**Sun 25 Dec 16**
A CHRISTMAS GIFT. A LITTLE BOX OF TOOLS.
My Soapbox has been rather quiet over the last few months. So, if you're reading this (which I guess you must be), thanks for staying with me.
I've been going through some radical and painful changes in my life, not because I'm any kind of brave soul, but simply because I had to. Sometimes it's move your ass or die.
So, really, I haven't had the strength or motivation to be standing on my Soapbox ranting on in the way that I was accustomed to in the past.
However, coming up to this Christmas, although there is a lot of sadness to deal with, I feel like the blood is beginning to flow properly in my veins again.
If any of you out there are going through difficult times, and feel that you can't cope physically or mentally or spiritually, let me just hand you a small package. It's a box of tools. These are the 4 things which have helped me start to rebuild. Maybe they can help you too.
1) An app called the Seven Minute Workout. This needs approaching with some care if you have knee problems (get advice from a physio) - but I have found it incredibly helpful, done on a regular basis. You don't have to go at it too hard. Just doing it regularly is a great bit of discipline, and apart from tuning up the body, I find that it really helps to centre my mind, because during the workout you can't think of anything else. On a day when you really can't face getting out of bed, this can turn you around.
2) An app called Headspace. This is a bit of a miracle. I think I've been very lazy about meditation most of my life. My best friend Tom teaches it, but I was never a very good pupil. But since I've been regularly doing 10 minutes a day on Headspace, I've found that my whole attitude to life has changed. Does that sound over-dramatic? Well if you had seen me a few weeks ago, you would've wondered if I was going to make it to Christmas. This got me on my feet. The mindfulness training that you get in this amazing app enables you to separate out what is essentially you, and take a step back, looking at your feelings and emotions in perspective. The difference between "I am pain, and pain is defining me" and "I am experiencing pain, but I can look at it objectively" is life–changing.
3) A book called "The Language of Letting Go" by a lady called Melody Beattie. Now this lady has written a number of books, and there is wisdom in all of them. But this one is special. Every time I pick it up, I get the feeling that she was somehow divinely inspired while putting this collection of thoughts together. It's not a book that you read from cover to cover. I'm sad to say that I'm not very good at that these days. That's something else I would like to regain. But this is a book of concise thoughts that you can dip into on any day of the year. Nine times out of 10 when I dip into it, something leaps out of me which is the exact answer that I needed on that particular day to a problem which is crippling me. I've kept this book close to me for a few years now. It's been a life saver quite a few times.
4) The last tool in the box? The Serenity Prayer. It sounds so simple and trite when you first see it, but it's one of the most powerful groups of words in any language, I believe, for getting back on the path to sanity.
I'm sure I've spoken about this before on the Soapbox, but, just in case you haven't seen this, here it is.
If you're not religious, don't be put off by the fact that it starts off with the word God! Just substitute whatever you believe in, spiritually, as an authority. It might be your Higher Power, or it might be Nature, or the Brave Stars, or it might be just somebody that you respect as a teacher.
Here it is.
God - grant me -
The Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
The Wisdom to know the difference.
Simple? Obvious? And yet, time and time again this will bring you back from the brink of despair if you APPLY it, and let its various insights sink in.
Well, folks, that's my Christmas gift. I hope that you're full of joy this Christmas and don't need any of this stuff. But if you're feeling little shaky, or suffering physically, or just feeling that life isn't quite right, I hope you will find the tools in this little box to be helpful.
OK - there's a PS. There's a number 5. And maybe in the end this the most precious thing of all.
There are some problems you cannot solve on your own. But with a trusted friend, you have 100 per cent better chance. If you find a friend who trusts you, you can probably trust them. Share. And treasure your real friends. I do.
(PLEASE OBSERVE COPYRIGHT)