All posts by Phoenicia

Change is inevitable..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change whether it benefits us directly or not is inevitable. We have little control over the circumstances that change the course of our lives. We can choose to wallow or ride through the change. Either way it will happen whether we are on board or not.

I find children highly adaptable whereas adults can become entwined with routine. At primary school in the 1980’s, I recall peers leaving and new children joining. After a week I had almost forgotten about those who had left and those who had recently joined became part of our ‘new family’. Adults appear to take longer to adjust. Partly, I believe is to do with the fact that we become set in our ways.

Like most people I gladly welcome change when I have had a hand in the decision making process, not so much when the change has been thrust upon me. I am trying to be more flexible in my thinking and my approach. Such people tend to take life in their stride rather than walk around with their feathers ruffled.

Seeing as we know change will come, we owe it to ourselves to allow for a level of flexibility. We owe it to ourselves to be less rigid with our plans, our dreams, our schedules. There are often more ways to reach our end goal.  When life throws us off course, we can jump back on the saddle as opposed to giving up.

We can work towards embracing change by learning to expect the unexpected. At times life can appear to be plain sailing for a season then a sudden change can occur.  We can choose not to ‘coast’ during the comfortable seasons and plan and stay focused.

How do you react to change whether positive or negative?                                                      How has this impacted on your life?

Are you feeling weary?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weariness happens to the best of us. Whether employed/self-employed, studying, running a home, rearing children, caring for elderly parents, life can take its toll on us physically, emotionally and mentally. We owe it to ourselves to give our body and mind rest when needed otherwise we will become burnt out. When we feel drained we have absolutely nothing to offer to anyone. It is likely we will be snappy, despondent, lethargic and uninspired – not the kind of characteristics that others will gravitate to.

The majority of Saturday mornings I wake up and think ahead to what I hope to achieve. The mere thought of meeting just a few of these tasks make me feel overwhelmed. I would not say I ‘carry’ more than the average woman but still I have this feeling of being overloaded. My husband is very hands-on and optimistic even when busy – he takes life in his stride. I on the other hand feel the need to discuss (okay grumble) what I have to do as if it changes anything!

We can be over ambitious in cramming far to many tasks in one day rather than focusing on just three or four. There will always be one more thing to do but we get to decide if it is vital or if it can be put on hold for another day. The need for control or perfection can result in us pressuring ourselves unnecessary. This only causes feelings of anxiety and defeat.

As I leave church I am already thinking ahead to cooking our Sunday lunch and tackling the pile of ironing that mainly consists of school uniforms (polo shirts x10 come to mind!)  I plan to listen to music or watch a Netflix series on my phone while ironing. It makes a significant difference to my sense of well-being.

How do you prioritise your time ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It feels as though time moves faster the older I become. The years roll smoothly into each other and at times I have wondered whether an event took place in 2018 or 2019. As a child the weekends felt ample and the summer holidays like a lifetime. I recall July and August in the 1980’s being filled with endless trips to the park, beaches and play schemes. I was rarely without an ice lolly in my hand due to the scorching weather.

As an adult my weekend feels like it ends on a Sunday somewhere between ironing my children’s school uniform and choosing an outfit for work. The prep work for Monday certainly puts me in ‘work mode’.

Technology plays its part in keeping us connected to the world. There are many positives in signing up to social media. However, if we are not mindful we can spend a lot of our time online; casually surfing, networking, promoting our business. This reduces our time to rest, reflect, see people in person, read books, explore the outdoors and so on.

On my commute I read the online bible, books, blogs and listen to music. I decided that I may as well use my journey to learn, reflect and enjoy music. This has enhanced my commute time; something I once saw just as a means to an end.

Outside of our day-to-day work whether we are self-employed or an employee, we can decide what we do with our time. We can choose to commit to studying, reading books, going for leisurely walks, visiting a friend or relative.  Whilst it can be difficult to factor in time to do as we would like, we can be flexible to ensure there is some space for learning, developing, fun and family time.  I am of the mindset of ‘if it is important we will give it priority’. 

Time will pass regardless of what you do with the hours you are given. You can decide if you want something to show for it or not. Do you wish to look back in years to come and smile at the fact that you did what you intended, you did what was necessary and what mattered to you and others around you?

Life is for living and not just for allowing time to pass us by.

Changing your behaviours……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the past few days I have been thinking about my behaviours; particularly those I would like to change. I have found myself at this point on a number of occasions. Initially I am excited and enthusiastic about the prospect of a ‘new me’ then situations arise and I find myself right back to square one. By this time I am despondent, exhausted and frustrated.

At times we have the will and zeal but slide back to our old way of thinking and acting. Once the despair surfaces we may struggle to believe we can ever change making it easier to revert. We can talk ourselves out of trying believing it to be in vain, that we are just as we are. Change will be painful, change will take work, change will have its setbacks and change will take time. Our behaviours are learnt over years therefore it would be unrealistic to expect radical changes over a few months or even a few years.

By nature, I am an introvert – I am present when with you but I need time out daily at work and home. This is to recharge my batteries and reflect on the many thoughts, decisions and discussions that have taken place in my head and with others. By nature I can be grumpy, direct and I wear my heart on my sleeve – just ask my family! I struggle to conceal my feelings when sad, angry or confused. I try but it seems hopeless.  I would probably burst if I have to suppress how I feel – it is simply not a part of my make up.

Despite being well aware of my behaviours I still remain hopeful that even a small change is better than no change. I am learning not to be too hard on myself when I fail to act as I know I should. I am learning that no one person is perfect and yearning for absolute perfection is pointless – you will always come up short. Instead I try to accept who I am whilst pushing for improvement.

Have you attempted to change your behaviours?
How did you feel when change was slow or non-existent?

What are your plans for 2020?

 

 

 

 

 

We have officially made it to 2020!

I am looking forward to what this year has in store for me and my family.  No matter how many plans we have there is still an air of the ‘unknown’ which can be both frightening and a little exciting at times.  It really does depend on your perspective.  I have learnt we are not in control of our life half as much as we would like to think we are.  Does this mean we should throw out our plans and sit back for life to ‘happen’ to us?  I say no.  I say we go ahead and put plans in place knowing some will pan out, some will go on hold and some will be scrapped due to our personal choices.

I make it a habit to write down my plans and rarely have more than five.  I believe if your list is too long, you can easily lose focus or overstretch yourself and fail to reach any of your goals.  At the end of each year, I discuss my plans with my husband and he shares his plans with me – several interlink and the remaining are personal.  Sharing your plans make you accountable; it could be with your spouse, partner, family member, friend or a mentor.  Three to six months into the year you could provide an update on how your plans are going, considering:

What were the challenges?

How did you overcome them?

Did you change direction?

How did you manage the disappointments?

What lessons did you learn?

I am unsure what changes you would like to see in 2020 but they are less likely to occur if you fail to note them down or type them in your phone/laptop.  Regularly reading your goals serves as a reminder but also makes your mind more efficient by helping you to focus on the important aspects.

So in 2020, do not allow your goals to remain as ‘loose words’, ‘hopes’ and ‘dreams’.  Do what you can now to reach your goals, however small the steps may be.  If you cannot get a place on your desired course this year, buy a book to read/study in the meantime in preparation rather than simply waiting to apply in 2021.  If you wish to be more organised, choose to write ‘to do’ lists listing your key priorities. Be flexible and willing to take a change of direction if needed. Most of all remember to enjoy the process!

Are you kind to yourself?

 

 

 

 

We ought to be kind and loving to ourselves despite our flaws and shortcomings. Regardless of whether we have achieved or arrived at our planned destination. At times we can appear on the outside to love and appreciate ourselves but what thoughts whirl around our mind whilst we are at home, at work, with friends and family? Are they thoughts of love and acceptance or thoughts of rejection, dissatisfaction and hopelessness?

Our thoughts matter far more than the opinion of others around us. What we think about ourselves relates to how we interact with others, perceive others and see our place in this world. Healthy, loving thoughts mean we acknowledge when we have messed up, missed the mark and choose to start afresh. Unhealthy thoughts mean we scrutinise past conversations, have unreasonable expectations of ourselves and generally see life in a negative light.

Being kind to ourselves starts with the small. Soaking in a bath with candles after a long day at work or at being home with your little ones, it means treating yourself to an item that will compliment you (according to your budget obviously). Being kind to ourselves means having an early night if you are tired, despite seeing a pile of ironing that needs doing. Being kind to yourself is accepting it is okay to think of your own needs, particularly when you tend to spend a lot of your time meeting the needs of family and friends.

I struggled with being kind to myself at times. My expectations were too great. I would have stern words with myself if I did not achieve what I expected to in an exam, if a friendship went pear shaped or if there was a disappointment of some kind. Negative thoughts would then follow which would lead me to a dark place. I learnt over the years to accept myself as I am and as Americans would say ‘cut myself some slack’.
It is liberating and certainly brings a sense of freedom. Often we are prisoners of our own thoughts. We owe it to ourselves to loosen the rope.

Change your mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

Our mindset hugely affects the way in which we function and our approach to life. It impacts on the way we view others and how we deal with challenges and disappointment. Our mode of thinking has been built up since we were young therefore it is realistic to accept it will take time to change direction. Hope is simply not enough, we need to have a willingness to change our mindset for the better.

Living with a ‘glass half empty’ mindset will only bring much of the same thing; pessimism, low expectations, looking for the worst in people and in situations. Working towards a ‘glass half full” or “cup overfloweth” mentality will take work but the outcome will make it worthwhile.

My husband (bless him) is optimistic to the point of being downright unrealistic. He will convince himself a typical 50 minute journey can somehow take 30 minutes. I have assured him even if there were no other car on the road this would not be possible. When we go to the shopping centre or supermarket, he drives directly to the front of the store to look for parking. Everyone knows the closest spaces are always taken. I struggle not to roll my eyes.

I am the realist in our marriage. I tend to look at the facts and evidence. I will identify why something cannot be done while my husband will respond “Well, why not?!” We work together to meet in the middle of our two extremes.

Previously when going on holiday, I would discount the flight as being part of the holiday. In my mind it was a means to an end and something I had to endure rather than enjoy. I saw checking in at the airport as stressful and boring. I would be agitated on the aeroplane, constantly checking how many flight hours remained. However when I flew to Jamaica in June, I trained myself to believe the holiday started from the airport; we took selfies, I bought goods in duty free and stopped for breakfast. I enjoyed watching films, listened to music and slept in between. What a difference- all because I tweaked my thought pattern.

How much patience do you really have?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we believe we have a lot more patience than we do. It is only when put to the test can we truly identify if we are lacking in this area. All the more important is the attitude we maintain when we are forced to wait. Are we calm and composed or irate and distracted? Do we overlook the feelings of others in pursuit of what we want?

I know, hands on heart that I do not have an overflow of patience and I am learning – often the hard way. As a teenager my mum always told me I needed to learn patience and I casually allowed her comments to run over me. The number of times she uttered “patience is a virtue” I do not know!

It is far easier to have little patience as a child and teenager as people almost expect it. As an adult a lack of patience is not welcomed. It is assumed our ‘people skills’ are more in tune and that our sense of awareness grows. But does it?

My husband always jokes that I act like I am on a mission. Even when on holiday/family breaks I struggle to take leisurely strolls and instead walk as if I have a train to catch. He holds my hands to slow me down. On the outside I smile and internally I feel irritated at not keeping at a faster pace.

Last week I walked down the high street and got stuck behind two women who slowly stolled side by side without a care in the world. I felt myself becoming agitated as I planned a way to get around or through them.

A few months ago at the end of our church service, an elderly woman stopped to speak to me. A part of me desired to rush off to meet my husband and collect our children from Sunday School. I then had a thought that perhaps this woman needed to talk, even if it was just general banter. We spoke for about 10 minutes. As we drove home I wondered if the woman was married or if she lived alone. I wondered if her only real communication with others took place at church. Whatever her circumstances she made me reflect on my actions and that is never a bad thing.

When life throws you a curveball….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAST Saturday morning I planned to drop my daughter to dance for two hours and return home to do some housework. We jumped into our car, I turned the key to discover the battery was dead – great timing! I sat for a moment and wondered what to do. My husband was in London at a meeting with the other car, my sister in-law was unavailable and my son was groggy with a flu virus. My daughter also missed dance the week before and needed to catch up with the dance routine.

I decided to order a taxi, drop my daughter to dance and wait for 1.5 hours. I was annoyed because A. I would be £15 out of pocket, B. I now needed to make myself presentable – usually I ‘drop and run’ so no need for any make up or matching clothes, C. A load of washing was in the machine waiting to be hung out.

As I sat typing this while my son sniffed and sneezed next to me, I realised that not everything will go according to plan. Life will throw you curveballs but we cannot afford to be beaten by them. As much as we plan, we need to work with an element of flexibility. If one is too rigid you leave yourself open to much disappointment.

I lived a life of rigidity and it was limiting and exhausting. I was constantly picking myself up from disappointment after disappointment. Whether my train was delayed or an appointment/event was cancelled, it left me feeling out of control.

Having control is learning to rise above circumstances which come to try you and throw your plans right out of the window. Having control is accepting we do not travel through life along one straight, neat road paved with flowers. The road bends and turns, moves up and down and can be ugly. In between those twists and turns we can choose to laugh and relish the good times. If we look closely, they are there!

How deep is your desire to belong?

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE like to feel a sense of belonging as we tend to thrive in such environments. Belonging contributes to us feeling wanted, cared for, important and valued. If our sense of belonging is questioned then we can easily lose who we are, the part we play, the impact we make and our overall significance in life.

Have you had a time in your life where you felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? For whatever reason you were not accepted and embraced. You felt out of your depth – whether in a new job, project, friendship group or a change of family dynamics. If we are not careful we can waste too much energy looking at our inner man and trying to identify why we are not a good fit. We can analyse and tear apart our character, mannerism, personality to try to make sense of it all.

Dr Brene Brown is a top researcher on vulnerability and empathy. I recently watched her Ted Talk video on Youtube and highly recommend it! One of her quotes stood out to me;

“No-one belongs here more than you.”

Simple but powerful.

There are many who are acutely aware when they are not easily embraced, listened to, given recognition and as a result they are likely to merge into the background. I have seen it and lived it first hand, more so throughout my teenage years.  I never felt a sense of belonging at secondary (high) school. It was like I did not get the script, did not easily gel with my peers, did not flow with the ‘street talk’.  I felt out of place, awkward and came to a stage where I just stopped trying.  It was liberating to finally not care who did or did not welcome me into their group.  I was at peace with who I was; an introvert who thought far more than she spoke, had her own mind and did not compromise her values in order to be accepted.

I have learnt that self-acceptance is the key to us having a sense of belonging. Only when we first accept ourselves, ‘flaws and all’, are we confident to bring authenticity to any environment we find ourselves in.

Instead of walking into a room and wondering who will speak to us, why not walk into a room and wonder which person  we would like to approach.  Same situation, completely different mindset!