Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Reverb 10 catch up!

Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it?

In 2011, I would like to try....
Singing - take some lessons
Dip my toe into the water of method acting (I can't believe I've just written that!)
Drawing and making my own cards for people (watch this space)
What I know is true is: going for it always yields amazing results.

Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I'm not focusing so much on the word should as on the sense of whether there were any missed opportunities this year. Instead of 'should' : 'could'
I could have seen more of my mum this year. I could have introduced Nige to my gran, Julie. I could have spent more time with my sisters. 
Family is such a core part of who I am and such a major trigger of all the old insecurities that I avoid them to avoid having to deal with what gets brought up by being around them. Perhaps it's really much simpler than it sounds, and perhaps only the Love is real. I get the feeling that my family are more important to me than I let on even to myself.

Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Elloa.... in 2011, just follow your heart. You'll always know what to do and where to go. 
If you want a few tips, though, how about these?
Write, sing, dance, go to the beach, ride your bike, be with your tribe, love people, let yourself be loved, make love, meditate, listen out for Spirit, connect, surrender, have faith, let go, laugh that dirty laugh of yours, look deep into his eyes, listen, pay attention, appreciate the small things, see, allow yourself to be seen, travel, rest, and sometimes just do nothing at all. 
Breathe deep, beautiful woman. You are safe and loved.

To my little girl, I would say this.

To my 17 year old self, I would say: I've got you girl. Your path is set and you are heading heavenwards with every step you take. Loved, worthy and enough... just wait and see.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

#Reverb10 - 5 minutes

Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Okay... here goes (ready, set, GO!)

What a beautiful prompt! It sifts stuff to the surface... go on, your turn!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Dear Jim...

Dear Jim,

It has been a year since you passed.

He misses you.

You have been with him this year, though not in your body. You've been a central part of his healing this year (with a little help from your jumper!). I wanted to write to you Jim, to say that it's nearly Christmas time again, and in the quiet of the long, dark nights of December, your presence and your life are as important as when your body breathed.

I want to thank you, and to tell you about this year.

We said goodbye to Jenny at the end of December last year, driving carefully down your ice-laden road, her small figure receding in size, becoming even smaller in the rearview mirror. We turned the corner, and then she was gone. She was vulnerable - she'd just lost her husband - but while I was concerned for her, sure she needed comfort and support, I also had a quiet certainty inside me that she would honour you in everything that she did, and that in many ways she might continue to grow as a woman, a wife and a mother.

One year on, and I'm sure Jenny is feeling your loss as potently as your son and daughter. There's something really innocent about her, Jim, which makes it effortless to fall in love with her. I know you know what I'm talking about! Your love for Jenny was palpable, even to me who didn't know you that well. And yet, there is more. Since you passed, Jenny has taken leaps of faith that I know in my heart you are so proud of. She's tended to the garden, on her knees for hours on end, looking up in surprise to find that the sky has grown dark and the evening has drawn in. She's sold the car, but not after taking a huge risk and having the courage to consider driving again. What is perhaps more courageous is that she decided, for herself, that she didn't want to get back on the roads, despite what anybody might have said.

She went on holiday. She continued to be a central part of her church's community, and of the Age Concern shop. She put her foot down about storing other people's stuff in the loft. She let go of your clothes. She spoke on 'that Skype' with Ivy and Bob. And, one of my favourite memories of the year: she spent 8 hours on a coach from Darwen to Brighton, where I picked her up, and together we went to see your son play 'The Bedlam' in Henfield's summer production, "The Roses of Eyam". As I sat next to her, both of us moved to tears (and Nige too!), I once again felt your presence with us.

And, of course, she went to Arran. She carried you on her back, and 'oo 'eck, were you heavy! There, on land you and she were so in love with, she scattered your ashes, letting you go in body that you might be free in spirit.

No doubt about it Jim - your wife is one heck of a lady.

I haven't lived the past year in the ongoing presence of Jenny, and yet the moments that I have spent with her have been beautiful, tender, heartfelt, open moments. As Christmas approaches, I promise you this - that I will watch out for her, that I will see her innocence, that I will love her while she grieves and misses you and honours the birth of Christ.

Now, about your son.

Jim, can words begin to describe the depth of love, appreciation and intimacy I feel towards this man, your son? Sometimes when I'm with him, I just look, I just stop and look and take in the miracle that is this beautiful, strong, creative, soft, vulnerable, gentle, worthy man. As I look, I feel such gratitude that I am the one invited to walk alongside him, just as you walked alongside Jenny. He is amazing.

Let me tell you about your son, and a little bit about his year. Right now, as I write, he is playing Christmas music to an audience of Christmas trees. I am not kidding! 52 weeks ago to this day, I received a call from him at about 11.00am to tell me that you'd gone. In that moment, the world changed. It was time to ride our bikes. We rode for you, we stopped and prayed and spoke up to the sky, both crying, both pushing pedals knowing inside our beings that but for you, neither of us would have been there. Nige tells me that one day, he wants to build his own bike - just like his dad used to do - and that he will call it Spirit of Jim. I know that he will do it.

Like your wife, your son has taken thousands of risks this year, each decision bringing him a step closer, a layer closer, to remembering the Truth about himself. One of the areas that I am most proud of him - and one that I'm sure you are too - is that he's stepped right into the fire of believing that he'll never measure up to you or be as handy as you, and in spite of seemingly solid evidence, he has begun to embody the bike mechanic within him.

Yes, it took bloody hours (and there was quite literally blood at some points!) but he got those bastard Schwalb Marathon tyres on. He's fixed punctures, changed tyres, fiddled around with rear mechs, and tweaked gears. He's been on the verge of tears in his room - just him, some tools, and his bike - and he's called out to you for some help. And you were there.

I suspect that underneath the old, worn out belief that he hasn't done as good a job as you would have done, there is a little boy who wants more than anything to run up to his dad, greasy long-nosed pliers in hand, and say, "Dad! Dad! Look! I did it!" It's no substitute, but I give what I can, which is to cheer him on and remind him what an incredible person he is, reflecting back to him how strong the Spirit of Jim is that lives and shines inside of him. And somewhere inside of him is your voice, and your hand is on his shoulder, and he knows that you are proud.

I can't talk about this year without mentioning The Parts. Now, I know you weren't much of a theatre-going man, but believe me when I say that these two plays were worth watching. Nige spent six months preparing to play The Bedlam, and that journey was an intricate, intimate part of his grieving process. His performance was the culmination of every minute and every hour that he spent in preparation. That people were astonished, that people didn't recognize him, that an old man in the graveyard sped away in fright, are all testament to the integrity of his preparation. People are still talking about The Bedlam, even though he is long gone. I know you know this already, Jim, but The Bedlam was a tribute from Nige to you. It was a very personal journey that he went on, which I had an unusually intimate window into, but a window nonetheless.

Guardsman Bowe was another kettle of fish altogether, although in his own way, he too was vulnerable and alone. Playing Bowe opened Nige - and myself, interestingly - to an expanded awareness of the horrors of war. He learned much about World War I, about the men who had to leave their families, their homes and their lives, who died in battle or who returned broken men. Nige's depiction of the shellshocked guard in the second act of 'My Boy Jack' was unnerving, heart-wrenching and even a bit frightening. Moved to tears during both of the performances I watched, I was aware of the sound of other people crying, and especially of one sound that tells you the audience are raptly engaged and present - complete and absolute silence. You honestly could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium.

I was so moved by Nige's performance not only because of his life-filled characterization, but also because I knew once again just how much of himself he'd put into it, how much it meant to him to be alive on the stage. I cannot articulate it but somehow, I know that you were as intricately involved in the part of Bowe as you were Bedlam.

What's marvellously exciting is that in 2011, Nige and I will be acting alongside each other for the first time ever, playing Rooster and Lily in 'Annie!' Nige has already said that he'll be doing this for Jenny, and she's already said she'll come to see it! As I'm writing this, the Great Britain comes to mind. Nige has, of course, told me about this many times - what happened, what you said afterwards, how he felt. I just wonder whether there is more for him to hear from you about what it meant to you to see your son on stage? I wonder how it is for you to witness him shining so brightly in the theatre company, and whether he can accept the truth, for back then, for now, for what's to come?

There's not much more for me to say, Jim, other than to point out a couple of other highlights of the year. Our holiday in Somerset was beautiful; the day that Jenny was carrying your ashes to be scattered in Arran, we were in the woods, honouring your memory; Nige's experiment, "104 Days Between the Bed and the Door" is still in progress, and has touched me deeply, has taken root in his life in an extremely tangible, deep way, and has been the foundation out of which the most beautiful blog has arisen. The pieces of work he has done over the course of the year have been staggering - from changing his mind about what it would mean to 'lose' your sweater, to gently reintegrating Frank Sinatra music back into his life, to doing clearing after clearing.

Witnessing him, I have fallen ever deeper in love with this beautiful man who lives his life committed to remembering the Truth and taking responsibility for his thoughts. I've never met anyone quite like Nigel Atkinson, and I know I never will again. He is a constant inspiration, a source of pure joy in my life, a beautiful friend and absolutely Beloved to me.

And Jim, he is who he is because he came from you. I'll always be grateful to you for that. The love you showed him as a boy and as a man helped pave the way for the leader that Nige has become. At Christmas time, we are going to ride Salter Fell in honour of you. We'll eat sandwiches and holler into the wind and end the day exhausted but exhilarated, proud and hungry and content. All I ask is that you have a word with the weather and give us a nice day to ride on!

Love you always,
Elloa xxx

Sunday, 12 December 2010

This says it all...

"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn't sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it's all you've got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life."

from Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

Saturday, 11 December 2010

#Reverb10 - Things

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? 

In his book, 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need, some of the 'things' Sam Davidson writes about aren't 'things' at all, but dynamics, burdens or expectations. Included on the list are:
* Drama - most crises are needless
* Five thousand Facebook friends
* A long commute - Distance makes your heart grow angrier

Thought provoking stuff. Here is my list of 11 things my life doesn't need in 2011, and my plan for eradicating them. 

1. The Camper Van Money Box from Mum
Oh, there's guilt attached to this one. The thing is, I use it, but I don't love it. It's got to go. Anybody want a money box? 

2. Coffee
Ah, the aroma of that first morning cup. It smells pretty enticing, doesn't it? What's not so enticing is the jittery, jagged, jumpy feeling that comes with it. A cup of tea is a ritual, but a cup of coffee is a drug. I've already said goodbye to coffee, after an on-off, will-she/won't-she relationship with it spanning many years. Sure, I'll miss the multitude of options available to me when I visit a coffee shop, the glamour and seduction of a skinny wet one (oo-er), but perhaps this simplification of what I'm willing to put into my body is a reflection of what I'm intending to invite into my life. My intent for 2011 is to keep the door firmly closed to those pesky little brown beans.

3. Unforgiveness (also known as resentment, fear, boredom, gossip, judgement, loathing, jealousy, withholding, self-hatred, criticism, self-centredness, the shitty committee)
"'Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly.' - ACIM"
Love... I want you! I have had a glimpse, probably just a tiny glimpse, of how possible it can be to live from a place of extending Love, rather than running on fear. I have been shown the way out of hell, and the more I practice saving myself when I'm in a place of fear and pain, the more I come to realize that freedom and peace are within my grasp - every single moment
How could I want for the ego's shabby offerings when love is available to me in every moment? And so, I declare once again that I stand for the Truth of Innocence and I invite Spirit in to help me let go of unforgiveness in all its guises: resentment, fear, boredom, gossip, judgement, jealousy, withholding, self-hatred, criticism, self-centredness and the shitty committee that seems to think it has a right to live in my head. You lot are so out of date.

4. Dirt
Note to self - must clean more often. 
Note to reader - this is mostly make up. 
Note to ego - it doesn't bloody matter!

5. Spare Set of Sheets that are living under my bed
Why are they there? Where did they come from? And what colour are they exactly? Sorry sheets - time to go.
* Turns out I already got rid of them! Victory! * What shall I get rid of instead? Oh! My ipod totally broke this morning on my run. It's four years old, been on the brink of a breakdown for a while. It's Auf Wiedersehn methinks. (It got stuck in the middle of 'Mary Jane' by Alanis Morrisette, in case you were wondering)

6. The 'Sweet Dreams' Eye Mask from Helen
Another gift, and sadly, another 'thing' that just takes up space in my life. Sorry, eye mask - it's time for us to say goodnight

7. Red Makeup Bag
Another gift from Mum. To be fair, this one's lasted a couple of years, but I do not like it, so why do I keep it in my life?!

8. Blue 'Gap' Scarf
Another gift - ouch! I really like this one, but don't ever, ever wear it. It's always there when I open my cupboard. I think I know someone who'll appreciate this though... 

9. Too many passions
Reading a few pages from Sam Davidson's book, he says some interesting stuff about having too much in your life. Every single human on the planet is equal in terms of how many hours a day we're given. The number is 24. We are recommended to sleep for 8 of them. That leaves 16 hours for work, family, friends, food, bathing, commuting, meditating, relaxing, rehearsing, writing, reading, connecting, driving, eating, having sex, bike riding, running, dreaming, crying, laughing, praying, sweating, and of course, clearing. 
Having too many passions always leaves me feeling spread very thin on the ground. In 2011, I'm going to be playing the part of Lily in Annie opposite Nige's Rooster. I'm going to be blogging. I'm going to be dancing, riding my bike, and being in Love. I'm going to be doing the work on myself. I don't think I need to learn how to play the piano just yet, or the guitar, or how to speak French. If new things come my way, that'll be marvellous, but I'm committed to not over-committing.

10. Taking myself too seriously
I commit to seeing things differently until all I see is the Love in any situation. Including myself. As a child, I was branded a drama queen, someone who thought the world revolved around her, someone who should 'get on your bike' (i.e. a bullshitter), and a cry baby. Learning to laugh at myself and just do as Frankie says has been tough, and I'm not quite there yet. (Frankie says 'RELAX', by the way.)
I will clear over and over and over again. I will spend time in meditation. I will pray. I will spend time watching the birds fly and swoop. I will look into his eyes and allow myself to be seen. I will sing like nobody's listening, even when they are. And I will forgive, laugh and let it all bloody go!

11. Needing to prove that I have done all of these things
The solid, tangible items are easily let go of. The other things are deeply rooted patterns that take time, dedication and miracles to truly transform. Like I said in my last post - what if there was nothing to prove? 
I don't want to live my life believing that I have to prove my worth. It's something I seem to 'just do', at work, in my relationship with Nige, and especially in my family. Maybe 2011 could be the year of 'Nothing to prove. If I run the half marathon, it'll be because I want to. If I do well at work, it'll be because I allowed myself to blossom rather than forced myself to perform. If my living circumstances change, it'll be because the time was right, rather than because I 'made' it happen. And if nothing changes at all... I'll take responsibility for the thoughts I think until I return to a state of love and peace.

Doing this piece of work this evening has been awesome. It was harder than I thought it'd be. What thing(s) do you NOT need in your life in 2011? How will your life change without them?

Thank you, #Reverb10!

Friday, 10 December 2010

#Reverb10 - Wisdom

Just before the beginning of this final, closing month of 2010, I stumbled upon #Reverb10, a month long deep dive into reflecting on this year and manfiesting what's next.

Reverb10 sends out a 'prompt' each day, written by a different author/creative type. So far, I've read but haven't written about any of these, and I already regret that, so I'm choosing differently this evening.

December 10 Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

Surprisingly, what comes to mind is a decision that I made very early on in the year (I am already loving this project because it's given me an opportunity to zoom out of my life and look at just what an incredible year it's been). 

The wisest decision that comes to mind was the one I made to leave my job as a Support Worker for adults with Aspergers Syndrome. From that decision came so many incredible things:

* I chose to work a night shift because I knew I was leaving soon, and stumbled upon a beautiful blog called Love Imagine Create. I began to blog again, and encouraged Nige to do the same. Through blogging, we met Brooke and Julia, whose presences have utterly enhanced my life (and Nige's too, of that I'm sure!), bringing so much beauty and connection. What gifts these women are.

* I got to spend a few months working on a great project which was supposed to get thousands upon thousands of young people volunteering. It was scary, creative, challenging, and I met some awesome people and drove a lot all over East Sussex. I also got lots of chances to practice remembering that I am enough. Some were more successful than others.

* I got made redundant, which was a brilliant lesson in trust, and it gave me three months work-free in which I still got paid. I spent that time studying, resting, and entered into Life Coaching with the exquisite Anne-Marie. I also found out about the redundancy on holiday, which provided an extra sense of terror/liberation as Nige and I cycled through Cheddar Gorge.

* Through the new job this year that I then got made redundant from, I met Anna, who, in a flash of synchronicity, suggested I go for a cup of tea with Graham Allcott because I was beginning to study coaching. Today, I work for him! 
Graham is a productivity ninja and all-round top bloke. He gets things done very productively which gives me a perfect opportunity to face my belief that I must be perfect and a performing monkey in order to be accepted. My new job title is very grown up sounding and completely opposite to the dancing lunatic that I was last year. Today, people, I am Think Productive's Public Workshops, Finance and Back Office Manager. (Is it just me or does the 'Back Office' bit make you want to giggle like a naughty schoolchild?)

Following that gut feeling to leave that job has opened so, so many doors for me. I don't mean outward doors, although some of them were...
* Meeting Julia and Brooke, for example, has provided me with heart connection but has challenged my thinking and my beliefs too, particularly around what it means for a man I love to be close to another woman;
* Losing my job brought up lots of old beliefs that I am somehow a failure because I never stick at anything, even though everything in my life says that I am lovely and innocent, just the way I am.

Perhaps the lesson, and the point, is that there are no small decisions. Every decision I make does affect the rest of my life. Ultimately, the most important decision I will ever make is to remember the Truth, to change my mind, to return to Love (I know I say it a lot, but as my character in Annie says, "It's true"!). When I make that decision internally, how I live my life will automatically arise out of it.

And today, I am bloody bowled over with gratitude for my life. 

Thank you for being a part of it.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What if....

What if
... there was nothing to prove? And I mean nothing.

What if
... I could feel God's presence as potently when I sped around the city as I do in the Quiet Times?

What if
... I loved each person in my life - friends, landlord, enemies, colleagues, boyfriend, commuters, strangers, - as if they were a precious child of God sent especially to me that I might simply adore them?

What if
... I chose to dedicate my life to waking up? If every morning, I sat in silence, and every evening too - what then?

Would I need to quit my job, to find one that 'suited me more'?
Would I feel the same sense of urgency about wanting to live with my boyfriend?
Would I invest so much energy in how my body looks and feels?

Or would I just be free to Love?
How different would my life look, I wonder?
I wonder... What if... ?

Friday, 3 December 2010


I have been given the honour of guest blogging for beautiful Julia at Painted Path. Head on over to her stunning, soft blog and immerse yourself in fearlessness!

Or, just do some yoga with your teddy...