Fragments of joy, part two…

When working, i put in 100%. I often went above and beyond, over-creating the role and making it stressful. The focus was always external, giving to others until the well was truly dry.  My needs got lost in the process, and there was very little left in the tank for fun and pleasure.

One great strategy taught by a friend was to always to have the next holiday, break or pleasurable activity planned for yourself. When she got back from holidays, she would book in the next long weekend or half day for a haircut and some pampering, whatever was needed. This could be a month out, but it was something to look forward to. She did it when she first got back when her energy was up and she was feeling good.

My partner is doing really long hours at work on a complex project at the moment, so we organised a weekend escape for some pampering and fun.  Here’s some of the lovely adventures we had in Sydney.  Should you find yourself in town, you might enjoy some of these options. Would love to hear about some of your special secret places in Sydney or other destinations!.

CHAMPAGNE AND CHEESE:

On the first night, we stopped in at Provenance Food & Wine Bottega Del Vino and they were giving out samples of this gorgeous French cheese Petit Délice des Crémiers

French cheeseOMG this cheese was so tasty with champagne and crackers!!

BREAKFAST AT YELLOW

www sydneyonsunday comImage from http://www.sydneyonsunday.com

The mornings spent drinking coffee and cooked brekkie in the sunshine. This historic old gallery and artist’s squat on Macleay Street has been converted into a delightful cafe. Particularly recommend the homemade bacon, homemade butter and jam, and fresh coffee.

SUNNING IN LIZZY BAY PARK, OVERLOOKING THE BOATS ON SYDNEY HARBOUR

IMG_20140621_110206_357Many of the Sydney harbourside suburbs have these delightful tiny parks that you can sit and enjoy the greenery, sunshine and the views.

TOFU BURGER WITH PEANUT SAUCE, AT BADDE MANORS CAFE ON GLEBE POINT ROAD www canberravegan blogspot comImage from http://www.canberravegan.blogspot.com

www rubyjacksonart com auImage from http://www.rubyjacksonart.com au

In the late 1980’s, when the Sydney adventures first started, I would often stay with family in Glebe and Newtown. There was nothing better than rummaging through the shops and soaking up the atmosphere on King Street and Glebe Point Road and the surrounding areas. They have changed over the years, there are less of the creative arts and unusual shops, but they are still beautiful. Badde Manors is a classic cafe, it was a wee welcome home – love it!

LOCAL FILM SCREENING, MORTARS, IN PARRAMATTA

www riverside parramatta com auImage from http://www.riversideparramatta.com.au

This film is interesting. Iqbal Barkat, a local film director, tells the story of a widow living on an isolated property next to an army base. She is seeking compensation for the damage to her house by disposal of armaments. A refugee man, who is lost and traumatised arrives on her land, and she offers him sanctuary. It explores their evolving relationship and attempts to communicate and connect. Delightful film.

CHAMPAGNE AT ‘LOVE TILLY DEVINE’ WINE BAR IN DARLINGHURST
www barzine com au

Image from http://www.barzine.com.au

I love these hidden away gems in the back alleys of our big cities. A warm and cosy bar, great for conversation and laughter.

TAKE AWAY VIETNAMESE DINNER FROM MISSCHU

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HILDA RIX-NICHOLAS EXHIBITION AT MOSMAN ART GALLERY

www events mosman nsw gov auImage from http://www.events.mosman.nsw.gov.au

We went on sunday morning. The gallery is attached to a church, so we wandered through the exhibition to the reverberating sounds of ‘How great though art”. I suspect Hilda was a bit of a kindred spirit, she studied art in France before world war 2 and travelled to North Africa painting as she went. Her story was marked with tragedy, losing her mother, sister and husband in quick succession when she was young. The paintings created during this time are vivid and colourful. Our artists are such a treasure!

OPENING THE DESK TOP LOCK AT MY SISTER’S OFFICE

Finally, an unexpected treat. After moving bags of books across town, my partner was able to jimmy the lock on my sister’s desk and open it. To our surprise, the key was locked inside! An unexpected puzzle!

IMG_20140621_130137_386So wherever you find yourself, take time for whatever brings you joy and pleasure. It’s self nurturing and you totally deserve it!

We’d love to hear some of your tips and adventures in colour, sensation and joy!!

Wishing you many, many joyful moments in your day.

Much love
sarah

 

Fragments of joy, part one…

On a whim, we went to Sydney last weekend. We booked at the last minute, using frequent flyers, found a cheap hotel in Potts Point and visited some of our favourite haunts. It was the last chance to catch up with my sister before she heads overseas for 12 months. So the short time was focused on enjoying some relaxing time together and helping her get away.

www aussiehousesitters com auImage from http://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au

Sydney is one of my favourite play cities. I have visited every couple of years since my late teens. Beloved family and friends live there.  We love catching up and indulging the senses in the sunshine, sights, creativity, beauty and sounds that make up this lovely city.

In thinking about this post, an old dilemma resurfaced. Writing about joyfulness, pleasure and beauty – does it present a false picture of my life? Am i entering into that egoic social networking space of “look at me and my fabulous life’? This creates an illusion and can generate a negative backlash.  This got me thinking about the kaleidescope of emotions, especially the ones that are less palatable.

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“A person who wishes another ill, is jealous, envious, or angry towards another person, is said to have the evil eye.”

When travelling in the middle east, we were given similar interpretations of the evil eye. To avoid this, one does not draw attention to successes or blessings, as this may provoke the ‘evil eye’, or envy reaction, in others and bring down negativity on oneself. Instead, one humbly and gratefully accepts the gifts one is given without showiness.

Now most of us quietly admit, that there are times of being possessed, or at least lightly touched by the evil eye or the little green monster. Usually this comes from a place of feeling something is missing in one’s life. This can be generated by negative self comparison and not feeling good enough. Envy is one of the emotions that can be stigmatised, so we often hide it, ashamed and embarrassed.

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Recently I was inspired to read in Conversations with God, that envy is quite a normal human emotion, and to use it as a tool to identify what is missing, and become inspired to create that thing in one’s own life. To see it as a message from the soul about it’s aspirations, and to use it as motivational, rather than destructive energy.

It also helps to examine that which makes us envious – is it a constructive thing, like love and connection, or destructive? Often envy of material things is a metaphor for what that thing represents, eg freedom, opportunity, relief, security, fun, feeling worthy and esteem about oneself, happiness, etc. So it can help to dig deeper to uncover what it is we truly desire which is aligned with our values. This is our personal ethical journey to unravel.

To assist in writing this blog, i drew some wisdom cards to examine it further.

THE SCRIBE AND THE HEDONIST.
scribehedonistImages from Carolyn Myss Archetype Cards

Well I couldn’t get a clearer set of cards that focused on the question of writing about pleasure, beauty and joy.  There is a balance in these two cards, the first is reflective, contained and focused, the second is open indulgence. The blue of communication in words of the throat chakra and the red of the sensual pleasures of the base chakra.

It is a about finding the balance between the two. That to write about joyful things is not done with the intention of a self indulgent boast but rather in a measured way, to reflect, celebrate and inspire.  To value the small blessings that we are all given. The key to resolving this dilemma is authenticity in the intention and manner of the writing.

What stood out for me in the first card was the pages laden with words and information. Everyone has their fabulous gifts to share with the world – one fabulous gift is sharing information about delightful experiences, places and opportunities that can be explored later.

This post is about all that great stuff, but also about the broader emotional landscape, that through its contrast, makes the joyful stuff so special. The truth is that joy coexists with moments of intense darkness – pain, sadness, loneliness, that stuff we all experience. The light exists in contrast to the dark, perhaps our task is to experience it with love and compassion, rather than judgement?

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Brene Brown’s work on shame and wholehearted living, tells us that we can’t selectively numb our feelings. If we choose to engage in the fullness of life, it includes the vibrancy of both the light and the shadows. At this stage in my life and writing, I choose to focus on and share the light, love and wisdom gained from these experiences. It has not always been like this for me, so I honour this and choose to experience without judgement, the whole kaleidoscope of emotions in order to lead a richer life.  It is not always an easy path but it is authentic and real.

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Getting back to the weekend in Sydney, well that’s for part two.

In the meantime, experience the fullness of life with a whole and joyful heart, and be very kind and gentle with yourself during those darker moments.

Much love

Sarah

 

 

Playing with colour…

One of the blessings in my life is the 444 Spiritual Development Group. It’s a small peer based group of spiritual seekers. We take it in turns to facilitate sessions and sometimes we have guest presenters. This group is  very diverse, yet we are all open to spiritual experience and exploration. In case you’re wondering, 444 is the number of our local bus route, which reflects the group, grounded and local.

seekerImage “The seeker” from Carolyn Myss archetype cards

For the past twelve months, this group has flourished with the energy, enthusiasm and generosity of two beautiful soul sisters Julia Chai and Karen Langford. Julia posted a beautiful abundance and prosperity mandala to our facebook page recently, and it reminded me of my love for colour, mandalas and spiritual exploration.

Colour is one of the passions of my life. I love the way colour can impact on us, shifting our moods and altering our perceptions and experiences.

530541_429779097116484_773411582_nHere’s a fun and a quick energy healing…

A mandala meditation to bring your energy centres or chakras back into balance and flow.

Here’s the chakra system. You’ll notice two extra chakras in addition to the usual seven, these are the earth star (located about a foot below your feet, which anchors your energy into the earth) and the Soul or Sky Star (starting about a foot above your head, there are multiple chakras that link us to higher levels of the consciousness).

iseeglobal comImage from http://www.iseeglobal.com

Suggestions for this mandala meditation:

1. Start with focusing on your breath, slowly in and out, deep belly breaths.

2. Allow you mind to settle. Open to calm energy in your mind.

3. Scroll down through the mandalas, focus on one at a time. With calm breath and relaxed mind, look at each mandala.  Allow your eyes to relax and drift into the energy vibration of each mandala.

4. Feel where the energy of each mandala resonates within your body. Each mandala corresponds to a different chakra.

5. As you become aware of the energy shift in your body, move your awareness to this chakra.

6. Stay with each image for as long as you need for the chakra to open and rebalance.

During this meditation you could play a musical soundtrack. Here’s an option posted by Yellow Brick Cinema:

Let’s get started!

THE EARTH STAR CHAKRA

Grounding you into the earth, connecting with Gaia, earth energy and the lower realms. When open allows stuck energy to drain out into the earth. Enables you to send good energy into the earth and for Gaia’s energy to flow into you.

www mandalanomadess comImage from http://www.mandalaomadess.com

MULADHARA – THE BASE CHAKRA

Grounding within your body. Instinct, sense of security, stability, survival and physical needs. Sensuality and sexuality. Basic human potential. Dormant Kundalini energy rests here.

www spiritofthescripture comImage from http://www.spiritofthescripture.com

SWADHISTHANA – THE SACRAL CHAKRA

Centre of creativity, emotional balance, reproduction and fertility. Relationships, violence, addictions, basic emotional needs and pleasure. Joy and enthusiasm.

www.dreamstime.comImage from http://www.dreamstime.com

MANIPURA – THE SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA

Centre of identity and personal power. Abundance and prosperity. Fear, anxiety, opinion -formation, introversion and transition form simple or base emotions to complex. Digestion, expansiveness and all matters of growth.

abundance and prosperityImage from http://www.emmanueldagher.com/

ANAHARTA – THE HEART CHAKRA

The emotional centre. Compassion, tenderness, unconditional love for self and others, equilibrium, rejection and well being.  Love and relationships. Connects the upper and lower chakras. The heart sets the beat of your own rhythm. The magnetic centre and anchor for your energy field or aura, particularly your etheric aura.  Blood circulation, passion and devotion.

www jedisimon com

Image from http://www.jedisimon.com

VISHUDDHI – THE THROAT CHAKRA

Growth through expression, communication, voice, words, song, music or written text. Independence, fluent thought and sense of security and lucid dreaming.

www inspiredartbyjanemarin comImage from http://www.inspiredartbyjanemarin.com

AJNA – THE THIRD EYE

Intuition, spirit vision, insight, visual consciousness. Spiritual information often comes through this chakra. The end of duality, balancing the higher and lower selves, trusting inner guidance

www deviantart comImage from http://www.deviantart.com

SAHASRARA – THE CROWN CHAKRA

Link to spirituality and the state of pure consciousness, opening of channel to beings of light and the divine. Spiritual wisdom, moving beyond the physical body.  Release of ‘karma’, meditation, universal consciousness and being.

www chakras egoplex comImage from http://www.chakrasegoplex.com

THE SOUL or SKY STAR CHAKRA

When open links to higher levels of consciousness and your soul’s purpose. Is opened with your express permission. If blocked, say “I give permission for my sky chakra and higher chakras to open”.

www carowoods comImage from http://www.carowoods.com

Here’s some extra tips:

1. To increase the energetic resonance, you could place a crystal on your body for each chakra you’re working on.  It could be a crystal picked for that specific chakra, or you could choose one that feels right.  If unsure clear quartz is a great option for all the chakras. Although, heavier ones such as bloodstone, black tourmaline or hematite, are generally better for the base and ground star chakras.

2. If there’s a chakra you’re particularly trying to heal, you could save that mandala (or find one that resonates with you) as a background for your computer desktop. Feel it’s healing magic work as you do your everyday tasks!

3.There a great CD called Chakra Dance and it takes you through music, dance and movement for each of the chakras.

Please share. I’d love to hear how you’ve experienced this activity.

Wishing you a beautiful day of harmony and balance.

Sarah

 

Crazy cravings…

One of the of the major priorities in my life these days is health. I’m not a naturally physically active person.  Some people I know go stir crazy if they haven’t exercised, well that’s not me, I don’t even watch sporting activity. While there have been many attempts in the past, they were not sustained.

These attempts were also undermined by perfectionism and negative self talk which demolished any motivation – “you should be exercising more”, “you should be eating healthier”, “you’re not doing enough”, “you’re not good enough”,  “you shouldn’t, blah blah blah..” How frickin’ miserable!

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In the last six months, I have set the intention for this to change and to thankfully welcome optimal health.  Recently James Clear wrote a fabulous blog outlining a broader definition of health. He suggests health as containing four aspects:

  1. diet and exercise
  2. adventure and exploration
  3. art and creativity, and
  4. community and connection.

This definition is more holistic – considering the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and contextual layers of health.

For me, the quest for better health has been a spiritual journey. Each day, I revisit the intention, to create health in my life.  I have consciously shifted into an energetic space of just being and being healthy, and the rest is falling into place. I’m not saying it is easy, as it’s a step by step reaffirmation of this commitment. Most importantly, when there are slip ups, it’s about being kind and self compassionate, rather than harshly judging.

meditationbenefits coImage from http://www.meditationbenefits.co

Regular meditation and spiritual practice has helped me to become more sensitive and aware of the needs of my body. As we listen to our bodies, they’re incredibly good at telling us what we need. This includes listening to the needs of the heart and mind, and guidance from intuition. If you’re a spiritual person, you can ask for assistance from your healing teams in spirit as well!

Meditation helps to calm the critical voices and self analysis enables understanding. Seeking health has also been a journey into self love, self compassion and kindness. I am so grateful for my health, many dear friends experience compromised physical health and they have taught me, amongst many other things, to treasure this blessing.

As for physical exercise, I find it so much easier doing activities i love – gardening for hours, walking my dog max, dancing to some funky music, moving meditations, walking on the beach or mountains or other beautiful environments etc. When i blend pleasure and exercise, it’s so much easier!

A bit further along the path towards health, my body has started to crave the good stuff. Today there was an overwhelming urge to eat something green, broccoli in particular – go figure! Glad to find this broccolini on the discount shelf at the local fruit shop! Steam it, cover in butter, add a little pepper – yum!

BroccoliniAs health has become a priority in life, naturally more time and actions support this, which in turn creates this feedback loop of greater energy and more vibrant life force.

Today I’m making a bone broth recipe from one of my spiritual mentors Nicole Cody.  She has documented her inspiring and tough journey towards health whilst living with late stage lyme disease.

www cauldronsandcupcakes comImage from http://www.cauldronsandcupcakes.com

This bone broth recipe is a great basic stock that can be used as the base for soups, pasta sauces and loads of other dishes. It’s full of nutrients and juicy flavours. I make it about once every fortnight. Tonight we’re using it to make this Tomato, bacon and lentil soup recipe.

www cauldronsandcupcakes com 1Image from http://www.cauldronsandcupcakes.com

I’ll write more stories about my unfolding spiritual journey and Nicole’s mentoring in future posts, but in the meantime enjoy her gorgeous recipes…

Wishing for you vibrancy in your life. May you know love, connection, creativity, adventure and cherish the beautiful physical body that has been gifted to you.  May you know joy and freedom from pain.

Much love

Sarah

Btw – the soup recipe is awesome, very hearty and filling and oh so healthy!! Thanks nicole! :o)

A family wedding…

Last week we travelled down to Melbourne for a family wedding, and we were excited!

For me, weddings are an opportunity for a fabulous community celebration of love and connection in our lives. But it’s not always been like this for me.

I was raised in a feminist family and for many years was anti-marriage. As a social institution, marriage, particularly for women, has a very chequered history. The historic notion of women being property, firstly of the father and then ‘given away’ into the custodianship of the husband, has always grated. Particularly when i consider that in my culture, my female ancestors had little or no access to education or means to make an independent income.

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Women were unable to own or inherit property and were legally subject to the whims and mercy of their husband. There was no rape in marriage laws and ‘rule of thumb’ law meant men could beat their wives with a rod whose diameter was no larger than their thumb. This is just the start of my reservations about marriage as I believe these traditional notions of marriage were oppressive for men as well.

Our reservations about marriage were also about the injustice of gay and lesbian people not having the same legal marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

Marriage has a long, diverse and complex history. Truth is, I’ve always struggled with gendered concepts around role, work, social status and expectations. It amazes me how ingrained and limiting these patriarchal beliefs can be. Feminism for me, represents freedom, not just for women, but for all people to be free of gender stereotypes and expectations, to create themselves according to their own truth, purpose and values.
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To strive for freedom and liberation, one first needs a conscious awareness of their own chains and limitations. But this isn’t a post about feminism, it’s about marriage, for me they are connected.

I got married just over two years ago. Why? So what changed? Well in a nutshell, me.

Our decision to get married started as pragmatic. We were approaching the 10th anniversary of our relationship and we wanted to throw a big party to celebrate. Most of our family live interstate and overseas and we realised that they were unlikely to travel for a party, but the big ‘M’ might motivate them! :o)

Truth is, we’d been cogitating on marriage for a few years. We had attended some lovely weddings in the preceding years and were warming to the idea. We decided to unpack the concept and redefine marriage on our own terms. In fact, we could just as easily not have married, but we embraced the concepts of joyous celebration.

At its very basic core, a marriage is an economic arrangement where two people agree to take financial responsibility for each other. Pre-liberation, when women were economically dependent, this usually meant men taking responsibility for women. When someone makes this kind of economic commitment to another person, it is a beautiful gift and in my mind should not be limited to opposite genders and some other constraints.  Sadly, Australian laws limit marriage to heterosexual couples only.

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Religion, culture, and social norms have layered meaning and expectations onto this social institution, particularly around gender roles, work, sexuality and the procreation of children. Couples now, have greater opportunity to redefine their relationships on their own terms (within existing cultural constraints). However, change is needed to the laws on same sex marriage, heterosexuals don’t own marriage.

Our marriage is an ongoing creation, but let’s look at our wedding itself. When it came to the wedding, we started with a blank slate. We threw out all the expectations, all the assumptions about what we should or should not do and created the event ourselves.

We came to understand the wedding as a public statement and celebration of what already was – our existing love and commitment to each other. We went further and saw it as a deeper spiritual ritual. We set the intention that the event was a gift to our community of family and friends. Our theme was “a celebration of love in our lives in all of its forms.”

Wedding program coverOur beautiful friend Narelle was the celebrant. She is very open and supportive of us. Many of our family and friends helped to organise the event. We are so grateful for their love and generosity! The ceremony took place on our land among the trees, birds and nature spirits. We created a magical ritual and cast a circle, we honoured the Aboriginal traditional owners and custodians of the land, and invited in the divine, our ancestors, elemental spirits and beings of light. The process honoured self love first, love and gratitude for our parents, love for our community, and romantic love for each other. We did a hand binding and exchanged rings and our own vows. We created and activated blessings for ourselves, each person present and their family, friends and community, and finally blessings for the earth and all beings.

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Now I understand the spiritual concept of the glowing bride. On the day, I became an open channel as an extraordinarily beautiful and joyful loving energy poured through. Throughout the whole ceremony and party afterwards this energy kept flowing. I set the intention for it to continually flow to all the people in attendance (and those who could not) and sent it out to the planet and all beings. We created an energetic mirror around us so that all the love, good thoughts and intentions that were sent our way were gratefully received and magnified 10 fold back into the lives of the sender. This was the spiritual gift to our community.

The focus for us was on celebration. We had a wonderful fun party afterwards at our family home. My parents were so generous in supporting us and hosting the event. We kept dancing and laughing til 5am, when we collapsed in a heap and watched the sunrise over the front deck. I can’t tell you how blessed and grateful we feel for such generosity from our community and our blessed memories.

_DSC6432 So i’m a convert to the joy and blessing of weddings, or parties, or whatever you choose to celebrate love and commitment. After you have organised and run your own wedding, there is a totally new appreciation for the gift of an invitation and just how special weddings can be. We’re loved the celebration of the family wedding, the fun and joy and the gift that we could give, without all the hard work!

The most important thing about a wedding is that it is a true and authentic expression of the couple. It can cost nothing or be massively expensive, most critical is the intention and meaning for the couple and their community.

A friend of mine, who is a wedding photographer, said to me recently, “it doesn’t matter how much a couple spends, one of the best wedding i’ve been to cost $100, what matters is the love in the room!”

I wish you celebration of love in your life in all its forms.
Know that we are blessed, truly!

Much love
Sarah

Releasing the burdens 2…

www brainpickings com 2Image from http://www.brainpickings.com

Wow these last three months have been a roller coaster! So much energetic clearing since i left work. I guess when you make a commitment to yourself to heal, well, the universe just brings it on. So i’ve just held on for the ride!

One of the first tasks crying out to be done, was to de-clutter my home. I joined a 28 day de-clutter boot camp run by Helen, a friend, at Clutter Rescue. This helped with motivation and useful strategies for getting my house organized.

We have a family story where my Mum is a minimalist, organized person and my dad has a love of stuff. As i grew up there was dividing line down the centre of my parent’s bedroom, one side organized and neat, the other, well? Let’s just say I was born on my father’s side of the room!

De-cluttering might be an understatement considering what i was dealing with. Perhaps total renovation is more accurate. Here’s the worst example, my messy back room!

IMGP0007I am someone who exists on the physical, mental / emotional and spiritual planes. I experience the material world as consisting of differing energies and in my cosmology the outer world reflects the internal world. Stuckness, or clutter, in my physical environment reflects energies stuck in my body, heart and mind, and the auric field. The truth is that not just my physical but my internal environment and energy field also needed de-cluttering. I was carrying a massive burden.

Here are some wisdom cards to help describe the experience.

TheBurdenImage from Osho Zen Tarot.

For me the first step is to identify the burdens that we carry. These include the physical possessions, the emotions, the beliefs systems, the thoughts, the old patterns of behaviour that are weighing us down. Some of the baggage includes self criticism, guilt, procrastination, perfectionism etc

The tanaste

Image from the Celtic Wisdom Oracle.

The second step is to make the decision to drop or release these burdens. This card (the inverted tanaste) suggests dropping the patterns of the ego – self criticism, fear, shame, dropping the lies that the false self tells us.

The Way-ShowerImage from the Celtic Wisdom Oracle.

The third step (the way shower) is to create an internal place of calm, to step into the stillness, the empty space. In this place of silence, it is about learning to hear, trust and follow your intuition. It will show you the signposts, the strategies, the tasks needed, when to take action and when to have a break.

The Prophet

Image from the Celtic Wisdom Oracle.

Final step (the prophet) – Learning how to be in your essence, that place of stillness and to allow all action to flow with ease from this beautiful energetic place. For me this energy starts with an open uncluttered heart and illuminates the expansiveness of the clear mind. It’s not just about listening to intuition but trusting it enough to follow it as well. In a way this is about handing it over and trusting the universe to assist in resolving it. When we do this, things seem to have a magical way of falling into place.

Going through the shedding process, the letting go can be confronting and challenging. Ask yourself – why am i holding onto this stuff? What fears are driving me or stopping me from letting go? For example – I recycled about 20 boxes of work materials, old papers, teaching materials, project materials, research material etc. I was holding on to these as they represented my employability skills and my fear of not being able to generate an income.

So how did i go? In some ways i felt like a failure as i didn’t achieve the goal within the timeframe. The first two days i was sick and barely got out of bed. My goal was massive, to organize my whole house within 28 days. The time frame, for me was a little unrealistic.

back room decluttered

The truth was that i was absolutely exhausted and burned out after leaving work. All i wanted to do was sleep, take it slowly, cook luscious food, heal and nurture myself and my family. I did go slowly, did a walking meditation each day with my dog Max at the local dog park. As I gently flowed through each day, lots of the ego stuff came up to be examined and released. I learned to be kind and gentle with myself whilst stepping through the work. I committed to at least one action each day towards de-cluttering.

The 28 day boot camp was the start for me and it extended into a cleanup that still continues. I am so proud of the results. I can definitely recommend making this a priority in your life.

www brainpickings comImage from http://www.brainpickings.com

I wish for you every inspiration, clarity and joy in your living space. Your home is your nest and a place for your heart to overflow with love and your mind to soar with creative inspiration.

Much love
Sarah

Out of this process, I’ve developed some workshops. The first is “Making your home into a heart space”. If you’d like to know more about these, please contact me – email thespiritualhomemaker@gmail.com

Wishing you abundance, profound peace and joy!

Wisdom cards and me…

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” William Shakespeare

mythic tarot the starImage “The star” card from the Mythic Tarot deck.

This post has been hard to write. Writing about spirituality, for me, is like picking up a single thread from a great tapestry, and whilst there is insight and truth in that thread, it does not capture the whole. The unfolding spiritual journey often involves threads of truth emerging, but using words limits and never fully captures it. It is like a sign post or symbol which points in a direction but is not the thing itself.

Many, many years ago, in my late teens, I bought my first set of Tarot cards. They were the ‘Mythic Tarot’ set, a good beginner set, with clear cards and book of explanations. At a young age, I was eagerly hoping for insight into my future – romance, work, career, travel etc. Naively wishing that my perfect future lay waiting for me, all i needed to do was to know about it and step into it. It would arrive fully realised!

Well maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but I was certainly quite naive and passive. The wise part of me always took this approach to tarot card readings with a grain of salt.  As a benevolent sceptic, open to anything but believe nothing, I intuitively knew there were other approaches.

In my experience, there is not one set future, rather an infinite number of possible futures and that we create it, in partnership with the universe, through our own free will, thoughts and actions. Events and experiences occur beyond our control, yet we have the capacity to create how we understand and respond those events.

divinegoddesscoaching comImage from http://www.divinegoddesscoaching.com

Every experience in life has a potential for learning and allowing us to become our highest, expanded self. What are the lessons and opportunities that present in life that enable this? It is easy to get caught up in the story. It seems so vivid and real at the time. Now I acknowledge the story and my reactions to it as great teachers, but also try to dig deeper and see the egoic pattern that underpins these stories. The story changes, yet it is often the same pattern recurring in different forms. It will continue to do so, until we resolve this pattern, understand the lesson and realise the opportunity to become our highest selves.

I usually draw a card each day for myself, a little wisdom card that might help to focus or understand the key themes and energies for the day. How i approach this has changed remarkably over the years, hopefully an indication of some maturing on my spiritual journey. Now i have few questions and don’t seek details of the future. Instead I approach it with openness, and seek wisdom and insight for the highest good for myself and others.

I now call them wisdom cards, and i see them as channelling tools to access universal wisdom. For anyone wanting to access this wisdom, they could use any tool – poetry, artwork, song, dance, books, music, any object or experience. I love the randomness of a set of cards.  I rarely use the ‘guide book’, instead i tune into the card and whatever messages or wisdom might emerge at a particular time. This can change for the same card at different times.

Here’s are some examples:

seven of cupsThe SEVEN OF CUPS from the Rider Waite tarot deck. This card has been coming up in my mind for some months now. For me it represents living within the constraints of 3 dimensional, linear time. Within finite time and energy, what are our priorities and how do we choose to direct our life force energy? This might be: the acquisition of wealth; achievements and victories; adventures, play and travel; nurturing an abundant hearth and home; being of service to others; time with friends, family and community; creative expression; unfolding on the spiritual path, or other priorities.

We might like to have everything, but this rarely resonates with experience. Attention given to one aspect may result in less time for other priorities. How do we consciously choose to direct our time and energy? What do we focus on? Do we spread ourselves thinly across a broader range of goals or perhaps pick one or two to pursue in greater depth?

It can also suggest a lack of clarity. What is our heart’s desire? Are our decisions based on this? Is it flowing from our essence, rather than ego? Perhaps it is a good time to reflect and focus on what we want in our lives?

hero_heroineImage from Caroline Myss Archetype cards.

Here’s another – THE HERO / HEROINE. What mountains do we build in our minds and life? What barriers do we create that stop us from living from our essence? Do we feel like we need to undertake these massive tasks and achievements in order to feel worthy? Doing a momentous thing is of value in itself. Being good enough, being awesome is a thing in itself. The two things are not necessarily interrelated. How do we allow them to stand alone as pillars in our lives?

poetImage from Caroline Myss Archetype cards.

Over the last few weeks, this card – THE POET has been drawn 8 times. Day after day, i was being given the same message. Was i getting it? Not just in my head, but was i understanding it in my heart and my experience? Was i living the message? Often when we put up ego blocks to messages, there will be repetition. For me this card is about self expression and creativity, particularly through words and voice. These can be words of truth, love, peace and beauty. This blog and the canvases have been calling me back.

Finally I have listened!

Today i wish for you creativity, insight and wisdom.

Much love
Sarah

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.

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