Our inner granny

 

Today I am 49; next week I will tip into my fifties.

It doesn’t worry me – in fact I’m looking forward to my fifties – but it all seems so theoretical. In my heart I’m 36. But I like the idea of my fifties because I’ve long thought that, from this time on, it would be ‘My Time’. I would be fully in my skin and unapologetic about my path.

Actually that instinct is largely correct. I do feel more ‘in my skin’ than I’ve every felt. I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out (much as I would have liked to believe that at times!) – of course I haven’t. It’s more that I am more willing than I’ve ever been to see myself as imperfect and to gain confidence with that thought.

I am perfectly imperfect!

Think of our image of an ideal granny. Even when we may be feeling bruised by life she only sees our greatness and gives us unending compassion. “It’s normal to bungle, to fail, to trip up,” she says. “Be patient, be kind, take very good care of the precious human being that you are.”

In my Future Self Now program we use our inner wisdom to help guide us forward – to inspire us with a joyful anticipation of what is to come and, at the same time, LOVE where we’re at right now. Our Future Selves, in other words, are like our inner grannies or grandpas.

I’ve just started a new 8 week course and if you’d like to be a fly-on-the-wall and follow some of the teachings yourself then simply ‘Like’ the Future Self Now Facebook page and you will receive updates on some of the tools and insights that we are experiencing.

Here’s a simple tip to leave you with: Your inner granny or grandpa is always wise and compassionate, so ask yourselves, whenever you need to,

“What would my inner granny/grandpa say to me now?”

 

 

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)

 

 

Wonder Woman I aint

Last week I got unusually busy with 8 extra one-on-one coaching calls and write ups to do on top of my normal workload, two workshops, a couple of parents evenings and sick children at home. At first I was super-proud of myself: Look at me, I can do this easy-peasy. See, people, what a mega-efficient person I am! (Yes, I actually boasted to my friends along these lines. Embarrasing).

Ahem….

Well it took about 4 days to discover what rocky ground I was on. This blithe disregard for what I needed to keep on top of my energy came back to bite me and I was reminded (once again) that I am a mere mortal!

So I’ve been on the road to ‘filling my well’ again. First of all lots of rest. Then delicious snatched moments with my book (Cloud Atlas – loving it). Movie-nights at home with the children and Guy. Then going on a day-trip to Gloucester on Saturday (these family moments always feed me). Then today I did a lot of collaging which I love. Tomorrow I will take myself off for a solo date (a walk, cafe and writing probably). I wouldn’t have to do so much normally but I’m in catch-up mode!

Making sure you fill your well is vital. Neglecting yourself is like trying to drive your car on empty. What lovely thing have you done for yourself today? Make sure you do at least one thing to treat yourself – give yourself some space (even if it’s just 10 minutes) to spend quality time with you and you. It’s worth its weight in gold and ensures you won’t crash in the way I did this week.

 

 

 

A beautiful passing

I saw death this week and it has made a big impression. A beautiful, graceful and loving lady – a neighbour and aquaintance of mine, – “H” – died last week of breast cancer. She was in her early fifties and has left behind 3 amazing children and her loving husband.

Yesterday was her funeral. It was easily the most beautiful send-off I have ever witnessed. Friends and family reminisced about treasured moments in H’s life. Many songs were sung. At one poignant moment H’s husband sang with a quartet in his wonderful bass voice. The choir from the children’s school sang H’s favourite song.

I saw H for the final time that morning in her open coffin made entirely of beautiful cream felt with embroidered flowers on top. No longer H. really – just her earthly container – but an honour to be a witness to this most touching of passings.

Later, H.’s closed felt coffin was placed in a circle of flowers in the woods and we all wrote notes on paper leaves and hung them to a tree.

The subject of death for many is something to be avoided, feared and endured. Being at this inspiring event has made me realise once again how consciousness – the art of paying careful attention in a loving, open-hearted way, can facilitate a kind of magic. The magic of connection. H. had the time and, more importantly an incredible  generosity of spirit, to whole-heartedly plan all the details of her funeral with her family. It seemed as if everything was anticipated with an eye to what we as the mourners needed – honouring, celebrating, laughter, song, ritual, beauty and community. We all shared an inspired few hours together and it is typical of H. that she should facilitate this because she, of course, is all of those things.

Farewell sweet H. you will live on forever in so many people’s hearts.

 

 

Drawing meditation

As I explore the art of paying attention I have just become  aware of Mandalas. I tried one today for the first time and here’s my very modest result.

 

Mandalas are rooted in the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and Native American spirituality. Modern psychologists also use mandalas to have patients explore their inner sense of self.

 Why not give it a go? It’s very soothing and your inner child will have a ball at the same time!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to do it.

 

 

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!