Positive Pause – 9th January, 2017 – Who Said January is a Long Month?

who said january is a long monthWho said January is a long month? It is in fact no longer than March, May, July, August, September and October which all also have 31 days. Who came up with the notions, “thank God it’s Friday” or “the Monday blues” or, on a Wednesday, “we are halfway there”? I’d love to know exactly where we are halfway to? Where is it people are so busy trying to get to? All of these common and conditioned phrases trip off our tongues without much thought; they carry about as much weight as a passing comment about the weather and yet the subtext they give is that we are fundamentally “wishing our lives away”.

Ask someone with six months to live if “January is a long month” or “isn’t it great that it’s Friday at last” and they may well express a very different opinion.

Choosing to embrace January with a positive mind-set is the beginning of being able to let go of such preconceived and out-of-date ideas that ignore the wonder and joy that each precious day has to offer.

This week, settling back into my busy life in Dublin, many well-intentioned people have asked me, “How are you coping?” They are not referring to the jet lag (which by the way, is like childbirth, you don’t know what it’s like until you have done it) I may be experiencing after my trip to Australia but to the reality of being home, the weather, returning to work etc. The idea that “reality” is a place that is best avoided and that escaping to the sun is the perfect way to avoid this harsh “reality” is based on false conceptions. Now, I love the sun more than most but at the same time I can honestly say that I don’t feel the need to escape to it to avoid my life here in Dublin. I am very comfortable with “reality”, in fact I love “reality” and find it a great place to be, no matter what day of the week it is or, for that matter, what month. The trick is to find something positive in your “reality” and believe me there is always something.  The grass is always green if you choose it to be.

The importance of gratitude is something that we can all focus more on in 2017 and beyond. Helen Kelleher’s inspirational quote, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet” sums it up for me. Every day that we wake up is a gift that deserves to be treasured and not wished away because it is January or today is Monday or that it’s cloudy outside or that we’ve no disposable income left after Christmas.

When I was a child, one of my favourite activities was to move the furniture around in my small bedroom. I got so much pleasure from moving my bed from one side of the room to the other or rearranging and relocating my teddies. This idiosyncrasy has stayed with me and my husband has been known to return home from work to find that the kitchen table has yet again been moved and “isn’t it so much better?” This week, our bedroom was the target and as we live on a main road with windows on both sides of the room, I decided to do what I should have done years ago and move the bed to the back of the room and away from the traffic. As Eckhart Tolle, author of the iconic book, ‘The Power of Now’ has commented – to complain is in itself a form of madness; if you don’t like something and it is within your control then change it. If it is something outside your control and you can walk away then do that and if you can do none of the above, the next step is moving to accept it.

I ask you to take this opportunity, dig deep, be brave and ask yourself, is there anything in my life that causes me to wish my life away? If you hear yourself frequently saying, “thank god it’s Friday” or if you find yourself dreading Monday mornings, ask yourself why? Following this, ask yourself if there is anything you can do to change the situation and if there is then do it.  If you can’t change the situation then work on accepting it and move towards finding the positive in the situation. It is incredible but true that,

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

You may be surprised to notice that January isn’t long enough; each month, each day, each moment is precious, and I wish you the courage to appreciate all of the wonder that life has to offer.

My Sunday Share & Care videos now go monthly. On the last Sunday of each month, Fiona will post a video crammed with top tips on how to help you deal with anxiety and stress and to reach your full positive potential for the coming month. Please take the time to subscribe.

Positive Pause – 26th December, 2016 – Homesick?!

homesickHappy St Stephen’s Day!

I hope this email finds you well and that you had a wonderful day yesterday. Personally, I love Christmas but have to admit that this year I struggled to feel “Christmasy” under the baking sun. No amount of cheesy music and Santa hats could convince me it is normal to be wearing a bikini on Christmas eve!

Last week saw its ups and downs in the land down under! The “up” was climbing to top of the viewing pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The construction of this enormous bridge is a testament to what people are capable of when they put their minds and physical power to it!

The “down” came the very next day when my nine-year-old son, Luca, developed a bout of extreme homesickness. He had gone off camping with his cousins for a full week leaving myself and Ciaran, my husband, in Sydney, for work reasons. The problem in this case is that  “home” (Sydney) for Luca happened to be a 7 hour car journey away!

I’m sure we can all recall, as children, the horrible feeling of being homesick when moments feel like hours and days like weeks.  This is different from loneliness and hits you right in the pit of your stomach.  Luca is already very far from home (Ireland) but it was his parents that he really missed, so perhaps homesick is the wrong word as it’s really the people we love that we miss.

Remembering this feeling from my own childhood, we decided the best thing to do was to go and pick him up as he seemed inconsolable. Just as we were about to set out on the long journey to collect him, Ciaran decided that chlorine needed to be added to the pool to keep it clean while we were away.  In his rush a splash of the toxic chemical got into his eye despite him wearing sunglasses.  Not usually prone to the dramatic, Ciaran came running though shouting he had been blinded! Our attention had now swayed from our distraught son to getting Ciaran medical attention as suggested by Dr Google. Many hours later and a few hundred dollars down, Ciaran was told his eye was fine! In the meantime, Luca had had a 360 degree change of heart and decided to stay at the campsite and told his auntie to tell his parents that if they hadn’t already left, not to bother! Throughout the day, as things changed from moment to moment, I found myself taking a big step back and my ability to trust the sequence of events showed that everything worked out just the way it was meant to: no long car journey needed and Luca more time to play with his cousins.

What I didn’t expect was to wake up on Christmas morning suffering my own feelings of “homesickness”. I hadn’t slept well and the thought of my parents and sister at home getting ready for our annual Christmas Eve party coupled with echoes of Christmases past, missing relatives now long gone came up and the tears started to flow.
Christmas provides us with a window in which the everyday business of life comes to a halt and our focus turns to what’s more important – love of our family and friends.

I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again, when an emotion swells up, please give yourself space to really feel it. Repressed emotions lead to ill health in both the body and mind. If you feel homesick, sad or lonely at any point, then embrace these feelings. In my case, I let the tears flow and allowed myself to reminisce for a while. After a while everything settled, the sun came out and I had one of the best, most unique, beautiful, loving Christmases I’ve ever had and I didn’t even mind the fact that I was wearing a bikini!

Positive Pause – 5th December, 2016 – There is No Such Thing as Nothing

there is no such thing as nothingThis week I took some time out from my busy life to listen to a podcast of the highlights from the previous week’s interviews on the Ray D’Arcy radio show. One of the interviews was with Professor Brian Cox, the English Physicist, BBC Presenter and former band member of D:Ream. A 10-year-old listener called in and asked Professor Cox, “If there is nothing in a vacuum, what is the nothing made of? Cox was blown away by the brilliance of the question from such a young mind and answered that empty space literally does not exist.

And now for the science: a vacuum is filled with ‘Higgs’ particles, electrons mix with these particles and fill the ’empty’ space. there is no such thing as nothing

Now, I am not a scientist but am still fascinated by the potential that it opens up.  I believe that the power of imagination coupled with scientific discovery can provide a source of unlimited potential for us all.

If there is no such thing as nothing in terms of physical space, then isn’t it possible that there is no such thing as feeling empty? This strong, negative emotion is often what spirals people into states of depression and severe anxiety. The very act of feeling empty presupposes that we must, in the first instance, be capable of feeling.

I often talk about the importance of letting yourself “feel,” even if your feelings are sometimes difficult or uncomfortable. It is perfectly understandable that you may wish to push away or suppress any unwanted negative feelings, but the irony is that allowing yourself to accept, welcome and engage with these feelings will empower you to achieve what you really want; to let them pass and instead to embrace feelings of joy, happiness and hope.

In the complex mix of negative emotions some people refer to a feeling of being broken. However, such emotions do not suggest that we are broken, merely human. You can’t fix what is not broken and all emotions both positive and negative provide you with an opportunity to engage fully in life. In the run up to Christmas and all the busyness that it can bring, if you feel like crying allow yourself to cry and, even better, if you feel like laughing then laugh out loud!

Later that same day, my ever-mindful mother gave me an article cut-out from a magazine on the importance of silence. I love the way she has done this for me over the years and my books are full of these cut-outs. According to the article, research shows that modern life is noisier than ever before and that constant exposure to noise has a negative impact both mentally and physically.  The opposite of noise is, of course, silence but silence is once again not nothing. The lack of noise both externally and in our minds represents a fullness that is beautiful. Finding time to embrace silence no matter what you are feeling leaves you feeling full and free. The ability to slow down your thoughts and listen to the silence between them is a source of inner tranquility that is always present if you choose it to be.

Life has been very ‘full’ for me recently as I wrapped up seeing my clients, had an early family Christmas dinner, held my son’s (Luca) birthday party for 35 kids, caught up with friends, packed for a trip to Australia, in addition to doing all the usual every-day chores. As you read this I’ll be up in the air in “empty” space being transported from one time zone to another.  Don’t worry, I’ve made sure to include some silence, peace and tranquility in all the ’empty’ space in my luggage. there is no such thing as nothing

If you haven’t already read the honest and frank review of my five-star rated course, The Positive Habit by Michelle McDonagh in  last week’s Irish Times Health Supplement, you can read it heret

here is no such thing as nothing
Thanks for reading and check your inbox next week to read tales from Down Under. In the meantime take good care of YOU! there is no such thing as nothing