A Charmed Life


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we’re all in this together

These words are directed at the predator-in-chief who sits in the Oval Office.

“A reader on this blog once challenged me to say five nice things about you. I tried. I promise I really tried but there is nothing. There ought to be something. Everyone has a saving grace don’t they? Even the other deplorables I find as morally reprehensible as you – your fellow reality show alumni – that family that starts with a k, even they have their hustle, no other way to explain their journey from sex tape to world domination. But you do not even have that. You have never hustled for anything in your life. You wouldn’t know a hard day’s graft if it hit you on the head. You were born into privilege and you have been coasting ever since. Damn the consequences.

That is what has made these words spill out today – consequences. You see I spend far too much of my precious time thinking about you; about what motivates you to get out of bed every day, about how someone like you can be reasoned with. Often I fine myself constructing these missives to you in my head. Today’s missive needed to come out my head, you see you make me so angry. So angry that expletives leave my mouth, c*#t and motherf*@ker seem like they were created for you. But anger is not a good look on me. And I certainly do not like thinking about you. And yet there you are, always there stirring the pot, bullying, stoking fires, and oh how you love taking credit for everything. Today I found myself waiting for that tweet of you taking credit for New Zealand’s progress in the America’s Cup.

And now you have made the ultimate dumb arse move, in a long line of dumb arse moves since January 20th – pulling your country out of the Paris Climate Accord. I believe you have done this because the first word is Paris not Pittsburgh. I believe this because you might believe climate change is real, but your action demonstrates you have no understanding what climate change is. I have got to admit I took a while to get there too. I was rubbish at science at school, every year it was a miracle I managed to pass for I never learnt Newton’s Laws, I lacked patience to grow watercress, I skipped class anytime something was being dissected and I still do not know what is means to split an atom. No science never held my interest, that gene went to my brother who practically from the cradle had this innate grasp of how everything in the universe is interconnected and how vital it was to protect the lives of all creatures.

For me it was the green revolution, that picked up momentum during my last years at college, that got me thinking about my place on this planet of ours. It is now some twenty years hence and there is no escaping climate change is happening and we do not have the luxury of time to fix the consequences of stupid decisions. We all know the only person you care about is you, so as you think your vapid thoughts sitting in the Oval Office do you ever look out into the rose garden or up at the clear blue sky or how about when you are at Mar-a-Lago playing golf as you putt do you ever appreciate the verdant landscape. No of course you don’t. If you did you would understand that the rose garden, the clear blue sky, the green grass are not givens.

How about your children! Got to say I am not a fan. They just seem like five versions of you and anyway I will never be able to erase the image of your boys holding the dead cheetah they killed from my memory nor will I forgive it. You are a fan of your children yes? Do you want them to be healthy and live well? Rising temperatures due to climate change (known as global warming) will bring more disease which will affect, if not you, your progeny. Count on it. This is Fact. A Real Fact. So you see, you have made a stupid mistake by pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accord – We’re All In This Together; Parisians, Pittsburghers, me, your family and the only person who matters to you  –  you.

I am not delusional I know you will not read this. But I also know this – as I vibrate love peace compassion respect everything you are not, you will feel my energy and the energy of the tsunami of stakeholders who have since stepped up. You see amazing things can happen when people come together, this is how rEVOLutions begin. One Planet. One People. Be careful donnie: When you stand for nothing. You get nothing.”

 Sat Nam

And... one human I am absolutely grateful exists in my orbit is David Lynch for he is the man who gave me Twin Peaks and Transcendental Meditation. April 1991 is when this brilliant man came into my life when his Twin Peaks aired on newbie channel tv3 in New Zealand. I am dreamer with an expansive imagination and before Twin Peaks the only other dreamer I could relate to was David Bowie so Twin Peaks was a moment for me. It was weird, freaky and brilliant And there had been nothing like it ever. Can you think of another show where a lady talks to a log and thinks it talks back! David Lynch manages to capture our dreams the way they actually happen in our minds. Dreams are weird. And David Lynch gets that. That mind of his – much like that of Bowie come to think of it – is a fertile marvel; so much so that looking for literal answers to anything he does defeats the point of his output entirely. I mean have you ever tried to describe something he has created, you can’t, his work requires you to be present. It is about the experience. So I am thick into the Twin Peaks experience once again after 25 years. It has been the longest wait of my life and its so damn fine to be back.Watching these new episodes, catching up with the old characters, getting my head around the newer ones, trying to make sense of where the plot is going – its all a completely damn fine mindfuck and I wouldn’t have it any other way ♥ So Thursday is the election and neither leader of the two main parties enthuses much confidence; Theresa May is one cold fish and Jeremy Corbyn has never felt like a leader to me. Oh well what will be will be I suppose. One thing is certain I do not envy them one bit, a rocky road lies ahead #RockYourVote  And finally it has been a shocking few weeks, so much senseless loss. There is no making sense to be done. As the one year anniversary of Orlando approaches this kiwi girl sends love to all those affected by that tragedy and by the recent atrocities that have occurred in Manchester, Portland, Kabul and London. May our tears deliver us to wisdom #OneLove #PeaceLove


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i wonder

Sometimes I look at my smart phone and wonder at its smartness; it allows people to talk to me, to see me, it plays music, takes me through my yoga routine, checks me in when I fly, lets me catch up on Eastenders and… well actually it might be easier listing what it doesn’t do, it really is the little gadget that could. 

I do that a lot though – wonder. I often allude in this blog to changes that I made in the last few years, and even though there were specific events that transpired to make me have to change, in hindsight all I really did was pare down my life significantly. I have tried to let go of anything that which did not serve me, be it people, possessions or vibes. The effect has been quite surprising, where I assumed paring down would make my world smaller, it has had the opposite effect in that my life feels bigger. I best describe myself as one who was drowning and who then – by letting go – was able to float to the top to breathe and breathe possibly for the first time in my adult life. This left me lighter, grateful and gift of gifts – in a state of wonder. I mean this in a wondrous wonder way, not the kind of wonder most of us have as we consider how long we must put up with tiny hands oops agent orange oops lord voldemort oops hair force one oops predator in chief oops well you know he who must not be named.

The kind of wonder children do so naturally, the kind of wonder we forget when we become adults bogged down by the minutiae of life and yet, the universe never gives up on us it keeps giving us plenty to wonder about, every single moment of every single day. So happily I give myself over to wonder; be it in the joy on the faces of young orphans as they see themselves reflected back to them on my smart phone or looking up at a magenta sky or in knowing the crossword answer to 2d fifteenth Greek letter when I couldn’t possibly know (it is omicron in case you are wondering) or in an email from a mentoree informing me they got the long sought after job that we worked hard to prepare for or – and I kid you not – as I write this post about wonder hearing ‘I wonder’ by Rodriguez on the radio. 
And just like that the dance of the universe continues.

Sat Nam

And… I have a hot/cold relationship with social media, it starts off as a good idea but at some point I come to question the worthiness of it. Why do we post what we post? It is of course about connection and some about showing off. I know I use it to either be heard or because I feel the need to share something I see but does anyone actually care! I suppose that answer lies in the amount of likes I get. However where I believe social media has triumphed is that it no longer feels like there is six degrees of separation with the folk who are more known than you or I; recently on Twitter I have been followed by Scott Maslen and over on Instagram discussed the plight of Haiti with Caroline Stanbury, Karyn Hay’s new book with Danielle Cormack (to the kiwis old enough to remember yes as in Radio with Pictures’ Karyn Hay), and the fruitlessness in Samuel L. Jackson’s comments about British black actors taking roles off African American actors with Thandie Newton. Through social media the mystery to these famous folk has gone and I think this is good, they are humans like us after all albeit humans with really shiny hair and killer wardrobes but humans all the same.


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this kiwi girl muses about… being the other woman

I was having lunch with some girlfriends over the weekend talking about my current favourite topic the US presidential campaign and how stranger than fiction it has become. You know what I am saying right? Who would have thought, four months out from selecting a presidential nominee that that xenophobic arse trump would be the leading candidate for the GOP. It is better than any television show out there today, don’t you think?

Anyway there I was having yummy duck pancakes and glass of vino when the conversation moved onto Hillary/Bill and Monica and that milieu. While I stayed silent, for the next ten minutes or so the others proceeded to deride Monica, praise Hillary and ignore the guy that was involved. Then they turned to me, I suppose surprised that someone as opinionated as me had not had my two pence worth. I decided to not say what I really thought, I didn’t think that these smug marrieds would appreciate it.

BUT it has given me pause to think for… I once was the other woman. I am neither proud or ashamed of this. I say this now because it happened and it is a part of my story like Bill is a part of Monica Lewinsky’s. I have absolutely no regret that it happened, it changed my life forever and for that I will be eternally grateful.

My situation was similar to Monica’s in that I was in my 20s,  he was considerably older, essentially my boss (indirectly), and it started as a meeting of minds. It was through our conversations I fell for him (its all true, intelligence and power are complete turn ons). You don’t choose who you fall in love with, maybe initially but the actual act of falling in love has the ability to render one completely useless to logic and judgement. Certainly for me, I remember some perfunctory guilt in the beginning especially as there were partners (on both sides) and children (on his). I would keep repeating to myself (and to him) ‘there are kids’ ‘what the hell are we doing’ ‘is this wrong’ but once lust and wanting took over there was no turning back.

For what it was, during what it was I was happy and it never felt wrong but it wasn’t all rosy, when you get caught up in an affair there is a lot of subterfuge involved; the continuous lying not just with partners even with friends, plans being cancelled at the last minute, meeting up in hotel rooms is saucy for the first few times then its just not, and it also never felt long term. I knew it was an affair and I knew it would end. When it did end, it hurt by god did it hurt, I had fallen really hard and it took me a long long time to get over him but I am so happy I went there in the first place.

I believe in life if we are lucky we will meet people who will change our lives forever in a good way and this man – my lover (I love saying that) – was one such person. Our time together served its purpose in that it felt like I grew from being girl to a woman; it left me sexually empowered, confidant of my body and helped me to get clear on what kind of man I wanted to end up with. And I did care for him deeply. We are no longer in touch but I still wonder every now and then how he is. So definitely no regrets just fond memories.

Monica doesn’t get the luxury of this. She said once ‘I fell in love with my boss’ I wonder if she can still recall that love when she thinks back to that time. When TED published her talk ‘The Price of Shame’ last year the comments they received were the most negative they had ever got; Monica was called a slut, a whore, her character attacked as well as her appearance, her choices, her right to live even, people made crude jokes about sucking dick and wrote that she deserved the shaming. This to me is very telling of what the last nearly twenty years of Monica’s life has been like. She has been a bum note every time someone mentions Bill Clinton. He has gone on to live his exemplary life, she has struggled and I think it sad and wrong. I don’t appreciate my girlfriends judging her nor Hillary completely writing her off by calling her ‘a narcissistic loony.’ I would have more respect for Hillary if she were to show some kindness towards Monica and apologise for those comments – women knocking other women is just ugly. Coincidentally as this goes to be published it has occurred to me that it is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the achievement of women; we have enough to fight for don’t we? We need to be lifting each other up – supporting the sisterhood not turning on each other.

I am not excusing what Monica and Bill did. I recognise cheating, having an affair is wrong in principle but having been in that situation all I absolutely know for certain is nothing is black and white and you cannot judge someone until you walk in their shoes. To my smug married girlfriends who read this, this is just my two pence worth that’s all.

Sat Nam

Also in the news: I want to riff on the US elections a little bit more to say even though I am a socialist at heart and commend the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyns of this world for raising very important issues, in this very confusing time I am also a realist, that is why Hillary is my girl. Jane Fonda said of Hillary ‘She has always cared. She has always tried to make her life better.’ I like this sentiment. The world needs this sentiment. Not the dysfunction the Republicans bring. The rise of trump was funny at first, then – because I am a liberal – it was strategic now it’s just fucking scary. This guy doesn’t care about the white blue collar worker who votes for him, he doesn’t care about the people in Flint, Michigan having access to clean water, he doesn’t care about planned parenthood initiatives and he certainly doesn’t care about faraway wars. He doesn’t care, his ego is through the roof right now, all he wants to be able to say is he won, he is the President of the United States but then what? We would all be fucked that’s what. Well luckily we have Hillary to prove her version of LOVE can and will beat trump’s version of hate #LoveAlwaysWins #Hillary16 #ImWithHer ♥ Nine long years I have longed to be able to say this – I am going back to Stars Hollow, thank you thank you thank you dear Netflix gods. My favourite show ever ever ever Gilmore Girls is coming back for four more episodes this year. First it was Twin Peaks, now this I’m about fit to bursting and to return the same year Hillary is running for President is just precious. I won’t be surprised if Rory has some hard core White House credentials by now and it makes sense she would want to be involved in Hillary’s campaign. Any which way they come I am so ready to consume the quick snappy banter of my favourite mother and daughter duo all over again #GilmoreGirls #NetflixAndChill ♥ In my volunteer work as a mentor I meet refugees, under my remit I don’t always get to know their stories but occasionally where appropriate some have opened up about their ordeal. Their opinions seem to matter so little as the bureaucrats of this world tug the problem out, but they have an incite which should be considered. I have long been concerned about the children caught up in this, especially the unaccompanied – they need clothing, education, guidance and love and they need it now before they become prey to traffickers and before the psychological damage they have already suffered gets worse  and what angers me is that there is a solution as told to me by one of my mentorees – many of these children have families they can go live with. For example in the migrant camp in Calais approximately 150 children in the camp have a legal right to reunite with their families in the UK. Why aren’t governments approving their passage and making this possible! With the crisis being as enormous as it is – surely it makes sense to fix the fixable immediately #RefugeeCrisis #WeAreAllRefugees ♥ There have been such loving tributes to David since he passed: Iggy Pop at Carnegie Hall, Gary Oldman and Ewan McGregor at The Roxy in LA, Madonna in Houston, Bruce Springsteen in Pittsburgh, Sinéad O’Connor in Chicago and the BRITs. All reverent in their own way, all a poignant reminder of how extraordinary he was; two months and he is everywhere still, the universal lovefest is nirvana for my soul. I hope you know you are so absolutely loved #DavidFuckingBowie I think you know.

 


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fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending, do they?

I expected to feel a gamut of emotions when I read Go Set A Watchman. I suspected I would be more disappointed than satisfied, in much the same way I felt in the casting of Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. When it comes to much loved characters you get an idea in your head about who they are don’t you? Their look, manner, nuances… so I didn’t hold much hope in actually ‘liking’ GSAW. I did consider not reading it for about a millisecond, I thought maybe I didn’t need to know what Scout did next, but by dint of her being the daughter of Atticus Finch would always make me want to know what Scout did next.

I’ve read it twice now, that is about the only good thing that comes out of being laid up with bronchitis, it renders one with little else to do but read. And yes I expected to feel this gamut but I don’t… I mostly feel sadness. Sadness for the crumbling of a fairy tale.

I first read To Kill A Mockingbird as a teenager on the plane from Harare to Mumbai and it was one of two books I had on me (the other being Lucky by Jackie Collins). For the ensuing 6 weeks as I toured India with my family, both books would provide a welcome escape when I needed a reprieve from nagging parents or an annoying brother. I read TKAM four times in total during this time, then it wasn’t picked up again until I was in my 20s living in Sydney. By this time I understood the cultural significance of the story, I had watched the Gregory Peck film, I knew the minutiae of Harper Lee’s life, heck I even knew the minutiae of Truman Capote’s life. I knew it all and the book – the story had found a special place in my heart.

But not for the obvious themes of courage and integrity.

For the little girl who found a hero in her father.

Because it was the same for me when I was little.

There is a line Jean Louise “Scout” Finch’s uncle Jack, a retired doctor says to her towards the end of GSAW “As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God.” I think that’s what little girls do. Daughters with their fathers. I know I did.

I had the luxury of having my father pretty much solely to myself until I hit double digits (baby brothers don’t count on account of them being too small to actually do anything with) and I was lucky because back then he was a very present father. Despite what the passage of time has brought about, I can still remember moments that were just ours; watching airplanes take off or reading at the library, drinking from his whisky glass, or sitting in his lap and steering the car while he was driving. It didn’t really matter what we did, it just always felt that we had our own secret thing that no one, not even my mother or brother could penetrate. Like Jean Louise recalls in GSAW “I can only say this – that everything I learned about human decency I learned here,” lessons I learnt from my father either by osmosis or by example remain with me today. And just like Jean Louise, I grew up, moved away and realised what a fallacy it all was. We see what we want to see.

I wasn’t surprised that the Atticus in GSAW is a flawed human. I mean quite literally I wasn’t surprised, social media makes it neigh impossible to keep anything a secret these days. This particular nugget became known to me before I had even read the second chapter but still…

I wasn’t surprised by the idea of it either; just open up a paper today and it is very clear, race is as big an issue now as it was over 55 years ago when GSAW was first written. This story is set in Alabama in the 50s before the civil rights movement properly gained momentum. I didn’t live in this time so I don’t know what hardships must have been endured but I do know regardless of the era you live, you do get conditioned by your environment; so that an aging white man of the South has racial attitudes is actually a realistic portrayal. That he is the same man who defended a black man wrongly accused of raping a white girl shows how we got swept up in the idea of Atticus being the ultimate icon of fatherhood and the law. Harper Lee obviously never intended it, GSAW was written before TKAM.

When Atticus revealed himself “Then let’s put this on a practical basis right now. Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?” I screamed ‘NOOOO!!!’ and I could feel my heart being crushed a little. Atticus as a reactionary racist, destroys forever the Atticus Finch I created in my head when I read TKAM, but I can accept this, in the same way I have accepted how my father, the hero of my childhood isn’t the romanticised ideal I imagined him to be. We see what we want to see but ultimately we are all flawed and men get old, set in their ways conditioned by their environment…

and little girls grow up and realise fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending.

Sat Nam

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee; beautiful in parts, long in others. while comparisons to TKAM are inevitable, they are not companion pieces and as such should stand alone. Having said that no one is reading GSAW having not already read TKAM. TKAM is a far superior read but I thought GSAW was a good read, and I was happy with the epiphany (of sorts) at the end for Scout, it balanced out the story of the two books to a nice natural resolution.


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it takes all sorts

toxic

This topic was born out of my frustration with an individual in present day, but the more I think about it and write I find myself taking a trip down memory lane.

You know when you think about a person and there is generally one word that can sum them up like lovable aunt or graceful friend or in my case a nutcase (I’m kidding… well I hope I am). When I was little we had(have?) this family friend and the word that immediately comes to mind for this auntie, based on my interaction with her, is toxic. To my young mind every word that came out of her mouth was mean spirited, she was a proper mean girl.

To me personally she never missed an opportunity to knock my private school education, and to deride me for not being a real New Zealander for not learning Maori – the native language of New Zealand (both are kind of ironic as I explain later on) and I was always too skinny. It wasn’t so much what she said – because I always look back at my school days with delight and I am appreciative that my parents ensured I learnt Gujarati which is the language of my Indian heritage, and I like that I was skinny – but it was in her delivery, open hostility and it wasn’t only directed at me. She would throw her negativity out to everyone from what I remember and like a dog senses danger, as a child I knew to keep clear of her.

As an adult I have learnt you never know what a person is going through until you have walked in their shoes so it is not my intention to slight this person’s character. Besides she wasn’t all bad, one year after I had complained that Indians don’t celebrate Christmas properly, she threw me a Christmas party (with her husband as Father Christmas) and my Christmas present from them, a comprehensive atlas, was most treasured right into my late teens.

I use this auntie by way of illustration for toxic people are everywhere; they are family members, people we work with, people we socialise with and sometimes toxic people are us. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive pleasure from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. I know for a fact the toxic individual who inspired this post will read this and instead of recognising their toxicity, point to others who are.

A person is never all bad; a toxic person or a person who exhibits toxic behaviour is unhappy and when they are being toxic, they are in fight or flight mode. This unhappiness makes them lash out because they lack the awareness to say ‘I’m unhappy,’ ‘something’s not right here,’ or ‘help!’ It is my experience toxic people in addition to being deeply unhappy, live in fear and most likely lack emotional intelligence –  the toxicity that emanates from them is always about them. Even though being on the receiving end can be hurtful, it’s never personal. You will never change the toxic person, that they must do themselves, but you have a choice how you show up in any situation:

‘Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out.’

Limit the interaction. Actively limiting your physical distance from the individual is the easiest and most effective way to keep yourself from being directly affected. In recent years I’ve had to walk away from a longstanding friendship because I found the other party’s toxicity was pervading into my energy, making me feel all kinds of negative. It wasn’t that I hated her, it was that I loved me more. I chose me and I feel better for it. BUT when this is not an option:

Practice self awareness. Falling into their drama is fruitless but when you pay attention to your own emotional state, you can better equip yourself with the tools to deal with toxic people. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening and because toxic behaviour tends to be predictable, once you are able to maintain an emotional distance it becomes easier to see the patterns and manage the situation. You might need to stop and regroup or you might be fine to proceed, either way you will be in control. It’s tough not to react because it’s a human thing to do, but being self aware is key to keeping your sanity so it’s worth it.

Rise above the negativity. Toxic people defy logic, there is no reasoning with their crazy so there is no point getting caught up in the mix. Getting back to my auntie and those two examples I gave – me not speaking Maori and going to private school – well she herself was not born and bred in New Zealand and to my knowledge did not speak Maori AND imagine my surprise years later when I discovered she had sent her youngest child to private school. Seriously ignore the crazy and respond only to the facts.

Establish boundaries. Toxic people try to consume you and make you swim deep into their problems, but you have a choice to not join their pity party. If you set boundaries and decide when and how you will engage a toxic person, you can control much of the crazy. The trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will. Know when to engage. Know when to walk away.

Surround yourself with the right others. You don’t have to go it alone. Build your tribe, of people who support what you value and who support you in creating what it is you want.

It takes all sorts to make this planet of ours go round, every person teaches us something and toxic people are actually our greatest teachers, even if it is only to make us look at our own behaviour and understand better how we can raise our vibration.

Sat Nam


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this princess needs her sleep

sleepI’m not the greatest television watcher – no patience for the ads you see – so I tend to dip in and out of shows. Last week was one of those weeks in which I dipped right in, like many Eastenders fans I was sat watching each episode with bated breath during live week and I’m still reeling from the shock that Kathy is alive (only in soap land can a character not be truly dead, note to the Coro producers, bring back Haley – Roy’s not same without her, he’s beating up people). Anyway I digress Eastenders live week came with so much hype… the whodunit element, the live segments and the 30th anniversary of the show.. that every night I was left wonting, impatient for the next episode. It’s the kind of tele that renders one unable to sleep. Being unable to sleep is something I know all too well. That’s why I had to do something about it.

Now I know people who love to sleep, they say they function better on a good night’s sleep and I always mistook this for weakness, for I was the better person because I could exist on minimal sleep. A completely asinine thought I know that now, but only after a severe bout of insomnia. Sometimes it takes being deprived of something to understand the importance of it in your life, to then take action to get it back.

So take action I did, unable to help myself, I sought out a hypnotherapist who help me to see how I had been suffering serious sleep debt for most of my adult life. Through hypnosis I learnt to sleep again, to sleep longer and deeper but unless I wanted to listen to a recording every night I knew I had to figure out how to sleep better naturally. I did my research, spoke to a load of folk; my therapist, nutritionist, friends, even my manager at work, listened to subliminal messaging recordings and I read articles (I bypassed books, only now when I think about it, reading a book on ‘how to sleep better’ might have been just the ticket to put me to sleep), dipped into a little ASMR and I even emailed a professor of sleep but received no reply. Don’t you think it bizarre how we know we need sleep but we rarely spare a thought on why we do other than because we are tired.

“I have one piece of advice for you: sleep your way to the top.” ~ Arianna Huffington

Turns out I had always been pretty rubbish when it came to sleep. It wasn’t just that I was sleeping less, whatever sleep I was getting would be interrupted by a slight sound, the need to pee, checking my phone for texts/calls/emails/Facebook or angst of the previous day; and once I was up I found it difficult to get back to sleep. So on average I would sleep for four hours. Actually let me rephrase that for full impact – on average I was functioning on four hours sleep a night (except when I was on the sauce, of course then I would sleep like a baby).

Bona fide ways I improved my sleep
Change Mindset: This was a game changer for me as I held the belief that sleep was a waste of time and the idea of sleeping more actually made me feel more anxious which obviously defeated the purpose. In one conversation I had with my therapist he said ‘sleep is not a guilty pleasure.’ Now I have a mother who is always on the go and who survives on very little sleep and I guess I fancied myself to be just like her so remained delusional in equating sleep with reduced productivity so guilt hung like a noose around my neck. This was why I researched sleep in the first place I needed to understand the impact the sleep in order to think and act differently. I learnt to not feel guilty about having a lie-in, or going to bed early. Even extra hour of sleep a day can make all the difference, as your body switches off and calms down so the brain can reprocess the day in turn helping you get over a particularly stressful day. Some scientists believe a good night’s sleep can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease as it allows the brain to sift and store memories. There is an abundance of benefits.

Eat/Drink: Maintain a balanced diet as fluctuating blood sugar levels can trigger early waking. Don’t eat too late in the evening(leave at least two hours between eating and sleeping). Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol after 3pm as the sugar and caffeine will keep you awake and you’ll miss out on those precious extra hours. Also limit the amount of tea and coffee you consume to 2-3 max a day.

Exercise: Exercise in the late afternoon as you’ll tire yourself out, leading to a deeper sleep BUT avoid exercise within a couple of hours before bedtime as exercise will give you energy and you are less likely to get a good night’s rest.

Take those devices out of the bedroom: How did we survive before smart phones, tablets, laptops even tele? I still marvel at the way these gadgets have taken over our lives.  In any case not only do they disturb pillow talk, the blue light in them halts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin so get rid of them from the bedroom.

Meditate: Mindfulness is proven to reduce the time taken to fall to sleep and improve sleep quality, the way to do this is instead of dwelling on stressful thoughts, notice and let go of them by focusing on how cosy your duvet and pillow are, watch how the light reflects around the room, having an awareness on your body and the room around you. I’ve been meditating for a good few years now but even so I didn’t connect the idea of meditation to a good night’s sleep, introducing a nightly meditation into my life made an vast improvement to my state of mind thus making sleep easier

Stay in bed: Bringing in these improvements didn’t change my sleep pattern overnight, I still woke up in the night. I had to resist the urge to get out of bed in the middle of the night as getting up trains the body to wake up more frequently.

Regular routine: Much like the aforementionedno alcohol after 3 pm,’ keeping to a regular routine is not an easy feat but heading to bed at roughly the same time each night strengthens the link between the night-time and sleep consequently keeping your body clock on an even keel.

AND here are some other ways that are said to assist with better sleep: Ensure the bedroom is conducive to a good sleep (ideally it should be quiet, cool, dark, comfortable and about 17°), Invest in a good bed, and don’t hit the snooze button when you wake up (you are most refreshed after unbroken sleep), recharge with a power nap (no more than 30 minutes).

“A problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” ~ John Steinbeck

We’re all guilty of aiming to have an early night but being distracted by our phones or binge-watching a television show or in my case a movie I’ve already seen like a million times already… only to realise its past one and you have to be up early the next day. That sleep is vital to your good health and well being is like saying you need to brush your teeth twice daily for dental hygiene – a no-brainer right? But like brushing your teeth it is worth taking a few seconds to consider if your sleep routine is ensuring you reap the many benefits sleep provides.

As for my own sleep journey I am happy to report that I am much better friends with sleep, we meet on average for at least six uninterrupted hours most nights; and the difference in my cognitive function is evident every time I do The Guardian crossword, which I can now finish in under fifteen minutes something I couldn’t never do before (she says with smug grin).

Sat Nam


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it takes a village

village.jpgFirstly I want to start this week by thanking those who have reached out to me in regards to my last post about my phobia; your support and words of encouragement have overwhelmed me. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such a caring community.

As I go to write my post today it is with a heavy heart for it is with the knowledge that a family friend has passed away. Letting go and saying goodbye to someone who has graced your life is never without heartache and yet it is the way of life. I remember once when I was little, asking ‘why do people have to die’ To which the reply came ‘they just do when it’s their time.’

They just do when it’s their time and what remains are our memories which, no one not even death can take away from us. And I have such lovely memories of this ‘auntie’ (when you are Indian everyone is your auntie or uncle). I have this one distinct memory of the time when I was leaving New Zealand to seek pastures new, over 17 years ago. It was at a farewell lunch my mother had organised for me, one final hurrah with all our friends. There came a point after the eating and drinking had subsided when my parents, brother, grandma…  basically all my family became very emotional at the thought of me leaving, there was a lot of crying and hugging going on and who knows how this lunch would have ended if it had not been for this auntie saying ‘cheer up it’s not like she’s getting married’ and thus changing the mood in the room completely and that’s who she was, the effervescent mum. She was even one of the first mums I know to join Facebook, in fact the last time I heard from her was via that medium when she told me she had enjoyed something I had written on this blog. Always fun, always encouraging.

There is this African proverb I heard years ago which goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ When I think of all the people who ‘raised’ me; my parents, the extended family, teachers, neighbours, friends and the many ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ I feel so blessed and fortunate.

Each and every person has left an imprint.

Each and every person is present in the tapestry that is my life.

So thank you to all those who played a part in raising me especially to all those ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’.

You are forever in my heart.

Sat Nam


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being thankful

Gratitude.jpg

It is time for Thanksgiving yet again and even though it is not something I celebrate, a public holiday dedicated to giving thanks is my idea of the very best kind of public holiday. If I ruled the world I would make every country adopt the concept – ha!

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Jean Baptiste Massieu

Seriously though, being and feeling grateful has changed the way I live and look at my life. It gives me a total buzz and every time I say the words ‘I am grateful…’ my heart swells, what’s more I know that the times I have failed or forgotten to be grateful I have experienced the lowest ebbs in my life so now I make sure I cultivate being and feeling grateful in every aspect of my life. When I wake in the morning I go through a mental list of all things I am grateful for, as I walk to the bathroom I am being grateful. I continue being grateful as my day progresses for the different activities I am doing and the people I’m interacting with and at the end of the day before I close my eyes to sleep, I say thank you for the day I have had and for the day that is come.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” Maya Angelou  

The more I am grateful the more I find to be grateful for AND I have realised happiness and gratitude are mutually inclusive – you will never be truly happy if you are not grateful and if you are not truly grateful you are not happy.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Cicero

Thank you for reading, please feel free to share what you are grateful for in comments.

Sat Nam

 


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the art of letting go

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I found myself singing ‘Let it go’ today, on account of spending time with a five year old who is obsessed with the movie Frozen (is there any little girl who isn’t?) I have these words stuck in my head ‘Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go let it go. Turn away and slam the door.’

Letting go, if only it was as easy as turning away and slamming the door. The first sutra of the Aquarian Age is to recognize that the Other Person is You and I have struggled with this because I allowed negative energy to live in me. For years I held resentment towards a family member for perceived wrongs I felt had been done; this resentment affected my relationship with my family, the way they interacted with each other and it affected me personally in that this negative energy seeped through all aspects of my life – how I thought, how I felt, how I expressed myself. I can’t remember the last time I attended an extended family Christmas and I have been known to coordinate trips to visit my family with this person’s trips abroad so there could never be any danger of bumping into them. Carrying this bitterness never sat well with me but I continually ignored that inner voice that kept on trying to steer me to let it go. Even when mindfulness entered my life, and I had started to recognise that this resentment was only hurting me, I stubbornly stuck to my resolve. I was right, everyone else was wrong.

“Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind.” Buddha

Then a miracle happened. I had a breakthrough in therapy. Through therapy I learnt the art of letting go, which began with forgiveness. For me, the forgiveness bit happened the second I decided to forgive – long before I actually saw this person again. In that moment of deciding, it was like a huge weight lifted and in its place I was left with an overwhelming feeling of love. When I finally saw this person I found that I didn’t hold any bitterness at all – the past was firmly in the past. I enjoyed my time getting to know them again – and recognizing how similar we are. I would even go as far as saying that it saddened me that I had wasted so many years not being present in this person’s life, still no point in dwelling on that  – regret is a useless emotion.

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” Ajahn Chah

It is easier said than done, this letting go business, that is why I call it the art of letting go. My particular story may come across as though it was relatively easy but I had spent years – decades – angry and bitter and in the end I think I was just tired, tired of carrying that extra burden. Situations can be challenging, people can be challenging – we are all guilty of  carrying some baggage  – I truly believe if you want to live happy and mindfully and in peace – you have to let go of any bitterness. Although in some circumstances it may take a lifetime to truly let go, here are some tried and tested (by me) techniques that may help with the process:

Forgive   forgive and then forgive some more – forgive yourself, forgive the other person, forgive the situation – whatever it is forgive it. Recognize that the Other Person is You and as such treat them with kindness. Wish that person well and, if possible, send them your feelings of love. What started me on my journey to letting go were some words my counsellor said. He said ‘forgiveness is for you, not the person you are forgiving – it is a gift you give yourself.’ It’s not a new thought but something in those words and the timing in which he said them vibrated in my soul and I knew in that moment I was ready.

Write it out. I’m have become a great proponent of the idea ‘better out than in’ and I find writing a cathartic outlet to do this. Whether you journal your thoughts OR blog OR write a poem OR write all your stresses down and then throw them away/burn them OR write a song OR write a letter/email to the person who has upset you (which you may or may not want to send) – whichever mode – clarifying your feelings will help you come to terms with your reality as it is now.

Cry it out. I have always thought there is nothing like a good cry but then I would seeing as I am a cry baby. It now appears science agrees with me for it has been proven that crying away your negative feelings releases the harmful chemicals that build up in your body when you are stressed, so cry like there is no tomorrow I say.

Rant Window. Set aside some time, a window, where you allow yourself to let it all out – a day and hour whatever is required but be strict about the time once that time is over move on. If you need to confront someone who is troubling you ranting first may diffuse the hostility and give you time to plan a rational confrontation.

It can be hard to let go of something when that negative thought/feeling is constantly in your head. Try wearing a rubber band on your wrist and flick it when that thought/feeling is upon you. This action will train your mind to associate that type of persistent negativity with something unpleasant and in time that thought/feeling will become less dominant. I also used this technique when I felt I was swearing a lot and it worked, swearing is practically non existent for me now.

Engage in a physical activity. My favourite one size fits all remedy. Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins ergo it improves your state of mind. This one is a no brainer for me.  

Throw it away. One method I learnt in therapy was to hit (or toss) tennis balls (always remembering to retrieve them afterwards). Another just as effective way is to throw pebbles in water. Whether its balls or pebbles  – label each one as a part of your anger then as you offload them feel the tension subside.

There will never be a time when life is simple but if how you choose to respond to life is all that matters, then surely it is worth letting go any negative baggage. ‘Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door.’ 

Sat Nam


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here I am… Girl, Interrupted

detourJohn Lennon sang ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans¹.’
I think it is a pretty safe bet to say that so far, this year has not exactly gone the way I planned. One minute there I was, travelling along everything being fine and dandy and then the next minute it wasn’t and all it took was a trigger and off I was – on a totally different path. As result I missed out on a much desired job opportunity, deadline after deadline on my book’s journey to publication, a horseback adventure in Montana and most poignantly a dear friend’s very special birthday celebration.

You can run but you can’t hide. How honest are we really? We go about our lives projecting ourselves as people we want to be perceived as, this generally means trying to disguise our flaws. I know I have. My act has always been ‘I’m fine’ and anything less than fine in my mind was a sign of weakness or failure. I have never been good at dealing with the icky stuff. When something bad happens to me, I tend to put on a brave face and carry on. And this act served me just fine for a very long time. Even I was duped into believing it. Only it didn’t really. What I didn’t understand was that not dealing with ‘life’ as it happened was creating chaos in my head. So when my latest detour started it all came crashing down into one hot crazy mess and when putting on a brave face and carrying on didn’t work, I was left with no choice but to clean up the mess.

We all know life doesn’t play by any rules and that ultimately we have little to no control over outcomes. What we can be confident of is that there will be plenty of detours in life and detours, by their very nature are unexpected and not always easy to navigate through. While my detour may have started horrendously² I’ve come to see this detour as good and necessary – here’s why:

Embrace the detour I’m the chick that sticks to routines and gains genuine pleasure from ticking things off my to-do list. Any shift to my routine tends to make me come undone but this time after initial kicking and screaming I embraced my detour with an open and positive mind. By doing this I learnt that routine can be just as negative as it is positive, for by sticking to routines, we close ourselves off from exciting opportunities and even better ways of doing things.
Try saying ‘I don’t know’ more often When I was busy living the ‘I’m fine’ way of life, it became nay impossible to ask for help. Why would I ever be in a position to need help if I am always fine? By opening up and getting the help I needed I feel honest for the first time in my life and being able to say ‘I don’t know’ has been life changing simply because quite frankly how much do we really know?
You had the power all along my dear Although I have had loads of help through my detour (by way of comprehensive therapy) it was ultimately me who did the work and it is the very same me that has come out the other end pretty much intact and this is an incredibly empowering feeling. After all how you choose to respond to life is all that matters don’t you think?
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes I did not choose to be on my detour and it has been about as far from being on holiday that you could possibly get, in fact at one time ‘hell’ would have been an accurate description of where I felt I was. I have run a whole gamut of feelings these last few months: I’ve gone from feeling scared, anxious hopeless, angry, helpless to being emotionally drained and completely broken to feeling (believe me I know how cheesy this sounds but I can’t stop using the word) renewed.
Eye on the prize I might not be where I wanted to be but I’ve never been more clearer about who I am and more focused about the future.

I end this with some words that came to me via a good friend, words which provided me much comfort during my detour ‘For I know the plans I have for you declares The Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11.

Here I am… Girl, Interrupted. Proof positive the universe always has your back.

Sat Nam

¹ Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) – John Lennon
² More on my actual detour another day…   maybe