When I was young, I used to love looking at the windows of the houses lit up by Christmas trees and sparkling lights. In the dark winter months, I would spy little flurries of different lives being lived along the street where I grew up. Sometimes I would see glimpses of families playing games or preparing the evening meal or just sitting in front of the fire laughing and chatting.
I always imagined that their lives must be perfect and a part of me wanted to walk up to their front door and ask if I could join their family for just a little while. It wasn’t that my own family didn’t love me or do the best for me, it was just that we were different.
My mother was a young widow who became reclusive after my father died. We didn’t have much money, and I knew that Christmas presents were always a struggle to buy. We didn’t have a big sparkling Christmas tree in the window. We had a little plastic tree which sat on the lounge table which we delighted in decorating with tinsel and brightly coloured paper chains that we made on winter evenings.
We didn’t have a roaring log fire to snuggle in front of. Instead, we had a two-bar electric heater which always smelt “smokey” when you switched it on. The presents I dreamed about were never the ones I received, and yet, in this little house in a quiet cul-de-sac in a small provincial town, I was given some of the greatest gifts of my life.
Here are some of the gifts that I received over the years and now share them with you and hope that they bring you the same joy as they have done for me over the years.
My mother loved to write. She loved to wonder about people, life and possibilities. Stories would fly through her head as she made up tales of adventure, travel, excitement and love. And whilst she never remarried (or even dated) after my father died, she kept wonder and possibility alive in her soul.
The gift of wonder invites you to stay being curious and enchanted by life. No matter where you are or what you have, you can create inner worlds of magic and possibility.
Allow yourself to wonder about how joyful life can be or what new and exciting things could come your way. Wonder about what you can do next that will fulfil and nourish you. Begin each day with the question, “I wonder what joy I will discover today.” Allow your life to be infused by wonder.
We often shut down possibilities in our life. We may try to control events or others or have negative expectations of what our lives will bring. However, when you wonder, you enter a whole new world of potential. A world where nothing is predetermined and where everything becomes possible.
Right now, close your eyes and silently dwell on all of the things you are grateful for. Gratitude is a game changer. It lovingly draws us away from what is wrong or not working in our life to what we have and how blessed we truly are.
What are you grateful for? Notice what is here for you. Have you eaten today? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a loving friend or two? Do you have warm clothes to wear or enough money to buy yourself something you like? Are you breathing?
We can take so much for granted and yet when we pause to give thanks for all we have it changes the way that we feel and how we experience our life.
In my own life, whilst I may not have had the fancy expensive Christmas that I dreamed about as a child, I always had loving arms to hold me and wrap me up in love, for which I was eternally grateful.
The gift of magic invites you to inhabit the unknown and the beautiful synchronicities of life. What feels magical to you? Is it a breath-taking sunrise, a full moon on a winter’s night, flowers in bloom, a walk in nature, a gentle hug when you need it the most or maybe it’s just the gift of another day? How you view the world has a direct influence on how you experience it.
When you choose to see your life as being infused with even just a little magic, you create the potential and the possibility for it to be so. The science of quantum physics tells us that what we focus on the most expands in potential. So, this festive season, focus on the magic and majesty of your life and this beautiful planet that we are all spinning on in space. How magical!
It took me a long time to really feel compassion with myself and my body. I demanded a lot from me and when I felt that I didn’t live up to my own exacting standards, I pushed and demanded even harder. However, life in its wondrous way teaches us to be compassionate, even though we may resist learning this challenging lesson.
Compassion is the soft, kind inner voice that you speak to yourself when times are difficult. It is the sweet whispers of reassurance that rock you to sleep at night. Compassion says, “It’s okay to be you. You’re human. You’re beautiful and you’re doing the best that you can.” When you give yourself the gift of compassion, you come home to yourself, your body and your life.
Peace. What a beautiful word that conjures up so many images and feelings. As a body confidence expert, coach and writer, it is the one thing that my clients seem to crave the most. When I enquire about what they truly desire, they reply, “To feel peace within myself. To not always feel so swayed by what others think and want. To have inner peace.”
Peace, like happiness, is an inside job. We get to create it first on an inner level. How do you do this? By allowing the world and others to be where they are, as they are. Stay in your world, your life, your dreams and your joys. Take a step back and place your hands over your heart.
Remember what you came here to experience, teach, enjoy, learn, create, gift or share. We create inner peace every time we choose not to fight but to flourish, not to resist but to restore, not to criticise but to create and not to hate but to heal.
Passion is linked to our life force energy. We can be passionate about anything: gardening, sewing, dancing, reading, writing, singing, volunteering, collecting, art, learning, travelling, working, cooking etc.
It doesn’t matter what you are passionate about – it just matters that you engage with something that stirs your soul, makes you feel alive and that you find joy in the being involved with it. If you are unsure where your passion lies, find the things that are meaningful to you in your life and begin to expand those things.
Do you allow yourself to get excited by the thought of another day? Do you take time to appreciate the sweet, small moments in your life – the sound of the birds singing, the sunshine after the rain, the warming drink on a cold winter’s day? Is your heart open to see the joy that life offers us daily?
So often, we try to protect ourselves against being too happy or joyful, fearing that if we get too happy, then something awful may be just around the corner. Many people spend an entire lifetime waiting for the other shoe to drop. However, this only limits the joy that they could be feeling in the moment. Don’t wait for shoes to drop; dance barefoot instead and celebrate the moment you are in.
To be wholeheartedly who you are is something that is often learned as we age. Every experience that we have in our life shapes the person that we are becoming. We are constantly challenged and invited to become more of our true, authentic self.
When something or someone is authentic, we often say that they are the “real deal,” “genuine,” or “the real McCoy.” There is a sense that they know who they are and that they live in alignment with their values and what is meaningful for them. They have the courage to express themselves in whatever way feels right for them and they stand for what they believe in.
Give yourself the gift of authenticity by allowing yourself to be MORE of who you truly are. Do more of what you love. Speak more about what lights you up. Dress in ways that express your own style and love being wholeheartedly YOU!
Remember that there is no one in the entire world who speaks, walks, dreams, laughs, or creates like you do. That makes you unique. You are an original – the genuine article!
The gift of connection is a gift that holds us, keeps us and intertwines us with others and ourselves in meaningful ways. When we connect, we deepen our own sense of belonging in this world and at the same time seek to add to someone else’s experience.
There are so many beautiful ways to reach out and connect. Social media provides a global reach with others, whilst neighbourhood groups, clubs, charities or classes offer us closer-to-home connections.
However, every single connection we make depends first on the connection and the relationship that we have with ourselves. Give yourself the gift of connection by taking some time out to really connect with who you are and what you truly desire in your life.
Are there changes you need to make? What really lights you up and sets your soul free? Where are you not listening to yourself? Where do you stop yourself from showing up or reaching out to others?
Every morning, begin the day by taking a few moments to tune in to how you are. Close your eyes and scan through your body, noticing any areas which feel tense or uncomfortable. Gently breathe into these areas imagining a golden light infusing these parts with love. Check in with your thoughts and set your intention for the day.
I’m a dreamer. My mind is full of scenarios and possibilities. At school I would always be told off for staring out of the window to the open fields beyond the confines of the classroom walls. I would imagine myself walking out in the sunshine or writing my stories.
Dreams are there to call us on. They ignite our spirits and send us on a journey of discovery and creativity. The greatest creations and inventions have come from people who have had a dream. They may have been told that their dreams were impossible or not to indulge in such futile pastimes.
However, we know that dreams and daydreaming is essential for our mental and emotional health. This Christmas allow yourself to dream about living your best life. What is it that truly lights you up? What do you desire now in your life? What dreams have you left behind and do they need to be re-imagined and brought to life?
Look around you and find something that you feel is beautiful. Spend a little time just noticing how lovely it is and allow that beauty to fill you up. The gift of beauty brings us the gift of pleasure. When we look for the beauty in our lives we become a pleasure seeker, which, in turn, helps to generate more joy and feelings of contentment.
Beauty can be found everywhere and in the strangest of places. All we need to do is to look for it. Today, I found beauty in the dappled light dancing on an old broken concrete path. I found it also in the eyes of a photograph of my grandmother. I had never noticed how truly beautiful she was until now.
It can be all too easy for us to get drawn into noticing what is wrong in this world and the stress that this brings. However, we need to remember how glorious and kind people are and how beautiful this earth truly is. There is a lovely saying that goes, “When you see beauty anywhere, it is a reflection of yourself.”
Many years ago, I decided that I wanted to live my life as if it were a wonderful romance. I wanted to have a loving relationship with what life offered me and to fully appreciate this journey that I was on. It has changed my experience of living in the most profound ways.
Instead of rushing through the moments of my days, I now take time to be fully present for them. Life has become my co-creator. It’s no longer me against the world. Romancing your life means that you consciously take time to develop a loving and supportive relationship with each day.
As you awaken in the morning, allow your first thoughts to be about what you would like to experience from the day and what you would like to bring to the day. As the day unfolds, take time to pause every so often and come back to how you are feeling.
If you find yourself feeling out of sorts, stop and check in with what is happening around you and what thoughts you may be thinking. Invite your mind to come up with three helpful and kind thoughts that would make you feel a little better and repeat these to yourself quietly.
My romance with life has deepened a romance with my body, and I now love to share this journey on Instagram and in my writing.
Every relationship brings its ups and downs; however, life and our journey through it is truly the most remarkable relationship we will ever have. Every day brings us an opportunity to learn from the past and step into a brand-new moment that has never been lived before.
And, as Agatha Christie once said, “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”I echo that entirely!
Have a wonderful Christmas and festive season everyone!
What are the gifts that you will give yourself this Christmas? What gifts from Christmases past do you remember most vividly? Why?
Tags Finding Happiness
What you wrote resonates, and so beautifully; thank you for this gift of sharing your thoughts and feelings with us.
Hi Angela, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I am so glad that you resonated with the article. Wishing you a wonderful New Year and many thanks again..Warmly, Astrid x
Thank you for this lovely and inspiring article! I especially loved the idea of romancing your life❤️
Hi Betsy, thank you so much for your lovely words! I am so glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, Romancing your life puts a completely differently perspective on every day! Keep romancing your life Betsy and enjoy every moment! Happy New Year! x Warmly, Astrid https://www.instagram.com/romancingyourbody/?hl=en
What an inspiring article! Thank you for sharing your uplifting and wise doctrine.
Thank you so much Claudette. I am so glad that you enjoyed the article. Wishing you a very happy New Year! Warmly, Astrid
Loved this article!!!! Beautifully written!! It puts everything into focus ❤️
Hi Linda, thank you so much! I am so glad that you loved the article! Have a very happy New Year! Warmest wishes, Astrid
Loved this. It really spoke to what I need in my life right now.
Hi Vanessa, I am so glad that you enjoyed the article. Wishing you a very happy New Year! Warmly, Astrid