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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Silence - the key to happiness

For some time now, my partner and I have been regular attendants at what is called an Inner Journey group, which meets every Wednesday in the village in which we live. This is loosely based on the concept of Journey work by Brandon Bays. The group has a set pattern whereby we meditate for a while (trying different methods such as mantras etc) and then discuss whatever is "in the air". It is an interesting little group and a wonderful resource that has been a great comfort and support to both of us.

Yesterday the group leader brought to our attention an article on the front page of yesterdays Independent, extolling the virtues of silence. I wrote about this myself on this blog not that long ago, about how distressing I find the constant noise bombardment that we have to face, especially when shopping. It seems that the right to silence is no longer respected, and everywhere is boom, boom, boom. As someone who worked in such an environment for just over a year, I know first hand just how this can affect people. It drove me quite literally to distraction.

Everything has its price, but it seems to me that in these times of economic uncertainty, silence is the one commodity that has no price. The soul of the nation, as this wonderful article (written by Peter Stanford, whose documentary entitled The Spirit of Silence will be broadcast on Heart and Soul on the BBC World Service on March 7th) states, has been sidelined in favour of spend, spend, spend. The belief that a burgeoning bank account and the latest "must have" gadgets hold the key to the meaning of life is revealed as little more a distraction of the ego. In these times of bust, when everyone is questioning their future and what it all means, it is a relief to know that the spiritual side of life is enjoying a revival - in particular, the need for silence.

This is nothing new to me, since I have craved silence for all of my life. My father used to say that he could quite happily pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere and live completely by himself, and I am exactly the same. In fact I frequently do just that - admittedly not in a tent, but regular readers of this blog will know that I frequently disappear for weeks at a time to a lump of granite in the middle of the Bristol Channel known as the island of Lundy. There is nothing to do on the island except walk, sleep, read and eat, pretty much in that order. The silence is golden and like pouring liquid light into the soul.

The island, in keeping with other centres of retreat, has never been so prosperous as people begin to realise that a shallow existence filled with "stuff" and constant activity is not the key to happiness, and does not hold the answers that they seek. The answers can only be found in silence, and that to most, means leaving the rat race behind.

Some people are afraid of silence, which I must admit, I find difficult to understand. As Father Cyril, a novice master at a closed Catholic Monastery that Stanford visited says, "Silence is not an absence of something. It's a sort of presence. Not talking does allow people to live more deeply, to try and find themselves at a deeper level than the emotional, pretty egocentric trivial level. When that's taken away, bit by bit the person discovers who he really is".

Perhaps that is the cause of the fear, for deep down, most of us do not want to look at who we really are, for it is just too painful. So, we continue to beaver away in jobs that we hate, in order to pay for things that we do not need, simply because we are too afraid to admit that there is an alternative. Perhaps that is the lesson behind this crunch, to force us to a point where we have to look at this stuff, to see behind the illusion that keeps us trapped like donkeys on a treadmill going round and round and round, only to end up at the same point where we started.

There are many different paths to silence - at the extreme end, living as part of a silent religious order. At the less extreme end, it may mean simply meditating each day, or spending time in nature. What matters is the benefits that silence brings - a stilling of the mind, so we are no longer slaves to our thoughts, but can get to the point of stillness that lies beneath. The one thing that all these different paths have in common is that they satisfy a need that is borne from the economic uncertainly that we all face.
As Stanford so rightly says, they satisfy something deep within because they stand in direct contradiction to everything that the world, until recently, has prized. Silence is not a commodity that can be sold on the High Street or through the Internet, for it has no price, it is something that cannot be denied, for it is the core, the truth of who we are.

That more than anything is the lesson that this crunch brings, that the soul cannot be satisfied by "things" and "stuff", for these are transient things designed to keep us trapped in the illusion, distractions from the truth of who we are. Silence is who we are and it can no longer be denied.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Lost and found

Following a reading today, my partner and I feel a lot clearer about where we are headed and why things have been the way that they have.

There are amazing similarities between our lives in that both of us were bullied at various stages of our lives, and had less than perfect upbringings (let's face it, who didn't), and there is a lot of mirroring in our relationship, in that we reflect to each other what is going on in the others life. We have always 'fed off' each other and seem to have this ability to know what the other is thinking and feeling just by looking at the other, to the extent that we can often actually feel (both physically and emotionally) what the other is feeling. I would imagine that this is very similar to what twins experience.

There are very few boundaries between us, which is far from ideal and definitely not healthy, as we need to retain our individuality. Since I left my job and have been spending more time at home (my partner works from home), this seems to have intensified. The events of recent weeks affected him almost as much as they did me, mainly because of this connection and because we are so closely linked. It is difficult to tell sometimes where one ends and the other begins.

What we need to do is a form of tie cutting to let go of the negative attachments, so that we no no longer feel each others stuff (this impacts very negatively upon our energy fields and reserves), while retaining the good stuff that binds us together. I suspect that these cords began to detach during that trip to Lundy in January, as we have both been feeling somewhat empty since then. This would also account for the great sense of loss that we have both felt at my decision to apply for this job. This is after all, a tremendous change and letting go, of almost everything that I am. It is impossible for this not to impact deeply upon both of us.

When you let go of as much as we both have in recent months, this creates an empty space or vacuum. This feels alien and uncomfortable until until the new arrives to fill that space. We are both at the moment waiting for that new to arrive.

The reader Diana, described Lundy as a place where the elements of nature are perfectly balanced in harmony and alignment, and all is equal. When I think about this, this is perfectly true; earth, air, fire and water can all be seen together side by side in harmony. The island is shaped by all of these forces - forged by fire from the depths of the sea, surrounded by air and water with an abundance of earthbound animal forms and plant life. The community is as self sufficient as they can be, with their own waste recycling plant, electricity generators and water treatment works. The majority of goods of course have to be obtained from the mainland, but the island does what it can to maintain itself with as little reliance on mainland commodities as possible - the staff properties may have televisions and Internet access, but there are no newspapers, and no noisy jukeboxes in the island pub. The island retains all the good things about the new society that we live in, without the negatives.

I was assured that it is absolutely the right thing for me to apply for and if it is offered, take this seasonal job. The temporary separation although difficult, is necessary, in order for us to separate these ties and come back together as two separate people who are whole and complete in their own right. It is not to worry about may or may not happen and how it may or may not affect us, but to get what we both can from the experience, and become strong again so we can work out who and what we are and will be in a better position when I do return, to go out and get it.

I feel a lot better and a lot less guilty knowing that this is the right choice and I am not running away and wanting to hide, because I was beginning to feel that I was. It is a running away, but for the right reasons, for you cannot find yourself until and unless you are lost ...

No matter what happens, I know that my partner, the one I love, will always be in my life, in some form or shape.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

How do you keep the one you love?

On one of the readers Internet forums that I frequent, there is a very popular thread where members talk about what is happening in their lives on a day to day basis. It has been very useful for me in recent months, and enabled me to let off a lot of steam (without going into too much detail of course).

One of the members was discussing today how one of her friends had a huge argument with her boyfriend, when she thought he was flirting with someone else. He wasn't as it turned out, and it was to do with his ex's insecurity. This got to me to thinking about my own issues and what has been happening in my own life with regard to my partner and I.

In my considerable experience of watching daytime television (it isn't all rubbish), people get insecure for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because of their past. A Course in Miracles says that the closed mind believes that the past and the present will be the same, and there is much truth in this statement. People believe (and I am no exception) that history will repeat itself, and in the end, it often does, as they end up pushing the one they love away.

How though do you keep the one you love - to coin a phrase from Northern Exposure, by letting them go. My beloved partner and soul mate knows and understands this, and so 'allows' me the freedom to do what needs to be done - as I did for him when he wished to go on hormones as part of his gender re-balancing. You have to let people go so that they can become themselves, and sometimes that may mean a temporary separation.

It is the hardest thing in the world for both of us to do, on top of everything else that has happened (the events of Christmas also affected him deeply, as it reminded him of similar experiences in his own past); to have to choose between the two things I love the most in the whole wide world. In the end, it is not about choosing either of those two things, but about choosing myself, and doing what I have and need to do.

I have been trying to figure out why I have been putting off completing my application form for Lundy, when I know it needs to be done. It is almost as if I am afraid of what it will mean. To be honest, the whole thing terrifies me, but I know that I have to do this. It feels like I no longer have a choice. I have wanted this for so long, to have the opportunity to spend an extended time on the island and be a part of it, and now it has become real, I am left wondering whether it really is what I want after all. That brings up tremendous fear and uncertainty, but I cannot allow this to sway my decision and prevent me from moving forwards, I have to feel the fear, as Susan Jeffers says, and do it anyway.

We spent an hour or so going through the application last night thinking about what I can bring to the role and what attributes will be needed. It is not a difficult job, and I feel certain I could do it, but it is difficult sometimes to find the words. Yesterday we made some progress, and I went to sleep with my mind buzzing re the possibilities.
After I returned from my cleaning job and had some lunch, I sat down to complete the application and the words began to flow. I can now say that I am 99 percent happy with what I have written. I will sleep on it for a while and send the application tomorrow to be 100 percent.

With wonderful synchronicity, after I had completed all that I needed to do, I found an email from the island waiting in my inbox, confirming that they are expecting me as a volunteer on 2nd March, and asking the Diary Manager to make a note. I am all set then, 13 days and counting ...

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Fantasy becomes reality

On Thursday while searching the net as one does, I found an advertisement for a seasonal general assistant on the island of Lundy, starting from as soon as possible. Knowing the huge response that this is likely to generate, and the overwhelming need that I have to spend time on the island, I emailed for an application form. By the end of the day, just before 5pm, it came back with a note that stated "Thank you for your interest in the Lundy company".

As I opened the form and began to read, my body went into shock. My mouth became dry, and I began to shake and sweat. I realised that this was no longer a fantasy, but had now become reality.

I began to fill in the first part of the form - name, address etc and all the usual blurb, but when it got to the bit about why you think you are suitable and what you can bring to the job, my mind went completely blank. Try as I might, each time I think about completing this form and sending it back, which I know I must, I cannot bring myself to do it, for I know that once I do, there is no going back. My life will change forever.

This is a scary thing, when you are confronted with the results of the choices you have made, and stand on the threshold of something this big. I am conscious of all that I would be giving up, yet also conscious of what I may gain, and that it may not be forever (life is transient anyway). Either way, no matter how much I look at this, once I have pressed that send button, things will never be the same - for my partner or myself.

No matter how many times I go over this in my mind, I know that I have to take this step - Chairman Mao was right when he said that the biggest journey begins with a single step, and also that the first step is the hardest, for once I have done this, I will be swept up in an unstoppable chain of events that will no longer be under my control. What I mean by this is that I will have to step back and hope and trust and wait for things to unfold in the way that my partner and I most need.

What we need may not necessarily be what we want, as the outcome is far from certain - the island manager may decide that I am not suitable for the job and offer it to someone else - if this happens then I know realistically that it was not meant to be, yet in many ways this will be even more difficult than if I do go. Why does life have to be so hard?

I should be relaxed and happy today, spending time with the one I love, but I seem unable to concentrate on anything at all. I am not sure where the words have come from this morning, or what it all means, but I have to put things out to the universe, and as they say, let be and let God.

In years gone by if I made a statement like the one I am about to make, I would surely have been tried for heresy and burnt at the stake, but thankfully times have moved on. I know that there is no difference and no separation between God and any other being - and yes that includes you too, those who read my words, so what I want for myself is therefore what God wants too. Of course the very act of saying the word want simply creates more of that experience, so we are left still wanting - I will then change that word to have, for that is an acknowledgement of what I already have and brings those needs and wants into being.

So, what to do this afternoon, go to the local beauty spot for tea, cake and a romantic cuddle, sit down and watch a romantic DVD, or fill in that form. The day is young, so why not do all three?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Highly Sensitive Person

There is an interesting discussion going on at the moment on one of the readers sites that I am a member of regarding depression, and the affect that it has. Many of my friends both on and off the Internet seem to be experiencing more than their fair share of troubles at the moment, and I am certainly no exception to this. I was hoping there may have been news regarding the outcome of the meeting I attended last Friday by now (it will be a week tomorrow), but so far nothing. I try hard not to get frustrated by this, but it is exceedingly difficult when so much is at stake, not that I expect them to understand that.

Getting back to the subject of depression, I have a theory that a lot of people on Internet forums (myself included) are what are termed as highly sensitive people (HSP's for short). This phrase was coined by US based psychologist Elaine N Aron, after many years of study. Elaine has written several books on the subject, the best known of which is entitled The Highly Sensitive Person.

I found this book in a shop in Glastonbury a couple of years ago, and it really struck a chord. Basically what Elaine says is that a highly sensitive person is one who is more sensitive than most to external stimuli, such as bright lights, noise, etc. and very often physical pain. Because of their inability to screen this out, they tend to withdraw from the world. Others tend to label these individuals as shy, quiet, withdrawn etc, as they misinterpret sensitivity for something else.

Socialising or working in a noisy environment for these people can be a huge problem. At various points in my life I have been given most of these labels. I have always struggled in social situations, where there is loud music, flashing lights etc, and crowds, finding it difficult to screen all this out and concentrate on one conversation at a time. Until I read this book, I had never even thought of myself in that way. Because people have always told me that I am introverted, shy, too quiet (I was forever being told as a child, which I hated), I should go out more etc, I thought that that was what I was. Because I was not like them, I was not 'normal'. Looking at the way some of these people behaved, led to me to think that if that was normal, I wanted no part of it, leading me to withdraw even more.

The problem is that our society values those who put themselves out in the world, not being afraid to explore and be extrovert, and able to cope with all these stimuli. Sensitivity is viewed as a negative when there are some very positive aspects to this trait, such as being alert to danger, having more acute sensory perceptions, and the ability to tune in and empathise, as well as inspiration and creativity. I posses most of these in abundance, as do most of my friends.

My partner and I are definitely HSP's (him much more than I am). With him it also manifests as sensitivity to pain and what goes on within the body, whereas with me, it is more about external stimuli - noise is a particular problem for me. That is why I found it so hard at my last job, working in an environment with loud music constantly blaring out has to be my idea of HSP hell!

There are different degrees of sensitivity, depending on your own nervous system, and of course upbringing. Elaine's book seems to suggest that it is to do with the brain, and how we process and deal with different types of stimuli. There are two ways in which we do that, the first of which is called the behavioural activation or approach system. This is the part which is curious and wants to learn and explore. It is what pushes a young child to get up and walk and to experience different things. The other system is known as behavioural inhibition (notice the negative connotations) or pause to check system. This is the one that holds us in check, advising caution and less risk taking.

Some HSP's have very active pause to check systems, whilst others have systems which are more equal in strength. I suspect that I am one of these, while my partner falls more into the first category (i.e. his pause to check system is stronger). In someone such as myself, where the 2 systems are more equal, this sets up a dichotomy or struggle between the 2 opposing parts, making the person both curious and cautious at the same time. Part of me wants to go out into the world exploring and trying new things, while the other part is cautious and reticent, needing constant support and reassurance. That is why it is so important that sensitive children receive adequate support and encouragement from their caretakers. If they don't (and my partner didn't) then it could easily lead them to fear anything and everything, as the world is just too overwhelming for them to deal with.

Luckily I seem to have found ways to get round and work with the dichotomy that I experience. Knowing my own limitations, when to rest, when not to, and finding the balance. Because of the culture in my last job, and indeed most companies these days, it can be extremely difficult to find the balance and the space that you need. In my last job I didn't get the space and the breaks that I needed, and the results have not been pretty.

It is essential that as both children and adults HSP's be encouraged to explore and try new things, as failure to do this reinforces the idea that the world is a threatening and dangerous place. At the extreme end this can easily lead to conditions such as agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and of course panic attacks. My partner experiences these from time to time, and I have had one or two myself.

The book certainly helped me in a lot of ways, and it is on that I would recommend to anyone. It certainly helped clarify things for both of us, and made us understand that there is in fact nothing wrong with either of us, despite being told the opposite for most of our lives. The book did though bring up a lot of issues for us to deal with and work through, so it is not necessarily easy, but it does bring understanding, and with that comes wisdom.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The dawning of Aquarius

Yesterday morning was my monthly astrology group with Sarah Jane Grace. It was as usual a thought provoking time, with much to mull over and chew on.

The Sabian symbol for the day was "A large white dove circles about and about overhead and then descends and proves to be a carrier with a message".

This brought to mind the idea of the dove being a symbol of peace, holding the olive branch. This got to me to thinking of what the olive branch represents - it comes from the Biblical story of the flood (and also the Epic Gilgamesh, which is the oldest written narrative of the flood). Noah releases the dove to see if it will fly back, and when it returns with the olive branch, he knows that the flood has subsided and it is safe to go ashore.

When you think about the symbology of water (the flood), it is about emotion (as a triple water sign, this is something I know all about). The dove was telling Noah that it was safe to come out of the Ark, his hiding place. Safety does not come from hiding away, or locking things into our hearts, but from dealing with and ultimately rising above emotion, if and when we manage to achieve that, then true peace is revealed. It was interesting that as the meditation came to an end, and Sarah brought us gently back into the room, doves were cooing just outside the window. It was almost as if they were confirming that my analysis was correct, that I needed to put these thoughts and words into action.

There is a lot going on astrologically at the moment. Yesterday was a Full Moon (in Leo) and also a lunar eclipse, which signifies great change (since when has that been new). The Sun has recently moved into the Sign of Aquarius - the water carrier. Aquarius is one of three air signs, along with Libra and Gemini, and as such, is all about the mind. Key words for this sign are intellect, objectivity, detachment, justice, communication, utopia and inter connectedness.

This sign is about using the power of the mind to affect change and understand the mysteries of the universe. Aquarians have a strong need to learn and to understand, gaining in wisdom and knowledge. There is a streak of rebellion in this sign, and the non conformist, an element of the revolutionary. Aquarians are not concerned with the one, but more with the whole. It is an optimistic sign, but also emotionally distant and somewhat detached.

Aquarius has two rulers - Saturn and Uranus. Saturn is the teacher and the tester, who turns thoughts and ideals into something concrete and tangible, bringing everything down to earth. He eliminates hypocrisy, and forces us to take responsibility, to become our own father (he represents the inner father). It will come as no surprise to learn that my own Saturn has been very vociferous of late. So too has my Uranus.

Uranus is the planet of intuition and ideals. He represents inspiration, creativity and inter connectedness, the need to understand the whole, to see the bigger picture, where we are going and why. He is the truth seeker, who gets to the bottom of things, leaving no stone unturned. In the Tarot he represents the fool, who steps into the abyss or the unknown, and is willing to take risks, a bit like Indiana Jones stepping off the invisible brigde. I suppose that at the moment, that is what I am doing.

There are some very important astrological line ups at the moment, with about eight or nine planets and asteroids conjunct - namely Mercury (communication) in Capricorn conjunct Mars (energy and drive), conjunct Jupiter (growth and expansion), conjunct Juno (dynamics in relationships), all in Aquarius. We also have Chiron (the wounded healer) conjunct Neptune (mysticism and spirituality), conjunct The Sun (our core self), also in Aquarius. Add to this mix the fact that The Moon moves into Libra on 12th February (in Sun Sign astrology, Libra is the seventh house), according to the musical Hair, we are about the enter the real Age of Aquarius.

"When The Moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars"

I have not seen the musical (although I was tempted to when Jacqueline mentioned that it features naked men!), so cannot comment either way, but these planets, combined with yesterdays Lunar Eclipse, make an interesting combination, which is highly relevant to my own life. The line up will peak this week, although its strength will be felt throughout the month of February, moving away towards the beginning of March.

After we had finished discussing all of this, we did the usual meditation with the planets in our own individual charts - in my case I have three asteroids in Aquarius - Pallas Athene (creative intelligence and defender of the weak), Juno (dynamics in relationships - with others and self), and Lilith (primal feminine, repressed issues and emotions, especially anger - there has been a lot of that of late). The message I got from these three is that Lundy is the ideal place to deal with these issues, but not to worry about may or may not be, with regard to actually living there; to take one step at a time, and trust that things will pan out.

This was an important message for me, since I have been putting off contacting the island and asking questions about volunteering. When I got home later on, following a trip into town to visit some agencies and run a few errands, I was therefore pleased to find an email waiting for me from the Island Warden with further details for volunteers and an application form.

The conditions for volunteers are basic to say the least - they are housed in caravans with no heating and no running water - you have to go to the nearby campsite for toilets, showers and presumably washing up as well. The caravans are equipped with fridges and gas cookers, so at least I will be able to cook - I can't afford to eat at the Tavern every night, and even if I could, as a wheat free vegetarian, the choice would be extremely limited. Working hours are normally five days a week, 8.30 to 4.30, depending on the season, and what work you are willing to do. In my case I have opted for domestic work - in the Tavern and shop and cleaning properties.

It is a scary thing for me, since I know that once I have done this there is no going back - the dynamics of being on the island will never be the same again. But, as a member of one of the several Internet forums that I frequent commented, I have to do this, no matter that the cost (and it will be considerable), as otherwise I will never know whether it is right for me or not.

I have then taken the bull by the horns and sent the form back, so all that remains is to wait and see what happens. I have stated that I wish to go on March 2nd, a week before my holiday starts on 9th, as prior commitments (namely the village newsletter), prevent me from staying a week afterwards instead. Hopefully I will get confirmation back today, or in the next day or so. Once I have that, I can book the helicopter and a hotel for the night before, and start to plan what I need to bring with me (a sleeping bag and a fan heater by the sound of it).

Hopefully there will also be news regarding Friday's meeting in the next day or so, then I can finally begin to sort my life out, and move on. If it doesn't go in my favour (banish that thought), then it will be very difficult for me to leave the mainland at all.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Seen but not heard

An hour after I wrote yesterdays post, and just as I thought I was beginning to deal with and come to terms with the events that took place over Christmas, I had a letter notifying me of a date to discuss my issues - this morning at 10.30am. The letter was dated Monday, but due to the snow (we had 15 inches where I am), it took three days to arrive. This did not leave me much time in which to prepare, so most of yesterday was spent printing out various bits of information, and checking facts.

There was a marked difference in how I felt compared to the first meeting in January, where they discussed their issues with me. It is too soon, and the wounds too fresh for me to detail exactly what those issues were.

It felt strange and extremely uncomfortable to walk back into that environment after a month's absence. As soon as I walked through the security gates, my senses were bombarded by an incessant stream of sounds, coming at me from all directions. As someone who is particularly sensitive to noise and other forms of stimulation, this was perhaps the most difficult aspect of being in that environment that I had to deal with.

I was fine until a face from the past walked in, which knocked me for six. I knew that they would have to speak to him regarding certain issues, but I did not expect him to be there today. I don't think he was aware of my presence, but I was certainly aware of his - my body became rigid as I heard his voice, asking if X had arrived. He had not, so Y left as abruptly as he had arrived.

It threw me into a spin, since it made me wonder whether he was to be called as a witness - I was assured that this was not the case, and the meeting convened as planned, and pretty much on time. It struck me that the purpose of the meeting was simply to gather the facts, from my perspective. If this is what they wanted, they could have telephoned or written to me to get that.

For the past month they have been conducting their own investigation, the facts of which I have not been made aware. Truth be known, they have probably already made up their minds as to what the verdict will be. However, they have to be seen as following protocol and doing the right thing. This is a laugh, since this whole thing has from my perspective, been a catalogue of errors from start to finish. They wouldn't know the right thing if it hit them in the face.

After about half an hours discussion, we broke for the Chairman to confer with "those in the know". We re-convened after about 15 minutes, at which point he asked me if I had anything further to add. There were quite a few things I would have liked to have said, but if I had, I would only have got even more angry and upset, so I did my best to bite my tongue. I did emphasise however that in my opinion this situation had been created by a distinct lack of communication, with no clear policies regarding the issues I had raised. If this information had been more forthcoming and easier to understand, then most of this situation could have been avoided.

It was then that I was told I would have to wait for a decision in writing, which will probably be another week's wait. At least he gave me a copy of the notes before I left, which is more than can be said for the meeting I attended in January. A month later, despite several requests, I am still waiting for them to put the decision in writing, and the more they string this out, the more difficult it is for me to move on.

The events of today (and especially seeing that face from the past, even if he did not see or speak to me) have thrown me into a right spin. It has brought back to the surface all those old feelings of not being seen, not being heard and not being acknowledged, and also a lot of anger.
I suppose the real reason I am so angry with Y is because his not speaking out effectively forced me to, and opened up this huge can of worms that I have to now deal with. I get the feeling that I am not the only one to raise some of my issues. I am not doing this just for myself, but for others who have also been affected. In some ways then, even though I have now left, I am still very much embroiled in what has and continues to occur. That is what I mean when I say that it is very difficult for me to move on.

Hopefully though by the end of next week I can finally put this all to bed. My partner and I will heave two big sighs of relief when that day finally comes.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Spread those wings and fly

The new Wings post from Karen Bishop is as always impeccable in its timing, and even more in what she has to say. The email I received this morning informing me of her latest post stated, "In this WINGS post, find out why you may be feeling apathetic, grumpy and resentful, and more about the magical energy that is creating what we have always wanted."

Am I creating what I have always wanted? I suppose I am, because what I have always wanted, at least since Mum died, is to go and live on a lump of granite in the Bristol Channel, and it looks as if I may finally have the chance.

What Karen has to say is interesting indeed, and as always she has that knack of knowing exactly what I am feeling. She says "There are a variety of manifestations currently occurring, all relating to our arrival in a new space due to the release of our presence in the old reality [in my case I take this to mean working for others in what I term the 3D reality). In this way, much can seem confusing, conflicting, and even contradictory, but as the ascension process continues to show us, it is never a clear, easy, or even plausible road the majority of the time." She can say that again!

The current themes are then manifesting what we may have always wanted, finding ourselves feeling as if we have no purpose, desire, or interest in anything, feeling completely alone with absolutely no connections, anger and resentment at the past, stuck in old relationships, being extremely busy wrapping up so we can move forward, setting things up for the new, or feelings of bliss, excitement and having the beginning experiences of new connections and an amazing new beginning of freedom and joy.

I have experienced all of these to different degrees - anger and resentment at the past certainly, and a loss of desire or interest in things also. Being stuck in relationships - yes, there has been an element of that too, as my partner and I re-evaluate what we want from life and whether we will stay together. Wrapping things up and having feelings of bliss - there has been some of that too in between the moments of despair - I have placed many of my books for sale on Amazon to try and start the de-cluttering process (if I do go to Lundy I can't take them all with me), and when I think of the possibility of a new life on the island, whether permanent or temporary (and the latter may well lead to the former), then yes, I get very excited indeed, for Lundy is indeed my bliss.

According to Karen, I am in the space of what she refers to as "re-booting". This occurs when you move from one space into another, leaving the old behind. We are only a few weeks into the New Year, but already I feel as if I have left an awful lot behind. While we are in that space, we begin to feel apathetic about almost everything around us, as if we just can't be bothered to do anything. Nothing excites us anymore (in my case, not even writing, and certainly not writing about writing). We feel useless, lethargic, empty, and a little depressed (it certainly feels like that to me), and we have very little energy at all. According to Karen (no surprises there given the recent events in my life) that we have completed a very important phase within ourselves and with the planet. Thank goodness for that then, as I thought I was going mad!

Karen goes on to say that she remembers a time, back in 2001, when she experienced something similar - she felt like a retired person with nothing to do. I can really relate to this one, as I have found myself craving retirement, when I can just put my feet up and do what I want, beholden to no-one and not being forced to go out to work. Of course, at the other end of the scale comes boredom and the feeling of being trapped in the house, so I had better be very careful of what I do wish for ... Thankfully these feelings will pass, and when they do, Karen says, we will be happy and joyful once more, with feelings of excitement and anticipation about our new reality. We will have to "pinch ourselves" to make sure it is really all real.

So these feelings of apathy are simply telling me that my soul is "in between.” I have completed my role (whatever it was) and am ready to move into the next phase - only I am not quite there yet - I am if you like between two rungs on the evolutionary ladder, waiting to make that leap (and I think I know by now what that leap will be). Somewhat reassuring Karen goes on to say that we can no longer do what we did before (thank goodness for that, for if I had to go back to that environment and that scenario I would surely die).

For the moment then it is simply about being (hence the snow that stops me going out and doing much at all - I had been planning to go and sign on at some job agencies this week, but the Universe obviously had other ideas!). I am not destitute, in fact compared to some I am relatively well off. I have enough money to live on for a while if I have to, so that I can ride this out, and enjoy the rest. This is all about giving myself the time to really go within and be absolutely sure of what I do want - to go to Lundy or to continue here on the mainland being of service to others. The ironic thing is that in many ways I would be of much more service going there, since the energy of the island is such that it helps bring others into that same space, and would therefore help them to also realise their dreams. Of course I am of service here as well through my interaction with the village community, and in particular through my role as Editor of the village newsletter, and what would have to stop if I did make the move - I could on the other hand become the Editor of the Friends of Lundy newsletter which has not been issued for some five years now, and which I know is missed. It is all about choice.

Of course if I were to make the move (and that is the one thing that continues to make me stop) it would separating from my partner - for at least seven months, even for a temporary, seasonal job. Maybe not though, as I would get time off on the mainland, and he can always come and visit me, if he can face the boat. He could take over my booking for the end of July, while I worked on the island, transferring it to his name. Long term it could though spell the end, if he did not want to move to the island with me. I have been over this a thousand times in my mind, but I am still no nearer to a resolution. Karen though says that when we reach a new "rung" we do not necessarily arrive with the same individuals that accompanied us on the last one. We separate for various reasons. Perhaps we need to separate for a while so we can find our way back together again, in fact I strongly suspect this is the case.

It is common to separate from much of our old lives (including relationships) while we are in the "re-booting stage", as we must be as free and as clear as possible before we can move into this new phase. Once we have done this, some of these relationships may resume, but they will not be the same as they were - how can they be when we have changed so much?

The more we evolve, the simpler our lives become, and life cannot get much simpler than what I may have on Lundy. It is common Karen says to have a few good friends, rather than lots of acquaintances. I have always been like this anyway, but on Lundy, with a community of just 24 individuals, this would be much more acute. Higher energy as Karen says, creates connections that are more direct and simple, with a simpler purpose. The higher we evolve, the more our shared purpose is simply about love and respect, or perhaps companionship. This describes Lundy to a T, the idea that they are there to help run the island, their purpose being clear and direct. As we evolve higher and higher, so we also disconnect from relationships based on support for one another, as we move beyond that state to the place where we can support ourselves and meet all our needs for ourselves. This too is what Lundy is about - no counsellors and therapists there! I must admit that scares me a bit, as my partner is my greatest support mechanism, and if he were not there, I would have to learn to rely much more on myself. It occurs to me though that on many levels I have been doing this my whole life.

Going back to the old is for me no longer an option. I had an email from an agency yesterday (I have been applying for jobs online, even though my heart is not really in it) asking me to come in and register since they have something that may be of interest - a part time job dealing with complaints. Is this really me - I don't think so. It is almost as if the Universe is saying to me "do you really want to go back there" and the answer is no, I don't. This is the same reason I have chosen not to sign on and put myself in the system, I would not be entitled to benefits anyway, for a variety of reasons. As someone who is also self employed (my writing does still count as a business), it is easier to make voluntary national insurance contributions than to put myself in the system, where I would have to jump through hoops in order to please others, getting nothing back.

So, do I send that email today to the island manager, I don't think I have a choice. Not if I want to truly be happy anyway.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

What to do for the best

It is hard to believe that this time last week my partner and I were tucked up in our cottage on Lundy, the island that I retreat to in the middle of the Bristol Channel two to three times a year. I have been going to the island on my own now for fourteen years and this was my twenty-seventh visit, the first when I had been accompanied by someone else. It was a strange feeling, and challenging for both of us to say the least.

The trip was precipitated by the overwhelming need I have been experiencing of late to spend more time on the island, and possibly move there on a permanent basis. It has caused much heartache and despair for both of us. Although outwardly the trip was a success (it was a minor miracle that he agreed to go in the first place), it has brought many things up to the surface to be looked at, which have been indescribably painful for both of us.

My partner was feeling ill for most of the journey down to Barnstaple the night before. I did all the driving for two reasons, firstly that I knew the route having been many times before, but more importantly perhaps, because he needed to rest. All his fears about being confined were coming to the surface - confined not just in the car, but also on the helicopter on the way over, and on the island itself, since once there, the next scheduled flight would be the one we would be leaving on. If he did not like it, leaving and returning home was therefore not an option.

On the morning of the actual flight we arose early after a restless night. I went to get some breakfast in the nearby petrol garage while he worked out whether he still wanted to go. After much deliberation he told me that he wanted to go home, upon which I am almost ashamed to say, I got very emotional, and told him that I did not think it fair to put me in that position, of having to make a choice between the two things I love the most; him and Lundy. I have often wondered hypothetically that if I was forced to choose between the two, which choice would I make. I always thought I would choose him, and so was shocked at the reaction I had and the strength of my feelings. I honestly did not realise the island meant that much to me. In the moment that I expressed that which was in my heart, he knew that he had to see this through, so we quickly walked to the car and drove to the heliport at Hartland, from where flying was due to begin at 11am.

Thankfully because we were the first to arrive (before the Landmark staff even), we were on the first flight over. Even so, the waiting around was difficult. We got to the island around 11.20am and made our way to the cottage which was thankfully ready, having been uninhabited the week before. Lunch in the pub soon followed and my partner began to feel a little better. I knew that he needed to rest and recuperate, so I went for a walk on my own to give him the space that he needed.

The rest of the trip was a mixture of weather and different experiences. On Tuesday we had mist and drizzle for most of the day, and so didn't venture far. Wednesday was the best day, when we walked all the way to the North End, and for a few brief moments my partner managed to feel the illusive Lundy magic. Thursday was a mixture of sun and cloud, we went for a short walk together and I went for a longer one on my own in the afternoon, followed by a walk to the beach after dark to look at the stars. He followed me all the way down the hill with his torch from the doorway of the house to make sure I was safe - bless him.

The journey home was as challenging as the one down, and now we are home we are both left wondering what it was all about. The craving that I have to spend a lengthy time on the island recuperating has not gone away, if anything the need has intensified. I spoke to one of the islanders while I was there, who works in the shop, and she informed me that there will be both permanent and temporary seasonal jobs soon in the Tavern and housekeeping. My partner though has no wish to return, and so if I was to take this opportunity it would mean leaving him behind.

I oscillate from day to day as to what I want to do, one day I feel that I should contact the Island Manager and apply for a seasonal job, the next I think I should sit it out here and do my best to get another dead end job at home. What to do? There is no easy solution. It would be easy were there not such love between the two of us - we are soul mates in every sense of the word, and I wish it were possible to have both, or there was some form of compromise, but if there is, at the moment, neither of us can see it.

One thing I do know is that I cannot continue to work for what my partner's client Caroline refers to as "emotional imbeciles" who are devoid of logic or compassion and have not a spiritual bone in their body, making money for others and slowly dying inside. I cannot face another 20 years of this. The situation at my last job and the way in which it ended has obviously affected me more than I realised (there is still no news of when my own grievances will be dealt with), but if you knew the full picture (there is much that I chose not to write about on here), you would understand why. It feels as if the soul has been ripped from my body leaving nothing but a shell, hollow and empty with no spark left.

Lundy would be the ideal place to rest and regain my strength, not least because of its familiarity. The island feels like a different dimension, where time does not exist and one can live completely in the moment with nothing to intrude upon your peace of mind. It is a small self contained community where residents and visitors alike understand what really matters - friendship and understanding. The reasons for being there are clear and the boundaries well defined. I would have no worries about accommodation or bills, since these are paid for as part of the job - there is nothing to spend money on once you are there, since there are no nightclubs and casinos, and I would have no need for a car. The only things to worry about would be food and maybe phone and Internet. It could also be a very good opportunity to save and replenish my funds, while having some much needed down time and recuperation.

Having said all this, I am aware that working on the island would be vastly different to being on holiday. I would get two days off each week, but in the summer season the hours would be very long and arduous. On the other hand, what a wonderful opportunity to meet people, and share common interests. I have this desperate need to be on the island, but am aware that if I decide to go for this, and it goes horribly wrong, then I could lose everything. What then to do?

The best solution would all things considered, be to volunteer for a week or so either before or after my next trip out alone in March, and see if working there really does match my expectations. If it does, then a seasonal job would be the best option, for seven months and see how things pan out. It will be hard for both of us, but we are strong and will get through this. I have booked a reading with a friend for the 19th, so hopefully things will be clearer then.