Shame upon shame upon shame upon…
Did we ever truly feel that shaming someone is the answer? That the high folutin’ squish squash power of a good shaming session will cause anyone to dare to strip away all wrongs and find their right!? What ever kind of thinking, or not thinking, led us to believe that piling on shame would make one a believer in who they are once again? We were not born shame bound. We were not upon immediate inspection immediately expected to twist and turn towards an ideal of idiotic distortion. We were not measured and found not up to the mark. No. That happened later. Perhaps moments later.
Shame upon shame upon shame upon…
Two wrongs dont make a right. They take away our right. Our right to breathe. Our right to dream. Our right to roam free. Our right to walk side by side. Our right to our very place of existence on existing before its time to exit once more. No one life is better than another. No one being gets a gold plated, Jesus blessed, angel juiced, holy molly fuckin star from God! Despite what those religious bindings have told us, carelessly whispering our forever sins, marked by the DNA of our ancestors, who knows whether being sinners or saints, visions of goodliness or scoundrels of pariah.
Shame upon shame upon shame upon…
Original sin. Leave them to paradise. Of pleasure. Of nature. Of original naked nature. Rumi told of a field. Out beyond ideas of right or wrong doing. I’ll meet him there later. You coming to? Perhaps it’s paradise lost. Found.
Shame upon shame upon shame upon…
We get very good at hiding. Hiding and swallowing down. Swallowing down seeds of bitterness and regret. Seeds of truth momentarily caught in our throat. Caught between speaking our truth and being silenced by shame. Shame seems the easy option at the time. Easy to press delete and censor. Censor to oppress, repress and depress. Depress and destroy the vine of voice and the true of truth. Apples go bad. They rot inside. We get indigestion, no longer able to stomach the wrong inside.
Shame upon shame upon shame upon…
Whatever happened to forgiveness? Whatever happened to seeing through the eyes of learning? Whatever happened to kindness over cruelty? Whatever happened to truth over tyranny? Whatever happened to singing the songs of our bones, our blood, our belly, our body, our bold beingness borne from the bounty of life. Of love.
Shame upon shame upon shame upon…
Peel the layers back. Spit out the forbidden fruit. It won’t bite it has no teeth. For shame can only rob us when we keep it hidden, keep us hidden. Light is inside the dark. Dark is the ground for all light. Be. Be ugly. Be beautiful. Be bad. Be good. Be mistaken. Be wrong. Be generous. Be a git. Be foolish. Be willing to know better. Be ballsy. Be a coward. Be naive. Be lost. Be all. Be it all. So fucking what! Shame only wants us in its club because we think you have to be perfect. That we have to get it right. That we have to fit in. That we can’t say that, do this, think like who we are.
Shame upon shame upon shame upon…
Pull off the scales of arid armour. Lay down our arms. Be in not knowing who the fuck we are and how the hell did we get here! Press our nakedness against I dont know and stay there. Strip ourselves bare. Bear ourselves stripped. What they told us ain’t the truth. Listen to the seed. The seed that came before they started to shame us. Maybe, only moments, after we were born.
"Belonging. What does that mean? As David Whyte discovers in his extraordinary book 'crossing the unknown sea', we feel the gravitational pull towards the centre of our being the more we begin to live following the truth of who we are.
We are living in a time when our sense of who we are and the bigger, truly existential question, of where do we belong, to what and whom, grows more urgent.
Does belonging depend upon the colour of our skin, our religion born into and/chosen, our class, status, income bracket? Does it ripple out from the families we create and choose? Our vocation, careers, work? How we invest our time? Where we place our attention, a laser beam of luxury, freedom and privilege where we can pick at, like a buffet, and serve ourselves plates of what feels familiar, comforting and safe.
Is it enough to say we belong to the human race anymore? And then look away, busy ourselves with matters closer to home, half blinded by the understandable helplessness that strikes another human. Another life. Another world.
What does it mean to belong?
By simply being born, and that's a whole other story or stories, we are part of a conversation of belonging to life each other and the world. By who we are. By the words that we speak. By the actions we take. The course we traverse willingly or with great grudge. By the work that we do. By the art, words, and expression that we offer. It's all a part of the great living conversation. The conversation of belonging.
When we do not add to this conversation, for fear of the repercussions, we live a life crouched down, a life squinted and misshapen. We cower away, not desiring to rock the boat, the ocean liner, that carries us on the greater voyage of belonging, destination unknown. The boat marked 'in this together'..."
(Published to Elephant Journal. To continue reading head here :-))
It’s ok to go a lil crazy. It’s all a little crazy right now!
There’s a part in Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, when Liz, having finally given in to her love, Felipe, finds herself once more seeking Ketut’s advice (The Balinese beautiful hearted medicine man that Liz befriends). This time, she is sharing how she keeps swinging between the balance of her deep and rooting meditation practices, and, well basically, the chaos, and free-falling, of falling in love. Ketut simply responds with joy, and a huge smile of delight, telling Liz that ‘sometimes, to lose balance for love, is part of living (a) balanced life’.
Why am I telling you this? Is that rather beside the point as we spin around axes that are no longer there, the pole suddenly vanquishing the dancer!?
But, it may be, that we are being invited, nay, pulled, yanked, forced, into falling into love. Into love’s arms. Into something irrevocably bigger than who we are, what we are, and what we believe we know about love. Love is a free fall, a surrender into. We are being asked to surrender. Like it or not. (And believe me, there are plenty of moments recently where hell, I haven’t liked it one iota!!!) Can you feel it? Or can you feel the resistance to it instead? Maybe it’s a cocktail (Sigh! Someone mention cocktails?!!), of both!
We are being blasted into love right now. And anything, and everything, that isn’t love, is being brought up to the surface, like shit, to bob like a jewel, though it looks anything but! A jewel of shit. The Buddhists know. The lotus flower rising out from the mud. God is a trickster. I’ve been saying this for a good few years now. And life is a paradox. Ditto.
Now, let me be clear actually, and refine, and re-define, something that I’ve just myself written! It’s all love. Everything is love. Nothing is outside of our heart. The jewel and the shit. (The lady, and the tramp!!)
Yeah yeah yeah, you say. Shut it with the spiritual bullcrap right now!! You know what my dear?! I sooo fuckin’ hear you!!
You see, I’m watching myself behave like I’m on a metaphorical, and existential rollercoaster the last few weeks. All Sukkha, and Dukkha, up and down. Actually, fuck that, I’m the whole bloody theme park! Some days I’m riding the bucking bronco frantically trying to hold on, stay in the game, chaffing my inner thighs in the process!! Or, I’m pinned to the sides unable to even move my arms as it all rushes by, frozen in place (my home!), and time (what the fuck is time!!??), by the world spinning by. Hmmmm. That’s just made me recall that Beatles song ‘Fool on the hill’. Excuse me a moment whilst I play this right now on Spotify…
How’s your concentration levels these days??!
Brain fog anyone??!!
No? Just me?! I highly doubt it. It’s just occurring to me that my Vata levels are way out of balance. In fact, tis the case, that I’m waltzer-ing on this global pirate ship, lurching from dizzying heights to feet firmly on the ground.
But, let’s back up a little. Back to love.
And, specifically, what is in our way of being shattered into love shards, all psychedelic holographs and prisms of the absolute!
The destination might be, love train central, but the only way we get to get there is to meet and go through what’s in the way. All the station stops beforehand. Maybe, just maybe, we are being shown what’s in the way. The way of simply BEING love itself.
Earlier this year I chose my words for 2020. Well, in fact, as always, they chose me. These are my equivalent to New Year resolutions. The words vibrate within me at a profoundly deeper level than my logical, hopeful, wishful, little mind! As a writer, and a spell-crafter, I know the power of words. As human beings, I think we all do. I give no credence to that old, strangely macabre, playground chant, ‘sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you’. I disagree. Words can both wound and destroy us. Or they can lift us up in wonder and love. Choose wisely your words. Especially more so in these turvy topsy times!
That includes those inner ones my loves.
One of my words for this year is ‘Radical Honesty’ (Yes. That’s two. Shut up!). It’s like an anchor that sits still and solid in the centre of my chest. It’s rooted in such truth and clarity that it’s almost a superpower! However, when I chose this word, with full intention and attention, as one of my compass points of alignment for this year, I was surprised to be shown, almost immediately, everything that was in the way of living as it, as radical honesty itself.
It felt like all of the lights had been turned down and in the darkness, in what seemed like lil phosphorescent lights coating the velvet black ocean, were all of the places in my life where I am not honest. Where I am a liar. It appears, that in one way or another, I have been lying a lot!
So, it’s the same right now. We are being pressed up against love’s kind face; love’s beating, bloodied, bruised heart; love’s fire and fierceness; love’s loss and grief; love’s impossibility and creativity; love’s hope and faith; love’s brutal chaos and unfathomable destruction; love’s icy finger of death; love’s thread of one heart pulsing live across the globe’s web! It’s all love. It’s all love. It’s all love.
The dualities that we are see-sawing with, with such vehemence and intensity right now (1000 different emotions in one day anyone?!), are our swinging human barometer. If we can remember that it’s all love, then this may help us to remain, or to invite in, a soupcon of kindness. What we don’t need right now is to add the critic to our behaviours and actions/non-actions at this time. We need kindness as a blanket whilst our compass spins out for a while, all navigation pointers and logical landmarks having been removed from our geographical ground!
I am finding myself swinging between aligning with what feels vital for my health right now, ie, soul writings, prayer, appreciation of beauty, embodiment practices, dance, pausing etc; and, my familiar, faux, ‘rock n’ roll’ patternings of late, late nights, way too much social media and digital times, drinking daily, smoking (I stopped last summer, fuck!), and a general ‘Fuck it!’ attitude, which can serve either as a point of freedom for me (if heart rooted), or as an actual act of nihilism (if not!).
I am aware.
I don’t need to add any extra judgement on how I should or ought to or could be. Shoulda, coulda, woulda can take a walk right now (as long as they keep their distance. Damn!!!).
I wonder if you know what’s in the way of love for you right now. What’s arising, like nausea, as you ride the Ferris wheel that you didn’t sign up for, and can’t get off? Is it your financial scarcity story? (That’s a familiar of mine too. I, as many, have no income right now. I’m with you.) Your fears of abandonment? The ache of missing out whilst many are showering the internet with their (so so welcomed) online gifts? Is it your lack of trust? Or is the grip of control in you going bonkers with its, erm, inability to have any control anymore?? Trust me, I know these all too well too darlings!
Maybe you’re raging, hula-hooping fire around your gut; maybe you’re drowning in deep grief, coming up for air, only to be pulled by the global current dragging you back deep beneath; or, maybe, you’re desperately clinging, by your fingernails, to something, someone, anything, to hold on to as the days go by. Or perhaps it’s lady loneliness that’s come to visit, setting up pride and place on your settee with tea and a gaping hole where her wholeness used to be. Or perhaps it’s simply fear, with its jangled nerves, clawing at you, a 24/7 ‘inner nails on blackboard’ nightmare piercing your every moment.
I’m not gonna tell you to let go. To surrender. Fuck that. Fucking fuck that. Hell no!
It’s all ok. All of the above. It’s all ok. Because it’s how it is, for you, for me, for us all. Even, and especially, our shadows. Which are the jewel shits. We’ve all got them, accessorising the fuck out of this apocalypse!!
It’s all love.
I find my way back through the fog, (and it does get pretty brain foggy doesn’t it?!) and just the reminder of beauty and dropping back down and in, and my heart comes alive, defrosts, once again. Sometimes it’s rather agonising. Especially if I’ve been gone too long. Yet it’s tender too. Real. Clarifying. Potent. Here lie all the feels. All the waves. The whole bleeding, brutal and beautiful, ocean.
And yet, as I swing between these two poles, spinning my compassed points wildly, there’s a place right in the centre of me, which is moving, just watching, the silent witness to it all playing out.
Grace. Love. Here. I. Am.
Balance and Imbalance. The ‘Fuck off!’ and the Tender heart aching vulnerability. The self-destruction, ‘rock n’ soul’, and the creation, the ultimate dance of Shiva and Shakti! Life and Death. Yes and No. Ok, and not ok. Craziness and sanity. The storm and the still point. The Human and the Divine.
There’s room for both. For it all. For it’s all love. It’s all love. It’s all love.
Sometimes, to lose balance for love, is part of living a balanced life. Especially, and particularly, in these unbalancing, and ground untethering, times.
Those of us in the Northern hemisphere are betwixt the starry skied wintery chill, the magic of the deep mid winter's icy breath, and the intertangling with the joviality of this time of the year.
The need to give Persephone a run for her money, and make out with Hades might be coursing through your blue royal red blood! (No?! Just me then??!! ;-))
Though full powered hibernation might not be possible for many of us, with our mingled mire of familial duties, we can sneak off and take some much needed time for some deep reflection that this time of the year asks of us.
If we are navigators of our own ship, our inner compass is our heart, our felt sense the waters of our flesh and bones, and the need to check if we are still in alignment with our chartered course or if we have veered off some time ago by barely perceptible degrees which stagger in their ability to change our trajectory anew!
You see it is in the dark times, the shadow lands, that we might be able to see most clearly. Our inner knowing gets to take centre stage. Our ears are pricked up for listening, catching the magic in the air. There be miracles to be found right now, if we are open to receiving them, and a chance to give clarity on where we have been this year, where we are now, and where we would like to set our sails towards.
Of course, life is a messy affair, and God is a trickster!! Yet still we need to show up, do our bit, be available, and wholly, if not holy, invested in doing the best that we can. Taking stock is a must. It renews the ground beneath our feet, It polishes our arrows of intent. And it gives us the opportunity to be with, in the spirit of festive presence, anything that maybe the doing times have caused us to deny or avoid.
This is the time of the year very mired in a million differing emotions, not just the happy wholesome televised or marketed ones! Perhaps you've lost loved ones this year, or this time makes you miss those dearly departed with a more striking cut. Maybe this was your annus horribilus, and you're ready to say f**k you to 2019!! Or, it could be that spending time with family is triggering for you. Sometimes life's diappointments and bows untied can leave us breathless to that which has not come to pass for us in many ways. Be kind to yourself. And to others. We do not know what lies behind or beneath the christmas ironic jumpers!!
So, I would like to offer you a little gift. Something for you to explore and play with over the next few weeks. To be honest, I see the time between the winter solstice and Imbolc (the 2nd Feb/my birthday! :-), as our winter dreaming time. Even if that's only metaphorically. There is no rush to have your seeds planted and intentions set in stone by the 1st January. Hell no!! We need to allow the fallow. We need to trust the earth. We need to stop and pause and listen. And we need to dream, imagine and envision. Remember, if we show up, so does Spirit too. Let's show up as fully prepared for Spring as we can!
In the (kinda) words of a certain Charles Dickens, and his 'A Christmas Carol', here's to the past, the present and the future. Let's take that trip now! ;-)
In that vein, here is a list of various journalling prompts, rituals, questions, and art-making tasks, that you might like to do completely, or else simply allow any to accompany you as you move through your days.
And, if you feel like you would like some extra support heading into the new year/decade, then get in touch. I offer a variety of coaching packages, as well as the fabulous and well-loved new year workshops (now in their fifth year), for your delectation and in support and service to your creative soul xx
So. Here you are. Let me know how you get on if you like. Safe travelling, and have a wondrous new year darlings xxx
(In no particular order):
*What am I appreciative of right now? What has the last year gifted me with? And have I really let myself receive these gifts fully? (Here is your chance to do so :-). Go as deep as you can with this. You might like to take a look in your diary. You may have certain memories that you can revisit.) And allow the challenges you have come through be a part of this reflection. Ask: what have I learned? how have I grown?
*What losses needs to be honoured and grieved for? This could be people, plans, dreams, old situations, changes that happened. Let yourself sit with these. Respect their passing and the ache of this. You might like to create a ritual to give these form. One thing you can do is write these down and after you have given enough space and time to them, hand them over to the water, or burn them as prayers. You may want to paint a picture, create a drawing, write a song, or make a piece of poetry. Maybe you want to tell your favourite tree. Let your own imagination help you.
*What is important to me right now? In all areas of life. Inner worlds. Family. Community. Globally. Start small. Be honest. Let these pearls form a strand to wear close for now.
*What touched me the most this last year? What was the most fun? Inspiring? Sacred? Playful? Terrifying? Challenging? Powerful? What felt like it was truly deeply madly me and my soul shining this last year?
*Is there anything I feel like I have lost over this year? And if so, what tiny thing can I start to invite in in order to reconnect with this aspect of my self and life?
*Write a confession, as a piece of art, As a prayer. Write down on it all the ways that you betrayed yourself or others this past year. Don't flinch with this, it's not an exercise nor an excuse to beat yourself into a judgement pulp! It's an exercise in the art of being human. What we don't give voice to, all the little ways that we turn away from our self and our values, get stuck someplace and rob a little of our shine as time goes by. In order to reclaim these parts we need to simply own them. (For those of you who don't know me, I'm having a lil tete-a-tete with the shadow lands these days. Own the shit! Own the mess! Own where we have been sloppy with our integrity.) Be playful and poetic if you want to.
Then read it aloud. Offer it to God/Spirit/ The sky/Santa etc. No shame. Just pure honesty.
And see if it's possible to find some forgiveness for yourself, so you're not carrying a whipping wreath around with you into the new year!
Once you have completed this one fully, you may like to do the next exercise :-)
*Write a celebration list. A scroll of fabulous fanfares. It can have the most mundane simple things on it, as well as the larger ones. All the ways you have breathed and lived and shown up over the year. All the magnificent adventures. The ordinary joys. The connections and conversations. the opportunities. Celebrate who you are and who you are becoming! Dress up in your finery (Or if you can't be arsed then maybe put on a little lipstick or a fancy hat!), and once again read out your list. Feel your words, right down to your toes. Can you celebrate yourself?! X
*Go for a Soul Walk. Wrap up warm and treat this like an artists date! Take a pad and pen with you. Or your camera and/or dictaphone. Turn your phone on silence and block your notifications if you can. Better yet leave it at home. Instead you are going to invite your senses to inform you. Of wonder. Of curiosity. Of life right now. Here. Just as it is. Before you go write down some questions you might like some clarification on. Maybe it's how to accept what you cannot change at this time? Or how can i nourish myself and care for my self throughout this next month? Or, ask what is it that I need? What kind of life do I desire to ask for and show up for and create this next year? Do I have any dreams that want to be pulled out of the rabbit's hat?? Stay present. See this as a devotion to your he(art). You can stop at any time and write/speak your findings. Keep asking the questions. And let go of having to know the answer. Give it to life, To each foot step. Each breath. Let that be enough for now. Say thank you just before you re-enter your home :-)
*Be present. Be intimate with each moment. Lean in. Feel it all. Every last minute of this year, this decade, this day. It's all we ever have!
Have a wondrous few weeks. See you soon, HH xxx
I don’t know why I love her so much. Believe me it’s a question that curiosity has asked of me many times over the years.
She’s mysterious and enigmatic, as well as vulnerable and available.
She’s fierce and wildly soul passionate, as well as flawed and deeply fallible.
She’s subject to the ever changing blowing Mexican whims and to try to pin her down is futile.
I’ve tried, but to no avail!
I was just 20 years old when I bought her diaries. The Frida cult craze was not yet in its full iconic throttle. As an artist myself, a sensitive and shy dreamer, she enchanted and enthralled me immediately.
Frida Kahlo, whose birthday is celebrated this 6th July, was a pioneer in ways that we take for granted now: The art journaling, all poured out emotion, snippets of her bruised heart’s tales, the water-coloured walking wounded impact of her accidents (she counted her lifelong love to Diego as one of them!); The ‘selfies’ she painted, in the form of idealised self-portraits, long before even the Insta-camera, never mind Instagram!
Unlike any other artist before her, she lived, and exposed, her rawness. Of being a woman in a time when kudos to women artists was not yet in favour (and is still unravelling as I type!). She dared to be a voice of a woman in pain, in the inability to carry a child, and in the many betrayals that her lover, and life, bestowed upon her.
Yet she was no victim. Hell no! And that’s a part of why she speaks to us still now, stronger than ever, when everyone from Madonna, to Tracy Emin, and thousands of artists all over the world are in some way bewitched by her.
You could say that she was a narcissist, and you wouldn’t be wrong. You could call her self-indulgent, and though that may be part of how she remained so close to the cuts to the bones of her being, she was also very publicly and proudly an advocate for the rights of the Mexican people, about politics and, consciously or not, the visibility of being a woman who was, and is, allowed to be both creative and sexual. Frida lived her life as art, and whose art was her life. There was seemingly no separation! She was unapologetic about her realness, and though she chose to clothe herself and make up her hair in the costumes of the indigenous people of her beloved country, ironically, she was not hiding behind any mask. Her flawed and imperfect persona, her physical as well as emotional scars, became the unfettered, and unfiltered, ingredients that made up the creative matter of her art. Her art became her therapy, long before such a thing was so common place as it is today.
I stare at the poster of her that hangs on the wall of my living room. Indeed I have several dotted throughout my home. I have been looking at this image for a while, asking her questions, waiting for her to bemuse my muse with some epiphany or great insight. It doesn’t happen! She just gazes back, a force of brazen presence, that won’t, can’t and would never consider backing away from my gaze.
I am not alone in believing that some part of her lives within me, as silly as that sounds. That I was born with a slight sprinkle of her cellular magic that has been brushed eternal into my soul. Over the last quarter of a century I have discovered that there are many of us out there who claim to be a little part Frida incarnate. She was and has a lot to go around!
The thing about Frida was that she bore her life, her love, her pain, her beauty. All of it. Some she suffered through her self-imposed and human choices, and some through the twisted and unfair fates of her destined hand. She bore it all with such a spirit. An unbreakable spirit. There may have been times when she was broken and brought to her knees by life’s grief and brutality, but she never gave up, or gave in. She never shrunk herself down, hid or denied any of it. I wonder if it was because of this that her fire shone so bright!?
Maybe she reminds us of this within ourselves. A Mother Mary deity, a modern day Kali, a goddess of the twentieth century, and something, someone, that we, as women, need to believe in, to look up to in awe, to embrace, to mirror back to us the fragments of our vulnerable but invincible spirit. We might live in a time of swaddling self-help sanitisation, and faux fixes for our feral spirit, but Frida didn’t seek to ‘heal’ herself, but rather to roar out in force! Her art, her creative spirit, used her.
Not for the faint of heart. Not for those of us seeking to hold our pieces together in some kind of sane semblance of civil belonging. Where did Frida belong? In a way her art and life implores this question over and over again.
And isn’t it ironic that all these years later, she belongs to all of us in some way.
A myth and a mirror. A muse and a model. A misfit and a mistress of full passion and no fucks given!!
Maybe Frida was a trickster, waking us up to so much truth. Maybe she was a sorceress, her art and voice like incantations and spells weaving their web over the world.
I still don’t know why I love her. But maybe that’s the point?! I can’t put into words something that’s deeper. It’s a feeling that stirs within my own soul. It’s a truth that runs through my wild fire blood. And truth, when we recognise it, has no words.
Happy birthday Frida. And thank you. I love you xx
Heidi Hinda Chadwick
Creativity. Sexuality. Life. Art. Soul. Love.