Thursday 24 February 2011

Reality check

This is just a brief post - you guessed it, James is asleep!  I have about 30 minutes to write this, answer emails, check my bank balance (with all the security steps, that alone takes 17 minutes!) and ... oh yes, run to the toilet!

James is now 17 weeks, a tad over 4 months.  I'm exhausted.  I haven't really felt it until now, but it's really hitting home.  And in exhaustion, I get a chance to glimpse who I have become: it's rather like being in a pressure cooker.

There's no where to run or hide - who I am, rather than who I wish I was, comes to the surface because I lack the energy to be 'polished'.

So, am I tolerant of others?  Do I lose my temper quickly? 

What I see is that I have more patience than I expected, especially with James.  If I get short tempered, it is with Dirk and, I think, that rarely happens.  I must check with him though!  I'll add that to the list of things I want to talk to him about over the weekend - if I don't write them down, I forget what I want to say!

And my personal 'fault line', chocolate, currently plays a rather big role in my life.  It's because I see chocolate as self-nurture, as care and love when I feel alone.  Not that this is a reflection on Dirk, but more a reflection of the fact that he's gone from 6.30am to 8.30pm.  I'm up from 5.30am to 10pm, not including the night shift - my family live in Ireland, and none of my friends live nearby, so the days are long and do feel lonely.

On the plus side, there is chocolate!  We also have some sort of rhythm, day to day and week-to-week. 

When I was in labour I prayed throughout the whole process and it gave me an inner reserve of strength.  Now I dip into that daily, asking for help with chores, insight into how to best support James (there are a million questions I have from 'should I wean him off his soother?' to 'why did he wake up crying uncontrollably last night?') and patience, so that exhaustion does not become bad temperedness with James or Dirk. 

Prayer gets me through the day.  It helps me feel that I'm not alone, and that there is wisdom and comfort available to me.  Mostly I try to pray for grace and peace, rather than a specific outcome, as I don't really know what the highest and best outcome is in any given situation: I just need to be gracious enough to accept the process and the outcome.  One prayer at a time!

Monday 21 February 2011

The Archangels' Visit: Day 5

The Last Day

Would I recommend this process?  Definitely. 

It has been a subtle, yet deeply transformative process for me.  As I made a list of all the unexpected events and changes that happened during the week, from small to large, I noted at least 15 gifts.  And there could be many more that I just haven't recognised yet, or that have yet to come to fruition.

My three greatest gifts from this process are not dramatic, but they enhance daily life in a profound way.  I feeling more peaceful and content within myself.  Both Dirk and I have noticed a different lightness in our relationship with eachother with more laughter and ease in our time together. 

However, the greatest change must surely be this: I welcomed the Archangels at the beginning of the ritual on my own, but we both did the closing ritual.  Who would have imagined it?!  Not me.

If you are interested in hosting the Archangels for five days, please contact Jo, at:

Friday 18 February 2011

The Archangels' Visit: Day 4

Light and Shade 

Life carries on as it always has.  There are no miracles in the traditional sense.  But that said, the daily rhythm seems lighter than before.  I'm happier than before.  There are even moments when I feel joy welling up inside me for no real reason.

In telling the story of our Archangel visit, feeling happier and lighter are unlikely to convince skeptics!  And, if I'm honest, perhaps the skeptic that is searching for proof, who still wants to be convinced, is me.  I do love a good story!

But I am brought back to the Zen teaching: "before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."

There is a lot of the humdrum to life.  So, perhaps learning to see the light alongside the shade, to experience joy as I 'chop wood, carry water', though subtle, is a both quiet and profound.  It reflects our daily experience - life can seem quiet and uneventful, yet the very fact that we have a life is utterly profound.

The Archangels' Visit: Day 3

Small Miracles

There hasn't been a lot of difference over the past few days - well none that's very noticable at any rate.  But then, to focus on 'glamorous' transformations and miracles may well distract me from noticing the small changes that are occuring around me.

For a start, I feel better in myself.  I feel lighter and happier, for no apparent reason.  When people used ask me how I was, I'd respond with an unenthusiastic, "I'm good thanks".  I've noticed that I now reply with an energetic, "I'm great thanks"!

A more remarkable event was a phonecall, out of the blue, from a friend.  An old business venture that I had thought was gathering dust may be about to flourish.  Now that would be terrific if it came to pass.

But perhaps the most amazing of all is how Dirk has experimented with this process.  I can't help laughing as this cynical businessman says, "Hop on, Guys" as he leaves the house in the morning!  In fact, he's had quite a few miracles at work, lucky fellow!

So, if I were only to focus on the big-ticket glamorous miracles, I would miss out on the small (and potentially not so small) changes that are occurring.  And perhaps there's something to be said for slow, steady change that discretely improves our lives.

Thursday 17 February 2011

The Archangels' Visit - Day 2

Ask with your heart

As I sat there writing questions and imagining replies to those questions,* I couldn't help wondering if it was my imagination or if I was really tapping into some greater wisdom.  Perhaps the wisdom was the Archangels': or perhaps it was my own.  Either way, I learnt a lot in my early morning session with them. 

I asked about our difficulty in finding a home.  The response I got was a suggestion to ask with my heart, not my mind.  Asking with my heart was easier than I thought.  They explained that I just had to shift my attention from my thoughts to my heart, which had no thoughts!  Then I imagined our new home and concentrated on how that would feel. What were the emotions?  How would having a new home enhance our lives?  My immediate feelings were of freedom, deep relaxation and coziness. 

The Archangels then suggested that I focus on these emotions when I wanted to pray for a new home, every time I thought of our new home and on every aspect of our current home that creates those emotions.

It's definitely a different way of praying and asking!  It by-passes the 'ifs' and 'buts' of the mind, and it feels more natural somehow.

As I applied this principle to several different areas of my life (finances, body, career) I saw that freedom was an underpinning emotion or value in more than one area.  So now I'm practicing feeling free, and noticing the moments of freedom already in my life (and there are many, many moments that I was ignoring).

After that, it's just a matter of time before my prayers are answered!

*Automatic writing is one of the tools Jo (who coordinates their visits) suggests using to connect with the Archangels.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

The Archangels' Visit - Day 1

Well, Day 1 did not go as I planned!  I'm not sure what I thought would happen, but the truth is that nothing much did happen.  On the surface at any rate.

I spent the day in a mild state of anxiety.  I was desperate for some sign that they had arrived, something on which to pin my faith.  A spiritual crutch, if you like.  And none came. 

As the day wore on, my long-standing reaction to anxiety emerged: comfort eating.  Comfort eating is different to ordinary eating in at least three ways: I eat more rubbish food than normal, I don't want to stop eating, and I feel very guilty. 

This is one of the parts of myself I dislike most.  Why can't I learn to feel more calm?  Why can't I find a more positive way to deal with anxiety? This, I thought, was hardly putting my best foot forward: how would I prove I was worthy of miracles and transformations if all they saw was the parts of me that are 'unhealed', the parts that I'd rather keep in the shadows? 

As the day progressed and nothing happened, I had to look at myself rather than searching outside myself.  Some writing in the sky, or a shimmering vision would have eased my worries, but it wasn't to be.  I had to look inward.

There's nothing comfortable about facing our shadows.  In fact, it is ironic that, as I wrestled with feeling a failure - my lack of faith compounded by my 'negative' reaction to that lack of faith - I did find peace.  But only when I really accepted that I wasn't sure they were here and that I was upset that the first part of me they saw was my shadow side.  Once I could accept all of that, and not try to change it, then I found peace. 

 It's easy to look for 'glamorous' miracles, and it's easy to like our nice parts.  Accepting and finding peace with the knobbly, shadow sides of our personality is so much harder.  Experiencing that, even if for just a short while, made that part of me feel more acceptable - and what I was able to accept (in however small a way) gave me a deeper understanding of divine love, of being loved exactly as I am.

Looking back, perhaps that was the miracle in the first day.  I feel they accepted me as I am and were offering me the opportunity to do that for myself. 

Tuesday 15 February 2011

The Archangels' Visit

I spent three days cleaning our home.  That's more a reflection of trying to juggle baby-minding with housework than the size of our home: or its dirtiness! 

The Archangels were coming to visit us for five days.

It's hard to imagine, but just one week ago, I read an article about five Archangels visiting a woman in the States.  She said that it was possible, with the help of a few rituals, for them to visit anyone.  I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of this incredible event and, before I knew it, she told me they were arriving in five days.

I counted down the days.  The hours.  Finally, it was just minutes.  One last wash of the kitchen floor.  Then I hovered by the front door, filled with excitement.  Indeed, when I finally opened the front door, at 9pm precisely, I was so excited that I think I actually expected to see them standing there.

After welcoming them in, as described in the ritual, I wondered if I was just imagining it. 
"Are they here?" Dirk' asked.
"Yes", I replied, though I was a little uncertain.  I had no proof: I was acting on pure faith.  We sat there awkwardly for a few minutes, not quite sure what to do next.  The minutes slipped past and we relaxed back into our evening.  Nothing seemed different.

Were they really here?  It seemed too monumental a happening for mere mortals to experience.  Nothing appeared to change that night, but it was just the beginning of the journey...

Note: please excuse the lack of an image - they were shy about being photographed!

Thursday 10 February 2011

Can my son see angels?

Yesterday I was doing an exercise that involved calling on Archangel Michael.  As the process progressed, I could feel an enormous amount of energy on my right hand side. 

My eyes were closed but I had the distinct 'knowing' that if I opened my eyes, I'd get confirmation that the work had been done.  As I opened my eyes, I saw my three month old son craning his neck to look up, as if staring into space, towards my right.  He was transfixed for about a minute - which is a long time at that age!

I believe in angels and our ability to perceive them clearly when we are children, but it gets shrouded as we get older.  I do hope that James will be able to continue to see the intimate connection between the physical and spiritual worlds as he grows.

Friday 4 February 2011

The Inner Angel

Recently, I've been wondering how would we know if we met an angel on the street.  How would they be different to humans?  Even if they were disguised as humans...

I think they would be different in two ways: first, when talking to us, they would be utterly present to what we are saying.  They would not be lost in their story, thinking of something else or even their own response.  They would listen deeply.

As a result of their inner clarity, I imagine, we would feel completely seen and heard; that what we had to say, no matter how mundane, mattered enormously.  And it is very seldom in life that we get such complete undivided attention, that we experience just how much we matter, and how important each and every one of us is.  I think that experience alone would be enormously healing and soothing.

The second way they would be different from us is that they would approach every situation with love.  Most interactions, I find, are frequently besmudged with defensiveness, critical thoughts or absent-mindedness.  How intoxicating would it feel to experience love and acceptance when meeting an angel?

It strikes me that these characteristics are not beyond the scope of human behaviour.  They would require us to be present, to be care-full and attentive in our interactions with others, but they are not impossible: we could do it. 

Then, in one day, I read in two different places, that angels are an aspect of every human being.  That we all have an inner angel.  Perhaps they are an aspect of our soul.  Or the blueprint of who we can be when we are living to our highest potential; maybe they exist within us as gracefully and quietly as the oak lives within the acorn as it grows...

It's not such a far-fetched idea as it may first appear.  How wonderful that within each of us is an angel, and our job may be - not to become angels - but simply stop getting in our own way.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Sticky Stories

My day is made up of stories.  As I've played with the concept of non-resistance, I've become aware that stories are the very fabric of my day.  Events do not matter half as much as my thoughts about those events - my stories.

It is rather sad, but I realise that most of the stories are 'failure stories', not success stories.  When something goes right, I forget it almost immediately. What I dwell on are the moments that didn't go the way I wanted them to go, when I, or others, failed to live up to my meta-story.

Pema Chodron notes that some stories are stickier than others.  She's right!

A lightly sticky story is when something happens, I get caught in it, I resist what is.  However, soon after, I become aware that I'm stuck and that I'm going over the story in my head repeatedly.  That is distance, I'm no longer totally identified with my story at that point, and I'm able to take a step back.  I can let go of my resistance and accept the 'imperfection' of that story, and the moment that didn't conform to my idea of how that story should unfold.  That is success!

The cutting edge is when I'm totally lost in the story.  When I'm so lost in my story that it and I are one.  For me, this happens most frequently around body issues - seeing myself in a mirror can plunge me headlong into pain and remorse that I've put on weight.  This pain is raw, it consumes me (which is ironic!).  When it arises, I'm lost to it.  I can't be gentle and forgiving with my body (much less the story of my body).  I am utterly stuck in resistance and self-disgust. 

Increasingly, I'm becoming aware of when I get trapped in these emotions, in the story of my failure.  I see the storyline repeat itself endlessly in my head, I feel the immense pain my sense of failure causes, but I can't get any further.  I'm not yet at the point where I can be non-resistant to what is.  I'm not yet able to be gentle and compassionate with myself, or with my body which had a baby just three months ago. 

When the emotional malstrom eventually eases, then I can find some kindness, but not in the moment. 

We all have Sticky Stories, situations that distress us so deeply that we are lost in our story of "How It Should Be". 

In their ever-compassionate, rational manner, Buddists suggest that we not beat ourselves up about this, but rather celebrate every tiny moment when, after the storm passes, we can see that we were beautifully, gloriously stuck!  That too is success!