Inspired by my dear friend Gala Darling, I’m taking my love lists out of my (midnight blue, star-spangled) journal and sharing them with you.
It’s been so misty here. I’ve been enjoying our woodburning fire, essay writing for college and puppy cwtching time. I am truly grateful for every beautiful day and for all the safety and support I have in this time and place.
Here are some more things I’m grateful for…
Little Things I Love:
* Crunchy leaves under my wheelchair wheels.
* Finding two marvellously iridescent feathers and trying to imagine what bird they could be from (what birds have rainbow feathers?).
* My peace lilies blossoming.
* Switching from a smartphone to a retro phone.
* Getting a pencil torch (metallic scarlet) to replace my smartphone torch and playing with it ALL the time ‘Do you need a torch? I HAVE ONE HERE!’ <-- me, constantly.
* Watching the dogs be amused/bemused by pumpkins.
* Drinking tea from a beautiful handmade teapot.
* Making up gorgeous and delightful ethical self-care subscription boxes
(Ok, there may be some chocolate and Netflix, but only if they are right for you, and no unconscious choices and definitely no added guilt)
You know those days when you just can’t even?
When adulting or even getting breakfast feels a million miles away?
If you’ve had a bad night, a flare, a pain spike, the grief is doing a number on you or the anxiety just won’t quit and give you space to breathe?
I’ve been there, I feel you.
Often in these situations, we are told to get it together, to shift our thinking, shake up our mood and make the day AWESOME. And that’s all well and good, but I have found in my trailblazing wellness coaching practice and my personal experience that sometimes these exhortations to be great can feel bullying, shaming or yet another thing we haven’t reached.
I want to present an alternative.
Perhaps we are having a bad day for no reason we can see, but the fact is, we are feeling bad. That’s our experience. Sometimes it’s more compassion to ourselves and more healing, in the long run, to just let a bad day be a bad day. To not put pressure on it our ourselves and just let it be. Then see what happens.
Side note: I don’t actually call them bad days, myself. Because I am concerned with labelling sadness, anxiety, anger, regret, pain, grief, loneliness or similar feelings ‘bad’. I think they are painful, sure. They are uncomfortable, certainly. But they aren’t inherently wrong or worthless. They are a part, I believe, of being human. The other side of the coin of happiness, contentment, trust, confidence, ease, love, companionship and other feeling states we often label ‘good’.
But just as I have great respect for the shadows and what work our bodies and minds do in the darkness, I wonder if a life with only the ‘positive’ emotions would truly be like? Would it be a spiritual transcendence? Or would it be an exercise in denial and repression, always running away from the shadow side of life? How could we live in the world without being sad, angry, lonely or in pain, which so many things happen that are sad, and unjust and call those powerful, real, responses forth in us?
Just as I crave the rest of darkness and couldn’t live with the light on 100% of the time, so I find relief if letting myself be in the uncomfortable shadow times.
Instead of good days/bad days, I say optimum/non-optimum days, times when we feel at our optimum, perhaps with more comfortable, pleasant emotional sensations. And times when we don’t feel at our optimum. Because, no mistake, feeling all those darker emotions, can be painful, it can hurt hugely.
I have felt the hurt of a bad day we really, really wish was good.
The rising panic when they stack up and we can’t see an escape.
Growing resentment and self-doubt when we compare our painful reality to the edited online world which shows only the best. Which truly displays lives in only the best light (literally).
On a difficult day, what can we hope for?
Perhaps to contain it, to let it be a bad day and take action so that it doesn’t spiral and trigger other issues or expand into weeks.
To avoid the pressure and sense of failure from needing to make every day perfect.
Because you may have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce, but you don’t have the same resources. So let’s give you a break, huh?
And frankly, pitting women against each other without taking into account the intersecting frameworks for oppression and privileges that affect each one of us is simply an exercise engendering shame and disappointment.
So, what can we do?
1. Take care of basics
The pressure to feel wonderful can lead to further feelings of stuckness and disempowerment. Have you ever got to the point where you are so full of information and inspirational material that you can’t even get out of bed with the weight of all the wonderful, self-care things you aren’t doing?
Why? It takes you through the basics that humans need. So often we forget the basics. I know I all too often forget to drink water, say I will get up/go to the loo/take a break just when I finish this one thing….
Often when we feel awful it feels like we need a nuclear level solution.
I once had really, really awful nausea. It was so disabling, so awful.
Everyone told me to try ginger. Ginger tea, ginger capsules, ginger essential oil. Well, I’m afraid to say, I scoffed.
I thought, ‘Ginger? I don’t think you understand, I am sick! It is serious, it will take more than just ginger to sort this.’
I went for the powerful anti-emetics. Of course, you’ve guessed the end of the story. Eventually, I tried ginger and it helped so much, without any side effects.
Just because we feel seriously awful, doesn’t mean the only solution is a serious treatment.
Sometimes the simple, day to day things can make a huge difference. And if you want to go nuclear, try setting up all the basics first (if you are bed or housebound check out my new book on doing this accessibly) and then if you are still struggling, the nuclear option will still be there for you.
Often this saves a lot of hassle and money e.g if I take care of my back. I don’t need to see the osteopath so much. It’s boring, day to day work, taking breaks, using my roller, stretching in the morning, checking in to see where my pain levels are and what I need, but it makes the difference, daily and long term.
2. Take off the pressure
Often we are struggling, we are under a lot of pressure.
Have you ever had the experience of feeling awful and then feeling awful about feeling awful and then feeling trebly awful about all the things you aren’t getting done because you are having such a difficult time?
It’s so easy to fall into this cycle and it generally spirals downwards and feeds any sense of shame or not-enoughness we may already be carrying.
How to handle this? The useful question here can be ‘what can I do to take the pressure off?’
Often we feel we have ‘got’ to do things, but do we?
What are the things you have got to do? And how can you give yourself a break from everything else, just to take the pressure off?
In my work, Blazing Hearts Flight School Coaching: Pursuits and Passion for People Living With Limits (previously Phoenix Flight School) we work on setting up systems. Systems hold things so you don’t have to. We can often automate much more than we out think – and I don’t mean by outsourcing your life to underpaid overseas virtual assistants – but by, as systems goddess and all around good
Systems hold things so you don’t have to. We can often automate much more than we out think – and I don’t mean by outsourcing your life to underpaid overseas virtual assistants – but by, as systems goddess and all around good
We can often automate much more than we out think – and I don’t mean by outsourcing your life to underpaid overseas virtual assistants – but by, as systems goddess and all-around-awesome-human, Michelle Nickolaisen teaches, looking at what you do over and over and making a formula for it. Then checking if any of those sites can be held by someone/thing other than you.
e.g meds on repeat prescription, reminders to book your next chiropodist appointment when you finish your current one, having the groceries you may use on repeat order etc.
An ‘at the very least list’ is a list you make if what you will do even on a ‘bad’ day.
This will be individual to you, but it could be; getting dressed, taking your meds (if any), having some food, having some non-screen time, connecting with someone or doing something restful.
How do you make your own Self-Care Kit? Well, I’d love to help you design one, so book a free consult here. But if you’d like to put together your own, the first thing is to get a box, designate it as your Self-Care Kit and then keep it in mind. Fill it with things you love, you can begin by looking around your house and asking if there are any letters from loved ones, postcards that make your laugh or funny cartoons etc. that you like and add them to the box. Keep thinking of your box and you will keep adding resources, and use the box when you need.
If these ideas resonate or intrigue you, why not conduct a personal experiment, try and see how you find it?
Bookmark this page and come back to it when you are low.
Make your ‘At the Very Least’ list and save it in your journal or your phone. Try setting a 5-minute timer now and making a draft list, then try it out when you next have a difficult day and refine as needed. Each non-optimum day will give you more data to polish and personalise your plan.
List the 3 things you repeat most regularly (like paying a bill, ordering food, running out of something or repeating something). See if you can find a system for one of those this week. Set up a standing order, get a repeat delivery or prescription, set up a reminder to order or write a canned response in gmail). Your future-self will thank you.
Begin making (or order) a self-care kit and use it when needed.
What’s your way to manage non-optimum days? Let me know in the comments!
Do you ever look at other people’s lives (as displayed on social media) and feel you are missing out? That your life too could be beautiful, perfectly placed, fun and meaningful, if only you were doing it right, or not doing something wrong. Or something….
#FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is real for so many people. It’s especially challenging if you are feeling excluded for reasons of disability, accessibility, discrimination or exclusion, if you have caring responsibilities and those aren’t supported (e.g no time off for caring roles or creche or childcare provided).
I can’t make it ok, I know. But I can share how I handle living a life free of FOMO:
Highlight reel v.s behind the scenes
Social media can be wonderful and beautiful. It connects us, inspires us, includes us and allows us to be involved, to stay in touch with loved ones, to witness and support events unfolding across the world, from our own beds.
But social media can also be tricky. It grew as personal sharing, but so often it’s commodified. Those gorgeous photos you see…may not have been snapped with someone’s smart phone. There may be lighting, a photographer, hair and make up people, and a stylist.
Someone may have spent hours planning and curating those designs. And that’s ok.
But if we compare the results of all that work, (even the ‘natural, casual, lifestyle’ shots), to our own actual-in-person lifestyle, it’s easy to feel less-than.
(And quite frankly, we often have many people/systems already telling us we are less-than. We don’t need any more.)
When I find myself in this situation, I think, ‘don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel’. You don’t know what it’s like in reality. And their social media isn’t an unedited, behind-the-scenes version of their reality.
All those sneek peaks and #nomakeup selfies may be carefully curated. It’s like ballet, part of the art is making it look easy.
When you look at a magazine or a television show, you recognise that it is probably photo-shopped, or styled or scripted. You don’t expect ‘real life’, which is too beautiful and painful, terrifying and frustrating, glorious and messy to look like those glossy images.
What happens if we extend this to view social media too? How would that impact your use? Why not try it for a day and see how it feels?
Bad things happen to everyone, we are just familiar with our own
Few people share their bad hair days, small dream losses, daily trials and tribulations on social media. Because of this, we often see the only good times. And it can feel everyone else is singing and swinging their way from strength to strength. Or that nothing ever happens to them, not illness or burning the toast or anything painful.
But we likely don’t know what it’s like for other people, because we aren’t them. We can think we know and they can act like they are sharing everything with us. But sharing everything is a tall order and happens less often than we might suppose.
There are people who seem to have lives which go swimmingly. People who plan their year knowing their health will likely be the same at the beginning as at the end. They can make plans, you see. And you, maybe, feel like you can’t make plans, because of flares and caring and all the other struggles that you balance daily.
Here’s the thing, they can’t make plans either. No one knows what will happen. Their plans are like yours, just hopes. Yet you have a good idea of what your main challenge will be, where your vulnerabilities are, because you work with them daily.
For me, I know energy and mobility are a challenge. Does it stop me doing things I would otherwise do? Sort of, I have to change my priorities and do things in different ways.
Does it give me good information about the part of a plan that’s vulnerable (the energy and mobility part), so I can make plans for contingencies? Yes, it does.
It’s not necessarily worse for me, I just have more information on my upcoming challenges.
How does it feel to reframe your challenges as advanced information? Does this change how you make plans?
I’m Happy at Home
We aren’t always happy at home. But if we are living a life we love, living well and doing work or creation that’s meaningful to us then it may matter less if we ‘miss out’.
Because we aren’t missing out because we can’t get somewhere, but because we are prioritising our own loves, passions and lives.
A good life is still possible, if we re-invent our dreams.
L’Erin Alta is a spiritual mentor for resilient women who have survived a great something and cobbled their lives back together, Tour Guide Through the Shadowy Places, High Priestess of Sacred Space, Deep Listener and the soul guide. She’s graced the cover of Inspired Coach Magazine and she runs retreats, workshops and one on one intensives for women to connect to their deepest truths.
[Trigger Warning: Mentions of violence, racism, abuse]
In this month’s link round up, I want to put the focus on amplifying voices, especially BIPOC voices, that need to be heard.
I think it’s clear that #BlackLivesMatter and Nazism/Alt-Right/White Supremacist/Terrorism is wrong and needs to be stopped.
However, I don’t feel it’s useful to share my emotions around Charlottesville here because, as a non-U.S white woman, it’s not my place and the voices that need to be heard are not mine. But I can keep doing my own work of dismantling the white privilege that I as a white woman, (unintentionally but unjustly) benefit from and share the voices of people who do need to be heard. I am doing my best not to centre my white emotions…
“It’s hard to know the right thing to say, at a time like this. I might stumble over my words and make mistakes in my communication, but I will not be silent.” – Bari Tessler
And I am opening up my monthly no fee listening space, so I can listen and support people impacted by these events.
No Fee Listening Support
I’m Grace_Quantock on Skype, and I am opening up no-fee listening space for anyone impacted by the current challenges our societies are experiencing.
I don’t have all the answers, but I can, however, listen. Just call in on Skype: Saturday 19th August 2017.
Disclaimer: By participating in this consulting session over the phone/ web, you acknowledge that, though I am a professional, I am unable to conduct the extensive analysis that I would in an in-person setting. Therefore, the advice I provide during our consulting sessions is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for in-person professional work. The information provided in the consulting session should not be considered a substitute for in-person evaluation by a therapist to address your individual needs. By participating in my office hours listening sessions, you acknowledge that I am not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and my services do not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Listening is in no way to be construed or substituted as psychological counselling or any other type of therapy or medical advice. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skills and care. However, I cannot guarantee the outcome of coaching efforts and/or recommendations on my work and my comments about the outcome are expressions of opinion only. I cannot make any guarantees other than to deliver the listening services offered as described.
Personal Mythmaking: I can’t wait to begin. Plus, Janelle asked me to share that she has a couple sliding scale rates for folks that have financial challenges but sincerely want to participate, and they can get in touch with her for more details.
This website/blog is an educational and informational resource for people living with illness, pain, disability, mental illness, and life crisis.
It is not a substitute for working with a doctor, registered psychologist or other professional. I cannot guarantee the outcome of following the recommendations provided and my statements about the potential outcome are expressions of opinion only. I make no guarantees about the information and recommendations provided herein.
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