Gently breathing love,

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Lately, I’ve been finding mindfulness really difficult. I still do it but I end up swamped and in my own thoughts, memories or feelings or impulses flooding my system. But I kinda roll with it. Sometimes I enjoy it – that bursting with indication, grief, pain, joy, beauty…but sometimes it frustrates me because I never come out of the process of breathing and being mindful, feeling that peaceful. I feel knackered. Or like a wound is right there, raw and open – even more than before. That’s the thing that keeps happening the most…I kinda dread just being with my own thoughts and feelings, and mind and body, yet I crave it too. And at the moment I’m getting a lot of it.

I think I feel so swamped with ‘stuff’…my stuff. This isn’t new, and I think it feels accompanied by exhaustion and MIND fatigue…in other words, brain fog. That must be it. I kinda can’t ‘come to’ unless for short bursts. Doing something in nature or really connecting or really outside myself and requiring a lot of concentration, then I quickly ‘wake up’ and drift from my innards and feel present, in daily life. It sorta feels like my brains just really knackered and it’s on Sleep. Maybe it sorta is…maybe it’s its way of coping. Our bodies, after all, are the queens and kings of knowing what they need. I just sometimes (I used to all-the-time) wish for different. Instead, I kinda long for it. Wishing hasn’t ever solved anything and once I realised that I stopped doing it so much…but there’s something beneath the wishing that probably needs to be felt. And I think it’s a longing. Like, a longing for it to be different – a longing for my mind and body to feel fighting fit. I’m allowing myself to feel the longing for other things in my life, but I hadn’t realised that I’m not really feeling it for my body. God that thing deserves my longing to be felt…I deserve to feel these feelings.

I used to think feeling feelings meant you BELIEVED the feelings and felt them entirely, and maybe that by feeling the feelings you are writing Fact…writing history. Like, by feeling angry, I AM angry. By feeling sad, I AM sad. But what if I’m just feeling angry or feeling sad, and they’re a feeling and they’re here to pass through on their way somewhere else? They’re not writing history, unless my history is a history of what I’ve been feeling…the. holy fuck, my history of just today has been long!

So back to mindfulness. In a way, this makes sense. What I’m trying to do is learn how to feel the feelings I’m feeling beneath the story my mind is telling. Beneath the ‘stuff’ is a story of feelings – a story that only needs to, and can be, told through the process of noticing…noticing qualities, noticing how the feeling feels in my body. It’s such a different experience when I do that. My daily experience and my momentary experience is completely different. I feel more AWAKE. My eyes feel open and my brain feels cleared.

When I open up my chest and my throat and breath real deep, and breathe in love to myself – strongly and gently and commitedly – I get a break. The above happens. Whereas before when I’ve done that, I’ve tended to breathe in with force rather than compassion. Like rather than breathing in YOUWILLFEELCONNECTIONCOMPASSIONLOVEDAMMIT, I breathe in love connection compassion right down, deep into my belly. Strongly but firmly. Gently and compassionately. Then it all falls away. My stuff is there to just notice, rather than cloud.

Maybe this is my ticket to vitality. My ticket to my own inner coffee shop. A coffee shop that serves up cups of Noticing, and mugs of Breath. Rather than triple shots of Ethiopian or cafetiers of Venezuelan.

That’d be nice. I’d defo have a loyalty card there…and maybe I’ve already got one, I just forget to trust that I can – it’s safe – to use it.

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Stubbornness

I loved this post below from the brilliant and beautiful Elizabeth Gilbert, on Facebook.

“STUBBORN.

Here’s what stubbornness means to me, you guys:

There are days when I wake up at 5am, and for some reason the madness is right there waiting for me, like it’s been sitting by the side of my bed all night. The disappointments, the anxiety, the regrets, the insecurity, the anger, the second-guessing — all of, waiting for me, with a greasy smile. Like: “Wake up, sucker! We can’t wait to mess with your mind and give you a horrible day!”

Mornings like that happen to me more than you might ever guess.

Then there are the weeks and months when I feel like I can’t love any of the people I’m supposed to love — including myself.

I fall into spells of living where I can’t seem to take a correct step or a wise action. I’ve been depressed, anxious, confused and deeply ashamed of myself — often enduringly, often all the same time. More recently than you might imagine.

Follow any of that stuff to its natural destination, and one will find life to be bleak and sorrowful, indeed.

But you know what? I’m fucking STUBBORN, people. I will fight that shit. I insist on pursuing enjoyment and meaning in the life that I have been given — even when some of the times I feel half crazy and totally uncertain. I fight for the light. You give me a crack of light the width of my pinkie, I’m going to try to squeeze myself through it, if it kills me. I will find something good around me, I swear to God, and I will hunt it down eat it — sometimes literally (pizza). I will make myself go out in the world and look at something beautiful. I will demand that I find a way that day to commit an act of kindness on someone. I will insist on trying to create. I will not be ashamed to call up my old therapist and be like, “Listen, I need a tune-up here,” and ask her to try to help me put my head on straight, rather than spinning in a vacuum of uncertainty. I will spend hours trying to find a goddamn inspirational quote that actually does its work on me. I will grab myself by my own hand and say, “Listen, kid — screw up as much as you want: I AM HERE TO LOVE YOU.” And I won’t let go.

You think those Happiness Jars that I talk about all the time are all about light and gladness and easy rays of sunshine? No — my Happiness Jar is a ninja weapon of stubborn defiance against the creep of despair. So is my relentless commitment to living a healthy creative life — a creative life that doesn’t worship darkness. So is this Facebook page. So is my stuttering, semi-effective meditation practice. So is my tithing. So is my traveling. So is my care and feeding of my own curiosity. So is my hunt for divinity. So is my daily attempt to wring some forgiveness out of my soul — for myself, for others. (And then to try again the next day, if it doesn’t work today.)

STUBBORN.

It’s a word that saves my life every day, and has given my life whatever worth it’s got.

So when it came time for Alma to review her own life, and to put her own dignity and worth in context…well. Ultimately, it all had to be about stubbornness.

Because without it? Nothing good will come.

Thanks for noticing, dear reader.

Go fight the fight today, you gorgeous warriors. Put your head up, put your fists up, push in hard…GO.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

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I’m a Taurean, and Taureans are infamously stubborn. Lately, as I watch myself journey along this healing process, I been increasingly grateful my stubbornness (even though it fucks me over sometimes). This morning – reading this – I realise that it is a gift. A gift that enables you to kick the shit out of our inner crazy…I think that’s how it helps me. I just naturally – without consciously trying to – refuse to, even the darkest of dark or the craziest of anxiety or the most desperate of desperate, feel it entirely. Like, feel it with all of me. There’s ALWAYS a part of me that’s like:

“NO MOTHERFUCKER! I WILL NOT BE YOU! I AM MY OWN PERSON. I WILL NOT HAVE YOU CONSUME MY ENTIRE BEING. FUCK YOU! I’m a sexy talented beautiful radiant sweetheart, and I deserve to SHINE!”

And I go outside or I do something or I call someone or I play something or I do something stupid or I eat something or I put music on really loud or I cuddle my toes in my hand and give myself a foot massage, even when the rest of me is hating what I find or what I hold… Because even if I can hardly feel the joy or comfort or reassurance or love that the action is bringing, I know that it is lighting a flame again. And even in those moments when I can’t feel the spark that sets this flame going, I know it is always there. By doing these things my body seems to just know how to do, and knows exactly when I need them, I’m giving that spark a voice…I’m letting it know, I’m listening. And in those moments, that’s the biggest gift I can give myself – to listen to my heart opening, and the love that ALWAYS sits there, and to resist the urge to cling onto the hate that’s flying around my system. In those moments, I realise my stubbornness is my spark.

Even when I overdosed, I listened to that spark – that spark was the one that saved my life. That’s the spark that made the call that brought me help. So, even in my darkest of days, my stubbornness and the spark is a bright old motherfucker and it stepped in to save me. And for that I am so grateful. For that, I thank my stubbornness.

If I can do that on that day, on the day I overdosed, I trust my stubbornness and my spark will do it – will be there – every other day of my life, too. And that’s something I am slowly learning I can trust and rely on. Something that offers Letting Go be an option.

Phew.

Healing is…

Allowing yourself to feel all your feelings – somatically, emotionally. And allowing them to come in the roller-coaster-like way they often do. Allowing tears to fall, and then laughter to follow. Allowing grief to swamp and then joy or playfulness to lift. Allowing your critics a back-seat on your journey towards deep self love and self compassion. And allowing them to be there but know you haven’t done any wrong, because the critics are never gonna completely go anywhere…motherfuckers.

Healing is, allowing for it all.

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The power of touch

I just read this article on Elephant Journal about the healing power of touch in yoga, and it resonated so much. I noticed, for a while, my yoga teacher was the only person that I would let touch me…except for hugs with friends. But even those were done with a shut-down-ness going on inside. In yoga, I felt able to be open and be held and be nurtured…there was a slight resistance but never enough to make me shut down completely and pull away. And it felt more physical – like a physical, defence, reaction, but not one I needed anymore. And almost all of me, was able to know that.

Still a part of me feared it, but I think a large part of this fear was the fear of vulnerability, the fear of falling apart, the fear of her then stopping and leaving and moving to someone else’s mat…I think I knew I was safe. To be honest, even when I felt slightly defensive, I still couldn’t get enough of it! I never felt like she came over to my mat enough. I often found myself asking questions and asking her to demonstrate or help me with something, even though I kinda could freestyle and find my way…I just wanted her support and her nurturance. I may as well have it if it is there, I always thought, rather than battle on how I used to.

It felt beautiful to read this piece to realise that is what was happening – I was healing. I really miss yoga and I really miss those classes but because of my back, I haven’t been since the summer. Fuck. But also, what’s weird – and I think incredibly normal – is I kinda feel like my journey with that class is on a temporary break. I need something new. I need a new place to take my body and stretch and explore my soul, and reach my toes.

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Something I notice, on the subject of healing and touch, is how it is so important for me to regain trust with myself…to regain, and find, the trust for human touch through my own. I give myself cuddles. I explore my body. I hold my body. I stroke my arms, my legs. I offer myself gentleness and love, boundaries and strength. I offer myself the whole package. And I don’t hold back, and I listen to the ‘no’ that comes from inside sometimes. I sit with my inner girl and I tell her she is safe, as I hold myself tight.

As someone who has continued the abuse I received as a child, so strongly and so destructively in my adulthood, this feels so fucking healing. It feels like it just makes sense. In order to trust others, I need to be able to trust myself. In order to trust that people are safe, I need to know that I am going to protect myself and keep myself safe before I allow anyone else to touch me.

For ages I have felt such a massive resistance to body therapists. There have been a couple that I have worked with the last year and a half, who I have known before everything, too. They felt safe, but even with them, there was a deep sense of unsafety. I went from never hugging, never wanting anyone to touch me, as a kid and young adult, to a few years of a stint of total affection and hugging and loving it, to then shut down the last couple of years…but, to me, it kinda makes sense. This would happen as you’re healing, right? Wounds flare up and sit on your face until it’s time for them to soften, or until they simply just fade. That’s what I feel like has happened with the subject of touch. I long for it, I crave it, I desperately need it, but it also feels desperately unsafe. And so I honour that. Whereas before I would have powered on through, I listen to my body and my defences and what my little girl is saying, now. Before I didn’t know how…I didn’t know it was safe.

It feels like the utmost gift of self love, the action of holding myself. To love myself through physical contact, not just through actions or words, but through one of the most fundamental ways of showing affection – touchThese feel like beautiful, solid, and wholesome foundations on which to build a relationship based on trust, with others on again. And it’s happening…it’s definitely happening. Cuddles are coming back in fashion, slowly.

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Natures Medicine

Natures medicine

Nature has always been one of my closest friends. The relationship is based on a sacred sense of trust, companionship, understanding, unconditional love, respect, admiration, awe, and adventure. She’s been there my entire life. She’s witnessed all I’ve been through and all I continue to experience, and I have witnessed areas of her unfold around me, and experience all she continues to experience.

As someone who isn’t in touch with their family, and was never properly mothered, nature nourishes the parent within me and offers me a safe place to take my grief and allow parts of myself to heal. She reminds me I am part of the Earth’s family, and helps me feel a valid member of it too. When I don’t feel able to connect with anyone outside of me, I know I can with her. And at times of loneliness, when I feel like I am the only person in the world without a family or intimate relationship, my heart can still open to her. My heart knows the Earth is always with me, offering unconditional support and the opportunity to have my experience witnessed, without judgement.

The last five months I’ve spent the majority of my days tucked inside my bedroom because I’ve been – and still am – recovering from two slipped discs in my back. Fuck, it has SUCKED. This whole time, nature has been at the forefront of my mind. But she’s been there because she’s been missing. I think of her with an aching heart and feel a desperate grief. But also a crippling guilt. I have felt like I have abandoned my oldest friend, because – for the first time in my life – I haven’t been out, truly enjoying, her. And I haven’t been able to proactively support her. Instead, I have become addicted to screens. Nature always provided me with inspiration, comfort, reassurance and connection, but because I haven’t been able to be with her intimately and completely, this has temporarily been being provided through holding my i-phone…not the place I wanna try and get it all from. And not the place I CAN get it all from.

I have still connected with the Earth regularly throughout each day – through my window or in mindfulness meditations; lying on the grass outside in the garden; ritualistically; watching wild films; or simply from the birds, the stillness, the rustling trees, and the life, I can hear from my room. But this doesn’t cut it. Parts of me have felt neglected and almost forgotten. And I have noticed that a sense of being un-parented and totally alone has felt deeper than ever – I need my sacred time in, and with, the Earth. I need my relationship.

It has felt so easy to forget that my spirit is wild, too. So easy that I seemingly almost have. There have been creative ways I have made sure that I haven’t lost this wild spark completely, but it’s been fucking hard – my heart and soul needs nature’s wild spirit in order to keep it alive in me. I need the chance to be in nature’s magic and beauty, every day. I need the playfulness, the vibrancy, the aliveness she offers, as well as the stillness and the beauty that I can connect with when just lying in bed.

My body, as well as my psyche, has been aching for more. It’s ached for physical contact with her. Without my body moving with the Earth, in the way I have always known, I feel painfully lost. My compassionate mind-body connection that I was beginning to cultivate, has felt cut-off and replaced with one of frustration, hate and distance – my body has felt foreign. In nature, it feels like mine. I remember my body again. I feel like I’ve come home – within me and around me.

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The times my back has begun to mend and I have managed to get out into nature, even if to just cuddle a tree in the nearby park or lie on the grass and gaze at the sky or a quick swim in the icy sea, my pain has dissolved. Or I have been able to sit with it and offer it my compassion and my breath. The health that has felt a million miles away during my time in bed begins to come back immediately – my strength starts to flood my system, my body feels held, and my mind feels vibrant and open again. Parts that were seemingly forgotten, greet me like an old friend. They just needed nourishment.

I remember someone telling me that in times of struggle, we get insights into what we need…it couldn’t feel truer. I have always known I need my time with nature like I need my food, but this experience of being so confined to my bed and unable to move with her in the ways I have always known, has given me a deeper and more intimate insight into this need – I now know what happens when I don’t get it. I get depressed, anxious, and so lost. I feel ungrounded and out-of-my-self, and my imagination and inspiration wilts. And as for screens – they have been nourishing but they have also been incredibly draining and disconnecting. I know excessive time with them, just ain’t me.

To have had this experience and to have been feeling all these feelings has been incredibly hard, but it has also shown me I am human. A wild human. And by being human, wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I am part of the rest of the Earth’s family. The family in which we all, unconditionally, belong.

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The storybook of fault

The concept that things aren’t my fault, feels beyond foreign. (Things, as in, everything and anything that goes wrong, or is hard in my life and my life around me.) Like, the fact that it could even be something I need to ‘work on’ feels so seemingly impossible that I can barely type it. It’s a concept that, before therapy, I didn’t even realise I believed…I just thought it was true. It wasn’t even in my awareness as a thought/thought stream, I had. I wasn’t even aware I was thinking it.

It was, and still often is, the norm that fuels my greater belief system about my daily life.

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I then suddenly get moments like I did just now, that leave me in floods of tears. The latest whirlwind of critic chatter in my head, bombarding me with shit about all that’s going on and the theories he has about it all, came to a head. Imagine he was on a treadmill at the Gym For Inner Critics…well he whacked up the speed higher and higher, and then fell on his face. Bam.

The theory that its all my fault is the undercurrent to his story. I hadn’t realised. Sometimes the belief pops up, and I see its face – kinda like a seal in the ocean, merrily playing around beneath the surface and then suddenly you catch a glimpse of its head. That’s how this belief feels. Once in a while, it shows its head and it lets me read its story.

So today when I caught sight of its head and the story book in its hand, I realised that this belief has been bopping along to my inner critics music, and fuelling the fire. The idea that this is all my fault. That I’m not doing enough. That I could be doing more. That I have made my back happen. That I am continuing to make it worse. That the fact it’s not getting speedily better, is my fault. The fact that my body is just like this…the fact that it is how it is, is my fault. It’s because I’m wrong, I’ve done something wrong, or I’ve not done enough. That the fact I still haven’t got a permanent home, is my fault too. The fact that my emotions seemingly run the show, is my fault. The fact that my life looks like it does, and the fact that I struggle feel like I’m keeping afloat, is my fault too. I am (supposedly) the one to the blame for it all.

Fuck, keeping afloat feel like hard work. I’ve got a complete arsehole yelling at me in my inner ears, and this core belief has a really old storybook in its hand. One that wouldn’t be published anymore. Anyone would feel like shit with that going on in their head. Taking simply just the body stuff, the concept that that isn’t something to do with me, and that I still deserve love with it going on, is (almost, note the almost) beyond me.

In mid-whirlwind of booming critical chatter, the beliefs head popped up and I burst into tears. I hadn’t realised this story, this metaphorical seal, this core belief, had been running the show. So I wrote this, below. I wrote this to myself, I wrote this to my little girl, and I wrote this to you:

It’s not your fault.

It’s not my fault.

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Growing up in and with abuse, it’s a well known fact that as a kid you absorb it all and believe it’s you. You believe it’s your fault and you believe that because of you, the abuse is happening. So as you get older, this naturally carries over with you, and spills out into parts of your life. I had no idea just how much it is part of my life and my beliefs and what I say to myself and what I think I believe. I believe I don’t deserve support and connection and love because it’s my fault that I’m in the situation I am. It’s my fault I’m needing, and to need is not okay…(I am now begging to differ). I believe and tell myself that I’m a fuck up and I’m a mess because of something I’ve done, or something I haven’t done – and could be doing, but am not. I tell myself these things almost all the freakin’ time.

It’s such a massive concept, the idea that it isn’t true – it isn’t my fault, I didn’t make it happen. I still feel like I’m getting to grips with the idea that this is just a belief…and that it’s even a part of me. It leaves my mind a bit blown. But one thing I do know is that one day, I’ll know – and truly believe – it wasn’t my fault. And it isn’t my fault now. It really, really, isn’t. I held myself and told myself that, softly. I still hold a puzzled frown, and I can still feel my insides squirm at this concept, but there is a gap in my heart that’s open and willing to take this as truth.

That’s the gold dust.

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We are animals

I just saw this article and it broke my heart. But it has also baffled me and brought me a massive whack of connection with the natural, animal, world. Seeing this Orangutan injured – in the photo below – and so clearly in pain and terrified, breaks. my. heart. beyond words. I want to reach into the photograph and stop its suffering. And the fact I can’t, leaves me feeling helpless.

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But when I see how it’s lying, I realise that that’s how I lie when I’m crying in therapy. I lie on my side at the moment (because of my back being sore) and when I cry, I cover my face with my arms up, exactly like this animal. And I cry like that by myself too. It makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like I’m protected when I’m feeling big feelings, or feeling scared. Realising, and seeing, this, blew me away.

It’s overwhelming beautiful but overwhelming tragic, as I look at the photograph and see this animal doing it too. Because we’re the same. Us humans, the animals, the earth.

I feel blown away by how we’re all so connected. We’re humans but we’re animals. And that’s why cruelty like this is just even more wrong. It would be wrong if we weren’t animals, but we are and by doing this to them, we are doing it to ourselves. By hurting animals, we are hurting ourselves. And by hurting the earth, we are hurting ourselves too.

I feel livid and full of sorrow. But I also feel grateful for people being able to show these things on the media, otherwise we would never know it goes on. And I know that there is a shed load more shit we don’t see, but know is there.

I had no idea the palm oil production was so destructive, and for that I feel ashamed. And I also feel a deep, deep, concern because the destruction keeps happening. It’s in these moments I am grateful I eat a Paleo style diet, because I don’t eat products pre-made. Not that I did before this anyway, or rarely have I ever in my life. It may sound hypercritical because I’m still eating meat, but health-wise I have decided I need it – and I really do. And my sources are organic – and when I can, local. I have made peace with this, almost. I can’t shed all the guilt but I have learnt to shed a lot of it.

We need more photographs like this, because photographs like this open up a place inside ourselves that makes us feel connected. And by feeling connected, we can feel love. And by feeling love towards something or sometime, we naturally want to protect it. We protect those we love.

Get your shit together Palm Oil producers, this is far from okay.

I’m meant to know…that I am home.

I’m meant to be upright.
I’m meant to be moving.
I’m meant to feel blood in all of my system.

I’m not meant to be lying,
and screaming from inside.
I’m not meant to be lying there,
wondering how I got left behind.

I’m not meant to hold my energy
as a stranger,
I’m not meant to leave notes for myself,
reminding me I’m not a stranger.

I’m not meant to feel distant,
from the entire human race.
I’m meant to feel connected,
and like I have a place.

I’m meant to feel a sense of living
inside my weary chest.
I’m meant to be using my body
at it’s ultimate and its best.

I’m meant to
– most of all –
have inside of me,
A sense of purpose
and belonging.
I’m meant to have still,
inside of me,
a sense of everything
and a sense of nothing.

I’m meant to have the sense of creating,
a future of everything
I continue to dream.
I’m meant to have everything
I continue to feel.

And I’m meant to know
that I am whole.

I’m meant to know,
That I am me

I’m meant to feel
that I am strong.

And I’m meant to feel
that I am home.

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Get lost

This is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers this morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth, what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something will eventually happen.”

– Joseph Campbell

I loved this quote, this morn. I spend so much of my time either lost in my world, with a strong tug of guilt because I should be ‘ON IT’, doing something else or doing something productive. Or I spend a lot of my time ‘ON IT’ but not actually really getting anywhere, and being too afraid to settle inside myself out of fear of losing my grip on the present. So I kinda feel like I don’t fully go anywhere – there’s always a part of me tugging for the grass on the other side of the pond I’m swimming in. I always feel stressed.

By drifting into this room, this sacred place Campbell talks about, where I don’t know what anyone owes anyone or what I owe myself, I am so afraid of disconnection. I’m afraid of failing because I’m not paying attention. I’m afraid that I’ll lose the person I could be, because I’m drifting away from clear reality.

When in actual fact, I reckon the opposite actually happens – by creating that sacred space and that sacred time, I can have the refuelling and the energising inspiration, and independence, that I so desperately need. That my soul so desperately needs.

Instead I just wear myself out, constantly trying and constantly being a little-bit-alert. Agh.

That is hypervigilance and that is trauma. But it is safe to let it go, or purely to notice it. The best days are the days where I lose myself, because when I come back, I always get things done. I always know I’m safe. Life has a funny way of looking after me, but trusting that entirely, is difficult. But trusting it a little bit seems do-able…more realistic. So I’ll aim for that. And I’ll aim to allow myself to drift and not come back until my soul has been filled with the adrenaline of inspiration and the quietness and calm of solitude, and peace away from the attachments and the responsibilities, and the worries. I’ll take myself there, please.

I can lose myself for a minute and find this peace within myself, so maybe that’s what I need to aim for too – not the big twenty minutes hit. Small steps for starting.

When I connect deep into myself and find the sacred place in there, the connection that comes awakens everything and brings me back home. Trusting this is where the magic happens, trusting this is where I can find me, trusting that this is the roots of productivity, is where I wanna be. And where I hope I’m going.

Trusting that by not being ‘on it’, I am actually more on it. This feels scary to me, yet I know it’s 100% true.

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One of my most fave films – 180 degrees south, watched last night and this morn. Talk about nourishment, and inspiration, and a sacred space.