Mastery of Self in Service

I had the privilege, a year and a half ago, of becoming part of a truly remarkable community of caring, open-hearted people committed to keep learning from life – just as it is – in each new moment that unfolds. This is the joy of being involved with the More to Life programme.

I spent the past weekend as part of an amazing team of fellow volunteers creating a safe space for 28 participants to find a new depth of connection with themselves and others, and to step forth into their lives with a new sense of purpose. To see the growth in each member of our team, as well as the blossoming within each participant, was a humbling experience for which I am truly grateful.

One of the participants shared her experience with us on the third day of the course:

It’s good to meet yourself again. I realise now that moving forward I have to be ME; it’s the only way to be better for everyone around me. I feel at peace with myself now, and realise that looking after myself isn’t selfish – it lets me give more to other people. I have dreams and passions and things I want to do, but I didn’t know why I couldn’t DO them. Now I know – it wasn’t anything external stopping me, it was me. Now I know I can do anything. I was lost; I was looking for myself. I want to dream, to impart knowledge, to serve others – but I can’t serve them if I’m not fully present myself.

I was led to reflect and write down my own commitments to myself at this time:

“I will see life as my friend, and teacher.

I will recognise myself as strong, loving, unique, creative, and adventurous.

I will be brave in speaking my heart, trusting of myself, and I will dance in celebration of life.

With others, I will be caring, open-hearted, playful, empathetic and honest.

My stand is to never give up on my own and other’s endless capacity to love, grow, and connect.

My purpose in life is to be open to and learn from what life has to offer me; to love, laugh, dance, listen, care, enable, support, explore, and be fully present within each moment and connection.”

Choices, and defining who we wish to be

A friend sent me a link to a TED talk by Ruth Chang about ‘How to make hard choices.’ It’s a brilliant, well-constructed talk that leads to an empowering conclusion:

‘Far from being sources of agony and dread, hard choices are precious opportunities for us to celebrate what is special about the human condition. That the reasons that govern our choices as correct or incorrect sometimes run out, and it is here in the space of hard choices that we have the power to create reasons for ourselves to become the distinctive people that we are. And that’s why hard choices are not a curse, but a godsend.’

I hesitated over sharing that ‘spoiler’, but I encourage you to watch the entire video to see how she steadily, logically and engagingly takes us with her to this conclusion.

What this comes down to for me is the reminder of something I have believed for as long as I can remember: that each of our choices – from the clothes we select to wear, to the jobs we invest our time in and people we decide to spend our time with – are neither right nor wrong, but simply about WHO WE CHOOSE TO BE. Continue reading

Trauma As Our Teacher

I was reading David Berceli’s book on the Trauma Release Process before falling asleep last night, and found these paragraphs enlightening and greatly comforting.

‘Trauma has the ability to teach us what love is, while simultaneously bringing out our innate capacity for deep caring. Through traumatic experiences we can discover our true mettle as compassionate individuals. Continue reading

Letting Go

Thank you Christine for placing this lovely quote in my path today.

“Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything — whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire.

It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding.

To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome -

which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking”

Jon Kabat Zinn, Wherever you go, There You Are

Book Review: A House Near Luccoli

A House Near Luccoli: A Novel of Musical Intimacy & Intrigue in 17th Century Genoa by DM Denton (All Things That Matter Press, 2012)

I have a deep appreciation for things that appeal to my sense of beauty.  While I enjoy many novels for a multitude of varying reasons, from their excellent characterisation to their capacity to make me see the world in new ways, teach me new things or simply engage my rapt attention, there are only a few that have captured me with their lyricism and beauty. The historic novel ‘A House Near Luccoli’ by DM Denton flows with a rhythm and melody that took me some time to adjust to – her sophisticated style took a little time to attune to, and I initially found myself re-reading paragraphs to ensure I was completely clear on what was happening. However, once I let go of my structured expectations and instead listened to the unique flow of the novel, I found myself captivated, and transported back to 17th century Italy.

It’s such a unique and poetic style, that I feel as though I can hardly do it justice, and wish instead to share a couple of extracts:

“…Nonna blamed a tendency to malinconia on her granddaughter’s English side with too much rain in her blood. As if climate could be inherited – shifting skies of cloud and sun, never warmer than it was still cool in the shade, hay growing and ripening despite wet feet, root vegetables the staple, walls and hedges rolling along landscapes far from the sea.” Continue reading

My Life Philosophy

(I wrote this yesterday but didn’t get to post it).

My sister reposted an article by David Wong, published on the 16th July, entitled A 60 Second Guide to Learning the Awful Truth About Yourself, on facebook. I very seldom click on these things – I don’t believe in ‘quick fixes’ and think most such articles are a gimmicky waste of time – but something prompted me to today. I started it half-heartedly.

Step 1: ‘Get out a pen and paper. You don’t need much, an old receipt or something. Write down, in just a few words, what you did yesterday. Leave out the sleeping, eating, etc. And be totally honest, nobody is going to see it but you.’

Hmmmm. What did I do yesterday? Continue reading