I Love You Because…


It’s been 12 years today since my bear hugs were taken away… There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to capture how greatly you are missed. But on this day I’d like to remind you of how much you are loved…

Dad, I love you because…

…you would walk us around on your feet as little girls.

…you would shine a spotlight on us as we danced around the living room.

…you never complained about your stroke or your epilepsy, even though the seizures frightened you.

…you made us smile and laugh daily with your unpredictable humour.

…you were the most selfless human being I’ve ever met and would spend your last £5 on chocolate raisins, Beano magazines and Matchbox cars for us.

…you lived with 3 feisty females and never lashed out physically or verbally once – you’d always walk away when angry.

…you gave the best bear hugs ever.

…you cared and worried about our safety.

…you surprised us with cups of teas and Garfield The Cat inspired butties in the mornings and always made them with a smile.

…you weren’t afraid to show your emotions.

Because of a million other reasons I never had the chance to say to you – but mostly, because you’re my Dad…

My love for you is infinitely endless. I love and miss you so so much. Thank you for being my guide.

Loving you always – forgetting you never 💙 xx

Keep Going

half-the-distance-you-are-capable-of

Never underestimate yourself. For your strength and resilience are far greater than you could ever imagine.

You haven’t survived for as long as you have, nor have you journeyed as far as you’ve come, only to quit now. When you feel like giving up, when your heart is too heavy to carry, your feet to weary to walk, your words too silenced to talk – dig deep and remember who you are.

Remember the lessons you have learnt; the scars that you earned; the joy you outpoured; the grief you’ve endured; the tears that you shed; the love you have bled – remember it all. For this is the fuel that will drive you on with the utmost faith in your heart. Because ‘when you have gone so far that you cannot manage one more step, then you have gone just half the distance you are capable of.’

You are stronger than you know. So keep going.

In love & light,

Hayley xx

Gentle Strength

nothing-is-so-strong-as-gentleness-nothing-a-gentle-as-real-strength
I believe it takes a strong person to be gentle. There is a benign strength that exists in the tenderhearted.

I am forever grateful to have been blessed with a compassionate father figure. However brief our time together was, the lessons and blessings remain infinitely eternal. He was known as our gentle giant. All six foot two inches of him was benevolent and kind. Despite living with epilepsy, and four feisty females, he never once wavered from love and compassion. Dad’s inner strength has remained a guiding light for right action in my own life. I don’t always get it right, but I certainly do try.

Where and when can we practice gentleness in our own lives? One of my favourite quotes by the Dalai Lama states:

‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’

It takes strength and courage to choose kindness; to be humble when faced with adversity; to consider the needs of others when our own are not being met, and to be vulnerable when our hearts are on the line. But when we are guided by the part of us that is honest, good-natured and true, we remind others that it is safe to do the same.

Today, find the strength to be gentle. May our thoughts be forgiving and merciful, may our words inspire and uplift, and may our actions show compassion and empathy in all circumstances – towards others as well as ourselves. Because ‘nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing so gentle as real strength.’

In love & light,

Hayley xx

5 Simple Steps Towards Letting Go

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I have just hit ‘publish’ on my latest post: ‘5 Simple Steps Towards Letting Go.’ If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, job or relationship, then check out the link here.

I hope the tips I share ease your pain somewhat and provide you with some comfort.

In love & light,
Hayley xx

Let There Be Love

love-knows-not-its-own-depths

As we approach the close of 2016, we reach a stage when self-reflection is inevitable, especially if we are to live a life of purpose and peaceful fulfillment.  And we can start with the essential vibe of love.

Have we loved enough; ourselves as well as others? Who have we taken for granted? Are there any unhealed hurts left unresolved? Is there someone we have neglected or forgotten to express our love and appreciation for? Let us not be idle in thinking that they already know.

When I lost my Dad without warning, there were a million things left unsaid. Expressions of love and gratitude I assumed he knew and never had the chance to say to him. Don’t let yourself be that person who only knows the depth of your love at the hour of separation.

Here’s my wish for myself and you in 2017… Let us express more love; may we appreciate those we often take for granted; let us forgive easily and love passionately; may we live a life free from regrets; may love flow easily and often.

In love and light,

Hayley xx

Forgive. And dance.

forgive-others-because-you-deserve-peace

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?

From the Inside Out

My inner peace is the best gift I can give to myself and the people around me.

– Louise Hay

Doing the inner work…

…is rarely easy. But is always necessary.
It can bring us to the depths of our knees whilst lifting us to heights which before, seemed impossible.

Doing the inner work…

…enables us to come to know ourselves, wholly, fully.
It relieves us of those burdensome traits which no longer serve.

Doing the inner work…

…reveals that which is true and that which is false.
It requires for us to stare fear in the face; to acknowledge it, to dance with it, to see it for what it is – an excuse to play small. Only then can we embrace it, love it, even, and dissolve it with our truth.

Doing the inner work…

…is messy. But always worth it.
It is wading through all of the humility, anguish, vulnerability, ugliness, defensive grasping and denial; only to emerge light and humble and free.

Doing the inner work…

…makes visible the dirt.
It opens our eyes to see, and clear it away – bringing space and clarity.

Doing the inner work…

…is rarely easy. But is always necessary.

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.

23

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!

Hayley - film (5)

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.

Hayley - film (2)

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.

hayley-paris

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

Finding My (Self)


be-still-and-no-that-i-am-god

Last week I identified my early disconnection from God, tracing it back to my childhood. I wasn’t raised a Christian, and even now – with a deep and profound knowing of Gods existence – if asked if I am religious, I would admit that I am not.

For me, God is non-denominational. Whilst I am respectful and accepting of everyone’s individual faith, my personal pathway to God takes place in daily communion with the soul; in my interactions with others; during prayer and meditation; when facing adversity and personal growth lessons; whilst walking in nature – God is everywhere, and I know that I can make conscious contact with Him any time, any place.

That’s not to say that I don’t take great comfort in God’s scriptures, because I do (especially the one above, which reminds me that the pathway to God is through peaceful awareness.) I own a beautiful Bible in my favourite shade of jade green and often find passages that speak to my soul. Yet, for me personally, God is not defined by religion and churches and rules, but instead, through connection. God is not a separate entity with judgements and commandments, rather, God is the Source of all being. I am God. You are God. We are all God. Therefore, to reject God is to reject a part of ourselves. How should we ever become whole and complete if we are rejecting our very essence? Our true nature?

At a yoga class, recently, an inquisitive girl who I’d just met asked me; Are you searching for something? I paused for a moment, then replied;
I used to be. I searched for a long time, years even. But then I realised – all I was searching for is already within me. 

And so today, after my walk – after pondering how to follow up my previous post about losing myself – I decided I would write a poem. For years I doubted the existence of God, I saw myself as separate, disconnected. If ever I doubt the existence of God – I need only Be Still And Know That I Am God. 

Be Still And Know That I Am God

When tears of lost dreams stream down your face,
When you are out of sorts and feel misplaced,
When all is forgotten, shamed or disgraced,
Be still and know that I Am God.

If ever you doubt the existence of me,
Cast your gaze to the gentle, sturdy tree,
Who sways His dance to the promising breeze;
Be still and know that I Am God.

When you feel as though I have let you down,
When all that was once yours cannot be found,
When tortured cries of empty souls resound,
Be still and know that I Am God.

Be still and know that I love you my Dear,
All that seems to be lost is truly here,
For you are never alone when I am near,
Be still and know that I Am God.

God's Saving Hand reaching for the faithful

Deep Holes In The Sidewalks

 

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Dear Dad,

Today I received a parking fine for $150. I hesitated when parking in that area, the sign was new to me and I was unclear of its meaning. I ignored the feeling of hesitancy I felt when exiting my vehicle. I was gone from my car for less than 10 minutes, and returned to find the parking ticket waving at me from my windscreen. My heart sank. It was the most expensive avocado and banana I’d ever bought. Normally in this situation, I would feel the anger rising. Thoughts of ‘Why me?’ surfacing. …but not this time. For I have been here before. The victim. The blamer. I know why I received this ticket.

Just the night before I had found myself in a familiar hole. Money worries, feelings of lack when I discovered that my work hours had been reduced from four days a week to just two. We haven’t had as many schools book our programs next term and I’d felt a worry over the drop in income. Scarcity thoughts crept in and I reacted from a place of low vibration, arguing with my partner and succumbing to the ego in me. My parking ticket was a confirmation of my scarcity thinking, mirroring back to me my false feelings of ‘lack.’

Looking down at my ticket, I sighed and resolved to step out of my familiar hole. Crying over it would only exasperate my situation, bring about more of the same circumstances.

Father, thank you for the sign. For the reminder to walk a different path. I am grateful for the extra time to myself next term, for the extra days you have provided so that I may attend to a project dear to my heart. The freedom from lesson planning is something to be thankful for as I throw myself into other avenues with great passion. And of course, two days of work are always better than none.

Love  always,

Hayley xx

***

Dear Child,

Sometimes situations will arrive at your door in unforeseen and distressing ways. You may feel as though the world is against you, that life is unfair and this shouldn’t be happening. In each heartache there lies an opportunity for spiritual growth. Are you prolonging unhealthy habits that are holding you back on your path to freedom? How about stagnant thought patterns that are creating equally stagnant circumstances? Is there an element of your own undoing that you have been refusing to see? Blame, excuses, feeling angry and victimised…we’ve all been there. But those feelings no longer serve us.  Nor does the outward search for refuge and answers. The answers lie here within. Be still.

Let us open our eyes and our hearts so that we may hear the answers to our prayers – for the solution to all sorrow lies in communion with the soul, with God. Instead of proclaiming ‘This isn’t fair!’ – may we have the strength to ask, ‘How may I grow from this? How may I serve?’

There are no accidents in this world. The world is ever changing, ever evolving, all knowing and divinely timed. When you accept that this is so, when you trust in life and trust that life is preparing you for your purpose – you can smile in the face of life’s hurdles, for they are your greatest teachers. Be safe in the knowledge, that in time – all will be well.

In love and light,

Your Father.

If you too have found yourself stuck in a hole, may Portia Nelson’s Poem – There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk, bring comfort as she reminds us that it is we who hold the key to end all suffering.

There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk

Chapter One
I walk down the street,
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk,
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless,
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find my way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street,
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk,
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street,
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit …but,
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

by Portia Nelson.

Let us be kind to ourselves as we navigate life’s sidewalks, may we pick ourselves up out of those deep holes, and choose another path.