Life in an Elevator

Doesn’t it suck when you make friends with people and there’s a really good connection. You’ve even declared them bridesmaid or best man at your imaginary wedding and then suddenly they start drifting away and your standing on the river bank waving them off with a hanky.

I’ve never been very good at losing mates. When I make friends with people I invest a lot of my time, energy and emotions into the friendship. Hello, my name is Shaena and I’m an Empath 🙋🏽‍♀️! So when the friendships ends, fades away or we can no longer see each other I really feel it.

Recently though, as upsetting as I find it (with some more than others) I’ve looked at it from a different perspective. They say (who ‘they’ is I’m not entirely sure) that everyone in your life has a role. A purpose if you like. Some might have stuck around your entire lifetime to carry out that purpose. Others, will serve you and leave.

What’s not always clear is what that purpose is or was. I know for me I’m too busy trying to understand the ending to see the lesson I’ve learned from that person throughout our relationship. In other words we focus on the negative because us humans are such miserable sods, that we often miss what we’ve gained because we are too busy looking at what we lost.

As you may have guessed I’m going through this ‘loss’ at the moment and in trying to understand why I need to accept it I came up with an analogy. If you’ve been following my blog or have read any of my previous you’d posts you’ll know this girl loves an analogy.

Ok so, let’s say everyone of us has an elevator. The elevator is our life journey from birth to death. Whether you are going up or down is a whole other analogy but for arguments the elevator starts at ground (birth) and is going up.

Now your elevator, has a maximum capacity. Everyone’s elevator has a different maximum capacity and like any ordinary elevator that maximum is either in total number of people or weight; which ever maxes out first.

So the way I have decided to look at it is that as you are going up in your elevator there are different people with you in said elevator. Some from the ground floor all the way up and others enter and leave on different floors and remain in your elevator for differing durations. Some might even hop off on the 12th floor and then jump back in a few floors up. Like my best mate Claire from primary school. We drifted when we went to different senior schools but Claire and I reconnected a few years ago and she’s still in my elevator with me now, almost 30 years later!

So as you can see not everyone can stay with us for our entire journey. There just isn’t enough room. I think we get something from each person that joins us but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a good thing. Or at least not at the time. For example at the end of a romantic relationship you may have be suffering with heartbreak but you might also have learned more about what you want from a relationship. Or you might experience something with that person that you might not have had you not met them and this something might be something you benefit from later in life.

People are going to get into your elevator and they might stay for a while or they might jump off after two floors. You may want them gone, you may not. But what I’ve learned the hard way is that you have to let them go. Because if they exit and you are still holding onto them somehow, you are probably not going to notice the other person who just joined you on the next floor up. Also they might get stuck between floors and all of a sudden you’ve got a blood bath and murder charge on your hands and nobody needs that. Life is stressful enough!

Keeping hold of something or someone that is no longer serving you is taking away your time and energy from something else. You might not know what that something else is, but I’m pretty sure it’s waiting. If you fall out with a friend, go through a break up or lose someone for good you are of course allowed to miss them and feel sad; but don’t let it consume you to the point that you are missing out on living your life. Don’t be pining for your ex for too long because your soulmate might be right there and you’re too busy crying into your pillow every night to notice. Don’t try and cling onto friends that don’t have time for you anymore. If the connection is there, they’ll be back later I’m sure.

So have a look around you, see who’s in your elevator. Are you holding onto someone that you should probably let go of? Maybe your elevator feels a bit empty and you could do with letting a few people in? And one last thing. If there is someone who is taking up space and you really wish they would sod off. Maybe they have bad hygiene problems, maybe they are a racist bigot, or maybe you just don’t like them. Then you have every right to boot them off at the next floor.

Your elevator. Your life!

Mental illness, medication and me.

Today, a friend posted on Instagram about her recent struggles and how her mental health has deteriorated enough to warrant new medication. She was already taking anti anxiety meds and how now been put on an anti-depressant of sorts; I know this because I’ve been prescribed both in the past. Anyway having only known her a short time I have seen how she’s gone from being quite guarded about her struggles with alcohol and her mental health to opening up and sharing her journey in such a brave and beautiful way.

On the flip side I was talking to another one of my new sober pals this week and she was telling me about how bad her anxiety gets. I have suffered from anxiety in the past but nowhere near as severe as this. It made me sad for her. Knowing that your thoughts can become so intrusive and debilitating that you start to believe the most ridiculous things that then impact your daily life. Anxiety is not just getting stressed and worrying, it can be so much bigger and scarier then that. When I asked her if she had seen her GP about it, she said she was worried they would think she was crazy. I didn’t like that she would even consider using those words but then I remembered how I often used to call myself crazy when I was with friends. It was a way to make light of something that was actually pretty frightening and serious.

Anyway the point of this post is to actually tell you about my experience with mental health and medication. I’ve been on and off medication for about the last 10 years or so. I’ve been on a variety of different things, mostly antidepressants, occasionally meds for my anxiety and once I was even on a lovely cocktail of stuff for my depression, panic attacks and insomnia. Over the years my thoughts on taking medication for my mental health has varied. There are times when I’ve been prescribed something and been reluctant to take it. Times when I’ve been so desperate for some sort of respite for my mind and haven’t given my prescription a second thought. Almost every time though, when I have gotten to the point of stability, when my moods are less turbulent I’ve always slowly come off what ever I was taking. I think the reasons were based on a mix of the physical affects of the medication but also the idea of having to be on them.

I have been on my current meds for a little over 2 years now. I am taking Sertraline and up until last month I was on the maximum dose. Now bearing in mind that they probably weren’t even doing what they should have been doing while I was drinking, I’ve probably only really had the full benefits for the past 6 months. Still, I made the decision last month that I wanted to start decreasing my dose with the hope that eventually I will not need them. That was until a few days ago.

Glennon Doyle was someone I hadn’t heard of until earlier this year when I saw the front cover of her new book, Untamed plastered all over instagram. At first I thought it was just another quit-lit type affair which I’m not against but doesn’t quite float my boat all that much; so I didn’t really think anything of it. But more and more people were declaring it a ‘must read’, so last week I used one of my free credits and got the audible version. The verdict: not quit-lit, but instead a compilation of stories and life lessons which I think most of us would benefit from hearing about. There was a little too much motherhood talk in there; which obviously is no bad thing but just not something I can really relate to. Some people think it’s a bit heavy on religion but that part didn’t bother me, in fact I love learning about people’s faiths because I’m a bit weird like that. Anyway the point I am trying to get to is she talks about her mental health and medication. She made a really good point in that why would we decide to stop using something that is making us feel better. Surely the point is that it’s working and to stop it would leave you at risk of suffering again. This made me think about the times I’d come off my medication after months of feeling better only to relapse and sometimes find myself in even worse of a situation.

One thing I want to make clear is that I’m not someone who would opt for medication if there are other options. The idea of filling my body with chemicals I know very little about doesn’t bode well with me. And don’t worry the irony of that statement isn’t lost on me, I clearly didn’t include alcohol in that category for many years. But I live in different times now and having removed one of the biggest toxins from my life I am much more cautious about the other things that go into my body. So I am very much open to healing of a different nature and undergo regular reiki therapy courtesy of my lovely Dad and I practice meditation. And of course there’s what I believe to be one of the best medicines out there; the art of conversation. Therapy is in my opinion underrated and should be considered by everyone whether they think they need it or not. I think people would be pleasantly surprised by the benefits of talking to someone about their life, even if just to use the other person as a sounding board.

Basically what I think I’m trying to say is that don’t see medication as too much of a big deal when it comes to mental health. If you have tried alternatives and have seen little improvement then just be open to the idea. At least go and talk to the GP about it. They can’t force you to take anything and even I on many occasions have come home with a prescription and never had the medication dispensed because I’ve decided against it. So whilst I don’t think my mental health has ever been this good I have decided that I will stay on my lower dose for the time being…and possibly forever. Because right now, that coupled with the other things I do seems to be working really well. So I see no reason to change it.

Em-proud

Yes it’s a word. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Okay don’t, it’s clearly not a word but I couldn’t decide between proud and empowered so I went with both.

I can’t remember the last time I felt genuinely proud of myself. Not just an ‘I did good’ or pat on the back type proud. But a fuck yeah, bring a tear to your own eye proud. I think maybe when I got my last ‘proper’ job there may have been a little internal jump for joy but not like this.

Yesterday marked 6 months since I last had an alcoholic beverage. Before that I was the lush of the group (the boozy kind not the fancy kind). Not that I was really part of any groups per se, more just the one who was always first at the bar, cracking open the first bottle or the first to finish her drink in most social situations. Those who knew me well though knew that I drank not just for merriment, but mostly because I was sad. The self loathing, you’re a piece of shit kinda sad.

For me, sobriety was always lurking; in my mind and in the hopes of others. Did I think I’d get to six months? Actually, yeah I didn’t think that would be a problem. What has surprised me is how easy and stress free I’ve found it. Now I’m not one for complacency and I know that sobriety becomes more challenging when you actually leave the house and surround yourself with ‘normal’ drinkers. This is not something I’ve actively avoided but lockdown has obviously made socialising difficult. And most of my good friends don’t live local to me. But in an effort to not become a hermit I need to find some sober people to hang out with.

So em-proud moment number 2! I joined a group called Bee Sober and I’m now the Ambassador for my local area which means I pretty much get to start my own group of likeminded ex-lushes and you know, do sober stuff together. I’m really excited about it, mostly because it means I’m getting braver. I’m feeling confident enough to say ‘yeah, I can do that’. I’m taking the lead on something because I want to and know I am capable. Look at me go! And it doesn’t stop there either!

Em-proud moment number 3! What do you do when the toxic energy in your life is coming from a source that encourages the removal of toxic vibes? You remove it of course. I stepped away from something big in my business last week. It was something I was led to believe I needed and wouldn’t succeed without. But as time went on I started to realise it was holding me back and having a detrimental affect on my business mindset. So I dug deep, found my empowerment spray, gave myself a quick spritz, got the backing of my coach (I’m still learning ok?!) and I waved goodbye to the toxicity. And wow did it feel good. So of course I was clearly buzzing and as the 6 month anniversary was rolling in I decided to take a few more big steps.

I’ve been toying with an idea for a few months now. Its something that has only come about because of my Arbonne business, my sobriety and from the massive personal growth spurt I’ve had. I’ve been through a lot of shit. I’m not trying to compete with anyone else and their shit, I just know mine pushed me to my limits on several occasions. And despite the attempts to give up on this one life I have, I’m still here. And not only here but I’m now not taking anymore shit. Or at least I’m trying not to. And that shit includes outside pressures, expectations, energy stealers, all that kind of BS that messes with your head. AND so for my em-proud moment number 4, I’m going to help the Shaena’s of the world, the lost souls who thought they’d done everything right only to end up hopeless and confused. I’m going to help women like me find their way, live life on their own terms and not take any shit. I’m going to make them em-proud!!! Although first I have to go do a course which starts in a few weeks, but yay me!

And yay to me being em-proud.

A day in the life of… Part II

So we left off just after breakfast. Where I attempted to redeem myself with nutrition supplements and vitamins after my cheesy beans on toast…god that was good.

Now a little bit about my home life before I go on. As previously mentioned I live at home with my parents. This is something that for a long time I hated having to fess up to. But not anymore. You see I did move out, almost immediately after university. It was December 2004 and I’d just gotten my first proper job up in Manchester. For the next 4 years I flitted about a bit; Manchester, back to Liverpool (where I went to uni) and then all the way down to London. I then got a bit bored of working so sacked it all off and went backpacking on my own for 6 months. But that’s a whole other post in itself.

When I returned with my grubby backpack wearing hareem pants and a tonne of beaded jewellery; the recession resulted in me not being able to find a decent job. So I lived at home again for a couple of years, worked at the job centre for a bit before moving to Australia for 3 years. Summer 2013 I came back to the UK because my mental health was in a bad way and for that reason and a few others I’ve lived at home with my parents ever since. It’s been challenging for a variety of reasons and my health has impacted us all. But we are all still smiling…just! And without their love and never ending support I honestly would not be writing this today.

So back to my daily antics. Well in my parents eyes I don’t have a job. They know I ‘do Arbonne’ but they see it as something I’m doing for a bit of extra cash and to keep busy. If it hadn’t been for the positive impact this business has had on me and my mental health they’d be dead against it by now. Not because they don’t agree with what I’m doing but because they’re seeing how much time and energy I’m putting into this and I guess after they’ve watched me go through some seriously shitty times they don’t want to see me disappointed again. So they’re wary, but it’s from a place of concern and love.

Anyway the biggest challenge for me trying to build a business from home is getting my mum to understand that I can’t keep stopping what I’m doing to dry the dishes, whizz round with the Dyson or fold laundry. So we’ve come to an agreement that I do my ‘chores’ and start working at 10am from which time I am not to be interrupted. I mean of course that’s not really how it goes because even though the phone never rings for me I end up answering it. Or Dad needs help ordering something from amazon. But right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meet my friend Dyson

So 10am comes and I make my energy brain boost cocktail (strawberry fizz and mind health) and crack on. The next 6 hours minus; about a billion toilet breaks, 3 or 4 Louis being needy moments and covering me in dog hair and of course lunch, I work.

My office…in the conservatory

Now what is work for me at the moment? Well, I start with brainstorming my content. Content for my Instagram, content for my blog and content for my business. When your business is online and you are trying to reach a target audience you need to put out valuable content. Things people relate to, things people can learn from or things people enjoy. I think so many of us are guilty of posting positive or inspirational quotes and I do that too. But that’s not going to help you connect with people, they need to read your words and hear your stories. And let me tell you, sharing that stuff is bloody hard. People are so judgemental it’s ridiculous. As authentic as you are there will always be someone out there who thinks you are boring or attention seeking or melodramatic. To share this kind of stuff you need to look past that and just hope to god your words will reach the right people.

What I’ve learned is that getting your face on camera and talking is probably a quicker way to connect with people. And I know that it’s not really a big deal, BUT I just hate doing it. It’s my biggest weakness. I know it’s stopping me progressing in my business and it’s something I really need to work on. Or just get over my damn self like Romi Neustadt told me to. Actually….I heard good things about Hypnotheraphy so if there are any experts out there please get in touch!

In amongst all of that content creating I’m constantly communicating. With new people, potential clients, people who need help/advice, those who want to know more about what I do and anyone who might want to team up with me for my blog. This is why I love what I do so much, making new connections is exciting and interesting. I’ve made some awesome friends over the last few months as well, true keepers I reckon.

So that’s my working day in a nutshell. There’s a lot more stuff going on like team training, doing my own learning and development but generally that’s how my day pans out until about 4 o clock-ish. I then head out for a walk with Louis which should be a great excuse for some exercise, except after 15mins or so and having had a shit Louis is not interested in walking anymore and we have to head home.

I can never get good photos on our walks so here’s one of him in the garden instead.

When we get back Louis gets fed and I’ll help my Mum with dinner. We all cook but Mum does the majority of it. She normally knocks up traditional Indian food so I’ll help her make the chapattis. My nights in the kitchen tend to result in a cracking fish pie or experimenting with plant based stuff.

Chapatti making

We currently eat together in the kitchen at around 7.30ish. I say currently because there was a time up until recently that we just ate when we felt like it, in front of the TV and not always at the same time. Now relations between us are better (because I’m no longer a nightmare) we try to eat together as much as we can. It’s nice, a time when we can catch up on our day. Which might sound silly with us all at home all day but we are all doing our own little things and dinner time is when we have a little debrief.

After dinner we tend to separate again. But as we are tidying up, doing the dishes etc and when I remember to; I make up my breakfast for the next morning. My favourite chocolate overnight protein oats.

I then head back to the conservatory while my parents are watching TV. Sometimes I carry on with a bit more ‘work’, maybe I’ll read one of my non-personal development books and of course I always have a flick through Netflix options. I used to watch a lot of Netflix, documentaries mostly, but I can’t seem to find any good ones anymore. Louis is fast asleep at this point, so there’s also a lot of time spent staring at him like the obsessed dog momma that I am.

A visit to Grey Sloane Memorial
He sleeps

The parents tend to head up to bed around 10ish and I follow shortly after I’ve kissed dog child goodnight.

I’m now a regular skin care enthusiast so I’ll do my little bedtime routine, clean my pegs and then crawl into bed. Again this used to be more Netflix time for me but these days the early mornings, the improved mental health and calmer mind means that after my head hits that pillow you can guarantee I’ll be out for the count in about 15 minutes or less. I never understood how people could do that, fall asleep within minutes of getting into bed. Now, that’s me and I bloody love it.

So there you have it. A day in the life of, a look through the keyhole and a pretty lack lustre description of my home life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m just a girl, finally finding her way in the world after going through some seriously shitty times. I’ll leave you with a picture of my home, the roof that’s been over my head for the past 33 years give or take. The house where so many memories were made…and where I’m now working towards my dreams.

Home

Connect with me

“Social connection is such a basic feature of human experience that when we are deprived of it, we suffer.” ~ Leonard Mlodinow

No, I don’t mean send me a message. I mean, actually connect. Let me explain…

As a species we are not meant to live like lone wolves, we are hardwired for connection. The need to be social is in our make up. But I’m not talking social like going out with your mates on a midweek bender. No, I mean on a deeper level.

We want to be seen for we are. We want to be understood. And that only comes from a true connection, a meeting of minds or better still a meeting of souls.

When we lose someone in our life whether it’s at the end of [any kind of] relationship or saying goodbye forever it frickin hurts. Or does it? What is that feeling? We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives and we call it pain or hurt. But it’s not the same as feeling physical “my finger has fallen off” type pain is it? Turns out social pain is a thing…a real thing. So if you have to take time to heal from physical pain then why is it any different when you suffer the loss of a human connection?

Now I think there’s a whole heap of shit that needs exploring here but I want to go back to the ‘need’ rather than the ‘loss’. I think our need for connection is underestimated. I always used to think I was over reacting when I got jealous of people hanging out with friends or partners even if they were technically ‘staying in’ or ‘doing nothing’. For me, who was going home to her dog (momma loves you Louis) their none plans were still better than mine. And yes, I know it sounds pathetic. And yes, there were tiny violins everywhere. But it doesn’t take away from the fact I felt shit.

But now I know it was more than me just throwing myself a pity party. I mean, of course it was mostly that. But It was also my need as a person to have that human connection. Like we genuinely need it for health reasons, it’s been proven! It reduces anxiety, depression and low self esteem. Those who lack human connection are said to be prone to inflammation, heart problems, ageing and devastatingly, suicide.

And it’s more than just having someone to spend time with or talk to. We emanate those we connect with, consciously and subconsciously. So not only is it important to make and have connections, it’s important that we be aware of how those connections impact us.

Anyone keeping count of how many times I’ve used the word ‘connection’?

One final point on this subject which I’m now realising is HUGE is connections with a purpose. I worked 5 years in a job where I was surrounded by people all day. I made some very good friends there, but some connections weren’t as strong as I thought. But such is life. Now I’m self employed and with my business being an online one you might think connections are a scarcity. Well it’s actually the complete opposite. I may not be meeting people face to face every day but the connections I’m making are meaningful. They have depth because we are connecting over things like mental health, insecurities and sobriety. People assume that I just ‘sell products’, and you can call it that if you want. But it’s not really like that. My business is about making connections with people, getting to know them and finding out ways in which I can help them. It doesn’t always result in me selling a product and it doesn’t have to either. My aim is to help, in any way I can so if that’s just having a chat, offering suggestions or even signposting them to something else then that’s what I’ll do.

So like I said up top, connect with me. Whatever your reason I’m here to help you, listen to you, laugh with you and if you want to, put the world to rights with you! ✌🏽

A Sober Education

Who’d have thought? Not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips in 151 days. I am pretty proud of myself but not because of my incredible willpower or determination, because to be honest it’s not really been like that for me. Not this time around anyway. I can’t really explain why but I’ve not really had any cravings, moments of ‘my life is going to be so fucking boring now, why could I not just drink sensibly like all the normal people out there?’ or even felt the need to fill the giant vodka bottle sized gap in my life with alcohol free beverages. It’s actually been pretty smooth sailing….so far. I am under no illusion that this is going to be a doddle and I’m never going to think about alcohol again, because that’s just stupidity at its finest. I am yet to try sober socialising, I have my first sober birthday since I was 17 coming up in a few months (and it’s a big one!) and I’ve just realized that if I ever decide that looking for love is a good idea again I’m going to have to go on a sober date! FML!

Anyway I digress. So, proud. Yes I am. Why? Because it’s given me the opportunity to go back to school. Sober school that is. No, not the online one. The imaginary one I made up so I could be a student again. A student of life! I’ve just said that out loud and I sound like a twat, but stick with me here.

I’ve learned more in the last 5 months than I did at school, university or in any job I’ve had. It’s been an incredible journey so far, so many light bulb moments and epiphanies. When alcohol was my pal, I spent so much of my time confused, lost, misunderstood. In fact I didn’t even really understand myself if I’m honest. I didn’t know who I was and now looking back, I think I spent too much of my time trying to be like other people just to fit in. No bloody wonder I was depressed. Feeling like you don’t belong or unsure of your identity is not a nice place to be. It’s actually incredibly lonely and I think as a society we underestimate the impact loneliness has on people. You don’t have to be elderly to be lonely, in fact I think older people accept loneliness better than most. I know for me watching people in my life; friends, colleagues etc go about there day to day lives with their families, other friends, partners made me feel like shit. It’s not like I didn’t have friends I just didn’t have a regular crowd to hang out with so to speak. So I hung out on my own…well, maybe not completely alone. Had my buddy booze there with me didn’t I?!

So what’s so different now? Well, since me and alcohol parted ways I feel like it took with it the dark cloud that used it hang over me, so I can see so much better now the skies are clear. I can see myself again and as a result I’m more aware and less dismissive of the impact my thoughts and actions have on myself and others. Having this clarity and self awareness gives me a sense of control that I didn’t have before. I always thought I was in control and it was my decision to do the things I did but if I wasn’t myself, how could it have been?

I’ve also done a lot of soul searching since going sober…wait is it going or getting? Anyway I’m talking actual soul searching. The spiritual kind, where you try and connect with your higher self and see the bigger picture. I never thought all that stuff was a bunch of crap, but I also didn’t think it was for me. Turns out I was wrong. Not only is it very much me and has opened up a whole new world for me, but I actually think everyone could do with checking out their spiritual side. You don’t even need to meditate, just google soul vs ego and I promise you, you’ll find out a lot about yourself!

Having found spiritual Shaena my life is so much more peaceful and calm now. I get less irate about things and even if something really annoys me I try not to react, but instead pause and take a breath. I also have way more patience and I find myself enjoying the simplest of things. I can’t even remember the last time I was in a bad mood which is saying something considering my whole life used to be a bad mood.

There’s so much more I could say about sober life and I’m sure you’ll get plenty more snippets in future blog posts but the last thing I want to mention today is people. I have made the most incredible connections via Instagram, I’m honestly blown away. I’m no stranger to making friends online, a few years ago I was following this fitness program and connected with a few girls who were doing it too. I think that was in 2015, since then I’ve been to 2 of their weddings, had 2 weekend cottage breaks with them and there was even a trip to New York! Madness! Anyway the sober community on Instagram is so welcoming and supportive. Obviously you don’t click with every single person but in just a few months I can definitely say I’ve gained at least 5 new friends. It’s funny actually, so many people worry about their friendships changing when they decide to stop drinking. I get it, I was worried too. But it’s true what they say about people all having a different role in your life and not everyone is there to stay. When you make changes to your lifestyle, some people adapt and evolve with you but others, their role in your life comes to an end. And that’s ok, because chances are you new lifestyle choice will bring a whole bunch of new people into your life.

So here’s to 5 months and to my continued education at sober school.

Cheers!