What a difference a day makes

Two nights ago I had a very strange dream that I would like to share with you.

I was standing alone in my mothers living room. I was feeling the side of my head, just behind my ear, where I had noticed a lump. The lump was uncomfortable and I was anxious to get rid of it. I started to squeeze it between my finger and thumb and was shocked when the head of a miniature snake burst through.

The snake was angry having been disturbed and was trying to bite my fingers as I tried to remove it from my head. Luckily, I was faster than the snake, and was able to grab hold of it and pull it out. I threw it to the ground where it slithered around in circles before turning to face me.

The snake hissed at me and lunged itself forwards, bearing its fangs. I knew that it was going to try to get inside of my head again. I couldn’t let that happen so I stamped on its head, ending its life.

This dream is so relevant right now in relation to my life and where I am up to with my spiritual growth.

For most of my life I have had a voice inside my head telling me that…

I am not good enough.

I am stupid.

There is something wrong with me.

I am unlovable and undeserving.

Can you relate dearest reader?

For most of my life I have never questioned this voice, believing it to be my own.

A few weeks ago I visited a primary school to teach boxing. I must have seen close to 300 kids in total, and although I was nervous at first, I actually really enjoyed myself. It was such an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to share my love of boxing with so many kids.

On my way home from the primary school I was suddenly overcome with a devastating and painful realisation that felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I realised that I had just proved to myself that the voice I have been so used to listening to was not my own but my mothers, and that everything it had ever told me about myself was a lie.

My God that hurt so much because I have missed out on so much because of it.

But after the initial pain had worn off, and I was able to get my breath back, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude because…

I am good enough.

I am not stupid.

There is nothing wrong with me.

I am lovable and deserving.

My God what a difference a day makes!

We live our lives based around our beliefs and values. It is important we take the time to examine these values and beliefs every so often, especially the beliefs we hold about ourselves. How do your beliefs make you feel? If they don’t make you feel good then maybe they aren’t your beliefs at all. Maybe something someone has said to you has found itself a home inside of your head, like the snake in my dream.

When the opportunity to go into a school and teach boxing came up, I said yes because my reasons for doing so were stronger than my excuses for saying no. When you begin to listen to those inner voices that make you feel good and start to live your life accordingly, all of the nonsense that has ever taken up space in your head becomes glaringly obvious and much easier to clear out.

Please protect and nourish your mind with loving thoughts, and make sure to challenge every thought that causes you pain or gets you running scared. You don’t have to live with them.

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Grow or Go

Today, I got stuck driving behind what I can only think to describe as a ‘crazy lady’. In fact, she put me in mind of Cruella de Vil from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians.

I could see that she had wild hair and was arguing animatedly with her passenger. She was also smoking, and when she flicked the ash from her cigarette it landed on my windscreen. She then suddenly sped up, dangerously overtaking the car in front of her and disappeared up the road.

I’ve never seen anything like it and it put me in mind of the saying, grow or go, which has been very relevant to me over recent weeks.

It has been almost ten months now since my last alcoholic drink, and I have been thinking a lot this week about how much my life has changed during this time. At times it has not been easy staying sober but it definitely has been worth it!

I knew that I would face challenges living a life of sobriety, and that facing these challenges would ultimately be easier to deal with than the ones I faced on my worst day of drinking, but what I was perhaps unprepared for, were the changes in the attitudes of the people around me once I was sober.

There are people, like Pam, and my friends at the boxing gym, who have stood by me through it all and are genuinely happy for my successes, but there have also been people who I thought would be friends for life that are now no longer in my life.

It has been quite a painful learning experience for me, and as you know, I do not shy away from my emotions anymore, so I have sat with this pain, I have learnt from it and I am now ready to share it with you.

So here we go…grow or go!

I made some new friends before I stopped drinking alcohol.

Before I stopped drinking I had extremely low self-esteem and did not believe that I was a good enough person to have any friends. I believed what my mother had always said, that there was something wrong with me and that I deserved to be alone.

Because of this belief, I entered into the friendship feeling unequal, and because of that I gave too much of myself too soon. I extended confidences about my fears and dreams. I said yes when I wanted to say no. I responded to texts and phone calls straight away, even if I was busy, because I valued my friends more than I valued myself.

Then I had an alcohol detox and actually started to achieve some of the things I had spoken about before I got sober. I thought my friends would be happy for me but as the days of sobriety turned into weeks, and then months, my friendship started to fade. I wondered if I had done something wrong.

At first I avoided talking about my feelings with my friends because I was afraid to upset them, but then I realised that not talking would only reinforce my belief that I didn’t matter. Once I realised this I challenged my friends at the next available opportunity. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done.

It was the first time in my life that I have ever risked upsetting someone because I wanted to talk about the behaviour they were displaying that was upsetting me. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. I cried and found it difficult to speak at times but I was determined to say what was on my mind.

The response I got was quite aggressive and uncaring which really surprised, hurt and angered me. Needless to say, that conversation marked the end of our friendship.

As I walked away from two people I had thought were going to be lifelong friends I was surprised to feel a fierce sense of elation! All of the depressing emotions I had been carrying around with me for weeks had vanished. I had spoken up for myself and I owned my feelings. I knew that I was speaking from a place of love and integrity and that was why I had absolutely no feelings of remorse as I walked away.

I truly believe that we meet the people that we do for a reason. We are both teacher and student in any given moment, and through this experience I have learnt that I am a good enough person to have friends in my life. I do not deserve to be alone. My feelings and emotions are important and I have the right to question behaviour that makes me feel bad.

As we grow we change. When we change, the people around us will also have to change in order to accept the new you. If they can’t grow with you they will go.

My advice is, let them.

When you can own who you are nothing and nobody can touch you. They might try, but anything negative that is thrown at you will bounce back, just as the ‘crazy lady’s’ cigarette ash bounced off my windscreen!

When you start to grow and serve your highest purpose you will notice that the wrong kind of people will make every excuse to get away from you, like the ‘crazy lady’ speeding away, and the right kind of people will make every excuse to be near you, and you will feel the benefit of their presence in your life.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading todays post.

I hope that when you need to, you can find the courage to let go of the things that no longer serve your highest purpose.

I hope you know how important you are and that your feelings matter.

And I hope you never get stuck driving behind a cigarette wielding ‘crazy lady’.

Thank you to everyone who has recently been in touch. Your messages inspire me more than I could ever explain.

Love,

Zoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roots

This week has been full of emotional challenges for me. I have had to ‘dig deep’ to keep myself focussed and get through it. Thursday was by far the worst day I have had for a long time.

I woke up after having an unpleasant dream about Denver House. In the dream I was an adult and had returned to the children’s home. I walked into the office to find that the whole of the front window had been removed. Beyond that I noticed a flower bed that was full of dead sunflowers. In my dream I climbed through the hole where the window had been. I then sat amongst the dead sunflowers and wept as I cradled their crumpled remains in my hands.

Thursday was also a very bright and sunny day. For me this can trigger very unpleasant memories and feelings about my childhood, but I was determined not to be dragged down, so I got myself out of bed and went for a run. Feeling brighter I decided to finish my workout with some kettlebell exercises. As I was finishing my last set of repetitions I happened to look up at the light fitting on the ceiling and was horrified to see my mothers living room window reflected in it instead of my own. Sometimes things like that can happen when I am having a difficult day.

I was due to attend an appointment so I tried to push the incident out of my mind and concentrate on that instead. On the way there I made the mistake of buying a magazine that contained an article about my book, based on an interview I gave. I was early for my appointment so decided to read it. I wasn’t happy with what the journalist had written and my resolve not to be dragged down dissolved.

I felt distracted during my appointment and was fighting hard not to let my emotions get the better of me. I lost that fight. I returned to my car to see that I had been given a parking ticket because I had mistakenly placed my ticket face down on the dashboard. I am smiling as I write this now, but I certainly wasn’t smiling then!

Later that evening, after taking a class at the boxing gym, I decided to call in the shop and buy something for my dinner. On the way out I noticed that I had been short changed. I returned home to find that someone had parked in my space. That almost never happens and I just couldn’t wait to go to bed. Please keep reading as there is a happy ending I promise you!

On Friday morning I attended a course designed to improve self esteem and confidence. I was dubious about it at first but as the day progressed I could feel my mood improving. On my way home I had what I can only describe as a revelation about why I struggle so much on sunny days, and it has truly been life changing for me.

I realised that the reason that a sunny day affects me is not because it reminds me of not being able to move around in my room as a child, but because it reminds me that I was not able to be myself as a child. Any form of self expression was punished so severely that I learnt to sit in the middle of my room and not move or express myself at all, and that is what causes my depression on sunny days.

I have learnt to fear being myself and it has made me desperately unhappy. I have such a strong sense of who I am, and having to keep that hidden away takes a lot of energy and focus, and it is exhausting.

I know now that it is time for me to be.

On Saturday morning the sun was shining, and for the first time in at least twenty years, I couldn’t wait to go outside and enjoy it. I was excited and as I made my way to the gym I felt blessed and allowed myself to be happy, knowing that it is safe to do so.

I imagined my four year old self sat on my knee as I drove, and in my mind I explained to her that she is now blooming and that all of her time spent in the darkness has made her light so strong, that now she has broken through, nothing will ever be able to hide it away again.

I imagined how I might have felt hearing those words as a four year old, and as I was doing so I had to stop at a crossing. A young girl of about four or five was crossing the road with what I assumed to be her father. The little girl was happily chatting away and her father was attentive and smiling and holding her hand. The girl waved at me and smiled and I waved back. I explained to my four year old self that she was free to be herself now just like the girl who had waved.

The sun has been a recurrent theme for me this week. The sun never gave up shining on me even when I had given up on the sun. Don’t ever give up on yourself, even when everything seems grey, because you never know when the sun is going to break through, and pull you through.

Roots

The roots of a flower are in constant darkness. They find nourishment in this darkness so that the flower is able to grow continuously towards the light. Like a flower, we too are in need of the ability to find nourishment in darkness if we are to blossom.

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When I am in need of shelter

Hot wet tears scald my cheek.

Oh what I’d give, for the courage to speak.

But when I open my mouth,

All I can say is I’m sorry.

I’m ashamed of my feelings.

I’m scared of them too.

How could I ever explain that to you?

So I put pen to paper,

And hope that in time,

I will be able tell you, what goes on inside.

It’s lonely here. I’m tired and aching.

I don’t want to give up, but my soul,

its breaking.

Who can I turn to?

Who can I trust?

When I am in need of shelter.

With no loving family to embrace,

No lovers arms as a resting place,

I look to the sky and I hope for the best as I pray to the universe for the answer.

And as I taste the saltiness of my tears,

I am reminded that just as the waves are a part of the ocean, I too am a part of something much bigger.

And the thought soothes me,

For a while.

The writing on the wall

The following short story is based on a dream I had.

I hope you enjoy it.

It was a day like any other, or so it seemed to some. I don’t believe any two days are alike. There is always something new to be discovered if you look hard enough. A young flower may have found the strength to blossom on the morning after a night of heavy rain, whilst another may have succumbed to it and been destroyed.

My point is, that there is always something different. Maybe something has been added, or maybe something has been taken away, but whatever the difference, each day that passes is undeniably different to the one that went before it. Life does not stand still.

I found this day to be a strange one. I was a stranger, in a strange town, in a strange country, amongst a strange people. I wondered if I was seen as strange here. Perhaps strange is a word that best describes our own feelings about something new, rather than being a true account of whatever it is we believe we are describing. A word we associate with fear that we use to describe something that we are afraid of.

On the morning after my first night in this new country I woke at first light and set off to explore it. Many travellers before me have come to explore this country and it is said that many of them are never seen again. It is a magical country, I am told, and contains within its very essence, the very first sparks of love and peace that have existed long before the dawn of time. Here, I am told, you can find happiness and freedom if your heart is pure and your intentions good.

I hadn’t been travelling for long when I came across a tower made of stone. It reminded me of the towers I had discovered in the fairy tales I had read to myself as a child. This one was different though. It climbed high into the sky and had no visible entrance or way of access to the room I could see at the top of it. I called out hoping for assistance but was disappointed when none was offered. The tower was empty and I was alone.

As we are in an age of technology, I decided to take out my phone and call a friend for advice. But I was left disappointed again, for although this time I was given a response, it was not one I wanted to hear. My friend was adamant that I should stay away from the tower at all costs. The tower was a magic one and there was no one alive who could claim to have climbed it.

It was apparently, an impossible task to reach the room at the top of the tower and that it was precisely at this point, at the foot of the tower where I was stood, where the travellers before me had disappeared. I thanked my friend for their advice but I would not be deterred. I was sure of the pureness of my heart and I knew that my intentions were good. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to know peace and freedom.

I took another step towards the tower and decided that I would try to feel for a secret or hidden door. I placed both hands on the tower and in a flash I was transported to the room at the top it. The room had a stone floor, a stone ceiling and stone walls. There was no doorway but it did have a window.

I took a closer look around and noticed that from floor to ceiling there were rows upon rows of ancient writings etched onto the walls. There were many writings that had been written in languages I could recognise but not understand, and there were many that had been written in what I knew must be, as yet undiscovered languages. The writings that were written in my native language talked of peace and love.

I was astounded and the experience was one of enlightenment. I felt those words and their meanings flow through me and merge with my soul. It was almost as if I had ceased to exist and had been reborn. I was now the writing on the wall. But all too soon the reality of my situation descended upon me and my feelings of enlightenment gave way to feelings of fear. There was no doorway in this room, only a window. How was I going to get out?

I placed my hands on the wall as I had done outside of the tower but nothing happened. I panicked and again rang my friend for advice. My friend was sorry for my predicament but did not believe that anyone could help me now that I was actually inside the tower. For it was a magic tower after all and there was no one alive to explain its mysteries. I promptly said my goodbyes and hurled my phone out of the window. I was angry and frustrated.

I paced around the room for hours, reading and re-reading the ancient writings. When I could read no more I went and sat in the middle of the room. I looked towards the window and felt my anger and frustration return. What good was a magic tower full of ancient wisdom if the people of the land could not find and access it? I had managed to enter it and absorb its teachings, but what use was I if I could not escape from the tower?

Immediately after this chain of thought my eyes were drawn to a carving of a rain cloud as the rain fell from it. I could not remember viewing this particular carving and had no idea how I had missed it, but I knew immediately what I had to do now in order to escape from the tower. I had to wait for the rain.

I now understood the magic of the tower and its message to me was clear. I had become exactly like the tower. Over the years, I realised that I had been building my own magic tower in order to protect myself. As the days passed the walls grew higher and higher until one day the only room I had left to be myself in, was the room inside of my head.

In an attempt to protect myself from all that was unfamiliar to me I had walled myself in and separated myself from people and even my own emotions, and all that was visible to anyone looking in my direction was the tower that I had built. So great was this tower that there was no one alive who could climb it. Like the magical tower, I was full of wisdom, but what use was that if I did not share it. I was full of love, but what did that matter if I could not give or receive it?

As I contemplated this it began to rain and instead of trying to shelter from it I went to the window and embraced it. I felt it wash away all that was unnecessary and useless to me now. I closed my eyes in gratitude and when I opened them I found myself back at the foot of the tower where it had all began. And there I stood in the rain, visible, happy and at peace, refreshed and ready to start my life anew; ready to share my wisdom.

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