Progress not perfection

26andnotcounting.com
26andnotcounting.com

Taking one step, just one, sounds like the simplest thing in the world.

The idea of it is easy enough, the theory sound.

But the actual step…

Ah

Fear has had a lot to say for itself in my life. It shows up in a host of exciting and different ways, masquerading as something else entirely, sometimes even cheekily as a ‘good idea’ or as a ‘great opportunity’.

One of my greatest fears is going backward.

Funny then that it should be my default setting when things get a bit too much.

These last couple of months I have been in the shadow dance of anxiety and depression…not two words I use lightly, however, ones that need to get more airtime in my eyes. The past week was when a particular bout came to a head.

The familiar feelings of  withdrawing, retreating, and shutting down. To feel that any stimulation was too much stimulation – even bike rides on sunny afternoons. And lord the tiredness – the endless sleep that felt, had the setting been different, I would awaken after 100 years by a Prince about to slay a dragon.

The forgetfulness, clumsiness, and attention span of a ten year old. Not the greatest mix whilst navigating traffic lights or trying to meet deadlines. And definitely don’t think it’s a good time to crack out the best glasses/crockery – it’s not.

My ego was also hauling me over the coals for the weight gain that has piled on over the past couple of months – not the best record to be repeating for someone who achieved a weight loss a few years ago and who’s ego dined out on the attention and compliments.

The lack mentality. Lack of time, lack of money, lack of energy, lack of inspiration, lack of confidence and worth, the list could go on.

I don’t write this for attention or sympathy, but as a showing of a life long battle scar, and of a more recent bruising.

For as much as this has been the underlying soundtrack, I have also been lucky enough to see how far I have come.

That I have a support network of people who’s love knows no bounds. Who have all shown up for me and supported me in a heartbeat of time. Who have held space and listened. Who have walked and talked, and kept going when the tears were flowing and I couldn’t say why. But mostly the pride I feel for myself that I put my hand up to say “I am not OK” and opening up instead of shutting down.

That I have learnt enough about myself now to face my darkness head on. To not wait for it to grip me unawares, to turn into it and to whisper “You will not win”. That I have enough reserve to call in the armoury of defences (yoga, nature, mediation, writing, talking, sleeping, getting help) that I have accumulated over the years, even when I don’t feel they are working at the time, the simple action of trying is what calls the wave to come and carry me back to shore.

That is what conquers my fear – that even though I may have slid down the snake for the 100th time, I’ve not landed on the same square.

I have learnt something, I have endured something. I have suffered something. And in that, it makes me better. It makes me a better person, because I can stand across from you and say “It’s OK. ME TOO”.

We all have moments – some pass us, some stick around longer than we’d like. But for me, I know that my determination to climb up the ladder again after falling down, to open, to be exposed, and to have the patience to wait for the sparks of hope to appear and to continue that patience long into the ride back up.

That is progress, not perfection.

TCTC xx

http://www.beyondblue.org.au

The Architects of our own Future Part One

I’ve always been a people pleaser. Maybe because I have always loved people and so making them happy, I thought would make me happy. Wrong. It is wholly unsustainable to make other people happy, nor is it in fact possible. People make themselves happy. Let me redefine that. People can bring joy, connection, companionship, love and respect to others, but to truly make someone happy? Impossible. We have to make ourselves happy. We can only make ourselves happy.

I spent years and years trying to make someone else happy. I’m not even sure I knew specifically who it even was. A mysterious ideal maybe, of what I should be doing, saying, being. What bullshit. I was so far into it, getting more miserable with ever fleeting glimpses of true joy and pleasure in my own sense of self that I was fading. And fast. This made me so…angry. God I was mad, raging red and full of hot hot heat. It was THEIR fault, not mine. Why can’t THEY be more this or less that. Why aren’t they trying to make ME happy when I am so clearly trying to make them happy. Aren’t THEY happy yet? Haven’t I done enough? Where is my reward and glory?

It has taken me literally YEARS to realise that there was NOTHING ANYBODY could have done. Why?

Because I was so desperately disconnected to myself, I wasn’t even sure I knew how to make myself happy, what did I even like that went beyond a face and façade of the escapism found in another bottle of wine, take-away box or packet of cigarettes. Watching mindless television or unmemorable nights spent in pubs or racing round town getting to the third social engagement of the night. Keeping ‘busy’.

I was exhausted. I was so tenderly, twistedly, tormented by running on the spot truly believing that I was getting somewhere, anywhere. Further up the ladder, further away from the low level, increasingly high level anxiety. The unchanging landscape of my life left me bored out of my mind, punctuated only by euphoric moments on recreational drugs with my best friends who were probably in their own sinking ships, where the serotonin flooding my brain cleared enough space for me to feel. TO FEEL. That THIS is what it is about – connection on a tangible, tactile, close, basic level. Proximity to love and tribal community was but a whisper and it felt like home.

But the crashing come down and hangover only impacted harder with the crushing reality of a new week starting, the post-holiday blues kicking in and it all beginning again. Like you’d never been away. Never skipped a beat.

Suffering silently behind the smoking and laughing and alcohol blurred benders of being a ‘laugh’ and ‘loud’ and ‘fun’.

I was in serious trouble. I had to do something.

Like a lighthouse in a perfect storm I saw a lifeline and knew from somewhere else that this was my chance. I went to a festival that cracked me open just a chink. Enough to let the light flood in and bathe my aching soul. I had to DO something. That was it. ACTION. It must be taken, because when you are so shit scared and the two options laid out bare in front of you are carry on and die or finally stop and do something else. Change the course, reroute, turn HARD LEFT.

I quit. I had so much tied up with my job and what I had laid at its feet to fix for me and my own sense of identity that one or the other had to go. Job or sense of self. Pick. I chose self. The wild woman is not dead yet…merely sleeping a long fucking deep arsed sleep.

I was bruised and blaming. THEY were still at fault, I was free-falling and winging every tiny thing.

Book the flight. Go. Fly. Gain ground and time and distance. PERSPECTIVE. Go live in the future where they have sunshine in their voices and smiles in the sea.

Get some Headspace

Headspace

Short fuses and impatience has been common place in my life for…well…ever really.

About ten years ago, it came to pass that what was an initial impatience became a quite serious jump into all out frustration and yes I hate to say it but total irrational losing it like a crazy lady.

This, coupled with developing crippling anxiety and stress at the ripe old age of twenty six, all came to a bit of a climax during, what is kindly referred to by myself and my fella as ‘Black February’.

Seriously as fun as it sounds (Bruce Willis would have headlined should it have been a film).

In short I’d lost my shit and was in serious trouble.

So imagine my little ‘I’m-actually-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time-maybe-I-should-listen’ radar went off when I found out that Andy Puddicombe – founder of Headspace would be a speaker at a festival I was going to (the Do Lectures)

I’d heard of Headspace before and had even downloaded the app (that obviously means I should get the benefits by iPhone osmosis no?) However never actually had found those 10 minutes to stop, until about two years ago.

When, and get this….it was when I recommended to a friend that she should try it because she felt like she was losing her shit on a regular basis and couldn’t calm down. Ah…I can certainly dish out the good advice…

So, time to put the mind where the mouth was and Take 10 for 10 days.

It was the best spent 10 minutes. EVER.

There was a definite ‘No shit Sherlock’ moment when I realised that BECAUSE I was short tempered, irrational, anxious occasionally, and had a fish-like memory,  that meditation was EXACTLY what I needed.

Now I will admit that I am partial to a bit of incense every now and then and don’t have an issue with chanting or getting in touch with my chakra’s however I know plenty of people who do and this is what makes Headspace so truly magic.

There are no bells or chanting, you don’t have to be able to sit in a lotus position, hell you don’t even have to sit on the floor. It’s simply Mr Puddicombe talking you through what to focus on; your breath – something we ALL HAVE TO DO all the time anyway to stay alive.

Brill.

I am proud to say that I have taken 10, I have taken 15, hell I’ve even taken 20 and am now further into the plethora of series on offer,  and it has sincerely changed my life.

Sure I still get annoyed, however I know now that it will pass, that it’s just a thought or a feeling, that everyone has them and that’s OK and to simply LET IT GO.

So if you have a spare two minutes – download the app and give it a go. Isn’t it time you got some head space?

Have you ever tried meditation? What do you think?

TCTC,

Jo x