Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My life as a garden

I have this image of my life as a garden that needs tending.

 Nurturing new activities that are vulnerable is like taking care of a new seedling.  Like learning how to love myself more.  Like learning to trust myself more.  How do I learn to trust myself more?  Well, I need to rely on my telling the truth of what I feel more often.  I need to trust that I will say yes when I want to say yes and say no when I want to say no.  Instead of people-pleasing or putting other people's needs and expectations above my own.  So truth leads to trust and in my experience, trust leads to a sense of safety and belonging.

Tending to my garden.


Friday, July 11, 2014


The older I get the more I realise (and get evidence of) how similar we all are on the inside.  On the outside we project difference : Different clown suits, different clown faces, difference clown acts, giving out vibes of difference.  And, yes, we are all unique in our expression.


we are all cut from the same cloth of LOVE with the same basic needs and wants.

We want to love and be loved.

We want to express our unique set of talents and skills through work and play and relationships.  We want connection to each other and something beyond our physical lives; some may call it Love, others God, others ........buts is just language, another clown suit of apparent difference, representing an inner meaning that is the same.

We all want love.

We ARE love.

The ultimate miracle would be to remove all the clown paraphernalia and really see ourselves and each other this way, naked in our longing for love.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Self acceptance

Self-acceptance has been my intention this year.  No small thing for me.  I have ranted , raved and shook my fist at the world, wanting, wanting, wanting things to be different from what they are.  My body.  My face.  My personality.  My circumstances.  My beloveds.  My space.  My world. My God.  But this has created a consequence of anxiety as a constant companion.  And awkwardness.  And dissonance.  And victim "poor me" living. And a pushing away of many, many gifts.  Not an easy place to live.

I wanted this year to be different.

I first heard the very wise advise to practice loving myself 10 years ago but I found it so repulsive and untrue a concept that I was unable to do it.  I have had to take the very windy rambling alternative route to this practice.  So 10 years later, I am gently trying this on for size:

I love and accept myself as I am.

There is a second requirement though.

I love and accept this moment as it is.

Eckhardt Tolle says:

This gets me out of victim and helps me to claim my power and sense of choice in the moment, to be in my body and feel what I want to feel.  It puts me back in the drivers seat of my life.  I am in charge of what my life feels like.  It gets me to my Core Desired Feelings (another time perhaps) and reaches past my ego and my head and into my heart and soul, where authenticity resides.  And joy.  And peace. 

So, 6 months into this experiment of mine, I can see that I am less anxious, more aware, more in my body, more present, less vacated, less victim, less people-pleasing and really getting to do stuff I don't normally "have time" to do.  Its a small miracle.

And when I am not feeling so zen, there's this:

So I have manged to break down what this big fancy concept of surrender means.  It means loving and accepting myself and the moment as it is.  Its a gentle shift from victim to choice.  From head to heart. Its listening and honouring myself "above the noise of other people's opinions" (Brene Brown). 

My daily intention of:

I love and accept myself as I am
I love and accept this moment as it is
I live and create from a place of love, acceptance and wholeheartedness
For my highest good
So be it
And so it is

...is just a daily repetition.  And then when I am hit with self-doubt, or late for a meeting, or fighting with my family, or myself....I simply repeat the first 2 lines until I feel the gentle shift inside me from powerlessness to a loving, expanded sense of power or a gentle softening around the hard edge of self-judgment or a physical sense of peace in my body.  

There are other options....

I find that the first 2 choices only become apparent, though, when I have gone through the process of acceptance.  When I love and accept....only then I can feel what needs to happen next, like remove myself or change it the way I want to change it. From an authentic space.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Write from the heart for the heart

"The intimacy of pen and paper is what I need to open my heart and channel my love for myself and the world.

I make myself available as a channel for inspiration to flow through.  A computer and word document just don't hold the same space for me.

Writing with my hand in my journal is a very yin energy of receptivity, whilst the computer holds a yang energy of action and doing and I tend to pop out of my heart and into my head with one eye on what other people would like to hear or read instead of focusing on what wants to be expressed from the genius heart-space.  My writing takes on an ego flavoured pompousness and preachiness, whilst channeling the genie is all genuine heart-felt personal truth." (taken from my journal)

Journalling has been one of the most valuable emotional -mental healing tools for me.  Any pent-up feelings, whether they be excitement and gratitude or confusion and depression, putting pen to paper provides me with release and relief..... and the happy outcome is a clear head and heart.  From this clean space, I can continue my day from a present moment awareness that stuck emotions would never have allowed.  Unexpressed emotions tend to make me reactive to the days chores and challenges where I use the players in my life as confirmation of my clouded beliefs and the target of my pent-up feelings.  Inappropriate anger or disproportionate reactions to the event are consequences of unreleased feelings.  So when my husband is going on a fishing trip and I haven't journalled my confused inner state, I might not be aware that he is triggering my age-old abandonment issues and I might (as I have many times) be inexplicably angry with him and be grumpy and downtrodden instead of joining in the jolly mood of happy holidays. Writing gets this out on physical paper for my eyes to see and gain perspective.

Julia Cameron taught me the value of what she calls The Morning Pages but I was really resistant to this "silly exercise" initially. And it required courage to write.  There is the risk of someone else reading it and the even bigger risk of really knowing the good, the bad and the ugly in myself.  One messy beautiful story.  But it really does provide a safe space for me to be completely me in that moment, whether I am ranting and raving or completely in the masochistic victim space of "poor me", or whether I am confused about an issue or need to work through my feelings to reach a space of gratitude.  It is all healthy proactive stuff.  It is like putting yourself in the washing machine and coming out sparkling white at the end of a cycle!  The feeling is lighter and brighter like all the washing powders claim.  But no big spend required.  No psychology fee.  Just the simple act of putting pen to paper and letting go of the barriers to lightness of being.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I have been playing with a few images that represent joy to me and the hummingbird comes up again and again...

With wings that flutter in the pattern of an infinity symbol, hummingbirds are associated with continuity, healing, and persistence. Delicate yet strong, the hummingbird actively seeks out the sweetest nectar representing our desire for the joyous gifts in life.  Joy!
                                                        Life Coaching and Energy Therapies

Joy!      Life Coaching and Energy Therapies

 Joy!  Life Coaching and Energy Therapies

Donna-Joy Ford

The bird needs to be a bit closer to the writing but otherwise I really like these creations.

Hummingbirds significance: With wings that flutter in the pattern of an infinity symbol, hummingbirds are associated with continuity, healing, and persistence. Delicate yet strong, the hummingbird actively seeks out the sweetest nectar representing our desire for the joyous gifts in life.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Connect to the heart

"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

I recently had the pleasure of listening to a talk by a very entertaining and knowledgeable Howard Martin from HeartMath where he speaks very proficiently on living a heart-based life.  Watch this 11 minute video to get a peek or google HeartMath and there are many options available.

Or if you just want the basics:  Sit quietly and simply pay attention to your heart.  Then pretend that you are breathing through your heart.  Suspend belief and visualize your breath moving in and out of your heart for a few moments.  Next, think about all the things in your life you appreciate for a few moments. This positive emotion increases your heart electromagnetic field and puts you in a state of coherence. 

The benefits of reaching coherence is a sense of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, clear thinking, reduced levels of stress and anxiety, good energy levels, a sense of calm and peace, increased access to your intuition (heart intelligence) and good immune function.

Hey, that sounds like a miracle drug!!  I want me some of that!! And its so simple.  Ancient wisdom proved by science.  Love it!

 FAQ's (taken from their website)

Question: What is Heart intelligence?
Answer: Heart intelligence is the flow of awareness, understanding and intuition we experience when the mind and emotions are brought into coherent alignment with the heart. It can be activated through self-initiated practice, and the more we pay attention when we sense the heart is speaking to us or guiding us, the greater our ability to access this intelligence and guidance more frequently. Heart intelligence underlies cellular organization and guides and evolves organisms toward increased order, awareness and coherence of their bodies’ systems.
Question: What is coherence and how can I increase mine?
Answer: The Institute of HeartMath talks a great deal about coherence – heart coherence, heart-rhythm coherence, physiological coherence, etc. – because the state of coherence is so important in helping each of us maintain our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Coherence, in relation to any system, including the human body, refers to a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts. Borrowing from physics, when we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronization between the heart, respiratory system, blood-pressure rhythms, heart-rate variability patterns, etc. When we speak of heart-rhythm coherence, we are referring to smooth, ordered heart-rhythm patterns. Among the many benefits of coherence are calmness, good energy levels, clear thinking and proper immune-system function. 

Each of us is capable of achieving, maintaining and increasing our coherence. One of the simplest and quickest paths to heart coherence is through intentional positive feelings – compassion, caring, love and other such emotions. In contrast, we can quickly become incoherent when we experience negative attitudes such as anger, fear and anxiety. A wonderful first step for learning how to increase your coherence is through HeartMath’s Coherence Coach®, a downloadable, interactive software application that includes the highly acclaimed Quick Coherence® technique for achieving coherence, refocusing emotions and releasing stress. Once learned, the Quick Coherence technique only takes a minute to do. All of HeartMath’s easily learned tools and techniques take minutes or less once learned. Read more about the Coherence Coach®

We also invite you to visit the following HeartMath Web page to learn more about coherence and how to achieve it, so you can begin transforming your life today: Learn about coherence.

Question: Are there any studies about HeartMath techniques that were not conducted by the Institute of HeartMath?
Answer: Yes, the Institute of HeartMath encourages independent studies of its tools, techniques and technology and many have been conducted, including the following:
  • Effects of Heart-Rate Variability Biofeedback Training and Emotional Regulation on Music Performance Anxiety in University Students, by Myron Ross Thurber. 

    The effects of heart-rate variability biofeedback training and emotional self-regulation techniques on music performance anxiety and music performance are examined in this study. Click here to read the study: Music Performance Anxiety.
  • A Controlled Pilot Study of Stress Management Training of Elderly Patients with Congestive Heart Failure, by the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention at Stanford University. 

    The effects of a HeartMath program on patients with congestive heart failure were examined in this study. Read the key findings and a summary of the Stanford Study. It begins midway on the page.
  • The Impact of an Emotional Self-Management Skills Course on Psychosocial Functioning and Autonomic Recovery to Stress in Middle School Children, by the Miami Heart Research Institute. 

    This study examined the impact of a HeartMath program on psychosocial functioning and physiological responses to
    stress in students at a middle school in Hialeah, Fla. Middle School Study.
  • The Effect of Employee Self-Management Training on Personal and Organizational Quality, by B. Barrios-Choplin, R. McCraty, J. Sundram, M. Atkinson. 

    This research examined the effect of HeartMath’s Inner Quality Management (IQM) training program on 54 employees in the Information Technology Services Division of a state agency that was experiencing change-related turmoil. Read the study

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Joy Journey course 2014


Joy! Journey Course 2014… 

“Come, sit by the fire…

When being real is your priority, various parts of your life start to groove.  Your career will begin to reflect your true passion; your living room will match your values; your friends will fit your soul; and your wealth – of which there are many definitions – will start to measure up with your notion of freedom.  Sometimes the courage to be true to yourself comes in the form of an out-loud declaration, a rebellion, or a love-drenched vow.  Other times it’s a quiet conviction that we can read in your eyes.  Mighty or discreet, authenticity is the muscle that helps you shake up beliefs, policies, and restraints, and gives you the strength to do the things some say can’t be done.  Being genuine is the foundation of integrity – often inconvenient and not always painless – but the only way to go if you’re here to really, truly, fully live."  - Danielle laPorte, The Fire Starter Sessions

The aim of the course is to help you to move, gently and consistently, towards a more joyful, authentic life that expands you, softens you and colours your life more beautifully.  It's about knowing yourself better, differentiating between your social self and the more genuine self.  You will be provided with tools from Martha Beck’s Finding Your North Star to better understand how you can navigate what you think you like and what you really like; and we will provide a couple of basic practices that will set you up for the duration of this course and your life, moving forward.  

We will then address your fears and core negative beliefs and look at ways to move beyond them with works from Byron Katie and Louise L. Hay.  Brene Brown's Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection are also a big part of understanding the things that get in the way of us being BIG in our own lives.This is a big one and we will return to these again and again.

Then we will look at your environment and support systems and look to see how this can be improved using tools such as attention and we will draw on psychologist, Sue Cooper’s methods to readdress this as well as Martha Beck’s exercise.

There is homework to be done each month which you will be encouraged to practice daily and weekly which will set you up to carry the changes into your life on a permanent basis. We will look at your sense of power, anger, shame, criticism and balance that with a sense of possibility and growth.  These practices will push you out of your box and help you to address suppressed pain from the past and look forward to a re-framing of your future. You will be asked to look at long-held habits and gentle ways to shift them.

Buried dreams, wish-lists and forbidden joys will be taken out and dusted off. And all the blocks that have allowed them to gather dust.  Again, Julia Cameron will be drawn on heavily here and we will watch a short video by Brene Brown.

Sense of abundance and luxury and money issues are next and we will look at how that is reflected in all areas of your life from your cupboard to your house and beyond.

Risk, jealousy, perfectionism and your past will interfere with your dreams so these will be addressed in some really good exercises.  And then you will be asked how you can be kinder and compassionate to yourself.

You will be challenged to try new things like dancing, painting, writing and more.  

As you can see, you are going to be asked to 
look at all areas of your life and pushed out of your comfort zone often.  This course is designed to shake up your life and see what authentic next step awaits you.  Its purpose is to reveal a life that is more fulfilling for you and to set you up with a number of concrete tools so that you will always be equipped to deal with the next change and next dream.

We will meet 
once a month for 6 sessions in small groups in a nurturing, safe environment. The evening session starts at 6pm and the morning session at 8.30am soon.  I look forward to working together!

Email me on d4d@polka.co.za or comment below if you are interested in living more joyfully!

A little about me:  I am a Life-Coach, Joy-Lover, Healer-Helper, Expression-Chaser, Retreat-Worker, Art-Doer, Spirit-Connector.

I get very enthusiastic about what I am learning on my own journey!  That is how the Joy! Journey was born : to share my enthusiasm.  About different ways of thinking, new ideas, books, talks, teachings, art, people, love, life, music and all the stuff in between.

I am passionate about connection and expression and an open heart.  This is key to my own journey back from depression and anxiety.  And so is creativity and speaking the truth.  And so is being brave and vulnerable.

I work intuitively and combine any methodology that suits the individual or situation.  I believe in guidance, in love, in compassion and kindnesses… the gentle ones and the tough ones.  I trust in my knowingness and in practical solutions (I want to know what lofty ideals LOOK like in my life!).  So I treat others the way I wish to be treated.  I put together courses I wish I could go on myself and I feel infinitely blessed to do this work/play. 

 I have a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology and Industrial Psychology) and am a Martha Beck Certified Life Coach and Innate Healing Therapist.  I studied many other modalities on my Journey to Joy including Reiki III, LifeSkills4 Kids, AIDS counselling and others. Did I mention that I read? ALL the time.  About anything that I feel will help. And I share.  That's what I do.

Truth droplets from Brene Brown

Monday, April 28, 2014

Reading books and watching movies.....respect for creators.

One of my primary joys and means of resting is reading.  I LOVE READING!!!    I have read some really good books lately....one of them being:

This came from the library in the Highly Recommended section but the subject matter was slavery.  Not a light fluffy holiday read, I thought.  The skill of Andrea Levy was to immediately suck me into her story with such intimacy, I felt like it was being told to me over a cup of tea.  It was like watching a movie written and acted with such skill that I felt like a privileged bystander to the unfolding story; a witness to someone's inner world, thoughts and feelings whilst the tale of slavery told in the background of her emotional response.  I was captivated til the end.

Serendipitously, I watch 12 Years Slave the day before I started reading The Long Song.  Set 10 years apart, it tells of similar circumstances in America. Superbly acted it too sucked me into its world. 

Great acting and an incredible story.  Worth the watch and the heartache just to have that insight.  Such skill and passion and talent and human heart.  And it sparked a heart-felt discussion with my 14 year old son who initiated us watching the movie together.  That is the power of a story well told.  Expansion of the heart and mind.  I am so grateful for the creators among us....for their power to facilitate connection to our own hearts first and then to others across time and space....and disconnection.  Reconnection is the key to feeling Alive! As terrifyingly beautiful that can be.

Vacated / Vacation

I have not blogged for a long while again....I am starting to notice a pattern....this seems to be an annual thing.  I have been dormant in the blogaspere but my life has been anything but.

Hi.  My name is Donna and I am addicted to busyness.  Life has been on HUGE wave of late.  And I volunteered to ride it.  The busyness keeps me from really showing up and doing the big scarey things in my life that are truthful expressions of me.  I am basically afraid to be me.  Afraid to be the fully expressed version of myself.  I joke with my special friends that I vacate my body on a regular basis and the shell of me remains to be shared in a half-hearted way in my life.  It looks like I am there because I am busy doing many things and juggling many balls.

BUT, and it is a big but, I have vacated.

To be fully present and feeling ALIVE! I must first show up.  And then express myself.  Even when its scarey...and probably BECAUSE I am scared its even more important that I am present and fully express myself.  Brene Brown said that courage feels like you are brave and afraid at the same time.

I am afraid to take myself to the next level of expression AND I am afraid to be fully seen.  By new people.  I feel safe within the community of safe people.  People that know and love me as I am.

So as my first act of showing up and being seen....here I am posting my first blog in a while....in an attempt to express myself.  To come back from my VACATION....so to speak!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Let's start a conversation about parenting....

I would like to start a conversation about teenagers and their natural inclination to experiment, take risks, try new things and to be secretive about it.  And how to parent them!  Please.

I have a 15.5 year old son.  He would love to be older and ride motorbikes, stay up later, watch restricted movies, drink, go out, be more independent, visit friends on his skateboard, walk to the beach on his own and the list goes on.  He has always wanted to be older than he is. He pushes the boundaries.  He doesn't accept his age, whatever that may be, and its limits.  He finds it difficult to accept "no" as an answer.

I watched an interview with Will Smith and Oprah once where he described his method of discipline as giving as much freedom as the child could handle.  So when they couldn't handle that level of freedom, it was reduced. Discipline is not so much about punishment as restriction, he says.  Watch below if you wish:

He has some amazing views on parenting.

I don't know what I am doing half the time when it comes to parenting and I often ask other parents on their take when I am faced with a problem but 2 things always seem to come up:

Firstly, there is no "right" way.  No-one has the answer.  No-one has discovered a fool-proof method or has the perfect solution we are all looking for.

Secondly, we are all scared as parents...of perceived dangers that will befall our children if we do not protect them, restrict them and discipline them.  Like allowing them to walk to the beach on their own or go to a party at a nightclub or play their first rugby match or go to boarding school or write their first exams (or any subsequent exams), or jump off a 3m high ledge into the dam or ride their bike to the shops or sleepover at a friends for the first time.  What makes me anxious is my fear that something can go wrong. And I won't be there to protect them, make it right for them.  That is at the base of all my parenting dilemmas.

Am I the only one?

I like what Brene Brown has discovered about parenting in her research.  As a result, she came up with this manifesto for parenting: