Friday, May 7, 2021


 A couple of years ago when I attended an Ayurveda Retreat in Kerala, India, I was asked immediately to fill out quite a long form related to my medical and emotional health. After that, two medical doctors invited me into their rooms wherein they measured this and that, felt this and that. They listened to my heart and looked into my eyes. All the while, they said things to one another in their own language. They went over the answers I had written on the long form and then they asked for clarification or elaboration of several of them.

It felt to me that they focused in on my answers related to my state of mind. I recall sharing two important snippets into my life. I shared that my husband could be exasperating. Dr Molly waved this away. This was the way of the world, she said. This was marriage!

This led me to share the other area of anxiety. I worried about getting cancer. There was no need to worry about this, she told me. I was a very healthy woman. Everything was fine. I was given two supplements to take morning and night, as was everyone else it seemed to me. Other than that, did I have ailments to report?

Yes, one. I experience a tight neck on my left side. I was told she would have the therapist focus in on this area of my body. They would fix it, not to worry.

I was given a few instructions. I was not to eat cold food at night. Well, there was no cold food at night anyway, other than dessert. Not too much salad at lunch. Dr Molly couldn't understand why I ate the salad at all. It is not enough food. No, really, I assured her. I loved the salad. She waved at the air. What can you do?

Each day the protocol was for me to come and see Dr Molly. She wanted to know of bowel movements and sleep activity. Then, she said something to the physical therapist and off I went to be massaged in some spectacularly heavenly way for a couple of hours. There were other clients ready with a list of complaints and she saw no reason to prolong our daily visitation.

It was Dr Molly, and no one else, before or since, that put into my mind that I was actually a well person. It was a very liberating thought.

In my childhood I experienced considerable ill health. There were the usual colds but I also had some sort of blockage in my ducts around my ears. This went away by itself, I think. 

I developed osteomyelitis  in a knee as a teenager at the time when I was boarding with a friend's family, when my parents went to the country to manage a business. In my second year of University I developed a benign cyst in my breast that needed to be removed. And, right after having my second child, the osteomyelitis came back.

It all seemed random, bad luck, but these days I have suspicions around the anxiety I was experiencing and the interconnection of those rather serious bouts of bad health and the way my life unfolded as part of the family into which I had been born. I can never know, for sure. What I was left with was a sense of uncertainty around my lifespan that I had trouble shaking, but Dr Molly put my worries to rest.

Of course, at the retreat I was offered only vegetarian fare and this sits well with me and suits me. I had had to go cold turkey at my first retreat five or six years ago, no meat, no caffeine, no alcohol.  I believe in a plant based diet; a little fish and even a little less meat and eggs. I keep processed foods to an absolute minimum because I feel terrible when I eat them.

Maybe I will and maybe I won't live a long life. It feels far more likely to me now that I will have a long life. My mother is still alive. The worry about all that is gone now.

For the longest time, I lived in denial of my emotional wasteland. What I mean by that is that I didn't allow, or didn't even know how to explore my range of feelings. When the emotional pain came to the surface, it was like a tsunami. It threatened to take me down. Since I was forced to do something about it or perish, I did.

There were no easy answers but rather a perilous adventure where I fully explored the trauma, the causes of it; how it felt from every angle. I went deep into the trauma. I may have gone too far, places I didn't need to navigate, but perhaps the depth of the investigation contributed to the healing. To say I understand the meaning of the term 'the dark night of the soul' is to put it lightly.

I am still investigating meditation for the traumatized person because I wonder if it could have been an easier path, and if so, how others can have an easier ride.

Deepak Chopra, in all his great wisdom, might say that embodiment isn't so important since there is no mind or body but simply consciousness, but I feel embodiment was key; feeling into the emotions felt in the body as well as being aware of the space of the body, the space around the body. I wasn't used to that. Until I explored it, my emotional life and the way it interacted with the physical body was quite closed to me.

A vital step was self love; tapping into the traumatized (neglected) child part of me; literally rescuing her from a place where, when I met with her she was always sad and inert; silent. (It was so enriching later to read of people who experienced their inner child in exactly the same way.)

I have now heard a few people say that you should meditate until you don't really need to meditate; that is to say, until your life is a meditation, and I subscribe to that. You have to let the body and mind rest and settle. You need to find those internal states of bliss, satisfaction, happiness, contentedness. You have to experience joy more and more; the taste of your coffee; the sense of being at One, One.

When you can let go of certain outcomes; of being hard on yourself, judging others, trying to engineer great results, the mind appreciates this. Kindness to self and others becomes the default. You are all in this together. You are all walking each other home. You are just the observer of this moment, resting in the moment, however it goes. Everything, let's face it, is fundamentally okay in nearly all our moments. As someone once put it to me, oh so long ago, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

It would be laughable to suggest I don't think thoughts and plan. Right now I am thinking I best move off and get ready for an event tonight. I haven't thrown my hands up and left it all to the pixies to arrange life. I have, nonetheless, found a space in which I can most often rest in equanimity; a hard fought win.

Friday, February 12, 2021

The 'bimbo' Part

 I've been doing some free guided meditations on Insight Timer where Dick Schwartz takes the listener on some experiences connecting in with their Parts. In one meditation we were taken on a walk and encouraged to just go alone if possible, to leave our Parts at the beginning of the trail. If you are watching yourself rather than being on the trail aware of your surroundings, then a Part has come along, so he encouraged us to ask the Part to go back and wait at the entrance of the Trail.

It didn't take me more than a few minutes, even less, to realize that when I am out in nature, or even in the city but have walked long enough in a state of peace, I am alone with my Self. No Parts are with me. How do I know? There isn't any meaningful chatter in my head. I'm not devising To Do lists. I am not immersed in memory or the future. I am in the Now, aware of the trees, the twittering of birds. I am in my body, settled, secure; needing nothing. 

In the best of times, I am completely at peace. When I was in Peru on the trail, or in Telluride walking up to Bear Falls, I experienced this profoundly. It is said that when a meditator experiences pure Awareness, all they want to do is to experience it again. Yes, I have experienced Awareness in meditation, but moreso in Yoga or on trails, or walking through the coastal town I visit, stopping to stare at the ocean at certain vantage points. 

I have also experienced a complete sense of harmony, peace and tranquillity in the 'bimbo' state. Look at the c's of Selfhood - curiosity, creativity, confidence, connection,  compassion, courage, calmness, clarity. All of these qualities have been available to me in the bimbo state.

I wrote myself a diary note this morning. I wrote this:

"I think 'bimbo' is a hurt Part. She felt it was dangerous, could easily be hurt, had been hurt - so she/it became an exile - even though I now see she is a part of the Self - creative, connected, courageous, confident.

She felt rejected, more than once , and retreated - first with a soul destroying sense of loneliness and abandonment...and then the Protector took over - don't let this ever happen to you again.

And yet, 'bimbo' was a Part of feeling confident, a sense of Awareness, happiness, embodied, in the body. And, connected. When the lack of connection happened, she lost trust."

I have tended to think of attachment injuries as those that happen to young children. But, this Part of me suffered an attachment injury and became an exile... carried the beliefs and thoughts that stuck to me, as Dick Schwartz would say, "like a virus". The Protector part was able to convince 'bimbo' that she wasn't a good thing; that she needed to stay small, safe; invisible. 

It's tricky still, in my mind, because bimbo, that sexual part of me that wants to submit and experience that type of Awareness, or maybe I should say sexual Selfhood, is reliant on the Selfhood of a partner. It actually takes two people operating from the Self, the Higher Self, for this to work.

This is a tall order and yet it feels hopeful today. I was definitely onto something.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Parts of ourselves

 I am not certain if I have written in the blog before about my reading into the human being made up of Parts. You would know instinctively that you are made up of parts but probably haven't given it much conscious attention. So, sometimes it might feel like you are feeling and operating from a small part, perhaps a wounded part and at other times it might feel like you are operating from a Higher Part; from a place of curiosity, calm, care, compassion, creativity.

I am very aware of these two operating systems. To simplify things, sometimes I am operating from my Heart Space and sometimes I am caught up in my own mind stream and in the environment around me; that is, how others are behaving and managing their Parts.

I've been following a Compassion Summit this week. This was another opportunity to follow along with Dick Schwartz as he explained the Parts of ourselves and how he goes about working with a client.

Let's start with the Inner Critic. Dick says this is the place to start; to find it in the body. Go ahead and identify where the Inner Critic sits inside you. Chances are you will find it in your head, as he says, although I felt that my Inner Critic rested in my bones. Maybe that is to stay that my Inner Critic is embodied deep in me. 

Just a word about that. My research into the caretaker mode of living, the submissive, if you will, the empathic entity in a relationship, provided abundant evidence that the Inner Critic resides wholeheartedly in such people and dominates their motivations.

How did I feel about it, was the question? The woman asked responded that she didn't like it, but I'd say more. I am tired of that critic; tired of her pushing me around; criticizing me and putting me down. It's the nastiest of parent figures; teachers; other girls; society at large. I can't begin to tell you how maddening I find her; how relentless her voice; how tired I am of her domineering ways.

Dick then explained that this Inner Critic, this voice, is a young and wounded Part; a burdened Part. Beliefs and thoughts we gathered over time have stuck to this wounded part, "like a virus". They are attachment injuries and traumas. Once hurt, we decided to leave these Parts, just because they got hurt. These are the exiles. So, your Inner Child, may well be exiled; she's vulnerable, little, so easy prey.

What did my Inner Critic say to me? Oh la la! What didn't she say?

You aren't assertive enough.

You aren't social enough.

You aren't sexually assertive.

You aren't a go-getter.

You aren't creatively productive enough.

Looking at the list, my Inner Critic simply didn't like me, as I happen to be.

Now, here's the explanation that rocked the boat enough for me to sit up and realize exactly what had happened.

"If the Inner Critic can convince you you're not any good, you can stay small, safe; invisible."


So, we have these Managers. They manage everything about our lives. They have exacting standards. It's the Managers, trying to keep you safe that say such things as

Don't go out unless you look perfect.

Excel at everything you do.

However, despite the tireless work of the Managers (Inner Critic) the world breaks through these defenses and triggers our exiles. Now you are pulled back into those old scenes that you tried to keep buried. Again, you are flooded with those horrible feelings: feeling little and defenseless, worthless, not good enough; not pretty enough...It's an endless list.

The work is that of unburdening. As an example, if one says, I can't write, interrogate that thought. If I don't write, even though I want to, because the Inner Critic is telling me I can't write, go ahead and write. Get curious and creative about writing.

At out essence we all have Buddha nature. If we can create an open space, another person, the Self, or the Higher Self pops out and knows what to do.

In my own words, I think it comes down to what Brene Brown said years ago. It's all about vulnerability, going into the arena and being prepared to fail. It's human to fail sometimes. Why did we think the earth would swallow us when we do?

Do you remember Russell Crowe's character in 'A Beautiful Mind'? Ultimately, he tells his two imaginary friends who are telling him what to do, sometimes supposedly keeping him safe and sometimes demanding he do what he should not (think excessive eating, drinking, sex, drugs) that they are no longer welcome.

Show your Inner Critic the door. You are wiser, bolder, better, more mature and evolved than you ever dreamed to imagine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


When we are young we very wisely adapt to our circumstances to stay safe and to have the protection of adults. We make use of strategies quite instinctively according to our particular circumstances. Perhaps one learns as a child to be agreeable, or not to ask for anything, or to melt into the background. At the time, that's wise.

However, the very same strategies that kept us safe as a child are not useful to us as adults. Without being able to advocate for ourselves without the burden of thoughts such as we mustn't make a fuss, or to be seen is dangerous, or maybe we are not worthy of more, we put ourselves in dangerous situations.

It was a shock to my system to finally realize, after some particularly abhorrent behavior, that I had grown up in a narcissistic family model. Both parents were self involved, and I realized that some time ago, but I hadn't been willing to see that my only sibling was narcissistic too, taking what he could get, colluding with our mother for more. It took a series of lies, and of trying to turn the tables on me to see that he was dangerous to me. 

It took finally taking in completely that my mother's sister was her 'flying monkey' and that communication with her needed to be ceased completely and immediately.

Nearly a month after what  I refer to as 'the cafe scene', I visited my mother in the Aged Care home and brought her dog, whom I had been minding for the neighbor she gave it to whilst they were on holiday.

It was a tender sort of meeting, the two of us. She wanted to talk about the above event, and I said that I was in no place to do so. But, I did correct an impression she had made up that I said she was a bad mother. I said no such thing, merely reminding her that day, that when she said she had done all these things for me, that I said it was a two way relationship and that I had done many things for her over the course of my life.

She told me said loved me, an extraordinarily rare statement from her, and I said, "I love you too. Always have". And, I hugged her.

She called my brother and asked him to come over. I was quiet. He arrived and was immediately hostile. I was incredibly upset and tears started to fall. But, I held my ground. I said to them both that I wanted nothing to do with my aunt, and that anything they wanted to say to me, they should say it directly from now on. When my brother pushed at me, using all sorts of narcissistic strategies that were obvious to me, I was ready for them.

Finally, I told them, that the argument they had used in their heads, that of rich v poor was bogus. Did they know my finances? Had they asked? I put them straight on that. And then  I added, 'This isn't about rich and poor, mate, this is about the fact that you ask for things, and I never entertained that option.'

To have expectations that people will treat you well is not realistic. Some people will treat you well and some people will not treat you fairly or well. We live and learn but to really learn something is to put it into practice, and now I know who I can trust and who I cannot. They may be my birth family but I cannot trust them. This is my reality. Yes, they were damaged. I can feel for them in that sense and have compassion but to put myself in harm's way again would be stupid. This is life.

It's no small thing to come to acceptance of this situation. I don't sleep well as yet. My mind returns to conversations and definitely not at my invitation. And yet, I have good people in my life. I am still capable of seeing beauty and kindness about me.  I still have the capacity to love and be loved. I, and you, can heal, mature; live good lives.

Monday, December 28, 2020


The details aren't important to this entry about my emotional state (I write to process my emotions), but to give the reader some context a couple of years ago my only sibling was supposedly lent a large sum of money by our mother. Recently I asked the status of that loan and was told that the loan had been forgiven. I need not worry, I was told because an amount, exactly half the amount of the borrowing, had been put aside in the Will for me.

I worked on the basis that a mistake had been made. I approached my brother about it and he tried to confuse me with twisted accounting. I doubted myself and thought of it from every angle until I asked my older son to confirm what I knew. It was rubbish. My brother had no alternative but to concede. He was confusing two things, he said. As far as I was concerned, I had learned at school that the amount on either side of an equal  sign had to be the same, and so had he. It was deeply disappointing.

Assuming that this error in his mathematical thinking had resulted in an erroneous entry in the Will I approached my mother about it. Bare in mind, I am not young and so I represent my four children on these matters. When my mother wants back up for bad behavior she has her younger sister sit in and it was during this conversation that the thinking that went into this decision was laid out on the table.

Nearly 25 years ago, my husband had seen what he thought was a great business opportunity and my mother thought so too because she invested some of her money in the same stock. The opportunity fizzled and they both lost out on the stock, in the same way that my mother won heavily on some stock that I acquired for her. That's the game. There are winners and losers every day.

For a time, my husband and I were in financial difficulty over the decisions made then and although we paid back to her most of what we borrowed from my mother during that 'opportunity', there was a sum my husband didn't pay back. It was never discussed, not once in nearly 25 years, although it seems that my brother was given an amount equal to that sum, to square things up. It never sat well with me. I knew my mother's mind. But, I think my husband thought it was over. We'd been very generous to her over the many years since. We had her to stay for a month at a time when living in the US and she had stayed with us countless times in our home here. I have accompanied her to endless medical appointments, shopped for and with her. Even I had come to think that the borrowing had been forgiven.

Perhaps it is this borrowing that assisted in me not looking at or caring about the money that went my brother's way. My mother and he shared a business that my father bought shortly before his death (no, no-one thought about a business for me) and when capital expenditure/investment took place from my mother's personal account into their business for which I would not receive a penny, my eyes barely flickered at the talk. 

So, back to the talk about the erroneous mathematics.  The two broads sitting opposite me very quickly explained (well, my aunt spoke on my mother's behalf; a twisted sort of 'It's not my business, but your mother...' dynamic) that there was no mistake. Remember the money that my husband had not paid back nearly 25 years?, they had deducted that off the tab, and the rest, well, who cares about equality? Never mind that my brother was inheriting land that would result in vast wealth, we were still quibbling about a small amount from a quarter of a century ago.

I have had many conversations with myself since this encounter. Is this, in my mind, about money, or love? Is this about loyalty? Am I putting some stock in all this junk because we didn't/don't get hugs; am never told 'I love you'? Has it always been some sick Irish joke about power?

For many years, I told myself to hang on. If I could just get to the end of my mother's life without thinking about it too much; maintain a 'grey rock' non emotional approach to her and her antics, I would be fine. Let the world think she is a sweet little old lady. Where's the harm? I have my own family. I am loved dearly by them, so why not?

The facts seem to be, however, that narcissistic nasty oriented people actually live long lives. They hold grudges forever. Thinking about themselves, they seem to be insured in some way; able to withstand the damage incurred to body and soul of the person who is empathic and forgiving; who turns the other cheek and goes on offering love and kindness.

Back in 2011 when I went to a psychologist one of her first questions was about the relationship with my mother. I was in complete denial and assured her it was fine, except for the fact that she never said a good word about my husband (and we have been together now for 44 years). I assured her I could handle it.

However, nearly a decade later, I realize I was wrong. I can't handle it. Last year, when I saw another psychologist, an older man, I described my surviving birth family. He was very quiet and eventually said, 'There's no value for you there.' He told my husband that my trips to my mother were 'very destructive' for me. Still, I battled on, playing the role of the dutiful daughter that had been assigned to me.

A week on from the scene at a cafe where they laid out their thesis - we don't believe in equality and we don't forget, and by the way, we don't like your husband - I find I don't sleep much. And then it occurred to me early this morning that what I was experiencing was red hot anger; not that I had been dealt this hand, but that I had stayed in the game so long with such a losing hand.

I hadn't thought that I could actually make the decision of going 'no contact' and stick with it. And yet, I had been moving along this trajectory. My mother is in a place where her needs are met. She has her beloved son (who can't stand her) near by, for now. My aunt visits her all the time. I had been taking her home for a few days at a time but she would get ugly when I returned her to the home. I don't actually have to do this. I can get on with my life.

Who knew? I can get on with my own life.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Anxiety and self care

 We were traveling together, my brother and I, on our way to transact some family business when he chose to share with me that he had begun medication for his anxiety. We had never referred to him as being an anxious person and whilst I could see that he was sometimes uptight and stewing over something or other, it hadn't occurred to me that he would feel the need to medicate his angst.

It turns out that his mind was always racing; always troubled by perhaps a small thing such as misplacing something, to the big things like the state of the world, and all things in between. As soon as he described this inner world to a doctor he had scripts in his hand; one to dull down the activity of his mind and the other to get him to have some uninterrupted sleep.

Apparently, the medication has helped him beyond measure. I am seeing the benefits of medication for anxiety, though I have never taken medication for anxiety myself and nor has anybody suggested that I do.

I wouldn't say that my mind stream is always comfortable, not at all. What I have learned to do is not to let it carry me away, with the odd exceptional experience. The thoughts are there but I approach them with curiosity and sort of listen in to the voice in the head. 

Sometimes I consciously choose to alter the thoughts. If it feels like that voice is getting too worked up or going down a path that does not look like the right one for me (much as you might be walking in nature and find yourself having to decide which path to choose), I adjust the thoughts. 

I might choose to simply let go of the thoughts, to adjust them in another direction. Or, I might interrogate them. A question like, 'Is this true?' can help. I might simply note the kind of thought that is trying to grab my attention. I might say, for example, 'Isn't this that old tale of not feeling loved/respected/adored/taken advantage of?' (as appropriate to the thought).

If I feel in immediate danger, not physical danger but the sort of danger where one feels derailed inside, I consciously choose to offer myself some sort of remedy. The remedy I go to most often is to offer myself the gift of consciously being aware of my breathing; noticing each nuance of the breath; the pace, the sense of the breath traveling through the body, the feeling of peace beginning to resonate in the body; a slower breath. This is an act of self-love and this always feels right; calming.

For several months, the personal challenges have been circling me. I have needed to put my mother into an Aged Care facility. I have needed to make use of a Power of Attorney written 22 years ago to establish my mother's finances and how to pay for this facility. I have needed to address the relationship with my brother and my aunt who have had more knowledge of these matters than me over the years. 

Although my mother chose this facility and this course of action, each time I take her home for a few days I go through the same traumatic experience. At some point, usually the day before she goes back, she becomes hostile towards me and my brother. Although there is no other choice (she has Lewy Body dementia) and we can't leave her on her own for even a couple of hours, we walk her through her choices so that she can arrive at the same conclusion as always; there is no other choice. 

We're not the first family to go through this situation. But when we ask something like, 'How are you feeling?' and she answers 'Who would care how I feel?' or she says to someone 'If they only tried harder I could live in my own home', it hurts. The only answer is self-love; offering yourself that moment of grace where you acknowledge that you are doing the best you can; that this is hard and you need a moment for yourself.

When you need medication to settle the mind and body down, then you need it. I think medication is necessary for some people in some situations. But, I can't imagine it for myself. I do think it would be wonderful for anxieties to feel further away; that the body is less reactive to triggers. On the other hand, I also believe we can learn to do this work without the chemical invasion.

For several months, I have had next to no privacy or personal time for myself. COVID led to a full house; more house bound work; more need to converse with others; less yoga and meditation time. Yet, in a few moments, I can maintain care for myself. 

- Follow the breath

- Listen to the thought stream; be curious; investigate the thoughts.

- Offer yourself the love, attention and respect you need. Don't wait for someone else to give this to you.

In Australia, the phrase 'Life wasn't meant to be easy' was made famous by a politician, of all people. People made fun of him for saying it, but he was right. Only a fool would believe that life was meant to be easy. Life on this planet is full of challenges. We are designed for challenge. We are designed for loss. Grief is something we must all go through. Dying is something we all face.

To believe we can engineer perfect solutions is a fool's game. We can, however, choose to act from a place of love and peace. We can aim to do the best for others but we need to remember that we also need to take care of ourselves. I heard someone refer to this as 'Goddess time'. I loved that.

You might like to try crossing your hands over your heart and listening to the beating of your heart. Yes, my dears, you too deserve your attention, love and care.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Thy life's a miracle

 Since I can't vote in the US election, like everybody except American citizens, one is left to watch, hope and pray that American citizens will take their responsibility, and their opportunity, seriously to return the world back to some sort of balance, harmony and unity.

I happened to meet someone out walking yesterday and we were saying how lucky we are to be Australians. We conform to rules. We accept lock downs in an effort to keep the vulnerable safe. We care about others. We do things for the greater good. 

In my city we have been under curfew for months. Right now, the curfew has been eased so that we can be out of our houses for a few specific and vital reasons until 9 pm. 'That wouldn't fly here,' said an American friend.

The friend in the street agreed that the Greeks wouldn't tolerate it either. But, apart from a bit of grumbling here and there, we are tolerant of the restrictions. We see the point, the plan; the reasoning, based on best medical advice.

My friend happened to have a pet emergency last night and as he drove to have the dog operated on, across several suburbs, he met not another car on the street. Honestly, we comply.

I admit I am nostalgic right now for a better America. (American was my home for 11 years and I love the place.) I watched the whole SBS 'Hillary' documentary this week, and interviews with various members of the Bush family. What kind and decent people they are, and Laura and  George produced two really 'beautiful in spirit' young women.

Then, I spent time yesterday afternoon watching Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg in conversation at a few law schools. She was so considerate and gentle with the students, so well aware that behind all her decisions were people. I loved the line, 'You can disagree without being disagreeable.'

Anything that divides masses of people, anything at all, is really such a bad idea. It goes against the law of mankind, people living together on the one planet; that you treat people as you would want them to treat you. It's that simple. Haven't we learned this over the centuries a hundred times over?

Who actually wants a man like Donald Trump as their leader? The lies, the accusations, the false statements; the vendettas; the thirst for love and approval displayed on the world stage. Which other President of the United States in modern time has even come close to creating such acrimony, such division; such disgust?

On a spiritual level, the World Wide Web created the opportunity for the West to learn about the open hearted kindness, gratitude and tranquility practices of the East. It felt hopeful. Imagine if people across the Globe developed awareness! Imagine all the people, living life in peace!

I do feel we are at a crossroads. There are people so fearful for the sake of the planet they believe, based on evidence available, that we may be the last people to walk this Earth. 

For the sake of the world at this time, we need a new direction. Nothing is more important for you to do in your American lives than to get out and vote. What possible plausible reason can you give for not attending to this civic responsibility? Please, vote.