of friends eager to up their friends list.  I’m following authentically real positive inspiring people.  And you know what they say, “Raise your vibe, attract your tribe!”  I feel so uplifted after I’ve listened to them that I can’t help but spill that out into the relationships around me. 

There’s a podcast on every subject you could imagine, so you don’t even have to stick to self-help/life coaching-type podcasts.  Listen to something funny and have a giggle.  That’s got to make you feel great!  And if you don’t feel you have the time to listen to them, think about all the times you are bored, using public transport, walking to the shops, lying in bed waiting to go to sleep, waiting for your kids to come out of their dance class.  You’ll soon find the time when you find one you enjoy.  It’s a great way to learn and feel connected to other people, and I find myself spouting out random facts I’m learning from them when I’m with other people, so they’re great for conversation inspiration too.  So let me know what your favourite podcasts are and why.

 

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