Tag: acceptance

Parenting, anxiety, and smudged nail polish

Parenting, anxiety, and smudged nail polish

It happened. There’s no going back. There are certain moments and events that change your life. Irretrievably.

No matter what happens from now on, I have been forever changed.

Exactly five weeks ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. We’re parents. To be honest, it’s still a surreal experience for me. I still catch myself staring at my son in a state of disbelief. In a good way. A great way.

They say that nothing can prepare you for parenthood. And yet, we still attend antenatal classes, download the apps, follow the blogs, etc. Does it prepare you? I think that selecting the correct classes etc for you can help to prepare you to a certain extent.

The thing that best prepared me for being a mommy? My journey through depression.

And no, I’m not talking about postnatal depression here: on the contrary, I have found the first five weeks of motherhood to be incredibly fulfilling.

So just how on earth did the most trying and devastatingly dark periods of my life prepare me for the most overwhelmingly poignant experience?

Ironically, my journey through depression (“through” implying that you can in fact reach the surface and gasp the fresh air) has taught me many invaluable lessons. Not only have I gained insight into my own psyche, for want of a better word, but I have also come to understand what kind of life I want to lead, and the best mindset and approach to realise this.

The goal-oriented, perfectionist, compulsive nature of my anxiety just doesn’t wash with the daily reality of being a mom. I sat down last week to write a blog post. I got as far as switching on my laptop. That’s it; no further. There is nothing perfect about parenthood. Nothing. I decorated the nursery exactly as I had imagined: a perfect replica of my vision. Two days ago I found myself moving furniture into the centre of the room so that I could wash off projectile pee from a large section of wall and nearby furniture. As for being compulsive, it’s simply not an option. Especially when you have a newborn who has a finely tuned sixth sense that wakens him as soon you step into the shower, pour a cup of tea, or apply a fresh coat of nail polish.

My resultant level of anxiety? Nada. Why?

Before becoming a parent I decided that I would try to be as mindful as possible. I decided that I would not set goals. That I would not entertain ideas about being a supermom. That I would adapt my days to my child’s routine to the best of my ability. That I would not read a single pregnancy or parenting magazine. That I would take each day as it came. That I would trust Mother Nature to give me sufficient maternal instinct to ‘wing it’ for the most part.

So far, I’m managing. Of course, it’s only been five weeks. I might be singing a very different tune next week. Or at three o’clock tomorrow morning. Regardless, my point is that depression and anxiety have provided me with countless opportunities for growth. Sure, I did not grasp all those opportunities. But I did take advantage of some.

It is this ongoing process of reflection and growth that I hope will stand me in good stead in this new stage of my life – smudged nail polish, tepid cups of tea, and all.

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I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing

It seems like I blinked and six months flew by without any blogging happening. At all. I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed because I really enjoy writing. It’s a bit silly really, because it’s completely within my control. And yet, somehow it just hasn’t happened.

My life has been somewhat topsy turvy of late – but all in a good way.

In the last six months I have…

… discovered that I’m pregnant with my first child. Yay!!!

… learnt that morning sickness is not limited to the morning. Or the first trimester.

… put my work as a freelance writer on hold until I feel that I can juggle motherhood and working from home. Yes, I have reclaimed my title as a Lady of Leisure who Luncheons.

… enrolled in an Interior Design course. Possibly not the wisest timing, I grant you.

… enrolled in a blogging course. I’ve really got to work on this timing thing.

… realised just how much I enjoy sewing.

… exchanged my intense gym sessions for water aerobics with the aging population at the gym.

On Saturday I was determined to go to a yoga class. Like blogging, it simply hasn’t been a feature of my life for months. Although, truth be told, lingering nausea does make you think twice before bending and twisting your body for an hour. For whatever reason, I got a bee in my bonnet (as I am wont to do) and make my way to the Saturday afternoon yoga class. And I loved it! It felt so good and rejuvenating afterwards. I can’t believe that I managed without it for so long. So that’s what spurred me on to get writing again. I thought that if I could rediscover the joy of yoga this week, I should also plunge back into my blog.

And so here I am. But I have no plan for this post. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I’m also not too sure where this blog is going to go in the near future… So I have decided that I’m not going to have a plan. I’m just going to adopt a flexible outlook as I swiftly approach motherhood. Hopefully I will still find time to write and embark on other creative projects.

Will you please quit pouring that green goop over yourself?!

Will you please quit pouring that green goop over yourself?!

In my last post I confessed to starting to go organic and natural. It’s not an obsession by any means. Promise. It’s just about trying to eliminate physical toxins such as harsh chemicals from our home. Despite what my Pinterest boards might seem to be proclaiming, I am not trying to be a domestic goddess.

It’s really made me start to think about toxicity in general. And not just slimy green goop that’s stored in dubious barrels.

eliminating toxicity


You might remember that I also wrote a post on emotional toxicity. Basically what I was trying to say is that being negative towards others, being unduly critical of others, gossiping, etc all just adds to the negativity in your own life. Plus, you pass that toxicity onto others. And nobody needs green goop of any shape or form in their life.

But there’s something else to consider. In some weird slimy version of the vaguely recent ice bucket challenge, many of us seem to pour toxic goop all over ourselves. And it is also a viral sensation.

Sure, by being negative about others we are encouraging negativity in our own lives. But all too often we assume unnecessary blame, feel inappropriate guilt, wallow in self doubt, and subject ourselves to undue self-criticism. Do you pour this green toxic gunk over yourself?

You are who you are.

And who you are is enough. 

I think that it’s time to take a more zen-like approach to life. Accept life for what it is. Accept others for who they are. Accept yourself for who you are.

I’m not trying to suggest that we should never try to improve. What I do think, however, it that constantly focusing on the future and trying to improve encourages us to be negative and critical about our present circumstances. It also prevents us from being mindful of the present and accepting ourselves with loving kindness and compassion.

Let’s face it: we all need a little love, kindness and compassion in our lives. Let it start as an inner personal phenomenon because your internal world ultimately determines your external reality.

I’d love to know your thoughts about eliminating the toxicity from your life?

The best time to adopt a better lifestyle

The best time to adopt a better lifestyle

I have this theory that the timers on cardio machines were developed in Hell. They operate slowly in order to extend your torture and agony. There is no way that twenty minutes on a treadmill is the same as twenty minutes in real time. It’s some sort of Hellish cosmic joke where we’re all victims of this never-ending hoax. And then, to add insult to injury, we keep on returning to gym.

Sometimes I get the better of the hoax and avoid the gym. But then I get sucked in again. And the agony is always worse once you return after a break.

You know that feeling when you are sweating it out and you need to distract yourself from what you are enduring? I was on the rowing machine at gym, looking out the large glass windows at the trees on the surrounding hills. The beautiful colour of the changing colours of Autumnal leaves captured my attention.

There was one tree that really caught my eye. The changing colours were incredible. Perhaps it stood out so predominantly because the forest behind it was still green. Even in Nature, things grow and develop at different times.

So it was okay that I was only on the rowing machine in May, my first real attempt to kick-start what should have been New Year’s resolutions. If trees can adapt to the seasons at different rates, so can we.

I had been beating myself up (not literally – that would be too excessive even for me) about the fact that it had taken several months for me to get my A into G. I realised that ‘should’ often involves undue criticism. We worry about what we should be doing, what we should look like, what we should be earning, and when we should achieve all this.

But that just focuses on the negative and fosters criticism of ourselves and others. It’s not about a specific date. It doesn’t matter when you start. So what if I only got back on track with a healthy lifestyle in May? The point is that I have. Who cares when I will get to the level of fitness that I once reached? The point is that I will at some point. Hell, I might even surpass it.

healthy lifestyle

So when is the best time to adopt a better lifestyle? It’s not about when. It’s not even really about how. It’s about developing a habit organically because you enjoy the process. And that is what my next post is all about: the truth about developing new habits.

When did you do something later than you ‘should’ have, only to realise the irrelevance of the timing and your self-criticism?

Let Go of Worry

Let Go of Worry

Let go of worry when you have no control.

It seems paradoxical but the secret to learning how to let go of worry is to only worry when you have some degree of control.

Most of us experience worry, anxiety, and even anguish, over situations where we don’t have any control. Intuitively, this seems like a logical reaction. If you can’t control the outcome, you tend to worry about what the outcome will be and what it will mean. But, in reality, worry just saps you of your vital energy, draining your motivation, and depleting your resources. Think about it: how can anxiety possibly alter an outcome over which you have no control? It can’t. All it does is leave you in a state that is not conducive to dealing with the eventual outcome. And usually it’s all for nothing because, in the end, things do tend to work themselves out.

So before you get yourself in a complete psychological and physiological tangle over something, think about it. Can you control the outcome? If not, let go of worry because what will happen, will happen regardless of your state of being.

When it’s okay to worry

What about situations where you do have some control? Where you can influence the outcome? This is where there might be a place for a certain degree of concern. But here, let it be a motivating factor. Allow your worry to channel your focus and energy on productively addressing the situation at hand. The trick is to allow your feelings to actually be a source of energy, a fuel for action, not an unproductive depletion of motivation.

All too often in life we expend unnecessary anguish over the past, or dwell in increasingly insurmountable anxiety over the future. Let go of worry. Let the past be just that: in the past. The future will happen.

let go of worry

Overcoming Depression: Confessions of a Sloth

overcoming depressioDespite a sense of overwhelming optimism at the start of 2015, so far this year has not gone as planned. I’m not surprised that life doesn’t always go as planned. I’m not surprised that life has its ups and downs. What does surprise me, however, is realising that I’m not terribly bothered by this. Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m making progress in overcoming depression. That would be quite ironic, given how this year has gone.

So far, I have not managed to do what I know I should be doing on a regular basis. So far, I have not done the following:

  • follow a health eating plan
  • exercise regularly
  • practise mindfulness
  • pursue hobbies
  • engage in creative activities

overcoming depressionThat list is a pretty basic outline of what you need to do if you are intent on overcoming depression. But life is just not that straightforward. I have a long-held belief that one of the most debilitating effects of depression is that it fosters an inclination to do exactly what you should not be doing. It takes every ounce of willpower, and then some, to vaguely muster up the energy and determination to make a salad, go to gym, etc. It feels like every cell in your being is screaming for you to climb back under the covers – with a slab of chocolate.

So how do you climb out of bed and find your way to gym?

Overcoming depression is not a war: a war has an end.

Dealing with a chronic physical illness is an ongoing battle. Fortunately, the fight does get easier and a little less intense every time you launch an attack. And just how do you launch a successful attack?

  • Make the decision. I believe that you need to firmly and consciously make a decision to fight this illness. You need to focus your energy on doing whatever it is you need to go to rediscover your true self.
  • Get support. You need someone in your life who understands what you’re going through and can give you the type and degree of motivation you need to get going.
  • Be flexible. Sometimes a routine can help to get you going, but too much rigidity can induce anxiety that will see you under the covers again.
  • Don’t wait for Monday. As soon as you make that decision, start immediately. Don’t procrastinate even more.

If I make it sound easy, I don’t mean to. I was tired just walking up the stairs at gym to get to the treadmill. After fifteen minutes I had a headache and a blister from my running shoes. I made the decision to pull up my socks – literally – and keep going. There have been some lapses… A fondness for baking is not a great hobby if you’re trying to follow healthy diet, and yet I found myself in the kitchen baking some of my favourite goodies. But the point it, I’ve made a start and I’m trying. More importantly, I’m not beating myself up about the fact that I haven’t been doing what I ought to.

overcoming depressionIt’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally learnt to simply accept that life happens. Overcoming depression means accepting that this illness has its highs and lows, and knowing that all that you can do is your best. And that’s what I’m going to do: try my best to look after my physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Every Moment is Another Chance to Get It Right.

No matter whether you believe in a higher power, fate, or nothing at all, it cannot be denied that we get endless opportunities in life to get it right. There is something uniquely comforting and reassuring in this concept. Because none of us gets it right all the time.

We are all human, fallible, and make mistakes of varying degrees throughout our lives. That is simply the way life is. Life can be complicated; life can be difficult. We have to learn to forgive ourselves, forgive others, and accept that things are they way that they are. In short, we need to let go of the past, let go of anger, guilt and frustration, and look to the future.

We need to keep in mind that every moment is a new moment. Every moment is its own fresh start: a new beginning. Every moment has the potential to be the first moment of a new chapter in your life. Every moment has the power to change our lives forever or not at all. No matter what has happened, the one constant is that “every moment is another chance to get it right”.

You Know What? Anger is Okay.

I think that we all fall into the trap of labelling emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We’re bombarded with messages from an early age that tell us that anger is bad. That bitterness is bad. That we shouldn’t feel envious and a whole range of emotions that don’t fall under the category of the convenient ‘good’ emotions. The truth is that we’re all humans. We’re all going to experience the full spectrum of emotions over the course of our lifetimes. Some drama queens manage to get through the entire list in a remarkably short space of time. Some people are naturally calmer and experience fewer instances of the more intense emotions. We’re all different, but we can all identify with the emotional component of the human experience.

If you really want to label something as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, then focus on the way in which people manage (or don’t manage) their emotions. Look at people’s behaviour, at how they treat others.

The same can be said about the way in which you judge yourself. It really is okay to feel so-called negative emotions. In some cases, it would probably be more worrying if you weren’t angry, bitter, or negative. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Deal with it. Deal with your emotions. That’s where you should focus your energy.

“Emotions are inherently neither good nor bad. It is what we do with the information and energy they produce that makes the difference.”

The Tyranny of the Thinking Mind

Our thoughts create the illusion that we have to complete our ‘to do’ list today. That we have to accomplish a certain amount by a certain time. That we have to embody certain qualities and characteristics. That success is defined in a certain way. Our thoughts create a world in which everything is finite, defined, definite and absolute. Reality is anything but that.

“The simple act of recognising your thoughts as thoughts (not ‘you’ or ‘reality’) can free you from the distorted reality they often create and allow for more clear-sightedness and a greater sense of manageability in your life.”

I find this concept to be so freeing. It’s not always a comfortable idea that our thoughts create a ‘distorted reality’, but that doesn’t diminish the truth of it. It is through embracing this notion, however unsettling it may be, that we gain a clearer perspective and a heightened insight into ourselves, others, and life in general.

The 4 Keys to Learning from Failure

All of us face failure at different points in our lives. Sometimes it takes the form of a small failing, something that is easily dismissed and disregarded as part and parcel of life. But sometimes it’s not so easy to dismiss from our consciousness. Sometimes failure can be overwhelming, debilitating even. However, no matter the scale of the failure, or how it is perceived, every such instance can be regarded as an opportunity for learning, for growth, for self-development.

  1. Accept failure as an inevitable, even necessary, part of life

When dealing with many things in life, acceptance is oft cited at the first stage in a constructive process of dealing with difficulty. And responding to failure is no exception. There can be no growth if at first there is no acceptance. Accepting that we have failed at something can be difficult, and that’s understandable. Failure can challenge our notions of who we are, where our strengths lie, what our life roles are, and other psychological constructs that are central to our psyche.

Often people make the mistake of confusing acceptance with tolerance. We have to see the critical differences between these two concepts. Tolerance is the equivalent of ‘putting up’ with something. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an absence of resistance, distaste, prejudice or even something as powerful as hate. Acceptance, on the other hand, involves embracing an experience for all that it is, without any lingering feelings of resentment. We need to accept failure unconditionally as an integral part of our lives, and something that can be harnessed as an agent of positive change.

      2. Develop an objective perspective

The feeling of failure is an intensely personal one. It attacks our thoughts, feelings and conceptions of ourselves. It can be a destructive force that penetrates to the core of our psychological being. It can cast a shadow not only over our present, but over our perceptions of the future as well. It can colour everything in our lives and be the sole lens through which we see ourselves and everything around us. Because the feeling of failure is so potentially harmful and overwhelming, we need to gain a more objective perspective. Clarity is essential.

One of the best ways to gain clarity and perspective is to speak to someone you trust. Whether it’s a friend, relative or health professional, an outsider’s perspective can help us see our failure from a more objective viewpoint. Because failure is such an intensely personal experience, our immediate heightened emotions more often than not warp our sense of perspective. It’s not unusual for our immediate reaction to be coloured by an exaggerated sense of failure. You need to see your failure and its repercussions clearly, without the distorting lens of intense negative emotions. This is not to say that we should negate our failure and replace feelings of failure with those of denial. Rather, it is important that we gain a realistic sense of our failure, its causes and its repercussions.

      3. Analyse the failure to see what it reveals

In order to learn from our failures, we need to understand their anatomy. This can be a difficult and painful process because it requires us to face our failures head-on without the protective shields of doubt and ignorance. But it is a necessary process, and one that will enable us to reap rewards that are surprisingly fulfilling.

We need to understand what caused our failure. Here again, objectivity is important. Too often we fall all too easily into the trap of attributing failure to ourselves as inadequate human beings. We all possess faults, and these faults can lead to failure. But that does not mean that we ourselves are failures. We need to separate our failures from who we are as individuals. Once we have accomplished this, we can then start the process of analysis.

Our personal common culprits of failure are usually known all too well by us, if we are truly honest with ourselves. We know if we are selfish, if we jump to conclusions, if we don’t look before we leap. It doesn’t really matter exactly what the cause of our failure is; what matters is that we identify it accurately. It is only through this process of identification that we can then learn and grow from failure.

      4. Adapt you attitude, behaviour and habitual responses accordingly

It has been proven time and time again that behavioural change is unlikely, and probably impossible, without prior attitudinal change. Therefore, once we have identified the root cause of our failure, we need to genuinely want to adapt our lives accordingly. We have to have the attitude that whilst failures are inevitable, we can choose to learn and grow from them. It is then up to us to effect the necessary changes in our lives to alter whatever it was that caused the failure in the first place. This is not as straight-forward as it sounds. It requires effort, motivation, and determination. It won’t be easy, and it won’t come right the first time. But with the right degree of resolve, we can change. We can improve ourselves. We can develop as people. And that’s what life is about.

Failure comes into our lives to teach us lessons, to grab our attention and focus it. Without failure, we would be less likely to address our shortcomings and develop as people to enrich our lives and the lives of those around us. In this way, failure can be seen as blessing. However, it is only a blessing if we respond in a constructive manner when things don’t go as planned. If we do nothing about it, failure is failure. If we accept it and what it can teach us, failure is yet another step along the path to self-development and true happiness.