Project Me – 68/101 – Having The Courage To Call A Halt

One must also accept that one has “uncreative” moments.  The more honestly one can accept that, the quicker these moments will pass.  One must have the courage to call a halt, to feel empty and discouraged.” Etty Hillesum

Project Me

Who’d have thought this “Project ME”  would be the adventure it’s been? And who’d have thought it would change me in so many ways, this concept of nurturing myself, my spirit, body and soul…? It may not be forever, but for now, I’ve taken my foot right off the pedal, slowed down, found new ways of looking at things, begun to explore what nurturing myself might mean in all areas of my life – and stopped planning for and worrying about what I was going to do next. 

Holidays, anyone?

One example of this is my holiday plans. I’m an organiser – it was evident in my childhood and has persisted through my life, which I’m sure hasn’t been to everyone’s taste!  Part of that was necessity – with four children five and under, an elderly aunt to care for, part time jobs and a lot of different church and community activities, I needed to know what was going to get done when.  Often, I over-extended myself, and it became a habit.  I had lists of daily, weekly and monthly things to do, I would  buy cards and gifts months in advance, and I’d nearly always organise the next holiday when the old one was barely past.  This year, all I did was book the time off work –  and that is an absolute first.  I am off work for two weeks, and just know the perfect holiday will turn up for me in the next day or so – so much so, I feel no anxiety about this, even though many of my friends do! 

The void

Writing in my journal earlier, I noted that for the first time in possibly twelve or more years, I was just content to be – not strive to be “other”, not pushing to grow, develop, change, encourage others or myself, or even figure out my purpose in life, to see if that had changed in any way.  I pulled out of courses I was going to run; not an easy decision, but the right one nonetheless.  And several weeks into this void, I am still okay with this lack of desire to do or be or do next.  I am at peace; I am slowing down enough to read poetry again and even today reading a poem that made me cry, as it connected with my soul.  My husband asked me when I was going to write again, and I said I didn’t know, but when the time was right, I would…

Trusting the process of life

With the perfect timing I am beginning to expect, I have just read this, from Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance”, and thought I would share it, as she shared a time when she was in a creative drought.  I don’t feel I’m in such a place, but her words still reminded me to be okay with doing nothing and trusting the process of life, as Louise Hay would say.

“What do I do?” she asked her agent…

You don’t do anything,” she told me.  Zilch.  Nada. Zip.  Wait it out.  Accept the fallow period as graciously as you can, and get ready for a quantum leap in creativity or consciousness. 

It is so difficult to come to a halt, especially when we want to get on with our careers, relationships, health, creativity.  But when you’re too parched to pray, beyond tears, or too drained to give a damn, it’s time to cease and desist.  Not all our hours are billable.

No, this does not mean you can quit.  You still have to go through the motions, keep showing up for work: on the page, at the drawing board, stove, sewing machine, computer.  Continue to prepare the canvas, mosten the clay.  Pretend you’re a creative temp, here, to fill in until your authentic self arrives.  In the meantime, defer making any life-altering creative decisions until you receive operating instructions.  Your only assignment is to replenish the well… Keep in touch with your authentic self with the daily dialogue…

Often the derailment of too many dreams can bring on a drought, but whenever there’s a dry period, there’s still plenty of Light.  We’re just blinded by dark dust storms.  Arid despair can often result from nurturance deprivation: not eating well, not sleeping enough, working too hard and too long without anything to look forward to.  Dona Cooper, one of the most creative and productive women I know, frequently reminds me, especially when my plans don’t proceed at the speed of light, that “This too, is God.”…..

Today, if you’re feeling uncreative, don’t despair.  Start getting excited and save your strength.  You’re being prepared for a quantum leap in authenticity.”

Woo hoo! If you’re going to leap, it might as well be a quantum leap!

Project Me – 36/101 – More Miracles of Next Steps

Project Me – 36/101 – More Miracles of Next Steps

And they kept happening..

Miracle 5: Lighten Up

I’m struggling with the changes going on, that I know need to happen and my reasons for not doing them – so many things; in fact, I’m sure this mental confusion may have led to me getting the flu (thanks Diane!) Through Spiral Heart’s Billy Goats Gruff event I see it’s time to lighten up; I am often too serious, too conscientious, doing so much out of duty. But change is hard -.and then I read this, which makes me change my attitude to this:

do whatever you can to make your transformational change a joy and a pleasure. Have fun!” Louise Hay

Miracle 6: Pilgrimage

I’ve already written about how this felt like a pilgrimage to me, and just when I am struggling with that idea, I read these definitions in Celtic Daily Prayer (daily reading):

A pilgrimage is “a journeying to a particular place, in the expectation that such a journey will have deep signficance”

Miracle 7: Relationships

I’m coming down with the flu and in a bad mood, so much so all I am focussing on is problems in any relationship I have, and that same day, Louise Hay reminds me that “relationships are a mirror of ourselves...” and I realise it’s ME that needs to change

Miracle 8: Surrender

I use Cheryl Richardson’s Grace cards (a phone app, though you can check it out here – and the word I get is Surrender “the key that unlocks the door to grace”  I vehemently react to this concept, having struggled to be independent and stand up for my life – but realising this means surrender to the Universe, to what is, changes my thinking and feelings about this.  And a friend sends me a quote that says “I haven’t surrendered, I quit.”  This just feels like a load is off my back; the struggle has ended

Miracle 8: Grace

The app generates the cards randomly.  You swipe your hand backwards/forwards and it stops at a card.  I get “Watch” – “believe in the power of grace.  When one least expects it, a new door will open and the light of grace will illuminate our next step.”  That’s why I call this Miracles of next steps – because since the 13 July, every solitary day since that, when I have opened the app, no matter what card was last pulled, it opens at Watch.  I’m watching

Miracle 9: Goosebumps

I blog about the law of twice and go to work.  The day before was my worst ever day at work, so much so I had to just go for a walk to clear my head as I had so much to do and wasn’t feeling well.  On the Friday, it is a little bit quieter, and there are brief opportunities to talk to colleagues.  A conversation starts about Jack Black, with one colleague saying they would have liked to hear him, and another said they had heard him.  Sarah said she had really enjoyed what he said, but the one thing that stuck in her head was this law of twice.  I looked at her and said, Sarah, you will never believe what I posted today – sent her it through, and she said that she had goosebumps reading it.  Me too!

Miracle 10: Cycles

In some ways I feel at the edge of a void; scared, uncertain – not knowing what my next steps are, or who I might be.  Pamela asks me “why do you need to know?” And in panic I react, saying “I just need to know.  I’ve always needed to know what my next steps are, to have a plan.”  She reminded me this wasn’t actually the case – and wasn’t I learning that all I needed was the next step, revealed when I was ready?  That same day, I read:

In moving through the difficult stages of our lives, we can leanr to trust our heart to these cycles and their unfolding as surely as we can trust roots to go down and leaves to push up through the earth of our garden.” Jack Kornfield.  And he goes on to say:

“We can trust that whatever calls our attention in practice – our body, our personal history, the community around us- in or out of retreat, it will bring us what we need to live fully and genuinely in the timeless here and now.”

“We are learning to open in the timeless unfolding of our lives, being in greater and greater harmony with what is, with a greater inclusiveness of our heart to all the seasons of our lives.”

Perfect timing. Perfect

And still, they come…



Project Me – 37/101 – The Miracles of Small Steps

At the beginning of 2012, I set my theme for this year, and part of it was to see miracles. Not the big Walking On Water miracles (though I believe in these), but the other type of miracles, where things happen that you can’t explain at exactly the right time.  Jung called this synchronicity – I still call it miracles, because you can’t explain it, and the timing is just so perfect for your soul.  They’ve been happening – so much so, I started a specific journal to record them!  And when I started Project Me I thought I expected some to happen – but not quite so many!  What I now realise is that though I’m a state of flux, a place of change, all I ever need is the next step – take that step, and I am encouraged, comforted, and I flow with the Universe.

Miracle 1: On being vulnerable

I feel vulnerable sharing this journey publicly – more so than I thought I would, yet I wanted to do it to keep me accountable and to encourage someone.  I open myself to ridicule, criticism (spoken or unspoken), to being ignored as well.  Feeling vulnerable isn’t pleasant, and as I’m feeling this feeling, just as I’m preparing to start the Project, I read this on my Louise Hay calendar, “I let go of all expectations.  Other people are free to be themselves, and I am free to be me.”  Time to be me, then!

Miracle 2: Creativity

I have no real idea how to nurture myself.  I meet a friend on Team Caroline and she asks me HOW I will do this, and I give some standard answers – more massages, baths, reading.  The answer satisfied for the time it was asked, but it wasn’t enough.  I come home and google “nurture” and I find lots on nurturing your child, and your creativity, but not a great deal else.  Still, I read some information on creativity – and realise I DO need to nurture that side of me; it’s something I don’t do enough.  I even consider being wildly creative, as my favourite Wild Women are on Team Caroline!  The next morning, while still thinking about this, I open an email from Oprah’s life class and find 13 quotes to inspire your creativity! 

“The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.” Deepak Chopra

“You have to leave the city of your comfort, and go into the wilderness of your intuition.” Alan Alda

“I see your life as already artful, just waiting and ready for you to make art.” Toni Morrison

“If you are unhappy with anything – whatever is bringing you down – get rid of it.  Because you will find that when you are free, your time, creativity, your true self comes out.”  Tina Turner

Miracle 3: Nurturing my spirit

I write about how I realise I hadn’t spent time nurturing my spirit, and had suffered the consequences of this… much later that night, I sat down to read an email from someone whose partner was murdered as a result of knife crime. I don’t recall how we first made contact, perhaps it was something to do with work I was doing with some victims of such crimes, but however it happened, over the past year she has become a friend as well. And she’d read my blog – and then emailed me this, but I hadn’t read it at the time she emailed me, waiting until I could read it properly – yet the timing of when I read it was perfect.

 “You are quite right to devote some time to you. I did that and I honestly don’t think I would have managed to reconnect to myself and the world in the way I have. After my partner’s death I could hardly read anything for pleasure which was another huge loss. I began by reading poetry because there were no long sentences and moved on to some of the spiritual writing from my (long lost) hippyish youth.

I read in a book on grief, a new favourite topic, by Alan D Wolfelt that we know we are supposed to exercise our bodies 30 minutes daily but we need to exercise our spirit for 30 minutes daily. It made sense and the latter was easier for me than the former! I found ways to do it, often meditating, sometimes just a walk, listening to a lot of meditative music Gregorian chants, Buddhist chants the list is long and of course writing so now it has almost become a part of me. It is strange because I sometimes get blasé and think I don’t need it or I don’t have time and that is often when I take a big dip again. So in my usual long winded way I am saying yes nurture yourself, 30 minutes a day – we are worth that!!!”

I know I have been starting again to nurture my spirit – but my body? I realise that this is something I just don’t do..

Yet – Miracle 4: Movement

The next day, I read about the Stanford Creativity and Business course followed by “wildly creative women” – and they say that “strenghtening the mind/body connection is so important to being more creative in your life.”  This gets me thinking about that connection.  In the past 14 years, I realise that I’ve always been thinking, attending courses, reading, growing, learning – but there’s been a disconnect with my body.  Later that same day, Jane from Team Caroline sends me through a list of questions to help me consider what nurture might mean to me – and I make a list of what makes me feel alive. It says, “the sea, cycling, walking in the hills, powerful music, passion, being on top of a hill, dancing” a among other things, most of which are to do with movement of some sort, many of which I do so little of.  This will change – in fact it has already changed! I’m cycling, walking, climbing 5 flights of stairs at work, dancing!

Am I on the right path for me?  It feels right – and then I read this from Louise Hay:

“The holistic philosophy is to nurture and nourish the entire being – the body, the mind, and the spirit.  If we ignore any of thes areas, we are incomplete; we lack wholeness.”

The first four miracles of timing; of next steps or the right article or quote exactly when I need it.  Wow! I’m stunned in gratitude… at the same time as things are getting really shaken up, where I enter a void of uncertainty and anxiety.  Though I know my soul is getting shaken at a deep level, to change me, it is an unpleasant place to be.. yet still, the miracles of next steps keep happening…

Project Me 8&9/101 – Too Busy To Refresh My Spirit

Louise Hay says “all the theory in the world is useless unless we know how to apply it and make a change.”

I’m at the stage of learning the theory, so can cut myself some slack. And after the last few days, I need to.

Days when on the face of it, I should have been nurtured. After all, I had an adventure, stayed at a lovely hotel, ate amazing food and spent time with some good friends. But there were also days of no space to refresh and calm my spirit as there were much to busy days at work plus how I felt plus getting upset over money – and then being subject to an attempt to steal what money I had! Thankfully my bank caught it and alerted me but I’ve had to cancel my bank cards as a result. Now if that ain’t the Law of Attraction in operation, I will eat my hat! So a good lesson there – to nurture myself in what I focus on. Which I was also reminded of last night by some good friends too; my attitude is my responsibility.

So instead of continuing my downward path of yesterday – including setting the grill alight & later forgetting I had put ham on to cook (because all the windows were open to let the smoke from the fire out – so I didn’t smell it!) – I went to bed early. THAT was good for me, and probably for everyone else around me, and not just for the sleep.

When I woke I asked myself what was going on? What was different? And came back to my first point. I wasn’t too busy to refresh my spirit; I had chosen not to do it. I had chosen to spend my time in other ways rather than spend time alone with my current spiritual books and my journal.

So guess what I’m doing today then? Yep. Shifting my priorities so I am first again.

And before I forget. The two questions. I’ve no idea where I found them alas, but someone recommended you stop throughout your day and ask yourself:
1 What am I feeling right now?
2 What do I need?

Powerful questions, or at least I’ve found them so. When I remember to ask – and listen and act on the answers.

Could-Be Obstacles

My youngest daughter has, through illness, had to pull out of the final year of her Honours course. She kept going, when able, to the lectures, because she couldn’t bear to think it might be her last one, and opted to have lunch with a close friend rather than attend what was everyone’s last lecture. It was a difficult day for her. Though she is now thankfully recovering, it would not have been possible to catch up on three months of coursework and lectures that she missed, or to complete her dissertation.

Sometimes, life gets in the way of all the plans you make and then it’s perfectly okay to experience grief, loss and sadness. How she felt had nothing to do with having a Pity Party or feeling sorry for herself. To fail to acknowledge or feel these emotions would mean she was not being true to herself. Or human. It’s only if she was bitter at options that closed off or at unrealised dreams, or if she remained stuck, that problems would arise. For now, to go “with the flow,” could well be to feel pretty miserable.

Louise Hay says we remind ourselves at these times that “All Is Well, For My Higher Good.” Jenni’s Great Auntie Belsie used to say, “This Too Will Pass” (which I recently discovered won a competition for wisdom in the time of the Ancient Greeks). I’ve found both phrases work well for me in helping me live with what IS right now.

I’ve learned to be grateful for the times I didn’t get what I wished for. With “hindsight insight” I am even grateful my failures, my wrong turns, my mistakes, my blocked exits and all the obstacles I’ve had to find ways to clamber over or get around. All of them have brought me to where I am now and to WHO I am now. None of it was wasted time. It was waiting time.

I know enough of her positive attitude to life to know she will bounce back from this and follow her own path. Her right-now path that leads to her right path. As I was thinking of this, I happened to read Pat O’Donohue’s comment on ‘could be’ obstacles; a way of seeing things in a different way. He says:

“Here in the Burren you are befriended by rocks and stones wherever you go. They only become obstacles if you can’t find your way around them. When we were being introduced to the world of garden and meadow it was natural to see a massive grey conversation piece protruding through the brown soil or the green grass. The rows of vegetables never seemed perturbed as they continued around the possible obstacle like the flow of the river meandering on its way further down the valley.

In fact, the fruits of the garden often flourished in the vicinity of this rock. The heat of the limestone warmed the seed and its size sheltered the tender young blossom. It also presented the tired back with a justifiable occasion of straightening and rest. In a mysterious way it seemed beneficial, if not necessary, to have a ‘could be’ obstacle on your path.”

I had never thought of a massive rock in a field like this; I would have been more likely to see it as something to be removed, or something that made planting anything in it’s vicinity to be a waste of time. So then it’s ultimately all about perspective, or how to choose to see what is in front of you.

I don’t know what’s in front of you ; I don’t know what is in front of me either! But my wish for us all is that whatever ‘could be’ obstacles are in our paths, may they mysteriously ultimately turn out to be beneficial. X

2012, A Course in Miracles and Healing My Life

11 years ago, I made some choices that led to significant personal changes for me and many others. Although I couldn’t see it at the time, while the choices I made would not be the ones I made now (and I won’t beat myself up because I have the benefit of hindsight), I know that those choices were actually about me starting to own my own power, to stand up for my life, to speak up and speak out. I did this at a time when I’d say I was entirely emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. As someone who then became very independent, I understood what “self help” really was – and knew I needed it, and since that time, I’ve grown immensely as a human being. I’ve lost or significantly reduced the hardness, the judgemental black or white side of me, and the narrow mindedness that once defined me. I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way, and I’ve equally known love and kindness and grace.

At this time of the year, I normally spend time looking through my journals to find clues for my theme for next year. I don’t “do” New Year’s Resolutions for a number of reasons, mainly because I find they don’t work for me, and since 2005, I’ve had a general theme for the year. That’s really important for me as I am highly curious and get bored very easily, which is a less than totally helpful combination when it comes to focus. I find the theme helps me filter out things. Does what is presented fit with the theme? Then go for it! Otherwise, I can decide whether or not it takes my energy up or not.

So 2011 was to the year of balance and outrageous joy. I’ve already written about why I’m so thankful I chose that theme, as the year unfolded in most unexpected ways and proved to be the busiest and most challenging of my life. Without it, I’d have collapsed, exhausted. Although I know I didn’t reach this year of balance and outrageous joy, I know I kept heading in the right direction at least. I don’t need to review my journals as I did that in September on our two week retreat at our various havens, and I know that there are themes that are already appearing. Did you note that? Themes, plural…and that’s got me frustrated, because if I don’t focus on one thing, I’m not likely to hit it… but there are so many things to focus on, how do I choose. So out came my journal.

I know that above all, this theme must be MY theme. I know already that:

– it is a year I will learn to love, inspire, nurture and encourage myself
– that self care and health will be a vital priority (and on this one, I’ve bought a cheap calendar and I’m going to cross off with a big red cross every day I do 30-45 minutes exercise and eat in a way that nurtures me (with the idea that I don’t break the chain of crosses; this is the “one significant change” that will make the most difference in my life as Steven Covey suggests). I’ve also found a local yoga class (the only other time I did yoga I ended up hurting myself as I pushed myself too far) and I’m intending to limit my time on Facebook and Twitter significantly – and even more importantly, I’m going to limit the amount of new books I buy and read, and the amount of internet reading I do too….
– that it could be a year of adventures in grace and gratitude, but then I’ve already had those years (2007/2006)
– that Louise Hay’s and Heal Your Life will feature large in it
– that A Course in Miracles will feature large in it, and that as I heal others, I heal myself, and it’s time for me to accept Perfect Love..
– if I am to be authentic, then I need to update my status and my journey so if I say I’m going to the gym and then don’t go (because the car park was full, yes Geoff), I put that in too, to give the fully honest account…

I know all this because of various events and “synchronicities” that have happened since September; what’s been bugging me is the overarching theme. And today I realised why – it’s because I’m wanting it to be perfect. (Yes, Brene Brown, I’m still working on the Gifts of Imperfection and may just read your book again!) It’s that duality of wanting to grow emotionally, spiritually as a human being at the same time as knowing that I need to slow my life down and just be. Which at this point I would say is an impossible task, even though I’m very tired and continually fighting bugs of some sort. And I can be pretty confident it IS, given that every year I’ve told everyone “next year, I’m going to slow down,” or “next year, I’m going to live a quieter life.” Now, my friends just shake their heads and say, “no, Caroline, you’re not going to do that, don’t be silly!”

Then – in the way of synchroniticies- I “chance” upon a video by the Spirit Junkie who talks about the Course in Miracles and speaking your truth, and learning to be a miracle worker. And laughingly, I think, ” I could make this the year of Lessons in Miracle Working,” as this concept of how we are all here to know miracles and work miracles is something I’ve just started learning about. Then my ego steps in; this is too grand a theme, too “out there.” But I’m learning to move my ego out of the way and ask the question, “what if.” What IF this was to be my theme? And having moved ego out of the way, the inner critic steps up to the mark, and reminds me that actually, my health, and learning to love and nurture myself is actually more important than this, and really, it’s more important that I just slow myself down and BE. And then my head kicks in and I see how it may be important to slow myself down, but given the various projects I’m involved in, my long commute and busy days in my job, the meetings I attend, the time I spend on social media and emails, connecting with people and catching up with people. All of which is important to me, and none of which I can see any good reason for eliminating, so I can see no way in which I CAN slow down, even with my “48 hour days” and “time tardis” that I know enables me to do so much more than many people (which is not in any way a compliment to me but is instead evidence of me wanting to do it all, push myself to the limit, keep busy, keep moving towards perfection). I laugh and think “flip sake, it would take a miracle to get you to slow down, woman, AND it will take a miracle to keep you focussed on any health and fitness goals.”

And then I really laugh. If it would take a miracle, when why on earth would I NOT call this a year of Lessons in Miracle Working? There will be no greater miracle than this. In the process, I expect that I will learn to love and nurture myself and I will make my health and fitness a priority: these too will be miracles.

I’ve already enlisted one friend who will keep me accountable, and remind me when I’m getting off track. We’ve arranged to meet once a month to review honestly how we are doing. I have three other friends who will do the same once I ask them, my guardian angel-friends. I’m going to need their input; and I’m going to need a lot of miracles. And then I pick up my new “I can do it 2012 calendar” to get it ready for Sunday… and read the introduction, which says…

Last year had many restrictions, and it took hard work and diligence to build the foundations you desired. This year you will find much more freedom. Welcoming change will allow your boundaries to expand. Let the old ideas go, and do something different or unusual. Always remember that Life loves you and will support you in all your endeavours.” Louise Hay

Time to let the old ideas go.