Friday, 30 January 2015

Broken, But Not Forever…

The human spirit is incredibly powerful.

But the ways in which we behave can test that spirit beyond belief.

If you've read my last blog Life Sentence, you'll know that when I was 18 I was in car accident that left my best friend dead, and my boyfriend in a coma. And you'll have read that I made a choice to break up with my boyfriend because his family had made it very clear that they didn't want me around while he was still so fragile.

But a friend asked me this week; "Why would anyone ostracise the girlfriend of their son when they would have known she (me) was obviously grieving?"

Well, there's a whole bunch of reasons why, and I'm about to tell you what they could have been.

Now, obviously I don't have access to another person's mind, so what I'm about to tell you is simply speculation. I've had a long time to think about all the why's and what for's of the accident and I have spent a lot of time doing just that. So when it comes to understanding what his parents were going through, even though there's no way I could possibly know for sure, the one thing that makes me feel authorised to share what I'm about to say is that I have no bad feelings towards them whatsoever.

Literally none.

But of course, that wasn't always the case…

As I drove away from S's house after breaking up with him, I cried a river. But like I said in my last blog, I also felt relieved. Somehow I had just set us both free. Well, maybe not him in the immediate sense because he would now probably go through a grieving period of not having a girlfriend, but looking at it through a big picture lens, his family would now be able to parent him in the way they saw best.

When I got home that night I stumbled through the door into the hallway of my parents' house and immediately broke down. Remember, I had already been signed off work for having a nervous breakdown and I was still a complete and utter mess. My parents were distraught at how upset I was. I told them I just had broken up with S because his parents were treating me so badly and I couldn't take it anymore.

Prior to the accident it wouldn't have been very often that even my parents would have seen me cry, so having them witness me in floods of tears must have twisted their hearts like a knife.

They knew how much I was hurting from losing my friend and from essentially losing my boyfriend. And even though we never talked about the accident (my family don't necessarily speak their love, they show it in other ways), they could see how broken I was.

It was too much.

As the three of us (my mum, my dad and I) stood in the hallway, with me still sobbing uncontrollably, my dad picked up the phone and called S's parents. The poor man was torn apart seeing me so heartbroken and he very lovingly tried to relay his thoughts over the phone. I remember him telling them that every night he saw me coming home and bursting into tears. That whatever it was they were saying or doing to me was not on. He wasn't yelling or shouting, but he was firmly telling them that he wasn't happy with the way they had been treating me.

Thank you Dad.

I don't know what was said on the other end of the line and I don't recall much more than what I've just told you, but the phone conversation ended and I felt loved and supported by my parents. My dad had just said what I wasn't able to say and I was glad that he had been able to articulate some of my pain to them.

I hated them.

But that's still telling my side of the story, and it's not explaining why they would have been so "mean" to me.

It took me a long time, but once I had processed most of my own grief and had managed to move from victim to warrior, I began to imagine what it must have been like from their perspective.

I considered: what must it feel like to be the parent of an 19-year-old son who was driving a car with two passengers, one of whom is no longer alive?

That's pretty full on, I thought.

That would be terrifying, I thought.

Especially when you consider Maybe your son was the cause of that accident? Maybe he did something that caused those two vehicles to wind up in a head on collision? And maybe he will be charged with manslaughter or whatever legal term there is for causing the death of another person because you misjudged a situation while in control of a car?

Hmm, things started to look a little different…

The more I thought about it, the more their situation became "clear" to me. I use inverted commas here because like I said, this is still only my version of how it could have been for them.

But the fact is: they have a son in a coma. The fact is that a passenger of his vehicle is dead. The fact is they are legally not allowed to contact the parents of D until the inquest, which at this point hasn't had a date set. The fact is, they are not even allowed to attend Ds funeral.

They didn't know D or her parents, but put yourself in their place: I imagine they would have wanted to show their respects. I imagine they were terrified that their son might be charged with the death of my friend. And I can only imagine how utterly distressing all of that must have been, especially when they are having to visit their son – who's in a coma – and that they have no way of knowing whether he'll ever come good again.



When I started to look at it like that, it became somewhat easier to understand where they might have been coming from when (once S had come out of his coma) they told me they didn't want their son to know what had happened. And that I was under no circumstances to mention the accident to him.

I'm guessing they didn't want me to influence their son's thoughts about what had happened. And I'm guessing that at that point, I was the biggest threat to that situation. What if I told him something that he then repeated that would incriminate him? Having me around must have felt quite dangerous to them. They wanted to protect their son (what parent wouldn't?), and if I were to say something to him that might make him remember the accident, or believe that he was responsible for the death of D, then there was a chance that by the time the date was set for the inquest, their son might be charged with manslaughter.

I don't think you need me to point anything out here, right?

So, all that aside, yes, they were pretty mean to me, and at the time I thought they were horrible for doing what they did and was glad I never had to see them again. I wasn't glad I would never get to see S again, but I had made that choice and it felt right.

But today, 25 years later, I have nothing but compassion for those people. I have completely turned around any venomous thoughts I had for them, and can see that all they were doing was protecting their son the best way they knew how.

Granted, it wasn't particularly sophisticated or compassionate (towards me), but I think it's fair to say they were in an extremely stressful situation. And when any of us are under stress, particularly as immense as this would have been, we tend to make "interesting" decisions.

When your entire world has just turned upside down and the outcome is at best unclear, and at worst could be called your greatest nightmare (your son, who comes out of a coma gets locked up for causing death by driving), well, it's a lot easier to accept that being less-than-kind to your son's girlfriend isn't necessarily top of your priority list.

Really, I get it.

I mean, I don't know the real story here. So like I keep saying, this is pure speculation on my part. But it kinda adds up doesn't it? Whether the details of what I've surmised about what they were thinking are true, and even if they had always hated me and just wanted me out of the picture (which is another possibility), I can totally see that what they were doing came from a love for their son. And I'm confident that in the cold light of day, once their own grief and stress about the situation had diminished, that they would never choose to be unkind to me.

They were simply human beings dealing with an horrendously difficult situation.

And I am totally OK with that.

Because I make mistakes too.

And, I don't know how I would have responded under their circumstance.

Of course, there is still so much more to this story. Like, what happened at the inquest? What was the outcome? Did S get charged? Was it his fault?

I'm ready to tell the whole story and I will do that. But for now, I just wanted to get clear on the fact that I hold no hard feelings toward S or his family. And that's why I can comfortably write this blog.

I have nothing to hide.

Forgiveness has provided me with an incredible freedom to tell this story. A story that is etched deep into my cells. And a story that I hope will help other people see that even when life seems hard, unfair or downright f*cked, that if you find the right lens, it's always possible to see some light. That underneath even the darkest, most traumatic experiences of our lives, there is always a star shining a beam of love.

And if you keep searching, I promise you, you'll find it.

Choose love x

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Life Sentence

So, having exposed in my last blog: Defining Moments that I survived a car crash 25 years ago, I'm slowly becoming ready to reveal some more about that time…

Like I said, the incident that occurred (the death of my friend and the head injuries suffered by my boyfriend), branched out and touched many people's lives. At D's funeral, the church was packed to the brim.

She was 18. Too young to die.

A part of me died that day too, but a bigger part of me began to grow and has continued to grow ever since. One of the lesser-discussed aspects of accidental death (or any death) is the outward ripple effect that causes the people left behind to act in "strange" ways. I say strange in inverted commas because when it comes to stress and trauma, I don't believe there's any such thing as normal.

And I'd know…

The person I am today is not who I was 25 years ago. I'm sure you can all relate. Thoughts, actions and behaviours at the age of 18 are guaranteed to evolve by the time you're 43. But our essence often remains the same. At my core I would describe myself as having a childlike spirit and being hyper-capable. I'm an eternal optimist. I see life as a playground and it takes a lot to throw me off course, but when I do "lose it", I lose it big time.

Doing things by halves has never been my style. I'm not one of those "I'll just have one square of chocolate, thanks" kind of people. I smash the whole bar, no matter how big. Same goes for life. Whatever I choose to do, I put everything into it. Exercise, work, friendships… It's all the same to me.

I live my life at 100% all the time. That's not to say I do a lot of stuff. I don't. I'm essentially an introvert who likes to do one thing a day max, but whatever that thing is, I do it wholly and completely to the best of my ability. And that includes being in love.

Or at least, it did, once upon a time.

Which is what this blog is about. My first love. Who I walked out on after we'd been in a terrible car accident.

Here's my story…

S and I had been dating since I was 16, so by the time the accident happened we'd been together almost 2 years. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd only dated guys for 2 weeks at the most before I met someone who I fell in love with. He was a great guy and we got along like cheese and crackers.

As with first loves, you share an incredibly strong bond. You're both learning; neither one has baggage yet, and love flows freely and easily. I loved S in the way any teenager loves their first: wholly and completely. He was my world. We did everything together. Life was great.

After the accident, S was in a coma for a number of weeks. You can imagine how distressing that was, adding to the fact that my best friend was no longer alive, it was a difficult time for me. I felt like the only one who knew what had happened (later, during the inquest, I was the only witness). I felt like a lone survivor – who had walked away from a horrific scene with barely a scratch. (There's actually a reason I managed to remain unscathed but I'll save that for another blog. It's a long story…)

While S was in hospital I visited him religiously. I'd drive to the hospital before work, back again at lunch time and then, after zipping home for something to eat, I'd be back until visiting time was over. I loved him and wanted to be there with him.

Tensions were high among those of us still alive and well. D's parents were absolutely distraught and S's parents were doing everything they could to be there for their son. Which, when someone is in a coma isn't easy. How does anyone know what to do? None of us had ever been in that situation before. So, understandably it was a tough time for everyone involved.

Lots of incidents happened while S was in hospital and all of them had a huge impact on me. I learned a lot about life, sickness, health and healing, people's response to trauma, and mostly about who I was during that time.

Turns out I'm not the most conventional when it comes to coping.

Coping is a very personal thing. We all do it differently. Some people falter, some weep, some avoid, some deny or minimise. To list all the ways would take a whole blog. Me? I cope by coping. I become extremely practical, get things done, make sure everything is running smoothly, I observe and listen. And then, when I get behind closed doors I fall into a massive heap and sob uncontrollably. Or scream. Or both.

From the outside looking in, it can seem to anyone involved that nothing phases me. I'm one of those people who always seems to have my sh*t together. But that's because for most of my life I would cope impeccably in public and only indulge my vulnerability when I was alone. I'm sure some of my oldest friends have never seen me cry. (I've since changed and can openly cry these days…)

Like anything, that old coping mechanism has pros and cons. The down side is that sometimes it can appear (to people who don't know me) that I'm doing OK. Or that I am cold. How can she still be functioning? I never see her cry. She obviously doesn't care.

Unfortunately for me, that's how my boyfriend's parents perceived me.

On one occasion, S's mum actually tapped the metal railing on her son's hospital bed and venomously said to me "You're as hard as that, you are."

Hard as steel.

Maybe on the outside, but little did she know that inside I was dying.

Over time, S's health improved, and after a couple of months he emerged from his coma and was allowed home. And that's when the cracks really started to show. S was now in a healing phase, still very unsteady, and by his own admission had a "fuzzy head" but he was definitely on a path to recovery. Thank. God.

His parents had firmly told me that they didn't want S to know what had happened. That I was not to mention the accident. I didn't agree with their thinking, but being 18 and wanting to be loyal to their wishes, I conceded. We weren't even allowed to walk to the shops unaccompanied. I'm guessing that was incase I spoke of the accident… but who knows.

Either way, keeping their wish became the hardest thing I ever had to do.

As S continued to get better, he and I would spend time in his room chatting and hanging out. He was a shadow of his former self, and by no means the boy I had known prior to 8 December, but nonetheless, he was my boyfriend and I loved him.

On two occasions he asked me if I'd seen D. She's dead, I would think to myself. I'll never see her again. But I had his parents' wish to honour and so both times I said "No, I haven't seen her."

At least I didn't have to lie.

Thankfully and remarkably, S continued to improve, and his head injuries, obviously healing, enabled him to speak and think a little more clearly.

That's when the clanger came.

"My mum said you only visit me because you feel like you have to."

[silence]

Wow

I don't recall what my response to that was, but knowing me at the time I'm pretty certain I would have told him that I was definitely there because I wanted to be. Because that was the truth.

During this period (about 3 months after the accident), I had a nervous breakdown. One day while I was at work I had a sensation that was like being in a Hitchcock movie – the foreground panned out as the background closed in. I didn't know where I was. I burst into tears and had to be taken home.

I had finally "lost it".

No denying, I was a complete mess. From the outside I'd been "coping" but all the while I was dying inside. Knowing that my boyfriend's parents wanted me out of the picture hurt me to the core. I had nothing but love for their son, and they seemed to be doing everything to keep me away from him.

It killed me.

I was promptly signed off work for a week.

But, far from being able to rest and seek help, I had a contract with S's parents to keep. He wasn't to know anything was wrong. (I didn't even tell his parents about my breakdown. I felt they didn't trust me so what would they care how I was doing.) Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but at the time, I was 18 and was doing the best I knew how with the resources I had back then.

So, as per usual, while being unable to work because I was a total mess, I would get into my work clothes and drive to see him, morning, noon and night so as to keep up the facade. In hindsight, I can see this wasn't the most useful move, but again, I was 18 and didn't know how else to deal with the situation.

As you can imagine, it wasn't long before even bigger cracks began to appear.

I no longer recall the timeframe between this happening and my walking away but I'm guessing it was a matter of weeks. Knowing that S's mum was feeding him negative information about me, when all the while I was keeping her wish, became more than I could handle.

I recognised that his family needed to heal in whatever way they saw best. Which definitely didn't include me.

So I made a choice. I walked away from the man I loved more than anything. From my first love whose bedside I had been at morning, noon and night. But who I could no longer be around because it was breaking up his family. They wanted shot of me.

I still remember the day I went round to his house and broke the news: that I was no longer able to be his girlfriend. I was broken but relieved. As I drove away, filled with tears and completely torn between doing what I felt was the "right" thing and what I wanted to do (which was stay), I decided I would live with my decision and get on with my own healing.

That task has taken 25 years.

On the recent anniversary of the car crash, I had a sense that something inside me was shifting. I meditated on it and became clear that my "abandoning" S was something I had paid a price for. On some level I realised that I had unconsciously made a pact with myself that I would serve a Life Sentence for that deed. I walked away because I thought it was the best thing for S and his healing journey (I still do believe that). But the consequence would be that I would not allow myself to fully love another man until I had served my time.

Unbeknown to me at the time, the sentence I imposed was 25 years.

But now I'm free. My karmic debt has been paid and I feel different. I know now that I am once again free to love whoever I choose. Wholly and deeply, just like the love I had for S all those years ago.

And if that isn't in keeping with my 2015 theme of miracles, I don't know what is.

Choose love x


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Defining Moments

Defining moments are a universal experience – we’ve all had them: the first day of school, the day you lose your virginity, graduation day, finding your first grey hair etc. Not all of those will apply to all of us, but you know what I mean.

There are certain events that occur in life that we remember. Vividly. Some of those events stay with us forever: usually, it’s the highly emotional ones. Because emotions make feelings stronger – they heighten your experience. A dull day becomes a technicolour memory whenever high levels of emotion are involved.

It’s easy to get caught up in the emotional side of things which is why I want to talk about my most vivid defining moment. It happened 25 years ago…

There we were, driving on a cold December night on our way to collect my friend D who would be coming out with us to the Angel pub for some pre-Christmas jolliment. We weren’t going to drive to the pub – drink driving wasn’t our style. No, we (S, my boyfriend, and I) were collecting D, heading back to my house 5 minutes away, and then my mum was going to drop us at the Angel and head out with my dad for their Friday night at a workman’s club.

Only things didn’t quite pan out that way.

S, D and I never made it back to my house that night. What happened instead was horrific and I’ll never forget it. Talk about defining moments. This is still my biggest and most vivid.

I still remember what D and I were talking about the split second before I looked out the windscreen and saw a truck heading towards us. “Watch out for that lorry,” I said.

And then everything went black.

The taste of that moment still haunts me, in the sense that I can still clearly recollect it. Whenever I hear two cars collide, no matter how big or small the ding, I get that taste, the metallic taste of blood and broken glass. For me, that sound is a multi-sensory experience: I taste the sound. That’s what heightened emotions can do to you.

I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess that the criss-cross of sensory input occurs for many (if not all) of us when we experience a defining moment. And the more heightened the experience, the more the crossover occurs. For example, I’d bet that for most people their wedding day or the birth of their first child is one of those times. A time when everything is happening at once and, to put it bluntly, a time when you don’t know if you’re going for a shit or a haircut. Everything is crystal clear and a blur all at the same time.

So, that night, 8 December, 1989 is my most vivid. The crash occurred in a fractured moment, but that entire day is still so clear to me. Not to mention the ensuing months, although they have become somewhat foggier over time.

But why am telling you all this?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, other than having reached the 25-year mark and because I feel a sense of reaching a new moment. One that I can choose to define rather than have etched into my cells simply through happenstance.

A story such as this has many arms that branch out in a vast array of directions. But I’m not going to go into any more details just now.

However, I do feel a great urge to tell my story. Not just this one, but many of my life’s moments. And not because I love talking about myself but because it helps me understand who I am when I write things down. And I enjoy phrasing my feelings in a way that other people seem to relate to and benefit from.

When I started this blog I had no idea where it was going. I played around with a few ideas and my writing took a few twists and turns that I enjoyed observing as much as partaking in.

I tried writing about life coaching but I gotta tell you, that idea ran out of steam pretty quick. I can’t make it about anything other than the simple events of my life.

The experience of having my entire world pulled from under me at the age of 18 was by far the worst and the best thing that has ever happened to me. That defining night laid a foundation for the person I am today. It gave me an opportunity to know how strong I am. It gave me a platform on which I can lay every other experience and know that it will never come close to being in the accident and emergency ward, knowing my best friend is no longer alive and that my boyfriend is in a coma. My best friend D did not survive the crash and my first love was in a coma for a number of weeks.

That moment and the moments, days and months that followed, gave me the greatest gift I could ever ask for: knowing that life is a miracle.

If ever I need to look for an answer as to why something is happening or if I find myself wondering will this work out ok? All I have to do is remember that night 25 years ago when I was given a second chance at life. Because as soon as I recall the miracle that is my life, I know that whatever happens today doesn’t matter. Not in the sense that it is insignificant, but because life is life and ultimately I have no control over it. Just like I have no control over whether you like this blog or not: and that doesn’t matter either.

I write because I love to write. And I write about my personal experiences because that feels right to me. And easy. And fun.

Even when I’m writing about the most traumatic night of my life.

One day I will write about the details of that night and all the events that followed, because they are incredibly interesting and shine a light on human behaviour: the good, the warped and the ugly.

But for now, I just needed to give myself permission to do what I love: to write for the pure reason that it feels good.

I’m theming 2015 the year of miracles, which seems fitting to me. What theme will you give your year? What vibe will you choose?  Whatever it is, I invite you to make this year one that is filled with defining moments of your choice. Make this a year that really means something to you. Choose uplifting emotions and really focus on the good stuff. Bad stuff is OK – shit happens – and defining moments don't have to start out joyful, but it is possible to make every moment meaningful in a useful and worthy way. No matter how bad they seem at the time.

If you can, I really encourage you to spend some time considering how you’d most like to feel during 2015. I'm focusing on seeing miracles so I'm going to heighten those feelings and emotions even when nothing's happening. Maybe you can do the same with your theme?

Because, ultimately, we never know if this moment might be our last.


With love x


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Playing My Cards Right

Ever wondered what it is about someone that makes them attractive?

Having been single for over 4 years now, I've had a fair amount of time to ponder what attraction means to me. During my singledom I've met a variety of men: the gorgeous waiter with the brown eyes and trendy haircut, the 20-year old Swedish backpacker, the guy with the Aston Martin, and most recently, a professional soccer player.

During that time there's also been countless emails and "matches" from various online websites. Most of which seem to house men who either have the personality of driftwood or look like a serial killer.

When people ask why am I single, internally I laugh. Only someone who isn't on the current dating scene could ask such a question. "Oh, but you're attractive and fun and interesting," they say. "You'd have no trouble finding a man." And they're right. I don't have any problem finding men. Only thing is, the ones I come across make drinking a cup of peppermint tea feel like a chore and frankly, should never be allowed to create offspring.

We can thank Steve Jobs for making home computing what it is today, because if these guys weren't spending so much time updating their online profiles they might be out on the streets.

And that would be scary.

If you've read my previous blogs you'll know that in the past year I've actually only met one guy who I was genuinely interested in.

One.

That's 50% less than two.

I'm no maths genius but even I have worked out that the numbers aren't great.

Every book I've ever read on dating talks about how women (if they want to marry) should play by a certain set of rules which include remaining mysterious, never calling a man before he calls you and being so busy he can't get a date with you for at least two weeks. I've tried and tried to make head and tail of this advice but time and again I end up thinking F*ck this, if I've got to play games in order to get married, I'd rather be single.

Especially if the guys who want to marry are the ones on eHarmony. We're already using up 50% more than our planet's resources can cope with. Thank God these men exist otherwise we'd be in a heck of a lot more trouble.

Friends have told me I should heed the rules, that I give too much away too soon, that maybe I should play my cards a bit closer to my chest.

Well, here's the thing: I have never played my cards close to my chest. My chest is a casino table and my cards are well and truly splayed out in a fan shape with a sign that says "Pick a card, any card…" Anyone who's actually game to pick a card is in with a chance. I mean if someone is too scared to come close enough to see what's in my deck, then they sure as heck aren't going to make it past date #1 and have absolutely no chance of passing Go or collecting $200.

To all those dating rule books I say show me a man who has the balls to be open with me and I'll play any game he wants. But he must have a community chest full of interesting layers and a stack of chance cards that leave me wanting to know more.

Too many times I meet men who I can box up and categorise within the time it takes to drink a flat white, which leaves nothing for me to discover. You're financially secure? I couldn't give a f*ck… You own three houses and love your kids? Good on you, your medal for man of the year is in the mail… You have a great job and like watching sport? Lovely, well, I like kiwifruit and had a shower this morning.

B-o-r-i-n-g.

If playing the rules gets you a one-dimensional man then great, play away if that's what you want. But what I learned from the last guy I fell for is that multi-layers work for me. And regardless of how I'm supposed to "snag" a man, I believe some people are just meant to meet and get along; and for the record, the few men who interest me beyond a first date are far smarter than any rule book would give them credit for. I hope that any guy I click with has more depth than a paper cut and would therefore know they were being played.

But maybe (as friends tell me) that's why I'm single.

Well, I have one thing to say to that: Thank God.

Thank God for all the girls who play by the rules. Thank you for skimming some of the dead wood out of the dating game. A man who can be played by a woman who follows advice from a book that (shhh…) men can read too? No thanks.

A man who can operate from both male and female perspective and appreciates a woman with the courage and motivation to make her life her own? Yes please.

In summary: I'm at home on a Saturday night writing this blog because I choose to be. I had a date with the above mentioned soccer player booked for tonight (yes, really), but I cancelled and chose to have a date with myself instead. Mr Soccer Player is a nice guy: caring, keen, ambitious and tastier than a bar of Dairy Milk a week before my period. But I already knew who he was after the first date. Sure, there was more to learn but the layers weren't there.

And layers, it seems, are what I'm looking for.

I don't care if you're finically secure, have three houses and a boat, or won an award for being best striker in 2003. What intrigues me is knowing there is more to you than meets the eye. I want to come away from meeting a guy and not know who he is, yet know enough to understand that it could potentially take a lifetime to know him.

If I know everything about you in the first meeting then why would I bother seeing you again?

As for the rules, I'm making up my own and they go something like this:

1) Remain open to finding someone that interests me
2) Listen to my heart and only connect with men who I intuitively feel have something extra to offer
3) Be willing to spend time alone if my heart tells me my date is a no-go
4) Don't read anyone else's advice on dating; simply remain true myself

But what about meeting someone and getting married? Part of me is into that idea and part of me couldn't care less. I've never been a girl who dreamed of a white wedding and although I think it would be cool to share my life with someone, equally I have no desire to settle for a communion that isn't anything short of intriguing, inspiring and utterly fabulous.

My life is already those things so if anyone is going to be lucky enough to land the real estate on the other side of my bed, they will need to be bringing a whole lot more than an extra bag of laundry and a mortgage to the equation.

As for the law of attraction? I'm pretty sure my saying "no" to Mr Soccer and "yes" to an inspired evening watching Jobs the movie and writing this blog will get me a whole lot closer to meeting a true match than a thousand days spent on eHarmony or RSVP.

Yes, I know that Mr Right is unlikely to knock on my door, but when it's a given that a hundred Mr Wrongs are also lurking in the local bar, I think I'm making a good call by staying in every now and then and recharging my batteries with a good movie and some creative expression.

And speaking of batteries… I have some pressing business to attend to.

Goodnight.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Heartfield Approach

It's only January 21st and this year is already abound with opportunities.

With so much going on work-wise, I have felt like I need a way to keep myself in check. It would be easy to get carried away and lose focus, so, I recently decided to make a new daily practice.

My practice is to ask myself the following question: Am I doing everything I can to increase my business opportunities?

I currently have 3 businesses on the go: a meditation group called the Love Circle, a new massage and reflexology practice, and an online business called thebigswell.com. Each project is at a slightly different stage and each of them require regular tending otherwise there is a risk they will die.

But where to start? I've got a history of having at least two projects on the go at any one time and it can make it difficult to know which one to focus on. Having too much on your plate can lead to procrastination and a tendency to ruminate without actually taking action. Fortunately I'm a "take action" kinda girl, but with three streams on the go at once, I have found myself going somewhat round in circles. Hence, not doing everything I can to tend to my businesses.

So today I chose one project (my massage/reflexology practice) and did the following:

1. Checked in with my heart and soul.

Goal setting is all very well and I'm a great advocator of the volume model e.g send out 100+ letters to local GPs and chiropractors informing them of my new massage practice, then make phone call follow up list and cross fingers for 1-2% response rate. But today I took a "heartfield" approach. I figured my services are in line with a selection of specialist practitioners so I asked my heart to show me a connection that would prosper.

As I sat in my office (Gertrude & Alice cafe in Bondi), I stepped away from my Mac and spotted a business card that had been posted on their noticeboard from a local psychologist. Instantly my soul told me this was someone I needed to connect with. Trusting my intuition I researched their website and felt Yes, this is someone I align with. I subsequently emailed them and have offered to provide a complementary treatment with a view to being added to their referral list of allied practitioners and vice versa. I will call them later to follow up.*

Who knows if this person will feel the same alignment as I do, but I trust that my heart will always lead me in the right direction and I feel good about connecting with a therapist whose vision and message match mine.

2) I followed up on my To-Do list…

Second on my list was to Take Action. As well as contacting the psychologist I sent an email to the owner of the practice that I rent my massage room from with some marketing information for her next newsletter. Again, it's a simple step that has enabled me to tick something from my To-Do list and is increasing the energy I'm putting into my massage practice. Law of Attraction here I come.

3) Stepped outside my comfort zone

Every moment is an opportunity to meet someone and make a new client but it's also an opportunity to fulfill my personal vision: To Help As Many People Heal Themselves As Possible.

On my way to work this morning I passed a beauty therapist that I've known for 15 years. Her name is Judy and she is a truly angelic soul. Her partner is unwell at the moment and she had to close her business for a few weeks to look after him. She was opening shop as I walked past so I stopped to check in with her.

I could see a great sadness in her eyes so I gave her a hug. As a therapist Judy is naturally aligned to giving, but like many healers she is not so ready to receive. I know how she feels, although I've worked hard on learning to accept love from others. (Feel free to read any of my previous blogs for evidence…)

As we hugged I saw tears in Judy's eyes and I knew I had fulfilled my soul purpose by helping her to feel and know she is loved; and therefore helping her to heal.

In the past I would have left it there, but today I took that communication one step further. I told her I had opened a new healing practice and gave her my card. With love being the overriding motivation, I knew that it was OK at that time to offer my services to help heal her pain on a physical and emotional level through massage, reflexology and/or spiritual healing.

I no longer view my healing practice as a luxury and felt comfortable passing that on.

If any of us want to heal we need to make a commitment to doing so, and that includes treating our body and mind well. It also includes an energetic exchange: in most cases paying for whatever therapy we choose. What I offer is an incredible gift: I am lucky enough to have "healing hands" and an ability to understand people on a deeply kinesthetic level. I used to let my ego get in the way of that. I would regularly (albeit unconsciously) devalue my gift with an overriding thought of Who am I to heal others? That thought previously stopped me from promoting my services.

But really, who am I to not heal others? I'm a healer. I was born with this gift so my not promoting my services is actually doing a disservice not only to others but to myself.

What sort of egocentric tomfoolery is that?

We often consider the ego to mean bigging ourselves up, but it's also the opposite: belittling our talents and gifts because we've been led to believe that saying we're good at something means we think we're better than others. Not so. In this context the ego is the mind - your ideas and thoughts, but what about when there is a heart and soul being diminished as a result of those thoughts? That's also the ego at work.

Whatever your gift is, be it helping others, being a great writer, a closet artist or poet, having the ability to connect with people, being a great dancer or soccer player – whatever it is You Do Not Have The Right To Keep That Talent To Yourself.

We all have gifts and we must learn to openly use them.

Tapping into your uniqueness and acknowledging that who you are is a gift in itself can require a shift in consciousness. Take my friend Marc Nemorin for example. Marc is an incredible artist. Last year he recognised that his talent was laying dormant under a graphic design business (which he's also amazing at). Since releasing his gift from its box he has already created some amazing portraits that are selling like hotcakes. Just like Marc, I long thought that my innate ability to heal was something that was too easy for me and therefore not valid as a business and should remain small and hidden.

Luckily, I now see it differently.

With that in mind, I was able to lovingly offer my services today to someone in need. Whether they book in for a treatment is entirely up to them, but I can now sit comfortably in the knowledge that promoting my services is not something that I should hide. My gift, is just that: A Gift. I have many gifts and so do you. What are you doing about yours?

What innate gifts and talents are you hiding from the world for fear that you don't have the right to be amazing? It's probably something that is so easy for you and that you see as simply being part of who you are that you've boxed it up into a "Save For Retirement Hobby" fund. But I say open that box TODAY and look at those talents and gifts as gems, because that's what they are.

And just imagine, if we all played to our natural strengths with no fear of rejection, can you see how all our lives could turn around in a really positive way? And just think how HAPPY we'd all be!

I already feel blessed to have love what I do, but equally I'm looking forward to this new take on what is essentially my right to Be Me. If I can stay in a heart-centred space and simply let people know I am here if they want to heal then I figure the Universe will hear that call and rejoice in the fact that another person is willing to Be Free to Shine.

And on that note, I invite you to recognise your amazingness and let it out of the box. What are your gifts and when will you set them free?

Whatever they are, I'll be watching with a smile on my face as you open your talented heart and Shine.


* PS, Mary Sutherland (psychologist) contacted me an hour after I sent her that email. She came in for a treatment today and as far as I can tell, this could well be the start of a very special working relationship. [Insert HUGE thank you to the Universe here.]

Saturday, 21 December 2013

So Long 2013…

Wow, it's hard to believe that it's been over a year since I began writing this blog. What a journey it's been.

2013 has been a very interesting year for me: full of personal growth, new experiences and a lot of fun! As the year comes to a close I feel a real sense of excitement for what's to come. A new business opportunity recently landed in my path so I'm thrilled to begin 2014 with a list of goals and a steadfast austerity to making them happen.

Also on the cards is Love.

The guy I mentioned in my last blog Disappointment, Vulnerability and Victory actually contacted me the day after I posted the blog. (The Universe certainly has a sense of humour, non!) I've seen him a couple of times since then and things have gone well; the conversation flowed, we got each other's humour, and I find him incredibly attractive.

But alas, it seems my initial instincts were right. He's just not that into me. Yesterday I sent him a message asking if he wanted to catch up for breakfast today. I'm taking his lack of response as a no! But before you feel sorry for me at yet another failed attempt at finding a match, I'll spare you the distress.

Last night I had a breakthrough (love those!). Yes, I like this guy. He's funny, smart, charming, full of charisma and is a gentleman to boot. Well, on the surface anyway. I don't really know much about him other than what I have taken at face value. But last night as I sat plotting the new year I saw that for all his amazing qualities, we're just on different pages of the dating book. He's after casual fun and occasional company, I'm looking for The One.

And that, I realised, is totally OK.

So, I've decided to thank the Universe for sending me a wonderful example of how a man can be. He has so many qualities I want in a partner. All I need to do now is add "available for committed relationship" to my list! Ta-da!!!

You see, every person we meet and every experience that occurs on our path is an amazing opportunity to check in and see whether the life we're living is the life we want. In this instance, much of what I want in a man was put in front of me (thank you!!). I guess I just wasn't clear on whether I really wanted something long-term or not. But now that carrot has been dangled in front of me I can honestly say "I do!"

And boy does that feel good! I am finally clear on the fact that yes, I am ready for a committed, loving relationship, and most of all I have clarity on what kind of man I'm after; funny, a gentleman, inspiring and a creative thinker. Someone who provides loving hugs and can give me a look that says "I love you" without even saying a word. Sign me up!

So with the Love department taken care of (with a check list in tow I'm leaving it up to the Universe to go find someone while I remain open and ready to allow them into my life), there's also the business side of things. Which incase I haven't kept you up to speed, is just beginning to look very interesting as well!

As you may recall, this blog began with my following a set of principles laid out in Jacqueline Harrison's book, How To Create A Business From Nothing, which then became our co-authored book: Stress Free Business. The book is still in the pipeline. However, we have very recently taken over an exciting business project that will be launched in early 2014. I'm keeping the project under wraps for now, but suffice to say it's exciting and has enormous potential. It's just a matter of us getting our heads down, creating a watertight business plan and executing it successfully.

I am so excited about this project I cannot even tell you. 2014 is going to be a very interesting year!

Love, business success and wealth are definitely on the cards and I feel good about all the hard work I've put in to make that happen. This year has shown me that setting a goal (for me that was finding Love and becoming a millionaire) is important, and the steps to achieving that goal are generally to put one foot in front of the other (check). But the new thing I learned this year is that being flexible and allowing things to unfold organically has an altogether brightening effect on the Soul.

I set out to edit Jacqueline's book and to blog about the business principles she was writing about. Over the past 12 months, that journey has morphed into co-authoring a book, realising some of the failings that were blocking my own business success (e.g Beating Financial CancerGet RealIt's Time To Shine and The Egomaniac Strikes Back), and recognising that tied up in all of it is my desire to love and be loved! If I'd been adamant about following my original business-only plans I would never have uncovered the intricate web that makes up the emotional and spiritual side of me. And from what I can see, it's all sooo intricately linked. One thing cannot possibly exist without the other.

The business of life, and the business of business, is the business of love. It's all the same thing, delicately weaved into a gorgeous bejewelled web that sparkles with infinite possibilities.

Woop!

And so ends my last blog of 2013: a positive reflection on one of the most amazing years of my life. Since beginning this journey (which involved having no idea of how to even start a blog) I've written 39 blogs and notched up over 4500 hits which is amazing! Which leads me to my final blog words of the year:

Thank You.

Thank you so much for reading this. Without you, this blog would be nothing more than a diary entry. Writing about my journey in such a transparent way has been really therapeutic for me and it feels very special to know that somewhere out there is a community of people who know me more intimately that I could have ever imagined. I love reading your comments and I am truly humbled by the fact that people from all corners of the globe, (that I have never met), have dedicated a few minutes of their time to reading my stories.

I am truly grateful to all of you. By being there with me, you have helped me to grow as a person. I hope I have done the same for you.

I hope that the next chapters continue to capture your attention and that you enter 2014 filled with Love, inspiration and a wealth of joy.

Until next year…

Love. This. Life.




Sunday, 8 December 2013

Disappointment, Vulnerability and Victory


Today I saw The Butler; the true story of a black house servant who served at The Whitehouse for almost 30 years. What an inspiring movie.

As the film opened I wasn't sure where it was going; was it about racial equality? Was it about family values? Was it about patience leading to virtue?

By my reckoning, it was about all of that. And more.

As the film came to a close, Forest Whittaker (The Butler) had a change of heart and saw life through new eyes. I won't give away what that was incase you watch the film, but suffice to say it touched and moved me. I thought about how often we remain trapped in our own views and opinions and don't realise we are pushing other people or higher experiences away.

Why would anyone do that? Why would any of us choose to push away another human being or the chance to be a better person?

Using examples from the film, the reason we push people away is often due to pride, stubbornness and ego. But what good does that serve? Why would we put our personal pride before the choice to love someone? It doesn't make any sense and yet we do it all the time. And, as with everything, there's the flip side; putting others first instead of giving ourselves love. It's the exact same thing in reverse. As far as I can see, neither option makes much sense.

Both lead to varying degrees of disappointment. And that's where I sat earlier this week when I recognised that for decades I have been pushing men away because I've been afraid to be vulnerable. A perfect example of that occurred this week, although this story has a rather nice twist…

From Tuesday through to Thursday this week I was feeling disappointed because a guy I was growing to like isn't into me. (Stop me if you've heard this one before…) Before I go into the details let me take you back to four weeks ago when I was on yoga retreat in Maui – where the story of my disappointment was born.

I don't remember exactly how it came about but I found myself on day two of Kelli Prieur's Heartglow yoga retreat curled up in child's pose feeling tears starting to well up in my eyes. As I lay there, with my forehead resting on the floor, I felt a huge burst of sadness wash over me. Hmm…

After class I went back to my room and felt compelled to write a letter To All The Men I've Ever Known. In the letter, I forgave all the men who've had an influence in my life. I forgave them for being anything from controlling and overbearing, to dishonest and mean, to being too nice, and even loving me when I wasn't able to receive it.

Yeah, I know, it doesn't necessarily make sense, it just felt right.

It was a letter with a spiritual rather than logical flavour and it made sense to me. I was essentially letting go of all the stories I'd made up and held onto about all the men in my life.

It wasn't them, it was me.

A few days later while the sun set on Maui's horizon, we were instructed to get into horse pose and told we would hold the pose for 4 minutes. Yikes. My mind instantly went into overdrive and 30 seconds into it as my shins burned like a volcano, my inner peace went from cool, calm and collected to can-you-stop-this-red-hot-pain-please.

In short: I didn't like it.

"Breathe into it," quipped Kelli, the instructor. F*ck you, said my inner yogi.

As I stretched my legs and came out of the pose I spotted a fellow yogi behind me squatting low, still as a statue of Buddha with a face like an angel. Yeah, f*ck her too. I could feel how strong my unwillingness to hold the pose for more than 10 seconds was as my mind went from tantric to tantrum. Regardless of the inner chatter I decided that I should just get back into the pose and try again. So I did. With at least 3 minutes left on the clock I spread my thighs and squatted low, shins still burning, mind still flaring. And that's when it hit me.

BOOM!

"F*CK THIS AND F*CK YOU!" I screamed. At the top of my lungs.

Oops, did I say that out loud…?

"F**********CCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!" I yelled again. "I F*CKING HATE THIIIIISSSSSSSS!"

Somehow, my self-editing button had been switched to "off" and my mouth was actually saying (screaming at the top of her lungs actually) what my mind would usually keep to herself.

You probably don't need me to tell you that at this point, everyone in the room was looking at me. The quiet, petite, mantra singing yogi; i.e. me, was losing her shit. And it was loud.

As I stood up straight I started punching the air with my arms and legs in what looked like a bad case of kung fu fighting Gangnam-yogi style. I kicked and punched at thin air, (still screaming) until after a few seconds the fire that had been raging within me dissolved. My kung fu moves smoothed out and as suddenly as I had burst into flames, I got all Beyoncé, twisting and twirling to the beat of an inner drum that seemingly could be heard, or at least felt, by the yogis around me. As suddenly as the rage had taken me over, I felt a huge blast of joy bursting up from my feet to the crown of my head.

And then I noticed Kelli standing right in front of me.

Oh-oh, I'm in trouble.

Rather than reprimand me for disrupting her peaceful yin class, Kelli Prieur became my cheerleader. Apparently she (and the rest of the yogis as they told me later) felt as though they had just witnessed a transformation. A bit like a cosmetic surgery makeover only without the scalpels and botox. My makeover was an internal one. And boy did it feel good.

By yelling and screaming my way through my pain I somehow managed to release what felt like a lifetime of suppressed anger. How it happened I have no explanation, but I do know that it came on organically and once I'd screamed the roof off, I felt lighter, brighter and happier.*

Although it sounds ironic, this very release is what led me to feeling disappointed this week. How? Well, within an hour of landing back in Sydney, I got a text message from a guy I'd been chatting with before I left for the life-changing yoga trip. Being on a holiday high I was feeling bold and cheeky and so I suggested we meet for dinner. It went well and I've seen him a couple of times since then.

However, as my interest has slowly increased it seems his has waned; hence my disappointment. But the story doesn't end there. As I sat within the see-saw feeling of disappointment this week I felt my body telling me something else. I sat still and listened, just like I had during horse pose. The same up and down feeling of disappointment was there in my chest, but faintly below it I could feel a vague sense that the outer edges of my heart space were also being tugged open. Hmm, I thought, what's that? And then, it hit me (again). BOOM!

I was feeling Vulnerable.

Woah.

Beneath my disappointment was vulnerability. I got a clear sense that my willingness to be open to the potential of giving love and receiving love had also left me wide open to disappointment. But I realised my being vulnerable was a good thing. A breakthrough. I hadn't truly been open to giving and receiving love in years (maybe ever) and here I was openly liking someone, not quite at the loving stage but really, what's the difference? Being open is being open. Hallelujah!

Incase you haven't joined the dots, the message here is threefold:

1) In order to find a new way of being, I had to let go of some old stuff. For me, that meant taking myself away from my daily routine to a yoga retreat and screaming.
2) Letting go of that old stuff allowed me to feel safe to be vulnerable with a stranger who could potentially hurt me. As it happens, I did feel hurt, but…
3) At the bottom of my disappointment was a globe of light that I would never have found had I not taken the first step of Opening Up and Letting Go.

Just like The Butler, I had to release my pride and my ego before I was ever going to find the incredible gift that was lying at the bottom of my least favourite poses – horse and dating. Little did I know that by sitting in the sting of my burning shins and allowing myself to like someone I would burst through a ring of fire that holds the key to feeling good even when I'm being vulnerable.

And, just like The Butler, if I continue to face any inner or outer turmoil and maintain an openness and willingness to choose love, then I'm pretty sure my dream of eventually getting married and living in a beautiful beach house in Queensland is merely a few hours, days, months or years away.

Until then, I'll keep on being vulnerable.


*Screaming is not the only route to happiness, but it may help.