Tag Archives: Natural

120 Days of Doing What I Love

8 Sep

This is the 120th day of the 120-Day “Do What You Love” Challenge, in which I have written (almost) every day for the past four months.

I feel as if I should be celebrating or congratulating myself, but completing the Challenge has not aroused any extreme emotions in me. I guess this is for the simple reason that writing every day has come very naturally to me.

I had many fears when I started the Challenge:

I was scared that, were I to ‘force’ myself to do my loved activity every day, I would actually cease to love it.

I was also scared that I wouldn’t have the will-power to make time for writing.

Like all creative people, I was scared of discovering that I am rubbish at what I do.

And, I was scared of being so scared of all of these things, that my fear would block me from writing.

Now, four months later, I laugh at these fears and thank God that I decided to overcome them.

I never “forced” myself to write every day – I encouraged myself to do it and really enjoyed every moment that I put aside for writing. I never “forced” myself to write anything in particular, either. Every time I sat down to write, I would let my fantasy, my ideas and my emotions express themselves as they wished. Seeing as I always wrote what I enjoyed, I always enjoyed writing it!

I realised that I didn’t necessarily need to put aside an hour for writing every day – even fifteen minutes is enough. In fifteen minutes, I can write a poem, my impressions of the day and even a very short story!

Seeing as I was writing for myself and using each day as an experiment, I never judged my writing to be good or bad. Every new creation was a surprise and a progress.

Very soon into the Challenge, I realised that I enjoy writing so much that my fears fall away as my joy increases.

writing

Pollyanna Darling, founder of the 120-day “Do What You Love Challenge”, said that we often feel guilty about doing what we love, because doing what we love has no goal apart from enjoying ourselves and feeling happy. This was my case, but paradoxically, after four months of doing what I love every day, it is precisely because of this enjoyment and happiness that I continue to write!

I would like to thank Pollyanna Darling for the wonderful idea of the 120 Day “Do What You Love” Challenge. I thank her for encouraging her readers to take part. I thank her for the happiness that writing every day has brought into my life. I thank her for the amazing writing habit that I have now acquired. I thank her for the release of my fears. And, most importantly, I thank her for having taken the step to do what she loves and for having showed us the way.

I am sure that what started as a challenge will continue as a way of life. I wish for others to give the 120-Day “Do What You Love” Challenge a go to discover for themselves.

What you love is what you’re gifted at. To be completely happy, to live a completely fulfilled life, you have to do what you love.
  ~Barbara Sher 

Tattoo drawing on palms hands

Related posts:

120-Day “Do What You Love” Challenge

Do What You Love – One Month In

60 Days of Doing What I Love

Three Months of Doing What I Love

The 117th Day

On my (Failed) Plans to Rule and/or Own the World

29 Sep

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else” ~ Judy Garland

We all know what it means to not be ourselves, or in other words, to pretend to be someone else.  We usually discover this in school, when, in an attempt to make friends or to become popular, we pretend to like certain bands, or we start dressing in a certain way, or we voice ideas that we know will get us kudos points.

This phenomenon starts in school, but for many it can last way into adulthood. Some of us remodel our personality for a job, a circle of friends or for a partner. In most cases, this is to feel secure and accepted, to be approved of and loved. We pick up many signs on what is a ‘good’ person, an ‘intelligent’ person, a ‘worthy’ person, a ‘successful’ person and so on, from society and from our immediate circle of communication, such as friends and family. Many of us feel obliged to live up to these expectations, to show the world that we are the perfect example of that perfect person.

During my university years, I saw myself in a way that many London students are taught to see themselves: confident, well-groomed, intelligent, popular and successful. My decisions, starting from where I would drink coffee to where I would go clubbing, would be based on this self-image that I’d constructed. If my conscious could have picked out an image to explain who I was aiming to be, it would have looked something like this:

models

I wanted to be a supermodel with a successful business career, with cool and rich friends, a million talents, an address book full of useful contacts, and regular holidays where I would either tan on a yacht or build orphanages on a lost island. I wanted incarnate everything that magazines made look so easy. I wanted to live up to this image of the ‘perfect’ woman, according to the metropolitan capital’s society.

This ‘perfect’ woman, however, was far from the perfect version of my true self. I started realising this three years ago, when, spending a year away from London in a small Southern city, I began to see life differently. I met people who were natural and who lived honestly and simply. I met people who found it surprising to see me in make-up, rather than shocking to see me without it. I met people whose dreams were to have a family and live in a house in the countryside, rather than to rule and/or own the world, as was not uncommon to hear from people my age in London.

This eye-opening experience led me to take several spiritual psychotherapy courses upon my return to London. In these courses, I discovered my inner child, I learnt that what I think I want out of life or relationships is only what my conscious wants, and most importantly, I learnt to connect to my subconscious. From this, I discovered that my true self actually looks something like this:

Quite a difference, eh?

It took a while for me to understand and accept the true self that my subconscious was showing me. I took small steps to embrace my true self (I will talk about this in detail in a future post), often coming up against fear of the unknown, fear of ‘letting down my defenses’ and fear of being different. A year and half later, I am living away from London in a quiet town in France. In the eight months that I have spent here, I have never reminisced about this other young woman that I once was or aimed to be. On the contrary, I have felt a sense of peace and freedom to not try and live up to an image, to not try and meet someone’s expectations, and to not be constantly thinking about whether I am good enough, intelligent enough or beautiful enough.

I recently read a passage in D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love that struck a chord with me. I believe it conveys perfectly what I used to feel, and, had I remained aiming to be this other self, I would have achieved the ‘perfection’ that I was seeking, but in my heart, just like in Hermione’s, there would have been a void for where my real self should have been.

“Hermione knew herself to be well-dressed; she knew herself to be the social equal, if not far the superior, of anyone she was likely to meet in Willey Green. She knew she was accepted in the world of culture and of intellect. She was a KULTURTRAGER, a medium for the culture of ideas. With all that was highest, whether in society or in thought or in public action, or even in art, she was at one, she moved among the foremost, at home with them. No one could put her down, no one could make mock of her, because she stood among the first, and those that were against her were below her, either in rank, or in wealth, or in high association of thought and progress and understanding. So, she was invulnerable. All her life, she had sought to make herself invulnerable, unassailable, beyond reach of the world’s judgment.

And yet her soul was tortured, exposed. Even walking up the path to the church, confident as she was that in every respect she stood beyond all vulgar judgment, knowing perfectly that her appearance was complete and perfect, according to the first standards, yet she suffered a torture, under her confidence and her pride, feeling herself exposed to wounds and to mockery and to despite. She always felt vulnerable, vulnerable, there was always a secret chink in her armour. She did not know herself what it was. It was a lack of robust self, she had no natural sufficiency, there was a terrible void, a lack, a deficiency of being within her.”

D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love

~

Are you living up to an image that is not reflecting your true self?

If you could show your current self in an image, what would it look like?
If you could show your real, subconscious self in an image, what would it look like?

What small steps can you take to embrace your true self?

Counting the Blessings, Not the Events in My Life

15 May

I had heard that time flies, but no-one had told me that it soars. The past year has gone by with the blink of an eye. For me, it has had little form and even less structure. What have I done during the past twelve months? What has happened in the last 365 days? Looking back, the past year looks like a stretch of time marked by uncertainty, emptiness and waiting. Things have moved at a slower pace than ever before, and there are few events that have been caught on camera or written into a diary. However, when I think about the past year, I realise for the first time that it is not the quantity of memorable events that matters so much as their quality. This year has brought few notable events, but they have had a crucial role in the direction of my life’s path.

1) I graduated from university.

2) I went on a life-changing trip to India.

3) I completed a novel-writing course, which made me realise that, despite my fears, that I am capable.

4) I was offered my first ‘real’ job in a field that I love.

5) I moved to a different country.

6) I moved in with my boyfriend.

However, when I look back at the past year, these events feature only as a backdrop to that which happened on centre stage. In fact, it is my spiritual experiences and changes that played the main role during this period of time.

1) I got rid of 50% of my material possessions. In my new home, I live only with the things that I use regularly.

2) I deleted my social networking accounts. If they’re my real friends, I should be able to call them to find out about their lives. If I feel uncomfortable about picking up the phone to speak to them, I don’t need to be filling my mind with their lives. Seven months without Facebook, and I feel calmer, more confident and I know who my true friends are.

3) I took a risk. When I started job-hunting last autumn, I knew that I had two choices: I could either persevere and look for jobs in the field that I love –writing – or I could take the easier option of going into a better paid, more stable and more ‘prestigious’ career. Parents considered The City or the EU as a good destination for me, but I knew that if I didn’t take the chance to try my luck in writing, I would never again have the opportunity to do so. Three months later, I was offered a job as an online content editor.

4) I made a dream come true. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of working in a cute little bookshop, where I would be able to pass on my love for literature to others. In the autumn, I was hired for a week-end shift at a new independent bookshop in my area. I only worked there for four months, but the experience was unforgettable. I was blessed with kind, knowledgeable and good-humoured colleagues, with friendly clients and with a brilliant stock of books to enjoy.

5) I chose love over fear.  What if I don’t like it? What if it doesn’t work out? What if he changes his mind? What if we get bored? A million doubts filling my mind before moving to a new country and moving in with my boyfriend. Four months after my move, this new life feels like second nature.

6) I was honest with myself. Young women my age are going to parties, filling their days with countless activities, following fashion, spending, seducing, networking…I tried, but never found fulfilment in any of these activities. I finally admitted to myself that I would prefer to spend Friday night watching the sunset from a hill, spend the afternoon riding a bike, spend evenings doing yoga, spend the week-ends doing photography, and spend my money on dance class, art exhibitions or fresh local food from the market. By being honest with myself, I have found a more natural way of life.

This year, I may not have had many events to talk about, but I have had many ideas and feelings to share. I think I am finally starting to learn how to count the blessings, and not the events in my life…

First Solo Yoga Practice

28 Feb

I attended my first yoga class ten years ago, yet had never, during all these years, practised yoga alone, without a teacher. Until today. Inspired by John Archer’s post Thoughts On Yoga, I had my first solo yoga practice at home this evening. The experience was truly amazing.

I fell into the practice very naturally; my body told me exactly what it wanted me to do. I flowed from posture to posture, without thinking about what should come next, letting myself be guided by what my body was drawn towards. It was great to have the possibility to stay in postures for as long as my body needed it, rather than following the rhythm of a class, which we do not always coincide with. Being able to listen to my body and do postures in my own rhythm and my own order made me get exactly what I wanted/needed from the practice. Not having any external guidance in a teacher made me tune in and pay more attention to what was going on inside me.

After the practice, I felt rejuvenated; I regained energy and was in a positive mood. I felt healthier and my mind was very calm. I am extremely grateful to have discovered this new way of practising yoga, and I look forward to continuing this profound ‘solo’ journey.

Destined Coincidences

3 Feb

I personally believe that there are no coincidences. Having observed that most of the coincidences that have occurred in my life have been either life-changing or of a significant importance, I have concluded that there is no such thing as ‘accidental’. A coincidence is one of two things: a sign or destiny.

A coincidence is defined as “an event that might have been arranged although it was really accidental”, or “a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance”, or even “when something uncanny, accidental and unexpected happens”. I have had some pretty weird coincidences in life: bumping into someone I know from London in a café on the other side of the world; meeting a future friend due to a decision based on flipping a coin; and most recently – being quoted on a website next to my favourite author.

This last one happened today. I searched my name on Google and found a page where a paragraph of an article that I’d written had been copied and pasted next to my favourite author’s quotes on the same topic. I had never heard of the website before and have no idea how they found and, most importantly, why they chose my work. But there it was – my words alongside those of an author who I have loved since the age of fifteen. I laughed out loud in sheer disbelief.

Although everything is obviously coincidental, ‘chance’ and ‘accidental’ somehow don’t describe this situation. My work was taken by strangers and posted on a website about a country to which I am soon moving. It happened to fit into a section about which a famous author had something to say. And not only is this a famous author, it is one of my favourite authors…who also happens to write about philosophy and spirituality.

At first, I did what we usually do when things like this happen: I laughed, said “What on earth?!” , and then got on with my day. Only a while later it hit me: this is a destined coincidence. Weird and wonderful things like this don’t happen for no reason! Calling this ‘mere chance’ would be a lame excuse to cover a lack of faith. A lack of faith in the extraordinary.

Many people don’t listen to intuition, or believe in signs or natural healing, because ‘there is no proof for it’. Nowadays, we need a contract, a bill, a letter, a statement, a signature or a certificate to believe in the validity or legitimacy of something. When we say “I trusted this man, because he is a lawyer” people nod in agreement. If we say “I trusted this man, because he had kind eyes” people take us for a lunatic. Yet we have forgotten that our intuition, the natural world and all the signs around us are stronger and more ‘valid’ than any contract or theory could ever be.

We do not need ‘proof’ to know that we love someone – we just know it. We do not need proof to think that it will rain in the afternoon – we just feel it. We do not need proof to sense that someone is looking at us – we just sense it.

In the same way, we do not need proof to know that a ‘coincidence’ is actually a sign. The only thing left for us to do is to allow ourselves to believe in it, and to follow this sign to wherever it may be pointing.

Surf Sea Sunset Beach