The Legend of The Two Wolves

Hi there!

Have you ever read the Cherokee legend of the two wolves? It seems to be doing the rounds again and recently popped back up on my FaceBook feed:

An elder brave tells his grandson about life.

“Grandson,” he says, “Within all of us there is a battle of two wolves.”

“One is evil. He is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

“The same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person too,” explained the wise Cherokee.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

Very dualistic, very black and white, but also ‘sweet’ I thought, and moved on. Only, I couldn’t move on. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t know why. So I went back and read it again. It still had a hold. I turned to my trusted journal to try and bash it out, like I do!

Hmmm! I wrote a list of all the not so desirable qualities mentioned in the story and decided to see how many of those ‘evil’ things I gave time to in my life. It turned out to be quite a lot. Infact, ALL of them! Oh dear (why exactly had I started this exercise?).

So I moved swiftly to the ‘other side’ to hopefully counter-balance my apparent evilness. Only I was shocked to find that this list wasn’t nearly as full as I thought it would be! Nowhere near in fact! There on the page lay the apparent answer to the wolf I fed the most. And it wasn’t the one I was expecting (not happy!).

I tossed the list aside (in anger) annoyed at myself for even starting it in the first place (regret), and sad that the outcome hadn’t been more desirable (sorrow, arrogance, self-pity…..).

It was blatantly clear I needed to give a lot more time than I had been to the ‘good’ stuff. But how?  I grabbed the journal back, started at the top of the list, and wrote, ‘How can I bring more joy in my life?’ and waited for the answer…..

Sit quietly.

Breathe deeply.

Relax.

Think about the things that have brought you joy.

Focus on how that feels. Rest for a while in that feeling.

Now, what can you do to bring more joy into your life?

That worked! My mood definitely began to shift and very interesting things came out onto the page. So I moved on to ‘peace’. The interesting thing is, the answer was pretty much the same for each: sit quietly, breathe deeply, relax, think about the times when you’ve felt (insert word)……..

I’m not quite so horrid after all! But it was still obvious I needed to practice sooooo much more of the good stuff and waaaaay less of the bad.

Having said that, I’m naturally not an ‘it’s either black or white’ kind of person….more a ‘flowery in between’ type. So I naturally wanted to somehow meet in the middle. If I could learn to be kinder to my faults, rather than take a sledge-hammer to them, (which only left me feeling guilty and yuck anyway), then perhaps I’d learn to be more compassionate to myself. And if I could learn to be more compassionate to myself, then maybe I could be more understanding of other people’s weaknesses (one can but hope!).

It’s certainly been true thus far that the more intolerant I am of my own faults and failings, the more intolerant I am of other people’s.

So perhaps if I can see the not so desirable stuff as my teaching aids whenever they arise, I can actually learn to get to a place of balance somewhere between my weakness and my goodness (preferably more towards the goodness eventually!). And if I can accomplish that, then maybe my relationships will flourish (I’ll let you know!).

In the meantime, let me ask you the inevitable question:

Which wolf do you feed most my friend?

xx

Write A Letter

This was something I posted on my personal Facebook page recently. I received so many messages afterwards so I thought it would be good to add it here too, especially as I’ve found a (cheaper) way to continue the blog. Please do ignore if you’ve already read it!

WRITE A LETTER!

Lovely friends – I’m not wishing to seem like everything’s all doom and gloom here at the moment, and I’m certainly not seeking your sympathy, but I did just want to share this in the hope that it may help someone else.

A good friend of ours very, very sadly lost her battle with cancer and died in the UK at the end of April. I found it very hard to comprehend. She seemed to be doing so well. It became even harder for me on the day of her funeral. I was devastated not to be there and say a final goodbye. It’s been tormenting me ever since. I was going to sleep thinking about her, waking up in the middle of the night thinking about her and thinking about her family and how they must be. I couldn’t let it go.

In the early hours of yesterday morning I finally sat up in bed and prayed for help to find some peace in this. Almost instantly I had a thought:

Write a letter!

Write a letter? To who?

To her!

So I did! I wasn’t really sure what to write, so I just started with ‘I can’t stop thinking about you’ and then it all came pouring out! I told her how I felt, how sorry I was we hadn’t seen each other for a while, the snippets of conversations, holidays, memories that came flashing through my mind. I promised I would be so much better at keeping in touch with her husband and three children, especially her youngest…my godson. I told her she’d never be forgotten. I said I looked forward to seeing her on the other side. I said goodbye.

When I stopped, I felt like something had been released. Let go of.

But it wasn’t finished yet. Another thought came:

How would she respond?

What?! I don’t know….

Write it down!

What?!

Write it down!

So I gave it a go! As my pen hovered over the page, I imagined her in a place of love and light and peace. Then I just started writing and what came out was, simply put, absolutely beautiful and so full of the most amazing love. (That bit is private!)

Friends, may I ask that if you’re ever in a place of anguish and not being able to talk to someone, (even if they’re alive), please remember to write them a letter. They won’t be physically seeing it but I promise it’ll help you enormously. I also promise you won’t regret it.

(I can help if you get stuck)

Bye for now

Yxx

Who Pushes Your Buttons?

Hi there!

I hope this finds you healthy and well my friend.

We’ve just celebrated our first American Thanksgiving with our very kind and hospitable neighbours and I have to say I loved it! It’s just like a British Christmas really, turkey ‘n all, but no presents. NO PRESENTS! Bliss! Just focusing on what we’re grateful for. The day after, however, brought ‘Black Friday’, where the malls are stuffed full of people buying, buying, buying. Consumerism at its worst/best! What a complete contrast to the day before (and my idea of hell!)  So, needless to say, I went nowhere near the malls, opting instead to stay at home to paint and draw (now to be known as ‘Black Ink Friday’ in my book!)

Anyway, there’s something that’s been brewing on my mind for a few weeks, so I thought I’d share it with you: it’s all about the people who push our buttons!

I don’t know how you view your public self but I think mine’s quite a happy, patient and (mostly) mature one yet my buttons still get pushed when I’m out there! In fact some people in life seem to be master button-pushers! They know exactly what to say (or not to say), do (or not to do) to transform us from calm, happy people into intolerant, impatient and, quite frankly, horrid ones!

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We know that the best button-pushers are usually the people closest to us…..our other halves, our kids, family, close friends, work colleagues…..people we see all the time (or have grown up with). But every now and then a complete stranger or someone we don’t know that well manages to push our buttons too (especially if they work for BT)!

So why is that? What are these so called bloomin’ buttons anyway? And why do they trigger such negative emotions?

I’ve been pondering on this lately because I recently had one of those nasty eruptions with someone I didn’t know that well, which really upset me. It upset me on a few levels: firstly, that I publicly lost my cool and I wasn’t able to control it. Secondly, my preference was normally NOT to react there and then but to take a deep breath, disengage and work through it in my journal at a later stage. That way I get to look at the bigger picture, prevent myself from upsetting anyone and avoid the inevitable counter-attack! And lastly, I’d really rather not be revealing that real and vulnerable side of me, at least without some prior notice, for all and sundry to see!

So what did I do? I went to my room, put a metaphorical spotlight on the whole episode and worked through it. I wanted to know what the story behind it was. Why? Because I know that if this kind of thing stays inside us, it does far more damage in the long run.

Mark Twain Quote

So it needs to be addressed. Whenever it comes up, for whatever reason, it really needs to be interrogated there and then. If we don’t work through it, ‘it’ would just ‘go back down’ and that would be like continually brushing dirt under the carpet. Eventually there’d be such a large accumulation to inevitably trip up over that we’d probably hurt ourselves! So we have a choice: either let it stay put knowing that it would keep rearing it’s ugly head at unwelcome times and potentially manifest into some sort of dis-ease, or work through it. The former is certainly the easiest route, but I prefer the latter!

If you don’t heed the messages from your body the first time they’re delivered, you’ll get hit with a bigger hammer the next time.  A delay or denial requires your body to speak louder and louder to get your attention. The purpose of emotions, regardless of what they are, is to help you feel and participate fully in your own life. Stop and experience them! Then change your behavior accordingly.

Dr Christiane Northrup

I personally believe, through my own experiences, that our bodies are so much more amazing than we believe they are. And when ‘something comes up’, whether it dulls us, drains us, makes us react unfavorably or ails us, then we really should listen! Our body is trying to tell us something. And we must have the curiosity to find out what!

Aristotle believed that everything happens for a reason, always. And that every experience in our lives was designed to shape us and reform us into the ultimate and greatest version of ourselves that we could ever imagine.

I’ve been working on this for most of my complicated, beautiful life…..and it’s still very much a work in progress…..but I do love it! Love it? Yup, love it! Don’t get me wrong – the process can be hard. Sometimes very hard. It takes courage. But the things that are released, recovered from and restored to make it so worth it in the end.

Having said all that, the most rewarding thing about all this for me started the moment I turned from looking inwards to looking outwards. I began wondering what other peoples’ stories were and how they got to the point they were at. Better still, in the midst of my curiosity, I discovered I was actually able to help people work through their own ‘stuff’ too.

Now this might sound strange but we should actually be grateful for all those button-pushers of ours out there! If it weren’t for them we may not be ‘challenged’ to work through our issues and we certainly wouldn’t be able to help others either. So let’s consider button-pushers as some of our greatest teachers!

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That’s it for now my friend. Do let me know if you there’s someone you think might be ‘stuck’ with any feeling, thought pattern or dis-ease in anyway! I’d love to help them work through it, wherever they are in the world! And if there’s anyone you think would like to read this blog…..please go ahead and pass it on:

www.naturallyyas.com

Bye for now! Until next time…..
Yx

Positively Irritating!

Hi there!

Sorry I haven’t written for a couple of weeks. I wasn’t really sure what to write! I’m guessing that you’d really like news of what life’s like out here but there’s been no major event that’s happened or anything that’s really stood out. I think I’ve been weirdly putting some sort of pressure on myself to come up with something interesting. Something inspiring.

Nothing!

Nada!

But I did want to keep in touch…so here’s where I’m at: we’ve been here for nine weeks now. (Nine weeks!) I think it might actually be sinking in that we’re not here on holiday, that we’re here to live! And if I’m to be really honest, that feels a little ‘blaaah’ right now. (And it’s not helped by the fact I’ve come up with some strange rash on my face). Weird really, because whilst Big A’s at work and the mini As are at school, I’ve been really loving having my own space…..reading, writing, painting,……bliss! (Or so I thought!)

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Perhaps the ‘blaaahness’ it’s because the weather’s getting cooler (by ‘cooler’ I mean it’s been going down into the 80s/30s – ºF/ºC!) Think not! Maybe it’s because the rugby season’s started and, having been such a part of it for the last 9 years or so, we’re now feeling well and truly out of it! Perhaps all our toing and froing this year has finally caught up with me? Or it may just be that we’ve hit the two month mark?

I first heard about this from my biological Mother and pretty much dismissed it at the time. She used to work for the American School system in Istanbul. Her job was to help ‘orientate’ the new English speaking teachers into Turkey. Most of them were initially excited about their new roles and the new culture they’d be living in for the next two years. But at about two months in, when the excitement had waned and it became more the norm, they usually had a wobble! (It was part of her job to be there for them at that point too!)

So perhaps that’s the reason for my flatness right now! Then I hear my lovely friend’s voice saying, “It’s alright for you, Yas. You’re naturally positive.” Am I? Naturally? (I’m not sure!) Though what I am sure about is that I’ve worked hard to get to this place…..and it’s definitely still a consistent work in progress!

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All that stuff I do…..journaling, living in the now, gratitude lists etc. that I’ve mentioned in this blog…..are just some of the ways I keep working at it. And it’s all very well writing about me, me, me and us, us, us but it’d feel weird to me if I weren’t giving something back too. So even if one person benefits from all this….then I’m a happy bunny! (And that’s what encouraged me to write today.) But I’m also only just realising that when I’m in that positive place, it can be hugely irritating! (“Change that statement’, I say. “Make it positive!” I say.)  It may be how I try to be but that’s my story…not someone else’s! What I don’t want, however, is to come across as someone who’s life is just perfectly peachy all the time. (We have enough of those types plastered all over the internet!) And the truth is, it ain’t!

So it’s back to the drawing board to see what’s really up, what’s at the heart of this ‘blaaahness’ and this rash and what I can do about it. I’ll write in my journal, for sure, but before I do I’m going to sit in silence for a while and just meditate on it. It somehow penetrates right to the core of me when I do that. And in that place an answer or an idea may ‘pop up’ to help!  (I’ll expand on that more another time!) But for now…

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So onwards and through it is!

I’ll be back in touch soon. Promise!

Take care of you!

Yx

Introducing Miss Tiggy!

Hi there

I’m just going to come straight out and tell you – WE HAVE A PUPPY! She’s my early birthday present from the triple As! We’ve called her ‘Tiggy” but the vet called her ‘Miss Tiggy’ today. So Miss Tiggy it is!

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She is sooooo cute, sooooo naughty and sooooo very loved already.

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This little six week old thing has completely taken over our lives!

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So I’m afraid there’s not much more I’m going to write about this week!

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But I will just say this: Treacle has been on our minds at this time as well. So I read through my journal a few weeks after she’d moved her residency to heaven and found this:

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Endeavoring to do just that!

Bye for now my friends

Yx

PS – If you’d like to receive an email when I post something on this blog…..just scroll down to the bottom and enter your email address (if you haven’t already!)

Greenery, Gratitude and Friends!

Hi there!

I hope this finds you and yours all well.

We are here! It was ‘Labor Day’ on Monday so we had an extra day at the weekend together…….in honour (according to Wikipedia) of working people. Being the country bumpkins that we are, we were craving to celebrate the day by getting out to find some countryside……anything that wasn’t flat and man-made. So we were thrilled (THRILLED!) when our lovely neighbours invited us to their parents’ farm for the day!

Don’t get me wrong…..we’re loving where we live with its trees and greenery!

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And we love that the kids get to ride around safely on our street with scooters, bikes, skateboards etc. But once you get off our estate the main roads are wide, flat, SCARY and concrete, with an occasional spaghetti junction thrown in! Aaaaaagh!

SIX Lanes!!
Not quite the A22……SIX Lanes!!

So you can understand why we longed to see something green…and natural! The drive out to the farm was only 90 minutes….and wonderful! The roads gradually narrowed down to single lanes, gentle undulations started appearing and it became greener and greener! Even the mini ‘A’s got off their electrical devices to observe! Meanwhile big A and I sounded like parents of two year olds “Look! A COW!”

We just soaked the day in and had a great time riding around the farm on buggies and quad bikes…..fishing, shooting, eating, drinking! (And all, thankfully, with no snakes!) We certainly drove back with our souls well and truly re-charged.

“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.” John Muir

Going back a day further to Sunday, I saw that it was lovely and sunny in Sussex and just knew that our rugby friends were up at the club……so I FaceTimed them! Oh my goodness! How lovely it was to see those gorgeous faces again. It almost felt like I was on the deck there with them! But when I signed off a wave of emotion whooshed up from deep inside somewhere. I actually felt it in my chest. I knew it came from looking back, remembering and missing all the amazing times we’d had up there over the years. But I also knew that I was dwelling in the past and that I needed to take some of my own medicine to try to return to the present moment. But I have to admit, it was really hard!

So I decided to resort to a game I challenge myself to with the not-so-mini ‘A’s…..to do the opposite of what I want to do! So, for example, instead of raising my voice when they’ve pushing all my buttons, (which is what I want to do), I stay calm and smile at them instead! It works wonders…for both them and me! (I’ll go more into the power of that another time!) So I sat for a while wondering how I could use this tactic to turn my sadness around….then this Winnie the Pooh quote just popped into my head!

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Wow! It made me realize how lucky I was to even have those friends to miss. I grabbed my journal and wrote down all the things I was grateful for in my friendships. Once I started I couldn’t stop! It went on and on and on! Yes, things were geographically different now but, as the old saying goes,

“Good friends can be like stars. You may not always see them, but you know they’re always there”.

So by the end of that list my heart was full of love and bursting. The sadness had turned to gratefulness. I felt I needed to celebrate this somehow. So I created a Pinterest board (here) in honour of my friends! (Is there a Friendship Day?! I just googled it….apparently there is…..on July 30th! I’ve just read on……and I can’t quite believe this, but apparently Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s ‘Ambassador of Friendship’ at the United Nations in 1998! Haha….I’m obviously soooo on the ball……with a six week delay!)

Anyway…..I’ve made a note to self: to play that opposite game more…..and to get out to the country as often as I can! It’s like hitting my reset button!

Back to now, and until we meet again…..anyone fancy FaceTime and a cuppa?!

Take care!

Yx

Let It All Out!

Hi there! Welcome back!

Thanks so much for the lovely comments I’ve received on here, Facebook and private messages. They’ve really inspired, encouraged and spurred me on to write some more! I was initially soooo tentative about putting my words ‘out there’ because I kept telling myself I wasn’t a proper writer! But bashing that thought around in my journal made me realise that, actually, I AM! It may not be well known but I’ve been writing for over thirty years (albeit to myself)!

I don’t write every day and I don’t list what I ate for breakfast (!) but I do use it to express, express, express! Express what? Well, all sorts of things…..my thoughts, feelings, mulling ideas over, problem solving, reflecting on inspiring stuff, getting to the bottom of why things push my buttons, dream analysis or just a frustrated…..

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Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that journaling helps me feel happier, calmer, clearer-headed and focused on the present. I recently read about Dr James Pennebaker, a professor of Psychology at The University of Texas (of all places!), whose research has shown that ‘writing about emotional experiences can have tangible health benefits’.  Better health too? Even more reason to write, write, write!

As you can imagine, this move to Houston has been coming up in my journal quite a lot over the past few months! The latest is we’re at the final stage of the immigration process (yay!).  Angus has an interview at the US embassy in London on 30th July when they’ll give him a defintie ‘yay’ or ‘nay’! (Why wouldn’t they give him the visa, right?!) I’ll report back on that soon after but if you have a spare, positive, thought for us on the day (1pm to be precise) then please do send it over!

In the meantime, we’re enjoying being here…….now!

Oh yes….nearly forgot! If you fancy getting notifications via email when I post something new…..then please just click the ‘Follow’ button to the right and below. I didn’t know to add that particular little ‘widget’ to my last post…..ooops! Learning as I go!

Bye for now

Yx

One last thing……someone asked it I’d mind if a friend of hers read this blog. I said of course I didn’t! If someone doesn’t know us and reads this it’s still a story…..and if it can inspire along the way, then all the better! So please feel free to pass on to a friend if you think they’d be interested!