Monday 28 September 2009

The illusion of failure

I am the first to admit it - I'm not blessed the physical arena. Whether it's dancing or tennis, I simply lack the ability to coordinate multiple body parts with any sense of ease, rhythm or flow. Add a ball and racket into the equation and the result is shambolic! It's a shame, but that's how it is.

So, although it had disaster written all over it, I desperately wanted to try water skiing while on holiday. In the closing hours of our stay I realised I had to honour that desire... who knows, maybe I'd surprise myself!

Ten minutes before the lesson began I was at the pier, abuzz with ill-concealed nerves. I chatted and joked with other guests. I was the first in. On the first go, I lost my balance before the speed boat even moved off! The next time, I ended up on my stomach (not the desired position!), on the third attempt, I was on my stomach again... at the fourth attempt I managed rise just above the water and then lost balance: again.

It was humiliating, because not just were there about 20 spectators on the pier, there were those having lunch at the pier restaurant and those on the beach. I failed. In fact, I failed magnificently in public. I was the case study in how not to waterski.

But what surprised me was, as I got back up onto the pier, the people with whom I had been chatting looked away from with a mixture of shame and embarrassment. I went back to our beach chairs and promptly burst into tears... I had been embarrassed by my distinct lack of talent, but the feeling of shame that I felt from the spectators left me feeling empty and somehow dirty.

Several tissues later, I decided that I wasn't going to end my holiday feeling like that, so I started looking for the positive story in my little adventure. And ten minutes later I found it...

It takes a courage and humility (if I say so myself!) to attempt something that we have dreamt of doing, even if the odds are stacked against us. The fact that I dared to believe the impossible, that I may be good at this sport, in the face of all previous experience showed me that I have achieved some small sense of freedom in my life; I'm willing to look foolish to follow my dream. The fear others have of failing, and the fear I have of failing is present, but there is more hope than fear, more optimism than pessimism.

In those magnificent ten minutes of failure, I found my greatest of successes. I was truly alive. I can be bold. I can be brave. I can even be bold and brave in the face of almost certain failure in order to be true to myself. To feel magnificently alive. Understanding that turned out to be the highpoint of my holiday.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Gone fishing...


We are finally going on our honeymoon!

This means that there won't be any posts for the next two weeks. And then I'll be back in spades!

In the meantime, go gently...

remember that you always have the answers within...

and if you can't find them, ask for divine inspiration to help you find them...

It works for me!

See you in a fortnight!

Forgiveness is a decision

I might have got you with that one, but stay with me for a while and see what you think...

There is a common fallacy that one clear day, the emotion of forgiveness arrives. Out of nowhere, we forgive those who have hurt us. It just happens. Now, while that may be true for some, for others its not so easy. It requires our willingness, our choice: it is not a passive experience. It is active. It is something that we can claim for ourselves.

Our emotions are the equivalent of a group of play-school toddlers on a sugar high. They run all around the place, they are uncontrollable and they lead us. This is equally true of our emotions.

If, rather than being controlled by our emotions, we took the time to make a decision about how to respond to events our lives might be shaped rather differently.

I remember when I read that line, 'Forgiveness is a decision'. It was a overcast August day and I was sitting on a park bench in Basel, Switzerland. My immediate reaction was, "No: there's no way that's true. There's no way I can do that."

But the idea gnawed away, so I decided to see if it is true. I chose the one person I felt I could not forgive and I decided to forgive them.

I'd like to say that was easy and immediate. It wasn't. And to be honest, it took some considerable time to percolate through my system. But the reality is that because I chose to forgive, I put a stake in the ground and, over time, that forgiveness gained momentum; it deepened until it finally became complete.

I went from pain to forgiveness to a deep and abiding love that, to this day, still surprises me.

So I urge you: if there is anyone in your life who has hurt you or betrayed you, rather than hold the pain deep inside, free yourself. Allow yourself to flow again, rather than remaining trapped in that dark emotional vortex of pain.

Decide to forgive. It will start you on a whole new journey that is deeply healing.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Shining Your Light

There are many ways to look at it. Life can be a magnificent, inspiring journey. Or it can be a mundane and fearful journey.

Much of how we see our lives depends on our outlook. And we choose our outlook. We choose which side of the bed to get out of each morning, but the problem is that most of us get out of bed on the default side. And that’s still a choice, even if it's an unconscious choice. The unfortunate result is that we get the default life too.

But what if we actively chose? What if we decided to make just one day exceptional? Scintillating? Magnificent? Miraculous even... Regardless of what the world threw back at us, we'd keep focusing on the magnificent. Just for one day. I'm starting to sound like a 12 step programme! And how bad - it's a powerful model indeed.

I say this from my heart, to anyone who thinks I live in a Pollyanna world: the texture of our lives is created by our outlook. It is not random chance. As Viktor Frankl observed, the one final and ultimate power we have is to choose how we will respond to any given situation.

And by choosing the light, we become the light. And even if darkness falls with alarming regularity in my mood, in my day, or even in my life, I still choose the light.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Celebrating difference

It's one of the great ironies of life, I think. We want others to be like us, but we'd be bored rigid if they were.

Difference has a beauty to it: a wisdom to teach, a richness to convey, a journey to be had. But so often, we get side-tracked by the narrowness of our own vision, of our agendas, our diaries and appointments, our likes and dislikes. It's amazing how set in our own ways we can become... in fact, we can become so rigid, so unforgiving (yes, unforgiving) that we like it our way and nothing else counts.

I think this may be most beautifully illustrated in marriage, to borrow from my own life for a moment! The very strength of our marriage lies in the fact that we are very different: we bring unique qualities, talents, wisdoms and humour to the party. And yet...

Like many a new (and not-so-new!) wife before me, I wanted my beloved husband to be more like me. And he wants me to eat chicken! I thought I was accepting of the differences, but what was really happening was I was pushing my dislike of that difference underground... subtly, discretely out of view. Until it would waken from its slumber every few weeks, days - hours! - and bite me!

I've been doing some reading on marketing to women recently and I realised that there are really good reasons why I am the way I am. Between genetics, culture and personality, I'm me with good reason. And he's him with good reason - good reasons that benefit me when I can get past my own narrow vision and see the strength, beauty and richness that our differences bring to our marriage.

I think I 'got it' this morning. I saw the thought go through my head, "You didn't..." and I was able to release it.

He doesn't have to... That’s how I do it. There is no reason why he has to do it my way. Not a single good reason.

I sure hope I remember this insight tomorrow morning!

Monday 7 September 2009

To dare, to dream, to dance

Daily life is full of small, beautifully formed miracles. We all graced by these miracles every day, we just fail to see them, to savour these little miracles… and these little miracles do have a cumulative effect I believe. They create momentum; they pave the way for even bigger miracles. They lead us towards the life of our dreams.

Not the ‘I want to win the Lotto’ dream, but the deeper dream behind that – the soul’s yearning to stretch itself, to live a life of purpose and passion, to master a skill, to connect and share intimacy with others, to drink deeply of the heady delight of life, beyond the fears and anxieties of daily living.

That beauteous, joyful life already exists but we choose not to see it. Too often we choose to pour our attention into our fears, into our anxieties, into our disagreements and our betrayals. Yes, they exist and we all have a story to tell. But for me, the most inspiring stories are always told by people who have completely embraced their story and turned it into gold. They accept. They forgive. They trust. They love. They dream. They dare.

They are living life. I have so much to learn from these people. Many of them, I suspect, are like me. They see the miracle in flower knowing innately the right moment to blossom and they are touched by the infinite wisdom and grace inherent in the dance of life. And the next second they are side-tracked by the ninth telesales call in an hour.

I deeply believe that is part of the dance, for I cannot escape who I am. But I also have a dream, and I dare to live it every day – to believe the impossible, to delight in rainbows, to forgot the wonder of life. And then to remember it all over again.

Friday 4 September 2009

Finding our purpose

Like so many others I have struggled to find my purpose. I have asked, prayed, shouted and sulked... and all to no avail. The writing in the sky that I so impolitely requested never happened.

So how do we find our purpose? It turns out I had misread the Owners Manual for Human Beings.

We do not find our purpose. It finds us.

It appears that it follows a pattern like this:

Step 1. We search while doing something we may or may not like so much.

Step 2. We make choices that make our lives a little richer. We know we're not there yet because we're still trying to ease that inner gnawing sensation that our Most Magnificent Self is not the person turning up each day.

Step 3. We still continue making adjustments in our lives, our jobs, our relationships and our characters. We continue to feel the dull ache. We continue to search...

Step 4. We find new jobs and experiences that enrich us more. The desperation in the search eases a little as we begin to simply accept where we are, who we are and what we are doing.

Step 5. We simply live our lives.

Step 6. We are called upon. Our purpose finds us. And guess what: we balk at it, we think 'I could never do that'.

Then we wonder why we wanted it find it at all, even while we rejoice. Finally we are reunited with that part of ourselves that appeared to be lost; our inner magnificence, once shrouded in dust, is now alive, vibrant and as dazzling as the sun. We have come home to ourselves.

I say all of this from the perspective of someone who is only at Step 4. I was reading someone's Owners Manual for Human Beings over their shoulder, so I may be wrong!

The last taboo

Love yourself.

I do believe it is the last taboo of our society. Or pretty close at least!

Be kind to yourself.

Think before jumping in to save someone who may not wish to be saved, who may wish to gain an insight through that particular experience.

Be kind to yourself. When you are strong and centred you do more to heal this planet and those of us who voyage on it when you vibrate at a higher rate.

I read today that suffering is a part of the spiritual path. For some - or even many - this is the only way they choose to learn that they are not alone. The only way that they can release enough control to ask for help, whether from others or from the Divine.

We can still help, but when asked. Not before. Otherwise we rob our best beloveds of the time and experiences they require for their journey.

It seems funny to imagine that we can save others, that we know more than the great intelligence behind life itself!

Rather than rushing to help and save others, stand back and be gentle with you. Nurture and care for yourself. Allow yourself to be simple, to unclutter your life, your actions… to act from spaciousness inside, from an inner sense of knowingness, not out of spontaneous reaction, not out of fear or even a desire to rescue.

Breathe deeply. Allow freedom to emerge within you, around you…

Allow yourself to be simplicity.

Allow yourself to love yourself.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Only love

How complicated we make life. I speak with the voice of experience on this matter! If there is the possibility of over-complicating something, I'm already on it!

In the search for a deeper sense of peace, a stronger sense of connection with the Divine - however one conceives of them - I have read too much, thought too much, and analysed too much.

The key is simple: love.

How many ways can I find to love? How wide can I open my heart? How generous can I be in my patience? How deep in my forgiveness?

All the masters throughout the ages have been united in one message: LOVE.

We can get caught up in grocery lists, the school run, the work commute, the person who makes us feel small and stupid... In reality, these are only dramas if we choose to make them dramas.

And if we can find love in our hearts... they can lose their sting in an instant.

I’m going to hold a selection of loving memories stored in my mind to dip into when the going feels tough, so that I can quickly reconnect to love, to healing my own life and helping to heal our planet.

It's the simplest things that I sometimes forget. I write this blog to remind myself of the simple things... And of the indescribable power of love.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

An angel saved my life

It was a cold, overcast Thursday afternoon in February 1997. I was walking home from a seminar at the University where I was studying.

As I walked down the hill to the crossroads, I noticed that there were no cars on the road. I turned the corner to cross the road at its narrowest point, but that meant that I could no longer see down that road. I remember reasoning that the green light was about to turn red and there were no cars coming, so it was probably safe across the road.

I was almost half way across the road when, out of nowhere, I heard a crisp, no-nonsense male voice say, "Cross the road. Car coming very fast. Run. Red." As if on automatic pilot, I started to run.

I had just put my foot on the pavement when a red taxi came screeching around the corner at high speed. It was jumping the lights. If I hadn't run, I would have been seriously injured, if not killed.

Shock ran through me; I looked around, but the roads were deserted. No cars. No people. Where had that disembodied voice come from? I walked the remainder of the way home, trembling. It took quite some time to feel calm again: not because of the near-miss, but the quality of that voice... I knew it wasn't human.

Many years later I began to come across similar stories; stories in which that voice had the same qualities as I had experienced. I say ‘experienced’ purposely - this was more than a voice that one hears: there was a rich experience in simply hearing that voice that I cannot, even now, articulate clearly.

Recently a friend sent me lots of angel gifts and I was surprised at how friends have come to associate me with angels. We all have angels, including a guardian angel who accompanies us through life. They stand guard, even when we are not aware of them - and they love to show up as rainbows, so we know we are not alone!

We are never alone, nor do we even need to have all the answers: we can ask for help and inspiration at any moment – it’s just a matter of be willing to follow it when those reoccurring thoughts, dreams and inspirational insights arrive!

And if that reoccuring thought is that you need to have more fun in life - then I'd pay attention to it, because it's probably right...!