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Sense of Belonging – an inside job

Belonging

Just recently I had the wonderful opportunity of holding a self-love circle space at my dear friend’s yoga day. Earlier we had talked about theme, thinking of chakras, and when she was keen to explore the root chakra and belonging I was in!

I’ve recently been on another Brené Brown binge, and so a sense of belonging felt very appropriate! For those of you who don’t know, Brené is a research professor at the University of Houston who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. One of her big inspirers has been Maya Angelou, and Brené often refers to one of Maya’s quotes that had a huge effect on her:

You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…

One of her most painful aspects growing up was not feeling like she belonged, and so it took years of her journey and research to come to an understanding for herself of these words. She makes a distinction between the concept of fitting in versus a sense of belonging, which really struck a cord with me:

We confuse belonging with fitting in, but the truth is that belonging is just in our heart, and when we belong to ourselves and believe in ourselves above all else, we belong everywhere and nowhere.

Sometimes this can feel contradictory.

We’re hard wired to fit in, it’s in our genes. Back in tribal days we needed to be a part of our group. It wasn’t safe to wonder around a loner. And when a child is born into a family it has to fit in and be accepted, otherwise its survival is at stake.

So, no wonder we believe fitting in is belonging. Even one of the dictionaries defines it like this: Belonging is a sense of fitting in or feeling like you are an important member of a group.

This is in direct contrast with Brené’s definition in her book, Braving the Wilderness:

True belonging is not passive.
It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group.
It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer.
It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.

I see this as self love.

If we desire to feel a true sense of belonging, we require a certain level of self worth, self love, self acceptance. We need to mostly enjoy the person we are, to be our own best friend and cheerleader, even when we least feel like it.

This distinction between fitting in and having a sense of belonging doesn’t mean that being part of a group or movement, or particular family cluster is not going to feed your soul. I see it to mean that the more we love and enjoy ourselves and shine our unique light, without shifting and changing to fit in with those around us, the more joy and realness we can receive from any group we’re part of.

Inner critic and inner wisdom.

The voice that tells us we need to fit in, at all costs, is our inner critic, born at a time when we really needed them to protect us. The voice that encourages us to be present with people without changing who we are and being vulnerable, that’s our inner wisdom. Our inner knowing, that as an adult being who you are, is the most freeing experience.

One of the really powerful tools on my self love journey has been the ones that help me to become more aware of these two voices, and quicker at distinguishing between the two. When I listen to and acknowledge my inner critic, then I create space to hear and listen to my inner wisdom.

If we make it an inside job, then a sense of belonging can always be with us…

…whether we’re alone at the beach or in a room full of strangers. When we’re completely comfortable in our own skin, willing to show up authentically and are happy with who we are, then we’re going to be so much more present to the moment, and to all those in our life. More open to receiving the love all around us.

My 2019 Vision Board

Resistence

Today I kept resisting putting the final touches on my vision board for 2019. Maybe a combination of my perfectionist creeping in and the fact that I’m a bit sore to sit? I could feel myself distracting with everything else, and eventually at around 11am I pulled out my watercolours, put some gardenias on the table, lit a candle and realised I could actually stand and paint if I really wanted to.

This vision has been brewing since my reflection ritual at the end of last year, where I mined for wisdom gained, and what I wanted to leave behind and bring with me in 2018. The rest of the vision has been percolating as I go about my days, and taking on more form as I dip into past visioning rituals from Christine Arylo and Aglaee Jacobs. One of the things I’ve been doing for the last few years is coming up with a word/s to guide me in the year ahead. I’ve been feeling into what it is that I would love to have as my guiding star in 2019. After much playing with words and visions in my head I came up with Embodied Freedom.

embody – be an expression of or give a tangible or visible form to (an idea, quality, or feeling)

freedom – the state of being free (not confined, obstructed, or fixed)

Embodied Freedom

When I think of these two words I think of wings, flying, floating in the ocean with only the sky above me and the water holding me, in a place where anything is possible. I think of child-like laughter, a vibrantly healthy body and dancing freely for the sheer joy of it.

Other elements on the board are where I’m desiring to focus my energy: what is going to guide me in the decisions and choices I make. For example, making time for nurturing my relationship with Harlan is a priority, so when a decision comes up I make sure that this is in the forefront when I choose which direction to go it.

Also my heart and soul visions for 2019 – what dreams are ready for seeding, sprouting or harvesting this year? My self-love promise – to prioritise joy and fun for the sake of fun! And importantly, what I need to nourish me on all levels (emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally) to be the best version of myself (butterfly wings).

My Compass

This board, combined with a healthy does of surrender, flexibility and humour, is what will inspire me through 2019. I feel empowered to take the reigns of my life, with a beautiful compass to guide me, and the understanding that ‘life’ happens. It’s how I choose to interact with those happenings that decides how I experience them.

What’s inspiring your vision for 2019? What do you do to remind yourself of your visions ahead?

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.

Loving Surrender: A go-to for 2017

My words for 2017 were Loving Surrender

In January this year I completed Christine Arylo’s four-step ‘Visioning your Year’ process. In the first step, Expand, one of the questions is: What do I most need to receive this year? At the time I decided I wanted to use my angel oracle cards to guide me. I got quiet and drew Release and Surrender – time to emotionally let go, release and surrender + trust. Little did I know quite how much I would need this.

Heart Art that was tacked to the wall next to my bed for 2017 as a daily reminder.

The three phrases underneath are from another of Christine’s offerings, her Reflection Ritual at the end of each year. The question for these was: Choose three words that describe how you want to feel as you step into 2017. These also guided my year.

Vibrant Health
Vessel of Love and Compassion
Inspired Action

Reflecting

Now, as I sit here, about to step into 2018, I’m reflecting on just how appropriate Loving Surrender was for 2017. I feel like a dived into surrender and trust from week one, flying over to Australia to see a surgeon about hopefully fixing my fistula. It didn’t work out. Then take two (and three) in April, and I returned home worse off than when I had left.

All of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual struggles around these experiences required me to let go…let go…let go…and trust. It wasn’t easy. So far from it. As you know, from previous posts, there were times I didn’t know how I would make it through to the end of the day. But I believe under it all was this deep sense of trust. Trust in myself and my own wisdom, and also trust in the Divine, the Universe, something bigger than me. The magnificent presence I feel when diving into the ocean or lying under a tree looking up at the clouds.

I had amazingly incredible support and kindness around me, but being a stubborn independent woman this meant another area to practice loving surrender. Surrendering to the love, kindness and care of others, and trying my best to accept it wholeheartedly. Without feeling like I was an inconvenience or a burden. Trying my best not to always push it away and say that I was ‘fine’.

Then there was the decision to go to India. That was very much surrender…let go…trust. I did, and again I had an amazing team with me in person and from afar (here I just have to single out Harlan for his unbelievably incredible support, strength and courage). Was it easy? No. Did I want to turn back some days and give up? Hell yes! Yet again though, there was that deep underlying trust and the knowing that it was the year for loving surrender.

I had no idea when I chose loving surrender

At the beginning of the year I had no idea that I would be here, in our caravan, sitting comfortably on my bum typing this post. All I knew was that vibrant health was something I wanted to feel in 2017 and so I used inspired action and a whole lot of loving surrender to pursue it. I was tired of the daily challenge and struggle of a fistula and I was going to do whatever it took to explore various options.

So here I am. With a story about how deciding what you need for the year ahead is powerful. Having a word or words to guide you is important. I didn’t set a goal like, I will heal my bum this year. Instead I pursued a feeling…that of vibrant health…which meant I experienced this in chunks through the year, even before my bum was healed. And daily I reminded myself to surrender. I would lie down with my arms out and say I surrender, I release…I surrender, I release…I surrender, I release, feeling that letting go and trust sink in.

I am currently in the process of feeling into what my guiding words for 2018 are.

If you choose to do any of the above processes, I know you’ll love them. Please share your insights or word for the year with me! I’d love to celebrate it with you.

So much love xxx

Self-Love is a Path, a Practice and a Choice

Self-love is so many things

When I first came across it, self love had seemed a bit abstract to me. I saw it as something related to my body and about speaking kindly and gently to it, instead of always criticising, downplaying it and being mean. I didn’t realise that self-love is so much more!

Just over a year ago I began a journey training with the Path of Self Love based in California. I didn’t know that was what I was going to do, but when I read the invitation my Inner Wisdom stepped in. She was so clear that my inner mean girls had no choice but to step aside with all their fears and reasons why I shouldn’t. And so, I found myself in a group of 33 brave, beautiful women. Some did one module, and others of us walked the year together with our amazing teacher and mentors. Now here we are, completed and certified to use these simple, yet powerful tools that have been used with women around the world for over a decade.

Certificates for the three modules completed during the year: ‘Transforming self-sabotage + self-bullying into self-love’, ‘Self-love foundations’, and ‘Self-love and relationships’

It turns out self love doesn’t have to be abstract. There are tools you can use to cultivate a deeper self-love, a deeper self worth, that radiates out into every tiny corner of your life. To experience it is joyful. I want to sing it from the rooftops, and tell the world what a difference simple, daily, self loving practices can make.

Self-love is about how you choose to speak to yourself in every waking moment.

It is about growing self awareness and then being honest with yourself. It’s about cultivating self-compassion and forgiveness: saying “Kali, I forgive you, you were doing the best you could in that moment.” It’s about choosing to listen to your Inner Wisdom and releasing the stories you’ve picked up along the way that no longer serve you. Those stories that are sometimes deep inside you that you may not see, yet they’re gospel. And so many of your decisions are based off them. To grow your self awareness you have to check in with your heart, your body and feel what emotions and physical sensations are there. It’s a reconnecting with all of yourself.

Self love is also about self acceptance.

Not just of your body, but also of your personality and way of being, even the bits you don’t necessarily like. It’s also about accepting things you might have done, that still hold shame or guilt or remorse, and then forgiving yourself. Forgive. It’s about loving yourself as you are right now in this very moment – perfectly imperfect – knowing that right now you’re the best version of yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and every day you get to choose to do things differently. Every moment in fact.

Self-love is waking up every morning and choosing you.

Choosing to back yourself and ask yourself what you need in that day, and then giving it to yourself. What do you need emotionally, physically, spiritually and relationally? These don’t have to be big things. Something like a few words of encouragement or five minutes of quiet space might be what you need. This is self care. It’s about becoming your own best friend. It’s about diving deep to find your true heart and soul desires, and then gifting yourself and those around you, by following them. By not selling out to the ‘shoulds’ and societal norms.

Self-love is choosing self pleasure – the things that bring you deep joy and laughter – because when you do those things you fill your cup to bursting and radiate love to more people than you know.

It is in every decision you make to stay in tune with yourself – in mind, body and spirit.

Self-love is a feeling, that as it grows your life becomes richer, gentler and more nourishing. And every day you are privileged to wake up with your best friend, even though physically you may be sleeping alone. It’s the comfort that you’re not alone. It’s a knowing that there are different places to source love, not just from yourself and a handful of others. You can source love from something greater than you, Mother Earth, people you can trust and who see you for what you are, the ocean, animals, children, nature and so much more.

Self-love is releasing self judgement, with a healthy dose of self honesty. It’s about first and foremost learning to trust. Not the voices of the world around you or your inner critics, but the deep voice inside you that’s always been there and always will be. The one you haven’t always thought to listen to but that always has your back no matter what. It’s about trusting that voice, that knowing deep inside and then cultivating the courage to follow it even if others are telling you different stories. This is self-empowerment, taking the reins of your life.

Self love is also about respecting yourself enough to only have loving, respectful relationships in your life, including the one with yourself. It’s about knowing your true worth, so that when others send you love and shine your worth back to you, you’re able to fully receive it. It’s about creating clear, loving boundaries that you honour no matter what.

Love directed at self is not selfish.

Far from it. More love, wherever it’s directed = more love in this world. And that is always a good thing!

It’s not something for people on the fringe. Self-love is not for a select few. It’s for every woman, man and child. It’s not something you choose to do and then perfect, there is no destination. You don’t suddenly wake up one day and 100% love yourself forever.

Self-love is not always easy. But knowing your true worth, what makes you uniquely you, is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your relationships, your community and the world. It’s a path, a daily practice, and it’s a choice you make every morning and in every moment of the day.

You, brave, courageous soul, are over-flowing with love. As Rumi says:

If today you can start by saying a kind, loving phrase to yourself, you are practicing self love. It doesn’t matter where you start, it only matters that you start. See where it takes you…

So much love xxx

PS: If you want to talk to me more about some simple, yet powerful tools that you can use in your own life to cultivate a deeper sense of self love and worth, please get in touch anytime.

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.

 

Honour my Body: A Work in Progress

Last week I made a decision I wouldn’t have been able to make 6 months or a year ago. I chose to honour my body over everything else. This meant I cancelled a Bee Sensual workshop I had spent time creating and planning. I had even emailed people on my list about it, but suddenly I knew I had to stop and listen to my body.

My inner conversation around the topic went something like this…

Side 1: I have to put myself out there more. I have to grow my following. I have to promote Bee Sensual products and the work I do in the world. If I don’t do it now, I’m just procrastinating and being non-committal and I’ve got to pull myself together.

Side 2: But I’m just so exhausted, physically mentally and emotionally. I’m tired. Can’t I just hide from the world and sleep for months? I just really want to go slowly right now. This is the first Spring in 5 years where my body hasn’t been in pain and so I just want to go gently and enjoy. Can’t I do that instead?

Side 1: I think that’s just being lazy and copping out. What gives you the right to just swan around? Anyway, there are so many creative ideas that need pursuing!

Side 2: But I’m not swanning around, I’m doing things. They’re just other things, like healing, like resting my body, doing what needs to be done to keep businesses going, animals fed, exercised and looked after and I’m prioritising my emotional health. Remember that affects my physical health too! This is the first time I’m really doing this, give me a break!

Nature is one thing that helps me quiet the mental chatter and feel into what my body and Inner Wisdom are actually communicating to me. What helps you?

You get the idea.

I know, it might all sound a little crazy, but surely you’ve had a mental conversation that sounds a little similar? It took me a while to figure out which voice was my Inner Mean Girl and which one was my Inner Wisdom, or whether there was an in-between. The thing is, in the past I have sometimes procrastinated and been non-committal, so it made it trickier to figure it out.

Then I spoke to a friend, and as I spoke it out loud I could feel in my body just how truly tired I am. Just how exhausted I’m feeling, as if this year is finally catching up with me. It’s been a big one! Sometimes it’s easy for me to discount just how much has happened this year: three overseas trips, four surgeries, countless hours and days of emotional ups and downs, and lots of energy towards physical healing. Among other things, it has been traumatic, let’s face it. So maybe, just maybe, my body wants time to process and catch up.

When you listen to your body, she always tells you the truth!

I set a New Moon intention on the 19th of November, to honour my body as sacred and do whatever it is that she wants in terms of movement – walking, swimming, dancing, yoga, swaying or lying down and resting. A few days later this Bee Sensual realisation occurred, and saying no to actually going ahead with it was part of honouring this intention.

Honour my body.
I am sacred.
My body is sacred.

As Harlan often says to me, just because you’re excited to get back up and into the world with all your creative ideas, you won’t be out in the world too long if you burn yourself out again in the process. Great point. Such wise words, but my creative brain struggles with that one. She wants to be busy all the time.

So here I am, listening to my Inner Wisdom. Learning to pause or slow down when I need to. Listening to my wise body and hearing what she needs at this time to feel fully honoured and respected for all she does and has been through. I choose to honour my body, my closest companion and friend for life…I choose to listen to her every day to the best of my ability. That is my commitment to me.

How can you honour your body more in this moment? Today? This week?

Fear on a Healing Journey

fear is like a snarling beast
beating at my door
let me in, it growls
goosebumps pop out
up my spine
stomach clenched
in a tight ball
no breath

But actually there is no beast. And I can move away from fear when I drop into awareness long enough of this moment. Right here and now. Awareness of my body, and of the deep breath I take low into my belly. Fear struggles to take root where there is slow breathing. That’s just how we’re wired. Deep, slow breathing usually means safety.

Healing journeys don’t always feel safe. Sometimes they’re the most frightening roller coaster ride you’ll ever take. Up and down, round and round, waiting to be spat out at the end. What condition will I be in then? Will I have all my limbs? Will there be parts of me missing? Stop with the future-tripping, come back to now.

no, you can’t come in
yes, I know you’re there
your stale breath is in the air
I know I used to let you rampage
around my home
me cowered in the corner
in the dark
afraid
feeling powerless
to do anything

It’s not like that anymore. That neural pathway I let you rule is growing over, like a well-worn path to a deserted rubbish dump. It’s not in use anymore. That’s no longer my game. I’ve chosen a new pathway. Yes of course I know you’re not leaving for good. And yes, I know you will visit. But no, I will never give you back the reins to my life.

You will never get to call the shots again.

Authentic Partnership: ten years and counting

What started out as romance 10 years ago has turned into an ever-evolving journey of authentic partnership.

Harlan and his travelling companion Paro!

It was Labour weekend 2007 that Harlan made the bold move to come over to the Sunshine Coast, Australia, to visit me. We’d met two weeks before I was booked to fly to Brisbane and go and work my way up the East Coast for an indefinite amount of time. We’d clicked, but my Inner Mean Girl was worried that he might be wasting his time flying over two months after I’d left when we didn’t really know each other.

We kept in touch via letters as I spent time working in backpackers in Noosa and Rainbow Beach, and the closer we got to Labour weekend the more excited I was! Harlan hired a Wicked Campervan from Brisbane and I met him in Noosa to share three days together. There was lots of swimming, exploring, talking, lounging and passion. A day or two in I asked him if he wanted to come to Australia and go travelling with me. He thought about it over a shower and decided “Yes!”.

Taking off in our newly acquired camper-van (Maxine)

He flew home and gave notice on his job, and a few weeks later I flew back to NZ to find a job and start saving for our trip. In May 2008 we arrived in Brisbane together to begin our three-year long working adventure in Australia.

In these ten years there’s been so much adventuring, learning, loving, laughing, planning, deepening, and fun! There’s also been disagreements, fights, emotional stretching, some days where we both want to walk away in different directions, frustration, and a lot of extra tricky navigation because of my healing journey.

But through that all, we’ve kept communicating.

We’ve maintained communication, even if sometimes it’s one pushing for it and the other pulling back. Even if it takes a few days to open up. There’s been raw, open honesty, and the strong desire for connection. When it’s been deeply, frighteningly tough, we’ve come back to that base of communication and also injecting a little humour and lightness, even if it takes tears, space and frustration in between.

You see two years after we met we attended a couples’ workshop (with Harville Hendrix) in Melbourne to provide us with some specific communication tools. We also read Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, and then last year went to another couple’s workshop in New Zealand called Emotionally Focussed Therapy. We didn’t go as a last resort. We didn’t go seeking these tools because our relationship was broken and needed fixing. With my mum being a psychologist and all, I learned that: communication tools are important before you hit emergency mode at the bottom of the cliff (in any relationship).

The thing is, we weren’t given the handbook for how to navigate authentic partnership with another whom we share our life with.

We weren’t handed out the tools when we left school and told “here you go – use these to navigate your relationship and they’ll really help you through the times when everything isn’t ‘easy’ and in the ‘flow’. So these decisions were made because we knew we needed this and also sometimes needed a mediator to help us through trickier topics.

For my own journey I’ve gifted myself with regular counselling in the last couple of years. By default, of course, it has filtered out into my partnership with Harlan. The more I have developed my self-awareness and self-honesty, the more I am able to own my stuff, and the more I can show up in this relationship without a whole bunch of unnecessary heavy baggage and make Harlan pay for crimes he didn’t commit.

During this journey I have also realised that I need to be able to give myself what I need instead of expecting those things from Harlan. Sometimes when I’ve been lonely and desperate for company it’s been because there is a hole of emptiness inside of me that I need to fill. But until I realised that, I was liable of lashing out and demanding more time with him and pushing him away. Or if I’ve been looking for acknowledgement, it’s because I haven’t yet acknowledged myself in the way that I desire. I can only fully and truly receive from Harlan what I already give to myself.

I’d love to say, that with these tools, learnings and insights it’s become easy and breezy – but I would be talking nonsense.

A lot of things have become easier though: when we find ourselves in our downward dance we are both able to identify it earlier and move ourselves back to connection; I am getting better at timing my ‘truth-telling’; Harlan finds open communication easier; we both own our parts more easily. And even though in that sweet romantic honey-moon phase in the early days there was less of the challenging and more of the fun, ten years into the journey our connection is so much deeper, fuller and richer.

I think a lot of us would like to think that love is the main ingredient for a strong relationship. But I’m of the belief that authentic partnership requires more than just love – otherwise we could end up partnering with many different people throughout life, right? It requires respect, openness, trust, and truth – not just with each other but also with ourselves. I believe it also requires patience, compassion, gentleness, and the knowing that we can’t change another.

Through the many, many dark days that I experienced on my recent healing journey, Harlan has been my rock, my dearest friend and often the only one I could share my painful space with! He has known when to use lightness and humour, and when to say nothing and just hold my hand or give me a hug. He has made me 100s of teas and allowed his t-shirt to dampen with my tears of despair.

I am so deeply grateful for Harlan!

In this space we have learned together – me how to more often ask for what it was that I needed (rather than expecting him to intuit it), and him that he didn’t need to fix me or offer solutions; me to be aware of taking my pain out on him, and him not to take my outbursts as personally.

And then sometimes we both get it really wrong, because we’re human. We’re all only human. And we’re all doing the best we can in each moment. Remember that! You are doing the best you can in this moment!

Hitting pause to take stock of your relationships (past or present), provides insight into what it is that you’ve learned and gained on this journey together. This insight is a powerful thing, because it brings awareness to things you can celebrate and also aspects that may need more exploring.

Are you willing to take stock of your relationships and what insights they’ve allowed you? Go on, I dare you xx

 

Into the light

deep down inside me there’s a yearning
a stirring – something pulling me
I hear Mother Earth calling to me
out of the valley and up the hill
the light calls me higher to seek out
the last glimpses of Father Sun
as our part of the Earth turns slowly away
for renewal
for a time to start again
fresh
awakened in the morning dew drops

I watch the sky sing her praises
pinks, golden, blues, greys
honouring the light that every
single cell
in my body craves, needs
relies on
yours too

I am a sun-worshipper
in another life I must have been a lizard
chasing the sunspots
hibernating in winter

we desire the light to warm us
and illuminate the world
in the light I see things I never knew were there
they come into clarity and I feel a peace
fall over me like the morning mist
soft, gentle, refreshing

I am renewed
I am held