Positive thinking, quite the resource

My mother used to tell my brother and I not to be so negative so many times when we were kids that I think it may as well be tattooed on my arm. We weren’t exactly super negative kids, and at times I felt that maybe we weren’t being given the chance to be negative even for a short period, but, the thing is; she was completely and utterly right. Granted there were times as a teenager where all you wanted to do was sit there and stew in your own blind disappointment and annoyance, thinking that everyone was out to get you and that the whole world was filled with nothing more than disappointment and despair. Whilst that does seem disgustingly self-indulgent it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. For the most part though, positive thinking is the way to change your entire life in the most subtle, but fantastically wonderful way.

For me, in the last few weeks, this whole notion of positivity has been more important than perhaps ever before. We have a four and a half month old and he’s currently going through what the ‘experts’ call a ‘sleep regression.’ Someone asked me the other day how I was going with it, checking in that I was managing well despite only having an hour or two of solid sleep a night. My response was honest when I said that it was a serious challenge both physically and mentally but, and this is the important part, it wouldn’t last forever. This friend, jokingly, told me that ‘forever’ could potentially be years worth of bad sleeping. We had the obligatory laugh and then went on with polite conversation. I didn’t think much of it until I got into the car to go home and then it suddenly hit me. How utterly demoralising and horrible would it be if I thought about this phase in my son’s life in such a negative way? If I sat there and thought to myself, “this is never going to end, this is just the beginning of what will be sheer Hell for such a long, unknown amount of time?” I would start to dread night times and I would probably even begin to resent my son for it as well. So with one simple change in how I talk about this phase in my boy’s development, I am changing how I handle the entire situation. Instead of saying “it’s horrible I just wish it would end,” I’m saying “it’s challenging, but it won’t last forever.” I’m looking at this stage in my son’s life as a huge step in his development and if that means I miss out on some sleep then so be it. Short term pain, long term gain and for now he needs me to be positive, supportive and happy far more than I need a solid eight hours.

It’s so easy to look for the faults and the unfortunate aspects of any situation; you could almost argue that critics make a living out of doing it; what’s harder and more rewarding though, is looking for the good stuff. It’s not something that comes easy for many people, especially if you’ve spent the better part of your life looking at things in a certain way. My husband, for example, was one of those people. He wasn’t exactly a negative person but there were more times than not that he spoke of things in a less than agreeable way. I remember one conversation in particular where we spoke of his time working in Karratha in the northern part of Western Australia. The Pilbara region is notorious for its blazing heat, dusty planes and its unforgiving land. My husband had spent quite a bit of time working up there, running rods and doing an unbelievable amount of manual labour on a mining rig back before everything went to computers and machinery. He always said he enjoyed working with the guys but the work itself was horrific. As such he spoke of the land as if it were out to get him personally, referring to that aspect of his experiences in no uncertain terms as “an absolute c**t of a place.” I made the mistake of saying that I wanted to visit Karratha one day; when asked why, I explained I wanted to see it. I wanted to see the vast landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see; I wanted to experience the cold nights, the stars blazing without the interruption of city lights. I wanted to see red dirt and arid wastelands, the steadfast flora and the hardened fauna. I wanted to experience the magic that that part of our country has to offer. At the time, his reaction was to tell me I was crazy, that I didn’t ‘understand’ the lifestyle up there and that it was a romanticised view of an otherwise totally crappy place. He was right in saying that it was a romanticised view of the place, but I can’t help that my creativity takes over pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m pleased to say in the years gone by he has actually come around to a similar way of thinking. We’ve looked at photographs of the landscapes up there and the wildlife that thrives in those arid conditions and he’s gone from being Mr You’ve-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me to being Mr What-An-Amazing-Place-To-Visit. It took time (nearly four years) but he did start to see it differently. He went from talking about it in such a negative way to sharing stories of seeing some of the most awe-inspiring country, seeing the most incredible wildlife he’s ever witnessed and getting to do things he’d never even dreamed of doing in the city. We’ve spoken about this shift in his thinking a number of times and he himself even says that it’s made a huge difference to his lifestyle and the quality of the experiences he’s had and is yet to have.

For me, hearing my mother telling me to “not be so negative” has changed my entire life. I owe her, to some degree, for the happiness I have managed to find in every situation. I’m lucky enough to have not had any really heinously terrible things happen in my short time on this planet, but it’s my outlook that has allowed me to see even the most heartbreaking of experiences in a positive way. Someone once asked me how I could possibly find the good in everything that happens and the only answer I could think to give was that it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. It took me a while, it was a very active shift in thinking for me, it’s not as if something would happen and I’d immediately think “oh good, I’m going to learn something really valuable out of this.” Things would happen and when I thought back on them later I’d make a conscious effort to think of something good. For every negative thought, I’d try my best to come up with something positive. Sometimes it would be something so small and simple like; I got to see someone I hadn’t seen in years despite being at a funeral. Over time it became like second nature to me, every time I’d look back on the more challenging moments in my life I’d find myself thinking about the positive things that came out of it.

In the end, it’s all about perspectives. It’s always going to be easier to look at the negative side of things, to play the martyr or to be the victim. Where the real challenge and, in my eyes, the real strength comes from is seeing the good in amongst all that. Being positive when everyone around you is being negative, seeing what so many other people seem to miss because they’re too busy being self-indulgent. Seeing the positive side of things isn’t a walk in the park, but once you know how, it’ll make that walk a whole lot prettier.

And finally, this little vibe:

We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are. – J.K. Rowling

E

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The beauty of hindsight, and painful partings.

It’s Friday night here and if you’re anything like me you like to just tune out and do nothing to cap off a busy week. Here’s the thing though, this lovely little brain of mine takes Friday evenings (and a glass of wine) as a sign that it’s time to reminisce. Much like anyone else, my past is filled with equal parts joy, embarrassment, questionable choices and smart decisions. Of course, every so often there’s one or two memories that stop you dead in your tracks and rekindle just the slightest twinge of hurt all over again.

I can count on one hand (just) the number of people that I have had a less than amicable parting with. Three out of those five I have reconciled with to varying degrees, one of those isn’t for lack of trying and the last I recently learned is engaged and appears to be living a happy life, so best let sleeping dogs lie as it were. Here’s the thing about difficult partings though, they stick with you in the worst possible way. On this chilly Friday evening, I have come to the rather illuminating epiphany that I found these partings so painful not because I lost touch with important people in my life, but because the situations surrounding those moments were let’s say, less than desirable.

The first two people were two of my dearest friends at University. We were practically inseparable when we were studying together; spending every waking second doing everything from not studying to jumping off small cliff faces into the river below. It was around this time that it hit me, the career path I’d chosen wasn’t actually what I wanted for my life. With twelve months left on my degree, I had enough time to transfer out of what I was studying, take a few extra units and still graduate at the same time. It was around this time that I drifted from my two friends. Lives took us in separate directions, whilst they were out doing their final practical experiences I was battling with arguments about changing my studies amidst getting engaged and wondering what I could actually do with my new credentials.

For a really long time I wouldn’t let myself think back on those uni days because so much of it had those two in them. It took years for me to realise that whilst the three of us may have parted ways (read: I stopped talking to them pretty much entirely)  it didn’t actually change the fact that we were friends. I spent so many of my days with them, they made me laugh, they made the midnight essay writing sessions bearable. They were two of my very closest and dearest companions. After a while I understood that it wasn’t them that needed to ‘move on’ and it wasn’t me that needed to ‘let go’, it was everyone just accepting that things change, we make mistakes and we move forward. I contacted the two of them some time ago, we buried the hatchet and that was the end of it. I don’t entirely know where they are these days but I do see the occasional Instagram post from one of them, we share a like, a comment and we go about our lives. I can’t say how my contacting them impacted on their lives, but I know for a fact that it made me realise that just because something didn’t end well, doesn’t mean it didn’t start well.

A few years later I was in a similar situation again. Not university related this time but I had two very close girlfriends.  Much the same as with the other two, we did a lot together. We exercised together, we had girls days, girls nights, girls weekends. Not long after we met I ended up going through what I can only explain as one of the most challenging experiences of my married life. At the time I needed to put my focus on my husband and I and it meant that there was a number of other things that had to take a backseat. My work life changed, my relationships with family and friends changed. Everything changed. Then one day I found myself arguing more and more with these two friends and having less and less in common with them. Before I knew it I was blocking out entire chunks of my life from my memory purely because they were prominent aspects of those times.

Again, the beauty of hindsight came tearing into my field of vision and made me understand that I wasn’t blocking out those memories because those girls were in them, but because those girls reminded me of something I wanted so desperately to put behind me. As with the other two friends, I reached out and sent a message, an apology and a simple ‘how are you?’. This time only one of them chose to reconnect; the other, sadly, hasn’t even acknowledged that I exist anymore. That’s the other side of the story, just because one person decides that the good moments we shared far outweigh the painful ones, doesn’t mean the other person will be at the same point.

Life is a constantly moving target. Some days we wake up and feel like we can do anything and everything. We live in the now and we only focus on the good things. Other days we want to lay in bed and dwell on all the terrible, horrible things that lurk behind closed doors in our mind. There’s got to be a balance though. For every good memory, there is a negative one and vice versa. These four people have taught me that we can blend the good with the bad and come out the other end stronger, wiser and hopefully a little more humble. I’ve learned my lessons and I will be forever grateful to each and every single one of those people; regardless of whether or not they have spoken to me, acknowledged my existence, or ignored me completely, the reality is they have changed me. Their lives impacted mine in a way that I can’t put into words. They were prevalent parts of my history, my timeline, and like with any good historical account; accuracy is absolutely paramount.

I promised I would be honest in this blog so here’s the honesty. Those four people were special to me and they will forever hold a place in my heart regardless of what the outcomes were. It’s not to say they are any more or any less important to me than the people currently in my life, but they will always be there. That’s the thing, the human condition sometimes means we end up hurting each other, whether that be intentionally or unintentionally, what matters isn’t the pain that was caused, but the lessons that were learned. We all make mistakes, we all act out of turn, driven (like I was) by strong emotions or situations. At the end of the day though, no one is immune, no one is perfect and most importantly, no one is to blame. The second we start blaming people for our downfalls that’s when we start down a dark path that can be very, very hard to come back from.

And so I’ll leave you with this little vibe for your Friday night:

I think Hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go. – Neil Gaiman

Now… go make good choices.
E

 

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When I was growing up my parents encouraged my brother and I to be creative, to speak our minds and to, above all else, be honest. Of course as a child being honest meant telling everyone and anyone you met that you hated the colour pink or that broccoli tasted like feet. Being creative meant drawing on the walls with crayons and speaking your mind meant saying your best friend’s house smelt like old people. As an adult though, those things took on a whole other meaning.

Honesty as an adult can, at times, blur the lines between being unabashedly truthful and being a little bit elusive. It means sometimes not saying that you think your friend’s child is a massive pain in the arse, that their new hair colour makes them look like a vampire or that their roast beef tastes remarkably like charcoal; but instead saying their child is ‘energetic’, that their new hair colour is ‘unique’ and their beef is ‘different’. Honesty can mean choosing your words carefully to navigate the minefield that is human emotion, much like speaking your mind isn’t just running your mouth.

It’s remarkably easy to just blurt out whatever comes into your head before really thinking about what is actually being said; I’ve been known to do just that on more than one occassion. Like the time I told one of my very best friends that I didn’t want to drive an hour to her house with my then 4 week old until he had had his vaccine for whooping cough. Of course she, rightfully so, thought that I was saying her house and her son presented a potential risk for my newborn to get whooping cough despite both being vaccinated and her house being as clean as an operating theatre (good job brain!). Speaking your mind as an adult is about more than just running your mouth. It’s about being diplomatic with how you present your opinions and ensuring you don’t come across sounding like a total jackass. Something that can prove a bit difficult if you’re toeing that creative line.

I’m a fiction writer and I have this inherent need to speak far more than is necessary. There have been times where that creative side of my brain makes the answer to a simple question a three page epic saga that makes sense only to me. It means I have a bad habit of overthinkking simple answers that others give in response to my lengthy questions. Creativity as an adult goes from drawing on the walls to painting on a canvas, from playing ‘make believe’ in the garden to writing about and inventing new and fantastic worlds on paper. The thing is, it’s not the meanings that change in any of these circumstances; it’s us.

The basic meaning of those three things stays exactly the same, it’s just that we change our perceptions as we get older. A large part of that change comes from the experiences we have throughout our lives. These experiences impact not only on how we act and react to certain things but they alter the way in which we think about our lives as a whole. Experiences change us in the best possible way; they inspire us, they test us and above all else, they teach us.

That’s where This Little Vibe was born and where it will grow. I intend on using that creativty and that honesty to speak my mind in a way that I hope will help, inspire and encourage others to do the same. With product reviews, guest writers, shared experiences and general ramblings it is my hope that this blog sees you smiling, laughing, agreeing and even disagreeing with the vibes I’m putting out into the cyberverse. There’s so much negativity and fear in the world that it’s high time we start boosting the positivity and the creativity.

With that I will say thanks, and leave you with this little vibe:

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.  – Roald Dahl The Twits’.

E