July 2017: ‘You choose’

There’s something about July that is feeling fresher, brighter to me already. Maybe it’s just the return of the sun (finally!!), after a week of grey clouds and incessant rain, or maybe it’s that things feel like they are finally settling into some kind of order that makes sense.

I’ve been wanting to get into a better pattern of writing and blogging here, so I’m going to have a go with weekly sharing, less worry about doing it ‘right’ and simply sharing a bit of what moves me each week, committing to at least a paragraph a week and seeing where that takes me.

This week things feel like they are finally falling into place. For a long time, the pieces have been muddled for me.  So many things I love and would love to be doing, so many changes in personal circumstance that make those things difficult to impossible at present. But patience in shifting through the pieces seems to have paid off and I have a clear vision for my work and life over the next few years, at least! And that’s as much as any of us really can hope for, I’d say.

Rebalancing Woman is growing into a haven for women seeking balance in motherhood. A space for holding that journey, giving time and presence to the challenges we face, and healing physically and emotionally and spiritually for women’s journeys in connection with motherhood – whether we are talking ‘mother wound’, fertility, baby loss, pregancy, birth, breastfeeding, recovery after birth, or holding ‘mother’ as part of our identity over the longer term, for me, that is what Rebalancing Woman is about. It’s a women-only space, and all women seeking to bring balance in connection with that idea (and reality!) of ‘mother’ are welcome.

And it’s a space for sharing my own journey and thoughts and reflections on these things, of course! I hope we will one day come to a time where every mother can feel not alone in her experiences, but until that time sharing stories helps us to connect with what’s real in that journey, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the challenging.

Day to day, our free Facebook community group is holding space for holding centre, witnessing and sharing this journey, and of course I’m loving the deeper journey of those engaged with the Heart Healing for Mothers programme.

I’ve created a new home hub for another piece of my work this week – that piece that focuses on birth education and advocacy. For me, this work is a real soul calling and it is something separate (though connected) with what I and our beautiful community of women are holding here at Rebalancing Woman. The exciting piece of this is that I’ve joined up with the fabulous Indie Birth to offer their community birth workshops ***for free!*** The first one will be happening 29 July 2017 at Miss Tina’s in Sunderland. Things are shifting rapidly in the birth world in the UK and it feels like the right time to step up to re-engage with this work. I’m looking forward to writing, teaching, and blogging regularly on birth and related topics.

My final piece of exciting news is that I’m going back to school this month. I’ve taken up study in a 2-year programme that will no doubt challenge and fulfil me, and take me deeper with my own work and calling. I’m really excited to begin, but am aware that it will take some serious commitment. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sharing some pieces of that journey over on my birth education and advocacy blog over the next months.

I’m often working with oracles in various ways, it’s a simple and sacred way for me of feeling connected. This morning I chose one for July. The message that came through was a simple one: ‘you choose’. I know what I’m choosing now (and wow what a journey it has been to get to this point of clarity and choice).

What are you choosing for you? I’d love to know what the freshness of July is bringing to your life and world. Come share with us in the group.

Good mother welcome

Good Mother, Welcome

I came across this title in one of Leonie Dawson’s workbooks in January.

The title caught my attention, as at the time I was feeling quite at the bottom of my aspirations toward ‘good’ or even ‘adequate’ on the motherhood front.  I thought some wry, sarcastic wit could be just the antidote to my troubled sense of my own imperfection.

When the book came, it was something quite different. It was a book of poetry, tender, heartfelt, real. The first words took my breath away, and brought me to tears. “Good mother, welcome. We are glad you are among us.”

How many of us truly believe we are ‘good’ on the motherhood front? Maybe some of us, some of the time. On a good day. Many more of us struggle to believe we are ‘good’ or even ‘good enough’ in the face of life’s (and our own) imperfections.

“Good mother, welcome.” What makes it so hard? Why do so many of us feel ‘not good enough’?

(And I mean beyond the help of those irritating Facebook memes that assure us, ‘you are enough’. I applaud the sentiment. I’d love for all of us to genuinely feel that all of the time. But if that meme is enough to touch your heart’s sorrow and reverse it, you probably don’t need me or what I have to share here, and I wish you well in your happiness.)

Do you know what it feels like to wake up every day and know that actually things in your life are really not right, that you and your children are suffering from this, and that massive change is going to be needed to bring them closer to right, but feel too exhausted even to begin because the little energy you have is consumed by caring for children? 

I do. I know I’m not alone in this. And it’s not about perfectionism. It’s also not about being inadequate or unskilled or pathologically unwell…and it’s not about being ‘not good enough.’ What I see time and time again is that it is about being in a situation that is hard, and beyond what we feel we can cope with easily or well on our own – and where we nonetheless must carry on.

The details of that situation will vary. It may be abuse or relationship breakdown. It may be a bad birth or breastfeeding experience that leaves us with pain, regret, or on-going trauma. It may be illness or accident. It may be stuff from the past rising up for attention. It may be sheer depletion and exhaustion from the impossible expectations that life (motherhood) can throw at us.

Whatever the cause, so many women, so many mothers are struggling daily with deep heart pain and troubling isolation. And we do our best to keep going, often deflecting and minimising our stories, most of us until we can’t any longer.

Given the experience of motherhood as many of us are living it, I don’t think there is anything abnormal about how we feel. By that I don’t mean that the problems are not real – they are all too real, and all too in need of attention – and change! But what I do mean is this: if you feel crappy in a crap situation, that’s overall a healthy thing – and a good sign that your mind and body are still capable of functioning as they should. And there is a possibility for change.

When there is something out of order in the body or in the mind, there is a natural impulse to keep the body functioning as best as can be. In other words, we compensate. If we have an injured foot, we might walk on the side of it, or hop along, right? 

It’s no different with the emotional stuff. We protect ourselves and our children as best we can. And when we compensate our bodies (and minds) may use convoluted pathways to accomplish what needs to be accomplished so that we can keep going. But over time that stuff builds up. It starts shouting for attention. We are, on a heart and soul level, calling out for what we need most – connection, love, freedom – we want to be whole.

Motherhood makes it tough to process this stuff. Approximately a 1000x harder, in my experience. Because there is nearly no (if any) downtime. How often do you get solitude? A space to process? My guess, if you have small children, is hardly ever. I personally still feel ‘on’ to some degree even when my little one is sleeping. And there is a general devaluing and invisibility to the work that goes on. That work can feel pretty relentless at times.

I had an image of what this feels like to me the other day. I am a bucket, with water flowing in. The rate varies, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on what’s happening in my life. But there are four largish child-shaped holes requiring a constant flow from me. Three of these holes empty into smaller buckets that have some degree of inflow from another parent (in our case this is restricted). One of these is fed almost exclusively by me as he has no other parent. All receive some inflow from social connections, school, other carers – and I’m very grateful for this – but we live far from family, and the bottom line is, most of this comes down to me.

The water (the energy, the intentions, the nourishing of self) that pours into the bucket is always also pouring out to protect and to nurture and to nourish these little people. When the level in the bucket gets so low, and the inflow is weak, or God forbid, the bucket itself becomes damaged, well, I’ll let that image speak for itself. It takes a constant higher level of effort on my part to remain in place than it does for someone who has an undamaged bucket with no holes in it.

We live in a world where most of us have damaged buckets. And even for those of us that stepped onto the path toward motherhood relatively intact, we many of us have had further knocks and blows along that trajectory of ‘motherhood’ in the modern world.

I don’t want to sound too pessimistic here. I do not in anyway believe the situation is hopeless, for any of us. The past years of working with women and working on myself have shown me nothing if not that healing – living really fully, with feeling, with joy and whole self – is possible even when we have experienced some truly terrible things. I believe women (and humans) have incredible capacity for resilience. But for those of us who are mothers, who have ongoing responsibility for little people, the path to that needs to be something that encompasses and includes motherhood, not something that ignores it.

I’ve been working really hard over the past months to raise the level in that personal bucket. I let it get too low, for too long, because I kept expecting help or change to come from the wrong places. I’m getting there, now, with although I will be the first to admit that it’s not a linear process, but one where the levels can fluctuate and where often extra care needs to be taken.

For women like me, the quick fixes will never be enough because we are constantly giving in a way that quite probably is invisible to those who have not experienced it. It is difficult to truly value that. I catch myself minimising it, erasing it, hiding it, as much as the next person. There’s something unseemly about motherhood requiring real effort.

And we end up hiding so much, and denying ourselves the credit of what we are actually accomplishing every day (if you personally are feeling unsure of what this is exactly, I recommend to you Naomi Stadlen’s wonderful book What Mothers Do). In doing so, we also often deny ourselves access to the tools and communities that would nourish and support us.

Motherhood is not a place where we should be left  on our own.

I sometimes wonder if the call to ‘self-care’ for mothers I see on Facebook is a bit like the call to train babies to ‘self-soothe’. Are we (in some cases) looking to cut off and shut down the pathways of communication so we don’t have to see what is happening?

Self-care is essential. But it shouldn’t be about shutting us up or shutting us down.

Human beings are social animals. We are tribal creatures. We need connection and acceptance and love in order to thrive. Mothers who are constantly giving so much need this even more – we need holding (not taking away, or reducing our competence, simply holding) so that we can do what is required of us.

It’s really hard for most of us to open to that truth. Self-sufficiency is valued. Vulnerability can feel like (and be interpreted as) weakness. In the worst cases, that vulnerability can be (and is daily) taken advantage of, leading to greater suffering and trauma. And so many of us carry on suffering in pockets of isolation, feeling like there is something profoundly wrong with us because our hearts are heavy and our bodies are strained, and we do whatever we need to do to suppress it and cope and keep on keeping on…until we really can’t.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Our society – in relation to motherhood and childrearing – is broken. It’s the impact of this brokenness that most of us are feeling when we feel isolated, alienated, traumatised, depressed. These feelings are in essence a healthy response to an unhealthy situation.

We need to address this by acknowledging what parts of this brokenness we are holding within ourselves, allowing ourselves to see and acknowledge what we are actually feeling and experiencing. We need to feel free to access support that doesn’t take our agency and our competence away from us, but that holds a space of safety and resourcefulness where our strength can be restored and our resilience grow. We need to feel loved, valued, held and witnessed – and to be part of things as women as well as mothers.

If what I’m saying here makes sense to you, I’d like to invite you to join me on Thursday, 15 June 2017 at 11am for a free webinar ‘The Wounds of Motherhood’. This isn’t your ordinary webinar! There won’t be lots of slides or teaching. Instead we’ll be holding space for a personal process to reconnect with the (often untold) stories we are holding in a way that makes room for our personal agency in bringing healing, insight, and positive change. This is a process I’ve used many times with my 1:1 clients, and in the “Untold Stories of Motherhood” sessions, but it is the first time I’ll be sharing it live online. At the end, I’ll also be sharing details of the Heart Healing For Mothers programme that’s begining 22 June 2017.

 

Access the free replay The Wounds of Motherhood here.

Finding your word of power for 2017 (free audio)

It’s that time again, winter upon us, long dark nights…and I know many will, like me, after a *very* hard year, be looking forward to the dawning of something fresh in 2017. It’s honestly hard to hold that vision at present, with the world in crisis in so many places, as well as the challenges we all are facing in our ordinarly personal lives, but it is even more critical that we do so.

It’s been a tradition for me, the past few years, to choose a word for myself for the year – a personal word of power, one that guides the personal learnings, my commitment to myself and the world, and what’s in store for the year to come. Sometimes it’s easy and obvious – other times less so.

For 2017, I *knew* it already on some level, but I kept doubting, questioning, and generally resisting and squirming around it until I sat down with my drum and gave myself some space. It was a much more powerful experience than I was expecting. I’m convinced now! And challenged in equal measure. But I received some beautiful words around it, and a sense of rightness that I can return to and treasure.

This week, I’m sharing over on Soundcloud a drumming track to support that connecting with a personal word for 2017. If you’ve already got your word, you can use it to receive some teachings and guidance about what’s to come – or, if you’ve been struggling, I hope it will bring some clarity to the process for you!

You can access the file for free – no email needed – by clicking on this link, or on the image.

Also, I have a couple of very special year end offers for you! It is the time to dig deep and strengthen ourselves over this winter.

The Soul Purpose Sessions are now on offer for £47 through 31 December 2016. These normally are priced at £147 so it is an incredible opportunity to connect more deeply and feel supported in your soul purpose and calling through this year end. You can find out more about what’s included here: The Soul Purpose Sessions.

Last year at year’s end, I offered some really popular Power + Clarity sessions – I’m happy to say these are back, and I’m thinking I’ll likely make an annual tradition of it, as I love doing it so much. The sessions include a reading for the year ahead (working with Runes and/or Tarot or Oracle cards) plus a shamanic healing session that includes a power or soul retrieval.

These sessions are done over Skype/Distance so are open to all, however, there are very limited spaces as my time for 1:1 work is limited. I’m opening 8 spaces for these sessions, which last approximately one hour and a half. You’ll receive:

*a LIVE 1:1 session with me over Skype for a full-length reading with guidance to support you through 2017

*a video recording of the Skype session

*a 45-minute distance energy healing session complete with power or soul retrieval (as is most appropriate for you at this time)

*a write up of the healing explaining the work that was done, what was restored, and guidance for how to best integrate the power and/or soul parts that have been restored to you.

The cost for these sessions is £90. I’ll also be open to a doing half of these as readings only if you prefer (£45 for the session).

“😃 yay! Honestly my one last year was so spot on month to month. Really kept me going at times 💗💗💗.” -Shakti Tracy, Diamond Heart Network

To book, just click the link below indicating which option you’re going for (full session or just reading) – once I’ve received your payment, I’ll contact you to schedule time for your session (these can be booked for either December or early January). Offer is limited to 8 and closes 31 December 2016.