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The Balance of Power

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Here in South Africa it’s women’s month and it’s a big month. We love our women. I was listening to radio and I heard an incredible statistics that 68% of adult South African women were single. First of all I have no idea, what the world average on this, the figure just seemed incredibly high. Then I thought about it. Then I thought it a little bit longer and it occurred to me in South Africa as a woman (at least in my social circle) it’s unusual to be married.

So I’ve been having all those girly conversation about relationships and men. How we pair up, what makes a match and how relationships work? What I have just realised is that there is some deep societal programming going on out there, that makes me wonder about things a bit. So often on Womens Day and when we talk about women we talk about being strong. I grew up in a matriarchal society and to be honest I’ve only every really known female leaders. I’ve only ever known women that rule the roost, hold council, pull together in community and support one another. The good men were more like the awesome sidekicks, who made sure that the women in their lives were fully supported in there Earth life mission.

The men hold space for women to retreat to. Maybe they provide for the family. Maybe they simply take care of their wife cause after all “The best thing a man can do for his children is love their mother.” Yes that is true. After all isn’t it women that bare, birth and breast feed and raise children? Do you think that responsibilty was given to women because they are the weaker of the two sexes, seriously? We are all deeply programmed to believe that men are supposed to be strong for women. It’s a pile of shit. They are our hunter gathers and protectors. Women hold the fort.

So it makes me wonder if that this strong man ideology is just another piece of the puzzle of toxic masculinity. That women are out there searching for unicorns, for mythical creatures. When in fact when I look at successful marriages it’s the women  with the sensitive men that are doing the best. The men that care when women are upset. The men that carry you to bed when you are exhausted. The men that pour you a bath when you need to regenerate. The men that sit down and listen when you are overwhelmed. The men that cook dinner, wash the dishes and hoover. That’s the men that we are looking for. The men that know that looking after and protecting their women is at the very heart of creating a stable home and the positive ripple effect that brings.

 

#Mood

5AB40A8A-F6B6-4C11-AC7A-CFEBF3A74ED3#Mood wasn’t this so 2015 or something like that? Where did that go? #Mood. I loved it. All these emotionally literate hipsters trying to visually capture the idea of a late afternoon sugar rush.  Yes that’s a thing, especially if your begrudgingly British like me. I recent weeks for reasons yet to be disclosed I’ve been hanging out with an Art Director friend of mine and we’ve been talking a lot about aesthetics. Me being a trained curator and her being, well, an art director that’s hardly unusual. What has been coming to me though recently on my pathway to Zen Goddess that aesthetics are important. You’d think a four year degree in Art History might have taught you that? That’s why no one should go to left-of-center art schools I suppose (winky face).

The study of The History of Modern Art and Design taught me something else entirely that revolves around the word arbitrary. As I soon discovered much of what we think is meaningless, subjective and well pointless and the only value that anything actually has is the value you give it. Quite liberating actually. If you want to find out more you might want to read up on the power of cult. Modernist Theory is so closely related to creative means of production; that if studied indepthly, it’s hard not to become nihilistic about art, life and well everything. You see how easy it is to spiral down? Thus explaining post-modernism.

Great works of art, whether it be painting, sculpture, architecture, all forms of design or indeed explorations of visual culture (lets say Instagram) have to power to uplift, motivate, inspire and in fact connect us to the divine. One walking tour of Paris confirms that. We all want to be moved, comforted,  reassured our at the very least served by the environments that we occupy.

It is also possible to deliberately evoke feeling with aesthetics, as you would with music. Que the cheesy background music over almost every motivational infomercial these days. It’s kind of boring. These perfectly curated and complied content. Show me the mess. I do like to get high on little bit of rainbow. I’ve even have a Pinterest board about it Colour Me Happy.

Given my theoretical basis for understanding aesthetics and on related issues of beauty and the fact that we live in a construct. I am firmly of the opinion that we create our own inner realities.  Spiritual development is largely related to non-attachment. That the material world is nothing but a distraction from the metaphysical quest of wholeness. Except of course we are all whole already. The thing is, this curious idea of mood, that can be summed up in dusty old railway stations, a Christmas trees or even the colour of a painted wall and how it detracts and refracts the light as is dances round the room, morning to evening, winter to summer. As celestial being affected by matter and intrinsically connected to material a world it’s hard to not let our visual reality impact our inner reality. Isn’t that after all why we have embodied ourselves in the first place. Whoa this seems to pretty advanced stuff on here today.

Consistently Inconsistent

IMG-9492(1)“Consistently Inconsistent” My father said this to me once as an insult. it’s a terrible shame that it wasn’t actually true. Yet beyond this it has become a kind of mantra for me. Everybody has the right to change there mind, find another way, all in the hope of becoming who we actually are. In recent months I’ve picked up the pace a bit on my wee coaching business and as always adjusting course as I move forward and figuring out what it all really means anyway while attempting to be the truest and best version of myself all at the same time. Which means from time to time my standards slip life gets in the way and I have to consider How best am I serving my clients. If you are looking for a guru I’m not it. I’m as human and broken as the best of us and sometimes I’m envious of Mandela and hid imposed daily routine. Can you imagine enforced spiritual awakening by way of prison regime. That no matter how hard it is. How you might be feeling or even how important you are you have to get out there and get down to the lowly work of breaking rocks. If that isn’t dharma in action I don’t know what is.

In the meantime I’m caught between, I’m busy feeling. How much can I journal about this? Do I journal before I do the dishes? Do I do the dishes before I journal or the other way round. Which one is going to make me feel better faster? Then all the justifications that go with it. Never mind that I actually can’t do the dishes because I can’t find the ecologically friendly dish washing liquid I usually use in my local supermarket, that means I have to drive into town, which kind of defeats the purpose of eco dish washing liquid. Yes it’s the small things. How do you write inspirational posts when you can’t manage the basic and well you’re very busy feeling? The thing is we all have the right to be consistently inconsistent. We are humans. As much as we are drastically trying to reclaim our lives from the endless monotony of daily work for a corporate company we also need to reclaim our lives from the constructed demands of time. No one here is pulling in a harvest no one is going to dye if you Instagram feed is not up to date and should I really be Instagramming while spending quality time with friends. Personal work is for me the new work work. Prioritising me as a radical step in self-care. That doesn’t mean never commit it just means do you best and been happy with the results. Also please bare in mind here absolutely no-one has criticised me for inconsistency or praised me for my eco washing up liquid. This is all self-imposed limitations and critiques. The mind can be crazy even when it is well trained.

Inner Guidance

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Sometimes I wonder what our inner guidance system would operate like if it was a GPS system and what kind of warnings it might give out when you were steering onto the wrong course. Would it say things “stop immediately”? Or would it say “A better decision can be found to your left” or even “reconsider current trajectory” or in the most desperate of cases “abort mission” I suspect if you’ve gone this far there isn’t much hope of finding a safe and effective exit route.

I often override what my inner guidance and then I wonder did I really? Hindsight is a wonderful thing and even when we have live clues it can often be hard to decipher what the next best step is. We’ve all be there, I’m sure, in that situation where someone says or does something that lets us know that we are not on the same path, have the same shared values. There are no mistakes and no matter where we are heading you better be sure that your GPS system is working overtime to get you there. When we ignore what we believe were tell tale signs of trouble ahead isn’t it just our own way of saying life is an adventure.

In the last few decades the rise in adventure sports of even excursions have been supposedly been the best way to get out of a comfort zones as we all try escape desk jobs and boring routines. The things is even with the life jackets and the bungee cords there is never any guarantee that we really will be safe, that we will get home safe and dry after a harmless flirtation with exhilaration.

When we override our inner guidance system it’s just our spiritual way of saying “I’ve got this”, come what may. That actually we have a belief in ourselves beyond what is explicable or even sane. After all what sane person would actually through themselves off a structure with noting but a rope tied to their ankles? As a kiwi friend once said to me “New Zealand the nation that invented bungee jumping. A nation in some serious need of entertainment”.

Recently when I am thinking about my own personal growth journey the book “The Four Agreements” has been coming up for me a lot. I find it very reassuring to look at them and use them as a tick list to see how well I have served my self in the process of life.

  • Be impeccable with your word.
  • Don’t take anything personally.
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always Do Your Best

If I read these four agreements and I know that I have applied to the best of my ability. Then my inner guidance system is totally in tact. No matter the outcome.

 

 

Prioritising Self and Fluidity

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Negotiating the emotional landscape has got to be one of the most complex things that we humans have to do. If we were all robots getting on with our to do lists just think how boring that would be. Work schedules, family schedules and daily routines can be the glue that hold our lives together and then from time to time, the computer says no. Our conscious tells us other otherwise. Things don’t make sense and well life happens. We have to figure out how to navigate it. All of a sudden we are on unfamiliar territory and well as my old pirate self might say, “There be Rocks!!!” Even when we know where we are going there can be all sorts of hidden obstacles and emotional battles to overcome in order to make sure that we are ready for the task, journey or event ahead.

In the meantime if you are indeed engaged fully on your own personal journey you may well feel or in fact know, that this is all for a reason. That you are here to learn for yourself.  To share your journey, so that other way finders may just steer clear of the rocks.

We complicate the idea of getting ahead with helping others. That if we are caring, kind compassionate humans we priortise other people. Is that absolutely true?

It makes me think of a Gardener who spends his life planting flowers so that everybody can enjoy their blooms. For the advanced Gardner it’s about planting trees that will never reach their full magnificence in a human life time. So we wonder who is he planting them for? Only for the simple satisfaction that he has imagined something beautiful.

That we can’t possibly  support another person while moving at an incredibly slow pace, it might even be mistaken for being stationary. It’s bit of a double edged sword, personal work. We want to support and love others to heal themselves, while being continuously called to heal our own wounds in the act of serving. It’s and incredible balancing act actually.

It has taken me a long time to fully understand what it is to prioritise myself. In fact it’s kind of startling to me when I ever do some deep soul examination of how little I give myself and why. It also troubles me what spiritual observations that many of us take on the path to wellness. Chastity, obedience and poverty being three main ones. It makes you wonder what is left for joy, happiness and growth.

In today’s world where even in our own personal journey consistency is considered to be key. It can be challenging to think of new more relaxed ways to embrace personal growth, that don’t revolve round people pleasing, gym membership or a punishing daily regime that is guaranteed to push all the money juice out of you.

Then we return again to the Gardner where the seasons and the weather dictate their routine. They plan on rainy days. Plant and harvest on sunny days. Wait out the frost. Every day and changing season brings with it a new challenge of how and when they will get the job done and yet they always do.

Reaching Out

IMG-9382Today as in today I’m not feeling so great and I’m wondering what I can write that will best serve you. I want to work on something that will be mutually beneficial as a navigate a some lingering emotional turmoil and wonder what is the next best step? If speaking our truth is really powerful, and what really serves us, and grants other people the right to be themselves; is it my job to tell you what going on with me? Or is it my job to pretend that everything’s ok and not to bother you with my business? When the business of healing  and therefore healing myself is the business I’m in. It’s a question I keep asking myself. I like to belief that in holding space for myself I am holding space for you. That maybe, in my unorthodox approach you find some light relief from your own shit.

Reaching out for help is often one of the bravest things that we can do for ourselves. Talking about our shit, coming right out and saying it is often as little or as much as we need to say about a situation, our emotions or our thoughts. To remove the taboo. We can’t always be sure of how any one person will receive what we have to say. The truth of the matter is that we have the right to freedom of expression. It’s something that we often forget. That instead or being nice, kind or generous that we have the right to be honest. Honesty can serve us. Keeping up a facade hides us from what we want most. It stops us from being who we really are even if that might be perceived as ugly, inconsiderate or thoughtless. Other peoples feelings are not our responsibility. This is something that I often need to remind myself of as I pick away at the great puzzle of my life. That often I choose to be nice, kind or generous and betray myself in the process. That I don’t get what I want as a result and people don’t see me for who I really am. It makes me wonder if I am failing at being me and why I feel the need to protect someone from me. Aren’t all thoughts, feelings, emotions valid? I say all these things in safe spaces. Why not here? Why not now? Then I see that I am protecting myself as much as I am protecting the other person. That I want people to be kind to me, cause in some moments that is all I want to handle. That the person opposite me has their own struggles and challenges and we are all just doing the best we can as we work this deeply collaborative process called life.

Holding Space

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Holding space has become a bit of a buzz term in recent years. Buzz strangely being the antithesis of holding space. I think many of us wonder what holding space really means?

For me It’s all about creating space for another person. What does that mean? Creating space is having the ability to literally invite someone into your life with the objective of sharing it. Many of us, that are on a go getting mission to live life to it’s fullest, are out there consuming people like they are products, we want cool friends, fun times and endless experiences. The truth is that very few humans are permanently on, and ready to party any time any where.

Creating space asks what we are able to give to another person simply by making time. That acknowledging another person’s humaness and need for connection is as much as anybody might need to heal. So when we create space it’s making time for those one-to-one chats. Turning off your phone and minimising interruptions, can be key to spending quality time with someone, whether it’s a friend, spouse or colleague.

Beyond the initial stage of creating space,  holding space for someone is the ability to be fully present and connect on their deepest level. Crucially when we hold space for someone, we are expectation free. We drop our agendas and we simply allow someone to be human. We create a safe space by dropping judgement and simply being. It’s kind of like a collaborative meditation. Where the other persona is allowed to say whatever they want and we sieve our soul for the kindest most generous way to respond.

Holding space for other people can be beneficial to your own personal journey of growth or self-discovery, you may find it very informative and insightful. Often from listening to other people, their pains and their challenges, we can develop our own personal insight. We can manage to catch what we think before we say it and realise that often that our internal dialogues are highly demanding, unfair and often unreasonable. So there is a lot to be gained personally from holding space.

Holding space is at the core of what I do. It’s one of the main reasons I am a Life Doula and not a coach. I believe that when people are experiencing serious growth that they deserve to be witnessed by another human. I often liken the human growth process the the human birth process. We don’t leave a mother alone and vulnerable to tough it out. We hold space for her and we understand that we are there to fulfill the roles that she is unable fulfill for herself. We also understand there is no time limit to this. Labour takes as long as it takes and postpartum support, is too, part of that process. Crucially when we are holding space we don’t need validation or approval. We are there because we want to be. We put our own needs aside and place another person at the very center of our focus. We are not attached to an outcome. That does not mean to say that we can’t take a boundaried approach to our gift of presence, it’s more a matter of providing powerfully with the time that we have. Holding space, sounds, looks and feels very different to different people. Creating space isn’t just about creating silence, it’s opening up to another persons possibilities. Finding out what it is that we want to share. As humans we all have so many complex multi-facted frames of reference it’s absurd that to think that we might have all the answers to somebody else’s problems. The best we can do is be there.

 

 

 

Pain Threshold

IMG-9349I’ve been deep in a mid-winter dirge. It feels like a lot of things have been ruminating and maybe it about time to start letting go.  It’s all good and well talking about healing the emotional wounds of our pasts without addressing that some people are so caught up in their emotional landscapes, that it dominates our physical futures. A lot of people might think that mindset and a wellness are not related to each other. That I might pose this as a concept, is a to put it mildly, a bit suspect to many minds. I believe that humans can and are able to heal from anything if we are willing to do the work, to liberate ourselves from the beliefs that we have been born to.

Our beliefs can be very hard to unpack. Even as someone who has spent a serious a mount  of time in therapy as well as on a long course of self examination it startles me sometimes about how little I know about my own psyche. The healing work that I do on myself alone is a lot to do with leveling up. I think I’ve got it all sorted, that I’m hitting the kerb. There might even be only one single heart beat between me and Elysium and then suddenly I’ve been knocked out into a cold mud coated street, from nowhere. There is literally shit going on in my being I have no awareness of. Or alternatively I do have awareness of and that I grossly underestimate the power of. If something, no matter how trivial is getting your goat, troubling you, drawing your attention then you better believe that it has power over you in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

Yes you can unpack it, yes you can let it go, yes you can scratch it pick at, worry over it and even talk about but only you know when you have begun to fully understand it. No one can tell you other wise and no one can navigate it for you only you know. Maybe it a loosening of your shoulder, a relaxing in your gut, a stretch in your legs. Only you know how when or where you got free of it.

When you are in these moments of pain, deep resentment, anger, discomfort, frustration and even growth, it’s easy to reach for a bottle or a book to ease the irk. It’s also easy to dive into someone else’s pain and prescribe a cure all action. You need to let go of it. When are you going to give this up? Why are you still holding on to this? Don’t give your power away? Why do you give a fuck what they think? Even the more positives of “Live you life” “Free yourself” “Don’t let anybody dull your sparkle”. I mean for fuck sake there are reasons why people sign up to be nuns and monks or even  run of to an ashram in India, or find themselves on a pilgrimage, or lose themselves in an iowaksa retreat.

The fucked up thing is, that no matter what it is and no matter how far you run  you will always have to face it. You might be lucky enough to design the circumstances under which you do but you always will. Look to your pain whether it be emotional or physical  and you will find beliefs and all the ways that they limit you. If you can push through the pain threshold it’s possible to find freedom.

Self-Sabotage

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First of all Self-Sabotage doesn’t fucking exist. If you’ve been running round with a self-sabotage dialogue in your head? I am here to release you completely from that idea, mantra or path. It’s not true, it doesn’t exist and the idea and concept of self-sabotage actually doesn’t serve you as an idea or in any other way. The idea of self-sabotage, may be, one, of the most toxic, damaging concepts that you have about yourself. It’s like a snake eating  it’s tail. You don’t understand, I just can’t make a million, I just can’t hold down a job, I just can’t have a loving relationship……..the list goes on. I always manage to fuck it up. Everything is there all lined up and then at the last minute I just do something completely inexplicable, like I forget my happy life passport.

There is also the possibility that you have absolutely no idea what it is that ailes you. That you behaviours are fueled by some mystical energy force that seems to come from outside of you. Though you may be able to identify it’s features you have no idea of it’s origin or meaning. It’s OK.

The truth is, and this is the absolute truth, which is even more painful than the idea that you self-sabotage; is that you value something more than money, a steady income or even a loving relationship. There is something deep within you that you refuse to acknowledge, actively ignore, repress, deny and are deeply ashamed of. Yes all of that. You keep it in a deep dark dungeon, you never talk about it and quite frankly it disgusts you.

When you even consider it probably feels like a stabbing sensation in your chest, makes you want to vomit and the mere idea of it probably make you unsettled, agitated, anxious, possibly panicked and nauseous. Contemplate what makes you uncomfortable. Then hold it and stay there. We can’t release pain fully until we understand the cause. Believe me it can be surprising.

Really? I’m not sure you quite understand? I’m caught in a loop of self-destructive behaviour that is far from savoury and you think it’s ok? Yes I do. Growth is far more painful than stagnation. Personal growth is all about diving deep cutting out the distractions and finding new ways to feel that take you to different territory. We need to move past numbing, self-medicating and the beautiful anxiety of stagnation. We have to be brave enough to dare to grow. Growth is painful. So the thing is what ever is going on for you, is protecting you from the pain of growth and you have to decide if you want to keep your hand in the fire. The worst thing that you ever experience can often be the best thing. It’s like trial by fire. Failing is the way through pain….

The Importance of Sleep

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They say that “Life is a choice”. That we are our choices, and that all we have to do is choose something else to make major life change.  I have to say I’ve figured this out much later in life than I would like to admit to, it is the small things that build stability and actually they are the massive things. In the days where we’re sold quick fixes via ten step programmes that will transform our lives in 5 days. Changing one thing can seem minimalist.

This morning I rose late, it was an active choice one of the benefits of working for yourself. In fact Monday is my lazy work day. I brush my teeth, I wash my face, stay in my pyjamas, I switch on my laptop and work from the couch. It’s part of my personal self-care routine. I work less and that’s what I want, 4 full days a week max and I like it that way. It means I have time for me. Lazy Monday gives me a work day without masks where there is no pretending or being polite. It is in essence and day of hermitage. Where my own emotional landscape is my priority.

A massive part of my self-nurturance journey is sleep, it’s always been sleep, if you remove it my world  falls apart rapidly. I become cranky, irritable and unreasonable. A toddler heading for tantrum territory. Sleeping and snoozing sometimes in the middle of the afternoon is one of my own keys to emotional filing. If I am disturbed or perturbed it’s my first go to solution. Napping can almost instantly transform your outlook. Its been a learnt process. I often feel that it is one of my greatest indulgences, especially in a society that suffers from chronic sleep deprivation.  Sleep deprivation is one of the greatest healing crisis facing the western world. Beyond this many of us have lost our ability to dream and find the imagery that helps us process our waking worlds. If I sleep without dreaming my emotional filing systems is failing I feel bereft, disconnected. I can’t process my days. I can’t find the symbolism that helps me interpret my life.

We have also undermined the importance of rest. Meditation and yoga are prescribed as cure alls, as they may well be. As we hope to live energised and tireless lives these are the  snappy tools for productivity. However if we are still and take time to rest we create the opportunity to delve into life and appreciate it for what it really is an endless chain of fleeting moments strung together for our entertainment.

As I travel through my own journey and envision a smooth tarmacadam surface that takes me through the dream like landscape of my own life. I often wonder about those people who have the perfect routine, that eat clean, are happy with their organic fair trade  chardonnay and bio degradable yoga mat. Of course that’s what I aspire to too and if I was ready to sink deep to the early morning fog of clarity that waking yoga brings I’d be there in a moment.