Thursday, 25 February 2021

A Birth Day Greeting


Working away in the garden today while a faithful friend lies by๐Ÿพ. Significant birthday as I have now outlived my dear mum who passed away all too early and yet is looking down on us ever since.

Wondering how to proceed during this lock-down for the upcoming month of March as my videos are coming to an end and what I've decided is to dedicate each day of the week to each of the seven well-being skills that I'm advocating in my upcoming online course. I'll then share, God help me, how I get on with that particular skill on that day ๐Ÿ˜ and if anyone wants to join in in anyway please feel free to do so.

In the meantime I'll share a few more videos on these last few days of February. May you be well and happy and thanks for reading to you who is still here at the end๐Ÿ’“

This young man was travelling the world and decided to do a gratitude dance wherever he went while his girlfriend filmed it. They since got sponsored to travel even further and record more gratitude dances with people of all cultures.






Monday, 22 February 2021

Tolerating Discomfort...

The following video was created last April when restrictions were beginning to ease off. Let's hope this is equally the case this year. For a direct youtube link click here



Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Monday, 1 February 2021

Why Would I Want Humility...

For the next month I'll be uploading videos made during and for the lockdown, around Character Strength which are the qualities we admire in each other, whick make this world a better place for all of us to live in.


Sunday, 31 January 2021

Dream On..


Tommy Tiernan's interviews with surprise guests is my favourite RTE program. Last night Baz Ashmawy spoke about how he had experienced racism due to being half Egyptian and how he spent two years living with his dad in Egypt as a teenager. He spoke about a friend crying in his arms and the importance of being vulnerable.

Then Manchan Magan shared how he didn't fit into school. How he didn't fit into the world of competition and wouldn't be able to handle a mortgage. And so for the €10,000 he inherited from his granny he bought ten acres of land where he planted lots of oak tresses and built his own house out of straw and cement.

Interestingly, both Manchan and Baz spoke about being dreamers. Manchan spoke about connection to a different world and having to ground himself as he feels so connected elsewhere than here on earth.

Two wonderful men who are showing us that there are multiple ways of living our lives, two people who are being true to who they are and sharing a lot of goodness and love with the rest of us through their public appearances. 

May we all have the courage to dream on...and follow that dream wherever it takes us.


Saturday, 30 January 2021

Letting Go..


I do like, to my detriment, to be known to be perfect. And so it humiliates me when someone contradicts me in front of others, when someone ignores me on a zoom or when someone doesn't take an interest in me when I put myself out to be interested in them. That's one side of the coin.

The other side of the coin is that I'm good at forgiving and opening my heart to that very person but it does take a bit of processing. This is where my intense study of Jesus' life comes in handy because I experience that to be genuinely good and worthwhile. And then I think about how Jesus did everything to heal, be kind, be caring and helpful to people and yet he was ignored, rejected and eventually killed.

But what I love about that story is that he re-appeared and his story is still alive today. For me this is where I put my faith: that when a person loves, they cannot be destroyed. Not really, the body might be annihilated but the spirit will live on - for ever. 

And so it doesn't matter if I look the fool or if I'm ignored or insignificant to some people, what matters is that I love them. I look at their true self which is a loving heart covered up perhaps by childish fears or societal pressures. And so maybe I caught them at a weak moment but ultimately there is a caring inner core full of kindness and goodness within them, and everyone of us.

And so to forgive oneself and forgive each other for being so not tuned in at times, for forgetting what it's really all about. That each one of us is created in the image and likeness of love and goodness, and that really is all that matters.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Everything is Perfect?


'Everything is perfect in this imperfect world' was the motto of a dear friend Kevin Jacobsen who passed away some years ago. With a number of young people he founded the Servants of Love community a monastic community dedicated to seeing what they call God's goodness and love in everything. And the funny thing is, that once you keep looking for it, you see it.

And so when I get into conflict with somebody who for example puts down a person that I admire, and is not interested in hearing my side of the story, I get upset but I know that I need to somehow manage to find something good in that situation otherwise I remain upset.

And so I wreck my brain but nothing changes because pondering on the conflict only upsets me more. And so I realise that instead I need to activate my heart. I need to see behind the upsetting words of another, look at the passion they have to defend their point of view and be happy for them that they feel strongly about something because that's a gift. 

And so I cannot be happy about what they say but I can be happy that we human beings have the freedom to choose what to believe. I can agree to disagree and wish them well on their journey to wherever they are going. Wish them love because that is all that matters in the end for any of us.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Courage to Being Who You Are..


Jane Fonda of all people, married to billionaire Ted Turner said she had to leave him in order to be free to be who she was. She still loves him, she lived in big mansions, had incredible clothes and could get everything she wanted and yet she decided to leave it all and end up in her daughter's little spare room with her retriever. But it was perfect, she said. She had to let go of needing to be validated by a man and instead take the freedom to be who she was.

James Joyce writes about his character Mr Duffy 'who lived a short distance from his body'. Isn't it a struggle we all have, to cut through the BS (pardon the language) and get down to who we really are. It's so much easier to blame others for what's wrong when really in life, nothing is wrong except when we are untrue to who we really are.

And who we really are, is a loving, caring entity. You see it in many older people, they soften, they start doting more on children and are grateful for everything. Some people of course become bitter and narky, perhaps because they haven't dared to connect to their inner goodness and love. They might somehow have gotten damaged, and it's not up to us to judge them, our job is to pour in so much more love to make up for what's missing.

As I get nearer the end of my one month blogs my blogs are getting shorter because the message is always the same: we are loved and our 'job' is to become a conduit of that love to those around us. Nothing more and nothing less.


Wednesday, 27 January 2021

What Do I Have to Give?


Something in our human nature wants to be generous and make a difference in the world but that can be quickly squashed by competition and negative comments. We're like a Jekyll and Hyde, part of us wants to be generous and share while another part wants to defend and hold on to what we have. What will it be?

We might feel quite inadequate, and we are, and yet when we tune in to that loving goodness that lives deep within each one of us, when we allow this unconditional love to come to the surface and guide us, we suddenly are fulfilled. We suddenly feel powerful and safe. We suddenly have a direction: the direction of pouring love and kindness into the world in whatever shape we can manage. 

Everyone is in need of love so let's reach out to one another in love and with love in whatever form that makes sense to us.

 



Tuesday, 26 January 2021

You'll Never Be the Same..

Edith Eva Eger, the wonderful Holocaust survivor and specialist in post-traumatic stress disorder, still alive and kicking at the age of 93 describes in her memoir how she and her sister supported each other and the girls around them. 

At the end of the war they ended up buried alive in a heap of dead bodies. Somehow with a can of sardines they hadn't been able to open Eva was able to catch the flicker of a light and make one of the liberating soldiers aware that they were still alive. She and her sister were pulled out and nursed back to life as both were like skeletons. Her back was broken, but somehow she managed to never view herself as a victim. 

She always remembered her mother saying to her 'No one can take from you what you put in your own mind'. And she would keep saying to herself 'if I can survive today, I'll live another day'. 

Eva keeps repeating that it's not what happens, but what you do with it that matters. She emphasises that suffering can give you strength. No, you'll never be the same, she'll never be the same lovely young woman going to the Olympics as a gymnast, planning a beautiful life with her boyfriend, but today, she's a better person, a stronger person. 

Suffering and loss does change you. You'll never be the same, but when you connect with the power of love and goodness within and around you, you'll be stronger. You'll be better.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Trusting the Emptiness..


I'm not good with doing nothing but I'm learning. Trusting one's intuition to wait and ignoring the pressure to act can feel humiliating. The duty-bound person in me wants to come up with the goods, to keep working on a project, but I need to embrace the emptiness of the moment and trust that there's a reason why inspiration isn't there now. There's something within that needs to mature in order to know the next step.

With the covid pandemic, there're many extra factors at play which we must allow ourselves to absorb. Not being able to travel to see family and friends. Not being able to meet up to chat. Not knowing how quickly a friend will recover from the virus, not knowing if a flight for a necessary journey will be cancelled. Our hopes of travelling keep being postponed. 

We must go easy on ourselves - even though we don't feel anxious, there might be an underlying anxiety that needs to be addressed before we can expect to be back to 'business as usual'. An anxiety that can only be calmed through a continual renewed reminder that we're all one man- and womankind. We all have an invitation to connect to that loving kind presence within and around.

By travelling beyond our feelings of emptiness into the reality of a loving presence inside of us, by opening up to the presence of an amazing powerful love we can experience a sense of safety and purpose beyond the material world. We can discover a warmth and beauty that will sustain us and those around us. No matter what happens we're safe and we will be safe.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Our Story..


To be happy for someone else's success, for someone else's dream to come true, for someone else to succeed where we might have failed is a great challenge but also rewarding. Bitter sweet perhaps, but a challenge to be more true to ourselves and who we are.

Whether other people think there's competition is irrelevant, we can choose not to view the world in terms of winner or losers, success or failure, but rather thinking win/win. Rather believing that there's room for all. We can learn from each other, help each other and there's plenty to go around!

So rather than thinking we've been eclipsed by another, to believe that really, we are all the one. My success is your success and your success is my success. My failure is your failure and your failure is my failure. It is a beautiful way to live. A compassionate way to live where we travel with each other in goodness and love, rather than competing or calculating. We're sisters and brothers journeying and working apart but together towards a better world for everyone.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

My Story..


When I was 16 years old living in Norway I didn't really find education that helpful but I thought it would be most useful if I chose a language line even thought I'd rather have done the math's line with all the boys. And so to help my french I saved up for a language course in Vichy, France for a week.

In Vichy I was installed in some huge dormitory with 35 other young women. I had enough money to rent a bike for a day but never thought I needed much more until I discovered that everyone else spent the afternoons chatting and ordering drinks in the local cafes. And so I found myself alone in the dormitory with Barbara, who like me didn't join the gang.

It turned out that Barbara was reading the Bible and she asked if I wanted to join her. She seemed a nice young woman a few years older than myself and I thought 'well, I am a Catholic, so why not?' Something unusual started happening to me when we were reading, I suddenly discovered how interesting Jesus' life was in that he used kindness and love rather than violence or force to get his message across. He healed people and invited them to think for themselves what was the right course of action.

Looking back I can see that it happened at the time in my life when my mother had had a mental breakdown and had become unavailable to me regarding guidance or understanding. Nevertheless, it changed my life completely from the point of view that I started using Jesus' message of love for one's enemies and everyone else as a guiding voice in my life. From then on I read in the Bible every day to help me understand and remember it.

I don't think it matters much which religion or non-religion one has, what matters is that we each find a way to access that inner and outer goodness and love that exists in the world. Life is too short and painful not to.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Who Will Guide Me?


Animals seem to have an inbuilt guide enabling them to live in the moment and move forward when inclined to do so. We however seem to get easily confused about what direction to take. Perhaps, we don't want to lose out, perhaps we feel we might be judged by others if somehow we take the wrong direction. 

A priest recently assured me that their would be animals in heaven, I had to laugh and wonder why he was so eager to give me this message. He's usually quite rational but obviously he had discovered the innocence and beauty of animal and I thought it was wonderful.

But how do we know which direction to take, how do we have the courage to make a decision and move forward rather than allowing fear to paralyse us? For me it's difficult until I remember that there's a loving goodness available to guide me on my way. When in doubt I weigh up pros and cons and then allow that loving presence to tell me where to go. 

Of course I could just be imagining that there is such a guide, and I do imagine that Mary who was the mother of one of the greatest lovers of all: Jesus, who was willing to be killed rather than using violence or anger. I imagine her to be extremely wise and extremely tuned in to what's the most loving and sensible way forward.

I imagine her to give a direction when I'm not sure which path to take. And I have to say that it has always worked out. And I don't believe it matters much what we call, who we imagine, or how we get guidance, what's important is to tune in to that unending care and love that's there for me and for others, in me and around me. Nothing else really matters. All roads lead to Rome. All roads lead to more love, if we let them.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Is There Really A Here-After?

My brother 'passed on', as I like to put it, in the summer of 2019 and my dad in the winter of 2020. Some people believe there is nothing after death while others continue communicating with the persons gone before us. They speak to them, listen to them and spend time in their company. I'm one of those.

Of course, it's all in the mind. You could say the memory of the person triggers our imagination, a fantasy world that helps one deal better with the loss of a loved one. But to me it's not important whether other people believe I'm imagining it or not, I smile when I think of my dad and brother and all the other wonderful people I imagine them to meet and play with on 'the other side'. 

Perhaps, I'll get the shock of my life when I pass on that I just go into darkness and that's it, but in the meantime I've been happy and to me that counts for a lot. We can go through life focusing on our loss or we can go through life focusing on the gain those people might have, the beautiful place of goodness and love where we imagine them to be.

One way or another their spirit can live on through us, we can take on some of the good habits we so admired in them. Joe Biden who lost his wife and child and was left nursing back his two boys from the accident talks about honouring the memory of the loved ones by engaging in activities that they would approve of.

When Joe Biden's son Beau died in 2015 Joe overcame his grief by committing himself to continue the protection of children charity that his son had started in order to help abused children. 

Perhaps the important thing is not what we believe but that we connect with that inner and outer goodness which can heal and permeate our own and other people's lives, if we let it.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

May the Healing Begin

Suicidal thinking is often linked to an accumulation of problems that haven't been addressed. Sometimes a deeply disturbing experience keeps haunting a person. In Ireland the 'Mother And Baby Homes' report is a welcome beginning to a belated healing process of the women who were thought the lowest in society and treated as such.

And yet, the men and families that put them in that position, the often cruel treatment in the 'homes' which really were institutions as most of them were overcrowded and impersonal. How can I dare say that there can be healing when some of these women and children have suffered for so long? Have been living as wounded souls among us for so long?

All I know is that love is the healer, listening and trying to accommodate their wishes as much as possible is a start. Helping each person to feel of value. For them it would've been difficult to discover that loving presence within and around as they didn't have a choice where to go or who to live with. The voices of cruelty could've been deafening, a sort of brain-washing into erasing one's personality and goodness.

And so may we offer whatever love we can to these woman, children and families. May we show them that they matter and that for what it's worth, they are loved and admired. They are one of us and may we embrace them virtually until we can embrace them personally, whether it be on this side of the big divide between heaven and earth, or on the other. May they experience the truth of the loving presence that embraces them and all of man- and womankind.


 

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Prolonging Pleasure

We want to hold on to the good moments. The delicious meal. The pleasureful encounter with another. The perfect job. The comfortable underwear. The perfect hairdo. The fabulous film. The beautiful new car. The approval of peers. The harmonious love in the family. The trust in our government. The consolation of the church. The sunny day. The snowball fight. The youthful look. 

And yet, little by little we're asked to let go. Painful as it is we have to accept the human condition of never being able to hold on to anything for very long. Even the best of friendships changes. But it's okay.

It's okay because the letting go actually gives space for something else. Our loss and emptiness can open us to something new and beautiful: a trust in that loving goodness which is to be found deep within and all around us once we dare look.

Sure, it's hidden but only until we choose to look for it. The problem is that our mind cannot contain very many visions at the one time and if we choose to keep looking at what we lost we'll miss out of what is to gain. 

There's a deep running river within which is bursting to embrace the moment as it is. Sit with it and slowly a new direction will emerge. A beautiful path will unfold as long as we keep stepping into the present.

Eckhart Tolle describes how he lost all interest in life and ended up sitting on a bench in a park in London. For several days he didn't move, he just sat there, and suddenly he started to experience the power of the moment, the loving presence that's there behind everything and everybody. That presence has many names, but it is all the one. We are all the one in that deep loving consciousness ready to be experienced.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Something Better Around the Corner


Realists tend to suffer with depression whilst the person with positive 'illusions' does very well. It has to do with the way our humanity works. To participate in life we need dreams and hopes for the future. Why get out of the bed unless we thought we could make a difference today, unless we thought we could do some good somewhere?

Trusting that there's a purpose to everything, a loving purpose gives us energy and creativity, our minds open up to finding some good somewhere. Sure, there're negative situations and cruelty but everything can be turned around once we have energy and vision of something better around the corner.

Having dreams doesn't mean that we sit around waiting all day for things to work out, no, it means getting off our bum and do something which brings us closer to the fulfilment of our dream. Do something to improve a bad situation.

The person who believes in calling forth a better world for themselves and everyone else will see possibility that others don't see, will think outside the box while the rest of us are walking around in circles. That person will inspire us to give something another go, or leave something or someone behind in order to make things better. 

The more each one of us believes that there's something better around the corner and apply ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get around the corner, the more wonderful the world becomes to all of us. Even if that something better is simply a deeper awareness of that inner love and goodness that exist within everyone including oneself.


Sunday, 17 January 2021

Nailed to The Cross


The human condition is crucifying one way or another. Our need for food, water, shelter and affection leaves us pitiful beings. When push comes to shove, will we put others before us? And more to the point, why would we?

That's the amazing thing about us humans too, women suffer childbirth to give life to another, men and women work in horrendous situations to feed their children and put a roof over their head. Every day people are voluntarily sacrificing themselves for others, why? Because in the end that's what's truly human: to dig deep within accessing that beautiful loving and caring presence that wishes everyone well.

We are at our best when we serve each other, not from having to survive, but from that generous place that wants to do what we can that others suffer less, that others get a chance to flourish and be happy. That others feel those nails of the human survival needs less and open themselves to experiencing that ever loving goodness within and around them.


Saturday, 16 January 2021

Admitting Defeat..


 'I can't do it' how often do I whisper these defeatist words to myself? 

Accepting my own powerlessness gracefully, that's the challenge. Not giving out, not blaming but simply taking a moment to process my defeat. Like a young child who falls smack on its bum and just sits there wondering what happened. To take that moment.

Biting more than we can chew is such a human quality, for good and for bad. If we never took any risk, never committed to anything, we'd never fall on our bum, we'd just sit there, so it's a good sign that we have gotten ourselves into this 'impossible' situation. 

It's a good thing to allow the situation to unfold rather than expecting everything to go to plan and everyone to get onboard. Yes, we've lost confidence, but perhaps we can create a deeper confidence from within ourselves which is not built on what we can do or not do, but built on accessing that personal goodness and love from deep within. And then apply that to the situation. 

Ask myself, 'what is now the most loving action to myself and other' because there should be no conflict. Love yourself as you love others - that's the tight-rope upon which we're invited to walk- or dance;-)


Friday, 15 January 2021

Silent Bullying...


Up to the age of fourteen I loved school, mainly due to the banter and good atmosphere that I experienced in the classroom. Then I moved to Norway and everything changed. I remember standing in the school yard in what I thought was my best outfit, purple trousers that I sewed myself, worn with a lovely pair of boots, ready to meet my new class-mates. 

I observed two closed circles of pupils, the 'in' gang who wore the most expensive ski-jacket imaginable, and equally top fashion expensive brand jeans. And the other gang in long sweaters, huddling together perhaps trying not to compare themselves with the 'in' gang but certainly not giving me a look in.

In hindsight I should've just approached one of the 'gangs' and asked them some sort of question or presented myself, who I was, where I was from etc. But I didn't. I allowed myself to be 'bullied' into a corner by other people's silence and lack of attention. I felt I was a nobody, I didn't exist. 

But of course moments like that don't last for ever and I did make one friend whose mum was Danish and who wasn't afraid to approach me. And I became involved in a youth club outside of school. But rejection does leave a scare until we allow ourselves to re-live the situation whilst we include that loving goodness that resides deep within each one of us. 

I now imagine myself as a happy young person approaching one of the 'gangs' telling them how delighted I am to meet them, asking their names. In other words take charge of the situation and be the one to break the ice rather than waiting for others to take the risk. Be the 'big' heart that I am behind all the facade of wanting to be loved and admired. To be the one who reaches out and show kindness to others rather than expecting others to take the first step. 

Thursday, 14 January 2021

The Beauty of Anger

 


I used to avoid anger until I discovered that feeling angry about something is an invitation to get to know myself better, get to know what I truly care about. We might think we know ourselves, but maybe there's a deeper, caring side to ourselves that anger can help us explore.

I feel angry when somebody disturbs my work flow with what seems to me an unnecessary question or irrelevant remark. Why? It feels like the person is questioning what I do or who I am. But the real question is whether I believe in what I do and in who I am? Because if I do, would it matter so much if another person doesn't? 

I think when we examine ourselves, mostly our anger is really with ourselves. We don't love ourselves enough. We don't take time out to discover and enjoy that loving goodness which abides deep within us. The goodness who says 'oh hi, how are you?' and takes an interest in another rather than expecting the other person to understand. 

When we truly understand the beauty of our own being we'll automatically appreciate the beauty of that other human being also.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

You're Not Alone...


The illusion of aloneness is probably the biggest fallacy ever. So many people have been fooled into believing that they're alone in their pain. Okay, you might be with no-one right now. You might have huge problems, you might have done something horrible or someone might have done something horrible to you. BUT YOU'RE NOT ALONE.

Research on trauma shows that if other people are experiencing the same difficulties, pain or suffering as ourselves it is much easier to bear because we can talk about it, we know that others understand.

But there is a bigger community, a bigger sister- and brotherhood. The sister- and brotherhood of those who choose to love. Love unites us with people and animals that we don't see or hear because love opens us up to a much bigger world, the world of an enormous goodness and care around us and within us.

But there is a veil hiding it all, our human survival instinct can prompt us to hold on to the belief that we have to fend for ourselves and that nobody cares. However there is a loving providence ready to spoil us. I once tested this with a friend of mine. We wanted to see if the loving providence would take care of us.

We set out on the road without any money, food or plan. Just hitching and sharing our story with people who gave us a lift. I've never eaten as much, the amount of meals we were offered. The convents in Ireland that put us up for the night and the people who opened their doors when we needed a bathroom. Just random knock on a door and we were welcomed, cake was brought out and cups of tea.

Not everyone was welcoming but we just moved on and tried somewhere else, asking for a glass of water, the use of the bathroom. One night we ended up sleeping on the floor of a hospital. Sometimes we found whole packets of food just left somewhere. 

I've never been let down when I've trusting in the loving providence. Millions of times in my life it has stepped in and proved life so much more wonderful than I imagined.

It does take that step of fearlessness and trust and being willing to seem foolish by those who only believe in what can be seen. But when we suffer, there is always someone who suffers the same, there is someone somewhere to send good wishes and healing, to journey with. We just can't see them right now.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

To Include rather than Exclude...


When someone we care about throws their affection onto somebody else it's important to remember to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Rather than feeling put down or jealous we need to trust that there's room for everybody, including us.

Being inclusive enables us to be bigger than a single situation or event. It's an invitation to open up to that inner goodness and love which abide inside of us, to be generous and happy for people to connect with one another.

That isn't easy when past traumatic experiences are triggered, feelings of being left out or abandoned by someone we trusted, feelings of inadequacy or being unpopular. But this is a chance to mature, forgive and trust that in the end we're all sisters and brothers struggling to make sense of life, struggling to do our best.

Our past hurts and feelings of inadequacy can be processed in a way that allows us to move on and participate in life rather than being paralyzed by that negative loop in our head which tells us how ugly and useless we are.

This is where tuning into that loving goodness that abides deep within and is to be found all around us can be helpful. Allowing ourselves to experience ourselves and others on that deeper level will lead to healing, and yes, inclusion rather than exclusion.




Monday, 11 January 2021

Dare to Be True..


We don't want to get hurt so many of us hide our interests, our passion, our contribution from the bigger world. But to have the courage to pursue what 'turns us on' in its most positive sense. 

To have the courage to work away on something we love and when the time comes, to present it to those who can help us bring it further. Those regarded as authorities in our field of interest.

Why risk rejection, correction or abuse? Somehow, that seems to be the price we have to be prepared to pay. A friend of mine loves doing stand-up comedy. He went to England and gave it a go, he didn't get that far with it but when he came back a year later and entered his local pub (pre-covid) the lads started to put him down. How did he think he could get anywhere? How did he think he was any good?

My friend stood up and said 'I've had a great time. You guys are sitting here in the same old seats every night critising anyone who has a go at something. But what have you experienced? What have you done with your lives? I've had an adventure and it has been wonderful. I'm not letting any of you take that away from me'.

My friend wanted to entertain people, make them laugh and he had a go at it. For him it would be too much work to make it a full-time career but his trip brought him further on the road as to how to be of service and help others.

When we tune in to that best part of ourselves, that loving goodness within us and around us it doesn't matter that not everyone appreciates what we do. All that matters is that we're true to that inner light we've been given as this is what brings us joy and wellbeing in abundance.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Wisdom Born of Pain...


Seemingly young people who've been treated really well in their childhood can suffer more with anxiety than those who have had to struggle (within reason) with adversities and difficult experiences. 

It turns out that dealing with adversity actually builds self confidence which is the opposite to anxiety. The feel good hormone dopamine that is produced when we overcome challenges, activates our immune system to work at its best. Anxiety and doubting whether we can cope produce stress hormones which can be quite distressing if we don't know how to channel that energy towards something productive.

Having a goal, believing that we can change something for the better, that we have the power and ability to do so builds confidence and wellbeing. It counteracts depression and anxiety. 

So how do we help ourselves to the belief that makes us work to achieve something that we cannot see but that we believe can become possible in the future? One way is to tune in to that loving and caring power within ourselves and around us. We've been given certain skills, we've been given an insight into how we could make a difference. Perhaps, all we need is to give ourselves some encouragement, expect adversities as part of the journey, but be determined to keep going.

'I can do this', 'I have skills that'll help me', 'There are friends who'll help me', 'I can make a difference'. 'I can do this'. 'Together we can make it a better world for all of us to live in'. I wish you luck on your journey!

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Those Gone Before Us..


Without the stories of those gone before us where would we be? As my dear dad often said: If you can't serve as a good example, at least you can serve as a bad example, meaning of course that if others weren't inspired by us at least they could learn from our mistakes.

But isn't the purpose of all learning that we will stand on the shoulders of those before us and carry on the baton in whatever area we feel 'called'? 

How siblings go each their way, taking with them different learning from the same parents, the good, and the not so good that we want to do different in our lives, just as they did.

It takes humility to listen to and observe others, it takes time. Time well spent even though we might feel we're slowing down and getting nowhere fast. Focus our learning on what helps us to move forward in the area of 'calling' and expertise where we can draw most enthusiasm and joy in our lives. 

Why spend our time focusing on our past mistakes and weaknesses? Once we've learned, we need to move on, whether it's alone or through the help of others. There is no shame in calling others onboard, no shame in not being able to figure it all out by ourselves. That's what we are here for: helping each other on the road. And what joy it is to some day help someone else on the road.


Friday, 8 January 2021

Accessing Joy


Accessing joy is crucial to enjoying our life, yet don't we so easily forget it or seek for it in the wrong places? While a substance or person might help us forget our emotional pain, we still end up having to live with ourselves. And if I don't like who I am, what then?

Well one way of getting to like ourselves better is to tune into the idea of having a 'calling'. We're here for a purpose, a good purpose, a loving purpose. Within each one of us burns a small or big fire for something, a passion, enthusiasm. And only we ourselves can truly know what that is.

Others may suggest or encourage, but what truly makes us 'tick' can be very personal but also the most joyful experience should we tune into it and commit ourselves to pursuing it. For some it is having children and then nourishing them to become happy and good human beings. For others it is writing that book, developing that gadget, helping the sick, the elderly. Being there for the wounded souls of our society. A combination perhaps of several.

There are billions of 'callings', one for each person alive. Sure, many of us share a passion but to what extent we pursue it and develop it is a personal choice. The more meaning and purpose we can access within ourselves, connecting us to that love energy that abides deep within us, the more joy we'll experience.

It's all in our hands or should I say minds, allowing the subconscious passion to bubble up and find shape and space in our lives.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Everything will be okay in the end..

 

and if it isn't okay, it isn't the end!


Optimistic statements are crucial to our sanity. Again whether what we hope for comes true  is not necessarily the issue, the issue is that it enables us get moving rather than sitting worrying about or lamenting something.

We can do this. We can do what needs to be done today, and tomorrow, and the day after. We may not feel we can, we may not think we can, but applying that optimistic statement to the situation enables us to partake in the loving, creative presence that lives within each one of us and surrounds us.

A loving presence that can only be experienced now. It's like food, we can't eat enough now for tomorrow, we can't drink enough now for tomorrow. We can't tap into tomorrow's energy and creativity, but we can tap into that beautiful, gentle presence available to us here and now. I've become quite dependent on nourishing myself with some creative beauty in the moment.

Recently, on my previously mentioned cycle-trip 'from hell' where not only my back was in pieces but the weather was cold, dark and drizzly and the final bike ride along the River Barrow before new restrictions, became more and more scary due to the amount of flooding and mud we encountered. I ended up having to take the busy road instead. Cars zooming by, dirty old road with rubbish strewn at the sides. 

I was desperately searching for a redeeming factor and thankfully I found it: I started meditation on the rubbish: 'There is an old ice-cream wrapping that somebody put a lot of thought into designing and producing. People working in the ice-cream factory facilitating the process and enabling us to go into shops and choosing ice-creams in beautiful colour wrapping.

The broken plastic bucket, how proud the person must have been who invented the bucket and how we all benefit, and how beautiful that bucket was when it was sitting there in the shop ready for someone to purchase and make use of it. 

A pair of trousers covered in dirt and how many hands might have helped design these trousers, produced the initial material, dyed it, the machinery that was designed to sew them together. What a masterpiece that could go so unnoticed.

We're surrounded by wonderful designs and produce of thousands of people, people who have put their love and energy into making something useful and beautiful for us, for man- and womankind. 

My dreary cycle 'from hell' became an inspiring opening of my mind towards that ever present creative energy within each one of us. May we be more aware and allow that creative spirit flourish in ourselves and encourage it in each other!


Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Stories have so much to tell...


The fascinating story of the three wise men/kings who each followed a star which led them to the ruler Herod's palace looking for the special child who was to save and help mankind. 

Whether the story is fully, partly or not at all true, to me is not important. It's what the story does to us that's important. 

The wise men capture my imagination, that they would travel from afar, that they would honour a child with the most expensive gifts. It reminds me of how sometimes there is something that we know we need to do even though it might be out of the ordinary, even though others might think we're gullible, wasting our time or 'barking up the wrong tree'.

Once we start looking, there are so many amazing pioneers who have risked looking foolish in order to follow their 'vision' or dream. Artists and poets who only were 'discovered' after their death, perhaps too many people were jealous of them when they were alive and so they didn't get a chance to be appreciated. 

Of course we all need appreciation, but sometimes it's when we open ourselves to that creative, loving force and presence within ourselves and around us that we enjoy life. Having the admiration of many doesn't necessarily make us happy as we have seen with many well loved artists e.g. Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston who struggled with and died alone by their dependence on drugs.

We decide which stories we take an interest in and what we focus on in those stories. By focusing on hopeful stories that reflect forgiveness and goodness we are opening ourselves to that beautiful, loving presence accessible to everyone who wants it.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Where is the sun..


Isn't the sun such an experience of love, relaxation and beauty, such a lift and sense of freedom that when we don't experience it many of us struggle. My 'uplifting' nature walk is dull until I experience the sunlight.

I've had to learn to tune into the sun above the clouds, to thank the loving presence for being always present as is the sun above the clouds. I sympathise with the diligent people who built the Newgrange grand passage tomb more than 5200 years ago to capture the sunlight starting to return when the days got longer around 21st of December. I however need the sun on a daily basis. So what do I do?

Yes, I tune in to the sunlight which energises us all, which helps growth, boosts our immune system and lifts our depression. And when I don't see it I relive the strong experience I had in Lanzarote some years ago when I lay down on the hot beach, listening to the sound of the waves and bathing in the sunlight. Total bliss and relaxation. And it gives me joy. So who cares if people think I'm crazy? Who cares if for a few moments I live in a fantasy world if this relaxes me, boosts my immune system and lifts away depressive feelings? 

To me the sun carries enthusiasm and energy and I pray that we will all have enthusiasm and energy for the day. That all of man- and woman- and animal kind will be on fire with that overwhelming power of goodness, warmth, generosity and gratitude that is an accessible reality and experience to anyone who wishes to partake it in. Let's do it. Let's look beyond the veil and partake!

Monday, 4 January 2021

Who am I?



The advantage of a lockdown and not being allowed to go anywhere unless one is an essential or front-line worker is the time one has to look into other people's lives and views. This morning I was deeply moved by a new documentary about Prins Henrik, the recently diseased French husband of Danish Queen Margrethe and the struggle he had to feel at home in Denmark due to the lack of definition of his role. 

The footage of the couple is deeply moving from the point of view of their obvious great love for each other. Prince Henrik was a very present father to their two sons. He had dreamt of becoming a pianist but his father hadn't approved and he ended up becoming a diplomat after having served time in the French army. 

He seemed to have struggled his whole life with not having a clear identity within the Danish Royalty apart from being the Queen's husband and a father and grand-father. At one point when his oldest son took on the Queen's duties and he himself was 'demoted' he fled to France as he felt humiliated and hurt. However, the Queen and boys followed him and he returned after three weeks.

What is moving in the documentary though is that Henrik little by little starts to enjoy his life more and not care so much about the public perception or his own identity. I am guessing that he discovered that greater, permeating love and goodness within himself and around him that enabled him to say that he was proud that Margrethe and he had a 40 year+ harmonious marriage and that the most important thing in life is to spread joy. That in the end the goal is to make everyone happy. A life well lived is it not?

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Getting out of bed..


Getting out of bed isn't easy when you're nice and comfortable and nobody expects you to be anywhere at any particular time, as might be the case for a number of us during the stay-at-home lockdown. It being the cold and dark time of year, all good intentions of a healthy and energetic start to the day can quickly fade into the background, especially if one is also nursing some sort of injury whether it be physical or emotional.

For me, somehow getting out into nature is a good start to the day, it gives me the opportunity to tune in to the bigger picture, that loving presence which is so easily overshadowed by the survival instinct of wanting to make an impact, wanting to get things done. Worry about the future, of not being heard, not being seen, not leaving something valuable behind on this earth. 

And I think of the many people who are not being heard, nor seen nor taken seriously. Those who toil for the rest of us in overcrowded factories, exploited in rice-fields or living in overcrowded, unhygienic circumstances. What change have I made to their lives, how have I helped set them free? I don't know how they ended up in those situations, I cannot choose for them. But I do know that there is a permeating, loving presence available to everyone of us. 

A loving presence that can give us courage, like Harriet Tubman who courageously escaped slavery and then risked her own life again and again to smuggle out hundreds of other slaves. Or Anthony Ray Hinton who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, yet opened himself up to loving and caring for his inmates and forgiving those who had deliberately put him away. He tapped into that loving presence within himself and around him in spite of suffering cruelty by prison-guards and judges.

We may not live in extreme circumstances, and yet we all get a new chance every day to tune into that loving presence of care and goodness which exists deep within ourselves and others. The happiness we get from living in that world of love and care for ourselves and others, from being altruistic and serving each other, not at the expense of ourselves but in harmony with our talents and energies. Tapping in to our character strengths and using them for the betterment of mankind in whatever situation we're in right now.

And so I look at nature, how, the tree that freely gives of itself to the benefit of the earth and its inhabitants. Bursting with colour and freshness in spring, giving us oxygen, store carbon, and providing us material for tools and shelter. There is no end to the importance of the trees. Yet, they simply stand there and do their thing, come rain, hail or storm, they keep giving and giving, transforming whatever nutrition they can take out of the soil, whatever light and water they can absorb. And so I pray that all of us will serve each other, will serve mankind with the same selfless energy and beauty as the trees. That I will serve mankind, my neighbours and family with that same altruism and care. 

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Dismantling our helplessness


So this 'mystery' of a loving, good, altruistic presence permeating all things and all creatures. Not forcing itself upon us, having to be invited into our consciousness in order to flourish and make deeper roots. 

We're so easily overcome by our survival instinct prompting us to worry about something or somebody. But what if the answer to all worry is to invite in that loving presence? What if trusting that we'll have enough, that we'll be okay, that life is good actually brings it about? Our trust brings in the loving presence who'll take care of us in whatever shape it might appear. Through other people or directly?

Not that we would be passively waiting for everything to be handed to us. No, we'd use the skills and understanding that we've been given, assuming that whatever is missing will somehow be added by 'providence'. Research around well-being and faith in something bigger than ourselves, shows that the person who believes in a punitive God/superior force, or in being a helpless victim usually ends up with mental problems. The person however, who believes is a fifty-fifty relationship where they do their best and expect God/providence/a loving presence to do the rest experience high well-being and hope.

But it can be difficult. Most of us are products of 'learned helplessness' in some area of our life. We're programmed by some childhood experience of being helpless and then might continue programming ourselves to further helplessness by our unconscious belief that there is something we cannot do when in reality we might be very good at it if we got a chance to develop that skill.

While I love my father dearly, he did trigger a helplessness in me regarding being able to change somebody's mind. I remember him physically punishing my brother for wetting the bed and I objecting to it but being dismissed as irrelevant and unable to make a difference for my brother. It's only later when I look back that I can see how that has stopped me from speaking up against anybody with a strong opinion. I straight away feel that there's no point and so I avoid conversations with anyone who has a strong opinion because I haven't developed the skill of negotiating.

I admire people who are able to speak their mind independent of what other people think or feel. Thankfully, I have other skills and that might be what happens for a lot of us, we put our energy where we feel we can make more of a difference, but we need to be careful all the same, that we don't do it at the expense of our well-being and happiness.

At one point in my life when I was challenged by a friendship that didn't work out the way I expected a close friend asked me 'What do you want?' That was something I had put into the background for a long time, a helplessness around my ability to listen to what I would enjoy, what I wanted to do with my time and energy. My friend's question set me free to open myself to a more enjoyable life where rather than depending on others to lead the way, I started to listen to my inner sense of enjoyment and peace. I started to climb mountains, to write, to reach out to people in the neighbourhood.

So I have been fortunate in coming across people who encouraged me to develop beyond my helplessness even though sometimes I limit myself much more than what I need to, thinking that I'm stuck somewhere when really I'm not, I just think I am.

But I do understand how easy it is to buy into helplessness, especially if we have grown up in an environment of helplessness which is often the case with people caught in addiction, mental illness or depression. And I feel for you, and I know it doesn't feel like it, but there is a loving, caring presence within you & around you. Open yourself to that embrace of goodness and love and you will experience it in abundance. Use the gratitude skill, look for something good somewhere. That's a start, and then keep going. You can do this. We can do this. If you need my help write me an email: avlund.dk@gmail.com and together we'll think of some way of you entering this adventure, that your life becomes when your helplessness is transformed into power and freedom.


Friday, 1 January 2021

There is a loving presence....


You have experienced it already..

I've made a promise to delve into the mystery of that loving presence which I maintain that anyone, who wishes to, can experience at any given moment, once opening oneself up to it. Also I maintain that it's tuning in to this loving presence that creates well-being and happiness in our lives. 

This morning of course, I'm thinking 'What have I gotten into, promising to write this daily blog for a month?  I'm going to appear a fool 1) if I don't keep my promise 2) for writing something nobody can relate to and 3) for not having an audience - just satisfying my own need to feel I'm somebody..' Anxiety, I think, it's called.

The hugely successful frontline singer of the Irish band Kodaline, Steve Garrigan opens up about his social anxiety in RTE interviews and a number of other contexts admitting his inability to love being the front-line singer when he is off stage. While he loves being on stage, off stage, he's an introvert and has to make sure he says 'no' when he doesn't feel up to talking after a show.

To me the answer to anxiety is to tune in to this loving permeating presence and in the end I believe this is what we all do, we might call it by other names but it's the same amazing loving presence that permeates all and everything. Steve Garrigan said, what helped him was opening up to friends. Trusted friends, isn't that why we're friends with anyone, we experience that loving presence of acceptance and care from them? He also mentions that not drinking too much and being on a healthy diet and getting exercise help keep him well.

Isn't that the permeating love shining through: the genuine love for ourselves that we need to tap in to? I hurt my back a few days ago but instead of allowing my poor back some rest I insisted on going on not one, which was okay, but two big cycle trips before the lockdown that I knew was coming. I paid a high price for those trips as my back locked itself into a painful entity that made it nearly impossible to move without pain.

After giving out to myself for my foolishness, however, I started asking myself 'what is the loving message to me? I can't cycle, run or even walk for the moment, never mind using the rowing machine that I've gotten so fond off over the past few weeks'. Whilst going over solutions to my pain and dealing with the prospect of an inactive life that I wouldn't enjoy, I started to accept that I had to give my back some rest.

Instead of trying to go for my normal morning run/walk and stretching exercises, I needed to simply rest. I accepted a friend's advice to get some homeopatic remedy, to bathe in epsom salts and to believe that there was a message in all this for me. A loving message. And then it dawned on me: whilst I teach Wellbeing & Happiness skills based on Positive Psychology, the direct road to wellbeing is to open ourselves to that ever-present presence of love and goodness which permeates the world. That is the message I'm being asked to share.

Suddenly, my back is better and I can choose how I interpret that: I can believe that time and rest heal, and yes, that is true but I can also be honest and share my awareness of that loving presence which I experience whenever I take a moment to open myself towards its existence. That the purpose of my pain is not only that I may rest and open myself to a different direction, but that I will take time out to share the reality of that loving, permeating presence which is everywhere and can be experienced at any time.

If that's true, why doesn't everyone talk about it? Why didn't my mother who suffered with anxiety and depression just open herself up to that presence? Why is there anxiety and depression, self-harm and suicide when people could just open themselves to this loving presence and snap out of those negative thought-patterns and consequent feelings?

That's the thing about love, it doesn't force itself, it doesn't enter the house without an invitation. It is of course there, as it is everywhere, in every creation and creature and it has billions of faces as love in one situation is unique to that particular situation. Love is present to the extent that we invite it in. If we choose to ignore it, we can, but more than likely we have already accepted it into our lives in millions of ways through our parents, friends and society who have opened up to goodness and love in so many different ways.

However, we've all had non-loving experiences, some a lot more than others. Many people are haunted by addiction, mental illnesses and post-traumatic stress disorders. We all need help to open ourselves towards that loving presence and if we have strong experiences of the lack of love in one or many situations, have experiences of evil through physical or mental abuse by ourselves or by others, it can be more difficult to discover that loving presence. It's as if our bodies and minds have been imprinted with a default position of mainly doubting the presence of love due to our negative experiences and thought-patterns.

Positive psychology studies how we human beings function regarding wellbeing and happiness. It seems that people who have healthy minds and get on well with others, they focus on the positives several times more than the negatives. In lasting relationships, it's the balance of five positive communications to one negative communication that enables a relationship to survive all the challenges that otherwise might break up a relationship.

In other words, we need a predominantly positive mind and communication to stay well. This can be difficult if we surround ourselves with 'negative' people. The 'negative' persons in our lives might very well be permeated with love also, in a number of ways and that's why we have not cut them out of our lives already, but their understanding regarding love might be very different to ours and that's why they may not be good for us. 

Perhaps, in small doses, yes, but in order for us to keep a positive mind and communication we might have to set down strong boundaries and allow ourselves to spend a lot more time in an environment of encouragement and freedom, which is different from 'going with the flow' that we're in for the moment.

We might need to set up some encouraging habits for ourselves that'll help us realise how lovable we are and how powerful we can become in bringing that love into other people's lives.

We are all invited to open ourselves to that powerful loving presence within ourselves and all around us and we choose to what extent we allow it in. I believe however that there is an abundance of evidence showing us, that the more we open ourselves to that real goodness and loving presence the happier and healthier we will be.