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In Darkness – with a Guided Meditation

Yesterday started off bad. I woke up in darkness, at 5am, from anxiety dreams. Then my Brain insisted on replaying every single sexual assault I’ve ever experienced, in High Definition visuals and sound.

So that’s not fun.

How do I cope with that? Well, it feels very dark to me, when it happens. I used to (years ago) try to run away from that. Find the light. Try and make it so the darkness doesn’t exist and I don’t have to live there.

But you know what?

These things are dark. There are dark things in my past. Also, dark things in my present, and most likely my future. Because we don’t live just in the light. We need the darkness too. In part, we are the darkness.

So, I went into the darkness, and learned to be comfortable there. Yes, I’m talking metaphorically, to an extent, but also quite literally. In that I cope with these things through Meditation.

Ye know that’s not just some woo weirdness that hippies and mystics are into, right? It’s a really valuable, effective, and vital part of any mental health management programme. Ask any modern psychologist or therapist. They’ll tell ya.

Yesterday morning, from 5.30am to 6.30am or so, I meditated. By that time, I was calm and relaxed and I was able to drop back off into a doze until the alarm went off as usual at 8am.

At that point, I will admit, I made sure Jon was awake so I could have a wee cuddle and feel safe in that. And that’s ok too.

Today, I was working on stuff for my other side project, www.Guided-Meditation-Journeys.com, and I recorded a meditation featuring darkness, which feels appropriate to share. It is the basis of the ‘learning to be ok in darkness’ element of my Journeying practice, and my own technique of guided meditation journeying has developed from it.

You can listen to the Darkness Meditation Here…

 

Be well, and I hope you have balance today.

L x


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On Writing

Writing books is hard.

I mean, for me it’s hard. I do have a friend who cranks out 5000 words a day as well as a consistent stream of blog posts, articles and translations from Old Irish (I’m looking at you Daimler). I don’t even hate them. Most days.

My writing goes a little differently, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t used to be this tough. Like, for my second book, I wrote it in 3 months – Lúnasa (start of August) to Samhain (end of October). While working a full time job at the heritage centre and raising three kids.

I don’t even know how I did that. How does anyone do that?

Evenings, weekends, early mornings before work, lunchtimes at work. It’s not easy, but I feel like I was more focused back then (all the way back in 2013). So, I know it can be done. I know I can do that.

Have I been doing it though? Have I fuck.

When I got the contract for this next book (Pagan Priesthood, Llewellyn 2019), I thought I’d LOADS of time. I sort of lost myself in research for a while, and fooled myself into thinking I was doing ok.

And I ended up in a situation where I had to get my shit together and do the remaining 60,000 words in 3 months of solid writing. Sigh.

How do you do that?

Well, firstly you give yourself some time off each week. With the best will in the world, it is not ideal to think you can write 7 days a week in those circumstances. That’s a great writing habit to be in, long term. I know there’s a lot of famous writers who do it – write words every day, no matter what.

But under pressure and under my own anxiety around not delivering a book – or worse, delivering a shit book – I decided not to add to my writing pressure.

So for the last 3 months, I had set writing targets of 1000 words per day, five days per week – which is 5000 words per week, four weeks of each month (or split out accordingly, in a five week month like this one).

I have Scrivenor, which is an excellent writing programme, but because I’ve been working across different machines I’ve just put it all in a Google Drive folder so I can access it anywhere. It means I have to manually compile it after wards, as I’ve split it into a doc per chapter, but that’s ok.Bujo Writing Tracker

And I track my targets and word count in an excel/google sheet that I manually update each day (pic above), and a little word tracker chart in my bullet journal. The last is a just to trigger my reward hit though, as I love manually writing it in and seeing the little line rise up steadily. It seems so much more satisfying than just numbers on a screen.

I’m not doing as well this month so far as I’d like to be, but I’m not technically behind as yet. The writing has just been a little patchier than I would have liked. Trying not to ‘blame’ myself for taking time off, but I do feel like I’m not on top of things this week after coming back, and I’m playing fierce catch up.

While still trying to be kind to myself and take evenings off.

Speaking of which, it’s 6.30pm now and I should be done for the day. There’s a stew on the boil downstairs, and the smell is making my stomach a little growly.

The bad news is that I have one more thing to do – record a guided journey for my Patreon – before I can finish up. And I might have to work the weekend, as I’ve got Ogham classes to sort out and teach.

Again with the sigh.

I’m doing my best though. Sure what else can ya do?

 


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The Power of Habit

This is my current audio book – ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg, and I’m really enjoying it. I think I will go buy a paper copy so I can really go through it carefully and digest it properly.

I’m going to go ahead and quote you some parts of Duhigg’s website, as it’s important stuff.

[In the book] we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

So, apart from the day to day stuff and the brain stuff which I’m finding fascinating and INCREDIBLY useful, there’s also the company/organisation and the society stuff which is giving me IDEAS. Coz like, we need to be changing this world right now. And that starts with me and you.

Here, check out the Power of Habit TEDx talk anyway.

I’m doing ok with my own power of habit process.

Like I said the other day, drinking water is a keystone habit I have to take care of. If I get my morning routine right, the whole day runs better. It’s important stuff.

Most importantly for me, is not having to think about things that I don’t have to spend my spoons on. It just makes fucking sense for me to have as much of my brainwaves as possible looking like that middle bit on the rat in the maze scans, which is less than when they’re sleeping. (Go watch the video, if you haven’t, and you’ll see what I mean.)

That’s the power of habit, and it’s saving my sanity.

Get your copy of the book:

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change, by Charles Duhigg (you can get it on Amazon US here – https://amzn.to/2OoPS1h, and on Amazon UK here – https://amzn.to/2AWMngS)

Maybe There’s Another Way?

It’s 6.30pm and I have NONE of today’s work done yet.

Well, I’ve a good bit done, and I guess it counts as work, but not the kind of work I can list out in my bullet journal and tick off. Not the kind of work I can get paid for.

My youngest is starting secondary school in September. End of this month actually, with the way the calendar is falling.

So this morning was errands and chores for the family. First, the doctor for a repeat prescription order for me (see me adulting?!) and a tetanus injection for Jon. He stood on a rusty nail in a world war II bunker on saturday night. Yeah, it was that kind of weekend away.

The young man needed a haircut, we had some food shopping to do, then we got his specialty crested uniform jumper and a good pair of school shoes. He hasn’t had proper shoes since he was about 7… couldn’t get him out of his runners.

Then we had to go into town and grab the necessary grey trousers and white shirt combo, which my sister had convinced him to try on before buying, with a cautionary tale of my nephew’s clown pants debacle after he’d went on his phone in the changing room and just chosen a pair at random when she called him out.

Nobody wants to start a new school in clown pants.

By that point everyone was worn out and hungry, so we had a late lunch/early dinner before getting home around 4pm.

I sat straight down to work, with my To Do list from yesterday sitting undone as I took care of this week’s lesson in my Irish Magic 14 Week Course. I’d actually forgotten that was due today until I sat down and saw my weekly agenda, and realised it was Wednesday and I hadn’t done this week’s lesson yet (usually I set them up on Mondays, but I took Monday off!)

That’s just gone out now though, so all is well with that deadline… but I have nothing else done. I’m feeling quite overwhelmed looking at the list, so I took the path of least resistance.

Hence, writing this post.

Ye are helping my head too, you know?

In this situation, my usual response is to put the head down and work til midnight, trying to get it all done.

But maybe I don’t do a very good job on things that way? Maybe I end up with half arsed work today and even more half arsed work tomorrow. Maybe there’s another way?

So, I just took some time and chatted it over with Jon too. I’ve a couple of emails to send so I can schedule some client and student time that’s due, and I’m going to close the bullet journal and shut down the computer after that. I can figure the rest out with a good early start tomorrow, fully back on schedule.

I’m finding another way to do things. I am giving myself permission to rest and recharge. My work will be better because of it.

This is new. I’ll let you know how it goes ok?

 


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Dehydration

So I came back from my wee break, a little dehydrated. Did you know alcohol consumption can cause dehydration? I mean, I knew this, but I just wanted to make sure you did too. Just in case like.

According to the ever trustworthy and reliable WebMD.com, signs of mild to moderate dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Not peeing very much
  • Dark yellow pee
  • Dry, cool skin
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

On the more serious side of things, signs of severe dehydration include:

  • Not peeing or having very dark yellow pee
  • Very dry skin
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sunken eyes
  • Sleepiness, lack of energy, confusion or irritability
  • Fainting

 

Now, while this particular case of dehydration for me is very much self induced due to alcohol consumption and simply not keeping up with my usual water intake levels on top of that because of being away and a change in routine… the results are the same. And they’re not pretty.

You see, dehydration is a thing I suffer with. I struggle with this, daily.

To most people, it seems that I drink a lot of water. Like, to function normally on an average day of not really moving around very much, I need at least 5, but ideally 6 pints of water (about 3 litres, depending on what type of pints you use). And that’s in addition to the water I get from my food, my daily green smoothie, and the odd juice, isotonic drink, or herbal tea, as I fancy them. I drink one big strong cup of coffee most days, only very rarely going over that – like if I’m in a social situation or something.

And that’s the fluid intake I need.

Most people I know don’t drink that much. I am 6ft 2” and have a fairly fast metabolism, generally, so that’ll be having an effect for sure. But even apart from that, it seems a lot to folks who figure out how much fluid I’m taking on board as standard.

Except when you look at it, it’s not really that much.

According to the CDC, referencing a report by The Food and Nutrition Board – “Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate”, this isn’t really much above the recommended daily intake (I go by the men’s recommendations because generally that’s more aligned to my physical size and workings). They say:

“The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide. The report did not specify exact requirements for water, but set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water — from all beverages and foods — each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water. The panel did not set an upper level for water.

About 80 percent of people’s total water intake comes from drinking water and beverages — including caffeinated beverages — and the other 20 percent is derived from food.”

Unpacking that a little bit, I’d like to gently point out that for a lot of people, unfortunately that 20% doesn’t arrive from their food as they’re not eating enough fruit and veg. Or any, in some cases.

And of the remaining 80%, the vast majority of that should at least be from herbal teas, non-sugared fruit juices, and ideally from just plain old water. I know people who claim that 3 litres of tea or coffee a day does them just fine, but come on. It’s not ideal now is it?

So, I’m not that far off with my current fluid intake, to avoid dehydration.

What happens when I don’t get it?

The thing is, for me, getting my water intake every day, tracking it and making sure I meet that goal, is a sort of keystone habit. It’s what I build the rest of my self care around.

Not really on purpose, it just works that way for me. Dehydration is the canary in the coalmine – if my lips are dry or my pee smells strong or I wake up gasping for a drink in the morning… I’m off track. I haven’t been paying attention. I’m out of that self care mindset that I literally need to have as a foundation in my life, or I won’t survive (never mind that thrive part).

Because if I don’t pay attention to drinking enough water, I stop the bigger stuff too. It gets too much, and it’s usually not even a conscious thing. Sometimes I am aware of it, I know I have only drank like a pint of water and it’s nearly bedtime and I’m watching it happen but feel too overwhelmed or powerless or self sabotaging (or whatever fun and games are going on in my head that day) to stop it. Those days I try to tell someone, ask for a bit of poking around my self care, some accountability and even support with the feeding and drinking stuff.

Other days though it just slides by accident and… it doesn’t feel like a big deal. I’ll catch up tomorrow. (We can talk about how this is a sign of subconscious self sabotage too, another day.)

But then I don’t sleep quite right that night, and I wake up tired and out of sorts the next day, and I resolve to hydrate properly that day but there’s so much else to do and I maybe get half of what I need in. And I’ve skipped one of the meals. At this point some part of my brain is beginning a low level panic, which will – if I don’t get a firm grip on it then and there – kick off a spiral of guilt and self recrimination and overwhelm which leads to further and more serious executive dysfunction. Sleep goes, food goes, cleaning myself goes, routine goes… and it’s a whole shit show of dragging myself back from all of that.

How do I do that?

I drink water. I start a new page in my journal, write the date at the top, and I draw 6 little water drop shapes – 1 for every pint of plain water I have to drink that day. And that is my goal. Drink a pint of water, colour one of those drops in blue.

Because when I can do nothing else, I’ve learned that I can do that. I can use that to begin again.

Today, I’m not on a spiral, and my dehydration doesn’t feel that serious. But I have got to make sure I fill in those water drops today, so it doesn’t get serious. No matter what else I get done or don’t get done on my daily list, that is my priority.

Now, I’m not being rude here my friend, but, when was the last time you peed? What colour was it, and how did it smell?

Check yourself before you wreck yourself, and however many little blue drops you personally need to get in your own day, to make sure you’re doing well… Get enough water into you today.

 

References

Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. (2005, 05). doi:10.17226/10925

What is Dehydration? What Causes It? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/dehydration-adults#1

Taking a Break

I’m doing it! I’m taking a.. wait for it… a short break!

I’m taking a break with family and friends and food and fun and EVERYTHING.

It’s my son’s 13th birthday on Monday, so we’re heading away early in the morning and I’ll be back on duty by Tuesday, so expect your next post and email by then (are you on the list? Go Join the Mailing List and get the updates first!).

Problems I am having with this plan:

  • I knew it was coming, and I didn’t batch or get ahead of my work well enough to not be in a panic and probably working til midnight again tonight and be wrecked before I even set off in the morning. Sigh.
  • I promised ye daily emails. Well, daily (ish), to be entirely fair to myself. And a lot of folk have been in touch saying how helpful they’re finding this. So now I’m LETTING YOU DOWN. Sigh.
  • *mumbles* I don’t really believe I deserve time off, because I haven’t done enough. Super sigh.

Yeah, not all of that makes sense. I know, I really do.

But you know what? I’m taking a break anyway.

Because logically, I know the world will not end if I don’t stay working all weekend. Logically, I know that my family will not starve if I’m not at my desk from 9am to midnight every single day of the week. Logically, I understand that my body, mind and spirit all need proper down time.

So, see you Tuesday?! What can you do to take care of yourself this weekend?

Be well,

Lora x

 

Last Day of the Month

When I started this business, I knew I had a lot to learn.

Every time I got into a business planning book or other resource though, I kept hitting a snag – I didn’t have a baseline. Like, I didn’t have any idea of how I was doing, or what my current numbers were, so that I could try and improve them.

Some of this was just new business blips: I hadn’t been doing things long enough to have any data. But as time marched on, as it inevitably does, I began to realise that I have personal gaps too with regard to this stuff.

I had ‘set up an accounting system’ on my list for – I kid you not – over a full year before I even began to do anything about it. And even then, I was only tracking income and expenditure by hand in my bullet journal, for nearly another year. That is data, sure. But it’s not really useable data in the long term. It still has to be entered into an accounting programme so that I would have a set of actual accounts by the end of each year.

So ‘set up a digital accounting system’ went on my list, and to be honest, that’s where I am now. I went with Quickbooks Online, becuase it seemed the simplest, and I’m just starting the data entry and set up on all of that now.

But it’s HAAAARRRRDDDDDD.

I don’t really know what I’m doing. And though I have a separate business bank account, I don’t have a different business credit card. And we run a home office. So, personal and business accounts are intertwined to the point where I’m just setting up one big accounting system, and I’ll have to seperate things out from there. I figure having the big picture in a useable format is at least a better place than the one we’re in right now.

So, that’s happening, at last. No doubt I’ll share my fears and frustrations over that as we go too. And maybe it’ll keep me accountable (bad pun, soz not soz) because even just admitting to how long of a mess I’ve let this get into is embarrassing. Guess I should keep working on that from here, right?

Otherwise, I like to track things in my bullet journal  at the end of month so that I can refer to, and see the context for, what’s happening in the rest of the month. And next month. We’ve talked about trackers and how bad I am at keeping up with them before, so to get this in order for myself I had to set it up as a new habit, which means a clear Cue –> Habit –> Reward structure.

Another factor in the success and continuity of any new habit (or replacing an old habit with a new one, within the same cue to reward structure), is community. Now, this can be a community of 2, or of 1000, that doesn’t seem to matter.

I chose a community of 2 for this particular habit, and incorporated that into the reward. So, on the last calendar day of every month [cue], myself and my partner (in business and in life) Jon go on a mini planning [habit] ‘date’, to a cafe or restaurant [reward].

We bring our journals and some pens, and our phones to look stuff up, we order what we want, and then proceed to track last month and set ourselves up for next month.

We each look at and compare to the previous month:

  • Our social media stats to see how many new followers are with us that month;
  • Our mailing lists to check how many sign ups we got;
  • Our Patreon  accounts to see how many new Patrons have come on to support us and our work.

Then we look back at our annual, or 6 month, or quarterly goals (we’re each at different stages in our businesses, so this looks a little different for each of us), and we figure out what our one or two primary goals should be for the coming month.

Mine, this month, are to finish the new book I’m working on for Llewellyn Publishers – that deadline is the first of next month, so this is the last leg of the manuscript journey right here – and to get my sales funnel set up for a course I’m publicly launching in 2 months time.

To get that course launch sorted, there’s a few back steps that have to be in place, so I’ll need to take care of those this month, then be ready to get going with a content marketing plan on the course topic at the end of this month. That will run throughout the second month, to prepare for opening the course programme for signups for a short window at the end of that month. If all that makes sense?!

So, this coming month I’ll be working on getting the structures in place and running right on my main author/educator page (this is my primary wordpress website, and needs to change hosting and themes, to support the plans I have for organising my content, marketing and education delivery in a clearer and more user friendly way). Then I’ll need to set up specific mailing list and landing page structure within that primary system, just for this programme. I’ll only run this particular course programme once per year on a timed basis, so I’ll need to make sure there’s a lead capture system in place for folks who don’t make it in through this window, so I can offer it to them next year.

During the end-of-month planning date today, I sketched out some rough ideas and plans for how I’m going to achieve my goals, and drafted an affirmation I can use during my morning routine, which focuses me for not just what I want to achieve – but how I’m going to do that. For example, with regard to the book project, I’ll have to write 1000 words a day, 5 days per week (at least) to finish the final 20,000 words this month. I will do this first thing when I sit at my desk each day, so that I’m fresh and don’t run out of willpower, to make sure it gets done every single day I need to make that happen. I also track this on a chart in my bullet journal, giving myself occasional little reward stickers as my daily word count climbs higher up the graph, or on days when I really didn’t want to write and I did it anyway.

Wordcount Tracker Last Month

Here’s a picture of the chart from Last Month.

What? I like stickers.

How can you incorporate some of these ideas into your monthly planning or tracking? Which ones are relevant to wherever you are in your business or life situation? Just like me and Jon – this is going to look different for different people, depending on where you’re at.

If you do nothing else, think about the habit formula.

Cue → Habit → Reward, and a community to share it with. If you don’t have anybody near you that shares a goal you both with to turn into a habit, then pop over to our New Facebook Group and introduce yourself there. I’m hoping that will turn into a supportive, useful community for folk to join in with.

All the best,

Lora x

 

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The Importance of Down Time

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…

How Much True Down Time Did You Have Last Week?

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.

How Do We Get Some Of This “Down Time” Going Then?

  • If you’re anything like me, you’re going to have to clearly and consistently schedule evenings off, one or even two days a week free of work, and weeklong chunks of holiday every year. And stick to it (if your job and family responsibilities allow for that – I’m aware of and sympathetic to economic and personal factors that might be at play here too).
  • Take regular breaks through your workday, and sometimes take a break just for the hell of it. Even standing outside under a tree for 5 minutes will help refresh you. Or try a simple 5 Minute Meditation.
  • Turn off the phone. No really, I mean it. Most of us don’t even realise (or want to admit) how addicted we are to the phones. There’s a constant call and response loop going on when it’s in reach or in your hand, and the ONLY way to break that is to just put it away, out of easy reach, where you can’t see it. Especially during down time. ESPECIALLY especially during sleep time. I’ll do a whole other post on that soon.
  • Free your mind by having somewhere you can regularly brain dump all the background or foreground noise, and a process you can trust for going through that and sorting it into actionable tasks and events. Then make sure you have simple, regular routines and habits forming for the everyday stuff, so you’re cutting down on the amount of choices you have to make every day – automating it so you are less likely to suffer decision fatigue.

 

My Down Time

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?

 

Lora x

Let’s Do The Work

Gods damnit.

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.

 

Lora x

 

Self Worth

(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.

 

Where is your self worth?

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?

 

Simple Ways to Build Self Worth

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.

Be well,

Lora x


 

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