On the other side of excuses

I’m back from Italy, which was a beautiful, delicious, love-filled, insightful, and at times challenging pilgrimage to my husband’s hometown.

The long flights back to Melbourne via Singapore were easy, but the jet lag is not.  It’s only 5pm on Monday and I’m ready for bed.

It’s also the day I post on my blog and I have a lot of good reasons (excuses) not to post: I’m so jet lagged. My brain is foggy. I can’t think clearly. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t feel like it.

But I also made a commitment to myself and to you to show up every week even when I don’t feel like it.

My heart is urging me to show up and just be here with all the scrambled messiness, the unknowing, the resistance, the imperfection and to offer what I can in this moment.

Our minds can justify, rationalise and explain anything but this can hold us back from what our hearts truly want.

Don’t let it hold you back. Listen to your heart. On the other side of the reasons (excuses) is the life that is waiting for you, the one you truly want to live.

With love and courage,

Kym xx

Go wander

[I am currently in Italy with my husband and his family for the Christmas holidays. This is a re-share and small update of a poem that I wrote a few years ago.
To create change in your life, you have to do things differently.
Open up space for nothingness so new inspiration can come through.
Step off your current path so you can experience something new.
Be willing to become lost. You will see new things. See the world differently. Strengthen your intuition and connection to your soul.
Be willing to let go of the life that you currently have. Be willing to wander and experiment.]

Let go of your schedule, your timetables, your calendar, your planning, your busyness and your need to make your waking moments productive.

Go outside, exactly as you are. Go to a park or a forest, a beach, your backyard or any space you have longed to explore.

Let your feet follow your eyes re-opened as if born anew and seeing for the first time.

Go to what calls your attention, to what flirts with your senses with its bright pretty colours or intriguing patterns and shapes.

Let your mind rest and your life force move you.

Wander without aim, without rules or constraints.

Wander with curiosity.

Wander with faith in its aimlessness.

Wandering produces nothing yet yields everything.

Wandering reclaims the instinct of your soul cut off the moment your life became ruled by your calendar and time, your to do lists and busyness, and the idea that you have to make something of your life for your life to matter instead of living fluidly as an expression of joy.

With love and courage,

Kym

xx

Staying close to the mystery and less planning

[I am currently in Italy with my husband and his family for the Christmas holidays. This is an update of an article that I wrote a few years ago. I hope it offers some inspiration and insight into your own New Year dreaming process.]

It is the eve of the last day of the year. In these peaceful days between the celebration of Christmas and new beginnings, many people in my circles are reflecting on the year that has almost completed, and dreaming and planning the year that is about to begin.

I notice some people have given themselves a hard time for all that they set out to achieve in the last year but didn’t. For all the “good” and “positive” ways they wanted to be in the world but weren’t.

If this is you, I want you to know that you are loved beyond what you have done or haven't done. There is nothing you can do or not do that earns or loses you unconditional love

There is time enough for everything your spirit needs to experience in your life. Our human minds live in years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes. Our spirits live in an eternal moment.

As part of New Year dreaming and planning rituals, some people are searching for the word that will guide them in. Some are dreaming into what they would like the year to look and feel like. Many are setting their goals and intentions and planning the steps they will take to reach their goals.

I've seen a lot of beautiful and inspiring tools out there designed to help you plan out and live your most fabulous year yet. I love the idea of them but often they trigger a sense of overwhelm and resistance in me: There is so much to analyse and think about, and so many rituals and practices to do and think about doing.

Where does just being and experiencing life fit into all the intentions and goal setting and planning and rituals I could complete to make my year fabulous?

Do I have to plan for spontaneity and serendipity to make sure I have time for these experiences too?

This was yet another year that didn’t turn out as I had hoped. I started the year pregnant and in March my dreams of being a mother bled from me. I was swallowed by a grief bigger than I could have imagined. This coupled with extreme stress from my day job overwhelmed my nervous system and I struggled with extended bouts of stomach pain for most of the year.

While life didn’t turn out as I had hoped (again), there have been great gifts in my illness and healing that I may not have experienced otherwise: I have discovered the grace of Kundalini meditation and yoga, neurological integration system to support healing and rebalancing, the awakening of the most beautiful yearning to be a mother, and to have known and cherished the feeling of being pregnant, carrying life within me even with all the horrendous morning sickness despite the pregnancy ending with no baby to be held physically in my arms.

I would never have chosen this journey through grief and illness. I’m still grieving the loss of my baby and what feels like was my last chance to be a mum.  But I am open to the idea, as I have been before, that maybe the vast intelligence of this world knows a bit more about what I need to experience in life than I do, including things I would never choose, and it knows how to bring me experiences so I don’t have to go out of my way to make everything happen in my life.

There is magic in deep dreaming with your heart. It brings us closer to what I call the Divine but you may call God, Higher Self, the Universe, Love or something else. It opens us to possibilities that we could never think of. If we listen deeply and patiently we hear our heart's true yearnings and callings and we are shown a way through life that may be far different than we could think of with our human minds. Everything unfolds in perfect timing; it's just often not to our human mind's timing.

The group energy of this time is one of reflection and dreaming.  As one human year ends and another one begins, I naturally feel pulled towards reflecting upon my year as well, tenderly, kindly and with gratitude (where I can feel authentically grateful) for its blessings.

I am also dreaming into the possibilities of my life and wondering what magic and mysteries it has in store for me today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. After a year of feeling like being in the mud and muck and a holding zone, I am feeling like next year could be radiant.

I am inviting inspiration, for the Divine to create and express through me in its own way, in its own time. I am waiting and watching with open hands ready to catch and follow the thread as soon as it appears knowing that at any moment I may also have to let it go.

I am inviting in magic and mystery because I want to live a life beyond that which I could simply think or plan alone.

Staying close to the mystery of this world is the best plan that I can have.

With love and courage,

Kym xx

 

Grief at Christmas and the joy that isn't happiness

[This is an update of an article that I wrote a few years ago. There are people in my life who have experienced recent loss and grief, and some who are struggling. I hope this post offers encouragement, support and a healing balm.]

Christmas is the time of year that is supposed to be filled with joy but for many it isn't. Many experience sadness, grief, loneliness, fear and anxiety and can especially struggle with those feelings during a season of expected festiveness. This I know.

My mum died on the 19th of December, 1996.  For years, my experience of Christmas was overshadowed by my feelings of grief and loss and aloneness. I not only lost my mum but also Christmas as I knew it.

As the years have passed, our family has expanded: when my dad remarried, we gained a stepmother and step-siblings, nieces and nephews have been born, and more recently I married adding a husband and his Italian family. The family has also contracted as people have left this world. My mum’s dad, my Papa, died the day after the third anniversary of mum’s death. Christmas was overshadowed by yet another loss and more grief and sadness. Death forever changes the structure of a family. For a long time I felt lost within my family and I grieved the loss of old way of traditions.

There can be so much expectation at this time of year by others and ourselves that we should be happy and festive and joyful. It can be even more painful when no matter how we try we can’t find that joy within ourselves. Pain, grief and sorrow cannot be commanded away.

Dictionary.com defines joy "as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying."

But I no longer believe in that definition of joy because I have experienced something different. Joy is not the result of external experience and it’s not what we think it is.

In his book, The Presence Process, Michael Brown writes, "we confuse joy with the outer changing experience called "the pursuit of happiness." But experiencing authentic joy isn't just about feeling good. It's about feeling everything, which requires emotional inclusiveness." He also writes "authentic joy isn't an emotional state, but a state of being in which we accept all of life's offerings as required, especially challenging moments."

I first came to understand this a few years ago when I suffered lower back and hip problems after badly spraining my ankle. I was presented with many challenging moments. I shed a lot of tears as I lay on the floor struggling to cope with pain, frustration and helplessness wondering when the pain would end, when I would be able to move freely again. I wanted to be somewhere in the future where I was healed and healthy again. This year, I was presented with the opportunity to relearn this lesson suffering recurring bouts of stomach pain, the last two-month stint has just ended.

I realised that wanting to be anywhere other than where I was—fighting my reality—wasn’t helping me that it only made me more upset.

When I dropped my resistance and just accepted this is where I am right now I became peaceful because everything is allowed and included. I was also able to see the positives of my pain and injuries: becoming more embodied, exploring how I move in my body, learning a new way to hold myself and walk in the world, my strength and resilience.

I noticed how my spirit beyond my small self revelled in this experience as it revels in all of my life experience. This revelling is what I know now as a state of joy.

It’s only my mind that labels experiences and emotions as good or bad. My soul loves them all.

This Christmas season there are people I love who are missing from my physical world. Christmas of old is forever gone. And I am sad about this.

When I first wrote this article three years ago, I wasn’t feeling delighted, light-hearted or frivolously happy anticipating the approach of Christmas Day. I was open to the idea that maybe one day I would be, but how I felt right then was okay. We don't have to love Christmas. We don’t have to pretend to be happy.

This year it seems the tide has started to change. While I still feel sadness for what has gone and will never be again, I also feel my love for the magic, mystery and sacredness of Christmas growing within my heart, body and soul once again. I am so grateful that it is. I have missed it.

However you are feeling right now about Christmas and your life is okay. All feelings have their place in our human experience. It is all of our human life not just selective experiences or emotions such as passing moments of happiness that contribute to authentic joy.

Don't shun or resist the parts of you that hurt—love them. They are beautiful too. It is through experiencing all of life, all emotions that you will discover true joy.

With love and courage,

Kym xx

The unseen affect of your inspired action

We never truly know how what we do or say affects another person. We’re not in their bodies to know how it feels for them, and often we don’t get feedback from them as the wave of life takes us in different directions. If we did, I think it would inspire us to be more kind and to take more inspired action. But in the absence of feedback, we must surrender and either trust our action or imagine the affect it has, that our intention to offer kindness, love, encouragement does just that.

I want to offer two stories about the unseen affect of taking inspired action: one as the receiver and one as the giver.

Receiving

Recently I was surprised to receive the most beautiful email from one of my blog readers, who I will refer to as G. She took the time to share some of her personal journey with me and told me how perfectly timed some of my articles have been for her and how they have touched her in different ways. Her words landed inside me deeply. I cried as I read the email.

Sometimes, I doubt what I’m doing. It was around a year ago that I first had the inspiration to change the name of my blog to Sacred Reminders for Courageous Hearts. My inner critic reared up her nasty head asking me who was I to think I could write sacred reminders? I doubted if I should do it. It took me months to actually do it.

Sometimes I write posts and I get feedback. Sometimes I don’t. But the absence of feedback doesn’t mean that my offering or your offering for that matter hasn’t made a difference. No feedback is just no feedback.

Borrowing the words of George Michael, sometimes “you gotta have faith.” Keep following your inspiration and trust it. The affect of it may just be unseen.

I am so grateful that G felt inspired to write to me and acted on it. It was a simple, free but great gift that has deeply touched my heart and inspired renewed energy and commitment to my writing and following my inspiration.

Your kindness, encouragement and belief in another person may be just the medicine you didn’t know they needed.

Giving

A few years ago when I was in London, holed up at my friend’s place and unable to undertake my planned pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem due to my seized lower back and hip problems, I experienced a most beautiful and intimate moment of inspired action.

I was walking back to the underground station after receiving a massage to help my body heal, when I walked past a small, old woman with white hair pulled back in a bun sitting in a doorway with her bag of belongings next to her. The street was busy and many people walked past her without even looking at her. I saw her and walked past too but I experienced a strong inner directive to go back and speak to her.

Her name was Mary. I squatted beside her and spoke to her. She told me her story about how she had become homeless, a story of family relationship breakdown and misfortune. I listened and asked questions.

Then I felt another inner directive to offer her a hug. This is not something I usually do. At first I felt resistant, then awkward and shy but the inner directive was strong. So I asked her.

“Mary, would you like a hug?”
Her face lit up and her blue eyes beamed.
“Yes please,” she responded.

I wrapped my arms around her and she wrapped her arms around me and we hugged for a long time. When our time together felt complete, I gifted her some money to get a room for the night, and held her hand for a few moments.

“I wish I had a daughter like you,” she told me.

I looked lovingly into her eyes and then left.

I don’t know what lasting affect if any that moment had on Mary’s life. I like to hope that she felt love and kindness, and that the memory of that moment might help her keep going through tough moments.

What I do know is that it has had a lasting affect on me. Even now, three years later, I think of Mary and wonder where she is, how she is, if she is still alive. I feel a great love and tenderness in my heart. It makes me want to be more kind, more generous, more giving.

Taking inspired action, creating and offering anything that is inspired including love and kindness has an extremely positive affect on your own heart and energy field.  Maybe no one will ever see your artwork, read your poem or book, or receive or acknowledge your heartfelt offering. But following your inspiration and offering it regardless of how or if it will be received by anyone else feels really good.

Inspired action increases your energy and creativity and makes you feel more positive, radiant, and joyful. And so by default without even knowing, you will affect anyone you come into contact with.

Resist, avoid or hold back on your inspired action and you will most likely feel miserable and others will feel your misery. But by flowing with your inspiration and doing what you love, your inner fire will glow brightly and others will experience and even absorb some of your radiance.

You might just light them up. You might just change their moment, their day, even their whole life.

Your inspired action matters.

You matter.

With love and courage to you all and deep gratitude to G and to Mary,

Kym

xx

Soaking in quiet and blessings

Today is the day I write my weekly blog post, but as I sit down to write, I find that inside I am full of quiet and few words.

My weekend was busy, preparing for, and hosting my family Christmas celebration, which we held at my home on Saturday night.  Being host is a busy role. There was shopping, cleaning, food preparation and cooking, food serving and lots and lots of dishwashing and more cleaning to do.

Today, despite my ideas of what I should be doing, my inner world is quiet and my body says rest. So I am sitting outside on our back patio, soaking in my own inner quiet, listening to the world around me and the world inside.

Cicadas and birds chirp intermittently. There is hammering and sawing at the house being built just down the road. The wind rustles the trees and rocks our bamboo chime into song.

My breath goes in and out slowly. My body feels supported by the lounge beneath me.

Today, I savour all the blessings in my life: that I have family to welcome into my home, a safe and quiet place to live with a small backyard oasis that I love, enough money in the bank, this time to rest and feel grateful, and the ability to write my blog and share my blessings with you.

Life can be busy, especially leading up to Christmas. Taking time to sit quietly with all your blessings and allowing your body to rest in your life here and now even if it’s just for a few minutes with a cup of tea, re-fills your inner cup so that your love, joy and gratitude can continue to spill over to all who you love and all who cross your path. Isn’t this the best present you can gift the world?

With love and blessings,

Kym xx

After the rain comes sun (and an excerpt from my book)

Looking down at the cemetery on the way into Berceto (Italy) on the Via Francigena

Looking down at the cemetery on the way into Berceto (Italy) on the Via Francigena

It’s been a tough 6 weeks with constant stomach pain, and grief and stress all coming up to be loved and healed.

Last weekend my body voiced its need to rest, heavy and lethargic with no desire to go anywhere or do anything. So I rested at home watching a new favourite series, Call the Midwife. I adore Sister Monica Joan with her poetic, mystical, deeply emotional and wise nature.

Contemplating what I would write about today in light of my current challenges, I remembered when I was walking the Via Francigena, how the ever-changing weather and the mud that clung to my boots tested me almost daily.  And so I felt inspired to share some excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Path We Make.

“After the rain comes sun. It managed to break through the clouds for large parts of the day. I welcomed its warmth on my skin, pausing to bask in the simple pleasure of it. Yet after the rain also comes wet grass and mud. Although my map showed that the canal path continued all the way into Châlons-en-Champagne, I followed the guidebook’s detour via Juvigny and trudged through 500 metres of thick, gunky mud that clung to the soles of my boots, gluing my feet to the ground. I hated the mud to the point of repulsion. I hated how it felt under my feet and I hated getting dirty. After stomping along for a time, I was relieved to turn onto a gravel path, but after 900 metres the gravel led to more wet grass and thick mud. The last 100 metres I walked through were a tangled mess of knee-high grass and blackberry bushes. The Red Beasts were wet again and so were my feet. My soles were clumped with mud and my pants smeared grey-brown. I missed the turn onto Rue St Martin that led to another field, but I didn’t mind walking along the hard bitumen for a while longer. At least my feet weren’t getting wetter or coated in more mud. Two kilometres down the road, I turned onto a gravel track back towards the main trail that became four more kilometres of clay and wet grass.

If I had to choose between walking all day in the rain on bitumen roads or walking in the sunshine on muddy wet tracks, I’m not sure which I would choose. They were both short straws: the bitumen punishingly hard, the rain a pain and the mud just plain repulsive. I tried to find something positive about mud and wet grass but couldn’t. It was annoying and gross and that was all. I was so happy when I finally turned back onto the concrete towpath and scraped the mud off my boots with a small stick. I had never spent this much time outdoors with limited shelter, exposed to whatever weather swept through, and with the need to keep moving. Unlike the week I walked through Tuscany in summer, when it was hot and hot only, I was experiencing four seasons almost every day, often numerous times each day, and it was testing my ability to accept what is.”

The Via Francigena pilgrimage tested me deeply and consistently on emotional, physical, spiritual and mental levels.  But for all the challenges, there were many gifts. Here’s another excerpt from my book from when I was walking from Berry-au-Bac to Reims in France. Kermit cloak is the name I gave to my green rain poncho.

“During the day I cursed the weather frequently. Melbourne is renowned for having four seasons in one day, but on this road it was four seasons every hour. Kermit cloak on then off, warm layer off then on again. Repeat, repeat, repeat! As frustrating as the weather was, it had its blessings too. A sudden shower forced me to put Kermit back on and then five minutes later the sun came out scorching, leaving me cursing as I ripped the Kermit off again. I rounded a corner and saw a host of yellow and purple wildflowers glistening in the sun. My cursing turned into cries of amazement.”

Amidst the frustration and trying times can be great beauty. And if there’s no beauty to be seen, don’t lose faith. The weather will eventually change, as will the seasons and the terrain you travel. Keep breathing.

With love and courage

Kym xx