Watch out… I bite!

#zombies #mentalillness #beacons #emotions 

Today is one of those days so I thought I would write about it. 

Why?

Because there are not to many people out there who know what it’s like to be in a body and head like mine and maybe, just maybe, if I share a small snippet of it someone out there might understand, or connect with it in a way that makes them feel less alone.

So I’m angry. Bitterly destructive and repulsively angry. At EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.
I am angry at the people I have been trying to build and support. I am angry at the people who have stolen my ideas and claimed them as their own achievements and innovations. I am angry at friends who are not friends. I am angry at family. I am angry at my kids and I am angry at my husband. Actually, there probably isn’t anyone in the world at the moment that I am not angry at.

  

And I feel completely betrayed. Yep, I’m the bitter victim. Unforgivably soul murdered. 

I feel like someone has stretched out their greasy disgusting self absorbed hands, tore into the exposed and bleeding flesh of my heart, and ripped it out in the most painful and agonising way for their own self gain. And everyone around has laughed and sniggered as they spit “what’s the big deal? It’s just a heart and soul… It happens to everyone. It was nothing important so just get over it… We will.” 

And IF you dare ask me, right now, I am completely justified and full of destain. All of these people have wronged me in some way that it’s ok I am so pissed. They have all used my tolerance and generosity, and taken advantage of it for their own gain. Everyone is against me and only looking out for themselves so I rightfully deserve retribution.

In my mind anyway. 

  

Well not just in my mind, but in every fibre of my being. It bleeds through my veins and floods every muscle and tendon with passion and hell fire. With every breathe the intensity of emotion is not only ignited but fanned into an all encompassing and ferocious bushfire. Like a bear tearing through flesh with its bare teeth dripping with blood.

It’s ok. You are probably thinking “ummmm ewwww….this is not rational. Completely not normal. I think she needs help.” And to some degree you are right. This isn’t rational, not for me anyway.  Usually I am relatively calm, caring, considering things very rationally and with tolerance. Balanced and understanding. But not when I am like this.

Let me emphasise not normal. 

Like in the movie Maggie. Have you seen Maggie? Maggie is a girl infected with this zombie virus and as she sniffs and inhales the scent mere centremeters from his face, she is constantly fighting the agonising inner urges of her body to avoid the tantalising enjoyment of dripping blood on her teeth from ripping out her fathers brains.  

Now you are cringing! Yes sick I know, but I am trying to help you to visualise and experience the shear intensity and overwhelming compultions of “normal” emotions that invade individuals with a mental illness such as the one I live with on a regular basis. 

And what happens next? She gently and so deliberately leans forward ever so slowly and kisses him on the forehead and walks away. Ultimate self-control.

So for one moment you to gain some flicker of understanding to the immense self control involved to be able to live a “normal” full and meaningful life. 

No. We people who live with mental illness are not virus ridden zombies ready to rip people’s brains out, or “crazy psycho murders” for that fact. Actually those labels and terms are hideously stigmatising and do not in any way help me or any individual move into a position of wellness or empowerment. Actually these experiences are so painful and torturous that if you must link us to zombies, perhaps think about how many lives of people living with mental illness end up the way Maggies did. I can attest that these experiences are nightmarish for those who have lived and endured them.

But what I am trying to say is that I have come through my Illness enough years now to know that these thoughts and overwhelming feelings that are trying to devour my life… Are for me, irrational. Like a zombie virus eating at who I am.

And in the past I have needed help. I’ve needed help from professionals to identify where this isn’t normal for me. Where it came from, how it effects my functioning, and what I can do to put structures in place to create and live the life I want. I have needed help from family to be patient and support me in my learning about my illness and myself. I have needed help by good friends and peers to support and understand at times when I am all but alienating them from my life.

  

But not normal??? On the contrary….for many many years, this has been very “normal”. And when I ignored it, it was as destructive and terminal as a rogue zombie virus would be in someone’s life. And Actually, for quite a few people, this is their normal.

And it’s not just irrational short periods of “zombie” anger and frustration. It’s also those grave dark days where all I can think about is how to harm myself, how to disappear, how to escape and finally end this constant torment that will not shut up. How to end the black and white/ on and off thinking. How to stop hurting others with my impulsiveness. It’s the days where I am so wired I cannot get my head to stop and all I can do is write and write and write every new idea and creation that comes into my head and never get rest. Or the days where I am so petrified to socialise, leave the house, talk to anyone. And the days where negative and unhelpful thoughts fill my head about how much people hate me, and are “thinking” nasty things about me and how all these things are true. That I am alone and rejected and abandoned. And the days when I am hypersexual, over eating, starving, drinking, spending….. THOSE DAYS when the inner zombie is in control.

Oh and did I tell you that can all be one day?

Sounds exhausting huh? It is!

  
 
BUT….

….even though I can’t “see” that my mind is blinding me in this moment, over time I have created signals for myself to help me regain composure and silence this thing. When I so quickly slip into these periods of time that my ship starts to run off course, I can recognise the beacons and alarms that I have personally set to remind me who I am ( not a zombie!) and to guide me back to the safe path I want to travel so I can continue to build the life I want to live.

  
These “beacons” have become my pillars to wellness.

TRUTH.

HOPE.

PURPOSE.

FAITH.

ACTION.

LOVE.

PASSION.

CREATIVITY.

BALANCE.

HEALTH.

CONNECTION.

  

Like bumpers on a bowling ally they push me back down the right direction on that ally way to hit those pins. I hit the side and suddenly think “checklist” and more times than not I find there is a box unchecked.  

I bet you are wondering if there were boxes unchecked when I hit that bumper zombie episode this time?

YES! Of course! Hindsight is beautiful isn’t it! 

I can clearly remember hearing the alarms screaming at me in the background of my tunnel vision. I couldn’t see them in my blindness them but I could hear them. Lucky I set those extra alarms. I had forgotten a couple of my routine wellness tasks. 

THAT COULD HAVE ENDED ALOT WORSE! Thank goodness for beacons.

  

And over time what I have learnt is that everyone has these beacons…. Yes…EVERYONE. 

Everyone has a boundary that stands between living well and living unwell. It might not incorporate a mental illness, maybe unwell is diabetes or cancer? Either way, the unfortunate thing is not everyone knows about them, nor have they trained themselves or others to recognise them.

The trick is to work out what YOUR beacons and bumpers look like because they WILL be different to mine. And they will help you and those around you to live a quality life with value and meaning together regardless of the circumstances. 

I know this because this zombie story is only one piece of the jigsaw that makes the tapestry of my life and I have had to set beacons all over the place to help me to manage every area to make sure I (any everyone else) stay afloat. I’m sure your life must be much the same.

  

So maybe your life can be a little (or a lot) like my situation above? Maybe you are loving and walking with someone who has gone a little (or a lot) off course? If you are one of these people I am writing this for you. 

I am not suggesting you call me, yourself or anyone you know with a mental illness a zombie. This is just a personal descriptive word that “today” I feel portrays how I feel in these moments. Next time it might be something different and I may dispise being called a zombie. Each to their own and in their own time.

I’m telling you this so you know someone else feels how you do. There are others like me who feel out of control at times and hate the way they behave, think and feel. None of those things change who we are. And if we talk about it (even the scary, embarrassing bits) maybe we can all start to be little light houses that help someone else (just one person) find their beacons and avoid those rocks. Maybe together we can set some beacons that helps our ships stay on course and maybe we can enjoy the cruise together. 💕💕

*all photo credit to Unsplash.com 

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He’s in my life and he’s Mr. Liar 

#anxiety #socialanxiety

Ever have one of those moments where you go to do something and all of a sudden you can feel your head start to get a bit faint? Those little butterflies that live deep within your gut start to awaken and flutter. The muscles in your neck start to feel a bit more tensed than usual, and with each and every effort to inhale and exhale, it feels like you are trying force a spillway of air through a quickly tightening pinhole opening provided for oxygen. 

   

Anxiety. So many of us live the minutes and hours of our days carrying within us this film of intensity that seems to live and thrive in the very pores of our skin and then awaken at the moments we want to be at our best. But for some it is more than just this little companion that pokes it head up on the odd occasion to say hello and to remind you it’s there. For some people, people like me, this companion seems to invade their thoughts, their feelings and energy more days that not. And struts through their life casually and without worry, as if it’s chief and subsequently entitled to dictate their quality of life and quench any hope of dreams or purpose.

But something I have come to learn is that although this thing we live with so deeply stains our souls and confidently displays itself as radiating in power and truth, it is actually an illusionist that in essence is aiming to prevent you from achieving that very dream and purpose that you were made for. 

And oh how it can fool us. Even I have had days (many days) where the power of its whispers have rendered me incapable to doing anything. Trapped in my own house. Trapped on my own couch. Isolated from any social occasion where any member of society could pick at what was left of my heart like crows on a rotted corps. I was protected here in my own little hut of rain, clouds and storms.

  

Or being caught in a moment, where the intensity of public exposure proves too much and you become frozen in time. Mind not working. Mouth not working. But where the illusionist flexes his muscles and intimidates you into submission resulting in silence in front of an expecting audience. I wonder if this is what it felt like for Benjamin Habib when he went before the abc news crew and was rapidly overtaken by immense anxiety?

I wanted to cry for him and say it is ok, you are not alone… Because I know that in that moment it feels like eternity with end times judgement falling on you, and it is heartbreaking. Confidence  breaking. Soul breaking.
So if I understand the devastation of this disease, and have endless compassion and empathy for someone because of mutual experience, why do I call this all powerful and very present beast an illusionist?
Because over time I have come to learn the truth.

And if something isn’t telling you the truth then it is a liar. An fraud. An illusionist.

  
I can watch a horror movie, and during that time I can feel all the usual emotions one would experience throughout this process… Fear, terror, despair, panic, uneasiness.

But never once during that movie do I get murdered. I never get raped, or kidnapped, or even attacked. My body is telling me That something bad is going to happen and that I should run and hide, but if I am brave, and I can scrape together the littlest ounce of courage in me…. I tell myself that this isn’t real, it’s just a movie. And although these things do happen in real life at times, it is not happening to me right now and is unlikely to happen to me in the near future, if ever. 

I start to speak the truth to myself. And even though every emotion and every single physical muscle in my body convincingly feels as if it should run and hide, I CHOOSE. I choose whether I want to believe the illusionists lie or the truth.

  

Now I would never profess that life is black and white. It’s not. I am an artist at heart and there is nothing more invigorating than the colours, textures and fragrances that life has to offer in all its beauty. But if the pot is black, and it is in fact black, then that’s the truth.

And this is not an absolute. Anxiety can be and is a useful tool when experienced and used within its proper boundaries. It is useful to feel a little uneasy about crossing a very busy highway because it helps you to be aware of the situation and dangers around you, and the need to watch, look and listen, and to cross the road safely. 

But I have found that in these moments of imprisionment and complete disablement, if I CHOOSE the truth, and choose to believe it and act on that belief accordingly, that little minstrel of lies shrinks ever so slightly out of its position of power. 

  

If I can dig up the finest glimmer of courage when those days come by where I am stuck at home, scared to answer the phone, scared to go out in public, scared to socialise and make friends, the finest ounce of bravery to do that thing that scares me the most, I actually unintentionally loosen those chains that have been binding me into compliance. I realise I’m a little more courageous than I originally thought, and that I CAN do more than I realise….

And what happens then? Hope springs. And hope builds courage and more hope and more courage and one day I wake up and realise that I’m not on the couch? I’m sitting at a table. I’m not in the house? I’m at a coffee shop writing my story. I’m not isolated and withdrawn from society? I’m contributing, and feasting on the support that relationship offers, I am building social networks.

  

And so I can’t help but wonder if Benjamin Habib feels more free from his chains because he has shared the burden of it with others? I wonder if you found that little spark of bravery, and shared your story, if you would slowly but surely feel that awful fog that lays upon your soul start to lift, and experience the warmth of the sunlight and a new day?

*all photo credits to Unsplash 

Like a Child

*Names have been changed for privacy.

Sitting at the airport drinking coffee recently I noticed a man sitting near me who had a young boy with him who appeared to have autism. I am familiar with this diagnosis being a mother of a daughter with a special need, who attends a special needs school and having volunteered there regularly.

  

Feeling the familiarity of the situation I watched on with understanding. The man calmly tried to smooth the young boy, attempting to sit him on chair whilst his arms and legs thrashed about, his hips pulsing forward almost in protest of the chair itself. But eventually he sat, finding some obedience and understanding to the mans very patient request. 

And I wondered how many were watching him, thinking about the diagnosis of the boy? Imagining how hard the situation must be? Relieved not to be that man? I wondered how many were watching but avoiding eye contact, trying to keep their viewing subtle so as not to be rude.

A couple of minutes went by and the man lifted the boy and placed him back on the floor, legs crossed. The boy was so much more settled and at peace on the floor. He watched as people walk by, making pleased and happy noises. And I wanted nothing more than to go and sit on the floor with him and watch people walking past too. To see from his eyes the beautiful and pleasurable things that most are unaware of. 

  

The man was so patient, accommodating the boys needs as he waved at the strangers who ignored him as he sat on the dirty, cold floor rocking back and forth, giggling and jumping with excitement. He was finally settled and the man could relax, if but for a moment, to read the newspaper.
So I went to the newsagent located in the terminal while I waited for my flight and bought the little boy a small figurine of a plane and approached the man who was with him.

“Hi, my name is Jodie, is this boy you son? Can I say hello and give him this small plane?” I asked as caringly as I could. I knew his job was tiresome. 

 The little boys name was Robert*, and the man was his carer. The man went on to explain that the little boy had Autism, Down syndrome, and Global Learning Delay. I talked to Robert asking if he liked watching the people walk past, if he was going on a plane, if he liked planes? I never expected a reply. I could see he was unable to make conversation and was used to this from volunteering and interacting at my daughters school but knew he deserved my conversation and interest as much as anyone else. And I knew he would receive my friendship in his own way, even if he could not communicate it the way I can. 

His carer said Robert probably wouldn’t talk because he was non verbal and went on to explain he only said the occasional single word. As I gave Robert the little plane the man noted that he may not be interested in the toy as he tended to be particular in the toys he selected to play with – these toys were usually tactile with buttons and noises. But I gave the toy to him anyway as a gesture of kindness and acceptance and sat and played with him for a minute or two as he pushed it along the ground a little, and threw it across the floor. His carer seemed a little embarrassed that he had thrown it but I knew this was just Roberts way of playing. He was just having fun and was completely oblivious to the people walking past or social norms…. And this was ok to me. He was a child experiencing the airport and having fun in his own way.
I said my goodbyes and told Robert to enjoy his flight on the plane.

As I went to leave his carer said “Thank You for giving him some of your time”.

  

Tears started to well, I could see the genuine thankfulness in his eyes. I could feel my heart welling up as I walked away… Do people not give him their time? Is he not worth 5 minutes of my time? $18 of my money to see a little boy smile? A little sacrifice for someone to know acceptance and value exist?

Do we just continue to go about our daily lives and walk past those who are so precious and are right in front of our faces? Have we taken value away from these people? Ignoring those who were created for the place of worth, acceptance, and empowerment, and replacing them with things and stuff, status and security.

  

And I started to think about him waving at people walking past, I was reminded of how my daughter did this to strangers on a regular basis, and how almost everyone who walked by ignored her.  Often, people would look her dead in the eye and do nothing. Not a wave hello. Not a smile. Nothing. And then eventually after the awkward silence and eye contact, would turn and walk away to carry on with their day.  And in that moment she would stop and look at me with confusion in her eyes. She didn’t understand what was going on, or why the nice people wouldn’t say hello. After all, that’s what you do when you see people… You say hello with a friendly welcoming gesture… Why were these people not saying hello too???

As a mother I can tell you it is utterly and truely heart breaking to see anyone (child or adult) ignore and dismiss your child’s greeting or request to play because they are different, don’t understand, or don’t apply the usual rules around social norms and etiquette.  Time and time again individuals with disabilities (including those with mental health issues) are isolated and discluded from general social activities in life when they should be included and celebrated.

  

By celebrating and embracing uniqueness we can actually shift the culture of our communities from fragmented and isolated to communities that thrive in social inclusion. And by including these people we too can learn to see the world differently.

Picture credits to Unspalsh

Rumination is our Super Power

Today I’m thinking about “what if”.

I’m one of those people who tends to ruminate… On everything.

Especially those negative things that usually bring you down.

I’m emotional and I focus where my emotions are at. Bad I know but that’s where I’m at and that’s ok.

So I was thinking about ‘what if’ and I thought ‘what if I ruminated on the good things only?’

You see when I ruminate, I let something sit in my mind and spirit and I sit back and watch what it develops into with all emotion and soul. Actually, I’ve had 30+ years practice at this that I’ve become a professional ruminator!

  
Typically in mental health settings, ruminating is not a great asset to have.

Ruminating takes our minds off the present and out of the moment, and places it in a stand still over a momentary word or event in our very recent past. It takes something that could be considered insignificant, such as a single word, and gives it a platform and power to change lives.., power that it might not otherwise have.

Ruminating on negative things can actually be quite distructive. Something negative that I’ve dwelled on in the past are the words “attention seeking”.

If your someone who lives with a mental illness like myself, you will understand how these words can cut straight to the heart with a single breath.

My very developed embellishment of ruminating often starts something like this:

“Exactly what did they mean by attention seeking? What were they trying to say? Is that what they think of me? That they think I’m attention seeking? Like a little kid? Don’t they have any idea at all? Don’t they get that I’m just hurting and I’m trying to express it to them? Do they even care? Of course they don’t… Why would they… No one ever does! Why would they care?”

Yep. I can do that in about 30 seconds flat! It’s s great skills and I’m very talented… in bringing myself down with negative rumination over something that quite possibly isn’t even what the person was talking about!

I can see why the clinical professions writhin the mental health setting might label such a rich skills as negative or destructive.

But what if we could use this super power for good and not evil?

   
Ever had a childhood dream of being a super hero? Maybe superman, Wonder Woman, or Captain America?

This could be your special super power.

But let’s give it a different name because “rumination” has such a horrible taste attached to it, don’t you think? Lets do some rebranding of this new and awesome concept of ours. We will call it “Dreaming the possibilities of our future”.

Actually, you can call it whatever you like… But if we were to describe it that’s what it would be. It’s unleashing your mind to the universe of ‘what if’ and allowing your imagination to open up and create something new. To dare to dream of anything being possible.

Dreaming takes you out of the past, and puts you into the rhelms of the unknown future. It takes you from being somewhere negative and hurtful, into a place that could be full of positivity and possibility. 

  
You see dreaming about possibilities actually births hope. Why? Because the future is unknown. We can not possible know what will happen today, or tomorrow, or in the next year. But we can dream about it, and hope, and be expectant that good things will come. 

A bit like a little girl dreaming of their wedding day. That they would become the princess and marry the man of their dreams, who would love and cherish them. And their life would be full of love and kindness like sitting like an open fire place on a cold winters night? Or maybe when you were little you dreamt something different.

Dreaming about Peer Work, I dream about societies that are all inclusive, accepting, supporting and encouraging. I dream about dreams being birthed and fulfilled, and individuals who were once weak becoming strong. I dream about individuals finally finding freedom, and others seeing hope for the first time. 

  
And I dream because of the what if… 

It is time for us to stop allowing the negatives of ‘what if’ to have power over our minds, and take back ownership and say I choose to use my powers for good! 

It’s not easy. It means making a conscious choice daily to let the negative thoughts slide on past without giving them to much attention or credit and only taking notice of the positive thoughts, and it takes self control around boundaries needed to keep it at a healthy level, and sometimes support and accountability, so as not to neglect our other responsibilities in life.

It is possible… And you are able.

And I hear as people read these words little doubts sneaking in.. “What if I fall?

But my response whispering to you (in the words of Erin Hanson) is:

“Oh, but my darling,

What if you fly?”

   
 All photos from unsplash.com.

Don’t let fear hold you back!

So today as I was continuing to develop my dreams and explore the infinite possibilities that dreaming may hold, I felt drawn to refresh my memory of what God had said to Jeremiah back in Jeremiah 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 “But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Go to EVERYONE I send you…. say WHATEVER I command you… Do NOT be afraid….?

Is he for real??!! Does he know what that means? I mean “hello God 👋🏻… Social phobia.. Right here!” 😳

    

What will people think of me? What will people do and say? What will GOD tell me to say? It could be anything?! Will it be embarrassing? Will it be something I don’t want to do? Will it make me look like a nutter? Will it offend people? Will people stop talking to me? What if I have a panic attack? What about my family… What consequences will it have on them? 

   
 
Yes! He knows what he is saying and exactly what that means, because he is God and he knows who I am. 

I am a child of the living God. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. A beautifully and wonderfully woven tapestry. I am more the a conqueror. I am a new creation. I am the head and not the tail. I am the light of the world, salt of the earth. I am called. I am strengthened. I have been bought at a price. I am justified.    I am complete. I have been given a spirit of power, love and of a sound mind. I am Gods workmanship. I am seated with Jesus in the heavenly rhelms. I can do all things.

  

 
And God… Well he’s God. Almighty, Alpha and Omega, Father, King.
And he knows that you were created for a specific purpose, place and time. To do a job that only you can do. You were hand crafted just for it.

I picture him to be like a majestic Lion or something.

  

  
And I imagine that like a father, he would have my back, ready to protect and step in when needed.

  

  
You see I’m a bit like a baby bear cub… At the first sight of something scarey my natural reaction is to go straight up that tree and hide.

  

   
It’s safe up there.

But as I read on, I was comforted in that I don’t need to be this baby bear cub hiding up a tree from all things scarey.

  “Do not be afraid of them, for I am WITH YOU and will RESCUE you,” declares the Lord. 

Like a lion comes to rescue it’s cub, devouring the enemy?

   
 And then he goes on to say he has made us as strong as fortified cities, to stand, and not be overcome… Why? Because he is with us and will rescue us!

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

“Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Wow. How is that for a promise??!  

   

 
We don’t have to fear anything.

There is no need for stress.

And no space for self doubt.

Because it’s not us that will be on show. It is him. 

And because He is faithful and able to abundantly fulfil any promise he gives us we can walk upright and confident in what he has asked of us.

So Dream big, let your imagination build until your heart is content because I am confident that any dream he has placed in your heart, is one that he will make happen, through you!

Exciting times! Xo
 

Do What You LOVE!

 

Today I spent some time with my much loved horse.

Yes, I’m a horse person and I know not everyone is…. 

Some are cat people… Some are dog people…. Some are happy with a pet rock…

   

 
For me it’s horses. 

There is something magnificent about these creatures…

The smell of horse and leather is luxurious to me…
  
The touch of cuddling into warm soft muscles of the neck and shoulder…

  
Feeling the air flowing in and out the nostrils…

  

The gentleness of a kiss from such a big and powerful beast as it leans down to show you affection…

  
Or the rocking of a beautiful and free rhythmic canter across a field…

  
There is a calmness that flows over me when I am around them.. Everything else just drops away, my worries, responsibilities…. It’s just me and my horse.. Connecting.

  

Is there something that does this for you?

For some it’s flying, for some it’s sport, or painting?

Unfortunately at times life can get busy and we start to focus on responsibilities such as study, work and parenting and forget about those things we love. Life becomes mundane, unenjoyable and boring.

  
Or perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with an illness like depression and you feel that nothing in life is really that enjoyable anymore. There isn’t really anything you love, that makes you feel that way? 

These things become so overwhelming at times that we loose touch with the need to have positive experiences. We can see responsibility as a need, and pleasures as a want and thus less important. 

Or depression as overwhelming and in control that we start to believe it will never be any different.

  
But studies show that we actually need to have positive experiences in order to maintain good health and wellness. These positive experiences cause our bodies to start producing the right chemicals to cater for more good thoughts and feelings. 

Actually, research in Positive Psychology shows that positive experiences and affirmations cultivates more positive experiences and affirmations. And these positive experiences build the foundations for wellness and stability.
  
For those people who live every day with the effects of a depressive mental illness, positive experiences can help us to be stronger people and to live the lives we want to lead.

By introducing things into your daily life that activate the pleasure centres of your brain,  you set yourself up to have positive experiences, which can actually position you to have MORE positive experiences.

 So I would like to challenge each one of you to start to incorporate some positive experiences into your day. Find some things that you love (like me and my horses) and start to set yourself up for more and more positive experiences and live a life of wellness. 

   

Are you listening?

  

My poor baby girl was so tired this morning after resisting going to sleep in her own bed, by herself. How funny our little ones can be. 

She carries the stubborn streak of both her parents and persisted for 4 hours through little huffy tantrums on and off until she finally and exhaustedly surrendered to the need for sleep.
  
Aren’t we all like this sometimes? When we want to do things a little differently than what’s being asked from us, and it’s not going our way?

She was so sweet though, she stayed in her bed, didn’t move even though she could so easily have just hopped up and walked out. No. She stayed in there like she was imprisoned, but growled and huffed, throwing her arms occasionally and kicking the blankets of intermittently to only, moments later after her outburst, pull them back up again. 
  
You see she was trying to get our attention. She was telling us “I don’t like this, I’m not doing this, I want it my way and I’m going to keep making noise until you give it to me.”
We could see her from the living room. We kept doing what we were doing and paid no attention to her little squabbles, except to occasionally give a reminder to ‘go to sleep sweetie.’
And what was the result after all this?
Exhaustion. Utter exhaustion.   

  

And then she was so tired in the morning that after being woken for school she fell straight back asleep. And then once she was eventually up, she was slow moving and quiet. She snuggled so gently into my arms, flopping like a weighted blanket. And then as we were leaving for school she whispered, “I sleep in the car, then go to school, then mummy’s bed”.

Doesn’t it melt your heart?

This little soul fought with all her might to get what she wanted. 

An intensely exhausting fight. 

Stubborn that she was going to get company while drifting off to sleep. Stubborn that mum and dad were not going to get what they wanted, only to find the forces of nature had other plans.  And after all that fighting, and screaming and kicking… our little one comes to us in the morning needing gentleness, kindness, understanding, patience, grace, love and rest from those she was fighting against… Us.

  
Sound familiar?

How often do we have a goal in our life that we have been aiming for and it feels like the world is against you? You want to go left but the powers of the universe take you right? And it doesn’t matter how much you try, or how much noise you make, the fight exhausts you and your body or situation make the decision for you?
This has happened to me lately regarding my career. 

I have had particular goals set for a few years now and have been working steadily to achieve them. My next 5 years were clear in my mind and my sights set. I had been positioning my self for this time – excited about where the future would take me. Sure I had had things come up that could take me away from my goals, health issues, family commitments etc, but I used them as assets to use as tools and strengthen me further me with my goals. 

Everything was coming together like clockwork.

  
And then this year, suddenly out of no where the rug got ripped from under me and everything changed. 

I had an accident breaking my pelvis and spine. Ok ok. BIG set back, but I’ll just take it in my stride, take some time off work for physical healing, but then refocus and get straight back to it.
  
Nope. Looks like the big boss had other plans. 6 months later I was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from my accident preventing me from working for a period of 12-18 months. 

Great! What about my goals now? All that’s I’ve been working hard for?

Life, do you even care about how “I” feel about this?? Do you know how much time I have spent building myself up for a time in my life like this?????

Hmmm, ok, well if I can’t commit to work, surely I can do some little projects in my spare time right? One night every two months governance work, a little mentoring here and there, maybe an online group in my profession? Pretty minimal and stress free right? 
  
BAM! Strange migraines and tests to rule out minor stroke?! What?! I’m in my early 30’s, I shouldn’t have to even think about this stuff! 

But now I’m listening. I’m really listening. I’m listening to the sweet gentle voice saying…. Stop fighting me, relax, rest. Lay back, trust me, I won’t let you drown…. Close your eyes and feel my gentle waters flowing around you. Refreshing you. Cleansing you. 

  

Sleep my beautiful child and when you waken, open your eyes to all that is around you. See the beautiful trees I have brought you to for shade, admire the picturesque mountain sides, 

  
the clouds, feel the warmth of the sun. Enjoy the freedom of where the current takes you…

  
Even after all your fighting, noise making, kicking and screaming… Come… In my river is gentleness, kindness, understanding, patience, grace, love and rest.

  

Maybe it’s a career goal, a marriage goal, a weight loss goal? Sometimes it’s that vision you have for your life, or as a parent?

Sometimes we need that rest. The ease of lying face up in a flowing river and just allowing the current of life take you wherever it flows. Gently resting and watching the scenery as it passes you by. Sometimes, it’s ok not to fight, to surrender, and just rest.

  

If you’re anything like my daughter (and admittedly me), letting go of control of your goals can be really hard. Especially if you have worked so hard for them to be a particular way. And what about the endless messages the world has been sending and preaching for you to “take control of your life”. Get fit now, loose weight now, take control of your career, reach your goals… It’s all telling you to push, push, push.
  
Goals are good. I am not by any means suggesting we shouldn’t have goals, or that we shouldn’t aim for them. Please do… Dream big, and succeed. What I am saying is that even with our dreams and goals, there is need for rest. A rest that brings all those things that our daughter needed this morning after her fighting. Gentleness, kindness, understanding, patience, grace, love and rest.

   
Whether you are spiritual, believe in God, the Jedi forces, or the communication of your body… Breathe in deep, stop fighting, take a risk….. Gentle lie back into that river and push out… Who knows what beautiful place the stream will take you.

Something Special

Isn’t it funny how once you set your eyes back on your dreams, the weight of the world seems to lift from your shoulders and all of a sudden you feel a deep fire in your belly. As if something amazing is about to happen but you don’t yet have the words to explain it? That’s how I feel right now.

I have had a tough year and to be honest, I felt like I would never get up out of it. But yesterday I was talking to someone online about how I felt. I felt like I really connected with her… when I relayed how I was feeling I really believed that she understood because she felt the same way. And I was getting really low about how unlucky I had been this year and doubting that my life would be anything special.

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And then I saw a page turn.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw this page turn over in the breeze. And I curiously looked over and ever so gently pick up my bible and started to read it. It was about the body and beautifully as I read the words one by one, deep inside me unravelled questions I had been ruminating over.

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Am I too old? Have I missed my opportunity to be and do what I had dreamed and believed would happen?

Will the things I believe ever come true? Could they ever come true?

I’m not anything special compared to anyone else, so why do I think I would ever be something significant?

Does significance matter anyway?

You know those moments (and for me they are often days and weeks) where tidal waves of self-doubt come and completely wash away any glimmer of hope and faith you had? Leaving you like the bed of a dry lake, stark and deserted? Yep, that’s how I felt.

But as I read these words, I felt water slowly seeping back into my soul. Hope.

ALL parts are important. Each unique and deliberate. Significant not because of who they are individually but because of who they are within the system of the body. Everything has its time. And everything has its place.

It started as a candle in a very dark room, and as I allowed it to do so, the warm and comforting glow from the flame started to flood through my darkened room. My inner chamber. My secret place.

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And I found that as it did, I started to see what was in my room once more. I was no longer scared of the darkness, imprisoned, and hidden in the corner. But rather I felt the warmth draw me out with it and I uncurled and stood straight to witness so I could see all that was becoming. And it flowed over and through me and around me. And I felt like I belonged once again, that I had purpose and that I had value.

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I have a time. I have a place. I have purpose. And I have significance.

Once again I felt like a little girl dancing around her secret place freely, deeply and passionately.

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