Life

Take Care Of Yourself First

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This is Delphine clearly an Oracle looking badass while mothering hard. When the tough get going the tough drink tea.

Every so often my mind develops little mantras. This one “Take Care of Yourself First” came to me a few weeks ago while I was literally about to wet myself while trying to turn on the laptop to save time. Fucking ridiculous right? Right? Do you do this? I do this kind of stuff all the time and it drives me more then a little crazy too. Like many people I think that I am a multitasking god. Which I absolutely can be at times. Then you have moments like the one above where you mindfully facepalm yourself and decide going to the toilet is more important than productivity or in fact essential to productivity. I mean seriously. It’s the small things right?

Sometime in a my mid-twenties I remembered becoming so acutely aware of running on autopilot about many small tasks, only because I started to have “accidents” or lets say oversights. Not necessarily wetting myself more the inside out pants situation; cause you didn’t actually check. For want of falling into a stereo type things like leaving the hand break on and that kind of stuff. Then you remember I’m not God. I just need to be firmly assured in the fact if I’m not paying attention I’m likely to make mistakes. As are you. We are all human after all. That’s a humbling realisation for many of us. The great news is we can save ourselves deep levels of embarrassment and humiliation. If we pay attention to the small stuff, notate the it’s daily mastery is a minor lesser noted miracle and achieving beyond this is well worthy of note, recognition and possible some kind of award scheme.

A mate of mine Sonia Mather (a womanly demigod and my one of my personal gurus) often refers to this strategy as Oxygen Living. The principle behind this is that you have to put your oxygen mask first before helping anybody else. Being a mother she learned early on that as one of the main co-collaborators in her family life. She was personally responsible for holding that the family together (groundbreaking I know). Caught in the exhaustive and endless quandary of taking care of two young children;  she realised if she wasn’t taking care of herself who else would? Her two young children couldn’t do it and nor could her husband as if like here he wasn’t battling his own challenges, he two was wrestling with two small children. Other than taking turns at alone time there really weren’t any other option than to put personal care at the top of the list. Which is incredibly challenging with two small kids. Cause guess what you can’t leave them alone and personal control is a human skill that many adults have yet too mastered (me included). Mothering is a masterclass in personal survival (that’s why Mothers are amazing).  This also reminds me of my own mother defiantly drinking a cup of tea at the end of a long day at work before delving into our stuff. Or the many mother that have barricaded themselves into a bathroom for a long awaited bath with the music turned up. So there you have it. Taking care of yourself first is essential for the survival of future generations and the human race and thus very very important.

Life Expectations

IMG-0172Yup this is the big stuff right here. Maybe Leonard Cohen summed in up best with Bird On A wire Expectations, if you can crack this well, there is reason to believe you can crack anything. Seriously. Expectations? Seriously most of us are born into this particular segment of our lives well and truly fucked. First of all people are always asking you “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Second of all we are all systematically bombarded by parents, media, the educations system with what the fuck we should be doing. Even Ted Talks ask almost every particpant to conform to “their” format of speaking. I mean fuck them. Really? Seriously? You want ideas to change the world yet we must all conform to your style standards. Right o then. I think fucking not. Can you sense my outrage. So here it is expectations. Born, Job, Buy a Car, Marry, Buy a House, Parent, Grandparent, Leave a Legacy, Die. And could you do all of that as gracefully as possible without upsetting anybody. No I don’t think so? Can you? No. Is this totally fucking unrealistic? Yes. What an excellent reason to free your mind.

Human Life expectations seem to present as some form of cultural dogma. That’s true. It’s fucking wild that our most basic of humans choices seemed to be being dictated to by some kind of cultural hive mind. That straying from the accepted norms may well fuck the system. God know that declining birth rates in the western world are freaking people out. We’re back to the feudal system here guys. Less people, less power (in case you haven’t figured that out, lets not talk about China. Look away now). The fact that any one of us does not manage to reach these “bench marks” is by no means a reflection on us. Most of us have no idea what we are doing here in this earthling experieince. Much less what we are doing here in the right now and seem to be completely boggled by the idea that there is already a pre-determined system that we should be slotting into before we’ve even figured out what our hands are for. Yes seriously people have decided that you will graduate university before you have even figured out how to use your hands.

Expectations for ourselves obviously have to become completely muddled and muddied as a result of the information that we are given. Now we have Facebook and Instagram I can only imagine how confused most youngsters are by there level of aspiration. Have you heard? They just closed The Beach permanently, our hedonistic quest for light relief in paradise is fucked also. So expectations? Really what do you expect? Is it realistic? And are you starting this quest with your self. I’ll give you an example? I expect people to be honest with me……..am I honest? Yes to the best of my knowledge. I expect to have beautiful things……..can I define beauty? Sometimes……Yup get right into your head and ask the big questions…….

The Ride of Your Life

IMG-0031Is it really all snakes and ladders? Is it a roller coaster ride? Or is it the hamster wheel of hell? I suppose that all depends on where you are on your journey. It also depends on what are the best choices for you. We all have patterns and any one of us has the right to make there own decisions. Anyone of us has the right to decide what is the best feeling for you. What I can tell you based entirely on my own experience is that we create our own reality. That your current reality might seem like the best choice that you can make at any given time. I absolutely believe you. At any given time you have the access to the best decision possible for you. The thing is that you are perfect just as you are. That the place where you are is exactly where you need to be right now. You can also choose to go somewhere else. Of course this might not be the case if you are experiencing some form of modern slavery. Yes that’s a real thing. Do you feel better now?

You see we can all allow ourselves to be drop kicked into next week. Any girl with PMT (and her unsuspecting partner) can tell you that our physiology, never mind environment or human connections have the ability to fuck you over. Throw you off the playful merry-go-round that we thought we were in charge of spinning for ourselves and leave us bruised, broken and temporarily scarred for a few weeks. If this happens to you then of course we will feel the searing pain of being thrown to the floor, literally hitting rock bottom. Then we can stay there and allow ourselves to bleed to death while picking at scabs at on our elbows. Crying for everyone else around us to help us. Then wonder why they don’t or in fact why they shout at us to get up, causing us even more distress. The thing is that we have the solution, other people can see it and we can’t. That’s fucking scary, I know. That we might not be able to see the obvious. Even more terrifying is that we might not able to feel the obvious. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to feel better. Fuck you for not helping me. Can you see the challenge. Few people want to have to tolerate another person’s pain. You know why? It’s painful. The truth is is all anybody really wants is love. All anybody really needs to heal is love and you can access that at anytime. All you have to do is think of something nice. Maybe it’s sunshine or rainbows or your favourite Death Metal Punk Band. Yes life experiences and your reaction to them (which you can’t necessarily control) can kick the shit out of you but if you can find something to reach for that makes you feel better. You are going to find it easier and easier to feel good.

Clearing Space

IMG-9833There is nothing quit like cleaning your house to help get your mind in order “Tidy house tidy mind”. This week I’ve been totally deep cleaning. Pulling out the couch. Getting under the bed. Dusting the picture rails. Just getting fully committed to my dharma. That in order to start fresh each morning we need to have a clean slate to start from.That resetting the clock for what you want from life can start on a 24 hour countdown each day. How very liberating, exhausting and terrifying all that once. That everyday, exactly where you are you have everything you need. All we have to do is get down to the exact science of living. That the what if’s and the what only’s could be actioned in every moment. To live your life fully.

It’s easy to let things stagnate, plonk a whole load of things on the to do list without every really getting round to doing them. Stuff can hold us back. Whether it is things in our head, the endless to do lists or just getting round to doing our dishes.

Even the random things that have crept into the seams of the couch, whether it is a business card or a penny, can absorb our energy as we mull these objects over. Seriously if it doesn’t bring you the ecstatic joy of discovering a lots pound coin. Then get rid of it. Quick smart and pronto.  So much mental space can literally be taken up with stuff.

That is exactly what clearing space does. It allows us to live most fully in our present moments. Our richest day in the one we are living right now. Where everything is in order. Yes it’s a lot to aspire to everything in order and in it’s place. Committing to the work, likes it’s groundhog day. Diligently setting aside that which no longer serves us day after day and setting the intention for the next. Inviting in the lovely stuff, that bunch of flowers some incense or your favourite tea. Clarity is sure to bring abundance. After all you can’t take it all with you and we do have all we need to thrive in this world. Creating a space that brings instant joy for the moments we have is clearing space on the deepest level.

We can free ourselves of the emotional baggage and the burdens of limitation in any moment. We only have to change our minds and choose something else. Having a deep clean and a de-cluttering can be as effective way as any of getting clarity in you life and figuring out all those priorities. It can certainly make you feel better to lie out on an open space, free from distractions. It make room creativity and master planning of the best kind. Yes clear space so that abundance can flow.

Expand Your Circle

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Beyond drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. If there was one thing that I would recommend for a good life it is friends. Now first of all this might seem obvious. Second of all it wasn’t to me. I have spent much of my life chasing good friendships. If you really want to get to grips with what is going on for you in your life, friendships will act as a mirror to your challenges as much as any romantic relationship that you might have.

The impact that your close knit support can have on you can be profound, to the point that they may very well deny your basic needs, from a glass of water to unbroken sleep. It’s true and many of us humans are in deep denial about the impact that dysfunctional relationships can have on our basic survival even as adults. If you are indeed in a situation where none of your basic needs are met, where you don’t feel supported, then as challenging as it might be it’s time to leave.

Everyone is deserving of support. Everyone is entitled to a glass of water, a safe place to sleep and to feel connected and held by the people who surround them. Often time depending on how we have been raised we can believe that just because people are there that and that they have not chosen to abandon us that they are our friends. This is not always true. Often people try to hold on to us in there lives in order to feel powerful. They get power out of demeaning us, undermining our own thought and ideas, or belittling and berating what brings us joy or purpose. You may suspect that people don’t want what is best for you. As you feel that they corrode your self-worth.

You are in control of how you feel about yourself. You are always able to love yourself and as you take steps towards self-nurturance you will soon understand that although it is nice to have people in your life. You can choose who those people are and how you want to feel. The next time that you are in someones company, what I would encourage you to do is to become aware of how you feel. If someone makes you feel special then that is the person you want to be round, if someone makes you feel a little knarly round the edges, maybe it’s time to examine what’s going on there.

Like relationships, no friendship is perfect. You are in a friendship to give too. We have to accept another persons humaness and do our best to not make our humaness another persons burden.

If you genuinely have no friends, feel isolated, and have no support network it’s time to get out there and find your tribe. They exist and they are just as flawsome as you. The only way that you are really going to find the friends that your deserve is by being  yourself. Only then can you attract people that are the right sort of weird to your irresistible flame. What you might also like to do, is to make sure, that you are clear about what kind of friend that you want to be. Do I call people back? Do I keep in touch when someone who is having a tough time? Do I remember peoples birthdays? Be the friend that you want to be and a beautiful human is sure to turn up with the right kind of food for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Flawsome

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When you work in personal development and especially as a Life Doula there is the idea of an invisible and imaginary line that separate your work from your personal life. As I get further into my own personal development, life journey and a deeper knowledge of self, that line becomes increasingly more blurred. I started out with a clear idea of what I wanted to write about, as the The Life Doula, themes that I wanted to explore. Now I know that our greatest learning is from our own direct experience of our own lives. It seems strange  trying to write at a distance about life with self-help references while in truth learning the most from the non-refracted processes that we experience daily. All the while wondering, what was that all about? Is it me? Is it my family? My romantic relationship? Is it the world at large? Is this reaction or response definitive or is it a phase. In fact could it be the stars? Could it be the moon? Do I really need to engage with all this to fully understand myself? Is self-development a deeply personal act or should I be following some kind of shared doctrine? Is religion a feature? Is yoga truly necessary? Is meditation a must? Are spirituality or faith key in all of this? There are so many quests towards personal truth and an infinity of experiences that can take us there. I have to embrace my own complexity and thus fuddlings in the quest for the authentic representation of myself as The Life Doula.

This blog is where life interplays with representation. Who we truly are versus what we present. The masks that we uphold and fake plasticness of a branded stereotype that fits or maybe confounds a business model of a polished finished perfection that has inbuilt imperfection to seem more real.

Why am I writing about all this now today? Flawsomeness it’s a thing? I just got married, more succinctly maybe hosted a wedding. . Even as a Master Life Coach I did not perfectly segway the last few weeks of working, to bride to be, to bride, to married in a smooth pre-planned perfectly coordinated show. I fucked up. I became overworked, overwhelmed, and even exhausted, I broke under the pressure and I failed to deliver both privately and professionally on the level I would have liked. Even though I knew it was a big deal, even though I had planned well. Even though I took time and even scheduled the minutia. Big moments can knock us of course and they are supposed to. Life changing events change our priorities, even though we my have already planned to be perturbed.

 

As Inspiration Would Have It

IMG-8092Sometimes it can be a little bit challenging for me to know what to write? How to write it? or know who I am writing it for? The best thing that I know to do is to wait. That’s right. I literally find myself having to wait for inspiration. The good news is that on my quest to help heal humans and all the earthlings we impact on I’m finding more and more that where my joy lies is exactly where the trail is leading. Our modern guru masters are always telling me so and now I am beginning to get it.

This week has been remarkable for two reasons one I watched Evan Almighty – yes who would have thunk it and two it’s always better to work in community.  Three brains or maybe in this case, souls, are better than one. So Evan Almighty reminded me that the lessons, that we have to learn are not taught to us in the way that we expect. So over the last few weeks I have learned a valuable lesson in commitment. That even though things might not be going to plan, you can’t afford to play small. What I mean by that is that if you really are going to put all your energy into something, you really might as well put all your energy into it. Not only that, I have to get incredibly clear on what it is that I am trying to achieve and also gravitate towards serving in a way that shows who I am and yet also serves me. How do I do that? Oh wait a minute, by being who I am. How easy could it be!!! Yes that easy and yet so much more complicated. It’s such a massive journey of exploration.

So two, working in community. For a lot of years you could say that I have had a some what of a professional block about art. For the most part, I think art is wonderful. However as a trained Art Historian I’ve got a complicated relationship with pretty pictures. So much so that if I had to explain this extensively it may work it’s way down to being a Master’s degree thesis – Something to work for. Anyways. In my soul I’m an art lover, purveyor of beautiful objects, so much so that if I ever had a gallery it would be called Scopophilia (the love of looking). However as many of us have learned or intrinsically know the collection of beautiful objects or even experiences has a limited capacity to create an actionable impact on the landscape of the soul. So in recent decades in art and also within art theory there has been a growing attraction of the idea of anti-aesthetic. Think Banksy and you might get close to what I mean. His messages are powerful and clear however his art cannot necessarily be defined and either beautiful or uplifting. He is passing on a more sinister world view. Hence for me the deliberate absence of a pretty picture postcard life. My spiritual quest though anti-aestheticism, asks me to dig much deeper as to where I find meaning, connection or even hope. Think Rholihlahla Nelson Mandela and his bare cell. Coincidentally, if we join the dots, we might find the connection between the vow of poverty most nuns or monks take when joining a religious order and this man’s exceptional spiritual growth and teachings

There are secrets hidden everywhere.

What I now understand is that my gift for selecting the exquisite, should no longer be put out to wast and instead be utilised for alleviating the suffering of the soul and elevating the spirits just as many a public art gallery was designed to do. It was having a conversation with two people who were rather confused by my academic and somewhat redundant position that persuaded me to re-evaluate my stance, of which I am very pleased. I still retain the right to use my random weekly photographs to illustrate this blog …..

Re-evaluation

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One of the most brilliant things about life is that you can always change your mind. Too often we are lead to believe that life has a rigid format that must be adhered to at all times in order for us to be validated, rewarded, or even better acknowledged. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

If we look at the planet that we live on for clues; we find that nature is rarely predictable, the seasons come early or late, the rain arrives when it wants to. And if you grew up in Scotland (as I did) it’s possible to believe that the sun refuses to shine. Even as babies us humans rarely arrive on schedule and are largely forgiven for not birthing in a timely manner, much to our own mother’s sufferance.

The thing is the sun is always shining up there beyond the clouds and the earth is always gliding through it’s orbit without us much noticing. Right now all of us are moving at an incredible 110 000 km per hour and will travel a colossal 940 million kilometers in one year, even if we never leave our beds.

Sometimes the things that seem glaringly obvious can elude us. Other times the obvious answer isn’t the right one. No matter where you are or how far along you are in the journey or even the lengths that you have taken to achieve something in particular, you are always entitled to down tools, and take some time for contemplative practice.

Re-evaluation is a valuable part of any human process. What’s right for one person is not right for everybody. What’s the driving force for one generation is the rejected by the next. What one season brings the next one takes away. Being alive is the perfect balancing act, where few things stay the same, if any. Embrace the process.

 

 

The Disconnect

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Everyone is looking for a place to belong. Now more than ever with the advent of mega cities and the progression of the digital age. We are more connected than we are divided. Yet so many of us feel alone living isolated from the group unable to make meaningful connection. What’s even more troubling is that we don’t understand the reason why.

You’ll probably be amazed that the industrial revolution might be the cause. Before the advent of industrialised economies the truth of the matter is that most humans lived in pastoral communities living in something near to subsistence farming. We like to think that many of us were living in large manor houses with our own libraries. This was simply not the case for large swathes of the population.

Prior to the industrial revolution most of us were uneducated illiterate peasants who were depended on family bonds and tribal connections to ensure our survival. The advent of the industrial revolution and global land appropriation soon came to challenge the way that humans had been living together for millennia. People moved out of rural communities into cities in order to turn their hand to the machine based work of the steam age. Mass migration and land enclosure debased family dependency and dispersed communities. Many of us lost our connection to the land from which we came, the landscapes we occupied or even the seasons that surrounded us.

It was here in the 19th century that modern education came to the fore. Education was initiated as a form of social training that was designed to prepare children for the workforce and productivity in a highly mechanised and systemised work of the factory. The need for child workers and their education, corroded and removed children from their families, and diminished tribal influence. Education and the subsequent introduction to the work place offered an individual independence that many had never experienced before. Individual financial success paved the way out of poverty and minimized the need to maintain family ties and lead the way towards individualism. Financial success alone has been regarded the pinnacle of human existence and as humans misguided by a capitalistic agenda we have come to believe that our value is intrinsically related our financial productivity. Which is for the most part the biggest lie ever told.

It’s time to reconnect. The truth is that it is almost impossible to survive without some kind of human connection. In modern society, deep inter-human connections and long standing relationships are the key signifier of a long life beyond anything else. It turns out finding a tribe is essential to living a fulfilling and good life. Love really is the answer. This is why we don’t read out our bank statements at funerals.

Transported

IMG-7997I’ve spent the last few years really exploring what it is that as humans we have to do to in order to heal ourselves and embrace our soul journey, while still actively engaging with Earth the Human paradise the perfect place to grow.

It occurs to me that often in this life journey and particularly in the west that the route for many people and the way to spiritual growth is through travel. Travelling is a term that gets banded about without much thought to its actual meaning or even its implications in the most general of terms. The idea of travelling now to me also highlights how disconnected we have become from the idea of dharma and the experience of the human bodily experience. It also draws attention to the concept of bought experience, as our expanding idea of culture and how this is at odds with almost everything that we know about spirituality. This for me brings back into focus the idea of pilgrimage.

For a long time the idea of traveling in and of itself has perturbed me. I write this as someone who has lived in several different countries and find myself in my current incarnation living in Cape Town, South Africa very far from the country of my birth. At some time in the noughties two things happened; the travel bug lost its luster and it became quite clear that carbon fuels were destroying the planet, with any one plane journey rapidly burning through a full year’s allowance. It was obvious that if you were a conscientious world citizen plane travel was a big no no. In the meantime the Guardian still flouted climate change disaster headlines across its front cover, while still published the most exotic far flung and obscure destinations in its extensive travel segment.

Now for me when I think about travel and more specifically about journey’s I realise that most people aren’t interested in travelling. The want to be transported. We no longer want to be in our bodies and travail the earth. We want to be delivered to other worldly places in order to discover ourselves.

It’s the ultimate capitalistic pay off, many spend months working in bars, years even scraping together the cost for the trip of a life time. When all they really have to do is step on to the road outside their front door and make a decision. Often people go places and they have no idea why they are going there. Everybody else is doing it so why can’t we. In the current age the need for travel seems to be a quest for cheap beer. Escapism from escapism.

Yet we espouse stillness and mindfulness as a cure all for almost every spiritual ailment. In fact we fly thousands of miles to find stillness. When all the answers are here. Right within us.