Out with the old, in with the true ❤️

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It’s that time of year that I’m usually harping on about a detox, some kind of spring clean of the body and mind.

The liver needs extra support at this time of year, and it makes a lot more sense to have a cleanse now than in winter as we start to lighten up in every way.

This year my approach was a little different.

I’ve been moving house, that was a spring clean in itself. It’s amazing how much junk I’d collected over the past few years, and it’s been an utter joy clearing it out.

Between abodes, I decided to take a complete break, a pregnant pause, a week of clearing mental, physical and emotional clutter, and as usual, I had to challenge myself.

I’d been invited to take a hiking and wild camping holiday in Majorca, which entailed trekking up mountains with my entire body weight on my back. Throughout the whole experience, I wasn’t quite sure whether it was genius or madness. There’s a thin line between the two, and I was certainly walking that line.

“You have to climb the mountain to get the view”, I was telling myself, but it really wasn’t until I returned home that I really felt the effects.

It was the most of switched off from work in years, I woke up the first day after my trip and it felt like everything was brand new. Not only was it a warm Spring day with glorious sunshine, the first day of the Easter Bank Holiday, but I felt like I’d cleared out a load of the negative energy lurking from last year.

I was refreshed and renewed, it was the start of a new cycle, a new phase of my life, and as I moved into my new home, I felt I’d left a lot behind on that trip. Old fears, the voice in my head that told me I “wasn’t enough”, that I “wasn’t worth it”. (Did I ever actually listen to this stuff, I thought?).

The light streaming in through the windows was like pure magic.

Two days later and I was in the best state I could have been in for the event I was running, which was fortunate as I had over 150 people show up on the beach to do a yoga marathon with me for charity.

Later that day I cried. Tears of relief rolled down my cheeks as I thought to myself “I’ve done it. I made it. I’m back”. I’m stronger than before after the mass cleansing I went through.

My new approach to spring cleaning had worked. I’m brand new and ready for the next cycle. I feel good on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually – and it didn’t involve either dieting or giving up wine. Yay!

Back To Basics

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I’ve just returned from five nights away, unlplugging and recharging in nature, and I’m full of energy, vitality and even more love for our precious Earth.
I’d pretty much gone full digi-detox, only checking my phone for emergencies once a day, and it was such a relief. I’ve not switched off from work like that for years, and I know it did me the world of good.
Three of the five nights we spent away were wild camping, at different locations on the Serra Tramuntana, a mountain range on the west coast of Mallorca.
These were my favourite sleeps.
We’d find a spot to bed down for the night based on a few pre-determined criteria:
  • Must be able to pitch a tent, preferably soft terrain, to get pegs in and for physical comfort
  • Must be away from other people, where we wouldn’t be disturbed (or arrested as wild camping is “technically” illegal here)
  • Must have space to build a fire so we can cook our dinner and keep warm

 

There’s something so utterly beautiful about the simplicity of it all. Just focusing on survival and meeting the basic needs of food, warmth and shelter, using just what we have on our backs.
I’m not going to say it was easy. As my rucksack got heavier and heavier, and the terrain steeper and more rocky, there were times I thought my legs were going to buckle underneath all the weight.
Perhaps without all the red wine it may have been a little lighter, but what’s a campfire without some cheap Spanish vino tinto?
In hindsight I should have made a deal to carry the marshmallows if my travelling companion, who had obviously been a mountain goat in a past life, had carried the wine.
Next time…
Throughout the whole trip, which was just magical, I kept thinking how we just seemed to have complicated our lives so much. Going Back to Basics is a pleasure. The wild camping spots we found were better than any five star hotel I’ve stayed in.
Out here I didn’t need the gym, any meditation apps, no to-do lists, no social media, no entertainment systems or devices.
I missed my cat, that was it.
Again the words of one of my favourite songs was in my head:
“No guru, no method, no teacher. Just you and I in nature”.
Van Morrison.
Bliss. Enlightenment. Wellbeing. It’s more simple than we think. It’s just a case of going “Back to Basics”.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunshine and Rain

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Sunshine and Rain

Everything is so vibrant and colourful right now, isn’t it?

It’s like nature is showing off, saying “look at me!”, like the tutti-frutti of the seasons, it’s really coming into it’s own.

Even though I’ve just caught myself having a bit of a moan about getting wet and cold, I’m currently warming myself with a nice glass of red, considering the upside of the soaking I just endured on the way back from work.

If we didn’t have the rain, we wouldn’t have all that glorious green landscape – the plants, the wisteria coming into bloom, not to mention the plants that we rely on for food.

I’m always thanking Mother Earth for the sunshine, like when she perfectly times it for me to teach my classes outside. Yet I can’t remember the last time I thanked her for the rain.

As I wrote, I have the song lyrics in my head: “Joy and pain, like sunshine and rain”.

You see we are like plants, we need both sunshine and rain to survive.

So I realise I’m also always showing gratitude for the good times, the places, people and experiences that bring me happiness.

Yet I can’t recall ever having expressed thanks for the hard times, the tough life lessons, the people who caused me pain.

It seems fitting that Spring, a time of rebirth, feels the right time to say thanks for it all.

For it was in those tough times, when it felt like the world was a hostile place, when I was under attack, those were the times that shaped me.

I grew through the pain, I grew as a person. In trying to defend myself, in realising who I wasn’t, I grew stronger in who I was. I defined myself, and I feel both stronger, and also proud about the way I handled it.

I learned that was my my unique qualities (like a plant or a flower) made me the person I am.

I learned that we thrive in the right environment. I learned that the garden needs weeding before planting new bits and bobs. I learned that flowers don’t compete, they just bloom.

I learned that without the rain we wouldn’t feel the warmth of the sun. That if it we don’t feel the rain, or the pain, we don’t grow.

Most of all, I can tell myself that those who tried to bury me, did not know I was a seed.

So today, I am thankful for both the sunshine and the rain, the joy and the pain, for I am a creature of nature, and I needed both.

 

 

 

Being Normal

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When people ask me what I gave up for lent, it’s really simple, I gave up worrying what other people think.

How wonderfully liberating that feels!!

It started when I realised I had no desire to be considered “normal”.

I don’t even know what “normal” is, whether it exists, what it would look like. I don’t even know many people that are what would be regarded as normal. I can’t think of any of the top of my head.

What I do know is that if I switch on to any news of what’s happening in The House of Commons at the moment, I don’t really think I need to worry about being “normal”. Even the people (supposedly) running our country don’t seem to have their **** together.

If they’re just winging it from day to day, oscillating somewhere between chaos and confusion, what hope do the rest of us have?

My answer: maybe there is no way of making sense of the world, maybe there is no right way to live, no template for life. Maybe we’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

And what if that’s enough? What if we are enough, just the way we are? What if there is no “normal”, but we are all perfectly normal in our own unique and wonderful way?

I’ve long been referred to as “mad as a box of frogs”, but as someone said to me today whilst I was getting my Aura Transformation (you need to ask me about that, I can’t write it here… yet!)….

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”.

I recognised this instantly as Nietzsche, a favourite quote of mine, so it completely resonated.

When asked how I felt at the end of the session, I said “In this room, I feel normal”. I also felt filled with love, for all humankind, normal or not, and I realised I didn’t care so much what people thought of me, but I was going to continue to love with an open heart anyway.

I realised how I may be able to thrive and not just survive in this world. I think the trick is to care about everyone while not caring what they think.

While I’m writing this, my cat looks up at me, and I say “what???”.

He just looks at me with approval (this is a rare thing), as if to say “you might just be getting the hang of this”.

Who’d want to be normal anyway?

 

 

Thank You!! ❤️

 

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In amongst all the chaos and confusion in the world at the moment, there is also a great sense of community, kindness and collaboration.

Last night my poor little car pretty much blew up on the way to Powderham, and rather than thinking about the unfortunate consequences of its untimely death, my nerves were soothed by the way people came together to help me sort it out. It still brings a tear to my eyes when I think about it.

I feel such gratitude for the love and care that I received from those known as well as unknown to me.

It was around 6pm on my way to class and all of a sudden I was surrounded by smoke, and it sounded like the engine was running away from itself. Apparently it is actually called a runaway, and I was very lucky that the car didn’t catch fire, and although I wasn’t able to drive it, I still managed to get to the castle on time to take my class.

The spectacle of my car surrounded by a big ball of smoke stopped the road entirely. In shock, I had taken the keys out of the ignition and got myself out the car. I thought it was going to bang, so it felt like the right thing to do. The drivers of the two cars behind me both got out and waved me away from the car, and we all kept a distance. Both were confident and kind, around my age, maybe a little younger, one was from Bridge Motorcyles, that’s all I know. He rang the fire brigade while the other one tried to keep me calm.

Another chap coming the other way, he worked for the council I saw from his sweatshirt, stopped and came over to help as we could push the car off the road. The owners of Millfield Farm B and B came out to see if they could help, and before long I had a tribe of helpers. Then the fire service arrived, one of them an ex landlord of mine, whom I was reassured to see.

I’m looking around and I’m almost redundant as others are checking the car, arranging transport for me, offering reassurances and general all-round kindness, and I am overwhelmed. I’m taking to the chap from the council who has brought a piece of equipment from his van to make some checks (don’t ask me what it was, I was in a daze!).

“I can’t believe how helpful everyone is being”, I tell him.

“That’s what it’s all about”, he answers, “we help each other out”.

I nod, smiling. He is spot on. It is what it’s all about.

I had just earlier been writing about this subject, as I advertised the charity event I am doing on the beach on Earth Day.

More collaboration, communities working as one, people helping each other, as, after all ,we share the same Earth.

“We’re all in this together”, I had written, and as if by magic, I had just gained all the evidence I had needed to believe that I’m not alone in this thinking.

The next day, a Tuesday in the middle of the day, I have my tribe of friends all calling each other to make sure I am OK, it’s like my very own rescue team, and I feel blessed. Truly blessed. The car is dead, but it’s just a car. People and connections, love and kindness, these are the things that matter, and in amongst the chaos and confusion, all I feel is gratitude.

So although I didn’t get the names of everyone that helped that night on the road between Exminster and Kenton, if you do happen to be reading this, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Grassroots Kindness

 

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I have a lot to thank my great friend Derrick for. Not only did he keep me safe last year when I needed it most, he also provides many of the pearls of wisdom that help me write this column each week.

We’re having our end of week catch-up over a carafe of red wine at his fantastic local pub The Hourglass, and tonight he’s on particularly good form.

I’m telling him about the week I’ve had and all the glorious synchronicities I’ve experienced, discovering connections between people I knew, and also how utterly wonderful it is that we share a mutual good friend in Helen, his neighbour, who joins us later.

He doesn’t need to say much, he puts it simply:

“Good people eventually congregate together”.

I write this down immediately, I love it’s simplicity, and the week I’ve just had saw me meeting a lot of good people.

It started on Tuesday when I met an inspirational woman Sallie Rutledge, who runs The Mede in Topsham. What started out as providing a holiday home for those with loved ones living with Dementia, turned into a day care centre, with 20 staff helping in it’s running.

Sallie used her own resources to set this up, its a not-for-profit organisation, which only exists because Sallie is taking nothing for herself, and it’s been funded entirely by her and the work she does to raise funds with events like her Walk To Exmouth.

We’d not met before, but it turns out that some of these people who have helped in running of The Mede, are connections of mine, and I’m not surprised. This is a group of women I took to Croatia a couple of years ago on retreat, and they are some of the kindest women I know.

Later that week, I was at a coffee morning at the home of another of this group of friends. It was for Home Start Exeter and East Devon, a wonderful charity who help support local families in need. I’m running a charity yoga event for them on Easter Monday and it really is a pleasure to be there. I walk in and I must know half the room as many are yoga students of mine.

I didn’t even know they were connected to the host, but it doesn’t surprise me. They all share something in common, and that’s kindness and compassion, and commitment to causes which help those less fortunate.

I think how blessed I am to know them. I am in awe of how they take time in their busy lives to help support others. It’s happening everywhere. People like this seem to filling in the gaps which are left by a system that is failing us.

I read a quote from Benjamin Disraeli which was:

“Power has only one duty – to secure the welfare of the people”.

In so many ways, those in power do not seem to be doing this, and whilst unimaginable amounts of money and resources are being spent on the “B” word, people are struggling to survive.

Thank God for the good people that do care and their grassroots work that is so much needed.

Sharing the Light

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“Those who give light must endure burning”.

I didn’t expect my latest hero to be a Minister from the Church of Scotland, and I certainly didn’t expect him to be quoting Victor Frankl to me over a cup of tea and a sandwich at the Sliverknowes Golf Club in Edinburgh.

Yet this is what happened.

I’d travelled up for my dear Uncle Mitch’s funeral, and I found myself being really inspired by the minister’s words and chosen psalms throughout the service.

Ian Muir was no spring chicken, by his own admission, he must have been in his 70s, but I found him to be inspiring and we were totally on the same page. As we left the Crematorium, I thanked him for a beautiful service and he just smiled gratefully, although he did seem quite surprised too. I got the impression he wasn’t used to such gushing praise on an occasion like this.

When I found myself seated opposite him at the wake (this nearly always happens to me), we introduce ourselves, and he asks me what I do for a living.

“I’m a yoga teacher”, I say cautiously.

“This should be interesting”, I am thinking to myself, trying to gauge his response.

What ensues is the most hopeful, and reassuring conversation I’ve ever had with someone in the clergy.

In the distance I hear one of my family being asked if I’ll mind listening to what the Minister has to say.

“Im sure she’ll be holding her own”, is the answer, no doubt with a bit of eye-rolling.

It seems that we agree on pretty much everything, mostly that if we all started to focus more on what unites us rather than what divides us, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

What impresses me most is how open he is to hearing from others. He tells me he used to think he knew it all, but now he asks the question: “what can I learn from this person?”.

It seems they are more than open to change. We talk about the churches opening their doors to give the homeless a place to stay, and the realisation that true Christianity is taking action, reaching out into the community, rather than just preaching.

I tell him my reservations about Jesus, and the Bible, the distinction between fact and truth, and I have to admit, he may just have opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about the Son of God.

I tell him about my book “Slivers of Light” which I wrote last year, and that I wrote it when I had gone through my darkest times, but now I feel like I’ve been “awakened”. He nods knowingly, which is when he delivers the Victor Frankl line, and I want to kiss him.

That would have got the tongues wagging even more. It seemed we had quite the audience.

It turns out that it may not have been our first meeting. He ran the Sunday school at the church we would go to in Edinburgh every Easter with his wife, and in a beautiful twist of fate, it was Easter I thought of when we got the chance for silent “reflections” on our memories of Uncle Mitch during the service.

Mitchell was a passionate gardener, who loved nothing more than taking us to the Botanical Gardens where he used to work, so we could roll our painted Easter Eggs. I’m not sure if this is just a Scottish tradition, but I have fond memories of my Uncle’s enthusiasm, warm nature and endless good humour.

I make a commitment to myself that, in memory of Uncle Mitch and what I learned from Father Ian, I will roll my Easter eggs this year, and I’ll smile as I think of all that we have in common.