I had become a little bit addicted to self-improvement sites and books but Christmas 2011 felt like a significant turning point for me. I was feeling healthier and much happier. I made some “stay the same resolutions” on New Year’s Eve– things I had started doing that I wanted to keep doing (positivelypresent.com): Stay present. Keep Learning. Be grateful. Play/create. Be positive. Enjoy simple pleasures.
I had figured out what I enjoyed doing and was doing lots of it. I was “embracing my inner child” and playing with puzzle games, colouring in (Colouring Mandalas), watching kid’s films and spending time playing with my young cousins.
In January 2012 I felt ready to connect with the world again and I signed up to a dating website. I wasn’t 100% certain that I actually wanted to date again but I felt ready to at least try chatting online from the safety of my own home in order to gain some self-confidence.
In early February I started chatting to someone and I felt a strong connection so when he asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch I said yes, despite feeling completely terrified. It was probably the best decision I have ever made.
I had read an article on Live Bold and Bloom.com on embracing your inner adult and realised that while indulging in in-depth self analysis had got me back on track, to a pretty good place, I needed to balance the scales a bit. Start more “doing” and less thinking, more living and less analysis.
Things coasted for a little while. I was on an emotional high and enjoying the early days of a new relationship.
In May I reached a point where I started to think about my purpose and came across The Happiness Hop books by Tim Pond. I read these and worked through the workbook. This gave me a definite sense of direction but I didn’t fully feel I had found an answer to the question of my purpose.
In early June I was browsing on Pinterest, which had become another recently developed obsession, and came across something called Zentangle. I did a bit a research online and was hooked. I have never been artistic. My art teacher at school always used to tell me to “go and finish it” when I tried to hand in my work and I never understood what she meant. I couldn’t “do” art. But with Zentangle it doesn’t matter. The point isn’t what the final product looks like. It’s about the “doing”, the meditative effect it has on me. But I was putting pen to paper and was actually producing small pieces of art work which I was quite proud of.
Then towards the end of July everything froze.
My Grandma started behaving strangely and we ended up taking her to hospital. She was diagnosed with multiple inoperable brain tumours. They said she probably had less than 6 months left. She said she had had a good life and it was simply her time to go. She wanted to be in her own home so she spent the last months of her life surrounded by her family and friends.
Between July and mid-January 2013 I felt like I was holding my breath. I couldn’t meditate. I didn’t do any zentangling. I couldn’t write my blog. I was becoming depressed and withdrawn again. And the more down I got, the more I was beating myself up because I felt I wasn’t capable of doing enough to support my family. It was a vicious circle.
My Grandma had been so positive throughout her illness, and her life generally, and just after she died I realised that I should try to learn from her example.
I made a conscious decision to focus on being more optimistic, love those close to me as much as possible and reconnect with myself – my breathing, my senses and my values, to start enjoying my journey again. I also decided to try and connect more with others, as journeys are always more fun with company….