Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Hello fear!

I've been wondering what this week's post will be about. Especially when it didn't show itself last week!

What usually happens is a word, a situation, or an experience will present itself and contain the stirrings of a post. And I'll 'know' that it is a post. But not this week. Or last.

And its not like there's been nothing to write about - it's probably more that my inner censor has decided that certain topics or events are 'too big' to write about or get into. It's my old mate fear, hovering over my left shoulder, watching my every thought and choice, tricking me into believing I can't,  I shouldn't and so eventually I don't.

Last night I was rummaging in my desk drawer looking for a sign - something, anything! to point me toward a blog post.


I found this...



It's an excerpt from Rumi's poem, The Guest House, which is stuck up on the wall across from my desk.

Why? Because it's been a great comfort to me of late.





Being human and a traveller on this journey called 'life' we will naturally encounter and experience a myriad of emotions over and over again.

Some of them are fleeting - often the joyous ones, the ones we love to feel, the ones that make our heart soar - the ones we try so desperately to cling to. Others hang around like a bad smell - they are the ones we do everything we can to avoid - fear, anger, rage, resentment - the list goes on. But it seems the more we wish them away, the more insistent they are, and stay!



Rumi reminds us that each 'new arrival' is a guest to be honoured - whether it be happiness or heaviness - there is something to be gained.

The notion that they may be clearing me out for some new delight has helped me move from unease and bewilderment and toward greater calm and acceptance.




The real comfort comes from Rumi's message - that each feeling and thought are a part of the wisdom of this mysterious and wonderful universe, sent to teach us and help us learn and grow. And although I may not understand each visitor's purpose at the time of their arrival, I can boil the kettle and settle in knowing that the lesson will unfold.

Friday, 28 November 2014

A sign of support

Last week while walking Harvey through the forest an Echidna scuttled across the path, right in front of us! He stopped of course, as soon as Harvey started barking at him, curling himself into a tight ball, quills raised ready to defend and protect.

Such an unexpected sight, I knew I'd have to look up my Animal Dreaming book to see what Echidnas represent.

As we know, and saw, at the sign of threat they will dig themselves into the ground leaving only their quills visible - a great deterrent, this mechanism shuts them off from the world.

Scott Alexander King, author of Animal Dreaming, writes that while this action protects them from attack, it can also unfortunately shield them from any assistance or support offered by those who would see no harm come to them.




Hmmm...I am beginning to feel uncomfortable in my skin - the Echidna sounds a lot like me.

I read on.


"Open your heart to the needs of those around you and the nurturing they can offer. Stop shutting people out. You need to let down your guard, relax your sense of personal protection, develop tolerance and begin to trust."



It was like he was talking directly to me.

"Echidna helps us understand the fundamental distinction between denial and determination,
or...the difference between not wanting assistance and not needing support."

I am definitely someone who likes to be independent, but the warning he gives to be wary of being too independent, to the point where one may be seen as distant, ungrateful, unapproachable came across loud and clear.

I've felt the quills come up. They usually accompany the old belief that I should be able to do this... on my own. Stubborn creature aren't I? And I know this attitude gives off the energy that I don't need help, or want it, doing just what the animal psychic said - shutting me off from the rest of my world.

I really like to support others and help in any way I can. This Echidna has reminded me that I too need help at times - we all do - we're human. And it's high time I relaxed those quills of mine, let down my guard and soften to the beautiful people around me who want to see me succeed and be well.

NOTE: this post is dedicated to those people - family and friends - old and new, who have patiently supported me and shared the journey so far... With love and gratitude : ) xxxx

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The comfort in change

You know how last week I realised it's all about the journey, well the question that has plagued me during difficult times, is how to be with 'what is' - with the journey as it's unfolding - when we don't like 'what is'?

It's easy enough to enjoy and appreciate the 'good times', the happy times, even the times when we are just cruising along - no particular ups or downs, just cruising so to speak; content.

But what about the potholes, like the one I hit on Tuesday, that you're just about to crawl your way out of but lose your footing?

Yesterday I felt like there was no way out of that pothole.

It was one of those days where I couldn't wait for night to come so I could go to bed and escape the pain in my belly and my mind. I replayed those same unanswerable questions of years gone by over and over, hoping that I'd discover a new insight, a way forward, a step to take in the 'right' direction, something to ease the suffering.

But all it did was keep me stuck in the hole.

I wanted to get out but I didn't know how. There was no hope left to propel me up and onto not-so-shaky ground.

Today I am none the wiser re answers to the seemingly unanswerable questions I have about my health and the pain, but after listening to Pema Chodron, I have been able to climb out of the pothole and with hindsight, see what I was doing that was keeping me stuck.

In a talk on freeing ourselves from 'fixed-mind', from the recording called Walking the Walk, she says  that we think things are solid - our mind fixates, freezes things.



We get triggered or 'hooked' and our mind finds it difficult to let go. Our mind becomes fixed. Frozen. We think that thoughts and feelings and life itself are solid, when they're actually not - they're fluid.

Somehow this morning I was able to see that I had been doing this. That yesterday my mind became fixated on the feelings of despair and uncertainty. I was hooked and got carried away with the seven-year story of my ill-health and thoughts of no end, no hope filled me with fear. I felt paralysed - like there was no way out of the hole, and even if there was, what was the point?


I was in 'fixed-mind', and thanks to Pema Chodron, not only did I realise that, I was reminded that our thoughts and feelings are fluid and changing.

As is life - it is change. My health status changes. The pain changes. My thoughts and feelings about my health change.

But for some reason yesterday I did a really good job of solidifying and as a result, suffering.



She finishes up with what I consider to be very good news - that our natural state of mind is open and that we can return to open-mind in any moment and at any time. That open-mind exists and is part of our natural state is for me, an extreme comfort. As is the knowledge and wisdom that everything is fluid and changing.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Not there yet

Five seconds into the drive home from yoga this morning I am faced with a decision - which way will I go? Straight ahead or turn right at the fountain? My mind tries to work out which route will get me home the quickest so that I can get on with my day.

I choose to turn right. The light is red so I know I will have to wait a few seconds, but I'm ok with that - a few seconds won't hurt...

I get the go-ahead and turn on the green arrow. I don't get far - the next light turns red. I sigh. Then off I go again for a couple of hundred metres, until the next set of lights also turns red. Another sigh. And on it goes, every set of lights, all the way up Mitchell Street at 7.17 in the morning.



The sky was pretty, the air fresh, there was no emergency but I felt the irritation rise with every stop.When I got to the roundabout and yes, had to once more stop for oncoming cars, I saw what I was doing and I laughed - because I still believe, no matter how many times I've read otherwise, that the destination is more important than the journey.

And this, I sadly realised, I apply to almost everything I do...
Yoga - can't wait to do it, but want it to be over.
Eating - want to, yes, hungry, but want to finish so that I can do the next thing.
Writing blog posts - keen, but can't wait to press publish!
Walking Harvey - which track cos I've also got to blah, blah, blah...

Tick, tick, tick, tick. I'm a list person and I like to tick things off it. This doesn't make the list any smaller though - I just keep adding to it! So the list will never end. And I'm so busy planning the next 'destination' that the current journey and all that it offers is lost. Wasted.


I had a chat with a counsellor up at Uni this morning, just to sort through my choice to be a full-time student. He'd only known me for about 15 minutes before he said, "It's like you're running a marathon but you want to get to the end as quick as you can!" Hmmmm. Another affirmation that the destination is more important than the journey.

Does it really matter? I muse, as I sit here right now, writing these words. As long as I'm happy, right? But am I?

Life is ALL ABOUT THE JOURNEY, isn't it? I mean, that's what life is - it's a journey. And the ultimate destination, as my yoga teacher has reminded me a number of times, is death. Why would I want to rush to there?


It's definitely time to take off the blinkers, look around and BE where I am - whether I want to be there or not, cos that's where life happens - NOW.  

Those red lights are my new wake up-call, my cue back to consciousness, to the present, where the richness of life unfolds and gives me the chance to really live.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Am I ready?

My days are now quite different than what they have been for the past four years. I'm a full-time Masters student now.
I have a thesis to write!
Each week day I come in to my Uni office and 'work'. I read. I write. I read some more.
These are things I love doing, but this week I'm not feeling the love.


This week it feels difficult and hard and overwhelming and lonely. And I can't quite get my head around the why.

I'm not telling you this so that you'll send messages of support - I'm telling you because this is where I'm at. And because I'm human.

I'm a human being struggling with something she's never done before. I've hit the hurdle of doubt. The problem - an uncertainty about what I'm doing and how I'm going to do it.

But all this reading and searching led me quite unexpectedly to these words of wisdom yesterday afternoon -

Every problem implies a question: are you ready to embody what you say you believe? 
Can you reach within yourself for enough clarity, strength, forgiveness, serenity, 
love, patience, and faith to turn this around?

Am I ready?
Can I find those things within me and turn this problem around before I let it paralyse me?
I want to.
I want to believe that clarity exists - that I can see clearly - that sometimes its just clouded over by doubt.
I want to believe I have enough strength, energy, determination, to see this thing through.
I want to believe there is enough forgiveness - for myself and my doubt, and that I may touch serenity often, despite my uncertainty. 

Love, well, it's a hope that never wavers, a hope there is enough to continue to light the way forward. And may it keep me patient enough to return to the desk, day in day out.

And what can I say about faith?
It's the very thing I have counted on every day since I embarked on this journey.

Yes I have faith in the hidden construct that enables life to be life, but faith in myself - that I'm not so sure about.

But maybe it's time to find out.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

An unexpected beauty

Today I don't want to give you a big story about the words I'm about to share with you.

I just want to type them and click 'publish' and let the magic speak for itself.

But I feel a little introduction is necessary - so consider this brief!

I've been listening to Tara Brach, a Buddhist meditation teacher and wise wise woman, talk about acceptance and love and worthiness on my ipod for over a year now. And it all makes sense. In fact I love it so much that I recently decided to buy her book of the same name: Radical Acceptance.

It arrived last week. And it is beautiful - the feel of the cover, the colours, the weight of the book, the texture of the pages - oh! I am wondering what took me so long to order it?



And she has such a beautiful way about her, the way she tells stories to illustrate the teachings, her down-to-earth and kind approach to matters of the mind and heart. And it's just as easy to read as she is to listen to.

She opens the book with a famous Rumi quote that I have heard her recite over and over again. I know I said I'd keep the intro brief, but I really want to share it too - so here it is:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.

Sigh.

But it is the poem she begins chapter two with, by Antonio Machado, that prompted this post. I'll leave you with it... xx

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt - marvelous error! -
that I had a beehive
here in side my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Enough

Today I am not at Uni. My daughter is not feeling well so I will work from home. There is plenty to read - always - so I have plenty to do.

But for just a moment I contemplated what it would be like if I didn't have to do any work today. No reading. No writing. No thesis to think of or post to post.

What if I was to let it all go?

What if I was to live the life I've always worked so hard to avoid?
The life that is Mum and Wife?
Just that.

I can see the days turning into weeks and then months and all of a sudden the years will have passed, years of washing and cleaning and cooking and shopping and ...

This line of thinking has always scared me, cos if I did live that life, of Mum and Wife, then I'm afraid I'll wake up one day and regretfully wonder :
What have you done with your life?

That's the pattern. Until today.
Today another question spoke up.

Today I asked, Do you have to do anything else with it?

If you've lived it with a peaceful mind and a joyous heart, isn't that enough?

If you've loved and laughed and learnt from everything that's come your way, isn't that enough? 

If you gave everything you had to everything you did, wouldn't that be enough...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Get real

This letting go has taken me into new terrain.

Friday's pain had me seeking further understanding around judgment and blame.

While contemplating my present situation it dawned on me that I ask far more of myself than I do of others. It seems I have made up two sets of rules - one that I live by and another set that I insist everyone else live by.

Your set says reach out. Share your story. It's ok to feel how you feel. It's ok to ask for help. It's ok to be human.
My set says I should know by now. I should know what to do. I shouldn't feel this way. I have to do this on my own. It's not ok to be human.

I'm not sure how or why this happened, but when did I decide that it's ok for everyone else to be human but me?


The past few years of ill-health have definitely taken their toll, and instead of me being kind to myself and cutting myself some slack, I did the opposite - I judged myself harshly, criticising myself for what I was going through. My self-talk was riddled with shoulds. And should is loaded with blame and guilt.

Where was the compassion I had so often given to others? The gentle accepting voice, supporting and soothing; the good listener hearing all that was hurting; the patience and care for the sufferer and their suffering?

Now at this point I could've heaped a whole lot more criticism -  more blame, more guilt - onto myself for treating myself with such disdain.

But this time I didn't.
This time I saw the truth and I saw myself differently.
I realised my humanity.

This was my journalled response:
I want to be human don't I?
I want to experience life just like everyone else.
How can I be of any use to anyone else if I don't allow myself to be human? 
I don't want to be unreachable, untouchable - I want to be real. 

So...It's definitely time I ditched my set of rules and started living by the ones I let everyone else live by. Something else to let go of...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Perfectly whole

If you've been following my blog, you'll know that I'm a recovering control freak and a perfectionist. I'm not proud of either of these titles, but rather than pretend these parts of me don't exist I've decided to be open to them and even curious about them. Hell, I might even celebrate them!

Yesterday someone told me that I am 'already perfect'. This wasn't someone who knows me very well, so it wasn't coming from a place of flattery and pleasantry - it was delivered as fact. A universal truth. I frowned. It's not the first time I've heard it - and not the first time I've struggled with it.

My relentless strive for perfection is an obvious testimony to the belief I have about myself :  I'm not perfect...yet.  And it's a nasty belief to have.

I'm not perfect yet is like an insidious disease - it eats away at your confidence and undermines your self-esteem. It taunts you with a promise that I'm not sure will ever be reached or fulfilled - cos who says what's perfect and what isn't? My judging mind and critical eye are the first to say No... not good enough. So when will I ever measure up to my over-blown unrealistic expectations?

I won't.

All night the word 'perfect' kept popping into my mind. I vowed on falling asleep to look it up this morning.

Joy. Three definitions were available, with the number one in pole position for a very good reason.

Coming in third place were the words 'very satisfactory'. Hmmm...I can live with that. But it's still open to judgement - something I'm trying to let go of ; )

In second place, was the word 'faultless' with the example, 'a perfect diamond'. This definition is the one that I have let rule my choices and my life - at my expense. Faultless... knowing I am not this is what has driven me to distraction (and perfection).  Let the diamond be perfect and get on with being human Gena. Enough said.

But coming in first, with surprise and delight, was the definition I have needed for years. It shatters every ridiculous ideal I have of faultless perfection into a million tiny pieces of insignificance - 'complete; not deficient.'

Goose bumps. I sigh with relief. My days of believing I am fundamentally flawed are over.

If I am 'perfect', then I am complete, whole. Not deficient or lacking. This is not to say that I won't continue to seek, evolve and grow. But the intention will be powered by curiosity and my love for learning - not so that I may become faultless and flawless - but whole.
From the Twigseeds Contemplation Cards Volume One





Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Know friend of mine

As you know, I like to know.

I'm a seeker - I'm curious about life and the stuff that happens to us and what we can do with it and how we can learn from it.

I consider this desire to be a healthy one. It assumes that I don't know which grants me the space to explore, to expand, to grow.  Not knowing invites possibilities. It begs that I be inquisitive and open and aware. All great qualities to develop and enhance.

But there is part of me - yes the control freak - who wants to know the time, the weather, how long we'll be there for, what's on the menu, when we'll be back, what we're doing Saturday, Sunday, Monday...aaaarggghhh! That kind of wanting to know is different -  I know.

Since I wrote last week's post I've been thinking a lot about control. It comes so easily and naturally to me that I can't imagine giving it up ; ) But I am smart enough to know that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

That kind of knowing - when, where, and how, down to the nth detail - leaves little room for spontaneity. It's all about structure and the purpose is purpose. There's no time to lose - every second counts. No wonder it feels like Groundhog Day. And what do you think that does to my creativity? My curiosity?  It's like my openness and awareness have to fight for visiting rights and as for fun and frivolity... well these days they're rarely allowed out!

But I know what's going on here - I've studied myself for long enough to know there's more to it than wanting the power that comes with control - that's just an illusion. What it's covering is fear. Basically I'm scared.

I'm afraid of what could happen and that I won't cope with whatever that may be. Somewhere along the way I've lost faith in myself and my ability to handle what life throws at me. Knowing exactly what's going on and planning (controlling) as much as I can is my safety blanket - it helps me avoid (resist) unnecessary suffering.
If  I do x then I'll get z  which equals happiness. But does it?


Sigh. There are no guarantees.
So what do you think happens when I don't get the outcome I predicted?
You can probably picture it.
Let's just say it's not a pretty sight!
The reality is I end up stressed, which creates more suffering - the thing I was trying to avoid in the first place.
Another sigh.





I think what's happened is I've forgotten who I am and what I believe.

It's time for an injection of faith - in myself and in this amazing thing called life that continues to provide me with everything I need to survive and thrive.

It's time to make friends with the fear.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Out of control

Letting go.

I think it's the biggest lesson I'm here to learn.

And I struggle with it, as you know.

So I've started to seek out the wisdom of others, hoping to get some help with getting my head around it.

My latest assistant is Hugh Prather and his book, "The little book of Letting Go."

But it's not as little as I'd like it to be! I ordered it from interstate and when it arrived the other day I was disappointed by how big it was. I must've been subconsciously hoping it would be small in size, my mind equating 'little' with 'quick and easy'.

I was still hopeful when I began reading this 'little book' in bed last night. A dozen pages in and all was going well - it was making sense - a lot of sense - and I thought this is do-able. Then I got to page 17 and all hope was lost. 



My eyes were drawn to the highlighted box at the bottom of the page where it said, "There are only three things you need to let go of..." I was rapt. Only three things?! This book is probably way longer than it needs to be  I mused, and then read on...
"...judging, controlling and being right."
 
I laughed. Out loud. And hard. It was incredulous. Preposterous even. He wants me to let go of judging, controlling and being right - only the three hardest things for a control freak like me to let go of?! And yes I know they're extremely damaging and detrimental to my health, happiness and relationships, but at the age of 43 and having done them most of my life, and now being quite good at them, how on earth am I going to let go of them?

This letting go was going to be much harder than I thought.

I am a self-confessed control freak. Which judging and being right go hand in hand with. We control freaks strive for perfection - there is no room for error.  Everything has to be just right - including us. We need to know what's happening when where and with whom, at all times. We don't know how to go with the flow - and we don't want to.  We want to feel in control - secure, safe, and seriously satisfied. We 'put in' and we 'expect', and when things don't go our way we judge and criticise and crawl our way back to control.

And don't get me started on the 'being right' bit ! I am reminded of Wayne Dyer, another favourite author of all that is wise, who has often stated the question: Would you rather be right or happy? You don't know how many times I have asked myself that question and so badly wanted me to answer happy - but I don't.  My power need kicks in and the control freak in me would rather be right.

Oh dear - it seems then that there is much work to be done.

Although now that I am writing about this and reflecting, there has already been a swing in the balance. These days I am leaning more toward wanting to be peaceful rather than wanting to be right. Peace more than anything,... more wise words from Wayne Dyer that come to mind and are finally beginning to resonate.

It's that peace in my mind and heart that I long for. To feel ok with who I am and what's happening around me, knowing that things will be tough and trusting that they are happening for my highest potential.

I know I'll be better off by letting go of judging, controlling and being right, and I know it won't be easy, but it's definitely a worthy goal.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Surrounded with support

Today this post comes to you from a different place. It's still from my heart, but this morning it sits with me in my new office at La Trobe Uni where I am embarking on my next venture - a Research Masters.

My mission is to write about the healing power of love and forgiveness using the experiences I have been through these past few years as the fuel for the fire. And let's face it - there's plenty to use!

I have been given a desk in an office on the third floor of the Arts building. The view, the place, the space - I am very grateful for them, but it feels a little strange. And lonely.

I know that writing is mostly a solitary act but when I write at home I feel comfortable and happy and safe. I have created a space that feels welcoming - my desk is always a pleasure to sit at. At home I am surrounded with the love that fills it via its inhabitants, be they people or pet. And then there are the trinkets and treasures, many of which are my books that offer relentless support.

I have brought a few special bits and pieces in with me over the past few days and it's beginning to feel more 'like home'.

My newest addition is a set of cards I've had for years, called Angels with Attitude. It's been a while since I've used them, so I did what I do - I shuffled them and held them and shuffled them again, while I wondered what 'Angel' might come to me.

Of all the days, this was the one...


This card reminded me that support shows up in many ways. We automatically think of people - and there have been a few supportive 'angels' that have flown into my day today, quite unexpectedly too... thank you <3 

But what about the support we get from the sun, the stars, the spoon? Assistance and encouragement can come from the inanimate too. All that exists around us that we take for granted or don't even realise is there that helps us.

A great source of support for me has been the beautiful poet, David Whyte. He doesn't know this of course, but I have been moved to tears and goosebumps on many occasions while reading and listening to his poetry. His wisdom is like a hug and a gentle nudge all at once - comforting yet at the same time urging you to be brave and face the next frontier.

This is one such piece. I share it with you today because it reminds me that I am not alone.

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

  
David Whyte

from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press


As I sit typing the end of this post I 'put down the weight of my aloneness and ease into the conversation' going on around me - the old brown timber desk resting under my forearms, the wind rushing through the trees outside my window, the pens and pencils eagerly awaiting their turn to write...and allow the intimacy of my surroundings to support me.

I am thankful for all that is waiting for me.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Just say yes

I had a revelation of sorts on Sunday afternoon. This one didn't come from a book - it came from the couch. And I say 'of sorts' because yes, something was revealed to me from seemingly out of nowhere, but as I write about it in this post, I know this is just the beginning - all is yet to be revealed.

I was outside lounging on the patio couch and had just finished a cup of Afternoon Tea. The sky was blue. The sun was warm. The breeze was soft. Time slowed right down. I felt immensely peaceful. And content. And my mind was surprisingly still. I noticed. And then I wondered - Is this what it means to be without suffering... to not want the moment to be any different to what it is?

Hmmm. And then this thought -  If so, I guess that's what it means to be accepting.

These ideas were still churning through my mind when I woke Monday morning, so I did as the seeker does - I went straight to the dictionary. This helps me get my head around concepts that I'm grappling with and opens me up to new possibilities, and accepting is one of those tricky topics I've needed help with for some time. In fact, I find it one of the most difficult things to conceive and do - especially when things are going 'wrong'.

To accept, my faithful dictionary says, is to consent to receive.

I thought about this for a bit. In my experience, the consent we give can range from a resounding 'yes' right through to a reluctant 'ok'. Our receivership can be governed by any one of the emotions ranging from a  welcoming gladness right through to neutrality and beyond into the realms of resentment and disdain. From arms wide open to folded firmly across our chest. Positivity, adequacy,validity and negativity all seem to have their time and place when it comes to acceptance.

My mind drifted back to Sunday afternoon on the couch. Was I so accepting because of the pleasantness I was experiencing in the sun on that perfect Spring afternoon? 

It's easy to accept the so-called 'good' - the positive and the pleasant. When things are going the way we want them to we don't even notice that we're accepting - we just are. But what about the times when things are tough, difficult, distasteful? When we're in pain, be it physical or emotional, and there is no pleasant. How do we accept what's happening when we really don't want what's happening to be happening?

That is the question that has been plaguing me for years. How do we say yes to pain and turmoil when our heart is screaming no! When its in our very nature to flee, repel, resist?

I don't know the answer to that but I do know that the more I repress, reject, refuse, wish, and hope for things to be different, the more I suffer and the more I feel stuck. I'm just coming out of a particularly hard week, one that saw me wrestling with and wanting to deny all that wasn't wanted, and I can honestly say that the more I said no to what was going on in and around me, the worse I felt.

I want to be different next time. The pain will still come. Difficulties will develop. That's life. And it happens to us all. But if I want to lessen the suffering by not causing more, then I think I will have to start saying yes.

It won't be easy, but the yes doesn't have to enthusiastic or wholehearted - I don't have to like the thing that's happening, but I do need to stop saying no to unwanted situations and circumstances. For my sake, and for the sake of those around me.

I have to let go and let 'yes' do its job.

'Yes' is at it's most basic is a validation and acknowledgement. And maybe from that place I can open up and allow life to be what it is - instead of arguing with reality I can see it clearly, and surrender to the notion that everything is on schedule.

FYI, I'm a control-freak by nature and am really good at saying no, so I can guarantee that I will get plenty of practise at this yes-business as time goes by. In fact, the more I think about it the more it seems it's all about letting go.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Time to play

They say that a lesson is repeated until it's learnt.

When it comes to understanding how to bring balance to my life I feel like I'm back in Kindergarten. Except I'm not your average kid - the one who happily goes from one fun activity to the next. No. I'm all work, no play. Everything has to be purposeful, meaningful. It's all gotta count - I can't waste a minute. Fun is frivolous and to be had when the work is done.

You don't have to tell me - I'm way outta whack I know. And I'm feeling its effects.


Last night I was on the phone to my husband who spends every second week away for work (that's definitely not fun for me). Anyway, I was telling him how I feel like every day is the same lately - very ho-hum and very little fun.

While we were talking I decided to randomly choose a card from my little G-jar.

Balance.
Hmmm. This is nothing new.


I've drawn this card before and delved right into its possible meanings. Is it about balancing head and heart? Or the so-called positive and negative aspects of my self? Or maybe distributing my time more equally among the realms of the mental, the emotional, the physical and the spiritual? I have pondered it all.

Or at least I thought I had until this morning.

I came into my office to start writing what was to be a different post to this, and saw the balance card resting where I had left it last night. And then it hit me : There is not enough balance between work and play. Even though I don't have a formal 'job', I am always working!


I work on words - reading them, writing them , understanding them, which I love, but it never stops. And when I'm not doing that, I'm doing housework. And when I'm not doing that, I'm running errands or cooking tea. Or reading more words!

 And when I do get some 'free time' I want to use it wisely - I can't bear the thought of wasting it. So what do I do with it? I use it to be productive. And I work some more.

Today I am meant to be on jury duty, and with relief, I am not required till tomorrow. Good -because I have so much work to do and I'll be able to get heaps done!  But my enthusiasm waned when I thought of spending all day at the desk, especially with a sore belly. At the same time I had just text a beautiful friend, updating her on my health status. Her reply was the antidote I didn't know I needed. It was an invitation to play. To be spontaneous. To do something out of my ordinary. To have fun.

What if I've got it all wrong? What if the pushing and striving - work harder, work now, work more! is what needs balance? Goosebumps.

I think my response says it all.  I replied maybe, but didn't really want to. For once I wanted to say a big strong YES!

Researchers tell us how important play is to creativity and psychologists tell us that fun is an intrinsic fundamental need. Besides all that, it just feels good.

I think I've learnt my lesson. The work can wait - I need some fun!

When it comes to balancing work and play, consider me moving into Grade 1 ; )

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Because I can

We have this neighbour. She is a healthy, active, compassionate, giving,  middle-aged chick with a great sense of humour who cares a lot about pets and people - probably in that order. (And she'd probably like me saying that.)

I found out a few days ago that she is in a hospital in Melbourne. She came off her bike while riding through our beautiful forest - a place I would usually see her walk to or from every other day. A head injury. A coma. And now in the land of recovery and rehabilitation which has no certainties.

I was on my way to walk Harvey through that same forest when I got the news from another lovely neighbour. Shocked. Devastated. How could this have happened to her? The remark that such a thing could happen to one who was so healthy...

Health has nothing to do with the rock you hit along the path.

My first instinct was, can I visit? Shortly followed by what can I cook for her partner? She's not up for visitors and her partner is with her for an unknown period down in Melbourne. Well what else can I do????

Every time I had this thought I went into 'worry' about her and a sense of helplessness would wash over me. And if what they say is true - that thought is energy and energy is everywhere - then I am not helping her one bit by thinking worrying thoughts.

So I did what Kiki taught me. Each time I drive or walk past her house I picture her smiling and happy and feel love for her in my heart. I imagine her well and healthy and cracking some joke.

But I want to do more! Wandering home from a walk on Sunday, facing her house, I asked what would A.M. want me to do...

The answer - not waste a moment. How dare I let this day pass by unnoticed, on auto-pilot, while wanting the next day to hurry up and come.

I can't anymore. And I don't want to. And each time I slip back into self-pity whether it be about my gut aching or having to do housework or groceries that I don't feel like doing, A.M. springs to mind and I wake up again and remember, No! no more feeling victimised...you get to choose.

So from now on, as often as possible, I'm choosing to live the moments with the life I was given.

And no, this doesn't mean I'm about to make a bucket-list and start ticking things off it. It means living - engaging with what's unfolding and appreciating what I'm doing, no matter how menial or mundane. And taking delight in the pleasure of the sun's warmth and the carpet under my feet. Because I can. Because I'm not in a hospital bed unable to feed myself or remember how I got there.

This one's for you A.M. ...

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

What to see

It's been a rough morning. I won't bore you with the details, but it was one of those mornings when nothing seemed to go right.


After doing an hour of writing for my Uni work I decided to take a break. I took my cup of tea and part two of breakfast to my desk. Not my computer desk, where I'd spent the past hour, but my writing desk - the place where I relax and explore - what's out the window as well as what's on my mind.



I have lots of  books and cards on my desk and felt drawn to a set of wellbeing cards. I shuffled them as I sipped and nibbled until one card fell out. Must be what I need to know I mused.

I laughed. Out loud.
It was exactly what I needed to know.



Boy, did I ever.
I turned the card over to read the card's deeper meaning.

 
It was the last part of the message that helped me change my view : ..."it is my dominant intention to see that which I am wanting to see."
 
When I read this I realised that my intention was to see the morning as bad, awful, wrong. I even used the words nothing seemed to go right at the beginning of this post. But was that really true? Had everything gone wrong? Everything? Or was I just seeing it that way?
 
When I looked back, plenty had gone right. In fact, most of the morning's rituals occurred with little fuss - it was me who was flustered - I had let myself get caught up in the minor difficulties which distracted me from the dominant intention - feeling good and seeing the good.
 
We all do it - it's easy to fall prey to what's not working and then stay stuck in that perspective. But this card reminds us that we get to choose - we can reclaim our power by changing our focus and seeing what it is we want to see.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

What wants to be written

I have been in a bit of a bubble of late. The last five days have had me immersed in the Bendigo Writers Festival. As a student of the Writers in Action subject offered through LaTrobe University, I was required to attend the festival and pretty much learn as much as I could. And then write!

I have many writings ready to put on the page for my folio, but they'll have to wait - it's been over a week since I've written for Seeker & Sage and I feel called to write this post first.



But with so many thoughts and inspirations to pursue from the festival, I have been wondering what to write about.

The words of the beautiful, talented and wise author, Sue Woolfe are ringing in my ears.  At a private workshop on Sunday morning titled Unlocking Creativity she said,
"I want you to find your heart."

Goose bumps. My mind went immediately to Seeker & Sage.
I am I thought... I am trying to find my heart. Every post I write comes from my heart. This to me was very affirming - I felt like I was on the right track.

But she hadn't finished.

"I want you to take risks... I want you to be really brave.
I want you to try and find the thing that you almost dare not say.
Once you find what that is you will never be able to stop writing."

The room was silent. And very still. She had hit us with it - the big cohuna. And it hit me hard.

I had been honest, yes. Followed my intuition and trusted it to deliver - and it had. But there were many uncanny moments and profound learnings that I felt I couldn't write about. My ego, always wanting to serve and protect, judged them as being 'too big'. Whenever I had the urge and the instinct to write those things that I almost dare not say, fear got the better of me.

Sometimes I have touched on them and hit 'publish' with a rapid heart beat and held breath. But after listening to Sue Woolfe I realised I have witheld a lot. I have been brave to a point, but I know I've been sharing what's within my comfort zone.

So 28 posts on, the bubble has burst. It's time to be really brave and try and find the thing that I almost dare not say... and say it!

It's time to write what wants to be written.


Monday, 4 August 2014

What matters most

This morning was an interesting one.

I have recently restarted my morning yoga practice. I went to the mat, reluctantly, even though I know that doing yoga relaxes me and I feel better for doing it.

Why I wondered, did I not want to practice? I noticed my agitated mind grow more and more fidgety as the minutes ticked by. Frustrated with myself for feeling so irritated, I couldn't wait to be finished!

Getting busy with the morning's usual rituals like cooking toast and cutting fruit would surely help... but it didn't. I wanted to scream. Standing in the middle of the kitchen amid the chaos and the crumbs I could see that my mind was behaving like a broken record - over and over the same problem played itself out. 

I was stuck - in a past I couldn't change.

Feelings of guilt and shame fuelled my inner judge  - Why didn't you...? You could've... You should've... What were you thinking...?

I tried to be mindful - to break the cycle of these destructive thoughts. I zoned in on the Vegemite, it's smell, texture, colour...  but my mind was too strong.

In desperation I turned my face to the ceiling and asked for help. I am not a religious person, but spiritual, yes. Please... give me some perspective I pleaded.

Lunches made and dishes done I went to get my mobile phone - I wanted to text my husband who was in Melbourne for a work trip. I turned on the phone and as I was texting him a text came through from my sister. I wasn't expecting her message, nor was I expecting her news and the reaction it would invoke.

The disappointments and tragedies she talked of were the reason she had been so busy. But they had also served as timely reminders - they had helped her gain some perspective on her own worries. And this in turn changed mine. The tears stung when I  realised  I  had been so caught up in details - petty crimes. Little things. Small stuff.

And in that instant, I got the perspective I needed - the perspective I had asked for. The tiny  mistakes and minor wrongs that I wanted to punish myself over, dissolved. I let them go, forgave myself and decided to focus on the bigger picture - who I am.

Cos I am not my feelings. Or my behaviours.

I am love. We all are.

And it really is what matters most.




Monday, 28 July 2014

True Love



It's one of those times, when there are so many 'post' possibilities that I don't know which one to write about first!

But the fridge told me which one to choose.




I was again, a few days late tearing off the days from my mini-wisdom calendar. Trying to catch-up with the present meant I had to go back to the past - to July 21st - last Monday. I tore that day away revealing July 22 and this gem:



We've all heard it. It's nothing new. But do we understand it?

I thought I did - until now. This past few weeks I have felt as though I was running on empty. And then I did run out. I had nothing left to give - to me or anyone else.

When I read Thich Nhat Hanh's beautiful words I thought, no wonder I've been running on empty - I've been so busy caring for others that I've forgotten to take care of myself.

And then this realisation : You're always there for other people but are you there for yourself?

Hmmm. The answer, quite simply - no.

I'm all-for people sharing how they feel and airing their issues. In fact I'm a big fan of 'getting it all out' - not stewing about stuff because I know it only makes things worse. So I give people my time and the space they need to be and feel heard - my ear as accepting and unconditional as it can possibly be.

But when it comes to me, all that is denied. I don't let myself feel how I feel. I am dismissive of issues and I certainly don't listen to my worries with a compassionate heart. I flee. I resist. I repress.

And look what happens when we do that... we are not loving to ourselves and then our capacity to love others dwindles, leaving us feeling like there's nothing of any value left.

Your capacity to love others depends entirely on your capacity
to love yourself,
and take care of yourself.

But what does it even mean - to love ourself? What does it look like? What would I be doing if I was taking care of myself?

My first response in answering these questions is to focus on the physical - diet, exercise, rest, relaxation, connecting with others... and then it dawned on me that yes, those things are important, but if I was to truly care for and love myself I would give myself the exact same thing that I gave others when they were suffering : my heart.

As Pema Chodron says, it's not about getting rid of the pain and the turmoil, it's about leaning in, expanding, opening - allowing things to be present and embracing them. Holding the pain - physical, mental or emotional - with great tenderness and allowing it the space it needs. Loving it.

This is what I call true love. To be there for ourselves with the difficulty, the dilemma, the devastation and not try to change it - just be with it, and love it.

I already know it's not easy to truly love ourselves, but we're worth it. So is everyone else that we come in contact with, care for and love.

When you think about it, what could be more important ...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The ultimate in letting go

You know how I said a few weeks ago that I had to let go of the question in order to get the answer? Well, it's happened again. Except this time it was the big question - the one that has been plaguing me for years...

What if I am like this for the rest of my life?  What if I have to live with this pain everyday from here on in? 

It's too much to bear, I know, so I try not to ask. But when the days have been long and they've turned into weeks and months I really do wonder.

Feeling overwhelmed after months of endless struggle, I booked in to see my beautiful healer Kiki for three days of treatments last week. Three days driving to and from Melbourne equals about 12 hours travel time. And on the same old boring highway, by myself, which for me, equals torture!

Thankfully I have good company - by way of audio books and recordings. You didn't think this seeker relied on good old-fashioned books alone did you? One of my all-time faves to listen to is Pema Chodron.

It's not just the teachings that I love hearing - it's her voice and her sense of humour and her earthly ways. And since I knew I was about to spend that much time in solitary confinement I planned ahead and downloaded a new audio of hers - one I knew nothing about - called The Truth of our Existence.

 
All three hours and 59 minutes had me riveted and there is much to share, but the one moment that stirred me the most came from chapter 27.
 
Pema is asked from a chronically-ill audience member, "Do I keep trying different things and hope they're gonna work, or do I just accept it as it is? When do you stop trying?" Sigh. Oh boy. It could've been me in that audience asking those questions.
 
Pema's answer is given in her trademark gentle and kind way. She encourages the young woman to continue exploring both medical treatment and the inner workings of her mind with the intention of expanding and learning from the illness. I feel somewhat relieved to hear this as this is the path I have chosen.
 
She closes her answer with a teaching from Trungpa Rinpoche, a highly revered Buddhist teacher - a teaching that really touched my heart :
 
If it is better for my awakening
and my ability to benefit others to remain sick - let me be sick.
 
If it is better for my awakening
and my ability to benefit others to be well - let me be well.
 
Goose bumps. And wet eyes.
I had to replay it - again and again.
And I got it. My heart finally understood that I had to stop wondering, stop asking, stop seeking and let what will be, be.
 
It is thy will be done.
It is que sera sera.
 
It is my new belief - that if my being sick enables me to awaken and expand and help others, then let me be sick; and if being well enables me to awaken and expand and help others, then let me be well.
 
This is the ultimate in letting go.
This is peace. 
This is freedom.
 
 


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A work-in-process

I have always been of the belief that we are each a work-in-progress.

Evolving, changing, learning, growing, progressing - on a journey to becoming our best self.

But the concept of progress implies that there is a destination - a goal to reach; movement in a forward direction; arriving somewhere that's better than before.

When it came to my health, this was my goal - to rid myself of pain so that I can get on with my life; to conquer the obstacles to wellbeing so that I could get to the place where life is more peaceful and easier.

So much so that my desire to be free of pain became my number one priority. The destination was more important than the journey.  And it was proving detrimental.

My beautiful holistic healer Kiki reminded me yesterday that it is the process that counts.

"Pretend you are walking from here to Brisbane...doesn't matter how long it will take or how far away it is...
you will get there...just keep walking."
 
It is the process that matters, she tells me.
Practice! You have to practice...everyday!
 
Her wisdom wills me to believe that I can keep walking - that I can think good thoughts, that I can feel good again, that I can do the things that encourage wellness, that I can choose to be happy.

I had forgotten that practice is the goal. That practice is what gets us there. That practice and process are what counts - even though the sticky- note on my desk says so!



Every step, every choice, every thought, every action, all instrumental in helping me get there.


So I am now a work-in-process.
And I am going to just keep walking - one foot, then the other.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Pride and passion

Sometimes the revelations come quite unexpectedly. Not just in their timing but also their source.

Yesterday was day 5 of dancing comps for my daughter. Emotions were running high - especially mine!  I nearly passed out several times from the hairspray fumes and the pressure to perform my best ticks, buns and costume changes nearly broke me.

But it's watching the performances that causes the ache in my heart.

I had to really contain myself yesterday. I saw my little girl dance the best she has ever danced in her long yet young career. My heart was swollen with love and my eyes wet with pride. I know she danced the best she could ; and I knew she'd be happy with that. But I still wanted her to get the recognition she deserved. And when it didn't come I was gutted - and it showed.

I had to make a quick exit, get some fresh air, pull myself together. I told myself all the things I should be thinking : it's not about winning...what matters is she did her best... But my heart wouldn't hear it. I needed to go back in there and front up for the next performance but the tears were too strong.

It was time for reinforcements - time to call my husband.

He treated me as I had hoped, with great care and tenderness, until he told me I was 'just like my father' (who was once a little over-zealous in his enthusiasm for his daughters on the netball court and has been teased about it ever since!)

For a split second I saw red - I didn't want to be that parent. And then the goose bumps came and I realised where my father's 'bad' behaviour came from - it came from a place of love.  He is a passionate man, and is passionate about many things, least of all his children! All he wanted was for us girls to do well, to succeed, to be happy. What's wrong with that?

Absolutely nothing.

In that moment I embraced my passionate nature and felt ok about wanting what I wanted for my daughter. And I was proud that I was 'just like my father'.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Let it go

Today's post is coming from a place of unkown.
Usually I know the lesson I am going to write about. But not today.

As always, there have been many this past week but with the busyness of birthdays and kids home on school holidays I have had little time to write.

This morning I was wondering which insight to share and then I got the feeling to go to the computer and start typing - that the post would come.

Typing those words inspired the thought - then I guess I must trust.
Trust that the words will flow.
Trust myself enough to let what wants to be said, said.
Trust that it will turn out ok.

But if I do that, then I have to let go of control - something that I struggle with.

In fact, I struggle with letting go full stop. Remember those beautiful badges...


My body tells me that I don't let go easily. Again this week I have had days of pain and difficulty. And again I wonder what it is I need to let go of. Beliefs, patterns, habits. These things come to mind.

But on Friday of last week I came across something I didn't realise I was holding on to that needed letting go of. This card was the prompt :

Give birth to the question and let it go - and allow the answer to flow.


The revelation came as I was walking Harvey an hour after seeing this card.

In the 6am air I realised there was a question I had asked about four weeks ago that I had kept on asking. Over and over and over again. I was desperate for the answer. I wanted to know. But I clung to that question. And each time I asked it along came fear. There was no room for trust.

The tears and goose bumps let me know that I 'got it'. I had finally learnt the lesson - to ask then let the question go; and by letting go, trust that the answer will come on the universe's schedule. And I finally let that big question go!

I got the answer Monday : )




Thursday, 26 June 2014

Real beautiful

Some days there are so many revelations and insights that I don't know which one to write about. Or the story is so big that I think it'll take too long to tell - and I don't want to bore you. And sometimes I just want to share it all...but I feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start.

These past few days have been like that.

So rather than 'not post' because there's too much to post about, I've chosen to share this one quote I read that had quite an impact on me.

The issue of perfection is one I struggle with as you know. And it's been on my mind a lot this past week - how to shift the beliefs and habitual patterns that have me acting in judgemental and self-punishing ways.

I was sitting at the hair dressers, flicking through a magazine that had been left on the bench in front of me. I can't remember who said the words I am about to quote but I know it was a make-up artist. She was obviously talking about the wearing of make up but I took it as the beauty within.


"I don't like anything too perfect.
I think we're most beautiful
when we look real."
 
 
What struck me was the idea that beauty - true inner beauty - isn't perfection - it's being real.
Your true self.
The real you.
Honest. Vulnerable. Authentic.
 
When I read this quote my idea of perfection was again shattered - for the better.  I can honestly say that being real matters more to me than being perfect - whatever that is!
 
So I'm kicking perfection out the door for good - no more demanding unattainable ideals about myself or ridiculous expectations loaded with 'should'.
 
The crazy thing is that deep down I already believe that being authentic is more beautiful than being perfect - I've just always applied to others...never to myself.



Sunday, 22 June 2014

So long longest night

It's the 22nd of June.

The day after the Winter Solstice - the longest night.

In Friday's yoga class we paid homage to this very special event. Our divine yoga teacher explained that this is a time for celebration.  From the darkness and reflection comes renewal and rebirth as the sun once again emerges to brighten our days, our existence, our life.




Goose bumps.

Relief flooded through me when I heard her speak of such things, and a sense of hope was instilled within. I felt like my long dark night of the past few weeks was over.

I was also reminded that we are light and dark. The goal is not to eliminate one aspect and illuminate the other, but to allow all the parts of us to exist. Yin and Yang. Masculine and feminine. Active and passive. Giving and receiving.



And I'm happy to say there's already been a shift. No longer is winter something to endure.

Since our enlightening yoga class on Friday I intend to pay homage to the increasing sun, no matter how gloomy the weather may be, and all that it represents - light, opening, awareness, growth, love, possibilities.





Thursday, 19 June 2014

More than a feeling

I have this thing about hearts.
I love them!


They're hanging off things...
















and decorating things...










                         



They remind me to love.








I also love the word love.

I wear it...



I see it...


          

It too, reminds me to love - to feel love and be love.

The other day I was unexpectedly invited to see love differently. I was searching on my mobile for more of Louise L Hay and stumbled across this author. This was the screen I got...
Make love a verb.
 
This notion of love being a verb is not new to me. Several years ago I toyed with the idea of making another card set, this time centred around love. It was to be called Love is a verb.  Because love is more than a feeling - it's also a verb; a doing word. Our actions - our 'doings' either stem from how we are feeling or how it is we want to feel.

Lately I have been focusing on 'feeling' love but not necessarily following through. This jolt from Cheryl Richardson reminded me to turn the 'feeling' into a 'doing'.

Funnily enough, the actual lesson wasn't about 'doing' more love for others - I already do plenty of that!  It was about the love I need to 'do' for myself - cos I know I definitely don't do enough of that.