Monthly Archives: February 2012

Trees, the Interconnectedness of All Things and the Power to Choose

I am currently emerging from one heck of a flu.  The shakes have gone, my head has pretty much stopped continuously rotating, and I can even more or less hear properly. All that’s left is a really annoying cough and phlegm in pretty 1970’s bathroom suite green … cos you really wanted to know that.  Oh yes and my memory’s completely gone.  Forgetting people’s names, faces, forgetting which section is which in my new meticulously organised but as yet unlabeled paperwork filing system … argh.  I feel like someone’s wiped my hard drive.  Thankfully I still remember my children, where the kitchen is and what it’s for, so I guess that covers the important things in life. Onward!

Yesterday morning I stopped the car opposite a park so that I could have a phone conversation.  In the summer the place would be buzzing with people, but in the cold of winter only one or two determined dog owners were to be seen, battling the blustering wind and hanging on to their leads for dear life as their pooches took them for a walk.  The playground lay empty.  I briefly flirted with the idea of having a few goes on the zip wire (yes, I have a bit of a mad streak) as for once I wouldn’t have to stand in line and wait with a bunch of 8 year olds whilst pretending I was just there to help my son, but then decided against it as my car was much warmer.

At this time of year all the trees are naked, and you can see their ‘bones’.  I like trees.  To me they represent how energy/matter is distributed in this existence.  If the trunk represents the whole, then each major branch would be a group of things, say celestial bodies, or all carbon based life, and then the smaller branches would be the divisions of those things, eg; plants, animals.  At some point you’d get to all the little twigs, leaves and flowers at the end, and each of those represent each individual instance of something, say a particular star or animal or human.  I know the analogy needs a little work, and it would have to be a gigantic tree, but it does really help you grasp the idea of ‘the interconnectedness of all things’.  We are all connected, not just every human being, but also every animal, every plant, every mountain, every star and every planet.  The connection comes from within – we are connected via our very essence, by the fact that we are all made of the same floaty frozen energetic ‘stuff’, bits of which migrate between us all with regularity, and thereby connected to the same trunk/source.  If this paragraph strikes a chord with you, wooohooo, I am not alone.  If it doesn’t, sorry, I just had the flu 😉

That wasn’t even what I was thinking about the trees yesterday though.  I was looking at their skeletons.  In front of me were three types of trees.  One type had knotted twisted branches that somehow still made their way outward and skyward, so that when clothed in leaves the tree would still have a classic tree shape.  Another type had fine delicate branches that seemed to have grown effortlessly. The outer branches of these trees swayed gently in the wind.  The third type of tree reminded me of my old school sports teacher.  Even then she looked about 80, yet her back was ramrod straight, and she held herself with pride.  The spines of these trees reached to the sky and the further branches seemed almost an afterthought.

‘I want to be the middle type of tree’ I thought to myself.  Why fight life and be all knotted and twisted inside? Or why be so obsessed with perfection that you don’t even have time for proper branches?  The middle trees were beautiful, elegant and effortless.  All the trees were growing in the same soil within meters of each other.  They all had the same conditions to work with.  Yet each grew differently, according to its nature.

Trees don’t have a choice – they just obey their genes and grow as they are designed to.  Animals are the same – granted they have a greater ability to discriminate, but at the end of the day they just obey their ‘programming’.   We humans are gifted with something no other animal has.  The ability to choose.

Many people just go with the flow, and let their conditions decide their life for them.  Many people waste that gift that elevates them from the other animals.  After all we have animal bodies and we too are awash in a sea of social conditioning.  So you can get through life hardly having to think for yourself at all, and many do.  Isn’t that a waste though?  We get to choose what we do with the conditions around us.  We get to choose what we do with what comes to us.  Do you really want to leave that choice to the herd?  I don’t.   I choose.  I choose to be the middle tree for a start, beautiful, relaxed, elegant, graceful.  And I choose to keep on choosing.  It may be harder work, and I’ll only have myself to blame if something goes wrong, but then on the other hand I’ll be able to take credit too when things go right!  And I know that I’ll be the creator of my own life … I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How about you?  Do you choose to choose? And if so which tree are you? And which would you be?

I think I may go on that zip line today…

Rivka

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I Can Do It By Myself – Push Your Limits

Anybody miss me last week? My apologies for vanishing.  We ran our fantastic event ‘Cocktails and Consciousness’ on Thursday – recording should be available soon – and suffice it to say that preparing for it occupied so much of my non-family time that I didn’t get to change my clothes for 3 days prior. Ugh I know, but that’s dedication for you!  I just worked till I fell asleep each day, then got up at 4am and worked some more.  Then I had a shower, stepped out, got my hair done and looking gorgeous did my best to entertain and educate – see how much I love my ‘job’?

And my computer died.  Astonishing how much a part of life these little purring electronic beasties have become, isn’t it? This happened an hour before I had to leave for the event, which was a real pain and also put paid to any thoughts of me putting out my blog on Thursday evening.  So now you know.

Well anyway I had to replace the thing.  Now generally I’m pretty good at traditional boys stuff – I can hang light fittings, confidently and usefully handle a variety of power tools and singlehandedly monkey strap 4 fencing panels to my roof rack if the situation calls for it.  I once even changed the points in my car.  Back in my student days I drove a succession of ‘old bangers’ which broke down with such frequency that I got warned I was using the AA too much (that’s AAA to the Americans) and would have to pay next time I was rescued.  I even got to know the local AA rescue guys!  I would stand with them as they tinkered under the bonnet and annoyingly ask question after question, so that over time I got pretty familiar with the workings of my various vehicles.  When one of these vehicles took longer and longer to start and eventually wouldn’t start at all, I reluctantly called a local mechanic.  They wanted £50 just to tow it to the garage and couldn’t tell me how long they would have it or how much it would cost to fix it. “It might be something really simple” I said “couldn’t you just take a look?” “Oh it could be anything” said Mr Know-It-All Mechanic Man “It could be the engine, the tyres, the brakes … we’d have to bring it in and take a proper look”.  This comment incensed me so much I just said thank you and hung up.  How thick did he think I was that I would buy the idea the car might not be starting because the tyres or brakes were faulty! Steaming, I stomped over to the local auto spares shop, described the situation and what I had done so far and said that I wanted to have a go at fixing it myself.  Did he know what the problem was?  “Well it could be your points” he said.  He told me where the distributor cap was, described what the points looked like and sold me a new set for £4.34.  “It might or might not work” he said.  Well it wasn’t working at the moment and I wasn’t going to pay the con-artists down the road several months budget to fleece me, so I would have to have a go.  It took me an hour and a half under the bonnet and the car sprung to life.  Hah!

So as I say I’m generally pretty good at boys stuff.  One of the exceptions is computers though.  I’m not talking about using them – I’m great at that.  But once you start talking specifications my eyes glaze over. You say “500 Megabytes of RAM with a Pentium Dual-Core Processor” and I hear “nya nya nya ga ga ga ga ga”.  I go to my happy place.  If you could see inside my head I’d be sitting by a lake watching the swans.  If you keep talking about it, eventually the top of my head creaks open, and a bird boings out on a spring saying “coo coo, coo coo”!

Which is why I decided that I would have to do this myself. Armed with the information that I currently had 4 Gig of one thing and 250 Gig of another, off I toddled to Costco, 3 kids in tow.  Costco was ridiculously busy, so much so that I had to approach someone who was leaving just to get a trolley, in which I safely installed the kids.  They gave me the coupon book and leafing through I noticed that there was an offer on an Acer.  I had to visit the membership desk first because I’d lost my membership card and (after an hour’s wait) happened to get a computer geek as an assistant. In chatting I told him I had come for a laptop. “Oh are you getting the Acer?” he said “I just got one for my mum”.

Card sorted, we plunged through the crowds to the computer section.  There were two in my price range.  The cheaper one was barely better than what I had in that it also had 4 Gig of whatever and about 350 Gig of whatever else.   A little beyond my budget, the Acer was the next one up and crowds were buzzing round it like flies.  There were so many people there I couldn’t even get my hands on the thing.  By now my son had worked out that you can pull up the wall of one side of the trolley from the bottom and was masterminding the escape of all three children.  I plunked them back in, gave them sweets to keep them quiet (yes, I do it too) and looked at the specifications again.  Nya nya nya.  But it looked a lot better than the other one.  To stop any further escapes and give me a little thinking time I set off ‘around the block’ of printers, DVD players etc.  What to do?

Well, computer geek at the front had bought the Acer.  The crowds were buzzing round it which meant it had to be worth considering (read ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ by James Surowiecki) and Costco have a habit of finding something great and discounting it so that they’re far cheaper than anyone else.  I chose the Acer.

Later that evening computer geek hubby, who had desperately wanted to help me make the purchase, asked me what I’d got.  I showed him, saying “I think you’ll find I’ve done well!” with a lot more confidence than I felt.  He looked and was actually impressed.  “Do you know it has a nya nya nya processor?”  He said. “I don’t know what that means” I smiled “I bought on psychological principals, you know.” It took him several hours of research to find a comparable Dell computer at the same price, online.  Bare-faced cheek and a little right-brained thinking won the day!

The moral of the story?  Well sometimes I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and do something you previously thought you couldn’t.  If you can’t do it the conventional way, just do what it takes. It’s very easy to get stuck in your beliefs about what you can and can’t do, but where’s the fun in that?  Pushing your limits isn’t always easy or comfortable, but in the words of Peter Mc Williams, a self help author:

Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.

You never know what you can achieve till you give it a go, so this week push some boundaries!

Rivka

Giving Birth – and other times you need to let go and go with the flow!

I am soooo excited!!!! My good friend has just gone into labour 🙂 This will be a friend’s birth with a difference though, because she’s asked me to be there … crumbs!  I’ve never been at anyone else’s birth except my own 3 children … and myself of course, though I can’t remember very much about that … childcare has been suitably rearranged, clients put on hold and I’ve made sure to have a good healthy lunch – anyone would think I was preparing to give birth myself!  Now I’m sitting here ‘on call’, and whilst waiting what else would I be doing but blathering away at the keyboard – I guess I’m a true blogger at heart.

Now anyone who knows me well will know that I could go on forever about my beliefs regarding the intricate details of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding etc etc but never fear, I will hold off, for the sake of those who have a problem with anything blood or bodily fluid related, and of course for any gentlemen reading this, a percentage of whom would scurry quickly in a different direction or faint gallantly at the thought – you’re safe!  You may read on indignantly and then put me right in the comments section below with your incredible stories of the fastest drive of your life to the hospital delivery room, or how you videoed the whole thing from up close right until the moment you got kicked in the face, ok? (I know, I know, I’ve set myself up for it now :-/  )

Now where was I … ah yes, birth.  You know, in the personal development field we tend to make a big deal out of the idea that each of us needs to be in charge of our lives.  Oft repeated phrases come to mind such as- ‘If you don’t make a plan for your life, someone else will’ or of course ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’.   As a life coach I routinely encourage my clients (and anyone else who will listen) to live with forethought and act with deliberation.  Somewhat like James Bond to take calculated risks as opposed to irrational ones. To ‘begin with the end in mind’.  To do yearly planning and weekly planning, and to take time to decide on three things you want to achieve each morning.  And I strive to do each of these things myself.  So it may come as a surprise when I wholeheartedly suggest there are occasions when you might be best off chucking your planning in the nearest river and going with the flow.  Giving birth can be one of them.  A wise woman friend of mine, Chamutal – and I’m giving her a shout-out here because I think she’s brilliant – see below – has often said to me that “you give birth how you live life”.  I think that is true on many levels.  I think that in both it is important to plan for what you want, to point yourself in the right direction for getting what you want, and to make sure you set up your environment so that what you want is possible and can get to you.  After that there comes a point where you just have to let go.

Control freaks will be tearing their hair out at the thought … ‘What?’ you might say ‘You mean I can’t control every little detail all the way to the end?’ Nope.  You see life is rather like giving birth, too. You can plan till the cows come home but at the end of the day you can’t control the weather, or other people, or chance itself.  You can maybe guide life, funnel or magnetise it along a certain route, to a certain degree, but at the end of the day the world around you is going to do its thing, and blow you off course on occasion.  At that point you could waste your energy yelling at the wind or you could just get back on course.    Sometimes you do your best, and you still can’t go in the direction you think you need to.  Sometimes the only thing left in your control is your decision as to how you are going to react and what meaning you are going to give events.

It all sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it.  So let me tell you a little secret … sometimes letting go of what you think needs to happen is the one key that unlocks progress again.  For example if you want to get into a certain training course and you fail to get in every time you apply, the point at which you eventually let go and say ‘you know what I’ll do that other course instead’ might be the defining moment of your life.  Maybe you wanted to be a teacher, and you ended up being a plumber … you could find that you’re a jolly good plumber, get amazing job satisfaction, very little homework, and will almost certainly be richer too!

Sometimes you might not even have a plan B.  Sometimes you just need to let go and forget about the thing entirely.  Not even wait for it.  Sometimes, dare I say it, I think you need to give up.  Give up trying to direct the course of events at all, and just surrender to chance or a force bigger than yourself.  Let’s be clear, I’m not advocating this as a general attitude to life.  I mean once you’ve done all you can and can go no further under your own steam, once you’ve really, deeply and completely exhausted all your options, I think in those cases it is not only ok to give up, I would say it is required.  And then something incredible happens.  It’s as though existence steps in saying ‘Phew!  She finally got out of the way! Now let’s give her what she really needed all along.’  And you suddenly find that things start working again.  Like a creaky old cartwheel that has finally got some grease, life starts to move forward again, and you get everything you ever needed, almost effortlessly.

Without quite getting on my soapbox, birth-wise, I can tell you that I think a lot of the work of Michel Odent, a well known voice in the natural childbirth movement.  I heard him speak once, well before I gave birth to any of my children, and remember him saying something to the effect that childbirth is something the animal body does pretty much by itself if you give it half a chance.  His suggestion was to surrender to the animal side of things, and let your body do what it needs to do, and whatever it needs to do, without letting your mind get in the way.

I think life is the same – sometimes you just have to surrender and let things happen.  Sometimes you have to get out of your own way.  When you let go, a beautiful healthy baby pops out!

So this week, here’s to surrender and letting go –

Now I’m off to go give birth with my friend – wish us luck!

Rivka

Update:  … and we have a lovely baby boy, Thank Gd! My inspirational friend made light work of the whole thing.  It was a privilege to be by her side, and I am profoundly grateful for the experience.

NOTES

Quick event plug:     www.dashofsparkle.com/cocktails_and_consciousness.html

If you are considering joining us for our inspirational ‘girls night out’ event, Cocktails and Consciousness on Thursday evening 9th February- there’s no time like the present! Please follow the link above for more information and to book. Tickets are £15 each, and include one cocktail. If you let me know you have booked as a result of reading this blog, you can claim your complementary life coaching session with me too – 30 mins by phone or skype.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Odent – about Michel Odent

Chamutal Isaacs – is a seasoned doula, teaches natural fertility awareness, natural gender selection and provides coaching sessions on all things fertility, birth and breastfeeding related.  She is a well-spring of knowledge in my very personal opinion and you can reach her on 0044 (0)7903 268 551 or at chamutalishere@gmail.com .