Ask your body. She knows.
I had high expectations for this week. Full moon, big things to create, not too many existing commitments. And then, life happened. We had a tough weekend with blended family/step-parenting. It’s a hard gig. Not impossible, but frustrating, exasperating, confusing and conflict inducing. The details don’t matter, but most of my energy on the weekend was focussed on this conflict. And so when Monday rolled around (even though we had mostly sorted the challenge, and husband and I were on the same page/team/trajectory) my energy was gone. And my youngest got sick, I got woken up a couple of times in the night two nights in row (and to be honest I’ve completely lost my ability to manage disrupted sleep), and all the things I imagined were possible became a bit less possible. I needed to rest. And re-gather. All my energy (the excited, purposeful, light energy of possibility) was drained and I have discovered (more recently) that you can’t just pretend it’s there.
For most of my life it seemed that I would fill every spare moment with something, and that “Busy” would be my go-to answer for “How are you?” and I’d be running off in the other direction, towards the next thing and away from the disappearing time. When I had my second child, I was back living on my family farm with my oldest daughter (7) and my partner and running a farm-based tourism business, with support from my parents and an apprentice. My second child was due on the 30th July, and on the night of the 29th July we had a massive dinner in our renovated shearing shed (which had been converted into a group space, museum and camp kitchen). The dinner was for 180 delegates of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – a massive radio telescope project and they had been looking at remote locations in Western Australia as part of Australia’s pitch to host part of the project. Big del stuff. We’d arranged a catering company from Geraldton and hired tables and chairs and picked wildflowers and organised drinks and native pet tours (we had kangaroos and emus and a (not native) ostrich who were happy to put on a show for some (not native) lupin seeds. I was heavily, massively, roundly pregnant. My legs ached. My clothes barely fitted. We worked hard for the weeks leading up to the event, and the day of, and I spent the evening talking, carrying platters of food, collecting dirty plates and cups and generally being the hostess with the most-ess. One of the international astronomers came up to me as I awkwardly moved myself amongst the crowd, trying to navigate a platter and myself. She put both hands on either side of my belly and said “Ooooh my dear, when are you due?” I said, “Tomorrow” and she laughed and said “Oh I think you’ve got a little while to go.” I know I would have tried to smile graciously but my face is not a very good liar and I’m pretty sure tears welled in my eyes. We finished cleaning up about 11pm. The next morning, there were chairs to be stacked and glasses to be dried and packed and we started about 7.30am. My contractions started about 7.45am. My partner and I got in the car and he drove me to Geraldton (1.5 hours). On arrival at the hospital I found out I was only 2cm dilated, which made me cry, but we stayed and walked and it went on and on and she was born at 7.30pm. I was silent as I pushed her out, having reached the point where I understood why people had pain relief, but knowing that nothing I’d say would help. I was more shocked by my second birth than my first because even though what I knew I was in for, I seemed to have forgotten. We were discharged from hospital the next day, we spent two-nights in town with my in-laws and then headed back to the farm. When she was 4 days old I put her in a front baby-carrier and planted trees with a group of TAFE kids who were coming every couple of weeks to do Landcare related projects on our farm. I do not remember how I felt about this – if my body still hurt or if I was tired. I’m not sure I was even connected to my body at all.
This life of no space (inside or outside) continued for many years. The most unconscious form of living. More existing than being truly alive. And this is always the bit that has to change first, and then be revisited every time you forget and do it again.
I always felt lonely in the space. And I was so fearful of the loneliness that I do anything to avoid it. The quiet required to find the answers was terrifying. So I’d keep busy and noisy and the fear manifested as anxiety, which drove me – to get more done in an effort to not feel overwhelmed or anxious about all the things I needed to do.
In the end the anxiety became so debilitating, I had to choose – to address the fear or be stuck in it. Totally suffocated. Every time my anxiety peaked I would change something – quit my job and move back to the farm, leave the farm and get a new and busy job, end the relationship I was in, stop working for a while, move to a new house – and then I’d by momentarily satisfied (or at least not under the same pressure) and that would be enough. Every time I had another child (4 in total) another layer of complexity would be added and I would be determined to juggle all the balls. The same story, over and over again.
Slowly my space has evolved and at a practical and physical level the space I have for work and writing and being is pretty special. Big windows, views all the way to the ocean, trees outside, the energy of the wind, soft underfoot, cool or warm when it needs to be, good smells, feels like home. This happened once I knew I had to have my own space to be OK. I started at the physical (outside level) and then turned the focus inwards.
But in truth, none of the physical and practical space benefits mean much when inside there’s no room. Much of what I teach as a purpose coach is about being supported, having space to create magic and getting clear on your intention from a place of connection – so you can do with knowing and not just get busy doing for doing’s sake. It made sense that if I was going to teach this I had to find a way to do it.
And funnily enough the way to do this is not to do anything. Or to do a whole let less than you have been doing. And get comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling of ‘doing’ nothing but being present. Without running away to the next load of washing or business task. The only way this week got anywhere was when I chose just to be in what it was. Commit to the things that had to happen and stop and make space in between. And when I did that suddenly there became enough time. Or maybe not even suddenly. There just was enough time. And all the things that had to get done, got done. Easily. I suspect they would have all happened anyway but with a lot more stress and shrieking by me (there was some shrieking at the start of the week to be honest, I think mostly I was disappointed it wasn’t living up to expectations and it took me a day (or three) to surrender to how it was unfolding).
I think the place to start is just to feel more, into your body, and honour what you find. If you’re tired, rest (and have a glass of water). If you’re hungry, nourish (and have a glass of water). If you’d like to feel more, move your body in a way you enjoy (washed down with a big, fat glass of water). Ask your body. She knows. And just be willing, at the very beginning to lean into the discomfort of doing the opposite of what you’ve always done. Notice how that makes you feel and the internal conversation you might have about that, and honour it with your curiosity but do not take it as gospel. There’s a whole new way to do things, and it starts from the inside out.
Big loves xx
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