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

Grief at Christmas and the joy that isn't happiness

Grief at Christmas and the joy that isn't happiness

"From joy all beings have come.

In all joy beings are sustained.

To joy all beings return.

This is the highest teaching.

This is the highest teaching."

—The Upanishads*

We are now on the eve of Christmas Eve. This time of year 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.

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It’s how we travel that matters

It’s how we travel that matters

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." — Abraham Lincoln

Last Sunday, a man who I worked with closely for seven years – a colleague, a mentor, a friend – passed away, suffering a cardiac arrest in hospital as he was recovering from a stomach bypass operation.

The news was unexpected. At first I was filled with disbelief and shock. You see Max was larger than life. He was a people person through and through. He loved telling stories, very long ones so that you would find yourself walking out of his office two hours later when you only walked in to ask a quick question.

He made time for everyone, to listen, to help them and offer sage advice. He also made time to serve his community. Max was the co-founder of an amazing business; a longtime member of Rotary and past President; a supporter of the Austin Hospital and The Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre. These are just few of his contributions to this world.

I think it is because of his great love for people, and his tireless and endless service in this world, it seemed like he would go on forever but maybe his physical heart couldn’t contain the enormous amount of love that was in there any longer.

Once the shock passed, grief rolled in on overwhelming waves. At first the strength of my reaction seemed strange to me. I hadn’t seen Max in just over 18 months — not since his original business partner and my very dear friend, Lynne retired. And I hadn’t seen him often since I left Snowball 5 ½ years ago as I spent a lot of that time overseas.

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