I’m not good at this down time lark, to be honest.
My brain is very busy. VERY busy. It never seems to want to give me a break.
This is fantastic for ideas, and creative problem solving, and my work ethic. Well, you would think so, right?
Turns out, maybe not so much. Like, I want my brain to be running on full speed when I’m having ideas, problem solving, and working on my business. I don’t want to be half assing it.
There’s a huge drive within me to keep working (we talked about some possible reasons for that, Right Here)… but that’s maybe not the best thing for my business or my success. Or my health. Because taking time off for family, friends, outdoor activities and even old-fashioned daydreaming has clear benefits for productivity, as well as for your mental and physical health.
Yeah, I know. Seems obvious right? But…
Probably every culture on the planet has a traditional ‘day of rest’. Maybe not every single one, but, let’s agree at least that it’s a VERY common theme.
Often, we refer to it as a ‘lazy day’ now, which, you know what? Doesn’t have very positive connotations for most of us. Even if we’re binging on netflix, or going for a walk, or reading an eBook, we mostly stay switched on with our phones or tablets or laptops. We’ve got notifications and alerts popping up and intruding in constantly.
I’m not saying you have to go tech free for true down time (although, when is the last time you did THAT for any length of time?!), but there’s a significant difference between strolling through sand dunes of a sunday with an audio book playing through your headphones and your dog racing round at your feet, to sitting slumped on the couch or in your bed half watching TV with your phone in your hand for scrolling through Facebook. I’m sure we can all see that.
The point is to create genuine space and time to give your body, mind, and spirit a chance to fully relax and recharge.
Yeah. Confession Time.
I literally took zero down time last week. I worked every evening and all through the weekend, til 10pm, 11pm, or midnight every single night.
That’s not good, and I am REALLY feeling sapped and drained starting the new week. My shoulder is in agony every morning when I wake, my knee has swollen back up (old injuries), I’ve had no time or energy to keep up my 8 week cycle plan so that fell by the wayside. I’m not sleeping right, and I’m grumpy as fuck.
That’s not right, and it’s not fair either on the lovely people I live with, or on me.
So, I’m working on it. Or rather, not working on everything all at once, and trying to take WAY more down time this week. I’ll let ye know how I get on, ok?
It’s 11.33pm of a sunday. I’ve been working all day (ok, I started a little late, but it was still before noon when I sat at my desk), and teaching in my online classes and programmes since 7pm.
I have to work late like this once a month, on the last sunday, when I teach regular classes. But I also have to take world time zones into account – I find a starting time of 9pm Irish Standard Time on a Saturday or Sunday suits most of the people, most of the time.
There’s admin to finish up, making sure everyone got access and there are no customer service issues I missed while I was teaching (sometimes tech glitches happen), and I’ve to wait for all the files to save and download safely as I record all my classes as a bonus for those who’ve signed up… but also for resale later on too. Those files are important!
Between the hottin’ and the trottin’, as my Nana says, I didn’t get a chance to write this post earlier today, but I promised a daily one so, here I am (before midnight!) keeping my promise. It might not be a very long one. Or I mean, it might, because we all know I can be a little wordy. And it might not be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done, but it’ll be done.
Because that’s what self discipline looks like. That’s what it takes to run your own business. And that’s what it means to serve a community who may be counting on you.
I hate it. I hate being like this. I’m exhausted.
I wish my life was easier…
Or do I? Do I love this, really? Am I addicted to hard work? Do I push myself so hard as a form of punishment, a replacement for the self mutilation I used to do that has left permanent scars on my body? Do I have self inflicted scars on my spirit?
One of the most difficult parts about trying to heal from all the things and grow as a balanced person, is the work of separating out – or trying to – what’s a natural part of my personality, and what is a conditioned or trauma response. I was very young, 14 years old, when an older man began to groom me for a relationship. Oh I thought I was worldly and sophisticated. I was completely sure by the age of 16 that I was madly in love with that man. He was my soulmate, in fact, young me would have you know.
How do I look back at that young person and follow a true path from there to here? How do I figure out which trees in this forest I now find myself wandering through are native, and which have sprung from seeds that were planted; that are invasive and strangling and poisonous.
I’m in the middle of this forest. All I see around me are trees. Many look different from each other, and there have been a few obvious nasty twisted ones I’ve been able to spot and uproot, even though they were well established and those roots ran deep. I’m still finding the odd sucker and creeping tendril as they try to reform, to be honest. Maybe that’s part of my life’s work now too, consistently digging them out as they try to re-establish themselves.
But the rest just look like trees. They’ve been there so long, and they’re so well established, that they look and feel like they belong there. Like they’re an essential part of the life of this forest.
How do I know which is which?
It takes work. And it’s not easy, but I’m doing it. Because this forest is worth tending, is worth taking care of, and is worth the effort of cultivating and caring for until it’s the healthiest it can be.
With that, and with the clock about to strike midnight on this ramble through my soul, I will say goodnight.
And leave you with my hope that you, too, see that you are worth any effort, any work.
Let’s do the work.
(Small Content Warning: reference to child abuse, fyi)
You were born worthy.
No really, you were. We all were. I mean, think about it. Nobody (I hope none of ye anyway) looks at a baby and thinks they have to earn love. That they have to do anything to deserve care. That, as they develop, their thoughts, acts, or achievements have to meet some exacting high standard before they will be acknowledged or respected.
Because that would be abusive behaviour, right? If a person was doing those things or expecting those things from a baby or a small child, they’re abusing that child.
And if you, by any chance, were abused in any of those ways… I am so very sorry. But even so, I would hope that you wouldn’t turn around and treat another baby or child in any of those ways.
Feck, this got real deep real fast. *Goes to add a small content warning to the top of the post.* I’m getting to the point, I promise.
You were that child.
You were born deserving love, and care, and acknowledgement of your development and growth and efforts. You were automatically worthy of all that, just by the simple fact of being born.
Most of us would agree with that, right? Like, logically we can see that to be true, and right, and a good way for folk to be going about their business in the world. The difficult part comes with translating that into a sense of self worth now.
Do you ever feel you’re not worthy of love? That you don’t deserve care? That your thoughts, words, actions are not good enough to be acknowledged or respected?
If you’re about to say no, that’s not you… just stall that there for a second and consider that sometimes, even if we don’t consciously think those things, they are messages we have internalised for ourselves. And so we think or act in ways that may be unconsciously sabotaging our chances of love, care, and respect. We may not truly love, care for, or respect our own selves.
If that’s still not you, for real, in any way… fucking good on ya. For real. See ya tomorrow for a different topic, all right?!
I suspect though, that for most of us here there’s some painful truth in all of that. Somehow, as we go through life from childhood to here, we pick up and absorb these thoughts or feelings that we are not enough, as we are, to deserve good things for ourselves.
Sometimes there’s a clear and obvious primary cause for this. An abusive parent or ex, for example, who consistently undermined your courage, your belief in yourself, your trust in… everything.
But we are also surrounded by commercial messaging, literally from birth, that is designed specifically, by really smart people who often understand your brain way better than you do, to make you feel that you are not good enough. That you have all of these problems, and it’s only with the judicious application of Product X or the life saving support of Service Y that you can be good enough. For a while at least.
This seeps into society too, so the people around you are consistently reinforcing these messages. That’s how advertising works. It gets a foot in the door of your brain and eventually, as pressure mounts and your confidence falls, you begin to do their work for them.
The innate sense of self worth you were born with, has been syphoned off in a steady stream through the years – sometimes actively and with intent, but also passively – leached from all of us into the fabric of the world in which we live, for the benefit and profit of the 1%.
That’s a bit grim, right?
It is. So. What are you doing about it?
What can you do?
First off, that little bollix that lives in your brain, that whispers bad things about you to you? You need to strangle that fecker.
Take a day and make note of every negative thing you think or say about yourself. Just one day. But every single thing. Make a mental note of them as they happen, or better yet write them down. In a journal, or on a stack of post its or something.
Do whatever it takes to make it super obvious how regularly we shit talk ourselves, and how awful the things we think and say actually are. Like, really look at them, at the end of the day. Your little collection of awful things about you.
They’re not true you know.
Your feelings are not facts. Your brain is giving you worst case scenarios, worries, concerns and negative biases.
Please, for the love of dog, recognise that your negative feelings are not the truth, and refuse to internalise them as such. Just don’t accept them. And if there’s one or two you’re genuinely not sure about, ask a friend. Look for evidence.
I’m betting you’ll be given out to for being unkind to yourself (if you have good friends), or that you won’t find any solid objective evidence to support the untruths you have been telling yourself.
Finally, for now (because oh you know we’re going to come back to the topic of self worth, if for no other reason than that it’s something I struggle with constantly), focus on the things you do like about yourself. Yes, you have them. Find them ok?
When you catch that brain weasel bollix attempting to say nasty things about you, do a mental switch. Imagine yourself as a small child, and the brain bollix is somebody horrible. Are you going to really let that fecker scar that small child for the rest of its life?
No, I hope not. Take care of that little version of you, and let it grow and develop to an abundance of self worth. You deserve it.
We’ve talked a lot about routine, and I know that my morning routine I’ve been sharing can seem like… a lot.
Like, it is a lot. It takes me 2 hours to go through everything at a comfortable pace. I hope that I’ve conveyed the benefits of putting that effort in, because for me it’s not only necessary to include those things in my day, and my system, in order for me to ‘survive and thrive’ – it’s also all stuff I want to do, that makes me happy and comfortable and fulfilled.
But, you don’t have to start there.
In fact, if you don’t currently have a morning routine, it would be a bit of a stretch to expect yourself to DO ALL THE THINGS, every day, and keep it up until it all becomes habit.
Remember, this system has developed for me over time, like my bullet journal and all the other stuff. I’ve figured it out as I went along, and there have been many, many abject failures, and other times when I’ve just gone way off track before bringing it back for myself.
With any routine, you have to start small.
It’s where you make one tiny change and stick with it for a while, and then that becomes a trigger for another change, so that you end up creating a positive chain.
So pick one thing.
Is it getting up as soon as the alarm goes off each morning? Set it the night before and leave it on the other side of the room (plug your charger in over there, is what I do). Make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time to get enough sleep, but even if you have a bad night, understand you’re getting up as soon as the alarm goes off. Regardless. It’s too fucking easy to make excuses. When you hear it ring, just countdown 5-4-3-2-1 and move. That one is a Mel Robbins trick that is really useful in many situations, by the way. You can find more on that in her book The 5 Second Rule (on Amazon US here, or on Amazon UK here). Get out of bed, stay out of bed, then go and pee, brush your teeth, drink water. Whatever is the logical next step for you to get moving and stay moving.
You can use the micro habit thing for starting any habit, but if you (eventually) want to make a series of big changes, try and list them all out, then pick the logical first one. Where do you need to start? Start there.
You’ll need to find a trigger event or condition, a cue that is the same every day. You can begin something that will be on every other day, by the way, rather than 7 days per week, but honestly my best success has been with just biting the bullet and doing the thing 7 days a week. Once it’s formed, you can take an occasional down day or day off if circumstances run differently, but it’ll take the daily repetition to form a habit. If the habit you want to form is to get up at a certain time on workdays, you’re just gonna have to get used to the fact that that’s your new wake up time every day. Soz, not soz. It’s for the best.
So choose the right cue to remind you of your goal, and kick off the new behaviour. I find something that is sort of unavoidable to happen at the same time every day to be the best one. Coming home from work, if that’s a regular time for you. Letting the dog out last thing at night. Your first morning pee. And if you don’t wake up needing to pee each morning, please increase your water intake, you are dehydrated. You’re welcome. Anyway, you get the idea.
Whatever the habit you eventually want to form is, please start small. You’re making a tiny change here, eg, take a 5 minute walk around the block. One of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking we have to go from zero to hero in one fell swoop. You really don’t. Yes, you may truly want or even need to be walking 30 minutes a day every day. That’s a great goal to build up to. But if you’re starting from no walking, and can do those 5 minutes a day every day, that’s still over 30 minutes that week that you didn’t walk last week. You’re winning, keep going.
Do 5 minutes a day every day for the following week, and you’re 14 days into a habit. That’s serious progress. At that point, you could just keep going that way and really bed in your walking habit for the following 2 weeks, giving you a well established month’s worth of daily habit. That’s a huge success! Or, if you’re getting a little frustrated with only walking the 5 minutes, you could at that point (but not before!) raise the bar – only a little – and make it 10 minutes a day, every day. You see how this all works out, I’m sure. Eventually you will build up to the goal you want, without the side-effects of feeling overwhelmed or exerting any more willpower. It makes sense right?
The most important bit though, to include from the very start of your micro habit, is a little reward once you’ve done the thing each day. Something small that you enjoy, that won’t end up being real bad for you as you indulge in it every single day! A soothing cup of tea or coffee, a fancy piece of fruit, your first facebook check-in of the day, a piece of music you love, or curling up to read or watch something you love. Whatever floats your boat.
There’s a bit more to this whole habit forming (or breaking) thing, which we’ll definitely go deeper into as we move through the days. But for now, what 1 thing are you going to change from today, or tomorrow morning? What positive habit would you like to form, starting now?
Give us a shout in the comments below and tell us!
All the best
So I practice at least a simple meditation technique every day.
Or at least, I try to. It can be anything from a 20-30 minute Guided Journey, down to one single minute of focused mindful breathing.
A lot of the work I do, both personally spiritual and professional, is about Guided Meditation, or rather, Guided Journeys. If you’re not familiar, meditation is an umbrella term for any number of techniques or mental/physical exercises which you might engage in (like concentration on your breathing or repeating an affirmation, or a mantra).
We do this for so many reasons, from the quest to achieve a heightened level of spiritual awareness, to calming anxiety and stress, to a desire for awareness and self regulation. A guided meditation is when someone takes you through a meditation with the sound of their voice and the ‘script’ they have prepared. Not all meditations are guided.
A Guided Journey is all of the above, but specifically the guide is bringing you to a certain time or place in the spiritual realms, or your own interior landscape, usually for a particular purpose, and then bringing you back again safely. That last one is the bit most Guided Journeys fail on, by the by.
I have a multitude of guided meditations and guided journeys that I have recorded – you can check some of that out at www.Guided-Meditation-Journeys.com. I’m in the process of setting up a whole system of Guided Meditation and Journeying in the Irish Otherworld there, in fact, through 3 different levels… but you know what’s weird? Listening to the sound of your own voice.
Yeah. So even though I have exactly what’s best for me right at my fingertips, I can’t really use my own stuff, except on specific ritual occasions sometimes.
Now, the other problem that comes along with this is, I’ve been Journeying for over 20 years, and I know what’s safe, what’s good practice, and what is shit and scary and no way stay the fuck out of my mental brainspace with that nonsense please and thank you.
That last category is the biggest by far.
So. Many. Scammers. Cashing. In.
The upshot of all this is that I have literally 2 things I can use for my own meditation practice. I mean, there might be more, but these 2 work for me so I’m sticking with them.
Firstly, for long form healing Journeys, my friend Izzy Swanson is amazing, and her work is particularly suited to my trauma healing. You can find her, and her Guided Journeys, on Patreon here – https://www.patreon.com/izzyswanson. I know her work is safe.
I do those Journeys as often as I can (they run deep, and I’m in a somewhat changing place with my own healing right now, so I have to be a bit careful about cracking myself open).
But for the everyday, I use an app on my phone called Calm. There’s a daily guided meditation that takes about 5 minutes, as well as a whole range of other stuff like topical meditations, sleep stories, and even wellness classes.
Your woman’s voice that does the dailies is quite pleasant, and there’s a different little inspirational bit included at the end which is sometimes – yeah whatever cool story – but sometimes strikes me quite deeply and leaves me thoughtful for the day.
And they show a little calendar at the end of your session to track how many times you use it, and your current ‘streak’, ie how many days in a row you’ve done the daily meditation.
So. That’s all grand.
I’d a good little streak going, like, 8 days? I mentioned that I struggle with self care and consistently doing the things I know are good for me, right? And then for some reason yesterday, I didn’t.
Then last night, I had TERRIBLE anxiety dreams, a really broken sleep, and woke up at 6am freaking out and cortisol spiked through the roof.
A little background – I lived for a very long time in a ‘fight, flight, freeze’ state, and my system got very used to that over the years. A lot of my current work is trying to unpack that and figure out a new baseline ‘normal’ for myself. We’ll get more into all this as we go I’m sure. I’m nothing if not an over-sharer.
I suffered for a long time both from an inability to get to sleep, but even more so (because sheer exhaustion often took over and knocked me out) from that whole shit show of waking from severe anxiety dreams at 2 or 3am and being unable to get back to sleep coz your brain and body think you’re in imminent life threatening danger.
I take a strong dose anti-anxiety medication every night to try and stop this, and it usually works out fine. I’m sleeping better than I ever did, but… how much of that is due to the meditation?
Like, a lot goes into this healing lark. There’s a lot of strands to unpick here, and reweave into something that has brighter colours and a less blurry pattern. It’s a constant process, and probably no one thing is ever going to be a magic bullet cure for it all and suddenly I’m ‘better’.
It’s interesting though, that there’s a correlation between stopping the daily calm practice, and getting a dose of decidedly not calm that very night. Right?
One to watch anyway.
Be well, and we’ll chat more next time.
I don’t know exactly where to start with this, so I guess I’ll start here. Welcome!
It’s around my mid year review, in 2018, and I’m looking back over my quarterly goals, some of which I’ve ticked off and some I didn’t even begin. Hey ho, that’s how it goes.
Looking back a little further to my annual goals, I think I’m doing ok with those too, and at least there’s a little more wiggle room. I still have half a year yet, right?
As we move forward here, I’ll share more specifics of stuff like that, but for now I just want to set the scene.
I am a non-binary but mostly female presenting, grey asexual panromantic who usually identifies as Bi (coz bi erasure is a thing), 40 year old white Irish mother of 3 teenagers in a wonderful and fulfilling life partnership with a straight cis storyteller guy. I’m a journalist, author, heritage professional, tour guide, educator and self-sustaining entrepreneur, legally sanctioned life rites celebrant, Pagan Reverend and Priest of a demanding Irish deity, informally diagnosed with C-PTSD and underlying general anxiety disorder.
Wow. Even writing it all out like that, it’s a lot. And I’m looking at it right now wondering what I’ve forgotten off it and who I’ll offend by leaving out references to things that relate to them.
Shush Brain. We’re good, I got instant edit capabilities, like, right here.
I have, let’s just say, a lot of balls in the air.
Some of it is because I’m currently the primary earner in the family, while my partner gets his feet under him in his new business. Some of it is because I’m really fucking creative, like, painfully so with all the ideas I have that spark off in my brain… usually around problem solving for other people or situations. That’s the other thing – I have this WORK I have to do in the world as part of my spiritual beliefs. In my way of seeing things, community leaders, priests, people in positions of power or influence in religious and/or social settings, we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place. So some of the stuff I have to get done is along those lines, and I guess that’s partly where this project is coming from too.
There’s also my mental health problems, difficulties, issues, whatever you want to call them. They go back a long way, and they run deep, and I’m in a constant process of trying to find balance between surviving in the day to day, taking care of myself adequately in order to basically function, and the desire to heal and grow, to untangle all my shit, figure it out, and get ‘better’.
Whatever that might look like.
On my Facebook and Instagram, I often post snippets of the system I use to get all of this straight and sorted in my head. I mean, I think of it as my survive and thrive system, but other folk seem to get a lot out of it too. It’s largely based around my version of a bullet journal, with a few other tools I use to supplement that, or expand on it.
I began wondering if I did a daily-ish blog describing my self care, bullet journal, trauma management/healing, business planning and execution, generally getting shit done ‘system’… would folk be interested in that? Would it be useful beyond my friends?
I asked my friends, and they seemed to think it was a good idea. I guess now I’m sort of asking you too. Time will tell!
To be honest, this isn’t an entirely altruistic idea either. I think it would help me too – keep it like a sort of journal to dump my daily brain stuff into. Plus I want to get back to daily article writing/blogging as it has a positive knock on effect for so much of the business and writing work I do. And, I actually get so excited about, and so full up of, and so obsessive around, and so much craving for understanding of, all my STUFF. Maybe this will serve as an outlet so I don’t have to keep waving my bujo (bullet journal) in the faces of my nearest and dearest. Bless their patience like.
This would have to make me a little income, at least cover costs and my time, but definitely won’t be a primary or even secondary income – I have a LOT of different income streams, which you’ll hear all about if you plan on following along – but because it’s me, I would have to make it worth my while, as I honestly can’t afford the time otherwise. So I’m going to be straight up front honest about that side of things too.
The next thing to settle was, what to call it?
I’m going to cover a lot of different topics, and I think there’s a bit of an overwhelm in the general planning communities when it comes to seeing the Insta-perfect lifestyles of the top influencers, and this will NOT be that. I’ve already used many sweary words, and frightened off most of the huge christian segment of the planning community, and probably done a million other things that knock me out of every niche in this self-development – business – planning – healing – personal growth market.
And we’re only on the first post. #oops #soznotsoz
I pulled out my bujo for a brain dump, because let’s be real here, it was half eleven of a work night and I needed to get all this outta my brain so I could try and get some sleep. And suddenly it was clear, and from there it flowed.
Do the Work.
This is my dose of reality, this is my healing journey, this is my entrepreneurial empire building, this is my personal ‘survive and try to thrive’ system.
Welcome – Fáilte!