Friday, 30 September 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it

September 30th 2011: Day 30 of The Forgiveness Project.

What an amazing month it has been. I know I haven't posted as much as I'd have liked to, but believe me, in the last couple of weeks there has been some hardcore healing going on! (Check out my makeover in the picture just below!)

First, there was the baby issue. I got broody, and it was a big deal to begin to discuss that issue with Nige, for lots of reasons, which I wrote about here.

Then there was the jealousy stuff, which arose more than once over the last couple of weeks, including today. When I get jealous, I truly believe that I am being left out, forgotten about, loved less than I was a moment before. It's as if love is a finite substance to be dished out in measured portions, and if I think or perceive that I'm getting any less in this moment than I like or want, out comes the second head, and within a split second I have an uncanny ability to remake myself in the image of Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist'. *shudders*

My new Facebook profile picture
I decided to forgive myself yesterday for not calling one of my elderly gardening clients for weeks on end, and I bit the bullet and called her. Apologising was hard; the guilt I was feeling rose briskly to the surface, glaring at me and telling me I ought to be ashamed of myself. I'd been avoiding that one moment of discomfort for ages, sitting instead with the ongoing sense of disquiet because I had let her down and really, had acted out of integrity. That just didn't sit comfortably with me. So I faced it, and called, and said my sorry, and it wasn't just waved away by her, which told me that perhaps I really had let her down. That was uncomfortable, too. But I am making my amends by taking her out in early November. And I can forgive myself for being imperfect.

What I keep discovering is this: through forgiveness, I have been given the ability to have the world as I know it end, and a new one begin, right in the moment of forgiving. This choice, which often is a shift so infinitesimal that it's barely noticeable, starts with simply being willing to see the situation that I am in differently. When I get stuck, that's all I need to ask myself: am I at least willing to see something different here? My answer is almost always "yes", which paves the way for a different, more empowering, freer and happier choice even before my ego has had a chance to object with "but...". When my answer isn't "yes, I'm willing to see this differently", I can clearly see that what I am saying is, "no, I don't want to see this differently. I am so convinced that I'm right, and I so want to be right that I'm willing to sacrifice my happiness just to prove a point". By which point I'm usually unable to uphold the insanity for a moment longer, and concede that yes, I am in fact willing to see this differently.
Then I remember that this is who I really am... xx

You see, the thing that I've re-learned this month is this: all power is of the mind. I can make or break my happiness with a thought. And it's all internal! There's nothing outside me that can make me truly happy if I am not willing to choose happiness for myself. Contrarily, nobody and nothing can make me unhappy if my heartfelt intention is to be at peace. Sooner or later, Love always wins. And that, in my life, is a fact.

As these 30 days draw to a close, I am about to embark on another 30 day adventure, this time of a very different kind. I'm doing the Screw Work Let's Play 30 day challenge, in which 200 groovy people, myself included, are bringing an idea of theirs to life. Wow! More on this over the next 30 days, but suffice to say that this is a huge leap into my magnificence, the bringing to life of one of my dreams and a far out soul project all rolled into one. More very shortly on that.

But for now, how was September for you? What is the one main lesson you're taking from it? I'd love to hear.

Au revoir, September. You've been a corker.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The 'B' word

*This is a rather long post. I needed to write it that way. It might take a few minutes longer than normal to read. Just letting you know.*

Some days, life seems to want to dish up a seemingly bigger or more potent lesson than other days. It's day 25 of The Forgiveness Project, and with the end of the project, and the month, in clear sight, I'm hardly surprised to have found myself, and my beautiful beloved, in need of a good ol' clearing.

The subject? The 'B' word, that most terrifying of areas for me to broach with Nige -- babies. Or rather, baby, and the fact that since I became a Godmother three months ago (already?! How does time do that?), I have begun to question my firmly held, thirteen year old notion that 'I don't want children.'

It's not that I suddenly do want kids; it's more that I'm starting to question it, and to find that I don't know the answer as solidly as I have since I was 15 years old, when I realized that my blossoming breasts and widening hips were developing for a biological purpose, and that I couldn't ever imagine myself having children of my own (despite really, really adoring children), and that in fact I didn't think I actually wanted them at all.

In thirteen years, that opinion has barely changed. But recently... recently, I've begun to wonder. And the doubt that has crept silently, and I must say uninvitedly, into my heart, has threatened so much in my world, rocking the mobile of our expectations, understanding and perhaps even the external foundations that we seem to have agreed upon for our life together.

Nige has given his consent for me to write about this: we decided a while ago that we don't want to have children.

People around me, usually older than me, have told me that I am bound to change my mind (and the full extent of their opinions as well, in some cases), and one by one they tried to plant a seed of doubt in my mind.

But it was really only when I was on the maternity ward with my beautiful friend who has blossomed into a beautiful mother, that I really grasped the magnificence, the miraculous nature and the sheer enormity and wonder of motherhood - of birth, of the responsibility and divinity of being a parent, of the incomparable nature of this role. And I cried, as a whole new part of myself began to be revealed to me, like a land that you'd only read about in newspapers or seen on tv with a really bad reception - distant, crackly, left to your imagination to fill in the blanks. Of course, I have known mothers. I have witnessed mothers. I've been friends with them, and I've been around them. But I have never been around babies much, apart from when I worked in cafes, and the first time I held my friend's baby, my heart burst open and I felt something akin to unconditional love for this child -- this child that wasn't even my child.

So here I am on day 25 of a month long commitment to dive deep into whatever forgiveness opportunities presented themselves, and last night I was called to share my doubt with Nige, having tentatively mentioned things since my Goddaughter was born, testing the water, putting the feelers out there to see how he responded.

Let's just say that we both had to do a clearing around it.

I must be clear with you here: becoming parents has not been something that has been in my of Nige's vision of our life together (although of course I've pondered and wondered and imagined, always left with a sense of impossibility around it and feeling that I really didn't think this was what I wanted).

Why not? Isn't it the most natural thing in the world to do? And wouldn't I make a great mother? Even my English language students this summer, in a lesson in which they made predictions about one another, agreed in force and with much laughter that I will one day make an amazing wife and mother. I protested that it's not what I want, and was met with dubious looking faces. By people who don't even know the word 'dubious' in the English language.

So, why not?

Because it's f-ing scary to think about the implication it would have on our lives, on my life and on his. - not to mention this sacred little being who we would be responsible for bringing into the world. This isn't a selfish issue at all - there is an innocent third party whose very existence depends on it! And because all around us, in friends' and family members' lives, we see people whose lives are swallowed up by having kids, and that is quite a terrifying proposition. I mean, I'll be blunt with you - a lot of people who have children seem to come to resent the little b@!*tards; they tell us as much. Because I wouldn't want to bring a being into such a broken, messed up world. And because it upheaves everything I've imagined about my life, and where it's going. Because it would mean sacrificing so much, giving up so much. And am I capable of giving everything that a child needs? Because I'm 28 now, and I'm only just starting to really step into my power - I mean, my 'career' is completely up in the air and I'm an under-earner and even if I did want a child, and if Nige did too, and we both agreed to embark on the irreversible and incredible journey of parenthood, how on earth and in heaven would we finance it?! I can barely meet my bills at the moment. Also, because this world is scary. And because it would be the end of things as we know them. Things between us would change, and that frightens me too. And perhaps most of all because I dread repeating the mistakes of my parents, and I'm faced with the inevitability that that might happen because that's what humans do. I'm frightened of becoming an abuser and ruining my child's life.

There. I've said it.

But at the same time... what if?

Airing this tiny shift in my mind was a big deal. Some people might lock these things, these quiet yearnings, right into their heart. They might tell their friends. They might devote their aching to a journal, or their prayers. But for me, the most honest thing I could do was come right out and talk to my fiance about it. Because it concerns him, and us, as well as me, in a major, major way. Not sharing this with Nige would have been to hide a vital part of myself. Suddenly, there's a wall in the relationship where, in order for intimacy to occur, there needs to be a window.

In telling Nige, I let him know me a little bit more, and perhaps I gave him a gift that he wouldn't have had if I hadn't told him. Maybe it allowed him to explore or experience an aspect of himself that never would have emerged had that conversation not happened. But for sure I know tonight that my partner knows me. He knows where I'm at. He knows my heart. He knows a new and fresh aspect of me, one that I'm just awakening to myself. I love the Love that is always on the other side of me walking through my fear. I took a risk, and after being snarled at by the bulldog, I came to see the beautiful person that was also calling to be witnessed and seen. I was witnessed and seen too, and now I don't need to shroud my heart in darkness. I can let everything breathe. Breath is life-giving, and things like these need to be allowed to live, otherwise I risk carrying a ghost of a thought around with me for the rest of my life, and I risk it becoming stagnant and toxic inside of me.

I don't need people telling me what I will or will not want, although I am grateful for the various influences who have prompted this most unexpected unfolding of ever deeper parts of my heart. This is obviously a huge and deep subject, and I'm sure that if you've read this far, there are thoughts, heart murmurings, musings, experiences, reflections, wishes, hopes and insights that you have, too, which I would love to hear.

But for today, this is enough - that I've aired my doubt, the doubt about how solid I am in my conviction of definitely not wanting children ever. And the forgiveness journey continues on for another day.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Expectations, expectations

Expectations are weird, aren't they? I once asked a friend once about what she was expecting to happen around a particular event, and although I can't remember the circumstances, I distinctly recall her response. She said, "I try not to have expectations." Woah! My expectation of her expectations was completely blown out of the water.

I'm writing this today because I think I've been expecting 'more' of The Forgiveness Project. Not being able to check in each day and write, because I was on holiday and cycling (and Nige would definitely not have forgiven me if I'd packed my really heavy laptop in the panniers which he was carting around), has, I feel, hindered my progress with the project. As if I really was supposed to reach some kind of zenith of enlightenment, rather than being 22 days in and by and large still being the same human being. Pah. Who wants to be normal when you can be healed?

Perhaps I have been deceiving myself a little, too. Being with another human being 24/7 is the fastest way to see their perfectly imperfect yet quite irksome flaws. Having just read Nige's assessment of my 'dodgy gear changes' whilst driving Winston II Once Removed (aka his 1989 Honda Civic) (see day 11), I am provoked into something of a defensive outburst... I do not change gears dodgily! See! The dictionary doesn't even recognize that as a real word! And in fact, mister, if you want to get personal, there is in you, I must point out, a road rager who emerges as soon as you turn the key in the ignition (and sometimes even before!)

"Oh my God," Nige says, reading over my shoulder. "Where's the forgiveness in that?!"

He's right of course. Where is the forgiveness? Because here I am on day 22 slightly annoyed that I haven't written every single day of this project, slightly overwhelmed by the things happening in my life (new freelance jobs, being a Godmother, just about to start the 30 Day Screw Work Let's Play Challenge, etc etc), and slowly realizing that actually, perhaps these past 22 days have been just right. Not too much for me to handle. Just enough forgiveness opportunities to make this project palatable without tearing my inner world apart. Just... right.

Now, about that bloody bus driver this afternoon..... This song is one I used to love love love and listened to non-stop. I feel it's very pertinent for today.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Still forgiving, 20 days in

A week spent away from computers, away from home, amongst hills, paths, fells and villages with a bike and a mighty companion for company have provided me with so many opportunities for forgiveness.

Every day of this project, Nige and I have spoken about, and (hopefully!) practiced forgiveness. The journey is far from over. With ten more days to go, there is much to be said, and a lifetime of forgiving is unfolding before me.

Today, however, I am called to write elsewhere. I have an interview tomorrow for a writing job and am going to visit my beautiful friend and her beautiful daughter after that, so once again it may be a couple of days until I can pour upon the page. There is so much that I long to share with you, so much that matters to me, so much that I have tasted in the last week of my life.

But perhaps, for now, I am simply asked to continue focusing on forgiveness, and trusting that all that needs to be said, shared and heard will be, at just the right moment.

Until then, know this...

"Forget not that the healing of God's Son [children] is all the world is for. That is the only purpose the Holy Spirit sees in it, and thus the only one it has."

May the hush of heaven hold your heart today, and may your day be full of purpose, love, and connection.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Forgiveness on 9/11

Learning that I can choose love instead of fear has been the most profound lesson of my life.

There is only one thing I could possibly put into a post about 9/11.

Please watch this video.

Much love
Elloa xx

P.S. Nige and I are going away for a cycling holiday today so updates may be limited. Have a forgive-full week!

Monday, 5 September 2011

'We' Can Heal Our Life

We have decided to write a blog. Together. A post about being in a relationship, about life as a couple. Who is this 'we' that 'we' speak of? It's Nige and Ell, of course!

We are setting our intention here this evening (Nige just farted - how very timely), and we hope that you will join us as we expose the good, the bad and the innocent of being in relationship.

Right now, 'we' are deciding how 'we' want to express our own, individual voices on this blog. Notice the word 'we'. What we've noticed in the last couple of weeks, is that the word 'we' has become one of the most frequently used words we use in our vocabulary. We don't think we've used the word 'I' more than once or twice. We have decided to add variety and spice to the relationship - we may start using the word 'us' occasionally.

'We' is such an interesting concept: One Individual + One Individual = WE

Two separate bodies, with two separate personalities, decide to live together and two become one. Suddenly, they no longer have separate interests - they eat the same thing, they retire for bed at the same time every night, and they always order the same thing in a coffee shop, because one is always unsure of what to choose so it's easier to just order what the other person is having even if you don't like it. It's a bit like having sex - lie back and think of England, as they say.

We don't think we're doing too badly with all this 'we' stuff. After all, it is a word that spans many languages, age groups, cultures and even technological breakthroughs... read on if you don't believe 'us':

The French use the word we (pronounced oui). 

The Scottish also use the word we (pronounced wee).

Little boys often wee in their pants.

Young children are taught about the power of we when on a playground slide .. wheeeeeeee!

Even the Nintendo has jumped on the bandwagon, trying to be the first brand with codependant tendencies selling many variations of Wii.

Neil Diamond even wrote a song about the subject called 'We' (and if anyone in the pop world understands the nature of a loving relationship then it's Neil).

We found this great quote about the song on YouTube...

"The lyric of this song is so wonderful, it expresses exactly my deepest wishes of a ideal relationship. Thank you Neil for helping me to realize what i really want of 'my future-life'"

Even Buddha spoke of 'we':

'We are what we think. With our thoughts, we make our world.'
(c. 563-483 BC)

He was probably fused with the all-encompassing Oneness, rather than trapped in a codpendent relationship, but nevertheless he too spoke of 'we'. Buddha is definitely the way forward. (That is why we have a Buddha statue in our bedroom.)

It might seem like we're making light of this issue. Making light of it allows us to shine some light on the situation, enabling it - and us - to breathe, paving the way for a happy relationship.

Having noticed that there's a lot of we-ing going on, we've both decided to make a conscious choice to use the word 'I' and to make individual decisions. It's about respecting each other's differences. The one thing we always have available to us is freedom of choice. Every human being who walks this earth has their own frame of reference and preferences, and exercising this needn't be threatening to their partner or relationship. However, if you start to choose something different from the status quo, the ego may kick off, so don't be surprised if the very foundations of your relationship appear to shake and become unsteady beneath your feet! This is only temporary, as you start to learn a new way of thinking and being in your relationship.

Once you've begun to make loving choices for yourself, it becomes easier to enjoy connecting with your partner.

We're not experts, but we are happy together, and it is the seemingly insignificant daily choices that we've made and continue to make which determine who we are in the middle of our relationship: connecting in the morning, giving and receiving acknowledgements, really listening to what the other has to share (and that means being curious and open!), sharing meals, riding our bikes together, saying thank you and giving loving touch - these are some of the ingredients that combine to create a soft place to land. These choices are things we do together in the relationship but they also help us as individuals to be in relationship with ourselves.

There is an invisible line between us, and it is there for a reason. It's like walking alongside each other; our paths are parallel, but not enmeshed. As a woman, Elloa particularly likes the image of her 'life river' running alongside her partner's 'life path' - it reminds her to allow the relationship to flow and unfold in its own unique way. In Nige's words, don't cross the line.

The truth is that for a relationship to become conscious and fully alive, it takes practice and the willingness to choose again... and again... and again. Being in a relationship is a learning process and we're finding that it's best to remember to laugh at the absurdity of it all as we navigate the twists and turns.

Perhaps Neil was wrong.

Perhaps One Individual + One Individual = LOVE

I'm in the middle of The Forgiveness Project - a 30 Day Exploration of Forgiveness. Come and join me here.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Forgiveness Project

Nige and I have been pondering... What would happen if you spent 30 days focussing on forgiving everyone who angers or upsets you in any way - and we mean everyone? Whether it's mild irritation, medium road rage or a fully blown fit of hysteria, forgiveness, we've found, is always the antidote that can help us move from fear to love.

What is forgiveness, anyway? Well for starters, it's a letting go of control and a need to be right (ouch!), genuinely putting myself into another person's shoes and truly recognizing that everything that another person seemingly does to me is either an extension of love, or a cry for it (yes, that does include the ignorant van driver who drives within a hair's breadth of me on my bike - yes, even that is a cry for love). Through practicing radical forgiveness, the heart bursts open to a new way of thinking and living, in which innocence becomes the order of the day.

So, for the next 30 days, this is exactly what Nige and I are going to do. Inspired by the amazing 41 day projects Julia has done this year, and reflecting on Nige's 104 day experiment in conscious dying, aware of how quickly a month seems to pass by, and so excited about starting the Screw Work Let's Play 30 Day Challenge on 1st October, now - this day, this moment - seems like the perfect time to begin a forgiveness project.

Love waits on welcome. To the degree that we are judging our fellow human beings is to the degree that we are refusing to let love into our lives. Not content with just coasting along, doing the work of forgiving when it's so intense that we can't carry on our day without doing it, we are, for the next 30 days, committing to forgive all of it.

If we truly take this to heart - and we mean, truly take it to heart, really, really forgiving everyone - and apply it in our everyday lives, then we will be doing our bit for world peace. We're talking about everything here, from the idiot on the road to world leaders, to the friends we secretly judge, to our families, our annoying neighbours, and especially, each other. We will leave no stone unturned. After all, what's the worst that could happen here? We might actually end up liking the arsehole. Woah!

On a serious note, this is about accountability. It's a revolution in how we speak, how we think, how we act, and it starts in the mind. It's about refusing to point the finger, and, when we do, forgiving ourselves anyway and letting it all go.

We would love for you to join us on this epic adventure. Get involved by leaving comments, blogging about it yourself and sending us a link, or going within and doing the work quietly - whatever suits you.

Let the forgiveness revolution begin...

... hand in hand.