WE LIVE IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES

Guest Blog By Eilidh Horder

We are delighted to welcome a guest blogger to our blog this month. Matcha lover and Cumbrian lass, Eilidh has lived in France, Spain, Luxembourg and Bulgaria and mostly worked with the printed word...and sometimes with people too.

She is based in the Belgian Ardennes with her musician partner, two children with super powers, six stray cats (at the last count) and Fido the dog.

She is editing her first novel, Dogs Drowning in Marble, and she started her blog at the beginning of 2019.

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We live in extraordinary times. Environmental, political and financial worries can seem overwhelming. Doom and gloom threaten to overshadow the light and laughter, and it’s sometimes difficult to stay sane, or at the very least, upbeat.

When the pressure is on full blast, how do we reign back those feelings of panic, turn up the zen button, and relax into living our best life?

By accepting that we can’t control everything, that’s how.

There are some things, many things, that no matter how much frustration they cause us, are simply way out of our control.

The weather, for example. Traffic jams in rush hour, queues at the supermarket check-out, our beautiful moggies mercilessly hunting little feathered friends. Oh, and our partner leaving his pants on the bathroom floor.

We can’t control any of this. Sure, we could ask our partner to please drop said pants into the laundry basket. But the most likely result is seething frustration, and angry internal knots. Because no matter how much we nag, those pants are still going to end up on the floor.

What’s the point in using our energy in this way?

There is none whatsoever.

In Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, he writes about two circles which contain our lives. The Circle of Influence is framed by the larger Circle of Concern. His theory goes that when we stray from our Circle of Influence into the outer Circle of Concern, we waste our energy trying to control events, and often people, which we have no control over. This leads to frustration and anger, because ultimately, there is nothing we can do to make the slightest bit of difference in this circle.

Imagine you are sitting in a doctor’s waiting room. The doctor is running over an hour-and-a-half late. How do you spend that time?

Do you feel angry that your time is being wasted? Frustrated that the doctor isn’t a better time-keeper, and obsessed about all the things that you could and ‘should’ be doing instead of ‘waiting’?

Oh, and by the way, you’re thirsty. Would you hunt down a vending machine for inferior-tasting coffee that does nothing but increase your jitters? In this case, it’s twist (the corners of your mouth down), press (your aching temples) and shake (your head).

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these, you are actively engaging in your Circle of Concern.

But, perhaps instead…

Do you pull out a book and lose yourself in another world? Reply to emails on your phone or do some other ‘useful’ task? Get your journal out and muse on your innermost thoughts? Or simply choose to sit there, observe your breath, and do a little quiet meditation (seriously, man! It’s cool!)?

You’re thirsty but that’s no problem. You’ve come prepared and crack open a bottle of iced Matcha - twist, press and shake, the right way this time.

If you’re more likely to be enjoying the ride than seething inside, then you’ve got this. You are focusing on what you can control.

Because thankfully, there are some things that we do have a say in. And that begins right here, right now, with you. 

‘It comes from within.’

For example, we do get to choose what we put into our bodies, how we spend our cash, our energy… and our time.

We can choose to look after ourselves, mentally (chill out in that waiting room!) and physically (pack that iced Matcha into your bag before leaving home). We can choose to support our health (with OMG Matcha tea). We can choose to buy ethically whenever we can (erm, OMG Matcha tea 😊).

…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Let’s concentrate on our own behaviour, and let the rest go.

Observe yourself. Get to know yourself and how you react. What or who pushes your buttons? Then see if there are any tweaks you’d like to make in how you behave. Can you reprogramme yourself in any way so that you make better choices? Healthier and more conscientious decisions for your own sweet self?

This may sound a little selfish, but it really isn’t. Charity begins at home, so let’s start with being kind to ourselves. If you nurture yourself, you’ll be more able to spread those positive vibes around to help others. And as a bonus, according to Covey, concentrating on our Circle of Influence actually increases it. Being good to yourself has a ripple effect – just like those OMG rings of froth on your latte.

And if we don’t always get it right, let’s make a kind choice once again, and not beat ourselves up about it. We’re not perfect – just human.

All we can do, is our best. And our best is always good enough.

If you’re feeling the strains of ecological overload, and the whirlwind of information is making your head spin, pause. Expand your Circle of Influence. Put the kettle on. Get that Matcha green out. Take a break. Sit down. Have a sip. Aahhh!

OMG, that’s good!

Isn’t life extraordinary?

 

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