Category Archives for "Blog"
When my unborn child's heart stopped beating I remember a scream echoing through the clinic. Vaguely I was aware that it was my scream, but all I knew was that I had to get home. Get to my room. Crawl into bed.
I stayed there for ages. Maybe it was two weeks - I have no idea. Sometimes there was a gap in the silence where I raged, and had to trust my husband to keep us both safe. Mostly, it was silent.
A few people came over. I am not even sure if I said anything that made sense, but I was deeply grateful and it was a relief to feel gratitude amongst waves of anger, bitterness and grief. Many people didn't come over. For a long time this seemed as horrifying as anything else.
But then something else happened. The space and quiet led me to a deep place of meditation, prayer and connection that I've carried with me since. New insights about my life and new dreams began to emerge. When we're not spreading ourselves too far, we have the chance to dig deeper.
Sometimes you may find yourself in the midst of the unthinkable, and feeling alone. It can feel like trying to remember which way to swim while being thrown by a massive wave. We would do anything for something to hold onto until the waves subside enough to swim again.
If this is you, my heart is full of love for you. And know that there will be something to hold on to. We can't always rely on people knowing how to be there for us, or having the emotional bandwidth for it. Since my experience I've seen many people comment that they "declutter" friends who don't show up for them. I think there is room for a different approach.
When we are suffering or struggling, people will often say to us "Take care of your self". But what does that even mean? Here are the ways I offer you to provide yourself the care you need:
It's easy to feel disillusioned if you thought your friends would turn up in the tough times and they don't. And when you reflect on some of these friendships you may see that it was unhealthy or one-way. But don't assume your friends don't care about you. Keep in mind that people show their love in different ways, and some don't know how to give you the support you need.
I hope you find something on this page to hold on to. Let me know in the comments below which strategy you'll be trying, or perhaps a new way you might show up for a friend.
Back in the day multi tasking was the way we were all going to become efficient goal achievers. Only problem was, we got burnt out, and multitasking was in the bad books.
Then, single tasking became the way we were all going to live in a state of mindfulness and flow.
Only - have you ever noticed how days seem to be getting busier? And it's hard to fit in work, family, personal transformation, fitness, nutritious meal preparation, connecting with loved ones, maintaining a home, financial paperwork... aaargh. Who manages juggling all this and approaches eahc task with flow?
I used to have perfectionist standards when it came to my own personal growth. I tried to work out how to fit in journalling three pages each morning with an hour of meditation per day, an hour of yoga and reading inspirational works. I'm sure I could have managed it, if only I'd given up my studies, job and friends. My approach to mindfulness was burning me out.
Now I see things differently. I see one minute of meditation as a triumph, that you meditated. I see yoga while listening to a business training as inspiring. When I fell into the habit of taking my daughter driving to get her to sleep (I am very forgiving of my shortcomings as a mama - my methods are imperfect but my love is perfect is my mantra) I listened to audiobooks at the same time.
So there's a benefit of multitasking - when we do it mindfully, for optimum benefit not out of a frenetic attempt to do more, more, more. Sometimes doing things small means we get to do them, when waiting for perfection means they don't happen at all. And sometimes fitting the personal growth, fitness and spiritual practice into our day means we live from a place of inspiration rather than frustration.
Here's how I use multitasking mindfully:
The difference with multi tasking this time round is it's not about cramming in as much as possible to get as far as possible. This time, consider the goal fitting in things that matter and making slow schedule adjustments until you find your sense of balance and flow.
I'd like to hear from you - do you have practices you haven't found time to do perfectly so they haven't happened at all? And how could you fit in something nourishing in a small increment or a multitask?
If you want to create shifts in your life and the cookie-cutter strategies haven't been working for you - try a personal transformation package, tailor-made just for you.
Sugar scrub is the easiest thing in the world. And the cheapest. It also leaves skin silky smooth and moisturised.
The principles of making a sugar scrub is just to combine oil and sugar in equal proportions. Adjust to preferred consistency. And if you want to get fancy, natural spices or essential oils - provided they're safe to use directly on the skin - add extra benefits and a great fragrance without the hormone disruption of the artificial stuff.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup macadamia oil
1 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (warming and cleansing)
Combine the oil and sugar in a bowl. Adjust the sugar: oil ratio to your preference.
Add the vanilla and cinammon.
Place scrub into clean glass jar.
To use: apply and scrub over body before shower or bath. Please note: this scrub is messy so use IN shower or bath! Also, it makes surfaces slippery so take care.
Wash as normal. Enjoy your glowing skin!
They say when our heart is broken, it either expands, or contracts.
When I lost three pregnancies, one after the other, against a backdrop of work stress and certain other disillusionments... my heart contracted.
It is okay, despite what they say, to have a contracted heart. It feels safer, when we withdraw into ourselves. This is the only thing that matters for a while, when it feels as if your skin has been peeled away, and the world is made of broken glass.
But it's a way of being geared towards surviving, not thriving. There comes a time when Life asks us to slowly nurse our own wounds rather than using them as armour. Eventually, we have an emotional skin again. Slowly, the edges retreat and the world gets a little bit softer. Not totally. Maybe never again. But a little, and it's enough.
Later, it's possible to feel joy again. In my case, joy is my normal state these days (knocks on wood). My heart softened and expanded almost without my noticing.
Just the other week, my little one, Ava Grace, defied her afternoon nap. This is not unusual. Also common - I snuggled her into her car seat, cranked an audiobook, and we began to drive.
I have the great joy and fortune of living beside a beautiful forest. I drive, and listen to something inspiring, until Ava sleeps. Then I park and soak in the beauty, and sometimes write or work or meditate.
On this day, I listened to Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. A collection of letters written to her when she was the agony aunt, Dear Sugar. It was read by her, which made it even better. As I drove amongst giants of trees softened by ferns and a magical winter's mist, I became aware of my own gratitude, compassion... my own heart.
I listened to the story of Johnny, afraid to tell a woman he loved her. And I listened to Cheryl - or Sugar, as she was known - reply with the story of how her mother's last word to her was "love"... and how her mother died alone, later that night. My heart cracked wide, and the light shone through. And when the next letter was written by a woman stuck in the numbness of her own grief after losing her baby girl when she was 6 months pregnant, my heart shattered and all the commonality of our humanity hit me in the space it left behind.
You see I realised that when we feel our own pain, we feel alone. But when we can bear witness to somebody else's, we know how connected we truly are. It didn't matter that one story was of fear of love, one the numbness of grief, another the shame of a more covert fantasy life, and another still of the hurt of rejection by family for identifying as gay. Because beneath the details, they were all the same. People wanting to be loved, reassured and witnessed. Like all of us.
Cheryl met each with her own rawness and softness and grit, her own love and pain. And it tapped into old memories, but more still it tapped into the compassi0n that unites us. Listening to her fully witness each person, let me feel seen and simultaneously helped me to see them too. It's not often a book moves me to tears. On this day I didn't so much cry as crack open, and the tears that flowed in that misty forest were at once mine, and Cheryl's, and yours.
So remember, we are all in this thing we call Life together, and allow your heart to crack open as you reach out with your rawness, broken pieces and above all, with your Light.
And if you do read or listen to (affiliate) Tiny Beautiful Things, please drop me a comment and tell me what struck a chord with you.
Energy practices can reach and heal us in ways that more logical approaches sometimes miss. This may be because the part of us that is vibration, needs to be met with vibration. Or it could be because a part of our mind lies beneath logic, beneath irrationality and is ultimately deeply symbolic and metaphorical in nature. This subconscious mind needs metaphor not logic. I believe all of this to be so. And in the case of grounding, the energy work helps us feel safer, grounded and stable in a stressful world.
Many of us who have underlying feelings of anxiety and lack of safety, experienced disruption in our childhood. We move houses and schools and feel we can't put down roots; or lose someone close and feel the world is not safe, or feel misplaced with our family and experience a disconnect from our tribe.
So energetically, we need stability, steadfastness, strength... we need to put down roots. And this is why the metaphor of a tree is so grounding. Let these words wash over you as you imagine yourself sending roots deep into the core of Mother Earth
When we are people who give so readily from the heart, we need a way to fill our well up again. Know that expecting our needs to be filled from others can lead to hurt, disappointment of unmatched expectations and misunderstanding. Learn to find a deeper Source, and meet others from a place of wholeness.
And to bring groundedness into your life, think of where your foundations need to be built stronger. Where there is clutter, clear it. If something is broken, get it fixed. Sort finances. Being grounded sounds boring at this level... but dreams built on anything less are shaky at best.
I'd love to hear how you go with this very old energy healing visualisation. And please share - do you have a favourite grounding technique?
There was a time a few years ago when I felt like I was ricocheting from one emotional stress to another. It was tie to dig into my arsenal of tools and apply them to myself. One of those tools was affirmations.
For those who missed the affirmations memos floating round the web, affirmations are positive statements we write or say to help us feel more positive, stay on track for our goals or even attract what we want.
I started with some big dreams. "I have paid off my mortgage" and "I am happy in every way", that kind of thing.
Only thing was, I didn't feel inspired and motivated. I felt deflated. I didn't believe what I was affirming - in fact, they just highlighted the abyss between where my life was and the life I actually wanted.
And this is the problem. If we can't even begin to believe what we're affirming, how can it elevate our mood? If we don't believe our goal, how will we stay on track for it?
So here's when affirmations are a problem:
You'd think I'm all "Bah, humbug" about affirmations then. But I'm not. I love them. I use them myself consistently. Since those efforts a few years ago, I studied lots of different styles for using affirmations and applied my mental health experience to understand how to use them in a way that eventually created the shifts I was looking for.
So here's what I did differently:
Those dark days seem like another lifetime now. The sting has gone from the memories. Affirmations weren't my only guide back to happiness, but they are a favourite. Have you tried affirmations? And how did you go? Let me know in the comments below.
There are certain types of grief our society handles well. And certain needs for support that we are good at recognising. That doesn't make these types of life events less painful. But a good part of our ability to be resilient is how supported we feel, so it's incredibly important.
And some life events are not recognised as times of immense pain or grief. Those with "hidden" illness or disability are met with judgement and impatience at times when they deserve and need the compassion and gentleness we are better at showing someone with cancer, or someone who has a visible paralysis. And those who experience a loss not acknowledged by their community sometimes deal with isolation in addition to their grief.
All of these societal factors affect how we cope with our burdens, and how we feel we are able to let go of the person we were before the spiritual forest fire struck.
A few years ago, I experienced three miscarriages in a row. The second one in particular was horrific to me. It dragged on for months, required two separate surgeries, and emotionally I was devastated. Some people visited. Some told me to medicate my grief. Others told me to get over it. And some seemed to disappear for a while (or forever). Someone told me that when we go through grief of any kind, we are always surprised by who is there for us, and who is not.
The one thing that is clear - I am not the person I was before these events. Before I was someone with a healthier body, an assumption that the people in my life would completely buffer any difficulty that ever came my way, and the cheerful belief that motherhood would happen easily. All of that has gone. I am a mother now, but the sacredness of my daughter within my heart reminds me that there is never again an assumption of how motherhood will be. For a few years I was bitter about the loss of all these expectations towards others and the "why me" force was strong within me! Now I've softened again, but this time with discernment. And a bit more resilience. And I get "it" in a way I didn't before.
So when I was cocooned away with my little mother on a holiday in the Sunshine Coast, and I stumbled on the book (affiliate) Letting Go of the Person You Used To Be by Lama Surya Das, I had to buy it. And then I hid it away and "forgot" to read it for a few years. You know.
But recent times have been healing and whole and happy, and I've been reading this book at last. Here are my thoughts and what I'm learning:
I would suggest this book to someone who has gone through their own personal spiritual forest fire, and has reached the point where they would like to make sense of their experiences, name and process their losses, and practice mindfulness to begin a new part of their lives. You can buy the book through my affiliate links at Amazon or Book Depository. If you are still raw or traumatised from experiences, perhaps do what I did and hide the book away for a while. Be ever so gentle with yourself. And this book, and the rest of your life, will be waiting for you when you're ready.
If you would like support in processing past events of your life and establishing new ways of living in the world and constructive thoughts and practices to channel your lived experience, I'd warmly encourage you to consider my transformational mentoring packages.
Now I'd love to hear from you - what has been essential in healing from loss and letting go of the person you used to be? Let me know in the comments. And know that love is within you.
For many years I followed the slightly disturbing maxim "If you've bitten off more than you can chew, chew faster. Unsurprisingly, I drank a lot of energy drinks and lived on junk food in those days. My energy was propped up on caffeine, sugar and adrenaline. Why, hello burnout, I didn't see you come in...
Burnout teaches us a lot if we pay attention. It teaches us to seek fulfilment rather than constantly needing stimulation. Because when we seek stimulation, the line between boredom and stress gets way too thin, and the slightest unforeseen thing can swing us past our breaking point.
If you find your schedule is stretched beyond your capacity, create some breathing room in these steps:
I'd like to hear from you - which of these ways of practicing simplicity calls to you? How will you implement one into your day? And if this topic is one you'd like more resources to address, check out my free guide to Reclaim Your Me Time.
I was 20 years old and devastated. I had just had a falling out with a friend - we had one of those intense friendships that sometimes, like in our case, burn out. I sought solace in a local meditative art class facilitated by Toni Carmine Salerno, who now runs Blue Angel Publishing. It was a pretty amazing class. One day in the class I painted out the story of our friendship and told my story. A kindly woman reached into her pocket and drew out a little piece of paper. On it was drawn the outline of a person sitting in meditation, with spots running up their spine in the 7 colours of the rainbow. "You need to balance your chakras" she wisely advised me.
I thought she was crazy.
I took the paper politely, but I couldn't see how I could possibly have rainbow coloured spots running up my spine and never have noticed, nor how this strange little drawing could be of any use to my situation.
And yet, for some reason, I never threw out that paper.
You could say my embracing of chakras and their energy was a slow burn. And it's easy to understand how these strange drawings and stories of wheels of light and energy and long Sanskrit names can feel off-putting to the more practically minded amongst us.
Funnily enough though, later at uni I studied respected psychological theories such as Maslow's hierarchy of need. Guess what? It approaches the same content, but using the acceptable language of Western psychology.
Over the years I have got so much benefit from balancing my chakras and energy healing. I have picked up strategies that have seen me through times when my thoughts were too unwieldy to manage and my heart too broken to try. I see energy work as another piece of the puzzle. And further studies in counselling psychology opened up the world of metaphor and symbology and their potent use in therapy.
The pieces have come together - whether chakras and energy healing are taken as literal or metaphorical, they provide an ancient set of tools that speak to our unconscious and subconscious mind to create shifts our ego won't consciously allow us. I've experienced enough myself to believe directly in the power of our energy system, but if this idea seems as crazy to you as my helpful lady did to me all those years ago - don't worry, I get it. But use the tools anyway as a form of supporting that ancient part of your mind which works in pictures and metaphors, not words and strategies. The part where dreams and nightmares, phobias and inspiration exist. Here are 7 places to start, 1 for each chakra.
So whether you love the idea of diving into the chakras, or whether for you they are a useful metaphoric guide to the growth of the human spirit, try the practices above related to the chakra you instinctively feel is the weakest for you. If you don't know where to begin, always begin with the first and develop a grounded foundation for your life, from where all else can grow.
And I'd love to hear from you! Do you already work with your chakras? And if this is new, which practice will you experiment with? Let me know in the comments below and share with a friend who could benefit too.
Growing up, I loved to sneak a peek at my older sisters' fashion mags, and by the time I was a teenager I was voraciously reading my own with friends at school. Every month taught me a new way to be pretty or lose weight or be more popular or stylish.
The problem was, these instructions were built on a broken foundation. The paradigm was wrong - we were taught that our bodies were ornaments and the goal was to be "perfect", whatever that meant.
Years later, some of the magazines caught onto a trend of teaching us to love our bodies. The way to do this was to accept that only 8 people in the world could look like supermodels, the rest of us must just "disguise our flaws" and "focus on our good points". Besides, we were told, it is okay to have curves because men like them! This created a double whammy of telling us we're only acceptable if men deem us to be, and divides us according to our build.
Unfortunately this still works on a belief that our female bodies are wrong and broken, and we must just make the best of them that we can. Or worse, that approval of ourselves needs to be based on whether we have earned the approval of men.
But the problem is not our bodies. The problem is that we are conditioned from birth to think our bodies are ornaments to be made into an accepted standard of beauty, that other people - particularly men - have the right to judge us based on our appearance, and that we are fighting a losing battle trying to achieve a body type that we just weren't born with. It doesn't matter whether the magazines are telling us to "lose 3 dress sizes by lunchtime" or "men want you to be curvy" - we're still being dictated to for our self worth.
So how do we fix this conundrum? As Albert Einstein famously said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them".
It's clear then - we can't fix this by telling ourselves that despite being size 16 in a world that wants us to be a size 10, we at least have a pretty manicure! What we need is a whole new way of thinking about our bodies. We need a paradigm shift where this malignant messaging is shown for what it is, and where it no longer makes sense.
So work with the following paradigm shifts. They are uncomfortable. But when they really drop into place, a whole new sense of freedom exists where all this conditioning just doesn't apply. Here they are:
When we view our body as an ornament, we believe our worth and value is tied up in how attractive we can make our body, according to cultural standards, men's judgements and other external messaging. For example, I used to have the belief that for my body to be acceptable it must be size 10, tanned, with shiny straight hair and aged from 16-25 years old. This is a broken paradigm because the vast majority of us will receive the unconscious belief that we were born into a body that isn't good enough. We may have some of the attributes we think we need, but always be aspiring for the ones we perceive as lacking, and therefore never truly satisfied. And even those who do fit the preferences of the culture they live in will probably face the same self doubts when they look in a mirror and realise their body is ageing. And so the diet industry, the anti-ageing industry, the fashion and beauty industries keep us hooked as we are told "You're not quite good enough, but don't worry, with our product you can be!".
The new paradigm: Your body is a sacred vessel that contains YOU, your life, your spirit and your unique expression. In this paradigm EVERY body is perfect, because every body provides us a vessel within which to live. We laugh with our body. We pursue our dreams with our body. We hold our loved ones with our body. We gaze on beauty with our body. Our body is not an inanimate object to decorate into beauty, it is a vessel with life breathed into it, for our self expression in this life time whatever that may be.
Modern medicine has extended our life and given us new expectations of our bodies. We don't expect to be struck down "before our time", or to have our lives changed by our health in ways we didn't control. Even when we have colds, we often reach for a medicine to stop the symptoms, so we can "get on with it". But the gifts have brought a shadow with them.
We've begun to see the symptoms of illness as our body letting us down. When we have a headache, we feel attacked by our body. When we have a chesty cough and runny nose we feel frustrated by our body. We think our body is doing this to us. In truth, symptoms are mechanisms the body uses to correct an imbalance or fight an invasion. They are our body's attempt to save us.
That headache is the body trying to tell us our blood sugar isn't right, or that we need to drink some water or get some sleep. The runny nose may seem gross, but it's the mechanism our body has for removing a virus so that our body can heal. This is NOT a post about not using conventional medicines - there is a time and place for them and we must each make that decision for ourselves as adults.
However, when we operate from a paradigm of "illness is my body attacking me", we can see our body as the enemy, something we need to "control" or combat. And regardless of our state of physical health, being on a different team to our body is damaging on a deep level. I have been pretty healthy for most of my life, but I experienced this following a series of very traumatic miscarriages and infertility treatment. I was angry at my body and its shortcomings for some time.
Eventually, when I went into a deep meditation with the intention of forgiving my body for letting me down, I instead experienced this paradigm shift and realised it had never let me down at all. Sure, things had happened TO my body I didn't want, but my body had only ever done its best.
The new paradigm: Your body is always doing everything in its power to keep you alive and well. This is medical fact; the term for it is "homeostasis", a phenomenon in our body where almost every function and chemical reaction has signals that trigger our brain to let it know if that function is within a normal range or not. From there, the body will try to course correct. It may release different hormones, store excess energy out of the way as fat, make us thirsty so we drink, make us blow our nose or sneeze to remove a pathogen. Sometimes our bodies can get things back on track, sometimes they can't. But it will always, always try its best. So this means your body is on your team. It is your best friend - nothing on earth will fight for your wellness like your body. So wherever your state of health may be, approach it with your body as ally. Because you're in this together.
This last paradigm is possibly the most subtle and insidious. We are raised with mixed messages over who has rights or a say over our body. The #MeToo movement has certainly brought visibility to this issue. But confusion over who has a say can happen within longterm partnerships and marriages. Women often feel a sense of obligation to a partner, perceiving a context of what the partner "needs", which shifts the conversation to whether we are a good wife or partner by how much we look after the "needs" of our partner. If we reframe this to a more accurate word - such as "wants" or "preferences" the obligation is diffused and we can view the situation with more clarity.
Another place this happens is in the healthcare system. I have worked my whole career within this system, so I am not about to bite the hand that has fed me. I don't suggest that Dr Google knows more than an actual doctor, or that remedies with no research should be preferred over scientifically backed remedies in critical situations. However, we are taught to "obey" healthcare professionals without question. It's worth noting that as amazing as healthcare professionals can be, they are humans who sometimes make mistakes. Almost all treatments carry some risks and potential side effects. And the person who has to live with the results is you.
The paradigm shift: Your body is yours and yours alone. Reclaim your power and your body. Yes, be compassionate and allow your partner to be seen and heard and validated - but not at the expense of retaining the power of choice over your body. And accept that when you visit a doctor they bring expertise and experience to your situation and take that into consideration when you make your healthcare choices. But ask questions, and find healthcare professionals that you trust and feel respected by.
I'd like to hear from you - which of these paradigm shifts can impact the relationship you have with your body? Which do you already live by? Let me know in the comments.