The Energies are Ripe for Release & Transmutation

It's the start of a New Year and the energies are really intense. A great time for releasing old patterns and stepping up into something new.
Image courtesy of geralt.

Bam-wham. Is it just me or is the Universe working at a really accelerated rate to get us to where we want to be – and where It wants us to be – right now?

These last few weeks through the end of 2016 and the first few days of 2017 have felt like an energetic ball of fire blowing through me. Swirling up dozens of my patterns, bringing them up for release.

Among the multitude of things that have come up for me are an old, old pattern from childhood – an incident I knew was of significance but had no idea quite how much – that had me putting constant checks on how I allowed myself to be in my interactions with others.

Glad to get to the root of that one.

Now to integrate the awareness that it’s Safe to be me, whether other people like and accept Authentic Me or not.

There’s also been a lot coming up around control.

My tendency towards obedience to rules without questioning. My irrational fear of authority figures. My ingrained pattern of submitting and yielding my power to both those in societal positions of power; and those who I feel are somehow superior to me – whether that be in strength, age, wisdom, knowledge or experience.

My co-dependent tendencies that have allowed me to be manipulated and controlled by others in relationship.

The same tendencies that have had me also trying to manipulate and control others – particularly their opinions of me.

Always striving to be the kind, compassionate, loving friend, colleague or partner who overlooks and forgives. Justifying and rationalizing behavior that dishonors me or the relationship out of a long-nursed fear of losing the other person’s love if I allow the Kali-infused incensed part of my personality that wants to honor my Truth to raise its voice.

Swallowing my pain instead of asking for what I need.

My new commitment to myself is to voice my needs and what I desire to experience, even when I’m scared of the possible consequences.

I am trusting that what is meant for me will stay; the rest be blown away in the wind.

More “stuff” coming up around the way I give my authority and power away to others by taking on too much advice and too many opinions instead of allowing myself to be the only and sovereign power in my life.

Choosing to deepen into trusting my intuitive knowing about the path my Soul is leading me on instead.

Clearing and releasing around the ways I have dishonored others and allowed them to dishonor me.

Committing to step up into a more authentic relationship with my Voice in relationships with others.

Accepting that it’s okay for others to be upset with me sometimes. That I’m probably not being true to myself if they’re not.

Letting go of my need to “control” and take responsibility for things that are not mine.

Setting myself free of all that extraneous, unnecessary drama.

Starting to let people be who they are without trying to change or “save” them.

Letting the world be what it is without resistance.

Being okay with “what is” however that presents. Knowing some things are beyond my control and others – yes, you got it – nothing to do with me.

Releasing the feeling that I need to make things better for people; “rescue” them from their pain; or take their problem away.

Knowing it is only when we face our pain and come through it that we reap the seeds of true joy and authenticity; that I dishonor others when I take their experience away.

So much forgiveness coming up, too.

Forgiveness for myself.

Forgiveness for former partners.

Forgiveness up and down my ancestral lines.

Forgiveness also asked for the whole of humanity and the way we have dishonored the Earth, ourselves, each other.

Issues around abundance rising to the surface; an opening up to receive more of mine.

Releasing my distrust and dislike of the feminine.

The part of me that perceives it as weak, submissive, unvoiced, powerless.

The part of me that perceives it as wild, sensual, passionate, untamed: is scared of embracing that power.

Awakening to the knowing that I desire to embody the Divine in a more feminine way. To not only deepen into meditation and spiritual practices; but to also embrace the vital, alive, playful and sensuous being that is the feminine embodiment of all that I Am.

Opening up; allowing myself to be expressed as a fully-embodied sensual woman. Exploring what that means for me.

Allowing myself to reclaim all the places where I’ve held myself back for fear of being “too much.”

Giving myself permission to be a strong and powerful woman; not just a soft and gentle one.

Embracing – whispering words of comfort and strength to – my resistance, my fear around being vulnerable; my resistance and fear around being seen; being fully me; relinquishing my habit of making myself “smaller” and “less than” so I fit in better with what society wants and/or expects of me.

Allowing myself to step into and own my magnificence; the light and radiance that I Am.

Many of these are things that I’ve worked on before: now I’m revisiting them on a deeper level.

They’ve been released and cleared – to the extent that is possible for me at this time – with help from my guides and angels; the Archangels and Masters. Also an exceptionally well-timed T.I.M.E. Heal session with Lisa Jo Davis, ZPoint session with Reba Linker, and Soul sessions with Michaela Jane of Step Into Your True Power And Shine and Total Goddess Immersion.

I know these patterns are not necessarily 100% cleared. I know we’re always a work in progress – that there’s always more love and expansiveness we can grow into.

I don’t need to be told that I now need to translate these a-ha moments and the stuff I’ve cleared around them into real and discernible change in my life.

But I also know that a significant amount of transformation and the transmuting of these energies has already taken place. It’s felt huge, powerful, expansive and life-changing.

With the unexpected sighting of Venus on January second – I felt drawn to go outside for a walk shortly before dusk and when I looked at the sky I had no idea what to think. It was like there was a very bright and unusually placed star close to, and in perfect alignment with, the moon. I felt a powerful surge of energy fill me as I gazed on these two orbs of light in the night sky; seemingly so close, yet so far away.

On returning home and finding out it was Venus, I did a bit of Internet sleuthing.

“Venus is a very advanced spiritual place, with highly developed arts and a fantastic system of spiritual healing and cosmic schools,” I read.*

Yes, I am totally ready to receive and welcome some more of that energy into my cells and life.

It felt like yet another confirmation of the miraculous and game-changing time we are living in.

I am so thankful to the guides, angels and Masters who have helped – and are helping – me to clear so much with ease and grace; who nudged me to go outside at just the right time to experience the Cosmos align in this way.

It feels like we are being called to open up to and expand into so much more of our power and Truth.

I feel the Universe there guiding and supporting us every step of the way; sending guides and angels and the perfect healing modalities to intercede for us as we do.

Yes, the Universe really does have my/(our) back(s).

I know my strength and my power do not lie in my Ego; but in my Soul, the Oversoul and my connection to Divine Source.

In trusting in, surrendering to, that connection.

May I continue to allow myself to expand into more of my authentic power; an ever-more intimate relationship with Source.

May we all continue to expand into more of our authentic power and an ever-more intimate relationship with our Source.

I am sending out love and golden rays of light, peace and joy to be with you at the start of this New Year my friends.

Full steam ahead into 2017, and whatever it may bring.

*Quote taken from https://wherethelightcomes.com/questions-and-answers/

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Do Whatever It Is Anyway (In Spite of Your Fears)

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Image credit: deviantart.net

At the start of this year I boldly made this quote by Neil Gaiman my Facebook cover photo. This, I decided, was the banner I was going to live under in 2015.

I know in my head the value of mistakes. I know, as they say, that “Success is 99% failure,” that every single person who has done something great in the world has encountered as many failures along the way as they have successes. I know that almost all success is built on the bedrock of failure.

And still I’d spent a lifetime being afraid; afraid of making mistakes.

Afraid of what? That I’d say the wrong thing; make a bad decision; not be able to do something “right;” not be able to do it as well as everybody else; not be able to do it in a way that would garner approval…

Afraid of the illusion of failure – a phantom created by my own mind – and the ghosts of other people’s opinions.

Afraid, always, that I wouldn’t be good enough.

Or, more to the point, that I wouldn’t be good enough for someone else.

The place that this had played out most recently was in my pottery. In previous years I’d found a personal style that I liked and had also been well received by others. Now I found myself divided between wanting to explore new things, step out into new artistic territory; and the fear that whatever I did next wouldn’t live up to what I’d already done; wouldn’t be good enough or as well received.

Afraid that I didn’t have what it takes.

Afraid, also, that cowardice in the face of my ego-driven doubts and distrust of self would petrify and fossilise my work , immobilising me and curtailing the growth of my artistic expression.

So this quote of Neil Gaiman’s I stumbled upon felt gloriously freedom-filled and full of space.

It was a declaration on my part to engage with my art and life boldly and with courage; to be open to the creative force of life and to let it flow through me unhindered, unleashing the fullness of its power in whichever way it chose.

Even when I – or at least the ego-driven self-criticising fault-finding part of me – wasn’t sure it was right.

Heck, especially when I wasn’t sure it was right.

In fact I decided, returning to my pottery, that when it came to artistic exploration there is no “right” or “wrong.”

There are standards, certainly – though even these are inevitably subjective – but if art is primarily about self-expression can it ever be “wrong?”

Bad? Yes. (In an individual’s or group of individuals’ – which may or may not include the artist’s – opinion).

But wrong? No, I don’t think so.

In particular artistic exploration – the initial stages of experimentation with the germ of a new idea, taking a creative concept and tentatively putting it into physical form – while essential to any  artistic process can only take place when we give ourselves permission and licence to make mistakes.

The germ of a new idea is a seed of latent potential from which great art may, or may not, be born. But we will never know if we trample on it and stamp it underfoot before it’s had time to take root.

So with Neil’s words to bolster me I decided that I would no longer allow myself to buy into my ego’s stories about there being a “right way” and a “wrong way” to do art. Nor its nagging insistence that my way of doing it was – of course – remember this is the ego self we’re talking about – the “wrong way.”

Indeed I would forget about “art” – along with its exclusivity, its judgements and the notion that there’s a bar to reach – altogether;  choosing instead to focus on creative self-expression and my desire to let the beauty that is born of my soul flow though me and give rise to work that embodies the purest essence of myself and reflects the life and the light within.

Discarding preconceived ideas of “rightness” I would do what felt right to me, focusing on creative exploration and enjoyment of the medium and process rather than on the finished piece and how I thought it would be received.

Having said all of this of course I still wanted to create good pots. Forget that, I wanted to create great pots – great pots that were both uniquely mine and serenaded my soul with their beauty. But the part of me that was itching to expand my creative vision realised that the only way I would be able to do that was if I allowed myself to make mistakes.

Any creative endeavour (whether in art or in life) needs this freedom. It is imperative to allow ourselves the space to make mistakes in order for our creativity to be unleashed.

Creativity is not supposed to be perfect, and when we put unrealistic expectations on it we hold ourselves back from the fullness of our creative expression for fear that we may “fail” – inadvertently crushing the seed and choking its growth, rendering the creative process barren.

The dictionary definition of creative is:

“Relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something.” (Emphasis mine).

To be creative means to explore something new, something that has never been seen in quite this form before and that, inherently, implies risk.

The risk of getting it “wrong.”

It is impossible for the act of creativity to take place in our “safe zones.”  It has nothing to do with familiar territory and feeling comfortable and everything to do with courageously leaping over hurdles, fearlessly pushing back boundaries – our own as well as those of our art.

Great pots cannot be made without mistakes.

Great pots cannot be made without creativity, vision, courage, commitment, persistence, perseverance and a deep and abiding belief in oneself and the germ of an idea that has been given to you to bring forth into the world.

And just as art is a mirror for life…

great people, great moments and great lives cannot be made without mistakes.

(Only with life you don’t get that forgiving “test tile” stage).

It goes without saying that great people/moments/lives… great anything can only be made with creativity, vision, courage, commitment, persistence, perseverance and a deep and abiding belief in oneself and the germ of the idea that has been given to you to bring forth into the world.

So I’ll choose to focus, instead, on the bit about mistakes – though it’s far less glamorous than the rest; far less appealing to our egos; far more liable to kindle our resistance…

But greatness in “art, or love, or work or family or life” cannot be either aspired to or attained without a generous helping of mistakes along the way.

We need to make mistakes if we want to actualise our potential and expand into more of our own unique magnificence. Because if we’re not making mistakes it means, quite simply, that we’re not trying anything new. The hands of time might be turning but we remain static, locked in position, doing and being more of the same.

A mistake turned around in the kaleidoscope of our minds, seen from a new frame of perspective, is an affirmation. One that says:

“I’m in motion. I’m giving expression to the life force that flows through me. I’m getting out there and doing my thing.”

Or, to use Neil Gaiman’s words again:

“(I’m) making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing (my)self, changing (my)self, changing (my) world. (I’m) doing things (I)’ve never done before, and more importantly, (I’m) Doing Something.”

That “Doing Something” counts for a lot, never mind the rest. We all deserve to be recognised for whatever our “something” is. And who do we need this recognition from the most? Our self.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of knowing that we are on our own side; that we believe in who we are so much that it doesn’t matter whether anybody else does or not. Not in an arrogant “know it all” kind of way; but in a “knowing-that-you’re-not-perfect-and-will-make-mistakes-and-yet-still-having-the-faith-that-you-can-and-will-come-through-on-your-commitments-to-yourself” kind of way.

So next time you make a mistake instead of criticising yourself and calling yourself something unflattering and/or unkind, why don’t you congratulate yourself – celebrate your awesomeness, your courage, your dauntlessness? Your boldness in showing up, living, learning, expanding; your willingness to get out there and do your thing.

Celebrate your mistake and everything that brought you to this place for it is nothing less than proof that you are in motion; that you are taking the challenge that life throws down in front of us each and every day; that you are getting out there and doing something.

And it is only in doing something that we open up the possibility of doing something great.

Coming full circle back to the subject of my pottery, did my new championing of mistakes and boldness of approach produce “great pots?”

Well, both yes and no, (another subjective opinion of course).

My experimentations with form towards the end of the year yielded a uniquely shaped bowl reminiscent of Ancient Rome or Greece that spoke to me so much of beauty that I kept it for myself.

My experimentations with surface didn’t immediately yield quite the same degree of success. A design of circles and arches that looked great on the flat and one-dimensional test piece didn’t translate so well when transferred to three-dimensional pots. It isn’t “bad” as such but it doesn’t quite speak to my soul, fill my heart with joy.

Another experiment with surface does, I think, contain that elusive spark of freshness and a big dash of daring that – if they harmonise in just the right way – could grow into an exhilarating new way for me to interact with the surfaces of pots. But it still needs a lot of work: the combination of slips and glazes was excessive, marring the attractiveness of the surface with extensive pinholing.

I’m sure that there’s a seed of great potential there, but I’ve had to reconcile myself to the fact that it’s still in its embryonic stage. It will be up to me next year to create the right conditions for the seed to grow; a process of continuous tweaking through repeated experiments until, with luck, I get the balance just right.

And this is another thing that my year of embracing mistakes has taught me; an important part of the whole process has been learning what to do with all the mistakes I’ve made. (And the ones I’ve mentioned barely begin to scrape the surface of  mistakes made practicing pottery, never mind the mistakes I’ve made in life at large).

Instead of lamenting what has gone “wrong,” creating a field of negativity around the mistake and blowing it up so big in my mind it obscures everything else – including all those things I’ve been getting “right” and could/should be celebrating; I’ve become much better at accepting the mistake for what it is, seeing it as just another experience – neither good nor bad, recognising it as a source of valuable information, absorbing the lesson it has for me, moving on.

I’m finally starting to comprehend that my “mistakes” are as important as my “successes.” That, in fact, it’s all a success; every last bit of it. What enables me to say this? The kaleidoscope of my mind has shifted allowing me to see how both my mistakes and my successes add unimaginable value to my life. The “successes” build my confidence, motivate and inspire me to be the best me I can. The “failures/mistakes” give me invaluable insights about where I am in relation to where I want to be and, more often than not, also help to ground a deeper and more complete understanding of whatever it is I’m currently working on. It all comes together in one messy but unified whole to propel me forward in the direction I want to go. And with success being defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose,” what can be more “successful” than that?

When we fully integrate the stance that mistakes are a kind of confirmation; proof that we’re “making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing (our)self, changing (our)self, changing (our) world… doing things (we)’ve never done before, and more importantly… Doing Something,” we start to shift our perception. We sense that a life lived with too few mistakes will invite more regrets than a life lived with too many; and this is a large part of what gives us the courage to step up and embrace the fullness of life – mistakes and all.

The cusp of the year is always a time rich with meaning and ripe for self-introspection. A good question to ask ourselves is: Where am I holding myself back –  whether that be in “art, or love, or work or family or life” – frozen on the precipice of change/motion for fear of making a mistake?

The answer will come in the quiet space of your heart, the space where the soul speaks to us. As you peer into yourself acknowledging where you are holding yourself in check, you are likely to be met with a harsh lash of retaliation from your Ego as it tries, with everything its got, to resist the change that it senses you’re about to make. (To our Ego the familiar equals safe and anything else is seen as a challenge to its dominance, threatening to topple it from its throne and putting its rule in peril).

Feel your fear; know it intimately; make it your friend. For your fear is doing you a beautiful kindness, giving you valuable information about just how much this thing, whatever it is, means to you – if you didn’t care about it on a deep level it wouldn’t hold such a charge for you. You wouldn’t be so afraid to step out. Your fear of making a mistake is doing you the service of showing you just how important it is to you.

So feel your fear and know, by way of it, how much of you is invested in whatever this thing is; it’s intricately woven together with your longing to get it “right.”

Know, too, that in your beautiful messy jumble of humanity you’re still going to get bits of it “wrong.” After all,  one of the few certainties in life is that we all make umpteen mistakes along the way.

Feel your fear fully, and then… Do Whatever It Is Anyway.

As Neil enjoins: “Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect… Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.”

We didn’t come here to be perfect; we came here to grow and expand.

And the only way we can do that is by embracing and learning from our mistakes.

So as we go forth into another new year let’s commit to making more and more “glorious, amazing mistakes.” Let’s celebrate them; let’s celebrate what they tell us about ourselves.

Let’s garner the information they hold and discover what works for us. Create the conditions that stimulate the seed of creative potential within to germinate, allowing us to bring forth and make manifest in tangible form the germs of ideas we have been given.

Let’s celebrate the self who’s bold enough to do this; the self who in her perfect imperfection dares to make mistakes – for that is who we came here to be.

Let’s celebrate this self who loves and lives and follows the heart’s longings.

The self who dares to let go of limitation and boldly dance with life itself.

 

 

Be Still – There’s a Time to Be Active and a Time to Rest

Heron

(I wrote this, for the most part, a couple of weeks ago now but it can take me a while to finish my often lengthy posts and I feel this one is always of relevance).

I had great plans for Monday morning, the first morning of a fresh new week.

I was going to get up with the alarm, do my morning practices and attack the day with zest.

I was going to do the washing, walk my dog, do the last little bits to prepare for my afternoon classes, sterilise some jars, make a phone call, answer the mails in my inbox, get behind the pottery wheel and create.

After that, if time allowed, I was even thinking I could get a start on cleaning my house and/or work on a half-finished blog post, depending on in which direction my mood led me.

All before eating a late lunch and heading out for my afternoon classes at three.

Looking at it on paper like this, it sounds entirely possible. Or the first half at least.

But plans on paper don’t take into account the ebb and flow of energy.

I woke up on Monday tired, with a latent tension in my shoulders that spoke of the need for rest.

Even the day was gray; not a day for doing the washing – giving me an excuse for that one at least.

This compulsion of mine to make excuses for myself and my lack – in this case of activity – is significant, worth taking a few moments to delve into.

I have made huge strides in the areas of self-love and self-acceptance in the last couple of years. But my need to make the excuse reveals a part of me that is still striving to prove itself worthy through ‘doings’ – specifically, the amount that gets done; rather than allowing me to just be, accepting myself, however I may be, in each passing moment. Essentially it’s showing me where I need to heal, what still needs to be surrendered to wholeness.

But coming back to Monday… I don’t often neglect my morning practices. And I did manage to sterilise the jars… It goes without saying that I walked my dog; and I also cleaned her ears and slathered her in the aloe gel I’m using to combat her ear and skin problems and, of course, I got everything ready for my classes. Then I treated myself to an hour or so writing.

But all of that was after I’d stayed in bed way past my alarm and spent a couple of hours easing myself into the morning very, very gently… doing quite a good job of doing nothing really – zoning out on the sofa; eating breakfast; checking Facebook; a few gentle stretches… And on a weekday, a Monday no less – the day I had planned to get myself off on a good footing for the week ahead.

In the not too distant past I would have beaten myself up for this, spent the morning feeling guilty for all that I wasn’t getting done, making myself feel worse in the process.

But I’ve wised up to the self-destruction inherent in this. We encounter enough people who make us wrong during the course of a lifetime, without inflicting the same pain and guilt-ridden shame on ourselves.

As our body, mind and spirit are intricately intertwined – an integral whole, the words we speak to ourselves and the narratives with which we fill our heads literally determine our state of well-being. if we want to be healthy, happy and whole, we need to start loving and accepting ourselves as we are; not beating ourselves up for not being somebody else or some way else – in this particular case somebody more efficient, better at getting things done, and more successful at staying in alignment with their proposed goals for the day.

I have intoned these and other harsh words of criticism to myself more times than I care to count, their abrasive edges violating the sanctity of self. While the tendency to self-condemn is not yet extinct I now see it for what it is – a defunct narrative that doesn’t deserve to take up any time or space in my head. When I catch it knocking on my door, I make the conscious choice to send it on its way and to administer a dose of self-compassion instead. This, I have discovered, is what learning ‘self-love’ is all about.

A big part of it for me has been learning a new lexicon – one that is centered around building me up, not tearing me down. I am choosing not to negate but to uphold and uplift; to be easier on myself, kinder. To honor the person who I am with my limitations and to embrace the wholeness of me – that which I still want to label ‘bad’ as well as that which I can more easily embrace as ‘good.’

So on Monday morning I didn’t pay any attention to my to-do list. I declined to play the game that says there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it in. The one that has us obeying the clock, contorting ourselves like acrobatic circus performers trying to juggle too many balls at once; subjugating our body wisdom, the call of our hearts, the longings of our souls to the demands of All The Things That Need To Be Done.

I have played that game way too many times in way too many ways, and now, at last, it is me that is Done.

I chose instead to honor my body and its tiredness; to listen to its wisdom; to respond, lovingly, like a mother answering the call of her child, to its whispered plea for time and a place to rest.

(Not that I’m denying that there was still that part of me that questioned why I should feel so tired, what had my days done to warrant it; searching for reasons… never satisfied…)

Be that as it may, I acknowledged the truth of the moment: Whatever the reasons for it, ‘justifiable’ to my mind or not, the overwhelming feeling of tiredness was the fact of my present circumstance.

Ad really, why fight against myself?

What more futile resistance than that?

So I allowed myself to take the morning slowly; to stay in bed an hour past my alarm. I didn’t succumb to the notion that now that I’d got up late I had to rush through my day to get everything done, but instead allowed myself to be fully present, enjoying my walk with my slow senior dog – noticing the purple clover peeping through the grass; the patterns of the lichen on bark; the butterflies dancing duets in the air to inaudible music… Feeling the joy and release in my spine as I elongated it skywards, matching the trees with their strong, straight trunks.

Breathing in deeply I said a thank you to the Universe in gratitude for all I have; inhaling the expansive possibilities ahead.

And because I was fully present with myself and my world in this way I got to hear the song of the rainwater in the underground gutter; a gurgling that seemed to bubble forth from the belly of the Earth.

And on my return to my house and haven I indulged in a second breakfast; enjoying the smell of the coffee topped with milk, its warm comfort; the sight of my dog sprawled out on the sofa; the time to just sit and be.

A beautiful way to spend a morning indeed. And not an ounce of guilt or shame in sight.

It’s true that it’s made easier by the fact that I live alone. My friends with families find it a lot harder to take this time for themselves, caught up in the demands of others’ schedules as well as their own. But I also think it’s a question of priorities and that on this journey that we are walking together, all carving out our own path, making ourself and our well-being our priority is one of the most important choices we will ever make and the only way we’ll ever be able to carve a path that remains to our liking.

Do you see a tree or a flower sacrificing its own well-being so that another can live? No. Each sinks its roots as deep as it can and reaches up towards the light, concerned only with its own blossoming… and yet from such vital self-absorption is born a joy that is felt by everyone who looks on that flower or tree with eyes and heart that see.

It is the same with us. It is when we honor ourselves by choosing what is right for us not what is right for everybody else that we start to live authentically, to be true to the song of our soul. And it is only when we are in alignment with our soul that we can really blossom, effortlessly touching the people we meet as our joy and authenticity abundantly overflow.

But while this choice to put ourself and our well-being and happiness first may seem a simple one on the surface, it is by no means an easy one to make…

The road that leads us to this deeply transformative choice is usually rocky to say the least – while we may be in a state of constant flux and change, it is not in out nature to choose to change until our present circumstances have become so unbearable that they push us to the edge of a ridge where we can do nothing save admit that where we are and what we have been doing thus far is no longer working; there is nothing for it but to try something else, some new way of being in the world.

And just because we understand this and make the choice, it doesn’t mean that this new way of being comes easily to us at first, or that everyone around us is also going to understand and/or appreciate it. We have to contend with the responses of others to our new aspect, and find a way to balance our own needs and our new commitment to our self with our interactions with those around us in a way that honors all.

People who are used to the ‘old’ us may not get on with this new version of us quite as much; they may see her as selfish, and/or lazy, and/or, depending on who and where they are at in their lives, may even see the change in us and our priorities as the root of all their troubles. It is almost inevitable that certain relationships and circumstances will drop away, and it can be hard to come to terms with this even when we implicitly understand that they are falling away because they are no longer in our highest good.

And of course we have to maintain our vigilance, observing our way of being in the world and catching ourselves when we fall back into old patterns that do not honor who we are; renewing our commitment to our self by making that choice again… and again… and again.

So no, I would never call it an easy choice.

Easy no;

the most important choice we’ll ever make –

yes.

This commitment to myself and my wel-lbeing is one that I’ve made, one that I’m making and remaking each and every day. I’m learning the first steps in the prologue, but it’s a dance that I haven’t yet perfected and I often stumble along the way, fall over mid-dance.

I do, however, know that in making this choice I serve not only myself, but also others. I have seen the value in looking after – really listening to, honoring and taking care of – myself first. When I do I am whole and at peace, at one with myself and with my world; and it is when I’m in this place that the people and circumstances I come across in my daily life receive the best of me.

And that is what I want to give.

Some of that peace, that wholeness, that joy in being overflows from my life into theirs and I interact with then with more goodwill, more love, more kindness, more joy; more of my light radiates out from my life into theirs.

And that is what I want to be – light and love, joy and peace, kindness and compassion.

As for Monday, when I rounded the corner towards the end of my walk bringing myself face to face with the river, there in the shadows stood a heron silently watching the world go by.

The heron alone I might not have given a second thought – herons are one of my favorite birds but they are frequent visitors to my river and I often see them paused in stillness, neutral observers of all that is.

But just across from the heron, where the river turns into a bed of stones, was a solitary kite hunkered down on a rock, quietly observing the river flow.

I see kites often, too. Wheeling and circling in the sky above. But this was the first time for my attention to be drawn to one resting on a rock. And in such synchronous timing, too.

“Be still” the wisdom of the birds said to me. “Slow down. Allow your body a time of rest.”

A confirmation from the Universe.

A stamp of approval for the way I was choosing to spend my day – honoring my body and its call for rest rather than subjugating it to the demands of my ego and ambition.

Reminding me that life is less about the quantity of our doing than the quality of our being. That pushing myself to complete my self-made plans within my self-made deadlines may be a good thing sometimes – it’s what enables me to get stuff done after all; but not when it’s at the expense of enjoyment of the process and/or to the detriment of my physical, emotional, mental or spiritual health.

The Universe honoring me honoring my commitment to my self.

Reminding me that it’s okay to just ‘be.’

Staying on Course

Photo credit: Wikipedia..

I was walking my dog by the river when a white egret that had stood motionless perched on a rock launched itself into the air with a flap of its wings. As my gaze followed the magnificent bird’s trajectory across the vast expanse of blue sky a sudden gust of wind came from nowhere buffeting the egret mid-flight, sending it into a momentary flutter of wings and feet as it fought to recover its momentum and remain airborne.

I was taken with how quickly and gracefully this beautiful bird managed to come back to center and right its course – if I had but blinked or shifted my gaze for a moment its flight path would have seemed an unbroken line across the sky.

Back on course with a minimum of fuss, the egret continued on its way. The path it traced was purposeful and full of conviction – it knew its destination and was headed straight for it. There was no way it was going to let a ‘little thing’ like an adverse air current knock it off course, let alone distract it from its goal.

I admired its purposeful determination all the more because it’s something that can, at times, seem lacking in my own life.

It’s not that I don’t have a overriding ’flight plan.’ Embracing the idea of myself as conscious creator of my own life I have decided that this year, besides teaching, my focuses are to write, to pot, and to continue to expand and evolve.

So the trajectory of my path, in my mind at least, is clearly mapped out and defined.

And yet… I often find myself knocked off centre and blown off course, going in directions that are so far from being connected to my flight plan that they don’t even show up on the map.

And what does it take to knock me so far off course? A simple ‘gust of wind.”

I’m not even talking about the big ones like doctor’s diagnoses, unemployment notices, relationship breakups, deaths of loved ones and other such unpredictable events that blow into our lives to change their course.

Ninety-nine per cent of the time the ‘gusts’ of wind that pull me off centre are nothing more than the paraphernalia of daily life – meals that need to be cooked; phone calls that need to be made; classes that take too long to be prepared; an unexpected encounter with a neighbour while walking my dog that turns a ‘short walk’ into a two hour break from my day. Lunches with friends; a trip to the post office; a function here and there; obligations that feel like they need to be met. Conversations I let linger a little too long; mails and short mails waiting for me to respond; a ‘quick look’ on Facebook that takes up the best part of an hour; the myriad host of other unanticipated things that creep into my day…

I know that these things, although they can feel like interruptions – especially when too many of them come at once – are the things that make up a life.

I know that they are part and parcel of my trajectory even though they aren’t written into my flight plan – are, in fact, ‘my path.’

I know that I want to be fully present with the people and situations around me; and that at times that will mean putting aside my own flight plan so that I can give my full attention to what is happening right here, right now.

But sometimes it feels like the ‘distractions’ take over the day. I find myself spending more time on them than on the things I have decided are important to me; committed to put my focus on.

And once I’ve been distracted away from my flight plan I find it hard to get back on course. Before I know it yet another day has gotten away from me… with zero time spent at the pottery wheel or weaving threads of thought into meaningful sentences.

As to the third element of my year’s flight plan – my desire to expand and evolve – I’m of the opinion that these are things that will occur anyway, regardless of whether I try to make them happen or not. Doesn’t everything we encounter in our life present us with the opportunity to grow, evolve and expand; including the daily paraphernalia? So with regards to this destination at least, I’m content to set my intention to expand and evolve in the ways that are for my greatest and highest good and leave it in the hands of my higher self to guide the process.

But the pottery and the writing are a bit different. They are not an inevitable part of life that will naturally occur whether I put my attention on them or not.

The only way they are going to happen is if I make them happen.

And in order to do that I need to stop being quite so flimsily moored, letting myself being carried hither and thither on whatever air currents happen to be blowing my way.

Instead of letting the day and the situations that arise in it control me and my use of time, I’d like to be able to stamp my mark on the day so that I can successfully carve my own flight path through it – one that feels true to me and is in alignment with my destination.

I wonder if this is part of the problem – could it be that I don’t have a detailed enough picture in my mind of my destination? That I don’t quite believe enough in my ability to get there? And that without this ‘homing device’ it is harder for me to bring my words and actions into alignment with it?

It’s also true that although I have a relatively good idea of my overall flight path, I haven’t really been mapping out the points along the way. I’m not in the habit of setting myself concrete goals for each day. It’s more like I decide that tomorrow I’m going to take the day and focus on pottery, and of course I have an idea in mind of what it is I want to make. But as to how many of those I’m going to have made and by what time, that I leave up to fate…

And of course when you don’t have clear coordinates for your day, it’s far easier for the things that come up to take over and distract you from your purpose.

The creative part of myself protests at the idea of strict scheduling and goals, along the lines of a blog post written by lunch time and five cups made before afternoon classes. It knows that creative projects take the time they do and you can’t rush them, you need to allow them the time they take. (All the more so when you’re still very much in the process of learning, as I happen to be).

But it feels like there is a need for me to have greater self-discipline and to consistently carve out the time in the day for me to do these things I have committed to put my focus on.

(While at the same time being mindful to watch for the ego playing its tricks and mind games… trying to tell me that these are things I have to do, to turn them from a joy into a chore…).

It feels like it’s a case of turning off the computer and phone when I sit down to pot or write. Limiting distractions outside of myself; refusing to give them the power to control and dictate my time by not letting them into my sacred space. And, in so doing, taking back my sovereignty over my day.

Not to mention the need to get the better of my self-sabotage tactics – learning to see through the distractions I create for myself and mastering them, instead of letting them master me…

Another part of it is learning how to say no graciously to the things that I know in my heart aren’t in alignment with what I really want to be doing – the things that feel like they’re pulling me away from my mapped out route, delaying my arrival at my destination.

And even this idea of there being a destination that I need to get to, when I get too caught up in that that doesn’t serve me either. It makes me separate from where I want to be, and bleeds the joy out of the doing in its focus on outcome not process.

I believe what the sages say – that the key to happiness and fulfillment is found in our state of being, not in our achievements, or even in the things that we spend our days doing.

When I succeed in protecting my time in this way and use it in alignment with my goals, that in and of itself feels good. It’s a joyful quality of being that arises because I’m being true to myself. When I’m in that place the joy is in the process, and how much I manage to  quantitatively achieve takes on less importance.

As long as I am making my promise to myself my priority, I am content to accept that sometimes the words and the pots will flow, and at other times they will stumble over themselves and slow to a trickle – I am content to let them take the time they will.

What matters is that I’m honouring my commitment to myself, using my time in the way I have promised myself I will.

When I do this, I’m in alignment with my deepest, most sacred self.

And it is this that feels good.

It is when we don’t do the things we have promised ourselves we will – letting ourselves be knocked off centre and pulled off course – that we fall out of alignment with our truth, and the feelings of being disjointed and separated from self arise.

So as I watched the egret counteract the wind and right its course in a moment, I knew that this is how I want to be in the world. To model myself on this beautiful white bird, bringing myself back to centre quickly and easily whatever gusts of wind may blow themselves into my day; with a clear picture of my destination in mind, so that my footprints trace a trajectory straight for it; streamlined and focused, offering no resistance – external or internal – to my chosen route.

When I can do this I’m at peace, embodying the grace and the conviction of this magnificent white bird, as the silence within the depths of my being tells me I’m right on course.

Unfurling

Photo courtesy of Manabu Momose.
Photo courtesy of Manabu Momose.

Litanies of lack

and limitation stifle,

stunt self-expression.

I choose to honor life, love –

allow my soul’s unfurling.

My 2015 Challenge

2015 Challenge Tagxedo Large

The start of a new year, whilst being an arbitrary date on a man-made calendar, is seen as a time of new beginnings. This year I really did seem to feel a change in the energy. It was as if as soon as the calendar turned the page into January so my motivation and verve increased. All of a sudden I had renewed energy and willpower to do those things that had been ‘hanging around’ for a while, and a sense of openness and possibility about what the future could hold.

One thing I did not feel motivated to do, however, was to make resolutions.

On the other hand, I did want to find some way to honor this change in energy and the renewed sense of possibility I was experiencing.

I came up with the idea of making commitments to myself based around how I want to walk forward into my future and the values I want to live in accordance with this year.

As my list of commitments grew I underlined the key word(s) in each of them and the first five spelt out “chall…” ‘This has got to be more than a coincidence,’ I thought. I decided to phrase my last four commitments in such a way as to spell out the word “challenge,” and to make the honoring of these my challenge to myself for the year ahead.

So what are my commitments? I share them with you below. I’m sure some of them will resonate with you more than others; which is a nice way of saying some of them you’ll agree with whilst others might make you think, ‘What on earth is she going on about?’ My challenge to you is to not stop there, but to look deeply inside yourself and see what you want to honor in the year ahead. If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear the things you come up with.

C – Consistency
This is something I want to work with across the board – from greater consistency in my waking and sleeping hours to being more consistent with my meditation practice. Plus a whole host of others in-between…

H – Honor Self and Others
Seeing myself and others as the divine spark of life in human form, and treating both myself and others in ways which reflect this and with more love and respect. It feels like a large part of this is to do with increasing self-awareness and more consciously choosing my thoughts, words and actions. (See next…)

A – Alignment with My Higher Self
Remembering to slow down and take a few moments to align with my higher self throughout the day, helping me to be the best me that I can be. Making it a practice to ask myself when interacting with others, “What would my higher self say or do in this situation?” “What words can I speak or action can I take here where I am now that will be in the highest good of all those present (myself included)?”

L – Look Within
Looking into my soul or, if you prefer, the core of my being where I am the purest essence of me, and discovering more of what is there. Asking my own source of inner wisdom, “What is it that I really want to experience? What is it that will give me even greater joy and fulfillment?,” and having the courage to follow that, instead of creating shadowy imitations of the answers of others.

L – Listen to the Unseen
Listening to the whisperings of my heart so I can hear her answers when I ask what she wants, and to the promptings of the Universe and my intuition as they guide me towards the next step I can take in that direction.

E – Embrace the Present Moment
Being. Here. Now. so I can experience all the joy that is present in each moment and embrace its full richness.

N – Nourish and Allow What is Within Me to Emerge
Nourishing the seed of potential that is germinating within through my thoughts, words, and choices; giving it what it needs to grow.

G – Gratefully Receive
…everything that comes into my sphere, using it all as a gift to help me know and expand into more of myself.

E – Enjoy
…myself; music; love; art; nature; beauty; the people and experiences that come my way; the marvelous and miraculous world we live in… savoring each and every moment.