Changing the phrase of the new year

Happy new year…..

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Is ‘happy new year’ an apt phrase to usher in the new year? How about ‘I welcome the new year, one with love, laughter, loss, sadness, fears, excitements, triumphs and gains… and I welcome it all’.

In reflection of the previous year, I honour everything that occurred. I have been fortunate to have tremendous things occur in so many areas of my life that I give thanks to with a full and loving heart. I also have room in the same valves of my heart for an appreciation of the harder experiences that have allowed my supposed edges get pushed even more expansive.

As I embrace the new year, I have a tendency to want to start the year perfect. Perfect words, perfect actions, perfect intentions and perfect results. Life’s too playful for this. Forgotten what it feels like to play freely in the mud? Without knowing that this was considered dirty. Free from judgement, labels or a desire to wash right away. The unknowing is part of what I honour with the new year.

I am more thankful for my vulnerabilities and insecurities as I remember my humanness and thus this opens me up to relate to others humanness. We all have dark crevices within, however it is not our defining feature. Nurturing the self is the remedy to soothe these unwanted insecurities. By doing so, offers an invitation to others to also help with the remedy for ourselves as well for others to soothe theirs.

What are your intentions for the new year? Grand, abstract or lack personal fire?

Fresh winds will come and let you know what is right for you. Press your face against them, that is all that is needed. It knows your beautiful face from sight, feeling and an inner call.

Silence, pausing and allowing which can be considered inaction are essential to hearing your wind call your name. Like pollutants to the environment , our frustrations and negativity need to be turned into lasting renewable energies to light the world with love and peace. What else is there really?

Reading the fine print

As I laid in bed last night, a major epiphany came to me while reading like a light up runway yearning for its plane to land. I am currently exploring the concept of love and I am finding self love to be continually making a grand appearance in all different areas and loves being the centre of attention when looking for what love is. So how do I make sense of this?

The passage assisting this revelation states: ‘When you try to change people, they do not feel loved by you. If anything, they feel judged and rejected. Love does not seek to change people, because love does not find fault in a person’s true essence. Love can help a person to grow and to bring out the best in him or her; but you will not see any of this if you do not love the person unconditionally in the first place. The paradox of love is that when you stop wanting each other to change, you are changed, and this change enables you to love each other more.’ (Book: Loveability by Robert Holden)

By dropping expectations, perceptions and conditions, love can be pure. Rather than trying to be structurally sound and contained, love can freely move like a wave or wind and how sweet to be delighted in its awesome power and brilliance to captivate and move us beyond imagined.

Sometimes I have question my ability to love unconditionally all the time. Looking back the message often received about love entailed ‘You are loveable if or when…..(do well in school, not fight with your brother (ahem Charlie), listen to what we say). The commonality of this love, is one based on conditions, like skipping over the tiny fine print of a contract, this is often the most important detail in many relationships.

‘Conditional love isn’t freely given, it has to be earned, deserved or won’. The drive is to work this out is so strong as love can outpower any other secondary irrelevant thing. Although this can get even more complicated as the conditions often change from person to person and the diligent student has no set curriculum to learn for when the test comes. Some conditions are shown to be worthwhile e.g. not harming others, personal hygiene, not lighting things on fire etc. Although despite these conditions, a sense of unconditional love prevails as the other is seen to be infinitely more than those actions they carry out.

With this in mind, I choose to be aware of the conditions and let them dissipate bit by bit when with others and as well as choosing this for myself. When will I start loving myself fully? …. next week, year, retirement? When I choose to love myself without conditions and with open arms? No moment like the present and then the ripple affect will flow like an overflown stream to all the the lakes in my life.

Does love have more than 4 letters?

In the last few months, things started to come up in my relationship that made me question things. What was going wrong?

I felt pretty committed and felt I cared a lot about the relationship. But I didn’t know what to do. Despite trying hard, nothing could resuscitate things. I called in the surgeon and asked for help but what happens if the patient decides to go against medical advice given? What if the patient didn’t have the resolve to go through the intrusive surgery? Is it elective? I believe that no matter what kind of break up happens in a relationship, there is never enough anesthetic to ease the pain.

I am quite a loyal person and realised with time that the end of the relationship did not mean failure. I could actually choose to gain insight and light the path with love and openness to appreciate what had been and what needed to be learnt. So I decided to join a relationship class, with humility in one hand and a notebook in another, I sought answers to many questions I didn’t even realise I had.

Like the foundation of a building, a relationship had pillars that formed the basis to keep it structurally sound. The first pillar consisted of attentive presence. This meant being fully present when around your significant other. This is a reoccurring message of the importance of focused attention and I know the value of this especially when around others and how it can make a difference to feeling connected with someone in any area of life. Ok at times this can be difficult, but with more mindfulness I know this is something that can be achieved.

The next pillar was appreciation. Like watering a plant, each drop is representative of a thought or an expression of appreciation for the other person, which can only multiply and expand. Such things that can be appreciated varies from person to person i.e. a beautifully cooked meal, a thoughtful card, fixing your bicycle, taking the garbage out etc. There is even a math equation to working this formula of appreciation out. The 5:1 rule consists of 5 complements of appreciation to 1 complaint. Why? Never can you feel underappreciated with this winning equation. Feelings of love, trust and companionship can only foster.

The next sturdy support beam is acceptance. Rather than trying to accept the other person, a more poignant question needs to be asked. If I am getting annoyed with the other person and cannot fully accept them, do I actually fully accept myself with nuturance and love? Am I wearing hand me down negative repetitive thoughts that no longer fit or look good? How can I encourage nuturance and build my own self worth? Bring the light on with what is happening within and find the soulmate of acceptance, that is pure listening. How? Well allowing someone to fully speak their truth, hearing facts and feelings and asking if the person would like to add anything more to help fully understand what they are sharing. This will enable a more fluid conversation (not monologue or assumptions to take place – when not wanted) to take its place.

Moving over…. the next pillar is affection, such a nice word. Affection is a way of giving and receiving love. This includes gestures that are uplifting and inspiring to keep the juice going.  Again the more you attend to being affectionate, the more this will grow. Love can be expanded and cultivated, such a sweet beautiful thing that can be accessed anytime and to anyone.

The final pillar is allowing, where a sense of freedom is felt at all times. Can I express myself the way I would like to without fear of judgement, reprisal or negative emotion? Do I have a sense of autonomy? Are my feelings and wishes consulted with when making a decision? Note a person who wants to control another, comes from a fear of being who they truly are. Fights, name calling and walking out from a conversation are all red flags. When we can truly see each other as fully loving and creative beings, then can we freely move as ourselves in freedom, joy, love, peace and sharing. Then are we fully known, deeply loved and profoundly valued.

Grateful for the lesson… grateful to share.

Soulful Sunday

Sunday morning’s routine now consists of waking up and riding two buses to attend a spiritual centre in Vancouver. There is a meditation circle 40 minutes before the service, which despite numerous attempts to make it, I just couldn’t get there. Though today I rode my bike there and was even early, so I got my dose of blissful time and was ready for this week’s service. Right away I noticed something different! The usual married Irish ministers who ooze with love were absent. Soon after I was told they were in Ireland attending a wedding. How dare they :) I was sad but quickly realised they did have a life that extended beyond the weekly Sunday service.

I was also informed a guest speaker – Johnathon Michael would be presenting today about relationships. Always eager to learn more about this area, as I do not believe I can ever know too much about this. So Johnathon took the stage and his authenticity could be felt right away. Despite the broad topic of relationships, Johnathon did not limit the area to romantic relationships, which I thought he would have. Johnathon shared how relationships within our lives can really add so much that we may not really be aware of its extent.

Johnathon said there were three main relationships that are the most important in one’s life. The first relationship is with a mentor. Quick history lesson, the word mentor originated after a person named Mentor who had a child in his care for their educational purpose. The quality needed to seek a mentor is humility. Why? Because you must be humble to want to learn from others and know that others have something to teach you things which can be valuable. As Socrates said only once you are full of hunger and thirst, then can your needs be satisfied. Who are my mentors? I could think of a couple, however I don’t spend much time with them…. ok I am seeing how this could be important.

The next important relationship is friendships and companionship (including romantic partners). This has more equal footing, where there is more giving and receiving at a similar level. The question he asked is “Are the people you surround yourself supportive of the true person you are and do they support the direction you are heading in?” The quality to bring to these relationships is intention. The intention of surrounding yourself with unconditional love, support and powerful allies. Slowly getting there.

The final area…I was eager to know…. your relationship to mentor others. Johnathon said “How many times do you go to a talk, watch a video or have a great insight and then do not share this with anyone?” I was reminded of the importance of sharing your truth with love and respect with others. This relationship requires the principal of generosity. Perhaps rather than thinking “What do they want?”, the question could be asked “What can I give?” So on that final point, this is what I can give… some great advice to ponder for the week.

Am I a little too covered up?

Something is in the air. Oh that feeling when you feel summer around the corner. Flowers seem to be blossoming oh so bright, a glow oozes from your pores and a smile finds its way on your face unexpectedly.

Could it be nature’s way of reminding us to give thanks for beauty in life? A reminder that darkness and turbulent times will go and the sun will shine again?

I would say yes. I see the optimism when the sun comes out with people who dress as though its the middle of summer (despite the chill in the air) to remember to always look forward to the brightness in nature, in people and in life. 

Though I know the rain will come back, I know to try and let go, life is much sweeter when you do.

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Where is my Zen?

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On some days, I choose to remember this saying – Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish opinions (Zen saying). The reason this pops into my mind, is when I am trying to decide something and the more I think about it, the more I have trouble trying to decide. I start thinking what would ………. (fill in the blanks) do if they were in this situation, what would ………. say if they were here, or what would ……… think if I went ahead and did that?

Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish opinions, is a beautiful reminder that we do need to constantly pretend to know what another person would do, think or say in a particular instance. Why have I allowed this to be more important that checking in with me? Aren’t the things I do, say or think just as important?

Seeking other people’s opinions had begun to be developed at an early age, when children start to be trained to hear good job or good girl for guidance of what they should be doing. Then continued with trying to impress friends, get your teachers approval or some affection from a love interest. Oh how tiring this can be.

This has all made its way to the centre of my focus this week. As I move towards seeing what makes me happy and knowing this is not the same for everyone and that I do not need to conform nor anyone else when they feel they are living in a place of happiness. All our puzzle pieces are somewhat different. When we choose to try and get our different puzzle pieces trying to fit elsewhere, it feels like a train becoming derailed as it moves away from its destination of home.

Try reconnecting with yourself if you feel this and start small. Do you really want a coffee in the morning? Would going for a long walk just give you the energy you need? Give that special friend a call that you really miss?

The world is truly yours and it is your choice of how you want to inhabit it. Stay planted and grow with all your might, some weeding may be needed.

How can you reconnect with yourself?

With love and equilibrium,

Natalie

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Oh how nice it is to be alive now! Why? Well, let’s look back only one or two generations ago when you were considered a hippy, lazy or unreliable if you decided to follow your bliss and not settle for anything less. Times have changed when we are not longer expected to stick it out and work in a job that is like a dull numbing headache.

We are moving into a space of possibilities, now pushing boundaries even further to release the self imposed gaol/jail sentence. Who would have thought we were our own punisher? It may be the Stockholm Syndrome, when we actually have feelings of sympathy and empathy for what is beating us, threatening or intimidating us. However, magic is happening as it is refreshing to know that despite some anxieties and negative old patterns that may still come up from time to time, we can bask in the warm sunlight of possibility, strength and fulfilment. Aren’t your insides warming up?

Of recent, I have noticed all of this is not only happening within myself, but a growing allegiance of determined, spirit seekers harassing their power and opening up to what they previously thought was only a dream. We are no longer alone hiding in our cell or cubicle riding it out, as the path on the rat wheel is getting monotonous. The power comes when are souls come together for the most important conversation with rawness, honesty and hope that moves us all from strangers to a community interdependent on one another in realizing what we are here for.

It may surprise you how many people are in your shoes. Share, be and love while you connect with others as the lines of separateness and other are being dissolved and washed away. What now stands is a sense of vulnerability, aliveness and feeling that you can be yourself anytime and this opens up and invites others to do the same thing.

How will you do this?

What “Miss Moss” was trying to tell me.

In one of my first coaching sessions, I was asked to think about the past when I let negative thoughts, feelings, actions and inactions take over me. Didn’t take long :) And once I had done this, I was to try and look at this as an entity – a pet, person or a thing and then have the fun with giving this a name. So after some contemplation, I decided to name the side of me I often pretended wasn’t there, “Miss Moss”.

Why you may ask? Since I aptly named this blog “The Garden of Nat”, I began to notice that this side also grew in my garden, but a little differently to how the other plants were. This plant ‘moss’ grew only in darkness and when the light was shone on the moss, it actually stopped growing. By turning the light on, I was able to get Natalie and “Miss Moss” on better terms with each other, rather than being enemies.

And so in a conversation with my brother the other day, I started recalling how my week had been. I had explained what I learnt about communication http://nataliesgarden.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/art-of-war/ and how I joined a leadership group with an organization called Acumenfund. After a little while, I was asked to think about some things I had been getting annoyed about specifically to communication. I said one pet peeve I have is when the person I am speaking with is very argumentative, not listening to what I have to say, is not being open minded and not open to new ideas etc. As quick as that, my brother said underneath that is a value that is important but you cannot see because of the annoyance you are feeling and also because its not really socially acceptable to just come out and say it. What is it??? You have a strong need to be right. Gulp! No defences…yeah (small voice), I do. “Well that’s not a problem, its how you go about doing it that can be”. Really? “Well, if you are trying to be always right in your relationship, then you will continually face the same issues. Your desire to be right cannot be fulfilled just from your relationship, it needs to come from more places in your life. How about going to trivia (I do like that), learning something you are interested in and feel you are more educated in it so you have that feeling of being right”. Double gulp! This definitely rang true and was important for me to be aware of this, otherwise this need will never be fulfilled by another person and I will keep trying to fit that circle puzzle piece in the square hole.

Ok I felt he was a magician and wondering what was going to come out of the hat next. So I kept on. Well, I get pretty frustrated when I see people treated unfairly or as an insubordinate. “Why?” Well, I like to see everyone as connected and don’t think anyone should put themselves above anybody else. “So you want everyone to be validated”… Yeah…well I guess I can see how that applies to me, as I do want the same thing for myself from others. Wow, like magic.

Lastly, I get annoyed by obnoxious people who flaunt they know it all, don’t care what other people think and don’t seem authentic in my eyes. “Well this can be about attention. It seems it may be something that is a value to you, but you haven’t really pursued. I know you go to dance classes, this can be a way for you to get attention for something you enjoy and are good at. Not a bad thing, its actually expressing itself in a great way”. As we wrapped up our conversation in the early hours of the Canadian morning, I was left with quite a few things to ponder. Such things were simple, yet so perspective changing.

I learnt that it is ok that I have the desire to be right, to be validated and get attention. Though to make this even more powerful and beautiful is to join this with my other values I can easily share such as being a communicator, connector of people and champion for others. I believe this is the yin and yang, Scooby and Shaggy and heart and soul of doing what we are meant to be doing here. Using all our qualities without labels of good or bad as each side has something so powerful and beneficial that is dependent on each other.

So I welcome the spot light on Miss Moss and allowing some of her to continue to grow in the darkness, as long as she is landlocked by sun loving plants as a balance in my garden, means a balance in my life.

If you had the chance to name your other side, what would it be?

Art of war

I have felt so honoured and blessed to have the ability to write these posts, where I can share so openly and honestly with people who care, receptive and loving.

What fueled me to start writing this was a love that started as a child when I learnt the beauty and eloquence of unassuming letters on a page that can transform into a beautiful alchemy of storytelling. It’s been a great experience to use the art form of communication to pen many ideas, thoughts and experiences. At the same time, this has led me to question whether I was seeing communication in a way that wasn’t true. Is communication actually a dance rather than an artform?

Sometimes it felt that if I missed one step, then I ruined an entire sequence of beautifully choreographed dance moves. Could it have been because I had not been practicing enough? Or did I need a choreographer to help me? Or did I just not know the dance? All I knew is that I did not want to give up, as I had a taste on many occasions the beautiful sight of the dance of communication coming together so fluidly and beautifully, that mesmerised my entire being.

So I began to look more closely at how I had been communicating this week and determine whether I actually expressing what I really wanted to. I thought back to the many times I had seen this word ‘communication’ and what I knew about it. I did know it was the key to many healthy and happy relationships. I also knew many relationships had issues if they did not communicate. Though in looking at all I knew, I realised I lacked a real practical definition that showed how to do this so both people were able to share themselves in a way that was positive and beneficial on a regular basis.

I soon jumped back to the overused format of what I believed communication to be and I told the other person that I did not like what they were telling me and I stopped listening to what they had to say. I say overused because I see this happen frequently either directly to a person or more commonly when a person is not around, free negative communication flows to whoever is listening (I’m no angel). I now see that I have a bigger role in the way I had been feeling than any other person could.

As despite despising war, I felt I had joined an army that specialized in defending points of view. I had taken the viewpoint that my battle plan was 1) I had to be right 2) Make the other person see this 3) Repeat steps when next battle erupted. And although these battles were not frequent, I definitely saw them occurring more than what was beneficial. So in my moment of rightness (or wrongness) I chose to put down my shield and look at the situation with more neutral eyes. Come to think of it when I stopped playing war hero, I could see the supposed battle was not that and discussion could rightfully take its place. I know I have a right to assert my views but also know when to bury them when they were no longer served me. I know I still have the connection with who I am communicating with, despite not always agreeing with them – which is why we are drawn to people who are in some way different from us. I know I still see the person I love in the haze of the smoke cloud.

And so I look at this week as something that has brought me closer to myself and my supposed opposition. I realised that life keeps giving you exactly what you need on this journey and when you get tired of doing the same routine, there is a beautiful dance just around the corner.

Any thoughts come up for you about communication?

How do I know I am a woman?

The past few days have been emotionally turbulent. It’s as though a torrent barraged unexpectedly into my life. In hindsight I find it funny how I did not notice such drastic changes in the way I was feeling, until it became an onslaught and I realised I was barely staying above water.

From this, I questioned the cause of my emotional sadness. Why do such things affect me in this way today, when a week prior I would not have felt the same way? Why do these emotions start to make me feel so disgruntled with everything in my life? How do these dark emotions grip me so tightly?

I then remembered that my menstrual cycle was due soon and how such strong emotions can erupt as quick as a volcano with no prior warning system. In saying this, I also did not want to dismiss how I was feeling with such labels as “I’m being emotional”, “I’m PMS-ing”, “It’s the time of the month” etc. I didn’t want to see what I was experiencing as something that was outside of who I am or ignore what I needed to be told.

In the book ‘The Return of the Feminine: Honoring the Cycles of Nature’, Dr Rebecca Orleane states this is actually a time that asks us to surrender to rest and to nourish our mind, body and soul. She also states it is an important time to connect with other women and provide support and care during this sacred cycle. Many cultures previously (some still do) revered this time – both men and women – for women to take time out of their duties and responsibilities to nourish themselves. Women were often important decision makers and leaders in their communities who were instrumental in the maintaining the way of life for everybody and needed this time away to receive clarity in thought and reconnecting with their intuition to make such important decisions and guide their actions.

Sometimes we may feel we must have a constant state of emotions that do not fluctuate and be the same person each day. And feel something is amiss if we do not have the same thoughts, actions and way of being as the day before. But more beautifully, we are unique, complex and ever-changing creatures that go beyond rigidity and one sided-ness.

I now accept how I am feeling and reassess what has been out of balance. Come to think of it, I could have spent more time relaxing this week, could have reconnected more with my daily meditation sessions, and stress less about work. I actually now understand why my body and emotions are trying to tell me. It is a reminder to come back to my center and my guiding compass to a life of peace and purpose.

How do you experience these changes in your life as a woman? As a man what are your experiences of a woman going through this time? Do either of you feel this is a positive or negative time? Is there anything connected to the way you are feeling with things happening in your life at the moment?