Progress not perfection

26andnotcounting.com
26andnotcounting.com

Taking one step, just one, sounds like the simplest thing in the world.

The idea of it is easy enough, the theory sound.

But the actual step…

Ah

Fear has had a lot to say for itself in my life. It shows up in a host of exciting and different ways, masquerading as something else entirely, sometimes even cheekily as a ‘good idea’ or as a ‘great opportunity’.

One of my greatest fears is going backward.

Funny then that it should be my default setting when things get a bit too much.

These last couple of months I have been in the shadow dance of anxiety and depression…not two words I use lightly, however, ones that need to get more airtime in my eyes. The past week was when a particular bout came to a head.

The familiar feelings of  withdrawing, retreating, and shutting down. To feel that any stimulation was too much stimulation – even bike rides on sunny afternoons. And lord the tiredness – the endless sleep that felt, had the setting been different, I would awaken after 100 years by a Prince about to slay a dragon.

The forgetfulness, clumsiness, and attention span of a ten year old. Not the greatest mix whilst navigating traffic lights or trying to meet deadlines. And definitely don’t think it’s a good time to crack out the best glasses/crockery – it’s not.

My ego was also hauling me over the coals for the weight gain that has piled on over the past couple of months – not the best record to be repeating for someone who achieved a weight loss a few years ago and who’s ego dined out on the attention and compliments.

The lack mentality. Lack of time, lack of money, lack of energy, lack of inspiration, lack of confidence and worth, the list could go on.

I don’t write this for attention or sympathy, but as a showing of a life long battle scar, and of a more recent bruising.

For as much as this has been the underlying soundtrack, I have also been lucky enough to see how far I have come.

That I have a support network of people who’s love knows no bounds. Who have all shown up for me and supported me in a heartbeat of time. Who have held space and listened. Who have walked and talked, and kept going when the tears were flowing and I couldn’t say why. But mostly the pride I feel for myself that I put my hand up to say “I am not OK” and opening up instead of shutting down.

That I have learnt enough about myself now to face my darkness head on. To not wait for it to grip me unawares, to turn into it and to whisper “You will not win”. That I have enough reserve to call in the armoury of defences (yoga, nature, mediation, writing, talking, sleeping, getting help) that I have accumulated over the years, even when I don’t feel they are working at the time, the simple action of trying is what calls the wave to come and carry me back to shore.

That is what conquers my fear – that even though I may have slid down the snake for the 100th time, I’ve not landed on the same square.

I have learnt something, I have endured something. I have suffered something. And in that, it makes me better. It makes me a better person, because I can stand across from you and say “It’s OK. ME TOO”.

We all have moments – some pass us, some stick around longer than we’d like. But for me, I know that my determination to climb up the ladder again after falling down, to open, to be exposed, and to have the patience to wait for the sparks of hope to appear and to continue that patience long into the ride back up.

That is progress, not perfection.

TCTC xx

http://www.beyondblue.org.au

Women Leading Change

Women.jpg

This piece was originally written for, and appeared on, the Loving Earth website.

On an autumn morning in May, 500 women gathered at Melbourne Convention Centre to be inspired, to be uplifted, but above all to connect. Welcome to Women Leading Change.

As Seane Corn, American Yogi Extraordinaire, opened the day, she spoke of separation and how it is on all of us to close the gap. The bar was set high as she spoke about her own personal journey, including her time in New York clubs and meeting one man in particular who bestowed this slice of advice which pretty much encapsulated the ethos of Wake Up Project’s tour…

“Ignore the stories, see the soul. Remember to love. You will never regret it”.

With not a dry eye in the house, the tone was set. One of heart cracking honesty, strength, wild resilience and true feminine beauty.

Janine Shepherd, the former cross-country skier, who, after a life changing accident left her with a broken neck and back, as well as a host of other devastating injuries, gained her pilots license within a year of leaving hospital. If you haven’t seen Janine’s TED Talk it is not one to be missed and gives a true view of what she shared; that acceptance is a lived experience, it is a doorway that we must pass through to live. How true acceptance only comes when you say ‘YES” to the whole experience and that it’s not about having it all but loving it all.

Or as writer and former model Tara Moss put it, it’s actually about having YOUR all. As someone who was famed for her physical looks Tara delved into what it looks and feels like to be a woman living today. With all the media attention and consistent reminders that despite all that has moved forward, women are still disproportionally represented in politics, media, and corporations, even in our own social circles. How if we as women are to create change we first must look after our selves, stop holding ourselves, or others up as superheros and recognise that as ‘ordinary’ people, we are capable of extra-ordinary things.

Which couldn’t be truer of the firework that is Lucy Perry, the former CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. After going from a volunteer to CEO in the space of three short years, Lucy spoke of audacious determination, courage and how kindness should be the default business practice of every business. She also had the whole house laughing and crying, even sharing the story of how she gave birth at a party and that we need to always take the time to celebrate the wins.

Clare Bowditch celebrated women in all shapes, sizes and stages. How we must sit in The Uncomfortable During and acknowledge that life is seldom lead at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ stage. Treating us to a couple of songs – the lyrics reminding us that if:

“You want an amazing life

But you can’t decide

You don’t have to be just one thing

But you have to start with something.”

Leading an amazing life can only be done if we show up fully in every area, which is what Tami Simon urged us to investigate. Asking us if we can heed the call of our dreams, to have the courage to find out and be comfortable with forging the path that hasn’t been trodden yet. Tami left us with trust, truth and letting go as being the keys to being true to who we are.

Coming full circle, Seane Corn took to the stage again to tie up the threads of the themes that were shared on stage throughout the day. Reminding us to simply start where we are. There is no place to be other than now and to approach life, leadership and change with open ears, open eyes and above all an open heart.

I left feeling uplifted and so bonded to all the other people in the audience. Creating a space where hearts are open and people have come together with a similar intention awakens a very special and potent kind of energy. I think it was a beginning to understanding our own power and truth as women; that we, as we are and where we are, are the change makers who will lead the world into a new way of being.

Architects of our own Future Part Two

www.beliefnet.com
http://www.beliefnet.com

On wobbly legs, I began. To untangle and grapple with what the last twenty seven years had been about, but more currently the last five. What was I doing, who was I and what the fuck was I going to do now?

Root cause, begin at the base, otherwise it will keep growing back. But learn patience because somethings can’t be dealt with swiftly like a telesales caller. Somethings you have to bring out time and time again and get so frustrated that it is still there and then laugh as you finally get the biggest fucking joke of all. IT’S NEVER GOING TO GO AWAY. YOU have to make space for it, and love it in all its ugliness equal to the acceptable and pleasing facets of your human nature. You have to blaze a bonfire of light on it and say I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU. I SEE YOU IN YOUR BIG GROTESQUE FRIGHTENING FORM. YOU ARE PART OF ME. Now come sit and be quiet, I have work to do.

SOUL WORK.

HARD WORK LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER KNOWN.

WILD WOMAN WORK.

Lose the things that need to be lost. Let them go. Honour them, remember them fondly like a lost lover, but put them down and put one foot in front of the other again.

Find the things that need to be found. Face to fear. Face it because you have to. It’s a choice again. This or death. Not in a Life-Death-Life cycle but in a this is the end abyss so be thrilled by it and then step back with renewed vigor and purpose and knowing.

LISTEN.

I hear you.

I see you.

I honour your hurt.

Feel every last ounce of it. It will make you a better human being.

Remind yourself why you love people so much. BECAUSE YOU LOVE YOURSELF.

Not every moment on every day in a vocal way, some days you have to dig and sit and wait for the blue sky of knowing to peep through the blackest storm clouds for you to go ‘Yes there she is. There is my love. MY LOVE.’ But a belief, Inherent, wise, that it is always above.

Now go and share and sing it so loud that people will defy gravity because of your resounding voice speaking to their souls. TRUTH that they ARE ready to hear. That they CAN handle and will reverberate to the deepest beat of the heart.

WE ARE THE ARCHITECTS OF OUR FUTURE…OF THE FUTURE.

I choose to be present to it all. To tighten up and to listen hard and to raise my head with open eyes and say I AM READY FOR IT. LET’S GO.

In retreat and in action, in reflection and in movement, I want to feel it all because it is the only way I will ever feel it. I am still learning.

Sometimes the same lessons in different disguises, through familiar voices and feelings that creep up with such knowing I could swear they knew me from the beginning of time. To wrestle with and heal and grow forth. To rise and to lead from the biggest open heart I know how to own. To love fully and unconditionally. As Woman as She who has always known. THANK YOU.

The Architects of our own Future Part One

I’ve always been a people pleaser. Maybe because I have always loved people and so making them happy, I thought would make me happy. Wrong. It is wholly unsustainable to make other people happy, nor is it in fact possible. People make themselves happy. Let me redefine that. People can bring joy, connection, companionship, love and respect to others, but to truly make someone happy? Impossible. We have to make ourselves happy. We can only make ourselves happy.

I spent years and years trying to make someone else happy. I’m not even sure I knew specifically who it even was. A mysterious ideal maybe, of what I should be doing, saying, being. What bullshit. I was so far into it, getting more miserable with ever fleeting glimpses of true joy and pleasure in my own sense of self that I was fading. And fast. This made me so…angry. God I was mad, raging red and full of hot hot heat. It was THEIR fault, not mine. Why can’t THEY be more this or less that. Why aren’t they trying to make ME happy when I am so clearly trying to make them happy. Aren’t THEY happy yet? Haven’t I done enough? Where is my reward and glory?

It has taken me literally YEARS to realise that there was NOTHING ANYBODY could have done. Why?

Because I was so desperately disconnected to myself, I wasn’t even sure I knew how to make myself happy, what did I even like that went beyond a face and façade of the escapism found in another bottle of wine, take-away box or packet of cigarettes. Watching mindless television or unmemorable nights spent in pubs or racing round town getting to the third social engagement of the night. Keeping ‘busy’.

I was exhausted. I was so tenderly, twistedly, tormented by running on the spot truly believing that I was getting somewhere, anywhere. Further up the ladder, further away from the low level, increasingly high level anxiety. The unchanging landscape of my life left me bored out of my mind, punctuated only by euphoric moments on recreational drugs with my best friends who were probably in their own sinking ships, where the serotonin flooding my brain cleared enough space for me to feel. TO FEEL. That THIS is what it is about – connection on a tangible, tactile, close, basic level. Proximity to love and tribal community was but a whisper and it felt like home.

But the crashing come down and hangover only impacted harder with the crushing reality of a new week starting, the post-holiday blues kicking in and it all beginning again. Like you’d never been away. Never skipped a beat.

Suffering silently behind the smoking and laughing and alcohol blurred benders of being a ‘laugh’ and ‘loud’ and ‘fun’.

I was in serious trouble. I had to do something.

Like a lighthouse in a perfect storm I saw a lifeline and knew from somewhere else that this was my chance. I went to a festival that cracked me open just a chink. Enough to let the light flood in and bathe my aching soul. I had to DO something. That was it. ACTION. It must be taken, because when you are so shit scared and the two options laid out bare in front of you are carry on and die or finally stop and do something else. Change the course, reroute, turn HARD LEFT.

I quit. I had so much tied up with my job and what I had laid at its feet to fix for me and my own sense of identity that one or the other had to go. Job or sense of self. Pick. I chose self. The wild woman is not dead yet…merely sleeping a long fucking deep arsed sleep.

I was bruised and blaming. THEY were still at fault, I was free-falling and winging every tiny thing.

Book the flight. Go. Fly. Gain ground and time and distance. PERSPECTIVE. Go live in the future where they have sunshine in their voices and smiles in the sea.

Half and half

CREDIT: wholelifewellbeing.com
CREDIT: wholelifewellbeing.com

I am a glass half full kind of gal.

I have always had (according to my dear papa) an ability to always believe that things will be OK.  Sure I have my moments when this is not the case, especially when I run out of tea bags.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a lost cause, that there is always time to change and that it is human nature to fight for what you believe in and ultimately stand for.

The world is in a pretty bad state at the moment, but I believe in the power of one.

I think it’s easy to over complicate things and that groups of many can be intimidating, or lead to a ‘Why bother?’ kind of attitude; something or someone else is already doing it/will handle it.

But

If you believe in one, then that feels do-able. It feels like a step and that it can be achieved. We have forgotten how to be simple. We have lost the need to take time to learn and digest, to borrow from lessons learnt and apply them again.

If we look at just ourselves and taking on one thing; if everyone picked just one thing to nurture and focus on, then that is 7 billion things being looked after and studied, improved and challenged. If that one thing is yourself, on making you the most open and nurtured and noticed.

Then we can look at the empty half of the glass and see it as space to grow into.

 

CREDIT: www.flickr.com
CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com

Life Lessons – #1. when you are laid bare take a bloody good look

Image credit - Pinterest
Image credit – Pinterest

I was twenty and although I had had relationships before this was my first soul-cracking-crazy-making-in-LOVE love. And it was over.

I was heart broken, but I realised I was also someone that I didn’t particularly like, or know any more. I hurt, but I had also hurt. Badly. Deeply. Irreparably.

It took a long time to heal from that relationship, in part because at the time my young heart was new to attempting to keep the world together on the outside, whilst taking a long hard look at myself on the inside.

I realised that sometimes you have to hit two extremes to work out where your centre is. That balance is not about staying on the straight and narrow but a see-saw of exchange between you, and the outside world. And sometimes, you and the inside world too.

I learnt to be careful with my own heart, but also to be careful with someone else’s and the things that you forget can be kept and clung to in their memory, if maybe forgotten in yours.

I learnt that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides, and for all you can throw out, it can be thrown back in equal measure.

Love is love. Forgiveness is forgiveness. No matter what skirt you dress it up in.

Scar tissue isn’t there to be buried but to be celebrated. When the light catches it by chance and a silver sliver is just caught out of the corner of your eye, cheer it on. Send out the love and the luck and the wishes, a thousand times over. It is a lesson.

I learnt acceptance and in the glorious sadness of it all, I became someone so much stronger, and yet softer, than before.

It changed me forever and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

TAKE CARE. TAKE COURAGE.

x

Image credit: Wikipedia
Image credit: Wikipedia

Courage is creativity

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/FightForEquality?fref=photo
Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/FightForEquality?fref=photo

I quote this from a dear friend of mine who said this. It’s a tool to use when the gremlins of self-doubt and fear pipe up, to which you simply respond ‘I call bullshit.’.

Short, to the point and just the tonic to silence those pesky voices of negativity.

I also love it because it really rings true. This very week in fact I had a wobble…one that was about the usual wobbly things…you know, money (lack of), direction (lack of), feeling like a failure/ imposter (in abundance). Because what would I have to offer anyone? Little old me. And then this little sentence popped up…’I CALL BULLSHIT’.

Effective no?

The truth is no matter how shit we think we are, or how small we feel like playing it, there is something so much bigger than our fear out there; our courage.

Courage is not being showy or false, it is not putting on a mask and ignoring intuition. Courage is knowing that we are imperfect beings with huge limitations BUT also infinite possibility. It’s about calling bullshit on those gremlins and going out there and beaming your light for all to see as brightly as you can.

Sometimes we nail it, other times we don’t, the courage comes from trying, playing around, mixing it up and experimenting some more and then trying again.

Beyond where we thought we could go and where we actually can is where the good stuff lies.

Courage is creativity.

Creativity is our own unique expression of how we see the world. And that only comes around once. Make it count.

Want know more about how I can help you to tell your Gremlins to do one? Or how we can dig deep and find some creative tinder…and maybe even some courage? Comment “BALLS PLEASE” below…

Shine on.

TAKE CARE. TAKE COURAGE.

x

A love letter

Credit SheKnows.com
Credit SheKnows.com

Amma quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear yoga,

It’s been two years since we properly met. Sure I’d seen you around before and we even had a brief dalliance in my late teens, but nothing has been as long lasting as this.

Two years ago I walked into that studio, a million miles from the woman that I am today. A tenser, scared, hurting version, who had yet to un-peel the many layers that had been ever so carefully placed over the years.

I have never felt the way I do when I am with you. You who has given me so much and shown me the world.

How to be strong and yet surrender. How to embrace the uniqueness of every single moment, at any given time, in any given way and see it is just so. How to slow down, but also how to amp it up and meet my boundary and see how far the edge actually is. To ALWAYS COME BACK TO THE BREATH. How to have patience and evolve without losing a sense of play and giving it a go. How to work opposing forces and feel that perfect suspension. How to sweat and work for it. But most importantly, for me, how to truly love the only home I will have forever.

From a girl who had never felt comfortable in my own body, you gave me somewhere to feel expanded and at ease. The dedication and determination to keep digging deeper, to keep going and growing and flowing. To feel it all, and be totally OK with it.

After about my fourth time, I remember barely being able to keep tears back, such was the release, the movement of something I had been holding onto for years, for my entire life so far. And I knew that even without knowing, I had found IT.

You gave me my life and for that I am more thankful and grateful than I think even I will comprehend.

You have taught me the importance of occupying my own space, of not finding anything in the past that couldn’t be all consumingly loved in the present and bear witness to that transformation.

To not worry about what may be, but to meet each moment with fresh curiosity because it will be the only version of that moment I will ever have. Indeed it is all we ever have.

From the bottom of my heart, I love you.

Thank you for bringing me back to life.

NAMASTE

Credit yogayo.ga
Credit yogayo.ga

Get some Headspace

Headspace

Short fuses and impatience has been common place in my life for…well…ever really.

About ten years ago, it came to pass that what was an initial impatience became a quite serious jump into all out frustration and yes I hate to say it but total irrational losing it like a crazy lady.

This, coupled with developing crippling anxiety and stress at the ripe old age of twenty six, all came to a bit of a climax during, what is kindly referred to by myself and my fella as ‘Black February’.

Seriously as fun as it sounds (Bruce Willis would have headlined should it have been a film).

In short I’d lost my shit and was in serious trouble.

So imagine my little ‘I’m-actually-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time-maybe-I-should-listen’ radar went off when I found out that Andy Puddicombe – founder of Headspace would be a speaker at a festival I was going to (the Do Lectures)

I’d heard of Headspace before and had even downloaded the app (that obviously means I should get the benefits by iPhone osmosis no?) However never actually had found those 10 minutes to stop, until about two years ago.

When, and get this….it was when I recommended to a friend that she should try it because she felt like she was losing her shit on a regular basis and couldn’t calm down. Ah…I can certainly dish out the good advice…

So, time to put the mind where the mouth was and Take 10 for 10 days.

It was the best spent 10 minutes. EVER.

There was a definite ‘No shit Sherlock’ moment when I realised that BECAUSE I was short tempered, irrational, anxious occasionally, and had a fish-like memory,  that meditation was EXACTLY what I needed.

Now I will admit that I am partial to a bit of incense every now and then and don’t have an issue with chanting or getting in touch with my chakra’s however I know plenty of people who do and this is what makes Headspace so truly magic.

There are no bells or chanting, you don’t have to be able to sit in a lotus position, hell you don’t even have to sit on the floor. It’s simply Mr Puddicombe talking you through what to focus on; your breath – something we ALL HAVE TO DO all the time anyway to stay alive.

Brill.

I am proud to say that I have taken 10, I have taken 15, hell I’ve even taken 20 and am now further into the plethora of series on offer,  and it has sincerely changed my life.

Sure I still get annoyed, however I know now that it will pass, that it’s just a thought or a feeling, that everyone has them and that’s OK and to simply LET IT GO.

So if you have a spare two minutes – download the app and give it a go. Isn’t it time you got some head space?

Have you ever tried meditation? What do you think?

TCTC,

Jo x