Re-Braving in 2023

Re-Braving in 2023

“I am re-braving after a difficult stage that un-braved me.” – Jeff Brown.

2022 was indeed The Tower’ for me.

January 2022, things were starting to open up, people had already started planning for a mask free future, but my hesitation had all but turned me into a paranoid skeptic who saw how ugly and selfish the world had become.  I had already distanced myself from certain social media platforms and as much as much as my reflection started to resemble Shrek in his swamp, I reveled in the luxury of just being able to put my phone down to alleviate any drama that was going on in the outside world.  It was generally nice not having to people.

School began, my eldest heading into year 12 and my youngest being able to attend his first year since commencing high school.  Just getting accustomed to having the house back to myself felt weirdly quiet.  I can’t say I missed the smell of the air fryer or the fridge door constantly opening and closing, but we had worked out daily routines so we were not constantly getting under each other’s feet.  Getting reacquainted with myself took some time but I missed the kids and the company.   I knew that life, as we all knew it, had changed and just as I had had an enormous amount to time to think and contemplate the last 2 years, I was not prepared for what was to come.

On January 18, 2022, I went in for my yearly colonoscopy. This is part of my cancer screening and is something that I have done since 2011.  My histopathology came back showing the removal of a tubulovillous adenoma with extensive high-grade dysplasia, and lots of other medical terminology that no one ever wants to see on a report.  I cannot tell you how much my heart sank. My specialist of 11 years was now all but retired to Queensland and his office admin were under strict instructions not to contact him under any circumstances (unless it was his week on in Melbourne) so getting hold of the right people to give this the urgency I felt it needed was nothing short of challenging.  Getting past the frustration of pouring out my history to medical receptionists and being able to speak to ‘someone’ that would call me back sent me into meltdown.

Living with a genetic predisposition to gastrointestinal cancers is not something you can fully appreciate unless you are living it.  Its not like a cough or cold that you ‘get through’ and then your life becomes healthy again.  Living with this constant threat of another ‘C’ is my life.  Fatigue and fall out from multiple surgeries is a daily grind.  I have to prioritize everything, and I mean everything.  From what I can do in a day, to who and what I give my energy and time to.  What I eat on a daily basis can affect my hydration levels, my bowels, my ability to complete tasks and how much I can do physically.   AND let me tell you, no matter how much spiritual work I do and how positive I am, shit things happen.  Shit does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how kind or generous you are. It doesn’t matter if you give your last $20 to the homeless guy outside Woollies or how many self-help books you have beside your bed.  Shit doesn’t care how much money you have in the bank or how many friends you have.  Shit just happens.

Two gastroenterologists, my oncologist and a colorectal specialist later I was given the option for a partial colectomy or close monitoring (quarterly colonoscopies).  It was explained to me that the partial colectomy involved the removal of ¾ of my bowel with a 12-18 month recovery and the possibility of a temporary or permanent colostomy bag.  The thought of having to endure the same recovery as my gastrectomy was more than I could cope with so against my oncologists wishes I went with the latter.

This experience cracked me open to my very core.   My mental health suffered on a scale I have never experienced.  For the first time ever, I knew I could no longer do this on my own. I sought medical intervention for my anxiety and depression and by May 2022 I was speaking with a psychologist and on medication. It almost seems insane that I waited until I was right on the edge of self-destruction before I took these steps.  My belief was always ‘I can do this on my own.’ Surely with all the self-help and spiritual guidance I had for support, seeking medical intervention seemed weak. How can I be a Reiki Master, a Lightworker Practioner, lead women in Circle, know all that I know and need help for my mental health? It felt like I had failed. That by doing this I was ‘a fake’ and clearly not spiritual enough to heal this myself.  Pushing past all these belief systems was challenging.  I accepted that being vulnerable was not a sign a weakness and even if we have all the answers we need inside, sometimes its a hell of alot easier if someone is holding your hand as you walk through it.

Not all that long ago I listened to a podcast from the Spiritual Tradie and he spoke to someone regarding our ‘Spiritual tool shed.’  That we have all been living in a state of overwhelm for such an extended period of time that even if we feel we had all the spiritual resources at our fingertips, some of us forgot where we put the key to the shed.  This was me in a nutshell.  I was thrown back 11 years when I was just a babe on my spiritual journey.  While everyone else went on re-planning events that were delayed through the pandemic, I was being thrown back into a space of the unknown, of poking and prodding, tests upon tests, hospital and specialists’ appointments.  So, not only was it was imperative I stay virus free but I had to navigate what this potentially meant for me and my family. And I cried and cried and cried.

2022 was also a huge year of acceptance.  Finally facing my health issues head on and really accepting my limitations, which grieved me more than I had imagined it would.  Letting my grey hair grow out (for a time) and seeing the 100% me.   It’s a weird feeling being a woman in her 50’s, it truly is a bit of a void.  It’s like a light switch turns on and you start the see the world differently. You certainly may not feel ‘old’, but your reflection lets you know otherwise. I remember my mum telling me that when women hit a certain age they suddenly become invisible. We sort of slink into the background. We let go of the last strands of youth but have to learn to reshape that into something new.  Something inside us stirs and if we give ourselves permission, we can make own rules. Simply nod your head and leave the youth to make their own mistakes as you start to weave a new life, your way.  No ‘bullshit.’ But this to is something we need time to adjust to, and for a while anyway we feel suspended in that space ‘in-between’.

Last year un-braved me so much that I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to face what may lay ahead.  I am proud that I resourced myself, learned how to take better care of me and I am happy to report I am in a much better place now.  If you are having a tough time, know that there is help out there if you seek it, and if you don’t know where to start, go and speak to your GP or a qualified medical practitioner.  It is okay to be a complete mess and to have no idea where your life is going, no matter how old you are.   The Tower always brings extreme emotional turmoil, chaos and scary adjustments.  If The Tower has entered your life, then it’s time to rethink your foundations, open yourself up to a clearer spiritual path and a more truthful existence and remember you don’t have to do it alone.

Today is not forever. <3

Michelle

Image Credit https://unsplash.com/@sammiechaffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Darkest Hour Is Just Before The Dawn

The Darkest Hour Is Just Before The Dawn

Welcome to the year 2022 and a different world.

My blogs have been few and far between and 2021 was no exception.  As Julie Andrews would sing ‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.’

This won’t be your usual upbeat blog because lets face it 2021 for the most part was pretty shit.  I felt like Artex, the horse from the Neverending Story, slowly sinking in the Swamp of Sadness.

For those living in Melbourne Australia, I can only compare my experience to slowly being tortured.  Each lockdown got harder and harder.  The frenzied toilet paper grab of 2020 was replaced by cynicism when we watched the same thing happening in other States.  Some of us even scoffed at a 3 day snap lockdown in Queensland.  Watching queues of people lined up outside Coles as they prepared to bunker down for their long weekend.  The mental and emotional toll it took on myself and my family was more than I could bare.  Lockdown number 6 broke me, not to mention my Doctor, who would download more on me than I did on her every time I booked an appointment.  Psychology waiting lists no longer existed because of the overwhelming surge in mental health issues amongst our community, including our children.

Our neighbour laughs about saving on petrol but wearing out 4 pairs of shoes doing laps of his garden, but all jokes aside it was incredibly hard watching the rest of the Country getting on with life while we were being treated like District 8 in the Hunger Games.  Instagram posts of diners smiling at open restaurants, family gatherings and going on holidays, while we had security guards standing at funerals making sure the bereaved were not comforting each other and maintaining social distancing.  If you think I’m exaggerating, I am not.

Then there was the division. Not just the overwhelming grief of leaving behind any sense of normality, but the personal impact this had on my friendships. There became a clear line within the Spiritual Community. In the end my friendship list and who I followed shrank as I watched many around me no longer aligning with my truth.  The option to ‘unfollow for 30 days’ on Facebook became a futile attempt to not offend.  As someone that works within this community with my intuitive art and women’s circles, I was somehow supposed to remain impartial to the constant barrage of posts and opinions from others.  Telling me I was a ‘sheep’, I was ‘living in fear’, that I needed to ‘wake up’, that my choices were not the right choices.  The kindness and generosity of the first 2020 lockdowns were torched up in flames along with a severe lack of empathy and understanding for other people.

Watching this all unfold last year had a huge impact on my spirit and my heart, withdrawing me into the safety of my own shell.   My initial enthusiasm to extend myself to run online women’s circles and share my teachings via zoom in 2020 had long fizzled out.  Instead, my daily outings became walks within my 5klms radius or getting my essential shopping whilst doing my best to avoid anyone that even remotely looked like they wanted to engage in conversation.   Things got pretty dark, and I don’t mind admitting that in retrospect.  The ultimate in shadow work, one might say.

Jumping social media platforms was my creative savior. Watching everything you have created come to a complete standstill is devastating for a small business.  The lack of growth, reduction in views and interaction seems to be all driven by the push for paid advertising, and you can’t spend what you don’t have.  I discovered a brilliant Art Community on Tiktok and landed on my feet. Arttok has inspired me to step out of my own way and try new things. All the while being truly authentic to who I am, not someone I thought I had to be to drive people to my business.  And as with anything new it has taken up a lot of my time. Learning how to use the app, recording artwork progress, editing, learning how to engage people and to draw the right people to my account so I stay on the right side of TikTok!  It has been full steam ahead.

My daily routine and coping mechanism. My creative outlet, my ‘new art tribe’, and my sanity. However, it has not come without its shadow side and finding a balance between escapism and inspiration has been non-existent. I admit I threw all caution to the wind and totally burnt myself out in the process.

It was a year of clarity and introspection.  The weight of the collective grief was huge and here I was one little human not wanting to burden anyone else.   I am a Reiki Master, a Lightworker Practitioner and a qualified Women’s Circle Facilitator, this was my chance to shine. I worked long and hard to attain my qualifications. Years of personal growth and self development behind me and if anyone had their shit together surely it should have been me?  Well, just letting you know I didn’t, and I certainly didn’t do anything wrong.  Accepting what is, is sometimes the only way to walk through it.  The darkest of times is when we have an opportunity for the most growth, and if there is anything I have learned through my life’s experiences it’s that these times can create huge breakthroughs as long as we are willing to work through them instead of avoiding or dwelling to long on the negative aspects.

I’m not going to lie, my post lockdown lethargy feels like I have been to war and my energy is still quite depleted. As I unplug for a bit to recharge I feel like I have finally turned a corner.  As far as goal setting for 2022 I feel I need to be more fluid, like water, so I can bend and move more easily with whatever is heading my way.  I would love to hold Circle again in my beautiful big tent which has been a great refuge during these hard times and although bookings are looking up I would really like to work with more watercolor, so I will see where that takes me.

I know it’s been tough, really tough. A lot harder for some than others, and there are no guarantees that just because you’re a good person that good things will happen to you.  Those story lines only play out in fairy tales. Life owes us nothing, it’s about experiences and it’s up to us to create the life we want to see.  In the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi  “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

C’est la vie to 2021

C’est la vie to 2021

C’est la vie to 2021.

What started as a slow return to normal quickly turned into a round of dodge ball at the supermarket, avoiding all eye contact with masked faces because the last thing I needed was someone downloading on me in the middle of isle 4.

The isolation for myself and my kids simply got too much and I found myself increasingly concerned about their mental health, unsuccessfully grappling for resources to try and help support them.

Manageable self-care routines went out the window when Allied Health Services had to close to all but emergency cases. This turned the usual aches and pains into chronic conditions which are now going to take months to repair.

Lock down 6 admittedly broke me. If I haven’t messaged you for a while it’s because I have had nothing left to give. Literally. The give in my clothes finally gave out and now I have a wardrobe full of things I can no longer wear. Let me tell you, this is no mean feat for a girl with no stomach.

The prolonged stress and emotional weight has been overwhelming and this is from someone who has done years and years of shadow work. Believe me, I have had all the spiritual resources at my fingertips and I have still struggled through this 18months.

Some days my sense of humor is the only thing that’s has kept me from a total meltdown and even that has managed to get me in trouble.

This post is not about seeking sympathy, support or advise. I just want you to know it’s okay not be okay, no matter how ‘awoke’ you are. This new world is still taking shape and there will be no going back to the old ways. It is a huge time of grieving in so many ways. We will all have to find our place again and that might mean a big change in direction.

Some days it’s just about getting up and having a shower. For those mums in the room, remember bringing that newborn home? Those few minutes you get to run some cold water on your face or actually get changed out of your pajamas.

Some days are going to be about the small wins. Bringing your energy in and simply saying ‘no, I can’t do that today.’ And being okay with that. Loosing the guilt behind trying to be everything to everyone. It’s hard enough carrying your own burdens without the weight of others.

Allow yourself to create space just because you can and you should.

On a personal note this also means that I have pulled back from several social media platforms, groups and friendships. I need to do what is best for my mental health and that includes not being a part of other peoples agendas or listening to others opinions.

Where does this leave me? I simply do not know. I have not been able to regain my pre lockdown energy and drive to make things successful. After 9 years I have made the tough decision to hand over my Gastrectomy Connections Site to a much larger organisation in the hopes that they will have the drive and resources to give it everything it deserves. It’s time to let some big things go

It is way past due for some karmic separation with things and people that no longer align with me. So as we enter this last month of 2021 I will be addressing all that needs to be addressed so I can walk into next year with some clarity around what lays ahead for me. I am choosing to surrender to the process.

I hope you’ll hang around but I understand if you don’t. We are meant to change and evolving is part of the process.

The Space In Between

The Space In Between

Being ‘in between’ is an odd feeling. Like those awkward years when you feel like an adult but you’re told to sit at the kids table. For a time you feel like you don’t fit anywhere, but you do know that you have outgrown a part of yourself and that it is time to move on.

The type of language that people use doesn’t sit right with you any more. The places or people that used to give you joy or inspiration, no longer give you peace or comfort.  Something just feels blah.

You know you can’t go back, but you also feel that you can’t go forward, not yet anyway. It’s like you are in a holding pattern until the path that you are supposed to take starts to appear in front of you.

Time where you need to be content to just ‘be’.  Just sit in the ‘I AM’ for a while. This is the most difficult part of the ‘in between’ for me. I’m used to going full steam ahead. I create, and create, and create to the point of exhaustion.

I create for joy to myself and others, to earn an income, to keep my mind busy, to see how far I can push myself, to improve my skills. I create for fun, to feed my soul, to heal, but I also create to distract myself so that I do not have to focus on things that will cause me emotional distress.

It’s like a double edged sword, and sometimes I would say an addiction. You can become addicted to anything, even creativity. Once you throw the word ‘addiction’ into something it has a negative connotation. It means that you feel you have to do this ‘thing’ in order to feed an aspect of yourself that you feel is missing. Perhaps this ‘addiction’ distracts you from the real problem or emotion that you won’t, can’t or are not ready to face. Perhaps this addiction has turned into a belief system where you feel you need it to function. The epiphanies only come when you change your course and you step away from those behaviors.

Stepping away from things that you do every day allows you to see with more clarity. You just have to go camping for a week to realise how much you can live without. The ‘in between’ can be an uncomfortable space to be.

2020 gave rise to a lot of people all over the world, and continues to do so. The New Age or Spiritual movement calls this a ‘Mass Awakening’. Putting people outside their routine and comfort zones where they have to really look at themselves and reassess who they are, what they want from life and how they can contribute to mankind.

This movement has also given way to a lot of new programs, courses, self help and well-being resources that perhaps you had not thought of delving into before. My Facebook feed is saturated with sponsored advertisements and no doubt so is yours. The temptation is always there to sign up for another masterclass class (BTW I can’t stand this term!), course, or program while you are sitting in the ‘in between’. A past mentor of mine would use the term ‘perpetual students’ referring to certain individuals who would take course after course rather than going out into the world and fully integrating what they have learnt into their lives. Resisting becoming teachers or mentors themselves through sharing or living in alignment because they are forever in search of perfecting or growing their knowledge.

Trust me, the butterfly part of me always wants to try new things, even if it’s to work out how I can learn and understand them so that I can create something of my own. But I know that this is not the time for me to do that. I know that I need to be comfortable in my discomfort. I know that rest is what I need in order to find inspiration. I know that I do not need to take another class or course or workshop at this time. I know that ‘not’ being busy does not devalue my worth.

So if you find yourself like me, stuck in the in between, be kind to yourself. Do not feel that you have to go and seek things to validate your existence. Circumstances will change, they always do but it is where you find yourself when that happens so that you do not miss the opportunities when they appear.

Michelle xx

Welcome to 2021

Welcome to 2021

Welcome to 2021

I am fortunate enough to be entering my 50’s this year, and if life has taught me anything it is to expect the unexpected.

When I look back I can only recall those defining moments which changed the course of my life. These are the ones burnt in my memory.  All those sliding door moments that changed me into the person I am today.

Where would I be if I’d turned left instead of right? What choices could I have made differently in hindsight? Did I make things much harder for myself than they needed to be? Probably, but that’s human nature isn’t it?

In the pursuit of happiness, we don’t always think long term. We don’t always make the right decisions, but I believe we always end up right where we’re supposed to be even if we take the long way around.

2020 gave rise to some pretty ugly human behavior. My mum always used to say to me whenever you are pointing your finger at somebody there are always three fingers pointing back at you. This is something I have never forgot.

For the most part I have stood back and observed. Taking a step back from the emotional turmoil and taking sanctuary in my art room where I’ve created to my hearts content.

I know I have said this before but Light Workers are not rescuers.  Light Workers are inspirations of light that draw people out of the darkness. Those that have seen this vulnerability in human nature as a chance to grow their businesses feels opportunistic and a little off to me. Again I will say ‘choose your mentors wisely.’

Look for people who will inspire you to be a better version of yourself. Someone who encourages you and knows when the student has surpassed the teacher. Remember you can only learn so much from one person, and they are just as human as you are. If that mentor is continually evolving with you then fantastic, but always keep in mind that any promise of ‘this next course will get you where you want to be’ most probably won’t! In the end stepping away from the teacher will also be part of your lesson.

Entering 2021 I have no clue what this year will bring. Unlike other years, I have no great plans. I have no expectations, I have no pressures on myself to ‘be something’ or ‘make something’ or ‘do something’. I thought for the first time in a long time I might just ride the wave and see what life presents. When the inspiration hits, which I am sure it will, only then will I make magic happen!

Michelle  xx