#30 Grateful for The Practice of Surrender

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When i first read about the act of surrender I couldn’t get my head around it.  Say if I’m having an argument and I surrender, surly I am giving my power away to the other person by saying ‘sure, you go ahead and do or say whatever it is you want to say or do and I’ll just surrender to whatever you want as I have read this to be a healthy thing to do’.

Firstly, I got the analogy totally wrong as I was lost in the meaning. I was still thinking about myself in relation to other people, thinking about my reaction to them and how my behaviour makes others behave. Letting reaction lead rather than personal action, it’s been a common misplacement of power my whole life and when I first began to understand the concept of ‘waking up’ or living life more consciously I realised just how much I have let the opinions of others guide personal steps.

Now surrender means something entirely different. It means to allow, to relax into the moment and not fight rising sensations. This has been one of the most valuable tools for healing. I have spent a very long time fighting myself. Getting frustrated at the present moment as I’d wanted things to be different. Always different. Like the moment was not quite as I’d wanted it to be. Of course, I now see that everything is exactly as it should be, I had manifested my thoughts perfectly as inside I was fighting. Fight within and without gives you more to fight about. It’s plain and simple, think something and you get more of it. Complain and you get more to moan about. Be dissatisfied and satisfaction doesn’t get a look in, no matter what comes your way, dissatisfaction will take centre stage

“Nope, this is not what I wanted!”

“What did you want?”

“I don’t know, but not this!”

It’s a vicious conversation but one that played over in my head like a badly scripted drama. However it’s never just in the head is it? Every thought, every visual, every feeling is a part of our whole self. Therefore, with each conflicting thought I was having a fist fight under the surface and some part of my body was feeling the brunt. Like I was turning my reality into a boxing match with no end to decide on a winner. Bash, here you go kidneys or thump, take that lower back. You catch my drift.

Surrender eases all this. It releases attachment and that is the medicine right there, letting go. Attachment is illusionary. There really is nothing outside of our being that can satisfy us more than all we are within. Even opinions are formed, usually from words spoken by others. Opinions can feel definite but more often than not opinions will change, they will morph over time and what you once thought to be the absolute truth can eventually feel like a lie. Attachments can be made to a new ideas until a ‘better’ one comes along, one that makes more sense in that moment, until another and then another. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have opinions, I know me too well to know I will continue to have opinions, plenty I’m sure. It’s the attachment that causes the conflict, that you’re right and others are wrong. That is what I am looking out for, the certainty and righteousness that attachment can bring.

To me, surrender is like the balm that moistens the skin before attachment buries into my pores. It has allowed me to observe myself in the moment rather than hold onto feelings and continue the story of ‘My entire being is this feeling I am feeling right now’. That was a crappy story and only had crappy endings. If a feeling arises, my best bet is to surrender to it. I don’t need to fight it as I know it won’t last. It doesn’t need a huge amount of energy invested as it is just that, energy – so therefore I’d be fighting my energy with my energy, investing a whole load of me into the destruction of me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a freaking hard practice. One that I am far from mastering but just making the decision to surrender has been soothing. “Oh yummy, I don’t need to fight anymore”.

Surrendering is not a loss of power. We gain as are able to process in a more calm and centred way, without letting conflict drain our life force (and it drains by the gallon!). To witness the process of being human rather than getting swept up in the drama and stories and confusion is precious. Even if I can only manage a few minutes a day, it’s a gift to myself. To remove tensions and limiting beliefs about who I am, this is what I know to be the best healing tonic. Today I feel incredibly grateful that I am able to practice surrender, to be able to let go of thoughts and habits that no longer serve me. I doubt they ever served me well in the first place. I am grateful for the peace surrender brings.

Most of all I am grateful for the journey, as I do feel like each minute is a journey back to me and it never gets boring as there are new discoveries, always.

#29 Grateful for My New Found Love of Art

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This no-phone week has been delicious, I almost want to turn if off permanently! I feel calmer, I feel less anxious and less afraid to experiment with my art (my newly discovered passion). On a side note, I would seriously recommend turning your phone off for longer than a day. Life will go on and people will find you should they need to. I don’t think we need to be so accessible all the time, we’re just made to think life won’t be full without it. It will… but that is just my opinion 🙂

Today I painted the above. I call it  I see. 

I have zero art experience, well apart from a GCSE in art (taken nearly 20 years ago!!), but I freaking LOVE to paint and draw. It has only been in the past few months that I bothered to pick up a paintbrush and I only started drawing because I wanted to create a visual to match my poems, to jazz ‘um up a little (obviously I didn’t think they were good enough on their own!).

I’m no master and to be honest, that isn’t my aim –  I won’t be trying to impress anyone with what I create, that’s for sure. Surely the personal benefits of self-expression are more important than how ‘accurate’ or ‘masterful’ the painting is.

Also, what I love about painting is seeing the results of your labour straight away. When I’m writing, it’s a slow process, or it feels slow anyway (especially the novel for obvious reasons). The page can become a blur of words, thoughts can seem scattered but when I paint, it seems to make more immediate sense (to me anyway).

I  feel so lucky that I am able to express myself in this way. In many ways. I truly believe that we find so much peace and healing when we get intimate with ourselves, to begin to understand our soul truth. Self-expression is a grounding practice. It centres us, keeps our hearts open to feel, no matter what feelings arise. Self-expression keeps us wild and alive and in touch with what it means to be human. I’m sure I have written something similar to this in previous posts, I guess it’s been an incredibly important healing tool for me. For a long time I became so obsessed with ‘being spiritual’ I forgot I AM SPIRITUAL, just by being alive. Painting leads me back to me, the real me, the me I am learning to love unconditionally. Honouring my creativity taps deeper into the universal force that dances inside of us all. I feel so strongly that my mental health has improved due to expressing myself, not worrying about what others may think of my work, just expressing who I am. I have noticed that being honest in my work has attracted more honesty into my life and this has been such a gift, one I didn’t even know I wanted.

Within, we have all the magic and pleasures of life. We are the holders of so much love and light (darkness too as without dark we have no understanding of light). We all have much to share and many talents just waiting to be explored.

Let’s get busy exploring 🙂

 

#28 Grateful for Being Able To Switch Off (for a week!)

 

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When I was doing theatre studies at school, we studied feminist theatre, which essentially introduced me to feminism and I guess you could say I’ve been a feminist ever since (I then went on to study feminist performance for my degree). I remember the term ‘The Personal is Political’ and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve realised just how much these words have driven my life. The decisions I make, on a daily basis effect the WHOLE system in one way or another.

So, I’m getting personal in my political activism. I’m going to turn my phone off for a week. No text messages, no phone calls, no social media, no nothing.

How is this political?

Seriously, our attachment to phones is kinda scary. On a personal level I check mine way more than I need to. It’s become a habit. An addiction, an addiction that is ruling my life, not me ruling it. So, I am going to try and go without it, to break this unhealthy cycle. An iPhone is not an organ, it doesn’t keep my alive. Political? The powers that be rely so heavily on our fixation with social media – it keeps us occupied, distracted and maintains a level of anxiety and fear. Plus Money is EVERYTHING and where is money? Technology. And what is money? Power.

Not only that but the natural resources being drained to keep this industry alive is astronomical. I wish I could sit here and write ‘I am giving up ALL forms of technology, forever!’ but alas, I am keeping my computer on as I use it to write, I’ll also stay on email. I’m seeing this as an experiment, to notice the small (or great) changes it brings to my life. I know we live in a time when technology seems to be the backbone of existence, and don’t get me wrong, technology has empowered so many and social media can connect in wonderful ways. I guess I just need to do this, for me, to break a habit that needs breaking, for my own sanity.

We are living in a time of excess – information overload and more hunger for power. This is effecting everything and everyone. How can we expect huge changes if we are not willing to change ourselves and patterns of behaviour. Change must come from within to then be mirrored externally.

I am so grateful to be in position where I can make this choice, that my job does not revolve around the phone – I am going to take full advantage of this while I can.

We can only do our bit. For now, turning my phone off for a week feels like the needed change, for me and our planet.

#27 Grateful for Riches

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Today I feel rich, abundant, up to my chin (and almost can’t move) in wealth because of… well many reasons but many reasons can be easily forgotten until the sky lights up to remind you that life is full of anything you want it to be full of.

This morning I asked for release. Just a few moments of release from my chatty thoughts, oh and also a reason to get out of bed and go running. This was my reason, the best reason a woman could hope for, the sunrise took my breath away and calmed me more than words ever could.

That is the definition of rich right? To be consumed in pleasure and joy and all things delicious.. well that was how I felt seeing the sunrise this morning and guess what, it’s free, every single day.

Blessed, blessed, blessed.

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#26 Grateful for Minimalism

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The past few weeks I’ve been hard on myself and the state of the world. The more I cradle into news feeds and environmental issues and animal neglect and… the general crisis we seem to be plummeting into, I just wanna cry. Brexit (Ahhhh) Trump (AHHHHHH)… I could list ALL the shit but I’m not gonna, you know the deal.

Anyway, last night, during my wallow I got into bed early, flipped open my laptop, logged into Netflix and headed to the documentaries.

“More ‘real life’ crisis, feed me more crisis”

I’d like to add here this post is headed someplace more upbeat, I promise.

Then I remembered my friend recommending the documentary ‘Minimalism: A documentary about the important things’. I pressed play and I got even more depressed during the first 20 minutes (btw it’s not a depressing documentary, it’s hopeful, I really recommend the watch, it sure inspired me).

Modern day consumption is insane! The rate at which we are filling our oceans and landfills with crap is just beyond belief. Hey there missy! (I address myself)… I buy stuff wrapped in plastic, I buy water in plastic bottles when I’m out and get thirsty. I have a mobile phone, I have a computer, I invest lots of my time on the world wide web, filling up on information I don’t need (mostly enjoy, sometimes not so much). I check my instagram everyday, and I’m blessed to have a huge choice of foods on my doorstep. When more is available, it’s hard to not want to take it.

A comment was made by… someone (a psychologist or scientist, one or the other) in this documentary about how things cannot go on the way they are, we’re in full destruction mode – of our health and our environment. Flash thought in that moment: 20 years. 20 years could be it. At this rate, we’ll be lucky to have an earth that can sustain us in 20 years time… once the CO2 levels rise and oxygen becomes more precious than diamonds, that will be it. 20 years! I know, it’s an extreme thought but we are living in extreme times. I freaked out.

20 fucking years!

I woke up thinking about it, I ate my breakfast thinking about it (even though I’m trying to be mindful when I eat, 20 years of life on earth is not something you can so easily put to one side as you crunch on puffed rice). What the hell is the point, of anything? I even said the words out loud.

“What’s the point, nothing matters!”

Light bulb – it ALL matters! We just don’t value matter anymore. If we don’t like it, if it doesn’t fit, we bin it and buy a new one. Disposable lifestyles R Us.

20 years? If I only had 20 years left on this earth, what would I do?

The calmest I’ve felt in very, very long time was when I thought about imminent death at the very moment I’d convinced myself we have 20 years left.

Shit, I got a lot of living to do.

And by living I mean loving and by loving I mean enjoying what I have and by enjoying what I have I mean enjoying this very moment, the now. I have sunrises to enjoy and wet grass to feel on my bare feet in the morning and animals to adore and people to connect with. So much living to do!

And what if it does turn around? We don’t know what the future has in store for us. All we can do is love what we’ve been given and boy, does the earth know how to share. We got mountains to explore (should that be something you wish to do) we got landscapes to paint, forests to walk through, oceans to sail, we got laughter to share and taste sensations to explode upon our tongues (from naturally grown natural foods). We got so much love to feel.

I gotta get loving!

I am going to get minimal too. I would love to be able to fit everything I own into a large bag, wouldn’t that be swell. It’s good to have goals. I am going to try with every fibre in my being to laugh more, to enjoy those moments that were once filled with ‘don’t enjoy this, panic instead as you know that feeling so well and it’s not safe to step outside comfort spots!’. I want to dance more, to smile more, to use my phone less (this is a big need I think) and to reduce my plastic consumption (a HUGE need)

Yea sure, some days are gonna be hard, some are going to be crap and grey and I might not want to even get out of bed on those days but as I may only have 20 years left, I don’t want to be miserable and hard on myself for too long. Besides, if everyone got minimal, well we might just have a good chance of beating my guess (based on unsubstantial evidence) of 20 years.

Cheers to loving the freebies of mother earth, she got us sorted, we just gotta show her some lovin’ and respect in return.

#25 Grateful for Close Ups

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When the mind goes a little…

CRAP

THINK PINK

THINK BRIGHT HEALING LIGHT

THINK OF A STRAIGHT LINE

IT’S GONE!

FUCK

I CAN’T

I CAN

NOPE, I REALLY CAN’T

I DID IT ONCE I CAN DO IT AGAIN

You catch my drift.

Such chatter rides my waves, mainly storming up when I’m outside, when my anxiety roars ‘you’re agoraphobic, you can’t go outside without a fight!’

Screw it, there’s no fight to be had anymore. I don’t want to fight myself!

I don’t want labels anymore either. I don’t want to call myself something that doesn’t sit comfortably with me… and today I decided to think of myself as calm, at peace, able to go outside without feeling ‘weak’ (I think I may eliminate ‘weak’ from my vocabulary. No one is weak, we all have boundaries in different areas of life and these boundaries can always be expanded, should we choose).

So today, as I woke feeling particularly empowered, I thought ‘I’ll take advantage of this calm’ and went out for a run, then for a walk, then for another walk with the dog. High flying these days, ey? 🙂

As I was out with the pooch, I felt the worry rise – of course it was going to, I’ve become so accustomed to ‘the fight’, worry wanted to play the rebelling game. What helps, what always helps is noticing nature. The birds, the grass, the muddy patches on the grass and the trees. The trees are medicine. I know I’ve said this before, over and over. Today, as my anxiety wanted to perform centre stage, I was distracted by falling head over heels in love with one particular tree – anxiety didn’t stand a chance.

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… And the close ups, oh boy. The colours, the textures, the light reflections, the rough and the smooth. Calm had come in the shape of a tree. Ask and you shall receive.

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Thank you for up close and personal. For beauty that is often overlooked as we worry or rush or think of our ‘to-do’ lists. NOW was (is always) full of natures miracles and what better way to spend our time, loving all that we are a part of, art by Gaia.

 

#24 Grateful for One Step Back

A little entry today as words seem kinda flat.

This day has been slow and uncomfortable and I feel like this year might be 2016 all over again, like history is repeating! I know, it won’t be. One thing we can be certain of in life is change but at the end of 2016 I was feeling lighter, like I made two strident steps into the world of wellbeing. Now I’m not saying my wellbeing has gone to shit over the past week, it hasn’t but I do feel like I’ve taken one giant step back.

I wanna curl up and put dreams to bed. I don’t feel pumped about the year ahead and I did, I was ready for 2017 but today, I have felt slow and tired and discombobulated (that is such an awesome word). Writing is hard – words are meaningless, literally they just look like weird shapes on a page… oh wow… I am dragging my knuckles on the floor here!

That is my gratitude right there, reading what I’ve just written and not wanting to fuel the woe-is-me tone anymore. Journalling really does help! Yes today has been slow but that doesn’t mean tomorrow will be too… and some days words don’t pop and sentences don’t flow – it’s ok. I am always telling people that our feelings change, sometimes they mix around minute by minute and that’s.. well human. I need to listen to my own advice and settle into this contraction.

Grateful for one step back as now I can push off my back foot and sprint three steps forward. I don’t even think we go back or forwards anyway, there is no ‘place’ we’re supposed to get to, it just paints a fun picture in my head (me in a crouch position at the start of a race… an image I’ve yet to see become reality)

#23 Grateful for Candlelight

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Since Christmas eve, each night we’ve eaten dinner by candlelight. This is not something of tradition in our household. We light the candles at christmas and then put them away at the beginning of January (usually only having lit them on christmas day) until next year. This year, we light the candles each night – a tradition I am now adopting, not just for christmas but through the winter months.

These dark evenings are feeling weighty at the moment. It’s always at this time of year I struggle with claustrophobia and agoraphobia, like grey skies wash over expansions and pull me in. The past week i’ve wanted to hibernate and not get out of bed until the sun comes up (I’m sure I’m not alone in that!). Yin energy is at it’s peak and as this month is in the astrological sign of Capricorn, a cardinal earth sign, this proves challenging and uncomfortable for a woman with no earth in her natal chart.

So light is medicine for me, and oh so heavily craved, plus there’s something about the naked flame that makes me feel alive. It’s like primal instincts know I’m made up of this, the heat and power emitted from one single flame is within me (although I haven’t been feeling very powerful of late). I know that this is the time of year to reflect, to go inward and find more of ourselves, some pieces beautiful, some not so beautiful. These past few days my agoraphobia has been on full blast and I’ve been wanting to hide away. To jump into a cave surrounded by moss or tall grass and just… well I don’t actually know what I’d do if such a situation should arise, I guess I’m just romanticising the wild life.

So candlelight has been such a precious gift the past week or so and I hope to keep this evening ritual burning 😉 The cycle of life needs winter and although the words ‘god, I hate winter’ have bounced off my tongue in the past, I know I need to reestablish the relationship I have with myself in the these darker months – we gotta love our own cycles after all and the feelings and emotions that arise are part of my whole being. Candlelight is keeping my enthusiasm alight ( 😉 ) and this year, some deep exploration is taking place, even if feels really crappy sometimes. I am grateful that I can enjoy these luxuries, that next to a warm and healing flame I am able to meditate, pray, do yoga and now eat with my family. Yes, tonight I am feeling mighty blessed.

 

#22 Grateful for Reiki

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I blamed reiki for the small (epic) breakdown I had last year. Hear me out, I know now it wasn’t the fault of reiki, reiki didn’t do anything other than uncover what was already there but I was angry at how reiki made me feel and I needed something to blame. Kundalini yoga got a thrashing too but that’s for another post.

I took my reiki training over the space of a year or so and I completed the final master course in january 2016. Then… WHACK… I had a breakdown. I haven’t practiced reiki since, not really. I may have participated in a distant healing group but as things got worse for me, I quit the meditations. I stopped doing anything that made me feel… more. I couldn’t cope with much so I thought if I quit all the ‘spiritual’ stuff, things might settle down. They didn’t and I don’t think you can quit being spiritual if that’s who you are (and we’re all spiritual beings, some just tap a little deeper than others). To cut a long story short, I have gotten back to my reiki meditations and it feels GOOD.

After I completed the course and decided to lay off the practice, I thought ‘great, what a fat waste of money’. Oh how wrong I was. It’s NEVER a waste of money to invest in your wellbeing and doing reiki did more for me than, at the time, I could ever have believe. Even when I was at my lowest, I knew I needed to get a whole loada old shit to the surface, to face it, to release it and I guess it was reiki that got the ball rolling.

Now, I realise time is just… well what is time? Time is only as we perceive it and at the time I completed the course, it wasn’t time for me to practice. Who knows, maybe that time is coming soon. All I know is that now I am enjoying the prospect of welcoming reiki back into my life.

I am grateful for the intuitive move to begin the training, even though I didn’t know anything about it. I am grateful that sometimes we don’t need to know at the ‘time’ why we do something as all will be revealed in ‘time’. I am grateful for the faith I have in the process. Now the process is deliciously soothing, as I invite the warm energy of reiki back into my body (not that I think it ever left).

Self care is SO vital. It’s like eating and exercise and all the stuff we do to keep ourselves feeling good. Reiki is now on my self-care regime, a regime I welcome with open arms.

#21 Grateful for 25,000 words

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Firstly, I want to own up to myself that when I began this gratitude diary, my intentions were to update every day for the next year. Ops, didn’t happen. I wanted to be all philosophical about it, I wanted each entry to ‘mean’ something. In the drawn out process of intellectualising everything, I haven’t kept to this commitment. It was an excuse, not a genuine reason. Day to day gratitudes do not need to be epic, life-changing revelations, they don’t need to actively shift my daily activities (but when they do it’s welcomed). Gratitude is the shift, to find reasons to be thankful and to notice beauty is the reward. Note to me: that’s all I have to say on the matter but remember to enjoy, not analyse and destroy.

This leads me onto my 25,000 into my novel… go me! I have to say, this is the most committed relationship I have ever been in. Seriously, this commitment to myself, to complete something that happens to take up more hours than I ever thought my concentration could handle, this is deep water for me.

I have shown very little commitment to myself in the past… forever. Ok, maybe not forever as I don’t know what forever feels like, lets say for a very long time, since I was a young adult at least. This commitment thing is not so easy to admit, as in the process I have shown little commitment to others. I have wanted freedom from myself, from my ways, my thoughts, my previous actions/reactions/circumstances. In my desperate attempts to detach from who I am as I wildly dream about the woman I think I should be, low and behold I have forgotten how to respect and commit to the woman who needs me this most, me. Also, the bitch of life is that all we say we don’t want, mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) appears, to piss us off even more. Yet it’s not really a bitch as what we think about, we invite into our lives. The words I don’t want is irrelevant, for thinking of what we lack, whatever it is we don’t want means we get… well basically we get more of the less. It’s simple yet why does this knowing slip so easily away when old habits creep back to snuggle into warm and familiar ‘crap me’ blankets.

‘This is who I am!’

Is it?

If something feels uncomfortable, if it’s a belief that doesn’t sit right, do we have to just accept it for who we are? Maybe we heard this pattern of thinking, or were told ‘this is just how it is’. We may have seen this played out in someone else’s life, believing it to be our truth too. Who knows, there are a million ways words and attitudes sneak into our psyche but we know when something doesn’t feel right. Blaming is pointless as no matter where it came from, the words/actions/attitudes are now within us and so it’s our responsibility to do something about it.

I didn’t even think about my attitude to commitment. It’s only as I sat this morning wondering why I feel a little isolated. Truth is, I have isolated myself. I have distanced myself from people, places, my dreams even as I didn’t have the will to commit. It was no good to think ‘I’ll make more of an effort with others’ as this soon subsides. The work is within and to grow is to nourish our own roots. There are many reasons why we self-sabotage and I know no-one who doesn’t hurt themselves by their own doing at times but to blame and get frustrated at our behaviours only gets us so far (no-where).

So I am committing to getting curious. I am committing to asking more questions but releasing the need for answers as mostly it is outside of our comprehension that we find understanding. Once the question is planted, the answer will grow.

This novel is so much more than the book itself, the process is like a magnet, drawing buried weights to the surface. Burying again doesn’t seem to be an option (damn it), like the soil is now full of new seeds, there’s no room for the old. I am committing myself to this book, for no other reason than to thrive within the relationship I am building with me, the words and all the medicine that soars in-between.

p.s. Yes, I have just written another ‘revelation’ gratitude entry but I am extending this commitment to my daily practice of giving thanks so tomorrow it could be an entry about warm socks or apple juice, who knows!

p.p.s. I am eternally grateful for warm socks and apple juice 🙂