Loss, Suicide and the Ugly parts of life.

Over the past week, many people have discovered the passing of Anthony Bourdain. Whilst I haven’t done the typical “RIP” post to facebook that everyone tends to do in these sadly increasing circumstances, this particular death has hit me pretty hard. It’s odd when a celebrity dies – you don’t know them at all but their faces are so familiar to you, you’ve heard them talk, sing, you’ve read about their lives. They’ve told stories in your living room for years.

Personally, I feel he was different to most so called “celebrities” – so raw, unapologetically human and flawed – with such a deep zest for life, travel, people and food. So many people identified with him, admired him and connected with him in some way. His realness made him relatable, and his struggles resonated. He made it ok for a lot of people.

But I have to talk a little about the elephant in the room. About mental illness, depression and the struggles that people go through in their hearts and minds every day.

In this age of social media, we’re more connected than ever, and lonelier than ever. This is a world where we compare ourselves and our happiness to the “highlight reel” that people project to the world through their online personas.

Its a world where we’re so afraid to really show ourselves, to appear less than happy, less than perfect. A world where everyone harps on about mental illness and daily struggles, but people are still afraid to admit it’s happening to them.

One thing I observe is that the people who decide to take their own lives are often deemed “happier than ever” by their friends a family… we forget: its when people are alone, with their thoughts and their fears – that they are the most vulnerable. When the mask is off, and the mental boxing gloves come on, and the battle rages once more in hearts and in minds. People are afraid to be alone with their own thoughts. 

Depression, anxiety and mental illness in general – it never goes away. Not really. So even if a person seems fine – it doesn’t mean they are without struggle, or they are ‘cured’.

In an increasingly vapid society, where looks and personas and “personal brand’ reign supreme – its more important than ever to occasionally consciously disconnect from anti-social social media, and reconnect with self. To step away from mental self-talk and ego, and into the present moment.

Living in the present moment, in the now, is so damn powerful. It allows us to connect, experience, relish and squeeze joy from our lives and experiences.. the ego is only thinking about the past or the future and it sucks our joy with false worry and fear.

When someone who seems to have all this figured out, who seems to thrive in the present – succumbs to fear, anxiety, depression – and ultimately takes their own life – we often think “shit, if they can’t see past this – how am I to get past this?”.. and we are sucked back into that fear pattern.

But comparison is ego – it’s mind talk, it takes away your power and your ability to find joy. If you catch yourself doing this, and having these thoughts – you have the power to stop them in their tracks just by acknowledging the fear, and not following the thoughts. It takes a lot of practice – but it’s a powerful tool.

I think a lot, and I often ponder what my “legacy” will be for the world.. ultimately we all want to make some kind of impact. We want to make sense of  the world, and our place in it. When we look to a man like Anthony Bourdain, and observe and understand the impact that he made in so many peoples lives  – it can be both overwhelming (comparison) or inspiring – depending on our lens of the world.

Personally, if I can make people think, feel, give them tools to help them make sense of their lives, craft writing/ string together words that resonate, maybe a feeling of being less alone than they thought – and ultimately if I have been kind, then thats is a pretty sweet legacy.

In the meantime – check on your strong friend. Don’t wait – don’t think about it and not do it – drop them a “been thinking about you – hope you’re doing ok ?”  message… you just might find you get the same response… and we’ll all be a little less lonely.

Healing and joy, odd combo huh?

One of the most healing things you can do for yourself is to be still. Put your feet up, or leave them bare and put them on the grass.. and just. be. still. 

Feel the sun in your face. Notice the breeze. Listen. Acknowledge your thoughts but don’t follow them. Breathe. 

Healing and the modern world seem so at odds.. healing takes time, stillness, patience and connection – all the things that contemporary life abjures.

We all want to feel amazing but there’s this enforced ideal that we should be able to attain this without effort, quickly and conveniently. 

We’re disconnected, disenfranchised, dissatisfied and discombobulated by our modern lives. 

No wonder people feel lost.

When I was 11 I had this life theory… (surprisingly astute for someone who had barely reached double digits… but I was always a little deliciously weird) I decided that when we are born onto this earth, each of us has a piece missing. My eleven year old brain saw that everyone tried to fill this missing part of us with different things… 

Some people wrote music, some people surfed, some drank a lot, others turned to god. 

The truely unhappy people, as I saw it, tried to fill themselves up with just one thing, thinking that this ONE THING would make them whole again. 

But whether you fill yourself up with Jesus, with booze or with buying things it won’t work – because this ONE BIG THING can’t fill all the little spaces in ourselves. 

The secret to life, I believed, was to find all the little things that make your heart sing, to keep searching for the joy – even in the dark places…. because that is what makes us whole.

11-year-old-me was onto something I believe. 

So as I heal… slowing down and reconnecting with stillness, breath and all the messages I’ve been too busy to hear.. I’m rediscovering all the little parts of life that bring me joy. 

And there’s so much to discover. 

Taking a break…

What a concept… for someone who took 5.5 years to take  ‘proper’ holiday (just because, rather than at Christmas) the concept of just stopping, literally not doing anything, or having anywhere to be, is just bizarre.

A few things I have noticed this week:

My phone isn’t important. OK, well to be honest, I had my phone in my handbag all weekend, on silent, and over the course of that time I ran out the battery, and couldn’t find the charger. And I didn’t even notice. I did have a few calls I needed to make, but I was so relaxed, so in the moment, enjoying my break and doing my thing that I forgot. And guess what? The world didn’t end.

I love reading. I guess I have mentioned this before, but the fact is I read 5 books over the weekend until now, and I am halfway through the 6th. Being transported into new worlds with every turn of the page is a kind of everyday magic. NB: The amount of books I have read may be a direct cause of completely forgetting my phone. 

I love feeling good. If I had tried to take some time out ten years ago, I would be spending my time doing VERY different things. (involving a large quantity of vino, no doubt) but this week has been made up of early nights and sleeping well (waking up without an alarm, letting my body tell me when I’m ready)  drinking a lot of herbal tea, yoga, Reiki, studying my herbalism course, and just generally doing awesome healthy stuff.

I’m not ready to commit to anything just yet. Symptomatic of 6 years in one place no doubt, but after one week of no commitments, I’ve realised that this is exactly what I need to be doing in this present moment. I’m doing exactly what I need to get myself wherever the heck I am going to end up. For a super-organised, methodical, slightly OCD (or rather OCT as my workmates told me!) this is a strange concept – and part of letting go, and being in the moment.

I am excited. And some days I’m not really sure what I am excited about – but I have laughter bubbling away just below the surface, a smile never far from my face, and a renewed sense of appreciation for the life I am living. I sat in the sun the other day, engrossed in my book, and a sun-shower passed by – somewhere along the line I’d just forgotten the feel of raindrops caressing my skin, and I felt so blessed in that moment that I could just stop and experience this.

 

So as I round out the week, I’m left with a feeling of profound gratitude, and the realisation that I am living what I have been coaching people all these many years: we control our destiny. We have the wonderful ability to choose – to make decisions about our life every single day.

 

A beautiful mindset…

What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been… work days are so full of tidying up/ organising that all I want to do at the end of each day (or week) is disappear from the world and hibernate… it may have something to do with the temperature, but it has everything to do with winding up at work! I’m looking forward to my first ‘down time’ in 6 years and have grand plans of doing wonderful things for a couple of weeks that I don’t normally get to do (yoga classes during the day, pottering around the art gallery and long walks to name a few) before I start a new adventure…

In the past couple of weeks it feels like everyone on social media seems to be jumping on the positivity bandwagon, and it’s a glorious thing.. long may it continue… I’ve been a firm believer for some time that what you focus on becomes your reality, so it’s just wonderful to see people being conscious of the power of their thought.

I have also been reminded that even if you are feeling incredibly positive and excited about a big event, your body will certainly let you know there’s a bit of stress with that process as well.. it’s all very well trudging along with a smile on your face, but during times of upheaval its more important than ever to listen to your body.. (which is probably part of the reason I have tended towards hibernation of late) and realise that little things like meditation, rest, exercise and good healthy eating become more important than ever.

I love this quote and this way of thinking – when I wake up each morning this way of approaching life gets me focussed in the right direction to face the day..

 

BUSY

#stop #breathe #be ….sometimes we’re so busy BEING BUSY we don’t even realise how completely out of touch we’ve become.

  • When was the last time you did something for yourself, just because?

On my change journey, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned was that I was so caught up in the DOING, I’d forgotten how to simply BE. There is a delicious sense of calm when you finally realise that you don’t have to be stuck in the pattern of being constantly busy.

When you learn to let things go, living and experiencing your life as it is occurring – rather than worrying about the past or trying to pre-empt the future – you get so much joy. Only when we STOP can we finally appreciate how lucky we are in the present moment.

 

Breathe

Today I decided I was going to be happy.

Infact that’s a decision I make every day, and it’s one of the most empowering realisations of my adult life: You choose happiness.

Happiness isn’t about having a big house, flash car, or your bangin’ bod dripping with diamonds, it’s about being present in your own life and being thankful for the many blessings you already have.

So this morning, as I rocked around my kitchen in my unicorn pjs, I chose my first song of the day as Pharrells “happy” and made a delicious brunch:

Mini bagels with wilted spinach, a hollandaise/cream cheese hybrid, scrambled eggs, and fresh spring onion.. Served with lavazza coffee and grapefruit juice…..

Because I’m HAPPY.

 

Sound-bites from Mr Brand

Love this clip – Russell Brand has been speaking publicly about meditation and spirituality in the past couple of months, and I really like what he has to say.. it resonates with my Reiki Journey. He still manages to have the humour in there but he’s saying some pretty powerful stuff.

‘We are by our nature, spiritual people, if we don’t have access to spirituality, we suffer as individuals, and society suffers… within ourselves there’s an infinite capacity for connection with all things”

Interested to hear more, and I’m loving how much those around me are sharing these types of clips and talking about this.

Link to clip here.

 

I love this chap…

And this is a wonderful rant! Talks a lot about the ego… how people are too focussed on themselves.. which makes them BORING. Wholeheartedly agree, look outside, pay attention to other people. You’ll learn, experience new things, move forward. Caution: long, circa 30 minutes, but he does have a lovely voice 🙂

He also touches on travel and reading, and a practise where people read a book, and write their name and message in it, and leave it in a public place for others to find and enjoy. I remember doing this in my travels in 2007 and it was such an amazing thing… it felt so good to be able to share the joy of a great book with others. Most of the books I read these days are e-books so I can’t do this, and I miss it.

 

EDIT: Had the absolute pleasure of seeing Stephen Fry in his ‘telling tales’ one man show at the Civic in Auckland. If you ever get a chance to see him live, go GO! You won’t regret it.