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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

To share…

…or not to share…

Watching the changing light

the mist slowly takes flight,
my morning’s gratitude.
My energy may be low
still I choose to enjoy the flow,
of nature all around me.
This beauty feeds my soul.

Today I want to play with friends
yet my body won’t pretend,
that she requires slow.
How long for?
I do not know.

So I tango with this unknown,
waltz with surrender,
long dance with letting go,
each day a little closer
to ‘at peace with what is’.

And then I physically dance
my body welcomes the movement,
the music, as I move
in this amphitheatre of nature.

My soul drinks in the nourishment.
and the magic of gratefulness.

The elixir that sustains my days.

       

Sharing

I lay in bed, with the French doors open, watching dawn recede, pulling the strands of mist as she disappeared into the growing light. My first noted gratitude for the day. I began watching my breath, breathing in the beauty and the gratefulness. And then I thought this might be a good place to re-enter the sharing of parts of my journey.

For weeks I have wanted to share, but not known how, or where to start. Do I write about the monotony of the rice gruel I eat at every meal, and how when I make vegetables for Harlan I crave the green and the variation, but if I indulge my body is not happy? Do I write about the joy of this rice gruel, because the alternative was fasting for days on end, my body light and swaying without food? How do I balance the reality of the dark cavernous struggle that some moments are, with the silver linings that I seek throughout the days? How do I share the truth of the darkness, while sharing the brilliant light that filters through the cracks? It takes energy to put that into words. Energy I don’t have right now, and so I don’t share.

The lows and the highs

But I also believe that it’s important to share the lows, just as much as it is the highs. I don’t want a picture that isn’t true. That is all light. We live in a universe where there is light and there is dark, and one cannot exist without the other. There is always a shadow, and until we fully embrace it we will be forever running from our wholeness.

How do I describe the lows without gloom, which is how they sometimes feel? Perhaps an essence of that feels acceptable, encapsulated in the larger whole of lessons sifting through, some sticking, some going back to the ocean of life for another time. I don’t see the point of a challenging journey if I’m not regularly seeking the light in the dark. For me that is essential, but to portray it in words evades my intellectual self at this time.

Embodying

That seeking is often a mind journey, exhausting in itself. Then in those rare, yet growing, moments of surrender to the seeking, my whole being finds peace. To just be, instead of thinking about being. Instead of analysing what I’m learning and how the challenge is shaping me. Rather I choose to feel it and know it in my bones, in every cell of my body. And that is why I dance. To remember that I am in this body that has wisdom so much deeper than my mind can ever find. To embody a knowing my thinking alone can never bring me. To integrate into wholeness in a way that my soul has been yearning forever.

And in all of this, the space of gratitude.

Grateful for so much goodness in my life.

In awe of so many magic moments all around me.

Thank you India, and Everything Else

Thank you India

India you light me up from the inside
My soul radiates just thinking about you
To touch your dust with my own two hands
changed me
Being on your land left me
with an explosion of colour inside
vibrant, full and yet so complex.

All these years of journeying
that lead me to this one moment
in my life, intrinsically entwined with you
a red thread connecting me to your land
who would have known it would be this way?
Maybe you in your ancient wisdom.

To stand on the soil of a country so steeped in spirituality
Deeply, anciently, I can feel it in your breathing
This juxtaposition of so much love
ingrained in the earth and in the temples
People with nothing smiling, kind, so open
and then the fighting, in the name of religious ideas
merciless killing and the blood mixing with your red earth

I am forever changed because of you
Because of your people
and everything that you are
I will always feel the pull of that red thread
calling me back, gently yet fiercely
And one day I will heed it and
stand on your soil again.

Thank you for what you are
and for what you are not
and everything in between.
I am blessed to have followed
my journey to you and found
what I was looking for
and more.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you India.

And thank you for my courageous spirit to pursue my vision of a vibrantly healthy body. Thank you to all those who walk with me – both near and far – sharing their strengthening love and support. Some days the gratitude pulses so strongly through my veins it’s like adrenaline – firing through every cell – leaving me in awe of where I am. Of how blessed I am.

This body of mine. So patient and so strong – now so free from pain and able again.

Until pain prevents you from something so ‘small’ as sitting normally, you don’t realise what a luxury it is. Thank you that I can now sit at the dining room table. Sit at my desk, sit and drive a car, sit on a my surfboard out the back. Thank you for the renewed energy in my body to be able to move and explore again. I will never take that for granted.

Thank you for the growth and perspective shifts over these years, and for the vision to do things differently now. That I can live in a way that doesn’t come at a huge cost to my mind and body. Thank you for the moments and thank you for the love! Thank you, and thank you again!

For so long I thought I had to do it alone.

I thought I had to fix my fistula without anyone’s help. But it’s not true. I walked the journey I needed to walk. Somehow I made it, even though there were days when I thought I would give up forever and call it a day. I didn’t think I could go on. I didn’t think that I could do one more day of that robbing pain that consumed me like fire. And yet a part of me never gave up.

There was a part of me quietly cheering the down-hearted part on – sending soothing words – encouraging phrases that I often could not hear. But another part of me heard. And even though it all felt too much to keep going, I did. That stubborn, determined streak in me refused to have its light snuffed out. And so here I am. Days and days and days in a row without being hindered by a knifing, all-encompassing pain in my bum, and body exhausted from constantly fighting infection. Combatting the emotional drain of the struggle.

It’s so draining. Sometimes its easy to forget how draining pain is. How it spends so much of your body’s energy normally used for day to day functioning. And sometimes I forget how much energy it takes to remain emotionally stable, when for the 200th week in a row I would wake up to cope with fluctuating pain all day…again.

But now a different way. A more gentle compassionate way, with respect and honour for the journey and myself. Thank you for healing. Thank you India. Thank you for perspective, insights and tapping into wisdom.

And thank you for all the earth angels who walk alongside us.

 

The Fear Surrounding a Surgeon Appointment

I was due for my surgeon appointment for the first time in 18 months this last week. I wanted to discuss some alternative options that I’ve been exploring for healing my fistula, and of course I was nervous. Surgeons like performing surgery, and so asking them about anything that a) isn’t orthodox and b) isn’t about surgery, makes me feel nervous.

The last time I saw Dr B I was in a weak place, both physically and emotionally. My appointment was not what I had hoped and I left feeling like I had not been heard. I was disappointed in myself for not speaking my truth and in him, for not magically saying what I needed him to say.

This time I wanted my experience to be different. So, I booked an extra appointment with Debra, my counsellor, and just under a week before I was scheduled to see him we had a session – particularly on this topic.

It was fantastic and the best thing I could have gifted myself.

Tapping – EFT

We tapped around my fears. We tapped around past disappointments. We tapped in the positive of what I wanted from the session. We also tapped around clarity and disappointment. And speaking my truth.

When I had first voiced my fears of the appointment to Harlan, he gave me a beautiful answer:

Dr B is an expert in his field, you are in expert in your body. So, just like you can’t tell him how to perform surgery, he can’t tell you how you feel and exactly what your body wants.

Hmmm. I liked it, so we tapped on this as well.  A lot of tapping 😉

I got clear, made some notes and decided I would tell him about the natural treatments I’ve been pursuing and not feel scared about sharing my research on the kshara sutra and Ayurveda with him. This is something new for me. I automatically tend to believe that Western specialists will poo-poo these things and don’t even give them the opportunity to prove me wrong.

My Surgeon Appointment

Wednesday morning rocked around, my bum was feeling better than it’s felt in a long time with taking my Ayurvedic herbs, and Harlan and I were off to the Greenlane Hostpital in Auckland. I thought I would feel nervous, but I didn’t really. There was a little niggle of jumpiness in my tum, and so…you guessed… I tapped some more 😉 We sat in the waiting room and I focused on the smiling people, the positive people, not all the sadness that you can often focus on in hospitals. When Dr B came out to get us, I didn’t feel scared.

We began the appointment with some light-hearted banter and then delved into the details. I didn’t feel like I was inferior to him. I didn’t feel like I needed to please him. I just discussed, openly, what I had been thinking. The appointment went well. He gave me his time, he called me an optimist and he laughed about compromising with me on dates because I wanted to give our final decision more time.

I left feeling proud of myself for my clarity and deeply grateful for all the amazing support I have around me while making these big decisions.

I also realised just how much changing our own attitude before these ‘scary’ appointments changes the attitudes we get in return.

Am I doing enough?

On doing enough…

Am I doing enough? I find myself questioning as I sit with my back against the wall in our bedroom, tears flowing down my cheeks, gently tapping on my EFT points. The flowering kanuka out of the window droops and sways in the misty drizzle, no sun to pick me up. This spiral of questioning, which hasn’t plagued me for a while, has been twisting and turning around in my grey matter since I woke up…in pain and frustrated. Tired. Tired of a physically uncomfortable body.

“I’m doing so much to help myself on an emotional, physical, everything level, and yet I’m still struggling.” I feel like shouting.

“So obviously I’m not doing enough.” What it always comes down to when I’m in one of these moods. “I could do more. All this effort is not enough. What else can I do?”

you-are-enough-maya-angelou

“I don’t know Maya, why I am a still in this position if I’m enough?” my irrational argumentative side wants to say. “I’m always trying to prove to myself that I’m enough…doing enough…growing enough.” But deep down inside I grudgingly admit that I suppose I am enough, in this moment, whether I’m in pain or not. Because I am a wondrous being of light, just like everyone else. And I know to seek out a sparkle and some gratitude right here, not to wait for a future time without pain…

And even though I feel so consumed by my struggle and frustration in this moment, I look around the room to find something I am grateful for. I remind myself that this is my current reality right now, and that’s OK, but that it isn’t a forever reality. I don’t always feel like this. I look at Millie, on the ground next to me, paws over her head in a joy attack, and even though I am still quietly sobbing I feel a glimmer of gratitude for the joy she brings me and the constant companionship.

I feel like in these moments I put my hand into my tool box and pull something out that gives me hope. Sometimes it takes me longer to reach into that box, other times I do it almost immediately. But my toolbox sits, patiently, waiting for me to remember the little jewels that tinkle inside it. Today it’s tapping and remembering the wise words of people like Maya Angelou that we are enough…that this moment is enough, because it’s the only one that we have.

This toolbox would be lovely in a physical form. To write all the tools I’ve collected onto cards and have them in a beautiful container that I can refer to when I need a pick-me-up, and when I need to remind myself that I am enough and that I’m doing enough, even though in the dark moments it doesn’t always feel that way!