Beyond the drama…

Beyond the drama there is silence

Beyond the drama there is dignity

Beyond the drama there is grace…

Owning your story, the honest truth, that way lies healing…

There’s a lot going on in my life right now.

In addition to the usual demands of life, I’m spend 3 to 4 days and nights each week in town supporting my parents as my father declines with end stage pancreatic cancer. I’m also travelling through the grief of childlessness and birthing a new creative project.

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This involves big demands, big emotions and being a sensitive soul there is a huge energetic backwash.

In the past, i would have been at sea, lost in the drama of my thoughts and emotions, washed all over the place. Blending, not knowing what was mine and what was absorbed from others. I would have numbed, criticised, diminished, strung out and sacrificed myself.

But years of being and knowing me has allowed me to develop some proactive self care strategies.

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Firstly to self monitor and be aware of how I’m travelling. What am i feeling?  Observing my thinking and particularly being mindful of overwhelm. Most particularly what that looks like for me. The times when critical thinking or emotional numbing is slipping in. Not to judge myself for this, but to just observe it and plan a scheduled break, some self kindness.

Secondly to be proactive in caring for myself. My overwhelm and stress has led to some sleeplessness. Waking up at 1 or 2am. In the past i would have panicked and lay awake, my mind ticking over,  strategising how to regain sleep. Now i just sit and observe, bring myself into the present moment, acknowledge feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Just to sit for a while and be with it.

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Then, i pick myself up, take myself out to the back verandah and gently lie myself under the stars.  I allow the stress, the overwhelming energy to seep back into the earth. I am cradled by the smells, sounds, the beings and energy of the night.   I absorb the healing balm and i am deeply grateful.

Looking up at the moon and stars, into the face of the universe, helps me gain perspective and peace. Many times i have fallen into a deep healing sleep. I put myself back to bed after a few hours and wake the next day feeling nourished and restored.

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Finally, to know that i am not alone. We all go through struggles and tough times in our lives. That’s part of being human. To connect, sometimes in silence, with dear souls who nourish us, and us them. This sole journey is shared at times with loving and kind companions, even if they are not physically present, it is a shared human experience. When we commune with the goodness of the human collective, sometimes energetically, sometimes through art or literature or other creative expression of the complexity of life, we are never alone.   I am deeply grateful for this blessing.

Sometimes,  a break is not possible, you just have to keep going, to be solid. But i find when i create drama around the exhaustion, it only makes it tougher. When i cut through to the core, the essence of how i’m feeling and what i need right now, it really helps to keep me going.

I’d love to hear what works for you when the pressure is on and you can’t escape, but you need a modicum of relief.

Big love for you today!

sarah

 

 

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The healing moon…

By Friday night this week I arrived home exhausted.

Driving home feeling vulnerable, reactive and teary, without any clear explanation. I’d been ‘fine’ all week, keeping busy, carrying on, trying to be there for others, but not really being present and tending to me.

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We’d been staying in town for four nights, busy with family, playing with the kids, running errands, working on my new project during the ‘in between’ moments – busy, busy, busy!

Rolling into bed with a book at about 7.30pm, half a page read before my drooping eyes hit the pillow.

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The truth was i felt ‘off’, not quite myself, for a couple of weeks.  It was subtle, slowing building, the cause unclear, my energy not freely flowing, my critical mind quietly snipping away.

Self care is not my default option, as i carry on, often focused externally, keeping busy.

Looking after me often gets lost, so I need to actively remind myself to stop, connect with how i’m feeling, what i’m needing, and take action to care for me.

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At about midnight i woke in the dark, overwhelmed by sadness and fear.

It suddenly hit me how deeply sad i was feeling in watching my father’s decline, this once strong and active man, his health failing, the impact on him, family and friends.

I had been so busy carrying on, doing practical tasks, supporting and being strong for others. At this moment in time, there was now clear space to truly feel.

At 1am, I took myself outside, bottle of water in hand, max at my side, i sat for a long time in the middle of the garden in the moonlight.

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Feeling her healing light pour down on me, all other distractions aside, the beings of the night around me, I just sat with the moon, present to myself, reaching inside, breathing in the night air, peace and healing. The feelings poured through me.

After a long time, i wandered back inside, feeling my body release its tension as i relaxed into the pillow and a deep healing sleep.

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If you’re going through something big, remember to take time for you, to stop and be present to yourself. It can be such a healing balm.

Sending healing love your way.

Much love
Sarah

My secret dream project…

I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning. There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes? I know you are unable to imagine this.

Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel.

The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and it’s dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.

Meg Rosoff

In the first couple of years of my struggle to have children, I would occasionally wake up from very dark dreams. Dreams where i had died.

This wasn’t about suicide or a wish to die.  It was my sub-conscious expressing my inability to imagine a fulfilling life without children.

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Infertility can be a complex emotional journey – the path littered with strong emotions – hope, sadness, shame, anger, joyful possibility, guilt, envy etc.

My sense of self had always included motherhood.  From my late teens, I had randomly collected baby clothes, furniture, fertility books, children’s books, toys etc. (Yes, i’d always been a hobbit hoarder!)

It was a matter of waiting for the right circumstances. After a bumpy twenties, i met kev and we tried for over ten years to conceive a child.

We went through many options, including IVF, and just recently, we have ended our infertility journey.

To never be a mother was a pain beyond anything i could express, which is why i held on, trying for so long.

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The invisible grief, as children arrived for others, the media bombardment of happy family images, the assault on my sense of identity, my anticipated future crumbled away…

Sadly, infertility is not new to human society, yet it leaves many unsure about what to say. It is hard to explain the unpredictability of the emotional journey, the ongoing sense of grief.  There are emotional and sad days, but after lots of healing and grief work,  life is actually pretty good.

The last decade has been an incredible journey of growth and connection. Infertility has been the most incredible teacher.

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There are so many unexpected gifts.  Connection with my body; deepening my relationships; connection with spirituality, deep wisdom and other dreams; communion with others experiencing similar struggles etc.

Yet, like other complex grief, looking on the bright side, doesn’t make the sadness go away and is best arrived at oneself.

Infertility is one of those griefs from which you may never completely move on, but you can move forward and integrate the loss.  Slowly, step by step, walking through the grief and starting to imagine a life of new possibilities.

My focus is slowly shifting from looking back with regret and sadness. From defining my life by what is missing, to looking forward and creating a fertile life.  To embrace the future that is opening up to me now that being a parent is no longer an option.

This month, I took a big step.

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On my computer I opened a folder called my “secret dream project”.

I wanted to start collecting ideas and research on one secret dream. A possibility that childlessness opens for me.

My dream is to do wilderness trekking trips in different parts of the world.

I don’t know when, how, where, cost or any of the details. For now, it’s for collecting images, ideas, location details, logistics, equipment ideas etc.

It’s me dipping my toe in the pond of possibility.

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I’d love to hear from you.

What has helped you rebuild following great life disappointments?

If you have felt beaten down, perhaps you could gently try this idea if it resonates.

Big love

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Killing should…

Life has been pretty hectic.

On top of all the personal stuff, my new project is now going full steam ahead.

I’m focused, writing, planning, thinking and creating like a maniac!

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In the middle of it all, my dear friend asked me to give feedback on a written draft.

My first internal response: ugh, what a drag, i’m so busy and exhausted, and not up for focusing my limited mental energy on this.

So i asked about her timeframe and let her know i’d need a couple of days.

It felt like i should do it.

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Then i had this internal dialogue. (as I do, lol!)

“Sarah, you’re writing this material about self care, setting boundaries, being able to say no, practicing what you preach might be a good idea!”

Perhaps this was a test for me to set limits?

On the other hand, I have been saying ‘no’ more often recently.

Especially to the non essential stuff.

It sat in the back of my mind for a few days…

The shoulds kept rolling around.

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Then another thought stream, if i were to do this, what might be a positive motivation rather than feeling obligated and dutiful?

I love this friend to bits and love supporting her to reach her goals. She has done so much for me over the years. She’s also had a really big couple of months and is having a stressful week.

This one thing, although inconveniently timed, would really help her out.

After I’d shifted my thinking to a more positive motivation, my energy lifted.

I opened the document and editing it was a breeze.

It even allowed me to appreciate the knowledge and skills i’d gathered over the years.  A little unexpected boost!

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Being generous is easy when we’re feeling good and giving something that doesn’t mean that much to us, but the challenge is when we’re not feeling up to it.

Then it is truly a gift of ourselves.

My friend and I try hard for authenticity and honesty in our friendship.

So the best bit, when we talked afterwards, I got a chance to let her know it wasn’t great timing but i did it because she is precious to me.

Our text convo went like this:
• “I almost messaged to say I wasn’t in the head space but it was for you! Means you’re special! Hugs sx”
• “How good does that make me feel. Thank you again.”

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We all know that the headspace in which we approach a task makes a difference to the experience, but how often do we actively manage our thinking?

Should, must, duty and obligation can feel like draining energies. I’m trying to delete them from my list of motivators.

Even if i do feel obliged, and i plan to say yes, then I’ll try to find a constructive motivation, particularly when it’s challenging.

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When we do something for others, it can be such a gift to let them know we’re doing it, not from duty or obligation, but because they mean so much to us.

Feels good huh?

Wishing you a day of good energy flow!

Big love
sarah

 

Big girl glasses…

Some of the best things about being human – our magic, our strength and our foibles. The last can be a source of frustration and amusement.

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Here’s my latest one…

Just recently, i went to my first optometrist appointment, did an eye test and received a pair of prescription reading glasses.

Now that seems like a pretty pedestrian thing to do, and it is.

Except that my eyes have been overcompensating and my reading has been fuzzy for a few years. The denial and avoidance was not just because i’m the procrastination queen!

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So why? Why has it taken so long?

I could make excuses, time, money, busyness etc, but that would be bollocks, cause we all make time and find the resources for the things that are important.

The truth is, it’s because i’m getting older!

Much as my ego likes to pretend that i’m not, that part of me, that bit that fears aging, focused on my eye sight and pretended everything was fine!  Just give it time, it will heal itself!

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I am also one of the few family members without glasses, and I kinda liked that uniqueness!

Don’t our egos tell us funny stories?

Quite a few years ago, my sister mentioned that 44 is often the age that people with otherwise good vision might need assistance with eye sight.

But not me! Forty four came and went, and i was fine, right?

My little ego danced away in denial about getting older for over two years.

come to the edgeFrom the Wisdom of the Oracle by Collete Baron Reid

So a few months ago, I called myself on it, put on my big girl pants, made the appointment and took myself off for the eye test.

Turns out i have presbyopia, common garden variety, age related, near sight degeneration.  It’s harder to focus on short distances, but my long distance vision is fine, better than 20/20.

The Chinese word for this “Lao Hua” or old sight. So it turns out that whilst i had myopia of the mind, I was evolving old sight of the body!

My body is one of my great wise teachers. Mental note, listen more!

Standing in the glasses shop, i spent almost an hour trying on specs for my hard to fit nose.  (This post is being written peering through said lenses.)  And of course, it was the best thing i’ve done in ages!!

IMG_20160203_143316Remembering how much I love reading, the last few months i’ve been ploughing through the stack of books on my bedside table. Most evenings are spent engrossed in some tale or wise tome.

Reading is an early love, it’s been missed and welcomed back with a big heart. Luckily my parents read to us as kids, instilling a life long love. Feeling gratitude for all our writers and thinkers.

The best bit, not only does it help with physical focus, but it also helps with concentration. Wearing the glasses, the book or computer screen is in full focus but the background is fuzzy, which reduces distraction. It’s like a tunnel of focus.

The cure for the mental myopia – to embrace aging, of course! Still working on that one!

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Here’s a question for you.

Is there anything you’ve put off that ultimately, will probably be really good for you?

Love to hear your story.

Wishing you a brilliant day of love and connection with yourself

Big love

Sarah

Some of the fab books recently devoured:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “Daily Rituals” by Mason Currey
  • “The Go Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann
  • “Poke the Box”, “Tribes” and “We are all weird” by Seth Godin
  • “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle
  • “Zen and the art of making a living” by Laurence Boldt
  • “What I know for sure” by Oprah Winfrey
  • “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown

And a few others…

Cracking your life code: Some thoughts on life purpose…

Over forty years, I’ve done a lot of thinking about life purpose and meaning.

I grew up with 5 siblings, three older and two younger. My three older siblings, (my main formative influence) are creative, intelligent, focused and motivated people. From a pretty young age all three appeared to know exactly what they wanted to do – medicine, art history and music, and they moved towards it with passion and clarity of purpose.

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I assumed this was normal, to know from a young age one’s life’s passion and to work tirelessly toward it.*

Truth is, i had no idea what i wanted to do. What was my passion? Let alone the focus of my life’s work. From my youthful perspective the one thing on my immediate horizon was to have a partner, build a solid economic base, and in the distant future, the conventional dream of children and a settled life into old age. This seemed the secure path.

My second life was a creative anarchic life. To follow my curiosity and my passions, to feast on the experiences of life, to create, to be happy and do what i loved. In my youthful eyes, these lives didn’t seem compatible and i was not secure enough within myself to risk chasing my creative dreams. The second problem was, what did i love? That didn’t always seem so clear.

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Over many years I caught myself in a head trip between these conflicting lives – the secure path and the creative life. I also believed I needed to ‘find my life purpose’ and ‘to find my life passion’.  I felt lost and inferior because it just wasn’t that obvious.

After finishing school, i took a year off to work and experience the world, hoping this might crystalise my focus. I worked about 8 different jobs over the year (bar work, waiting tables, admin, delivery driver, martial arts instructor, etc), none of which i found fulfilling or engaging of my passions but from which i learned the value of education.

This motivated me to go to university. My choice was between a creative arts degree and the more ‘sensible and secure’ commerce degree. I chose the secure path and put my creative life in a box. Of course, i was a square peg in a round hole. Accounting, economics, marketing all left me feeling empty. The second part of my degree was populated with politics, law and Italian language subjects (i ended up with what i call a COMARTS degree!)

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At 19, I fell into doing part time youth work engaging my passion for social justice, whilst the ‘sensible and practical’ commerce studies could establish a base to build my career. (A concept I later abandoned). I learned an enormous amount from these studies, and whilst a helpful detour, it never felt like my path. I became a shadow artist, stuffed away my creative side, locked down with fear and self loathing. Not surprisingly, my twenties were characterised by depression, escapism, self destructiveness, isolation and brokenness.

Twenty five years later, and gradually awakening to myself and my dreams, I’ve now completed the decade long and unsuccessful journey of creating children, the death of my other big dream. The most painful losses are those that challenge your identity, your sense of self, to not be a mother is a huge loss of part of myself. So how does one move forward?

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How does one build a creative life with dead dreams piled at your feet? Here are some things that helped me…

First – Acknowledge the bigness of the loss and feel it deeply, intensely, wholely – don’t buy into the story of the mind but sit with the feelings of the heart
Second – Learn how to care for, nurture and love yourself
Third – Know that you are not alone, that every human experiences grief and loss, this is our shared heritage
Four – To practice gratitude for that which you do have, particularly the love and support of others
Five – When you’re ready, to gently imagine a future life, one that honours the bigness of your grief but also allows you to move forward.

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What has this journey taught me about life and life purpose?
Here are some key questions I’ve asked myself in building a creative life:

1. How would you like to feel in your life? Don’t get lost in the detail, ie what your life should look like, instead start with how you’d like your life to feel.

2. What relationship would you like to have with yourself? Who are you? What make your flourish? What are your interests, skills and talents?

3. What lifestyle would you like to create? What is truly of value to you? Your beliefs, passions, what resonates with you and what doesn’t? For example, what does abundance mean to you? Is it possessions, creative expression, time, money, status, career success, family, friendships etc

4. How do you want to be in the world? I’ve found the key to life purpose is not about the doing, but the being. How do you want to experience the world?

5. How can you find your way back to yourself and your essence?

6. How do you create you life with spirit so that all you do is an expression of your essence? How do you listen to your inner wisdom, your intuition, gut instinct, the messages of your wise self? How do these guide you?

7. What are you curious about? If you’re still not sure, gently follow your curiosity.  Follow the bread crumbs.

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I’m reading the book “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, and came across this insightful letter extract from Peter Drucker to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi…

“I am told I am creative – I don’t know what that means… I just keep on plodding… I hope you will not think me presumptuous or rude if I say that one of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours – productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.”

This struck a chord because it’s so easy to get caught up in supporting or helping the work of others and lose focus on ourselves and our work. So I asked myself the fundamental questions “what is my life’s work?”

I meditated and pulled some oracle cards from Collette Baron Cohen’s deck The Wisdom of the Oracle. I use oracle cards as catalysts to access my own inner wisdom.

IMAGINE and CO-CREATE

The core message I received is to use my imagination to work with spirit to build a creative life.

That seems very airy fairy, but it feels like an awesome life purpose for me. Perhaps it’s not to do an actual thing, but to experience life, to feel and to be at peace with myself and my uniqueness?  I’ve used the questions above as prompts to focus my thinking.

I’d love to hear how you have grappled with these questions in your life.

Dreaming and imagining can be a hard and brave thing to do, especially if you have been hurt. This week, I’m going to start in the place of IMAGINING and wish for you some sacred moments for your dreams as well.

Big love
Sarah

* A clear life purpose from a young age is not the case for most people. Liz Gilbert beautifully articulates this in her talk “Flight of the hummingbird: the curiosity driven life”

http://www.supersoul.tv/supersoul-sessions/elizabeth-gilbert-flight-hummingbird-curiosity

Paint, paint, paint…

One of my cherished early memories is of my grade 3 teacher, Mrs Webb. We had a special bond. We shared a passion for the creative arts, especially painting. She saw this in me and nurtured it.

I remember her classes in the art block at school, the old desks covered in paint splotches, the heavy wooden easels, paint tubs, brushes, paper, art materials etc. All the dark furniture squeezed into a overfull room, loaded with possibilities and excitement.

1985 school pic 6fI would become totally absorbed in her classes. Entering a trance like state, i succumbed to the sheer delight of splashing away, mixing up colours, boldly and fearlessly scribbling, brushing and blobbing away on the page.

Mrs Webb encouraged me. She entered one of my paintings into a United Nations art prize, which won me $50 (a huge sum back then) and my painting was displayed in an exhibition at the local shopping centre.

1977 girl 2I had a second painting on display called “Keep Australia beautiful like a pigeon!” (yeah, i know, seven, huh?!)  I have such profound love and gratitude for Mrs Webb and the special interest she took in me.

My parents also nurtured my interest in painting and the arts. In grade 6, attending a year of Saturday morning art classes in Kelvin Grove, Mum and Dad came to one of the pottery sculpting classes.  I still have the figurines we created together. I keep them in my display cabinet, a loving reminder of us three.

IMG_20151111_135347I loved a whole range of creative projects.  The absorption into the process of creating is just as important as the outcome. I did sewing classes, played music, and other creative art forms. I remember a giant mural i painted after i saw the movie “Grease”, yeah i was an Abba chick too!

As i grew into adolescence, i started to fall away from myself, and pushed my love of art to back of the cupboard. I chose not to do art as an elective in high school, a decision that i changed by mid year 10. I have such clear memories of the euphoric day i switched back to the art stream.

2001 kite girlBut truth is, i really struggled to embrace art on my own terms, particularly the competitive nature of exams, assessment, comparison, internal pressure of performing to a high standard. I always rated myself so poorly that doing art became a stress that played with my inner demons.

So i became a shadow artist.

1994 badtrip 2Over the years, i dabbled here and there with art and other creative projects.

The boxes of half finished objects and art materials stored under the house, for knitting, sewing, painting, craft etc. These boxes travelled with me from house to house, and I lived in creative paralysis, neither creating nor giving the materials away.

Professionally, I worked alongside community artists to encourage homeless young people and young artists to develop their skills, express their perspective on life and find a place of belonging in our community.

community arts bys (1)The heart of my journey with art can be summed up in one phrase:

SELF LOVE (or the lack of it).

The core healing for me has been the journey into worthiness. To shift my internal beliefs that i deserved to live a creative, expressive life and that i was capable of it.

IMG_20151111_114408Walking, vulnerable and open, into the healing process, i have come to understand that each of us has or can create a cornerstone self loving habit. This is some activity, that when done on a regular basis is like a gauge that monitors self love practice in our lives.

This self loving cornerstone habit is totally different for each person. It could be going to the gym, meditation, cooking, swimming at the beach, playing music, or whatever it is that is both nurturing and makes your heart soar.

IMG_20151111_135215For me, that self loving cornerstone habit is painting. I’ve run from it for years, yet picking up a paint brush, mixing up colours and painting is a healing balm for me. The outcome is irrelevant, it’s the process that means everything.

What is your cornerstone self loving habit?

The thing, that when you’re doing it regularly, you know that you are caring for you.

Do you struggle to name it? find it? or do it regularly?

I’d love to hear your story.

Wishing you the very best today!

Much love
Sarah