Friday, 18 November 2016

When you need to break the mould...

Do you ever feel like you're in a world where you don't belong?

Where everything that's happening seem to completely contrast what your soul feels?

I do, and I feel it all. the. time.

In a world that is focused on achievement and success, the only thing I strive for is happiness.

I do not want to drive to work every day, spend my day sitting in a box, rinse and repeat.

The things that make my soul happy are as follows:

Orange-burst clouds that surround the sun when it rises, streaked across the horizon welcoming the day. A reminder that the universe just presented you with another gift.

Pinkey-orange skies that set the clouds on fire as the sun sets, a sign that the day is over and what has gone before can be laid to rest.

Bare feet on grass.

The sound of waves crashing on the beach.

Falling asleep to the sound of rain.

The contrast of a deep blue sky against firey orange autumn leaves. That moment when trees remind you that letting go can be beautiful.

Cuddling up to my forever-human when we go to bed, and in those early hours of the morning when you stir awake. Pure human warmth.

Sitting on the sofa in comfy clothes with a blanket watching films with people you love.

Spending time with people I love - walking, talking, drinking coffee. Quality time.

NONE OF THESE THINGS INVOLVE MONEY.

I am sick of consumerism, competition, comparison and the superficial obsessiveness of society. I long for a world where people are valued for their honesty, kindness, friendship and support, not how much work can be squeezed out of them or how much money they can make. Where people are valued for the individual skills that they have rather than trying to pulverise everyone into the same sized box.

Everyone is different - that's what makes the world go round, it is what adds value and depth to our society. So why do we all have to follow the same path? We try to train our children into a routine, send them to school where everyone learns the same subjects for the same amount of time, even if they find one thing easy and another more challenging, then we send them to further education, or straight into work, where they function on the conveyor belt of a corporate business who wants to get as much labour for as little as possible so their profit margins are maxed.

My goal is to become self-sufficient. I am employed, but also self-employed. I work as a Doula and Antenatal Educator, but I hate marketing myself!! I need to get over that challenge so I can reach the point of no longer needing employment. My partner and I have plans for a house where we can grow our own veg, and also gradually install energy saving processes into our home - solar panels (or tiles - go Tesla!!), a small wind turbine, and water recycling. Our children will be home-schooled and can choose their own passion in life - yes they will learn the basics, but they will learn them at their own pace and be encouraged to learn more about topics which they are enthusiastic about - Happiness is doing what you love.

Changing the world, one generation at a time.

#LetLoveHealTheWorld

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The need for now...

The need for now.

Modern life.

Everything convenient and readily available.

Hilariously, it is the addition of Amazon Prime to our household that has me considering this blog post. Along with a few months of fairly intense depression.

I ordered a new journal today, along with some coloured pens. I have some (probably misguided) belief that a new journalling system (see: Bullet Journal) will help me be more organised, motivated and focused in achieving my goals and dreams, even though I often don't seem to posses the power to get out of bed.

I ordered a new journal, and thanks to Amazon Prime, it'll be here TOMORROW. I ordered pens, which will also be here TOMORROW. I have always been the person who has stuff in my basket for weeks to try and get my total to over £20 to save on delivery costs, and get everything in one delivery to save the environment. Yet now, just because I want to, and because I can, I can have everything almost immediately.

WHY??

Why all this urgency, this impatience, this need for NOW, instantaneous gratification?

What was so awful about the natural rhythm of life, of waiting, of taking things slowly and allowing ourselves time to breathe?

There's an ebb and flow, an up and down, a fast and slow cycling rhythm to life that we don't seem to pay attention to anymore. There's no time for healing, no time to take a break, life is demanding, you need to keep going, if you don't have dreams there's no point to you waking up.

I have no small doubt that all of the above contributes to my depression, which is all consuming and debilitating. Despite some fairly serious trauma during my childhood, at no point have I allowed myself a break. To stop. To heal. To find out, quite frankly, who the fuck I am.

18 months ago, when I had reached the point of considering throwing myself out of my window, hourly, I quit my job and moved home. The point being to take some time off, to give myself a break, to try and heal, get my brain together. Unsurprisingly, that didn't happen. There was the push to find a job, no matter how part time, so that there were no gaps in my CV and I would continue to be employable. There was no allowance to check out of life for a while, it just wasn't an option. Because as my Dad said - "the merry-go-round doesn't stop. So if you get off, you will find it very hard to get back on again".

Is that true? Is it even necessary? What if I don't want to get back on the merry-go-round? Not in an "I don't want to be alive" kind of way (no matter how often that may be true) but simply what if I don't want to get back on something that spins me round and round and round yet leaves me in exactly the same place I started - exhausted, depressed, disillusioned and no better off?

What if I want something different, and that's why I find this life so hard? What if all I want is simple? To live, to share experiences, to learn skills I will actually use in life, to support and help people, cook for those I love, keep a home, raise a family, teach them how to be world changers and peacemakers? By my estimations, I should have been born in the 1970s, or in the middle of a forest.

I want off grid. I want communion. I want real food and proper rest. I want skill-swaps, local shops, endless nights of talking about the world. I want real people and less meaningless communication. I don't have time for small talk.

Whilst full of rambling, this post in itself has been healing for me. The realisation that I am a circle in a world that wants me to be uniformly square doesn't mean I'm wrong. It just means my mould was different. The real problem is the fact that the world wants everyone to be the same.

I have wonderful dreams and goals - I want to be an antenatal teacher, to support and guide people through pregnancy and childbirth through to the incredible journey that is becoming parents. There's a lot of learning and work to be done on my way there. At present, I feel frozen - because I feel like I am supposed to be good enough NOW. I feel unable to give myself the time to learn. How fucked up is that? I'm expecting myself to be an expert instantaneously. Maybe I should work on absorbing books by osmosis.

Nothing happens NOW. Slow down. Take a breath. If all else fails, take a break. Running yourself into the ground doesn't get you there any quicker. It just digs you a bigger hole.

Take it from me - I'm learning the hard way.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Depression and the mask...

What do you do when your footsteps don't feel like yours?
What do you do when life seems like it's closing all the doors?
When the smiles are fake, and you need a break,
From the life you're living now?

What do you do when your reflection isn't you?
When there's cracks in your soul, leaking the truth?
When you're feeling small, starting to fall
and you don't know how...

To lift your head up, take the next step
To keep on smiling, take the next breath

When the pain is too much and your soul is breaking
The wounds are too deep and your heart is aching
You can't forget and the memories are haunting,
The world is too heavy and you just can't...

Lift your head up, take another next step
Keep on smiling, take another breath.

-------

I swear to God the next person who tells me to "cheer up, it's nearly Christmas", or that "things aren't really that bad" is going to get slapped.

Depression isn't just someone feeling a bit sad. You can't just tell them to cheer up. If it was that easy, trust me we'd do it. Do you seriously think that we enjoy feeling like this? That it is fun to get into your car hoping that someone is going to crash into you? To want so badly to go to sleep and not wake up? To have this massive black hole in your chest when you get up in the morning?

I have done everything I can think of to feel better. I try my best to eat well, to exercise when I can, take supplements and be kind to people. I have done counselling, I have done CBT, I've put in the work and I try to think positively as much as possible. The thing is, depression isn't something you THINK. It's something you FEEL.

I can tell you now that I do not wake up in the morning thinking about how depressed I am. I wake up in the morning and am incredibly grateful for my fluffy alarm clock, because she's gorgeous and incredibly happy. She also means I have to get up in the morning because her tiny tummy needs feeding. I have a shower and I notice the massive sinking weight on my chest, I feel like I am sat at the bottom of a lake, yet still having to function in the normal world. I spend most moments trying not to to cry because then I would have to explain what is wrong, and I can't.

I just FEEL BAD. I feel miserable, despairing, I feel hopeless, angry and hurt. I feel like I am being sucked into a black hole. Sometimes I can hardly breathe and it's difficult to move. But I have to, because I am the expert at my mask, and funnily enough, depression is bad enough, but it gets a whole lot worse if you don't have a job. So I push on.

BUT I AM TIRED. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. I WANT OUT. I WANT OFF.

So don't tell me to cheer up because it's Christmas. I have an incredibly small amount of energy left, and I'm using it to stay alive. There is very little left to act happy.




Wednesday, 1 April 2015

To stand by and watch...

It's hard. To stand by and watch.

To watch a person crumble.

To watch a soul be broken.

To watch a spirit shatter.

To watch a life change.

It's hard for many reasons. To stand by and watch someone break is heart-breaking because to feel so deeply is to love. To truly love is to open yourself to be hurt. You're not only witnessing someone in pain, but feeling it within your own soul. Whilst in its description it may sound selfish, to stand by and watch is to experience it twice.

Because it's not just hard to stand by. It's terrifying to stand by, and not be able to do anything. To watch someone suffer the way you suffered. To know that they only thing you can do, is stand by long enough to be there to pick up the pieces. To forsee the consequences and simply observe is no less painful than watching a train wreck, right in front of your eyes.

However, much like the train wreck, you can only stand by and observe. You cannot intervene. Because the lessons you learned, the strength you gained, the strategies you developed, the insights you found, the future challenges that you overcame, would not be possible without the experiences that got you there.

No matter how tough, how heart-breaking and soul-destroying, you have to allow people to walk over their own hot coals.

Sometimes you have to break something down before you can build it back up again. And when you fill the cracks with gold, you'll have something stronger and more beautiful than before.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Breaking In New Shoes...

I got home from work today and instead of kicking off my shoes and relaxing, I laced up my new walking boots and stomped around the house for a while. They need breaking in before I wear them properly.

Then I realised something.

Life is simply a series of breaking in new shoes.

Learning to walk...a bit stumbly, a few bumps, heavy steps at first.

Starting school...unknown, uncomfortable, but gets easier after a few days.

Starting a new job, a relationship, learning something, moving, changing habits. Beginning things, ending things, being in the middle when you feel like nothing is moving. All of these things need wearing in.

They don't feel quite right to start with, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. It just means they haven't got your footsteps imprinted in them yet, they haven't moulded to your groove.

The most important thing, is you have to keep walking.

Keep walking. It gets better. I promise.

Change is uncomfortable, but we are constantly changing. And we are constantly growing.

Which means sometimes, you have to buy new shoes.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

An End and A Beginning...

So, Hello January. Goodbye December. Goodbye 2014.

A whole new year, 365 new chances, a brand new beginning.

2014 was in many ways, not a good year for me. It was possibly my worst. There were good moments, I had some wonderful times with friends, I met new people, had great conversations, enjoyed some lovely walks, and I learnt. A lot. About life, about goals, about dreams, about people, about relationships, and about myself.

I am grateful for all of those things. Every single one of them.

There were bad moments. A relationship that I had put a lot of effort into broke down, bringing a lot of low self-esteem with it. I held on to toxic people for longer than I should have, making things worse. I made a lot of changes; I left a University course that was misaligned with my values, I started a job, I moved house, I lived with someone I didn't know, my car broke, someone stole my bike. I left my job, I moved again. Everything got a little bit overwhelming. Everything got a lot overwhelming.

I felt useless, I felt incapable. I felt unworthy of being a living human being. I felt like I was a waste of space. Everything was scary, everything was too much. I couldn't cope. I couldn't function. I got in my car and wanted to drive into walls. I sat at my desk and wanted to carve lines in my arm. I sat in my bed and wanted to throw myself out of a window. I had to be talked into carrying on for the next 30 minutes. Someone else had to be my will to live.

Yet I am still grateful for all of those things. Because they taught me probably one of the most important things that I learnt in 2014. Because I did the hardest thing that I will ever have done.

The hardest thing I will ever do is staying alive when all I wanted to do was die.

It doesn't get worse than that. It doesn't. You can't get any lower than that. I have been briefly suicidal before, in my teens. I had many months where I couldn't really see the point of staying alive. But it was nothing like this. It was not this intense, burning, pain in my soul. It was not this urge that would not leave my mind, this urgent desire to just not EXIST.

AND I SURVIVED.

Somewhere, somehow, I found that I posses the strength to push all the way through that kind of darkness. I found the power to carry on stumbling forward with some kind of faith that there was a boundary to this darkness.

That's pretty awesome.

The other awesome, is the gratitude that I have for the friends that stood by me. Because it is not only my strength that kept me alive, (or, to quote one of my friends, my "bloody-minded determination to not just lay down and die") it was the collective strength, and love from my friends. I don't believe that anybody said I had to stay alive because they wanted me to. There were no ultimatums. They just wanted me to stop hurting. What they wanted, what they wished for me, was to feel better. To be happy, to enjoy things.

It's something so simple. Yet means so very much.

So Happy New Year. Forget the resolutions and all the things you think you should change. Just read the second word of this paragraph and figure out what you can do to be that.

What I learnt this past year is that is doesn't matter when the reality turns out to be so very different to the dream. That it is okay to change your mind. To review your dreams. To alter your path and modify your wishes. You can transform your future by adjusting your expectations.

Life is NOT about your career, your salary, your perfect home, a tidy bedroom and a neatly ticked to-do list. Life is about people, not things. About places, about sights, sounds, experiences. It's about mistakes, not perfection. About learning, about sharing and inspiring. When you spend so much time following your to-do list, you forget about all the things that happen on lines in between. When you become so focused on your career, you forget about all the things that money can't buy.

All the exciting things happen outside of the box, so stop trying to tidy things back into it.

Go. Live. Do. Appreciate things.

2015 will be the year that I THRIVE. Join me?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Life and fear, eb and flow...

I'm only just starting to realise that life comes in waves. That sometimes I'm okay, and then all of a sudden I'm not. Just like sometimes there's a calm sand-filled beach. Then suddenly there's a tide.

There's no cause and no reason, and there doesn't have to be. At least not right now. The tide just is. It ebs and flows under the cycle of the moon. I haven't found my moon yet. That's okay. For now it's just an eb and flow.

I can feel calm, and happy. I can enjoy times with my friends. I can feel capable, plan things, and feel like stuff will work itself out. I can relax and feel the sun.

Then all of a sudden I am drowning in a tide. I can't breathe and I don't know which way is up. I kick myself deeper in my confusion, and pressure and panic set in. The world is terrifying and I'm alone in darkness. I feel powerless and incompetent. I'm anxious and scared. I am paralysed, and crying tears into the sea that's drowning me.

The chilling thing is, that once you've lost yourself in the depths of the ocean, and you've realised just how dark and quiet it is, there starts to come a strange and peaceful acceptance that makes you wonder if you should bother trying to work out which way is up. That if you're already hidden in the darkness, no-one will notice if you just disappear.

So I figure I gotta find myself a dive-light. Because experiences tells me that you need to dive deeper before coming up for air.