The Search For Happiness …

Why it appears that in our society more is becoming less …

At the start of this week the country connected with Blue Monday. In that way in which we name our days to attach an importance or a feeling/ behaviour with them – like the dreadful Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we have deemed that Monday in January to be the time when everything Christmas and New Year and glittery and bright is a distant memory. The credit cards bills are landing and the children have moved on from the presents and are already focusing on what next ..

However it was also a national week asking us to Hunt for Happiness – in an emotional sense might I add! .So here in the world of Bemoore it seemed like a great topic to explore.

Why are we so often searching for that happiness?

What is it that is missing from our lives that creates a need to look for something more ?

Now happiness is not an tangible thing. It is an emotion , a feeling and this is created by our own brain processing information. It is something that happens within our mind and our body and yet we are looking for it outside… of course what we are in fact looking for is that tangible thing we can attach the emotion of happiness with.

The problem we then have is we need to have something external in order to bring forward that feeling of happiness ongoing. .. and the more we bring it forward the more we believe that we need more stuff to keep feeling happy – remember my blog on the compulsive buyers ( and I have certainly been there myself!).

People’s lives are filled with sentences that start ..’ if only I had ‘ .. If only I changed .. If only it was different .. When I get to …. Then I will be happy !’ and yet even when people get those things or get to where they thought they wanted to be .. they are already looking for next big thing.

On my radio show this week I had two wonderful guests – Anna Parker- Naples Founder of Inspiring Mummies Club and a fellow Mindfulness practitioner and Sharon Rai – Enabler at the Entrepreneurial Spark Program run by Natwest nationally for start up businesses.

Both of them had experienced events in their life which meant they saw that happiness could come from a different place. For Anna it was after a health scare and then her ability to find happiness inspiring others around her.. For Sharon it was seeing that the glamour of the high corporate consultancy life didn’t actually fulfil her and she made the big jump into the world of social enterprise and again found happiness helping others get started.

We all agreed that happiness is actually within us and it is within us we need to look. I think it links so well to another of my favourite topics – purpose. And I think this is also why we see people embracing a return to minimalism or coming away from the instagram life  where we are bombarded with perfect images of lives we could have ( but actually don’t even exist) and seeking peace in retreats for the mind and the body. I loved the quote that came up on my FB Live on Wednesday from Wendy- comparison is the thief of joy ! – that is truth!

For me I found happiness again in similar way – I knew I could give something back and help others find their path  and that’s the shape of my business going forward.

So  look for those small things that create that feeling : they are all around you – these are some of our favourites – thank you Ellen for getting us started..

Clean Sheets, popping bubble wrap , stroking cats , the licking of the yoghurt pot lid, throwing leaves in the air and watching them fall , blowing bubbles through a child’s bubble wand , a good book , a hug, the small crunchy chips at the bottom of the bag, doing something which makes someone else’s life easier .. and my secret vice .. dipping salt and vinegar crisps into hot chocolate ( don’t knock it till you tried it)..

So when you are looking for that next thing .. why not look inside and see what you already have …happiness is there for you – you can bring it anytime you wish…

Have a fabulous and mindful week ! x Ali

 

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Intention and Purpose

What A Week !

Well it’s not only the end of the Intention and Purpose week here at Bemoore but the end of my first proper week back in the business and on the business after Christmas and New Year.

Firstly how long ago does that all feel ?

My intention this week ( see what I did there ? ) was to look at goals and resolutions but from a different aspect and I will touch on this in a moment, however sitting here on a Friday evening waiting for the family to return, it has also been a moment of reflection on my own intentions at the start of the year.

Those that follow me will know I was feeling frazzled. I was feeling like instead of working on what I truly enjoy – which is helping others to find ways forward – I was chasing all the shiny stuff, getting caught up in the who had the best clients and the most PR opportunities and it was feeling at odds.

So I made the decision that everything I did this year would be about purpose. I would question my choices to ensure they were in line with that purpose and focus on working with clients that wanted to move forward and  focus on enjoying my business and being true in my intentions. … I was putting it in the hands of the universe that if I put my energies into this way of working the business side would come together.

… and this week has been testimont to that belief! The therapy room has been filled with amazing individuals with many different asks, but all wanting to explore their journey, I have met some fabulous new contacts , had wonderful enquiries about future work and connected with new opportunities which have opened doors. Each day has seen a step forward and the best bit is that everything I am now working on and everyone I am working with feels congruent with how I want it to be.

In my FB live this week I talked about working from your purpose first rather than making great lists of ‘To Do’s then falling off the wagon just a few weeks in. Looking to see what is going on in your life now and what is working for you and what is at odds with your intentions. Also exploring how you are defined and by what titles and again how this feels in terms of your future journey.

Having done that you can think about what you would like to be different and only then at that point start to think about the actions that will take you to that new place. Often after this exercise clients will find that many of the items on their original to do list are no longer relevant. Their new list ensures goals are focused on what they have defined as the changes they really want to make – and because of this these goals and actions are much more likely to stick.

So why not do a final review of where you are before the year really starts to ramp up?

Next week we are on the Hunt for Happiness and don’t forget you can listen in again next week Monday 7pm – 8pm on Secklow Sounds 105.5fm ( http://www.secklow.org) to hear my fabulous guest talk about their own hunt for happiness.

As always have a fabulous and Mindful week x

Celebrating Life…

Before you look to make change celebrate what you already have !

If last week was a chance to be still and reflect then this week is about being fully in the present and it’s National Celebration of Life Week so what a fabulous reminder to look around us and celebrate what is going on for us right now !

For many people life can range from mundane to down right difficult to deal with and we are bombarded with the negative through all media outlets. Celebrations can be hard to find and even for those that are on an even keel, celebration can be seen as something saved for the big events.

And yet understanding what is happening in our lives in the moment , looking at what we already have and seeing the small details which make our life what it is are vital components in drafting your future journey .. once again at this time when it’s all about goals – making things bigger , better ,changing , doing more or less of stuff  doesn’t it make sense to understand also appreciate what is just there now. That is what you need to nurture and love and grow. .. and of course being in the now and being present – that’s mindful living !

I heard a wonderful description of the visual world we live in – when we take the photo which used to be for memory and to cherish and now is all about creating the perfect image of a perfect world. We become so obsessed with the taking of the image and the look of the image we almost forget the moment we are capturing. … and yet if we stopped we might see that in that moment we had it all – right there – right then .. we had it all .. but we didn’t see it and we didn’t celebrate it and when we finally look up the moment is lost and sometimes the people are lost as well.

Helping people celebrate their life is such a wonderful part of my role and we start this by simply looking for positives on a daily basis. Now this seems easy but again for many people this can be tough especially when the goal is to find 10 or 20 positives every single day… and yet it’s about embracing the small. The smaller the better in fact . My favourites I share are:

  1. Putting on the hob light in the early morning before the house wakes up.
  2. Hearing the whistle of the kettle on the gas hob ready for that first cup tea.
  3. The first cup of tea – which I love so much I posted about recently.

And that’s 3 before I have even got out of my PJ’s! not very exciting and would pass many people by ..

… and yet that is the start of celebrating – each small thing which brightens our day creates that positive mind-set.

I recently asked my social media community how they celebrated – mine was very food related. Having been bullied to the point of home schooling and used food as a way of control I now see food as something to be enjoyed ..I was smiling when I saw so many people agreeing and of course opening the bottle of bubbles  – any excuse for me ( in moderation of course.) But also things such as driving in the sun to remind them of the summer months to come are all ways to embrace and celebrate the life we have.

So as you start this year and think about the adventures to come remember to stop and make time to celebrate your life right now , your people right now and look to see what you already have !

Bright Blessings !

Ali x

The Waiting and The Re-Start

It’s all about those in-between days and the wiping of the slate ….

Christmas we all get – the build up and the preparation. There is a plan of action and there are traditions to keep which give us structure. It comes at a perfect time .. right at the end of the year so we can pack it all away and get ready to start again .. but … there is that slight problem.

Between the Christmas and the New Year we have ‘ those days’ .. the in between days.. the days with no name. They start after Boxing Day …and the question is what then?

For many of course and for me in the past they have been normal working days – although feeling a bit odd if I am honest. They just don’t feel like other days – they feel as though we are waiting for something, so even going about our normal day to day business just feels a bit different.

People are so keen to try and move through them we have started to name days at the other end – New Year’s Eve Eve for example the day before the day before. So keen are we to just get going.

Added to this everywhere is all about starting again, making resolutions, making lists, planning for next year, moving on so that you feel as though you have somehow failed if you haven’t filled in your personal journal and planner with events right up to next summer at least, committed to a whole new you and committed to eating only green foods in liquid form for at least the first 3 months!

Why do we do this ? – well it’s as though that magical time when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve is like Cinderella in reverse. Everything about the old year is wiped away – we can start afresh and become a new person – cleansed and committed. Able to re start our goals and make new plans. It’s no wonder we want to miss those days in between especially as we may still be wading through the Christmas excess ( aren’t we all glad when the last of the food is done?)

But this year after finishing my first full year as self employed I reached these days and suddenly I realised something. I was so caught up in the moving forward and it was driven partly by my own motivation – good – and partly by comparing myself to what everyone else seemed to be doing. Social media is full of posts stating that people are getting amazing clients , filling workshops to sold out , taking big opportunities and already having one foot in 2018…and I realised I was procrastinating  yet being busy – but not really getting stuff done so it was time to do something I hadn’t done in quite a while.. and I wasn’t enjoying it because it was based on what other people’s success was all about and it was time to STOP!

The main reason we procrastinate is because we either feel overwhelmed or we are unsure of where our journey will take us. The remedy to both is to stop , to listen , to reconnect with your inner thoughts , to be mindful of course and to do this you need to have quiet.

I call it surfing the urge with clients when they are compelled to do something and so I did just that – I surfed through the urge to get started on next year and I made time in the in between days to really listen to what my soul was saying. At first it was hard, I wanted to be working on stuff, to fill my time and of course there was guilt about having time off .. but then through the quiet it clicked and I had that ah ha moment. I stopped long enough to hear my own voice and I got the answers I was searching for . I listened to the silence, I embraced the down time , I waited in the waiting days and then I knew!

So now I sit here on New Year’s Eve ready to embrace 2018, clearer than I ever have been in my intentions and looking forward to the opportunities to come .. but also reminded of the need to build in time, time to think , to plan , to be with others, to reconnect with self , to clear the diary and to listen to the world in that moment around me.

Have a wonderful start to your New Year – make each day count , be kind and every so often just stop and see how much the silence can tell you.

Bright Blessings !

 

Memories are Made of This …..

First Learn to Be Silent , Then to Experience Silence and only then to Question the Silence ….

Memories are funny old things really .. as soon as an event has happened and we start to replay it from memory we create a whole new view on it.. we highlight the pieces we want to remember , the pieces we think we remember , the bits that stood out .. we forget or file away pieces that don’t interest us or are potentially too traumatic to focus on .. and hence the memory becomes our reality .. but it is not reality.

I do a lot of memory work with clients so I often find myself that memories of my own  from many years ago will just pop into my head .. no apparent reason and normally with no adverse effects, although like all therapists we have steps in place should that happen .. funny how the memory was like it wasn’t even there and then it’s like watching an old movie and everything comes back .. the sensations , the emotions , the smells even  . .. and then there are those key moments – memories of a time when you fixed a moment in your mind. You know when you sit somewhere and say I will always remember this moment .. in 10 years time I will look back and remember this …. Memories in therapy can work in many ways – focusing on memories of happiness will bring back that emotion , focusing on key events can provide anchors when life seems chaotic.

Memories have been on my mind a lot in recent weeks and perhaps throughout this year along with a feeling of disquiet…. As a scientist I would say its because of the client work I do and because I am running at full pace at the moment, setting up events , launching a new business and still spending far too much time in the social media world, taking in lots of bite size pieces of information rather than digesting and savouring learning .. But as a Pagan ( albeit rather lapsed) I would say it’s because we are reaching the end of the Pagan year – Samhain for us marks the final turn of our Wheel of the Year when dig down through the darkest days and wait to celebrate the return of the light at Yule . Like all new years a time for refresh and reflection .

Perhaps also memories are on my mind as it sees some key years coming to pass – both my daughters had banner birthdays – 21 and 18 which mean looking back at old photographs , reminiscing and of course thinking where did the years go – how old do I feel !! I was 44 this year and that for me feels like a turning point – 45 seems the start of the next stage of life I guess.

Then of course there is the combination of the changing of the year and a key memory which changed my life – for there is also another banner birthday this year – that of my eldest son Kieran who would have celebrated his 10th birthday. The first big birthday. But Kieran was born asleep and so along with his birthday is a whole host of emotions of sadness and grief and what if’s … memory of this time is hard but also important and the current #onemoreminute campaign and the fact that it is baby and child loss awareness month in October has of course had me thinking about the memories I have ( not that I don’t always do that). In the early years each anniversary was a reflection on all consuming loss that is felt when a child dies. In more recent I now work to focus on the few memories that remind me that I was and always will be his mum. ..I can still smell that baby smell as I held him  and I can remember like only yesterday sitting next to his crib in the hospital to keep my vigil that one and only night I had with him. I can also clearly remember feeling so anguished that in 10 years time he would be just a memory – a baby in a photograph.. and yet now we are there in the future I foresaw I know that isn’t true at all. Because he is so much more than a memory.

The loss of Kieran brought about a fundamental shift in my life – a huge change   for the people involved alongside overwhelming , gut wrenching grief … but in the years that came a feeling of wanting to make each day count, to do something of value , to work with others and help them see that you can achieve whatever your circumstances gave me a strength and a point… and that got me where I am now.

And so nearly 10 years to the day ( his birthday is on the 4th November) I will cherish those memories and create ones which fill me with pride and purpose. They may not be exact to the real events but that doesn’t matter .. because our memories are how we choose to learn. So take some time and reflect , wander down memory lane and perhaps create a new focus point right now to look back on in another 10 years… I never imagined I would be where I am now, at that moment in that hospital as I looked at my beautiful son to say goodbye.. but in 10 years time I will look back and remember that I was happy now, that we lived in a wonderful cottage called the Three Fishes next to our favourite pub .. and that 10 years on life was good… and I will lean into the disquiet and let it settle , I will look to not fight against it but to explore it as Mindfulness teaches us .. and then see where life takes me next.

 

ps I thought a lot about sharing this story hence why my blog has been rather sparse lately but one thing I wanted to be certain of was that he is not forgotten and therefore just as I write about my other children I write about him … and also I hope that others might see that life can good again .. you can be happy .. it will never be as it was – you will never be as you were .. but it can be good.

 

 

 

Switch off to Switch On!

The average social media user checks in every 6.5 MINUTES that’s around 150 times a day ! – so says the research carried out by Arianna Huffington for her Thrive book .. and I am a guilty addict .. so it needed to change …..

‘I am writing this blog initially in a pink pen on a notepad . Yes actual writing – not on a screen , not with my thumbs or clicking on keyboard – but physically moving my pen over the page , feeling it’s smooth movement and realising how much focus is needed to form the letters … and how slow I am at it! You see I am having a digital detox day – no social media or checking of messages .. and already I am feeling calmer and more relaxed.

As someone who is an avid ‘ poster’ – I have 4 FB pages inc home and business , a twitter , an Instagram and a Linked in plus both home and business email accounts it seems I am on line A LOT! But not just when I need to be . I am permanently attached to my phone, checking it , picking it up , carrying it with me , worrying where I put it – not even able to get out of the car without looking at it. I was convinced for a while I was connected , learning and taking part in the world – always engaged and up to date but since becoming a practitioner or mindfulness ( hence the creation of my Reconnection Project and Journal Program) and mindfulness becoming a big part of my life, I have started to become aware of some worrying behaviours.

  1. Anxiety constantly over where the said phone was!
  2. Lack of attention with no ability to focus for more than a few minutes at a task before needing to check in again!
  3. Worrying memory issues from constant short bursts of short pieces of info that I rarely read in-depth, which led to me having difficulty remembering anything at all.
  4. Never truly engaged especially with my young son – I would be with him whilst he played but I would be on screen time so never fully present and experiencing this precious time with him.

On top of all of these I have become disillusioned with the images and news I am  reading.

  • the constant outpouring of celebrity grief for every single person that passes ( that’s a whole other blog itself.)
  • suddenly seeing images of tortured animals and experimentations and horrific news  – especially those where people think saying Amen will do any good.
  • being asked to cut and paste and being basically told if I didn’t I was a dreadful human being.
  • The seemingly endless petitions which are now so easy to just click and share – no effort needed to support a cause anymore. .. and who follows up on everything they clicked on ?
  • and finally the feeling of motion sickness and headaches caused by the scrolling action which my eyes have taken offense to.

And so on Saturday I decided to disconnect! and writing this late on Saturday afternoon it’s been a revelation already.  Suddenly I am aware of what is going in the world – the real world – like spending time with my family at our favourite café – instead of sitting there on my phone I am reading stories to my son and chatting to my husband ( who is slightly disgruntled as he is still connected and trying to invade an imaginary land).

Watching a film together and really watching it – seeing my son so excited when his favourite character came on and realising that he could say the words of certain scenes – who knew ?

Reading a real magazine – fully immersed in the articles , making notes and highlighting favourite pieces and feeling the knowledge start to seep into my brain which was relieved we were not skim reading yet again .. and the writing  this blog from start to finish without interruption…already there is a calmness and a belief of purpose that has began to come through .’

Now typing this up on Monday I can say I have continued my digital detox – not totally as I do enjoy hearing people’s happy moments and I love interacting with my on line community which plays a big part in my business – but I have been limiting my social media time. Specifically putting the phone away whilst being on task and ensuring that I am in the moment when I am with people. Ironically I have discovered a whole host of great material to share with my on line tribes whilst also having some serious background knowledge rather than simply clicking share on interesting articles – my love of research never went away but it was sadly dimmed it seemed and is now being embraced fully! – many post it notes have been used this weekend 🙂

I have noticed of course how much others are firmly still head down – my whole family including my young son were all on devices on Saturday evening so there was no one there to talk to .. I shall gently tackle this on going plus I realised how much of an ‘ addict I was ‘ – after the initial first day of enjoyment there was also some anxiety about not checking in which worried me but in turn reminded me that this project is important to our mental wellbeing ..

So I will work to resist the urge to live in a virtual world and strive be mindful in the present.

Details of my Journaling Program can be found at http://www.bemoore.uk

The High Of The Buy!

It’s no fun being a shopaholic!

The movie was funny and the books have sold in their millions – most women are familiar with the character in Shopaholic and enjoy the adventures she goes on. Most women have also experienced ‘ The High Of The Buy!’ – that feeling of euphoria that overcomes us when we buy that new item – it could be shoes, clothes , gadgets, makeup .. for me it’s jackets ( surely everyone has 52 different jackets in their wardrobe right ? )

But what happens when the feeling goes out of control – the need to keep buying and the need to get that hit of happiness strikes again and again?  For some the habit can be destructive on their lives, giving them massive debts and anxiety and stress.

What turns an innocent enjoyable experience into a nightmare out of which it is so difficult to escape?

Well there are many reasons and it makes it easier to work through when we understand that this type of behaviour is clinically linked to other compulsive behaviours – or disorders ( OCD) as we commonly refer to them.  We often think about the people who clean to an extreme and of course those which hoard what we feel are totally random objects.

All of these behaviours in this spectrum are driven by a need from the person – most often linked to self- esteem and worries about consequences should they not give into the compulsion.

With our shopping compulsive there can be that belief that by having that new item it will not only create a new look but will fundamentally shift their lives – they will be a new person , a better person – they will be different – improved and people around them will like them more and they will look into the mirror and like themselves.  The initial rush of feel good hormones when the purchase is made buys into that  view. It is indeed an addiction psychologically and coupled with the desire for the object and the overriding belief that there is a ‘ need’ not a want, the compulsion kicks in .

Sadly once the item is bought the effects quickly wear off. In some cases it will be when the item is worn once and the realisation that life is still the same and You are still the same starts to dawn. For others the item may never be used – it may end up in the shopping graveyard – tucked away in the back of the wardrobe ,still in the bag with the tags on  – but again it’s the same reason. All the problems and anxieties you had before the purchase are still there and  with  the high of the buy gone from your system you now experience a true low. There may be a feeling of shame itself that you let yourself fall prey to the habit, there may be feelings of panic that you spent more money that you could not afford, increasing your debt and for some there may be the lies which follow as they cover their tracks leading to an increase in anxiety and stress. All of this reduces the person’s self esteem and the roller coaster starts to crank up again leading up to the thrill at the top of the hill when the next purchase will be made because surely that will cure everything – followed once again by the rapid crash down the other side.

The good news is that with the right support the roller coaster ride can be halted. Cognitive Therapy enables people to start seeing that they can control their feelings and have choice. They can start to see the good things about themselves which are already there – which do not need boosting with external and material items.

Being able to examine evidence of the lack of impact the items have on their feel good factor long term, coupled with seeing that they can bring positive thoughts into their lives just from within themselves, empowers the feeling of choice. .. and with choice there is control. Additionally having a safe environment in which to explore what started the roller coaster can give clarity and understanding – realising that there is an explanation can be empowering in itself.

We all love some external gratification  – I will never be a minimalist and my next blog will follow on from this to talk about how hoarding takes over .. but if this blog brought up feelings in you that were familiar perhaps just stop and think .. in this material 1st world we are in no one ‘ needs’ that new item.. and no item will solve your problems. Enjoy what you own and what you buy but see it for what it is – it’s just a dress, it’s just a lip stick , it’s just a pair of shoes.. what you have inside of you ? … now that is life transforming !

Dream More .. See More … Be and Feel Fabulous Being You !

Connection Interrupted ….

In a digital and virtual world in which we are connected to individuals all over the globe on a 24/7 basis , wherever we are, it appears we are more disconnected with life than ever.

Those that follow my various social media threads will know that connection and reconnection have been weighing on my mind recently. Initially it was a self interest in which I noticed that we spent many hours connected to machines which connected us to others, but that sharing of personal connections did not seem to be apparent. Everything was taking place in the virtual world – to the extent where whole families ( mine included ) could be sitting in the same room , with the TV on and all on different devices having 10 different conversations – but none were with the people they were actually sharing space and air with.

Conversations take place in bite size chunks whether on text or whether totally condensed by the rules of the virtual world, in which you can  only share 140 characters in which to have your say, or send an image or thought only for it to be deleted from existence a matter of moments later. We are sharing more and more of our lives – and yet it is a filtered life where we filter not only the information to show ,mainly the best bits of our fabulous lives  but also the actual image – the food needs to be at the right angle, the selfie the right tone , the body shape altered to appeal to the masses.

We walk along the street with headphones in having conversations with invisible people or we scroll through page after page of someone else’s news… but what is happening around us?

I also noticed that direct communication is filtering out. In a recent post ( and yes I am a frequent poster on numerous sites so I aim these thoughts at myself also as a good therapist should) I spoke of no longer phoning someone. The invention and wonder of the landline was so short lived. Could those people only 30 years ago even imagine we had grown bored of the phone in the house?  When being able to phone your friends was a luxury and a thing to be treasured, when everyone would rush to answer the phone eager to see who was connecting and when you sat on the stairs -because for those younger readers – phones had cords and normally had to be wired into the hallway near the door – you stretched the cord and you chatted with your friends until someone shouted about the bill. Now we worry we will disturb and so we text first and often the text will do- no need now to talk and chat. Actually ringing someone seems so invasive and for my children’s generation it seems almost bizarre and scary that you would ring some one and wait for a real person to speak.

Even when ordering coffee and food people are speaking but looking into their phones.

It made me think about the way we interact in the virtual world – the way it is OK for many people to be so angry , so hurtful , so cruel in their comments regarding matters and people which have no impact on them and they have no reason to be so offensive over. Yes it could be said it is easy to hide behind the virtual world but could we also be losing touch of the fact that there is a real person behind that profile who has feelings? Could it be because we share so much and have so much insight into another’s life we feel we have a right to make such personal comments and there is no consequence in this celebrity driven universe we inhabit? Perhaps made even harder to keep in context when many have avatars to represent them bearing no resemblance to a real person.

This curiosity became more a focused item when only recently a very dear friend of mine passed away suddenly. As is the way in this modern world the news was filtered through a friend of a friends social media post – to which my daughter woke up to just hours after the event…. the insight into someone else’s world which we have come to accept as normal highlighted the often forgotten impact of news on others outside of the virtual world bubble. Ironically we had lost touch because she was one of my few friends that I actually needed to speak to in person and call – she did not really text and she had no on line life in which we shared.. I had more actual connection in that friendship than in many others and I realise now how much that will be missed.

And so I will be launching soon my reconnection project in which you are encouraged to connect with those around you and yourself , to come out of the online world and take notice of the what is happening within the reality space.  To look to make connections with real people and to spend time connecting back with the real you.

My thoughts today are not meant to be saying it is all bad- social media keeps us in touch with people we would struggle to do so with – I have friends in other countries and I enjoy seeing all my virtual world news updates and pictures and of course my business is reliant in many ways on these media outlets .. I just want to highlight that there is a world out there , a real world with real people .. look up and reconnect with each other and see how amazing it can be.

#Just Eat Normal

 

I say this quietly and a little cautiously – I am not on a diet .. nor am I on a nutrition program or a food plan – I am not having meals delivered made to measure and I am not , excluding food groups. The reason I am cautious is that it would appear this is now not the norm – it appears everyone is doing some kind of ‘eating thing’! and to eat normally i.e just a normal day of food -sometimes good food , sometimes rushed on the run food, sometimes admitting I skip lunch then have a packet of crisps for tea, is quite frowned upon – added to the fact that many people are deciding they know best about what you should eat and more importantly what you shouldn’t eat ..and overall it’s making me hurrumph !

Hurrumph – the noise you make when you also perhaps roll your eyes and have that feeling of ‘ really !  the noise I make when the ‘ food police’ make their appearance.

Now before you all start saying -well it’s all about education and everyone needs to eat healthy. I agree .. so stop because I agree. People do need to eat a healthy diet – they do need to understand what’s in food and have options about what they buy and from where … and from that they are free to do an amazing thing – they are free to have choice.

Choice is great – and if you are choosing to eat any of the above types of diets or lifestyle things then go ahead – you may medical needs or moral and ethical views or you may just like eating that way .. but remember it is your choice! – and others can make theirs. What really makes me hurrumph is firstly that you are surrounded by so many differing messages about what is and isn’t good, which change depending on the fashion of the time .. and that people then feel they can impose their choice on you. Recently I experienced a situation in which I reached for  a small piece of chocolate ( milk chocolate not pure 70% bitterness) ..and 4 people started to discuss how they just couldn’t eat it – they were juicing , detoxing , cleansing , only eating purple food , living off liquid smoothies , shakes , no carbs and various other non- enjoying eating pastimes.

Aside from the way this makes me feel on a personal level there is a more serious side to this which I view in my world as a Psychotherapist and my view as a mother to a number of young women.

I grow concerned about the number of people who set themselves up as food experts, all saying their way is best, when in fact they have no real qualification to do this – they have no knowledge of how to educate and work with, or in some cases importantly without, individuals who have medical conditions. I grow concerned by some of the messages available on social media that advise people that if they break away from this ‘ clean eating trend’ they have somehow failed themselves. These messages which drive impressionable people to focus solely on what they are told they shouldn’t be eating – not as a healthy balanced diet but because it is THE way to eat. Feeding literally into the eating disorders so many young adults can struggle with, linked with self esteem and body image challenges.

I also grow concerned by the scare tactics used by individuals who believe one way of eating is best and anyone who eats differently is helping in  the extortion and pain  of all animals or towards a ruined world. Grouping everyone together rather than again helping people make good balanced choices about where they source their food.

I love food – I love the social aspect of it and the sharing of it and it feels to me as though we are in a world where that is no longer really enjoyed. Rather that every ingredient is dissected and judged lest it not meet approval. Beware of the dinner party you cook for the list of what people will and will not eat could be mind boggling!.. and to be perhaps really controversial I don’t want the calories of every choice laid out for me in certain coffee shops – if I am buying cake and a milky coffee I am aware that it is not ‘slimming’.

So I guess what I am looking for is a way in which we can enjoy food again. We can choose what we eat and have a balanced and healthy approach with clear and consistent guidelines. Where we don’t have regular reminders from salt / sugar / protein police and people telling us over cooked potatoes could be toxic…  to find a way in which we can #justeatnormal again …..

 

 

 

What’s in a Label?

Labels – we love them! They define everything around us. They give context to things , stuff … and people!

I am fascinated by how people are defined by others but also by self through the label they wear – of course it’s not a visible label but it’s there non the less. You can often have many labels all at once,  your luggage covered like a well-travelled explorer of life.

The fascination comes from how simply these words can instantly create a change in how a person feels.

They can lift you up – head proud – this is me. They can dictate how you see your social circle, who you mix with , what objects you choose to covert in your life.  But what about when that changes and you get a label you never expected to have .. suddenly you see yourself in a different light – you are not the person you were and that changes everything around you as well..

Many of my clients have changed their lives and thus changed the label and it is almost always this piece which makes it so hard to move on.

Labels are totally linked to  our view of self-esteem.

For women more so than men we have a label for almost every event – it seems as though you blink and suddenly someone has come up and stuck a sticky label on you – that’s it – that’s you now – you are in that box!

I think about the labels I have had over the years .Although I have no issue with the label wife or mum, in fact I see these often as titles which I proudly bear, of course I cannot just be that. So we must define further – I was initially a ‘ young mum’ when I had my first daughter the age of 22. A label which seems to say – ‘perhaps not quite able to cope ? ‘

When I had my son 2 years ago I was a Geriatric mum, even though many women are now having children much later in life.You can imagine the looks and comments I gave to the staff around me at that time. But again a label which also said ‘ perhaps not quite able to cope ‘ but from a totally different view-point 😦

Then of course we must label further …

I have always been a working mum. It appears I could not be a full-time mum as I went to work and therefore I stopped being a mum a work and was only a mum on a part-time basis. On the flip side of  course mums who are full time in the home are not labelled as working because well – they just don’t ! ( yes I am saying this all tongue in cheek before people implode with rage)

I have been career girl , single parent , separated , divorced ,  second wife, mature student – all of which conjure up feelings in me of times in my life, but also honestly about whether I liked that label or not – and whether I liked it, was I guess, very much based on how society saw the wider group they associated with it.  Career girl was very high flying , always busy , juggling everything , single parent always felt a bit sad even though we were extremely happy and I really enjoyed that part of my life. separated felt unfinished and divorced was a label which some people almost whispered as if to say – on the shelf again. Second wife is a favourite. It doesn’t sound very permanent does it. As if you are just there for a bit until another one comes along and also brings up feelings sometimes of  not quite belonging in the family group.

Now I am a step mum – a label which brings images of dreadful relationships between child and adult ( when in fact we do alright – that is subject for another blog) and to be honest I am not even sure what the label means – because in actual fact I am not their mum. They have a mum – I am ,dare I say it ‘ Ali ‘. And there in is my point.

Throughout all of these labels I have been given and the roles I have undertaken – I have been Ali. Of course I have changed , grown and filtered during the years – that is life… But I look back and I see how I allowed the label to define me in many instances, when in fact I needed to define me by who I was. That is why when life changes and your label changes to something you don’t identify with it is so hard to pick up and move on. Add into the mix the fact we all love a diagnosis so you can now be anxious , stressed , depressed etc. and it’s no wonder people say to me – I am am not even sure who I am any more ? .

You need to remember that  you are still you .. you are all the things you were before as a being. Your routine may have changed , your physical tasks may be different .. but you are always there . When we take time to connect and be still we can just be. A wonderful coach talked to me recently about really owning who you are being. Owning who that person is that you are portraying.

Without going in the realms of darkness that is political society we are so keen to label people now adays so we can make a judgement that it seems a good place to say :

A label cannot ‘ make you feel’ anything unless you choose to let it do so.

A label should not define how we view ourselves or how we view others.

A label should be something you choose to have or not have ….

Sending much love out there from this business women / mum / step mum / second wife/ slightly frazzled psychotherapist!