Soul Whispers

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Too often we dismiss our ideas as ‘silly’ or ‘absurd’. We keep quiet or fail to take action for fear of getting it ‘wrong’ or looking stupid. However, those still voices of intuition are the whispers of our souls.

Today, listen to that small, still voice within, and trust it.

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?

The Changing of The Seasons

A photo by Autumn Mott. unsplash.com/photos/SPd9CSoWCkY

The first day of September, the beginning of a new season. And with every new season there comes change.

If you are in the Northern hemisphere, Autumn is upon you. A time when the trees begin to shed their outgrown leaves. A time when, you too, can turn over a new leaf. Despite this shedding of the past, the ground is decorated in rich reds, yellows, oranges and greens. The path before you is colourful. So take a walk. Breath in the crisp Autumn air as you step into this season of release. A season for laying new foundations.

If you are in the Southern hemisphere, today marks the first day of Spring. Spring is a time for growth and renewal, as you emerge from the season of hibernation. The days are becoming longer; flowers bloom and burst with colour; fresh pinks and yellows and blues. Consider the freshness of Spring. What life do you wish to breathe into this season of growth?  A season for new beginnings and expansion.

As sure as the tides ebb and flow, with every season there comes change.

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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.

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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.

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

Losing My (Self)

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There was once a time when I thought God was just a made up story, like Father Christmas, or the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny. Of course, there was also a time in my early childhood when I believed in all of the magic of the world; but by the age of eleven, when asked by my peers if I believed in God, I would respond with a firm: ‘No.’ A genuine disbelief? I’m not quite sure … A fear of being ridiculed? Most likely.

It wasn’t uncommon to be picked on for being different in our school. Those who grew up in the tough neighborhoods bullied the ‘posh kids’; the ‘posh kids’ looked down their noses at the ‘rough kids’. And if you came from the council estates like I did, but was raised with manners and respect – you were constantly pulled in both directions, your allegiance questioned at every opportunity. Social boxes became apparent from a very early age, and, although I was aware of the divide, I wasn’t quite sure where I fitted in.

Bullying would take place for all manner of reasons, verbal and physical; if you admitted to still believing in Santa, you were a ‘baby’; if you admitted to believing in God, you were a ‘bible basher’; if you didn’t have nice trainers, you were a ‘scruff’ or a ‘dosser’; if you did have nice trainers, someone would stomp on them with muddy feet and yell ‘Christened!’ (Kind of ironic really.)

As a result, much of my time at school was spent trying to keep a low profile and aligning myself with other kids smart enough to do the same. In doing so, however, it wasn’t long before I lost my sense of identity along with my ebbing belief in magic and miracles. By the time I reached the end of my primary years, the magic carpet had been swiftly pulled out from under my feet and I came crashing down upon the concrete floor of ‘reality’. There began my new life in secondary school, where things only went from bad to worse.

I was smoking by the end of my first year, drinking alcohol by the time I was fourteen and dabbling in recreational drugs by the age of fifteen. With the brief magic of childhood behind me, I took comfort in the false security of my peers. I was totally lost. And despite a continuing nagging that I was straying from all that I loved; books, Roald Dahl, drawing, Disney – I continued to follow the crowd throughout most of my teens.

If I did try to stay home – it wouldn’t be long before they would come knocking at my door, rarely taking ‘no’ for an answer. As an introvert, I had always struggled to say ‘no’ in case I offended someone – and my friends knew I was a push over, so off I’d go against my better judgement, dawning my hoody and trainers and joining them out on the cold, wet streets of Tameside, Manchester.

Mum would constantly tell me I was being led astray and that she didn’t like the person I was becoming. Whilst Mum was frank in her disapproval, she was not so forthcoming with solutions. I would resort to asking Mum to pretend I wasn’t home, but she soon tired of lying and eventually ran out of ideas of where she could pretend I was, especially since they came knocking daily. This would cause Mum and I to argue, her words felt like an attack and our relationship became more and more strained until eventually, those friends became my family and I was sleeping at their house more than my own.

Their parents were usually at the pub until late most nights. Feeling like rejects, we took solace in each others company. Despite the early exposure to the smoking and the drinking and the mayhem; we would make time to laugh, and sing and dance like the children we longed to still be – there was nothing that Spice Girls and Five couldn’t fix. Whilst we had no idea how to live, our bond had grown stronger and bound us together during those lonely days. As different as we appeared to be on the outside, at the core we wanted the same – love, belonging, understanding and connection.

***

By the time I was sixteen, my relationship with Mum was fairly beaten – I went to live with my Gran and stayed there for a year before moving to Spain with a friend and his family. All the while I felt separated from the world and my family – disconnected, lost. It never occurred to me that within, was a deep well of unconditional love that was just waiting to be accessed. Never once did I turn to God, to Source, for healing and guidance. I had forgotten myself – my true Self. There I was, wandering through life making unconscious decisions, partying too hard, living recklessly and failing to notice that whispering voice within. Is it any wonder, then, that God sent me a huge wake up call?

Are you able to pin point the moment when you began to feel separated? Disconnected? Have you managed to find connection again? Moreover, what do you do to sustain that feeling of Oneness?

To be continued…  (I promise – there is a light…)

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.