Happiness, reflection, Spirituality

How Deep is your Faith?

To use the words of the fabulous Robbie Williams, ‘I sit and talk to God’.  On a fairly regular basis to be honest, passing the time of day, discussing what’s going on.  For a long time I have avoided this topic as I know it turns many people off. But, as part of an online course I’ve been doing, I’ve been encouraged to speak my truth – just put it out there – because what’s the worst that could possibly happen?  Much like my Grandparents, I have a deep, rich faith that guides me in everything that I do, like a core of steel that runs through my middle.  I will also admit for a few years now I have tended to avoid it, and pretend it’s not there, and treat it as an inconvenience, not something to be cherished.  I have reached the point where I want to own it and share it.  I’m not going to stand in the middle of the town with my microphone pretending I’m on speakers corner!  I must admit, and I probably shouldn’t, that some of the best comedy moments in the centre of Bristol occur as a result of such speakers.  There is normally an avid audience of drunk, surprisingly knowledgeable homeless people sitting watching and giving their thoughts on the various points raised.  Nor, am I going to try to convert anyone!  For me faith is a quiet, private thing, that just fills my being, makes me who I am and influences how I live my life.

There have been various moments in my life when this has been evident.  The main one was in November 1997 when I found out it was highly unlikely that I would have children.  I knew in that moment, with a certainty right through my being that this was meant to be.  I don’t think I have ever been so certain of anything in my life.  (The day I met my current husband probably ranks up there as well, but that’s a whole other story).  I was never offered IVF, nor did I request it, but I’m afraid I knew and still know that there is a reason for everything and whilst I’m not sure I will ever know the reason why, having my own child wasn’t going to be a feature of my life.  Obviously, not agreeing with IVF is a difficult path to tread and so I tend to steer well clear.  As the saying goes ‘different strokes for different folks’.  But when I got asked the question, which I frequently did, as to why I didn’t have children and why I hadn’t gone for IVF, I got more than a few raised eyebrows when I said I didn’t believe in it!  Yes, I know I could have adopted too – but it’s not quite that straight forward and at the time when I was of an age where I would have considered it, I wasn’t in the ideal situation to adopt, further evidence that for whatever reason, children weren’t meant for me.  My favourite discussions on this topic were with children I taught.  I never shied away from the facts of why I wasn’t a mother but the best thing I ever heard from a student was ‘Well, that’s a shame Miss, you would have made a great mum’!  Unfortunately, as the years have gone by I have begun to doubt my initial reaction, with the constant questioning (because apparently, as a woman, the only thing in life that matters is having children) the constant bombardment of family focussed living, the numerous friendships that ended because our lives were headed in different directions – nobody’s fault, it’s just the way life is. Gradually as I found myself increasingly isolated I did begin to question my faith and my initial certainty that being childless was meant to be.

There is also the issue of having a purpose in life.  I won’t be leaving my mark on this world in the way most people do – that of having a child or grandchildren to remember them by.  This is where a lot of my seeking and searching stems from, that I must leave my mark on the world.  Like it or not, there is still so much pressure on people who don’t have children – people say there’s not, but 9 times out of 10 they have children.  So much of life today seems to be based on making your mark, making a difference, having a purpose, achieving your true purpose in life.  I have probably tried my hands at most things since I stopped teaching in 2015, trying to find that ‘thing’ which will give me a purpose in life.  But when you don’t know what that might be, it all becomes a little bit tricky.  If you add in very bad FOMO and raging impatience it all becomes even harder!  !  I struggle with trusting and waiting.  I want to know now!  I want to know why I didn’t have children, I want to know what my life’s purpose is and I want the answers now.  So, I seek and seek and seek a bit more to try and find the answers – rather than just sit and trust and enjoy where I am now.  I start a million things, but finish very few. I do very much fear that I’ve missed out on having a purpose, I might have already done it – maybe teaching was my purpose, maybe it’s yet to come – who knows, but I really, really would love to know and find trusting that I will know very difficult and incredibly frustrating and exceptionally slow!

As a consequence of not having children I’ve had to develop other ways of engaging in conversation with other people. You know how the conversation goes. ‘What’s your name?’, ‘Where do you live?’ ‘Do you have children?’ ‘No’. Oops, drawn a blank, move on. So, I can now talk to anyone, about anything and it doesn’t have to relate to children.  It’s not really a skill I realised I had until I was chatting to a friend recently who said, ‘It’s all right for you, you never had children, you can talk to anybody about anything’.  Whilst I ignored the ‘not-so-subtle’ slight at the start of the sentence it did make me realise that actually, I can do that, I can chat to anyone about anything and I am not particularly intimidated by walking in to a room full of people where I know no one.  Handy hint, football gets you a long way in this world and if you listen to the headlines on Radio 5 you will find out all you need to know about what’s current in any sport!  I have also done so many things that I wouldn’t have done if I’d been a mother – I wouldn’t have been a teacher, I wouldn’t have competed in triathlons, or run half marathons or visited any of the places that I’ve been fortunate enough to go to.  I wouldn’t have learned to make my own way in the world.  I have had to face up to my fear of the world every day and just get out there and get on with life.

Before we left Bristol for Portugal I gave the Coffee Boys who had kept us going through lockdown a thank you card.  Husband commented at the time that not many people would have bothered with that.  But I felt it was important that they understood the difference they had made to us at a difficult time.  The Coffee Boy was a bit bemused when I gave the card to him, but then after I’d explained what it was, his face lit up.  There was another chap that went to the coffee hut occasionally.  A lovely chap, and in keeping with my ability to chat to anyone, one day I asked him if he’d like a cup of coffee.  He was so shocked that a stranger would offer a cup of coffee and bizarrely I was the second in that week – so he clearly had something about him!  But sometimes that’s all you need in a day, a stranger to talk to you, to offer you a cup of coffee, just to know that someone noticed you that day – it turned out that he did live on his own and he came to the coffee hut, just to get out and see somebody different.  We spoke to him regularly after that, but I never did get to buy him a cup of coffee – but he did give me a thank you note which I stuck in my journal.  I also wrote letters to people during lockdown – so they had a nice piece of post coming through their letterbox to brighten their day.  

Perhaps that is my purpose in life, just to make someone smile every day, and do you know, I’d be happy with that.   Perhaps it doesn’t have to be grand at all. I also need to trust more, trust myself, trust that everything does happen for a reason and that I am in the place that I am meant to be.  Trust in my faith, trust that it will stand me in good stead in both the good times and the bad, and I also trust that when I do talk to God, he doesn’t laugh at my plans.  I just wish he’d be a bit quicker with the answers!  Although, as a friend of mine recently said, ‘God does seem to work to tight deadlines’.

Happiness, reflection, Spirituality

Should Says …..

Should says many things.  We live in a world of should and over the years the words of should have echoed in my ears and constrained the way I have lived my life.

  • I should try harder
  • I should work harder
  • I should be a mother (sadly I’m reaching an age where I should be a grandmother)
  • I should be quiet and I should also be louder or at the very least I should speak up more
  • I should sit still
  • I should grow up
  • I should be a good wife / daughter / sister
  • I should put the needs of others before my self
  • I should have a bigger house, car, TV, better phone
  • I should want more yet at the same time I should be content with what I have
  • I should be more ladylike
  • I should behave appropriately whilst I should also let my hair down a bit – I’d probably be more fun if I did
  • I should exercise
  • I should be thin
  • I should be on a diet
  • I should drink less and I should also drink more
  • I should expect less whilst I should aim high
  • I should have a successful career but I should also be nice
  • I should be a senior leader
  • I should be outstanding
  • I should be faster
  • I should look a certain way. I should have long hair. I should wear longer and shorter dresses.
  • I should get a tan, get a bit of colour
  • I should let go a bit, let my hair down, have a good time
  • I should be on social media. I should post 3 times a day for optimum engagement.
  • I should have more money of which I should donate more
  • I should get a job and I should volunteer
  • I should care less what other people think

It’s that last point that brings me to where I am today.  I’ve wrapped myself, no, I’ve bound myself, with all of these ‘shoulds’ that have bombarded me, and sadly, are becoming bigger and faster and more frequent in this modern world and I’ll be the first to admit myself that I’ve struggled to work out what matters and what doesn’t.  I have tried so hard to be everything I should be to everyone I should be.  Over the past month I’ve been doing a course with an Intuitive Guide that I found quite by accident at the beginning of lockdown and I find myself at this point, where I realise that in by focusing on should I have actually neglected who I am and what matters to me.  I’ve reached the point where the ‘shoulds’ that have bound me have been torn apart and my heart is poking through to say hello to the world.

I can name on one hand those people who have made it through the binds that wrapped me up so tightly.  The people who have laughed with me, cried with me, run, (cycled and swum) slowly with me, drunk soft drinks and Prosecco with me, sworn with me, eaten cake with me (and often encouraged me to eat more cake), talked with me, filled my head with fascinating facts and discussed things with me, explained things to me when my maths brain couldn’t cope, travelled with me, who haven’t cared if I was fat, thin, tall, short, that have encouraged me to be more, do more, aim higher, have more of what makes me smile.  Those people who’ve taken the time to find out more, to understand more about me, to go beyond appearances and dare to find out what it is that makes me tick.  Those people who’ve seen me at my worst and at my best.  Those people who really don’t understand what goes on in my head at times, but are still there, regardless.  Those people who’ve shared the best and worst of their lives with me and who still continue to inspire me every day.  

For a bit there I taught sociology to A Level and I will never forget the words of Erving Goffman who talked about the stages that we perform on throughout our lives and that we are never truly alone.  There is always someone that we are performing to and if we are not performing we are rehearsing for our next performance or critiquing our last performance – so even when we are alone we struggle to be ourselves.  The world of should feeds this and with the onset of social media and the internet, we are bombarded with a constant stream of ‘shoulds’, even down to how clean your house should be and things change so quickly, so regularly, life is temporary, throw away. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be yourself, or stand out from the crowd, or even disappear from the crowd!  The props of life seem to be getting more and more and at the same time seem to be increasingly more important that life itself. 

So, what happens to a person who doesn’t want to live in a world of should.  I shall tell you. They are ridiculed, they are made to feel lesser than and bullied, as if there is something not quite right with them.  They are encouraged to change, to be more normal, to fit in a bit more, not draw attention to themselves quite so much, reign it in a bit, essentially to stop being who they are – primarily because it makes life easier for other people.  I remember I was running with some friends once, we were chatting away at the back of the pack, but careful to be in front of one woman who we always had to be ahead of and a chap commented that if we stopped chatting we could knock minutes off our times.  But where’s the fun in that?  Why should the only reason for entering a race be the result, why shouldn’t it be about the chit chat, the good bag at the end, the cup of tea and the cake!  The most fascinating people I know and have met along the way are those who quite regularly put two fingers up to should – who dare to be bold and dare to live life on their terms – and how often I’ve wished I could be more like them, but the bounds of ‘should’ were wrapped so tightly I couldn’t quite see how I could ever break free.

I’ve set myself a challenge.  To step out from the world of should, to let my heart shine, to do those things that make me smile, that truly make my heart sing and to finally stick two of my own fingers up to ‘should’.

  • It will be noisy and quiet in equal measure
  • It is both exciting and terrifying
  • It will involve the sand, the sea and the stars
  • There will definitely be music and dancing and laughter (and probably the odd tear or two)
  • There will be a yoga mat and a meditation stool
  • There will be swimming and cycling and God willing a bit of very slow running
  • There will be science and spirituality (although my brain will more than likely be a bit challenged by the science bit)
  • There will be writing and making and creating accompanied by swearing
  • There will be dreaming and twirling
  • There will always be cake

But most of all there will be more of me.


Happiness, reflection, Spirituality


During lockdown I underwent a bit of a spiritual journey.  I’ve always been a bit inclined towards the spiritual, as I have mentioned before, but lockdown provided me with more of an opportunity to read and to reflect.

I’ve read about Archetypes, received Intuitive Guidance, Intuition, Yogic philosophy along with some science based, meta physics theories such as the Heart Math Institute.  I’ve always been a bit of a seeker, which according to Caroline Myss in her book ‘Sacred Contracts’ refers to a person ‘who searches on a path that may begin with earthly curiosity but has at its core the search for God and/or enlightenment ….. in search of wisdom and truth wherever it is to be found’.   This clearly explains the books I have read, picking one up, reading it, then reading something else on a tangent, each time trying to find the answers – to what exactly, I don’t know. The shadow of this archetype me describes to perfection, especially since I finished working in 2015, ‘the ‘lost soul,’ someone on an aimless journey without direction, un-grounded, disconnected from goals and others’.  

I guess there has been a part of me that has been looking for a purpose, for answers, for direction, for a lightbulb moment that would tell me I’m on the right path, but equally I have been looking for a quick fix and rather than get off my increasingly ample backside and put some effort in to something I’ve continued to seek to find the answer somewhere else.  It has not gone unnoticed, that If I’d actually put some effort in 5 years ago, rather than trying to find the easy solution I could well be a millionaire by now!

I have found one piece of evidence in my defence.  In Yanik Silver’s Cosmic Journal he brings up the topic of books – that certain books arrive on your radar at certain times and they themselves lead you on a voyage of discovery.  Whilst one specific book might not be the one for you, it leads you to read another book, which might be more of interest to you.  I am clinging on to this with dear life, as I have read some belters recently, that really aren’t worth re-visiting!

Essentially, they all boil down to much the same thing.  That any decent person, worth their salt, approaches life from a perspective of love rather than fear and is conscious of the role that their ego, and the egos of those people around them play in every day life.  It does become quite an enjoyable past-time as well as giving you space to breathe and consider your own response to a situation as it unfolds.  For example, you might be the victim of road rage.  We’ve all been there, we may even have been the road rage champion, I know I have in the past!  You are driving along quite happily and then for some reason you are been beeped at, or on the receiving end of an obscene gesture.  Rather than responding in kind, just take a moment, step back and consider the ego of that person.  What is happening in their day to make them this unhappy and fearful?  What is happening in their home lives or their lives in general that they consider this is an appropriate way to behave?  Whilst it may appear a little airy-fairy, it does genuinely help in the moment to stop and consider that.  If you can throw in a bit of Ho’oponono as well, then that’s even better! 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But I digress!  Whilst I’ve been doing all this reading and seeking the same thing keeps coming up time and time again, just surrender, just let it go.  Husband is regularly asking me ‘Why does it matter?  Why does it matter how somebody else is behaving, it has no impact on your life, so why do you care’?  Last week I went to a meditation class here in Portugal and at the end of the class pulled a card from ‘Whispers of Lord Ganesha’  and the card I picked was surrender, again.

Part of the problem is I don’t know how to surrender.  Surrender to who?  Surrender to what?  How do you even begin to surrender?  Whilst I whole heartedly believe in the universe and that there is something bigger than me out there – I’m not in a position as yet where I am ready to call it God.  God Consciousness is about as close as it gets.  I listened to Russell Brand interviewing Ricky Gervais earlier this week and felt I was in a similar boat – for me God = organised religion = indoctrination and doesn’t reflect my beliefs in the slightest.  As I look back on my life, however, I can see a consistent inability to surrender to anything.  I’m the bull-at-a-gate type.  Jump in with both feet first, guns blazing and then stop to think.  Anger first, stand your ground, don’t give in, fight your corner.  I realise that I am continually tense, continually expecting the next battle – assuming everything will be a battle rather than just taking things as they come.  I’m constantly anticipating the next crisis, getting involved in the latest gossip, trying to muscle my way in to things to have some level of influence, some level of control.  I’ve always been like this, as a child, my sister used to ask me ‘Why can’t you just let things be, why do you always have to cause an argument?’.  I suppose I was trying to stand my ground, fight my corner, especially in the face of what I perceived to be an injustice.  I was much the same as a teacher, constantly fighting for my students – for some reason I have turned life into a battle – my ego in overdrive and this has become the norm.  Fighting is my normal.  So, this is where I need to surrender, to stop the fighting and just let go, just be, let people behave the way they want to, but I don’t have to turn everything into a battle, nor do I have to be involved in everything.  Even when I do a full body scan meditation, I have no feeling in my arms, it’s like they are constantly prepared to fight.  I also know, from research about my physical body that being tense is no good for you – it causes inflammation in the body and all sorts of minor ailments that build up to a bigger whole over time.  I’m fairly confident that my fibromyalgia / back pain is actually down to my pelvic floor being too tense and as a consequence the muscles in and around my lower back just aren’t functioning or moving as smoothly as they might.  

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I also believe that I am a ‘victim’ almost of the western lifestyle.  I should be successful, I should be earning money, I shouldn’t be content to just be a wife, I should be working hard, I should be achieving, and so I am constantly seeking, striving for something more, something better – but I don’t have any idea what that might be, so I am just feeling my way through the dark just hoping that something will come up that gives me purpose, that gives me direction.  There are so many things I love to do and make me very content – but they aren’t the types of things you ‘should’ be doing in life and they are certainly unlikely to generate an income any time soon.  My own ego is totally wrapped up in being successful, but in my heart, success for me is just being content and happy with what I have, but it seems to be increasingly at odds with the world around me.  Only this week, Body Shop have announced they will be launching their Advent Calendars on 25th August – what’s that about?  Since when did we even need a Body Shop Advent Calendar, let alone in August.  So, I battle with myself – between my ego which is wrapped up in should and have, and my heart which is just content to stay at home and crochet. In my heart I really do struggle to understand the desire to have more and more ‘stuff’ as evidence of success in life. What’s wrong with just being content with what you have.

So, I have to try to surrender, which sounds a bit odd and like I am even turning this into a battle ground!  I am trying to surrender.  When I feel myself tensing up or getting ready to fight, in the instance I do the Micro Method from the Institute of Intuitive Intelligence to identify the fear and turn myself from a state of fear to love.  It’s amazing how much in life is carried out from a position of fear, but the ego thrives on the drama of fear.  I try Heart Congruence, I try to turn the situation around and see how I might approach it from a place of love rather than fear.  I find Ho’oponopo works really well, especially when applied to a large group of people behaving in a way that I find challenging, such as the continual queue outside Primark, or the madness that is Christmas, or the skateboarders who seem to revel in destroying the environment around them.  I try to understand why it is I am so enraged in the first place – it always stems from a place of fear, of learned behaviours over time, so that fighting has become my norm, even in situations where there is absolutely no reason.  I guess the key thing is I am learning to find ways to turn off the anger switch and just consider, for a moment, that there might be an easier and better way to navigate through life and that I can’t actually solve all the problems in the world.  There comes a point where you have to surrender, and just let it go.  Or, as Adriene Mischler would say, from Yoga with Adriene, ‘Just trust the process’.