Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The best place to see the light is in the dark

'Just when I could bear it no longer came something amazing- clarity, hope and a vision of something bright and wonderful, something that makes my heart flutter.'

I was offended a few weeks ago when a certain practitioner referred to my 'inner turmoil' during a session, which he suggested affects my energy flow and essentially my well-being. I didn't blame him for saying it, I was just confronted by the words. He said it so matter of fact, like it was plain to see. No one has ever said such a thing to me, well not so directly. It took about three weeks for me to come to terms with it; I didn't dwell on it, but it sat uncomfortably. The way in which I eventually came to terms with his comment involved my inner turmoil peaking to the point that I could hardly bear it any longer. I wished I had some drugs to make it go away, but Nurofen plus and anti-thyroid drugs hardly cut it and I don't do drugs anyway- apart from alcohol. Hours later I chose to 'do' alcohol. I needed some relief, space from the intensity of the emotions running rampant, hormones egging them on. I knew I was reaching a critical point, I was sick and tired of how things had been and frustrated, confused and scared. I felt overwhelmed with no real answers.

Before you ask, no I haven't been meditating lately...and yes I think I probably need to return to that practice. I'm not really trying to read your mind, you're probably not wondering about my meditative practice at all, it's just my conscience speaking loud and clear and perhaps it's mixed with some advice from my 'wise one' on my inner.

Anyway, I blew off some steam with organic rose and some loud music, oh and a few verbal blows in the direction of the boyfriend. Lucky for both of us he could withstand the force of the storm just long enough until it passed. Most women would understand that when the gales of our emotions whip up and combine with a hormonal surge that only a woman knows, that we're a real force to be reckoned with. The best that we can hope for in such times is that when the storm passes there's been minimal damage. Luckily I awoke yesterday morning feeling alot better and all of a sudden ok with the concept of 'inner turmoil'.

Perhaps that's not the whole truth, the rose and loud music did not make me feel all of a sudden ok, but I'd found a new story about inner turmoil and it had settled things for me. My new story goes something like this: Inner turmoil keeps things moving, it can wake you up when you're not seeing something for what it is, inner turmoil drives some of the best artists and creative talent we've ever seen. When we're stirred up inside we get restless and it moves us and those around us in different ways. Sure I'd probably prefer to be moved by something more fluffy, more pink and love like- oh how perfect it would be. But that perfectionism is not necessarily helpful, it's one of the things that I'll probably work with for the rest of this lifetime, when I say work with I mean 'do battle with' and try to keep in check. It's very sneaky and pushes and pulls to get it's own way, consequently it creates inner turmoil effortlessly.

The more I resisted the imperfectness of the turmoil and the prickly abrasive feelings on the inside the stronger they seemed to get. They say that what we resist persists; it sure does! So I made peace with inner turmoil, rather than berating myself I simply found a new perspective, a more compassionate and realistic one, my new story about inner turmoil tells me that some of the very best creative work ignites from this place. The main thing is not to keep it inside for long so as to avoid an explosion or implosion of some kind. It's essential to find a way to make it ok, tell yourself a little story about it that makes you feel better, normalise it and find strength in knowing just how human you are! This applies to anything you're judging right now, you get to choose the story, throw out the old book and write a new one. The new story and acceptance meant I became open to a shift, divine intervention.

Through a sudden infusion of charism, your inability to make sense of life's challenges, coupled with the emotional weight of feeling as if you are living without purpose or direction is transformed into the knowledge that each movement in your life is divinely ordered. Myss 2001.

Just hours after my acceptance of the 'inner turmoil' concept being applicable to moi something shifted. Just when I could bear it no longer came something amazing- clarity, hope and a vision of something bright and wonderful, something that makes my heart flutter. It was something I'd known all along, but had been to afraid to believe in, to know. In order to find it I'd had to get lost, I'd had to face the fear of not knowing in order to know how amazing it is to actually 'know', to understand that I must not give up on what I want and  need. This month I wrote a post suggesting that 'I don't know' is the new black, in recent times I have donned the black attire and gone deep. I've felt the pain and sadness and wished for the old and familiar, for something I could know for sure and wrap myself in to feel safe. I felt like I was living in this dark space of nothingness, yet filled with vast potential and it was out of necessity, not choice. It was thanks to the scary, lonely and confronting darkness that eventually I was able to see the light. When it appeared it shone out as clear as day and I recognised it as truth because tears began to fall. The greatest sign of a beautiful truth, of real love, is that it can move you to tears.

When your life plans are suddenly interrupted, you can choose to view that event as a 'contract intervention' rather than a crisis. What symbolic vision gives you above all is choice- the choice to see events as arbitrary and antaganostic, or as blessings that are part of a plan in which you have some say. Myss 2001.

When I was counselling women that sometimes happened, one or both of us would get a tear in our eye or a shiver down our spine when a significant 'truth' had been realised. Another amazing thing about the presence of truth is that when it comes it can appear in the simplest of forms. For me it started with the title of a book at the library leaping off the shelf at me, which then became books...which evolved miraculously to become a story in itself, a story of the future and the past that showed me something real in the present moment. I'm talking about my future direction here, I hesitate to use the C word, let's call it Vocation for now.

Vocations can be many things: They may be calls to do something (become self-employed, go back to school, leave or start a relationship...) or calls to be something (more creative, less judgmental, more loving, less fearful). They may be calls to or away from something; calls to change something, review our commitment to it, or come back to it in an entirely new way; calls towards whatever we've dared...ourselves to do for as long as we can remember.... Gregg Levoy (Myss 2001).

(I can not believe just how accurate this explanation of Vocation is in the context of my life right now).

I guess that the dark and the inner turmoil has it's purpose. Although I said earlier that it would be nice to be moved by pink fluffy love rather than the tragic 'inner turmoil', it leads me to ponder if they're not one and the same? I suspect that the love and light was wearing a dark black cape, it was disguised and I didn't always know what it was, but that's the whole point of this illusionary world. Right? Once in a blue moon we have this kind of an experience, where we go swimming in the depths of darkness just so as we will be able to recognise the light for what it is, lest confusion gives us a break..

The above quotes are referenced from Caroline Myss's book 'Sacred Contracts'. I have just begun reading this amazing book and each and every page thus far is full of wisdom so relevant to my life and recent experiences. As I read I was excited to find several passages that further explained what I had written about in this blog post yesterday, so I have added them in where I think they fit best.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Facing Fatigue

Yuck, I don't like the word fatigue, it makes me feel tired and weak. I'm feeling a bit that way anyway today, fatigue seems to have crept in to my life increasingly in the past two or so weeks. I'm no stranger to fatigue, it's been a part of my life for atleast a year and in the last 8 or so months it's been a serious hurdle to being able to live life as I'd like to. My mind will have an idea about what I'd like to do, I then have to consult my body and we either do it regardless of low energy and just push through because I really want to do it. Or my body decides it's all too much effort and I stay still and rest. The last couple of days it seems that pushing through would just be unkind and way way too hard, so I've been fairly still. Feeling this way truly isn't fun, but I recognise that my best chance of feeling well right now is to accept that it is what it is, not to delve into 'what's wrong with me?' and getting grumpy with my body. So this morning I decided to choose gratitude for what is, I think about why I'm lucky, why things are just fine...and that's all there is to it.

I also went outside for some fresh air and sun (through the clouds), I admired my plants and how much they've grown with the rain, I listened to the birds song and realised that I'd never truly appreciated the sounds they make, I'd just not felt an appreciation for it and hadn't been able to force it. Today it was nice to hear the birds and for the first time I understood why my Mum comments on enjoying listening to the birds. I picked some of my mint and brought it inside and made some mint tea. I took my herbs from the Naturopath which are meant to pep me up and some magnesium which does wonders. For my morning tea I chose almonds and a banana over my home made cake to avoid sugar and to boost my energy with some nutrient dense food, I'm committed to nurturing my body today. I hope the fatigue will fade and energy and strength will emerge.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Find Joy

'Get back into the flow of life, find the joy' were the words of advice my Naturopath offered on Friday. Your new mantra is 'I have excellent health, I am in balance' she told me. It was just the inspiration I needed and I decided to do it fairly quickly. I contacted a friend who I'd been wanting to catch up with and organised a night out in Chapel St at a cool bar/restaurant where they do an amazing cocktail. The boyfriend came too and we had a great dinner and plenty of conversation. I referred to it as my Saturday night debut, because I haven't really been out in the city like that for quite a while.

I found joy in just being there, in amongst it and feeling just fine. I found joy in the moments where my boyfriend missed the point in conversation with my friend and said something typically male. For example, she told us she was thinking about the possibility of her fairly new boyfriend moving in with her when she moves into the place she's bought next year. She spoke of the idea with a level of hesitation, which other women read as seeking some advice or reassurance and then we then promptly offer the said reassurance or gently probe for further information. Before I'd had a chance to do any such thing my boyfriend quickly contributed to the conversation with some financial advice 'You could get him on the lease and negatively gear it' he suggested.' I had to laugh, he had completely skipped past the discussion about how she felt about the idea, the pros and cons, worries or hopes and offered a logical viewpoint to ensure she knew it would be a financially viable move.

We continued on, catching up on family and friends, discussing the future, sharing thoughts on marriage and babies as comes up amongst women. Some stories shared were a little sad, relationships not working, closeted sexuality, same-sex marriage but very much a normal part of dinner conversation when girlfriends catch up. The boyfriend after some time felt compelled to ask why we discuss 'such depressing things' so my friend attempted to change the topic to cricket. I was impressed with her level of skill in doing so, as I really could have come up with nothing on the topic myself. The cricket conversation faded out very quickly and turned to eating disorders, where the boyfriend chimed in with a suggestion that KFC would be a quick fix, because it's so delicious I guess?

Although it was a bit tricky finding common ground for discussion, we mostly gave up and just left the boyfriend to interject with jokes or inappropriate comments wherever he felt the need and ensured his drink didn't stay empty for long. I found joy in the evening, alot of joy. To have dinner and drinks with a great friend and my boyfriend in a classy bar/restaurant was awesome. It was nice that the two of them got to know each other bettter and even though I subjected the boyfriend to some ridicule on the train home about his comments, I did really find him very amusing and he made for a good laugh throughout the night. I also made a note to self to avoid putting him in that situation again, particularly when the friend and I have so much to catch up on.

So that was my joy, yesterday. I also went for a walk in the sun and loved it. Today my joy involved watching Gossip Girl and reading the paper. It's only 3pm, I've got plenty of time to find more. I might even bake a cake and en-joy a slice!

What brings you Joy?

Not in the mood for Joy today? Over the whole trying to be happy deal? You must read Sarah Wilson's latest article where she talks about the benefits of not being happy. You'll feel like you've been given permission to turn that smile into a frown once you're done.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Is 'I don't know' the new black?

So I decided it's about time I blogged, apart from the fact that I feel like writing, I also think it's about time I did. I have been out wandering in my local suburb, enjoying the sun, stopping for a bit to eat and feeling increasingly inspired. As I sat at lunch, on my own, which funnily enough has become one of my favourite things to do; I observed two women sharing some documents that had patches of colour on them. They appeared to be doing some kind of creative business, they also seemed to be friends. I liked how it looked, two creative women having a really good time and doing business. I observed something inside saying 'I want some of that', I also recognised that it's something I have experienced before. I like how it used to feel, spending time with a friend/colleague sharing ideas and inspiration, I like how it feels when I think about it being a part of my future.

Perhaps my opening paragraph seems general or a little vague, but that's ok, right? It's ok to sometimes just sit with thoughts, feelings and impressions without having to summise or make conclusions. This is one of the ways we can allow things to unfold organically, rather than forcing, pushing, over thinking. This is exactly how my blog posts are written, it's why I often begin with a pretty vague and open paragraph, because I really have little clue what I'm going to write, I just let it flow and at the end I am often surprised at what I've written. I usually think, oh ok, not what I thought I might write, but obviously what I needed to. I think they call it automatic writing. I've been practising this 'allowing' lately, just allowing myself to experience things as they are, to do a little research and then just sit with it, go with the flow. All of this is about how the next little while is going to unfold for me and the direction I'll take when it comes to work, to life. I'm starting from scratch, I've recently moved to a new suburb, I have no job and my health is not yet strong enough for me to look for work. What am I to do but dream a little?

I don't have any definitive answers to the question posed by others which is something like 'what now?' or 'what will you do for work?'. I'm glad to only have ideas though, rather than being freaked out by the unknown I am truly embracing it. Consequently others might be a little freaked themselves. I recognise that they themselves would be worried if they were in my situation, but what they don't know is that this is how I roll...or at least how I'd like to. It's sort of hard to explain this to someone who's never really contemplated this type of an aproach to their future.

I have some visions and impressions of how things could be, they're developing as I write- as I stroll in the sun and as I speak to inspired people. I have ideas on how I'll make my visions become reality, but I'm in the brainstorming phase right now, and we can't rush a creative process. My intention since I've been unwell is that my life will never be the same again, that things won't look or be the same. It's no surprise that a creative process is essential to support my intentions to come into fruition.

I won't deny that it would be nice to give a confident and concrete answer when the question of 'what are you going to do?' is posed because that would make things easy in the moment the question is asked. But it would also mean disregarding my wise one and disappointing my heart, consequently dampening my Inner Beam; which in the long run just creates sickness and misery. So I think that 'I don't know' just became the new black, and we all know that black can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Living in the moment

The time is always now.

This morning I was looking forward to a sleep in, to wake only when I was ready. The boyfriend was up and gone early and I heard nothing of it, but it can't have been much later when my sleep in plan was ruined by an alarm. My alarm, I hadn't switched it off and it woke me at 7:55am. I considered going back to sleep, but was disturbed by a fly buzzing, trapped behind the curtains. I rest a little and got up, putting off the sleep-in I've been dreaming about until tomorrow.

It's been a big few weeks for me, after atleast two months doing little other than hanging out on the couch and milestones that involved being able to drive a car to a Dr's appointment and hanging washing out, I was looking at much bigger things coming my way. The first was moving back to Melbourne, leaving the safety and support of my parents and beginning to fend for myself, with some help from the boyfriend. Driving was no longer just around the corner as it was in the country, it was often trips of 15km or more. I became responsible for feeding myself again, thinking about what I needed in advance, purchasing ingredients and preparing. The list of such mundane day to day tasks goes on, you know what I'm talking about. I had a week to get used to looking after myself in Melbourne until I would be tested again, boarding a plane to Queensland and having a week long holiday there. I was a little nervous about such relatively significant things happening and the demand I'd be placing on my mind, body and emotions.

I had troubles stopping the worries about all of the action that was looming in my very near future, though it was all exciting, I worried how my body would cope after being sidelined for some time now. One of the most helpful things I have been able to do to reassure myself in such times of worry is to focus on the present moment. I ask myself, is everything ok right now? Often when I check, I smile, because everything is perfectly fine in the present moment and I am ok. Spending some time focussing on how 'ok' I am right here and now really helps me to feel a sense of calm and peace. Sarah Wilson wrote an excellent piece on this very topic recently called Is everything going to be ok?  it came at a time where I was getting caught up in all the less positive things and had lost contact with that part of me that is eternally peaceful and ok.

So I got on that plane to Queensland and among other things I went out on a catamaran on the Whitsundays, I had my haircut, went shopping, swam in the lagoon, ate out, enjoyed coffees and read the paper, I bought books at a second hand bookshop, wrote postcards and relaxed. It was fun, I was ok. I must confess that sometimes it was tough, I got tired and grumpy. I don't want to have to admit it, but sometimes I was quite the test for my boyfriend, snapping over little things.

The gorgeous Airlie Beach

Not only does an overactive thyroid make you tired, it can make moods and emotions extra hard to deal with. My usual patience is more often absent than present. I think more than anything though I was upset with myself, I struggled to accept that I was not up to doing everything that I would like to and that I was feeling tired. At first it was unconscious, I was just grumpy and easily annoyed, but after some bath time and reflection I realised what was going on. I have heard it simpy explained in buddhist podcasts I listen to by Tara Brach when she speaks about this kind of thing, referring to it as the two arrows. She says that the first arrow is just what is, as it is eg. I can't go for a walk without becoming exhausted. The second arrow is when we place a judgment on it. eg. I am useless because I can't just go for a walk like a normal person, what a drag I am on this holiday, I should be able to just do it. Alot of this kind of stuff came up for me, after 2+ months of having very little pressure to do anything, of just being able to do exactly as I felt and with very little company, I found myself struggling with the concept that I was now spending almost all of my time with another and that my limitations often became his.

In the months prior to this I had been able to mostly manage the intensity of my moods and emotions by spending my days alone and evenings with my parents; I would rest alot and if I was still really struggling with my mood in the evening I would escape to bed and rest, the rest would make things better. It's hard to feel relaxed when you're constantly exhausted and your body is hyper and flooding with adrenaline. So all I could do to help was stay very still and take time out for myself to allow my body to calm down a little, my mood would follow. Salt baths also really helped, I found the water soothing and calming, the salts help the muscles to relax. I didn't get much time to do all of this on the holiday hence I was extra challenged by my condition. On the upside my health had improved significantly, so I was atleast able to get out and about. It's funny how sometimes we 'cope' better when we're quite unwell and incapacitated as compared to being just a bit unwell and slightly slowed down.

We returned from a fantastic week in Airlie Beach on Saturday and on Monday we moved house, the boyfriend and I have moved in together, another milestone. Moving is a tiring process, but totally for a good cause! Today is my first day to relax, I don't have to go anywhere or do anything, my old place is all tidy and goodbyes have been said. Our new place is in reasonable order and there's food in the fridge. I have a kettle and lots of yummy tea to choose from, I even have some decaf plunger coffee if I feel the need.

And today I can relax, knowing that yesterday I ticked an important task of the list in relation to my health, I had a radioactive iodine uptake scan on my thyroid. Results will arrive with my new Endocrinologist today. I shall update on this process and the news here shortly. For now, it's aurevoir.

If you like The Answer Is Writing you might also like Inner Beam.
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