Thursday, 24 June 2010

Thursday thoughts

One can find all sorts of interesting types in Brighton. Today, for instance, I saw 
  • a) a man unicycling down the main road (yes, really)
  • b) a man with dreadlocks the reached below his knees (yes, really. Interestingly, his calf muscles were really well developed. Was this from carting around such a cumbersome load, I wonder?)
  • c) a man walking - no, walking is too tame a term - marching down the road, cursing and f-ing and blinding loudly enough to be heard a good 25 metres away.
It's man c) that particularly interests me this evening, although I'm sure that in Brighton it's also possible to see a man with hugely long and fat dreadlocks cycling dangerously along on a unicycle whilst screaming about the North Americans.

The man was shouting and cursing, in a filthy rage, not at anyone in particular, but at some unseen enemy who was perhaps arguing back. He struck me immediately as one of Brighton's mentally unwell inhabitants. As I walked past the man, I saw a group of four or five young lads who had stopped and were all staring after him, confirming that I wasn't alone in this judgement. The whole human swarm that populated the pavement parted like the Red Sea as he approached. I stayed glued to my pathway, reminding myself that I was safe, and indeed I was.

As I walked past the group of young guys staring after this poor bloke, I realized that the only difference between the 'crazy' man and all the rest of us was that the crazy guy was saying all his attack thoughts out loud.

Stop and think about it for a moment. How many thoughts of judgement do I have every single day? Thousands and thousands. Sometimes they're fleeting, like seeing a girl in the street with big boobs or long legs and wishing, just for a second, that I could look like her, that it's not fair. If that's not an attack on myself and my sister, I don't know what is.

And then there are the more prolonged, more pervasive thoughts, the ones that really get into the cracks and under my skin. The ongoing judgements of my mum. Jealousy in the relationship I'm in with Nige. Years of comparison with my sisters.

What sets me apart from the man on the street in Brighton was that I don't stomp down the street giving 100% of my energy to articulating these thoughts. In a way, I think that what the vast majority of us humans do - stifle it, squash it, try to hide it from everyone else so that they don't think we're crazy, so that they don't judge us - is crazier than the crazy man! 

I think it was the Dalai Lama who said that if you took all of the thoughts of a group of people, put them on little scraps of paper and piled them one on top of the other, you'd end up with a mountain of attack thoughts that equalled Adolf Hitler in venom and hate.

There's no point in me pretending that I'm different to the man on the street. He, like everyone I meet, is simply a reflection of myself. And his anger, like mine, simply masks the undying, undeniable call for Love that lies beneath it.

Which voice do I choose to listen to today? The voice screaming about the Americans, or the little boy (or girl) who just wants to know that they're enough, loveable and safe?

I'll take the second voice please. I might not be able to help the man in a visible way, but as soon as I see his innocence, I have remembered the truth.

And the truth is that, "I am as God created me", and always, always will be.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Power of a Vision Board

The strangest thing just happened to me. My dad called, and we chatted, and towards the end of the conversation, he mentioned that he'd been for a drink with two guys he'd worked with years ago at the recording studios at the end of the road I grew up on (still with me?!)

Anyway, he said, "Oh, by the way, Take That are recording there later in the year". I nearly fell off my bed. "Oh my god you have to let me go and meet them I'll do anything I'll tape things down I'll do sound checks I'll make tea I'll open doors I'll do anything!" Terror and delight filled me in equal measures.

Dad reassured me that of course he'd get me in there to meet them/watch them record, and we said our goodnights.

 If you don't know who Take That are, I wrote an impassioned and heartfelt blog post about them a while ago. In short, they are a boy band cum man band and I love them! I've seen them three times in concert, twice in the last couple of years, and I've just finished reading Gary Barlow's autobiography, which I devoured in about three days.

It's gotten me thinking.

I have a vision board (also known as a dream board). It's not so much a board really as it is a cupboard door, but plain white space in my room works just fine for me! On my vision board, I have stuck pictures and words of things I hold sacred, dear to my heart and which really mean something to me. I was thinking just this morning about how I'd like to do some work on refreshing the board, because I'm beginning to get just a tad, well, bored with it. Not so much with the essence of the images, but I think I need some fresh ideas on there.

The idea behind a vision board is that it provides you with a daily, uplifting reminder of your true hopes and dreams. The other thing that seems to mysteriously happen is that things start to manifest. Now, let me explicitly state that I am not a fan of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which talks about manifesting things (although I think they call it a posh name like 'The Law of Attraction'). Nor am I a cosmic shopper (cosmic ordering is the official term, I think). Yes, I admit, I am a consumer through and through, although I'm at least aware that consumption isn't the answer to my inner-unrest. Only meditation and creative action seems to quell that thirst.

The principle of the law of attraction - that you attract what you focus on - does seem to bear results, but I think it's problematic to just stick pictures of the perfect house, the perfect car and the perfect man (or woman - or perhaps both) on your wall, hoping that when these things turn up in my life, then I'll be happy. First and foremost, I need to take responsibility for my thinking. In NA they talk about 'stinking thinking', and I've lived to say unequivocally that it can be paradise on the outside but hell on the inside. It doesn't mean that nice cars, nice looking people and nice possessions are wrong, but they are not the bringers of happiness.

Sadly, this even applies to Take That. If I did ever get to meet them, I could either have an amazing experience, or it could be disappointing, embarrassing, awkward, scary. It all depends on my perspective, and with whom I'm choosing to think in that moment - the Holy Spirit or the ego. I'm practising thinking loving thoughts but there's still plenty of unloving ones knocking around.

Having said that, when I've got my thinking straight, I still come back to this: there is definitely something in this dream board thing.

A few years ago, I was in a 12 step programme and had a wonderful sponsor. She really did love me until I could love myself, which is what I'd been told would happen when I came into the fellowship. On her kitchen wall was a pencilled drawing of her dream garden. It was a bit tatty at the edges, with some minor rips and tears in the paper, but there it was on her wall nonetheless.

Days turned into weeks, and they somehow stretched out into months, and one day, many moons later, I returned to her house only to find, to my utter astonishment, that she had her garden! It was quite a sight to behold; long, and winding, and full of details and care and love. Had it come into being partly through being on her kitchen wall each day? I'm inclined to think that it did.

Take my Esalen photo as another instance. I have a photo of a group of wonderful people that I spent a month in California dancing the 5rhythms with, on my vision board. These people are now scattered all over the globe. But just a few weeks ago, one of the girls with whom I connected came over to England, and Kristen and I got to spend a lovely few hours together. I'd put the photo up just a few weeks previously, without any real intention other than a desire to have the essence of that group be in my life again, and suddenly there she was, messaging me to say that she was coming over.

Then, I put a picture of my sister Daisy, aged 5 or 6 at the time and on the beach, up on the board. The next day I found out she was off to Ireland for a free holiday. Bizarre, small coincidences. My Take That ticket has been on there since I saw them last July, and before that I had my previous ticket on there... and my lovely friend Jema - who is really genuinely lovely except for when she's driving - stumbled upon Gary Barlow's autobiography in a second hand bookshop... and my boyfriend actually likes Take That music (sorry Nige, there goes your reputation)... and I get two copies of their two new books at Christmas... and my dad calls and tells me they're recording in the studio later this year and of course I'll be able to go along.

Nige's business card for KABOOM, his DJ business, is up there too, and lo and behold, I'm more involved than ever before.

Strange, seemingly unrelated coincidences. All I can say is that I'm not complaining!

Simple one liners, cut out from ruthless advertising campaigns, now remind me to "take a deep breath" or simply to have "confidence" or to drink my "tea with empathy"

And it keeps happening. Every word or image I have on my vision board, I've seen come to life right before my eyes in some way. It's a good bloody thing then that I've stuck a cheque on there for £50,000 payable to my good self!

Things I do not have on my vision board include:
- spiders. Despite lots of psychological work, I am still afraid of them
- babies. Or even baby. Not right now, thank you very much.
- swanky nightclubs. I'm just much happier in my pink fluffy dressing gown writing my journal in the garden. That to me is a good night out (well, I'm outside the house, aren't I?!)

 Things I have on my vision board include:
- two Condor Fratello bikes. One for me and one for Nige. Mmmmm. I've become a bit of a road bike pornographer.
- a card from Nige that reads, "Now we are music together, sharing one cup", by Rumi. I love that quote and I love the man the card came from.
- a school picture of sister Rosie and I. Again, interestingly, it was just after I'd put this up that I learned about the In My Daughter's Eyes Project, and it was that same picture that I used.
- a flyer for Nige's and my 70s and 80s night, "And the Beat Goes On". It's a wicked night out - much better than sitting in the garden. I'm not at all biased either.

I wonder what will happen - in general and in relation to Take That. I honestly don't know what I'd do if I met them. It was overwhelming enough to see them at the O2 arena (huge) and to think that I was in the same room as them. But this would be on a whole different level altogether.

One thing I'm fairly sure about though: I started my vision board a couple of years ago whilst doing Julia Cameron's 'The Artist's Way', and it's brought such clarity, focus and upliftment to my days that I shall keep it for a long time to come.

One final thing: I'm a person who doesn't know what I want to do in terms of a career, and the process of singling out words and images that appeal to me is very helpful in helping me identify what it is that I like, care about and want to contribute to the world.

Do you have a vision board, or are you tempted to create one? I'd love to hear about your experiences - whether things have come to pass, have not come to pass, or have somehow miraculously occurred.

It's all part of life's rich tapestry, and I'm really grateful for my life today.

Elloa xx

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

ode to my pen

words words words
words for this and words for that
when i find the words i want
release, and peace,
a sense of me
simply from phonemes
consonants and vowels
gathered together
delicious sounds
tantalize my tastebuds
more than chocolate
i savour each note
the curve of my pen
and as i write
i remember
that i am whole

Monday, 7 June 2010

The J word

Jealously I guard you,
Mine, mine, MINE
Angrily I starve you
Of all that is divine,
Stomach churns as I read words
From you to her to you,
A tiny voice proclaims the truth
But it can't quite get through.
So what do I do?

I act, I react, plot and plan
All the while I know it's mad
Worry, how I worry!

I am so wrong
And you'll be gone before 
too long if I continue 
in this way
I know I'm toxic - you'll not stay
You'll go away and find a home
While I'm left here 

A simple rhyme, a heartfelt cry
A yearn for peace, my ego feasts
I breathe in deep,
I write these words,
feel stiff with hurt
I cuss and curse
The hurt gets worse.

what is this for?
God where's the door
out of
this place?
It's here.

In your tears.
Amidst your fears.
Sweet, sweet Elloa, I promise I hear.
I promise I'm here.
There's no truth in fear.

So breathe it all in.
And let it all out.
You have to let go, El.
You have to allow
This man to live free,
Or you'll never be
You think that it's hard
Impossible even
You're sure that you'll start
To drown in your feelings
But in you is peace
Forgiveness and truth
So breathe El, relax,
And let it come through.
I love you.

Yes, even now, I love you.

This is as close as I get today to returning to a state of love and peace. I hear the faintest whisper of home, beckoning me in each bird's song, in the glittering sunlight, in miniscule moments of sanity.

I am 'in the middle of something' right now and it's the yuckiest, muckiest, worst part of me. I am terrified. I feel alone. I am churned up. I am angry. I hate. I shake. I want to lash out, to hurt. I am reminded of so much, of so many things. I feel abandoned.

And yet, I know there is a gift in this for me. I have faith in that. I am seeing how much my peace of mind depends on this particular relationship, and that unsettles me. I feel a bit lost in myself, like I don't quite know who I am without him. Except that I do know. I know that I am a bright, life infested being who adores moments of beauty and takes joy in simplicity. And that right now, I feel physically sick. Aeons of betrayal course through my veins. I can't quite get to the other side. And my companion, the one I usually walk through stuff with, is miles away from this place. So I take baby steps, a word here, a breath there, an inching out into the world today, and I find that it hasn't fallen apart because I have not forgiven. My friends - thank God for friends! - reassure me that I am not insane.

And I wake, and hear these words in my mind, "Attack is never justified" (acim), and I know that at some point, I have to surrender being right in order to be happy. But right now, I'm pissed that they get to get away with whatever they want while I am the one who has to change.

Meanwhile, silence, no response. Conflict, a phantom enemy that I try to avoid at all costs, shows up with rigidity-inducing prescience. A tight chest. Nausea. Evidence all around me.

I lay my soul bare here, guessing this won't be read anyway. I have been pootling along, imagining that I have somehow escaped the fate of so many recovering addicts - a legacy of failed relationships. Today, a reality check.

I am a human being, and this is my dark side, the side I hide, the side I don't want you to know, the side that will make you go away.

Isn't it?

Eventually, I will have to answer questions.
Do I want to be a grown up or a groan up?
My sole responsibility is my soul responsibility.
My soul responsibility is my sole responsibility.
Somehow, in the middle of this dark forest, I gotta find a way out. Follow the flickers of light until they lead me to a clearing.

I'll let you all know how it goes.