It’s A Privilege…

What does the word PRIVILEGE mean to you? Is it about rights? Is it about the life you were born into? It is a gift? Is it a pleasure?

I cannot say for you but for me, I have used this word this morning when someone asked what my work means to me. When someone invites me into their life with my work (and by invitation is the only way I do or can work), is when I use this word. It is a privilege that they will share with me their deepest darkest thoughts, worries, fears, their highs and their lows and the thoughts and words no one else in the universe has heard them voice sometimes. 

This invitation that they give is an invitation into their very soul and that my friends, is a privilege. I cannot think of any greater honour than for another human trusting me enough to share a part of their life.

When we are vulnerable, lost, in pain, sick or hurting, it takes a huge amount of courage to ask for someone to support, help, guide, lead and just be with us during this very difficult time. This time of development, grieving, learning and growth.

You may wonder why the elephant photo when this is about being there for someone else…. this elephant, without knowing it, moved me from the place where I stood to a place I needed to go. This elephant listened to my innermost thoughts, dreams, sadness and wishes for the future and gave me courage. This elephant showed me how to be brave, creative and how to understand someone else’s need for love, and then give it unconditionally. This beautiful beast was tender, quiet, still, patient, and touched a part of me I thought I had closed off – my heart.  This elephant laid her head on mine whilst I stood beneath her with my head against her chest and said “it’s okay to hear your own heart beating, listen to mine, it does the same. Whilst we are in different skins, we are the same and we need to give and receive love.”

I try to take this with me into my world every single day. I try to hold a stillness, a sense of quiet for someone else to step into and borrow until their own world is quiet. I try to give my heart openly and honestly to anyone who needs to hear and feel that it is okay to trust and love again. I use the creative inside me to allow another to connect in a way they can communicate. This is not about work, although that is how I use it there too, this is about being a human who is there for others. This is about living my life in a way that allows others to use my courage, my strength, my belief and my love whilst they search to find their own. This is about unconditional love for another human. No more, no less. It is being human.

So when we look and think of our lives versus others; when we compare and believe we are less or someone else is or has more; when we have someone open up to us and we turn away; think again. Your life, how you lead it, what you say and what you do can impact on another human being, even if you are not aware of it. This, my friend, is a privilege. Don’t miss it. Don’t mistake it for being a burden to you. Don’t turn another away because you think you aren’t enough. You being in someone else’s life even for a moment in time, is a privilege that cannot and should not be overlooked.

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Here’s to Farewell

Do you like to say goodbye? Gosh I am rubbish at it and it takes me forever to say it, especially if it’s a permanent goodbye. It doesn’t matter if someone has been toxic or loving in my life, letting go is just the hardest thing for me to do.

But I also know that it is a most important thing we have to do in life sometimes, that is to let things and people go when the time comes. Sometimes you are ready and sometimes you are not but let them go (with love and kind thoughts) you must.

I fall in love with people so easily. I just love people. I love their highs and their lows, I love their good bits, quirky bits, happy and sad bits, funny and unusual bits. I just love people. I know when someone new comes into my life it is for a reason and we are going to have fun, learn, exchange thoughts, emotions, ideas and I absolutely love, love love the whole relationship. I am just rubbish when it ends. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t weep and mourn for months on end as I know that we each have a journey and that one has ended but I miss them and what we had.

So, how do we manage when someone leaves or we choose to leave them? For many of us, badly. And do you know, this is okay. Even if the relationship has been toxic or has ended abruptly or badly, at some point we had an affinity, a love and connection with that person, and to lose that leaves a gap.

It is about how you fill that gap and in my experience the first thing to fill it with is love. No, not just jumping into another relationship, business partnership, friendship, or finding someone to give your heart to, it is love for yourself. You have to remind yourself that you are the most important one at that moment and you have to show yourself care, and gentleness, give yourself time to grieve that relationship and show yourself some love. Don’t beat yourself for things that were said or not said. Don’t rake over things and play ‘what if’ over and over again in your head. Don’t stay sad. Be sad but don’t stay there. Allow the overwhelm to come, if that is what you feel. Allow the tears to flow if they begin. Allow your heart to break a little or a lot BUT repair it with love and kindness for yourself.

These relationships are not just the loves of your life. These relationships are business, friends, family, acquaintances. It matters not the type of relationship, the end result can be the same. In a business sense it is not that you fell in love as you did your wife, husband, partner but you did create a bond with that person or those people and you did share respect, get to know each other on some level and yes they have probably been a financial benefit, but you have to still grieve in a sense when they leave. You have to backfill, maybe begin again with a new strategy, create new relationships or widen your client base but you simply have to pick yourself up and start again. The minute you choose anger, disappointment or frustration to stay you have given yourself a huge hill to climb in moving on and getting back on track on so many levels.

When they walk away, especially if you don’t really understand why, it can be a real wrench and you find yourself in a bit of a turmoil wondering what you did, blaming yourself, or going back through conversations. When you decide that it is time for the journey with this person or these people to be ended it can be hard finding the right words or time – I can usually find a hundred reasons to stay. The only time I can walk away easily and never look back is if someone crosses my values – if they lie, if they cheat or if they are dishonest in any way, I have no qualms about turning and walking away. I do not give second chances in these situations. I am curious as to what would make you walk with ease.

I love people. People inspire me, shape me, grow me. I love listening to them. I love being part of their time here. I love being trusted to support, listen, guide, walk alongside. What they get from being in touch with me I cannot say – that is for them to know. I hope it is positive (but being realistic I am sure that is not always the case) and I hope they feel a better person for spending time with me. All I can do is make sure I give all I have and everything I do is with openness and honesty and love. What they take away from this is up to them. I cannot control that bit.

Farewell, goodbye, au revoir, auf weidersehen, namaste – it doesn’t matter what word you use as it has a finality, an ending, a closure and must be accepted. It must be given or accepted with dignity, love, kindness and for the very best of reasons – whatever that is depends on the situation and the relationship you have. On a whim or in anger is not goodbye – it is a reason to drag it out and create pain and no space for closure for anyone.

I have said goodbye many times in my life and some took longer than others – some a few minutes and some 30 years but I found that in saying goodbye I also felt a sense of peace. A sense of personal power, courage, strength, closure and managed to take a step forward into something new. That has got to be good hasn’t it?

If today you are saying goodbye, whether to friendship, business, a loved one, or a part of you that no longer serves you, try and do it with care and love and gentleness to yourself and to them. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. Life continues but sometimes differently to the plan you had in mind.

 

 

 

 

What Makes Me, Me

I have asked myself to look inside and see what is there. I don’t mean the physical sh*t; heart, lungs, liver, bones and so on, I mean what is inside that makes me who I am. Indeed – who am I?

Don’t you just love it when you get a profound question running through your head on a Friday morning!

Who am I? Wow that is a biggie.

I know who I have been so that is a start, right? I know I have been a dancer. I know I have been a lover. I know I have been a wife, a mum and a daughter, sister and aunt. I know I have been a failure. I know I have been a success. I know I have been a trier and I know I have been courageous. I know I was a giggler. I know I was a soft touch. I remember being brave and I remember being weak. I vaguely remember being a teenager, all full of dreams and angst and sadness as well as romance and learning and joy. I know I have loved and have been loved. I know there have been days when I wanted to end it all but then I have also known that even my flaws are fabulous.

I have been many things to many people and some I carry into today and some I leave where they need to stay – in the past. So who am I today?

I am a woman. I am bold. I am beautiful. I am open and honest to anyone who truly wants to know me. I have a heart that I will give to anyone who needs it. I am still a giggler. I am a lover – a lover for people, of people, with people, of life. I am a writer in my own way. I am most definitely a healer. I am sparkle. I am heart. I am laughter when the mood strikes me. I am….

(wait a second – as an aside as I write this….. when I write like this, am I just reading my ego’s words – I, me… Is this my ego or do I have accept that my ego is always a part of what makes my physical side? That is not wrong is it? If I allow my ego to become the centre of attention to be praised and looked upon as special, that is wrong isn’t it? My ego is my state of mind? My ego is the external object but that doesn’t make it a bad thing – not always?  If I tell you who I am, does that open the door for you to do the same with me? That’s good right? The “I”, the “me” I talk about here is the spiritual me. The true me. The me I only give to a few, to allow them to become the “me” they need to be. The me and the I here is my soul.)

Anyway… back to what makes me, me…. I am made by the people around me. I am made with the love I am given, I am made by the challenges set me. I am made by empathy and forgiveness for my flaws. I am made by support and I am made by their need to be better – that allows me to give back what they give me. I am alive and I am living life – that is most important for me to remember – I have made choices, some easy and some more difficult, but choices which allow me to be the me I am today.

I am ridiculously forgiving unless someone lies to me. I am still a dancer. I am nauseatingly (for some) positive. I am a mother and that is the most rewarding, joyous gift I have been given. I am a woman with questions about people, about life, about love, about possibility (yes I am nosey). I am sensitive – sensitive to criticism but also to touch and emotions and energy. I am naughty. I can still be silly and let my hair down. I am a reader – of books and of people.

So why do I need to know all of this? Because it is the only way I will know what I want for my tomorrow. If I do not understand myself, how can I possibly understand my purpose, what others see, what others need from me, or what I am capable of achieving. If I know who I am, I am stronger, wiser, more courageous and I am able to give myself to others without the fear of being lost to them. If I don’t know me, how can I possibly know you and that is, at the end of the day, what I want to do.

I want to know the you inside. I want to know your highs, your lows. I want to see what makes you laugh, get angry or frustrated, cry. I want you to know that I hold all you tell me inside and never share it with another soul. I want you to trust that what I tell you about me is what you get. I want you to talk so I can listen. Most of all I want you to be happy, (btw has anyone asked you that today? I bet they asked how you are, but I bet they never asked if you are happy). I tell you about me, so you know what you are getting when you stop by to say hello, not because I want my ego stroking, not because I want someone to tell me I do a good job but because I need you as much as you need me.

I am a healing, loving soul reaching out to you in order to serve my purpose. No other agenda. No other desire. No dreams of creating something for me. Just knocking at the door, laying flowers for you to take or not. In the words of Nanny McPhee “when you need me but do not want me I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, I must go.” (and I have no idea why I wrote that but there it is – my thoughts know more than I most days).

I lay these flowers at your door. I step back and wait….

You only have to open the door….

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Long Have You Held That Grief Inside?

Just how long have you held your grief inside? How long have you denied facing your emotions and letting them go in peace? How long have you ‘managed’?

I managed 15 years.

I didn’t begin because I had just given birth and I didn’t have the capacity. I didn’t begin because time moved on and I had to cope. I didn’t begin because others needed me. I didn’t begin because time had passed and I should be over it – right? I didn’t begin because my mental health was already in decline and this would make it worse. I didn’t begin because I didn’t know how. I didn’t begin because it was 15 years ago and it’s too late. I didn’t begin because I was too bloody scared to.

That list could go on and on and on and I wish with all my heart I had had someone there who simply gave me space and silence to fact my fears, whilst knowing they were there to metaphorically hold my hand. I wish I had moved into and through the pain and to the calm and quiet and freedom I now know exists when you do.

It felt like I was lost in a forest with no obvious paths (all the ones that do exist are dead ends), no signs (not that I could stop to read as my eyes are full of tears), and no light coming through the trees to show me the way. I was lost and I wanted someone to show me the way home. I wanted my mum – the very person I was trying to get over.

Mum came but in the form of people I had never met before – the perfect strangers who, with her help, took my hand and told me it would all be fine. I found a precious song, I found her favourite flowers and I stood in my kitchen and sang to her. I said my goodbye and I allowed the tears to flow and I took a breath so I could finally grieve for the woman who gave my life. I was able to move on and begin to live again. This was the second time she had given me permission to live.

If you know deep inside that it is time then find the one who will give you space and permission to say goodbye – a friend, a family member, a stranger – it actually doesn’t matter who as long as you know they will keep you safe and stand and metaphorically hold your hand until you are ready to step into the next phase of life.

How Do You Want to Die?

“Everybody’s got a story. Let it be your blaze of glory. Burning bright, never fade away. And when the final curtain falls, we could say we did it all. The never ending of a perfect day… when I go out, I wanna go dancing.” Kylie Minogue, 2018

I was pottering in the kitchen this morning, making my breakfast and a cup of tea with radio 2 on, and out popped the lovely Kylie and the words really caught my attention. Whilst her meaning was probably quite different to how I interpreted them, (that is the joy of music, you interpret how you feel), I found myself considering my death. No, not because I am feeling forbid but because I have come to realise that what time I have on this wonderful planet, I will use wisely and with joy.

I want to go out dancing! I have absolutely no intention of leaving this planet weeping or with regret, no matter what the circumstances, and if someone can say “she went doing what she loved” my soul will be at peace. So let me ask you something – what is your blaze of glory and what if today was the last; would you be doing “what they loved” or would you be in a different place?

Once I drove my car and all I could think about was pressing the pedal hard and hitting a wall to end it all; nowadays I think of pressing the pedal as I drive through a foreign land with the wind blowing through my hair, as I head towards another adventure. No I am not living in a fantasy, it is soon to be my reality, and all it took was courage, time, effort, support and a desire to be better – better for myself and better for my children. I can look back now and watch it all play back without emotion – I have zero emotional attachment to the circumstances, the people or how poorly I was (I have let go) and that helps me see just how far I have come. You, if you feel even close to how I did, can do the same. You just got to want to dance!

If you want your favourite music playing in your head, whilst you dance through your day, or even hum to yourself as you get on with your work (hmmm think about it – when was the last time you did that), it is down to you. No one can fix you. No one else can give you answers. No one is going to make it all go away. This is your responsibility. This is your life.

Harsh words? Maybe, but when you want someone else to fix you, you will never get the answers you want to hear, because they will always tell you things that you need to do. When you want someone else to make life better, take away the pain, make you laugh, play the music for you to hear; you won’t ever listen for long. You will give up. You will give up, because you are not owning your own life.

When you take back control, when you decide that change has to happen, then all the support you receive will be meaningful and productive. It is your choice what music you put on and if you dance….

So…. how will you die? I have no idea of what, how, when, where and nor do I think or worry about it any more. I am living now and that is what counts. I am alive, loved, giving what I have to those I care for and most of all, I am happy. What more could I ask for than what I have now, right this minute.

What’s playing in the background now as I write?

“I’ve been to a marvelous party, I must say the fun was intense. We all had to do, what the people we knew might be doing a hundred years hence. We talked about growing old gracefully and Elsie who’s seventy-four, said, “A, it’s a question of being sincere. B, if you’re supple you’ve nothing to fear. Then she swung upside down from a glass chandelier and I couldn’t have liked it more.”

That’s how life should be thought of… “I couldn’t have liked it more.”

 

 

Is housework really therapy?

Hmmmm housework…. not my idea of pleasure and the ironing pile has to get to taking over a room status before I can bear to tackle it. But, yesterday I realised I could make this ‘me time’. Possibly not the spa or a massage but me time just the same.

How on earth can you make housework a pleasure and a therapy? By being in the moment and using it to your advantage I discovered today.

So I’d done breakfast and cleaned the kitchen, got the school run out of the way and there really is no avoiding this huge pile of clean clothes staring at me from the corner of the room. The wardrobe is empty, it has to be done…

Out came the ironing board and the iron and on went the music… I have known for a long long time that dancing whilst you iron makes it more manageable. I began and honestly after two shirts and a t-shirt I was already thinking of giving it up but then took a deep breath and focused on the dress – who in their right mind buys linen – it is a nightmare to make look half decent. Sorry I digress.

I began to look at the dress, the weave of the fabric, the memories of India and Greece woven in the fibres. I looked at the patterns the natural creases made, the texture and the colour and lost myself for a few minutes. It was fabulous. Onto the ironing board came a favourite top and again I made a conscious effort to really see the top, it’s colour, it’s texture and the memories entwined in it. The noise the steam made as it was released between the fibres. The heat absorbed by my fingers close to the irons metal plate. The movement of the iron and its hiss, slightly out of time with the beat of ELOs Mr Blue Sky playing in the background.

All of a sudden the pile of ironed clothes was higher than the un-ironed and I was genuinely enjoying this time and felt focussed, relaxed and quite chilled by the whole experience. Living in the moment I think is the marketing speak. It was quite beautiful.

When you take what you are doing and give it your total undivided attention, paying homage to the shape, size, texture, sound and movement of all you do, suddenly you find yourself absolutely in the moment. Suddenly the mundane brings a certain pleasure and peace with it. No frustration, no feelings of wasting time, just the simple pleasure of doing whatever it is you have to do thoroughly, with full attention and gaining a sense of being that is indulgently pleasurable.

So, next time you are faced with a task you see as daunting, terrible, boring and mundane or you just need some space in your head for nothing to sit in, give the task your focus, look really carefully; see it, feel it, hear it, and touch it in a way you haven’t done before and find the rest of the world is standing still, quietly waiting for you, until you are ready to join it once more.

Housework as therapy? Why not…

The answer is always yes

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it – say yes, then learn how to do it later. Richard Branson

I am not a huge fan of Richard Branson but some words he spouts resonate and these ones really do.

I have always had the mentality of say yes and work out how to do it later. It’s how I got my first job in London 30 years ago! Can you use a computer and this software? Yes of course! I got the job there and then and then spent the weekend learning the how. The joy of the 1980s.

Not suggesting anyone lies. That’s crossing one too many values for me. I do however, encourage a can do attitude. Why miss an opportunity to do something new, explore somewhere you’ve never been or live a life you’ve always dreamt of, just because you don’t know how to achieve it?

When someone said to me yesterday “shall we do a workshop together”, neither of us knowing what this will be, of course the answer was yes. We both know we have something to give, something to create and our guts and that little bit of excitement that ran round our bellies as we said this, were enough to decide to create something beautiful.

Yes. That is enough to begin.

What is your dream? What do you want to create? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? When are you finally going to just say yes?

You are already enough, so say yes and work out how later. The universe she listens. The universe hears that yes. The universe has your back and will co-create what is meant to be.

When there is too much day…

“What day is it today? Today. Ahh, my favourite day. Yesterday, when it was tomorrow, it was too much day for me. Winnie the Pooh (and Piglet)

Do you ever have those days when there is simply too much day to cope with? Horrible isn’t it? You simply don’t know which way to turn, what to do or not do and every single thing you have to do or decision you have to make, seems to swamp you, sit on your chest, eek into your pores and totally overwhelm you.

So what do you do?

If you ask people around you, even loved ones, they may tell you to just stop and pull yourself together. They may tell you to take it easy as it will all get done. They may tell you something like “tomorrow will be a better day”. They may get cross with your inability to manage things and you row. They may choose to pretend they can’t see you are in trouble, as they simply don’t know what the hell to do with or for you anymore.

So what do you do?

You make an appointment to go to see the GP! That seems the best option – they are the professional after all. It also means you are being proactive and positive doesn’t it? If you get past the receptionist, who seems to want everything down to your inside leg measurement and all the gory details, just to tell you that you can have an appointment two weeks on Tuesday; you get told you are probably over tired, have depression, are stressed – here take these pills and see me in a month. You are once again left alone to manage.

Now, yes I am being harsh here and this is (thankfully) not always the case and I can honestly say I have never experienced this , but I speak every day to people who do.

So what do you do?

You struggle along, you take your pills and then you have a bright idea – I know I will just paint this smile on and tell everyone I am okay – eventually that will make me feel better I am sure! So you do. You smile. You are the life and soul of the party. You are everyone in the offices little ray of sunshine. You get home exhausted. You do it all again the next day. This, my beautiful friend, is not sustainable. This, my beautiful friend, is called a sticking plaster and you have a great big wound that needs stitches and possibly major surgery. This, my beautiful friend, cannot and will not be a solution.

So what do you do?

The day is too long. The day is too much. You are becoming a burden. You know the world is better off without you. You hurt so much all you want to do is take the pain away. You are no longer actually thinking straight; in fact you are no longer thinking at all. When you do this the silence will begin. When you do this the constant heaviness and pain will stop. When you do this it will all be over. True…. for you anyway.

So what do you do?

The answer? There is no actual answer that anyone can pull out of a bag and give you to make this all better BUT, there is choice, possibility, opportunity, support availability, friendship, loved ones, and good old fashioned love (for yourself as much as anyone). You simply need to talk; know today is really just today and can become tomorrow; and there are people to want to, can and will, support you through this. To find out what and how and when, ALL you have to do it take a deep breath and speak up.

I am listening…. and there is plenty of today left to ensure tomorrow has a beautiful sunrise.

 

Walking Away or Walking To?

“I always get to where I am going by going away from where I’ve been.”

Winnie the Pooh

There is no one better than Pooh bear to set you thinking… wise old bear. When you read that sentence it seems pretty obvious that to get to where you are going you have to leave where you are, BUT how many of us try and stay exactly where we are and reach where we are going without moving?

Turn from where you are and head North (another Pooh reference) and it really is that simple. If you attempt to stand still and still reach where you want to go, at some point you will lose your balance and ruin everything you have tried. If you don’t choose a direction to go, you will find yourself back where you began. If you stand still with a determination to keep you feet firmly planted and yet want to fly, you are going to be extremely frustrated and feel pulled in two directions.

But now there is the question of mindset in all of this – are you walking away or are you walking to? Walking away has connotations of loss, giving up or abandonment, whereas walking to is more upbeat, positive and holds a sense of excitement to it. Walking away with gratitude and a slight nod of acknowledgement to the past, like a man tipping his hat to a lady perhaps, is what is required. Only when you are able to walk forward, with a sense of knowing where and who you are, will you walk forward with determination and a spring in your step.

What is it you want to walk towards? Is it change? Is it fun? Is it a new career or relationship? Is it a sense of excitement that you feel life has lost? Is it a temporary fix and a testing of the water before you choose something more permanent? Or perhaps a temporary fix to give a sense of relief from the mundane you now feel? Whatever your purpose or desire to move, move you must once it takes hold. If you stay standing still you will open the door to regret and, whilst it may not step inside immediately, it will step in and usually as you hit one of your low days and then you will berate yourself for not doing something when you could. Your dark day will become darker and for no reason other than you know you could/should have stepped forward.

If you need courage to take the first step, simply find the hand of someone who understands and hold on tight. Allow them to walk by your side, just like Christopher Robin and Pooh through the Hundred Acre wood; and do this most important step, together. For a short while you will see two sets of footprints from where you have been and sometimes you may see them ahead of you as you go in circles, but eventually, there will be one set of prints and they will be bold, confident footprints and you will know that where they have come from was a place that is still a part of you – but your past is no longer dictating your future direction.

Step boldly and if you need some courage, perhaps a song or two shared with your companion will lighten the journey. Enjoy your adventure.

 

 

The Unconscious Worrier and The Conscious Warrior

How many times do you find yourself unfocused, not really present or just generally distracted but you can’t quite put your finger on it?

How many of you put your warrior head on and battle through your day, your week and your life?

I get you….

This last ten days I realise I have been unfocused; physically present but just skimming the surface of reality and knowing I was watching life but not quite able to join in.

When it came to the crunch though, the day arrived where I had to face the world, it couldn’t be avoided and I put on my invisible armour and got on with it.

So there’s a lump. Not where I thought and way bigger than I expected. How do I feel? Actually okay. Not good. Not bad. Not scared. Not worried. Actually grateful that I haven’t wasted the time of the people caring for me this morning.

Wasting the time of the nursing staff. That worried me more than anything. Our NHS system is stretched enough. Is that why we don’t go to see our GP? In case we are just adding to the current overload? Or is that just an excuse because we we bloody scared about what they will find.

Now I have a lump. So now they have to squeeze, scan, take pictures, stick me with needles and tell me results.

But, I discovered, all is well. It’s just a cyst and that was easily dealt with. Did I sigh with relief? Yes of course I did and thankfully I will not have to have the conversations with those I love that I’d had in my head, so the day suddenly feels a bit different.

If you have a lump or a pain or an ache or something just doesn’t look or feel right, don’t tell yourself the doctor or the nurses are overwhelmed and you don’t want to make it worse; don’t avoid getting checked because you don’t know how you’d cope; don’t think it will go away – it really won’t; take a breath, make that call, just say what’s wrong and allow the professional to do the diagnosing.

Last week I had a lump and a phone call to make and I was uncomfortable and scared. All week my unconscious worrier sat below the surface and niggled my thoughts, never allowing me to worry enough that it was obvious, but making it difficult for me to do anything constructively. But today I had to consciously become the warrior and get through the day. The warrior found it was just a cyst and with a sense of relief took a breath but one, whilst looking around the consultation room, hoping all the others were breathing again too.