Saturday, 13 December 2014

Answering the call. And other news.

If you see my Instagram feed you'll know that last weekend I hinted at some big news. Well it turns out that my senses around that full moon, and how I was being pulled to commit to something, were bang on target.

We discovered on Friday, confirmed on Saturday, that thanks to Charlie's airline pension, we will have a little financial windfall in August next year. It's not lottery money (to most people) but to us it is truly life-changing. After Charlie quit the airline in 2010 after 12 months off with stress we were plunged into a money nightmare at the worst point of the economic disaster. I had to carry the bills single-handedly on a relatively low part-time salary. I could have looked for full-time work but I chose to stay in a position that I'd held for eight years at that time - with promises (kept) from the Directors that there would be no redundancies - rather than potentially be the 'last in, first out' somewhere else. I'm not a 25 year old hotshot. I'm a woman of a certain age with a young child and ageing parents. I might not have appeared a good bet, employment-wise. Also, at the time, it was all firing, no hiring.

So we struggled on. And it was incredibly hard. Still is at times although Charlie has slowly grown a niche for his considerable talents that seems finally to be yielding fruit. Some of you will know only too well what life is like when your head is running numbers 24 hours a day. 'How far can I get on this petrol?', 'How many meals can I make from this?', 'How long before the child benefit payment hits my account and Evie can have shoes without holes?', 'Can I juggle this, that and those pennies to make sure I pay back the payday loan?'. Yes I went there and no, sometimes I couldn't. I benefited greatly from the generosity of friends and will never forget that, whatever else happens between us, but the anxiety never stopped.

Even on the days when things are easier and you treat yourself to a coffee or maybe even a train ticket to see some friends (as long as you can find free parking for your car near the station) instead of making shame-laden excuses, the joy gets sucked out of everything. You try this plan and that plan, hatch idea after idea, but when you have zero disposable income it's so hard to get anything off the ground. And so much time is taken dealing with day to day life when 'stuff' is old and broken and bodged together.

The three of us kept going. We nearly fell apart as a family but we decided, at the crunch point, that wasn't going to happen and slowly things got better.

Now twenty five years of being away from home, and having permanent jet lag finally have something to show for themselves. We can breathe, replace, repair, move forward and yes, even celebrate. We are not rich, but we are able to sleep. We are grateful.

And in all this...the blessings. As a family we are strong and devoted to each other. We have each discovered strengths and abilities that might have stayed uncovered in an easier situation. We have truly understood what our values are and what matters. What is real.

Through it all we hung on to this home, this place, because for both of us - quite possibly all three of us - its healing power was our salvation. For me, being able to be immersed in what has always given me power - nature, earth, water, life, peace - has meant remembering a way of being, believing, knowing and communicating with the sacred life force that carries us.

That place of deep communion with nature is what I call the sacred natural (the words I found for myself via Danielle LaPorte all those years ago!). It lifts me, informs me, grounds me and gives everything meaning.

Because of that, and in no small part the events of this year that have truly been (and continue to be) the personal revolution that named this blog, including this last one that brings freedom with it, I have made that decision the moon called for. I'm going in, stepping up, owning it. And I'm returning my online writing to its true home. This little blogging adventure is done, loved and retired. I'm going back to where I belong at The Art of Wildness and I'm hoping to share what I now know, and what I've yet to discover. I'll let you know when.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for always reading and always letting me know when I shared something that touched you. You are a very special part of my lifeline and I treasure your company, truly.

xxx

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Did she jump or was she pulled?



The upcoming full Cold Moon is pulling me in. Visible through the day as well as at night, this one seems to have a mental tractor beam on me. It's been telling me I only have until Saturday to decide. That I need to make some decisions, even if they're only short term. I stood in the dark field this evening and could not take my eyes off this moon. All I could hear was,'Time's running out...are you ready? You've got two days to prepare.'

For the last week or so - perhaps since the new moon now that I think of it - I've had the feeling that I'm standing, again, on the edge of a cliff. I know on some level that I should jump but every time I've approached this point before I have dithered and missed my chance. This isn't a jump in a negative sense, it's just a jump that would leave behind some aspects of who I have been. Leave them behind forever (gasp). These aspects are/were genuine, real parts of me that are no longer needed. There are new ones ready to be taken for a spin. New wings that haven't yet taken me to the air. I should jump; that much is clear.

And yet the dithering is there in the background. Way quieter this time but still, wondering where it is I think I'm going to land. What will happen? What can I plan for? What should I do to be ready for the flight? What should I pack? Do I need shots? And, here's a big one, how will I explain it to people who know me? The dithery me is fine, in theory, with the jumping, she just seems to need to fill in some forms first. Make some lists. Know stuff.

And now my intuition, my guides, my gut...all telling me that I can't know. That's kind of the point. And pointing out that I'm not going to be jumping far; this is more like a hop. The big stuff is already established. This jump is all about the faith, the trust, the confidence and the readiness to leave the old ways behind. Knowing only that there are new ways ready and waiting...I just can't see them in advance.

I need some time to meditate on this. To feel my way around it and relax. Except there's the small matter of a busy life in the way. I'm working at my desk job Thursday and Friday. Evie needs me doing stuff with her (nine year olds stay up as late as I do it seems - gone are my hours of quiet in the evening). Saturday is Beagle Day so I'm busy until early afternoon and then...dinner, family, dogs, life. All the things I'm so lucky to have. And yet, honestly, today I feel as if I would really benefit from three days alone somewhere, just me and the moon.

I am not ready. I haven't dusted off my faith and trust. Can't remember where I left either of them. I'm not feeling calm or prepared in any way.

Of course Saturday may come and go with absolutely nothing happening. In which case I shall no doubt believe that I have again missed my chance to jump. Even though I have no idea what 'jump' actually means in this context.

Two nights ago I dreamt I was in a high building looking out of the window. Level with the window I could see a heron flying but held in one place by a head wind it couldn't beat. Now and then it would circle back and try again but still it flew 'on the spot'. I called out to people to come and watch but only I could see it. There was no struggle for the heron, it was almost play. I think this is something I need to think on. Before Saturday.

No wonder they say La Luna, when full, brings out the lunatic in us all. I'm spinning like a top.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Knowing my self


I've always hated having my photo taken. Whatever I do or do not look like in real life I am one of those unlucky individuals (in this day and age) who is not photogenic. The planes of my face, my features, my nervousness, all the above...not good photographic material. In school photos I would usually have my eyes closed, more than once 'ruining' the otherwise 'lovely' picture of my brother as we sat together. Tall, gangly, shy and awkward, I was grim-faced in black and white, red-faced in colour.

Not a huge fan of the selfie, I nevertheless came to appreciate what a good one can do for one's self esteem. It's possible to take 30 of them and choose the one good one to filter and 'artify'. But still I was self-conscious about it. I didn't like what I thought it said about me that I enjoyed posting pictures of myself. I didn't think it said anything about anyone else mind you (outside the Kardashian Realm) because I love seeing other people's faces. Just not mine.

And then in the last few weeks I started to like what I saw because I recognised her. Me. The lines on my face and the streaks of grey in my hair. Making the portraits a moody B&W felt totally right because I was trying to portray more than the physical. There was also a slight fascination with how much I am beginning to resemble family members to whom I've never before been likened. I am moved to see them showing up in these images now. My father's memory of me may be fading daily but his face is appearing in mine at an equal pace.

Most of all, I am claiming my self. I am staking my claim to this life, this experience, this place, this day, this moment. This face.

Like the magical Maya, I have a council of animal guides to whom I've always turned, even as a child. Among them now I identify hawk (as the European common buzzard), crow, deer, pigeon, badger and spider. Foremost, always, are the wolves. Within the council they have a governing circle and take precedence as my personal 'family'. It's the circle that calls me in when there's something special I need to be shown or told.

Recently, I was not so much called as summoned. It felt as if I were about to get a good telling off but I had no idea why. I was kindly asked if I was in agreement that I belong to the wolf family. Indeed. Then I should be reminded of a few things:

Wolves are known to be: loving, loyal, family-orientated, protective, affectionate, playful even. Deeply instinctive, they are the pathfinders, with a deep faith and understanding of life. They will fight tooth and claw to defend their own and are at times fierce, intense and, when cornered, extremely dangerous. Capable of inflicting deep wounds, even though they prefer flight over fight.

But nowhere has the wolf character ever been described as 'nice'.

So, I was asked, did I want to be 'nice' because if I did I might be better checking out the very nice rabbits next door. Or did I want to really stand up and be who I am.

Since I answered a fast and unequivocal yes to the latter, things have progressed. I'm feeling as if some kind of inner upgrade took place. Everything is more vivid, more...more...everything. My senses are sharper.

And when I look at myself I see who I really am, down to the brown/grey fur. I am happy to see her. Happy to see me.

x

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A life's work



It's so nice when it stops. Know that one? I was kind of aware of the intense metamorphosis taking place - the battering, the aching, the stress and the heat of the fire - but it became the norm there for a while. It's only now that the intensity has dialled right down and there is some peace, that I can see that this year has been one of those really full-on, fast track, 'sorry but ya just gotta learn this and quickly' times. Now I'm in a lull, recovering, and frankly I hope it lasts longer than it takes to catch my breath. Transition, transformation, growth...perhaps I was dawdling too much. Maybe the Powers That Be decided I needed a kick up the arse. Maybe I decided that.

It's hard, really hard, when there are changes in one area of your life that don't automatically manifest in others. My ongoing 'work' is almost all of a spiritual nature and that's where these developments have been; meanwhile the day-to-day stuff stays the same. That's not a bad thing, it's just how it is when your life is happily intertwined with others'. So we end up taking huge steps forward in one part of our selves and then many times a day having to back track, change back into our 'old clothes' and be who we're needed to be in other parts. Of course the aim is integration - how else can we be whole? - but that takes time, patience, courage, big love and a whole lot of trial and error.

I am lucky to be, thus far, unconditionally accepted and loved by my family (it's entirely mutual, even on the days when I yell a lot) but I do sometimes wonder,'Just how weird can I get before it's too much for them?'!

The thing with personal power is, it needs to be expressed in order to be ignited. It exists in all of us as intention, whether we are aware of it or not, but it needs to be given life to actually be of any benefit. The more we express our true selves, the more powerful we become. Obviously. And yet we withhold - especially in my culture.

A big part of what has changed in me this year is down to my expressing things that I might formerly have kept to myself. I have taken a risk on being thought of as weird and - even worse  - at least at one point 'not very nice' (the horror), as a move to let my personal power live. I have been more honest than I have ever been and despite the discomfort and vulnerability that brought out, it has been hugely empowering. I still have a way to go but so far, so much better. I am more comfortable with myself when I speak from my heart. More whole. As I said in my previous post, the circuit completes and the power surges.

I have to believe that this power we have is a positive thing, that we use it not just for personal benefit but for all. And that means believing the price we might pay for bringing it to life is worth the discomfort.

The end of the year is just weeks away and I'm looking at 2015 in a) amazement (we live in THE FUTURE now) and b) anticipation. A lot of 2014 has for me been about building strength: physical, emotional, spiritual. Next year I hope to add in skill, finesse, even artistry in how I express my self. I've a feeling that's a life's work.

x

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Closing the circle *


In the days before my t-shirt designs went live I posted some images on Instagram - the one on the right, above, is one of them - tagged #theartofwildness. That was my old blog name and was calling to be put out in the world again, so I used it for the store. It seemed appropriate.

I looked at the images again last night and smiled. I realised they might seem contrived but I promise you, this is how I live. That is my every day. Just as some people show up on the mat, the meditation cushion, the treadmill, at the altar...I show up out there. Every day, whatever the weather.

The dogs play a part in this - and that's just one of the reasons I am so grateful for their companionship - but I truly believe I'd do it anyway. It is, and has been for the 24 years since I moved out of Bath (not to mention many years before that), my practice. My mat, cushion, treadmill and altar. Even when it's cold, wet, dark and I'd rather be inside watching Peaky Blinders, I'm not. I'm out there with the earth, the trees and the streams; the full moons and new moons, solstices and storms. Showing up.

And it occurred to me that equally representative, almost, would be the other image. My desk at work. Doing what I've noticed I refer to as 'my day job'. With all the negative connotations that carries. And you know what? It's not 'my day job'. It is also my practice.

Twelve years ago I applied for a role at the charity I've worked for ever since. It was my third application in ten years and this time I'd built up journalism qualifications, PR and marketing experience, and my knowledge of conservation and environmental issues was deeper and better informed, so I got in and I've stayed. I believe in our work as much as I ever have, if not more. Twelve years of fighting for the rights of whales and dolphins; self-aware, intelligent beings with family, language, culture and their own 'names'. I have no plans to leave.

I am, as I step into the territory of my 50s, discovering one great thing: I know myself now. I may be a late bloomer as so many people seem to say this in their 40s and yes, things began to become clear then for me, but now is different.

Yet it's only recently that I've stopped repeating the,'I need to find myself...I need to discover/uncover my passion, my calling' line out of sheer habit. Because I don't. That's done. What a bloody relief. Now I can just get on with it.

Perhaps it was that old habit that got me all fired up this summer about how I should change the world. How I contribute to making the world a kinder, more inclusive, less murderous place. Hit by the inevitable, endless waves of horror at how humans abuse other beings as well as themselves I felt as if I was part of the problem, not part of the solution. Just by dint of my silence.

Um...12 years...week in, week out...witnessing the horror...fighting to stop it...celebrating the wonders...being part of a team that has succeeded in achieving huge change in both perception and treatment of non-human beings...I was already doing it.

My 'day job' is as much a part of me as my family, the woods, the reiki and the creativity. What a blessing that is. I am an activist and have been for more than a decade and what's more it pays to keep a roof over my family's head. A roof that sits among the woods where I find my inspiration and my answers.

Life is never still or settled. We're either moving forward or backwards. Sideways? I will be learning and changing and reintegrating until the day I die. And, I believe, beyond. But there does, it seems to me, come a time when you know your land, your 'place' in it all and feel deeply, viscerally not simply connected to it but part of it. A contributing, essential part. That's when the adventure really begins. That's when, as the circuit closes on your wholeness, the power surges through the circle.

As good as it would be to know this feeling at 20, 30 or even 40, many people do not. But that doesn't matter. It comes when it comes. We need be only aware and watchful and open to it.

x


* Namaste to my dear Lisa Field-Elliot




Friday, 7 November 2014

Being human


'Only human.' We use it as an excuse for less than stellar behaviour, or perceived weakness in a character. It's a Get Out Of Jail Free card that doesn't really work but maybe gets you a cell with a window. Probably not a widow though, which is what I typed first.

I'm a sucker for dwelling on my own weaknesses. There has never been anyone who is as critical of me as I am. Perhaps I do it to avoid being surprised by how low the opinions of others can be: 'You think I'm 40 feet down? HA! I laugh in the face of your 40 feet assessment, for I know myself to be at least 70 feet down. Therefore, your opinion of me, Sir, is relatively high and I am safe from hurt. I win the Scorn Olympics.'

Thanks to some masterful training from my parents and then the first man I fell in love with, I lived the first 35 years of my life thinking I was pretty damn crap. At everything. Except being with dogs; I was always bloody good at that. Oh, and tap-dancing. The rest? Not so much. In fact, not even a tiny bit.

I started to recognise that perhaps this wasn't serving anyone very well, least of all me, and that maybe if I looked I'd find some redeeming qualities. But I was even crap at not being crap. I was convinced that it was a simple black/white thing. One is either crap, or perfect. So I always failed. 'And she's got the GOLD!'

Dizzying.

Fast forward 15 or so years and I've come a long way. There is much about me that makes me proud. It may not always resonate with other people's standards but that's their issue. I still want, some days, to feel that I am not ever, ever crap. When faced with the fact that sometimes I just am, I can still feel crumbly. I try to accept that I, along with Everyone Else Ever, is wonderfully, magnificently human. There's no 'only' about it. Being human is not an explanation for failure, but rather a reason for being a bright, pulsing, vibrating, hot/cold, good/bad animal. <irony> How utterly perfect. </irony>

My daughter is a perfectionist too. This may be part of her character, a reflected part of mine or even - as is common with children who share her story - the need to be so damn good that no one will ever abandon you again. Fear around that is certainly visceral for her no matter what.

As ever, the teacher is also the student and helping her to recognise and move if not 'past', then 'above' these feelings has been good for me too. And recently I adopted a technique outlined by runner Tim Van Orden. He described how he has started to help himself through negative feelings by literally talking to himself. Out loud, in a gentle, soothing voice. The way you would to a small child. 'It's okay, you're feeling [insert emotion] and I'm not surprised. I understand. But you'll be fine. You're safe. I'm here and I promise it'll all be alright. I love you.' He was so passionate about this that I decided to try it, despite feeling a bit of a fool and bloody hell if it didn't work a treat! Like a dream! So yeah I'm doing it all the time now. Except in public.

Another thing I do a few times a year is ye olde full moone releasing rituale. I'm a big fan of reading up on how others do this and then making your own version, in line with your own truth. I'm doing mine tonight on this second night of the Taurus full moon. Evie - who has participated before - was keen to take part too so we've both made our bundles and will burn one, offer another, this evening. She loves these little ceremonies and I love to share them with her.

Whatever the full moon brought you, have a good weekend.

x




Thursday, 6 November 2014

Wear your magic



It's a phrase that I coined about my tattoos. The ink I wear is very much an expression of inner workings. It sometimes seems to have pushed its way to the surface when the time was right. The paw print - both dog and wolf, the elements, the enso, the tree of life with the crow and wolf, the three dots symbolising whatever trinity I'm focused on at the time...all part of my magic. 

It's what I call on when I need insight, peace, strength or healing. It's the bridge between my human doing and my spiritual being.

Some days the jewellery I wear feels the same way. Each piece means something to me. It symbolises a feeling or carries a memory; beyond precious to me. Although none of it is financially valuable it all gives me power.

Clothes, too, can maketh the woman. For me, favourite linen draped, or soft, layered t-shirts. A perfectly fitting pair of jeans. The boots that put a spring in my step. The big, heavy scarf that wraps me in warmth and and childhood memories of dressing-up.

I love to wear my magic. Even when it looks like muddy wellies. Maybe, as a true 'earth person', especially then! Which reminds me...'Elemental'. I don't know about you but I feel it more as I get older. More aware than ever of the source of things and how I am made of nothing more.  Nor do I need to be. The smell of fallen leaves at this time of year brings it especially close as they mulch down into the earth, softened by rain, or blow spiralling in the air to be gathered into bonfires. All these and the circle of spirit coming together to make Life.

So when I thought about mixing hand-drawn tattoo design with words, for clothing, these were the phrases that first offered themselves. Others followed and will be finished soon but with the glorious full moon lighting up my sign of Taurus today I thought I'd cut the virtual ribbon now.

So here it is. The reinvention of The Art Of Wildness in a slightly different form! I'm loving working on these ideas, there's lots more to come.

x



Friday, 31 October 2014

Samhain


As soon as I attend to my body it settles back and makes space for the rest to come through. At this time of year, everything feels so close anyway. So powerful. As if someone turned the amperage up to eleven. My skin is permanently tingling and I'm definitely hearing the call.

Yesterday I toyed with the idea - after it popped up in a 'you have automatically renewed your domain' email - of just switching back to The Art of Wildness because that's where this pull is coming from. But it's the concept, not the blog. It's never the blog. 

November 1st marks the start of 'my year' at work and I suddenly get a whole new hunk of annual leave to play with. Most is tied up already but I've booked out next week for myself. It may become an annual tradition. I've got lots to do - exciting stuff that I've promised myself will be ready to share at the end of the week - but I'm going to set aside one day for just sitting and listening. Preferably in the woods. Preferably near water. Luckily, we're not short of any of those things. I sometimes feel as if I live at a retreat venue. Heh. A very muddy retreat venue. #Earthwisdom.

Let me know if there's anything you'd like me to take to the trees for you.

x


Monday, 27 October 2014

Monday Motivation



No list of links again this week but rather a personal observation on Why Being Healthy Is Better Than Not Being Healthy. Because clearly science isn't enough.

So, a little experiment that started off as a hormonally-induced fall from grace but well... it's all a bit chicken/egg.

Mid-month we had Evie's birthday party and there was gorgeous pizza and cake and I ate some. It made me feel a bit rough but hey, I'm not putting huge pressure on by being all about denying myself stuff so onwards and upwards. Then later that week, BAM. Hormones from hell. Haven't had that happen in a while. Coincidence or..? And I had two weeks of it to look forward to, and worse, so did Charlie and Evie. I tried, I really did, but by mid-week last week I had caved to the medicinal qualities of a bar of Galaxy (which worked a treat for an hour or so) in the hopes of not having my family change the locks while I was at work. I wouldn't have blamed them. I was watching this Possession by She-Hulk happen, powerless to stop her raging, and horrified.

One bar of chocolate led to several because that's how the sugar roller-coaster works, no? Then a pile of Marmite sandwiches made with sliced white bread because that was what I lived on from 1977 to 1980, pretty much exclusively, and hormonal me believes they make me feel better. See also: filling Twitter with links to Elvis Costello songs. One day I was so befuddled I left my packed lunch at home and even though Charlie heroically drove it over to me, by then I had fallen prey to the office coffee machine's infamous 'cappuccino mix' which is a tasty blend of (it says on the box) milk powder, potato starch (one of my 5 a day?), sugar and mysterious flavourings. It made me feel so sleepy that I had to have another coffee. And another. You see the evil plot?!

Sigh.

At some point during the week, driven half by curiosity and half by gargantuan levels of self-justification, high on sugar, dairy and assorted crap, I decided to roll with it and see what happened and how quickly.

I know.

The results are in and it's not pretty.

  1. After weeks without needing them I had to take two migraine pills over the weekend.
  2. Let's not talk about my digestive system.
  3. I am kinda...itchy, all over.
  4. I have not run in eight days yet every joint in my body - the same joints that do not hurt when I run - is giving me gyp today. My hips, my back, my arms. Oh and I have toothache.
  5. My mental processes are shot to near ADHD-like levels.
  6. I think I am absolutely the worst person on earth.
  7. What's the point in anything?
  8. I just want to go to bed and stay there.
  9. Sinuses. 'Nuff said.
  10. I am four pounds heavier than I was 10 days ago. FOUR POUNDS.

I have read that for many people, clearing out the rubbish from your diet - especially foods for which you have an intolerance <cough>dairy</cough> - reintroducing them in anything more than minute amounts can be a bit of a knockout blow. Friends, I am here to say that I agree. I am, metaphorically for now anyway, on the floor. Throwing in the towel.

I want my shiny good health and energy back. Because I know it's there now. I know it's only a matter of eating 100% plant-based and letting my body move for a week before I feel all shiny again.

So that's the motivation for this coming week. And the next. And the next. I think I may be well on the way to understanding, finally, that the whole chocolate/dairy/sugar thing is not 'A Treat'. It's way more of 'A Threat'. 

Here's a good link: if you're interested in trying out the healthy stuff you could do a whole lot worse than get yourself over to FMTV.com where they're offering a 10 day free trial of their subscription programme. FMTV has a whole range of health and wellness films and documentaries (not to mention books, interviews, classes etc). I highly recommend this one as a starter, it's much much better than the trailer would perhaps have you think.

Have a great week. x




Saturday, 25 October 2014

Returning



New moon, new weather, new time...and yet it's not is it? It's all simply another turn around. A return.

As the trees drop their leaves so we drop many of the ways in which we receive mental, spiritual and even physical nourishment from outside ourselves. Our 'sap' drops and we turn inwards to build with the strength we've gathered. That's how it feels to me. I find peace in that rhythm. I look forward to the winter dreaming - winter and North are, I feel, my home and now that I've realised that and learned how to 'do' winter naturally for me, it's a special time.

Last night I felt the urge to journey. That's something I haven't done in months, since last spring in fact. Not properly. I somehow lost the ability to do it. To find that space and my guides. So last night I didn't know what to expect but felt very much as though I'd been left strict instructions to call home.

I have to say it was a powerful experience and completely unpredictable, except for the fact that it was the wolves who were waiting for me. I wonder why it is that my experience takes this form. I suppose there could be some other world that we can access in times of deep peace. Or maybe my personal filters shape 'Whatever It Is' as wolves because I like them. Or, my theory: in the Oneness, the thread of life that is me-shaped, is close to wolf-shaped threads so communication between us is relatively easy. Who knows? Not us. I just go with it and listen.

What with this and a few other things this week I feel a bit as if I'm back at Spirit University and have just gone through a week of intense learning with many years yet to go. The summer has been so good to me - I bring new resources and new vitality to the table (desk?).

The (r)evolution of me is not about turning things upside down and rebuilding; it's about the turning through the wheel and growth towards the best version of me I can muster. Growth that will continue my whole human life and beyond. I welcome The Autumn Practice.




Thursday, 23 October 2014

Active-ist



Today is the first day of Evie's half-term break so mornings will be a little calmer for a week or so. It's much needed by all of us. I found my favourite field to be empty this morning (that's it above, mid-afternoon) so, while Dooley and Zo ran around, I stood and paid my respects to the directions and the All-Spirit in the way I did here, daily, at this time last year. Maybe it will become a habit again, I hope so, but I'm realistic about how I've yet to adjust to getting up early enough to do it. Our clocks go back this weekend and I've no idea if that will help or hinder my efforts! Either way, it was and is a wonderful way to start the day.

I'm halfway through reading Active Hope and enjoying it even more than I'd thought I would. It's accessible, clear, inspiring and exactly what I need right now. I wanted lessons in advocacy and here, in their gentle, intelligent words, I get to spend time with two of the best: Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who feels overwhelmed by 'the state of things' and the pain we see around us.

It's easy - because it's the part of the online world in which I used to spend a lot of time - for me to fall into the trap of thinking that unless I'm creating and offering an online course, holding in-person circles, coaching or marching on Westminster then I am not being of service. And serving is important to me. 

I still believe that - to use the old Robert Ingersoll line - 'we rise by lifting others'. I am full of admiration for those who do it via the methods I've mentioned but they aren't a fit for me. So what is? I think about this stuff all the time. Am I crazy or do you do it too? Or both? Heh.

As an example, the vegan movement is a very interesting place these days - more and more people (12% of the adult population in the UK) are choosing a vegetarian diet and then finding they're inspired to take it to the next level. Even if you put some of it down to passing trends, there seems to be a genuine shift towards being mindful of how and who/what we eat. With so many people trying to be conscious about how they live, I am still surprised that so few of them extend that consciousness to their plates, however there are inspiring people embodying the vegan philosophy in a gentle, compassionate way, just leading by example and I do believe change is building momentum because of this. 

Recurring themes in the New (Un)Campaigning are, to use veganism as a model:

  • Add to your plate, don't take away (don't deny pleasure, add new ones)
  • Your palate will change of its own accord (such is my belief in the beneficial results of this that I trust it will raise your vibration to a point where you no longer crave the old ways)
  • You are helping others while you help yourself (it's okay to just think about yourself) (Not everyone needs this one but many do. I am trying to learn not to judge that.)
  • You will hardly notice the difference in taste (don't panic, the actual change involved for you is minimal)
  • It's really easy  to be healthy these days (you don't have to do much)
  • I'm not perfect (you don't need to be perfect)
  • Days when you eat cheese are okay (you're not going to hell if you go back to the old ways now and then)
  • Make changes slowly, this isn't 'A Diet' (it's a practice)
  • Be kind to yourself too (be kind to yourself too)

That's a pretty good list. Personally, I have to add in that there are days when I am not compassionate and not flexible and I want to Hulk-Smash All The Things That Hurt Animals which is rubbish of me and a bit this minus the irony, but is also my truth at the moment. So I turn to that last bullet point and I take a deep breath, acknowledge the pain and its cause, practice self-compassion and remind myself a battering ram does not work any better than the battering of rams (see what I did there?). While that kind of fire burns, the planet and all its inhabitants suffer. 

To practice Active Hope is - put simply - to visualise/imagine the world as you hope it could be and then actively go about trying to make that happen around you. Step by step, person by person, thought by thought. Yep...be the change. I am working on having that as my model of service.












Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday Motivation

I had all sorts of things lined up for this post today but then something I saw on the way into work pushed them all aside. I was driving along one of those fast roads that run between villages and towns, full of people who drive that route every day and so do it much too fast. It's almost but not quite straight and currently covered in mud. The traffic braked as we approached a 'Police Slow' sign.

We all filed past a car in the ditch - nose down, windows smashed, lots of police tape and policemen - and (thankfully) standing next to it was a young man. I'd say he was about 18 or 19. He was clearly physically unhurt but wild-eyed with shock.

What really grabbed me was that a woman, I'm guessing his mother, was standing behind him. Shorter than him by a good few inches, she had her arms wrapped as tight as she could make them around his shoulders and chest. She was pale with fright and her face was a study in sheer, undiluted gratitude. There was another car pulled in, undamaged, a few feet away, and I imagined this boy crashing his car and instantly calling his mum who called the police and then got there to his side within moments.

My heart knotted and my eyes filled as I continued on past, deep in appreciation for all the love in my life. There's so much stuff around me, tangible and otherwise, that I could lose and it would really not matter. I am blessed to know and understand that I also live in the presence of great love and that here and now, today, I have so very much to hold close and be grateful for. That's all the motivation I need.


1. This land  2. My loves, my team  3. Time in nature  4. My wild child
5. Introspection  6. My boy  7. Home  8. Friends
9. My girl  10. Wearing my magic  11. Home  12. Jackson, who would've been 16 yesterday
13. Home  14. Sacred Natural  15. Nourishment  16. Joy

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Saturday

  • A walk in the dark with heavy rain but a breeze several degrees warmer than it 'should' be.
  • Tea and dog snuggles on the kitchen sofa.
  • Obsessing about this girl , Dooley's sister-from-another-mister. Watching her videos and seeing how exactly like him she is. Wishing we had room for sweet Dixie. Do you know anyone who would love the dream dog that is a Staffie x Lab?
  • Homemade soup means that at least once a week I get to pour fresh vegetables and pulses into Evie, who adores it.
  • Planning a trip to our local town, Corsham for art supplies and the only vegan cheese worth eating. Evie wants to buy a pirate eye patch. Watch out for the peacocks (unrelated to pirate eye patches. I think.)
  • Designing t-shirts. Yeah, that's a thing now. Watch this space.
  • Sneaking looks at my new hair.
  • Later: Doctor Who, The Code and maybe a small glass of red.






Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Overflowing


I just met the man who is updating the authoritative book on Wiltshire's historic buildings. He came to look at the outside wall of our kitchen, specifically to photograph this stone which stands from the ground to about chest height on me. I'd always thought it had been taken from the ruins of the old manor house and just added into some repairs here for decorative value. Wrong. The truth is much more interesting.

I'd already known that where our house stands there was an old mill that was recorded in the Domesday Book almost a thousand years ago. I'd also assumed that our building had replaced it some hundreds of years later. But no! It seems this building - though now heavily repaired (not so heavily in some parts, I have to say) - was the mill. This stone was actually a decorative overflow because the mill was an 'undercut mill'. This means that the water came from the manor's moat, at that time running further than its current position and along in front of our house (which is built on a slope), and ran beneath our front garden and under our kitchen where the mill wheel sat. Exactly where I'm sitting right now! If the water rose too fast or too high, this stone would allow the building to drain. Obviously when the mill closed for business, it was bricked up from the inside forming the wall behind our kitchen sink. Hence the ugly plastic grey pipe in the middle photo. Our visitor told me that our corner of the building - which makes up our home and our neighbours' - with its higgledy piggledy stone wall, is more than a thousand years old. The rest has been patched and repaired and is probably 'only a few hundred years old'. The manor itself was rebuilt in the 15th Century. Virtually a New Build.

The geopathic and feng shui take on living above underground water is pretty much all bad. I don't think that applies to us. We have none of the telltale signs - in fact life flourishes here - and I believe the underwater stream that fed the mill was manmade and blocked when the moat was filled back. 

We recently had a friend of Charlie's visit - he's a scientist and ecological consultant who is, as far as I'm aware, not given to metaphysical musings. He declared that our house has 'a lovely feel to it, spiritually.' Probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about our home. And one I'm not about to disgree with. Discovering this new part of its story makes me love it even more.


Monday, 13 October 2014

Monday Motivation



It's been a week of birthday, and birthday party planning and doing, with not much room for much else besides the basics and an assault on E's bedroom that went beyond the call of duty. I didn't run and - as I have discovered is my way when I don't let my body move - I ate badly. Over the weekend there may have been party food. There may have been a slice of pizza and some cake. Pesto; there was non-vegan pesto. I know it's hardly deep-fried Mars bars but still, it's made me feel physically horrible, I mean really horrible, even down to a mysterious black eye that I woke up with this morning. What's THAT about?

So this week is back to health because frankly, I bloody love it. I also have other things going on that I'm looking forward to so here, for today's MM, are just a few things I'm seeing along the way.

My collection of ink pins
No, not a typo, a Pinterest board. My next tattoo is in the planning stages and as I'm designing it and it's quite complex, it's also slow-moving. My tattoos are all about wearing my magic and this one will be the biggest example of that so much care is being taken. Inspiration is often found on my trusty Pinterest boards.

And yes another one
On Thursday I'm going dahn the 'airdressers' and having my hairs did. Tired of dyeing my hair to cover up the grey/white (and hating that it just doesn't take properly anymore and I end up looking like, as a friend once said of herself, Severus Snape. Even with a Lightest Ash Brown.) but not inclined to cut it all off and start again, I'm having the lightest possible, ashiest possible, 'grey' highlights put in gradually over the next few months so that I can eventually just stop and let my own (lack of) colour take over. I am very excited. This feels like a major piece in stepping up into this stage of my life and fully owning it. However, I'll admit to a slight pang when I said to the colourist at our consultation,'Oh it may still be quite brown at the back, I can't see..' and she replied, 'Yeeeeaaah...no.' Apparently, my white hair is now 'universal'. Who am I to argue with the universe? I've picked up a whole lot of new followers on this board too so clearly, there's a lot of us wannabe Deny The Dye-ers about.

The Nonhuman Rights Project
I have a great interest in this work. I believe it's a truth that is ready to be embraced by the wider world and once that happens, it opens the door to all sorts of questions and concepts that could really change who we are as a species. In a good way.

Running a faster 5k
Without the structure and impetus of the C25k programme I'm finding it all too easy to excuse myself from running. 'It's too cold/wet/dark', 'I'll do it tomorrow','I get bored'. So there's a new plan in town. 5k again, but faster. With some hill work. This training schedule will help.

The Long Barrow
I have no plans for leaving this life anytime soon but I love love love this project and would dearly like to reserve a space. Bit morbid? I don't think so. I love my part of the world for all the ancient sites and have been fascinated with the burial mounds and, specifically, the West Kennet Long Barrow since I was a kid. I have plans to take Evie to (re)visit as many as we can get to over the next year.

That's it.
x




Thursday, 9 October 2014

Within our reach


2014 has, so far, been an important year for me. From the peaceful dream-magic of winter; the new life of spring that came accompanied by failing health; a summer full of rediscovered strength and uncovered power and now autumn...settling in to questions about healing and how we play our part in enabling it to happen.

My health is good but my father's is failing. I'm finding this hard to deal with because our relationship is so...so...US. And I worry there may not be time to ensure he knows that, despite it all, I love him and even if I tell him, within a couple of days he won't remember the conversation. There is still hope that he can regain some strength and clarity but today has been tough. He has fear in his eyes and, as usual, I want to fix it for him. Fix him. Fix bloody everything. 

I can't of course. 

In a response to Mel's post yesterday I wrote"I think all we can do for now is love what we can reach, and call out to like-minded souls in the hope our hands will meet one day." An hour or so later I opened up Pinterest and saw, at the top of my feed, a quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes which read,"Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach." Not gonna lie. Felt pretty damn validated. Heh.

I believe I am finally ready to learn how to use reiki as one of the ways I can love. The issues that held me back - quite rightly because I would have made a poor practitioner with a heart that held doubt - are resolved. I have learned, am learning, am shedding the need for certainty. So the last quarter of this year will be given in part to studying to be a reiki master. Then I just need to do it for a few decades in order to achieve mastery. Maybe! A large part of this is letting go of the need to fix. I cannot bear suffering and the urge to just STOP it is strong. I don't believe I should eradicate that trait but I need to make room for other outcomes, other ways, other possibilities.

I will try to simply love what I can reach - including my father - and believe that it makes a difference even if I don't get to witness it.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Monday Motivation



This week I've been remembering my own motivation from times past and how it hasn't always taken the form I might have expected.

Back in '97 I'd moved into a house that my brother had just bought. He was newly single, I was long term single and I wanted out of the house share I was in. I also wanted a dog. Badly. The first day in my new home I got in my car and brought my Nellie Bean home. Ten months old, skin and bone. The house didn't have a garden so we went out five times a day to the fields. Every day I'd see a woman in the distance. She had a young baby in a back pack and two big goofy mutts of indefinable origin bounding around with her. At this point I harboured absolutely no thoughts of motherhood or even a relationship, and I was more than busy with just one dog, but something in me reacted in the sweetest way whenever I saw her. Some part of me knew, on a deep level, that I would be that woman. I did nothing (consciously) to move in that direction. I didn't (consciously) think about her beyond our daily encounter. And yet, ten years later there I was, in a field with a baby in a backpack and two mutts of indefinable origin at my feet. Nowadays the baby is running around and the dogs are different but I'm still doing it. And it's like some kind of fixed point in an otherwise fairly random life. A point I was supposed to reach. I don't know who she was, we never spoke or even acknowledged each other, but I think of that woman at least a couple of times a week, nearly twenty years later. She was a quiet motivation that drove a part of me I wasn't then in touch with. Something in me recognised her and maybe saw my future self.

In a lesser ways there have been other instances. Soon after we moved to Chalfield I started to see women out running with their dogs. Two women, to be precise. And again, whenever I saw them, something would stir deep down even though at that time I had no thoughts of ever running (I believed I hated to run) and neither Nell or Jackson would have taken to or coped with it. But something stuck. When I adopted Dooley I told the woman who owns the sanctuary he lived at that I wanted to run with him, despite the fact I still believed I hated running. Why did I say that? And now, I'm 'That woman who runs with her dog up at Chalfield' and it feels like coming home.

About three months ago I saw another woman, again running in the lanes around my home. She is, I'd guess, in her sixties, lean and fit, runs comfortably with a smile on her face and she has long silver grey hair that she wears in a plait down her back. She is so beautiful and vital. And I get that feeling that being an older woman who runs with a smile on her face and silver hair down her back is in my future. I know it the same way I would if someone sent me a photograph from from 2024 because thanks to the woman with the baby and two mutts, and the women running with their dogs, and possibly other women over the years before I was even vaguely self-aware, I now recognise that kind of motivation. That kind that is part longing, part recognition. The kind that is a lighthouse guiding you home. I see it, hear it, sooner these days and use it to steer my course.

Meanwhile I keep a part of me on the look-out for the next beacon. And I quietly wonder if it is, in a way, all a bit timey-wimey, and if some young woman with an awesome scrappy puppy and no plans saw me with Evie, Nell and Jackson back in '07 and felt something smile in her heart. Wouldn't that be grand?


*beautiful photo of Nellie Bean - an infinite beacon in her own right - by the equally luminous Pen of McKinley-Rodgers Photography.


Friday, 3 October 2014

Making space



Some weeks you sit and take stock, feel gratitude, build your resources and simply enjoy. Others you move forwards on your path.

Remember this post where I said:
But I believe there comes a point when the actions of many individuals [i.e., child trafficking, animal abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, slavery, mass deforestation etc], over time, reach a tipping point and the result takes on its own form. It becomes an entity in itself...It exists on a societal, cultural, historical level within the collective consciousness. It has moved from being an intention within the minds of individuals to an actual entity...It is arguable that it is now a disease within the universal body...Here's what else I'm thinking: if these tangles of stagnant, twisted energy ... are in the collective consciousness then maybe the most effective 'untangler' is a healing collective.
A few days ago I got a newsletter from astrologer Sarah Varcas in which she said:
We begin October with Uranus and Chiron highlighting the need to find new ways to both accommodate and heal woundedness at the personal and collective levels. They have been working together on this issue since June, simultaneously exposing where we are most wounded and offering tools to further the process of healing and the embodiment of wholeness. The first week of October plays out against the backdrop of a square between Mars and Chiron which reminds us that the imperative to heal comes hand in hand with the responsibility to do so not for our own personal gain but to ultimately bring the collective back into a state of balance. The healing which occurs in our minds and hearts, bearing fruit in our own lives, is simply a tiny microcosm of the rebalancing required in the collective consciousness to which we each add our own unique resonance. 
Hell yeah. And when I wrote that post I heard that inner voice tell me,'You know how you contribute to this. You know what works through you. You can already do it.' And so kicked off Round 37 in my love/hate relationship with reiki. Because it's true. I have always thought that how reiki works is to clear/untangle the route of Life energy, and on both a personal and collective scale. So why haven't I been doing it?

Really, really stupid reasons.

  • I don't like the Reiki Biz. (No one's asking you to take part.)
  • There are loads of 'practitioners' out there who don't know their reiki arse from their reiki elbow. (You don't need to be one of them.)
  • Where's the proof it works? (Are you kidding me? You've seen and felt it many times. Whaddya want...a BBC documentary?)
  • How does it work? (Who cares? We don't know yet. So what?)
  • What if it's a load of hokum? I'll look like an idiot. (Already happening.)
  • I think westerners using Japanese healing techniques is like totally cultural misappropriation, Dude. (WTF? So you'd never do yoga either? Yeah, no, thought so. See bullet point above.)
  • 'Reiki People' are the kind of New Agers who make me squirm. (Get over yourself; you read astrology newsletters and wear a crystal you judgemental git.)

Yeah. I'm proud of myself.

As I started to look at reiki again I came across an interview with Pamela Miles and she was speaking my language. I bought her book and it's pure gold. I was already feeling right at home when I came to this bit:
Reiki might be involved in the alignment of quantum events. Enhancing order in the quantum underpinning of material reality might lead to what physicists call a 'phase change', a minuscule adjustment that tips the scales to a discernible change such as happens when water freezes to ice.
'Enhancing order', ya say? Count me in. Pamela also talks about reiki not being an 'energy' in itself - like the chi, ki and prana it is frequently likened to - but instead more of a vibration or pulsation that works on subtle levels of a bio-field to break down (what I refer to as) 'tangles'. This is such a great description of my experience and one that I couldn't have expressed myself.

These days I am less attached to an outcome or measurable proof. I am happy with possibility, the 'what if', and healing too slow for my human awareness to see it. I no longer believe in a right or wrong way to practice reiki because all I need to do is be present, witness with compassion, and be open to it. I don't see reiki as a 'healing technique', but more as a meditation-type practice that smooths out tangles. It makes space for healing, just as yoga and meditation do. My doubts about the ease with which it can be taught and practiced are gone because the whole beauty of reiki is that it is easy to learn and practice.

It looks as if Round 37 may be the final round and one that ends in love. As is only fitting.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

No brainer


That spot, right there, is where I finished my first proper 5k about 30 minutes ago. I'll be honest, I've had a bit of a mental block about it. I finished the Couch to 5k training over a week ago and discovered that although I'd been running the times the app gives you, I wasn't covering the distance because I'm what's known in elite athletic circles as A Very Slow Runner. I wasn't far off but I hadn't done the five. I was excited to do it two days after I finished C25k but then, for some reason I don't remember, I couldn't run that day. And doubt set it. Then Evie wanted to run with me after being picked for her class cross country team and she can't run too far yet so I had another excuse. A week passed with me doing only two very short runs. I felt rubbish. My body wanted to run, my spirit wanted to run but my mind was sabotaging it. In the end my mind had to resort to old tricks to 'sedate' the other parts of me and I drank too much coffee (it saps my energy and makes me drowsy...what can I tell you) and yesterday ate some sweets. Classic.

But nowadays I don't cave so easily. I don't beat myself up for these bumps in the road. I know they can't stop me. They don't matter. I got ready to run this morning and told myself it was fine to do whatever I wanted. Five minutes or forty five. Whatever. Dooley was hyperexcited so he came too and we set out. I thought we'd make maybe 3k after a week of inactivity and some bad fuelling. We did get to 3k. Then we got to 4k just as we completed the circuit back to the garden gate and suddenly I thought,'Do I want to think of today as the day I did 4k which isn't bad and is 4/5ths of 5k? Or do I want to think of it as The Day I Ran 5K?'. No brainer. Literally. I ignored the brain and let the body and spirit choose. We kept going and we did 5k. And it was bloody awesome.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Monday Motivation

Just a single link today because it's super powerful.
Have a good week.
x


Monday Motivation


'We have to really not be afraid of feeling pain for our world. And where it comes from is love. Our love for this world.'
~ Joanna Macy 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Clean, but not always shiny



Some weeks just seem to happen in Technicolor, do you know what I mean? Events in the world around me and in my personal life have sharpened my senses to a point where I can smell, feel, taste All The Things. Maybe it was the new moon. Maybe not. It hasn't been easy. Thankfully I am grounded in the world I wrote about here and have never felt more secure.

There's no mistaking the fact that I can be fiery - Venus and Jupiter conjunct in Aries, Mars sextile to them in Leo - and when I feel the need to defend myself or loved ones I tend to launch into warrior mode. #wolf.

I came across a quote from Maya Angelou: 'Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.' Oh how that fire has burned, but I do feel clean. Perhaps these powerful and painful cleanses are necessary as we grow through our lives and our true faces are revealed. Even to ourselves.

I do my best to be honest here. I started blogging again because I wanted to record some life changes I was making and share any successes I've had or inspiration that I tap into. I value beauty - tangible and notional - as it eases tangles on all levels, so I really love blogs and sites that present things that way. I try to share the things that sooth my senses and make my heart feel strong, here and on Instagram. I hope it's understood and seen that there is the mundane, messy, held-together-with-tape-and-good-intentions side to it all too.

There's barely a day goes by that I don't have an argument with either Charlie and/or Evie. Dooley, in his enthusiasm to snog me, broke one of my front teeth the other day (now we match). Zoey lives entirely by her own whims and has never in nearly three years 'done as she's told'. Both the dogs eat large amounts of sheep poo on a daily basis (cross reference: the Staffie enthusiasm for snogging). My mother drives me insane. My father and I speak maybe three times a year. I adore them both. Evie is by no means unaffected by her early history. Our cottage is rented and falling apart. During the winter this glorious patch of land is 90% mud and shit and large parts of it end up in my living room rug (which I got as a freebie after photographing it for the Argos Pinterest pages a couple of years ago).

If you've followed my blogs for long you'll know that I write about this stuff too. Because I credit anyone out there reading it with understanding that a good life need not be Photoshopped and edited. I'll post a picture of me looking like crap after a night in a tent because you know I scrub up okay when I want to and who cares anyway? I'll post a picture of my dirty washing-up on a cheap worktop because there's one of a beautiful sunrise right next to it and again, who cares anyway? And now that dirty washing-up is done.

This is real. Real as fuck. And I love it. And that's my happy ending to this story.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

From the heart



The kitchen is quiet bar the sound of two snoring dogs. A soft rain is falling outside onto the brilliant red of the Virginia creeper that threads through the trees in the garden. Birds flit in and out of it to grab sunflower seeds from our feeder. Peace.

Last night's new moon had me thinking about what I'm carrying into Autumn and I am astounded, still, at how much I  love my life. How happy it makes me.

Charlie and I have been together 13 years now. We met 12 years before that, briefly. I knew the moment I looked into his eyes that he was for me except then, he wasn't. Couldn't. But I look in his eyes now and I still know he's for me. He is the activist in the family. The man who wears his big heart on his sleeve and follows it at any cost. Yeah...a Leo. We have navigated perilous waters over the years and sometimes come close to drowning but we are for each other and we always will be. He is one of my greatest teachers and I love him. Especially on the rare days when he drives me insane.

I first saw Evie's face in a tiny photo eight years ago this week. In that moment, in the unromantic surroundings of a decrepit council building in Chippenham, next to the photocopy machine, she went from complete stranger to my true soulmate. I speak only from my own experience but trust me when I say, your child is your child is your child however they come to you. I'm crying writing this because sometimes I just overflow with the love of her. She is the strongest, fiercest, most loving, most fascinating person I know and I get to be her real mother.

Dooley, the black dog who told me he was on the path to me two years before he arrived, my four-legged angel. Zoey, who has taught me the nature of healing in so many ways. (They are lying together on a cushion now, nose to nose, playing.)

My family. Parents, step-parents, my beloved sister-aunt, step-daughter (when she's home from uni), three brothers, sister, nieces, nephews...all within 30 minutes of this kitchen. We are not a family that spends all hours in each other's company - maybe because we're so geographically close - but we love each other hugely. We've all settled here. Near.

This crooked, shabby little cottage. A converted grain mill, hundreds of years old. Inhabited by us and (other) wildlife. So much a part of the landscape now that it's almost a tree. Full of light and air in the summer; dark, warm and cave-like in the winter. I watch the clouds of rooks and jackdaws fly around us in the late evening and the knowledge that generations among them were born in our house, in the chimney, makes my heart sing. Crow family, always.

The land we live on. A mix of National Trust property and privately-owned land. Woods, streams and fields that allow me to sit and listen, talk, learn with them. It covers about two square miles and in that space live 26 people, six of them children. Among them are farmers, artists, teachers, musicians, ecologists, photographers, activists.

My job. I work for a non-profit working internationally on behalf of marine mammals. Our passion is ethics, and achieving legal status, non-human personhood for cetaceans.

And in all this abundance I get to feel strong and alive. Loved and loving. Alight with all the what ifs of it all.

All of this empowers me when I move out in the world - physically or virtually. I channel all of this because I am all of this. When I stand in front of you I am human/dog/tree/stone/stream/crow/love. Some may choose to see my life as small but that is simply not possible. I am part of the vastness and in peace, no tangles, I feel it flow through me and on to whoever or whatever is next to me.

Choose carefully to what and to whom you stand close. Choose what you channel. The world is full of beauty when you see that the decision is yours.




Monday, 22 September 2014

Monday Motivation



Why shouting quietly gets you heard
Sarah Corbett of @Craftivists is an introvert activist who uses her crafting superpowers to support the causes she believes in. She's gone onto create a movement here in the UK that is inspiring, as is this presentation.

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 2
Just as Louise Hay is responsible for introducing me to healing, so Joe Cross is the guy who sold me on juicing with his 2010 documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Pity I didn't actually see it until 2012. Now FSAND2 is out and I won't be waiting that long this time. Joe's as real as they come and I enjoyed this recent talk he did for MindBodyGreen.

Terrallectualism
I'm thinking you either read Mel's blog or you are indeed...Mel, so you may already be aware of wonderful place she linked to recently: Terrallectualism. Great writing. My people. Thanks Mel and thanks Mary.

Deep In The Far Away
Sarah of knitting the wind has begun this project to support her daughter's sports fund and I just love the way she's doing it. That is all.

Micro-sanctuaries
I have a constant debate in my head over having chickens in our garden. For the idea, I have the fact that they'd have a lovely home, Evie and Charlie might have eggs, I adore chickens and we all really loved our girls when they were with us. Chicken energy is good energy. But then, we lost them to a fox raid in broad daylight. It was traumatic for Evie and me and must have been horrific for our sweet girls. I don't think I could face bringing chooks home again to an almost certain death sentence. That said, our neighbours have had theirs for almost two years now with no losses. The third of our three cottages has a duck and a guinea fowl who have been around for years (the guinea fowl is the unofficial Chalfield mascot but deserves a blog post of his own). Maybe..? I got as far as buying the makings of a secure run last summer. And finding a nice coop that I repainted. It has sat empty ever since. Dilemma. Of course Justin's story has me spinning again because it's so far up my street it's actually sitting on my sofa.

Which reminds me to mention that the photograph above is of the geese at Norrington Common, on what I laughingly call my 'commute' (I know..sucks to be me). It's an old-fashioned patch of common land and is home to geese, chickens, guinea fowl (many many guinea fowl; I suspect no one sleeps in Norrington) and three generations of  the 'Norrington cows', all three of whom we've seen from birth to adulthood. There's no hurrying past of a morning, these guys couldn't care less about cars.


.~.~.~.~.~.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish
humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only
by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of
each honest worker."
~ Helen Keller


Saturday, 20 September 2014

'I have my ways of praying, as you no doubt have yours.'



"Ordinarily I go to the woods alone,
with not a single friend,
for they are all smilers and talkers
and therefore unsuitable.
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree.
I have my ways of praying,
as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone
I can become invisible.
I can sit on the top of a dune
as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned.
I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me,
I must love you very much."
Mary Oliver, How I Go Into the Woods 

Friday, 19 September 2014

The run that wasn't but then was


After last night's epic storm the air over the fields is like soup. I'm supposed to run 2.7 miles today as part of the C25K training I'm doing. It's my penultimate run. But a sleepless night, some desk hours at the office and, I'll admit, one too many coffees this morning are making me feel less like running and more like having a nap.

Then on the drive home I notice something. I can feel energy in my body. Lots of it. It's banging on the doors to get out, and making me feel powerful! So I tell myself,'Okay, I'll get home and head out for maybe 20 minutes. Not do the training run, just let my muscles move. Pick it up tomorrow.'

By the time I'm changed I'm thinking,'Well I'll do to the end of the Chalfield track and back. 25 minutes or so. Won't time it. Not a proper run.'

Then,'I'll take the phone and see how long it takes me. Just out of interest. Cos I'm not doing a proper run.'

I warm-up on the mini-trampoline (top tip there, folks) and Dooley is giving me the Can We Just Get On With It Stare. Post-stretches I'm at,'Well let's start the app anyway. See how far we can go. I can reset it afterwards. We can take walk breaks. Walk breaks are fine. Cos I'm not doing a proper run.'

Only once I start I don't want to take a walk break. It's all, 'Let's see how long before I want a walk break. Cos I'm not doing a proper run.'

And then I'm at the end of the track telling myself I'm turning back now. I am. I'm turning back now. Only I can't. I keep running, putting Doo on his lead as we get out on the lane. I run past the halfway alert and turn a while later, thinking,'Cool... but I'll probably walk some of the way home. Cos I'm not...etc, etc...'

There's no walking. I just can't. There's Old Me, throwing in the get-outs and the good reasons for them but New Me simply isn't listening. She's not stopping 'til it's done. And she doesn't. I don't. I settle into my body and feel every twinge, every breath and every footfall. It is nothing short of wonderful.

We run through soup and I sweat like a lunatic. And we do a proper run.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thoughts from the hermit cave


I've been spending a lot of time in my internal hermit's cave this week. I've installed a big ol' blackboard to scribble on and, if you're remotely interested, here's where I'm at at the whole advocacy/activism/spiritual health thing. As ever, it's an ongoing process but writing it down here helps me clarify and remember.

I've been thinking about healing and how we get to the core of it. As I wrote in my last overly long post, I see negativity as tangles in the flow of universal energy. This week I've been reading (finally) and enjoying The Untethered Soul. In this, Michael Singer tells of the Hindu concept of samskaras which, to put it very simply, are balls of trapped energy created by our reactions to things. They stay with us in our energy field and affect how we see things from that point on. They are in effect, the 'buttons' that get pushed, the sore points and maybe, eventually, actual disease. To heal them we need to step back into our core consciousness, away from the on-board computer of our mind, witness their activity without judgment and let them go with love. That is how we - to use my terminology - 'untangle' them. Obviously this is a theory I can get behind because it's the same as mine! I know. Hinduism is darn lucky to have me.

I think most of us have been aware of this truth for a long time. Maybe we dabbled in Buddhism and non-attachment at some point or maybe we just intuitively knew that "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." No argument from me, that's for sure.

Still, I finished the book and found myself thinking that all the examples given within, and in so many other places, only apply to internal issues. I mean, of course this is the way to deal with our personal triggers. Of course we need to recognise our personal filters and work to clear them. But what about external matters?

I'm not talking about other people's issues. Again, that's a matter of individual choice. But I believe there comes a point when the actions of many individuals, over time, reach a tipping point and the result takes on its own form. It becomes an entity in itself. For example, let's take the issue of child trafficking. The individuals who perpetuate this particular evil have their own tangles and I could decide that I want to try to heal all of them but let's face it, they need to do it themselves or it won't work and I'm probably not going to be able to fit it in around my day job and the laundry. But...at this point Child Trafficking has taken on its own form. It exists on a societal, cultural, historical level within the collective consciousness. It has moved from being an intention within the minds of individuals to an actual entity. A samskara in and of itself.  It is arguable that it is now a disease within the universal body and I'm not simply going to ignore that disease just because it's ugly and messy.

What if this might be something we can heal? Maybe. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to give it a punt.

So how do we do it? Can we employ the same methods of non-judgmental witnessing and releasing with love? Darned if I know, but it sounds like a good start given that any actual change may take anything from 30 seconds to 30,000 years.

Here's what else I'm thinking: if these tangles of stagnant, twisted energy - child trafficking, animal abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, slavery, mass deforestation ... - are in the collective consciousness then maybe the most effective 'untangler' is a healing collective.

And who makes up that collective? Well that's where it gets exciting...



Monday, 15 September 2014

Monday Motivation



This weekend I was mostly motivated by wanting to spend time with Evie. We book-shopped, we checked out historical buildings, we planned her birthday party, we boot sale-d, we had a row (we do that quite a bit) and made up, we watched Doctor Who (okay, so that was for me) and we spent two nights in the tent in the garden with hot chocolate, popcorn and a good book. That's pretty much going to keep me powered up for the week.

There's also this stuff:

Jonathan Fields on the RRP
I was already aware of Jonathan Fields through the Good Life Project and his other work but this interview really told me much more about him. What a cool guy.

Choosing Raw
I'm finding  that I really love to eat raw these days and hope to keep it up over the winter even if it's as a smaller part of the whole. I really like Gena's blog.

Breathe Sync
Checking out the DO Lectures again I came across this fascinating app, Breathe Sync. Totally buying it. Also, it turns out that just as I'm looking for a good local yoga class, the guy who developed the app - Michael Townsend Williams - lives just down the road from us and teaches yoga in our local town.

Approaching the Natural
I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Sid Garza-Hillman's podcast and I've finally bought his book, Approaching the Natural. It's a great read: full of information and thought-provoking ideas, all presented in Sid's trademark mix of dry humour and professional expertise (he's a qualified nutritionist and wellness coach amongst other things). It's all the better for being able to 'hear' it in Sid's voice so I recommend the podcasts as well as the book - it's just a good recipe. Also, you can sign up for Sid's occasional updates at his website and get the first chapter of his book for free before you decide whether or not to buy.