Day 11: Gratitude

This one is so lovely. And easy. And makes me so happy.

I read about the benefits of gratitude ages ago, so I started writing my thank yous at the end of each day. The idea is to find at least five new things to be grateful for each day, and either write them down or say them out loud. Even on the shittiest days I found there was always something to be grateful for, even it was ‘Thank you that we have a soundproof ladies room at work so I can have a proper cry before the policy meeting,’ – not resoundingly joyous, but still something. I found that on the worst days I would try harder to find positives so I got quite good at finding little snippets of good in amongst the bad, and I found that really comforting. It’s like when we were kids we were told before we could say something mean about someone we had to first say ten nice things, after which that one hurtful thing would sort of lose its power.

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Day One: understanding where anxiety comes from

I woke up at six am, proper excited about day one of my new course! And sat there in the dark for nearly an hour wondering where exactly I was going to start. It’s like I had promised a curriculum of 21 lessons and my single student (me) arrived at class and we’re both delighted with the clean blackboard and new notebooks but we haven’t actually got a lesson plan.

So the first hour was spent brainstorming all my ideas, so that I now have a neatly alphabetised direction to follow for the next three weeks – packed with a diverse range of subjects including Gratitude, Cold Showers and Radical Forgiveness – but before delving in, today will start with the question of what is actually going on in my brain and why it keeps doing what it so masterfully does to keep me in fear.

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Do not subscribe to those thoughts

So in an effort to still my scrambling mind, I turned to YouTube, my old friend and advisor, who knows me so well. Even the adverts he shows me are about wellness and meditation. And tonight YouTube tells me to watch this interview with Mooji. Yes I think I need to get a bit transcendental today.

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Positive Thinking

I recently learned that you can’t get Vitamin D from sunshine through windows, and since ours only open up for a 15cm strip of direct sunlight on my face, I am now perched on the windowsill with one leg out of the window to get some 10am sunshine on my skin. It’s very uncomfortable and actually quite cold but I am grateful that we can still get sunshine up here.

So I got little snippets of anxiety again because lockdown eases a bit this week. But the guidance is so vague, and the message is basically you’re on your own. Dickheads can be dickheads and police can’t stop them. Try not to get sick, but it’s your own fault if you do. That’s what my facebook filtered world seems to be concerned about this week. On our family Zoom on Sunday, we had the usual update from around the world about the death rates. My New Zealand brother celebrated the success of ‘Aunty Jacinda’ (who is younger than him) in winning the worldwide competition against the virus, while my New York brother talked about friends of his friends who had died. London brother explained that we’re passed the peak in Britain, but you’re still only allowed out for essential exercise, so you can sit in the park but if you see the police coming you have to start doing sit-ups. Korea brother said there’s been no new cases for four days so everyone in Seoul is going out again, so they will probably be another spike, while Spanish sister went for her first run for ten weeks on Saturday. All her neighbours were waiting on their doorsteps at 8am, counting down the seconds till they were allowed out. We laugh about our lockdown hair, the boys compare beards, while my niece falls asleep on her mum’s lap, and the full weight of the international impact of this thing hits home.

Then I started to worry yesterday because my love opened a tin of mandarins, and I said ‘Oh the tinned food is for if we can’t get fresh fruit.’ A small argument ensued about the amount of tins in the house, the likelihood for the interruption of the supply chain and the invincibility of the three people we depend on for shopping, until I remembered my anxiety is the thing that causes him stress, so I shut up, but still quietly counted up the tins and watered my tiny new baby apple trees.

So to dispel my catastrophic thinking, this morning I found some powerful positive messages to pump into my head over my porridge. I am trying to get into a place of love and acceptance of whatever is coming. This thing is happening to a species on a planet in this universe. I am a tiny speck of that, and I have desires and plans, hopes and intentions, and so do the people I love, but if the direction of this species is towards something else then I have no use for fear and anxiety about that. I want to be in a place of peace and flow, with appreciation and love for my current moment, my sunshine spot right now, my lovely man, and my friends and family who I am connecting to now.