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I'm actually talking about a real 'mountain' now, although I'll get on to the metaphorical in just a moment.
I know quite a few people who have climbed summits. I even know some very brave souls who have scaled the highest mountain in the world - Mount Everest in the Himalayas!
In my youth it was something I fancied doing ... well maybe not Everest but certainly smaller mountains ...
However, a medical condition I had in my childhood meant that I don't do well at very high altitude so that was not an option for me. I have been skiing in the mountains but I have always lost a few days of my holiday to severe altitude sickness, so I haven't swished down the slopes for quite a few years now. Truth be told, my knees probably couldn't take the strain now anyway.
I still love the idea of going to the Himalayas and the Andes but I guess I'll just need to do that in my imagination.
Back to why I'm talking about this today.
Well, it was on this day in the year 1919 that a child was born in New Zealand who would go on to become the first of two people to reach the top of Mount Everest.
It was just one of many achievements but, by all accounts, it didn't make Hillary big headed or arrogant. Although his climb made him an international sensation, and of course led to the opening of the mountain for the generations to come, following his ascent of Everest, among other things Hillary devoted himself to assisting the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he established, and which built many schools and hospitals.
To climb a mountain, let alone the highest mountain in the world, takes great bravery, and in 1953 it took exceptional courage. There wasn't the sophisticated equipment including breathing apparatus which exists today, so the peril was severe. Hillary and Tenzing Norgay weren't the first to try to conquer Everest, many many people had attempted it before and failed and even died in the trying. People have died since ... I remember one former teacher who I learned some years after I left school in the 1970s had perished while attempting Everest.
And, of course, many have successfully now followed in Hillary and Norgay's footsteps.
Everest wasn't the only peak in the Himalayas (and other ranges) that Sir Edmund would climb in his lifetime and he knew that it wasn't just about physical bravery but also mental strength.
After climbing Everest Sir Edmund is said to have said this ...
'It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves!'
Stand by for the metaphors ... because of course we all have 'mountains' to climb in our lives. They might not be actual mountains but they feel like that sometimes. Insurmountable conditions under which we are living, difficult people, constrained finances, ill health... you get the idea. Fill in the gaps for yourself.
Before we face these problems in life, maybe we need to consider and perhaps attempt to overcome some of our own issues? Those things which maybe are holding us back from going for our dreams and for the things we know will improve our lives. We need, perhaps, to find ways to ensure we are strong, so we can face what might come and ensure we have the mental, physical and spiritual 'equipment' to cope with it all! I'm not only talking about 'mind over matter', it's more complicated than that. But maybe we need to draw on our inner values and strength to face difficulties and move forward.
It may be hard, but worth trying., if we are to reach our goals in life!
So, whatever your 'mountain' is - hope this encourages you today!
I've scaled back a little on the workload, caught up with friends who I haven't seen for yonks, and because the sun came out here in Jersey, I've managed to get in a few visits to the beach and to SWIM!!
I'm blessed to live in this lovely island where there's lots of opportunities to get out into nature. For me, swimming in the sea is so great, not just because of the exercise, but because for a while when I'm in the water I can forget the worries of the world and the demands on my time and just BE.
In fact, at one point this week when I was just enjoying BEING in the ocean, I tried to practise a bit of 'mindfulness' ... just concentrating on the sounds around me - the waves, the water, the seagulls, the distant sound of laughing children, the sound of a motorboat - and feeling the sun on my cheeks, and the occasion wave smacking me in the face!
I do find detaching myself from day to day worries sometimes difficult but I'm working on it.
And this thought helps me today.
Because I know when I dwell on my problems, they appear larger and more difficult to overcome.
I don't know about you but it feels easy sometimes to get into a negative frame of mind.
The sun isn't shining or it's even chucking down with rain, you've put on (more) weight and feeling a bit unlovely. You don't feel like your life is going anywhere?
If I wake up with those negative thoughts in my head, already worrying about what life will throw at me, then I know I am likely to be fairly pessimistic all day.
So - for me the lesson is - try and have a positive thought in the morning, and everything else will look more optimistic.
That rain? Well the sun could come out! Fingers crossed anyway!
That weight? Well today is the first day of the rest of my life so I could start today with a healthy breakfast?
Feeling unlovely? I ask myself ... 'what is beautiful?' I determine not to judge myself by other people's standards and think more about inner beauty (kindness, love, peace, gratitude, friendship and so on and so on....) rather that outward appearance. I try to remember that I am unique and ask myself 'do I really want to be like anyone/everyone else?'
And smile ... that I believe will always create an intangible 'beauty'.
Life not going the way I thought it would? Well maybe I need to change my direction? Maybe the course I'm on is not the one for me?
Perhaps TODAY is the day I'll start a new life! Or at least start to think about it?
Or, if I don't want to do all that thinking maybe I'll just start with ....
'Today I will enjoy each moment ... it's the only July 13 2021 I will ever get!'
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Yes I know some of you will be working, and others will have to spend the day or even the whole weekend running around doing family chores. All the things you maybe don't have time to do during a very busy week.
I know that some of you reading this will spend the day chasing around after the children, dropping them to parties and events now that, in some places, the COVID19 restrictions are lifting.
However, if you can ... then it might be that you just need to stop today, to breathe and to rest. If possible, do nothing. Nothing at all!
And if it's not possible, at least to kick back a little.
I love this thought. Because life IS all about the balance.
I'm learning that sometimes I just have to walk away from my 'to do' list.
It's really tempting to keep looking at the tech devices and to even get into 'work' emails on the weekend or late at night. But what I'm trying to do is actually to make a distinction in my life between 'work' and 'not work'. Even though I'm now self employed, I'm trying to just step away from 'work' commitments at the weekend. Because I am one of those who does have family 'stuff' that I usually need to attend to and if I'm not careful my life will just get out of control.
Getting a bit of balance is the thing for me this weekend!
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The summer in Jersey so far has been a bit disappointing, to say the least.
We had some days of warmth and sunshine, but the past few weeks have, to be honest, been very 'un-summerlike'.
For someone who loves long weeks of beach, and swimming, and warm nights and enjoying the feel of the sun on her skin, this summer hasn't really come good.
Not yet, anyway.
Glass half full - it's still only early July and we could still enjoy weeks and months of lovely weather well into the autumn, if we're fortunate.
We can hope, anyway.
When I saw this quote on a big wooden canvas in a local charity shop recently (yes, I did take a picture of it - it was too large to bring home) it reminded me, however, that if I wait for the 'perfect conditions' in life, I risk missing out on so much!
If I wait for the sunshine to come out, so to speak, I might not experience wonderful things while the rain is falling.
And, of course, I'm not just talking about the weather.
So - metaphorically and literally speaking - maybe I need to start dancing in the rain!
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Are you one of those who perhaps feels you don't fit in?
Maybe you feel like you work so hard and are never recognised for what you do? Or overlooked? Or taken for granted?
And you don't feel you can speak up for fear of rejection?
Are you one of those who feels 'different' to those around you?
Maybe you don't look like other people, or what people think people should look like? Perhaps you, like me and many others, are a little overweight and in a world where 'skinny' or at least 'thin' is considered standard beauty, you feel out of place?
Perhaps you don't dress in all the latest clothes, live in a posh house, go to the parties that apparently all the 'cool' people attend? You don't carry the right handbags, wear the right very high shoes, drive the right car? Or at least what others think are 'right' in this respect?
Do you live in a culture where ageing is just not on? People spend thousands on plastic surgery and making themselves look younger, or more handsome or prettier?
You know what I mean! There are many many reasons why we might feel we don't fit in with the world. We feel rejected and out of place.
More importantly we KNOW we have talents, so much to offer, but we're just not given the chance to prove it, because we're 'too old', 'too fat', not the right colour, not the right religion, not someone who looks 'successful', not someone who others think deserve a break? Or maybe you're just someone who people don't look at at all!
In a world where, it appears, 'celebrity' is everything, many of us model ourselves on unrealistic images and we discount so many people who don't fit the model.
But I'm guessing even those so-called 'celebrities' don't look great in the morning. Without that botox or the veneers on their teeth, or spending masses on money on makeup and clothes and cars ... they are just humans. Ok, yes, often rich humans. But why are we comparing ourselves to them? They actually have nothing to do with us. They are they and we are we. I am who I am.
I don't know about you but the older I get, the less I tend to worry about others and what they are up to. That's their life.
Yes, it's true that if we are ambitious, or passionate about what we have to offer to the world, it can be frustrating to be passed over, to stand out, to defy the world. But maybe it's just time to take control, recognise that we are 'different' and we have 'different' talents to the clones.
In 2017 a film came out which captured the imagination of the world. It's called The Greatest Showman a musical movie which told the story of P.T. Barnum, best known as an American showman who created a business by pulling off stunts and profiling 'different' people. Some say he took advantage of individuals who others considered 'freaks' but this movie dug deeper than that and highlighted the strength of those people who were marginalised. He was much more, including a politician, businessman, author and philanthropist, but it's the 'circus' badge that has stuck.
Some so-called movie 'experts' were critical of the film saying it was shallow and didn't expose Barnum for the man he was and glamorized what he did and how he made a living through exploitation. But The Greatest Showman was massively popular. It was beautifully filmed, was packed full of stars and the music and songs were FANTASTIC!
P.T.Barnum was born on this day in 1810, so it's a great opportunity for me to talk about the movie and one song in particular which I have listened to many times. We used to sing it in our Community Choir (when choirs were gathering) and it always lifted my heart and gave me courage.
There are many quotes attributed to P.T.Barnum ... including this saying
'The Noblest Art is that of making others happy!'
... but he also apparently had lots to say about being 'different'. And I love that!
I may often appear confident but I don't feel like that sometimes, and I've certainly had to learn to live with my own insecurities, and to try to prevent others from 'bringing me down'. I may not feel that 'brave' and I've certainly been 'bruised', but as the years progress I just want to shout to the world....THIS IS ME! Learn to live with it! If you don't like it, then I don't need to be around you.
And so on and so on...
It makes me feel rather defiant actually. Ok so I may never be a celebrity or even 'acceptable' to many. But I'm not going to let that affect my life! And I won't let it steal my joy! I won't let it stop me trying to share happiness, or be kind, even if others are unkind to me.
Yes, I am different! I don't particularly want to be like everyone else! Why would I want to try to squeeze my personality into someone else's mould?
SO ... here it is ... the song ...
Hope it inspires you too!!
This is Me (by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
I'm not a stranger to the dark Hide away, they say 'Cause we don't want your broken parts I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars Run away, they say No one will love you as you are
But I won't let them break me down to dust I know that there's a place for us For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me Look out 'cause here I come And I'm marching on to the beat I drum I'm not scared to be seen I make no apologies, this is me
Another round of bullets hits my skin Well, fire away 'cause today, I won't let the shame sink in We are bursting through the barricades And reaching for the sun (we are warriors) Yeah, that's what we've become
Won't let them break me down to dust I know that there's a place for us For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me Look out 'cause here I come And I'm marching on to the beat I drum I'm not scared to be seen I make no apologies, this is me
...This is me
And I know that I deserve your love There's nothing I'm not worthy of When the sharpest words wanna cut me down I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out This is brave, this is bruised This is who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come (look out 'cause here I come) And I'm marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on) I'm not scared to be seen I make no apologies, this is me
(Whenever the words wanna cut me down I'll send the flood to drown them out) I'm gonna send the flood, gonna drown them out
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Yes, time flies when you're busy and/or having fun!
I've been writing this daily blog now for six months and, to be honest, I can't believe I've managed to fulfil the commitment every day ... so far. Sometimes I've struggled to find a subject, say something interesting. Other days I'm simply inspired.
And on some days, as you'll be aware if you read this regularly, I turn to the internet for an inspiring thought to share with you.
Which is what I did today.
This seems perfect for me because it's now three months since I set sail on a 'new adventure', giving up my full time job and returning to a life which is a little more precarious as a freelance writer/broadcaster/PR and communications manager.
So far it's been fun, I've had a bit of a rest and I'm now feeling very enthusiastic and encouraged for the future.
So today as we say a fond farewell to the first half of 2021, I for one am trusting that my courage stays intact and that we all continue just to enjoy life, whatever that brings!
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