Thursday, 27 October 2011

Pretty ugly

Some days, I feel so ugly.
I know, I know; 'ugly isn't a feeling'.
But let me tell you - it is.
This is how ugly feels.

Ugly feels unloveable. Ugly feels alone. Ugly is rejected, less than, not worthy, not enough, weird, an outcast, beneath others, unsuccessful, unwanted, a rotting apple in the reduced section of a supermarket, shunned and shamed into a dark corner, handled and inspected, glanced at and then seen through, an object unworthy of attention, unworthy of being seen, unworthy of touch, tenderness or - God forbid - adoration.

Ugly is frozenness whenever a camera is around.
Ugly is wanting to smile but not allowing it in case anyone notices - and is repulsed by - the crookedness of your teeth.

See how this word, 'ugly', has wormed its way into my consciousness.

All I want is to feel pretty.

And then there is 'FAT'.

On a day when I 'feel' fat, I feel repulsive, disgusting, a freak, undisciplined, unloveable, a heifer, an object of ridicule, shame-ridden, guilt-ridden, gluttonous, less than human, deserving of judgement.
Being fat (even if it is only through my eyes and no one else's) means I have sacrificed the right to dignity, to pride, to loving myself or not being subjected to other people's opinions of Who I Am. Because I have let myself become Fat, and in so doing have given strangers permission to harass, ridicule and mock me, to make of me a freak show, a scapegoat, putty to be molded into any shape and size they want so long as they do not humanize me.

I have done all of these things to myself.

Because I believe I'm fat, I am a pig.
Because I believe I'm fat I don't have feelings.
Because I believe I'm fat I don't matter.
Because I believe I am fat, I live in hell.

See how this word, 'fat', has wormed its way into my consciousness.

All I want is to feel pretty.

Moreover, I am driven to be pretty, to make myself pretty; to shoehorn myself into 'slim', 'attractive', 'stylish', 'smooth', 'plucked', 'trim' and 'toned'. Not because I want to be an athlete, strong and feminine, awake to the power of my physicality. Not because I have authentically chosen this for myself.
No. Just because I believe that I need to be slim and pretty in order to think that I am allowed to feel  good about myself.

I have chosen this, for many, many years.
I have let my mind run riot.
And now I am asking the question: SAYS WHO?
What if, by gathering with other women, we could change things?
What if we could change how we feel about ourselves?
What if we could find freedom?
True beauty?

What if, by gathering with real women, by sharing the scars that run so deep beneath the surface that they seem to have gouged away part of our sense of wholeness, we could realize that in truth, nothing has been lost, merely covered over?

What if we could un-cover (rather than re-cover) the sacred feminine presence that dwells within us?
True, it dwells so deep, in the realm of the inner child.

But stop for a moment and really consider this: What If?

This, my friends, is the purpose of the space I hold.

This is the reason we gather. We share stories. We reflect. We get quiet, and we speak, letting our voices cut through the barrage of cultural messages until they resonate clear and strong, until we can hear ourselves truly thinking our own thoughts, declaring what is true in the absence of all fear, declaring what is true when there is only love.

We gather so that we have the strength not to succumb to the thoughts we automatically  think when we see the latest make-up campaign (I am ugly and therefore all of the above). We gather to touch our own sorrow, to stand in the centre of the fire, face ourselves and face what we do to ourselves and say, 'ENOUGH. No more. I will not crucify myself like this any more.'

And it is gentle, this process. It is just one step at a time.
There is no pressure.
There is nothing to prove here.
No demands are made upon you.
You just come, and be as you are, and allow yourself to breathe, and listen, and observe, and feel.
You share if you want to share.
You say "no thank you" if you want to remain quiet.

And slowly, slowly, you and I and all the women in the circle remember that we are incredible, beautiful beings who have been given perhaps a few decades to simply shine our light.
It is time to get real about how we think and speak and feel about our bodies.
It's is time to let go of 'pretty'.

Elloa xx

P.S. I am starting a mailing list. To be on it, please send me an email to and I will add you to it. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The First Women's Circle... and my message for you today

Tuesday evening was a milestone in my life: my first Women's Circle. I say 'my circle' because it's important for me to have a sense of ownership of the circle and of the fact that I created it.

Creating - being creative, being a creator - is something that has been in the shadows for me for a number of years. Julia Cameron talks a lot about shadow artists: blocked creatives who find themselves hanging around with a lot of artists, musicians, writers, sculptors, actors, and poets, living in quiet envy, supporting their creative spouse, friends, colleagues and children but somehow not managing to dive into their own creativity.

I have so known this space.

The act of creating something, whether that is a picture, poem or indeed a space, has felt frightening to me. What if what I create isn't understood or liked by people? What if I get rejected on some level? What if it's not noticed or recognized? What if what if what if.... This is the crazy what if train, a world in itself, a state of paralysis.

These fears - these little mind thoughts - have almost crippled me.

But they couldn't kill the desire to create. 

Yesterday's video was one tiny (bizarre!) outpouring of that. 'But the world doesn't need any more writers', my ego protests nastily. Maybe not. 'Everything that needs to be said is being said.' (Notice the horrible pooey colour that the ego writes in. Perhaps so, I respond. But I need to say these things

And besides... each of us is creating every single day - whether we admit it or not.

So on Tuesday, I created a sacred space, and two beautiful women came along. I read The Invitation to them, and invited them to ponder what is no longer serving them, what they want to let go of, and what they're ready to change. We shared. We gave feedback to each other. We drank herbal tea, and giggled, and wrote wish lists, and then gave each other delicious massages. I had a lovely time! And today I got the feedback that they did too.

Lovely homemade flyer

The support I have received from fellow challengers on the Screw Work Let's Play 30 day challenge has been truly incredible, and I don't know that I would have had the courage to follow this acorn of an idea through to the manifestation of an actual circle had it not been for the daily support, encouragement and spurring on I've received from the space and community involved in the challenge.

So this is my message today - support one another.
Cheer your friends on, encourage them to take the next baby step, commit to doing a tiny but focussed amount on your project every day (20 minutes of distractionless time can work miracles) and get accountability buddies - people who love you enough to challenge you when you're not stepping fully into your magnificence, to be honest with you, to gently but firmly dare you to take the next step.

Because we've only got one life. One chance to live today. The sun has gone down here in England, and Thursday 20th October 2011 will never come around again.
Heck people - this moment is all that we have! (Thanks, Oprah, for the reminder).

So if you're putting off living your life until some undefined day in the future, making excuses to yourself that sound like this: 'when I've got more money/time/freedom / when I'm not so busy at work or stressed out / when I'm in a better space and feel more loving towards myself / etc etc, then I'll follow what's in my heart'... please, STOP!

Just go, right now, and do one tiny act of magnificence for yourself. Have some freakin' fun!
Dance round your kitchen.
Do a handstand.
Draw a dog.
Call a loved one.
Just do something, anything, to shift the energy and get yourself creating again.

Because the world needs your light, just like it needed my women's circle on Tuesday. Just like it needs this blog post. And just like it needs the little dance I'm about to do right now, straight after pressing 'Publish'.

Love you... let me know how it goes.
Elloa xx

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Ell & Nige show

Exciting times!

Nige and I have produced our first ever video together! It was a spontaneous moment of fun last week... head over here to see us in the flesh!


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Invitation

This beautiful poem, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, is how I am opening the space for the women this evening at the very first Sacred Women's Circle in Steyning.

May these words sink deep into your being. 
May you know that you are loved.

Today's powerful, inviting sky

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah from her book, THE INVITATION (c)1999. Published by HarperONE, San Francisco. 
All rights reserved. Presented with permission of the author.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

As I Began to Love Myself

I have just discovered this wonderful poem which was written by the late Charlie Chaplin on his 70th birthday, April 16th 1959. It's beautiful and thought provoking and lovely. Enjoy...

As I Began to Love Myself, a poem by Charlie Chaplin
As I began to love myself
I found that anguish and emotional suffering  are only warning signs
that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
As I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call it “RESPECT”.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do
and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health -
food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!
Beautiful flowers sent with love

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Just enough light to take the next step

I am struck by how there is always just enough light to take the next step, and by how I cannot possibly know what the next step is until I take the one that is right in front of me.

Today I went to Shoreham by Sea, a lovely town a few miles away that I used to live in before Nige and I moved in together. There's a couple of health food shops in the town, with completely different vibes. One is very 'yummy mummy', and the other is all eco and painted signs, with art on the walls. I like both, but they are very different. I usually shop at the second one.

I am acquaintances with the girl who runs the second shop. Her name is Joanna and she has long bleached blonde dreadlocks and awesome eye make up. I showed her the flyer, she was all guns blazing, "Wow! This is awesome. If it was in Shoreham, I'd definitely come" (she has no car to get to Steyning and yes, sadly, to get to my village there is only one bus an hour. And yes, her words were red and purple and green and orange and pink and blue. They definitely were.)

She loved my flyer :)

Another lady called Mary, who does Reiki healings and tarot readings on people then came into the shop, and instantly gave the same response. "Wow, amazing, when are you starting, if you do it in Shoreham I'll be there. I can think of 5 people immediately who'd come along. This is so needed."

Then Joanna suggested a space that's currently being renovated that I might like to take a look at, if I was considering running a second women's circle, in Shoreham. 

Going with the flow, I went off to see it. 

It was an awesome space: a big airy room called The Loft with wooden floors and lots of light. Very similar in fact to the space I envisioned in a session with the amazing Alia a few months ago. BUT the guy wants 50% of my takings in the long run (although he'll give me 6 months or so to get the group up to a decent size without charging any rent, and said he'll do some advertising for it, too).

He has bought the place and wants to do what he called a 'partnership' with people like me who want to run groups or classes, instead of hiring the room out on an hourly basis. I think he's a shrewd businessman. I'm not convinced it's entirely fair on me in the long run.

Still, I liked the space and I'm going to have a play with the numbers to see how it all pans out.

I arrived home to find some amazing feedback from Marianne Cantwell about my blog. She loves the content but loathes the design. Update: She doesn't love the design because she doesn't think it reflects my magnificence. It was great to hear! So I plan to work on that (and have changed it in the short term, to mix things up a bit. What do you think?? Please leave a comment!)

So I'm here on day 6 of the awesome 30 day challenge, wondering...

  • Is Steyning the right place for the circle (at least, is it right right now)?
  • Is Shoreham the right place for the circle (right now)?
  • Can I get the word out in Steyning without paying to be in the local magazine when I don't really know anyone here?

I wonder where this is all going.... it's pretty scary, and pretty exciting too! I never would have known that I'd be here if I hadn't taken the leap to get some momentum going on the project.

So... what is YOUR next step? It could be tiny... a five minute burst of activity, a putting of pen to paper, a conversation, a vision board session? 

I'd love to hear... it only takes a minute girl (or boy), to leave a comment, to leave a comment (Take That fans will get the reference)

Elloa xx

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Screw Work, Let's Play

October is a big month for me. I am doing the Screw Work Let's Play 30 day challenge (hopefully continuing to forgive along the way!).

I will be uploading my progress from the challenge to this space, because I love this space, and because I know that my commitment is really going to be elsewhere.

All I can say, one day in, is that this challenge is frikkin' powerful. Deeply, deeply powerful.

May the miracles unfold...

My project is:
Starting a fortnightly women's circle in Steyning, West Sussex. The circle will be a place for women to come and share stories, express themselves in a brilliant variety of ways, sing, drum, play, dance, laugh, cry, weave dreams, and step into their magnificence.
On the 30 October at 5pm I will be sharing the following with the community as the output of my project:
I will have run my first women's circle (on October 18th - the room is booked!) and will be preparing for the second circle on November 1st. I'll write about the evening, including photos where appropriate, and will publish this on my blog and on this site. If the circle has covered my costs and generated my first playcheque, I will joyfully photograph it for you!
What excites me the most about this project is...
Stepping into my magnificence as I create a space for women to step into theirs. When women gather together, miracles happen. That I could be the conduit of that process is so, so exciting for me.
I am also excited at the picture I have in my mind of the kind of space the circle will be and of the atmosphere I envision for it. I intend to hold an amazing space for these everyday Goddesses.
What scares me the most about this project is...
Stepping into my magnificence. Excitement and fear are so closely intertwined for me. Specifically, inviting people to come along to the circle (inviting, not selling!) and the projected image in my mind of whether I'll be 'up to the job' of holding the space on the night and whether I'll 'perform' and 'be good enough' (thank you, Top Dog. Now get lost!)
I hereby commit to the 30 Day Challenge pledge because... 
I am ready to answer the call in my heart to step into leadership and take the action necessary to bring my dreams to life. It is time to shine!
Elloa xx

Messy Creative desk

Me, very excited, with almost finished flyers
Homemade flyers