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.

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Music Memories….

It seems like such a long time since my days at university when I was studying for a music degree. Almost like another lifetime – the passage of time changes many things. I enjoy many things in life but I would have to say music is my absolute passion. I love it (even more than eating chocolate and that’s saying something!) Music has the profound ability to connect you to something – a feeling, a memory, your own idea of what heaven is perhaps – it has the power to unite people in celebration, joy, excitement and sadness. Seldom does it divide (unless you were part of the audience for the premier of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ in 1913 of course).

What is about music that is so moving? Is it the music itself or is it our own emotional reactions to what we are hearing? I think it is a combination of the two. There is a certain amount of nostalgia experienced when we hear certain pieces of music. If you hear a song from many years ago when you were a child, it has an almost magical ability to transport you back to how you felt when you heard it. ‘Oh, this takes me back…’

Almost like riding a bicycle – you never really forget how to do something or lose the memory of a feeling regardless of how many years ago you experienced it. Playing an instrument stays in your fingers and in your mind even if you have a break from it for a while. I still have wonderful memories of when I sang in choirs, played in concerts and (along with a great deal of stress, nervous tension and caffine), enjoyed the fact that I was able to make music. It was a dream come true.

Yes, music has a way of encompassing you entirely bringing you into a different sphere of being. Whether it is classical music, rock, listening to a choir singing in a cathedral, folk music, etc. whatever it is you enjoy listening to and playing, you can be sure of one thing – the ability of music can change the world around you. With a seemingly magical and otherworldly power to influence and move people on such a scale, it is no surprise that music spoke to me at such a young age, being the artistic, sensitive soul I am. It all started when I picked up a recorder and started playing along with T.V theme tunes by ear.

I was hooked.

Nowadays, I love listening to music more than playing. I play for my own enjoyment and it is as if no time has passed at all from when I picked up the flute at the tender age of 14 years old and said to myself ‘this is impossible, I’ll never get a note out of it’ to now when I can play hosts of scales and tunes until my heart is content. I didn’t think I would reach that point – but I did!

Now I listen to and play anything and everything – the more varied, strange and interesting, the better. I wouldn’t say I prefer one genre over the other – I just love music that has the ability to uplift and change how I feel and perhaps helps shift my increasingly stubborn perspectives somehow. Ah, growing older…

Music is all around us…

Practice, patience and perseverance are the ingredients in whatever you choose to do in life…. and not forgetting of course to love what you do!

Go be, do and enjoy 🙂

© 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

The Healing Heart….

Listening to and following your heart sounds very romantic. Almost like an ideal situation that we have forgotten about and shelved for the time being as it doesn’t seem to get us anywhere. I remember years ago when a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I said ‘I want to be a musician’. She said (actually she laughed) and said ‘That’s all very well, but will it bring money in? I doubt it.’ If I wasn’t stronger in that very moment, I would have listened to her and lost out on some of the best experiences in my life so far.

It is doing what feels right and natural that seems to be the most difficult of all.

Having a goal which involves following your intuitive feelings isn’t always easy especially when nobody else is on your side. I never had thought to myself that I was idealistic in anyway (perhaps in my youth) but I always believed I could achieve anything if I put my mind to it. I had the conviction of faith. I wasn’t particularly religious growing up but I always had a belief in something, that there was a meaning and purpose behind all existence somehow.

“All ideals are dangerous: because they debase and brand the actual; all are poisons, but indispensable as temporary cures.”

(Friedrich Nietzsche).

If we are constantly aspiring to an ideal, we are missing out on living in the moment we have been given. We become a seeker of a false reality instead but in some ways, it keeps us going. We keep moving in the direction of our dreams whilst all along forgetting to actually live out our dreams.

If we don’t listen to the heart, we don’t grow. We cease to live. We exist only in some kind of detached reality whereby we feel constantly unhappy and unfulfilled. We then make poor decisions instead that bring about a feeling of consolation for removing ourselves from the needs of our heart. I have always been a great advocate of personal growth and asking questions. Don’t just accept things about yourself at face value unless you understand ‘why’ you make the decisions you do. Every instance I wanted an insight into my behaviour, I asked myself why did I do this, why did I feel like this, why did I make this decision? Being completely honest with yourself is the way to living a life from your heart.

We are so very cynical I feel when it comes to taking the heart’s advice. Why would it put you wrong anyway? It is keeping you alive after all. If we ever allowed ourselves to stop very briefly, to sit down and have a rest for five minutes, we would become aware of the beating of our heart in the midst of a peaceful silence. Everyday, our hearts keep us alive. We know the heart is beating. We have night and day, the sun, the moon, the stars….we know what to expect. There is a force at work and everything seems to have a rightful place. A miracle of life that sustains all living things in existence. We know it through the mind. Do we feel it and experience it through the heart though?

We are surely understanding more in relation to the actual fabric of existence. The ability to learn about and analyse our surroundings is fantastic for sure. For example, the news that scientists had discovered the existence of light that originated from the the birth of the universe over 13 billion years ago is quite simply – amazing. We can learn more about the natural environment, ecosystems and wildlife. There are no limits to the possibilities within science. That’s what makes it so fascinating – pushing the boundaries of what is currently known and possible.

We are now fully aware of what is happening to the natural world. Our climate is changing rapidly and irreversibly. It is a reflection of how our individuals needs and desires are changing everything we see. Whether we could have avoided this situation or not will be debatable in years to come. Now, all we can do is hopefully adapt and overcome to survive the changes we are facing.

We can expand and increase our knowledge and understanding of the world and indeed, the universe we live in. The quest for knowledge and fact is the search for truth but if it is not tempered by the intuitive wisdom and guidance of the heart, I doubt that science will be able to stand fully on its own. Where is truth also to be found? In the human heart. Consciousness is a way of being. A way of living in the world with an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things. If you don’t believe me, then search your heart.

Within nowhere, is everything. The essence of spirit (or the possible key that science is continually searching for). I believe this can only be understood and experienced through consciousness. A realisation of the aliveness and being of everything in existence. What is consciousness? That mystical force that is behind all existence.

Science is the quest for factual truth. If we can see it and touch it, then it is real. Living in reality means looking at the facts of our existence. Evolution is a fact. Climate change is a fact. Facts are important and crucial to our understanding of the world we inhabit. There is however, another hidden aspect to our individual and collective existence on earth. Consciousness itself. We are not an abstract entity in relation to the world we inhabit. We are the world we inhabit. The same atoms, made of the same ‘stuff’.

Whatever this force is, this energy, I believe it is a natural part of our evolutionary process. We are part of it. We are energy. As a species, we are yet to accept this truth within us. There lies one possible direction we could take. Is this the key we are looking for? This simple key with which we need to unlock the eternal mysteries? A mystery that cannot be analysed, seen or touched but felt only through experience? I do not believe science can unite every aspect of existence simply by looking at facts. Facts can be misleading after all….

These are just my feelings and beliefs. We are all searching for clues to the answers we seek and making sense of it all requires us to embrace, consider and to accept all the possibilities. Rule nothing out, keep an open mind and where possible, look at the facts.

What is a fact? A fact is an element of truth. And what is truth? From the perspective of science, if you can see and touch it, so it is real. How can it be proven otherwise? Can’t truth also be an awareness of something? An intuitive feeling? Something that only you could be aware of without anyone else understanding? If only a specific individual can be aware of this truth in their own way and in their own time, is it then possible to evolve together as a species if truth is only part of a subjective experience?

Define truth? We could debate that one for centuries to come…

So, we are all part of this strange mystical energy but all of us seem to be travelling through it in our own way. When we finally learn to live in harmony with ourselves, we are falling in line in accordance with the natural law – simplicity. From our perspective as human beings, there is nothing complex about existence. It is not our struggle to understand the theory and meaning behind existence but our inability to feel that we are also a living part of that existence. As soon as we all experience this simple truth, the world will change. Our inner world will change…

When I say ‘travelling through it in our own way’, I mean to say that personal growth depends on the individual in question. Most of us are too stressed and busy getting through life to slow down and ask ourselves the most meaningful and significant questions life holds in trust for us. When we are ready to approach it (in other words, when we have suffered enough), then we consciously choose to change our life situation for the better. As soon as we do that, things begin to change for the better. Life and the choices we make begin to make sense when we truly listen to ourselves.

The environment of our planet reflects what is going on in our minds. If we have toxic thoughts, that will have a negative impact on the world around us. There is no way we can create a harmonious external environment when the environment in our own mind is in turmoil. We need to be in touch with ourselves on the very deepest levels of consciousness to ensure we are dwelling in a state equanimity. Every feeling and thought you have and everything you do in life will influence someone else.

Just like nature, human beings have the capacity to grow…if we allow the process to happen through our continued awareness of our thoughts and emotions. If we stop feeling, we stop living. The natural world is alive but we do not realise that we are such an intricate part of that aliveness. Living from a holistic perspective means dwelling in harmony with the world and when we do this, we find ourselves living peacefully with ourselves and others in turn. When we end the conflict within ourselves, we end the conflict with the rest of the world.

The question is – when (if ever) will our collective suffering reach a point where that change is an inevitability? Suffering is simply a signature of living in disharmony with oneself. If we look at the natural environment, we can see just how pronounced these changes are. War, poverty, hunger and disease are becoming more prevalent in the world as time goes on but they have no rightful place in the human heart. They are just illusory shadows of the mind caused by fear and isolation.

When we heal ourselves, we heal the world in turn. Listen to your heart.

© 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

Ex lovers, lies and strange goodbyes….

Ahh…it is the old story….

I met an ex boyfriend recently who I had parted badly with – yes. That joy. I had found out in despair many years ago now that he had cheated on me left, right and centre..and then some more just for good measure. Even with prostitutes. It was strange seeing him again. Still the same guy and no doubt with the same problems. What was even stranger was how different I felt in his presence. I felt nothing. This guy had severely broken my heart and I couldn’t believe my own reaction. I felt nothing at all. Zero. The aftershock response of having experienced severe grief…numbness.

He was older than me by about 20 years and I was 22 at the time all this drama had unfolded. Not old enough or with enough experience to know what I was really dealing with. He was a man I had felt happy and safe with. I enjoyed his company so much and he really made me laugh. I’m sure he saw me and thought to himself ‘easy prey, a sitting duck’. I thought we had shared some great times and I suppose in some ways we had (in my own delusional mind at the time). In the end though, all I had were tears. Finding text messages from other woman on his phone was the tip of the iceberg.

I caught him in the act eventually. (The act of sex, not the act of love I might add). Serial womanisers are unfamiliar with what love is. The only feeling they have is limited to one area and it isn’t their heart. To love someone means you care which means you have feeling and would know what it means to hurt someone who trusts you. So from sex, we went to ex fairly quickly – instantly in fact. I had cried myself to sleep every night for weeks on end. I could barely eat for the emotional knots and anxiety in my stomach and I had wished the world would leave me in peace to grieve my loss. But – I had to go to work as usual the next day. Life goes on. Fun, fun, fun!

His words to me on the last day we were together were as follows – ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. I know I’ve f****d up. I’m so sorry.’ I think my words were in response:

‘Yes, well that’s lies for you. They’ll screw you in the end. Your penis would be proud.’ (or words to that effect – I’m still quite hazy on how I replied. I had blocked most of it out for obvious reasons!

Now, we were standing on a street corner during a busy lunch hour making irrelevant smalltalk. We were total strangers now. It was surreal to say the least. It was almost as though time had stood still for a moment, almost like a sarcastic joke thrown down to me by fate to see how I would deal with it. I don’t think I dealt with it in any shape or form. I just…felt nothing. A void. To be honest, when we had been together, emotionally we were strangers to each other as well. All the lies he had told me had torn trust and honesty apart at the seams before I was even aware of it. And you know what they say about trust and mirrors…

He had been living a lie with himself. If I had stayed and given him another chance, it would have been me living the lie as well. It wasn’t even the fact that he had been with other woman that bothered me most. It was the fact that he had deceived me. The hurt and the betrayal was what hurt me so much. Those feelings of anguish and pain that I was now struggling so hard to recall. It was another lifetime ago to me. What I had thought in my naive younger years to be intimacy, love and trust was a comeplete lie. My god had I changed since then and as I walked away, I thanked my lucky stars I had made my escape when I did.

Along with numbness, I also felt so much relief that I was no longer anywhere near him. I just hoped he wasn’t in the process of screwing up yet another poor woman’s life and trust in the goodness of people. Hope springs eternal.

‘Goodbye’..the best word ever sometimes…..

How many of us out there are living a lie? (albeit very subtly sometimes – denial can be a force to be reckoned with). Telling lies is almost as bad as living a lie. Perhaps when you tell lies, you are then living a lie as you have to convince yourself to believe in the lie. If you don’t believe the lies you are telling, then how can other people believe it? If you do want to live a lie, I would say – do it on your own time and not on someones else’s.

Walking away is hard but it is a simple solution…end something that clearly isn’t working. And this, to me at the time was right in my face…and not in the good way!

Keep heartbreak to yourself if you can’t treat your partner with basic respect!

Grr! I hate meeting an ex…it can be a journey to bitter and resentful land, city central if you let it but too much water has passed under the bridge for that….a life lesson for sure!

Forgiveness is healthier and easier to accomplish than holding a heavy and painful grudge. In all honesty, it just isn’t worth wasting the energy…use the same energy to love yourself and others instead.

Time well spent!

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