Freedom – what if it’s an inside job?

We keep searching outside of ourselves for this word. Freedom. This feeling we get a taste of and then chase, like it’s a hunt in the wilds of the world.

What if it’s a hunt in the wilds of ourselves?

We go looking in places like relationship – if I leave my husband, or if I leave my wife – then I will feel free again. In the spaces with our children – when the kids go to school, or when the teens finally leave home – then I’ll have my freedom back, then things will be different. Around the corners of our bodies, in the weight of our thighs or the pain in different parts – when I reach this weight, or when I don’t have this pain anymore – then I’ll finally be free.

We keep seeking, souls driven to fixing and trying, ducking and diving, running and drinking, all in this endless search for freedom.

What if freedom is an inside job?

What if the very thing you’re tirelessly chasing is actually inside of you? Under the thoughts of not-good-enough, not perfect, not worthy. Under the words of failure, stupid, have to do better, never good enough. Hiding between the layers of anxiety, fear and busy-ness that wrap around the moments in your day.

What then?

What is freedom?

Where do you go to find the freedom when it’s hiding inside you all along?

Right there in front of you, a solution closer to home, but doesn’t feel as exhilarating as hunting outside yourself. What do you have to show for that? A growing sense of contentment? Who wants that rather than things and change and stories and endless travel? Doesn’t that state freedom more than your mind slowing down and becoming more present?

The voices in your head might become kinder, gentler, but so what – isn’t freedom in the running away, the chasing, the being free of everything?

What if Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose as Janis Joplin once sang. What if it’s the ticket, the golden ticket to a peaceful time with yourself? No matter where you are, or who you’re with. Something you carry inside yourself like a golden key, that no circumstance can rob you of.

What if that’s a different version of freedom we don’t visit as often?

Another Surrender – a letting go…

a surrender…
a letting go…
another home-coming…

Each time in my life I am given the opportunity to deepen into surrender, and I do what I can in the moment to follow it, the experience is unique. I let go in different ways. I stand strong in others, and I soften to myself, and to life, in ways I didn’t know I could or ever would.

This time surrender looks like an inner strength, deeply grounded into Mother Earth, drawing from her nourishment and the nourishment I have cultivated for myself. It looks like standing on the edge of the wild ocean, my toes deep into the soft sand, letting the waves crash over me.

Now is not a time to run away or hide from their fierce power.

It is time to stand and know that I won’t get swept away by them, pulled under, gasping and struggling for air, even though there may be moments I will doubt this knowing.

So I settle in and let my body stretch and be flexible, moving and swaying with each wave that engulfs me. Knowing that it will also recede. Remembering that I have a strength within me that I can access more deeply in this process of surrender and trust.

If I simply stand here and feel it all, and let it be what it is in this moment, the waves will ebb and they will flow. And I will breath deeper and more freely in every pause.

Each wave leaves behind something on the shore for me, a gift of sorts.

Some will be shining and glimmering with a beauty I didn’t know I could grasp. Others will pull deeply into my heart and burn and ache and squeeze.

Then the time will come to collect the flotsam around me on this wild, beautiful beach. I will reverently place a collection in my precious tool-bag, and the others I will ceremoniously place on a bonfire and burn – let go, release, surrender to another form.

I don’t think surrender necessarily feels easier each time I open to it, but it does feel different; deeper trust. I have more tools and support to reach for, and in each unique opportunity, there is a similarity, a familiarity that I can touch and know that I have been here before, in an earlier version of myself.

There is the sense of another form of embodied home-coming.

Why Circle?

Why I circle?

My big why for facilitating circle is to create safe space for the REALNESS that so many of us crave!

I felt disconnected from realness the moment I went to school. Real didn’t feel like an option and vulnerability sure wasn’t! I didn’t feel safe showing my real self, or my real feelings, because then I wouldn’t fit in or belong.

So I learned to tailor the parts of me that were allowed to be expressed in the world.

Once I found circle, I had some unlearning to do, and it was profoundly healing.

Why circle for you?

For each of us it’s going to be a different answer, at different times, and circle can give each of us those different things. That’s the beauty of circle.

For those of you who don’t know, women’s circles are a gathering of women (virtually or physically) in a safe space where you can simply show up as the unique human being that you are, no masks, no hiding and no need to pretend you’ve got it all together.

I know this might sound scary, but honestly magic happens when women gather in circle, because you realise that our internal worlds are a lot more similar than we may think. And yes, sometimes there are tears or frustration, but they’re real, and they need to be released for something else to come in.

Why circle?

Circle is a place to gather and know that you won’t be fixed or given advice, simply witnessed where you are, because we all have wisdom within us. When a woman is given permission and the invitation to open up, dig deep, and courageously share in a safe space with others, she gains access to this wisdom within her, and this is magical to witness.

For me circle has been such a simple way to feel deeply connected to others. To experience a greater sense of belonging to myself and all that life is, without needing to fix or change anything in that moment.

From my years of experience both sitting in and facilitating circle, to be able to be real and vulnerable within a gathering of women is so wildly freeing and healing and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Let them hold you…

As Jeanette Leblanc says:

A circle of women may be the most powerful force known to humanity. If you have one, embrace it. If you need one, seek it. If you find one, for the love of all that is good and holy, dive in. Hold on. Love it up. Get naked. Let them see you. Let them hold you. Let your reluctant tears fall. Let yourself rise fierce and love gentle. You will be changed. The very fabric of your being will be altered by this, if you allow it. Please, please allow it.

I invite you to find yourself a circle, online or in person. Both are just as powerful in their own different ways, and I can guarantee they will transform you in some way if you let it!

Surrender

Today I wanted to write about surrender and my current journey with it. I planned to tell you how in the dictionaries surrender is to stop fighting or resisting, and usually referred to in the sense that you’ve given up and are defeated. If you surrender, you stop fighting or resisting someone and agree that you have been beaten (Collins Dictionary).

surrender to freedomHowever, in terms of our life journey, surrender is anything but defeat. It’s like opening yourself up to the limitless possibilities of unknown freedom. It’s the first part of that definition, but instead of giving up, it’s a letting go. Letting go of control, expectations, the need to know, the need to shape something to what we desire. It’s a letting go of resistance and fighting what is, to simply allow what is. Peace.

Then I was going to use words to show you a snippet of what life’s been like the last couple of months and how I’ve danced my way into an even deeper understanding of surrender. How things have changed so much, yet could look the same.

I realised, though, to do that I need the back-story. The last year really. My relatively new journey with meditation, getting my head around more brain science, committing to embracing the unknown, and so much more. But you know what, that’s part of a book really, not just a quick blog post.

Surrender, day by day

And so, let me rather tell you about my experience with surrender over the past couple of months. It’s different moment to moment and day by day.

Some days it’s looked like getting back into bed after breakfast, fully under the covers and just lying with the emotions that I’m feeling. Sometimes tears, hot down my cheeks, other times a swirling confusion rampaging through my chest. It’s been not fighting their intensity and trying to be positive, but instead letting them fully embody me, so that they can move through me and give me the release of peace on the other side. Half an hour later. Sometimes an hour later. But always so much sooner than I expect when I surrender and stop pushing through.

It’s looked like me lying on the soft white beach sand at 9pm, under the three quarter moon, arms outstretched like a sand angel in a surrender position, feeling my heart expand beyond its reaches in gratitude for what my life is. For the beauty I have access to all around and within me.

Releasing fear, choosing trust

Some moments it’s been the act of releasing the tightness of fear gripping my heart, within minutes of getting off the toilet for the fifth time. Releasing the tumbling, fighting words along the lines of ‘when will this end?’, and instead choosing trust. Standing up, shoulders back and breathing a smile onto my face. Not to by-pass, but to save my body from the chemical stressor of fear. Choosing in the healing power I have within me and within this incredibly wise body when I give her the space to do her thing. Without that fear in the way.

Sometimes it’s been lying down and sleeping, at random times, simply because I can feel that’s what my body is begging for.

It’s also been a knowing that my body needs a break from food and fasting, not out of the past choices sometimes from fear. Instead, choosing fasting out of a deep respect for how our bodies work, and that sometimes rest is all our gut is asking for. A time where it’s not spending energy on digesting but on healing.

Saying no, and yes

Surrender has also been in that space of saying no. Saying no to commitments to others, or to things I thought I should do, or even was really looking forward to. No to things I had booked, but it was best to cancel. Instead choosing to say yes to the commitment I made to myself. The vow I took of honouring this body first and foremost. This home. To do what she needs. My home forever.

And in these spaces and places, I have let go, more than I ever have. I have trusted. More than I ever have, and I am feeling a deeper sense of peace creeping through my being, despite the challenges that my body is experiencing.

Tomorrow surrender will look different, not just once, and I will play with her and see where she takes me. What does surrender look like for you right now?

PS: I found it interesting reading my earlier pieces on fear and surrender, when at that time I was reaching the deepest level of surrender I had yet found. How now surrender feels so different. And how it will feel so different again and again.

What will your day be like?

What will your day be like?

I don’t know…
I hope it’s a good one.
It’s going to be amazing.
Probably really busy.
I’m going to have an adventure…
Interesting.

What’s your answer to a question like this? Do you feel like it simply depends on who you see, who says what, or whether or not it goes as smoothly as you’d hoped?

If you dive into the day and let its quality be determined by external factors, then you’re playing roulette. It could go either way. What if you see old Cecil who always manages to annoy with his snarky comments, and you spend hours feeling disgruntled and wishing he hadn’t ‘wrecked’ your day?

When you wake up in the morning you actually have the power to choose what your day is going to be like. You get to answer that question before the day has even happened! Because you always have a choice. If you’ve made the conscious decision as you wake up, that you’re not going to let a person or a situation change the quality of your day, things will be different if you see old Cecil.

Instead of reacting to his comments, you will choose to be aware of the fact that his words are his, and a reflection of his state of mind. You’ll realise you don’t want to waste more than five minutes of your precious energy feeling pissed about what he said, or about what you read in the news this morning.

What will your day be like?Which option feels more empowering?

Kinder on your nervous system?

I know which one I choose every day. I choose the perspective that my day is going to be interesting, or adventurous, or something along those lines. And then when things happen that could/do throw me, I realise they’re an opportunity for me to make a shift, or come back to centre and reclaim where I spend my life-force.

And no, it’s not always easy. Some mornings I swear the moment I’m dressed I start feeling a bit grumpy and when I see the mess in the kitchen I want to have a melt down. Or I don’t eat soon enough and feel hangry, and Harlan says something that annoys me. But the difference between now and a few years ago is that I am aware I don’t have to feel like that.

I’ve come to know what helps to shift me out of that space so that I can move back into the driver’s seat, instead of being driven by what’s happening.

I might take two minutes outside, simply being with nature and breathing. Or I’ll put on one of my favourite dance songs and move my body. If I’ve got the time and space I might even meditate again. A bite to eat or a drink of water could do the trick. And sometimes it’s as simple as letting myself laugh at the silly joke Harlan’s made instead of choosing to stay grumpy.

Some days it feels more challenging to come into that space of feeling like the driver.

Then the only loving option is self-compassion. To accept that you might react to things and carry around frustration or anger for longer than you’d like. But that you can be gentle with yourself through the process, and instead of judging your frustration or anger, realising that it will pass.

So, when you wake up tomorrow morning, what is your day going to be like? Decide. And then make a conscious effort to be aware every time that you let an event pull you into a dis-empowered place. Play with how you can shift yourself, so that you’re back behind the steering wheel of your day.

What tools do you use to shift your headspace?

Gratitude is like a muscle…

The more you use it, the stronger it grows.

Gratitude is like a muscle, even though sometimes you might think it is circumstantial. You see people’s lives and think “well it’s easy for them to feel grateful, they…”

  • have lots of money
  • are gorgeous
  • have kids
  • live somewhere beautiful
  • have a great job
  • have lots of friends

Gratitude is like a muscle...glass half full or half empty?

But that’s not how gratitude works. Many of those people above will have an overall grateful attitude and many of them won’t. It’s not circumstantial, it’s an inside job. Gratitude is an attitude to how we choose to view our world and our life and the moments in the day. Glass half full or glass half empty?

Gratitude is a habit…

…just like anger, worry, stress, guilt. If your default is anger, that’s a neural network that you’ve been working on for years. Your brain is set up, ready to fire and wire for that outcome at the drop of a hat. Therefore, situations that anger you are really easy to find – sometimes circumstantial, sometimes simply by bringing up a thought in your mind.

So with gratitude, just like a muscle, we’ve got to grow it! Grow that neural network. We’ve got to practice it over and over and over until our brain is ready to fire and wire down that pathway in the blink of an eye or the sparkle of a dew drop.

Like any habit, gratitude is a path a practice and a choice in every moment. Do you seek to cultivate gratitude no matter what? This doesn’t mean ignoring feelings of sadness, fear or disappointment. It’s not pretending to yourself and others that life’s always roses. We are human after all, and therefore we live a range of emotions. We need to acknowledge them, feel them and then let them move on. Can we create gratitude even for the more uncomfortable feelings? For the punch of anxiety that we feel in our stomach, sending us a message if we dare to listen?

Cultivating gratitude is about the small things.

The feel of a warm jumper on your skin when the cold Spring wind blows. The soft fur of your dog’s ears when you kiss their head. The feeling of a hot cup of tea in your hands when you’ve just been working in the garden. The smell of fresh herbs as you cut through them with your knife. That sweet moment you have to yourself, zero interruptions.

And the big things. The gratitude that you blinked your eyes in the last few seconds because you have these amazing eyes that can read and see. A warm bed to sleep in. Access to this fresh, clean water pouring out of the tap into your hands, or over your body.

Gratitude is like a muscle…

People who are generally grateful and see the world through rose-tinted glasses aren’t lucky. Just like someone with a strong, fit body isn’t lucky. Both of those took dedication, commitment and the vision for something that they chose to cultivate.

Gratitude isn’t a luxury, it’s simply a life-enhancing habit that you can begin right this moment. What can you be grateful for right now?

And now?

Notice what it feels like in your body, memorise this feeling, and then practice it. Every day. Moment to moment.

See what comes from it…

xxx

Good-bye sweet Olive…

Olive, when you and Snowy unexpectedly came into our life five years ago at 2 weeks old, we were not prepared for the love and joy you would bring us. You guys were so small and cute, and when you drank your goats’ milk in the evening it was one of the most adorable sights I’ve ever seen.

You two have lived such an amazing life really. Inside at night, kicked out under the couch with pellets and then into the backyard during the day to live a little like wild bunnies – grazing, digging tunnels and making nests in the long grass.

When you were six months old another creature joined us, Millie the fluffy border collie pup, to annoy you and attempt to herd you even though you were all the same size. Now she’s grown up and thinks she’s part bunny. Then another year or so later a brindle rescue, Tino, joined the clan.

But most of all, what always got me, literally every day, was the love between you and Snowy. I have never seen a bond like that between animals and it filled my heart up with so much love every time I witnessed it in its different forms. Grazing on the lawn, bum to bum, black on white. In your sand pit asleep, spooning each other. Under the couch or the table, your little legs kicked out behind you, top to tail. Our own little yin yang display every day. Sidling up to one another, and usually you getting busy licking Snowy’s head or ears. She always hopped up to you and jammed her little head under yours so that you would groom her. Then after a while you’d stop and she’d give you a good licking back. My heart melted with the deepest of joys in those many moments no matter how I had been feeling.

I saw first-hand just how much all creatures need companionship. And in the crazy emotions of being human, I occasionally thought, how can these two ever live without each other? There were moments I dreaded you ever being parted. When we learned that bunnies can die of a broken heart, we decided we needed an ‘insurance’ bunny in case that day ever came. The first rescue didn’t work out because I didn’t have the energy to do the time-consuming process of bonding, and since little Speckle was another female it made it trickier. She found heaven on earth though at my parents’ farm…queen of the garden and fields, free ranging with treats off the deck in the evening.

Then two years ago another rescue came into our life by chance, big Bugs, a real Peter Rabbit. He was going to be temporary while we found him a home, but his lovable temperament won us over quickly, plus it seemed that the three of you would get on okay. Except for the constant humping and him spraying wee on you girls in the early days – Snowy stinky with orange drops all over her by the evenings! Once he was neutered though, and the hormones subsided we were able to have all three of you in the run together outside and so an ‘insurance’ bun was born.

You were one of the sweetest creatures I’ve ever had the privilege of being guardian of. I’ll never forget the first time you came up to my face when I was lying on the carpet and began licking my cheeks. Then you did it to Harlan’s forehead a few days later, and next it extended to Millie and Tino. Millie’s long hair was a bit of a challenge for you, but no problem, you used your teeth to comb her. Tino’s short spikey hair was easy, and even though Millie was always unsure of the process, Tino quite enjoyed it. Every time you would come up to me and start licking my leg, or arm or face, my heart literally flooded over with so much love. And as the years have gone one, you’ve become more and more affectionate.

Olive at about two months.

I didn’t dream the day for an ‘insurance’ bun would come so soon and so suddenly. On Saturday morning I was videoing you busily munching the fallen apple leaves, before I left for sleepover with a friend, and on Sunday morning you left this world as we know it. I wasn’t here, but you were in good hands and I am so glad that it was very quick. Maybe your big, sweet loving heart just had loved enough and it was time for the next realm for you?

And now as I sit here writing this, my heart is sore but so full with all the love and joy and enrichment you brought us. I’m looking out the window to little Snowy, with Bugs, but with no yang to her yin, and the tears are flowing down my cheeks. Of course I’m anthropomorphising, imagining what the loss might be like for her, but she’s okay, and she’s got us all and of course big Bugs, and I know you are around us in spirit.

This morning as I pulled of my eye mask after meditating, having been with you in visions, I looked up into the lounge and saw Snowy busily grooming Bugs’ ears. Then he lifted his head and gave her a few licks on her forehead, and I let the tears flow. I know she’ll be okay, and I know you are more than okay, but I miss you sweet girl, and I take in my heart all the beautiful lessons of love, pure joy and living in the moment that you taught me over and over and over again.

Thank you for your soft sweetness.