Monday, February 25, 2013


I have long been an anxious sort of person, a worrier.  And I constantly project into the future what current options or choices might pan out to be, weighing up consequences.  

My fantasies can go two ways: the first are really excellent outcomes (like any perfectionist would) and then I land up feeling really burdened by the level of expectation I have set as a sort-of 'goal' and really all it is is a movie in my head, flashes going off as the paparazzi throw questions at me, the famous, well-loved expert in her field, celebrated by all humanity for her pure awesomeness.  No pressure.  

And the second, I like to call the Downward-Spiral or as most people call it : Worst-Case Scenario.  Here, the fantasy is a whole bunch of "what-if's" and general doom and gloom.  A bit Eeyeore-ish (you know, the very down donkey from Winnie-the-Pooh). 

I have recently discovered a very real benefit or antidote to Downward-Spiral and to Awesome Celebrity.  It is not a one-dose pill but is needed more regularly like a homeopathic remedy to a chronic disorder - effective over time.  And it is this:  a positive affirmation to reprogram my neural pathway to build a new belief system based on abundance. I use this one but please feel free to change it and make one to suit yourself:

I am an abundant being
Living in an abundant world
All that I need and want for my highest good
Comes to be abundantly and generously with love and grace
And I gratefully receive it
And gracefully accept it
So be it
And so it is

I think that "lack" mentality, glass-half-empty syndrome is a basic human condition.  We are physical beings competing with others for limited resources within a limited period of time and then we all die. And so we are  naturally conditioned to store food for winter months and save towards a pension for one day when we stop working.  Life is full of endings and new beginnings.  We have witnessed this for eons in the death of animals and the cycle of growth in crops and vegetation.  We witness our parents grow old, pets dying and toys lost.  Everything comes to an end sometime.  "There is not enough" is in our cells.

Another basic belief is : "I am not enough" and "I am not good enough".  We aren't born like this but develop this very unhelpful belief over time each time we see ourselves failing at something or being judged or rejected by another.  Non-acceptance.

When we connect with a greater sense of ourselves, outside of the paradigm where we identify ourselves as just our bodies, we shift our perspective of ourselves and our worlds.  We are so much more than our physical selves.  Yes, the body is a miracle in itself.  But so is the rest of us.  The mind, the heart and the soul.  If we connect to all parts of ourselves, we come to a place of deep peace and expansiveness that goes beyond the limits of our physicality and creates a world of miracles.

Each of us will find different pathways to access this sense of ourselves.  Some people use their religions, communities, jobs, families and more.  I get it from daily practice of things that support me and give me groundedness, expansiveness and connectedness with all parts of me.  One of my daily practices is affirming abundance in my life. It just simply works for me.  It calms me and expands my sense of self.  It pulls down the rose tinted glasses that sit on top of my head and brings them to sit over my eyes, changing my view of the world from one of destitution, brutality and limits to pure potential, abundance and contentment.  "I am enough",  "There is enough" and "I am good enough" are fully believable.  Everything is as it should be.  Rosy.

Another practice that feeds abundance is gratitude.  Daily journalling can end in a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life.  Or say them to your spouse as you climb into bed at night...3 things you are grateful for that day.  It is highly effective and puts the rose tinted glasses firmly on the bridge of your nose, allowing you to see the abundance and blessings in your life.

Remember, these thoughts are like a chronic illness - we need to take regular doses of abundance and gratitude for this antidote to work. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Five Love Languages


Dr Gary Chapman is the amazing author of The Five Languages of Love, an international bestseller that describes the different ways in which people love and feel loved.  Often couples do not speak the same language and so both parties rattle around feeling unloved or demonstrate love in their love language but not their partners and feel very confused when their partner says "You don't love me anymore".  This is true also for other relationships such as parent-child relationships and friendships.

He says there are 5 ways in which we can feel loved and demonstrate love to another.  We have aspects of all 5 languages in us but if our primary and secondary love language requirements are met, then our inner Love Tank is full and life feels good.  And I am all about feeling good this year!

So the 5 languages are:

1.  Words of Affirmation eg Thank you for that lovely dinner. I love the way you take care of the kids.  You do a wonderful job.
2. Acts of Service eg washing the dishes, taking out the rubbish, useful practical helpful acts
3. Receiving Gifts eg thoughtful wrapped presents
4. Quality Time eg date situation where you have your others' undivided attention, a walk, chat with eye contact
5. Touch eg massage, hug, foot rub, fingers through the hair, affection, sex

But, please, read more on his official website and take advantage of his free workbooks. The Five Languages of Love Website

I taught these concepts to a 9-year-old girl who was then able to figure out that her family loved her in their own languages.  She put together a presentation on PowerPoint after that and taught her family how to show her love in her own language!!  They were blown away.  And this concept, along with Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis model of communication, she was better able to communicate her needs effectively to her family.  

Transactional Analysis reminds us that the most effective way to communicate with anyone, is from your adult self, the responsible part of you that is open and willing to compromise where necessary and appeals to the adult nature of the other party.  When we feel the victim of our circumstances, we are in child mode and when we are criticizing the other party, we are in parent mode.  We can often move seamlessly from child to parent many times in one conversation as the parent brings the child out in the other party and the child brings out the parent in the other.  Interesting.  And very effective.  This model helps us to build self-awareness and often we become aware of these traits in our partners or children first before we become aware of it in ourselves.  After all, its much easier to blame someone else for your miseries, rather than take responsibility for them yourself!!  I know, I do it all the time!

But this little girl took these rather adult concepts and ran with them.  So if she can improve her relationships at such a young age I am sure we can too.

Take the test and find our which is your love language and the love language of the significant others in your families.  Teach people how to love you.  Here are the links:

One of Dr Phil's 10 Top Ten Life Laws is this: "Life Law #8: We teach people how to treat us.

Strategy: Own, rather than complain about, how people treat you. Learn to renegotiate your relationships to have what you want.

You either teach people to treat you with dignity and respect, or you don't. This means you are partly responsible for the mistreatment that you get at the hands of someone else. You shape others' behavior when you teach them what they can get away with and what they cannot.

If the people in your life treat you in an undesirable way, figure out what you are doing to reinforce, elicit or allow that treatment. Identify the payoffs you may be giving someone in response to any negative behavior. For example, when people are aggressive, bossy or controlling " and then get their way " you have rewarded them for unacceptable behavior. 

Because you are accountable, you can declare the relationship "reopened for negotiation" at any time you choose, and for as long as you choose. Even a pattern of relating that is 30 years old can be redefined. Before you reopen the negotiation, you must commit to do so from a position of strength and power, not fear and self-doubt."  Dr Phil's Link

So take the test today and see what you can do to improve your relationships and fill your love tank at the same time! And as Dr Gary Chapman says: "When we feel loved by people significant to us, life is beautiful."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Life is about feeling good!

The more I do this kind of work, the more I realise that Life is about how you feel whilst doing everything else.  This emotional subtext is actually the star of the show, not some understudy waiting for its moment in the spotlight.  It IS what is important.

All other actions are a means to feeling better; all other possessions are tools to get us feeling better... feeling good about ourselves and our lives.  Even religion doesn't escape this model.  All religions are the bodies or structures that is the road to our journey of feeling good...loved, heard, satisfied, fulfilled, happy, joyful, stimulated, peaceful, etc.

Our bodies are the same : they are the vehicle in which we ride on our journey of experiencing "feeling good".  The mystery surrounding religion, and even the workings of our bodies is secondary to the WONDER, the MIRACLE of feeling good.  THAT  is the great mystery of life : how to...feel good.

I feel like this bit of clarity unlocks a lot of pockets of suffering for me.  STRUGGLE.  I am done with struggle.  I want to feel good! That is where my attention will be.  And I am not talking about superficial feelings of goodness!  I have tried and tested the road of "good girl", religious girl, spiritual girl, thin girl, beautiful girl, clever girl, demure socially-acceptable girl, top-of-the-class girl, let-me-please-you girl, let-me-give-you-more-than-I-give-myself girl.  I am done.  Those roads are short-term highs and feeling good this way is fleeting and the high is never as good as the first time, anyway.  These are drugs offered to us by society to seduce us off the real road, the True Path of truly feeling good.

I am talking about really feeling good, where your body, mind, heart and soul vibrates with joy, peace, a sense of connectedness with all beings, a deep groundedness in Life, an channeling of happiness and creativity this IS the God we all speak of in our Holy Books.  This is what the Books point towards: a path to feeling good, but we are seduced by the rules, by being good and not feeling good.  There is the temptation to worship the words instead of honoring the feeling of God or feeling good.

So how do I do this?  What does it look like in my life?  There is no simple answer to fit every miraculous being, I think. You need to inquire what it is for you.  For me, it involves daily practice of connecting with my true nature, to God energy and expressing and communing here a little each day.  What does that mean exactly I hear you ask?  It looks like sitting and breathing for a while, in meditation and prayer; it means daily journalling or writing; it involves yoga and walking; and regular therapy or energy sessions; and of course, group work or circles of wonderful supportive friends. And then the deal-breaker: doing what you are good at doing...what feels good.  That is creating, painting, and this work, the work of a life coach and energy therapist.  It's what worked for me on my road to recovery and I want to offer that to others from an authentic, open and truthful place, a place that really feels good!

A meditation on Meditation

"See if you can catch yourself complaining in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. 

To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness."

-- Eckhart Tolle

“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” 
 Eckhart Tolle

Meister Tolle, author of A New Earth, The Power of Now and Stillness Speaks continues to inspire and centre me.  He is like a voice directly from the heavens, reminding me to stay present and feel the beauty of this life.

Another source of inspiration who resonates on the same plane as our man above is Sue Cooper, a psychologist from Cape Town who taught me how to meditate, really understand and feel what if feels like to  "just sit and just breathe" and allow the feelings of the present moment, without stories attached, to be felt.  That is acceptance of the present moment.  That is an open heart.  That is beauty, peace, love....felt. That is true self acceptance.  Not a concept that my brain understands but one felt in my heart, in my body, in my soul.  Really real.

"Sue Cooper is a Clinical Psychologist with 20 years of experience as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in Cape Town. She integrates psychotherapy and meditation in her 9-week Open the Heart and Still the Mind Courses and Retreats, combining her long-standing commitment to both psychological and spiritual approaches to self-discovery and inner healing. Sue has attended Buddhist meditation retreats for almost 30 years in both South Africa and UK." BRC pamphlet or check out their website :  Link to Buddhist Retreat Centre, Ixopo

I attended her silent retreat at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo in Natal as Cape Town is a little far for me and what a privilege to learn from Sue.  I highly recommend learning how to sit still and accept each moment under her tutelage.  But if you don't, then find someone or buy tapes or just sit and just breathe ... for a while each day. 

The 2 most important things I learnt from Sue:

Firstly, "just breathing in, just breathing out" as you breathe in and out, allowing yourself to drop the story associated with any thoughts coming into your head and allowing yourself to feel whatever emotion arises without attaching it to a story.  For example, when I felt sad, my initial response was to attach a story to the emotion and think: "oh, that must be sad because I am missing my son and I don't want him to go to boarding school and suffer like I suffered."  Instead, I went back to breathing in and breathing out, saying the words in my head, and really allowed myself to feel what I was feeling, instead of occupying myself with other thoughts or, my personal favourite, intellectualizing my emotions, like this: "oh, my sadness must be connected to depression or fear of being separated from my family as a child when I was sent to boarding school and now these feelings are returning as my son goes to boarding school.  That makes sense. I really must deal with these emotions when I have some time. Right now I must really concentrate on thinking nothing.  Oh, I am useless at meditating. I can never empty my brain. Its impossible." Etc, etc, etc.  And the monkey chatters on, distracting me from feeling any scary or uncomfortable emotion that just needs a little attention, so it can be felt and transformed, like a small miracle.  It is really that simple.  Yet the monkey mind chatters on in fear.  And the breathing in and the breathing out brings us back to our bodies, sitting in a room where boarding schools are far away and the past no longer no longer exists.

Sue Cooper read these quotes to us whilst we were meditating, just to remind us what we were doing. They are worth their weight as keys to unlocking understanding.

"Many of the great sorrows of the world arise when the mind is disconnected from the heart.  In meditation we reconnect with our heart and discover an inner sense of spaciousness, unity, and compassion underneath all the conflicts of thought.  The heart allows for the stories and ideas, the fantasies and fears of the mind without believing in them, without having to follow them or having to fulfill them.  When we touch beneath all the busyness of thought, we discover a sweet, healing silence, an inherent peacefulness in each of us, a goodness of heart, strength  and wholeness that is our birthright.  This basic goodness is sometimes called our original nature, or Buddha nature.  When we return to our original nature, when we see all the ways of the mind and yet rest in this peace and goodness, we discover the healing of the mind." A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield, pp 50 - 51

"A path of genuine awakening is a path of growing increasingly alive and aware of our emotions.  As we learn to release the stories, interpretations and resistance that camouflage our emotional life, our emotions become more accessible an simple - fear is just fear, loneliness just loneliness, anger just anger, joy just joy - thus inviting exploration and understanding.  Waves of feelings are no longer frozen by our attempts to define them - they arise and ebb away.  We learn to find refuge in stillness and calm.  Diving more and more deeply into stillness, there are times when deeply buried emotional wounds and memories arise; we learn to receive them and find freedom within them." The Buddhist Path to Simplicity, Christina Feldman, pp 120

Secondly, her particular twist on the Loving Kindness Meditation which goes like this:

May I be well and at ease
May I be peaceful and calm
May I live with an Open Heart
Filled with Loving Kindness and compassion,
Courage and Trust

May All Beings be well and at ease
May All Beings be peaceful and calm
May All Beings live with an Open Heart
Filled with Loving Kindness and compassion,
Courage and Trust

Or think of someone specific that needs love or attention and say their name in place of "I" or "All Beings".  This really expands the heart which is felt as a huge sense of well-being or that everything is well in the world.

 The positive benefits of meditation are well documented in scientific research. A study done in November 2012 reported in the Harvard Gazette (Harvard Gazette Link) says "a new study has found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating...meditation can improve emotional stability and response to stress....decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself. Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”

Another reports says: "But in this study, the researchers weren’t just asking the participants how they felt. They were examining their brains, two weeks before and right after the eight-week program. Over the same period, they also scanned the brains of people who didn’t receive the MBSR training.
The MBSR participants, none of whom were experienced meditators, reported spending just under half an hour per day on their meditation “homework.” Yet when their brains were scanned at the end of the program, their gray matter was significantly thicker in several regions than it was before.
Brain scans of the hippocampus, showing the regions the researchers determined were affected by meditation.Brain scans of the hippocampus, showing the regions the researchers determined were affected by meditation.Image adapted from B. Hölzel, et al., Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging Vol. 191 (1), January 30, 2011, pp. 36-43.
One of those regions was the hippocampus, which prior research has found to be involved in learning, memory, and the regulation of our emotions. The gray matter of the hippocampus is often reduced in people who suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The researchers also found denser gray matter in the temporo-perietal junction and the posterior cingulated cortex of the meditators’ brains—regions involved in empathy and taking the perspective of someone else—and in the cerebellum, which has been linked to emotion regulation. " Berkeley Article Link
This reminds me of that famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke: 

“Magic's just science that we don't understand yet.”
So this is very apt.  A few years ago, meditation was for hippies and airheads.  Now science is getting serious about understanding the effects of wha-wha-woo-woo on us in the real world in a real way.  These digital images of the brain are physical evidence, not just a compilation of feedback from a pool of people, but actual body/brain growth.  So if your brain has not followed the heart's longing for meditation yet, here is some proof.
The benefit for me is acceptance of the moment which is the same as acceptance of the self in my experience.  The two are not separate.

A Poem, An Inspiration

Words For It

I wish I could take language
And fold it like cool, moist rags.
I would lay words on your forehead.
I would wrap words on your wrists.
"There, there," my words would say -
Or something better.
I would ask them to murmur
"Hush" and "Shh, shhh, it's all right."
I would ask them to hold you all night.
I wish I could take language
And daub and soothe and cool
Where fever blisters and burns,
Where fever turns yourself against you.
I wish I could take language
And heal the words that were the wounds
You have no names for.

Julia Cameron (author of The Artist's Way)

This was the inspirational end to my long journey through The Artist's Way, a twelve week program a group of us took 12 months to complete.  It feels good to finish something, although the lessons will continue....morning pages, artist's dates and the mind-set of the softer, gentler, kinder artist within me.   The blurb on the back cover says: " The Artist's Way helps demystify the creative process by making it part of your daily life.  It tackles your self-doubts, self-criticism and worries about time, money and the support to pursue your creative dream.  It has already helped thousands of people to uncover their hidden talents - it can help you too."

Do not be fooled by the consistent use of the word "artist", as I believe we are all creative beings and I substituted it to mean me as a human being, creating my life like my life is the greatest creative act that I could ever endeavor to undertake.

What have I gained as a result, you may ask?  Nope, not paintings.  Although one of our group members has unleashed a very productive artiste, in the traditional sense of the word, painting, drawing and pottering up a storm in her studio.  So there is that side of things.  But for me it was (to quote my morning pages or daily journal entry): "challenging, with slow steady growth and change.  I think the main victory for me was a growth in self-acceptance which translates directly to self-love for me.  This has been the most profound change...the small kindnesses, the gentleness, the support I have offered myself...It has been a miracle of love and support.  I feel like a fuller, softer, fluffed-up version of myself, not so anxious, willing to do things for me that are nurturing, interesting and loving TO ME.  I have a new sense of deserved-ness that was missing before and good things came into my life."  My home is also spick and span, junk is chucked out, plants are re-potted, shelves dusted, finances in order, technology is working for me, dust-balls are banished.  I feel cleaner and lighter and more receptive and appreciative of my environment and talent and inspiration around me.  The world looks fresh and my eyes are sparkling with appreciation and hope.  Life is good.

It is good because this process has taught me to do daily practice.  A daily practice of things that support my well-being and sense of joy in life.  As a person who had (and still flies there occasionally) depression, this is an important focus in my life.  I am in recovery.  I am growing towards joy.  And this book was a big part of colouring my life brighter.  And empowering me to wield the crayons to do it, instead of relying on others to do it for me.  It is a miracle.  A small miracle.

And now I share the process with others so if you are interested in joining our little group so that you may grow and be inspired and improve your life as I have mine, then let me know.  Hear what Julia has to say herself:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Intouchables

Oh my Gosh!  I just watched the trailer for this movie and I think it is a MUST-see!  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Conscious choices for cheerleaders and street-sweepers alike : a gentle approach

I want to add some additional thoughts to my previous article on Cheerleader or Street- Sweeper?( Follow link here:

When a child is born to you, the Street-Sweeper seems the obvious choice when nappies need changing and babies need feeding. You do all this out of love and the need for peace and sleep (lets be honest here).  So street sweeping is rewarded and naturally reinforced behaviour.

When they reach their milestones, we naturally cheer them on and clap as they make their first steps.  Predominantly though, its street sweeping in the beginning but as they get older and more capable, the street-sweeping hinders their development and confidence and a transition is required over a period of time to cheerleading if the child is at all allowed to grow and mature into a balanced, responsible, expressive, happy adult we all wish our children would turn out to be.

When do we make this transition? I don't know for sure but I think its something to be aware of right from the beginning.  A conscious choice to wait a beat or two before stepping in to help.  After all, that's how sleep training is done. So its a slow transference of responsibility where eventually you are rendered unneeded, useless.  And therein lies the rub: 12 years down the line, we ask ourselves "Who am I if I am not fully occupied with the needs of another?" and we all feel the pull to doggedly continue sweeping the streets clean, unchanged in a changing world. Cue: teenage eyeroll at yet another thing we do as mothers that our beloved really appreciated and now grits his teeth at.

So the key here is conscious choice. Little Me is present in an automatic response to a challenge whereas Big Me, Great Me is consciously accessed.  So wait a beat or two when faced with a hardship or new situation and access Great Me more often.  Great Me will recognise that doing stuff for others doesn't make you more worthy of their love.  Great Me has the knowledge, the inner knowing that we are all well taken care of; are infinitely capable of living life - yes, both my child and I; and will allow us to remain open to a new way of relating to our children and a new way of living our lives.  Perhaps we will change how we define being a mother ...  from doing being the greatest version of ourselves from moment to moment.  Maybe start a new career, maybe do the stuff we have put on hold for so long, maybe ...maybe...maybe...  Its pure potential.

No one said that motherhood was for sissies. Its time for Big-Girl-Panties to go on, and live your greatest life, continuing to inspire your offspring and teach them how to be happy by being happy yourself.


A really good friend of mine (thank you Anne!) has put me onto this lovely lady Danielle LaPorte  through a book called:


Danielle LaPorte has sass and style in buckets and describes her style statement in the book above as Sacred Dramatic.  Read the book and work with it to find your own style statement.

I went onto her website (follow link: for the first time and I was blown away by one of her colleagues she interviews.

This video clip shows Danielle LaPorte talking to Gabrielle Bernstein about her new book May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited HappinessDanielle says, "I love what Gabby is up to in the world, and I had a few questions for her about making miracles an everyday reality."

Seriously, look inside and read the first couple of pages.  Its intriguing.  I tried to copy and paste but there are copyright laws protecting me from doing this.  So follow this link and read what she says about fear....struck  a nerve with me, I can tell you!  To paraphrase her she says miracles occur every time you choose love over fear and that it requires commitment and diligence to do this but that she will guide you through step by step.  Her work is based on another book called A Course in Miracles:

Watch her on the next clip giving a TED talk to women which explains what she does nicely:

I hope you are as inspired and intrigued as I am....