I’ve had a lot of time to think recently. Thinking used to be something I largely avoided. It came close to terrifying me as much as stepping outside did. At one point in time thinking used to mean simply dwelling. Dwelling on all the bad things of the past, the maybes, the what could have been, the what if. It focused on the negatives of the present; politics, the world, finances and much more. Thinking used to be my depressions chance to flow freely through me and capture me. Thinking now pushes those negative thoughts away to arms length.
Peacefulness, space, being alone are all things I’ve grown to enjoy. Over time I have learned to love myself and be in my own company. Piano music playing, a clock ticking in the background, my hands battering away at a keyboard and my thoughts swirling around my head are actually moments I now treasure. I pay attention to everything around me and sometimes, on the darker days, the sounds and gentle movements of things on the desk can annoy me but largely it makes me remember that I am still alive. The clock ticking isn’t the sound of time running out or life slowly slipping away from me but rather the sound that represents a beating heart, another moment blessed to be on this earth and a chance to appreciate that I’m here on earth for another second despite everything that I have gone through in the past.
In many ways it is a strange feeling. Over the last couple of months I have felt very much at peace with the world around me. Is it the calm before a grey cloud hits or is it finally that my life is changing. In this time of clarity I have attempted to learn techniques that focus me back down, allow me to treasure the basics in life and how to focus on routine even when enthusiasm is lacking. If a grey cloud should choose to blow in I think I’ve done the basics to be able to put the umbrella up and battle through any storm it might bring.
At times I look in the mirror and want to shake my head. Everything I practice feels a little bit like ‘wellness’, or at least in a loose sense, and for some reason that feels like a dirty phrase or attitude. Of course wellness is different to each person, much like the act of self-care, and the issue I have with wellness is not actually the concept itself but the way the everybody tries to follow the exact same journey, methods and recipes to ‘wellness’. A plant based diet and yoga is wellness for one but for another it could prove internally destructive.
Whatever we want to call it, wellness, self-care, self-empowerment or being a girl boss, there has been a huge shift in my attitude recently towards myself and everything that I do for myself. I actually do things for me. I take a shower so I can feel the hot water cascade down my body, so I can inhale a big waft of the scent of my shampoo and so the steam can opened up my temperamental pores rather than simply because I don’t want other people to have to deal with a potentially pongy greasy mess.
I don’t just enjoy cooking and eating. I love the sound of the knife slicing through an onion, the smell of the pepper as it prepares to season something, the sizzle as something lands in a pre-heated pan, the aromas of garlic and other flavourings swirling through the kitchen air, the waft that reaches your nose as you bring a forkful to your mouth, the melt in your mouth meat as you take your first bite and so on. My senses just feel so in tune with every step of the process that I feel more excited to cook and eat than ever before. It makes me feel connected to the world, appreciative of the ingredients available to me and thankful for me having a full range of senses to be able to enjoy them to their fullest potential.
Exercise is a regular part of my regime now. Whether it’s going for a short walk through the green spaces that surround me, to enjoy the fresh air and the gentle rustling of the trees that contain birds chirping away, or using light weights and the things that exist around me at home. This is not something I do to lose weight, to alter my strength, to find some deeper inner peace in myself or anything else that would serve a joyful meaning. It is something that was rather thrust upon me through my recovery from surgery and the concept of needing cardiac rehab to get me back to the position my body was once in. A lot changed about my mindset after surgery and for the first time in my life I found going to a weekly exercise session to be enjoyable and I even reached the dizzying heights of waking up that morning looking forward to it. I felt ready to take on the world after those sessions and that feeling drove me on to bring it into my routine, whilst watching something on Netflix or YouTube, a few more times a week.
Then there is reading. Like many souls that are lucky enough to go onto further and higher education reading became a bit of a chore, trawling through books that provided little interest and certainly no room for the imagination. After reading all the articles, non-fiction books and short snippets of very specific fiction there was very little room for any reading of pleasure. This combined with the depression that rather sucked the fun out of everything I didn’t really properly pick up a book in years. Yes, I certainly read the occasional book but the words did not soak into my head sponge any more than nice words or friendly comments did. Each year I promised to get back into reading but for so long I did it because I felt the need to read and that if I wasn’t reading, given how much of it I used to do in the past, I was getting judged and mocked somehow. This year though I set myself the challenge of reading more for no other reason than to enjoy it. A book a month, a book a week or even a book in a day didn’t really matter to me. I just wanted to read each word and how they formed sentences and just take it all in. Appreciate the art of words and books. I’m returning to a part of me with focus, attention, patience and happiness to sit in silence reading and it’s a part of me that for a long time I honestly believed was lost.
Parts of the old me have returned but new and exciting changes have come along too. Will things always be this way? Will the sky be blue tomorrow? In some ways I wish I knew what was to creep along but that would no doubt cloud my judgement and ability to enjoy the moment of today. But what I do know is that right now I am truly content and dare I say it? HAPPY. I’m perfectly happy sitting alone, I’m perfectly happy to not constantly be surrounded by another person, I’m happy to have time to think, I’m happy to be alive, I’m happy to have turned 24 and be reaching a point of my life where I truly feel like I know myself as an adult.
I feel happy to feel. Feeling anything, having any of my senses or emotions (even the sad ones) coming to life, makes me happy. I feel alive. God I even feel happy sharing a photo of myself in some Deidre style glasses.