I trust everyone is spiffing? I admit I'm not faring too bad. This weekend I've been indulging in a bit of me time, mooching in Islington where I enjoyed some live music, chips and a bit of shopping, followed by a day of pottering about in my flat today. I finally got some of my pictures up in the hall and am really pleased with how they look. Now I just need to finish off that darn painting still sat in the corner of my lounge...
I admit, however, that the last week hasn't been without its challenges. I've found myself faced with some very difficult situations and having to make difficult decisions, in my personal life as well as at work. In both situations I've been challenged, and my actions questioned. It has been tricky, and I've had to really draw on my self belief to get through it. But get through it I did, and I'm feeling better - and stronger - for it. Because, at the end of the day, we all need to tune into our gut instinct once in a while and go with it, no matter how hard it can be.
So I leave you now with a simple meditation my good friend Vicky shared with me. Even if that kind of thing doesn't float your boat, I think that we can all benefit from reminding ourselves of it's message.
I am what I am.
I believe in myself.
I trust myself.
I accept myself.
I respect myself.
I love myself.
Have a good week everyone :)
No, no, I'm not talking about the whiskey and Jaegermeister I've consumed over the last week - I'm talking about that goodwill to all men, women, animals and anything in-between! I've been feeling pretty Christmassy all month, but the last week has seen my festive fever grow - and spread. Whilst I admit I've had some pretty fun nights out recently, it's been the things I've been able to do for other people that has really given me a glow. For example, on Tuesday I contributed some home-made German spiced biscuits to a bake-sale for Crisis - adding £19.50 to the £180 raised. Yesterday, I was thrilled to see my mate laugh out loud at the slogan wristband I made her for Christmas. And, the day before, I spread the love among my neighbours by delivering them all a Christmas card and gingerbread muffin - and was really touched to see the family who live below me followed by lead and everyone some chocolate on their doorstep the following day.
That's what I love about Christmas - making other people feel good, whether it's by giving them a present they love, helping them out when the stresses of the season start to get to them, or just making them smile on their commute to work. Today, after a rather frantic shopping trip, I was sat on the tube when the driver wished everyone a Happy Christmas. He probably didn't know anyone on the train, and it wasn't part of his job description, but he did - and it made me smile, despite my fatigue.
Some people of course believe in the religious origins of the holiday season. I personally don't, but embrace it whole-heartedly as an excuse to show people I love them and to spread a little cheer, whether it's by offering a complete stranger Season's Greetings, funding a bed space for a homeless person over the holidays or being there for a friend who is having a hard time. That, in my book, is the true Christmas spirit.
I hope you are all feeling nicely refreshed after the weekend? I have to admit that, after three nights of camping, I'm quite tired - but then there's nothing quite like sitting around a smoldering BBQ at 11 o'clock at night, playing cards and supping Jameson's whiskey (a new and rather dangerous discovery for old Shell) to re-charge the batteries. Okay, so as camping goes we were pretty well looked after (electricity supply, showers AND clean toilets? Wow!) but cooking outdoors, sleeping with nothing more than a sheet of waterproof fabric between you and the elements and being without all those creature comforts we don't need but depend on is certainly good for the soul. Even if not the back...
It isn't just going camping that has helped me detox my mind - if not my body (one thing at a time people!). I've been reading a book by Gabbi Bernstein, Yoga and Meditation buff whose 108 Miracles Now breaks down developing your spiritual side - and maintaining your well-being - into easy to follow steps. Whilst some of it isn't for me, it is full of handy hints to improve your relationship with the world and look at life with a more positive slant, something I admit I sometimes find tricky.
On Thursday, I found myself seeing positives in what could have been a rather crushing situation. After several rejection letters confused by some very positive feedback from publishers and competition judges, I decided to ask a professional to look at my first novel, Faith, Hope and Chocolate. Deep down I knew it wasn't my best writing by any means but had grown attached to my characters - and still loved the concept. Claire's feedback confirmed this - and her comments helped me see where it wasn't working and think about how I could develop the story line. We concluded that the best course of action would be to start again - and, this time, write with a bit more of a purpose and a plan, something I admit not really doing the first time round. So, watch this space people - just don't hold your breath, as I have novel number two to edit first, plus a couple of other ideas floating about...
Now, with all that in mind, I'm going to run myself a nice bath, read some more "Miracles" and write in my journal - the detox isn't complete yet!
Good evening... or should I say good night? It's coming up to 11 pm on Sunday and I guess we should really be heading off to bed in preparation for another week at work. But, after an extended siesta this afternoon (oops!) I'm not feeling that sleepy. Ah well...
I don't often sleep in the day, but after a rather hectic week topped off with a Hen Do yesterday, today it was more than needed. Besides, I've just started to read a book on mindfulness and positivity which encourages sleeping well to keep the mind clear. I admit I am on a bit of a mission to "develop" my spiritual side and I see these factors as key to a happy existence. I agree, it isn't always easy, but I'm working on it...
Take this week for example. On Wednesday I went to a talk at London Zoo, "The Jungles of the Mind," after learning that feminist, psychotherapist and mild obsession of mine Susie Orbach was the guest speaker. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk - and getting up close and personal to some amazing animals - but admit leaving feeling a bit flat. You see, at the end of the talk, I approached Susie and asked her to sign her my copy of "Fat Is a Feminist Issue". As she did so I told her how much I admired her work and how it inspired me. She nodded politely and asked me about myself. But, as I spoke, I couldn't help but notice her eyes glaze over as I described my day job. Walking home, I felt disappointed in myself for failing to leave nothing more that a lackluster impression on someone I so admire. When I told my good friend Laura about the encounter, she pointed out that Susie probably met a million people like me every year, but, in my mind, it was just confirmation of what I most fear - that my existence on this planet means nothing.
Since then, however, I have talked to, met and thought of friends who have inspired me to look at the bigger picture. Two of these women, one of whom a have worked closely with for over two years and another who I have just met, told me that they had grown up with a parent who was addicted to alcohol. I was gobsmacked - both these beautiful, savvy women have amazing careers that I am somewhat enviable of, one of whom has developed hers as a single mum. As they spoke they reminded me of other friends who, despite family illness, bereavement and the day to day knocks of work and relationships, never fail to amaze me, raising money for the charity that supports their sick father rather than wallowing in the pain of his disease, heading home to support their dad when their mum is in hospital and going the extra mile to ensure their sister is getting the spiritual support they need when they lose their mother.
Not only do these people inspire me, but they remind me that, even though my one bed flat is not quite as impressive as the converted barn of the aforementioned hen, and that I have yet to make an impression on the literary or art world, I am pretty darn blessed. Something I need to remember next time I get my knickers in a twist over my fluctuating weight and unpublished novel.
So, if our paths cross in the near future and I begin to bemoan my fate, please do us both a favour and remind me of this blog. My positivity is a work in progress, and I might need a bit of help to get there. Bear with me...
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...