Curiosity, and the blessings from back pain… Part One

IMG_1198.JPG‘Whichever path you take, you’ll end up where you’re meant to be.’ Di

Hello there,

I’ve been on a personal development journey for many years now, reading, listening, learning and using myself as a crash test dummy if you like, by experiencing many modalities for emotional and physical healing.
…Last year, from the most unlikely experience, it became more of a concentrated spiritual path to self-acceptance. A happy journey in retrospect but firstly I have to set the scene for you.

I define my spiritual journey as an awareness of myself, lessons I’ve learnt, tools for personal evolution, where I fit into the world, what I believe is my wider purpose.
It’s not about becoming elitist or superior. Absolutely not. It’s more about how I can become a better version of myself. Does that mean finding perfection and eliminating my ‘flaws’ and imperfections?
Please come, as we uncover some universal truths.

For most of my adult life, I’d been on a health and nutrition path and dreamt of attending a university here in Melbourne dedicated to all matters of Health. In between times, I’d taken myself off to study alternative health certificates. But still I ached for a Nutrition or Naturopathic Degree. Perhaps this Degree was my means of validation and showing myself the acceptance to quell my feelings of inadequacy.

Part of this ache was to write for one of my favourite health publications, Nature and health magazine. My intention was to become published and share important health information. Blogging, and writing was always at the back of my mind. I’d scribble down blog post ideas in the quiet spaces. It became a gentle dream for ‘one day….’

So, at the end of 2014, with the support of my husband, I decided it was now the time to leave my job and pursue this dream of becoming a Naturopath or Nutritionist. Perhaps I’d made peace with the fact the fair thing to do for us all was leaving my job if I was seriously going to follow my dreams. Time had arrived to be true to myself and stop wondering ‘what if…’ and that other big one…’if only…’

I enrolled.

Excitedly, I began study in 2015. I adored the science and learnt about research papers, how to put together a paper myself, including references. It was the most intense year I’ve ever experienced but unfortunately it took every minute of my being to stay up to speed with the work.
It was meant to be fun, which it was in its own way, but at the expense of everything else I loved…and I had five more years of living like this…
So at the end of the exam period, I made the difficult decision to walk away…which in effect, also entailed walking away from my dream…

Over the ensuing weeks, I became crazed at finding my new path.
…I now had no job,
…No study.

And not long after, a funny thing happened…I suddenly stopped being so fanatical about health and watching everything I ate, as I realised that emotional health and contentment is a huge part of being well and healthy. I just didn’t feel as intense any longer about scrutinising every mouthful I ate.

I hadn’t yet received my opportunity to connected the dots…

My satisfaction level towards myself was really now confined to having only passed Year 1 of university. I based my self-worth on achieving that piece of paper because that’s what society expects from us…to have some formal qualification and to participate actively in the workforce.
The anxiety to fill the void grew….

People were suggesting I just take some time out after bringing up the children and simply enjoy being an empty nester. It’s not that easy when hedonistic pursuits are not your main driver.
I strained and forced to find a new purpose, often pushing myself at things hoping to find a path there. I met dead ends.

This is when a little seed began to grow about thoughts, affirmations and positive psychology.
I know! I’d heard about these things forever and attempted to use them before to become more confident and overcome my flaws and become well…’normal’, whatever that was for me at the time. Most likely becoming the life of the party, standing up giving talks and presentations as effortlessly as how everyone else appeared, not being so easily wounded about simple things. In effect, getting that thick skin that people had been suggesting I acquire for much of my life…
I had no idea how I could grow that thick skin to be more acceptable in the world.

It was then that I came across this quote…I wrote it on a sticky note and attached it to my bathroom mirror.

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And so I worked on allowing myself to become comfortable with the unknown…
that meant to some extent, I was to hand my future over to the universe who, I trust, has plans for a person with my traits and dreams.

I have to admit I found it challenging at the checkout, if someone would ask me what I had on for the rest of the day…that became another source of embarrassment and angst…

And so I cooked, devised new recipes, even offering my local greengrocer some recipes…tried to keep busy any way I could. I began to take photos of the dishes with my iPhone after a friend showed me a beautiful cake website… the images of the cakes were inspiring…
My daughter was being married the March of 2016, so I was able to become more fully engaged in the details for that special day, doing what I could to help out with last minute planning.

Christmas time, 2015 arrived, and my husband presented me with the new iPhone…

One hot, quiet afternoon in January last year, I became curious…

‘How does this iPhone camera work?

Thank you so much for reading part 1 and coming along for the ride. I hope you will come by again for a visit and a cuppa for part 2 next time.

With Love,

Di

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Reblog guest post… ‘And then I met a duck.’

Hello there, and welcome!

I’d love to introduce you to a guest reblog post from Tanya of the incurable dreamer.

Her amazing blog is witness to her sheer determination to overcome and accept with grace, some of the greatest hardships that life throws her way.

This repost from her blog, is about an encounter with a duck that changed her life.

Tanya writes as she feels, full of raw emotion, honesty and passion, as we journey with her through the cascade of emotion from anger to acceptance in this piece.

I truly hope you enjoy this moving post, written by a very talented writer.

Tanya, thank you for your generous permission to repost… and now over to you…🌹

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Image  by Di

and then i met a duck

“I hate the saying ‘The universe only ever gives you what you can handle.’ Like, hate. it.  If someone ever says those words to me in my time of need or sorrow, I will have to refrain from punching that person in the throat (not really, but AHHHH!).  I think that quote is absolute crap and makes no sense at all.  The universe dishes out whatever the hell it wants, to whoever the hell it wants, and when it does, each of us is responsible for how we respond to it.

A few months ago, I was witness to a woman having a full-blown meltdown in a coffee shop.  She unleashed her wrath all over the barista because he had the audacity to tell her they were out of bananas – news that apparently had ruined her life.  Yeah, a banana.  She wanted a smoothie, and when she heard that they were a banana short, she totally lost her shit.  The abuse she spewed upon the staff was shocking.  I stood there mesmerized and appalled by her relentless tantrum but also felt deeply concerned, for her.  I thought to myself, ‘Wow.  If this is how she behaves over a banana how is she going to handle a real crisis?’  The universe isn’t going to care when it has a bomb to drop whether she can deal with it or not, it’s just going to drop – she is not exempt simply because she couldn’t keep it together over a stupid banana.

Anway, you get my point.  Right?

My ability to maintain my composure and deal with life has been put to the test often, and I am quite frankly of the belief that the universe seriously hates me and has it out for me.  I envision that some seriously twisted guy (like Doc from the movie Back to the Future) is in charge of my universe, and is sitting in a glass box with a bird’s eye view looking down on me snickering wildly.  And he takes a bite of a Twizzler and rips it viciously out of his mouth with a look of insane satisfaction every time he presses the ‘I am totally going to mess with her right now’ button.

If this is some karmic payback, then hey, I am willing to take my punishment like a champ – I know I have really annoyed some people – but this seems excessive.  Dude, I haven’t been this much of a jerk, ENOUGH ALREADY!

He has pressed that button more times than I can count in the past few years, and each time he did, I was left reeling.  That son of a bitch was ruthless at times.  But, unlike the banana lady, I chose to handle the circumstances that were thrown at me, differently.  I made a conscious choice to fight, to find my way back from the paralyzing darkness and to see beauty in tragedy and loss.  And I did.  It wasn’t easy, but I did.  I came out the other side enlightened, inspired and at peace with who I am.  I was ready to live the life I had always dreamed of living.  I was beginning to fly.

But, just when I was about to soar he pushed that damn button again and clipped my wings.

An ailment is impeding my ability to function at a normal level, and I struggle daily because my body won’t cooperate with my mind.  My mind is sharp, committed and ready to reach for the stars, but my body keeps me grounded, discouraged and battling to continue moving forward.  No matter what I will my body to do, fatigue and pain won’t allow it to do what I need it to do.

Then that guy, callously set his sights on my family, deciding it wasn’t enough that my stepmom has to fight a disease that will eventually take her, no, he thought it was best for her husband to now fight the same disease right along with her. ‘Why do it alone when you can do it together, amirite?’  That asshole must have thought.  He had no regard for how much they were already dealing with, the stress associated with it and what was already weighing them down.  Now, not only do they juggle endless appointments for her, but also for him.  The worry and uncertainty are staggering, and all of us are still trying to process what the hell is happening.

So, in the past month, the voice inside my head that so often whispers the words ‘just quit‘, has grown louder.  And I have begun listening. ‘Just quit‘ it continues whispering, each time nudging me a little closer to giving up.  I have struggled to see how it is possible to continue chasing my dreams when I feel the way I do, and awful things keep happening to those around me.  This past week, I looked into renting apartments, and instead of writing, I chose to get lost in the world of Hogwarts, wanting to be as far away from my world as possible.

Then, something incredible and unexpected happened.

I met a duck.

The duck, who belongs to the people next door, snuck into the yard of the people I am petsitting for and couldn’t find her way out.  The neighbour came and retrieved her, but not before I was able to get a few photos.  And as she was leaving to go back home, I was able to give her a little head rub (the duck, not the neighbour), and my heart melted.  The joy that little duck brought me is indescribable.

A couple of mornings after that I heard a duck squawking, but really loudly and close to the house.  It was 5:45 am, and the ducks are never up that early, so I knew right away one of them must be stuck in the yard again.  I ran to the living room and flicked on the light to the backyard and right outside the glass door was the largest raccoon I had ever seen.  My first thought was, ‘Oh shit, where is the duck?’  I hit the door to make the raccoon move, and when he turned, I saw the duck and screamed, ‘NOOOOOOO!’  The raccoon had the duck I had met only days earlier by the neck.  I hit the door again, and the raccoon released the duck and took off into the field.

My mind was racing.  I knew I had to get that duck.  I ran outside in my underwear and picked her up, and when I did, she didn’t resist.  Blood was oozing out of the wounds on her neck and had painted her back and tail red.  I needed to stop the bleeding.  I sprinted inside and immediately applied pressure to her neck, while whispering, ‘please don’t die, please don’t die.’  I kept telling her it was going to be ok, unsure if it actually was.  I kept waiting for her to fade, to show signs the end was coming, but instead, she just looked at me with her gentle eyes, her composure completely intact, as if to say, ‘it’s going to be ok.’  I couldn’t help but think in the midst of chaos, that her reaction to this horrific situation was remarkable.

After slowing the blood flow, I put her down, quickly dressed, and delivered her bloodied to the neighbours.  I apologized profusely for the horror I had bestowed upon them by knocking on their door at 6 am, but they, of course, couldn’t have been more thankful.

I turned and walked away with my head down, bloodied myself and completely disheartened.  ‘Did I do the right thing? ‘ ‘Is she suffering more now because of me?’ are the two questions I couldn’t stop asking myself.  I couldn’t believe what had happened and I couldn’t stop imagining her pain and fear.  I felt shattered.  I showered and returned to Hogwarts, desperately wishing I could board the train on platform 9 3/4.

The next day I hesitantly approached the neighbour and dared to ask the question, ‘Is she ok?’ I then braced myself for the dreaded words to come.  ‘SHE IS GREAT!’ she joyfully exclaimed.  ‘WHAT?’ I screamed back.  She went on to explain that she wasn’t sure she was going to make it because of the blood loss and the number of wounds, but she did pull through.  AND, not only did she pull through, but she had had enough of solitary confinement and was already back with the other ducks.  If I had known this woman better, I would have broken down right there.  The relief that flooded over me knowing the duck was okay was so powerful it almost knocked me over.

I couldn’t stop smiling and cried tears of joy when I went back inside.  For the first time in many days, something went right. Bless her; she was alive.

My mind went back to the moment I was holding her and the way she looked at me, ever so gently.  I don’t know if she chose her response to the horror that was unfolding around us, but I like to believe she did.  In the face of such adversity, she responded with grace and dignity, even with the knowledge it might not be ok.

I am watching her as I type this.  She is in the field – a little worse for wear – but she is alive.  Waddling side by side with her family, she has let go of what happened to her and is moving forward.  With her resiliency on full display, she reminds me that once again I have a choice to make.  To face it, handle it and keep living life with conviction and purpose, or crumble in the face of adversity.

I choose to be like her.

So, with the dignity and grace, she has shown me, I too will continue moving forward, chasing my dreams side by side with my family, facing whatever is to come.”

Thank you for reading and until next time…

Hugs to you,

Di

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Mist, Mindfulness and Dreams

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✨”As I pursued the misty morning air…

I realised she was forever eluding me…

It was a beautiful illusion to believe could I chase her…
and reach for her…
as she hung, heavy and still between the trees…

Longing to see her greyness at my fingertips…
softly laying her beads of dew upon me…

When I looked behind, she was there…
When I looked ahead she was there…
I’d already walked past her…

She fixed me with her gaze…
Waiting for me to behold her…

I hadn’t noticed when
she was right beside me…
when I was right beside her…

My sight was focused too far into the distance…

As I paused…
reflected…
tried to make sense of it…
I began to live in the moment…
I released my angst of never reaching her…

It was then I realised…
The mist and I had become one…
There was no longer any separation…”

‘Tread softly’, she whispered.

So as we put our dreams just a little ahead of us…
and cradle them in our heart…
let’s gently step into them like the mist…

Trust and Allow…
Just Allow…
with Love
and acceptance of ourselves…

Until we envelop each other…
Surrender…
And become one with them…“✨

Sometimes we can look too far ahead, striving, struggling, being unkind to ourselves, forcing our way into finding the right path, hoping to find the answers we seek.

These are not our dreams but are borne more from fears and resistance of where we are now, or an urgency to change direction.

This constant chasing may mean we overlook the fact, that which we seek, is within our grasp right now.
When we find contentment in what we already possess, the journey of our imagining begins in this moment with us, our thoughts and the decisions we make.

Positive practises and reminders daily are the kindest thing we can offer ourselves…
The more relaxed we are, the more we allow the benevolent, expansive universe to deliver us our ‘next’ and the more receptive we are to her treasures.
After all, this present moment is all we have and all we can possibly know…

…’I trust the process’…

💕

The magic of Encouragement

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🌹’We never appreciate the depth a word of encouragement means…until we receive one ourself.’ 🌹

Funny how things work…I have contemplated encouragement and what it means for a long time now.
What makes it so special? And if you’ll allow me, I’d love to offer two different forms of encouragement….

When I was an Educational support Aide in a secondary school, I worked with a vision impaired and intellectually disabled student. He was the most gregarious young man who struggled in many areas of school curriculum, vision impairment aside.
The important thing was always focus on the positives and encourage any gifts that we could see in the students. We knew everyone has a gift no matter how extreme their disability may be.
So we would tell ‘Jim’ that he was so friendly, knowledgeable about horses, kind to all the staff and… had an amazing memory.

We didn’t necessarily comment on that as a way to encourage him, but more as a running joke because he didn’t forget anything we ever told him about ourselves, good or bad, including our birthdays. So it came to be that we would began to refer to his awesome memory and share some laughs together.
In a way, we were passively encouraging him without this being our mindful intention…we were fostering his confidence.

You see, when he was asked if he would like to give the introduction speech on a parent information evening, he decided to act upon this newly realised gift of memory and put it to use. He set about memorising his entire speech.
And can you guess?
He presented it word for word perfectly and was praised highly afterwards for his brilliant speech and his ability to remember it without cue cards.
We could feel the pride welling up within Jim…he was being showered with accolades for being excellent at something. After that, he would make comment about never forgetting anything…it became a fun banter between himself and us, the staff.

I refer to this as ‘passive’ as opposed to ‘active’ encouragement. These are my thoughts and terms only, but Jim’s story started me thinking…

We all understand when we are actively encouraged, as in ‘go for it… you’ll be great’ or ‘don’t let the fear stop you… go and live your dreams…’

But I believe there is a second type of encouragement that’s more passive, often so much more subtle…

…the kind where you have to read between the lines…
…the kind that is disguised as a compliment…

If we are fortunate, they may arrive on those doubting days, in a small but meaningful way, that fills our heart with hope and confidence and dispels those pesky doubts.
People most likely don’t realise they are being encouraging. I’m sure they accept they are offering kind words, but frequently these words can rearrange themselves in the receiver’s mind as words of encouragement.
It can be as simple as;
‘I really resonate with…’
‘This painting is stunning…’
‘You have a way with words…’
‘You’re such a good cook…’
or having your photograph or other creations featured in a public forum.

Often we’re oblivious to our gifts until someone sees the goodness in who we are or what we’ve done. We can become too focused on the things we need to ‘improve on’ or any negativity that comes our way and we may find it hard to pursue the ‘active’ encouragement from other people.

I believe the passive form is such meaningful encouragement because it presents as a heartfelt word, an appreciation of something that others choose to comment about, without any expectation from either person.

I received an encouraging word a few days ago just when I was questioning myself…it was the passive kind, that serendipitously provided beautiful magic…enough to prompt my continuing with something I’d been working on.

Passive encouragement offers us food for thought, that perhaps we truly are where we’re meant to be…
‘Do they really see that in me…?’
‘Did my work really resonate positively…?’

So passive or active, let’s all keep the world spinning with our goodness and keep up the wonderfully encouraging words, dressed however we deliver them, accepting that maybe, just maybe…they have the power to change someone’s day more than we could ever realise.

May I offer this little affirmation for this post…
‘I AM…encouragement for others, by the words I choose.’

So I ask you to please enjoy the feeling, knowing that you truly are…and I personally thank you for the magic of encouragement.