Friday, 3 February 2017

Reel Therapy and Red Shoes

Thank you so much everyone for the support and encouragement that you gave me after I wrote my last post, I so very much appreciate your love, kindness & friendship.

It's interesting how powerful family can be. Even the concept of family can be a binding/blinding force in our lives & all that comes with it- joy, love, connection, duty, shame, embarrassment or blessing.
I know many people hold an unwavering belief in the importance of family & family loyalty, once you're signed up- it's for life. But for some of us, family can seem more like a life sentence of disenchantment, disenfranchisement, loneliness & damage. Even so, there's a yearning in most of us to make sense of who we are & where we have come from. It's often not until we put the pieces together & grow a fresh perspective that we can make the right decisions about our own lives & understand which bits we can make peace with, which to screw up & burn, & those parts worth embracing with all our hearts. One of the most useful ways that we have found through the years to put our stories in to right focus, has been through 'reel therapy". We discovered early on that we have the same taste in movies & television & it just so happened that last year Rob went searching through libraries & various places online for programmes & "reels" that we might both enjoy viewing. As it turned out, this has been one of the most powerful perspective shifters we could ever have chosen. It was like understanding our history by being there in person. One of our absolute favourites is a British series called Home Fires: 
"Based on Jambusters: The Story of the Women's Institute in the Second World War by Julie Summers, Home Fires follows the exploits of a group of inspirational women in a rural Cheshire community. They may be far from the front and the fighting, but the shadow of the Second World War has cast a dark cloud over their lives.
With their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers experiencing bloodshed on the battlefields, the women band together to prevent their world falling apart."

When we begin to understand the forces, events & nuances of history that have served to shape our own families of origin & therefore our present lives, in more compassionate, objective ways there is a certain peace that sneaks in & settles us down, envelopes us in an old feather eiderdown & whispers "there, there". A fresh gratitude for the opportunities, gifts & abundance that we have received in our own generation, arrives. And this is a very good thing. It has quite a different effect than the stories handed down through family members- many of which are stuck & lopsided.

It is interesting to observe that, together through the years, we have grounded ourselves by instinctively recreating the values & down-to-earthness resourcefulness that we discovered in these programmes. 
Foyle's War is another series that we love passionately.
When things go awry in families the mess & consequences can be huge. We can often end up feeling dis-connected, unsupported, alone & plain not good enough. We can try way too long & hard to find a sense of belonging & safety in our families of origin when, in fact, if we could only see that our legacy cards were just never going to match up or overlap beyond blood, we would then be free to walk away from the expectation of finding love & fulfilment there. You know the saying "Oh look, aren't they just peas-in-a-pod?'

 & other times it's- "Where ever did she come from- the milk man?" Well that's all quite true- sometimes the apples drop all nice & neatly around the tree & other times, oh my goodness, we are not sure what kind of fruit we even are & neither does anybody else around us. So what do we do?    
A really great place to start is in allowing our old well rehearsed ways of seeing things to dissolve & along with it, a great deal of pain & frustration.
This short Danish video is a perfect example of what I mean.

If we are no longer backing the wrong horse & permit ourselves to see the world in fresh ways, we will be ready to open our eyes & hearts to new connections, friendships & ways of belonging.
Life is a little like a game of snap -sometimes we serendipitously meet someone & when we turn over the next life card we both cry "snap"! & in that moment we are also both found & seen.
Last year I came across Elizabeth Mortlock. I have never met her in person, but just by seeing this "reel story" I feel a kinship, a connection & a sense of joy that I didn't have before.
 I adore her.

 Some 27 years ago now I met my very dear friend Cheryl. From that first moment to this, even though we lead very different lives, we always "see" each other when we get together. Cheryl gave me a gift 6 years ago that was delivered in the shape of a card, but was in truth, a golden key that was to unlock my life purpose. The card said Angel in my garden.
This Christmas I received another shiny, perfect gift, from Jude- this little book called Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp. From the minute I held it in my hands, I found myself both enthralled & exhilarated- here was my new life story written in a childrens' book. Jude saw me when she picked up the book- the seeing & the book, both exquisite gifts.

Babushka Galushka encourages Ruby to be an aware hare, treating everyone's feelings, as well as her own with great care.
"Feelings are just like delicate bird's eggs," she would say. 
"Be as gentle as you can with them".
Ruby enjoys little naps in the cool grass.
Often she daydreams, watching the breeze tickling the leaves or hurrying lazy clouds through the powdery blue sky. 
Ruby Red Shoes lives in prettily painted caravan...with a very sweet & kind man.
And shares her happy Sunshine Vintage life with all who pass by.
"There are always so many things to do in the garden- seedlings to be planted & watered, busy, buzy bees to be calmed with gentle words."
This Ruby Red Shoes now has a bike called Wisp
that she rides all round the neighbourhood, looking over fences, collecting seeds & waving cheerily to all the nice people that she sees along the way.
She even has a little bell.
Just in case hedgehogs & other small animals come across her path.
Lucy & Wisp are now best of friends.
Ruby doesn't know what she'd ever do without them now.
At the conclusion of last year I wrote a personal manifesto. 
Here is a little of what it says:

...I fling open every window to wonder, curiosity & beauty & I am deeply thankful for the abundance that flows all around & through us.

These are the days when I will remember how to skip & play & dream.
My lost & uncomforted inner child will re-connect with goodness & love, & learn to believe in her own sacred calling & expression.
One day, I will truly learn to laugh with gay abandon.

Even though these times are hard for many, my path will be sprinkled (saturated) with flowers, bees & butterflies.
The trees & birds will be my friends.
am An angel in the garden & I am Ruby Red shoes.....

Generosity will be my trademark; friendship & kindness my coat of many colours.   

I will be healed.

Goodness will flow.

My floral, fragrant, light-filled legacy of joy & kindness will be a well-spring for many years to come & this- will change the world, for good.

Much love, Katie- the little girl who finally found her shoes, her wings & her destiny.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Upon Reflection...

Well, they don't call them the Wisdom Years for nothing!
I love this new phase of my life as a Wise Woman & the insights that have come with it.
It's been a long, hard, strange journey, but in the end, a fascinating one.
I have forged my own perspective about some of the fundamentals & written a new manifesto for my life.
I am going to tell you about the way I see things, because my insights & perspective came about through the struggle & in the darkness & they matter.

I have learnt that we all get delivered in to this world "somewhere", but we don't get to choose the destination or the circumstances.
We get delivered to people who may, or may not, be ready for, nor thrilled about our arrival. We are not just born to "parents"- mothers & fathers, we are born in to a family. We are the on-flow of thousands before us & their loving, struggling, thriving or muddling through this life we all face.
At birth we each receive a package it's called the Legacy Pack & in it we will find a set of cards; unique, personalised & preset. We don't get to pick & choose.
Often we fret about our appearance, bodies, or ability limitations, but we get so much more than that in the deal- we get all the consequences: energetics, blessings & curses of the choices that those who came before us have made. We are washed with their hopes & fears, belief systems & superstitions & often carry the resonance of their wounds, traumas & tragedies.

For many years we don't even understand we've got our own set of cards.
Sometimes we discover them randomly or by accident, others are laid out nicely in order for us. Some will be wonderful & good, many will be a mystery, while others are just hard luck & crap, but they're ours.

On Christmas day I found myself alone in the afternoon & evening (which was just fine) &
 I happened to sit down & read my father's biography of his early life. I had previously heard pride-filled stories of how my great grandfather Frank had cooked for the Queen when she traveled on New Zealand Railways in her visit to our little nation back in 1956, what I didn't know was, that Frank found himself  orphaned at the age of 12 when both parents died of the 'flu, he was sent to sea indentured as a cabin boy. His ocean travels eventually led him to arrive in Wellington in 1907. I think we so often tell the grand stories of the memorable occasions & achievements, but it is frequently the small turns of fate that shape the lives of the generations. It is told that Frank could be grumpy, was no role model, frittered away his money at the TAB in later years & never really learnt to look out for, nor love others at home. He was discovered one day, dead under a rose bush at the bottom of the garden, after having borrowed the neighbours lawn mower, that he, in fact, had no idea how to use. 
The trauma of abandonment- losing his parents at such a young age, coloured Frank's life profoundly & so it was, that his son (my grandfather) struggled to love his own son well & the limitations were passed on & on; the heart needs never met, or satisfied. But of course, Frank was not the only contributor to my story.  

Our cards are dealt by many hands & do not come with an instruction manual, but they do, however, come with a gift box.
As parents, we don't get to choose the cards for our children either, but we do have the chance to love them for who they have arrived as & to create space for the gifts in the box to be explored & embraced, or discarded.
 They may be cards of blessing & goodness,
 we may find ourselves delivered in to a destiny of great love & safety.
 There may be hope & happiness in our hand.
 Or, we may be vulnerable to the harsh reality of a hard life.
Just like the garden, we either find ourselves planted in just the right spot & we flourish & thrive, or we struggle to survive if the conditions are not right for the kind of plant that we are. If the weather is harsh, the sun too burny, the slugs & snails too voracious & the caterpillars overly persistent we may never flower or bear fruit as we were meant too. Sometimes we are trampled upon, the hungry rabbits have a go, or the blight gets us & we shrivel & die.
Resilience is not guaranteed.

Sometime last year I came across a remarkable woman, a paediatrician named Dr Nadine Harris Burke & her TED talk entitled 
"How childhood trauma effects us across a life time".
When I heard her speak I was flooded with a validation I had been seeking my whole life- I sobbed & sobbed.
I always knew that my basic needs for love & acceptance had never been met & that I had lived my whole life with dangerous levels of toxic stress, brought about by the impact of other people's behaviour & choices. I didn't know how to create boundaries to keep myself safe, or how to discharge the adult weight/burdens or trauma that were sitting on my little heart & shoulders & suffocating all the life & joy out of me.
My heart learnt the crazy ways of pain & suffering & the happiness, joy synapses were broken.
Dr Burke says: "The science is clear, early adversity dramatically affects health across a lifetime...The single most important thing we need today is the courage to look this problem in the face and say this is real and this is all of us."

I quite often hear people reflect that healing is simple if you really want it. That we should just get over ourselves & see the good things in life. "What have you got to complain about, there are others much worse off" & the kicker- "Your problem is you just need to forgive". You should just get counselling or take medication or......... 
My father was always quite certain that you just get up in the morning & you say "It's a great day!" & then you get on with it & everything is then peachy.
Those of us living with the imprint, handprint & brain shaping of trauma & abuse in our childhoods are not experiencing depression, suicidality or poor physical health because we forgot to choose right.
I need to say here, that there is certainly a place for forgiveness, but it is many times an end point not  starting one & it is not a panacea for all pain & trauma.
That is why researchers asked these questions of the abused & traumatised:
"- whether or not their parents were divorced, whether they experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional neglect, and whether they grew up with family members who were mentally ill, or addicted to drugs, or alcohol.
And they documented an overwhelming correlation with poor health outcomes. Higher numbers of adverse experiences consistently yielded more health problems. Compared to people with no childhood trauma, people with 4 or more were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer or heart disease; 7 times as likely to be alcoholics; 6 times as likely to have depression; and 12 times as likely to have attempted suicide. People exposed to 6 or more traumatic events died 20 years sooner than those who had none.

But in the years since the study was published, a generation of scientists have begun to understand and explain the way stress shapes our bodies. Biomedical scientists and brain researchers have shown how “fight or flight” stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, which flood the body when someone encounters danger, can cause lasting damage in the brain and body when a child is under prolonged or repeated and unmitigated stress, what is now commonly known as toxic stress."

The effects of adverse childhood experiences are very real & have a life long impact on everything about our lives.
This is a truth that I have long known- the impact of the trapped emotions & toxic stress settles in to the human body causing all manner of illness & dis-ease. That is why it is so vital to engage with our bodies in conversation whenever they speak to us. If we do not listen, they will find another way to get our attention.

It is almost impossible to become our true selves & find our soul purpose in this world when the sounds of trauma & un-wantedness are still ringing in our ears.
There is a paragraph in the richly wonderful little book "The Kitchen Congregation" by Nora Seton that when I read it, it jumped right out & sat in my hand looking at me.
Nora is talking with her 94 year old friend Ida, as always, they are in Ida's kitchen, Ida is recalling some incident with her husband some 30 decades earlier- a tiff that rankled. Her face is fierce in the recalling, her anger still bright as if it were yesterday. And here comes the illumating observance of her friend when shes says "Hurt sits in a cave. All the old hurts sit there together, so that when you walk in to the cave you may confront many of them, all born on different days & rage anew about the lot. I had rare glimpses into Ida's rage. The rage didn't concert me as much as being old & tsill feeling angry about something that had happened thirty-odd years ago, some eight second snippet between husband & wife during the long journey of a marriage. She looked at me & said nothing. Her eyes were teary. My breath went short & sorrow pushed against my lungs. No one wanted to carry memories of hurt. My father had sometimes late at night, decanted some fine old painful memory, keen & rich & perfuming his life still.  His brimming eyes suggested that there had been no intervening years, had never aged or weakened, had preserved in his tears the perfect knowledge of his suffering."

And this is how it is for all of us still carrying the wounds of childhood- hurt sits in a cave, a cupboard or a trunk & waits for us. Only with children, it is frequently the suitcase of the subconscious where the traumas make their home, their presence & resonance becoming the filter through which we see & experience life there after, involuntarily; unknowing.  
It was at the age of 6, at the time of the big disaster, as I witnessed my mother's suicide attempt, her adamant desire to exit this life & punish others, that all belief in goodness for me & my little life evaporated. Her exit strategy was no reflection on me, I know that, but the resonance of no desire to live/suicidality has contaminated my life & that of my children. It has stained. Where did it come from? Down through the generations, through the wounds of many, through the passing on of cumulative unresolved traumas sitting in caves. Sealing the door, doesn't reduce the potency, or erase the impact of toxic stress.
It is often said "Oh but the kids will be ok, they are soooo resilient". This is just not true. Children do not know how to process trauma, wild emotions, deep loss & toxic stress unless it's demonstrated to them & they know that they are loved & supported & safe through the process. If this safety net is not present, we just store it all away in the cupboard for another day. I have also observed that where the greatest dysfunction lies, we will also find the complete lack of, or abuse of effective personal boundary setting. If we want to heal our lives & families we will need to learn the art of boundary setting well.
So how do we clear the cupboard?
What if there was a way to ditch all the hurt, the pain & the drama & become our real selves despite all the trauma; to become the wonderful people who we were always meant to be?
I have sort to heal my life & resolve my traumas for almost four decades without success, that is, until I was lent the Emotion Code by Dr Bradley Nelson. One of my gifts in the box with my life cards is the gift of a peculiar brand of intuition, I have developed my own style of using these principles & filled an entire book with the clearing of my legacy & trapped emotions & traumas. The difference after 18 months is extraordinary! My marriage is revitalised, my husband is finally free of issues that had crippled him his whole life, my health has improved & I am learning what it is to feel like an amazing human being. For the first time in my life I feel very pleased to be alive. Good things are happening all around me. I have even been able to help others in simple & accurate ways. I am speaking up for myself, telling my story, sharing my brand of colourful Sunshine Vintage joy & blessing others as I go along the path.
My greatest loss at the age of 6 was putting on the cloak of belief that nothing good would ever happen to or for me ever again.

This year is the year of gathering goodness.
Already so many amazing & wonderful things have unfolded,
I am learning to laugh out loud again & sometimes there is joy.
There is goodness & abundance & hope & freedom & I am so very grateful for it all, at last.

And now there is Wisp & some red shoes but I'll have to tell you about that another time....

Much love, Catherine xxx

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