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What is a holiday?

It was my first “Merry Christmas” since I can remember. 

When I was younger, I’d miss the boyfriend in my life as we went off to our separate family’s for Christmas day. 

In my twenties it was filled with “Is this my step dad’s last Christmas?” to “I’m not going to spend Christmas with the one I thought I would.”

There where those Christmas’s running away from heartbreak and depression, hiding out of town and sobbing into the lawn on Christmas eve at my sisters place and once as far as to a tropical island of misery, teaching me that sadness follows you wherever you go and joy and appreciation can light the darkest room.

Then there were gradually less and less people around for Christmas. Loss after loss after loss, year after year. 

Holiday times are heavy times for some. And that’s the way I knew it. So much so that this year I didn’t bother taking leave, “let it come and go” I said.

Until this Christmas came and surprised me with peace and joy, togetherness and love.

                                       • • ♡ • •

It still leaves me thinking, what is a holiday though?

So, many of us set out to make the 24th – 25th – 26th of December THIS WONDERFULLY JOYOUS occasion. 

HAPPY FUCKING HOLIDAY !

May it be filled with love and happiness 

ALL AROUND YOU 

Fa la laaaaa 

La laaa

La la.

Make your own holiday. Choose your time.

What does a holiday mean to you? Does a celebration have to fall on an agreed holiday?

The “holiday-feeling” is something you can feel at any time when you are centered, filled with appreciation of the gifts of your present moment. But when you assign it to a specific day, we all arrive with our own expectations, self-imposed and society-imposed pressures… and that’s a recipe for all kinds of disaster.

My 2018 reflection crashed and burned and was just a forced reflective word vomit because I was actually so caught up with what the end of year should signify, how I SHOULD feel at 6pm on the 31st of December, as well as lulling in my sweet gratitude for the surprising peacefulness of the festive season this time round, that I struggled to get deep about it.

But here it is from inner peace to outer dynamism.

Let 2018 revolve around:

Wisdom•Celebration•Service•Commitment

Stay Tuned in ~ Tapped in ~ Turned on ~ To your highest possible frequency.

And when in doubt. Never underestimate the power in the voice of silence. In a bit of quiet, you’ll find the answers and reconnection.

WISHING YOU A WISDOM-FILLED 2018.

                              • • • •

Footnote.

Tonight’s medicine for a tired mind:

+ A spoonful of David Attenborough wildlife documentaries

+ 1 spoonful of Guruji wisdom 

+ 1 spoonful of Abraham Hicks 

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Authentic relating.

Authenticity: The quality of being genuine or real.

There are things that we all resent about the antisocial (dis)connection of social media, but what I can definitely praise it for is the “So and so is interested in this event” newsfeed feature, because, whether ‘Joey’ made it to the event or not, I certainly  did.

Conversation HUB: A day of meaningful conversation at a beach house. Now, that’s exactly the kind of event that catches (and keeps) my attention.

Why? Because Meaningful Conversations are rare. And I’m so aware of that since I’ve been teaching ESL “Conversation class” over the last 3 years. Colleagues hate teaching  these sessions, exclaiming “There’s no lesson focus!” and “What is the aim of the lesson? What are the students actually learning?”

My fellow-teachers and management staff of the English Language School I work at all know that I love this slot. Students who have been in my communication classes know why too and the feedback I’ve had for my method of teaching has continued to inspire me.

There is no focus, you say.
‘Well, what is conversation?’ I usually open my courses with.
I get a lot of answers.
“Speaking, listening, answering questions, asking questions.”
I bring the students attention to ‘responding’ without planning what you are going to say while their partner is talking. How often do we do that? Um… constantly….  no longer listening simply preparing our next injection of words and opinions. To respond to what your someone says to you, once they have finished saying it to you, that’s a good habit in communication worth practising. don’t just talk at them.

What’s the aim? you ask.
Giving students the freedom to just go for it. To speak freely and openly, voice their opinions, to talk about things in depth that we often brush over or don’t even indulge in in regular daily chatter. Some topics that are exciting and wholesome, some controversial, some socially awkward. All real.

What are they learning? They are learning life skills in English. Communication skills that they haven’t even been taught to do in there mother tongue. How freakin’ meaningful is that language and expression? How much more true and authentic do you get? How to say what they feel, what they believe, to formulate their own beliefs and express them (in a foreign language as well) to learn about other minds and opinions and have a space to change their minds if they wish, update their point of view.

That’s the safe space I call my classroom. Where no one is wrong or right. Only, different.

I won’t elaborate on my techniques of guided conversations, conversation journeys or conversation rotations but I will highlight how I ended up at the “meaningful conversation HUB” on Sunday 15 October. Alone, stepping into yet another Unknown – out of pure curiosity and need to experience possibly what my students get to.

You see, I see these meaningful conversations happen so often because I facilitate them, and I suppose my lessons have taken on this description out of my own need for deeper connection and sharing. As a facilitator, I witness the magic but by being removed I don’t get to experience it as a participant.

Driving to the beach house on Sunday I was thinking about how I feel about certain topics and realised I don’t really know… because I’ve only ever thought about it briefly but never had the opportunity to put feelings to words to verbalised it. Students have asked me before, “But tell us, how do YOU feel about this? What do you believe?”

I brush it off, saying that it’s not my conversation to have, it’s theirs – a bit of a cop out, but I rarely want to label myself with an opinion I haven’t had time to mould.

So, there I was. It was a small group of mostly strangers. And I was asked to “check in” with why I was there. Which was most of what I’ve shared above. I want to gain skills and I’m open to any opportunity for personal and professional growth.

What I learnt about human conversation and interaction during our “authentic relating” task was that I was really listening and really present in what my group was saying. And when I felt how I was truly able to engage and listen to another, not for any other purpose other than to hear them, a thunder bolt of realisation struck me: people listen to me everyday but “I don’t feel heard”. This was a very emotional moment as I also had to face the fact that I listen to respond, I listen to form an option, I listen to react with advice or show empathy through my own personal experience. We don’t just listen to hear one another.

And it’s a HUGE pothole in the road of connection and communication. Authentic relating is all about giving someone the space, not to speak. But to be heard.

It started with chai… 

Memories of my month in India this time last year~

Can’t wait to go back but also so grateful to that journey for the shift that took place… for the silence and time “alone” (Yet, never alone!) that spoke to me and inspired true and deep healing, growth & transformation.
Realising that when I left, I could find a way to take my piece (peace) of India with me and keep it forever ~ Feed it and nurture it and expand on it ~ was the key!

It started with the commitment to myself to keep up the daily ritual to make fresh masala chai every morning. Just as I learnt to in Pushkar, with the traditional pestle and mortar I bought there. Bashing together fresh ginger, black pepper, cardomen pods, cloves (And my added Western flavour, cinnamon sticks) and boil away with strong black tea, milk & lots of sugar.

This daily practice was sacred to me at the time. It reconnected me to a feeling, to a state of being, a presence, a mindfulness that I’d started to experience in India.

Realising that when I came home, I could find a way to build on the internal and spiritual work that started in India is what somehow led me to the Art of Living Organisation. And become a part of a group of beautiful humans who are also on the path of spiritual growth and expansion. My Monday group Kriya (mediation) is what centres and sets me up for my week.

I’ve recently started practicing Vinyasa yoga twice to three times a week and after a strenuous practice where mind, body and spirit merge into a central light, quietness and joy come so naturally. I spend at least an extra 7-10 minutes seated in stillness on my matt relishing in this glorious state of being and awareness.

Thank you India for really cementing this in me.

I never really knew why I had this INNER pull and longing to visit you for so many years… but *courage* is a love affair with The Unknown.

• Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of the things you really love • It will not lead you astray•
That I know for sure!

The heart knows the answer.

A year ago, things hadn’t gone exactly as planned. In fact, ‘the plan’ crashed and burned in the most spectacular display of chainsmoking, shaking, shock and disbelief. And after an almost unhealthy dose of tears and disappointment for the loss of a fantasy, for the humiliation of having even taken such a blind risk for ‘love’, for having to face the failure. I remember repeatedly saying to myself “it’s just such bad timing!” (Right before my India trip!)

When I verbalised to a dear friend via a sobby WhatsApp message on the train to Heathrow, she responded with,

Maybe the timing IS RIGHT” 

And the penny dropped. The timing WAS right.

The heartbroken setback propelled me into the most glorious spiritual comeback. 

I doubted “the process” of this journey. Because YES! the heart needs a moment to just FEEL it all. The highs and the lows… But I’ll never doubt it again. It couldn’t have happened in any other combination or string of events.

A year ago today, when I thought it had all fallen apart ~ it was in fact a massive turning point, the dramatic climax that every incredible narrative must have before resolution begins.

I remember posting the following words on Facebook as I checked-in to my London-Dehli flight. This narration from an India-based movie that moved me sooo deeply, that I cried through and scribbled down many years beforehand.

This collection of truths at some point had sung out to me in one way or another. And on this day, a year ago I knew a tremendous shift was happening. I knew this because each and every line was relevant to me at that moment in time. 

The penny settled onto the Heathrow INTERNATIONAL terminal floor:

The only real failure is the failure to try.

And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must. All of us, in our different ways.

We get up every morning, we do our best. Nothing else matters. 

But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing; has nothing. 

All we know about the future is that it will be different. But, perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. 

So, we must celebrate the changes. 

Because, as someone once said, 

“Everything will be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, then trust me, it’s not yet the end.” 

~ The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

 

The heart knows the answer.  And I trust it.

When the heart isn’t clear. The soul’s knowing will eventually shine through. I trust that.

And the Universe has a plan. I trust it.

a birthday reflection

This time last year I was so riddled with anxiety to the point that my gift to myself on my birthday was to give myself permission to start smoking again… after having given up almost a year before that. (I shudder at the memory & the warped mentality).

I didn’t want to struggle through my days anymore. And I thought it was my “easy way out”.
What I know NOW is it was simply opening the door to a vicious cycle of generating and feeding this anxiety monster & growing it bigger and stronger within me.

Through a rollercoaster journey around Europe to the UK, from India back home ~ a whole year after that dreadfully weak moment, I have found an inner calm, peace and comfort through a combination of my different weekly practices that frees me from outside influences and stresses ~ a shield of energy which negativity can’t penetrate & simply bounces off. A place where joy and gratitude reside.

I quit smoking 7 months ago and I will never ever pick up a cigarette again. I AM FREE. This is a gift of respect I give to myself and my human form.

》I am grateful for LIFE, for my life, for the privilege of another year and celebrating another birthday.《

I’m grateful for those who have come into my life and taught me a lot…
and honestly, I’m just as grateful for the ones who walked out, they have given me the practice.

I’m grateful to my spirit for being my greatest teacher.

I’m grateful for my inner fire that refuses to go out and … for being a searcher. I’m grateful to the Universe for allowing me to find MORE. (Just a glimpse is enough.)

And although everything is temporary and EVERYTHING is always changing… (The past has left it’s lessons behind and it’s a part of who I am today and the future is just an intention I’ve set of where I may be heading)… I’m grateful for the NOW I have.

It’s in all of us.
The ability to go inward, eliminate negativity, find beauty and a sense of peace & greater, deeper understanding (that I’m not yet able to but words to).
It’s not easy, as our already programmed minds WILL fight us, but if you have the longing and the courage ~ you’ll see it through and cultivate the discipline to maintain this lighter and higher level of consciousness.

This is my gift to myself (via Universal intervention) and through me to you…
All I want to do is share it ~

Let’s all do that.

Thanks for reading ♡
Love & Light

Namaste.

  P.S Thank you Universe.

Let it what?

 It’s been a pretty universal “go to” phrase for about 2 years now. When things go wrong, when we are confronted with harsh realities or impressions we don’t want to face. When we want to climb over and sneak around an issue ~ the advice we are given and even, often, try giving ourselves & others is “let it go”

Oh… just let it go. 

Sounds simple to some ~ impossible to others but in my personal and witnessed experience, completely ineffective & therefore, self-defeating.

We’ve got it all wrong.

Let it go ~ How one’s meant to do this has always boggled my mind. I mean, surely if I had the choice of something affecting me mentally, emotionally, subconsciously I would choose for it not to. If we were robots we would of course push the OFF button. It’s neither choice nor mechanical programming which allows us to release what no longer served us.

We’ve got it all kinds of wrong.

Magically detaching from something that’s hurt, dissapointed, angered or broken you isn’t an option.

Asking yourself or advising someone to simply let this go is a recipe for resistance and frustration… and, well, failure. 

What you resist, persists. 
What you fight off or suppress ultimately comes back with gathered momentum and avengence. You can’t let something go that’s holding onto YOU in return.

Where did this wisely-stupidly-ill-informed phrase come from?

Fear. We fear going there. We fear sitting with unpleasant feelings and an unsettled mind. We think that if we talk ourselves or others into LETTING something GO it will ease up. When what we actually need to be told is to go through it.

Let it be.
A simple change of verb.

Let it be. 

Don’t be scared to process what you’re struggling with.

Yes … I do understand that sounds like a scarier method but if you realise that everything is temporary, everything is always changing, you’ll recognise that owning where you are and allowing yourself to be there, knowing it won’t always be this way, that it will pass through you ~ that’s a release in itself. You won’t feel this way forever.

Unless you resist it.

This goes for everything. Your joys and sorrows. Practising the art of stillness when we want to race through our suffering and pop up on the other other side, ideally, unscathed.

This is the journey of our souls growth and development. It takes us down as well as up, demands that we face, even embrace, pain and darkness as well as joy and light.

LETTING IT BE trains us to use whatever comes up and wherever we find ourselves as occasions for inquiry, for opening, for growing in strength and wisdom, and for walking (not running or dodging) our own path.

IMG_20170409_115028_641

Like a butterfly landing on your hand,… how long will it stay? No one knows. But you know it will lift off when it’s ready, when it’s given you the message it needed to give you and when you’ve opened up to receive it. 

What you do know is that it’ll be gone before you know it.

So, for now ~  Appreciate this moment for whatever it is and…

Let it be.

dancing on my own.

It all started at Bride&co one Friday afternoon, where “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” syndrome took the reigns…

I was having a fitting for one of my oldest friends weddings and at the same time supporting an old student in a wedding dress hunt.

She wanted my advice and asked me which dress I would choose.
I looked around at the rails and rails of mass produced shiney meringues ~

“HONESTLY? I wouldn’t take any of these FOR FREE”

As I said that, I caught a glimpse of lace and in all it’s simplicity was drawn to the single unimbelished dress in a fish-tail design which just so happened to be too beautiful for words, and a size 12, perfect for my pretty Libyan student. It fit her like a glove. I watched her whirl and swirl. In MY dress.

It didn’t take long before I hung up the bridesmaids dresses and snuck into the changeroom, with the lace gown, true “bridesmaid gone rogue” style and slipped it on…

Holding it tightly behind me to make it fit my size 8 frame, I walked out into the viewing room. My student’s jaw dropped (probably innitially horrified) as I stepped up onto the elevated platform infront of the mirror and turned just enough to swoosh the fish-tail perfectly.
As she snapped a sneaky photo, the manager came around the corner. And just as she’s trained to do and say, she uttered all the right sounds of approval and made all the right eyes- followed by “When’s the special day?”


“Oh. No no no… I’M not getting married… 
I don’t even have a boyfriend…” I said with a huge, proud grin.

Awkward silence.

… I’ll just stand here a little longer and absorb this princess moment. Unengaged. No Mom or future Mom-in-law or best friends gasping and weeping “That’s it! That’s the dress!”

Non of that. Just me and my reflection and my “fuck normal”mentality. Like… Who says that a competely and utterly single 31 year old has to wait for someone to love and accept her for all the glorious madness she is until she gets the opportunity to stand exquisitely beaming in a long lacey (or meringue-like) bridal gown and feel magnificent? Who says?

Insert [Independent woman rule #1]
YOU DON’T NEED A MAN
Do your thing honey!

Slot in all kinds of girl power anthems here: ‘Man! I feel like a woman’ – Shania Twain, ‘Girl on Fire’ – Alicia Keys, ‘Stronger’ – Kelly Clarkson, ‘Fight Song’ – Rachel Platten…

I left Bride&co feeling beautifully silly and liberated. I didn’t fear having put a jinx on my married/unmarried fate. I had simply broken the ice of anticipation for a moment that won’t make or break my life. I felt all powerful, complete and unstoppable.

(And if you’ve read any of my stories before, you’ll know what happens the moment I’m contently not falling in or recovering from love – when my heart is strong and unfuckwithable again… when I’m so okay in my own skin that I truly am not interested in men. You have an idea of what happens next, right?)

This energy carried me into the night. A friends birthday excitement led to a few tequillas and a little bit of carefree spontaneity. I was keen to dance and so was everyone else.

…and then, all of a sudden, the party animals were tired and wanting to wake up early on Saturday morning. On the first night in forever that I actually felt like being out and about. And with that, they went home. And with that – well – I didn’t.

I took myself to my favourite club, to my favourite platform a little above the dancefloor and without a second thought I was dancing… but not alone… AMONGST a sea of other dancers. Why would I stick out from the rest?

That’s a legitimate question I’m asking. Why would I have not looked like just another girl in the crowd? Why were people so drawn to me? Why was I being asked “Who are you here with?” by men and women alike?


“Just me”

“I’m seriously impressed, I never thought I’d meet a girl who’d have the guts to come to a club alone”

I smiled and shruggled (like it was the most normal thing in the world).

The energy I was emitting was clearly magnetic. And from the corner of my eyes, there were men, hovering…circling… I really didn’t give a shit, I was celebrating freedom from conformity – I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to be hit on with seedy remarks (as per usual), I was very happily dancing on my own.

And then like all predictable cliches, an equally magnetic boy with a cute as hell gap in his teeth comes around for the third time. I couldn’t help but show appreciation for his vibe with a slight smile and … damn, like with most male/female courting, that signals acceptance and submission and he came in for the kill.
Less aggressively than I’ve stated, much less in fact, he was a rather smooth cat. Like his hair.
“Who are you here with?”

“Just me”  
in my nonchalant manner.
(I found out later that he’d bailed on his mates and come alone too).
He brought me water, told me he’d been attracted to my energy from across the room and asked if he could take me for a milkshake soon.

I teased him about being gutsy enough to see me in the light, not realising the lights were already on in the bar, as it was closing time.
He saved my number in his phone as:

“××××…Worth it”

The following day one of my more freesprited friends told me SHE wouldn’t even be brave enough to go out dancing alone. Others expressed how much they’d love to be able to do it. And only then the realisation of how possessed I had been settled in. It was a pretty bold move and the residual effects were beaming.

What has followed this unusually satisfying day is a story for another time. But what I do know for sure is this:

The moment you stop looking. It finds you.
And I’m not speaking soley about love or the perfect man.
I am talking about that illusive inner contentment we all chase.

You can fake a smile and put on your brave face as we all have to ~ to get through the dips in this ride. But energy doesn’t lie. When that moment of TRUE self acceptance, universal love and gratitude hits you within – it radiates outward. It attracts other beautiful energies like a blossoming tree buzzing with bees.

And we can all agree that The Universe has pushed my buttons of late, pushed me into what felt like dark corners with names I wanted to forget being screamed in my face until I cracked ~ Taken me deeply through a process of seeking more (and finding it) and ultimately letting the light come in through the broken bits, and for all of that, I had one wish.

“I’m sick and tired of sexy men with ugly hearts.
I want to fall in love with someone’s kindness & compassion.
I want to fall in love with someone’s heart & soul.”

The Universe has made it clear to me.
(No matter what comes of this. No matter what comes next.)
The universe has one response.

“I’m listening”