It’s time to FOCUS on August!

“Oh July August. What’s happened to you? You used to be so bright and have such a warmth about you. Now you’re miserable, keeping me in the dark, trying to dampen my spirits. I understand that change is good – but come on!”

This has been my conversation on most days when I leave my house burdened with a coat and umbrella. Hey, what can I say? I’m English, we love to moan about the weather.

Once I’m satisfied that I have given the weather we are currently having in England enough air time, my thoughts move onto what I’m going to focus on in August.

The words Generosity and Space rained down on me (excuse the pun), making me look at ways I could incorporate them into my goals for the month.

I would say that I’m a fairly generous person. I donate to three charities a month, always tips, give my spare change to buskers and the homeless, love to gift friends and spend a lot of my free time visiting family/friends. So I was quite surprised that generosity was a strong contender. Until I looked deeper. As all of these things are second nature to me, they don’t push me forward to be more vulnerable.

How could I make being generous bring me out of my comfort zone and in turn give me valuable life lessons?

An email provided one of the answers. I was going to spend a full week volunteering at the youth centre I usually volunteer for 3hrs a week at. I wanted vulnerable and I got more than I bargained for – so much more!!

My volunteering uniform for the week!

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I am a ‘people pleaser’ and I ‘like to be liked‘. Well not this week……I became Miss Moany Pants. Constantly telling the young people off, asking them to respect the guys running the session and each other. Most of the time I opened my mouth it was to tell them to be quiet or to watch their words. I was a different me, it was tiring and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Looking back. After I had a large drink. Or two! And some time away from them. Away from my constant nagging. I realised that it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. What the theatre company and the young people put together in a week was wonderful.

I stepped away from my normal self and by becoming vulnerable, I developed more in character. I discovered things about me that I didn’t know before. I threw aside my shyness battles to be able to support the young people with their insecurities. I got through the days without raising my voice, I didn’t let grudges grow or use passive aggressive means to protect myself. I used my skills to highlight their strengths – of which they had plenty. It really was a money can’t buy experience.

I already respected teachers, youth and social workers but WOW – I commend any one who spends so much of their time working with young people.

Another way I looked at being generous was with dating. To be generous with my choices and to not be ruled by physical attraction.

Last week I had a long overdue catch up with one of my best-friends from childhood. Of course the conversation turned to dating. And my lack of it.

She told me how she used to go for what she perceived to be her ‘type’ and how it would lead to nothing but heartache. Until one day her friend told her to cast her net wider, give other guys a chance. Taking those words on board she met someone who wasn’t her ‘type’ on paper. Almost three years later she is happier than she’s ever been.

I love and respect this friend so when she suggested I try OKCupid, as a few of her good friends had met their long time partners on there. It wasn’t long until I downloaded the app. Taking the time to thoroughly complete the profile and answer as many of the questions that didn’t make me cringe or shudder! Yes, I do have a blog that’s about being open and vulnerable. No I don’t want to answer questions about sexual positions and fantasies.

6 days in and I’ve had 635 likes and 52 messages! So my ego has been dancing around, feeling flattered that so many guys have liked me. I in return have responded to two messages. TWO! Online dating is so time consuming and in my defence I’ve been silly busy the past week, hence not blogging for sometime. I also don’t like to lead people on, in the past I’ve responded saying ‘thank you, but you’re not my type’ which then led to more messages, stealing more time. Still – I can’t help feeling bad and maybe I will respond to them all.

In all honesty I’m also still struggling with giving someone a chance online that I’m not attracted to. I don’t view myself as a shallow person – maybe I am? BUT meeting someone in person is different. You get to know them, see their quirks. Just like my friend did.

I’m not giving up just yet. I deserve to be generous to myself and to others. So baby steps. I’m going to take time to read some profiles and respond to the ones that make me smile regardless of the profile picture that occupies it. Wish me luck.

So I don’t take up too much space in this post (oh yeah the puns keep on coming). I’m going to post about my other focus in another blog post, later this week.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

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Reflection – July Challenges

Heads-up………this is a long, grab a cuppa, type of post! [6min read]

Everyone who knows me knows that I really like to challenge myself. What they may not know is that it’s not because I like pushing myself to the point of nausea or that I like acting to extreme measures.

I challenge myself because I want to change. There are parts of me that I want to bury and replace with something new.

I challenge myself as I believe it will bring exciting adventures, a happier me, a huge growth spurt and in the past a better me.

So last month I didn’t set myself just the one challenge. Oh no – that would be too easy, too simple. This ‘over estimator’ set 10 challenges! 10!

Continue reading “Reflection – July Challenges”

An invitation to be Imperfectly Perfect

It’s only recently that I’ve realised that there was a perfectionist lurking inside of me. 

I still have doubts that it’s perfectionism. The irony of this is I have spent the past 30mins trying to write one sentence. Anchoring on to one word, not allowing myself to move on until it is………..perfect!

It’s debilitating.

Looking back, I can highlight many an opportunity I didn’t take which I could put down to being a perfectionist. I rarely put myself forward or start something new – for fear of not being good enough. 

I initially thought that this was a fear of criticism or rejection. As putting myself out there leaves me an easy target to be judged. Plus, I have a high expectation of the way things should be – especially me.

Perfect!

Perfectionism stalls creativity and as I’ve chosen to embark on a path where writing is my main focus, I can’t continue my relationship with this dangerous illusion. I’m ready to stop:

  • Berating myself at the end of each day due to not working to my full potential
  • Taking hours to write and rewrite my blog, editing commas and changing the structure
  • Storing ideas in my mind as ‘there’s no point starting them as they won’t be perfect’

It is tiresome.

I had recently come across the act of Wab-Sabi, which is a Japanese tradition of accepting imperfections. I loved the sound of this and promised to find out more about the lifestyle. Only I didn’t. I continued to fret, to stall, to compare and to live unrealistically.

That was until I received an invitation to be imperfectly perfect. Not once but twice this week!

The Youth Centre

I look down at the paper and ……..nothing! Looking to others for nature inspiration was a mistake. Seeing their pencils barely leave the page – leaves, trees, foliage! I felt so inadequate that I took to having a silent conversation with myself.

What do leaves look like? How do I draw a flower?’ 

My mind was as blank as the paper in front of me. *note to self. When struggling to meditate remember this moment. 

I  pushed myself and drew the most basic looking leaf I could think of, then a simple flower. As my confidence started to peep through I started to experiment, which left a mess on my paper and me looking for an eraser. Could I tell the art teacher that a child had sneaked in when she left the room and doodled on my paper?

That’s a really interesting shape – you should use that” proclaimed the teacher, throwing me out of my ridiculous plotting.

I was alarmed that she was pointing at the childlike scrawl I had tried to hide. I was further alarmed that my two simple ‘perfect’ pictures were cascaded aside, allowing space for the drawings I had been embarrassed by.

I loved the screen print that we’d created. I took the photo as a reminder that imperfections can be be a work of art, depending on who is looking at it.

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The Writer’s Workshop

“I want you all to write whatever comes into your head. It doesn’t have to make sense, don’t think about it just write. I’m going to put five minutes on the timer. Go!”

Aaah just writing words, not thinking about the structure, where a full stop should go. This was hard. I started writing, focusing on objects in my vicinity which made me realise I was playing small – safe. I finally let my pen take over, only stopping when the alarm rang out.

The next instruction was to highlight five of the words. I chose words I wouldn’t normally use, unaware of what we were going to be doing with them:

Primate, Moonshine, Chiselled, Harboured, Density

“Write a poem using your selected five words.”

The rules: Three words per line. One of your chosen words in each line. Five minutes.

I really enjoyed this process. It was the quickest poem I had ever written. It didn’t mean anything but it made perfect sense as I read it out to the rest of the group. I was proud with my imperfectly perfect poem.

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After the lessons this week, I feel more confident to just get out there and do it. 

Picasso was estimated to have produced 50,000 pieces of artwork in his lifetime! 50,000! There must have been a massive percentage which he thought were below par but yet he still produced.

I’m going to be my own Picasso – who knows what may come of it?

Have you got examples of how you tackle perfectionism?

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

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