Being Me

“I love myself.”

Can you say this one thing?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately; wondering why it took me so many years to come to truly like myself and to love who I am.

JournalFor some reason turning forty in March was very significant for me! My dear friend gifted me a beautiful journal which I began writing in the following day. My first entry contained a list of 19 things I love about myself…AND it wasn’t at all hard to write it! I asked myself the question: “When would [writing] it have been a struggle for me?”

The first thing that came to mind was a time in my life when my eldest daughter was about 18 months to 2 years old. I was struggling hugely as a young wife and mother. I was feeling like I couldn’t do anything well. About that time I attended a young mum’s group and a wonderful woman came to speak to us and afterwards offered to meet with anyone who wanted to talk about stuff[!]. I took her up on this amazing offer. The first topic we looked at together: Self Acceptance.

Wow. It blows me away to realize just what a difference 11 years can make! I’ll be forever grateful that someone was there to get me started. Looking back on the years since then I am super grateful I had the courage to push into learning and growth and to learn from the dear ones who have come into my life for reasons and seasons. You see, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is this: We are damaged in relationship AND we heal in relationship.

I am currently continuing to heal in relationship with some very dear ones. I feel surrounded by love. I feel like I belong. Truly belong. I feel super happy to be me. Why? Not only do I love who I am but I am also feeling like I am finally living my purpose. How? I am both feeling loved AND I am making others feel dearly loved. I feel like I belong AND I am creating an environment where others feel they belong too. Somehow, in the process of the last 8 months I’ve come to know deeper down to the core of my being, finally, that it’s truly okay for me to be me. Imperfectly perfect. This deep down knowing feels extraordinarily wonderful!

What does this being comfortable to be authentically me actually look like? Well, for one I am no longer living with a constant inner critic berating me for saying this or that. No. Instead I know that in any moment I can trust that what I say is okay. Yes, it may challenge the other person, but if I also welcome their authentic self then they have the freedom to say what is true for them too. In so doing we co-create something beautiful!

My challenge to you, if you haven’t already – journal a list of what you love about yourself. What makes you you? One of my favourite things about me is my open-heartedness. I’d love to hear what you love about you!

Elizabeth

P.S. I can very highly recommend Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.

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Blooming Together

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“We are not meant to do hard things in isolation.” Elizabeth Johnsen

This is a realization that has dawned on me in the last few weeks as I’ve been living through another challenging situation.

By ‘another’, I am referring back to my mental illness this time two years ago. Last Wednesday was the two year anniversary of my being taken into hospital under police guard. Yup. Humanly speaking I really messed up back then! I ended up spending a month in hospital and seven weeks in total away from my three precious children. While I recovered fairly quickly from the manic episode, soon after moving back in with my children (my husband moved out on my request), the realities of my life caught up with me and I realized that I had lost almost everything that was important to me.

The love and security of marriage (I thought I wanted to get free of my marriage), my home of 35 years (New Zealand), my established friends in New Zealand, a relationship with my biological father (because of my words and actions in the course of my mental instability), financial security and more. I had thought I was surrounded by friends, and yes, I was, but not to a deep degree. There were wonderful people who were there for me in the ways they could and they helped me to get through that time, for sure. However, as I look back I realize that in comparison to the strength of my connections now, I was really quite isolated two years ago.

On the 28th March this year I recorded in my journal that I was noticing similarities with what happened 2 years ago. In the month that followed I gradually noticed more and more similarities and I became worried and sometimes fearful that I was going to have another episode. My sleep patterns also changed and while I tried so hard to counteract this by having lots of naps (and putting the need for them down to the fact that I am now 40 years old!) it still wasn’t enough. Enter a stressful situation on the 27th April and….

It was enough to push me over the edge into another psychotic episode. HOWEVER! This time most things were different! This time I called my husband Stuart and asked him to come home early. My amazing friend Chantal called Stuart too about what she was observing and he made an appointment at the local doctors surgery. My whole family gathered around me and went with me – which felt amazingly supportive. Yes, the next day I had to leave the comfort of my home and be taken to hospital by ambulance, but my husband had been there to observe my manic state and offer his support throughout.

Last time my family was fractured and separated. This time we are stronger together than we have ever been. Last time my children were at risk, this time I made sure they were safe. Last time I couldn’t get them to bed, this time I made sure they were tucked in for the night. Last time I left my house in a mess, this time it wasn’t too bad. Last time I felt incredibly confused and lost and alone. This time I started coming back to me within 48 hours of flipping out. And the very next day (Monday) I noticed with amazement that the journal entry I was writing was neat and made sense.

Last time I had people to connect to and to visit me, this time I had people telling me and showing me that they love me. I had 5-8 very special friends writing to me, phoning me and video calling with me – AND THIS WAS THE KEY to my speedy recovery! After putting the phone down after a call on the Monday or Tuesday I literally felt physical healing flooding my body! Amazing. So one thing I know for sure about myself is that I need deep and meaningful connections with a number of people in order to be truly mentally and emotionally healthy. I felt so surrounded by Divine love, so supported and held and provided for.

I continued to recover very quickly. The staff at RP Hospital were fantastic and I was there from Saturday to Thursday, then I was transferred to a hospital closer to my home, and the one I was at 2 years ago. I wasn’t even there 24 hours before I was allowed to go on leave for the long weekend. I returned on Tuesday last week to be discharged. The Dr was wonderful. He explained that while initially they were talking about bipolar, if it was I wouldn’t have recovered so quickly. He says instead they believe it was an acute stress reaction. Whatever it was, I am now pretty much back to myself,older and wiser and with even more understanding of myself.

Through my experiences since May 2016 I know that I need to honour my body’s needs AND I need to honour my soul’s deep need for connection. I was doing these two things very well this time round. I now know I need to add two other things to remain balanced. The first one is that it’s okay to ask for help with getting sleep. For now I’m taking a sedative and every night my sleep quality is improving. The second thing is that I need to trust that in doing the three things above I will remain healthy.

All in all, as I’m sure you can understand from above this recent experience has actually been incredibly healing for me but also for my family and my wonderful friend. I’m beyond grateful! And I’m also very aware that it gives me a unique opportunity to speak up for other mental health patients – because I have been there on the inside. In fact I met some amazing people there – there were about 5 of them that I felt were like sisters. They were each incredible in their own way. Courageous young women who are doing their best in the situations they’ve found themselves in. I honour them and I send them my love.

In closing I would like to encourage you to reach out to the empathetic people in your life and push a little deeper into heart-to-heart connections with them. If you are not sure what that looks like, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have. I look forward to hearing from you.

Living in the Present Moment

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My life is full of challenges at the moment. Here are a few:

  • Due to the situation surrounding my breakdown in May I am still separated from my three lovely children.
  • The above is also because I’ve chosen to separate from my husband of nearly 14 years. This is not a decision I’ve made lightly, in fact it has been excruciatingly difficult and the emotional stress this has caused contributed to my mental breakdown.
  • I’m living in a bedsit on my own. It’s lovely and light, but my children aren’t here and every time I spend time with them and then have to leave I find it really hard.
  • One of my children is particularly troubled by all that’s happening.
  • I have many hours to myself and when I don’t have much booked I’m find having so much free time can be lonely!

I’m managing fairly well by learning to truly live in the present. A friend of mine recently posted this quote and it’s really stayed with me.

7012f24f9828f81e813341418dbd2a80I am learning that I can be at peace in every moment even in the midst of all the hard. I have an underlying peace and knowing that I am enough, I am loved and I am and will continue to be okay.

This way of living in the present moment is truly amazing. If I feel upset, or angry, or sad, or joyful, or frustrated…whatever I’m feeling I know it’ll pass. It’s okay and very healthy to be feeling these emotions considering all that is happening. Sometimes I need extra help to get in touch with these emotions and so I’m grateful for my relationship with my therapist, in particular.

I’m also very grateful for friends who are choosing to be available to me during this time. The majority of these are local and fairly new friends seeing we only moved to the UK 10 months ago. I’m amazed and blessed. I make sure I reach out and ask for contact as I know that I will get through this season much better with their support.

One revelation that has been really consolidated through my breakdown experience has been The Power of this Present Moment. If we really slow down we will realize that in each moment we have everything we need. In this moment, even though I may not feel it, I have everything I need.

I have everything I need within me. You have everything you need within you. We don’t need to go looking outside of ourselves for validation and proof of our worth and value. We are enough and valuable just because we breathe.

Relationship breakdowns don’t mean that there is something defective within us. I have said I cannot stay married, but this doesn’t mean that I am a failure. In fact, as I’m learning, being able to say that I choose not to continue being in a relationship that does not nurture my soul is actually a sign of courage. It takes courage to be honest and say when a relationship isn’t working. It takes courage to leave.

I’m not even sure if my ramblings in this post make a complete post, but I offer it up in hopes that it’ll touch someone out there. I know I am far from the only one going through this brand of hard. And so, dear reader, if you can relate and are going through something similar know that you are not alone. Reach out if you like as I’d love to hear from you. I may be a blogger, but my life is far from perfect right now.

I take heart knowing that it will get better.

Love and blessings,

Elizabeth

P.S. I have a small but growing group of women in a closed FB group where I am trying to post most days. If you’d like to come and check it out and it resonates with you I’d love to have you join.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1082731435124092/

On Magic

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I’m experiencing magic every day! I’m living a magical life. Two months ago I only dreamed that this way of living was possible. I’ve caught glimpses of it for years, had a knowing it was available, but didn’t know how to get here.

I’m still so amazed and in the process of discovering who this me is, this real me that I’ve always been. From my understanding of my process I can see that we have an eternal part of us that is perfect, bright, shining, incredible. But when we come into this world we are born into our parent’s stories. Often they have not worked through their life stories to a place of acceptance and understanding and so we endure a lot of rubbish, untrue messages and conditioning that puts a block around our brightness and leaves us confused, sad, doubting and stuck.

Until we start waking up. And then we start to realize that it doesn’t have to be this way! We start questioning everything we have learned and start looking for answers that feel good to us. We start dismantling the old stories and truths that we were surrounded by as children and often have stayed with us long into adulthood. We start setting boundaries with family-of-origin. We start reaching out to other people for support and help. We start investing in ourselves and our own growth. We start prioritizing ourselves.

AND. EVERY. STEP. COUNTS.

Every SINGLE step.

Little things matter:

  • Like taking panadol and water for a tension headache.
  • Buying pretty nightwear.
  • Creating a space in our homes that is all our own.
  • Taking a walk out in nature…listening to the call of our souls to breathe.
  • Taking time just to stop…and breathe.

It’s really okay to start listening to our own emotions/feelings instead of constantly worrying and taking care of others’ emotions. We matter. We really, really do.

What is your soul crying out for? Can you hear it? Can you feel it? Our emotions are the language of the soul. What are your emotions telling you?

  • Feeling resentful inside towards someone likely means you are giving too much to them. Perhaps a boundary is necessary?
  • Feeling suffocated and under a heavy cloud likely means you need personal space to rediscover you.
  • Feeling bored in a relationship could mean you aren’t able to safely express your anger. Finding somewhere you can unpack it would be healthy.
  • Feeling sadness can be about letting go of people or situations that no longer serve you. When we move through stages of our growth we end up having to leave some people behind. It can be really painful. Allow yourself to grieve the loss. Sit with it for a while.
  • Feeling anger can be about not feeling like we have choices or that choices have been taken out of our hands. Letting that anger out in a safe way is very important! Reaching out for support in this process is key, initially. When we let it out, we can then move through to realizing that we do have choices. We can choose to accept the situation or we can choose to change it.

Getting CURIOUS about our feelings, without judgment, can start to revel some very interesting things! Learning to give all our emotions space (joy and love are important too!) and feel what we feel can start us on a wonderful journey of rediscovering who we really are and even discovering heaven on earth.

Magic is real! You’ll find it within you!

Love and Blessings,

Elizabeth

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Splashes of Delight

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Have you noticed that when on a journey of growing awareness many of us begin to realize we are all interconnected…like waves of the ocean are connected?

On early morning walks I’m finding myself mesmerized by the way waves coming in meet waves returning from the promenade. There is a splash of delight! A meeting, a jump of joyousness, excitement. That makes sense! Waves transmit energy!

Much like what I hear when listening to two women on interconnecting journeys as they talk excitedly via podcast about what they have been discovering. It’s what I feel when something resonates with me in a book or blog post, or when I’m talking with another woman and we discover a mutual understanding of each others’ experiences. Splashes of delight, exchanges of energy…at soul level.

Am I making sense? I’ll take it further. I also feel these moments of ecstasy when I see another sign that something big is unfolding in my life. I was at a writing workshop recently where I was directed to choose an object and two postcards for three different writing activities. Each time I was drawn to brightness. A bright yellow bath-toy duckling, a bright flower, a lamp shining in the darkness. I observed this brightness theme with curiosity. An inner knowing grew stronger that day – there is a great brightness within me that is strong and glowing, but this brightness has been covered over with the rubbish and criticisms from others’ pain and dysfunction. This has become my inner critic which has been saying for years that I can’t trust my intuition, this brightness, my connection to the divine – that I need to hide it or it’ll hurt people or seem arrogant or not be good enough.

This awakening has been continuing and again a week later on my counselling course this concept came up: the bright sparkly part of me was ridiculed and stamped on by people in my early years. Now that I can see this more clearly I know I do not want it to continue. With help from others I am re-writing these old stories and learning to trust my inner knowing.

We all have bright, sparkly parts which we’ve perhaps even forgotten are there because they’ve been buried so deep by pain, rejection, lies and misunderstanding. The amazing thing is we can share with each other what we are learning on our individual journeys. What one person bravely shares can spark another person’s epiphany. We can encourage each other as we move towards greater understanding and boldly living our brightness.

I’ve been following Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook since reading Big Magic last year. Recently she linked to Carrie Hilgert who is another amazing woman daring to uncover her brightness and share her gifts with the world. Last week she posted her star sign artwork and I looked through them to see which image drew me in. This one did – can you see the lighted match at her centre?

I’ve only recently allowed myself to be curious about star signs (it was a no-no in my Christian upbringing) and so I had to go looking to see what my sign is. Bingo, I am an Aries. Emotion flooded me…here was another sign that I’m on the right path…that I’m connected to something much bigger than me. It was another splash of delight, an exchange of energy!

How about you? Are you in touch with your inner brightness, your soul, your unique gifts? Do you live from a place of peace and inner confidence? There is so much to learn around all this but for now I’m so glad you’ve found my online space. I’d love to have you share one of your moments of delight! What is opening up for you, lovely reader?

 

Blessings!

Elizabeth

 

A Secure Base + Alignment

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I woke early on Sunday morning and while trying to quietly check messages on my phone I mistakenly pushed replay on a cute little video. Oops, the sound came on! I quickly shut it off hoping it hadn’t disturbed my sleeping husband and shortly afterwards my seven year old tentatively pushed open the door. “Oh, good you are awake!” he whispered as I beckoned him in.

We snuggled together for a while and then I suggested we go for a walk. We live in a lovely little coastal town and as we headed towards the sea I was wondering how to get the refreshment I needed while also enjoying the 1:1 time with my boy. It wasn’t long before he asked if he could go along a grassy bank while I walked along the promenade. I encouraged this and it was lovely to watch him checking in every now and then by making eye contact and waving. I also watched him walk calmly past a dog on a lead (he’s had great paranoia around dogs) and then proudly make the thumbs up sign to me at the exact moment I was giving him thumbs up, acknowledging his bravery. Special moment.

As we continued our walk he became more and more adventurous and while he was off I had time to reflect and breathe – my blissful happy place. There were a couple of moments of slight anxiety on my part but he followed directions beautifully and met me again twice, exactly where I had directed. Both of us have grown in confidence through this and we arrived home happy in our shared experience, but also refreshed from our times alone.

I’m loving the lesson this has given me in letting go of the pressure I’ve had on myself to be an ever-present mother. Not only did my soul receive much-needed refreshment during my walk, but my son also made progress on his own journey to greater independence.

I’ve been learning about the concept of a Secure Base recently and here is an excerpt from John Bowlby’s book, A Secure Base:

This brings me to a central feature of my concept of parenting – the provision by both parents of a secure base from which a child or an adolescent can make sorties into the outside world and to which he can return knowing for sure that he will be welcomed when he gets there, nourished physically and emotionally, comforted if distressed, reassured if frightened. John Bowlby, A Secure Base p12

I love that this is what I was able to offer my boy this morning…the opportunity to “make sorties into the outside world”. It’s made me realize how valuable my process of letting go is going to be for my children as well. As I focus on providing a secure base for them I can also encourage more independence, which will in turn give me more time to be me…without guilt!

In my last post I wrote about having a supportive environment for myself . It is contributing hugely to my growth process at the moment. I didn’t have a secure base growing up; my home life was challenging and not a safe place for me emotionally. I have struggled for years, mainly on my own, to understand my past in order to enjoy life now. I’ve loved offering emotional support to many along my journey as I’ve shared what I’ve been learning, but to finally have this kind of support for myself…it’s is an incredible gift.

What if we didn’t have to struggle alone? What if we were able to find a secure base from which we could venture out into the world, knowing that we had a supportive environment to return to or someone in our corner to connect with? What if, when we realized a lack, we actively sought this out for ourselves?

When I think about my process to finding the support I have now I realize that it’s been intuition + action that = the alignment I’m feeling. Rian Kerfoot has been writing about this in her Facebook group, Own Your Magic. She is one of the wonderful women that has been a shining light on my recent journey. Megan Hale, my Enoughness Coach, is another amazing influence. I love looking back at the way I was led to her work at just the right time for me. I could say that it began with reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic last year, which led me to be brave and start this blog, which led me to Rian’s blog, which led me to Megan…but I’m sure that there were plenty of intuition+action=alignment points well before then.

Intuition + Action = Alignment

All this to say, follow the signs that are showing up in your life! Read that book, write that post, watch that Ted Talk, connect with that person. As you follow the promptings of your inner knowing I’m absolutely sure you’ll be led on a journey that will rock your world and set your soul on fire!

From my heart to yours,

Elizabeth

Singing Our Own Song

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I am sitting at my little desk with a new song in my heart. I am on an incredible journey at the moment; one of change and growth. Yes, I know I’m always writing about that(!), but this is even more so. As well as my Counselling Course and required therapy I have also signed up with an Enoughness Coach for March and April. I’m only ten days in but already I have received so much clarity and support.

In my last post I wrote about curiosity. One of the things I’ve been really noticing lately is the robins that are appearing on my nature walks. I got curious enough about this that I looked up what they might be saying to me.

He [Robin] signifies stimulation of new growth and renewal in many areas of life. He teaches that any changes can be made with joy, laughter and a song in your heart. Robin shows you how to ride the winds of passion within your heart and become independent and self reliant through this change. Robin will teach you how to move forward with grace, tenacity, perseverance and assertion. Are you letting go of personal dramas? Ones that no longer serve your higher purpose? Are you exercising compassion and patience in mental, spiritual and emotional areas? Robin will teach how to incorporate new beginnings with faith and trust in the process. It is time to believe in yourself and use the inspiration that is given. Listen carefully. It is time to sing your own song for a new period in your life. Source

What does it mean to sing our own songs? This week I’m realizing I’ve never before truly prioritized getting to know myself. And now that I know I can I’m craving lots of time to do so! I’m talking walks, journaling and digging deep. I’m realizing that it’s okay not to devote 100% of my time to my family, which to me has meant being on-call 24/7 if I’m home. I’ve had fears around not wanting to damage my children emotionally…but now see that not being there all the time doesn’t mean I will. What interests me is that I have known this for more than a few years in my head…or I’ve known it in my heart but it hasn’t translated in how I act.

I’m learning that this is because of old stories: as a child I learned how to live life as my mother dictated, as a Christian wife I prioritized pleasing my husband, as a mum I’ve poured myself out for my children, often running on empty. Now, at nearly thirty-eight, I’m in a place to really learn what my song is and I’m looking forward to fully knowing both the words and music. This feels exciting, amazing and like treasure to be uncovered. I am moving forward in faith and trust in the process and knowing that I have great support around me. And of course not forgetting that this will be a forever process as there is always more to learn!

Have you already discovered your song or are you still singing someone else’s tune? Get curious! Do you have support? Yes? I’m so glad. No? I’m here if you want to reach out via my contact page,  I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings!

Elizabeth