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 : )