April 6, 2013
Do you have a power song? A song that never fails to make you feel good, that seems to speak to you, that fires you up for the day?
I have 2 or 3 that help me when I need a boost. Like on my way into work in the morning! Or sometimes I will use a power song for a specific purpose, for example if I am studying for an exam I will listen to the same song while studying and then just before I go in to the exam hall…to fire me up and help me to remember things.
Or if I am on my way to a job interview I will listen to really uplifting, powerful music to give me an extra boost.
There’s some science to this, too. A study at McGill University, Montreal found that your brain releases more dopamine when listening to music you like: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12135590
If you haven’t tried using power songs yet then might I recommend embarking on the journey to find one! You’ll discover some great music and just maybe a new (or old!) classic you can draw on in times of need :-).
March 30, 2013
I think it’s really important to have a good start to each day. The things that happen in the middle and at the end are important, too, but a good start can set these up nicely.
I used to not think much about how my days started. I’d go to bed probably too late and rush around and out the door just in time, leaving a trail of destruction behind me. I’d get to where I was going and rely on having a few moments there to relax and get my breath…if I were lucky. The day was upon me immediately.
I’m not sure when I changed what I did but at some point I realised this wasn’t working for me any more and now I do things differently. As soon as my alarm goes off, I get up immediately, no snoozing. It’s different at the weekend but during the week snoozing to me means having to get up twice!
I have a set morning routine which I have time for each part of without rushing (at some point I must have worked out how long each bit takes!). I always eat breakfast (important from the health side) and enjoy coming to, reading the paper or some inspirational quotes from a book. I find this helps to put me in a good frame of mind.
The main thing for me is I don’t like to rush or hurry or feel stressed in the morning and I think having the best start to each day is an investment. Laying out clothes the night before is good, too!
A final thought, get up at exactly the same time each morning. It’s brilliant for the body clock. And get enough sleep, too. I think there are two kinds of tired. Tired as in really can’t get out of bed and tired but with some reserves beneath for once you get going.
March 27, 2013
We’re experiencing unseasonal snow at the moment. It’s unusual activity for this time of year and today it got me thinking.
As with this snow and lengthy winter, somethings things do carry on longer than we expect them to. A project takes longer than we thought, or a journey. We’ll stay in a friendship or a relationship or a job longer than we intended. Longer than we thought we would. Things don’t always happen as we expect, or as we think they ‘should’.
This snow is interesting, too; we’re noticing it because it’s not how it ‘should’ be. Do we notice things as much when they are as they ‘should’ be? If the spring came along as normal just now and the plants came out and the birds came back, we’d notice them because it’s a change from winter, but would we notice them more than we normally do each year? It’s the same with the people in our lives. I’m sure we can all think of a time we noticed when something wasn’t done, simply because it normally is done every day. The cleaning, seeing someone every day, a particular routine. Or when someone isn’t in our life any more. We notice them by where they used to be.
The snow is also good for mindfulness. The winter makes you more conscious of yourself. You realise you’re breathing by seeing your breath in the air, you realise the steps you’re taking because you can see your footsteps in the snow. We do these things every day but how often do we think about them? Not until they’re shown to us, and we become aware again.
It makes me wonder how much happens in our lives that we’re just not aware of, because we’re so used to doing the same things and expecting things to happen as they always do.
This very point was made in a book I read recently -“Did you spot the gorilla?” by Richard Wiseman. A series of volunteers are asked to watch a video clip of people playing basketball and to count the passes of the ball. During the clip, a guy comes onto the court dressed as a gorilla, beats his chest, and leaves. Hardly anyone notices this, because they’re not looking for it. The book is all about using this phenomenon to find the gorillas in our own lives – the sometimes obvious things that we don’t notice because we’re not looking for them. It’s an interesting concept.
Sometimes I try to be really aware of absolutely everything that I’m doing. If I go to do something I always do without thinking, I ask myself why I’m doing it that way. Is the way I normally do it still working for me? Is there another way? I enjoy noticing what I’m actually doing for a change. It’s like seeing your breath and footprints in the snow – reminders of what we’re doing every day, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
March 24, 2013
I’ve spent some time today finding the best image for this site, which I felt reflected the ‘something more to life’ concept. The things in my mind were a blue sky with clouds or rays of sun breaking through (representing how life is always changing and, like the sky, things never stay the same), a close-up of plants or leaves (a reminder to notice everything, appreciate it and enjoy nature), a white feather drifting down from the sky (life’s surprising moments and the fact someone is always thinking about you) or beautiful open landscapes (you need to open yourself out to something more, dream big).
In the end, I settled on my other idea, the dandelion. It reminds me of a poem I wrote about leaving school. In school, everyone develops in broadly the same way, on the same stem, the same ‘clock’. But on leaving, like the dandelion, the seeds fly off in different directions and everyone leads their own lives which go in many different directions. There is a sense of freedom…the seeds are awaiting the right moment to fly free and have a sense of where they want to go. But it is also random, we need to be prepared to be carried along on winds of change.
The key is to know where you want to go, take the time when you’re still on the stem to think about and plan your ‘something more’ and then when a favourable breeze comes that you know will take you there, let go, trust in the wind and an element of chance , hold your seed parachute tightly as best as you can and see where you land.
Something more is about chances. But it’s also about space. If you stay on the stem, you will always know where you will be but if you let go and give yourself up to the winds of change, you have the chance of flying free, out into the space, towards your destination.
March 23, 2013
In our busy lives it’s very rare that we find ‘odd moments’. You know, those times when you arrive early to meet someone, or your train is delayed or a meeting is pushed back for half an hour.
We don’t know what to do with ourselves. Sudden free time, unscheduled activity. I used to be a bit scared of these moments but now I try to make the most of them and use the time to daydream about things that I’d like to do.
Where in the world would I like to visit? What would I like to eat for lunch? Imagine I had a 6-pack… And if there’s something you’re already working towards, use the time to think and get excited about it. Look forward to things!
It’s a tip from Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’. When you get these little windows of opportunity, fill them with hope and positivity. Visualise a great future.
One of the times we get odd moments the most is when we’re ill. Lying on the sofa or in bed unable to do much but think about how rough we feel! This is when I try to do this the most.
Instead of feeling upset I can’t see friends that weekend, I try to plan a really exciting activity for when I’m feeling better. Where will we go? What will I wear? I look up holidays, find out the answers to things I’ve always wondered about… The other bonus to this is that because I am not thinking about feeling ill my body has the chance to recover and my mind is getting a rest.
Make the most of odd moments. It’s nice to just think and just dream. And when the friend you’re meeting does turn up you might just have a brilliant idea or two to open the conversation!
March 23, 2013
We get points in our lives where something just isn’t working any more and we have a choice to make. The choice to stay the same, or the choice to change. The triggers for realising this choice can come from different places. A seemingly throwaway comment someone makes, something you see or read, some knowledge you gain or perhaps the little voice within you that you can’t ignore any more.
And sometimes the trigger will be such that you realise you just have to change…you risk death if you don’t stop smoking, your partner has cheated on you with someone else and you cannot ignore that knowledge. Or you have new medical advice that you know acting on will help you.
Change is not easy but in some ways a clear trigger can get us to move in the right direction. Because no matter what the trigger is the only thing that can realise and decide to change is you. You might know your next cigarette could kill you. But you might decide that’s a chance you’ll take as you are not ready to make the change to stop smoking. No matter where the trigger comes from, if you are going to act on it then you need to absorb it within yourself and make your reasons to change bigger than your reasons not to. You have to believe in the change enough to go for it and to succeed.
I’ve got a choice just now. I have discovered I have a number of allergies to chemicals which are causing me skin problems. I can either assess my life and try to eliminate the contact with these and address some of the issues, or decide that it’s too difficult to do so. It’s hard because as well as the chemicals I have a significant number of food and environmental allergies and already live quite a restricted lifestyle. But I have the choice to change and use this knowledge to drive me to do that. Use the trigger, think why I am doing it (to have better skin) and put a plan in place. Because a little voice within me is saying I should listen to this advice. And I’m going to listen to that voice. I’m choosing to make the change.
March 18, 2013
I’ve been having a bit of a clear-out recently. I tend to do this each season when I am thinking about the months ahead and feel the need to make space. I think that, to let new things in, we do have to let go of things that no longer fit in our lives. Whether this is an old piece of clothing we will never wear again, papers, books or jewellery or something much greater, like a car or a home, job or person, there is a process to go through.
However, letting something go is an emotional process and the thoughts and feelings involved can’t be underestimated. Some things, you just know it is time. Perhaps it’s broken and can’t be repaired, for example. But no matter the circumstance you still have to experience those emotions!
I find it helps to think logically about why the thing needs to go. Perhaps it’s getting rid of some handbags so you have more space for the ones you have or perhaps it’s writing a list of reasons you are not happy in your current job and understanding that change is needed.
I then, to deal with the emotions, try to feel grateful for all the times myself and the thing or person have had together. Perhaps I will even plan one last time to use something so that I can know it’s the last time and feel good about it.
I said goodbye to my wee car this week. I knew it was time to change it to fit my new circumstances but it was still sad! I thought about all the times we had shared, memories, and took it out for one last run. And said a wee thank you. The closure helped.
The other thing that helped was thinking about what I was saying bye to. It wasn’t all the great moments or happy times, they happened and are there. It was saying bye to having more of the same as it is now. Which, as per my logical list, are no longer right for me. And then getting a little bit excited. Because letting go means letting in. Creating space for life to give you something else it knows will fit perfectly.
March 17, 2013
There’s a good quote about not fearing the future because it can only arrive a day at a time. That’s true in the physical sense but if, like me, you don’t just think about a day at a time the thought of the future and the days and things to come can become overwhelming.
I think of it as a negative spiral. You’re worried about something you have to do tomorrow, perhaps something in work or speak to someone new, go to a new class. The worried and fearful thoughts about this thing, if left unchecked, can easily spill into other areas of your life.
You know how it goes: “I’m not good at my job…and actually I haven’t exercised for ages…and my friend hasn’t spoken to me for a week, maybe she doesn’t want to speak to me any more…and I’m not feeling well today actually…” I call this ‘the cloud’ as before you know it you can feel overwhelmed by everything. It seems to descend on you but actually it came from that one thing that you started off worrying about.
It’s a cliche, but for a reason. We really can only live one moment at a time, do one thing, experience one day. Bitesize chunks, little steps, and try not to let worries about one thing turn into worries about 20 things. I still do this all the time but I am trying to be more conscious of my thoughts, realise when I’m getting out of control and try to laugh at myself “right, Jiillii, here comes the cloud!”.
Still learning but like most things, my worries rarely seem to actually materialise and what I think is a huge black cloud is a slight mist in an otherwise clear sky.One day at a time. One moment at a time. One thought at a time.
March 14, 2013
It could just be me but I know a lot of people who enjoy things being neat, tidy and organised. There’s a sense of calm if your surroundings are in order. It usually means your mind is in order. Equally, the act of tidying can be relaxing. Putting things in their place, ordering, organising; you do the same with your thoughts.
For me, I like my sock drawer to be organised. If my socks are all paired, colour-coded and in little neat balls then I feel better about things. On the contrary if I have to rummage through a pile of loose socks to find a pair of the same colour and style then there’s something stressful about that. It’s never good to start your day with a panic trying to find a pair of socks!
To keep things tidy and organised I recommend a little and often approach. One thing I advocate in the workplace is the ‘Friday tidy’. Before you leave for the weekend, spend a wee half hour binning used papers from the week, sort through your files, clean your desk. In doing so, you file away the week, prepare for the new one and have a fresh start on a Monday morning.
A tidy sock drawer. Give it a go!
March 12, 2013
I’ve just finished reading a very interesting book – “How NOT to Wear Black”: http://www.colourconsultancy.co.uk/books.php
It gives an interesting perspective on colour and suggests some reasons why we might not want to wear black. It looks at its role culturally, for example as a religious colour, for mourning or for business. It describes four ‘types’ of people based on colouring and genetic make up and suggests appropriate colours for each to use.
On a softer level, I think colour really can enhance and create a sense of ‘something more’. We all have colours we are naturally drawn to and that people tend to compliment us on. And your day can feel very different if you wear a vibrant colour! Personally, I like to think about the colours I feel like wearing that day and go with that as much as possible. I like to wear scarves and rings and like to coordinate my rings with my clothing. I can also wear more daring colours on accessories than I might in clothing.
I read somewhere else that in an office environment, someone can wear a colour, ie red, and within a few days more people will wear that colour. Apparently it’s a tribal instinct! Different colours give off a different energy and frequency. In fact, studies have shown that blind children are able to identify different coloured scarves.
This is explained in this book as well as more information about how to use different colours and their energies: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1905047258/ref=redir_mdp_mobile
Today’s tip…notice the colours around you, those that others wear, the beautiful and bright shades of nature. And give it a go yourself! Try your day in a new colour and see what it brings you.