Keep it simple

I’ve come to the realisation that the best way to live my life is to keep it simple.

Simplicity is peaceful, calm, and beautiful. It’s not trying to get to some place or other, some state of being or other; it just is. The raw natural state of Being.

Having an analytical mind is both a blessing and a curse. It is a tool to help me grow and meet my goals. It keeps me honest. It helps me connect to others. It can also drive me to distraction trying to figure out how to get there from here, criticising me for all my perceived mistakes that brought me here in the first place, all the while blinding me to the present moment and the love, joy, freedom and creativity that is available right here, right now.

We are inseparable from nature. It is our essence. When we strip away all the conditioning – from our families, societies and culture – we are left with who we were always meant to be; our organic, awakened, soul-self. Flowers don’t beat themselves up for not being as perfect as the next flower. Each flower blooms in the way it’s supposed to.

It’s far from easy because we hold expectations of how life should be and what we want for our particular life – that is natural too. We want to be happy. We want to avoid pain. That’s all part of it. We have free will – that is the blessed beauty of living a human life with its particular joys and tragedies. We are free to respond or react to what happens. At a certain point we can even choose whether to stay awake or fall back to sleep. Regardless, our true essence remains like a jewel waiting to be discovered…and re-discovered.

Once that happens, life’s inherent simplicity and inter-connectedness emerges. We are all beautiful souls in various stages of soul growth, with different tests and challenges to deal with, all of which can lead us back to our essence, reflected in the beauty of nature itself and the remarkable trials it often faces to simply survive.

For today, I keep it very simple. My essence is the soul I was born with, the individualised speck of the Divine I was always meant to be. In that knowledge I do my best to speak and act. I have a plan for my future – my aromatherapy/essential oils website and business – which may or may not come to fruition. I live for now, in this moment; being aware of my thoughts and emotions as much as possible, listening to my body; and embrace the preciousness of it all.

The Search

I wrote this some time after I got my beautiful dog Zoey as it feels like she symbolises the unconditional love I have always been seeking within and without.

The Search

Branches silhouetted like witches fingers

puppeted by the roaring wind

Dead leaves quiver like spiders

shadowed by their search, nearing the end.

I gaze up into the velvet sky

where stars glitter like diamonds

matching the tears falling from my eyes;

cosmic energy, pulsating life.

I shut my eyes to find

beauty and blackness filling my soul

starlight radiating through my heart

reminding me I am home.

A fluffy ball of white

brushes past my leg

and barks her love

into the night.

Life in one name: Zoey.

The search is over.

When the present moment hurts

All spiritual teachings point to the wisdom of being in the now because, in fact, this is the only place we can ever be; only our minds create the illusion that we could be anywhere else.

However, it is very natural for our minds to want to escape pain and suffering, not realising that there is nowhere we can actually go (short of being in real threat or danger whereby our physical bodies will react accordingly).

Sometimes the present moment hurts. I am in such a moment. It may sound trivial compared to a lot of problems and believe me I know more than most, but I feel very fragile. My back is hurting. I’ve probably strained it through sitting too long in the wrong posture but it’s been the same on and off for a couple of weeks. I went to the hairdressers yesterday and found the half an hour sitting on a chair to wait for my hair colour to take was torturous for my back. I wanted to stand up and walk around and probably should have done, but somehow felt I couldn’t (I can be quite a shy person).

I’m also exhausted and not feeling well generally. My immune system feels inflammatory with lots of aches, pains, stomach spasms, weakness and cold-like symptoms. This isn’t unusual for me at all and I can deal with it. It’s all part of my health conditions which I have had for many years. But the worst is the effect on my mental health because during flare ups I feel very low. I suspect that the inflammation hits my brain and makes me want to be anywhere else but in this body and in this moment. I am prone to depression (which I used to struggle with constantly) but have come to realise that rather than my depression causing my physical problems as is so commonly assumed, my situation is the other way around: my physical state is causing the depression. As soon as the inflammation eases its hold on my system, I can place a large sum of money (if I had some) on my depression easing too. And it always does.

As much as the present moment hurts, resisting it does not help. I know that, yet it can be so difficult to avoid doing so. I don’t want this pain, who would? The way I deal with this is to accept the resistance. I don’t have to like or want what’s happening. I add another layer of awareness and compassion to those struggling, hurting parts of my being. I feel the resistance in my body as a real, tangible sensation. At this point I usually find tears, and I let myself cry. It is powerful to be with that emotion, to accept it with love, and let it go.

I want to share this because it’s natural to have down days and moments, even (and maybe especially?) for those of us on a spiritual path. I can fall into the trap of spiritual perfectionism whereby I think that as I’m aware of my true nature as a spiritual being I shouldn’t feel depressed or sick anymore. Not true! I am living a human life. I’m still at the mercy of this body with its chemical processes and limitations. And sure, maybe one day when I’m further along my path I may experience much better health, physical and/or emotional, but I may not. The future doesn’t exist except as an illusion. This IS my path, right here, right now, pain and all.

Soul of a rose

I finished reading a beautiful novel today about a lady who was diagnosed with Dementia and began to forget her daily routine, followed by people she knew well, then eventually her own family. The beauty of the story lay in its reminder of the power of the eternal present, in what is real, fresh and true, in the here and now. Most of all, it’s a story about enduring love even as bodies and minds disintegrate and fade away.

Out of the many beautiful quotes, this one is my favourite. It’s deeply poignant and sad on a human level but speaks of the deeper truth behind all feelings and experiences. The lady had forgotten who her husband was, the person she married many years earlier, who had tried hard to support her throughout her devastating diagnosis and rapid deterioration:

‘And Dennis realised then that the book entitled Dennis had already fallen off the shelf. He wondered what the point was of coming here, week after week, year after year. What was the point of it all? He looked at the pale pink roses on the carpet at his feet and wondered why he bothered. They had long ceased to bring her back to him. He lifted his gaze to her guileless face, to the sweet smile that hovered uncertainly upon it, and something tugged inside his heart.

And then he knew. He knew with a certainty that rose in him like a powerful wave, an indestructible wave of unconditional love, and he understood. It didn’t matter that she didn’t know who he was, because he knew who she was. She was his Goldie, his beloved, beautiful, irreplaceable Goldie, and she always would be.’

Whether or not the author intended it, I felt the Divine truth behind those words, the realisation that even though I forget the truth of who I am and the fact I am Spirit, Spirit does not forget me. I am a soul who comes from Spirit, which is perfect Love. The amount of times that I have reflected on my life thus far and wondered what the point of it all was and felt so hopeless because things didn’t turn out in any way close to how I’d tried so hard for them to be, and yet, all the while I am loved eternally for being me. I don’t need to do or be any different, only realise it.

We experience life through our minds and emotions but they are not us. Our inner being, our soul, is whole, enduring, love and beauty itself. In the early stages of her condition, Marigold, the main character, draws upon the scent of a rose to remind herself of her husband’s enduring love no matter what. As she starts to deteriorate, she reflects with sadness that she will no longer remember her husband bringing her the beautiful flowers, but then realises that while she won’t have the memories, which is undeniably sad, she WILL still experience the beauty of the rose in the moment, which is all she can ever do. The symbolism of this takes my breath away. Our inner being is that rose: Pure Love itself.

I don’t intend to romanticise Dementia. I have no direct experience of it but I know it is devastating. To effectively lose a person you love without them actually dying is just beyond dreadful. I have some experience of the latter, having lost my father to cancer some years ago and watched his mind and body shut down. And yet, even then I was aware of him becoming more alive than he ever had as the rest of him faded away. It was some comfort knowing that despite appearances, love always endures. It is who we are.

In another beautiful quote, Marigold’s deceased father points this out:

“Don’t you see Goldie?” he said calmly. “You’ll always be you. No disease can take that away. You’re eternal. Nothing can destroy you.”

Amen to that.

In case anyone is interested in reading this powerful novel it’s called ‘Here and Now’ by Santa Montefiore. (I’m not in any way connected to the author or publishers, I just love it!)

Homage to a Seagull

While out with my dog earlier I saw a squashed seagull in the middle of the road. It’s not unusual to see birds that have been run over in my neck of the woods and it always makes me sad, but today I felt powerfully, almost unbearably overcome with emotion.

This poor creature became a victim in the process of doing what was most natural to it – looking for food in any place it could find some. I imagine someone was driving too fast and/or it was too dark and didn’t see it, or maybe they did and didn’t think it mattered.

Every life matters, it doesn’t matter how big or small or seemingly insignificant it is to someone else. It’s true, sometimes we can’t help but kill something in the process of living our lives, but these instances can be the rare exceptions rather than the rule. Within the cycle of life, every life is precious to that life; it is all sacred.

I’m sorry, Seagull. You deserved to live longer and not have your life cruelly cut short. I hope you’re flying free in Spirit, teaching all the other gulls the joy of Being. You have made me think of the famous Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and how he lived his Earthly life teaching himself to fly high for the sheer joy of it, despite the lack of understanding and distain he received from the other gulls. After a life spent in isolation he went to spirit, only to find he wasn’t alone, there was someone just like him, who in fact was even more evolved. Further inspired by his friend, he reincarnated to Earth to teach other gulls.

I hope that, like Jonathan, you have returned to your Spirit home to continue your evolution at whatever stage you’re at. And that maybe you’ll return to teach us all something, someday!

All paths lead home

I’m a huge X Files fan and used to eat, sleep and breathe the show. I haven’t watched it in years but one of the many beautiful quotes that stand out for me is Scully’s sister Melissa saying ‘There’s no right or wrong, it’s just a path.’

It used to make me cry to hear it. For many years of my life I DID believe I’d taken the wrong turn, failed, or plain messed up. I thought God, the Universe or Spirit was punishing me because I hadn’t listened to my intuition, or had but made the ‘wrong’ decision anyway. I went to see an alternative therapist when I was young and impressionable and she reinforced this belief by implying that because I hadn’t learnt my lesson from one situation the Universe had needed to make my life even harder. I can see the logic behind her view but the problem is she presented it in a way that suggested that my entire life circumstances were an external punishment for not having listened to myself or Spirit.

I went through life suffering with thoughts that I was a spiritual failure, that I hadn’t been ‘good.’ Even as a small child I had strong morals and was determined to be good in the eyes of God. I wrote to Him in notebooks and prayed for the capacity to choose what was right. I was eleven years old! At thirty one I was lost in a spiritual depression. I couldn’t see my way out. I’d tried so hard to get it right, this thing called life. And somehow I kept going wrong.

Years later, I can see and understand that I wasn’t being punished, and that the choices I made, even though they weren’t always the best choices for myself, were only leading me back to where I was always headed, the only place I CAN be: my own Self. I couldn’t go ‘wrong’ in the eyes of God, or Spirit, because the Divine light was always within me, and whatever I experienced was yet another opportunity to find my way back home to my Self. (Please note: I’m not referring to decisions made by others that inflict pain or cruelty as that’s a whole other topic. )

The very human, wounded part of me, still reacts to this understanding. Like, ‘Hang on, there’s got to be something more to it than that? It has to mean more, surely? Why DID I go through that hell?’ Maybe that’s my ego-based personality not wanting to accept that the journey serves as a reminder that I am already home. In the film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s dream journey to Oz showed her that what she sought she already had within. Without the journey she wouldn’t have realised it. I don’t love or even like the journey in many places as it’s been incredibly hard and I honour that, but I see it for what it is: my path home.

As a child I knew this, I just framed it differently. I knew that I could draw on God, or Spirit, to show me the way to being the person I sensed I was despite all the external conditioning. I knew he would lead me home if I asked. I knew I had a lot of power at my disposal that I could draw on as and when I needed. But then I grew up. That’s the funny thing about this life – we are re-learning what we always knew. As Jesus said about young children, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’

To anyone thinking, as I did, that you’ve gone wrong or are being punished: You’re not! You are a beautiful soul dealing with this crazy game called life. It’s hard. But trust that you’re always on the road home. It’s just learning to see through all the illusions and realise the light that is always in you and each of us.

Being the awareness that holds it all

Yesterday was not a good day. Some heavy emotions had hold of me and all I could do was let them have their way. Sometimes distraction works but this time it didn’t, and I felt intuitively that I needed to be with what was happening, that it was not an episode of depression that I could pull myself out of with some uplifting words or music. It was grief determined to be acknowledged and heard.

The challenge was letting the emotions be without identifying with them. I was tempted to revert to familiar narratives such as ‘my life is pointless’ ‘my opinion isn’t worth much’ and ‘this is all hopeless.’ They took me further into the cycle of pain until I realised what was happening and re-centred myself in the present moment. Because the key to healing is being fully with what is happening, accepting and being compassionate towards it, but not losing oneself in it.

I don’t reject those narratives because I understand why I’m experiencing them, I just don’t lose myself in them. My wounded inner child felt pointless, worthless and hopeless for many years. Unfortunately, she has had many reasons to feel like that. She has a voice that demands to be heard. She is part of me, but I am not her. This means I can learn to integrate her within me as I offer myself a loving space; embracing everything and rejecting nothing. Eckhart Tolle calls this the awareness or presence but it may just as well be seen as the Divine within, the Higher Self, or the Soul.

Emotions are energy that is moving through us for a reason – to make us aware, to wake us up, to transform us. They are meant to be felt and embraced as the messengers they are. But they are not who WE are. Like our thoughts, they exist for a time, then they move on. My challenge is to let them be without losing myself in the story around them and believing the story again. It FELT true once, but that doesn’t make it true then or now. Anchoring myself in the present, in my body, I can feel that truth and become the awareness that holds all of it.

Finding who I Am in the struggle

I intend to always be honest in this blog about my struggles. And life can be a struggle. I often feel that I’m in a dark night of the soul experience with a genuine glimpse of the light ahead but with a little way from fully embracing my existence as a spiritual being.

My life has been about loss. I grew up in a dysfunctional family where secrets and divisions were the norm, as were isolation and loneliness. I turned to God as a coping mechanism and thereby started my spiritual path where I never felt truly alone in the world, even though I very much did in my family.

As an adult I married young in the hope of creating the family unit I had always craved. Unfortunately my ex husband was also a product of his own wounded upbringing (as are so many of us) and our marriage was painful and abusive. We had our son very early on and loved him dearly but by the time he was three he had a diagnosis of autism and learning difficulties, which would turn out to be severe.

I loved being a parent in so many ways, but it was desperately hard. I had already fallen very unwell at university in my teens, and my health deteriorated as I tried to cope with my son’s challenging behaviour and hyperactivity. Our marriage ended as I realised I simply couldn’t stay with someone who treated me as if I was worthless. It was the first sign that I was starting to respect who I am, despite everything.

Life as a single mum with severe health issues and an autistic child was very tough and lonely. I fell into a deep depression. I felt fluey and weak all the time. I tried my very best for my son and was grateful for support from a very good social worker (yes, there are such things!) but my ex lacked empathy and understanding. He had our son at weekends but turned up and brought him back to his own timetable. He couldn’t see things from anyone else’s viewpoint.

To cut a long story short, my health got worse and worse, both physically and mentally. I was housebound. Carers came to take my son out to activities that I couldn’t manage. I tried to give my son a good life. On the few times I managed to take him out, such as for a meal, it was a disaster. He ran around the restaurant grabbing food off people’s plates as I desperately tried to control him. People looked at me as if I was scum. I went home crying my heart out. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I’d envisaged being the mother I’d never had and setting the boundaries I’d never experienced. An autistic child wasn’t part of the deal.

When my son was 10 I ended up in hospital with my POTS and from that point on my ex took over. And when I say took over, I mean took over. He dictated when I could have him and for how long, and as I was so unwell and completely within his control, I agreed to anything to see my son. Eventually he stopped me seeing him completely. It went to court and from 2015 onwards I began to see him at a set time at his mother’s house. Finally, for the first time in my life, I had some sense of peace. I could see him for a length of time I could manage, with the support of someone else, and away from dealing with my ex.

Now to the present day. After a brief period of my son coming to my home and myself trying to manage but realising for many reasons that it was not safe to do so, my son has been moved into accommodation with several other young autistic men who are supported to achieve the independence they can but with the aid of 24/7 carers. I can visit him without answering to anyone else. I do not see my ex anymore.

It has been a long hard road. I am still unwell but since 2015 my health has started to pick up. I am still picking up the pieces mentally as well. I drew on my spiritually for the many years I was caring for my son and sick, but I always hoped it would make things better, which it never did (false assumption on my part). However, it gave me strength and without it I know I would not have survived. I trusted that there was some purpose in my experiences even though I couldn’t understand it. I knew my son was teaching me so much about love and I knew that some day it would all make sense.

My life is peaceful now. I live alone, I am starting my own business, I am improving health-wise, I have good friends, my dog, and I have proper access to my son. But I am still sifting through my life and wondering what the hell happened and how I move forward. There has been SO much loss. But maybe it was to prepare me for the realisation that who I am is so, so much more than all of that and I cannot rely on external circumstances to provide the validation or love I crave.

I believe this part of my journey is about continuing to grieve the losses, especially of a family life, both as a child and a parent, because I wanted both so badly. But also to let go and surrender to the light of who I really am. I can’t bypass my pain or my life to date – nor should I want to – it all happened. My son is a beautiful soul who helped me trust in my own worth rather than relying on acknowledgment from him that I was doing okay.

Maybe my journey has always been about trust, no matter what is taken away. And that I’m strong and resilient. Despite everything I have myself, and my own love.

A dream of eternity

A dream I had last night reminded me most powerfully of the passage of time and the eternal nature of the soul. It showed me a beautiful stretch of countryside with a path where people walked, but as I watched, the scenery and people morphed into new versions of themselves; thick green countryside followed by more trees and cottages and then, finally, the entire landscape became a stretch of water, rather like a canal. I was a witness to this experience; not involved, but not impartial either.

I believe this was part of the same dream: At the the start, I saw hundreds of cats (yes, cats!) on a wall surrounded by a large stretch of water, I’m guessing an ocean, but I didn’t see it. Someone was trying to move the cats off the wall, presumably scared that they would be swallowed by the vast sea. I can’t remember what happened here or if they went, only this large selection of tabby cats gazing at me.

I believe all my dreams have symbolic meaning. I have studied them enough over the years to be sure of it. It also seems that the more I examine them, the more informative and useful they become. It’s as if my subconscious is saying ‘Okay Sarah, now you’re paying attention!’ So this one, like any other, holds an important message for me.

Clearly, I am witnessing change on an external level – the countryside, the people – all the while realising that the essence of all this isn’t going anywhere. Mankind has made its mark on this planet, for good and bad (mainly bad, perhaps), shown in my dream by the countryside slowly becoming more adapted by people, ending with the canal, which symbolises man’s emotional journey in this incarnation, one that is forged by him/herself and his ego development. By contrast, the ocean, the giver of life, represents the ultimate spiritual reality – our Divinity – which is perfect and awe inspiring and eternal.

And the cats? They symbolise my intuitive connection to my Divine self, which I both crave and resist due to its power. I know and sense I have greater capacity to connect to my true nature. I had Kundalini experiences over a decade ago after a period of intense meditation which blew me away and to be honest scared me as well. I wasn’t ready to receive them. I wish I had been, but it is what it is. I am ready now. I am opening myself up to whatever my Soul needs to hear and feel because I trust it will transform me. I fear being ‘swallowed up’ by the great ocean, but isn’t that just what we all fear on the level of the mind-based personality or ego? We may hold onto our separateness, our identity, because we fear we won’t be anything without them. Correction: the ego is nothing without them. Who we really are – a soul, a Divine spark – is so much more. Intuitively, I know that. Like the cats, I sit on the precipice, not wanting to listen to my rational mind and move away.

Such a beautiful dream that reminds me that while time passes , including the mind-based personality or ego structure, our Divinity does not. I am the Soul, the witness to it all.