You may not be responsible for being down, but you must be responsible for getting up. Jesse Jackson
OMG! WHAT A YEAR?! I am not given to using the term ‘OMG’ but it’s hard to find words to describe the year we have had. I have shared that I, like most of us, have had a bit of a roller coaster of a year. So glad that I have different ‘tools’ to get me through the dark times but also glad that I have the same ‘tools’ that help me recognise when there are things to be grateful for, as well as times to celebrate. Often, when we’re on a bumpy journey, it’s easy to dismiss or not take time to notice little gems that happen along the way.
I think that this is where Mindfulness can truly make a difference. It enables us to notice that, in this moment, we are ok, we might even be smiling, we have a roof over our heads, we have food on the table, and that means we have something to be grateful for. It might not always be like that, but again, mindfulness teaches us that nothing lasts forever, things are always changing, and this too will pass.
This year has made a lot of us STOP! Many of us have been forced to re-evaluate our lives. Many have lost jobs and so many more continue to live in uncertainty, unsure if businesses, along with their jobs, will survive. As a musician, I am painfully aware of how many are unemployed, with little optimism for the near future. The Arts is only one sector, among so many, decimated by the restrictions currently in place, as we battle against the Coronavirus.
But let’s turn it around, this year has maybe given us an opportunity. I have heard of so many people saying how having to slow down has let them see how their lives had been moving at far too fast a pace. Yes, there have been many additional stresses, but we have also had time to reflect on what is truly important to us.
When I first set out on my path two years ago, as AndBreathe123, my step-mum told me that it would take five years before the business would begin to tick over comfortably. I listened, but I know that I didn’t completely take her experience and wisdom on board! Two years in and I admit it hasn’t been easy. The dark days and weeks of this year have made me look very closely at what I really want to do in my life. I have questioned every part of my life and looked deep within myself.
So, how do I want to be living my life and with whom?! At the top of my list are my grandkids and kids (in that order, so please don’t tell my kids!) and my friends. Spending time, preferably outdoors and in the hills, with those I love, is what I have missed most of all this year. I do enjoy living alone but I realise how much I rely on being able to ‘drop in’ to see people. Those informal, casual visits have not been possible this year and I have missed that social contact. As we progress through Covid, I intend to find ways of creating a more consistent social calendar (physically distanced of course). So far, that has meant that I have begun booking various friends for dog walks and beginning to explore more outdoor swimming opportunities!
I am not independently wealthy, so work must come in somewhere! Sharing my tools as AndBreathe123, is most definitely what I want to be doing. I love the interaction with people; sharing mindfulness, 16 Guidelines and working as an EFT practitioner. It takes time to build up a solid base of clients and I am in it for the long haul. My work with teenagers and adults in the outdoors, benefit me, just as much as the participants, and it is heartening to see that these sessions are beginning to be consistently booked up.
Alongside AndBreathe123, I continue to teach flute, which is something I have done for nearly 40 years now! I may also continue to have extra jobs, here and there, until AndBreathe123 IS ticking over comfortably. I feel privileged to continue encouraging and supporting others, as they explore different ways to nurture and support their mental health and wellbeing. I do appreciate your support and hope that you are also in it for the long haul!
I would love to know how this year has either changed or consolidated how you view your life.
PS I did smile when I chose 'Courage', as the guidelines for December.
'Courage: To accept responsibilities and challenges with determination and equanimity.'
16 Guidelines Handbook
Let's all be courageous as we meet the challenges of the weeks ahead. Roll on 2020!
Here we are in November already?! It’s been a typically dark, dismal, dreary November day. Leading up today, I have also felt dark, dismal and dreary, but today has seen a turnaround. The seasonal challenge of overly dark days has really affected me in the past few weeks, especially since the hour change. The curtain of darkness has pulled me down in all sorts of ways. Over the years, I have created a well stocked 'toolkit', which I use to balance out the impact of SAD (Seasonal Adjusted Disorder). However, this year, with the additional challenges of the pandemic, those strategies have not quite kept the side effects of SAD at bay. It came to a head this week, leaving me feeling that every part of my life was unsettled and I found myself focusing on the negatives, rather than the positives.
What did I do to address this slump?
16 Guidelines: 'Contentment - The art of being satisfied with who we are and what we have.
Contentment has the potential to:
A 16 Guidelines view on contentment
Contentment is a state of mind that has nothing to do with money, objects, or other people. Nor does it concern itself with how much we have, or how little. Instead, it’s about finding a point of stillness within ourselves which allows us to be quietly happy whatever our situation might be, and to be at peace with who we are.
How do we experience contentment? It can be as easy – and yet as radical – as taking a breath in, and deciding to release everything that makes us feel anxious and dissatisfied as we breathe out. Try settling deeply and quietly in a traffic jam, in the middle of an argument, or when tears are close. Let the commotion of the world simply come to rest. Is it possible to taste the experience of surrender and release?
Unless we learn to live in the moment, and to accept it as it is, we may never function well or feel fully alive. Contentment releases us from the restless desires that drive us blindly forward, and which prevent us from being open to the needs and gifts of others. It frees us up to direct our energy in fresh and more conscious ways. Can we discover how to enjoy contentment despite the hurry and worry of our contemporary existence?
Thank you for reading this far! AndBreathe... is a very exciting venture and I am glad you have joined me on the journey!