I don’t know how to have fun…better work on this. (Or maybe I should just chill out).

I have been given an amazing insight by my long suffering mother today. I am actually one of those people who doesn’t know how to have fun – this is true. I think I know – but I don’t. That’s the problem. I think too much. For the first time in this life, I have admitted this to myself. I take everything so seriously (well, not everything but a lot) and ‘fun’ isn’t something I would consider myself being or having. I can have a laugh and a joke with friends and have a good night but my entire mindset is geared up to finding the point and the meaning within everything I do otherwise, there is just no point in doing it. Everything has to mean something.

I really do need to have more fun. Just for the sake of it! This feels weird to me…how sad!

‘Don’t you ever do things just for fun?’ ‘No mum, I don’t see the point. You have to learn something about yourself and the world around you and acquire new skills and a certificate in the process. Otherwise, you’re just wasting energy. What are you achieving?’ (Comparing me to close family members in the process…’you know you’re exactly like your sister, your aunt, your cousin…’

How did I miss this?

‘Is there a course I can do in ‘having fun?’ (Only joking…) No! That one is down to you… just chill! Not everything has to be a trial.’ I blame my training as a classical musician. ‘If you make one mistake in this audition, you won’t get in’ I made a mistake. ‘Yeah, that’s why you didn’t get in.’ So – I spend the early years of my life believing mistakes cannot happen and that everything is just that serious. For some people yes – but I am not one of those people obviously. I have a lot to unravel….or maybe not..I’m cool 🙂 I don’t have to understand why all the time…ahem! (Fighting every natural (or conditioned) urge in my body right now…

I came home from work earlier feeling a bit blue, bored and a bit tired. I decided to call home. I was preparing my negative monologue. ‘Ah there’s just no point to anything…this is a mad life. I don’t know what I should be doing.’ It is a mad life of course. Yes it is. So mad I can’t even begin to tell you. You know yourself what this planet is like.

I get uptight about silly things. I obsess about stuff I shouldn’t really – but then I think to myself ‘well if I don’t do this or if I don’t take this seriously, nobody else will and then something bad will happen or we’ll make a mistake.’ Yeah. Maybe. But…maybe not. Obsessive? Me? Ha! If I relaxed a little more, what harm could it do? I like to think of myself as someone who knows how to have fun. Why should I have to ‘know’ how to have fun? Why can’t I just ‘have’ fun?

I feel quite odd as I write this. I know I’m very structured, organised and I like my routine. I am a creature of comfort but I want to be different. I crave to be passionate, adventurous, more of a dare devil and an extrovert – but I really don’t think I am. I pretend I am and that pretense is what has been driving me crazy over the years. If I can finally accept the fact that I am actually quite wound up sometimes – (I really feel uncomfortable admitting this), perhaps I might be able to loosen up more as a person.

I mean – here I am telling people to make the most of every moment and enjoy life when I don’t do the same myself a lot of the time. If I took my own advice, it would be a good thing. I’m stuck in my head, lost in thought and neglecting the very basic fact that life is there for enjoyment – this includes myself.

(almost forgot about that).

© Christina McDonald 2014.

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Passion Versus Peace

In the midst of life’s challenges and desires, there is always a subtle pressure to seek and do more whether we are aware of it or not. If people stopped doing things, what would happen to the world? Let me rephrase that – what if people stopped doing negative and destructive things and replaced them with positive acts and deeds? Good news instead of bad news. I think a lot of the choices we have and end up making in life depend on the quality and focus of our intention – what do we intend to happen?

Feeling restless and discontent is something I really don’t like feeling. I am not a person who finds it easy to settle down. I always have to be running around, doing new things and challenging myself. ‘This is too easy, I’ve conquered this, I need a new challenge, what can I do now?’

Is ‘easy’ a bad thing or does it simply mean we are not trying hard enough or pushing ourselves in the way we should? Perhaps we have all learned to fight contentment as it could mean we have nothing left to strive for, no more goals on the horizon. When people ask me what I’m passionate about, I don’t know what to say. I love life, I enjoy learning and exploring everything it has to offer but I don’t have this fervent desire brooding inside of me that seems to be needed to achieve things.

In a world where we all have to be passionate and driven to do well, is it any wonder we all feel restless and constantly worn out? Feeling and experiencing passion is amazing though. It really gives us the determination to succeed at what we do. The only problem is – it burns out very quickly sometimes. Rather than being passionate about what you do, I think it is better to love what you do instead.

Life seldom works out the way you thought it would. Plans and dreams tend to waver off course, just like a meandering river, the journey of life carries us through the choices we make. There is only the destination we choose for ourselves which means – life is in our hands. There is energy behind the flow of the river. If we combine our energy with a focused intention, we find more often than not that we will be able to achieve what we want. But that’s just it – what do we want?

Desire, lust and passion are intensely seductive and they have the power to consume and destroy. You can be enslaved by your desires and ultimately destroyed by them. Look at any addiction. (Watch Star Wars). It is filled with Zen wisdom! I don’t know what I prefer really. To be peaceful and content or to be passionate and driven. All I know is – I cannot have both. Perhaps we all go through phases where we prefer one over the other.

Love stands the test of time. Look at successful relationships for example – if love is the foundation, you will go the distance. Building a relationship on passion in life is like trying to build a house on a stormy sea. It just doesn’t work. The waves are turbulent, volatile and guaranteed to throw you all over the place. In a relationship, it may be exciting for a while but the excitement is eventually overtaken by exhaustion and tiredness as you try desperately to hold on to the passion which is energy – energy cannot be restrained. It changes from moment to moment. You cannot hold onto to it.

If there is anything in life we could say is certain is that nothing ever stays the same for long. Even if it does, eventually things will change. It is the nature of the world we live in. People come and go. Lives change and people grow. Surely to stand still is to stagnate? Like everything in life, it depends on how you look at things. If you feel stuck, perhaps it is all do with luck….

‘I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.’

(Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This says it all. So much in this world is uncertain even if we do plan things. Life can give you a hand that you didn’t expect. Time and chance have their role to play. Chances come and risks can be taken but you can still never know what lies ahead of you if you do take that leap and if you don’t. To me, contentment, happiness and peace are the main goals of life. What you want may not always be what you find. It could be better or worse than you originally intended depending on how you look at things. Are we all simply just ‘putting up’ with things and settling for less than we deserve in life or are we actually happy? Now that is a tricky one…

I’m going to go with peace.

Christina McDonald 2014.

Living Consciously in a Stressful and Chaotic City Centre…

Living in today’s world means living in a way that requires us to be aware of not just ourselves but of other people’s feelings and needs. One of the problems that society is facing today is that nobody has time. Everybody is in a hurry and nobody can wait. The philosophy of ‘me, me me’ is consuming every aspect of being human. Yes, we are all busy and we all have problems, stresses and issues to deal with – who doesn’t? Is there anytime to live when we are all trying so desperately hard to survive?

When you learn to become self-aware, you realise that the world does not simply revolve around you. An awareness of how your thoughts, words and actions affect other people becomes second nature after a while. You begin living life from a different perspective which allows you to interact with the people around you consciously (with awareness). It isn’t as hard as it sounds. Just be considerate and understand that other people (yourself included) matter.

Living in a busy and stressful city centre, it is all too easy to see how the effects of stress can make people act angrily and irrationally. Emotion and tiredness takes over and logical reasoning flies out the window. Before you know it, you see people swearing, criticising others, beeping their horn as loudly as possibly at other car drivers, shouting at contractors for not doing their job properly…I’m sure there are many others instances you can think of. The joys of running in the rat race….

I would rather run in the human race. I don’t know what the difference between the two is sometimes. There is so much anger and hatred in society that it makes me question what motivates people to carry on like that. I am happy in myself but it saddens me to see so many people who are unhappy, stressed and miserable. Life is far too short to be anything but happy. I know it is not so simple sometimes but we can at least smile at others when we are having a bad day….it would be a start.

Friends and family are important, spending good quality time with the people we love is something that matters and none of us do it enough. Lets not forget that we should extend that love and care to the people who surround us. A moment in which we say ‘thank you’ to someone who holds a door open, a smile that brightens a stranger’s day, making cheerful small talk with the cashier in the shop…all these little things give people the incentive to keep going. There is nothing worse than feeling that nobody has the time to care and nothing that makes you despair more.

We can all make time if we really want to. It is the little things that make such a big difference in the end. Make sure the little things are a smile and not a frown….

© Christina McDonald 2014

‘Just stay positive…’Managing the ups, the downs and the messy inbetween stuff..

‘Life is what happens while you are busy making others plans’.

John Lennon

The messy bits in between make life worth living….nothing is apparent or clear until we make our way through it all. Walking a path through the chaos is the way we find the path…

If there was anything I could say is ‘wrong’ with my life that I would want to improve, it is the inability to stay positive. I can remind myself to be positive on difficult days. Staying positive – well that is another whole kettle of fish sometimes. I can’t just stay positive all of the time. I’m moody and have loads of ups and downs. I’m just not one of those people. I’m more of a ‘if the glass is half full, then…I’m out of booze, fill it up with a large tequila to make me feel better….please God.’

(I usually snap out of it soon enough!)

I can bring myself back to a state of positivity but I’ll be damned if I can maintain it sometimes! I have a positive outlook on life and I am a great believer in being positive. Being negative for no reason sucks. The only problem is I am very sensitive and emotional and my mood goes up and down from one day to the next. A human sponge. I am conscious of other people’s moods and sensitivities and I am liable to pick up someone else’s bad vibes as a consequence. How can you negate the bad vibes and focus on the feel good stuff instead?

Don’t Think Too Much:

That is a curse in itself. Thinking too much places your entire day in a self-imposed bubble of nonsense. The chattering mind will not help you to gain or keep perspective. It makes you feel gloomy for no reason, even if everything is going well. Thoughts are just thoughts. Your reaction to thoughts means more than the actual thoughts themselves. I would rather think too much than too little though…(Not that I think too much or anything and end up tiring myself out over nothing…. (I gotta work on that one…)

Don’t complain about other people (no matter how much they get on your nerves):

Seriously – how often do we feel we want to get some annoyances off our chest? I do. A lot! I try to let those feelings go. Usually, I can feel myself getting very angry before I feel a tirade coming on.

So cue the following – ‘Deep breaths, calm blue ocean, let it go, let it go…one glass of tequila please’…:)

Learn to Laugh at Yourself:

Life can be hilarious sometimes. Just look around you. Taking things too seriously is no way to go. Take things seriously enough and that will be just fine. If you don’t laugh at life, you will end up being miserable. When s*** happens, smile 🙂 How often do things ever really go to plan? They will always work out but not according to the way you might have originally thought they would. They may even work out better for all you know….

Break your routine:

It is so easy today more than ever before to get trapped in a behavioural rut if we are not aware of it. We all work very long hours and especially in the city, it can leave you feeling comepletely drained. Many of us our a slave to routine. There is nothing like a good stable routine to make you feel secure sometimes but it can also weigh you down and make you feel as though you have nothing to look forward to.

Do something fun and shake it up! 😉

© Christina McDonald 2014

The exquisite and beautiful pain…enjoy your life…this is it!

It is simple. Enjoy every moment. It is exquisite. It has been given to you. Live it with every ounce of your being. Have you ever dared to live your dreams to the point where you’ve actually been so nervous, scared to death even and experiencing so much adrenalin to the point where deep exhilaration is inevitable? New boundaries are created. The fear, the suspense, the joy, the bliss…has life pushed you to the edge yet or have you been too afraid to peer over the cliff?

If you have never pushed the boundaries, gone to the outer rims of what you feel can endure, if you have never had an addiction, never allowed yourself to feel pain, to suffer to the depths of your being, to feel joy to depths of your being, you are merely a living shadow of who you really are. You are not living, but existing only.

‘Life is not tried, it is merely survived’. If you’re standing outside the fire.'(Garth Brooks)

I am a rebel at heart and happy to be me. If you don’t allow yourself to get burned occasionally, (blind roaring drunk, heart broken, etc). whatever you fear, you will not be able to cope when you actually do feel real pain. How can you emotionally prepare for the shocks and hardships life hands out if you don’t have the strength and wisdom of experience to deal with it?

If you live life in a safe bubble, you can be sure one day it will burst. Bubbles are quite pretty, beautiful to watch floating about everywhere but they disappear in a flash – ‘pop’ – that’s it. Then what?

Don’t be afraid of anything in life and don’t shut out experiences. They are your life line to your mental and emotional strength. Embrace everything it has to offer. If we repress our feelings, don’t let stress out, carry on holding negative feelings, we will hurt ourselves and do more damage in the long run.

Expressing who you are is the key to living your life on your own terms. If people tell you to ‘pull yourself together’ or ‘don’t cry’ or don’t be so silly, grow up’, they are the only ones who are denying their feelings – they will expect you to do that too because they think it is appropriate to do so. Conform, conform conform.

To hell with that. Be an individual.

It is YOUR LIFE. No one elses. Live it, learn it, love it!

© Christina McDonald 2014

Simple pleasures….

There is nothing better than experiencing the very simple pleasures of life. A warm sunny day, meeting up with a friend for coffee or putting your feet up with a good book after a long hard day at work. I often feel these things are what life is all about. We all struggle sometimes to find meaning in everything we do and sometimes that meaning can be lost when we do the same thing over and over again. We then start craving some excitment and stimulation elsewhere.

How many of us have uttered or thought the famous words…’my life has no meaning’ or ‘what I do means nothing’. ‘I’m not a great world leader or person of influence’. Comparing yourself to others is a guaranteed way to feel absolutely awful about yourself. What exactly are you comparing yourself to? How things look in someone else’s life is not perhaps how things actually are.

Who is to say what is meaningful?

Comparison is simply a way to cast yourself in someone else’s shadow. It is a recipe for unhappiness. If you don’t feel as though you are living your life to its fullest potential, then it is an opportunity to change it. Don’t just be unhappy – sort it out! Everyone finds meaning in different ways. There is no one preferred option or even a right way.

Don’t follow the crowd and feel the people who are ‘better off’ actually are. Some of the wealthiest and apparently ‘happy people’ are the most unhappy in the world. You don’t know what pain and personal difficulties they are experiencing. Appearances are always very deceptive. Illusion causes confusion!

The danger is searching for meaning in things that do not last. Empty addictive thrills. Drink, drugs, sex etc. These are momentary thrills that disappear as quickly as they came along. Enjoyable yes…pleasurable, hell yes…truly meaningful…no. If you feel you have an addiction to something, to me you are searching for something that can’t really be found.

Excitement, the rush of arendalin, the high you crave – it is followed by a very bad low. A low that you need to get rid of as soon as you possibly can. Believe me – I have been there! It is replaced quickly once more by the addiction you crave. Life becomes an adrenalin rollercoaster of addiction and it is actually just exhausting more than anything else.

Pleasure is very short lived sometimes but it exists within the true essence of happiness.

I used to dread a life without excitement. I couldn’t stand the thought of being bored and having nothing to do. I still have the comparison bug. It is in me still (dormant!) and sometimes it rears its ugly head when I feel down. What excites me now is the prospect of living a life that has meaning based on what I truly value in life. Good friends, health and wellbeing and someone to love and spend my life with. These things are what will endure with a real sense of meaning over time. It may not seem much, but in reality, it is all there ever is.

© Christina McDonald 2014

Second rate lives and first rate dreams…..

The power of dreams… and it isn’t just ‘Honda’that really believes that. I think deep down we all do really. What would life be like without having a dream? Pretty boring I think.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Some big, some small, and both of equal importance. Life changing stuff. Of course, being told at a young age by a primary school teacher to ‘stop day dreaming or you’ll never get where you need to be’ really made an impression on me…

20 years later, I’m still dreaming. I’m happy as well. I have a full time job, my health, my strength and good friends. I enjoy life. To me, that ticks all the boxes.

Dreaming I often find, is instilled negatively in children and in adults. A description for someone who isn’t very reliable or maybe a bit abstract and different. Eccentric. A person who doesn’t fit in.

‘Oh, he would do better in class if he wasn’t dreaming all the time’…Maybe he would do better in class that day but be less of an inspiration in the world when he grows up…

(Dreams have no place in the classroom you see).

Targets and grades need to be met. The syllabus doesn’t really have the requirements to cover dream theory in depth…

I say let the kid dream and stop interfering…they may change the world one day. Don’t encourage him to have a second rate life with first rate dreams that go unfulfilled.

Also where is it I actually ‘ need to be?’ That’s what I love about some school teachers. Their all seeing and all knowing advice. Having dreams is what life is all about to me.

If we didn’t have visions and ideas (or dreams), humanity would stand still. Cures for illnesses would never be found. Space exploration would be unheard of. Solutions to many problems would not occur if we didn’t give ourselves the freedom to imagine ‘what if?’

The possibilities are endless and dreams are that possibility. There are no limits to imagination and creativity unless you impose those restrictions on yourself.

The world is your oyster. It always has and always will be.

Keep your positive goals and dreams a part of your life and eventually, with belief and determination, they will manifest.

Live a first rate life….

© Christina McDonald 2014