#FindingMySpark

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Today I am starting a new project, and I would LOVE for you to join me!

I have been feeling constantly exhausted and apathetic over the last few months. I’ve been eating a lazier diet, drinking more red wine, gaining weight, feeling physically ill literally every day and living in a constant state of anxiety, lethargy and insomnia. Clearly something isn’t right. But the worst part is, I don’t know how to fix it.

I already take anti-depressants to aid depression and anxiety, and am in recovery from my dermatillomania. So having days where I don’t feel great, or inspired, or I don’t feel anything at all, is to be expected.

In addition, I have a life purpose problem. I desire – and, if I may venture to sound a bit confident in myself just for a minute – I feel intuitively that I am here to contribute to the world in some meaningful way.

Trouble is, I don’t know how. People say “do what lights you up” but I haven’t found that spark. And trust me, I’ve been really looking for it, for a really long time, in many different places.

And then this idea came to me today:

Every day I will post on Twitter (and if it’s a picture I’ll post it on Insta too) a thing that has made me feel a bit of a spark during that day.

My ‘why’ for this is threefold:

First – over time, providing I am consistent with posting at least once a day – which in itself will feel like a massive effort – I will build up a picture of the recurrent themes, topics, role models, etc which have given me a little bit of that “what lights you up” feeling. I am hoping that this information will in itself trigger a bigger lightbulb moment in terms of my own personal purpose and what makes me feel passionate.

Second – it will be like a happiness/inspiration diary that I can look back on and give me nice feelz 😊

Three – I believe that honesty and transparency about mental health and these bigger life questions helps to unite people globally.

I am going to be honest if I don’t feel anything at all, or I feel crap, or I don’t feel a spark. Why force it? I want to cover the whole gamut of emotion within inspiration and purpose.

So how does this involve you? 

Because I would love you to get involved too!

Share with me, and with others, what made you feel something today.

Lets help everyone who knows they have a greater purpose than the life they are living right now, but can’t figure it out.

Lets help the people who are feeling lost or apathetic or purposeless.

Lets help those whom don’t feel anything at all today.

Because my philosophy is anything’s worth a try, right?

Use the hashtag #findingmyspark – and either hashtag me with #freedombirdie and/or tag me on @freedombirdie on Twitter and @freedom_birdie on Insta so I can follow your journeys. And let’s start sharing!

I can’t wait to get started! xxx

 

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News From Under the Mountain

Hi everybody,

I love this quote. It reminds me that it’s ok to have those moments in life where you need to retreat under a rock for a bit. Or in this case, a mountain! It’s just part of the process of recharging yourself so that you can come back stronger.

I am in a weird place right now. In some ways I should be thriving: I am at home all day so it’s the PERFECT opportunity to pump my time and energy into my Etsy store, and this blog, and my YouTube channel (I have empty vegan products cluttering up my staircase waiting to be filmed!).

But I’m not thriving. I’m not really doing anything. Except picking. I’m picking a lot. The area I pick has extended across my backside, all the way down my left leg and across my back. I’m now restricted to wearing grey or black (as chances are if I’m in my bedroom to get dressed or undressed, I have just picked), and covering up my legs and shoulders. And while we may have shit summers in Britain it’s still a bit too warm to be walking round in black tights and long sleeves!

So I feel like I’m carrying a disgraceful secret. And not just externally but internally. I feel weirdly out of touch and emotionless, like I don’t have any energy for anything. It could be my anti-depressants, perhaps, although I haven’t changed brand or dose. It could be a new wacky + wonderful reaction to stress – isn’t it amazing how the body always finds new ways to tell you you’re unhappy.

The scars I’m creating on my body are essentially a massive signpost for the casual observer to stare at me and judge ‘hmm, something’s off about this one’. I feel ugly. Monstrous.

But I’m not writing this for anyone to feel sorry for me. I am still here, and have much to be grateful for.

I am trying to remind myself about divine timing. I am exactly where I am meant to be, experiencing exactly what I’m meant to be experiencing. And when the time is right, which will be chosen by my Soul, I will move through it and onwards and upwards. Can’t rush the process, gotta learn the lessons.

And I love my blog too much to let it go 🙂 Writing soothes me and cheers me up!

So Thank You for reading and sticking with me, and I promise you more content soon from this little Birdie!

The Blessing in the Bleurgh

You know that moment when you finally tip over from ‘coping’ to ‘that’s it I’ve had enough!’.

I’m there.

I can’t, at this stage, disclose why. I just wanted to write to get all the feels and thoughts out, although now I’ve started I feel pretty ‘bleurgh’. It’s not that I want any sympathy or any attention, I don’t. I want to turn this horrible energy into something useful, or positive. I want to use it somehow. But it’s too heavy just now.

I am dithering whether to retreat into my shell over the next few days and do some intensive self-nurturing or put on a brave face and carry on as usual. At the moment the first option is winning.

The POSITIVE side, however, is that now I’m having this ’emotional/mental wreckage sort of a day’ I can appreciate how well I was keeping it together before! I can put up with an awful lot before I hit the slump.

Tonight I am going to drink as much water as I can. I will go to bed early and read quietly. I will sit with the feelings but try not to linger unhealthily long with them. Then I will ask my angels to grant me a dream tonight about happy things, like cakes and love and more cakes 🙂

And I’ll remember that I’ll feel different soon, when the time is right.

Dip a Toe into the Discomfort Zone

You know those times when you just feel ‘meh’? I’ve been there lately. I’ve been having lots of good ideas but I haven’t taken any action. I haven’t been fighting for my dreams, I haven’t been proactive in the slightest.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, I accept these phases as the universe’s way of telling me to rest myself.

Then last night, it came to its natural end. I felt ready to resume business again.

I thought, “I’m ready to stop making myself small. My dreams may look unrealistic to everyone else but I’m gonna try anyway!”.

Because what’s the alternative, if you don’t try for your dreams and your goals? 

Well, you will definitely fail at them.

And if they’re that important to you, you will live to regret not trying.

And you may feel bitter and angry with yourself.

Whereas……

For the sake of the discomfort in stepping out of your comfort zone…

For the sake of exposing your heart + soul for others to see/ignore/mock/criticise…

For the sake of committing some of your time and energy, and some blood, sweat and tears…

You could succeed at something that makes you really happy!

It’s worth a try, right? 

I have been guilty of choosing to preserve my energy and my playtime by doing nothing, instead of working EVEN HARDER at my dreams.

And I have definitely been guilty of being too scared, too shy and too negative.

Look – if we don’t try, we will never know!

So I am going to try very very hard to TRY even when it feels scary, pointless, doomed or rubbish. 

What about you? Can you dip just one toe into the discomfort zone today, and do something towards YOUR dream?

Worriers: cut yourself some slack!

Are you one of those people who has the same thoughts, worries or concerns going through their mind over and over on rotation?

And even though you acknowledge it, you’re reaaaaaally really bad at stopping yourself from doing it?

Do you ever think “how do other people manage to put worries to one side and maintain a happy positive attitude?”

Or maybe you just conclude sadly that you must be genetically predisposed to worry and see a negative slant to everything?

*sigh* I know how ya feel!

Perhaps we do ourselves an injustice though.

Maybe we do manage to go 10 minutes, 20, 30, an hour, without thinking about the thing we’re worrying about – we just don’t notice it?

Or – if current thinking (pun not intended) is correct and we have 35-48 thoughts per minute, then surely half of that minute at least must be spent thinking about things other than the worry?

As somebody who worries, stresses, procrastinates and obsesses A LOT, these little presumptions make me feel a bit better. A bit less powerless.

Plus, self-awareness is a good thing.

As long as it doesn’t lean over into obsession. I have no medical expertise so I can’t specify the difference but in my experience I notice that I think about some things waaaaay too much and also I close myself off to people around me because I’m SO engrossed in my own journey.

We shouldn’t compare ourselves.

We must remember: it’s not like those people with happy positive attitudes don’t have worries. We don’t know their inner world. Maybe they aren’t deep thinkers. Maybe they aren’t self-aware. Maybe they are intensely private.

And also, they don’t have mindfulness nailed. Because nobody has mindfulness nailed. Mindfulness is an ongoing, constant practice.

Why are we worriers so different? Don’t know, don’t care!

It’s like trying to understand the actions of your narcissist ex-boyfriend who cheated on you or your so-called friend who bitches that you never call her but she never calls you.

If we try to figure out if and why, I think we would end up winding ourselves up and feeling confused, stressed and inferior. So don’t bother! Just don’t go there. It won’t serve you.

Just focus on you. Practice mindfulness – observing your thoughts and letting those that do not serve go on their way.

Like a train going through a train station – you don’t HAVE to board that train, you can let it go by.

Pushing through nasty self-doubt

Last week I decided to gift myself a 3.5 day workweek at the temp job, so I could get some extra rest and catch up on my business.

After a 3.5 day weekend I have added 3 new pieces to my second Etsy store loveandthebreath, one of which (pictured below) is now live.

I picked up a load of vintage stamps from an antiques fair and I’ve been enjoying exploring the mixed media style.

However that’s not why I’m writing this blog post.

I’m writing this because the first thing I did today, as I sat down for my final painting session of the weekend, was decide I’d just have a quick browse at the best way to photograph art canvases.

That’s how it started. So innocently!

Clicking onto Google Images I started to scroll, admiring the pieces and noting with casual objectivity the lighting and background of each photo.

Then I noticed an art piece made of stamps.

I clicked to enlarge it. Then I clicked on the ‘View More’ link beside it.

Long story short, I ended up on Pinterest scrolling through hundreds of ‘Postage Stamp Art’ boards as I got an increasingly nasty sinking feeling in my stomach. Oh yeah, and I started holding my breath!

Without meaning to, I had made myself feel like proper shit. I was suddenly confronted with loads of art that, naturally, obviously, was way more professional-looking and creative and just more deserving of a presence on this earth than mine.

I started to feel like a fraud. I was imagining that the minute my art goes live online I’m going to get bombarded with angry comments and emails telling me it’s crap and offensive and overpriced.

It actually made me feel sick, and I still feel sick hours later (thanks anxiety, THANKS!).

Normally I would’ve given into it and run upstairs to climb into bed and hide.

BUT…

This time, I persevered. How?

Well first I searched for uplifting music on YouTube: I found a long instrumental piece, one of those 2 hour spa soundtracks, and stuck that on, and concentrated on it. It was extremely hard at first because the last thing I wanted to do at that point was create anything, but it quickly took the edge off the power of my horrible self-doubting thoughts because I was distracted away from panicking about my breath and my imminent humiliation and failure.

And then I asked myself, which would make me feel better when I am sitting at my temp job on Monday morning:

  1. Thinking about the art pieces I told colleagues I was taking time off to create, and did indeed start, but didn’t manage to complete because I wimped out (plus added bonus: ridiculing and berating myself for calling myself an artist), or;
  2. Thinking about the art pieces I pushed through massive mental discomfort to complete and post online, and wondering who might be looking at them right now and thinking ‘cor that’s good’ and considering making a purchase?

That thought together with the distracting but peaceful music got me through.

Not only did it get me through; it got me to a place where I could still create despite how I felt.

Next time you get that sick heavy feeling in your tummy because your self-doubt is starting to kick in, try blasting some music – any music you can stand to hear in that moment – and then reframe the task you want to accomplish, in a way that makes you feel empowered not guilt-tripped.

Tell yourself the threat is in your head.

Be brave. Oh, and breathe. That’s important too.

Celebrating the smallest of accomplishments

I am rather proud of myself today.

I have managed to stay out of bed all day.

Lately I’ve been in one of my depressive funks where, if I’m bored or feeling overwhelmed by my myriad of thoughts or feelings, you will find me lying in bed staring at the ceiling or “meditating” (otherwise known as taking a nap).

Bed is the one place I feel really comforted, and if I’m especially keen to escape ‘me’ for a bit then going to sleep is the only course of action.

But of course, wasting a precious day off by lying in bed just makes me feel guilty. Guilty for being antisocial and neglecting the others in the house. Guilty for not doing anything productive. Guilty for wasting my life, and so on.

Today started off like most Sundays. My boyf went out and Baxter and I snuggled on the sofa. I watched a couple episodes of Portlandia on Netflix and then the sadness/guilt started to kick in, so I turned it off and put on some meditation music, ready for a good old wallow in emptiness/hopelessness.

And then, because the sun was out, I somehow managed to work up the energy to suggest to Baxter that we go for a walk. He ran to the front door tail wagging and so I had to follow through. As soon as I got out I found one step followed another easily enough, and we managed to walk for a whole hour. I walked past plenty of friendly people who wished me good morning, I appreciated the azure-blue sky and the warm sun, the grand old trees, the peaceful river, and the sweet pooch tip-tapping along by my side.

I next managed to avoid the allure of my bed after lunch. Instead of heading upstairs to bed I headed out on my own to a coffee bar with wifi where I am sitting now with a lovely chocolate frappucino and a blog post about to be published! Sure I logged onto airbnb first for a spot of dreaming and googled a few bits of other nonsense, but despite the dilly-dallying I have managed to write these 400-odd words.

At least when I am sitting at my temp job tomorrow, fretting over the future, I will know I did something this weekend.

I wish you all a peaceful Sunday.xx