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Wellbeing and development – being creative, by Aleena Miles

We see that according to many articles on-line and elsewhere that being creative is beneficial for our well being. This article is one example and claims that being creative in any one of a variety of ways has 5 main benefits:

relieves stress,
increases and renews brain function,
helps to prevent alzheimers,
improves mood,
cultivates your social life,

(Ref: https://verilymag.com/2016/01/mental-emotional-health-creativity-happiness)

I used to absolutely love painting as a hobby and sometimes I did paid commissions too. Unfortunately in recent years I felt increasingly angry with painting. It wasn’t going as I wanted it to. Nobody wanted my work, no one appreciated it. It brought no benefits. I made no money. My negativity had effectively turned my joy into an isolating prison of sadness and frustration. I was totally blocked. Little wonder that I was blocked. Over time I had increasingly associated painting, my former delight and pleasure, with a host of negative things such as a lack of appreciation, being undervalued, being isolated, being ignored, failure and even poverty!

As part of my ongoing mission of ‘life enhancement’ and ‘personal development’ I decided that I needed to unblock my creativity and to recapture that fantastic euphoric feeling I used to get. To get rid of my “painter’s block” I first asked myself why did I ever paint in the first place? My answer to that was that I wanted and still want to feel and express joy.

I remembered back when I was a child of about 6 years and how magical it was for me to get a brand new box of paints. The colours were vivid and pure, the layer of tissue paper crisp and untouched, the promise of creating lovely images was so exhilarating to me – like the thought of flying on a magic carpet. Back then I had no other demands or expectations of painting. I demanded no fees, no kudos, no reputation, no publicity, no competition with others. Life was simple and uncomplicated. I just blissfully painted and did not think, care or worry in the slightest what anyone else thought about what I produced. These kind of thoughts never even entered my head. Painting was just so simply blissful. Realising this and remembering these times made me want to chop through the weeds of self-imposed constraints and cynicism. I remembered that I very often did artwork for other people even when I was very young (like those nice next door neighbours we had). I always needed to be creative for recipients.

So I set myself a little goal – to do a free painting for a good cause. I would have a time limit. I would get some chores done first and then I would have a whole two hours (at least 2 hours per week for painting). I would not care about being paid. I would just paint for the sheer fun of doing it and the ‘bonus’ would be that it would not be just for me alone. I painted with the hope of sharing the pleasure and giving joy to others too when the painting was complete and installed. Before even buying the paint and canvas I visualised my future painting as already finished and being a ‘joy object’ to help people to feel good, hopefully even inspired. The aim of creating a mutually beneficial painting was a great motivator for me – at last I felt I had a purpose and a reason to do it. I could unblock myself and hopefully help others in the process too.

How I’m getting even happier, by Aleena Miles

I used to have a cosy cushion of fat on my stomach which was there for over 20 years. (I do so love using the past tense “used to”). It seemed so ‘resident’ and comfortable sitting there that I thought it would never go. I just hated being hungry, or trying to follow complicated menus from magazines, so sadly, pessimistically, I resigned myself to a life of having a “fat belly” and always trying to keep it hidden with dark, loose clothing.

Last spring I had already attended one session of Esther Ridsdale’s ‘Wellbeing Course’ and I was keen to go on a full 6 week course that summer. Esther is a very encouraging coach and a great motivator. I found it exciting and social as all of us on the course were trying to improve ourselves and our lives. Esther’s Wellbeing Course gave me more courage and made me feel more adventurous, so I asked myself tentatively. “Shall I try to shift this fat? Is it even possible?” I feel that I really need to prove to myself that I can do it, that I am capable of succeeding – even if only for that sweet, delicious, pleasure of knowing that “I CAN DO IT!”

While in the local corner shop one morning browsing the front page headlines I saw this on the front of the Daily Mail ”How to diet in your SLEEP” by Dr Jason Fung. .. I chuckled inwardly “Oh, now, come on, you have got to be joking! OK, I can use a laugh, I will get this paper.” Well, the rest is history. I did just exactly what Dr Fung says in his article of Daily Mail 28 March 2016  “Diet in your sleep”. It was so easy, peasy. There were no complicated recipes, no fancy cooking or elaborate, strict menus to follow!

I followed his advice. I stopped eating between meals completely. I stopped raiding the fridge at night. I developed a healthy dislike of the fatty, sugary low quality snacks on display in the staff room, I filled up on lots of colourful, fresh, fruit and vegetables, my own home made fruit smoothies and I ate rosy read apples – like a cart horse does.

It was a slow and gradual process. I had to grow some patience and to persist with my own little weight loss experiment. To my utter amazement, that resident cushion of fat that had been there for 20+ years disappeared in less than 6 months. I had to chuck all those baggy, dark clothes. The scales told me that I had lost a whole stone! My friends, family and work colleagues told me too.

I’m delighted – thanks to both Esther Ridsdale for her motivating Wellbeing Course (and Dr Fung for his article). This is only the beginning. Now that I have proved to myself that I can succeed, I feel that I can succeed with many other things in life too.

These days I do still have my delicious, little treats you know – maybe a square or two of my favourite dark chocolate, but I keep it under control.  I continue to drink tea and coffee (usually 2 – 3 per day maximum) – coffee is believed to be an appetite suppressant. Now, is that cool, or what?

Wellbeing, by Edith Botan

What is well-being? Is it being well? I presume well-being means being well mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In which case, I haven’t been so well lately. I was recently sectioned under the mental health act for attempting suicide. However, I am on my road to recovery now, so I guess with that in mind, I am in a state of recovering my wellness, my well-being.

I can share things that have brought me out of the darkest, lowest ebb of my life to where I am now, being able to survive each day at a time. Hopefully one day I will move from surviving day to day to thriving, but for now, surviving is where I am at. Which is a step further forward from trying to die.

I got beyond the blackness by making one tiny change at a time. First I had to acknowledge my pain, why it was there, where it had stemmed from. I had to take ownership for myself, for my life. Though I have a past I wouldn’t wish on anyone, it is mine, it is my story. It is part of making me who I am and who I am not today.

Secondly, I had to learn to speak, say how I truly felt, vocalise what matters to me, communicate my needs. Overcoming this was not an easy feat, my past has taught me that I can be used, not valued, and that I do not matter. Starting to talk about what is good for me was a huge step in the right direction. I am learning self-worth. I use to gain self-worth from achieving stuff, the more I achieved the better I felt about myself. But I realise now that achieving accomplishments is never enough to replace what is missing. I was missing a sense of me, that just being me was OK. That me, myself and I is enough.

Thirdly, I got active. Sport has been a big part of my life; it is great for releasing endorphins (happy hormones). I got walking, then started playing racket sports again. Using my body helped me realise that bodies are good, it doesn’t matter what has happened to them, what they look like, but that we have a body and it is designed for the physical. Using my body in this way again gave me value for my body in a way that no make-up, hair-cut or dress could ever do.

I have come to realise it is the intrinsic that matters, everything else is just stuff. How we feel inside, in our hearts, how we feel the blood pump around our bodies, helps us keep connected to ourselves and to this life.

I aim to keep talking, keep acknowledging myself, keep active. Hopefully, my being-well will keep improving and I will keep learning and doing what is good for me. One day I will not just be surviving, but living the life I choose to live, living fully, thriving.

Like a plant needs nourishment to grow, so do we. It is vital that I keep putting in what is healthy for me. No more nonsense, just kindness. Being kind means listening, paying attention, nurturing, treating yourself with compassion. I still have a long way to go, but one day all this theory and practice will become my norm, and I will not be tormented by the current battle that I try to win each day to ensure I make it to the next. I will be at peace with myself if I keep following the – ‘acknowledge’, ‘speak’ and ‘be active’ choices, that are all within me to make.

My self development journey so far

The first post is by Aleena Miles, a participant on one of the ‘Living Life to the Full Wellbeing Courses’ in 2017. Over to you Aleena…

 

The term self development may sound selfish but at some time or another we all wonder “What is this life all about? What am I here for?” After a long time and I arrived at this conclusion “To live as well as possible and to be the best ‘me’ that I can be.” Why do I think this? Well, if I can be a better person, I thought, it will not only improve my own life, but it will also improve the lives of everyone around me to. Everybody in my life will benefit, some in very small ways, and some in greater ways depending upon how much contact we have. In a dream-like scenario, imagine that if some, most or all the people in the world could become happier, healthier, and nicer to others, would that make the world a better place? I think so. This is justification enough for me to continue with self development. As in the words of a well known song “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

I think there were (and are) many things about my thinking, behaviour, appearance, environment, relationships, and my life in general that really do need improvement. To encourage and to motivate myself further I find that it really helps if I sometimes look back and think about what I have already managed to do. During the last 2 or 3 years I have already experienced some success with this improvement physically, mentally and socially. “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” said George Bernard Shaw.Self development is an extremely creative and worthwhile project.

Some Successes so far:

I am now eating and drinking healthier. During April – October 2016 I lost 1 stone in weight, and retain a good size for my height and build. I maintain the habit of meditating and doing a little yoga (for about 10 minutes on each) most mornings to feel calmer, happier and to improve my posture. I genuinely feel mentally and physically better. Not only that, but since I ditched the alcohol I actually get better sleep and wake up nice and early. My home is starting to look much better. I am starting to make new friends. These are some of the bad daily habits that I changed.

2014 – 2017

I STOPPED

Watching, Drinking and Eating the following :

Soap Opera addiction. I was utterly addicted. Unfortunately it became too tragically depressing so I had to ditch this “mental and emotional pollution” – so out in the metaphorical dustbin it goes!

Wine nightly addiction.

Sweets and junk food addiction (eating between meals).

I STARTED :

Considering: “My purpose in life”

Reading: 1or 2 pages each morning of Rhonda Byrne’s books.

Attending: group Meditation sessions and doing it at home too

Attending: Well being course with Esther Ridsdale.

Making: Fruit smoothies every day.

Trying: Social activities

Bouncing: doing 100 bounces on a rebounder before breakfast.

Stretching: a 10 minute Yoga session in the mornings called “Salute to the sun”.

Drinking: Green tea (mornings).

Volunteering

Painting

De-cluttering

Future goals:

To improve family and work relationships. I need to think more before I speak, learn to defuse my hot temper to count to 10. Good advice about these issues is welcome!