A change of heartWednesday, 17 February 2016
I had a goal and I made a plan. And there was no doubt I wouldn’t achieve it.
It was a good one I thought. Something to focus on – a direction. Somewhere to go.
It would help me heal. The combination of purpose, engagement, action and time would have a positive effect on my health and wellness and my life would again be ok.
But it hasn’t. And it’s not.
For months now I’ve watched my body sink further and further into decline. The symptoms the worst they’ve been in years.
And for months I’ve tried desperately to hold it together and stick with plan – I had a goal. And I wasn’t prepared to give it up.
But life had other ideas. What’s that saying – life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans…
Life was happening, by way of chronic debilitating pain and ill-health. And it was time I woke up to that. It was time to let go of my plan and get on with my life.
The plan I am speaking of was to write a thesis and attain a Masters in Creative Writing. I was going to delve into the nature of healing and, using my own experience of pain and illness, write a memoir of the journey and the learnings I had made.
This was what I thought I wanted.
I thought I wanted to do a thesis.
I thought I wanted to write a memoir.
I thought this would help me. I thought this would heal me.
But what did my heart have to say?
I went ahead, as you know, with the thesis and Masters project and have spent countless hours reading, writing, wondering, exploring, hoping… but to no avail.
“All you have to do is re-connect with your original purpose”, I thought. I thought.
But I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how determined I was to not give up my goal, my plan, I couldn’t make it work.
My heart just wasn’t in it. And I don’t think it ever was.
No wonder I couldn’t re-connect with my original intent and purpose, because it wasn’t in my heart – it had come from my mind.
The logical, rational part of me thought it knew best. And I listened.
But my heart knew better.
I now have a new plan.
I don’t know where it’s going, or where it will take me, but it’s coming from the place that knows.
And that feels good.
New year’s revolutionThursday, 28 January 2016
It was a simple accident. A slip of the tongue.
On New Year’s Day my son asked, in all the glory of his teenage absentmindedness, was I making any new year’s revolutions.
Not resolutions. Revolutions.
I laughed. And so did he. But his innocent faux pas has been plaguing my mind since that first morning of this brand new year.
You see every January, for years now, I’ve had this feeling come over me.
It’s a mixture of longing and loneliness. It’s the world going back to work and jobs and careers and callings and me still not really knowing where to be or what to do.
Every December I hope that it will be different – that January will be what it is supposed to be: playful and light – the days tinged with a gentle anticipation of what the year ahead may hold; my mind and heart buoyed by the nature of the new and open to possibility.
But it’s not.
All I can think about is the deficit. And the sense of urgency to get on with fulfilling my purpose here on earth.
But where? And doing what? When will I know? I just want to know!
And that’s the problem – I just want to know.
I’m not comfortable with uncertainty.
That’s the whole premise of the seeker – she searches for answers because she just wants to know. She thinks that with knowing, comes safety. And security. And then she will be ok, and she can get on with her life.
But it doesn’t work that way.
She will have to trust. That the universe knows.
And that she will know when the time is right.
This is the revolution she needs.
Tell them with loveMonday, 21 December 2015
I’m in the middle of reading a book about writing.
That may sound strange to you – to read about writing – but it’s one of my true loves.
Right now it’s also my life line – the only thing keeping me afloat as I struggle with the lack of words I’m putting on the page.
They’re there, I know they are. But where to start? And what to say?
The author talks about a friend of hers who wrote a memoir that caused great unrest among her family. She recalls seeing her interviewed and when asked about her family’s response to the book, this is what she said:
“I believe that we don’t choose our stories. Our stories choose us. And if we don’t tell them, then we are somehow diminished.”
This admonition hit the author hard. I felt it too, so much so, that I wanted to put the book down and explore what those words, that idea, that our stories choose us, might mean for me.
But the author had me hooked – I wanted to know what she made of it – how it applied to her writing life. What was it it about being ‘diminished’ that felt like a blow to the chest, a knife to the heart…
I read on, her words cradling a quote I have seen a dozen times before. A quote that brings me to my knees every time I read it. A quote that begs that I turn inward and face the truth of my reality :
“If we bring forth what is within us, it will save us. If we do not bring forth what is within us, it will destroy us.”
My eyes stung hot with tears. My shoulders sagging with the weight of my own betrayal.
The rest of the paragraph went by in a blur, but it was it her last sentence that had me put the book down:
“A writer afraid of her own subject – whatever that may be – is a frozen creature, trapped in the inessential. Diminished.”
She was talking about me.
For months now you have seen me struggle to get the words out – to tell the stories that have touched me, challenged me, changed me.
Why? Why has it become so hard I wonder? What’s really at stake here?
Since when did I decide to let your opinion of me and my words matter more than my want, my need, my yearning, to express what’s in my heart and my soul?
If I don’t bring forth what’s within me, and share it with the world, then the misery will continue. And so will the pain – in my gut and in my heart.
If it’s true – that our stories choose us and that we need to tell them or risk feeling diminished – then there’s only one thing left to do.
Tell them with courage.
Tell them with love.
Because I wouldn’t be who I am without them. And because I can’t bare to feel this smallness anymore.
No way with wordsTuesday, 24 November 2015
I’m a novice when it comes to doing my daughter’s hair.
I shouldn’t be – she’s had it for 12 years!
But she’s always been content with a pony tail or a plait. Simple. Practical. Do-able. Until now.
Now she longs for her hair to be braided. And after years of telling her I can’t, I have decided to try.
I’m pleased to say that my first two attempts were successful. No tears. No-one got hurt. They were even good enough to wear in public!
But this morning was a different story.
I don’t know if it was the pressure of time and school but this morning I just couldn’t make it happen.
I tried back-tracking – letting the last few rows go to see if I could regain my flow, but I just couldn’t bring it together.
She sensed it. And then she let fly. Her frustration and disappointment at my lack of skill were strewn across the living room as she stormed toward the bathroom.
I’m still learning I pleaded. I haven’t had enough practice!
I could feel my own frustrations build as I heard her start to cry.
I followed her, wanting to make it better, but instead began my usual tirade of wanting to be right, disputing her irrational claims of my poor performance and poor timing.
When I got to the bathroom I saw her pain: she was sobbing and frantically brushing her hair, trying to make it into the perfect pony.
I could’ve gone on, about how ridiculous her behaviour was, how unrealistic her expectations were, how incredulous to get so upset so close to school, but for once I didn’t want to win with words. I just wanted to win her back.
Rather than continue on the path of no return, the one that can only ever lead to devastation and destruction, I did what I don’t usually do – I let my need to be right go. And instead, I just loved.
I hugged her and held her.
She fought it at first – her own need to be right wanted to be heard. But with each deep, steady, slow breath she began to let go too, and succumbed to the love that I so often hadn’t offered.
I hugged her and held her like never before, and let love do what it does – heal. Her hurt and mine. Her heart and mine.
A different kind of doTuesday, 10 November 2015
My list of things to do is getting longer by the minute.
A significant birthday belonging to my significant other and our desire to celebrate it has me planning and organising and sorting and shopping like it’s Christmas. (I know…don’t get me started…lets just do one event at a time!)
Don’t get me wrong – I love hosting a little ‘do’. It gives me something ‘to do’.
You see, I’m a do-er by nature. I love do-ing. It gives me a sense of purpose and on some level, renders me important (in my own mind at least).
And I’m good at it. I’m good at prioritising and tactics and time and working logically and methodically through the list and oh, the satisfaction of ticking things off as I’ve done them..!
But I’ve lost my oomph. My enthusiasm to complete ‘Today’ has dwindled as has my urgency to get a head-start on ‘Tomorrow’.
Why? I wondered. But not for long.
A conversation with a friend just a few hours earlier about my writing (or lack there-of) came to the fore.
No, I wasn’t writing regularly. Privately or publicly. Neither. None.
Just my to-do lists.
What’s going on? Where is my enthusiasm, my drive, my inspiration?
The Sage stepped in…
It’s all there Gena, you just have to let yourself.
Let myself what?
Let yourself write. Let yourself means give yourself the time and space to sit at the desk and wait for the words to fill the page. They will. They always do. They are waiting…but you are too busy for you and what is in your heart.
Don’t say that. It makes me cry.
It makes you cry because it’s true. It’s not your priority because you haven’t made it your priority. You still fear what people will say, how they will react. You still don’t trust.
Yes. My friend mentioned the word fear this morning too.
And now that I think about it, this is what I notice I do: I ‘do’.
‘Do-ing’ is an antidote to feeling the fear of putting myself ‘out there’.
I make lists, and lots of them, and convince myself that I’m busy – too busy to write at the moment. And in a sense, I am: I’ve got a big party in my home in four days and visitors to accommodate and…and…BUT: it’s just a decoy. A distraction. Something else to focus on so that I don’t have to write.
But you love writing…I hear you say. But it still scares me.
So I play it safe.
But playing it safe is also playing it small.
If I stay ‘here’, buried in the busy-ness I don’t have to put myself ‘out there’.
And what’s ‘out there’?
Well, ‘out there’ is potential ridicule and rejection. Judgment and criticism. And that’s what scares me. ‘Safe’ is small and small is ‘known’- I’m in the zone of comfort. But I’m noticing this place of safety is starting to become uncomfortable. It’s just as Anais Nin said:
And the day came
when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took
My heart aches to live and speak and act in accordance with it’s true purpose – and it’s got nothing to do with completing the to-do list for the party.
No. My heart longs to work on a different to-do list; the to-do list of my Soul.