The Lightness of Laughter

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I had the funniest conversation with my 94-year-old mother today. She loves paperwork of all kinds, and not only scrutinises all the grocery receipts my brother brings home, but keeps them!

I pay all her bills via the internet. She calls me her ‘secretary’, but she keeps a tight control on the paperwork. However, with her memory and eyesight, it’s getting harder and harder for her to find where the payment information lives on the different accounts.

We do our ‘business’, as she calls it, over the telephone, and while I do my best to steer her in the right direction, it’s not that easy for me to help her. I just have to be patient until she finds what she’s looking for, but today, it wasn’t so easy and we both cracked up.

It was hilarious, but somehow, amongst all the laughter we worked it out.

It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it, when we choose to handle our circumstances with the lightness of laughter.

Inara Hawley © 2018

 

Let Empathy Lead You

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These past few weeks have been the first time in almost two and half years that I’ve felt relaxed enough to take a moment to sit, read and enjoy it. No matter how often people tell you to take some time for yourself, meditate, or do something to take your mind off it, if you have an unwell partner or family member for an extended length of time, it’s almost impossible to shift the load. It’s like you are holding your breath.

I don’t like to call it a load but that’s what it is…

When it comes to caring for our loved ones we don’t consider it a burden, but it’s something extra to carry. It may manifest as stress, worry, concern, anxiety, fear or even sadness and grief.

After Hubby’s mini stroke in March 2016 life changed. There were lots of wobbles and much monitoring and doctor care. With a strict regime in place we got on with it. But it was constant. There wasn’t a minute when I wasn’t on guard. And that takes a toll. While we hang in there, something always suffers. I may be a positive pixie, but my body didn’t get the message. My hair started falling out. So, stress ‘level one’ was silently in operation.

Then…

On the 1st May this year it became very dramatic. An ambulance transported Hubby to hospital again. This time he couldn’t move, and we had no idea why. It took three weeks and a myriad of tests to find out, but in the meantime, we were in no man’s landI did what it took to get through it and even made the following video, but the truth was, I felt lost and very much alone. During the first week that Hubby was in the hospital, I didn’t see a single soul and I fell into a numb kind of shock. The month of May turned into an emotional blur. I had nothing to hang onto. While Hubby was learning to walk again, I put on a brave face for the world, but I was quietly falling to pieces. I couldn’t sleep, I lost more hair, and because I was exhausted, I got sick. Stress level ‘of the charts’ was now in control and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

But this blog post is not about advice…

There are no magic words of wisdom that can help one deal with a shock or how to carry a heavy emotional load. This blog post is about what I learned because of it. Of course, what I desperately wanted was comfort. I wanted someone to put their arms around me and tell me everything was going to be OK. I wanted to feel safe enough to talk about how I felt. Just like I did with my mother so many years ago in a similar situation.

My social media friends were wonderful. My appreciation and gratitude overflowed for the love and support I received. But it doesn’t compare to a real life hug and a shoulder to cry on.

Today I feel a lot better and I am grateful that Hubby is on the road to wellness. So why would I bother writing about it? I’m writing about it because I learned something really important. When we see someone going through difficult times, don’t be afraid to reach out with empathy.

But, here’s the thing about empathy…

Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to say. We get the distinct feeling that someone is not OK, but because they smile and hold it together, we respect their privacy and see only the outside. That’s where I was – holding it together in company. Doing the strong thing and not falling apart. Everyone I saw during that time, very kindly and full of compassion, said exactly what I usually say in the same situation. Things like…

‘How is he…. give him my best’
‘Take care… thinking of you’
‘Sending you good vibes’
‘Wishing you well’

Everything but, ‘Are you really alright?’ … with their arms wide open…

Now, having walked in the shoes of someone who feels totally adrift at sea, I understand it a lot better. I realise how important it is to see beyond the outside and ask someone if they are really alright. Never again will I make the mistake of not reaching out with open arms and asking the right question.

The truth is, it’s hard to ask for help…

And sometimes, it’s even harder to express exactly what we need. We all try to hold ourselves together, but no matter how strong we are, sometimes we shatter. Those are the times when an ear and comforting arms are exactly what we need.

For those who feel lost, don’t be afraid…
Trust someone enough to tell them. It’s OK to be vulnerable.
For those who see it, don’t be afraid…
Reach out with open arms. Let empathy lead you.

Seeing inside someone’s heart is the leap from compassion to true empathy.

Inara Hawley © 2018

A Story About Love

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Sunday MusingsThis is a story about love.

Three years ago, these two, Hubby and my mother were having a fun moment. All was well with the world. Recently, however, Hubby has been very ill and during that time, my mother who is now so frail she can barely walk, did her special thing – her ‘healing with the heart’ love thing, which reminded of a time 42 years ago.

Not long after we were married, Hubby was admitted rather dramatically to hospital with a suspected heart attack. After four days in cardiac intensive care it was discovered he required gall bladder surgery, but the night he was admitted, I was lost and needed my mother.

She was at a formal Latvian ball. I found the telephone number of the venue caretaker, a family friend, rang and asked him to find my mother amongst the crowd, and he did. Within half an hour, in all her finery, she stepped out of a taxi and I was wrapped in the loving arms of the one person I knew I could trust.

That night I was terrified and asked her, ‘Mum, is he going to die?’ She held me close, and with complete certainty, promised me that he would not. And I believed her.

We talked about that moment today, and she said that she truly believed she could save him with the power of love. And that’s how she still feels today. She gives that same love in this very moment to me, to my husband and to all our family. It is a mother’s love.

She is an Angel in our midst. I am so grateful that at 94 her heart is still so giving and that I have the blessing of hearing her loving words every day.

What a gift.

Inara Hawley © 2018

Do You Get Annoyed?

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Do you get annoyed?

Irritating isn’t it! And the problem is that it can become a habit, a way of being if you allow it… when you live in your small mind.

It’s so easy to get cranky – to let that ‘damn and blast’ feeling take over. What if you were to look at those ‘small mind’ situations from a different point of view?

So, your day starts like this….

It’s your first day at a new job and you’re running late. You miss the bus. Your small mind starts fuming. You’re so annoyed you can’t see beyond your nose. Things don’t improve. When lunchtime comes around you get the wrong food order. OMG! How stupid can people be! You keep your head down and eat it anyway because you’re starving, and you don’t want to make a fuss after arriving late. And so, the day goes on… trapped in your small mind.

Now let’s step out of that small mind and rewind the day…

You’re running late, and you miss the bus for work, but instead of letting your small mind take over, you say, “That’s interesting!” Suddenly, you allow yourself to see the big picture. You look around, and notice your neighbour stopped at the lights. She waves you over and gives you a lift, and you make it to work in plenty of time. Then lunchtime comes around and you get the wrong food order. Oh, that’s interesting, and you look up. There’s someone on the other side of the office looking quizzically at her lunch as well. You both realise you have each other’s order. You swap, sit and chat, and you make a new friend. And so, the day goes on… looking at the bigger picture.

Interesting, isn’t it!

Do you see how the energy changes when we say, “that’s interesting”? It opens the door to possibilities.

Try it next time irritation hits and see where it leads. It’s easier than you think.

Cheers!

© Inara Hawley 2018

Anger – A Surprising Visitor

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This week I had a surprising visitor – anger. I haven’t experienced anger for a very long time, probably 30 years. And I have never been as angry as I was this week. I was shaking with rage.

Now, why would I allow myself – the person who comes from the centre of peace and love – to get so angry that I literally wanted to punch someone’s lights out?

It was a knee jerk reaction.

One that was based on the built-up memory of this someone’s repetitive aggressive behaviour. I snapped because it happened again. Strangely enough, it wasn’t anywhere near as aggressive as in past times, but I snapped anyway. And it’s because my memory bank was chock-a-block full of it, and suddenly it all hit me at once.

I wanted to shout and scream and threaten.

But, I have never, nor would I ever confront someone with anger in the heat of the moment. It is too destructive, so instead, I reached out to somebody who I knew would listen without judgement. Someone who was safe; someone who allowed me to vent.

The interesting thing was that while I was experiencing the rage, I was also acutely aware of being in control of what I had to do with it. I even remarked on it. I knew I needed to let it out, and I am thankful I had a safe place to do just that. In fact, it was almost an out of body experience as I could hear every emotive and angry threatening word from outside myself.

But…

The other interesting thing was, I knew I would never act on it. My love and compassion will always be far greater than any anger I could ever feel. But I had to voice it, or I would have exploded.

The truth is, when someone behaves aggressively on an ongoing basis, we don’t always challenge them. We get used to it, find ways to deal with it and make excuses for them. When life gets hard and things go wrong for those locked in aggressive patterns, they let loose, and anyone who is in the way gets it. So, we the non-fighters back away from the aggressive energy. My anger was the result of years of backing away – not challenging it because I didn’t want to make it worse for those in the firing line, didn’t want it to personally impact me, and of course, I always hoped it would change.

Now here is the question.

Will I challenge it this time? I have lived long enough to know that the right time to say what you want to say without anger or aggression always presents itself, so yes, I will. But I will do it with kindness and empathy because that’s what aggressive people need the most.

They are desperate to be heard.

The sad thing is they look for happiness outside themselves and can never find it, so punish not only themselves but all those around them. They are trapped in a negative cycle, and as much as we may want to help them, they must find their own light-bulb moments.

As for me…

In the meantime, I take full responsibility for my anger; for allowing it build, for not acknowledging it, for what it created in my body, and for the energy it sent out into the Universe. I don’t intend to stack it up again, so I am healing and freeing it the only way I know how – with the Ho’oponopono Prayer.

And finally, here’s something for you to consider. How much anger do you think you’re holding onto, because I didn’t think I was holding onto any.

With love,
Inara

© Inara Hawley 2018

What does RUOK really mean?

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I’ve been thinking about writing this for some time but didn’t know where to start because it’s about many things. Difficult times, kindness, caring, reaching out, friendship, but if I’m honest, it’s basically about giving a damn.

Not everyone lets you know they’re having a rough time. We’re all different. Not everyone asks for good thoughts and prayers. Not everyone asks for help. Not everyone complains. That doesn’t mean that their life doesn’t have its ups and downs, or that they aren’t dealing with challenges. It could mean that they’re keeping schtum because they want to stay as positive as they can; doing their best not to be at the mercy of overwhelming emotions.

These are the folks who look for the best outcome in their day. They are the ones who tell you only a tiny bit of what’s really going on because they look for the best feeling thought and choose to tell the story of their positive expectations instead. They seem so strong, don’t they? So together. So easy to be around. If they are dealing with something tough, they certainly don’t rabbit on about it. They talk about the good things instead.

And how do I know this? Because I’ve had a very difficult year. And I can only now say how hard it really was because the worst of it is over. I found it very hard to talk about because I didn’t want to drag myself down into what, for me, felt like a negative and stagnant place.

I handled it by shining as brightly as I could. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have used a kind word. That came home to me not long back when a social media friend picked up on a comment I made and sent me a private RUOK message. It was such a kind gesture that it brought tears to my eyes. My heart was full of appreciation.

So, how often in our busy lives do we reach out to those around us?  It’s a funny old world isn’t it, where the squeaky wheel always gets the attention. So, how about that friend, family member, or colleague who always has a smile on their face? Have you asked them lately how they’re doing?

There’s not a person out there who doesn’t have troubles, big or small, who doesn’t want validation or couldn’t use a kind word. My point is this ~ why not stop by and ask someone how they’re doing? Those who shine a bright light in this world would love a moment of your time.

So, go for it. Pick someone today, and ask them how they’re really doing, and then, listen. Trust me, it will not only make their day, it will make yours as well.

© Inara Hawley 2017

Old Habits ~ New Choices

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Today I made an observation.

Recently I halved my wardrobe. I got rid of bags of clothes which were old, didn’t fit, and that I didn’t really like anymore. It felt great of course – organising one’s wardrobe always does, but you know what? I’m much better dressed now, and I love it. I’m not wearing the same old stuff out of habit anymore. I now look at my wardrobe every morning and pick something that feels really, good to wear.

And my observation is, that this experience is a great metaphor for life. If we let go of the old stuff that’s not serving us anymore and make purposeful good-feeling choices, we feel a whole lot better.

They say that old habits die hard, and that’s absolutely true if we don’t let new opportunity and choice into our lives.

So, what are you hanging onto, and what can you let go of to make room for the new? There are a wealth of new choices and opportunities out there. It is up to us – it’s our choice whether we greet our tomorrows with old habits or new choices.

© Inara Hawley 2017