Banishing the Christmas Gremlin

christmas-goblin

I have a gremlin… And he is both constant and transient.  The constant is that I have named him Martrucio and transiently, he takes different forms at different times.  He can be just like a mangy dog, tagging at my heels and tripping me over.  Sometimes he is a dark cloud floating above my head, obfuscating my positive view of the world with his heavy rainy presence.  He manifests in many ways, not least inhabiting my head when I’m vulnerably tired or laid low by life in some way.

Regardless of his form, he is most definitely dogging me, this gremlin of mine. He is having so much evil fun, chipping and smashing and dashing my planned Christmas happiness into multifarious sharp shards of sadness.

What can I tell you – at this time I feel exhausted, and in this state he finds me a particularly easy target. He trips me up; makes me drop and break things; muzzles my memory and somehow, shortens my tolerance and temper.

He gets me this gremlin – he knows that I like to plan and organise and make my Christmas as easy and as stress free as possible. But he is always determined to find a chink in my organised armour and seek to turn it into a long, vicious crack

As usual I’ve planned my Christmas through from start to finish and I know that this includes working around my gremlin.  I know of old, that Gremlins love Christmas – they feed gluttonously off the combined combustible stress of the crescendo to Christmas Day.  Yes, they like nothing better than to shorten tempers and lengthen impatience – it makes them laugh loudly and dance with undisguised glee.

So working up to Christmas I am tired and feeling under the yuletide weather.  My body has had enough of the dark winter and intermittent wassailing.  It’s rebelling – it rejects and reacts to nearly every meal I eat.  I cut back and add in natural nutrients, fruit, vege and supplements, but still this moon maiden swells and doubles up in gastric discomfort.  It’s hardly fair, but such is (my) life and I just have to keep taking care of myself until it passes. I am sure that this too shall most definitely pass.

So I may be tired and even testy, but I’m aware of it and I work with it and make sure I rest and plan – so true to form I have a gorgeous text book time mapped out this coming Christmas tide. I have places to go and friends to hug. Even my tiredness can bear all this activity, if it’s about socialising and fun.

But gremlins don’t relish this and so they gang together to coerce and spoil our best laid plans…

I had it all worked out, months ago. I arranged to meet my two best friends on the Saturday before Christmas. A restaurant table was booked and also tickets bought to go carol singing at a local stately home. The perfect Hallmark girlie Christmas outing…

Well when the day finally dawned, the gremlins I have to say, had gone all out to put the kibosh on our precious night out. I awoke to find my phone riddled with messages: One friend’s mother had had a near fatal stroke and the other’s daughter was very sick and needed to go to hospital too.

“Well we won’t be carol singing tonight then…” I thought.  I know these two gorgeous girlfriends of mine from old and they would of course be worried and needing to take care of their kin.

So I got out of my tired bed and I checked in on each of them – there was nothing I could do to support them at that moment. But then I was left alone with my gremlin.  And in hindsight, I realise that I actually sought his company out.  And sure enough, he soon started to sing to me – not carols, but dirges of woe:

“So you’re alone at Christmas then. No support. No attention. No children. No one’s priority. Parents gone.  No one to care for and no one to care for you…”

I felt sad. My expectations for the perfect Hallmark Christmas experience had disintegrated into ashes, in a matter of mere minutes. Instead of sisterly sharing, I was now solo.

So I wallowed in the murky mud that Martrucio threw at me. It was sticky and dark mud – hard to see through and even harder to wash off.

Yet the Christmas spirit was still inside of me and I changed my gremlin-ated mind and determined to push him aside… My brain ticked over… I wondered if I could share my planned Hallmark experience with someone else.  Yet all of the ‘someone else’s’ in my life were busy on a Saturday so close to Christmas.  Well fair enough – I hadn’t really pinned my hopes on that option any way.

So – what next? “How can this situation be turned on its’ head?” I wondered.

So then it came to me – I would pay my Christmas experience forward…

Quickly I went onto Facebook and with about 3 hours to go, made the following post:

“I have 3 tickets for carol singing at Warwick Castle to give away for the first taker. My free Christmas gift to whoever would enjoy them! Message me if you would like them and are able to collect…”

Very quickly there was a handful of people posting their interest. I just wanted the tickets to be on their way, so as far as I was concerned – fate and the principle of ‘first come, first served’ would decide who they went to.

A little while later there was a knock at my front door.  I grabbed the tickets and opened the door to a bright young woman with a radiant smile. “A very Happy Christmas to you” I said and handed the tickets over. “And to you too,” she said, handing me back a bottle of mulled wine in a festive Christmas bag, “and thank you so much!” As it turned out, she was newly married and she and her husband were now going to have a festive night out – it would be their first Christmas together.

When she left, I looked at her Facebook timeline, which was filled with wedding pictures of a young, smiling and radiant couple.

My sadness had suddenly been replaced by a smile.  I’d done it – I now felt that some good had come out of this strangest of doubly disastrous days.

Instead of warbling carols, my evening was then spent industriously getting the steal on my Christmas preparations, as I sat and wrapped a myriad of presents, accompanied by soppy Christmas films, blaring away in the background.

I checked on my friends again. All was as well as it could be for them. There I was in my own, but giving thanks for my health and happiness – all wrapped up in my wrapping and having a truly festive time.

And as for my gremlin – Martrucio… well – he was nowhere to be seen…

Merry Christmas to me then!

And, dear reader, may your gremlins be banished and your Christmas fill you with love, laughter and light this year…

With warmest wishes,
Sandie
Sandra Peachey: Blogger and Banisher of Gremlins

If you want to get in touch, you can contact me by clicking here…

I’m also variously known as:
* The Director of LifeWork Consultancy & Coaching;
* The Author of Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life and Co-Author of The F-FactorThe perfect Christmas gift – you can buy them both on Amazon (in paperback or Kindle) by clicking on the hyperlinks above or else on most bookseller websites around the globe. Your local bookshop may even sell them, or you can ask them nicely to order them in and stock them high;
* A 2015 International Book Awards Finalist, in the Women’s Issues Category;
* The Winner of a Women Inspiring Women Award in 2013;
* As being shortlisted for Women’s Coach in the APCTC Awards 2014, also nominated in 2012 & 2013; and
* Being nominated for a Networking Mummies National Recognition Award in 2015.

Love Letter to Time Travelers

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 4 of 29

This latest blog is one of my more traditional Peachey Letters posts, where I analyse aspects of my life and muse them through to a decision, resolution, celebration, or all of the above.  Some are funny / trivial and some are quite dark and personal. 

As a coach that supports others to remove blockages and reach their goals (in all senses, from emotional to transactional), I have to start with supporting myself; so my Peachey Letters are a therapy that helps me to work through the ‘knots’ of my life and unravel the emotions and thought processes underneath them and then to weave them back into a satisfactory cloth of conclusion. 

The writing of them is both an exercise in ego and self- love, and the sharing of them lets others know they’re not alone, gives them something to think about, along with a whole host of other positive spin- offs beyond my ego that I never anticipated when I started writing them four years ago, including the publication of my first book – Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life.

The real point of my Peachey Letters, though, is to see how Love permeates every aspect of my life. This is Love in every sense of the word (an incredibly all-encompassing phenomenon that reaches far beyond simple romantic connotations) as a force of light, as positive energy, and in its many manifestations and methods; motivating me and those around me, somehow, in every way, shape and form. 

time

Love Letter to Time Travelers

Dearest Friends

I’ve been musing on the concept of The Present for a while, as various aspects of my life in these last few months have been sliding and shifting, as perspectives and people around me are changing.

This has turned me into a time traveller as I’ve been reflecting on the past, whilst simultaneously imagining various, and synthesised futures.

In my head I often browse the time space continuum – somehow I can never completely disconnect myself from the past that has shaped me and led me to where (and who) I am now.  When it comes to where I find myself today, I’ve decided to be good with my choices, and to practice forgiveness – always with others and especially for myself.

Sometimes these thoughts of what was and what will be, just keep running round and round my head.  It was most definitely time to stop the Time Machine and get out.  In other words, to get it all out of my head.

As a coach, I bring many things to the table, but one of them is not being a got together guru… I started my self-development for myself, to heal and be happier.  Very quickly into my learning I had the epiphany that the skills and strategies I was learning and the insights I gained, would also be an amazing gift to give to others.  As a woman – I’m ordinary, brilliant, empathetic, insightful and silly (and many more things besides), in turn.  I’ve been there, done that and worn many tee shirts, of many different sizes and colours. So when I coach others, I’m truly in my gift, understanding the patterns and complexities of life. This in turn means that I am present for and focussed on those I support, in guiding them to healing, reconciliation, achievement and greater emotional health.

As the LifeWork Coach – as well as giving coaching, I believe it is healthy and necessary to receive it too. So on my most recent visit to my own Life coach, I had a very specific request – I wanted to air and then jettison all the heavy reflections on my recent past.  I likened it a rocket – being propelled by the large and heavy fuel pack, but jettisoning all that heavy machinery for the ascent to its final destination to the stars.

So my coach held the space for me and listened. We laughed and cried together.  We ruminated and reflected.  And this was just what I needed so I could return to The Present – fully present; and not just walking, running or crawling to the next transaction, destination or distraction…

Then of course, as a seasoned time traveller – woven in between the past and the present, I inevitably contemplate the future. Depending on mood and circumstance – my many futures can be either dark or rosy tinted.

It’s natural to plan and to look forward, but when I do this with the negative weight of the past, the future inevitably seems black.  To bring this back into balance I then remind my recalcitrant mind what I have to be grateful for along with the positive past – i.e. what has worked well for me, and then I can constructively contemplate what new things I now choose to explore.

So as a time traveller I can easily find myself concentrating on my past and concurrently future pacing, meaning that somehow I then find myself stuck between these two time zones.

It’s a contradiction of coaching that although I will spend time assessing the past and planning for the future, I frequently have to remind both my clients and myself, that neither of these actually exists.

The past is a memory. The future is a projection.  The past and the future are not real, because they are not now.  The present – this precise moment in consciousness – is our only true reality. This is all completely logical, but still we find ourselves focussed on our divergent past and future lives.  How could we not?  We have memories and we have the capacity to make plans.

When it comes to describing and labelling such temporal phenomena, a definition often used is that a negative focus on the past is Depression, and an unhealthy interpretation of the future is Anxiety. In the context of the support that I provide, I believe that these offer a really valuable explanation of the definitions, but I prefer to use them concepts to elucidate, rather to label.  I am absolutely not decrying all the people in the world who live with these as conditions (not as labels) and are treated for them in variety of ways, including through the conventional health system.

This isn’t my area of expertise or the types of people I tend to work with, but it appears, to a greater or lesser degree to be a universal experience. During my time as a coach it seems that either of these labels could have been applied to most people at some point in their lives.  Often therefore, part of my role as a coach is to guide people to reinterpret their past, deal with what comes up and then learn from or simply accept it.

Often in coaching sessions I will be told ‘stories’ about the future along the lines of ‘this will happen, that could happen, what if, then, etc, etc’.  Indeed, when it comes to such future projections, I often have to remind clients that the future doesn’t actually exist.  What they are telling me are in fact, stories.  This is of course, an issue of degree – frequently we do have a notion of how things could pan out, but we often we have the power to change this or to disregard the story telling / negative connotations so that we then have more power to manage any resulting fears .

But I digress, and this is the power that time travelling through the past and the future can exert – they distract us from where we really are, right now, in the present. But if we are aware of this, we realise it is a power that we have (unconsciously) allowed and so with that realisation, we can take the power back and focus it on the here and now.

The trouble is that the here and now is often – troublesome, ordinary, boring or painful, just as the past could have been and the future may be.  We live through a whole range of positive and negative experiences, so would we really want to actually live in the now, when the now we are experiencing is not what we actually want?

To live fully and freely in the present, starts with a decision to do so. A decision that we are prepared to let go of whatever the past or the future held / hold for us.  This is also a decision to concentrate of making the most of what we have now, right in front of us.  My favourite practise to get me into this ‘present’ state of mind, is to think of all the things that I am grateful in my life – be it from getting out of bed that day, to the other trivial and momentous things that have gone well, along with the people I’m grateful for, the opportunities, the lessons and so on.

The next decision is to choose to let go of the past and the future. The past has passed, and the future will take care of itself.  Naturally there are times when we should plan ahead, but we can’t do this all of the time.  I therefore teach my clients various techniques around ‘letting go’ and these are some of the most simple yet powerful tools we can employ to live fully in the now.

The next step is a concept which is, I’m glad to say, becoming more common currency and less hippy and that is the practise of mindfulness. This is essentially being in ‘the now’ by focusing your awareness on the present moment, whilst calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations – usually centred on your breathing.

All of us are different and so I work with my clients to create bespoke solutions for their individual requirements. There is a wealth of resources about mindfulness, so you can research what will work best for you, but the fundamental starting practice is just to be still for just a minute and breathe

Give yourself the gift of 60 seconds to just focus on your breath. Breathe in slowing and deeply through your nose, filling your lungs as far as you can.  Hold that air there for a few seconds and then slowly release it through your mouth, deliberately pushing as much air out of your lungs as you comfortably can.  Do this at least 3 times, concentrating all of your focus on your breath.

And despite following all these practices, you will still often find that there’s that voice in your head which still wants to linger on the long lessons of the past, or else point out the pitfalls of the future. But know this – it is just that – a voice.  Just that recognition in itself, is so powerful. It allows you to start distancing yourself from the time travel and to ground yourself instead in the here and now.

All these practises and thought patterns take some practice and effort, so you should always do your best to ensure that you are in the best energy you can be, by nourishing yourself. See a coach, talk to a trusted friend, read a good book, go for a walk – deliberately make time to do whatever it is that works best for you, to get you into a clearer and more constructive head space.

So to summarise these steps:

  • Tell, speak or write down your memories and stories. Get them out of your head and off your chest.
  • Let go of the need to remain attached to them. Accept what is.
  • Decide to live in the now.
  • Practise gratitude – give thanks for all you have and all you have learnt, generously.
  • Focus on the now. Take time out to breathe deeply and practise Mindfulness.
  • Recognise when you are ‘time travelling’ and get out of the tardis.
  • Nourish yourself.
  • Then decide what to do next.

Take and repeat these simple steps to bring you back into the now. Then you will be in a stronger position to accept the past and know when you are really ready to plan for the future – not worry about it.  This gets easier when it is complimented with the right kind of support, so explore hiring your own coach.

The thing is with time travel that it takes up so much unnecessary time and energy. However, what is really important is that your time is most definitely now.

Yours, mindfully…

     Sandie

Sandra Peachey
Coach, Student and Optimist

PS: To explore how coaching with me could make a difference to your life, drop your details in here and I’ll get in touch.

PPS: A collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)