Category Archives: Life Lessons

Are you Liked?

Social media has changed things. For those of us who are young(ish) adults, we may remember a time before the Internet (yes, younglings….there really was such a time! and no, I’m not old 🙂 ), the transition to when the Internet first came to be, and our first intrepid steps into this new world of knowledge at our fingertips. Yes, sometimes that knowledge would be a bit slow to load up on our computer screens, we had dial up modem connections and we also had a bit more patience. These were the days when our first instincts when presented with a school or university paper to write were still to go to the ‘LIBRARY’ (yes, the kind of library with books made of *actual* paper 😉 ) to do our research, and perhaps venture into the strange and novel ‘World Wide Web’ to supplement our findings.

Put in perspective of the length of human history, it is fair to say that the Internet is actually quite a new creation, and hasn’t actually been around for that long. And yet, nowadays, it seems like babies are weaned on the milk of electronic gadgets and gizmos that are rapidly changing and developing, and many school aged children, even very young children, cannot imagine a world, or their lives, without the Internet, and have never experienced such a world.

So although as adults, those of us who were growing up just as the strange language of this mysterious ‘Web’ began to enter our parlance, or who were already ‘fully fledged adults’ as it were, had passed through those fiery adolescent years of wondering if anyone liked us after all, we are still faced with this nervous desire to know whether we are ‘liked’ every time we connect to the web. Or at least, most of us are.

Social media has changed things. In many parts of the world it is absolutely and irreversibly the norm. We no longer see the Internet primarily as a tool to gain knowledge or to supplement education and learning, but as a multifaceted, ubiquitous, all things to all people, source of input, entertainment, news, gossip, stories, celebrities, fact, ‘fake news’, colours, noise, opinions, ideas, creations, inventions, innovations, trends, popularity contests and the seemingly endless list goes on and on and is daily reinvented.

Perhaps those of us who blog seek a quieter and more reflective online space, that the more fast paced social media tools that we may also use such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (and there my knowledge of such things ends 😉 ) would grant us.

But nonetheless, even the more reflective world of blogging shares the common feature of the ‘like’ facility.

How many of us log in to our Word Press accounts and immediately look at that little bell at the top right of the screen to see whether it has a little red or orange marker to indicate that someone has ‘liked’ or appreciated our content? You can be honest with yourself here.

It is a fascinating little ‘button’ that often makes me smile when I click on it, mainly because it makes me feel more connected to you. I realise that on the other side of this computer screen are real people, with fascinating stories, unique lives and thoughts, who have taken the time to acknowledge and appreciate mine. That is really something special, I think. And truly, the Internet can be a wonderful place, with some truly special people in it.

However, sometimes I wonder whether there is something about that ‘like button’ that triggers an instinct in ourselves to evaluate who we are, our value, and the value of what we have to say by how many ‘likes’ we receive. If we pour our heart and soul into writing something meaningful to us, and it is not noticeably acknowledged, does this in turn impact our self-esteem, even on a subconscious level?

Don’t get me wrong, I think ‘likes’ are wonderful. I genuinely like ‘likes’, and feel more connected with other people online because of them. However, if we find that our attention is unduly drawn towards whether something we have shared on our blogs has been liked or not, if we feel our heart sink if it hasn’t, and if we feel a glimmer of old feelings from childhood and teenage years when our likeability by our peers seemed to be a direct evaluation of our perceived worth, then perhaps it is time to take a step back.

I know that sinking feeling. And I know it has deeper roots than anything Internet related. As a child I was badly bullied for a few years, and I was worthless. I didn’t just feel worthless, but my existence was consumed by this rejection, the not measuring up, not being liked or being actively disliked, of being undesirable, outcast, rejected, neglected, unworthy, broken, hurting, isolated, ignored, overlooked, despised and alone. My broken heart and wounded mind is still being repaired and undergoing a process of transformation. No child, or adult for that matter, deserves to feel that way. And the more I think about it, the more I realise I feel passionately about encouraging other people, as well as myself, to know that although it is lovely, and a natural human desire, to be appreciated, our worth as individuals, as members of this community, and the worth of what we have to say and to share cannot be diminished by the lack of a ‘like’.

You *are* a star irrespective of whether anyone has pressed that star to like your post. You are unique, incredible and fascinating, with stories that no one but you can tell, and a world within a world of thoughts, imagination, hopes, dreams, fears and love. You can change things in everyday small quiet ways and even that in its own way is revolutionary. You are important because you are you. This is our humanity. And sometimes, as wonderful as the Internet is, the online world can rob us of that assurance. We are faced with numbers, targets, statistics, comparisons, and we are encouraged, especially by advertisers to never feel quite good enough – the next achievement, or makeover or purchase will add value to our damaged, inadequate selves.

And yet, despite our brokenness, our mistakes, our evaluations of self and others, we are infinite. And we are important. And even if we are not ‘liked’, we are created for a reason, and we are LOVED.

 

Retaking Control

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve worked twice as hard only to get half as far? That you’ve overcome so much pain and so many obstacles that you should be ‘ok’ by now, or ‘ok enough’, that just when you begin to think that you’re moving from survivor to thriver that you suddenly feel that things are beginning to get on top of you again?

I’ve been there many times. Life can be hard, but we keep getting up and keep on going as much as we can. Sometimes things get overwhelming though, and it takes time to get back on our feet again. I am back on my feet and going strong, or so I thought, but recently I have been struggling again.

This evening I find myself ‘sinking’ a little as depression and traumatic childhood memories, fears and feelings from being bullied and the years of distress and anxiety that followed begin to resurface. It can be difficult. It can feel sad.

I feel like I’ve poured my heart into some recent blog posts, and that these have perhaps been overlooked. I guess all of us are looking for connection and appreciation, and I realise that I have given a lot of good advice in terms of self care, well being, and mental health, that I need to take on board myself right now.

It’s time to retake control. I can’t let myself slip back into feelings of being overwhelmed or any other negative emotion. And I can’t look to people for confidence, courage or comfort, for ultimately that’s not where my strength comes from (Psalm 121).

I am sorry if this has been a muted post, but this is Life As It Happens To Be, and this is a real life, real time, struggling with real issues and real moods, anxiety, PTSD and depression.

Yet, I have come a long way. I’ll simply take a step back and regain my strength, and be on the road from survivor to thriver once again.

Much love. ❤ xx

 

Life as it happens to be…some reflections & plans….& future blog topics…

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Passing the yearly mid-point

Hi friends. 2nd July 2017. Can you believe we’re now more than half way through this year? I don’t know how that makes you feel, but I have a good feeling about it, which is quite a change from the anxious feelings I’ve had in previous years. This year I have been more mindful of making the most of my moments and not feeling so ‘dictated to’ by the clock or the calendar or the idea of ‘milestones’ that ought to have been reached by now. I do sometimes like to consider time in ‘manageable portions’ (don’t we all?), to take time to reflect, especially around the new year, and to plan ahead for the year to come. Perhaps you are similar, or maybe you prefer to just ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens. I think to some extent we all like a bit of both, to varying degrees. We need both stability and spontaneity in our lives. There is something about a ‘half way point’ that is a natural demarcation that can call us to reflect, or ‘pause and ponder’ and think about our life’s direction, our achievements, goals and plans for the future.

Perspectives

Sometimes passing a ‘half way point’ can make people feel nervous, unsettled, fearful, anxious or as if they have failed if they haven’t been able to achieve or get to where they had hoped or planned. I understand that. However, if you are in that place, I would encourage you to take a step back from the lens that you have been looking through and enjoy that wide expansive horizon before you.

Life is made up of different seasons, and unlike the predictability of the movement of nature’s seasons year after year from Spring to Summer to Autumn/Fall onto Winter, our lives are not like that. At twenty we cannot look across to the lives of twenty five year olds and find a uniformity in their circumstances that we can look to as a guarantee for the shape of our future. Nor can we do so at any age or stage of life. Yes, there may be certain things that hold a degree of certainty such as infancy, school years, college / university, graduation, employment, and so on. However, even then, we all have different starting points and obstacles and opportunities whether they be in the form of our health, family background, upbringing, socio economic status, limitations, abilities, temperament or whatever else they may be. We may be encouraged or hindered by the families we are born into, or by the company we keep or are compelled into by life’s circumstances. We may suffer abuse, neglect, trauma, unfair treatment, disadvantage or we may find ourselves blessed with favourable circumstances and a mostly happy or even carefree life. Perhaps the seemingly ‘predictable’ patterns of earlier years become more tangled, complex and uncertain as the years go by. Which is a good reason to refrain from harsh judgement of ourselves or others, and to avoid the ‘comparison trap’. Everyone has a story, and a ‘cross to bear’ as it were, and most times we are not really aware of what others around us are really going through however their lives may seem on the surface.

Finding Peace

Perhaps a simple prayer to ponder when life feels uncertain is the ‘Serenity Prayer’, which is simple yet full of wisdom:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

I personally love this prayer. It draws me away from being overly concerned with what is going on around me or from comparing my life to anyone else’s. It reminds me that like you, I have a Creator Who has made me who I am for a reason, and that if I want certainty and hope in my life I need only to look to Him for He Is True and Unchanging, unlike much of our experience of life in this world. And it reminds me that I am not powerless. I am not a victim of life’s circumstances, and although there are certain things that are beyond my control, still there is much that I can change. And so can you.

Who you are, and where you are now

All that being said, I’d like to remind you, yes *you*, special you reading this now, are Unique, Irreplaceable, ‘Fearfully & Wonderfully Made’ (Psalm 139) and are Special and Important just for who you are. You are not an accident, it is not by chance that you are here, right now, even reading this for perhaps you need to hear a word of encouragement. You are you for a reason, and you are here right now for a reason too.

So be kind to yourself. Know that life is not all about status or achievement or relationships or milestones achieved. It is enough that you are you. Truly. I believe that there is only One Who can love you in the way you need to be loved for you to know and experience this, and I hope that you will find your way to Him, the Lord Jesus.

However, no matter what your thoughts or beliefs, still you are important, a unique individual who deserves respect and care, and that my friend, begins with you. With how you view yourself, how you ‘talk to’ yourself, and how you treat yourself and others.

Where you are now may be a place of contentment, and if so I am pleased for you and hope that you enjoy and are blessed in this time of your life. However, where you are right now in life, may not be so great. In which case, remember from the Serenity Prayer above, that you are not powerless. You can make a change today, even if a small one, and you can keep going. This is the season of life that you are in, and inevitably with all seasons, it is transient and will change. So make the changes that you can and should, and seek to be at peace with the things that you cannot change.

So, What’s Your Plan?

Ok, ok, I’m a bit of a self-confessed ‘geek’. I like stationery. I like making lists and plans. I like seeing things written down, and I like colour coding! It’s not a crime, is it? 🙂

Over the past few years, lists and plans have been small yet very helpful tools for me to aid me through some very difficult times. As mentioned previously I have complex trauma / PTSD, severe clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder. The past few years have been very tough health wise, yet this year has been pretty good, productive and one in which I am getting on top of my health challenges, which I hope is an encouragement to any of you out there who are struggling in any way. We can build resilience in ourselves and we can make tangible changes for the better.

So do you have a list or a plan? If so, what’s in your plan? And how has it helped you? If you think that sharing these insights with us might help someone else, then you are more than welcome to leave a comment or a link to a relevant blog post.

Here’s What’s in My Plan…

At the start of the year, I took some time to be a geek and to make up some lists 🙂 It has helped me to ‘stay on track’ as it were, and to measure my progress in areas of my life that are important to me.

I’ve never shared anything like this publicly before, however, I would like to do so now in the hope that it might help, encourage, or be a useful starting point for some of you to consider what is important to you in your lives, and how to live more fully in the days and years to come.

So here goes, ‘it is what it is’, it’s not ‘perfect’, but it was my starting point for this year. I’ll be brave and share it with you lovely people.

I categorised my life into 14 priority ‘life areas’, which I will list below, unchanged from when I wrote them in a notebook in January of this year. Further to this I made further more specific ‘sub goals’ or actions to more practically guide me in maintaining and enhancing these 14 life areas. These have been organic and involve a lot of scribbling, doodling, brainstorming and note-making, therefore I won’t share these as that would just get a bit too ‘crazy’ and unwieldy for a blog post 🙂 Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks! I also made a simple ‘accountability tracker’ for each month of the year which worked well for the first few months but may continue to change as I change.

2017 Life Areas:

  1. Relationship with God / Faith
  2. Relationship with Family
  3. Friendships
  4. Work / Career
  5. Finances
  6. Health & Wellbeing / Mental Health / Nutrition
  7. Homekeeping / Hospitality
  8. Travel
  9. Hobbies & Recreation
  10. Self Development / Lifelong Learning
  11. Life Skills
  12. Future Unknowns / Hopes
  13. Helping Other People / Outreach / Volunteering / Charity, etc.
  14. Lifelong / Long-term Goal ~ Writing.

 

‘Life As It Happens To Be’ ~ The Birth of An Unexpected Blog & The Timing of Things

As you can see from the above list, a blog could quite reasonably fit into a couple of categories (such as 9 & 14). However, I never listed it specifically in the above list, nor in any of my ‘sub lists’ (ok, already, I told you I’m a self-confessed list making ‘geek’. The world needs us! 🙂 🙂 ).

My ‘blog baby’ therefore came as an unexpected surprise. A couple of years ago I created my own website on Wix, which I was an am very happy with. It is quite different in appearance from this blog, yet contains many similar themes. However, it never really did ‘go anywhere’. There wasn’t really the same scope to connect with other bloggers as there is here, and so it kind of drifted into the background of my life, and it no longer took much place in the day to day things of my life. In May of this year, I think, someone suggested that I try blogging on Word Press. And so on 28th May 2017, just over a month ago, I did just that, I began this blog, and now here I am, and here we are. I am so glad I did.

Perhaps my previous website was a preparation for this new adventure. Although this blog wasn’t on my list of pursuits this year, it has really taken a special place in my life, even though I have barely been blogging for long. I love this creative and somewhat philosophical outlet. I love connecting with you all, and gaining an insight into your lives and adventures and experiences and learning from what you have written, photographed and shared. I often find myself thinking about things to blog about, and find that it is becoming a beautiful experience that I definitely wish to continue.

I am grateful for those of you who have joined me on this shared journey. I hope you will continue with me, but even if our paths were only meant to cross for a short time before they diverge, I am glad for this time and this season with you. I really hope that some of the things I’ve shared have been an encouragement to you. I may not have met you face to face, but I do care, and as I am moving past some difficult years into something new, I hope that together we can discover more of what it means to be ‘Living Fully’, right here, right now.

The Future? Well, I don’t know too much about that, but I do have plans for some new Blog Posts! 🙂

I’m intrigued to know whether any of you are ‘regular’ readers. If so, then thank you, I appreciate you. I also would like to know what interests you, and what I can write more of to encourage you, for I do have the heart of an encourager, and you, unseen internet friend, matter to me ❤ 🙂

In the meantime, let me share some of the things that you can expect to see more of on my blog in the near future (hopefully!):

I intend to continue my regular posts such as daily photos, daily prompts, self-care series and posts about mental health. In addition to what I’m already posting, you can look out for:

  • A continuation of my ‘self-care’ series.
  • Future LUSH product reviews.
  • A July ‘Subscription Box’ review.
  • Travel: in less than a week, I am going for a short adventure / journey on an old steam train in northern Scotland which I hope to feature in a blog post shortly afterwards.
  • More on Books! Literature reviews and posts on the books I am currently reading.
  • Future travel plans.
  • As mentioned above, more on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Faith journeys.
  • Creative writing.
  • A colouring book review: a friend has recently gifted me with a new adult colouring book, ‘Images of Hope’, which I have started working on and will look forward to sharing with you.

So there you have it, some things to look forward to, and I hope you are enjoying journeying on this adventure with me.

Much love. ❤ xx

 

Notebook image, courtesy of Google Images. All other content (c) is my own.

 

 

 

 

A Bowl Full of Strawberries & A Little Catch Up Between Friends…

Hi friends,

Sorry that it has been a few days since my last blog post. Life as it happens to be has had me pretty busy with work these past few days, but in a good way. The only thing with that is that it has meant getting home a bit later, and then tending to the beautiful things of everyday life like making dinner, washing dishes, relaxation and so forth. Plus, we’ve had a couple of lovely sunny days, which is a real gift here as we also get a lot of intermittent rain, so after work I like to make use of the time to walk along the riverside not too far from my home, if I can.

To be honest, you haven’t really missed much since my last post on Saturday. Well, in fact, on Saturday I spend a fair amount of time researching a particular ‘personality type’/disorder if you could call it that, with regards to somebody at work who has just moved to a different department. This person has left a lot of confusion, pain and hurt behind her, and it has been hard for a lot of people to get their heads around it all, but doing some research into this condition has helped me understand things a bit better and to approach even hurtful people with greater compassion while maintaining boundaries. I’ve actually had some good opportunities to encourage some of the others who have opened up to me about their hurts at the hands of this person, so I am blessed to be able to be an encourager and a source of comfort in this situation as and when I can…and what a learning curve it has been for me too, and continues to be!!

It has got me thinking a lot about that little reflective question as to whether people see you as a blessing wherever you go, or whenever you go, or in other words, are they glad (or sad) when you leave them alone?

On Sunday I had more time to rest and reflect and pray about these things, and spend time with God, for after all, how can an empty vessel pour love and light into anyone else’s life? I first need to be filled with the goodness of God before I can even attempt to reach out to others….if I abide in Christ, then it becomes a natural overflow….but it’s not always easy to get ourselves to that place of being still before Him.

Other than that, work has been pretty busy. I am feeling quite proud of myself today actually as I managed to come home from work, attend to some household chores, spend some time relaxing, and then I did a 1 and a half to 2 hour workout. For me, this is pretty good, as I’ve not always been drawn to exercise! However, despite starting exercising more regularly to be more healthy, tone up and maintain a healthy weight, I realise that once I start I enjoy it so much that I want to keep going….I guess that must be ‘endorphins’! the ‘happy hormone’! There is so much to explore in thinking about that, which I may get to in a future blog post if you are interested. But for someone with depression and anxiety, the natural ‘high’ that something so beneficial as exercise produces is definitely one of life’s free gifts.

In addition to exercise, another thing that doesn’t come naturally to me is the consumption of fruit! I’m a little bit ‘fruit phobic’, or at least I feel a bit squeamish about the texture and taste of many fruits as well as nervous in the anticipation of eating fruit. I could happily eat almost (almost) any type of vegetable, but not so with fruits. So I did have another ‘mini victory’ in consuming this entire bowl of beautiful shiny red strawberries (although mostly in the form of a fruit smoothie).

So before I ramble on any further, here is a picture of said strawberries for your to enjoy. My eyes are tired, and I am very close to drifting into a slumber. I do hope you haven’t minded our rather informal ‘catch up’, but I have very much enjoyed this intimate little gathering. Even though we may not have met, it is a special thing to connect with you all, so thank you for that. And enjoy some shimmery summer strawberries! Until next time… Much love. 🙂 xx

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What Day Is It? …

Good Morning Friends! 🙂

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At least I know it’s the morning. You may have detected a hint of confusion from the title of this blog post, as I’m not entirely convinced what day it is! Have you ever had one of those mornings or days? Life as it happens to be this morning has been one of those mornings when I hit the snooze alarm a few too many times, and finally decided I need to get up for work and get ready and dressed, as after all it’s Friday, right? First though, I thought, I’ll take five minutes or so to check on what’s going on in ‘blogland’ with my site and catch up on what’s new with my blogging friends. Only, before I can even launch my site, I notice that the computer is having trouble launching the internet and the calendar on my screen tells me that it’s Saturday morning, and not Friday morning. Hey, well, at least I know it’s the morning, whatever morning that might be! I’m sure you’ve all had the experience at some point in your life when you’ve woken up convinced you either have to go to work or a meeting or appointment or some sort of thing scheduled on your calendar only to find that you in fact have a free day, and so you can relax! Then the relief kicks in, ‘ah, it’s the weekend! or ‘I actually have nowhere in particular that I need to be, I can relax!’. Only, the relief didn’t kick in for me as I wasn’t entirely convinced, still thinking that maybe my computer is wrong. Well, I had to phone my mum to confirm, and ask her a few times as I still wasn’t convinced….but it looks like it is the weekend after all….so confused or not, I wish you all a very happy weekend. Put your feet up, relax, and enjoy some unhurried blogging time! Ah, bliss! …..   🙂 xxx

Comment below and share what you’re doing today, or what you would do on a typical lazy Saturday morning! 🙂 Let me know of any experiences when you’ve woken up convinced it’s a different day! 🙂 And what would you do with a free day all to yourself with no particular things to do or places to be?

 

How just one small straw can be the matter of life and death… — Life as it happens to be

This is not the story of the camel and the straw that broke the camel’s back. No, it begins with a turtle and a straw, a matter of life and death, and it ‘ends’ (or continues on) with you… Confused? Don’t worry. Let me start by asking you a question. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by […]

via How just one small straw can be the matter of life and death… — Life as it happens to be