A year down, part one

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 15.04.33

Hello all, Happy January! How are you? Happy? Hungover? Optimistic? Knackered? Sick? I’m a bit of all of those things, but, to quote that great spiritual leader, Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’M BACK.

And it feels good.

Just to recap, it is exactly a year since I started this blog. By now I was supposed to have gone through 12 self-help books – one a month, as planned. There would have been highs and lows, tears and revelations, romance and rejection,  all coming together to form some sort of profoundly moving (but neat and tidy) epiphany on December 31st 2014.

Right now, I should be writing up my award winning best-selling book and feel a bit shinier and more enlightened than I used to. Oh and skinnier and richer, obviously. Ideally with a cashmere jumper wearing hottie in the wings. I mean, let’s face it – that’s what self-improvement usually comes down to – money, men and the weighing scales…

As we all know that’s not the way it’s happened.

Instead, the end of last year saw me falling off a metaphorical cliff. By December I really felt on the verge of losing the plot. And that’s not an exaggeration. The voice in my head wouldn’t shut up and all it was telling me was how s*it I am. I was not sleeping well (crazy dreams) or thinking logically. I felt like I was losing my grip on normal life. I went to visit a friend in Ireland and I found myself almost unable to say anything. I was a crashing computer.

The truth is I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this project.

I just thought the year would see me going out of my comfort zone a bit, trying new things, and feeling a bit more efficient, a bit happier… a bit better.  I didn’t realise that it would get  as deep and messy as it has. I had no comprehension that what I’d be doing is un-peeling layers of myself and that, sometimes, that would feel like falling apart.

I don’t know if that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s how it’s felt.

Taking the month off was one of my smarter decisions. I spent three weeks sleeping, eating and zoning out in Ireland. Then I came home and hung out with my sisters for Christmas. It was nice. No dramas. And my friend got me a book that told the Nativity as illustrated by guinea pigs dressed up as three wise men and baby Jesus. It might be the best present I’ve ever received.

So now… the big question:

HAS A YEAR OF SELF-HELP HELPED? 

Right now, I’m inclined to say no, at least not in the ways I hoped it would. Here’s why: 

I’m no happier

I am no happier than I was a year ago, in fact I’m probably less happy and I would say that since September I’ve been pretty low (I’ll write a post about this shortly). The truth is that thinking about yourself 24-7 is not a good thing. It really isn’t. I’m also realising just how strong my inclination is to get down, no matter how many vision boards I make or strangers I chat up.

I’ve put on weight

I’m also more than one stone heavier than I was a year ago – I have eaten and drunk my way through this year in quite a major way. One friend asked me if that was part of human nature – that if you’re trying to fix one area of your life (in this case my mind) then do you instinctively sabotage other areas (your body). Maybe. I just think I needed cakes to get through the day.

I’m broke

I am still broke. I can’t even face totting up the figures now but they’re bad again and it’s a source of constant low-grade anxiety. Hey ho. Twas ever thus. BUT I do genuinely have an understanding of the way I am with money that I never had before and this is progress. I am opening all bills and still looking at my hideous bank statements. Again, progress.

I am still single

Turns out that writing a soul-searching blog is more of a turn off than ugly shoes. I had a few romantic encounters last year which ended with me talking about the blog and them going away saying they’d go away and read it. Then total silence. Never heard from them again. I have visions of them reading the contents of my mind and thinking – No way, No How, This is too much information, Get me out of here. And actually I don’t blame them at all. I’d probably feel the same way if it was the other way around.

My friends are in two camps about this: some say that I shouldn’t tell guys about the blog and others that I should because it’s the real me and if they don’t like it they can lump it. I’m inclined to think the latter … it sorts the wheat from the chaff… But actually the last thing I can think of right now is getting involved with someone, I have too much going on in my head to add someone else to the mix. That might well be a cop out but it’s how I feel.

I am still a ball of worry

Maybe it’s because I never really got the hang of affirmations (‘Money comes to me easily and effortlessly!’, ‘I am confident and calm in everything I do!’) but I still worry and put myself myself down all the time – I wake most mornings with a feeling of anxiety and jitters…I have been waking up in the middle of the night with panics.

Productivity

Has nose-dived. I was never exactly a model of ‘can do’ efficiency but fear used to drive me – fear of failure, fear of letting people down, fear of poverty. The good news is that fear seems to have largely gone, the bad news is that it means I get very little done. I look back at last year like I spent it in some strange bubble. I did not function normally. I really didn’t. I have been beating myself up about this a lot but actually, I just think that churning through the whole ‘What’s life about’ stuff takes up more bandwidth than I’d realised. And then there were the hangovers…

Alcohol 

Yup, I’ll make no bones about it: I drank my way through last year. Cut me and I bleed red wine. And Co-op Prosecco. I’m back on the wagon now for sober January, let’s see how long I last.

BUT BUT BUT BUT 

For all its ups and painful downs, last year was like no other and so many amazing things happened, including:

You guys – Getting lovely, funny, encouraging emails from total strangers is mind-blowingly wonderful and I can’t thank you all enough for all the support last year. I don’t think I’d have stuck it without you, so really thank you.

Conversations –  I had some of the best conversations with friends, family and colleagues. People I’d have thought would see this blog as self-indulgent nonsense, have told me they can  relate to everything in it. We’ve had conversations about their fears, hopes, family and money stuff. It’s been an eye-opener. It shows we really are all the same underneath it all – it doesn’t matter what kind of act we put on.

This blog – I had an idea and I did it. I really did. It got written about in magazines and newspapers, picked up in France and China, I went on the radio and telly. The stupid voice in my head still tells me I’m messing this up but any kind of rational view would be that this has been a success. Whatever that means.

The stand up comedy – I will go to my grave being someone who had the guts to do stand up comedy. This makes me so, so, so proud.

I have changed – It’s hard to explain how but I do feel that I’ve changed quite profoundly. It feels like something inside of me has shifted. I certainly understand myself better than I ever have before and I see the world – and other people – entirely differently to how I did a year ago.  Which brings me back to the deep stuff:

I may now be a semi-spiritual person. Don’t tell anyone, please.

I used to hate people who described themselves as spiritual (what does that even mean? I still don’t know) but I’m getting a sense I might be turning into one. At the root of most self-help books is a sense that there is some sort of universal power at work and that if we trust and tap into this power, amazing things can happen.

Growing up I was taught that that was God, but as soon as I left (convent) school, I rejected that notion. I still don’t believe in God, per se, but I do believe that there’s more stuff happening in the world that what we can see, feel and hear. I now, tentatively, believe in miracles and magic.

Which brings me to the biggest lesson I’ve taken from this year, which is one that Susan Jeffers wrote about in ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’:

‘It’s all happening perfectly.’

As well as telling us to do something that scares us every day, Susan Jeffers believed in some kind of universal power that guides us all. She argued that even if everything is going tits up – your husband’s walked out, you’ve lost your job, you’re broke etc – if you ‘say yes to the universe’ and accept what’s happening you will learn great lessons that will lead to the kinds of wonderful things you can’t even dream of now.

Throughout the year there have been times when this phrase has taunted me – usually when I was knee deep in self-loathing and bank statements, or when I was getting sick and behind schedule. I have felt like NOTHING was happening perfectly.

BUT after a month’s rest and a bit of perspective I now believe that, for all its messiness, my life (and this project), is playing out exactly as it should. I think that I’ve probably done more than I can see right now and that even my failures and detours held a lot of good lessons.

The truth is that none of us has the kind of control over our lives that we think we have. And things rarely work out how we think they should. But, actually, that’s OK. Better than OK, even.

So as we enter 2015 I have no idea how this year is going to go. Tomorrow I’ll put up a post outlining my vague plans to get through the remaining four books – just to give God/the Universe/Whatever’s up there a laugh. We can then chart just how dramatically off course I go a and have a good laugh too.

But whatever happens, this is my one resolution: I’ll do my best to let go, stop beating myself up and trust in the fact that it’s all happening perfectly. Even when it seems like a giant mess.

Onwards and Happy New Year. xx

27 thoughts on “A year down, part one

    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Happy New Year Lotte! Hope it brings great things for you and your blog… it’s all happening perfectly.

      Reply
  1. JohnC

    Funnily enough the DM did a feature on the 5:2 diet today, I hope you have a copy.
    Personally, the recipes are eugghhhh but the calories are low. Now, to financial matters, have you thought about auctioning yourself for a dinner date – it would have to be an unusual auction in that you get to keep the losing bids as well.
    Anyway, before I leg it I found this for you – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ke8mzgex4U

    Reply
    1. JohnC

      I was going to mention a Queen song (FBG) but even I thought that too much. Enjoy your life in 2015. Take up Badminton, you’ll meet non-press people who don’t have nasty deadlines to wory about

      Reply
  2. CB

    Hi Marianne, Happy New Year! Great to hear from you so early in the year.

    I came across this quote recently which I thought was an interesting take on spirituality – “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (Pierre Treilhard de Chardin – Philosopher).

    I am a fully signed up member to the notion that “it’s all happening perfectly” and I have found it most useful when things really have gone tits up or tits not behaving at all. I was diagnosed with a serious illness (long, unpronouncable word) and breast cancer last year. A recipe to make me insane but constantly reminding myself that “it’s all happening perfectly”, “I trust myself and the Universe” and other such affirmations (and total diet and lifestyle change) prevented me from going potty and I’m fine now. I’m one of those odd people who found the whole experience interesting and sometimes even enjoyable. Yes, it is possible but that’s a choice and that’s the biggest power we have – choice. We can choose how we feel about something and the thoughts we think. There’s a quote from Hamlet that really resonated with me – “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I learned that even the thoughts we think and the emotions we feel have an impact on our bodies at cellular level and can cause things to go awry. Thoughts become things, choose the good ones…you might have come across that!

    Happy 2015. Enjoy your next trip around the sun!

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Wow, Claire, you’ve gone through a lot and sounds like you’ve really got stronger from it. That’s inspiring, I hope you’re really proud of yourself. I love that Hamlet quote, dad used to say it when we were kids. And you are totally totally right about emotional having an impact on a cellular level, I believe that with all my heart. So yes, mission for the year… change my thoughts. Happy New Year and thanks from the bottom of my heart for all the wisdom and encouragement. Look forward to meeting you one day. Mx

      Reply
  3. Kathryn Rogers

    I absolutely applaud your honesty Marianne and I agree that too much self analysis is a bad thing. It has been wonderful to be part of your world and you have no idea how inspiring you are. It is so refreshing to have an honest opinion and to hear all of the good and bad about your experiences. Having had the opportunity to meet you and be totally bowled over by your warmth and how beautiful you are. Stay true to yourself and I know you will find happiness xx

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Ah Kathryn, thank you. And I was struck by your warmth and fun and energy. You have real presence. Happy New Year and let’s both keep being true to ourselves and see what happens… Happy 2015. xxx

      Reply
  4. Anne

    I wish you had written this blog backwards, there may be a clue in the fact you wrote a lot of negative at the top but then went on to tell us all the amazing things that you have done, people you have met and that you have changed. And yes it is all happening perfectly . Change is always painful or it wouldn’t be change. Look back in 3 or 5 years and then tell us how last year was the catalyst that changed your life. Don’t measure your success in the big visible leaps but in the small baby steps and how you feel inside. Are you proud of yourself? Do you like yourself? If you could wave a magic wand and wipe out last year and start again would you? Make a new vision board, visualise what you want every day and take baby steps towards it. Thoughts become things so choose the good ones. I Look forward to walking along with you in 2015. You’re an amazing inspirational woman and don’t ever forget it.

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Anne, you’re right – I always focus on the negative, this is a deeply engrained habit that I really need to break, because actually things are so good. But yes, change is more painful than I’d thought… but I don’t think I had any concept of what change really was when I started this. I totally agree that I’ll probably look back in a few years and see that 2014 (and also 2013, when I did the Hoffman Process) were the years that changed everything. I am proud of myself and I do like myself, I just keep picking holes in all the things I’ve done ‘wrong’. I’ll make a new vision board – and thank you. You’re the amazing and inspirational one. Are you doing a vision board for the year? And when are you back to your studies? Love and sincere thanks for all the support and wisdom. Mx

      Reply
  5. lonestarsky

    Yay, you’re back!! What a brilliant post – so honest, and I’m sure everyone can relate to at least some of it. I guess overdosing on self-help books is a danger in itself! I agree with your spiritual comment – I’ve always been very non-religious but in recent years I’ve definitely grown to be what I would call spiritual but without belief in a God as such. Like you, I believe there are forces acting somewhere….

    Oh, and I really want that guinea pig book!!!

    Have a great 2015 🙂 xxx

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      The Guinea Pig Nativity is a classic, buy it for yourself next year! Thanks so much for the support, as ever, and Happy New Year. How’s life with you? Mx

      Reply
  6. Zoë

    Glad to have you back, m’dear! That all happening perfectly one is hard to trust – I’m not there yet, but I’ll try. Or try to try. Something like that…

    And oh. Oh, please let me put my voting ticker in for “Don’t tell the gents about the blog so fast.” First of all, it’s lopsided. Why should they get to have all this access to your inner workings when you have none for theirs? But also, let them get to know you before getting to KNOW you. Not that you have anything to hide, but this blog is only a part of you. A very raw part. In fact, I read it often thinking of the you I’ve known previously and wondering how you couldn’t possibly love that chickie I’ve been lucky to get to know. Let them fall for your charms first… (Not that you need to date if you don’t think you’re ready! xo)

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Good points, Zoe. You’re right. When I’m ready I’ll let my ‘charms’ do the work! Ha! How are you? Happy New Year! xx

      Reply
  7. Pammy

    Marianne,

    I appreciate your honesty and openness on this blog! I have received your emails and read your blog for about nine months, and I so very much appreciate your sharing your experiences! You have been such an inspiration. I have appreciated knowing others also are trying to find their ways for themselves, and none of us know how to make that work; we just stumble through, taking one step at a time–or one self-help book at a time!

    I agree with the “it’s all happening perfectly” philosophy, although in my own life, it’s hard to see that while I’m in the experience. Looking back is helpful. My mother, a wise and spiritual woman (now gone almost three years; also not a believer in a traditional “God”), said that we choose lessons in what we need to learn as humans, and these experiences teach us how to be more fully human and whole. That doesn’t mean the lessons feel good, or that they always turn out well, but that we have something to gain in our lives.

    Your “lessons” in the past year have helped me be more patient with those I [consciously or unconsciously] chose for myself. Like you, I wanted to be more proactive in my growth. But I had to have some serious health issues before making significant changes. Now I have finally found the courage to change my circumstances. Thanks for being a source of inspiration for me!

    Pammy

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Hello Pammy, thanks for such a lovely message. I agree with your mum that we do (subconsciously) pick situations and people that teach us lessons, it’s something that Louise Hay writes about in her books. Have you read Louise Hay? She writes a lot about the emotional factors that trigger illness – all controversial but there might be something in it for you? Sorry to hear that your health has been bad and very glad that I’ve been any kind of help. Do keep in touch and Happy New Year. x

      Reply
  8. Ailsa Frank

    Hi Marianne
    Well done for completing your year of self-help at least you did it!
    When I saw your blog this time last year I knew you would be going on an emotional journey. I myself tried many self-help books years ago. It led me on a merry dance too. I then trained as a hypnotherapist to help myself and devised a system which actually works to take back control of your life. I have since gone on to help thousands of clients . I always wanted to give clients ‘THE BOOK’ which would help them but I knew it didn’t exist. So I knew I would eventually write my own self -help book based on my tried and tested work. Anyway when I saw your blog I wished I had my book to give you but alas I didn’t. But this summer I pulled myself together,set myself a deadline of four months to write and publish my book and that is exactly what I did. I used the motivational techniques I was writing about to make it happen. From pen to paper to holding the printed book took four months!! It is called ‘Cut the Crap and Feel Amazing’ It does what it says on the tin, by moving the mind on from the past and into the AMAZING thinking. It teaches you to take control of spiralling thoughts, rise above the drama, let go of negative and get into the AMAZING zone. It covers all aspects of life from money, debt, wealth, relationships, getting over heartbreak, loss and bereavement, parenting issues, finding love, health, stress, motivation……. Your blog spurred me on to get on and write my book so many thanks for the inspiration!! Wishing you an AMAZING 2015!!
    Best wishes
    Ailsa x

    Reply
  9. Elaine

    So pleased that you are back, as much as there are negatives – there’s all the time in the world to turn them into positives 🙂 then there are the great positives too.
    There are great comments too – what a lot of lovely people that have found their way to your blog!!
    I had a bit of a ‘what’s it all about Alfie’ sort of a day yesterday – so it was great seeing your new post and knowing that I’m not alone… so today has been a much better one…. although I’m starting to wonder if Im suppose to be writing as my keyboard is not typing every other letter – very odd!!! Going to post before it stops altogether!!! Hugs 🙂 xxxxxx

    Reply
  10. Laura

    OK–here’s what I don’t get. How do I say yes to the universe? What is the difference between accepting and not accepting?

    FWIW, my husband did walk out, I moved, my mother had a stroke, you name it last year. These are the facts. How am I supposed to accept or not accept them?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *