Gold where you are

I’ve really settled into a deep inner practice this year; inner and also outer, balanced by creativity and meaningful connection. My days are settled into the rhythm of self-care, mindfulness and rituals that support me inside and out. Inside, I remain calm and oddly unsurprised, unrattled, by whatever unfolds. I can even see how these two roller-coaster years have served me by “giving me permission” to cease looking outside myself so much for answers or validation. No more trying so hard or pretending that I could ever conform to something “normal” or “mainstream”; just gently being me, exploring whatever that means, moment to moment. I find enjoyment honouring the full individuation of myself that all my traits and preferences have always pointed towards, thus I feel more comfortably “myself” than ever before. This serene state doesnt require the world to be solved or my health to be healed; they are not mutually exclusive. My days are infused with gratitude and it turns up all the lights and colours, day after day.

This has helped me to experience (not just “know” hypothetically…) how it really all does start and end on the inside of us, in our own back yard. The more I turn my attention there, the more gold seems to come my way, the simplest of days infused with it. I’ve got around to doing all those daily practices I allude to, and more (not just on highdays and holidays…) such as pausing to meditate several times a day, mindful walking, journalling and practicing being right here, in the moment, most of the time, which is the real pot of gold that each of us have access to.

Because it all happens right here in the present moment, outside of the reach of fear, rumination and the classic incentives of “money, prestige and winning” (to quote Eckhart Tolle). Nothing else matters nor has power outside of this moment, because “now” is where everything happens; all the rest is illusion, either the ghost of a memory or wild speculation of a future we can’t hope to predict. Beyond those things, I find peace and stillness over and over and over again because it is always more than manageable and offers such peace, such immense sense of wholeness, that the experience of them utterly defies words so I don’t even strive anymore. I savour it all for me, as can we all, once we get beyond the misguided belief that we need to save everyone else, thinking we have to bear the responsibility of all that is “going wrong”. Its not our job to convince, cajole or carry anyone along, none of us is here for that; what is unfolding right now is way bigger than any of us and we each play our ample part by cleaning up our own act.

All very well to feel so serene and “holy’ living your life like that, with ample time to paint and meditate, you might say. Yet I have my load…of high levels of pain and the many problems and frustrations that come with hypermobility, “stopping me” from doing what I “want to do”, keeping me from planning ahead. Like most people, I have to play Tetris with our finances just so we can get along. In recent months, we have had, and still have, loss and serious illness in our family and inner circle, all the usual stuff. Yet when I take pause and spend time with this moment, and then this moment and then this one I start to draw gold out of even this state of being “grounded” by my so called limitations because it quite literally grounds me here, in the now, which is the only moment that is and that matters; also, because I appreciate how it has liberated me for a life outside of the fray. Of course, we are all different but, whatever our circumstance, the gift of being here with what is, right now, is already here waiting for us, just as soon as we become aware of it…as in, truly, deeply aware, following the breath, ceasing to identify with our thinking, just stepping back and witnessing it all, noticing what comes up, aware of our own awareness…not bemoaning our circumstances or trying to medicate or distract them away.

©Helen White

Sometimes we don’t see gold for looking, or because we see what we expect to see, not what is actually there. I took myself for a walk in the woods near our house the other day, which was the first time I had managed to go out alone, due to my health, for quite a long time. The landscape had seemed so drab, so colourless when I set off and I could have stuck myself in that mindset, eyes down to the ground, yet when I looked up high in the trees, alerted by a certain chitter-chatter made familiar during last summer’s dreamy warmth in my garden, when they nested nearby, I found the trees above my head where full of red and yellow goldfinches, their dazzlingly incongruous outfits a foil to the bare-woody brownness of the trees. Only the day before, I had worked on an old artwork of mine, improving and expanding it to add more radiance plus an enhanced sense of depth to the composition so that these celestial birds now seemed to be tumbling from a portal in the sky, like manna from heaven. It had been my original vision for the artwork, two years ago but never quite got there…always a bit flat…and now I seemed to be able to get much closer to my far-more expansive intention, leaving me much more pleased with the result.

It was as though, not for the first time, my highly-focused attention working on that artwork, art being a highly-focused task that holds me in the moment more-so than anything I know, had somehow manifested them!

The next day, we came across the goldfinches again as we walked by the river where we mostly walk each day (and they have been there many days since)…loads of them…and then they appeared in the trees near our house, their unmistakably cheeky, rambling song with its “beep beep” chorus alerting my eyes upwards as I filled up the bird feeders. This morning, as I prepared to get on my yoga mat, there were 11 of them sat on the roof directly opposite my window, pecking at the moss, so, getting closer and closer. So much gold, right on the doorstep…I feel truly blessed.

What has this got to do with anything, some kind of superstition, as though the birds signify something meaningful…what’s it got to do with real life? Well, what it reminds us of, when we notice and appreciate any other small yet precious detail of our lives, is that it all happens when we slow right down, expand our gaze, take the time to be fully present and aware, interested, grateful. These things appear to us only when we are paying attention, being present, open, curious and aware, not expectant so much as willing to be pleasantly surprised without putting any pressure on the moment to be one way or another. In such a state, we skip dimensions, outside the bonds of the strictly three-dimensional experience, including the rather hopeless and cynical way the world is presented to us and how we have been entrained to see it, and so we remember, as children do (but almost inevitably forget, once they are socialised…) that life is so much more than “all this”, that possibilities await us way beyond any limitations our day may seem to present. We start to directly experience how there is gold waiting for us, whatever that may look like to us in particular, just as long as we are present and open enough to receive. For me, it happens to look like a world stuffed with brightly coloured birds, amongst other things!

From right here, we can refresh and renew our lives in some surprising ways, not by “doing anything” in particular but by changing the way we are being. New models of how to live our best life will no-doubt arise out of such moments, and we can amply harvest those inspirations as we go along. Old-stuck patterns will get noticed and thus trimmed away so they can shackle us no-longer and toxic exposures will be seen and addressed, not left unnoticed or put up with any longer. As space gets created in our days, it can seem as though everything is held in more space, thus nothing feels so pressured or chaffing as it once did. Calmness and clarity become less conditional and so the nervous system resets. And of course, whatever we “do” from present awareness gets infused with presence, transforming it and infusing it with quality and power because we are fully there with it, filled with joy and purpose (not just doing as a means to an end).

Yet the real gift is the practice of slowing right down, out of action and into awareness, as a primary state of being; now given its ample priority at last. Day by day, inch by tiny inch, time spent this way effects some surprising changes of trajectory made up of countless minute adjustments that turn out to alter everything in our own back yard and so here’s the very truth of it: this is the pot of gold we forgot we were sat on all the time, never needing to go out there digging for it since we only ever had to realise that it was here, hidden in plain sight, all along.

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SLOWly easing into the New Year

Second morning of the return to “normality” post Christmas and I suddenly became aware, sat there on my meditation bolster, just what it was that had had me feeling so unexpectedly aggravated yesterday.

Its been a really lovely couple of weeks spent in a small unit of 4 with close family; just what we needed and an absolute tonic but as soon as our little group disbanded on Monday and my husband returned to his home “office” on Tuesday morning (no, before that…the very thought of it made him toss and turn all night!) I began to feel as though a tight coil was being wound more and more tightly in my gut. I spent yesterday locked into a sort of exhausted blue-funk on the sofa catching up on my emails and other less-than inspiring things which, given I’ve been surprisingly robust, upright and lightheartedly creative this Christmas, came as a shock to the system. So there it was this morning…I saw it just as it is…the mindset that we are all implanted with from birth, that we must Rocket Launch the new year with dynamic new intentions and high activity, like its a race to the finish line now we’ve had our little culturally-endorsed break-away from the office. What a con!

Nature is (as ever) the clue to the truth. Out there, it’s now far colder than it was over our very mild Christmas and all the birds in my garden know its still deep winter with, maybe, the coldest yet to come. Our very biology is wired to slow down at this time of year…yes, even after the New Year sales have whipped people into an artificial frenzy…and yet we’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that we all need to dive straight back into the usual, frenetic way of being just as soon as the 4th of January comes around. Its utter brain-washing nonsense, and it deprives us of our best gifts and highest natural-born superpowers, all of which get suppressed beneath a thick layer of exhaustion that leads straight to the inevitable mid-February burn-out. We are all at sixes-and-sevens with the way our bodies work, and with the very way we draw on our personal strengths and best sources of inspiration at this dreaming time of the year, like we are allowed to think we are given the freedom to be who we are but are subtly knocked off track, enough to discombobulate us. Yes, we are even meant to sleep more than life makes room for at this time of the year; it’s how we are programmed.

Part of why I felt so agitated yesterday, I now realise, is the massive increase of traffic on my road, from way before daylight, compared to a couple of weeks over Christmas when traffic levels were pretty spartan. Now, my house grumbles to the sound of heavy vehicles once again but, more than that, its the SPEEEED everyone is going at out there…impacting my nervous system long before I open my eyes in the morning. Slow down already, where’s the fire?

I heard something so very true in Lee Harris’ latest offering “Conversations with the Z’s, The Energetics of the New Human Soul, Part 1” just this morning (and I paraphrase). We have been separated from our truth and one of the ways this has been done is that certain “truths” have been wrapped up inside of constructs designed to separate us from remembering we are multidimensional beings and therefore so much more than the locked-in constructs we tend to live to, day-in-day-out, such as the need to make a living to survive. The fact these nuggets of truth are hidden inside the falsehoods we are fed ensure that we allow ourselves to believe we are on the right track, because there is just enough truth to keep us on that wrong trail, for years if not all of our lives. One of these truths, I suspect, is that (yes) this is a very good time for setting positive aspirations in the ground of our year, the way we plant a seed in readiness for spring. However, that’s all we are meant to do right now…plant and have patience…taking each day at just the right pace to nurture the seed, keeping it warm, feeding it with our creativity and optimism, tinkering with the creative ideas we have just enough to draw them from the earth like an early shoot of hope. We are not meant to dash out into the cold winter garden of our lives at the start of January and start ploughing over the earth with a frenzy!

Our separationist culture tells us otherwise. It has us jumping up like a Jack-in-a-box to do the bidding of our inbuilt “training” to be productive, even when we think we are doing it for ourselves (because we are made to think that material goals are all we really live for and/or that our survival depends on it).

My husband has got the right idea this week, opting to flexi-work his way back into the routine with irregular coffee breaks, or walks by the river with me, according to when he wants to take those pauses. He did an hour or so’s work in his PJs yesterday so he could take a longer break a little later and then he finished off his work not long after the sun set, and if that’s what it takes to get the job done in a way that feels gentler, far more organic, then that’s really great. What he’s always found before is that he actually gets more done this way because it no longer feels like work.

The problem comes as the pressure amps up and more expectations start coming in, forming a hard grid of time blocks in a diary that has precious little room for manoeuvre…which all comes back to the expectations of other people to be able to get things done, get answers “immediately” and make progress with their agendas the very moment the New Year begins. Some things in life, for sure, require structure and schedule but I suspect there is a sizeable layer of stress-strata that could be dissolved in a moment if only people were prepared to be more flexible, reasonable and patient. Certainly, “work from home” allowances and far more flexible working hours would make a huge contribution. If only we all worked together on this, the world of “work” could be made so much more benign and far better for our collective health.

Hopefully the current advisory on “work from home” to do with covid will help out some people’s desire to “ease in” to this new year, not least those of us so introverted we always work best in our own environment, but I gather the struggle continues with some employers. The frustrating thing is that we all work so much better, more productively, when we do it to our own and Nature’s natural rhythms, which includes the circadian and circannual cycles. When we force ourselves out of Nature’s groves, we have to push ourselves so much harder…and our health always takes the toll, sooner or later.

When I work to my natural rhythms, I allow intuition to come up and take a front row seat. This is really key for me right now as its been a BIG Christmas period of creativity and strong intuitions about a lot of things that could enhance my experience of life, not to mention my health. I have irons in many fires and they all show so much promise…but I know the key is not to rush the rate at which each of these irons heat up. So much has come up and through me…just so much coherence and realisation…yet there’s no point jotting it down in my journal as though I had some “clever thought” one day unless I live to these new insights, at their own pace. The trick is not to scare them away before they’ve even settled, and launching projects too fast, too urgently, with far too much pressure can do that every time. Speed really isn’t the sexy thing its being sold as (constantly) by our culture and what I’ve found, time and time again, is that slow and steady gets me there, in fact gets me somewhere I never even dreamed of in more frenetic times, without the burn out; and believe me, with my health-history, I know all about burnout.

This time last week, I was “on holiday” getting up to my own rhythms and following my muse as to what to do with my time, whether that was writing, embroidering or knitting, painting, cooking or planning a completely left-field new creative project I’m suddenly excited to get started on (I’ve concertedly focused on activities that don’t require a computer, which has been so beneficial). All of the above activities are still available to me now that Christmas is “over” and yet somehow, yesterday, I felt utterly rigid, almost “rabbit caught in the headlamps” confronted with the very same choices…because I had somehow changed my whole attitude to how I APPROACHED those same tasks, over-layering them with pressure, perfectionism, timescales, stategies and other such nonsense when really I work best when I am in my natural rhythms and “flow”. Its a potent thing in our culture, this mindset…set to explode like an early-morning alarm call on 4th January, driving people to their desks and their gyms like their life depends on it, and I felt it!!

None of those things apply well to the creative process and yet I somehow got swept along on the cultural switch-over to Rocket Launch mode, perhaps because I felt my husband rise from his bed early, or because of the increased traffic noise outside alerting me it was “back to work day”. Yet the latter is just a concept, it doesn’t affect me (thankfully) and it shouldn’t really have to affect any of us that feel we work better without it; who just know we are our own best selves without feeling as though we are prisoners to a work ethic and have no choice. When we offer up our gifts freely and with joy, we work not only smarter but more productively and with less effort, not to mention so much more creativity and inspiration. It’s how we access our “big picture thinking” and make the kind of unprecedented connections that positively impact the world. At the very least, it’s how we live our best lives and rediscover what really makes us tick…not to mention our health.

How to even start? Well we can all start the process of slowly easing into the year by easing slowly into whatever it is we do with this one day. And then the next day. And then the day after that. Avoid, as far as possible, over-reaching with Grand Projects that become rods for our own backs; try planting more seeds and seeing how they do if we nurture them. Its a form of staying present with this moment and if this moment tells us we need to take a pause we make that pause happen. If we know we would do better to put this task down and take another look at it later or tomorrow we do that. We listen to the body, and we make lots of space for our intuition.

If this creates a “rub” with a certain situation or another person then we at least get to notice what or who it is that is acting as a tyrant over our life. If that situation can’t be changed and is making us unhappy or even ill then we can…slowly…start to change this, either by negotiating the way that we get to do our work or changing where or for whom we work in the first place. This was something I had to do for myself, on a very grand scale, for both my health and my sanity, 16 years ago and I sometimes allow myself to forget that was a battle hard won (but so worth it) and that this more fitting life of mine, these days, didn’t just land easily in my lap…its taken many sacrifices, a complete reinvention of my self-perception (as a so-called productive “unit” in this world) and a whole lot of misunderstanding from other parties. However, I’m just so glad I did that for myself; it saved my life, and I’m so happy to see more people prioritising this for themselves than ever before. Its a collective wake-up call happening at quite a rate of knots, even though we don’t always see it happening at the ground level where peer-group pressure reigns, and thus I hope my daughter and her offspring find a very different ethos about life-work balance waiting for them in just a few years time.

Meanwhile, I have seen the trip wire and stepped over it this morning. Back into my slow-groove, I find my creativity is creeping back and my excitement to do what I really want to do, without so much rushing, is fizzing gently in my stomach. If I’m honest, my most productive time of year is always March to April (not that I consider “productivity” so all-important any more), which is pretty-much in alignment with the green shoots of Spring. Plenty of time to go yet then…and I, finally, have more patience (and a lot more joy) than I ever had in my life.

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Lost…and found

Finding out about the syndrome of The Lost Child as a very real “psychology dynamic” within families was BIG for me just the other day (there’s an excellent short video on the topic by Heidi Priebe if this rings any bells, as it did for me). It ticks all the boxes for how I have always felt in my particular family dynamic and well into the core themes of my adult life and, not only that, I seem to have shared my childhood with one each of the other “types”, the Golden Child, the Hero and the Scapegoat, amongst my siblings, making us the textbook family unit. How archetypal is that!

That title The Lost Child sounds rather forlorne and it is (but there was absolutely no hesitation in me identifying myself with it when I heard it mentioned in an article…I can recall a time when I thought of myself as the Little Match Girl, always stood in the cold, peering in at a misted window to see the golden gathering around the Christmas tree from which I felt excluded…what a thing to have sat there at the core of your psyche). What I now see is that I had to loose myself in order to find myself. I mean REALLY find myself, which is the ongoing work of my life.

This theme sheds light on the importance of a key “trauma” of my childhood. I had a teddy from which I was utterly inseperable for years, taking him everywhere, constantly making him safe (in various carrying devices of my own inventing) in order to establish my own feeling of safety, especially when we went out in the world, but who was lost from the carrier on the back of my bicycle when I was 8 years old. It rocked my world, coinciding with a significant loss of confidence at school and in general.

What I now realise is that I had to loose Barnaby at such a key stage of my development (which the age of 8 really is, as children start to formulate who they are relative to others and the world at large) in order to reflect back at myself this integral state of “lostness”. The fact this trauma only thew me more deeply into a state of feeling so very lost and alone was perhaps the hardest route I could have taken in one so young, but it sure as anything “grew me” over the next few decades. We have to first lose something in order to find it, and I needed to be able to see my own sense of loss by staring it directly in the face, in order to start work on it. Its a universal quest; one that takes all things that exist in matter away from their source so that they can explore that state of oppositeness and separation on the way to realising all the ways they were never really anything except connected and whole.

Diving the theme so concertedly over losing one so twinned with who I felt myself to be became a foundational trauma for the next few decades. Don’t laugh as I describe myself as somehow “twinned” or intrinsically partnered with a stuffed toy…autistic children often form far stronger than average bonds with inanimate objects, often but not always stuffed toys, sometimes remaining deeply bonded with them well into adulthood (see this exploration of the topic by asperger blogger Aoife) and I have continued to form relationships with stuffed toys all my life, as does my husband (we do it together and form a family unit with various stuffed members in our household, ostensibly tongue in cheek but if anything should ever happen to our doppelgängers, who travel everywhere with us, we would be utterly distraught). When I lost Barnaby, I began some really important work on my own state of “lostness” and it was mirrored back at me through all my angst and rumination about where could he be, what had happened to him, why did nobody seem to care or relate..? I cared, and often wondered about him, even many years later.

Flipping those questions around, some hardly gleaned subconscious part of me was asking those very same questions about myself…what had happened to me, why did nobody seem to care or relate…and where was I now? Gradually, as those questions surfaced, they became my deep inner-work and they helped to walk me back towards my own sense of wholeness. At the point I was able to say with feeling “I have refound some important part of myself” I met my human teddy bear stand-in and recognised him on first sight (the bear-reference is an in-joke between my husband and I but let’s just say I never use his real name, he is variably Teddy or Bear to me). We have kidded many times that he is in fact Barnaby returned, dusted off and grown-up, with hardly a scar. The thing is, he is not my missing part but, rather, he reflects back to me my own intrinsic state of wholeness. No other person has ever, more consistently, reasserted and validated my wholeness in every moment, regardless of whatever transitory state of physical, mental or emotional health I happen to be in (not that I tend to need actual validation of wholeness any more, except in my most vulnerable or forgetful moments).

Meanwhile, as written about more than once this last year or so, I have been playing with time travel through listening to music from times when I felt most happy and whole in my life. When we listen to music, or revisit hobbies and interests, from earlier times in our lives we awaken body memories which are real and visceral in our present state of being and this can be useful as well as extremely powerful when the present times prove hard to stay immersed in all the time.

Discovering a particularly happy place recently in the music of Chirstmas ’75 (not all of it “Christmas” music but all music remembered from around that time) I find myself wondering if there was still something more “intact” about me that year, compared to subsequent years. I would have been 7 and the real hard-core bullying at school was yet to start plus it was before some other things happened to grow-me-up and unsettle me at home. Key is that, when I listen to certain songs, some of then not really heard very much or even at all since those times (the wonders of a child’s memory paired with the internet), its as though I can capture the visceral sensations of the star-eyed christmas child that I once was, like a rarified quality hovering in the air (like the musty smell of old Chistmas decorations can take you straight back in time…). It can give me the most tangible flashbacks to that earlier version of myself, like I am momentarily “there”. Most of all, I can draw to me the feeling of being utterly safe, cosy and even coddled in Christmas-ness. Perhaps it was the year before my brother broke it to me that Santa doesn’t really exist and it was all “a great big lie” because something changed after that…and I fell deeper into a sense of losing myself and also, interestingly, into the game of trying to pretend I was more like everyone else in order to fit in. That’s a lifelong game I am still busily unpicking!

This isn’t all about autism but I see how my autism has taken me more deeply into the journey of it. The loss of “Christmas Magic” is something that scars many more of us than our adult-version would care to admit. Hallmark movies rely on it…as does our shopping economy…all fuelled by the tireless search for Christmas magic.

Perhaps this is one of the many gifts of autism; we just know, in the most visceral and obvious way, that everything we experience is really about ourselves. We are the universe we live in and everything “going on” inside and out is simply relative to the workings of our consciousness. This is where we make the changes, do the real work, heal the “unhealable” and fill all those gaps and absences to become whole. If something feels missing this Christmas then really, once again, the lost element is an insider job. We are the magic we believe to be lost and our capacity to glean magic in the everyday the very portal to it. Just like our ability to feel valid, worthy, safe and intact, in the most unconditional ways, is the route to our very wholeness. When we find these things lead back into ourselves, we rediscover everything we ever thought to be lost “out there”…and that is just the beginning to a far happier New Year.

Christmas blessings and warmest wishes for the New Year from me and my Bear…here’s a self-portrait of us both finished just today (painting it has been an excercise in gratitude), the paint still slightly wet on our smiles.

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Camelot for a shining moment

It really got me pondering last night; what had persuaded me to watch a film about Jackie Kennedy (Jackie, 2016) on a sunday evening after an exhausting day? Hardly easy on the nervous system, right before bed and of course it fed my dreams. Yet something in me made me choose it and watch to the very end, graphic and pyschologically raw though it was.

In the morning, in my meditation, my mind threw up how my sticking point in the Gupta Program process is my inability to visualise my own recovery, a golden future, my aspirations (its true, I’m almost ashamed to admit…me the artist and I can’t paint my own better health). Why is that? I’m a visual thinker, I should be a natural at it…

Just as quickly, I got it. Its because my “visual faculty” has been held in gridlock forever and a day by my left brain as its most useful tool (though maybe it would never admit this), the right-side a serf to the left’s past-and-present-fixated obsessions. Logic can only deal with “what is” and “what has been” (evidence) not what might become or some flight of fancy never dreamed of before. And when you think visually, as-in every thought you have relies on processing itself as a series of images rather than linear mental constructs, your left brain relies on that faculty, leaning into it always being there and making itself readily available. Like the “little woman” behind the “great man” this has been taken for granted inside me forever, and my right brain is more useful and accomplished than she has been allowed to know, but this also means she has no time to go wandering off into meadows of buttercups…not when I have to use my visual thinking faculty everytime I have a thought. In a way, she is chained to the kitchen sink of my thoughts.

So she is always on duty, poised for action, sketching out images of whatever thought comes my way faster than a courtroom artist, making every brief construct graphic, impactful, getting deep into my soul and my body tissues in some seriously long-lasting ways (that stick, lodging trauma where others of a less-visual bent might think about something distateful yet forget it again and recover far quicker than I). Whatever it is, light, dark or middling, this visual faculty of mine will conjure it, making me the thinker who feels and responds, more swiftly, more completely, to everything she thinks, in an endless stream of responses, wearing me out. Oh to turn it off for a while.

Meanwhile, the visualisation trait that should see me flying high on the crest of a creative wave is no more than the wife to a president. She can redecorate the “White House” of my psyche all she wants, curating a beautiful memorial to all that ever was, and is; regathering lost trophies of the past (as JK did) to place stategically “on display” in my mind to make it seem more meaningful and beautiful than it ever was in the grit and grist of reality…but still she is only the wife to the president. Always half expecting to have to pack her bags and leave, handing over her hard efforts to others less appreciative. Always in the shadows. Always expected to turn a blind eye to fatally flawed characeristics and monumental mistakes stuck on repeat all around her. She can strive to “make perfect” what is and what has been all she likes but she’s not ever at liberty to be herself, someone in her own right, using her particular gifts to lead to a brighter future…

This has been “the feminine’s lot” for millenia. Inside of me, it appears to be “the lot” of my visual capacity. “But you’re an artist”, you might say. Well, yes…but I only paint what I see. Without a prop to draw upon, I tremble, I quiver, I just can’t seem to do it; low confidence and fear of my own judgement faculties coming down so hard on my own efforts cloud my visions. Give me a photo to work from and I will make the very best of it. But visualise something plucked from the ether, from “what might be”, made-up, inspired, never experienced before, daring and new and I flounder. Tasked with imagining my best health, I stick in the mud. Too many years with health problems behind me…all I can conjure visually, viscerally, is the imperfect when it comes to me. Where do I even start sensing what that good health would feel like, look like? I have nothing much to draw on relating to synchronised good health, all parts at once. What I construct becomes a sort of Frankenstein of smaller parts built up of fragments of memory of when this bit felt a bit better, when that thing was going easier, or times when my mind wasn’t so caught up in concerns of my health but how to extrapolate that into something real-seeming, continuous, reliable, taking me direct to where I’m already healed, feels impossible; I fall back in frsutration…

Meanwhile JK makes an observation about JFK’s obsession with the musical “Camelot”. She tells the reporter interviewing her throughout the film “Don’t let it be forgot, that for one brief, shining moment there was Camelot”. For that perfect moment, a clutch of halcyon days, they created such a world…a perfect compliment of male and female components, when he did what he did and she worked her magic in suport and he appreciated her for what she offered and she felt valued and all was golden; a perfectly spinning, uber-balanced world of beautiful people being their best selves in synergy. In my body, such Camelot moments hint at better days held in potential…harmony “clicks” into being for a moment and I, as it were, fly higher than all of it, as though looking at it all from the ceiling. Those are what I get to draw upon…draw with my mind’s eye.

The agony and the ecstacy of the balanced brain

I consider myself neurodiverse so how does this topic relate? Many people on the spectrum think visually (as do I) yet when you consider someone like Temple Grandin, who brought the tendency into the spotlight through her book “Thinking in Pictures”, we can also be a fairly analytical lot too; in fact its the combination that makes for the gift. Many times, I have thought to myself that if only I could just, truly, get to live in my right brain, I would simply lose myself in my love of art, an ability to spin fantasies to entertain myself and would get somewhere as an artist or writer. Instead, I become intensely fixated with “what is”, wrangling with it endlessly in search of new perspectives (hence this blog) but seldom set myself free enough from this wrestling match to fly off in some wholly new and creative direction.

In fact, its the rub of my psyche that my left and right brain halves are, as it were, held prisoner in the same room for what feels like eternity, forced to learn to muddle along with each other when both are equally dominant and demanding…it would be far easier if one got their own way more often! Yet it is also my growth point, the spark that makes the fire, my evolutionary “rub” as a work-in-progress human being. Our deepest frustrations so-often point at where we are most likely to excel, fuelling the leap.

In order to grow, the cycle has to transform into a spiral. The lockdown has to generate a growth tip that leads to something newer, “higher”, seen as though from a broader perspective; the overview. We all strive for balance, yes? But does it block the ability to grow? Does it end in stalemate or cancellation? Frustration and status quo? Does this kind of uber-balanced processing preclude the ability to develop such a growth point? I have to believe “not” and the key is the ability to see the whole picture, even for a few halcyon seconds now and again, hungering for such moments. Today, I’m catching a glimpse of the more complete picture and it feels important; sharing incase it resonates.

Halcyon Days

The Halcyon is a bird of Greek legend and the name is now commonly given to the European Kingfisher. The ancients believed that the bird made a floating nest in the Aegean Sea and had the power to calm the waves while brooding her eggs. Fourteen days of calm weather were to be expected when the Halcyon was nesting – around the winter solstice, usually 21st or 22nd of December. The Halcyon days are generally regarded as beginning on the 14th or 15th of December (source).

“Halycon days” was the phrase that occured to me most strongly as I wrote this post (I also thought of Cleopatra’s “salad days”…double-alluding to the fresh-green shoots of possibilty that emerge from such times of heyday; no less potential filled than a clutch of eggs floating on a rarely calm sea). The synchronicity of its origin, as I write this on 13th December, was not at all premeditated but makes me smile with the deep knowing that I have glimpsed a brief vision through the mists.

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Sensing evolution

Is “sensing” becoming the new normal, the regular parlance of our world…perhaps especially amongst women (it is, after all, the natural domain of “the feminine”)? I’m hearing the term used such a lot these days and the reason I tend to notice is that I have always operated this way; its always been front and centre of my life-skills to sense rather than “think into” a situation, but its not always been so easy to talk about it. Not so many moons ago, if you mentioned you “sensed” something rather than knowing it, you would so often be met by raised eyebrows or a roll of the eyes but these days I sense (ha!) more acceptance of the skill and certainly more people are starting to explore it, in broad daylight, without so much cringing as before, which is (in my view) a very good sign.

For some of us, its a known trait due to our particular personality stack (try combining Introverted Intuition with Extroverted Sensing, as per an INFJ…) to be able to sense substantial things in our environment with a kind of sixth sense the same way as others might gather empirical data employing the usual five senses, and its not always fun to live with, either. If your senses have to be “out there” checking for comfort, or danger, in every moment before you can take your next step, because you happen to be wired that way, this can lead to the kind of over stimulation and general exhaustion and overwhelm that I talked about in yesterday’s post Trick of the Light, which can then lead to all types of “crashes” occuring (in my case, a health crash), depending on how early the trait came on board and how overstimulated life has made it. It can also make you seem “irrational”, hesitant or hard to relate to and you have to learn to constantly advocate for yourself when having very strong grounds for why you do or don’t do certain things to a whole host of people who just don’t get your “reasoning”, which can be exhausting and alienating unless you surround yourself (as I have…eventually) with people who respect your sensing abilities.

For me, this tool kit was fully active from day one and I can clearly recall using the parlance of sensing all the time to my bewildered parents and some (not all…thankfully my sister “gets it”) of my siblings. For instance, I would frequently declare that this thing/place/person “feels funny” and I don’t like being near it or want to proceed, etc. When this is met with constant annoyance, disbelief and even censure, you can start to shove the trait deep underground, but it doesnt go away. You know you live by its information, come what may, and nothing will ever iron that out of you, however much people may want you to conform to “normal” benchmarks of decision-making.

Yet as you mature the trait, it becomes a gift and even a super-power, especially once you are an adult and thus a free agent to make your own choices. Used to navigate the right restaurant to eat in, when to hurry out of a dark alleyway, or a road junction right before the crash unfolds, or “just knowing” you’ve met your lifelong partner on first brief encounter, and when you’re quite confident you’ve found your new home of the next twenty years though you’ve only just put one foot over the threshold, it is that superpower and no mistaking. I’ve done all those things and more, beautifully navigated via my sensing skillset. Once, I changed the date of a ticket on a European train to the same time but in a different week, on what felt like a last-moment whim (though I really felt the strong compunction to make the change) only for that original train to be subjected to a terrorist attack, and that’s just one example of many. I’ve had more near-misses than I can count over the course of my life but what I mainly focus on by choice is that I narrowly, gratefully, avoided whatever it was and made some great if unaccountable decisions, and am still here to tell the tale.

So it struck me as interesting to discover last night that my artwork The Yellow Window has been used to accompany an article in Vogue (I’m terribly thrilled about that, by the way) featuring author Elizabeth Day, who talks about how she decided not to purchase a “perfect” house that didn’t feel right in various subtle ways, and for very good reason as it turned out. This sudden awakening to how important having a sixth sense can be, and how strongly she sensed the subtle clues not to proceed with the original purchase, inspired the “chilling” plotline of her latest novel “Magpie”.

Vogue Australia Oct 2021

Paradoxical really, as the painting in question is one I associate with extremely good and light, positive feelings and, in my opinion, the reason its been my most successful artwork to date is that its tanked full of all the good vibes that I painted into it. Just as real as any of its yellow-hued pigment on canvas, those good feelings were literally overspilling out of me onto the canvas like a kind of energetic “paint” of their own as I recalled all the wonderful feelings I had about that room, the gorgeous view, the much-loved people with me at the time (it was from a memory of the morning of my neice’s wedding and she and both bridesmaids, including my young daughter, were getting ready in the room behind me as I gazed out of the window at that golden view). In essence, I had bottled the positive feeling and enscapsulated it onto the canvas, into the artwork for posterity, so that (hopefully) when people look at it they sense the very same frequencies of golden light, love, gratitude and radiant, uplifting beauty coming at them as part of the overal effect.

In fact, this is a topic I suddenly recall writing about once before (back in 2014, in a post entitled Windows of Insight) when a stroke of synchronicities led to the sale of the original painting to a couple who had been trying so hard to track it down for two years since first spotting it hanging in a one-week exhibition during an art festival. It had left such a strong impression on them that they had employed a commercial gallery to try and track it down but were only ever offered substitutes to try out on their wall, none of which they kept, so they were overjoyed to finally find me. Until then, it had worked its magic hanging on the central wall of my house (right in “its heart”, you could say) where the very curl of the stairs begins, so that we were all forced to walk past it a zillion times a day and I really liked sensing it there. So, at first, I was so reluctant to part with it but then and I very-much felt like it had worked its charm for me, nudging me to realise important things about myself and my health-journey, and was now ready to go and hang on somebody else’s wall, especially as that someone was so attached to it, in fact I could sense it had found the perfect home to go to (I always like to sense when, and to whom, my paintings fly). Meanwhile, its become one of my most successful prints and commercial images, and now this. Mainly, I just like to think of it getting out there to be seen, hopefully spreading good vibes.

So, really, its far from inappropriate that it should find itself attached to an article about sensing when not to hang around in a particular place…not at all….because the whole point of sensing is to be able to discern when to go ahead, and when not to; there is always a yang to the yin, as a law of the universe. Sometimes you just have to get “the chills” in order to know which way to go because those hairs standing up on end tell us things, both positive and less so. In fact, the whole balance of the Yellow Window painting depends on shadow and light; you can’t have the one without the other and it only “works” as a composition because there are both, highlighting the radiance of the view. As I’ve discovered in my own life, for every set of uncomfortable feelings, there are an equal number of comfortable ones to be found…if we but allow ourselves to be more discerning, using our innate skills, which so often go deeper and can be trusted so much more than a lot of the information that comes in at us, bamboozling us, from “outside” of ourselves these days. There is just so much informational “noise” out there and we desperately need to learn how to lean into ourselves, and trust ourselves, far more than we have been entrained to do by a world that leans so heavily on “proof”.

So, in an era when things “not being quite what they seem” is so rife in our world, we really, really need to bring this skillset onboard, and then some. Interpreting those inexplicable “off” feelings we sometimes pick up on, as well as noticing (and relishing!) all the most positive ones, is something we need to get a whole lot better at, or at least we need to cease ignoring them just because they’re “not rational” (as is explored in the article) because they so-often hold substance and our felt senses know much more than our minds, a great deal of the time. And if we really are on the verge of a “sensing revolution”, and if popular literature exploring the theme is going to help bring that to people’s attention some more, then I can see why this particular painting would want to be there; it all feels pretty joined up to me!

You can view The Yellow Window on my website (for print options contract me).

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Trick of the light

Asking myself, instead of flailing around in search, I find I readily have all the answers I need. And what I find is that a very highly sensitive, intuitive child was born into a somewhat chaotic, highly-strung, though loving, family scenario in a very small overcrowded house, to over-stressed parents, and I went quickly into fight, flight or freeze mode. I went into it so much, so concertedly and often that it became my norm, though nobody knew, least of all me. When school bullying issues and “not fitting in” added to the triggers and it felt like there was no relenting, this state stuck in the “on” position for a great deal of the time. I had no idea other people didn’t feel so overwhelmed, or if they did…all I knew was what I was immersed in.

Nature/outdoors and books were my respite…those and certain TV programs and music and art. Yet it all got much worse in winter when I felt trapped in the chaos and heaviness of proximity with others who triggered me even more. In summer, and in my escapism, the roof lifted off this compressed feeling somewhat but the dark months felt/feel like the lid has clanged back on and as though I’m stuck here, wrong person, wrong frequency, wrong time and place. Where was all the light? Why wasn’t love the primary motivator? It felt as though I was asking this from my soul, from the very first moment…but I wasn’t, ever, depressed, just bewildered and trying tirelessly to make it feel better.

Christmas was meant to be the light in the dark but who were/are they trying to kid…I quickly picked up that this “concept” of the perfect time (for that’s what it really is) only exacerbates everyone’s stress and unconsciousness the more and then their mass irritability spirals out of control because of so many empty aspirations, the shallowness of so much of it; surely they could/can all feel its more facade than substance? As the sensitive child, I felt all at sea and often drowning, even as my heart broke over again because the light-of-lights hadn’t turned out to be as expected, for all the build-up. Did everyone else feel this disappointment (hard to tell…they never discussed it)? It would stomach punch me, year after year, and nothing to do with disappointment over presents. Other people’s behaviours certainly spoke of more distress than could be explained at surface level yet, every year, they dialled up the same expectations, on repeat…still do. Like the child-anthropologist, I was as fascinated as I was confused.

As an “empath” and a “fixer” I felt extra-loaded with responsibility to be good and make things better at that time of the year and that became the long-lasting Christmas tradition of my life…get everyone else what they want, negotiate peace at all costs or feel doomed in my purpose for being here. My own sense of magic was quickly dispelled, all too too early, by a sibling so-eager to drag me into the “reality” that it was all made up…the magic of Christmas wasn’t real, I had been duped!

All that spiteful act really did, apart from demonstrating more absence of love, was confirm the worst of my steadily amassing fears, that which I had already started to sense, being that the world itself was devoid of magic; those half-remembered other dimensions I came in with were all but a dream. I was indeed stranded here, all alone in an alien world that felt/feels so very dark, heavy, low-frequency, by and large. It’s how I’ve continued to feel all my life, for all the tireless quests in search of light, the daily search-party I send out into the mists in pursuit of what I refuse to put down, being the idea of a benign and loving reality where we can trust one another to meet us as we are and to do the right things, a world where peace and equality reign. I wished for this 365 days a year, all my life, not just on Christmas eve…

Our world continues to sing one tune and deliver something else…and Christmas continues to be the biggest bare-faced lie of them all. People fake all the magic in landfill-loads of plastic goods but the majority lack very much light or signs of awareness in their hearts; its all about “seeming” like without so much substance. I still turn to fantasy for affirmations that the spirit of Christmas does, or could, exist but I don’t find it very much in real life. The season always makes me want to withdraw till its all over.

So this disillusionment feeling (perhaps disillumination is better, as in a seeming lack of light) slipped in when I was a child and the world still feels desperately dark, heavy, sludgy like goo stuck to my boots. Day after day, I rise up striving to believe that there is light here, other than what sunlight delivers to my garden or that the birds so tirelessly sing about…but I still struggle, really struggle…mostly at this dark end of the year. It’s as though it closes in on me as the cloud-cover pulls over; hard not to feel hopeless, to not want to rise up any more but just become inert, surrendered to the feeling. It’s my hardest time of year, by far, as we enter the final month before solstice, and my body shouts it out in symptoms, try as I might to ignore it. Normally, I can always pull myself up by the bootstraps, and I still can…just, but it takes about all I’ve got when my body feels this lousy.

The difference these days is that I know that if I was to die tomorrow then, in an instant, all the sludge would clear away and all would be light…even the worst of it. All that feels so difficult, so messy, hopeless or relentless down here would seem oh-so simple, coherent even, and all would indeed be light, just as the sun never goes out above the clouds. This is the real trick of the light…that it never ever left us. The fact that it appears so absent is the trickery of our own perception, ingrained into our hard-learned human patterning, the ways of the flesh.

Getting to where I know that Truth moment to moment, “down here”, is my life’s work, ongoing. The spirit is willing but, having started so early in my profound disillusionment, my body shows all the signs of many decade’s wear and tear. This is still the heavy baggage to be put down, to be overcome so I can embody light, and I continue, even as just so many ingrained beliefs, doubts and fears try all the harder to disillusion me of my light….both inside and out (our world is full of them). We all take our knocks and our bodies wear the scars.

A lifetime’s worth of fight, flight or freeze response plays out as a bundle of “syndromes” that create havoc for my autonomic nervous system. When in “flight”, I’m over-stimulated, obsessive, a little too wired or on the edge of manic in my need to make good all that seems to be “wrong”and its not sustainable, or the right approach to get anywhere. In “freeze” my entire body takes this mandate a little too literally as the plaster-cast of rigid pain that locks all my muscles into fibro and the kind of fatigue that feels like being stuck in a vat of glue, day after day. When in “flight”, my nervous system suddenly decides it has to run for it, so all the blood pools to my legs, leaving my head spinning, my heart racing and the shock blood-supply to extremities resulting in the kind of hypermobility that returns me a body made of chewing gum instead of concrete…different, but it still isn’t going anywhere. This is what a fudged belief system looks like in the flesh…we see it, daily, in our world of under- and over-reactions but pitifully little forward traction.

So, stuck like this, I find no happy medium…my entire system is a series of automatic responses to an “old old” situation that has me feeling triggered just from the very fact of being alive in a largely incomprehensible world, at this particular time in our history and when it happens to be at this level of (un)consciousness. It’s as though I am from some other time…whether future or past…just, in a nutshell, some very different era that leaves me feeling fundamentally misplaced and reacting; my attempts at higher awareness and acceptance most earnest and sincere yet flagging from long-weary effort against the apparent tide of “what is”.

As ever in my life, the dark months only make it all feel so much worst, exacerbating the effects that are easier to deny when summer’s light fills most of the spaces. The same could be said of “these times”; they exacerbate all that already felt “off” but perhaps easier to cover-over or ignore in brighter times, before we landed with both feet into this mess, and now no denying it, there is work to be done. The dark will always show us what is missing, what we too-long denied, so we either curl up in a ball, frozen and inert, surrendered to our fate, or we pull hard upon those boot straps and we change our broken beliefs from the inside out.

Christmas, as ever, is the great multiplier of the effect; salt in the wound, pretending as ever it does that most people are of good heart and wide awake to the potential of love to transform when really they are mostly fixed upon consuming, consuming, demanding and consuming. I see no let-up, at this time of the year, to the long-running pantomime of pretended enlightenment used to cover up a dark hole of entitlement and self-interest. Then, all the extra demands of the season only add to fatigue and sensory overwhelm, it all feels too much; a perfect storm of too-much-ness.

Still, I grip onto a childish idea of magic made apparent, made real, allowed by mass concensus to rule for a day…and that, perhaps this time, it will wake everyone up, deed done or at least well on its way. Everyone will bring forth their best self and the armoury of forgetfulness will crack wide open to spill forth the remembrance of who we really are and how we are all connected. I hope…and yet half a century’s dashed hopes start to get to me, in my heart, leaving me core weary of the endless reruns of the season.

Knowing all this is the antidote, seeing the bind is the fix….and I never saw it more clearly than this. Like the full life-review without death, I have the overview, I see the conundrum, I shout-out the bind my body has got into, I bring awareness in to light up the whole picture as it is, I renew my vow to be the light (there is no better way for any of us to do the work) and I stalwartly renew my faith that those of us who landed here feeling most “off” from the very start, who feel down to the soles of our shoes that we are born of another time and consciousness, are here to help be the bridge that gets us there.

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Oh, the paradox!

Although this isn’t a post about health issues as such, I request to draw on the endless pool of useful materials that it provides on my journey towards wholeness. It’s a truth tripped over many times on that journey that the very thing that is most likely to provide remedy for one of my health issues is also, so often, the very thing that could make one or more of my others conditions much worse.

Magnesium is an example; supplements of this being highly recommended for numerous of my chronic pain issues, so I have been diligently taking the recommended dose and even using topical magnesium oil for a few days to tackle rigormortis-like rigidity and pain in my muscles (I was pretty desperate for a remedy before a physically challenging weekend). However, it can also drop blood pressure, which makes my various PoTs symptoms much more severe, as well as triggering IBS (and maybe a touch of toxic dump as muscles release their load of free radicals), all of which has occurred, contributing to a significant flare-up of various other symptoms I had under better control until now.

The same with several of my go-to relaxation remedies which then, ironically, hit my already low blood pressure and make things rather worse for me, whilst also making certain things such as nerve pain feel much better. Or, I turn to opposite remedies such as green tea or more citrus fruit to keep me upright for longer with better immunity and help clear free radicals while I am on the move more, yet they set off a whole load of other symptoms from my extensive range. It’s all such a constant balancing act and source of paradox, turning me into the lifetime student of the topic (whether I want to be or not).

I’ve also lived for 16 years with the paradox that its essential for muscles to be worked regularly through exercise, to achieve good blood supply and move out toxins that have built up in body tissue…yet with chronic fatigue syndrome there is not enough energy, due to mitochondrial dysfunction, to exercise muscles in the same way as other people, therefore use of muscles beyond a very low threshold can lead to spasm (meaning severe and long-lasting cramps), further reducing circulation, allowing more toxins to accumulate and triggering even more pain and fatigue.

Living with such conundrums can feel like a perpetual catch-22 sent to try you when CFS and Fibromyalgia, etc, are part of your picture. It honestly feels as though we are now living in the age of paradoxical health conditions, long-covid included, and whilst they are awful to live with, you can also sense they part of an evolutionary directive from the universe, forcing us out of our linear thinking and rigid diagnostic boxes.

Yet in some ways, this degree of paradox is all business as normal for an INFJ personality type (Myers Briggs), living as we INFJS do in the Land of Many Personal Contradictions. There was a very good article just the other day on Introvert Dear, about all the many paradoxes of the INFJ personality type and if you are one I highly recommend diving in to see if you recognise yourself. The summary, from some of my top paradoxical traits, is:

  • Preferring to be alone yet constantly in search of meaningful community and connection.
  • Free-spirited to a fault yet really needing structure and order.
  • Highly logical yet hugely emotional.
  • Fiercely independent yet constantly distracted by trying to meet others’ needs.
  • So confident in our own values yet able to see things through everybody else’s eyes or even speak up for their standpoint like holding both sides of a debate at once (some people find this trait so annoying).
  • Being a stickler for details, yet always of the BIG picture mindset.
  • Find beauty and opportunities for appreciatation in nearly everything, yet not easily impressed…

What I have come to discover, the more I mature, is that somewhere just beyond paradox lies “godliness” or, put in a more accessible way, that highly elusive quality “wholeness”. Because when you can learn to accept two paradoxical things about yourself, embodying them as Who You Are, you become the house of all things on a spectrum between polar opposites, all living in some sort of makeshift peace together…which is the best we can hope to achieve in this lifetime. We turn our crazy “house” into a home by learning to cohabit with all our traits, with respect and a large degree of overview, from which angle what we really focus on is all the amazement, respect and awe that we can be so unfathomable and yet keep on going…and growing!

When the yin and yang opposites of ourselves can be wedged so firmly side by side, not because of so much push and pull for the same territory forcing them to engage like terrible twins in combat, but because they agree to coincide (a little like agreeing to disagree) then a new kind of peace starts to reign, making things feel a little bit more “alright anyway” than they once were. Once that sense of “its alright-ness” starts to gain even the tiniest space for putting a root down into the ground of our experience, it soon grows and eventually starts to blossom as a new state of normal…one that coexists with that other reality, where everything feels contradictory and hard…helping to make it all feel better.

This is the kind of paradoxical “normal” that allows for many colours, creeds, opinions, expressions and other kinds of diversity to exist together…as the expression of Oneness that we all are. Its a state of Being the Universe, in physical form and sometimes it is those of us that seem to suffer the most that embody that state the more readily, because we’re not so streamlined into this or that version of reality…but into being a taste of everything!

Just the other side of that lifetime’s worth of suffering lies all this vast potential to realise what it is to be so many things at once…and be OK with that, rather than torn asunder. The inner conflict can call a cease-fire and a sort of no-mans-land Christmas can ensue, at least for a while.

Its why, in my way, I have come to love having one of the most paradoxical personality types there is…and even a body that throws ridiculous curveballs, never doing what it is “supposed” to do or making things easy.

I read another excellent post today, Reconnect With Your Loving Yessssss, by Jessica Shepherd, who has also been experiencing a lot of health challenges lately. She quoted a plaque that used to hang in her childhood kitchen reading “Bless this mess”, a sentiment she has drawn upon many times as she has learned to live with. and breathe through, all the intense pain, inviting her divinity into the mess of it all, in order to be more OK with that pain though she would of course rather be without it (I can relate as this mindfulness approach is also my most successful “remedy” approach to date). When we allow what is to just be there, we allow the divine aspect to pour in through the very funnel of all the living paradoxes we embody (each and every one of them being the opportunity to soak up even more grace), and so we evolve.

This is why my health journey has been the biggest evolutionary catalyst yet, a topic (as it happens) discussed in the latest short video released by The Gupta Program “Recovery is a Game of Bowling”, which I will attach below. The more we embody these paradoxical characteristics that we seem to bash against, on one side or the other of our straighter path (the idealised most direct and easy route) through life, the more we learn to course-correct, to find our own middle way, and thus we evolve as we do so. We learn where our sides are and, though knowing them better, we navigate more directly and comfortably “home” to ourselves.

Today I sit here in pain and paradox…including the paradox that I am full of love and gratitude following one of the best weekends for a long time and yet now I am having to find my comfortable place between many symptomatic contradictions which is, as always, work in progress. Yet we keep on trying to find our own way, in all of our ever-varing circumstances, and as we do so, we grow.

Reconnect with your Loving Yessssss – Jennifer Sherpherd, Moonkissed

14 Contradictions that INFJs Experience Nearly Every Day – Introvert, Dear

Recovery is a Game of Bowling – The Gupta Program

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Light into old structures

The directive was clear, both times…first, to purchase tickets to see Luxmuralis’ latest light creation at Salisbury Cathedral and the second, when that day came about, to visit Old Sarum, a place I hadn’t stopped at for over 30 years.

Between those two directives, a great deal had happened on all my different levels; a very great deal of water passed under the bridge. At the deepest levels, I had gone intensively into Lee Harris’ “Initiation“, his latest course, offering a perfect fit for my present stage of evolution. On the morning after the third, perhaps most personally revelvant, live session, still pulsing with the energy from the night before as I woke up, I learned that my closest friend and soul sister Kat had transitioned in the night (as written about at the end of a previous post).

Of course, I had no prediction of any of this when I bought the tickets several weeks ago, driven by how much I enjoyed Luxmuralis’ last offering local to me, in and around the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodeian Libray and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford (my photos here), two years ago, at a point in time when the subsequent pandemic and all that came with that would have seemed like a coming armageddon, had I but known about it in advance (thankfully, I didn’t or it might have been a dampener on the evening). Mostly, what I recall is just how uplifted I felt, like I was witnessing something tremendous, spawned out of ancient brickwork by the application of light.

Little did I know, I would come to welcome these new tickets, for an event in Salisbury, all the more by the time the date came around, because of this latest shock-factor, which had left me reeling even though I had known my friend would unlikely make it to Christmas. “We don’t have to go” was offered by my husband but, without hesitation, I knew I really wanted to, almost had to…it was exactly what my soul called for, witnessing extraordinary light flooding into old structures, resculpting them anew; I really craved something out of this world…and I also felt, somehow, it would bring me closer to my friend, perhaps ease my heartache.

The light show, entitled “Heaven and Earth” or “Sarum Light”, had more than a touch of life-review about some of its themes. Witnessing lists of endangered species projected onto a cathedral wall is a mightily powerful thing, loaded wih regretful pathos (we know not what we do)…as is witnessing a hovering blue butterfly as it seemingly breathes in and out the heavy structures of all the massive brick walls around it with every one of its bellows-like though fragile wing motions (the butterfly-effect in action)…and trees taking on a life of their own as they move in and merge with the high gothic arches (surely, trees are what inspired those medieval stone “leaps” to the heavens). This latest show seemed to have sucked in some of the sheer intensity of the last two years and grown up, in the interim, turning into something far more substantial and affecting than the last time…combined with the realisation that I was in such a massive space with more people than I had been around for a very long time. It had the feeling of holding a mass vigil about it; a moment of pause, for the planet and for humanity (and of course, for Kat), and I was so glad to be there.

When the walls became full of bees, I felt Kat all the more, her spirit filling the entire space as though suddenly super-sized all around me, in fact I could feel her glee…Even in her last months, as she faced coming off all the trials and winding-down her attempts to outlive the cancer a second time, she had signed up for an indepth online apiary course that I had sent on to her because of her passion for bees; to the end, always hopeful, engaged, eager and curious…just as bees ceaselessly breathe new life into our planet (or nectar into crumbled masonry, as I recall writing about a long time ago) though we hardly ever stop to appreciate.

So, it was the right call to go there, according to our plan (which made even more sense now), and I felt my friend with me by my shoulder all the way, yet that other part of our outing, Old Sarum, came from nowhere and I was quick to respond with a curious “OK then”. We could stop there mid-morning, en route to Salisbury, before we headed for lunch near the cathedral, before the light show.

A bit like my old haunt “Silchester” (Iron Age “Atrebates”) closer to home, which has been around for wayyy longer than the on-site informationals imply yet all the tourists ever seem to see (or want to see…) are the remnants of Roman-ness, Old Sarum was once a Bronze Age settlement and likely a neolithic one dating back as early as 3000BC and these feel like my layers. Having forgotten (until we pulled up in the carpark) how intact its walls are, compared to Silchester, I did my best to breeze past all the history pointers and imagine what it would be like without most of those walls, dialling right back into the original feeling of the place…whatever it was that drew people to its oddly rounded, perhaps volcanic hump (as is often the case where fault lines exist), to which fortifications were only later added…tuning in deep down and much lower than what still greets the tourist’s eyes, beneath a thousands years’ evidence of patriarchy.

Old Sarum trees: Photo © Helen White

“Down there” in the layers of time, I found a place of huge spirit, important in its time but in far less of a “worldly” sense than later came to pass. I also sensed there was a leyline passing through, or very close, but had no reference as to exactly where it crossed over. Logic would dictate it cut through the centre of the circle, however my eyes and my energy were constantly drawn outside of the ramparts and towards a line of copper trees, so distinctly lit up against a smokey backdrop of distant woodland with the water meadows and river down in the valley below. Here was goddess energy, something far more fluid, though no less potent, than that which had been milked by the builders of castles up on high. Try as I might to spend time on the hill or on the other side of its walls, to walk the full circle, I was constantly drawn back to that other side, to walk the perimeter clockwise, dawdling near those trees, which were now lit up with such coppery fire, as though they had been “switched on” for their very own light show…and then those lights, just as suddenly, turned off again just as surely as though a caretaker had flipped the light switch just as we rounded the corner, back to the far side of the circle once more. It seems, we had been there at exactly the right moment, just in time for the one burst of sunshine all day.

Suddenly, the scene was bitterly cold and gloomy, the trees turned to drabness again. I was reminded that, when such rare November sunshine lights up all the dying leaves on the trees, we witness the incredible upgrade of colour that is autumn exactly at the eleventh hour of the year, right before those leaves start to fall and the trees go into their mini-death of the winter season. Light poured into old structures really is some of the very best we ever get to know; as though stored up for these last moments, a finale.

Of course, when I returned home, I checked for the position of that leyline and, according to my source, this is part of the Duke Line (for Rev Edward Duke’s controversial theory about how this line aligns with the planets see here), which runs from Avebury and through nearby Stonehenge, past Old Sarum, right beneath those copper trees (you can see the trees clearly on the ariel view), forming one side of an energy trine or triangle with the Michael-Mary line and the Apollo line (so good to see something so Brexit-proof as that triangle, for a change). My friend, who was a gifted astrologer, would have loved all this!

Perhaps the original settlers were alright with the leyline being off centre, knowing that to live on top of a ley is an unsettling thing. Perhaps those later folks, Romans, kings and bishops, thought its proxomity would bring them a shot of power…only, it didn’t quite work out that way, so they dismantled their original cathedral at Old Sarum, to move it brick by brick, down into the valley, next to the water meadows, where Salisbury Cathedral now stands.

Somehow, having walked alongside the ley…having acknowledged “I see you” to the original energy powerhouse that attracted people to this spot…I felt like a torch barer for the rest of my day, carrying that inner light down into the light show of the evening, to add it to the mix. Beside me, Kat seemed to smile all the while…she would have been having a blast.

There’s something so powerful about seeing a thousand year old building, beautiful as it is, being softened, resculpted and transformed by nothing more substantial than light. Its a reminder of something important…and that’s all it takes, to be reminded by the demonstration of it.

However set in our ways, however long we have been alive, or the building stood there gathering moss on its roof, layers of dust thickly accumulated, old feelings, emotions, associations good and bad trapped into nooks and cranies, signs of wear and tear mounting with the years, we can always bring in that shot of light and it is as though all is made anew, somehow freshened and transformed.

Perhaps many of the hordes of peoples walking through the vast spaces of the cathedral that evening could feel it too…I think we all felt a little “touched” by the effect…and long may we all carry it into our lives. We had witnessed a resculpting of bricks and space itself; a disorientation that somehow renews. Death is said to be such a disorientation, thus we fear it with all our might…yet, if we could only learn to hold the faith that light is coming, how much more light could we dare to open up to.

I’ve been pulling oracle cards more than usual this week, shuffling well and taking my time but the one that has come up an uncanny number of times is the “Metamorphosis” card. A timely reminder that the process of change is often painful…but it doesn’t have to be. Either way, “if you are to transform from one form to another, a part of you needs to die”. It’s been an open-discussion topic for Kat and I since the very beginning of our friendship, perhaps one of the reasons why we were so drawn to one another at the start. She recognised in me someone who had faced so many micro-deaths over all the years of chronic illness, run parallel with the death of just so many of my former beliefs and egoic structures and, by her side, I have stood more close to death than since my mother transitioned, which was my original spiritual opening-point.

Right to the very end, we had a no-holds-barred openness with one another such that she would video diary or say to me some of her deepest, darkest, and lightest, brightest, realisations, expansions and fears around death as they came to her, way beyond the cultural pro forma dictating how death is “supposed to” be referenced, discussed or handled. I helped to keep her sane as this one outlet where she could express exactly what she was going through, without all the cultural clap-trap, fear and taboos around the topic and, via her courageous explorations, we both experienced huge expansions. I have revisted some of those conversations this week…in tandem with feeling so much awareness around what transition is, as it came to me direct from my ongoing connection with my friend. In these and many other ways, we have somehow managed to shed some serious quanities of light inside some extremely old walls and structures during our friendship, continuing. She was born to be a breaker of moulds and so, for my sins, was I.

Because (if we let it) death opens us up, makes us curious, and we can’t help but be a little touched by its effects when it happens to those we deeply love. Faced with our own ingrained terrors, we may choose to close ourselves down in the face of all that learned cultural fear…leaning into all the near-at-hand “conventional” responses and platitudes or becoming the victim…or we can open ourselves up widely next to that person going through the process, from which hallowed spot we can’t fail to be brushed by some of the expansiveness and light as it comes in to dissolve old structures. That is, both their old structures as they leave the physical realms and also our old structures, especially our old beliefs about “what dealth is” (even as we look our grief straight in the eyes and embark upon our own healing process, for as long as that takes).

What is left is so much light because light does not disolve the light; rather, it becomes even more light. I am quite confident there is plenty of Kat “left” after her transition; I have been feeling her closely since she passed, and I know she will always be with me at some beyond-three-dimensional level, a realisation that brings me much comfort (in some ways, the fact we never met in the flesh set this connection up all the better, since we have become accustomed to feeling one another, even when no words were being spoken). As happened when my mother died (mothers and daughters already have that unspoken connection…) opening up to all this possibility of remaining connected can be the start of our own next evolution towards letting more light in. My mother’s light is as real to me today as it was 25 years ago; and the same applies to Kat, I have no doubt, thus I feel lighter and more blessed for having known them both.

Love, of course, is also left and all that was ever related to love (certain memories, all the many ways you were touched by each other because of that love) remains intact…whilst so many other, unnecessary, structures just seem to dissolve away before your very eyes, as though they never even mattered at all. It’s an important lesson, if we are open to receiving it…and then remembering it, once the initial effect of the “light show” of transition has worn off. If we let it stay with us, touching us, it can change us forever.

We do this by letting go of all those no-longer-needed aspects of ourselves that get highlighted in the process; and I am busily gathering mine, newly spotlit, dispensing with whatever I can afford to lose, to better hold onto that which is most cherished and light-imbuing about our friendship.

Nothing in form is meant to last forever and we are thoroughly deluded (or caught up in some egoic “posterity” trip) if we think it ever will. As I spent some time today filling in some of the rotting wood around my window frames before the winter weather, I knew this was just a makeshift way of delaying the inevitable, and the same applies to all our efforts to preserve forever our bricks and mortar (or anything else made of form), though we can try, for as long as possible, to preserve our most treasured keepsakes, to prolong a life, to bring us some comfort and extension.

Better still, we can review what is most worth keeping without ever locking anything away with such reverence that we dare not ever bring it to the light of day, or reintrpret it, or find it a new use, or give it a cheerful lick of paint, or blast it wide open in some other brand-new way that could be the re-making of it…one of the reasons I so appreciate these light shows held in places of such high antiquity that their preservation orders are well intact and yet, with my very own eyes, I have witnessed them being totally reinvented and transformed beyond belief. Looked at that way, death is just another version of upcycling the best of what we have become, without making the flesh so precious that we are too afraid to let it go. Kat spoke on this topic, most eloquently, as she made her final peace with her situation.

Old Sarum trees: Photo © Helen White

Of course, letting go isn’t easy but, just as a caterpillar must shrug off the last remnants of its former state to become the light-filled butterfly, there is no skipping out this stage of the proceedings. Either we open to the evolution, letting light in (knowing that light can, and does, destroy what is not of the light) or we don’t evolve at all. Kat said to me, in one of her final messages, that she really wasnt so sure she was meant to continue. She could feel the old world imploding, a necessary shift taking shape, and it was beginning to feel to her that she was a part of that shift; that in order to encourage the shift, she also needed to be part of the leaving, making room for the new; how incredible she was. It’s so easy to think dark thoughts when something or someone is “taken away”, or fall back on the reassurance of how things “have always been”, even once they are not working anymore, gripping on at all costs, in preference to change but all that ever does is block out all the light potential of metamorphosis; a message for our times.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Divine feminine, Leylines, Life journey, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality, Symbolic journeys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Determination (a “feminine” quality par excellence)

I’m going to dive off the bizarre topic of my sudden urge to rewatch “Sex and the City” this week…not because I’m so fascinated by the TV program but from the perspective of the lay quantum historian that I always tend to be on the quiet. I’m quite fascinated by the subject material (and its not so “fluffy” as you might think…the scripts are often pretty astute and invariably amusing) of this long-running series from the point of view of when it occurred and why, at the time, I so strongly connected with it…and now the revisit. I’m going to add, there’s not one iota of the intellectual (or even spiritual!) snob in me to trip me up or determine (that word again…) whether I “should or should not” talk about such piffle. As ever, I’m just wide open and curious as to what brought me back here, and what it tells me about myself and my relationship with “the feminine” over the last two to three decades, which has been a seminal time for that long displaced aspect to start singing its song more loudly in our world.

Because, let’s not forget when that program (and likely others like it) was devised right on top of the turn of the millennium, on the fast-flowing tail winds of the eighth wave activating (for that quantum holographic reference point, search for all my other tagged posts on Dr Carl Calleman’s “Nine Waves of `Creation” book and theory). If, and I believe it did, the feminine aspect came more healthily “back” into the picture of our three-dimensional reality, after eons of cultural alienation, during the 90s and into the millennium, what would it look like on our TV sets; would it look a lot like this homage to handbags and sexual liberation? And how did I respond to it at the time, what did I find so relatable?

Well, at that time I found it hugely relatable. I was the same age-group as its four main female characters….and whilst I was considerably less driven by multiple sexual conquests or Manolo shoes, I had this in common with them….a trait I notice across all of the revisited episodes…sheer, almost feral, determination.

Whatever the situation back then, I brought that very quality to its table…vascilating wildly from the abject trivial to the life-dependent yet it was all the same, I was the most determined person I knew to the point it almost defined me (perhaps in its way, it still does…the core material of this blog as I have waded my way through the subsequent years of bewildering health challenges).

In fact, I really needed it, being the stage of my life when I “had” to be much more career-minded, money focused, social and seen. Over the time phase I was watching S&TC I threw a big wedding, had a child, got divorced, ran a small business, changed jobs more than once, worked for a big corporate, dressed to kill, bought and sold houses, shopped till I dropped, went out (a lot) to restaurants, bars and parties…and all that stuff. All the time, strongly suspecting that none of us were doing these things the way they had been done in the 60s, 70s or even 80s, certainly not the way our mothers did it. We were doing it anew in some uniquely female-oriented way that shouted “I’m determined, get out of my way”. Whether it was the determination to get that “thing” we had our eye on or to survive post-divorce and against all the odds, it was always there, that word…that quality…and we weren’t dialling it down any more, as previous generations had. It was no longer gender suicide to show this quality off or lead with it, no longer this “behind every successful man there’s a determined woman…stood politely in the shadows” thing and I liked this reflected back at me by S&TC. It bolstered my own determination and drive, just when I most needed it. Perhaps I need it again now, hence my revisit!

The program is a giant waving flag to the reality that women have material desires and aspirations too and this isn’t wrong, we just go about it a different way compared to most men. Whether in pursuit of the next orgasm, a pair of shoes, a career progression or a brand new house, we have that intense desire burning holes in us and its allowed, its not flawed or counter feminine to be so. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is exactly feminine; we are that quality, even when a man feels it driving his own aspirations (lets remember that yin and yang are not gender unique but partnered aspects in all of us).

Let’s look at that word “determination” again. According to the Oxford dictionary, it’s “the quality that makes you continue trying to do something even when this is difficult” and it can be fierce, even dogged, holding on to the last. Then there is the word “determine” at its core – to set the intention for something to happen, from the root de – “off” plus “terminare” from terminusend, limit”; to mark the end or boundary. Its like a way of declaring “enough is enough” to a situation as you set about making a new intention.

In a nutshell, this is what the feminine aspect was doing at that millenial juncture in our collective history, in all its forms and inside of us all, regardless of gender. Very good timing, since it was going to take a renaissance of sheer determination to get us through the next few decades, especially the times we are in now – so, back then we were just starting to cut our teeth for the main event yet to come.

If you boil down the plotline of most of the episodes, they pivot on the need to renegotiate the feminine’s relationship with the masculine. Not because it is all powerful and knowing (far from it, as shown) but because, without some sort of understanding arising between feminine “determination” and masculine “reality”, nothing much seems to change, whether that masculine aspect is played-out as a particular mate, a career ceiling or a rigid internal quality that undermines or seals off the most determined feminine flow.

Like a river that hits against a heavy rock fall, determination will still get there in the end, eroding away at the blockage, but that can take eons…or, with that uber-feminine quality that determination is so well-known for, it can find another way around, forge a brand new path, to continue its journey back to the sea. This is where we, collectively, are now…needing to adapt and forge new routes, to pick “determined and swift” over slowly chiselling away at the most obstinately resistant and sealed-off old ways, in order to get back to our collective wholeness. Women (as the embodiment of the feminine aspect in gender-expressed form) know how to do this; we were trained in it across all the thousands of years that we were met by so many intractable man-made obstacles!

We get there by setting off on that round-about route, doing it for ourselves, and never mind that curious others may notice us headed off in that direction and be inspired to try that route, or some other new route, themselves because we deviated…but, in our way, we become change makers, by example. Then we always got there in the end, because that’s just how derermined we are (we don’t stop till we drop), and now we remember this about ourselves we can set about doing that all the quicker, when we lean into our best qualities like never before (rather than bashing our heads repeatedly on piles of heavy boulders that have been trying to block our way for eons). Not by trying to be more masculine than the men (that never works out in the plotline…) but by doing what we do best…determining what has our most lit-up and sparkling attention held, thus realising what we most aspire to, then flowing towards it in a most determined way.

Those four women in the “story” get what they go after in the end, even when they have to do it for themselves until everyone else catches on. When they isolate their desire, that far-flung intention they want to go after, and screw all the obstacles, they get there, no apologies, a message I needed really needed to hear about, repeatedly, in my 30s (to undo all that cultural training of my childhood) and it delivered, in spadeloads.

One other thing that really can’t go unnoted…its about a group of women friends, all of them very different to one another, bonded together by virtue of their zest and quest for (their own particualar version of) authentic life. Its real, its gritty and yes their solidarity and acceptance of each other is palpable, through thick and thin. I used to know something like that, before health issues isolated me from all but the most stalwart and most friendships turned “virtual”. I’ve known what its like to have flesh-and-blood “drop everything” female friends show up on my doorstep or sweep me off somewhere in a crisis and I could use that back in my life at some point. You could say, I’m still determined to include it on my mental vision board for my future experience, even though its eluded me for so long.

Where does all that leave me today. I explored the same territory, during the same era, as those four women did…doing the liberated woman in a wine bar thing, the “career’, the clothes (the best dressed, if quirky, woman on my floor I was once told…and perhaps I did have a touch of the Sarah Jessica’s about me as I scooted around in my boho-vintage put togethers), the big mortgage, grabbing life by the balls and speaking my mind. What happened? Around 2007, it imploded (with my health…as it did for so many women of my generation, I notice…perhaps testament to how far we had leapt in such a short time!) and, “puff”, it all seemed to disappear overnight.

What does that say about those initial yin-yang renegotiations of the millennium? Well, inside this gal, its as though the feminine turned in on itself, which was necessary at the time of my collapse but is never a sustainable situation for a person wanting to remain viable in flesh and blood (the non-negotiable materials of 3D). It was as if I bagged up all my previous aspirations, like so many shoes I no longer had occasion to wear, and tried to forget about them. From now on, my determination was mostly acquisitioned for my health and my spiritual growth, for the next few years, so it became desperately inward looking and, in its way, went back underground unless you count my determination to share the fruits of my progress with the outside world through writing about it.

The result is an overly yin state (health that is fluid, to the point of highly unreliable in the outside world and a remarkable lack of commitment or structure relating to anything external) held up by as many yang circumstances as it takes to maintain a degree of predictability and routine. So, a collaboration of sorts…but true health only occurs when both yin and yang share the same house together, side by side, in matters both inward focussing and outward manifesting, both of which are important. Never mind whether you are introverted or extroverted, there are always ways we can put out into the world that don’t offend an introverted nature and I have come to realise just how important those are over the last couple of years of so (and am determined to develop them further).

For a long time, its as though I was waiting for outside circumstances to be better placed to meet my health restrictions before I stepped back out into them; now, I have learned something important…that we tend to do better when the yin and yang step out there together, as it were, hand-in-hand (a much more “ninth wave” way of approaching things too, rather than one “side” always waiting for the other to make the first move). Important to register that the ninth wave (search by tag to explore Dr Carl Calleman’s material about this quantum hollographic milestone) came onboard during the time I have been pulled back from the world; that too is just starting to get its feet under the table and is having its say. Put in more literal terms, rather than wait until I feel strong enough to meet the world “at my best”, I am starting to step out into the world a little more, just as I am, and notice how I feel stronger for making that effort to show up!

What I see, revisiting a series that transports me to another version of me, decades ago, is that I had a quality back then that was pretty awesome in its way; it saw me through such a lot and it was only just beginning to come out fully when it imploded…and now, well, its been in some sort of internal slow-cooker for a while but is ready to come out into daylight again, in ways that I don’t yet know the manifestation of, but I’m curious. Not shoes and job promotions this time, no, but perhaps something more materially viable, less abstract than of late. What came before feels like it was a rather “entertaining while it lasted” dress-rehearsal or honeymoon phase of something far more meaningful about to come up (not just for me but for all of us?) but I’m ready now, for a far more manifest expression of determination than just getting out of bed in the morning.

There is nothing wrong with having material aspirations (I would add, those that don’t actively harm the ecosystem), this is one of the misnomers of our time…one suggesting that it’s OK to need things to survive but not because you really want them for your own enjoyment. Reality is, we have to really want a materially better set of circumstances than we currently have in order to manifest them, and this is where the feminine comes in because “she” knows how to live by that. Wanting something beyond its puritanical “usefulness” is how we inspire the regeneration of the world on the principle of beauty as well as function. It’s how we value the arts…as we should…and include the magical, colourful, joyful and aspirational along with all our sheer determination for the viable future of this planet. And that’s also how we engage more people in the delivery of those dreams and get everyone on board with how we get there, in the most determined way, together.

Instead of turning inwards, in a survivalistic way (which is a chronic health situation in a nutshell…said by one who knows this from direct personal experience), we get drawn out of ourselves by such an aspirational intention for the future. It lights us up with a determined fire in our belly and, as such, is an ingredient that is very-much needed right now…both by me in my recovery process and by the world in its. So perhaps my little trip into what I smilingly think of as quantum holographic anthropology, revisiting the over-exagerated preoccupations of a whole generation of females via a series that has taken on the air of a comedy pastiche of its era (though its not that far off the mark…) has been a useful exercise in identifying this mislaid quality in me, and courting it back, if in a somewhat different format to the practice run of my earlier years.

Posted in Books, Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Divine feminine, Health & wellbeing, History, Life choices, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back in the body

When trauma, or physical pain, hit a highly sensitive person…perhaps repeatedly, relentlessly, over many years…a trait can be to learn how to leave that body, to vacate it (and anyone who is familiar with doing this will know exactly what I mean). Looking back, that’s something I did for long periods of time, days at a time, in the earlier days of fibromyalgia. I would vacate and float off, somewhere else, beyond all the pain and overwhelm, only coming back when the “show” was somewhat over, to repeat next time I had a flare. Perhaps I learned how as a child and young adult when, sometimes, the emotional, even traumatic, pain of life would get so much, so very severe, that there was no other way. It served me well, in its time…and perhaps again if I really needed it…but, lately, I’ve noticed a shift around calling on this trump card, this get-out clause. Lately, I’ve voted for staying in the body much more, even when in severest pain, even when it goes on for days…yet I’ve still elected to be with the pain, with my body, no longer the absentee landlord but at home with all the lights switched on.

It’s like that now, having just returned from a fairly arduous, if enjoyable, trip in more than one way (though notable for the fact I would have turned down such a trip…and have done…in the quite recent past yet this time I surprised myself by choosing to join in). Having travelled almost 200 miles north to Derbyshire to reunite with family last week, all those motorways that affect me hugely because of the intense EMF exposure and sitting posture, breaking the journey half way (as I felt I must) meaning having to sleep in two alien beds, one of them not so suitable for my hypermobile joints, one night after the next. Then settling in for a few days of what, for me, was an exceptional amount of “socialising” in a group of 12 people (more chatter and interaction than I’ve done for several years!), sat in a hard upright chair for most of that, then the return trip home, all in one journey this time (barring a leg stretch) because I felt I couldn’t cope with a repeat performance of the stop-over in “that bed”, my body is feeling hammered. Perhaps inevitably so, though the optimist that I am always hopes that it won’t happen and that this time will be different.

I’m in so much pain and stiffness its almost funny, especially when I limp across the room doubled up like the old woman of the hills (its how I feel). That’s how I start my days at least, and how I end them, and the pain doesn’t relent in the middle. But instead of befriending the sofa and vacating myself, drifting off to the sound of audio meditations, sleeping, doing whatever it takes not to be there with my body, less and less present or there whenever someone tries to speak with me, I’m doing the very opposite.

In fact, in the three days since we got back home I’ve completely redecorated a room! Not just “touching up” as I’ve been doing with much of the rest of my house in paced stages for a while now, nope, but opening that 2 litre can of paint and redoing all the walls as well as the woodwork. Its a job I knew I had to tackle before our trip, having failed to find a match for the original wall colour (and all my tester pots had made a graphitti of one of the main walls) but I had assumed it would take me a few weeks on and off between now and Christmas, not two days!

However, having landed back home in severe pain that walloped me all the more for how relatively good I felt when I was away, coping so well with the first night of seeing family that I elected to go out walking with them the next day and then socialise some more that evening (I really thought I was getting away with this trip!), I took the executive decision to get stuck-in the day after my first recovery day (already finding myself zoning out from the body most of that lost pocket of time…Monday was an absolute blur of succumbing to the desire to be “out of it”) and just see what I could do. This was a new tactic, born out of how much success I’ve had recently doing bits of decorating in small stages and my eagerness to get back to it and not put off my stride by a health dip…and perhaps because my trip away had grounded me in the body for five busy days and I really didn’t want to go back to all the abstraction of my ordinary life, not this time.

Before I knew it, I had covered two thirds of the reachable walls with paint and it was looking promising. By the next day (yesterday), fuelled by a steam of great music and audios in my earphones, I had done the rest of the walls too, including hard to reach areas and no short cuts taken where I had to shift old books and boxes off the top of the fixed bookshelves. By now, I had a fire in my belly to complete the job and perhaps overdid it by finishing off the woodwork I’d started right before our trip and there it was, all put back together again, my room all done and looking lovely as I sit in it typing these words, more than a little proud of my achievement.

Am I still in pain? I should coco, more pain that I could explain, more than most people could relate to unless they had been there. Pain that comes from deep inside tissue and limbs, from hypermobile joints, from nerve endings that have been over-sensitised for coming up 20 years and to such a high degree that it feels as though my skin is on fire, my clothing like sandpaper that I long to tear off; there is no rhyme or reason for this kind of pain except that it has become a habit of the body. So as I see it, I could deny it and leave the body behind, as though I am the co-occupant of a house that is no longer sharable, caught-up in an irreparable relationship with my lodger and unable to evict them so its down to me to move out, or I could put my feet back under that table and declare “I live here” again.

Inside house, outside house…in many ways its all the same. Investing in my own home with all this DIY lately has reminded me that unless we invest our effort and our care, its as though we don’t really inhabit there anymore, using it as the hotel for the night but seldom as the place we really want to be or envision a future for. Same with the body, unless we throw off our shoes and look as though we are planning to stay, the body starts to shut up shop, to make far less effort, becoming this cold, alien, cobwebby place where we don’t really receive such a warm reception.

Warmth is one thing I really appreciated in Derbyshire; the weather turned while we were there and, combined with the keen wind up in those northern hills where we were staying on a farm, warmth became a primary preoccupation. It was a timely reminder, about now and my future life. If I plan to move somewhere “like that” (and I do) I will need a warm, hospitable house, inside and out; my body will need to be the right home for me, one that I cherish time spent in, every bit as much as my actual bricks-and-mortar house, or the dream of finding my true earthly home, the one I’ve long been searching for all my life, won’t come about.

Derbyshire is also one hell of a grounding force…all those rocks and crags, water, wind and elementals coming at you from all directions…hard not to be in the body in such a landscape, as though gravity has given you an extra tug, crashing you back down to the ground with a slight bruise on the forehead and reminded you “there, you’re on planet Earth and don’t you ever forget it”. Hard to be airy-fairy all of the time there; to zoom off into the ethereal, spend all of your time on a cloud of abstraction. Not like back home where its been made all too easy for us to leave our bodies; our whole culture is built upon escapism and there’s a strong, pushy, element of “somebody” really wanting us all to vacate our bodies, to prefer to live in some virtual reality, so that we become far more complicit, far easier to shepherd around, to make decisions “for”, without any come-back. Such a timeline holds only horrors ahead, in my view, making this is a time to become vehemently grounded in our bodies, even more so if we are aware and sensitive, so as to cast our vote for something far different to all that. Its what COP26 is all about…our collective responsibility and how we all step up to it, not just allowing the few “in power” to cast a vote for all of our futures.

So perhaps it’s a time for sensitives to take this stand for becoming more grounded, whatever the cost to our sensitivities, no longer always choosing to vacate, floating off into abstraction, fleeing to the “spiritual” (rather than grounding their spirituality) whenever things get too triggering, too hard to swallow, too abrasive, too painful or traumatic, just generally too much. Realising there is always a choice, to either go or to stay…and, then, if staying, to be fully present in my body, and with my body, with my spiritual aspect right there inside of me, as fully intact as it ever was when I used to go “out” of myself to visit it all of the time (which was perfectly alright for me back then…it fuelled my spiritual awakening), all together sharing the same physical house…this has been a BIG movement towards the positive for me, this year. Huge!

What I notice is that somehow pain and overwhelm become less, at least for the larger portion, when I’m engaged in projects that mean something to me, and I don’t just mean the decorating…it could be anything that inspires, big or small. It’s the engagement with something that lights us up that makes it possible to hang around for far longer in a physical sense, even when that physicality continues to feel so triggering and “too much” whenever we stop and think about it (the key is not to; to redirect those thoughts to the positive, over and over and over again). Holding a vision is absolutely key, so work on envisioning what you would like to aspire to realising in this world, beyond the smallness of all the usual limitations and triggers. There are those moments at the beginning and end of each day when it really is harder to forget the pain, even sometimes in the middle of the day if I’m overdoing it…but then, I also think about what I’ve achieved today and what I’m looking forwards to achieving next, keeping that torch lit, so that becomes the predominant focus, not the pain at all.

When pain is unavoidably attention-seeking and physically limiting then (I’m not running a boot-camp here…activities are meant to be enjoyable) of course I allow the abstraction, the dozing, the journalling, the meditation, the drifting off out of the body for a respite yet I set a time limit to that, in a positive way, as in “have a break for an hour now but wouldn’t it be great to get that thing done between 2 and 3”. Then I can get myself back to it and so it repeats, day after day; the dress rehearsal for a zillion other ways I know I can become more fully engaged with life again, only this time more “switched on” and aware than I ever was before all this health crisis happened to me.

Having the daily rituals in place, for instance the morning meditation or time set aside for journalling, followed by an idea when you would like to get upright and more productive (by the way, this is helping enormously with core strength and dysautonomia as I find I’m able to sustain being upright, even balancing and stretching above the head, the more regularly I do it…astonishing compared to how I was just a few months ago having dizzy spells all over the place), helps to strike this balance. In fact, its perhaps essential in the early stages of becoming more grounded, meaning you are still consciously factoring in those times (as regular as you feel you need) when you are off the hook to go soft, to stop doing and just float away, until a more balanced habit of life takes shape. And, of course, there should be no imperatives that anything “has” to be done at this stage, its just a case of making space for more intentional behaviours, goals, tasks, small commitments that would make you feel good about yourself or as though you have contributed something tangible to your day, even (perhaps especially) on a day when you are more challenged by pain…because the satisfaction of the achievement outshines the pain every time. The next morning as you wake up you won’t remember “yesterday I was in such pain again” but “wow I did that thing” and so, inch by inch, you reinvest in life and it starts to tip its balance.

What I also find is that, as triggers arise, they only make me more determined, more “fuelled” in my commitment to shake it all up, to move the body…and the energy…around to better suit myself. What I glean is that we sensitives serve as alchemists, expressly because we are so acutely aware of the difference in frequency between one experience and another and thus the stages of shift it takes to manouver from one to the other; and far more so than someone who is not sensitive thus cannot even perceive that the energy of a situation is “off” or challenging in the first place. So, this is our gift, but only if we bring it down to earth to use it in our daily lives!

So, in effect, nothing has gone wrong here, none of it is a slip-up or mistake, not even the pain; really, all just a journey towards renegotiating our relationship with the physical whilst expanding to incorporate the non-physical (which we sensitives are world leaders in doing; and much needed in these times, where far too much onus is put upon the mental/logical in a way that would be the ruin of us all). Aren’t we the ones that can see how it’s all going wrong, how desperate mistakes are being made, how the world needs more soul, more compassion, more oneness? No point realising all this if we don’t bring it to ground and embody it, urgently now, as who we are, how we conduct ourselves, the living example of our days. We are needed…not out there in the abstract (the abstract can get along just fine without us standing in attendance) but here and now, anchored to this physical reality.

As I alluded to above, its been made all too easy for us, not just the most sensitive, to vacate our bodies, even preferable (culturally speaking) that we lose ourselves in escapism rather than staying fully present and awake, having an opinion or taking action regarding whatever timeline we are collectively on. Perhaps its time we sensitivies commited to becoming more grounded, practicing how to be more fully present with our bodies (first…inevitably spinning this out into the world the more we balance our own health), learning to ride or even transform all the triggers, in order to anchor our higher vision to the physical world we all share together as our only embodied “home”.

When our sense of home is more than just our body or the house that we live in but also the whole of the world that we live in, with all its occupants our extended family all living beneath one roof, we start to spin out the same priorities for all as we would want to preserve for ourselves and that’s where we all start to make a real difference, together, as embodied souls living on a beautiful, healthy and supremely well cared-for physical earth; one where pain might not be completely absent yet where it begins to self-limit through the dramatic reduction of provocations and the embodied focus upon higher things.

Post script: Shortly after publishing this post, in fact it was 11:11am because I had just laughed outloud at the synchronicity that it should be that time on 11/11 (double whammy master numbers) I learned from her husband that my dear friend Kat had died this morning. Kat had had a rare kind of cancer for quite some time and we knew this was coming, in fact I have spoken about my grief in this space before, yet it is still a lot to process. She was the closest friend (my husband excepting) that I ever had in this lifetime, although we never met in the flesh (it didn’t really matter to us, in fact it helped us to go in really deep and multidimensional, without so many worldly distractions). I recognised her the very first moment I “met” her online all those years ago, and she felt the same. In Derbyshire last week, I felt her in the wind, the rain, in running water, jutting rocks and craggy hilltops, in fact in all the ever-present elementals of that rugged earthy landcape, perhaps especially after darkness fell, when the senses become all the more keen…her kind of place. I just kept feeling her there as though she was already stradling realities, which I suspect she may have been by then, expanding out of her troubled body to better match the sheer scale of her consciousness, playing with the elements.

As I was pondering the timing of her passing, I was struck by the irony that I had woken this morning at 6.30am on the nail with a blog post (this one) quite determined to come out of me and with the ready-formed title “Back in the body” already waiting for me to use, even before I really knew about its content. Oh the irony, given Kat had, at that very moment (I later learned) left her’s behind! She would have belly-laughed at this with me…we were always playing yin and yang to each other, its what made us such a tour de force. One of us would be grounded when the other was “out there” in the ether, or one would be up there on the high end of the see-saw of life when the other was down in the floor-sweepings and yet we came to realise, over and over again, that both ends were really all the same, no better or worse…that’s how we did big alchemy together and, apparently, we still are doing it today. Celebrating the enormous heart and uniquely free-spirited soul that I knew as Kat, feeling so much boundless love and appreciation for her today, knowing she will always be with me and that we will likely meet again.

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