You know, there are moments when I am so grounded, so connected, filled with joy, gratitude and peace. Those moments... they are magical!
Quite often they involve being in nature - walking on the beach at sunrise, watching birds in our garden or looking up at the trees and the sky. Put me outside in silence, and I will usually find my inner peace.
I find it more of a challenge to ground myself in the day to day activities of life. I've been meditating a lot on this lately. I've come to realize that for me to reach my full potential and achieve the vision I have for my life (more on that in another post!), I need to find more joy. Joy has been my go to word for the past month. I discovered, my soul thrives on joy! If I want to achieve my goals in this life, I need to be more joyful!
Sounds great in theory, right? Just be more joyful. Simple. Hmmm... not as easy as it seems. Firstly, I had to become aware of what joy FEELS like. How does it feel in my body & mind?
On a recent yoga/ meditation retreat, I found a lot of joy and started to recognize what it feels like. For me, it feels as if my chest and heart are open wide - I visualize my rib cage opening and the light beaming out from my heart. I also feel immense gratitude. Quite often if I am feeling particularly joyful - tears come to my eyes along with a smile on my face. It truly is magical!
After awareness, I examined what fills my heart with joy. I remember being a kid and feeling so free and light. What was I doing in those times?
I was creating!
I was drawing, playing music, writing, making jewelry, moving my body freely in water (I used to be a synchronized swimmer, but don't tell anyone :-)).
When I looked at the list of things that made me joyful, they have all but disappeared from my life! How on Earth did that happen?? I know things change as you grow up, but how did I let joy go?
In a meditation recently, I received a message from my soul (yeah, that happens sometimes if you really listen). It was an equation. It went something like this:
CREATE = JOY
So simple. The message couldn't be clearer. If I want more joy in my life then I need to CREATE!
I was so excited by this, that I went out the next day and drew my Inner Goddess. It was so fun! I simply got my sketchbook out from a dusty drawer, took some pencils and drew! Yep, you can just do that - whenever you want! It felt so freeing. I sat outside and just allowed the pencils to move over the paper. And I love the result, it truly is me; my soul, my Inner Goddess.
I'm more determined than ever to bring more joy into my life. Every day, I ask myself, "What can I do today to fill myself with joy?"
I feel like a new me! It's so fun to think about creating moments of joy everyday. I also feel deep gratitude along with the joy. How blessed am I to live a joyful life!
What fills your soul? Trust in yourself. Listen quietly, and you'll find out. xx
Do you think you are healthy or unhealthy? How do you define health?
According to the World Health Organization, "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely an absence of disease and infirmity."
In the past, I focused my attention on my physical health but neglected my mental and social health.
Alongside heart disease and traffic accidents, depression is one of the greatest health conditions affecting society. Mental health is one of the most neglected areas today. What do you do for your mental health?
And are you socially healthy? Do you contribute to the health of society through positive relationships and social activities?
Health needs to be looked at holistically. All three areas, physical, mental and social, must be attended to if we want to be healthy.
So how do we do it?...
"What's important is a healthy mind. We lead our bodies with our minds. A healthy, flexible mind that can actively manage the health of the body, even as it accepts bodily realities dispassionately: this is the key to health." - Il Chi Lee, Living Tao
If you had met me 10 years ago, I was a very different person to who I am now. Back then, I lived my life according to expectations; expectations set by others but mostly those I set for myself.
I've always been described as a "reliable", "thoughtful", someone who can "get it done", but for the longest time, my actions came out of a place that was not authentically me. I was trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be - and this may have been true in some cases but quite often it was what I perceived others wanted me to be. In other words, it wasn't true. No-one expected these things of me, expect myself.
I was creating an outward image of what I thought society wanted me to be.
A bit of background that might help you understand how I got to this place...
In 2002, I left my home country, Australia, and started on my now 15 year journey as an "Expat". My husband works in the oil industry and as is the nature of the industry, we moved every 2 or 3 years. So far, we have lived in 8 countries and each time we moved, I felt completely displaced. I soon learned ways to cope with the turmoil and insecurity I felt. I reinvented myself every time we moved.
In a struggle to adjust and fit in to a new place, I would whole-heartedly (almost desperately!) throw myself into every social circle you could imagine. Expat ladies groups, sporting groups, moms' groups, fitness groups, cooking classes, craft classes. Anything to create a sense of identity and belonging.
This strategy served me well for a long time; up until I had my children in 2012. The demands of being a mother of twin babies didn't allow me to do what I normally did to cope. I couldn't reinvent myself despite how hard I tried. Oh and I tried! In my head, I had images of being that fit, active mom who did everything she normally did before having her kids. And for a while, I managed to give the outward impression of having it all together.
But I could only keep it up for so long. The energy required to live a life that is not authentic to you is extraordinary!
I was exhausted, frustrated, lost, depleted and broken.
I had no choice in the end; I had to face my reality and make a change. Unfortunately, it took me hitting rock bottom and being diagnosed with depression when the girls were 18 months old (that's how long I managed to keep up the insanity!) to see that I was fooling myself and that I had lost touch with my authentic self.
After much support from doctors, medication, therapists and my husband, I eventually emerged and became determined to discover more about myself and hopefully find my purpose in life. I wanted peace and joy to come back to my life. The only way I could do this is by being my authentic self.
Fast forward 5 years and here I am. Although it's been a long journey, I feel I now truly am myself.
I work everyday at living a life authentic to me.
I have learned and developed the tools and strategies to keep me on track and have found my purpose - helping others through their own journey to self-awareness and authenticity. After all...
...what's better than living a life authentic to you? Peace and joy are bound to follow.
Now, I am privileged and grateful to play a small part in facilitating and empowering others on their journey.
As I sat in the coffee shop writing, a young woman was getting settled at the table next to me. I could sense her frustration with the sun coming through the window as she tried to get her laptop in optimum position. She struggled as she tried to figure out where the nearest power outlet was for her charger. I could sense her tension without her even saying a word.
She sat for a while, tapping away distractedly, as she waited for a friend to arrive.
Before long, the woman she had been waiting for was there. As they began to settle in their chairs, her friend asked her how she was doing. Deflatedly, the woman said she was doing ok. But clearly she was not. This was the cue that the woman hoped would allow her friend to ask more; to help her to open up and get to the depth of her sadness.
As they discussed trivial matters, the woman gave short, clipped answers - this is not what she wanted from the exchange but she knew this was a necessary part of the dance. Eventually, the friend asked the trigger question - "so how are things going since the break-up." This was the sign, the permission the woman was looking for to open the gates to the sorrow in her heart.
Initially, the friend entered "look on the bright side" mode followed quickly by "devil's advocate". Neither of these were helpful to the woman and caused her to be defensive. But soon the friend sank into "holding space"; providing no feedback, no solutions, but just listening and empathizing.
The woman's relief was almost tangible. She could now release all of the feelings and irrational thoughts held inside for so long. And as she poured out the words, I could feel her energy shift, like a pressure release valve as she acknowledged her hurt, put language to the feelings and let it go.
I could tell the exchange was almost complete when the woman and her friend started laughing and poking fun at the "ex", releasing whatever pressure was left inside and closing the chapter signaling the end of the dance.
Soon after, the women left and I reflected on the snapshot of friendship that I had unconsciously witnessed. The ebb and flow of that exchange has surely been repeated since eternity. And it made me realize the power and necessity of friendship. The dance, holding space for each other, the pressure valve to releasing, and thereby allowing "a future" to seem like a reality again.
It was such a simple exchange but also so meaningful, showing the necessity of finding true friends who are willing to take part in "dance" and help shift some of the weight so you can move on.
Follow your joy and you will find your authentic self.
What fills you with joy? Today, for me, it was playing netball again. I forgot how much freedom and strength I feel from playing. It really filled my soul - well, after it kicked my @ss :-)
This was the first time I ever took the girls out for lunch by myself. I guess they were about 9 months old.
This moment was one of the first times I remember feeling confident and relaxed by myself with my own children outside of the house. I had zero expectations of them and myself and we actually had a really lovely time.
In those early days, I had so many expectations of myself (and the girls). Things I thought other people wanted me to be. Ideals I'd created for myself that were far removed from the reality f being a mom of infant twins.
It took me a year and a half to let go of those expectations and begin finding my authentic self again. Man, it was a hard road and a tough lesson to learn! But here we are, almost 5 years on, and I feel true to myself and confident I'm living a life authentic to me. In turn, showing my girls an example of how I want their lives to be.
Today, I took the time to watch Dr. Wayne Dyer's movie, "The Shift". It spoke to me on so many levels, strengthened my belief in things that I thought to be true but couldn't quite bring myself to believe, let alone live. I felt "The Shift" happen for me very recently (you can read about it in my last blog post), now let's see if I can keep true to myself.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, I really recommend it. If you don't consider yourself spiritual or "into any of that kind of thing", don't let that stop you. This movie very intelligently puts forward many ideas about being your authentic self with real life examples that we can all relate to in one way or another. I particularly recommend it for women, especially moms.
By the way, FMTV has become my new Netflix. Want to feel like you are making the most of your "down time", check it out.
Wednesday was the day. It had been coming for a long time. A shift, a breaking free, a breaking down, being true.
And here we are, Thursday, and it’s real.
I feel 10 feet tall. I notice bees, sunlight, leaves look greener. I’m thankful for all of it. I see clearly for the first time in a long time. I can lift my eyes up and truly see.
Today, I shut my business. No more workshops, seminars, email advice, Facebook posts. It stops – today. How does that feel? Well, fucking fantastic to be honest! Why? Because I have finally broken through the fear, and am willing to put myself out there and manifest what I want for myself. No thoughts about disappointing people or being a failure. No regret over money wasted, time invested, compromises made. It’s all behind me. I want to get out of my comfort zone and be ALIVE!
This has certainly been a process. I’ve been close a couple of times but I had always run back to “what I know” and “what I do”. Over and over I tell myself:
“This is what I do”
“This is important work”
“If I give up, I will be a failure (in other people’s eyes & my own)”
“I’m good at this, so what else would I do?”
“I’ve invested so much; I can’t leave it all behind. People are counting on me.”
Ego and fear. This is what held me back.
When I started my parenting education business, it was about educating people about their children. Having an understanding of their kids makes parenting easier. There was little about "the parent". Probably 85 kid/ 15 parent.
After a while, I felt a shift. It became important, necessary, to look more at the parent. I could feel people were craving it, an urgency. So I started to bring people together to explore their identity parents. The split started to change to 5 kid/ 95 parent.
The more events I would do, the more I could see (and heard from the feedback) that the value or “success” of these events was in bringing people together to share their experiences and out of that, bring people to the realization (and relief!) that we all are in this together.
What I didn’t know then, but what I can clearly see now, is that I was fulfilling the human need for connection. We are desperate to connect, to share, to “be in it together”. It’s in our makeup at a cellular level. There is a ton of research to support this idea but for the purpose of this writing, I have no interest in looking it up now.
If this is my strength, bringing people together, creating a sense of community and commonality, how can I do that at a bigger level? Is parenting the right context? Not necessarily, although it is a great lens through which to see.
I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a professional speaker for a while. When I close my eyes and truly look at where I see myself, I am in front of thousands of people with my heart open, guiding and willing them to be the same – open-hearted and connected. I’ve taken baby (comfortable) steps towards making that happen but fear has held me back.
But not anymore. Fuck it! Nothing to lose. So here we go. I hope you’ll join me on the journey…