20/20 Vision: Contagious Ascension

A vision for what remains of 2020 and beyond

He was just days old.  Our beautiful new baby boy, swaddled and sleeping soundly in his crib whilst I relaxed in my hospital bed, blissfully reverent of the miracle of nature (and a little smug despite the lingering pain and discomfort) in the afterglow of having birthed my 10lbs babe through my marvellous body.  I was also revelling in the restful lack of nagging responsibilities facing my husband and I, that would otherwise be filling our minds if we were at home, not being fed and tended to.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, the silence was broken with an unexpected, seemingly misplaced, divinely adorable sound.  Stunned and confused, my head whipped in the direction of my baby, then my jaw dropped in amazement; my newborn boy was doing the seemingly impossible: asleep, and obviously dreaming, he was emitting a fit of giggles.  Giggles!  Those sweet baby giggles that melt your heart in the way only the laughter of a small child can.  It lasted only a few seconds, but there was absolutely no mistaking it.  My husband and I were in a state of delighted astonishment, realising our bundle of joy had just expressed he was exactly that – joyful.  It’s a precious memory that warms my heart in the most profound way, knowing my baby boy was, from the very beginning of his earthly journey, beyond all logically understood capacity, joyful in his beingness.

Back at home a week or so later, I retrieved the borrowed name book from the bookcase. Given we’d chosen our baby’s name simply because we liked it, it occurred to me to look up the meaning before returning the book to its owner.  I flicked through the pages, until I found it:

Isaac: from the Hebrew name Yitzchaq, meaning “he will laugh, he will rejoice”1.

This remarkable tale makes me both smile and awe at the mysteries of life.  I love that I have such a wondrous anecdote to share, guaranteed to amaze and delight.  But more than that, I love how this experience is such undeniable – to my mind – evidence of the mystical nature of how the Universe/God/Source/Higher Power communicates with us, if we’re open to receiving. I can see how easily such an occurrence – a newborn living up to his given name in such an improbable manner – could be written off as mere coincidence or fluke, how it couldn’t be scientifically validated as meaningful.  No doubt there’s someone out there willing to burst my bubble and give me a logical explanation of why it wasn’t actually legitimate laughter or true expression.  And yet something of its incredibility, synchronicity, and mystery appeals to a deeper part of me; it fascinates me, and feels sacred and significantly meaningful, and in its way it imprinted the healing my relationship with my beautiful boy brings me every day.

A few years after this experience, I learned about the concept of “nominative determinism” from Rebecca Campbell, who describes the phenomenon as “when people’s names fit their calling or purpose in life, like little clues from the heavens.”2  It reminded me of the experience with my son, and the idea appealed to me enormously, so I began investigating the meaning behind my own names.

Rachael (given name): Hebrew for ewe, a female sheep3.

Louise (middle name): Feminine form of the French Louis, from the Latin Ludovicus, from the German Ludwig (composed of the elements “hlud” meaning famous and “wig” meaning war or battle), from the Germanic Chlodovech; Louise means famous female warrior.4  A warrior is defined as a person engaged or experienced in warfare, or alternately a person who shows great vigour, courage or aggressiveness.5  Courage is defined as the quality of bravery that enables a person to face difficulty without fear.6  It’s derived from Middle English corage, from Anglo-French curage, equivalent to coer meaning heart, from the Latin cor7; this etymology explains an earlier definition of courage: the heart as the source of emotion.8

Barker (maiden surname): An English occupational name for a tanner, derived from the Middle English bark(en), referring to someone who converts animal hide to leather using the bark of trees as a tanning agent.9  Tanning involves a process which permanently alters the protein structure of skin, making it more durable and less susceptible to decomposition, also possibly colouring it.10, 11  Another (informal) definition of the word tan is to thrash or whip.12 Barker is also an English occupational name for a shepherd.13

Stella (married surname): Italian (derived from Latin) for star.14  Dictionary definitions of star describe self-luminous celestial bodies, visible in the clear night sky as fixed, twinkling points of light.15

At the time, I didn’t have the insight to decipher and apply these meanings thoroughly, but my basic attempt was I used to be a follower (sheep), and as I matured I rebelled (warrior) and began to forge my own path toward the light (star).  And all along the way, as regularly corroborated by the many people who told me “You’re so hard on yourself!”, I was adept at giving myself a darned thorough mental flogging (tanning).

Whilst I’ve long appreciated symbolism and hidden meaning, and deep thinking has always come naturally, my spiritual path has allowed me to develop a capacity to decipher the messages available in virtually anything I perceive.  I recognise I can utilise my intuition as a guide in discerning meaning, from amongst endless possibilities, that resonates with truth for me.

Reviewing the meaning and etymology of my names, with the increased insight time and experience have gifted me, I have a renewed take on my nominative determinism:

Rachael: In the early years of my life I followed the crowd, not quite fitting in but desperate to be just like everyone else.  I was terrified of my weird uniqueness being exposed, believing it to be shameful, and so I denied and endeavoured to hide it.  I attempted to blend in like a sheep in the flock, in the best way I knew how, hoping desperately it would offer protection from my mortifying strangeness being revealed.  My efforts felt excruciatingly in vain; my peculiar physical appearance regularly drew notice and comment, I felt like I didn’t know how to behave and conform to social norms, and I had a confusingly conflicting yet uncontrollable urge to put myself within the centre of attention. Despite all efforts to blend in, I was the black sheep in a flock of white.

Louise: As I learn and evolve, I’m becoming a warrior; my strength and courage is in forging the self-acceptance to come out of hiding and speak my mind by telling all of my heart.  I increasingly recognise my need to be seen is a valid and valuable aspect of my purpose as I use my voice, distinct from the urge to be in the spotlight that was a manifestation of denying and suppressing my need.  I’m a black sheep, departed from the old flock. I’ve found my flock where I feel I truly belong, whilst concurrently owning my uniqueness as part of my power.

Barker: In the beginning, my (Barker) family of origin shepherded me in my sheep-like ways. They also gave me the gift of experiences that served to thicken my skin, and coloured much of my perception of life through familial conditioning and loving.  I used to psychologically self-flagellate, but as I spiritually and emotionally evolve I gradually depart from the habit, as I have relinquished the use of my maiden name and increasingly identified with my married surname.

Stella: I have grown to recognise my inherent divinity.  In doing so, I radiate my inner light that then guides others as they navigate their way through the dark to discovering they too possess the same divine light within themselves.

This stuff is utterly fascinating to me.  It’s not a precise science, but rather a playful intuitive exploration, and the interpretations derived are variable and dependent on the interpreter.  I could have elucidated from the meaning of Louise I’m a fighter, destined for warfare.  But that didn’t resonate; I reject the notion of taking sides, and I don’t even believe in fighting “the good fight.”  Instead I looked deeper and sought a meaning that did resonate.  The definition of star included “a hot gaseous mass that radiates energy” – that could be interpreted in a most unflattering light, so I chose not to take that onboard!  Whilst I’ve relinquished the use and much of the symbolism of my maiden name, that doesn’t mean all other Barkers are doomed in their nominative determinism – there are positive interpretations available, relevant to the uniqueness of the individual.

The point is, we all make sense of our own individual experience of life from our own one-of-a-kind perspective.  The internal stories we create through our various perceptions give meaning to, colour and inform our experience of life.  As author Andrew Holecek describes so succinctly, perception is creation.15

As I’ve grappled with the challenges borne of the global events these past weeks, I’ve yearned for relief from the uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions triggered with regularity. Whilst traversing the lows of the emotional roller coaster, a part of me is desperate to get off the unpleasant ride and move on.  And yet another part of me knows the roller coaster can’t be avoided, and there is meaning to be derived from my emotions, worthy of being understood and acknowledged rather than eliminated in a rushed attempt to alleviate my suffering.

During a recent dip, I recognised I was secured in my roller coaster seat and unable to get off mid-ride, so I would be better served by accepting what was.  I decided to sit with my emotions and observe what they were and what was triggering them.  I wrote it all out, for completeness and clarity.  I pondered the symbolism.  What did each emotion represent?  How could I honour the inherent meaning?  Each emotion was about something deeper than what appeared on the surface.  Anger was about asserting moral superiority in order to feel virtuous. Grief was about resisting what is.  Anguish was about fear of the unknown.

Giving my emotions this space and permission to be, rather than judging and resisting them, gradually reduced their potency.  Understanding their meaning made them feel valid and acceptable, even if not necessarily helpful, and therefore less painful to feel.  Sweet relief.

It was only then I was truly ready to transcend my negativity and suffering, and transmute it into healing.

I recognised we’re all living within an internally created story of the global situation.  An illustration of this point came to me in the form of this video,17 a coronavirus themed parody of the well-known children’s story book “Where is the Green Sheep?” by Mem Fox.  From what I’ve observed via social media comments, it seems there are two main interpretations of this story (though there are no doubt more).  To some, it’s a cute representation of our current experience of life amidst the pandemic, the green sheep representing the hero scientists, hidden away in their labs developing the vaccine that will end the crisis.  To others, it symbolises a sheep-like mentality of the masses who are seeking a saviour.  Same story, different interpretations.  People often don’t realise there is more than one way to interpret a story; with blinkers on, they only see the version that aligns with their views.  I’m fairly certain even the makers of this video didn’t perceive the subtext they’d created, hidden in plain sight.

I love to be precise with my words; the dictionary and thesaurus are my friends, etymology intrigues me, and I’ll gleefully be magniloquent18 if I feel it’s justified!  Also, as is no doubt obvious, analogy and symbolism turn me on, they are my language.  I don’t even care I’m guilty of mixing my metaphors, I love the magic they conjure through painting a clearer picture of the essence of what I’m attempting to convey.  Whilst we don’t necessarily think of them as such, words are, in fact, symbols used to transmit meaning.  A word is a meaningful group of symbols (letters and corresponding sounds) that represents a thing or concept, and learning language is learning to decode the meaning inherent within these groups of symbols.

Inspired by other thoughts on the symbolism of the global situation,19,20 it occurred to me I could create my own more positive story from my personal perspective.  I could redefine how I perceive this whole state of affairs and create a new positive vision and narrative that would serve me.  I could apply my own brand of nominative determinism to coronavirus.21

Please note: in no way do I intend, through this reframing, to disregard or downplay the tragedy of each individual death, the grief of loved ones left behind, the challenges faced by those suffering with severe cases, the commitment, efforts and caring of the healthcare workers, or the suffering of the multitudes of humans who have been affected in a variety of ways by this entire situation.  There are fellow human beings experiencing utter devastation as a result of coronavirus, and my heart aches for them. I acknowledge my suffering barely even begins to approach that which others have experienced, and I am incredibly grateful for my blessings and the privileged circumstances I find myself in. One person’s suffering doesn’t discount another’s; I honour all experiences, and I look towards the light from which these shadows have been cast, as a means of healing all suffering.

Corona: Derived from the Latin, corōna, meaning garland or crown.  In anatomy, the word describes the crownlike upper portion of a body part or structure, such as the top of the head.  Corona is also used to describe a crownlike appendage.  Other dictionary definitions describe a corona as a circle (or set of concentric circles) of light around a luminous body, a halo, or a luminous ring around a celestial body such as the sun.22

Virus: Derived from the Latin, vīrus, meaning slime or poison.  A virus is an ultramicroscopic infectious agent, not considered to be a living thing in the conventional sense.  Virus is also defined as a corrupting influence, including on morals or intellect.  In computer science, it’s a self-replicating program that damages or shuts down computer operations, systems or networks.23

So, what is coronavirus from my newly defined perspective?

The corona definitions bring to my mind the crown chakra – the seventh centre of the body’s energy field, located at the crown of the head, perceived by those who see energy as a luminous circle or sphere of violet light.  As such, I’m choosing to see coronavirus as contagious ascension.  It’s a global healing occurring through a corrupting influence on the morals (or lack thereof) and intellect that are at the root of the self-destruction of humanity. This influence is driven by ascension into the crown chakra where one connects with inherent divinity and oneness.  With every individual who claims this evolution, the resultant ripple effect is the infection of others through the higher vibrations being generated, healing all and shutting down the outdated and destructive paradigms now rendered obsolete as we experience this new way of being.

That’s a contagion I welcome with open arms.

So why does this matter?  What relevance does my personal perspective, intentionally chosen, have for the lived reality of what is playing out in the world?

Before I begin to answer that question, I think it’s important to consider who’s asking it.  I imagine you fall into one of three categories:

  1. You’re nodding your head in eager agreement as you read my words, because you and I are like-minded, and that’s what drew you here in the first place.  You’re fully onboard with redefining your perception of 2020 and coronavirus (if you haven’t already), and you recognise the hidden, deeper and more profound impact of conscious intentionality.  You already know why this matters.
  2. You catch my drift, and you think it’s a cute idea, but you’re not certain this is quite the sort of thing that floats your boat.  You’re open to pondering it for a bit, and you’ll consider giving it a whirl, but you’re not fully committed and there’s a good chance you’ll forget about the whole concept after a while.
  3. You’re not entirely sure how or why you made it this far through reading, because this woman who identifies simultaneously as a black sheep, a warrior and a star is a bit too woo-woo for your liking. You dwell in reality, and this redefinition business sounds like crazy talk.

Given you’ve come this far, don’t let any differences between you and I put you off.  My intention is to offer you something of value that makes meaningful sense in your world.  Your new story doesn’t need to be as flowery or esoteric as mine.  I’ll attempt to clarify the idea as logically as I possibly can, with real life examples of how the concept plays out in everyday life.

There are multiple realities

When we look at the world, we believe what we see is unquestionable evidence of reality. Ponder then, what we see is a function of the design of our organs of sight; our eyes. Other animals, with differently designed eyes, have different sight perception to humans; when looking at the same thing, what they see is a different reality to what we see.24  Additionally, various imaging technologies can show us what we cannot perceive with the naked eye. Therefore, it’s incredibly presumptuous to assume our version of what we see with our human eyes is the only true reality.  Instead of confining ourselves to our automatic perception of what we assume is reality, we can rewrite the story of our reality by selecting an alternate way of viewing.

Visual perceptions of reality

Your perception may be incomplete

Horses are sometimes made to wear blinkers, intended to control and narrow their focus to keep them on track and prevent them from being distracted or spooked.  What they can’t see is still there, but it’s no longer part of their reality.  The fun animated short film Snack Attack25 beautifully illustrates how easily we can forget there’s potentially something we haven’t seen when our focus is narrowed, and the consequences of such, particularly in our interactions with others.  It’s always worth asking the question, “Is there something I’ve missed?”

Source unknown

There is always a different interpretation available

The law is perhaps thought of as black and white, definitive, a set of enshrined rules, clear cut contractual agreements designed to ensure certainty.  Legal experts are paid handsomely to draft painstakingly precise legal documents, the more complex ones in a highly organised fashion, with the intention of effectively eliminating any skerrick of ambiguity in meaning or potential for misinterpretation.  And yet we all know legal experts are also well paid to argue the complexities in interpreting legal matters and their loopholes, often in lengthy, drawn out cases.  This example highlights no matter how carefully we attempt to approximate perfection in communicating meaning, there is always potential for an alternate interpretation.

Which story is worth choosing?

You might be of the opinion overcast, rainy weather is unpleasant; you might even describe it as horrible.  Consider the truth that a beautiful, sunshine filled day is happening concurrently with any given moment of inclement weather, except it’s temporarily hidden from view behind the veil of clouds currently spread across the portion of the sky below which you stand.  You may well have a valid preference for sunshine, but you can recognise clouds and rain have their valuable and essential place in the cyclical nature of our environment.  You have a choice in which story you live by, and my suggestion is you consider which perception is helpful, useful, and valuable; which one makes you feel better, irrespective of external forces outside of your control?  When you feel better no matter the weather, you are better able to experience and create positivity in the world.

You can’t avoid challenges – and you wouldn’t want to

Please don’t be mistaken I’m suggesting it would be useful or helpful to ignore, deny or avoid anything that arouses discomfort or negativity within you – big or small.  Recall I sat with my uncomfortable unpleasant feelings about the current global situation, intentionally allowing myself to find a way towards accepting them before I could transcend and transmute them. 

Ponder the concept of driving from your current location to a desired destination some distance away.  Your route will likely include a mix of 2 types of roadways: larger highways and motorways where you can surge ahead towards your destination with speed, ease and few hindrances; and smaller roads and streets that require you to make slower progress as you observe speed limits and negotiate your way safely through intersections, traffic control, and past pedestrians and various landmarks.  To get to your destination, you need to traverse each type of roadway appropriately.

Similarly, in life, whatever your desired destination, you must recognise along with the free-flowing good times on that journey, there will also be times of challenge that arouse negative feelings.  Attempting to barrel through, denying and ignoring these challenges in an effort arrive at your desired destination of good times sooner, is like ignoring all the road rules and speeding through the suburban back streets at 100kph – you’re pretty well guaranteed to come to a crashing halt at some point, wreaking chaos and destruction in the process.  Avoidance of challenges can be likened to encountering an accident along your route and driving on by, hoping or assuming someone else is sorting it out because you don’t want the inconvenience of getting involved.  This sort of behaviour has implications for those you’ve avoided, as well as your conscience.

Taking the time to negotiate the slower roads will ultimately show you they hold beauty that would otherwise be unseen in the blur of motorway speeds.  Accepting challenges are a necessary and valid part of the journey, that take time to be carefully traversed, means a slower journey, but your patience will ensure you arrive at your destination in one piece, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sometimes, road accidents are unavoidable, and we can wind up suffering injury. At these times, we can’t just get up and walk away as though nothing happened; we might need emergency medical assistance, road clean up, car repairs, time to convalesce. The necessary degree of assistance and time to recover and get back on the road varies depending on the severity of the accident. Similarly, the length of time it takes to come to acceptance of suffering in life is often a function of the degree of intensity of the emotions involved; if you’re experiencing immense or overwhelming suffering, it would be unwise to expect you could wake up tomorrow with a brand new shiny perspective, ready to move on. Patience, and willingness to seek and accept help and support is key.

Learning and practising how to appropriately traverse challenges, through the acceptance that comes with finding a way to perceive them in a positive light, provides you with a set of skills akin to having a road map that allows you to plan your journey to make best use of the freeways, enjoy the slowed scenic portions of your drive, avoid unnecessary traffic, and have an alternate route up your sleeve should an unexpected road block arise.

If you relate to 2020 as the year from hell you’d rather escape and forget, if you relate to coronavirus as a disaster and something to fear or be angry about, what does that do for your mood?  Your emotions?  Your stress levels?  Your health? How does that affect your loved ones? How does that impact your relationships? How does that affect the way you show up in your work and communities?  Does relating in this way produce positive outcomes for you and others?  Or negative?

Everything in our experience of life is subjective.  The way we perceive our individual reality impacts our thinking, emotions, choices and actions in the world.  These all have ripple effects, influencing – whether directly or indirectly – all that is.  When we perceive our world from an empowering and positive perspective, our thinking, emotions, choices and actions are positively influenced.  If we live in anxiety, anger or fear of coronavirus, we spread anxiety, anger and fear. If we live in trust and faith there are opportunities available within our chosen perspective of coronavirus, we spread trust and faith and opportunities.  It’s a deceptively small step with mammoth long reach implications.

Andrew Holecek puts it eloquently:

“We are not the […] helpless, hapless victims of the world.  We are the victims of our projections, our imputations, our hopes and fears, what we bring to that world … We can transfer that power back to ourselves, and realise that we are in fact the ones that create these versions of our hardship.”26

The circumstances of your life are not always within your control – such as with many aspects of coronavirus.  Lockdowns, mask mandates, remote learning, foiled travel plans, industry shutdowns, job loss, illness or loss of loved ones – the list goes on – these situations are largely outside of your command.  Your supreme power lies in how you choose to experience these circumstances through the lens of your perception, to then impact your response and the resulting effect.

I’ve said it before,27 and it bears repeating: opportunities for personal development, which have always been available but often go overlooked, are being thrust in our faces in 2020, as though some higher power is desperately attempting to grab our attention and initiate the next step in our evolution.  The way I see it, it’s these most extraordinary challenges we’re faced with this year that present extraordinary opportunities to evolve.

Will you see your circumstances amidst coronavirus as problems, injustices, hardships, or battles?  Or will you see them as opportunities and growth experiences?  Perhaps you will simply see them as neutral situations to make of whatever you will.  Whether you realise it or not, you’re the author of the stories of your life.  And your story impacts the larger story of the world and all that is.  It’s not about living in an imaginary fantasy land of rainbows and unicorns; it’s about crafting a vision, grounded in acceptance of what is, that sets the stage for positive, aligned action.

As Eckhart Tolle says, “You are here to enable the divine purpose of the Universe to unfold. That is how important you are.”28  The story you are writing for your life is the story of the Universe. That might sound intimidating – no pressure! – but the simplicity is you have complete creative license.  Realise it’s as simple as a change in perspective, and all you need to do is turn to face the light.

I for one intend to hold firm in my vision of contagious ascension, guiding me forward in my actions.  I trust as I do so, global healing is becoming the pandemic that shifts the world into alignment.

Recommended Reading & Listening

  • As mentioned above and per the footnotes:
    >>> Andrew Holocek: Perception is Creation: Discovering Emptiness
    >>> The Coronation by Charles Eisenstein
    >>> The Truth Virus by Kim Anami
  • Anything by Dr Zach Bush MD – I’ve listened to a number of recent podcast interviews with him which have lit me up in the most beautiful way. He has the ability to logically, clearly and passionately explain the current devastation and self-destruction of humanity, whilst concurrently imparting tremendous hope by way of the path forward being enlightened by the lessons of our mistakes. His qualified perspective is heartening. Find his statement on coronavirus here.
  • For a positive perspective on how to proactively care for yourself and your family at this time, Professor Marc Cohen (Dr Marc) has written a peer reviewed academic paper and was interviewed on the Evolve podcast with Pete Evans in a great discussion with just the right mix of woo-woo, science, and practical solutions.
  • Dr. Edith Ubuntu Chan: A Trillion Points of Light (E50) on A New and Ancient Story: The Podcast with Charles Eisenstein. A beautiful and fascinating discussion, covering altered experiences of reality, stories and perceptions of coronavirus and more.
    >>>”We live in a time now where … it sure is confusing if you look at the world outside of you and you only listen to one narrative, one perspective, and you only go into intellectual analysis and don’t listen to your heart, or only go into your emotional or intuitive states and don’t listen to logic, this is a time now where we are being challenged to integrate all those dimensions.”
  • Amy Lansky: Synchronicity and the Impossible (E02) on A New and Ancient Story: The Podcast with Charles Eisenstein. This interview took place in 2015, but it’s SO pertinent to the current global situation. It includes discussion on synchronicity, perceptions within science and openness to paradigm changes, expanding your view of reality, conspiracy and more.
    >>> “I don’t think of these other realms as nebulous or metaphorical, I think they’re just deeper forms of science that we just don’t know about yet.”
    >>> “There isn’t an objective reality out there … the basic elements of reality are not hard physical Newtonian objects but are themselves stories, narratives… there are no facts, there are only stories.”
    >>> “Things aren’t as bleak as they seem… synchronicity is just a different form of causality at a higher level or a deeper level of reality, and so the world is more mysterious than we think, which should give us hope … we don’t have to follow the prescriptions that everybody is telling us.”
  • The Power of Myth — The Hero’s Adventure with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers (#456) on The Tim Ferriss Show (transcript available here). A fascinating conversation about how myth and story can be a model for life.
    >>> “JOSEPH CAMPBELL: You see, this thing up here, this consciousness, thinks it’s running the shop. It’s a secondary organ; it’s a secondary organ of a total human being, and it must not put itself in control. It must submit and serve the humanity of the body.
    (Clip from “Star Wars”)
    DARTH VADER: Join me, and I will complete your training.
    JOSEPH CAMPBELL: When it does put itself in control, you get this Vader, the man who’s gone over to the intellectual side.
    (Clip from “Star Wars”)
    LUKE SKYWALKER: I’ll never join you!
    DARTH VADER: If you only knew the power of the dark side.
    JOSEPH CAMPBELL: He isn’t thinking, or living in terms of humanity, he’s living in terms of a system. And this is the threat to our lives; we all face it, we all operate in our society in relation to a system. Now, is the system going to eat you up and relieve you of your humanity, or are you going to be able to use the system to human purposes?”
  • This interview with Robin Wall Kimmera on the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett (transcript available) has a profound message about our perspectives on and connection with nature (note we are nature, as are viruses). The discussion is both scientific and magical, and covers the way in which language influences our relationship with the natural world.
    >>> “Science polishes the gift of seeing, indigenous traditions work with gifts of listening and language … What I mean when I say that “science polishes the gift of seeing” brings us to an intense kind of attention that science allows us to bring to the natural world, and that kind of attention also includes ways of seeing, quite literally, through other lenses — that we might have the hand lens, the magnifying glass in our hands that allows us to look at that moss with an acuity that the human eye doesn’t have so we see more. The microscope that lets us see the gorgeous architecture by which it’s put together, the scientific instrumentation in the laboratory that would allow us to look at the miraculous way that water interacts with cellulose, let’s say. That’s what I mean by “science polishes our ability to see” — it extends our eyes into other realms. But we’re, in many cases, looking at the surface. And by the surface, I mean the material being alone.
    But in indigenous ways of knowing, we say that we know a thing when we know it not only with our physical senses, with our intellect, but also when we engage our intuitive ways of knowing, of emotional knowledge and spiritual knowledge. And that’s really what I mean by listening. By seeing that traditional knowledge engages us in listening. And what is the story that that being might share with us if we know how to listen as well as we know how to see?”
    >>> “Tippett: Another point that is implied in how you talk about us acknowledging the animacy of plants is that whenever we use the language of “it,” whatever we’re talking about — well, let’s say this. We don’t call anything we love and want to protect and would work to protect “it.” That language distances us.
    Kimmerer: It certainly does. And the language of “it,” which distances, disrespects, and objectifies, I can’t help but think is at the root of a worldview that allows us to exploit nature.”
    >>> “In a way, we’ve been captured by a worldview of dominion that does not serve our species well in the long term, and, moreover, it doesn’t serve all the other beings in creation well at all.
    So we are attempting a mid-course correction here. And I think that it’s really important to recognize, that for most of human history, I think the evidence suggests that we have lived well and in balance with the living world. And it’s, to my way of thinking, almost an eyeblink of time in human history that we have had a truly adversarial relationship with nature.”

Footnotes & References

  1. https://www.behindthename.com/name/isaac
  2. Campbell, R (2015) Light is the New Black, Hay House Australia Pty Ltd, p.13.
  3. https://www.behindthename.com/name/rachael
  4. https://www.behindthename.com/name/louise
  5. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/warrior
  6. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/courage
  7. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/courage
  8. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/courage
  9. https://www.ancestry.com.au/name-origin?surname=barker
  10. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/tanning
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanning_(leather)
  12. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/tan
  13. https://www.ancestry.com.au/name-origin?surname=barker
  14. https://www.ancestry.com.au/name-origin?surname=stella
  15. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/star
  16. Andrew Holecek: Perception Is Creation: Discovering Emptiness, Sounds True: Insights at the Edge podcast with Tami Simon.
  17. Nash-Gilchrist, J. & I. (2020) Where is the Green Sheep Coronavirus Edition, video accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx5SuUejlqY
  18. He he he – I learned a new word!  Magniloquent is defined as “speaking or expressed in a lofty or grandiose style; pompous; bombastic; boastful.” Accessed at https://www.dictionary.com/browse/magniloquent.
  19. Eisenstein, C (2020) The Coronation, accessed at https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/
  20. The Truth Virus, Orgasmic Enlightenment Podcast with Kim Anami.
  21. For the formal definition and etymology of coronavirus, see https://www.etymonline.com/word/coronavirus, and https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coronavirus.
  22. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/corona
  23. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/virus
  24. See https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/how-do-other-animals-see-the-world.html and https://askabiologist.asu.edu/colors-animals-see
  25. Verastegui, E (2016) Snack Attack, accessed at https://youtu.be/38y_1EWIE9I.
  26. Andrew Holecek: Perception Is Creation: Discovering Emptiness, Sounds True: Insights at the Edge podcast with Tami Simon.
  27. The story of a law-abiding, confrontation-avoiding, people-pleasing approval-seeker who raged against the system, by Rachael Stella
  28. Tolle, E (2011) The Power of Now, Hachette, Australia.

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The story of a law-abiding, confrontation-avoiding, people-pleasing approval-seeker who raged against the system.

An essay on conscious living as a tool for healing the self and the planet.

I studied my face one recent Sunday morning, an activity I’ve mostly avoided in recent years.  I’ve even formed a habit of turning away from the mirror when brushing my teeth, to avoid the feelings that surface when I see the painful cystic acne and rosacea-like redness that have plagued my face stubbornly for months, despite my commitment and efforts to discover and treat the cause.  I realised, as I studied my reflection, that a surgical mask would cover the entire scene of horror perfectly; the area of inflammation literally looked as though someone had drawn PPE onto my face.  Then I pondered, in the way that I do for my own amusement, whether my “red mask” had been a fortune telling of sorts; a dermal premonition of the faces of the masses as the world descended into panic and fear.

I thought about how I cover the redness on my face with makeup when I’m going to be in public.  Even simply wearing sunglasses has offered a sense of protection; although they don’t hide the redness, they provide privacy for the shame betrayed by my eyes.

I have a growth mindset, and I’ve felt well and strong enough to stretch beyond the limits of my comfort-zone during lockdown by going for my daily walk without makeup or sunglasses on.  It has been challenging to look passers-by in the eye, to see them noticing my blemished and inflamed skin, but I encourage myself to say hello anyway, and to focus on the positives that this challenge gifts me.  I haven’t been fully cognisant of why this has been an important step, just that it has.

I contemplated the idea that the current mask recommendation would be the perfect excuse to take an easier route by opting out of this challenge.  It would be an improved way to hide my shame; better than makeup or sunglasses, it would provide complete concealment and protection.  I could walk free and unencumbered; I wouldn’t have to deal with my humiliation.

No.  I wouldn’t do that.  It would not make me free; the inflammation would still be there beneath a mask, unhealed. I would be hiding from the truth, avoiding and resisting the pain that is nonetheless present, and missing the growth opportunities of confronting my challenge head-on.  Whilst my yearning for a cure is deep and strong and sometimes desperate, I know I’m better served by facing my demons, and trusting that the experience will unfold in the way it’s supposed to, because there are no shortcuts to true healing.  I began to understand in that moment that learning unconditional self-acceptance, marred face and all, is part of my healing.  I know that avoiding shame differs from healing shame.  I know that shame is a story, a story I’m worthy of healing.

I reaffirmed for myself in that moment, that for at least as long as lockdown lasted, and the only time I left my house was for my daily walk, I had no true need to wear makeup, and so I could certainly do without a mask.

Later that Sunday, the announcement was made: face coverings were to be mandated in metropolitan Melbourne.

I raged.

It felt as though my blood was literally boiling.  I shook with fury.  I felt the adrenaline surging ferociously through my blood steam.  More than an opportunity to hide my unsightly face, this was a directive to do so.  I was being told to let go of my limit pushing, my comfort zone stretching, my growth opportunity, my healing, and succumb by force to an imposed liberation of my pain.

I didn’t want to be liberated of my pain; at least not like this, without any agency.  I rejected such a notion outright.

I raged and I panicked.  I objected to this mandate with a fierceness that shocked me.  The following is a sequential explanation of why and how I came to object.

Information and guidance communicated by the various governments has been continually changing as this situation has developed, often directly contradicting that which preceded it.  The federal government has information (still currently) published on the Department of Health website that states: “If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask as there is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people to prevent transmission in public.”1 The inconsistencies, whilst perhaps somewhat understandable, are confusing and perplexing.  There’s little if any certainty in this situation, and coupled with the blatant and unabashed censorship taking place, the level of trust in the information being provided by authorities appears to be dwindling.

The Victorian Premier openly stated that the new mandate2 is about “embedding behaviour”3, 4, 5, 6. This is key in my mind: it’s about increasing compliance and control over the community, rather than the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing the spread of disease.  This is essentially a more palatable way of the Premier admitting that psychological manipulation tactics are being employed by the government.

According to the mandate information provided by the Victorian government7, masks do not need to be medical grade, you can make your own, and “any covering is better than none”, including a scarf or bandana.  Whilst “the Chief Health Officer recommends a mask with three layers”, it’s not compulsory.  This laissez faire approach suggests that a high degree of efficacy in preventing transmission is not the intention of the mandate.

If I walk in my local neighbourhood without wearing a face covering, I will be in breach of the mandate, but the instant that I break into a run, or light up a cigarette, I’m no longer in breach (as long as I am carrying a face covering with me).  I’m not qualified to offer a scientific perspective on the matter, but I’m pretty confident that a person who is walking for exercise in the open air within their local neighbourhood without a face covering is not more likely to spread or contract a virus to or from others, than a person who is smoking or running without a face covering.

It seems very clear that now – more so than ever before – we need to be proactively doing all we can for our health and wellbeing, and that the government must encourage and support the community to do so.  It is universally agreed that exercise is a critical component of that, and getting outside to exercise offers additional important health benefits related to fresh air and sunlight.  This mandate will discourage some people from exercising outdoors, such as those who find it difficult or uncomfortable to breathe through a face covering whilst walking, or those with a medical exemption who fear attack for being mask-free in public.

I very openly admit that I am not skilled at interpreting or discerning the quality of scientific studies, so I defer to various professionals and experts that I’ve come to respect and trust over time.  The problem with this method, alongside the confirmation bias8 that I do my best to proactively avert, is that amongst those I defer to, there is generally some degree of discrepancy in interpretation and discernment of scientific literature and thus opinions on any given topic.  So as a non-scientific lay person, it’s very challenging to form firm views based on rational analysis of the information I consume.  I’ve come to realise that this predicament is not unique to me or the lay person in general.  Science is continually advancing and changing, new discoveries are being made and previous conclusions are being replaced with renewed understanding.  We don’t always know what we don’t know.  Additionally, scientists themselves interpret their findings from their own unique perspective which won’t match the interpretation of every other scientist who analyses the data.  Science is never settled. This principle can also be applied to the numbers; there are differences in data source and accuracy, modelling assumptions, and statistical interpretation.  All this leads me to question the government’s decision making process, which we are told is based on the advice of Victorian Chief Health Officer (and the the National Chief Medical Officer federally; the two have had their own discrepancies in opinion and advice proffered). How do we trust that the science and statistics they use in their decision making is the “best”, when scientific and statistical discrepancies abound?  Experts or not, we can only do our best with the information we have. My point is, mandating face coverings is a remarkably significant action.  We can’t definitively claim that it’s justified, especially when the whole world is arguing over the truth.

Based on the information I have considered from those I trust, I have come to my own personal conclusion that I am not convinced that wearing a face covering does not pose any health risk.  There are some experts arguing that there are legitimate, high quality, peer reviewed scientific studies, indicating that there are various potential health risks, including reduced oxygen intake, increased carbon dioxide intake, and increased infection risk.  Others claim that the science indicates there are no proven risks.  I cannot know for certain which stance is correct, but I note the distinction that to my knowledge, there is no science proving the safety of masks.  For this reason, I prefer to take a precautionary approach.

If it’s true that there are risks, I am not qualified to comment on whether they’re warranted in general at this current time in history in order to save lives.  What I can confidently state is my opinion that mandating something that poses a potential health risk in a situation that is openly about “embedding behaviour”, in some unreasonable contexts, with an acceptance of non-efficacious options, is unacceptable.  One person’s health should not be forcibly sacrificed for another’s.  In this instance, the sacrifice isn’t even truly for another, but rather the embedding of behaviour.

I personally would be more willing to consider accepting the potential health risks of wearing a face covering in a context that makes logical sense, such as high traffic areas like shopping centres where people are in close proximity in enclosed spaces.  That is very different to walking outdoors around the local neighbourhood for exercise and fresh air.

The way I ultimately choose to make my own personal health decisions and those for my children, when I have no logically derived scientific or statistical certainty, is to rely on my instinct and intuition.  For example, when I visit my GP, I am given the opportunity to make an informed decision on any suggested treatment options, based on risks and benefits.  There is no certainty in whether any one of those risks will eventuate – but the possibility is the basis of why informed consent is so critical.  I can weigh up the risks and benefits, based on their likelihood and potential impact, but that is not an exact science and so it doesn’t always bring me to a satisfactory conclusion.  And so, instinct and intuition become my guide.  Everything about wearing a face covering arouses a loud and clear NO.

The use of face coverings fundamentally alters our human experience, through interference with our methods of interacting and communicating with our fellow human beings.  Whilst I had an innate sense of this issue and a basic understanding of the elements involved, this video9 clarified the topic well.  When we see someone’s face, we (mostly subconsciously) receive an unimaginably vast multitude of data that we process, interpret and utilise to drive our actions.  If we interact with that person, the amount of data being received is greatly amplified, as we exchange information back and forth in communication, providing feedback and further affecting decision making.  All this information, garnered simply from observing a face, allows us to determine friend or foe, safe or dangerous, known or unknown, and more.  This is an evolutionary survival tool, an innate pattern of behaviour enabling us to navigate safely through our experience of life, and is additionally a critical aspect of the mental and social development of infants and children.  To assess someone’s face is human instinct, and thus when suppressed through the wearing of a face covering, automatically ignites a flight or fight stress response.  The communication to the brain is “Beware: potential danger!” When virtually the entire community is masked, we are forced into this stress response any and every time we are in public (“Everyone I see is potentially dangerous!”), and again when we interact (“I have no information on which to base my interaction decisions!”).  In this respect, to mandate face coverings is to profoundly amplify the stress of an already stressful situation, as well as to deny a fundamental aspect of our humanity.

Mandating any health measure violates bodily sovereignty.  I don’t have the expertise to confidently comment on the complex legalities of this issue that sits within the foundations upon which our society is built, but I can make general observations.  Governments incentivise and penalise certain health related choices as a matter of public health policy, such as through subsidies and taxes.  The intention is to (openly) influence behaviour in a direction the government deems desirable or important, but significantly, the public is ultimately able to exercise choice.  This mandate removes that choice, supposedly justified by the immensely consequential greater good it is said it will achieve.  That is a matter of not unquestionable opinion, and the whole thing smells of dictatorship; removing freedom of choice in this domain is a monumentally significant step in how our community is governed, and must not be simply shrugged off as “necessary under the circumstances”, particularly as a matter of “imbedding behaviour” in some nonsensical contexts, and when a high degree of effectiveness in preventing transmission is so clearly not intended.  I ponder the way in which these health mandates have incrementally progressed, from lockdowns to face coverings, and the uncertainty of what is potentially coming next.

My personal health paradigm is not one of fear, avoidance, symptoms as negative responses to external malevolent forces, pharmaceutical prophylactics, subservience to medical authority, or preventing death at any expense.  My health paradigm is one of self-responsibility for proactively maximising well-being, trust in the self-healing mechanisms of the body, symptoms as homeostatic course correctors and indicators of potential need for support, self-empowered choice and informed consent, and acceptance of death as part of life.  Within my paradigm, I have no fear of any disease whatsoever.  I recognise that every person is potentially susceptible to any illness, so I look to how I might best ensure that my body is well equipped to appropriately respond to any challenge it may encounter.  I realise this may sound utterly ludicrous and ignorant to those outside of my paradigm, but to hold these beliefs and act upon them is a freedom I value immensely, and I passionately object to having my autonomy to do so removed.

I have deliberately avoided before now mentioning anything that could potentially be labelled as a conspiracy theory.  The term has largely been demonised, and unfortunately, it seems that many people will write off any conspiracy theory as nonsense and disengage from the conversation without actually considering the facts presented.  Whilst some conspiracy theories throughout history have proven to be false, others have been proven true, so I keep an open mind (I particularly like the suggestion of referring to the concept instead as a “conspiracy hypothesis”10).  I’m pretty certain I’ve read about all (or at least most) of them related to this current situation, and I’ve considered the potential for their truth and relevance.  At this stage, I haven’t dived deep enough down the various rabbit holes to gather sufficient information of adequate quality to build strong arguments for this specific aspect of the situation at hand.  The following comes close to but doesn’t quite fall into the conspiracy category, and I strongly believe it warrants consideration due to its formidable implications. 

The mandate creates a highly conspicuous, unavoidable, visually discernible division in our community amongst everyone who spends any time in public.  Literally every adult who wears a face covering unavoidably signals their compliance with this mandate (whether deliberately or incidentally), and by implication, their categorisation as someone who is helping to protect themselves, their loved ones and the community, according to the government11, 12, 13, 14, 15.  Everyone else, by implication, unavoidably signals their categorisation at someone who poses risk to themselves and the community according to the government, and then the question potentially arises in the observer as to whether this risk is caused by a lawful exception to, or a breach of the mandate.  Additionally, those who don’t wear face coverings are a minority.  Given the undeniable level of fear that abounds, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate that these factors will further amplify anxiety, create tension, and overall have significantly detrimental psychological effects on the community.  When all of this is considered in combination with the admission that the mandate is about “embedding behaviour”, in absurd contexts, with blatantly inferior options permitted, it makes me sick to the stomach, and I’ve found myself involuntarily recoiling at the symbology implicit in every face covering I see.

I wonder: what would drive a decision to implement and enforce a mandate with such disturbingly destructive consequences?  Is it the virtuous act of a government who believes that embedding this behaviour is the best way to ensure that we get through this situation with the minimum possible death toll?  Is it because the government wants to implement a strategy that they believe will maximise their chances of favourable political outcomes?  Is it somehow linked with the depopulation agenda of a billionaire tech giant?  I don’t know the truth, and I think it’s unlikely I ever will.  In any case, the psychological power of this visual branding, in the way it provides an immediate way to judge and categorise everyone who leaves their home, is profoundly disturbing.

It’s taken me a while to ascertain why this situation has ignited, in addition to the rage and anxiety, such grief within me.  Part of it is because of the loss of our freedoms and our humanity, but I could sense there was something more.  Whilst listening to a (well-timed) podcast16, it dawned on me: I feel as though I’ve lost an aspect of some of the communities I hold so dear.  Friendship and community are built around shared values.  The sense of having found my people in recent years has brought enormous healing and joy.  Previously, the connections that have held my communities together have been unaffected by differences in unrelated values; often, we don’t discuss or even know each other’s stance on various topics because it just doesn’t come up, or we consider it private and off-limits.  Even when it does arise, we can generally accept the differences of opinion and values we have with those we love.  For many of us, like no other situation we’ve ever experienced, this one is so universal, emotive, divisive, and intensely and publicly debated, so whilst theoretically we can still accept our differences of opinion – and believe me, I’m trying – it feels so much more challenging.  The communities where I felt particularly aligned and held have changed these past three weeks.  I still value each and every one of them, and the individuals within them; I love them for who they are.  But I’ve felt a sense of our unity being fractured as I’ve witnessed the harsh judgement and condemnation with which some opinions have been voiced within what I had considered to be conscious and loving communities.  The jabs sting, but the fractures ache.

I’ve debated at length over whether expressing my opinions is safe and warranted.  I’ve described before17 how I’ve grappled with urges to rant and rave on social media.  I’ve held back, partly because I’m scared of the backlash, partly because I can acknowledge that I could be wrong or change my mind, partly because I don’t have all the answers, and partly because I can observe that such an urge is more about an egoic desire to assert my opinions, gain reassurance and support from those who agree, convince everyone else that I’m right and they’re wrong, and generally feel validated.  It’s a worthless pursuit.  Additionally, social media hasn’t proven to be the gold standard in respectful and kind discourse, and as my husband wisely reminds me when I’m letting it get me down, people don’t think before spouting off on these platforms.  It’s too quick and easy to share a nasty meme or pound out a hurtful criticism without a second thought, with the detachment that being behind a screen provides.  Heading into that kind of territory is a potentially treacherous endeavour.

But this is different.  This isn’t social media (although I do intend to share the link via social media), and this is less about relieving an urge; this is considered and positive action.  For sure, the process of clarifying, crystallising and expressing my point of view has been in and of itself gratifyingly cathartic, offering respite from the tension borne of my rage.  But this is more than just a rant.

This platform provides the space and relative safety to share thoughts and ideas, for those who are truly open to considering another’s viewpoints.  My stance – and any stance, respectfully delivered – is worthy of sharing.  Open minded and respectful discussion aids us in forming and continually shaping our opinions.  One smart cookie said to me recently that “sharing or challenging ideas leads to development and change”18, and I wholeheartedly agree.  My audience here is relatively microscopic, yet not insignificant – no audience is insignificant, even if it’s an audience of one – and so to share my stance is to initiate progress. My intention is not to forcefully impose my opinions on others, but to create a space for any open-minded person, of any viewpoint, to consider my arguments.  Additionally, I think it’s particularly relevant in this specific situation that my intention is also to reassure those who align with any aspect of my stance, that they are not alone in their views, and that they are not the irresponsible, uncaring, selfish, ignorant, stupid idiot, “conspiracy theorist” (with it’s negative connotations), crackpot, tin foil hat wearing dissidents that “friends”, family, communities, social media, mainstream media, and the government, may well have them questioning whether they are.  Many of us have loved ones who fall into what is considered a high-risk category, and our stance doesn’t automatically mean we don’t care about them or anyone else, that we value their lives less than ours or that we’re willing to sacrifice anyone.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and we mustn’t let anyone bully us into thinking otherwise.

Having said all that, the mere thought of publishing and publicly sharing my opinions on this topic felt utterly terrifying two weeks ago; I would sweat and shake and feel nauseous every time I contemplated it, given everything I’ve mentioned about the divisive and vicious debate, and my fears about how people might judge and reject me.  I repeatedly asked myself, when I became consumed with writing, why must THIS be the topic on which I feel compelled to write?  Why must THIS be the topic to generate such passion within me?  Why can’t I be passionate about something uncontroversial and safe, like knitting?

I realised this is something I am being called for.  The unrelenting and overwhelming visceral outrage, all the enormous emotions I’ve been experiencing, are messengers sent to tell me in no uncertain terms that I must use my voice.  Passion is not a matter of choice, a truth which can be evidenced by any attempt to fake it.  Rather, we are gifted our passions.  What we do choose is whether we heed the call to follow them.  A part of me desperately wished that I could ignore the call and stay hidden safe inside my box, but I’ve learned that ignoring such a powerful call is lethal; an ignored passion will starve, rot, and fester, eating away at you from the inside out.  I know that writing brings me joy, that transcribing my messy emotions and thoughts into crystallised concepts lights me up.  More specifically, using the written word as my conduit to distil the essence of conscious living is so blissfully fulfilling.  Deep down, I recognised that the passion aroused within me was about more than voicing my objection to the mandate; it was a gateway to my calling, to inspiring an awakening to consciousness through my writing.

This realisation has allowed me to form self-compassion for my suffering of the past three weeks, enabling me to let go of resistance and the need to “fix” it, because I know now that it serves a sacred purpose.  Knowing that the purpose of my astonishingly intense feelings was to ignite my action didn’t automatically eliminate my fear though.

As much as being petrified felt like an undeniable and justified reality, I recognised that my feelings were borne of stories, created by my ego, doing a superb job of what it evolved to do: ensure my survival.  The ego is supremely paranoid, always on the lookout and creating stories of potential pathways from an idea or intention to the worst-case scenario that it seeks to avoid at all costs: death.  Stories of judgement, ridicule, humiliation, vilification and rejection, that could plausibly result from voicing my opinion, threatened annihilation to an ego that hasn’t evolved beyond its original paradigm where, thousands upon thousands of years ago, these sorts of threats literally could spell death.  My ego responded to the threat by initiating the intensely unpleasant physical sensations of terror (sweating, shaking, nausea) knowing I would naturally try to escape and avoid them, thus preventing my demise.  “Don’t do the thing (voice your opinion) that is making you feel bad (sweating, shaking, nausea) and then the negative outcome of the thing (judgement, ridicule, humiliation, vilification and rejection) won’t happen and so you won’t die!”  But in modern times, this survival mechanism is largely redundant, and often holds us back; when survival is practically ensured (voicing political opinion isn’t deadly in our society) we have an opportunity to evolve to the next level: to thrive.  I can recognise the fear for what it is, reassess how detrimental the potential outcomes of my action truly are, and decide whether I’m willing to accept the risk of them eventuating for the benefits to be derived from taking the action.

As the days have passed since initially deciding to write this essay, I’ve been able to use this recognition of ego as a practice, to gradually strengthen my resolve to share what I write.  My final reassurance19 came in the form of the following passage by Brené Brown that I synchronistically happened upon:

“In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today.  Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”  Over time, this definition has changed, and today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic.  Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage.  Heroics is often about putting our life on the line.  Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.

… [C]ourage has a ripple effect. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver.”20

It turns out that stretching beyond the limits of my comfort zone in relation to my blotchy face has been my training ground.  Beyond healing the story of my shame, it has been a satisfyingly metaphorical preparation for the courage required to step into my calling, and for disengaging from the stories that will attempt to dissuade me from doing so.

Opportunities for personal development, which have always been available but often go overlooked, are being thrust in our faces in 2020, as though some higher power is desperately attempting to grab our attention and initiate the next step in our evolution.  My hope and most important purpose of this writing is that by taking up my own such opportunities, the ripple effect might illuminate those available to you, and inspire you to be courageous enough to seize them.

This is not an insistence that everyone should stand on their respective soap boxes and declare to the world their stance on the current global situation and it’s related issues.  What it is, is a series of invitations.  An invitation to consciousness. An invitation to consider the truth of your heart, what it is that moves you, that rouses your passion, that lights you up.  An invitation to honour yourself, and to heal.  How this looks for you is something that you alone can determine.

As I witness with a desperate anxiety what I perceive to be the self-destruction of humanity (if that seems overly dramatic, here’s a wonderful podcast21 for some context), I concurrently know that my power is in consciously holding a vision for something different.  I understand that our effect on the world is determined by our consciousness.  Whilst I’m certainly light years away from being anything like an enlightened master, the sequence of events in my personal experience this past three weeks has taught me that in order to create the world we desire, we must first acknowledge, and then transcend, our egoic tendencies.  Wayne Dyer, in his book “The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way”, provided a wonderful story to illustrate this concept:

I recall hearing the following conversation after the events of 9/11 in New York City.  A grandfather was talking to his grandson, telling him, “I have two wolves barking inside of me.  The first wolf is filled with anger, hatred, bitterness and mostly revenge.  The second wolf inside of me is filled with love, kindness, compassion and mostly forgiveness.”

“Which wolf do you think will win?” the young boy inquired.

The grandfather responded, “Whichever one I feed.”22

We all essentially want the same thing – to be well, and all that that comprises in the context of the human experience.  Recognising our unity in this desire can fortify the commitment required to do the endless work of conscious living, of letting go of our compulsion to divide right from wrong and good from bad, so that we can work together to create positive change.  Consider if, instead of the fear, anxiety, anger and division that is rife in the world right now, we fostered a sense of calm, positivity, resilience, unity and possibility.  What kind of healing would be possible for the world then?

Disappointingly, for someone with such an obvious penchant for a good metaphor, my red mask analogy doesn’t extend to the end of this essay in the way my ego would prefer.  Ideally, the conclusion would describe how the practice of publicly walking free of my protective mask of makeup built up my strength and courage to virtuously take a stand for what matters to me, knowing that I could survive any judgement, criticism, or challenge that resulted from upholding my stance by ignoring the mandate.  By leaving home for my daily walk without a protective face covering, I would be exposing my stance as well as my face, healing my fear as well as my shame.  I would be honouring myself by honouring my values.  I would be playing my role in healing some part of the suffering that occurs as a result of the mandate, rather than hiding behind a mask and pretending the suffering doesn’t exist.  Alas, that’s not how the story transpired.

In truth, I’ve played by the rules of this game.  In my panic, I obtained a written exemption from my GP the morning following the announcement (I have since discovered that a lawful exemption does not need to be evidenced in writing23).  I could be accused of selling out; there’s a part of me (hello, ego!) that feels unworthy of an exemption.  Based on a combination of my beliefs and opinions and the knowledge that there are others who don’t want to wear a mask but don’t qualify for an exemption, I feel like I’m letting them down by abandoning them in their time of need, rather than acting in solidarity and support.  I’m grateful and relieved to be exempt, but initially my rage was burning so fiercely that I wanted someone to give me schtick in public for breaching the mandate, just so I could blast them with my righteous opinions, discharging the tension of my anger (realistically, I’d be much more likely to rush away in fright, my eyes brimful with tears).

For some time, I wasn’t sure whether or not, if I wasn’t exempt, I would intentionally contravene the mandate.  My conditioning certainly primes me very powerfully to be subservient to authority, obey rules and avoid rocking the boat.  On the other hand, part of me wanted to think I would find the courage of my convictions to ignore the mandate, less as an act of protest, and more as an act of honouring my values.  But I wasn’t convinced that civil disobedience was the most positive or meaningfully helpful action.

This question of what I’d do was hypothetical, but it felt important to address; I wanted to be prepared in case the situation changes.  Upon reflection, I realised that neither option would be feeding my preferred wolf, so I decided to conjure a better alternative.  I determined that I could sacrifice my beloved daily walk and take sanctuary in my home, free from a face covering, free in my actions being driven by autonomous value-based choices, free from any trace of negativity, and continue to take lawful, positive, meaningful action24 regarding my passionate stance on the mandate.  That feels beautifully aligned, and I feel prepared.  Regardless, for now it’s a situation I’m fortunate not to be forced to face.

On the first day that the mandate took effect, I headed out for my daily walk around the local wetlands, sans mask.  I observed my mind going wild with fearful stories of people yelling at me, people muttering under their (masked) breath at me, people thinking I was a “bad” person, even just people wondering if I was in breach and thus potentially “bad”.  The unlikely possibility of being questioned by a police officer also struck fear in me, regardless of my lawful exemption (that’s a story of being conditioned to fear authority figures, for another day!).  I observed the egoic mechanism that transformed these fearful thoughts into physical sensations in my body: nausea, muscle tension, clenched jaw, increased temperature, hyper alertness, jitters.  I focused on my breath: the unhindered inhalation of fresh air, the free flow of my exhale.  I focused on gratitude for the privilege of unobstructed breathing.  I focused on gratitude for the blessing of living a two-minute walk from the wetlands, enabling me to immerse in nature.  I focused on looking for opportunities to extend friendliness toward passers-by through a smile and hello.  As the days have passed, the fear has dissipated, as has my rage and anxiety, clearing the way for me to direct my energies towards positive action.  My conscious practice has enabled my nervous system to settle, taking me out of fight or flight reactionary stress, and into rest and digest, where I can move beyond survival mode to assimilate the lessons of this experience.  It has enabled me to follow the call of my passion and joy, and play my part after all, in healing some part of the suffering that occurs as a result of the mandate, through my words.

No matter what our personal challenges, we are always served by approaching them with consciousness.  When we heal ourselves, we clear the path to our joy, our passions, and our callings; that’s when we thrive and heal the planet.  That is our opportunity in 2020.

Footnotes & References:

  1. Information on the use of surgical masks, Australian Government Department of Health.
  2. Face Coverings: Whole of Victoria, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services.
  3. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-19/face-masks-melbourne-victoria-rules-who-needs-to-wear-them/12470640
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/19/coronavirus-australia-victoria-reports-three-more-deaths-and-363-new-cases-as-masks-made-mandatory-in-melbourne
  5. https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/coronavirus-australia-victorian-covid19-cases-spread-at-work/news-story/2f93001e26a77ff8508e9caff00804f3
  6. https://www.smartcompany.com.au/coronavirus/face-masks-mandated-melbourne-workplace/
  7. Face Coverings: Whole of Victoria, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services.
  8. Confirmation bias is defined by Dictionary.com as “bias that results from the tendency to process and analyze information in such a way that it supports one’s preexisting ideas and convictions”.
  9. Mask Facts: The Science & History of Masks in Medicine, by Shawn Stevenson.  See the video, specifically from the 27:27 mark.
  10. Warding off viruses of the mind – Critical thinking skills with Dr. Tim Sharpe, The Energy Blueprint Podcast with Ari Whitten (includes transcript).
  11. “[Y]ou need to remember to take something to cover your face – to help keep you and our community safe.” (Face coverings mandatory for Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services, 19th July 2020.)
  12. “[B]y covering your face, you’re protecting your community” (Statement from the Premier – 30 July 2020, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services, 30th July 2020.)
  13. “[T]hese changes are fundamentally about protecting the people you love.” (Statement from the Premier – 30 July 2020, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services, 30th July 2020.)
  14. “Wearing a face covering helps keep you and others safe.” (Face coverings: Whole of Victoria, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services, 3rd August 2020.)
  15. “Face coverings are an additional protective physical barrier to protect you and your loved ones.” (Face coverings: Whole of Victoria, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services, 3rd August 2020.)
  16. Why Spending Time With Your Friends Is More Important Than You Think with Dhru Purohit, Feel Better Live More Podcast with Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
  17. In support of all the irresponsible, uncaring, selfish, ignorant, stupid idiot, conspiracy theorist, crackpot, tin foil hat wearing dissidents, by Rachael Stella.
  18. Thanks Adrianna Griffith x
  19. Additionally: for the cheer leading and (virtual!) hand holding, my deep loving gratitude goes to Cammie, David, Kristie and Sarah xxxx.
  20. Brown, B (2010) The Gifts of Imperfection, USA.
  21. Zach Bush: Our Covid-19 assumptions are wrong: why social distancing & vaccines will make the pandemic worse, London Real Podcast with Brian Rose.
  22. Dyer, W (2006) The Power of Intention, Carlsbad, USA
  23. Face Coverings: Whole of Victoria, Victoria State Government Health and Human Services.
  24. For example, I used this link (provided by Vic Freedom Keepers) to guidelines and a template letter, which I personalised to send to my local state MP expressing my objection to the mandate.

Additional Recommended Reading:

On mindfulness, conscious living, and moving beyond the stronghold of the ego:

On the current narrative:

On conspiracy:

Psychological perspective on the current situation:

Note: this page contains affiliate links.

Featured image by Wendy Corniquet from Pixabay

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Everything is Perfect

Beautiful girl, it’s ok. Really. Everything is just fine, and nothing is wrong. In fact, everything is perfect. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. And any which way you go will be the perfect way, too. 

You haven’t failed, expectations are worthless, and you don’t need to do anything. Really, not anything. You are worthy as you are, simply because you are. You don’t have to earn your worthiness; it’s inherent. And you don’t owe anyone anything. Not anyone, not anything. Nothing at all. 

It’s ok to relax. It’s safe to trust the process. Your journey will give you everything you need to learn and grow.

And that journey, it has no destination. There’s nowhere to arrive. It’s all simply an experience. An experience filled with both light and dark. It helps to remember that the dark can always be transmuted by the light. 

You are perfect, whole and complete, right here, right now, as you are. You are so loved. Unconditionally. And nothing can change any of that. 

You are already playing your role – perfectly – in enabling the divine purpose of the Universe to unfold.  It’s incredible and breathtakingly beautiful. And it’s impossible to mess up.

Let go. Breathe. Everything is perfect. 

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What’s going well in your life?

During a recent kinesiology session, my kinesiologist asked me to share about what is going well in my life right now. I faltered, and struggled to come up with much, apart from some aspects of my parenting that I’ve been working to improve.

I’ve been reflecting on the conversation, because it bothered me that my perspective has been so negative, that I’ve been thinking that there’s something “not good enough” about just about every aspect of my life. This tends to happen when I don’t keep up my gratitude practice, or when my meditation practice falters, or any number of other reasons. I recognised that when I focus on the positive, I feel better, so I decided to write a list of all that is going well in my life. I’m pleased to say that I almost filled the page. 

I was also reflecting on all the things that I’ve been thinking aren’t going well/aren’t good enough, and thought it might be helpful to shift my approach and write a list of “what I want to improve in my life”.  As it turned out, that list was actually much shorter, less than half a page. Writing it out helped me to realise that I’d been catastrophising. 

I also realised that a lot of what I wrote, in both lists, matched a bigger list I wrote 2 months ago, of all my desires. I realised that many of my desires have actually manifested, and for the ones that haven’t, it’s much more helpful to focus on desiring them and how good their manifestation will feel, than to lament that they’re not yet my reality, which only serves to propel me onto a downward trajectory. 

It seems to be a recurring theme for me (ahem, I suspect I’m not the only one!) that I cycle through phases of feeling good about where I’m at, and feeling not so good about where I’m at.  I’m realising with greater clarity that the circumstances don’t need to change for me to feel good about where I’m at, but rather it’s a matter of focus. It can be a conscious choice, rather than a result of what’s happening externally in my life. 

I’m becoming much clearer about what I truly desire, what’s working for me, what’s not working for me, and how I’m willing to invest my time and energy. I’m learning to let go of outdated and unhelpful standards that I set for myself in the past regarding what success means and looks like to me. I’m learning, slowly, to let go of basing how I feel about where I’m at in my life, on how I think other people are judging me about where I’m at. It hasn’t been easy to let go of that one – it’s a work in progress. I’m so aware that a life filled with choices based on the opinions of others is not a happy life. And I’m aware that even if I make choices for myself, constant angst about what others think about my choices is not a happy way to live either. Awareness and understanding do not necessarily equal integration … to be continued!

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Exhibitionist in hiding

I’m noticing, with curiosity and (my best attempt at) non-judgement, that I’m in a strange place at the moment.

These past few months have seen my health improve dramatically, after a really challenging period, in response to committed effort with the help and support of my health practitioners and family. This is such a joyful relief.

As I’ve improved physically, mentally and emotionally, I’ve become inspired to write and share again, after what felt like a long period of hibernation. It feels so good.

And yet, there’s a part of me that is holding back.

I am learning to accept and embrace that I love putting myself out there and sharing. And with my words and imagery, that is so joyful and satisfying. But it’s also safe, because I can hide behind my screen to achieve this. But there is a part of me that yearns to share more – more intimately, more of me. I don’t want to hide, I want to express myself.

There have been instances where I’ve contemplated sharing a photo or video of myself. Nothing outrageous, just more me.

But the contemplation doesn’t last long. I’m experiencing a period of self-consciousness & my self-confidence is shot, because it seems that the final frustrating and baffling hurdle of my health journey is stubbornly plastered across my face for the world to see. Painful cystic acne that has returned with a vengeance, rosacea, and eye problems that refuse to be hidden under makeup. It all got too much today, and I felt sore and sorry for myself, and the tears flowed.

I’m not fishing for sympathy or reassurance (or advice!). Reassurance is useless when you don’t believe it for yourself. And I trust that there’s a lesson for me in this experience, and that working through it myself, with selective support, will bring me to a place of acceptance and healing.

I’m sharing for the reason I always do – sharing about my experiences is part of who I am, it feels good, and it might serve someone who is reading.

It’s interesting to observe how this has rattled me. I take pride in my appearance, and like to look my best, but I didn’t consider myself to be vain or overly concerned with my looks. And yet, this experience has demonstrated that when my perception of my appearance falls so far short of what I believe to be an acceptable standard, it affects me in so many ways. How I show up in public. How I feel about socialising with friends and family. How I panic when a loved one moves to kiss me on the cheek. How much I avoid interacting with strangers. What my inner voice says when I look in the mirror. And how I hide as much as possible.

There was a point when I thought that the best thing for me to do would be to overcome this self-consciousness by feeling the fear and doing it anyway – selfies, videos, just rip off the bandaid and get over it. But on reflection, I don’t think that’s what I need, I don’t think it would be helpful, and it’s just not where I’m at. Vulnerability can be a beautiful thing, but it needs to be held in a container of trust. It’s self preservation to know the difference between baring your soul in a trusting relationship compared with the local gossip. And putting my face online right now would feel like giving the town gossip flyers to hand out to everyone with the headline “Doesn’t she look hideousl!”

I’ll come out of my shell and grow my visibility when I’m good & ready. It’s healthy to acknowledge that I don’t possess the trust required to so yet. And it’s ok to be gentle with myself. I make the rules.

In the meantime, I’ll keep sharing from the heart, from behind the screen, in the way that feels good. 😘

Image by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

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Do you modulate your light?

I’ve been recognising a pattern in myself lately, that I teased out in a kinesiology session with my miracle-worker Sarah from Ignite Kinesiology (note: I do acknowledge that our sessions are actually a collaboration 😊) .  

I’ve been a people pleaser, I’m an introvert (some would scoff, but it’s truth!), and I often experience (mild) social anxiety. The truth is, on some level, I’m kinda scared of people (or more accurately, the power I give others to determine my self worth is scary). I’ve recognised lately that the combined energy of these traits has me modulate the way I interact with people, in an attempt to accomodate their energy, and therefore avoid being negatively judged. 

A simple example is when I’m taking my morning walk.  A while back, I decided to be brave and to greet passers by, something that felt like an uncomfortable stretch. The friendliness/volume/energy of my “hello” to passers-by will depend on how I assess their energy – Do they look friendly? Are they likely to reply? Will they think I’m a weirdo? … I’ll offer a hearty greeting to the person with a big smile and a jaunty step, I’ll be brave enough to mumble a “Morning” to the quiet-looking person minding their own business, and I’ll keep my mouth shut if someone looks grumpy or judgemental.

I acknowledge the importance of situational energy assessment and behaviour modulation in relating with others. But I think there’s a line to be drawn between appropriately managing/negotiating an interaction, and dimming your light. 

It’s so easy to shine your brightest when you feel confident in being well received. When another person is on the same page, likes you, supports you, and openly demonstrates all this, you feel held and encouraged to be your best. 

It’s not so easy to bring your best self to a situation if your ego feels threatened or vulnerable. If someone doesn’t like you, is focused on their own problems, or holds strong opinions in opposition to your own, there’s a good chance that your ego will take a battering if you share yourself in all of your fullness. 

But what has become more apparent to me recently, is that when I allow my egoic protection mechanisms to modulate how brightly I shine my light, a beautiful opportunity is missed. 

What if, I took a chance, recognising that an ego slam isn’t death, and opened my heart, despite the fear?  

I could be laughed at. 

I could be ignored. 

I could have to engage in an uncomfortable conversation. 

Unpleasant experiences perhaps, but not the end of the world. 

Or …

I could brighten someone’s day. 

I could remind someone to smile. 

I could make someone feel good. 

I could re-ignite the light in another. 

I’ve been avoiding these opportunities, allowing my ego to dictate my actions. Survival mechanisms are hard-wired, and it takes a willingness and conscious effort to move beyond them. 

But as I clarify my desired energy, experiences, interactions and impact in this lifetime, I can recognise that letting my ego steer the ship doesn’t support any of that. Engaging with others from a higher perspective – a soul perspective – is what will. As Sarah helped me to realise, when I’m embodying my desired energy, people receive my light, and this is the driver of my possibility. 

So I’ll start with my morning walk. And I’ll continue experimenting. 

How about you? Do you modulate your light?

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Desire is of the Divine

For the longest time, the negative voice in my head, that I had always thought was me, ruthlessly scolded and shamed me for my dissatisfaction, for desiring more. And for the longest time, thinking that the voice was me, I believed every word. And so, for the longest time, I felt so much guilt. I thought it meant I was ungrateful for my blessings, and undeserving of more. I felt so guilty and ashamed, that the very idea of ever actually attempting to achieve that “more” would be immoral. And of course, when I worked up the audacity to try anyway, subconscious self-sabotage reigned.

But now that I know that the negative voice isn’t me, now that I’m recognising that I can hear it and disagree with it, I’m realising something else. I perceive bodily sensations that come along with these thoughts, and I realise, in hindsight, that they’ve been present all along.

My body bristles, seething in rebellion against the restriction of denying my desires. I previously mistook the discomfort of these feelings to be confirmation that my yearnings for better and more were wrong and should thus be quashed. But I know now, on reflection, that this visceral sensation is my body communicating to me that my thoughts about my desires are out of alignment with the divine source within me.

Desires are meant to feel good. Their purpose is to drive us to achieve or obtain something. They’re the motivation behind virtually everything we do. Even when we’re pursuing seemingly selfless aims, we do so because we know that doing the “right” thing will make us feel good (or at least prevent feeling bad), and we desire to feel good and avoid feeling bad. Desires are part of our design; they are of the divine.

Nothing is inherently good or bad, right or wrong. It is our critical mind, with all its conditioning, that makes judgements of right from wrong, good from bad. It is only when this judgemental mind gets involved that we work ourselves into a mess over our desires. We load them with meaning, heaviness, and struggle.

By all means, use the gift of your critical thinking to assess and confirm whether a desire is truly in alignment with your highest good. But once you’ve confirmed that it is, leave it at that. Continued analysis is likely to be that critical voice, hijacking your desires.

Dream your dreams. Revel in your wishes. Fill your imagination with the glories of all that your heart and soul desires. Allow yourself to feel the light-hearted, deep joy that their manifestation will bring. It’s all a part of your divine purpose.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

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Thoughts: What am I doing? What do I want to do? What is my purpose? Motherhood isn’t my be all and end all, I know there is more. I try stuff, but it doesn’t quite feel right. I get excited about stuff, but I eventually lose my enthusiasm. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been floundering with this for ever.  I think I’m destined to live, stuck in this limbo of “not knowing”, for the rest of my life. I’m a failure. Always have been. Always will be.

Feelings: Frustration. Annoyance. Despair. Shame. Resignation.

Thoughts: Hold on. Practice presence. Observe the thoughts. They’re not the truth. They’re not me, because I’m the one observing them.

Frustrations climaxed as I struggled with my ego one again.  When I finally began to quiet my mind and go within last week, this 2 word phrase  – LIFE INTENDED – came to me. Since then, it has continued to flutter into my awareness, seemingly wanting to make itself known.  Something about it feels so right, but it’s taken some reflection to tease out exactly what this phrase is about for me.

My life experiences, especially since becoming a mother, and even more significantly over the past 12 months, have ignited a rage within me. A rage about the fact that we, as a species, have fallen so out of sync with what LIFE INTENDED, and that this is hurting us deeply, even destroying us. I want to share with you (a non-exhaustive list of) what is enraging me.

In our modern society, we (mostly mothers) raise our children largely in isolation, brewing stress, emotional disharmony, mental illness (particularly post-natal depression), and overall ill health. So many of us believe that if we’re not attending to everyone’s needs, maintaining our home, contributing to the household income, keeping up a social life, looking hot, and following our dreams, we aren’t doing it right. We even believe that if we’re not super busy and stressed and exhausted, we must be lazy.

We live in climate controlled, airtight (even energy efficiency has its down side) homes and workplaces, cut off from the nature of which we are a part.

We eat chemically-laden, highly processed foods that our ancestors wouldn’t even recognise, that mess with the intricate and perfect physiological design of our masterpiece bodies, causing imbalance and ill health. Even if we eat what most would consider a “healthy” diet filled with real food (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, meats, seafood etc.), if it’s conventionally farmed, it’s still hurting us thanks to all the chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics and more that are considered essential for modern farming practices.

We sit and stare at screens, often for hours at a time, straining our eyesight, destroying our posture, and addicting ourselves to passive digital entertainment, social media, and the dopamine rush of “follows” and “likes”.

We expose ourselves to artificial light, messing with our circadian rhythms, our hormones, our ability to get the quality sleep that our bodies need.

We expose ourselves to thousands of chemicals via air pollution, transportation, off-gassing from furniture and household fixtures and fittings, cleaning products, personal care products, air fresheners, medications and more, again messing with our physiology.

We visit doctors, expecting pills to cure our ills, creating side effects and failing to address what caused the issue in the first place.

We consume media, believing the hype, forgetting to question the source, the purpose, the money trail.

We have ravaged our environment: polluting seas and lands, decimating forests, triggering mass extinctions, slaughtering fertile lands, depleting natural resources and instigating catastrophic climate change.

We put our heads in the sand, because it’s all too hard – someone else will deal with it. Or we seek all of the answers outside of ourselves, having long forgotten the access we have to eternal wisdom within us. We’ve lost our way.

This was never what LIFE INTENDED.

Sometimes, I yearn to escape this madness, to get off the grid and back to nature to reconnect with that which LIFE INTENDED. To live how LIFE INTENDED us to live. Don’t scoff – I’m as attached to my modern conveniences as the next person, but a part of me knows that this way of life comes as a tremendous, devastating price.  And so I fantasise.

The rage has bubbled up within me again this year as I’ve suffered the consequences of living out of sync with what LIFE INTENDED. Multiple hormonal imbalances. Depression. Anxiety. Overwhelm. Brain fog. Memory and word recall problems. Addictive behaviours. A crippling lack of self-esteem. Disconnection. And more – all of the cascading set of symptoms that essentially stem from the same source: not living as LIFE INTENDED.

These consequences – this was never what LIFE INTENDED.

So, what was it that LIFE INTENDED for us?

To live in harmony with nature, because that is what we are.

To be in community (in person, not just online). To raise our families with abundant support. To rest when we’re tired. To spend most of our time outdoors. To eat from nature’s bounty. To move our bodies every day. To rise with the sun and sleep when it sets. To utilise nature’s gifts. To value and care for our environment. To be attuned to our own intuition, our connection with Source.

I know that I’m not off my rocker in recognising this. I do appreciate many of the modern marvels and gifts of our ingenuity, the advances that we’ve made in medicine, technology, science and more. I’m not suggesting that we throw this all away to live as the animals do. But I believe, with all of my heart, that we desperately need to find balance, back toward what LIFE INTENDED.

Changing our ways, globally, is a dauntingly massive task, but the ache in my heart knows that it’s vital. The rage within is a gift, communicating the urgency and importance of such an undertaking.

I don’t want to focus on the problem. It was necessary that it to be brought to my attention, so that I could crystallise what it is that I’m aiming to achieve. And now, I know.

It’s time to focus on living as LIFE INTENDED.  It’s what I’ve been trying to work my way towards, without having specifically identified it as such.  But all the research, reading, podcast listening, documentary watching, meditating, diet changes, lifestyle changes, habit changes, purchasing changes … everything has been geared towards this: supporting myself and my family to live closer to the way LIFE INTENDED.  The purpose I’ve been searching for has been weaving it’s way into my life for years now.  It’s not something else “out there”.  It’s here, what I’m already doing, for me and my family.

If you’re so inclined, I’d love to support you to do the same.

Main image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

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Weaving webs of consciousness

My heart aches.  A dull and persistent ache.  I feel it distinctly, physically, and yet I know, with a quiet confidence, that it is not from some physical pathology.  It’s an energetic, emotional ache.  I’m well practised, as I believe so many of us are, at ignoring it.  At getting on with things, relegating it down to the bottom of the list of priorities, because life is “busy”.  From time to time I notice it and acknowledge it.  When I get still and quiet, there is space for it to be felt and acknowledged.  I question where it comes from.  At times it builds to a seemingly “out-of-the-blue” and unexplainable fit of anxiety.  I do my best to squash it, to make it go away.  But it doesn’t.  It stays.  Waiting for me to listen to its message.

The morning was cold and foggy.  After the rigmarole of school drop off, I rugged up and headed out for my morning walk, looking forward to moving my body in the crisp cool air.  Not long after reaching the wetlands, a 2 minute walk from my front door, I was greeted with spider webs.  Hundreds and hundreds of dew-drop covered spider webs covering almost every tree, bush and plant along my trail.  Web covered branches reminded me of fairy floss sticks, wrapped in the gauzy layers of spiders silk.  Single strands stretched loosely from bush to bush.  Spectacular orb webs were to be found here and there, and every corner of every railing was decorated in patterns of strung pearls.  The spiders had spent a very productive night.


Whilst I marvelled at the beauty of their creations, it struck me that the Spider, one of my Soul Essences, hadn’t occupied my thoughts in quite some time.  Always seeking to understand the communications of the Universe, I wondered “Is she speaking to me now through this marvellous display?”  Surely she must be; it seemed so blatantly obvious that she was pulling out all the stops to garner my attention with such an extravagant exhibition laid out before me on my path where it would be virtually impossible to ignore.  Whilst I’m always seeking to understand the messages of the Universe, there are plenty of times when I succumb to downplaying or dismissing them out of laziness or doubt.  It can be easier to ignore them, feign ignorance, or justify their meaninglessness, allowing me to sit in my familiar comfort zone and go on pretending that I don’t know what I need to do rather than having to get uncomfortable taking new and unfamiliar action.  Not today – she was in my face, staring me down, almost daring me to ignore the voice of my soul.

The messages and symbology of my Spider are many and varied, and I have a tendency to psychoanalyse them til the cows come home, which is really not the way that soul communication works.  But putting aside the intricacies of who she is in my life, today her message was loud and clear: Slow down.  Take note.  Go within.  Listen.  The answers are within.  Your effect on the world is determined by your consciousness.

I’ve been hearing these whispers the past few months, but they’ve been quiet enough that I’ve managed to override them with reasoning that seems so sensible that it’s been easy to follow: You’ve got work to do, you don’t have time to slow down.  You can get to that later.  You’re building a new business.  And you love it, you’re committed to it, it’s in alignment with your desires and values and visions, you have a purpose now, so you’ve got to get on with it!  Action action action!  Just do all the things first, then you can get back to the business of soul alignment.

Ha.  You’d think I would have learnt that lesson by now.  It turns out old habits die hard, especially when they’re upheld by societal trends and norms.  And what has the outcome been for me?  Anxiety.  Unnecessary stress.  Lack of flow.  Anguish.  Despair.  The pain in my heart.

As I began more deeply exploring the spiritual path a few years ago, I thought that the answers to my yearning for a purpose-driven life would be neatly spelt out for me with step by step instructions handed to me by my soul.  In hindsight, it’s no surprise that I struggled with that soul journey, and have as yet been unable to complete it, given how ego driven it was.  Because here’s the thing: the soul’s journey operates in a completely different paradigm to the ego’s desires.

Purpose is not necessarily a fixed task.  A God-given mission does not necessarily align with modern ideals of a stellar career and financial “success”, however you define that.  And whilst it is perfectly possibly to create these successes in alignment with your divine purpose, I’m coming to realise that much of my soul searching and yearning has in fact been an ego driven desire for significance, recognition, specialness and worthiness.  I’m quite certain I’m not alone in that.

My Spider was reminding me that consciousness is the only way forward.  The quality of my consciousness impacts my experience of life, impacts those I interact with, impacts the world, indeed the Universe.  My heart chakra pain had a message for me, and I needed to face it square on, acknowledge it, feel it, accept its presence, and bring the full light of my consciousness to it, for it to be transmuted.  Continuing to avoid the pain would have prolonged it and made it worse as it grews in an effort to make itself heard.  My body, my soul, the Universe, were all telling me that I was off course, because the truth of my desire is that I want to weave webs of consciousness that will positively impact the Universe.

So many of us are disconnected.  From our bodies, our environments, each other, our souls, the Universe.  Our culture does not support a way of being in which we can tune in and connect and be guided towards healing and deep satisfaction.  We are so heavily scheduled, rushed, pressured, and distracted that we become disconnected and disengaged.  It strikes me that so many of us are so disconnected that we don’t even notice our pain.  It blends into the background.  We don’t realise how sick we are or how unwell we feel, until it grows to a point where it’s impossible to ignore: disease, severe pain, catastrophic life events.  We don’t realise that our bodies, our souls, the Universe, are constantly in communication with us, offering warning signals that we’re heading down an unfavourable path and that we’d be wise to course correct.  We’ve forgotten how to receive and interpret that communication.  We’re too distracted and focused on externalities to hear the quiet whispers.  We have bought into the modern mantra of busy-ness, constantly doing and striving.  We don’t even realise that we could feel so much better than we do, we aren’t even aware that we’ve accepted that feeling pretty crap is just how life is.  So many of us are deaf and blind to what is possible, how good it can be.  We don’t take action to improve things or even acknowledge what isn’t working, until we reach breaking point and crisis hits.

We’ve forgotten that:

  • We are inherently lovable, loved, and worthy, without needing to earn it.
  • We are of God/the Universe, therefore all the answers we seek are within.
  • Working and striving and seeking won’t bring answers. Getting still, quiet, and going within will.

This doesn’t mean that we should all sit around navel gazing and twiddling our thumbs.  What it does mean is that when our minds and our lives are overflowing with chaos and confusion and endless distraction, it’s an act of courage and commitment (and ultimately, productivity) to consciously slow down and turn inward.  If we are to live lives of meaning and contribution and fulfilment and divine purpose, the action that achieves that must be fuelled by connection to our divinity, which is found by going within.  It cannot come from a sense of duty or obligation or pressure derived from external sources.  Soul alignment doesn’t happen through blindly following societal norms, or even forcing yourself to conform to someone else’s idea of conscious living.

So give yourself a break.  Stop pushing so hard.  Take a stand for your life and your legacy and opt out of the disconnection.  Become aware of the unending impulse to be numbed out with mindless entertainment via ever-available devices and their social media rabbit holes designed to lure and capture us with distraction and quasi-connection.  Remove the overwork, over-scheduling, overwhelm and busy-ness from the pedestal that society seems to have placed it on – it has no place there whatsoever, and it’s killing us.  I dare you to slow down, get quiet, and listen.  Listen to your body, feel its sensations.  Notice your thoughts.  Cultivate an ability to cut through the thoughts so that you may hear the voice of your soul.  And discover a life worth living.

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Mindfulness: A practice, not a desination

I’ve spend much of the past three months forgetting to apply much of what I’ve learnt over the past three and a half years. I’ve been focused on the future, attached to a specific idea of success, falling into old habitual thought patterns, and failing to practice presence.

The effects of this have not been pretty. Yearning, worrying, failing, and then judging myself for said failures, criticising myself, and then feeling self loathing, shame, despair, anguish, and excruciating frustration. All of which continues in a negative loop.

Self analysis comes easily to me and I am self aware. I’ve been able to see what I’m doing and how it’s affecting my world, but the excruciating part has been feeling powerless to change it. Especially when I know that I have the tools.

None of this is actually all that surprising. You see, this new journey I’m on with building a dōTERRA business is stretching me like nothing before. It’s taking me out of my comfort zone, and forcing me to address blockages and pain points that I’ve avoided and hidden from for years. And as a result, my ego is going bananas, fighting tooth and nail to survive.

You see, the ego is an ancient evolutionary survival mechanism. Its purpose is to keep us alive and safe. It evolved to ensure that we would focus on danger, threats and negativity (such as the tiger that might be hunting us or the condemnation of our tribe that might see us thrown out and left unprotected) and then do whatever it takes to prevent them from eventuating. And it’s bloody good at its job – because back in the day, it was quite literally a matter of life and death.

So my ego is keenly aware that if I am to achieve the vision I’ve created for my business, I’m going to have to do things that feel very threatening:

  • Share and speak my truth in ways that will resonate with some, but that will be negatively judged by others: there will be people who won’t like me and my message.
  • Drop negative subconscious programming around “success” and generating income, which will take me into unchartered waters i.e. unfamiliarity and discomfort.
  • Drop my habitual thought patterns of “I’m a failure”, “I’m incapable”, “I’m ashamed of myself”, “I’m not good enough”, and “I’ll never succeed”, which are all very effective at keeping me small and safe and dependent.

So whilst I’ve been wallowing in despair, anguish, self hate and frustration, my ego has been high fiving itself for a job well done. Cause there ain’t no one gonna build a successful business off the back of that!

I writhed with the pain and frustration of knowing that I have the tools to move through this yet felt so completely stuck. I could observe my thoughts and see what my ego was doing and why. Yet I couldn’t separate myself from it. I watched helplessly as my ego took the driver’s seat, and pummelled me down even further as I hated on myself for being so stuck.

Then one day last week I had an instant of clarity. I was in the kitchen, despairing about my latest results, when I suddenly realised I was buying into a story of failure and what that meant. I realised that I actually had a choice as to whether I allowed these results to send me into wallowing self-pity and despair. I could actually conjure any alternative story of my liking – for example, I could accept the results, and recognise them as a step towards learning and progress and ultimate success. Or I could drop any idea of story altogether – the results are the results, and without my mind-created thoughts and judgements, they have no meaning. Whatever the case, I could instantly let go of the story that this was a situation worthy of despair and self criticism. And importantly, I noticed that buying in to the negative story is what comes automatically. And despite the pain, there is an aspect of the negativity that is comfortable and so easy to choose, because it’s familiar and safe. Choosing differently requires bravery and diligent effort.

It hasn’t been a fast and complete turnaround since that revelation, but it’s reminded me to come back, once again, to my mindfulness and presence practice. Without ongoing and intentional diligence and persistence, I will continue to be overcome by my ego, finding it in the driver’s seat of my life again and again. She’s got staying power.

So it’s back to The Power of Now. Back to my mindfulness resources. Back to my practice. Back to the continual, moment by moment remembrance that I have a choice – to identify with my ego, or identify with my higher self. I’ve remembered that results are subjective. Whilst they hold importance when we consider things like being able to pay the bills, put food on the table and a roof over out head, focusing on them is not conducive to success. When we focus on the now, and act from a place of love, service and faith, our needs are met.

Main image photo by me.

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