Soulful Sunday #29: Happy Fathers Day

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Dad greeting me into the world xx

Welcome to my twenty-ninth instalment of ‘Soulful Sundays’. A weekly share where I post a roundup of soulful reflections, each including recipes, songs, quotes, blogs I have read and/or any other inspirational discoveries to sooth the soul.

For me, Sunday’s have become a day of quiet contemplation and simple pleasures. A time to reflect on the week gone by and to consider my hopes and dreams for the week ahead.

My hope is to extend some love outward and to share some simple pleasures with anyone who cares to receive them.

Soul Reflections

Wishing my Dad a Happy Fathers Day in the sky. Heaven knows how much you are missed each and every day; how grateful I am to have had you in my life, and how privileged I feel to get to call you my Dad…

Thank you for blessing me with your love and for always being my guiding light. Loving you always, forgetting your never xx

Soul Strolls

During the Queen’s birthday weekend here in Melbourne last week, we took a day trip to Daylesford to enjoyed a lakeside lunch at The Boathouse. The sun was shining, the lake was peaceful and still, and the food was yummo! The perfect get away we’d been craving. We strolled around the town perusing the antique shops and boutiques.

The simplest things makes life so rich.

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The Boathouse, Daylesford

Soul Food

Today I would like to share with you this Raw-ish Caramel Ginger-nut Slice from one of my favourite health and wellness sites. It looks incredible. I’m always looking for healthy alternatives to satisfy my sweet tooth, and this one seems divine! I hope you have as much fun trying it as I will.

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Soul Music

In memory of Dad, I am sharing Bob Dylan’s Forever Young. Dad was a huge Dylan fan, and this track, which was played at Dad’s funeral, reminds me of the way Dad lived his life. He will always be forever young in our hearts.


Soul Sisters

I am sharing a beautiful post titled To The Beautiful Women Who Is Striving To Be Skinny by My Own Private Idaho. A powerful piece that acknowledges the way women become so entangled by the numbers on the scale. Here we have a stunning reminder of our inner worth and beauty.

I wish you all a peaceful Sunday. On this day, may we remember our Fathers past and present and send them peace and love.

In love and light,

Hayley xx

The Gift of Sight

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When I said goodbye to Dad for the last time, there’s one lesson I learnt – life is fleeting.

With the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, along with the many other lives lost each day around the globe, we are reminded to hug our loved ones.

Forgive quickly, love passionately, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too precious, too fragile, too fleeting to hold grudges, to love cautiously and to squander our days dreaming instead of doing.

Be willing to let go. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you…” you never know when it will be your last. See life for what it is, a gift. Live courageously. Laugh often (and loudly!) Spread joy. Be the untethered force of light that you are. There’s no need to live every day like it is your last… Choose instead, to live every day like it is your first… With a sense of childlike wonder, rapture and appreciation. Give thanks for the two gifts that you opened today – your eyes.

For today is another day you get to live.

In love & light,

Hayley xx

Be The Light

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There are some things in life we feel are simply unforgivable. So horrific, in fact, that we question: What kind of a God would allow this to happen? We question why a loving God would allow countries to be at war and people to die of hunger. But as Marianne Williamson reminds us: ‘Thirty-five thousand people a day die of hunger on earth, and there’s no dearth of food. The question is not, “What kind of a God would let children starve?” but rather, “What kind of people let children starve?”

So are we to direct our anger away from God and towards our fellow brothers and sisters instead? As purging as this may initially feel; to vent and blame and shake our fists at all the darkness we see in the world, will only add to the hatred and misery in it. As we express our rage we further mar our planet with our own discontent.

To penetrate the darkness, we must become the light. But what if the darkness is too overwhelming to bare? Then we must pray that we will find the courage to be the light amidst the darkness, and that others will find the strength to do the same.

A Course in Miracles states: Miracles are seen in light, and light and strength are one.

Our goal, therefore, is to illuminate our corner of the world, however small that corner may be. To shine our light on all with whom we meet so that they too, can feel safe to do the same. It is our light, not our darkness, that will make a change.

You may have heard the tale of The Little Soul in The Sun, by Neale Donald Walsch, the story of a little soul who announces to God: “I know who I am!”

God smiled and said: “Who are you?” To which the little soul replied; “I am Light.”

“Yes you are,” replied God.

But the little soul, living amongst others who also shone with the perfect brilliance of God’s light, felt like a candle in the sun. Amidst the beautiful light of which the little soul was a part of, it could not see or experience itself as it really was. The little soul yearned to experience itself as Light.

And so one day, witnessing the little soul’s yearnings, God suggested: “Little Soul, if you really want to see yourself as you really are, then you must call upon the darkness. You must separate yourself from the rest of the light so that you can experience yourself as light amidst the darkness.”

“What is Darkness?” the little soul enquired inquisitively.

“That which you are not,” replied God, and the soul understood.

And so the little soul did. It separated itself from the light and experienced all sorts of darkness. At it’s deepest despair it called out to God, “Father Father why hast thou forsaken me?”  poor_little_soul_

God replied, “I have not forsaken you. I stand by you always, ready to remind you of who you really are; ready, always ready, to call you home. Therefore, be a light unto the darkness and curse it not. And forget not who you are in the moment of your encirclement by that which you are not.”

Little Soul in the Sun is a timeless parable which serves to reminds us that without darkness, there can be no light; without fear, we could never know love; without up, we could never experience down.

Let us not forget ourselves amidst the darkness, and may we always remember that we are the light.

In love and light,

Hayley xx

Open Hearts

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There are times when our hearts become closed. Just like tender skin that has come into contact with a hot stove; we contract and recoil from the pain. Our body’s defence mechanisms are designed to protect us from further discomfort; if we fail to withdraw, we risk severe burns, or worse still – death. Our natural reaction, therefore, is to retreat.

But what happens when we remain constricted, when we close our hearts through fear of ‘getting burnt’? When we build a wall of protection around us, we cut off the natural flow of love. Not only do we prevent ourselves from giving love, but we also restrict our ability to receive love. What is called for is not complete constriction, but caution; which is simply another word for ‘attention’, or ‘awareness’.

Just as the stove does not purposely set out to burn our skin, it is not usually another’s intent to inflict harm upon us (with the rare exception under extreme circumstances, of course). But more often than not, we get hurt because there was some degree of carelessness involved. Our own carelessness or that of another. Maybe the heat was turned too high and the pot had reached boiling point? Could it be that we rushed in impatiently, or approached at the wrong angle? Maybe we neglected the stove completely and a fire broke lose? Whatever our reasons for getting burnt, regardless of who was to blame, the affects need not result in the permanent closing down of our kitchens. And the same is true of our hearts.

When we remain open, we choose expansion over constriction. The doors are set ajar for love to drift through once more, filling our hearts with the sweet aroma and comfort of joy. To close our hearts is to take a pillow to our souls and smother our very essence. At the core we are love. And to restrict that life force within us is a slow death for fettered hearts. That is not to say that if you are dealing with a hazardous or faulty stove that you shouldn’t replace it, because your safety and wellbeing is paramount. But what I am saying, is that there is no need to stop cooking, to stop loving, to shut up shop and starve.

It is ok to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We need only exercise more care and attention, that’s all. But what if I am hopeless in the kitchen? – you may ask. As a child raised on boxed food and packet noodles in working class Tameside, I reply: cooking takes practice and patience. We don’t always get it right. Sometimes it leaves our kitchens in complete disarray, or an unpleasant taste in our mouths which can linger –  but when we do manage to create something wonderful, nothing compares to the pleasure and comfort of a sumptuous home cooked meal, prepared with tender loving care.

Those are the ones that warm our hearts, soothe our souls and ‘light the whole sky.’ That, my Dear, is a love that tastes simply divine.

Forgive. And dance.

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So many of us struggle to let go of grievances; she did this; he said that; she didn’t do this; he failed to say that. We hold grudges, turning a blind eye to the affects our deep-rooted resentments have on our lives and the lives of those around us. We justify our unhappiness and hold others accountable for the way we feel; if only he’d change, if only she hadn’t treated me that way, if only my circumstances were different – then my life would be so much happier. But when we view life through the lens of non-forgiveness – we give our power away. We become powerless.

Here, I tell the true story of a brave woman named Satta Joe; a story of immense courage and forgiveness. Satta lived in Sierra Leone during the civil war, a time of great upheaval and uncertainty. When the rebels attacked Satta’s village, she became the victim of gang rape. Her husband was shot dead and her seven year old son slaughtered before her very eyes. Curled up in a broken heap on the floor with her newborn child, Satta was left for dead.sattajoe

The man who had led the attack was Nyuma Saffa, a blood relative of Satta’s who had once tried to force his love upon her. Fueled by his grievance over Satta’s rejection and by his new allegiance to the rebels, he unleashed his attack upon Satta and her family.

Once the civil war had ended, the rebels returned to live in the village. Satta recalls feeling powerless: This was very hard for me, but what was I to do?  And that’s when Fambul Tok (Family Talk) arrived, a community led reconciliation program. They called for a meeting in the village and asked for those who had experienced suffering during the war to speak up. Satta bravely stepped forward and told her story. Fambul Tok then asked that Nyuma Saffa come forward to admit his crimes against Satta and her family. Finally, he confessed.

As part of the reconciliation ritual, Satta and Nyuma were asked to dance together as a way of forgiving the past. Understandably, Satta refused. She couldn’t bear the thought of holding Nyuma’s hands – the same hands that had raped her and killed her family. Though, after much encouragement – she bravely accepted. Satta states: As I took his hand I was sobbing, not out of despair but a sense of relief that perhaps now we could move on from this terrible pain in our past. I didn’t expect it, but they succeeded in making peace between us.

Satta Joe is one of many heroic people who, under horrific and seemingly unforgivable circumstances, have chosen the path of peace.

Forgiveness does not mean that what the other person did was ok. Forgiveness is choosing to shift our focus from one of pain, to peace. We forgive because we want to feel good. And holding onto resentment prevents us from feeling any peace within ourselves. It prevents us from moving forward.

If Satta Joe can forgive this man for inflicting terrible crimes against her and her family; if she can choose peace over pain and sorrow; forgiveness over bitterness and revenge – then isn’t it time we all cleared the floor and danced?

A Letter to My Younger Self

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Dear Hayley,

It’s me, Hayley. Your future you. I wanted to write to you because, well, I guess there are some things you don’t know yet that I think may help you along the way. Let’s begin at the start shall we?

See that photo? That’s you on the day you were born, all red faced and new in your Dad’s arms. In years to come, when he is gone (don’t panic – you have nineteen more years together before that happens…), you will look at this photo a lot; at the way his hands, which are almost as big as your body, are holding you tight in case he drops you. You’ll wish you could remember being held as you look longingly at the presence of you both together. Don’t worry – see how Dad is looking down on you even though your eyes are closed tight? Your eyes do open eventually… And when they do, you can see the bigger picture. Although there are many years of feeling bereft, in time, you do heal. So don’t fret little one – he’s with you now, just enjoy the warmth of his embrace.

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This is your first birthday. (Healthy right?) This is pretty much your diet growing up as a kid. In fact, you’ll eat nothing but white stodgy stuff right up until the age of about eighteen. It’s surprising you don’t resemble a loaf of bread really! (And by the way, you go through a really weird phase of eating nothing but instant noodles and meatballs.) But fear not, after much trial and error you finally discover the beauty of fresh ingredients, and by the time you are thirty one, you are eating a diet rich in wholefoods – you’re even eating organic! (I know – madness right?) But I just want you to know that you’ll be ok and that miraculously, you manage to avoid any fillings or cavities despite the copious amounts of fizzy pop you’ll consume far into your late teens. In fact, you haven’t drunk a drop of sugary beverage for the last seven years! Can you believe it? I still don’t know how you manage to survive not drinking a drop of water until you turn eighteen??? But you do. And now you can’t get enough of the stuff!

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This is your first school photo. I don’t know how it became all speckled like that, but it looks as though you have a terrible case of the measles. Behind your smile is a frightened little girl. This is the year you first witnessed Dad have an epileptic fit and it’s made you very fearful. You’re scared of the dark, of sleeping on your own, you still wet the bed and you’re even scared of your soft cuddly toys because you think they come to life at night! You hallucinate quite a bit and have scary dreams too… But I’m here to tell you that everything will be alright. I know it makes you sad when Mum won’t let you sleep in her bed; I know you lie awake all night in terror that something will eat you… But I promise that you won’t get killed by the freaky looking pot doll Mum bought you, and you don’t need to long jump into your bed in case an arm pops out from beneath it to grab your ankles and swallow you up! You are totally safe. And yes, there will be times in your teens, shortly after Dad dies, that you begin to have nightmares again. In fact, you will experience a year of terrible insomnia, but you get through it and, although you are still a light sleeper, you now have a healthy sleep routine. You’re even brave enough to walk to the toilet in the dark! (I won’t lie, your heart does beat a little fast as you do) – but the affirmations you say whilst tip-toeing down the hallway help! I am safe. I am protected. All is well…  And all is well!

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Heyyyyy twenty year old you! Don’t you look fresh? But behind that smile is a sadness so great I can almost feel it rendering me paralysed again now… In fact – here is another shot taken whilst you were off guard, and it reveals the true emptiness behind your eyes and your smile.

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You are numb. You are confused and your heart is heavy. You are also smoking a lot (thank God you’ve stopped that filthy habit) and drinking to numb the pain. Recreational drugs are taking their toll on your relationships and your job. You feel as though life is grim and grey and it is. You have recently lost your gentle giant, and Dad’s absence weighs heavily on your heart. Why pretend you are happy when you are not? It’s ok to feel grief, it’s ok to feel pain – just roll with it, everything is in divine order. I want you to know that things do improve. You have a few more years of losing yourself in drugs and alcohol, and unhealthy relationships. So if I could give you any advice right now, it would be to stop putting on a brave face. Stop worrying that your grief will effect others. This stuffing down of your emotions is causing you to turn to external ‘pleasures’ and false sensory highs. You needn’t numb the feelings. It’s ok to allow them to just be. I know you feel lost, I know you feel lonely and misunderstood, but this, in time, will pass.

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And this? This is me (you) now. (Well – actually that photo was taken last year in Paris) but still! – this is you at thirty one! Not as bad as you thought eh? How could you ever think thirty was old?

So a little of your life now…You are learning to love yourself. In fact, most days you look in the mirror and say, I love you Hayley. And guess what? You actually mean it! Some days it’s harder than others, but deep down you know that at your very core you are love. You have replaced drugs and alcohol with yoga and meditation. You love to spend time in nature (just as you did when you were little.) And you are a teacher too! You love working with children and seeing the world through their eyes. In fact, it has reminded you of the importance of embracing your own inner child and to follow your childhood dreams of becoming an author (just like Roald Dahl! Remember?) You write again and feel so much joy when you do. You have neglected your passion for drawing and sketching – but we can look for an art class here in Melbourne if you like?! (Oh yes – you now live in Australia!) And behind that lens is your best friend and man of six years, Mark.

It’s been a journey of self-discovery, of learning to love and be loved. But do you know what? You finally feel joy again. You have a deep and profound gratitude for life. You’ve discovered your true nature, your authentic self, and with that comes a knowing far greater than ever imagined – a knowledge that you are whole, connected, one – despite being imperfectly you. Dad is in your heart, you are in his, and that, my dear child, will never change.

Love always,

Hayley xx

Self Hate

I came across this talented writer today and felt compelled to share her breathtakingly beautiful poem. It speaks to the heart and reinforces the power and unique beauty of each and every one of us. A beauty that sadly, so many of us forget.

With so much media and airbrushing and ‘ideals’ – Dainty M’s poem reminds us of the importance of loving ourselves; accepting ourselves. For we are all children of God and created perfectly in His vision.

Thank you Dainty M for this wonderful piece written from the heart.

xx

Dainty M

I hate my body, she said, 

And my heart sank

Because clearly she didn’t think I did a good job creating her 

She began to pull chunks of flesh that I had so intricately formed 

She pointed at spots that I had used to punctuate her perfect skin 

 

I hate my body, he said 

As he used his skin as a canvass for artwork 

Soon enough it was hard to tell his skin tone 

As all I could see were tattoos carved on the skin I had taken so much time to form 

 

I hate my body she said 

As she cut herself up 

Absorbing all the drugs she could 

Just to take her mind off her hurt and insecurities 

 

I hate how I look! He yelled 

Abusing substance more than one could imagine 

Getting so high 

Surely he was about to fall 

 

Why did you…

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