I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.’ Francoise Sagan

Saturday, 15 September 2018

A New Dawn...

Separation within separation
An ocean of distance holding us apart
So much pain and confusion
In this dark night of the soul

At night your face appears before me
Suspended in mid-air
I hear you tell me without words
That you will always love me
That you can never leave me
As this was decided before our birth

Yet destiny decreed long ago
That we must endure many bitter partings
As only through separation
Could the soul's lessons be learned
Heart over head, love over fear

And now I await your return
For your heart to join mine
In the joy of reunion
Still your doubting mind, my love
For the dark night is fading
Making way for a new dawn to rise

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Seer Within...

Deep within me dwells a ‘Seer’ 
Who sees without seeing
Hears without hearing
And knows without knowing
All that lies beneath material form

This is the uninvited messenger 
Whose late-night whisperings 
Stir me from sleep
Urging me to attune my ‘inner ear’ 
To the wise Oracle within

When I am lost
This is the voice that leads me home
When I have doubt
This is the map that shows me the way
The direct route to my own 'North' star

This is divine consciousness
My compass for the soul
Guiding me to know the unknowable
See the unseeable
And hear the unhearable

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Wisdom of the Phoenix

When the pain comes
Let it bring you to your knees
Offer no resistance
Let it rage through you like a hurricane
Let your body go limp
And your mind go still
Attach no ‘story’ to this unfolding
Just let it be what it is
Raw, visceral pain
Remain in sweet surrender
As this Phoenix process unfolds
Consuming and destroying
All in you that has to die
Trust that nothing has been lost
But that which had to go
Bask in the stillness
As you breathe out the old
Inhale the new
Witness the majestic unfurling
As the Phoenix lifts its mighty wings
And slowly rises from the ashes
The miracle of life reborn

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Finding the hidden gift...

What if what you perceive to be your biggest ‘flaw’ is actually your gateway to discovering and embodying your greatest gift? And what if all you need to understand this is a simple shift in perspective? 

Ever since I can remember, I have always been acutely sensitive to my environment. As a result, when I was growing up I often felt as though there were no boundaries between myself and other people. It is hard to describe, but I frequently had the seemingly irrational feeling that all that was preventing me from being engulfed by those around me was a very thin and highly permeable membrane. In other words, I was highly attuned to other people’s energy. As most of us carry some emotional baggage, my acute receptivity to this caused me to absorb a lot of negativity. This toxic overload sometimes led me to experience feelings of complete overwhelm and acute distress. But, back then, I didn’t have the self-awareness to know what was causing my anxiety. 

I continued to suffer the consequences of my sensitive nature for many years and it was only when I reached my early thirties that things began to change.  By this stage, the depth of my discomfort had grown so strong that I decided to embark on an urgent quest for anything that might offer some relief. This in turn took me on a long journey of self-discovery and spiritual development. It was at some point in this process that I had the revelation that what appeared to be my biggest weakness was, in fact, my greatest strength. It’s not surprising that it took me a while to get this, because the way this gift was packaged made it look more like a curse! 

Although I’ve learned to embrace this aspect of myself, there’s no denying that my ability to feel intensely is something of a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it gives me a strong empathy for the feelings of others, an almost psychic ability to read people and predict things before they happen, an acute awareness of what my body likes and doesn’t like, and a strong inclination for creative self-expression; on the other hand, it makes me acutely vulnerable emotionally, highly prone to getting ill (I have a delicate digestive system and a notoriously low tolerance for alcohol!), and inclined to suffer from anxiety and depression. 

Unfortunately, being born into a household where I was the odd one out in a family that advocated the ‘stiff upper lip and get on with it’ attitude, did not help. I suspect that my father was more similar to me than he liked to admit as he was a sensitive soul, who often banged up against the rough edges of life. But, he grew up in an era when people were not encouraged to be introspective and there were few tools available to help him understand himself. 

By comparison, I am lucky because I have had the opportunity to understand and embrace this aspect of myself.  This has been a long and arduous process and it is by no means yet complete; in fact, it’s still very much a work in progress. But, I am learning to channel and redirect my sensitivity so that instead of being a thorn in my side, it is becoming a vehicle for my own healing and transformation. 

But before I could get to this point, I had to learn how to protect myself from other people’s energy. This has been a vital lesson in self-preservation as it has enabled me to finally free myself from the psychic overwhelm that has plagued me for years. I have developed several techniques to help me achieve this, by drawing on a combination of Buddhist philosophy and the practice of Yoga. These tools have been invaluable in helping me learn to strengthen my boundaries, so that I no longer absorb what does not belong to me. 

Another key stage in this process has been learning to ‘listen’ to my body by honouring and respecting the messages it conveys to me. For example, whenever I eat something that my digestive system can’t easily process, I get almost immediate physical feedback that this substance is toxic for me. When I was younger, I tended to ignore these messages, with the result that I suffered from acute IBS for many years. In the same way that my body alerts me to those things that it finds harmful, it also sends me a clear signal of what is needed to maintain my health. For example: if I become deficient in certain vitamins, I will experience strong cravings for foods that contain them. On a day to day level, this means that I have to monitor what I eat and drink with care. But this seems like a small price to pay for having a guidance system that lets me know exactly what I need (and don’t need) to stay healthy. 

But the greatest blessing to come from learning to fully embrace my sensitive side has been the breaking open of my heart! For much of my life, I have been caught in a debilitating battle between my intellect (my logical mind) and my intuitive knowledge (my heart). This constant tug of war between my instinctive and analytical selves has frequently left me feeling confused and exhausted. It has also made it difficult for me to make decisions about the important things in my life: such as career and relationships. Unfortunately, it has taken a series of traumatic life events for this breaking open to occur – the death of both my parents and a close friend of mine, the loss of my former career and the disintegration of my marriage. Nonetheless, this personal transformation might have taken longer had it not been for these events. Experiencing so much loss in a short period of time has forced me to re-evaluate my life and this process has involved a slow and painful stripping away of the ‘ego.’  But this has been a gift in itself because the loss of my career has led me to understand that I am not what I do – therefore with or without a ‘job title’, I am still a valuable human being. Likewise, the loss of my parents and beloved husband has made me realise that I am still worthy of love whether or not I am someone’s wife or daughter. I believe that what is gradually emerging from the rubble at the end of this ‘phoenix process” is nothing less than my most honest, raw and vibrant self.

I have come to believe that the Universe is always conspiring to support our spiritual growth (even when it does not look that way) but when we are experiencing a lot of hardship it is easy to lose sight of this. So, whenever things are not going as I would like, I have learned to ask myself: where is the blessing or the gift in this?  

This ties back in with the central premise at the beginning of this post: what if what we perceive to be our biggest ‘flaw’ is actually our greatest gift? I believe that even though it’s sometimes hard to see it this way, there are no ‘mistakes’ in life. I feel certain that the organising intelligence that governs everything (call it God, or whatever other name you choose) would not have brought us into the world without equipping us with the tools we need to navigate our way. Accordingly, we are all born with what we need to prosper and thrive – even if we don’t always recognise it.

So, next time your inner critic starts berating you for being ‘too much of this’ or ‘not enough of that’- take a breath, quieten your mind, and allow your heart to do the talking. Drop into stillness and find that age-old wisdom that lies buried beneath the ego and all its fragile defences. Ask yourself: how can I look at this differently? Is it possible that this ‘flaw’ could be a gift? If you make a practice of doing this, you may discover that the part of you that you have spent a lifetime rejecting is the gateway that leads directly to your greatest self. 

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Twin Flames (dedicated to Alejandro)

You talked of love
But my heart could not hear it
I talked of love
But your mind made you fear it

Always at odds
The timing so wrong
But this bond of ours
Stayed unfailingly strong

We were once great lovers
Then my body grew cold
Its warmth turned to ice
By wounds new and old

We tried to be friends
But time could not erase
The taste of our kisses
Or their lingering trace

Twin flames born to be together
But so often forced apart
Caught in a battle
Between head and heart

Pride has been our enemy
Misfortune our greatest foe
But this love will endure
Wherever we go…

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Return

Cartagena de Indias, 21 February 1990

The aeroplane cruises slowly down the runway, tail-lights catching the fading glow of the Caribbean sun as it dips below the horizon. Then, at some invisible signal from the control tower, it begins to gather momentum. A violent shudder ripples through its dusty undercarriage as aluminium wheels vibrate at speed on scorching tarmac. Just above the passenger windows the words – Avianca, Colombia – are just visible in the fading light.

As the plane tilts its nose skyward and the ground drops away from beneath her feet, the girl shifts uneasily in her seat and lifts a protective hand to the soft swell of her belly. She is barely twenty years old but something in her eyes, a sort of guarded watchfulness, belies her youthful appearance. This impression is heightened by the way she sits, like a tightly coiled spring turned protectively inwards on itself.

The tawny-haired man across the aisle has been observing her since they boarded. He abruptly discards his newspaper and raises a quizzical eyebrow in her direction, but before he can pose the question forming in his mind she has already turned away – clamping her eyes tight shut as if to erase her surroundings. As she folds herself away inside the private world of her thoughts, her features assume a closed ‘do not disturb’ expression.

As the aircraft gains altitude, distancing itself from the shrinking landmass below, the man reluctantly returns to his newspaper and the girl begins to daydream. In her mind’s-eye she sees herself floating over the earth – an incorporeal being suspended in time and space.

Suddenly she flinches and covers her face – as if to shield herself from an invisible blow. But the noise inside her head is growing louder and she can no longer ignore its persistent drone. The voices are relentless now, forcing her to take note - to acknowledge what she doesn't want to hear. She knows that it is useless to resist. These spiteful harpies always gain the upper hand, feeding on her anxiety like a wake of ravenous vultures.  Soon they will become as familiar as her own skin and she will think of them collectively as, The Furies. She braces herself for the sting of their final verdict:

This is it, Lara. It’s time to face the music. There is nowhere left to run. You are alone.’

Thursday, 17 November 2016

What's Your Story?


"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Wayne Dyer 

I have come to see that it is not so much what happens to us in life that determines the quality of our existence, it is the narrative we construct around the events we experience. We all have a filter through which we interpret and try to make sense of our lives, but what matters most is whether our interpretation of 'reality' is beneficial or detrimental to our well-being. 

One of the most influential people in helping me grasp this concept and understand how my 'story' was influencing my experience of life has been my good friend and life coach, Linda Ford. Linda has not only helped me to see that I had created a narrative around my life that disempowered and entrapped me, she also made me aware of a tendency to portray myself as a victim of circumstance; this had become a self-fulfilling prophecy, ensuring that I kept attracting more of what I didn't want in my life. This is because one of the fundamental principles of the law of attraction is that you become what you think about most of the time! So, if you are constantly dwelling on what's missing from your life or how difficult things are, you will just keep experiencing more of the same. Furthermore, even if you are consciously striving to secure a great job, find your soul mate and create material abundance, if your default mode of thinking is of the 'glass half empty' variety, none of the things you are seeking will show up in your life. This is because you cannot be a vibrational match for love, success and material abundance if you continually dwell on the lack of these things in your present reality or make negative affirmations such as: 'knowing my luck it will never happen!' or even worse, 'it's the story of my life!' And that expression, often so thoughtlessly uttered, is particularly illuminating in this context because that is exactly the point: what we tell ourselves about what happens to us is just that - a story

To give you a concrete example, I could look at the events of the past two years of my life in two entirely different ways. The events themselves remain exactly the same, but how I choose to interpret them is completely different. During this period, I lost my mother and former boyfriend to cancer within a year of each other, my father was admitted to a care home, I lost my job and my marriage came to an end. Added to all this, I found myself trying to sell two properties during a year of extreme political volatility and instability. These are all incontrovertible facts and they make my life sound pretty awful but how we feel about what happens to us, particularly those events outside our control, is always a choice. So, I can choose to feel trapped and disempowered or I could make a different choice, one that liberates and empowers me! I am not suggesting that these losses have not been deeply painful, but rather than allowing them to overwhelm me, I have learned to use them as a powerful catalyst for personal growth and transformation. 

For the first time in my life, I am learning to become truly self-sufficient - both emotionally and financially. Following the loss of my nine to five job and a regular income, I found a number of less stressful and more creative ways to make a living. This included becoming a host mother to a number of overseas students, some of whom have become friends for life. I also took advantage of this career break to learn Italian and dedicate myself more fully to my practice of yoga. But the most significant development for me is that I have learned to enjoy solitude rather than fear it. I have also discovered, after years of bouncing from one drama-fuelled relationship to another, that I don't actually need a man to be happy. This has been an unexpected revelation to me. Learning to look within for my own sense of self-worth and not to continually seek external validation is still a work in progress, but I might never have started the process were it not for this period of enforced solitude. 

I have also come to see that although many of the losses I have experienced have been devastating, they are not unusual: after all, we all have to face losing our parents someday and jobs and relationships come and go. This awareness has made me reassess these events, causing me to reflect that perhaps I am not the victim of a malevolent universe or some particularly harsh karmic payback!  The world is not perfect and few of us go through life completely unscathed, what matters in the end is how we interpret and respond to the challenges we face.

On this note, I recently heard an inspirational podcast by Deepak Chopra, broadcast in the aftermath of the recent US presidential elections. Deepak was talking about how to restore our collective peace of mind and wellbeing in such turbulent times. In this context, he admitted that he had struggled to accept the recent choice of the American electorate. However, he had some powerful words of wisdom to share about how we might begin to make peace with an event that had caused him, and many others, such concern. For him, the first step in this process was to recognise that whilst he was powerless to change what had already happened, he could change how he felt about and reacted to it. In describing how he shifted his consciousness from a state of anger followed by uncomfortable resignation to a state of calm acceptance, he made the following analogy. He asked us to imagine being on an aircraft that was being flown by a pilot that we didn't like or entirely trust. In this scenario, most people's initial reaction would be one of fear and unease - understandably so, since our lives would depend on the pilot's ability to get us safely to our destination. But although we might be powerless to change who was in charge of the plane, we would all share a collective desire for the pilot to get us home safely, and with that objective paramount we would offer our full support and cooperation. So, even though we didn't chose the pilot, our priority would be to help ensure the plane arrived safely at its destination. 

Deepak's point was that rather than wasting our time and energy arguing with what is - in this case the incontrovertible fact that Donald Trump is now President of the USA - we should instead focus our energy on what we can control, namely our own response to this reality. He also asked us to remember that even if we did not elect this president, it is in the country's interests for him to succeed and all Americans need to get behind him in this endeavour. For my part, although I have often struggled to practice non-judgement and acceptance of what is, when I have managed to achieve it, I have enjoyed much greater peace of mind. 

It is important to emphasise here that acceptance is not the same as resignation. We can and should stand up to injustice in the world, just as we have every right to express sadness and disappointment when we suffer any kind of personal setback. But the important thing is not to get stuck in this level of consciousness. It is normal and healthy to grieve for the loss of a loved one or to denounce any kind of injustice at the top of our lungs, but ultimately we have to accept what is and move on. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming victims of adversity rather than masters of life. 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved a good story. But until quite recently I had never fully considered how the narrative we construct around our experiences is in itself a form of fictitious story. The key events and circumstances forming the backdrop to our lives may be fixed, but our interpretation of them is completely subjective - hence one person's tale of disaster may be another's tale of triumph. The fact of the matter is that we always have a choice: we can either present ourselves as victims of circumstance, or we can consider ourselves creators of our own destiny; we can either live in fear of adversity, or we can learn to embrace the opportunities it brings; we can either focus on the problems, or we can look for the blessings behind them. I believe that this is what it truly means to be free.

When I look back over my turbulent and unconventional life, I sometimes wish I had had an easier, less drama-fuelled existence; yet, had things been any other way, I would almost certainly have never become a writer. I would definitely have had far less material to inspire my creativity! So, instead of comparing myself to others or wishing things had been different, I have decided to appreciate the uniqueness of my own life and use it to create a story of hope and inspiration.