About ten years ago, a dear friend presented me with a beautifully delicate ceramic heart on a thin piece of golden thread. The heart was inscribed with the typeface ‘I am waiting for true love, but will accept expensive gifts in the interim’
It was something to giggle at, for I had been completely hapless in love. The one guy I had totally fallen in love with in my early twenties, travelled the world and been with for five years had truly crushed my heart and when I look back, completely messed with my confidence and head too. Since then I had been guarded about who I let into my world – of the past fourteen years I have spent nine of them single.
The heart travelled with me in my air shipped crate of belongings to New Zealand in 2008. I had it hanging on the door to my room in a house share with three guys. It fell off and landed on the hallway ceramic tiles. Needless to say it shattered. Much like my own heart, I collected the pieces together and then soaked them in glue, attached them to a piece of card, let them set and for good measure brushed a bit more glue over the pieces again. A few pieces were missing, the damage was visible, but at least now it was reinforced with the cardboard.
Since then that beautiful, haphazard, fragile but reinforced heart has travelled with me back home to England, onto to Germany, back to England, Bali and yet again back home to England. I see it as a reminder that expensive gifts are not the materialistic kind, for me, I see the gifts as priceless lessons in life.
Yes I was waiting for true love – but I did not need expensive materialistic gifts, I really have never cared for such things, at times it felt strange having that little message hanging there – it didn’t represent my mindset, my beliefs and ultimately it didn’t represent me. Then having spent two months doing between 3-5 hours of yoga a day in Bali, I started to learn that the most priceless thing in life is what we can teach ourselves. What was it I wanted most in life? True, two way, ever lasting love. What was I most fearful of? Never finding it. Who was responsible for this? Me.
What was I doing? I was letting my fears win, I was letting my old habits continue, I was not consciously making decisions or taking actions to support what it was I wanted most in my life. I was not making decisions or taking actions to even demonstrate love of myself, let alone for someone else to be part of my world.
How could I better love myself? It was my New Years’ Resolution to do so.
Well, let’s start with that beautiful lesson ‘The Jar of Life – Golf balls, pebbles and sand‘ and putting my golfballs in the jar first – prioritising my health, family, friends and passions.
My health. Eating properly, respecting my body, knowing what I put in, is what I get out. In my short six months of living in New Zealand I had fallen off my bicycle and broken my intestine off my stomach and am surgically re-plumbed, I struggle to retain nutrition and some foods categorically do not agree with me. Sometimes I try to be just like other people and enjoy the wonderous tasting foods and drinks around me. My body does not like that. I suffer, my sleep suffers, those around me suffer. I need to eat foods that agree with me more.
My family. My family means a lot to me, but I never used to show them how much. I decided to spend more time with them and be there for them more. Attend doctors appointments with them, help them do things they were clearly a bit scared to do alone, be there for my nephews growing up.
My friends. See my friends more – I had been travelling with work so much and working late, that I never really had time or felt alive enough to go out. When I did I was always too shattered to truly enjoy my time. I was burning the candle at both ends. I needed to find a balance.
My passions. I now loved yoga, and I found time to do yoga almost daily – even if only for 10 minutes. I also wanted to write, had done since I was about 8 years old. I started to write using the notes app on my phone. I was quite a greeny and felt like a hypocrite, so I started to make more informed decisions about the products I would buy. Now buying petro chemical, paraben free and SLS free products. My recycling continued in vain, I toiled the soil of my garden and got planting vegetables. I loved to travel, but I had been travelling to the detriment of my other golf balls – namely my health, friends and family!
I had really only ever had one big pebble which I had been putting in my jar first. That was work. I loved my job, it also meant I got to travel. I believed I had no loving relationship to come home to, so could work, could stay overseas at weekends etc. I always maintained that if I met the right person I knew I would make the necessary changes to my life to support that relationship. What I hadn’t realised was that just by having that great big pebble in my jar – I was preventing myself from having someone else attracted to my life. I was only attracting those who too had been putting the pebble in their jar first. No one wants that. I’d go as far to say that everyone wants to be the most important thing in someone else’s life. By channelling my energies into work I was being rewarded – I could see the fruits of my labour, I was sometimes verbally praised, I was reaping benefits that I didn’t get in my personal life. So of course, I gave more of myself to what made me feel good, not necessarily what I wanted to be happy.
Focusing on those expensive gifts.
The few men who had entered my life promised to be everything they promised, worshipping the ground I walked upon and me seemingly doing like wise. Yet they always fell short of following through on the delivery of their promises. I back then would look and think of our demise as their failings, but after a while you really do have to think if things are playing out in a pattern. What are the similarities? I made a wonderful friend in Bali who asked me ‘what did your exes have in common? I provided some examples… Ummm, they have brown hair and brown eyes, said they liked outdoors stuff, but didn’t really, two worked in finance, one was a farmer and one a police officer. She corrected me. No, they were all emotionally unavailable. They hadn’t moved on, now as I write I can see that they hadn’t recognised and prioritised their own golf balls in the jar of life. But at the same time, the biggest failing was; neither had I.
So, on this date in 2014, I decided to follow the quote by William James… “To change one’s life, start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.’ I know it was this date 1 September 2014, because Facebook tells me so! Anyhow, I didn’t go at it so flamboyantly, but things were immediate, just not necessarily visible to all! Little things. You need to get momentum going, to believe in yourself that it is possible. I started to challenge myself with my reaction to things, my choices, my decisions. Some tweaks to my ways were easier than others, other times I really had to dig deep and have stern words with myself – reminding myself that there are a lot of quotes etc. out there about following your heart, being good to yourself etc. Surely they weren’t all just idealism? By about this time last year I decided having dedicated the previous 18 months to helping my parents move house, that I was going to dedicate some time to me, allow me to heal and flourish. I stopped work. It took a while to overcome the guilt of not working! But I had savings and I really needed some time for me to prioritise me.
This wasn’t about changing me for other people. This was and is a continuous improvement on changing me, evolving me and all I had ever known to support what it was I wanted most in life. It’s the same with anything you really want to do isn’t it? If I want to ride a bicycle, I need to consciously make the decision to get on the bicycle and learn to ride it. Learn a new language, get a new job. Have a new skill. You train, go to classes, practice until you’ve got it. It’s the same to form new habits to rid yourself of what you always get and instead work towards what you want. Sometimes that means you need help from those closest to you, I suppose one of my biggest learnings has been to accept and ask for help from others.
I slept. Then when I started to find that I was truly able to sleep and started to feel refreshed (I still wasn’t sleeping as well as a ‘normal’ person but WOW, I was not getting daily palpitations anymore), I had a huge house clear out. My house had been feeling like a representation of my head. It was massively cluttered, from all my trips away and each time I had been Airbnb’ing my house, so all admin was collated in various bags or boxes in the loft. That clear out took a long time and a lot of effort, it was emotional. But it was essentially incomplete and has required a couple more attempts since. Let’s say it’s a work in progress!
I started to write.
I went to New Zealand and spent time with friends there and back in the UK.
I was writing on and off.
I spent time with my family, but recognised that for 18 months I had spent too much time with my parents and started to ween myself off them.
I could feel I was on the winds of change, I believed in myself, I believed in my dreams and my future.
I was choosing me. Over and above everything, I was choosing love for me and as a result, the things I had dreamed of for so long, were getting traction.
And then I met my soulmate. My heart melts now as I write this. The jar of life, the law of attraction, always choosing love, being in control of your life to support your dreams. I now had proof that this idealistic theory – works.
All you need is to believe and choose love.
Isn’t that an expensive lesson? I’d say priceless.