Friday, 26 November 2010

Measuring happiness

So the UK government are going to put some questions together to gauge the well being of the nation, and yesterday on the radio I heard a BBC "expert" putting forward what she thought could be four of the questions.

* How much love do you have in your life?
* What's the first thought you have in the morning?
* If you could change one thing in your life what would it be?
* If you lost all your material possessions what would you be left with?

The first thought I have in the morning can vary from day to day - sometimes I think, "I must go for a wee!" or I can think, "Where am I? Forres? Shetland? London? Home?" the variations are limitless, but joking aside, I know what she's getting at - do I want to jump out of bed with glee diving head first into the day ahead? Or do I want to pull the duvet over my head and hide away from the world? Well thankfully for me these days I'm more of "jump up and get on with it" kind of person, though there have been times in my life when I have pulled the duvet up over my head and hidden away.

Measuring happiness is never going to be an exact science, and surely for each individual it's about noticing what you feel on a day to day basis. If you find yourself looking back and reminiscing about a time when you felt happier, ask yourself what was happening then? What was happening in your life that isn't happening now? Are you able to re-kindle any of those activities, friendships, hobbies? Are your emotional, physical & spiritual needs being met?

Remember that if we've had the experience of feeling happiness in our lives, we have the ability to feel that again. Life can of course throw us some devastating experiences, but human beings are amazing beings - and it is possible to recover, and be happy again.

Notice what you're feeling today, if you could feel happier what could you do now to take a step in that direction?

"Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness." - George Santayana

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


The butterfly is so bright and beautiful. It flits around darting, seemingly without care or purpose, here to there, hither and thither.
I watch them in my garden - the first sighting in spring is always a great surprise to me and I watch with childlike intrigue following it's every move, wondering where it's going, what lies in store for this delicate creature?
Sometimes when I'm driving here and there catching up with friends, flying down to England to catch up with my daughters and the friends I made in Wiltshire, friends from a time in my life that appears to belong to someone else, I feel like that spring butterfly.
One year I stayed in a holiday house on one of the western isles of Scotland, in the living room displayed on the wall was a selection of butterflies with their wings pinned down, framed and sealed in one place forevermore.
I didn't like seeing them like this, it unnerved me, upsetting to see them so stationary, no flickering wings, no journeying with a destination unknown - just there - encased.
For now I embrace the opportunities I have from being able to travel and move freely from here to there, but at some point I want to be stationary, no pinning down of my wings, but me choosing to stop.
"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sunday, 21 November 2010

One day at a time.....

In 1979 when I was just eleven years old I remember singing along to Lena Martell's "One day at a time" on Top of The Pops...I didn't think much of it actually, it didn't really compare with the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart or the Sex Pistols!
Thirty one years later and I heard that track today and the words just seemed so pertinent.
"I'm only human, I'm just a woman
Help me believe in what I could be and all that I am
Show me the stairway
I have to climb
Lord for my sake
Teach me to take
One day at a time."

Sometimes what lies ahead of us, (or what we think lies ahead of us) seems daunting - too much to handle. So just accept that the stairway ahead, whatever that may be for you, is not insurmountable, it may challenge us, it may be hard work but simply taking one step at a time will enable us to get to the top.

Finally if you are aware that changes need to be made in order for you to live your life authentically and in health, and perhaps you are nervous about what your life will look like in the future. Try not to over think what might or might not happen when you reach the top of those stairs - simply remember that making the decision to change is like putting your foot on the first step of that staircase.

"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are." - John Pierpont Morgan

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


What constitutes success?
A client once told me that if I wanted to be busy and successful at one of my clinics I mustn't do too well as others were likely not to like it, and in her words they might try to, "bring me down a peg or two!" How extraordinary!
Her warning, albeit said with the best of intentions, didn't swerve me away from doing my job to the absolute best of my ability.
Success has to be personal - how we gauge it and how we perceive it. Our culture, the society we live in, our parents, the significant adults in our life - none should be able to dictate what success means to us as unique individuals.
Shifting your awareness to your feet on the ground, using all your senses to engage in this moment, start to recall all the things (big and small) that you have done successfully.

Paying your bills on time.
Making a meal for friends.
Passing the Diploma.
Bringing up your children.
Fixing the shelf.
Being a good neighbour.

In some way, all of us have been successful - and are continuing to be so.
If your headmind has been "given" less than favourable input from the significant adults in your life, who may have told you you were a disappointment to them, a born loser, unsuccessful, whatever it was - let it go!
If you have not "succeeded" in their eyes - why does that matter? Their perception of success belongs to them. Be happy with your successes for you!
"If you want to be successful it's this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe it what you are doing"- Will Rogers

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Yes but...

When I'm teaching a client how to constructively express themselves I often hear the expression, "Yes, but....".
What usually follows is something like, "Yes, but.. there's no point in me saying that to that person as it won't change them.." or, "Yes, but..if I say that I might ruin my friendship with them or upset that person!"
Constructive expression is the opposite of destructive expression.
When we keep grounded, noticing what we feel and saying it while staying connected to our body, we are going to be in a calmer place. Our words will be clear, concise and the way we deliver it will be unpretentious, the result is that the person you're speaking to is more likely to actually hear you.
When we are "wound up" and stuck in our heads..hell bent on letting that person hear what WE FEEL we are wrapped up in our ego and can blurt out any number of emotive, hurtful words.
This is destructive expression and is not what the peace loving, all knowing bodymind wants for you.
"Yes, but ... what if" a sign that you are not staying grounded in this moment. You have moved away from your body and are predicting the future, analysing and over thinking what might or might not happen.
Remember your body does not differentiate between you holding in your grief, or holding in your joy. It wants all emotions to be expressed....while keeping an alignment between your body and your head!
Do not worry either if by saying what you really feel now your, "Yes but.." is concerned with it not being what others expect you to say - others who thought they knew you! This can be a liberating journey for you, a time to notice what you feel and a time for others to hear it - constructively!
Enjoy practising staying in the NOW!
"Be yourself and speak your mind today, though it contradict all you have said before." - Elbert Hubbard

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Turning towards the sun

The other night I was at a Dougie MacLean gig - he's a Scottish singer/songwriter probably best known for writing the song "Caledonia" - which somehow manages to make you feel homesick even when you're home is in Caledonia!

Before performing one of his songs he explained it had been written following a visit to see his father in a hospice. He spoke very lovingly of his father, and explained that he had found conversation with him as he was dying very difficult. On this occasion he decided to ask his fathers advice on caring for a gladioli plant he'd been given, his fathers response, Dougie felt was very poignant and related not only to the plant but to life.

"The plant's not thriving Dad!" he said, "What should I be doing?"

"Turn the plant to the sun, just keep turning it - keep it in the sun!"

As Dougie got ready to sing the song he said, "Nothing thrives in darkness."

So true.

We can withdraw like wounded animals when we feel emotionally beaten, crawling into our caves and hiding away. Shutting the curtains on the outside world we can convince ourselves, that the pain will go away if we just don't see or interact with anyone or anything.

To me turning towards my "sun" has meant leaning on friends, sharing my deepest fears and sadness with them. By doing this they have helped illuminate the darkest corners of my heart - letting me see that despite the awfulness of what has happened in the past there is nothing to gain and everything to lose by staying with the darkness.
"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." - Maori proverb

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

PMS = Honesty?

A deep sadness crept up on me today. My heavy heart felt cumbersome as I tried trundling on with my daily tasks - the intensity of my headminds interaction with me was such that there was no ignoring it! Bit by bit sad thoughts and memories crept into my mind and I felt heavy and tired.

I did think STOP! Then I shifted my awareness to my feet on the ground and tried to use all my senses to engage in the reality of NOW! It was then that I worked out (call me a genius if you like!) that I'm pre-menstrual, and it got me wondering....when folk have too much to drink they often expose a side of themselves seldom seen by others. Some might say, "the truth comes out" at those times.

Well, I don't drink any more - but I wonder if my PMS enables me to expose part of my true self I prefer, or choose, to keep hidden?

Of course I have sadness in my life, just as we all do, and I'd like to believe that I constructively express that sadness to my nearest and dearest friends as and when it arises. However I'm also willing to believe that sometimes I ignore it, believing that it will go away in time. But I know that holding in how we really feel will contribute to us developing physical symptoms, as that is the only tool the bodymind has to get our attention and encourage us to authentically express ourselves.

So, just as alcohol enables more freedom of expression to take place, with tongues loosening up and emotions tipping out, I wonder if my fluctuating hormones have the same effect?

Maybe, on the occasions I've not been as emotionally honest as I could be, my bodymind uses my hormonal changes like the release valve on a pressure cooker in order to avoid excessive build up and a return to symptoms.

Whatever it is - I feel better already having written this down!

All emotions are equally important and have a purpose, that purpose is to be constructively expressed. I mustn't see it as a sign of weakness that sometimes I get sad - I know my default setting is to have humour and laughter in my life - and sadness is okay too :)
"Women complain about pre-menstrual syndrome, but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself." - Roseanne Barr