Everybody’s talking bout
About how different I am
I guess they can notice
The way I walk
They way I talk
Believe it or not baby
I can feel it here inside of me”
For the full-on, musical version click on over here:
Yes, oddly enough, it starts with Barry White. Equally odd, it continues with John Cage. After getting the gift of Barry White on his birthday, he feels infused with moxy and 90’s swag; he’s confident and smooth. He decides to go for it and put his newfound moves on Nelle. He calls this “the change”. Nelle, unfortunately does not notice the change, so John ends up knee pit-ing Renee. If none of these things make sense to you, you have 2 options: either watch Ally Mcbeal season 2, episodes 8 and 9 or ignore everything and accept my apologies.
Anyway, the “change” line kept rolling in my head one day, cause I’m partly insane and that’s why I brought stuff from the 90’s into your attention. Dear friends (cause mainly you’re the ones reading this), I have felt the change. One day, after a long period of thinking and adjusting and postponing, I felt it was time to start doing things. Good things. For myself.
First, a list began writing itself in my mind. It was made out of things I wanted/desperately needed to try (meditation), things I wanted to start doing daily instead of once in a blue moon (yoga), then, my current priority that needed support and very conscious effort (writing) and something food related that I wanted to try out. Thus, my very own Life Management Board came to be and slowly but surely, I’ve been watching it grow and I’ve been watching my life improve dramatically.
I decided that this is the year that I lay the foundation for what I want my life to be. I will take care of myself and start doing what I need to do so that I will be able to do what I want to do and be fulfilled. I want to really mean the #noregrets
Seeing my dad die the way he did and how life changes when you grow old made me really see into the future and check my present. I became aware of the fact that my decisions now have a direct impact on how my life is going to be later. Health, attitude, going for the things I want - all took the spotlight. I don’t wanna be a bitter old lady that can hardly move and can’t enjoy anything because she is constantly in pain and her attitude sucks.
Chapter 1 - Meditation/How I stopped pussyfootin’ around and started to meditate.
I’ve been waiting in the meditation station for a while but I just couldn’t bring myself to “find time” (bullshit) or the “right time” (another type of bullshit) to pick a train and just get on it. Until one day, that is, when it became imperative. Not because something happened, but just because it felt like hammer time. I was absolutely sure my chaotic mind needed guided meditation so I downloaded the Headspace app for their 10 days free trial. I decided to start the very next day, in the morning, after brushing my teeth. I got a pillow and a blanket, I opened the window slightly to let some of that frisky Dublin air inside. I sat crossed-legged on the blanket with the pillow supporting my back, facing the blue skies I could see out the window. Then I pushed the magic button and was greeted by a voice and an introductory animation. Firstly, it won me over with the animation (I’m a sucker for that) and secondly, the voice. It’s a warm, calming voice with very soothing tones but it sounds like a “real” person”. It doesn’t get trapped in that monotone, half-asleep, robotic sort of narration. I don’t feel like someone is trying to hypnotise me and trick me into becoming “peaceful”. He simply speaks naturally - you know, like a regular person would. He even softly chuckles at times, and I’m the kind of girl that responds to a chuckle or two.
First, you begin by breathing deeply, which I’ve been historically bad at. You know you don’t have a real grip on life when you’re having trouble with its no. 1 requirement. But hey, I guess for some people everything is a skill they need to work on. So, there I was breathing deeply and feeling unusual. Next step is closing the eyes and breathing normally. Here, in the dark, it’s just you and your thoughts and the attempt to “silence the mind”. If you ever heard anything about meditation you probably heard that phrase. Sorry to burst your hope bubble, but silencing the mind might actually be as impossible as Ryan Gosling ironing your favorite knickers while making banana pancakes and singing that song from “Blue Valentine”. It’s unlikely, that’s all I’m trying to say.
Thoughts are almost always occupying our minds, especially when you’re trying really hard to do the exact opposite! “The point of meditation is to learn to detach yourself from the passing thoughts”. Again, not my strong point. I tend to hold onto things until I milk the life out of them, they dry out and die, and even then, instead of releasing my grip, I clench my teeth and hold onto their corpse forever and always! Now that I’ve put disturbing images of potentially dead cows in your mind, let us move on.
I sat and listened and “went with it” as the kids say these days. I’m not going to describe everything step by step, cause I don’t wanna ruin it for potential new-comers. Not knowing exactly how it would go made me curious and excited, even. So, I wouldn’t wanna take that away. When I opened my eyes I had the weirdest sensation. I felt like I’ve just woken from a dream. As I was trying to put impressions into words, I had the magical realization that what I felt was the sensation of space. Pennies kept dropping in my piggy bank mind. Ding! Space! Ding ding! In my head! Ding ding ding! Headspace?! Omg, that’s the name of the app! Unbelievable, ladies and gentlemen - how it all makes sense! Isn’t life just a bloody miracle?
Hold your horses and don’t jump to conclusions just yet. I haven’t magically transformed into the Disney’s version of Mary Poppins. I am not all of a sudden seeing the world in shades of pink and marshmallow. I don’t think I’ll ever be, nor do I want to; though this post is definitely the equivalent of steamed broccoli and I’m used to filthy chocolate cake slathered with frosting and dripping with caramel sweat while it falls apart in your hand. Hmm, I think I miss cake. What was I talking about? Oh, yes - my life. Back to that.
I was determined to make it till the end of the 10 days free trail and I did. Session by session, day by day I learned something new about myself, a new way I could look at things to make, well - life - lighter. I began to recognise patterns of thinking. I will say this even if it sounds a lot more know-it-all that it actually is: we are more ourselves in meditation that anywhere else. It’s like having a magnifying glass placed over your mind and you get to see what you do and how “do you do, do you do the things you do” as Roxette would say. For example: “bring the mind/attention GENTLY back” - realised I do not know how, or “notice your breath, don’t judge it just notice it”- un-freakin’-able to not be a judgmental biatch to myself, or “ask yourself this and just listen, don’t try to find an immediate answer” - impossible, boo. Next!
As a direct result, I discovered the voices in my head - because they tend to become very obvious when you close your eyes and sit in silence, so I decided to make a list of these voices, separate the good from the bad and deal with the ugly. I also named each and every one of them, cause I’m silly but also because it becomes much easier to deal with them once you know “who” you’re talking to/ who’s whispering sweet bullshit into your ears.
Without further ado, I give you:
Chapter 2 - The many voices in the head of Gog
- The one that is never satisfied, nothing I do is good enough/ all I do is wrong - Stephanie
- The one that always doubts herself - Mimi
- The one that panics and worries frantically - Jenny
- The one that believes that if you’re not good at something innately/immediately you’re not talented/meant to do that or will ever be good at it - Gwyneth
- The impatient one - Suzie
- The one that is always saying “Give up, what’s the point, you’re never gonna be good enough or better than xyz” - Milfred
- The plain rude, insulting, cruel one “Fat, stupid, lazy, useless” - Gertrude
- The afraid of conflict one, the people pleaser, doesn’t wanna trouble anyone or cause shit - Sally
- The guilty one- always finds something to feel guilty about - Carrie
- The “victim”, always feels like the one suffering the most, doing the most, feels unappreciated - Neil
- The co-dependent one: afraid of doing things on her own cause she thinks she’ll fuck up - Laura
- The plain afraid one - Penny
- The one that never wins, the loser - Bernie
- The overachiever - Gordon
- The “ah, that’ll do for today” - Frankie
- The “you can’t, you couldn’t, you won’t” - Sandra
- The “I know better” voice (judgemental, sees the world through one lens and that’s it) - Gina
- The “can’t let go voice” (obsesses over things over and over again, especially negative stuff) - Bob
- The over-carer - Mary
- The paranoid one - Ally
- The “it’s ok, but it could be perfect” aka The “Great Expectations” one - Natalie
- The self pity one/ “Oh, poor lil’ ol’ me! What ever shall I do? - Lottie
I know what you’re thinking, those are a lot of voices! Or maybe you’re thinking that I am seriously insane and need professional help. Don’t worry, one of the voices in my head is a psychologist, so I’m covered.
For each and every one of the bad ones above there is a voice encouraging the exact opposite, revolting against what they have to say. Imagine that, it’s never boring up in here, I’ll tell ya’ that.
- The “you will not take any form of injustice” voice aka the warrior, the no bulshit, Sasha the fierce, almost insane-at-times voice.
- The most important one of them all is by far the “self-love” voice because if you pay attention to her you will treat yourself gently and make the right choices that will eventually lead to a happier you/me/us...
It it not as strong yet, but I’m growing this baby bigger, bolder and fatter everyday!
The good ones mainly come from my loved ones and they are now living in my head, fighting everyday to convince me that I am “unique, talented, funny, worthy, able, loved and magical”. Yes, my friends are awesome.
In conclusion, meditation rocks my world in the best of ways! Because I take 10 min to check myself before I start the day, I am less anxious. Because I take a moment to assess how I feel (physically, mentally, emotionally) I know how to treat myself that day and what to expect. Translation: I’m less of a dick to myself when I’m down. Literally check yo’self before you wreck yo’self. One of Andy’s “tips” said something in the lines of “Imagine you were talking to your best friend the way you talk to yourself”. Most of us wouldn’t have friends anymore! Cause we’d say things like: “Great, you’re back hurts again! Another day to be useless!“ or “You look fat. Not just in that dress, but in jeans and skirts and pajamas. You’re also fat in every room of the house… and on the outside. Have you ever noticed that?”. We all know the list can go on and on and on. Bottom line is: treat yourself kindly. You fucking deserve it! We all do. I’ve learned that amazing things happen when you go gentle on yourself. It’s not easy, but it’s better to work on it than to just give up. Always.
Chapter 3 - Becoming Yogy Bear
I’ve decided to listen to the call of yoga and respond to it every day. No pressure, it didn’t have to be a certain type of yoga, it didn’t have to be a certain amount of time. All that mattered was that I do it daily and mindfully aka do it with meaning and intention, not just to check it off a list.
For a couple of years now, my guide in all things yoga has been Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. One day, I stumbled upon her on youtube and I was hooked. I can’t watch any other yoga videos. She is the best because she is so… herself. Unapologetically. “Find what feels good” she’s been saying for years and only now I truly understood what that means. For me, it meant asking myself what I need instead of what I want. It may sound easy, but it is not. My judgement is always clouded by what I want to do, so much so that it is hard to distinguish which one is a desire and which is a need. Everyday, I wake up, I listen to my body and I ask myself what I need and then I look for the practice that will cater to that. I’ve gone even further and taken this question in all areas of my life and boy, did I flip the pancake! New outlook, hello!
Chapter 4 - The itty bitty food committee
Me and the voices in my head decided that we need rhythm and rituals and that efficiency can be joy. So, I made granola bars and loaded on mangoes and berries to keep breakfast nice and simple. I loved not having to decide what to eat every morning, it made everything much easier. Also, those freaking granola bars are delicious because peanut butter rocks and honey is the key to everything. New mantra was to keep it simple during the week and go ham with tasty projects on the weekend. And I was happy ‘cause “nature loves rhythms” and decision-making is a bitch.
Introduced healthy eating habits without restricting anything else. I did not go on a diet, I did not make a list of “no-nos”. A lot of the food we emotional eaters love is on that list because we associate it with good times, comfort and care. Diets are never associated with good times, allow us to not bullshit each other. If it were healthy we’d eat cake for breakfast everyday and bathe in butter and syrup for the rest of our life. “Diet food” will always bring with it the bitter taste of restrictions and that’s how you end up despising lentils - and that, my friends, it’s just unfair to lentils everywhere.
I’ve always been ok with “exercise, structure and activities” part of trying to get fit. Because it feels like I’m just adding things and that’s ok. When it comes to food, the sentiment is that something precious it’s being taken away from me.That just don’t fly with us, southern belles with lofty hearts and appetites. I needed a change of strategy. The only way to love food is for it to be tasty and for the context to be a pleasant one. Otherwise, I know I won’t get back to it. Quite the opposite, it will end up on my “get the fuck out of my mouth” list. Yes, I know what I just did there.
Chapter 5 - Out of the seven dwarfs, you are my second favorite
My relationship with sleep has been a complicated one. I’m sure it wasn’t always like this. I was too the type of child to fall asleep on chairs at various never-ending parties. I somehow grew up to be a lot more nevrotic, thus I need darkness and silence to be able to fall asleep. Oh, and peace of mind, but that’s harder to achieve. One thing I did manage to change for the best was to fucking listen. Listen and go to sleep when all signs point to the fact that my body is ready and that my mind is willing. I always postponed it and ended up falling asleep in a bad mood because I’d missed my window of sleeportunity. Not anymore. Also, I left my laptop to avoid the screen strain and the distraction. All very good ideas.
As a result, I started going to bed around the same time every night and then waking up, naturally after about 8 hours of sleep. It was a magical time.
For the first time in a long time things were working out! Now my days looked organised and I was starting to feel calm and productive. I’d wake up between 8:30 - 9:30 am, I’d meditate and change out of my pajamas to go downstairs. I’d eat half a mango and a granola bar. Drink tea, open my laptop and plan my day. Then I would do yoga. That’s how my day began pretty much everyday.
Whoah, I think I’m finally getting my shit together! If you think this sounds in any way easy or victorious, I urge you to remember the list of voice above and reassess, cause that's a lotta' crazy.
Now I think I’m gonna have to get a tad cheesy on yo’ ass. This started as a food blog and it has become a girl’s journey to accept herself, love and better herself, to conquer and to overcome everything from basic fears and insecurities, everyday struggles, the loss of a loved one and the constant “trying to be enough” battle. I’m not there yet, but now I know I’m knocking at the right doors.
May y’all be nicer to yourselves and keep on tryin’! You’re gonna have to fall on your face a couple of times - I speak from experience.