Vulnerability is the beginning of growth?

When we as a society talk of being vulnerable we tend to use it in a negative, weak, and needs support, sense. Vulnerable to me is a sense of huge strength and courage and self power. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable you give yourself permission to feel, to experience, to accept and let go of things, of people, of expectations or emotional blockages.

Vulnerability has a certain beauty about it and I love the intimacy that allowing yourself to be vulnerable brings. When you truly trust and give yourself whole heartedly, then you are at your most vulnerable. When you truly love, unconditionally, you are at your most vulnerable. When you are at your most scared that what you give will take you to the edge of the universe, and you don’t know whether you will ever get back, that is you at your most vulnerable.

Scared, but empowered. Lost, but knowing, truly knowing this is the right direction. Loved, the all encompassing love that is almost impossible for many to experience.

“But while you say my name you’re under my skin. I try to walk away but the ice is thin. Something always pulls me back to you. So I keep my armour on, my walls are rigid. My gates are strong but you’re my weakness. You know, you’re the only one who makes me feel so vulnerable. So vulnerable.”

When you find that space inside you that is your vulnerable, embrace it, as it is there that you grow. You grow as a person. You grow as an individual. You grow as a wife, husband, brother, sister, child, lover, partner. When you allow yourself to give totally, unconditionally, with your heart; you are at your weakest and your strongest. There you can shake the hand of vulnerability knowing that you just experienced the most beautiful, exquisite and divine moment in time.

Be brave and allow your vulnerable to be seen. You will be beautiful. You will be bold. You will be… whatever you desire… as here is where growth just began.

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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.

Just Be You…

Life is all about you. You are life. If you are trying to live someone else’s life, who is living yours?

We spend so much of our time on planet earth trying to be someone else, like someone else, as good as someone else. What about being you? We have the media throwing information at us as to how we should look, what we should read, watch, listen to, and what we should and shouldn’t say. What about being you? It takes courage to be you and therein lies the problem.

Are you willing (be honest here), are you really willing to stand up and be counted? This could mean defending your beliefs, your truth, your honour or standing up for someone who cannot defend them self or even dressing as you want to dress, walking away from a job that doesn’t serve you, saying what you need to say or living the life you want to live. It could be walking away from an unhealthy relationship or a total life change. A simple “yeah of course” is not enough – I invite you to be really honest with yourself and see if it is true.

I always thought I was the one who stood up to be counted but as I look back I was lying to myself. I spent so long trying to conform that I didn’t even realise I was trying so hard and that it hurt. Nowadays I guess maybe I have reached an age where it isn’t important to me what others think of me, but I have also worked hard to reach a place where I simply like the person I am and most of all I am happy. That’s all any of us want right?

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken” is an Oscar Wilde quote that I just love and it resonates with what I try and help people achieve via my therapies, so it works well as a strapline on my business cards, but what does it actually mean? Is it just words?

To me (and it may be different for you) this quote is about living the life that ensures I live by my values of trust, honesty and integrity. This is ensuring that I am true to my belief that everyone has a right to be heard and listened to, and that everyone has a right to be loved and cared for and that everyone has a right to be happy. This does not mean these are simply gifts which are given, they have to be earned, but everyone should be allowed to receive and achieve them.

Being yourself is about feeling confident enough in your own skin to make a stand if challenged; doing, saying and feeling what is needed, maybe standing alone, letting people go or putting yourself in a place of vulnerability where you may just be hurt; and being yourself is acceptance that you are enough. I am enough, what about you? It is okay to say yes – it doesn’t mean you are not willing to grow or change, it means you are happy where you are, today.

People say, look inside yourself, you will find yourself there…. what on earth does that mean? If you are a literal person you are going to see bones, and blood and muscles and squishy stuff – is that who you are? Look inside me and and I am just the same as you in that department – all goo and sticky, icky bits, BUT, if looking inside means finding what your core values and beliefs are, how you want to live, how you will honour others beliefs and values or how you choose to communicate with others who cross your path, then we will probably all be very different. If you live every day the best way you can, accepting your good days and bad days, accepting the temper loss and frustration as well as the love and kind words,  then we will all be very different but possibly aiming at the same target – one of making ourselves and, in the process, making others, happy.

In a lunch break or maybe tonight over a glass of wine or beer or a cup of tea, I challenge you to take a look at you. Are you trying to blend in so you cannot be seen? Are you being someone you aren’t for the benefit of others – to please, to satisfy, to prove a point or because you have been told that is the only way? Are you ready to step up and step out and begin to find the you beyond the visual we all see?

What is to be done? Some will say transform. Some will say reconnect. Some will say change. Me? I say be brave and just be you, everyone else is taken.

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….

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Door Opens and the Dragonfly Takes Flight

So… having come to the end of a six day course this weekend, I find myself mulling over all I have learnt and what this has meant to me and what I take from it all.

As I drove home, the monotony of the motorway allowed me to mull, review, process and digest the course and in turn, my life. The more I drove, the more I was at peace and the more a smile from deep inside lifted my soul.

I had arrived at where I am meant to be.

Seven years ago this weekend I walked away from all I had known for 22 years and it’s been seven years of learning, tears, highs and lows, education, sadness, hatred, laughter, love, forgiveness, and positivity. Seven years ago I sat alone wondering whether to live or call it a day…. I am so very glad I stayed to see what life had to offer because, whilst it has been hard, I have learnt, battled, changed, survived and now arrived and the next chapter is about to begin.

Seven. A huge number in my life and one that brings wonderment, change, fear, apprehension, joy, progress and even in my darkest days, movement forward. To what? Who knows… but I have an excitement in my belly that I do not wish to dumb down.

It’s time to live the life I have dreamt of. To live the life I want. To explore, heal (myself and others), grow and be true to myself. It is time to leave the last seven years and step boldly, and with purpose, into the next seven.

Where will they take me? Across lands I have only ever dreamt of, to people I didn’t know I would meet, into cultures read about in storybooks and with communication I didn’t know was possible.

I have to give thanks to anyone and everyone who has been in, passed through or stayed in my life. I am totally blessed to have each and every one of you making a mark on who I am, what I do and how I live. Thank you for touching my life to enable me to touch anothers.

My purpose is to touch the world, to shine my light and never again live in the shadows. This dragonfly sees the door that has been opened and has no hesitation about flying through and high to whatever is on the other side.

Time to Connect

There are times when I am sitting minding my own business when the voices in my head say “get on with it woman, get writing, it is time to talk”. I hate it when they do that as sometimes it really doesn’t sit with where I am in my day and can be a total inconvenience – but don’t do it and I will regret it later on as my thoughts will have vanished and I will have missed an opportunity to connect.

Connect with who? I have absolutely no idea but someone, somewhere will be reading this and know it is for them. They will know I am stood before them, looking into their eyes, holding their hand and no one else matters – it’s just me and them and a moment in time to connect.

Connection is a bloody powerful beast. When you connect with someone on a deep level – an ethereal level, a level of wisdom, passion, a level of intellect or just a level of peace – you both know it and it can blow you away. Connection is also vital to our survival as a species. I don’t just mean a sexual passing on of genes and life but a very important part of our personal survival and connection to the universe. We need people, even though sometimes we tell ourselves we can do this alone, telling ourselves that we don’t need people in our lives destroying what we have created, disturbing our sense of control and calm or getting in our way – actually, we just need to accept that we need people.

When someone stands before you, beside you or behind you and makes eye contact, takes your hand, or you just feel the energy they are sharing with you, you know you are safe, you know you are not alone and you know that you can conquer anything. It doesn’t have to be physical – this is sometimes just knowing that there is someone in this universe that cares where you are, what you are doing and they wish you well. That is connection.

Connection with another human; in body or in spirit is like giving life to the dead. Knowing you have someone else on this planet who knows you exist is huge. When you don’t have this… there is despair, loneliness, self destruction, lack of self confidence or awareness, hollowness, uncertainty and a loss of purpose.

Imagine. Close your eyes for a second and send away all those in your life you connect with. Put a wall or a deep dark chasm between you and them. You cannot see, hear, or touch them. They have forgotten you exist. You are totally alone. How that thought makes me shiver and sigh and feel cold and unloved and unworthy and damn damn damn sad. But hold that thought and really feel it inside you. This is reality for some….

Now reach out and touch another human. It could be a loved one, a friend, a perfect stranger, but touch them. Feel their skin on your skin. Feel the energy pass from you to them and back again. Feel the warmth. Feel the sunlight. Feel the peace that brings. Feel the connection. Feel the purpose you have been given.

What purpose? Your purpose is to touch another human being. It is to give life to a lost soul. It is to care and feel and love. It is to breathe breath into a shell. It is to add colour. It is to give life where there is none. You may have other purposes but your overall purpose as a human is to connect with another and give them all you have to give – to give them you. In whatever form that takes, however much you feel you can give but there is no denying, you have to give it. It is what you are on this earth for – to give to another human a little bit of you.

If you do one thing today – please just connect. Whether asking for connection or giving a connection – please do it. The world will be a better place if each day we gave to another, even the smallest of touches, compliments, assurance they are loved, smile or acknowledgement that they exist and have a place. Enjoy that connection. Feel that connection. Be that connection.

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.

It’s Been 7 Years…

7 years between these photos.

On the left is a woman who to the world had everything and a smile for everyone. Just days after this photo was taken her world imploded and she fell apart. Depression is a cruel and unstoppable force. The painted smile was torn away and her only option was to walk away from the world she had been living. That or call it a day.

On the right is the same woman now. Older. Wiser. Greyer. Tattooed. Pierced. Business owner and living a life that she is both proud of and happy in. Loving life and able to love and be loved. It took work. It took time. It still goes wrong but she is strong enough to deal with it.

This is me. I had people around me who understood and propped me up whilst I healed. It was hard for people to understand. From some “she will get over it”, from others “how could she walk away”, from those who saw through the smile “we were waiting for this and can now help you”, and from many, a call, a cuddle, a hand to hold or a smile and space and time to find my way whilst they walked by my side, dipping in and out of my life as I needed them.

For my family it was hard, confusing, worrying, sad but they always tried to help where they could. For my children… life changing, sometimes I regret things and feel I will never be able to make it better, sometimes I know they prefer the laid back mum who makes time for them and herself as she is so much nicer to be with.

Mental health hits all people, all ages, all backgrounds. Strong, confident, outgoing, or vulnerable, shy and lonely. We can all be touched by the black dog and when you see someone who suffers, please don’t judge, please don’t presume, please hold out your hand and offer a smile, a kind word, space and never tell them to pull themselves together. Their world has imploded and some days it’s impossible to even get out of bed and wash. If this was you what would you want?

Watch your children, they are already being impacted from all sorts of areas. Watch your wife, husband, siblings, partner, parents, friends. If you don’t understand try…

I am a Woman of Colour

I am a woman of colour. I am not white. I am not black. I am not yellow. I am not brown. I am not pink. I am a woman of colour. I love all colour, and I think colour, and I see all things in colour. I live and I breathe colour. I am vibrant. But, what happens when you change your world to only black and white?

This weekend I was away with my daughter, and knowing we were going to be sightseeing and taking lots of photos, we decided to change our world to black and white. We were only allowed to take a photo in black and white, as we wanted to see the impact of taking the colour out of what we saw and experienced. Our eyes saw colour; our camera saw black and white; our memories will be what?

We see colour, we accept all colour for what it is in our clothes, our buildings, our cars, and our homes and never question that it should ever only be one colour or one shade, and yet, when we look at each other…

The strange thing was, what I saw with my eye, the camera captured in a completely different way. The blue sky and the sunshine glinting onto a building brought a smile and yet the photograph was quite sultry, stormy looking and had a sense of mystery. The sparkle of a sign as it caught the sunlight became dramatic and more powerful as I looked back at the photo version of the same view. The street scene where we had a plethora of nation, culture, colour, creed, size, shape, sex and profession, was transformed into a collection of humans, all thoroughly enjoying each other, the day, the weather, the atmosphere and life, just as they were – different and yet the same.

We live in a world of colour. We live in a world of different. We live in a world of mix and match. We live in a world where it all being the same colour would be sad, lacking in variety, and less joyful somehow and yet many feel the need to say what we have is how it should be for all. Life can be beautiful and dramatic and somehow more, in black and white, but I wonder if we would feel the same if our thoughts and actions were black and white; you were either right or wrong, there was no room for a kink here, a curve there, no slight alteration from the thoughts and ideas of your fellow human or heaven forbid individuality or creativity in thought, action or belief.

I am a woman of colour. I am a woman who loves colour. I am a woman who believes colour is beautiful, vibrant, strong, gentle, vivacious, alone, together, separate and as one. I am a woman who will work with you to paint your world. I am a woman who will follow you and repaint all you suck the colour from. I am a woman who loves and is in love with colour and will stand tall and ensure that this world falls in love with colour too. I am a woman who will breathe life into anyone ready to accept difference, individuality, creativity, passion, belief in another human being as an equal and I am a woman who will fight to her last breath to ensure we never exist in only black and white.

This weekend our eyes saw colour; our camera saw black and white; our memories will be what? Simply amazing….

 

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.”