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12 Things I now know about life

· Mindfulness,Transformation,Anne Lamott,Mums4achange,Tea

“Because of the darkness I see, I am willing to shine brighter.” Oprah Winfrey​

This is not for the faint hearted. I’m not going to pretend any of this is easy, so I’ll dive right in! Here's the 12 things I now know about life:

  1. Accept the things I cannot change. Pain and suffering are an unavoidable part of life. I really wish this wasn’t true and I hadn’t learnt it the hard way.  Good things happen.  Not so good things happen. There are things I can control, and then there are most things that actually I can’t. Acceptance allows me to be at peace with it rather than causing myself greater difficulty through fighting against my experience, or getting lost in impatience or reactivity.  When I can accept reality, I have discovered that I can be significantly calmer and happier. Then I can be a better friend, wife, mother, citizen of the world. "If you don't have suffering in your life, how do you understand what elation is, what fulfilment is?" Hilaree Nelson.
  2. If I’m not kind to myself, no one else is going to be.  I must have my own back. Do things that make my heart sing. Be creative, get outdoors, sing and dance - whatever keeps our boats afloat and makes us feel restored and revitalised. I will tend my garden.  I will not wait for permission to do this; I give myself permission. “Self care means giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.” Katie Reed
  3. The answer to everything, my whole life experience, starts with me. Looking externally for love, happiness, contentment through pretty much anything (except no. 7) is not sustainable and does not lead to a fulfilled life.  I am starting internally, building my own capacity first.  As a 9 year old in my class last week said, “Other people are so annoying!”  Is it others being annoying or us getting annoyed?  Which ultimately do we have more control over?  The only thing we really have control over is choosing our attitude and our response to any given experience. Water the positive seeds and enjoy the changes as they grow.
  4. There is only one life, however much we try to ignore this fact.  This truly is it.  None of us will get out of here alive.  So why not live our lives fully?  My life, and its quality, categorically depends on this.  At the same time, I have learnt the importance of simplifying. Just being, brings immense calmness and happiness.  Like Anne Lamott, I’m looking for something every day that I no longer need to do. Give space to listen to the whisperings of my heart, as it is true that there are a limited number of its heartbeats left.
  5. To be kind is the strongest quality there is.  Not soft at all.  There is real strength to act from a place of loving kindness and vulnerability. It is a radical act in an often angry and frustrated world.  I enjoy and prioritise time with friends and family, this is what we will wish that we had done from the perspective of the end of our lives.  And listen, really listen, to people.  This is a real gift we can give in these busy, distracted and often self preoccupied modern times.  “Listening is love in action.” Katherine Woodward Thomas
  6. Life is full of paradox.  There is joy, there is sadness - in pretty much every moment.  There is beauty, there is war, and there are natural disasters and human made ones - and there is also the overcoming of them.  Bravery and community: a coming together, of heroism everywhere.  The world is full of contradictions and paradox. I am seeing if it is possible to hold both the likes and the dislikes together, for they are both present and not mutually exclusive.
  7. A mindful cup of tea makes the world go round (or coffee, or whatever your hot tipple is).  It brings people together, it soothes, it heals, it can cheer up any moment. In fact, I'm enjoying the one I've got on the go as I write this - it might not be your cup of tea but in case you're interested it's a Pukka 3 Mint tea :-)
  8. Fear is a bully: we must stand up to it and not let it stop us from doing the things we want to, to really experience all that life has to offer. Gently expand our comfort zones and enjoy ourselves along the way. Know and trust that it will all work out ok. "Extending your boundaries strips away the non-essential, and shows you exactly who you really are. Fail or succeed, this is where the magic happens." Rich Roll.
  9. Let go. Nobody really cares what I’m doing or look like. I spent far too long worrying about this and not enough time thinking what do I think.  People are generally far too busy and not thinking about me at all. Let go of the need to be right, choose to be happy instead. Connect not correct.  Let go of the need to control.  Let go of perfection. Let go and trust that it will all be ok, probably better for me not interfering. Let go of what other people think. “It’s not your job to like me. It’s mine.” Byron Katie
  10. Comparison is the thief of happiness.  There will always be people who seem better off, better looking, have more ‘X’ but always the reverse is true.  I choose to look in the other direction and see just how much I have and be content and gently grateful for all the abundance in my life – it is all there already waiting for me to look towards it.  Look up Nick Vujicic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOzsjEmjjHs  - he's an absolute 'being grateful' genius.
  11. Celebrate our beautiful bodies no matter what their shape or size. Celebrate all the incredible things that they can do and use them in every possible way we can.  Look after them as they are the only ones we have.  Drink water; eat oodles of fruit and vegetables; stretch and exercise; get outdoors as much as possible; laugh often and loudly. These are all essential for a healthy and happy life. 
  12. This moment, now, is all we’ve got. To live. To laugh. To connect. We are worthy, we are enough, we are perfect just as we are - right now. We do not need to do anything to prove this to anyone. Small change, small wonder in this moment, can end up changing the world. Live this moment well, all these moments can add up to a full, happy and meaningful life. Our lives depend on it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair.” Susan Polis Schulz

This blog post was inspired by Anne Lamott and her Ted Talk '12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing' at https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_lamott_12_truths_i_learned_from_life_and_writing, it is a fun watch. Anne Lamott was introduced to me by Jo Ball at my ‘Mums 4 a Change’ group – http://www.mums4achange.org/ - Thank you Jo for all your inspiration. I wish you all well.                                                                                                  Clare x

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