Pussified

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It’s my birthday! I woke up with my element this morning, the wind blowing all around the house, and because I have the day off, I stayed cuddled into my bed for a while and sang that lovely Cat Stevens song:

“I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul. …

I let my music take me where my heart wants to go.”

Tonight, I’ll have some very lovely people over for a small birthday gathering, and I’m all a-tingle looking forward to that.To pass the time, I thought I’d look back over the year since my 46th.

Last year, I’d just started feeling again and was sheer drowning in a tidal wave of the sludge that accumulates in a soul which isn’t cleansed and aired and celebrated for years. It was horrible, but necessary. In the 12 months since, I’ve experienced healing, joy, strengthening, and then injury and the associated lessons.

Mostly, the lesson has been that there’s a price to pay for the abuse I’ve put myself through, both in terms of my soul and my body. That I need to take things slowly and be very, very good to myself for a very, very long time in order to fully heal. That’s what I’m doing now. It’s also a lesson in patience, which I’m not exactly famous for possessing!

Today, I focus on how far I’ve come already. My life is so wonderful right now, with just the right kind of people coming into it and the right kind of experiences unfolding! Here are my plans for the coming year. I will:

  • continue the work of re-connecting with old friends and further connecting with the new ones. This will involve some travel, starting in April when I’ll got to Germany for a little longer than usual to see, not only my dad, but also two of my oldest and dearest friends.
  • further heal and strengthen my body. One of my goals is to attend at least two field archery shoots outside my own club’s. I have three years to go to my middle-term goal of being in top shape and looking my best at 50 (and from there, maintain that for at least 25 years, and then see if I can still improve on it!).
  • take my Coaching business to the next level, overcome my fear of visibility and actually do the work. I’m currently creating a program on “Wild Money” which will be launched soon, and if you want to give me a birthday present, it really really helps if you Like my Facebook page and spread the word.
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At the range in Massbrook woods last month

So what’s going on in my life right now? Huge discoveries, actually. I’m once again bowled over at the impact books can have, and how they often tie in with my life. The more open and connected I am, the more I draw books into my life which exactly match the outside world and are exactly what I need to learn at the time.

Number One is the incredible, absolutely revolutionary, making-sense-of-my-life with one, bright illuminating flash of light Pussy – a reclamation by the amazing Regena Thomashauer (Mama Gena). In fact, its impact is so massive that I think I may require every woman I talk to, to have read this book in future (it wouldn’t go amiss if men read it, too). Basically, it connects women’s power back to their actual pussy – yep – and to the principle of pleasure and enjoyment in every part of their lives. Funny, isn’t it, that I’ve just arrived at the conclusion that joy and our passions, that which lights us up, is not a luxury but central to life, and based my Coaching around that?

The other one I haven’t finished yet: Upper Limit by Gay Hendricks. Only just reading the first chapter made the penny drop. It’s without exaggeration the key to all unhappiness and lack of success in the world, on a personal and more global level. Absolutely mind-blowing and yet sooooo simple! After my birthday, I’ll dive in and finish it, and by the gods, will I put this into practice.

And now I’m off to finish a cake! Have a wonderful time, my dear tribe, this is a time of new beginnings and things are germinating all around. It’s a time of hope. Be a part of it.

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What A Year!

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The high plain where I greeted the rising sun on Solstice morning

It’s become fashionable on Social Media to post about how bad a year was when it’s drawing to an end. This year, it’s particularly poignant, with people honing in on worrying political developments and celebrity deaths in 2016.

Granted, some very popular people died this year – David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, now George Michael, to name but a few. But the truth is that people die all the time. For me personally, the recent deaths of well-known people which affected me the most, all happened in 2015: Chris Squire most of all (I won’t write about it now or that’ll be all this entry is about), Terry Pratchett, and Lemmy.

I won’t go into political details here – those who know me, know my views, and this isn’t a news outlet – but the shift to the right in countries like the UK and the US didn’t just happen this year, it only manifested in rather concrete election/referendum results now after building up for years. Most of us didn’t want to believe it would actually get this bad, but the writing on the wall has been there all along.

These things are not what this post is about, though. No, I feel the need to share what 2016 meant for me on a personal level.

To spoil the conclusion: It was an incredible year. A year of re-awakening, of dreams coming true and others beginning to take shape on the horizon. A year of strengthening and growth, of ecstasy, joy, and passion. Of starry-eyedness and good sex and just the right dose of drama and hurt as well.

It was the year when I allowed myself to feel again.

At the end of each year, I review the goals I set on New Year’s Eve the previous year. I did that the other day and apart from one area (where I consciously chose to put a goal on hold for another while), I’ve reached every single goal. Some of them I completely blew out of the water. Life has a way of bowling me over, it just loves doing that. It’s part of our ongoing romance, and what keeps me hooked in a way I’ve never been permanently hooked by a human partner.

Here’s my review:

January

I started this year writing. My story was what brought me back to feeling my emotions. It was an intense and often sad time, but such a relief to be FEELING again. I’m proud to have finished the story (it’s the length of a novel), and it means the world to me.

February

The focus was my health, mainly by finding more foods I love and which are good for me, and beginning to strengthen my body. It was slow going but I stuck with it and saw some progress eventually.

March

This is when I started reaching out to what has become my archery club and my swordfighting club. In the last days of March, I started archery again and bought my bow. Almost instantly, I couldn’t believe I’d ever lived without shooting.

April

Finally started the longsword beginners’ course. Also participated in the Mayo Archery Club’s shoot after only two weeks of training, which was my first visit to Massbrook Woods, my favourite place in the whole world. So much happiness!

May

Life just kept unfolding like a fairytale. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. The uncontested highlight of the month was an enchanted weekend in London with my wonderful Inga.

June

Midsummer, new friends, a beautiful affair, all senses a-tingle. Love, love, love. More archery and swordfighting, too, and those luminous nights full of promise.

July

Finally, finally got my tattoo, went to the club’s tournament weekend in Clare and met the rest of the absolutely loveable people there. I felt like a sponge soaking up all the human connections that month, together with good music, ecstatic dancing, and more archery and swordfighting.

August

More re-connection with old friends, lots of love and some sexiness as well. I also looked for a new place to live and said good-bye to Mayo. And I broke my rib, which was a huge challenge as it prevented me from honouring that kinetic energy of mine.

September

Moved to Gort, with Inga over here to visit, feeling incredibly right about it in spite of leaving behind Mayo. Otherwise, challenges began to pile up: my rib was healing but I injured my forearm and the resulting tendonitis still plagues me to this day.

October

An echo of the state of withdrawal I’d been in before this year, which I fought but couldn’t quite escape for a while. At the same time, I still met new people around here and managed to keep up at least a minimum of physical exercise.

November

A fairly dark month. Struggling with the tendonitis and a general absence of wellness, whole-ness, which I tried to numb – the worst thing I could have done, really! I didn’t even go to Mayo for archery practice.

December

Back in bliss. It’s been a month of renewed feeling and a demonstration of how much has changed this year. I’m getting out, I’m doing the things I love (with the exception of swordfighting right now, but I’ll get that back!) and I get to spend time with friends.

And here I am. The solstice was a celebration of love and gratitude for 2016. I was off work on Solstice Eve and made the rounds of friends’ houses, dispensing hugs and (healthy) cookies, and then I went home to decorate the tree and have my ritual. As usual, I took the Christmas days for myself to close off the year and prepare for 2017, and now I’m looking forward to actually getting there!

This entry has become long already, so I’ll write about my plans next time. Until then, I hope you’re having the holidays you dreamed of and wish you a lovely start into 2017.

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Life-Saving Checklist

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People love stories like the one about my “coming back to life”. After being withdrawn and in a state of at least mild depression for over 5 years, I downsized my life and moved back West. I began to heal, wrote a novel-length story, and finally started to feel the full range of my emotions again. It was an uphill path, with lots of ugliness bubbling up, but also joy and ecstasy and love, so much love. Bathing in sensuality. Physical activity, kinetic energy – sheer bliss.

What’s not so sexy is the fact that life is rarely as straightforward and clean-cut. I wasn’t always in a state of depression over those years (after all I did my Coaching diploma during that time and those weekends of learning and practising were a blessing, full of insight and gentle touch of human souls). And when I came out of it all and started to grow stronger physically and get into shape again, as well as stabilising emotionally, it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there on in, either.

It began with my broken rib in August and got worse when I managed to get tendonitis in my forearms in mid September. I haven’t been able to hold, let alone swing, a sword or other weapon since – nothing heavier than a teacup, in fact. And it’s been eating away at me. I hardly worked out anymore and rarely danced. I didn’t keep in touch with newfound friends or those old friends I’d just re-connected with again. I ate crap that doesn’t do my body good, out of sheer frustration. And I noticed what was happening and tried to pull myself out, but only occasionally was I successful for a day or two.

The breakthrough came on Friday. You see, I’d known all this time that having pain in my forearms wasn’t really a reason not to dance. I also knew that my problems are in no way the end of the world. However, it’s not helpful if you already feel crap about yourself, to also feel like you are really bad at dealing with it. On Friday, I finally realised what the missing piece was: I’ve been feeling like I constantly had a slight cold for a while. I wake up every morning with a stuffy nose, I am exhausted all the time and could sleep nine hours a night (but rarely get more than seven, being in a semi-detached house with neighbours again). I feel bad and just, well, off, and have done since – wait for it – the last week of September. Co-incidence? I think not.

I can’t prove a connection, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that having a constant inflammation in my body – tendonitis – could have something to do with feeling feverish and groggy all the time. I concluded that it might be time to stop beating myself up about it and allow myself the rest I need to heal. I also resolved to finally do something about the tendonitis in a consistent fashion, so today I went to Galway and got a re-usable cold pack (frozen peas or ice cubes are nice, but not if you need an ice pack three times a day), an omega 3 supplement, and a bandage for the time when I’ll slowly start handling a sword again.

More importantly, I started crying and finally truly feeling my helpless desperation about being inactive, with its horrible similarity to the bad years. It hurts, but even that feels wonderful because I’m feeeeeeeeling! Almost instantly, all the bad food cravings and self-loathing fell away and the joy came through once again. I spent the rest of Friday dancing, and yesterday evening I went out despite not getting much sleep again, and ended up having a great time at a fundraiser dance for Haiti. I danced in my socks which felt amazing. All evening, I felt like a sponge soaking up all the wonderful human connection to real people, people who are alive and present. I had deep, funny, meaningful conversations with several people I know and others I’d just met, and hugs aplenty. When I drove home a good hour and a half after I’d meant to, all my senses were tingling, and the feeling hasn’t left me.

So, I’m back. Again. Apologies if it gets boring to read about it; I assure you, there’s nothing boring about repeatedly living it! And I thought, after experiencing how the state of being cut off can sneak up on me, that I’d put together a list of things I need to watch out for.

  • Music. I’d all but stopped listening to “high-emotion music” in the past two months, music like early Marillion (probably the most raw, ravishingly emotional music I know).
  • Emotion. If I don’t cry, or laugh until my sides hurt, for a week, it’s a warning sign. I really need to remember this one, as it’s probably the most immediately recognisable red flag.
  • Sensuality. When I stop savouring vibrant whole foods, sighing with pleasure at the softness of my silly hideous Tesco slippers, or cuddle into my bed practically moaning with delight, there’s something amiss. Yes, I really do these things, all the time, at least when all’s well with me. It’s my “normal”. As is desire and sexuality, dance and movement. A prolonged absence of any of these things, means trouble

There will always be fluctuations, of course, times when I’m more intensely joyful and in love with life and with people, and that’s why it can be hard to recognise symptoms of deeper problems. Hence the list. It’s something I can refer back to in times of need.

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Exhausted. And happy.
For now, I’m deeply grateful that the veil has lifted once again. Life is so heart-wrenchingly beautiful. There are so many things I want to do and create and make happen. I floated through Galway today, getting instant radiant smiles from every last shop assistant and person I met, because I was just oozing with love. I don’t usually like big crowds, but today I purposely immersed myself, which works when I am not in any rush and not staying too long – a couple hours usually do it for me, at least on a pre-Christmas weekend day in the city!

I got the supplies to treat my tendonitis with, I bought a present for a friend who reached out to me over those difficult two months, and I bought myself a beautiful, soft black velvet tunic, just because. Then I drove home crying and laughing and singing along to “Clutching at Straws”.

Overflowing joy? Check. Explosive dancing? Check. Happy, silly, cuddly hag? Check, check, check. All’s well.

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Nine Years Of Love

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Before I say anything else: Did you know that you can subscribe to this blog? This means that you’ll get a quick email notification when I post a new entry (which usually happens somewhere between once a week and once a month). Your details are safe with me and I’ll never email you about anything else. Go on, fill in the short form here!

On to what I meant to tell you about. As some of you know, I’ve had a hard time with my budgies this past year and a half. After five years of bliss, with no bird ever sick for even a day, several of them died due to things I had no influence over – tumors, an incurable sickness one of them carried into the flock (it was dormant for years and broke out when he was under stress from losing his mate), old age. I was left with only two birds, one of whom was a young budgie who, as a chick, had had a horrible disease which left him unable to fly. Budgies who survive this disease are left infertile and generally weakened. Laeas’s sister Miko died at six months old, from a horrible tumor on her back.

I never told anyone – I honestly couldn’t deal with explaining it – but about a month ago, Laeas also developed a tumor, on his right wing. I recognised it immediately, and when it started growing, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t want to wait until it caused him pain, and since I don’t believe in surgery on budgies – it’s very risky on such a small organism, just consider that a budgie has about one spoonful of blood in his entire body – I got an appointment at the vet’s on Wednesday morning, who gently put him to sleep. I held him as he fell unconscious.

When he was gone, we had a look at him and found a second tumor under his other wing. The vet just looked at me and said: “You made the right decision.” It’s good to know but I still miss my Laeas so much, and what’s worse is that Tracey was left all alone, she who had known a flock all her life.

I couldn’t face going through it all again, so I asked around for anyone with an aviary or at least two other budgies, who could take my Tracey-girlie. But there is nobody. It convinced me more than ever that a sanctuary for pet birds is truly necessary in this country! I’ll keep looking for a new home for her, but I couldn’t leave her alone all this time, and so today, I went out and got a young male budgie. If I find them a new place, they’ll both go together. This is him in the picture above (and below). Meet Tino!

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Isn’t he a cutie? Tracey seems to think so, although he’s a little too in-your-face for her in his youthful enthusiasm, and she has been biting him, but not in a bad way. They are in their separate cages for now (I got a smaller cage for him that I’ll be able to use as a “hospital cage” and for transport in the future) but the doors are open and they’ve been flying through the room together. I think Tino is very good for Tracey, who never flew to the bookshelves or the wardrobe when Laeas was there, because he couldn’t follow her. Now she has an incentive to explore, and to move around more.

Looks like I’m going to have to get my act together and find a place to buy, and start my sanctuary. I’m going to have to get help to do this, because I want to stay mobile and be able to travel without worrying, and I’m going to need funds as well. But all in good time. This dream has been long in the making, and it’ll be another few years yet before it becomes reality.

What’s important now is that Tracey has company again, and both her and my heart will heal. We still miss our unquenchable, cheerful, mad hatter Laeas, but now that we can fall in love with Tino, things will be easier.

More pictures – and videos! – to follow!

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Tell Me Why / I Don’t Like…

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Nature art in Coole Park

… Halloween.

Before you start throwing things: I think it’s completely fine to enjoy Halloween, and all the dressing up and decorating and whatnot. I’m not one of those people who think something should be banned just because I don’t like it! I know a lot of people, including many pagan friends, who love this time of the year, and I love seeing my friends happy so I’m not going to complain.

What I am going to say is that the way old customs are watered down beyond recognition these days, doesn’t sit well with me. I feel the same discomfort around the way “goddess” seems to have become a general term for femininity and the names of ancient goddesses are thrown around carelessly by just about any unicorn-dust and fairy-wands wielding New Age enthusiast. I like the fact it empowers women, and people in general. I don’t like how most of them are clueless as to what powerful entities they are dealing with, and that magic isn’t just a word or a fun idea.

There is so much more to this. And to get back to the subject of Halloween, it’s essentially the christianised version of the old Samhain, one of the two times of the year when the veil between the worlds is particularly thin (the other being the eve of Bealtaine). We’re talking about a time when having your child stolen by the fairies and replaced by a soulless changeling was a very real fear. People put scary disguises on their kids to fool the fairies.

The transparency of the veil was also used to contact and commune with the dead. It’s a great night to honour our ancestors and to tell our beloved dead what we never got to tell them while they were still alive. It is this association with death which has been adopted by Christianity in the shape of All Hallows (31st October) and All Souls (1st of November). My Catholic mum used to take us to visit the graves of departed family members on the 1st of November, and one of my earliest childhood memories is the sight of a graveyard with “wind lights” (as they are called in German) on every grave, candles in red plastic cups to keep the wind from extinguishing them.

It was a cosy, quiet time, full of contemplation and mystery. Maybe that’s one reason why I dislike the loud, in-yer-face dressing up and partying on Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I have on occasion participated and enjoyed myself too. Two years ago I dressed up as a pirate for my then workplace and I had fun, but I remember the tons of decorations we pulled down weeks later, most of which were too damaged or worn out to be saved and reused. My costume has been in a box ever since. There is so much unnecessary waste produced and sold in the commercialisation of this holiday, it makes me no less uncomfortable than the overload of plastic Christmas decorations in the shops a few weeks later.

But enough with the grumpy hag now. I have stocked up on conventional chocolate for the trick-or-treaters tomorrow evening, and after that quietens down, I’ll have my Samhain ritual. I’ll be feasting on mead and apple pie, as this is one of two occasions in the year when I eat sugar. Come to think of it, a lot of things happen on Samhain and Bealtaine respectively for me, as they are also the two times of the year when I thoroughly clean my house (I try to keep it reasonably clean at all times, but on these two occasions I do the corners I never usually touch, like the insides of kitchen cupboards and the blinds on the windows).

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And I’ll prepare for the “dark weeks”, the time between now and the Winter Solstice when the light returns. That’s probably the main reason why I feel a little gloomy: I look ahead to the cold season and the discomfort I always feel then, and just wish I could fast-forward to spring. Ah well, all things in balance, right? At least I’ll celebrate and make the most of it.

To top it all off, I’ll go up to Massbrook on my day off Tuesday for some archery, complete with lunch at my favourite cafe in Ballinrobe along the way. And whatever you may get up to, I wish you a blessed Samhain!

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Non-Violent Martial Arts Hag?

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Picture by Harald Hoellrigl
Woah, what happened to the “blogging regularly” thing? It’s not that I don’t want to share, or don’t have anything to tell you, there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day sometimes! Tonight I’m finally reaching out again.

The moon is full and I feel all twitchy from all the energy flowing through me. One of the things which happened since my last blog post is that I’ve arrived in Gort safely and love my new home, although having a wall-to-wall neighbour once again is as challenging as it has always been for me, as in, I have trouble sleeping (although they are awfully nice and are really trying to be quiet!).

What I was going to say is, the moon shines into my new bedroom window and it’s the best thing ever. I have blinds, which I keep tilted just enough to allow me to see Her in the sky whenever it’s not too cloudy. And then I lie there in my heavenly comfortable bed, all cuddled up and warm and with Her gentle light on my face, magic pulsing through me. I love it so much!

Gort is lovely in other ways as well: I’m that much closer to many people I know and have already had more visitors in my first month here than I had in an entire year in Ballinrobe. Coming here was definitely the right thing to do! I also have Coole Park right next door, one of the central places of the Celtic Revival around the likes of Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats, and the first thing I did on my first morning here was visit the park and admire the famous signature tree with my wonderful Inga, who had come over to help me move in (because I had a broken rib. Yes, that happened too in the nearly two months since the last blog post!):

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I’m definitely going to write more about my new home and what’s been going on, but my main subject today is something I’ve been sitting on for a while, so to speak. It concerns the way people seem to be confused about how I can describe myself as a non-violent pacifist and anti-militarist whilst practising historical martial arts and field archery. Why, I’m glad you asked!

Before I proceed to share my views, though, I will answer the other question, the unspoken one: How can a peace-loving hippy like me have friends who are in the military, or hunt live animals? Simple, because of tolerance. None of my “military friends” are in their respective country’s army for reasons of power gain; they are there because they believe in things like honour and responsibility. These are values I share. We may disagree in our approach, but the underlying values are the same, and therefore tolerance allows us to be friends. In other words, I don’t expect all the world to agree with me on life choices, but I do expect those I call friends to be decent people – and they are.

Now as for me… You might know that I am an omnivore but I tend towards veganism. In practice, I eat about 80% vegan food, about 15% ovo-lacto (meaning about once or twice a week) and 5% meat (once or twice a month). So I don’t judge anyone, I just reserve the right to eat what makes my own body happy and energetic.

At the same time, I practice archery on 3D plastic targets, which have a circle called the “kill” roughly where the heart would be in a real animal. So you could say that I practice how to kill. I do this first of all because it’s way more fun crawling through the forest and kneeling down, shooting near and far, up- and downhill instead of the ever-same distance at the ever-same targets the way olympic archers do. But I also do it because to me, it makes sense to learn how to kill an animal if my choice not to do so is to carry any actual meaning. If I have no clue how to kill, it’s easy to say that I won’t – it’s like the tale of the sour grapes. Learning the skill makes non-violence an actual choice.

It’s similar with my practice of martial arts. Simply put, what we’re practising there is based on old training manuals used for people who went to war, who learned to kill others in order to stay alive. Now I don’t really expect to ever use these in an actual combat situation but it’s a good feeling to develop strength and skills, especially as a woman living on my own. Even if the best defence in a real-life situation would still be running away, it feels good and gives me confidence to get some experience in fighting and defending myself.

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Picture by Caroline Walsh

Again: If I know how to hurt someone, I can make a real choice to stay non-violent. It won’t just be the default option because I couldn’t defend myself anyway. See the difference?

It might not make sense to everyone, but it’s important to me. Call me a weird hag.

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Where My Soul Originates

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Mayo

One of Ireland’s best-kept secrets is that it’s actually MORE beautiful in bad weather. Much as I – and everyone else here – grumbles about it, something about the deep grey of the sky brings out the colours of the landscape, most particularly the many shades of green here in the West. They look like they are illuminated from within when it’s overcast.

I meant to go shooting today, but the forecast showers had turned into incessant, lashing rain by the time I arrived in the North of Mayo. I spent some time with Harry, picking up a few new arrows and bits and bobs, and then decided to do a good-bye tour through my county, although it is a bit silly really – after all I’m not moving to Tibet or Africa next month but only a county away (no, I still don’t have anything definite, but there will be a decision in the next few days). My eyes teared up anyway on a few occasions, and I’m sorry but I didn’t photograph the most breathtaking views along the journey, mostly because I couldn’t stop the car on the small country roads.

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Horses and sheep on a hillside

Mayo is heart-wrenchingly gorgeous. I love all of the West, but the likes of Clare have a more sweet, “tame” kind of beauty. Mayo is rough and wild with its stark, bare brown hills and windswept coastline. It’s the county of Grace O’Malley (if you don’t know who that was, look her up. Do it. I’ll wait here). Parts of it look like they could be on the moon, like a wide plain of not much of anything, that I drove past today. Others are dramatic, lush, and green. There are loughs so huge they have waves almost like the sea, there are forests and streams, and especially in the North-West, the sea intrudes everywhere.

Something happens to me in Mayo. It happens more in some places than others, for example the stretch of road between Castlebar and Pontoon, which is never as beautiful as it is in August with the heather blooming. It’s where I suddenly hear the wind whispering: “This. This is where you belong.” Every time, without fail, from the first time I set foot here over 27 years ago. Don’t even bother asking, I have nothing resembling a rational explanation, only a bone-deep knowledge:

This is where my soul originates.

I’ve always gone to Mayo to heal. At 21, I was heartbroken by the end of a relationship with someone I’d loved very much. I got sick with bronchitis and the cough settled in my chest and wouldn’t budge even two months later. I knew what I needed to do but I was a broke university student and so I begged life for 1,000 DM (German Marks). The next day, I got a letter about a student job completed two months earlier, that I had forgotten about. It contained the pay: 1,018 DM.

A week later I was on a plane, and then I stayed in a youth hostel on the North coast of Mayo as their only guest (it was March) and walked 4-5 hours every day, in the rain and wind, to the rocky beach in my wellies and wax jacket. I found a small cave which wasn’t flooded when the tide was out, and there I’d sit reading Lord of the Rings. After four days, I forgot to cough. A week later, I had recovered completely, and left to travel the county some more.

You may remember me writing that I was coming here to heal, last year when I moved to Ballinrobe. And did I ever! My life is completely unrecognisable, and so is my health. Therefore, much as it hurts to admit, there might be a reason why I can’t stay now.

I can absolutely see myself living here when I’m old, a weird hag gloriously on her own, wandering amongst the trees and talking to birds. It’ll be brilliant. One day! But, as Aragorn put it, it is not this day. My soul may originate in Mayo, but my tribe (new people I’ve connected with recently, as well as some older friends) are in Galway, Clare, and Tipperary. I have so much life to live yet, people to love, and love some more, songs to sing, swords to swing, dances to dance, and conversations to have. That’s why I’m leaving. I hope I’ll end up not too far away, but in any case I’ll come back to shoot in Massbrook Woods as often as I can.

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Windswept hag!

Not being able to shoot today made me grumpy at first, but then it turned out to be a perfect afternoon surrounded by all this beauty. Eventually I stopped in Newport and fled from the rain into a gorgeous, cosy craft shop / cafe where I met a wise, beautiful soul. We ended up talking for ages, discovering so many things we have in common (Amanda, if you read this: Your shop really IS magic. When I stepped outside, the sun was shining, and my Googlemaps started working again, haha!).

I drove home smiling.

 

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Free Fallin’…

I have so much to tell you, I don’t know where to start! Life continues to pour its abundance over me in every conceivable good and bad way, it’s overwhelming, scary as shit, and I’m enjoying it waaaaay too much. Right now, the feeling is particularly intense because my hayfever is finally on the decline and I feel like an escaped convict. My head is clearing, I’m once again coherent, and I have more energy than I know what to do with!

I also got a tattoo last week, and because it’s on my left forearm I decided to refrain from shooting my bow until it was healed. I got incredibly grumpy and couldn’t figure out why, until I realised the other day that these 1 1/2 weeks are the longest time I’ve gone without picking up my bow since starting archery again in April. I went straight into the garden and remedied this… oh gods, the bliss! There’s something so sensual about the smooth, living wood under my hands and the whole fluidity of shooting. I can’t describe it – try it out if you haven’t already, you’ll see how utterly addictive it is.

I’ll go to our club’s range in Massbrook Woods later today for a bit of shooting. I’ve got to use the time I still have here in Mayo, because the thing I hinted at in my last entry is the fact that the house I’m currently renting is being sold (after I spent so much money on furnishing it only last year), and I’ll have to move out by 5th September. The rents have gone through the roof over the past 12 months, so by rights I should be worried and sad – I do love Ballinrobe – but in actual fact I’m giddy with excitement. I’m in love with change and insecurity, and now I get to make another change and nobody can accuse me of being flaky and inconsistent because I can point my finger and say: “It wasn’t me! THEY MADE ME!” I love it. I’m also absolutely certain that something perfect will come along.

About the video in the header of this post: Last weekend, my swordfighting club met up for three days of fundraising, tournaments, and workshops in the middle of absolutely nowhere in County Clare. It was insane amounts of fun! Still a beginner myself, I made myself useful by donating some food and helping sell it for the fundraiser, and also filming practically every fight. I’m very proud of the resulting video, check it out and let me know what you think.

The most remarkable thing about the weekend was all the amazing people I met. You see, the first thirty-something years of my life I was used to being surrounded by folks I could relate to. I have a lot of interests so it’s usually easy to find something I have in common with whoever I’m talking to. But then came the horrible years and me withdrawing from everyone. I’ve reconnected with many old friends by now, but I no longer take wonderful people for granted.

To meet several who are into any combination of practically everything I love – be it music, archery, swordfighting, sustainable living, books, paganism – that was just overwhelming and made me slightly drunk with happiness. I wanted to hug the world, which wasn’t quite appropriate with people I’d just met, haha, but fortunately the people I was staying with have a lovely cat and another couple brought their puppy to the event itself, so I got plenty of cuddles from the furballs.

I got to talk about swordfighting and archery all weekend without anyone falling asleep with boredom. It was sheer bliss! I’m still starry-eyed.

One of the reasons why my impending homelessness is a blessing is that it gives me the chance to move closer to where I actually know people. I’ve recently connected to a number of lovely pagans in the midwest, Shane is in Tipperary, and now there’s the club in Galway and Clare as well, so I’ll probably end up at least a little further South. Just as long as it’s still in the West, and within a reasonable distance to my magic town Galway, I’ll be happy.

I may have something in the pipeline already, but I don’t want to jinx it by writing about it now. Keep your fingers crossed! I’ll post pictures as soon as anything is settled.

P.S. Hopefully Tom Petty will forgive me for stealing his song title.

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Kinetic Energy

New Toys detail

I’m getting my ass kicked these days, oh boy. I’m being reminded of the fact that I dedicated myself to Life unconditionally eleven years ago, and I suspect it delights in these reminders. You will notice I haven’t been blogging in a while, and that’s because some weeks ago, life decided to pull out rugs from under my feet, yes, plural, and I was reeling and crying and trying to cling on to anything, anyone – and nobody was there, that’s the worst part.

Whenever things get really tough, we’re on our own. Isn’t that so true?

The thing is, it’s part of the deal. I am still happy. There is ALSO sadness, grief, and loss. It’s not things “going wrong”. It’s the deal. Functioning as an agent of change also means that I get hurt fairly regularly. When it happens, I curse it and wish I could return the gift, because it’s, frankly, awful, and it doesn’t get any easier or less painful through the years. However, I have been me for 46 years and I know that a. I have a 100% track record of surviving these things and b. it’s all happening for the highest good of everyone involved (even if I don’t believe it right now).

Life does look after me, but it does so in its usual blunt way.

One of the “rugs” being pulled was Ray announcing he might give up the Village. Those of you who’ve known me for a while, will know what a huge factor the Village online community has been in my life (about 50% of the people close to my heart, I met through the Village; my own spiritual development leaped forward in my first years there; to name but a few things). I’ve been away from the Village for six years, so I’m in too much of a glasshouse to throw any stones, but to hear this bit of news just when I’d found my way home, was devastating.

Right now it looks like the community might pull through, but we do need more members. People who won’t just sign up but spend some time there once or twice a week and actually participate in conversations. If you don’t know how forums work, they are open places where everyone can jump into any topic and add their two cents to it. There’s no “but I don’t know these people, what will they think?” going on; as long as people are respectful, everybody’s invited.

So if you read this and are pagan, get thee over to http://www.ipagan.org/cottage/, sign up, wait until you’re approved, and then bookmark the page and start posting. You’re welcome.

The last weeks have also reminded me that I promised myself I’d never stop feeling again. The crap IS worth it. And I’m finding my happiness again, especially since something else happened – which I’m not quite ready to share publicly yet – which looks like another calamity at first glance but which I’m actually fairly excited about. Don’t worry, I will share it, perhaps as early as next week. I am still determined to find a more regular blogging rhythm again!

In the meantime, I deal with all the emotional storms in the tried-and-tested hagish way: by dancing. You see, I have come to finally, fully realise that my energy is indeed kinetic. What I mean by that is that I’m most completely me when I’m in motion. It’s why there are so few good photos of me – I’m just not suited to being frozen in stillness. Video me and I start coming across as authentically me.

The tragic thing is that because of my weird hip bones which make me so stiff in the back, I’ve been ridiculed so much growing up that I had this image of myself being “bad at sports”. It’s taken me most of my life to move past that and discover that not only do I “like” moving, it’s actually the ESSENCE of my being. Kinetic energy. Motion. To be quite honest, now is the first time in my life that I really, truly live according to this principle, apart from maybe the years in Austria where I walked 1-3 hours in nature every day. Now, I dance, shoot, swing around my sword, spear, and axe, do yoga or aerobics, and am happy. So, so happy.

This relates to something I mentioned in the last blog entry: The observation that junk food and things like wheat and dairy make me sluggish to the point of dropping off. Recently, I’ve been feeling exhausted because of my hayfever. This made me crave food that’s bad for me more than usual (I usually keep it to a few times a month), and in turn I was getting even MORE tired. Last week, I finally gave in to it. And gods, was I miserable! Thankfully, the season of the pollen I’m allergic to (grass) is drawing to an end, and so I’m resurfacing now, I eat the gorgeous food which fuels me and I move again. I’m determined to be back to my full workout intensity by next week.

This is not about “being good”, it’s about doing what makes me feel alive, living my own truest nature, expressing my Self. Will the real Sibylle please stand up! Everything else is not “indulging” or “being good to myself”, it’s thinly disguised self-sabotage and I’m not ready to tolerate that any longer, from anybody – including myself.

Hugs are still very welcome…

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My Big “Secret”?

Old Head

I spent most of Sunday by the coast in wonderful company. Even my hayfever behaved  this close to the sea!

I’ve made a funny observation. When things are dramatic and heavy, there’s usually no lack of conversation – people will leave comments on my blog post and really step up to help me. But when I post that I’m happy out, there’s often nothing at all, or very little.

I adore my tribe for being so incredibly supportive – you guys are zee best – but at the same time I think, shouldn’t we be talking MORE about happiness? Share the bliss, add our own, or simply bask a little in the warmth of another if our own is lacking at the moment (as mine has done plenty of times…)?

I’m writing this partly because I expect to be posting a lot of happy entries yet. Right now I’m probably the happiest I’ve been; my life is exactly how I want it, and my only challenge is to keep finding goals to strive for lest I get complacent. And when I look back to where I was only five months ago, I’m in awe and so deeply grateful I want to drop to my knees and kiss the ground that carries me.

People have asked me how I managed to pull myself out of depression, being sick and constantly exhausted as well as slightly overweight, to being active and healthy and blissfully happy within four months or so. I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t really know the answer, or whether there even is just one answer. I believe it may be a combination of several things:

1. Not pushing myself. I started off so gently, I just know the majority of people would scoff if they could see it, and tell me that’s no way to get in shape. Most days I did about five minutes of gentle Yoga stretches (from http://www.gaia.com – they rock!), as I couldn’t keep up even moderate exercise for any amount of time. Many days I didn’t do anything, as I was too tired.

And thus, bit by bit, I clawed my way back, and in such a short time it still astonishes me, I was doing half-hour aerobics workouts and short but intense Yoga sessions of 15-25 minutes, as well as intense dance sessions. Then came archery, and then the swordfighting, and by now I’m happy to push myself because my body can take it. I have a loooooong way to go yet, but the worst is behind me – now that I’m “in motion”, nothing will stop me. I went from never wanting to get up off my chair, to someone who has real problems sitting down for any length of time. Yes, four months.

2. Food. I’ve left behind all “should”s and “must”s and the warring factions of food ideology and radically follow what my body tells me. One piece of advice I did implement was the statement that we only need about 1/3 of the calories most people consume, and I find that it’s doing me incredibly good to eat far less. This is not about starving myself, mind you – especially with physical activity, it’s important to nourish the body, so the key is to consume foods with a high nutritional density.

I’m nowhere near perfect, I believe food is a sensual pleasure and should be enjoyed, and I do still eat greasy chips or pizza. But I’ve made an interesting observation: Junk food makes me tired to the point of dropping off to sleep, almost instantly. And I’d rather feel bouncy and full of energy, so I listen to my body and mostly eat stuff that makes me feel great. Mostly – again, I don’t strive for perfection.

Food

In practice, this works out at about 85% vegan food which I love most of all. The sheer explosion of flavour of an organic carrot with hoummous, oh my… and Magic Mayan Chocolate… yum! I mostly avoid wheat and rye because they tend to upset my gut, but I do eat them sometimes. About 15% of my diet is dairy and eggs (about once or twice a week), and about 5% meat (once or twice a month). I feel wonderful and have lost ALL the weight I’d put on since 2010, without effort – and now my body naturally maintains the weight. I like it, and I’ll keep it up for as long as it keeps making me feel so good.

3. Theta waves. I can’t explain how it works, but I know there is some science behind it. Theta waves can’t actually be perceived by the human ear, so people have created “binaural beat” tracks, so the Theta waves are created in the space between. Or something, haha. The point is, I’d heard they “re-arrange” your brain and since I’ll try anything, I looked up a track on YouTube and have been listening to a good hour of Theta Waves per day since.

A few days after starting this, the veil lifted and my happiness came through. It was just like the clouds breaking up and letting the sunshine through… exactly like it, in fact. I felt so light I wanted to laugh and sing all day. That’s when I started feeling my emotions again, in January, and with the happiness came a lot of heavy shit at first – there’s no light without shadow – but by now, the light outweighs the shadow by far, far, far, and I credit the Theta Waves for most of this.

This is the track I listen to every day, with headphones (apparently this works only with headphones). If you’d prefer the pure Binaural Beat without music around it, try this one instead.

4. Radically doing what I want. I started by writing a novel-length story, just for myself. Creative work is so therapeutic! I’m also doing a whole lot of nothing at all. I have given myself so much leeway lately. I’ve been slacking on re-launching my Coaching business (getting going now, in fact – finally!) and I refuse to feel guilty about it. I’ve always needed a lot of time and space to process my emotions, and there are a lot of emotions going around at the moment! I welcome all of it, it’s such bliss to feeeeeeeeeel! And yes, I get put through the wringer at times. It’s all good.

Every day, I consciously radiate love to everyone I know, and I make a point of reaching out to people in my life. I’ve been withdrawn for so long, I still need to remind myself sometimes! I have this vision of bathing all the world including myself in love and affection, and appreciation. It’s a state of constant bliss.

When I feel my vibration lowering, I usually do something physical, dancing mostly, or shooting my bow, or swinging around my sword or axe. Twenty minutes later, I’m back in bliss. It really is that simple.

 

All right, this has become very long – I hope it wasn’t too boring to read! Midsummer is almost here, and I’m going to write about that too, but in the next entry. The energy is incredible right now, a Waxing Moon which is going to be full right on Solstice Day (Monday), and in spite of hayfever I’ve managed to spend some time outdoors lately.

Sending you all so much love!

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