Guilt & Shame

 
Worth

I've been trying to write this post for months (or so it feels) but it hasn't been an easy one to piece together.  I've struggled with what to say and how to say it, and also what not to say.  Initially when I first felt inspired to write about shame and guilt, especially their relationship to fear, pain and grief, I thought it would all just come spilling out of me, and although I feel like I have those words and thoughts ready to spill, I'm also acutely aware that there are parts of my experience with shame and guilt that cannot yet be shared.  They will be soon, when the time is right, but for now I have to skit around the edges and not delve into a really significant part of my personal experience.  Not only does that feel frustrating, but it also feels like I'm dishonouring you by not sharing all that I want to share.  Oh the irony of it all, feeling the shame and guilt over writing about the very same!  There's nothing straight forward about us Humans is there?!  We really are a multi-layered complicated bunch! 

On that note, you are aware that just because I'm writing about this stuff and encouraging this discussion, it does not mean I have all the answers, yes?  This is us engaging in a conversation so that we can all gain some kind of enlightened healthy perspective and take a little bit of peace and understanding into our days.  None of us have the answers and that is why I believe this conversation is so important.  It does not mean I've finished working through all my stuff, I'm not sure any of us ever actually finish working through our stuff.  We shed, we gain, we work on it, we clear it and we become stronger and more able to recognise our stuff for what it truly is.  We're able to play the observer of that stuff and of those emotions rather than attaching our 'selves' and our reactions to it.  This is what comes with digging deeply and doing the inner work.  We are Beings in a Human body here to have Human experiences. This is what it's about!  So here I am sitting in this topic of guilt and shame, while feeling the discomfort of those conditions, and simultaneously writing about them.  Now you see why this post has been a struggle?  Plus, that experience right there is another example of that 'observing the experience while participating in the experience' thing that I mentioned in this post.  Right now, I'm feeling it, observing it, allowing for said feelings and acknowledging their presence, but... BUT, I'm not attaching my 'self' to them and therefore they have no power or control over me.  Because of that, they cannot influence my reactions and emotions.  I continue to have the choice over how I feel in this given moment and how that shapes the direction of my future.  Huh?  You say.  How does that work when I've just admitted that I'm unable to share the fullness of my experience in this part of my story...?  Well, it's not my fear that is blocking that, it's the compassion and respect for some of my loved ones, and that makes it very very different.  That is why I have my conflict, because I have to make a choice between honouring myself and our conversation (yours and mine), or maintaining necessary respect and compassion for those closest to me.  Eeep... like I said, we're a multi-layered complicated bunch!

I decided I wanted to try and illustrate this Human Experience with a visual, so I designed a little flowchart.  You can supersize it by giving it a click.  It's a work in progress though, okay.  This is the very first time I've tried to connect the dots in a visual way and even as I publish this post, I think it's highly possible that some tweaking is needed.  The difficulty is that there are so many grey areas, so many blurred boundaries and interchangeable aspects.  In truth, there could probably be a whole lot more detail and a thousand double headed arrows directing the energies toward and away from each other.  But hey, it's a start and I didn't want to overcrowd it or make it too complicated!  A simple visual always works best, less is more yes?  And what I would dearly dearly love, is for your input.  I would love to create a chart that we have all worked on together, so that this really can be a collaborative project.  It is The Human Experience after all.  And just so you know, the 'Triggers' are not limited to those I have listed, but I've just tried to focus on the massive significant 'game changers'.  Our ultimate aim within ALL Human experiences is to chose LOVE over FEAR and no matter what has gone on, is going on or is yet to go on, we always, ALWAYS, have that choice!

I have a friend who recently shared with me her struggles with guilt and shame.  Her guilt around not offering support to someone she loves during their time of grief.  Her shame over her own avoidance of pain, and that compounding effect of shame over the shame!  Like I mentioned in my initial Why Do We Run post; grief and pain are inevitable, fear is unavoidable, but guilt and shame?  Well, I'm of the belief that they are a choice, what do you think?  They definitely do not serve us any positive purpose and I'm wondering whether guilt and shame come about as a direct result of fear and are created when we forfeit our power to said fear?  If we are able to fill our fear with Love and the self-worth and compassion that surrounds Love, would that grant us freedom from guilt and shame?  I'm thinking that maybe it just might. 

During that time when my friend was unable to support her friend through her grief, my friend was herself experiencing massive emotional turmoil and pain from another unrelated event.  She has been carrying some level of shame and guilt ever since as she wishes she had been able to be there for her friend.  Now I am unaware of her friend's response in all this but I do know that my friend needs to absolutely let herself off the hook!  She needs to forgive herself and the great thing is that her process has begun.  She now recognises it for what it is and how it has come about.  Like I said to her, seeing the truth behind those fear based energies is the first massive step to clearing and releasing it, and therefore no longer attaching ourselves to it or allowing it the power to define who we are and who we wish to become.  Her forgiveness of herself needs to come from Love and honouring her own worth.  To choose compassion over shame, Love over Fear.  She also needs to detach her response from that of her friend's.  Definitely not an easy thing to do and not especially if her friend is unable to move through her own grief because she could very well project her own pain and fear onto my friend, which in turn would exacerbate my friend's guilt and shame... and the vicious wheel keeps turning. 

Something I have experienced over the past two and a half years, but only recently worked through my negative response, is that you can't force someone to deal with their stuff.  Encourage them, YES.  Support them, YES.  But force them, no.  It's just like the old saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.  What I mean by this is that there are many people who use to be in the life I shared with Tuck, who are no longer in my life now *.  Each one of these people spoke many promises to me during those early days.  Those promises have not been kept and you know what?  That's totally okay!  I didn't necessarily feel that way twelve months ago, heck I'm not even sure I felt that way six months ago!  I've had to dig deep and work through my fear based reactions that manifested as disappointment and anger.  As soon as I shoved my Ego (read fear) out the way, I saw the truth and I was able to switch those negative feelings into compassion.  These people, their response, their lack of action?  It's nothing to do with me or my children, and it's only very loosely connected to Tuck.  It's about them.  It's about their pain, their fear, their grief.  They were/are not able to support me because they did/do not have it to give.  They have not fitted their gas mask (explanation coming), in other words, they have not yet honoured their own healing.  They are hurting too much and are consumed by their own fear and their own pain.  And they are the only ones who can take responsibility for that.  It's a self-care thing and around that is a self-worth thing.  Guess what my 'Word For The Year' is for 2017?  Ha, yep, WORTH!  KABAMMM!!!!  There we have it. 

Worth

There was an article I wrote last year that was published in an Aussie mag, where I shared about single parenting and used the analogy of flight attendants when they advise passengers to fit their own gas masks before assisting another.  You know the one... in the event of an emergency etc etc... it's always standard legal procedure before take-off.  We can translate that to ALL areas of life.  The friend I mentioned before (my friend, not my friend's friend), and those other people in my life who haven't kept their promises, they are the passengers.  We are all the passengers if we are not honouring our own self-worth and we continue to allow fear to drive the car.  We have to fit our own gas mask before stepping up to help.  You cannot step up to help in any true emotionally supportive sense if you yourself are in pain, if you are grieving, and any action of support will be diverted because of that emotional pain.  Does that make sense?  Let me offer an example, there are people who I have asked to help out in various ways, small things, easily dismissible things.  Although willing and of good intent, the follow through of their actions has lacked because (I believe) of their own fear and grief.  That action serves as a reminder to the pain they themselves are trying to run from.  It's harder to ignore if it's right in your face and that is what the 'follow though' to their promises, that action of support, does.  It shoves it right back into the forefront of your consciousness.  The reason my friend needs to detach her response from her friend's response is because depending on where her friend is at, it may not serve as a benefit.  If I did not feel compassion for these people who were unable to support me, then my grief, my pain, my fear, could create a very ugly scenario and add layers of guilt and shame to what they are possibly already experiencing.  We should never try and project our fear onto someone else, that's ours to work through, not theirs.  No doubt they have their own and it can get very confusing when we subconsciously take on that which belongs to someone else.  There's an acronym for this and my dear friend and healer calls it, OPS (Other People's Shit!)

So my friends, how about we make a pact?  Let's all connect through our Love not our fear and let's remove our attachments to our own and each others fear so that these things called guilt and shame are no longer a part of our conditioning.  No one said these Human experiences were easy!  But you know what?  When you actually learn how to observe them instead of attach to them, it becomes a bit of a game.  I like to think of it as a golf game in particular, not that I've ever properly played golf but I have done the odd 9 hole in the past and here's the thing... if you get lazy or cocky, even just for one stroke of the club, if you slump on your stance or short cut your follow through, your games gonna go to crap! 

So people, let's stand up tall, straight and strong, let's breathe, let's focus, and let's play shall we? ;)

xo

 

Making Pretty.jpg

 

* A part of this distancing from those other people in my life is also connected to the natural evolution of things.  I am just emerging from my chrysalis, that forced metamorphosis brought on by Tuck's death.  I have changed, absolutely.  I believe my experience has created a difference within me that is better than how I was before.  With that comes a natural shift, one that is part of the cycle of life.  I am not who I was before and I don't want to be.  I wonder if a butterfly ever acknowledges it's life as a caterpillar, or whether it even remembers that life?  Some things, some people, some friendships, I recognise as belonging to who I was, not who I am.  They are part of a previous season now, one that is doing it's own thing and undergoing it's own adventures as I welcome the new things, the new people and the new friendships that are helping me create the seasons of my future.

** The little bits and pieces in the top photograph were temporarily taken from my Vision Board for this year for the purpose of that pic - they're back where they belong now... pinned among all the other things that are important to me and are a part of my annual focus.  My Board is positioned right above my desk where I can see all those good things, all day, every day ;)  And my Word For The Year garland?  Well, I have this box of pretty wooden letter cuts, only at the start of this year I couldn't find that box for all the tea in China, so I used what letters I could from the scattered random ones I found in my search and Evie offered to make the remaining, "W" and "T".  I have since found my box, but I rather like that my girl and I collaborated for my "WORTH" so I kept her homemade letters! 

 

Dreams & Vision

 

Never EVER give up on your dreams!  I'm sure someone's put that on a bumper-sticker, haven't they?  But really, if there is something you want to create, be it a life style, a home, a job, or even that little thing of beauty you've been longing for.  Well, if you want it badly enough and you hold it close to your heart for long enough, and if each and every single day you do some small thing towards it, then one day you'll blink and look around yourself and realise, holy crap!  I've done it!!  And when you have that moment, let me tell you, it's really really cool! 

There are a few subtle changes happening in this space and maybe you've noticed them already?  Or maybe not?  It might be well over a month since I last managed to publish a blog post (eeep sorry about that!), but rest assured there has been much happening behind the scenes.  There's a whole lot of new things going on and I'm not really sure yet how it will all translate into this little space here, or where exactly it's leading me, but I do know that I've buckled in for a wild and crazy ride and it certainly feels exciting and fun, and very very purposeful!  So for now, the obvious changes are the new site banner up above - it's got wings!!!  It's a photo I took a while back and although I had no idea I would be using it in this way back then, it feels perfect to be doing so now.  Also, I'm using my name in the title to replace The Conscious Caterpillar, and my profile photo has had a long overdue update, which you would have heard about already if we are connected through Instagram.  All that, plus a few other little tweaks here and there, is part of this new thing, this new thing that doesn't yet have a name.  And it's all a part of me holding a vision and creating my dreams.

So let me share with you a story about some other visions and dreams of mine and the exploding joy I'm feeling right now over seeing them come to fruition.  Before I get to that though, and in relation to the Why Do We Run series, I've been slowly gathering some thoughts around shame and guilt and their connection to fear (and grief) but as you can imagine, it's not a post I can just throw together so bare with me while I gather my words.

This collection of photos stem from the beginning of the year!  That'd be around January - how is it that we are nearly half way through already?!!  That's just ridiculous!!!  So these photos each paint the picture with how, bit-by-bit, I'm seeing the fruition of some dreams, plus all the way at the bottom, is a really cool story about a sink!

Plum Picking
Basket
Full Basket

When we first viewed this house of ours, straight away we knew it was the home we had spent so long searching for.  Having a cellar was not on the prerequisite list but I secretly desired one all the same and when I trod those steps leading down from our hallway, down under the ground into a large, well built space lined on either side with handmade timber shelving from who knows how many years ago - no doubt 137 years ago when the house and cellar were first built! - I knew with all my heart I would work towards filling those shelves with jars of preserves.  Preferably made from my own homegrown produce.

It's been a little over four years since then and this Summer/Autumn is the first cycle of seasons where I can officially say I have harvested my own homegrown fruit (with help from the kids, of course) and turned it into a chutney.  What's more, there are jars of this spicy plum chutney filling a shelf in the cellar!  They were cling-stone plums, golden plums actually but with that incredibly unusual Spring we had leading into Summer, they became something else entirely.  SO much larger and deeper in their colour (and flavour) than I have ever seen them.  It was because of that, that I got busy with making something from them instead of leaving it all for the birds and possums.  To be honest, I don't think much of golden plums (the tree was here long before us) and so have never before made the effort but this season, well it really was something different.  And the tree was so heavy with fruit that there was still plenty for the native foragers.

As I mentioned, they are/were cling-stones, so I didn't bother to try and slice each in half to remove the stone (imagine what an annoying nightmare that would've been!).  Instead I roasted them up and smashed it all through a colander.  Then I used the mushy mix in a big pot with celery, sultanas, some onion and maybe a few other things that I've forgotten about but most definitely there was a spice bag filled with lots and lots of Indian flavours.  I used those books below as a bit of a guide, but mostly I just made things up as I went along.  Towards the end, I added some Pomona's Pectin as plum based products are notorious for not setting.  Then the whole lot got divvied out into the jars and put into a water-bath.  I've gifted a few away since then and we three are now onto our forth jar so I think we can declare it a success.

Books
Plum Chutney

Next came some tomatoes.  On Instagram, I've been talking about how my homegrown tommies were super slow to get going and now, I'm carefully watching the forecast, ready to take action in case we have our first frost before they fully ripen.  So far so good and each night I've been covering them over but most of the fruit looks like it could use another few weeks before harvest so I might even pull the whole plants up (roots 'n' all) and hang them in the shed.  This is the advice that has been shared with me over on Instagram and apparently it works very well!

Anyway, way back in January (or maybe it was February?) an opportunity came up for me to grab a couple of boxes of seconds organic tomatoes.  At the time, I was feeling a little doubtful that my homegrowns were even going to flower let alone have those flowers become fruit, so with those two boxes sitting in my kitchen I set forth with some passata making.  I followed Matt and Lentil's instructions in their book, Grown and Gathered as it's simple with no fuss.  Things need to be simple and no fuss for me... no peeling of the tomatoes, no de-pipping the plums... see the pattern?  If I over-complicate anything, well then it's just not going to happen at all, so I've learned to seek out options and alternatives that roll the same way I roll. 

Tomatoes
Passata

And now those jars are sitting on another shelf down in the cellar too, right alongside the chutney.  And maybe, just maybe, my very own homegrown tomatoes will join them next month too.

A few weeks ago I spent the day with my friend's Marieka and Ilona, both of whom are local to one of South Australia's wine regions, the Barossa Valley, about an hours drive north of Adelaide.

Together, they were teaching the first in a series of preserving workshops and I came home with a stash of pears and a couple of jars of the peeled fruit in a light sugar syrup (not to mention a very full heart because those two girls are such fun to hang out with).  But guess what, those two jars are now sitting down in the cellar on the next shelf along from the chutney and passata.  Happy days!

Pears
Pears

Now with all preserving aside, I'm moving on to visions and, although filling my cellar shelves with jars of preserves has been a dream richly connected to vision, this is more about the power of creating a Vision Board!  And this story is all about that sink I mentioned.  I never thought I'd blog about a sink, but this is not just any old sink.  And honestly, I took a frightening number of photographs to go with this story and I actually uploaded about four of them before realising I'd crossed the line, HA!!!  Just because I'm obsessed with this sink doesn't necessarily mean you are, or that you want to see multiple images of it - and seriously, none of those photos were very different from each other so I culled three and have left you with just one.  I styled it just for you too.  Um yeah ok, I styled it for me as well as you because playing around with such things is just too much fun.  Anyway, here is the story and you'll have to read allll the way to the bottom before you get to see the sink.

...Many moons ago I took a little snapshot of this sink as it sat unused upon Alia's floor at Poet's Ode.  I had never seen a more perfect sink and to say I was rather fond of it is clearly an outrageous understatement (...obesessed!).  I printed that little picture out when I got home and stuck it upon my vision board.  All this time since I have gazed at that picture and dreamed about my future kitchen. 

Maybe you know, maybe you don't know, but Alia is moving on to other adventures and sadly, she will no longer inhabit that beautiful space that was Poet's Ode.  I paid her and her shop a visit in the days before she closed her doors and as she was selling, reducing and giving away so much, I threw the question out there...

I don't suppose your sink is for sale?

And here came her answer...

Yes

I tingled all over in response, but resisted as I didn't want to be spending extra money at that point in time and so, I offered my good wishes and we hugged our farewell.  I hopped into my car and I drove away.  For ten or fifteen minutes I drove with that sink clearly in my thoughts and goosebumps all over my body. 

And then I pulled over, took a deep breath and I sent an SMS...

Dearest Alia, I'm still thinking about your sink and I've decided to buy it!  Will you hold it for me until Wednesday?

The thing is, I don't need this sink... YET, but I will when I renovate my kitchen and even though that is still a little ways off, I'm not silly.  I know that no matter how hard my future self searches, I would forever compare all sinks to this one and no other will ever be good enough.  However weird this makes me, I had actually fallen head-over-heels for this particular sink and I didn't realise how attached to it I had become until I was driving away that day.  I know, I know, it's just a sink!  I promise you that I really am quite a sane and stable person, I just have a thing about this sink.  And a thing about the fact that the power of my vision - seeing that photo every day, several times a day, upon my vision board - paved the way for me to manifest that sink into my life!

When the Universe grants you your wish and you have gone and created your vision, well... you had best sit up and take notice!  Opportunities such as this are not an everyday day occurrence and nor was the ridiculously overwhelming sense I was getting that I was meant to bring that sink home. 

I fully plan to base my entire kitchen design around that sink.  It is antique, French Provincial from the 1700's.  That piece of worn timber at the front holds the history and the stories of a time and life I'll wonder about over all the years to come.  And what will I do with it until it's kitchen duty resumes?  Well I am thinking I might just use it as a planter in my studio because keeping it covered in the shed kinda makes me feel sad - what do you think?

So that is the story of my sink.  And that story will be added to the collection of individual stories that go with every piece of furniture within our home.

Never EVER give up on your dreams friends, and trust the power of your vision!

Lots of love xo

 

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.

IMG_0514.jpg

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