Not going to lie, life has been rocky of late.
And it's fun at this age as a woman, because you get to pick from an absolute abundance of theories about why that might be:
Could it be hormones?
Could it be work?
Could it be finances?
Could it be health?
Could it be entering a whole new era of parenting / self-worth / friendships / life purpose / relationships / cognitive ability / sleep / physiology or a terrifying twisting of your good old fashioned sense of identity?
Could it be all of the above?
I won't bore you with the details. Why? Because I recognise that my blogging space is usually reserved for pondering on the beautiful things and I want to keep your reading experience as bright and shiny as possible. There's enough doom and gloom in the world. Chances are, you have some of your own doom and gloom that you've brought along (don't worry - they're welcome here) so I don't want to add to it by outlining in minute detail why my life has been the arse end of tits up lately.
At age 45, I'm finally getting to know more about what I need during emotionally challenging times. If you follow this blog on the regs, then you'll know I'm a huge fan of mindfulness, yoga, meditation and other forms of self care. But do you know what? When you're absolutely in the thick of things, I'm not sure how possible these things are. At least, not in their fullest, most combative forms.
Take mindfulness for example. It's great to practice when things are good, and I'm all for a half-hour body scan or a mindful walk. But when I'm at an all-time low, does my mindfulness look like it does in the magazines? Absolutely not. It will come in the form of an intense appreciation of the weave of my smelly duvet. Or the stinging burn of a freshly made mug of tea against my palms. Still valid mindfulness practices? I'd argue yes.
What about yoga? Contrary to popular belief, the word 'yoga' does not mean 'look like a hippie goddess' or 'washboard abs are the only way'. In Sanskrit, the word 'Yoga' comes from the root word, 'Yuj', meaning 'union'. Union of mind and body. Union of person and planet. And in my case, in recent weeks, union of all the crap in my life. Instead of aiming to stand on my head, I have been aiming to put one foot in front of the other. Instead of mastering the art of Pranayama, I've been lucky to get a breath out that's not steeped in worry. If I've had enough breath to ask the Lads to please turn off You Tube, I've considered myself a yogic wiz, thank you very much.
And as for meditation? Well, I'm not ashamed to admit that my meditation game has been virtually non-existent. As a trained mindfulness teacher, I know all too well the potential benefits if I could just put aside that magic twenty minutes. But I also know how vulnerable that could make me and if there's nobody there to help hold me together then why would I do that to myself? I wouldn't. I haven't. And meditation is not going anywhere, is it? It'll welcome me with open arms when I'm ready to go back.
So what have I been doing to get myself through some recent tough times? Well, please take the following with a healthy pinch of salt as I'm aware that one woman's medicine is another woman's poison. But now that things are settling, and I can look back on the past couple of months without bursting into tears, here's what I think has got me through:
Ain't no shame in it. Some people go inward and deal with things very much in an insular way. That's not me. I need to process everything verbally. But I've been very careful about who I do this with and only the best people have made it to the meet-up / texting / phone call stage. Thanks in masses to all of them.
Even when I think it's absolutely the last thing I need, I have forced myself out of the front door and into nature. Filling my lungs with something other than self-pity has such a transformative effect, that I sometimes even smile in spite of myself. And that's a good thing.
I've noticed that when I'm really flirting with depression, I tend to reach for boxsets that are truly dark and gripping. This might seem counter-intuitive but watching a psychological thriller ALWAYS brings me comfort. A friend of mine suggested recently that maybe my brain is going through the dark stuff anyway and needs a way to channel it. When she said this, something dinged in my soul. That's exactly why I do it.
Give me an hour of quiet, a duvet and a book and I'm good to go. Of course, this is often the case when I'm happy too, but some medicines just work all the time, right?
My brother once advised me to listen to podcasts when I'm down. "Listen to something light," he said, "and one day, before you know it, you'll be laughing along with them and you'll have turned a corner without even making much of an effort." He's right. He's very, very right.
My Baby Niece
I became an auntie for the first time in February and I have honestly never known a feeling like it. So, whilst I've been struggling to get out of my own way in recent weeks, I've dedicated a whole, joyous album to her on my phone and flick through it when I need some quick-fire therapy. Sometimes she video calls me with her mum and, well, you have to bring me down off the ceiling it makes me so happy.
The Lads have had ALL the hugs recently. Not least because they were once as cute as my baby niece, but also because they are mine and I made them and they are wonderful. Yes, even when they are moaning for money and lifts and more Pot Noodles.
Soz, men, but the chicks generally have the upper hand here. My female friends have offered me comfort in abundance and why? Because they get it. And if they don't get it, they want to get it or they will get it or getting it doesn't even matter because the empathy is operating like a fierce, loving alchemy. I love it.
There are probably way more things I did to help me through that weren't even conscious enough to make it into a bullet-pointed list. Probs things like eating chocolate, washing my armpits, wearing kind clothes and refusing to cook dinner. But the point I'm trying to make is that whatever it takes to get you through the crappy times, you go ahead and do it. Even if it's not text book - or even bullet-point - material.
One last thing. I will share that a lot of the worries I've had lately have been related to finances. Go figure. I mean, it's a very small percentage of us these days who don't have to fret about money, right? And ridiculously insensitive one-liners from ignorant (and privileged) economists about how 'poor people need to accept being poorer' do nothing to cool my boiling blood on this point.
However, this stuff is ruining my mental health and until finances improve, I need to do something to help my outlook. If I can't get extra work hours to bring in more cash right now, then I can at least rearrange some of my thoughts.
So, every night, before I go to sleep, I have made it a personal practice of mine for years to think of all the things I am grateful for that day. It can be anything from a smile one of my kids gave me, to a glowing book review. Over the last few nights though, I've reframed that slightly by asking myself: "In what areas of my life am I rich?"
This is basically because I'm fed up of feeling a distinct lack of things when really, I have SO much. I am rich in love, that's for sure. I am rich in friendship and creativity and light. Some days I'm rich in food. Other days I'm rich in tea and biscuits or fluffy socks or sunshine on my neck. Pleased don't tell the ignorant economist this, but it might be my only way through.
So tell me, lovely reader: in what areas of your life are you rich? Let's all feel like zillionaires until this country damn well sorts itself out.
Bloody love you.
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