Why Do We Run? (part 2)

 
Elizabeth Gilbert

I love that quote!  Elizabeth Gilbert is just totally unreal isn't she?!  I pinched this image from her Instagram feed because I thought it was a pretty good follow up to those words I expressed the other week, and also because it's one I love to read regularly, you know, just to remind myself. 

This post is Part 2 of Why Do We Run?  If you haven't read Part 1 yet, you may want to before continuing.  And also, please note that just like Part 1, this post contains a few swear words.  Although, I've held back on the F one this time ;)

Books

A beautiful conversation began the other week and you have all made me feel so darn supported in those huge life questions that I'm asking, so thank you!  Thank you for your support, thank you for your encouragement and thank you for joining me in my whys and validating my questions.

Not long ago, I had lunch with my friend; the ceramist, business owner and all round fabulously talented Ilona Glastonbury of Ottimade and The Hundred Mile Home.  I'm sure the two of us could talk for days and never run out of things to share, but part of what I love most about our connection, is how passionate we each are toward our creative pursuits.  And we each gain inspiration from similar sources.  It was during this lunch that she mentioned The Dent Podcast by Glen Carlson.  This Podcast is new to me, but episodes have been broadcasting for nearly a year and over the past few weeks, I have been steadily binge-listening my way through.  I want to highlight Episode 4, a conversation between Glen Carlson and Lisa Messenger, as it practically had me fist-pumping the air - I kid you not!  Lisa is something of a powerhouse (as are all of Glen's guests) and one look at that link by her name will offer you an insight into why she is described this way.  Lisa is the founder and CEO of Collective Hub, and although I can't even begin to touch on all the interests they are involved with, I will mention that one is the publication of a print magazine going by the same name- which at the date of her recorded conversation with Glen Carlson, was being distributed in 37 countries!!!  She is also the best-selling author of many books, including Daring & Disruptive and has a new one coming out later this year.

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I'm mentioning all this because when listening to the opening minutes of their podcast, I happened to be driving and had to pull over to start taking notes -after my fist pump, of course ;)  It blew me away that only a couple of days earlier, I had written the blog post, Why Do We Run? and then here she was, supporting the exact same thoughts I had been discussing. 

"Once you become Fearless, life becomes Limitless"

The Podcast is close to an hour and a half long, and although the whole thing is very worth listening to, the connections to Why Do We Run? all lie within the first fifteen or so minutes.  During this time Lisa describes a little of her journey and the life she led before she became an entrepreneur.  Her twenties were toxic!  And at some point she realised she 'was using alcohol as a crutch', and like I described in Part 1, those demons had been feasting off her fear for so long that that crutch was no longer working.  She had become so deeply depressed that suicidal thoughts were beginning to fill her.

"I made a very conscious decision.  The alternative wasn't looking great"

And so began a long journey of self discovery where she dived deeply into the realms of personal development and obviously found the strength and courage to face her fear, get messy with her pain, do the hard work and heal her emotional wounds.

"When you give up something, in my case alcohol, there is still a void... It doesn't disappear overnight, like it's there for a reason... why is there this yearning, this thing that I'm using as a crutch?  Then the real work started... you've gotta work out, what is that void?  And not start to fill it with other things"

Those other things she's talking about are the distractions I mentioned.  She continues with sharing a little about gaining awareness and consciousness around ego, and really, isn't that where it all comes from?  Ultimately it is our ego, that part of each of us that dwells deep down within our shadows.  It is our ego that tempts us to fill that void (aka our fear) and run from our pain.  But when you face it and deal with it and allow for the messiness of grief to unfold, then...

"You get to a point of complete detachment of outcome and surrender... it's quite extraordinary what opens up and what happens."

Yep, I absolutely agree and within days of listening to Lisa Messenger and Glen Carlson, I decided to pick up a copy of the latest Collective Hub magazine.  Next to it on the mag-stand was Dumbo Feather, a magazine I don't often purchase but found myself doing so this time as I tucked Collective Hub under my arm.  In one of those crazy, serendipitous moments, I flicked open my copy of Dumbo Feather (Issue 50, Feb 2017) and as I did, the pages fell toward an interview by Nathan Scolaro, with Dave Martin.  Dave is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of multiple companies, including Martin Builders and The Sociable Weaver.  Have a read of that exert in the pic below and you will understand why I am including it here! 

Give it a click if you need to super-size it.

Over the days that followed my last post, I kept being presented with these connections, one after the other.  Don't you just love it when that happens?  It feels like such confirmation, I reckon.  The comments on that post and it's corresponding one on Instagram, invited such insightful thoughts, interesting questions and personal stories.  It really is worth taking the time to have a read of them all.  Amid this discussion are my thoughts on our behaviour.  Our responses and our reactions, not just those of us who are directly involved but, as Laurie puts it in her comment, 'those of us on the outer ring of grief'.  She feels that...

"The usual utterance 'I'm sorry for your loss' rings hollow to me. I grasp for honest words that remain respectful."

What about you?  Do those words ring hollow for you too?  We've all said them, yes?

Think about it, and be honest.

I wholeheartedly agree with Laurie!  And her comment got me thinking about Why.  Why do they feel so hollow?  At first my cynicism came out to play and I muttered something about 'bloody Hallmark' under my breath.  Not toward Laurie, but toward our Western culture and the crap to which we are exposed on the newsstand and in the headlines every . single . day!  And although there is a point to be made on this, I think the real reason that those words ring hollow, and this is what I offered up to Laurie in the comments the other week, is that perhaps it is not so much that we are sorry for the loss, but more we are sorry that person we care about is in such pain and there's nothing we can do to relieve them of that..?

It begs Laurie's next question...

"What can we do, those of us on the outer ring of grief, to support our grieving friends and family?"

The answer is complicated, because truthfully, I don't know.  Yet I'm the one in the box seat, I am the ideal person to offer an answer since I've been on the inner ring as well as the outer.  I am the participant and the observer.  That's what's been so strange about my whole experience; that throughout it all, I have lived and breathed this thing from the perspective of being the grieving Next of Kin, but I have also analysed and explored that inner and outer ring as an observer.  Is that weird?  Because I don't really feel like it's weird, more so I feel like it's given me an advantage with which to enter into this discussion.  It reminds me of a TED Talk I once watched- I won't attach it here as it will take me far too long to find since I can't remember the name of the Speaker- but she was a Neurologist or a Neuroscientist or something and while she was experiencing a stroke, she was concurrently studying her experience of said stroke!  It blew me away that she could be the participant as well as the observer, and explore them both in unison as parallel experiences.  Obviously my circumstances are a little different but on some level, it offers me an understanding into how this woman was able to respond, participate and observe all at once. 

So going back to Laurie's question, what can we do?  I really think it depends on the individual.  What is the cause of their pain?  Who they are and how they are responding to their situation?  And, what elements are involved with that situation?  Their age, their past experiences, the trigger for their grief, their beliefs or spirituality?  Are there children to consider?  What key factors are of influence?  There are so many variables and perhaps this all connects to the dis-connection that lies within our culture?  I am yet to fully dive into the methods and grieving processes adopted in other areas of the world, but it really is a topic that fascinates me.  Not in any morbid sense but more in the way of gaining further enlightenment to see if anything could be adapted for our culture.  Perhaps offering us something more solid, a more dependable foundation from which to draw our responses to these game changers.  I don't know, these are just random thoughts, but interesting all the same.

In 2000 I travelled to India.  Nepal as well in that same trip, but it is something I witnessed while in India that I wish to focus on.  I was a backpacker staying in a guesthouse type accommodation and when in my room I was attracted to the window by a whole lot of music and singing (or perhaps it was chanting) out in the street.  I was on an upper level which gave me the most perfect bird's eye advantage and I didn't immediately realise what was going on until a hand-carried carriage draped in the most exquisite cloth went past.  Before and after this carriage, there were dozens of people playing musical instruments, clapping, singing and generally creating a great big mobile street party.  All with offerings of some sort and all clothed in bright beautiful saris or finely tailored suits.  It was a Hindu funeral procession, presumably making their way to the river where the burning ghats were located.  It was spectacular!  And what's more, it was a celebration!  All manner of emotions were being freely expressed, including great joy and laughter.  It struck me that for them, death is not an ending for they believe in afterlife and re-birth.  Their faith offers them something so strong and so solid that they can draw upon for their grief.  Who knows if they even refer to that loss as a 'grief', it certainly didn't seem that there was any fear or urge to run away from their emotions.  From my naive tourist perspective it looked like the loved ones were fully embracing every aspect of their pain through ritual and ceremony.

When answering that question, what can we do?  I have only my own personal experiences to draw from, my words are shaped from those experiences and are therefore unique to me and not necessarily a blanket rule.  I am a young widow with small children; a woman who suddenly had to adjust to being a single parent whilst swimming in the enormity and overwhelm of grief.  Well, I guess I wanted acceptance, lack of judgement, less pressure, less expectation.  It was not my loved ones who did this to me, but myself and the mindset within our society.  It's the structure of the matrix we all live in and the operations within that system at large.  Space, time, allowance; these were the things I craved, and these are the things that are so very difficult to obtain in our world.  I guess I wanted the busyness to stop so I could have the time and space to deal with my shit!

I wanted to talk openly about Tuck and about grief (and about fear).  I wanted to be given the freedom to do so without it being awkward, or without there being judgement and incorrect assumptions.  I wanted for others to feel mutually comfortable with it so that the conversation could flow both ways.  I don't believe it should be a forbidden topic, in my opinion, that is how it feels in our society, like something taboo, a no-go zone.  And really, I don't think that is healthy.  It only feeds into that fear and that urge to run away from our pain.  To block it and ignore it, to get busy and get on with things.  To fill that void, just like Lisa Messenger described.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to follow the queue of the person you are supporting.  If they want to laugh and have a joke, for God's sake, please laugh with them.  If they want to cry or rant or rave, then join them in that too.  Back in those early, early days, some people apologised to me for crying in front of me and I remember saying to them,

"no please don't apologise, you loved him too and if you fall apart it gives me permission to fall apart and I need to do that right now!"
Sarah Wilson

I'm barely a chapter in with reading Sarah Wilson's latest book, first, we make the beast beautiful - a new story about anxiety, but Sarah is the Wonder Woman behind I Quit Sugar fame and holds multiple best-selling titles to her name.  This newest one has just been released and has fast become a best seller as well.  From the bits and pieces I have been hearing and from the pages I have already pencilled and marked, I'm pretty sure it has a whole lot offer.  Sarah has been plagued with anxiety (and related dis-eases) since childhood and her voice is real, so beautifully real.  I haven't got to this quote in her book yet, but like with Elizabeth Gilbert's quote at the top, I pinched this one from Sarah's Instagram feed.

Sarah Wilson

It's a good one, isn't it?  My God, I don't think I have ever filled a blog post with so many quotes and links!  This has all been for a purpose though; to emphasise just how connected we all are with our emotional turmoil and to illustrate how worthwhile it is to do the work.  The Inner Work

So, shall we continue with this conversation?  I'm keen if you are, what do ya reckon?  Do you want to hear more details about this journey of mine?  What would you like to know, I'll answer anything, truly anything!  I've got so much I'm bursting to talk about.  And I've got one more quote too, plus a piece of inspiration to offer... 

The words of Charlotte Halroyd from an interview with Sahara Beck for Bitter Sweet Symphonies and a track from Sahara's album, Bloom

...She captures the very sentiment of what it means to be alive, to believe in the endless possibilities, the power of positivity and to not waste a single day, to realise your potential.

Now my friends, sit back, close your eyes and crank your volume!  And remember, 'we're the Creators'

Lots of love xo

Good Taste
 

Why Do We Run? (part 1)

 
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Please note... I don't hold back in this post and that includes my choice of language. If you are sensitive to harsh words then I apologise, it is not my intention to offend you xo

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I have something I really want to get off my chest.  It's a question- or series of questions rather- that I have been pondering over for a long long time.  Two years in fact! 

Over the weekend, we three went along to a classmates birthday party and while there I chatted with another Mum who I see once in a while.  She knows my story, as does pretty much everyone in our school community and I have no issues with that.  It's a close-nit community and I love that we all look out for one another.  So she knows my husband died and she knows my kids don't have a Dad.  She's a lovely woman and her interest and concern is always very well meaning.  Naturally she asked how I am, how things were going?  And I answered her honestly, as I always do.  I didn't get into the nitty-gritty (it was after all, a kid's party), but I told her that lately we've all been pretty great.  And after she asked about my work, I answered that things were getting very exciting, that Life for me was passing through a 'busy season' and although it's all feeling rather full-throttle, I'm having an absolute ball on this crazy wild ride and am buzzing over where things are heading. 

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Ignoring all the other details I had just offered, she clung to the word 'busy'!

'Good', she said.  'That's great.  Keeping really busy is the way to go isn't it... then you don't have to think about it'.

At this point I got a bit lost for words, I smiled tightly and excused myself.  A kid's party was not the place for me to dive into further discussion.  But if I had a dollar for each time this or something similar has been said to me over the past two years, I'd be investing in a private cabana somewhere exotic! 

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You see my friends, that there is the attitude, or more so that seems to be our programmed response to pain, loss and grief.  And that is what I am set to change.

Why do we want to run from it?

Why are we so desperate not to feel emotional pain?

Why, in the Western culture, do we not know how to react and respond to grief?  Or the most significant trigger for grief, Death?

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Now these are HUGE questions and I'm making a sweeping generalisation because of course there are exceptions.  But my motivation for asking them comes from a deeper level of understanding, not just the obvious answer of it being our fight or flight response.  I get that, I get that we all have the desire and that mechanism within us, to either stand and get really fucking angry, or to turn and run really fucking fast!  This is not the side of things I am talking about for we all know grief is inevitable.  It is a part of our existence and neither fight nor flight work in this case.  Not for the long-term anyway.

I can tell you that I have got down and dirty with grief.  I have felt the terror of one of life's nightmares come true.  The effect of spinning without any sense of gravity, with no anchor at all, it is a complete abyss.  To be alive and breathing without any sense of who you are, but knowing you are responsible for two small children.  To have every . single . thing that you know and that is familiar to you in your world, GONE!  At the flick of a switch, everything is different and you have no clue what to do and what is going to happen next.  THAT my lovely friends, that is real terror and there an't no running that you can do and no fighting to make it go away.

I have three older sisters and when the Sydney dwelling sister arrived on the first flight out after Tuck's accident, she came in and cradled me and I remember looking her in the eyes and saying, 'I'm just so fucking scared!'  What I described to you in that previous paragraph is the best way I can relay how I felt for those first couple of days after Tuck was killed.  I was 21 years old when we met and had been with him for over 17 years!

I continued to spin for a little while, and I continued to be consumed by the fear.  But eventually I stared at that fear, I looked at it point-blank and I said,

Fuck you fear!  Let's dance

And guess what?  I survived, and the fear was no longer so powerful.  But not only that, I came out the other side better, stronger, wiser, empowered and here's the biggest shock of all, happier!  It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me either, but then in some ways it does.  Grief is hard, it is messy, it is confusing but it is also so . God . Damn . Beautiful!

I don't go skipping through a field of daisies everyday, ha hell no, definitely not.  But Life is not meant to be all about daisies.  Life and our Human existence is about experiences and our connection to those experiences.  It's about our responses; those of our senses and our emotions.  It's about feeling those elements through observation and mindfulness and doing our best to not attach our Selves to our reactions.  Each and every one of us has been or will get dealt a shitty hand of cards at least once in our lives.  Something significant, some great Karmic test from the Universe.  I'm pretty clear on what those things have been for me to date (and I'm sure bloody hoping I'm done for this life-time!), but whatever that may be for you, just remember, that thing that has happened cannot be changed, some things are simply out of our control.  What is within our control is how we choose to respond. What is the effect that thing has upon our future?  How will we allow for it to influence us?   Will we choose to be the Eagle, or will we be the Mouse?

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Single parenting is hard and most days I flop into bed feeling utterly exhausted.  I sleep well, really well!  And despite the pace of it all and the juggle of it all, Life is ace.  I am happy and I am living each and everyday to the fullest.  I am truly at peace with Tuck's death and have my own deeply personal understanding for why it happened, why in the bigger picture and grander scheme of things, it had to be so.  I get it and I'm okay with it.  There is so much good to be had from it and for that I am mind-blowingly grateful.  I have a pretty clear idea of where my immediate future is headed, heck I hope so since I'm the one holding the reins ha ;) But who knows how things will unfold over the many years to come.  One thing is certain though, there is sure to be some exciting times ahead.

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Those big questions and this conditioned 'doom and gloom' response to death and grief are topics I am opening up for discussion.  They are topics I am beginning to speak of more and more, not just here in this space but out there in the real world too.  Through conversations, through my published words, and through public speaking.  Grief, pain and loss are very individual and our process with them are as unique as we are.  There is no right or wrong way and my intention is not to shove whatever methods I have used down others throats.  What I'm about is encouraging others and inspiring those to face it, not run from it.  Maybe even recognise the beauty within the pain, for it is there to be seen if you choose to acknowledge it.  Not a single one of us can avoid grief.  No matter the trigger, it is a vital part to our human existence. 

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I am using my experiences to change our conditioned response.  I am open and comfortable with talking about the details of my journey.  There really isn't a single question that I wouldn't answer if I thought that answer could benefit another in some way.  I'm turning our response to this thing called grief on it's head by creating a positive where there has, in our society, only been the negative.

Dealing with this stuff in a way that is healthy, open, honest and authentic is what builds our wisdom.  It strengthens us as individuals and as a collective Being.  What do we have to gain by running from it?  What benefit to our truest self do the distractions we put in place offer us?

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I honestly believe the answer is Nothing!  I believe that the more we run from emotional pain, the more likely it will manifest in another way. 

Suppression = Depression

Ignoring pain does not make it go away.  It does not mean it no longer exists.  What it does mean is that it will fester and ooze out of our physical Being in the form of some ugly dis-ease.  The longer it is left to fester, the more likely whatever we are using to distract ourselves will become an addiction.  Eventually the addiction is no longer an effective mask and we are forced to address the real issue, the real pain, that demon that has been feasting off our fear. 

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What would you prefer?  To face that fear and feel the pain associated with grief through each messy part of the process sooner?  Or to delay the inevitable and have it be so much worse down the track?

Believe me, I know.  I tried it nearly thirty years ago when my Dad died - I was 12 years old.  I finally dealt with my grief eleven years later, when I was 21 years old and started to experience anxiety and a bit of depression.  As soon as I address the root cause of these disorders; that being my suppressed pain, I was no longer affected or restrained by their power.

Twenty-nine years later and I was served my next major Life hurdle the night that Tuck died.  I'm glad I chose the first option this time around and faced that pain head-on.

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If you know of anyone experiencing a hard time; major change, loss, any form of grief..?  Feel free to forward them the link to this post, or tag them in on Instagram if that's what led you here.  Maybe it might help them a little?  Perhaps these words and my experience might offer them courage to feel all the feels and stand in their vulnerability. 

Sending lots of love out to you all and wishing you so much happiness in your days xo

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** all these images were taken on a recent trip to a friend's property in the South Aussie Outback!  If you're on Instagram then you would have seen a few of these already ;)

 

Read Why Do We Run? (part 2) here

 

Nurture :: Summer, Issue #18

 
Nurture Cover

Sometimes I wonder what methods other writers use when working on an article.  When I work, I like to write freely.  I like to blurt everything out until I have comprehensively covered all the thoughts I want to express.  My initial draft is usually written without any regard to word-count and once in the zone, I tend to go on and on.  This means that more often than not, that first draft is waaay passed my word allowance and it is during the editing stage, or polishing as it is known, that I trim it back and tidy it up.  Usually it's not too difficult and once polished, that babbled 200 word paragraph has morphed into one or two far more concise and articulate sentences.  And sometimes I find I have digressed onto something else entirely and whole chunks get slashed.  That's when whole paragraphs get bracketed and a fat red line runs through them.  When I'm way over my word-count it's those fat red lines that bring me back on track.

Contents Page

It was nearly twelve months ago when I was writing and polishing this article for the latest issue of Nurture Magazine and by the time I had finished blurting everything out, that first draft had blown beyond my word-count by nearly 1,000 words!!!  It needed a fair amount of tidying up and I had to get ruthless with those big fat red lines.  I did it, I polished away and by the ninth or so draft I had something within my word-count (just!) and worthy of sending through to Kristy, Nurture's Editor-in-Chief. 

So why did that initial draft blow out so much?  Well, I was writing about a pretty huge topic and one that is very near and dear to me.  This article, The Gift Of Grief, discusses the healing strategies I have explored for both myself and the kids.  My hope is that our experience and the ideas I share may aid other parents and/or caregivers when helping children heal after loss and tragedy.  Now can you see why I struggled to keep to word-count?  I mean really, I could easily write a books worth but for now, I've pull out the key elements and squished them into two and half thousand words.  The ideas I share can be adapted depending on the magnitude and depth of loss, and many of them have involved a holistic, unconventional approach.  Nurture is 'Australia's Natural Parenting Magazine', and I hope my suggestions offer readers a fresh and uplifting perspective toward a difficult and often uncomfortable topic.

Gifts Of Grief

It feels like so long ago now that I wrote this piece that when my copy arrived earlier this week, I felt a little nervous about re-reading it.  I'd love to hear what you think so do try and grab it for yourself - it's the Summer Issue, #18, and is choc-full of quality content.  Nurture is available from most newsagents Australia wide but you can also order a copy directly through their website

Happy weekending, friends - our Summer school holidays are drawing to a close all too soon and Monday sees us fumbling back into the morning routine once more. 

Wish me luck ;) xo

Issue 18