Tag Archives: life

Pressure

There are times in each of our lives where we are literally moving/ stumbling/ lurching from one moment to the next without space or pause to catch our breath. It is with some great relief that I sit here now on the other side of one of these such episodes. I am currently basking in the lightness of my shoulders which had been tightly straining towards my ears, and the ease with which sleep now comes.

Within in a very small window of time my dear husband and I moved house, he broke his arm the very week before the move, I started a new job and I had a conference to prepare two talks for. I began walking into the next thing that was immediately in front of me. Nothing else could possibly fit.

It was during this incredible period of flux that for the first time in my life I arrived at a department presentation run through for the conference entirely unprepared. That week I had kicked goals in my new job and moved house… and had done so at the expense of my papers. As I listened to other people share their work, the lack in mine became amplified. As I sped through my slides and talked about what I was going to say, I was struck by how much work actually sat before me. I sat through the feedback feeling despondent and when my boss asked me to stop by her office as I was racing out the door to pick my parents up from the airport… Well I had to stop, message my folks and let them know I’d be late and sit with my boss. There is only space for this thing that is in front of me right now.

The talks became my thing in front of me for the next 7 days. Over Easter I sat from breakfast to bedtime in front of my computer re- running analyses on my data to meet the aforementioned feedback and crafting my slides. Then I flew to where the conference was and skyped my boss, this time only details needed modifying. A colleague poured over them both with me and our Head of Department as well because I forgot to mention, this forum is the most important one in my field and it’s the first time my data is being presented. For me professionally, it’s kind of a big deal.

Three sleepless nights in Adelaide. Away from my husband who is in our new home, surrounded by boxes with his broken arm. All consumed by these talks. They’re ready but I still sit in the hotel bar and order dessert for dinner with a side of wine while I continue to tweak and fuss. I’m ready, it’s the eleventh hour but I am bloody ready. Sleep still doesn’t come.

Because sleep was an elusive beast I took my sweet time getting ready the day of my talks. I dressed in yellow because, well because yellow! I strolled along slowly looking for a good place to get coffee and I rolled into the conference feeling a reasonable amount of decent. My talks went well and were well received. I’m chuffed because I got to crack an opening joke that scored a laugh when the tech failed at the start of my first of two consecutive presentations.

Suddenly there is space to gather myself, check that I  am still as I should be, all my parts are here. I can breath and make space for others again. My world has opened up once more. I am more, not less, engaged in my work. I am eager to claim the rain-checks I’ve collected with our families and friends and see my sisters squishy bambinos because they grow so darn fast!

I think periods such as this, where you can only focus on this most pressing thing right here in front of you, are important. For me at least, there was great benefit in being capable of only dealing with the next most pressing thing because that pressure meant that I was immersed in what I was doing, whether that was moving house or sitting in Emergency (twice) with my dear husband, figuring out my new role at work and how to juggle it with my existing one, or the brief moments I was able to take with friends, or my presentations. I was entirely immersed in that moment. That immersion created a depth and state of flow unlike my common every day experience. This period of respite from that is full of inspiration drawn from that immersion and a heightened level of appreciation for the people I love.

Pressure, not a bad thing but definitely not a sustainable thing. I am gratefully enriched by the flux of recent weeks and ready for some quiet steady time to make the most of what I have managed to take away from it.

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” ~ Peter Marshall

A Sensitive Subject

Motherhood, or I think I should say parenthood is a journey that is a little longer in coming to some. For a few, it simply doesn’t. For women it is this magical, mystical rite of passage into womanhood, a leveling up to motherhood. We do not talk about the pitfalls, our struggles, our losses. We walk in one end of a hallway and we walk out with a squishy bambino in our arms or we walk out teary and empty handed, either way, never to mention the journey between.

This is the single most disappointing thing I have encountered, this silence, this not talking about our challenges and difficulties. We are so proud of our achievements and we present our best everything to the world, but we nurse our disappointments, our fears and our heartbreak silently. We feel we are alone. I’d like to change all of that, and if I can help  in any, even small way lift someone up or give them courage or hope or even feel less alone then this is worthwhile.

I woke up the day after Christmas, Boxing day morning, feeling a little seedy. I had this pressure in my lower belly and I needed to pee constantly. Hang on a second! My period was due yesterday (I know right, awesome Christmas timing- actually I seem to have the worst timing, lucky me!). I am like clockwork so this is odd, plus I always get a few signs in the days preceding, and come to think of it there’d been no signs aside from terribly painful breasts but that isn’t new, that’s literally every single month… but just maybe something is different…

We had been semi-seriously “trying” since not long after my 35th birthday, with a couple months delay for immunisation boosters and health checks. Now why is it that women have to have the MOST thorough examination of their health and men don’t even get a look in on theirs until you’ve been trying a damn long while? Anyway, back on track… We had a couple late cycles that prompted us to test. In fact the first cycle that we tried I was one of those highly anxious types who was completely absorbed by chat rooms. In every single moment I was scanning my body for early pregnancy signs and I even tested three days before my period was due. That first two week wait was the absolute WORST. I was the worst and I decided I couldn’t handle that level of intensity again. So from memory we took the next month off and ever since I have waited until my period was late before peeing on a stick. The damned beast has been 3 days late, I have tested negative before she decided to grace me with her presence and my husband and I both teared up with the disappointment.

After 5 months of disappointment (I know, I have a low threshold for disappointment) I decided to try acupuncture. I have to say, every session worked a different area of my body and a shitload of emotional “stuff” shifted each time. I had five treatments in a month timed around my cycle. I was a bit fatalistic that month because we had been tired and hadn’t exactly met the gold standard of timing efforts, but it’s a difficult process after a while and I particularly really didn’t have any more energy to throw into baby making. Well knock me down with a feather, acupuncture might just have helped us conceive in the very first month of giving it a try.

So, we found out on Boxing day that we were pregnant. That second little line in the pee test came up before the test line, no waiting required! You would have thought that we had gifted the most incredible blessing on our family. We decided that we would tell only the people we would seek comfort from if we had a loss, it’s early days after all. Tears and kisses and hugs flowed. We started talking baby names and what they would be like. We were imagining them growing up with their cousins and we were being asked if we minded hand-me-downs… um, does anyone mind hand-me-downs? We love them! My sweet husband would look adoringly at my belly and say “I wonder how big you’ll grow” and cuddles suddenly always enveloped my lower abdomen and our growing dancing bean. Such a miraculous time, such a marvelous gift.

We never would have known that we were in trouble except for a bit of spotting. I read everything on the internet and too many women had a serious issue related to their spotting for me to leave it. I called a healthline we have here in Australia. They prompted me to go the my doctor who sent me for an urgent scan and gave me a request form for another blood test Monday, it was Friday. The following two weeks were harrowing for my husband and I. Our pregnancy, the baby we envisioned in the swelling belly we imagined was in trouble.

The scan the doctor wanted done at first involves a massively full bladder, or at least that is what it feels like. I’m only in early pregnancy at this stage so they can’t see much and I have to empty my bladder so I can be “more comfortable” while they invade my nether regions with the scanner… this was seriously the most invasive scan I’ve had in my life. But right there on the screen, in my uterus, is a gestation sac. I’m told it doesn’t have any features like a foetal pole or yolk sac but it’s early days. I leave the scan to go and have dinner with a girlfriend, because life is sweet man.

When I arrived at my friends house I checked my phone messages because I’d missed a call in transit. It was the doctors office. My doctor had gone home for the day when the radiologists called with news. I needed to be seen urgently, by a different doc. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I called my husband to meet me at the docs and I was on my way. I rang my mum enroute. I cried. I had no idea yet what was wrong but it had to be bad right? To need to be seen urgently?

I arrived first. Sitting in the waiting room, fidgeting and needing to pee every 5 minutes, I begged for extra time (please let Scott make it, please don’t make me go in by myself). My pleas went unheard, doctors have other patients and they were squeezing me in. I sat down and the first words out of the doctors mouth were “I can’t say this is a viable pregnancy” because of the no foetal signs thing. Bonus round I also had a cyst by my right ovary that looked very similar to the gestational sac in my uterus and they were worried about an ectopic pregnancy. How lucky am I? There was a baby where one could grow, and there could be one where it couldn’t.

My husband arrived and they sent him on in. He looked kind of gray and very worried. I tried not to cry. Tears escaped my eyes anyway. We were put on high alert with strict signs to act on and head straight to emergency. I was sent for an urgent blood test and it took 4 attempts to draw my stubborn, frightened blood. The phlebotomist was lovely and she added us to her prayers that night. We were 5 weeks, 5 days.

The same GP we saw the night before phoned early Saturday morning, he said my blood hormone level had risen “an okay amount” but to remain on high alert for pain and a change in spotting. I was to have another blood test Monday morning, all being well. It is amazing the sensations you become aware of when you are on alert. Even gas pains need to be examined until relieving them dissipates the discomfort, yes I’m talking about farts. Every niggle was suspicious, we were the meerkats of Bels body, on high alert watching for any and all threats.

We made it to Monday, and it felt like an eternity had passed. We had another blood test. The blood came easier this time. My blood hormone levels had risen, slowly. This was not what we expected, we were more prepared for it to be launching like a rocket faster than was safe, get her to hospital, she’s going to blow! Our GP told us she thought we were going to miscarry. She said nothing about the cyst that was the cause of our angst since Friday. We went home and cried.

Tuesday I woke with pain before sunrise. The kind we had been told to act on. Then there was spotting. We had to go. In the Emergency department they were kind but their instruments were cruel. The massive cannula sticking deep in my hand was painful and the bed was hard. For a long time the doctors deliberated about referring me to Obstetrics and Gynaecology. When they finally did, the world made more sense. It was 4 days since our first scan, the first time we saw our empty little gestation sac. We were 6 weeks and 2 days when we saw it again, unchanged. My heart sank.

Two incredible doctors from the Obstetrics team saw me that day. The first, a junior doctor wearing a bright yellow dress, had such compassion and consideration for my dignity and our emotional well being that even now I am overwhelmed with gratitude. She gave us an honest, cautious hope with the right balance of “we just don’t know” and “I hope I get to deliver your baby”. The second doctor, the registrar informed us in the most kind way that we could have a completely healthy pregnancy, or we could miscarry and that sometimes pregnancies just run out of puff. She said what was great was that we know we are able to get pregnant. In theory, everything works as it should. We clung to her words and started to talk to ourselves about “systems checks” and “test runs”.

Cautious optimism and a heavy heart were my constant companions. We left the hospital with blood tests every two days and a request form for my least favourite scan in a weeks time. I am developing a needle phobia. Friday I became very worried. The wonderful doctor in the yellow dress phoned wanting to cancel my regular scan in preference for a specialist one. My blood hormone was only creeping up. She made the appointment for me for Monday. Another long weekend, but now my dear sweet husband is away and he cannot envelope me in his arms and fortify me against the coming storm.

The spotting became bleeding off and on over the weekend. Fear now, not worry. I knew without a doubt that something wasn’t right. More than a question now, I was sure. But that growing baby in the swelling belly that you imagine from the moment you see that second line on the pregnancy test won’t let you listen to your instincts with clarity. It’s too frightening to contemplate that your changing body, your restricted diet, your nausea and fatigue are for nothing. They are a price you paid, for what? For admission to a collective unable to discuss their pain, their thwarted expectations, their fear of what it means about them, how they let down their lover, what they did wrong, their feelings of unworthiness, the shame?

Staring back at me that Monday afternoon was the empty sac I knew in my heart to expect. Where there should have been a developing brain, little arm buds, a visible heart, there was the same emptiness I had seen in those other terrible scans. I could wait and re-scan in two or three days. With my husband away for work, perhaps it made sense to wait but my broken heart couldn’t bear it. We scheduled a D&C for the next day. Thank God I have my mum. I walked into the hardest day of my life by myself and I had to call her and ask her to come, she was there in a heartbeat as all loving mums are. She wrapped me up in her love and compassion while she also grieved, for a grandchild who would not be and for her own child’s suffering. Having her there stopped the flood of tears and upset and I found a semblance of strength. No one should expect themselves to go through something like that alone.

I paid my price for admission to a collective that has largely been silent but is growing in it’s openness. What I found when the sad decision was made, was that there is a veritable army of women who have suffered losses and still love. Who are brimming with compassion, who care and wish to lift you up. Because when they suffered it left a mark on their soul but hope remained in their hearts and they went on to have healthy pregnancies and to become proud mummas to those squishy little bambinos. But what they see in you, or me and our loss, what they lift up in you is your motherhood. They inspire in you the courage and the confidence to try again.

I am now a week and two days on from facing a decision to allow my body to be helped along and speed up the healing of my broken heart, or to allow my body to wind things up naturally, which could mean another month or more of intermittent bleeding and a prolonged recovery, subsequently further delay in achieving a viable pregnancy. I took the help and it was through that assistance so many women were able to lift me up in my darkest hour. I was not alone. I was far from alone and many were invested in my full recovery of hope, courage and spirit. I have to say, as well as my friends many of them were women I came across during my single day in hospital. Nurses cried with me, doctors and nurses held my hand and shared their stories and helped me see mine wasn’t over.

The men in my life did a wonderful job of being compassionate and optimistic as well. I must say my dear Scott-the-Lot is full of optimism and is very much looking forward to fatherhood, he speaks about it more often now. My brothers shared their concern and did their best to reassure and comfort me and their words were some of the ones that stuck most closely to my heart.  My dad was there for me in a way only dads can, by being stoic but present and good with a hug. Of most value to me though were the men in my life that asked after how Scott was doing. These were men who had also experienced a loss or shared a difficult journey to parenthood. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we share this journey with our partners because it is our bodies but it is also their lives, their hopes, their dreams, our story. My Scott the lot is doing better than I am, he has his face shining forward and he is bundling me along with him, but I still make an effort to keep the conversation open.

So now I want to share with you that yesterday was the first day that I felt like I did before I was pregnant. My fear is that it feels too much like it never happened, that no one will know, that I will forget. I get teary when I think about having been pregnant, then not being pregnant all of a sudden without having the joy and fulfillment of a swelling belly and subsequently a wriggly bub. Suddenly it felt as though there was less that was special about me. Then I recall the women that held me up and I remember that I am one of them. I too will wear the scar on my heart and move forward boldly in the face of fear and we will try again.

I have read (of course I have “Dr Googled” EVERYTHING) that losing a pregnancy at any stage is hard. But at whatever stage you suffer a heart wrenching loss, from the moment you see those two sweet lines on a pregnancy test you go through a transformation. You and your husband or partner have hopes and expectations, you discuss baby names and what kind of child your bub will be, you think about how you’ll manage work and an infant or how you’ll tell your boss, you tell your nearest and dearest and they are so fricken excited for you and for themselves and the role they’ll get to play in your baby’s life… and those hopes cannot be taken back. Your heart will carry a sadness, a weight, a sense of loss, until it doesn’t. Until then, speak with other women and men about your loss, it’s passed the time where we should keep silent on such things. Reach out so that they may lift you up, as I was lifted up and as we should lift each other up.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.”  ~William Shakespeare

In The Thick Of It

Life. Gritty fucking life.

Life is the thing that connects us. It is what makes us the same. The agony of tragedy, the sweetness of joy, the grey nothingness of  less than average but not awful and the level contentment of okay. Life is fickle. It doesn’t care about your dreams and plans. It is here to thrive and sometimes shit gets real to enable growth, think of a fire turning everything black then rapidly spawning new life.

We don’t always know at the time why tragedy happens. Why we face the worst. Why the world we operate in is suddenly shaky, unpredictable, frightening. Why loved ones suddenly pass from this world, a pregnancy fails, a cancer diagnosis, we lose that job and our livelihood, a car accident changes everything. We don’t know why it happens but we know there must be a reason right?

Tragedies don’t happen for a reason. They are simply hard luck or natures way. You were in the line of fire. It sucks. And we’re human so we want it to be for something. Surely our suffering must serve a higher purpose. It must because we have reasoning brains and opposable thumbs and are no longer living in the thick of mother nature at the whim of the seasons, the wind, drought, floods, fire. Except that we are. Furthermore, our “seperateness” from nature makes our tragedies less survival and more personal. Its no longer “natures way”, no it must mean something more.

It doesn’t mean anything. Your personal tragedies, and mine, as extraordinary as they were or are did not happen for some higher purpose. But we can make meaning of it in our lives. We can make our losses count for something as we move forward. Let’s start with compassion for others who have lost as we have. Maybe we could be kind first and foremost and not judge each other so harshly. Maybe we will be first to help or speak out. Maybe we will work to be better than yesterday, to contribute, to connect, to be a useful and helpful member of our species. Maybe we will begin to appreciate that this life is fragile, it is fickle, it affects each of us in the same ways as we hope and love and lose and we will realise that we are in the thick of it together.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing, sprinkle that shit everywhere. ~ Author Unknown

The new age of friendship

There once was a time when friendships had the space to grow apart then close again as the river of life flowed and ebbed. Those days are gone. Well, I hope they haven’t vanished altogether but there is an insidious presence that is like a virtual skin overlaid on our interactions that causes us to feel closer and more entitled than we perhaps are.

Of course I am referring to social media. In all of it’s wonderful expressions, the soapboxes it gives us access to, the humanitarian causes it deposits right in our hearts, the news and nonsense it barrages us with daily. Among the noise we observe each others lives.

We feel intimately close at the birth of your child, we celebrate your birthday from afar, we experience the highs and the lows, the rages and the celebrations. Without any interaction required. Then we forget that we need to reach out…

We may feel so close to someone that we feel hurt and confused because we weren’t invited to a celebration; we may be offended by how passionately, violently, extremely someone expressed their views; we may even just have seen enough of the copious amounts of any particular thing someone is sharing… and we can delete them. The future present moments that might have been shared, sacrificed for a moment of self righteousness misplaced.

It is a savage and brutal state of play that we find ourselves in when we can literally check out of someones life when we have had enough. Once upon a time, we could drift in and out as life or patience and tolerance allowed knowing that the friendship itself would remain in tact. Part of the joy then was to catch up on all that life had brought during a long intermission.

Now however, it seems like those pauses are suitable only for the special few. The special few who remember what friendships were like. What life is like. Those who can appreciate that there is in fact distance despite the seemingly constant but artificial connection. Those who care enough to be open to the meeting that will inevitably come down that track. Those who might even pick up the phone and say “hey, it’s been a while, what’s news?”. Through it all appreciating that you will reunite with joy and be grateful to have much to share.

When it is us who are cast aside we’ll notice, we’ll wonder and we may even feel sad for a time. But then the world will pull us forward, on to the next pressing thing and sadly, that exit will pass by without fanfare. Life is busy and the people in it are precious. Don’t be too quick to slam the door. Perhaps get to know the “hide” button before jumping on “unfriend”.

“The best rule of friendship is to keep your heart a little softer than your head.” ~Author Unknown

If only I could

I am a bit of a reader of books oriented to making sense of an emotionally turbulent world. I like to make sense of why things happen and why they impact us the way they do. I like to have some idea of what drives us and how we may suffer from our own and other people actions.

The more I read, the easier it is to choose a different way, and the more I wish I had known all of this much earlier. If I had been really aware that we are intelligent beings driven by primitive desires that served to keep us safe in ancient times; If I had realised that my anxiety made me vicious and mean to protect me when  I would prefer to be kind and compassionate; If I had truly appreciated how well we can care for each other, solve problems and communicate our needs from a place of kindness, gentleness and compassion; Then there is a very great deal that I would do differently now. For myself, and most certainly for others.

Love is one of our most powerful drives as human beings, besides greed which is really a throw back to our ancestral days needing to secure the most resources to feed our tribe (at a time when resources were scarce- it has been suggested that as a species we lack a satiety button because we never needed one)… Love., I was talking about love. We yearn for connection, to belong, to be thought of in a positive way and cared for. We need it in fact.

Following a strange breakup- which eventually turned out not to be so strange since he had been seeing someone else- a friend of mine and I connected. Because we were on opposite sides of the country at first we had skype dates, and phone calls, and text messages. I mattered to someone and that person mattered to me. Sadly, meanwhile I was hurting pretty bad from the confusing breakup. I didn’t move far from my bed, I didn’t cook and I rarely changed out of my pyjamas. So these skype dates because pretty important to bring some colour back to a dreary and sad world.

A small amount of time went by, a few weeks. My dear friend flew from the other side of the country to see me. It was very exciting and incredibly romantic. No one had ever done something so grand for little old me before and predictably I felt very special. But not long after he arrived, I began to feel inexplicably sad. I wasn’t ready for this kid of relationship. My mind, with it’s scared and anxious thoughts started to make me believe that there was no way my friend could understand that it was just too much to contemplate a romance and let’s just enjoy each others company. Instead it made me bitchy, crabby, argumentative and generally unpleasant. Long way to come to be treated so poorly.

I realise now several things that could have made for a different scenario. I also understand that in the midst of my angst the kindness centre of my brain was somewhat inhibited and I was in survival mode. But what could have made it better would have been knowing that anxiety is an old world defense mechanism. Knowing this defense for what it is I could have worked at communicating my fears from a place of kindness, gentleness and compassion instead of allowing myself to act from anxiety. I could have held dear how far my friend had come and honoured his hopes with kindness, gentleness and compassion instead of acting like a cornered and caged animal with the surly teeth-gnashing responses he did not deserve. I could have approached our time together as a whole from a place of kindness, gentleness and compassion and allowed us to have fun and forge a lasting foundation of friendship instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater a midst waves of anxiety generated defense mechanisms based in a fear that he would not accept my need for only friendship.

This friendship was/is important to me. If I could have that time again, with the knowledge I have now, I would do so much differently. If only I could.

“She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful.”  ~Terri St. Cloud

Darkest Before Dawn

For some time now I have been haunted in the evenings, in the quiet spaces of the night, by the inescapable truth that we are fleeting. Dread washes over me and only my physical body’s wisdom can break through the fear. With conscious breath and a firm connection to the weight of my body on my feet or on the bed I can calm myself. But every night I do the same.

My fear of death, not just mine but yours and the critters we share this world with, has been a very strong experience that has shadowed the vast majority of years of my life. It started when I was a child, I would become so scared about inevitable nothingness that I would not know what to do. My dad’s heartbeat always helped but as you get older that’s not so accessible, practical or portable. Sometimes it would bubble up only once every little while, mildly so that I could easily let it pass. A year ago it was as bad as distressing panic attacks that made it impossible to hide from my beloved. At that time it would bubble up during work. Sitting in the lunch room eating, I would school my features to hide the saturation of fear from the people sharing the room as they talked about light every-day stuff. The truth is not that I have this fear. I have always known it. The truth is that I know how to alleviate it.

I understand that this is not a welcome topic in many circles. Who wants to sit with the discomfort thinking about your mortality creates?  If we broaden our scope outside of Western culture what will we find?  Death is removed from our reality with our “it won’t happen to me” attitudes and societal expectation that when someone you love passes you get over it “quick march” while the world cruelly pushes on. Once upon a time our dead stayed in our homes for weeks before burial. Nowadays our loved ones are whisked away, we might see them briefly but in a blur of ceremony they are truly gone. It never occurs to us that we might lose them, or that we ourselves are not going to be here forever.

Some of the happiest and most peaceful people in the world are aware every moment that the next might be their last. They make peace with the angel of death and make compassion their modus operandi. I am of course referring to buddhists and the toltec. I am sure there are many others, but these come to the forefront of my mind. Traditions such as these give thanks for the presence of life, they work at not letting the world humans have created get them down, and they treat each creature with kindness, recognising that we all share the same fate.

How does this help me with my scary-arsed panic attacks? There is a magic in this world and when I am able to see and hear it, I do not suffer. And I suppose in truth this is where work, as I have previously discussed it, plays it’s part. When I am constantly busy with no time to sit quietly, to observe the world and connect with it, then I do struggle. When I neglect my spirituality then I do suffer. When I fail to spend time around the people who matter most then I do struggle. It makes sense that these are the places I must look to reduce the impact of this shadow that has shared my journey thus far. If Tibetan monks can be so sure they won’t see tomorrow and yet be happy, I am sure it can be overcome.

I need to ensure I have a strong spiritual connection. Surely there are methods beyond measure to achieve this. For a person who believes in something greater, but not the man-made doctrines that make so many cultures spin, I will begin in nature and in being present.  I am reading a book (because that’s how I roll) on shamanism to help me be present in this moment. I want to always be able to feel connected with the energies of nature and to know where my own are going. I have started a garden in my new house because having natural colour and birds around is important to me.  I’m going to light more candles, burn more incense, go for nature hikes. I am going to lay on the beach facing the sky and let the heat of the sun light up every cell in my body, starting with the ones behind my eyelids that glow red when my face is directed at the sun.

To further connect with my spirit I am going to make more time to spend quality moments with my loved ones. It is the connections that we make, the ways we love, contribute and connect that make us who we are. Our loved ones are our community, they are the people we were born to, choose to spend time with, met in a fleeting moment and recognised from another place we can’t put words to. The people with whom we feel that everything makes sense. They are our training ground, our play yard, our reward for all that we express in the world. Knowing them, being connected to them, contributing to their lives and opening our lives to them makes everyhing worthwhile.

I am going to be grateful every day for the small and great things in my life. I am going to look for ways that I can be helpful. I am going to hold compassion as my first attitude whether it be for another human being or other creature because we are all the same. I am going to hold myself lightly and respond to the demands of life with curiosity before stress and anxiety. We each have the right to live well, to be ourselves, to not be persecuted nor persecute ourselves. We live, we die, we can’t take our gadgets or our wealth with us. We can leave a loving legacy. I am going to live each day as if it was my last chance to contribute something good, be that a smile to a sad passerby, an extra warm hug for a loved one, or taking a risk to make a big difference.

My journey right now is to make peace with death and the inevitability of dying so that I can truly live. Freely. Fully. With my whole being engaged in the cycle of death feeding life and life feeding death. I do not expect this to be a smooth or easy task, but it is a worthwihle one. I expect that each time a bubble of panic rises to close my throat it will be less intense and more brief than the last one. It is time to embrace the little deaths of change and be at peace with the greater. I will make the angel of death my friend and advisor so as to not waste a single moment.

“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” ~John Muir

Ch ch ch ch changes!

Ah the chaos and joy of a big move. When you pick up all of your worldly posessions and shift them, wholus bolus to an entirely new location… despite your plans to do a ruthless cull of the stuff that really serves no purpose except to occupy space. Space that could be used to improve the aesthetic, increase the energetic vibration of your home, allow for a clearer energy flow, to allow space for the inhalation of all things warm and wonderful and the exhalation of all that does not serve you…

So that didn’t happen. As I foreshadowed we ran out of time to do our spacious cleanse and just needed to do our best in the hours we had free outside of work and sleep, to move our worldly belongings. Despite this and the resultant chaos and clutter at the other end, our new abode has a warm loving glow to it. I arrive home after an extended commute and our fur babies seem calm and content, a smile blooms across my face and my heart opens.

One of the very first features that went up was a feature wall of us. This is the first time we will have our own home that is not shared with even the most wonderful of housemates. And prior to now we haven’t had a printed photo up. We realised this when my mum printed a photo she took of us at Christmas and put it on her fridge. Well, before we even moved in we amended this. There is now a brightly coloured, fun and indulgent couple wall that celebrates us. It is pretty cool. The smile the erupts on my face when I walk in the door broadens when I see it. And then when my love arrives home! Well truth be told we are still moving the last pieces and so we often arrive home together, tired and ready for sleep. But just this evening, over a snippet of “whose line is it anyway” the chuckles that rolled and rolled out of him were delicious. This is home. We are home. And it is wonderful.

Home the space you can be yourself
your cave to be at peace in
enclosed in love and life vibrant
the gifts of each breath so clear

Here you know why you move through each day
here is your reason
here is the expression of your hearts desires
here is where your dreams begin

The platform from which you reach into the world
your daily charging station
where your wacky silly or pouty child
are received with understanding

Where your candles bloom with fire scented
and gardens for your tending
the music that you float or bop with
resonating through your senses

Home most blessed and nurturing
of your grandest imaginations
dreams become reality shared with those your closest with
and life is a beautiful adventure

“Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room.”  ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Crisis of confidence

I normally prefer to write these sorts of things when they are not so close. When they are not pressing in on you, the walls shrinking, deadlines breathing down your neck, a mountain of responsibility weighing you down and the expectation that you’ve got this and are performing brilliantly crushing your soul…

In an earlier post I briefly touched on my motivation and drive for work being AWOL and my working to find it again. Well I adopted more of a “fake it ’til you make it” sort of approach to try and coax it back. I think it is starting to work. But the early glimmers have been fitful and fleeting at best.

There are times I strut my stuff confidently, arms swinging, bouncy gait, head held high “I have got this”. However, recently I have been red faced, avoidant, my memory has been shocking and the pressure of deadlines almost undoes me. Feedback framed in purely negative terms makes me want to throw myself under a bus, or at least my thesis and all the many hours of work that have gone into the last three years of my life in any case.

Over reactive, ill equipped to make informative and clear responses, highly stressed, tired and flustered. I wouldn’t see a helpful sign if it bit me on the bum. The truth is that sometimes, months on decisions don’t always make sense in the current context and it is my role to clearly present an argument in support of those decisions that are unable to change. It is also my responsibility to request help where I need it. I have been struggling with this a great deal in recent months. I am holding myself to an impossible standard and the ensuing waste of energy limits my capacity to do awesomely at a manageable level. But there is a reason that people start small. I am small in my role. A little fish. I am learning. I am also leading the way. I have responsibility. I can do as much or as little as I want with all of it. I can walk away. I can commit the rest of my working life. It is all on me.

I need to find the way out of feeling like a stupid squishy mess. I am not an idiot, I have a very capable brain on my shoulders. How to take a breath, calm and relax? Let life flow without the harsh expectations. Simply be satisfied that I applied my skill set to the best of my ability. That is my current challenge. I love what I do and I am good at it. But right now I don’t feel good at it and I am taking things that are not personal and making them mean something about me and how good I am at my job. I know that as soon as I lift off the self imposed pressure I will perform at the level I want. In the meantime you will find me quietly reading a Toltec wisdom book and chipping away slowly at some deadlines in my pyjamas.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” ~Attributed to Hanoch McCarty

Smiles from a passerby

Smiles from a passerby
A word or two with friends
The feel of cool clean fresh sheets
A cup of coffee that never ends

The salt fresh air upon an ocean breeze
Perfume wafting from unseen
Dampness on the air at dusk
Sunshine gently warming me

a hug, a touch, a tender kiss
Advances from a lover
The firm and gentle welcome embraces
Connecting me to another

Time spent looking around
Seeing more than earthly stresses
Perfection exists in every corner
Relishing the realization

Every breath of life a gift
Joy in every immersive sigh as life ebbs and flows
Precious detail oft times fleeting
Like morning dew upon a snow-white rose

This is my earliest and favourite piece of writing so far. It began mid-shower as the best ideas tend to do during a particularly introspective period of time. Many thoughts raced through my head- questions about what is perfection, is it a worthwhile pursuit, does it inherently exist, how does it express itself in my life? And so smiles from a passerby was born. My perfection. I do believe that is why I like it so much. It is not perfect, but it is perfect in it’s imperfection, much like me, and I dare say like you.

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.  ~John Henry Newman

Just one more time

This old heart of mine has been kicked around a little bit. Some stories are stranger than fiction and I am considering writing a book… But not today. Today I would like to share some prose induced by pain. I would like to assure you first that I present it from a very happy, secure and safe place but the insights for me in the second piece are gobsmacking. Bear with me.

The morning is unwelcome
I don’t recognize today and am weary
The clouds hang low, menacing
The tear soaked pillow beneath my head is uncomfortable
Too warm under covers I seek out the coolness of the empty sheets beside me and remember
Tears spring forth with force adding their weight to an already sopping landscape
I fall asleep with tears and wake to them
Today and I are not friends, I hope I can recognize tomorrow
If only sleep would return so I can slip quietly from this unfamiliar place
It will not come

white wash silouette

I don’t think I need to explain this one. But it came out of the most extraordinary pain. It was exquisite. I have never felt it’s like before and nor will I again. But I am glad for it. My heart bled these words out quickly and within hours followed it up with these:

Bright eyes shine with a sense of fun
I don’t think you are prepared for what you’ve begun
The girl reserved you thought you knew
Has been diluted since meeting you
Now full strength her essence glows
She’s all a twinkle and full of prose
Her way in life is one of fun
Of spirit, confidence, friends with you being another one
Full of life and love and a depth unfathomable
She may delight in making you uncomfortable
Not to excess but certainly seeking
To challenge your current ways of thinking
She is amazing that’s for sure
This belle of whom you are about to see so much more.

There it is. The very reason we were doomed. I read these words back and I sigh. It is so clear. And I don’t know about you, but this was not the first time this girl had been subdued since meeting someone. There are a few things that will do- the person you have decided to share your time with will not remember why they were drawn to you, and you will feel isolated, gagged and not free to express your spirit and assert your wants and desires. I would love to analyse all the ways and reasons this happens. But the bottom line is we put the other person first, bend to their lifestyle choices, and essentially join them in living their life without rocking the boat instead of sharing our lives.

Literature on co-dependence will tell you to leave this person, find someone you actually connect with and can express yourself freely around. Someone who shares in affection, adventures and seeks you out equally. Once upon a time I didn’t know what this looked like. But trust me, you should listen to the experts. It is worth it. Heartbreak and loneliness within a relationship cease to exist when you share your time with someone who you can shine with.

“Fall seven times and stand up eight”~ Japanese proverb