“When I began to write this post, it was meant to be about grief, but as the words have poured out onto the page, writing about grief as a concept , without writing about what has been lost hasn't felt right.”Read More
Oh sweet, seductive avoidance.
It's been a running theme for a few years now.
Sneakily humming along in the background of everyday life.
Insidious and energy -leaking in nature.
I can't really continue to talk of this avoidance without also addressing feelings of resistance.
It's actually the resistance that happens before the avoidance. Often it can manifest in irritation, for me my little rebellious side comes out to play, defying the task that is begging for attention.
It's can feel like a pit in my stomach, like I forgot to turn the iron off, a seeping kind of guilt that has no shape or form to it. It's presence can be overwhelming and yet hard to define or pin down.
For some reason I have been busying myself with the things that feel easier, holding out as long as possible to address the elephant in the room. Lingering bills, unanswered emails, unanswered phone calls and text messages, instead, throwing my energy around in a miscellaneous fashion that feel's productive at the time.
Every now and again I make what I call an avoidance list and reluctantly work through it. It seems to work, because I stop trying to get to a place that is comfortable enough,I stop trying to wait for the right conditions to 'do the thing' knowing that on the odd occasion some short term pain can open up new space, momentum and energy.
Relationships are malleable.
They evolve in their shapes, they mature, deepen, and grow.
When we enter into a new relationship , we find ourselves in an exciting new landscape of learning and growth. Everything is shiny and sparkly and all intoxicating.
I imagine this space in my mind like a big container shaped like a heart. We enter into this container with awe, excitement and delight.
Over time we ease into this container, we become familiar with its curves , its crevasses and the idiosyncrasies. We find a familiar place to land , a place that fits so neatly. This place is safe and comforting. We begin to take on the qualities of this container until we find that it is hard to see where we end and the other begins.
Then life happens, challenges, growth, stresses, obstacles, celebrations, explorations,- all the things that make up the beautiful chaos that is life.
Then , without you really realising, that old familiar heart shaped container starts to feel a little bit small. You wriggle and squirm around trying to curl yourself into that familiar space that used to feel so easy. Yet no matter how many different contortions you try out there is still a sense of unease. It's not as if there is anything intrinsically wrong with the space, but it has changed and so have you.
Once this becomes known, it becomes evident that trying to make that container fit again is just going to leave you tangled up in knots. And as difficult as it is, you know that it is time to thank the container and that other soul mate for holding you, for teaching you and for loving you.
Relationships change, this is the very nature of them. Relationships are beautiful opportunities to grow and to experience life in all it's different dimensions. I don't believe relationship endings are failures, I prefer to see them as completed contracts, where the soul lessons have been learnt and you have graduated to your next life stage. This is something that feels scary but why can't it also be something that we celebrate......?
What are your thoughts?
I have always been actively engaged in creative projects and business ventures.
Despite my devotion to my own creative practice, I have always maintained a separate income stream through a form of paid employment. Over many years my life has been a process of weaving in and out of being in the creative zone and then showing up as a contributing member of the labour force. (whatever that means #capitalism)
On an almost a daily basis I have felt the tension of trying to do both things. When I wake up knowing I have to go to work, that tension arrives in spades. I often find myself having an internal temper tantrum, my heart is literally kicking and screaming like a 3 year old toddler. Some days it takes every ounce of self composure to pull myself away from my creative work and show up in the workforce.
There is this deep seated desire to just quit all the jobs and go and live in a commune and create art- yet as an introvert who needs alone time and basic comforts, this isn't really a realistic option.
As a result of this way of living, I have spent so much time sitting in the discomfort of not feeling in full alignment. For a while I felt kind of angry at the world for not being able to live my life in a way that was fully on my terms.
Yet when I look back I can actually can see that my best work has been created out of this tension.
The tension has supported me in the following ways:
- Not having endless time and space has forced me to be more potent in my work and has helped me get really fucking clear about what it is I want to be saying and expressing to the world.
- The emotion that has come as a result of the tension has inspired me to open conversations around the creative process and forms a huge part of my message around the great unravelling- managing expectations vs creating your soul work.
- I have had to become devoted to my creative practice. I usually end up working late into the night and over weekends. I have been amazed at how productive my work has been during this time. Of course you need to balance that out, but I find that it actually energises me in a way that nourishes and supports.
- I have learnt about my own creative rhythms - when I feel most alive and inspired and how to capitalise on that ( cue night owl) tip: always carry a journal to scribble ideas in.
I actually often wonder, if I did have all the space, would I feel so motivated and determined? Would a be so prolific in my work? Would I have learnt as much about my own creative process?
It's taken me so long to see that this tension is a gift, and it is something that has lead me to this very place, and for that I am grateful.
Why is it so hard to make the change we desire?
I've been examining my own behaviours of late and I have to confess there are some shifts that I am struggling to implement.
Even though it appears I want something with every cell of my being, it continues to elude me.
With curiosity and a good dash of frustration and anger at the universe I went within to enquire.
This answer came to me:
I am so deeply emotionally attached to the familiar and the comfort that the familiar provides I am scared of letting go.
In a world that often feels way too loud and confronting how can I build up the capacity to release the predictability and safety? These things are my anchor points, they help me to understand where I am in reference to those around me, yet i know they are also the things that keep me from forward motion.
Having the courage to release the familiar often takes grit, stamina and strength.
If I get really real with myself I haven't been willing to make the changes I want, because at the moment, I want the comfort just a tiny bit more than I want the shift.
It feels really liberating to admit that.
Rather than beat myself up for this pattern of self-sabotage, I feel this glimmer of growing self-compassion and softness.
Can you relate?
p.s This isn't a practice designed to let you off the hook, making change is uncomfortable but it is my firm belief that it all begins when you get honest with yourself around what the change will take and the potential discomfort that may arise. Do you really have the resources right now? And if not, do you have it in you to create them?
Some days all.the.things are going to align and other days it's a signal to pause and hold off until things come together x
This is a big topic, and if I am honest it might take more than a blog post to unravel this one.
Over the past 12 months I've been making changes and realigning my life in countless ways.
As expected, feelings of worry, fear and uncertainty have been popping up all over the place, often in the most inconvenient of moments.
Recently it occurred to me that the need to feel safe is what often triggers these feelings.
When we are stretching into new possibilities and making decisions that have us feeling vulnerable, the first casualty is often that sense of security and control.
The fear is there for a reason - to make sure we don't get ourselves in really dangerous life threatening situations, yet as we know, 9.5 times out of 10 the stakes are not that high.
So how can we feel safe when the future is incredibly unclear ?
Is it something we ever get used to?
Is there an easier way?
Deeply disturbed does not cut it.
Surprised, well actually no.
I have been thinking about this idea of the world being a mirror. What happens internally is what we see in the physical form externally. America's election result has illuminated the deep polarity that is happening across the globe, not only in America.
I scratch my head and try to comprehend how we have gone from Obama to Trump and the only theory I can come up with is that this has all come as a result of fear. Fear of difference, fear of change, fear of progress. When the tides change , inevitably there will be many who are set on digging in their heels - holding onto what feel's easier.
Hate is easier.
It isn't easy to go out of your way to educate yourself ( some don't have that opportunity).
It isn't easier to have to change your whole worldview ( this can be uncomfortable)
It isn't easier to put your own shit aside and stand in someone else shoes.
Change involves questioning what you know and being willing to think differently.
So where to from here?
I believe that this is an invitation to all of us to become more politically engaged. There is a mentality (of which I am also guilty) which relies on this idea that 'someone else is figuring it out'. Someone else will fix climate change, someone else will ensure human rights are protected.
The 'someone else will do it' mentality isn't going to stand up anymore. If we want to see real change and progression that addresses inequalities, social justice and the deeply concerning climate change crisis ; we have to make it our problem - not something we outsource to politicians.
This is also an invitation to step into compassion. Compassion for the fear that has lead us down this global dark night of the soul. Compassion for individuals who think that hate is the best antidote to fear.
It is my hope that Trump's presidency will be an incredible lesson for us all and that unity, compassion and respect will emerge from this chaos.
“The waves broke and spread their waters swiftly over the shore. One after another they massed themselves and fell; the spray tossed itself back with the energy of their fall. The waves were steeped deep-blue save for a pattern of diamond-pointed light on their backs which rippled as the backs of great horses ripple with muscles as they move. The waves fell; withdrew and fell again, like the thud of a great beast stamping.”
― Virginia Woolf, The Waves
She held the moon in her arms
to illuminate the darkness in her heart.
like her life
There is something about singing in a group of people that just makes me light up. My sister refer's to this as the "choir tingles" - a moment where the harmonies collide and you enter an exquisite mind , body and spirit experience. I have been looking for a choir for years but I wanted something that would suit my level of commitment with no pressure to perform or to sign up for months on end. ( obligation seems to kill desire for me)
A few weeks ago I discovered The Welcome Choir. They are a beautiful group of souls that meet once a week. I highly recommend you check out their website to learn more, especially if you are in Sydney and are looking to invite some fun back into your life.
Joining the choir has injected some much needed play back into my world. Things were getting a bit too serious there for a while - endless to-do lists, running a business and working as a Social Worker in a very intensive environment had me entering a state of overwhelm. When I did a little review of my calendar it became really obvious to me that I had neglected to schedule in time to play, relax and indulge in my silly side.
Looking back over the past year I have found myself having to navigate more anxiety than usual . I have always operated on the anxious side of the spectrum, however I noticed these feelings were starting to influence my decision making and the way I was functioning in the world. For many months I was searching for more serious solutions to curb the restlessness and unease. It hadn't dawned on me that brining fun back into my life would have such a profound impact on my own mental health. How could something so simple make such an difference? Well to my surprise it has. Who knew that pleasure could be such an antidote to a racing mind? - It seems blindingly obvious now!
This is a pretty wonderful realisation because it has got me thinking about other ways I can play and feel pleasure.
What ways are you injecting pleasure into you life?
Has play become a bit of a blind-spot?
Tell me how you get your silly side on!
It exposes and unravels us
It teaches us how loved we are
In our darkest hours
We open our hearts,
and our deepest pain
When I scroll my social media accounts and see everyone sharing their lives ( myself included) I am left with one thought - we all just want to be seen.
Being visible has been something that I have been working on over my 33 years. As an introvert the whole 'being seen' thing is quite a vulnerable and exposing place. I remember in school really being envious of the extroverted children who were so free in their expression, vocalising their emotions and every thought that entered their brains. I honestly thought I had some kind of problem. Why was I so quiet? Why did I feel so inhibited? Why were the loud children always given the most attention? If only I had known about the whole extrovert/ introvert thing!
Over the past 4 years I have actively been putting myself in the spotlight. This process of showing up really began when I studied photography and then went on to create my own photography business. Creating work for exhibitions, sharing my images and my written work felt scary and liberating all at once. But I have to admit - the work I shared was always highly curated and always strategically placed to avoid the least amount of vulnerability and the most amount of validation.
My work here at The Great Unravelling feels completely different. I feel much more open to being vulnerable and being okay with not getting it right. It has actually been a really healing experience to just back myself 100% rather than needing to have everything perfect. When you come into my space there are imperfections- spelling mistakes, typo's and clumsy words thrown onto a page. But to me it is more important to just get something out there , to share what feels good and to do what I am here to do which is to connect and create a space that is supportive, non-judgemental and open- hearted. A space that celebrates the simple pleasures in life but also honours the dark and sometimes harrowing struggles we all face.
I have a long way to go though, I still seek validation, I still want people to like me and I still compare myself to other successful women. I think we all do at some level. Yet despite all of this there is still that deep urge to show myself and to express my truth. And I know this because hiding is no longer an option for me. Hiding is unhealthy and makes me feel small. Hiding is not being of service to others in this community or in my relationships. Hiding does not make me happy.
I would love to chat more about this idea of visibility.
Are you showing up in your life?
Do you run from the spotlight like me or do you embrace exposing your raw and imperfect self?
When I started a meditation practice I was given one incredible piece of advice.
You have to take something out before you put something in.
We are all so busy. We live in a world that rewards and celebrates being busy. But we can't just keep adding, adding adding. To really make my meditation practice something that would be sustained I had to have an honest look at my current commitments. If I was going to put aside 30 minutes a day to sit I needed to evaluate how I was spending my time.
This need not be a complex process and it is not one that is only relevant to starting a meditation practice. For me I decided to watch less TV. It's funny that now I don't even turn my TV on anymore. (note: for the record I am known to binge watch netflix and have nothing against passive consumption)
Back to my point.
Rather than piling up more and more and more and more.
Ask yourself : What is really possible at this time? Maybe it isn't possible to take anything out, and that's ok. When I find myself in this situation I just acknowledge that this is not the right time to add more in.
I find is helpful to come back to the concept:
Is this filling up my cup?
Or am i just pouring said cup's contents over my head?
I am delighted to bring you a very special post about motherhood and self-care. I myself am not a mother so I called on my wonderful sister to share some pearls of wisdom. I have watched my sister Emma from the sidelines in admiration. Emma creates such a nurturing space for her children and somehow also manages to still accomplish so much in her work as a writer and textiles artist. For many women, having children can be quite the unravelling. Motherhood requires so much energy and can be as equally exhausting as it is exhilarating!
Emma Peters: MUMMA + WRITER + ARTIST
In the grand scheme of things, I am a mumma-rookie, being one for only 3 years, 2 months, 23 days and 4.5 hours (every hour counts!). Before babies (BB) my greatest skill was self-care. I was incredibly good at booking acupuncture appointments, seeing my naturopath, going to yoga, quality time with my friends, date-nights with my beloved, eating well, going to the hairdressers, reading books, going to bed early, getting myself dressed beyond yoga pants and a t-shirt, showering, deep breathing… it pretty much all went down the drain for a few months post-baby arrival.
Slowly I have reacquainted myself with some of these things, from bottom to top of the list. Since my second baby was born in September, I’ve worked my way back up to “hairdressers” – a huge achievement!
A friend recently reminded me that acts of pleasure don’t need to be grand gestures. Just small moments in the day that move your head from an external giving, nurturing and providing space, to an internal giving, nurturing and providing space - a reminder that you are an individual, unique soul.
For me, creative acts are my greatest pleasure. Finding the joy of creative flow of writing, sewing, knitting, drawing, reading, researching is my ultimate pleasure zone. Breaking down a project into bite-sized (or nap-sized) pieces and indulging in them instead housework makes me feel like me. Everyone has their own version of this. All it takes is reminding yourself what you enjoyed before babies, and modify it so it fits within your new world of mumma-hood.
Sometimes I go *really* crazy and enlist some extra support to allow for self-care. What I’ve learnt is that family and friends love feeling like you need them – so it’s only fair to let them help. And let them help in their own way. I was told once, that if your helper’s child-care philosophies don’t align with yours, only intervene if it’s actually going to harm the child – this let’s your support team feel empowered to actually help. Plus, they get to develop a special bond with your child. Never a bad thing!
Like the air-hostess reminds us before a flight to secure your own oxygen mask before your child’s (which I would most likely ignore in a real emergency), you need to place your own self-care as a priority. If the captain goes down, the ship will sink right to the bottom. Here’s to staying afloat!
I highly recommend you also pop over to see Emma's Textile website. Her work is beautiful.
The space in-between is a place I know well.
Not really knowing what you want to do or even what you stand for. Asking questions like "What is my soul purpose? " or "How can I use my unique gifts?" You journal, meditate, manifest and yet there is nothing. You feel unsatisfied, maybe even disillusioned that you are not living the life you crave. A few hours scrolling social media just makes you feel more inadequate. You desire change and something new but you are scared to make rash decisions when you have no idea what it is you are actually chasing.
I have been in this space many time. It can take weeks, months and years to shift out of the unknown. If you are proactive, driven and ambitious like me, this can be torture.
What I have come to learn is that this mysterious place is meaningful. This space is important and this space is where beautiful ideas are born.
Releasing the struggle around being in this space can support you in creating the shifts you desire. Accepting the not knowing, embracing the mystery and unravelling in the layers of uncertainty have been transformative for me.
From this comes relief.
How beautifully freeing is that?
So my gentle words to you are...
Lean into the mystery
Ask the mystery what it is it wants you to know
Celebrate the unknown
Trust the answers will come when you are ready
For without the dark, there is no light.
Every now and again I make a conscious decision to take a break from trying to be better. No courses, no programs, no diets, no new regimes, no detoxes, no meditation retreats, none of it. Because I am someone who loves to learn and to grow and to challenge myself pulling back from these activities can feel a little counter intuitive, lazy even.
Don't I need to be cutting out gluten ( again) ? Don't i need to start that new meditation practice? Don't i need to sign up to that workshop?
The mind clings on but the heart softens. The mind feels lazy BUT the heart feels free.
I usually decide to take this kind of holiday when I am feeling like my brain has 10,000 tabs open. When I find myself feeling rushed or agitated or tired this type of holiday can be the best medicine.
Being able to just be. To feel contented with where you are at and to allow the time to process things without the clutter and long list of things to be better at.
There are emotions to be aware of when embarking on such an experiment.....
Resistance: This is the coming down phase where we have more time but less stuff. We miss the instant gratification that our addiction to self-improvement can provide. We feel sooooo LAZY.
Over-thinking: We start to question if this is really worth doing- or is it in itself another mode of self improvement ( the irony isn't lost on me) but we keep committing to just 'being' for a little bit longer.
Pockets of calm: The original feelings of being lazy start to transmute to less agitation and more calm. We feel clearer on the things that matter. It feels like a relief to be letting go and just not trying so god damn hard.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you ever let yourself off the self-improvement hamster wheel?
You know that feeling when you have your morning coffee and you just feel worse?
Your usual quick fix strategies are no longer cutting it but you feel so drained you can't come up with a plan B. A few years ago I found myself in this very situation - let's be honest every now and again I find myself in this situation! My head feel's like a cotton wool cloud, I feel vague and every day feel's just HARD. And again I ask myself, how did we get back here!? Self- care is a funny little thing. We get on the bandwagon and do ALL THE THINGS and then we feel great. Then we feel so great that we start to cut a few corners. Then instead of cutting corners we are suddenly back into old patterns and we can start to disassociate from the messages our body is telling us (or yelling at us).
If your super sensitive like me you might find yourself in this fog very easily! So how can you deal with it without feeling more stressed?
My number one solution is to meditate for 5- 10 minutes a day.
This sounds potentially much too simple. You may be thinking
don't I need a complex solution to this seemingly complex problem?
Meditation has this magical thing about it. For every 10 minutes of meditation you will feel like you have slept for 30 minutes. Meditation gives you energy. It fills your cup back up. It's a big bang for buck scenario if you think about it.
If you are new to meditation and have no idea where to start there are some great iPhone apps available that are free. I usually set the timer on my phone to 10 minutes and just sit.
I sit without expectation. I feel into the sensations of my body.
It might be as simple as noticing the breath or contact your body has with the floor.
Sure the mind still zooms around at a million miles an hour. But that's okay. Don't judge it.
Sometimes meditation can be associated with something that is HARD. In my experience we only make it hard if we try to change things. Don't meditate to fix something, don't meditate to check something off the self-care list, meditate without expectation even if your thoughts are telling you otherwise. Meditate as an act of love to yourself.
It is that simple.
I will be writing more about how I learnt to meditate over the coming weeks.
If you have any questions, comment below and I will answer them right here.
From an early age we are taught to be happy. If we shed tears we are told " cheer up, it's not that bad" . These thoughts are not ill intentioned however I wonder sometimes if this constant encouragement to feel good all the time is setting us up to fail. We seldom here of the benefits of sitting in the darkness. It is my opinion that nurturing these feelings is essential to being able to transmute them . You see, when we suppress our emotions they can get lodged inside of us. Often this suppressed emotion can reappear in our lives at a later state through burn out, exhaustion or illness. How different would it be if we were encouraging each other to just sit with it all. Sit without expectation, without guilt, without the need to feel better or to get on with things. Maybe, just maybe this would allow our body to process the emotion then and there. The emotion would be free to move through us in a healthy way.
This understanding is key to my own coaching practice. Supporting women to embrace the dark in a safe and supportive container is one of many pathways to greater emotional health.
Of course if you find yourself in complete overwhelm , unable to move through the darkness it is equally important to seek professional support and guidance. Working through these feelings on your own can be difficult and It is so important to enlist your own support team.
The fear, the uncertainty and the isolation which results from having a chronic illness can break you. If you have ever had to deal with a long term illness you will know all about the day to day struggle and the endurance required to get through. The endless medical appointments, having to say no to social events, feeling like a burden and grieving the loss of the person you were before.
Six months or so into my own health unravelling I remember sitting in my doctor's clinic feeling hopeless and fearful about the future. She said to me " humans don't deal very well with uncertainty". This struck a chord with me. So much of my fear was about not knowing what I was going to do next. Would my relationship survive this? Would I ever work again? Would I ever feel well again? What did feeling well even feel like? - I had forgotten.
It was the uncertainty of it all that was most destabilising. The uncertainty made it hard to set goals, to dream and to plan a future. I was paralysed by the not knowing and as I result I found myself only being able to think about the illness. Before I became unwell I thought I had many things mapped out. There was a clear sense of knowing what would happen next. The concept of certainty existed and it felt possible and real. If you think about this, it is all rather funny.
In many respects even though I had a health condition, things were no more certain than they were before. What had changed was my outlook on the situation. It was me who decided that I wasn't able to plan or set goals or dream of holidays and dream jobs. I had become so fixated and obsessed with getting better that everything else had ceased to exist. When I started to dream and set goals things did shift.
Distancing myself ever so slightly from my illness was in itself a healing. My partner and I booked a holiday and planned some date nights. I started drawing and painting. I also began to reach out to family and friends. Over time I was able to create some balance between being proactive around my health condition and living a life. Some days were harder than others but the importance of always dreaming and setting goals was not lost on me. Have you struggled to dream while living in uncertainty?
So what does it actually mean to unravel?
For me "unravelling" does not exclusivley refer to a painful or traumatic process. Unravelling can be anything from birthing a beautiful project or carving out a way to express yourself in the world. As we unravel we get closer to our heart and what we truly desire. Sometimes unravelling can be difficult. It may lead us to the depths of despair and have us questioning everything we thought we knew about our lives or relationships.
When I look back on my life, my timeline is littered with a mixture of beautiful and painful unravellings. The thing is, the unravelling does not have an end point. We are constantly evolving, changing and reviewing what feels good to us. The relationships we have with people, places and experiences continually shift and mould into new shapes and forms. Sometimes we resist the change and fight the transition, other times we embrace the new and revel in the unknown.