Life, when you look at it, is pretty much a sequence of goodbyes. We say goodbye when relationships end, when people move away, when changing jobs, and when someone passes - often without notice. These things all happen pretty frequently so it's probably worth getting good at saying goodbye.
Another thing that's worth doing is getting plenty of hellos. Our Aunty, who turned 100 earlier this year, is full of life yet the longer she lives the more goodbyes she must inevitably make. What's her secret? I believe it's the hellos. Aunty still performs, playing piano at nursing homes for many much younger residents, providing her with a constant stream of hellos. Meeting new people, making friends with some but not all of them. She also has an ever increasing number of great grand children, and she knows them all.
Being too settled can make us think we can't say goodbye, just one more reason for avoiding change in our lives. But the saying when one door closes another opens applies to many situations, provided you're looking towards the new door not back at the closed one. Leaving an old job can sound scary, but starting a new job is exciting. Saying farewell to colleagues, family or friends feels sad, but meeting a whole new group of people is interesting. Being the one who stays, when someone else leaves is often more difficult than leaving and a strong support network, built through hellos, can really help.
Changing neighbourhoods can also feel quite daunting, and you don't always want to become instant best friends with your neighbours. But there are plenty of other people in the community you can connect with – at the local shops, the library, the gym or swimming centre. It doesn't take long to become a familiar face and begin to enjoy that sense of recognition again.
But the unexpected goodbyes, the sudden departure of a loved one, these are the most difficult. There's no warning, no chance to say how much they mean to you, to give them one last hug. However preparing for these offers you the most opportunity.
For those people you assume will always be there, that you sometimes take for granted, there will come a goodbye. That's just how life is, so consider that they next time you see them. Make the most of your time with them, be fully present (not distracted on your phone or by problems), tell them what you like or love about them. Make sure they know now how you feel and it's not left until you're farewelling them, lest you part without them knowing. After all, you don't know which one of you will be going first.
So make today a day that matters. Make some new hellos, or reach out to someone you already know and let them know how much they mean before it's time to say goodbye.
This Beatles clips can be a good reminder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rblYSKz_VnI
We just spent a glorious morning walking along the coast before stopping for a bite at a local cafe. While it felt rather indulgent taking three hours out for breakfast, it also seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. You see this weekend sits between two significant events - the funeral of an uncle in his seventies and the 100th birthday of an aunt. Not surprisingly, the closeness of these two occasions made me somewhat reflective about how I’m choosing to spend my minutes, days, and years.
Pondering what I’d like to remember at the end of my life, I came up with some pretty familiar concepts: immersing myself in nature, connecting with spirit, and loving unconditionally. Basically, spending my time as a human being, not a human doing. So how do I approach that?
Every thought we have creates an energetic imprint. That’s how some people can read jewellery, tell you what happened in a haunted house, or just walk into a room and feel the tension. So I figure the best way I can spend my life is by leaving as many positive imprints as I can.
You create positive imprints when you’re happy. Doing things that put you in flow with the universe, practicing gratitude, being kind to others, all create positive imprints. Whereas giving until you are depleted, doing what you think is expected of you, or losing yourself in technology, conflict, or addictive behaviours will create negative imprints.
For me, treading softly on the planet, cultivating beautiful relationships, nurturing those close to you are all simple ways to generate an abundance of positive energy vibrations. But being able to do those things, often means putting your own health and happiness first. Sometimes this may feel indulgent, even selfish but making sure you’re in the best mood you can be in is often the simplest way to create beautiful, vibrant, low impact energy imprints to share with the planet. And if that means allowing three hours for breakfast, so be it.
What about you? What can you do to put yourself in a place of bliss to energetically give back to the planet?
I lost track of time the other day. Not hours or minutes. I lost track of how far into June we were.
Having woken up in a bit of a funk, I tried to pinpoint what was making me feel the way I did. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to work - I’m loving my job at the moment, but I was a little resentful of how many hours I was about to spend indoors and I realised I was longing for more daylight.
Thinking we were still around mid month I chided myself for not appreciating the moment. ‘Never wish for time to pass’ rang through my mind - sage advice I received from a cab driver when I was around fifteen wishing to be going on twenty-one. It had the sound of timeless wisdom when he said it and it’s informed many of my decisions and brought me out of impatience and into the present on countless occasions. Yet here I was wishing for more daylight.
So I stopped myself and began mentally rattling off all the things I have to be grateful for as I continued to get myself out of the house and off to work. Taking in the sky, trees, and birdsong along the way; being thankful for our brilliant transport system and the patience of the bus drivers; before finally arriving at work ready to suck it up and get on with it.
Settling into my emails with a cup of tea, I looked at the subject of the first one and was delighted to see “Happy Solstice”. I glanced down to check the date which confirmed it was indeed June 21st and realised today was the solstice. The shortest day and longest night that signals the return of the sun when the days, however slowly, begin to lengthen.
Like the sun breaking through the darkness, my mood immediately brightened as I realised I wasn’t in a funk, my energy was simply in tune with the earth mother’s position in relation to the sun. We were at our greatest distance from that huge ball of energy and I could feel it.
Beaming with relief, I didn’t beat myself up for not knowing it was the solstice nor did I berate myself for not posting about it or organising a ceremony. Instead I relished feeling that I was in tune with creation and made a point of blocking out time to go for a long walk at lunch to soak up some rays and replenish myself with the sunshine I’d been lacking. I then began to pass on the happy solstice greeting to others, all sharing that same spark when they realised we were passing our darkest day.
Missing a planned celebration of the solstice didn’t mean missing out. It simply provided a more spontaneous opportunity to look on the bright side - literally! It busted me out of my funk and inspired me to spend some time contemplating how to make the most of the rest of winter.
How about you? How are you celebrating the return of the sun as we move into the colder weather? Long walks in the middle of the days, cook-ups with friends, or snuggling up with a good book?
It always impresses me that when you put your intention out to the Universe it answers quickly and clearly, that is if you’re prepared to listen.
Last month in circle we were set to work on the sacral chakra - the centre for choice, relationships, and creativity. As I approached the Quakers Centre, where we hold the meditations, I passed two young women looking across the road somewhat indecicively.
A few minutes later, as I was unpacking in the hall, the same two bright faces appeared in the doorway. They were curious as to what the Friends Society (name on the building) was all about. We explained we were a meditation circle that the Quakers were kind and open minded enough to have been hosting for more than a decade, and told them they were welcome to join. Politely they declined and left.
About five minutes before we were due to start, one of them returned to join us. As she introduced herself she shared that she’d been working with this same chakra energy for a few weeks, so wandering into a meditation with the same focus had been too serendipitous to pass up. Her meditation proved fruitful as she connected with a personal totem to help her understand this energy at a deeper level than most others could intuit for her.
However, not all lessons are this convenient or gentle for that matter. Some other circle regulars, who have worked this energy before, came along with relationship challenges that had been steadily building during the previous month. Knowing the circle was on the way allowed these circumstances to surface, providing the opportunity to connect with and gain the insight of a specific totem.
Also interesting for this and other scheduled chakra circles was who was able to make it. Often, if you aren’t ready to work through a certain lesson or need to continue of a previous one, the universe will conspire to shield or exempt you from that particular focus. Conflicting appointments, cars, traffic, or illness can all suddenly materialise to prevent you being there. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s just another way of the universe giving you information about this particular area in your life.
If you’re unsure about how when or where to get your next dose of intuitive guidance, take the easy option. Set your intention, wait, listen, and trust you are connected. The universe will present all the signs, symbols and opportunities to guide you at the perfect time.
I used to say a great way to assess what you want to do in life is to imagine what you’ll enjoy looking back on when you’re 80. But these days, as I hear of so many people spending hours binging on television, absorbed in playing computer games, or working in jobs they hate, I’ve decided a five year review and rewrite might be better.
By review I don’t mean wallowing in all that went wrong and getting bogged down in feeling like a victim about it, that’s not going to help anyone. Nor do I mean ticking off a big scorecard of achievements. The reason for the review is to reflect on how far you've come, how happy you’ve been, and to note the stand out things that you’d like to do more of or change.
Take a minute now and think back on the last five years. How much time did you spend doing what you love? What could you have done less of? If you’re not happy with what comes up then you’d better start to consider how you’re going to spend the next five years, or at the end you’ll have a whole decade you’re disappointed with.
Now, imagine yourself looking back five years from now. How do you feel? What memories did you create? Were you learning? Were you growing? Did you make safe plans and fearfully cling to the results, or did you try new things and then laugh at how differently they turned out compared to what you expected?
We all know life is about the journey, but if you never take the car out of the driveway you’re not going to see much. However, if you focus on a destination, head towards it and follow the signs along the way, you might end up where you wanted to. Or, you might end up somewhere different with more knowledge gained along the way. Or you just might end up somewhere too wonderful for you to have ever imagined.
Why not take ten minutes now to start driving your life? Grab a pen and paper, find a spot where you feel indulgently comfy, and sit and write as if it were five years from now. Write a review of how fabulous the last five years have been. Begin something like “It’s date, I’m in city/country, and have just finished/am about to start.... The last five years have been amazing because…”
Write about what you’ve learned about yourself and others and how you used that insight to shift areas of your life and mould it into something wonderful. Write the story you want to happen. Don’t waste another day waiting for something to change. Write yourself a future.
I was a little disappointed the other day when a friend from my writing course said she worked with creative people but that she wasn’t creative. I had to stop my instinct to reprimand her for using such negative self-talk.
Everyone is creative, it’s part of being human. When you plan your day, furnish your house, decide what to cook, or even think up an excuse you’re being creative.
I remember my first visit to the local leather craft store. Caught up in the moment, arms full with a pattern, leather, and tools, the store owner casually said (with good intent) ‘you’re only limited by your imagination’. It was enough to stop me in my tracks. I thought ‘I work in technology, I’m not creative’, so I returned everything to the shelves and went home empty handed. Fortunately, I eventually let go of that limiting belief and allowed myself to develop what’s now termed creative confidence.
You build your creative confidence by choosing small creative tasks, doing things you enjoy, to ensure success (which is about the creative experience, not the product). Your creativity also increases the more generous you are with it. Sharing or giving away ideas makes room for new ones, clinging to one idea through fear you won’t have another leads to blockages - you stop the energy flow.
Getting out there and playing and making mistakes, that’s how you create. Trial and error is part of the process, like learning to walk, or cook, or read.
Great musicians play music they don’t work it. That’s why I was unsettled by my friend’s comment. She’d already come up with an amazing concept for a story and stuck out the gruelling birth of her first draft, imagining new ideas all the time. She’d been playing and creating constantly and still she thought she wasn’t creative.
Everyone struggles with the creative process at some stage, but sitting with the uncertainty, giving yourself some headspace, and engaging in play will help you find the joy and inspiration again.
Everything we do is a creative choice. Every choice is an opportunity to create. You just need to trust in your creative spirit and give yourself the space to play.
But don’t just take my word for it…
"I’ve come across two quotes this week about being perfect. Well actually about not being perfect. The first was from Layne Beachley - “done is better than perfect”. She was referring to not delegating because you believe you’re the only one who will do something properly. Apart from this resulting in you thinking you have to do everything, you’ll probably also tell yourself a pretty good story about not having enough support.
The other quote from Simon Sinek was “progress is more important than perfection”. It’s very easy to let the inner critic run wild when you don’t get something quite right, especially when you're learning something new. You might not get the desired result as soon as you'd like, but if you’re improving that’s enough. As Mr Wonderful likes to say “an 80% improvement is a lot better than what you started with”.
Don Miguel Ruiz in his best-selling book The Four Agreements gave us another way of looking at things. He said “always do your best" and with this he pointed out that your best will vary day to day. One day you might be able to scale a mountain and another you might just want to curl up with a book and listen to the rain. If you honour how you’re feeling on the day, you’ll probably do a great job of getting through that book.
So that’s my take away from the Universe dishing up two better than perfect quotes. On those days when I have a dozen things in mind to do and it’s stinking hot and I lose all motivation, it’s alright. There will be other days like today, when I wake refreshed and bounding with energy and run at the world and I find my best is better than it usually is and there’s really no need to strive for perfect.
Perfect isn’t about the way we do things like clean house, or write a report, or cook a meal. Perfect is a sunrise, a magpie’s song, or a cooling breeze. It’s nature and we’re part of that - and I can’t think of anything more perfect.