Author: Sasha

Are you practising gratitude or servitude?

In this age of having an “attitude of gratitude”, how is this approach affecting our self-worth?

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I have been joyfully grateful ever since I can remember. Thankful for being one of the souls ‘chosen’ to be incarnated on this planet. Thankful for being alive, for being me. I can remember having these thoughts and feelings from the age of around five.

I remember thinking how lucky everyone was to be alive, not just me. I was struck by how miraculous it was that I was the chosen sentient being inside this body, and not some other soul.

I was filled with a sense of wonder at having this opportunity on earth. I somehow knew the odds were enormous that I existed at all!

Everything I did was fuelled by this joy and seen through this lens. Even as a five year old, I knew life was to be celebrated, enjoyed – a reward for beating such incredible odds for simply being born.

I carried that perspective through into adulthood. For decades, I have had an enormous appreciation that I wake up in my own home, with clean water always available. That I can keep warm or find shade from the elements, eat fresh food and access medical care when I need it.

I am deeply thankful that I have my beloved family and friends around me. I am so aware that I am lucky to be born in a country that is democratic and allows free speech. The list goes on and on…

I can always see what there is to be thankful for, or appreciative of, even in very challenging situations.

In this blog, I’m looking at what happens when a “thank you” for a simple, kind offering becomes an urgent “Oh wow! Thankyousomuch-that’s so kind of you – thank you!” for the same offering.

Now, I am a stickler for “please-s” and “thank you-s”. If either are not forthcoming, I will fall back on that most British of reprimands; the tut (yes I know, my wrath is a sight to behold).

However, there is a place for a simple thank you and a place for a more profound offering of gratitude.

By the time I had been in a serious relationship for a while, I had lost sight of the difference. I was beginning to be grateful for anything and everything. My wildly fervent ‘thank you’s’ were becoming a knee jerk reaction to anything sent my way. It was my way of proving how much I appreciated “all that was done for me”.

My inborn level of gratitude had distorted into a form of servitude. I was just too grateful for everything.

I’m certainly not suggesting we stop being thankful or showing gratitude, far from it.  I think appreciating what you have in each and every circumstance is crucial to a happier life.  My question is – ‘how far are you taking your gratitude?’  Why are you saying thank you? Is a low sense of self-worth driving your grautitude?

There is a fine line between healthy appreciation and unhealthily desperate gratitude. Back then, I had stepped way over that line and was showing gratitude above and beyond what was appropriate.

When a cup of tea was made for me, I offered gratitude more in keeping with someone returning stolen money. If anyone bought me a bar of chocolate, I would respond as though they had brought me the key to eternal life. (Some would say chocolate amounts to the same thing, but that’s a different matter).

cuppa and biscuits

The point is that I was overly grateful (often pitifully so) for normal interactions with people. Behind the scenes, I was being starved of interaction, love and connection, which drove my need for recognition even deeper.

The consequence of my overt gratitude was that the people around me began to unconsciously agree with me.  They came to believe what my behaviour was implying; i.e. that I should be grateful for anything that comes my way.

I was schooling others to be Kings and Queens and myself to be a “grateful servant”.

In my mind, I wasn’t worth the rewards I was craving. I had unconsciously taken off my crown and chosen to be subservient.

By my thirties, I believed I should be monumentally grateful for everything – eye contact during conversation, a magazine bought for me, a cup of tea in a café. You name it, I was grateful for it.

Except I wasn’t actually grateful.

At least, not in the way I thought I was.

I wasn’t so much feeling grateful, I was feeling scared. Scared that I was invisible, scared that I wasn’t “enough”.

This wasn’t gratitude I was expressing, it was relief.

Relief that I had been seen, that I was ‘worth’ the effort in some way. Relieved that my efforts had been acknowledged, even for that moment.

Back then, my self-worth was so low that any small act of kindness from anyone would plunge me into a state of intense gratitude. Being THAT grateful, way beyond what was appropriate was disempowering.

If our self-worth is low, we find it difficult to receive kind or loving offerings. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cup of tea or a diamond ring, the result is the same. When low self-worth is an issue, we never truly feel we deserve the good things in life.  This drives us to crave the love and recognition we need (even though we don’t think we deserve it). And so the cycle continues.

If we can find a way to break the cycle, we can learn to truly receive positive things coming our way.  When we realise that we are not servants, but equals and as such, deserve the same recognition, fulfilment and love as everyone else – then we can pick up our crown and place it back on our head. Where it shines brightest.

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From captivity to untamed: how we get our mojo back

When women ask me what a “wild woman” is, I offer the understanding that she is all of us.  We are all wild (underneath our civilised personae). We all have this juicy energy pulsing deep within us.

Many of us have buried this energy so deep we forget how it feels. We become dry, parched, famished. The inner critic reigns supreme and we are silently on fire. This is the opposite of our wild nature.

Today I came across a list I had written some months ago.  It’s an amalgamation of wisdom from books and living my life (so far!). It’s a list that offers the captive wild woman some ideas to untame herself – to find her way back to herself, running, crawling, leaping, screaming.

I’m sure many other ideas will be added over time…

What will you add to the list?

 

How to untame yourself

Refuse addictive anaesthetics

Cast off the need to be A Good Girl

Settle issues that paralyse you

Repair any instincts injured from repressing your needs

Recognise if your soul is famished for nutrition – feed your soul – hydrate your soul

Let go of Famished Friends who collude with inner critics or anaesthetics

Reconnect with your body – reunite and forge a loving relationship with it

Be around those who give and receive soul-food

When meeting people, listen to your inner wolf…she will know.

Remember that there are trillions of ways to live, love and be loved

Be around those who are honest from love and without judgement

Create and honour your boundaries

Seek out other soul-travellers who are luminous

Assess people with your senses – use your belly and breasts as the sensitive receivers that they are

Dissolve your isolation gently but continually

Listen for and honour your own rythmns

Discover or remind yourself how you like to move, to eat, to talk, to play

Practise being untamed, undomesticated

Bare your she-wolf incisors when you need to

Your wild woman speaks to you often – listen tenderly

 

With my love and wild blessings x

 

 

How our loss gave hope to others

Hello Gorgeous Souls,

I guess you could call this one of those “full discolosure” pieces. I took some time to decide if I was ready to offer up such a raw part of my life.  At the age of 43 I have had my fair share of highs and lows – joy and grief so it seems appropriate to reflect that here.

I’ll be completely honest, it’s scary. Scary to be so open, so vulnerable and risk everything that comes with it. So I’m sending this out with love and trust that it will reach the people who need it.

Much of the detail of what happened day to day hasn’t been written about (yet). That may happen in time but for now, I’m able to share this with a peaceful heart.

This is blog post about the challenges of loss and the healing power of love. It’s about how the power of genuine love can create a legacy that continues to support others now and in the future. It’s about finding solace and healing in the small things. More than anything else, what follows is a short memoir of an incredible friendship that was fuelled by joy, respect and an unbreakable bond…

 


It’s been just over six years since I lost my beautiful friend to cancer.

She was everything you’d want a best friend to be – funny, caring, honest, reliable and understanding.  We’d known each other for eleven years and although we’d been through a few ups and downs (like any close relationship), we felt lucky to have found each other. She could make me laugh even when I was in the depths of despair – a rare and precious thing indeed.

Ten years into our friendship, we had notched up many adventures together but we had no idea that the most challenging one was just around the corner. When she was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2010, the shock reverberated through us all.  While I refused to comprehend the possibility of a life without her, she was far more philosophical about it. She didn’t fall to pieces or hide under the nearest duvet (as I would have done in her position).  Instead, she urged me to carry on as before – have fun, get out and see the world, go on more of our adventures together.  What else could I do but venture by her side, admiring her courage?

With each visit to the medical experts, the eyes of those who had seen it all before began to silently signal a dark truth.  They spoke neutral words but their eyes spoke the subtext. They knew it, we knew it – but no-one acknowledged any of the lurking gloom.  That suited us, quite frankly… we wanted to keep everything as normal as possible for as long as possible.  We all wanted to preserve what we had until we had no choice.

One evening during April, after another battery of test results came through, something in our awareness of the illness shifted.  Nothing was said, but she and I both seemed to understand that she may not beat this illness after all.  Our previously determined attitudes softened into an unspoken, heavy air of resignation. The cancer was growing and the tests showed no response to the treatment.

That evening, we decided to go for a walk together and chose a route that we’d taken many times before and meant a short drive in the car.  As I helped her into the car, I remember a sense that it could be our last proper walk together. As we drove slowly along the winding roads, a song called “Greatest Day” by Take That was playing on the radio. I’d never taken musch notice of it before but that night, the lyrics jumped out at me…

“Today this could be, the greatest day of our lives
Before it all ends, before we run out of time
Stay close to me,
Stay close to me
Watch the world come alive tonight
Stay close to me…”

It was twilight and the sun was radiating beautiful colours through the sky as we arrived. I helped her from the car and we began our walk along the shoreline. By now, she couldn’t walk very far or with any pace, so we stopped often – taking in the sunset, inhaling the breeze as it skimmed off the calm waters. I took a photo of her gazing out to sea as she stood on the promenade.  The sea breeze helped distract her from her illness and she seemed almost hypnotised by it that evening. The picture I took came out grainy and dark, but it’s one of my most precious memories of her to this day.

When the dreaded time came in late June, she was all the things I knew she would be; brave, calm but utterly exhausted.  The day she died was warm, sunny and full of summer energy which felt so at odds with what was happening. As the life left her frail, thin body, I clung to her and howled into the ether. She was gone, leaving just a faint resemblance of her shape.

I couldn’t comprehend the finality of what had just happened. No more battling to beat the cancer, no more fun, no more Her.  I was livid.  How dare the world keep turning? Why was everything carrying on as if nothing had happened?

The grief I experienced over the next few days was terrifying.  I was left breathless by the pain, the searing, clawing pain that tormented me in the hours and days that followed her death.  I buried myself in her things – inhaling her scent, sobbing, railing against the world for stealing my friend, even angrier with myself for not preventing it. The sheer force of my grief was overwhelming me and I was frightened that I would break from it all.

During those days, the only thing that offered solace was a flower remedy. A tiny, glass container filled with the life force of a plant.  On paper, it seems ludicrous.  In the real world, I knew the potency of these remedies and I knew I needed them.  I took a couple of drops of Star of Bethlehem – within a few minutes, my the ragged edges of my grief smoothed a little. After another dose, my grief was still very much present, but not in danger of overwhelming me anymore.

The flower remedy allowed me to grieve, to let that natural process continue and yet, to also cope with it all.  I used Star of Bethlehem for many days after she died. It kept me sane and allowed me to mourn. I am eternally thankful for that “little” remedy.

A year on, I was dreading the approaching first anniversary of her death.  Her absence still hurt and although flower remedies had accompanied me along that rocky path of bereavement, I wasn’t looking forward to the fresh pain.  I had clung fiercely to the prettily decorated box of her ashes all year – as though I could make her reappear through sheer force of will.

The day itself brought the expected tears, a return to the place we took our last walk together and lots of memories.  It also brought a bittersweet sense of letting her go. The anniversary of her death allowed me to celebrate her, her life, her memory.  I chose that date to donate to The Battersea Dogs Home in her memory, pledging to her that I would donate to them every year, in her name.

Battersea were her saviours during her first year and I have always been incredibly grateful to them.  I’ll never forget when I met her there for the first time – we clicked immediately and we became partners in crime from that day. Her name was Roxy and she was a one year old crossbreed in need of rehoming. She was magnificently crazy, hilarious, loving and brave in equal measure.

During her lifetime, she  gently broke hearts open and taught people to trust, to love and to care in ways they had never felt able to. We have kept our promise to donate to Battersea on each anniversary of her death. In her name, the lives of animals and people are given hope every day.  I’d call all that a pretty amazing legacy.

Below is the photo I took of her on the promenade as she gazed out to sea, during our final walk together. Bless you Darling Roxy – We miss you and feel privileged to have been part of your twelve beautiful years on this earth.

Roxy gazing out to sea at Reculver, June 2010

The Flow of Intention

During a creation phase of the Wild Woman course, I found myself stuck at a certain point. After a while of wrestling with my creative muses, I grabbed paper and pen and bounded out to the garden. I wanted to know what I needed from this course – what we ALL needed from this course.

There I stood, bare feet planted firmly on the ground, waiting to find out…

Slowly, the words came to me… and I have reproduced them here just as they appeared that afternoon. It felt raw, scary and exciting as they tumbled onto the pages!

So here’s what I wrote on that hot summer’s day in the garden – my message in a bottle to you – my early, raw vision for us and this course:

I WANT…
To heal
To grow
To become
To learn not to be nice all the time
To hear and act on my inner truth
To cultivate resilience
To find and wear my crown of self-respect, self-worth, self-love
To Reclaim my wild woman heritage
To unclench
To break open
To soften
To drum my heart into joy
To be an elemental being
To be magic
To gather my pieces together
To shine my energy from my solar plexus
To stop the madness set at women’s throats and bodies every day
To return to body acceptance, no… love, no… worship
To transcend compacting limitations
To open myself to vulnerability
To return to tenderness in the [She Wolf] Pack
To plant myself in the rich soil
To stretch our leaves and fruit to the sun and moon
To sing, speak, cry and shout without censorship
To fan and stoke the fire in my belly
To pulsate with the earth’s heartbeat and blood in our veins
To stand on hills and mountains, dive into caves and pools, hug branches as we climb trees
To get my hands into soil and grow
To drum, paint, sing, stomp myself into being
To see myself as the work of art that I am
To eat with passion
To celebrate my wild soul
To howl together
To return to the global pack
To sing over my own bonesmessage in a bottle
To tell the stories of my ancestors so that we may learn
To fully live, in love with who I am and who we are
To learn what to trust
To hear my own voice
To live in rhythm
To be really, truly HERE.