Just a note to say, have a very lovely merry Xmas!
Lots of love,
Just a note to say, have a very lovely merry Xmas!
Lots of love,
The other day my husband and I were collapsing on the sofa after a pleasant, but rather intensive family afternoon, ending with two out of three children having simultaneous tantrums in the back of the car as we drove home (that was NOT the fun part).
It was late. Our youngest child, who had not settled in her bed, was asleep on my knee. There was wine. There was cheese. There was crap TV. All ingredients we enjoy together when we are tired out.
Unfortunately, there was also a bit of a mood going on.
I was brooding and feeling bruised after a succession of encounters with my children’s runaway emotions over the course of the week. I should have seen that coming. I should have pre-empted their meltdowns. I shouldn’t have cared what people thought when they saw my children yelling in rage. Even when you know it is all just thought, sometimes the ‘shoulds’ pop up and hit you in the face.
I asked my husband to go and get me some crackers to go with the cheese. He got up and fetched me two, then sat down. We ate. More cheese was cut. I asked him to get up and get me another cracker, as I didn’t want to dislodge and wake our daughter.
“No! Can’t you just eat the cheese?” (exasperated look).
Sighs. Gets up. Brings back box of crackers.
What a bastard.
Well, that was my tired, wired, already annoyed assessment in that moment. Why should he not go and fetch whatever I desired. After all, I had made two meals that day. I had baked muffins. I had bathed the kids. Why could this man, who professed to love me until death do us part, not get me another cracker?
I guess he would tell the story in a different way. He would explain how tired he felt. How he was wound up with thinking about making the house nice for his family arriving the next day. How he was wondering about how on earth he was going to get his work done in time for Christmas. How he felt like a lousy parent for getting upset when the kids were having their moments of anguish. He felt angry with himself. Angry with life. Troubled and anxious. And on top of that, his wife was being really awkward about crackers.
So, on balance, he was feeling kind of angry with me too.
And let’s not forget that he went and got me the damn crackers.
It was not an argument. It was not a big thing. It was just a conversation about a cracker.
It was a moment where we were each wrapped up in our thoughts, feeling the difficult thinking coiled around us. We could not see one another clearly. We could not see beyond our personal thunderclouds.
To each of us, it looked like the other was responsible for the ill feelings being experienced. We saw a lack of help. A refusal to hold out a supporting hand and pull us up again. We could not see in that moment, that it is not other people who pull us out of our moods. It is our moods that pull us away from people.
Now, I can tell the story again.
My husband and I were tired and in low states of mind.
We got grumpy with one another about crackers.
Except, it wasn’t about the crackers. It wasn’t even about each other.
It was about a bit of thinking in the moment that was getting us in trouble.
We love each other really.
Amazing how, even with a lot of thought-spotting practice, thinking pops up in the moment and fools you. Tricks you into believing all kinds of things.
So, this video, that I am now getting to, is all about why that should be. This video is all about why it is not about you, when you see a partner, child, family member, random person, who is suffering and acting a bit less nice than you might hope. It is not about you, when someone gets all grinch faced. Nor is it up to you to fix their mood. Be compassionate, stay calm, and let nature get to it. Or get pissed off, but know that it is not really about them either.
Above all, don’t go crackers.
I have some amazing resources to share with you about relationships during Christmas and those moments of mutual anguish:
Jill Whalen just wrote this lovely post about getting on with others and how we suffer through our thinking about it;
This is a wonderful interview with the psychologist Dr Amy Johnson. If you have never played Dysfunctional Family Bingo, this might be the perfect time start, and enjoy a lighter experience of your people’s foibles.
This is a video of Elsie Spittle talking to Ankush Jain about what happens to difficult relationships when you find a better feeling to come from.
How are you feeling today?
Thank you for letting me share this story with you, because it is an awesome way to bring yourself back to the better ways of telling our stories!
Click on the link and come tell me your story in the Mamajestic Facebook Group. I am mighty curious to hear about your own Christmas Crackers.
Lots of love,
I thought about re-recording this video, because I looked at it and thought, now that is an unflattering angle, I sound out of breath, and it is not how I like to appear in ideal circumstances! Then I decided it was perfect for this post, this message, and this day. Imperfections are allowable, natural, and a healthy part of life. By being truly present with what is, including our imperfections and mistakes, then we can use our substantial human gifts to express what is in our hearts. In doing this, we can let our lights shine that bit brighter.
Keeping it short and sweet today:)
Here is a lovely video from Brene Brown on Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones That Count.
How do you choose to express your heart this Christmas?
What imperfections can you allow to be in your life, in your self?
Come join us in all our imperfect glory in the Mamajestic Facebook Group
or do me a kindness and come like the Mamajestic Page!
Lots of love,
On the sixth day of Christmas, Alexis said to me…
We are presences,
Studies have shown that, contrary to popular belief, leopards not only change their spots, but their spots grow and develop with them. Most likely what they wear is a product of evolution, environment, and age.
In much the same way, we change throughout our lives, as do the outfits we dress up in. While small children like to play doctors, or mummies and daddies, we guise ourselves in all kinds of ways as we mature. This applies to the ways that we alter our appearance according to the social role we are engaged in, and also how we adopt particular behaviours for that role. Some of these guises spring from our natural dispositions, and others from our beliefs and desires.
In this video, I talk about what we truly are, beyond whatever we are dressed up as, at a given moment.
Taking on the role of ‘mother’ is a big adjustment to make. There are the natural physiological changes of pregnancy, birth, and mothering, brought about by our biology, but also the psychological shifts which we undergo due to changes in our thinking, which occur for both biological and social reasons. Our priorities, identities, and beliefs may get thrown into sharp contrast compared to the ‘before time’ (as my husband and I refer to our lives before parenthood).
There are many more roles we might play in our lives, daughter, friend, wife, cousin, mortal enemy, responsible employee, customer, entrepreneur, hostess, teacher, learner, activist, feminist, spiritualist, to name but a few. In any situation, we have a schematic idea of who we should be, a ready label, a blue print.
Some roles, we play with a passion, others with analytic intensity, others we accept only with reluctance, some we perform without really thinking about it, some are exciting, some are habit, some are disagreeable, some are pleasurable. In fact, some roles are all these things, because the ‘job description’ of what it means to be anything, and how we feel about it, is always changing in our minds.
When we look at the people around us, it is easy to see one another as fixed points or snap shots rather than a fluid changing being. We characterise people in our minds’ eyes, attaching particular labels to them, then we confuse these labels with the living, breathing presence which we interact with. We do this to ourselves too.
No matter what we think we are in a given moment, where our focus is, all we can be is a presence. We shift, we change, and we are capable only of responding to what is in our thoughts in a given moment, which does not stay the same. Though we might exhibit mental habits and attendant behaviours, this is not who we are, because we can break or outgrow habits, yet somehow remain ourselves.
We are presences. We are not personalities.
We can and do change our spots with regularity.
What’s more, given our innate wellbeing and happiness, we are disposed to being loving presences. Even when we do not see or feel this love in our idea of who we are, or who someone else is, in that particular moment.
After all, think of who we were when we were babies, new to the world. Our minds were completely different then, and have undergone so much change since then, but still we can recognise ourselves as the same individual. We are a different expression of presence in every respect, and yet we are the same person.
The more we allow our idea of who we should be to shift and change, then the more we can be in tune with the rhythm of our own presence, rather than slaves to our personality or our roles.
What kind of presence are you right now?
What personality traits would you like to be freed from?
A big thank you to all of you with me on this Christmas Presence journey, and especially it is great to see some of these posts being shared around.
Lots of love,
Throughout the series so far, I have focussed on how presence takes us towards our innate happiness, how it grounds us and gives us a sense of mental clarity. In the first video in the series, I talked about how we have incredible innate gifts which are handed to us by evolution, like innate happiness and common sense. In the subsequent videos, I talked about how we create our experiences through thought, and how our awareness of our natural happiness and mental health comes and goes. I talked about the role of techniques in becoming more present, and thus, more in touch with your innate happiness.
In this video, I want to go a step further and talk about innate wellbeing is always present, regardless of circumstances, and whether we can feel it in the moment. Life doesn’t always look how we think it ‘should’, and perhaps this Christmas you are struggling with difficult circumstances, or a niggling sense that everything is OK in a basic way, but still feels very thorny and problematic. Here, I want to talk about large and small heartaches, and moving beyond them.
I know that there have been certain times in my life when, if someone had said, you know it is all OK, I would have sought something that I could staple their head to, or some such. I also know that the world is full of difficult circumstances and hardship, which I can not begin to imagine, like the reality faced every day by Syrian refugees, who have lost so much, or the families and friends grieving for loved ones killed in the Paris attacks.
What I can see though, is that human beings possess such incredible resilience, and some experience their wellbeing more than others, regardless of where they are or what is happening. From any disaster or tragedy come stories of bravery, compassion, heroism, and most of all, love. To me, this is evidence of innate wellbeing, shining through. These people are not extraordinary in that they have a different psychological make up to anyone else. They are extraordinary in the way they sense how to use the natural, ordinary, mental apparatus which we all possess.
By understanding the nature of our innate wellbeing, we are more able to see it, feel it, and respond to our lives from it.
In the video I talked about the big and small things in life that we suffer over, so I have two links for you today, one for each kind of event…
I want to share this beautiful story of hope, written by Tammy Furey, about her experience of losing her baby son.
I also want to share this parenting story, where George Halfin watches and offers loving compassion to her son, as he navigates one of life’s bumpy moments.
Can you sense your innate health? How has it shown up in your life? In your family’s lives?
What are you going through right now? Would you like to talk about it?
Come join the Mamajestic Facebook Group and get supported by our gorgeous bunch of mums, with a huge range of experience between them 🙂
As always…lots and lots of love,
In the first three videos, I talked about how our evolution gave us incredible natural capacities, that we experience everything via our thoughts, and that we have our light on a range of settings from brighter to dimmer at any given moment, and this affects what we are aware of.
All of these factors help to understand presence in the moment and what takes us towards or away from it.
That is all very well, you might be thinking: Accepting that it is through presence that we are in touch with our natural gifts, do our best thinking, and experience higher levels of consciousness, then WHAT DO I DO TO BE MORE PRESENT?
Well, this may be good or bad news…
There is nothing to do.
That is, there is no one size fits all, all purpose technique that will make you present.
However, you are in a fantastic position to observe when you are most present. When do you fall into presence? When do you tend to get caught up in thoughts? When do you feel most at peace?
Because we experience everything through thought, then it is our thoughts rather than our circumstances which take us into (or away from) presence. This is why there is no technique that works one way for everyone, no situation you can contrive to work 100 per cent of the time. We all think in different ways, and at different moments, so returning to presence depends on what is happening in our minds, which is always changing. That means that being awake to what occurs to you in a particular moment will be the best way to see your path to presence.
However, that is not to say that what is helpful for one person might not be helpful for another. You have to be the judge of what is helpful for you, and what is most appropriate to what you are experiencing.
In this video, I talk about what I have found helpful in my own everyday explorations of presence. You might be surprised at how simple and straightforward presence can be.
I just want to add that I talk about getting sleep in the video, and I know that can be tricky for pregnant ladies and mums with babies and/or frequent night-wakers. I myself am mother to a two year old who wakes often, sometimes to breastfeed, sometimes to snuggle, so I feel your pain. Believe me. However, I do notice that presence helps a great deal in how rested I feel on a smaller amount of sleep than I would ideally like, or when I want to go to sleep, but have an eager toddler clambering on top of me muttering ‘bbbbbeeeaaaadddd’ (breast).
While in the video I am describing some practical ways I became more present, I would like to describe how my thinking changed as I began to slow down and realise the possibility of being more present and what that could offer my experience:
I began by noticing my thinking. I started to see when my mind was really busy and moving very fast, and when it was slow. I had always believed that being able to do lots of thinking was good, so not adding extra thought to my mind on purpose was quite a big change for me, and I found that it did help me feel calmer. I needed to clarify that it was indeed good for me to do this, but once I saw that I had a better experience and was more productive as a result, I continued with the experiment.
Another thing was that I began to notice how much time I spent imagining things, like how I wanted my life to look once I had sorted everything out to my liking. Catching myself doing this, and instead looking at enjoying the experiences I was actually having made a big difference to my sense of wellbeing.
Then, as I slowed down a bit, I began to see the value more in everyday experiences which I found an annoying responsibility, like getting the washing up done, or driving in and out of town. I began to see these as intervals where I could let my mind relax and quiet down. It was seeing the value in these experiences that allowed me to do this.
I also began taking pressure off myself to perform lots of tasks when in a low state of consciousness, and knew that at these moments the best thing I could do was as little as possible. Though rarely did this mean actually doing nothing, it meant focussing on a minimum of essential tasks.
Another thing, was experimenting with dropping thoughts about everything that needed to be done, even just for a moment, in order to enjoy a quiet moment of connection cuddling a child or watching them play at the park. Again, with the confidence that if I let my mind quiet down during these times, then I would be able to get whatever needed doing done in a much more equable manner.
What naturally followed from that was dropping things that I thought I had to do, because I was more in step with what I wanted to achieve and what I could achieve in a sane way.
This occurred over a couple of months, as I had a series of insights about the inside-out nature of experience, that experience happens through thought, natural resources, and consciousness.
Here are some helpful links…
This is a great podcast with Lian Brooke Tyler and Jacquie Forde, where you can hear a lovely take on getting more present for Christmas.
An oldie from the Positivity Blog. Certainly a few practical shortcuts to presence:)
The most important thing is not to beat yourself up when you realise you have not been present, but to be grateful that you are when you are:)
What helps you get present?
I would love to hear about your experiences.
Feel free to share any of these posts. Spread the Christmas Presence. The more, the merrier!
Lots of love,