Selfcare is something many of us struggle with. It is easy to care for a friend or even help a stranger – so why is it so hard to care for ourselves? Some of it is conditioning; perhaps we grew up in a household where it was better (by that I mean 'safer') to keep quiet about our own needs and help where we could. Perhaps we were subtly coerced into doing that or openly praised for helping others and we began to think that to help others was a way of being seen and being loved. We need to challenge those beliefs because we deserve love regardless of our usefulness.
Or maybe we picked up on a vibe in society that gives special credit to people who help others and marks out people as 'bad' or 'selfish' if they don't. We have to challenge that too – and the language around it. Selfcare is not the same as selfishness. Selfcare is simply looking after yourself; listening to what you need and honouring yourself as an individual. How can you ever honour others when you don't honour yourself?
Selfcare is something I am learning myself. Evry so often I embark on a 'Self-kindness practice' for a certain period of time - perhaps a lunar cycle (29 days). I find that this creates a vessel or container for the practice and helps me work through and gain insights. I highly recommend it.
When you start to practice selfcare, you begin to really understand yourself and your boundaries and this helps you to care for others. And it is also more authentic. There is no duty or compulsion. You give from your overflow; you give because you want to; because you have energy to spare. It is a win: win situation! But you won't realise this until you start to really look after yourself. Trust me and give it a go. It will be the least selfish thing you do!
Check out my instagram account @mybeautifulskyphotos for more photos and mindful thoughts. I'm also on Facebook.
As it is Valentine's Day, and dedicated to love, I'm posting a photo of Guan Yin (Kwan Yin), the embodiment of compassion. Her love is broad without judgement. Imagine deferring your own salvation so that you can help others – that is what Guan Yin did. She attained a state of enlightenment but instead of heading for Nirvana, she remained as a bridge between our world and the next so that she could help us to get there too. Her mantra is featured in my new book, Essential Mantras.
Valentine's Day is mostly associated with romantic love, but in some ways romantic love is the most shallow form of love. It may feel vast and deep and dizzying, but it is surface sparkle! and often merely a mirage of what we want to see. A bit like the ego fooling itself. Only when it is tested by hard times, illness or loss can you know that a romantic love is true. I'm not knocking it, though. True love, when you find it, is something to be cherished and nurtured. It is something to be celebrated! But it's not the only kind of love and if you happen to be on your own this Valentine's Day, don't be blue. Romantic love is all fine and dandy, but there is a greater love – and this is something innate within you that you can give to your self. It's called compassion.
Why is compassion a greater form of love? Because it acts beyond the ego. It enables us to love even when we don't really want to. We see that someone who on the outside is ugly (in appearance or deeds), is the same as us on the inside. Compassion lets us give them the 'benefit of the doubt', so to speak, so that we can get past our own affront and love the person, who is actually suffering. Through compassion, we can connect on a human level. We all suffer; we are all imperfect. It can be hard to give compassion to someone who has hurt you, and has no intention of apologising or changing his/her behaviour. So first be compassionate with yourself. No one is expecting you to be like Mother Teresa or Guan Yin. These are very special souls. But it is in your own interest to forgive and move on. Compassion will help you to do this.
The love of friends is another important form of love – and this is a reciprocal kind of love that needs a little work. Unlike the unconditional kind of love that is compassion, platonic love is finely balanced between give and take. In a healthy friendship you are expected to be considerate of the other. That's not to say you can't make mistakes - but when you do, you need to be able to reconcile and say sorry. Friendship teaches us to give and to receive.
Life is in constant flow and we meet all these kinds of love in various amounts and forms. But remember that 'Love is a currency in reverse – the only way to be wealthy with it is to give more of it away' ~ Shane Koyczan.
Connect with me on Insatgram @mybeautifulskyphotos and on Facebook. Sending love and hugs xxx
It's a question most of us ask at some point in our lives, if not several times. But in this case, I'm not talking existentially. I'm posing a question you may have been asking yourself: who is 'Beautiful Sky'? By now you may have seen the occasional poem or quote, and lots and lots of photographs. But who is the human being behind it all...
Well, I'm quite a shy person – it doesn't take a genius to work that out (!!) At a party you will find me in the kitchen (cos it's quieter) chatting to one or two people. Never do you find me 'holding court' in a crowd. And yet... having said that, on occasion I have been known to get up in front of a crowd of strangers to tell a story as part of The Story Collective. And anyone who knows me in real life can tell you the huge effort and anxiety I go through in order to do it. Hmmmm.... it seems that sometimes I am pushed out of my comfort zone. Recently, with the publication of my mantra book, I am pushing myself again and this time it is to be more visible online. So please bear with me – it takes some getting used to (!)
There are not many photos of me, as I tend to be the one behind the camera rather than in front of it. But I appreciate that people might want to know a little bit about me. Ok – so I am a writer, editor and, most recently, photographer (though I feel a bit cheeky saying that as I am still learning). I am also learning to be more mindful and present. Last year I began to develop a practice for myself that involves mindful walking and taking photos. As a result of my mindful practice, I am listening to that little inner voice a bit more – or maybe it's becoming louder (who knows?) And the result was the idea to combine my photos with a selection of my favourite mantras. And to write a book about it!! It was a coming together of my skills AND my passion. How joyful it is to do what you love! So the upcoming mantra book is an offering straight from my heart.
But this book is just the beginning. I feel there are more books to write as I continue on my journey towards wholeness and presence. Thank you for walking with me so far. Be ready for more posts and photos to come...
Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube. Feel welcome to leave a comment below.
I have set a date for the publication of my mantra book Essential Mantras for Everyone. At last! I hear you say :) Well... I wanted an auspicious date, and I reckon the first New Moon of 2018 is just perfect! It will be out on 17 January. Meanwhile, a chance to get acquainted with a truly beautiful mantra, sung by the extraordinary Carrie Grossman. I am so honoured that she has given her blessing for me to make the video below - putting my photos to her beautiful music. Enjoy!
And so another year is upon us... and here we are, a little bit older, a little bit wiser? I guess so. At least I have realised one thing: I need my daily practice! So off I went on 1st January to 'my happy place'. And (in the words of Kate Bush's extraordinary song 'Somewhere Inbetween') 'It was just so beautiful, It was just so beautiful, It was just - so - beautiful...'
These days I don't make New Year's resolutions – they feel too restrictive somehow... a bit of a negatve vibe about them. But I do take time to reflect on what I want less of and what I want more of. Less anxiety, more trust. Less worrying and more dreaming. Less consuming, more creating. Less procrastination, more action!
And each year I have a word to reflect on. This year it is Transition. (Lots of depth in that word – lots of ideas and possibilities). Do you have a word? I highly recommend the practice of taking just one word and finding out what it tells you throughout the year. Don't get too hung up on choosing it. Just go with it – whatever word comes to you. (Sometimes the word shows itself in a dream!) Gift yourself this word, and open to it. Be prepared for synchronicities! We live in an amazing Universe!
I went for another walk this morning (2 Jan)... and I saw my friend the heron! Now, that has to be a good sign, right? I did a quick Google just now and was delighted to discover that one of the many symbolic meanings of the heron is 'easy transitions' Yay!! It also represents the 'in between' state of being (reference the Kate Bush song!)
I do love a bit of Synchronicity! I hope you are feeling refreshed and ready for the new year. May it be just as you dream it to be.
You are welcome to leave a comment – or just say hello! You can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.
In her poem 'Wild Geese', Mary Oliver begins:
'You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.'
Her poem goes on to speak of how we are all part of Nature and we all have our place 'in the family of things'. It seems to me that the point she is making is that all our 'wrongness' is created in our minds. We need to let go of these intellectual concepts and allow ourselves to just be.
Recently I listened to a podcast by an Indian yogi called Sadhuguru, in which he was talking about being more receptive to life and life's gifts. He said that one thing we need to do is to stop 'being good'. 'When you are full of yourself "being good", there isn't much room for anything else!!" And he is right!
It's not that we should never be kind, or helpful or generous. But we should stop trying so hard. It's all about balance. Being good comes naturally when we work on letting go of the ego and accepting ourselves as the imperfect beings we are. We are just fine. Can we accept our imperfect selves?
Curiously, Christmas reminds me of how this 'being good' vibe is drummed into us at an early age. "Have you been good this year?" we ask our children. "If you have, then Santa will bring you some presents!" How about we rewrite this story? How about we say "Have you been yourself this year? Have you been sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes inbetween? Great, well every gift in the Universe is yours – and it always has been, no matter what you did or didn't do."
Now wouldn't that be something!!!!??
Happy Christmas! xxx
Such a beautiful moon last night – glowing in pink and purples of a sunset sky. The full moon represents completion. It is time to contemplate all that you have done in the past month, to enjoy the fullness and satisfaction of what you have accomplished, and to let go and clear the way for new ideas and projects.
For me the huge task of writing, illustrating and designing my mantra book is done. The hardest part is over – now I just need to make a few adjustments and corrections and it will be ready to set sail into the world!! I am so excited about it!
The full moon is also a symbol of enlightenment. What new insights have you experienced this past month? For me there have been several 'A-haaa' moments. These seem to be accelerating, the more I tune in and say, 'Yes'.
A luminous face,
watches over the night,
Listens to dreams...
There are two parts to forgiveness: the saying sorry and the forgiving. It is like a bridge to resolution, so a rainbow is a fitting image. But even if you are only able to do one part, the forgiving or the apologising, it is worth doing. You stand on the bridge and hope the other will join you in the rainbow.
'Be like the sun:
forgive the rain and make a rainbow.'
I am a writer not a TV personality. I say this because publishers these days kind of expect you to be both. Ever noticed how easy it is for a TV chef or wildlife presenter to bring out a book? I'm not knocking them – good for them – but what about the people who don't like standing in the limelight? They may have something important to say – but who is going to listen?
It all comes down to 'marketability'. Publishers are running a business; they want a sure thing. The TV chef is a 'no brainer'. But a relatively unknown author – that's a bit of a risk. But don't mistake a publisher's reluctance to take you on as a measure of your artistic worth. It's simply a business decision.
So what can authors do? Well, we write (cos, let's face it, we're going to do that anyway). We work diligently, submitting our pieces to journals and entering competitions. Many rejections later... and a few successes... gradually, gradually we build up a presence.
That is all well and good. And it does work. But what if you have a book that you want to 'get out there'? You can't sit around and wait. So you self publish.
And if you are going to self publish – you have to do the whole self-promotion gig. That means, blogging, social networking... and generally 'being seen'. Now for someone who doesn't like being in the spotlight, this is uncomfortable. But it's necessary.
When I wrote 'Essential Mantras for Everyone' I quickly realised that I would have trouble finding a publisher. I began to doubt myself... Why on earth did I write it? Who would want it? What is the purpose...? The answers are easy:
Why write it? Because I want others to experience mantras and enjoy the benefits. Also to prove to myself that I could have an idea and see it through to completion (for me this is HUGE).
Who would want it? Anyone who is interested in meditation and spiritual development. And that's a lot of people.
What is the purpose? To communicate, connect and share. To encourage me to create more books!
And so I have decided to publish the book through CreateSpace. It's on its way.... I am feeling VERY uncomfortable – but excited too. And, you know what? It's OK to feel self-doubt. It's human. I just have to keep telling my inner self the mantra below:
Just a few words and a picture.
I have a new Mantra book out, click here for details :)