When I first heard the phrase “life is empty and meaningless” it actually gave me hope. It let me out of a lifelong bind where I was forever searching for the meaning of life. Yet despite that flash of clarity, I have continued my search. The number 42 has represented a sign of hope. By a stroke of irony on my 42nd birthday, my then old and sick partner had a high fever and delirium that meant on that wet and rainy day I had to call an ambulance, who had to call the local fire brigade for backup, and six men in muddy boots carried Ian past the birthday bunting and across the plank to the ambulance and then to hospital where the wonders of modern medicine saved his life for that day.
Yet even such clear messages have not diminished my quest to find meaning in life .. almost like the quest itself is what has given my life sense of purpose.
I saw the other day that I have posted 42 posts on this blog. Given my affinity for this number, I had to reflect on it’s significance, since this blog is really part of my quest for meaning. This is the answer I have come to in the past few years – life is about connection.
I’m sure I could circle around this topic endlessly. If I think of the times in life I have truly felt a sense of peace, it is those moments I have felt truly connected – be it to a person, to nature, to the divine or to myself. And in fact this blog is really about connection. My life has revolved very much around a desire to disconnect, particularly from people, which in my experience have caused mostly pain, confusion and loss of self. But as I’ve been diving into pushing myself into connection and have become present to feelings, mostly bad, but feelings all the same, and with those feelings a sense of being alive.
It was some good feelings that gave me hope, that made me feel alive. I was bolstered by a rare sense of hope. But then those hopes got dashed and the dreams I’d had became a hopeless wreckage. And so I’ve been rebuilding my ship, taking care not to get too lost in my head, to allow myself to feel more grounded, and to learn to be with the bad feelings and express myself rather than wasting my life away through escape.
In fact, I have been living my life as though there IS some meaning except I am yet to find it. I believe the bigger explanation to the statement that ‘life is empty and meaningless’ is that WE attach meaning to life. It just IS. And this very much relates to my overly cerebral way of experiencing and understanding the world. Thankfully, I have also pushed myself to be very physical in my life. I think it is my saving grace. Martial arts, which I’ve been drawn to out of my hyper vigilant need to protect myself on solo adventures, have allowed me to connect to myself and others. Swimming and cycling have been my main other forms of being in my body. Yet even as I think of these I realise that each give me scope to think at the same time. But a big lesson that aikido continues to bring me is that I need to ‘not think’ in order to act, since thinking slows me down and has me get stuck in confusion.
Perhaps the big lesson for me in this lifetime is around being rather than thinking.
‘I am therefore I am’.
No wonder I’ve made myself so confused .. trying to think my way to clarity when the answer is simply ‘to be’. And perhaps therein lies the challenge .. how to be.
My life has been a solo exploration. I believe my drive for solo exploration has come about through a combination of personality and life experience. The curiosity was always there. The feeling of being alone likely came from feeling misunderstood as a child. The sense of being lost and confused probably came from an overactive mind along with an invalidation of my feelings that had me unsure what I thought or felt about anything. My independence – most likely from both genes and early modelling. The outcome .. a lost, confused, constantly searching and exploring mind, embracing the lostness and aloneness as though it was something I desired, but leading me further and further into a state of complete hopelessness.
Finding my way
Feeling my feelings and expressing them to others (rather than cutting off from feelings and endlessly talking to myself) has been a path I’ve been walking that has also been like climbing out of a deep dark hole. It’s a rocky path, but I have a sense of hope. Deep down, or maybe closer to the surface, I know that I’m not alone .. and yet alone at the same time. That’s life.
On the spectrum of risk taking I lean very much toward carefulness. Generally, risks I’ve taken have been considered and calculated. I’ve pushed myself close to the edge many times .. even in life risking ways .. but I’m rarely impetuous.
So, in a moment of insanity last weekend I swung the pendulum the other way a bit when after looking at the stretch of mountain bike track before me, aptly labelled ‘rollercoaster 1’, having initially halted to declare “Joey, I can’t do this!”, followed by him saying “I’ll go”, and racing off down the rollercoaster and up the other side, I considered the likelihood that perhaps I could fly over all the bumps and simply focus on staying upright, took a breath, and dived down this crazy mountain bike track on my over 20 year old, unmaintained and non-mountain bike. In retrospect it was an accident waiting to happen and I half wonder if I didn’t do it on purpose at some level .. since my now very sore left shoulder that has put my left arm out of action has opened up the time I needed to focus on some things I’ve had to neglect with all that has been filling up my time lately .. and incidentally, mostly very physical stuff that requires the use of both arms. In some ways, the accident has been a godsend. I suspect I might have been hurt much more badly had I not had the body awareness and fitness I have, and the accident could have been much worse. So I feel quite grateful
So .. what point am I getting at?
I think I’m looking to see where I now stand on the subject of risk. I know I have spent my life being overly cautious and it has held me back from ‘life’ quite a lot. But I also think my carefulness has allowed me to do much riskier things by taking special care .. it has allowed me to go closer to the edge so to speak. And I have wondered at times whether I need that intense feeling of presence that comes from being close to the edge, as a way to simply feel.
But this past year or so of stepping outside of my comfort zone to where I don’t have that sense of control that comes from careful consideration has also brought me back to life and to the awareness of feelings and emotions – even if that means nursing a hurt shoulder.
Since I have a dream of creating large organic sculptural forms that people can move through or climb over and explore in all different sorts of ways, the issue of risk is very pertinent. I have a desire for people to be able to explore spaces in new ways, and to be able to experience challenge or adventure in their own way, to push boundaries .. but at the same time, there cannot be any seriously dangerous scenarios. I think some perceived danger, like views out from high places that don’t have threat of physical danger, is how I will intend it. I’m still in the process of fine-tuning the design of Cloudscape through the 1:20 model, but that has all come to a standstill at the moment with too many other projects on the go. But I will return to it soon and the risk aspect of it will always be present. Looking up the etymology of risk which it seem is a bit uncertain, the origins of the word may come from ‘riscare’ or ‘running into danger’. So it is around diving in rather than standing on the edge. And I’ve mostly just stood on the edge, watching, working out what dangers could be present, but not acting. Thinking rather than acting. Rarely, if ever, ‘out of control’.
Like most things, I think there needs to be a balance.
Risking versus Control
I guess we all gain control of our environments in different ways and for different reasons. But I’m seeing that for me, as a details person and consequently perhaps a control freak of a sort. I think that I’ve needed to feel in control because I’m constantly sorting through so much minutiae in how I look at the world .. and needing to hold all those threads together and feel like I know what will happen next, and to have a sense of certainty over what will happen – not be tossed to the whim of the Universe or somebody else’s agenda. And I’ve had a determined mission to do things my way so that implies a fair need to control things and have them the way I like them. And to me it makes sense because it is what allows me to be in the world living toward my potential rather than sucked dry by external demands and expectations.
This is also an old blueprint that I am currently unravelling and exploring. Looking to see what serves me and what no longer serves me so I’m not carrying baggage that is holding me back. And being a collector, I’m bound to have a bit of baggage.
As part of my constant search for clarity and simplicity, I have not sought risk that brings chaos and drama to my life. I think I have used risk to feel life, but for me risking has mostly been : solo, close to the edge, of my own choosing, interesting in some way, exploring in some sort of extreme / unconventional way, conscious.
Enough rambling here. Off now to complete my current module on ‘facilitate the empowerment of people with disability’. I feel more aware of the limitations of disability even just from my shoulder injury. It has been helpful in many different ways.
Say Yes! to the universe
‘Say Yes! to the Universe’ is a concept that really speaks to me. It fits my view of seeing life as a huge lesson and each thing that happens, say Yes! and trust that it is leading you to where you need to go. And in writing this I just saw a place where I’ve been saying No! .. and so I see it’s time to turn that around. It has been around a determined refusal to shift my thinking and clinging to what is familiar and comfortable.
Is there anybody out there?
If you’ve read this and would like to respond with your own views or experiences of risk, please do.
So much for my questioning whether I could write a daily post. The answer is clearly no, because I need space. My need for space and freedom has driven my whole life, and I’m not going to suddenly impose a public daily discipline on myself. I will allow myself the freedom to choose my own agenda. The main reason I would make a regular commitment would be as a form of discipline to force me out of my comfort zone. But I’ve done enough stretching out of my comfort zone lately so I’m happy to give myself some leeway. For the past two weeks I’ve had a shock to the system with 40 hour weeks, starting 6.30am, doing work that has had me on a steep learning curve. It’s part of a process of completely shifting and transforming my life. It includes leaving behind the work that has been my main source of a meagre income since finishing school, and what has typically felt like my only ‘marketable’ skill – architectural drafting. The new work I am training for is as a carer, specifically aged care for people living in their homes. So it’s a shift toward people rather than ideas. And I’ve spent my life avoiding people and only pursuing ideas .. so it is quite a dramatic turnaround for me. I’m only intending to do this work part time while I continue to push ahead with my other ventures .. but it feels good to be helping people and to be able to sustain myself in the process.
I feel as though I have been throwing myself into ‘life’ lately. Jumping into this course was very spontaneous and I hadn’t quite grasped what I was jumping into at the time. I didn’t realise my whole life would go on hold as a result .. right when I was fully inspired to do so many other things. But all those things have to wait until this course is done and my new life begins.
For a while I’ve been saying that my life will begin next year. I feel like I’ve been in a holding chamber and I’m getting ready to step out. Writing this blog is part of my process of letting go of old ideas and structures.
“Not enough time”
This has been a trigger of mine most of my life .. a constant feeling that I need more time to do whatever it is I want to do (and consequently loading up my to do list it seems in order to have a sense of moving forward. And this year I have been taking on so many more courses, having planned at the beginning of the year that I would put a stop to doing any more courses. So I’ve been very reluctant to start any new courses – and yet I have taken on three courses this year that have stretched me in different ways and been part of my life transformation. And they have also led me to places that were uncomfortable and had me look at my life in ways I hadn’t before.
I’ve decided that ultimately, my purpose with this blog is an exploration of Life. And a raw and open exploration at that. I think I am in a process of opening up .. and exploring the world in new ways.
We experience and relate to the world with beliefs and structures that are carried unconsciously. I’ve started to uncover some of the ways I believed the world to be and see them as simply blueprints formed early in life that have impacted how I have related to the world and particularly to people. In seeing the patterns I have the opportunity to change them .. though that isn’t as easy as it seems, after a lifetime of practice. My particular blueprint has been a need to have time alone, lots of time, to think and dream and plan and explore .. and it has been strongly a pattern of moving away from people. The work I am starting to do challenges this pattern in a big way.
This year is disappearing. It’s a strange feeling. I have my general angst over ‘not enough time’ .. but the same time I’m in a bit of a time warp, and in a process of letting go of timing and ‘pushing’ and allowing things to collapse and transform. While I need to start making some money – which has been hugely scarce with my attention consumed by my course – at a time I had created an opportunity to start making money selling the Circle of Life rings – I’ve had to let go of the urgency and trust that things were where they needed to be. And while I haven’t completely abandoned the idea of drafting drawings for projects and designs – I’ve given up relying on it as a source of income – and that is very liberating.
We are approaching New Moon and I wonder what I will consciously let go of this time round. What physical, mental or emotional baggage will I let go of. The physical is easy to see. My house has an overabundance of ‘stuff’ that I need to sort through and clear. So far, using the Konmari process, I have cleansed my wardrobe and that has been so refreshing. Here are some photos of my drawers. Clarity! I didn’t take a ‘before’ picture, but just imagine twice as much stuff in a messy pile.
Clear and ordered tops drawer
Clear and ordered undies drawer
Apart from my clothes, my life is in a state of having been tipped out and is in a process of clearing, reordering and choosing.
I asked for some guidance in meditation tonight and got the message that ‘my voice’ can connect my heart and my mind. In other words, I need to keep writing and sharing my voice. I know that this is my journey. And it feels both meaningless and meaningful at the same time.
I have said enough for now, and I’m struggling to stay awake.
My bed is calling me.
I’ve been writing regularly on this blog lately with today being my 7th day in a row. I’ve been wondering whether I should carry on this jaunt of writing every day or whether I should allow my writing to wax and wane. I know periods of silence will be necessary .. but it seems that since I’m on a bit of a roll, that I had best continue.
Right now my energy is waning. I was up and ‘at work’ earlier than I would normally even be awake. I left a sleeping 10 year old to have to get himself up, dressed, breakfasted, lunch packed into bag and trek to the bus stop all on his own for the first time ever. I expect, like the times he’s gone off on trips without me, that his confidence will jump up a notch, which must be good thing. I’m really lucky to have such a cool, calm and capable son. He doesn’t have the hang ups that I have .. being much more of the relaxed type .. but nor does he have the same drive. But he’s driven in his own way and I feel very blessed.
I didn’t know if I’d even write today given my tiredness .. but this writing feels a bit like meditation .. a healthy practice in support of my evolution.
Ironically, my tendency to want lots of time to do things and not feel rushed is coming to light from a different perspective this next couple of weeks by people who themselves need plenty of time to do things. I think I’ll be able to keep exploring life and myself in a different way during my work experience. It is challenging me in interesting ways. My goal is to work in the community, helping people to stay independent. But my requisite work experience is in a nursing home where everyone is quite dependent. 8 hours down, 112 hours to go.
I was meant to be working on assignments right now .. but instead I’m writing this and preparing to switch off so I’m not too tired tomorrow (like today after about 4.5 hours sleep).
Blessings on the journey .. :)
I’m letting inspiration guide my writing at the moment .. and ‘learning to feel’ is a lesson I am currently learning .. to become aware of and open with my feelings. In my household growing up, joyful and happy feelings were much appreciated .. while painful emotions caused deep distress or disconnect. So I learnt to cut off from my emotions. Over time I made a virtue of it. It was a case of mind over matter.
Such a strategy developed in early childhood isn’t likely to carry us through life without any hiccups. My cutting off from feelings, along with a cutting off from needs, also made me need to cut off from people. And while I managed ‘on my own’ for more than 42 years .. it came to take me down through a spiralling circle of confusion and escapism. What helped me to come out of my pit of despair was the realisation that I needed to connect with people and speak out.
I started a new job today. The goal is to support aged people to live at home, though my work experience is at a nursing home. In a lovely twist this work is, for me, about independence and connection at the same time. It feels like the next step in an upward spiral I’ve been on. I am very protective of my time and energy and have always been resistant to working with people too much lest my energy get completely drained. But I’m discovering that learning to be present to my own needs and feelings (which I never have been) .. and practicing being in my body and grounding myself (another thing I haven’t been conscious to do) is how I can be with people and stay open but not allow myself to get lost in the process.
And talking of lost .. which I now discover is an offshoot from cutting off from emotions .. I’ve been thinking about how I have spent my whole life feeling lost and constantly searching for an answer that explains life, the universe and everything. And my biggest breakthroughs around being lost have been:
1996-ish : bushwalking in Kakadu when I got completely lost and by connecting inward to intuition (due to extreme urgency) – and found my way back in a magical way.
2001-ish – Landmark Education course – discovered ‘my act’ was “I don’t know”. When discovered this, the flash of insight about how I’d almost driven myself crazy with getting stuck in loops in my thinking. For some weeks after the realisation and clarity, I felt confident, I knew what I wanted, I felt at peace, my constant hesitation had a rest.
2014 : discovered the Enneagram and felt like my understanding of people all fell into place. It felt like a mind blowing experience and has brought me a lot of peace. I guess I feel less lost and confused now that I can understand better how and why people respond to the world in different ways .. and it also gave me a lot more compassion for myself and how I had experienced the world.
2016: started opening up about my thoughts and feelings to a friend, and this has been a really clarifying and liberating experience. Also talking to a psychologist who is helping me to make sense of my world and my life. For the first time I started to feel what I wanted, and ask for it.
It seems that returning to feelings is my pathway to having direction in my life. And it makes sense really .. because when I just thought about how directions feel when disconnected from feelings I had a vision of a person with a crazy scramble of thoughts happening in his head. And, well, moving ultimately happens with the body, not the head .. so moving to the senses makes sense.
I have two weeks, as of tomorrow, with a job placement with early mornings. It’s only for a short time .. but it is bound to be a big shock to my system. I’ll be started work before I’d normally even be awake. It feels like a baptism of fire. I guess I’ll have to start having early nights. I have a sense it could be what I need to properly shift me into a healthier and more productive lifestyle (i.e. going to bed earlier and waking up earlier). And I have some huge resistance to ‘conforming’ .. though it is only temporary. I’m starting to see how I have resistance to ‘having’ to do anything or to having to do things the way someone else tells me. And of course I’ve done plenty of both .. but my point is that I see that as a response to my childhood (I think my nature defied conformity) and it is a pattern, or a blueprint, that I am carrying with me. And I have an opportunity to have a different experience .. simply by bringing consciousness to the situation.
And so .. life becomes an adventure .. so long as I keep throwing myself into it. When I withdraw I have lots of fun mind adventures .. but ultimately there is an emptiness. By being in life I am confronted with feelings of pain and discomfort .. and I think it is the memory of the emptiness and a sense of hope that has me push through the swamp .. and conscious of the fact that in the muck, is life.
I will sign off for now ..
Onward march ..
We are moving into a big full moon tomorrow, and things feel pretty big all round.
Through my Shine Your Light journey of three months we have been moving in alignment with the moon, so I feel the energy of this full moon in my life.
Tomorrow things come to a bit of a head with my first day of work experience .. having to start early and have my boy do his first solo walk across the trunk road to the bus stop in the morning. That feels big in itself. He is super capable so it isn’t an issue, but it is still a form of letting go. Starting my 120 hours work experience at a local nursing home – which isn’t exactly the work I’m moving into since I’m planning to work in the community – feels pretty momentous. And my first experience of Playback Theatre tomorrow night – which I’m rather nervous about. I am definitely being forced out of my comfort zone in many different ways.
The aikido teaching still has me almost over the edge of my comfort zone to the point I’ve considered cutting the rope altogether. But of course I won’t. Will I?
I discovered today that I am an Ambivalent. I am someone who sees both (or every) side to a situation and cannot therefore take sides. It can be agonising. I’m seeing that I need to get really clear about my vision and what I want to work towards, so that my direction will be clearer and decisions easier. I would say the biggest gift in being an ambivalent is in the creative realm .. because it invites the opportunity explore lots of different approaches to a problem. The challenge is finally deciding .. and cutting off the other possibilities. This is something I’ve never been good at. I think most of my life has happened through indecision rather than decision, and I have allowed myself to be pushed and pulled by new opportunities to understand the world. My explorations have included architecture, sculpture, landscape design, music, trades, gambling, drugs, meditation, spirituality, business, travel, craft, play, philosophy, anthropology, design, house construction, gardening, politics, self development, video creation, website creation and art. The thread in it all I would say is around finding a way to live in the world that is sustainable and productive. This has been a huge challenge. But I am getting close.
I started this blog post with the title ‘Opening up’ before I knew what I was going to write about. I think the essence of what I am experiencing at the moment is a process of letting go and releasing that allows for more relaxation and ease. This is coming about partly due to a better understanding of why I’ve experienced life in the way that I have. And part of my letting go is gathering this collection of words and putting it in a public place as an act of vulnerability .. but knowing that this is a journey I am on to practice my writing .. and working out what I want to say .. and opening up my life and myself to the world.
I’ve already had my sensation of leaping and free-falling. I thought I had landed .. but right now I’m a bit swept up by a wave.
I need to stop procrastinating and get on with an oppressive amount of assignments I’ve been avoiding.
Ever onwards ..
I’m in a transitional phase at the moment. I seem to have been in this phase a long time .. but things seem to be shifting more and more.
I’m about to move from one project to the next .. leave my website alone for a while so I can work on the final modules of the course I’m doing. Today I have had another day to myself with Joey away at Cub Scout camp .. and I have made some progress including taking some photos to get a new headshot. The one above is what I chose, taken on the trampoline.
Here are some other photos I like:
And that is part of my stepping forward.
My next big step will be doing a big update on Instagram.
There are seven weeks until the end of the year. In that time I intend to finish my work experience, and move towards an end of year launch with the rings – since I see them as perfect for marking people’s words for the new year. So I will make that my focus. And then next year, my life can be up and running.
I’m coming up to the end of a year of money journeying with The Art of Money. It has been such a huge year that I haven’t been able to give that course the attention it needed. And I need to decide whether to join up again and have company on the journey next year .. or whether to go it alone with the materials I have. I do credit much of my transformation this year to that course so I suspect I will join again .. but right now I’m still holding back from deciding.
Ambivalence over decision making is something I have lived with for most of my life and something I’m learning I need to respond to. Weighing things up and trying to make a decision can be challenging for me .. especially when time, energy or money are involved. Knowing how much this had held me back (which isn’t always a bad thing) my challenge now is to choose and then run with whatever decision I make – not to double back and feel regret. And it all comes down to getting in touch with my feelings. The threshold of decision making is one I’m always careful to cross .. and much of my life I’ve avoided even making decisions meaning I’ve probably been swept along by other people’s agendas most of the time.
Another new practice is around opening up and staying grounded. Most of my life I have tended to shut down from connection out of a fear of being overwhelmed or overtaken by others needs. I’m starting to see where this belief has come from and am learning that I need to stay open while also looking after my own needs. Since I had shut down to any needs in the past as a way of rejecting people (essentially) .. I’m starting to become more compassionate, inquisitive and outspoken about my own needs and desires. So I am bringing myself to be in the world rather than forever wanting to run away from it.
As I look at my life and my response to my experiences, I see that there is a wild element within me, a sort of inner fire, that has refused to conform – and I think that is simply my unique soul journey reacting to any constraints put upon it. That doesn’t really make sense, but I’ll say it anyway. I think what I’ve held onto is a sort of fierce independence .. but like so much I am discovering lately .. it’s probably all the result of some sort of decision I made early on .. perhaps one where I felt unseen, misunderstood and totally alone. Or maybe the feeling was in me from the start and part of my life lesson – which I would say off the top of my head right now is the realisation that we are all connected.
I wrote out answers to create a profile statement as part of completing the Shine Your Light journey (also why I took the headshots). It was good to reflect on what my vision is since it gets more clear and focused each time I do it. My responses were:
I’m Charmaine Grace
Explorer, writer, designer, creator.
I serve people looking for more meaning and connection on their journey of life.
I create Circle of Life rings.
I’m in the process of creating large interactive sculptures for public spaces that offer opportunities for connection and fresh perspectives.
I love to explore things in order to have clarity and understanding.
I want people to feel more conscious and connected, and to know that they are not alone.
My Big Why :
Inspiring Evolution with Clarity in Action
So, a while back I learnt about a tendency of my personality type (Enneagram type 5) .. it was a sort of joke .. that rather than ‘ready, set, go ..’ instead we get stuck in ‘ready, ready, ready ..’. This analogy described my experience so well .. of overthinking things and holding back from taking action. And I’ve been taking it upon myself to step into things since then that I wouldn’t otherwise .. and it’s all been a bit of a waking up process.
So today, 11.11, is the official ‘launch day’ with my Shine Your Light fellow goddesses :). My launch is the making available of the Circle of Life rings through a Paypal button on my website. My goal is to have this sorted and up by / at 11.11 tonight. I do enjoy having fun with numbers, I must admit.
Today I walked the labyrinth in Dorrigo with some fellow adventurers ..
I’m noticing my wrinkles .. but at least they are smile lines :)
And I currently have a not so happy camper who does NOT want to go away on another camp tomorrow morning. It is a Cub Scout overnight camp, and for the first time I am not joining in. I am giving myself the time and space to work on assignments that I have due by Tuesday for the Individual Support (Aged Care) course I am coming close to finishing. And I also have two or three weeks of work experience in a nursing home starting on Monday – though I’m planning to work in the community once the course is over.
I’m tying up loose ends.
I’ve drawn a line in the sand in terms of doing architectural drafting to support myself. I now plan to only use those skills for my own projects. This is a massive breakthrough. It’s been like stepping across a threshold.
On Monday, with some sort of super full moon, I’ll be attending a Playback Theatre event that’s been set up by a friend and fellow Shine Your Light priestess. I’m a bit nervous about it – but nothing a bit of breathing won’t deal with.
If I look at my life as a wave, it is at a stage where it is building in momentum and getting ready to land. My challenge is to simply keep breathing and keep taking steps forward. I’ve had such a connected time lately .. and this is really unusual for me. But it has also been really lovely and fun.
Things seems to be speeding up .. but at enough of a rate that I can handle it. I’ve had a strange yet wonderful day. It’s 9.10pm and I haven’t even stopped to have breakfast .. though I stopped and had an apple and some cashews before my aikido class.
I’ve been wondering about this blog .. and who I’m talking to .. and in essence I figured I could just do what I do which is talk to myself, but do it in the public eye .. and if anyone wants to listen or contribute, they can. I’m making it all up as I go along anyway.
So .. some more thoughts I’ve had about Trump – his election and place in world politics turns it all into a bit of a circus .. and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. And another thought is that perhaps it’s better having overt racism that can be responded to, rather than covert racism. I think bringing things out into the open is an opportunity to deal with and transform them. You see .. I always try and look at the positives in any situation. It’s a skill I realise I’ve developed in response to my super positive mum .. who had an almost blind refusal to see the negative (which it seems sent me down a giant rabbit hole of confusion).
< sigh > I seem to be doing lots of releasing at the moment. At long last. I’m seeing .. with the help of others .. how my perspective on the world has been limited and limiting. Something I got present to today was how little I breathe .. how I almost cut off from life in that way. And for so long I’ve found ways to live with minimum effort or energy spent on food. And my pattern has been to withdraw from the world.
And what I’m seeing is a pattern developed in early childhood that I am carrying with me now. In essence this is a feeling that the world (which was my mum) demands too much of me and doesn’t understand me, and my response was to withdraw into my shell and do things on my own.
In a cosmic twist, the Ulysses butterfly, which I have just turned into 1000 tattoos as part of my Circles of Life launch, can no longer (presently) be seen in captivity in Australia. The day after my tattoos arrived, a friend saw a sign at the local butterfly house, saying:
“In recent months the entire captive population of Ulysses butterflies has collapsed. The hundreds of caterpillars being reared in North Queensland, on behalf of 3 major butterfly houses in Australia, have died. Efforts to re-establish a captive population by introducing ‘wild stock’, caught under Queensland government permit have also failed. The species seems to have disappeared from most accessible areas of its range.”
This message says to me that we can’t tame nature, we can’t control everything, and to try to do so destroys the very thing you love so much. I feel a sense of relief that the Ulysses can only fly free. What a poignant reminder.
Tomorrow, 11/11, is officially ‘launch day’ for the Shine Your Light course I’ve been part of. It’s now 10.36pm (I’m finally eating – vegie and tofu stif fry) .. and my next thing to do is to look at what I need to do for the launch. I might add that my delightfully spontaneous day is partly due to the fact that my son is away on a school camp today .. so I’ve had a day without parental responsibilities .. and more freedom than usual. And like yesterday I’ve had another day with lots of inspiring connection .. and again nine people .. my magic number ..
And maybe I shouldn’t say it but I will anyway .. one of the things I am in the process of coming to peace with is the fact I’ve landed myself in a slightly triggering situation having been thrown in as the teacher of a kids aikido class. On the one hand it feels like it is a sort of lesson from the Universe being handed to me on a platter. But it is also a situation I feel like I didn’t choose to be in and that I have to step up and accept. But I’ve been reminded that I have to be conscious not to reenact my childhood feeling of entrapment and lack of choice, and to CHOOSE to do it. I am still in the process of choosing. I am sure I will choose .. but I haven’t chosen yet.
And another realisation before I sign off for today .. related to my lifetime of avoiding people since having cut off from all needs and desires I didn’t need them. My experience was that people, especially needy or demanding people, represented a drain on my energy. And I’ve realised that I’ve had the same feelings in relation to reading fiction – seeing it as more of a drain on my time than thinking about the joy and pleasure it can bring.
Enough said. It’s time to sign off before I shift into ‘launch day’ :). Thank goodness for deadlines or things would drag on forever. Though I’m doing a very low key launch .. I’m not quite ready for anything bigger .. simply making these rings available is a big step in the journey.
I plan to make an OMG ring in response to yesterday’s election.
Anyway .. Ever onwards ..
.. I broke the wing of my first Ulysses ..
Today marks my 46th revolution around the sun. My birthday has always felt quite significant to me. It marked the day the Berlin wall came down just a month after I left Berlin. That was unexpected .. and lovely. But today .. Oh My God .. it marks the day that Donald Trump has become president of the U.S.A. Oh My God. Those words keep coming out. I can’t believe it. I’ve been in shock. Could such a thing be possible?! Obviously it is. It’s like the fall of the Roman Empire. The pinnacle of pure greed.
That Donald got to where he got to felt like a miracle to me. I was in shock about that alone. But .. Oh My God. Mind blowing. I have a lot of trouble seeing anything positive in this even though I try and look at things from every perspective. It actually feels really scary. Like .. what is the world coming to??! Having grown up around politicians I’ve spent my life trying to avoid anything to do with politics, including watching campaigns. I managed to avoid this one pretty well too. But it seemed to be an absolute no brainer ,, #nottrump. I couldn’t even believe that someone such as Trump could seriously be elected.
Have we entered a New World Order? In some sense, yes. This election really marks a SHIFT. What will change?
There are so many different ways this election and shift could be be explored. I’m interested in how it fares for world peace. I’m also fascinated by the power that some people can have and the moral integrity of those people – in a holistic sense. I’m fascinated by human nature – and what this election victory represents.
But onto a less shocking topic .. my day :)
I’ve been making big shifts in my life and today was my best birthday ever – even with this shock.
Unlike most birthdays where my desire has been to disconnect – I’ve had a really connected day. Both by plan and by chance I have spoken to a lot of people today .. nine people to be exact .. and some pleasantly deep conversations too. And I’ve gotten connected to the earth and myself with a massage, a delivery of soil to start my garden and some stretching.
And I picked up a new book from the post office ‘ Where on earth did the Enneagram come from?’ .. one of my obsessions. I’ll add that to the other book I’m reading right at this moment, ‘If you Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!’.
And I had a most validating and liberating third ever psychologist session with whose help I’m finally feeling more at peace with the world and how I can exist within it.
I think today will go down in history as one of those days where you say “Where were you when you found out that Donald Trump might (or would) become president?”.
It’s 9/11 ..
Welcome to the new world order.
My intention is to paint a bit of a picture of my life’s journey, as I traverse it. I’ve seen my whole life as an exploration toward understanding what life is about and why we are here. And lately I’ve been making some big discoveries and shifting my experience of the world in some big ways.
So I will start, in this moment, a warm spring day that is my first day of ‘stopping’ after being on ‘go’ for way too long. And as fortune would have it I’ve had a massage which has loosened lots of knots and eased a lot of tension.
And now I have this time to write.
And for the hell of it I’m going to start to tell my story .. which I’m working out as I go. And perhaps some of my breakthroughs could help others to break through their own barriers.
It is a sign of how far I have come that I can be prepared to share my view of the world, as I see it, without fear of hurting of offending .. or perhaps being hurt or offended. I have gotten to a rather liberating realisation of the truth of life as I see it, and have confidence enough to speak up and risk sounding stupid, but knowing that it’s the speaking up that matters. Because speaking opens up the world.
‘Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind’.
– attributed to Dr Seuss – apparently wrongly – but I’m sure he would agree.
I started this year stepping into a new paradigm as part of a yearlong online course I am doing. The approach included checking into the body to observe feelings – particularly around money. And I discovered that I was really out of touch with my feelings. As I started to reconnect with my feelings I felt like I started to come back to life and it was an amazing experience of reconnection. But the connection led to a plummeting back to earth and to feelings of pain. But overall, joy or pain, it was an experience of being alive and was like a re-awakening.
Cutting a long story short, this year I have explored feelings, felt into feelings, and started a process of releasing with feelings. And a big part of this has come about through my ‘speaking out’.
My big latest breakthrough is discovering an explanation for why I have felt the confusion and lostness and endless searching unease my whole life. It comes down to an early decision to cut off from my feelings. The explanation for this is ’emotional invalidation’ (more below). This is such a breakthrough to me because I see a pathway to recovering from my ‘craziness’ .. now that I see the cause.
Right now I’m in the middle of a crazy tumultuous time of trying to do too many things – which leads me into overwhelm. But ’emotional invalidation’ also explains my tendency to get caught in overwhelm .. so there is hope. In a sort of cauldron of intensity I have been trying to do way too much in the past year and things are approaching high intensity with some full time work experience for one of my courses coming up in just over a week. So I’m currently getting my life sorted, and my head sorted, my house sorted, my garden sorted .. getting a grip on what my priorities are and doing a major overhaul.
For two years I did a challenge of taking and sharing #365days of photos on Instagram. I did a nosedive with that early this year. Life felt too raw. But I am preparing to start again. It feels very vulnerable to put photos of my life onto the internet. But it’s good too. A healthy challenge. Courage will prevail.
Circles of Life
I am due to officially launch my ‘Circles of Life’ (words for the journey) rings on 11/11 .. with butterfly tattoos being printed right now. I plan to start simply with a Paypal button on this website. An Etsy shop is also underway. I’m making a short video to share the concept and the journey.
I feel like I am becoming so much clearer in my understanding of the world lately. Like stepping through a threshold. I’ve been quite obsessed with clarity for a long time. I see how I have wanted it in every area of my life .. in a desperate attempt to deal with the minutia of life. Without letting go of thoughts, ideas or things, (but careful selection) my life has been a process of increasing clutter with random glimpse of clarity. I am finally starting the process of letting go.
In the last couple of months I discovered and was inspired by the Konmari method of clearing space by keeping only those things that ‘spark joy’. This is a breakthrough concept for me for where I am at in life right now. I’ve started with my clothes and felt a profound SHIFT. Books are next. I’ve started by emptying out all my books from the top floor and started to categorise them. It is an interesting insight into what inspires me most.
This is the beginning of sorting my books .. a drop in the ocean – but a definite path to clarity
My life has felt like a rather crazy journey to find the meaning of life. I have lived in a state of openness to all possibilities and explored with bold and solitary determination.
It has been an uphill battle for quite a while,and the journey has involved lots of wandering around in circles. I haven’t even been sure of what I was seeking.
But I feel like I’ve sighted the summit. I’ve shifted things in such a way that I’ve created a way I can exist happily, and connect with the world, and use my gifts, and finally be at peace.
And as I sight the summit I see a reason for my wandering around in circles .. and it has come in part from my disconnection with my feelings.
A sense of hope
The myriad windy paths feel like they are starting to converge. There are still too many of them, but they are feeling aligned.
And so I feel hope that my life is shifting to a better place. Yet each tiny step helps. And today, my rather big step is to set up my new washing line so I can finally have an easy and efficient way for hanging out washing and life can start to feel easier.
Hopelessness, about the world and my ability to be in it, has long held me back from expressing myself.
Emotional invalidation happens when feelings or emotions are made to feel wrong. A sensitive child whose emotions are invalidated becomes confused and begins to distrust their own emotions. Confident and healthy use of the emotional brain becomes stunted and to adapt to this unhealthy and disfunctional environment, the relationship between thoughts and feeling becomes twisted. Emotional development is impaired. Invalidating or denying emotions leads to psychological distress, anxiety and depression. Rejecting feelings is rejecting reality. It is to fight nature.
For me, I think it happened quite innocently. My mum is distressed by emotional pain, and in order to keep the peace and not inflict pain I decided that I would simply cut off from feelings. But that one bold decision has led to a life of indecision and feeling lost and on guard. So the peace pact turned the war to within me.
I feel so validated reading some symptoms of emotional invalidation. I’m not crazy after all. Just disconnected.
- ambivalence over emotional expression
- thought suppression
- avoidant stress response
- feeling overwhelmed by decision making or just overwhelmed in your ability to function in daily life
- sets us up for a disconnected relationship with who we really are
- disconnection with needs
- feeling emotions as ‘wrong’
- distrust own feelings
- significant predictor of depression and anxiety symptoms
- doubt ourselves
- dismiss or minimise our true feelings
- constantly question ourselves
- operates to block our true feelings, self and needs
- addictions to ease the pain we feel when we are disconnected from who we really are
My life has felt like an infinite puzzle. But some major pieces are falling into place.
Another big discovery I made about 1 3/4 years ago, was that I need to speak up. I had gotten so used to battening down the hatches and keeping to myself and endlessly thinking without speaking, that I started to drive myself crazy.
I discovered that my being quiet wasn’t serving me, and wasn’t serving the world either. This blog is a part of that journey.
My lesson right now is on ‘being’ .. coming down to earth, being in my body, feeling whatever comes up as part of being alive and breathing into it .. not trying to escape it. And of course, pushing through the unpleasantness.
And slowly .. my life is evolving ..
This post is another step in my journey.
Welcome to Ulysses, part of the beauty, joy and expression I am sharing as part of my own journey.
Something I’ve learnt and practiced throughout my life is holding back .. holding back from saying anything that might offend, from having an opinion on anything, from making decisions, from life really..
What does this holding back give me? I think the biggest thing it gives me is it buys me time, it allows me to think long and hard about anything before taking any action so when I finally do take action it is well thought out and every idea and option has been considered.
I’m in a process of emptying out all my thoughts and parts of my life into piles so I can sort through them in order to work out what to keep and what to discard. Because after 45 years of gathering (ideas, thoughts, stuff) I am feeling overwhelmed by clutter – both mental and physical – and it is impacting how I deal with / cope with life.
Releasing this now rather than waiting till it’s finished.