Tag Archives: Inspiration

A leap of faith

Warning – may be triggering.

It’s been a while since my last post.  I’ve found myself very busy managing full time work, part time study, exercise, gardening and socialising!!  Never thought I would start a post with that statement.

Last week I did something exciting and very unlike me.  I got a tattoo on my inner left wrist.  It’s a sunflower and I think it looks beautiful.  Some friends and family are horrified and think I have lost my mind (again!) and keep reminding me I have it for the rest of my life.  Really?  I had never thought of that!!  Unfortunately, I can’t tell them the full reasons for getting it done and what it represents to me.  They only know a small part of a big story so their confusion is somewhat justified.

Many of you reading this, know a little more of my story so I hope you don’t mind if I share the significance with you. Of note, I am not recommending this as a solution for everyone.  It is very much something I have done for myself.

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Yellow is my favourite colour which I’ve blogged about before: Yellow It brings to mind happiness, summer, warmth and life.  I love Daffodils.  When they break through the earth you know that winter is fading and longer days, warmth and light are on the way (although not always in the UK!!).  For me though, it has always been the Sunflower that steals the show.  Such a huge, strong flower coming from such a tiny seed.  They grow so tall and stretch up daily towards the sun.  A long sturdy stem sprouting leaves much in the same way that I imagine Jack’s beanstalk.  Eventually, the flower appears, face towards the sun and full of its own brilliance. The depth of the yellow fills you with warmth and you can’t look at it without smiling.

It seems that last year Sunflowers were everywhere…including the hospital I was staying in.  At the time I thought it ironic to have such a happy flower in a place full of people struggling to find any light in their lives.  Some days it felt they were mocking me.  Other days, they reminded me of where I was trying to get to.  Looking back with my ‘new’ mind I understand completely why they were there and am eternally grateful for their presence.

As an aside, the humble Sunflower Seed is also classed as a Superfood, contributing to numerous health benefits.  Beautiful to look at and healthy too!!

In the past one of my coping mechanisms for dealing with uncomfortable emotions has been to self-harm.  Traditionally, this had always been done with no visible signs but last year it changed and as a result I have a number of scars on my left arm.  I’m not ashamed of them and I don’t hide them.  They are part of me and remind me of where I have been and how far I have come.  For some reason it was always important to me that when I harmed, I could see the wounds and the.  Somehow, the best place became my left arm.

Following lots of therapy, I have a number of safer, and, let’s face it, more effective ways to manage emotions.  However, I also needed to think of what to do at times that I wasn’t feeling strong and felt the urge to resort to my old ways.   The tattoo is in itself a scar but is created as a work of art in a controlled environment.  It is on my left inner wrist so is somewhat hidden but also accessible to me at all times.

Each time I look at my Sunflower ‘scar’ I am reminded of my journey and how much I have learnt.  It reminds me that I am stronger than I think.  Each time I glance at it through the day I am reminded to pause, breathe and be mindful.  IF I feel the need to self-harm moving forward, I am hoping that I can use ii as a point of focus so that I can pause and remember.

I know that it will always be with me.  That’s kind of the point.  If I was able to remove it easily, I would get rid of it as soon as my mood became low.  It needs to be permanent because it tells my story.  It is part of me.  It wasn’t a rash decision…as I hope you have seen.  It’s a scar that I chose to have when I was feeling at my best.  It is beautiful and provides a focus for me on my path for me.  It’s not a reminder that I have been ill. It’s a reminder that I am here.

 

What if?

 

On paper my life looks almost perfect.  I know this because I have carefully constructed it over the years.  When I wake up in the morning I have a pretty good idea what I will be doing that day, and most likely the next 3 days (and weeks if we’re being honest). I have a good job and a beautiful house.  I have enough money to live pretty comfortably. I have great friends. I can just about manage my relationship with my family.  I am relatively fit and healthy.  I have 101 great stories to tell of my experiences in this life. I have a cat for affection and spontaneity.  I’m single because, quite frankly, relationships generate too many emotional ups and downs and these aren’t good for me in terms of managing my depression.  Everything is stable, consistent and safe…or at least I thought it was.

Earlier this week I had my eyes opened.  It was in one of those pesky therapy sessions where they help you relax and then drop a bombshell.  Perhaps it was this lack of excitement and opportunity that was now feeding my depression?  What if I could shake things up a bit?  What if I started to make some changes?  What if I started a relationship? Obviously, the thought makes me a little hot and sicky, but seriously, what if I did start a relationship?  What if it actually worked out?  What if it didn’t? Would it actually be that bad? Or, could it actually be as good as it sometimes looks?  The thing is, I won’t know until I try.  

What I do know is that on my current route, my future self will be asking ‘What if I had?’.  That somehow seems scarier that asking now ‘What if I do?’

How about you?  Are there any ‘What ifs?’ you can apply to your life?

Blow your mind

As is traditional, each year, I set myself a few goals.  To help ensure I reach these goals, I ensure they reach that classic criteria of SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.  They are generally set around health, a target weight, a fun run, alcohol limits etc, and sometimes they are around things I want to do in the house.  Mostly achieve them, yay me, and I dutifully tick the box.

This year however, when planning my goals I read something that set me thinking:

”When setting your goals choose something, that when you achieve it, will blow you mind”

At first I was shocked that someone should recommend setting people up to fail.  Hadn’t they heard that goals had to be SMART?  With specific emphasis on realistic and achievable.  Surely if it’s going to blow my mind, it can’t be realistic.  But something about this statement really stuck with me.  I realised that all my new year goals were absolutely achievable for me.  Completing them was really a tick box activity.  I didn’t get any real sense of accomplishment at the end.  For example, every few years I will put a 5k run on my list.  I have done 4 of these now.  I don’t find them particularly easy, but that is generally because I know I can easily walk it quickly if needed, so my training is a little lacklustre.  I have occasionally thought of doing a 10k, but felt it was too much and I would be setting myself up for disappointment.  Who am I kidding?   There is nothing to stop me doing a 10k run, other than me.  I was mistaking achievable with ‘easy’ and realistic with ‘likely’.

So, in order to ‘Blow my mind’, I have committed to 2 challenges this year.

The first is to abstain from alcohol for the entire year.  I was just going to do ‘Dry January’ along with everyone else, but I know I can do that (and longer) relatively easily.  A year however, is going to me much more challenging.  I travel a lot with work, and having a glass of red to help me relax and sleep on the plane is something I genuinely look forward to.  I love to taste drinks made famous in that country.  The Caipirinha I had in Brazil has yet to be beaten, and the limoncello in Italy was heavenly.  A friend has invited me to a spa day where you are provided a glass of the bubbly stuff on arrival…I already feel I am missing out.  It really will be a challenge, but I know I can do it.  It is achievable and it is realistic….it’s just not going to be easy (if you speak to my friends most unlikely).  To help see it through, I have published my plan on Facebook and set up a JustGiving site to see if I can generate a little bit of money for charity at the same time..all additional motivators.  The point is, at the end of the year, I can truly feel proud of what I have done.

The second challenge is to run a 10k.  As I have already mentioned this will be a challenge.  I am not a natural runner and generally lack the motivation to train.  But, it is easily achievable for me (if I train) and is certainly realistic.  There is no medical or physical reason that I can’t succeed. The only barrier will be my brain…..hmmmm…sensing a potential problem here 🙂  But when I cross that finishing line, I will know I have done something real and challenging.

So, I would like to ask you.  What could you do this year to really blow your mind?