Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Quality of Life…everyday….

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What do those three words make you think of? ‘Quality of life’. (I mean in a general, everyday sense. I understand that there are many people who are or have friends or family members who are living through terminal illness, severe health challenges, bereavements and other major life challenges, which require sensitivity and compassion and an entirety of focus, therefore this post is aimed more generally, while my heart goes out to those who are struggling with the daily realities of such life circumstances).

I guess the phrase means different things to different people, but individually I think you ‘just know’ whether you are experiencing it or whether something is amiss. As explored in previous posts, we often don’t stop and realise what we really need to change until after we ‘burn out’ or struggle to survive our hectic and stressful days. 

As someone who has had a long battle with complex post traumatic stress (notice, I leave out the word ‘disorder’, for we are overcomers and survivors of the brain’s natural coping reactions to severely stressful life experiences that were put upon us), severe clinical depression, resulting in for a few years chronic pain, and also generalised anxiety disorder, therefore quality of life is something I have had to think about a lot. 

I am pleased so say that by the grace of God, and with a lot of hard work taking those small and seemingly insurmountable steps every day for years and years, I feel like I am stronger and in a better place. 

So, ‘quality of life’ in an everyday sense….what does it mean? You know better what it is when you don’t have it. And what do you think about? Is it having time to yourself to rest and reflect? Experiencing exhilarating challenges and exploring new places? Having a peaceful family life, or finding contentment in your situation whether you have people around you or are ‘alone’? Is it being able to “enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”? To notice the simple things each and everyday?

It is a challenge that each of us have to take up to consider this question for ourselves, and then to give ourselves the permission to set about doing something about it for our own sakes and for those around us. I have taken the day off work today. I was getting to the stage of feeling like I wasn’t ‘coping’ so well, and that’s not the way I want to live. And I think with all I have been through, and all that you have been through in your life, it is a question that we need to *regularly* ask ourselves: am I living, experiencing a real quality of life, even in the simple things everyday, and if not, what am I going to do to make the changes I need to make? 

For me some of these changes have taken years to accomplish having had the mountains of post traumatic stress, anxiety and depression to overcome. However simple they may seem, these changes are small victories in my life. And as each gain is made, the quality of life adds up over the years, as does our personal resilience to adversity, just as conversely each detriment adds up, each bad habit, each negative element that we allow to continue in our lives unchallenged. 

Some of these changes for me include working on a better sleep routine, and eating more healthily, and looking after my body and mind. Having a time of morning devotions and prayer and seeking God, giving thanks and praying for myself and others, committing my day to Him and being gentle with myself when I don’t manage this and end up rushing. Taking time to slow down and notice the beauty in the everyday, ‘mundane’ things of life and appreciating what I have got. Taking time to create a peaceful living and working environment even if there are challenges in doing this, small changes can make a difference. Taking breaks, being mindful of my breathing, setting goals and plans, and taking the time to do more of what I enjoy, whether it is reading a book while waiting for the train, colouring during my lunch breaks at work, listening to music, giving myself more time so that I am not constantly rushing from place to place, and taking a day off when I need to if I can. 

I am a great believer that the little things in life really do add up over time. What you are investing in today will impact your future and those of the people in your life in some way or another. Seeds of legacy. So take time to make time for yourself, small or big changes that will help you everyday to live more in alignment with what really matters, taking consideration of the foundation that you are building your life upon, so that you are living and not merely existing. Small steps, after all, lead to changed lives as the years roll by. God bless. x

 

 

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Slow down, just breathe, & live a little deeper this year… Part 1

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It’s January 7th 2018, and I don’t know for how long it is reasonable to talk about the ‘New Year’. One thing I do know however, is that it is always a good time to reflect upon our lives, and to consider whether there are ways we can do things differently, and to look for new opportunities and new beginnings. 

I don’t know about you, but I tend to find that as I get older the years seem to hurtle by (at least they did until more recently) in a way in which they didn’t when I was very young. Summers seemed to last forever, and every experience had  a certain weight to it. I can remember squinting against the sun, and collecting molten droplets on my eye lashes. I remember sitting on the floor in the gym hall in primary school where we also had to wait in line for lunch, and where we had school assemblies, and noticing the way in which shafts of sunlight streaming through the high up windows caught falling dust particles that wouldn’t otherwise be seen. Sometimes experiences and boredom seemed to drag on, such as on rainy days when my parents were sleeping and I wanted to play, or sitting a test or waiting for that friend to come out to play. And yet, even in these times, I can remember being able to find simple, imaginative solutions to the problem of boredom by becoming wholly engrossed in my own playful reveries. Sometimes on days spent outside, and especially with friends, the possibilities of adventure seemed endless. And on rainy days inside playing by myself, I distinctly and vividly remember the worlds and adventures that I created all by myself and became engrossed in. Perhaps you can relate to these feelings from your own earlier experiences. Don’t get me wrong, my childhood wasn’t always a happy time, and sometimes not by a long shot, but still there were times when I was present, absorbed in the moment of play or adventure, and oblivious to the passing of time. 

Perhaps you think, that’s all well and good, but as adults we can’t spend our time staring off into the distance when there are so many responsibilities and so much to do, and with every passing moment, and accumulating task, so little time. To which I’d like to remind you of those two little words that mean so much to so many of us, with a weight and force to stop us in our tracks: “Burn Out”. 

Ironically enough, I have returned to my blog and am commencing this paragraph after stepping away to check on the food in my oven, when my leg brushed against the front of the open oven door causing me to gasp at the burning sensation! If ever there was an appropriate and timely lesson in mindfulness and avoiding burn out, that was it! Don’t worry, I’m ok 🙂 ….. 

Taking this to be a natural pause in ‘Life as it happens to be’, I’ll leave you momently to consider your own thoughts as I concentrate on monotasking and enjoying my dinner, so that I can focus all of my thoughts on part two of this post, to be continued later…. x

 

Daily Prompt: ‘Distant’

Daily Prompt – Distant

You’ve been here before. Looking out to the horizon, the wide expanse of sea and sky reaches forth to meet you, where right now you feel the sand and grit between your toes, as gentle waves lap around your feet. A gull wails in the far, far distance, and other seabirds respond with their own distinct cacophony of cackles.

You spy a razor shell covered with sand. You desire to reach down to smooth off the sand from between its intricate ridges. But the presence of seaweed draws out your hesitance, and you simply stare. You are lost in the reverie you find in the rock pools around you. A crab scuttles into view, distorting the patterns of your peaceful daydream. You lift a foot, shaking off the sand, and begin to walk away.

People come and go all around you, and yet this is your beach. You hold fast to your solitude even in this multitude. You look back to see your trail of footprints, and forwards at the untouched sand. Around you there is the vibrancy of life. Children run and play, weaving their way in and out of the patterns on the sand, splashing in the water and squealing with delight. Sandcastles are built and gleefully demolished. A red and yellow kite catches the wind, falters and then soars high into the bright blue sky as a gust triumphantly lifts it. Somewhere in the distance you can hear the clip clop of horses hooves. People walking dogs come and go, and life goes on and on in this one vibrant unfolding shared story on this beach, where everything is now.

You pull the kite string of your mind to try to both tether yourself and to fly free as you catch a fresh breeze. But this tension within you constantly flutters. Why does it seem that everything you long for is always in the distance, beyond a horizon that you can never quite arrive at?

Perhaps it is because you yourself are distant. Never fully allowing yourself to be here and now, present in the life you are living, the life that other people’s dreams are made of…..?  (c).P1110011.JPG