Monday, 5 December 2016

The Space In Between

At almost 37 weeks pregnant, my baby could choose to arrive any day now. Fully formed and functioning, the only thing left to do is get fat :) The baby will need to store up some energy ready to push their way out of my body and into the world. This also affords us some TIME. Time to rest, marinate and explore the space in between sleep and awake, old world and new world, mystery and reality. It is a time to feel into and allow for the collaboration between body and baby - a partnership that has been evolving since conception, that culminates at the moment of birth and may continue on through breastfeeding.

I've heard a few people call the last weeks of pregnancy "the space in between" which only now makes sense to me as I sit here with my baby curled up inside my belly, wriggling around waiting for the right moment to be birthed into existence. Although for me their existence has been real since the days of the first movements and kicks. Already communicating and reacting to stimulus like touch, sound, or chocolate ice cream...

A little blessing ceremony to prepare baby and me for birth

Its amazing how much love I feel for this babe, even before birth... already so protective. For much of this pregnancy I've felt emotionally drained and vulnerable, but despite being physically exhausted, I now feel an overwhelming sense of strength and power to do whatever is needed. Writing this I am reminded of Durga, the Shakti Mother Goddess, stories of whom describe her unparalleled fearlessness and fierce power as she defeated many demons in battle. One of her weapons is the thunderbolt symbolising strength of spirit. By devoting prayer to Durga she will empower you with unwavering confidence and will. For the past 3 months "om dum durgayai namah" has been my mantra, so perhaps she has heard me - coupled with all these pregnancy hormones no wonder I feel so strong!

Maybe that's why this in between space is necessary; to calm, slow down and breathe. Waiting for baby to arrive does feel a little like holding my breath... I am so ready for this next stage of my life but at the same time the longer I have to wait, the more time I have to contemplate all that I am saying goodbye to. Independence, autonomy and lack of judgement. (It seems becoming a mother invites a whole heap of judgement - but that's another blog post!)

Its apt that all this comes at the end of the year, when everyone is taking time to reflect on past events and turning attention to their hopes for the new year ahead. This is an opportunity to release and let go of anything that no longer serves us and focus on the things we want more of in our lives, no matter what obstacles might lay before us. To quote the late Mohammed Ali, "it isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out, its the pebble in your shoe." So get rid of those pebbles!

As my body prepares for birth I realise that with the uncomfortable aching of my pelvis opening, so too is my awareness expanding. I am creating a portal... or I am a portal, to enable a soul to take physical form. A soul that is entrusting me with their growth, birth and nurturing. I must let go of, accept and surrender to the physical changes in my body and welcome the opportunity to bring new life into being.

Birds eye view of bump :)

Friday, 29 July 2016

Baby Kicks

I heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time last week - it sounded like a steam train! It was a magical moment. But feeling the baby move for the first time was probably the most incredible part of the week. Initially I thought it was just my stomach digesting all the food I'd eaten :) but soon it became clear they were little punches and kicks from inside. 

Experiencing first sensations of baby kicking
With each day and each milestone I feel more connection and more love for this baby. Its quite amazing how much I can sense myself changing and growing more protective of this tiny being in my belly. 

I'm also finally feeling healthy and happy again. The first few months have been pretty traumatic... morning sickness, headaches, parasites, but the worst part was feeling completely unstable - emotionally and energetically. Since April my world has turned upside down and I've had to totally change my perspective and attitude. Just assimilating all the new information that had been thrown at me (along with those wonderful pregnancy hormones) took its toll. 

People have understandably been asking me what I'm going to do, where I'm going to live, how do I plan to raise this baby...? The answer is "I don't know!" But I do know that I will figure it out. I have had to start over from zero a few times now and the one thing I know I have is strength...

I have experienced depression before, much like many people I know, and struggled through it on my own. Then last year I went through a period of having crippling anxiety attacks, brought on by lots of small things that when piled together created a mountain of stress that I just couldn't climb. Blackouts, heart palpitations, nausea and shaking were all coming up on a daily basis for me to deal with. Not fun.

During both these periods I felt like a failure. I thought I was weak to be unable to deal with... life! I felt ashamed and alone. Luckily this time I sought the help of a talk therapist who worked with me so that I could see that I wasn't weak at all. As I wrote down all the things that had happened over the last couple of years she showed me that people who experience anxiety actually have enormous strength and resilience. We have been able to cope with so much that we have broken through the ceiling of our capacity for stress, and flipped a switch in our brain to make our bodies react physically to the smallest of things. 

I think this is the body's way of telling us to take a giant step back and take the lid off the pressure cooker! Be kinder to ourselves - we are NOT machines! As someone who works with energy for healing, I also believe that illnesses like depression and anxiety can occur when our flow of energy is blocked and is not being channelled effectively. When we stifle ourselves by focusing on what we "should" be doing, rather than what we WANT to do.

I am so lucky to have the support of my parents, which has allowed me to take the pressure off myself and really process everything. I've been able to be gentle and kind to myself without (too much) guilt. My body, mind and spirit needed time, love and kindness to prepare... Although I have felt a change in me since the moment I saw the little peanut, it has taken time for me to catch up with my body.

As I write this I am being pummelled from the inside by my unborn baby. Sometimes these baby kicks make me jump they are so strong! The midwife mentioned I might start feeling flutterings like butterflies in my tummy when the baby starts to move... butterflies my arse! :)

Now that's a butterfly :)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Magic Lesson

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Roald Dahl

Coming back to the UK and reconnecting with old friends has warmed my heart and reminded me of my roots, my journey before the "Quest" really began. I may have only lived in Central America for 8 months, but it's impact has been profound, and effected me in ways that I know I am yet to comprehend. During that time I had the opportunity to live among people who accepted me and my beliefs, without mocking, judgment or criticism. It was pretty special.

Special people :)

Since I've been back I've seen how frustrated, sceptical and tired people have become. Politically, environmentally, economically and spiritually. But I'm also seeing some people coming to the realisation that they're not here to just pay bills then die. There's so much more to this thing called life and it's time to believe in MAGIC again. The magic of the inherent goodness and wisdom of humanity. The media has us believing otherwise, but it's there if you're willing to see it.

Since my last post I've had so many people reach out to me offering their love and support... People I haven't seen or spoken to in years! I am truly touched by their compassion and kindness. I feel held. As my expanding belly grows inch by inch, day by day, the passage of time seems more tangible than ever before. With each day I also have a choice - I can either be afraid of the unknown future of the life unfolding ahead of me, or I can accept and embrace it moment by moment for the unique experience that it is, and be thankful. How I choose to respond to the world around me changes my experience of it.

My changing body from Week 10 to 15
Deep down I think most people know that things need to change. And it's a choice we need to make because the change starts with us. Yes, when we live outside, or even on the edge of, our comfort zone we will come up against challenges, which are really just opportunities for growth. They may seem tough, but these challenges increase and enrich our experiences, making us stronger and wiser.

I once heard a young boy say, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space!" I kind of agree with him... because living on the edge means taking chances. Safety is comfortable but nothing changes as we become stifled by habit, and fearful of things that are different. And since space is inextricably linked to time, you're also wasting that :)

Henry Adams said; "Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit." So chaos may actually be necessary for larger scale changes to arise. And there has always been chaos; it doesn't necessarily precede a fall and good things come out of it too... Like new life!

Being pregnant has changed me already. I used to struggle with my own sense of femininity, always feeling like I wasn't quite womanly enough. This was something I had been working on, knowing it was all about self-perception. But since this baby has come into my life that struggle seems to have disappeared. I'm yet to fully understand why, but maybe its partly because I'm in awe. I'm in awe of how my female body just KNOWS what to do and does it. It shows me that we are all here to fulfil a purpose and, no matter what that purpose is, our bodies know how to do that... WE know how to do that. Its chemical, biological, physical. We all know how it FEELS when something is right, or wrong - normally its somewhere in the gut. More often than not my body knows before my mind, and all I ever needed to do was believe and trust in these magical feelings.

I've decided I'm going to make the most of every moment, every inch and every sensation. There will always be someone out there who wishes they had the things that I have - my experiences, my opportunities. So I'm going to surrender to the chaos and enjoy the magic show!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Life Unfolding

This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done... and its only going to get harder.

Most of my first trimester was spent in Guatemala, where I not only had to deal with the idea of being pregnant, but battle the intestinal parasites I'd contracted whilst handling the constant nausea, fatigue, dizziness and mood swings of pregnancy. There was also the small matter of the Zika virus being prevalent in Guatemala, and with the rainy season here there were more mosquitos, and therefore, more of a threat of infection. So I left my home at the lake and headed to my parents home in England, where I could get healthy.

An English country garden

My Mum and Dad have been phenomenal - I am so lucky and could not ask for better parents. Although, what I didn't expect was this sense of guilt... I feel bad every time they tell one of their friends that I'm pregnant and then have to try and explain the whole situation. It seems unfair that because I'm not married or in a serious relationship we aren't met with an automatic look of joy and "Congratulations" when delivering the news. Yes, things are complicated but that doesn't mean this is a tragedy.

Of course, it can feel like a tragedy from time to time. Right now my best option is to live with my parents in the town I grew up in, yet have no close friends to call my own. I have no job and no savings. And despite all the kind words of love and support I've received from friends and family around the world since my last blog post, I have never felt more alone. I don't know anyone who is or has been in my position... who could possibly understand and relate to what I'm going through? I've gone from wild travelling woman, to ideal candidate for the Jerry Springer show!

Reading pregnancy and birthing books doesn't help because they all talk about how your partner can make everything easier. From birthing classes to emotional support - everywhere I look I am being told that I can't do this on my own. Even my old friend Ayurveda has turned against me, emphasising the great need for the mother to be surrounded by the love and care of her partner!

Summer reading

With all these pregnancy hormones swirling around inside me its hard not to break into tears when I start contemplating my situation in more detail. I get even more emotional when I think about how my feelings might affect the baby. The books tell me, "your baby receives physiological support from you on a continuous basis and also picks up on all your feelings. So when you feel loved and supported by your partner, so does your baby, absorbing all your endorphins." (Dr Gowri Motha) Great. Knowing that sends me into a downward spiral feeling like I'm letting my baby down by getting upset and stressed, and negatively affecting it on a physical level as well...

At times like these I reach out to a couple of very dear friends for words of wisdom and comfort to pull me back from the brink. I am so incredibly lucky to have some amazing women in my life who have truly been there for me, loving me and holding space for me, even at a distance. You know who you are :)

There are times when I wish that I didn't believe that this is my calling, and that an abortion was an option. But even saying those words hurts my heart. I cannot and will not ignore the feelings I have for this baby.

Last week I had a scan at the hospital. My Mum and Dad excitedly came with me, but in the end I decided to go into the ultrasound room on my own. I wanted this experience all to myself :) As the sonographer pressed into my belly through the icy cold gel, I saw it... It was a real baby! No longer just a grey peanut, but a bouncing (literally!) little baby. I saw its tiny feet and hands and as it wriggled around I felt its contentment. Maybe I'm doing an alright job afterall...

Baby at 14 weeks

After measuring the baby it was dated at 14 weeks, making my official due date Christmas Day. Talk about a gift!

Its funny when I think back to the beginning of my Central American adventure, and how I'd asked the Universe for "life-changing love". And instead of falling in love and finding a partner to change my life, I fell pregnant and will getting a baby for Christmas. The Universe has an interesting way of delivering exactly what you want, it just may not come about how you had envisioned! You can't get more life-changing than becoming a mother.

"... you might have tried to stack the odds to make the arrival of babies more or less likely to occur. Yet new life still arises or doesn't for undecipherable reasons. You cannot decide exactly when the sun shines and plants grow. So too, you can't control the flow of universal consciousness. All you can do is trust in life unfolding as it is." Naomi Chunilal

(Reading list consists of The Mindful Mother by Naomi Chunilal, Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin and Gentle Birth Method by Dr Gowri Motha)

Monday, 27 June 2016

The Game-Changer

"You will know the call of your destiny, because it will sound insane." - Elizabeth Gilbert

Over the past few years I've really begun to embrace a life of fluidity, being more open to opportunities as they come my way, and only saying yes to the things I truly want to do. This has been eye-opening, humbling and liberating. It has also helped me to surrender and trust that I will be supported if I follow my heart.

You might think this has all been for nothing if you look at my current status:
- No romantic relationship
- No stable employment
- No home to call my own

Interestingly, none of this phased me... until 7 weeks ago when I found out I was pregnant.

My period was almost 2 weeks late, which was strange because for the past 6 months it had arrived exactly on the day of the full moon every time. I prided myself on how connected I was with my body and believed I would KNOW if I was pregnant! I'd also recently received a womb blessing, which I was told could affect my moon cycle, so I wasn't too concerned. But after a couple of friends suggested I take a test just to be sure, I went to the local Farmacia and asked for a "prueba de embarazo" (after using Google translate).

Guatemalan pregnancy test

Within seconds of two drops of my urine hitting the stick, two pink lines appeared. I waited the 5 minutes as directed, in case, you know... they disappeared?! But of course, they didn't. The test was positive.

Two little pink lines

My housemate and I stared at each other and laughed in disbelief. Was this actually happening? I decided to seek confirmation ASAP, so we hopped on a boat to San Pedro to try and see the doctor at the clinic. Once we got there I frantically tried to explain to the nurse in my terrible Spanish that my period was late and I might be pregnant. It worked. But I had to wait 3 hours to see the doctor... the longest 3 hours of my life!

The doctor spoke English - thank the Lord. After we established the date of my last period, he whipped out his ultrasound kit, asking me to remove my underwear while he lubed up his wand :) With my feet in stirrups, I watched the screen intently and saw a dark oval shape with a tiny grey peanut inside of it. I didn't need the doctor to tell me that this was my baby.

The 6 week old peanut

Measuring the size of the embryo the doctor dated the pregnancy at around 6 weeks, and with some quick mental arithmetic, this meant I'd likely conceived on April Fool's Day - ha. But this wasn't a joke, this was really happening.

The funniest thing was that as I accepted this information I was at peace. My mindset was, "Okay, let's do this" (talking to the baby). In a way I was relieved because now there was a reason behind the crazy emotional meltdowns I'd been having. I honestly thought I was going through a second puberty or premature menopause - that's how out of control I felt! So it was reassuring to know that what I was experiencing was relatively normal... for a pregnant woman!

Looking back I can see in that moment in the doctor's office, in the small town of San Pedro, Guatemala, everything changed. I had just got used to my role as the Wild Woman, but unknowingly had been flung into a new role as the Mother. Despite the situation being less than ideal, I felt honoured to receive such a gift from the Universe. I saw a blessing, not a curse. The rules of the game changed, but I'm going to keep playing.

Yes, it won't be easy. There will be good days and bad. I know this may seem fucking crazy to a lot of people, but to me it just feels right. I can't explain it - this is the call of my destiny.

"The call will not make sense. The call will not fit into what your culture and your history suggest you are supposed to do. The call will cost you money and time. And relationships... The call will want to make you wet your pants in fear... The call will demand stupid amounts of courage - and by that, I mean to say that the call will require the kind of courage that literally makes you look and feel stupid. Do it. That's your LIFE calling." - Elizabeth Gilbert.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

There's Something About San Marcos

I was only ever planning to be in San Marcos La Laguna, Lago Atitlan for a couple of days. But in a very short space of time I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging - something I had never really experienced before. Those two days turned into six months, and I now know why everyone calls this place "The Vortex". So many amazing people come through this town, either as travellers, seasonal residents, or to become permanent locals. Each one inspired to follow their dreams and hoping to be part of a more conscious community.

There's Fede and Rudy from Guatemala City who are starting up the health food store/crystal shop/juice bar, Flor de Vida. Different artists roll through town and are able to contribute their own paint creations to the walls of the store, making for a very vibrant spot on the street!

Fede painting crystals on the shop front

Then there's Michael who set up Amor y Paz, a vegan-ish comedor that serves up some of the most delicious food in town. Its also sold on a sliding scale, so you pay how much you can afford depending on your budget. Now a local hang out area, people come and catch up, eat, and sometimes spin fire! The food is always colourful, as are the characters who serve you.

Wes photobombing my lentil burger with tempeh

The people here inspire one another, creating a mentality of anything is possible. This is infectious, and is what keeps people coming and staying here. Its also an excellent place to work on your "stuff". All types of therapies are available - yoga, massage, crystal healing, sound healing, Tai Chi, Ayurveda, meditation, Tarot, acupuncture, dancing, cacao ceremonies, and the magical healing power of swimming in the lake itself.
View from my house of Lake Atitlan & San Pedro volcano

Although with many people working on themselves, it can make for a fairly intense environment. For the most part, everyone is pretty supportive of one another and their processes. This means there is more understanding and less judgement... this has been my experience anyway.

Doing my inner work has been like peeling an onion - every time I bring my awareness to something, as I deal with it and let it go, all it does is reveal another layer of conditioning that I need to look at.. and make me cry :) After releasing my need to compare and conform, I could see relationship patterns that weren't serving me. As I acknowledged those patterns I discovered a huge lack of self love. 

For me, this lack of self love comes in the form of putting other people's needs and feelings before my own, and not standing up for myself enough. I then get upset when others aren't considering my needs and feelings to the same extent. This cycle is both depressing and destructive.

As my time on the lake comes to an end, I know that I now have the tools to do this inner work away from its magical waters. I feel more strength rising within me each day and try to embrace every experience as a lesson. I have so much gratitude for San Marcos and all the people I've met here. They have supported and inspired me to be the best version of myself. Through the highs and the lows I have gained so much trust, not just on the Universe, but more importantly, in MYSELF.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Wild Woman

Since my last post I have been taking it easy on myself, just focusing on eating, breathing and sleeping! I'm slowly but surely coming back down to earth and have to thank all the friends who have reached out to offer their support and encouragement. You are my support system and keep me going, and for that I am truly grateful.

If the last couple of months have taught me anything, it's that I do not have to apologise for how I feel. It is my duty to love myself, putting my happiness first and finding fulfillment from within. Only then can I be in a position to help others.

Living in San Marcos means I have the opportunity to encounter some amazing healers, artists, teachers, energetically powerful and enlightened people. A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop where we learned about the power of the Divine Feminine and the female energy archetypes. There's the Virgin, the Mother, the Enchantress and the Crone. These represent stages in life, as well as the monthly phases of the moon.

The Enchantress is the one that resonated with me. She is connected to the waning moon, bringing about introspection and increased focus on the Self. She is the medicine woman that knows you can't keep fighting forward if you don't properly reflect, accept and integrate all of the experiences collected along the way. 

Wild Woman Samtosha :)

Often referred to as the Wild Woman, she can be energetically sensitive and when the tools aren't there to fully embrace this, reactions can become extreme. It is clear to see that I have been embodying the Wild Woman! I have not been honouring my own needs and extreme reactions have bubbled to the surface. (Important Note: This archetype is also connected to the pre‐menstrual phase!)

So I've decided to set some clear boundaries for myself to allow time for introspection, growth and transformation. I need time alone to take care of myself, refine my new direction and take aim! This spiritual journeying is all well and good, but as Matt Kahn points out we can become so caught up in the practice of being spiritual that we are not actually spending time with ourselves, which is how we learn to truly love ourselves - which is ultimately the purpose of the journey!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Arrow

"An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it's going to launch you into something great." - Unknown

The Arrow
I'm not going to lie. Right now I am struggling. My emotions have been all over the place, swinging between rage, excitement, loneliness and indifference. I have an aversion to being with groups of people, I'm on the verge of tears a lot, and my initial reactions seem judgmental and not in alignment with who I really am. And I just don't know why...

I feel a shift happening in my consciousness but it's as though my ego is fighting me every step of the way. I feel like running. But I know that won't solve anything. The truth is, right now, I have no fucking idea what I'm doing, what I need or even what I want. And for me, this "not knowing" is torture.

I've lost sight of the REAL me; the fun me, the me who laughs loudly and frequently, the curious me, the me who loves to be surrounded by friends, the playful me.

Playful Samtosha :)
I'm left wondering why she has chosen to desert me at this time. I'm making some serious breakthroughs, and I appear to have lost my sense of humour right when I need it the most.
I know all the things I "should" be doing: surrounding myself with people who care about me, doing the things that make me happy and making the most of being at the lake while I still have the chance. But frankly, I can't be bothered. My indifference is frustrating me and making me angry, which in turn makes me easily agitated and want to withdraw from social situations. This is making me feel isolated, disconnected and lonely. I'm stuck. I need help but I know no one can save me but me!

In the past when I've felt like this I have always changed something in my life - moved to a different house, town, or country, left my job or removed myself from an unhealthy relationship. Change has always been relatively easy for me to implement. However, none of these things are the problem right now, and this is why I'm struggling. Not too long ago, my response to this situation would be to get drunk, get high or find someone to have sex with... Or all three! I know this isn't the answer, but in the moment it made me feel better.

Jim Beam in a can... classy.
These days I'm much more aware of my patterns and how destructive they can be. But cacao and kirtan just aren't doing it for me either! I realise that this is my opportunity to find new ways of coping and climbing my way out of this hole of emotional turmoil. I also know that this is a phase, it won't last forever and there is nothing that time and acceptance can't heal.

My friend Jimmy, who has been a dear friend of mine since I arrived at the lake, is an amazing artist and handpoke tattooist extraordinaire :) I have wanted an arrow tattoo on my left forearm for a couple of years now and he helped me design something very special.

Jimmy Jumanji
The arrow idea came about when I was going through an earlier period of struggle, and symbolised the need to be pulled back before we can be propelled forward towards that which we are aiming for. I wanted it on my left arm connecting to my heart, and to incorporate a representation of a compass to remind me to always follow the direction of my heart, and aim for what brings me the most joy. Jimmy made sure to include some sacred geometry in there as well to represent spiritual awakening.

My new magical amazing blazing arrow is a reminder that now is a time of contraction. A brief moment of absorption as I take in my surroundings, preparing to focus on what it is I want. All I need now is patience; as the minutes feel like hours, and the hours feel like days, all I need to remember to do is breathe!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

(Not So Pretty) Patterns

"...awakening happens only through facing the chaos of our neurotic patterns." - John Welwood,

Today I´m delving deep into the juicy stuff - my relationship patterns! How I´ve come to be aware of them and my journey to (hopefully) breaking them. Here we go...

Initially when I started writing this post there were 3 relationships in my mind where I´d clearly chosen to put myself in the same situation that triggered certain emotional reactions and beliefs that are not healthy or serving me in any way. But as I review more of my previous relationships (long/short/serious/casual) I can see how there are elements of this pattern in many of them. I have been perpetually abusing myself in this way because subconsciously, for some reason, I believe that I am unworthy of the love I desire.

It all started with Boy A. When I first met A he appeared to be glowing - I thought he was an angel! It didn´t take long for me to fall for him, as I´d never met anyone I could talk to like this before. I felt he understood me completely and I concluded that he had to be my soul mate. Alas, he quickly explained that he could only commit to friendship, offering consolation in the fact that 99% of relationships break up anyway. Friendships last longer, he said. Being a bit younger I accepted this as an action of true love and continued the friendship, despite the pain I felt everytime he flirted or got together with someone else. I was sure that if I just waited he would eventually realise how great we were together and stop messing around.

Me in my younger days

As you can probably guess, this never happened. It finally got to the point where it hurt too much, and I knew I had to put some distance between us so that I could give myself the space to get over him and move on.

When Boy B came along (okay, there may have been more of the alphabet in between but I´m focusing on these boys for the purpose of this post!) I thought I knew what I was doing. And I did to a certain extent... after all, I was older now and more confident in who I was. With B there was an instant connection too and I remember feeling so drawn to him. We were like magnets that didn´t want to be pulled apart. 

However, not long into the relationship my intuition was telling me that something was wrong. I sensed an incompatibility and a strong desire to stand up for myself, rebalance and be in my own power. But my desire for intimacy and connection was stronger. 

As time went on it became clear that B wanted the freedom to be intimate with other people too. I was deeply hurt and knew that I had to let him go. It brought up so many feelings of unworthiness - why wasn´t I enough? Once I had time to process it all, I realised that if I could love anyone that intensely, surely it makes sense to love myself that way first!

The older and slightly wiser me

If this was the lesson, then Boy C was the test! From day one I knew that we weren´t right for each other romantically and yet I allowed our connection to deepen. I opened up to C emotionally and energetically, enjoying being vulnerable and connecting on new levels. For some reason I struggled to stay away from this one. I was trying so hard to be in the moment, but I can now see how my emotions were in conflict with my intellect and intuition. Okay, I admit it. I´m an intimacy junkie. And when I find someone offering me my drug of choice its hard to turn down.

Sure enough I found myself in that familiar place of inadequacy. There were other ladies in C´s life and he wanted to explore those connections as well. Even the idea of this hurt me and I knew myself well enough by now that I couldn´t stand to witness this unfold... again! I was done.

I am finally ready to break this pattern. I am done with this feeling of unworthiness. I need to choose to love myself more. I should never have to beg for attention, for affection or for love. I´ve been consenting to arrangements that are exasperating, humiliating and disempowering. 

The truth is I may not have even wanted something more from some of these boys, but I do want more from someone I am being intimate with. I just have to get better at choosing! I have a moral obligation to ask for what I want, and if its not on offer I need to walk away and not consent to an arrangement that is fundamentally unfair.

My friend Esther gave me an amazing gift the other day - she told me there is no such thing as rejection, it is only a redirection. Although I have come up against many challenges, I know that they have only accelerated my personal and spiritual growth. Awareness of this pattern has pushed me to start cultivating more conscious relationships, with others as well as myself. So I am grateful for all of them... every last one of the boy alphabet. John Welwood writes in his article on, "if our woundedness remains hidden, it cannot be healed; the best in us cannot come out unless the worst comes out as well."

Prettier patterns

Pattern revelation:
The fabric of my life is woven by me.
My beliefs create the patterns.
My relationships are the colours I choose.
My reactions are the stitches used to make the costume I decided to wear.
The role I often choose to play is victim.
My beliefs allow me to continue to play this role.

So I must ASK for what I want, BELIEVE I deserve it, LOVE myself and be PATIENT.
With this as my new mantra, let´s see what unfolds...

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Vulnerability : Courage : Creativity

"Only those strong of heart allow themselves to truly be seen and be vulnerable." Samtosha 2016 ;)

Last time I wrote about comparison and my need to conform in order to feel that sense of belonging and validation that I craved. Through my experiences I have come to know that this need is based in fear...

The day I arrived at Lake Atitlan after travelling all day from Mexico, I stayed the night in a tiny hostel in Panajachel. This is where I met Frederico from El Salvador. He had "quit the real world", bought some land in northern Guatemala and lived off what he grew on that land, making a little extra money for his coffee habit teaching permaculture. We spoke about following our own path and how difficult it was sometimes - that feeling of lonliness that can make us doubt our decisions.

Frederico encouraged me to not be afraid of being the sheep that walks in a different direction to the rest of the flock. He told me to listen to my intuition and gut feelings, ignoring logic and what I believe to be possible/impossible.

I told him about my Quest, the search for my tribe and my difficulties in striving towards something that is, as yet, unseen. I admitted I was lonely and started to cry. Frederico leaned over and gave me the most amazing hug. He told me I am safe, I am loved and I am perfect. To feel that kind of love from a stranger was overwhelming and made me realise that I want to be able to give that kind of genuine love and support to someone who doesn´t even realise they need it. Everything I want, someone else wants too... maybe everyone else.

My conversation with Frederico brought so many things together for me. In allowing myself to be vulnerable I was able to receive so much more! I realised that it takes more strength and courage to let people see your weaknesses and vulnerability, than it does to follow the majority and only show your best bits to the world.

I can also see how this links in with our ability to be creative. I have been writing, producing poetry and journalling for years - since I was 11 I think! Putting anything I´d written "out there" was terrifying to me and starting this blog was a BIG DEAL. But I knew that in order for creativity to flow it needs to be used and encouraged. I must do what I love to feel full and to be able to love fully. 

Writing amongst the pillows

The key was that I had to do this for me. I´m not writing for recognition or with the expectation that it will lead to anything, or that anyone will even read this. And I had to not care if I was criticised, or received negative feedback. This is my outlet for expressing myself creatively, sharing my story and hopefully inspiring some people along the way.

This Full Moon in Scorpio (21/22 April) is perfectly timed for this post. It "encourages a softening in attitude towards oneself; a willingness to admit needs previously denied and vulnerabilities kept hidden... We are all in this together and not so different from each other. The need to show a certain coping and tough face to the world keeps many in a prison of lonliness, unable to connect authentically for fear of the mask slipping to reveal a scared, flawed and vulnerable human being. This Moon assures us it´s okay to be any or all of those things." (Sarah Varcas,

Full Moon rising

So in seeking solace in a Salvadorian, I came to this:
Creativity is the ability to take a risk and having the courage to be vulnerable. If you are not prepared to take that leap of faith, you´ll never learn how creative you are!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Comparison vs Samtosha

Before this journey of mine began I´d heard the saying "comparison is the thief of joy". But the more I pondered it, the more I realised it didn´t go far enough. It seems to me that when it comes to any thoughts or decisions about myself or my life, any kind of comparison leads to confusion, discontent and, when allowed to run rampant, misery and suffering.

Anything I choose to do is exactly the right choice for me. The same goes for everyone else.

I knew that this was something I had to work on. I needed to release my need to compare everything I did to others around me because it was at a point where I was making myself miserable.

I was 33 years old. A single nomad with no savings or career to speak of, living on the other side of the world to my family in the UK. Anytime I did have money I would spend it on travelling... and wine! The majority of my friends were either married (or as good as), with children, owned a house and/or at a pretty impressive level in their career. (Pffff, what does career even mean anyway!?)
After one too many wines :)
So I was in a daily habit of looking around and wondering why I was so different. Why when I was 30 did I run away from commitment to a wonderful man, whom I still adore? Why could I not stick with something long enough to call it a "career"? Why could I not save enough money to buy a house or anything worth more than $1000?

I now know the answers to all these questions and so much has became clear to me during this Quest.

On the first night of my Yoga Teacher Training at Lake Atitlan, there was a fire ceremony and we set our intentions for the training. Mine wasn´t anything to do with yoga or being a teacher. Instead I knew I wanted to let go of my need to conform, to stop my constant comparison (whether that be in a yoga class or my life choices) and accept myself for everything that I am.
Fire ceremony at the Mystical Yoga Farm, Lake Atitlan
As I studied the Yoga Sutras I read about the Niyamas as part of the eight limbs of yoga, which if practiced "destroy impurities and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment." Discernment... yes, that´s what I need! The Niyamas are observances to practice, and the one that stood out for me was Samtosha - the inner contentment of the Self. It is only the mind that brings discontent as it is "entangled in desire for what is not, attachment and fear."

Through my illness during the training I was able to let go of comparison in regards to my yoga practice. And in witnessing everyone´s transformation I became more aware of how unique everyone´s journey is - no two experiences are the same. Our choices are based on our experiences, so comparison is futile!

In the last few days I realised that my perspective had shifted and I had released so much through the training and my illness. On the penultimate day, we were given the option to take on a spiritual name and Samtosha seemed like the perfect fit. It would serve as a daily reminder to discern what is my mind and what is my true nature - comparison or inner contentment. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

My Moon

A very personal poem in honour of this New Moon Supermoon in Aries...

I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
But this isn't a rhyme about love
This is how my moon goes.
Each month comes 
With a day of writhing in pain
An aching throughout my body
And emotions to make me feel insane.
Nausea sets in
And sometimes I vomit
Abdominal cramps and tension
Diahorrea tends to come with it.
This story I tell myself
Starts when I was fourteen
My moon finally arrived
But I was afraid for it to be seen.
It wasn't beautiful
I felt like a late-bloomer
Not womanly enough
For it to have started sooner.
For years I resented being a girl
Not wearing skirts and shaving my hair
Hating bras and high heels
Preferring Doc Marten Air Wair.
I was rebelling against nature
And what God had made me
Wishing I'd been born a boy
... And then I lost my virginity.
Suddenly I had more reasons
To resent womanhood and this monthly curse
If anything were to happen
It would affect me the worst.
I'd be the one to deal with
Any potential pregnancy
The guy could literally walk away
I'd be left holding the baby.
So in order to gain some control
I went on the Pill
But a daily dose of artificial hormones
Had me resenting it still.
And then when it came to sex
I had to beg them to wear protection?
Because there's no such thing as maintenance payments
For STDs or reproductive dysfunction.
Eventually I came off the Pill
After being detached from my natural cycle
I was so disconnected from my rhythms
But the pain returned in a flood not a trickle. 
After almost 5 years without
I'm now synced with the moon
But the pains don't seem to be shifting
Anytime soon.
Clearly I have some beliefs
That are deeply embedded within me
Resentment and conditioning to be healed
Around what a woman "should" be.
Perhaps I still don't feel like a woman
Maybe I'm angry about the injustice
The years of repression and patriarchy
That has brought us to this.
The complete imbalance
Of the masculine and feminine
We need to empower both aspects
The god/goddess within.
Maybe then I'll feel
Like the divinely fertile female I am
And my moon will be my friend
I'll be Samantha not Sam.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Fool

In Tarot, The Fool is so-called because he is not aware that he is about to step off the edge of a cliff. I have come to learn however, that he is in fact one of the wisest characters in the deck. He does not fear the unknown and instead relishes his journey driven by faith, bliss and joy.

I am The Fool. I have been joyfully skipping along the path toward the unknown, with little possessions or money to save me should I plummet off the edge of that cliff. 
This stuff is both exciting and scary. Living day by day off whatever money I manage to earn offering massages to the locals and tourists of San Marcos is both liberating and terrifying.

Early on in my journey, I was told by a local shaman that if I'm doing energy work I should get a dreadlock for protection and grounding. So when my friend Natalie started talking to a local artesano I asked if he could make me a dread. He agreed and I sat in the dirt on the side of the street as he gave me my first dreadlock.

As recommended by the shaman, I asked for some red thread to be worked into it to represent the blood of my ancestors, my soul tribe, who give me strength and protect me. I also asked for a piece of woven hemp to be incorporated, which at its end had a snake vertebra representing transformation and kundalini energy; a bell as the rattle of the snake tail and to ward off evil spirits; and a white heron feather signifying my guardian angels who guide me. The artesano then rubbed the dread between his hands and Natalie translated for me a little - he said he was charging it up with energy for strength and grounding.

A few days later I woke up to watch the sunrise, and as I sat at the dock I cried. I realised I was down to my last 25 quetzales, had no where to live and no massages booked in. What had I done?! How did I think this was a good idea, putting myself on the poverty line! I felt like my world was falling to pieces and I was alone... And yet somehow I knew everything would work out. I knew I had been drawn to this place for a reason. So I prayed:
I have everything I need to fulfill my purpose, have a good life and be content.

Within 2 days my luck had changed (thanks to the amazing community of friends I have here) and I was living in a lovely room in town that looked out over bougainvillea and hibiscus plants, and had enough space for me to do my morning yoga. I also had David the astrologer living next door to me. He was amazingly generous and supportive during our time as neighbours and read my astrological chart for me... and that's a whole other story!

So I guess my revelation has been that if you allow yourself to be guided by what makes you happy, what you love and are passionate about - listen to your heart and follow that guidance. Any kind of procrastination is really fear. Do not let fear of failure or the desire for perfection stop you from doing what you love. Take that leap of faith, and leap purely for the experience of flying through the air. The Universe will have a surprising way of supporting you when you do.