A blessing for one who is exhausted
When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.
Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.
The ride you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.
You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight
Taking time to open the well of colour
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
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…
A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. Gertrude Jekyll
For anyone to nurture themselves, boundaries must be set. This is an area I’ve struggled with over the years, though I’m getting better with it – and I accept responsibility for my actions beforehand in not setting boundaries, or not moving quickly enough when any boundaries I DID set were ignored. One of my team and I have been working at helping each other in this area, having had similar struggles. Diane took over an allotment, is journaling and recording her way through that adventure and all the lessons she learned – and one of the lessons that keeps coming up for her is the importance of boundaries. Part of this is about protection. She wrote to me:
“What I have discovered over the last few weeks with thelifeallotment is the need for protection. Interpret this in whatever way you feel may be relevant to you. I had hoped that I could just plant my seeds and let them grow and enjoy the fruits of my labour – ha! Oh no. There are a few things to be aware of.
First of all, there were the birds who hovered and took the seeds before they even got to take root. Secondly, there were the pests who ate at the roots as they started to grow and ones who went for the seedlings as they started to shoot. Thirdly there were the rabbits, if the boundaries aren’t there in the first place to keep them out, they get to wait until things are really starting to grow then they take the bits they want and leave the rest – oh and the slugs will take the bits they leave. It’s very hard to keep the slugs away no matter what boundaries are in place! Lastly there are the birds who will wait patiently until the first day they catch sight of the freshly, ripened fruit and take it before you get to enjoy it.
It’s not that all these things wouldn’t have been given away to people around me in the end once they had grown. I wouldn’t have kept it all for me. I would have shared it all. But I didn’t get the chance to watch it grow and enjoy it and make the choices for myself. The choice was taken from me because I didn’t have enough boundaries in place and I didn’t put enough protection in place to reap the fruits of the seeds i had sown and all my planning and hard work – physical and mental.
This is how i see these lessons relating to your current plans. There are going to be people who are going to be the birds, pests, rabbits and slugs. Either trying to put you off before the project even begins or gnaw away at what you are doing as it starts. There will be others though who will enjoy and use, for their own benefits, all the good stuff you put out there and, as it grows further, and without the proper boundaries, keep coming back for more and those who will just wait for the right bits, take them and fly. I know that you are a very giving person, Caroline, but I also know that you have put a lot of work into everything you have done and have dreams and plans and needs for yourself too. Take care that you have the right boundaries and protection in place so that you get what YOU need from this project physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. As you said, you find balance and nurturing yourself difficult. It’s ‘Project Me’ not ‘Project You’. That’s not being selfish – that’s just laying down some protection”.
Among other things, I wrote back to her saying:
Strange the need for protection; when I’d just written that I’ve protected my heart by forgetting my body, or by hiding my heart with my body perhaps… we do need protection for we fight a spiritual fight on many levels, which we can forget…and it is a key part of nurturing, protecting our body, our minds and spirits, our energy too… funny too, how you speak of boundaries, and how we need these, but they might change as the allotment takes root and grows.. Mind you, I was rather depressed, thinking you either have to see all these predators as being fed by you, and you helping them, or gardening as a total waste of time 😉 and it’s not so good when the choices are taken away from you about all of this, except if the lesson learned will benefit you in the long run? But I hadn’t thought about this in context of boundaries either…. and I will have to consider this more deeply, as something makes me feel this is an issue, as I’ve started to set different boundaries with certain people at work as a start, and perhaps some at home too… hhhm… thank you for being part of team Caroline! Can’t wait to see you and catch up; we need the encouragers in our life, & even when we don’t feel like encouraging, we do, as well as getting comfort at the same time…. giving and getting, all at the same time. xx
And just as I needed time to reflect on what she had shared with me, and time to process the learnings, it seems that this was exactly what she was doing too. Such is the value of these special relationships in my life; we simply help and encourage each other. Diane wrote back with some further insight, which I love….
The insects, birds, pests & rabbits aren’t people – they are the lessons we have to learn. The challenges we face. The hurdles we have to climb….for our own personal growth and development 😉 Make sense? I started out wanting to make sure all my boundaries (fence etc) were in place before starting to sow the seeds then, because time was moving on and the timing for the seeds being planted was making me feel under pressure, as was the fact that most other people’s allotments were looking great and progressing and looking healthy and growing. They were also giving me some of THEIR seedlings, plants and extra seeds they were giving away. I felt I HAD to go ahead and sow/plant them. But this is now the result. Not through ANYONE else’s fault (they were just being so kind, generous, considerate and helpful) – just completely my own. I should have just gone with my OWN instinct.
See the thing is, I don’t need anyone to tell me what boundaries to set – I already know them, at an instinctive intuitive level. All I need to do is see my life as a garden and instead of sitting in a deckchair planning how it will look, or what I will do, to just get out and do it. A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust, said Gertrude Jekyll – and it teaches a whole lot more than that.
The law of twice. If within a short period of time you get the same message, listen. Even if it comes from different sources or in different ways. So two people mention an unusual book? Perhaps it’s time to read it. One person mentions a new idea to you and you turn on the TV and there’s a programme on that exact thing. Over time, I’ve learned to be curious about this aspect of life.
I sometimes use Cheryl Richardson’s Grace App. I love the pictures and I love the gentle loveliness of each card. 50 cards and randomness mean the chances of you getting repeat cards are very low – but it happens. Particularly if you are not listening. The day I thought about this Project Me being a sort of pilgrimage I pulled a card. Haven’t done that in a while. It said Surrender. “Surrender is the key to open the door of grace.”
Hhhhm, I thought. Didn’t expect that one. Why do I need to surrender? What do I need to surrender? I don’t like the idea of surrender. It means I have to give up control – and as a recovering perfectionist, that’s an alien concept. So I dismissed it. I do that when I don’t like an idea 😉
But it seems to be something I must consider more deeply, as I read this today again, “by accident,”:
Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you sit.
You’ve been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender. ~ Rumi
You’ve been stony for too many years. Does this refer to my failure to nurture and care for myself? Things are getting shaken up – yet isn’t that necessary if things are to grow? My two favourite flowers are bluebells and snowdrops and last week in Inveraray we came across a fairy foxglove growing on the walls. What is more beautiful than a wildflower?
Try something different.
Move, and the way will open.”
– Author Unknown
I really love my Team Caroline. They have my best interests in heart and love me as I am while helping me be all I can be. They are also courageous enough to hold me accountable and to ask the right questions, as well as being wise enough to trust their gut and intuition and ask the questions they know need asked.
Over the past few years I’ve seen that questions are such a powerful tool for effecting change. They force you to go inside and weigh up what you really feel, or you get the instinctive answer that’s got real truth behind it. So one of my team Caroline (Coach & trainer Jane Talbot) read one of the posts and responded – almost immediately – with a whole raft of questions about two weeks ago. And there they sat. I knew they were good questions. I knew I needed to answer them – but knowing isn’t doing. I avoided them. Then late last week I remembered that “what you resist, persists” – and also remembered that my pattern is to avoid what is sometimes better for my soul.
So I sat with my journal and explored them. Sometimes I had to ask myself sub questions to get a “yes” or “no” response to check that it was a real answer for me. I realised I do know what nurturing means to me and I know how to do it. It means being grateful, nurturing myself with the food I eat and the amount of sleep I get. It means time spent with dear friends and time spent with soul friends.
And the most important thing I learned? That nourishment is balance, the dance of balancing body, mind and spirit. In the past ten years in particular, I’ve nourished my mind through hundreds if not thousands of books on a huge variety of subjects. Over the past three or so years I’ve begun to nourish my spirit and soul again, finding spiritual community and a new way of believing in God and a Universal power that is loving and greater than me. But I’ve failed to nourish my body. I’ve pushed it too far and got many sports injuries do I gave up. I’ve eaten unhealthy foods and too much of anything. What I realised above all is that I don’t nourish my body – which is meant to move – by just sitting too much!
I sit all day at work. I sit in the car or train. I sit down after dinner. I sit to journal. I sit to catch up on Facebook, Twitter, emails. And I’ve been sitting down to watch TV, and even when I catch up with friends over coffee or dinner. This is WAY out of balance! So much of what nourishes me and gives me energy was actually about moving! It was walking by the sea, cycling in the country, hill-walking, gardening, dancing or even cooking soul food!
Movement; this is a message for me with many layers. Being stuck AND chaos bring movement at a deep level. And things are changing. I WANT to walk, I WANT to cycle – and ..I’m feeling good! I get what Mary Whitehouse said when she said, “ I came to see that movement is one of the great laws of life. It is the primary medium of our aliveness, the flow of energy going on in us like a river all the time, awake or asleep, twenty-four hours a day. Our movement is our behaviour; there is a direct connection between what we are like and how we move…”
If you want to try Jane’s questions, here they are:
How To Nurture Yourself
What makes YOU feel good?
What makes you feel alive?
What gives you energy rather than takes it away?
What makes you feel YOU?
What feels effortless?
When, where and with whom are you most content?
What’s present when you are not feeling nurtured (that’s usually missing?)
And what’s missing that’s usually present?
How would you know that you are nurturing yourself?
What is feeling nurtured / self-nurture like?
© Jane Talbot
Helen Nearing in Loving and Leaving the Good Life gives these suggestions for nurturing yourself so you live less stressfully. I read this earlier today and thought what a lovely, gentle way to live…..
Do the best you can, whatever arises
Be at peace with yourself
Find a job you enjoy
Live in simple conditions; housing, food, clothing – get rid of clutter
Contact nature every day; feel the earth under your feet
Take physical exercise through hard work; through gardening or walking
Don’t worry; live one day at a time
Share something every day with someone else; if you live alone, write someone, give something away, help someone else somehow
Take time to wonder at life and the world; see some humour in life where you can
Choose the one life in all things
Be kind to the creatures
When I started this project I intended to post something every day. I knew I’d learn something about nurturing myself every day, so it shouldn’t be that hard – but the lessons this week have come so fast, I couldn’t quite catch my breath. It’s been one of those weeks, or times in your life, where your life pivots. There have been lots of changes, so I can change… and there’s been a bit of chaos thrown in for good measure.
I met one of Team Caroline yesterday, and was reminded that even Pollyanna went through times when she couldn’t play the Glad Game. I’ve been so out of sorts this week – grumpy, feeling down, unsettled, and feeling less than totally positive, and not able to encourage myself to be happier, let alone anyone else. It’s been tough at work, as my colleagues – who really really need their holidays – have started to take them, and that inevitablly makes things harder for the rest of us. While on one level we know can only do what we can do, the fact is that I work with the best bunch of committed, conscientious professional people who push themselves hard, and it can be hard for all of us to remember that, and not feel tremendous external as well as internal pressure. So put this together with everything else that was going on this week, and I know I can actually cut myself some slack here – because strange things were happening.
In the house, I set the grill on fire by forgetting about it – had I left the house, it would have burned the place down. I had left the hob burning a day or so before. And as I was in such bad form, I just went to bed early – forgetting I had put a ham on to cook! I’m luckily surrounded by others who were looking out for us when I wasn’t. And that phrase is significant….as it was as if I started looking after me, and took my eye off everyone else. Or that I was somehow sabotaging what I had set out to do, or that I was being reminded to remember things. Hhhm…
My next day wasn’t much better; and for me, that’s a BAD THING. I tend to be pretty stable in my moods, I’m naturally optomistic, and to stay in this place wasn’t a nice feeling at all. I know I can change my thoughts. I know I am responsible for my moods, for my own happiness. I know to be grateful in the dark times. But again – knowing isn’t doing.
And here’s what I wrote in my journal on the day things started to change again:
” What is the difference? I’ve lost count of what day I’m meant to be at – but in the past six days, I’ve had no way to centre myself… I’ve been too busy to journal. Which isn’t actually true. I HAVEN’T journalled – and that is quite a different thing, and my life and my relationships suffered as a result.”
Things weren’t to get easier, oh no! But at least I was unstuck, could start playing the Glad Game again – and find many things to be grateful for – and learn some really important things about money, stories, friends, questions, balance and movement, which I’m going to share in different posts over the next few days.
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.