As With All Matters Of The Heart, You’ll Know When You Find It

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This magical Steve Jobs quote applies to so many things in life. Follow your heart, listen to your intuition – that gut feeling that lets you know something is right for you – and above all, never, ever settle.

© N. Lamy – The Pollyanna Plan – 2014- All Rights Reserved.

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It’s Never Too Late To Pursue Your Dreams And Passions

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This picture is such a great reminder that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and passions and do something you truly love to do. It is especially meaningful to me, as watching the film Julie & Julia was one of the things that inspired me to start The Pollyanna Plan blog back in January 2013.  

And as the second year of The Pollyanna Plan draws to a close, I am so very happy to report that my continual focus on gratitude and my daily reasons to feel glad/happy/joyful continue to improve my health and my life beyond measure.

Onward…as the awesome Elizabeth Gilbert would say. :)

© N. Lamy – The Pollyanna Plan – 2014- All Rights Reserved.

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Gratitude Is Medicine For The Soul

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Gratitude – it really is a game changer! There’s something about taking a few minutes out of your day to sit quietly and focus on (or write down) some things you feel genuinely grateful for, that can completely turn things around. It’s the perfect pick me up if you’re feeling a little glum or under the weather. And it can really boost and build on any happy, positive vibes you’ve got going on.

How can I say this with certainty? Because I’ve been practising gratitude since I started The Pollyanna Plan nearly 2 years ago and it has literally changed my life beyond recognition. And also because I’ve just spent a few minutes writing out my reasons to feel glad/happy/joyful today and I’m already feeling the benefits. It’s like medicine for the soul.

So my question for you today is, what are you feeling grateful for right now? Why not give it a go and you’ll see what I mean! :)

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© N. Lamy – The Pollyanna Plan – 2014- All Rights Reserved.

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Befriending Your Inner Critic – {On self-kindess and embracing the shadow of self-meanness}

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Befriending your inner critic

A while back, I wrote a post about how I’m in the process of learning to hush my harsh, berating inner voice and be a little kinder to myself. And I’m really – like really, REALLY - excited, grateful and very honoured to bring you this brilliant guest post by Hollie Holden (author of one of my favourite blogs and Facebook pages, Notes On Living And Loving) all about how to befriend your inner critic. I have found it enormously helpful. Thank you so much Hollie, it’s over to you:

Over the past few years, I have been on an intense journey from self-criticism and self-harshness towards deeper self-love, self-kindness, dropping of perfectionist ways and intimacy with myself. And I have discovered that this journey is absolutely necessary for me to commit to in my quest to be a loving presence for others. They simply cannot happen without each other.

And when Nina asked me to guest-write for her wonderful blog, I felt called to share a really powerful exercise that has helped me so much on this journey. So here goes…

There is something I have discovered about self-kindness – and all things positive and wonderful and soulful. And that is, if we want to learn more about it, welcome more of this energy into our lives, into our relationship with ourselves, we must also look at all the ways in which we are unkind to ourselves.

This seems counterintuitive, I know. But bear with me.

First I need to talk about positivity, which is great in so many ways. It is absolutely a swing in the right direction as our consciousness evolves. And ‘thinking positive’ and affirmations and envisaging wondrousness is a great use of our energy.

AND we must also work on the shadowy bits in ourselves if we want to experience true positivity in our lives. We must face these things head on in ourselves so that we can excavate our foundations in order for the positive, kind, healing vibes to find space and deeper expression in and through us.

So, whenever I am asked how we can begin to be kinder to ourselves, this is my response:

First, we must get to know the Unkind Voice instead of wishing it away or trying to squeeze it out of our experience. We must approach it fearlessly and with curiosity. And we must understand why it started to speak to us that way in the first place.

Because, you see, everything is either an expression of love or a call for love. And this voice inside us is simply the most fearful, cut-off part of us trying (from a very old, outgrown and limited perspective) to keep us small, away from dangerous, risky situations that might crack us open.

On the practical level, there are three main components to this initial exercise as I see it. This is a deep process that needs to unfold over time but this exercise is a great starting point. You might want to do this either with the support of a good coach or just a close friend who is on a similar journey.

  1. Getting to know our inner critic:

To name this critical, harsh part of us is really helpful to start with. Trust the first name that comes to you. However hard I try to think of another name, mine seems to be called Priscilla. Who knows why… But I kind of like how it comes with a good dose of sense of humour, which is always a helpful thing when we are facing these darker parts of ourselves.

Once you know his or her name, you can commit to getting to know him/her. To gain a deeper understanding of this voice’s intentions. You might be surprised how well intentioned it is as you start to listen more deeply to this part of you.

  1. Listening to our inner critic

The second part of this exercise is to start a journal (or just a big piece of paper on the fridge) where you start to record the things this voice says. Like writing down a readout – without judgment or emotional attachment – simply aim to report what you hear or experience when you listen more deeply and without resistance to this voice. You might end up with a list of things like ‘Ugh, you’re dealing with that again. You are just such a failure’ and ‘You idiot! Why did you say that? What must he think of you?’ Whatever flavour your readout shows you, go with that – it is your key to unlocking this unkindness-to-self business.

My own experience with this exercise as the basis for self-inquiry and deepening my relationship with myself has been profound. I have discovered how very, very unkind I can be to myself but I have also created a much healthier distance between my true soul voice and Priscilla’s cold, harsh voice. And the really surprising bit is that I have even come to love Priscilla more and more. I have come to understand her motivations, her ways, her intentions. By turning towards her instead of trying to squash her down or reject her, we have become better acquainted and, these days, I can handle her much better.

And now, the final part of the exercise…

  1. A letter from your loving soul voice to your broken unkind voice

After about a week of quietly, accurately recording your inner critic’s words and phrases, create some time for yourself to sit down and write a letter from the true, loving space of your soul voice – your loving inner parent. Write to this harsh, unkind part of you. Call her by her name. Address her directly. Let the words flow and allow the deep compassion and love that can hold absolutely anything have their say here.

Now, of course, this is not a one-off exercise. This is an on-going, ever-deepening journey into ourselves. It is a commitment we take to shining a light on some of our most uncomfortable and well-hidden patterns and self-concepts. And we need to keep going with it and keep reminders up around us to keep us on track. AND we need to be kind to ourselves when we slip up, when we fall into old patterns, when we forget to keep our journal, when we fall behind with this process.

I wish you deeper intimacy with yourself – and all the parts of you – as you continue on your journey.

Love from Hollie

About the author: Hollie Holden is a mum of two young children, writer and explorer of spirituality, personal growth and self-acceptance. She is a student of A Course in Miracles and the Enneagram. Hollie is particularly interested in how we can know how loved we are and how we can be kinder to ourselves. Visit Hollie’s blog and check out her Facebook page.

© N. Lamy – The Pollyanna Plan – 2014- All Rights Reserved.

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Cliff Jumping and Wing Building

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“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury.

Sometimes life has its own plans for us and sometimes those plans give us a little nudge, edging us outside of our comfort zones and encouraging us to take a leap of faith.

Last time we spoke, I was in the midst of moving house and (rather inconveniently) struggling through an autoimmune flare up, which was somewhat disappointing after I’d been feeling so much better over the summer.

But these days (nearly 2 years since the beginning of The Pollyanna Plan), I handle flare-ups very differently, because these days I know what it feels like to have come through it and see what life looks and feels like on the other side – it’s pretty amazing, in case you were wondering! :) I know now with certainty that I will recover soon enough if I just chill out, focus on the positives, be kind to myself and allow my body to do its thing and heal. And that’s exactly what happened this time round. I regained my strength and got back to feeling well again just in time to help out with the last minute packing, sorting and moving. Yay!

So, after months of preparation and hard work, just like that the house was sold. And whilst we’ve been waiting for the purchase of the new house to go through, my mum and I (plus our 2 dogs) have been living in a lovely apartment nearby, which belongs to my dad. (The only downside to this is that there is no internet connection, which is why I’ve been AWOL for so long!)

I had been so focused on getting ready for the move that I hadn’t really given much thought to what came next. But with the first phase now out of the way, I’ve suddenly found myself feeling very excited about the prospect of new beginnings.

I LOVE a new beginning. Really, it’s one of my favourite feelings! And you don’t have to do anything drastic like move house to experience one. I had my very own new beginning when I started The Pollyanna Plan back in January 2012 and I didn’t even move from the sofa for that one. ;)

For me, new beginnings are filled with infinite possibilities, blank canvases, chapters still unwritten and thoughts that anything could happen. And over the past few days, I’ve been letting myself enjoy and soak in this feeling. I’ve been exploring the area we’ve moved to – I used to live here as a child but so much has changed since then – and I’ve been busying myself with errands, driving around, meeting new people, smiling a lot and feeling a wonderful kind of anticipation that something magical is just around the corner. And, well, it seems that all this positive, happy energy I’ve been flowing has started to create miracles in my life.

You see, as my health has steadily improved over the last couple of years, I have been thinking more and more about living on my own again. I have loved living with my mum all these years – she really is the best – and she has supported me and taken care of me when I needed her the most. I’m so very grateful to her for everything she has done for me, but with every day that I feel stronger and healthier I’ve begun to dream of independence and having a place to call my own. I had no idea how this would happen and, in all honesty, the idea of it both thrilled me and terrified me at the same time.

I mean, I have been ill for such a long time that I’ve forgotten what it feels like to live alone and, although my health is radically better, I still get times when I struggle and don’t feel so great and then there’s the whole financial deal – I don’t earn a proper income yet. So, although the idea of living alone is really REALLY exciting, it also didn’t feel like something I could realistically do for a while.

However, every time I thought about all the reasons why now wasn’t the right time to be living on my own and how I wasn’t quite ready for it all yet, Ray Bradbury’s inspiring words kept popping into my head – “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” And I realised that some of the best experiences I’ve had in my life have been when I’ve jumped off those metaphorical cliffs.

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During those times, there have been moments of panic when I didn’t have a clue how it would all work out – the free-falling, heading rapidly towards the ground kind of panic. But, when I’ve allowed myself to trust that the Universe always has my back, that I can just relax and go with the flow and that maybe I don’t need to have the “hows” all figured out, then my wings have miraculously appeared.

And the moment I came to this realisation, the deep knowing that I could do this after all, a seemingly random set of events were set into motion. And now, instead of moving into the new house with my mum, I am going to rent the fab apartment we have been staying in from my dad. Ahhhhh! I am so excited, happy and anxious all rolled into one! :)

But you know what else I’ve realised? Sometimes life hands us things that scare us a little – or a lot, that we feel we aren’t quite ready for, that we don’t know if we can handle, that push us well and truly outside of our (all too comfortable) comfort zones. And sometimes we’ve just got to jump into the unknown anyway, in spite of our fears, even though we don’t have all the answers. Because more often than not we do build our wings – big, beautiful wings that allow us to soar – and jumping off those cliffs turns out to be the very best thing we could possibly have done.

© N. Lamy – The Pollyanna Plan – 2014- All Rights Reserved.

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The Magical Power Of Writing Stuff Down

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There’s something about writing stuff down that’s very cathartic. I don’t know quite how it works, but somewhere between the thoughts forming in my head and the act of writing, or typing, I start to feel a little better about everything.

Take today, for example. Today has (so far) not been a great day. In fact, the past couple of weeks have not been too great either. I have been in full autoimmune flare up mode again – feverish, weak, exhausted, brain fog…did I mention exhausted? And added to this we are in the throes of moving house.

I’ve struggled on, sorting through all my stuff – boy, did I have a lot of things I no longer need, want, or even knew I had! I’ve given away bags (lots of them) to charity shops, binned a few things, sold a few things and packed up what I’m keeping into boxes.

In theory, this should be such a wonderful, exciting time of new beginnings, getting rid of the old, making way for the new and all that. And I am excited and thankful, I really am, I’m just not well enough to fully enjoy it right now. In fact, it all feels quite daunting and overwhelming, which is so frustrating, as just a couple of months ago I felt great – better than I’d felt for years and I could have done all this sorting/packing lark with ease and joy and still had energy to do lots more.

But, enough about all that. I think it’s high time to change my focus in the only way I know how. And that is to go all Pollyanna about it and look for a reason to feel glad/happy/joyful.

Here goes….

Today I am happy and grateful for the magical power of writing stuff down. Really, it’s so therapeutic. I began writing this post feeling blah and not being able to muster a smile. But, as my fingers have tapped away on the keyboard and my thoughts have spilled out onto the page, I have started to feel lighter, more hopeful and happier.

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Image source: http://designyoutrust.com/2013/05/various-2012-2013-by-alexander-wells

Writing stuff down is like a reminder to myself. You know how when someone gives you advice and it’s exactly what you knew you were going to do anyway, but it feels good to hear it from someone else? That’s what writing does for me. It’s almost as if I don’t listen to myself, unless I see my words written down.

So, this is the advice I’m giving myself to get me through this little health blip:

You know how much healthier and stronger you can feel because you have been there, done that and got the sparkly t-shirt. If you’ve done it once, you can easily do it again. So, for now, chill out, take a deep breath, go easy on yourself, be kind to yourself, because you are doing fantastically well. Focus on things that make you smile, feel grateful for the little things and above all, trust that much better days are just around the corner.

And now I’m sitting here smiling. See, it really is magic! :)

© N. Lamy – The Pollyanna Plan – 2014- All Rights Reserved.

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This Is The Day Your Life Really Begins…

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This is so powerful and so true and something I am going through right now in my life. I just love it and I wanted to share it with you all.  This is the day your life really begins…

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