Tag Archives: self-love

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

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

Life as a free spirit

I’m discovering new things about myself all the time. The lessons are coming thick and fast at the moment, and to be perfectly honest, I’m a little overwhelmed. The reason I’m here today – writing this post, and beginning to play with ideas about how to live life as a happy, healthy human being – is because everything in my life has brought me to this point. I didn’t always walk willingly along this path of mine, and it has taken a lot of harsh life lessons for me to finally relinquish many aspects of myself that I thought to be true, but which I now know to have been largely driven by fear…

  • I didn’t love being a high-achiever. It made me feel safe.
  • I didn’t enjoy the daily grind of an office job, but I knew that was what others expected and wanted for me, and so I told myself I was on the right path. Even though barely anything about it made me come alive inside.
  • I didn’t find satisfaction in playing it safe, rather than expressing my true nature. But it didn’t even occur to me that my life belonged to me, or that the ultimate goal for any human being is joy, connection and fulfilment.

I was so, so lost. And I had absolutely no idea what life had in store for me! A few years on from giving up on the idea of a traditional career – or life! – I now see that my greatest battles have been the source of my greatest joy, as well as giving me a sense of purpose and fulfilment in the world:

  • My desire to please others has led me to the realisation that we can never, ever please everyone all of the time, and that we can never play the people-pleasing game AND be happy.
  • My ego’s desire to be the best at everything to avoid feeling unworthy or unacceptable has shown me that feelings of worthiness and self-love can only emerge when we allow our egos to quieten down and take a back seat.

The strangest thing of all, is that the person I turn out to be is so very different to the ‘me’ that emerged from my adolescent years. I’m free-spirited, creative and quirky. I love to take my time over things and really take in the moment. I adore playing with the young people in my life, and often wonder why kids get all the fun! Of course it’s also true that I LOVED being a student, that I enjoyed many aspects of the work I used to do, and that I will always love to learn new things and buy stationary (I had to sneak that one in – there’s nothing like a brand new note pad!). I am all of these things, and more aspects of my true self are, I’m sure, yet to reveal themselves.

So here I am. A free-spirit with a love of learning and stationary. A creative soul with a desire to change the world in some way. An academically successful person who likes to play and get messy. Being perfectly honest, I have no idea what to do with all this ‘me-ness’ at the moment. And I really don’t know about this whole writing thing. When I sit down to write, it’s usually to pour out a stream of consciousness, and I generally don’t know where the blog post is going until I get there. Is this normal? Can I ever become a more consistent and dedicated writer if most of my work amounts to ramblings? I  just don’t know. But here I am, and so I shall continue.

All I know for now is that the closer I get to my true self, the greater my chance of experiencing joy and fulfilment. Pretty cool hey?

Love and stuff x

I’m just a teenage dirtbag

So, one of my biggest obstacles for moving forward in life and doing what I want to do (as opposed to what I suspect others want me to do) is that I have an angry, scared and confused teenage version of myself who feels stuck and controlled. I woke up this morning feeling just this – controlled and powerless – and began to have a gentle conversation with myself about it, whilst trying not to judge myself for how I’m feeling at this moment in time.

This concept of different selves has slowly emerged for me over the last few years, and I’ve become increasingly aware that my teenage years were a particularly dark phase in my life. These are the years when I decided that the only way to survive and feel safe was to work incredibly hard to get the very best grades, and to decipher what other people deemed acceptable in every interaction I had with another human being. This is a tricky and pointless endeavour, I must warn you, since everyone you meet will have a different idea of what’s ‘right’ or ‘good’.

So yeah, teenage me is terrified. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that she is loved and that it’s safe to follow her heart and do what feels right for her. She’s definitely more on board with my adult view of the world than she was previously, but when a big change comes along, she tends to get really angry and try her best to control the situation.

I can’t encourage this kind of personal insight enough; getting to know your many ‘selves’ can be an incredibly important and useful tool for addressing any hang-ups you might have and living the most balanced and joyful life you possibly can.

I used to see this teenage version of myself as a problem. I didn’t like her very much because she seemed so angry, and as a person who struggles to express ‘negative’ emotions, I found it difficult to accept this part of myself. Expressing anger is a dangerous business, and absolutely makes me a terrible person – or at least that’s what I’ve believed for most of my life. It’s taken me until now to realise that all emotions are acceptable, and that to not express or acknowledge huge chunks of your personal/inner experience is a recipe for misery.

Slowly but surely, I’m beginning to value and even treasure this angry adolescent version of myself, because she is only ever trying to do what she feels is the best. She’s using the tools she has at her disposal to try to keep me safe, and if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It’s through her experience of the world that I’ve learnt to worry less about what others think, and to place a much higher value on my own inner journey. It’s thanks to her that I’m now pursuing my dreams. And if I really wish to make the leap and live the life I suspect I’m supposed to be living, she needs to come along for the ride – both as a navigational aid, and so that she can continue her journey towards healing and learn to express the parts of herself that she’s long suspected are bad and unworthy.

I realise now that I’m almost at the end of this blog post that I haven’t explained the reason for the title: ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’. Well, when I was feeling all angsty and mixed up this morning, I went to turn on the radio and sent an intention out into the universe that whatever song came on would somehow give me an insight into what I was feeling. Hilarious, thanks universe.

I must go now. Me and my teenage dirtbag self have some work to do.

Sending much love and encouragement to all of you.

Bye for now x

Reflections on life and our place within it

Tell me life isn’t beautiful and meaningful

And I will say you are blind

Open your eyes and heart to the present moment

And you will see all the beauty life has to offer

Life, love and beauty don’t exist outside of you

They exist within you

You are life

You are love

You are beauty

Say yes to who you truly are

The world needs you

___________________________________________________

This small snippet was written whilst on hold to an insurance company earlier today. A strange moment to feel inspired, I realise, although the sun was shining in through the living room window and I had a lilting programme on the TV about the journey barges make along canals in the UK. So I guess on balance it was most likely that and not the insurance company that caused me to become reflective and whimsical.

I have spent my whole life (up until recent years) believing wholeheartedly that life (whatever that means) existed outside of me. It was ‘out there’ somewhere, which left me with a constant sense of ‘not enough’, since no matter what I did there was always something else I should be doing. I’d leave the house wearing a nice scarf I’d bought, only to see someone wearing a better scarf – “that’s the one I should have bought”, I would think to myself. The same feeling of inadequacy would occur in all aspects of my life, leaving me constantly striving but never quite managing to feel that I was enough.

I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Of course I do – I’m human after all! But I’m slowly beginning to realise that an entire universe lives inside of me, and that I am free to make choices that feel good for me – rather than trying to do everything perfectly or fit in with other people’s ideas of who I should be.

It’s a long old journey, but a journey towards joy is well worth making. I happen to be a big fan of Martha Beck, and I recently saw a quote that really resonated with me:

“Your job, now and for the rest of your life, is to heal your true nature and let it thrive” – Martha Beck (https://tinyurl.com/y9rzrpdx)

What a wonderful thought!

Here’s to you and all the life, love and beauty that lives inside of you.

Kath

What do you see?

What do you see, when you look at me?

Do I look shiny and sparkly and radiant with life?

Troubled, perhaps?

Looking for answers…

What I would like you to see, is all of me.

The truth; regardless of what that may look like

I cannot hide anymore

I have discovered who I am

Please, come and meet me.

Come and dance and sing with me

Let’s play together, in this most beautiful of playgrounds.

Let’s dare to look each other in the eyes and see what we may see

Knowing that perfection lies inside of us

A magic spark;

Waiting to set the world on fire

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

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