Saturday, 10 November 2018

On giving praise and support.

At some time or another I'm sure we've all heard it said that in Britain we tend to pay attention to someone's failures rather than celebrating their successes.

I find this baffling. 

Today on BBC Radio 4  I heard a woman say it again with regards to a battle we won that we rarely hear about - she finished by saying,

"Of course we're more likely to hear about the battles we lost than the battles we won!"

I'm not convinced this is always the case - but I do know I'm tired of witnessing glee at someone's demise rather than elation at their happiness, contentment or achievement.

When a friend, loved one, or a client has a success - whatever form that takes -  I am genuinely delighted for them.

I share their joy and jubilation because I am privileged to be the person they've chosen to tell their story to.  I'm grateful to be around when someone overcomes self doubt and many unspoken, private obstacles to reach their goal. 

Success is such a personal and unique experience.  The observer gleans only a snippet of the battles and self sabotaging thoughts they have managed to subdue in order to stay on the path to where they want to be.

Be kind.
Be grateful.
Be gracious.
Be humble.

When someone wants to share with you - be still and be quiet!  Listen and appreciate that they've chosen to speak to you. 

Isn't it better to listen, support, encourage and praise than ignore, chastise, discourage and condemn? 

We are all struggling in one way or another and small wins should be celebrated!  Let's build each others confidence and bit by bit maybe we can turn this old belief around - maybe one day Britain can be a place where we get pleasure hearing of an individual's achievements, and if someone fails maybe the attention we give to that is to help them learn from it and support them in finding another route to reach their goal.

With love,
Kathleen x

"We can all remember a time when someone encouraged us and made a difference in our lives.  It may be just a moment, but this encouragement could last a lifetime."  - Megan Shull.

Monday, 15 October 2018

The hungry opportunist

If someone is deemed to be 'hungry' for something it's generally seen as a good thing as they are thought to be an unstoppable force, driven and determined to get what they want.

In my opinion it can also be a precursor to a much less desirable, more selfish and even destructive state of affairs.

The hungry opportunist is the worst.

They lose sight of the bigger picture and focus only on what they want by pushing, elbowing, instructing, demanding and manipulating their way to the front.

The hungry opportunist has no grace or humility and never acknowledges others -  they are blinkered and focused only on what they want.

They harbour a selfishness like no other -   a tidal wave washing over everyone,  oblivious to the havoc and pain left behind -  keeping an eye on the target without a thought or care for the lives or work of others.

Each of us should pay attention to the warning signs, so that we can spot when we encounter a hungry opportunist.  The signs are:

* They only talk about themselves.
* They show little (if any) interest in you or your loved ones.
* They always talk about their own achievements.
* They think they are somehow special and better than others.
* They rarely pay attention to 'irrelevant' details like names of people who matter to you. 
* They rarely remember anything that you've done or achieved because ultimately you're irrelevant to them.
* Everything you have to say is dismissed with an attempt to change the subject so the conversation can be quickly brought back to themselves.

There is a lot going on in the head of the hungry opportunist.

They do not want to miss out on being in the limelight.  They get aggressive and emotional at the idea of being side-lined. As the observer, you can feel their panic rising as they worry about losing their 'top dog' status.

They can be ruthless in finding ways to grab their way back to the top position - and ultimately we should feel empathy and sadness for these people, while also protecting ourselves.

Why does someone become a hungry opportunist?

I don't know. 

Most likely there is no single reason. 

Most likely it's covering a multitude of insecurities.

Being a hungry opportunist with a focus on the top position keeps them away from their emotions.

To feel, express and be in their emotional body might be too overwhelming and frightening for them.

In this blog post my care is for you. You must protect yourself, be grounded during your interactions with the hungry opportunist and speak clearly about your needs. Do not let them plough through you with their ideas and plans.

You are a person in your own right and your thoughts and opinions matter.  Your bodymind wants to witness you speaking up, expressing your truth and getting your needs met - please love and respect yourself enough to stand up to the hungry opportunist in your life. 

With love,
Kathleen x

"Selfishness comes from poverty in the heart, from the belief that love is not abundant." - Don Miguel  Ruiz.

Friday, 31 August 2018

When sleep seems a thing of the past.

There's a particular quality to the silence in the early mornings that helps me feel more connected to the natural world. 

Everything seems to be slowly and sleepily presenting outstretched arms to the new day full of optimism and possibility.

However, recently I've not been sleeping very well and with only 2-3 hours sleep a night I'm finding mornings have turned from my most loyal friend to my most irritating foe.

This lead blanket of tiredness has sapped my usual joy of wakening.  I'm now aware of an unusual feeling of separateness from what has been a lovingly familiar and comforting outside world,
as it rouses from darkness to daylight.

I don't know exactly what has triggered this bout of insomnia, but I am sure it will pass.  I will continue to get up, write, work and do all the things I love. 

Catnaps might be in order until my normal sleep pattern returns, until then I'll take a leaf out of Bertie's book - he's got cat napping down to a fine art!

With love,
Kathleen x

" The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you, do not go back to sleep." - Rumi

"In its early stages, insomnia is almost an oasis in which those who have to think or suffer darkly take refuge." Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

Friday, 13 July 2018

Being patient and staying open to giving love.

I took this photo because I was intrigued by the stark contrast between the grass sheltered from the heat of the sun, and the scorched areas outwith the protection of the leafy canopy.

The outstretched arms weighted with an abundance of leaves cast a silent, shielding shadow over the ground below.  The outline of healthy green grass matched perfectly the curves and twists of each branch, twig and leaf.

I felt weirdly sad for the scorched areas on the periphery of the protective shadow - lying just centimetres from the healing canopy unable to change its fate.

Sometimes it might feel like your arms can't stretch far enough to give those you care about most the succour they so desperately need.

All you can do is show them there is an impregnable haven in your protective arms and simply stay open and ready to give them whatever they need to thrive and be well again - and that will only happen when they are ready and able to receive it.

Be patient.

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller.

With love,
Kathleen x

Monday, 18 June 2018

Together we are strong and purposeful

I took this photograph last week while visiting Foreland House and Gardens on the west coast island of Islay.  These steps inspired this blog post.

These beautiful stone steps are each slightly different, each unique slab of stone laid carefully years ago allowing access to the potting shed from the walled garden.

One step without the other would make their purpose futile, but each one placed directly where it should be and the structure and form becomes worthwhile and beneficial.

It seems to me that we've all become a bit obsessed with the need to display our individual uniqueness.

Don't get me wrong, we are all wonderfully unique and we are all emotionally fragile, mortal beings.

The threads that weave us together are a stronger truth than the narcissistic belief that we are different or somehow more special than our neighbour.

This striving to claim and expose our specialness has led to a toxic separateness from our fellow man.

What small thing could you do today to help another person (and you) regain that feeling of  connectedness?

With love,
Kathleen x

"Without the human community one single human cannot survive." -  Dalai Lama

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Leaving behind the voice that controlled you.

If you've ever been in a relationship where you had to get things right or you'd face dire consequences, even though the controlling relationship that started this belief may have ended long ago, you may still be suffering from a deep rooted belief that you must always make sure other people are okay before tending to your own needs.

The idea that you should do what you want to do can send those who've experienced that type of relationship into a head space that has them confused and reeling at the very thought.

While helping others is noble and good - making sure you're okay and that you're getting your needs met is equally, if not more important.

So where do you put yourself in the pecking order?

If you're not at or near the top, why not?

That voice in your head that stops you from moving in the direction that truly makes your heart sing does not belong to you.  It was "gifted" to you long ago from someone who needed to keep you down, someone who needed to control you.  The idea of you being an independent thinker was, for whatever reason, too difficult for them...but that voice has no power over you now.

No matter how small a change you make, start now.  Start by taking a baby step in the direction of what you really want from this life - from your life today.

With love, Kathleen x

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone elses' life.  Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking.  Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." - Steve Jobs

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Seeing the true picture

I could sit and stare at the waves for hours.  My gaze is fixed, but in the periphery of my vision I see wisps of white spray stretching out, squealing for my attention. 
I'm determined to stay fixed in my position, eyes ahead, letting myself sink into contemplative mood refusing to be teased or distracted by the developing drama on either side.
That's always the plan.
Truth is I can't do it.
Maybe I can calm the waves, maybe I can get them to see that there's no need for them to vie for my attention?
But I need to see the whole vista.
I need to have an appreciation of everything;  maybe then I can make some sort of sense of the view in front of me.
So I will keep turning my head and absorbing, observing, understanding all that I can see, only then can I give the best of myself.
"Seeing the bigger picture opens your eyes to what is the truth." - Wadada Leo Smith

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Unique and powerful - that's you I'm describing!

The snow is falling, gently, silently and without any fanfare or fuss.

Unassuming and unaware of the effect each delicate beauty has as they land on the icy ground;
I could go out and start shoveling and gritting, but the forecast is for the temperature to rise a bit later today so I'm opting out and just letting it be without interfering.

Each delicate, unique flake is completely unaware of its individual and collective power.

In a blizzard we can feel lost and irrelevant, but as Voltaire wrote,

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

If you disagree with those in power you must stand up, stand apart and speak your truth.  You are not governed by the weather, you are not a snowflake, you can decide to stand aside and not be pushed or bullied into following the crowd.

Like millions of others I was left aghast, saddened and bemused when Trump was elected.  I was delighted to read that this week Doug Jones, a Democrat won against the Republican Roy Moore in Alabama.. the first time in two decades a Democrat has won there!

Bit by bit the quiet few found their lost voices and remembered their power. One by one they went out to vote and were heard.  Never underestimate your individual and collective strength.

Your feelings are here for you to notice.  This is your time, what do you love?  What is important to you?  Are you able to share that?  Why keep quiet when you have a voice?  Be your wonderful self in glorious technicolour and notice how it feels to share your passion by lifting a lid on your silence.

With love,
Kathleen x

Sunday, 3 December 2017

When the music moves you, you have a choice.

There are times when a piece of music on the radio or television catapults me back to a time that has long since past.

Sometimes I sit and listen to the tune indulging myself in the sadness or joy it conjures up.
Other times I find myself sprinting for the off switch so I don't have to re-live those memories.

Yesterday, on BBC Radio 2,  Paul Gambaccini was doing his show, "Tracks of my years" with 1992 being one of the years on his play list.

What a mixture of mercies that brought up!

My girls and me living in a little farm cottage in Moray, alone but together, freezing but cosy, happy but sad, putting a brave face on it while playing a game I called,  "Let's be like the Victorians!"
We'd play this game whenever I ran out of credit for the electricity meter and I'd stick on the coal fire, light the candles and play board games or make jigsaws in candle light.

Not so long ago my eldest daughter (she's 29 years old now) told me she had no idea, she really thought it was us having fun...that's a relief to know!  She was only 4 years old and all sleeping in one bed, "like the Victorians" made sense to her.
I had no idea how my life would pan out, or what twists and turns it would take...none of us do.

Despite what an onlooker may have seen at that time, I knew life would get better and all would (eventually) be well.  I believe that all three of my kids have inherited the attitude of, "I might be down on my luck, but I'm not out yet" as they have all shown incredibly resilience and resourcefulness when the chips are down; I really admire that in them.

Sharing this is not meant to provoke a pity party - quite the opposite in fact.

I want to encourage you to realise the power of music, and use it for your benefit.  It can uplift you if you're in a chapter of your life that is challenging, and it can hold you down in the doldrums.

So choose your music carefully. Move and dance to the tunes you love, and avoid the music that leaves you feeling heavy and stuck.  The energy we feel when the music moves us can aid our recovery or our hold us in the belief that this is as good as it gets!

Now where's that track," Courage (For Hugh Maclennan)" by The Tragically Hip? I love that one!

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." - Plato

Sunday, 19 November 2017

My story about that hashtag.

I use writing as my way to release the pressure in my head. It's also my hope that on even the tiniest level my words may help, inspire or motivate others.

The recent #MeToo has brought up a whole load of feelings and memories which have been churning inside me for years.  For those who may not know about it, the hashtag followed by MeToo was being used all over social media to mean that person had been harrassed or sexually abused.  The idea was to show the magnitude of the problem across the world.

I feel sadness, a real deep sadness for those millions of men who are respectful, warm, caring and loving - I can't imagine how horrible they must feel at the unraveling and exposure of  men who have behaved abominably and in a way that leaves those decent men baffled, uncomfortable and angry.  I am lucky enough to be married to one of those good men today, and I never take my meeting him nearly 12 years ago for granted.

I haven't used #MeToo on any of my social media platforms... this is not because I've not been harassed or indeed sexually assaulted - sadly the latter on more than one occasion.

For me the first half of the 1980's was turbulent, confusing, sad and filled with excruciating inexplicable emotional and physical pain.

Some, though not all of this was as a result of a few opportunistic predatory men who made me feel worthless at a time when I was incredibly vulnerable, fragile and an emotional mess.  The sudden accidental death of my big brother had catapulted me into a life where my decisions were based around my thoughts which were, "What's the point?"  "I'll be dead soon!" "Who cares? I don't!"

Despite those thoughts the desire to survive and my ability to see there was the potential for a happier life beyond abuse became bigger than all the awfulness. By 1984 I was on a mission to stop allowing conscious-less men to stop assisting me on my path of self destruction and I applied to Nursing Colleges all over Scotland and chose to go to Foresterhill College (West). 

My interview happened, I was offered a place and as soon as I was old enough I left my home town and moved 103 miles north to Moray.

Sometimes I still feel like I was part of the problem.  Then I remind myself that they were adults.  I was a young teenager. They know who they are.  I know who they are.  I am back living in my home town.  That's not always easy as I see the faces of those same men, older, fatter, uglier. Have they managed to re-frame their memories of those events so well that they think saying "Hello!" to me in the street is okay?! 

If you see me.
Stay silent.
Look to the ground and walk on by.

Posting this blog is not going to be easy for me, as there will be people who wish I hadn't. 

Sometimes silence is too dark and hides more darkness. I hope that by sharing this it creates at least a crack wide enough to let in the smallest shaft of light to brighten those corners so abuse starts to be seen wherever it is and has literally nowhere to hide.

To end on a more positive note..
After 10 years of nursing I re-trained at Regent's College, London in Solution Focused Psychotherapy and Reverse Therapy.  Over 14 years on I remain as passionate as ever about helping people live their best possible life free from pain.  Today I understand clearer than ever that some of that passion is driven by my own experiences in early life.  I can't say I'm grateful for that, of course I'd rather none of that happened - but it showed me the strength of my resolve and for that I am glad.

I have a loving husband, 3 grown up kids, two daughters and a son.  They are truly inspirational.

Love yourself, love your family and friends, and keep speaking and sharing your stories. 

With love,
Kathleen x

"Don't judge yourself by what others did to you" - C. Kennedy