Give Me Your Bucket List



Give me your bucket list! demanded the mouse to the elephant. 
NO! she squealed as he passed an old crumpled note hidden in the depths of his trunk. Not the one of things to do before you die. The one for things to do before tomorrow. I need to see if it’s better than mine!

Old early C21 proverb


These are the thoughts on the state of affairs of our living that ran through my mind after an online chat with a friend this morning. She had posted an article about our relationship to time. The basis of its argument was that people, namely women, need more time, less clothes. The article didn’t do much for me and it was more what my friend had said herself about her value of time for which I shared my thinking, responding with these words;


Tragically, if we allow it, Old Father Time becomes the most precious commodity of all. And ironically, the current uber-phase of mindfulness, inviting our awareness in the present moment, is being commodified to the brink and, for me, this just seems to undo so much of what it can be greatly about. Time can’t truly be bought and it’s only when we step back enough from the pressure to do more, spend more, be more than ourselves, we can begin to experience time in abundance and learn it’s deepest value. This certainly can’t be sold to us but we do need to unpick our societal crushing of time to connect to it in this way. So hard when so much of our seeming value and worth we attribute to being all singing, all dancing human ‘doings’. I was just thinking, in a moment of lulling, maybe in some eyes ‘wasting my time’ (ha ha), sometime last week, as I listened to the church bells strike whatever time of day it was, for centuries this was the primary marker of time in our day-to-day ongoings. Something audible, visceral and something to embed within our daily rhythm. Forming a rhythm and life beat for us all of it’s own. I love to imagine and dream our relationship to urgency then. It would have been so far removed from what it is now. Ahhhhhhhh. So, are we vessels with time passing through us or is time just a vessel and we are passing through it?


She replied. She said this resonated with her very much and then asked what I thought of the article. Bugger, I thought to myself, to say in any depth what I thought about it would mean I need to re-read again though this time, actually take my time, rather than skim through at a rate of knots, so I can consider and properly engaged in a potentially juicy dialogue about a subject dear to my heart. Yes! Our ever evolving relationship to time.


This enquiry was the ground of The Fear of Falling; a project that explored what our relationship to time might have been like before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, looking at our connection with water and the process of making by hand as a means to question how significantly it has changed in the almost two last centuries.


Of course we cannot know this. How people experienced time then and over millennia passed. But, actually, maybe we can. And maybe we do. It has been an ongoing and crazy preoccupation of mine, one that has stayed with me as long as I can remember and feeds and nourishes my own relationship to this, our life.


We talk about our time on earth but, it would seem, this phrase of reference mostly refers to the personal. Spoken in context, our time on earth relates individually to yours and mine. How can we make the most of our time here on this planet, fleeting and as precious as it is, is a decision that lies predominately with the individual. Generally it is not a greater question. Sadly I believe.


So, channeling the White Rabbit this morning, as I enjoyed a rare child-free day to scoot around town and return school uniform items, dive in and out of the post office, run like the wind and make the most of each uninterrupted minute, I mulled and mulled again this question within my racing mind. And, how, I wondered, can I find the time to write today, pen and eschew these ramblings within the little window of preciousness that I have created?


Yes, how?


I drove home with a list in my mind; unpack, check son’s school shoes are OK to keep, grab lunch, book a train journey, cancel an appointment for next week, phone the campsite AND write a piece about time before I do my listening partnership in less than 90 minutes time…..




And I thought of this notion, the one I put to my friend this morning;


So, are we vessels with time passing through us or is time just a vessel and we are passing through it?


And I thought some more.


And then I ran through the list and ran through what was possible with this seemingly tight, tight time-frame.


Will I be able do all this?


No, I thought. Wisely.


Will I try do all of this?


Yes, I thought, knowing myself far too well.


Will a little voice squeak up, maybe C21 Mousey, and say I’m lazy if I don’t try?


Yes, I surmised.


Will I try get it all done whilst marveling at the gem of an idea that I am simply a vessel passing through infinity.


Yes. Yes. Yes.


Oh! How hard it is to jump off this bandwagon of doing, incessantly doing?


Time, you old marvel. You enrich us beyond our wildest dreams. We cannot commodify you. We cannot pick you up when it suits then abandon you when something more exciting comes our way. You wrap yourself from the first seeds to the farthest reaches and climb back again. Endlessly. You exist now. NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW.


I see your figure of eight. I see your DreamTime. I feel your DreamTime. I know this.


And I see the minutes on the clock nearing 2.30pm which means time to start my listening partnership with a dear wonder soul of a friend. To drop back into time beyond measurement. The most priceless gift of all.


Wouldn’t it be nice if her and I, you and me, our children and beyond, knew once more, the rythmn of the church bells chime, knew it in our collective cells? I ask again, what would our experience to time and this life, our life, be like then, my friend?


Do you know?


Image: Source unknown



Disappearing Before Being Seen



Sat on the stairs, I admitted I had broken my brother’s motorbike. My mother frequently used to declare, I can’t STAND liars!, so I thought I better fess up. Despite him pushing and pushing and pushing. Despite him winding me up something rotten. Like he always did. I thought I would be honest. Take the wrap. And, like usual, he got away with being the jester. I took her wrath.


Back in my bedroom, I felt enraged and guilty all at once. I believed I had done the honourable thing and told the truth. Pleased my mum. Ensured she could stand me. But was left with the familiar bubbling frustration and sense of powerlessness at my brother’s ploys. He knew I would take the bait. He knew I would try to bide his jibes then snap. And this time, the snapping was his toy. Usually I would try please her by ignoring him, as she so often suggested, but this time, I had had enough.


Last week truthfulness and my relationship to it hit home. A friend had unknowingly overstepped a mark. Something she had done triggered me to my core, igniting flames inside me so hard to hold.


She had, I felt, stepped over sacred ground and I was overwhelmed with a familiar fear and distrust of speaking to her and saying my piece. And it took me the days that followed to unravel the pieces.


I read years ago a few good lines on anger. If something gets to you, makes you mad, meets your edge, but passes within twenty minutes or so, it is likely the cause was external, fleeting. If however you find yourself later that day or in the days that come by next, still spewing, it is far more likely the incident has stirred something much deeper inside and relates not directly to that specific experience but is, in fact, a trigger to one of old.


And I have learned over the last while or so, how valid and important these stirrings are. Not to dwell and make embittered my soul even more. But to give space and time to these feelings. These stirrings are in fact incredible opportunities for learning and growth, they are a calling for integration, with pearls of insight and enrichment as they are met with love and compassion.


And so, with the ears of a beautiful spirit I spoke my burning pain the next day in a listening partnership. She magnificently holding the space as I outpoured my confusion and ensuing angst. It felt so freaking important to me to be able to speak to my friend and explain to her how I felt she’d trespassed over something innately precious to me but I needed the ears of love to help me first prise where was my stuff was, where was hers and where were my projections in amongst the whole bag of mud.


The listening partnership allowed me to voice my entanglement. It felt a brave step as the ears of those who I told also knows my friend. Knowing how to manage the boundaries I was conscious but also too, so raw and on fire I was aware core respect for another might falter in my inner-child’s I’m-on-red-alert outpouring. I was trying to be honest to myself but also to the one who I felt had trespassed, trying to delineate honour for us both, and it was exhausting trying to meet well.


Intentions. Intentions. Intentions.


Or maybe just an underlying age-old subservience…..




Then, a few days later, despite toxins flowing out of my system post listening partnership, despite a sense of relief having voiced my FUCK-I-DON’T-KNOW-HOW-THE-FUCK-TO-HANDLE-THIS-SHIT-ness, suddenly guilt swung by. Big time.


But Soph, you shouldn’t have said those things aloud. You showed how judgemental you are. How you haven’t got a fucking clue. You gave yourself away. Now your listening partner will see how critical you are. Now she will not want to be friends with you…..


A familiar voice, eh?


Yes, my inner-critic was back on the scene with a second swell, another layer of trying to quell what needed hearing. She was so insanely busy trying to stifle all these big unresolved feelings back in. Like squeezing a Jack-in-the-Box back into his metal tin.


And there was a moment, a well trodden moment, that I could have swallowed all this back down. I could feel the sensations throughout my body. The numbing down. The nausea. The oh so tight tension building. Tiredness…. Yes, the whole old familiar caboodle.


I’m not quite there yet in honouring my fire so completely. Not quite trusting enough to let rip. BUT I’m on this growing up cusp of sitting between both spaces. Observing my crazy need to pull it all back in, to disappear before being seen. And my question of what if?


What if this time I rebel? What if this time I let out the shit, the mess, the mud where water and earth meet and not care about how it is received? What if I prioritise my reception and acknowledgement of it and unpick my fear of another’s response?


But it is days since I have come to this. Days since the first wave of guilt arose since speaking my voice.


Thankfully, my inner-parent has been at hand. Thankfully she saw this sway of shame and wondered some more about it. And this is where the story really began.


Some stories, possibly the best, can only be heard over time. They take years to unfold. When the soul is ready and poised to meet the terror, the heartbreak and loss. When the yearning for justice has finally arrived home. When the birthing of a new path is starting to germinate.


Fear kept my story back. This familiar, bloody awful familiar, swallowing back down, in, deadening, tightening down. Because of fear. Because I put their feelings on a pedestal before my own.


The deep fire that ripped through me the other day was the same fire I see in our daughter when her sacred boundaries have been overstepped. I’m learning to truly honour and celebrate her here, despite how trivial, how irrelevant it might seem from the outside. I am learning to meet her and give to value her expression, despite how challenging it might be for me in those moments. Because I know the significance of her defences and I want her to be able to flex this so important muscle as she grows. Her core strength will be in this and I refuse to dampen the spirit and power of her glorious inner-warrior.


And with the beautiful mirror she holds for me, I am learning to validate my own fire when it explodes. The invalidation that I acquired as a child, undoubtedly passed down from generation to generation, I want to change. NO. More than this. I want to jettison it beyond the stars for it to be something of my ancestral past. Yes. PAST.


Yesterday, with kindling still alight from earlier in the week, I met my heartspace. Tell me, I asked, what is my direct experience in my heartspace right now? Repeatedly, as I lay on the bed, and enquired and watched the weather-system that is my heart.


My subconscious spoke and I fell in and out of a dream state, an altered one so to speak. I found myself at the site in which my friend had overstepped my mark, the energy of it still swirling it’s way through my system, and asked myself what I wanted to say to her.




Whoah! Fuck. This woke me up there and then. Fuck. Wholly fuck. These aren’t my words. Fuck.


And there I was, boom, bam, straight in my childhood and my servitude to my mother in all of this. She couldn’t stand them. Despite her, my dad, my brother and sister seeming to lie too frequently for me to remember. To be able to sit comfortably with.


As I write now, my jaw tightens. My throat constricts. My body contracts.


I see, I feel my mum’s wrath. I feel myself cowering, shoulders hunched, hands shooting up to protect my head. Dread flooding my being.


Punishment and guilt all at once.


And I realised yesterday, all too uncomfortably, my worshipping of ‘truth’ that grew as I tried to grow up. The ballast, on a sinking ship, I clung to being ‘truthful’. Fessing up about the motorbike. Feeling wholly uncomfortable, speaking anything other than my truth, lest I not get shouted down at. Or worse, trigger my mum’s own unbearable pain.


Fuck. Holy fuck.


Yesterday I sat with, or tried to, the charge of this truth. My adherence to someone else’s values because of them, not me. And how this became woven in into my existence.




How I realised yesterday, I expect this same truth-speaking of others. How my frightened inner-child is still ready to purge the world of liars for my mum.


To still be a good girl. To still serve at this alter. In the trembling foundations of my being.


And I saw yesterday how swallowed down all I wanted to say to my friend last week because I feared her response would be an ‘untruth’, so resonant to my family’s. And how my powerless to speak, and all the shudders this came with, was coz I inwardly, so deeply inwardly, I couldn’t stand a conversation based on lies, mine or hers.


Yes! Herein a new freedom was, is born.


Maybe Soph, I don’t need to adhere with such conviction to ‘truth’. And maybe others don’t either. Maybe I can let my guard down. Let down my mum. Let down her pain. Not carry her fury anymore. Despite the insanity she died two years ago this month. She’s dead Soph. Why are you still carrying her shit? Oh no, that’s right. It’s your shit now!


Yesterday, in the midst of this realisation and my struggle to acknowledge it as it came to light, I fired out at my husband and the kids, with a sense of volatility that reminded me of her. Inside this opening of insight, in it’s acute rawness, inside it’s own truth, I came so close to the bone of my mother’s terrified plight. Her own trauma that became mine too. I barked at the kids. I shouted at my husband. I didn’t want to hold this. I wanted to chuck it all back at them. Just as my mother had wanted to do with myself and my siblings. The difference, I believe, I didn’t want to hold this. She, I suspect, couldn’t.


Oh this weaving. Oh this unweaving.


My mother’s fire had filled me with fear. And to help distil her fire, I understood, whether rightly or wrongly, she wanted to cleanse the world of liars because their message was too unbearable for her. And, being a dutiful soul, I sought to help her with this.


It became my religion, this crippling law of perfection. Unbeknown to me. It became how I knew my ‘value’ in the world.




Oh. I will seek to honour my fire. I will seek to not veer and shy away because of the heat. I will seek to cherish it for the value it holds and elucidates. I will seek to greet it’s offerings of my own vital edge. Those deeply personable to the interior of my rich, abundant and wholly deserving landscape.


I will seek to honour our daughter’s fire. Our son’s too. And learn the wonders that lies beneath.


I will seek to honour yours. As well your magic.


If you see me today, I am on fire. Less from the gifts my friend’s ‘untruthfulness’ bestowed on me earlier this week. More from the truths I am currently sitting with.


Integration takes time. I believe on the other side, I will no longer reach to disappear before I have been witnessed. I will no longer cower as I unlock my true essence. My true value which can be as confused and as muddy as yours. I can step down from my own internal tower, knock down the protective walls of this outgrown righteousness adherence to ‘truth’, and dance in the unknown that is this joyous mess.


Image: Source unknown

An Invitation for You & I




It was a dark, wet, winter’s night last November, as I opened the car door and heard a dismissive, scrunched up gnarly voice inside my head. But they’re so much more grounded than you. So much more engaged than you. So much more real…. It trailed on.


I had just spent the previous two hours deep in enquiry with a group of ten or so others. It was Reality London, held monthly by Joanna Watters. Tell me, why are you here?… Tell me, why are you here? Tell me, what is your direct experience right now? Tell me, what is you direct experience in your heart space right now? Simple, intentful questions, asked in twos or threes. Hearts opened, met and witnessed. The kind of work I love.


But this was the second time that I’d left and noticed, after 120 minutes of rich fruitfulness, myself shutting down. Boom, bam, down. Critically undermining the experiences I had just had.




It left me pondering. Why do I feel a need to devalue my experience? Why do I feel a need to rate other’s experiences higher than mine?


What is all of this about? Alfie?


And so these observations continued. Observing the great many times I would swiftly demean my experience and too, I began to realise, my expression of my experience. Youch. It was a tricky one to sit with. But I sensed tangible and wholly vital value in exploring this, as yucky and as irksome as I would much have preferred not to.


And there it went again, just a couple of months ago, at Grow the Grown Ups. This haunting voice of dismissiveness. And I left the camp this year making a pledge to myself; to remember to daily invite greater value into my experiences. From moments big and small.


And it’s been a path I have been following since. Observing my immediate and often overwhelming desire to pull away. My inner-critic fervent to push me down. Keep me down. And applaud those around with a golly-gosh more amount of kudos of being.


Huh! Oh, inner-critic, hello! You, I know you. And I know, or have learned to know in this last year or so, how hugely you want to protect me. As contradictory as it sounds. I know, I taste the quality of your voice, the voice that is waiting, STILL WAITING, until all is safe for me to express, to come into this life. Hello!


You did good girl. You’re not a fiendish friend. You’re not evil or full of malice. You’ve just been waiting. On edge, most of the time. For that window of peace. Calm. Safety. You’ve just been waiting for the world to stop still and let only deep love come in. You funny old soul. Inner-critic, yes, hello.


And so, each time I have been still enough, feet on the ground enough, to hear her and not get carried away, I have paused and invited value instead. The in-flex, the u-turn of the corner, when my darling girl gets ready to push, pull and scream my experience down, I have waited.


I taste it now. Being screamed at, being laughed at. Being ignored. None of these frequent from my family, NO, all of these frequent responses from my family, ensured I kept IT ALL IN. Hell, yeah! Safer. Easier. Protected. Staying small. For others. How fucking, shitting exhausting. Still is.


Hello Value. Hello new friend. Hello space. Grace. Fluidity.




WOW. What a difference a year makes. What a difference. What a different quality.


I notice now the possibility of value in each breath. Yes. Every single inhalation and exhalation there is value.


I notice gratitude. Yes. Gratitude swimming in and out of each and every single breath. When I notice. Yes!


I notice expression. I notice the pulling away, the shying and the hiding of my expression. Hands, head and heart there with my inner-critic, still waiting, poised, hungry for safety. BUT, I notice the opportunity for value. Yes! Every single freaking expression, of breath, of heart, of voice, is just there waiting, full of deep, rich, abundant, funky-full expression.


And this my friends, you and I, with chimes ringing of this holding, this bloody awful culturally learned pulling in, putting down, acclaiming others more gravitas than us, maybe you more than me, I more than you…. Yes, you my friends, every single pulse of being, singing it’s way through your, our bones, shares this equal honouring of value.


Invite it now. Go on. Say hello!




After talking to a couple of friends over the course of a week a month or so ago, both of whom were slightly down in the dumps and in a fug about themselves, a few days later a thought popped into my mind; What if either of them didn’t exist? What if we took them out of the picture? What would it be like? And I knew the answer immediately . There would be two ginormous, fuck-off holes. Not just in my life but in all those around them.

I enquired too for myself. What would the world be like if I wasn’t here? Again, I knew the answer straight away. And with it I understood, deeply, my intrinsic value. And, of course, too of my two dear friends.

And it made me think of the picture of our universe. We all have our place. We all have our purpose of being. We all make up this immense tapestry, the crazy whirlwinds of incessant vibrations, whether you deem someone or yourself, bad or good. Judgements at this level are meaningless. We are here. We have purpose. Our breath, our heartbeats, unequivocally give rise to this.

Doubt is there for a reason. Often it is not our own. Try for a moment to remove yourself from the picture. Observe the outpouring that goes into to fill that void. It is this, this crazy momentous surge, that describes so voraciously your value and it’s mighty, immeasurable weight.

In the words of Leonard Cohen, and many beloved others, Hallelujah!


Image: Cinta Vidal






I’m so sorry I couldn’t hold you



I’m so sorry you’re so tired right now.

I’m so sorry you’re feeling so mad and so angry.

I’m so sorry you’re hurting.

I’m so sorry I can’t meet you where you want me to right now.


These are the words that started to pour from my mouth as our daughter, wailed, kicked and screamed. These are the words that started to pour when I found myself exhausted too and feeling unable in the moments to meet her clearly, or how I would have hoped to.


We were both shattered; physically and emotionally. Three days before we had been in London visiting friends. Not any old friends. These were beloved friends whom I have missed everyday since. These were friends whom included our daughter’s dear and darling ‘other half’; not quite inseparable but who shared a bond that left both her mother and I in awe and amazement at their connection, so mature in years for wee young folk, together. This was the person, our daughter’s friend, whom I cried so much for, whom I missed so much, when we first arrived in Devon. I missed seeing her every day, seeing her and my daughter skip with inane Cheshire grins on their face to playgroup each morning. I missed seeing her grow, something I have had the honour to witness since she was tiny. And most simply I missed her loveliness.


And, in the undercurrent of saying goodbye, just six months ago, I grieved something her and her mother represented to me. A deep, deep closeness that our daughter doesn’t share with any other adults other than ourselves. And taking her away from this, like lemon juice on a wound, my mourning of the disengagement and disregard from my family towards both of our beautiful children.


The phrasing had come to me after a session with wonderful Gulara Vincent on The Compassion Key. Earlier in the week I had received my third one with her, she holding me magnificently and indescribably capably as she does, journeying beside me through childhood pain and beaming, ‘I’m sorry’ into every crevice. Simple yet so very powerful, the combination of witnessing my childhood self and, with Gulara’s guidance, the light of compassion kissing, forthright and unapologetically, old wounds, created a magical stirring. And, of course, a healing.


After our daughter had calmed down yesterday, once we had resumed our groove, I could feel my guilt high towards the surface again. It had been surfacing A LOT since returning from our sojourn in London. Inwardly this time, new words started to cascade.


I’m so sorry I took you away from your beloved.

I’m so sorry she’s not in our lives right now.

I’m so sorry I can’t give you more right now.

I’m so sorry I’m struggling to be here for you right now.

I’m so sorry…..


The words kept falling through from back to the front of my mind, giving voice to the belly of guilt that had been rising since our trip.

Later that afternoon, driving alone in the car and hugely overwhelmed by the course of the day, and our week, I found myself with a timely moment to shout and howl, scream and outpour everything that had been building.


I’m so sorry my family have been so rubbish.

I’m so sorry they don’t care about you.

I’m so sorry they haven’t been here for you.

I’m so sorry they don’t love you.

I’m so sorry they don’t see you.

I’m so sorry they’re so locked in their own worlds they don’t want to spend time with you.

I’m so sorry I can’t make this happen for you.

You deserve more than this my child.

You deserve more than this!


I started to tap into a wider context and, as my guilt and sense of wretchedness at taking our daughter away from her friend was on fire, my anger towards my family, I begun to get under the skin of much of what this was about. A chasm had opened and I start to wail from my depths.


I’m so sorry I was hospitalised after you were born.

I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you.

I’m so sorry I couldn’t hold you.

I’m so sorry it wasn’t me looking after you.

I’m so sorry I had to abruptly stop breastfeeding.

I’m so sorry I didn’t trust myself to look after you when I came home.

I’m so sorry I put you into someone else’s arms because I didn’t feel mine were strong enough to hold you.

I’m so sorry I couldn’t resume breastfeeding.

I’m so sorry I couldn’t sleep with you in my arms at night.

I’m so sorry I struggled to be present with you.

I’m so sorry I abandoned you.

I’m so sorry my family didn’t hold me so I could hold you.

I’m so sorry we received so little support.

I’m so sorry no one helped us when the hospital thought you might be delivered at 30 odd weeks.

I’m so sorry I was so scared of losing you whilst you were growing, or as it was believed not, inside me that I found it hard connecting with you.

I’m so sorry no one from my family cares about you.

I’m so sorry they don’t see your shining light.

I’m so sorry.

I’m so, so sorry.

I’m so sorry my darling girl.

You deserved SO much more than this.


I was shocked by the gamut of what arose. My pain, my remorse and my bone-shattering, cell-drenching sadness. All still, despite fours years plus on, bubbling away underneath the surface. These words felt so pertinent, and sadly still so alive, to the deeply painful transition, born from circumstance, into mothering two children. And I knew as I spoke them, they were so pertinent, so relevant to myself as a young needing, and wholly deserving, child.


I was grateful this opportunity had arisen. These simple words, uncovering the mirror, enabling me to unashamedly hear and see my voice. The one that still weaves it’s way through my relationship, and it’s gaps, with our beautiful daughter. And the one I can now offer my wholehearted compassion to and learn greatly from by listening to it. I need to start holding the scared and exhausted mother of one, soon to be two, in my heart and honour her bravery and determination. I want to honour how fiercely she tried her very best for her two young children despite the walls falling down both inside and around her. I know the more warmth and understanding I show her, the more she can grow in where she has felt long stuck and begin to recognise, and shine, in her courage and soft, gentle heart.


I know too the words I spoke are of a greater conversation with the little girl inside of me, who is still calling to be seen and held in loving eyes and arms. And I know compassion, my compassion, is finally finding it’s way home to her beautiful, glorious soul.


To learn more about Gulara Vincent’s incredible work visit:


Image: John William Waterhouse





We all know a bully is a scared person, right?



Open mindedness

Open mindedness

Fucking Racist

Fucking Racist

Open mindedness

Open mindedness


Fucking Racist


You are so twisted

In your anger

So full of hate

Coz of his country of origin

The colour of her skin

So let down and hurting

You’re needing someone to take it out on

Someone to emotionally kick in

And so you thought you’d blame him


And you know you should love

Your fellow brethren

You know you should love them all

But that rage keeps burning and blistering

And you really find it hard listening

Coz no one ever listened to YOU


Open mindedness

Open mindedness

Guardian reading

Middle class liberal blindness


You’re fighting to unite

Fighting to keep on the good fight

But you know now, right?

YOU know this, surely you know this right?


Our comrades from other nations

There is no decree

For their skin colour, sexuality, ethnicity

Or the myriad of other physical manifestations

They are but yet another reason for celebration

Of our humanity, openness,

Shining love and kindness


But if you cross that line mate

If you choose to delineate

To call my friend

Shout her down,

Hoping in a hopeless bid to send her home

I will call you




And when I’m really angry

A Mother-Fucking Nazi


We know a bully is a scared person, right?


Open mindedness

Open mindedness

Compassion, love

And sweet loving kindness


You know mate, I am liberal

You know I embrace

But when it comes to you mister

I do well on hate


I want you to accept

I want you to be like me

Swimming in the delicious arms

Of succulent loving humanity

I forbid you to build walls

I forbid you to feel pain

You must reach your arms forward

You must be wise when you complain


But you’re not like me

You’re not morally superior

You’re not blessed with my privilege

And let’s face it,

You make me fucking angry


So I cast you out here

I sit you

On the other side of the wall

My compassion here

Finds it’s limits

My kindness starts to fall


You will be open-minded, just like me

But I warn you,

It is conditional


We all know a bully is a scared person. Right?


I wonder if I can see your pain

Your fear

Your heavy, exhausted heart

Whether the cage that you clasp

Around it so tightly, will let me peek through

Years of being pushed out

Pushed about

We don’t know whence this came

But I see your disenfranchisement

Your powerless

Your utter, utter sense of let down-ness

And a vengeful need to blame


Your weren’t born racist my friend

Unlike the skin born unto our brothers and sisters

Who you attribute your misery to

And I will stand by and defend

Each and everyone of them

My friend

As, I will by you


Open mindedness

Open mindedness

Breaking down the walls

In the hope

Love will come and find us


Your learned this my friend

From bullies bigger than thee

Using others for their greed

Seeking power at their ego’s need

Seeking power to rule and divide


I will not tolerate

The lies they perpetuate

Yet too I will not castigate

For the rawness of your feeling


And I won’t stigmatise

As you seek to do to others

Coz we’re bigger than this. Right?

I’m going to put down my armoury

Put down my moral fight

But I want you to take responsibility

Of this punishing mentality,

It’s unashamed brutality




I can’t change you

Until I change me

I can’t unite you and I,

Stand in solidarity

Until I untie me

From the division that serves others

Far, far too well

So this mother fucking

War on Terror

From 9/11 to yours and mine front door

No more!


Open mindedness

Open mindedness

Knocking down walls

Locked deep down inside us

Open mindedness

Open mindedness

I pray you will help come guide us


We all know a bully who was a scared person, right?

Please no longer lock her in a corner

We all know she’ll only come back

With a far bigger bite




Solstice, Swimming and some Juice



The solstice has brought many gifts this week.


A need to stop doing. Be still and rest.


A detox that made me vomit and upturned a HUGE insight from myself as a small baby, my mother cleaning food away and my relationship to eating.


A swim that spoke volumes.


These gifts have woven together connections, shifting understanding and appreciation.


Submergence is my way in. Here I experience myself inside out. Today, from still a tender tum from two nights ago, I felt my gut, so alive in the water. And then, BOOM! I realised my gut, it is not like the muscle I had likened it to. Not hard, firm, fixed, knowing.


Today I felt my gut as a joint. Working, operating, living. Supportive. Playful and inquisitive. Just as a joint.


One that needs movement, space and flexibility for its sustenance. Requiring the same juice, the same tenacity just as my knee joints, my elbow joints, my fingers and toes….


So alive. So dynamic.


And then I thought of trusting our guts. This has long been my modus operandi. To always come back to our gut. Take heed and listen.


But. It’s not as I imagined. It is not pre-programmed, so to speak. It’s doesn’t come with it’s innate set of designated personalised preferences as somewhere in the background of my mind I had more or less placed it.


No. It is Open. Responsive. And so friggin Alive.


I think mine has been quite asleep, hibernating a while.


Hello bowlful of juicy tensegrity.



Landing in Connection




Sometimes things take a while to sink in. Like a slow, steady drip, drip, drip. Then, BAM!, when it happens, it’s like a holy miracle and we forget, in that instance, everything that came before.


I first read about a child’s need for connection when our son had not long turned two years old. As an intuitive kind of parent, I had known about attachment from the oft but connection in this light was a new consideration for me.


Our son, at the time, was in an immensely provocative phase of biting other children and I read voraciously about everything and anything of what I could do to help him. Much information talked about time outs and other similar punishments, as a way to deal with the issue. I knew instinctively this hard edge was not the approach for neither he nor I. He was a wee toddler and I felt he was biting for a reason. I just didn’t know what that reason was.


And then I came across an article on the Hand in Hand website. Their explanation of seeming troublesome behaviours and techniques to help resolve them sounded far more up my street. Their theory is that children act out not to maliciously or manipulatively frustrate but because they are actually seeking connection and I understood the premise at once. It got under the skin of the struggle that I was experiencing in trying to stop him biting however, I took affront at the thought that our son wasn’t feeling connected. Jeez! I wanted to say to Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand founder and writer of the piece, Don’t you know he and I are SO connected! We co-sleep. He breastfed until he was 21 months. He and I have such a deep bond. How dare you suggest he might not be connected. Of course he is! My inner, sleep-deprived rant went on and my appreciation of what she was talking about was pretty slim.


Then, about a year later, I discovered Peaceful Parenting, a similar philosophy inspired by a woman called Genevieve Simperingman. Although the biting had stopped, our son was now finding sharing superbly difficult and, once again, I started to read avidly about strategies to help. Through Peaceful Parenting I discovered the, to some, radical idea about not forcing children to share and instead offering them the chance to complete their turn in their own time frame before handing a toy, go on a slide, ride on a swing, onto another child. Bingo! I really got this and too a whole stream of thinking that Peaceful Parenting encourages.


It’s been an incredible road from those days to today. An incredible road of breaking down previous thought patterns, beliefs and learned behaviours from my own childhood and how I was parented myself. It’s been an intensely challenging road in nodding and saying Yes! I really get the middle ground these offer to doing Yes and really putting into practice as we raise our two golden balls of beautifulness.


At first, whether taking lead from Genevieve’s or Patty’s (once I’d got over feeling so incensed at the implication of the state of disconnection of mine and my son’s relationship!), wisdom and advice, it felt like I was almost acting out learned lines I read in online discussion groups. Brilliant phrases such as, I will help you wait, as I sat patiently with our son in tears or hitting out because another child was finishing their turn with an Octonauts toy, or the wonderful When and Then (When you have finished your supper then you can play in the garden) as I learned how to take the sting out of bribery and muddy coercion (If you eat your supper then I will let you play in the garden) and remembering Connection before Correction in times when I was all set to do not just that. These were just a couple of effective and proactive tools as I learned to help shift my language and poise of engagement. They helped me slowly find my feet as I slowly began to find an approach to parenting that enabled a kinder, more mutually respectful model. They were simple on the page however not always whilst putting into practice.


On the page they felt like one matter. On trying to incorporate them, in the midst of meltdowns, tantrums and the kids pushing my buttons, remaining peaceful wasn’t always as straightforward as I tended to wish for. I used to do OK at staying calm in the middle of a blow up but then, once resolution was found, would usually find myself exhausted and tumbling down on the other side. Often feeling lowly resourced, inwardly I would dread the length of our son’s crashes. My trickiest stumbling point was getting tripped up in thinking of all the things I could have done differently beforehand that could have steered a different outcome from the one I was presently facing. Maybe if I’d told him earlier that we were going straight home after the park, the boundary would have been clear and he wouldn’t be screaming now that he wanted to go swimming? Maybe if I’d said we were going to have supper after playing then he wouldn’t be demanding TV now? …..


Our son has sensory processing difficulties so foresight and painting the picture ahead of the game has, over the years, become my nom de plume. He’s a child that needs routine and a clear structure to help him know where he is within the landscape of a day. I have known long the holes he and we can fall down when life doesn’t form in the particular way he needs and often expects. I know of the endless demands he strikes when the day isn’t singing his tune and the stress these bring to both my husband and I. A degree of fore-planning to prevent this does have its benefits on many levels however, it can be wholly, wholly exhausting and, recently I’ve begun to realise, possibly less advantageous for himself.


For the last while I’ve become more conscious and more ready about opening up my support for him when he meets the seeming beast that is disappointment. A growing commitment has been forging slowly within to really, truly hold the space for him when things don’t pan out in the way he’d hoped for, anticipated, expected. He’s not always going to have a manager to foretell the bumps along the road ahead, no one to overlook and guide him gently by his side away from them and to help avoid the blow ups and frustration that can arise. But, instead, I know, by sitting by his side as he rides the tumultuous waves that disappointment can stir and helping to cultivate his own internal muscle to listen to the music of not getting what he wants, when, how, NOW!, I hope it will not only empower him as his strides his way forth into young adulthood and beyond, but also enable us as a family to live a little more without the sting of the edge as I help him tend his.


And then there are the times when he shoots request after request after request at us, frequently bundled with a huge amount of displeasure at whatever he or we have just been doing, despite very often been grinning from ear to ear even just 15 minutes beforehand. Time after time I’ve just not got it. Why? We’ve just been for a lovely family swim which you’ve adored doing and now you’re full of anger and dissatisfaction? I don’t understand? How can you be so fed up? Aren’t you full? Isn’t your cup replete after such connection? Why do you keep shooting want after want at us? Why isn’t this enough??!


And, of course, I’ve tasted the burn of resentment as he loses it and asks for more. More. More. MORE!


And then there was today.


In the story of connection and my tsk! at the thought our son was feeling disconnected all those years ago, it’s been a long journey. Like the drip, drip, drip, sometimes I’ve been merrily thinking I’ve got this Peaceful Parenting thing going and then, BOOM!, some connection happens in time and place and I sink down to the next level, the next chapter of understanding.


Maybe it was coz this morning I spent some time on my own inner-enquiry. Asking myself what was my direct experience in my heart space right now? In my throat area right now? In my left eye? Right eye…? I came upon a place within in which I jumped straight out of straight away and disconnected. And with it jumped in my sense of abandonment, my own self-abandonment as, I witnessed in the background, my self-scorn for wandering away just where attendance was needed.


It was a piercing moment, as I ventured around my internal terrain and maybe it enabled me to see with new eyes what was to happen later today. Possibly.


Four pretty knackered souls left the house at lunchtime to go on an adventure for Father’s Day. We could have all probably done with a day at home doing bugger all but my husband had an urge to get some fresh air and it felt an important one to honour. But, despite our communal tiredness, we had a ball. Walking, climbing, meeting new friends, dogs, frolicking and giggles, in the rain, the mist…. We loved it. Erm, until we got back in the car to go home. And then our son’s tirade of fed up-ness and wanting to drive across the county to go visit friends right then, right now started to kick off.


Usually I would meet this with:


Outwardly trying to stay calm. Responding to him with;


Yes, I hear you really, really want to go to North Devon from here and I’d love to do that sometime too. Right now it’s late in the day and we need to head home to get supper. We will arrange to see our friends but we can’t do this today my love.


Inwardly, I would be travelling down THREE avenues.


Firstly. Why? Why is he responding like this now? We’ve just had such a lovely time. He was laughing his head off literally two minutes ago. What happened???


Secondly. I really should have told him when we were at the top of the Tor what was going to happen when we arrived at the bottom. I should have told him as we crossed the road to the car park. No, in fact, I should have told him before we left home….. (!!!)


Thirdly. Oh, jeez! Why are you complaining now? Again? I’m so knackered. I just want peace. And quiet. Why can’t you stay quiet???!


And each of these layers of dialogue, with him and myself, would a) be exhausting and b) negate seeing what was really happening and what he really was in need of.


In truth, I could have probably mustered a fourth avenue. Which would go thus:


He needs connection. But I am saying all the things that I think he needs to hear…. I’m acknowledging to him how he’s feeling. I’m giving him a clear boundary. I’m holding the space for him. Why’s it not working? I’m doing a shit job. Oh, I don’t want this….!


But life isn’t always textbook. Sometimes the book just needs a wide berth. And sometimes the lines just jump off the page and make sense in time and space that leave invisible scribbles on the wall. Sometimes things just take the drip, drip, drip until something kicks in and we embody them. Or maybe they embody us?


These are wonderful moments. Yes. Today I bypassed all the speed bumps on my avenues of habitual responses trying to make sense on this oh so testing road of meltdowns. Yes. I bypassed the Whys? in my internal questioning and went straight into the heart.


He’s feeling disconnected, I said to myself, and helping bringing him back to connection is the ONLY thing I need to focus on right now. Not the things I could have done beforehand. Not the feeding back to him every step of the way. Not the confusion. Not the resentment or the myriad of hurdles that I bring to the table when he asks to be brought back home. It came immediately, both my realisation and what I then needed to do to be there with him, there in that moment. No baggage. No complications. No attachments of stories, questions, reasoning. Just my attendance.


I’ve known this in my head for donkeys. I’ve know it in my trying each time, over the years. But this is the first time I have known it without the background chatter. Today was the first time I have seen his disconnection and urgent requirement for connection so simply for what it is.


When Patty talked about a child calling for connection, in my reading all those moons ago, I imagined connection was one thing. It was, at the time, both my perception and sense of connection that pertained to me. I thought he and I were connected, so yep I presumed, we were. I didn’t understand or appreciate at the time that she was talking about a child who has his own sense of connection that is related to mine but it is not mine. It is in fact separate and he has, as have we all, our own calling for connection that is unique to us as each lap of each wave as it kisses the shoreline is. Each trigger that fires and flares up in us is individual to us. Yes, they may be similar and yes, interwoven, however in the fleeting moments when disconnection happens for me it might not be happening for my son and vice versa.


Today I felt I circumnavigated the whole circle and came, in that fleeting nanosecond, to see this deeply for the first time.


It’s been five years in coming. The seeming Americanisation of the language that I first read in the early days on this Peaceful Parenting unfolding felt uncomfortable to say out-loud. It felt false. Not me. And then I started to inhabit it. I could say it and mean it so to speak. But it’s like layers of strata. I’ve been excavating, chipping away. Coming, slowly coming into Now. From the inside to out.


Boy, it takes time!










The After Glow



In these days since returning from Embercombe, technicolour images keep spinning in the space between the backs of my eyeballs and each socket. Such delicious-ness gurgling here, with such strength of remembrance, I feel, I hope, I will never will loose each firing vision.


Each adult, whether parent or member on the team at Grow the Grown Ups, I’m sure will have a bevy of glorious memories of the wondrousness of the play and connection the children shared there with each other last week. Here are a few of my favourite:


A Band of Beautiful Brothers


There’s a phrase, Boys will be boys, that gets tagged onto a lot of seemingly undesirable behaviour from boys, very usually physical aggression or their seeming shutting down from empathy and understanding. I saw it emblazoned on a toddlers t-shirt just this morning and it’s a phrase that grates beneath my skin hugely. On the one hand it dismisses their capacity to be other than just what they are deemed and too, as much as it cuts down, in part it also gives a certain permission to allow them to behave in such a way. To me it feels a way out for an adult to not facilitate any other form relating which regrettably tightens the lid on the possibilities of boyhood and their amazing potential.


Last week I was honoured to witness something wholly different. There was a group of boys ranging from around the ages of five to ten that spent the week dipping in and out of each other’s company. Mid-week on the Wednesday we had a family day, for us to come together and spend time roaming our wonderful surrounds. However, this was the day our son was immersed with this incredible bunch of boys so I spent much of my time watching him from afar. The kindness, love, kinship and acceptance I saw between them all was utterly, utterly awesome. It blew me off my feet and I couldn’t help but think of the phrase; Boys will be boys. Their connection together, it’s chemistry, was the antithesis of everything that the phrase gets lauded with and was so inspiring to watch.


A couple of the parents, my husband and self, included, commented how amazing it would be to gather regularly to enable this buoyancy (boy-ancy!), which may happen but may not. Either way, I know the seeds of what they experienced in these days are lying now within rich fertile soil. Whether they commune altogether or not again, I know they’ve had a magnificent taste of how boyhood can exist in such a beautiful capacity.


The Magic of Mud, Fairies & A Treehouse


On Thursday, between morning activity and our afternoon session, I asked our son whether he would like to do some Special Time together. Yes! He said and pointed to the woods. So with rice cakes and water in tow he and I headed towards a part of Embercombe that I don’t know so well with a plan. His plan.


To say that it was his Special Time seems slightly not true. Unbeknown to either of us as we commenced, as he lead me through the woods and took me to places there I had not yet visited; a treehouse, fairy homes, a bridge over the stream, I felt I was experiencing too my own Special Time. It was a glorious privilege to be taken on a journey with our seven year old boy, he as guide, taking moments to munch rice cakes, play hide and seek and climb through the muddy land.


Because of previous experiences with him when Special Time ends, I was mindul to let him know part way through roughly how much time we had left as well as let him know what we would be doing afterwards. He’d asked for twenty minutes and when the timer went off and I told him we needed to finish. OK, he said, waited with no pleading for me, and lead me back through to the clearing to the path up the hill, taking my hand as we walked.


Wow. Such beauty to watch unfold and my hearts beats with such pride in his growing. I thank Embercombe so deeply for this richness that it offers.


The Ring of Fire


Before attending the week, I had purchased two sneaky bags of marshmallows for the kids to toast on the last night. I was careful. I kept them hidden in the car throughout the week, knowing if either our son or daughter had found them beforehand we would face numerous requests each day for them to be munched.


My plan worked a treat. I revealed it and the purchase just before our evening’s fun in Centre Fire on the last evening; an opportunity for children and adults alike to perform impromptu pieces – maybe a joke, tinker on the piano, bang on the drums, a song…. We collected sticks and prepared the fire ready for afterwards and sat with both kids on our laps, packets of marshmallows in hand, watching the night’s showcase unfold. Neither demanded to eat them there and then.


And then, possibly my favourite part of the whole week. When we gathered an hour later around the fire outside, each child was given a stick and my son handed out to each child one at a time the marshmallows. Parents helped pop them onto the sticks and watched as the kids toasted these balls of sugar.


Now fire, sugar and a group of kids is the kind of sight that could make many parents start to wobble. In fact it could make every single kid there start to wobble. BUT, not one child had a meltdown. Instead they, all calm and taking turns, placed their sticks into the fire, pulling out gooey pinkness one by one. I was awestruck to watch and it occurred to me, as we walked to our yurt village to bed, what we and they had just created wasn’t about a chance to eat a ton of sugar. It wasn’t a scene from a frenzied birthday party in which each child takes home a party bag of overwhelmed-ness charged on sweet-things and tears.


No. This was about them, as a whole, participating. The marshmallows were secondary. Communing together this way was foremost.


Glory be!


I don’t think I’m alone in my worry for our children and our children’s childrens future. The world seems a both hostile and fragile place right now, in so many ways. Two nights ago I had a dream about a war and the end of the world. I had one not long ago about a nuclear bomb exploding and I could feel in the dream my feet and legs starting to melt and disappear. It has haunted me since.




Burning at the back of my retinas these wondrous vistas last week give me a new hope. All is not lost. And we will keep on, keeping on. Sowing these seeds in our children so they can know, embody and hopefully sow another way as they grow.



Special Time for the Grown Ups



Follow me, I said to my husband. Do everything I do. I want you to step inside my shoes.


I wanted him, for those precious five minutes, to inhabit me. I wanted him to sink, surrender and meet me at a level beyond words, commands, a fleeting gaze of our eyes. I wanted him to experience my internal beat and rhythm without either of us saying a single thing.


I am a kinaesthetic soul at heart. I lean towards silent dialogues spoken with energy and weight. And weight of what’s not there. This I understand well. I hear presence in my body, through my cells. Here my connection kicks in.


It’s an acute sensitivity that evolved from childhood. It was essential for my survival. And there are benefits to such a heightened level of sensing. However, my skin can feel too thin at times and this is when I hide, when I climb inside my heart, too scared to be seen.


And so my dance of longing so often dances on. Wanting, yearning for this connection and my desire to be met here. And too afraid at times of revealing, exposing what lies within. At times, my anger. At others, my burning for witness in this deep well, this magical place of home.


And so we were offered an opportunity to do Special Time with our partners or another close being if partner not there. This was Grow the Grown Ups Part 2. Aka our second year of attending the programme.


I was spinning a wheel of delight in the preceding days. Knowing for almost six whole days I would be free of cooking, cleaning and attending to our children’s day to day needs as specifically as I do outside the world of Embercombe. Here, in the kind hearts and wonderful arms of the Play Team, I knew I could sink back and trust the spaces they are cared for in. With minimal phone signal, no screens, compost loos and food steeped in pots and hands of love, my being, in these preceding days knew of what was to come and started to drop back already into letting go.


I was full also of a desire to dive in. I was ready to embrace the intimacy of the Listening Partnerships that lay ahead of us. Ready to voice what I have been processing the last few months since we’ve moved and ready, so very ready and excited, for the level of wholehearted engagement that warms and nourishes my soul.


Yes, Bring it on! I wanted to swim in the unknown. I wanted to greet and be greeted in these depths.


I was excited too for the forthcoming connections with kindred folk. These have been a lonely few months, getting to know and make new friends, with dear old ones far away. Bring on this happy, challenging merriment, I felt, Bring it on!


And then as we drove up the winding country lanes to our destination, turning back from time to time, marvelling at the glorious view overlooking the new city that is now our home, something within me said, This is too much. And then, I don’t want to go there. And, unusually for me, I thought to myself, Hey, this is OK. If it’s too much, don’t go diving this time.


Back home now, sat in my bed writing, I can see why I felt this and I can see the why and how the week unfolded in the way in which it did.


It was a struggle. But not like last year’s incredible roller coaster of movement of rawness, vulnerability and the whole. No. This time I spent much of my time with my inner-school girl. Fretting. Anxious. Socially in limbo.


Joanna Watters, who runs the programme, had wisely suggested to both my husband and myself on the first evening, to seek out listening partnerships throughout the week to help us process the difficulties that we were encountering in our parenting and were hoping to explore during the week. Sterling idea I thought, there was so much I wanted to voice and hear aloud, things that I sensed a clarity about and others vague and cloudy.


I’m good at making things happen so I tried, in earnest, yet a surprising unease held me back. From our first afternoon session and my readiness, or maybe not readiness, I suddenly felt an overwhelming awkwardness at opening up to strangers. Not all were but Joanna had encouraged us to connect with a new comrade in enquiry, which so often seems like a welcome dynamic but in retrospect, in that moment, I wish I’d chosen a familiar face.


One of Joanna’s first invitations was to ask each other in our partnerships what was good about how we were parented. I froze inside as soon as she said it. I couldn’t think of one thing and desperately wanted to run. And, so desperately didn’t want to say to the woman in front of me whom I’d only just met the day before, despite her big beautiful eyes full of warmth and gentleness, how shitty my childhood had been.


And Fuck. There it was. Fear set in and my internal wall locked down. Triggered and protected, all at once. Boom!


Yet, the strange thing was, very like last year, some part of me felt a need to let everyone know my story. Last year my inner-child had wanted all to know I was grieving. I wanted everybody to know the wretchedness that was playing out in my family. I was ready to wear the T-shirt. And this year, I wanted everyone to know my growth. In truth, I wanted a, Well Done Soph! And a, Wow, look at you (in your work and enquiry)! and, somewhere in the background irksomely, What a good girl! I wanted recognition, acceptance and a solid pat on my deserving back. From others, some of whom I did not yet know.




Ironically I’m not great with attention. As much as I want to meet and meeting, direct attendance from another often sits uncomfortably within me.


And so the dance played out like this and the third child in our family of four that I had brought with me that week continued to shriek out in her neediness, SEE ME! Everybody SEE ME! Then wanted to hide and not be seen by a soul.


It was dualistic ride of longing to reach out for connection and a needing to retreat. Yearning to belong yet trying to ascertain where it felt safe. Safety and care seemed indeed all around but old wounds were flaring and my inner-school girl was wandering an internal playground full of uncertainty, bubbling with apprehension. And I knew the wider context of this was within our state of transition outside of the week. Our landing and making new friendships and relationships in a new homeland here in Devon and my secret kernel of wanting to be part of something, in something, not just floating on the edge. To belong.


Confusing? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. Draining? Indeed. It was pervasive this, almost frozen, so familiar of old, state of limbo.




But then, in our following session, Joanna offered a delicious window of opportunity in her intent-fully lead and carefully delivered afternoons. It was her invitation for a window of Special Time for us. The Grown Ups.


After stating my request to step inside and feel my shoes, leading, I started to walk across Centre Fire, the ginormous belly of the room in which the sessions are held, with slow measured footsteps, my husband at my side, following. Then I wiggled a bit, did a little jig, and he did too. Then I whizzed behind a sofa. And, he did too. AND THEN I RAN. And he chased me. Wholly flipping chased me and our game of mischievousness was ignited. Yes, our play began, he following I throughout and, as the timer went off to finish and we collapsed on the floor laughing, I realised – WOW!


My inner-schoolgirl had received being met exactly how she wanted, needed, yearned for in those moments. My inner-schoolgirl, my delicate inner-child, had been the centre, exactly how she had envisaged and I realised the crazy, awesome value of these moments.


It was OK to need attention. It was OK to be centre.


It is OK to need attention. And it is wholly OK to be centre.


And here my essence was glowing, witnessed in my desire to play deep from within.


I had learned as a child, that for my parents it was essential for them to own centre stage. I have understood as an adult that they both needed to be there, each of them individually, and that both struggled not to be bang in the middle surrounded in drama and power games. I learned to survive as a child, that I needed to be in the background, in the wings, my needs quietly being quashed, slowly silenced. I learned not to reveal my own rich essence for fear of being screamed at, ignored, shamed, laughed at.


Fuck. It was hard.


And I twigged, post Special Time, in the moments when I haven’t received this particular engagement; being witnessed at centre just for a handful minutes, that over time this need has tended to ooze out of the edges of my firmly held lid. A shitty mood. Resentment. Shut down responses. Not too different in reaction from our children who’s often unrequited desire to be met can transform into what we deem ‘bad behaviour’. The phrase, Your child isn’t giving you a bad time. They’re having a bad time, translates too to us adults when we’re unable to meet ourselves in our places of disconnection and unconsciously seek another to help us reconnect.


My time at Grow the Grown Ups didn’t evolve this year as I had imagined. My expectations, unbeknown to me until our arrival, had been scorchingly high. We had made some sterling friendships last summer that had helped us greatly carve our footing in the months thereafter towards moving down. Twelve months ago it took us over ten hours to drive home and we had no idea how our journey would evolve to get us back here permanently. Twelve months on, we’ve landed with only twenty-minutes homewards and knowing we can hop-foot it back to Embercombe pretty much whenever we want, as a family as well as alone. A wonderful feat, and treat, for sure.


I had appreciated the warm, glowing bubble from our previous experience and the significance of it’s unfolding but I hadn’t appreciated how high I’d set the bar for my own personal journey this time round. My openness to show up genuinely and honestly took a different path. It was overshadowed as I retracted inwards which I found tricky to sit with, it felt an entangling. The old familiar nervousness kept firing and intimidation wound it’s way around my projections onto others. Mostly; They’re doing the real deal and I’m a lower-cast member. And, Where do I, or do I, fit in?




Stepping back, I sense the ripples from this year’s experience are far subtler than I had dreamed. The connections I made externally were warm, generous, kind, many sublime. Those internally had a different edge but, somewhere along the line, had a new assertion of self-care. More forthright, open, direct, in what was said and what was not, than I have known before. And I sense to a healthy rebellion in my growing. Yes. I am learning over this last year and now to know when it is enough. When my journeying is enough. What I am doing, and not doing, is enough. Before I was ready to dig endlessly, to not stop. It is an recognition that is wholly new and considerably welcome though still unusual and sometimes shocking in my internal conversing. I am still learning to temper the two lands and acknowledge a wider vision of here, now, inside and out.


And I guess some very yummy part of me over the course of the week had a bit of forward thinking. Somewhere I realised our resources on returning home are minimal. I haven’t established yet the level of support I had made available to me in London. Now, I knew somewhere within it all, is not the time to go delving and open too greatly my rawness.


How super is that!


Such abundant growth and understanding within this transformative circle of a year, for us as a family as well myself individually. One of my hopes for the week had been for us each to return home with softer edges and centres, which has definitely transpired. And I can see in us all a yielding inwardly which I know will hold us in good stead over the coming months as the power of the week continues to ripple outwards. My understanding too in my parenting has widened, especially the rewards of Special Time for our children and us alike.




My pledge this time a year ago was to turnaround my own self-neglect, grown out of motherhood as well my own childhood, a familiar story, and I know I have made good strides here. I am on an on-going journey of remembering to welcome and value my experience, however harshly I might judge or demean it in some moments. This is something within me that I know deserves my generous attendance. And this year my pledge is to continue to hold myself gracefully with lightness and love and to stoke my fires of courage as I navigate a journey of learning to hold, witness and love my being in my very own centre stage.


It’s been a long time coming.


Image: Taeeun Yoo


To Hide & To Seek




Clever old me! There I was. Perched above the cupboard door, legs outstretched, back and feet poised strategically between two walls. Waiting.


I was 22 years old and with my boyfriend at the time and his group of friends. They were at art college together and renting an old vicarage just off the Old Kent Road. It was ginormous inside, rambling with bellies of rooms, 12ft ceilings, the stuff of old black and white movies. And of course the perfect destination for Hide and Seek.


Some of us were to hide, the others to find. Excited, I scampered off and discovered an oversized cupboard. How smart, I thought, to shimmy my bum up the far-side wall, with legs extended to the opposite side and prize myself in the space above the door, cartoon-like, a scene from Tom and Jerry. No one will ever find me here, I marvelled.


And so the game unfolded. Several times the door beneath me was opened with a soul glancing around below and then swiftly shut again. And over time, I could hear, one by one, everyone being found and starting to gather in the lounge downstairs. I could hear them beginning to laugh, play music, have fun.


After a hefty ten minutes of waiting for my seemingly genius spot of hiding to be uncovered, I realised, piercingly, the party was carrying on without me and I had been forgotten. What about me? I cried inside. What about me?


Hide and Seek. Yes! The never-tired of game, adored and loved by our children, 7 and 4 years of age. I find it hard to envisage a time when they will out grow the fun and joy it brings. I love our daughter’s squeal of delight as she turns on foot, runs and calls, Come Find Me!, her ‘Me’ growing higher and higher in pitch as she hop foots it to an often well-known hidey hole, those that it took me a while to learn however glaringly obvious to me they hold time and again the same allure to snucker down in. I love the sniggers I hear as she and her brother realise they’ve been found and their giggles of delight as I play the fool to elongate the thrill of the chase.


Will they find me? Will they find me? Will they find me?


A game that offers so much security to a child when we grab them in our arms, claiming, after mountains climbed and quarries dugout, we have finally located our treasure. The reassurance it offers as their much-needed power-play of the fear of being abandoned plays out with fun, love and warmth.


But what happens when they don’t find us?


What happens, when you’re 22 years of age and have wedged yourself above a doorway waiting for your boyfriend’s friends to find you and everyone gives up?


And what happens when you’re 44 years of age, are two weeks into a shitty virus and are lying in bed and feeling the need for some company and no one comes?


Funnily enough, the same words.


Will they find me?


I have noticed over the years, especially since being a parent with little time to truly rest, how illness can find my mind down a negative cul-de-sac. It’s the time when alone-ness turns to loneliness and I long for the warmth of kindness to sit at the foot of my bed and listen to my woes. I am learning to tread carefully with my thinking when I find I’m here and gently remind myself not to buy in to a kick me down low mind-set.


It’s been a long journey in this respect. Chest infections a plenty. Severe asthma attacks. Meningitis. Two hospital admissions. One operation. Pleurisy. And an exhausted and fraught husband trying to hold the fort whilst I’ve tried to recover. It’s not been easy for either of us and my need to surrender into the struggles my body and being have experienced has mostly been succeeded by the needs of two small young folk.


BUT it’s a glorious two years ago now since I detoxed from my reliance on antibiotics to get me through and this currently is the first time over the past winter that I’ve been unwell. Not only my health, but too my faith and trust in it, are growing stronger and more robust each year and I am learning the places of self-abandonment and where I can step back in and love. It’s a heroic step in wellness, generosity and life and I am so, so proud of this.


And so I listen. To my internal whispering, What about me? To the visions I continue to experience, as if tempering a fever, with our ancestors since the Human Reunion. To each of my ribs being laid, one by one, in a circle and flames rising, bursting up and out of the centre. To the familiar irksome sense of loneliness lying here today and my often fed-up-ness of coming back to this place, despite it’s often rich and fertile ground of insight and giving. It is a space I know well. The one in which I retreat and hide in. And the one in which I seek and continue to find in.


What about me? no longer leaves me with a well-trodden sense of being unloved. Will they find me? the same. These are old questions that have persisted in finding opportunities to be asked time and again. They have often waited patiently and then hollered so loudly that they cannot be ignored. They have requested me to hear, to be met with grace and to be integrated into my whole.


I don’t doubt for one minute that these questions won’t continue to rise and beckon me to withdraw back in. But I do feel far more greatly assured of the loving voice they will be met with as they do coz, rumbling up from my underbelly, is a humungous purr of I’M HERE!


Image: Barbara Firth

Dancing with Shadows



On waking last Tuesday I felt different. Acutely different. A new connection was running, pulsing, purring it’s way around my upper torso and particularly through my cervical and thoracic spine. Sinking in, down. I revelled in it for a few moments before rising. And as I touched in I became highly aware of a shadow in, what I thought, was my heart. Hmm? But no, I realised, this shadow was not in my heart. It was rather a shadow surrounding my heart. As if a grey smoky cloud swirling around it.


Holy guacamole! Hello former cage. Hello my protector, inner-critic. Friend?


Tangibly, wholly tangibly, I felt immersed in my shadow’s fierce desire to look after me and most significantly protect me from hurt.


And then I felt my heart space. Open. Vast. Accepting.


And I felt the two spaces, heart and shadow, both passionately wanting what’s best for me, but both caught in a battle, heading in opposing directions. The former seeking growth and abundance, the latter wildly shielding me from anything that might wound. Namely, the more deeply I explored, my reactions and thoughts. And jeez, this little old shadow of mine, is strong!


I saw how she’s used, sometimes blindly, every sizeable tool in her little toolbox acquired over the years to keep me safe. Tightly so. I saw how she’s worked hard, so very hard, to keep me there. And I realised how much I love her for her might. How I value her for her care and dedication to this cause and how am grateful for the many countless mountains she has climbed over the decades. For me.


And then, whilst I hung out with this clear, intense and greatly revealing sensing, I became aware of a harmony between these two spheres of self. Less now the fight, more the love and kinship. And it’s stayed. And it’s still wholly tangible. Juicy. Beating. Fresh.


And then the following day I read this:


“A seed of new perception was created yesterday when tiny Mercury, the Cosmic Messenger, moved so daringly across the face of the Sun, that enormous star at the center of our solar system, and your life — and it’s now embedding itself in your awareness. Are you sensing it? Perhaps not yet with your mind, but maybe with the soles of your feet each one contain 200,000 nerve endings? In the intuition of all those emotional neuro-receptors in your gut?

For the next 12 days, Mercury — who’s a part of you, just as much as he’s a planet in the sky — will be rethinking everything based on this new seed, whose Chandra symbol is “a fork in the road with a blank signpost.” It will be 12 days before this new perception is ready to return t the surface of your life with its new outlook on . . . everything.

This 12-day re-assessment begins today in a degree whose Sabian symbol tells us about the potential for our perception to confirm, and to be agents of, almost unimaginable change:

“A new continent rising out of the ocean.””


Hello shadow. My friend, buoyant companion, cheer-leader from the dark.


Image: Dora Brandenburg-Polster

The Tap Tap Tapping of Ancient Ones



There is time between days that sometimes feels like years, far less several handfuls of hours.


Saturday morning was the first time I had an opportunity to connect in with where I was at after attending the opening ceremony for the Human Reunion just two days earlier. I had stayed only until lunchtime at Embercombe on the Thursday as I had to dive into my car and run like the wind to collect our son from school that afternoon. From communing and being held in sublime silence to roaring with glorious song, the turnaround in speed and energy was a shock to my system and my time to ponder and be with the power from the immensity of the morning’s gathering flew out of the window as I wound my way down the country lanes back to the school gates.


The elasticity of time, in shape and dimension, formed into two distinct worlds in the days that passed. But I had a calling to return to the foundations of conversations and internal dialogue born from the ceremony and, as sharply charged the need to step back into my mothering shoes immediately afterwards was, my curiosity remained gentling bubbling in my blood beneath the hub-bub.


My husband took the kids out on Saturday morning to do the weekly shop and I took the moment to return briefly to bed, to lie for a moment and see what was arising. I lay and quietly ventured in. Soon I became aware of my left and right sides shifting apart, with distance between the two growing. I began to fall into, then land and swiftly inhabit the space in between, in the middle. And my right and left continued to move apart, creating this wealth of opening. My mother, father and I, I knew. No longer the battle, their battle, I thought. I chose to stay and hold this in my awareness as I went about our day and in those that followed.


The glamorous life of family busy-ness; childcare, house-hunting, eating, cleaning and a somewhat tired and aching body, meant my next chance to connect in with this unfolding was not until the following weekend. We took a trip down to Cornwall, to the coast. Staying in a rented house with a darling of a comfy bed, on Saturday night I felt myself returning to the ceremony.


One of my favourite conversations on the day itself had been with a beautiful woman, who had flown down from Scotland to attend Embercombe. She had received sage advice from a friend in the days before, who told her to remember we are indigenous too. Yes! I thought and wanted to say, Yes, we are indeed ancient. Yet I was enjoying listening to her voice and her gravity and chose to revel in this instead. But it was a wonderful thought to ruminate on whilst we were lead from Centre Fire down to the Stone Circle to begin our morning’s prayer.


We are ancient. This I know. We know the ancient ones well. I feel the drum of their beat gurgling in my bones. And so, lying in bed on the Saturday evening, I listened in to our ancient friends that breathe the same life and stoke the same fires as we.


They took me on journeys. They took bones from my ribcage and lay them before me. They took my clavicle and gave it space beyond me. They took the right and left hemisphere’s of my brain and held these in their hands. They were confused by the electrical charge that burned from each.


They showed me their dwellings. I saw them made of clay and stone. Their voices were earthed from these. Heavy stone, moist crumbling clay. These too are the homes of our voices, so they told, so we know.


As sleep crept closer, I continued my listening and witnessing. Their bold, silent whispers wrapped in love. Expanding internal space was, is their intention. A growing of space.


It was a cell-fuelling visitation. I’ve been hanging out here more often since. I’m continuing to check in. And the frequent question that has been popping up in various forms and guises since our move from London earlier this year, “Who am I?” is hearing new responses.


At 44 years of age, I have felt in these last months more akin to a hormonal teenager. Shifting, forming, transforming into something new. But yet too my resistance to step from one place to another, to grow a little older, perhaps fuller, perhaps wiser. The question persists and my quest is to gather the answers without contrived judgement and misguidance.


Beyond the identity that I have forged so intently, I have seen the angry woman who has a story that she needs to hear.


Beyond all definitions, as shadows fall aside, I have basked in the beauty of my open pulsing heart.


And then ‘you are simply a sack of bones’ arose whilst swimming on Friday.


Bones seem to be a huge part of this unpeeling. They are part of my freeing.


And an insistent expansion of space.