The process of seasonal change often comes with reflectiveness. I am aware I’m a bit late to the party. This isn’t a blog about autumn…in fact we are almost at winter…but I’ve got a candle lit and yes, I’m feeling reflective so I decided I’d share some thoughts. The warm glow is really chilling me the f**k out after a weird couple of weeks. Thank goodness for candles guys- fire has supported humans since the moment we walked the earth- something about how we still use candles today (albeit for various reasons) feels comforting – maybe they speak to an evolutionary primitive part of us.
I thought I would post about gratitude. Because even though I have recently come out of a strange couple of weeks on the mental health side, I have a lot to be grateful for. It is something we have to train our brains to naturally gravitate to. Sometimes depending on what is going on our lives it is hard to exercise that cognitive muscle. And of course I am perceptive enough to understand that we aren't all dealt easy cards in life- I see it around me everyday. But when it comes to gratitude I do not think it is necessarily something always based on our external worlds and what is happening to us, but more what is going on inside; it's our image of ourselves and where we fit into the complexity of life as individuals in a collective world.
For the last 6 months I have written down the things I am grateful for as frequently as I can. This is partly due to experiencing some personal and professional changes that proved to me, for different reasons, that adulthood is continually unpredictable. Life's rhythm is not always a tune we know the notes to. In fact often it's proves the opposite. And, to clarify, I think that’s okay. I try very hard to not be so concerned about being totally in control anymore- I’d rather focus in on what I know to be true and real and tangible in my present.
So with that in mind, I have chosen to actively exercise gratitude.
Here is a short list of some of the things I have written- I’ve chosen them to be useful to others. I encourage you to try it too...
Grateful for new pyjamas
Nothing much more to say on this- just when you get a fresh pair it’s like giving your soul a hug
Grateful for the days when I feel alone
I think it is being able to acknowledge that loneliness is laced into life. I know it sounds a bit cheesy but in the film P.S I love you her mum says ‘Thing to remember is, if we are all alone, then we are together in that too’
Grateful to know a lot of other freelancers
Following on from the above- freelancing can be lonely. So having someone you can meet up with and rattle through your to-do list next to in a coffee shop is worth EVERYTHING.
Grateful for making plans
Even if it is just seeing a mate for a coffee or making sure you invite people over into your space so you associate home with companionship- these gestures of friendship are an important part of living happily in my opinion. Being ready to share your time and give yourself energy generously to others means it will come back around. Good Karma!
Grateful for good TV
I never used to be particularly adventurous with the TV I watched, but in the last year I’ve racked up a lot more time spent watching quality films and series. When you are a child you are encouraged not to watch too much TV because it is associated with being lazy and unimaginative. However, because there is so much out there to watch now – so many stories that help you learn new things and transcend your own experience- I actually think TV is well worth all our time. I don’t think it is a waste to watch something that makes you think and feel. The alternative during down time seems to be social media- and that IS a waste of time. So I’m grateful for the stories that people are telling and the skill with which they are being told. I am grateful for the escape it provides
Grateful for the quiet moments between the noise of life
I think a lot and analyse a lot and I say a lot. I try to do lots of things all the time at the same time. Sometimes I think too intensely. I think it is important to stop sometimes. I know it is good to take yourself away, quietly, and have a moment to yourself. For you and for the world. Quietness helps us reconnect with the simple nature of being alive. And ultimately life can be gone at any moment- so it helps us strip back to the essentials- to let the unnecessary stuff dissolve away. Listening to your heart beat or the buzz or the fridge or the children playing outside in their back gardens. Whatever it is. It’s just not the demand of anything. At least for a bit.
Grateful for working in diverse spaces
Having done this since I graduated- I really feel it has totally shaped my outlook on my whole career and where I sit within the world. It has enriched me greatly to engage with difference. It is the fundamental flaw of our divided world that difference is feared. We must learn to celebrate it, and in the process find our unexpected common ground.
Grateful for the 20 minutes after exercise
When you get the rush of endorphins that eclipses all the noise in your head. I don’t exercise religiously and I don’t go to the gym – I do it at home- but it really is great to sweat and build up your strength so you can feel more agile and able when you get out of bed in the morning- it’s something I’ve only really implemented into my life in the last year but it’s been a really positive aid in maintaining good mental health
Grateful for taramasalata
That's it really.
Grateful for listening to other people’s life stories
I suppose this one links to the TV thing. Reminding yourself that you are part of a bigger picture is key to providing some perspective on your own life. It doesn’t make me feel insignificant to know there are so many of us out there. I like hearing or reading about someone’s else’s lens on the world – to find affinity but also transcend my own version of life. It is easy to stay stuck in your own experience but it’s transformative to seek out other peoples’. I’ve been listening to more Desert Island Discs recently and I find comfort in them. It brings a peace into your life to hear people you don’t know echo a sentiment that sums up your experience of the world. I was sat in the bath listening to Stephen Fry and he said ‘I have a need to be a part of the world and to connect and then this other pull that is a need to be separate from it. And I think that is often what tears me apart’. Listening to that made me smile; a realisation that this is my feeling too- which some people might not know about me I suppose. I don’t wear that on my sleeve.
Grateful for days inside when it's raining
I’ve always loved looking out at the rain. I don’t mind being in it either. But I remember when I was younger sitting on my windowsill when it's tapping on the glass- the darkened sky and the sound of it on the leaves and the concrete. Somehow there is permission to just be there and watch it- you know when you see people stopping to shelter and they just watch the rain and wait for it to calm down? I always think those moments even though they seem inconvenient are actually unexpectedly peaceful.
Grateful for a mantra I chose to give myself a few months back: ‘Everything I need I have within myself’ and one that has challenged me since...
I think this is a reflection of a moment of connection with myself as a woman. I think the world tells us we are not enough and we often feel we rely on lots of external validation to make us feel worthy of spaces, other people’s praise, attention, success….everything. That’s really tiring and seeking that out can lead to negativity. If we are able to piece ourselves together in a way that we view our living breathing body and our enquiring minds with more wholeness – perhaps we can feel more equipped for our unpredictable world.