CLAUDIA MERRILL ~ MY GRATEFUL LIFE
There are many amazing ways to live life with a grateful heart. This interview series ‘My Grateful Life’ explores the lives of people from all over the world who are incorporating an attitude of gratitude into their daily life. We all have our own way of doing things, and practising Gratitude is no different. I have been so inspired by their stories and the tools and tricks they use for living life with a positive mindset and daily gratitude.
So without further ado, I am honoured to introduce you to…
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Hi everyone! My name is Claudia and I’m a writer and blogger. I love to share my tips on writing, how to create an inspired life, and my love for history and folklore. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years now and I’ve been writing since I was very young. I love to share everything I’ve learnt about history, because I think that by understanding our past, we can understand ourselves better.
What does gratitude mean to you?
To me, gratitude means to open your heart fully to life. Being grateful is more than counting your blessings, it’s about truly feeling appreciative for everything in your life. I see life as a rich tapestry of experiences so I think it’s important to see the lessons and appreciate the experiences, rather than trying to make life conform to our expectations. This can make it easier to be grateful too.
Does Gratitude come easily to you? What problems/issues do you find can block you from expressing/feeling Gratitude?
I think we all find it easy to be grateful when life seems to be ‘going our way’, but when life throws us unexpected situations, that’s when we need to dig deep to be grateful. I personally find it difficult to be grateful when I’m in one of those moods – when you feel the world is very bleak or things aren’t going your way. What I’ve found helpful is coming back to my centre of truth and journaling everything that is going on. Then I do a list of things that are making me feel happy right now. I think when you’re feeling low it can be difficult to feel grateful, so being able to get into a space of happiness or appreciation can be a powerful way to pull yourself out of negativity. In essence, re-framing the way we view gratitude can help.
One of my biggest blocks to expressing gratitude is expecting everything to be how I wish it to be before I feel grateful. This is such a trap! We can be grateful with how our lives are right now, even if they aren’t exactly as we would like them to be, because this is the attitude that helps us create what we want in our lives. Life is a process so we have to be patient. There are always blessings in our current situation, sometimes it just takes a bit of digging to find them. It’s not a defeat to admit things aren’t how you’d like them to be, but it’s important to realise that where you are right now is a valuable place to be.
From your current position right now you are in a place of potentiality – where you can receive all that you want when it is the right time. I remind myself that I can only do the best with what I have where I am. There’s no need to rush, just start where you are and enjoy each step of the journey.
What is a story of a blessing in your life you can share with us?
I have so many! One of the biggest blessings in my life was when I started writing my book two years ago. I had this yearning to write something that was meaningful, that would inspire people and would be meaningful to me, but I had no idea where to start. I tried first by myself and the story line was so forced and contrived – I knew I could do better but I didn’t know how.
There was something in my heart that told me a bigger, more powerful story was at play. So I meditated on it and connected with the infinite within (or whatever name you give that), and I was told to delete everything I had written. So I did. The next instant I got the idea for a whole new story, plus stories to follow it, and somehow they all linked together. All of the time periods, characters, plot ideas, historical facts, research articles, everything I needed just dropped into place. The best part was the writing flowed. I could write thousands of words everyday and kept getting ideas coming into my mind. It’s surreal to think how seamlessly it all came together!
The main lesson for my in this situation was to trust that inner calling and allow everything to come through me. Sometimes we get caught up in thinking we have to do everything all on our own, but we can always tap into our inner support network to help us. Connecting with that infinity and with those around us can help propel us in our personal and professional lives. We can reach higher levels in life by working together and surrendering control.
Do you have any go-to trip or tricks to help you practise an attitude of Gratitude?
Affirmations have always helped me to feel grateful, or get out of negative thinking. I started practising them to get out of the anxiety I was facing and I continue to use them now. It’s amazing how re-framing your fears can bring such a deep feeling of empowerment and elevation.
I love journaling too. Often our fears can get in the way of our gratitude, so I like to journal out my fears and rationally debate them. So say if you’re feeling worried about a particular situation, instead of bottling it up, it can be helpful to write out the fear then ask yourself ‘is this really true?’ because it’s almost always not. Then you can logically see why this fear is irrational, or how you can change the situation to go beyond fear.
I also like to journal all the things I want to bring into my life. I look back at these pages later to reaffirm that what I want is achievable. I think when we know our dreams are achievable we start to enjoy the present moment more, because we’re not worried that we won’t achieve our dreams. If our dreams are achievable, then it’s easy to look at where we are now and feel happy for this transitory period in our lives!
I’ve never found gratitude lists very helpful, so instead I like to sit after my meditation and feel gratitude. I sit there and feel the feeling of appreciation for all the things in my life that are making me grateful. I also do this in bed when I wake up, and before I go to sleep. I find that more powerful, maybe because I’m more of an emotive person. Feeling the feeling of gratitude is a good way to raise your mood up, and have that nice ‘warm-fuzzy’ feeling.
Ultimately, I think if you’re able to develop a deep trust for life, knowing that all will be ok, gratitude will come naturally. I cultivate that trust by re-framing my fears, journaling and connecting with the infinite within.
(to help us get to know you better!)
1. Are you a Morning person or a Night Owl?
Morning person! I’m so bad at staying up late at night. Even if I go out I’ll be absolutely exhausted by 1am and still wake up around 6am. I get my best work done at 5.30am-7am.
2. What is your go to exercise style/routine?
At the moment I’m loving doing a weights session three times a week at the gym. I have one session with a personal trainer and two to three sessions by myself. I don’t really do cardio because I don’t enjoy it and don’t have the stamina for it, so I stick to weights and a light cardio warm-up.
I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years now so I do my own practice at home, usually in the morning or evening or both just to stretch out. I think being active in some form everyday is important. My favourite way to get some fresh air and sunshine is to go for a walk along the beach, or in nature generally.
3. What was the last amazing book you read that you just need to share with all of us??
I read so many books! Usually a combination of self-help, fiction, historical non-fiction and classic literature. I just finished reading The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock which is all about Georgian England and how a mermaid can bring both prosperity and destruction. I love the symbolism in it and the mysterious qualities of the mermaid. Historical fiction is definitely my go-to.
I’ve read a lot of self-help books, some of my favourites are Many Lives Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss, Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer and of course You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.
I also love classics, especially Walden by Henry David Thoreau. You’d be surprised at how many spiritual truths are in classic literature. Thoreau’s poetry has a lot of wisdom about living simply – especially how our connection with nature and with ourselves can help us to live a fulfilled life, regardless of what else is going on.
4. What feeds your soul and makes you happy on a daily basis?
Meditation is a big one for me. If I don’t meditate for a day or two, I definitely feel it. Meditation just helps me to think clearly and without it I don’t know what I’d do!
Writing and working on my blog and YouTube really feeds my soul. I think purpose is really important in life so doing what gives me a sense of purpose is a priority. When we do something that contributes to society and humanity at large, we are apart of something greater than ourselves. I think if we focus too much on our own individuality, we get lost in superficiality. Whatever gives you a sense of purpose is what you should follow.
5. Number one beauty tip/ what beauty products would we find in your make up bag?
My number one beauty tip is to treat yourself lovingly – to see your own beauty, to smile and laugh often and to be around people that make you happy, but also to do things for yourself that make you happy. I think when you really embody this happiness and joy, it shines from you and people around you notice.
I love makeup and skincare and I see it as a way to enhance your own natural beauty, rather than to cover up what you don’t like about yourself. All of my makeup and skincare is certified organic or as natural as possible because I have quite sensitive skin and I am prone to redness. Some of my favourite products are 100% Pure Bamboo Blur Powder and Long Last Brows, Zuii liquid foundation, RMS Lip2Cheek in Diabolique and Modest, and of course 100% Pure Ultra Lengthening mascara. My favourite lip balm that I use everyday is by Toby and Rosie, and my favourite skincare brand is Pai because all their products are formulated for sensitive skin.
6. It is your last meal on earth: What do you choose? (don’t forget dessert!)
Ooh that’s a tough one! I would choose a good veggie burger, something with mushrooms and a good cheese like Gouda or Jarlsberg. For dessert I would have a whole tub of coconut ice cream with a brownie. I love indulgent food more than lollies or anything too sugary.
7. Where are we likely to find you on the weekend?
Going for a walk (or swim) down at the beach, or reading in my room. I love writing so I take a notebook with me everywhere and sometimes like to escape into nature and write whatever comes to mind. I also love painting so often I’ll be outside in my garden painting European country landscapes.
8. What is the most embarrassing thing you have done, that you can laugh back upon now?
I can’t think of anything that’s happened recently but when I was little I was very embarrassing for my mum. I used to do whatever I felt like so sometimes I would sneak into her room and put on makeup (badly) then insist on wearing it all day as we went around doing errands. I also used to do things like ‘pretending to be a statue’ on a particular family vacation or read out explicit graffiti on public toilets. I was such a crazy child! Now I think back to those times and just laugh because I would honestly rather have been a crazy child with funny stories than to have been boring and the same as everyone else.
9. You have a whole day to just lie on the couch (or bed) with endless popcorn, what is your go-to Binge watch pleasure?
Outlander! I got absolutely hooked on it last year and binge watched all of seasons 1-2, then watched season 3 when it came out. I think it’s the mixture of magic and history that I love the most.
10. Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer? Why?
I love autumn because that’s when my birthday is, and the colours of the leaves, plus the crisp air and sunshine adds to the atmosphere. It’s such a nice time to rug up and get snuggly with a cup of tea and a good book. Although, I love summer because I love swimming in the ocean and not having to worry about getting cold! I only like winter if I’m in Europe and it’s snowing, just because the atmosphere is so magical. I can’t pick just one!
11. Best piece of advice you have been given/or learned?
The best piece of advice I’ve learned is quite recently, but it made a big impact on me. My meditation teacher told me that we don’t have to make our path harder than it needs to be.
Sometimes, we think to pursue our passion will be hard because everyone keeps telling us that it will be. I realised that this isn’t true, because our path in life is only as bumpy or smooth as we allow it to be. It doesn’t have to be excruciatingly hard for us to be successful, nor does it have to be a piece of cake.
Our journey to whatever we want in life can be simply that – a journey. It can be fun, joyous, experimental and successful. We don’t have to expect it to be a hard slog in order to achieve the success we desire. That’s the thing with life, it’s made up of moments and the last thing you want is to waste all those moments trying to get ‘to the top’ and realise you’ve been rushing through your whole life.
I’ve definitely re-framed the way I view my path and now I find myself more at ease with my work because I realised that life can be fun and peaceful. I feel like I can actually enjoy the moments I have, while working towards where I want to go.
To Finish please finish this sentence:
I am Beautifully Grateful for…
My life, my health and my amazing friends.
You can find more about the amazing Claudia by heading to her:
YouTube: Claudia Merrill
Facebook: Claudia Merrill Official
Pinterest: Claudia Merrill