The Garden of Eden

To be human is a divine experience.

Let’s say I’m in the Garden of Eden. Paradise. I know nothing of Good and Evil. I don’t know of pain or pleasure. I don’t know of hunger or satiation. A state of contentment. Peace. I don’t even know of these concepts, there is no contrast in my world.

There are trees that bear fruit in this garden, but I don’t know hunger. I don’t even know what a tree is or what fruit is. I’m just having an experience. No language, no concepts, no thinking. I’m exploring this paradise with my senses only.

One day, as part of my exploration I discover the sense of taste. An apple falls from a tree. I hear it hit the grassy floor, I see it shiny and red. I pick it up and feel the smooth, glossy skin, the firm flesh in my grasp. I smell the sweet fragrance of the ripe fruit. I lick the skin, graze it with my teeth and get the first taste of the sweet juice within.

And now I know the sense of pleasure. I know what it is to desire, to hunger. I have eaten from the tree of knowledge and my paradise will never look the same again.

I want to explore all the pleasures of the senses. I share my new found knowledge with my fellow Humans of Paradise.

We know now of desire, pleasure and hunger. And when we have eaten all there is to eat we know the pain of starvation. And when we desire those things that we cannot have we know suffering. And when we see that others still have access to that which we do not we know envy, anger, injustice, greed.

We have become blinded by our knowledge, lost in our senses. Our paradise no longer feels like a paradise. It is still immensely beautiful and abundant but what does that matter when we know suffering?

This suffering feels unnatural to us. We vaguely remember a time when we did not feel this. We use our knowledge to create ways to avoid our suffering. We now know at a visceral, physical, sensual level what it is to be human.

It is so overwhelming that we forget that we began as Divine Humans. We feel closer to animals now, ruled by our senses. We remember that peacefulness of our previous divinity as something separate to what we are now. We think we are lost and must find our way back to our divine paradise.

One day, wrapped in a shroud of misery and suffering, I wander to the farthest stretches of the Garden. There is nothing but what appears to be barren land for as far as the eye can see. I meander aimlessly over the land for eternity. For so long that I begin to forget that I know anything.

Eventually I come across a tree. Standing alone and flourishing in the barren land. It bears a golden fruit and as I step beneath it’s sprawling canopy, a bright, shiny, golden piece of fruit falls from the tree and I catch it in my outstretched hands.

I sit beneath the tree with the fruit in my hand. The shine of it hurts my eyes. The sweet aroma is overwhelming. I raise the fruit to my mouth, feel it’s skin warm from the sun, against my lips.

This time when I take a bite of the fruit, everything I know falls away. I remember my divinity. That I never left the Garden. That as a human I’m not separate from the Divine, I am Divine of course. I am life itself. There is nothing to be done, nowhere to get to, nothing lost and nothing to fix.

The Garden of Eden is a mental state that can’t ever be taken away from us, though it is well hidden in plain sight. We cast ourselves from Eden when we place our energy and attention outside of ourselves, when we look to others and objects to fulfill us. When we identify with our suffering and stories we banish ourselves from the paradise we were born into.

We think we have fallen from grace and that there is something we must work our way back to. It is this perspective in itself that casts us from Eden. We never fell from grace, we are Grace, we are here in the Garden. We are Divine because we are Human. Who does it benefit for us to not know our own divinity?

To eat from the Tree of Life is to turn away from the world of knowledge which makes it nearly impossible to talk about the experience. Can you sit with a tree until you forget everything you have ever been told about trees, until you are experiencing the tree itself rather than what you know about the tree? Can you sit with yourself until you forget everything you have been told about yourself, until you are experiencing your Self rather than what you know about yourself? This is where your Paradise is.

I’m not religious and have never read the story of the Garden of Eden from the Bible. This is just a story or analogy that came during a meditation and became a part of my meditation practice when out in nature. Interpret it however you please.

The Dance of Life

Both things are true

I  burn with the intensity of a thousand suns

I can be snuffed out by a gentle breeze

I dance the dance of joy and freedom

While locked up in a cage of pain

I tiptoe to the edge of my fears

Courageously spurring myself to look

While cowering away after the tiniest glimpse

I am the best I could possibly be

I am terrible

I have the strength of a warrior

But my true power lies in my vulnerability

I am the logic and reason

That I defy with my stupidity

I am the clarity and the confusion

The chaos and the calm

The poison and the cure

All the things are true

This is the dance of my full embodied soul

There is no need to seek one end of the paradox

Or to hide from the other

They are the same thing

There is nothing left to do

But dance the dance of life

 

Taking Responsibility

During a retreat that I recently attended, I joined in a womb cleansing ceremony.  Over the course of the weekend many women shared storied of miscarriage, abortion, sexual trauma and abuse.  Pockets of my own pain, so cleverly hidden behind a stoic front, were revealed to me too.  So much fun!  We are master deceivers, we paint beautiful lies for ourselves.  Anything to avoid painful truths.

On the last night of the retreat, towards the end of the medicine ceremony, all the women joined in a circle laying down.  Our heads were gathered around the smoking smudge in the center of the circle, our knees bent and feet on the ground.  Our job was to lie there and feel into our womb centers, or just feel whatever we were feeling, scream, shout, cry or laugh.  Or just nap.  Whatever we needed.  The men and the facilitators were going to hold space for us.

I lay quietly with my hands over my lower belly, eyes closed, as the music started.  The men moved around us with rattles and the facilitators blew smoke.  It was such a bizarre situation to be in, I couldn’t help feeling a little vulnerable or exposed.  I was finding it hard to tap into any emotion, though I could feel it there in my chest.  I couldn’t help myself, I had to have a little peek.  I opened my eyes and what I saw really, deeply affected me.

The look of intensity on the faces of these men, young and old, from all different backgrounds completely caught me off guard.  There was an energy of dedication and devotion I’m not sure I’d ever felt from any man before.  Something in me completely relaxed.  Natural order was being restored for a moment.  The men hold the women, the women nurture the men.  Neither completely depending on the other, both supporting one another.

I felt that every man moving around that circle saw me as I am.  A woman.  With the power to create, sustain life, carry heavy burdens and withstand great pain.  Not a sexual object, not a thing to be used for pleasure.  I felt completely safe and held as they moved around us shaking their rattles.  I moved back into my body and was brought on a little journey with my baby that I couldn’t carry to term.

As the ceremony came to an end the men covered us with blankets and left the room, giving us time alone.  After they left I was met with a wall of pain.  It was like the baby in my belly left with them.  I had to feel all the things I hadn’t been able to feel before.  More layers.  All the pain, the anger, the sadness, the resentment, the self-loathing.

I was heartbroken that I couldn’t have that baby.  I was angry at the society I lived in that was ashamed of me and shipped me off to be another countries problem.  Angry at the people around me who wouldn’t let me handle it my own way.  I hated myself for ending up in that position in the first place.  Hated myself for not speaking up, every step of the way, demanding to be heard.  I resented the man involved who knew nothing of the events that unfolded after our time together.  I resented myself for not telling him, for taking away his right to take responsibility for his actions, for thinking it was my job to carry the weight for both of us.  I felt pain thinking of that weak, crippled version of myself that couldn’t use her voice.  That could barely whisper when she should have been shouting.

What became clear in the days after the ceremony was that I wasn’t that version of myself anymore.  I now had the strength to feel it all, to take full responsibility for my actions and my choices.  It no longer felt right to direct my anger anywhere outside of myself.  I didn’t need to direct it at myself either, I just need to feel it and take responsibility for my part in everything.

I was angry at everyone else for not letting me handle it the way I wanted to, for not allowing me to honour my experience, but it was really only me choosing to not do that.  The responsibility lay with me, not with others to give me permission to honour my experience.  But I had the strength to do it now.  Better late than never.  Or right on time, perhaps.

I had wanted to travel alone, take the time I needed to process everything rather than a day trip.  I had wanted to honour my baby.  This wasn’t a clump of cells to me.  There was no difference between what was growing in my womb now compared to when Zoe was in there.  This was not a decision I made lightly but I did make it consciously.  I had wanted to take the remains home.  Have a ceremony, honour the fact that this was indeed a life.  I had taken two preventative measures to avoid becoming pregnant, I wasn’t in a physical, mental, emotional or financial place to have this baby but it was my baby none the less.  I had wanted to tell the father.  If there was anyone I would have felt comfortable travelling with, it would have been him.

I didn’t trust that he would honour my decision and I didn’t trust that I would be strong enough to withstand pressure to change my mind.  But now it felt like I had put an entirely different type of pressure on myself.  The pressure to carry the weight of the consequences of both of our actions on my shoulders alone.  And a nice big dose of resentment towards him and maybe all men to a certain extent.

I can’t change anything that happened in the past, but at any moment in time I am free to stand up and take responsibility for my actions in the past.  I took a day to get in touch with my wild woman, I danced naked in my bedroom, singing and banging my drum and shaking my rattles (that’s not a euphemism!).  I honoured my body, my womb, my femininity, my creative power and the power of my voice, my words, my choices.

The next day I had an honorary burial for my ‘little Grape’.  I laid flowers and I cried and cried and said how sorry I was that I couldn’t carry the pregnancy to term.  I howled in my car like a mad woman, enveloped in pain.  There was a moment of pure clarity that if I were to really honour that baby and everything that had happened, it was time to use my voice.  If I were really taking responsibility for everything then I would tell the man and allow him to feel whatever he had to feel.  I couldn’t sit around feeling angry at him without even having given him a chance take responsibility for his part.

Telling him was the final step in owning everything.  It’s not my job to stop anyone from feeling the things that need to be felt, to prevent anyone from feeling the consequences of their own actions.  And in trying to to do that, to save anyone else from feeling, all I’m really doing is trying not to feel myself.  There is no power in this.  By standing in my own power I give other an opportunity to stand in theirs.

During the conversation there was no blame to be placed, no anger or hatred, just open, honest sharing.  I felt heard and respected, and I could hear and respect him.  I felt as honoured and held as I had by the men in the womb cleansing ceremony.  It felt like sitting on this secret had done as much damage as the initial situation and now, after sharing, there was more room for healing.  I swear I left that meeting a different person than I went in.  It’s another of a million constant reminders that honouring who I am and trusting that I’m safe to feel yields incredible results every time.

This is my experience.  I know so many people that have had their own experience with abortion and don’t feel at all how I feel about mine.  The purpose of this post is to own my experience and share it.  There is no judgement here for how anyone else feels about abortion, there is no right or wrong when it comes to feeling.  There is great power in feeling exactly what you feel in any given moment, not acting upon it but really feeling it.  If anyone is moved to get in touch after reading this, please be free.  Questions, comments, sharing, it’s all welcome.

 

All the things I don’t know.

Jan 17 2020

 

The more I learn the more I realise how little I know.

The less I know the freer I am.

I once knew I was this kind of person.

Then I learned I was actually that kind of person.

Now I’m this and that, maybe nothing, maybe something.

The truth is I don’t know.

How could I know without some frame of reference?

Who am I to you?

Who am I to me?

How could I know without someone telling me?

A person, a culture, a religion, a society.

If all those things don’t tell me who I am, then who am I?

Sometimes the wind blows hard, it howls.

Sometimes it gently caresses our face.

Sometimes it brings a house down.

Sometimes it helps plant a seed.

It is always just the wind.

Always just doing what feels natural and right.

Sometimes the ocean rages.

And sometimes it gently sways us.

It destroys and creates.

It is always just the ocean.

If I create or destroy, if I rage or howl, if I caress or sway.

If I do what feels natural and right in any given moment.

What am I then?

 

 

Facing our Mortality

We’re living through interesting times at the moment.  The pandemic has taken hold and humanity is being asked to reevaluate everything we’ve held as true for a very long time.  Mother Nature has come along to show us what parts of our system structures have become outdated, or perhaps never made sense in the first place, and to ask us what new ways of being we can dream up.  We are essentially being asked to let go of life as we have “known” it, to step into the unknown, to surrender to the nature we are part of, to stop seeing ourselves as separate, to come into the present moment, the here and now, the only place we can affect meaningful change.

Last November I went to Bali for a month to study the Yoga of Sex, Wealth and Death.  The aim was to open up to the taboos, the things we struggle to openly discuss.  It ended up being an incredible personal journey for me, particularly the Death module.  It is something that I feel is serving me well during this unusual moment in time.  I have tried to write about my experience in Bali numerous times but until now it has always felt too overwhelming, there was so much that happened, so much that changed.  Now feels like the right time to explore how one of the modules changed me, I guess.

During Death Week we were asked to face our own deaths and the deaths of those we hold dearest in our lives.  We did different meditations and exercises to open us up deeply to these experiences.  It was incredibly overwhelming at times, often ending with a room full of sobbing  people comforting one another.  We seemed to come out the other side of that week with a new outlook and appreciation for life.  For each breath we took.  For each interaction we had with one another.  For each message we received from home.  For a small smile from a stranger in the street.  We were brought smack bang into the present moment with great insight into what matters most to us in the grand scheme of things.  For me it was connection, support and comfort, unconditional love.

My own personal journey during Death Week changed my perception of myself.  I realised I had a whole way of being wired into me, waiting to take the reigns if I could get out of my own way.  I was reminded of the close personal relationship I felt I had formed with death as a teenager.  I suffered with severe depression as a teen and spent most of that time wishing for death.  I wasn’t going to take my own life but there was no part of me that wanted to be here.  This world stopped making sense to me around 11 or 12 years old.  As I moved out of childhood and gained more understanding of how the world worked it became more and more apparent that it just wasn’t for me, it was completely backwards and I just couldn’t accept it.

I would hear of people dying and I would feel jealous.  This actually hasn’t fully gone away…  But it was because I felt sure that I knew what that journey meant.  It has always felt to me that my death is not an end but a homecoming.  Obviously I have no way of knowing one way or another and it doesn’t really matter anyway but it became apparent in Bali that I have a very concrete belief system about Death that can serve me well in this life.  Dying for me always felt like it would be a homecoming to truth, to unconditional love, to understanding.  To the fundamentals that I felt were missing from my life as a teenager.  So I craved it, I held it close, I hung out in graveyards, I pretended every night when I was going to sleep that I was settling into the arms of Death.  Imagine my disappointment every morning when I woke!

During the meditations in Bali I worked with Zoe and the pain that the separation of death would bring.  But as I welcomed that pain and grief in and learned to let go, both of myself and of Zoe, something more beautiful than I could have imagined emerged.  I had memory after memory during my meditations of lying in bed as a young teenager sobbing about having to be here, begging to be allowed to leave and always hearing a very clear message or having a very strong feeling that I had to have children, specifically a little girl.  It was a sense of knowing that is hard to describe but it was so strong that I would then end up in a new convulsion of tears as to how I could possibly be expected to bring a child into this world.  It was a knowing so strong that it felt like it didn’t matter whether I wanted it or not, it was just what was going to happen.  These were memories I had buried deep within me but they all came flooding back during Death Week.

In my post “The Wisdom of Zoe” I talk about how Zoe told me we made an agreement to come here to this life together, me first and her later as my baby.  The beautiful ramblings of a child.  Or not?  Death Week was giving me a different perspective of Zoe’s Wisdom.  I spent that week learning to let go of her.  What I learned instead is that we are never separated from one another.  Just the idea of her kept me anchored to life as a teenager, we are together in this life, and so the idea that we can be parted by death no longer made sense.  Then this idea spread to every person in my life, to every person I’ve ever interacted with, to every soul, spirit, entity.  The idea that we can be separated felt like an illusion.  Pure peace began to settle within me.

And now we’re in a global pandemic.  A lot of us are going to have to face Death.  Whether it be our own, our loved one’s or our fellow brothers and sisters.  It’s a scary time, we are in the unknown.  We may face hardships but we may also find unexpected Joy.  We may struggle and fall or we may come together in great shows of support, solidarity, unconditional love.  We may be in isolation but we may be finding new ways to connect.  We are learning that connections are there even if we can’t touch one another.  And imagine how it will feel when we can be together in person once more and share a hug or clasp a hand.  It gives us a chance to recognise the  connections we have to nature, that we are Nature.  The connections we have to our fellow humans all over the world all facing the same worries as us.  There is an overwhelming feeling for me at the moment that we are one, we are experiencing this together.

In facing our mortality, in holding our death or the death of our loved ones close to us we can have in look inside to see what really matters.  This is what the virus is forcing us to do.  Do the stock markets matter if our lives are at risk?  All of a sudden we have to ask, is our education or our job more important than our health and the health of those in our communities?  We have to recognise that there are some jobs that are absolutely fundamental to our well being and ask ourselves are those front line workers looked after and supported in a way they need, in a way they deserve, in a way that reflects what they are doing for their fellow humans?

The homecoming that I always imagined coming in Death has been happening for me in life lately.  Through meditation, yoga, mantra, breathwork, reading, connection with wonderful people, working with gifted teachers, I am experiencing truth, understanding, support, unconditional love.  I also feel more and more I can offer those things in abundance too.  So if anybody is feeling isolated, alone or anxious, I’m here if needed.  And I’m driving my neighbors nuts banging my drum and singing mantras for All!

 

 

The Wild Woman

I’ve been initiated in the ways of the wild woman.  To read the book Women Who Run With the Wolves is to be taken on the initiatory journey, or at least to be shown all the ways in which you have been initiate thus far.  I put off reading this book for so long.  It was first recommended by a reader of this blog, then it felt like every person I met was telling me to read it, then it was gifted to me by a beautiful Wild Woman and finally it was recommended reading for a yoga course I am doing.

I’ve had so many required reading text books for different courses I’ve been doing that I haven’t had time to read for pleasure lately.  Last month when I finished a book and wrote my essay I was looking forward to having time to read what ever I wanted.  I sat in front of my bookshelf super excited to see what caught my attention (this is my life now, don’t pity me, I’m happy).  I was determined to not read something from a required reading list.  The Wild Woman had different plans for me.  “It’s time”, she whispered.

So, who is the Wild Woman?  She starts off as a whisper in your  belly, guiding you, trying to keep you safe and free.  She shouts at you every now and again when you get too close to danger.  She’s the extra eyes that are super vigilant when you’re walking alone at night.  She’s the nose that can sniff out when something isn’t quite right even when the head can’t pick out the problem.  She’s the part of you that tells you when it’s safe to relax and when it’s time to brace yourself, when you’re free to dance and when it’s best to hide.  You don’t even hear her, don’t even know she is there and sometimes you ignore her when you do feel her.

“This situation is not safe.” She affirms.  Your head says everything looks ok, you’re not sure why you have that niggly feeling in your belly but you can’t leave, stop, speak up now, it would be rude, unkind, illogical, weird.  So you ignore your squirmy belly and the quiet, whispering voice that’s telling you to tread carefully.  You ignore the whispers, the discomfort, the anger, the panic.  You ignore all the warnings of the Wild Woman until she decides to let you learn the hard way.  “Go into the woods,” She says.  “Face the dangers without me, and when you’ve had enough, can’t take anymore, when you’re ready to listen, call on me.”  Like an ancient, wise mother she’s lets us have our journey, watching over us, waiting to catch us when we fall.  If we’re willing to let her catch us that is.

So you head off into the woods with your big, full, squirmy belly, thinking this is just fine, I’m fine, this is just how life is.  And on your way even your head is now saying at times, “This doesn’t feel right, but I don’t know any other way.”  So you keep going and eventually you’re so deep in the woods that there’s not even a trace of a path, there’s no light getting through the canopy of trees above you.  You look around yourself and realise nothing makes sense.  You’ve been walking for god knows how long, maybe a lifetime, and you have no idea where you are or how to get back.  You’re well and truly fucked.

You lie on the grassy floor of the forest and begin to quietly sob.  You cry, and you cry, and you cry.  As your warm tears water the soil beneath you a memory stirs within.  An anger burns within you as you remember you were abandoned, sent off into the wood alone.  You’re alone, so completely alone.  The rage rises like a tidal wave, right from your toes coursing  up through your body until it bursts out of your mouth.  And then you’re howling.  You’re thrashing on the forest floor, raging and screaming like a mad woman.  Like a Wild Woman.   

And when your body is so dehydrated it can’t cry anymore, and your voice so hoarse it can’t scream anymore, and your body so tired you can no longer lift a limb.  When you no longer have the energy to produce a thought.  When there is silence in you and around you on that cool, mossy floor, or on the cold bathroom tiles, that’s when you will hear her once more.

“You’re not alone”, She whispers gently.  “You never were, I’ve been watching the whole time, waiting for you to call on me.”  You begin to remember all the times She has ever spoken to you, guided you.  With shame you begin to remember all the times you shushed her, or worse, all the times you heard her, knew she was right, but decided to walk ahead into danger anyway.  You burn with guilt when you realise She never abandoned you, but you her.

As you lie on that bathroom floor, you listen to your Wild Woman soothe you.  “I know the way out,” She says.  She makes you vow to not just listen to Her but to act on Her knowings.  She says don’t try to make sense of things, sometimes it wont make sense.  She says to feel with her, feel her in your belly and you will know the way.  She says to give thanks to the anger, the panic, the hurt.  They are gifts, they are signposts, they are the language of the Wild Woman.  Use them to pry open the traps in which you’ve gotten yourself caught.

Let her roam free at times She says.  Alone at first.  Close the curtains, take your clothes off and dance in the forest of your living room.  Howl until the neighbors are looking at you with concern when they pass you on the stairs or on the road.  Growl when someone treads uninvited on your territory.  And laugh, like a cackling, mad woman who knows she free.  These are the things that feed Her, nurture Her.  And when She is free enough she will begin to howl, a quiet howl.  And when Her hearing is attuned you will hear the howls of the other Wild Women and Men calling back to you.  The Wild in you will recognise the Wild in others, whether it’s on the roam or still hibernating.  Eventually you will dance together, howl together.

Not only has the Wild Woman led you out of the forest but she has equipped you with the finely tuned senses to journey back in in awareness.  She has shown you how to find your Pack.  And She has taught you the joy of the forest when you know the way, and the adventure to be found in finding your way out when you get lost.

This book was no easy read.  It’s huge and it’s quite academic in some ways, I had to break the dictionary out a few times.  It frustrated me at times, I just wanted to read a story without having to break down every part, delve into what each character represents.  I had to push through at first, I read it like an petulant teenager reading a book for school.  Pretty soon I was hooked.  The book became my bible.  I brought it everywhere with me, any spare few minutes I could, I would squeeze in a few pages.

My Wild Woman materialised before me, fully formed.  I had been working with her for awhile at this stage but now I got to see her in all her beauty.  And fierceness.  She has shown me that I can love harder than I ever could have imagined.  I can feel the power in my rage and work with it.  I can be as immovable as the great, ancient Oak.  I can laugh right from the depths of my belly.  I can be alone in the forest, or howling with my pack.  I can be with the Wild Woman within me.

 

 

 

Lessons in Love Island

To my absolute shame, I have been glued to Love Island this year. I can’t get enough of it, watching the different dynamics, how they interact, and how different scenarios play out. It’s like a little, pressurised version of the real-life dating world. Some people are trying to keep their options open and really find someone they gel with, others are just looking to couple up as soon as possible with little regard to whether they’re suited or not, some also kind of appear to just be there for the free holiday, the true winners in my opinion. There also seems to be a lot of social exchange theory going on, naturally. Even if there isn’t a genuine connection, some might stay coupled up with a person because of what they can get from this person socially, be it the chance to win 50k, or go out with a successful basketball player or boxer, or just the chance to stay in the villa. Being a viewer is getting to watch the complexities of dating but as the observer, which can be very insightful.

I’ve had to come to terms with my shame for watching this absolute trash TV, but if it has me hooked then something about it is obviously resonating with me right now. While watching it I find myself fascinated with how they interact, and then wondering how I would act in a similar situation. It has kind of become like little thought exercises that have helped me learn a little about myself. And it has become all the more relevant over the last few weeks as I’ve really begun to question exactly what it is I would be looking for when it comes to my love life. Much like the rest of my life, I don’t have a clue what I want in this area either.

I’ve changed a lot over the last 2 years, how I think about things or feel about things has either changed completely or become a lot clearer for me. This process doesn’t seem to be slowing down either, I still feel like I’m regularly going through little, or big, changes here and there. So not only has my opinion on relationships changed over the last few years but I have changed as a person, so the idea of getting into a relationship feels really challenging. If I continue to change, or my perspective of relationships continues to change then I’m leaving myself very open to hurt or be hurt. On top of all of this, my desire to be in a relationship isn’t really there so much, at least not a traditional one anyway.

My most recent foray into the dating world has given me so much perspective on how I work and what I want, and also how inconvenient it is for the people I would potentially date. Some months ago I began seeing a really amazing guy. Not the type of guy I have ever gone out with before. He was incredibly patient, open and understanding. Despite opening up and allowing myself to be completely vulnerable and honest about the giant weirdo I am, I never once felt an ounce of judgement and often felt encouraged and supported to be more my weird self. Neither of us were looking for anything serious and so I felt free to go at my own pace, there was never a “where is this going” conversation, nor was there ever any prying into one another’s dating lives.

There was, however, a lot of love between us, a quiet, accepting love. It wasn’t the mad, passionate, can’t keep our hands off each other kind of thing. We didn’t even see each other that often or text too much, and we definitely never said the big L word. But there was huge, genuine appreciation and gratitude for one another that was very apparent and often referenced. We were there for each other unconditionally, even if weeks went by without talking. What we had was really special in a very unassuming way. To the outsider it could appear like we didn’t really have much of anything going on. Does someone really like you or really care if they’re not in touch with you all the time or don’t want to see you all the time?! In our society where everyone is so easily accessible it’s easy to think that the answer to that is no. For me, the answer is yes. The response will differ from person to person, naturally.

In being given the freedom in that dating experience to be completely myself, I got to see exactly what my pace is and how I naturally behave when I feel accepted and free. I can see that my pace is slow and that I enjoy having a lot of space. I enjoy having conversations in person and texting really only to arrange to meet or check in every now and again… or to share cat or dog spots. I liked being given the chance to make the first move and also realised that I can take a fair bit of time to do that. But I could only learn that through someone being patient enough to give me the chance. And it made me think recently, men often complain that women never make the first move but perhaps our pace is just slower and were not actually given the chance. I realised that I enjoyed not having pressure on me to label anything or reassure anyone or just pressure in general to be anything other than what I am. I really enjoy going with the flow and I’m not sure that that’s for everyone.

It feels to me that for this dating experience to be considered a success we would have had to run off I to the sunset together but, (I may have spoiled this by using past tense the whole way through…) that’s not what happened. Alas, I was not his tinderella, my ego took a healthy bruising and my heart suffered some minor fractures. However I consider this to be maybe my most successful dating experience to date and it makes me excited for what may come. I have come out of this with a beautiful friendship and a deeper knowing of myself, which appears to be the aim of the game for me. I will be forever grateful for the growth I experienced with this man and I wish him nothing but love and happiness. And I feel the same from him. It has been a joy to share this part of my journey with him.

So, I guess the lessons are; a little bit of heartbreak is good for the soul and; Love Island is trash TV but apparently I can turn everything into something more meaningful to justify watching trash TV. But in all seriousness, my take away would be that the importance of being honest and authentic is becoming more and more apparent, people connect to it. The contestants in Love Island that appear most popular are those that the viewers judge to be “Being themselves”. And the most successful connections I’ve made over the last year have been when I have dropped all masks and insecurities and allowed my authentic self shine. I look forward to letting it shine a little brighter in my next adventure into the dating world.

The Inbetween

I haven’t written a post in a long time. Everything changes so fast that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. It feels like I’ve been lost in the inbetween. Someone commented on one of my blog posts a Rumi quote, “Be patient while you sit in the darkness, the dawn is coming”. So that’s what I’ve done for the last few months, I’ve sat in the darkness, in the inbetween, not really knowing if I’m coming or going, trying to embrace the experience despite the fear.

In our society, our culture, we’re told to pursue certain things to achieve happiness, fulfilment, to be considered successful. To be considered to be of value we should strive for a good education, a good job, a family, a home, nice cars, holidays, to own nice things, to accumulate wealth and power, to be admired by those around us. I’m aware that everything I write is only a reflection of my own experiences and conditioning but I often see it reflected in what those around me appear to be striving for too.

I did all this, I struggled to achieve all these things despite it never really feeling right to me. Despite never feeling that much alluded to fulfilment. Always thinking that there must be something wrong with me if I don’t feel fulfilled by these things the way others seem to. I must not be doing it right, I must not be good enough.

It feels to me that over the last year, everything I built my identity on, all the things I thought about myself, have slowly been peeled away. I’m not any of the things I think other people think I am. I’m not any of the things I thought I was either. I’m not any of the decisions I made in the past, nor any of the stories I’ve told myself about myself. I’m not any of the labels I’ve given to myself or have been given by others. I can let them all go.

That is the gift of sitting in the darkness, the inbetween. You’re nothing here, and being nothing gives you the freedom to be anything. Letting go of what you thought you were gives you the freedom to look inside and see what’s really there, or to choose consciously what you want to be there. I’m in the inbetween and it’s so desperately uncomfortable and liberating.

The first three months of this year have been wild ride on the swinging pendulum. From highs, to lows, to The Inbetween. I joined an Ayahuasca healing circle, went on a solo trip to Barcelona, I joined a beautiful women’s circle and relived my first period, I lost myself in the working world, found myself again on a yoga and Tantra retreat in Tenerife, I met my African family for the first time, just in time to say my goodbyes to my Grandfather Timbo. I learned that I’ve never felt fully accepted as Irish with my brown skin and despite being welcomed with open arms into my African family, natually I dont feel fully African. I’m somewhere inbetween it would seem. I retreated somewhat from friends and family and allowed myself to be where I was, good or bad, high or low, or lost in the inbetween.

I’m grateful for everything this year has presented me with so far, I’m grateful for the scary, eye opening experiences that have allowed me to test the boundaries of who I am, or who I thought I was. I’m grateful for the wonderful experiences that have given me a chance to see what I really want out of life, without the interference of my conditioning or what I think others expect from me. And I am eternally grateful to myself, for not running from the experiences, for allowing myself to feel everything and for finally realising I’m good enough just as I am, flaws and all.

The Escape

There are no bars to this cage,

Nowhere to go and everywhere to go.

It spans 100 million miles

In every direction.

There is no escape to be found

In a single lifetime.

There is no way out,

So I sit.

I will escape within,

Where time doesn’t exist and

Words have no meaning.

I will find solace in the silence,

Shelter in my solitude.

Comfortable in the familiarity of my unease.

I’m only trapped for as long as I’m trying to escape.

I will sit in the darkness,

And wait patiently for the light.

The escape will come to me.

Death, is coming!

That’s an IT crowd reference. I mean, death is coming, but I’ve no idea when. Death has been a topic of conversation in my house this week, Zoe wants answers. Well, she thinks she wants answers but when we actually start discussing it she says, “Spoiler alert! Dont spoil it on me mam!”. As if I have the ability to spoil it on her!

We were walking home from school the other day and Zoe said, “Mam, I just have to know, what happens when we die, why can’t we know?!”. She said it with a mixture of excitement and frustration, also it came out of nowhere and felt like it’s something she has been thinking about for awhile now. I knew this would be a funny conversation. I explained that lots of different people have different beliefs about death and different religions say different things, but really, no one can possibly know. The people that die can’t come back to tell us and the different theories are really just ideas or guesses. It’s just part of the mystery of life.

Then I remembered a couple of months ago I ended up reading a good few books on Near Death Experiences. They were recommended to me or just given to me, I hadn’t been having my own moment of needing to know. So I started to tell Zoe that actually there are people that claim to have died and come back to life if she wanted to know what they had to say about the experience. This is when she shouted Spoiler Alert! She said she couldn’t wait to know but also she didn’t want to die too soon and wasn’t sure if she wanted to spoil the surprise. Haha, I love this girl.

In the end she wanted to hear about the NDE’s. I didn’t want to go into too much detail and I didn’t want her spending too much time worrying or dwelling on this stuff, but my god, these are difficult questions to answer. It’s so hard to know what she will pick up from the conversation or how it will affect her thinking. So I told her that these people said that when they died they felt an overwhelming joy and peace, like they were surrounded by love and understanding. Some of them met family that had already died and Some of them felt that they could decide if they wanted to stay there or return to their bodies. I explained again that it’s impossible to know for sure but there is some comfort in these stories if she is worried about Death.

She had a million questions of course. How did they die, how did they come back to life, how could they return to their bodies if their bodies were dead, why would they come back if it was so nice where they were. She got a lot of “I don’t know’s” in return and we eventually moved onto a new topic. I thought that was the end of it until my Mam rang me a few days later saying Zoe was saying the strangest things about dying. She told my mam that when you die you meet all your family and you get to decide if you want to go back to your body, well unless your body was destroyed in a car crash…. Oh man, this parenting stuff is hard work.

I remember myself as a kid spending a lot of time thinking about death. I had my own theories about what happened when you died and I was really fascinated by the whole thing. In a curious way more than a morbid way. Well, as a teenager with server depression it probably got a little morbid then. I was never scared by the idea of dying, I actively looked forward to it, a bit too much as a teenager I’m sure. I always thought it was funny that one of the only things you can be guaranteed out of life was something that no one wanted to talk about or was always hushed up like a dirty secret.

When I was younger I also loved graveyards, I found them so peaceful and curious. I would go every week to visit my brothers grave once I started driving, and I would just sit there for ages. Granted I was 17/18 and still in the throes of depression, but it was the one place where I felt somewhat at ease. I enjoyed the silence. Everyone is very quiet and respectful in a graveyard. You can feel some silent connection to anyone you meet in a graveyard, unified by your human experience of grief and loss. You can cry openly in a graveyard and be met with compassion. There is a reverence or contemplation for life that you don’t always find in the real world. And also a feeling of love. No one goes to visit the grave of someone they hate.

I have brought Zoe to the graveyard a few times over the last few months and it is so funny, it’s like getting a glimpse of myself as a kid. She loves it there, we walk around all the graves and she makes me read out the names on the head stones and she says hi to them. She picks out her favourite graves and likes to sit at different ones and wonder what happened to the person that passed away. She would stay there for a long time if I let her.

It’s hard to know as a parent what to share with your child, or what to teach them about these abstract, sometimes scary ideas. It’s hard to not impose your own way of thinking or to even realise that that’s what you are doing. They are like little sponges picking up all of our unconscious behaviours and ways of thinking. And perhaps giving us a little glimpse back at ourselves. It was lovely to see her curiosity and fearlessness around such a heavy topic. She reminds me that Death should be discussed openly and for what it is, an inevitable part of life and a mystery we will all get the answer to one day.

The Pendulum Swings

23/11/18

My mind is like a pendulum at the moment. I’m too-ing and fro-ing about everything. I swing between pure calm, contentedness to choatic, noisey wobbliness. This is OK. If past experience is anything to go by this just means I’m in some sort of transition phase, maybe reaching a new milestone. My last post gives a clear insight to my wobbliness and how it can knock me off center. Since that post I have continued to feel uncertain about a lot of things in my life but have managed to stay centered and present despite the somewhat chaotic nature of life at the moment.

It’s easier now to spot when I’m going through something because in being present I can see straight away when I’m trying to escape my situation. I spend too much time on social media, watch too much telly, even read too many books, when I know I have more important things to be doing. I even sleep too much and eat too much when I’m trying to avoid something, which at the moment is college.

Why am I avoiding college? Because I’m not enjoying it. It’s as simple as that. Very few of my classes interest me this year. I think that people would argue that college isn’t to be enjoyed, it’s to educate yourself so you can get a good job. On the surface level I can agree with this but then my pendulum thinking kicks in. I feel that life is to be enjoyed and anything you do in life should come from a sense of excitement and enjoyment, not painful obligation. That’s how to live a fulfilling life in my opinion. It was that feeling of excitement that brought me to college in the first place.

I love Maths and anything math related really. I love watching the maths and physics documentaries on Netflix, or the docs on famous mathematicians. I read books on the physics of time, neuroscience and even quantum mechanics. Not that I really understand most of what I read, but that’s what I enjoy. Studying maths in college however is killing that enjoyment, I have to go at the lecturers pace and study what I’m told, not what I want. It was the same with Spanish, I love speaking Spanish and learning it, but at my own pace and in my own way.

I think a lot of this probably reads like a petulant child whining about not being able to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. Well, that’s exactly what this is. Life is short so I want to do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it. Within reason, of course. I want to learn about the things I enjoy, at a pace that suits me. I don’t have a dream job that I’m working towards, unless you count professional napper as an occupation. I have worked so many different jobs in so many different industries and they all turn out to be the same thing, just a way to make money and pay the bills. In fact, the most satisfying job I’ve had to date was working as a delivery driver for a restaurant! Every day was carpool karaoke day, I was left to my own devices, I could pick my own hours. Beautiful.

Before leaving Barcelona I considered dropping out of college, I knew it wasn’t really where my interests lay anymore. I decided to continue for a few reasons. It’s just one more year, I do enjoy maths, my mam said I had to, I never really finish anything so it would be nice to finish something for once, I like the look of those cap and gown things they wear on graduation day, my CV would look a little less chaotic. I also wanted to set a good example for Zoe and maybe get a job that earned good money but when I consider my own principles and values, they don’t seem to lie in education or money, they lie in being true to myself and feeling fulfilled.

So 2 weeks ago I wasn’t feeling good enough despite working really hard and putting all this pressure on myself to do really well and blah blah blah. Well the pendulum has swung and this week I feel completely satisfied within myself despite guessing every answer on a multiple choice midterm, not handing up a whole assignment and having literally no idea how to do yet another stats assignment. Life feels good and light and easy. I think what it has come down to in the end is the little bit of Zoe Wisdom of knowing myself and knowing what I can do. I know myself well enough to know that I can do this degree but I also know myself well enough to know that I don’t really want to.

I have a very strong desire to learn, I have subjects that I’m passionate about and naturally gravitate towards without any motivation other than enjoyment. My primary schooling nurtured this, it encouraged us to celebrate our individuality. Secondary school hammered this out of me, it taught me to fit in and do as I was told. College has taught me that it’s a choice. I’m an adult now and I can choose to nurture my natural love of learning or I can choose to do what I think I’m supposed to do. For now, I guess, I’ll let the pendulum swing and see what happens.