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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Checking in and Letting Go

This is an unusually speedy post to say I’m still here, the Wheel is still turning and I am most certainly walking with it!

So much is happening in life at the moment and I have been blessed with numerous real life opportunities to meet with people, explore the chaning seasons and our changins selves and to celebrate those changes and transitions through conversation, laughter, ceremony and song. I feel like something significant has shifted in the last week or so. I can’t quite put it into words yet but it is exciting and inspiring… and of course the baby bump keeps on growing…

Lots of do and lots lots more to be grateful for. I am sure some of it will come out into more coherent thoughts in the coming days but for now I am off to Norfolk for a lovely break with the in-laws in a aprt of the country I have never visited. I’m excited to experience my favourite season in a new place… I can’t promise photos but likely some word pictures to follow.

Until my return here is a short something that snagged in my mind a couple of weeks ago and had continued to sit comfortably and courageously in my soul…

*

A Lesson from the Trees

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The Equinox is just behind us and I can almost feel the Wheel clicking into its new groove. Autumn is fully upon us, mornings are inevitably misty and cold and I am waiting (im)patiently for the leaves to start turning in earnest. I look to the trees every day on my walk to and from work and whenever I get out into the parks and outdoor places otherwise, remembering why at this time of year they are my greatest teachers.

Their beauty is unblesmished by the change in temperature; in fact some are still resolutley, summer-green. And yet…

…their energy, their sense, the feel of them tells another story.

I ponder, reach out and taste this difference; wondering what has changed that I can’t yet see. Slowly I begin to realise that although the trees still look mostly the same they have in fact begun to draw deep into themselves; some are already deep in their root hearts, retreating from the busy World above. They have accepted the turn of the Wheel with silent grace and acquieced to its encouragement to sleep, to dream…

They have let go.

Although their canopies are still full of leaves, those leaves are mere shadows of what they were scant weeks earlier. No longer do they hold the vibrancy and energy of life, growth and regeneration. They are empty, hollow; no longer vessles for chlorophyll and light, they now embody the memory of what has been.

Soon those leaves will fall away, no longer supported by the tree’s heart. They might fall quickly or slowly, gripped by wind or winding through air; but always they will fall with gratitude and with grace.

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And the tree will no doubt mourn their passing, but is not weighed down with grief or regret. It is not clinging to those leaves in desperation or fear of the supposed emptiness that lies ahead. Instead the tree has accepted – with its timeless wisdom and ease – the need to release all that has been. It has accepted this even before its leaves have started to fall.

And this – I realise – is what makes the trees of Autumn more beautiful and more striking than any others.

Although we don’t always recognise the exact moment of its happening (just as we don’t see the exact moment a tree loses all its leaves) letting go is a part of nature, a part of life and we achieve it in our soul before we see the result of it in the World.

When we finally realise the process is complete the shedding has already occured and we are revealed standing, strong and certain, in our new skin.

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That is the lesson I learned from the trees.

Photo credits
1) picturesinlivingcolor.wordpress.com
2) www.donnan.com
3) www.twelve22.org/blog/

A Very Inspiring Blogger

I recieved a comment on a recent post from a lovely lady over at another blog (which I’ll come to later) that said she had nominated me for a blogging award. I quickly realised this wasn’t one of those Pokemon-eqsue “out of all other bloggers I choose YOU!” awards, it was actually something rather more lovely.

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The Very Inspiring Blogger Award is passed from blogger to blogger, some might say like a chain letter, but I like to think of it as a thread of gratitude, sharing and connection. It links bloggers with similar notions and ideas together; but by similar I don’t mean people who agree. As the title suggests it is about linking people who inspire and that is one of the things I’m most passionate about. Inspiration – and people inspiring other people – is a big part of Walk The Wheel and is at the root of the sharing process it embodies at its events.

So I was really thrilled to find out someone out there in blogging land, who I had never met nor heard of, not only reads my blog but finds it inspiring. Inspiring enough that she picked me out alongside a handful of others to share with her readers and friends. That gave me a nice warm, proud feeling but it also excited me to think I could then do the same for bloggers I find inspiring…

 

So this is me saying a HUGE HEARTFELT THANK YOU to Julie over at Becoming A Family for gifting me with such an honour. She writes beautifully about creating a life and home for her two sons, alongside her husband. I am looking forward to getting to know her better in the coming months and I hope you might go and check her out too 🙂

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In order to fulfil my part of the ‘nomination acceptance’ I need to – in the spirit of sharing! – share with you a few facts about myself (which I have done at the end of this post). I also get to nominate and share with you some Very Inspiring Bloggers of my own.

They are:

A Diary Of A Mom – who shares her family’s journey with autism in a way that is open, heartfelt and full of love.

The Ditzy Druid – who shares her Druidic path and how it flows with her family in wonderfully clear and colourful snippets.

Beeswax and Broomsticks – who shares her journey through beautiful pictures formed in photographs and words.

Scene By Minerva – who shares regular updates of beauty caputred by her very talented eye on camera and inspires me to remember the beauty in the small things.

Drops of Awen – who shares snippets of thought and present and moment with such clarity that it can inspire ponderings for the rest of the day.

I hope by sharing them they will reach even more hearts to inspire and perhaps also enjoy knowing how appreciated they are.

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To finish I give you a few random facts, in no particular order:

* I decided I was going be an actress when I was 3 years old and was allowed to play the ‘Star’ in the school Nativity play because the original girl cast for the part was stuck at home with measles.

* I grew up surrounded by pets. One of my closest companions as a child/teenagers was my dwarf albino rabbit Mittons. I told that rabbit everything and he was the best listener I’ve ever known.

* I drink my tea with milk and two sugars despite the horrified look on most people’s face when I tell them this.

* I would rather travel in the UK than fly abroad… I hate flying.

* In my teens and early twenties I was (and still am) a Scaper. *bonus points to anyone who knows what that is… and doesn’t know me already!*

* I went to my second year Ball (/Prom) at University barefoot because I had no shoes to match the dress I was wearing.

* I got married last year to my wonderful husband on a glorious, sunny, May day. Our first dance song was a cover of ‘Feelin’ Good’ by Muse. I was wearing shoes for that one.

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The Art of Disconnection

dis·con·nec·tion

 [dis-kuhnek-shuhn]  

noun

1.

the act of disconnecting.
2.

the state of being disconnectedlack of connection

I’ve been disconnected from everything these past 10 days. The hubby and I were whisked off on holiday by the in-laws and we were thrown into a new Land, a new climate and a new routine which included no internet, no work and no decisions to make: bliss! But it also meant a lack of all my usual touchstones that connect me to the Land and to my Self: not so much fun.

I’ve spent years working with the Wheel and various ideals, notions, people and places, aiming to deepen and strengthen my connection to the World. In that time I’ve gradually developed a practise that helps me maintain that connection as much as possible (many aspects of which you’ll have read about here at the blog). A natural by-product of this process has been a deepening sense of Self awareness too. I have come to know my Self – my patterns, my drives, my feelings, my needs – in much greater detail than I once did and I have benefited from this knowledge by making better choices and finding greater opportunities in which I can thrive.

That said, the downside to this deepened sense of connection is the deepened sense of disconnection that is its mirror. Often it is triggered by external circumstances – a break in routine, a new location or a sudden turn of events – and I can become so caught up in reacting to the change that I don’t realise I’ve disconnected until after things have begun to settle. As I regain a semblance of normality I suddenly find myself filled with a strange emptiness; an itch inside that tells me something isn’t right. Over time I’ve come to know this as disconnection; the lack of a solid, stable awareness of my needs and truths. It quickly spawns sensations of panic, doubt and fear that it will never come back again; all of which combine to create a void of confidence and a great chasm of disconnection not just between me and my Self, but between me and the World as well.

In the moment I need it most, that sense of connection is lost to me on both fronts and the loneliness and helplessness it leaves can be downright debilitating.
When caught in the midst it seems impossible to break out of; no matter how hard I try to see beauty, to be mindful, to breath deep and open my awareness, all attempts feel fake and flawed (which of course only breeds more panic!). For what could be days I feel as though I’m drifting through life, locked in a perpetual video game or glued to the TV set, unable to turn away. I feel completely oblivious to the World as I once knew so well.

It feels like now is the time for me to give a smile and a wink and offer you the answer that I’ve known all along. I feel like I should offer you some sort of fix: “What I do to shuck off this slump in 5 easy steps!”.

But I can’t.
To be honest I simply don’t know.

But what I do know is this: no matter how strong the disconnection feels it always, eventually lessens, and the connections I so dearly value always come back… eventually. However, i must warn you, that they often don’t look the same.

A good friend said to me yesterday:

“Once you’ve reached a place of comfort and stability, then you’re ready for the next step, the next challenge. But in order to take it, in order to grow and develop further you have to let go of what you had; to make space for the new.” 

So perhaps I can’t tell you how to ‘get over’ disconnection. Perhaps I don’t want to.

Because maybe, just maybe disconnection is actually a space of creation. Disconnection is the place where new connections are waiting to be formed.

*
There’s lots of growth and change coming to Walk The Wheel in the coming days: watch this space for updates and announcements!

The Importance of Sharing

I just wanted to say thank you to all the folks who reached out to me after my last post.

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I am a rather private person by nature and also somewhat obsessed with appearing cool, calm and in control. So the thought of putting my worries, fears and inadequacies (as I see them) out into the public sphere feels frightening and somewhat crazy to my ‘logical’ head. However my heart knows that sharing is the only way we learn and grow and so I did, I shared and… voila! I have learned and I have grown.

Since then I have managed to pin down some rather illusive decisions and for the first time in a while I have what feels like a solid dream to be reaching for. Don’t worry, it’s still fuzzy enough around the edges to the Flow carry it and shape it as it will, but it is also clear enough that I can actually reach for it without feeling like I’m kidding myself.

 

I have been gifted with some rather precious gifts too, as a result of my sharing; gifts I never would have received if I hadn’t opened up and spoken my worries and woes:

 

* a very kind friend has given me her old laptop to use for work and stuff; this means I don’t have to wait 20 mins for a document to download (my current laptop is slooooooow!) and can actually get back to things like Twitter and blogging, safe in the knowledge that I won’t lose an hour to one tiny task. I can make progress!

* another friend offered me kind words when she shared some of her notions of me and (as they often do when coming from the outside) they lifted my spirit and gave me a confidence I struggle to find within myself.

* another friend shared her presence at an event I had organised that wasn’t as well attended as I’d have liked. She stayed with me through the allotted time and allowed me to test and grow and talk through my ideas without once pitying me or being embarrassed for me. A gift of strength, truly.

And so many people close to me, including the Hubby and family and friends, have gifted me things like hugs and smiles and moments of utter normality that made me laugh and helped me remember that no matter how big my struggles feel they are all just part of the Flow that is Life and will never be the be all and end all;  just a strip, a strand, a tributary that will eventually re-merge with the whole.

 

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Harakeke River Flow by Philly Hall

Sharing my fears has brought me to this place where – for the first time in a while – I feel like I might be in (some semblance) of control over where I’m going and what I’m creating. I have no doubt that Life has a curve ball lined up for me sometime soon but for now its enough to count my blessings and to revel in the magic of sharing; something which was at the foundation of this blog and all my personal work but has become a little lost under the pile of ‘other’ ideas and fancies.

 

It’s good to come back to what you know. And to be reminded that at our core, in our very deepest heart, we know exactly what we need to do. We just need to remember it…

 

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Or if in doubt, listen to Mr Spock 🙂



Photo credits:
1) Helga Wigandt
2) Philly Hall
3) pintrest

 

Heart vs. Head

As Walk The Wheel starts to spiral into bigger and more exciting things I find myself struggling with an unexpected quandary.

Our seasonal events started because I wanted to reacquaint myself with group celebrations and at the time they didn’t exist in my new home town. It also seemed like a good way to get out and about and meet new, possibly like-minded, people. It was a risk I grant you; I had only been around town for a little over 6 months and I was asking unknown people to come along and celebrate the seasons with me and share their own creativity and inspiration in the process. A big ask indeed but it felt right and as it turns out it was exactly what I needed to do, where the Flow* needed to go.

Many of the people that gathered around me in those early days have since become friends, colleagues and regular contributors to our events. We are also blessed with new faces at almost each event, which is very exciting and gives me hope that pursuing the path of seasonal celebration and related activities is what I need to be doing right now.

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This belief is, without doubt, based entirely on my heart and my intuition as opposed to solid, rational research; I haven’t been standing on the High Street with a clipboard I can assure you! This is both good and bad. I have learned over the past few years to trust these feelings and instinct with far more commitment than my mental logic and reason. The more I’ve done so the better things have turned out. But my inner pessimist, the one who used to make most of my decisions and still lurks around in the shadier corners of my brain, is just waiting for the first time my gut instinct leads me false, so it can crow and shame and cry ‘I told you so!’

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So what should I do?

Ignore the pesky pessimist and keep taking those risky leaps into the unknown? Or take a step back now the events and the scale are getting a little bigger (and a  little more serious) and start applying some hard logic and reason to cover my bases?

Reason dictates I should be spending my personal work days (as opposed to my paid work days at the cafe) focusing on marketing, funding, planning and networking; all the incredibly serious but vital things that events like mine need to take that step away from ‘a hobby’ and into ‘a living’. These are all things I have limited experience in so I should also be seeking out advice and help (and there’s a terrified part of me that fears that’s going to cost money I don’t have!).

But my heart, my gut, my instinct is reluctant. It would rather I spend my time outdoors, soaking in the sunshine and feeling the buzz of green flutter under my skin. It wants me to go for long walks and keep building on the relationship I’m building with this Land, through footsteps and song. It wants me to wake slowly in the mornings, ease myself into the day and follow my impulses to the tasks that most stir my attention; sometimes this is writing, sometimes it’s reading, sometimes it’s washing the pots! And it also wants me to take the time to craft and create ceremony, for myself and others; to fill my life with little moments of celebration, gratitude and mindful awareness.

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Is this enough? Will any of this help me craft a living or am I destined to be a hobby horse, eventually living off my Hubby’s hard work? Those shady shadows are trying to convince me that that way madness lies, madness and selfishness and lethargy… but my heart won’t have any of it! It is determined to drive me towards joyful, inspiring, exciting things; trusting that the other necessities will come.

 

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And I guess that’s what it comes down to; as much as I have experienced the power of trust and Flow I am still wary of doing something I enjoy and calling it work. I feel like I’m cheating the game, fudging my turn, about to be caught out at any moment. And not just by those around me, but by that shady character who dominates my darker thoughts; the one just waiting to catch me out and lord over my failure.

 

What do you think World? Is there an answer to this dichotomy or have I stumbled into the perpetual paradox of the self-employed? Answers in the comment box…

 

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(* I will get up a post on Flow; I promise! I’ve been meaning to for a good while now and there’s at least two drafts of it in my draft folder but.. the words just haven’t quite coalesced yet. I guess – ironically – I just have to wait for it to… flow…)

 

Picture credits:
1) quoteswave.com
2) somegyuindc.blogspot.com
3) godisheart.blogspot.co.uk
4) kaljamahalady.blogspot.com
5) datingasociopath.com

In The Green

I can hear her singing from at least twenty paces away. 

Her voice is shrill and shivery, the pitch impossibly high; not difficult to hear, just difficult to hold in my body and in my head.

The sound has a tugging quality. It wants to lift me off my feet and up into the sky and there’s a part of me that wants to do just that; to float up there and dance inside her quivering canopy. But I am very much aware of how grounded my feet are beneath me and this makes the tugging even more obvious, even more insistent and for a brief moment I wonder whether I will grow a few inches just from standing in this presence.

I watch her leaves dance, like all beech leaves do, with the same shivering intensity that is carried in her voice. She is joyful, of that there is no doubt, but there is an edge to that joy. Within all that pleasure there is a something more, something sharp and inescapable. As I stand at her foot and gaze upward, spellbound, I wonder if perhaps this song I am hearing is birthing pains.

With new leaves on each branch and twig,  forcing themselves out into the wide world, she is opening and stretching and creating non-stop; and on this day – this Beltane day – that growing energy must be at a peak and she has no choice but to release some of it.

So she sings.

And for a time I sing with her; standing beside her glorious trunk, letting my heart vibrate with the quivering high notes of her soprano. I can not hope to match it but I can swoop along beside it, sharing my own joy and fragility. She drops her register a few times, joining me at a lower octave and then we smile and sway our hips and roll together our earthiness, our creativity and our pleasure.

When I can take it no more, when I am full of her green and silver laughter and her glorious bluegrey light, I take a step away and slip out of the song. For a moment then I appreciate her beauty and say thank you. As I walk away I can hear her song continuing and have to fight to contain my laughter… but I do nothing about my broad Beltane smile.

 

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Today is Beltane and although Walk The Wheel won’t celebrate until Saturday I have found ways to celebrate for myself over the past few days. Yesterday I took myself out into the hills for a simple ceremony of my own. It was a wonderful experience with very little by way of tools; but when you’re surrounded by moorland and fresh air and reservoirs you want for very little anyway. There was ribbon to bind my wishes and rose petals to give thanks. It was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours engaging with the Land and acknowledging the turning season.

Since then I’ve found myself very receptive to a seasonal shift in energy over the last 24 hours. Now, whether this shift is actually in me or in the Land itself I honestly don’t know but I don’t think that’s too important. What is important is that, having performed a ceremony in honour of that seasonal change, I now feel awakened to its effects and can attest to some rather wonderful experiences as a result.

Beltane has always been my favourite festival on the Wheel for a variety of reasons. One is the Green Man, a folk figure;who is welcomed and honoured at this time. I’ll speak more about him in my upcoming Beltane Musings but it is his cheerful and playful energy that draw me to him the most. I find it terribly infectious and it seems to ooze out from everything around this time. All the green growing plants and trees, grasses and leaves, the blue sky, the bright sun, even the rainy grey skies seem to shed drops of rain that sparkle and stir with a spark of excitement, a vibrant energy.

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Walking home today, surrounded by the green, I was overcome with the need to smile and laugh and celebrate. Admittedly singing with trees can do that to you. But there’s something else too: I have this feeling that I’m in on some great secret, a secret I am sharing with the natural world. It’s not a secret that is hidden from anyone. It’s the kind of secret that is out there, in the open, accessible to everyone… if they want to see it. Thanks to my working yesterday and my awareness of the Wheel I’ve demonstrated I want to see it, so I do and it is glorious!

My wish is that more people might open their eyes and hearts to these secrets of the seasons; secrets that we speak of all the time in folk tales and folk traditions but that are often not connected to or taken seriously in modern life. Yet they are still as valid and still as vibrant as they have ever been.

The whole world is alive with bright, Beltane energy today! And so am I! I hope you are too.

 

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Photo credits
1) gardenposts.co.uk
2) nayleon.com
3) by Joe Wright, found at onlandscape.co.uk

Too Many Secrets

There’s a strange notion in our social consciousness that to make something happen or to make ‘magic’ you must keep your wish or will a secret.

You find it in our fairy tales and folk traditions, with heroes and villains often having to keep secrets that maintain their strength or magical ability. More recently it appears in many beginners guides to witchcraft or ‘practical magic’ (often of the neo-pagan kind). These books encourage clarity and determination in our intentions and desires and usually offer prettily worded scripts to help you in the early stages. This is good advice; of course your inner landscape needs to in line with your intent if you want to see something manifest, hence why we are told to ‘dream big dreams’ and ‘wish with all your heart’. Eventually though the books often urge you to work without words and to focus more strongly on internal/subconscious activity; this being the way to greater skill and thus success. But to focus exclusively on internal work disconnects us from the power and importance of our voice and our words in the outer World and the affect they have over on Self and on the reality we live in.

 

For a long time I clung to the notion that in order to successfully create anything I must keep it secret until it actually exists. As if, by putting my hopes and dreams into words, I risked their safety and eventual success. I grew up making many a silent wish upon a star and then, as a teenager, I began reading books – inspiring, important books – that broadened my mind and my possibilities but also reinforced this old idea; that my greatest strength would come from silent graft on the astral plane and not from sharing openly in the physical World. In fact I’m pretty sure I once read somewhere that sharing an idea or dream too early and to other  people actually disseminates the behind them energy likely causing it to fail.

Despite its good intentions this idea was holding me back and gradually eroding my trust in my own voice and in the listening ears and hearts of those around me. Somewhere deep inside an image was forming of a World that was out to destroy or steal my good ideas and my hard earned wishes and my only weapon against it was to turn inside and keep my words and wishes secret. Only then would I be empowered. Only then might I be able to make something a success. For a girl growing up (as so many do) with low self esteem and confidence issues this didn’t just seem logical, it felt right.

But of course it wasn’t, it was simply adding weight to an already debilitating struggle with social interaction and self image. By ’empowering’ my inner landscape I was losing faith in my ability to access and understand the World on the outside; something which I now count as one of my biggest sources of joy and inspiration. And my dreams and ideas weren’t making an awful lot of headway either because (as the ‘secret and safe’ idea fails to point out) the World they were made for didn’t know about them! Looking back into the (not too distant) past I almost mourn the lost chances and missed opportunities and advice that I didn’t access, because I never knew how to draw them to me.

 

I needed words. Real words. Spoken words. Words out loud. Words offered boldly to the Air with the same determination and trust that I held in my inner landscape. Because its all very well deciding to ‘do it alone’ with nothing but the power of your well-trained mind but the fact is that people aren’t mind readers and its people who will help you get to where you want to go.

To reach people you need to be with them, speak to them, offer them your words and ideas in neat little packages and let them play. I’m not saying you have to be a raging extrovert or an excellent conversationalist (I am neither of those), nor am I suggesting you give all your ideas away without some safety strings to tie them to you. But you do need to be able to speak about your dreams and wishes out loud if you want someone to help you achieve them.

In this World there is very little we can achieve on our own and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing (and goodness knows that’s a whole other strange social idea we could get into!). Last year I watched this amazing TED talk by Amanda Palmer called ‘The Art of Asking’ and it reminded me just that. It covers our difficulty as a species when asking for help and how we might benefit if we got better at sharing our words and sharing our loads; I’d urge you to give it a watch.

 

At the root of our ingrained need to keep our dreams a secret lies a common dragon: fear. We are afraid to lose what is ours, afraid to seem stupid if we do not achieve what we set out to and afraid to be judged on the things we want and the things we do. All these fears exist and are entirely valid experiences; I run through them all, regularly. But what I’m learning (slowly, carefully) is that the fear only exists because I let it, because I believe the old tale about the power of secrets. I believe that if I tell then the bad stuff will happen, why else have I been keeping secrets over every birthday cake I’ve ever had.

But what if I stop we believing that and instead take a chance on a different truth: Speaking dreams will make them come true.

I’ve already seen some evidence to support it.

I’m sitting at home, ploughing through Facebook, pondering on expanding events outside my local area. On a whim I send a message to a friend who lives in one of the areas I’m interested in. He immediately replies, we set up a meeting and after a nice chat over dinner he makes some connections and now I have a new venue to trial in the Summer.

*

It’s a quiet morning at work and the noise from the kids craft event upstairs is filtering down into the cafe.
A customer asks what’s going on and I tell her. “Do you do many things like that here?”
So I tell her; first about the current schedule and then, taking a deep breath I add on the two new ideas I’ve been toying with and considering sharing with my manager.
The woman’s face lights up when I mention one of them; her eyes are bright and her smile says ‘That sounds like my kinda thing’. As she leaves my belly is fluttering but my feet feel grounded and secure. I am joyful: she heard me and her smile has given me faith and confidence in these new possibilities. So tonight I’ll draft a schedule for my boss and see what happens…

 

Words are incredibly powerful things. They move us in ways we’d never expect; novels and poems are fine proof of that. Too often we forget the power they have on other people and even less often do we trust that power in the hands of another. But if we could find the strength to trust them, to awaken our voices and speak up and speak out then perhaps a few more dreams might start coming true.

 

 

When April Feels Like Christmas

I’ve just made my third cup of tea of the day.

The kitchen is in a state of organised disarray.
There’s dishes to be washed and put away and there’s not a lot of surface space left to actually make tea in the first place, but I managed.

It’s sunny outside.

Lots of cloud but no sign of snow; just a wind as brisk as the Arctic (especially at the top of rather tall Peaks) that makes you all the more grateful for the totally-seasonally-appropriate weather today.

The shadows are lengthening across the laminate floor and the light brushing our living room ceiling is golden and warm.

It makes the tea, the sofa and my mood in general as soft and sweet as maple syrup (which incidentally I had on my breakfast this morning).

 

It’s a Bank Holiday Weekend here in England and for the first time in a long time I’m not working during it.

A long time ago Bank Holidays and weekends would not be spent at work; they were enforced periods of time spent with family and friends, in the house or out and about, depending on your circumstance. The idea of going to work on these public holidays was (mostly) unheard of.

When I was younger, Bank Holidays were starting to be used by shops and pubs and public services as extra working days; which suited the people not working as it meant more leisure services were available for use. For the employees they were something of a bonus because working a Bank Holiday meant ‘Double time’; so, yes, you’d spend the day at work, away from family and friends (which lets be honest is sometimes preferable!) but your wage packet would be that much heavier. Okay then. Tit for tat.

Nowadays that incentive has been mostly taken away. Most places (even offices and businesses) are open all day, every day and employers no longer have the funds or the desire to reward their staff for missing out on valuable rest time. ‘Double time’ became ‘Time and a half’ became ‘a day in lieu’. Today, most people are lucky to receive even that for working a Bank Holiday weekend.

 

For my entire working life (until now) I have worked for companies who have expected me to work weekends, evenings and Bank Holidays as par for the course. No incentives (financial or otherwise) and no chance to decline them. No chance to put your family and leisure time first. I didn’t realise how much I missed having free weekends and Bank Hols until today, until right now even; sitting here, drinking tea on the sunny sofa and practically purring under my breath with peace and satisfaction.

It’s like Christmas come early.*

 

I spent yesterday evening in front of a blazing fire, eating good food, drinking the health of those I love and gazing at the beauty of the stars. 

Today I went walking up two of the three Peaks (Bleaklow and Higher Shelf Stones if you’e wondering) and caught my breath at the beauty and majesty of this Land that is my home.

I came home and cooked another meal for my Husband and friends, which we ate with gusto and polished off with thickly buttered bread and wedges of intriguing and exciting cheese (beer cheese, people, beer cheese!).

And now (as I’ve said) I am on the sofa; sated, softened and full.
The boys are playing a board game and we women are reclining in mutual silence.

The air is warm and easy, we are comfortably bubbled in joy.

And the kitchen is clean enough and the kettle is full and the cheeses have been gathered and wrapped in cling film in a way that only my mother could have done, surely.

And work and wages and time and incentives are all a million miles away.

 

I am more blessed than I know.

 

Bank Holiday Greetings everyone!

 

 

 

* And there is likely some irony there, what with Christmas being the other big Christian holiday alongside Easter (which is also this weekend)… but I’m too blissed out to find it.

 

Words Are Enough

A large part of my lifestyle and the ethos of Walk The Wheel is devoted to encouraging and deepening soulful connections to Life and the World we live in. My first instruction will always be to get out into the Natural World; there aren’t enough words to describe the positive and inspirational effects it has on our hearts and minds but I will never stop trying. That’s why I follow the Wheel in the first place and why I choose to live somewhere as close to the wild Land as I can.

That being said there are other ways we can experience that same sense of wholeness from within the (relative) comfort of our homes; and in a World where we are often overworked, underpaid and living in the midst of a concrete jungle being able to find moments of connection within our restricted circumstances is a vital part of survival.

 

You might think I am going to start declaiming the benefits of meditation or yoga-in-your-living-room or the latest health food craze? Well, I’m not. My suggestion is much simpler and requires far less time, money and has no requirements for your living room space. While all these popular holistic practices (and others like them) can and do have enormous benefits and act as instigators towards an all-round more mindful way of life,  they also carry something of a stigma. For some they are part of a ‘New-Age’ lifestyle full of crystals and fairies in which they are (quite frankly) not interested. For others who already have elements of holistic practice in their lives (fairies notwithstanding) they can sometimes feel too much like hard work when we need their gifts the most*.

Sometimes you want to feel whole and connected without having to exert a great amount of energy. Perhaps you’re exhausted and simply don’t have the reserves or perhaps you have a scant few minutes before you will  be called back into the line of duty and you simply don’t have time for a 15 minute mega-meditation.

 

If that’s the case I have a suggestion for you…

 

Read a book.

 

I know, I know, not particularly original right?

I am well aware I’m not breaking any new ground here, but coming off the back of a busy few weeks I have found myself firmly in the midst of a classic dilemma; I want to feel better, to reconnect to my heart and to Life but I just don’t have the spoons to get out there and be proactive about it! The thought of walking to my nearest park or Peak makes my tired body quiver. My brain can’t bear the pressure of meditating or holding any sort of solid concentration. My nerves are so shot that all they want is soothing but I don’t have the money to go see a film or an exhibition or even to go see friends down the pub.

So what do I do?

 

I read.

 

Yes it is partly a distraction technique. I am lucky enough to be one of those people who can lose herself in a book at remarkable speed; hours will disappear around me, hours that feel like days or weeks or years depending on the story I’m living inside my head, and reading can be a welcome escape when you’re tired and aching and life seems a little much to bear.

I have often wondered whether this truth makes reading as bad as TV or junk food; is it merely escapism, nothing more? Does it prevent me from connecting and living fully by instead allowing me to sink into a world that is not my own?

 

I don’t think so. In fact, this very morning I decided to let myself off the hook and put that criticism to bed forever. Because it occurred to me that the beauty of books is that they are immersing you in a world that might not be exactly your own but will (in some ways) be modeled upon it. As products of a human mind and soul books are expressions of our lived experience; even the most fantastical of novels with the most outrageous of characters will echo our societies, our relationships, our truths. Books take us on journeys in our mind just as our feet take us on journeys in the great outdoors and the experiences we have within both environments offer us countless opportunities to explore and experience and expand our heart and soul.

 

I imagine everyone will find different authors and different genres that do this for them; just as some prefer to walk in a park whilst others seek windy clifftops above the beach.

At University I was briefly introduced to some French female authors, a couple of whom have stayed with me for many years. Marguerite Duras was the first and the floating lyricism of her language is enough to lull me into peaceful sleep if I am not careful. The other is Anna Gavalda who is decidedly more grounded and (for me) more inspirational.

Gavalda’s books are all about human connections, meetings, relations. What makes them so evocative and inspiring for me is the stripped back nature of her words in direct contrast to the rich and sometimes unexpected meanderings of her characters. She often writes conversations without any ‘he said’ ‘she said’,  just the words in scripts or lists, as they would come from the mouth of any real person. But she will also spend pages giving extensive commentary on the seemingly random thought processes that our hero or heroine flits through as he/she walks down the street. Her characters are often dealing with happenings that are not hugely dramatic (on the outside) but that stir a tumult of memories and feelings and healing within each unique person’s heart.

I’m currently reading Hunting and Gathering (for the second time) and I would heartily recommend it; particularly to anyone who (like me at the moment) wants desperately to feel and to be connected but just can’t summon the energy to risk it in the big wide world. Yes it serves those usual escapist joys; sending me out there to a different land, experiencing new places, new people and new adventures. But I also find that my heart has opened, that I can breathe a little easier and can feel a little more, thanks to the introspection and honesty of her characters. The beautiful way she paints the ordinary has the same healing effect as the green currently painting the landscape; it inspires new life, new energy and an encouraging desire to find one’s place in it all.

 

And that is very much what my life and what the ethos of Walk The Wheel is all about.

 

What are you reading at the moment? Do books lift your spirit? If so, which?

* I spoke about this in my last post. You can also see another wonderfully articulate explanation of a very similar feeling here at Nimue Brown’s blog, Druid Life.

 

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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.