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.

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 ; )