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Let grief be an outpouring

“Let grief be an outpouring. When grief is allowed to exhaust its expression, then behind it is a profound silence, it’s like rest. No one can tell you when that rest is finished, it’s an intuitive thing” ~ Mooji

Saying bye bye to a heart’s companion today, a short but very sweet love connection with a little puppy being I have had the privelege of fostering, I have noticed how quite intense but uninhibited grief just pours out in bursts. And subsides. And pours again.

And this time, my relationship to it is different. I am totally okay with its presence and full expression. In front of other people, alone, with sound, without, at random moments. It feels really good and healthy, like good digestion. I’m not holding it in anywhere to deal with later on, I’m not holding on to its arising and making it a permanent state of being or the theme of my day, it’s just coming, and flowing, and gone.

Feels good, and different. I mean, it feels intense in the moment, but I no longer label it as a bad feeling, just a healthy release from Inside. Feeling the benefit of some big releases (real eases) in recent weeks, and also that this moment of grief and letting go, allows remnants of moments past to also be released, as much of it is without a clear source and with no thoughts or images attached to it. There is melancholy, but its not colouring everything as much as other times.

 

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Playing trust games with life

You may be familiar with trust games, from school or team building or some other facilitated group experience. A common version is where you stand on a chair and fall backwards and trust the group to catch you, and they do, and each time they do, something inside you melts and opens.

I have been playing this game with life itself for about three years now,and I finally feel I’m getting to the point where we don’t need to keep playing the game any more. I get it, I get that life will catch me and I can stop throwing myself of chairs for no reason!

What do I mean by life? I’m talking about everything that is, inside and out, existence itself. You might call it the universe, you might call it other people, you might call it Gaia,  you might call it the Dao, you might call it God, you might call it my Self. I’m talking about that which is, moment to moment, as I experience it.

Now we’ve cleared that up, what about these games? Have I really been throwing myself off chairs for three years? If ‘life’ is catching me, does that mean the ground? Is that really catching? How’s my head??

It’s a long story, but I will try to make it short. It began, as these kinds of adventures often do, with an experience of being faced with something bigger than I could comprehend, cope with or control. A force like a tornado was moving through me, a force that had somehow been unleashed from my heart and was wreaking havoc on my entire environment and sense of self. Over a period of twelve months, this tornado  (which was me, inasmuch as it was coming from inside me and acting through me) whipped away my relationship, my grandmother, my home, my cat, my business (almost, physically, in the end I let go and it continued in a new form), my sense of self, about half of my body mass, most of my belongings and most of my cash.

To be clear, I take total ownership for and feel utter gratitude for this tornado – and- it was a seriously disorienting and rocky ride as much as a magic carpet. I could not understand or explain it to anyone at the time, and so I did my best to rationalise and normalise my choices which were in reality driven by this molten fire inside me that was just burning away all the structures I had created to limit and  control my existence. Anything that I would grasp onto for safety was torn from me, and if I clung on to it my angel would transform into some kind of a demon and start to wreak havoc internally and externally until I let it go.

This tornado required my utter compliance, my utter surrender. All I could do was to stay in the still centre of it, where the air was clear and sweet and the colours were eye wateringly vivid. If I tried to walk back out of the centre to what had been, or off the path the tornado was taking, I began to be shredded and fragmented by its whirling force and was ultimately spat back out into the centre, more or less ragged depending on how hard I had fought.

So in the end, I stopped fighting, and I started to sense that perhaps I could trust this. I realised, that the still calm centre was expanding, and wonderful experiences were entering into that space and emerging from the ground beneath me, the longer I stayed present there. I realised that fear was what drove me into the storms and caused the clinging, and that trust – trusting life, myself and other people – allowed me to move with the tornado in safety and ease.

As these feelings and experiences came with a heightened visceral and physical experience – of energy, of emotion and of my senses – my body and felt sense became my compass. I would navigate by sensation, which would let me know where I was rooting myself, in the stillness or the storm. I could feel contraction in my chest and solar plexus, and closing down and narrowing of my sensory field and a dulling of the beauty I could perceive, when I was plugged into fear. In trust, in love, everything expanded, lightened, warmed and brightened internally and externally.

Why not follow that, I thought, why not try just following that. I had read so much about folowing my bliss and living from the heart, now this tornado had me by the heart and gave me little option, and much encouragement, to try it. Live it. See for myself.

So I did. I chose to make decisions only from trust and love, not to choose or act from fear. I would walk up to edges and throw myself off them, trusting. Trusting most of all myself, and this felt sense of what was right for me in the moment. The more I trusted, the more that apparent fears would melt away like mist as I approached them. The more I trusted, the stronger and clearer the internal signals became. The more I trusted the more I was met, by people and situations. With generosity of heart and warm welcome.

Each time I came to a big edge, I still felt the butterflies. I still thought: “what if this is the time where I fall on my face, where I realise they were all flukes before, and I had it all wrong…” I knew in those moments, that if I stepped down off the chair, the tornado would have me. I would be lost in the vortex of dark clouds and debris. I could only keep going, keep following the stillness in the centre as it moved. So I would stop, and reconnect with that stillness, and then move with it. Time and again.

An example of  such a moment that I often share, is when I found myself in the passport office in London, with a flight out of the country in 8 hours, no passport and no money.

I was following the still centre from Gran Canaria to Istanbul, via London. What had seemed an impossible feat had somehow lined itself up and I had been able to source funds, book ludicrously cheap flights with short notice and a tiny window AND get an appointment for a same day passport renewal to allow me to enter Turkey with more than 6 months validity. When I arrived to London I found that the funds coming in for my new passport had not yet cleared and would take  two days more. No problem, a generous friend would sub me for a few days.

So there I am in the passport office with my ticket number waiting for it to pop up on the screen and signal for me to approach the counter, three minutes from my allotted 5 minute appointment. I’m musing on the strange sensation I had felt travelling there by tube in rush hour, crushed against strangers in the humidity and noise. I had felt a distinct sensation of entering a tight squeezy tunnel, like today was some kind of birth canal. Peculiar and visceral.

A text message pops up on my screen and catches my eye. My dear friend who has subbed me to get my passport. Oh. Deals off. Something came up. Right. Of course I write back saying “No problem, have a great day”. White noise fills my head and my forehead prickles.

No problem.Right…. My number appears on the screen above my head. The quiet centre moves me forward to the counter, unprecedented high winds whipping behind me. “Here’s my application for a new passport. Thanks” She takes it. My freedom to roam the planet tucked away in an envelope and popped into a trolley. “Ok now go to the next window to pay.”

“What if I can’t pay?”

She looks at me, impatient and flat eyed.” You are going to pay now.”

“Yes but what if I can’t?”

“Madam I don’t understand, you are going to go and make payment at the next counter.”

Well, she seems pretty confident, so on I go.  “Hi I’m here to pay for my passport”. I pop my card in the machine and enter my pin, in a surreal kind of surrendered state, dropping backwards from the chair into emptiness…

Card declined. Oh god. Oh god oh god. This is the time when I just hit the floor isn’t it. This is the edge of my foolish delusion. This is it. Game over. Shit.

I must be spacing out because she speaks firmly and clearly and leans close to my face. “Madam, take this pen and paper, go ask someone to help you to pay. Write down the details and bring them to me.”

“…Thaaanks…” I wander away, utterly in the fog of evaporating belief…

“Madam!” I turn around. “Don’t forget this pen and paper, you need it to write down the details of the person who is going to help you.”

She is looking me dead in the eye and holding out the pen and paper, she looks so confident and so kind. I take it from her and walk away.

Crash. Crash. Crash. Stark waves of “reality” batter my self belief. In a way I feel a kind of safety in this momentary helplessness. There’s nothing else I can do, I have to surrender to the situation, and see what comes of it. I can’t do anything else right now. I begin weeping and getting ready to call my parents and tell them I’m sorry, all my talk of self belief and following my heart and something more in life… Crazy talk all of it, I was wrong, you were right to worry about me, I have lost the plot big time. I was ready to be at their mercy to either help me to carry on, or call me home, or get my head examined or whatever. I was ready to surrender all agency.

As I sat  in the corridor waiting for the tears to subside so I could speak on the phone. A man passing by stopped and looked at me with kind concern. “Are you ok miss?”

“yesfinethanks” I squeaked, tears streaming.

He kept looking at me, kind and slightly amused. “Are you sure you are ok??”

Then I realised what was happening and what I was pushing away. Life was coming towards me to help. I needed to let it in.

“No I’m not ok!” I blurted out the whole scenario and he listened, calmly, til I had finished.

“My name’s J. I’m the manager of this office. If you can get the funds you need any time up to 5:30pm when I finish work, I will get your passport to you today, no question.”

My heart cracked open another notch and I poured with gratitude, he smiled and walked away. Then my phone pinged, it was my friend in Istanbul. “Hey I found you a place to stay with a beautiful friend of mine and her family of dogs and cats, she is really excited to be hosting you and we are all looking forward to your visit.”

Angels. Everywhere.

Ping! Again. A message from a dear friend at the project I had been working on in the Canaries. “How’s it going lovely, got your passport and on your way?”

I wrote back and told her what had happened.

“Oh easy, here’s my card details, get your passport and get your flight and pay me back when your funds clear ok?”

I took the pen and paper, I wrote down the details of the person who would help me to pay. I got my passport as J had promised. I had brunch in the sunshine. I got my flight, I didn’t hit the floor. Life held me and kissed my forehead.

There are many such stories, but this post is already a “long read” so I’ll save them for the book (!).

I realise now, After three years of teetering on chairs, that I no longer need to keep taking myself to edges to see if I will be caught. If I find myself at an edge, and I still do often, I know I can keep going and walk through the swirling fear with my still centre, but now – life and I – we have a decent and mature team dynamic going on, and we can cocreate together a smoother ride which is a little less hair-raising  while still expansive and enriching. No more games now, time to get on with the work.

I can direct the tornado a little more now, it’s path is not so veering and unpredictable. I recognise that I AM the storm, that I am not just in it. It is in me, and so my still centre and I move through life, and my swirling edges clear any debris and fear blocks that they encounter, and all of it is me.

If you have read this far, and you think that I am in fact crazy. Please console yourself with this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cute comedy clickbait: why you should Just Say No to puppies

Puppes are super cute, fact. Be aware, however, that this is just a biological ruse… The big eyes and inexplicably cute facial dimensions and soft sniffly sounds, damn even that delectable puppy fur aroma…. All designed to make any adult creature with a pulse fall hopelessly in love and adopt two or three of them on the spot.

Should you encounter a puppy pusher, on the street, in a bar, on gumtree, in one of those great big cute animal supermarkets with aisles of neon chew toys , gourmet ham hock terrines and tiny onesies…. Here is why, you should just say no.

Your ankles will not be your own for a long, long time…

Puppies love ankles, their little jaws are perfectly evolved to fit snugly around an Achilles’ tendon with the teeth positioned just so that they can cause maximum impact without disabling their major provider’s mobility entirely. Puppies are hard wired to seek the ankle as a first point of contact for communicating a range of needs from food to attention to just being more deeply involved in whatever you are doing.

For that matter, neither will your socks…

Oh the delicious delight of a sweaty, stinky, sock! A puppy can snuffle out a dirty sock like a pig with a truffle. You know all those years  and years pre-puppy when you wondered who was hiding one of each pair of socks  you brought into the house? Blamed it on the sock fairy? It was the puppy you didn’t have yet, travelling back in time, relentless in pursuit of your socks.

You will develop a “twitch” around soft furnishings….

This will reveal itself one night when you are lounging on the sofa at a friend’s house, immersed in relaxed post-prandial chatter, and she reaches over to grab a cushion from beside you… “NODONTCHEWTHEF#%KINGCUSHIONS!!!”

You come round from the red mist to find yourself eyeball to eyeball with your friend who is down on the rug on her back with legs in the air, your lip curled to a canine snarl… You cannot apologise enough, it’s just been months of patient corrections and deep breaths, having to spend the chilly evenings with your neck crunked against the too high armrest of the sofa while your lovely squishy cushions go musty in the attic, waiting out the teething.

You will become a potty mouth…

Literally. Instead of responding to “How ya doing?” with the classic “Yeah pretty good, you?” Out will tumble a full breakdown of recent toilet tales and triumphs like “Yeah I’m ok, I mean I started my morning picking up poops and bleaching the rug  but he’s getting almost through the night now and his poops are much more sausage-like since the new kibble so it’s getting easier HA HA HA. Hurr…”

I now totally understand how it happens with new parents. You become so desensitised to the piss and shit of another creature, that you adore unconditionally,  that it actually becomes a fascination and a full-time project for a short while, during which time your still socially sensitised companions will brace themselves slightly before asking that question.

You will get addicted!

The sleepy squeaks and snuffles, the goofy gallop, the nestling and burrowing, the velvety softness, the smell of their  fuzzy little head when you kiss it (biological ruse, keep focus), the total adoration and awe, the wild comedy antics, the hapless curiosity, the total relaxed abandon on your belly, the ‘just the once’ spoony snuggles of that first week… You will get addicted. They will get big and doggy, and delight you in other ways, but you will start to linger a little longer as you pass the animal shelter, listening to the heart rending little yelps and whimpers. “Well. Having two is not much different to having one. Barney would love the company. Dogs are pack animals after all.” And so it begins again….

Just Say No.

Look how cute this puppy is!!!! ( I’m helping you to be strong, watch these as many times as it takes until the urge passes away, then you will be ok)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Call from an old friend

I received a call today.

From my body

And from Mother Earth herself.

“I’ve sent so many messages

Through so many messengers.

I love you.

I want you to come home.

I need you to keep me safe.

I invite you to cherish me more.

Honour me more.

Show up like a mama lion for me.

Soothe me with your touch when I am stressed.

Stop everything and put me first.

Listen long and lovingly to my needs.

Delight in meeting them.

Because you love me.

Don’t hand me over to someone else

To do it for you.

Instead of you.

Don’t abandon me when I feel unsafe

Stop everything and put me first.

I need to feel your presence.

All the time.

Always.

Put me first.

Honour me with your choices.

Put me first.

Honour me.

Listen to my every tiny desire.

Welcome and adore my desires.

Delight in pleasing me,

Nurturing me,

Lighting me up.

Treat me like a goddess,

A temple.

I am you.

I am that.

Act like it.

Come home.

 

Reading this message back, it feels like the deepest call of the feminine in me, to my masculine energy, which has been so active, doing and thinking and striking out. Building and shaping and directing….

In so many ways this call for union has been resounding in me. Even now, as I am here writing a blog post hunched at the desk, a wild little puppy is tearing at my ankles – “Hey!  I am life embodied, I am the earth in motion, be here now with me.” So I’ll end here, and go roll around on the rug by the fire.

 

 

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Portrait: a digital nomad living outside the tribe

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Much discussion around the rise of digital nomad culture is focussed on the hubs and tribes, the clusters of nomads finding community wherever they find themselves, in co-working spaces and deeper connections through co-living projects scattered across the globe.

What of the nomad without a tribe?

The solitary wanderers and techno-hermits tucked away in all corners of the globe, creating vast online platforms that bring us all together. The paradox of digital work finds many nomads, by choice or by circumstance, alone in their hotel room, or tucked away in a cabin, bridging continents and creating virtual communities through their computer.

So what is it like to choose this path? I made a date with Ed Dowding, creator of Represent, a digital democracy platform which facilitates transparent, non-partisan, real time peer to peer polling and generates a clear and representative collective voice from scattered and distorted political debate in the UK.

Our interview begins with a classic digital nomad scene. After shifting times around a little we connect through skype, quick hello then robot sounds… Connection drops. Battling an intermittent wifi connection in a cafe and fielding calls to the mobile office take a little time and some creative problem solving. We shift channels, I am renting a UK local rate landline number which diverts to the landline of the retreat centre I am working from in Greece, which he can call from his mobile in Bristol. Ten minutes later with a clear line and a warm “hello” we dive into Ed’s story.

Ed made the shift to a nomadic life in 2002, four years into his career as a digital entrepreneur, arriving finally at a point where he felt confident that he could do his work entirely remotely.

“I realised that I was already effectively working remotely, so I might as well work remotely from the Alps! Technology makes it possible, so why not do it? I feel the same about paragliding. Our ancestors must have sat on mountains looking out and wanted to fly, now we can, so why would you not?”

His first step as a nomad was to move into a soft-top convertible he bought in Edinburgh!

“It was horrible, a colossal pain in the ass. I knew it wouldn’t work in winter and so I would have to leave before then. It served its main purpose, which was to get me out of there ”

Over a decade later and he now enjoys the relative luxury of a ski-in ski-out apartment in the Alps where he spends about three quarters of his time with the remaining quarter in the UK bouncing between meetings for his digital democracy platform Represent.

“A ratio of 30 days here in the Alps to about 10 days in the UK works well for me. Sometimes I cluster meetings more and it’s 60:20 but then the balance gets out of synch and a bit unmanageable with more activity and meetings and less time for follow up. It does depend I guess on how big a team you are working with.”

Ed also does occasional month-long house-sits in France and the UK for a bit of diversity, but makes clear that he is not one of the wealthy digital nomads with an easy residual income, rather one that lives outside the UK largely to save money, as well as  investing more time with fewer distractions in an online start-up.

As a solitary nomad nested in the midst of a transient crowd of holidaymakers and lots of snow, I was curious to know if he was at all drawn to the booming community of Digital Nomads in balmy locations across South East Asia:

“It’s sort of interesting, I know a few people who are there trying to work it out, but Asian Hoxton is not my style. Chances are that if a whole bunch of people are doing something and think it’s “cool”,I won’t.”

So what kinds of communities does this independent and deeply focussed entrepreneur identify with?

“As a wilful outsider I am quite ephemeral between communities – core friends, working relationships, interest groups, local connections – and at the same time I know very few people in France, it’s a resort not a village, most people who are there aren’t there the next week.”

Unlike many digital nomads who cluster in co-working spaces and co-living communities, hungry for collaboration and cross-pollination In Real Life, Ed seems to relish most of all the sense of connection he finds with nature:

“The giant mountain beckons you to the top of it without much resistance, walking through pine forest and nice mountain parks and gorgeous views. It is incredibly uplifting being at the top of a mountain for sunrise, watching the stars fade out and the colours come across the sky, it’s glorious.”

He speaks also of the challenges and quirks of these spells of solitary existence:

“If we exist largely in the eye of others, it’s other people’s reflection of us that help us work out who we are, so unless we consciously take time to think about who we are, then that doesn’t happen so much, to the extent I can sometimes look in the mirror and realise how very different I look, compared to how I feel.”

Most important to Ed, and the focus of the majority of his time and energy is his mission, the evolution and roll out of his digital democracy platform Represent:

“I’m pretty sure this one is my life’s purpose. If I can make this work, then it will be the most important thing I ever do.”

Spending most of his time at a distance from the UK, insulated from and not immersed in the daily reality and scale of the system he has tasked himself with transforming furnishes Ed with sufficient “delusion and belief” to support his mission focus. He seems to need only his own core belief in the value and importance of what he is doing to fuel his committed effort.

His philosophical reflection on purpose is sweetly representative of hours of undisturbed immersion in a a curated and theoretically dense cornucopia of podcasts and Sci-Fi audio books – the Utopias and dystopias of “social anthropology played out”:

“It’s incredible how many people believe that what they do is the most important thing they are doing, and from other people’s perspective it’s quite rubbish. Some people go to work because of the why, and some go despite it. It’s like the people who go to war not to fight for a noble cause, but because their friends are going and they want to help them. Perfectly mad.”

The flip-side and the challenge of such absolute mission focus, in Ed’s experience, is the ever-present risk of becoming “quite annoying, mono-thematic and single-minded”. Being relatively solitary he finds it easy to forget how people think and how to communicate ideas. This is especially hard when there is no shared understanding of the topic to begin from – so perhaps a like-minded community of digital nomads and entrepreneurs has its uses after all!

It is evident that there are many benefits and challenges to the solitary path of a digital nomad, just as there are in the close knit communities and cliques where we gather and grow together.

I personally find balance in moving between the two. For the last three years I have alternated  extended periods of solitary, simple, grounded living in remote valleys of Devon, Greece and Gran Canaria,  with creative whirlwind summers amongst my scattered global community, bouncing from couch to camper van and moving every few days to a new adventure. This summer however I’ll be renting a room for six months in the city as a base to put down my bag and move around from, as the “right  balance” for me changes and I move with it.

Each person’s balance will be different, and it just goes to show there are as many ways to make the nomadic life work for your as there are nomads doing it. Make the road your own! What’s your perfect balance?

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Tracing the flow from not doing to right action

Right action arises from not doing.

I stop.

Relax.

Release my grip.

Unclench my fist.

Drop my shoulders.

Stop the hamster wheel

And get off.

Come home to myself.

Walk in the door of this moment.

Look and listen.

Take a seat in the armchair.

Listen to the silence.

Now.

Allow myself fully.

What does the wild wonder of the world

That I am

Feel moved to do?

Sleep.

Dance.

Apply.

Write.

Tackle.

Invite.

Create.

Cry.

Let something die.

Be born.

in allowing myself

Utterly

To do nothing,

To simply be

Ansolutely enough

In my being

For this moment,

I open the space inside

For crystal clear vision

Of next elegant step

And precisely what is needed,

All the energy required,

For the eassful flow of action

To issue forth joyfully

From my stillness.

I follow.

I move.

I act.

In utter self trust

Clarity

Alignment

Truth

Simplicity.

Nothing is pushing.

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Teaching what I need to learn

I’m stepping out further into my whole truth.

I’m showing you what I am made of, and what you are made of.

Becoming visible to myself, through the mirror.

Connection from the ground up.

Dwelling at home.

Digging where I stand.

Rooting to fruit.

Knowing that the myriad changes and transformations on the outside.

The spinning world of form

Is a reflection of the world inside

That now becomes clearer.

The external things are rearranging themselves

To reflect the true blueprint within

Which is lighting up.

All the dancers coming into constellation within me

And without.

The clear light of the masculine.

The deep red earth of the feminine.

Take time

For there is an inexhaustible supply of it

Really.

All of which is present

Here now.

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Don’t believe the hype

Wow. Today feels like a big hype day, a day where there are lots of capital letters. A New Moon and a Solar Eclipse offer a cosmic invitation for Big Releases and New Beginnings. It’s also International Women’s Day.

For me personally it’s also the Last Day of a wonderful 30 day challenge I have been taking part in (more to follow on that) and the First Session with a new coach. I’ve done some Big Releases and acquired some New Tools. It’s also the beginning of a New Chapter where I will be shortly moving to a new base and arranging my life and resources in a new way.

It all feels very much right this minute. I feel a pressure to come out shiny and glorious and embrace the massive newness and unlimited potential and epic joy of it all. To pull rabbits out of hats and scatter stardust all around.

It feels like. Way. Too. Much. Hype. I’ve been in with both feet for the build up, eager and excited for Big Shifts and Emergence. Waiting for the fanfare which heralds the grand event. Now I’m stopping – here at the threshold of pushing my dazzled self out onto a carnival float to dance the hula – and instead gathering myself up in loving arms to rest and to just be.

Yes I’m learning, yes I’m progressing, yes I’m growing, yes I’m healing. This is what our bodies and souls just do organically. We don’t need to be doing the doing, it is our nature. No need, really none, to press and push. It all happens, it all comes, it is all done.

These last weeks I’ve experienced huge shifts, internally and externally. Waves and voids and revelations. I haven’t made any of them happen, they have just been the content of my days, simply what happened.

Today I sit quietly and allow myself to be carried over the threshold. Stay in surrender. Allow the Dao.

I feel the slightly hysterical climactic energy of days like these in a similar way to the frenzy of Christmas. A layer of expectation is created which lays traps for the tenderness of souls. Paints a glittery gloss on the realness and rawness which is also present, which is always present where real growth and real healing is in play.

I celebrate too, I celebrate all the joy and the leaps and the new beginnings. For me the new beginning is this. It is being enough as I am, just right now. Not a carnival, not a dancing girl, not an empire being born. A butterfly, with soggy wings, exhausted from the struggle which formed it, from breaking through the cocoon of a former self, and wanting to get an early night with a hot water bottle.

It is knowing my expression is welcome.
It is knowing that I am here for me, and everyone benefits.
It is knowing that I am surrounded by love and support from all the divine beings in my life.
It is knowing that the entire physical universe exists to support me in physical form.
It is knowing that the more I let go, release and relax, the more I experience the support already provided for me.

This is what I am taking to bed tonight under the new moon.

“Practise not doing, and everything will fall into place” ~ Dao De Jing

I love you all, I share your joy, this quiet joy is mine today. The joy of self acceptance and feeling enough, at home in myself and safely held by life.

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Boundaries, empathy, connection and seeing clearly

A friend recently sent me this poem that he found on a wall…

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To see each other clearly, allow space to be, listen allow and smile, unearthing internal lies….

This for me captures the alchemy of relating, of presence one to another. What do we need to support this clear vision, this ability to let the other be and to bear witness to the internal beliefs that cloud our vision of them?

There is a paradox at the heart of it all which the image in the poem captures beautifully – we are separate branches in the same tree. How to hold the apparent paradox of interbeing and healthy boundaries was a question raised today in one of my communities, and it is one which has been present for me in several different conversations and contexts over the last couple of weeks.

As a highly empathic person, It can happen that I become so attuned to the experience of another that I enter into it energetically and almost exit my own. For me boundaries are the tools of time and space physicality which I use to meet the needs which support my energy levels, emotional and psychological clarity and connection to myself.

When these things are taken care of and my boundaries are clearly asserted and held, I can be open and fully empathically present to others without needing to guard my energy or personal space. My boundaries allow me to be more open. If my energy is depleted, or my mind and emotions are chaotic and I don’t take the space I need to restore balance and to process my experience, then my capacity to stay in my own centre is less and I will shut down compassion and empathy to others around me until I am able to reconnect with myself.

This for me highlights the difference between boundaries and disconnection. I can hold a boundary without disconnecting from you. I am more likely to disconnect if I have no boundary in place to meet the needs which support me to stay in connection.

Exploring the role of boundaries in relationship I have noticed that they also create greater intimacy. The presence of boundaries creates a safety which supports vulnerability, depth and risk taking within the held structure that we provide for each other.

Boundaries also provoke challenge and testing, and how we respond to that can be a real area of growth between two people also. Boundaries which are very rigid may suggest the presence of fear, whereas boundaries which are open for revision as the needs of individuals evolve can signify the presence of a growing mutual trust and respect, with enough safety to be allow some fluidity.

I enjoyed this insightful blog by a friend on the topic which relates particularly to children but holds universal wisdom. Also this video which was shared today in my community. This is a live inquiry for me and my experience of boundaries is an active growth area which feels very rich right now.