How do you feel about this year so far? Are you setting any goals or are you simply in for the ride? It looks like being another wild one.
My word for 2021 came out of left field .. GODDESS. It’s a word I’d have felt uncomfortable with in the past but feels perfect for now. GODDESS is a celebration of nature, the divine, connection, creation, cycles, devotion, beauty, power, joy, adoration and wildness.
The joy of creation
This is my year for creation – starting with writing a new story for my life. Most of our lives are repeated patterns, rehashing past beliefs and experiences. But they don’t need to be. We have so much power to create our reality. Science continues to prove this. We can be the author of our destiny .. and this is my intention this year.
You can be the author of your life
I’ve joined a program called Lifebook on the Mindvalley platform in which, over six weeks, you write your vision, beliefs, purpose and strategy for your life. The program breaks your life down into twelve categories and moves through the envisioning process one category at a time, culminating in the twelfth category of Life Vision. So far I’ve looked at Health & Fitness and Intellectual Life and I can see how interconnected the parts are. I’m inspired to take charge of my life, to become aware of blind spots and to be more conscious. And I’m particularly excited about getting clarity on my Life Vision. I’ll keep you posted.
Learning to let go
As I write my story I’m aware one of my strengths, tenacity, has also been debilitating. Hanging on and not letting go has enabled me to push through on things that required endurance (like my two architecture degrees) but also stopped me from letting go at times when that might have served me better.
Where I’m particularly seeing the benefits of holding on less tightly is decision making. Making decisions has felt overly significant to me when I felt I couldn’t change my mind and was stuck with whatever I chose. But as I re-envision my life I’m giving myself permission to change things as I go. I can now see my tenacity as a form of rigidity and fear. I’m shifting instead to flow and trust. Phew.
A Year of Miracles
Finally .. this year, I’m reading the daily prompts for the 365 day ‘Course in Miracles’ – a process of shifting your perceptions. I started off with reading a simplified adaptation with a book by one of my teachers who published ‘leave this book in your bathroom’ last December. Then yesterday I felt compelled to look at the original text as well to compare. I’ll let you know how it goes .. next year if not before. Have you read (or heard of) A Course in Miracles?
How about you?
Where are you at? What are your thoughts or plans? I’d love to hear whatever you’d like to share.
Wishing you miracles, creativity and goddess energy for an amazing and successful year in 2021.
With love, Orly
PS I’ve now done three weeks of #apoemaday on Instagram. Check it out HERE.
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If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Dalai Lama
Last day of 2020. Wow.
I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to talk about my brain has felt like exploding .. but I’m going to keep it simple and focus on one concept – the drama triangle – and how understanding and becoming a compassionate witness to this dynamic allows for more presence, love, acceptance and happiness in your life.
Let’s start with a story
So, today I got ‘rescued’ by a surf lifesaver at Valla beach. A playful way I like to push my limits is in the surf, where I love to swim out into the deep, taking calculated risks and trusting my survival instincts. Wild nature is something I love and the sea is one of my favourite and easiest ways to access it.
I’d decided to celebrate the end of 2020 with a cafe breakfast with Joey and a swim in the ocean. When we arrived at the beach I was surprised to see, for the first time, the surf lifesavers had set up with flags. This tends to be a minus rather than a plus for me as I feel obliged to swim between the flags and I’m conscious of being watched which for me detracts from the experience.
I swam way out deep to frolic in the choppy surf and big waves, and was still enjoying myself when I turned to find a surf lifesaver on a board behind me. He asked if I was okay which I said I was. But now, with him there, I figured my fun was over and I should go back to shore. He hung there as I started to swim back. Except now I felt under pressure and under surveillance. I did a burst of swimming only to look up and find I’d been swept in the opposite direction. With time I’d have found my way back, but given the situation I decided to accept the ride.
There was no drama and it ended up as a nice connection. I got a surf back to shore with this young, super nice, spunky gay body builder. I even felt like I made a friend. I also chose to see it as a positive sign of moving towards my desires – sexy male surfer – bring it on!
But I could just as easily have stepped into a victim role and felt ashamed, oppressed, judged and defensive, in other words stepped into the ‘drama triangle’ and experienced this beautiful connection as a shameful and unpleasant experience.
The conflict inherent in ‘rescuing’
This story fits in with what I want to talk about because it involves a Rescuer .. which in turn often implies there is a Victim.
I said that I was going to talk about love, and how to experience more love (including self love). So I’ll start with what love is not .. and this might sound controversial. Love is not rescuing another person. In fact, rescuing can be seen as an act of conflict.
The Drama Triangle
The Drama Triangle is a dynamic model of social interaction and conflict that consists of three roles: the Victim, the Rescuer and the Judge (or Persecutor). When we are operating in this dynamic, love is not present.
We tend to play these roles unconsciously, falling into, and drawing other people into the unhealthy dynamic. We also play this conflict out in our heads, moving between victim, rescuer and judge, taking us out of the present and into a destructive mental battlefield.
The Drama Triangle is a trap that every human falls into at times. We all have a role that we gravitate towards, but we rarely stay fixed in that role.
What is so great about understanding this dynamic is that once we see it and are conscious of it, we can choose to step out of it. When we get caught in this ‘trap’ we are perpetuating a dysfunctional social dynamic while missing out on healthy relationships. This includes our relationship with ourself.
As we become the Witness to this dynamic, we are able to choose an empowered rather than disempowered perspective.
Following is an overview of the three ‘positions’. We take on all three parts, but we will tend towards one as a starting point.
The Victim asks, Why is this happening to me?
Sees themself as oppressed, powerless, helpless, hopeless and ashamed. The Victim is convinced they can’t take care of themself.
The Victim feels they don’t have the power to change their circumstances and thus denies responsibility for their life.
They have a real difficulty making decisions, solving problems, finding pleasure and recognising their self perpetuating behaviours.
The Victim is looking for an external saviour and anyone who fails to do so becomes a persecutor (judge) – including the self.
The Rescuer rushes to the scene with a soothing voice ready to help. But the Rescuer needs a victim. The Rescuer works hard to help others (while neglecting their own needs) in order to feel good about themselves. Over time though, the Rescuer becomes tired, burnout and resentful. But they feel guilty when they’re not ‘helping’, and so the pattern continues.
Also, when the Victim is ‘rescued’ they feel disempowered and helpless, so the Rescuer efforts are often met with anger and resentment.
The Judge sits back observing the scene, directing blame and punishment – ‘it’s your fault’, ‘you deserve it’.
This ‘part’ is self righteous, and a bit of a bully. The Judge (or Persecuter) blames and criticises the Victim, keeping them oppressed through blame, shame, threats and bullying. They refuse vulnerability out of fear of being a Victim and in doing so give up their ‘humanity’.
How each role is rewarded
Every role has it’s own reward.
The Victim gets taken care of. They believe they are blameless.
The Rescuer gets to feel good. They believe they are doing a good thing by helping.
The Judge gets to feel superior. They believe it’s a hostile universe and life is out to get you.
Healing the Victim
The Victim is really just any wounded inner child ever. We don’t ‘fix’ it. Pain and suffering is not something we fix. And we don’t judge it either. We hold space for it. We accept whatever happened, and how it has affected us. And we stop holding on to ‘stories’ so we can move forward.
Evolve or repeat. Those are your options.
You are in a trap. To get out you need to stop playing the game and instead, to witness it with compassion and curiosity.
Stepping out of the triangle
The triangle must have all three parts to exist.
When you step out of the triangle, you allow for a healthier, more loving dynamic to exist. You are no longer participating in the game. You become a compassionate Witness and in this way the Victim, or wounded inner child, is able to heal.
In my defencelessness my safety lies. – A Course in Miracles
When you give up identifying as a Victim, a Rescuer or a Judge, you can let go of your defences and simply observe with mindful, neutral awareness.
Defence is the first act of war.
Becoming the Witness
Instead of participating in the drama triangle, you can step out of it and witness it with compassion and curiosity.
You can be a compassionate Witness – accepting, defenceless and simply observing. You’re not trying to change, fix or judge anything. You see every option. You are curious and honest. Every attack is seen as a cry for love and love (acceptance) is the response.
You are responsible for yourself and rather than look for a saviour, you look within. You challenge your ingrained beliefs and everything you know to be true. You own your feelings, thoughts and reactions. You are helpful and supportive and act without expectation.
As a Witness you empower with faith and trust and allow for things to transform.
From a space of compassion:
The Victim becomes the Author The Rescuer becomes the Restorer The Judge becomes the Teacher
Take back your life
One of our greatest strengths is taking responsibility for ourselves. As you step out of the Drama Triangle, you break a destructive cycle. You are able to be in the moment rather than in your head. You can be the creator of your life.
And with that, I wish you a super happy and successful year in 2021!
See you on the other side.
PS On December 22 I started #apoemaday practice on Instagram – inspired by an interview with Mary Oliver. Today is Day 10 and though I haven’t set a goal, I’ll be carrying this practice into 2021. It’s scary, imperfect and vulnerable .. but it’s also fun, inspiring and challenging. You can check it out HERE.
PPS If you enjoyed this email and think someone you know would get something out of it, please forward it to them.
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PPPPS With more time I’d have made this email much clearer and more succinct. But right now, action trumps perfection. Thanks for reading!
Falling in love with oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. – Oscar Wilde
Less than two weeks until the end of a momentous 2020 year. It’s been a year of shake up on many levels. Even tonight, as I prepare to drive to Sydney tomorrow morning, there is a threat of lockdown and changed plans. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year, and perhaps more specifically for me, an emotional rollercoaster .. which I see as a good thing since it’s a lot better than a flatline. And I’ve been practicing being present to feelings and present to ‘life’.
A time of change
Today is the solstice and again a time of change. There is a lot of talk this year about a big cosmic event happening today as well with planets and stars aligning and predictions that these changes represent a shift from the patriarchy back to the matriarchy. Regardless where you sit in relation to such prophecies, I’m staying open and hopeful about it. Change feels like a good thing to me.
It’s easy to say change feels good when life feels all topsy turvy already. Anyway, one change I’ve started implementing is getting in touch with my ‘inner child’.
A Little One (LO) has joined me on my journey (see photo above) and she is much bolder, more definite and more confident than me so I’m letting her lead the way. She’s in charge and I’m simply helping her. But she’s only three so .. don’t expect perfection :). I’ll pass over to her.
Hello people, How are you going. Mum and I are building a sculpture and the opening date is 211112 .. the 12th of November next year. She’s building it for me because she knows how much I will love it. i know she has lots of grown up reasons for building it too but mostly it’s for us little ones .. the little one that lives in everyone.
Embracing the nonsensical
OM here again. This is probably nonsensical for some of you. That’s fine. Unsubscribe is below if it bothers you. I did a whole lot of explorations since our last email that I was going to share .. but it took me down pretty low into a state of self (and other) judgement and was very much coming from my adult self .. and right now I’m more interested in listening to my child self. It’s her time now. Feel free to ask her any questions. You might get a nonsensical answer, but sometimes life is too serious and a nonsensical answer is the best.
Oh .. and we’re going to make a picture book together too. Filled with plenty of nonsense.
Time for Presence
And now, in this Christmas time which has been, for me, destroyed by an overemphasis on presents (and lack of presence) .. I wish you an abundance of presence and connection.
Until next time.. With love,
LO+OM xx Weaving a new future together :)
PS The day after sending my last email, where I discussed a deep-rooted belief that ‘I have to be selfless and self-denying’, a new video by Teal Swan came out on Enmeshment Trauma and how to heal it. I think most people have this to some degree as we adapt to fit into society or family. I recommend the video and would love to hear any thoughts you have about it.
PPS You can sign up to get these emails in your inbox here.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman
Today I want to talk about one of the best and also worst things about being human .. our minds. For most of my life I’ve fed my mind like it was an insatiable creature, even neglecting other parts of my existence in the process. This is clearly not a whole-self loving thing to do. I have loved my mind, and it has, in return, kept me entertained, occupied and driven to move forward. I have also attempted to ‘free myself’ using my mind, except that my mind had me imprisoned with a clever prison guard who offered scraps of hope and glimpses of freedom while keeping me fully trapped.
I recently tried out a process which provides a key to the jail cell and a way to reinvent your reality. It was so powerful that I am sharing it here.
Jail Bars of Belief
Tool #6 from Teal Swan’s ‘tool kit to self love’* is titled Jail Bars of Belief. It offers a process for identifying and then dismantling any belief. I will attempt to summarise the process and will share my own process as an example.
Your beliefs determine your life
Your reality is a physical reflection of your thoughts and beliefs and is unique to you. If you want to live a happy and fulfilled life, it is imperative that you don’t stay stuck with beliefs that cause you to be unhappy. This is part of loving yourself. It is not your circumstances that make you unhappy, but your thoughts about your circumstances that make you unhappy.
Living in the moment
The ‘Jail Bars of Belief’ chapter describes two different approaches to dismantling thoughts and beliefs, the first of which is very similar to Byron Katie’s The Work. I will discuss The Work in a separate email except to say that it is a profound way of challenging thoughts and beliefs by turning them around and inside out to offer a radical new way of looking at any situation in your life in a totally new light and releasing the suffering those thoughts are causing.
Identifying a hidden belief
The second process is what I want to share. Using this process I had a profound shift that helped me to identify an unconscious hidden belief that was controlling me and holding me back in profound ways. When negative beliefs become embedded in the subconscious they sabotage us without our conscious awareness. When we make them conscious we can replace them with more helpful beliefs.
The ideal opportunity to identify a negative core belief is when you are in a situation where you are experiencing strong negative emotions. You do this by chasing every statement you have with two questions:
Why would that be a bad thing?
What would it mean if that were true?
Sharing my process to show how it works
I want to preface what I’m sharing below with an explanation. When I look at it as it is written it looks strange, so I imagine it will look strange to an outside observer. It was essentially around a struggle I’ve been having around finding work I can do that doesn’t feel like it destroys me in the process of doing it. And when I tried to think of making my focus the sculpture project I was sabotaging and stopping myself with a fear that I was being ‘selfish and indulgent’ .. which is something I seem to have spent my life avoiding by being ‘selfless and denying’ .. but of course the things we resist we also give power to. Anyway, here is what I wrote:
I feel as though I’m selfish and indulgent and I don’t feel like I have anything to offer to the world.
Why would that be a bad thing? Because I am taking from the world but not giving enough back so I’m a drain on the earth.
What would it mean if that were true? It would mean that I’m a parasite .. that I’m a taker and not a giver .. that I don’t really belong in the world because I’m not giving anything.
Why would that be a bad thing? Because I have so much to offer but I am being stingy and holding back on what I have to give.
What would it mean if that were true? It would mean that I am mean and stingy and that I’m a bad person.
Why would that be a bad thing? Because it would mean that people will judge me and think I should be doing something to offer the world or to contribute to the world and they would not like me and they would reject me.
What would it mean if that were true? I would be despised by others and rejected and I would feel lonely and sad and hopeless.
Why would that be a bad thing? Because I like people and I want people to like me. Because if I am alone and rejected and hopeless I would rather be dead.
What this process uncovered
This might not be the best example of this process but it gives you an example which hopefully helps you to understand it. In this case, the negative core belief, according to my understanding of the book, would most likely be ‘if I am alone and rejected and hopeless I would rather be dead’ .. which goes to show what a strong hold these beliefs have on our life. Doing the process something shifted for me. I started to see how my resistance to feeling selfish had me trapped in a state of denying myself whatever I desired. I saw how I had actually been living my life only doing things that didn’t feel good to me because if I did what I wanted I would feel selfish. My fear of being ‘selfish’ meant I had tended to reject my own desires to cater for others needs, leaving me feeling drained and resentful. This is what drove me to choosing, a long time ago, to prefer being alone to being with other people, in an ironic twist, since this was the only time I felt I could sense or attend to my own needs or preferences.
Experiencing the emotional hold this belief had on me by identifying the core belief that was holding it in place has helped to free me of this belief. When I got to the core belief, which had me in tears as it touched on the deep rooted fear, I was able to shift how I saw that belief, like a cord had been cut. And the freedom I felt from releasing this belief had me feel like I was floating .. like an anchor that had been holding me down had been released.
An example of this shift in my experience happened the following day during a trip into Bellingen. I passed by a person who I had tended to get stuck talking to because cutting off the conversation felt ‘selfish’. It was like I suddenly had permission to do what I wanted and I walked past the person (who didn’t notice me) guilt free. That’s probably not the best example, but you get my drift.
There are so many beliefs that hold us trapped in our life and challenging and dismantling these beliefs, and creating new and beneficial ones, is how you can transform your reality into one that allows you to thrive.
But wait, there’s more
The process of identifying the hidden belief is only the first part. What follows is a process of dismantling the belief and replacing it with a new one. The book uses the analogy of a table, with the tabletop representing the belief and the legs of the table representing the evidence supporting that belief. Superglue securing the table legs to the floor represents the emotional payoff for keeping the belief.
5 steps to dissolving and replacing a negative core belief: (using my example to elucidate)
Step 1: What is the emotional payoff of keeping the belief and is it worth the pain it causes?
If I believe I can’t be selfish then I get to rely on everybody else’s needs to determine what I should do and this takes the pressure of making my own decisions off me. I then can’t be judged for what I do since it isn’t ‘my choice’. I ‘take myself off the hook’ for being responsible for what other people experience since it is what they want. I’m also not responsible for what happens to me. I get to feel like I am a victim. I get to feel good about myself for being ‘selfless’. I can feel like I’m ‘being a good person’. I have an excuse for going off and doing things on my own. Step 2: Seek out alternative evidence / explanations that undermine the validity of your detrimental belief.
A. As a toddler I needed to ‘be selfish’ as that is a healthy part of childhood development and differentiation. If I was judged at this stage in my development I might have turned the judgement back on myself and tried to stop ‘being selfish’
B. I like to do things ‘my way’. This is part of my uniqueness and doesn’t need to be seen as a fault. It could even be seen as a gift.
Step 3. Work out a belief you would rather believe.
I have an unconventional way of doing things.
Step 4: Find evidence to back up your new, more beneficial belief.
I don’t like doing things the way that other people say they should be done without question. I like to work out my own way. I like to be a free thinker. This way better solutions can be found than those that currently exist. Doing things in different ways is fun and a creative process. Often the way things are done are just routine patterns that are done without thought and I like to think about things and not just ‘follow the leader’. Doing things differently makes life exciting and interesting. Quite often people and societies get stuck in unhealthy ways of doing things and I don’t want to be party to that. I want to be part of the change, not part of maintaining the status quo. Life is about change not stagnancy. It’s my life so I want to do it my way.
Step 5. Look for the emotional payoff of the new belief.
I can inspire people to look at things differently and live their life according to their own choices. I can be an agent for change. I can help to deconstruct stale and unhelpful patterns within society. I can help to liberate people. I can help people to see things in a different way. I can feel a sense of agency and control over my life rather than feel trapped by what others think or expect. I can help shed light on what no longer works. I can be like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale environment. I can feel a sense of purpose and meaning in my life and not feel like I’m a pre-programmed robot. I get to feel more alive. I get to feel more me.
We have the power
As you can see, this process involves consciously dismantling and then reconstructing your beliefs. And how amazing is it that we have the power to do this?! You can recreate your life in a more beneficial way using this process. And as Teal says in the book, “You Are Worth the Effort”.
Through writing this email I’ve taken myself more deeply through this process than I had gone before. And having done it once I’m ready for the next strong negative emotion to come up to help shed light on, and shift, another limiting belief.
“The old payoff just isn’t worth it any longer.”
This is life-changing work. Next time you feel a strong negative emotion, rather than feel stuck in the pain, try this process. If you feel like sharing I’d love to hear how you go with it. And if you’d like support in the process, please get in contact.
By creating new beliefs and thinking thoughts that feel good, you will be creating neural pathways in your brain that reinforce these new positive thoughts. As you starve the old beliefs and feed the new ones your reality will improve.
Yes it takes effort, but this is your life – and you’re worth it!
With love, Orly
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The alchemical process of turning lead into gold happens because of something being taken away. So too, self alchemy begins with what we are willing to let go of or give away. – Teal Swan
Have you heard the story of the Golden Buddha? During a violent invasion a huge, solid gold buddha at a monastery in Thailand was protected from plunder by being covered in terracotta and coloured glass. Over time the knowledge of the existence of the Golden Buddha was lost. It was discovered by accident, almost two hundred years later in 1957 when the buddha was being moved to a new location. Cracks in the clay surface revealed the gold within and the Golden Buddha was revealed, perfectly preserved.
This story has become an analogy to what happens to us in our lives. Our gold, or our essence, becomes overlaid with the ‘mud’ of our limiting thinking, unconscious conditioning and layers of human experience, and we lose sight of our essence and of what truly lights us up.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
In order to fully embrace our being, our essence,we need to differentiate our human experience and ‘life lessons’ from our core truth. It’s easy to get lost in this process .. to get stuck in the mud so to speak.
Having spent a lifetime searching for what I could do that would be in alignment with my natural strengths and gifts, I’ve gone down path after path only to find yet another ‘dead end’. In many ways the journey was the destination except that the lack of clarity and feeling of lostness has had me return to a sense of hopelessness and despair time and again.
But over the past week I had a breakthrough that has transformed the way I look at my life. This new perspective has offered a sense of hope and clarity and shifts a lot of the self judgement that has weighed me down. This shift is the result of an exercise I did as part of a program I’m in. The exercise, which is very simple (but not necessarily easy) is to come up with your top three values.
Your values are those things that are really important to you and motivate you on a day to day basis. They can be found by looking back at some of the turning points of your life and defining what thoughts or feelings were behind the decisions you took. They can also be found in looking at where your time and energy go each day, or identifying peak moments in your life.
If we aren’t aligned with our values we can spend a lot of time and energy striving to reach something we believe will fulfil us only to meet our goal and find we feel disappointed or empty inside.
I went into the exercise of defining my top values with hope and excitement, only to end up in a swamp-like state of helplessness and despair. Coming up with a big list of values wasn’t too hard, but when I tried to prioritise the values was when I got stuck. In trying to choose one value over another I went into a deep-rooted limiting belief of “I don’t know” and ended up on the coaching call with the exercise unfinished. But when my coach, Karen, asked me what my top three values were, I looked down at my list and rattled off three, almost without thinking – connection, creativity and curiosity.
She then asked me, “If you were living a life that had connection, creativity and curiosity in it .. how would you feel?”
And my response: “I would feel satisfied, excited, inspired, meaning, purpose, grateful, driven.”
My response is so enlightening to me. So much of my life has been driven by other people’s values which, though they are all valid, have often left me feeling unsatisfied, depressed, ungrateful, unmotivated and lacking in meaning and purpose. This exercise is SO powerful.
When Karen asked what actions I could take this week in alignment with my values, I thought of this newsletter, and how it aligns with my values of curiosity, creativity and connection. And similarly, the Cloudscape sculpture is totally in alignment too.
One of the most damaging things we do to ourselves is to compare ourselves to others, and to other’s experiences. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ is such a true statement. Instead you need to get clear on what it is that is truly important to YOU – and to bring love and attention to that. Being clear on your values is a great way of staying aligned.
Your value, your essence, your gold, is often invisible to you, trapped under layers of society conditioning and adaptation to the needs, desires, opinions and expectations of others. But it’s there. And by discovering and aligning your life to your values, you can bring your best self to the world and feel more purpose, joy and connection to yourself. And in this way, aligning with our values helps us to bring more love and light to the world.
I would LOVE for you to identify your top values and for you to let me know what they are. And if you’d like some help identifying your top values, please get in touch!
With love, Orly
PS For a simple guide to help you to find your top values, click here ..(link coming soon)..
I must be a mermaid, I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living. – Anais Nin
How beautiful is this bee!
On Thursday it was walking slowly around my desk and Friday it was dead.
After I posted it on my Fb business page a friend of mine who runs a bee business – selling honey and educating people about bee-keeping – reached out to me saying this was ‘her favourite solitary bee, a blue banded bee’, and asked if she could keep it as an education piece. These are the times where I love social media – when it sparks random connections and insights.
Looking closely or deeply at anything (or anyone) makes me love it, admire it and respect it. And zooming in on things in the natural world makes them ever more complex and beautiful.
I was watching an interview recently where the woman being interviewed, who is a face reader, talked about how her gift was ‘seeing people’ and how for many people it is the first time they are truly ‘seen’. One of the gifts of her work was, she said, that people vulnerably allowing her to see them was a form of love. I really resonated with what she said. And the beauty of it is that, the act of opening up and being seen is an act of love, which as a witness inspires love, which allows that person to be seen with love and allows them to then see themselves with love.
I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, but it feels related to a conundrum I’ve been pondering as I search for clarity around work I can do to bring together my gifts and interests in such a way that I get to bring my best and highest self to the world.
Yesterday, as I was driving home from the beach, pondering this question, I had the thought that it is the journey I am enthralled by and perhaps the idea of trying to land upon a ‘destination’ is my problem. Freedom to explore is important to me. Deep connection is also important. And perhaps my constant studies and explorations, driven by a desire to understand, have been my way of loving and connecting. Or maybe I need to come up to the surface, lighten up, and stop ‘searching’ to find my answer.
I could go round in circles here so I will finish up and send this as an incomplete exploration.
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Pablo Picasso
Have you heard the quote: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
What do you think of the idea that we are spiritual beings having a human experience? Does it speak to you?
I’ve tended to put more value on the spiritual, immaterial aspects of life, perhaps as a result of finding my human existence confusing and unsatisfying. I’m finally understanding how those feelings arose and learning to enjoy and appreciate the more human, physical aspects of existence. But most of my life has been dominated by a sense of meaninglessness and a restless search for meaning through constant study, observation and exploration, scrambling to keep my head above water and, in moments of despair, wanting to give up and ‘start fresh’.
The time when the feeling of meaninglessness and sadness would come up most strongly for me was my birthday. And so it was, on a recent trip to Sydney for my birthday, when I felt myself drowning in the existential void, that I got a glimpse into a new perspective on ‘meaning’.
A heavy blanket of sadness hung over me as I set out on a day of adventure with Joey, traversing Sydney by scooter. Thankfully Joey seemed oblivious to my feelings and I was somewhat buoyed by enjoying a day of connection and play with him. From Bondi beach we rode into the city. At Hyde Park we looked down into a war memorial artwork where Joey searched for and joyfully spotted Dorrigo, Bellingen, Urunga and Fernmount among the places where fallen soldiers had hailed from. He proudly posed in front of a sculpture of giant bullets while I took a photo. And we glided past the Archibald Fountain and through the Domain, en route to the Botanic Gardens and Circular Quay. As we passed the Art Gallery, Joey agreed to a short visit inside.
One of the ways I’ve sabotaged myself this lifetime has been judging my artistic dabblings as selfish and indulgent. But as I walked into the gallery carrying the ‘weight of emptiness’ I felt a sense of peace. I had a realisation, as I looked at the artworks, that this is meaning. It felt like a breakthrough – an almost defiant acceptance that ‘art’ is a valid and worthy response to existence. With art, spirit meets matter and the world and our human experience is explored. There will always be people who judge art .. particularly given it is often hard to understand and far removed from the practicalities of life. To a hard-nosed realist, art can be hard to rationalise or justify. But there is more to life than basic survival needs. Art can be transcendental.
When I studied architecture, personal preference was not allowed as a reason for doing something. Everything had to be justified. And perhaps learning to justify my ideas has been an important lesson for me. I feel like armouring myself against critics through gathering information and understanding different perspectives has driven a lot of my life and held me back from taking action. I’ve given so much power to critics, including a very harsh inner critic who was more powerful and destructive than any person ever could be.
I used to admire critics for their boldness and confidence in their beliefs and their bravery to take a stand and declare what they believed in. I valued the opinions of others highly and often to my own detriment.
Though I’ve tended to wait for clarity before taking action, I’ve learned that clarity comes from action. And having spent too much of my life influenced (and stopped) by the opinions of others, I feel like I know enough of what I need to know to work things out in my own way. After all .. It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.– Theodore Roosevelt
Here’s to imperfect action – critics be damned :)
With love, Orly
PS What are you striving for? Let me know so I can cheer you on!
For the present is the point at which time touches eternity – C.S.Lewis
There are many presents as I write this week’s offering. Many moments of eternity. Now .. and now .. and now.
I’ve tended to love the spaciousness of time .. the way it can expand and stretch and I can get completely lost. I have spent many years, almost fifty, lost in an expanse of time. And while I’ve liked to ‘take my time’, I also see, more and more, how deadlines and structures offer a sort of scaffolding to the limitlessness of time and enable for things to actually get done.
Being more conscious and deliberate about my time, rather than greedily desiring more and more of it, is something I’m currently focused on. For me, this correlates with stepping up and being the leader of my life. It means having clearer boundaries around my time rather than allowing myself to get lost in boundary-less time, which has been one of my favourite escapes.
And in honouring of time I will keep this note short and sweet. May you leap over your deadlines with joy and ease and appreciate many special moments on the way.
With love, Orly
PS The following poem is an inspiring call to leadership:
For a Leader, by John O’Donohue
May you have the grace and wisdom To act kindly, learning To distinguish between what is Personal and what is not. May you be hospitable to criticism. May you never put yourself at the center of things. May you act not from arrogance but out of service. May you work on yourself, Building and refining the ways of the mind. May you learn to cultivate the art of presence In order to engage with those who meet you. When someone fails or disappoints you, May the graciousness with which you engage Be their stairway to renewal and refinement. May you treasure the gifts of the mind Through reading and creative thinking So that you continue as a servant of the frontier Where the new will draw its enrichment of the old, And you never become a functionary. May you know the wisdom of deep listening The healing of wholesome words, The encouragement of the appreciative gaze, The decorum of held dignity, The springtime edge of the bleak question. May you have a mind that loves frontiers So that you can evoke the bright fields That lie beyond the view of the regular eye. May you have good friends To mirror your blind spots. May leadership be for you A true adventure of growth.
The moment of surrender is not when life is over, it’s when it begins. – Marianne Williamson
I’m standing on a rock platform, surrounded by hill after hill of rocks. There are no distinguishing features. The landscape is so vast and surreal I could be standing on the moon. A deluge of monsoonal rain has transformed the land around me into a multitude of streams in every direction. I have my backpack on my back, compass in my hand, and I’m completely lost.
Around five hours prior I’d urged the friend I was walking with to power on, allowing me to stroll at my own, more relaxed pace. We’d organised to meet up at a creek on the map some distance ahead. The national park is about to close for the wet season and our car is two days walk away.
Arriving at the creek my friend is nowhere to be seen. The creek runs through a rocky gorge and I wander down the gorge to find her. Hot from my walk and discovering a perfect swimming hole I strip off for a dip. This is paradise. Refreshed I get dressed, load my backpack on my back and scramble up the side of the gorge for a better view. Still no sign I move to another spot for a different perspective. Next thing I know, I’ve lost the creek. Compass in hand I scout around, only to become more and more lost. Now I’m not looking for my friend, I’m simply searching for the creek. At some point I find a tiny stream but it’s too small to be the creek. Soon I’ve lost that too.
Freedom to explore
Being lost and exploring is something I’ve seemed drawn to this lifetime. Many of my peak moments have involved landing in foreign places and wandering aimlessly, enjoying the state of heightened awareness and the spirit of wonder and discovery. So it was a while before I started to feel any concern. I wandered up, down and around the rocky landscape for what seemed like hours, searching for the creek, my eyes constantly on my compass.
As the sun started to move towards the horizon my search became more frantic. It was now late afternoon and I was no closer to finding my way. The storm arrived, monsoon style, bringing torrents of rain. With dismay I watched the dry landscape transform into a tapestry of creeks in every direction. It was stunning and awe-inspiring. It was also terrifying. My only guide, the elusive creek, had effectively disappeared. And time was running out. I had the food. My friend had the tent. And I had no idea where I was.
As I stood on that rock platform, daylight fading, I had to do something. I looked at my compass, feeling into the totality of my movements since leaving the creek. I decided, on balance, that I’d been moving north-west. I set my compass for south-east and made a beeline. If there was a rock I climbed over it, if there was a ledge, I jumped. The sun was fading fast and I was charging forward.
Suddenly, I landed at the creek. I looked down and saw a bandaid I’d removed for my swim. I had landed at the exact spot where I first left the path. I started running upstream, calling out to my friend. Then I heard her calling out to me. She’d been calling out all afternoon. We were reunited and, the next moment, it was pitch black dark.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
That experience seems to reflect my life. Aimless wandering for the joy of discovery, doing course after course and job after job has been the pattern of my life. Not feeling a sense of pressure or urgency until the last minute. Trusting that I’ll be okay with moments of panic and desperation thrown in. And a wilful desire to do things at my own pace and in my own way.
As we journey through life, our feelings are our guidance system and joy is our true north. But our internal compass is often tampered with in the process of socialisation. What brings us joy doesn’t alway align with the needs or desires of our family or society. Our need to survive and belong often requires us to abandon our own needs and preferences and to take on those of our society or caregivers. In this way we get disconnected from our internal motivation and become driven by external motivators.
When our feelings aren’t understood, valued or appreciated by our caregivers, we learn not to trust them. Instead we allow outside forces to guide our life and we ‘lose ourself’.
For me, disconnected from my feelings and also refusing to conform with society, led to me spending a lot of my life feeling lost and alone. It was the price I paid for freedom. I mistook freedom for joy. But it was a freedom born of disconnection and sadness.
With the sun moving across the sky of my lifetime, the pressure to find my way and to feel connected has intensified and I’ve been exploring ways to recalibrate my compass.
Since feelings are our compass, an important part of aligning with our sense of direction and purpose is connecting with our feelings and desires. To do this we need to learn to love ourselves.
I’m reading a book by Teal Swan called ‘Shadows Before Dawn – finding the light of self-love through your darkest times’. This book shares the author’s journey from self-hate to self-love, as well as a ’tool-kit to self love’.
What would someone who loves themselves do?
The first tool for self love is this: Every time you need to make a decision, ask yourself – What would someone who loves themselves do?
The book suggests you commit to doing this for 365 days. I’ve committed. Do you want to join me?
As I lay in bed this morning, breathing into the deep sadness I’ve been feeling, I remembered. Cloudscape was my vision, designed as a tool for finding my way, speaking up, and connecting with others. It is my antidote to feeling lost and alone. And it is my gift to the world as both a symbol and a tool for hope and connection. My compass is set.
With love, Orly
PS What would someone who loves themselves do? Ask yourself this every time you need to make a decision. You’re worth it!
I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do (HAL 9000) from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
I remember the night I first hooked up the internet in my home. I was living in Haberfield, Sydney and it must have been the early 2000’s. The blue ethernet cable snaked its way from the phone socket in the middle of the house to my office in the front room. As someone who valued privacy and isolation to an unhealthy extreme, I felt some fear at the sense of opening up this direct channel to the outside world.
In the twenty years since then we’ve entered a new world. The internet and it’s capacity has expanded exponentially. It has become a powerful force in the world. And it has led, I believe, to an awakening of consciousness on the planet, with an ever expanding amount of people, ideas, information and connections.
And at the same time, if you’ve watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix or even just observed your own experience, you will know that the internet, via the programs that use it, has also expanded the human capacity for unconsciousness. Because while humans are accessing and sharing information via the internet, so too computers are collecting copious amounts of data on our usage patterns, interests and connections, which is then used to manage the types and ways that information comes to us. And in this way, Artificial Intelligence is becoming more conscious and is in turn deepening our unconsciousness.
Knowledge is power.
As a 5 on the Enneagram, seeking out endless amounts of information is how I have tended to pursue a sense of competence and confidence. The internet has been a drug like no other in this regard. And I have definitely benefited from the information and teachings available 24/7. But along with that has also come a sense of overwhelm given the infinite supply.
Yes, knowledge is power. But I’m starting to think that consciousness is a superpower.
2020 has been a year that has shaken up, activated or affected almost every human on this planet thanks to the impacts of coronavirus. The planet has experienced an awakening of consciousness.
And the internet has come into its own during this time as a tool for connection and finding and sharing information – as well as a source of comfort, disconnection and misinformation.
At the start of the year I was already on determinedly turning my life around. And I’ve taken many bold actions and learnt many valuable lessons. But I’ve also been lulled by the endless streams of information. And while I generally endeavour to follow a wide range of people and ideas, I’ve no doubt also been influenced by the networks of people and information I have been consuming.
It’s less than eleven weeks till the end of 2020. Are there any dreams or desires you had at the start of the year that you’ve lost focus of? There is still time! Or maybe your whole life got tipped upside down and your priorities have changed? Now is a great time to look at the goals your wrote down, and set some intentions for harnessing the power of this year and finishing strong.
Comfort comes into your house first as guest, then as a host, then finally as the master. – Kahlil Gibran
The internet offers so much .. connection, clarity, comfort .. but it can also suck your time and your life force if you aren’t careful.
I invite you to join me in taking actions outside your comfort zone in order to consciously create your life. For me this involves putting offers out there and practicing being with the feelings that come up.
Make 2020 a year to up-level your life. You are the master of your destiny.
With love, Orly
PS If you’d like some help seeing and shifting your unconscious patterns, I’m currently offering 1 hour ‘Pattern interrupter sessions’ for $55. Book your sessions HERE. Let’s up-level together!
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the bluepill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” – The Matrix.
How can I become more conscious? What is my shadow? What do I want? These are some things I’ve been pondering. An experience in the past week helped to shed some light.
The weather was warm and inviting and I’d planned a school holiday adventure with Joey. We were scootering from Urunga to Hungry Head where I’d have a swim, while Joey waited, before we rode back. By all appearances things were idyllic. Joey had come along without complaining and we were enjoying the ride and each other’s company. But inside I was plummeting. I felt like I’d jumped off a cliff and was free-falling. Despite being happy and connected to Joey on the surface, inside I was feeling untethered, adrift, and completely alone. And thoughts and memories reinforcing my aloneness kept coming up .. someone I wanted to be close to but felt rejected by, the aikido community I’d distanced myself from. The aloneness I’d sought most of my life was like a whirlpool sucking me into a vortex of despair.
Facing my shadow
I was facing my shadow .. the unconscious state that drives so much of our actions. The night before I had allowed myself to step into the darkness of the unknown. I had taken an action that meant choosing my desires over someone else’s.
For most of my life I’ve felt like I didn’t have any needs or desires. Around other people my way of making decisions was simply to go with what other people wanted. Since they seemed to know what they wanted and I felt indifferent it was an easy default. I was happy (or so I thought) and they were happy (or so I believed). It was a win-win. Except that it wasn’t. Because it was as though around people I ceased to exist, and I could only sense my existence when I was on my own.
So, what had triggered the state of panic that had me feel like I was plummeting to my death? The night before I’d taken a bold action toward what I wanted, even though I ‘knew’ it would upset my mum. With my 50th birthday approaching my mum wanted to celebrate the occasion with a special family dinner. This meant a trip to Sydney and usually a stay at my mum’s place. Her home is in a great location which she makes as welcoming and accommodating as possible because she loves me staying there.
But given that it was my 50th I decided to let myself think about what I might want to do. And staying in ‘my own place’ and making this a real holiday was what I wanted to do. So I’d gone online and booked an airbnb at Bondi Beach for me and Joey for our three nights in Sydney. Instead of opting for the default and making other people happy, I’d chosen what I wanted.
Resisting the mind and choosing joy
I’d jumped despite my mind telling me that it was a waste of money and I would be causing upset. I’d jumped because this was my gift to me. This was fun for me. And consequently I felt like I was plummeting to my death. I felt alone, hopeless, untethered, lost, and like I didn’t belong in this world. I was catapulted into an existential void.
Our shadow parts are the parts of ourself we disowned or rejected (pushed into the shadow) at a young age because they did not feel safe. These are not ‘bad’ parts of ourself, but rather parts that weren’t accepted or were deemed a threat. But rejecting these parts just pushes them into our unconscious where they control us. Our shadow is a part of our ego that holds us back and limits us under the guise of keeping us safe.
I see the light
Having seen so clearly how unsafe it feels for me to have my own needs and desires, I have gained insight into my struggles around setting up my business. When I look logically at the idea of owning a business, and the fact that so many people do it and I admire and respect them for it – I can understand better why my mind has been sabotaging my efforts, telling me that I’m being selfish and indulgent and that I should go and do work for someone else. It is my shadow speaking, trying to keep me safe by telling me to reject my desires and to help someone else with theirs. Seeing how a simple action like booking accommodation could have me feel like I’d jumped off a cliff, it’s clear how powerful these shadows can be.
Breaking out of the matrix of our old beliefs and conditioning is not easy. It’s not comfortable. And it takes a strong push to take actions that don’t align with our default ways of being.
But breaking out of unconscious, automatic ways of being is part of waking up.
“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man” – Aristotle
Maybe the motivation, or need to wake up is stronger and more essential for some people than others. Here’s how I see it right now:
The patterns for our life are formed in our first seven years. If that time was easy and pleasant, or if you were naturally resilient and not highly sensitive, those early patterns might serve you and allow your life to flow easily. But maybe you were highly sensitive to the feelings of others, or faced chaos, an unhealthy, dangerous or destructive environment, or a family where you felt you didn’t fit in, and that the patterns you formed were out of alignment with your true self so that life feels hard and not in flow.
If you’re lucky enough that things flow easily, you might just coast along and live a pleasant enough life where nothing short of a major catastrophe could alter your trajectory.
If you’ve struggled with things not flowing so easily, with unhealthy patterns or beliefs disrupting your sense of peace, I see two options. You can live in a death-like state of low-grade misery, enduring life, perhaps with moments of peace and joy, adopting coping strategies that keep you unconscious – like denial, avoidance or addictions to numb the pain. Or you can face the pain, go into the shadows, and learn to become more conscious and alive.
The work of waking up
The following message popped up in an email today and I feel like it forms a nice summation what I’ve just shared:
“This work, the work of waking up more deeply and growing up more fully, is a very high form of activism. Every action you take is infused with your current inner state. States of consciousness are highly contagious.” – Scott Schwenk
Red pill or blue pill. Which do you choose?
With love, Orly
PS If you’re interested in exploring shadow work, Teal Swan has a lot of free videos on the topic. Here is one: Diving Deep (Shadow Work)
PPS The quote at the end came from within a breathwork course/journey I am currently doing on the Commune platform called Abundant Joy
But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go- we’ll eat you up- we love you so!” And Max said, “No!”
In thinking of what to write about this week my thoughts went down two separate tracks. The first was on the topic of rules and conventions. The second was on love and human connection. Instead of two separate emails I’m pulling them together.
‘Unconventional’ is a term I strongly relate to. I’ve always liked to do things my own way and have railed at the idea of having to live according to ‘society’ conventions. I’ve also railed against people who tell other people how they should do things while also being drawn to these confident, opinionated people with a sense of wonder and awe.
Rules are an antidote to chaos, which is very appealing, but too much order and predictability is boring and stagnant. Rules are like a taming of nature, and I’ve tended to resent any sort of taming or manipulation that attempts to pin me down and control me. I love wildness, freedom, spirit.
When I look back on my life I can see my determination to not follow conventions has given me some freedom to live life my own way. The social conventions of marriage and a nuclear family did not appeal to me. And a relationship with someone 32 years older than me felt perfectly acceptable. Not fitting in to the norms of society afforded freedom and a release from unwanted expectations.
My relationship with Ian had nothing to do with fitting into society and everything to do with inspiration, expansion, human connection and mutual admiration and respect.
Love and human connection was the other topic I wanted to write about, particularly after spending a week with my sister and sister-in-law whose relationship is so inspiring to me. The joy of spending time with them is bittersweet because I feel such joyful connection being with them and at the same time keenly feel the pain of my singleness.
On this latest trip we watched a series on Netflix called Love on the Spectrum. It follows the journey of some people, all on the autistic spectrum, as they start dating in the quest to find love. The show is touching and heartwarming and I felt admiration, love and respect for the bravery and vulnerability of each person.
Dating with strangers is something I’ve never really done. I find even the idea of it petrifying and have found many excuses for not doing it. My biggest excuse has been that ‘I’m fine on my own’ – which I am, and that ‘I’m not desperate’ – which I’m not. But watching these brave souls admit to wanting a partner and taking action to make it happen has really inspired me. I’ve tended to feel a lot of shame at even the thought that I might not be totally happy alone. I grew up seeing the desire for connection as a sign of weakness. And yet when I think back, I know that the years I spent with Ian were some of the happiest in my life. And my connection with Joey is so precious. Deep human connection is really important to me. And me being alone is something I’ve learned to endure and be okay with, but ultimately it cuts me off from life. And while I’m a master at enduring life (as was Ian), I’m finally practicing enjoying it too.
As we set some end of holiday parting goals for the final three months of this year, I rather vulnerably declared that I would go on at least three dates by the end of this year. If those vulnerable and challenged people in the show can do it .. then surely I can too. And ultimately, though I’ve spent a lot of my life avoiding people, I also love them.
And maybe I’ll find some unconventional way of dating and finding mutual love. I’ll let you know in three months time.
This blog is part of my journey. It represents a shift for me toward expressing myself publicly and engaging with the world. I want others to know that they are not alone and to open up opportunities for connection.
I’m Orly Grace, writer, designer, creator .. exploring human existence in a search for meaning and purpose.