I like to think that there were bluebirds singing and the sun was shining, you know à la Snow White, but I doubt that was the case.
In fact the historical forecast says it was:
“Dull, rather cold and very dry”
So, not the Fairy-tale entrance I would have hoped for
I have always loved birthdays.
On your birthday, though you may be shy or uncertain how to receive it, the one thing you are allowed to get and like receiving on this day in particular – is attention.
But for me it’s been much more than that and always has been.
I have always had a sense of the spiritual and revered birthdays even as a young child. I didn’t know why then, but I guess it’s because birthdays, much like New Year’s Day often cause us to become contemplative.
More importantly I have always felt that birthdays are an opportunity for me at least, to start anew and change what I may not have liked in the previous year.
I believe that we are precious; each and every one of us.
The wonder that is YOU !When I look into the wonder that is the face of my grandchild and I feel the overwhelming joy she brings and the immense gratitude that showers when I think of how I have been so blissed and graced with the beauty of her soul.
I am awed…
I am awed because I realise, I too was and still am SO wonderful…
So too are YOU!
I am awed by the trust her soul has placed in me, by choosing me to be her guardian and her ‘Ya Ya.’
The day she was born was unreal…
I relived the heightened, intense and deeply emotional rush of love, protectiveness and sheer unadulterated joy that I’d experienced with the birth of her mother before her and her mother’s siblings.
It confirmed what I think I instinctively knew as a child and why I have always revered birthdays and made an effort to celebrate them.
It confirmed to me, that with birth we get to truly touch and be reminded of our connectedness to all…
The intensity of birth (and I have no doubt of our soul’s passing), is electrifying and that surge of loving energy reminds us (or me at least) that we are more that just the skin and bone shell we inhabit and that we are limitless!
So, today especially, whether or not we are celebrating birthdays or not; We can try and remind ourselves every day.
This is my new mantra… Why not make it yours too?
I will remember my connection to all there is
I will remember I am love and kindness and compassion embodied if I so choose
I will remember I am infinite
I will remember to forgive myself and others for perceived failings
I will get up, and get on with living
I will be gentle with myself and talk to myself as I would my granddaughter
I like to think that there were bluebirds singing and the sun was shining, you know à la Snow White, but I doubt that was the case.
In fact the historical forecast says it was: “Dull, rather cold and very dry” So, not the Fairytale entrance I would have hoped for, however I was bright, inquisitive and curious and importantly I was and have always been very interested in people.
You know you have those moments when you re-assess your life, well, recently in that moment I realised I had spent a significant part of my life ‘playing small.’ It didn’t feel good and I know that now the time is right for me to JUST STOP IT!
Criticism: The Spirit killer
I have always been full of curiosity and expectation; hungry for information and I tend to see life through hopeful and excited eyes, yet more often than not this was seen as a problem and I received much criticism for my exuberance and wish for knowledge.
Instead of being of being congratulated for being curious and thirsty to know more I got instead:
“yuh too farce!”
“yuh know too much”
“yuh always have and ansa fi evryting”
Criticism which made me second guess my own decisions and be unsure about what I should do and which decisions I should make that were in MY best interests.
The second thing that I think contributed to me subconsciously playing small was developing a fear of upsetting others. When we are made to believe that our successes are at the expense of others and that in doing so others may suffer, then we unconsciously pull in and stop ourselves from expanding too greatly or from shining too brightly.
When I was young my sisters and I were obliged to spend a lot of time at my aunt’s house. We were practically brought up with our cousins but it meant constant comparisons and our achievements being pitted against each other…
As a very academic youngster and a naturally curious person I was more often than not out front in that particular race and so when my cousins were chastised for not being able to keep up, I realise now that on a subconscious level I dimmed my light because shining too brightly meant others would suffer.
This has been a recurring theme in my life and no doubt for some of you too. The thing with playing small is that it’s quite an insidious and subconscious little saboteur. It’s also a bit of a chameleon and shape shifts, like a ninja when you least expect it to.
What do I mean by that?
What I mean is that we play small for a number of reasons, but how you play small can show up as something else entirely.
In what ways could you be playing small?
Playing small for me manifest as people pleasing. I learnt quickly as a child that I would receive positive affirmation and attention if I did as I was told, if I did the things my primary carers expected of me.
In addition to this I am an eldest child and so we are, more often than not trained to be responsible not just for ourselves, but the behaviours and emotions of those siblings that come after us. Now this is great up to a point, but it didn’t exactly endear me to my siblings nor some of my peers when you’re behaving like yet another ADULT in their lives.
It’s a heavy burden and a responsibility which leaves you feeling you’re stuck between the ‘rock’ of adult and carer expectations of your behaviour and the ‘hard place’ of just being a child, relating to your siblings and peers and doing what other children do because when you do allow yourself to be a child, you are chastised.
“You’re the sensible one!”
“I didn’t expect this from YOU!”
“I trusted you to…”
“You should know better…”
and so on…
Who am I really?
In order to avoid the guilt and disappointment we can often feel we are creating, the result of the expressed disappointment, we can spend a life-time giving out and being what everyone else needs us to be, when they needed us to be it and forget – no, never really knew that we are the first person we should give to.
It is only when I give to myself, that I am filled up enough to overflow and spill out with the energy abundance, love, affection, advice, support, confidence or whatever it is that others want and I choose to give out.
The other way that I ‘played small’ and I know there are others of you, who do this too, is that I constantly looked to others, seeking their advice and approval before making decisions for my own life and myself.
I failed to trust my own intuition and my own guidance.
Whether you look to the advice of someone you respect, the advice of friends, teachers or Gurus OR whether you look to horoscopes, Runes and Tarot, what you’re doing is relinquishing your power to another and playing small.
Now don’t get me wrong, the advice of others can be invaluable…
However, it’s when you allow that advice or opinion to usurp a burning desire within you, when you allow that advice to quench the fire of feeling uplifted and expanded, when you overthrow opportunities that makes you feel excited & joyous because someone cautioned you against it, that’s when you know you’re playing small.
Their advice becomes the excuse you use to justify not stepping up to the expanded and amazing self you know you could be.
How do you know it?
Because you felt excited by the opportunity.
Remember most people, even with the best of intentions, operate from within their own experience, thoughts and feelings. So, even if their advice comes with love and they have the best intentions for you, they can only advise you from within the confines and limits of their own life’s lessons.
THESE ARE NOT YOUR LESSONS!
So, the next time you’re faced with a decision or opportunity, check in with yourself consider if the choice you’re about to make makes you feel expanded or constricted, reactive and motivated by fear or expanded and joyous.
I hope you’ve had fine Bank Holiday weekend. I was out early today and became entranced by what I saw.
At the side of my house are a set of concrete steps. Not too dissimilar to the ones in the picture. They look like a mountain when you stand at the bottom and look up
66 in total!
I have taken to running up them 5 times (I’ve now progressed to 6) every other day.
I’m just back in from pummeling them and I am sweaty and seriously out of breath, but I reckon I’m not doing badly for a 50 year-old.
As I ran up and wheezed and coughed back down to run up again and again I couldn’t help but notice how nature had forced its way through between the cracks and crevices of the thickest most dense concrete. In between the steps, the metal and concrete retaining walls of the buildings and in potholes and cracks in the tarmac.
Wherever there was the tiniest of gaps (and sometimes where there wasn’t one) plants and weeds had found a way through to find the light and thrive. I began to see this as a metaphor for our connection with the God/Universe.
You see no matter how many troubles you are wrestling with, no matter how dense you feel your life is, no matter how much concrete you feel smothered by, no matter how buried you think you are under the yoke of the burdens you think you carry.
The light is always there just beyond and has the power to help you break through.
The key to finding the light is:
We re all on a journey, all travelling, yet it’s amazing how much we will worry and focus on the concrete instead of the light beyond it.
When travelling to another country or town or city, you focus on where you’re going and if you become unsure of the way you ask for directions.
Are you focusing on the issue, instead of the light and how you would want things to be?
Are you focused on where you’re going?
Where you are?
OR (the worst case scenario) are you focused in where you’ve been?
The light beyond the concrete and the dirt is waiting for you to pull through to the light. If you’re lost, ask for directions.
Miracles are in the air today, I can feel them
JUST ASK for yours and watch in wonder as your miracle unfolds in ways you could never have imagined.
I came to Sunday rather worn out after an afternoon trekking the shops of Leeds City centre yesterday afternoon. So you find me today, still rather weary after chores of washing the week’s laundry, cleaning the kitchen bin, sorting the recycling and cooking a very delicious Vegan meal – Sometimes I outdo myself I swear!
Well, as you gathered the a.m. and afternoon & early evening have been rather leisurely this Sunday, but I am now rejuvenated and ready, so here are my ramblings for this week. I hope you enjoy them, but more importantly I hope you find here insights within it that go some way to improve your life.
The presence of Beauty
You probably do not know, but I tend to reflect on my week and then decide what the ‘theme’ has been. If I can then offer any words of wisdom on that theme or idea, I will then take to my laptop and ‘hey presto’ another message is penned and ‘Yes,’ I do get up and write them on Sundays. I don’t queue them up and have the computer automatically send them on a particular date, though it would make life easier for me if I did.
Anyway, back to the purpose of today. The theme that seems to have been prevalent this week is ‘Beauty.’
A Surprise for the year 10 Bandits
You all already know I teach and as such I come into contact with children of all shapes, forms, temperaments, dispositions and character. Earlier this week a female student of mine was surprised when I agreed to an after-school session to help them with some coursework.
Now, just a bit of context. This Year 10 group are small, but notorious in the school. They include four pupils (out of 14) who are constantly in trouble. Two in particular, if they haven’t been excluded are usually on some form of report or other for their behaviour.
This group has gnawed at me, niggled and taunted me. They have insulted me, disrupted lesson after lesson, and taken me to the very ‘end of my tether,’ yet I refused to give up on them.
So Ayesha was surprised, no shocked when I agreed to give them the extra help and said incredulously:
“Even me! But you hate me!”
I could have fallen over!
“Ayesha,” I said, “ I have never in my decade of teaching met a child that I didn’t like.”
“Not even me, after everything?” she continued.
Well, that was my cue for another one of my ‘put your pens down and listen,’ leap-onto-my-soapbox moments.
I made to clear to her that of course I challenged her, but it was her behaviour that I resisted, not her. I asked her if she understood that who she is, in her essence, her being, is not the same as how she ‘CHOOSES’ (and it is a choice) to behave.
I think she got it…
Light & Beauty & more beauty
Later in the week, Thursday to be precise, I was talking to a friend and during the conversation I mentioned how much I adore being around the pupils I teach; how they are “So full of light, & beauty but they don’t know it.”
Don’t worry; there is a point to all of this…
Last night, I came across an article on Jyoti Amge, (see image left), who according to the Guinness book of records, is the smallest woman in the world. She reminded me of the lovely Muhammed who I taught up until last week.
He, like Jyoti has a form of dwarfism (which appears very similar to hers) and stands about 2ft and a bit in height, yet he’s 12 years old. I wondered what it’s like to spend your life literally ‘looking up.’ to everyone you meet and staring at thighs and kneecaps when you’re in a crowd.
As I saw him chatting to other pupils on the corridor and shouting ‘hi’ as he delights everyone he meets It occurred to me; he is unusual yes, but beautiful, ordinary, he is Muhammed and he is completely at peace with who he is and that is as it should be. It occurred to me that many of us should do as Muhammad does and just be ourselves.
Accept YOUR beauty…
It’s in ALL of us…not just SOME of us
Then today, during another conversation, I happened to say to another friend during an online chat, that:
“The longer I am on this earth the more I more I appreciate the beauty in all of us.”
Why is it then that like Ayesha we often cannot see the beauty that lies in us all?”
Whether you’re like Jyoti or Muhammed or Erika Ervin, the world’s tallest woman (6ft 8inches), whether you’re Ayesha, a confused teenager, searching for self acceptance, purpose and love or whether you’re just YOU, what I’d like you to see and really understand, that what I have learnt in my time here is:
You are beautiful.
We are ALL beautiful.
We are ALL a true reflection of the life’s beauty and the beauty everywhere on this Earth.
In the same way that I have always seen beauty in my pupils, despite what they feel, despite what they fail to see in themselves, what I hope you really get is that someone somewhere is looking at you with love or admiration or respect or all three!
My challenge to you this week is to see your own light, your own beauty.
Truly see it
See it now
Celebrate it regardless of any external reflection or approval.
When you DO, you will truly start to live free from the need for acceptance.
Realise that your life is yours and you will encounter life in ease or resistance according to what you think about yourself and through the relationship you have with yourself.