Monday, October 28, 2013

A genre of Joy? by Angela Deutschmann

I am reposting a blog by Angela (Link to Angela Deutschmann's blog) today just because I liked it so much and wanted to share! Enjoy! Angela does amazing work! Follow the link to find out more about her.

May 10, 2012
This morning I found a glorious book on the shelves called ‘Saved by Cake’ – the first Marian Keyes book that I have ever wanted to read (confessions of a literary snob). It is the story of her recent – severe – depression and how the simple act of baking did more for her healing than any of the drugs, institutions, needles or meditation workshops she tried. Not long ago I read ‘Poser’ by Claire Dederer, which shares with much honesty and humour, how she used yoga (resistance notwithstanding) to come to terms with motherhood and her bigger role in the world, and we all know the ‘Eat Pray Love’ theme of using travel to re-evaluate and re-imagine a life that was slowly coasting into dreadful. It seems to me that these stories – perhaps beginning to be a genre of their own – are all articulating the discovery, or re-discovery, of a simple joy that ends up having a powerful and life-changing impact.

The transformations in these writers’ lives (slow as they may have been in the making) were not initiated by dramatically new jobs, immigrations, winning the lotto or finally landing Mr/s Right. They were caused by a spark of attraction to cupcakes, learning Italian and the Tree pose. Your joy is meaningful, even vital, to your wellness even if it doesn’t at first appear to be related to a career, your healing or anything you’d label a ‘life purpose’. On JoyMap last Saturday there were bright eyes and tears of relief around the table as participants remembered how much they love kayaking, children’s books, dancing and beautiful stationery. Joy is about the texture of your life, not just your vocation, and it contributes enormously to your overall sense of wellness, resilience and strength. All three the writers above (like many of my clients) had become so wrapped up in their lives (motherhood, marriage, being a famous author etc) that their own private joys had been suppressed. I cannot say for sure that this is the direct cause or cure of depression, overwhelm, MS and many of the other common diseases of our generation, but I have no doubt it is a crucial component.  

Interestingly, this week I read a lovely blog by Martha Beck on Radical Fun, which articulates similar ideas and invites us into a commitment to fun. Enjoy this:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

3 Things to do to stop a shame spiral

1. Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love (instead of beating up on yourself "You're so stupid!")
2. Reach out to someone you trust who can meet your story with empathy (as opposed to someone who will add to your shame "Ah, that's nothing. I had something much worse.  You're just being silly.")
3. Tell your shame story (as opposed to keeping it silent, secretive and continue judging yourself "I had better keep a tight lid on this otherwise no-one will ever think well of me again.")  

Shame cannot survive being spoken and met with empathy.
- Brene Brown

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?  Let me tell you: it takes whole truckloads of courage and compassion for yourself...and really good friends and family who love and support you, especially when the shame makes you see yourself differently.  When your trusted ones manage to hold a more balanced view of you and reflect this view back to you, then you can remember who really you are beyond the pain, the shame and the judgment.

So, deep breath.  Talk to yourself like you were your own child, then tell someone your shame story who will listen wisely and empathise with you. And, bam, it goes away (slowly sometimes) and a newer, braver, wisened, more compassionate version of you grows upon this experience.

- Edmund Lee

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Prayer opens your heart

If you are having a bad day or feeling down and need a lift, watch this.  It will transform you and open your heart.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rust and Bone - a beautiful movie

"Rust and Bone (FrenchDe rouille et d'os) is a 2012 French-Belgian romantic drama film directed by Jacques Audiard, starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, based on Craig Davidson's short story collection of the same name. It tells the story of an unemployed 25-year-old man who falls in love with a killer whale trainer. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and received positive early reviews and a ten-minute standing ovation at the end of its screening. It has also been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Golden Globes, two BAFTA Awards and nine César Awards, winning four." - Wikipedia

This love story is one of those painfully beautiful stories that remind us that we live in an "and" world, rather than an "either/or" one.  The hero is flawed and is both beautiful AND repulsive in his relationships, his humanity. He is both good and bad, loving and hateful, kind and unkind.  To me, he is representative of our imperfect nature, real and raw.  I am really affected by the big heart of this movie.  Watch it, you won't be sorry, if this your thing, of course.

Jumping for Joy! - an ode to Groups

I belong to the most incredible group of women (run by the beautiful, sensitive and wise Pascale Schroenn - click here to see her blog) who meet monthly to support, love, accept and hear each other.  I get a thrill whenever I think of their special place in my heart, my life, my growth and my own self-acceptance.

It is in groups, I believe, that we can let go of the idea that we are different, alien, weird and basically don't belong here on earth, in our communities, our families, our lives.

This is where we learn we are more similar than we are different.

This is where vulnerability and connection happen, with yourself first and then others.

It is where we start to feel safe enough to truthfully emerge from hiding and fully express ourselves with authenticity and an open heart.

I am so grateful to these magnificent beings in my life and to the one who guides us with such a gentle touch.

Oprah.....Me, in her presence!

I attended the very first O You!  Conference in Africa on Monday where I got to see Oprah and hear her the flesh!  A dream come true for me!  It was an amazing day filled with power and wisdom and girliness.  I loved it!

Thrilled to be there with my special friend Laura!

Oprah walking onto the stage - taken from my phone!
And isn't it a thrill that she is back on tv in South Africa on TLC on a Thursday evenings at 21h00 and Sunday mornings 11h50?!

Let me tell you about what Oprah said:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 
 Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

"You never give up, You are never too old and You always find a way", she says.

"It is well with my soul!" Oprah says that her life is good because of "WHO I AM!"  She recommends:

  • Live in service
  • Live life with an open heart
  • Live to give, receive and be love
  • Live your purpose. Learn to serve from the centre of yourself.  Look for the series of threads that run through your life.  Its the defining thread.  The passion is the thread that connects the dots of your purpose. 
  • She believes that your purpose is your spirit seeking expression, the fullest highest expression of yourselves as human beings so on your way out, you can say: "I did this Earth thing!"  We, she believes, are spiritual beings having a human experience so we need to connect to our spirits or spiritual lives. Take what you do and live it!  In God (the Space that is All) I live and breathe and have my being.  Delight yourself with Spirit.
What Oprah knows for sure: 
  • You become what you believe and not what you want or desire.  
  • You are not your circumstances, you are your possibilities
Oprah recited this poem at the age of 7 and used it hang onto during her dark years of rape at 9  and sexual abuse and the death of a baby at 14 years.  She is a survivor and a thriver!

  • Life happens FOR you , not TO you, so when life is at its hardest, when you are in the eye of the storm, say "Thank you" and "This too shall pass"

  • Be responsible for the energy that you bring to this space, this room, this life. This she learnt from Jill Bolte Taylor, a neurophysicist who experienced a stroke in her left hemisphere of her brain and wrote a book: My Stroke of Insight which confirms Oprah's belief that we are all energy fields and we attract to us the energy that we put out.  We have all heard : "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" but "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" is what she prefers.  
  • Are you paying attention?  What is whispering to you now?
  • Joseph Campbell said: "A privilege of lifetime is to be who you are."
  • Find tools to nurture your spirit
  • Gratitude is the highest spiritual prayer
  • The reason why we are still all here is because we still have more to do
  • Get still:  "Be still and know" (Psalm 46:10)  When you don't know, DO NOTHING!  Because others will drown out the voice of God.
Did I mention how intelligent and powerful she was, poems rolling off her tongue with such tangible passion and a soul-touching "felt-ness"?
  • Have a vision and then make small steps that move you towards you vision.  Make your vision greater than money. Build a team in support of your vision.  Have people in place to execute your vision.  Look at their track record.  Surround yourself with good people.
  • When Oprah was asked by Nelson Mandela how she thought the country would change, she said " Change will happen through the women - how they think and support each other. And so she started her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Oh, it was a beautiful experience and I am still digesting all the information and energy of the day, the guest speakers, the people we met and the inspiration of felt Oneness there.  I wish for you all a dream come true!

The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown

So I have signed up for a six-week e-course (Click Here to learn more) with Oprah's Lifeclass and Brene Brown which involves exploring her book: The Gifts of Imperfection.  I am thrilled!!!  Two of my heroes in one swoop!

Dr Brene Brown in an internationally renowned speaker and researcher that has spend the last 10 years studying connection. In this 5 minute video she says: "Perfection is this idea or belief that if we look perfect, live perfect, do it perfectly, that we can avoid or minimize feelings of shame and blame.  We are cognitively, emotionally, physically and spiritually hard-wired to experience love and belonging.  And when we don't, we break.", she says.  She shares her insights into "Being Enough" in her book The Gifts of Imperfection.  "One of the things we do in our lives to come back from not being enough, is by pleasing, perfecting and performing.  We go through our lives being who we think we are supposed to be, doing and saying what we think people want to hear, putting on whatever face or mask we think we need for that moment, and that leaves us is exhausted.  When we are pleasing, perfecting and performing, we end up saying "yes" a lot when we mean "no".  And we also say "no" when we mean "Heck YES, I want to do that!  I REALLY want to do that!"  But we don't have those boundaries when we don't feel like we are worthy enough."  She advises us to wait for a moment when we are asked to do something, and then choose discomfort over resentment.   How do we do things without resentment?  It takes boundaries.  In the end, if we want to be authentic, it takes courage to be imperfect, set boundaries and be vulnerable.  Because the idea of "I am enough" starts with "Enough!"  Before Brene did the Wholehearted research, she and her husband had a Wish list or a Want List but afterwards, they sat down to devise a list of all the things and activities that were joyful to them. What she realised is that a Want List dictated to them that they needed to work more and make more money and the Joy List meant less work and more time.  Here's the part where we all struggle, she says: Worthiness does not have prerequisites. We need to find a way to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.  We need to find a way to say " I am enough!"  This is who I am. Because she literally believes that our lives depend on it.

"Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.  It is about cultivating the courage, connection and compassion and to wake up in the morning and think: "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough."  Its going to bed at night and thinking: "Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes I am afraid but that doesn't mean that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging."

The Journey
Wholehearted living is not a one-time choice.  It is a process.  In fact, I believe it is the journey of a lifetime.  My goal is to bring awareness and clarity to the constellation of choices that lead to Wholeheartedness and to share with you the people that have dedicated their lives to living and loving with their whole hearts.  Before embarking on any journey including this one, it is important to talk about what we need to bring along.  What does it take to live and love from a place of worthiness? How do we embrace imperfection?   How do we cultivate the things we need and let go of the things that are holding us back?  The answers to all of these questions is courage, compassion and connection.  

The Tools we need to work our way through our journey
If you're thinking : Great! I just need to be a superhero to fight imperfection, I understand.  Courage, compassion and connection seem like big lofty ideals.  But in reality, they are daily practices, that when exercised enough, become these incredible gifts in our lives.  And the good news is that vulnerabilities are what forces us to call upon these amazing tools. Because we are human and so beautifully imperfect, we get to use our tools on a daily basis.  In this way, courage, compassion and connection become the gifts. The Gifts of Imperfection. 

And here is the bottom line: