A Note To Self

Firstly, apologies for my delay in blogging, in truth, my travels will soon be coming to an end, so I’ve been absorbing every moment before returning home.

I’d like to talk to you about something that has been on my mind for a while now and in truth I wasn’t sure on how to bring this topic up but in true Amy style I thought I’d dive head first into it and see what happens.
Over the past 15 months I have spent a lot of time in airports and have become somewhat of an expert in airport security and airport boredom. The trick for me is good food, a nice cup of tea (before the dreaded in-flight over-stewed tea) and nosing around the bookshop.

It was in an airport bookshop that I noticed something I hadn’t before, the size of the Self-Help section, well it’s not the size of the section but the overwhelming choice of books available, full to the brim of books with titles like “How To Get Rich Quick”, “The Power of Now, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How Not To Die” (yes honestly somebody wrote a book called “How Not To Die” I mean, there are no words to describe how pointless that one is!).

I’d like to make one thing very clearly, I am not criticizing those who seek or who feel they need Self-Help. I am in no way judging them because who am I to judge but what I am doing is raising my concerns regarding what appears like, our obsession with the Self. Personal development and care for one’s self is imperative, but I feel that the line has been crossed where the care and help we give ourselves has led us into an unhealthy relationship.
The self is important but so is caring for others, as a species we rely heavily on each other for survival, we are social beings who require a community, interaction and inclusion.

I think when people look to “fix themselves” they immediately look inwards but what about outwards? Who are you surrounding yourself with? Family? Friends? People who are good for you? No, then could it be that you are seeking rather than Self-Help? Look at your environment, Where you live? The job? The hours? The commute? Maybe what the person buying a Self-Help book is really seeking is change?

There is a school of thought that when someone buys a Self-Help book, they think that this might be “The One” with the answers to fix all their problems but what if there’s an alternative?
What if alongside Self-Care (rather than Self-Help), we looked at our surroundings like a problem-solving exercise, assessing and in a practically way viewing external sources as beneficial or non-beneficial? Some of you might say that this is too simple but it’s not, you are simply over complicating it, it’s Beneficial or Non-beneficial, no middle ground.
This is in no way selfish, this is in fact a form of Self-Care.
It does however require the person to make difficult choices and to change. Change and choices in life are inevitable so why fight it? So, what is stopping you from implementing this form of Self-Care?

Again, I am in no way criticizing anyone personally for giving themselves Self-Help , a phase that I’ve heard all the time whilst travelling Australia and New Zealand (especially in New Zealand) was “you do you” in other words, “I’m not judging you, you do whatever you need to, just do you”.

I have recently come across an article about Stoicism and I felt as though it was in line with my own values.
Stoicism is a philosophical theory based on rising above unhelpful or unhealthy emotions and not becoming attached to them, allowing the person to assess the situation logically, a focal point to stoicism is behaving virtuous towards others.                            Now I am by no means virtuous, but I know from personal experience, when you switch from being stuck in your own head to giving your time and attention to others, the gratification is almost instant and undeniable.
I have occasional bouts of insomnia and I have been known to do a 13 hour shift on less than 3 hours sleep. How I get through that day is by making a real effort to focus my attention on others and to be as pleasant as possible to them, regardless of how terrible I felt before I left the house (I do not always succeed).
I push aside my negative feelings and deliberately try with others and you know something? It makes me feel better. It is my reward to myself for facing the day, the gratification is more than any Self-Help book can give me and it’s immediate compared with Self-Care.

There is also another thought when considering our society’s need for Self-Care and Self-Help, if we gave those good for us our time and attention, whether that be family, friends or a good cause (volunteering as such) would any of us need so much time for Self-Care and Self-Help? I am inclined to think not but who knows the answer to that question. My Father’s favourite line was “Time Amy, time is the most precious gift you can ever give someone.”

Much Love Amy x

Brave

As most of you know this is a blog about my own personal journey. I wanted to share with you my most recent thought. I met up with an old friend from back home whilst in New Zealand. This friend has had a difficult road and her transformation has come from some hard lessons.
For privacy reasons I will refer to her as Jane don’t worry she’s not a Jane Doe (she’s very much alive and kicking) I feel very protective of her as I am putting our private conversation in the public domain.
It had been over five years since I last saw Jane, catching up with an old friend whilst on the road gave me feeling that I just cannot describe. Someone who already knows where you come from, your family dynamics and where you’ve been, there’s no need for an introduction or explanation. The joy of that warm hug, as the embrace is about to break there’s an extra little squeeze almost saying, “it’s so good to see you.” The feeling is Love.

As Jane and I sat looking at one another, we realised that we looked exactly how we remembered although five years had passed, and our waistlines had grown, grey hairs had appeared and there are more “laughter lines”. Like us our friendship had aged but our ability to sit and converse with ease had not been affected by our time apart.
We began with the information we had missed out on, two children, a divorce and a funeral, this was beginning to sound like a plot for a Hollywood blockbuster, a rom-com with Hugh Grant alongside terrible sound track.
As conversation flowed, the information was exchanged, and it became evident that we had both been through pain but in the end, this had helped us grow, to transform.

Jane told me of her troubles and the moment when she knew things had to change. Jane said “Amy, I was at home one day and I thought, why I am unhappy? I have a husband, children, a beautiful home and we are financially comfortable. This is everything I have ever wanted and it’s mine so why am I unhappy? Jane knew that the husband was not the man for her. Can you guess what my first thought was?
How brave Jane was. How brave of my friend to acknowledge that there was a problem.
How brave Jane was to go through the process of heartbreak, change and divorce.
The difficulties she must have faced when going through this transformation.
How brave she had been to face the hash realities, to take it on, to tackle it, to collide with the criticism, people once considered friends telling her that she was breaking the family up, questioning her abilities as a wife, blaming her for the marriage breakdown, those ignorant ridiculous people telling her that all that matters is the happiness of her children, clearly not understanding that children cannot be happy if their Mother or Father are miserable.

I see my brave friend, taking her life back and saying, “I’m not happy and what am I going to do about”, I tell her how brave I think she is and she brushed my compliment off as quickly I had given it and suddenly I realised I had done the same with people who told me that I was brave. Why had I not allowed myself to take the same compliment? This got me thinking about how I talk to myself. Now don’t pretend, we all talk to ourselves!
That inner voice that criticise, questioning our abilities and faith in ourselves when we are in need reassurance. There’s no in-between the voice either chips away or bellows.

I would never speak to a friend the way I speak to myself, why is that? I say this as if there is an answer, but I don’t think there is, in psychology there are only theories.
So, I have decided to be rebellious, I am going to put my big girly pants on and start being kinder to myself, show myself tolerance and even a little love.
I shall not berate myself in front of the mirror, I shall not daydream about being a size ten, I shall not say “oh if only” or “I wish” instead I shall say replace the negative with a positive and why the hell not! I like my hair! I am brave for travelling worldwide and you know something, I worked hard for this and I deserve this.

It was on this day, sat outside a well-known coffee shop with my brave friend that I decided I am going to be kinder to myself, I am going to compliment myself and say YES, I am brave, and this adventure is mine for the taking. I am a strong person, I take charge of my life, I don’t know where it will lead me but in the words of David Bowie “I don’t know where I am going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

If any of this resonates with you then I want to reassure you that YOU are brave, you may not know it, but I promise you, you are. We all waver from time to time but if something or someone costs you your happiness it will never be worth it because after all happiness is priceless.
I’ll leave you with this quote from A.A Milne (the author of Winnie the Pooh) “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

Love Amy x

P.S Piglet is my favourite 😊