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!’

Pessimism

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

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.

 

In Flow

It’s been a little quiet around the blog recently; my apologies to all, especially those folk who have kindly chosen to follow me over recent days. Until recently I had been posting quite regularly (which surprised me too!) then life semed to stand up, shake itself about and go a bit crazy. But hey: it’s Spring time, it happens.

 

All that green and growing energy buzzing across the Land has given  things a real stir. Both the hubby and I have new jobs and we are both making tentative but determined steps towards spending our days doing things we love and believe in rather than things that simply make us money.

The whole work/life balance has always proved an interesting (and infuriating) concept for me. Being of the firm belief that we should only have to work for and at things we truly love and believe in makes stability in this society (financial and energetic) both difficult and dangerous.

One way I try to mitigate this is by trusting my instincts and trying to remain ‘in the flow’ as much as possible. I’m planning a longer, more elaborate post on what I mean by ‘flow’ for later; for now, know that it is simply my way of describing the path of least resistance. Far from being the ‘lazy’ route, this path is where you should be, where Life wants you to go and where your actions are in harmony with your Self, you needs and the needs of all other things.

A lofty ideal? Yes; but one grounded in my own experience and heart-felt truth. Truting the flow is what keeps me from going completley batty when I lose the thread of my own intentions and dreams.

 

This Spring the flow has really made itself felt in our lives. The repercussions of choices we have made in the past based on instinct and trust rather than logic and ‘sense’ have proved to be joyful and promising. I now have more time to spend on creating work of my own devising, walking the Wheel with more determination and sharing it with others (including here in the blogosphere!). I have been able to attend classes and workshops that inspire me, meeting inspirational people along the way. And when I am earning money I am doing so in an environment that promotes the things I believe strongly in: community, sustainability and good health.

I am immeasurably grateful for all these changes taking place in both myself and the hubby’s lives but they do come with provisos. The house is currently in disaray as we both adjust to new schedules and I find it almost impossible to work in a cluttered space. There are also new ideas and opportunities popping up all over the place provoking excitement but also nerves, anxiety and no small amount of administration! So things may be a little shaky around here for a few weeks yet, with posts not being as regular or as well planned as I might like. That said I learned right back at the beginning of this blog that sometimes a little wildness can make for an interesting read. 

I will however do my very best to get back on top of things as soon as possible, to keep offering ideas and insights into how the Wheel is turning for me and how it might be turning for you, wherever you are in the World.

 

So a big warm welcome to all newcomers to the blog and a hearty hail and thanks to those sticking with me. You are all part of the flow that I am following as diligently as I can and I look forward to seeing where you and it are taking me.

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Shelf Brook
Image from Wikipedia

Smile

When were you last gifted with a smile?

Not a white-washed, Colgate-bright celebrity smile that screams at you from the cover of glossy magazines and sets your teeth on edge, but a genuine smile given person to person, in real time.

Sitting behind the plexiglass window at my day-job I look out at the customers as they file past me and try to smile as much as I can. Adults usually return the smile in a blank, soul-less kind of way that means they have a million other things on their mind right now and yes, they might be speaking to you but they don’t really see you. To be honest I probably give out that smile too; on a busy day when hundreds of people walk past me, shucking their clothes in the foyer to get themselves in the pool even quicker, I frankly don’t have the time or patience to meet everyone’s eye.

Springs Reception R4.3WS(credit)

But it’s different with the kids.

My desk sits quite low and puts me on a level with the children who come along to the pool; usually with their parents, sometimes (if they’re older) alone. It is a nice place to be because, when they’re not screaming down the customer microphone and deafening me with feedback, they look at and really see me.

I know this because as they stare through the glass, their expression is often one of intense concentration; the young mind processing who or what they are seeing and whether it is interesting or funny or a threat. I always try to smile at these kids – yes, because its my job – but also because I remember how overwhelming the world of Grown Ups can be at a young age.

Some of them see my smile and turn away; that familiar gesture on a stranger’s face is just too much to bear. They seek comfort in their Mum’s arms or behind Dad’s leg. Then, as they walk away, they often look back to see if my smile is still there. It is and I like to think that that constancy gives them hope that the Big Wide World might not be such a scary place.

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Others take my smile as a cue to strike up a conversation; mainly one-sided as they regale me with tales of who they are with, why they are here and what they had for lunch that day. I know I don’t have to use words to take part in this interaction, just keep smiling and maybe make the occasional nod or wide-eyes to give the kid confidence in their own voice, their own words. My smile is to tell them that they matter, that someone is hearing them speak and knows the things they simply had to say.

 

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Then there are my favourite kids: the ones who are somewhere in between the chronically shy and the helplessly confident, the kids who smile back. They don’t speak and their eyes are usually quite intense; checking me out, checking the smile I’m offering is real. When they realise that it is their gaze opens up, their eyes shine and their mouth curves into a smile: unique, utterly theirs and so genuine, loving and heartful that for a brief second I forget I am looking at a child. They are simply human, another being, another soul travelling through this life and connecting with me for a brief, beautiful instant.

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I hope that somewhere, in thoughts that they may not have fully developed yet, they recognise that moment too. That gradually they come to know the power of a smile and sharing of a moment; the need to truly be seen by another person. It happens so rarely in our super-fast, self-service society that those moments are a precious gift to be treasured.

And if we received this gift more often perhaps there’d be less need for plexiglass windows and perhaps we’d all wear a real smile more often.

Who has lifted your heart with a smile recently?

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“Back to life, back to reality…”

Song quote from Soul II Soul, Back To Life (However do you want me)

It always comes with a bump, the return to ‘reality’ after the suspended animation of Solstice/Christmas/New Year. My festive season stretches out to 3 weeks, to incorporate all three, which is the better part of a month and quite frankly far too long for me to be living on the cocktail of excitement and anxiety that it brews in me. My nerves feel shot and I’m craving crap food and fresh water in equal measure. I’d also like to sleep for the better part of this month to properly recover my senses… but no such luck. I was back to work on the 2nd, dealing with crabby customers by the 3rd and it has quickly become apparent that despite last weeks festive cheer we are all now suffering from festive withdrawal.

What frustrates me the most is that we have no choice but to accept this sorry state of affairs; to strap on a smile, pick up our feet and plunge back into life, pressing ourselves into the same mundane cycle that we have been working so hard to escape these past few weeks. I feel like an escaped convict returned to her cell, breathless and desperate. The proverbial stuffing being forced and cajoled to fit myself inside the turkey’s arse.

I know I’m not the only one; thousands if not millions of us will have felt the same way over the past couple of days or will (if you’re lucky) have that joy waiting for you on Monday. This is not some sort of childish pity party I’m attempting to throw. I simply want to shed light on the fact that I (and so many others) am being forced to suppress my needs – physical, emotional, spiritual – not for my own good, not for survival, but in the pursuit of something I can’t eat, can’t drink, can’t breathe and that doesn’t give me warmth or shelter or love.

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My Mum swore by these when she was giving up cigarettes

If I had a New Years wish I would be able to give up Money as part of my New Years resolutions. It would be a dirty habit that I could kick given some perseverance and a jumbo packet of Fisherman’s Friends. Then I would be free to rest my weary brain, relax these strained muscles and allow myself and my home to recover from the December madness and make way for the possibilities of the year ahead.

Instead I have already started selling my time and my mood to people I’ve never met in the hopes that I can scavenge together enough pennies to keep myself in food, water and warmth – things we are told are part of our basic human rights.

I didn’t think I’d be starting 2014 in such a grouchy mood but the sky was grey this morning, my nose was cold and my hubby far too warm and cosy to leave on the train when we reached my stop. For a while I did feel like a petulant child, one who hoped that enough ranting would get her what she wants, even if that is a new version of reality. Perhaps I spent a little too much time with my 18month old niece these past few days? Or perhaps I’ve been listening to too much 90s pop? Either way I am here, there’s a whole year ahead of me and I’ve got 363 days to kick these withdrawal symptoms.

“Back to life back to the day we have
lets end this foolish game
hear me out don’t let me waste away…

… back to life back to reality
back to the here and now yeah”

(lyrics)

***

If you would like a more uplifting New Years read I can heartily suggest checking out the wonderful Janie Rose at Beeswax and Broomsticks. This post is a heartfelt and uplifting call to shine in the year ahead.

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.