Still Wheel Walking…

Once again I’m looking back at the empty vista between this post and the last, trying and – dare I say it – succeeding to not feel guilty. It helps knowing that the emptiness of this blog is not a sign of boredom or a lack in creativity but instead a symbol of just how busy life has been lately! New opportunities have been blossoming in all directions and I am quietly confident that a fruitful harvest is on the horizon. That said, we still have Midsummer to pass through and enjoy before I start measuring that so, in the spirit of sunshine, positive energy and all this creativity and growing, here’s a round up of the new colours and experiences filling my time right now:

My Tiny Wheel Walker is growing day by day and blossoming before my eyes into a small person. No longer a babe in arms he now requires lots of playtime and patience as he builds on his knowledge of himself and the World. It is a fascinating process and I feel honoured to be walking alongside him and getting such a great view. Each day brings a new challenge, a new skill, a new smile and I am called upon to watch, hold, handle and guide him as he journeys through his ever-expanding range of activities and experiences.

It is exhausting.

It is exhilarating.

I have never felt more lost and more found silmyltaneously.it breeds a heady mix of enthusiasm and abject panic that I simply can not put into written words (yet). Writing feels too static to capture all that he is and all that he is gifting me with as the accomplice in his grand schemes (of living, learning, growing). I get a sense that the written word and I may have a more piecemeal relationship for some time to come as my primary focus remains (as it should, for now) on my son’s journey through life and my own journey through motherhood. Too many people have told me that time will steal these precious moments and he’ll be grown all too soon; I don’t intend to miss a thing.

That said I have been growing myself, although sometimes its easy to forget with this brain full of nappies, nursing and new toys.

My Celebrant work is putting out feelers, pushing out branches and blossoming them tender new leaves. Bookings for the year ahead are starting to manifest and I am so excited and deeply humbled to be sought out to perform such beautiful work. Already I have the an outdoor wedding in Edale to look forward to and the possibility of more lurking in my inbox. Fragments of celebration and ceremony start to filter into my thoughts and it seems the only words to flow easily onto paper are those intended to be spoken in ceremony and I am bubbling with that feeling of wellness that comes when you know you’re doing the work you were meant for.

I am still holding space for seasonal celebrations, with Beltane now past and Midsummer on the horizon. Still joyfully creating time and place for people – friends both old and new – to gather and appreciate our beautiful World and the turning year. Still finding time to shape thoughts and notions about each festival in what I hope is a coherent way. Still blessed to be sharing it all in Hadfield and New Mills (see the home page for upcoming dates).

One place the sharing seems to have stopped is here; those of you with a keen eye will have noticed that the Markings and Musings series’ have disappeared. But fear not! These articles are not gone for good they are simply transforming, becoming part of a new project due to start this Autumn. (hint: if you enjoyed our Online Imbolc event then this will be for you!)

This new project is taking time, energy and brain space all of which used to be used to populate the contents of this blog more deeply. Now those resources are being redirected but I promise they are being put to good use. I’m really excited to share the fruits of that labour in a few months time.

The Wheel still turns and I turn with it. Sometimes it is obvious, other times the journey seems to have stalled, but like any growing thing Life needs these (seemingly) quiet periods to bloom as beautifully and effectively as possible. Looking forward to seeing what the coming season reveals.

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Beating the blueprint (or how not to manage your life in some not-so-easy steps)

I always thought I was a master at managing my expectations.

Since my teenage years, I worked hard to calculate the expected outcome of any big change or life event and how this would affect me and my life . On the outside this was a defensive mechanism; allowing me to prepare for the worst and impliment any damage control. Inside there is a slimier, more self-satisfied purpose: allowing me to revel in all the expected greatness and good that said event would surely achieve.

My carefully constructed expectations helped me build a path towards enlightenment; ticking off the steps to being the ‘best’ version of me I could possibly be.

At least, that’s what I thought I was building.

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In fact I was creating a cage; its bars made of polished pessimism and perpetual dissapointment. I was planning out the shape of my future and leaving no room for actual creativity and growth. All the magic moments likely passed me by because I was too busy bemoaning the loss of my carefuly constructed blueprint. There’s little room for happiness in a life so very ‘well’ managed.

It is so easy to forget that we are not seperate beings but an active part of Nature’s cycles and as such there is no amount of ‘managing’ that can be do a better job than She. That the term exists in our language – ‘man-aging’ – is a testament to our Human arrogance and a profound disconnection from (and some might say fear of) Her.

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It is little surprise then that when I tried to apply such foolhardy notions of control to two of the most natural experiences in my life – Birth and Spirituality – I came away baffled, bamboozled and downright disappointed; about ready to shred the blueprint and go banging on the door of some metaphysical middle manager who had apparently read it all wrong and royally screwed up all my gloriously well-crafted expectations.

But I didn’t*. Instead I took a breath, took a big, big step back and did that thing that I realise I’ve been shy and wary of my whole life… I looked at me, as I am, in the moment. Just me; with no blueprint, no scale to measure up against.

And what do I see?

I see confidence where once there was constant concern for how I was percieved, whether I was understood. And not that cheap, oily, plastic brand of confidence that they write about in teen magazines, but the real, soul-deep certainty that you are who you are and damn if that isn’t someone worth the oxygen and floor space they’ve been assigned.

I see strength, displayed in ways I could never have predicted. It may not have been strength enough to push out my well-fed 9lb baby, after 15hrs active labour, without a little medical assistance… but it is a strength that has allowed me to keep him well-fed, to hold him close and watch him thrive and to feed, feed, feed for entire days on less than 4 hours sleep.

And somehow still love him at the end of it.

I see determination in my rabid-dog readiness to fling a heavy vase at that skeevy stranger’s head if he goes near my husband or my boy one more time.

This coming from the girl who has never said boo to a goose (or any other wildfowl for that matter).

Above all I see truth; that elusive benchmark I have always reached for but often felt unable to hold on to in the face of peer-pressure or the unforgiving harshness of modern reality.

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I live a life brightened every day by my commitment to a spiritual path, walking the Wheel and holding an awareness of the awe and beauty of it all close to my heart. You’d be hard pressed to fit me into a box or under a label (even Pagan doesn’t feel quite right anymore) but that no londer feels like a lack. I wear my green spirit proudly and kindly and I do my best to let it colour all the moments of my day. It’s then that I realise that me, my life and this World are so, so beautiful.

Of course sometimes I fail. I find myself reaching for the blueprint over and over again; nervous habit. But there is a steadiness in me now that is perhaps age, wisdom, woman-ness or motherhood – or a combination of them all -that allows me to see past the supposed-sacredness of those expectations. To meet the gaze of Mother Nature head on (seeing a glimmer of my self there in those fathomless eyes) and to keep tearing strips from it until one day it will be gone. Then there will be no plan, nothing to manage, just a handful of confetti to throw in celebration.

Free at last.

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*Okay, maybe I did, for a little while but I’m over it now and feeling the good flowing ju-ju. I’m enlightened I tell ya!

Photo credits:
1) culturedecanted.com
2) Jokeroo
3) K.Tomlin
4) K.Tomlin

Personal Transformation

I had a conversation recently with a fellow celebrant about why people celebrate the seasons. She felt that as well as honouring the cycles and seasons of the World it was vital to include personal work/transformation within the ceremonies she undertook. To utilise ceremony without the intention to grow and change oneself or the World was – for her – somewhat meaningless. To raise such power and connection and not make use of it in a transformative way was a waste.

I understood where she was coming from and have to admit that most of the seasonal ceremonies I hold include some aspect of personal development work within them; often in the form of a meditation, pathworking or a simple act such as setting goals or intentions. And as readers will know from my Musings, I often expound on how each season can be interpretted as part of our mental/emotional landscape and how we might use the seasonal energies to help ourselves in some way.

I include these aspects because I know they are often expected and because they are a good way of reaching out to the individual in a group setting. Allowing a person the time and space to consider how the season is living within them is an important part of all Walk The Wheel circles and I don’t see myself backing away from these acts of personal transformation anytime soon.

 

That being said, when I work individually – connecting and celebrating the seasons with just myself and the World – I find this self-help aspect a little uncomfortable. In fact, sometimes, it feels downright wrong. This has a lot to do with my relationship with Flow and my desire to trust more. I have never considered myself fatalistic and yet in recent years I have come to honestly believe that the World knows and offers what is best for me and that I am better off working on trusting that and following my intuition than trying to mould and shape myself into a specific shape or way as I see fit.

This trusting is very difficult and can be interpretted as ignorance, laziness or a refusal to accept responsibility for oneself. And perhaps for some people a ritual or ceremony conducted without a transformational intent is just that. I’m not sure I agree.

 

I firmly believe that celebrating for the sheer joy and pleasure of celebrating is enough! More than enough in fact it is vital; as a way of reconnecting to the Land and the Web of Life that we are all of us on this planet a part of. Through celebration we acknowledge our place in the cycles that balance and control all Life which in turn encourages us to be more aware and live more mindfully.

My favourite part of a Walk The Wheel circle is often near the very start, when people share aspects of the season that they have noticed over the previous week. These insights are always so personal and yet so totally universal that they create connection and unity without any real effortbeing undertaken. And perhaps that is where why I don’t relish as much the transformational work that comes towards the end; because in order for it to be truly effective we must draw into ourselves and away from the others in the group. This is not what I’m looking for when taking part in group celebration or ceremony.

 

But why then do I avoid transformational work when I celebrate alone and don’t have to worry about drawing away from other people? Well for starters I don’t like the idea of drawing away from the World in order to find or fix something inside myself. When I am celebrating I am always trying to be with Life, as it is in each exact moment. This, for me, is the easiest way to celebrate and far more important than changing myself or even trying to change the World.

I trust that the World has the power and knowledge it needs to grow and develop as necessary and I dare to believe that my Spirit and my Self can and will do the same thing if I give them the chance. I feed them and encourage them to do so by deepening my connection to Life and its power and its knowledge and I do this through honouring and celebration; anything else feels a little too close to ego and a little too much like trying to control the Flow.

 

That said I know that we all have our own needs and wants and ways and I am in no way trying to claim that my way is right and that my fellow celebrant was wrong. We are doubtless all right and all working towards the same end, just using slightly different lexicons and slightly different maps. In fact I am grateful to her for sharing her needs and opinions because they have helped me to clarify my own.

 

Personal Transformation

There is magic in every moment, in every being, in every thing.
By choosing to celebrate this magic I hope to draw some of its power and potency into my life.

What Life then does with that power I do not try to control.
I trust that by loving and celebrating and honouring I will change and grow.

Silently, inevitably;
Like rivers and mountains and tall trees.

Transformation is not something that happens because of me, but in spite of me.

My role is to allow it, accept it and explore it with curiosity and trust.

Edges

I’ve been trying for a while now to write a post about flow; explaining what it means to me and how I believe it plays into my life. There are numerous attempts sitting in my drafts folder but none ever seemed to express what I was really trying to say.

This morning it occured to me that perhaps I can’t tell you about flow without first talking about edges.

This past weekend, working on creating ceremonies with a lovely group of people in Matlock, we were all encouraged to try new things and adopt roles and responsibilities we aren’t usually attracted to. A lot of people took up the challenge admirably and in the debrief after our group Lammas ceremony, many people commented on how uncomfortable but empowering it felt to be pushed up against their edges; the parts of themselves they weren’t confident or certain of.

It is neccessary of course to sometimes meet and push against our edges if we are ever to learn and grow, otherwise we remain safe within our comfort zone and never expand beyond that. For some the comfort zone is enough but many of us find ourselves becoming restless and disatisfied if we aren’t able to test our edges every now and then.

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It can be a painful and difficult process though, meeting and testing those boundaries that we have created for comfort or safety’s sake. It is always best to be in the right situation before pushing certain edges; particularly those that challenge you on a deeply personal or emotional level. You do not have to be in this process alone, much learning can be done surrounded by the support of friends, family or even a group of like-minded individuals who are holding space with you. A meditation class, a crafting workshop, a walking group, a group of celebrants… all can offer safe ground for you to test your edges knowing that there is a structure surrounding you that will hold whatever comes of it and bring you back to your Self at the end.

Often however we are forced to face our edges alone, because lets be honest most of us don’t enjoy or feel comfortable with exposing ourselves in such a vulnerable way around other people. There are ways to manage this process safetly – including, but not limited to, being in a safe place, arranging to have contact with someone else at some point afterward and always, always, always being kind to yourself – but often we find ourselves pressed against our edges when we least expect it.

Mood swings are supposedly a woman-only domain but anyone who has lived with a man for any length of time will know that isn’t true! We are all human beings, all feeling and complex creatures, who can be triggered into an unexpected place at a moment’s notice. When I find myself pressed suddenly against an edge – often feeling overwhelmed by everything I have to get done in a day or a sense of low self-confidence – my immediate response is to batten down the hatches. I surround myself with the pre-conceived ideas I have of who I am, what I am and what I should be. This feels like a safe and sensible response; by reaffirming who I am I can better face my discomfort. But in truth by doing this I harden my edges making them rigid and even more painful to press up against.

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What I should be doing is an old chestnut of advice that I’m sure we’ve all heard (and railed against!) at some point: Letting Go.

Letting go can feel impossible when the edges are that close and feel that impenetrable. I used to think it meant letting go of the feelings I was holding within myself – the doubt, the anger, the fear – and as you will probably know this is incredibly difficult when you’re that tightly bound within yourself. What I have only recently come to understand is that it is the edges themselves we should be letting go of. All those ideas about who and what we are and should be in that moment – good and bad – need to be released; only then do we have the space to feel and finally flow through what is happening to us and out of the other side.

I have always assumed that my edges are the thing that will save me at moments when I feel lost and uncertain. Now I realise that they are actually the thing containing me, holding me back and causing me pain as I press up against them with all my human, feeling might. What I need most at times of uncertainty is the total openess of possibility to be and do anything. To let go of my edges and free my Self to be whatever I need to be in those moments. Without the edges I can ebb and flow with the feelings, allowing them to carry me where they need to until finally they run their course and desposit me – safe and sound – on the sandy shore of my Self. When I manage this (and believe me it’s not always!) I find myself refreshed and relaxed, not bruised and broken from the constant battle with my own edges.

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By learning to flow emotionally, allowing my feelings to shift and dance and weave through the whole gamut of human emotion without trying to control them with edges, we come more into line with the nature of the World itself; which ebbs and flows to its own rhythms leaving space for everything and anything to occur. It has no edges, not really, so why should we?

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Photo credits:
1) Katherine Dowson, My Soul
2) ephotozine.com
3) 3drecursions.com
4) Huffingtonpost.com

A ‘One World’ Welcome

It’s been a busy busy Midsummer this year and only now, over two weeks after the Solstice can I say I’ve fulfilled all my commitments for the festival. Not that I’m complaining, as I said in a previous post, it’s been a while since my energy and action have felt so in tune with the energy of the season and I’m pleased to have taken full advantage of all that bright, summer enthusiasm. But after attending The One World Festival at High Lea Park in New Mills yesterday I can finally say I’m done and have a little time to rest and eagerly await the harvest I have been tending.

Walk The Wheel’s introduction to New Mills has been a great success and I loved celebrating with those who made the first event we held at the beautiful Springbank Arts Centre on the day of the Summer Solstice. Although the posters and advertising went out a little later than I’d planned we still have a lovely group in attendance and everyone brought their own unique Midsummer energy with them. I am hopeful that the next event in New Mills – celebrating Lammas on Saturday 2nd August – will be even bigger and even better, particularly after meeting so many more New Mills folk yesterday.

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It was my first time attending this long-running local festival which celebrates “peace, the environment, cultural diversity, community, and world development”. I have to say the organisation was fantastic, the park was beautifully kept and the weather better than we could ever have expected (I think I may have tanned a little!). All the stewards were incredibly friendly and so were the attendees. I had so many inspiring conversations with new and people that I came home feeling all a-buzz with sunshine and human spirit. My heart was full to bursting after hearing so many people express their pleasure that Walk The Wheel is making a regular home in New Mills. So – for them and all who attend in future – I am determiend to make all our future celebrations there as joyful and inspiring as the festival was.

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So if you are one of those One World Festival goers who has found your way here from a leaflet or a remembered Google search then a hearty and happy welcome and a HUGE thank you for making me feel so welcome in your community! I am very much looking forward to walking the wheel with you all. 🙂

And to those who have been walking with me a while or who might come upon this page sometime in the future then warm welcome to you too. As I told many people I met yesterday, it is the people that make Walk The Wheel so special and their sharing of inspiration and themselves that makes it such a joy to hold and to attend.

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Bright blessings to all!

Photo credits:
1) and 3) by Visit New Mills on Facebook
2) by Huw Jarvis on Facebook

Copyright

All written materials and images, unless otherwise stated, are property of Kelly Tomlin 2016.
We gather together to Walk the Wheel; to share with one another and be inspired.