The journey back to ourselves

With hindsight now I see that I recently dialled down my personal power. I was in a funk – probably because of falling into a familiar trap: forgetting to feed my creative and spiritual self enough. 

 

That lowered personal energy led to me being vulnerable and needing the world around me – the people around me – to show up in a certain way that I felt would feed me. In other words I was looking to my environment and the people in it to compensate for what I had lost – my power. It didn’t work. It never works that way. I lost myself and only I could be responsible for bringing myself back.

 

 P1040677 (2)But how do you bring yourself back? The answer is slowly and gradually. When you’re in a metaphorical valley you can only regain perspective by slowly climbing the hill, one foot in front of the other, until you reach the top. It’s not a journey without discomfort – I went through powerlessness, blame, neediness, embarrassment and self-analysis – but now I’m through, on top of the hill and contemplating the view. 

 

For those of you who know my work and the tools I use, all this is a reflection of what I call The Energy Ladder. (You can see my article about it here). All those emotions I went through were, in fact, representative of my journey back up my emotional ladder. So, blame was a step up from powerlessness, neediness was a step up from blame and so on. 

 

The key to remember here is that we’re not aiming to stay on the hill all the time – it can be very powerful to explore the valley floor – but don’t stay there too long because it’s impossible to get the true learning you are seeking until you come back up the hill. 

 

If you are in a valley today look for the next step up. What brings you some relief? At first it might not be something very ‘enlightened’ or pretty.  Anger for instance is better than hopelessness but it’s not an emotion usually encouraged. It is, however, a step up because it feels like a release and taking some control. Obviously try not to stay there too long – it’ll soon be time to find the next emotion that brings relief – perhaps resentment. And then it might be confusion. And then it might be doubt. And then it might be curiosity which leads to hope and so on, right up to Joy if you keep going. Step by step. Always looking for what brings relief and what feels like your truth at the time. 

 

The reward is learning, greater self-definition and a dialling up of our personal power. 

 

Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Be a stand for your learning. Appreciate the journey.

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Finding a new job for my brain

There’s been a  lot going on of late – workshops, webinar preparations, coaching, school initiatives, business planning – on top of the normal running of family and home. I don’t say this for sympathy – we’re all busy and I’m no different – it’s just that my response to this growth in busy-ness has been one of defensiveness. It’s as if I’ve been afraid of the expansion – afraid it will consume me. Ironically, I realise, it’s my fear that’s been getting all the air-play and taking up a large chunk of my time rather than the activities themselves.

Byron Katie asks us:

 “Who would you be without that thought?”.

So who would I be without the thought “I’m too stretched. I’m afraid I might burn out”? I’d be in-the-moment, taking one step at a time, open, lighter – in other words, I’d be free of mental clutter that’s preventing me from getting things done.

Working with this over the last couple of days I’ve realised I need a new context. It’s not enough to say that I’m happy to just roll with the punches – that’s too passive. I want to invent a new context that feels more creative and pro-active.

It reminds me of this poem by Hafiz:

Find a better job
Now
That
All your worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.
 

So what shall my new context be? I had a good ol’ write about this this afternoon. What new intentionality can I bring to my every-day? I went around the houses a bit but finally I got it. For me, right now, it’s all about Play.

I looked at my Future Self and her way of being for clues. I came up with words like ‘light-hearted’, ‘relaxed’, ‘spacious’, ‘silly’. Recently, whenever I interact with my Future Self, she’s been having a great time taking the mickey out of me. A week ago I asked her to give me some wisdom on something I was struggling with and I watched her as she solemnly led me to a room which had a huge ancient book sitting on a high table. I waited in eager anticipation of the profound wisdom she would impart to me from these ancient teachings. Slowly she turned to a page in the middle of the book … and out shot a party balloon – farting loudly as it disappeared over her shoulder. She looked up and grinned at me. The message was clear – “lighten up, T.!”

I’m sure I’ve been down this road several times before – you’ve probably heard me tell of it more than once in this blog – but it seems I need to get this lesson in all its various and technicolour guises: Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously.

So how do I do that exactly?

  • Well, first of all I’ve put a big sign up in my bedroom: PLAY!
  • Secondly I’m going to meditate a lot more.
    • I’m finally getting the message about meditation. It’s about clearing the channel, giving myself a breather from my significance-hungry brain. I heard a great thing from Abraham Hicks this week: ‘saying you’re too busy to meditate is like saying you’re too busy to find your car keys and that you’d prefer to walk instead.’ Nice one!
  • More Artist’s Dates! (see The Artist’s Way)
  • Listen to more show tunes
  • Dance
  • Watch and learn from my children

What I really want is some kind of out-sized, plastic blow-up hammer floating over my head that activates whenever I get too naval-gazy or meaning-making. One swift thwack to the skull should be enough to wake me up and remind me of all this.

*Sigh* In the absence of said hammer it might be that I come back here a few times before I finally get close to my Future Self’s level of glorious irreverance, but hey, I suppose it would be a very good start to just let go of making that mean anything!

 

 

You cannot get it done, ever, and you cannot get it wrong.

“You cannot get it done, ever, and you cannot get it wrong. So you might as well relax and start having fun with this.”   Abraham-Hicks

 

I find this thought very liberating. I often hamper myself by getting hung up on doing things “right”. Sometimes “good enough” is kinder. Sometimes allowing ourselves to fail is very smart.

We, like all of nature, are programmed to grow. It’s innate and impossible to fight. We will grow to the day we die – the learning never stops, the capacity to feel and do more never wanes. It’s because of this that we will never get ‘it’ done. We cannot get it wrong because there are always more depths we can explore.

When we understand this we can forgive ourselves if our natural expansion has caused us to hit a bump in the road. We can welcome the ‘wrong’ things and seek the growth in them. We can start to relax into the journey, be a little silly, take a few risks and have fun!

 

“Every blade of grass has it’s angel that leans over it and whispers, ‘grow’, ‘grow'” –  The Talmud

 

(With deep and loving gratitude to my friends and coaches extraordinaire, Kelly Cowan and Karen Hood-Caddy)

 

 

‘Droughts are a necessity’

Dearest reader – I’m back! Thanks for waiting. It’s been nearly 3 months since my last posting (crikey!) and I’ve had to ask myself “have I simply gone off the boil – forever? Maybe the blogging mojo has just evaporated (inexplicably) and I need to move on?” But something inside of me said ‘No – this is temporary – stick with it.’ I know to listen to my instincts but I have to say it was a weird feeling, suddenly switching from weekly posting to nothing, zero, zilch. What was with that?

To be frank, I don’t have clue why I dried up. I was busy but that’s not been a problem before. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and believe that this was meant to be.

We’ve all heard of the metaphor of a field that needs to lie fallow for a growing season in order to replenish itself. Maybe that was what was going on?

My friend Nancy told me today that she saw these times as a gift – an opportunity for silence and to go deep within ourselves.

Julia Cameron (she of  The Artist’s Way) talks about it in terms of a drought. “Droughts are a necessity,” she says. “The time in the desert brings us clarity and charity.’ She adds:

… as painful as they are, they deepen us. When we feel we have “nothing to say” as artists, we are grappling with what it is we do want to say. In struggling to find our sources of inspiration, we find ourselves.

Another thing: drought doesn’t disqualify you as an artist. Rather, it is a rite of passage, an initiation period that while it pains us also makes us better…  we experience a deepened gratitude for those times when art comes to us more easily.

In other words, droughts make us appreciate times of flow. As much as anything else, droughts teach us compassion for ourselves and others. Can this be anything but a blessing?

It’s true – I do feel renewed. Renewed inside of the ‘Why?’ of this blog and what the writing of it gifts me with – conciousness, connection, curiousity and celebration.

I’ll leave you with a couple of snowy pictures from the Stroud Valleys taken today. Just because… !

Edge in the Snow 1 Randwick Woods2

Keep your loved-one on a pedestal

Now that I’ve started running my Artist’s Way workshops again I’m going to be much more conscious about doing Artist’s Dates. These are basically about taking yourself off for about an hour a week just to have fun with you and you. They are meant to be playful, nurturing and fun – as if you were taking a child out on an outing.

My Artist’s Date today is probably no surprise for many of you – I took myself to the cinema – my favourite ‘me’ thing to do! The movie was “Hope Springs” and it struck me how well my new consciousness theme is embodied in it. The story basically follows a couple going through hard times and having therapy. (It’s a real testament to the screenwriter and the actors that they could make such a potentially agonising situation so poignant and funny). But the point is it highlights that the trouble with this older couple, who have been married for 31 years is that they have become UNCONSCIOUS of each other. Here’s a clip:

 

Long ago I realised something in my marriage: I must always do my damndest to keep Guy on a pedestal. What I mean by this is that I must do what it takes to take my gaze off the strange bathroom habits, the forgetfulness of conversations held only an hour ago, the constant losing of keys etc. etc. and focus resolutely on what makes him special – his handsome face, his humour, his love of his family, all the hard work he does on our behalf and so on. I know his faults (as he knows mine) so it’s not about ignoring them so much as saying: “that’s part of the package but I choose to make a conscious effort to keep my line of vision on the pedestal – because if I don’t, then smelly socks can take on way more significance than they should!

 

How conscious do I dare to be?

So, it’s now Year Two of this Happiness blog and, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve taken on the fresh challenge (hence my new tagline) of daring to be more conscious. This is why….

Reality – the ‘what’s-so’ of things has always appeared to me as a bit of an inconvenience – something to be tolerated whilst I get on with the more serious business of dreaming my life into existence. I’ve shied away from anything that smacks of that ghastly word ‘discipline’ because I have a rebellious-child’s resistance to it. Why should I do anything that feels like a ‘should’  – surely I’m the one in charge of my own life?

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s work ‘The Artist’s Way(and in fact I run workshops on it). Well now she has a new book out called ‘The Prosperous Heart‘ and in it she asks you to count evey penny you spend and receive in a little book. “What? No way! I don’t want to be wading around in the mud of my finances. And surely that’s all rather anal and sad?” I’ve also thought that in Law of Attraction terms this kind of attention to the minutae of things is misdirected – keeping your life small.

I’m realising now that I may have been missing a trick or two.

  • My weight and health have always been best when I’ve been counting what I eat and how I exercise.
  • I am very disciplined around organising my children’s school life, feeding the family, running my workshops, working with my clients etc. – it’s just I dont see it as discipline.

Abraham-Hicks talk about the importance of “loving what-is whilst reaching for more”. I’ve always read this as being OK with things not going the way I want whilst dreaming big. Not quite. I see now it’s about really meeting my reality honestly – i.e. not avoiding it – interacting with it, whilst maintaining a full expectation of growing into my desired future.

By avoiding the tricky subject of money and body weight in the name of attracting better things I was in fact only keeping resistance in place.

So now I am resolved to spend a year exploring this new concept of consciousness – being with what-is – even though I sometimes want to fight it in the name of positive thinking.

The name of the game is to ENJOY being with how things really are. I’m not embarking on this exercise of counting everything I eat and every penny I spend as a way of wallowing in lack and self-loathing – on the contrary I’m doing it to say: “This is worth paying attention to. This matters to me and I value my relationship with it.”

My very wise friend and coach Karen Hood-Caddy said to me this week: “It’s all about understanding how things work and then working inside of that.”

Yes! I think I’m starting to get it. Money, body weight etc. operate in a certain way. When I pay attention to that and work inside the parameters of that I, paradoxically, experience much greater control and therefore greater freedom.

I’m reminded of Stephen Fry’s great descripton of poetry. It is not, he argues, a restrictive form. When you write a novel you have so much choice about how you structure and shape it, it can be utterly overwhelming to begin; but with a poem the rules (mostly) are laid out and, now that you don’t have to worry about the structure of it, you can enjoy the freedom of playing with it as you will.

So constriction, discipline – whatever you want to call it – can be freeing. Yet more evidence of the Universe’s love of Paradox – (my favourite being: in order to have something you have to let it go). Paradox is everywhere and that makes being a human being so fascinating and wondrous.

I embark on this year’s challenge with excitement!

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?

 

Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.

 

 

And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called thehappinessexperiment.co.uk . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown

 

I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.