What we don’t hear, we make up. What other folk don’t tell us, we tell ourselves. The human brain is like a empty pool. We can clear it out, and make it shine , but sooner or later it gets filled right up again with stinky old rain water, slime and frogs… read self destructive old ways of thinking, slimey left brain doubtfulness and the clammer of not only poisonous frogs, but a whole pond of unwanted dirge. Especially if you can’t vent your issues in the pub just now..
Unless you say nice things to those closest and to yourself.
Unless you become your own personal pool cleaning system…
How will your kids, friend, neighbour know you love the way they wear their hair, that you think they have a kind heart, that their gentle spirit is uplifting and makes you feel calm to be around. What if nobody ever told us that the lines on our faces outline our best features and illustrate our unique stories ?
Kindness, compliments and praise are contagious. and practicing gets easier, the more you do it. So if you are able to offer up your feelings of awe, love, inspiration to someone, they will take that gift, feel better in themselves and share it . Turn the mirror round.
Some things need to be said to those you care about. ‘You are doing brilliantly, you look amazing, your creativity is awesome, I love you.’
The gaps where we wait to hear those things are like chasms in a time where a lot of people are on their own… And no contact makes those things even harder not to hear.
Say them. Say them a lot. Our childhoods in the 70s and 80s were huge voids of things not said… our schooldays were chock full of compliments we never heard from teachers. Many people I know now as adults were never told how good they were at their art and were never able to nurture their unique style.
Let use this time to start saying what we mean. And stop saying mean things. Let’s forget about the digs, the critics, the gaps where love should have been. If someone hasn’t told you the thing you long to hear.. you have permission to say it to yourself, and to mean it.
Rules to live by
Stop watching other people. The worst thing you can do is to compare yourself to someone else at the moment. People are all interpreting the current rules and their acknowledgement of them, in a different way. Your life is as meaningful as theirs. Just cherish your routine in every way you can. Anyone being unkind or unfair is throwing their fears at you. Don’t play ball in this particular game.
Stop thinking that there is a magical vat of advice that will make things better or easier in a magazine, video or app. Nobody has the answers except for you, for you. Look closer to your instincts and your skills. I had a pile of magazines that I subscribe to, next to the bath. I kept meaning to read them. You know how it is. you never quite get round to those nice things you promise yourself once the chores are done.
And then you finally have all these hours to fill …. And suddenly, you read all these magazines, with the advice you had waited so long to absorb.
And you read and you think. It’s all the same advice. Everything you should say to yourself but don’t. We already know a lot of the best ways to self care. But, I know, and you know we also like the pictures.. and the smell of new magazines! .
We have the skills and the intuition and the fundamental stoicism to get through anything. If we look to what we learnt so far, in life, but also in this strange, twilight time; remember what our grandma taught us.
Stop imagining the image that others have of you. People will think what people will think. Who cares? You cannot control others opinion of you, so why bother? It always strikes me as strange that anyone has the time to think about anyone else’s existence. Isn’t it better to put our energies into our own camp?
Stop getting rid of things. Charity shops are going to be seriously inundated. Who knows where or how we will shop in future? Just keep your stuff! Change it up. Add bits, decorate stuff, put it in a zip-lock bag marked ‘when I’m a size 10’. This saves you buying it when the stress of all this turns you into one x
Stop eating in ways that hurt you.
By now, there aren’t excuses for eating the foods that make your body hurt. But it can be tricky to maintain an allergy free, virtuous diet when you have less money coming in, or significantly diminished places to shop. Vary what you eat, and use your instincts for what you need rather than a generic diet plan. Better to have a few treats during these times than deny yourself followed by overdoing it.
Forgive or forget . (Others) Sometimes in hard times, we all assume people who are not in contact are too busy , or the mind fills in the answers to our questions by telling us negative stories about where relationships are at. Truth is, mostly they are exactly the same. Dealing with the day to day has scuppered some of the usual communication channels.
More often than not, those who have cared, still do. So if the absence is mutually felt, someone has to make that connection, maybe it could be you. Except, occasionally, there is a feeling you can’t shake. Listen to those few times the relationship expiry date is up. You deserve to be treasured.
Make use of what you have now . Trying to get any work done whilst schooling your child is like splitting yourself down the middle. As soooo many of you will know at the moment. So don’t. Find your gaps to create at other times, and be present for the time you are having together. This won’t be for long. Mine is growing before my eyes. And yes, is nearly as tall as me. We still need to be us as well as parents though. I carve a netflix and drawing session first thing into the day. Our whatsapp groups have followed with their own art based on weekly ideas and mini tutorials.
Make use of who you are now and like who that is. Someone said to me the other day, that we were so lucky, he and I, not being too affected by all this. It is impossible for anyone to know that for you. Frankly, we are all affected. And it isn’t always obvious what the fallout is. If your network isn’t there for you, be one for someone else. Be one for yourself and speak up if you need help.
Trust your instincts . A blog post in itself. Use it for purchasing impulse stuff. Are you ever going to use that bargain mini cupcake making machine from the middle aisle of your supermarket? If things aren’t being used in the home now, they probably won’t ever be!
Turn off the internet and shouty tv. Most of the important news information can be sourced directly and succinctly on a sensible web page. That way, you can hear the birds at the same time.
Don’t believe your inner critic, who probably has waited for a time like this to haunt you good and proper . He or she is the little voice that commands you to be more, do more, feel less, speak differently, wear different clothes, stop expressing yourself, or indeed express yourself more because that’s what is expected.
Sometimes it’s hard enough fighting your own battles, without feeling the pressure to jump into someone else’s fight. It doesn’t mean you agree with the person who started the thread..
Eat the frog first. Great life rule… Please don’t eat an actual frog. but the point is, you get the biggest, hardest task achieved before you settle into the more comfortable routines of the day. Get all the irritating things which take time done while you are awake for example first thing…., and at the same time. For example, chop all the fruit and veg for humans, animals, all the meals in a day at once in the morning. Don’t re-visit the same job over and over. The boring bit of the day can already mostly done by nine in the morning. Then you can focus on projects, government approved dog walking and shouting a conversation over the fence…
Make a plan of meals while you unpack the shopping. This saves thinking about meals all week, and stops you forgetting what you bought . My daughter says, it is now like we have a strange round the world restaurant.
Treat your house like someone else is having you to visit. How would they make it feel for you? Today for the 90th day I will still put my make up on, light incense, brush crumbs off the sofa, make my bed and wear perfume. In the absence of outside you got to be your own deli, your own independent cinema, spa and source of soul food.
Learn to be ok with being ok. And it takes time to be ok with that. For our whole lives, it feels that we aren’t meant to feel happiness in times of trouble, or until we have earnt it. Right now, who feels they have earned a good night in? or a glass of wine, time to potter in the garden, or an online spending spree on ebay, or even just to soak in the bath and feel relaxed.? We are so used so doing these things as a reward for hard work, we were in danger of waiting until we were 90 to ever use that bath oil. The thing is, life doesn’t work like that. Take it from someone who knows. I was going to climb mountains after my divorce.. but my bones had other plans. The time is now to be you. Enjoy your health. Enjoy your surroundings. If it helps, pair up all your socks first.
Supporting a cause and a campaign is worthwhile and we like to feel part of a wider tribe. It can be reassuring to feel less alone, reassurance that what we feel is justified, and heightens our life experience. Many people jump, and keep jumping onto the next headline however, and often online platforms are filled with the extremities of our rage and sorrow and anger. There is a pressure to paint a rainbow. And painting rainbows is wonderful. But you should wear your own colours with style, not squeeze your colours from the tube.
To be thought of by others is a gift. But I wonder if a lack of comment on particular issues makes us seem uninterested in them? I, like many just choose not to get into the current debates. Because I work with people who are vulnerable, there are certain things I choose not to discuss.
What we say, do and give should be authentically us. And only what we feel comfortable sharing. It is more important to learn what we can from our experiences, and teach those skills on, than to dwell on the negatives of the past, or immerse in how unfair life is.
Good friends have empathy and compassion. Anyone saying ‘me too‘, every time you speak, might need to hear a little better.
Some things are better not said. Or just not shouted about all the time.
Facebook or Instagram pictures are wonderful for sharing the edited highlights which show no matter what life throws at you; you can choose a positive recall on some of the tough times.
Because what you do at the point of being asked how you are, is to find a few things you are grateful for. When writing your diary, listing a few things which sum up the best parts of the day paints a picture which starts to become positive. Sticking pictures of images which make your soul glow, even just celebrating somewhere that you see every day. Soon these images become your memories.. It sounds cheesy, but be grateful. Tell people what is good. Tell yourself what is good. Stop and look at the day.
The things that hurt, make you curl up in pain, stop you being who you want to be, whether there’s a pandemic or not, are still there. They still hurt. They still stop you in your tracks, make you sad, angry, frustrated, make you stupid tired, lonely, scared. ….
But they don’t define you. You’re not your pain. You’re not the way you feel about what is going on in the world. It isn’t obligatory to tell strangers your political views, your top ten records or holiday destinations fifteen days in a row. You are your smile, your laughter lines, your wonky fabulous view of the world, the snapshots that conjure up little moments of magic, the traits that your friends love. And those things are what your kids and friends see in you.
All else is fluff.
Hold on. You got this, and you are so much stronger than your inner voice thinks. Eat your greens, sleep long, breathe deep, love deeper, laugh at the random thoughts of small people, create lovely things and celebrate all parts of you. Loving what you have around you, doesn’t stop you wanting more from the future. It just means stepping into it with grace and dignity.