Gifts Wrapped In Love


“One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.” John O’Donohue

I am grateful for knowing some great friends, who give me perspective and the simple joy of belonging. I am especially grateful for my Anam Cara’s. John O’Donohue is an Irish author who wrote a book of the same name, and defined the Anam Cara as, “a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an Anam Cara, your friendship cut across all convention and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul.”

This too has been my experience – and one of them has just given me one if the most special gifts I’ve ever had. Though I chose her gift with thought and care, as my kids said, “Diane 1, Mum Nil.”

It started with a key ring called “The World According To Caroline” – in itself significant. I’m called Caroline but long ago, my mum shortened it to Carol, and won’t call me anything else. Nor will anyone who knew me prior to 1999, the year I decided to stand up for my life. I love my name, Caroline; it’s who I am now – and Diane knows about this struggle to be me.

The gifts were all wrapped in love and labelled in the order I had to open them. Only after I opened them and then read the details in the keyring did I realise that and she had read the “Links To Your Name,” and had given me one of each. That’s when I sat humbled and started to cry at such an amazing gift of love.

She gave me:

Fragrance: Mint – and I got a healthy dark chocolate mint bar

Plant: Fern – I got a scroll with a fern on it, that said that, “like the fern, we grow and flourish if we unfurl toward light or truth. The more we unfurl, the more the tendrils of our true nature begin to show as we loosen, surrender and soften, releasing and opening as we let go of old stories…”

Flower: Dahlia – I got a paper cup cake holder with dahlia’s on it as a reminder to keep baking (which I last did in 1998)

Tree: Elm. Now Diane could not know that I once lived in a house called ElmValej, but what she did know is that I’ve been learning to nurture myself and avoid overwhelm. She gave me the Bach Flower remedy Elm, which helps me do just that ..

Animal: Reindeer, so I got a Christmas ornament and a decoration for my tree. Yet a deer is also significant as we both attended a storytelling event where we found our power animal – and found exactly the same one. A deer…

Metal: Titanium – she emailed me David Guetta’s Titanium (one of my favourite tracks of 2012)

Hue: Turquoise – I got a beautiful Turquoise crystal

Day of the Month: 22, which happens to be my husband’s birthday, but it was the day she arranged to have my present delivered..

Number 41: it was all organised by Diane, who is 41

And last, but very much by no mean last, Gemstone: Sapphire – and inside a trinket box with angels wings and love on it was a turquoise pendant which had been precious to her mum but which she wanted to pass to me..

Gifts wrapped in love indeed. Wow!

Losing A Marriage Through Carelessness

forget me nots

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
― Joseph Campbell

Today, a tweet led me to an article called “16 ways I blew my marriage”:

Talking it over with friends later, they said you couldn’t just lose a marriage; it wasn’t like a soccer game (won by a stronger team) or a set of keys or a book (lost through carelessness).

But they were wrong. I know that you can lose any important relationship through carelessness; I also know that you can lose a marriage the same way. A marriage very rarely ends suddenly for no reason – it usually is death by a thousand knives, even if one of those knives is indifference. My first marriage officially ended when I left it for what I thought was the chance to be loved – but it had been dying for a long time.

It died through carelessness, when the person I was with forgot to cherish me and when they wanted me to be all that I wasn’t. I ended up trying very hard to be the someone my husband wanted me to be; and that had already had a shape and a name. He had found a friend, a soulmate, he called her while maintaining she was only ever a friend, who took over our lives and suffocated our marriage. He travelled a lot on business and would bring me home a present most times – but he always brought her one home too. He cooked fish pies and made little cakes for us – but always set aside some for her. He asked me why I couldn’t be like her, or dress like her or act like her – and I tortured myself asking why I couldn’t, while desperately trying to do what was asked, until I was exhausted being someone else.

They were dark days when I did not know I could dare to be happier. I stayed because my culture required it, because my beliefs insisted on it, even if those beliefs were sometimes second hand beliefs. With four small children, and a part time job, I kept spiralling down to a place where I could see no options and found I had lost my voice and become invisible. What could be seen brought envy from those who could not see – a beautiful mortgage-free house, £80k in the bank, a part time job and a busy social life. They could not see because I hid my heartache from all who knew me, and I hid myself by wearing ten ton masks of family life and hostess.

Living in a state of almost constant fear and anxiety, I lost myself. I lost hope in a place where I could see no options,where I shut my feelings down because that was less painful than knowing how they felt. I forgot what it was to be loved and could not dare to love myself, but when someone indicated that I might actually be a living, breathing woman, I leapt towards that spark of hope. In the process, I lost many many friends and much more. The leap was so vast it shook me so deeply that it would take almost a year before I could read more than a paragraph in a book again.

Louise Hay says that all that we do is driven by fear or love; I know this is true. I regret the way the marriage ended, and I regret that I stayed so long – yet I cannot fully regret this, because it forced me down the path that led me to my life today. That quote from Joseph Campbell is one of my favourites because I know the truth of it. I don’t know if I was willing to let go, but the letting go of the life I’d planned brought me to where I am now, with a life full of gratitude.

It’s a place where I dare to be happier! I’ve been surprised to find out what I might be capable of. I am blessed with a home that’s a haven, a great career, a part time coaching and training role. Where I’m surrounded by so many dear true friends, spiritual teachers and Anam Caras. My children have grown up and with their support I learned to swim, not sink, sometimes because I absolutely needed to provide for them, as I got so little financial support from their dad. They are as proud of me as I am of them.

In daring to be happier, I have had to make daily choices about how I think and what I do. In living authentically,I have learned from my mistakes – and I have learned to love and nurture myself and find my voice.

I have also learned that all I can ever be is me, and that’s just perfect. I have dusted myself off and polished myself up, and allowed myself (sometimes at least) to shine bright like a diamond. Diamonds come from ashes after all. I will not ever stand on a pedestal again, or allow others to put me there. I know too well how human I am – but as a human being, I long to be seen and loved for exactly who I am; we can ask for no more. To be loved carefully, to be cherished. Though I’ve known great pain and darkness in my life, I found that daring to be happier again brought all sorts of adventures.

It also brought me a special kind of love, perhaps because my now husband (Lee) is a very special kind of man. As I write this, he is away for a long weekend pursuing one of his hobbies – but I know he is thinking about me often. I know he loves and cherishes me because he will organise little gifts,and he texts and calls me when he is away, touching base little and often. Some people may not appreciate that, or find it corny; I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. Yesterday, I put my hand in my jacket pocket and found a small bar of my favourite chocolate waiting for me. Today, I got into my car and there was a beautiful winter plant sitting smiling at me. When I saw it, I burst into tears. Happiness Virus tears, he said to me later. Yes; these were good tears. Tears because I am loved for who I am and all that I could be. He will not lose our marriage through carelessness.

Project Me 37/100 – Wonderfully Uniquely Me, I Am

We are all born originals – why is it so many of us die copies?

– Edward Young

So who am I? Why am I original – and in living authentically, I will never be a copy. No reality TV “inspiration” for me! I’m a mother, wife, writer, lover, colleague, teacher, student, friend. Neighbour, swimmer, walker, talker, ex JP, ex wife, ex Toastmaster, woman, encourager, darkness & light, expert, seeker, searcher, Anam Cara, shit-stirrer, pilgrim, solitary, hermit, connector, poet, artist, creator, keener, traveller, tourist, wanderer, lover of home. Leader, see-Ee, pointer, healer, helper, judge, wise woman. Foolish woman. Tribe seeker, peace-keeper, exiled, flagellator, un-merciful, grace-less, full of grace. Unforgiving, too forgiving. Controller, goddess, sensual, passionate, cold. Wild, fearful, courageous. Co-creator, stroppy, moody, wild, earthed, agitated, calm, Pollyanna, no angel. Nurturer of others, forgetter and ignorer of myself. Manifester, generator, ignitor. I am present, past and all my hope and dreams.

And that’s only the start if it! I’m a mass of contradictions – but I AM wonderfully uniquely me, I am!