Your Emotions are a Gift, Your Guide to Better Living

There is no doubt that each one of us is comprised of an ecosystem of thoughts, feelings (emotions), and behaviours. Each affects the others and the way that these interact affects the way we move through life. The question is: are our emotions ‘friend or foe’? Answer: our emotions are one of the best ways to know ourselves, and this self knowledge is one of the best free tools we have for dealing with life and its complexities. 

Emotions get a bad rap.

Women at home and in the workplace are often accused of being emotional at times of external or internal stress (life/relational or menstrual/physical), and Continue reading “Your Emotions are a Gift, Your Guide to Better Living”

Novels of Acquaintance – Opening Your Heart to Others

It’s a beautiful day when you can let others into your heart again after having been hurt by people. We’re all wandering around on this planet feeling just a little bit hurt. Can we see that in one another and make each other’s acquaintance? What is possible then? 

The sting of rejection hurts. We were born into this earth in need of connection, bonding, and love. Psychologist John Bowlby coined the term ‘attachment theory’, which explains what happens when we are not given enough security at early phases in life.

“Bowlby’s studies in childhood development and ‘temperament’ led him to the conclusion that a strong attachment to a caregiver provides a necessary sense of security and foundation. Without such a relationship in place, Bowlby found that a great deal of developmental energy is expended in the search for stability and security.”

It explains why, when you’ve had your heart hurt, and hurt again and again, you may develop quite naturally a psychological and behavioral pattern of coping as a means by which to get what you need in relationships and, conversely, protect yourself from the potential of being hurt or rejected.

Coping mechanisms of detaching or becoming anxious about others may develop if you’ve never felt loved enough or if you’ve been hurt severely. Suddenly the world you live in is a threat…here, there, and everywhere. You may find yourself retreating, becoming smaller than you really are or putting demands on yourself or others that can strain a relationship or interfere with your ability to cope with life independently.

It’s a hard way to live.

Pema Chodron, Buddhist leader of the Shambhala tradition of Buddhism, and a teacher who inspires me, talks about having a soft heart – an open heart – a receptivity to life that is without judgement, but rather it’s about staying with the pain in your heart, staying open to that and open to others, and if you can get there…staying open to appreciating the pain in others, too.

We may have different circumstances and stories, but we’ve all walked through life and been on the receiving end of emotional injuries. We’re all just a little bit affected.

The song ‘Novels of Acquaintance’ by Rising Appalachia speaks to having the openness to connect with others. It speaks to me because when I first moved back to Saudi Arabia in 2015, and quite naturally as an expatriate put my guard up as so many of us do and decided I would not let others get too close to me, it worked for a bit, to give me the time to assess the situation I found myself in. But with time, this decision no longer served me.

This year I opened my heart and decided to allow connections to form. It’s brought some lovely people into my world. As a friend said to me earlier this year, “Can you allow yourself to connect with people who are not your best friends?” That was a new idea. I decided to give it a try.

It’s been a marvellous journey, bringing down the walls.

To your journey,

Novels of Acquaintance – Rising Appalachia

I met you over mountain moon
Bander riffs and fiddle tunes
Sugar river stair creek first

Once now twice now every weekend
Lean in beloved friend
Bits of tender reel me in
Tip the cup and pour the rubies
Wild laughter, lust and beauty

Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance
Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance

Thank you dear family
for stepping up unanimously
Everywhere we’ve gone we’re home
Voice for glory grace where shown
It’s Boundless what we’re in
The movements growing, spreading kin
Teach me treasure, grow me strong
Give me strength in every song

Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance
Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance

Dear quiet mystic neighbor
Hears to trails and trails of paper
A firm footed letter lover
You’re the best thing I’ve discovered
It’s a love song it’s true
No hints no riddles no clues
No threats no strings no bound
And, damn, maybe you make me grounded

Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance
Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance

I’d never be here without
All your hands rejoice and shout
You who came broke and weary
Sick step into the clearing
Let this be a moment healing
I see you picture perfect
Rise together lose no faith
That I’ve got you and you’ve got me

Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance
Yeahh
Fine tune me with patience
And I’ll write you
Novels of acquaintance

 

 

You Raise Me Up – Know Who Loves You

Sometimes people can be cruel. They can be cruel even as adults, due to their own ignorance – ie. the lack of awareness and sensitivity or the misguided intent to harm…and also due to their own limited capacity for feeling the feelings of others. When one is the beneficiary of this unkindness, what is one to do? 

The oh-so-very human instinct is to lash out, to criticize, to confront, to tell off, to blame and rage. You are hurt, and you feel threatened. You may even feel disbelief.

But if you examine this option and find it to be what Buddhists call the ‘wrong action’, either because it diminishes you or the other/s, perhaps the only way through these senseless and heartless attacks is to turn the cheek, as the old saying goes. Hard to do. I believe what it really means is to turn your attention away from this harshness and towards those who have love for you.

Turn towards your lover or a close friend, or if you are a believer in a faith, then turn towards your spiritual source. Be lifted by those who love you.  And know this: you are in better shape than these people who walk through life in a state of disingenuity and loathing.

If you recognize such individuals are no longer good for you, then release them. Disconnect. Let them go. If they are in your world, know your boundaries. Draw them in an assertive but friendly manner. Kill them with kindness, if you must…genuinely. They will hate this, but you will not be actively engaged in the battle they want to evoke in you. You will have risen above this. Power to you.

In Buddhism, ‘evil’ is known as the extreme lack of conscience, the lack of the capacity to feel remorse when going against one’s values. For all kinds of reasons, people lack conscience. But recognize it, look after yourself, and move on. Think of such people with a form of pity or compassion.

Whether you realize it or not, your life is better than that of the other person or people who would seek to harm you. Let those who love you be the ones to lift you up and remind you of how truly spectacular you are. In turn, put your attention on those you love or those who need your love.

This is why we are alive.

PS. All of these versions of this song, ‘You Raise Me Up’ by Josh Groban, are beautiful. But I prefer most the sweet, sweet cover by Yianna Stavrou. This one is for you. Bathe in the beauty of that music. Let it lift your spirit.

You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban

When I am down and, oh, my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up to more than I can be.

Better When I’m Dancing – Let’s Kick Off Feeling Good, Right Now!

Winter can really take you down…flu, cold, complications, a cough that goes on for weeks. There’s January for you, especially if you’ve been out there commuting on public transport – trains, planes, and automobiles (busses). To hell with that! Now that the January blahs are over, it’s time to feel fabulous – FEBRUARY FABULOUS. 

Continue reading “Better When I’m Dancing – Let’s Kick Off Feeling Good, Right Now!”

There Will Be Time – Love Is Timeless

Grief upon grief upon grief upon grief. We grieve and survive, then grieve again. Every agonizing loss opens our hearts again and threatens to deepen the pain. That’s life. But perhaps it’s worth accepting that this is the way it is. Our memory is long. Perhaps it would be wise to stay in the moment, in the fresh truth and integrity of today’s loss, so that it may be fortify us with the reminder of our capacity for love.

Continue reading “There Will Be Time – Love Is Timeless”

Nothing to Fear – Let’s Respect Each Other’s Boundaries

What misery comes from trampling all over each other’s boundaries? What joy could come if we simply respected that we are separate entities, entitled to love freely but not with the expectations we are accustomed to? Until women are free from the shackles of ‘ownership’ by men, we are not in our power.  

Continue reading “Nothing to Fear – Let’s Respect Each Other’s Boundaries”