Creating mindful moments in everyday
Being kind to yourself when experiencing fatigue
Mindfulness – it feels like a bit of a buzz word now. Everyone has heard of it, but most people don’t really know what it means, beyond the conceptual idea that it’s about being in the moment. It originates in Buddhist tradition, the idea being that by becoming more and more mindful, you will reach “enlightenment.” But for most people, mindfulness is a simple tool to help manage stress and generally bring about a sense of wellbeing. And who doesn’t want more of that in their lives?!
Mindfulness is defined by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre as “moment to moment awareness of one’s experience, without judgement.” But how do you do that in practice?
Here are my top 5 tips to bring mindful moments into your every day and get back to noticing the joy!
#thebooksthatshapedme - The Untethered Soul
Do you find yourself struggling with fatigue? Feeling tired ALL the time, no matter how much rest you do (or don’t!) get? Trying to work out how on earth to manage fatigue and life?
There are different types of fatigue. There’s that tiredness you feel when you’ve stayed up too late watching Netflix and your alarm goes off way too early so it feels like you’ve barely been to bed. Or after work drinks turns into one too many and you’ve no idea what time you got to bed and suddenly its time to get up and go to work! Easy in you early 20s, but suddenly feels like the hardest thing in the world once you hit 30!
Then there’s the sleep deprivation of life with a newborn baby, the wandering round in a fog and doing crazy stuff like trying to put the kettle in the fridge when you make a cup of tea (please tell me that wasn’t just me?!?).
Sleep and Fatigue
I’ve seen people raving about this book for ages now, and it had been sitting on my book shelf ever since I’d listened to Oprah interview Singer on her Super Soul Sessions podcast.
I had high expectations for this book. Every time I shared it was the book club choice on social media, I’d get loads of messages from people telling me it had changed their life. As I turned the first few pages I expected to be immediately wowed. I wanted to love this book as much, if not more, than others I’ve read before.
This book kicked my ar*e. My ego resisted everything. It took me a little while to realise that was what was happening, and once I did a lot of the initial resistance subsided.
#thebooksthatshapedme - If women rose rooted by Sharon Blackie
Sleep – the thing I seem to need more of than pretty much anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve always been one of those people who need lots of sleep. Sleep deprived me cannot function. Simple.
But then I got diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Sleep – at least good quality sleep – became something I could only hope for. That’s the funny(?!?) thing about CFS. You’re always exhausted – like bone deep exhausted. But sleep doesn’t really happen. Not proper sleep. It’s a half sleep where to everyone else you look like you’re sleeping. Your body is stuck. Your mind is switched off. But you feel pain. You hear every sound. Then there’s the nights where there’s no sleep at all. Where the pain is so much that just breathing feels like too much effort. And now and again there’s those miracle nights. The ones where you sleep all night long, hours and hours of real sleep. And then you wake up, feeling just as rubbish as if you’d not even been to bed. Arghhhh!!!!
Can you manage fatigue and still work?
The book is described as “a life-changing journey from the wasteland of modern society to a place of nourishment and connection.” I mean who doesn’t need more of that in their life?! And yet another sign that this book was for me – connection – my word of the year for 2018.
I didn’t really know what to expect; everyone I came across was saying this book was amazing, so I started to worry that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I needn’t have worried. Parts of this book really spoke to me, like I was remembering stories I used to know and lives I used to live. It described everything I’ve become frustrated with in my own life and my desire to escape the “corporate” world and find peace in other things. Many of the messages in the book aren’t brand new, and I know that some of my book club members found parts of it a little repetitive. But for me, it didn’t matter that they were concepts I’d heard before. This book cemented that knowledge and attached it to stories that spoke directly to my soul. This time the message has stuck. I don’t think you can easily go back from that awakening.
The book starts off talking about women having little voice; essentially being there to have children and that’s about it. That this has been happening pretty much forever, along with the suppression of the truth and power that women hold. Our stories have been hidden.
Do you know what's in your skin care products?
A big part of my “day job” is helping raise awareness within the organisation of the issues facing people with chronic fatigue as a result of a disability or long term health condition. I’ve spent a long time myself trying to find a working pattern that meant I could work as much as possible (the mortgage won’t pay itself!) but didn’t result in me doing nothing but sleeping when I wasn’t there, or worse still, continually triggered crashes that left me unable to work for extended periods of time. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is so temperamental – you can never be completely sure what might trigger a crash, and something that was fine in the past might suddenly be the thing that tips you over the edge. No wonder people who don’t live with it struggle to understand – no two patients are the same, and the variety of symptoms and experiences is huge! I’ve created an infographic to help explain some of the things that make working a little easier for people managing fatigue.
#thebooksthatshaped me - The Desire Map
Over a year ago now, I decided to stop buying products which were tested on animals, or from companies who sell products in China as that means they’re legally obliged to test on animals in order to sell there. Its just something that I don’t think is necessary any more, and once you start looking into it there’s just no going back!
That has led me to start looking into the various chemicals and the weird and wonderful things going into just about everything we use. Its really quite frightening!
Shifting sands of 2017
The latest #thebooksthatshapedme book club pick was The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. We took a little longer than normal before meeting up to discuss this one, to give everyone time to enjoy the run up to Christmas and the Christmas break. New Year is always marketed as the “new me” time of year, the chance to set goals and resolutions for the year ahead.
But honestly? I’m not really one for setting goals or making resolutions anymore. Years ago I thought it was a good idea and would make all the standard ones about eating better, exercising more and some career stuff thrown in for good measure. Sometimes it worked, mostly it didn’t!
I didn’t really know what to expect from this book, I’d picked it up mid-year and started looking at it, but just didn’t get very far. The whole concept of creating goals that align with how you want to feel, rather than traditional achievement really resonated so I wanted to see what working through it properly would bring up for me, and whether my outlook on goal setting might change as a result.
What not to say
I’ve said it several times in recent weeks but this year has changed me. I am not the same person that started the year. I have grown. I have shrunk. I have opened and closed many doors. I have learnt more about myself and the world than ever before, and see just how much I still have to learn. And that excites me. I’ve always loved learning, so while this journey isn’t always easy, it always brings me to the most amazing space.
This week has some big milestones in it, the new moon on the 18th, Saturn shifting from Sagittarius to Capricorn after two and half years, and the winter solstice. This is the first year where those events feel more significant to me than the upcoming Christmas holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to Christmas, but I can feel the changes happening around the other events, and marking them for myself has so much less pressure or expectation around it. Those events just are, there’s nothing I have to do, nowhere I have to be, I can just be in the moment and go with the flow that they trigger. And that is my favourite place to be!
What is chronic fatigue?
As part of my “day job” I’ve been working with fatigue network members on creating an information pack to support them, their colleagues and their managers understand chronic fatigue and how to support them work whilst managing their condition.
One of the members volunteered to create an infographic covering some of the things not to say to someone with fatigue and this is what he produced - it’s fab! I can honestly say I’ve had all of these at some point or other which is really disheartening, but so comforting to know I’m not the only one to face these issues!
Awakening my creativity
I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)/ Myalgic Encephalomyeltis (ME) in 2015 after 18 months of tests with no answer. I fought it for a long time, if I’m honest, but nowadays it feels normal to have to think about the amount of energy I have on any given day versus the things I might want or need to do. CFS/ME is just one of the many disabilities or long term health condition where fatigue is a major issue, if not the main issue.
But what is fatigue really? Doesn’t everyone get tired? Well, yes, everyone does get tired. At times everyone can feel exhausted. But there are some fundamental differences between real fatigue and tiredness.
Self Care Week 2017 - What is self care really?
I first met Jennifer Cockcroft when I joined The Inspire Tribe – a group of women working on making their soulful business ideas into a reality. She had already taken the leap from corporate land to following her passion when we met, so she was miles ahead of me and where I wanted to be! She has beautiful website and Instagram feed filled with so many colours, and an Etsy shop filled with her creations.
In September this year Jennifer ran a ten day creativity challenge. Now for anyone who doesn’t know me in the “real” world, I have always been very clear and firm in the knowledge that I am NOT creative. This goes back to childhood and being told that art wasn’t my thing. I still can’t draw much more than stick people 30 years later! But in the interests of supporting my fellow tribe member, I signed up.
#thebooksthatshapedme - Light Warrior by Kyle Gray
There’s been so much information, guides and blog posts written about self care this week, but what does self care really mean? The first thing most of us will think of will be things like long, hot bubble baths or expensive spa treatments. But does that work for everyone? Shouldn’t self care be whatever works for you? Its pretty unlikely you’d find something that everyone enjoys doing, and we all need and want different things for our lives. So why should self care be any different?
Self care for me personally is far more about listening to my body, paying attention to what it needs , filling my time with more things I love and less things I don’t, and being especially kind to myself if things don’t go to plan and I end up crashing.
So what’s this reiki stuff all about then?
Light Warrior was the second book our book club picked to read, and is the latest book to be published from Kyle Gray. I’m a big fan of his, and his oracle decks are some of my favourite to work with, so I had high expectations for this book. I wanted to love it and be able to shout about it everywhere.
Kyle defines light warriors the “peace keepers, change agents, miracle makers and undercover light workers” of the world and I love that idea; that “they are led by love, by purpose, devotion and conviction.”
Surrendering - what does that even mean?
If you follow me on Instagram or like my Facebook page, you’ve probably seen me talking about my love of reiki quite a lot recently. Some of you will know and love reiki already, and totally understand my passion. Whereas others will have no idea what I’m going on about at all!
I had my first reiki experience in about 2005, and at that time I didn’t really know what it was but went along with it. I remember feeling really relaxed, but that was about it, so I thought nothing more of it and pretty much forgot!
My experience with CFS/ME has meant I’ve read about a variety of different treatments and therapies which seem to have varying degrees of success. It’s one of those conditions where there’s no one size fits all solution, and in many cases there’s no solution at all. But I was never a severe case, so had the opportunity to explore more options.
#thebooksthatshapedme - Ice Cream for Breakfast by Laura Jane Williams
The dictionary says surrendering is to stop fighting or trying to control or prevent something. I’ve associated it with giving up, and that not really being a good thing!
But surrendering has been something I’ve had to consciously think about recently. It gets talked about a lot in personal and spiritual development worlds, but I’ve never felt like I fully understood what it meant or how to do it, especially when it comes to dealing with negative feelings.
I’ve come to a place over the last year or so where I’m far more able to trust my intuition and follow the messages it gives me. I like to think I’m pretty good at spotting when my ego (or fear voice) is trying to take over again, maybe not always right away, but I get there eventually!
I’ve heard my fear voice far too much these last few weeks. It tells me I’m not good enough, I can’t do this, nobody cares or is interested. There’s no point to this work because it’s not going to make a difference, because it’s me doing it and who am I to do this?
Each month we vote on which book to read from a list of three, and the first book to win the vote was Ice Cream for Breakfast – How rediscovering your inner child can make you calmer, happier, and solve our bullsh*t adult problems. It was a great book for us to start off with, not too long or too complex and generally an easy read.
I really liked the chatty style, it felt really informal. Like we’re gossiping over coffee and decided to get a giant slice of cake too, because why not? There’s a lot of swearing in it (which I should have realised just from the title!) but it didn’t bother me at all, although I know others didn’t like that so much. Reading it constantly made me smile, feel happy and want to shout this is really obvious advice but somehow I’d just forgotten it all and needed to be reminded. I guess that’s the point of the book though, right?
The Fatigue Network
I’ve always been a book worm, for as long as I can remember I’ve loved reading. Its always been a part of my life, how I’ve learnt things, how I’ve removed myself from daily life and kept my imagination alive. I can’t imagine a life without books in it and there’s very little I won’t at least try reading. In March 2016 I was introduced to Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life and soon after that I stumbled across Gabrielle Bernstein. I’m not really sure how exactly I found it, but the book Spirit Junkie ended up on my kindle. I was going on holiday for a couple of weeks so downloaded a bunch of books, rather than buying more real ones to take with me. I hadn’t actively searched for this one and was pretty sure I hadn’t even pressed the download button, but figured as it was there I’d read it anyway!
The Red Tent
I’m really lucky that I work for a company that prides itself on its diverse workforce and actively works to support disabled employees. We have a number of employee led networks who work to raise awareness and support for a variety of different conditions, including mental health, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cancer and many others.
Back in February 2016 I was part of a small group of employees who wanted to do something to help people like us, with conditions where chronic fatigue was a major symptom. We launched The Fatigue Network in March of that year and were overwhelmed with the response.
I’m not completely sure where it was I first read about red tents, but once I’d stumbled across them there seemed to be people talking about them all over the place. So, by the power of google I found one local to me and decided to give it a go.
Historically speaking, red tents were places where women would gather during menstruation and child birth. No men allowed! In some cultures, they’re called moon lodges (the gathering always happened around the time of the new moon) or menstrual huts. They’ve had a return to popularity since the publication of Anita Diamont’s book “The Red Tent” which tells the story of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter based on the biblical story in the book of Genesis.