Monday, 14 March 2016

The benefit of obstacles

Sometimes it can feel like an incredibly laborious process to get to where you want to be!

Sometimes it just feels like too much effort.

There can be hurdles in the way, long periods of feeling stuck with neither forward nor backward movement. Very, very frustrating....however....

Today, while out on a walk I just happened to look up as a pine cone was falling from a tall branch en route to the forest floor, but instead of reaching its planned destination it settled onto a wide feathery branch about 8 feet from the ground.

I smiled as the line from the poem, "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns, sprung into my head,

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." 

Roughly translated it means, that our plans don't always go the way we'd hoped.

But maybe the stalling, the delays, the apparent obstructions are all necessary on the journey to our destination.

Maybe the hurdles give us more time to plan more clearly what we need and question if we're heading the right way.

Maybe having more time helps us think more creatively and stretches us in ways we didn't think were possible.

If you feel stuck try to see that the slowing down of your progress is not necessarily negative - instead take the opportunity to review where you're at, and feel what you could do differently at this point to help your forward momentum.

Maybe there's a much better route for you to take.

Maybe the conditions on the ground weren't quite right for the pine cone.

Maybe when the next big wind blows and the cone falls unobstructed to the forest floor the conditions will be perfect for the seeds to sow.

"Obstacles don't have to stop you.  If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.  Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." - Michael Jordan

Monday, 25 January 2016

Our Addiction To Patterns

We think of addiction as being associated with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling and the other usual culprits...however, there is something just as damaging; if not more so in some cases and that's an addiction to patterns.

Of course I don't mean that you can't get enough William Morris, or that your nights are spent trawling through the history of Mary White's designs.  The pattern addiction I'm referring to is circling relentlessly in your head and it can be just as tough to break as any other dependency.

Whenever I hear phrases like,

"But the last time I felt like this it went on and on and on...."
"If you knew what happened to me 35 years ago you'd know why I can't possibly be free from this depression..."
"Whenever the day starts like this, I know exactly how the rest of my day is going to be!"
"It's always the same..."
"I've never been any other way .."
"I'm clumsy/stupid/lack confidence/shy"  etc etc..delete or add appropriate word!

Any of those types of phrases when re-visited again and again can become quite appealing.  They appeal because they enable the person to give themselves a label, and hang on to that label (belief) forever. Doing this keeps them in the addictive loop of being a slave to their thoughts.

This enslavement means they have to live a restricted life - because, well, "It's always been this way!"

Providing there is a commitment and desire to change, there is always an alternative to being stuck in an addictive pattern.

Imagine a life free from the need to listen to, and live your life by your old beliefs!

Really, can you imagine that?

Well it is possible.

It starts (ironically), with STOP!

The moment you hear yourself saying something that is derogatory or that restricts your ability to live your life the way you want to, simply think the word STOP!

Engage all your senses in this moment right now and look around you.

This moment right now is the only thing that's real - don't trawl through the past - it's gone.  What could you do today that would help you feel re-connected to that you that's been waiting for your arrival?

Enjoy becoming your own wonderfully dynamic and unique self!

With love,
Kathleen x

"The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward." - Steve Maraboli

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Eyes to the front!

As a young girl playing outside in the 1970's my Dad was always keen to reiterate that I must, "Watch your step! Watch where you're going!" The primary reason was to avoid the amount of dog mess on the pavements because in the 70's it was everywhere!
Not literally, but it seemed that way.
Forty years later and his words still leap into my head when jogging along the pavement I unwittingly stand on a dog poo cunningly disguising itself as an autumn leaf.
I'm not going to stop going out for a jog just because I might stand on dog poo! I have a route planned before I leave and I will stick to that no matter what.
If you have an idea about where you want to go but find yourself watching your every step - just stop for a moment.
Remember that you may well go through messy areas en route to your destination, in fact to be more blunt about it you may have some shit to contend with.  However, if you know - even roughly - what you want to achieve and you have an idea of how to get yourself there then do not delay!  Please just get on with taking the necessary steps towards your goals because none of us knows how long we have left to put on our running shoes and get out there!
"Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road." - Dag Hammarskjold 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Appreciation of today

There's no doubt that I'd rather be the adult I am today than the confused struggling girl and woman I was in the early 80's through to the early 90's.  
A life pebble dashed with sores so deep and yet invisible to the untrained, uneducated eye.  No-one's fault of course as back then I was an expert at hiding and camouflaging the roughness cutting into some edges of my life.
Today I have a contentment about who I am as a mother, a wife, a friend, and of course as the person I am to the hundreds of clients I have been privileged enough to teach and encourage back to health.
And yet, as time does the inevitable and change happens to those I love I can feel that panicky feeling rising.  Like a stubborn toddler demanding not to be taken from the party, I'm digging my heels in and refusing to accept that change is inevitable...I want things to stay as they are, and I'm not budging from that stand point!
However, there is a reluctant acceptance washing over me, gently reminding me that I'm not in control.
A tough call.
As I take stock of where I am right now I can see quite clearly that my life is overwhelmingly good, and unrecognisable to how I felt thirty plus years ago; so I must learn to lovingly let go of the fight to maintain the status quo.
Neither you nor I have that power.
What we do have is the ability to appreciate the good, cry at the bad, love those we love and literally embrace each day as it comes and deal with whatever comes our way with our feet on the ground and our hearts wide open.
Written with love and appreciation for a life filled with amazing people! Kathleen x
"We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way.  Appreciation is a wonderful feeling, don't overlook it." - Author unknown

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The limits of protection

There's a moment when the sunflower is in full bloom when I just want to hold it perfectly still and cradle it from the ravages of time, protecting it so carefully before the first autumn frost and battering winds nip and slash the perfect stem and magnificent flower. 
I can't protect it of course, so instead I cringe a little as I watch it writhe and quietly wither away.
I hold the thought in my mind that soon, once the fallen leaves from the deciduous forest giants have long since lost their crunch and are well trodden and crumbled into the soil, spring will come again and I can replant a sunflower seed and watch with wonder as nature does its thing. 
One can only provide the cane to support the sapling as it grows wide and strong.
One can only provide nutritious fertilized soil to ensure it has the best possible start.
One can only position it in a place where the sun beats down on it, and it's sheltered from the prevailing winds.
We do what we can, but we can't save the flower from every possible threat to it's survival.
Trust that there is a strength throughout the natural world. A hidden, deep, inexplicable strength which we need to trust runs through the sunflower and each and every one of us.
"People protect what they love." - Jacques Yves Cousteau 

Monday, 14 September 2015

To fly and fly some more

I looked on-line for an explanation for the phrase, "To have your wings clipped" and the description read,
"To restrain or reduce someone's freedom."
We can all search for the reason's why we haven't achieved all we set out to.  We can scan the horizon of our lives, stare at the silhouettes of all our relationships and feel justified as we point the finger of blame at that friend, or that relative who wouldn't have coped if we'd chosen that path.
"To restrain or reduce someone's freedom."
Bird's can't nor do they clip their own wings.
Human's do it to them.
A bird wouldn't choose to change their natural ability to fly, nor would they choose to stop living their lives as flying beings.
Human's on the other hand....
We ruin our own lives and sabotage our own chances to fly and live fully and we do it time and time again disguised under a thin vale of being the, "right thing to do."
Who for?
If you are making choices based on what you think is best for another person please STOP!
Look closely at the decisions and choices you're making.  Really look....
Are you clipping your own wings?
Are you "restraining and reducing your own freedom?"
What do you really want to do?  Why aren't you?
Chances are that some (if not all) of your decisions and reasons for stalling are based on you thinking of the needs/attitudes or opinions of others.
This is YOUR life!
Please start by being kind to yourself, make choices based on what you really want and who you really want to be.
Too many illnesses creep into our body casting shadows on our vitality because we're not living our lives honestly.
When we're well we're being authentic and our body-mind loves us for it.
When  we're exhausted accommodating everybody else's needs we become suffocated by a sense of duty to others and our own shining light is snubbed out.
Please make a point of reminding yourself that if you truly follow your path the world will not stop spinning, those who love you will still love you - and you will have more energy and time to achieve all you want to be.
"Pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly, and if left unresolved you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place." - Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The strength and vulnerability of isolation

All my life I have been intrigued by solitary trees.
In more recent years I've started taking photographs of them.
There's something that draws me to them; a strength and solidity that stands boldly against many a dramatic back drop and I love that.
Against the odds there it stands, on open moorland, on top of a  hill, roots dug in to a cliff top or in the middle of a field where only the buzzards appreciate it's presence as an excellent viewing point for them to spot their next scurrying prey.
Each tree is so different, yet there's a familiar thread that binds them together in isolated unity.
A defiant:  "I'm here. I'm alone. I'm strong!"

And yet whenever I stumble across a tree on it's own I think of this famous quote by Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr,

"You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming."

This is particularly poignant when I re-visit a tree I've long before photographed and discover it's been snapped in half or uprooted completely and lies dying alone and forgotten.  I can't tell when or why it's happened, was it diseased and I didn't realise?  Perhaps that last stormy night took it down - and yet it had survived maybe a 100 or more bad winters and spring gales...why now?

Off in the distance the forest stands unperturbed by the loss of it's comrade.  They stand together arrogantly looking on as I wonder how long my old friend's been lying there.
An unanswerable question of course.

Every now and then, when the storm becomes unbearable even the most independent and stoic need the shelter that friends and family can provide.

It's true that we will go out of the world alone - but we can allow those who care for us to be our companions and lovingly hold our hand for at least part of the journey.

"When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." - George R.R Martin, A Game of Thrones.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Appreciation of now, and taking it all in.

Last night I dreamt about my Mum.  I don't often dream about her, but today I realised it's 22 years since she died in July 1993 at just 54 years old.
In my dream she was lying in bed talking to me, she said her arms were aching.  I asked her why? She said, "I have no one to hold.  Arms were meant to wrap around those you love."
I woke up and  though I was glad to have "seen" her I was sad that her arms ached.
Yesterday I spoke to Andrew about wanting to walk long distances, using my legs to walk miles and miles to experience the landscape and natural world on foot as that is what legs are for!
And then there's my hands...
I love to feel the texture of  bark on trees, I love to feel the cool earth on my hands as I pull the weeds from my veggie patch and I love the feeling of wool running through my fingers against the cool, metal seriousness of my crochet hook.
Our limbs, our eyes, our sense of smell, taste and touch, paying attention to their experiences is crucial to our well-being.  The more technological and "advanced" we become the further away we get from being human in the most fundamental and in my mind crucial of ways.
I'm not anti-advancements in science and technology, but we should make time for the basics, and actually what I feel is the most important aspects of being human.
To feel and be present in the world,  to just walk in nature without multi-tasking.   Taking in all that surrounds you and reminding yourself that this is it so make the most of appreciating and being part of the natural world surrounding you. Have a wonderful Friday everyone!  Love, Kathleen x
"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour." - From Auguries of Innocence by William Blake

Monday, 13 July 2015

Laughter, life and the great outdoors.

For those who know me well it won't be news to read that humour plays a big part in my life - I believe laughter is an essential aspect of being human.  Every day I observe my life trundling along in all it's wondrous, fluctuating, madness and in between the serious stuff I sneak a peek at the more colourful, bizarre and uplifting opportunities for laughter, joy and appreciation of all that life has to offer.
Many comedians use their observations of the world to share their humorous view of all that surrounds them. But how long can this continue when we're not looking up any more?
Walking along the street,  or in the hairdressers, at the cinema for goodness sake and on the bus, no matter where I go I view the tops of heads. Seriously, I'm becoming an expert in trichology.
The studying of scalps, hair lines and hats is not because I'm abnormally tall for a 47 year old woman, but with heads tilted forward and the important job of checking phones now apparently an option of life or death , everyone and their dog (almost) has forgotten to look up and make eye contact with their fellow human. We can share our concerns, our laughter and joy with a passer by with a smile or a glance no words exchanged as we simply observe the same scenarios and share the experience of being in the same place at the same time.
Sadly this is something of a rarity these days. We're distracted by someone sending us a photo from 1000 miles away, when right in front of us a red squirrel has leapt and scurried across our path, or as the sun sets on our horizon we miss it as we're trawling through the filtered images by our, "friend" on Instagram.
This weekend friends spoke to me about the Scottish poet, songwriter and humorist Ivor Cutler (1923-2006) as they were sure I'd appreciate his work - and they were right!
His humour is so clever.
It can be dark at times (as is life) but his ability to observe his world back then, mixed with a tad of creative license is nothing short of genius.  I'm sure his humour will appeal to many, none more than those brought up in rural Scotland from the 40's onwards.
The flash backs to a life lived free from the intrusive clutter of today's TV's/iphones/smart phones and all things computery.
Look up from your computer screens and smart phones and let the outside world inspire you creatively today!  Before you do...GOOGLE Ivor Cutler and have a listen to some of his work!
"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh."  W. H. Auden

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Expressing yourself out of depression

Musicians express themselves through their music, artists with their brush strokes, writers craft and weave their words to release their emotional bundle; what about you?
How do you share with your loved ones and the world what you're really feeling? Who do you share your emotional truths with?  Who hears the plight of your broken heart as it reluctantly beats clinging onto a sadness long ago buried away from the sight of others?
When I hear the expression,
"I suffer from bouts of depression."  I think, how wonderfully intelligent we are -  isn't it fantastic that our body and mind recognises something isn't right, and gives us the, "nudge" that now is the time to address this horrible feeling?
The first place to start is by simply speaking up - admitting to yourself first and then sharing with others who love and care about you that you're not feeling good is the most important first step.
Only then can you start your journey back from depression.
So then, why not quietly make the decision today to stop putting a brave face on it and start being more honest about all that you're feeling?  And by this I mean, the good feelings, the bad and the ugly!  We are all capable of experiencing the whole spectrum of emotions, but how many of us are prepared to express the whole range?!  Culturally it's not encouraged to be emotionally honest, but our bodies know differently - burying our feelings makes us unwell.  Make a start on constructively expressing your feelings today and know that by doing so you're doing yourself a great favour - you might just find yourself emerging from that tunnel of depression far sooner than you'd anticipated.
With love,
Kathleen x
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” ― Sigmund Freud