Where’s the beauty?

warwick 2

For most of my life I have found it difficult to see the beauty in things. Especially the small, every-day, run-of-the-mill things that millions of us take for granted. The hidden depths in the rock cracks, the dry grass lining the side of the highway, the scenery as you drive over the crest of a hill.

I’ve recently returned home from a very transformative holiday and immersion in all things self-care. And since I’ve been home it feels like I am looking out of completely different eyes. Even as I was driving the scenery outside my car window looked different. The views I would previously dismiss as ordinary were now extraordinary. No longer did I need to have the super extraordinary to see the beauty. All I needed to do was open my eyes.

moonrise

 

So if I couldn’t see these things before my holiday and I could see them after it, where is the difference?

armidale july 2014

The answer is in the beauty I now see in myself. It’s in the things I have always had but never been able to see through eyes unbiased by conditioning and self-hatred. I feel like my eyes have been covered by some kind of mask and my trip away has literally stripped it away.

I can now see the strength I have always held in my legs and hips. I can see the compassion I hold in my heart, the gentleness I hold in my hands, the power I hold in my mind. I can see that I have a whole lot of character in the dimples on my thighs. I can acknowledge that the pain in my knee is a result of the need to protect myself from the angst. And the curves on my waist hold the peaks and valleys of the suppressed emotions of a lifetime.

For far too long I have held it in and denied my beauty. For far too long I have pretended I am indifferent to the image I see reflected in the mirror. For far too long I have conformed to the societal belief that beauty equals skinny. For far too long I have minimised the reach and impact that I have in this world. My body has been instrumental in keeping me whole and it’s time I gave it the credit it deserves.

terrigal2 july 2014

Every hill, every valley, every dimple, every pimple, every freckle. The parts filled with fluid and the parts filled with fat. The parts that have carried me and the parts that have allowed me to learn from my mistakes. And especially the parts that now allow me to recognise and reconnect to the freshness and the beauty I possess.

What was once seen as mediocre I now know as beautiful. As stunning. As incredibly full of character and depth and possession and precision. What was once seen as non-existent I now know as present. As full of character.

terrigal17 july 2014

And what was once ignored now needs to be nourished. Nurtured. Loved.

terrigal9 july 2014

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Purpose

beach sunrise terrigal

Spirit. Soul. Purpose. Connection.

Connecting purpose with spirit with mind with body. Creating a method of communication between them that will also bring a sense of peace, harmony and “rightness”. Like things were meant to be.

From a lifetime of being completely disconnected from every part of me, beginning to come into my own and bringing them together feels … well, right. It feels as if I am in exactly the right place at exactly the right time for exactly the right reason. Connection.

I’ve known for a while that career wise what I am meant to do is to help people. I’ve had the feeling that I was doing what I was meant to do since the very first time I was face to face with a counselling client. The woman who hired me for that job told me that the second I walked in her door for my interview she knew that I was the person she wanted. She fought for me. And she hasn’t stopped since.

The opportunities and experiences I’ve had in the last 7 years haven’t always been pleasant. In fact some of them have been downright painful! But each and every one of them has brought me closer to truly understanding that this work is my destiny. My purpose.

Before it was a “this moment is where I am meant to be”. Now it’s “this life, this work, this service, is my destiny and purpose. My destiny is vast, pure and amazingly awesome”.

There was a time when the vastness of it produced incredible amounts of fear. Fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it, fear I wasn’t worthy of it, fear of the sheer size of it. Now it produces excitement. I can’t wait to get there. I know it will be incredible and it will feel even more right than it does now.

And I know that every step I take to get closer to it teaches me one more lesson I need to learn so that I can truly do it justice.

I am a writer. A teacher. A leader. I am strong. I am powerful. I am energy. I am clarity. I am joy. I am power. I am meant to be.

beach vast terrigal

New Wave

I’ve come away to immerse myself in 9 days of self-care. Day 1 and it’s already started.

I feel … different. Strange.

It’s been a while since I felt this way. It’s the feeling of change. The next step of transformation.

Knowing I needed to unlock some stuff I booked a couple of personal training sessions while I was away. I had the first one this morning. Hitting shit by the ocean at Terrigal, NSW. Perfect. The trainer was amazing. Encouraging, gentle, nurturing. And at the same time she pushed me to do stuff that I always avoid from fear.

View from this morning's training space

View from this morning’s training space

My fingers are shaking as I think about it, 3 hours later. Just a slight tremor in memory/sympathy of what I felt then. Remembered adrenaline. Probably existing adrenaline *shrugs*

I’ve long been someone who avoids stuff when it becomes “too” physically demanding. Obviously what I consider demanding differs from others’ versions of demanding. For me it’s anything that leaves me feeling breathless and shaky. Adrenaline rush shaky. I’ve done sessions on the treadmill before that push my heart rate up to the point that I am hit with a rush of adrenaline and my arms and legs become wobbly.

That’s the point where I usually give up. Or more accurately, panic. My brain goes into overdrive and my thoughts kick in, screaming at me to stop, I can’t do it, I’m not going to be able to cope, I need to feel safe and all that rot. I’ve had it happen when I’ve been walking across campus at uni. That place is so huge, I’m trying to get to class carrying a 10kg bag on my back, walking uphill. My legs and lungs scream at me. STOP, you’re going to fall over and you won’t be able to get up. You’ll embarrass yourself. You’ll hurt yourself. Give up give up give up!!!

This is my “fuck it” story. The story that tells me I need to fuck it, to give up before I even start, so I can be “safe”

You know what? No more. I’m sick of the “fuck it” story ruling my life. I have a destiny to get to, a purpose to live. And it certainly doesn’t include sitting in a little cocoon hiding away from the world to feel “safe”. That’s not safety, that’s a slow death! It’s what I’ve been doing most of my life. It kept me protected for many years but now all it does is prevent me from living the life I deserve. The life I am destined for.

All the work I’ve done to date has brought me here.to a place of awareness, where I know that the thought patterns in my head, while having had a purpose, now hold me back.

Which brings me to the now. This holiday has been in the planning for 6 months. I set the dates with the intention of immersing myself in all things Emazon. Her training principles, mindset lessons, and complementary forms of therapy to support the transformation process. Massage, reflexology, crystal therapy, spiritual awareness, plus more. I’ve done some work with Emazon before. It’s made a huge difference in the way I think and feel about my “stuff”. It has helped me to shift a lot and make some big changes in my life.

I’ve spent probably the last 9-12 months allowing those shifts to “be”. To settle. For me to get used to this new way of being. To cement them.

And now it’s time for the next wave. These 9 days will be about unlocking the next layer of neural pathways that will allow me to move forward into the next wave of changes.

So what did I uncover this morning? Panic. Fear. Shame. Tears. Emotion.

It’s time to move. It’s time to let it out and let it go.

Fuck it. I deserve to have spectacular things in my life. I deserve to feel a deep sense of peace and contentment. And yet with everything I do it’s always just underneath the surface. That fear. The fear that I can’t do the things I want to do because I “won’t be able to”. Every time I feel the urge to go for a simple walk I stop myself “just in case” I won’t be able to make it. Just in case someone sees me. Just in case I need to hide myself away. That I’ll be judged and found lacking. That I’ll find myself lacking. That I’m not enough.

That I’m not enough.

This phrase is the key. Under some pretty heavy layers of shame.

Let’s see what the next 8 days brings …

Listening to the waterfall as I write this post

Listening to the waterfall as I write this post

 

Watching the ripples across the water

Watching the ripples across the water

 

 

Am I in Denial?

My previous post on trauma was written in the way I usually write; by simply allowing my fingers to do their thing on the keyboard without censorship. At the time I felt ok about what had come out, like I had some kind of resolution and a ‘next step’ to take. Well, I took that next step last week – I went to see my psychologist. I feel … I don’t know, really.

We talked about things for a bit, I caught her up with what’s been happening in my life and then she tells me what she thought of my post on trauma. Great insight, until she got to the dot points. Then it was “you don’t want to own your trauma”. At that point I looked at her with puzzlement. How could a series of dot points mean I don’t want to own it? I thought I was doing a quick summary so I could use the list as a reminder to speak with her about it.

And then her explanation hit a nerve. Big time. I find it so easy to support other people through their stuff, to help them confront the tough, traumatic things in their lives. I ask the tough questions and it gets emotional and messy and uncomfortable and scary. And I don’t want that. I don’t want to go there for myself. It hurts. The thing is, I don’t have to do anything with my trauma. I don’t have to respond in a certain way. I can allow it to be there, to sit with me, to accept that it’s mine. To accept that is a part of my past. That it’s there and it’s not going anywhere. I keep asking the question about how I can do things like that. How can I deal with this, how can I deal with that? The question is, how can one do anything with something like this kind of trauma? Trauma that has been an insidious part of your life for a long time and has not been acknowledged until recently. Trauma that has put a load of stress on your system that you have essentially ignored for 30+ years. What can you do, really?

I think one of my main issues has been allowing my emotions to sit with me. I’ve always hidden them, turned away from them and avoided them. It’s become a long time coping mechanism to hide from them so much that I don’t realise they are there. I’ve been working on being more aware of them, allowing them to surface naturally. And not being afraid of them.

It’s certainly a process! One that I don’t have a clue how to do. And that is upsetting. I guess a big part of everything I have worked on in the last 2 years has been to deal with and recognise emotions I never have before. And I have come to this point, where I can recognise that there are issues.

I am unsure what to do. The prospect of “owning” that trauma fills me with anxiety. There is so much of it sitting there and I truly don’t want it. If I take it I worry that it will totally swamp me. If I were working with someone else I’d encourage them to do it slowly and to take small steps. My mind is going a little nuts with it.

Nothing new there!

*Breathe*

 trauma

Judging Transformation

A few months ago I responded to a post about how people judge their transformation process by saying that I had a bit to say about it and that I would get back to it after I finished my uni assessments for the semester. I never ended up getting back to it and had a gentle nudge to do so today. So here I am.

So many people judge their transformation by the numbers on the scales. SO many people. The entire “weight loss” industry is flooded with programs that focus on reducing numbers. And when the programs don’t work, people are led to feel inadequate and unworthy because they couldn’t make it happen. The whys and hows of this is a whole other blog post that deserves more attention than I am willing to give it, so I am not going to focus on this. Instead, I want to share how it has been for me.

find self at end of journey

I began my “journey” near the end of 2004 following surgery to reduce the size of my stomach. At that time I was in a place where I didn’t believe in myself. In any way. I felt worthless, useless and unlovable. And I ate those emotions every day, to the point where I didn’t even know some of them existed. I was depressed, sad, angry, confused, lost. Plus a whole host of other things. And I never allowed myself to even acknowledge those feelings were there.

The surgery allowed me to start the process of rebuilding myself. From the inside out. In the 18 months afterward I worked very hard on my fitness, attending gym sessions 4-5 days per week. At the peak I was there for 3 hours; 20 minutes treadmill, 20 minutes x-trainer, upper body weight routine, followed by an aqua class. I then spent some time in the spa before having a shower and going home. One time I remember spending a full hour on the x-trainer before doing my weight routine and then an aqua class. In that time I dropped 60kg.

After 18 months I moved states to be closer to family and a couple of months later got full-time work. At this point my gym routine fell over. I was really tired all the time, doing work that was challenging and stressful and I didn’t have the energy to keep going. I was told several times that I “should” get back into it and I felt the pressure. But I didn’t. 6 yrs went by and I regained 20 of those kg.

Fast forward to 2012 and I began the 12WBT program. In 3 rounds (9 months) I dropped 30kg, taking me back under the amount I had previously dropped. At that point things somewhat fell over again. I got sick (headspins) and spent 3 months trying to figure out what was going on. My doctor ended up telling me I had Meniere’s Syndrome, which is basically fluid between the ears that impacts balance. I had to stop my training.

My focus has changed since then. Rather than focusing on the numbers I am focusing on self-care and self-love. Nurturing myself, listening to my body, mind and spirit and giving them what they need to function optimally. It’s a very different way of being that takes a lot of getting used to. In the time I have been doing this the scales have said that I have regained 10kg.

I don’t care. Well, a part of me does. At one point I got seriously frustrated with the scales not moving. My head got really messy with it all and for my own sanity I had to ditch the scales. I’ve pulled them out of the cupboard several times since then and each time I step on them I get a pang of frustration that they aren’t shifting. Then my brain reminds me that the fluid my body holds onto with my lymphedoema does some crazy stuff and sometimes the numbers get messed up because of it. And then I remind myself that my nutrition intake isn’t always the best and I need to “fix” it. And then I get frustrated with myself cause “no matter what I try nothing works” *rolls eyes at myself*. And so it goes in circles. Around and around and around. Nothing is ever good enough (story of my life). When will it ever end??

*sigh* relax

So I have put the scales away again. Because I know that I am so much more than the numbers. They can never define me. Ever.

The numbers haven’t shifted in any desirable direction for about a year. But when I look at other things there have been huge shifts. I described earlier my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. I now have complete certainty that I am enough. Just the way I am. Right here, right now.

The way I think about myself is completely different. Professionally I have gained a heap of knowledge about the human mind and how we respond to stress and this has given me a new awareness and insight into the way I cope with things. I have taken action to deal with those things and while the process is ongoing as I continue to learn more, where I am now is worlds apart from where I was even 12 months ago. After so long spending my life eating and numbing my emotions, I am now able to acknowledge and recognise them. I allow myself to feel them. I acknowledge my right to feel them. I am learning to deal with them without resorting to food.

I am learning to speak up for myself and voice my truth. I am learning (and coming to terms with) the fact that my future is full of possibilities. I am learning to listen to myself. To trust that my inner voice is right (for me) and is worth listening to. This process has led to a more natural way of eating. I have found recently that I am naturally eating the less processed, healthier foods. And my training has transformed as well. It’s no longer about fitness. It is now about listening to my mind and body and giving it what it needs. I’m working on being able to walk away from each training session with a feeling of peace, calm and strength. Using it to nurture and care for myself in the way I deserve. With love. Increased fitness is just an awesome side effect.

THAT transformation is worth so much more than the numbers on the scales. Every step I have taken has led me to this place, right here and now.

And right here and now is where I want to be, because where I am heading is full of lights so bright I am going to need sunnies. 🙂

authentic beauty

Trauma

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to put it on here, so thought I would catch up 🙂

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trauma

Ominous. Threatening. Fear.

I’ve had this blog post running around in my head in the last 24 hours or so and as I sit here to start writing it, I feel like my fingers are a little unsure of what to allow out. But since I do my best (and most powerful) writing by simply allowing it all to flow, I thought I would just start and see what came out.

I have had a really difficult couple of weeks at work with some very emotional topics. I see a number of people who have been traumatised by events in their lives, which has a pretty big impact on the body, mind and spirit. One in particular left me carrying a whole heap of “stuff”. You know the whole theory about being able to hold it together during a crisis and then falling apart afterward?

Well, I did that. My client needed me to be strong and to ‘carry’ her through the crisis. I did that. And then I fell apart.

At the time, even after debriefing with a colleague, I knew I was holding onto some of the stuff. I just didn’t know what. Two weeks later I was able to discuss it in some greater depth in an attempt to deconstruct it and discover what it all about. This conversation occurred yesterday, and let me tell you, the deconstruction was seriously deconstructed!

trauma not just imaginationIt took a bit to work through the jumbled mess that was in my head. We discovered that … I am procrastinating on writing the words. I don’t want to say it out loud … I was traumatised. By supporting my client through this stuff, I was traumatised. See, I need to say it twice to really get it out there. This stuff was huge. The type of huge that is major responsibility and decision-making that has a significant impact on people’s lives.

It left me feeling like I had a big, grey, ominous, heavy cloud hovering over me. With the incredible support of my friend and colleague I discovered that this trauma had reminded me of all the other times I have been traumatised in my life that had never been acknowledged. My history has been to “soldier on”, pretend things never happened. And then to eat. And eat. And eat, so I don’t have to acknowledge and deal with any emotions that might be sitting there inside me. Numbing myself has always gotten me through in the past. It has helped me survive the trauma.

This time I began the same routine. My first instinct was to stop at KFC. But something inside told me that this time needed to be different. This time eating wasn’t the answer. That voice was small. But it was adamant. And certain. So I didn’t stop, which is a proud moment for me.

Yesterday I got a lot of stuff out of my head. But it is only the surface layer. There is so much more there. Every single time something happened in my life that was never talked about or dealt with. The times that were talked about and partly dealt with. The times that were acknowledged and the times that weren’t. so much stuff sitting in my head and heart. And on my body.

As I have been told several times before, this is my time. I no longer need the protection the food has provided for me in the past. I am destined for amazing things in the rest of my life. My past experiences have taught me incredible things and now, as I receive one more key to unlock one more lock, I gain a little more insight into how big my future really is. I need to take my next footlight and start unravelling and acknowledging each of the traumas in my life …

  • The deaths of my parents and brother.
  • The bullying I received as a child.
  • The feeling of not belonging in my own life or friendship groups, even in my own family.
  • Coming home one day to find my friend and housemate in crisis and having to support her, and then not having any support to process what happened.
  • Being used as a punching bag by my sibling as a child.

So much stuff. And given how bright my future is, so so worth the process. I need to do this to be able to live my destiny.

Bright. Light. Destiny.

hardships destiny 

5 signs you’re on the hero’s journey.

5 signs you’re on the hero’s journey..

I came across this article today and wanted to keep it. It speaks to me. Enjoy 🙂

It talks about your greater mind providing the signs you need to listen to so that you can live the life you’re destined for. It’s very well written, uses a lot of metaphors, and while sometimes the language is a little “lyrical”, the message is clear. No matter how much you fight it, your greater mind will always lead you to the life you are meant to life. Even if it hurts like hell to travel the abyss to get there.

So, we may as well learn to let go and listen, right? 🙂

Rituals to let go

Mum. Grief.

Two words that will forever be associated in my head.

excuses kill dreams kill excuses instead

On Thursday I did something I’ve needed to do for a while (and didn’t know I needed it). I had tears flowing on and off most of the evening.

My mum died in October 2002. Since then I think a part of me has known that I haven’t grieved for her in the way I need to. Instead I have coped the way I always have with tough stuff. By avoiding, by burying. The pain. The hurt. The sadness. Usually with food. Mostly unhealthy food.

I would sit for hours numbing myself, watching mindless T.V. while eating. Chips, twisties and chocolate have always been my fall back options. But anything would do.

Every diet ever invented provides a plan that restricts or even eliminates specific foods. When I started the 12WBT it was no exception. I have always turned to food to avoid or numb my emotions to the point where I wouldn’t even know they were there most of the time. “I never get angry”. Yeah, right. Only because it was hidden under all the food, buried deep down inside. So not having my fall back foods on the 12wbt plan ….

It’s been extremely challenging for me. To find alternative strategies has proven difficult. To even become AWARE of my emotions has been an issue. An enlightening and educative process. I feel like I am a lot more aware of when I am feeling emotions. I now acknowledge and recognise my anger. Yay, me!

More difficult has been the strategies. Or at least implementing them. Every time I try, I end up self-sabotaging. I go back to old habits and ways of coping. Namely, eating. My standby addiction. My excuses come out to play, in a big way.

It’s difficult to admit it’s an addiction. I know it is, but I don’t want to say it out loud. But that’s a whole other blog post …

let go of the past
Last week I was talking to a close friend and colleague of mine about rituals. She said she saw me in front of a big orange fire, creating a ritual whereby I was able to let go of stuff that’s been holding me back. Thursday and Friday (yesterday) I went to an annual work retreat where we get together for 2 days for professional development and some down time. My friend, after talking with me last week, organised a bonfire for Thursday night. Especially so I could do my ritual. I am so, so BLESSED!

I spent some time writing before dinner on Thursday, following a full day of professional development on grief and bereavement. Kind of fitting that my mum was right there. I allowed my hand to move the pen however it wanted and I wrote a letter to my excuses. I told them how they have helped me over the years. How they have protected me and kept me safe. How they have allowed me to survive. And about how they are now keeping me further away from where I am destined to be. My big, vast and promising future. I sent them all the love and care in what they have done for me in the time they have been my companions and then told them it was time I set them free. I thanked them and then let them go.

I cried most of the way through writing that one page letter. The words flowed very easily and it took about 5 minutes. I sat quietly for a while, did some breathing and mindfulness practice before rejoining the group. After dinner I went down to the bonfire with my friend and after everyone else went to bed we talked for a bit. She asked me, who was the one person, alive or dead, who I would call upon for support when I needed it?

Mum.

We talked about her. Her personality, her smell, what she did for me. The differences between her and dad. The biggest thing about my mum is the way she nurtured me. Something I have never really done for myself.

We talked about how I could call on her for support and nurturing whenever I needed her. I was in a flood of tears almost the entire time we were talking. My mum was with me by that fire. Watching. Waiting. Loving, nurturing, protecting.

letting go and shining bright

And then I threw the letter in the fire and watched it burn. Slowly, from the edge, across the paper from one side to the other. I watched those excuses disappear out of my life, little bit by little bit, knowing that I am STRONG, DETERMINED, COURAGEOUS. Knowing that whenever I need her, my mum will be there to support, encourage and nurture me. Knowing that I can do those things for myself.

All I need to do is trust. Myself, my gut, my mum.

After I got back to my room I felt quite wrung out. Drained. Tired. And somewhat cleansed.

Tomorrow is a new day.

I’ve got this.

I am looking forward to the rest of my life.

STRENGTH. DETERMINATION. COURAGE.

ME.

letting go for freedom