Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Growing Old is the New Staying Young

Growing old having fun
Growing old? Bring it on! 
Last night I was totally inspired by Fabulous Fashionistas, a Channel 4 documentary about a group of six women with the average age of 80, who refuse to blend in after a certain age.

The programme highlighted that ageing is an attitude; there is no need to give up on life, work, love, fashion and excitement regardless of how old you are.

Anything is possible, even if you are officially classed a pensioner.

The least you can do is enjoying a ticket to ride in a flamboyant outfit with your well earned free bus pass!

We don't have to be rich, and health problems will crop up too, but we can all strive to enjoy life and be as unconventional as we want to be.

The programme couldn't have been shown at a better time for me, as I'm slowly approaching my 50th birthday - eek! Only a few months to go!

Deep down I have always known that I will never morph into a little old lady with permed hair wearing beige clothes and becoming invisible.

I've always hated beige and that mousy grey....50 shades of grey??? 

Hell no! 

Give me 1000 shades of purple, red, green and blue with a dash of gothic black!

It's not about looking younger - it's about having fun and expressing personality and vibrancy.

It's about thinking and feeling young, which makes a person naturally attractive (no facelift required!).

And I will embrace my wrinkles and white hair. I won't torture my body with botox and plastic surgery only to live up to the media's ideal of forever-looking-young beauty.

Beauty is present at any age.

"I was writing cookery books for decades, and one day I decided to become a weird artist." Sue Kreitzman, 73

Older women are beautifully captured
 in the images of the Gaian Tarot
© Joanna Powell Colbert
I also know that I will work until I drop dead. And even though I love what I'm doing right now, I can see myself doing something completely different, if I'm lucky and blessed enough to reach my 60s and 70s.

And yes, I will always strive to keep fit and work my body, something I have been doing all my life and will continue until I can no longer move.

"The moment you start letting yourself go is the moment when you are old." Lady Trumpington, 91

The women featured in the programme didn't have a charmed life. They have all suffered bereavement, loosing their beloved husbands, and one even lost her son.

But that didn't stop these ladies embracing life despite their painful experiences.

Yes, ageing is a mindset. We need more great role models like these, showing that life is for living, and we can be fabulous at every stage of our journey on this planet.

Warmest wishes,

Christiane


PS: Have you noticed that in many Tarot and Oracle decks women are depicted as young and pretty, whereas men are allowed to look older? 

Do you own a deck that depicts older women as attractive, strong and graceful, rather than ugly and frail? Please do let me know ;)



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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Recognising a Toxic Relationship

Eight of Swords
You are in love, but all is not as it seems. Cracks begin to appear, but you are trying to ignore them, because mostly you're getting on well together.

Yet deep down you are anxiously waiting for Jekyll to turn into Hyde yet again, giving you days, sometimes even weeks of misery. When will it be? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month?

It's not easy to recognise a toxic relationship. It all starts very subtly, and the severity increases over time:
  • little tiffs become more common and start to intensify
  • sarcastic and cutting comments and remarks, e.g. changing from "you are so beautiful" to "you're getting fat"
  • no clear communication; avoiding to talk about issues
  • accusations, e.g. your tentative request to spend more time together is turned against you as " being controlling"
  • avoidance or refusal to show affection or be intimate (you may be accused of being demanding or selfish)
  • lack of trust and increased jealousy; again, you may be accused of being a liar, selfish and a manipulator (all based on paranoid assumptions and their own weaknesses)

Remember, a healthy relationship should make you feel nurtured, nourished, appreciated, valued, respected, loved and cherished.

But when it's slowly turning into a trap of negativity, it will make you feel low, depressed, sad, angry, fearful, lost, unhappy, unsupported, alone, losing self-worth and confidence, tired... pulling you slowly into a pit of doom.

When a relationship gets you down this way, then trust me, you need to get out, because you cannot change it.

But of course, it's not always easy to leave a relationship from one day to the next. Most likely you still love that person and hope things will change for the better. But believe me, there will be no change, because the person's personality traits, behaviour and habits are so deeply ingrained, they may even be unaware of it.

Even if they do realise, they find it almost impossible to make positive changes. At best, it will be constant hard work, not just for them but for you, too. In fact, mostly for you, because they actually don't care much, or just haven't got the energy to make the effort.

You'll be stuck in a loveless relationship that will make you feel as lonely as the sole survivor of a global disaster. Before that happens, you will need to learn that it is much better to be alone than trapped in a bad relationship, and overcome your fear of loneliness.

If you suspect to be in a toxic relationship, here are some tell-tale signs, some or many of which will apply:
  • they have had numerous previous relationships; some of which only lasted for a few weeks, others were just one-night stands, casual or friends with benefits
  • they like to blame others 
  • they are highly opinionated
  • they find easily fault with you, and they like to point out any weaknesses you have
  • they like to hog your attention
  • they keep discussing their problems with you, but in return cannot relate to you when you need to talk to them about yours
  • they lack empathy and are emotionally limited; don't expect them to love you unconditionally
  • they are selfish, always concerned with themselves and their own feelings, not yours
  • they like to project their own weaknesses on to you, e.g. when confronted about their increasing level of withdrawal from you, they accuse you in return of the same - very frustrating!
  • if you don't do things their way, they become cold, withholding or even punishing (they will do something they know will annoy or even hurt you)
  • they always complain about how others treat them; it seems like the whole world is against them
  • they always want to have the upper hand, the last word, power and control
  • they tend to talk constantly, and you can't get a word in edgeways; you find yourself having to rudely interrupt to turn their monologue into a two-way conversation
  • if you challenge them, they are highly defensive and refuse to talk further, giving you the silent treatment
  • they are self-absorbed, e.g. they can be surfing the net for hours or playing games on their phone completely ignoring you
  • they don't have any genuine friends, just acquaintances or associates
  • they aren't that sociable either
  • they had an unhappy childhood, or where brought up in a dysfunctional family with little guidance and inadequate role models
  • you feel like you're putting a lot of effort into the relationship with very little return
  • eventually they will blame you for the break-up of the relationship

Living with a person like this can drain the life out of you; it's not surprising that they are also known as emotional vampires.

If you happen to be involved with such a person, you may hesitate to end the relationship, because you still have hope that it can work out.

My tip: It is best to end the relationship, when you know you have tried everything, and you can do no more, so you may still have some work to do before you are ready to detach yourself.

What you can try before you let go:

  • Set clear boundaries what is and what isn't acceptable. By all means be tolerant of minor issues, but being ignored for days or cheated on as a punishment demands zero tolerance. 
  • Communicate your boundaries clearly and don't be afraid to speak out
  • Stand your ground. If you keep holding back, it is likely out of fear, perhaps from another cutting remark or accusation. You might avoid a nasty argument, but in the long-term that doesn't make you feel better or help your relationship. Facing a confrontation will help you express your feelings and also realise where you stand. It will help you make a decision about the relationship.
  • Set a time limit for when you know you need to call it a day. A deadline (pardon the pun ;)) often helps to stay focused rather than drifting in the status quo indefinitely. At least you can take stock and revise it, if you need more time. 
  • Practice self-care to stay confident and positive. Nothing can knock your self-esteem and self-worth as much as a toxic relationship. It's so easy to fall into the trap of feeling worthless, ugly, unlovable, demeaned and put down. Avoid binging on food (especially carbs) and succumbing to your depressive mood. Instead, exercise regularly, go for massages, wear nice clothes, and don't forget to seek out the presence of positive people, especially family and friends, who support you.

It's still painful to make that break, but by giving it at least a good try, you are unlikely to look back wondering if you have made a rash decision. Actually, chances are high, you were very patient. Some people are stuck in this kind of relationship for many years.

It may take you several attempts to break out. Perhaps you will be lured back with seeming regret and promises of change only to find that good intentions were only short-lived. You may even experience some happy time for a number of weeks or even months before the Jekyll/Hyde scenario repeats itself.

Keep reminding yourself of the kind of relationship you truly want and deserve, and one day you will no longer be fooled.

Getting out of a toxic relationship
Take your time, dearest, until you are ready. Be always kind to yourself while you are trying to get out, even when you feel crappy afterwards thinking what the hell took you so long to leave.

Don't ever blame yourself; all you did was love that person with all your heart, and you wanted it to work out. That is not a weakness.

And it's not entirely the other person's fault either. Make peace quickly; forgive them. They have their reasons why they are the way they are, and they have their own crosses to bear. Avoid lasting resentment and bitterness.

And when you are ready to meet someone new, don't close your heart based on your experience.

Keep your faith that there are many kind and loving people out there, who you can be happy with.

Warmest wishes,

Christiane


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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How to Make New Friends as an Introvert

Three of Cups
Tarot of Quotes
Answer: Go to places, where like-minded folk hang out.

You know it's easier to make conversation and connect with people, who share the same interests and are more or less on the same wavelength as you.

This year, due to circumstances, I had to go on a holiday on my own - eek!

At first I was at a loss and googled "holiday for singles", but I quickly dismissed that idea after realising the options available where pretty lame, and I'd take a risk ending up with bad company.

And then I had the idea to go on a spiritual retreat and found a Buddhist retreat centre in Shropshire. The solution to my problem!

I'm an introvert. I hate noise, party animals, too much booze, flashing lights, shallow conversations...

Having booked myself on the week long women-only retreat, I knew I could let my hair down, forget the make-up and not have to wear a bra.

And I was looking forward to more stimulating conversations, too, without worrying about people's reaction when I disclosed that I was a Tarot Reader.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. What have I learned from it?

  • You can go on holiday on your own, but you won't be alone when going on retreat
  • Be open-minded about community living. Sharing a room with three other ladies may seem risky to some, but I had the most loveliest room mates.
  • Nurturing and sustaining spiritual friendships is important to overcome times of isolation and is helping you grow.
  • There never was a moment when I missed TV or the internet. It was so refreshing to be away from it all completely. If World War III had broken out, I wouldn't have known. There was no radio either.
  • Going on retreat doesn't mean you do nothing for a week. I was busy meditating for hours each day, doing Tai Chi and Qigong, going for walks in the surrounding beautiful countryside and helping in the kitchen for an hour every day.
  • Vegan food is delicious! A strict vegan diet for a week made me lose 4 lbs. As soon as I got back home though, I needed to have a ham sandwich with a boiled egg.
  • Buddhism is a gentle and inspirational spiritual path. I learned to practice the Metta Bhavana (loving kindness) in meditation and had an interesting déjà vu when we talked about the Path of Individuality (very similar to the Fool's Journey in Tarot).
  • Silence can be nourishing and promotes mindfulness. Rather than constantly yapping away and being exposed to all kinds of noise, hours and even days of imposed silence created a whole new level of calmness and relaxation. For an introvert like me, there was no need to make conversation. And strangely, we all started to develop a different and more subtle way to communicate. 
  • I'm not really into rituals, but I enjoyed the chanting walking meditations, the "letting-go" fire ritual one evening, and the "planting a new seed" ritual the following day.
  • For the first time I have experienced women as a loving healing collective rather than backstabbing hormonal b*tches. My faith in women-only groups (with the right attitude and in the right setting) has been restored. 
  • It takes a few days to get back to reality once you return home.
  • A retreat is a bit like therapy and it can be a life-changing experience.
  • It's fantastic to stay in touch with the lovely women I've met and hopefully will meet again in the future.
Here I am, back in my world and getting on with work, home, family and social life. But something has changed. It all feels a bit different now. The retreat has been a kind of journey, and I feel all the richer for it. 

Warmest wishes,

Christiane 



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