Tag Archives: grace

Anxiety – learning to love it

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I never thought I was an anxious person. A few years ago when I experienced anxiety and depression together I thought my world was falling apart. The sick feeling, the inability to be still or settled, sleeplessness and constant horrible feeling felt like the worst thing ever. And I remember saying that I’d never know what anxiety was before. Now, of course there is a difference between anxiety in its extreme form which is an illness and day-to-day anxiety which many of us experience. But I realise that I never recognised that day-to-day feeling as anxiety because I never let it permeate through long enough for it to reach my consciousness. Instead I would find ways to numb it, usually with sweet stuff. Other addictive behaviours like shopping or creating some drama also figured fairly high on my ‘coping mechanisms’, I use the phrase lightly.

Over the last few months I have been on a new learning curve. As part of a support group for compulsive eating I been ‘abstinent’ from sugar and other trigger foods for several months. That has taken care of the physical craving for all that stuff. But the hardest part, as everyone knows, is the mental obsession and the feelings that drive us to want to make ourselves feel better in the first place. Not so easy! And one of the first things that came up for me was, you got it, anxiety. At first I have to say I wasn’t too good at recognising it. Sometimes I must have it pointed out to me by my nearest and oh so dearest, “You are anxious” she’ll say, “about x or y”. My usual first response is to deny this  vigorously. I didn’t get where I am today by admitting to having uncomfortable feelings! But I am trying to listen and not always be right ( That’s a Tough One). And 9 times out of 10 it’s true. ( It may be 10/10 but I have  to have room for growth here). And then I am confronted with realising I have a Feeling That I Don’t Know What To Do With. My previous ‘coping mechanism’ hs been consigned to the bin ( food) and I am working on the shopping/drama/distraction ones one day at a time ( Sweet Jesus).

Last night for instance. I was giving a talk at the support group. This was the first time at that group that I had given a talk. I wanted to ‘get it right’. I re-wrote what I was going to say 3 times, I changed it again when I got to the meeting. I was pretty anxious. And this is even with a) planning b) praying c) knowing I was with friends. And I realised that the only thing to do was to say, ‘Yes, I am anxious!”. It didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do,

it was Just A Feeling. It wasn’t going to kill me. And the fear was what? That I wouldn’t get it right? That I’d make a mistake or make a fool of myself or not be helpful to someone else? Well phooey. Isn’t it wonderful how ego gets in the way of just being present and doing the job in front of you?!

So this morning I am sitting here knowing I did my best and that was good enough. That is pretty damn good for me to say. And today I am just going to be grateful to that anxiety when it comes along because it lets me know that all I can do is my best. And that the feeling will pass and today is always a new day.

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Summer Solstice

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Stonehenge

It is Midsummers Day. Summer Solstice. The Longest Day. It’s all about Light, Sun and Celebration. From the dawn of time it seems we humans have marked and celebrated the return of the sun. It gives us life, light and warmth. Without it we would have no food growing in the fields, no harvest. Without the sun I feel miserable. The light cheers me so much that I know I need to make sure every day that I get outside and let it seep into my bones and brain. In the winter I use a light to top up my SAD days but it’s not quite the same.

I like to notice the solstice at summer and winter. To mark those turning points in the year. To remember what has gone in the last 6 months, let go of what I no longer need and remember to welcome in that which I wish to attract. It is a quiet way to be centered

At this time of year people gather at sacred sites and places of beauty, hills and stones. Stonehenge is a familiar sight on the news at Midsummer. Pagans and hippies, travellers and druids are attracted to its Ley lines and old spirituality. I have never been at midsummer. I don’t want to go then when I imagine it is heaving with people and cameras and newscasters. But I have been at other times both there and to Avebury, a circle of stones of truly ancient times. Both have blessed me with their steady presence, the energy of thousands of years hovers around you. I know it sounds fanciful but then again I don’t see how it could feel any different. I have felt the same in other places of worship, from lofty cathedrals to a tiny shrine to Our Lady of Guadeloupe. The concentrated essence of prayer, where human spirit touches the divine is always there.

So at midsummer I send you blessings wherever you may be, and sun and light and peace.

As the sun spirals its longest dance, Cleanse us. As nature shows bounty and fertility. Bless us. Let all things live with loving intent. And to fulfill their truest destiny.” Wiccan blessing

May the sun shine bright on your joyous days,
And the rain refresh you through peaceful nights;
May summer show you God’s wondrous ways,
And prepare you for heaven’s great delights.
From Irish-American Blessings & Prayers by Andrew M. Greeley.
Image Credit: Blessings of Summer by Thomas Kinkade

Service record

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Lookking back

Sometimes unexpected treasures are hidden from view.Looking back on the past is like an archway onto another world. Todays treasures were my Grandpa’s long service certificate from Newton Chambers in Sheffield. He worked there for 50 years and then went back every week of his retirement to conduct a prayer meeting and Bible Study for the workers. Pasted to the back of the framed certificate were letters sent to him to thank him also for his service to the church.  Here is a small extract:

Feb 10th 1940

In considering their responsibility in light of the Bishop’s recent “spiritual call to arms’, the ( parish sic) council place on record their grateful appreciation of the work of Mr T.B Richardson, particularly among the young people of the parish” ………As it is hoped to hold evensong at the usual time when the lighting restrictions allow it, we hope that you will be able to resume your monthly services.In the very firm opinion of the council, they are a very valuable contribution to the spiritual life of this parish, more particularly at the present time.

Grandpa always wanted to be in the church, he had dreams of becoming a Minister in the Church of England and was always a truly gentle, devout man. As a young man he studied and studied by correspondence courses and evening classes but there wasnt enough money for him and his younger brother William to be trained in a profession. So Grandpa worked to put  Uncle Billy, through the training to become a priest.

My dad found some of Grandpa’s insistence on church attendance too much, twice a day and Sunday school in the afternoons on Sundays made him wider reaching in his own adult life with regard to religion and spirituality.

But I always remember the sweet nature of my Grandpa, his unassuming presence and quiet persistence. He was a steadfast man who believed that love was the cornerstone of life. I think that was a pretty good legacy.

Saying NO gracefully

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Yesterday I found myself repeating a pattern. I was making the phone call and writing the email and running about over something that wasn’t my job and grumbling under my breath. I was chuntering about it on the way home and feeling angry with myself for being such a sucker. And I thought, Whoa. What a waste of energy! How is beating myself up helping this situation? Does it make me feel better?

I don’t want to be negative, grumpy or a victim here. I don’t want to allow the rest of my lovely day to be spoilt by my reaction to one silly event ( and one class A manipulator!).

So I started rehearsing:

Thank you so much for thinking of me but I’m up to my eyes right now

Normally Id love to help but I’m just on my way out of the door

No

Do you find it hard to phone people yourself? Is that something we can get you some help for?

Here let me show you how to write emails, with a little practice yu too will learn to love it

Oh I don’t feel well ( fall to floor in dead faint)

Why would you think I would do that?

I’m sorry isn’t that part of your job?

Gosh you must be overworked, can I support you in talking to our manager about this?

 

Please feel free to add your own suggestions, I would love to hear them and even more to learn to use them!

Thank you

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Grace

Thank you for the world so sweet

Thank you for the food we eat

Thank you for the birds that sing

Thank you God for everything.

 

Remember when everything was that simple?

Yesterday I read something a friend had written in a newsletter and it made me sit up and think: Radiant Recovery newsletter – Jenny’s story ( Kathleen’s article)

Talking about the ‘joy dots’ is just another way of re-framing. Noticing the ‘sparkling moments’ in our everyday lives, those tha get crowded out in the busyness, grunge and irritations of domesticity, work, relationships. Forgetting to say thank you, to each other, to Spirit or God, to ourselves.

Here is one of my favourite blogs by Leah whose mother always made her write thank you notes: Thanks

So for today here is my list:

Sunshine

Doggie devotion

A friendly plumber to mend the shower and stop that dripping!

Roses on the fireplace, pale pink with subtle green paper petals

For the arguments we have over silly petty things, that teach us more every day about each other

For the long-haul of a relationship through good times and bad, for knowing someone so well and being known. For sometimes wondering if we know each other at all and realsing we have lots of opportunities to get to know each other better

For kindness and compassion

For great residential care, you keep mum safe and happy and make my life a helluva lot easier and with much better sleep

For our extended, blended, complicated, wonderful family

For 4 boys who are pretty much men, you taught me unconditional love, both ways

blackcurrant tea

Red post vans – always hopeful you’ll have something for me

Kindle- I love getting free books, and you are making me read ones Id never have thought of if they weren’t

The gym – I can’t use you right now, but I like it that you’re there just waiting for me to burst back through those doors and get fit

Facebook – for happy hours spent looking at other peoples photos, making me laugh out loud with my oh so witty fb friends and giving me the impression I am funny and popular in my virtual world

Meditation – every day you remind me of how much I need you, how often I forget you and how calming and centering you can be.

Affirmation – You sit by my bedside, lurk in my notebooks and journal, whisper in my head. Sometimes I remember to use you. Thank you for giving me a nudge.

Exercise – oh how I love you, let me count the ways. Erm I am working on my couch potato existence, thank you for making it possible for this curvy, unfit, 50+ gymophhobe to have a vision of a curvier, fitter,60+++

Holidays – thinking of them, dreaming of them, imagining them, planning them. Wishing we could have one, counting the pennies, hours spent on brochures, travel sections, websites and talking to friends about them. Looking at photos of them, remembering weekends from Wales to Barcelona, retreats in Salisbury and Albuquerque, summers camping in Norfolk to villa in Croatia, roughing it at Glastonbury and birthday weekends in posh hotels in Manchester.