Category Archives: Spirituality

The Woodland Den

Have you heard of the Woodland Den? No? Let me tell you about it then, for it is my greatest wish that as many people as possible may know of and benefit from this magical place… I first stumbled upon the den as a young girl, and since then have visited almost every day. It is my home, my sanctuary and my friend. I love this place dearly, but it is now time that I shared it with others.

The path that leads to the den is narrow and winding, and trees line the way up the hill and away from the village. This woodland is the most beautiful I have ever seen, with many different varieties of trees and other plant life. No matter the weather, the woods always feel peaceful and safe. In the autumn and winter months, the smell of wood smoke penetrates the landscape, reminding me of warm cosy evenings in front of the fire, perhaps with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a gingerbread man. In truth, I have never lived in a house with an open fire, but this is a place of imagination and dreams, and anything is possible. When you are almost at the den, the path becomes very steep indeed, and suddenly you find that you are at the top of a hill, looking into a clearing in the trees and foliage. The clearing is round, and the entrance is marked by a large boulder which bears the words ‘Woodland Den’. This is it – you have arrived! And what a treat you are in store for…

As you enter the den, you notice that the atmosphere becomes still and serene, no matter how bad the weather rages outside, or down below in the village. Dried leaves line the floor like a crunchy, autumnal carpet, and fairly lights hang from the trees at the edges of the clearing. An outdoor wood burning stove is already lit, so if you arrive at the den feeling a little cold, please go ahead and warm yourself in front of the fire.

After some time, you will most likely begin to notice that there are many animals on the perimeter of the den, looking in on you with curiosity. Rather than feeling that you have intruded on their space, you feel a deep sense of belonging, and you know instinctively that you are very welcome here. This place belongs to you, and you to it. You are one and the same, and the feeling of safety you experience in this magical place is like nothing you’ve experienced before.

I can see you standing there, my friend, smiling, breathing in the crisp, woody air, and noticing the sounds of the woodland all around you. My first visit to this place was such a wonderful surprise: I will never forget the sensation of being completely held, and completely safe. In this place, I need be nothing more than I already am, and there is nothing at all to do other than what feels most joyful and comforting. This place exists inside of me, but it is as real as you and I. I can visit it at any time, and experience a calm serenity that day-to-day life often leads me to forget.

Now that I have introduced you to the Woodland Den, I would like to encourage you to visit as often as you like, and experience its ambience like a loving embrace. Although, I have to say that seeing you standing there in the den has made me wonder… What if it doesn’t quite suit your needs? Perhaps I have omitted something that you would find reassuring or entertaining in some way? I’m afraid there is no television, and now I’m beginning to wonder if this might be something you would enjoy. Do you enjoy to curl up in front of a good film with a hot drink and a close friend? If you’re going to bring guests, I suppose I really ought to furnish the place accordingly, with a sofa and some blankets. Oh dear, I appear not to have thought this through at all. Unless… unless you would like to make some alterations? Believe me when I say that the sky is the limit. All you need do is imagine what you desire, and poof! It will appear in front of you – or behind you, depending on your preferred layout. Feel free to sweep away the leaves and add a plush carpet for added warmth and luxuriousness, but be warned that the creatures that live in the woods may come to join you if you make it very cosy and comfortable. The foxes and badgers in particular have been known to visit me when I’ve snuggled up under a large blanket.

So my friend, I think I have told you all I need to about the Woodland Den. I hope that with time, it reminds you of something you already know: we are all worthy of joy and love, and there is always a place inside of us where we can experience safety and serenity.

 

 

Image courtesy of Richard Walker via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Forgiveness is the path to freedom

When we love our past, we free ourselves from it. Believe me, I have had moments of sublime gratitude when thinking about my past and everything I’ve gained from simply walking the path that I’ve walked. Even at times when I’ve seen how much I still have to learn and grow, I’ve seen beyond the mundane world view of meaningless pain and suffering, to a world where everything I’ve experienced is some sort of mystical, magical unfolding of my destiny. Just the other day, stood in the kitchen on a drab day, slowly tackling the dirty pots and wading through the treacle of emotions I’m feeling at the moment, I felt how very much I love everyone in my life. It was a huge and unexpected surge of compassion – something I’d like to experience more of, please and thank you!

Sometimes though, it can feel hard to love where we’ve come from. Sometimes we have a feeling of discontent and disconnection in the pit of our stomachs, and we would like nothing more than to avoid thinking about our childhoods, or spending time with people who remind us of those difficult times. In these moments, we can feel far from love, and it’s hard to know where to look for that feeling of comfort and relief. Lost. Lonely. Unsure. Desperate.

So what’s the answer? How can we move beyond pain and reconnect with the love we know lives inside of us? Well, today I was reminded of the power and absolute necessity of forgiveness. And I’m not talking here about forgiving those we feel have wronged us, although that is also important. Usually at the top of the list of people who need our forgiveness is us. Forgiveness for having disconnected from love. Forgiveness for having stepped out of alignment by believing unloving and fear-based thoughts about ourselves. Forgiveness for having unknowingly or unintentionally hurt someone else, or for having believed that we were responsible for that person’s happiness. Perhaps our younger selves dreamt of putting certain things ‘right’ for ourselves and others, and it turned out not to be possible. Perhaps we dreamt of making someone proud by getting a degree in mathematics and landing a high earning job. And perhaps we even achieved these aspirations, only to discover that they didn’t fill the whole in our hearts we once believed they would. For all of these things, and more, we must forgive ourselves.

Of course there are many tools for forgiveness, which I won’t attempt to list here. But I have learned one tool this week which I would like to share with you here, and which I hope you will take up and experiment with. It’s called Ho’oponopono, and it’s based on an ancient spiritual practice from Hawaii. The practice centres around the following mantra:

I’m sorry

Forgive me

I love you

And thank you

The idea is that when we experience anything that results in negative emotion or a sense of disconnection, we must put it right by creating a sacred space in which to meet the person, object, place, memory etc. that has caused us to experience pain. When in the sacred place, we can invite the person forward and repeat the above mantra to them three times. The crucial thing to remember is that we aren’t forgiving from an ego place, but rather from a higher perspective. Nor are we actually asking anyone to forgive us. It’s more about reconnecting with our sense of inner peace, and asking our higher selves (or the universe – however you choose to describe your higher power) to help us erase the negative emotions we have experienced.

Now, to say that this has been a basic and whistle stop tour of Ho’oponopono by a person who has only just begun to practice it themselves would be an understatement. I believe I have understood the concept and have been using it to good effect, but I know there is a lot of guidance about it online, so if you like the sound of it, go take a look and see what you find.

My current mission on the path of personal growth is to understand and embrace who I truly am, and to do this, I realise I must first forgive my past, including the part I played in it. The sense of conflict and discontent I have been feeling is an unwillingness to truly let go, because part of me believes that I should have been able to do things better. Only when I forgive myself can I begin to see others through a more compassionate lens, because then I will be approaching them from a place of love, compassion and defencelessness. Yogi Bhajan is quoted as having said:

If you are willing to look at another person’s behaviour towards you as a reflection of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement of your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all.

What a gorgeous and much needed quote in my life right now! If I can forgive myself, and begin to connect with the idea that my value as a person is never in question, I will open the doors to compassion and a sense of emotional freedom. Huzzah!

And remember, forgiveness is a choice. So choose to forgive yourself as often as you can, each and every day, and see what doors begin to open for you.

Love to you all, my spectacular fellow human beings.

Kath Xxx

No one else will ever walk in your shoes

I don’t know about you, but I often get really frustrated when other’s don’t understand what I’m saying or my perspective on a particular topic. I guess I would probably feel less frustrated if I was more sure of myself, and less dependent on what others think, but for now, I still have an unhealthy attachment to external validation. Less than I used to. But it’s still there. So when I talk to people about something I feel uncertain about, what I really want for them to say is: “Oh, I know exactly what you mean! It’s so crazy isn’t it? I mean, I feel like you’ve literally described my own life, and I could not agree with you more!” Something like that anyway. More often than not though, I am met with an inadequate response, which isn’t surprising given how high my expectations are! No wonder I’m constantly disappointed if what I’m looking for is 100% understanding and enthusiasm on the part of my conversational partner.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important for us to feel heard and understood, and if we don’t currently have many people who allow us to feel these life-affirming things, it’s maybe a good idea to reach out to people who are more on our wavelength, or join a Facebook community of like-minded individuals who can offer time and space to really hear what you’re saying. But in day-to-day conversations with friends, family and colleagues, I think it’s important (for sanity’s sake) to remember that they aren’t us, and we aren’t them. Even people we know really well, and who have been around since year dot, cannot know exactly what it’s like to walk in our shoes, and to have our unique perspective on life. It’s so important to remember this – not only to avoid feeling frustrated and disheartened, but also to ensure that we don’t give our personal power and sense of self away every five minutes. Trust me, I speak from experience! Depending on what you’re talking about, some people just won’t get it. I mean, they’re likely to agree that pizza tastes amazing, but they may be less able to understand why it’s so important for you to go sky diving or retire from work much earlier than anticipated.

This topic has come up for me because I’m currently living life so differently to how I used to, and so differently to how many people around me live their own lives. To be honest, it’s hard for me to make sense of most of the time, so how can I expect others to ‘get’ exactly where I’m coming from? It can be really isolating and lonely at times, and that’s why I mentioned about reaching out to like-minded individuals and becoming part of a Facebook community. We simply must take these practical steps in life, or risk feeling so discouraged that we give up on our hopes and dreams.

All of this helps to remind me that it’s important to keep the things that matter most to us in a sacred place inside, and not to let other people’s lack of understanding, negativity or inability to stop and really listen to what we’re saying, allow us to think less of ourselves – or our dreams. We must treat our dreams, aspirations and personal journeys with respect and kindness, and remind ourselves that we too are guilty of not completely understanding where other people are coming from sometimes.

Perhaps it’s also wise to not discuss things we feel really unsure about to the extent that we absolutely have to receive positive validation for what we’re saying. For example, I’m just beginning to realise how much more important it is to be happy and fully expressed in the world than it is to be ‘successful’ in the conventional sense of the word. This new belief is becoming less fragile as the days and weeks go by, but it’s still a huge blow to me if certain people in my life don’t agree and resonate more with my old way of seeing things. Perhaps these people are in my life to challenge me to heal these aspects of myself? Viewing it this way certainly seems to make difficult conversations feel less like a trial and more like an opportunity.

I hope this helps some of you similarly sensitive soul-searchers out there. Whoever you are, thanks so much for making it to the end of this post and for taking the time to hear what I have to say 🙂

Peace Xxx

 

Healing from the past

How many of you out there have something (or several things) from your past which you would like to heal from, so that you can be the person you truly are underneath all the stress and worry, and step into your best life?

I know I do, that’s for sure. And it’s taken me a while to even reach this point. Before you can heal from something you must first realise that you are injured in some way, and then come to terms with the idea of letting it go. Sometimes it can feel so much easier to hold on to the things that keep us from being our true selves, because we feel safe and secure in our pain and suffering. It sounds strange doesn’t it?! Who in their right mind would want to suffer? Someone who feels it is a safer option than showing up in the world and letting others see them for who they really are, that’s who. And oh how natural and normal it is to feel this way. There ain’t nothing wrong with it, and it’s only when we’re good and ready to start working on these things that we can expect to do so. It’s a gradual process of learning to feel safe in the world as who you are, and not who others expect you to be. It’s a gradual process of looking in the mirror and learning to love what you see. It’s a gradual process of trusting your inner guidance, which is always loving, and always there for you if you choose to listen.

So now I’m ready to heal from my past. I’m ready to move on, and I’m scared to death. Why is something I want to do so flipping scary??? This is something I’ve chosen, of my own volition, and it’s something I feel has been calling to me for a while now. I want to do it, the universe wants me to do it, my cat wants me to do it (she didn’t actually tell me this, but I’m pretty sure she left a coded message in her food bowl the other day, so…)

Anyway, I have a few theories I’d like to share about why it’s so hard, if you’d care to keep reading 🙂

  • It’s hard because of course it’s hard! I mean, come on. I’m only human. I’m stretching my comfort zone and facing my fears, and that’s never going to be easy. The fact that it’s hard tells me that I’m doing something right. I’m not playing it safe; I’m beginning to take small risks and change my perception of myself and the world.
  • It’s hard because sometimes, the hard stuff is where the good stuff is hiding. Make sense? Probably not. I just mean that if you can process whatever you’re feeling (sadness, anger etc.), you’re likely to open doors to personal joy that you didn’t even know were closed. Any difficult period in your life is always an opportunity to grow.
  • OK, so it turns out I have fewer theories than I thought I had, so I hope the two above will do for now!

As usual, I’m writing this because I feel the need to remind myself of these key bits of wisdom I’ve gained in recent years, and because I know by now that I am far from alone in my human experience.

I’ve already gown and expanded my comfort zone. What I’m going through tells me that it’s time to continue that journey and begin to dip my toes into the life that is calling to me. Or maybe I need to dive in head first? I don’t know. Baby steps will do for now, and being here, writing this blog post, is one of those baby steps. It doesn’t always feel easy sharing this stuff, but I know I have to. It calls to me, and the fact that it scares me tells me I’m onto a winner.

Just one more thing before I sign off: I sometimes find that when a big life change is coming my way, there is a natural grieving process, where all my emotions rise to the surface and I can feel new pathways being forged in how I see myself. Letting this be what it is and not questioning it or judging it in any way is so important. You may find it useful when going through this process of death and rebirth (sort of like shedding your old skin) to de-clutter your home, rearrange the furniture or buy some new clothes. Clearing out old memories and energy from you life makes room for something new.

I hope you lovely bunch of human beings are having a good week. Always remember not to take life too seriously, and to laugh as often as you possibly can. Apparently our brains can’t distinguish between genuine and fake laughter, which just goes to show that humans aren’t as smart as we sometimes think we are!

Peace and love,

Kath

What’s it all about?

I was just flipping through a notebook I sometimes take with me, in case inspiration strikes or I finally develop a consistent writing practice! I live in hope…

Anyhow, I found this little poem on one of the pages:

Help me

I’m drowning

Powerless and weak

Who was I, I wonder?

Who am I meant to be?

Please, won’t someone love me, and show me how to be?

How to breathe for myself

And believe in myself

I can’t stand this any longer

I must break free

What’s it all for, anyway?

All this suffering and pain…

In my darkest moments, I somehow sense that an alternative reality is waiting for me.

Calling to me

Even longing for me

 

That final line is the bit that got to me. The idea that life is always calling to us to be the best and happiest versions of ourselves is one that really comforts and reassures me, and it’s something I’ve experienced on many occasions. When I choose to see something through the eyes of love, rather than fear, or choose to show up as my true self, I often get the feeling that there’s this invisible force cheering me on; encouraging me to keep walking, slowly but surely, along the path of self-acceptance and self-expression.

Looking back, even when I was much younger and in the midst of much teenage angst and anguish, I was also having these sorts of conversations between myself and the universe. I had a strong sense, despite feeling utterly terrified and unworthy, that I mattered. That my life was somehow important, and that in spite of everything, everything was sort of OK. Because we do matter, don’t we? And things do have a funny way of working themselves out, don’t they? It’s just a quiet whisper that we hear sometimes, in moments of peace, maybe when we’re out in nature or relaxing under a beautiful night sky. Then the noise of our lives creeps back in and fear tells us to stop being so whimsical: “Pull your socks up and get on with it, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere in life and people will judge you for your inadequacies”.

So what does the quiet voice of love say to you in those quiet, peaceful moments? And what can I say to reassure you that you matter, and are 100% worthy in every moment of every day?

By for now fellow human beings x

Let’s get some clarity

Does life sometimes feel like a giant jigsaw puzzle to you? With all of the pieces laid out on the floor in front of you, and only the most basic understanding of how to make the whole thing come together? If so, you can join my club, because this seems to be my default setting at the moment. My usual tactic for dealing with this situation is to try to think and rationalise my way out of it. I add more mental clutter and noise to a head already full of ‘bits and pieces’. I don’t know how many more times I will have to go through this process before I finally realise that the only thing I really need to do is to get quiet, take a break from my usual routine and gain some much needed perspective. Sometimes we have to make this happen for ourselves. by booking some time off or taking up a daily meditation practice. At other times, life will force us to pause and take some time out from all the over-analysis, like for example if the author of a certain blog were to come down with the MOTHER OF ALL VIRUSES! I’m always nervous to use the term ‘flu’, but this ain’t no bog standard cold, I can tell you. In a strange sort of way, though, this illness has been my friend. It has made me stop trying to figure things out – constantly efforting and striving, exhausting myself in the process. Come to think of it, maybe there’s a reason why my immune system is shot to pieces at the moment…

Anyhow. A few very obvious answers have emerged during my confinement and forced resting period, and I have experienced clarity for the first time in a long time. And oh how delicious and wonderful it feels! It’s like, having swum for days through muddy waters, I can finally see what I’m moving towards, and why I bothered to set out on this journey in the first place. I don’t want to risk boring you with too many personal details, but I’m sure you’re just a teeny bit intrigued to know what insights I’ve had over the last few days. If not, you can always skip to the next paragraph, and I won’t ever know about it! So here goes. The following are now BLATANTLY obvious to me:

  • I am craving a sense of community and a group of people with whom to share common goals
  • Having spent most of my life in fear of other people, I now realise that ‘people’ are absolutely 100% what I want to focus my life on. By which I mean, I feel that a major driving force in my life is to help others to heal, and in doing so to heal myself. Whether that’s by writing, spending time together or learning how to give Indian head massages, I don’t really know. The answer didn’t come to me with much small print, so I guess I’ll work the detail out later. I just know that I have something to offer, and that the longer I sit on this ‘something’ and tell myself that I’m being ridiculous, the more time I waste.
  • I need to actually start doing the things that float through my head on a daily basis. Writing, meditating, going on more adventures, connecting with more people through exercise groups or other social activities, creating unique pieces of craft and art with my hand-spun wool… I mean, I LOVE wool, I love colours, I love creating and crafting and experimenting and making things with my hands. So what the hell am I waiting for?

What am I waiting for? That’s a good question, and I suspect I know the answer. Permission. I’m waiting for someone from the administrative department of the universe to turn up on my doorstep and tell me that my dreams and desires have been approved. I’m waiting for everyone I know to suddenly be on my wavelength and 100% understand who I am and what makes me tick, despite the fact that they have completely different dreams and life experiences. I’m waiting for the day I wake up and believe in myself wholeheartedly and without any fear whatsoever that what I’m doing is invalid or wrong or stupid.

So yeah. I’m waiting for a bunch of things that will never happen, and if I keep waiting, I risk not bestowing my gifts and talents upon the world. Because I truly do believe that we are all needed, and that showing up as our true selves in the greatest gift we could ever give to the world. Anyone who follows this blog on a regular basis may have noticed that I’m becoming more spiritual by the day, and one of my favourite authors, Gill Edwards, once wrote that we are all pieces in a giant jigsaw, and that we are all needed to make the whole. This idea literally revolutionised my life when I first encountered it a few years ago. Having spent all my life trying to prove myself to be a worthy human being, to discover that I was not only worthy but also needed gave me the greatest sense of joy and freedom. It was also an idea that felt like coming home – I think, despite my insecurities, I had always suspected that I was good enough, and that I maybe even had a specific purpose for being here in this lifetime.

Unfortunately, the only way to get to my life’s purpose is to do what feels right, and I’ve come to realise over the last few years that things that feel right for me stand a good chance of being a bit scary/outside of my comfort zone and of ruffling a few feathers among friends and family. Not to mention the fact that in order to work out what feels right, you have to dedicate time to getting quiet and letting the answers come to you.

Before I close out this blog post, I just want to make a couple of things clear. Firstly, I believe we all have a certain purpose to fulfil. Whether you are spiritually inclined or not, you can still come to see yourself as the owner of several unique skills, insights, talents etc. and that the world benefits from having you around.

Secondly, by ‘life’s purpose’ I don’t mean something grand like changing international law, helping to save the rain forest or healing millions of people by becoming a well-known spiritual author. My ego would love to think that my purpose looks extremely important and grand, but I think I may have to settle for a little more run of the mill existence. Which actually suits me, since I like a quiet life.

So that’s it. That’s my wisdom for today (and yesterday – I started writing this last night!). I don’t know how wise or useful it will prove to be, but I’m starting to realise that having ideas and not doing anything with them is a recipe for misery.

Bye for now folks.

Know you are loved

All my life, I have worried that I wasn’t loved, or lovable. I wasn’t really aware of this deep-seated concern of mine. I knew – in theory – that my family loved me. I was so sure of this fact that it never occurred to me to ask myself if I really felt loved. To know something in theory is very different to knowing it in your heart and soul, and when I look back, so many of my problems (if not all of them) stem from a feeling of unworthiness. I suppose another way of describing this is to say that I felt I was only worthy or lovable or acceptable etc… if I met other people’s expectations, which are such a flimsy and changeable thing to try to grasp onto. You might finally decide you’ve cracked it and know how to please a particular relative of yours – let’s say your mum – only to discover that her mood and opinions the next day seem completely different. You realise with horror that all your sister/dad/son really want is to have the final say or to express the loudest opinion. I have certainly experienced the frustration of echoing someone’s ideas in the faint hopes of pleasing them, only to discover that they would rather contradict themselves than agree with you on anything. Other people’s behaviour will always be their own responsibility, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t find a sense of peace by altering ourselves to please them. On the contrary, this will always take us further and further away from a sense of love, since we are moving away from our true selves.

So if you can learn to feel how loved you are – not with your head, but with your heart – and to accept that you can’t ever please everyone all of the time, you can reach a place in your life where you can enter a room without fear of not being good enough. The best version of yourself will always be the truest one, and that can and will involve upsetting a few people on occasion.

But how can we know that we are loved, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel that way? Well, ask yourself this: do you love your family, even though they aren’t perfect and sometimes/often upset you? Do you love your cat even though it’s scratched a new piece of furniture? Do you love your husband/wife even though they constantly forget to take the rubbish bins out? Yes, of course you do! And in fact, as much as certain people may get on your nerves, would you really want them to be any different? Well, to be fair, it would be nice if your mum was less judgemental or your dad didn’t still treat you like a child, but at the end of the day, that’s part of who they are, and that’s OK. If you resist these aspects of your family and loved ones, you are placing conditions on your love in the same way they do when they call into question some aspect of your being. So yes, you are loved. Very much so, in fact. And if you are open to the idea of a benevolent universe that knows each of us in great detail (as Gill Edwards describes in her book ‘Life is a Gift’), then you should know that your worthiness has never been in question. It is only our false beliefs about ourselves and the world that make us feel that we are less than we should be.

All of this isn’t easy. It takes time to warm up to the idea that we are all loved and worthy in our own right, and that we are free to be who we are regardless of whose feathers we might ruffle. And the next time your get hurt, you will probably feel tempted to retreat back into a sense of loneliness and fear. And if you do – that’s fine! You’re only human after all. Take your time and practice feeling loved and loving others in return. Entering a room knowing that you are loved – whether by the people in front of you or the universe at large – is completely different to walking into a room already fearing that you’ve fallen short in some way.

OK, this has been quite a whimsical post, but I’m in kind of a whimsical mood! I think it’s Christmas and spending so much time with family and friends. It isn’t always the easiest time of the year, but knowing we are loved can make all those social gatherings a lot more bearable – or maybe it will give you the courage you need to say no to something when you’d rather be somewhere else.

I hope you’ve all had a warm and cosy Christmas.

Bye for now!

Kath

p.s. Image courtesy of riccardo f.m. via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/ybp3b2jw

The most magical time of the year?

Hello people of the internet. I hope this blog post finds you well.

I have decided to keep a record of all of the magical/out of the ordinary experiences I have had throughout my life. I’m going through a process of awakening at the moment, in which I’m coming to see what the human existence is really all about, and deciding if I have the strength and conviction to trust what I believe to be true. Since my beliefs are largely a result of what life and experience have taught me thus far, where better to start than with the things that I have personally seen and felt?

You see, all this spiritual stuff and personal development was OK when I placed ownership on anyone but myself. Spiritualism and the lessons self-help literature can teach us seemed like concrete things that I could grasp on to when I needed an anchor, but the whole point of all these teachings is that they enable us to connect with something inside of us. They are the catalyst for transformation, but the transformation is very much our own. This is scary for someone like me, who has always lacked her own voice and looked to others for what is right and wrong.

I hope some of this sounds familiar to one or two of you – surely I’m not the only one going through an existential crisis?!!

So here we go – a complete list of all the magical moments in my life (that I can remember and which are interesting enough to include in this blog post!). Because I need to start trusting my own inner voice, which has always led me to believe that there is more to life than atoms and molecules.

  1. Crying myself to sleep one night as a teenager, and begging for a sign that everything would be OK. My mum had told me to ask for a white feather, so this is what I did. On my way to college the next morning, a large white feather slowly drifted in waves and landed right by my feet.
  2. Again as a teenager, I was on my way home from college one cold winter afternoon, and for some unknown reason decided to walk back and use the payphone to ask for a lift. When I called it turned out I didn’t have my keys with me and no one was in the house, so walking home would have meant standing out in the cold waiting for someone to get home. I remember thinking as I walked back to college to use the payphone that it made no sense to do this, since I’d already been half-way home. I waited in the warmth of the college until I was able to confirm that someone was home.
  3. One night my sister and I played a game where she looked at random cards from a pack of playing cards and I had to see what number she was looking at. I got 10 right in a row and we got so spooked that we stopped doing it!
  4. I used to be able to predict lottery numbers – unfortunately, only when the numbers had been selected by the machine but before the number was revealed to the viewing public. I regularly used to get three of four numbers correct.
  5. On my way to college one day, I saw someone walking on the opposite side of the pavement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look at them, and saw the lower part of a torso slowly fade out to nothing.
  6. Quite a few years ago now I worked for the NHS and used to make a fairly regular trip over to where some colleagues worked in a nearby hospital library. The library was supposedly haunted. One day, I was sat at my computer behind the library desk, and I heard a female voice singing, crystal clear and quite tuneful. It suddenly occurred to me that there was only myself and a colleague in the library, so I asked her if she had been singing. No, she had not. I also checked what the sounds from outside sounded like, since it was summer and the windows were open. I could certainly hear muffled voices and conversations from outside, but nothing as clear as the singing. When I later recalled this event to another colleague, she explained that one of the ghosts in the library was supposedly a lady in hospital gowns who wandered around singing. I doubted my own experience for long after this occurrence, but now I’m more inclined to trust that it happened.
  7. This is one of my favourites. I had booked a chimney sweep, and put the £45 fee in an old purse that I was due to throw out. It was two £20 notes, two £2 coins and one £1 coin. The purse was on the bookshelf in my living room, where the fireplace in question was being dealt with. I was aware of having someone in the house and made sure I only went as far away as the next room, so when I went to pay I was really surprised to find the money wasn’t there. What opportunity had he had to steal the money? He really didn’t seem like the type and, well, I was sure I’d have heard or seen something from the kitchen. I paid by cheque and did what we all do in these situations – beat myself up about it. Over the next few weeks I went back to the purse on several occasions, turning it inside out trying to make the money reappear. It just seemed so odd, and I had a gut feeling it hadn’t been stolen. One day, just as I was about to throw the purse out and forget the whole saga, I said a little prayer to the universe, along the lines of: “OK universe, I know I’ve been beating myself up about this and I know I need to learn to give myself a break. If I promise – really promise – to forgive myself for misplacing the money, please could I have it back because £45 is a lot of money!” I opened the purse and…. There it was. Two £20 notes, two £2 coins and one £1 coin. My husband swears he didn’t replace the money – and in any case he didn’t know the exact denominations.
  8. Only a few years ago, I was in an interview for a job I really wanted. With extra special emphasis on the really. I can’t exactly explain why, but I felt a strong magnetic pull to this job – almost as though it wanted me as much as I wanted it. So I was understandably nervous leading up to and during the interview, and when I was asked a question I couldn’t instantly think of a good answer to, I used a trick I’d read somewhere, which is to ask if you can take a moment to consider your answer. As I pondered, I stared into the corner of the ceiling and realised that my mind had gone completely blank – like a clean, white sheet of paper with no trace of any useful information. So I was surprised to discover myself giving a full and eloquent answer, without knowing where it had come from. The interviewees just looked at me for a few seconds, seemingly impressed with what they’d heard, and moved on to the next question.
  9. After three long and joyous/gruelling years of working in the job mentioned above, I reached a point whereby the only way forward for me was to quit and make a big change in my life. The change was calling to me, and it made me quake in my boots just thinking about it. If I did this, I sensed that everything would change for the better, but I didn’t have the courage – not least because I had no concrete plans whatsoever for what I would do with my life from that point onward. So I asked the universe for some guidance on my way into town to meet my mum. The guidance came in the form of a greetings card, which caught my eye in this gorgeous little gift shop I’ve been visiting for years. The card (of which there were many, but only this one called to me to read it) said this: “Life is like riding a bike – to keep your balance, you must keep moving”. That was all the confirmation I needed, as I had been going through a particularly magical phase in my life and listening to the ‘whispers’ from the universe was a daily occurrence for me. So I quit, and everything changed, and I’ve never been more scared or prouder of myself than in that moment.
  10. A year or two later, whilst walking to my sister’s house, I remembered that it’s important to ask for the things we want in life. So I silently asked the universe for a friend, and I was very specific that it had to be a proper friend, that I could be completely myself around, and who was on my wavelength. Basically, I was in need of a soul friend, which is something I’ve never truly had before. The other day, I was round at my friend’s house and I suddenly remembered what I had asked for. And boy oh boy did I get what I asked for: a friend like I’ve never had before, and who I cannot now imagine my life without. She has opened up my world and encouraged me to be more and more of who I am, and in return, she has gained the friend that she has always wanted.
  11. A doctor once mentioned something called Emotional Freedom Technique to me. I filed it away in my list of things to explore, and was later reminded of it when I read about it in a book. Hmmm, I thought – now feels like the right time to pursue this, but where on earth am I going to find a practitioner close to my home town? I had a look on the internet, couldn’t find anything, and settled on teaching myself how to use the technique, even though I knew this would never happen. Then one night I was giving my mum a shoulder rub and she asked where you can go to get a proper back massage that isn’t one of those beauty parlours with the false nails and eyelashes (nothing wrong with either of those things, obviously, but it’s not my mum’s style and she would feel uncomfortable in that kind of environment). I mentioned a local therapy centre I knew of, and upon checking the list of treatments they offer, there on the list was Emotional Freedom Technique. I was blown away, and subsequently signed up for sessions which have proven to be life changing. I realise that many people would dismiss this as coincidence, and of course I am open-minded to the idea. But this was one of many instances in my life where exactly the right thing/situation/person has come along exactly when I needed it.

It feels scary sharing these stories with you, because I know many people would dismiss or ridicule them. But that’s OK. No one should be forced to believe something they don’t. All I know is that these experiences are real, and that trusting my inner voice includes making room for the fact that there is more to life than meets the eye. Slowly but surely I hope to become more and more sure of my right to be here on this planet, living this life; not because someone else has told me so, but rather because I am able to know things without needing to be told.

Sending you all my very best wishes for the New Year.

Kath

p.s. Image courtesy of Andrew Melnychuk via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/y9yd37u8

Recipe for the perfect human being

This is a simple recipe, which can easily be followed once you realise that all the other ingredients you once thought were important are in fact completely unnecessary. The recipe is as follows:

Take 1 human being

Add a dollop of doing the best you can with the knowledge and skills you have

See life as a gift which is unfolding just for you, and never question your right to be here, to make mistakes or to struggle.

Take a whole heap of love and hold it in your heart

Additional notes:

Please don’t add any of the traditional ingredients, such as people-pleasing, judgement, perfectionism, self-loathing/lack of worthiness, or a heavy focus on achieving what you believe others see as important. All of these things look good enough, but they will make the finished recipe taste bitter and unsatisfying.

I have yet to master this recipe myself, but I intend to keep practising it until I have it just right – or as close to just right as I can manage!

Lots of love,

Kath

 

p.s. image courtesy of tinyfroglet via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/yca3kqez

What do you want to do with your life?

I don’t know about you, but most of my life, until the revelations of my thirties, I felt that the best way to get by in life was to make as little trouble as possible – to please others, and somehow fly under the radar. Life wasn’t about doing what I wanted to; it was about taking all the opinions and clues from the outside world, crunching the numbers and coming up with the perfect formula for my life. Funny thing is, it wasn’t my life, was it? It belonged to everyone except me. Sound familiar?

I wrote a while back that life is a strange place for me to be now that I’ve realised that people-pleasing and living up to the expectations of others isn’t necessary. It was making my miserable, but it felt safe, and all of my sense of worth came from being perceived in a positive way by others. So, what to do with my life now that my people-pleasing road trip is drawing to and end?

I don’t know if you believe in the mystical and magical things that can sometimes happen in life, but I was once sat contemplating my life and where I was up to etc. I felt suddenly compelled to take a book from my bookcase (which I never do – the bookcase in question is more of an archive of books I’ve already read). Anyway, I picked up a title by Alexander McCall Smith called ‘Morality for beautiful girls’, closed my eyes, flipped through the pages and stopped at a seemingly random place. Imagine my absolute shock when I realised I was looking at a chapter heading titled: ‘What do you want to do with your life?’. Hmm, I thought to myself. Life isn’t about doing; it’s about being and experiences and joy and… It’s not about what job I do or what holidays I go on. It’s about making the most of the experiences that come my way. I was, if anything, a little annoyed with the book for asking me such a stupid question. Stupid book. What does it know?

Well, in hindsight, maybe a lot more than I do – or did at the time. What I’ve come to realise is that unless you are an active creator of the moments in your life, you don’t get to choose what they look like, and your experiences will be limited and perhaps even a little soul crushing. Because our souls need to breathe and stretch their wings, and doing what others wish for or expect of us is about as far away as we can get from living a heart-centred life. Towing the line is the emotional equivalent of throwing in the towel and giving up on everything you’ve ever wanted; whether that’s for yourself, others or the world at large.

We all have dreams, no matter who we are, or how small or unusual or impossible they may seem to someone else. Many of us won’t be aware of our dreams because we’ve forgotten them among the business and general chaos of being an adult. But if you think back to your childhood, you won’t have to look too far to remember all the things you used to dream of. Personally, I used to imagine being an acclaimed artist or a pilot. This was at the age of about 8, and my greatest joy in life was being allowed to stay up a bit later to watch the Crystal Maze and Gladiators (UK reference – my apologies to anyone who hasn’t heard of these wonderful British television programmes from the 1990s). So why I wanted to fly and paint masterpieces I’ll never know; it’s just something that used to capture my imagination. I also assumed that I would make a positive difference to the world at large, although I wasn’t sure how. I remember feeling pretty annoyed at how badly the planet was being treated and thinking that I should probably do something about it (but not before I’ve caught up with the Crystal Maze, obviously!).

It doesn’t matter that my dreams from childhood bear no resemblance to my actual life. The important thing is that I had any dreams at all, and that I was actively thinking about the things I’d like to see change in the world. I had this sense that my life mattered, and that countless opportunities and possibilities lay ahead of me. When I thought about life, it seemed like something to run towards, rather than something to run away from. Some people may call this naivety, but I think it’s adults who lose their way and forget to see things how they really are. We forget the magic, we don’t make time for day-dreams, and if we’re really unlucky, we start to equate life with drudgery and hard work. Society plays a big part in this, of course. When you look around you, especially in Western cultures, it’s no wonder we lose our way and forget what’s important.

So, what do I do now that I realise I’ve been letting life wash over me, rather than creating my own waves? Well, I’ve got some decisions to make, some dreams to dream, and a renewed sense of purpose to gain. I need to start creating meaning in my own life, instead of letting others tell me what’s meaningful. I need to start creating moments and holding space for myself and others, rather than waiting for a phone call from someone inviting me to do something (and therefore saving me from having to think of something).

Life is all about choice, freedom and expression. Love and joy are everywhere around us, just waiting for us to say yes. But we can’t do this passively; we must be bold enough to show up, let ourselves be seen, and ultimately to choose our best life.

Oh, and here’s a little poem I found myself jotting down the other evening:

Go find your joy
Go find your purpose
Go out into the world
Let it see you
And cast your eyes upon its magnificence
Don’t label yourself;
Be wild and free
Express yourself
And feel your connection to the rest of humanity
You’ve come so far;
Know that nothing is outside of your reach
And above all else, know that you are loved

Thanks for being here and reading this. I hope you found even the tiniest bit of inspiration to live life the way you want to.

Kath

p.s. Image is courtesy of Chris R. via Flickr: https://tinyurl.com/yc8rtwqy