Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

Do What’s in Front of You

December 31, 2015

What have you been learning this year? I’ve been learning to accept what is with gratitude and to listen and act.

On an early January morning this year I went for a walk by the river. I wandered along the river’s edge as the water lapped at my feet, contemplating and praying for guidance about my situation which felt precarious. Then I heard a quiet voice in my mind say, IMG_1596‘Do what’s in front of you’. I recognised this voice as it’s given me wise counsel before, and I knew there’d be more advice if I listened.

My employer had closed for a six week summer break and instead of having a relaxing holiday, I felt anxious about my lack of income, concerned as I’d been told my hours were going to be reduced and frustrated as I wanted to do more meaningful work, yet my energy levels were unreliable. I felt like I was on the wrong road and I didn’t know where the right road was.

 

It reminds me of an Irish joke I once heard.

Paddy walks into a bar and asks the bartender for directions. The bartender Mick says, ‘Oh no, you can’t get there from here!’

IMG_7622_2My logical mind had been trying unsuccessfully to work out how to change my situation, however the logical mind doesn’t understand the mysteries of the soul, which favours unfoldment over a clear linear path.

Without a pen and paper, which I normally use to capture these words of wisdom, I took out my iphone, clicked the voice record button, listened and spoke what I heard.

 

“Do what’s in front of you…When anxiety comes from searching, seeking, wanting things to be different to how they are right now, come back to this moment and do what’s in front of you.

 Take a breath and come back to this moment. What is it that has already arisen that you have not yet acted on? What thoughts or ideas have you discounted or pushed away? What further steps can you take that have already shown themselves to you? Come back into this moment and do those things.

IMG_5424You’re striving for more; more clarity, more insight, more answers and they will come when you do what’s in front of you right now. Let go of searching and take the steps that have already revealed themselves.

It’s like building blocks. To build something new firstly you prepare the ground so that it’s strong and stable. Then you build the foundations and imagine what the building will look like, what it will feel like to be in it. You are preparing the ground.”

 A list of things came into my mind, things that I’d previously, over days, months, even years thought, ‘do that’. Practical things from getting a better handle on my expenses, reading a specific book, recover my lounge chairs, contact specific people and find a new doctor to increase nurturing activities like dance, relax deeply, meditate daily and ask for guidance before bed.

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‘Do these things, clear the way, prepare the ground, build the foundations and as the year unfolds new opportunities will emerge, more actions will be revealed. This is a time for connecting with your heart, with nature, with all that is. Embrace and value each moment, each day, enjoy. All is well. All is very, very well.’

 

This year I’ve been clearing the way and preparing the ground by acting on old and new ideas.

 

I began to notice that serendipitous things occurred. When I asked myself, “What energises me? What do I love doing?”, one answer was the leadership coaching work that I’m trained for and rarely do as I doIMG_7468n’t find self promotion easy.

Within a week I received a call from a friend asking if I could give her a coaching session and could we do it as a swap or barter please. Our exchange? She’s a skilled seamstress and in return she helped me recover the chairs I use for my coaching work. I ticked recovering chairs off my list after a year of ‘I need to do that’.

I dusted off and repaired a portable whiteboard I hadn’t used for years and for some time I’d thought ‘either repair it or throw it out’. A week later I was asked to give a presentation on leadership at my Toastmasters club and the revitalised whiteboard was in use again. This presentation led to invitations to present at four more clubs, an area training day and then an invitation to help facilitate an eight week public speaking course at our local Council. Further opportunities for mentoring and facilitation came up in my club.

I’m passionate about leadership and supporting others to find their voice and pursIMG_7676ue their goals and in opening up my mind to ways to do ‘more meaningful work’, life presented these volunteer opportunities.

Sometimes life opens up different doors to the ones we expect.

As the year progressed my work hours didn’t drop off as I’d been told they would and unexpectedly increased for several months instead. Even though my paid work is not ‘perfect’ (whatever that is!), it’s flexible, I can work around my energy levels and I’m grateful to have it whilst I’m laying the groundwork for more reliable health and energy.

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By acting on all the quiet whispers of ‘do this’, I’m seeing that the path gradually unfolds before me, although not in the direction necessarily that I think it ‘should’.

I listen and follow my guidance some days better than others.

A sign that I’m not is when I feel anxious. Then I know that my grasping mind has stepped in and I need to quieten my mind and come back into the present moment.

 

 

As Lao Tzu said ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

IMG_0884Acting on the things I’d already thought to do created movement and forward progress.

 

Our inner wise guide sees much more than our logical conscious mind and sometimes it doesn’t take us on a direct route. Sometimes we have to drop things off and gather things along the way.

 

If you, like Paddy and I, want to get somewhere other than where you are, revisit the things you’ve already thought to do and haven’t yet acted on, no matter how small.IMG_1468 These ideas are often delivered in a quiet whisper, when you are in the midst of another activity, not when you are focussed on finding answers. You may have ignored or discounted them and yet they keep arising, quietly but persistently. Start there.

I’ve discovered that as I put my foot down, the path is revealed, one step at a time.

 

What have you been learning this year?

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A Bird’s-Eye View

November 27, 2014

 

The last 6 months for me have been a period of change; healing, enlivening and sometimes challenging.

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Recently I went to the local Spa to relax and detoxify. I felt the end of week tension gradually leave and a sense of spaciousness and ease come in. I felt myself rise up above all the detail of my life and get a bird’s-eye view, an eagle’s view and gain a deeper understanding.

When I’m in my day to day life I sometimes feel uncomfortable about what I perceive as uncertainty around my work and income. Taking time out to relax through a long walk or a long soak at the spa helps reconnect me to the bigger picture of my life.

 

At the spa I became aware of the spaciousness of uncertainty and how it leaves room for change, transformation and growth. Gradually my circumstances have been changing and I’ve been changing.

How?IMG_1304

To my surprise my paid work has continued and evolved and a new part-time home-based sales role was created for me by my existing employer, working half the hours I was before.

As I relaxed in the spa, I felt like I was watching a movie trailer of my life as a synopsis of the last 6 months passed gently through my mind. I’m much more creatively satisfied than I was 6 months ago, having developed IMG_1586creative outlets through writing and photography.

 

I’ve been learning how to relax and switch off my nervous system through daily or twice daily deep rest and relaxation times.

 

I’ve brought more pleasure into my life through weekly Nia dance classes and beach walks with friends.

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At the local Farmers Market I buy my weekly organic vegetables and eggs from happy chooks, and enjoy relaxing in the company of friends and listening to the music. Weekly trips to the Farmers market used to be something to cross off my ‘to do’ list as I raced off to work and it took months to break my task driven habit of rushing.

 

I recently attended a Connecting to Your Pleasure workshop to see what I could learn there and it helped re-ignite my relationship to my senses through stopping and noticing and savouring mindfully what I’m experiencing in each moment of the day.

Having this eagle’s awareness come to me in the spa was a relief as recently anxiety had got a hold of me. As I’ve pared back my work hours I’ve been faced with what’s left. Me. No place to IMG_2045hide.

 

What’s revealed when I stop?

When I resist the urge to fill the space things begin to percolate up from inside and are revealed to me. Inner voices tell me, ‘You should get a more secure job’ and ‘You should be earning more money’. Another chides me, ‘Surely if you have nothing else constructive to do then you should be working on your next blog right now.’ Apparently rest and relaxation are not permitted activities! I dig a bit deeper, what’s under this?

 

I reveal inner voices that whisper I’m unsafe, that life is a struggle, that I can’t be REALLY healthy and on it goes.

 

On occasion I’ve been ‘shoulding’ on myself,  future tripping, ‘what if’ ing and worrying. Unhelpful pastimes. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling anxiety as I come up against old limiting beliefs.

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Where do these voices come from?

 

Often out of our mouths or into our minds come voices we heard when we were young. It may not even be something a parent or teacher said, but something we told ourselves and came to believe as a truth due to the circumstances we experienced. Levering out these little hidden nuggets and shining light on them I can begin to question how true they are and decide whether I want to believe or follow their directives anymore. They begin losing their power to influence my life.

 

Issues of anxiety and depression have been present through my life, through watching my mother and other family members deal with them and through my own experience of themIMG_2167. My mother suffered from crippling anxiety and depression throughout her life and it was never diagnosed or treated. As a child I didn’t realise she had an illness, I just came to know life through the prism of anxiety.

 

Due to my recent anxious thinking I’d begun to feel my health sliding backwards and with some external help turned that around. Central to my healing journey over the past 14 years has been identifying, releasing and healing old emotional wounds that hijack my health.  It is by no means the only factor and it is an important one. I’ve been blessed to have a skilled facilitator to guide this process utilising Kinesiology at the Byron Bay Wellness Centre.

 

Our mental and emotional states directly affect our physical health through our etheric body and meridian system and not only our current emotional state, but emotional states we’ve experienced in the past that can be triggered by current circumstances. I’ve discovered first hand that our bodies store emotional memories and have habituated ways of responding to certain emotional triggers and they can be re-trained.

 

IMG_0964How can I feel secure in the midst of change and uncertainty?

Connecting to my higher awareness and guidance through listening to the quiet, still voice within provides me with a feeling of security, and that’s what I connected to when I was in the spa. We all have the ability to tap into ‘all that is’, the mystery of life that we are an aspect of. There are resources and wisdom available there which are not available when I am just connected to my small, fearful, anxious ‘I’ self.

I listened to my intuition earlier in the year as I wrote in my journal:

 

“23/4/14 – I am launching myself into the abyss, the fertile void, the place of all possibility once more. A path of uncertainty, of opening and expansion. My soul calls me forwardIMG_3031. A desire to expand and experience more aspects of life, beyond logic. An impulse to free up constraints and express more of my intrinsic nature, to more deeply connect with the source of all things. What’s next? Self care and self kindness, enrichment and release, listening and allowing, opening and trusting. Emerging clarity. “

 

Lao Tsu said, ‘ Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the water is clear. Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself ? ‘. I’ve chosen to listen to my soul, stay in the uncertainty and allow the unravelling. I know that change takes time.

 

I’m seeing that more is drawn forth from you when you create space in your life. Both more soulful expression and sometimes obstacles to tIMG_2692hat expression. Anxious voices from within or others about what you ‘should’ do or be doing may come in and tempt you to fill the space. Wait and see if it feels right. If it doesn’t, don’t. More of you will be revealed and reflected back to you if you can stand the pressure and wait, listen and be and only act when ‘the right action arises by itself’.

 

Mindfulness, having your awareness in this present moment and responding from there, is  an antidote to anxiety. When we are mindful in each moment we are not future or past tripping or worrying about ‘what ifs’. It is an act of self-kindness and is good for our mental health, our emotional health and our physical heath and it’s something I’m cultivating.

I’m finding on my days off, when the ‘sRIMG0283hould’ voices tell me to do something that I now stop, check inside with how I’m feeling and ask myself, ‘what do I need right now?’ and ‘what do I feel drawn to do right now?’. I often find that what I really need or want in that moment is to prepare some food or have a nap!

 

 

For $15 for an hour’s soak and deep relaxation at the local Spa I got more than I was expecting. I gained a bird’s-eye view and a deeper understanding and acceptance of how my life is right now. I rose above my anxious inner voices and I was reminded that life is unfolding and taking care of me and enriching me, one moment at a time.

There’s Something in the Air

August 29, 2014

There’s something in the air, a turning, a glimmer of newness, I can smell it. I’m feeling the imminent change of seasons, the excitement of Spring is a sniff away.

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It’s the last week of winter and the days and nights are still cool, although not as cool as they’ve been. It’s not just the temperature that’s marking the change. The days are getting longer, my afternoon walks more leisurely. I’m noticing that I don’t having to rush back before darkness descends. In the mornings I’m waking up earlier with the coming of the light. The birds seem more active, more vocal, the rainbow lorikeets screeching and chatting to each other as they feed on the grevilleas, drinking in the nectar. The bees are buzzing around the flowers that are opening more each day. It feels like everything’s beginning to wake up.

 

Winter for me has been an inner time, a time to stop and rest, to reflect, heal and regroup, perfect winter activities. In the last two weeks I’ve been handing over my Office Manager job to someone new,IMG_1504 after over 3 months of working part-time from home. My paid work is now a day by day proposition as I finalise the handover.

In my waking hours I believe that new paid work will come soon and that there is nothing to do but keep focussing on the type of work I want and keep listening and wait for the beat to signal what further action I must take toward it.

 

 

My sleeping hours are sometimes different. I recently had a dream that a typhoon was heading toward me at a fast rate and my anxiety was rising. I was about to be tossed about by a tempest and woke up in a sweat. I told my friend Val about my typhoon dream and she replied in an excited voice, “storms can be exciting!”. That’s true. After a storm has wiped away the old, new life always springs forth. Always. Just because you can’t see what it is yet, doesn’t mean that it won’t come. Val is an optimist and as a trained pessimist who has retrained herself to be an optimist ( in my waking hours!) I know it’s important to focus on what I’d like rather than what I fear.

 

My birthday is this week during the last week of winter. Birthdays and New Year are natural full IMG_1194stops and I find them a perfect time to review what I’ve achieved in the year that has just gone and think about what I want to create in the year ahead. On reflection I realise I’ve achieved a great deal in the year I was 50, including caring for myself well by taking a sabbatical and turning my health around, reconnecting with myself in a deeper way, with the natural world and my passions and finally getting this blog started.

 

So what do I want to create in the year ahead? Twelve years ago I was trained by Kate Ramsay of AnD Leadership Consulting to be a leadership coach and a life vision coach and I learned from that work the power of having a vision. Part of the coaching process is to clarify and describe how your ideal life would look and feel if ‘I have a magic wand’ and there were no obstacles in the way. Bringing to the spoken our deepest wishes, how we’d like our lives to be, helps us navigate our way there. It is a simple and powerful process. I’ve learned that the path to achieving our desired state may take longer than we think and may involve many more steps than we thought, sometimes leading us up unexpected roads. It demands we surrender all that is unlike it.IMG_1459

 

The visioning I did with Kate when I was in my corporate career in 1994 crystallised what was important to me and led me to change everything about my life, from where I worked to where and how I live.

 

What do I want in the year ahead? In the coming year I’d like to invite in resilient and ease-full health. I’d like to become involved in a project that’s IMG_1458making a positive difference in the world and which inspires me. I’d like to be contributing both my skills and ideas and the great people I work with pay me well. In my vision I absolutely love and enjoy what I’m doing and I have a manageable workload that means I’ve time in my life to write and develop my blog, to walk and spend time in nature, spend time with my friends and family and if a lovely man is part of that then that will be a bonus. I dance, sing, play, create, laugh and relax deeply. I love and care and am connected to and support my community. I make choices for the benefit of all and combine with others to remind our politicians about what is important and vital for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and the most vulnerable in society.

 

What about you? What have you achieved in the last 12 months? If you write all of your achievements down, you may be surprised at how many things you can think of. What would you like to bring into your life in the year ahead? Spring is almost sprung. Creating a vision of your ideal life is like sewing seeds. Water it and nurture it and then let go and surrender to the wisdom of life. Listen carefully and you’ll be guided toward it, one step at a time. Maybe that is what I can smell. The scent of new life.

 

In the Forest

August 6, 2014

I went for a walk in the forest. A meandering walk. Not my usual purposeful morning exercise walk. I needed to be with things I heard at the Byron Bay Writers Festival last weekend. I felt stirred up.

A session provocatively titled “The Ocean is Broken” with Tim Flannery and Lisa-ann Gershwin was sobering. I know that we need to hear these tIMG_1001hings and it is not easy to take in all in one go. Our life support system, our ecosystem has been and is being altered by us humans.

Overfishing, chemicals and water temperature increases have changed things and the aquatic ecosystem is becoming more toxic and responding with things like a worldwide overgrowth of jellyfish. Lisa described one species which does not die, it just regenerates and multiplies.

Lisa reported that even if we stopped our human impact immediately it would take 10,000 to 100,000 years to begin to repair and millions more to do so and then it would be to a new ‘normal’, not what once was. We can’t go back to what was.

 

It is not in our hands, it is in the hands of this dynamic living system we live within and are one small IMG_0953part of. An anthropocentric world view, the belief that human beings are the central or most significant species on the planet, has driven unrestrained human development and is based on the illusion that we are somehow in control of nature.  The people who introduced a handful of toxic cane toads to Northern Queensland probably thought they were in control, yet 200 million cane toads prove otherwise.

 

I love saying the word, ‘anthropocentric’ out loud, I like the way it rolls around in the mouth. My other favourite word to say out loud for a similar reason is ‘recalcitrant’ and I think it applies to us humans in this time. The stubborn refusal to obey rules, in this case nature’s laws.

 

When I feel the pain, anger, sadness and helplessness that comes inevitably from facing these issues, I know the best solace is to go and connect with the earth IMG_0951herself and to listen.  I once attended a workshop run by Joanna Macy, whose work centres around needing to feel our feelings about the damage to the earth, to fuel and inspire action, rather than being overwhelmed and immobilised.

 

Joanna described to us the work she did with the people of Novozybkov, a town in Russia, 294 kilometres from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and only one kilometre from the exclusion zone created after the 1986 disaster. It is a town that had all its wooden homes bulldozed to make way for concrete high rise homes, to get the people off the contaminated ground. They will never be allowed to enter their radioactive forest. They had always been people of the forest and they were grieving.

I felt the grief rise up in me aIMG_0998nd I went outside and lay on the earth under a huge fig tree, under the gaze of Mt Warning and cried for them, for the poisoned earth, for us all.  After a while I began to feel soothed. I am not a religious person and as I lay there some words from a long ago psalm came into my mind. ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he restoreth my soul. ” As I lay there I felt a deep sense of being connected to something much greater than myself.

John Seed has said, “I finally surrendered to the earth. Now I find myself asking for guidance and direction and energy and wisdom from the earth, knowing that I am part of the earth.”

 

As I entered the forest this week it had rained overnight so the ground was damp, the colours deeper. I took my camera along to take a photo for the Breakfast Club Diaries, a Facebook group started locally and now 1000 strong and global. The invitation is to take a snap on your morning walk and post it with the time and location.

In the forest, the damp forest, I smelt the leaf litter, the musty smell of damp decaying leaves returning to thIMG_0935e soil. I saw new shoots beginning their journey upward to the light. The whole cycle of life and death right there. I listened, bells birds calling and responding, taking me back to my childhood and a drive in the family car through another forest. I looked up into the canopy of gumtrees, a grey sky filtering through. I love the grandeur of gumtrees, their majesty.

 

In the forest, the breeze whispered through the foliage. I listened. I began to feel acceptance. Acceptance that what has happened has already happened. We can’t go back. We can only go forward with what is and we all have a part to play in what the future looks like by the choices we make today. What choices will I make ?

In the forest peace finds me.