Learning how to resource & relax

I first met Rupda in Corfu in Greece this summer. I attended a Awakening of Love workshop that she was leading with Simon Matthews who I will be speaking with tomorrow for Part II of our chat together. Rupda is an amazing woman who has spent the greater part of her life devoted to self enquiry and providing support to others. She leads workshops across the world (you can find out more about her work here). With Rupda I see someone who is brave and deep and wise and well, a lot of fun too. I am really grateful that she agreed to be the first to chat brave soul to chat with me on Throwing The Net Open - where we spoke about a technique called 'resourcing' which I have been using in my own life to help me with everything from insomnia to moments when I feel like I need some support (meetings, parties, if you're ever feeling out of your depth). I've even been using it before I meditate to help bring me more into my body and relax me. (Though as Rupda said you gotta be careful about how resourced you allow yourself to get as it's such an effective little tool you can end up wanting to fall asleep. Something that happened to me once when I did some resourcing before I meditated. I ended up feeling so tranquil I just curled up on the floor and snoozed instead!)

So please check the video out below and if it is of value to you, please share with your friends and family via the sharing tabs below. You can also sign up to follow Throwing The Net Open's youtube channel here.

And lastly, techniques like resourcing are so easy to learn and can become helpful tools in managing stress, tension and anxiety. Or just becoming a little bit more comfortable in trusting our ability to cope with whatever situations life brings to us. And I'd love to hear how it's worked for you, in the comments below!

Laura x


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhtK1tzlCfY

The 4 ways of connecting to others (spiritually, emotionally, intellectually & physically) & what that means for our relationships

This morning I was chatting with Simon Matthews for Part I of a 2 part hang out. We looked at the 4 areas where we can connect with others, most specifically our partners: spiritually, physically, intellectually and emotionally. Without further ado, here it is!

Throwing The Net Open on communication skills with your partner - Part I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZIYihJTKKo#t=61

For Part II, please check out the blog on Wednesday (or subscribe and receive the latest posts as soon as they go live) where we will be throwing the net open on an awesome technique that facilitates deeper understanding between couples, friends and colleagues. Key point: it's easy to learn! And effective!

Till Wednesday,

Laura x

The first website - how it came to be

Some years ago I was mooching around in a quagmire wondering if I would ever 'do anything' with some children's stories I had written. Ben had mentioned a writing coach Julia McCutchen to me a couple of times and suggested I meet up with her. But because I am a stubborn mule and because he is basically family, I ignored this tibbit of gold and continued gazolloping about, feeling blue about these stories I had written and wasn't doing anything about. Eventually or maybe it's just that the timing was right, I got in touch with Julia and we met in January 2013. We ended up speaking about many things, children's stories being but one of them.

We spoke about getting published and the importance of cultivating a network around you and terrifying things like blogs were mentioned. And then Julia said something that is perhaps one of the most empowering statements that anyone has ever said to me: you are a creative woman Laura and I invite you to throw the net open on your life and see the yoga teaching, your events and the writing and being a mother as parts of you that are not separate to each other, but connected through their connection to you.

Because truth is, at least as far as I can see, we are all phenomenally creative. But what limits that creativity is partly our acknowledgment of it but also our limited exploration of it. How many of us are encouraged (really) to explore our creativity?

Over the next year I worked with Julia as my writing coach. Rather then focus on the children’s stories Julia encouraged me to throw the net open and include the other things in my life that I am passionate about and write about those in whatever way or style that came.

After a period where there were long gaps in my writing and normally during a moment snatched where I'd scrabble some things on the back of a book in an aeroplane, it felt exquisite to be writing so much. Not since I was a child have I allowed myself to write write and write.

During this process Julia encouraged me to step away from the results orientated part of me that wanted to know where I am going and trust the more expansive inclusive part of me, for which the end goal was not a priority. And so it was that writing coaching became life coaching. For in many ways Julia was asking me to step into my femininity. To say yes to the flow and expansiveness of life and say hey not now wait a bit, to the order and direction that I had come to favour.

This was excruciating at times. Not only where there parts of me that were chaffing at the bit to know where all of this was going, not just for me, but so that I could give a answer to friends and family who were asking with increasing concern what was it exactly that I was doing.

"Hey Lau, what you working on at the moment?"

"Um I'm working on my flow and trust in life.... Urr, I mean I'm working on some projects right now."

"Ah right, gotcha..."

As uncomfortable as it felt at times, it also felt intense and confusing. Not only with the lack of direction with the writing but all over my life as a first time mother, in therapy where I went once a week to see a woman (this was a period when I have definitely been guided by a lot of women in my life, a blog to follow!) to work on my dreams and then as a partner to Ben as we struggled to make our relationship work. I was being asked to throw the net open on my ability to be comfortable with where I was going in my life, even if it didn’t make sense to others. Or even to me.

Until one day I could take it no longer...

...I felt frustrated at the lack of any clear direction and that I couldn’t show anyone anything a bit more concrete. So on my last monthly call with Julia I said I can't take this anymore! I need to know, what’s happening here? And she said stop trying to be perfect Laura, just do it, do the blog. This was the Thursday before Easter Friday. 3 days later on Easter Sunday www.throwingthenetopen.com went live with An Unfortunate Predicament.

"The path is the goal." Chogyam Trungpa.

The original goal was to write with no clear focus of what I was writing. Don't limit yourself Laura, Julia advised. So I gave the blog the tag line - 'Stories for the child in every adult & the adult in every child,' which had originally been an introduction to the story about Sid and his unfortunate predicament but became a kind of reference point for me to write a variety of different pieces from short stories like The Habit of Remembering to more personal pieces like Being Deaf. I posted once a week, every Sunday for 6 months (with the exception of one when I went on holiday with Ben and Eve and decided to use it to really unwind).

And then the time came summer was moving into autumn (way to early this year) and it was time to harvest what was sown in the depths of Spring that fine Easter Sunday morning. In other words what was throwing the net open? Great that I was writing every week, but what was the focus? Why would anyone want to read these stories?

And so there has been more enquiring and head down and asking and doubts and humphs and hmmm's and then finally Throwing The Net Open, the vision of it and the why of it is clearer. Or at least a little less smudged. Hooray!

What Throwing The Net Open means to me

The Buddhists have a saying - "Don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.” It is one I often forget. You see throwing the net open is something that I have a changing relationship to. It is something that has gone from being an invitation, then an inspiration, and now a tangible way of life. The net is the boundary I set around my life in order to feel safe. This can be helpful at times. And at others, it can be a hindrance. Because as far as I can see I am my own jailor. Not my parents, nor my friends, or even the greater good. Just me with this one great big ol'barnacled humdinger of a net that I try every now and again to wrap around me, least life goes on a changing reminding me of something a part of me would rather I forget: this life - it just ain't up for controlling.

 

Community in the back streets of our lives

I was meant to be exchanging on a house in Hampshire tomorrow. I had got all geared up to finally move from London to the country and then a conversation with my lawyer on Thursday changed all this. A couple of caveats have emerged around the house that she needs to look into. When she told me exchange would be delayed I felt relieved.

“Life is what happens to you whilst you’re making plans."

The truth is I have felt unsure about the move. There have been some big changes in my life recently - that I will probably write about one day... when the time is right. But despite these changes  and in light of the amount of effort and time and expense that has been spent on looking for a home in the country, a part of me insisted that I must see this through. When my lawyer told me the exchange wasn't going to happen, my body just went ommmph. Like a great exhale of relief had softened it. The news felt like life was helping out. Not yet lovey, not yet. Pause, you've found your home and it's your daughters home, now go take a look around you.

Because yes I’d like to live in a place where my daughter can flourish and make friends who she can share good times and heart times with and run to their front door and say hey, come play, I’ve missed you since yesterday. I’d like to live in a place where my dog can come too because Bongo’s my soul dog and he ain’t going to be around for ever and I’m just not complete without him. I’d like to live in a place where there are folk around, who you look out for and who look out for you and you share things with around a proverbial roaring red fire. I want to live in a place that feels like home, where friends can come to and say I feel safe here and here’s where I wanna have fun.

And well a lot of those boxes, well all of them really apart from the one with my dog are actually really happening. I was just so busy looking in the other direction that I didn’t take the time to really truly appreciate how damn lucky we really are.

"There is nothing either good or bad, it is thinking that makes it so." William Shakespeare.

I've been longing for community for a while, and made plans to live everywhere from Italy to Devon in order to create more of it in my life. In the meantime missing the fact that we have become a part of a community right here in London. Because sometimes what we long for, it can take a while to appreciate that it actually exists in our lives already.

And so here we are living on a street where people really chat with each other, (I've lived in 8 houses in London and have never experienced such a friendly street). People support each other through the highs and lows, births and deaths and our neighbours here put themselves out for you. When we were burgled last year, our neighbours took turns to stand virgil at our house till the police came (it took them 2 hours).

Here we live in an area where we have Tony, our local Dry Cleaners.

“'ello Tony,” waves Eve every time we pass his shop. And he always waves back and we chat and he works so hard, actually this is something in common with everyone here: these guys who make up our community work so hard, for so little. Business is tough. And on top of that it can be isolated work because apart from the people who rush in and drop off their clothes, for a lot of the time Tony is mending clothes and going about his work alone.

"What to do?" He says shrugging his shoulders the other day.

Then there is Crystal DIY the shop of husband and wife Nick and Elma. When I am with Eve we always go in. In fact she now makes a point of stopping by the window of Tony’s and waving and then running on to say hello to Elma and Nick. These guys feel like an important part of our day. To walk past and not say hello feels odd.

Here is where we come to say hi, buy candles and batteries and the occasional door-bell. It’s also where I’ve come to camp out after I had shut myself out and it was cold and late and so I went to the shop and asked Elma please can I stay here whilst I wait for Ben who was going to be an hour or so and she said yes of course. And whilst many may say this, not many would really mean it.

So 6 months old Eve and I hung out with Elma and her mother around their electric fire and then Eve got hungry so I headed to the loo at the back to feed her, as as accommodating as they might be I appreciate that breast-feeding isn’t for everyone, and well some folk might be a bit surprised to come for a light-bulb and find a lady feeding her babe by the till. But also a bit of truth is that it took me ages to feel comfortable breast-feeding in public so that first year of Eve's life, I spent an awful lot of time in the loo.

Then there is the grave yard – I have to include the grave yard! I have spent much time here, alone and with Eve. Eve and I have re-homed slugs and snails here, I come to run here, do yoga here, meditate here and I’ve come to walk around and get some fresh air whilst thinking about the Buddhist monks who meditate in graveyards and contemplate impermanence and death and I think about a friend of a friend who was one of the first Ashtangis in Hawaii and who told me about how they used to sleep in the graveyard as no one had any money, but they just wanted to be together and close to the room where they practiced practiced practiced.

Time for cards?

We have The Olive Tree, our local health food store. The family business of Costas and his French wife Virginie. We love going here. Eve to pillage their carrots and to try her dam nest to eat a whole medjool date without me noticing and me to buy food, and hope that this time will be the time that I am able to make something edible. And whilst I am walking around Virginie will sit and play card games with Eve. And when I am running low on cash they let me run a tab so I can buy some food. And that's community spirit, as it sure as hell doesn't do their cash flow any favours. And Starbucks have tried to imitate this small business culture with their give us your name and we’ll write it on your cup gimmick, but that’s all it is: a gimmick, because what is a name without a story? Without taking the time to actually chat with your customers and find out who they are?

And slowly, day by day in this little spot of London where we live, we are finding out who our neighbours are. (We are finding out who we are?) And it's happening slowly, and in unexpected places such as the play-area opposite The Olive Tree, which isn't the tidiest of places and you don’t really want to visit on a Saturday morning but generally it's alright: a place to play and run off some steam before supper.

Here is where I come with Eve and most of the time I’ll sit and have some phone time whilst she runs around, singing and playing and making friends with the local kids. And most of the time phone time is short lived and I sit and watch as my daughter reaches out to hold the hands of her new friends, getting them to help her up and push her on the swing. And I sit on the steps watching, occasionally getting up to help whilst Eve totters across the raised pathway that she loves. But generally, I just sit watching - a beam in my heart blooming.

For this is it, this is community. The wish of a tender ol’ heart.

photo[2]

Free Therapy: A Conversation with Wasps

The other week our neighbour’s nanny noticed that we had a wasps nest under the guttering above our kitchen. We all piled through the kitchen and out into the garden and looked up and watched as the wasps swarmed in and out. “You must get rid of them,” she said.

“Yes,” I said.

So I went onto Google, curious to see if there was a way of working with the wasps. Animals and nature radiate wisdom from their very pores. Our first instinct is to get rid of these 'pests', but you know: life is expensive and there’s only so much money you can spend on therapists...

The Wisdom Of The Wasp

So it was interesting to look into some of the list links provided by Google. I read Shamanic articles that rather then condemn the wasps for being nuisances, praised them as symbols of "communication, order and productivity." I learnt of how if we are ready to work with them they can invoke the power of the female warrior, “prompting us to take a good look at our lives and ask if we are fighting the good fight...”

So I got to work. Drawer by drawer, day by day, leaving the big ol’cupboard underneath the stairs for last. And as I cleared the detrius of my life, I felt my mind and body respond. I’ve been tired of late and finding excuses not to practice yoga, but this last week I’ve practiced nearly every day and I haven’t done that since giving birth 2 years ago.

And who knew cleaning could be so satisfying? For it has been a week of cleaning and hoovering and binning and bagging and filing and dusting and moving and as the drawers and cupboards of my home became more ordered and spacious, I moved onto my to do list and started ticking off more items then I could replace, all the while having more time to write and be with my daughter.

Meanwhile a friend had posted a reply to my status update asking about how to get rid of wasps on Facebook, suggesting that I ask the wasps directly: Why have they come to my home? Now a logical response could be umm it’s the end of summer, its wasp season... Which okay is a pretty good reason, but it's not the whole reason for life has a grander design then we acknowledge. And the thing is as I read my friends suggestion, my stomach dropped which a pretty good indication from my body that there was truth in what she was saying that I did need to ask the wasps directly.

And I had to work up a bit of courage first, because well home truths can be uncomfortable and I wasn't sure if I was ready to hear anything too potent. So I had a think to see if anything came up first and the metaphor ‘a wasps nest’ came to mind and I thought of our home recently. And you know what? A few weeks before the wasps visited us, it had become a bit of a wasps nest. My partner and I are going through a big transition and sometimes in the tiredness and confusion I couldn't help myself and I said things that stung.

And so later that day after calling the pest control I was in my daughters room trying to get out one of the wasps that had flown in and after it went, I looked out at the nest and asked, wasps please tell me what is it that I need to learn from you.

And the answer that came back?

“Be kind.”

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” The Dalai Lama.

And now I look up at the guttering where the wasps are now longer and I feel their absence, permeating the air around me, but I also feel their gift. For all life to be a teacher. Our teacher. How lucky are we to be so surrounded by teachers and invitations to know ourselves a little more fully? and we don't need to pay for this stuff, we don't need to go on workshops, or spend hours in a room talking, we can just relate to the world around us, much as many indigenous tribes do, as if the world around us is intelligent in its own right.

For it is easy to say “be kind?” is that all? I want the deep stuff! But kindness is deep. And to dismiss it, well didn't 't Alanis sing about that? You know ‘like the good advice that you just didn’t take?”

But this kind thing: it's hard! Yesterday I went to the launch of the Love Café (inspired by the Death Cafe) at the Hayward Gallery near London’s Southbank centre. And we spoke about love and we spoke about neruogenesis, or rather someone researching this spoke about this and I asked questions, and the ability of the body to create new neurons from cells in the body that help us love. And how scientists can now confirm that neurological activity can be found in the heart and I think it is right to say our spine. And we spoke about self-love – is this mere indulgence or vital to the process of loving? And we said you know what it is kind of vital, because there is a hell of a lot of self-loathing out there and the more we can love and accept who we are, the more we are able to open our arms to others and how can I possibly not love you, when I have gone through the almighty task of accepting myself? For when we do, the ability to connect more to that sacred pulse of life is magnified more then a gazillion. and from there we can love. Love sweet, tremendous, almighty and so extraordinarily healing love. And being there yesterday at the Love Cafe felt like this is the next quantum leap us humans are going to make: about love and about the body and the energectics of and science of how we connect with one another. Of what intelligence really means, and I guess be kind, is a good place to start.

For I would love to be more kind. Not only to my partner, whatever is happening with us, to be kind to my daughter, family, friends and then there is myself. To be kind to myself. Phwroah that’s pretty hard. Because it gets addictive the beating up. The cheap shots and the needing to be in control. That is like some tight jacket I never asked to wear, just found myself putting on and well, I’d really like to take it off. When it's safe... when it's safe.

But perhaps that time is now.

 

 

Why death is life-affirming (& why we need to talk about it more)

“The art of dying graciously is nowhere advertised, in spite of the fact that its market potential is great.” Milton Mayer It’s a funny thing death, isn’t it? And yet how we ignore it. Which is a shame because death is an extraordinary subject and one I wish we would talk about more.

So here are my 3 reasons why death doesn't have to be seen as morbid, but instead something that is as life-affirming as we could wish.

1. Death inspires us to live deeply & lightly

Many years ago a friend was struggling with alcohol and had decided to stop drinking. After a year or so I asked him if he missed it and he replied, “I miss oblivion.”

Oblivion - is there a better way to describe what happens to us when we die? And I don't mean this in a necessarily bleak way, oblivion can be expansive. If we work with it with awareness, otherwise it is just oblivion.

Often the tendency to be extreme in our lives is simply a desperate urge to know and be known by oblivion. Because this elephant in the room: death, the thing we try and ignore, is also the very thing by which we are most fascinated. The fact that one day we will totally completely disappear and the terror that we can do  nothing about it. So we cling onto this life 'our' friends and 'our' jobs and 'our' homes as if they were 'our' life rafters. Instead of other travelers just travelling thru, till the day comes when our hearts stop beating and this life as we know it ceases to be.

But maybe if we started contemplating death more we would experience our lives more fully. Or at least be more grateful for them. For it is something precious that we are here and that our lives are such mysteries. That life really and truly and is best lived as a mystery. I see this in Eve, in the unfolding mystery of who she is. And how even as her mother, every morning is to meet her again. This young girl, no longer a baby. To witness all the changes – none of which I am in control of, but rather am simply a witness to. This kind of explodes my heart. And I wish I could just live it more.

2. Thinking of death makes us nicer people.

There is a wonderful story of a man who had been given 6 months to live. Before his prognosis he was hell to live with. Cantankerous and controlling. But when the doctors told him “the bad news” and he realised he didn’t have much time left, his priorities shifted. So rather then pulling down the people in his life, he celebrated them. So much so that his relationship bloomed and he really allowed himself to fall in love with his girlfriend and then he went to the doctors and they said, hey “good news, your disease has retreated, you are going to live!” And he was so miserable and sad and shut himself off. And finally after much asking and nudging from friends and family, who were so confused: "Why are you so unhappy? You’re going to live?”

“Because," he said, "I am so scared that I will once again live, forgetting that I am going to die."

3. Memento Mori & get complete with those you love

Telling someone you love them may be hard, but the regret you feel when they die on not saying it, is far greater then any fear you may have of looking a fool.

My grand-father died 12 days ago. He had gone into hospital on the Saturday and died on the Thursday. On the Sunday I flew out to Norway where he’d been on holiday with his wife with my mother and daughter Eve. When we went to see him the next morning it wasn’t certain which way he would go.

“How long do you think I am going to take to get over this?” My grand-father asked me as I sat with him that Monday afternoon.

It wasn’t till the end of Tuesday that we knew that he was dying. My mother and I spoke then about how we talk to grand-pa about this. Do we acknowledge it or not? In the end all I did say was “Don’t hold on grand-pa, you don’t need to hold on for anyone, we love you, this isn’t going to last forever. The worse is over.” Trying to ease his suffering was about as much as I could do. Stroking his head like I stroke my daughters and just repeating myself, desperately wishing I could be of more service to him as I told him I loved him.

I had this thought about 2 months before my grand-father died that I was keeping him at a distance. When I looked at this, I realised it was out of some bizarre self-protection policy I was running in my life. If I don't let my heart love my grand-father as much as it does then I won't hurt so much when he dies. He was 90, it would be soon. And then of course I am standing by his bed as he is dying and all I can feel is love for this man, and yes regret for not every time I saw him really seeing him. Really being with him. My only grand-parent left.

But to have that time with my grand-father as he was dying was precious. To be able to say I love you and thank you and for me I see how your spirit of naughtiness lives on in your great-grand-daughter. Something got complete and though there are tears and I miss him now and I feel him now so much that I wonder if I am just in denial about him not being around at least I got to say good-bye. Because people have died in the past who I didn’t say goodbye to because I was scared and couldn’t face the fact that they were about to go and so I smiled and said goodbye, as if I would see them the next morning. But of course I didn’t. And I carry that loss of a stolen good-bye in my heart. For in not saying goodbye when I had the chance, I wasn't able to honour my grand-mother and acknowledge the life that she lived and the incredible abundance of love that she gave me. For that I am sorry, so sorry and I wish if I could that I could go back to that moment and simply say "good-bye."

“It’s not that I am afraid of dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen

Now if you are reading this you are probably assuming or hoping that the author is at peace with the prospect of their own death. Unfortunately you would be wrong.

Let me tell you a little story.

Some years ago a friend over lunch initiated one of those psychological games where you’re asked something terribly simple and the answers you give reflect something incredibly profound.

One of the scenarios we were given was that on waking we find ourselves in a room. The room is white. There are no windows, no door, no exit. We are alone. We were then asked to give 3 words to describe how we felt.

Try it. Give 3 words for how you would feel if you woke in this totally white room, alone and with no possible exit. Our answers, my friend told me, reflect how we relate to death. My 3 words? “Curious, relaxed & convinced that there is a way out.”

Christ… Such is my denial about death that I couldn’t even do the game! I couldn’t give a word; I had to give a whole sentence.

Because well there’s just got to be a way out of this death thing. Because otherwise, well otherwise, I might just have to look a little closer at this idea that I have control of my life and that I am the captain of this ship. I might have to own up to being more vulnerable then I feel comfortable to do so. Because when we acknowledge that we are not in control and have no idea what's going to happen to us in life, or how it's all going to work out, we must admit to the fragility of human existence. And I think nothing terrifies us more.

Throwing the net open…

I remember going back to school after my father had died when I was 7. Apart from a friend, who made a comment about “difficult times,” no one mentioned it. Not even the teachers after class. My fathers death was this weird thing that had happened and the subtext was that no one was to mention 'it' - lets just get on. Which is such a heavy lesson for young people to carry forth into their lives. Because we are so impressionable when we are young and in this instance my peers were being told to blot death out, and for heavens sake don’t mention it lest you make her cry.

And so we all lost the opportunity to learn a few things: how to communicate with someone when death happens; how to provide support to people who are experiencing the loss of loved ones and how to express a need for support when you loose someone whose existence brought meaning to your world.

What valuable lessons they would have been.

But maybe if we reflect a little more on the sheer awesomeness of being alive, of what it is to be living in this galaxy of exploded stars and inhospitable planets we might just be able to live a little more graciously, a little more filled christ we are lucky, what can I do to share that around? And that rather then death being seen as an ending of, it becomes more of a returning - for just as Mark Twain said, "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” I wonder if we can remember that now.

 

 

The Dog God Series - Devi, Part I

It often makes me smile that when we invert the word dog we get god. And what does god mean other then love and total acceptance? Two things that dogs are able to give unconditionally and in huge majestic quantities. This is a story about a particularly wonderful dog-god I met whilst crossing a main road near some hills in northern Spain. I was on a morning hike as part of a raw food retreat I was on for a week. Devi was running beside the road, a huge welt leering above a bloody right eye, which was oozing globs of pus. As we came near she ran off and on we went.

The following day on seeing her again, I abandoned the hike, and with the help of one of the retreat personal trainers started the process of gaining her trust so that we could help her. She clearly needed a vet - she wore no collar, was very thin and had bad teeth. But to me Devi was the most beautiful dog I have ever met. She was creamy white underneath and had these lupine features accentuated by a grace and intelligence that made me feel a little in awe of this magnificent creature.

Within a couple of hours Devi’s eye was being cleaned and stitched out in the gardens of the hotel where we were staying, with a very understanding hotel manager keeping guard.

IMG_1007 Afterwards the huge dog lumbered about, in such a way that I was worried that the anesthetics had been too strong for her and would kill her. But she had spirit and despite being weak, survived.

That night Devi slept in the room I shared with my roommate the beautiful actress Samantha Smith.

“I hope she won’t eat us,” Samantha said getting into bed, with a sideways look at Devi who was spread out happily on the floor. A mother of two; an understandable concern.

But we were in luck: Devi just enjoyed our company, falling into a deep sleep, as did we.

The next morning I went to open the sliding doors so that Devi could step outside and pee. After struggling with the handle I finally managed to heave the heavy glass open, turning around to see Devi climbing awkwardly onto my bed, lying down in an identical position to the one I just been sleeping in, her head where mine had been on the pillow. My heart broke: I was in love.

IMG_1013

Later we bonded – chasing each other around the garden with Devi orchestering the play just as much as I, as we took turns to chase and be chased. So much so that I felt like a child who had just discovered the best playmate in the world. Albeit ever so slightly stronger and larger – for Devi was such a huge dog that where I sprinted she merely lollopped.

Later we went on a hike and Devi came with us, walking beside me, no need for a lead. Which is good because they weren’t in surplus. A little along the way we passed by the bottom of a drive where 3 dogs on seeing us pummeled down the gravel and out the gates catapulting themselves towards Devi to attack. Her nature, so friendly and open meant that she turned towards them thinking them friends. As she trotted towards them, seemingly oblivious to their intent to attack, I was filled with a sense of not on my fucking watch and ran as fast as I could towards the dogs, bending down as I ran to throw pebbles at them.

 

And I remember that moment. I remember the boom of my heart and the feeling that I would do whatever I needed to protect this animal. People say animals are just animals but when we bond with them and care for them we are given extraordinary opportunities to practice love, compassion and anything else that we look to meditation or other practices for.

Here Devi gave me a moment where my inner warrior could express herself with complete abandon and the full throttle of the maternal possibilities brewing inside me. To me Devi personified a spirit of grace and the divine. Hence her name. She felt sacred to me. It was with something like heart-break then when at the end of that walk with two stops and glances back at me, she trotted off and after following her we discovered she had gone back to her owner.

A man who kept her tied and chained around broken glass alone all day to be his watch-dog. After speaking with the man I had no choice but to walk away, tears in my eyes as I watched her being tied up again.

Thankfully though my mother was in Spain a couple of weeks later and bought Devi from the man, giving her to parents of the trainer who had helped me find a vet and who lived in the hills a couple of hours away. Here Devi made friends and became a mother to a stray kitten. Though she was only to live a year. After a farmer on seeing her in a field with his sheep shot her. The family’s other dog who Devi had befriended died shortly afterwards. Cause unknown. Suspected: a broken heart.

 

 

 

A Trolls First Kiss - a short story

Bobo has a very big nose. It is so huge that all the other trolls find it hard to talk to him because they can't stop staring at it. But there is one troll who loves Bobo's nose: his mother. In fact Sheila thinks it is an incredibly important nose. Now Sheila is a very practical troll who runs the family cleaning business.

"Come here Bobo," she would command when he was a young troll. And Bobo wold shuffle over to his mother. "Stand tall," she would say and then she would hang one end of the washing line onto his nose and the other to a branch of a tree. For trolls are large and trolls are strong and Bobo's extra strength meant that she could get more clothes dried quicker - at less expense.

But Bobo was now a bigger troll and was fed up of being used as a clothes troll.

"Come here Bobo," his mother called to him one day. Bobo looked away, trying to look as if he were engaged in a most important task. "Bobooooooww," his mother called, her voice taking on that obey me or else edge to it that always made Bobo feel just a  little bit scared. "I know you can hear me, I need you." Bobo breathed in, exhaling slowly then pushed himself up and walked over to his mother. "Mother I am not going to do this anymore, here," he said taking the line from his mothers clutch and then dropping it on the edge of the nearest tree. And then turning, he wondered off feeling jubilant as his mother watched her son walking away. A soaking wet ball gown dripping from her arms, a look quite unfamiliar stretched across her face.

Will You Kiss Me? Bobo walked down the road feeling ecstatic. He'd done it! He'd stood up to his mother! He looked around desperately wanting to celebrate with someone. "Geena!" He cried running towards someone he vaguely knew. "Bobo, is that you?" He looked so handsome! So strong! Why had she never noticed this before? "It is!" And then reaching out he picked Geena up and twirled her around. Geena laughed with glee. Then placing her down Bobo was overcome with a desire to kiss her. Geena was looking at him open-faced and welcoming and he felt different to how he had ever felt before. What was this feeling? He brought his face to Geena's. Geena brought her face to Bobo. "Owh!" Geena cried rubbing her forehead. "Your nose Bobo, it hurt me." Bobo stopped horrified. He didn't know what to say. He tried again and again Geena let out an owh. "I don't think this going to work Bobo." She said quietly. Bobo felt so sad. And then turning he walked off wondering if he should go home and see his mother. She would know what to do. But just as he was about to turn back he spied another beautiful troll ahead, Sandra.

Bobo ran to Sandra convinced this time he would get it right. Sandra looked at Bobo running. He looks different she thought. He swung her to the side in a romantic sweep but it was not to be. Ba-Ding! Bobo's nose banged her face. Sandra looked at Bobo and Bobo looked at the ground. "I'm so sorry," he mumbled before shuffling off. Was there anyone he could kiss?

Shooting Stars Later that day as the sun was setting Bobo headed for the rocks by the sea. He had tried kissing other girls but all to the same effect. Maybe I'm just not cut out for kissing he thought to himself. And as the sun slipped behind the horizon of the ocean Bobo dropped his head in his hands feeling helpless.

"Look Bobo, a shooting star." Said the sweetest voice Bobo had ever heard. Bobo looked up quickly, his nose pointing upwards at the sky. And at that moment he felt a warm soft pair of lips give him the gentlest kiss he had ever known.

What a wonderful feeling! And he inhaled and smelt that familiar scent - it was Gwen! The troll who lived right next door. Why had he never noticed her before? Ah, it didn't matter. And then reaching out with one hand he wrapped his arm around this beautiful woman troll and with the other he grabbed hold of the shooting star soaring above them so that they shot across the skies, the adventures of the unknown calling to them on the wind.

And that is how a troll called Bobo received his first kiss.

 

A Message From Life: Slow Down Lady

You know you need to start listening to advice that keeps coming your way when even the mortgage broker is telling you to slow down. Oh slowing down... I know I need to.. I know I want to, it's just the consistency of it that I struggle with.

The Time Is Now I am in Norway with my mother and daughter Eve. I normally post on Sunday mornings but this Sunday we found out my 90 year old grand-father had been taken to hospital in Norway where he had been on holiday with his wife. And so the morning was spent speaking to doctors and organising plane tickets and hotels and passports being taxied to Heathrow (We were in the country when we found out - not realising they would be needed our passports were in London). And then the three of us got in the car and I had the vague idea I'd be able to post something later. But there has been no later.

Slow Down, Lie Down This afternoon I lay on the bed with my daughter lying in my arms. She's exhausted after two plane rides yesterday, delays, lost passports, a midnight arrival and only a brief nap in the morning on the way to the local pool with Ben. A father daughter trip that fills them both with delight. After waking from her afternoon nap she immediately rolled over and drifted off again nestled in my arms. I lay whilst she slept, my chin resting on the top of her head. My right arm sprawled on the bed beside her curled sleeping frame. I lie there wanting to get up and use this previous time to do. To write, to email (I am meant to be getting married on Friday) to make calls. But I don't. I lie there not wanting to wake her.

Instead I bring my attention to my body, feeling the sensations in my feet and legs as Ben is always encouraging me to do. My thoughts drift to doing and I bring my attention to being with my child. I write out my blog in my head, plan trips I want to take with my family and friends. And every now and again I contemplate slowing down. Feeling the pulse of my life wheezing for a bit of time out.

You Can Never Say It Enough This evening Eve and I walked up the hill to visit my grand- father. He is very weak at the moment and I don 't want to write about his condition as that's private to him but I think it's alright if I write that being here I am reminded of a few things...

I am reminded how hard it can be to say to those we love: I f*****g love you and I hold back, in case that love is too much. In case it scares you. Although I said this of my grand-father tonight - omitting the word needing asterisks.

I am reminded of the follies we make in allowing our hurts to rule our hearts.

And I am reminded that when someone feels loved nothing is impossible.

I am reminded how ill-educated we are to deal with the realities of life. Death it happens to us all and yet how scared we are of it. Oh why do we not acknowledge it more? For if we did I imagine we would live with far more graciousness and gratitude. Courage too. For we may deny our own deaths but it is in denying others theirs that we only hurt them more.

Manners - Time For Something More Refreshing? A teacher dear to my heart Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche said recently that us British we are so polite. It wasn't a compliment.

The Home Of A Heroine On arriving at the hotel last night my eyes swam to a magazine in the hotel lobby. My heart swelled. The magazine was called Arundal - the name of Princess Elsa & Anna's home in the Disney film 'Frozen.'

The next morning I checked with the receptionist to make sure it's the same place as the film Eve adores. Yes, she tells me, though the pronunciation is way off.

I walk over to my daughter eating breakfast beside her beloved 'DoDo,' my mother. I bring the magazine to the table - bubba guess where we are? Her eyes open in curiosity. We're in Arundal. The home of Princess Elsa. Her eyes shine and a beam of a smile soars across her face.

To be in the place of ones hero. There are no words and I see the impact that this has on my daughters body. She softens and waits - what magic this world can bring.

The Bliss Of Trolls The rest of the day we discover troll caves whilst walking to the hospital and even spy four big nosed dudes in the window of a shop. This feels extraordinarily important. It doesn't matter that the trolls aren't 'real.' They are there. Something imaginary has been given form.

I watch as Eve gets out of her buggy captivated by the sight of them. Something is happening for her, though I may not fully comprehend it.

The End Is Near And that's it. Somehow this world brings to us adventures we cannot dream of in situations that remind us: we are not in control.

Oh Christ.

Slowing down.

Accepting I'm not in control.

I'm going to need some help with those ones.

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Let It Go: Advice From My Daughter

I spend a lot of time either listening to or watching Disney's Frozen - most of the time along with my daughter Eve. I actually love this film and have been learning a bit about letting go and throwing the net open on the roles we take on in our lives and here is my post about that... Let It Go

I have just watched Disney’s Frozen for the 48th, possible 58th time.

Eve adores it.

“Let it go!” She sings, her arms out wide as she runs around in the park.

“Let it go!” She sings as she runs up to me as I sit at my computer stressing out about my to do list.

“Let it go!” She sings as she sits in her pram and we toddle along the streets to wherever we may be going.

And then when not singing or actually watching Frozen she seems to have abandoned anything she was interested in before to develop her skills as a highly dedicated and committed grafitti artist. Her canvas? Every orifice of our home. As well as the sandpit, dirt patches in the park and if we’re lucky, the occasional piece of paper.

These Roles Were Made For Dissolving

I tried showing Eve The Little Mermaid this week but that got quickly vetoed – “let it go” Eve said. And so I did and on went Princess Elsa.

But watching just those few moments of Little Mermaid before it got vetoed, it was so interesting to see the difference in the two films. Not in graphics but in the nature of the characters.

Back in the 20th century Disney films were all about the baddies and the goodies. With Frozen the real challenge comes not from some wicked evil character but from Elsa herself. Will she be the “the monster” everyone expects her to be once her powers are unwittingly revealed? Or will she find a way to integrate her powers, ones that she was born with, without having to lock them away and be the good girl she “always has to be?”

 

Lobbing The Gold Away

And then I saw another version of sisterly dynamics at The Tricycle Theatre this week when a beautiful friend took me to see The Colby Sisters in Kilburn. Five sisters all thrashing out their existence on this planet within the confines of the roles that each of them have foisted on the other. Whether that be the good girl, the strong girl, the slutty girl, the girl who always needs help girl. Or it could go the other way, the wonderful girl who has everything together and everything she wants girl. But then I bet if someone were to ask Beyonce or Nigella - hey did you enjoy everyone thinking your life was perfect before stories in the press started hinting otherwise, just a tiny part of them might be able to feel if not say, you know what it's a frickin' relief not having to play the perfect role anymore.

These roles we play. What a load of baloney. They are so restricting! And the thing about life is that it may be many things - but in its essence it just ain't restricting. It's us humans who do the restricting. Because life in its essence is wild and unfolding and dynamic. And until we can we trust ourselves to be wild and unfolding and dynamic we are forever going to be trying to make what is dynamic static, what is liberating wrong.

Just yesterday Ben and I were struggling with some fears we both have about getting married and chatting with a friend over Skype who we had asked to speak to for some help navigating some dark and stormy waters. Turns out we don’t have to be that dark!

"Can you be courageous and aware enough to introduce humour and lightness to the situation?" our friend asked us. What a game changing comment! Ben and I looked at each other and relaxed.

"Yes, we'd like that."

Anyway, this is a song we're singing at home.

And this is me, throwing the net open... x