John is probably my favourite spiritual author – but it wasn’t until I slowed my life down that I could appreciate the beauty of his language and wisdom. May you be blessed.
May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
~ John O’Donohue
Why make much of a miracle
WHY! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water, 5
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon, 10
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best—mechanics, boatmen, farmers, 15
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial, 20
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring—yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle, 25
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle; 30
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships, with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
Last night I was at a housewarming where I was introduced as a life coach and when asked what I “did”, I said I help people dare to be happier. “No matter what is going on in your life, we could all be happier than we are right now; none of us is so sorted that we can’t make some changes in our lives that could make it better.”
Driving home this morning, I heard Lenny Henry talk about his “inheritance tracks” – one song he would pass on to others that he had inherited, and one song he himself would pass on. He chose “Blueberry Hill” from his dad, saying his mum had passed on her sense of humour to him. The track he chose to pass his daughter was Vide Cor Meum – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=267LBdz-ywc – from the soundtrack of the second Hannibal film, where one song made him sit up in the cinema going “what IS that music”, and he went on to say that when his mother died he played it non stop.
It got me thinking. My dad was a pipe major, and for many years I couldn’t listen to pipe bands at all, but it would be a song my mum loved called Rambling Rose that I would pass on, as it was so much a part of my childhood. Wondering what I would pass to my children, I knew it would be one I loved that reminded them to live! Two of my favourite songs are Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life, or I Hope You Dance by Leanne Womack, but as I listened to the song Lenny had chosen, I thought that while I loved these passionately, a song that touched their souls might be better. And for me, that would have to be Vivere by Gerardina Trovato & Andrea Bocelli.
I have never ever heard that song sung in English, and never thought to translate it as I don’t speak a word of Italian apart from Ciao. I had no idea what it meant, just loved the music – and that’s really unusual for me, as it’s nearly always the music AND the lyrics that matter to me. I thought I would come home and google the meaning but got sidetracked by something I needed to do. I went and got all my old journals, ripped the backs of them, and burned them all. All of them, going back to 2006 when I last did this. I knew it was time for me to move on, and yes there will be much wisdom in there, but there is a lot of pain too, and it was time to let that all go. I took photos this time as the pages curled and words stayed clear like “Making waves.” Then I went into my haven/office, searched for the translation, and promptly burst into tears at the miracle of timing – for this is what that song says:
Try looking at tomorrow, not yesterday,
and all the things you left
all those tender words you did not say
the gentle touch you
In these days of nameless faces
there’s no one truth, but
my life is all I have to give
Dare to live! Until the very
Dare to live! Forget about the past
Dare to live!
of yourself to others
Even when it seems there is
nothing more left to
But if you saw on your doorstep
the man who sleeps in
if you were to listen to the world
one morning without
the noise of the rain,
you, who can create with your voice,
you think the
thoughts of the people, then, about God, there is only one God.
has ever taught us how to live,
to live is not possible without the
to live is beautiful even though you
never asked for it;
will be a song
and someone to sing it.
Dare to live!
that one true love
Why, why, why, why
do you not live tonight?
You know what I’m talking of
Why. why, why, why
do you not live
Dare to live!
Until the very last
Why, why, why?
Life is not
Your life is all you have to give
Because you did not live it.
Dare to live!
Until the very last
Why, why, why?
Life is not
Your life is all you have to give
Because you never lived it.
will say no
I will say yes
Say dare to live!
Dare to live!
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 – http://www.cherylrichardson.com/wp-content/themes/crichardson/TwinkleStars_content.html) 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…
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…
Leaving 2011 behind
I’m loving what people are affirming their intentions for 2012 will be… and there is a pattern there that I don’t remember seeing before. It’s as if many know that external changes are desired, but the ultimate aim is to change internally in some way, to expect more from their lives or appreciate what they already have, or to grow in some way. 2011 is a year that many are glad to leave behind. It gave opportunities for growth, it allowed others to accept “what is,” and yet others suffered the loss of loved ones or dealt with serious illness or dis-ease they never anticipated, and had they thought about it in advance, would have known they could not have coped. Yet they all have survived, albeit changed.
Lessons learned & learning to let go
Who knows what the next year will bring? Since there is so much that is beyond our control, all we can do at the start of a year is set our intent, and ask that what happens is for our highest good. I’ve had a most unusual year that I could never have foreseen this time last year. It’s a year when I’ve made many mistakes, learned a lot of lessons about time. Energy, trust, expectations and assumptions, and made a lot of new friends, (and probably enemies). It’s also been a year when slowly, I’ve started to let go of things (including pride and my need to do everything myself) and people,( including those who wished to go of their own free will and those who just left without saying anything). In the past, those who left or distanced themselves from me would have left me feeling dejected and rejected, but it’s testament to how I’m changing that I’ve allowed them to go -and asked that the Universe blesses them with love and joy, strength and peace as the go. In itself, this is a miracle for me.
Miracles R Us
Since I blogged on my intention for 2012, I’ve had a lot of questions about what a miracle is, and why I think I should see these – and frankly, I’ve no real idea, except that I’ve been drawn to this book many times and found it by a wonderful “accident” when on holidays. I may study it and at the end know it’s not for me, but I start reading it with an open mind – and what IT says is that it doesn’t matter who or what you are, miracles are for you. It doesn’t matter what your past or background is, just know that they “undo the past in the present, and thus release the future.” And franky, I’m up for that.
Passport at the ready
At this point, I’d say a miracle would be something that is way beyond what I could expect from natural laws, and indeed it might even be what others call grace, or others may call serendipity. The Course in Miracles seems to have many definitions that I’ll be exploring for myself, and I expect it will be quite a journey internally and externally.
And I will be exploring for myself. I have a wide range of friends with various beliefs or “no” beliefs and I can see that a few of them do not help in living on a daily basis. I know some who believe strongly in God who are deeply unhappy but appear jolly, and I know some who have no belief in God and who on the surface appear to have it all together, yet are also deeply unhappy and live lives that are so much less than they long for. They are also those who think a focus on keeping your attitude positive is a waste of time, which I found to be quite interesting… I start with a belief in a higher power, that is outside of us all and has positive intent for my life, and who is actually interested in me as an individual human being. In that respect, I’m with Einstein, who said we should see the Universe as a friendly place, and that’s as good a view to take as any, given how the Reticular Activating System works.
Walking in truth
Once upon a time, I knew the truth, and that was the truth, the whole truth – and the only truth. I fought hard to defend that truth from attack, and I lived from a place that knew that mine was the right truth, but now I know differently. Not only do I have quite different beliefs about absolutism and fundamentalism, I know that my responsibility is simply to find MY truth and live it and breathe it. It’s none of my nosy business what others do. It is not for me to judge your walk against mine, or compare your beliefs with mine except to see which “fit” me. Indeed, I do not have the time to judge or compare, if I am to concentrate on my walk and be open to my own soul lessons! Instead, knowing I have no right to meddle or interfere, I respect your right to walk in your truth, to learn your own lessons, to hear the voices you need to hear for the growth of your soul. My only responsibility is to me; – and believe me when I say that this attitude is a miraculous change.
New Year’s Eve Silence
Today is New Year’s Eve (called Hogmanay in Scotland), and I have much to do to get the house ready for our guests and for tomorrow and next week. I know that many are doing a massive house clean and tidy to “sweep out the old,” a great metaphor of what we want for our lives. I’m not doing that, as I’m still not feeling that well, which at least reminds me that self-care and health are indeed to be a priority, but the girls have helped me do the essentials. Normally, I would push myself on through it, but since I can’t shift what I’ve now had nearly continuously from September, I didn’t – and didn’t feel guilty because I knew I needed to take the time to heal. And to be silent with my journal – and what I read was about immersing oneself in the immense silence to find God, the Divine, the Universe within in order to catch fire. I haven’t started thinking about what that might mean….
Silence is a rare thing these days across the world, and a rare thing for me, given I fill my time up with people, social media, words, music, news, facts and anything that I believed would help me to grow and continuously improve. But in leaving little space to breathe, this greediness for growth and knowing more meant that there was all-ways noise. In being a multi-tasker instead of a mono-tasker, perhaps all I’ve really done is pick up little bits of lots of things and hold on to these, when little of it is of value to others, or to my soul. In the noise, I cannot hear my heart speak. So 2012 means it’s time to instead be greedy for silence and to now absorb what I all-ready know, and to focus on less instead of more. And in the silence, I will hear, and in the hearing, learn to move from fear to love.
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.