Could-Be Obstacles

My youngest daughter has, through illness, had to pull out of the final year of her Honours course. She kept going, when able, to the lectures, because she couldn’t bear to think it might be her last one, and opted to have lunch with a close friend rather than attend what was everyone’s last lecture. It was a difficult day for her. Though she is now thankfully recovering, it would not have been possible to catch up on three months of coursework and lectures that she missed, or to complete her dissertation.

Sometimes, life gets in the way of all the plans you make and then it’s perfectly okay to experience grief, loss and sadness. How she felt had nothing to do with having a Pity Party or feeling sorry for herself. To fail to acknowledge or feel these emotions would mean she was not being true to herself. Or human. It’s only if she was bitter at options that closed off or at unrealised dreams, or if she remained stuck, that problems would arise. For now, to go “with the flow,” could well be to feel pretty miserable.

Louise Hay says we remind ourselves at these times that “All Is Well, For My Higher Good.” Jenni’s Great Auntie Belsie used to say, “This Too Will Pass” (which I recently discovered won a competition for wisdom in the time of the Ancient Greeks). I’ve found both phrases work well for me in helping me live with what IS right now.

I’ve learned to be grateful for the times I didn’t get what I wished for. With “hindsight insight” I am even grateful my failures, my wrong turns, my mistakes, my blocked exits and all the obstacles I’ve had to find ways to clamber over or get around. All of them have brought me to where I am now and to WHO I am now. None of it was wasted time. It was waiting time.

I know enough of her positive attitude to life to know she will bounce back from this and follow her own path. Her right-now path that leads to her right path. As I was thinking of this, I happened to read Pat O’Donohue’s comment on ‘could be’ obstacles; a way of seeing things in a different way. He says:

“Here in the Burren you are befriended by rocks and stones wherever you go. They only become obstacles if you can’t find your way around them. When we were being introduced to the world of garden and meadow it was natural to see a massive grey conversation piece protruding through the brown soil or the green grass. The rows of vegetables never seemed perturbed as they continued around the possible obstacle like the flow of the river meandering on its way further down the valley.

In fact, the fruits of the garden often flourished in the vicinity of this rock. The heat of the limestone warmed the seed and its size sheltered the tender young blossom. It also presented the tired back with a justifiable occasion of straightening and rest. In a mysterious way it seemed beneficial, if not necessary, to have a ‘could be’ obstacle on your path.”

I had never thought of a massive rock in a field like this; I would have been more likely to see it as something to be removed, or something that made planting anything in it’s vicinity to be a waste of time. So then it’s ultimately all about perspective, or how to choose to see what is in front of you.

I don’t know what’s in front of you ; I don’t know what is in front of me either! But my wish for us all is that whatever ‘could be’ obstacles are in our paths, may they mysteriously ultimately turn out to be beneficial. X

When the chips are down

Even for those who are naturally positive, there are times when choosing to be happy may be a deliberate action, repeated moment by moment, hour by hour and day by day.  Some days – when life is going well – it’s easy to choose happiness; only a fool isn’t happy when life is good.  But life happens – and so does death, disappointment, sorrow, disaster and darkness.  When you’re actually living through dark times, can you choose to be happier?

Some people might say that choosing to be happier simply means you are not dealing with life.  Instead, you are probably finding ways to avoid pain, ignore feelings and you are actually living life in an altered state that is “other than real life?” 

But what if you fundamentally believe that you can choose your happiness – and you teach others this?  When the chips are down, will this belief sustain you?  Today’s post is a guest post from Mary McPherson, director of The Relaxation Company in Perth, Scotland.  I first heard Mary speak in 2006 at a business exhibtion in the SECC in Glasgow in what happened to be my own annus horribilis. I was in a job I hated that conflicted with all my values, I felt stuck because of what was going on in my husband’s business at the time; I was stressed, depressed -and had got to a stage where I could see no options.  

In the job I was in, for the first time I was stuck in how to deal with colleagues, managers and those I managed.  I researched a number of courses and finally settled on an NLP Practitioner course – and thus began my love affair with the power of the mind.  It would take a year or so for this course and the rest of my reading (and thinking and journaling) to make a difference; but it’s the difference that has made the difference since. 

Turning myself around in the year that was my annus horribilis meant 2006 was a launching pad for my subsequent research on happiness and the power of the mind, so I’m grateful for it.  Mary’s story resonated with me at the time and since that, we’ve become friends – and I’ve seen how a similar belief makes all the difference to her, and those she now works with through The Relaxation Company. 

2011 has been a year of mixed blessings for her – the birth of another grandchild and the growth of her company combined with illness and loss.  Mary teaches many things, and is at the leading edge of some programmes aimed at supporting our teachers.  She is also someone who feels deeply so this blog is coming from someone who is living in the real world and not from someone who has a mask plastered on their face or who glosses over things to avoid feelings.  Her loss is real – but so is her response to that here.  Mary says:

After an interesting couple of months with various personal issues I have had a real opportunity to test the years of training in Awareness! There have been many difficult moments as I try to navigate my way through unfamiliar territory, but there have also been as many if not more remarkable and beautiful times too. As many of you know Jim had a heart attack early in June – completely out of the blue – from which he is making a good recovery after exceptionally good service from the NHS. My daughter had a beautiful baby boy called Cameron 4 days later and I arrived in Canada to be with them the following day. The joy and the sorrow are most definitely two sides of the same coin when one has to leave after just beginning to get to know this new little soul!
I returned with jet lag as not experienced before and then my dear Dad suffered a massive stroke and died on 11th July – and again the pain and joy were taken to a new level. However many of you have been so supportive of me and my family over these last few months – cards, messages, emails and many hugs have made a huge difference for which I want to say Thank You! Over and above I would also say that some of the tools that I have found most useful out of my toolkit have been Kum Nye, meditation, the podcasts from Sounds True – in particular Bruce Lipton which can be listened to at: I played a little of this at our Associates meeting this month to give everyone a flavour of the wisdom imparted in these free podcasts. A few people at the meeting weren’t sure how to download podcasts, so if this is the case, let me know and I will advise.

It is also worth mentioning that the tools which I have learned during the Champion for Wellbeing programme have had a massive influence on my behaviour through these difficult times. As we all know, it is often the seemingly little things which can fire us up, taking us by surprise and causing us the most stress! I’m not for one minute say that I have it all sorted, but my physical guide when stress levels are high is the old back pain pattern and I am delighted to say that this bit seems to be okay!! You may have noticed that we have another Open programme beginning in September – I can only recommend it and if you know anyone who may benefit from being better equipped for life, please let them know.

With all good wishes,