Monthly Archives: May 2016

Be careful what you wish for! Setting Intentions

I wrote this article two years ago for Starflower Living e magazine.

‘Be careful what you wish for!’

Four years ago I embarked upon yet another ‘spiritual’ course to change my life, thinking that it would be interesting and fun and life would trundle on much the same. How wrong can you be! At the end of the course I set a powerful intention to have a child, fast forward to now and I’m chasing a toddler around all day long!

Let me back up a bit and tell you about myself. I had a rupturing ovarian cyst at 22 years old, I needed emergency surgery and I never really recovered as my abdomen was full of scar tissue – adhesions which don’t stretch so every movement was painful and for the first few years I couldn’t even stand up straight when walking. Over the years I tried many complementary therapies to aid my own healing, having discovered that conventional medicine (drugs) just don’t work on me. Reiki is my greatest love and I was blessed to discover it in 1997 and trained in it for my own healing. Gradually I learnt my own limitations and managed to do just-about everything I wanted. I met my soulmate Steve in 2004 and told him straight away that I couldn’t have children – I’d been told by Drs that I needed to wait a while but it may be possible but I didn’t dare believe it was.

Intention, Belief & Actions
I remember so clearly, Steve pushing me into signing up for the 7 week Feminine Power online/telephone course. So I enrolled and loved the work; there was a lot of self-exploration and introspection and it was very enlightening. The biggest challenge for me was at the end of the course when we had to future vision which is not something I’m particularly good at. Yet I can remember that vision so clearly – Steve and I in a large garden, laughing with our child. It felt incredible but to my mind unobtainable. Yet in the spirit of the course, I began to open up about the vision and ask others to hold the vision with me. It was so painful even admitting to myself that I wanted a child – I was 39 by now and had been told by a GP to give it up as I was suffering excruciating ovulation pain along with the constant adhesion pain. Admitting it to others was a slow process as it meant opening up such vulnerability. The biggest was admitting to my mother that I had that dream and letting her hold it with me. I worked so hard to break down my limiting beliefs which were preventing me even imagining having a child.

Over the next few months Steve and I were open about our desire though it still felt impossible as we’d been ‘not not-trying’ for years. Steve began making me juices every day and I would take female herbal tonics, along with our organic vegetarian diet. I began giving myself much more Reiki, especially my womb and we discussed and imagined how we would raise a child. I wrestled with my ‘perfectionism’ tendencies that led me to believe I needed to be slim and instead, nurtured myself on every level and trusted that if it was possible, I would have a child. I continued my Feminine Power journey by taking the Mastery course and then the Leadership course.

Stepping into the Unknown
I realised that all the healing and cleansing in the world wouldn’t help me because I was so miserable with my day job. So in autumn 2011 I finally left my job and flew to Los Angeles the next day to train as the only Feminine Power Coach from England. Weeks later, I co-led a women’s retreat with a fellow Feminine Power sister at her home in Italy. I relished the beautiful landscapes and sacred space of women. I held my own womb so deeply and finally after 18 years felt ready to go back through my operation energetically and heal that experience.

Non-Attachment
In March 2012, I had a vision/experience where I saw our son as a tall blond young man – and I said I was so sorry that he didn’t come into being but that I couldn’t try any more, I felt so upset each month and felt I couldn’t move on with my life. It was heartbreaking.

Weeks later, I co-led a retreat in Italy again and this time I was ready to engage with my own conception/birth, while being held by my sisters at the end of the retreat. I felt such a powerful bond with my mother and the journey we both travelled. The most transformative moment of the retreat for me was as I held one woman on the earth and felt my whole being channelling Reiki/Earth Love to her – it was a humbling and magical experience. I felt that even if I was never a ‘mother’, I am an Earth Mother and that is more than enough.

One month after the retreat, I missed my period! While unusual I put it down to peri-menopause. By the time I saw a doctor I was 10 weeks pregnant and had done 7 positive tests! I didn’t dare to believe it was possible. So there never was any of those screaming ‘I’m pregnant moments’ but a gradual realisation that maybe it was possible. Telling my mother was so precious and although we have a good relationship, it deepened in that moment. At my first midwife’s appointment, we heard the heartbeat straight away. I can’t describe that moment.

At 41 years old, overweight and with an abdomen full of adhesions, I sailed through the pregnancy. Lots of healthy vegetarian food, swimming 3x a week, daily walks meant I was fitter than I’ve ever been. We refused all medical intervention apart from one scan at 20 weeks when we were told it was a boy – no surprise given my vision and a dream a few nights before of holding a child dressed in blue. Though strangely we’d never considered boy names! I gave up freelance work and spent my days resting with meditation and healing and leisurely walks.

Surrender
Dillon arrived one day before his Great Grandmother’s 89th birthday in January 2013. His labour was a lesson in complete surrender to me as I faced my worst nightmare of medical intervention – from induced labour as his heart rate was elevated, right through to being rushed to theatre for an emergency c-section. I begged the doctors not to cut me as I wouldn’t be able to care for my baby if I put down more adhesions. At the very last moment, after receiving all the drugs, they were able to deliver Dillon with forceps. We were told he’d need to go to a ward for observation but within minutes he recovered and was passed to us for a sleepy cuddle with his father.

Trusting life to unfold
He is a total blessing to us and a challenge as we meet his needs and those of ‘the family’ with love. I am 2 stone lighter than I was before I got pregnant and rarely have any adhesion pain. We have easily slipped into ‘attachment parenting’ with breastfeeding, sling-wearing and co-sleeping – all the while led by Dillon. I am now gently returning more to the world as Dillon gains his independence at 18 months old. I’m a full-time mum and will remain so while gradually starting to do some healing and coaching work. I am also a passionate photographer and have written a Flower Meditation book which will soon be published.

Space

I offer a simple audio meditation called ‘space’ as part of my Wedding Relaxation and Truly Radiant packages and it feels so vital to me at the moment.

Our son is three and for several weeks we’ve noticed him wanting his own ‘space’ in many ways. From refusing to leave his car seat as it has lots of toys and he enjoys playing in there to being very clear on his needs and wants for example ‘no tickles’! Obviously this is an important developmental stage for him and it’s encouraged us to create his own bedroom which is really a playroom but it gives him his own space and us more space downstairs with less toys. Likewise our bedroom with 2 double mattresses now houses our extensive book and crystal collections. It’s far more ‘full’ now we don’t have a ‘spare room’ but it feels like ‘us’ as our things are around us and we’ve all been sleeping better.

Sometimes it feels so hard to have our own space – whether that is physical, emotional or energetic space.

When I felt overwhelmed at work I would often go to the toilets and imagine I was covered in a huge bubble that was my space so that I felt in control and I could balance my energy within my space. I ‘set’ my bubble so that negative energy could not reach me but that love and positivity could shine through (both ways).

I found lunchtime walks in nature were a great way of getting out of the work space and back into ‘me’ space too as well as listening to my favourite music or chatting to a friend.

Another way to create energetic space is to imagine expanding your energy from your body outwards. Try this Expansion meditation.

With love and blessings
Sam x

Being Authentic

Being authentic, being your true self, being transparent… These terms are used so much in coaching but what do they really mean?

It certainly seemed a lot easier to be ‘authentic’ in LA when I was there for my coach’s training five years ago. I turned up with pink streaks in my hair so I already had a certain ‘persona’! I’d just left my ten year job for… nothing …. I was simply Sam, stepping off a cliff with no plans for the future. I wasn’t even sure why I was there…I didn’t think I wanted to be a coach… I just felt called to go to the other side of the world alone and blow a huge chunk of our savings.

It was interesting to witness the cultural differences between the Americans and the Europeans – their enthusiastic Yeses and arm raising versus the European quiet yeses and sitting in seats. I’m generalising of course but I assume that the cultural differences are just that ‘cultural’, learned by our peers and elders to varying degrees.

To me, being authentic is being true to myself and reflecting that in the World. It’s not easy though. There’s a big vulnerability to saying ‘this is me’. In some ways it seems to conflict for me with being an introvert – I want to hide away, I don’t want to be ‘seen’ a lot of the time. I want to witness, to reflect, to listen. Yet certainly in social gatherings that can equate to not being seen at all.

I remember that when I co-lead women’s retreats in Italy, my co-leader Adelheid reflected back to me just how much she valued my quietness, my holding the space energetically while she led the group exercises, my behind the scenes organisation, my gentle healing and reflection to those in need. While I, in turn, so valued her powerful presence, enthusiasm, passion and direction to the group.

So how can we be authentic and still fit into the world?

Be true to yourself. Who are you? Do you know? You may want support to discover yourself or you may instinctively know.

Listen to the deepest part of yourself. Don’t listen to the voices that drag you down – are they even your voice? Breathe deeply and access a deeper, wiser part of yourself. Listen to that part. Act from that part while sending love to the other parts that are less wise.

Be kind to yourself. If there are areas that you’d like to change then do so compassionately, with support be that from a friend, a coach, a healer, a book, a course….

Be grateful for all that you are. Imagine your lineage, all your ancestors who made you who you are – thank them. Yet you are unique and individual.

Celebrate who you are. If you love to sing then sing or join a choir, dance, draw, heal, listen, run, do whatever it is that makes you happy and feel alive. Your joy will shine through.

Listen to others. Access that deepest part of you and listen to others from there. Be totally present to others and hear them. Give others the gift of deep listening and presence. Often it’s not the words others say but how they made us feel that we remember. Leave a space, don’t try to fix everything, just be present with love.

Think about the things that express who you are:
– your body for one – think about how you have your hair, makeup and clothes. Do they express who you are, bearing in mind you are constantly changing! For me this is loose natural soft fibres – I need to feel that against my skin, plain yet vibrant colours to express my mood. Hair and skin that looks ok without much maintenance except moisturising. I’d love to wear bright hippy clothes but somehow it’s ‘not me’ – not yet anyway!
– how you present yourself to the world – is it really you or a persona? If you use a persona then why? Maybe that gives you confidence, makes you feel safe? What other things could you do to give you that while expressing your true self?

Love yourself. Easy to say I know but start by practicing gratitude and kindness to yourself, listen to yourself, monitor the words you say to yourself. Take time to be with yourself, to know who you are. Find one thing you love about yourself and start a list. You’ll be surprised how quickly it grows. Read books on self love. Ask others to share what they love about you (and share what you love about them).

Recognise that nothing is static – the you of today could be very different tomorrow. Be curious and open.

Balance

It’s been such a challenging week for me with highs and lows and lots of doing and being. I want to share, certainly not as an expert, but as someone who struggles, on a daily basis with finding a balance.

Last week, I went swimming for the first time in ages – leaving our son at preschool and driving to the next village to swim. That in itself was a big step for me – he’s been going to preschool for three months and this was the first time I’ve left the village. The next day, he and I went to the local play park and had great fun on the soft play and slides and the tractor ride. After so much activity we slept all afternoon! Then we had a rush family visit to IKEA for some shelving units – literally running in and straight through to the warehouse – the Friday before bank holiday is not the best time to try and shop in Bristol! So the next two days were spent building units and moving furniture around with very little rest time. On Sunday we made the 200 mile round trip to see my grandmother. I love this precious time with her and seeing our son and her together. They are separated by 89 years and are definitely kindred spirits.
Just writing that makes me realise what a hectic, yet ‘so normal’ week it was. Hours later I woke from a deep dream about being in pain, to find I was in severe pain. My ‘old’ abdominal adhesions (scar tissue from surgery) were inflamed and I could barely move. This was such a shock to me – I’ve had three years virtually pain free since having our son. I had 19 years before that with chronic pain, being unable to have ‘a normal life’ and needing to pace myself. Having a child rarely allows me the luxury of pacing, even if we have quiet days I’m still lifting his nearly three stone weight constantly and running around with him or curling around him for cuddles. In fact pretty much all the things I’m not supposed to do with abdominal adhesions!

For the past few days the balance in my life has swung to complete rest – or as much as you can with a child. My husband took him out for a long walk and occupied him, my parents took him to their house for his first long stay with them. I slept, I gave myself Reiki and practiced being calm knowing that it will pass. Each morning, I’ve celebrated the extra mobility, being able to stand straighter, to sit, being less swollen and less tender.

I’ve reminded myself that I had this for many years, that for the first three years I couldn’t even stand up straight. I remember my university lecturer stopping me one day as I held on to the wall so that I could walk to class, and asking why I didn’t defer for a year to heal. That made me so mad! I knew I had the strength to continue, I wanted to complete my degree with my friends. I was very stubborn! Yet while that strength has been my saviour in so many ways, it’s had to be tempered on many occasions from doing to being when I have needed to rest, to ask for and accept support.

My mind has been trying to work out the physical cause of this setback and to ‘blame’ something whilst the healer/coach side looks at the possible deep emotional causes that resulted in this flair-up. I love to analyse and figure things out. Yet in many ways this simply is. Maybe I ‘should’ have remembered the pain years and been more carefully physically, maybe I should have rested more but isn’t wisdom so great after the event? Did I check in with my body over those busy days? Yes I did but maybe not enough! It’s so easy to make ourselves ‘wrong’ – I think that’s a conversation for another day!

Another part of me is deeply grateful for the support I have – both my own support from years of lived experience on how to deal with the pain, to my husband, family and friends who’ve helped with our son, to my Reiki for enabling me to ‘do’ something while remaining physically inactive. I am deeply deeply grateful that I have years of relaxation, healing and pain control techniques. This ‘flawed’ body magnificently managed to get pregnant naturally at 41 and birth our gorgeous son. My body continues to nurture our son and let me chase him around soft play or climb gorges or forests with him and my husband.

Of course in the balance of life, I wish I had more rest, more quality sleep but equally I so treasure those night time cuddles. Every day I see our son grow a little bit more independent and our mother-son balance shifts a little more as he can do more and I have to let go a little bit more. Some days he wants cuddles all day, others he wants to explore on his own. So I soften and surrender to the flow of life, some days being very active, others less so. Life is such a delicate balance and I feel so privileged to be exploring it/experiencing it, pain and all!
Take a moment to think about the balance in your life, does it feel ‘balanced’?
What does balance mean to you?
What would you like more of? Less of?
What actions can you take to create the balance you want?
You may want to draw a circle and use different colours for the different areas of your life to see how it looks visually eg work, play, family, relationships, study, creativity, fun, exercise. Are you happy with this balance? If not, how can reapportion bits? Have fun with colours and redraw the balance in your life, knowing that it is constantly changing. Have fun with it

Pain

I want to talk about pain as its so prominent in my life right now.

22 years ago I collapsed and was rushed to hospital. Days later I had abdominal surgery and I clearly remember coming around from the general anaesthetic and being held down as my whole body shook. In bed, I tried to sit upwards and felt as if my whole body had been sliced in two – well there was an 8 inch cut. I soon realised the morphine wasn’t working and I had 10 blissful pain free minutes after being given Pethidine but my reaction to it was so extreme that I was told I’m allergic to it and never to have it again. So began a long and interesting ‘journey’ to learn how to live with constant pain (both physical and emotional) caused by extensive scar tissue from the operation throughout my abdomen.

I’ve learnt how powerful we are as human beings, how our bodies can create far greater ‘drugs’ than the medical profession can provide. The power of the mind is real and, over time, I learnt to ignore the background hum of pain so that I could live my life. It was only when the pain reached a certain level that I’d consciously register it and then take action or usually non-action to heal as complete rest works best for me.

In the past few years I’ve embraced my body far more and learnt to listen rather than ignore which was my default for many many years. Now I check in with myself – what am I feeling? What do I need? And I listen to the answers. It may be that in that moment I can’t ‘do’ what my body needs but I can soften and be aware of my needs. Sometimes, that awareness is all I need to feel better. This softening to myself also stops blame and shame or making myself ‘wrong’.

I’ve adapted – from rolling to get out of bed or a seat rather than going straight up to having my car seat tilted back so that I’m not in an upright position but more, literally, laid back.

I’ve paced myself – certainly in the first 10 years I had to be very careful not to overdo things – so while working, I rarely went out at night. I certainly didn’t go out two nights running.

I treasure sleep. Sleep is a great healer and I respect that. In some ways having our son and the broken sleep that’s followed for over three years has been worse than anything else. Lack of sleep deprives us of healing and repair time for mind and body. I know I’m a lot slower mentally now.

I like swimming and walking. As the years have passed walking has become a lot easier so that I can now climb gorges or walk in forests for hours with our son on our ‘family Sundays’. Swimming is still more of a challenge. Before surgery, I was swimming 5+ times a week, now I can do far less but I treasure those swims.

I’ve become aware of how I’m standing or walking etc. How often do we pay attention to that? I remember doing a walking exercise on the Thought Pattern Management training course and my partner noticed that while my legs moved, the upper part of my body moved independently. Like I’d been ‘cut in the middle’ were his words. How true! That insight helped me to see myself as whole again and to consciously work with my energy in the top and bottom of my body so that it flows again now. Simple things like imagining a waterfall flowing down through my whole body and out through my feet, imagining that I can clear away any blocks so that there’s a strong flow. Sitting with my hands on my abdomen and imagining love and healing flowing into that part of my body.

Knowing that ‘this too shall pass’ helps me as I breathe into the pain. Being present to the pain, witnessing it and loving it makes it part of me rather than something that is separate to be ignored. For years I tried to ignore the pain and it got worse and I felt that I had nowhere to go and could see no possibility of it ending. Being present allows me to still be in the flow of life, knowing this pain will come and go, while I continue to be me. My pain isn’t me but it’s part of me and as such I send it love rather than making it separate and the enemy.

Gratitude is such a big healer. Instead of focusing on the negatives of pain, I’ve found that expressing gratitude to myself, the injured part of my body, brings me back into flow and possibility.

Be kind. To yourself and others. Being kind like gratitude, softens us, brings us back into flow.

Reiki has helped me so much on all levels. It allows me to ‘heal myself’ – I put my hands on my body or ‘think Reiki’ and it flows. It calms me, it gives me focus amidst the pain. It connects me to an energy that is far bigger than me – Reiki means Universal Life Energy. It brings calmness, peace and connectedness and enables me to ‘do’ something while bring physically still.

Meditation is such a fantastic practice – whether it’s simply stopping for a few moments and consciously breathing, following a guided practice or doing it as part of Reiki or a class for example tai chi or yoga. The more we practice meditation, the more our brain becomes wired for it and the easier it becomes to relax, to become present to ourselves.

Connecting with others – it’s so easy to become disconnected from others when we’re in pain, whether physical or emotional. Yet we need others. Reach out, share, be authentic about who you are and what is happening in your life. Join local or internet groups, seek out like minded people. Find your ‘tribe’. Be yourself.

These are just some of my thoughts and practices around pain. If you would like to know more about the power of our minds and bodies I totally recommend William Bloom’s The Endorphin Effect and all Dr David Hamilton’s books and website. I’ve been lucky enough to train with both of these amazing men and their work has been life changing. Louise Hay’s ‘You can heal your Life’ is a classic.

* This is my experience. Obviously if you have pain, you should always see a Doctor.