Staying close to the mystery and less planning

“Run from what's comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I'll be mad.”—Rumi

It is the eve of the last day of the year and the eve of the eve of the first day of the New 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 and I have even tried some but this year they are triggering a sense of overwhelm and resistance: So much to analyse and think about. So many rituals and practises 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 year turned out nothing like I planned.

I dreamed of walking from Rome to Jerusalem. I planned it all out and started making it happen within my human sense of time. Then I sprained my ankle, which was the catalyst for a number of other injuries that dominoed up and down my body. I did not walk from Rome to Jerusalem this year. In fact I barely walked at all.

Whilst my plans failed, there have been great gifts in my injuries and healing that I may not have experienced this year if my plan had come to fruition: coming home to my body, a humbling and surrender of my ego.

I would never have chosen this journey through injury and pain myself but now that it has happened I wouldn't change it either.

Maybe the vast intelligence of this world knows a bit more about what I need to experience in life than I do and it knows how to bring me that experience so I don’t have to go out of my way to create it.

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. 

If we stay in deep conversation with the Divine throughout the year we will be shown the experience of our dreams through the eternal moment not calendar time. 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 and so as one human year ends and another one begins, I naturally feel pulled towards reflecting upon my year as well, lightly, kindly and with deep gratitude for all 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, month, year.

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.

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.

For 19 years, my experience of Christmas has been overshadowed by my feelings of grief and loss and aloneness.

19 years ago on the 19th of December my mum died. I not only lost my mum but also Christmas as I knew it.

As the years have passed, our family has expanded when Dad remarried and nieces and nephews have been born, and contracted as people have left this world. Papa, my mum’s dad, died the day after the fourth anniversary of mum’s passing and Christmas was overshadowed by yet another loss and more grief and sadness. For a long time I felt lost within a larger 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 and grief and sorrow cannot be commanded away. 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. It is there always it’s just 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 says, "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."

These last few months have presented me with many challenging moments. There have been a lot of tears as I have 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.

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 was revelling 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 just not the kind of joy I thought of in the past.

It is only my mind that labels experiences and emotions as good and 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.

I don't feel delighted, light-hearted or frivolously happy anticipating the approach of Christmas Day. Maybe one day I will but how I feel right now is okay.

I don't have to love Christmas. I don’t have to pretend to be happy.

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.

* The Upanishads are a collections of texts that contain some of the central concepts of Hinduisim.


So many times over the last few weeks I have sat down to write about what has happened since I left London to drift. Each time I felt like I was in the word version of a snow dome: words and sentences danced around my head but didn't come together to form what I wanted to say.

Sometimes life is messy and chaotic and it doesn't seem to make any sense and we don't have to make sense of it although we may try. So here I am, again, trying.

Consistent with the theme of my life this year, drifting did not turn out as I dreamed it might.

In hindsight, Rome probably wasn't the best city to visit so soon after recovering from my initial back and pelvis issues. It is a BIG city and with so much to see and absorb, it is one that I just cannot NOT walk in. 

I love walking. I love feeling the earth beneath my feet. I love the freedom of moving, powering my own movement towards anything I set my heart and sights on. 

So I walked. Everywhere. Even out of Rome along Via Appia Antica which would have been my route out of Rome to Jerusalem.

And I ruptured the plantar plate in my left foot which resulted in a new round of lower back pain so severe I could barely stand and watch Papa Francesco give Mass at St Peter's Square. Walking became a slow shuffle.

Optimistic and stubborn, I hoped for the best that it would just go away. I travelled to the hilltop town of Orvieto in Umbria but my back did not improve and the pain of strolling around the small town was overshadowing the joy of being in such a beautiful place. 

I dreamed of drifting through mystical places like Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, Meteora in Greece and then Istanbul but my body was not in alignment with this dreaming. It cried out for me to stop. It brought me to a standstill. Heeding its call, I returned to London for further treatment and stayed there for 4 weeks before deciding it was time to return to Melbourne to continue healing on native soil.

These last few months have been challenging as I have struggled to cope with pain and accept that life had presented me with an experience that I had not expected, wished for or wanted. That I cannot do what I want to do: move, walk, travel, and lately even drive. At first I was frustrated with my body. I felt like it had let me down but now I think it has been more faithful to my spirit than I have been.

I have learned a lot about the human body: how everything is connected and how it compensates for injuries, how the mind and our thoughts affects our posture and movement. I have seen firsthand how our biography becomes our biology and how changing those stories, those thoughts and beliefs systems can change the body.

I have met some wonderful healer teachers who have touched me as much with their caring, compassionate, passionate spirits as with their healing and teachings.

As Tosha Silver says in Outrageous Openness, "When the agenda and shopping lists of the ego are released, room is created for a Divine Plan far beyond the manipulations of the mind. To me, this is what creates true happiness and awakening. Then existence becomes a daily surprise as it unfolds, and we can literally be used by Love as a force for good. Life happens through us and for us, rather than BY us. It is actually a very, very powerful way to live. And it is available to anyone...with practice."

This is my learning and it is my practice. And when I forget then remember I will practice again and again.

Since I became a modern gypsy almost 7 years ago, splitting my time between Melbourne and Thailand, returning to Melbourne has been a love-hate experience for me. I was born there. My family and many friends live there but I don't have my own home base there and I don't feel a strong connection to the city. When I am living there, I feel too far from wild nature. I have spent so much time living outdoors close to the jungle and in the sea that I feel dry and barren in the city.

As part of my search for truth and meaning, I have been looking for a place on the earth that feels like home. I was looking outside of myself when what I needed was to come home to myself first.

This body that is the temple of my spirit, my connection between heaven and earth. This body that has been shamed and punished and neglected. This body, my body is the most important home I have regardless of where it happens to be on this planet. 

This period of my life is one of remembering and of learning to fully inhabit my home.

Finally I am settling in, loving what is uniquely mine and attending to my housekeeping: breathing, stretching, stillness, paying attention to how my body feels, how it moves, what it needs, my beliefs, my thoughts and patiently re-training my body's movements so it is centred and balanced and I am pain-free.

View to Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome

The joy of bubbles, Piazza del Popolo, Rome

A lady caring for the pigeons, Rome.

My would-have-been maybe-one-day route out of Rome to Jerusalem

The bridge to Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio

View from Orvieto