#5 Grateful for magic Trees

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All trees are magic, fact. However, there are a few trees in my life which have been integral to the magic that has graced my life. I know, the word magic takes on many different interpretations but for me, when I say magic, I mean those moments when life feels perfect and light and beautiful and expansive. You know those moments, when you are so engrossed in something or you’re so calm that all worries melt away and those invisible wings we all knot so tightly to our back spread, leading us to where we’re supposed to be. Magic is so very vital and magic trees are my reminder.

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This tree lives in the next road from mine, it’s huge! Luckily it has a preservation order so no naughty developer can chop it down as the huge house who’s land it grows on has just been sold.  I’ve can’t remember walking past this tree without stopping, just to absorb its magnificence, and that is enough. Absorbing beauty is proving more healing to me than examining it. I think as our minds like to organise and connect through verbalisation or intellectual understandings we forget that what we see in nature has only the role to exist, as it is. It’s not here to be deciphered by humans (although I’m the first to be fascinated by learning how different life survives in their environment), different species exist to play their role in the complex entanglement that is life on earth.

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So this morning, I stopped and absorbed this magic tree. Magic because I’m lost within the absolute perfection that is. Each branch, each leaf, each line in the bark is perfect. If I can see perfection outside then surely I can find it inside too.

 

Old Friend

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Hello anxiety, old buddy, old pal

With intentions to keep me out of harms way

Building those bridges to comfort zones

That I eagerly crossed, back and forth each day.

I’ve taken you places, so many to count

With syncing strides as we’re one of the same

You’re no stranger to me, or demonic force

Yet upon you I’ve laid such hurtful blame.

But blaming you only sets us apart

Like two sides fighting with the strength of one

Was me versus you on bloody fields

Your attacks I would lose but peace was not won.

I don’t ask you to leave and never come back

As my wholeness depends on the lessons you teach

But let us shake hands and soften the battle

And decide it is Love that we both choose to preach.

 

Change Happens

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Ok, so I’m making some changes, some serious changes. These intentions to change have not grown overnight, it’s been two years of crying, aching, hibernating, facing a trauma that happened when I was 6, which I’ve not had the courage to face until now. It’s taken a breakdown, or as I like to think of it, a breakthrough for me to reach this point when I can begin to see the shifts happening in my life.

  1. De – Cluttering. I’ve decided to get rid of most of my material shit… and it really was that, useless shit. Again, this has taken time. I live with my folks in London, I am a 34 year old woman who moved back in with her parents when she was 31 and no longer am I ashamed of this fact. I moved back because –  well firstly, I came out of a 4-year relationship and needed a place to live. I was living with him, I worked with him and as a result, the breakup meant I lost pretty much everything, well except for the dog, he came to live with my family, lucky fella. Secondly, I’m broke. London is not a place to live comfortably when you’ve little funds and as a writer, beginning her career, I knew money was going to be tight for the next couple of years. Thirdly, as I mentioned above, I suffered a breakdown, mentally I was incapable of many things, including leaving the house and it’s pretty hard to function when you can’t even step over the Welcome mat without having a panic attack. It was pretty shitty, ok really shitty but honestly, I wouldn’t change one thing… through all the crap something miraculous happened, I changed in ways I’d never thought possible and I saw a strength in me that has blown me out of the water (muddy waters to be precise). So, de-cluttering, old shit had to go, it was time to invite space for new and that is where I’m at, letting go of what no longer serves me.
  2. Letting go of what no longer serves me. I know, that sounds like it’s a part of de-cluttering, especially as I wrote it above but putting a bag in the charity shop of material stuff is so much easier than knowing what mental habits are hurting me rather than assisting growth. Where do you even start with that? So, I know I don’t have the all the answers and everyone’s journey to their truth is different but I knew I had to make a few changes in daily habits. I’ve stopped watching the news – It doesn’t really inform me what’s going on in the world, it gives me a point of view and it’s so flipping negative! The media is so controlled now and I get so angry when I watched it, so I stopped. Big news has a way of filtering into social media anyway so I guess I’m still in the loop of international activity. Diet changes – so listening to my body rather than enforcing a change because I think it might add an extra few years onto my life, that has been key here. I don’t eat meat because I can’t put the flesh of an animal in my mouth. I don’t eat diary because I taste animal and that makes me feel sick. I don’t eat gluten because it makes me constipated and I don’t really drink alcohol as I don’t like the way if makes me feel. Having said that, I will have a glass of wine if I fancy one, I’ll drink a coffee if I want one (even though I recently wrote an article about giving up coffee, what can I say, I gave in) and I’ll eat a packet of salted crisps because I love them. Saying No – If I don’t want to do something, I say no. It sounds simple but it’s not always. I might not want to let people down or I think I should be doing something rather than what it is I want to. Stop using the word ‘should’ – should is a crap word. I should be feeling this or I should be doing that… nope, should makes you feel like you’re not doing enough or you’ve made the wrong choice even though the choice you made was right for you. ‘Should’ has to go.
  3. Trust. This is a big one, a work in progress. Trusting goes much further than lets say trust in a relationship (although that’s important), for me it’s a process of trusting the outcomes of life, of each moment, every event that happens. Knowing the result of a ‘problem’ or crisis will always be for your greater good, even if it feels like the world is falling down around you, it’s right, it’s perfect. Tough, I know.
  4. Facing fears. Massive!… and not done in day. I have grown up as a fearful person. Afraid of the dark, of spiders, of hurting myself and others, of what people might think, of disaster happening if I leave the house… blah blah blah… the list goes on. I respect these fears as some are still part of the story of me (for now) but I know that to feel truly alive, to live the life I want, I have to face them. I do acknowledge them, I accept them as part of my growth (fear can be our greatest teacher) but I will try my very best to no longer allow them to drive every decision I make. To think, is this decision out of fear or out of love. I once heard the quote ‘a life lived in fear is a life half lived’… oh how true that is.
  5. Loving myself, unconditionally. This is beautiful but really bloody hard. It’s only since I’ve been consciously pouring love into myself and my daily habits that I realise how little I loved who I am. I was hating on myself, every single day! This is changing and boy, are the differences noticeable. I am truly starting to believe that all we need to do in life is love ourselves, unconditionally and all the rest seems to fall into place. It’s a beautiful journey, not always easy but who wants easy anyway!
  6. Spiritual practice. It’s about finding one that works for you. At the very beginning of my spiritual adventure about 3 years ago (although we’re all spiritual beings, I guess my adventure started when I got curious) at first it was Law of Attraction, then Kundalini, then meditation, then vinyasa yoga, then Reiki, then Shamanic practices, then Ashtanga yoga… it’s a pretty long list. I’ve honed down since then, now I mainly practice Ashtanga yoga, meditation (I’m learning more about Buddhism) and I love learning about astrology, although more about our energetic make-up (birth charts) than predictions etc. Point it, spiritual practice is a long life affair and it’s been rocky to say the least but to have tools to calm, ground, stir up the shit when it needs to come out, to have ways to bring me closer to me has been invaluable. I feel blessed to have many teachings in my life.
  7. Hmmmm, i think that might be it, for now. There’s always more to discover, more journeys to go on but I really wanted to share the beginnings of what I feel is going to be an epic adventure. We all live such incredible lives, no matter what happens and I want to fill my life with as much love and happiness as I can. I believe we are ALL perfect in our own unique ways, and I going forward on this blog, I plan to share more of my adventures back to self, back to love.

Thank you for reading! From my heart to yours, sending so much love.

Happy Friday.

 

Settled

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I’m not allowed to settle anywhere

Well technically I am

But I’m not

Because I never have

And because I never have it feels wrong

And if something feels wrong

Well I must be doing something wrong

And doing something wrong isn’t allowed

It makes me feel odd

And odd is wrong, right?

So I’m not allowed

Because that’s what I’ve told myself

And my rules are right

Just like my father taught me.

Permission

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Through the dark days, through the ‘I don’t know if I can feel worse than this’ days, a deeper knowing, a trusting voice managed to convince me otherwise. I knew I had to reach that point of no return before any warmth would entice healing hands, my healing hands over the entirety of me.

For countless days I’d want so desperately to stay in bed, to cover my head in complete darkness and rot, watching the colour drain from my cheeks, my arms, life pouring out from my hands into the air, to be inhaled by someone else, someone more deserving. During moments of self-pity I knew I was still wearing a veil over the rawness, feeling sorry for myself wasn’t enough as the lie still lived. Unhappiness simmered as I painted a smile and pretended I was ok. I knew it had to get worse before it got better. The glass had cracked and I was one movement away from shattering completely. All the darkness I’ve been avoiding (more like ignoring) was slowly being discovered, I’d found her cowering in the corner, not sure how to exist without being shunned, ridiculed and hated by the other half that I’d so carefully constructed as the ‘better’ part of me. I needed to purge this sadness out as it was finding ways to seep through the porcelain veneer I’d crafted anyway. I no longer had control, that’s if I ever had any to begin with. The sadness rose like a serpent from the roots of my beginnings. I needed to cry more, I needed to hurt more, I needed to want to die. Then it came, that moment of believing there was no way out other than ceasing to exist, it struck me hard across the base of spine, my joints had frozen, time had frozen, I was cocooned in a ball of absolute surrender and it scared the shit out of me. I was angry, I was angry at myself for getting so low, angry at life, angry with the unanswered prayers, the wishes unfulfilled. I was so angry I punched myself; so hard on my right leg it went numb. I didn’t care, I kept hitting and for one split moment it felt so fucking good. I’ve never known anger, not really. I never wanted to own such an emotion, never wanting to relinquish control. Yet here I was, hitting the shit out of myself because I was feeling so deeply and feeling was something I never really gave myself permission to do.

I cried.

Not so much for the physical pain but for the way I’ve treated myself so sternly since I was a child. I cried for the anger I’d felt such shame to feel and express. I cried for the scared child I was, needing so desperately to be heard, to feel her anger, to acknowledge how cross she was and to hug her so tightly we’d both loose a breath. I cried for the strength to commit to this moment, to listen, to bathe in the medicine I was finding within, the treasures I’d hidden so meticulously. It’s only once I’d hit rock bottom that I could bury my hands into the soil and find all those precious qualities, a precious uniqueness that I’ve never let shine.

I gave myself permission to hurt that day, to really hurt and cry and vent. Permission was my green light to let go, to feel like crap and release, unapologetically. That day I found all that I’d lost. It’s incredibly empowering to know that you are the answer to your own prayers and on that day I gave myself permission to heal, to be human and to love myself, unconditionally.

 

Travelling Nowhere

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I’m not going anywhere right now, as I stare out of the window, watching the rain tap the glass, this view I’ve known for 20 years. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to move from this place, ever. Often the world appears scary, like a string of heavy beads attached to my ankles, dragging behind them the outbreak of panic, to explode unexpectedly and without warning, this is the nature of agoraphobia.

Indeed the world can be a pretty scary place but I’m not sure if it’s the world I’m afraid of, I’m not sure I want to wear the badge of confinement anymore. What if I truly am an adventurer, a free spirit, soaring effortlessly through all the BS of life, just carefree and connected and whole? Maybe my fear is not the world being a scary place at all, maybe I fear that if I let all my limiting self beliefs go; my soul would soar higher than I’d ever imagined it could.

I’m not afraid of wide open spaces, I dream of wide open spaces, and Cadillac’s and desert exploration and all the wonders of continuous road trips going anywhere but here. I’ve never considered myself a traveller yet my imagination always carries me to places unknown, to lands where sweet love songs are heard in the breeze, where love knows no boundaries and I’m not talking about the ‘I’ve fallen in love with another being’ kinda love, I mean lands that bring you back to the love you lost within yourself. I’ve dreamt of living in America, in the jungle, in wooden huts surrounded by bears and mountains. I’ve sailed the roughest seas, resting in the expansive sense of self that only the ocean can coax through the iron walls we’ve built as protection from no one but ourselves (basically boarding ourselves into our own hell). I’ve met many strangers in my dreams who have enriched my life, just after the few seconds of random conversation, who knows where that spark of verbal action stems from but oh boy do I love the wackiness of ridiculous conversation…. How incredible life could be if all weaved more ridiculous into their blanket of reality. Each night I see the whole world, my world and not knowing where I’ll end up next is the enticement my body needs to sleep soundly most nights.

I travel so frequently to such distances in my imaginings yet when life gets a little strained or uncomfortable I feel like I’m wearing ‘shrink-me’ socks and my size resembles that of a mouse. My overly familiar surroundings cave in, I’m caged and all I can manage is the walk to the kitchen to make a calming tea.

I know there’s a deep physiological reason for this, hey that’s why we go to therapy, right? There’s an opinion about everything we do, every habit we adopt. Every belief about ourselves stems from an experience, driving us to form a sense of our own (often warped) reality from momentary happenings. What complex beings we are, or are we? Are we overcomplicating because, as humans we like to believe we’ll find the answer to everything but really, how can we as we only see/hear a fraction of what’s happening in this vast, magnificent universe – that’s a whole lot of not knowing in my book. Maybe, just maybe no answer is needed, or no answer can be forced. Maybe we are led to our own interpretations and that’s enough. As we loosen our grip on needing to know, the changes that benefit us most will happen automatically, like magic. I may be making little sense to you, I am slightly confusing myself right now but maybe that means I’m on the right track, maybe!?

I do believe that we are led. If I think about past relationships and situations that have caused me heartbreak or upset, they are eerily similar, unintended at the time of course, but the patterns have repeated and the amount of damage is always of similar weight.

So, why am I so tied to a place that I’m so desperately trying to run from, why do I feel like I’m being led to nowhere? Many reasons spring to mind as to why this may be. Am I supposed to stay here to learn more about myself (yes, these past couple of years have been a bitch but I’ve learnt more about my inner workings than I ever thought possible, I’m deeper than I thought!) or is that just an excuse, a coping mechanism that aids the deep ache for more than this, of being in this familiar place where everything and nothing happens, all at once? Am I delaying any actions of relocation due to fear? (Yea, this one probably stands out as being the most possible)

Oh hello new thought; am I just looking for constant distractions, anything to steer myself away from the fact that I’m obviously running from someplace inside, someplace that makes me feel consistently uncomfortable? Ok, these words I’ve just written are beginning to feel like words I should really take notice of.

This is why I believe we are led, that struggle and conflict in our life can teach us and when we don’t learn, the lessons keep appearing, in differing forms. This, I believe is why I’m where I’m at, right now.

I’ve read plenty of quotes stating the above and in the many self-help books I’ve digested over the past few years, this subject demanded attention. Yet, my understanding of this has ripened only recently, brought about by the agoraphobic behaviour I seem to have slipped so seamlessly into. I’ve never taken full responsibility for my actions, ever. I’ve felt absolute frustration at others, played the blame game over and over, trying so desperately to understand why others are acting out of such hate, causing such hurt – I must be right and they must be wrong. I’ve hated, I’ve wondered why this shit keeps happening to me yet my endeavours to bring about personal change has fallen short, but why should I change when the world just acts so randomly against me?

But it doesn’t act so randomly against me, and I’m no longer typing detached words, I’m feeling these teachings so deeply inside my ocean of understanding, where true knowing lives and always has. In this moment I’m feeling all the restrictions I’ve built so sturdily around me because this is exactly where I need to be and feeling this claustrophobia is medicine. I’ve been led to a land so stagnant the only way out is to start breathing love back into my roots, to start watering the broken flowers and watch life sprout so abundantly as I tend to these soils I’ve so wickedly stamped on, forgotten, left to feel the abrasive and unforgiving frost, suffocating my vitality, suffocating me.

Who knows, the vibrant lands in my dreams, the adventures, the discovery, could all be to come. To stand tall in the place I seem to fear so much, to take off these ‘shrink-me’ socks and believe, to listen, only then will I be ready to truly explore all that my soul craves. There really is nowhere for me to hide, no dramatic distractions, whatever my soul has been so desperately needing me to recognise, I’m ready to hear. Whoever thought healing was going to be easy… it’s not (my hand is up, I hoped for an easy, bright healing ride, never gonna happen!). Right now, falling to my knees, to give up needing to know or needing an explanation, opening myself up to receive, to surrender is the only option left. Tonight I hope I visit someplace familiar in my dreams and instead of feeling the need to run, I’ll hug a stranger and show them the sights, the places I know so well, the places I’ve grown to love.

Labels

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Labels, I don’t like them. However, being a vegan (yep, a label) does warrant a need for labels on certain foods, i.e. has a cheeky pinch of milk powder gotten into this whole-food power bar, or is there animal bi-product in this bottle of wine? (why ALL wines are not vegan is beyond me). I try to live as simply as possible, not thinking about designer labels and trying desperately not to label and judge others due to their political views or dislike of animals (although in my eyes, animals are the best)

So there you go, I can’t deny that labels have taken on a vital role in our society. We are labelled as soon as we are named as children. We’re labelled at school to help with the testing system, seen as mass rather than individuals. We’re labelled at work with our job titles. We’re labelled depending on the colour of our skin or the god we worship. Labels are un-escapable, not just in the modern world, they’re part of our history and traditions too. It distinguishes left from right, the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’, it can give people a reason to feel powerful, the hierarchy of society – high to low. It’s safe to say we invest much of our sense of self into the labels bestowed upon us, or the labels we willingly adopt to fit in, merging with a tribe that suits us best. However, the most damaging labels can be the ones we give ourselves, building a limiting story and often being so far removed from our souls purpose that ‘failure’ is the most believed label, even before we give life a good shot.

However, over the past few months I’ve been discovering there are moments when labelling yourself can be the most healing decision, the only decision in order to surrender into feelings. To label the pain in order to admit it, no matter how dark, this can often be the only way to move forward.

“What’s happening to me, why am I feeling like this, am I going mad? Oh shit, I’m a crazy woman!” Leaving ourselves open, like a free for all for every emotion, not knowing why or how or what we’re experiencing can be the scariest thing of all. This has been my reaction to life for the past… well many years now. I’ve not wanted to label any of my thoughts, I’ve been leaving my front door open for a miracle to casually float into my erratic space and clean up the trash I’m pilling high. All has been a whirlwind because of my refusal to admit to myself; to lean into my discomfort, to scoop up the rising issue that I’ve been battling over the years. The truth of the story is, the agoraphobia I once ‘suffered’ many years ago has returned and it ain’t going anywhere, not right now anyway.

I didn’t want to admit this to myself as I’ve been here before, riding the road to recovery when I was 15. Being labelled agoraphobic at such a young age was one of the most difficult paths ever I’ve taken and this is why I don’t like labels, this is the story I’ve been running from, trying so frantically to erase.

“You can’t do this again, you’ve already battled this, you’ve conquered this already so don’t let it come back, you’re too old to be going through childhood trauma again… GET OVER IT! You have to, your future depends on it” Yes, I’ve been that harsh on myself and when I see those words written, just as I hear them in my head, I know I’d certainly never speak to another being like that, so why so hard on myself? This is why writing is so healing and marvellous on many levels. Reading the hateful words I genuinely felt, seeing them on the screen has been the dose of medicine I so greatly needed.

Battle, that’s the word I needed to see, battling myself, battling the labels, battling my way through life so I don’t have to sit through that pain I once persevered. Battling against myself. What craziness to be at war with ourselves, yet it can be the easiest habit to fall into, so readily done each and every day.

I did battle agoraphobia when I was young; I refused to go to school, as it became such an impossible task. I couldn’t socialise, I felt weak, pathetic, the black sheep as I couldn’t do all the things my friends were doing to live a ‘normal’ teenage life. I was at home, all the time. I was reading about alternative methods to heal (blessed with a mum who believed in the holistic path, who shared her knowledge and who loved me unconditionally) as I refused to take drugs, knowing even then that mood suppressants were not the fix I needed. However, as my whole family was included in this battle and we were being inspected regularly by social services, the need for my recovery was getting stronger. The law instructed that I had to get back into the classroom so it became a necessity to find a way to immerse myself back into the scary world, even if that meant jumping before I was ready.

Every effort was made to mask the open wound; I had GCSE’s to take and due to persistent reminders from the external world that I’d surely fail in life if I didn’t take my exams, I had no choice but to plaster up and face the world. I hated being the sensitive girl; the girl who wouldn’t go to the pub or the sleazy clubs that seemed so vital in the girl-snogs-boy process (it was the 90’s, snogging was our favourite word). I didn’t understand why I felt this way, even after a year of therapy the mystery of this complex mind matter continued. I’d been classed as mentally ill and I needed to be like everybody else to prove I was no longer sick.

I see now that although I did recover in order to continue with school, finish my exams and go onto university, I was running off the wrong fuel, adrenaline was overriding the pain, I’d planted my seeds in completely the wrong conditions, they were suffocating.

I did get back into the world, I did make it to the pubs and clubs and drink vodka most weekends even though it tasted like every sip was stripping away a part of my intestinal wall. Although I was back in the game, I’d made it, I’d battled an illness that was only working against me, my soul was deeply aware that I was so far removed from the real ‘me’. The cracks were deepening and I was craving something else… of course at the time, I didn’t know what.

The label of agoraphobia that I’d once found so debilitating, so isolating and uncomfortable is one I never thought I’d be facing again. “I can do it, I’m powerful, I’m bigger than my fears, I’m strong, I’m strong, I’m strong” Yes, I am all those things but I am also sensitive and shy and scared sometimes and I cry about things that happened over 15 years ago. And that is all OK. I’m done with battling, war never leads to peace, war never leads to forgiveness and love and acceptance.

So here I am, I’m labelling myself as agoraphobic, not because I want to slump into the pit of despair about the difficulties in my life at the moment or feed the struggle I face being in busy, public places. It’s not because I want to throw my hands in the air and say, ‘you got me agoraphobia, I give up, I’m not trying anymore’. I’m ready to step into this label again because I want to honour the girl I was, who fought so hard to become the woman I am today. I’m honouring her tears and pleas for self-love when all she could feel was shame and guilt and distance. I want to breathe hope and compassion into every moment of panic; I want to cradle the inner child that never recovered properly, who never got to express her true feelings or desires. I want to edit each page, adding words of strength next to words of fear, to become the healer I wanted to become before the filler of quick fixes hardened across the seeping wound.

I’m labelling myself agoraphobic as sometimes you have to take full ownership of something before you can let it go.

Agoraphobia is only one part of my story, it’s part of my now but that doesn’t mean it has to be written into my future. All I can do right now is inhale light and exhale acceptance until this chapter ends. If anxiety must live alongside my true being then all I can do is promise my soul that I’ll continue to listen and never declare war on myself, ever again.