Give

Practice giving. Minimise judging.

I often worry that the spare change I give to panhandlers will be used for drugs or alcohol. Although that is my own judgement I prefer to know that what I am giving will help the individual. More often then not I’ll give food and the person is always grateful.

If you are like myself but are feeling more generous, why not make packs to be given out to the homeless in your area? Depending on your location and the time of year you can change the contents. Here in Ireland I would throw in a rain ponchos maybe in a colder climate a pair of gloves or mittens would be appreciated.

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That warm and fuzzy feeling will give your mood a boost, even if you are feeling low. The world needs more random acts of kindness, here in Ireland there’s a festival on the weekend of July 19th. For those of you on the rest of the planet take a look at this site for some great ideas and how to get involved.

“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” – Gautama Buddha

We’re Not all Sugar And Spice

I’m tired of seeing half naked women on television displayed as strippers and/or hookers. I’m tired of hearing women described as sluts, skanks and whores. I’m tired of feeling annoyed when the media tells me this is normal. This doesn’t have to be our normal.

From a very young age most girls get described as sweet, pretty or nice. While boys will often be labeled with strong, funny and brave. There is lots of pressure put on men and women telling them what traits they should have, today I am focusing on the pressures put on women. In hopes that it could help make everyone more aware of the messages we are bombarded with.

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There is an underlying belief that women always have to be ‘all things nice’ which can be frustrating. As a woman if you are assertive or if you do not accept a man’s unwanted advances, you may be called bitch. Especially by men who may not grasp how uncomfortable they can make us feel. However, being nice all the time can often mean you are labeled as a pushover. How can you win?

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A lot of this seems to be systematically ingrained into our culture, so what can be done? It starts at the individual level, we need to show kindness and empathy to one another. We need to watch our thoughts, as they lead to behaviours. Pay attention to the assumptions that you make about others. My guess is the less negative thinking you have about women, the more aware you will be of the the negative way the world around you can portray them.

Let’s stop accepting what has been taught to us as ‘normal’ and make a new, better standard.

“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” – Malala Yousafzai

Slow life

Take a few moments and watch this hypnotic video called ‘Slow Life’. Why not take a few deep breaths while you’re at it. Life is short, we all could benefit from slowing down and marvelling in the beauty and weridness that can surrounds us.

“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.” – Leonardo da Vinci 

Weight, what?

The Summer months are fast approaching and even if it weren’t for the change of weather I would know. How? Well the push to make people feel bad about their bodies of course. Cosmopolitan has an entire section of their website dedicate entirely to how to be ‘bikini ready’. It seems to me that a bathing suit ready body is more a state of mind rather than a size but I imagine that doesn’t sell as well.

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I was recently reading a great article from Cracked.com where a woman shared her experience of being in a weight loss commercial. I have seen how before and after pics can be doctored, I know about the camera tricks. However it is amazing when you see some of these transformations and hear the ‘testimonials’. She explains how the individuals involved are never on the same program and how they blatantly lie to tug at insecurities many of us face. I recommend a read as it is eye-opening and a little terrifying

No carbs, no sugar, sleep 8 hours a night, drink 8 glasses of water, exercise 5 days a week. We have all been told over and over again what to do to lose weight. On a very logical level we know that if you eat poorly, you feel poorly and look poorly. That little voice in your head beats you up yet you keep munching. Most of us do so the question is, why?

My hunch is that somewhere along the way we’re taught that unhealthy food is a treat. It’s something that is used to comfort, to make us feel better when we’re down. The problem is that a lot of these treat foods can have very addictive qualities. Our brain can get a high off these foods. We love the way it feels to eat them, no matter the consequences.

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If you are hoping to feel better about yourself this Summer I recommend you start with a food journal. This is not about keeping track of your calorie intake, it’s not that type of journal. It is about writing down how you feel when you’re eating. For example:

1:00pm – Had a sandwich for lunch, decided to skip breakfast which felt really good.

2:00pm – Tea break, had low-fat milk and 4 biscuits. Jesus, I feel fat already. What is wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just have one?

5:00pm – Had a take away for dinner. It’s shit food but I had a shit day. Ugh, I feel miserable…

If you have a negative relationship with food that can change. Instead of focusing on a number on a scale take some time to sit with your feelings. As your attitude towards food changes so will your attachment to it. Or maybe you’ll learn it’s how you comfort, numb or grieve. If that’s the case then talking to someone can help, you don’t have to deal with all of life’s stresses on your own.

Starting today don’t beat yourself up for what you’re eating. Take some time to explore why you’re eating. I did an article on body image a few months ago, if you feel like reading more have a look.

“I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles.” – Laurie Halse Anderson

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When was the last time you said how you really feel?

Myself and my friend Sinead Lynch at Silver Linings have made a video looking at how the Irish and Canadians can avoid their real feelings.

Although we attempt, (please excuse my exaggerated Canadian accent) to use humour to highlight how we all can cover our true feelings. I do believe it is important to talk to someone when you are having a hard time. Life is not always easy, for many people it can seem like everyday is an uphill struggle. Sharing your internal strife with another person can sometimes help lighten the load.

And remember that animals this cute exist. That can help too.

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There’s always time to talk.

“What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it if it comes.” – Raymond Cramer

Spring

Easter is around the corner, the trees are budding and the flowers are beginning to bloom. The days are longer and the mornings are brighter; as they say, Spring is in the air.

Entering a new season is always a time of change. Personally, I prefer the change into warmer days and shorter nights. I notice how other people seem to prefer this time as well. There have been many studies done to show how the winter months can make us feel quite down. Us humans are not alone, watch the way these cows behave from being let out after a long winter.

With this time of change try to embrace the positive around you. If you feel your life has very few silver linings then try to enjoy the simple things. Like the new flowers and the green leaves beginning to get sunlight for the first time. Us humans have always had a connection to the changing seasons, it meant renewed life. The Pagans celebrated the Winter solstice because it meant that the darkest days of the year were over. The light was returning and they had survived, it was a great time for a party. This is the reason why Christmas is celebrated when it is.

Why not try to embrace that connection to the seasons yourself? With our focus on other things we so rarely get to observe and enjoy the changes happening to the world around us. The winter weather is a hassle and the summer sun is too hot. We can so easily complain about things we cannot change. Why not just sit back and observe? Being present is no easy feat but beginning with the weather is a great start. There is nothing you can do about the rain or snow which means you must accept it. That’s an important lesson no matter what time of year it is.

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Enjoy this change of season and allow yourself a few minutes to remember something we so often forget. A connection to this planet we call home.

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” – Suzanne Collins

Course Information

Empowerment Through Self Care

Far too many of us focus on the day to day in our lives. Forgetting to mind ourselves amidst all the hustle and bustle. We are busy with jobs, children, friends and family. In all that busyness do you ever take time for yourself? Can you, without feeling guilty?

I have always loved the analogy of oxygen masks on an airplane. We are told to put our masks on before helping anyone else. Why is that? Because if you need that mask to breathe but focus on everyone else you could suffocate. Are you going through your life making sure everyone else can breathe without asking if you can?

If so, why not take two hours a week, for eight weeks, just for you. Giving you the chance to better get to know yourself. Through this self development you can learn how to better care for yourself. We will cover subjects such as: guilt, motivation, self esteem, trust and more.

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Past participants of the course have had this to say:

“This course has been a real help to me, to understand me! For the first time I am in tune with me.”

“I would highly recommend this course, it gives you an inside view of yourself. It seems to cover a lot of issues and it’s an introduction to yourself, to see who you really are.’

“It gives you insights into your behaviour and habits and how to make improvements in emotional well being.”

Further Information:

  • When: Beginning May 7th and running for 8 weeks, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.
  • Where: Siochan Counselling, 9 Fitzwilliam Street Upper, Dublin 2.
  • Cost: €15 a week. All supplies will be provided, as well as coffee, tea and biscuits for breaks.

If you are interested in joining please contact me at: 085 133 6644, or by email: adastratherapy@gmail.com

If you would like more information on me, feel free to check out my website, or my LinkedIn.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson