Life, when you look at it, is pretty much a sequence of goodbyes. We say goodbye when relationships end, when people move away, when changing jobs, and when someone passes - often without notice. These things all happen pretty frequently so it's probably worth getting good at saying goodbye.
Another thing that's worth doing is getting plenty of hellos. Our Aunty, who turned 100 earlier this year, is full of life yet the longer she lives the more goodbyes she must inevitably make. What's her secret? I believe it's the hellos. Aunty still performs, playing piano at nursing homes for many much younger residents, providing her with a constant stream of hellos. Meeting new people, making friends with some but not all of them. She also has an ever increasing number of great grand children, and she knows them all.
Being too settled can make us think we can't say goodbye, just one more reason for avoiding change in our lives. But the saying when one door closes another opens applies to many situations, provided you're looking towards the new door not back at the closed one. Leaving an old job can sound scary, but starting a new job is exciting. Saying farewell to colleagues, family or friends feels sad, but meeting a whole new group of people is interesting. Being the one who stays, when someone else leaves is often more difficult than leaving and a strong support network, built through hellos, can really help.
Changing neighbourhoods can also feel quite daunting, and you don't always want to become instant best friends with your neighbours. But there are plenty of other people in the community you can connect with – at the local shops, the library, the gym or swimming centre. It doesn't take long to become a familiar face and begin to enjoy that sense of recognition again.
But the unexpected goodbyes, the sudden departure of a loved one, these are the most difficult. There's no warning, no chance to say how much they mean to you, to give them one last hug. However preparing for these offers you the most opportunity.
For those people you assume will always be there, that you sometimes take for granted, there will come a goodbye. That's just how life is, so consider that they next time you see them. Make the most of your time with them, be fully present (not distracted on your phone or by problems), tell them what you like or love about them. Make sure they know now how you feel and it's not left until you're farewelling them, lest you part without them knowing. After all, you don't know which one of you will be going first.
So make today a day that matters. Make some new hellos, or reach out to someone you already know and let them know how much they mean before it's time to say goodbye.
This Beatles clips can be a good reminder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rblYSKz_VnI
We just spent a glorious morning walking along the coast before stopping for a bite at a local cafe. While it felt rather indulgent taking three hours out for breakfast, it also seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. You see this weekend sits between two significant events - the funeral of an uncle in his seventies and the 100th birthday of an aunt. Not surprisingly, the closeness of these two occasions made me somewhat reflective about how I’m choosing to spend my minutes, days, and years.
Pondering what I’d like to remember at the end of my life, I came up with some pretty familiar concepts: immersing myself in nature, connecting with spirit, and loving unconditionally. Basically, spending my time as a human being, not a human doing. So how do I approach that?
Every thought we have creates an energetic imprint. That’s how some people can read jewellery, tell you what happened in a haunted house, or just walk into a room and feel the tension. So I figure the best way I can spend my life is by leaving as many positive imprints as I can.
You create positive imprints when you’re happy. Doing things that put you in flow with the universe, practicing gratitude, being kind to others, all create positive imprints. Whereas giving until you are depleted, doing what you think is expected of you, or losing yourself in technology, conflict, or addictive behaviours will create negative imprints.
For me, treading softly on the planet, cultivating beautiful relationships, nurturing those close to you are all simple ways to generate an abundance of positive energy vibrations. But being able to do those things, often means putting your own health and happiness first. Sometimes this may feel indulgent, even selfish but making sure you’re in the best mood you can be in is often the simplest way to create beautiful, vibrant, low impact energy imprints to share with the planet. And if that means allowing three hours for breakfast, so be it.
What about you? What can you do to put yourself in a place of bliss to energetically give back to the planet?
I lost track of time the other day. Not hours or minutes. I lost track of how far into June we were.
Having woken up in a bit of a funk, I tried to pinpoint what was making me feel the way I did. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to work - I’m loving my job at the moment, but I was a little resentful of how many hours I was about to spend indoors and I realised I was longing for more daylight.
Thinking we were still around mid month I chided myself for not appreciating the moment. ‘Never wish for time to pass’ rang through my mind - sage advice I received from a cab driver when I was around fifteen wishing to be going on twenty-one. It had the sound of timeless wisdom when he said it and it’s informed many of my decisions and brought me out of impatience and into the present on countless occasions. Yet here I was wishing for more daylight.
So I stopped myself and began mentally rattling off all the things I have to be grateful for as I continued to get myself out of the house and off to work. Taking in the sky, trees, and birdsong along the way; being thankful for our brilliant transport system and the patience of the bus drivers; before finally arriving at work ready to suck it up and get on with it.
Settling into my emails with a cup of tea, I looked at the subject of the first one and was delighted to see “Happy Solstice”. I glanced down to check the date which confirmed it was indeed June 21st and realised today was the solstice. The shortest day and longest night that signals the return of the sun when the days, however slowly, begin to lengthen.
Like the sun breaking through the darkness, my mood immediately brightened as I realised I wasn’t in a funk, my energy was simply in tune with the earth mother’s position in relation to the sun. We were at our greatest distance from that huge ball of energy and I could feel it.
Beaming with relief, I didn’t beat myself up for not knowing it was the solstice nor did I berate myself for not posting about it or organising a ceremony. Instead I relished feeling that I was in tune with creation and made a point of blocking out time to go for a long walk at lunch to soak up some rays and replenish myself with the sunshine I’d been lacking. I then began to pass on the happy solstice greeting to others, all sharing that same spark when they realised we were passing our darkest day.
Missing a planned celebration of the solstice didn’t mean missing out. It simply provided a more spontaneous opportunity to look on the bright side - literally! It busted me out of my funk and inspired me to spend some time contemplating how to make the most of the rest of winter.
How about you? How are you celebrating the return of the sun as we move into the colder weather? Long walks in the middle of the days, cook-ups with friends, or snuggling up with a good book?
We’ve all had that feeling of heading back to work after a break. We want to go back feeling relaxed and refreshed, not tired and resentful. It’s challenging, especially if you’ve had a good time.
Today is that day for me and I know that in addition to catching up at work I have a couple of other deadlines to meet – this blog being one of them.
So what’s my approach? Mindfulness.
There’s abundant research on the benefits of mindfulness and meditation but most people still avoid the practice due to a misconception that it’s difficult, time consuming, and they don’t know how. So let’s take another look at what mindfulness is and how to bring it into an already busy schedule.
Mindfulness is simply that. Being mindful about what you’re doing and thinking about, right now. One of the easiest ways to get started is by doing ‘spot’ meditations. Rather than trying to find a teacher, a class, or somewhere to practice, look for a few opportunities throughout the day to take five deep breaths. Yep, that’s it. Just five.
Opportunities exist everywhere: before you clean your teeth, eat a sandwich or start the car; when waiting for a bus, train, lift or in a queue; or before you get ready to start your next task; simply stop, focus completely on your breath, and take five.
Another super technique for becoming mindful is practicing gratitude. You don’t need to buy a journal, commit to writing every morning or night, or call and thank anyone for anything. When you’re getting anxious, annoyed or agitated about something, simply stop and spend a moment thinking of three things you can be grateful for. If it’s your first day back to work after a break then having a job to help pay for holidays and bills, being well enough to go to work, and having transport options to get there could be your first three. Try thinking of three new things, a couple of times a day, and you will realise how well off you are compared to many others in the world.
Combining gratitude and spot meditations can bring calm in an instant. Admiring a tree, feeling the wind or rain on your face, or basking in the warmth of the sun, and taking five deep breaths is enough to bring about physiological changes that will help reset your stress response allowing you tackle your next task refreshed.
A third trusty technique is is action. Not mindlessly rushing into ‘doing’, but taking action mindfully to get things done. If there’s one big thing you know needs doing first, then start that one immediately. Otherwise, make a list and work out what’s reasonable to achieve in the day, or even just before your first meeting. If the list is the only thing you have time for, you’ll still be better prepared for the rest of the day. And when you arrive on time and your colleagues are late, you can be grateful for getting yourself organised, then use those few spare minutes to take five deep focussed breathes. You can then move through your day calm and refreshed – which was probably what you hoped to achieve on your holiday.
So that’s my three easy steps to mindfulness. I’ve now tackled my biggest task and my bus ride has about 10 minutes to go - perfect timing to pause for a few breaths before I start on my list.
If you’re interested in knowing more, a great meditation resource is Erich Harrison’s ‘The 5 Minute Meditator’.