Updated: Jan 30, 2022
Today is my 35th birthday and with that comes honest reflection, that some people go all out and celebrate with pub crawls and some people shiver at the thought that even at this age their friends and family would sing out loud in a public place. That we may dread getting older or we live by the words 'young at heart'.
Birthdays honour our time on earth, that we have lived and can celebrate a cycle around the sun... let's say that again, a . cycle . around . the . sun . Mad right?! Something that we may often take for-granted, that we don't even give a second thought, yet its something so powerful and can really put things into perspective.
Throughout the years, I have lived through true hermit chapters, Ive had severe social anxiety, would be terrified within large groups of people, would get over stimulated very quickly and would never like to be the centre of attention. But all of these things were manifested from the experiences I had previously been through and kept recycling within my mind. Now, looking back I know all of these moments have moulded me into the person I am now, even through the really tough, confusing, hard, unknown moments I accept that they have and will always play a big role in my life. We all need to welcome in being uncomfortable for true growth.
Much like New Year, I don't set resolutions, I don't really celebrate and you all know my concept of time (Aquarians, you hear me?). I believe that we live life hour to hour and days and weeks are just one big wild ride. So when my birthdays come around I'll meditate on it, I'll spend time with myself to process, reflect, learn and understand. I wont ever regret an experience or try and push things under the carpet, Im honouring and owning my life here on earth, and as each year goes by my authenticity into my character becomes stronger.
So....what have I learnt this year?
Lockdown has been a huge learning curve for us all, its either had a positive impact from the onset or we watched our whole lives change and found ourselves in the darkest places we have ever been in. Each of these experiences are valid, no one is better and we have to acknowledge that both can give us great strengths depending on the perspectives we look at them.
Lockdown for me was one of the most freeing times ever in my life, that suddenly the concept of routine, schedules and work were gone. That I had to think incredibly quickly how I was still going to teach, and I took all my classes online. I was in my own time and space, my own routine, no one to answer to, I was in love with home schooling, I spent uninterrupted time with my son and partner. It made me appreciate EVERYTHING so much more, that if you're thrown in the deep end with something you CAN create a solution and learn things you never considered before. My business thrived, my work life balance was incredible, I didn't have to travel, I cooked everyday, I wrote, I did yoga, I meditated, I walked, I was truly grounded. Did you know we find more freedom within life when we allow ourselves to be adaptable?
What have I taken from lockdown? That I will never compromise my time with my child, that I truly value my friendships, my family and have created a healthy boundaries. I also learn't many things about myself and maybe you did to... that being at home you didn't need to hide behind the hair, eyelashes or clothes. Well, I shaved my head, have never done my eyelashes and had the huge realisation that yoga isn't what you wear. Sure its nice to wear yoga leggings, matching sets and I still do, BUT to gain such a connection to yourself, to show up as exactly as you are is incredibly profound. That when we are locked in and suddenly our interactions with the big wide world are taken away from us, the facade, the boxes to fit in, the rules and all of the things we find unconsciously influencing us (Im talking about social media etc) don't have a hold of us anymore. We are STUCK with ourselves and have the opportunity to take a good hard look at how we are moving through life... and very often things are highlighted, that we may have lived our lives for the reactions, opinions, 'likes' from others. I can say Ive never been sucked into this but did recognise how easy it can be and now since out of lockdown, Im doing me, more than ever, my passion is what I share with you, not what I look like.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
Im not sure if you noticed but because we were leaving the house only for essentials during lockdown the necessity to fill our boots with everything and anything was out the window. This is something we are living by, to buy what we need and to not bulk buy. We have also realised that half the stuff we did have we didn't even need. I have sold pretty much all my 'stuff'... and I mean... everything from every room. Time is more valuable than the things I have and the process is still going strong! Christmas and Birthdays look very different as I placed new boundaries in Gus's interactions, that throughout lockdown children thrive on experiences, interaction, learning, being creative, do they get much from a toy? Maybe for a week. So we limited toys brought for occasions and its made the biggest difference, he has an understanding of his own money if he gets any for his birthday, he can spend it on what he wants, he might lose interest in the thing but he learns to have his own independence and responsibilities. Plus how kids expect everything (sometimes instantly) from their peers is beyond me, sorry, my own mom has called me an evil head teacher, but clear communication, boundaries and respect go along way in my book.. for children and adults! So my dears, LESS IS MORE.
WORKING ON YOUR OWN TERMS.
As I said above, time is more valuable than money, sure money is good and helps us get by and well, we cant function in the modern world without it. But let's simplify our tasks in hand, that life isn't just about. EAT. WORK. SLEEP. REPEAT. That we have to accept we are creatures of habit but we can implement great habits, great routines and so many things that make us feel good! That we must create a work/life balance as often as we can. Teaching online throughout lockdown I was living on my own clock, my own terms and it was the BEST, the concept of returning back to the studio really did make me re-evaluate many things. Did I want to go back to the studio? Did I need to? The answered changed from week to week, but I thrive on energy, people, personalities, real life human contact! I think as humans we cannot live without it, some of us enjoy and can cope in our own company, some of us find it difficult to be alone and thats absolutely okay. I could find myself getting anxious about returning back to the studio and the only reason why was because I would be 'back in the game', I would be back in a schedule and I would be working at someone else's convenience.
I allowed myself to be adaptable, to create change so that I could maintain my work life balance. I stayed online and returned back to the studio but the times and days suit my life. I have most recently given up my Saturday class at the studio to have weekends off to be with my boy, so its adventure Saturday when I have him and when I don't, I fill my Saturday morning with workshops!
What have I learnt from this?
To be adaptable, that very often when we find ourselves internally fighting something we are making our own resistance. Very often we do know best when it comes to decision making but we are good at making excuses and putting things off! We feel guilty for letting other people down, something Ive always strongly noticed, so over the years I have learnt to stop self sacrificing and being a people pleaser to put my own needs first, boundaries an all darlings. That some times we have to make the jump to allow something else to unfold, you'll get to the bit a little lower in this post where I mention 'life's too short' and it's the truth. What are we waiting for? Whats the worst that can happen?! If you fail you can at least say you tried. If it works it may bring something even better than you imagined.
Don't be afraid to create change and put yourself first.
Im in the process of divorce. It's something that is mutually agreed, we have great communication, honour and respect each others space, new lives and have always and will always put Gus before anything. It's been a wonderful reflection, that even after 10 years of being with someone the connection will always be there and you have the power to maintain a positive bond. That even though things don't work out you accept it all, you learn lessons, you move forwards with grace and you become a stronger person because of it. We all experience life changing events, no matter what they are they may consume us, burden us, break us, but we are stronger than we think, don't let them destroy you, they happen to teach you something. If you ever read this M, thank you for everything.
What have I learnt from this?
Serious self growth and respect, to show up and be true to myself and everyone I know, have met and haven't met yet. That we all recognise our negative behaviours from time to time, within tough experiences (even something as simple as an argument) it can be easy to hold a grudge, to bitch, to put people down, to live in a cycle of negativity and we either continue to live in that cycle or we teach ourselves (through yoga and meditation and lots of other amazing techniques) that its possible to break the cycle to CHANGE, to let go, to appreciate, to forgive, to be kind, to live a positive life and to not cause hurt or pain to anyone. Why would we live our lives in a way which harms ourselves or others?
Learn to be more patient, learn to listen, learn to communicate, learn to hold space, learn to let go and learn to create peaceful connections after difficult decisions.
A recent event that happened just before Christmas, something we knew was on the horizon, but one can never be prepared for the timing of these things. It was another experience that I felt wholeheartedly, it hurt, it was sad, it was something unknown. Death, is this something we can ever be prepared for? No. And I think so often we get caught up in 'living in the future' that we get so disconnected to the here and now, our minds are practically shouting 'what IF this happens', 'Ill feel this when this happens', 'Ill be happy when'. Our future fears or hold ups are projected into this moment and we are almost frozen in time, we are living in fantasy land and we cannot see the beauty that is right in front of us. Life is right now, not tomorrow, not yesterday. When we are faced with death we may suddenly have this realisation, or a lightbulb moment that everything moving forward will never be the same again, our priorities change, we have a different perspective.
I found myself in an inner conflict, out of my own mind and discomfort (and probably fear) that I didn't want to go and see my nan at the chapel of rest. This was my first experience, at first I said no, but again I took time to feel, to meditate on it and deep down something told me I needed to, that I needed to push past the 'strange' uncomfortable feeling I had (that could have been my valid reason to not go) and being completely honest with you I wanted to stare death in the face. This was something I knew would give great strength and support to my mom but it would give me strength and change many things for me. So I went, I saw, I broke down, I cried, I stood and looked at her chest and, nothing. No breath, something that I teach every single one of my students to connect with, the giver of life and in that moment it was no more. It was so difficult for me to process and understand, I placed my hand on her heart, nothing. Again something I couldn't comprehend. A complete silence fell upon me. It These events in life take time to heal and it will take us a while to integrate the memories with modern life. Finding strength within this allowed me to be grounded for my parents, to be unaffected by the emotional trauma, to just be there to hold them, to do anything they needed me to, to sacrifice my time for their needs. Something they thanked me for and will never forget.
It's been one of the hardest and powerful lessons I have ever learned.
What has this taught me?
That one minute we are here and the next we are not, that how we move through our lives will have an impact on every single person we meet and we must strive to make those connections pure, truthful, positive, kind, compassionate. That we aren't all the 'sh*t' we own, I wasn't materialistic before and even more so now I don't need the 'stuff'. That the EFFORT we make to experience things, the TIME we spend with a friend, an act of KINDNESS to someone, to SUPPORT someone, to BE THERE, too just BE is one of the most valuable things we can all carry in our lives. To not get caught up in the rat race, the monkey mind, the overwhelming thoughts, the emotional rollercoasters, to learn to step away from the things that make you feel like crap, to do more things that fill you up, to stop holding others accountable, to be responsible for your own lives, to remind yourself that life really is a fleeting moment and we should make the most of everything right now.
I think we all have the realisation that we need to cherish and be grateful for everything we have in our life's because one day it will be gone. And by everything I mean EFFORT, TIME, KINDNESS, SUPPORT, TO JUST BE. Not the numbers in your bank account.
LOVE & INDEPENDANCE.
Love is unlimited, that true love is acceptance. Ive learned this by surrendering. Ive learnt MANY lessons along the way in terms of relationships (Ive had 3 in my life). I feel as we age and evolve into ourselves we all change, life changes too, that we have to ride the tides and be grateful for the connections we have along the way. The people come and go to all teach us something about ourselves. That nothing is permanent (reflections on death again). That we are human and our minds create more difficult situations than what they actually are.
My love now, with Will is unique and many people cant get their head around that we live independent lives, that I do what I love to do and he does the same, that we share the same interests and love spending time together. But we don't live in each others pockets, and when we are together we respect each others personal space, our own time to fill ourselves up, we support and lift each other to do things we want to do, we are just there. One of the most freeing things is we don't have any expectations of each other, that very often expectations are what hinder deep connections, child's play of our own opinions 'I wish they were like this'...'I wish they did this'.. accept them for who they are and you will never be disappointed.
We have worked hard, we have had strong words, deep conversations and shouting fits because thats how we learn, it's learning to break down ALL the barriers (we both had many) to learn about each other. That you are an individual, that we all have differences, that we are DIFFERENT. Life is all all about contrast and its respecting that, not getting annoyed when someone is doing 'their' thing and it doesn't resonate with you. Let people live, let people learn their own lessons, lift them up - don't put them down.
Learning to fill yourself up will bring you closer to others, I am me, Will is Will and its a beautiful connection I wouldn't change for the world. Time, communication and space are what makes it flourish. I really do feel as though I can achieve anything, that I am free, that I can speak my mind, that I can be exactly who I am.
Right now I feel so incredibly grateful for my life, and I mentioned to my mom yesterday, I really do feel like Im in the most grounded, connected and happiest chapters of life, that through all the things I have mentioned above I have learnt great lessons and allowed myself to feel them all, to allow them to become a part of the puzzle that is me.
Im excited for this new year in my life to bring new challenges because I know I can welcome them in and not be slapped around the face by them, I can sit with them, obverse them and lovingly grow with them.
Im making more time for myself, to eat well, to cook more, to read more and I really do want to try and get to some yoga classes where I can be led and not think about teaching!
The time spent with Gus, Will, family and friends when I see them is untouched. That you know I will give you my complete attention, I will listen, I will speak without judgement or expectation, that what you see is what you get.
Communication is key, this is something I have learned and worked on the past few years. That I can now speak clearly without worrying what others think, that it's better to be brutally honest with someone rather than blurring the lines in case you 'upset them'. Im here to tell it how it is, how I feel when Im happy, upset, angry and I wont hide behind it. By shining a light on my truth and authenticity I hope it inspires others to be the same. That way we can all respect our individuality yet know where we all stand.
Im happiest when Im surrounded by nature, or no stuff. That I recognise I used to feel anxious surrounded by busy, fast, crowded, loud places and now I find a joy within the contrast of energies. This is because I feel grounded within myself to obverse and can easily take a step back when things feel too much.
Simplicity is freedom. I give every task, job or interaction my complete attention and I do not rush. I complete everything which gives me more freedom to do the things I like. I don't make excuses, I don't put things off, I get sh*t done!
Less is more.
Losing my nan was a sad and powerful lesson, it truly made me stand by my values that we are not the stuff we own. Every single day Im making the effort to have even less, my dad has always (and still does) joke with me that Im living a monk life, Im making him proud! I fill my time with playful creations, long walks, climbing, just being rather than sitting amongst the things I own.
+ To not take life so seriously and have some fun.
+ Everyone who comes into your life does so for a reason.
+ Life's too short to get pissed off, to speak harsh words, to live in a negative cycle.
+ You can change habits, you can change your mind, change is inevitable.
+ Don't put things off the grass might actually be greener.
+ Count your blessings, pay gratitude for everything you have because it's PRECIOUS.
+ Get out of your mind and into your body. Watch how your mind influences all the things you want to do, achieve and experience.
+ Learn to say yes and also learn to say no, self care is necessary.
+ Live today as if it was your last.
+ You are not defined by your past.
I wanted to thank you for taking the time to read this, thank you for allowing me to express my reflections, you reading this is the best birthday gift. That I don't want a gift, I want your thoughts and your time.
When your next birthday comes around, look at it kindly with gentle contemplation. Don't throw the previous year away and tell yourself 'that was the worst year of my life'... maybe it felt like it but rather than labelling it ask yourself why, go deeper, do the work to learn the lessons from it... become stronger rather than held back!
You have the opportunity EVERY SINGLE DAY to make it the best. I hope that this post inspires you to reflect, not only on your birthday but as each week goes by.
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday day to you!