Soft Hearts

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.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️

We outgrow things, even each other.

Toni O’KEEFFE

April, 2022,

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.”

~ Ally Condie

Overcome your loneliness by being alone.

By Toni O’KEEFFE

April, 2022

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.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~❤️🌹

**artwork ~ The Secret Window by Shawna Erback

Is it time for a social media break up?

By Toni O’KEEFFE

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.

Take time to look back to see how far you’ve come.

I love this girl.
She used to be shy, afraid of the world, and worried about what she might become.

I’d like to go back in time, give her a hug and whisper in her little ear;
“You’re perfect just as you are. There’s going to be some storms and you’ll face them. You’ll get lost now and then, but you’ll always find your way back.
Every once and awhile you’ll forget who you were meant to be, but then you’ll remember and you’ll be fine. Everything’s going to be okay.”
❤️
I’m grateful I got to be her when she grew up.
❤️
At times, life seems to inches along so slowly and you don’t realize how far you’ve come or how much you’ve grown. Then, you turn around and wow, it hasn’t inched along at all. Time has flown by. You’ve crossed oceans, navigated storms, trudged through some muck, fought some battles, have a few scars, climbed mountains, seen some breathtaking vistas, met amazing people and covered a lot of ground. And damn, you should celebrate all that.

Take time to look back, reflect and remind yourselves how far you’ve come.
You might be surprised to find, you’ve come a long, long amazing way baby.
So, Cheers to you!
🥂❤️

Stop worrying so much about do little ~

Beautiful friend.
Stop worrying so much about so little.

Don’t worry about the ones that left you behind, be grateful for the ones who are still by your side.

Don’t worry about promises not kept or plans that didn’t work out. They weren’t supposed to, they weren’t meant for you.

Don’t worry about the past or be angry, jealous or spiteful about days gone by. Be grateful for the lessons and move on.

What hurt you yesterday, has already begun to heal today. If yesterday didn’t go exactly as you hoped, today the slate is clean, you get to start over.

We’re all magical, messy, mixed up little souls painting lives that are constantly works in progress. So, my beautiful friend, stop being so hard on yourself and stop worrying so much, about so little.

Be gentle with yourself today and every day.
Just relax you messy little soul, just relax.
TO’K~ 🌹❤️

Pain can be a beautiful teacher~

We learn more during life’s painful moments and challenges, than we learn in our moments of glory.

Each stabbing ache, each crushing disappointment, each heartbreak, every loss or painful fall from grace, allows us an opportunity to grow and become stronger.

Whether it’s emotional or physical; pain forces us to slow down, rest and take the time we need to heal.

Getting knocked down isn’t always a bad thing. Pain can leave us humbled, wiser and more patient. It allows us to lower our veil, be vulnerable, more tolerant and compassionate towards the pain we see or even cause, in others.

Sometimes pain itself is the cure for the things in life that hurt us; as it slows us down long enough to evaluate what and who is important.

When pain knocks on your door, let it in, sit with it. Let it show you what it wants you to see, to learn or to grow into.

Pain always, ALWAYS, brings with it opportunities for transformation. Opportunities to wrap yourself in your cocoon, and when you’re ready, to emerge with greater clarity about who you are, what’s important, why you’re here and how you want to live, love, play and BE.

Pain can be a beautiful teacher. Don’t waste your pain on “the pain” use this opportunity as a stepping stone to chart the next chapter of your journey.

Your pain will hurt you, it will also help, heal and lead you.

TO’K ~ 🌹❤️

Your words have weight. Exercise them carefully.~

I dislike and rarely use, the term “The truth hurts.” because, it doesn’t always have to.

Even when we convey disappointing or unpleasant information, we can still use words to reassure, comfort, support, show empathy, motivate, inspire, educate or encourage optimism.

In a world where it’s easy to use multiple mediums to fire off messages filled with emotional backlash and sometimes dire consequences, we need to choose our words carefully.

It’s not always “the truth” that hurts, it can be the mis-truths, the half truth, the lies, the mean spirited intent behind the words or how a message is delivered, that hurts.

Your words can break a spirit or save it, bring light to someones day or shroud it in darkness, can lift someone up or tear them down, can soften a heart or make it cold, deliver tears of joy or tears of sorrow, can influence opinion and evoke emotion.

Our words are little bullets. On average, most of us fire off approximately 7000 of them every single day. (OK some of us may use a few more than that😊)

When eloquently strung together those 26 little letters (if you speak English) can make up words that move us to create, laugh, cry and touch one another in the most profound ways.

Before you speak or send a message ask yourself; have I been kind? have I been sensitive? is the information true? is the information even necessary?

Then ask yourself “Will my words cause pain or discomfort?” If they will, ask yourself how you can be supportive, inspire or encourage optimism, healing and growth?

It’s equally important to be cautious with your silence. Our words when left unspoken, can be just as powerful. The things we do not say or do not ask or do not explore, can send messages indicating we do not care, we’re not interested or we’ve given up. Words left unspoken sometimes create a void others fill with assumptions. Most often, incorrect assumptions.

Other times your silence is exactly what the situation calls for. It says I’m not going to engage in what might be an emotionally charged setting. So rather than using your words, it might be best to listen compassionately to the words of others.

Your words both spoken and unspoken belong to you. Before you fire them off or keep them locked in your holster, consider the impact and the consequences of each powerful bullet.

No work-out routine, diet program, steroid, or sizeable muscle mass will give you more power than the weight your words.
Exercise them carefully.

Toni O’Keeffe~🌹❤️

You don’t have to fit in

Let’s stop telling each other to “fit in”.
We either fit or we don’t.
If we don’t, we’re not supposed to.

If I tried to force my body into a size 0 pair of jeans, the experience would be painful. I’d look awful, I’d be uncomfortable, feel horrible and I wouldn’t be able to move or share my gifts.

So why do we try and make souls fit where they’re not supposed to? or, be things they’re not meant to be?

Our “have to fit in” culture has caused generations of beautiful, creative, intelligent, loving souls to feel less than they are and has stifle their contribution to the world.

The world needs your kind of magic.
Don’t hide the colourful, quirky, woo-woo in you.
If you do, how will your tribe ever find you?

Toni O’K ~🌹❤️

Allowing yourself and others to change and grow

I was listening (okay I was ease dropping) on a conversation the other day.

Two women were chatting about a common “friend”who is constantly changing.

“She can’t stay in one place,” one of them said. “She has changed jobs four or five times since I’ve known her,” the other one commented in that rolling her eyes tone of voice.

I heard phrases like;

“Get her act together,”

“Stick with one relationship,”.

“Her bohemian phase,” and

“She needs to decided if she’s Buddhist, an atheist or something different.”

Hmm, their “friend” sounds a bit like me in my late 30’s.

It appeared they believed those who are constantly changing are somehow broken.

I have a completely different perspective.

I believe we should be constantly changing.

You’re allowed to change your mind or shift your perspective. Especially when it comes to the big stuff. That’s how we grow.

The knowledge, experience and insights we acquire over the course of our lives SHOULD shape and change us.

My God, if I was still living my life based on the insights and experience of my 12 year old self, I’d be a hot mess of jellybeans, acne and mood swings, guided by my crush on Bobby Sherman and a desire to grow boobs.

Like everything on the planet, we’re supposed to change. Those little seeds we come from are supposed to take root, grow, blossom and then we shed our leaves (aka Feng~shui your life) rest, and start all over again and again and maybe again.

You don’t have to stay in a particular mind set, job, relationship or community if it no longer feels right. When we change our mind, shed old thinking and outdated perspectives, it means we’re thinking, pondering and working our brain muscles. It means we’re growing and creating the space for new adventures, new relationships and new opportunities.

I hope you allow yourself to constantly change and grow. And, along the way you let go of the attitudes, beliefs and people that no longer give you life. If you can’t, at least don’t judge the ones that are.

Toni O’K~🌹❤️