A Lust for Life – February 2020 – Feeling anxious? Self-Compassion is the key to calmness

“Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up.”

Jesse Jackson

Have you ever had a morning where you woke up and just could not face going into school or college? Not because you were physically sick, but for some weird reason,you just couldn’t quite put your finger on? An uncomfortable, anxious feeling that made you uneasy about seeing your mates or having to deal with anything at all? Read more…

Positive Pause – 21st November, 2016 – Empathy

empathyEmpathy

noun: “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

Last Wednesday afternoon I had the annual parent-teacher meeting for my son, Luca and truth be told, I was unconsciously a little nervous before it. I imagine many parents feel this before these meetings even if they already know how amazing their child is; there is usually a touch of “please be positive about my child, please tread carefully with what you say, I’m doing my best!” It takes courage to listen with an open and non-objective heart to potential criticism whether it is from our boss or a partner about ourselves, or a teacher about our child. However, I think that these experiences present us with a valuable opportunity to observe our reactions and behaviour; some people slip into defensive behaviour as their ego flares up at the slightest mention of faults.

One of the many gifts I have discovered in motherhood is that it highlights our own principles and what we believe is important to pass on to our children.

Having empathy is one of my main principles . To have empathy for others is an essential ingredient in creating a world of harmony and peace. Without it, it’s a dog-eat-dog world and who wants to bring children up in that environment?

After Luca’s lovely teacher outlined all his academic abilities she said: “I have to say he has great empathy for the rest of the children in his class”. At this point I wanted to get up and hug the lady. She is 8 and half months pregnant and I didn’t want to overwhelm her, but in my mind she could not have paid Luca a higher compliment. His English, Irish and maths seemed less signifcant as I value emotional intelligence so highly. It was like the time when I found out I was pregnant with Luca (the teacher’s baby bump reminded me of this special time) after a long road of infertility. I felt tears of joy starting to swell I was so proud of my son. I have to admit that I did take some of the credit myself – all those years of talking to him (nagging him!) and guiding him seem to be paying off.

This week, focus on the principles which are important to you and make a conscious choice to live by them. Empathy can come under many different names; kindness, care, compassion and above all, love. When we can see every creature and person is intrinsically connected to us it allows us to open our hearts, to reach out and express kindness in whatever way we can. As I have previously mentioned, in order to be strong enough to see the world like this you must first and foremost take care of yourself. Please continue to find time to care for yourself, reward yourself with a healthy lifestyle and mindset and allow empathy to flow. It is a win-win situation for all concerned!

Positive Pause – 3rd October, 2016 – A Mother’s Kindness

a mother's kindnessThis week saw the sad passing of a wonderful woman who was the mother of a primary school friend of mine. I attended the service for her last Wednesday, a warm and sunny afternoon. A mother’s kindness

It’s hard to put into words the impact that this lady’s kindness had on so many lives and in particular in her role as a mother, wife and grandmother. I hadn’t seen her for a long time as I knew her more when I was a child. My most vivid memory of her was how she would arrive at lunch break in school with hot toasted cheese sandwiches for my friend. She wanted them to still be warm and the cheese to be just melted for her daughter (this was when toasted sandwiches makers were a new and incredible invention).  I always remember looking longingly at the melted cheese!  The memory of this has always stayed with me – a woman who was clearly very dedicated to her family.

The service was beautiful and honest and her best friend said, in her speech, that this was a happy time to reminisce on all the joy that she had brought to everyone’s lives. She had been ill for a number of years and it was a relief to see the end of her suffering. She was a woman who had loved life and who had lived it to the full.  In particular she loved being outdoors and she had even come very close to being selected for Wimbledon in her youth.  One of my closest friends who was also at primary school with me summed it up when she said “she was an example to us all.”

Life is certainly short and the time we have here is precious. Later that day I sat in the park with my own mother and cherished the time we have together.  I remembered all the kindness and love she has shown me and how her positive light is like a beacon that has always guided me.

This week, allow yourself to consciously appreciate the people you have in your life. It often helps to think of the bigger picture when small irritations come your way. Show the people you love kindness and support at every opportunity, surprise them with random acts of kindness, a small gift or even a freshly toasted sandwich when they are not expecting it!

The greatest gift we have is time and how we choose to spend it and with who. A mother’s kindness

Positive Pause – 26th September, 2016 – Imagine

ImagineIt can be hard to recall what it is like to be a child, a teenager, a younger more vulnerable version of yourself or even what it is like to be old or to be very  ill when you feel healthy.  However, this week I came to the conclusion that it is definitely worth the effort in order to maintain positive relationships with the people I love. Imagine

I love my son unconditionally. However, truth be known he takes conscious eating to a new level and he can literally take a full two hours to finish his breakfast! Now this is all very well when there are no work and school deadlines looming.  I  promote stopping and smelling the roses and the need we all have to slow down, but I found this week my mindful moments were being pushed to their peaceful limit.

After a lot of deep breaths and exhortations like “come on, you are going to be late,” I found that I had to take a step back from the building frustration I felt inside that that was leaking out of me.

The morning is an important time for setting the tone for the rest of the day (hence my daily morning walks and mediation).  On one of these walks, the words of John Lennon’s song came to me –  ‘Imagine all the people, where do they all come from,” which encapsulates the concept of what it is like to imagine the world through someone else’s eyes.  I then thought how this might help me to step inside Luca’s shoes and see the world through his eyes. Most kids are much better at living in the moment and we have a lot to learn from their outlook; they are genuinely in, what positive psychology refers to as, a ‘state of flow.’ Their minds’ are totally absorbed with their actions and they are unaware of the passing of time (hence the long breakfasts). It’s an incredibly healthy place to be for us all to be but can be tricky to accommodate on a weekday morning!

This week, if you run into any relationship challenges whether it is with your children, your husband, your wife, your parents, your siblings, your friends or your colleagues it can be helpful to imagine how they see things from their stage in life, their conditioning and circumstances. We owe it to ourselves to work on nurturing positive relationships with those we love and those we meet on a daily basis. Feeling close to others is a strong signal that we feel close to ourselves.

Safe to say, I need to encourage Luca to eat faster on school mornings but also to allow him to keep his natural mindful state.  There is a balance and I’m hoping to find it …Wish me luck!

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