Don’t mock or walk upon the hearts of those who are soft, gentle, kind and attuned to the changing ethos of humanity. Be grateful they walk amongst us. They are the ones who care for those who can not care for themselves. They see where our world is broken and run to repair the fabric of a brittle planet and it’s fragile people. These gentle hearts, quietly and, without expectation, shelter us and keep us safe. Some see their compassion and empathy and see weakness. But my darlings, these are the ones who have the greatest strength. They carry the weight of our collective rigidity, and the pieces of our shattered world upon their shoulders, so others, don’t have to. They clear the path, then help us walk it.
Showing up for each other is easy. Sometimes, all we have to do is listen; not to judge, not to advise, not to jump in with our own commentary, but to listen, really listen, with the kindness and compassion of our whole heart.
Nothing hurts more than the lack of affection we give ourselves.
It’s not arrogant, big-headed or egotistical to like or even love yourself, in fact, it’s necessary.
If you seek love, look in the mirror, learn to appreciate, accept and love that reflection.
Treat yourself kindly, talk to yourself kindly. Nurture your body, mind and spirit with kindness, gratitude and acceptance.
We place far too many expectations on others to love us and make us happy. Your happiness is your job. My happiness is my job. When we learn to love ourselves, we have fewer expectations of others, and that’s liberating. Amongst 7 billion people on this planet, there’s no one like you. You’re a magnificent, unique, beautiful and mysterious masterpiece. Treat yourself like one. Love yourself like one.
Once upon a time there was a boy named Woo. Woo pondered the concept of “light.” He had heard terms such as: “He lit the way for others.” “She was a beckon of light.” “He lit up the room.” “She was glowing.”
Woo did not understand these terms. He only knew light as the warmth and glow radiating from the sun or the light from a candle.
He was perplexed has he contemplated how a person could be “light.” So, Woo asked his mother; “Mother, how does a man light the way for others.” “You will know when someone lights your path and leads you out of the darkness,” she replied.
He asked his grandfather; “Grandfather, how does a woman become a beckon of light?” “You will know when your mind is awakened and inspired by the wisdom and knowledge of your teachers,” replied his grandfather.
He asked the village healer; “How can a person glow or radiate light? The healer replied, “You will know when you observe a mother holding her child for the very first time.
All the replies Woo received were different. He still did not understand, so he wandered to the river to sit and contemplate what he’d been told.
Woo saw a disheveled, homeless man sitting next to the River. “Why do you live like this, alone and without a home?” Woo asked the man?
“What makes you think I’m alone and without a home?” ask the man. “The earth is my home. I’m surrounded by the beauty and light of the world, I’m not alone at all.
The response from the man surprised Woo. “What is the light of the world?” Woo asked.
The man replied “You will know when you witness the smallest act of kindness and your heart is touched. You will know when you no longer judge others for the way they look, think or live, but rather seek to accept and love those who share your path, because you understand we are all apart of a greater light.
“I don’t understand,” said Woo.
“Close your eyes and tell me what you hear?” asked the man. Woo closed his eyes and listened. “I hear the powerful rush of the river,” said Woo. “What created the river?” asked the man. “Many drops of rain falling from the sky.” Woo replied. “That’s correct,” said the man. “One raindrop can not force a river downstream but together the droplets are powerful.”
The man then asked Woo to look into the sky. Woo did as he was asked. “What do you see?” asked the man. “I see stars lighting up the sky,” said Woo. “That’s correct, said the man. “One star alone cannot light the sky, but many stars together with the moon can create a path that guides ships and weary sailors home.
“Now, touch the ground.” Woo placed his hands on the ground. “What do you feel? asked the man. “Many blades of grass,” said Woo. “That’s right,” said the man. “The ground is solid. It holds back the river and helps the river stay it’s course. All those tiny blades of grass with their roots intertwined, are a part of the solid foundation which guides the river to the sea where it meets other rivers and together they fill the Ocean.”
At that moment, “a light” went on in Woo’s head. “I think I understand!” Woo exclaimed. “Everything is connected. Each of us is like one small star, one droplet of rain or one blade of grass.“
“Yes,” said the man. “Each star, each rain drop, each blade of grass and each one of us shine, grow or flow in different directions. However, when we work together we create something stronger, brighter, better, and more powerful. We shine our light when we share our courage, strength, wisdom, acts kindness or love with others. We don’t all shine the same. But, we all shine.”
Woo now understood. “Thank you,” said Woo, for shining your light on my path.” “And, yours onto mine,” replied the man.
There are times we need to let go of material things as they create clutter, cause us stress and block us from moving forward.
Likewise, there are times we have to let go of people, as they also block our growth, cause us stress and hold us back.
During the course of our lives we’re in a constant state of growing out of one thing as we grow into another.
Our beliefs, feelings, plans, habits, clothing, homes, jobs and even friendships, can often feel like they no longer fit. If this sounds like you, then you’re doing what we’re all supposed to. Your growing.
As we age, have new experiences, acquire new wisdom and become exposed to new thinking and ideas, we outgrow parts of ourselves that no longer fit or serve us, we also outgrow the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of some people. It’s okay.
This growth doesn’t mean you or they are bad people, it merely implies you’ve outgrown the things you once had in common and, you might now be blocking each other’s paths towards further growth.
I’m not the same person I was when I was 20, 30, 40 or 50. I’m not supposed to be. I’ve grown, so have you. So it makes sense that we might grow away from each other.
How do we know if we’re outgrowing certain people? Most of us feel it.
Conversations begin to feel awkward or forced, you might bicker more often over trivial things, you may no longer feel emotionally or intelligently connected or feel bored or disengaged when you do spend time together. The relationship might feel tight or constrained like those jeans you outgrew two decades ago but hang on to “just in case.”
When we do realize its time to say goodbye to a friend, lover, business partner, therapist, hairdresser or another person; we don’t have to be mean spirited or cast blame. Recognizing you no longer serve a higher purpose in each other’s lives is enough. Thank these souls for the shared memories, the lessons and their role in shaping who you’re becoming. Then, wish them well and move along.
Life can sometimes feel like meeting a stranger on an airplane. You spend several hours sitting next to one another. You enjoy each other’s company. You engage in interesting conversations, have a few laughs, you might share the arm rest, offer them half of your kit-kat or watch a movie together. You may even fall asleep on their shoulder and drool.
Then, when the plane lands you say good bye, head to different terminals, get on your respective connecting flight and move forward. It was a beautiful encounter, but your time together is over. Now you’re on different flights, traveling different paths.
We get this one big beautiful life. If we’re doing “it” right we’ll have many beautiful encounters, and, we’ll constantly be growing and outgrowing things, even each other.
Its all good, its normal, it’s life.
Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️
“Growing apart, doesn’t change the fact that for along time, we grew side-by-side, our roots will always be tangled, and for that I’m grateful.”
As a child, I grew up in a loud, hectic, sometimes frenzied Irish Catholic home, buzzing with family gatherings, birthday parties, activities related to my moms real estate business, the daily preparations required for my Dad’s restaurant, the screech of musical instruments being practiced, seven children running-playing-fighting, mom hollering out orders, lots of pets (including my sister Suzie’s pet rooster) cousins, aunts, uncles and friends constantly coming and going.
It was loud and it was busy.
Up until a few years ago, my adult life had also been a constant buzz of career busyness, multiple moves, volunteer work, my boys, their antics and extracurricular activities, house guests, exchange students, lots of pets and a busy social life.
For decades I craved alone time, it never arrived. Then, one day it did.
There I sat on the floor in my kitchen, living alone for the first time in over 40 years. And, I’d never felt so lost, so alone or so sad.
My children were grown, my eldest son had passed away, my marriage had ended, I was retired and had stepped away from community service to manage health issues.
Over the course of my life I had drawn my identity from the many hats, roles and responsibilities I had worn, and the busyness that kept my mind and life occupied.
After decades of being somebody’s sister, daughter, mother, wife, boss, employee, volunteer, now I was, well, I had no idea.
I was exhausted, probably depressed and didn’t feel emotionally able to reach out or connect with anyone, in fact, I didn’t want too.
My little spirit was spent, she needed to rest. She knew we had to turn inward, to feel the deepest sense of loneliness and loss before we could reimagine what our life should be. So, I surrendered. I listened, and let her guide me.
I cocooned myself for several month, slowing growing new wings and transforming the life I had lived over several decades, into something new, different and purposeful.
It was during my alone time that I learnt how to quiet the busyness in my mind and listen to the thoughts percolating in the deepest corners of my soul.
I was able to focus on my health, read a few books, took a lot of walks and did some amazing solo travel. I tapped into creative pursuits that had always been there, but hadn’t been exercised in along while.
Then, I began to remember who I was, I mean, who I really was. To my surprise I realized that I’m more of an introvert than I imagined. I came to recognize and appreciate some of the creative traits and habits I had inherited from my father. I understood what it must have been like for my mother when her career came to an end, her children had left the nest, her husband had passed away and she had to create new purpose and joy in her life. I developed a deeper sense of empathy and gratitude for both my parents.
Being alone taught me that my happiness and my joy is my job. We can not expect our partners or our children or anyone to be responsible for, or be, our only source of happiness. We must cultivate our own interests, hobbies and joy.
Being alone has power. Once we learn how to be alone and be happy, we can better recognize if our life choices are drawn from a place of happiness or loneliness.
My alone time is now something I look forward to. It’s during my alone time that I get to visit the best parts of myself and I remember what it is I’m here to do.
It is in this quiet space that I continue to lay down the stepping stones towards my own growth.
I’ve evolved my perception of loneliness over the past few years into an understanding that ~ Loneliness does not come from not having others around us, it comes from not knowing our purpose, our passions and ourselves.
Alone time, when we use it well, allows us time to think, to recharge, to be creative, to foster self reliance and helps us unearth our authentic selves. It also allows us to re-examine who we want in our lives and the types of relationships we want to cultivate.
I love the quote;
“Not all those who wander are lost”
~ from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem “The Riddle of Strider”, this quote echoes my own belief that ~ When we wander alone ~ we find ourselves.
When embraced, being alone can be peaceful, healing and healthy. It’s an opportunity to find ourselves without the commentary and expectations of anyone else and, just BE.
Rainy Monday mornings, the perfect opportunity for rambling reflections☔️.
Outside, dull gray clouds drop rain from the sky, creating small pools of water on my patio. I’m snuggled inside, coffee in one hand, pen in the other and a fire warming my toes. My puppy Bo’ is also snuggled up, enjoying the calm a morning like this brings.
An array of birds are taking shelter in the hedge outside my window, popping out every so often to pluck a worm from the ground and take it back to the nest.
The wind and the chill provide the perfect opportunity to sink into a cozy ponder of thought. My first thought being; I am so blessed and grateful for this life.
The day also provides the opportunity to ask; “What did I learn or observed last week that will help me this week?” Hmm so many thoughts come to mind.
I observed a war that makes no sense. Young men, woman, fathers and mothers, fighting and dying for the deranged ego of a narcissistic leader. What if they all just put down their weapons and walked away, walked back to their homes and families? War is pointless. No one person should ever hold so much power over so many. War teaches us how fragile our lives, our way of life and our planet is. So this week I will live with a more grateful and compassionate heart.
Last week, I observed thousands, maybe millions of people around the world unite to support those in need and those who are hurting. These acts of humanity have reminded me that the human spirit has a huge capacity to care, to help and to love. We’re so much better when we work together. So, I will join others, when I can, to make our world a better place.
I observed the selfish and reckless behaviour of a few, bent on getting their way irregardless of the impact their actions had on others, cause disruption and chaos. Witnessing this type of behaviour reminds me that our actions, even when merely observed, can have a far reaching impact. Someone is always watching, observing and learning, including our children. Our actions can create positive ripples or waves of destruction, the choice is ours.
I observed how little it takes to make myself happy. A few stones collected from the seashore, a paint brush and my imagination, can clear my mind and keep me busy for hours. We don’t always need to have great expectations of ourselves. The best things are often simply things and simple moments, and the calm and contentment these moments bring.
As you start out this new week, I hope you reflect on what learning you will take with you, what type of ripple you create and what behaviours or expectations you will leave behind. Whatever you decide, I hope it brings you (and perhaps others) calm, contentment and peace ☮️. Love Toni ~ 🌹❤️
Individual freedom would imply you are not tied or tethered to anyone or anything. You are free to go, do, say or be whatever you want.
But, that’s not exactly the reality of the world we coexist in. We are individual human threads, interwoven across the colourful patchwork we call humanity.
None of us are completely free, nor will we ever be (well, until, you know😇). We are connected, whether we like it or not.
When the fabric at one end of the patchwork is torn, it affects us all and there is potential for ALL OF US to unravel.
It’s to our collective benefit ~ whether there’s a war, a pandemic or natural disaster~ to rally and support the piece of the patchwork that’s damaged or suffering. There’s a shared responsibility for “the whole”, to which we all benefit and to which we all have a responsibility. Bee’s get it🐝.
We spend a lot of time espousing our individual freedoms and rights, but not a lot of time teaching children (or ourselves) about our individual responsibilities and interdependence.
Despite what the song says, we are “NOT” Born Free. We are born into a hive that is completely interdependent and reliant on social cooperation. What happens to one of us, affects all of us.
“Bee” kind to each other and this beautiful, sort-of-happy, hive that is our shared home.
Is social media ruining our personal and romantic relationships?
Are we forgetting how to communicate?
Are adults spending too much time scrolling through pics of their ex, the cute girl or guy from the office or their latest obsession, when they should be spending time building and growing the important relationships in their lives?
Apparently, we are.
One third of all divorce cases since 2016 in the UK, cite “social media” in the proceedings as a cause for disharmony in the relationship. Another survey suggests one third of all relationship break ups “worldwide” are the results of social media behaviour and engagement. 😮
But let’s be clear, it’s not necessarily the fault of social media, it’s the temptation it breeds to be stealth, sneaky, and disengage from real relationships and engage in unfettered behaviour that’s causing the problem.
The ease in which people can scroll and get away with flirting, sexting, viewing, stalking and micro-cheating make it easy to engage online.
This environment also makes it easy for disinformation and conspiracy theory’s to be spread and wreak havoc on our family’s, and our personal and romantic relationships. I’ll write more about that on another day.
Good communication is essential to good relationships. Our obsession with social media has destroyed communications between partners, parents and their children and caused breakups between friends.
A 2015 poll of adults found that 89 per cent admitted they took out a phone to view social media during their last social gathering. 82 per cent say the conversation they we’re having, deteriorated after they did. 71 percent also admitted to using social media in ways they knew their partner wouldn’t like, e.g stalking an ex, flirting, staying connected to a crush or viewing pics of a cutie from work.
A number of studies also point to a decline in our mental health from over exposer to social media.
Social networking sites are rampant with opportunities for self-promotion and ego-boosting. The number of narcissists feeding on likes, new followers, complementary comments and love emoji‘s from those willing to offer them up to feed their own desires and fantasies, is staggering.
Both the narcissist and those following them (and enabling them) are contributing partially to the downfall of real life communications and relationships.
A study led by mental health research Julia Brailovskaia, showed that narcissism is associated with high levels of Facebook and Instagram use. Her study also shows, the need for popularity and ego boosting can be dangerously addictive.
Of course social media is not all bad. It allows us to stay connected, reconnect and reach out. However, when it takes us away from our primary relationships, makes us mentally unwell, impacts our real world communications, erodes trust in our romantic relationships or is being used to spread misleading information or cause harm, then maybe it’s time for a break.
There is so much information on this topic, so, I’ve posted a few links below which relate to the studies and information I’ve referenced above for those who are interested in this topic.
So, on this happy day-after-Valentine’s-post, I think it’s time for me to take a break, turn off my social media platforms for a bit, and spend some time in the real world.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, real world, rest of the week.