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Prioritise Your Life. Then Re-Prioritise Daily.

It's easy to get caught up in the urgent and immediate tasks that come up at home or at work. There are deadlines everywhere, a pressing need to do this or that and it can all get to be too much.

When we get all wound up with being busy and getting things done, we can go overboard and pile more and more pressures and deadlines on ourselves. We think we can maintain our usual standard of care when it comes to work, home, family and ourselves, all of which can be very energy-draining and time-consuming. Throw in the urgent extras that pop up, but rather than cut out some non-essentials, we continue to keep everything functioning as normally as possible.

However, there are only so many hours in a day. Sometimes what we think are priorities could be moved a little lower down the list. Perhaps, in those really stressful, busy times when unusual pressures are heaped on top of all the usual ones, we can begin to let go of some of the others.

For example, some people insist on scouring the bathrooms top to bottom every day, or hoovering or washing floors first thing every morning. Or they use bath towels once and throw them in the laundry. Maybe they're picking up after their children rather than encouraging them to do it for themselves.

The point is that our homes and lives won't collapse if we let go of some of the usual things we like to do on a daily or regular basis. We must learn to delegate in times of extra stress and "busy-ness", letting go of, or handing over some responsibilities to others who are able to do them.

When life gets out of control with too many pressures, it is essential to prioritise. Let go of what doesn't really need to be done today or this week. Move it well down the list. Pick out what absolutely must be done, and if you're having a hard time narrowing down the list, look at the possible negative consequences of each job on the list and this will help you figure it out.

For example, there's a big difference between "must get taxes filed" if it's the day before the deadline, and "must do the hoovering".

And then there are the other priorities, too, about taking care of yourself. If your list includes wanting a daily walk, and insisting that the whole bathroom be cleaned every day, floors and all, perhaps you could think about the benefits of going for a walk, as compared to the benefits of having a sparkling bathroom. Buy one of those 'cleans as you flush' thingies, give the sink and taps a quick once-over with a disinfectant wipe and get out for that walk.

It's not enough to prioritise once and expect it to last. It's got to be done every day. It's essential to remind yourself every morning of the things that are really important to you, which bits really must be done, and after that, re-organise priorities so you are consistently and consciously working at what matters most in your life.

Just make sure that you are high on that list every day, too, because if you aren't in the category of what matters most in your life, you - and everyone close to you - will suffer for it.

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Rest: Essential for Body, Mind and Spirit

(My daughter, Willow, with her precious Daphne)

It's easy to keep pushing through life, doing, doing, doing no matter how tired we are. I've been as bad as anyone for that at time. Habit, I reckon, from many years as a single parent when there were things that just had to be done and there was no one else to do them.

I'd become so used to functioning in overdrive, making sure that things were done that it was difficult for me to know when to stop and take a rest. On top of that, I spent my days doing work that I loved. When it doesn't feel like work, it's easy to keep doing it because I'm enjoying it so much so I have to be careful about this.

At least I am lucky enough to be in a position where I can nap if I so choose. To be honest, there are few pleasures so sweet in life as curling up in my favourite chair with a thick, warm blanket, and settling in for a delicious afternoon nap. It is such a blessed relief to close my aching eyes, and in a heartbeat, or perhaps two, I have drifted off to a quiet and gentle place of rest for a little while. 

Sometimes, this is the best and deepest sleep I have. Without fail, it makes me feel so much better. I can dive back into my work with renewed energy, a fresh look and a huge weight lifted off me. I am reminded once again of the importance of listening to my body, my mind, my spirit, for all of them grow weary. They need rest and none of us can escape that. It is the only way we have a chance to recover, to recharge, for our bodies to repair, restore, and rebuild.

There cannot only be output; eventually, we would have nothing left to put out. As with all things in life, there is a cycle; we must have input, too, of new ideas, of food, of time spent doing things we love. We are like lakes, requiring a fresh source of water to keep us from getting stagnant, a river flowing in on one side, and out on the other. In between, the surface of the lake is still, but at its depths, there is life, growth and movement.

Many cultures have the right idea about the importance of naps. In some countries, everything shuts down for a while in the afternoon.  What a brilliant plan. It's one of my favourite things about Spain, where you can sit for hours in a restaurant after it closes for the afternoon, and there you are eating olives and bread, drinking wine, while the staff disappears into the back for their own siesta as you relax for a while.

But we seem to think we're slackers if we have a little down time during the day, even if we're not getting nearly enough sleep at night. We continue to tear through our lives at 90 miles an hour like our hair is on fire.

Then we wonder why we have significant health problems, anxiety disorders or depression. We are not machines. Even the strongest warrior needs to rest; we are not defective because we can't work 27 hours a day.

If you are at all able to have a wee nap sometimes, when your energy slumps and you begin to droop, please listen to your body's wisdom. If you can set an alarm and doze off in an empty office or in your car on your lunch break, or if you can get children settled quietly doing something so you can have even 20 minutes' rest, you will be so much better for it.

Memories are sharper, moods are improved, health is better, creativity returns, and there is a far greater sense of wellbeing than when we drag ourselves through every day, so tired we don't know what to do with ourselves. When we are rested and refreshed, we are healthier, happier, and more productive.

Be nice to yourself. Take a little 'time out'. Have a delicious little snooze when you get the chance. It doesn't take much to make a big difference.

Sweet dreamzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....................

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Friends: Your Own Personal Cheerleaders

For many of us, the notion of trying something new is a really big, scary prospect and not everyone is up for the challenge. For those of us who are brave enough to dive in and give it a shot, it's natural to be lacking in confidence to one degree or another.

However, the only way to build confidence is to learn more about whatever it is you're doing, and to practice. And when it comes right down to it, if all it takes is some practice to enable you to see that you are getting better at something, that's pretty darned simple.

It's one thing when you can practice by yourself and it doesn't matter whether you mess up, get it wrong, or look silly. But many of us squirm and sweat at least a little over the possibility of looking foolish in front of others.

I remember a time when friends asked me to practice something with them that I had only just barely begun to learn.

Because I loved and trusted those women, I agreed. I was painfully nervous - which was even more painfully obvious - but I knew they understood. I knew they wanted me to do well and they were trying to help me by encouraging me.

By the end of it, I was amazed at how much improvement I felt in myself. It wasn't something that anyone would have seen as much as it was something that I could feel. I still had such a long way to go, but at least I felt like the train had left the station!  

There was a time when I would never have dared take such a chance. I would have been far too embarrassed to make mistakes, to get something wrong, and to look like a fool. In the past, my fear of failure had been enormous and debilitating. I'd shot myself in the foot on numerous occasions because of it.

But thank heaven for healing, and thank heaven for wonderful friends. All of us can use a cheering section, a group of people who will support us, urge us on, encourage us to try, who will help us learn, and who will still love us when we get it wrong. Thank heaven for people who push us to stretch ourselves, who let us make mistakes - and who will cheer us on for having done so.

Building confidence takes time. Some of it has to come from going about your life, sticking your toes in the water - or perhaps spreading your wings and leaping off a cliff. But when you have the opportunity to have friends listen, or be your guinea pigs, or let you take a crack at something that requires their involvement, then do yourself a favour and let them.

They are your friends. They love you. They want you to do well. They want you to succeed. So what if you look a little goofy? Your friends will smile with you and will encourage you to carry on.

When you are confident in yourself and in your abilities, the world doesn't feel so scary. You feel a sense of control in your life, which will have far-reaching effects. Confidence - or a lack of it - will influence every decision you make.

Lacking confidence will keep you stuck in unhappy situations that are rife with fear and anxiety. Seize any opportunity to build your confidence and if that means calling in your friends to help, then just remember that it's what you would want to do for them if they needed you. Don't think for a moment that you're imposing on them if you know you'd do the same in reverse. They want you to be at your best, do your best, be successful, just as you would like for them. True friends will simply want to help you get there.

Just appreciate that and let them do their Friend Thing!

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Eyes On Your Own Paper

Are you frustrated with where you are in your life? Are you beating yourself up because you aren't in as great a position as others, or as you'd hoped you would be? Do you find yourself comparing your abilities, your training and your progress to others'?

Each of us is an individual. Each of us walks a separate and distinct path from everyone else on the planet. Yes, we have some similarities but we are all unique and in our totality, we will be different from everyone else. So it makes no sense to compare anything about yourself to anyone else, not in a way that leaves you feeling defective, incomplete, inadequate, or anything else remotely negative.

Where you are on your journey is simply that. It's where you are, right here, right now. You must not minimise what you're doing at any particular time in your life.

Just recognise it for what it is. You're at this stage in your development, and that's that.

Do not forget that you are further along than where you were a week ago, a year ago, or five or ten years ago. As time has passed, you've been busy learning, acquiring skills, knowledge, and practice. So you know a lot more now than you did at any time prior to this moment.

It's true, you know less now than you will in the future, but so what? That's the same for everyone else. No one is better than you because he or she appears to be more successful.

That is a very subjective term and does not necessarily encompass any marks of true achievement. Appearances can be ridiculously deceiving.

See your own individual progress, because the only real measure of it is where you began and where you are now. No one else can walk your path; no one else's will be like yours.

Whatever others are doing (or not) is irrelevant.

Stop looking at anyone else's paper. Appreciate how far you've come. Accept where you are. Look forward to where you want to be.

Yours is the only journey with which you need to be concerned.  Celebrate it for what it is; you're exactly where you're supposed to be.

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If Your Words Are Not Helpful, Keep Them to Yourself

I really can't stand negative and fearful talk. I don't see any point in it. What good can possibly come from that? None. But it can cause a whole lot of damage.

I've known a few people like that in my life. It's one thing to have a conversation with someone about specific concerns during the decision-making process, when many factors need to be taken into account. But once there is a decision, there is absolutely no point in going on and on about all the possible things that could go wrong.

The only thing worse than offering an unsolicited opinion is offering an unsolicited opinion that is destructive, whether or not that was the intent. Speaking without specifically having positive intentions is a dangerous road to travel.

It sucks when there you are, already doing battle with your fears, shoving them aside as best you can, when people start launching them back in your face. What if this doesn't work? What if that fails? What are you going to do if...

Maybe you've now got yourself into something that you can't easily undo, and you must carry on with your plan. But there are those Negative Nellies who seem to think it's necessary to keep feeding your fears. For some reason, they keep asking, "What if your worst fear comes true??"

Or perhaps you have an idea, a dream. Bravely, you share your excitement and your plans with someone. And the response is, "That will never work." Or "What's the point?" or "You wouldn't be able to do that."

Your heart sinks. You feel deflated. You agree, "What's the point?" and you give up before you've even tried.

There will always be those people who burst your bubble, or who focus on fear and pessimism, and who feed these to you as often as they can get you to choke them down. I'm sure it's their own fears, failures, shattered dreams and bad experiences that make them say such things.

But whatever it is that drives them to do this, you must never let anyone else shoot you down. Tell them how you feel. Tell them to keep their negativity to themselves and if they have nothing good to say, nothing positive, useful, helpful - or at least innocuous - then tell them not to bother saying anything at all.

Negative, fearful talk just weighs people down, holds them back, and keeps them stuck. And if you are one of those people who just has to fret and worry out loud, telling people all the things they should be fearing, or that might go wrong, or if you keep offering unsolicited negative opinions, stop.

It's one thing to raise legitimate concerns. It's another to keep harping on all the negatives after a decision has been made.

Be positive. Be uplifting. Be encouraging. Especially if you know the listener is already concerned about the same issues and is trying to move forward and overcome the obstacles. Your added negativity will only make the situation worse.

As humans, we are already primed and ready to be fearful, to worry, or to be anxious, and especially when it comes to anything pertaining to our survival. Fear takes away our power, and when we feel disempowered, we become less productive, more stressed and more anxious.

When someone keeps reminding you that you might fail, or that everything will go wrong, it's easy to slide into that kind of thinking, making it oh, so much easier to attract the thing you fear the most because you are no longer feeling strong or confident. And that can affect your ability to make good decisions.

It is not loving or helpful to remind people that their biggest fear might become a reality. If you have to say anything at all, give them strength by encouraging them, focusing on their strengths, or strategizing about how to handle potential pitfalls. Remind them of their courage and their ability to stay calm and focused. Help them find solutions. Focus on the possibilities and remind them that they are powerful, resourceful people.

If what you have to say in any conversation is not going to be helpful, or at least innocuous, then keep it to yourself.

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Your Vulnerability Is Your Greatest Asset

It is time to risk sharing your feelings and stop fearing the judgement of others. You might fear letting people see “the real you” but if you always let this stop you from truly being yourself, you will never know the full extent of your capabilities and gifts.

Rather than keeping your feelings to yourself so no one can judge you for them, you would be better served by learning to trust that you are entitled to feel however you want to feel. Sure, some people might disagree with you or even criticise you, but so what? 

You don’t have to let it bother you. They can feel however they want - and so can you. Your thoughts and feelings are a reflection of who you are and no one has a right to judge you. 

In fact, more often than not, when people are spouting angry, judgemental nastiness at others, they are really talking to themselves. Let them rant all they want; you don’t have to take it on board unless what they say really hits home and stirs something in you that you know you would love to change or improve.

Some people will understand and appreciate your feelings; others will not. Just as you can relate to certain people and their situations, no doubt there are others that you just can’t figure out no matter how hard you try. At the end of the day, all of us are essentially the same. All of us feel fear, hurt, anger, and embarrassment as easily as we feel love, joy and happiness. 

When you hold yourself back from others and don’t let them see the truth of who you are, you don’t let yourself see it either. Better to come from a place of having faith and confidence in yourself for being who you’re meant to be, and bravely letting the world see who that is. 

By allowing yourself to be vulnerable and authentic, you will connect with the world in a much more deep and meaningful way. 

Muslim Pressure on Subway Restaurants Reeks of 1930s Germany and Jews

International fast food chain Subway has just set a dangerous - and outrageous - precedent.

By knuckling under pressure from Muslims to keep all pork products out of its shops, it becomes easier for more of the same to occur in other restaurants, stores and who knows what else down the road.

To start, no more delicious BLTs, spicy Italian, or Italian BMT sandwiches loaded with pepperoni, sausage and ham. Gone will be the yummy steak and bacon, or steak and chorizo combinations that are so popular at Subway. 

Their breakfast sandwiches consist of eggs, pork sausage and bacon. But because some people choose to be Muslim, they've ruined Subway breakfast for the rest of us. Pork substitutes just don't cut it! I want the real thing!

I'm so far beyond disgusted and outraged, there are simply no words for it.

Am I anti-Muslim? Of course not. But I am definitely against people cramming their beliefs down other people's throats to the point where such a decision as this has been made.

At the height of Mad Cow Disease in 1996, Oprah Winfrey was practically lynched after hearing the horrors of the disease and making an off-the-cuff comment about not wanting to eat beef again. Because of her considerable influence on the public, she was accused of potentially damaging the entire beef industry. 

Yet with Muslims pressuring Subway into this ridiculous decision, they are potentially damaging a highly successful business - just as Oprah was accused of doing. She was taken to Court for it, but it's the Muslims' right to singlehandedly upset millions of Subway customers? How does that work?

And even if Oprah's followers decided to go off beef because of her reactive comment, it would have been their choice, whereas Muslims have taken away our choice to enjoy beloved food items - items that no one is forcing the Muslims to even eat!

Speaking for myself, and purely on principle, I know that there is no way I will be setting foot in a UK Subway again.

What worries me most is "What's next?" Are the Jews going to shut down every burger joint on the planet from Wendy's to McDonald's to Burger King for serving burgers with cheese? After all, it is against Jewish law to mix meat and dairy products to the point where Kosher homes use two sets of dishes, two sets of utensils and two fridges - one for meat products and one for dairy. 

Or maybe the Hindus will outdo the Jews on the issue of eating sacred cows, going one step further and insisting that no beef can be served anywhere. Will English pubs be legally prevented from serving a long-standing British favourite, steak and ale pie? Will they force the extremely popular Keg Steak House to disappear from Canada and the USA? Will supermarkets no longer be allowed to sell beef products, right down to the last tin of consommé?

And if we're going to outlaw pork and beef, then it's just a heartbeat until we must outlaw eating any animal or fish or anything at all that used to draw breath. Vegetarians will rise against those of us who dare eat the flesh of a living being and in another heartbeat or two, the vegans will jump on the bandwagon and no one will be allowed to eat egg or dairy products either.

Imagine what all shops and restaurants will look like globally once everyone with a "beef" about eating - or not eating - certain products gets his or her say and the rest of us be damned. All of us will be forced to eat nothing but plants and nuts - although if the brilliant television producer Chuck Lorre is correct, that could be a significant issue too (see his hilarious and thought-provoking Vanity Card #536 here).

You can only go so far when stretching boundaries and eventually, you meet yourself coming back. When an issue that is supposedly about tolerance and accepting others' religious beliefs and rights reaches the point where it then impinges upon the rights of others, what began as an issue of inclusivity suddenly turns into exclusivity. A poor excuse for an attempt not to discriminate (if that's what we're calling this outrageous move by Subway) suddenly turns into one of the biggest potentials for racial and religious discrimination that this world has ever seen. Heaven only knows what kind of anger and violent repercussions this could cause...

Perhaps all the non-Muslims should start bullying their way into the Halal shops, food markets and restaurants. Seems fair to me that if they're going to insist that Subway (or anyone else) cater to their specific preferences, then I guess the rest of us should be able to do the same thing to them. 

I can't imagine walking into a Halal shop or restaurant, accusing the owners of discriminating against me for not having my beloved bacon products, and demand that they bring on the pig. And I sure as hell can't imagine doing it to the point where eventually they cave and allow pork in all of their stores. Such arrogance is absolutely beyond me.

Why can't they just open their own damned pork-free sub sandwich shops with all the Halal products they like? There's no need to muscle the pork products out of an internationally established restaurant chain and force them to turf foods and menu items that millions of non-Muslim customers love. 

Subway, you're now discriminating against all non-Muslims. And not only have you given Muslims a precedent by which they can pressure other restaurants and shops globally, you have opened the door to more and more intolerance and pressure by other religions against even more establishments. The word "Hitler" comes to mind...

You have just opened one giant can of worms and I fear what comes next because you buckled under the pressure. 

I cannot imagine what on earth would possess you to make such an insanely stupid move...unless...most of your decision-makers are Muslim??

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Don't Let Excuses Block Your Path to Happiness

So. You're thinking of doing something that's difficult. Or perhaps you think it's impossible, or that it won't be particularly successful.

Maybe it's something you have to do, even if you don't want to do it. Either way, you're having trouble figuring out how on earth to do it.

You come up with an objection. There's this "thing" in the way and that's why it won't work. Maybe someone offers a solution; you might even think of your own. But then there's another "thing" in the way, another roadblock. And the longer you sit there, dreading doing it (or dreading that it won't work), the less you're inclined to try.

Instead, you keep coming up with one obstacle after another. And the hours and the days keep ticking along right past you.

Still, it needs to be done, or you really want it to be done, but nothing has changed, although you do have a lovely selection of obstacles, roadblocks and excuses stockpiled for future reference.

There will always be a reason not to do something. Whether you want to find it or not, there will always be yet another potential problem standing between you and a difficult challenge.

It won't get easier if you drag your heels. It will only grow in your imagination, becoming much more of a mountain than a molehill and the longer you put it off, the more difficult it will seem.

I was always one to encourage my children to try something new. When they hesitated, unsure about whether or not they could do a particular thing, I asked, "How will you know unless you try?" 

That seemed reasonable to them and all of them would try without another thought - and usually with very positive results. All except for one of them, that is. For some reason, one of my sons would always say, "I can't!" before he tried. It took a fair bit of convincing to get him to believe that maybe, juuust maybe, he could.

If no one ever tried anything new, we'd still be sitting around waiting for Thag to chisel a wheel out of a chunk of stone. Sure, there will always be failures but so what? The successes are worth the attempts, and besides, you only fail when you stop trying.

Samuel Johnson summed it up rather nicely: "Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."

Exactly. You can sit around and come up with one objection after another, as long as you want to avoid actually doing something. But that'll never get you anywhere.

Don't let excuses block your path to progress and success. They'll only send you down a very miserable detour on a dead-end road.

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The Art of Receiving

You might find it the easiest thing in the world to give to others but perhaps you aren’t so good at receiving. You might find it hard enough to say “yes” when help is offered and feel like it’s downright impossible to ask for it. 

But receiving can be a sacred act when your intention is to honour your Spirit, as well as the Spirit of the giver. When you receive with a humble and open heart, it is a holy act and especially when you are receiving much-needed nurturing.

I know you love to give, but if you are not nurtured, eventually you will be entirely depleted and exhausted. There will be nothing for you to give. You can find many ways to nurture yourself, to honour and respect yourself and be gentle with yourself while you re-energise. And when others love and care for you, it is important for you to graciously allow them to nurture you, too.

You must remember that giving and receiving are two halves of a beautiful, sacred whole. You cannot have one without the other. 

And when someone is offering help from a place of genuine care and support, if you don’t accept that help you’re depriving them of experiencing the joy of giving from the heart. 

It is a blessing to give, and it is a blessing to receive. Allow yourself to step into the fullness and wholeness of that perfect cycle and receive the blessings that others want to give to you.

Your Troubles Clear the Way for Something Better...

You thought this passage you’ve been through would never end. Just as certain that the light of the world fades every few months, it makes its return and the Earth rejoices. The fresh breath of spring sweeps away the cobwebs acquired from the absence of the light. The light is now obviously increasing as Nature begins to emerge in all her many forms, shapes and colours that remind us of the continual cycles of Earth Mother.

This cycle of rebirth you are experiencing follows a considerably challenging time. Any tears you may have shed have cleared the way for what has been gestating, which is now ripe and ready to emerge. That which no longer serves you needs to be put to rest so that a freshness and newness of spirit can make itself known to you.

Sometimes birth can be painful, particularly in that passage just before delivery, yet what emerges can be fresh and beautiful. Be with the emergence of this next cycle with faith and grace.

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Metamorphosis: Not Just for Caterpillars...

About a million years ago (or so it seems - I was still at school), I read "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka. I did not really "get it." But then, I was young, just beginning my own evolution - which, decades later, is still ongoing (exactly as it should be).

"The Metamorphosis" is the story of an unhappy man, Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who lives with his family and awakens one day to discover that he has transformed into an enormous beetle-like creature. To make a long and very peculiar story short, no one takes the change very well. They avoid him, they fear him, and they shun him. They do not speak to him. His voice and speech have changed; he speaks to them yet they do not understand him, nor do they try.

There are attempts to treat him as they did when he was in human form. There are attacks on his body. There is ridicule, there is weeping. There is persecution and a stubborn refusal to accept who he has become.

Eventually, Gregor's love for his family makes him see that they will never accept him for who he has become. He sees that his metamorphosis is only causing them pain, embarrassment and unhappiness. He is unable to leave his room, or leave their home. So in order to spare his family any more suffering, he crawls into his bed and dies.

It seems most peculiar to me that I did not understand this story when I read it so long ago, when in fact, I was living it then, and I'm still living it now. I suppose I took it too literally and couldn't work out why someone would write a story about a salesman who turned into a giant beetle.

Throughout much of my life, no one understood me, or bothered to try. But then, for many of those years, I did not understand myself either.

Thankfully, this changed a few decades ago when I embarked on an ongoing journey of self-discovery. I've reinvented myself several times, with the most dramatic changes occurring in the last several years. I'm blessed to have some people in my life who welcome and embrace those changes, and who understand them and appreciate them.

For decades, many people have judged me rather harshly for making those changes. They seemed unwilling - or perhaps unable - to understand me, or the changes I was making. And they didn't even want to try.

It is one thing to dislike or reject change in oneself or one's own environment. But it something else entirely to stubbornly refuse to accept change in someone else.

This is where the first cracks appear between people, as change can signal the impending death of a relationship, a friendship, or a business arrangement. How each of them accepts the change - or doesn't - will determine the outcome of their association.

Others see in us what they want to see. A mother sees her grown children as her babies. A father sees his married daughter as "Daddy's little girl." Adult siblings still see each other as the pains in the neck they remember as kids - and sometimes still rival for the attention and affection of their parents.

Although it may seem sweet and sentimental to cling to the past, and to former identities and relationships, it is not a healthy way to live. Change is inevitable. For some of us, there is a lot more of it than for others.

Like many others, I've had a fair number of extremely challenging experiences and circumstances throughout my life. They have allowed me to continue to grow, to learn and to evolve, like a snake shedding the skin it has outgrown. And by sharing what I've learned through my willingness to change, I'm able to assist others through their difficulties or their desire for transformation in their lives.

Think about that word for a moment. "Trans" means across or beyond - so "transform" is rather like "beyond the form". The entire form or structure of something has changed, like a metamorphosis, in which something goes from one state to a completely different one - eg. a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

For people who are experiencing this kind of transformation, or metamorphosis, it is beautiful, empowering, and freeing. But for those who are left behind, it can be frightening and lonely unless they choose to understand or at least accept and acknowledge the evolution.

There are those people who will be able to do this. And there are those who will not. Some people are simply unable to comprehend such dramatic changes. It is not a flaw, not any more so than needing change is a flaw. It is just one of many differences between people.

It is one of the most difficult ones because it means some people move forward and into new situations, new lives, new ways of thinking - and some do not. When this happens, two people who were once traveling at a similar pace and in a similar direction are no longer even on the same road. One will have wandered off down a side road, taking a detour, disappearing into the trees on another path to discover Parts Unknown.

Change, evolution, transformation, metamorphosis...these are necessary for life to continue. At a very basic level, our cells die, and new ones are created all the time. If not for this, our bodies could not grow. Nor could they heal from damage or recover from illness.

But think about how we began - two tiny little cells that merged into one. And look at us now. If that isn't the most astonishing metamorphosis, I don't know what is. As I said earlier, if we didn't change, we'd still be sitting around, waiting for Thag to chisel a wheel out of a chunk of stone.

Change is a part of life. Greater change allows a greater life. And if you want to go the distance and transform your life, you must transform yourself. There may be people who throw themselves on the path, grab you by the ankles and try to hold you back. But if you allow this, you will not be happy.

It can be painful to leave those possessions, those places, or those people we love, and move forward in our lives. But sometimes it must be done if we are to pursue our own freedom, express our own individuality and uniqueness, and discover our own greatness.

And if everyone did that, just imagine what a magnificent world this would be...

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Love Does Not Conquer All

Yeah, I know there are millions of love songs and romantic films and stories about the greatest love that ever existed. And I know that when you're in love, you think it will last forever.

I know, too, how it feels to believe that your love is so strong, it can survive anything, will withstand anything, and that no matter how much you or your partner might change you will overcome any obstacle that is thrown at you.

I know - all too well - about making a promise to love each other "for better or worse" and most of the time, people really mean it when they say it.

But I also know - all too well - that sometimes love is simply not enough.

There are a couple of very important factors that contribute to this harsh reality. One is the emotional baggage that we carry with us. Another is change.

First, the emotional baggage. My goodness, the damage it can do...bad enough when we know what it is, but when we don't - when we haven't spent any real time discovering what makes us tick, and overcoming past wounds - we will unwittingly contaminate relationships, despite our best intentions.

This gets us in trouble with the "for better or worse" part of marriage. People seem to take this to mean, "I'll love you even if you abuse me. I'll love you if you betray me. I'll love you if you disrespect me, cheat on me, lie to me, violate me, do things behind my back that you know you shouldn't do."

Frankly, none of that kind of behaviour has anything to do with love. I think "for worse" means when we lose jobs, or there are financial troubles or someone wants to change careers and it means a lot of upheaval for the family. Or perhaps there's the offer of a transfer to another city - or country - and one person doesn't want to go. Nobody's right or wrong; there are just obstacles to be overcome.

To my mind, "For worse" refers to the curveballs in life. It should not mean intolerable, unacceptable, unloving behaviour that undermines the whole point and purpose of marriage. Even without the legal tie, or that specific promise, those behaviours are still unacceptable. They are not about love. They have nothing to do with how we should be treating the person we say we love above all others on the planet.

We like to think that loving someone and trying to make a relationship work in such circumstances will bring about positive change. But, when the other person repeatedly refuses to seek help or make an honest attempt to change his or her ways, you're wasting your time.

I've been in too many relationships that were like that, each of us with our own issues that contributed to an unhealthy situation, one of mine often being that I did not respect or value myself enough to stop accepting unacceptable behaviour.

Change is another potential serial killer of relationships. It slaughters couples, silently, over a long period of time, divergence gradually poisoning their happiness until it exists only in their memories. When there is nothing much to talk about, virtually no common ground, a shared dream, a meeting of the minds - and more importantly, no desire to find a way to make it work in spite of the differences - it is time to move on.

And what about a couple that starts out in the same, but then one person changes and grows away from it and into something different, perhaps even something contradictory and then the whole foundation for the relationship is threatened? Should that person be forced to pretend and carry on living a lie, feeling suffocated and unhappy? Or should the other person be forced to change, too, even if it doesn't fit or feel good? I'm sure many people have found a way to make this work. But what about the ones who haven't?

No matter how much people love one another, we are not put on this planet to compromise and suffocate ourselves, or to tolerate disrespect. We are meant to thrive and to be happy, not to stay tied to toxic situations because of love.

What about loving yourself enough to leave a relationship that is destructive? To my mind, that's about the only kind of love that can "conquer all." Self-love automatically means self-respect. Combined, these help us to find our power and inner strength. This is what allows us to become truly happy and fulfilled. It is in this fulfillment that we will find deep and rewarding happiness and accomplishment. And it's from this place that we can offer the most love.

It would be wonderful if love could be as easy as the songs and poems say it is, and if that's all it took to glue two people together and make them happy. But it's not and I've seen it up close and personal more times than I care to remember. I know how it feels to walk away from someone I loved very much because to do anything else would be self-destructive.

I had always believed that as long as I loved someone, I figured I was obliged to keep trying to make it work. Even through abusive and dysfunctional behaviour, I kept hoping, trusting and believing that somehow, love would be enough to make it better.

And then I had a profound realisation that changed everything. Loving someone is one thing. But that doesn't mean you have to stay with that person and keep trying to make things right. You do not have to continue to beat your head against a wall, attempting to resuscitate something that cannot (and should not) survive.

You're wasting your time. Because sadly, love does not conquer all.

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