All The World’s a Stage….

I gave myself a talking to at the weekend. It was a beautifully warm, sunny weekend, I had my family around me, we had a weekend of relaxation and fun planned, yet I was full of anxiety.  It is an anxiety that runs deep, I am well aware of it and it’s effect it has on me and I’m working very hard to keep it in check but, especially when I am tired and/or hormonal, it rears it’s head. What is it? Well it is a fear I have of not fitting in, not wearing the right clothes, being over/under dressed, not looking the part (although I don’t know what part I’m trying to play). I feel like for the majority of my life I have been playing a part in a drama that only I know is going on, what costume do I need to wear to fit in with that group? How do I need to talk to be in this group? How do I need to act to be make people believe that I belong?

Why I do this is the bigger and more scary question. As I have mentioned before I was a massive people pleaser, still am sometimes, old habits etc etc. So I found myself going back to old ways of thinking, there is many times I have said about myself that I have no style and that I can make even the most expensive clothes look like burlap sacks (although thinking about it it’s probably my worried, anxious, unhappy face that people notice first), and here I was doing it again, ‘people will look at me in my yoga gear and judge me’, ‘how does someone going on this type of holiday act?’, I am absolutely certain that I would make a great method actor as I have been getting into character for the best part of 35 years.

The thing is that now I know I am doing it, I recognise it almost straight away and can put my mind at work asking myself questions (silently, although not always, especially when I get into a heated debate with myself), ‘What if they do judge, it’s got nothing to do with me what they think, their thoughts are their own.’, ‘Are you comfortable and happy? Well then what does it matter?’, ‘Happy people do whatever they want on holiday’, ‘A smile and happy disposition will make you look wonderful, even if you are wearing a burlap sack’,  talking to done I was able to relax not giving a second thought to what others may or may not be saying, I’d stepped off the stage and was back to me.

The point is our mind likes to think, question, comment and generally critique it’s way through our lives, and for the majority of the time this is useful, but it is up to us how much and what we listen to. Knowing when to tell our minds enough is a great skill and knowing how to be compassionate and forgiving of ourselves is the way to a healthy mind. Shakespeare may think that all the world is a stage, but we need to find balance, reconnect with who we are and be true to ourselves, it’s time to stop acting and start being.

So my friends, find who you are, do that thing you’ve always wanted to do just for yourself, don’t worry about what others think, and just be you. I promise I will too xx

Until next time

Ang

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How Old Do You Feel?

Does anyone under the age of 30 spring out of bed? I’m just curious as when I get out of bed on a morning the movement to the bathroom resembles the shuffling gait of someone twice my age, but on my return, once my joints have realised that I am up and moving, I’m good to go, yoga ready I can twist into all sorts of positions, but during that initial small window of time I feel old.

This got me thinking about age and how much it is on everybody’s minds. We can’t wait for our babies milestones, first tooth, first words, put that with the endless disturbed nights and we can’t wait for the first year to pass. Then first day at school, first day at big school, first kiss, first drink, first hangover (normally happen roughly 8 hours apart those two), first house, first marriage, first job. Our young lives are marked with a myriad of wonderful firsts that we can’t wait to happen, they can’t and don’t happen quick enough so waiting for them seems like a lifetime.

That’s why time moves faster when we are older, we have fewer firsts, we wait 10 years in between milestone birthdays, for some that is still not long enough, but they come around quicker every time.

As the saying goes we are only as old as we feel, we can have cosmetic surgery and a whole raft of anti-ageing potions but this will only fix what is on the outside, it can’t make our body slow down the ageing process, unless the potion you have come across is from the fountain of youth. Would you believe me if I told you that there is a way of slowing down the ageing process and produce surgery-free enhancements to your face, and that it is available to everyone?

What is this black magic then? Well it’s just the thousand year old practice of meditation of course. Studies are starting to show that just 15 minutes a day of meditation can help protect our chromosomes against ageing, small science bit here, those who meditate increase telomerase activity, which repairs telomeres (imagine plastic bits on the end of shoelaces) allowing cells to continue to replicate thereby slowing the ageing process.

Apart from that wonderful news, meditating on loving kindness, where you imagine sending love to others, can increase the levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) and reduce cortisol levels(the stress hormone). Meditators usually have a more positive outlook and this helps to maintain engagement and interest in life. Keeping this young and curious outlook on life also reduces the effects of stress on the skin, so if meditation helps to fight the wrinkles why not give it a go. There are so many forms of meditation that there will be one to suit you, just don’t give up on trying to find it.

My own daily practice is helping to smooth out the lines on my forehead that could only previously be described as pug-like, and to unravel the knitted brow that many years of stress and anxiety had, I previously thought, permanently etched on me like a cruel tattoo.

So challenge me to find a meditation type to suit you that you can take into your everyday life, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Take care of yourself friends

Ang xx

PS new website will be coming soon, so excited, I hope you will all like it.

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Bit of a Wobble

Hello my friends. I have thought long and hard about whether or not I should post this blog, part of me thinks that putting this out there will make me seem less credible, more vulnerable, another part thinks that I absolutely must share this with you as it will help to see that I am human and sometimes things just aren’t ok but I now have the tools to deal with it. So this is what happened.

Last week was tough, I was spreading myself way too thin, I had meetings every day, making decisions about my business, my life, my family, my job. If I’d only just recognised the signs earlier, I was trying hard to be a successful business woman, but feeling like a fraud, trying to fit everyone and everything in so that I could please everybody (but not as it happened, me). As the week went on I found myself looking in the mirror and criticising how I looked, the black dog was looking over my shoulder making me feel unworthy of everything in my life. On Thursday I cried, I cried hard, long and uncontrollably, my family rallied, my husband calmed me down, my daughter was nice(best I could hope for) I went to my yoga class and sat in childs pose with my forehead on the mat for a long time. How was I supposed to teach anyone about stress management if I’m a blubbering pile of mess??

Well I’ll tell you how and why this makes me qualified to teach meditation. I got up, I got up off the mat, thought about what part of my life was not serving me, did I have a toxic relationship with anything? Where did I feel that I had the least amount of control? And I made changes, the relief was immediate, within 24 hours I was back to my positive self. Meditation has made me stronger, more able to cope with the bumps in the road, more able to right my wagon when a wheel falls off and any other metaphor, cheesy or otherwise you can think of. Meditation isn’t about not thinking, sometimes, with practice, it can give you clarity and help you develop emotional intelligence to recognise a need for, and make, a change. I got up, I made changes, I chased the dog away for now.

Meditation is only part of my coping tool kit, I have yoga, running, my family, my blog. Make up your own tool kit make it as glittery or as functional as you need, but carry it with you at all times because we all wobble, we just can’t let ourselves be kept down.

At the end of the day, as Gary Barlow said “You’ve gotta be strong enough to walk on through the night, there’s a new day on the other side, you’ve gotta have hope in your soul and keep on walkin'”

Until next week

Ang x

 

 

 

‘I Need A Hero…

….I’m holding out for a hero til the end of the night, He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight’ I thought about recording me singing this and putting it on here but nobody wants that, nobody except me that is (I admit it I’m a karaoke addict)

Anyway, before I was side-tracked, Bonnie needed a hero, a man no less (how outdated) I say No Bonnie, you do not need to search for a hero, man, woman, or otherwise, it’s time we all became our own hero. We spend a lot of our life waiting, waiting for someone to come along and make our lives better, someone who will offer us that dream job, someone who will come into our lives and make us happy, continuously searching for that something better, yet somehow, despite us being very deserving, it never happens.

What would a hero do? Would they sit at home and say ‘if they want rescuing then they will find me, I’ll just sit here until they do, watching Britain’s Got Talent’ or would they be out there every night looking and searching knowing that they will be there if anything happens, ok the ability to fly and super-speed helps but we are human so we have to think of other ways to be a hero.

Now I’m not suggesting tights, capes and the full get up, we can be our own hero by helping ourselves and not waiting for someone else to give us the life we want. The searching question is what do you want? I wanted to run my own business as a meditation and yoga teacher, but for months I had let my mind talk me out of giving 100% to the goal, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘People just aren’t going to turn up and you will look a fool’ each thought gaining momentum until I almost took a full time job, knowing full well that would have been the end of my dream.

That was my moment, the moment I had a good talk to my mind, said ‘hey now, you don’t know that and if you fail first time you will learn, you will grow, you will get better, now get out there and do the work, it’s not going to do it itself’. I took small steps at first, did some research, approached local shops, e-mailed anyone I could think of to offer taster sessions to to get valuable feedback. I’m not going to lie, it properly pushed me out of my comfort zone, but that’s good , I was doing something that scared me and excited me, for the first time in years a fire had been lit in my belly and it felt great. I gained my own momentum and found that the more I got out there the more I knew I was living the life I wanted, and it was down to my hero…me.

Well my lovely friends, what do you want to do? Whatever it is, big or small, find out what’s stopping you, is it your mind? you don’t know where to start?(the internet is a new thing that is great for research ;0)) it seems too big a task? I’m sacred. What about money? What about my commitments? I can’t. I haven’t got time.

Break your big task into smaller steps, celebrate the little wins, don’t allow yourself to dwell on your negative thoughts, stay true to yourself and show yourself some compassion. You are your own hero and you are the one who can make change happen.

Good luck my friends, and for all those Marvel fans out there. Avengers Assemble!

Ang xx

 

Hidden Meanings

I have just returned from an enjoyable weekend in Glasgow at the OM Yoga show, and, in the spirit of surrendering myself to new experiences I have tried Qi Massage, Hot Yoga and had a palm and tarot reading. Now the palm and tarot reading I assure you is not something that I would normally do but I thought ‘Hey, why not’ when in Rome etc…

I was on my own so approached the lady with some caution and trepidation, she talked very fast asked me my name and date of birth then said £10 please, handing over the tenner I was then shuffled, convey belt like, onto a man who told me to shuffle the cards, pick 7 and then passed me down the line to a very bored looking girl who got me to put my hand on a scanner while she finished devouring her danish pastry (I can only assume they had been so busy she had not had chance to eat, poor wee lamb). There had been no human interaction for this and rather than be irritated I was highly amused and couldn’t help giggling which irritated bored girl with the danish pastry. I waited a couple of minutes then was handed a wad of printout paper that I haven’t seen the likes of since the 90’s. I shoved it in my bag and thought well that was a tenner well spent!!

After wandering around the show for an hour I decided that I would sit down and review my purchases, pulling out the printout I thought I may as well see what I wasted my money on. As I read I began to realise that this was a fairly accurate, if computer generated, portrait of me and where I am and want to be in my life, it shocked me a little to be honest and made me a little emotional . However rational me kicked in and argued that as it’s a computer program there are only so many variables that it can produce and the likelihood of someone else getting the same reading is high. However it still felt insightful, leading me to the conclusion that you can present anyone with a scenario and they will find and take away the hidden meanings that call to them. Give them a 90’s printout and they will connect with the things that mean the most, carefully air-brushing the things out that don’t, using it as an affirmation that they are doing the right thing.

Now I am not dismissing the power of hidden meanings and signs, quite the contrary, I even find hidden meanings in Disney films(Let it Go is my fight song, Inside Out has taught me that we need Sadness in our life to appreciate Joy). We, as humans, want to know that the scary decisions in life, and difficult times will pay off or we will just curl into a ball until it all goes away, that is who we are. So many of us miss opportunities to know what it feels like to be alive because we are afraid of what we don’t know,  what will happen or are scared of the outcome, but if you need a sign you will find it, if you want affirmations you will find them. Regardless if it is Faith, mysticism or Disney, if that is what you need to overcome the fear and go for it, grab those hidden meanings and fly.

PS Good luck my friends you will get what you need this week.

All my love

Angela

 

Why I Meditate and Why You Should Too.

If I asked you what type of person meditates what would you say? Someone who sits on the floor chanting? a new age hippy who wants to reach enlightenment? a Buddhist Monk? Whilst this may be true, the chances are that the average person who meditates looks just like you and me, someone with a busy life and all the stresses that go with it.

 

Now, if I asked you why they meditated, what might you say? “I don’t know”, “They want to clear their minds”,”They have nothing better to do”? Again, maybe, but let me answer by telling you why I started to meditate. During the time spent with my Black Dog (by now it had grown to the size of a Grizzly bear and insisted on being carried around at all times), I had a whirlwind of thoughts going through my mind, all self-critical, all ultra important, all damaging. I didn’t know how to help myself or how I could stop myself thinking of all the things in the past that I could have done differently, or fearing what the future would hold for me, in essence I wasn’t living as I let the present go by unnoticed.

I’d read that yoga was good for stress and depression, so I managed to carry my Black Dog to a class. There I was introduced to guided relaxation and when I left the class the dog was a little lighter, so I attended a meditation class run by my yoga teacher. I learned that meditation was not about clearing my mind, that would never happen we are human and need to think, but it was about acknowledging my thoughts and letting them pass through whilst noticing and observing my breath, being in the present. After a few sessions I was able to walk the dog out on a lead, it was like I had taken my depression to doggie obedience classes.

So why should you meditate? Life is full of stresses and demands and sometimes we can feel overwhelmed and under huge amounts of pressure, but did you know that this is not just a thought that we can “get over”, it is real, when we are stressed we release chemicals into our brain that prepares us to fight or flight, blood flow is diverted from the brain to the muscles, blood pressure goes up, heart rate increases and if stress levels are elevated over a sustained period of time it can cause stress related illnesses.

All grim news and anyone who is stressed now feels ten times worse, thanks Ang I hear you say, but good news, meditation has been proven to reduce the symptoms of stress. Just as little as 5 minutes a day can have the opposite effect to the fight or flight response, releasing “feel good” chemicals into the brain and helping us to relax.

Don’t believe me? Give it a go, there are many ways you can fit meditation and mindfulness into your day. When things were particularly stressful for me at work I would get to the car park 5 minutes early, turn the engine off and sit quietly with my eyes closed and take a few deep breaths, then return my breathing to a normal rate and count my breaths backwards from 20 to 1, acknowledging any thoughts and returning to count the breath. I would feel calmer and ready for the day rather than starting the day with elevated stress levels after driving to work. You can try this anywhere, if you are doing the washing up relax your shoulders and count your breaths. In the shower, notice how the water feels, the temperature of the water, the smell of the shower gel or shampoo, anything that helps you to be in the present moment.

The important thing to remember is that you give it a go, if you feel the benefits straight away then great, if not don’t worry and don’t give up. It’s called a meditation practice for a reason, your brain is a muscle and the more you train it the stronger it gets.

Your life is yours to live, it is your choice how.

Bye for now friends and enjoy the Easter holidays, see you in two weeks x

Angela

 

 

 

On the Market

A thought struck me, as I lay there wide awake last night, that trying to find a job is about as soul-destroying, and self-esteem damaging as any thing I’ve encountered before. I even have dreams about being in a ‘Take Me Out’ situation, with Paddy bringing me down the lift to face potential employers, and then I’m asked to do a list of ridiculous things whilst they watch on with their hands over the buttons, ‘No likey, no lighty’. I wake up in a cold sweat shouting ‘But why? I’m really nice in real life’.

Then it occurred to me that I am trying to play a game with an outdated set of rules. I imagine it would be like getting a divorce and jumping into dating again after 21 years with the same person, suddenly thrust into a world of Tinder and Happn uploading profiles and trying to get that selfie that doesn’t make you look like you are a) desperate, b) technologically challenged, or c) a serial killer/stalker. A world where it’s not enough that you can rely on going out with friends to find ‘The’ one or at best even ‘Any’ one who is like-minded and available.

Apparently the job market is the same. A friend and I went on a one day event for people who had been made redundant to discover how to deal with the outside world after so long in the darkness (I’m sure it had a more catchy and fancy title) and I was shocked and just a wee bit scared at how things had changed. When I first started looking for jobs, many years ago,  you had to wait for the weekly paper with the jobs section and then send your paper CV to them with a covering letter (remember there was no internet), and if you were feeling very brave you could go around companies and hand your CV in yourself.

Not now, God forbid you would leave it that late, apparently by the time a job gets to external recruitment it’s already likely to have been given to the bosses’ dog walker’s niece who was looking for a job before it even existed!! 80% of the job market is hidden so networking, uploading profiles and CV’s are necessary (my friend and I felt like we were being judged because we didn’t have a LinkedIn profile, “What you don’t have one? How on earth will people know how much you really rate yourself?”). To be honest it’s totally exhausting and every rejection feels like a personal insult.

That was until this morning. As I mentioned last week, when you are feeling low anything can knock you back into old habits, I have been allowing my body and mind to be possessed by the ghost of the old me, I didn’t really notice as she looks an awful lot like me, just more tired and incredibly miserable. But this morning, during meditation, I understood who had been the controlling force lately, so I pictured the old me, thanked her for getting me this far in life without picking up too much damage, and told her that she can move on as I’m ready to let the new, stronger me take control.

So here I am, ready to meet Paddy and nobody is going to turn their lights out for me, If I don’t like them I’ll go over and turn them out myself, my life will depend on the choices I make, not the ones that are made for me.

You are the sum of the choices you make in life my friends, make the ones that are right for you.

Angela