So I’ve just got back to Bristol following a fabulous 5 days in Portugal spending time with my family. Those of you who don’t know, my family all live in Ireland so it’s rare I get to spend time with all of them together. While I was there I got a call from an old friend who moved to Texas last year and she happened to be on retreat not far from where I was staying and wanted me to come visit. Small world hey?
I met her on my last day and drove up to the house nestled in the heart of the Algarve countryside. Hollie is a naturopath and she was volunteering there. It was day one of a ten day fast where only juice and broth are allowed combined with the twice-daily colonic ritual. I was really interested seeing the types of people who were there, expecting a load of hippies but finding lots of stressed out city people who wanted to detach from the world for 10 days and bring their system back into balance.
And this got my thinking about my life and its balance. Since I was a child I have run every facet of my life at a million miles per hour. That’s not such a bad thing where school and ambition are concerned but as life throws more and more responsibility at you, I had got to a point where I had too much on my hands and my health and wellbeing were taking a huge battering. I decided that I should take some time out to reflect and think about what the important things are for me. The things I love and that make me happy and fulfilled.
The challenge for me is I like things done to perfection and finished in the moment I think them up. So whilst in the process of setting up a business, dealing with a relationship break up and all the financial ties that go with it, freelancing in the marketing world and refurbing my house I thought ‘what things can I drop?’ The truth is I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but then I think for me, creating balance is a life’s work in progress. So instead I decided that I needed some more structure in my life to give my true self more room to breathe. I love a list, so it seemed a fitting way to start my journey.
1 – Eat Delicious Food
Life is too short for worrying about every calorie and everything you’re eating (I’ll write a post on my food views soon!). That said we are what we eat and I believe when we eat a healthy, yet tasty, varied diet our mood and our ability to deal with life is enhanced. I have recently been following Madeline Shaw’s Get the Glow sugar free plan and have been astounded by how utterly tasty everything is and how much more energy I have. So eat delicious healthy food, have some chocolate if you wish but enjoy it and don’t feel guilty. Guilt is the most negative of negative emotions. Who else would we let be so angry with us for so little? That’s what guilt is and we do it to ourselves.
2 – Find Some Time Out
As you all know, I love Pilates, for me it is my meditation. I can inwardly focus and think about my body and become much more mindful of what’s going on with me in that moment. I cannot function without at least one hour per week of Pilates time.
Find something you truly enjoy and makes you feel better and healthier. I personally don’t like all the effort that sometimes has to go alongside exercise. Life is hard enough, find something that no matter how tired or stressed you are you know you’ll enjoy and leave feeling happier and lighter. And make sure you plan a time when it works for you: reduce your feelings of “I should” or “I need to”. When I set up Soul Pilates I wanted to offer lunchtime and early evening classes so people could make sure they actually take a lunch break or they can fit in practice on their way home instead of sitting in traffic.
3 – ‘Sometimes You Have to Fall Down to Get Back Up’
This is something my good friend and Spiritual Companion Martine said to me about a year ago. Never more was a saying more true after I literally fell on my face requiring a hospital visit and 5 stiches 2 weeks ago. Not the holiday look I was going for when planning my sun-tanned wardrobe.
I heard Martine’s words reverbing in my head and I thought, 'what is this trying to teach me and how can I grow from the experience?' That’s not to say I didn’t have a little cry and feel a little sorry for myself. Sometimes it’s ok to feel sad, feel down or fed up. Say to yourself “Just for today I feel sad / annoyed / fed up / angry and I’m ok with that”. Do not beat yourself up about it or feel guilty - doing that just makes tomorrow feel rubbish too. Then tomorrow wake up, be thankful for the day, the opportunities and yourself for having the strength to trust your feelings and do what you mind and body want you to do.
4 – Take Some Time Out
I always used to ensure I had a holiday booked every 3 months. I used to ensure I had one proper day off a week where I could recharge my brain and body. I have massively failed of late so this is one of my must do actions. No matter how poor your bank balance may look, the amount you have to fit into your life or all the life chores you need to do on your precious days away from work, you need to ensure you have holiday time away from home. My 5 days away has taught me that. If I sat at home for 5 days I would just be looking at things I should be doing.
5 – Allow Yourself to be Guided
I know not everyone believes in Spirit Guides or that our lives have a path. But sometimes allowing yourself to be open to opportunities and thoughts can have a massive impact on the direction of your life. In Portugal my friend called me so many times to visit her at the retreat. I was too busy, too tired - too everything. I eventually went on my last day and only managed a couple of hours there before I had to leave. The energy in this place hit me instantly. It was like someone had connected me to the Earth wire of a plug and allowed me to discharge emotionally and energetically. Whilst there I met people who are already having an impact on the direction of my life with the possibility of working at some of the retreats in the future. Sometimes people, options and even loss and trauma come into your life to help you grow. It isn’t always that easy but it can be if you allow yourself to listen and grow.
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