On navigating the triggers of parenting...


(My latest blog has been featured on the Women's Network. I'm super excited to be included as one of their storytellers! Click on the READ MORE link below for the entire story). It has taken me a while to accept that life is a journey of ups and downs. Mainly because I hate being down. But whilst I would love to feel eternally connected, centred and serene, I have come to appreciate that the triggers that cause the downs in life, are actually gifts. I have learnt to see them as opportunities to restore the spiritual imbalance which is presenting itself for attention (when I am willing, that is).

Somehow though, these potential lessons always seem to catch me unawares, despite being the parent of three small kids who provide me with perfect trigger-fodder on an almost daily basis. After all, they know exactly which buttons to press, they don’t ever let up, and I’m kind of stuck with them.

Last week was a particularly bad example. I’d had enough of being greeted at the school gate with a sulk. I was really fed up with restoring the living room to its normal state after daily ‘den-building’ exercises and I was finding them particularly boisterous, demanding and ungrateful. I was also premenstrual. And as a rule, the more stressed I am, the less present I am as a parent, so I was not being particularly patient, kind nor nurturing. Which made me feel even worse.


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On clearing and cleansing...


I have been working for a while now on feeling “enough”: that I am indeed enough, just as I am, in all my glorious imperfection. Sometimes I get it and feel pretty invincible. Other times I lapse into believing the myth of fragmentation – that I can only feel whole with the input from someone or something else; a myth that is dangerously comforting in its familiarity. And whilst signing up for a My Word Goddess Reading for 2017, I thought I’d take another look at this year’s. Last December, I was introduced to the Goddess ISIS. My word for the year was REMEMBER. Both were incredibly on point. Because, just as Isis is famous for, over the course of 2016 I have been re-membering my true self as well as remembering who I was always meant to be. The year has been about subtraction, about shedding the falsely acquired beliefs and habits to unearth the divine blue print beneath.

Not only does Isis tell us that we were never broken, that we have always been perfect and whole, but she also embodies the empowered feminine and the capacity to feel deeply. She therefore reminds us to acknowledge and accept the depth of our emotions. She also shows us how to create the life we desire rather than simply opposing what we don’t like – she creates as well as renews.

So yesterday when I woke up feeling I had had enough of not feeling enough and that it was perhaps exactly this comforting familiarity which was preventing me from moving on, I decided to channel my goddess, Isis, and to take action. To ‘feel deeply’ and to acknowledge and accept my emotions by finally giving a voice to my mind gremlins. This is something I find very hard to do. So I indulged them, and wrote out one big, fat list of “I am not…..enough”. It pretty much extended into every aspect of my life: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical. It wasn’t pretty reading. But the exercise felt perversely good – I was clearing out the mistaken beliefs, releasing them from my head, consciously disowning them.

Next I wrote out the exact opposite (with a little heart after each for good measure). Again I took the lead from Isis, creating what I want in life rather than just opposing what I don’t like. And to seal out the crap and draw in the good, I did some EFT or ‘tapping’. (This is a new tool to me which I was introduced to by the Law of Attraction guru, Natalie Jenkins. As I recently learnt on one of her online courses, it can be used both to release and clear mistaken beliefs, as well as to assist in manifesting affirmations. I did both.)

The universe was clearly working in harmony with me yesterday because the focus for that afternoon’s restorative yoga class was clearing and cleaning out anything that no longer served us. And that night? The almightiest rainstorm I have ever witnessed! A spectacular light and sound show that lasted for about four hours, wiping out all of the power in the house and vicinity as though commanding us to watch, enthralled and humbled.

Drawn to its magnificent energy - watching didn't feel like enough - I had a sudden urge to get in it, to be at one with this natural and cleansing spectacle. So I stripped off and stood under the heavens with hands raised upwards to receive and legs rooted in the shallow pool that used to be the lawn. I allowed myself to be soaked and purified by the incredible downpour; I roared in harmony with the thunder as the trees around me bent forwards in submission to the mighty power of the storm. It was AWESOME.

And the best thing of all? My two girls, aged 7 and 5, came to join me. Well after their official bedtime. Here we were, three naked humans in the dark, in the howling wind and torrential rain, unleashing and merging our feminine voices in response to the thunderous masculine. We shared our natural wildness in a moment of pure, uninhibited joy, communing with the tremendous forces of Gaia.

It is the unbridled and serendipitous moments like this one that remind me that clearing blockages doesn’t always have to be laboured. When you've done the hard work, then comes the fun. I’m so glad I indulged myself and allowed the girls to join in. It was a rare, spontaneous bonding experience that none of us will forget in a hurry.

And just in case yesterday’s monumental efforts of journalling, affirmations, EFT, yoga and a family rain dance didn’t do the trick, I have consciously chosen to release the notion of unworthiness from my life this December. To let go of lack and of the sense of not being enough. After all, they’ve had more than their piece of the pie. It’s time to move on. Next year is about feeling WHOLE, PERFECT, ENOUGH.

And so I turn to YOU - if you had something you wanted to release, what would it be? What have you had enough of? What sentiment is no longer serving you? How can you move one step closer to being the best possible version of yourself?

With the Solstice taking place in the Northern hemisphere tomorrow and Xmas and New Year round the corner, now is the time to start preparing to let go of mistaken beliefs, those that are no longer yours to carry. Being witnessed in your intent only magnifies it, so go on, please join me in conscious transitioning into 2017, and share what it is that you want to release in the comments below. Let’s make this end of year a powerful one! You owe it to yourself…

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Art by Christian Schloe

On sharing the love...


Today I had to go to two different banks to change our address, and then to the post office in order to get our mail redirected during our year abroad. I had to bring the three kids with me. Not exactly fun on a hot, sunny day but it had to be done. The to-do list just couldn’t be put off any longer. The only post office that does this is the main one in the centre of town which has big queues and is full of people with not much room to move around. You know the kind where you need to take a ticket with your number on so that you know when it is your turn. The hot and stuffy kind that you really don’t want to be going any where near during the school holidays when accompanied by small people.

And, on cue, as soon as we got there all three started climbing all over one of the clusters of red cushioned seats and all over each other. The just 3 year old inadvertently kicked a woman twice whilst attempting a forward roll from one side to the other. I went bright red and resorted to my best 'stage whisper' to tell them to get down IMMEDIATELY (that voice you use when you want to show your disapproval but can’t shout because you are in public and the room is otherwise silent).

As an alternative form of amusement, they then turned to “welcoming” people into the building by standing on the pavement outside, right next to the busy road and bus stop. They kept being ushered back in by the man on duty who was clearly terrified they would either get abducted or run over on his watch. He kept looking over at me with a fixed smile and raised eyebrows as though to ask me to keep an eye on them. I kept smiling and shrugging at him in an attempt at miming my response of gratitude/powerlessness to move or do anything differently.

I was actually half pretending that the kids weren’t mine (my new parenting rule is that anything goes as long as they are not fighting), as well as half arguing with the post office lady that my council tax bill definitely WAS as good a proof of address as a utility bill, when an old lady tapped me on my shoulder. “I just wanted to say that your children.....” I held my breath in a mixture of fear and apprehension... “look so happy and healthy. You can see that they are really well looked after.” Gosh! I was bowled over. And in true English style, unable to take a compliment without belittling it somehow - why DO I do that? - I responded that they had actually just been clambering all over the chairs so they weren’t actually that good but she responded “yes, but they took their shoes off first in order to do so. That shows how thoughtful they are.” She continued “I am 83 and I have seen lots of children in my life and yours are some of the sweetest. You can just tell how well looked after they are. It’s lovely to see”. I was speechless.

Later that morning I reflected that sometimes it takes an outsider to show you what is right in front of your nose. I so often focus on the potential discomfort their behaviour might cause others: the excess noise, the unwanted physical contact, the boisterousness, that I forget that others might not see it that way. They just see a bunch of great kids being kids. The overall picture is obvious to anyone on the outside: that I have three, healthy, beautiful children that ARE sweet, confident, thoughtful, intelligent, curious, friendly, affectionate and kind. And that hasn’t happened all by itself. It is thanks in part to me, their very own Bobomama. Which must surely be the definition of a job well done?

So this post is for all those mamas out there that get so caught up in the daily grind that they temporarily forget just how blessed they are: that their kids really are awesome and that that is mostly because they are doing a great job. Sometimes it takes a stranger to remind us of what we know deep down is true. My encounter with the kind old lady made my day. So I’m sharing some of that love and passing it on...

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On acknowledging the darkness within...


I recently held the last of my women’s circle workshops before we set off on our travels; the theme was self-worth. Every circle, I like to offer up a selection of Goddess cards as something fun before we start: I ask the attendees to pick the one whose image most resonates with them, and often it delivers an insightful message that is relevant to that particular moment. My choice was Lilith, the Middle-Eastern goddess of abundance, fertility and fecundity but also of death and transformation. Lilith “challenges us to look upon our dark side and incorporate it into our wholeness so that great beauty can blossom forth”. This goddess was particularly pertinent because I have been thinking a lot recently about my dark or 'shadow' side – the hidden bits of my character that lie behind the mask I choose to show others. I didn’t come across this willingly of course; as usual it was revealed to me by my children. After being the brunt of a particularly relentless run of bad attitude, rudeness and being ignored, plus countless futile attempts on my part to mediate between pointless bickering and them being horrible to one other, I had exploded. All because my middle one wouldn't finish her homework reading. It was the straw that broke the already very fractured camel's back. So far so normal. But this time it wasn't a normal explosion. It was an enormous one. So huge that it took me ages to recover physically and mentally because something felt very deeply wrong. So wrong that I had to go and create some time out to reflect upon and journal about what had happened. Why had I lost it so badly?

The answer was that it had become a power struggle. My middle child refusing to read had left me totally and utterly powerless. I felt out of control and wanted it back. So I did the only thing that an adult can do in these situations other than become physically violent: I resorted to a superior command of the English language. I manipulated my advantage into verbal abuse and said some really mean things. In a really mean voice. A hissing, nasty, vicious one. I was hurting and didn't like that feeling so I wanted to spread the load. I wanted her to hurt too.

And whilst journalling about all this, I realised that I was a bully. And even worse, I was a mother that had bullied her children. This realisation brought up a host of painful emotions: shame, regret, fear and grief. I was ashamed of myself as an adult: I should have known better, and I was ashamed of myself as a mother: I should have been the children's moral rock and instead I had behaved far worse than them. I regretted that I could not undo what I had said, and I feared that it might have scarred them permanently. I was also very sad: in trying so hard to be a ‘good’ mother, I had lost control and ended up being the very opposite.

I spent quite a while afterwards feeling really bad about myself: for being a totally rubbish mother and even worse, for not revealing it. Not because I wanted to hide the fact but because there is no real way to discuss these things: exactly how do you bring it up and with whom? There is the always the fear of moral outlaw and the lurking spectre of social services. Being a bad mother must be the world's biggest taboo - and I hated that no-one knew just how bad I was. I felt like a fraud.

And then I came across a brilliant passage in my current book, The Shaman’s Last Apprentice. He was describing the medicinal plant Ayahuasca as “a tool to help you find yourself, to know yourself, by destroying the image of who you think you are, and illuminating the truth.” This stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking about my recent outburst as an opportunity to face the person I AM rather than the person I thought I was. It wasn't easy.

We all hold an image of who we think we are. And this can often become confused with who we think we would like to be. We wear various masks to disguise the discrepancies and can get so good at denying those parts of ourselves that don’t fit the chosen ideal that we can almost get to a point where we feel they don’t exist. Until, that is, they are thrown up in our faces by an unconscious trigger. Being faced with the extent of my desire to cause hurt through emotional and verbal cruelty was a shock. Firstly because we are taught that it is not ‘nice’ to be cruel and secondly because it is hugely taboo to even bring up the fact that a mother might not follow the impossible archetype of forever-patient, forever-loving, forever-forgiving, nurturing and kind. But we are not robots. We are human. And humans express a range of emotions that are not always socially acceptable and don’t always conform to archetype.

But even if it isn't easy and is in fact deeply uncomfortable, it is crucially important to acknowledge the full extent of our personalities – our darkness AND our light - because this is what makes us unique. As the shaman of the book says later: “it takes discipline, and a strong and courageous person to accept who they are. Many people do not have the courage to see themselves, because they have unconsciously accepted the images and stereotypes created by society. They have forgotten to honour their unique potential, and particular strengths and weaknesses, fearing that deep part of themselves that we keep hidden from each other.”

Indeed, it is the fear of our dark side that keeps us from embracing it. But “if" as they say, "you don’t own your story, it owns you”. So I am working on owning the darkness within - the part of me that is cruel and vicious, manipulative and bullying - so that it doesn't erupt in me in the unconscious, uncontrollable way it did. I'm not sure I'm quite there yet. But since “trying to incorporate it into my wholeness” as the goddess Lilith encourages, I have felt less triggered by the same scenarios and have been able to act more like an adult and the mother archetype. I'm not sure I'm quite at the "great beauty can blossom forth" stage but my behaviour has actually been more patient, nurturing and kind.

The kids still trigger me of course. And I still shout. But I am getting there. And whenever I feel bad about myself I remember that we are all works-in-progress. And that, thankfully, children don’t hold a grudge.

What are the parts of you that you keep hidden from others? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. If this post resonated with you, please do share it with other social media and feel free to sign up to receive posts by e-mail by clicking subscribe! Don’t forget you can also follow me on facebook, twitterinstagram & bloglovin.

On listening to your dreams...


I used to think that my body was just a vehicle for my desires: my mind wanted to achieve certain things, my body executed them. It wasn’t until I was really ill last September with a recurring flu that would lay me out flat with a high temperature for about a week a month until February (yup – 6 whole months of it) that I realised the body is far more than a group of muscles at our mind’s beck and call. Our body is actually the messenger for the soul / heart. I always remember when I first heard the word disease pronounced DIS-EASE. It was a revelation. Of course! If we are not at ease with ourselves, this is manifested in the specific part of the body that can teach us most about it. Often, we only need to look at our particular symptoms to find out where we need to redress the balance. No surprises to most people that know me that mine would usually point to ‘letting go’. By working on this and each time seeing just how many levels this could be felt on (and also consciously "not working” – part of letting go is obviously not to force things), I have been amazed to see most of my symptoms literally disappear. (If you want to know more about this, check out the following list of symptoms based on Louise Hay’s incredible insights).

I am reading a book at the moment (the Shaman’s Last Apprentice, by Rebekah Shaman) about a Londoner that travels to the Amazon to meet the man she believes will become her teacher. When they discuss disease, he has the following words of wisdom for her:

“Disease comes when a person fails to listen to their calling. It is the spirit’s way of expressing that it is unhappy and in pain, and that it can no longer be ignored. We all have a guiding voice within that leads us through life. These guiding voices are our dreams, messages and visions. The need to make money stops people from following their dreams. Then people get sick. Illness empowers the spirit to be heard and to show the way to a more fulfilling life, for however long that is.”

I knew the bit about disease but I hadn’t ever clocked the other bit. The crucial bit! The bit about NOT getting sick. And that is to listen to and act upon your dreams, messages and visions. Much of the time we are too tied up in our mind chatter to hear it and too busy ‘being busy’ to take the time out to do so. We are also often fearful: scared of change and of letting go of our current creature comforts. But if we don’t listen to our own dreams, we end up following someone else’s. And that is just a waste. A waste of the unique spark of energy that fuels your specific blend of fabulousness. Which is destined for unique, fabulous things. If only we take the time to hear our hearts and give our dreams the respect we owe them by following them.

As soon as I read that particular paragraph a couple of days ago, I reflected on what my heart has been telling me for a long time, on my secret dream that I haven’t been following or believing in properly (even though I first heard it when I was about 8) because it seems too far-fetched and a bit silly and maybe a bit arrogant too. But I took the bull by the horns and booked, then and there (at a quarter to midnight) my first foundation course in classical shamanism taught by the author of another incredible book that shook my world.

I am beyond excited. It will either be a complete revelation and take me on a journey that I haven’t yet dared to embark upon, one that I wasn’t yet ready to take, or it will not resonate deeply and it will lead to something else that IS my true calling. Either way it is a step in the right direction. A step along the way of the heart.

So I took up the challenge. Now it's your turn! I dare you to join me: what is your secret desire / dream / vision? What small step will you take today, to help that come to fruition?

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with other social media! I’d love to keep sending you updates so feel free to sign up to receive posts by e-mail and click subscribe. Don’t forget you can also follow me on facebook, twitterinstagram & bloglovin.