Category Archives: Mindfulness

Finding Gratitude in Loss

Everyone I know seems to be grieving some form of loss from the year just been. And for some, this new year has ushered in yet more loss.

I have been writing and rewriting this post since the 1st of January, coming to a sad, hopeless end each time. It was the 7th of January that I came across this from my Instagram…. a post from a year ago when Australia was on fire…

I wasn’t sure for a moment that I believed the last few lines any more, given the year just been. I decided to put this post aside and come back to it after applying some resilience practices.

At times like this when I feel particularly despondent, I turn to the words of others. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good quote!

My first stop was Susan David’s work, Emotional Agility. I have written about this a number of times now. And I constantly share her insightful and uplifting social media posts on My Story 😊

These words struck a chord with me this re-read:

Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility.

Susan David PhD

I read and re-read these words. There is grief and loss there but there is also hope and beauty.  Can I find some gratitude in loss, I mused?

Well, yes I can.

I lost my job late last year. I grieved this loss deeply, especially all I perceived I was losing in terms of the tribe I found in my colleagues and the hopes I had built around my career projection.

In reality, I was given the gift of time to focus on making one of my dreams come true – getting Pure Spaces Education off the ground. What I’ve achieved in the last couple of months would simply never have happened if it was still business as usual. I am now working towards my true purpose.

And in reality, that tribe of colleagues I mentioned isn’t tied to geography. This tribe will outlast that workplace. We will continue to love and support each other no matter where each of us lands up 💛

I lost my freedom to travel. I still grieve this loss, but I am daily reminded of how blessed I am to be riding out the pandemic storm here in New Zealand! Deeply, deeply grateful I got to spend Christmas with my family and see in the New Year on the beach in the summer sunshine.

I lost “control” over my what and when and how…. Only to realise I never had control over any of that in the first place. I found comfort in stillness. Something I have always struggled with is stopping, letting go and just Being. This past year forced me into giving myself permission to Just Be… and it has been a game changer. It is okay to be still and wait…. In the Waiting there are often unexpected dreams come true.

Here’s a couple of quotes that helped through this time:

I said to my soul, be still and wait… so the darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing.

T. S. Eliot

To see the World in a Grain of Sand, and Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Now you might read this and think I haven’t really lost anything. It isn’t real loss I’m talking about. In answer, I’ll go back to the beginning of this post. We have all suffered loss as a result of Covid-19. All of humanity has lost something. We are all changed by this loss of “normal”. I have simply articulated a couple of examples of the loss I have felt. Each of us will have our own examples of how we are changed. I believe it is important for each of us to acknowledge this loss to ourselves, grieve it, and then we can move forward. In the moving forward my hope is that we lean into the changes and see in them opportunity. Opportunity to forge a brave, new world!

I heard a great quote the other day:

We will not go back to normal, normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal, other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends, we are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature

Sonya Renee Taylor

That is what I am hoping for this coming year. I want to be part of stitching this new garment.

So I go back to what I wrote in that post of 7 Jan 2020…Many of my dreams are about a continued journey of treading lightly, living sustainably with Mother Earth in mind. Times like this bring motivation to act on these dreams with a sense of urgency.
Hope is not lost if we all do whatever we can, no matter how small it may seem. This growing earthly-conscious collective can turn the tide. I believe this!
I do believe what I wrote then. I believe it just as applicable now as it was then.

I found gratitude and growth in loss.

Kindness

I have been learning a lot about kindness recently. I like to think I am kind. However, what I am beginning to realise is that I am kind usually when its easy or convenient. I find it easy to be kind to Nature as this is my strongest Value. I am mostly kind to those I know and love. Although I do think there are times when I am not as kind to those closest to me as I should be. Also, I feel like I can show kindness to individuals easier than to groups of people.

At present I’m in the middle of huge project, a steep learning curve. This is a chance to reinvent myself and truly change my career direction. If I get this right, a dream from my dream tin will come true. The personal stakes are high. Kindness towards myself has been essential.  But it turns out this is where I really fall apart in the kindness department.

My inner voice has been so critical, so judgemental. I wouldn’t talk to anyone like I’ve been talking to myself.

So I have had to stop and take a pause. Then get really introspective. I needed something visual to help me put kindness in some sort of perspective. This is what I came up with:

My take on kindness – a set of concentric circles with Me at the centre

It seems to me that kindness to myself establishes a strong core. If this kindness is sincere then kindness outward to kin, community, humanity and nature will be more authentic. Well, it is worth a try… but it certainly is a journey.

Getting prepared for Advent has been an appropriate time to spend on this sort of reflection. And funnily enough coincides with the arrival of #DoGoodDecember and a Kindness Calendar for the month of December from Action for Happiness.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I really have found the resources from Action for Happiness invaluable this year!

So we wind down this strange year and I set time aside from my project to focus on my Christmas rituals and traditions. One of my rituals is reflecting on the year just been and dreaming of the one to come.

I want to encourage anyone reading this of just how fallible we are when it comes to it. Fallible, and that is okay. Kindness, just like any other growth path, is something we have to choose anew every day. Thankfully, it is a grace-full universe.

The words of John O’Donohue continue to be a great comfort to me. This blessing in particular.

This is what kindness to myself looks like at the moment.

Whatever your beliefs or circumstances, I wish you space to reflect with gratitude and dream with hope. Happy Advent 🕯

New Beginnings

Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.

John O’Donohue (exerpt from ANAM CARA)

Self-care September is nearly done. As I reflect back on these past weeks, I realise the Universe gave me a gift in this month’s focus on self-care. The Action for Happiness Self-care September calendar has been a wonderful companion this month.

This has been a whirlwind month or two dealing with the fall-out of the Covid-19 impact on my professional life. This rollercoaster of emotion has left me feeling quite depleted, hence the life-line of Self-care September. I have needed to tap into that trust of my soul that Irish poet, John O’Donohue, so wisely speaks of…. I even sent myself flowers 💛

I am over the worst of it …. Now the word that resonates is bittersweet.

Bitter – grieving the loss of not working, collaborating, learning and laughing with team of incredible individuals I consider my tribe.

Sweet – the anticipation, excitement and freedom that comes with being pushed to spread my wings.

Grounded in the understanding that I am only ready for this next adventure now because of what has come before, including the past four years teaching and learning along side this same incredible team – what a joy!

I feel a great sense of significance in the timing of this new beginning. That these last days as this chapter closed also held World Rhino Day and the Spring Equinox.

Rhinos are my spirit animal. They are a symbol of assurance, confidence and steadiness – all traits I have needed in this time of increasing uncertainty.

A change of season heralds new things and spring particularly is about growth, renewal, new beginnings.

I opened with words from John O’Donohue… I am going to conclude this post with more Celtic wisdom from this great soul… this time from To Bless the Space Between Us

For A New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety,

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear,

You can trust the promise of this opening,

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning,

That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure,

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk,

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us

And so my next adventure begins… Pure Spaces Education…. coming soon!

Breathing

Back to level three lockdown here in Auckland as we grapple with our first outbreak of Covid-19 since flattening the curve.

Another chance to pause and reflect. Another reminder that nothing will be as it was before….

What do you do when you can’t go anywhere or plan your usual travel adventures?….. Relive my weekend just gone… much time on the couch attending a virtual elephant radio collaring project in South Africa followed by a virtual concert also live from South Africa – my favourite band, Prime Circle.

I re-watched the concert today…. So good as always! Prime Circle rocks!

They played one of my most favourite songs – Breathing. Then I remembered lockdown a few months ago…. Listening to that song while painting. The ellie painting in the pic above came out of that session and so I added some of the lyrics to a digital version of the artwork… this version on my visionboard.

So, it turns out a few months ago I was putting creative energy into a moment that would make complete sense in my August is for Elephants 2020.

And now I am reminded that in amongst all this chaos and uncertainty, strangely there is pattern, there is connection… even if it is just to remember to breathe, to let go and be on the journey, guided in the flow.

The universe is unfolding exactly as it should…. Trying to find stillness to tune into the intuitions and nudges of this unfolding and not get in my own way.

“I know we’ll breathe again.”

Prime Circle

Joyful June

A new month, a new Action For Happiness calendar.

I am starting with Day 10 – take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it🧡 New books to read spark so much joy for me And I have so enjoyed rediscovering my love of sketching in recent weeks.