Friday

Words, Blank Pages and Life.

"I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page
and I could do anything I wanted."- Jack Kerouac

When I was at school I would love it when I came to the end of an exercise book (the note pad that we wrote our lessons into) and had a chance to start a new one. Those wonderful smooth white pages not yet sullied with untidy writing and mistakes.

I savoured that moment and was always filled with good intentions. The first page was duly written in my very best handwriting. Slowly and meticulously I formed each letter like a work of art, I wanted it to be beautiful and my heart would sink just a little if I faltered.

I wanted to keep the whole book like that, I wanted my writing to be straight and neat. I didn't want to cross things out, to make mistakes or lose focus.

But of course, with writing as with life, I did.

Sometimes my obsession with the neatness of my first page made me try too hard, my hand became stiff and unresponsive my mind was 'trying to write' not trusting that my hand knew how to do it. Other times I was rushed, uncaring, thinking of other things and my writing sprawled and stuttered across the page, punctuated with little mistakes and tripped up by smudges.

It always worked best when I was relaxed and calm, mindful of the moment and trusting my hand to function as an extension of my mind and heart, because then I would just let the words flow fluidly across the unwritten page.

I have realised as I've got older that even though the neatness of the writing is still important to me, for I am an aesthetic soul and appreciate the beauty in things. It is so much more important what meaning I am filling my pages with. What story is filling up my book?

We can, if only we realise it, choose to start a new page at any moment. Each morning is ripe for a new beginning but it is here at the turning of the year that lots of us are thinking of what we wish to write into our next year, into our next chapter.

So, I'd like to send you my blessings and wish you good writing! May your story flow and may it be a beautiful one.

"A new paragraph is a wonderful thing. It lets you quietly change the rhythm,
and it can be like a flash of lightning that shows the same landscape
from a different aspect."- Isaac Babel

Monday

The Wheel Keeps Turning

"It’s only in our minds that we are separate
from the rest of the world." -
Gay Luce


The wheel of the year keeps revolving and things move on as they always do and we return again to one of the natural marker points, Winter Solstice, the longest night.

In this hemisphere the daylight hours are at their shortest and the cold and the darkness are reigning once again over the land. Things appear dead but in reality they are dormant, sleeping and gathering strength for when the light and warmth returns and the cycle begins again.

So it is with us too at this time of the year. It is the time to slow down and think over what has gone, to take the time to reflect and to gather strength. It is a time to decide what we want to bring into our lives. A time to incubate our dreams and identify the things we wish to grow in our life in the next year. Now isn't the time for action, but for planning and dreaming, for getting clear on what 'seeds' we wish to plant for the year ahead.

The time for action will be spring when the whole of nature will be bringing forth new life. We can attune to the natural cycles, live in harmony with them and use the energy to birth our new beginnings too.

"The great lesson from the true mystics
is that the sacred is in the ordinary,
that it is to be found
in one's daily life,
in one's neighbors, friends, and
family, in one's backyard."

- Abraham H. Maslow



Wishing you all peace, love and joy, thank you so much for your visits and for your friendship, they are very much appreciated - Susannah x

Image - Painting by Susannah Bec

Saturday

Be As A Cup - Revisited

"Be as a cup and the universe flows into you. Be as an arrow
and the universe retreats from you."
- Zen Proverb

I loved this quote when I first came across it. It seemed to me that it was often so true that chasing after things can send them further away from us. Whereas the attitude of open expectation or 'allowing' lets things flow towards us.

If you have ever watched a horse whisperer you will see the same process at work, if he advances toward the horse, then the animal retreats, but if he retreats then the horse advances.

This is something that I think that most of us would have difficulty with at first, as culturally we are taught to go after the things we want.

We are so used to taking charge of the things in our life, that the thought of 'allowing' feels passive and gives us the feeling of not being in control, not 'doing' anything.

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes,
and the grass grows by itself." - Zen Proverb


From experience I know that it takes practise and a lot of trust to 'attract' rather than 'persue', to stop pushing and allow the situation to unfold and show itself. It seems to go against what we have been taught but the more you experience this at work in your life the easier it is to be able to relax and have faith in the process.

The lesson - Be the magnet that draws things, rather than the pursuer that chases. In our allowing we enable the smooth flow of things toward us.


Friday

Adding and Subtracting - Revisited and Updated

"The years teach much which the days never knew."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was younger, life seemed all about what I could add to it. I worked on gaining more knowledge, more experiences, more things. As I have got older I have noticed the spiral reversing. I am now dropping things, simplifying. I am now editor of my life.

The myriad of things I had gained knowledge about and picked up along the way 'just in case' were cluttering my mind like an overfilled bookcase, it was crammed with so much stuff that I couldn't find the life affirming classics without moving the trashy novels and gossip mags.

So I metaphorically and physically tidied my shelves, dropped what had served its purpose, let go of the sparkly things that I had held onto because they looked good and kept only the things that were dear to my heart. Things in which I had found my reflection.

The subjects whittled down from a swarm of interesting things, to just a few that have stood the test of time. The spotlight beam now narrowed, focused, shining a light on what I need to see. Clear, no distractions, clutter gone.

In my growing, I had breathed all these things in. I have now exhaled and am left with only what it truly valid for me.

"To be authentic is literally to be your own author, to discover your own native energies and desires & your own way of acting on them." - W Bennis

It has been a couple of years now since the first part of this post was written, and that act of exhaling and letting go of the clutter was vital for a magpie like me, who has always amassed and gathered.

I would read everything and filter out the information I needed, I would have piles and piles of books because the titles looked interesting. Every surface in my home was covered with beautiful and interesting things.

I was fascinated by everything. . . and I was swamped.

Not knowing in the end, which of all that stuff was important to me and which just had twinkly lights and promised much. I loved to live in that realm of infinite possibilities.

But, it made me an observer, I stood outside it all, thinking how wonderful and interesting it all was, I couldn't partake of it all, there was too much.

I spread myself too thin
put too many ingredients in the pot
forget to remember that less is more

I get caught up in quantity
when quality shines so much brighter
by nature, I amass rather than discern

A single rose can be studied
seen for its individual perfection
twenty is just a bouquet of flowers

My thoughts say why write one
when ten are flowing from your fingers
but who will listen to ten, when one would do

So that is when the editing began. I truly did exhale. I got rid of so much stuff, both in the real world and the stuff that was cluttering up my mental state. Some of it I found it hard to let go of, but I did it.

In the end I was left only with that that truly had heart for me and suddenly instead of spinning in a hall of mirrors, exhilarated and dazzled by the lights, I could point to the handful of things that I could interact with, go deeper with.

My speciality subjects were distilled from the mountain of trivia.

Time has passed and I am now taking the next in breath. I have made room for me to breathe in, space for new things, new thoughts, new directions. Honouring my role as author, I am constantly adding to, editing and polishing the story that is me.

"What's important is finding out what works for you." - Henry Moore

Poem Less is More by Susannah Bec - For more poetry please visit Out Of My Ocean

Sunday

Changing the Steps of The Dance

"When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." - Tuli Kupferberg

When anything changes at a core level, whether it be a person, a relationship or a country, then too its 'reflection' will change.

The old energetic pattern has been altered and if the things, people, or patterns don't change as well, then they will become incompatible with the new 'frequency'.

It is as though two people are dancing together with well practised steps. If one person begins to try a new dance then the situation becomes uncomfortable as they are no longer in synch with one another, they are literally 'out of step' and for a while chaos may ensue.

People often feel uncomfortable with such changes, as has been well documented in relationship studies when one person evolves, maybe gives up a destructive habit/pattern etc. then the other person in the relationship feels unbalanced by the shift and does their best to drag the partner back into the old behaviour so that the dance can continue. This point is the most crucial time of the 'changeover' period, as people will often fall back into old habits and behaviours just to keep the peace and please the 'dancing partner'.

Sometimes things have to fall by the wayside if they don't match a changing energy, that is the way of evolution. If you have ever been in a destructive dance with someone you will know the relief when you chose to change the steps or simply walked away from the dance.

If a 'dance', which can be any sort of relationship, work, personal, parent/child needs to change. then it takes one of the dancers to take the lead and begin dancing different steps. The original dance can not continue as the other dance partner can not continue the dance alone. So then something will have to change. Hopefully they will learn to follow the new steps and new and improved, the dance can continue.

If not, then you must have the courage to dance your own steps and through dancing you will attract a person or situation that will think your dance beautiful and be able to synchronise and join with you in your dance. Like attracts like and things are mirrored on all levels and whenever the energy changes then a new 'dance' can begin.

Do not let the future be held hostage by the past. - Neal A Maxwell.

Friday

A Story For Saturday

She altered her gait to match his, lengthening her stride as they crossed the steel bridge with clanging footsteps and anticipation. The afternoon was heavy with the scent of blossom and the curious dragonflies that shadowed her were iridescent and shimmered like spun glass as they danced in the air around them.

They stepped on to the winding path and their footfalls were softened by the springy grass underfoot.

She felt her excitement building when she heard the drums in the distance and the soft ethereal sound of the flute blowing on the breeze.

The pale blue sky peeped through the canopy of fresh green leaves, dappled and lit with sunlight, they threw a kaleidoscope of light filled shapes at her feet as she walked.

He was there, strong and silent beside her as always, his silver hair a striking contrast against his cloak of the deepest blue velvet. He had slowed his pace and the flickering sunshine on his face threw his features into sharp relief.

She was so glad that this day had come and that he was there to walk this path with her.


It had taken many years to gain the knowledge, to ripen her understanding so that it may now bear the fruit of the lineage she was born into, and now she was finally ready and felt the joy rise through her body like a thousand white butterflies heading toward the light.

They were getting close and the sounds of the drums seemed to be beating in time with her heartbeat, the rhythmic cadence of the flute echoing her breath. She heard the soft chanting and it pulled her forward through the twisting branches and out into the clearing.

She was finally there...


Silence fell as soon as she appeared and the circle was hushed, ribbons decorating the four quarters lifted and fell in the breeze, it was the only movement in this sacred place.

The trees were draped in garlands and the smell of sweet incense permeated the air.

The faces of those gathered were turned toward her and she saw the expectation in their waiting eyes.


She felt him behind her and heard his soft breathing.

"It is time" . . . his rich voice reverberated around the silent grove.

The women began the gentle chant and heart beat drums joined the wash of sound that swirled around her as she looked down at her white gown and the girdle she had so intricately woven with delicate spring flowers.

She could feel the weight of responsibility hanging in the air.


From the corner of her eye she saw him walk forward to stand by her side, he looked deep in her eyes and slowly nodded his head before reaching out and with a gentle hand gave her an almost imperceptible nudge forward.

She was unable to move, rooted to the spot for what seemed an age.

. . . and then from out of the shadows came the dragonflies, effervescent and joyful as they cut the heavy air with their light, they bought their sparkling energy, their magic and their blessings. It was the sign she was waiting for and her heart leapt and she smiled and stepped forward into the waiting circle and her destiny.


"Once you know who you are - you know what you must do."

"When your inner and outer energies radiate in harmony,
you are blessed and spiritually magnetic." - Terri Guillemets

"Man is never alone. Acknowledged or unacknowledged,
that which dreams through him is always there to support
him from within." - Laurence van der Post

Good Advice

Keep a good heart. That’s the most important thing in life.
It’s not how much money you make or what you can acquire.
The art of it is to keep a good heart." - Joni Mitchell

Image: Sanctuary - Susannah Bec

We come with a built-in SatNav as standard

"The struggle to learn to listen to and respect our own intuitive,
inner promptings is the greatest challenge of all." - Herb Goldberg


Recently we had reason to visit a distant town we had never been to before. Unlike a few years ago where we would have pored over the map, plotted the route then asked for directions to the actual street when we reached the town, we just programmed the address into our SatNav and sat back and enjoyed the trip.

We took a leisurely drive absolutely certain that even though we didn't know the route, if we followed the directions to turn here, or go straight ahead, we would be taken to the destination we had programmed in. Even when we took a detour on route, stopping for snacks or following an interesting signpost, we were sure that the SatNav would get us back on track with its 'turn round when you get the chance' voice, and constant and comforting refrain of 'recalculating route'.

We didn't doubt, or once get the map out to double check, we trusted that even though we didn't know the way, if we followed and listened to the voice each step of the way, we would get to exactly where we wanted to be.

"Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought and leaps straight from the problem to the answer." - Robert Graves

Now this got us talking and we likened it to our journey through life and the address we are programming in, being like a goal, or something we wanted to head towards. Now of course, we could read books, pore over maps and logically work out the route. Or we could trust that we have our own internal SatNav, our intuition, our subconscious, that inbuilt sense that lives beneath and behind our rational mind.

So, if we know for sure where we want to head (very important) and we listen and feel for clues (our instincts/intuition/internal SatNav) and then trust each step as it appears, then maybe our own internal SatNav will guide us to our destination.

It takes guts to trust your inbuilt guidance system like that, to sit back and enjoy the ride when you can't see the whole route. Sometimes you will feel that you are going in a completely unrelated direction to where you want to end up. That is when your logical mind will step in and tell you that you are crazy! ;-) but from my experience you get lead to your 'destination' in the most amazing ways that you would never have envisaged with your logical mind, the detours and back roads are often short cuts. So trust that when a signpost appears you will recognise it and follow its pointers.

"When you let intution have its way with you, you open up new levels of the world. Such opening-up is the most practical of all activities." - Evelyn Underhill

We are not used to giving up control like that and it makes us uneasy, but as with all things the more you do it, the more you trust it. So why not start small and do some experiments with the concept. Recognise which is your internal SatNav voice and follow the directions! Before you know it you may be enjoying the scenery on route and letting your internal SatNav deal with details.


Latest: Hello everyone, well I haven't updated in a while as I have been a bit distracted following my own SatNav! >>> Read More

Tuesday

Connecting to the Earth

"Nature holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth,
renewal, and transformation in our lives." - Mary Ann Brussat


Today a friend and I were talking about how it is so easy to get disconnected from nature in the midst of modern life - and I remembered the time I took a visitor that lived in the heart of London to a local woodland to walk its trails. She looked around in horror! before exclaiming -

"but there's nothing here but bloody trees!" :-)

I believe we're a part of nature and that it is vital for our wellbeing. Even the simple fact of noticing the breeze on our skin, the sun on our faces acknowledges that connection.

Getting in touch with nature helps us to get in touch with our own 'nature'.


If we become
disconnected and
separated from nature
then we step out of alignment
and we start to entangle ourselves
in the wrappers of the man made world.
We start to believe that that's all there is
the cities, concrete, cars, and the 'things'
(there are always SO many 'things')
and all of the unimportant things
wrap around us...like vines
creeping and covering us
until we can not breathe
until our connection
has been cut.

So we wander alone
through those city streets
and turn on a television to see
what todays weather is going to be
and we forget to look at the sky
and walk on the green grass
springy under our feet.
We begin to believe
that the world
is cold, hard
artificial.

but

if we step out
into the wild places,
the forests, the fields,
the mountains, the oceans,
places beating with the pulse,
the heartbeat of life itself, and
we attune again to natures voice
begin to dance those rhythms
then all of the life force
laying subdued
within us...
will come
alive

*

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." - John Muir

Words written today
originally posted on Out of My Ocean
until I decided they would be better suited here.
Photo: A moss heart thatgrew on a big rock in our garden. :-)

Friday

Remembering . . .

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”


I wander through the corridors of me
in search of that tiny room
that contains
all I have forgotton

The dark holds such memories
it is taut with unspoken things

Things that lay just below the surface
unseen, but dangerous, even to the sure footed

Those small wrinkles in our bedrock become molehills
that can be magnified into mountains
in those inner cinemas
of the unconscious

I need to find the very darkest corner of me

and there, behind the fears
and the debris

of a life

half lived

I know I will find the spark

That pinprick of startling light. . .
just awaiting the breath of my awareness
to fan it into a fire, that will flood the shadows
illuminating those inner rooms with the brightest light

I reach out with eager hands and pick up that burning torch
I hold it aloft, until all the dark internal places
have seen the light that I carry

Lit up from within

I remember

myself

*

"Do not fight the darkness,
let the light in and the darkness will disappear."
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi



As you can see I have given the place a bit of a makeover! I hope you like the new look. :-)

Image and Words - Susannah Bec
Picture taken in my garden a couple of days ago
Poem In Search of a Spark taken from my poetry blog Out of My Ocean

Tuesday

The Urge For Change . . .

"One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again." Abraham H Maslow

There are certain times in life where things bubble up from that deep unconscious wellspring within us, feelings, urges, impulses for change. These are not usually logical well thought out rational plans, they are creatures of the heart, of the soul. Instinctive and primal they demand we heed their call. They belong to the right brain and the left brain can not always fathom their origins but the body, the emotions feel the call.

It is as though some internal timer has ticked itself around a dial until suddenly there is a ringing, alerting us to action. We may try to stifle these moments, bury them and sometimes our bodies will react, showing symptoms, reminding us of the things our conscious mind is preventing us from acknowledging and taking action on.

I believe that these are times when we should decide to reinvent ourselves, to mould our life, our activities, our surroundings into a more accurate representation of who we have evolved into on an internal level. We update our wardrobes, our cars, our home decoration. . . sometimes we need to do this with our lives.

"Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown. " - George Shinn

We all have comfort zones, we feel at home in our reality and change can be a frightening place, especially if we are unsure what the change should be. But if we are honouring our inner impulses, our inner guidance, soul connection, call it what you will. Then we trust that if we are willing to take a risk and are prepared to move forward when the inspiration/ knowing arises, then we will lead ourselves to a new expression of ourselves. We will be a willing participant in our internal evolution.

Sometimes our old skin gets too tight and we have to shed it, at first we may feel vulnerable and exposed without our old casing. That is when we have to have faith in our inner promptings, and trust that soon we will emerge into the next phase of our lives - feeling brave and alive with tremendous energy running through our veins.

Until then . . .

I am an empty cup,

a shallow bowl,

a deep hollow in an ancient rock.

I am an unused envelope,

a blank page,

a primed canvas.

I am a rain barrel,

a vacant house.

a cavernous sea cave when the tide is out.

I am the space created by nothing,

I am expectation,

I am waiting to be filled.


Words and digital image - Susannah Bec
More of my poems can be found at Out of My Ocean

Wednesday

After every storm, there comes clear open skies...

"Turn away from what has gone,
for the future lies sparkling and awaiting your presence."
"All the advice you give to others is for you to hear." - Byron Katie

Today, I turned on the computer and checked the date, and then the realisation hit me that there were only nine days left of me being 'forty something'. In just nine days time I will be 50 !

Wow, I thought, I will have lived for half a century. I will be the age that in my youth I considered old. . . and then something strange struck me, far from being unsettled by it, I was actually really glad!
I have a confession to make. In hindsight, I haven't really enjoyed most of my forties. Somewhere along the way I seemed to have got stuck and have lived most of it in a kind of suspended animation.

"To play it safe is not to play." - Robert Altman

I felt awkward in conversations where everyone agreed that life became so much better with age, that they were SO glad to be older, it gave them freedom, self knowledge and happiness.

I just smiled politely and sat quietly with my secret.
I had self knowledge in bucket loads, freedom too, and have always felt such gratitude that I have the ability to extract joy from the simple things of life. But, somewhere inside me, it felt as though something had stopped, and it cast such a huge shadow.

"The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life,
the clearer we should see through it. " - Jean Paul Sartre


Then I discovered something, that sometimes just the passing of time solves things. As some things decay and are dropped, other things ripen in their place. And lately I feel a real shift, a bubbling sense of new life. Whatever had stopped has started again!

Something has been transformed, inner alchemy has been at work.

So, without ever entirely understanding what caused and cured these rumblings in my inner life! I shall gleefully let go of what has gone and with open hands I will welcome the future. I will embrace this new phase and I shall begin again!

I will step willingly into my fifties. I am ready for a new adventure!

"After winter comes the summer. After night comes the dawn.
And after every storm, there comes clear, open skies." - Samuel Rutherford


Have you ever felt such a turning point? Have you had inner situations that could be felt but not understood?

Image: between today and tomorrow - Susannah Bec.

Tuesday

Life Is Made Up Of The Little Things

"Everyone is trying to accomplish something big,
not realizing that life is made up of little things."
- Frank A. Clark

I think it is so easy to let much of our life slip by, unnoticed and unappreciated, because we are on the look out for the big things that we think should constitute our happiness, our success, our getting there.

Childhood tales of Prince Charming or the big bad wolf teach us that momentous things are out there waiting to be part of our story and they may be, and that is good, as long as we don't forget to enjoy the small things too.

We are urged by the motivators, to do something, be something, strive for our goals, never give up, keep on keeping on. Because then - we can become great, we can be successful, we can live the life of our dreams . . .

We seem to be instilled with the seed idea that what we are is not enough, we need to be, do, achieve more. Our everyday life is not enough, it is 'ordinary' - but when we achieve our goals whatever they are. . . then all will be well.

The downside of all of this, is that people are judging themselves and their lives on some idea of what should be. When they could be enjoying the incredible beauty that already is.

"To live only for some future goal is shallow.
It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life,
not the top."
- Robert M. Pirsig


Right here, right now, you are wonderful, you are 'enough', there is nowhere you must get to, nothing you must achieve, nothing to do but relax and realise that it truly is the little things that make up our life. If we get into the habit of looking for them, there are small miracles everywhere but we need to slow down enough to notice them.

We can take a deep breath, relax into our life and stroll through it enjoying the scenery, feeling the sun and rain on our skin, taking the time to interact with the minutes that make up our days.

"If you cannot find happiness along the road,
You will not find it at the end of the road." - Unknown


If we are too busy and too future focused we miss the wonderful moments like this one that Jennifer blogged about recently. Little moments of magic. . . the world is full of them.

Image - Susannah Bec

Friday

I wanted to share this moment with you . . .

"Anywhere is paradise; it's up to you. " - Author Unknown

I was sitting quietly at my desk as the late afternoon Sun gently crept around the corner of the building ready to shed its slanted light into the sheltered part of the garden.

From out of nowhere the most intense golden beam of sunlight flooded in through the large window of my room, chasing away the gloom of the previous moment as it shone.

I looked up in awe as it pierced through the heart pendant in my window
and refracted into thousands of shimmering diamonds of light
that covered me and made me gasp with joy.

I was dazzled with the light, the beauty, the moment

. . . as my heart was filled with sunshine.

"Once your awareness becomes a flame,
it burns up the whole slavery
that the mind has created."
- Osho

Tuesday

Automatic Responses & Stepping Outside the Box

THE PREDICTIVE TEXT FUNCTION OPERATING WITHIN HUMAN REALITY


"I have the feeling that I've seen everything,
but failed to notice the elephants."
- Anton Chekhov

We watched something recently that featured what looks like an ordinary room with a very tiny man in one corner and a very large man in another, they then walked across the room and took each others place, the small man then became the giant and vice versa.

The presenter explained that the room was vastly askew and the floor was sloping so much it looked as though the man was walking uphill when crossing the room to change places, but due to the perspective used and the place it was being viewed from it looked like a perfectly normal room.

He then went on to explain that as the mind is so used to a room being square, that, that is the image that is being fed back to you. Here is a youtube clip of a similar experiment - Click Here to see it

Also have you ever seen this before? You are presented with a paragraph and all the letters are jumbled up, but surprisingly if you relax you can read it just fine because the first and last letter of each word are in the right place.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

In both of these cases our mind is taking what is coming in through our eyes and using what I call its predictive text function.

Anyone who has used a mobile/cell phone will have come across predictive text - where it attempts to speed things up for the user by predicting what you are trying to write based on the first few letters you type.

Now of course these are just a couple of examples of the ways in which our brains deal with incoming information based on the facts that it already has in its memory banks.

Now I wonder, if we had never seen a room before and didn't have a 'mental model' of what a room looked like, would we then have seen it as it actually is? as obviously, if we weren't already familiar with the English language, we would have just seen a lot of jumbled shapes in the example text.

So it is the already existing model of reality that we have stored in our minds that constitutes what reality is to us - and all incoming data is measured against that and seemingly altered to suit!

Did you realise how much of this was going on with our own every day perception of things?

So I wonder in what other ways this is operating in our lives?

If everything is subject to the minds preditive text, then I suppose that the emotions have that facility too. Anything that we have already experienced or have a 'model' for is influencing the box that information or feelings are filed in, and therefore determining the responses that come forth from within us.

One bad event will influence the predictive text response to another similar event that may be wonderful, but because of the original blueprint that was layed down we may never get to experience it, as we believe our responses are us and don't question them.

So what if when this internal filing system was set up by our first experiences of things, it was based on innacurate or warped information - is then our predictive text function still sending out responses to events interpretated against its first filed model of reality?

We don't usually question the things we see, hear, or feel, we trust that we are accurately perceiving what is there - it seems that this isn't always the case!

"Don't believe everything you think."- Faith Duck

So maybe we should begin to question our responses and reactions to certain things, especially if they are holding us back in any areas of our life. Perhaps we could delve a little deeper by understanding how our we/our systems are programmed.

Names are needed so that we have a common understanding but they put things in boxes, wrap them up in neat little parcels, sum things up in just a few words.

Sometimes words are barriers to seeing . . .

As a child we have things named and compartmentalised for us - a pointing finger and three letters render that huge burning ball of gas in the sky around which we orbit, and all its wonder . . . Sun.

Thereafter on a day to day level, it is, "is the Sun out today". Beauty, majesty, mystery and the enormity of its splendour gone, replaced by three letters. We have a model, a box.

"Words, words, words! They shut one off from the universe..."
- Aldous Huxley


I have a deep feeling that this realisation about how we work could be profound. If we know this about ourselves and our reality, we can use this awareness to question our assumptions and responses.
If life seems lack lustre perhaps the labels have got in the way.

We can become aware that the words, the labels, are just doorways and if we enter the vast halls behind them and look at what is there with new eyes (and the predictive text disabled) we will be witness to an amazing and astounding world.

We literally need to step outside the box.

"When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." - Tuli Kupferberg


Image and words - Susannah Bec

Wednesday

Photographs - We Are Our Own Worst Critic

"Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are." - Malcolm S Forbes

It seems to be one of the things of life, that often we can be our own worst critic.

Most of us have been handed a photo taken of us with a group of friends or family, and the first thing we tend to do is is scan our own image with a critical eye! How many times have you heard people say - I look awful! I hate having my photo taken!


Other people looking at the same image wouldn't see what you are seeing, they would just see YOU!

Recently a group of us had a day out, including a lovely lady who looked vibrant and sparkling in a gorgeous shade of purple. She just radiated sunshine! with her big smile and sense of fun and made the day nicer just by her being there and sharing her enthusiasm, her energy was effervescent!

Afterwards when looking at the photos of the day, the lady in purple exclaimed that she didn't like to see herself and pointed out all the things that she judged as 'wrong' with how she looked.

"Shake off those thoughts,
They're strangling you,
Let out your human song."
- Donovan

It made me realise that when we observe ourself in a photo we are just seeing a flat image, just the surface appearance - but what others are seeing and responding to is so much more, it is the whole of you, what bubbles up from out of your core, your energy, your smile, what you radiate out from the inside.

I suppose, because we are looking out from inside ourselves, that we can never truly see or experience ourselves as others do, and that is perhaps why we sometimes get caught up in judgements about the surface of ourselves. We are not feeling the energy that goes with the visuals. It is sad that we often don't realise how much beauty we hold because we get too concerned with our wrapper.

“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” - Thomas Merton

How do you feel when you see yourself in a photo?

Tuesday

Thoughts for Today

"A tree has both straight and crooked branches; the symmetry of the tree, however, is perfect. Life is balanced like a tree. When you consider the struggles, difficulties, and sorrows as a part of it, then you see it as beautiful and perfect." - George M. Lamsa

Every moment - a perfect moment

every second full of potential

every thought a building block

a stepping off point into the endless now

it is forever now, despite the illusions

of expectation and memory

of a before and an after

it is now

it is always now

*

"The flower doesn't dream of the bee.
It blossoms and the bee comes." - Mark Nepo


Image and Poem by Susannah Bec
For more poetry please visit Out of My Ocean

Saturday

Be More of Who You Are

"Find out who you are and do it on purpose." - Dolly Parton
Inspired by this photo taken recently in my garden, I began thinking about how we too grow where we are planted, and how we have to grow up through the chains and restriction of circumstance and upbringing to become who we are.

Some of us have it easier than others, a stable loving home, enough money, people around who understand and appreciate us and teach by example the important things of life. We learn how to love and be loved, how to find happiness in simple things and how to respect and feel good about ourselves.

Some of us seemingly sail through life, most of us don't! - for as well as the inevitable hurts, knocks and sorrows that come bundled with this package called life. . . we have ourselves to deal with.

"We work with the stuff of the soul by means of the things of life."
- Thomas Moore
We have to function through this interface called 'personality' and deal with a myriad of emotions - making allowances for all the little idiocyncrasies that come with being an individual.

Some people have it easier, their internal makeup is one pointed, walking the same road looking at the same goal, no stragglers, no wildcard to sabotage their best laid plans, no internal dichotomies to mediate. With others, learning to mediate between all the differing internal needs, urges and feelings to enable the soul to function effectively through the personality, takes work and understanding.

"My task is really not to change myself but to become familiar with who I am." - Maureen Cook
All of this, makes us such rich intricate beings and through necessity leads us on a quest of personal growth and self understanding. If we were static and if everything was always easy we wouldn't get to know ourself and our strengths and capabilities. We wouldn't develop into the complex and beautiful creatures we are.

It is by forging ourselves in the fire of life that we hone our skills and recognise our unique essence and learn the courage to express ourselves outwardly, to be authentically us.

We all have our own patterns, our own chains that we are growing through, up toward the light. So that eventually we may open our petals and bloom.

"Whatever you have learned from your own life experience,
it is time to express yourself."- Osho

Tuesday

Another Full Moon and the Reminder it Brings

"I'm going away to an unknown country where I shall have no past and no name,
and where I shall be born again with a new face and an untried heart." - Colette

Seventeen years ago, the girl I once was sat on this bench under the full moon. I was far away from where used to be called home, perched up there on a windswept clifftop, with the ocean raging below. It was toward the end of a life changing Summer, one spent close to the beach. My only personal possessions - a few clothes.

Home for those months was a tiny 10 foot caravan and the whole of a new and beautiful part of the country to explore. The coastline was wild and rugged, the sea by turns tumultous and then calm as a lake, mirrored my emotions.

"Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines,
your refrigerator full of food, your closet full of clothes - with all this taken away,
you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably
makes you
aware of who it is that is having the experience. "
- Michael Crichton

I was empty - stripped of what I thought I was.
I hadn't realised how far what I had believed constituted 'me' had stretched - out into my art, my possessions, my home, my friends and my environment - until it was all gone and there was just me.

I discovered, I stopped at my skin.

Detoxed and purged by the waterfalls of tears that had washed me clean, I was healed and opened up by living so close to the forces of nature. And there, sitting under that full Moon,
I felt I had been reborn.

I felt whole and grounded.
I was finally calm within my own skin.


I knew that it didn't matter what I had or didn't have, or who others thought I was.
I knew who I was, and I realised that that was what was truly important.

I understood that home was inside me, that 'things' didn't matter, and that the things we fear losing, are the shackles that keep us chained.

I knew that from that day on, whenever I saw the full moon I would be reminded of those things, and that everything else is just icing on the cake.

Friday

Doing What You've Always Done

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten" - Anthony Robbins

If you really think about this quote, you will realise how deeply profound this simple statement is . . .

if we do what we always do -
we will get what we've always got!

That's wonderful if what we've got is good and makes us content and happy, it is a really great blueprint for keeping the good things in your life going well - just keep doing what you are doing, it's working!

But if there are areas in our lives we recognise as not working as well as they could, then perhaps we have to recognise the truth of that statement and move out of our habitual way of doing certain things.

If we want different results, we have to try doing things a little differently and be prepared to face the sometimes scary and uncomfortable feelings that come from stepping outside of our comfort zone.

I see it as steering a car, if we constantly bump the curb, then just by making little adjustments on the steering wheel we can correct our course. If we have always wanted to see what the scenery is like over there, then we have to indicate and make a turn, or we will continue on the same road.

What a powerful realisation that is! Once you are conscious of the fact that you have a choice and that it is YOU steering the car, you just have to decide - now, where do I want to go.

"You cannot surpass the current paradigm from within the current paradigm. You must discover a greater paradigm and expand into it." - Alan Cohen

Tuesday

Many Selves - An Inner Choir

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death." - Anaïs Nin

There are moments when a chance meeting will spark up something inside of us, a stream of thought, a deep realisation that uncovers something within ourself, something intrinsic.

It happened to me yesterday . . .
It held a mirror up to my deeper self and I saw a vital part of me reflected. That recognition 'shuffled me' on an inner level, bringing a part of me that had taken a background role and planting it firmly there in the foreground. As I felt the jolt and reabsorbed that almost forgotten energy, I mused how had it had taken such a back seat and I wondered, when had it moved out of my everyday life?

I decided (too quickly) that over the years my outward self had become a diluted version of my essence. Like a voice that naturally sings bass, learning to sing soprano to harmonise with those around so they can hear what I am singing. I had tempered my expression of me, so much that it had become habitual - it was in fact now. . . me.

"There are so many separate selves;
no one who writes creatively hasn't felt that."
- Jeanette Winterson

Then, I thought further and knew that yes, that may seem to be the case but also something much bigger was going on here. I looked back and understood that all throughout my life there has been a shifting of these internal players, my very own choir! Always singing together, some are singing harmony, some descant and at certain times one steps forward to sing a solo. That is what had happened.

Different parts of me have taken centre stage over the years, depending I now realise, on what I at a core level need to learn or express right now. The assets and skills of each of these players are kept and contribute to the whole but step forward when needed.

So yesterday, a part of me that I hadn't expressed outwardly for such a long while stepped forward - and she's ready to sing a solo.

Very interesting! it looks like a new phase is about to begin.

Monday

Gone But Not Always Forgotton

"The scars you can't see are the hardest to heal." - Astrid Alauda


Sometimes we can find ourselves having reactions to things that seem to make no logical sense to us. Things 'press our buttons' or leave us feeling uncomfortable and no amount of rationalising seems to help, in extreme cases it can lead to anxiety and phobias.

It is easy to forget, that as we move through life, that everything we see, hear and experience is being logged, only a little of it makes its way into our conscious mind as the rest is discarded and dumped into our subconscious mind - gone but not always forgotton, it can still cause a reaction.

I'd like to share a story that illustrates this -

My Mother has had a lifelong fear of the sounds of church bells ringing, she gets a really panicky anxious feeling and feels real fear - she has no conscious reason for this.

She investigated all sorts, even thinking that maybe it was a 'past life' memory. Nothing helped.

She was born at the beginning of 1939 the year the war broke out, and a while ago I happened to catch a TV programme talking about England and WW2.

I was half watching while doing something else, when all of a sudden my ears pricked up as they said a very interesting thing! I don't think was common knowledge, as no one I have spoke to had heard it before.


They said that when the war started they silenced the Church bells all over the county. - It was decreed that they were only to be rung in a real emergency, as in the case of the country being invaded, when they would be rung everywhere to warn people.

They then went on to say that they were actually rung just once in 1940, as they thought invasion was imminant!

There it was - the bells! - Can you imagine the fear of the people, with a country at war and the bells ringing! I am sure my Mother picked up on the fear and anxiety that all her family and the people around must have had when they heard bells ringing!

Of course a baby is too young to rationalise but the sound of the bells and the feelings of fear from those around was logged and internalised and then replayed whenever she heard church bells.

I couldn't wait to share this with my Mum and she was so glad to have finally solved the mystery and understood "why".

I wonder how many things we have internalised and forgotten that are perhaps influencing us, our reactions and our behaviour?

Tuesday

Just a Reminder . . .

"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live."
- Flora Whittemore

"Life is the sum of all your choices." - Albert Camus

What Needs To Be Done

I think that most people at one time or another in their life, have felt the feeling of being trapped in a situation or lifesyle that is no longer making them happy.

Situations change and we do too as we evolve as people, and what may once have been a comfortable fit can start to feel claustrophobic and stifling.

What to do in a situation like that? well, the old quote comes to mind - Either change the situation or change the way you're looking at it! but the tricky part comes when you realise that YOU are the one in control and only you can make the changes.

"You've got choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore & you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice." - S D Woodhull

I once lived in a situation that I jokingly called 'my pretty prison'. Over a number of years I tried every which way to alter it from within, but in the end I knew I had to take action, so I got up, opened the 'prison' door and walked into a new life.

It wasn't easy, in fact it was one of the hardest things I have lived through but I recognised at my core that it was something I had to do. Things and people sometimes have to be dismantled before they can be reassembled in a new stronger way.

"It may be that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey." - Wendell Berry

One vital bit of advice to add, is - 'remember that you take yourself with you'. Whatever the core issue is behind your feelings, if it is stemming from your own unresolved issues, it will in time resurface to be dealt with again, and you may just find yourself in another very similar situation - we create our own prisons.

"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." - Confucius

Above all, if something is making us unhappy, or doesn't feel right, I think we owe it to ourself to change it, however uncomfortable the process may be. I don't think we should allow ourself to be miserable for a second longer than necessary, there are always choices.

The change doesn't HAVE to be anything on such a grand scale as I described above - often times a change in how we perceive our situation is enough to alleviate the tension.

"We may not be able to change what we look at, but we can always change what we see." - Alan Cohen

It is amazing how 'reality' can shift when perception does. Sometimes the thought of actually taking action and changing things, is enough to put things into perspective. By dreaming of a 'big escape' we can miss out on lots of very real treasures our life holds right now.

As a wise friend said recently "maybe we should simply ask ourselves - What needs to be done?"

What a powerful approach! - it cuts though so much.

"What needs to be done". . .

"Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those slight changes that would make all the difference." Mignon McLaughlin

Image by Susannah Bec.

Sunday

Giving and Receiving Love


Love we all need it - it is one of the fundamentals of life. Whether we get it from our partner, our friends, our community, or our pets, it is a deeply nurturing necessity of life. Equally, we also need to give love, to care for things. Receiving alone is not enough. Our need to nurture and care bring out the best in us, whether channeled into a family, a garden, our pets or humanity itself.

LOVE IS ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF LIFE

We are born needing touch, needing love, needing acceptance, and hopefully with a loving parent and family we learn that we are loveable and deserving of love, we accept it as our birthright. At this formative time, we also learn how to give love, and how to show our affection and feelings based on copying our primary caretakers, our family of origin.

"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it."- Frank A. Clark

Now this is all hunky dory, as long as the ways we copied were positive, nurturing and life affirming. Often they were not, life doesn't always work like that. Unconditional love from parent to child is an ideal but not always possible, so we don't always get to realise how loveable and deserving of love we are. Some of us may feel we have to earn love, and when we do get shown love in adult life, we somehow sabotage it, so that we can return to the inbuilt feeling that we are unloved.

"We accept the love we think we deserve." - Stephen Chbosky

So we grow up and get into relationships with others and then perhaps go on to establish our own families too. So why at times does giving and receiving love seem to cause so much trouble?

My theory is, that because of all I mentioned above, we all have different conceptions of love, different ways of showing love and different things that constitute 'being loved' for us.

Here are some examples-
  1. One person is upset about something, their inbuilt need is to be hugged and comforted and reassured that everything is going to be alright. The other person, on seeing that the first is upset, automatically thinks that they need time alone. So respecting what they think is the others need, they retreat. The first, seeing the others retreet, surmises that they don't love them, thinking "how could they walk away when I am obviously upset."

  2. One person is always tending to the others needs, delicious food, cuddles and lots of thoughtful gestures. The other cries secretly because the first never tells them they love them

  3. One person is always buying the other suprise presents, expensive and beautiful items. The other smiles but they mean nothing, they are just longing for a cuddle.

You see with these examples, that people have different ways and ideas of showing love. If we are lucky, we will share a similar expectation as to what constitutes love and we will easily see and understand the way the other gives love, and it will feel comfortable and nurturing to us. In the same way, our expressions of love need to be seen, appreciated and accepted.

WE ALL NEED LOVE

As people are often vulnerable with regard to their need for love, they often do not recognise the love that is offered, as it isn't presented in a way they recognise as 'love'. As in example 2 above, where the person is being surrounded with love but because they don't actually hear the words 'I love you' they don't recognise it.

"Just because somebody doesn't love you the way you want them to,
doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have." - Author Unknown


Obviously, if this can be recognised and understood, more of an understanding can be reached. The person who buys his loved ones expensive presents to show love (just as their parents did to them) can learn to give a cuddle to show love instead and in return, the other by recognising how the partner 'expects' love, can buy a suprise present occasionally just to say 'I love you'.

In making an effort to understand each other, it is often helpful to explore how both you and your partners family showed love as you were growing up - what feels natural to you?

By realising that there isn't just one correct way to express and experience love, it can open us up to feeling the love that we may just be missing.

How was love shown when you were growing up?

What do you need to feel loved?

Image - Love Frequency by Susannah Bec

Wednesday

Quote for Today - Be Yourself

"You cannot fail at being yourself. A cat doesn't try to be a tiger,
and you shouldn't try to be something you aren't.

You are a process, not a product.

Your job is to discover what you are and create that creature. You still won't be perfect, but success isn't about perfection - it is about authenticity.

You are a success if you are being your real, authentic self."

- Bernie Siegel

Image by Susannah Bec.

Monday

Sonic, Super Mario and Life.

Those of you familiar with the early computer games such as Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario will get the references but I am sure the rest of you will understand the analogy. :-)

So, you are a small blue hedgehog or an Italian plumber walking or running through life, collecting points, dodging obstacles, defeating monsters and completing stages to go up to another level.

Once you get the knack of the game, you start to look out for the things that may hold something special for you! They may not be obvious and may just look like another part of the scenery but if you stay open minded and explore a bit, you will get used to expecting these little treasures to be hidden throughout the route. Usually you have to go a little of the beaten path and stay open and curious, thinking "I wonder what's up there?"

When you recognise and activate the hidden 'gifts' - usually by jumping on them! you release something from inside that wasn't at all obvious - it can be a super power, extra points, even extra lives, whatever, it will be something to help you and enhance your role in the game.

As we move through our own life (whether we are ambling along enjoying the scenery or whizzing along collecting points) there are times when we too have to find a way around the obstacles, where we have to use all our strength to fight the monsters that are invariably there, and where we discover that in beating them we get access to a whole new level, we reach another stage in the game.

Sometimes though, we forget that scattered throughout our own journey are also hidden the nuggets of treasure, the wisdom and the sparkling moments that change us and give us new skills, new powers!

We all remember times when we bumped into, or were lead to things that marked a turning point, or opened up a door to a new area of exploration, these things fortify us with new insights and new energy that starts to expand our understanding.

It could be a situation, a chance remark, a quote, or a book but you will know that it is important because you will feel that tingle of recognition inside! that once it is recognised and 'jumped on' it will add to our resources and give us new tools in this game called life.

"The wise man reads both books and life itself." - Yutang Lin

So as we make our way through each stage of our life, let's not be too busy dodging the obstacles and battling the monsters to know that hidden (usually in plain sight) are little treasures that once 'jumped on' can brings us gifts. As these things often look like everyday objects and situations we have to stay open and curious, listen to our instincts and notice the tingles and hunches and never be too busy to think "I wonder what's up there".

Sunday

Nurturing Our Still Centre

Day to day living ensures that our attention gets pulled outwards as we interact with the external world and its constant stimulation. Some things whisper so quietly that they can't be heard above the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We need to nurture our still centre so we have an anchor point, a calm internal space to return to.

"Your sacred space is where you can
find yourself again and again."
- Joseph Campbell


Image: Precious Thing by sb

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