10 Ways To Be A Friend

image from www.ownedpix.com

image from www.ownedpix.com

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.”  ~ Douglas Pagels

 

After I posted about receiving all of the lovely letters and packages in my mail a few days ago (most in response to me being unwell), I had a number of people comment on how lucky I am to have such marvellous friends. And then someone asked me HOW I managed to have ‘those sorts of friends’…

I had to think about it for a minute, but I guess the answer is that I invest time in my friendships.  And love. In fact, the question of friendship got me thinking, and led to this list – 10 ways that you can be a friend, because to have a friend you first have to be one:

1.  Spend time together. Laugh. Cry.  Make memories.

IMG00253-20091117-0110

2.  Encourage one another, and help your friend to be the best that they can be. Be the cheer squad as they chase their dreams.

Cheering for You Card closeup

3. Be honest, but not unkind. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth, even if it hurts.  If a friend can’t tell you, who can?

Food

4.  Offer a helping hand, especially in times of trouble. Don’t wait to be asked. Do what’s in your heart. Be thoughtful and considerate.

038131-flood-clean-up

5.  Celebrate life’s good times. 

en-b60

6.  Be there in the bad times.

rbz-runciman-ghost-bike-061

7.  Stay in touch. Work through problems and keep showing up.  Good relationships take time, and need effort to be maintained.

2013-02-04 15.06.17

8.  Share.  Share your hopes, your dreams, your secrets and your fears. And keep shared confidences locked away safe in your heart. That builds trust, and trust is essential in a good friendship.

Friends Talking over Coffee

9.  Listen. Listen with your whole heart.  Sometimes all we need is someone to really hear us, and to honour what’s going on for us.

img_2144

10.  Be loyal.  Stand up for your friend and your friendship.  Support the person even if you can’t support every decision or action they make. Friendships are precious, and they deserve love and care.

friendship-quotes-graphics-16

Cups of Tea and Connection – A Challenge!

2012-02-21 10.17.44

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.”  ~ Douglas Pagels

 

Today I have a small challenge for you.  It will only take five minutes, although you’re welcome to spend longer.

My challenge goes like this:

  1. Take 5 minutes out of your busy day.
  2. Fetch yourself a delicious beverage – a cup of tea, a good coffee, a cold juice, sparkly water, a glass of wine – whatever works for you.
  3. Connect with a friend or loved one. The rules of connection are these: it can be in person, a phone call, or a letter.  (That’s right, a letter, written by hand, on paper, so that you can pop a stamp on it and send it through the post.  Email, facebooking and texting don’t count.)
  • If you’re connecting in person invite your friend along to enjoy a beverage with you.  Or use your five minutes to call them and organise a face-to-face meet up sometime soon.
Image from www.waverlycare.wordpress.com

Image from www.waverlycare.wordpress.com

  • If you’re connecting by phone (or skype!) sit somewhere with your beverage of choice, make that call and enjoy a quick catch-up.  Aim to put a smile on someone’s face. Reach out for the joy of hearing another’s voice and sharing your news.
Image from www.mikehulsebus.com

Image from www.mikehulsebus.com

  • If you’re connecting by letter, enjoy the simple act of putting pen to paper. Letters can be funny, warm, wise, newsy, deep or full of scribbled pictures and snippets of poetry.  Who doesn’t love getting a letter in their mail box?  Maybe you’ll be lucky and get one in return.  Older people and children especially seem to appreciate letters.  Lovers do too. Who can you surprise and delight with one of your letters?
Image from www.theletterwritingrevolution.blogspot.com

Image from www.theletterwritingrevolution.blogspot.com

Taking five minutes to connect with the ‘human touch’ is one of the simplest and most powerful acts you can take to maintain relationships.  It also alleviates social isolation, one of the leading causes of depression.

I hope you can find that five minutes to take up my challenge.  In fact, I dare you to make it a regular part of your life!  Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

 

Christmas as a Meditation on Kindness

Image from www.growingleaders.com

Image from www.growingleaders.com

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” 
~ Mother Teresa

Christmas is such a crazy time – as much as it can be filled with fun and family and wonder, it can be equally a time of stress, loneliness, hardship, emotional buffeting and misery.

That makes it a perfect exercise for practicing kindness.

This Christmas why not choose to see the day, or the season, as a meditation on kindness. You’ll find that not only will this have positive benefits for you and your own state of mind, the benefits of this practice will also flow out to the world around you.

How to Begin

Start by making a decision to be kind to yourself. Accept that you may have feelings of anxiety, sadness, frustration, anger or overwhelm, that you may have your buttons pushed by the people around you – especially family. Create the intention that just for these few hours you will treat yourself with kindness and compassion – that you will allow the unwanted feelings and emotions to wash over you like a momentary cloud passing through a sunny sky, rather than letting them take root and grow. Remind yourself often to come back into your heart, and live from a place of love.

Image from www.weheartit.com

Image from www.weheartit.com

How to Flow Kindness to Others

As you meet people through out the day, remember that they may be also experiencing emotions of stress, loneliness, sorrow, grief, worry, overwhelm, anxiety or despair. Smile from your heart – let kindness build a bridge of understanding between you…

In your mind, wish that person well.  Flow good feelings towards them. Keep smiling.

Sometimes you’ll end up in social situations where people’s moods or behaviours may affect your own positive emotional state.  That’s okay.  Begin by sitting in awareness of how the troubles within the other person’s mind may make them act in ways that reveal their inner turmoil and isolation. Instead of being triggered into negative emotions or behaviours yourself, have compassion for their struggle or attitude.  Let it wash over you like a cloud passing overhead on a sunny day. Disconnect from your need to engage in their drama.  Smile, offer words and acts of kindness, or quietly remove yourself from the situation and maintain your own emotional calm and balance.

Kindness-Quotes-Too-often-we-underestimate-the-power-of-a-touch-a-smile-a-kind-word-a-listening-ear-an-honest-compliment-or-the-smallest-act-of-caring

 

And if you’re game, I have a Christmas Kindness Challenge for you:

The Art of Bliss Bombing

This is a gorgeous activity, and one of my favourites. Take yourself to a public place, like a mall, coffee shop, or a bench in a park near where people are walking by.  (If you are up to it, do this at the family Christmas gathering!) Sit somewhere unobtrusive.  When someone walks past, shoot a radiant shower of golden sparks from your heart to theirs and silently bless them with love.  You can even send joy and love from your heart to trees, animals, plants, bus-loads of commuters and overhead planes.  You might  want to say to yourself, “I bless you with love.  Know joy today.”  If anyone catches your eye, just smile.

beautiful-hearts-larissa-ferreira-sky-Favim.com-209808

Feel your open heart begin to tingle with energy and joy.  In that place of energetic connection look around you at the world and you will see that it IS brighter and more beautiful because of YOU.

Today you have acted as an Earth Angel.  Your Lightwork has helped contribute to our energetic abundance.

It’s okay to let your face crack open from smiling!  Thank the Universe for this amazing experience we call life.  Expect an outpouring of feel-good emotion. ♥ Don’t be at all surprised at how the Universe will mirror your love and energetic abundance back to you as you become more and more magnetic to the flow of good and grace.

Image from www.angelsaroundusinfo.com

Image from www.angelsaroundusinfo.com

The Green-Eyed Envy Monster

Image by citris blossoms

There is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy. ~ Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Envy gets a bad rap in our society, with fair cause.  But today I want to talk about the positive aspects of envy. I believe that envy can be a great helper in your life, if you know how to tune in and use it wisely.

Image: mamadeon.wordpress.com

Think of envy as a little green monster that sits on your shoulder, a friendly monster who knows you well, watching and observing as you go through life.

When he sees something that you want (whether you recognise that fact or not), he digs his claws into your shoulder, causing you a sting of discomfort.

If it’s something that’s actually quite important to you, the green-eyed monster’s fat, heavy tail may also slap you on the side of the head, to make sure you’re paying attention.

Ouch!

And then a little flag goes up in the perimeter of your conscious awareness, to mark that space for you. It will make you feel uncomfortable, restless, cranky, perhaps even a bit pouty. It can also make you feel inadequate, guilty, insecure, or ‘not enough’.

Image from performanceobjectivesnow.com

But be brave.  Move past those reactive feelings. They are only there to get your attention.  Now he’s got it, tune in to the envy monster’s message.

He’ll whisper in your ear, “look… look… the boots she’s wearing… the job he’s doing… how fit she is… the review for his book… their holiday house in France… the freedom they enjoy… those friends having dinner together… did you see that?  did you feel that? We could do that.  We could have that.  We could be that.”

And you’ll know it’s true.  Maybe it’s not enough to be a clerical assistant any more – maybe you should go back to night school. Maybe you need to lose a few pounds, update your wardrobe, go on a holiday, dust off that half-finished manuscript and have another crack at it, start dating or end a go-nowhere relationship…

There is a seed of self-awareness in envy, and if you plant that seed in a barren part of your life, water it, nurture it, and help it grow, it will one day bear sweet fruit.

Image from beautifullyaddicted.com

And then the green-eyed envy monster will have a nice long, well-deserved nap, because you won’t need him any more.

♥ You deserve to shine.

♥ You deserve to follow your dreams.

♥ You deserve to be happy and well loved.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Image from blog.zoosk.com

Get yourself an ugly journal…

I have a special journalling quest for you today.  Are you up to the challenge?

Get yourself an ugly journal. A cheap one. One you can never feel fond of.

Trust me, you do not want to get a pretty journal for what we are about to do…

Today we are going to create a ‘Sh*t Book’, a ‘Poo Book’, a Craptastic Account of all that is truly suckful, petty and awful in our lives.

We are going to make a journal that will act like a giant word-thought-and-emotion toilet: a dumping ground for all the toxic waste that we need to get out, in order to start feeling better.

I love journalling. And most of what I write is positive, creative and exploratory. It’s the sort of writing I actually want to go back and read over when I’m done. (See examples of how to do that here!)  Even years later I can go back to those finished books and take inspiration and guidance from their pages.  Rainbows, butterflies, and all that wonderful stuff that dreams are made of…

But sometimes… you know how it is.  Life makes you mad.  You wake up with a great knot of pain or resentment or frustration. Or you get that mean pettiness, where everything is going to come out as a whine or a complaint.

Image by Inglgs at photobucket.com

That sort of thinking is no good to anyone. It’s like garbage. It just needs to be dumped before it pollutes the rest of you and spills over into your day.

Sometimes the toxic waste in your mind pollutes what would otherwise be a charming place to be – Photograph by Peter Cade, Getty Images

But we don’t want to go dumping that stinking thinking in the middle of our rainbows and butterflies! We need to dump responsibly.

That’s why we are going to create a special book just for rubbish thinking. We can happily write away in our ‘Sh*t Book’, recording every last detail of the sheer crappiness and horror, the drudgery and outrage, the blow by blow accounts of the things that depress us, upset us, tick us off, push us into ugliness.

You can even paint, sketch, collage and otherwise create. The thing that matters is finding a way to express the pain, hurt or other negativity within you.

Journal Activity:

Find your ugly journal. You can even make an ugly cover for it if you want. Use all those awful toilet colours – browns and blacks and nasty greens. Make it a worthy dumping ground for your terrible thoughts.

Then use any of the following prompts to get you started. Don’t worry about sentence construction, spelling or even what you say.  This is a dump, remember? So just follow the prompts and let it flow. Mind you, if you’ve already in that cranky space you might not need any prompting at all to get it off your chest…

  • I couldn’t be more angry about…
  • It is totally miserable that…
  • I can’t believe that he/she could…
  • The feeling eating a hole in me right now is because of…
  • If I’d had my way I would have told __________ that…
  • It’s Dumb! It’s so dumb that…
  • I hate…
  • Just the thought of ________ right now makes me…
  • Grrrrrr! The thing about all of this is that….
  • Hey! Let me tell you what I REALLY think…
  • I have never felt more __________  since…
  • It’s just not fair that…
  • I could scream right now because…
  • All I want to do is cry. I’m at the end of my rope and…
  • Here is a list of EVERYTHING that is pissing me off right now…
  • This is totally (insert favourite expletive or explanatory term). I had wanted to…
  • And yet again, cue drumroll, I am…
  • I feel like I’m never going to be able to…
  • It’s the same old thing –

There is only one rule with your ‘Sh*t Book’.  Don’t read back over it, and don’t share it with anyone. Ever. No-one can play in toxic wastegrounds safely.  You just get in, dump and get back out of there again as fast as you can.

You can choose to handle your ‘Sh*t Book’ in one of two ways. At the end of each writing session, rip out the used pages and burn them, shred them or in other happy ways destroy them. OR wait until you have filled the entire book and then destroy it.  Bury, burn, slash, mutilate, flush, dump, explode… Whatever works for you. You may also like the symbolism of binding your book with a cord or big bulldog clips to help keep everything safe until you can dispose of it responsibly.

This Photo courtesy of http://www.bradleygauthier.com

Art Journal Techniques:

Sometimes it’s easier to draw or paint, to rip and glue rather than to risk words.  Sometimes when you can’t even find the words, art can help you make a new language for healing.

I love this next clip! I was looking for something to explain art journalling to you, and this started out so well, because it’s about making messy art – ugly art even. Perfect for your ‘Sh*t Book’!

But you know how the Universe works.  There is something redemptive about clearing out the trash.  It always makes room for something new and brighter.

I was laughing by the end of this youtube how-to, because after the ugly start, she ended up painting…

Yep, you guessed it…

rainbows and butterflies…

Sending you lots and lots of love for the journey. Enjoy that ugly journal! ♥♥♥ xx