Let go or be dragged

Zen proverb

Have you ever seen in a film the scene set looking down on a busy highway or city at night…red dots following like ants in one direction, white dots in the other. Everything looks so ordered and controlled. Yet inside each vehicle the people have different reasons for being there – returning home from work, vacation, running an errand, going out for food or entertainment.

As humans we are fantastic at creating routines for ourselves, maintaining friendships…much like a hamster wheel we keep turning, not always happy and not always sad. In many aspects of our collective existence we seem to have order, on the surface at least. Cars pause when pedestrians stand near Zebra crossings, people wait in queues for a variety of things from coffees to theme park rides, slowly shuffling forward until it’s our turn to be served. Systems often keep the collective safe and prevent anarchy, like most things there is also the other side (let’s all recollect the 2020 toilet roll saga when grown ups proved they couldn’t share)

Within our daily routines we often feel so safe in the comfort of ‘what we do’ we can often forget to question why we do it. Even at weekends my body clock wakes me at the same time my alarm goes off in the week. Most weeks pass similar to the ones before and that’s completely ok if you’re happy and content with life. I often think holidays are powerful when they throw you out of your routine; time zones confuse the body clocks sleep pattern, a new diet is offered, a new environment is there to be explored or perhaps a sun lounger calls you to be still, unlike your usual hectic working week.

For my own well-being I have several ‘New year’ opportunities each year. Times of year where I take time to reassess what’s serving me, what do I need to prioritise and what do I want to achieve. They often occur during ‘new beginnings’ such as the start of Spring, a new academic year (always celebrated with a new luxurious paper diary) and the classic NYE. Of course, we can decided that today is a new beginning and don’t need to wait on changing seasons to make adjustments. Time to let go of what no longer serves us (too many take aways, not enough exercise, too much work and not enough play) allows us to each fill our cup up so that we can be the best version of ourselves. Sometimes it can be small adjustments; adding a few more greens to our plate, sometimes it can be larger pivots as we seek new careers, move home to a new area or leave relationships that no longer serve us.

What often holds us back is ‘change’ as it’s never comfortable and letting go of what we know, even when we know it no longer serves us is terrifying. However, as I watch older generations I’ve noticed that it’s much scarier to not reach for the stars and to let the night sky pass you by, that relationships that don’t serve you eat you alive. That outside factors that we can let go of become physical disease and illness that we often recognise when it’s too late.

Take a moment, grab a pen and write down a list of things you’d like to achieve. It could be over the next few weeks, months or by the end of the year. There might be a big birthday coming up and you might have a larger challenge up your sleeve, but whatever you do – do something, otherwise if you don’t let go you might just find the physical body is dragged down as a result. Apart from keeping up with daily yoga, my next challenge is to declutter. I’m going to start a room at a time and as small steps work for me, probably a draw or cabinet at a time. What do you need to let go of?

Trauma is about what did not happen

Quote Anon

Insecurities, broken trust, tragic events, sudden changes in circumstances, life changes and unexpected happenings are all part of life’s darker side of life. Some make us stronger, many leave scars and without us knowing pivot us to pathways anew.

As a behaviour adviser with little people from four years old to sixteen, ACEs (Adverse childhood experiences) are common place across classrooms. They often manifest as difficult or dangerous behaviour. Extroverts scream, punch and kick out for support and a need to be soothed. Whilst introverts often wear masks that don’t reveal how they are feeling, burying emotions deep and silencing needs and desires. Either reaction usually has toxic results.

In child protection meetings, of which I attend too often, the focus is on legislation and protective actions…again, these often result in further trauma for the child or exacerbate the situation before any soothing and healing can occur. Why? The focus is on the trauma. What happened, who failed to protect their child, what professional did or didn’t do, capturing the child’s voice (gathering the child’s thoughts and feelings on the trauma and life), the focus is always on the trauma.

Traumas are hard to define as something that I may find traumatic to experience, you may think was irrelevant. Children in split parent situations can have 2 loving parents and go contently from one family to another, however if the rules at Daddies are completely different to Mummies and we add on school expectations and standards, the child can become insecure, experience attachment issues and generally be confused about how to behave. A sibling of that same child, may find the transitions effortless and enjoy the variety of experiences. Often as parents we may feel that ‘trauma’ is that Mummy and Daddy separated; surprisingly children are often adaptable to these alternations with a little time, the trauma described above isn’t about home being separated or parents splitting…it’s about a consistent approach to parenting.

Through social media, often people feel the need to list or label traumas they have experienced. Whilst that can be a great first step in moving forward, we often need to look at what that traumatic experience taught us; what we lacked or received too much of. A helicopter parent often doesn’t allow a child to independently think – as an adult that person may need to overcome their trauma by making independent choices and growing in confidence with their decision process…

Often this quote is correct, the event felt traumatic because of what didn’t happen. The best way we can overcome future traumas is to listen to what we need now. If you’ve burnt the candle at both ends, make time for rest. If your life style is too static – it’s time to move your body. The hardest part of this process to live a positive life style is to remember to check in on yourself, journaling and a meditation practise can often add pause buttons to daily life.

So what do you need? Serve yourself first, fill your cup up and you’ll have capacity to help those around you. Turn you rainy days into rainbows, it doesn’t stop the rain but it doesn’t improve the view.

More does not mean better

Quote Anon

This week I didn’t feel well. I didn’t have a cold, headache or anything I could name. At times I felt a little like I might be sick but knew I wouldn’t. I just felt tired and off balance. Nothing was wrong and everything somehow felt too much.

I didn’t feel that how I felt was enough to have some time off work and so I needed to be more creative with my energy. I took a few small actions; left work a little early, laid down on my bed when I got home, early nights and little housework, asked others to cook, generally I slowed down.

It wasn’t the most exciting week and I don’t think it’s one for the memoirs but I didn’t push on and in turn become ill, in fact by Friday I felt much better and was able to celebrate my birthday with my family. The sun shone and I felt loved and was able to create memorable worthy moments.

What’s the point of this post? More doesn’t mean better, knowing ourselves and listening to what we need can be just as fulfilling. When we eat we often find the first few bites joyful and after that the sparkle goes, for this reason more is not usually better…trying a range of smaller dishes can be more fulfilling.

A small vacation of a few nights can be as rewarding as a mammoth expedition, life is often best served slow and simply.

I recently culled my wardrobe and plan to not return to a wardrobe heaving with clothes. In this consumer driven culture we don’t need masses. My wardrobe is slowly evolving to a world of less, higher quality and where the wooden hangings have space to jangle. This in turn means I have less choices to make and leaves my mind free to think about other things.

This week press the pause button on life and take time to notice what makes you smile. Don’t be surprised if less wins and more overwhelms.