I find it easy to review and think, “well, nothing went to plan at all…what the frangipani actually happened?”
Keep breathing. Keep planning. Keep having stuff in the way of the plan.
When was the last time you were in a library or a book store? How do you feel when you are in them? What draws you there?
I was in both today. Did you know I’m writing a book? Yep. It’s out there…again. I have been trying very hard to get what is in me into a book thing. I’ve tried like a gazillion times.
This week, I found my flow. I found my way. And I found he way forward..I think 😉
Today around the books I felt inspired instead of intimidated. Instead of comparing myself to the authors, looking for their letters after their names and all the stuff that makes them ‘good enough’ to write a book… it struck me.
If you stand eye to eye with those books, you stand eye to eye with their authors. We stand eye to eye with the humans who sat or stood in front of their writing machines, to put all of those perspectives, ideas, experiences on those pages.
All of us, ALL of us is an accumulation of our experiences. Experiences that no one else can or will have in the same way you or I will. And in the moment, all of those experiences accumulate to make us who we are. And from this place I write, they unfold.
The experiences come into our realm and through us they transform. We transform. We evolve. We create.
Don’t you find that so profound?
All of those people, just trying to find their own unique way in the world?
They are no different to you or me.
If we were to stand in front of their authors and looks t them in the eyes, and remove all the eternal comparisons and all the stories that came before each of us, who is left standing looking at each other? If we remove the judgements of skin colour and gender and height and weight….who stands before you?
Who stands before us is us.
Organisms that have been created to love out a unique experience. A unique experience. And the power in that experience is the curiosity of both our own experience and the experience of others.
Here’s a challenge for the weekend if you are up to it.
At some point over the weekend, go out and walk a street filled with people and look at those people without judgement and see how hard it is.
See how fast your brain wants to judge people.
You might look at folks and judge them because they are walking while looking on their phone. Notice what happens when you judge. Notice in your body.
You might judge someone as to how they have put their outfit together. Ask yourself, “am I looking at the person, or at their external stuff”?
You might judge someone because they choose to drink alcohol or smoke. Again, what does it feel like? And do you feel more curious about them, or more separated from them?
The external judgement is what keeps you and I separated from them and for each other.
When was the last time you were at the beach? I was there today. And it struck me again.
What if we are each our own wave. Each forming out of a collective ocean, each expressing itself in it’s own unique way? You and me waves. Constantly in flux. Forming out of the same ocean. Not competing with each other, but just rising and falling.
If you are feeling like you aren’t special or there is nothing important about you or your experience, your mind is keeping you small. Isolated. Separated.
If for a moment, if just for a tiny second you consider that you are here purposefully, to have your own unique life experience and share that with others, you create a crack in the shell that keeps you hidden. And safe.
Once there is a crack, you can gently keep emerging. Peeking out.
Can I remind you on this Friday, if you are being hard on yourself for mistakes you have made, or choices you made or didn’t make, nothing in your experience is wasted.
Please don’t live you life in spite of what you have been through, live your life fully BECAUSE of what you have been through.
You are important. Your life is important. And so is theirs. So is ours. All of us. Once we drop the judgement…can you see it? Can you see it out of your shell?
Today, lets invite some curious energy in and drop the judgement about ourselves and others for a while.
I wonder, what must it be like for you in your world.
I would so love to hear.
You know where I am fellow human. I am walking along beside you, in silence honouring your journey.
I write for me…now.
I write here for me…now.
Sometimes folks think I am in their head and wrote stuff just for them.
Sometimes folks love what I write and they send me the most amazing emails and notes. Of which I just love and appreciate. That they would take a moment to first read what I have written and then go so far as to send me a message.
Sometimes folks feel unloved or left out because of what I write here. Sometimes folks wish that they knew the stuff I write about, before I write about it.
Sometimes folks I am sure get super annoyed with what I have written.
Sometimes folks judge me for what I write.
It is a weird thing to not be able to control how your words fall on someone. Or where they fall within in them.
For a very long time, I stopped writing. For me or for anyone.
In my younger years, I kept a journal. Many journals. I wrote my heart into the pages of multiple books.
That’s the thing with journals. You write for you, about you, and with you. And in the writing, there is a visibility of what it is that is happening. More often than not, the page reveals a truth that the mind can’t let you see. It is like the heart has a direct line to the pen.
At 16, my boyfriend at the time, told me he had read my journals because he was “curious”.
At that young age I couldn’t have articulated what it really felt like. But after the same thing happened at 25, I am pretty clear now.
Those of you who have read anything about me, or know me at all, you know that my upbringing, while filled with love from my mother, was a little unsettling.
I sought solace therapeutically in music and in writing and dysfunctionally in an eating disorder and promiscuity.
I wrote all about it all. Especially the dysfunction.
After my second round of intrusion in to my inner world at 25, I stopped writing. Full stop. Quit. Stopped.
I had carried my journals with me, all 18 of them, when I went travelling across Australia at 24. I packed up all my belongings into my little Hyundai Excel and off I went. Gold Coast to Perth. It didn’t seem like a big deal given my few trips from Gold Coast to Townsville. Perth just seemed like the next destination when I returned home from overseas.
Packed tightly in with all my clothes, books and guitar (which I still can’t play), my heart spills travelled along.
On that trip, I met a boy who later became my boy friend and later my fiancé.
He packed his stuff up too and off we went travelling together.
Along came my writings.
Melbourne we settled.
Somewhere to live.
We planned our wedding.
And so you would think it would seem okay for that person to read my heart filled journals. All the words I had used from a wee young age all the way through to an adult.
All the pain of dysfunction. The first loves. The ‘not so great’ decisions. And those not so great decisions it seems he didn’t have a very good time with.
He never told me he read them. Well not until…
What does your intuition feel like to you? Where do you feel that ‘hmmmm’ feeling?
I’ve always felt my intuition sits in the spaces between. Space between what is being said. In the spaces. When there are no words. Or after the words are spoken and a full body conversation begins. A sweet hum. “Hmmmm”. A sense in my body. Sometimes it feels like a push in my gut. Other times it is fluttering in my chest.
I remember the day I returned home from work after his sick day.
And the gut push hit. In the silence.
And on we went.
A week passed.
Something was so different.
Weekends we usually went out together. That following weekend, he went out. With the guys from work.
I talked myself out of the feeling though. “It’s good he’s made friends here”.
He didn’t come home that night.
I didn’t sleep that night.
It’s funny. As I write this in real time with the music playing, this song plays. Where were you when this was all going on when I was 25? Oh, not born probably!
So, he didn’t come home. I didn’t sleep.
This weird behaviour went on for a while.
The ‘hmmmm’ continued.
And when the truth comes, it hurts sometimes. A lot sometimes. I’ve come to live this intimately.
I think this is why we don’t actually want to trust the ‘hmmmm’ because we know it is going to hurt if it is true. A lot. And we wish it away, praying and hoping it isn’t true. Denial is a deceptively safe place to hide…initially. A hot place to hide long term.
He took exception to some of my past ‘not so great’ decisions. Decisions I made as a very young and often troubled person, and at a time when he wasn’t a part of my life. Those words seemingly didn’t seem to matter.
It didn’t end then, but it was destined to.
I ripped up those books. 20 journals. Each and every page ripped up. I sat on the bed and cried years of heart pain. Years of truths. And tears of self judgement and self loathing. I was a bad person. I had evidence of it in these books. So they had to be destroyed.
And after they were destroyed, we would be fine…right?
And that is where the writing stopped.
That thing that had carried me through all those years, not a moment of therapy except for that which I sought in the pages of a journal.
My power left. I felt like I gave it to him.
It took over 10 years to start writing again.
4 years ago I started to write again because truly, I just couldn’t NOT anymore.
I felt like I needed to write for others. To help others.
So, instead of journaling I stared a blog on Facebook called Expanding the Heart Space. If you google it I don’t think you can find it…hang on…So, I am wrong. Turns out there is still a blog, not on Facebook, but an actual blog. Funny the things I forget.
Initially it was a scary as hell but I thought I was helping folks, so it was worth it.
A year or so later, I realised I was writing for me.
After I had written something, so often I couldn’t even remember what I had written. Like something had taken over me.
So I would read it again.
And more often than not, what I had written was exactly what I needed to read. In one way or another.
I was scared to admit the truth though. I was really writing for me.
Scared of judgment. Of oversharing. Of offending. Of pissing people off. Of getting it wrong.
It’s literally like having all that heart held in your hands and asking the world to stab it if they want.
I do love it SO.
And still, ultimately I write for me.
If I inspire you to take a risk, or open up, or share, or feel brave enough to do something you didn’t think you could…oh how my heart sings!
And I write for me.
Even if you were in the room with me now, I would be writing this and not necessarily talking to you about the content. I can’t. The stuff that I write comes though me in a a way that I find difficult to articulate. All I know, is there is a level of trust I have that I have of myself now, that I didn’t before.
If my writing triggers folks, which I am sure it does, I trust that that is their business. Not mine. I wouldn’t disrespect anyone enough to not be honest.
And still, ultimately I write for me.
This is my love. My time. My space. My right. And my power.
I feel free when I write.
I feel light when I write.
I feel connected when I write.
I feel creative when I write.
I feel inspired when I write.
I learn more about myself when I write.
And if folks get offended, or triggered, or pissed, or annoyed or whatever they might get….
I write for me.
And if you are lucky enough for me to write about you, and you don’t like it….
I subscribe to the Anne Lammot position, if people don’t like what you write about them, then maybe they should have been kinder. 🙂
And in no surprise, this is the song is playing as I type this.
I write for me.
Writing in a group interests me. So in July if you want to come and be with like hearted souls and get some juices flowing, we’d love you to come along. On the Gold Coast. If you want to be added to the list of folks who are already coming along, email me here for more information.
The gift of being a bit older, being in my forties is that I have lived long enough to experienced some amazingly light and brilliant experiences and also, so mucky and dark adventures as well.
Today marks the 6 weeks point that I had spinal surgery. When I write that I wonder if by calling it that it sounds a lot worse than maybe it was. In a couple of hours I’ll return to see the surgeon who carefully released the pressure that was on my sciatic nerve. Milestone.
Not long before I had the surgery, like days before, after months and months of being in excruciating pain we had a few folks around for one of the kidletts birthdays.
A group gathered as they usually do at the tall table outside, sharing stories and chattering away.
That day, I had to double my dose of pain killers, just to get through that day.
I wonder if they would have known how much pain I was in. I carried on as best I could.
As I stood in pain at the end of the table, I quietly admitted how scared I was to have surgery. Spinal surgery. An operation that I had decided on the day of seeing the surgeon (and my MRI results). An operation that would be happening in the next few days.
And call it sooky la la or weakness…I call it afraid.
Do you ever get afraid (I hope so, it’s human)? If you do what are you afraid of?
Being so successful that you wont have anyone of your old tribe to support you. That you’ll be isolated?
Talking in front of a large group of people?
Being lost out at sea?
Sharks? [me too… Although, ask me sometime about my grade 8 talk of ‘How I would overcome a shark if I was confronted by one’].
Everyone has something that rattles their cage a little. Some, a lot.
For me, having spinal surgery was it.
And I didn’t even know it was, until I was faced with it.
I had to pull out all the big guns. All the things that I knew could support me through this. Mediations, Breath work. Writing. Support from my key tribe folk.
And I was doing pretty good.
As I stood at the end of that table, sharing my fear quietly to one of the other party-goers, someone overheard me from the other end of the table and without skipping a beat, barrels down the table;
“Oh suck it up. At least you’re not……” and gave me a good example of why I shouldn’t be feeling the way I was feeling. Making another situation (that was legitimately scary) a ‘real’ reason to feel afraid.
You know how yesterday I wrote about that shame feeling thing I got after watching that dude talk for 12 minutes…well, that is exactly what happened to me in that moment.
What they said triggered off a thought process in me that made me believe I wasn’t worthy to feel the way I was feeling. And that I was bad for feeling that way.
Comparative shaming it’s called. I learnt that term from my old mate Dr Brene Brown (also mentioned in yesterday’s blog ) .
This is when we compare something we have or haven’t done with something someone else and devaluing our own experience. And example might be that you are in a room full of people and you don’t want to share about your recent marriage problems because you know that someone else in the room is battling cancer. And the person who is battling cancer doesn’t want to share their experience because they know that someone else in the room just lost a child. And the person who just lost a child doesn’t want to share their story because they know someone is the room was born blind.
And on and on it goes. Round and around. All afraid to own our story because we believe it isn’t worthy or ‘bad enough’.
As someone who spent half of her life trying to “Suck it up”, “don’t let anyone see you are vulnerable” what I know about doing this stupid, culturally ‘appropriate’ thing is it contributes to the disconnection to the one thing that humans crave most.
The one thing that humans seek as a part of not only their DNA, but as a universal design feature….
Love and belonging.
Sucking it up is a response when folks can’t deal with someone’s vulnerability, because they can’t deal with their own.
Compassion is in direct opposition to ‘suck it up’.
Pema Chodron says it in a way that resonates with me deeply and governs all the work I do on this planet.
Just contemplate that for a second.
Knowing your darkness.
What are darkness bits? What are those aspects of yourself that you don’t want anyone else to see. Those stories. Those fears. Those truths? The parts of you that remain locked away in some cupboard, boarded up so that no one can see them.
Sit in the darkness with others.
What are you like with other people’s pain and discomfort.
Are you able to sit with them, be with them. Hold the space with them. Without wanting to ‘lighten’ things up, or ‘love and light’ it away?
I’m still learning to be with my own pain and the pain of others. I absolutely get it wrong. I totally want to bounce out of suffering, mine and yours, at times.
That day, at the table, I had little compassion for myself. I bought in to the shame speak. I wanted to leap out of the shame pain and not feel what I felt. On reflection, it would have been the best time to step away and do the old Jill Bolte Taylor “one-minute-and-thirty-seconds deal” (also in yesterday’s blog).
It took me more than 90 seconds to remove that splinter and to feel the shame and the pain of what was said to me. I am still removing fragments of a multi-generational culture that a lot of us still marinate in. The “suck it up” isn’t working folks. Well, it sure as shit isn’t for me.
And before you worry about this being a blame game on the dude who gave me the ‘suck it up’ direction…if you read yesterday’s blog, or have read anything of mine or know me at all, you know this isn’t about blaming anyone. This is about using everything that triggers us as an opportunist to grow and expand and to let go of all the stuff that isn’t kind.
I’m just over 6 weeks wiser now.
I made it through the surgery. I allowed myself to feel the discomfort of my fear. I told those who were supporting me, I was afraid. And those people supported me, accepted me and were able to be with my darkness….without so much as a straw in sight 😉
Today, or tomorrow, or whenever you feel it (because you will) if you are really afraid or experiencing a mucky patch…or if you are hurting or feel isolated, let this be the opportunity for you to know that you are not alone in this life thing. If you are being told to ‘suck it up’ and ‘get over it’, let me be here to remind you that that is old bullshit conditioning that came from folks who were too afraid to feel the truth….say, “thanks but no thanks”.
Here I sit in the dark. Waiting with my candle. Providing space for us to get to know our darkness a little more.
With all my love.
Have you ever read anything of mine and wanted to punch the screen? Or throw something at it/me. Or you found yourself mumbling and muttering away with a screwed up face and tense body. You may have slammed the laptop shut, or minimised the icon vowing never to read anything of mine again?
Just before I started writing this (yes, a few sentences ago) I felt like I wanted to rant on about something I read yesterday that gave me the exact reaction as above.
I wanted to go into the justification of why I felt allowed to rant.
My mutterings went a little like this yesterday after watching a 12 or so minute clip by a dude who helps folks transform into best versions of themselves. Now I am actually wondering what he calls himself. Oh ADD mind. Hush for a moment.
So yesterday watching this thing the mutterings began.
“Oh come on. Is that true dude? You are saying that it is because I didn’t have a detailed plan that all this stuff went to shit? Well clearly you don’t have children. I mean fuck, don’t you know that stuff happens out of our control?”
And I have to admit, reliving yesterday’s couple of minute rant while writing this, it gave me a charge again. Similar sensations. Maybe not as strong, but I felt them. As I typed them just now, I was ready to climb right back on that high horse and take what he said and make him wrong and make myself right. Present evidence why what he said is bullshit. I wonder if the charge changes by the end of this blog.
I was ready to go find the piece that I had watched so that you could all jump in and crowd around the screen and then say things like, “Yeah, you’re right Jen. He don’t know crap”. I was ready to rally the troops so that I could get a group to affirm my position.
“Ha. Take that you speaker person you. See I am right”.
In real time with no editing writing this, I am already seeing how powerfully protective that part of me is, wanting to protect my position, to maintain my ‘rightness’, to not be open to the fact there might be some truth in what he said. Guards up.
I was triggered. Something touched. Like a tiny little annoying splinter that hasn’t been removed and keeps getting bumped.
The definition of human is someone who triggers off something in another for their growth.
I’d even go so far as to change the ‘human‘ part in that definition to ‘saint‘.
Is it pleasant? Do you want it to continue?
Or do you want to pull back from it. Shout at it. Punch it. Throw something at it.
Or maybe ignore it.
For me, yesterday, it felt like a rumbling in my tummy (might have been lunch time, so maybe I was hungry 😉 ). It was heat in my arms. It was tightness in my neck. I felt flushed. I wanted to rant. I closed the computer and walked away.
I used to know this feeling as anger and pissed off-ness. But as I reflect on it now, it felt more like shame.
His words, something about what he said triggered a shame response for me.
According to my old mate Shame and vulnerability researcher genius, Dr Brene Brown, “Shame is the belief that you are bad”. This verses guilt which is, “I did something bad”. See the difference there?
Something he said, allowed me to feel like I was bad in some way. Wrong in part. Despite the the fact he wasn’t even talking to me directly. It was a clip. Talking to a whole bunch of people.
Now you are probably wanting to watch what he said so that you can assess for yourself. Or is that just something I would want to do?
You know, so you can get crowd support and validation as to why you were treated so poorly. Unjustly. Rally the troops to hit this mug up. Us against them. Lets do this. (Hello the beginning of all wars).
So you know when you have an encounter, it might be only a 30 second one of a 12 minute one (like the clip I watched yesterday) or it might be a whole day gig and something is said and you go small? You inhale and don’t want to engage anymore?
But it leaves an imprint.
You can retell the moment time and time again to anyone who will listen. “And he said this and I thought this and now I feel like this”. Not the whole encounter, but the part that triggered you. The rest was probably pretty insightful. But don’t focus on that.
And we relive it over and over and over well and truly after the event occurred.
That is what I noticed what happened to me. And so anything he said after that brush with my splinter, I wasn’t interested. I just wanted to stop the splinter from hurting me. And I blamed him for the discomfort. And I kept revisiting it through the day. And funny, now I am writing about it today.
(only splinter pic I could find 😉 )
Oh and by the way, this happens to me quite a bit. With lots of things. I still have lots of splinters.
The RE-living of an event that no longer exists. I can do that a bit.
I don’t know if you have heard of Jill Bolte Taylor, the brilliant neuroscientist who became a world wide phenomenon after she both wrote and spoke about her actual experience of having a stroke. Her TED talk has nearly 5 million views. If you haven’t, ya’ll…get-yourself-aquainted. Watch her captivating TED talk here.
Among many of the gazillion wise insights that Jill shares with us (pay attention to the part about being responsible for your own energy), one of my favourite is her ‘one-and-a-half-minute-thing’. This thing Jill describes as the psychological mechanism behind emotion. All autonomic emotions like anger last 90 seconds, from the moment its triggered until it runs it’s course.
One and a half minutes.
If it lasts longer it is because we are adding some kindling to the fire that is burning.
We keep clinging to the story line of how we were wronged and who is wrong and why we are right and blah blah blah.
Hours and hours and days and days and on and on.
One and a half minutes.
Gossiping. Bad mouthing. Negative talk about the world. Emotional eating. Netflix. Cleaning. Not cleaning. Shopping. Facebook. Isolation. Wine. Vodka. Recipe hunting with no intent to cook anything. Looking for a course you could do. Or another retreat. Or anything…anything outside of ourselves that means we don’t have to deal with this discomfort, right here, right now.
Again…maybe that is just me.
Somewhere along the way, we got hurt you and me. Lots of times maybe. And maybe at the time, we just didn’t have the capacity or awareness to let the pain move through. and maybe, that is exactly what was okay for us. Then.
Maybe we never got still enough for a full on experience of exactly what we felt for a whole 90 seconds (because who showed us that?..insert some parenting guilt right about now). Instead we shut down or defended or blamed or drank or ate or ran.
“Fix this discomfort”!!!!! we scream looking for an out.
And my peeps, there aint no bad thing with all that ‘survival’ stuff. That be human stuff ya’ll. But maybe, just maybe, there is another way to manage some of this ‘stuff’.
The bottom line is that when I watched that thing yesterday, I felt something! I FELT a feeling. FEELINGS. Emotion. Energy in motion.
Mostly in the past, I forgot the motion part. Energy yes. No motion. Lock it down. Keep it in. Inhale it. And make yourself sick or spew it out inappropriately when you get triggered next time.
Well, what does one do in that whole 90 seconds?
I am glad you asked.
Jill gives an example of when she gets triggered, she first notices…then, sets her timer on her watch (I’ll use a phone timer…and try not to see messages or FB alerts) for 90 seconds. Closes her eyes (not if driving) and feels the full extent of the feeling. Where she feels it. What it feels like. The intensity. The duration.
A full 90 seconds of being a curious scientist observing and experiment take place.
No judgement. No story. Just a full out feeling.
So, I’m just going to take a moment to set the timer and go back to that moment and let the emotion move and see what happens. If you have come this far, hang on for a sec…I’ll be back…
Insert this waiting song the dude yesterday could have handed me: Human
It’s 3.17 minutes (minus ad verts), so take your time. I’ll wait 🙂
How fast did that go?
So the results. Well, honestly there was little to no charge there. The time has passed. I wrote about it at the beginning of the blog.
Now, here I am at the end of this blog. And that thing yesterday that that person said. I can’t actually access what he said that made me so pissed.
Here is my 2 cents (do you still have one of those copper 2 cent pieces I wonder…oh ADD mind shush) on what I feel like I learnt here, as I wrote this (because all the writing I do is really to help me unfold more).
That is two cents. Hope you found it valuable.
So, my challenge and I offer it up for you too, can we acknowledge the emotional tug of discomfort when it arises and to stay with it for one-minute-and-a-half. Just be with it. Without a story line…..
Can we, together, do this once a day or throughout the day as the feelings arise and fall?
This is a real challenge folks.
This is the process of unmasking. Of letting go. Opening the mind and the heart.
Oh and if you answered yes the the questions posed in the first paragraph, then hello! Let me introduce myself. Saint Jen. *wink wink wink*