When sorry is not an apology…

oceana

Image from Doreen Virtue “messages from your angels”.

I used to say sorry a lot. An awful lot. It can become a meaningless habit, a short hand word, a social lubricant used to smooth social situations. Often ones in which there may not be anything for which to apologise or for which someone may not be genuinely sorry. Other people may find it virtually impossible to apologise, to say sorry for how they have impacted on others, the shame of engaging with their own imperfections, the guilt of what they have done or perhaps the fear of rejection or intimacy is too great. Others may be unaware of their impact on others.

Examples of the use of sorry could include:

– The expression of egoic imperfection such as “i’ve forgotten your birthday” or “i’ve managed to use really clumsy words and emotions to express myself and i have offended you”, sorry
– Social graces and politeness – “i’ve stepped in front of you”, sorry
– Social embarrassment for someone who doesn’t take responsibility for themselves “you’ve walked into me”, sorry,
– Apology for your truth “you haven’t listened and i’m trying to state my truth”, sorry
– Apology for someone else’s stuff, their emotional reaction to something you’ve done “you’ve had an emotional reaction”, sorry
– An apology for being “I’m speaking my truth or taking up too much space”, sorry

Women in particular are good at apologising for their truth and the space they take up in the world. Here’s a fab talk by a young woman Lily on Upworthy which articulates it incredibly well.

taking up too much roomImage from http://www.anonymousartofrevolution.com

A genuine apology is an act of tremendous courage and an act of forgiveness is a gift of incredible loving kindness.

So what is a genuine apology?

Some years ago i attended a Festival of Ideas and saw a lecture by Johan Galtung, an international peace negotiator and academic. He spoke wisely about the nature of a genuine apology. He said it involved three parts

  1. An account of what you have done, stated in the first person, not “i am sorry that you got upset when…” but “i am sorry that i did, said…”
  2. A willingness to listen to an account of how this has impacted on the other person
  3. A commitment to learning, change, healing or action to ensure that it won’t happen again

So what are or can we be responsible for?
– To accept responsibility for ourselves, for our actions, omissions, our imperfections stemming from our ego, the courage to be imperfect to be truly seen
– To accept responsibility for ourselves and our reactions, bearing in mind that most of our reactions come from the human ego not the divine spirit within us
– To listen, truly listen to how we may have impacted on others, being mindful that we are not responsible for the reactions of others, merely our behaviours
– A commitment to seeing our imperfections, accepting them, lovingly embracing not criticising them and embracing growth and change. What action do we need to take to ensure we are not continuing to repeat these patterns? What do we need to learn and/or to heal?

john-lennon-self loveImage from linaway.com

In my experience, when operating from a place that is not self loving, i am more likely to act in a way that negatively impacts on others. When i am off centre, operating from unchecked ego, out of balance with my loving core, then i may not be kind or loving towards other people.

Some patterns towards others when we are not self loving include:
– Loss of self, giving up of self to the expectations of others, giving and merging with others, can also be used as a way of controlling others
– Making oneself invisible, accommodating to the needs and expectations of others to the point of giving up one’s own power and own agenda
– Controlling expectations of others, often developed from a young age when a child feels powerless, they might use their mental expectations of others as a way of asserting control

This week i was offered and gave a precious gift. It was the gift of reconciliation. A dear friend and i had a conversation about a misunderstanding that had occurred about 18 months ago. We entered the conversation with open hearts, speaking our truth and listening to the other, really genuinely listening at a very deep level. It was scary, it was painful, it was brave and courageous, it was sacred.
reconciliationImage from filipspagnoli.wordpress.com

Reconciliation is a precious gift. It is the gift of a second chance. A willingness to engage in a conversation that can lead to forgiveness demonstrates faith in another person’s capacity to grow and change over time, to take responsibility for their actions. The passage of time can allow someone to be in a different place and have a different perspective.

There is a lingering pain that can stem from the regret of a friendship lost, particularly if you have changed, learned the lesson and not been given the opportunity for reconciliation.
Reconciliation can take time, authenticity, listening, speaking your truth, being vulnerable, being whole hearted, allowing oneself to be seen, including one’s imperfections.Brene Brown has done some great social research on embracing your imperfections and living wholeheartedly.

Reconciliation is the meeting of equals, it requires listening with an open empathic heart to another person’s truth and speaking your truth with insight and courage. Some of the most courageous people i know are the ones who see their flaws and own them as part of their whole being. Empathy is listening and feeling the experience from the other person’s perspective, not from your own. How did they feel about the situation? How did they experience it? How did it impact of them?

Trust the processLet go & Trust the Process: Unveil Your Gift, Libby Creagh. Image from www.elephantjournal.com

Where possible, i also suggest entering into the conversation with no expectations of an outcome, trusting the process and not being afraid of silence, to listen and digest what the other person has said. The friendship may or may not continue. Sometimes the best outcome of such a conversation is to allow you to move to a place of peace and letting go of the stuckness and conflict. It may be that you no longer continue the friendship, but you’ve let go of it from a state of grace, rather than holding on to pain and regret.

Conflict is an inevitable result of diversity and difference, when it arises it can be an opportunity for intimacy and growth.One thing i have noticed is that conflicts that occur over and over in different relationships may be a repeating pattern where we haven’t learned the lesson of our own ego. In which case, it is likely to occur again until we get it.

I wish for the blessing of healing and reconciliation in your life.

Much love
Sarah

I’d love to hear your feedback and reflections on this.

Advertisements

Keep the change, perhaps…

Recently a friend of mine invited me to an upmarket women’s lunch, a beautiful invitation to a fashion event at a swish hotel. Quite an ‘out of the box’ thing for me to do. It later transpired that i couldn’t go, but that’s another story. The lunch cost $95, even when i was working that was a lot of cash, but it was a one off treat. I caught up with my friend a month later and i gave her $100 to cover the cost. I started to say “keep the change…” but then i stopped. In the intervening time, I had stopped working, so my relationship with money and physical resources had shifted. I gave myself permission to receive the change and be clear with myself about it’s value to me, and no guilt trips for seeming ungenerous.

It’s about perspective. Once $5 was a couple of times daily cup of coffee or some loose change…

sm-artjohn-mills-coffee-20140113123548399684-300x0Image from www.goodfood.com.au

but now $5 looks more to me like this…

IMGP0049A $5 bargain box from the local fruit shop.

I wanted to start by saying that this post isn’t intended as some lecture from the moral high ground about material resources. It’s a reflection on my journey, some of which may resonate for you. If you are living on a low income, a single mum with three children or another low income circumstance, then I’m telling you nothing new. In fact you’re probably highly conscious of the value of money and a total whiz at making the most of very little and i could learn a lot from you.

The experience above, caused me to pause and reflect on my relationship and attitude during my life to physical resources. To acknowledge the privileges i have in my life and highlight areas or attitudes of lack. Sometimes this has been blind privilege, not just in relation to  physical resources, but to other gifts, such as health, personal attributes such as intelligence, motivation, opportunities for education, family and friendships, the capacity to love etc. In fact when i open myself to it, i am so grateful and thankful for these blessings. I sometimes think we’d be such a kinder society if we were not so blind to our own privileges and blessings.

When i stopped work i received a payout. A useful amount that we put straight onto the mortgage. When the payment came into my account, i expected to be filled by joy and relief. It was the celebration of the end of this phase of my life, the culmination of a dream and a handy payout to accompany it. Instead I panicked and was filled with dread. I was struck with the reality that this was the final pay, no more money was coming in from me for the foreseeable future. A friend of mine who’d made a similar leap of faith a couple of years ago, reassured me that this was normal and she experienced the same. So it wasn’t about lacking gratitude, it was my fear of stepping away from a secure income into the unknown. For me money had become a symbol of security, independence and freedom. I now question that. Was I actually a slave to this belief system? Was I compromising my essence to earn the money?

BU010606Image from skintdad.co.uk

Since i’ve been working i’ve been reasonably canny with money, bought a house early to minimise paying rent. The hard work and forgone opportunities over the years have set me up with a few more options. This has been a conscious choice. Mostly though, i haven’t had to think too much about money, no clear budget, i have been accustomed to being able to purchase items at will, as there was pay coming in next fortnight. Fortunately my financial aspirations were never too high – no yachts, concord tickets or high fashion items in my wardrobe, but i’ve always had enough to buy a book here, a crystal there, a take out meal out without thinking too much about it.

When i stopped work i worried that i would find it hard to stop spending. To my suprise, it was very easy. The day i stopped work, spending just came to a halt. I realised that i used shopping as a balm to nurture myself and as a reward for the amount of time and energy i was giving to others. Once my time became my own and i stepped into my own self nurturing power, the desire to spend just fell away.

Now i have the time and energy to scour the shops for bargains, to do the research and find the best prices, to keep an eye on ebay, go to garage sales, 2nd hand shops, school fetes, to come back tomorrow or next week when things are on special. I am now consciously aware of what i have, and have the headspace to work out how to be clever with it. The difference between needs and wants is now so much clearer. I now have time to grind the beans and make myself coffee each morning.

single guys house blendImage from eatdrinkandbekerry.blogspot.com

Study after study has shown that money only affects happiness if it makes the difference between surviving or not. Beyond survival, money has no impact on happiness. Once your basic physical needs are met (food, water, shelter, health care, physical safety etc), happiness beyond that is about expectations and attitude.

So abundance and happiness are an internal state of being.

(Although i still laugh at the joke that i might not be happy but i can anchor my yacht next to happiness and have a great view of it! )

Some dear friends of mine are from a pacific island country and i am blessed by their perspective. They grew up on subsistence level living, where having crops for food and a few pigs and chooks was abundance. I learned from them that wealth is not about material resources. A person’s wealth can be measured by their relationships with family, friends and community. My dear friends spend a lot of time, energy and money on sending money back home, nurturing their relationships, taking time to yarn and tell stories, they would literally give the shirt off their back if someone needed it more than them. When my friends go back home, everything they take with them, all their clothing and material possessions are given to their community. They come back with love, memories and beautiful connections that are far more valuable.

chookImage from www.svquest.com

A couple of years ago when i travelled to the middle east and north Africa with my sister, i was confused that items often didn’t seem have a price on them. “Why?” i asked. The answer i was given was that there is no fixed price, the value of something is how much someone is willing to pay and what the vendor is willing to sell. So the value of something depends on attitude and negotiation, how much it means to the vendor and buyer.

In the last year, when work felt more of a drag and effort, i started to look at the price of items in a new way. Previously i was accustomed to having a pool of cash or credit and just drawing from it if i felt like it. I had disconnected my own work and effort required to bring in that money. The shift happened when i started to calculate the price of items according to my hourly rate of pay. I began to say, that item is 2 or 4 hours work. Is that item worth two hours work to me, or not?  This helped me to value my time in a new way.

Today i splashed out and bought a take away cup of coffee, i took the time to savour it, taste it and it felt abundantly luxurious to not have to make it myself. Best coffee i’ve had in ages!

Wishing you a day of peace and abundance!

Much love
Sarah

PS I’d love to hear some of your experiences and perspectives on money.

PPS Just been sent this. A good link to the economics and manufacture of desire.. When i was 19, i studied marketing at University, it was mostly about psychologically manipulating people to spend money on products they may not need. Interesting read!

A most underrated quality…

“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

Recently my parents, now in their mid seventies, downsized their house. From a large double story old Queenslander house, they moved into an apartment in town. A brave and adventurous move for them and the start of a new chapter of their lives. It has been inspiring to watch them release the burdens and responsibilities of possessions and bask in this new found freedom. They have been tremendously generous to me and my siblings with the gifting of their cherished items. One of my beautiful gifts was this Royal Doulton stag and deer sandwich platter. An item that came from my father’s mother, my grandmother Hilda.

14 1 19 stag and deer

Now I love this platter. In fact i love it so much that i kept my eye out on ebay and bought a few companions for it. This was in the days of working when i had some extra money to spend.

IMGP0008

This item means a lot to me. Not just because it is a gift from people who i love deeply, but also because for me it captures the essence of close family members. The stag and deer  represent gentle strength. These are qualities that my father and partner Kevin have in spades. My grandmother Hilda also had it. It is easy to assume that someone who is gentle is weak and easily manipulated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Public images of masculine strength often involve outward displays of physicality, toned muscles, testosterone, fire fighters rescuing vulnerable people from burning buildings or tough guys in action movies.

The strength that i admire is far more subtle and for me more beautiful. This is strength that comes from within. It is an internal core of strength disguised in a covering of gentleness and often kindness. Kindness is a most under rated quality, but one which i love. I am not a naturally kind person, but i have been fortunate to learn from others who are kind in their essence or who have chosen to nurture this quality in themselves.

Kindness is not about being patronising or diminishing another, nor it is about manipulating another or giving with expectation. It isn’t about being cheesy or operating from obligation. It is a quality that comes from the heart. Being thoughtful. It stems from a core belief in the goodness and value of other beings. It’s about supporting them in their wholeness. The best kindness is gentle, unexpected, when someone reaches in and softly touches your heart. Genuine kindness always moves me.

gentle strength

Image from www.quotesvalley.com

This is not the false kindness of social role or duty, but it is about being authentic and genuine. I particularly admire social kindness, such as:

  • valuing relationships as part of connected community, rather than competitively scaling a social hierarchy
  • welcoming someone into your world, listening to them and sharing from your heart, gently filling in the awkward conversational gaps,
  • speaking to the best attributes of another, seeking more information when you don’t understand,
  • choosing gentle silence or diplomatically avoiding topics that may cause discomfort,
  • being truly empathic in seeing the world from their perspective, giving someone the benefit of the doubt,
  • knowing, accepting and loving people in their wholeness and differences, including their imperfections
  • being self aware, particularly of the your own egoic triggers, managing and taking responsibility for them and not projecting them onto others.

Kindness is the ability to suspend judgement, to listen to another person’s story and to feel it on an emotional level, to feel how they experienced the situation. It’s not about being stepped over, having no boundaries, it comes from that core strength, not being afraid to be gentle and vulnerable. People sometimes say they feel “political correctness” has gone too far, but i always think of it as being kind and thoughtful to others, of which i’d love to see more.

I have a few friends who are wildlife carers, really they are animal whisperers. An ability to connect with the essence of the animal in a way that makes them feel safe and heard. This incredible ability comes from being kind, gentle, yet strong. Loving the animal and knowing its true nature, not their projected image. They are in touch with their own vulnerability and gentle strength. They take the time and create the space for animals to come to them on their own terms.

act-of-kindness2

Image from worldtravaillers.com

This morning i woke up feeling very emotionally flat. Fuzzy head, a bit sad and down. In the past i would have looked for the reason, the story that justified these feelings or i’d reach for a cup of coffee to chemically numb myself or talk myself up, pep myself into action to get things moving and push this behind me.

After many years, i’ve learned to be kinder to myself. I do this by taking a deep breath and just allowing myself to be wherever i am. To suspend judgement, to gently observe myself, to quieten my thoughts, perhaps to meditate, to observe the energy patterns, where do they sit in my body? Where are they stuck? I may lie in the pillows and drop into a nurturing space of allowing myself just to be. I quietly got up and took Max down to the dog park, just allowing myself to be, I gently walked five laps of the park and by the end the feelings had dissipated with ease. On the way home i stopped for a lovely unexpected chat with my neighbour who was riding her horse down our street.

Today i wish kindness and gentleness for you and for others when the moments present.

Much love
Sarah

Random signs? Perhaps…

Yesterday afternoon was spent on the computer setting up and publishing the first blogs. By dusk, Max, my small dog, jumped up on my lap. He’d been well behaved, quiet for hours and wanted some attention. I took him on his very long lead up the hill to the bushland at the back of our property. Just inside the entrance, in the middle of the path, there lay a beautiful cockatoo feather. Not just any feather, it was huge, about 9 inches long. (that is longer than the black shoe box!)

IMGP0046I got a strong intuitive hit that it was a sign.  A gift from the universe, to say i was on the right path. You might think, it could have been any old random feather just sitting there. Perhaps it was. But it meant something to me. This feather was massive, sitting right in the middle of the path where many walkers come and go. I always seem to come across cockatoo feathers at significant times and I’d never seen one this big. I also get strong body sensations, pins and needles and other energetic signs when something bigger is happening.

I asked for permission to take the feather and waited for a response. Yes it was there for me to find. I picked it up, and as i walked on i pondered – how do i know when i’m on the right path? Is there a right path? If there is, it certainly doesn’t appear linear. Sometimes, i don’t know that i’m actually on the right path, but i always seem to know when i’m off it.

lighting the pathImage from marybeasullivan.com

Being on the path or being in flow, can bring a feeling of quiet knowing, rarely are there the big lightning bolts or significant signs (but sometimes there are), but my intuition or my body always lets me know if i’ve strayed, if something isn’t right for me. Often it screams at me. I’ve become better at listening and trusting this inner voice.

So the evening was uneventful and i went to bed, settling in, then it hit me. A panic attack. A total adrenaline rush, freak out, oh my god, what have i done?? I’ve told the world (or anyone kind enough to listen), that i’ve seen fairies and other spiritual stuff! OMG! OMG! OMG! (oh my god!!)

AP_The_Scream_MoMA-x-wide-community

The scream by Munch from travel.usatoday.com

Now I’ve been blessed during my lifetime to have found many like minded souls, especially in the last few years through my spiritual mentor, Nicole. This is my tribe, other beautiful souls who are spiritual, who work with crystals, spend time with fairies, guides, angels, nature spirits etc. They’re on a spiritual path of discovery, just like me. They are grounded, real, intelligent and creative people. Then there are people I have yet to meet, who might be led to my blog (welcome!). I’m totally cool for these two groups of people to know about me.

But then there are my friends and family from various parts of my world who i haven’t talked to much about my spirituality.  My rational, logical, scientific, atheist, agnostic, religious, professional colleagues, gorgeous friends who i haven’t talked to about this stuff. (Although I’m not sure how many will be suprised by this!)

Well I’ve put it out there haven’t I? Talk about feeling like i’m running (i’d prefer horse riding) naked through the main street. It hit me and I freaked out. I wasn’t going to get any sleep.

I wandered outside, barefoot under the almost full moon. I stood there bathing in moonlight. Drawing down the beautiful light from the moon and visualising my energy connecting and grounding into the earth. All the fear, all the panic, all the negativity draining away. Thank you Gaia! I know this body that i travel around in comes from her and will go back to her, so she always knows how to restore it to calm and balance.  I just need to make contact with her, (physically touching her is stronger), ask her, reach for her calm and thank her. The calm was almost instant.

What came to me, is that It is my obligation to be authentically me and for you being authentically you! The universe needs our authentic wholeness.

I wandered back inside and had a very deep sleep.

drawing down the moonImage from www.sparkpeople.com

May you know your truth and it always be respected!

Much love and blessings

Sarah

PS Back to screaming, which i personally love. I live half way down a valley and we regularly have flocks of wild cockatoos screaming up and down the valley in a joyous celebration of life.  Cockatoos are beautiful, fairly large birds with white and yellow feathers. They are sometimes kept as domestic pets and can be trained to talk and say various words.

watson-andrew-queensland-brisbane-sulphur-crested-cockatoo-australia

Image from www.allposters.com.au

There was a story on the news a few years back, about a domestic cockatoo, who had been taught to swear. It escaped, joined a wild flock and trained them to do the same. Unfortunately they roosted right next to a primary school. Letters were sent home to parents to warn them, so they could take another route home with their children if they wished to avoid them. Crazy old world huh? Must be true, i read it on the news!! :o)

Here’s a fab blog by my shamanic friend Tracy, she describes this process of following the signs from the universe: Do you follow the breadcrumbs?

Spiritual homemaking is…

I’ve coined the term spiritual homemaker. What does that mean to me?

They are not complex dreams or great ambitions, I longed for time in my life to sort through my house, make home cooked meals, grow vegies, dust under the cupboards, completely revive my nest and tend the 2 acres of our land. In the future, to build the art studio and start on all those creative projects in boxes under the house. A simple dream. I was saying ‘no’ to the career driven values of my upbringing. I wanted no career, i wanted a life, a life full of joy, abundance, happiness and peace! Simply to be.

IMGP2870

Childhood painting by my sister.

Spiritual? Why spiritual? Well for me it’s about a life of purpose, meaning and connection. Living in harmony with my expanded self, all beings and the universe. Although raised in the christian religion, i am not a religious person. I am a spiritual person. Whilst there is great wisdom in the mystical experiences of others, i also have my own direct spiritual experiences. As an intuitive channel, i have contact with my guides, angels and other beings of light. I have seen and felt fairies, nature spirits and other magical creatures. I sense and feel energies. I have experienced healing through energies and i often just know things, that i haven’t learned, this wisdom or information just drops in at times. I don’t pretend to know the answers, just remain open to these experiences.

Part of my purpose is to bring lightness to the planet, I do this energetically, i do it in grounded loving ways. Tending my garden, reaching out to my friends, loving my husband, my dog, friends and family, participating meaningfully in community. I’ve had many mystical experiences, but those that i cherish spring from the ordinariness of the every day. It’s also about living in alignment with my core beliefs and values, the interconnection of all beings, where the pain and joys of one are shared by all.

So this is a journey of being present to myself and others, to each moment as it unfolds, creating a nest with my family. Let the journey begin.

For you i wish peace, harmony and connection!

Sarah

Taking the leap….

Well here I am… that was a lot easier than expected!! (or not, but that’s another blog…)

Taking the leap from busy full time professional to here, the empty void, the river of life. It has been a long time coming, this leap of faith. For many years I hadn’t been happy with work, I’d tried many strategies to reinvent myself, to reinvent the work, to evolve into someone who could fit into the rules of being employed, but it just wasn’t working.

It gradually dawned on me, the essential dissonance between the way in which i valued my time and my level of control over it. The compromise, not being authentically myself. I was tired of putting on the mask, being graceful, putting up with bad behaviour (including my own), fitting in with other people’s agendas, pushing down the feelings, playing to someone else’s rhythm. Slowly it emerged, my time and my own freedom were more valuable to me than what i was being paid. So what do you do with that?

political-dissonance-casey-kotas

Image by Casey Kotas

Well, if you’re like me, from a family where security and following the rules is highly valued, you put up with it for a long time! The cracks started to show, your body may start to break, your intuition screams for change, you numb your feelings, drown your sorrows and wake up in a dream, only half alive.

esher

Image by Esher from www.davidicke.com

You start to dream of something different, have no idea what, no clear plan, but you know that change is coming. I could smell it on the wind. For me, there was no organising what was next, no clear budget, no clear course into the future, i could feel the change coming and it was making me stronger.  Last June, my body gave way, i had continuous illnesses, was off work for months, returned slowly, but still things weren’t getting better.

One day, in a flash of insight, i set a deadline. Six months ago, I made a commitment to myself and to the universe that i would not be in full time paid employment by February 2014. I’d made the decision, so something shifted. The universe conspired with me and things started to fall into place. By November I was offered a redundancy, a good incentive to leave my job. Perfect, yet terrifying!  I floated through the whole process, moments of fear but generally ease, trusting that this was right for me.

cognitivedissonancebrain

Image from synapsetrading.com

So here i am, giving myself the time to work it out. I invite you on this journey and perhaps we’ll work it out together…

Much love to you in your world.

Sarah