Thursday, 29 May 2014

Then there were the butterflies

Not only do I like to read all-things-wisdom, I also like to listen to them.
This morning walking Harvey was no exception. Except that this author and speaker, Martha Beck has only just come into my life. Her audio that I started listening to yesterday is called Finding your own North Star and is based on her book by the same title.

This morning I heard her tell the amazing story of metamorphosis that caterpillars undergo in order to become butterflies. I listened until I arrived back home, captivated by the power and grace that is nature, then turned off my iPod and went about my morning. No further thought of butterflies - I was too caught up in kangaroos!

At 12.30 I met a dear friend for lunch. After about an hour of sharing our latest news, she announced she had bought a new set of cards, which I had a quick look through, and a new book, which looked really interesting. It was a book on Mandalas - something I have had a quiet fascination with for some time. I didn't pay any attention to its title - I was too keen to take a look inside.

I opened it at random, to this...

Not only was the mandala exquisite, it consisted of butterflies. Hmm...that's the second butterfly incident today...

After a little more chatting we parted ways and I ducked into the library to pick up a book I had reserved. Book in hand, and ten minutes up my sleeve, I decided to head to a computer and look through the catalogue for a book on mandalas. This is what I walked past...

And then this...

What's with all the butterflies? It was uncanny. And of course, I knew I had to look it up when I got home.

What I discovered was big. And powerful.

I knew the butterfly was symbolic of transformation, and no doubt I will learn more from Martha Beck, but what I took from Scott Alexander King's book, Animal Dreaming, is that when we're contemplating change, the butterfly offers three windows of opportunity, with each window being signposted by 'butterflies in the stomach'.

Wow. Right, I'm on the look out for more butterflies - but this time I'll be looking on the inside, cos once they're felt, an ending of some kind is destined - change will be in the wind and with it, growth, rebirth and healing. I wonder what will unfold next...

And how about this amazing fact: butterflies are deaf. Scott Alexander King says this "...encourages us to harness the silence so that we may better hear those around us...those who may be calling intuitively to us from the heart..."

A beautiful idea to ponder when next you see a butterfly - sometimes we need to listen to what it is we are not hearing.

This morning it was kangaroos

Today has turned out to be one of those days. A day when lots of signs and messages come synchronistically. Truth be told, every day is probably like that, its just that maybe today my antennae were super sensitive.

I really needed to feel the fresh cool morning air on my face this morning, so I decided to take Harvey and me on the 'big walk' - the one that takes me out bush, up the road from our place. It wasn't particularly early - about 9.30 - when we met with our first pair of kangaroos. There they were, only a few metres away, silent and still, watching me and Harvey while he did a wee. They were big, and scared the hell out of me.

We walked on quickly. Ten minutes down the track, this time a family of kangaroos - again, still and watching in silence. I didn't notice them until we were right next to them - they just blend in with the shrubs and trees.

I quickened my step, pulling Harvey to catch up with me. Not five minutes later, another group. This time very close to the path. This time bigger. This time I broke into trot. And just when I thought it was safe to stroll... two more!

What on earth is going on today? I thought. We've walked every morning this week and not spotted one! I knew that I would have to look it up when I got home.
I have this special book, given to me by a special friend.

Its author, Scott Alexander King, claims that every animal in existence is permeated with a symbolic meaning that acts as an aid and support to us humans in every aspect of our lives.

I have dipped into this book countless times since it joined my collection.

Sometimes it'll be a dream with a certain animal in it, or someone will give me a card with a particular creature on it, or I'll hear a mention via a story and I know to go to 'the book' and look it up.

Abundance is what the Grey Kangaroo symbolises.

There are a few paragraphs about it but this is what stopped me momentarily:

"If Grey Kangaroo has vaulted into your life today, your life will soon be rich with productive emotion,
thought and knowledge."
 (p. 50 Animal Dreaming)

There's been plenty of emotion alright! This blog is certainly drawing emotion and thought out of me, and sends me seeking new knowledge, all of which is proving enjoyable and bringing purpose to my days.

But this 'sign' today, all those kangaroos, has actually turned out to be a very positive affirmation...You see, I hope to be embarking on a new journey soon; one that has the potential to be rich with productive emotion, thought and knowledge...

I have applied to do a Masters by research at LaTrobe Uni! My plan, to read and write about forgiveness and its impact on health and wellbeing.
Whoa...pretty big.
I'm still in shock about it. It has come completely out of the blue. And the synchronicity behind its conception...well, thats a whole other post!

For now, I'm excited about the possibility of researching such a vital yet underrated function and sharing my findings with and for the greater good.
My application is being processed - I'll let you know when I know ; )

But now, back to the seemingly crazy coincidences I have encountered today...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The mystery of mystery

I had a long-overdue appointment with a Specialist yesterday.
I was first cab off the rank - first patient to be seen after the doctor had finished in theatre for the morning. I arrived at my scheduled time of 1.30 only to be told she wasn't back yet from the hospital.
Now once upon a time I would've started sighing impatiently at the inconvenience, but not today. I was desperate for a cup of tea and happy to be granted more time so I could keep searching for an answer to the question of what to do re my ongoing uterine pain.
I drove straight to the town library, planning how to execute this precious gift- an hour to scan the shelves and have a cuppa before I was due back to discuss my dilemma.

In I walked, knowing it was the 615s I needed, hearing the message :
Just pick one book. 

Just one? Really?

That's a difficult feat for me at the best of times, but I did as I was told. And after several minutes, this was the one...

I was surprised at first - I own this book!

It's on my shelf. I've had it for about a dozen years.

I've read it and gone back to it many times.

But as so often happens, I get something different from a book every time I pick it up.

Sometimes it'll feel like I've never even read it!

That's why I love non-fiction wisdom literature - it keeps on giving, and always at the right time, when you need the message most.

Anyway... 45 minutes still on the clock! I ordered a cuppa, settled into a seat and began skimming. Plenty of wonderful wise words but what Caroline Myss says on pages 176 and 177 really spoke to me.

"Healing is not a quest to solve your mysteries, but to learn how to live within them."


What she says about life and mystery is so eloquent and beautiful I've decided to share it almost word for word - I think it's a message we all need to hear...

"Life is full of mystery. In fact, life is only a mystery - a journey beset by fogs we didn't see coming and detours into magical gardens that we had no idea were being cultivated for us. Asking why the painful and wonderful events occur when and as they do is a useless waste of energy...So many factors, incidents, forces, and energies are involved in them you can never determine any single cause."

Hence the title of this section in the book -
Healing is not a quest to solve your mysteries, but to learn how to live within them.

Look back at what I wrote in my last post about my quest for wholeness, and what my blog is called - Seeker & Sage, and how I approached my time before the doctor as time to search for answers. I have been on a mission to solve the mysteries around my ill-health for years...but I'm not really sure I've been learning how to live within them... :(

She goes on to say that, "Illness remains one of the leading mysteries in life" (p.177) and that we need to, "get past the questions...Live within the questions...but do not allow them to take over your life."

Goose bumps. This is big for me. Huge.
I feel relieved. But also annoyed at myself cos I know I have allowed those unanswerable questions (and my quest to have them answered) to take over my life. Sigh.

I'll leave you with one final message - the one I think at times we all need to hear, (especially me)whether we're sick or not; whether we're healing our body, our mind or our heart...

"Focus on your healing in the present time."

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Time to let go

 I've been striving to be 'perfect' for most of my adult life.
That meant that I wasn't OK with who I was. 

So I went on a self-directed self-improvement binge.
I read hundreds of self-help life coaching type books thinking I had to improve - had to make myself be a better person than I was.  I thought I had to 'add' to who I was to do that - 'be more', 'be perfect'; be the perfect mum, wife, woman. Promote my 'best' qualities and pretend the darkside didn't exist.

 I believe that this belief and way of thinking for so many years finally caught up with me. That stifling what was organic and natural - the emotions and traits that lived in my darkside - has played havoc with my health.

And I believe that the ill-health I experience is not happening for no reason. 

It can't be for nothing.

So I search for meaning in the pain and the gifts that it brings.

There have already been many. And most of them huge. Revelations about life and love and connection. About who we really are and what matters most. Too many to share in one post. And it's not over yet.

These days it is healing I strive for - to be whole.

And to do so requires that I let go...
Let go of  what I think other people want me to be.
Let go of trying to be someone that I'm not.
Let go of wanting so desperately to please others and in doing so deny who I am.
Let go of hiding what's in my heart...

...and allow.
Allow me to be me.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Easy does it

I nearly didn't make it to yoga on Friday.
The pain was pretty loud and being very unreasonable and had me running very late.
But I decided to practise 'better late than not at all' and I'm so glad I did.
Sometimes it's a word or a phrase or a title or a name that I hear that takes me on a little spontaneous journey of discovery, and it was in Friday morning's yoga class that I nearly didn't get to that the latest learning was sparked.

"Today, easy does it", I heard our divine yoga teacher say during her introduction.
"Easy does it". That's a phrase I haven't heard for years.

Easy does it. I've probably heard it a zillion times in my life, but never really thought about its meaning and relevance. But on Friday it stuck and I've been saying it randomly ever since.

I looked it up of course. Well actually, I looked up the word easy, defined as
'not difficult ; achieved without great effort'.

Yep...that's what I thought easy meant...
without difficulty, without effort.

But following on was a long list of common phrases using the word easy, and there it was, easy does it. Ya gotta love the Oxford!

This is what it said...

To go carefully; to be lenient; to not be harsh... Hmm.
This was great advice.
The message I needed to hear.

You see I have a long history of being quite harsh with myself, especially when in pain.  I would push through, rally, pretend it wasn't happening and do my best to not let it interfere with my plans - and berate myself when it did. Full steam ahead. Carry on as normal. No ease about it. And all that would achieve was more pain. Pain on top of pain.
I know...crazy hey?

This time, I did it different. I did as Sally said. I did easy does it. I cancelled catch-ups and re-prioritised my to-do list - my new number one: get on the couch and stay there as long as possible.

And it's still with me...I've been doing easy does it all weekend - with the housework, meals, scheduling activities but also and more importantly with myself. I am going carefully - treating my emotional and mental state with care - going gently, giving myself the time and space to recover.

But we need not be in physical pain to apply this old adage... It's one to live by.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The joy continues

In my office I have what I call My Little Bookshelf.
It's not that it's small, but it does house my collection of 'little books' : )

Yesterday while standing at my printer, waiting for it to finish a job, I glanced across at the little books on my Little Bookshelf, and, as happens so often, heard the call of one book in particular. "Pick me! Pick me!".

This was that book.
I smiled.  It's a real treasure.
A dear friend of mine is dear friends with its creator and illustrator, Kate Knapp. It's one of those books you know you can count on for the beauty and wisdom you need in times of trouble.
I opened it decisively.
This was no time to flick through at a leisurely pace and so my fingers found their way to this divinely random page...

Goose bumps.
As you know, I had only just written about Joy two days before!
But let's look a little more closely at Richard Wagner's message - Joy is not in things...
Does this mean that the Joy I experienced when I looked up at the blue on Monday was not coming from the sky at all?   The sky wasn't joyous - I was?

Of course, I can hear you say.  But how easily we forget.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Happiest Blue

This morning my head was particularly fuzzy. The hang-over from the hang-over I incurred on the weekend! I was craving fresh air so I took myself and Harvey (our Spoodle) for a walk. It was a really beautiful morning - sunny and crisp - just the way I like it. My favourite place to walk is through the forest that backs onto the end of our street -  not just because of its rugged beauty, but because usually I don't see many people - just the way I like it.

Three-quarters into our stroll and I finally feel my head start to clear. The air felt so good on my face that I decided to raise my sunglasses and allow its coolness to enliven my still-sleepy eyes.

I tend to be a bit of a sky-watcher and looked up. Without the distorted tint of my sunnies I copped an unexpected delight - the morning sky in its most beautiful blueness.

A smile washed over me. It was the happiest blue I'd ever seen. And then I smiled even bigger - not just with my lips...with my heart.

Could this be joy I wondered - that feeling that many of us reserve for special occasions; that feeling that we don't dare to really feel because it brings up fear; that feeling that we feel we don't deserve to feel.

It's come up for me before, joy, quite recently actually - I was seeking some advice from my sage on how to manage the difficulties I have felt around writing. I went to the cards, and this was one that I drew...

I was curious about joy and how it could help me. I looked it up in one of my favourite books - the Oxford Australian - and besides it being explained as a vivid emotion of pleasure, there were two key words that hit me, so much so that I wrote them on my whiteboard...

I realised that even in times of uncertainty, joy can be present. We can still feel extremely glad ; we can still experience pleasure. Joy can happen. It doesn't have to be saved for special occasions, nor do we need to feel like we've earned it. It can strike at any time, and when it does, we need to do with it what we're meant to do with it - feel it.

Just as I did this morning.
When I looked up and saw that happy blue sky I felt the energy of pleasure in my body. I felt extremely glad. I felt joy. And it felt wonderful.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Guts is good

After reading my Sunday morning post my husband asked, " you have a pile of ideas written down ready for the blog and you just pick one you feel like writing about?"
The answer: No. I don't.

Yes, there is a lot of material from which I can draw on - no shortage of synchronistic experiences and bizarre happenings in the memory bank that could definitely be posted. And I'm sure some of them will find their way here.

But I have decided I want the posts to unfold, just as life does.

Today's post is a perfect example.

Today I found myself in an office that I'd never been in before, and until this morning - with forty minutes notice - didn't know I'd be in it! There I was, seated, facing the lovely lady who was helping me as she searched her computer for what we were looking for. But that's a whole other story...

I turned in my chair and was now half facing the wall beside me.
I looked up. This is what I saw.

That's me, I thought, no guts no story. Without my gut and its issues there would be no story. And I felt a recognition inside; a deep appreciation for what this journey is teaching me and where it is taking me.

But now as I write this, I also realise there's more to 'no guts no story' than this literal sense. If I didn't have 'the guts'  to write my story, there'd be no story-telling. No chance to share, to heal, to connect. And thus a second-helping of appreciation  occurred.

Already, in my blog's short life, it has brought me closer to the ones I love.
And that is something I am incredibly grateful for : ) xx

Sunday, 4 May 2014

May 3 Meditation

My gut has been churned up for days now. I cannot wait to go to bed at night so I can sleep and transcend the pain, but then I wake, hopeful, surely it has passed - but it hasn't. And again I plummet into despair wishing it would just go away.

Last night before I fell asleep I had the urge to pick up and read the allocated words for the day of May 3 from the book Meditations for women who do too much by Anne Wilson Schaef.  It lives in a basket beside my bed under my dressing table along with other books I like to keep close.

I found May 3, my eyes going straight to the author's musing at the bottom of the meditation.

I never thought I would be grateful for this disease had me draw a sharp breath in. The author is referring to the disease that is workaholism, including rushaholism, busyaholism and careaholism. But I saw it as the disease that I experience - the difficulties and distension I have with my bowel.

I can tell you now, I am not grateful for my disease. I hate how it affects me - physically and emotionally - and what it has done to my life. And I want it gone.

But this morning when I woke to the persistent pain, I remembered the message from May 3...
I never thought I would be grateful for this disease, and it has opened up a possibility of a whole new life for me.

If I wasn't for this affliction I wouldn't strive to learn more about myself and my place in the world. It has revived me from ennui; challenged me to face my feelings; forced me to let go; encouraged me to look within.

It's easy to be grateful for the good in our lives, but how many of us are grateful for the tough times and the good that can come from them?
When I'm 'in it', and have been for days, it's hard for me to see the good. But when I remember to value all that I have learnt and appreciate how much I have grown because of it, gratitude washes through me and I feel a renewed sense of hope. Trust is restored that I am 'on schedule' with the universe, and I find the strength to smile again and get on with living life just as I am - pain or no pain.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

I know it's not the 16th of April...

...but tonight as I stood in my kitchen, while waiting for my humble melted wrap to cook, I decided to get up-to-date with the calendar on my fridge. It's one of those peel-the-day-away calendars full of ancient eastern wisdom (see the photo below - not the big page in the middle of the fridge, but the small square-ish one, top and centre).

I was about three weeks behind, and yes each new day revealed inspiring words that we should all be living by, but April 16 stood me still.

I think that's what I've been doing for the past 20 years - not just asking, willing the darkness to leave; wishing with all my might that the parts of me that I didn't like would disappear; kidding myself that if I ignored them, pretended they weren't there, then they didn't exist. And that I could go on with my life with my reputation intact.

But it doesn't work that way. What's hiding in the dark gets louder and bigger.
So, as Sogyal Rinpoche gently says, you must turn on the light.

Just over a year ago I turned on the light.  I had to.  I was at wit's end.  My bowel had almost completely stopped and I was experiencing intense abdominal pain on a daily basis.  I was facing two invasive  operations - neither with a guaranteed positive outcome. 
The situation was looking hopeless.
And then I found out about Chi Nei Tsang and searched frantically for a practitioner.
Two days on Google and two days before my appointment with the bowel surgeon, I found one. Kiki Chi.  She made it ok for me to turn on the light. With love and compassion she helped me to hold it in my arms and my heart. I was able to look at and face all that I had disowned... and forgive.

And now I can't turn it off!  And as painful as it is at times, I don't want to.  I want to be friendly to the parts I do not like so that I can heal my body, but more importantly, my heart.  So I can be real.  And be ok with being who I am, and be more of who I am.

There's more to this story, much more, and I will share it with you bit by bit, I promise.
I just wanted to make the light a little brighter today xx