Those of us here in the southern hemisphere are slipping into winter. The wind blows starkly off distant snow-covered mountains, the chill startling for we soft coastal-dwellers. It snowed not far from here during the week. The other day while my son trained for soccer, my daughter rode her birthday bike along the riverside footpath heading straight into the antarctic breeze. The clouds, stripped of all softness, rode high and dark across the sky, sending our gaze skyward to check for rain. None came though – the air was too cold to rain. After watching my son and his mates run after a round ball for an hour, short sleeved in the frigid air, I bought them hot chips for the car trip home, hands and bellies warmed – and hearts too. A warm shower, a hot cocoa, a lit up fireplace – these are the little luxuries of winter. I like it 🙂
There are other processes at work at this time of the year – we begin the inner journey as the year winds down towards the winter solstice, and this is amplified in the dark moon period before a new moon – which this month will be in Taurus, always a eventful time in our family. Our gaze turns inwards at these times and we come face to face with ourselves. This can be confronting and disturbing, to say the least, even if you, like me, pay regular attention to the journey of the spirit. I came face to face with myself (again) this week, and I didn’t really like what I saw. I didn’t like the way that I keep putting myself and my own needs last, how I blame other people for treating me how I treat myself and how little I think I deserve.
I used to think my self esteem was strong, and it is, as long as I think I am being useful to other people. The ground starts to get shaky when I want to focus on things that are just for me – like yoga say, or writing, or even a long desired University degree. Over the past few years I have worked through the feelings of guilt I have about putting time aside for these activities. Mostly, to avoid feeling guilty, I do these things early in the morning, before anyone gets up and wants me. As I have gotten better at prioritising my time, I will even write in the middle of the day when the children are at school and I am not working, like today for instance. I worked in the morning and now the house needs cleaning, there is dirty washing in the washing basket and there is my son’s birthday dinner to be planned and prepared. But I have carved out this time on a Friday afternoon to write the first half of this blog, and I give that to myself, willingly.
However, last weekend I discovered that I have not conquered this feeling of undeserving within me, I just work around it, avoiding it if I can. Sometimes though, I have to face it head on, and I have to battle through the guilt and fear. If I choose to not do that, to go the path of least resistance, then I will have to battle through grief and anger and shame, which believe me, is worse. Last weekend, as you may know, was smack in the middle of the Festival of the Cow. My daughter had her birthday party after school on Friday, my son had his first soccer game of the season on Saturday, plus we needed to buy my daughter’s birthday present – her new bike. Sunday was Mother’s Day. In a separate but interlocking world, I also had a local writer’s gathering to attend. I had paid the small attendance fee, reserved my place in the workshops that I wanted to attend – but logistically, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to accomplish my family duties as well as go to this writer’s event. I also didn’t know how to ask for any of it, so I didn’t. I just sort of hoped that it would all work out.
By Saturday morning, it became clear that it wasn’t going to just work out – and in fact, I wouldn’t be going at all. At first, I was angry at the Bear. I wanted it to be his fault – he should have been more helpful, easier to approach, more supportive. And then, although I wanted to pass the blame I knew in my heart that it was actually my fault for not prioritising my own needs, for not believing that I deserved to go to this event that had collided with the needs of my family. Not only had I let myself down, but I had let down the members of my writers group. Intense shame and grief wrapped itself around me, curling its tendrils around my heart and stomach. I felt like I weighed a ton, but at the same time I felt so insubstantial that a child’s breath could have dissolved me.
I wondered, as I slogged through the emotional quicksand of this week, if I was perhaps not just carrying my own grief but that of the women who came before me who did not have the opportunities I have – but all of the thwarted desire. In some way, I have the opportunity to lift all of us up by honouring and prioritising the needs of my spirit alongside that of my wife/mother/daughter/community/work selves. I need to take not just one risk on myself, but many, and not just in the early morning before the kids wake up, or in stolen hours while they are at school. I need to show myself that I am worthy of the highest possible investment of time, energy and money. I need to not back down from what I need to do. I need to take full responsibility for my life and the way that I want it to unfold. I need to be clear on what matters and what doesn’t, and make my decisions accordingly. Because if I don’t, who will?
Have you taken full responsibility for your life yet? Or like me, do you often put your own needs aside for the sake of others? Let us not do this any more, my friends. Let us find the life we need to live, and then go and live that beautiful life with all of our heart and soul.
Best Short Read
Life’s GPS: The Connection Between Creativity, Purpose, & Soul by Julie Daley for Unabashedly Female
Creativity is alive. Purpose is alive. That which keeps us from being creative and purposeful is stuck and stagnant.
In this image, I can see so clearly how important trust is – the trust of both what lies within me and my ability to hear it and act from it, as well as the knowing that every other human being also is creative and also has a deep well of creativity within them.
I see how often my attempts to understand my purpose, my reason for being alive, have insidiously come from looking to others, or my own Voice of Judgment, for information, validation, or ideas on what this purpose might be. Looking out there isn’t the same as true mirroring from those who know you and really listen to you. Effective mirroring can be a source. But, ultimately, even mirroring must be checked against the knowing that comes from an alive and trusting relationship with one’s soul.
And, I see it is a choice. It is always a choice. Sometimes, I go unconscious in the choosing process, and choose out of fear of humiliation, abandonment, rejection…. like everyone else. We are meant to be in relationship and community. Our minds can get squirrelly when we think we won’t be.
This image began appearing after beginning to engage in direct dialogue with my soul, which isn’t the easiest of tasks. But, I did hear her clearly, after asking the question, “How do I begin to follow your lead in my life?” Her response? “Don’t make anything more important than me!” (exclamation point mine!!!)
To read more, click here.
What people without children do not understand…this had me cackling and grinning – a wonderful comedic ode to parenthood 🙂
An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.
“How does it taste?” the master asked.
“Bitter,” said the apprentice.
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”
“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.
“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.
“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
BB King passed away this week at 89. I’m not sad – he had a good long life and I’m sure he was ready to leave. I’m very grateful though, that he left us the legacy of his music. What a gift to the world.
So here we are at the end of the Festival of the Cow. I had my birthday this week, and I managed to lift myself out of my emotional quagmire and have an enjoyable day, helped up by my lovely family and friends. The kids gifted me a massage (which I was lucky enough to be able to have on my actual birthday), plus the Bear gave me tickets for the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival which is coming up soon. I had breakfast with a friend before she started work, a cuppa and a chat with another friend, that delicious massage and then home to a meal cooked by the Bear. Lucky huh?
My son turned 11 yesterday (what?). More than anything else, he wanted a new guitar…
Have a beautiful week everyone ❤
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