Aim high. Ride easy. Trust the Universe.

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An old feeling settled into my cells over the past few days - I even felt a little comfortable with it, like an old pair of shoes your feet slip naturally into even if you don't like how they look on you anymore.

Fear has been a constant companion in my life and, over the many years of trips around the sun, I've both shunned and befriended it. This love-hate relationship has threatened to define or defeat me as I've realised that, the only way to stay close to the pulse of life is our ability to change, to shed off whatever we are carrying that is no longer alive. To cast off our dead skin because dead skin can't feel. Dead eyes can't see. Dead ears can't hear. And without feeling, there is no chance of wholeness, and wholeness remains our chance to survive the pain of breaking.

This fear encompassed and encased a deep fear that I wasn't, as my true self, enough. Whole enough, strong enough, rich enough, wise enough and, in showing my authentic self, in casting off the layers that no longer served me, would leave me exposed to the elements and the deep sense of abandonment would finally be realised.

I understand that this dead skin takes many forms, a dead way of thinking, seeing, relating, believing or a dead way of experiencing. In essence, shedding opens up to self-transformation. Those of us who refuse such renewal will, sooner or later, be forced to undergo transformation anyway as a result of being broken or eroded by the world. Very often both occur at the same time, we shed from within whilst being eroded from without. 

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in Thoughts 5

We were discussing what made us good listeners, or perhaps what made people come to us with their Hamlet questions. Sometimes I'm stretched thin by it but, for the most part, I'm deeply humbled because I think listening comes from a deeper place and it seems we can only hear the living to the extent that we have truly lived, only understand pain and joy to the extent that we have allowed ourselves to be touched by life.

I have heard so much in my life but it's only after the fact that I've felt their pain and even more their true joy in caring for things. To be sure we do not have to experience the same things to receive each other but we do have to experience what is ours to live through before life will show its roots.

What does it take to truly listen? The breakdown of everything that parades between our hearts. If I dare to hear you, I will feel you like the sun and grow in your direction, and you in mine. For when we hear each other, it all becomes a garden, it all becomes edible.

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in Thoughts 10

These big Hamlet questions play in my head sometimes and, despite the day to day activities that keep me running, these questions are my real purpose.

Why are we here? Why did I eat what I ate? Drive that way to work? Smile that thought? Say that sentence? And why did she saunter into my contained life? The big why?

I think this is the trick to life, to staying well, isn't it? To feel the sun even in the dark. To grow just the same. To know there is love even when we're lonely. To know there is peace even when we're in this uncertainty. And then it shifts. Then I know.

The stubborn persistent truth is that we don't get to choose who we love or who loves us - the big why is that we're all here to connect. I am powerless to her and her to me because we are within each other. There is a profound connection to everything and love is the only way.

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in Thoughts 8

"Did I show you love... because your silence never says ...." This song echoes in my head when I speak to her. My one-word wonder.

I know that over the years, through fear and expectation, my mind has gathered and hoarded places I needed to go, things I needed to have, selves I needed to be. But here I am, without most of them, the goals and wants all used up in learning how to love. But love I do - deeply.

How frequently do we search for a song of guidance that can only come from inside us? The search continues.

 

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in Thoughts 11

My very best friend said, just the other day, she thought that words were 'meaningless sounds that fill the spaces between'. Her reference showed her insistence that actions are what really move life forward and the endless talking is just unnecessary.

It didn't sit well with me, lover of words and creator of stories that, in my mind, were nothing if read as meaningless. But, as with everything she says, I sat with it and watched her play out in my life.

"How can you follow the course of your life if you do not let it flow"? Often the pain of resisting makes us rust like iron and in order for us to re-enter the flow of life we need to be scraped back to our original surface.

Like windows filmed by weather, I wait on her loving hands to be rubbed clear. For human beings, the process of living stains us repeatedly, with pain and disappointment, action and inaction, which can sicken us if harboured or make us whole again if released. Again and again, more than any other life form, we have this majestic and burdensome power to harbour or release the impact of our words but more importantly our actions.

Experience in, feelings out. Surprise and challenge in, heartache and joy out. In a constant ride life rushes in and in constant release, we must let it all backoff.

My words, her actions, symbiotic and stretching, for this is how the earth was made magnificent by the sea and how humankind, how we, are carved upright - again and again - with a collective spirit that sets us free.

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in Thoughts 16

This cycle of producing troubles and then preparing against them is very much like pulling a thread that really should have been left alone - the more I pull the more the fabric unravels.

A more subtle form of this revolves around the struggle to accept that, much like a moth to a flame, some relationships burn brightly only to burn out as quickly. Feeling unworthy or insecure we create a goal in the hopes that achieving that will make our love more secure, more equal. Then we're off scheming, preparing against failure, stirring the water in the hopes that it will go clear.

All the while the very deep resources of heart and spirit are being misapplied. Isn't this how we enter relationships that really don't embrace us? The mind is a spider that, if allowed, will tangle everything and then blame the things it clings to for the web it wants to be free of.

I have done this recently, in the hope of love, wanting so badly to see myself clearly in the water while I kept stirring and stirring. Perhaps the hardest thing I've learned and struggle with is that I don't have to be finished to be whole - I just have to turn away from the flame.

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in Thoughts 17

We are all frail, we all make mistakes, we all fall prey to a thousand emotions and exaggerations. But these things make us rich not weak, if we are willing to face them squarely. In truth it is not the tissue of our humanity that defeats us but rather our refusal to accept who we are and to live accordingly, limitations included.

Underneath it all, this blindness, in its many recurring forms is the cause of most cruelty. For it is during those moments when we think we see so clearly that we break things that are irreplacable not even realising they were precious.

After breaking many things in my life, hearts and heirlooms, I am humbled to admit that the only differene I see on Earth between being strong or weak is the honesty with which we face ourselves, accept ourselves and share ourselves, blemishes and all.

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in Thoughts 13

I believe that each of us is born with a natural leaning toward looking or not looking - unsurprisingly I lean towards the looking and in that looking she cracked me wide open.

This keeper of secrets and discoverer of truth makes me feel like sunlight. I catch her looking at me, hear my name on her lips and in come the rays. But, like staring into the sun too long there are times we musn't, to preserve our sight; more often I look to stay alive.

Like all of us I struggle; though no one can tell me how. We have to work this battle again and again, to leave the underworld, to not harden, and to make our way to back into the land of the living - into her light.

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in Thoughts 16

Perhaps this friendship is a methaphor for another kind  - that of our lifetime kinship with truth and love? If so, does the inner task become how do we make a lasting friendship with the unities that are larger than us? How do we keep their light in our heart when no stars appear in sight?

These words resonated 'What is the use of talking and there is no end of talking. There is no end of things in the heart.' How can fear and love sit so comfortably inside such a small space? Is she a star in my constellation, a brief but enduring point of light, that forever flickers in my deepest fears?

The difficulty then has always been how to make it across the dark; from point of light to point of light? Is this the province of faith, the preservation of presence when we are not light hearted. She, my point of light.

 

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in Thoughts 20

We've opened up to each other and been hurt in the process - the distance between us seemed easier - and now it appears we're in the corners of our minds - quietly huddled in safety - wanting to reach, wanting more, but within the constructs of our consciousness and within the safety of not being hurt again, or more.

But the reaching and growing doesn't offer us that comfort. The nature of the reaching and growing offers us nothing but the promise of freedom because, just as fish can't see the ocean they swim in, we can't see the spirit that sustains us.

In life, as in water, when we curl up we sink but when we spread and go still we are carried by the largest sea of all; the sea of grace that flows steadily beneath the turmoil of events. Again and again the onset of pain makes us cluth and sink. But life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we heal at all.

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in Thoughts 22

This morning, in that half awake half asleep space, I dreamt that our days were starting together. We rolled into reality with banal discussions on the smallest details of a life being lived and, in time, she pulled up a chair to sit right next to me. In that movement and moment the space between us was barely visible.

My deepest desire wanted to move my hand to touch hers but the invisble line of her emotional connection was, for now, stretched to it's core and that is the understanding I have come to breathe in.

"Everything in the Universe is inter-connected. Within each is reflected." I think this explains why we are so drawn to certain things. Why, of all the fallen branches I will choose the one that most resembles the way I have had to bend all of my life. Why, of all the places you could return to you choose the lip of a cliff featureless by wind because it lets you choose the worn lip of your heart that you show no -one.

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in Thoughts 29

A theme keeps coming up for me - I was alerted to this a few years ago by a well meaning friend - and since then a special someone keeps pushing me back to it - relentlessly but lovingly so.  Showing up, really showing up as yourself, that's harder than it looks. It made me think of these words;

"Mining the moment for something that feels good, something to appreciate, something to savour, something to take in, that's what moments are about. They've not about justifying your existence. It's justified, you exist. It's not about proving your worthiness. It's done - you're worthy. It's not about achieving success, you never get it done. It's about 'how much can this moment deliver to me?'. Some of us like it fast, some slow, no-one's taking score. We get to choose. The only measurement is between desire and allowing. And our emotions tell us everything about that."

I have a busy life, blessed by a work and home life that never ceases to amaze and push me into more and more. This past weekend was no different - every waking moment crammed with busy-ness and it seems, at times, that I'm speeding along a track laid down by others, going so fast that I'm passing everything by in a blur.

But I was also pulled into a stark reality that I need to slow it all down, to really be present, for myself and the people I love. That is where the real growth, the real life is. So I'm not going to do that - blur anything - anymore.

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in Thoughts 26

My very very very best friend got hijacked yesterday and it took that to make me realise she's my very very very best friend. I don't want to be that person - the one who has an ephiphany because of a shock but in this instance I am.

I've always fought against titles, famously saying 'Just call me Alex and pay me double' when someone else was responsible for my salary. The title of girlfriend, best friend, any friend always seems to rub up against me. I've bucked against the idea that a relationship needs to have a definition in order to give it the space needed and I still believe that.

But all at the same time there comes a time when you need to just pick - something, someone, some direction and throw yourself all in. And this is that time.

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in Thoughts 27

"...Life is such a curious dichotomy. I don't think I understand it any more clearly than I ever did I just ride the storm a little more gracefully; feast and famine are part of the patchwork that is slowly sewing the quilt that will, I suppose, tell my life story.

I get it wrong, stumbling and falling with the "getting up" often messy and awkward but I'm up again. All the while my loves are running their own race and, more often, I find myself falling into their footsteps, running every so calmly with them until one of our paths digress and we're running alone again.

Living your own life is frightening and most of the time, if we're honest, we're lost. But here's the thing - living any other way is a wasted life. I am who I am because of the loves in my life. The people who see all of me and love me anyway"..

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in Thoughts 167

I will never be a well behaved woman.
I would rather pass my days lying in the middle of dirt roads, staring at the full moon with a bottle of summer red in my palms.
I would rather have kids when it suits me, not when society expects or throws shoulds.
I would rather stretch my spirit and live like my soul means it.
I would rather own moments, than investments.
I would rather eat alone, than sit with women who bore me at “Wives’ Night.”
I would rather swim naked with bioluminescence, have it fall like fireflies from my hair, my breasts, my back.
I would rather do handstands naked in the moonlight when no one’s watching than pick bridesmaid dresses.
I would rather drink seven year old rum from a sandy bottle, smell of smoke and ash than sit in church.
I would rather learn from life than rack up debt, in a desk.
I would rather drink the ocean, again and again—celebrate being madly alive.
I would rather my love be defined by love itself, and nothing more or less.
I don’t need a ring on my finger to prove that I am in love.
I do not need a degree to prove that I am intelligent.
I have my own approval.
My savings account has diddly to do with my richness.
I build my own box.
I will take a job I love and freedom over a pension, any day.
I will not work and work and work to live when my body is old and I am tired.
Stocks are for people who get boners from money.
Not everyone should have kids, and my eggs aren’t expiring.
I will not drink the societal Kool-Aid on a bus, nor will I drink it on a train.
Not on a plane, with a goat, in the rain, in the dark, in a tree, with a fox, in a box!
I will not jump through societies’ hoops and red tape, the treasure hunt in the rat race we chase.
If we must have milestones—mine will be measured by how much joy I have collected at the end of each day and how often in this life I have truly, deeply, opened.
Seek, see, love, do.

~ Janne Robinson

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in Thoughts 270

Dan Pallotta's extradinary TED talk is bold in the extreme; standing up there amongst peers and people bearing his soul whilst encouraging us to step into the same space is inspirational. Some of his words are too powerful not to share here:

"...I'm talking about dreaming as boldly in the dimension of our being as we do about industry and technology. I'm talking about an audacious authenticity that allows us to cry with one another, a heroic humility that allows us to remove our masks and be real. It is our inability to be with one another, our fear of crying with one another, that gives rise to so many of the problems we are frantically trying to solve in the first place, from Congressional gridlock to economic inhumanity.

Now, we're all here to dream, but maybe if we're honest about it, each of us chasing our own dream. You know, looking at the name tags to see who can help me with my dream, sometimes looking right through one another's humanity. I can't be bothered with you right now. I have an idea for saving the world. Right?

Imagine living in a world where we simply recognize that deep, existential fear in one another and love one another boldly because we know that to be human is to live with that fear. It's time for us to dream in multiple dimensions simultaneously, and somewhere that transcends all of the wondrous things we can and will and must do lies the domain of all the unbelievable things we could be..."

Watch his full talk, it is time well spent.

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in Thoughts 600
"I heard the news today that you’re not mine to keep.....I heard the news today that you’re not mine to save."
 
I first heard the words to this amazing song watching this even more breathtaking video about a man and his dog. Anything to do with animals gets me but this was an extraordinary tribute from a man who knew all about adversity and still wasn’t dissuaded from embracing life and taking his dog along for every ride possible. It was a big bold life he led but the video was simple in its message, love the ones who love you and when they walk through the door, even if it's five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.
 
I live a big life in many ways mostly in the amount of love that I have in it - I am blessed with an enigmatic family who love passionately (if not somewhat strangely at times) and as blessed by a close collection of very special girlfriends - all of them unique (obviously) but pulled together by one thing - love - for me, for themselves, for each other (in some cases).
 
Our lives are inextricably linked - some through a shared and long history of stories woven into adulthood; others bursting into my life more recently with energy, vigour and a deep sense of meaning but none less or more important. All of them form the intricate web of my daily life, each of them bringing me back to me, back to them again and again.
 
But with such depth can, sometimes, come great sadness when we hurt - either on our own or collectively. Whether the hurt is with them or with something outside of us - it’s hurt nonetheless. But of all the hurts I think the most complicated is when you’re on the outside looking in. The feeling of losing something that’s so important to you - as our friendships are - and no amount of being there or showing up (however perfectly or imperfectly) can shift it. And you have to let it go - not the person but the belief that you can journey this with them because, at the end of the day, we’re all alone even if we’re altogether in that too.
 
That moment of letting go is never said more profoundly than in this quote from Life of Pi: 

 

“He left me so unceremoniously it broke my heart. I have to believe there was more than my own reflection staring back at me. I know it. I felt it. Even if I can’t prove it. In the end, I suppose, the whole of life becomes a letting go."
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in Thoughts 277

You died.

It’s taken me four months to say those words and even now it’s just breathtaking to admit it.

I walked to your stable before you left, left to be made better, I saw you in your agony, sweat and tears, your head hanging into your knees begging us to make it better. So we did, or so we thought.

Into the box you staggered all believing, loving and hoping that you’d be back in no time, as always, into your bravado and home. But it wasn’t to be and the box came home empty.

It’s months later; your ashes are planted and life grows around you but every day, EVERY day Huffy, I walk up to the stables and I see your face, hear your voice and see your face. It seems impossible that moments are just that, moments.

In retrospect you told me days before this - my camera tells me so - every day you reminded me to see you, be with you, love you. As if we could ever do anything other than love you. Thank you for making me aware.

I don’t understand life and I surely don’t understand why we fought so hard to meet you only to have you taken away so soon but I do know this, you will remain perfect (well done you) and immortalised in memories far beyond your imagination.

I don’t know what I gave you to, if anything, but what you did was awake my soul and you, my brightest boy, will live forever in it.

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in Thoughts 675

Our hearts kept it simple.

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. I don’t really know when it exactly happened, but somewhere in between our intense eye contact and wiping my tears away as my walls came down that I spent years crafting, I crashed into you fully and never looked back.

My heart was unguarded, and I gave you all of me. We didn’t just hang out. We played. Our souls were alive – we were like two little kids again seeing the world for the first time – being with you multiplied all the good in life and changed me forever.

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in Thoughts 580

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” - Roald Dahl -

When I look back on 2015, the more I read, listen, learn, watch and experience, the more I’m immeasurably grateful for the trip and fall that I took this year, the fall down, the staying down, that made me take stock. Take stock of me - who I’d created - and who I really was. As Brene Brown says in Daring Greatly ‘What we know matters but who we are matters more. Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen’. In the absence of any other coping skills I started to allow myself to be seen, mostly by myself.

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