Reflections on 2016

This year, I have mixed feelings about. There were lots of great things, lots of struggle, and everything in between.
Over the last week or so, my reflections on the year have explored these highlights and challenges. The key things to share are:
  • Though I’m constantly changing, this year feels different, I know I’m a different person from who I was at this time last year.
  • I lost myself in others ideas of what to do without checking in with myself.
  • I put my own needs aside and didn’t realise that I was deeply unhappy. It took the words of a good friend to help me see how much I was hurting and to acknowledge that pain.
  • My health was better this year than last, despite a few hiccups, a lost biopsy and some weight gain. Cancer seemed to become prevalent in those around me and in my family. It helped me appreciate my own health and inspired a commitment to preserve it.
  • I am a flower freak. I love flowers and sharing images of flowers and am finally ready to come out of the closet as a flower freak. I don’t need to hide it, be ashamed of it, or pretend it’s only a cerebral interest. It’s a source of joy and delight in the image, sometimes the scent and the ability to share the sights I see across the globe.
  • This year I got what I wanted. I got a job that is meaningful, a good use of my skills and where I work a 7 day fortnight, so I can still run my business as well.
  • I worked with some amazing people this year, I was asked back by a team building client from 2009. I got some incredibly affirming feedback from a coaching client from 2013.
Oh yeah, I wrote a book. Hardly touched it once I finished reviewing the first manuscript but I’m back on it. Which leads me to the other huge accomplishment. Tall Poppy was released in November and now has 8 episodes including my own story, a snapshot of the journey from activist to entrepreneur. I got to watch my new house being built, found an awesome developer for our current property and made some big adult decisions.
This year on it’s own has been decent, in comparison to 2015 not as good. Next year, I have some intentions to provide direction but my goals are far less specific and more about improving my relationship with myself, honouring myself holistically, my desires, my health, my body. All of my rejected selves, my devalued selves, and bringing more wholeness and integration to my life in general.

Good-bye Glad

Yesterday we buried my grandmother-in-law. She isn’t actually my grandmother by birth or marriage but sometimes it takes someone’s passing to put things into perspective. I learned a bit more about her life and the impact she had on her family, my partner’s family, my family. She was a woman who spoke her mind, smoked and drank with a regularity almost like clockwork, not excessive, but often. Gladys Moll was loved by all who knew her. She was a country woman, with a knack for gardening and didn’t hesitate to shoot a snake if she saw one or thought she saw one.

Mixed-Colors-Purple-Yellow

Gladiolus, flower of her namesake.

She came down to our place a few times with her daughter, my partner’s mother on the Queen’s Birthday long weekends for a gardening fest and a visit. As the years wore on she didn’t cope with long drives so we only saw her when we went to Mildura for family gatherings and holiday visits. I watched her age a fair bit in the last few years. Her decline was evident in the reduced dexterity in her hands from arthritis and a year or so ago she had a small stroke which left her nearly blind, and sapping much of her vigour and will to live.

I remember one weekend of gardening she sat down with our orchids and separated the bulbs, I’d never grown orchids and the first year I lived in my house, it was a pleasant surprise to find them in bloom that first winter. I don’t know how it would have been for the orchids if she hadn’t separated them but I like to think she has helped me enjoy the orchids for longer than if she hadn’t done it. She loves to be helpful but doesn’t ask, just finds things to do and does them, pruning and weeding as she sees the need.

I didn’t have so much fondness for her at first. I really struggled with her smoking, found it hard to be around. She seemed to complain a lot, the thing I heard come out of her mouth most often, almost a habitual response to anything was “Oh gawd,” often followed by a little chuckle. I didn’t understand her little sayings either. Hearing the eulogy yesterday I appreciated her in a different way. I saw the silly little sayings as part of who she was. I think some of it was a product of her time and her way of making life interesting. I guess when you grow up in a remote farm there’s a need for that. Something our modern world with its technology and fast pace wouldn’t be able to appreciate so much.

When she’d say something that to me sounded odd, my partner would look at me and say, “Have you never heard that saying before.” No. I hadn’t. I didn’t grow up here, I miss a lot of cultural references. At least with things like “It’s going straight to the pool room.” I could watch the movie and understand it. Yesterday I had the funeral service to build more context for the sayings that made little sense to me at the time. It helped me understand who she was in ways I didn’t when she was alive.

We went to the viewing before the funeral, a chance to have a private, open-casket good-bye. I thought there’d be a few people there but it was just us, my partner’s mom and sisters, and brother-in-law. None of them had experienced this before. They were all a bit freaked out at the idea of seeing her dead. I was impressed, she looked very peaceful. It was a nice way for them all to see her looking better than she did in the hospital with tubes and stuff coming out of her. It can give a sense of relief to see a loved one who’s passed, without suffering, and even with out life as sad as it is.

I felt honoured to be able to share the grief with the family, this family I have become part of in the last 10 years. They never questioned my presence or role at the funeral and found myself sitting in the front row next to my partner who was next to her Mom, the other sisters didn’t want to be in the front. The pallbearers looked very smart as they carried the coffin over to the frame above the open ground. I swear the coffin would have weighed more than she did. She was a tiny woman with a big personality despite how unassuming she was. It still feels weird to refer to her in the past tense.

I didn’t go to my grandmother’s funeral. She died a couple of years after I came back to Australia. It was sad that my reality at the time meant it wasn’t affordable to fly back to Canada. But when I think of it now I could have asked the family to fly me back, if it was really important to me. At the time I guess I felt like it wasn’t or maybe I wasn’t.

Grieving Glad was a blessing. It felt a bit like I got to grieve my own grandmother as well as who Glad was in my life. I think I let go of a bunch of other stuff or at least released some of the sadness that had been sitting in me, unexpressed. Being able to grieve with the family at a time where sadness is appropriate felt like a gift. The domain the family primarily operates from is the physical and I’ve struggled in the past being comfortable expressing my emotional self among them. It felt good to be able to cry together. Especially sitting in the front row as the tiny coffin was brought onto the silver frame above the hole in the earth.

At the end of the service people were given a chance to pay their final respects, a basket of flowers and a tin tub of grain was available for people to put on the coffin. It had been lowered a bit but not right down, even that was an emotional thing to watch. It gave the reality of her being put in the ground a sharp edge but still respectful. We went up, took a flower and tossed it on top of the beautiful flower arrangement already on the coffin. And tossed some grain in, likely grown on the farm where she lived. It reminded me of how she was part of the great undeclared pillar of Australia that is its primary producers, growing food for our tables. It’s amazing how you can appreciate things in death in ways that life doesn’t seem to offer. It inspires me to make the most of my life, my relationships, and appreciate who each of them are while we are here, in life.

42 Things I am grateful for

42 random and not so random things I am grateful for at this particular moment, not in order of importance, sort of.
Emma – for SO many things, loving me unconditionally, learning from our relationship has been pivotal in shaping my self development and practise. This is incredibly valuable to me.
Dad – being able to get to know him as an adult and the time we share fortnightly.
Mom – for giving me my life and shaping who I am today.
Paula – for being my mirror and a guide for my future physiology and being an amazing support all my life especially now that i’m here and my mom is in Canada.
Sally – For challenging me so respectfully, helping me grow in a way that really works for me.
My dogs – for constant companionship and taking me to my sanctuary daily, among the big old gum trees along the creek.
My motorbike – for the thrill and power as I ride.
Kombucha – for keeping my gut healthy and giving me a new hobby!
iPhone insurance – for being able to replace my missing phone within days. Massive gratitude, SO worth the money!
My garden– as chaotic as it is, it managed to give me some beautiful clematis blooms on my birthday IMG_0248
My clients – for the ability to earn a living doing what I love and know I’m good at plus the opportunity to see you as my mirrors and my teachers
My health – especially when I was feeling unwell they day before an important facilitation gig, being able to function as a half decent facilitator felt like the response I was hoping for as I offered to listen more deeply to what my body wanted.
Podcasts – for broadening my horizons and deepening my understanding.
new friends – particularly Fiona and Fleassy, you two have been a real treasure to me this year.
Anne Hunter – for being an awesome business partner and brilliant colleague, knowledgeable, skilled and talented! Sure have benefited massively from all this with YRT this year!
Self awareness – recognising traits like ambivert, pedant.. etc.
Mirror Theory – integrating all aspects of myself, especially those i despise the most and criticise others for!
Flexibility – by willingness to blend ambition with reality. I have 18 things on this list of 42 which may grow later on.

Added Oct 23 (which is still my birthday in Canada!)

Baby Birthday Greetings! – I got two messages from a 4 month old (Fleassy’s Kaia) and from Lily (Emma’s sisters daughter, my niece)! CUTENESS OVERLOAD!
Bag of Love – Emma came home from Gridiron training with a bag of all my fave things from the supermarket, not just treats but healthy stuff too! She knows me well after 9 years!
Future of Leadership Conference – And Rola for connecting me to it, this event is what lead to both the big facilitation gigs I got this year
Retainer – being on retainer is awesome. So pleased my facilitation gig from earlier this year lead to being put on retainer to coach and mentor the new team leaders!
Relax School – for allowing me to express who I am as a second generation team leader and all the learning that came from it and especially for the support from the poly community!
Facebook – for being the conduit that allows me to connect to the people in my life, near and far, new and old.
Walter Lee Elementary Class of 1985 – Thanks to facebook and posting a class photo from grade 5 lead to people tagging themselves through our vast network of connections and I got reaquainted with my childhood companions, first boyfriend and generated a desire to go back to Canada for a visit. I plan to go there in July 2015 for our 30 year reunion! Wow do i feel old but excited to reconnect to that part of my youth!
Entrepreneurial Success! – This financial year I earned more from my business than I did from side jobs, for the first time since I started my business 5 years ago! This feels like a massive achievement and has resulted in the Take the Leap workshop to share what I’ve learned.

Emotional Intelligence

I experienced an emotional catharsis yesterday morning that has lead to some interesting reflections and social media dialogue. Where it came from is inconsequential but the expression of the pain really had me present to how alone I feel in my emotions, how I trust very few people to hold the space for my pain, to support me in a way that really works for me.

I thought about what I wanted. And how I could communicate that. I did some writing and some relevant and timely posts came up on Facebook that I reposted, sharing a bit of what I was experiencing which started an interesting conversation. What follows is some of that, as well as a response to a question a friend asked me. I’ve edited it to make it more clear and expand a bit on what I meant.

When I’m having a big emotion, a difficult, painful feeling, I usually feel most comfortable being alone. I’d love to be able to share this stuff more and to feel supported not just in principle but in a way that feels fulfilling, like I’ve really been gotten, understood.

How people typically deal with difficult and painful emotions is often with a response that leaves me feeling pitied, ugh! And we have a terrible compulsion to console. I DO NOT WANT TO BE CONSOLED or PITIED! I’m sure it’s stuff I’ve done to others in response to big emotions but I’m looking at it from what do I really want when I’m upset? And maybe I can start doing that more for others.

I want the strength and courage it takes to express and release this emotion to be acknowledged and I would love to find more people who I trust to hold the space for me to do that. Is that too much to ask?

From Facebook

For me, expressing the pain that came up for me this morning was about honouring an emotion that emerged. It’s taken me years to move from being numb to emotionally reactive (simply reacting to emotions), to emotionally aware (being aware of how I’m feeling-still working on this one!) to being emotionally responsive, where I can choose how I respond to emotions that come up, especially if I feel safe to express it and let it go. I’ve been getting better at being aware and letting go, it’s an ongoing journey. But that’s just me, on my own, dealing with my own stuff in the safety of my own holding and self love. I want to be able to share these emotions, yet often when I’m around others, I suppress them. I want to feel safe asking for support. That feels unrealistic and fleeting.

We seem to be so focused on being ‘positive’ that we eschew the real raw emotional stuff that comes up and tend to come back with things like 1) “It’s going to be ok.” (Said it myself to others heaps) and I’m not in doubt of that at all, and 2) generally trying to make our friends ‘feel better’ to avoid our own discomfort with big feelings.

I want to be acknowledged for the courage it takes to feel the pain openly, and to feel like it’s ok to express it, to honour it fully. I look forward to the day when our society is more emotionally open and intelligent. Until then, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and honouring my feelings in the best way I can and asking those around me to work with me on creating safety to express stuff as it arises.

I hope this is coherent. If I let my perfectionist self take over, I’d totally rework it and drastically diminish the changes of this being published. So here you go, imperfect as it is.

First Confest

My Confest was a delightfully relaxing experience. I gave two workshops, attended two and did some work as a volunteer. Beyond that I was able to completely let go of the need to organise, facilitate, coach, or be switched on to all that was going on around me other than to be a good friend to my friends, connect with new people and have great conversations.

As much as it had been described to me by friends who knew I’d want to go, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t expect such density. I expected a bit more nudity, and a few more outlandish costumes (maybe that’s a different festival) but I didn’t expect so many tents so close together. 

I mentioned to a friend that I went to the bush to get away but usually there aren’t that many humans around. I experienced having far more people around than I’m used to, especially working for myself and spending lots of time working from home. Perhaps that’s what had me go into a bit of introvert mode. A bit overwhelming, not in a bad way, lots of lovely things and people to see and experience but taking it all in, well, that’s a feat I’ll leave to my subconscious! 

Hanging Out With an Amazing Toddler

I had an opportunity to spend some time with little Diddle, the daughter of a friend, for a couple hours as her parents spent quality time together at the massage tent. I got to be on the edge of the love bestowed upon her as she went around melting hearts with her adorable self. She’s 20 months and very independent.

I was super impressed when we came back from our walk (where she completely forgot about her parents absence) and she helped me pack down my tent. She took the pegs out of the ground (knowing she was capable after seeing her pull up the solar lights stakes the day before) put them in the peg bag, took things out of my tent that I asked for and when I handed her an empty biscuit tray and asked her to hang on to it for recycling, she took it over to the bag I’d put other recycling in and put it in there on her own volition, she’s not even 2 yet! Smart one!

Self Organised Chaos

It felt like a real see saw of letting go and self organisation. There were lots of dirty dishes left in the communal kitchen waiting for someone else to do them or when the person who put them there got back to them, eventually. 

People came to let go and be free to be themselves, express parts of themselves they feel inclined to. It could be their nature loving self, magical self, yogi self, primitive skills self, mud tribe self, conspiracy theorist, peacenik, nudist, masseur, drummer, dancer, fire tender, tarp erector, gate keeper, the list is endless but you won’t find much in the way of the corporate self, the suit wearing, conformist, duty bound, obliged employee. This is what many people come to Confest to escape. Some, strictly based on appearance and stereotyping, it appears, that was never their world. I noticed myself looking at them, wondering how they earn a living. And then, told myself to let go of assumptions and judgment. But I still wonder.

What else did I learn. Oh yes, when i was so chilled and relaxed a few people asked me if i was ok, my response was that this is what being relaxed looks like. I didn’t feel compelled to fit into social norms about polite conversation and engagement, I simply allowed myself to be. To be introverted, to be with out an agenda and wander around the site checking out the various spaces, meeting random people, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years. It was lovely to connect with people and share with them that it was my first time at Confest.

Many looked at me with disbelief. Many expected I’d be a seasoned Confester. And it’s true, there’s a big part of me that is an earth loving hippie that craves community beyond the confines of normal society. 

And there’s a part of me that has made assumptions that once I go to Confest, I won’t be able to re-discover that corporate suit wearing part of me. Oh, do I even want to find that part of myself? Well, there’s a place for it, as much as there’s a place for the self organised chaos of Confest, there is a place for the office towers of disengaged workers and occasional pockets of innovative and creatives businesses. 

I do want to work with them, I do want to help the disengaged workers alter the culture of their workplace, and inspire new ways of doing business. So I don’t need to let that go, and I can put on the suit (like the women at FOW) if it feels like the thing that will help me support a company to change the culture that will help bring some of the self organising creativity that confest is known for. Even if it’s only a drop, as we know a single drop of oil can significantly alter a bucket of water. 

Will I return next year and let my freak flag fly, you can count on it. 

5 Learnings and a Reflection from FUTURE OF WORK Conference

I attended the Future of Work Conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre recently. It was a gathering of a diverse array of organisational psychologists, researchers, co-working enthusiasts, tech junkies, futurists, employers of choice, entrepreneurs, educators and students.

There were about 200 people in attendance and took advantage of all the mod cons of events. Several keynote speakers were present, not via satellite but via Cisco’s teleconferencing technology. They were sponsors and as a result were able to see and hear Guy Kawasaki, Lynda Gratton, and Dave Evans the Futurist from the USA and UK.

The hashtag for the conference, #FOW2014 was prominently displayed and tweets posted on screens outside the plenary room. These days it’s normal for people to be at a talk and be paying attention to a glowing screen in their lap rather than the speaker. Tweeting quotes from the presentation, posting pictures of slides, even asking questions and having dialogue with other participants. This was new for me and I got right into it, more on that shortly, but first, my learnings.

FOW Conference – that’s my blonde head in the middle.

Some of the things I learned:

1) With advances in nano technology and medicine we’ll likely start to live even longer. Organs are already being generated using donor tissue and 3D printers. WEIRD! 

What does this mean for human relationships? Perhaps we’ll start to question the validity and modern relevance of monogamy even more, brining my relationship coaching for opening up to multiple relationships even more in demand. How exciting, sort of! 

Note to self: Let go of the last shreds of shame and caginess associated with incorporating this skill into my professional repertoire.

2) Even when there are forward thinking ideas that go beyond divisiveness, once a discussion on collective intelligence gets oriented around the lack of diversity and inequality, discussion can easily get bogged down in the wrongness aspect of right and wrong. 

Note to Organisers: Be clear about the desired outcomes of a session so that session facilitators are empowered and enabled to steer the conversation towards productive discussion before it goes down the rabbit hole. And participants can balance spontaneously generated responses without taking it on a track that goes way off topic and brings down the whole room. 

3) Twitter is a great way to have conversations during plenary sessions. I am generally not a big tweeter but have found events to be the place I seem to engage most and this conference took my tweeting to a whole new level. Initially tweeting quotes or concepts from a talk, then reflections and questions. 

I especially enjoyed watching the person in front of me retweeting me from their iPad mini! The questions and reflections of other participants were fascinating and particularly questions from @JWatersLynch. The dialogue generated from that was rich and provocative. Another pleasant surprise, when I managed to start including the twitter handle of the speakers, I found I got responses and gratitude for my tweets, it sure makes the world feel smaller and more connected when you can engage at that level! 

Note to Organisers: Include speakers twitter handle and hashtags in presentation/session title slides. 

4) Emailing people you met with a personal note about your interaction is an important follow up action. In one interaction I learned that Google Plus is the social media of business, and a place to put a bit more attention to. Sadly I’ve been unable to incorporate it into Hootsuite. Another interaction I mentioned a company doing similar work to the person so I sent him the name of the company and offered to introduce him to my contact there. I love being a connector. Feels good to bring people together and be completely unattached to the outcome! 

5) When presenter doesn’t purport to have all the answers and asks the audience, it beautifully generates interaction and cultivates wisdom from the group. I loved having the opportunity to contribute when the question of how to make it safe for a group to talk about difficult issues. I just finished teaching a course where the unanimous feedback about our ability to create safety in the group was affirming and heartwarming. 

I piped up with ‘creating a group agreement’ and ‘modeling vulnerability’ to give the group permission to be vulnerable. For example to ensure we stick to the timeline and intention I might cut off a conversation, that’s hard to do, and is a courageous and vulnerable act that has potential risk for the group and my credibility as a facilitator.

It’s something I don’t take lightly. In the past I’ve done it quite delicately yet it was not well received. Since then I’ve had that in the back of my mind when I step in to end a discussion. Thankfully it doesn’t stop me but I’m present to the risk and feel vulnerable doing it. In response to the presenter asking the audience, I talked a bit about powerful vulnerability and how it creates space for transformative moments in groups. This is something I’m quite passionate about. I loved the speakers response, wanting to quote what I just said for the book she’s writing! Can you say ‘ego boost’?!?!

At the end of the conference I was approached by someone looking for a facilitator. We had a conversation that felt like a strong lead. I am delighted and will be following that one up on Monday. Update: I have a meeting next week to find out about the scope to form a proposal. Thrilled with this outcome! 

Last thing of note. Women are caught in a fashion trap. Two of the presenters, one keynote, another in a break out session, appeared to be dressing for the perceived opinions of others. It really felt like they wore what they thought would be acceptable or expected rather than something that expressed their style and personality. This was disappointing on a number of levels. I felt sad for them and wondered what they’d wear if they felt more free to be themselves. I found the attire distracting, noting ill fitting pants or what appeared to be an intentionally let down hem line that was trimmed with lace, antithetical to the stark lines of the styling. 

Why? Why do women who are clearly in positions of power, being asked to speak at a leading conference, why do they still think they have to please someone else? 

I was also disappointed in the feeling that I didn’t have more allies in my recent decision to let go of other expectations and wear what feels right to me. I want more women to express themselves for their own sake, for what has them feeling great, rather than stuff themselves into some preconceived notion of what they should look like. Really, if that’s not the future, I don’t want to go there. Let’s create a future of acceptance, of personal leadership, of pushing the boundaries, respectfully while expressing who we are. It’s our own uniqueness that is a critical part of what we have to offer the world. Let’s step into that fully. If that’s not powerful vulnerability, I don’t know what is!! I admire the people who can wear clothes that augment their individuality and remain stylish. I want more of that in the workplace! 

In essence what I learned is that the future is coming at us, and fast! And that its up to us to create our future, both in terms of how we as a society, relate to technology or integrate it in a way that advances our social development and in terms of getting clear about what we want to do with ourselves and finding ways to make that work. My own entrepreneurial journey has been a profound learning journey and I continue to try new things and learn from them and come up against my own perceived limits and clash against my beliefs about being able to earn a living doing what I love. But ultimately the conference affirmed for me that as the future hurtles toward us, it’s up to me to find my way, and make my way into the world of work, doing what I love and loving what I do. 

Next Steps in Exploring the Mind

It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by how our minds work, what motivates change and the power of our subconscious mind. So it won’t surprise you to know that I recently trained as a hypnotherapist. Many of us know how to take really good care of ourselves, we’ve done the courses, learned the skills, and down our own research, yet often we don’t do what we know to do to maintain optimal health and wellbeing. Why?

What part of us neglects our self-love regime and sits in front of the TV eating crap? It seems so contrary to the image of our competent adult-self that makes wise choices, nurturing our self-esteem and standing in our power. We are more influenced by our surroundings and upbringing than we know, yet we need not be confined to limiting beliefs that sit beneath the level of our conscious awareness. subconscious

There are many ways to release ourselves from the grip of this conditioning. I have explored many of them. The one I am really interested in right now is, surprise, surprise, hypnotherapy!  It allows for direct communication with the subconscious mind. The part that actually controls the vast majority of what we do, especially our habits. It feels mysterious, but it can be very effective. Some of the influencing factors include suggestibility, level of trance, number of sessions.

My own experience has been that I have experienced improved memory since doing the hypnotherapy course. Part of our learning was to write a hypnotic suggestion for ourselves, I wrote about improving memory, clarity of mind and being able to grasp complex concepts and easily convey them to others. Instead of needing to refer back to the specials board at Cider House, I could remember the details of the ingredients and features. I was impressed with myself! And overall, my memory and mental clarity have improved.

I have begun practising and learning about what works, using different inductions and suggestion tests (to determine hypnotizability). As I explore this territory I am offering sessions at a very low rate, just under half of my regular coaching rate. If you have something you want to know if hypnosis can help, get in touch. I do complimentary consultations for up to 20 min by phone, Skype etc. At the end of April I will be doing Thursday afternoons Thornbury and Monday mornings in Carlton for those who want to give it a go. Stay tuned for more on that and on my new website. Or contact me for a consultation.

The areas of focus I plan to pursue with this work include stress management and performance enhancement, especially for entrepreneurs and students. Watch this space!

Day 26: Earth Honoring Australia Day

January 26 is known as Australia Day. It is intended to be a celebration of the day Australia was “discovered”. Some refer to it as “Invasion Day”, reminding us that Australia has a black history. It is politically fraught with issues of colonialism, racism in history and contemporary Aussie society. Rap News did a fantastic satire that I highly recommend checking out.

What I want to talk about is a more personal take on Australia day. I recognise that the history of Australia is horrific and this is my heritage. I am gutted when I think about how the world’s oldest living culture has been and continues to be treated. How can I honour this?

I was born here, I lived in Canada most of my life and then one day about 10 years ago, the calling from my homeland became louder. A soft rumbling in my gut spoke of a hunger of another kind. One that words can scarcely describe. I was being called back to the land of my birth. And I listened.

I have been back in Australia for just over 9 years now. Although, I have my own patch of earth, I know this land doesn’t belong to me. I am a settler, here to love this patch of earth the best way I can. Sometimes that means loving myself and not tending the garden, despite how town I feel and want my inner garden to reflect my outer garden. Ultimately I am owned by this land, and she holds me, loves me, nurtures me. This week it’s with nectaries falling to the ground on warm windy days. Earth Honoring Australia Day

The spirit of the aboriginal people is still here, I see it in the ground when I walk along the creek just up the road. There is an area of ochre, white (spirit), yellow (land) and red (people). I call it rainbow ochre, where the colours blend as the land unites us with spirit. It feels like sacred ground, where I connect to spirit more deeply in the steps I take as I walk through nearly every day. This is where I usually remember to use the “I love myself mantra.” A reminder from spirit.

I give thanks to all who have created this land and made her what she is today, all her glory and scars, the thriving cities and the stark desert, the generous beauty and the violent past and present. The vast array of what this country has to offer is phenomenal. I am eternally grateful that I chose to listen to the call and that I am back here where I came from, being who I am and exploring this miraculous thing called life!

Day 25: Gratitude

Today feels auspicious, not sure why. I went for a walk this morning (after my meditation, despite my plan,) and felt really alive and present. The air was fresh and warm. I could smell the Lemon Myrtle, earthy soil, and sweet breeze. It was a beautiful day! My mantra evolved into “I love myself and I am present.” And then I’d go off into thinking about what I was going to do next, and gently brought myself back to being present. And the cycle repeats.

I started to think about all the things I’m grateful for. Gratitude practice always helps lift me up from wherever I’m at.

I’m grateful for:

  • Everything that has brought me to this point, all the trials, tribulations, joys and delights, and everything in between.
  • How I was raised, with all the freedoms I was afforded like climbing trees, wearing a batman costume. These helped me experience life without an adherence to convention or what was expected to fit into social norms. Freedom to be me. heart sky
  • A conversation with a friend who I hadn’t been in touch with for a while, helping me to see the progress I’d made and the impact taking a stand had on an important relationship.
  • My health and all I do that comes naturally and easily that are good for my body.
  • Yoga practice, stretching my limbs each morning, getting my present to the physicality of my existence.
  • My girlfriend having the magic touch that got my motorbike started!
  • Nectarines from my tree, fresh, juicy and tasty not to mention ultra-local and organic!
  • Interactions stemming from these blog posts, either in the form of comments on the posts themselves or via the facebook posts.
  • Solar panels that power my air conditioner on hot days and the ceiling fans that make a huge difference, meaning we don’t use air con as much, unless it’s really hot, upwards of 40 degrees.
  • The choices I have in my life, though at times overwhelming, gives me a freedom that I appreciate deeply.
  • All of the work I’ve done on myself that has given me the level of self awareness I have and my desire to continue to develop my relationship with myself as the foundation of all my relationships.
  • Bringing me back to this self love challenge, gratitude to Anna for posting the link to the book and to Kamal for writing it! Plus Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson for the post about the only resolution for the year being about loving yourself more.

What are you grateful for?

Day 23: Unconditioning

It’s baby day. We have had the pleasure of spending time with two different friends that both have kids under two. Both are very environmentally conscious moms using cloth nappies and parenting according to what they believe is right in combination with the research they’ve done, not just what they learned by default from their own parents. I really appreciate that. How else are we going to progress our conditioning from bad to slightly less bad?

One of the moms was saying ‘yes’ to her child a fair bit. She explained that she was aware of how much kids hear the word ‘no’ and for many it’s one of the first words they learn. Sure, they’re differentiating themselves, learning boundaries and asserting their power. All of that is really important but perhaps there’s a balance to be struck. Learning to love ourselves includes saying no and having clear boundaries AND it’s also about saying yes, yes to ourselves, yes to receiving love and contribution from others and saying yes to life.

We learn to limit ourselves so quickly. We are conditioned to respond to limitation and curtail our expression from a very young age. Our parents thought they were teaching us how to safely and respectfully be in the world, to fit in, to behave appropriately. We also learned that we can’t have what we want, can’t express our desires and of course many of babyTus interpret it ever further to believe we can’t be who we are. So how the hell are we supposed to be authentic. What does that even mean? We are conditioned to move so far away from the essence of who we are that we spend the rest of our lives trying to find out who we are at our core, the long process of rediscovering ourselves, letting go of conditioning, baggage and false notions of who we think the world wants us to be.

Perhaps this is the human journey, perhaps it is what we are here to learn. To forget who we are and rediscover ourselves. What would it be like if we didn’t forget? Who would we be if we didn’t have to spend so much time rediscovering ourselves? Imagine what we could achieve if all (or even some) of that was out of the way and we were encouraged from birth to fully step into our authentic selves, valued for the unique, wild, wonderful and exquisite beings that we are! Would it be chaos? Would it be a harmonious existence that enabled the development of new ways of being on earth that was starkly different from the existence we have now? What would the planet look like?

I wonder if we would grow up loving ourselves and not have to spend time learning how to do that as an adult. Can you imagine?